Happy normal things!
Two big recent spending bills had a couple of neat provisions in them that we wouldn't want to go overlooked. The defense spending bill (NDAA) that Congress passed Friday by overriding Donald Trump's veto includes a significant measure to fight corruption, and the $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill that passed just before Christmas (and which Donald Trump eventually signed after being a dick about it) includes a hugely important provision restoring the ability for incarcerated people to get Pell grants while they're still serving their prison terms. Good government just might break out all over at this rate. (Fine, we'll take "might happen more than sporadically.")
Not a billionaire Amway heiress in sight.
Joe Biden made good on his campaign promise to name an actual teacher to lead the Department of Education. On Tuesday, Biden announced he'd picked Connecticut's education commissioner, Miguel Cardona, for the job, saying Cardona "understands that the deep roots of inequity that exist as a source of our persistent opportunities gaps. He understands the transformative power that comes from investing in education."
We'd just like to thank Biden for making it once more possible for us to type the phrase "Secretary of Education" without violently retching. Cardona seems like a hell of a good guy to clean away the mess created by Donald Trump's Ed secretary, Betsy DeVos, who seemed to consider public schools mostly a source of funding for her mission of privatizing education wherever possible.
Welcome to Obama's Dijon Mustard 2020, but shittier and all around grosser, if that is possible.
Following the foofaraw over Joseph Epstein's dumb Wall Street Journal op-ed arguing that Jill Biden — aka "kiddo" — should disavow being called "Dr. Biden" because she's not a medical doctor, the predictable pile-on in rightwing media continues. No longer content to lecture folks that only MD's can be doctors (because what if a doktor of rhetoric tried to do surgery?), we're now treated to a couple of culture wars gate-keepers who insist that not only is Jill Biden unworthy of the title "Dr.," she's not even qualified for her doctorate in education, because they skimmed her dissertation and it is TERRIBLE.
Mind you, the people making those claims are Fox News's Tucker Carlson, a millionaire frozen dinner heir, and the National Review's Kyle Smith, who used to review movies for the New York Post and has Opinions about sluts in modern fiction. Neither has an advanced degree, because those are for poseurs and elitists. Regardless, both are able to tell that Biden's dissertation, as Smith puts it, is "garbage."
Yr Dok Zoom found a copy of Biden's dissertation online, and while I've only skimmed parts of it, it didn't impress me as particularly barbarous. Could it be that both these dicks are cherry picking small issues and pronouncing the entire work useless? Gosh, what a completely expected bit of bad faith!
Four years of never reading the room.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos urged folks at the Education Department to "be the resistance" to the incoming Biden administration Tuesday, because apparently she thinks the department's career staff share her deep commitment to gutting public education in favor of private schools. Politico reports it obtained a recording of DeVos's remarks during a "department-wide virtual meeting" called to discuss the transition, telling workers,
Let me leave you with this plea: Resist. [...] Be the resistance against forces that will derail you from doing what's right for students. In everything you do, please put students first — always.
Apparently the Amway billionaire and advocate for privatizing education hopes members of the department will fight tooth and nail to continue her "support" of students through making sure they pay every penny of exorbitant loans, and don't fall victim to the evil lure of government funding for the first two years of public universities and community colleges. Good lord, that might mean young people won't be saddled with student debt forever, and might even start families and small businesses and stuff. And what kind of America would THAT be?