In which I am reliably informed both parties are the same

There is a thing that I’ve been saying lately, which is that whenever Republicans get into the White House they tend to staff the various federal departments with people whose entire lives have existed in contrary to the mission of that department. Betsy DeVos, who has worked to destroy public education for her entire life, became Secretary of Education, for example. Oil execs get put in charge of the environment. Even in cases where a Republican might actually be an acceptable public servant in one role– I have no reason to believe Ben Carson would have been a terrible Surgeon General, for example– they get put into roles that do not actually match their skill sets, like HUD.

I’ve asked several times for the Internet to provide me with even a single example of a Democrat putting, say, a lifelong pacifist in charge of the Defense Department or something similar, and never once have they come through for me. But hey! Biden’s entire Cabinet is, like, right there! And, granted, none of them have been officially confirmed yet, and so it’s entirely possible some things might change, but let’s take a quick look (a quick look; I don’t have all day) at these folks and see if any of them appear to be painfully unsuited for office:

NAME: Anthony Blinken
POSITION: Secretary of State
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Looks like he’s been deputy Secretary of State, Deputy NSA Advisor, and Biden’s own NSA advisor. He passes.

NAME: Janet Yellen
POSITION: Secretary of the Treasury
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Chair of the Federal Reserve, Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve, Member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Pass!

NAME: Lloyd Austin
POSITION: Secretary of Defense
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Retired four-star general, former CENTCOM commander. Pass.

NAME: Merrick Garland
POSITION: Attorney General
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I don’t even need to look this one up: experienced lawdog, former Supreme Court nominee, the guy who sent Timothy McVeigh to jail. Pass.

NAME: Deb Haaland
POSITION: Secretary of the Interior
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Elected official, Vice-Chair of the Committee on National Resources while in the House. I don’t really know what the Secretary of the Interior does but this sounds good.

NAME: Tom Vilsack
POSITION: Secretary of Agriculture
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I assume anyone from Iowa can do this job. Next!

NAME: Gina Raimondo
POSITION: Secretary of Commerce
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Governor of Rhode Island, General Treasurer of Rhode Island, and according to Wikipedia a former venture capitalist. Has a degree from Harvard in economics. Pass!

NAME: Marty Walsh
POSITION: Secretary of Labor
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Former Mayor of Boston and member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Former union president, former head of the Boston Building Trades. Pass.

NAME: Xavier Becerra
POSITION: Secretary of Health and Human Services
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Previous AG of California, former House representative. Econ degree from Stanford. I admit I don’t see anything that screams HHS to me but I’m not a hundred percent what would.

Are we starting to see a trend here? But these are just the topline folks, let’s keep going. Surely we’ll find an anarchist or a pacifist or a felon or something in here somewhere.

NAME: Marcia Fudge
POSITION: Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Another “solid public servant” sort of nomination; Fudge was in the House and is a former mayor. She was born and raised in Cleveland and appears to still live there– the city she was mayor of is an East Side suburb– so I’m going to go out on a limb and assume some competence with urban issues.

NAME: Pete Buttigieg
POSITION: Secretary of Transportation
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Used to be my mayor. Once nearly got killed by an inattentive driver while jaywalking. Uh … rearranged a lot of streets downtown while mayor in a way that actually did really improve downtown? (Important note: there are no longer any one-way streets downtown, which means the scenario I describe in that link is no longer possible.) I dunno, he’ll do fine, and he’s not, like, opposed to the concept of transportation or something like that.

NAME: Jennifer Granholm
POSITION: Secretary of Energy
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Former Attorney General and Governor of Michigan; again, I admit there’s nothing in her bio that screams “Secretary of Energy,” but she hasn’t spent her entire career trying to shut down power plants and force us to go back to fire or anything like that. Wikipedia notes that her nomination was “received favourably among major energy experts,” and spelled “favourably” exactly like that. Does not appear to be a slave of the oil industry or anything like that, either.

NAME: Miguel Cardona
POSITION: Secretary of Education
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: First SecEd nominee in two administrations who I didn’t think was literally Satan (remember, I think Obama was shit on education too,) so he has to be a step up. Literally anyone would be a step up over DeVos.

