Reading Notes, News, Politics…

Heather Cox Richardson, December 16, 2021… a mixed bag today… Build Back Better Act has been shelved for the moment, due to the intransigence of Senator Manchin… voting rights has moved to the forefront and here again, Senator Manchin is a stumbling block… i believe Democracy is at stake and voting rights legislation is essential… there is no way to do it without amending the filibuster rule… Manchin is steadfastly against that so far… at the end, a bit about the Urghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which passed the Senate unanimously… the US pushing back on China for human rights violoations… polysilicon, used to make solar panels, will become scarcer as half the wolrd’s supply comes from Zinjiang from which the Biden administration is preventing all imports unless there is clear proof that slave labor wasn’t part of its production…

What’s Polluting the Air? Not Even the EPA Can Say… how the EPA fails to act even when receiving reports that indicate a huge toxic release problem… i wish i was not surprised…

The Most Detailed Map of Cancer-Causing Industrial Air Pollution in the US

The FDA Just Made Medication Abortions a Whole Lot Easier to Get… a step in the right direction, but, easily reversable by a future administration and:

Yet the change won’t mean a whole lot in much of the country. Nineteen states(https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/medication-abortion), including Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama (which recently introduced a “heartbeat bill” similar to Texas’) restrict the use of telemedicine for abortion. People across the South and the Midwest will have to travel to sanctuary states like California or New York for telemedicine appointments and to receive the medication. #abortion

Biden Administration Permanently Lifts Restrictions on Abortion Pills… an alternative take on the abortion pill story…

Manchin and Sinema Are Blocking Everything… it is so depressing… i am hoping that MJ is being overly dramatic, but the available evidence supports the doom and gloom scenario… Manchin and Sinema are currently blocking everything that would help most Democrats in the midterm, and, ultimately, 2024, since a disaster at midterm will prevent them from doing anything to make a case for their continuation in power in 2024…

Congressional Republicans Provide a Way Forward on Supply Chains… it takes pot shots at Democratic efforts but does offer what seem to be reasonable solutions… one thing that puzzles me is why the water transportation industry would favor regulation that makes it harder to expand port facilities and process larger ships?… this seems counterintuitive…

If We Don’t Get Inflation Under Control, It Could Unleash Some Dramatic Consequences

What i read today…

Letters from an American, December 8, 2021, Heather Cox Richardson… HCR is a daily read for me… her gathering of the important stories of the day into the beginnings of a historical record and then, often, placing them in historical context is very well done and tells me much of what i need to know… since she believes fervently in democracy, i would say she has a liberal bias, since conservatives, by and large, seem prepared to toss democracy out… today, HCR discusses Biden’s call with Putin and the considerable financial leverageu the US can organize if Russia invades Ukraine… she also updates us on the January 6th commissions efforts to compel testimony from former high level officials of 45’s administration and those officials efforts to resist… She notes that Fox News Channel personalities are:

echoing Russian talking points, saying that Putin is building up troops near Ukraine simply because he “wants to keep his western border secure.”

… she notes the $650K contributions made by Julie Fancelli, Publix grocery store chain heiress, to various organizations involved in staging the “Stop the Steal” event in Washington that led to the insurrection…

Fred Hiatt, the Washington Post, and America’s Moral and Political Seriousness, Benjamin Wittes, The Bulwark

… a tribute to Fred Hiatt and the editorial page of the Washington Post… i never read the post, but this piece makes me want to… FH has recently passed away and the author doesn’t know if the spirit of Meg Greenfield and Fred Hiatt will continue to dominate the production of the editorial page… if this tribute is even halfway accurate, and i have no reason to believe it isn’t, i hope Jeffrey Bezos and his management staff continue a proud tradition… this paragraph in particular struck me:

Sarah Longwell recently told a story about meeting me (Benjamin Wittes) and having no ability to identify my politics. This is an ethos I learned from Fred: discuss issues, discuss values, discuss policy, discuss facts, embrace complexity and don’t argue when others characterize your politics.

… this struck me because i, like the author, don’t play for a team… i remember in the run up to the last election that i was doing my best to share articles that i thought were good reads about important issues… i have made it a point to read publications from both ends of the political spectrum… a couple of times i was called out by team playing friends as participating in the circular firing squad of the Democratic party… i am liberal, i believe in democracy, but i am not a my party right or wrong person and never will be… in fact, listing myself as a democrat is so i can vote in primaries… the above paragraph also strikes me because it tells me how i must deal with the politics of M, which i view as derived solely from Fox News and Fox News personalities… so, i will need to do the hard work of discussing issues, values, policy and facts while embracing complexity and i will not argue when anyone tries to characterize my politics…

As Grifters Squabble, QAnon’s Bloodlust Gets More Open, Thomas Lecaque, The Bulwark… after reading this article it is not hard to imagine epic tragedy unfolding sometime over the next three or four years… QAnon may be the most crazy conspiracy theory going, but it has no corner on the market in murderous thinking and incitement… it appears the conspiracy situation is every bit as bad in Canada as it is here… which i have heard from people living there or with relatives there…

The New Puritans, Anne Applebaum, The Atlantic… i have for some years been wondering if we are heading into a period of illiberalness that could last for centuries… i look up Dark Ages and on Wikipedia, i discover that current scholarship eschews this descriptive title for the time following the collapse of the Roman Empire… so, illiberalism it is… this article is a harrowing read… i take it as another indication of where we are heading, and to someone with my liberal enlightenment view of the world, where we are heading is disturbing… more and more i feel there are mega trends that i, we, have no control over, that are shaping what we are heading into… i view what is described in this article as symptomatic of these mega trends… does it need to run its course?… is it reversible?… can we manage a transition to what it augers without intense suffering?… my answers would be probably, probably not and also, probably not… but i am hopeful that i am wrong on this last point…

Bias and Fact Check Ratings of The News Reporting and Analysis I Track

Bias ratings from Media Bias / Fact Check of the news publications i follow:

The Atlantic

Overall, we rate The Atlantic Left-Center Biased due to editorial positions and High for factual reporting based on excellent sourcing of information and a clean fact check record.

