While some say it's a bit of a miracle when "An Unexpected Victory: Container Stacking at the Port of Long Beach" eases some of the supply bottleneck, Yves sees the answer to the question of, "Why the US Supply Chain Crisis Is Intractable and Will Get Worse: Readers bwilli123 and Carolinian flagged a must read post by Ryan Johnson, I'm A Twenty Year Truck Driver, I Will Tell You Why America's 'Shipping Crisis' Will Not End. You really really really need to consume it in its entirely. It makes a detailed, cogent case as to why the America's ports are a mess and why there is no simple and even not so simple way out. No wonder Pete Buttigieg is in hiding, um, on paternity leave, rather than putting his hands on the supply chain tar baby. I am going to run the risk of oversimplification to pull a few key points out of his compact and well argued post. They serve to reinforce his contention that Americans are royally fucked via where trucking industry deregulation (the first big deregulation initiative, thank you Jimmy Carter) has been amplified by neoliberalism: too many interconnected actors, so diffuse responsibility with contacts creating rigidity and incentives to do nothing, and cowards in government. I'll argue that there are some steps that could theoretically be taken to get a little more flow through the stuck ports, but even those moves would be seen as too interventionist despite the high and rising cost of standing pat. The severity of the supply chain crisis combined with the near-certainty that the only actor that could partially (stress partially) clear this logjam is the Feds. They are guaranteed not to do enough even if they understood how the moving parts interconnect."
"How a little-known New Jersey truck driver defeated a top state Senate power broker on less than $10,000" is the title of the USA Today story, but it was actually less than $200 and the real story, from this 2019 article, is that this poor excuse for a Democrat really deserved to lose: "Last month, New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney was at Rutgers University's main campus in New Brunswick. He was there to hold a town hall meeting to discuss 'The Path to Progress,' an ambitious cost-cutting plan that would seek to right New Jersey's perilous finances by cutting the state's generous public worker pension and health benefits." He said this to a mostly union audience and it did not go down well.
There are different kinds of inflation, and sometimes "Inflation Is Good for You [...] And what's happening is this: The inflation freakout is all about class conflict. In fact, it may be the fundamental class conflict: that between creditors and debtors, a fight that's been going on since the foundation of the United States. That's because inflation is often good for most of us, but it's terrible for the kinds of people who own corporate news outlets — or, say, founded coal firms. And a panic about inflation usefully creates the conditions to weaken the power of working people." Well, that's if it's natural inflation, which usually follows rises in wages. But there aren't really that many rises in wages The thing is, people aren't wrong when they say prices are up while those rising wages have by and large not been manifesting. Because the minute the eviction moratorium was called off, landlords rushed to raise rents. Meat prices are up not because there's a shortage of beef (there's not) and not because truckers are getting more money (they aren't) or grocery clerks suddenly got raises (they didn't), but because the people at the top of the chain decided to raise the prices for more profits — and the people underneath them saw none of that growth. But rich people just love to whine about the threat of inflation to excuse a lack of pubic spending by the government, which they don't want to see, and also so they can claim to be doing the rest of us a favor by refusing to adequately compensate employees.
"Is Summers Owed an Apology—or Does He Owe Us One?: Today on TAP: The policies that he promoted helped produce the supply chain crisis, and his diagnosis of today's inflation is just plain wrong. [...] The reality, however, is that the current bout of inflation has little to do with Biden's recovery program—and is actually the result of perverse policies that Summers and his confreres foisted on America over three decades. As that Bolshevik, Fed Chair Jerome Powell, could explain to Summers, the current inflation has little to do with macro pressures and everything to do with bottlenecks resulting from the supply chain crisis. If you dig a little deeper, the supply chain mess is precisely the consequence of economics according to Summers—deregulate, globalize, ignore the risks and hyper-concentration promoted by unhinged finance. The usual sources of macro pressure are not part of the story. Wages on average are rising more slowly than prices."
