Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Boring Democrats, Always Solving Problems and Shit


Image via Nikkei Asia.

Thought I was somewhere back in the 80s yesterday as the stock indexes crashed and soared out of "uncertainty" over inflation, ostensibly, though in fact over the cure for inflation, which includes the Federal Reserve Bank ticking up interest rates. Of course in the mid-80s the federal funds rate was running around 7 or 8%, occasionally higher, and had recently gone as high as 19%, during the Volcker shocks, while now it's effectively zero, with plans to get it up to 0.75% or even 1.0% in the course of the year (those plans could be changing at this very moment, as I type, as the governors are in the first day of their two-day meeting, but it's not considered likely). 

One percent isn't exactly a nightmare, is it?

I found myself wondering about the actual issues that are causing price hikes, the Covid-caused international supply chain breakage and labor shortage, and what the Biden administration is doing about them. Leading up to Christmas, there was a profusion of news coverage of how, basically, Santa's sleigh was stuck on the freeway and everybody's holiday was going to be wrecked by the failure, and how badly the government was handling it, and how the public wasn't impressed (and horserace gossip: when Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg informed the nation in late November that $17 billion had been allocated to keeping the ports working around the clock and other measures, the media coverage was all about the stupid question of whether "Mayor Pete" might challenge Kamala Harris for the vice presidency). And then, after Biden announced on 22 December that, in fact, the toys had all arrived on time, the discussion kind of went quiet.

It took me three or four pages of Google results to get to some circumstantiated coverage, in a pretty unexpected source, Iowa Starting Line (Your Home for Iowa Politics)

The Biden administration on Wednesday [19 January] announced a major effort to address supply chain backlogs caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The federal government released $14 billion to the US Army Corps of Engineers to fund 500 projects, which will make it easier to transport goods, allow the passage of larger ships, and expand capacity at key ports, according to a White House fact sheet.

Also in the same report legislation in the House to do various reforms in the shipping industry to free up movement of goods, introduced by Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA), which is probably how the story ended up on an Iowa site. Good for her! Show her some love, if you can, and give her some publicity!

But the story of the big Biden initiative, now almost a week old, still hasn't really shown up in the mainstream news sources (a quick Google search finds it's been on ABC and CBS but not in New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, MSNBC, Politico or Axios, or, like, anywhere people go), and lots of people think the interest rate thing is the only thing the administration is doing about inflation. I guess the political reporters think it's boring. That's why Democrats don't get a break.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Stupid analogies department


Sorry, this is kind of childish.

What on earth is going on at The Times? Their attitude toward the Biden presidency is getting downright venomous, as in this latest "Political Memo" by the Times's Nate Silver ersatz, Nate Cohn:

Biden as a New F.D.R.? Try L.B.J.

The president’s agenda — big progressive change — has placed Democratic priorities over the voters’ desire for practical help on the pandemic and inflation.

Venomous and dumb! It's peculiar enough to start with this dichotomy between Johnson as (bad) "progressive" grinding his ideological axe in the people's faces vs. Roosevelt as (good) "centrist" just doing the practical stuff people wanted, as if Roosevelt had done all his planning on the basis of those stupid "most important issue" polls instead of gathering his Brain Trust during the campaign from the most systematically leftist thinking going on at the time outside the actual socialist parties, to design a huge and transformative program of social insurance, regulation of banking and securities industries, and strictly socialist public works programs, based on stringent structural analysis of the economy and ideas for remodeling it through central government planning. Has Cohn ever read a book about the New Deal?

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Marco Rubio's Caramel Macchiato

I don't actually do avocado toast at breakfast, because I'm on a three-year yogurt-and-granola binge, and when I take a break from yogurt-and-granola I kind of need bacon, while the rhythm of avocado buying leaves me helplessly making guacamole but really? There's something objectionable in avocado toast? Photo via.

