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 He said that there’s a risk that the measure gets “rescinded in a few years and replaced by a nationwide voter-ID law, nationwide restrictions on vote-by-mail, or other voting restrictions currently passing in some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…

And in the Department of Hopeful… the Great American Quit

a lengthy article in Mother Jones (leans pretty liberal) about the (comparatively) vast numbers of people quitting… i find it a very hopeful sign that labor is on the move… that labor is beginning to reject deplorable wages and working conditions… i don’t think we have a very humane economy… so many things are wrong with it… similar things were going on in the 20’s and 30’s of the last century… we are either at a moment of rebalancing or one of great descent for the majority of the people…

05 Work Won’t Love Me Back

an article on Sarah Jaffe’s new book, Work Won’t Love You Back… it is a little expensive, even in the Kindle version so i add it for now to my list on Amazon…

… as i read the book, i think a few things… i think that i tried to have a career where i loved my work, but it did not pan out in a satisfying way in the end… then i switched to being a photographic artist… i don’t have to make money doing it, thanks to H mostly, but it is nice when i do… yet, i am ambivalent about the gallery system, the gatekeeping, etc. which has me focusing my art in ways i would not otherwise… still, i have come to a compromise, where i make what i make and wait for opportunities to have something come of it… right now, i write a blog that i think of as part of my artwork… nobody reads it… i don’t publicize it much, i would rather people discover it and let me know if they liked it…

04 Motherhood Penalty

an article on how women are penalized in their professional careers for having children… the art world is no different, given its male domination… and here is an interesting quote:

The cultural industry contributes a greater share to the United States gross domestic product than agriculture, transportation, or construction, proving that creative work is **work.1