Picking up the pieces
It would appear that the battle lines are being drawn in the GOP. Trump's statement yesterday, made his position clear, as the campaign begins with Mitch McConnell for the future of the party.
Trump said "Mitch is a dour, sullen and unsmiling political hack and if Republican senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again.", he said the party "can never again be respected or strong" with leaders such as Mr McConnell, describing him as having a "lack of political insight, wisdom, skill and personality". The full statement can be found here. It is a typical Trump character assassination and is clearly a response to McConnell's statement following Trump's impeachment acquittal. It doesn't really tell us more than we already know. Vengeance is still the key driver for the former guy. In my view, it's a brave man that takes on McConnell in a political arena. He does nothing without having given his actions very careful thought. His statement, as good as said that Trump was guilty and this has clearly angered Trump.
I was trying to think why this even matters and then I got to thinking that over the last 4 years, all the media was thrown were scraps from the propaganda table. The fact that he had thrown a few insults at McConnell was a big story. REALLY? Mitch McConnell has the skin of a Rhino (not RINO). It will take a lot more than that to upset Mitch.
The Trump hate legacy tragically lives on and I feel it important that I shine a light on the ever growing incidence of assaults on Asian Americans. Trump's 'Kung Flu' and 'China Virus' slurs were just political support triggers to him, but to the Asian American community it was the beginning of a overt campaign of hate and intimidation. It breaks my heart to think that these assaults have now risen to the level of murder. Many times I have said that Trump unlocked the cage to let the racist underbelly out to play. This behaviour is abhorrent and destroys lives. Asian Americans make a huge contribution to the US economy and to their communities. They lead the list in median household income at $98,174 so anyone who doubts their work ethic, or contribution to the wealth of the nation should think again. Thugs don't consider that do they? They just feed off fear of the 'outsider' drip fed to them by the former president and his supporters. The Administration in my view, must take steps to address this problem, it's becoming an epidemic of violence, leaving families living in fear and devastated by loss.
Let's move on shall we? Here in the UK today, one of our key talk radio shows was discussing the power issues in Texas. How bizarre is that you might say? Well the reason it's a big deal, is the show topic was about how we in the UK would feel, if an elected politician said to his or her constituents, 'stop moaning and deal with it yourself' in response to a natural emergency. This is a completely alien concept to UK voters. If any local authority or government representative spoke to them in the way these Republican diehards have spoken, there would be public outrage and resignations would have to follow.
To hear Governor Abbott try and spin the catastrophic failure of governance into a political ad against the green new deal was 'interesting'. Aside from being ludicrous, it represents an utter failure of leadership. It reflects a failure of emergency planning and brings into question any preparedness for a major climate event. Even putting aside deregulation to boost profit, lack of emergency planning, almost always results in loss of life. Although no big deal was made of it, the president issued an emergency declaration on 14 February. He wasted no time in providing help, it didn't involve any consideration that it was a red state. He didn't ask the state to beg for help or require anything in return. There was no fanfare to announce the assistance. It was done and it was done quickly. That is the definition of real leadership.
In conclusion, regardless of whether Texas is a blue state or a red state there can be no excuse for failure when it comes to public safety. People are dying as a result of gross incompetence and there can be absolutely no excuse for that. Politicians since time began, have mastered the art of ass covering and blame deflection. It is down to the good people of Texas to decide in governor Abbott and his colleagues are fit for office. There is no question, that the power company has some serious questions to answer, but that will require and investigation. In the event of this type of failure of service, it is surely the responsibility of state government to step in with help, whilst a federal response can be fired up. It appears to me, that this is a failure to winterise infrastructure. If this was a cost based decision, then those that made the decision should face gross negligence charges.
