What i read…

Heather Cox Richardson, December 15, 2021… about the January 6 commission and the noose tightening around the administration of 45… about the build back better spending bill and Manchin’s insistence that the price tag come in under 1.75 trillion over ten years… about a defense budget with 25 billion more than 46 asked for for a single year… there is money for new technologies while preserving money for old technologies that provide jobs to constituents…

Senator Manchin, Keep Holding Out on Build Back Better, the Editors, National Review… Manchin is the lynchpin of Build Back Better… Heather Cox Richardson reports above that he will accept a bill with a 1.75 trillion price tag over ten years… this article tries to hold him to a statement early on that said 1.5 trillion was his limit… i suspect something will get passed in the end…

Sinema Doubles Down on Filibuster Defense amid Democrats’ Pivot to Voting Bill, Caroline Downey, National Review… apparently Sinema remains a know on filibuster busting… a spokesman for Sineam:

“Senator Sinema has asked those who want to weaken or eliminate the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation which she supports if it would be good for our country to do so,” LaBombard told Politico. He said that there’s a risk that the measure gets “rescinded in a few years and replaced by a nationwide voter-ID law, nationwide restrictions on vote-by-mail, or other voting restrictions currently passing in some states extended nationwide.”

DeSantis Introduces Bill Banning Critical Race Theory in Public Schools, Private Company Staff Trainings… Caroline Downey, National Review… my understanding is that Critical Race Theory is not taught in any K-12 school anywhere… that it is taught at the college level only and mostly in law schools… this article suggests that DeSantis’ bill would not only ban something that isn’t happening from K-12 programs, but reaches up to the college level and into the training programs of private companies… that would be a huge overreach that is suspect would not hold up in the courts… so, is he proposing it without expectation of it passing just to check off a box on his expected run for President?…

Are the Parents of the Michigan School Shooter Guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter? Jacob Sullum, Reason.com… this article argues that they may have been negligent, but that their actions, or lack thereof, do not rise to Involuntary Manslaughter… i suspect the author is correct on this point and so, this case becomes an argument for tighter gun control laws…

The Attempted Republican Coup Should Be the Democrats’ Leading Message. A. B. Stoddard, The Bulwark.… i agree wholeheartedly with the opinion expressed in this article and have for some time… the threat to Democracy is the number one issue that needs to be dealt with…

The events of January 6 were clearly planned and coordinated to some extent—to what extent we have yet to learn. And the same is true of the post-coup cover-up.

Republicans must be made to answer for these facts at the next election. For two reasons: If they are not made to answer for it in 2022, then they never will be. And if aiding and abetting a coup doesn’t prove to be a political liability, then such attacks will be incentivized in the future.

‘West Side Story’ and the American Melting Pot. Christian Thrailkill, The Bulwark… a glowing review of the new movie by Spielberg, though i already knew i wanted to see it… this was one of my favorite films growing up as i have always beens a sucker for stories of romance against the odds… accomplishments of any kind against the odds really…

Aleksei Navalny: The Man vs. The Symbol. Benjamin Parker, The Bulwark… this article is interesting… heroes are rarely pure as the driven snow, often, far from it… we work with the heroes we have is the point of the article… it also gets me thinking about any kind of accomplished individual that has broken ground in new or courageous or new and courageous territory… humans are imperfect creatures, to say the least, and society moves forward none the less, often carried by heroes with major flaws…

Does it degrade the thoughts of Navalny’s fans, employees, and followers to support such a man? It’s tempting, especially for Americans, to argue that racism and xenophobia ruin even the most vigorous advocacy for human and civil rights. But Russia has no equivalent of the 1619 Project. They went through a period of iconoclasm in the 1990s, tearing down Lenins and Stalins all over—and then they stopped.

Perhaps one day, Russians will have the luxury of arguing over whether to dismantle statues of Navalny for his manifestations of bigotry. But that luxury is, at this point, so far in the future that it is hard to even imagine. It would mean that democracy in Russia is so entrenched, so stable, so unthreatened that it would no longer need reminders of his sacrifice. Perhaps before we worry about whether or not a man such as Nalvany deserves statues, we ought to get to a place where erecting a statue to him is an option.