So, Terry McAuliffe, Clinton Dem and Carlyle guy, lost to a Republican. Naturally, the "moderates" blamed progressives, who had nothing to do with it. Zach is smarter. "The Democratic Unraveling Began With Schools: Republican victories in Virginia show how COVID-19 has fundamentally changed American politics. Republican Glenn Youngkin's victory in Tuesday's Virginia gubernatorial election was about schools. It wasn't about Donald Trump, or inflation, or defunding the police, or Medicare for All, or President Joe Biden's infrastructure agenda. It wasn't really about critical race theory or transgender rights—though those issues shaded the situation a bit by highlighting anxieties surrounding the education system. Fundamentally, the contest was about schools—specifically, how many parents remain frustrated by the way public schools have handled the coronavirus pandemic. Whether the Virginia results translate to other states will depend on how schools in those states reacted to the spread of COVID-19, and whether a major national issue can take the place of these local frustrations in voters' minds. All the usual caveats about drawing too many conclusions from a single contest apply. The national political environment could change, the 2022 midterms are a whole year away, and Virginia isn't a perfect microcosm of America. But given the very public, ongoing dysfunction among Democratic leaders in Washington, the party's devastating loss in Virginia looks like a five-alarm fire for its near-term electoral future."
"Quit Whining & Start Presidenting! Joe Biden's executive branch has the ability AND obligation to enforce laws limiting corporate misbehavior--which would also be overdue good politics. We agree with everyone else: Tuesday night was bad for Democrats and... confirms our priors. But 'confirming our priors' doesn't mean we're wrong. Our emphasis is less on presuming our ideology is a winner than understanding how modern communications operate. And also from our utter disdain for the idea that people like Joe Biden and Terry McAuliffe lack agency. Real world problems don't just happen. The political economy is never inevitable. Yet as their poll numbers slump, Joe Biden and his administration have mostly whimpered that they are the victims of circumstance. Terry McAuliffe, Carlyle investor, must also own his defeat to failed Carlyle private equity mogul-turned-Trump dog whistler Glenn Youngkin in Virginia."
"The Outer Limits Of Corporate Politics: The halving of Democrats' agenda suggests the party is still primarily intent on fulfilling Biden's promise to donors that 'nothing would fundamentally change.' [...] In general, the reason the Democratic Party always sounds so helplessly incoherent is because its lawmakers are trying to simultaneously appease their corporate donors and look like they are fulfilling their public promises to fix problems created by those corporate donors. In most cases, this is impossible. You cannot protect pharmaceutical and fossil fuel industry donors and also reduce the price of medicine and solve the climate crisis. If you try to pretend you can do both, the donors always eventually win out. So you end up talking in circles, complaining accurately about the problems while doing nothing to solve them, and then portraying marginal victories as huge wins to voters who must wonder why their lives aren't improving."
Good interview by Ryan Grim of Sirota, "If Biden Wants To Build Back Better, He Should Look To Obama's Mistakes." Leaving aside the question of whether Biden really wants to Build Back Better, this interview feeds my need to occasionally fly into a rage at how badly, and with how much evil, Obama handled the financial crisis.
"The Democracy Crisis That Is Never Discussed: Corporate media's democracy-in-crisis discourse almost never mentions the gap between what Americans want and what corrupt elected officials are doing. In 2014, Northwestern and Princeton researchers published a report statistically documenting how lawmakers do not listen or care about what most voters want, and instead mostly care about serving their big donors. Coupled with additional research documenting the discrepancy between donor and voter preferences, they bluntly concluded that the 'preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically nonsignificant impact upon public policy.' Seven years later, America is witnessing a very public and explicit illustration of this situation in real time — and Tuesday's off-year election results are the latest confirmation that the country seems pretty ticked off about the situation ahead of the 2022 midterms."
