It’s Juneteenth. It’s a holiday. And most of the stories on DK today just may have been written in advance to address issues that, even if not “breaking news,” are important and ongoing issues of the week. But, unfortunately, the news has refused to stop and celebrate this new—but long deserved—federal holiday. So consider this your place to rage against the machine that just will not stop and take a moment to look at the past, hope for the future, and consider the present.
So … here are a few up-to-the-hour outrages that will surely get better coverage in the coming days.
A federal judge has decided the CDC can’t require cruise ships to enforce vaccination
As The Washington Post reports, U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday has ruled that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can’t enforce rules that were supposed to require cruise ships in Florida to demonstrate a 95% vaccination rate among passengers and crew. The ruling is being celebrated by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and state attorney general Ashley Moody who filed the lawsuit against the CDC. According to DeSantis, this shows that “the CDC has been wrong all along, and they knew it.” Though how the CDC was wrong, or what it was they knew, is apparently known only to those who are now convinced that Trump was “right” about everything during the pandemic.
While DeSantis and Moody are cheering and patting each other on the back, it’s not clear that this will actually make any difference. That’s because the cruise industry liked the CDC ruling. The industry is well aware that in light of the Diamond Princess and other COVID-riddled cruises at the start of the outbreak (as well as 1,001 stories of cruise ships overrun with norovirus-fueled digestive nightmares), they are often at the top of the “Things I Won’t Do in a Pandemic” list. It’s likely that the cruise lines will continue to require vaccination, no matter what DeSantis says. Also, the CDC was already in the process of relaxing its rules, and appeared set to reduce them still further.
So, while the headlines may be trumpeting this as if it means something, it doesn’t seem that it will affect anything on the ground — except for being another jewel in DeSantis’ “stands up to health science” crown. And in case you’re wondering, the judge was not a Trump appointee. He’s a Bush appointee.
Republicans celebrate Juneteenth with ongoing assault on voting rights
As The New York Times reports, Republicans in Georgia are engaged in purging county election officials thanks to a new law that replaces rules that allowed both parties to select election officials, with one that allows the GOP majority to select all members of election boards. So, when the polling places are selected and votes are counted in 2022, both actions will be taken by Republicans. And only by Republicans. Even some Republicans have been booted from county boards in favor of replacements who will do these tasks correctly. Members of at least 10 county election boards have already been removed, that includes removing Black members in communities with high levels of Black voters.
That bill is just one of 216 bills in 41 states where Republicans are pushing to gain more power over local election officials. 24 of those bills have already been enacted into law. In addition, Republicans have stripped the power of Secretaries of State to conduct elections and made it easier for state legislatures to overturn the outcome of elections.
Of course, not all these bills are permanent. Republicans in Arizona have specially framed limits on the Sec. of State to remove authority from Democratic incumbent Katie Hobbs. That bill expires when she leaves. Don’t worry — Republicans will be standing by with another bill to remove all authority should another Democrat reach office. Not that this is likely, since they’re controlling every aspect of the election, as well as determining what constitutes a “legitimate” result.
Republicans aren’t stopping there. In Kansas, they stripped the election authority of the governor, Laura Kelly, who had the bad taste to be a Democrat. The legislature assumed direct control over all the election authority previously held by either the governor or the secretary of state.
And in case an election just doesn’t turn out to suit, Arkansas has empowered a new elections board (6 Republicans, 1 Democrat) to make “corrective actions” on any race, at any level, across every county in the state. So even the bluest district could find themselves with a Republican representative once some of those numbers get “corrected.” The Republican who authored the bill creating this situation said it had to be done, because Republicans couldn’t get a “fair shake.” Which is obvious from the way they control a massive majority in both state houses, as well as every statewide position. But they did lose one race, in one county. So clearly something had to be done.
Mike Pence greeted by screams of “traitor” at conservative conference
As the BBC reports, Mike Pence travelled down to Florida to speak before the Faith and Freedom Coalition in Orlando. But if Pence was expecting that his lifelong record of anti-LGBTQ and anti-woman positions would earn nothing praise from the assembled crowd, he forgot that he was in violation of the One Commandment (and no, that’s not “God needs booze!”).
Pence apparently thought he could come within a thousand miles of Mar-a-Lago without being called out for his unforgeable lapse in failing to kneecap democracy when he had the chance. But he got a good lesson from the members of that freedom-loving audience.
None of this stopped Pence from launching into a speech in which he praised Donald Trump.
It would be interesting to know how many in his audience were among those chanting “hang Mike Pence” on January 6.
And some very sad news.
“He was our constant, cherished companion during the last 13 years, and was adored by the entire Biden family.”