Avocado Toast

By Senator Marco Rubio

Last week, the Vice President of the United States told us that a riot which happened here at the U.S. Capitol last year was equal to the day on which Japan attacked us at Pearl Harbor and the U.S. was pulled into a world war that took the lives of 3% of the world's population.

Actually, vice president Harris did not say that. She said,

Certain dates echo throughout history, including dates that instantly remind all who have lived through them where they were, and what they were doing, when our democracy came under assault. Dates that occupy not only a place on our calendars, but a place in our collective memory: December 7th, 1941, September 11th, 2001, and January 6th, 2021.  
That does sound like a suggestion that the 6 January date might "live in infamy", like December 7th and 9/11, and I could add November 22 (after the killing of President John F, Kennedy), or for that matter 8 December 1980 (after the murder of John Lennon), one of the dates you always remember. That is not the same thing. The 9/11 terrorist attack did not lead to the deaths of 3% of the world's population, for instance, but that doesn't mean we don't remember it. Neither did the Pearl Harbor attack, for that matter; the deaths of 3% of the world's population probably go back to 1 September 1939 and the invasion of Poland, which most of us don't remember at all, though we probably should. 

Monday, January 17, 2022

The Lord works in mysterious ways

A piece on Dr. King's theology from this time six years ago holds up well, I think.  

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in Panama, in keeping with our annual custom of running a picture of Dr. King in a hat. Via Relaford Club.

Let's not leave the long Martin Luther King Day weekend without our annual tribute visit to the Bizarro Dr. King who usually surfaces in the rightwing media around this time of the year, who if he had been alive would certainly have disapproved of the #BlackLivesMatter movement because they are the "sons and daughters of Stokely Carmichael and, to some extent, even Huey P. Newton" (former moderately good detective novelist Roger L. Simon, via Shakezula), and of the ongoing imaginary War on Police (Fox & Friends, via David at C&L); and Donald Trump, at the Dr. King tributes at Liberty University in the appropriately named Lynchburg, VA., praised the size of the crowd that came to see him as

an honor in terms of Martin Luther King," Trump said. "We're dedicating the record to the late, great Martin Luther King." Trump made no other mention of the civil rights leader.

In my usual stomping grounds at the National Review they haven't been able to come up with anything new this year, but they reran a piece by Lee Habeeb from January 2013:

Saturday, January 15, 2022

So what is it to you?

It is my birthday, shared, as some of you know, not only with Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr., but also Intellectual Dank Web philosopher Benjamin "Ben" Shapiro.

I was deeply gratified by this, from a friend:

Friday, January 14, 2022

Seditious Conspiracy


Virginian Oath Keeper Thomas Caldwell, 67, has denied he was in the building, but the FBI seems to know better.

This is really great news for those who have been worried about the Justice Department approach to 6 January investigations and the apparent focus over the whole past year in its 725 arrests on the misbehavior inside the Capitol on the day itself, and seeming failure to see the conspiratorial context, stretching back to the 2020 election and the existence of a leadership, going very high up, in the neighborhood of Donald J. Trump himself. I mostly felt pretty confident Attorney General Garland was conducting it on the classic model of a mob investigation, doing an exhaustive job on the soldiers and pressing as many of them as possible into cooperation agreements before moving upwards to the leadership and the plan. With the long-awaited arrest of Stewart Rhodes and the charge of seditious conspiracy

Thursday, January 13, 2022


Jeff Darcy, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 28 October 2021.


Beating out the perpetually "concerned" Senator Collins in the adjective competition, Senator Sinema is actually  "alarmed", but she's not going to let that spoil her appetite:

Pre-empting a presidential visit to the Capitol to meet privately with Democrats, Ms. Sinema took to the floor to say that while she backed two new voting rights measures and was alarmed about new voting restrictions in some states, she believed that a unilateral Democratic move to weaken the filibuster would only foster growing political division.

“These bills help treat the symptoms of the disease, but they do not fully address the disease itself,” Ms. Sinema said. “And while I continue to support these bills, I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country.”

And "disappointed" too! Collins never imagined being disappointed, that's pretty original!