Where’s the beef? Brent Orrell, The Bulwark… it strikes me as significant that this article is published in The Bulwark, a conservative leaning publication created at the beginning of the Trump Administration by conservative journalists who could not abide Trumpism and still can’t… there are some particularly interesting acknowledgements in the article:

Over many decades, the American economy has depended on a seemingly endless supply of workers (documented and not) willing to work for the sometimes parsimonious wages on offer in our advanced, globally-integrated, highly competitive, and skills-biased economy. If employees didn’t like conditions, well, there was always someone else anxious to take the work. Just five years ago, McDonalds had 50,000 applications lined up for 13,000 jobs.

… note the in parenthesis part about workers, documented and not… i have long thought there was conservative hypocrisy on the issue of immigration and that their protestations of loose border policies had more to do with ensuring an undocumented (and therefore cheap) flow of workers into the country… that is how it looks to me anyway… sure, we need well controlled borders and immigration policy is a mess… but part of the reason for the mess is our unacknowledged dependence on undocumented labor… again, my opinion…

But it goes beyond just working conditions and into less tangible, but no less real, issues with how the people who do this work are viewed and treated. Meatpacking jobs were (and are) disproportionately held by undocumented, refugee, and other immigrant workers in mainly conservative, rural states that left workers exposed to employer and government pressures and community indifference during the opening chapters of the COVID crisis. (emphasis added) The status of these workers as essential “outsiders” aggravated long-standing problems in an industry that had come to take access to a continuous flow of cheap labor as part of its business model.

… and then there is this:

We didn’t get here overnight. As one meat processing plant manager commented to NPR a few years ago, “Workers are really cheaper than machines. Machines have to be maintained. They have to be taken good care of. And that’s not really true of workers. As long as there is a steady supply, workers are relatively inexpensive (emphasis added)”, a quote that summarizes the situation better than anything else could. No doubt the market will eventually bring wages and working conditions into balance with supply and demand. For now, we know the answer to the age-old question, “Where’s the beef?”

… inflation has become a big worry… as we are mostly on fixed income at this point, i am certainly not a fan of it… but to the extent it is about better wages, working conditions for workers, and a rational immigration policy, i am happy to learn to live with higher prices for the goods i purchase…

What i read today…

  • Heather Cox Richardson, Letters from an American, December 5, 2021… HCR sounding the alarm about failing democracy in this country in the most strident way to date…
    • The problem is this: “Democrats…need to win every single election from here to prevent the destruction of democracy, while Republicans only need to win one. And the American system is set up so that Republicans will win sooner or later, whether fairly or by cheating.” Atkins urges the American people to “start thinking about and planning for what ‘Break glass in case of emergency’ measures look like—because it’s more likely a matter of when, not if. It not only can happen here; it probably will happen here. Conservatives are guaranteed to make every attempt to turn America into the next Russia or Hungary. It will take coordinated, overlapping solidarity among both regular people and elites across various institutions to stop it.”1
  • The Plague Legends… Emily Urquhart writes about plague legends and the early days of the pandemic… she captures well the feelings so many of us had and the struggle to preserve sanity and well being…
  • Ron DeSantis and His State Guard Aren’t Happening in a Vacuum
    • Again: Political grandstanding is the most innocent possible explanation. But not the only possible explanation. DeSantis’s private force cannot reasonably be viewed in isolation from the other challenges Republican governors and legislatures have been raising—not only with their National Guards, but by probing every possible weak point in the Constitution when it comes to vaccines, voting, vote counting, and more.2
  • Winter Trees as a Portal to Aliveness, Maria Popova, The Marginalian
    • In winter, we are prone to regard our trees as cold, bare, and dreary; and we bid them wait until they are again clothed in verdure before we may accord to them comradeship. However, it is during this winter resting time that the tree stands revealed to the uttermost, ready to give its most intimate confidences to those who love it. It is indeed a superficial acquaintance that depends upon the garb worn for half the year; and to those who know them, the trees display even more individuality in the winter than in the summer. The summer is the tree’s period of reticence, when, behind its mysterious veil of green, it is so busy with its own life processes that it has no time for confidences, and may only now and then fling us a friendly greeting.3
  • Ursula K. Le Guin on Being a Man
    • That’s who I am. I am the generic he, as in, “If anybody needs an abortion he will have to go to another state,” or “A writer knows which side his bread is buttered on.” That’s me, the writer, him. I am a man. Not maybe a first-rate man. I’m perfectly willing to admit that I may be in fact a kind of second-rate or imitation man, a Pretend-a-Him. As a him, I am to a genuine male him as a microwaved fish stick is to a whole grilled Chinook salmon.4