NAME: Denis McDonough
POSITION: Secretary of Veterans Affairs
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: White House Chief of Staff, Deputy NSA, graduated from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. Curiously, does not appear to be an actual military veteran. That’s kind of shaky, but the rest of his resume is solid.

NAME: Alejandro Mayorkas
POSITION: Secretary of Homeland Security
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Former Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, so … yep. We’re good here.

NAME: Ron Klain
POSITION: Chief of Staff
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: The Chief of Staff is a Cabinet member? Sure, fine, he can have whoever he wants here.

NAME: Michael Regan
POSITION: EPA Administrator
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, worked for the EPA during the Bush and Clinton administrations, regional director for the Environmental Defense fund. Note that his predecessor in this role was a coal lobbyist. He passes.

NAME: Neera Tanden
POSITION: Office of Management and Budget Director
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Neera’s been all over the place, and appears to be an asshole of the My Kind of Asshole variety, but has experience at the Center for American Progress, helped to draft Obamacare, and was Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s policy director during their presidential runs. All good.

NAME: Katherine Tai
POSITION: U.S. Trade Representative
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: She’s the chief trade counsel for the House Ways and Means committee, so this is another “I’m not sure what you do, but yeah, that sounds good” nominee.

NAME: Isabel Guzman
POSITION: Small Business Administrator
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Appears to have previously had basically this exact job for the state of California, which is, what, a third of the US economy? She’ll do fine.

NAME: Avril Haines
POSITION: National Intelligence Director
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Deputy NSA under Obama, former Deputy Director of the CIA. All good.

NAME: Linda Thomas-Greenfield
POSITION: UN Ambassador
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I kind of assume anybody can be an ambassador, because it tends to be a “donated a lot of money and wants patronage now” sort of job, but she was the assistant SoS for African Affairs and the Director General of the foreign service, and has been an ambassador to Liberia, so again, yeah, sounds great.

NAME: Cecilia Rouse
POSITION: Chair of Council of Economic Advisers
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I mean … she’s an economist? Dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs? She’s fucking FIVE YEARS YOUNGER THAN ME?? Christ.

NAME: John Kerry
POSITION: Special Presidential Envoy for Climate
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I mean, he was Secretary of State. John’s gotta have some kind of job, that ketchup money isn’t gonna last forever.

NAME: Eric Lander
POSITION: Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I said on Twitter the other day, and I wasn’t joking, that the first Republican nominee to this office would be an illiterate Pentecostal preacher. This is a new Cabinet-level position created by Biden, and the guy he’s tapped for the job is a mathematician and geneticist and somehow is a professor at MIT and Harvard at the same God damned time and yeah I think he’ll do just fine.

So, what was the worst I was able to find? A few people with reasonably solid resumes whose experience didn’t seem precisely suited to the position they were nominated for based on a cursory Wikipedia search. A whole lot of people with lots of experience that is directly related to the position they were nominated for. And Pete Buttigieg. Who will do just fine, I’m sure; I’m kidding. Now, I’m not claiming these are all good people, or that they’ll all be good at their jobs; some of them may not actually take their offices, some won’t last long, one or two will end up getting fired; hell, one or two may end up getting indicted, who knows. But there’s no one on this list where you look at them and immediately know that their actual job is to sabotage the department they’ve been nominated to head and keep it from doing anyone else any good.

Funny how that works.

A very brief Congressional explainer

I’ve seen a fair number of people who are confused about what the hell the House is doing right now. To be clear, I am very very far from being an expert, and it’s possible that I’m going to get some details incorrect in this, but I think I’ve got the basic gist, and if anybody sees any outright errors, please put them in comments and I’ll amend the post.

My current understanding is that Pelosi has brought the House back into session today and has already asked for unanimous consent to bring a bill to the floor calling on the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment. That unanimous consent has been denied, and therefore there will be a vote by the House on the bill tomorrow. Pence will be given 24 hours to do the right thing and then impeachment proceedings will begin.