The Bulwark

Overall, we rate the Bulwark Right-Center Biased based on story selection and political affiliation that moderately favors the right. We also rate them High for factual reporting due to proper sourcing and a clean fact check record.

The Christian Science Monitor

Overall, we rate the Christian Science Monitor Least Biased based on balanced story selection and fair reporting coverage of both sides. Further, we rate them High for factual reporting due to proper sourcing of information and a clean fact check record.

The Economist

Overall, we rate The Economist Least Biased based on balanced reporting and High for factual reporting due to a clean fact check record.

Letters from an American, Heather Cox Richardson - there is no rating for this source on Media Bias Fact Check as she is not, technically, the media. Ms. Richardson is a history professor. She publishes six “letters” a week analyzing the news of the day and often putting that news in historical context. She is an ardent believer in Democracy which would, by itself, make her liberal in this climate. I suspect her liberal credentials run deeper than that.

Mother Jones

Overall, we rate Mother Jones strongly Left-Center biased based on story selection that moderately favors the left and High for factual reporting due to thorough sourcing and a clean fact check record.

The National Review1

Overall, we rate the National Review Right Biased based on story selection that always favors the right and Mostly Factual in reporting due to a few misleading claims and occasional use of poor sources, and one failed fact check.

Pro Publica

Overall, we rate ProPublica Left-Center biased based on story selection that favors the left and factually High due to proper sourcing and evidence-based reporting.

Reason Magazine

Overall, we rate Reason Magazine Right-Center biased based on story selection that favors Libertarian positions and High for factual reporting due to mostly proper sourcing, and a clean fact check record.


  1. This is the only source which rates below Highly Factual (Mostly Factual) on Media Bias Fact Check. I include it because I wanted a source more right leaning than the other right leaning sources I have included in this list. [return]

What i read today…

  • Letters from an American, December 06, 2021, Heather Cox Richardson… a little less depressing than the December 05 post, she discusses the Biden/Harris administration’s upcoming conversation with Vladimir Putin, the Summit for Democracy, and the administration’s comprehensive strategy for combating corruption around the globe which undermines democracy and allows illiberal governments to flourish… she discusses the West’s ability to hold Putin accountable should he invade Ukraine, which a troop buildup along the border suggests he might do… she then circles back to the problems we are having at home with a right bent on authoritarianism…
  • a review of Instructional Photography: Learning How to Live Now… the review is very positive… i am much more interested in I Am My Lover (1978) by Joan Blank and Honey Lee Cottrell, a book on female masturbation referenced in the article… i find i can have a copy for $65… hmmm says primal me… i learn more about Carmen Winant
  • Paradise, by Daniel Dorsa… i like the photography in this spread, excerpts from a new book…
  • my December horoscope by Lorelai Kude on Chronogram:
    • Intensity is still the name of the game this month, which starts out with a literal bang when Mars sextiles Pluto December 6, with Capricorn Moon square your Sun. Unless you are an active-duty combat soldier, resist all urges to engage in battle. The spectrum of aggression ranges from petulant pugnaciousness at best to punitive pyromania at worst. If power is your priority, Mars square Jupiter December 8 will supersize the struggles and their consequences. Align yourself with higher thoughts and broader horizons when Mars enter Sagittarius December 13. To whom do you owe your fiery allegiance, after all?
  • A Look Back at Art News in 2021, From NFTs to Restitution… in reviewing the art stories of the year presented by Hyperallergic, i found myself more hopeful… in many ways, the art world seems to be progressing and promoting liberal causes better than the discouraging mainstream news would seem to suggest… from protesting the Sacklers to unionizing museum staffs to repatriation of stolen cultural heritage, the news seems good…

Miscellaneous readings…

… this AM i have been reading about How Steve Bannon Has Exploited Google Ads to Monetize Extremism; Lauren Boebert Doubling Down on Her Anti-Muslim Bigotry; an anonymous republican standing up to Kevin McCarthy; British Prime Minister Boris Johnson supporting a bill requiring electric charging stations in all new and renovated buildings; the uselessness of travel bans; Predicting Justice Barrett’s First Question in Dobbs; Why the 14th Amendment Does Not Prohibit Abortion; Man Imprisoned for 16 Years for Raping Lovely Bones Author Is Exonerated; AG Meese: Failing to Overrule Roe and Casey “Would Threaten to Destroy the 40-Year Effort to Restrain the Court with the Founders’ Interpretive Principles”; Ancient Insurrections—and Ours

03 Biden calls for end to violence

… Israel and the Palestinians, war, the article notes the death of Palestinian children and women in particular… human beings… will they ever learn not to kill each other?… the news media was targeted in one of Israel’s air strikes… this is a forever conflict, the world is a forever disturbing place, i doubt i will live to see the end of it… it makes me sad…