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2020 Vice Presidential Debate: In the Land of the Shoshone

This post is dedicated to discussion of the Vice Presidential debate between current VP Mike Pence and Democratic VP candidate Senator Kamala Harris.

The debate is scheduled to begin at 9:00 PM ET and will take place in the Nancy Peery Marriott Auditorium at the University of Utah’s Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah.

University of Utah’s efforts to prevent the dispersion of the candidates’ aerosolized exhalations — particularly those of Pence who has been in contact with infected persons within the last week — are absolutely laughable, evident in this photo of the stage (via NBC):

Harris had asked for a plexiglass partition between the candidates which the Commission on Presidential Debates approved though not without complaint by Team Pence. What the Commission furnished is a joke, clearing the candidates’ heads by no more than 18″.

Check-out clerks at major grocery store chains and banks have more protection than this.

I’m crossing my fingers that Harris’s people have reached out to SC Senate candidate Jaime Harrison to see if they could borrow the folding plexiglass screen he used when debating Lindsey Graham.

Or found a mask with a built-in mic (why hasn’t this become a thing?) so that she has more protection but is still audible.

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Like the three Presidential debates, this event is booked in a red state venue. None of the events organized by the allegedly nonpartisan, nonprofit Commission on Presidential Debates is scheduled for a blue state.

Partisan bias could well explain the casual attitude toward infection control.

Utah’s state nickname is the Gateway to the West, but Native Americans know this is land taken from Ute, Paiute, and Shoshone tribes. Though some of the state falls under sketchy treaties, Salt Lake City itself is unceded land of the Northwestern Shoshone. Let’s hope this is recognized at some point during the evening.

USA Today’s Susan Page is the scheduled moderator, who has a conflict of interest:

… A potential conflict of interest has arisen in the vice-presidential debate. In late 2018, moderator Susan Page hosted a party in honor of Mike Pence’s protégé Seema Verma, who runs the Medicare and Medicaid programs for the Trump administration. As New York’s Ed Kilgore notes, the controversy centers on “whether a working journalist at Page’s level who has been hobnobbing with Mike Pence’s best-known associate in the Trump administration ought to be moderating his debate with Kamala Harris.” …

And in spite of the hubbub which arose when this conflict of interest was identified, Page and USA Today have refused to do anything about it — apparently there are no other journalists at USA Today covering the presidential race who are free of conflicts…? Or COVID-negative?

Sure hope it comes up in the debate that Mike Pence has had to return to DC when Air Force 2 was turned around mid-flight on its way to or from New Hampshire not once but twice in the last 18 months.

Has any journalist confirmed it was Air Force 2 hitting a bird which caused Pence to turn around on September 22 and not something else? Or did they leave it to Pence’s communications people to explain this?

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Add these two dates to your calendar for the remaining two presidential debates — if Trump is healthy enough to participate:

Thursday 15-OCT-2020
9:00–10:30 p.m. ET
Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts
Miami, Florida
Moderator: Steve Scully, C-SPAN

Thursday 22-OCT-2020
8:00–9:30 p.m. ET
Curb Event Center at Belmont University
Nashville, Tennessee
Moderator: Kristen Welker, NBC

I’m not holding my breath for these.

Tuesday: Open to Debate

This is an open thread for use during and after this evening’s vice presidential debate. Duke it out here, though comment policy is still in effect.

thetimesuk_foreignworkers_04oct2016The one thing which really got under my collar today: UK’s Prime Minister Theresa May and Home Secretary Amber Rudd, and a demand to shame companies employing foreign workers by insisting these workers must be listed.

This is beyond the pale, just short of asking for badges denoting religion. I hope the financial industry takes a stick to these fascists.

“But, but the foreigners! Taking (white’s) jobs!” one may say. Right — all those financial industry jobs in London for which the UK does not seem to be educating and training enough people.  Healthcare jobs likewise, while the NHS is under pressure to cut services and reduce spending.

The answer to the lack of job opportunities for the under-educated and under-trained isn’t limiting immigrants. It’s more investment in education and training to increase the pipeline to higher paying jobs, combined with a higher minimum wage to encourage movement to jobs requiring lower skills.

Okay, have at it.

Corporations Are People, and Beans Are People, But Healthy Women Are Not People

Contrary to just about everyone, I liked the way Martha Raddatz asked the abortion question in last night’s debate, because it gave Joe Biden an opportunity to point out how Paul Ryan ignores the entire social justice aspect of Catholicism. [Note, this was not included in the official transcript, but it appears after Ryan says he takes issue with the Church.]

You have, on the issue of Catholic social doctrine, taken issue.

Moreover, it elicited a really weird effort from Ryan to pretend that his anti-choice stance stems from both science and dogmatic Catholicism. He did so by recalling the ultrasound where he first saw his now-daughter in the form of a bean.

RYAN: Now, you want to ask basically why I’m pro-life? It’s not simply because of my Catholic faith. That’s a factor, of course. But it’s also because of reason and science.

You know, I think about 10 1/2 years ago, my wife Janna and I went to Mercy Hospital in Janesville where I was born, for our seven week ultrasound for our firstborn child, and we saw that heartbeat. A little baby was in the shape of a bean. And to this day, we have nicknamed our firstborn child Liza, “Bean.” Now I believe that life begins at conception.

Ryan saw what he himself implies was a bean with a heartbeat, and called it human life. That’s his basis in “science” for the belief that beans should have almost the same legal status as women who carry them in utero.

Ryan went on to claim he respects people who disagree that life begins at bean-hood and invoked the Romney current stated policy of retaining exceptions for rape, incest, and the life (but not health) of the mother.

That’s why – those are the reasons why I’m pro-life. Now I understand this is a difficult issue, and I respect people who don’t agree with me on this, but the policy of a Romney administration will be to oppose abortions with the exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother.

Biden responded by saying he accepts the Church’s teaching, but would not impose that teaching on women who may believe something else.

Life begins at conception in the church’s judgment. I accept it in my personal life.

But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews, and I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here, the – the congressman. I – I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people that – women they can’t control their body. It’s a decision between them and their doctor.

He then went onto call Ryan on his own stated belief that abortion should be illegal even in the case of rape, showing that Ryan does not, in fact, “respect those who disagree” with him on abortion.

Now with regard to the way in which the – we differ, my friend says that he – well I guess he accepts Governor Romney’s position now, because in the past he has argued that there was – there’s rape and forcible rape. He’s argued that in the case of rape or incest, it was still – it would be a crime to engage in having an abortion. I just fundamentally disagree with my friend.

And this boy wonder, this guy who believes that life begins at bean-hood, this guy who the pundits claim is so smart, responded to Biden’s provocation, admitting that he does indeed believe it’s a crime for a woman to remove a bean a criminal implanted in her uterus.

All I’m saying is, if you believe that life begins at conception, that, therefore, doesn’t change the definition of life. That’s a principle.

You see, with the Romney-Ryan ticket, it’s not just corporations that should enjoy the same legal status women do. It’s beans too.

That’s a principle, you see.