Not Waiting

So when will it be the right moment to leave? One more year, two more years, ten more years? Ten, twenty, thirty billion dollars more above the trillion we’ve already spent?

– President Biden
Remarks on the Way Forward in Afghanistan

This week’s featured posts are “Finally, some honesty about Afghanistan“, “The GOP: Still not a governing party“, and “The anti-trans distraction“.

This week everybody was talking about Afghanistan

President Biden says our troops will be out by September 11. This is discussed one of the featured posts.

and shootings

Between the police shootings and the mass shootings, it’s been hard to keep up.

Closing arguments in the Chauvin trial are happening today, and the case should go to the jury this week. By next Monday, we might have a verdict.

The nearby Daunte Wright shooting, and claim that the police officer mistook her gun for a taser, provoked a great deal of protest and skepticism. The officer has been charged with second-degree manslaughter. Chicago police released video of the shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo, who appeared to be unarmed and have his hands up. The NYT reports:

Since testimony [in the Chauvin trial] began on March 29, at least 64 people have died at the hands of law enforcement nationwide, with Black and Latino people representing more than half of the dead. As of Saturday, the average was more than three killings a day.

And CNN:

Three people are dead after someone opened fire inside a tavern in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Another three people were killed in a shooting that police said appeared to be related to a domestic incident in Texas. Authorities said a potential mass shooting was averted at San Antonio airport when a parks officer stopped a man with a box full of ammunition and a .45 caliber handgun.

Such events underscore the easy availability of deadly weapons. The 19-year-old who killed eight people in a massacre at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis late on Thursday bought his two assault rifles legally, police said over the weekend.

According to a CNN analysis, the United States has suffered at least 50 mass shootings since March 16, when eight people were killed at three Atlanta-area spas. Six of the victims were women of Asian descent.

and the virus

We’re starting to hit the vaccine-resistance wall, particularly in areas with a lot of Trump voters. The 7-day average on vaccinations peaked at 3.3 million per day a few days ago, and has dropped slightly to 3.2 million since. 131 million Americans (including me, as of Tuesday) have gotten at least one shot, and 84.3 are fully vaccinated.

The number of new cases might be starting to head back down, after briefly going about 70K per day, but it’s too soon to declare a new trend. Deaths are down to about 750 per day.

and Russia

The Treasury Department announced sanctions against a list of Russian individuals and organizations Thursday. Well down the list was Paul Manafort’s associate Konstantin Kilimnik. The write-up revealed more about Kilimnik than had been previously known to the public:

Konstantin Kilimnik (Kilimnik) is a Russian and Ukrainian political consultant and known Russian Intelligence Services agent implementing influence operations on their behalf. During the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign, Kilimnik provided the Russian Intelligence Services with sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy. Additionally, Kilimnik sought to promote the narrative that Ukraine, not Russia, had interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

He got that “sensitive information” from Rick Gates, working under the instructions of Manafort. This completes the collusion cycle: Russia launched a social media campaign to help Trump beat Clinton in 2016, and the Trump campaign made sure they had good data to target their efforts.

BTW, “the narrative that Ukraine, not Russia, had interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election” wasn’t just Russian propaganda, it was a main feature of the Trump defense in his first impeachment trial.

Ben Rhodes:

The US and EU have the means to do what Navalny has done so well: relentlessly detail and publicize the breadth and depths of the corruption of Putin and his people.

I am puzzled why we don’t do this. I think the Russian people deserve to know just how many billions Putin has stolen and where it all is.

and infrastructure

To the surprise of few, it looks like there isn’t going to be a Republican alternative to Biden’s infrastructure proposal. They’re just going to say no. More about this in one of the featured posts.

and you also might be interested in …

Who could have imagined that Roger Stone would cheat on his taxes?

Senator Ed Markey and Rep. Jerry Nadler have introduced a bill to expand the Supreme Court, but Nancy Pelosi says she’s not going to bring it up for a vote.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier series on Disney Plus is examining race in a way I didn’t expect from the Marvel Universe, even after Black Panther.

At the end of Avengers: Endgame, Steve Rogers returned to the 1940s and left the shield of Captain America to Sam Wilson, the Falcon. What to do with that shield, and with the Captain America identity it represents, is the central issue of F&WS. And that issue ends up hinging on the question: What can or should American patriotism mean to a Black man? In this week’s episode (#5) a bitter Black super-soldier from the 1950s (Isaiah Bradley) tells Sam: “They will never let a Black man be Captain America, and no self-respecting Black man would want to be.”

Sam is becoming the Barack Obama to Bradley’s Jeremiah Wright. (“For the men and women of Reverend Wright’s generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. … That anger is not always productive … but the anger is real; it is powerful. And to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.”) He’s looking for a way forward that acknowledges and respects the experience of the people who came before him.

After decades of TV series that either made Black people invisible, stereotyped them, or cast them in roles where their race really didn’t matter, lately we’ve gotten a bumper crop of high-quality race-examining major-studio TV: Lovecraft Country, Watchmen, and many others.

Paul Krugman did a responsible thing Friday: He committed his thoughts about inflation to print before actual inflation heats up.

There are indeed reasons to be worried about inflationary overheating. In fact, even those of us who think it will be OK expect to see above-normal inflation this year. We just think it will be a blip. … [I]t seems to me that we should make that argument now, so as not to be accused of making excuses after the fact. This is a good time to identify which aspects of inflation might worry us, and which shouldn’t.

In short: He expects the economy to boom in the coming year, for two reasons:

  • vaccinated people who have been working from home and saving their money start to get out and spend that money
  • the government’s emergency anti-Covid spending.

Inflation will be part of that boom, as oil prices go back up and some parts of the economy grow faster than others, creating bottlenecks.

But history shows us two very different kinds of inflation: temporary blips, like during wars, and “embedded” inflation, like in the 1970s. The first kind of inflation goes away on its own as soon as the situation that caused it abates. The second won’t end without some kind of drastic intervention, like when the Fed shut down the 1970s inflation by raising interest rates over 20% and causing a major recession.

So the tricky thing going forward will be how to interpret inflation numbers: There’s nothing to worry about when depressed prices return to normal, or when a bottleneck sends prices of some particular commodity soaring temporarily. But a general inflation, where prices go up because prices are going up, is more serious.

and let’s close with an overdose of cuteness

A boy romps with golden retriever puppies, and is mobbed by them when he falls down. One of the commenters says: “This should be prescribed as a cure for depression.”

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  • frankackerman0617  On April 22, 2021 at 8:08 pm

    It now appears to be certain that something like a third of the US population will refuse to be vaccinated against covid-19. This is a problem. It means that covid-19 will probably continue to circulate in the US for the rest of the year. It is also nearly certain that all of the covid-19 social restrictions and masking will drop away in the next few months. The result will be that many of those that have refused the vaccine will get sick, and some will die. We might think such a scenario will change the equation, and that the anti-vaccinators will start to get vaccinated. But since the anti-vaccinators reside in an alternate reality, this is unlikely. The unconditional victory currently being pursued by public health will not be achieved. However, we will adjust to living with a low level of covid-19, and the anti-vaccinators will get sick and be “vaccinated” that way.

    But the covid-19 virus mutates rapidly. With a third of the population available as hosts it is possible, but not probable, that strains will develop that can break through the current vaccines’ defenses. If that should happen infections rates and deaths will rise.

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