Moving back to politics, it's easy to get wrapped up in the GOP civil war, my advice to you is step away and just keep a distant eye on it. The main focus right now is vaccinations, vaccinations, vaccinations. This is the key to fire up the economic engine of the nation. I am really disappointed by some media coverage that suggests the new administration is moving too slow. I have great respect for the free press and I know they have spent four years being depicted as the 'enemy of the people', but can we please stay objective. Vaccines are a moving target and the administration has moved heaven and earth to streamline supply and distribution.
The Johnson & Johnson problems with delayed production is not the responsibility of the administration. Planning and logistics relies on supply and if you have problems with supply, then it affects the endpoint delivery. In just four weeks, the effort made to better federalise some key elements of vaccine delivery, is nothing short of astounding. Transparency has been the name of the game and I admire the administration being able to stand up and say, sorry but due to some supply or manufacturing issue the timetable is slipping. It seems that admission of problems is regarded by the media as failure. It is NOT, so please consider the impact of negative press. I am in no way suggesting the press back away from legitimate concerns, I am merely saying, give due respect to the reality of the situation the administration find themselves in. They inherited a disaster and in four weeks, they have turned things around and developed a strategy that not only moves this mission critical objective forward, but provides a blueprint for the future. Take it from me, Covid 19 is NOT a one off.
One of the striking things about the new administration, believe it or not and I can't believe I'm saying it, is NORMALITY. No jaunts to the golf course or other joyrides. We all have our failings and I'm sure Joe Biden is no exception. The good news is, he's not averse to apologising for mistakes made and learning from errors. However, I put to you, that he is a man of deep humanity and he is working every hour of the day to dig America out of a hole not of his making. He knows that the American Rescue Plan, will provide the required grease to prime the economic engine. He knows he will have to do a little trimming to get it passed, but I suspect all that has been factored into his calculations. Leadership as I have said before, is built on trust. Biden's Town Hall event yesterday went a long way to cementing that trust with the American people. I thought he dealt with the opening of schools well, by admitting there had been a messaging mistake by his communications team and laying out his plans clearly. One of the highlights of the event, was Joe's conversation with 8 year old Layla about children and Covid 19. That exchange tells you who he is right there. Of course it was an ahhh moment, but it was much more that that, it was a reassertion of his compassion, decency and willingness to engage. Great societies are built on these values.
What I was impressed with, was the way he dealt with the cancellation of student debt. I have discussed this before and said that in the current circumstances, I feel that student debt cancellation is a very divisive subject. I appreciate that I come to this from a position of not having student debt, but I do have thoughts on it. I believe that student debt is a major issue for many people and I in no way want to diminish the pain that people are suffering as a result of student loans. Student loan debt in the United States totals around $1.71 trillion and grows 6 times faster than the nation's economy. 45.3 million student borrowers are in debt by an average of $37,691 each. The 42.9 million Americans with federal student loan debt each owe an average $36,510 for their federal loans. (stats from education data.org)
It has become a commodity element of education and that is fundamentally wrong. However that bird has flown now, so we have to deal with what we have. I'm not going to do a deep dive on it right now, because it deserves a whole post of its own. What I will say, is that in the current economic climate, it does not make economic sense. I love that Biden just came out and said 'I won't be doing that' in response to a question requesting $50,000 of debt forgiveness. I am aware that Chuck Schumer and a number of progressive Democrats are all in on student debt cancellation. Of course it's possible, but it would come at a huge cost and the cost to benefit ratio simply does not add up at this time. Should there be a detailed look at student loans, absolutely there should and I think $10,000 of forgiveness does not come without significant cost, but goes some way to indicate intent. I do recognise you may have very different feelings if right now, you are weighed down by student debt. Biden's ambition for free community college, would represent a significant step forward and at a cost of $9 billion, I think it represents a great public investment, that can be the beginning of a conversation about education reform.
I intend to spend a little more time tomorrow on the Town Hall, because I think there were some very interesting takeaways from it. I think the words that stick in my mind were 'For four years, all that's been in the news is Trump, I want to make the next four years about the American people.' That should tell you everything you need to hear. I say it here every day, but breathe easy my friends, steady progress is being made.