I’ve seen a lot of people asking why they have to wait so long, and why they can’t vote on the bill today. That is, in fact, exactly what they asked for unanimous consent on. You cannot introduce a bill and vote on it on the same day; that’s been a rule for several years now, and it’s a rule that makes good sense– remember, a lot of the bills passed can be hundreds of pages long and complicated, so it makes sense to give people enough time to read the final version of the bill before they vote on it. Now, of course, you don’t need a full day to read a two-page resolution, but the rule still stands. The House can break their own rules with unanimous consent— in other words, if no House member disagrees with breaking the rule, a rule can be broken. But since they didn’t get that unanimous consent– the Republicans blocked it– they have to go to a full vote, and therefore have to wait until tomorrow, when the resolution will most assuredly pass.

Now, in theory, and at least as far as I know, they could also formally introduce the impeachment article or articles (more than one Congressperson has announced that they’re working on them, and I’m not sure who wrote the final text) today, and then again, in theory and as far as I know, they could vote on them or at least get the process started on Tuesday. They’re waiting an extra day to give Pence his 24 hours basically as a strategic measure, which … well, you can decide on your own whether that’s a good idea or not, given that Mitch McConnell has refused to bring the Senate back into session before the 19th. The resolution on Pence is something the House can do on its own. Impeachment is not. The only way to get that done any faster is if, oh, say, Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski were to agree to caucus with the Democrats for a while, giving them the majority immediately and making Chuck Schumer the Majority Leader. Otherwise, the Dem majority doesn’t actually kick in until Kamala Harris is Vice-President.

(EDIT: It does look like the impeachment articles have been formally introduced.)

(Don’t ask me what happens if Pence does invoke the 25th. I don’t even know if there are rules for that, or whether Pence is for-real President or acting President or what if the Beast is removed via that method. I have no idea who casts tie breaking votes in the Senate under those circumstances, but it definitely wouldn’t be Harris before the 20th, so it probably doesn’t actually matter.)

(I’m also not sure exactly how the 14th Amendment applies to all of this– I know the Senate and the House can expel their own members, and they’ve used this power in the past, but I have no idea how the law works regarding declaring that someone cannot run for office again. I’ll look into it.)

Anyway, hopefully this is helpful, and again– I’m not an expert, so if you see something I’m wrong about, let me know.

In which I turn a tweet into a post

Who’s the dumbest Democratic elected official, at a national level? Meaning, like, either a member of the national government or a high enough state or city-level official that people who don’t live there might have heard of them?

I’m either back on my bullshit or still on my bullshit, depending on how long you’ve been around here, and I have (like many of you) grown increasingly impatient with stupid Republican arguments. The person in the White House is still insisting, as recently as today, that America is having more coronavirus infections on a daily basis than some countries have had in total because we have more testing. A recently elected Republican Senator announced this morning that America fought in World War II to preserve Europe from the horrors of socialism. And enough Republicans have confidently asserted something about masks that was utterly horseshit or pointed at a mostly-red electoral map of America recently and smugly declared that they don’t understand how the Democrats could possibly when when so much of America votes red that I really don’t feel the need to point to a specific example. It literally happens multiple times a day.

There has got to be a similar Democratic equivalent. There’s got to be. Like, this has got to be my bubble working against me. There are dumb Democrats, I know there are, because Democrats are people and people are dumb. By definition, there must therefore be some really dumb elected Democrats. I’m not asking for stupid on the level of the numbskull that just lost his job, or any of the various no-exaggeration brain-damaged Qanon morons they just put in office. Just regular, run-of-the-mill, that’s a dumb guy dumb guys.

Like, Biden is probably the dumbest person I’ve ever voted for for President, but the only reason that can be true is his competition. When you’re being compared to Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Al Gore and John Kerry (himself probably the least of that group), it’s gonna be really hard to come off as intellectually impressive. On any kind of remotely objective scale, he’s at least high-average, I think.

