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Half On It?

What happens if the Senate ends in a 50/50 split?  

Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution specifies that the Vice President is the President of the Senate. The Vice President has no vote unless it is to break a tie. Therefore, if the Georgia Senate races lead to a 50-50 party split in the Senate, the Vice-President’s vote will give the majority to her party

But more practically how does it work? Let’s look at 4 months in 2001 during the Bush-Gore election.  Parties’ leaders, Republican Trent Lott (Miss.) and Democrat Tom Daschle (S.D.), negotiated a power-sharing agreement. They agreed to make Senate committee rosters evenly divided and provided an even split in staff resources. With then Vice President Cheney, as the tie breaker, Republicans retained the chairmanships and the ability to convene hearings. Also, Majority Leader Lott retained the power to schedule the floor calendar, including the ability to proceed to legislation that had received a tie vote in a committee. Additionally, there were 11 Senators who routinely worked across the aisle. So at the time it worked.

But it’s not 2001 and the idea of a power-sharing agreement between Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer (both have maintained their leadership positions) is almost laughable. However, they may not have a choice because if its 50-50, McConnell will want to deal to maintain some power and Schumer may do it because of “unity” or whatever.

Help Wanted! 

I cannot in good conscience recommend that anyone do this, but Royal Caribbean is looking for passengers to set sail on simulated voyages to test safety and health protocols. To sail out of a US port Royal will need CDC approval which requires that they test their health and safety protocols. They will need to conduct several trial cruises with employees and volunteers. 

These trips will include terminal check-in, onboard activities including dining and entertainment, and for some, private island shore excursions. For CDC approval, companies must also test evacuation procedures, isolation of passengers or crew with COVID-19, and quarantining of others on board.

Gotta, say this sounds like the opening scene of a horror movie. But to each their own.

It’s Time To Give Up The Goods

A Judge in Washington, D.C. told the federal government to hand over the small business loan recipients’ data. The Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has given out more than $525 Billion in loans. Up until now, there has been a fight at every turn to figure which companies received the money and how much they received. The Treasury Department originally declined to release the data saying that doing so would expose “proprietary information.”

In May, ProPublica, with several other news organizations, filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to obtain the information. Two months later, the SBA released information on 650,000 businesses that received loans in amounts between $150,000 and the maximum of $10 million. But this data only gave ranges and not specifics. 

Judge James Boasberg rejected the ideas that disclosure would violate the recipient’s privacy rights. He noted that that borrowers were informed on the loan application that such data could be revealed. Also, because the program is at significant risk of fraud, it would benefit from additional scrutiny. (In September, the Justice Department charged 57 people with violating the rules. )

“The significant public interest in shedding light on SBA’s administration of the PPP and EIDL program dramatically outweighs any limited private interest in nondisclosure.” Boasberg wrote.

The Judge has spoken. Let’s see who got paid!

Disney, A Little Sadder 

Disney is firing more workers.  In California, the park remains completely closed due to COVID-19. A month ago Disney laid off 28,000 workers, but now more layoffs are coming. The furloughs were announced in a letter to staff sent from Disneyland President Ken Potrock, yesterday. The exact number is unknown, the action, however, will include executives, as well as salaried and hourly employees.

Senator Elizabeth Warren has been very vocal about Disney. Last month, she called out Disney for putting shareholders over employees. Disney responded calling her “indictment that our past actions somehow weakened our financial cushion and our ability to retain and pay workers amid the pandemic is ill-considered and misleading.” Warren responded: “Disney won’t answer my questions because it has no good answers. The company said it was simply unfeasible to keep paying workers yet had no explanation for how it was feasible to restore senior executive pay.” Thus, the fight continues. I, for one, can’t wait to see what she says next.

Rejected Students Whine

Didn’t get into your dream school? Blame the Blacks. In a move that occurs every couple of years in higher education, Students of Fair Admission is suing UNC Chapel Hill. The case being heard this week before “U.S. District Judge Loretta C. Biggs, centers on an allegation that UNC’s flagship campus violates civil rights law by weighing race too heavily in its admissions decisions, favoring Black and Hispanic applicants over more qualified white and Asian-American candidates.”

This lawsuit is not unique. Students for Fair Admissions is a nonprofit group backed by conservative wannabe lawyer, Ed Blum. His organization was also behind an affirmative action lawsuit against the University of Texas at Austin that led to a Supreme Court decision backing the university, and a suit against Harvard University now awaiting an appellate court ruling. A federal district judge ruled in favor of Harvard in 2019.

Students for Fair Admissions said its analysis of UNC’s admissions data showed race and ethnicity were a “determinative” factor for many underrepresented minorities. I guess they are on the “I think I can” plan. They have tried similar arguments many times and they lost. In each of these lawsuits there are usually white students who didn’t get into the college of their choice and each time it was the fault of a black/brown student. They never say you let in less qualified white students over me. It’s always a minority student. It assumes that the spot was theirs and but for the race of another student, they would have been admitted. But you are OWED nothing. Admission to the school of your choice is NOT a birthright. Maybe you just weren’t UNC or Harvard material. Just go to another school, you know you applied to more than one.  

Blue Ivy Stays Winning

Blue Ivy at eight years old, has added book narration to her resume. She performed the audio version of Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry. Cherry’s children’s book/short film is about self-love, freedom of expression, and Black girl magic. It follows a father’s attempt to do his daughter’s natural hair for the first time. Cherry revealed Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s daughter narrated the book when he tweeted out a link and a seven-second clip with Blue Ivy introducing the story. Hair Love won the Oscar in 2020 for best animated short film.