"'Complete Attack on Our Democracy': FEC Rules Foreign Corporations Can Donate to Influence US Elections: 'Foreign donors shouldn't be influencing our elections, no matter whether it's at the federal, state, or local level,' said Rep. Katie Porter. [...] Democracy defenders expressed concern Tuesday in response to new reporting on a Federal Election Commission ruling that affirmed foreign entities—including overseas corporations—can fund U.S. state-level ballot campaigns." Really, this is incredible. And I can't help but notice that all those people who have been raving about how the evil Russians "interfered with our election" haven't said one word about this open invitation for every foreign country to take over our law-making apparatus.
"Illinois just became the first state to make it illegal for cops to lie to kids [...] This means that — until 2021! — it was perfectly legal in every US state for police to lie to minors (which gives me flashbacks to the tragic interrogation of Brendan Dassey, as shown in Making a Murderer). As NPR notes, there are other states trying to pass bills that offer the same protections to minors, or else to outlaw deceptive police interrogation tactics entirely. The fact that we have to explicitly forbid police from intentionally manipulating and deceiving children speaks volumes about the underlying issues."
"The Top 1% of Americans Have Taken $50 Trillion From the Bottom 90%—And That's Made the U.S. Less Secure [...] How big is this elephant? A staggering $50 trillion. That is how much the upward redistribution of income has cost American workers over the past several decades. This is not some back-of-the-napkin approximation. According to a groundbreaking new working paper by Carter C. Price and Kathryn Edwards of the RAND Corporation, had the more equitable income distributions of the three decades following World War II (1945 through 1974) merely held steady, the aggregate annual income of Americans earning below the 90th percentile would have been $2.5 trillion higher in the year 2018 alone. That is an amount equal to nearly 12 percent of GDP—enough to more than double median income—enough to pay every single working American in the bottom nine deciles an additional $1,144 a month. Every month. Every single year."
"40 Million People Rely on the Colorado River. It's Drying Up Fast. [...] Lake Mead, a reservoir formed by the construction of the Hoover Dam in the 1930s, is one of the most important pieces of infrastructure on the Colorado River, supplying fresh water to Nevada, California, Arizona and Mexico. The reservoir hasn't been full since 1983. In 2000, it began a steady decline caused by epochal drought. On my visit in 2015, the lake was just about 40% full. A chalky ring on the surrounding cliffs marked where the waterline once reached, like the residue on an empty bathtub."
So...Did the CIA kill Kennedy? "Cuban exile told sons he trained Oswald, JFK's accused assassin, at a secret CIA camp: Almost 40 years after his death following a bar brawl in Key Biscayne, Ricardo Morales, known as 'Monkey' — contract CIA worker, anti-Castro militant, counter-intelligence chief for Venezuela, FBI informant and drug dealer — returned to the spotlight Thursday morning when one of his sons made a startling claim on Spanish-language radio: [...] 'My brother asked 'Who killed John F. Kennedy?' and his answer was, 'I didn't do it but I was in Dallas two days before waiting for orders. We were the cleaning crew just in case something bad had to be done.' After the assassination, they did not have to do anything and returned to Miami,' his son said on the radio show. Morales Jr. said his father told them he did not know of the plans to assassinate Kennedy. 'He knew Kennedy was coming to Dallas, so he imagines something is going to happen, but he doesn't know the plan,' he said. 'In these kinds of conspiracies and these big things, nobody knows what the other is doing.' Morales also knew Oswald, his son claims. 'When my old man was training in a CIA camp — he did not tell me where — he was helping to train snipers: other Cubans, Latin Americans, and there were a few Americans,' he said. 'When he saw the photo of Lee Harvey Oswald [after the assassination] he realized that this was the same character he had seen on the CIA training field. He saw him, he saw the name tag, but he did not know him because he was not famous yet, but later when my father sees him he realizes that he is the same person.' [...] While Lee Harvey Oswald was accused in Kennedy's assassination, a 1979 report from the House Select Committee on Assassinations contradicted the 1964 Warren Commission conclusion that JFK was killed by one lone gunman. The committee instead concluded that the president was likely slain as the result of a conspiracy and that there was a high probability that two gunmen fired at him. The House Select Committee, which also interviewed Morales, said they couldn't preclude the possibility that Cuban exiles were involved."