The funny thing is that I think if I asked Republicans who the dumbest elected Democrat was, I’d probably take their answer as evidence that they themselves were pretty fucking stupid. I suspect it’d be Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, frankly, and I don’t know how many times this woman has to run rings around Republicans before they admit she’s smarter than most of them. That’s only something they go after her for because of sexism, racism, and ageism; she’s a young woman of color so she can’t be smart.

Seriously. I want to know. Who’s the Mike Pence of the Democratic party?

In which I endorse, 2020 edition

Early voting begins in Indiana tomorrow. I will very likely vote this week, although I don’t think it’s super likely that I will do it tomorrow, as I figure that there are more likely to be lines tomorrow than there will be on, say, Wednesday or Thursday. Lines are To Be Avoided.

Therefore, my 2020 endorsements:

Some of these are obvious! You shall vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for President and Vice-President, respectively, and you shall enjoy doing so quite thoroughly. In general, you should probably just cast a straight Democratic ticket, but I want to write this post anyway so I’m gonna do it.

Indiana has a Governor’s race, but no Senate races this year. I will be voting for Woody Myers and Linda Lawson for governor. Probably. I may actually leave this one blank, and I’m deliberately not using the word “endorse” here, because Myers’ campaign has been utterly invisible, and honestly I have no particular reason to be annoyed with Holcomb beyond several things that are generic to Republicans and not specific to him. He will crush Myers. It’s going to be embarrassing. I have trouble voting for someone who did such a poor job of campaigning that I had to look up his name in October.

I enthusiastically endorse Pat Hackett for Congress from IN-02. My current Congresscritter is loathsome; I actually wrote Pat’s name in in 2018 because another Republican somehow stole the Democratic nomination and proved to be so noxious that I refused to vote for him. She demolished him; turns out that people who want to vote for Republicans are more likely to vote for Republicans than they are for Republicans who are pretending to be Democrats. I haven’t seen any useful polling and don’t have any idea how much of a chance Pat actually has but I would be deliriously happy to have her in Congress. I’ve been making weekly donations to her campaign for months. I’m really crossing my fingers for this one.

I will vote for the Democrats for any state legislative seats that are available and I won’t bother finding out their names beforehand.

In terms of more local offices, in the St. Joseph County Commissioner’s race for my district I endorse Oliver Davis, who I know personally and like quite a bit, over Derek Dieter, who I do not know and also think is a sexist asshole. The last time I mentioned him on this site his campaign manager tried to start shit with me on Facebook; I’m almost hoping they try it again.

I may be forced to break not one but two of my rules for the coroner’s race. First, I don’t vote for Republicans, and second, I don’t vote for coroner. I’ve typically skipped this race because I have no idea why the hell the coroner’s race would be an elective office. However! Patricia Jordan used to be my actual doctor, and I was quite fond of her. Insofar as I don’t see why this is an elected office, I’m even less clear on why it might be a partisan office, and as such I’ll probably end up voting for Dr. Jordan.

Finally, the School Board At-Large race: I endorse John Anella and Rudy Monterrosa, both current members of the Board, and of the two I endorse Monterrosa quite a bit more strongly than Anella. That said, you choose two candidates from a field of six, so that’s who I’m voting for. I know Jeannette McCullough and actively do not want her on the Board, and I know nothing of the other three, so this is a pretty easy choice.

Also, I don’t get a say in this because I’m not in the district, but I endorse Leslie Wesley for the District 3 School Board seat. I am not a huge fan of Ms. Wesley, particularly as she’s not been voting correctly regarding our recent school closing and reopening decisions, but Bill Sniadecki, who she ran against and defeated four years ago, is trying to slither back onto the Board again and he needs to be prevented from doing so.

(The previous paragraph is rescinded. See here for details.)

(Oh, and I almost forgot: there are six or so retention votes for judges on the ballot. I am not going to pretend that I did exhaustive research here, but I looked briefly into all six of them and no obvious red flags presented themselves. I typically do not vote one way or another on judges unless I’m given a reason to have a strong opinion, and unless someone shows me something I missed, right now I do not.)


Best piece of news I’ve had in a while?

Hell yes.

Now announce that Obama is going to be the first pick for SCOTUS.