"The McDonald's Test: Once a Wall Street banker, Chris Arnade spent three years crisscrossing the United States to visit 'the places you were told not to go to.' His travels took him from the Bronx to the Ozarks to East Los Angeles. He shares what he learned in Dignity, a searing new book of essays and photojournalism. Plough's Peter Mommsen caught up with him to talk about fast-food joints, storefront churches, meritocracy, and whether to give cash to panhandlers."
"Revolt of the Essential Workers: The resurgent labor movement may be the greatest challenge yet to the top-down class warfare of the pandemic era. [...] The economic discontent that propelled both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders to popularity had been building for many years. As a recent article in the journal American Affairs noted, $34 trillion of real equity wealth, in 2017 dollars, was created between 1989 and 2017. Nearly half that sum (44%) consisted of a reallocation of corporate equity to shareholders at the expense of worker compensation, while economic growth accounted for just 25% of that increase in wealth. In other words, despite the advent of seemingly near-miraculous, time- and space-saving digital technologies, the post-Cold War 'economic boom' consisted mainly of America's wealthy shareholders taking money from its increasingly insecure workforce."
"Navy Christens Ship Named For Slain California Gay Rights Leader Harvey Milk: 'There is no doubt that the future sailors aboard this ship will be inspired by Milk's life and legacy,' said Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro."
RIP: "Dean Stockwell, 'Quantum Leap' Star, Dies at 85: Dean Stockwell, who began his acting career as a child in Hollywood's golden age and later performed memorably in David Lynch's 'Blue Velvet'; in the comedy 'Married to the Mob,' for which he was Oscar nominated; and on TV's 'Quantum Leap,' for which he was Emmy nominated, died Sunday. He was 85." I met him briefly at the premier of (David Lynch's film of) Dune, in which he played the Duke's physician early in the story, but I have no tale to tell about that. There's a loving appreciation at the Roger Ebert site.
RIP: "Moody Blues Drummer Graeme Edge Dies at 80." He was with them from the beginning, when they released one of my favorite tracks, "Go Now!", and I still loved them when they changed. But he was still there, and still the backbone of the band, until he retired and they all agreed that it couldn't be The Moody Blues without him and they all went their own ways.
RIP: "Wallace & Gromit Writer Bob Baker Dies Age 82: Robert John 'Bob' Baker, a film and television writer best known for his work with Aardman Animations on its Wallace & Gromit films and for creating the dog-like mobile computer K9 on Doctor Who, died November 3 at age 82. The news was announced by the @K9official1 Twitter account on Friday."
This story is old, but I just found it and it tickled me. "The mystery of Ireland's worst driver: Details of how police in the Irish Republic finally caught up with the country's most reckless driver have emerged, the Irish Times reports. He had been wanted from counties Cork to Cavan after racking up scores of speeding tickets and parking fines. However, each time the serial offender was stopped he managed to evade justice by giving a different address. But then his cover was blown. It was discovered that the man every member of the Irish police's rank and file had been looking for - a Mr Prawo Jazdy - wasn't exactly the sort of prized villain whose apprehension leads to an officer winning an award. In fact he wasn't even human.
Someone mentioned to me that the Beatles statue in Liverpool is pretty good, and I agree, although they look a bit old for their Liverpool days. (But at least it's in Liverpool. A friend in Little Rock tells me, "The little town of Walnut Ridge is the only place in Arkansas where the whole band ever set foot (their plane stopped there briefly) and, in the 2000s, they made a whole cottage industry out of it, including a more conceptual tribute.")
Moody Blues, "Nights in White Satin"