Roles

Money is a role, not a thing.

– Paul Krugman,
What We Talk About When We Talk About Money” (5-21-2021)

This week’s featured post is “The Problem With Bitcoin“.

This week everybody was talking about January 6

https://theweek.com/cartoons/983971/political-cartoon-mcconnell-mccarthy-jan-6-gop

What more is there to say about the Republican refusal to support a bipartisan commission to investigate Trump’s insurrection? Kevin McCarthy gave Rep. John Katko a list of demands before he negotiated an agreement with House Homeland Security Chair Benny Thompson, and Katko achieved them: Republicans and Democrats name an equal number of members of the commission, and have equal influence on subpoenas and staff. And yet McCarthy refused to take Yes for an answer: He opposed the commission anyway, though he couldn’t stop 35 Republicans in the House from voting for it.

In the Senate, Mitch McConnell is against the commission, and there appears to be slight chance of getting 10 Republicans to break a filibuster. So: no bipartisan commission.

A congressional investigation will still happen, but it will have to take place in committees with Democratic leadership, which Republicans will doubtless label a “partisan witch hunt”. So the Trump Insurrection will remain a he-said/she-said issue.

That seems to be what Republicans want. They had their chance to seek truth, and they said no.


Meanwhile, many Republicans are simply lying about January 6. Like Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin:

I’ve talked to people that were there. By and large, it was peaceful protest except for, you know, there were a number of people, basically agitators, that with the crowd and breached the Capitol.

And, you know, that’s really the truth of what’s happening here. But they like to paint that narrative, so they can paint a broad brush, and basically impugn 75 million Americans, call them potentially domestic terrorists and potential armed insurrectionists as well if they get another chance. So this is all about a narrative that the left wants to continue to push, and Republicans should not cooperate with them at all.

Those largely “peaceful” protesters beat Capitol police with flagpoles. I think Johnson would not enjoy seeing some similarly “peaceful” protesters show up at his office.

I assume Johnson’s 75 million is supposed to refer to Trump voters. Actually there were 74.2 million, which would round to 74 million. I don’t know why it’s necessary to constantly exaggerate Trump’s support. But more importantly, I don’t know anyone whose narrative says that Trump voters are to blame for the insurrection. Literally no one.

For the record, if you merely voted for Trump, I profoundly disagree with you, but I don’t question your loyalty to America, to democracy, or to the Constitution simply because you voted differently than I did. If you listened to President Trump’s “Save America” speech, but then went home without breaking any laws, I think you exercised your rights as an American. But if you broke into the Capitol in order to stop the constitutionally mandated counting of the electoral votes, if you roamed the halls of Congress chanting “Hang Mike Pence” or calling out “Naaancy” while the Speaker of the House hid from you, I think you’re a traitor, and I hope you go to jail for a long, long time.

and Bitcoin

The 30% crash on Wednesday was the trigger to get out ideas I’ve been thinking for a while. They’re in the featured post.

and Israel/Palestine

A ceasefire went into effect Friday, and seems to be holding.

Both sides claim victory in the recent fighting, which underlines the point I was making last week: Neither side is motivated to seek a lasting peace. Israel can point to all the Hamas infrastructure it destroyed in Gaza. Hamas can point to the destabilization of Israeli society, and the increasing radicalization of Arab Israelis.


Several worthwhile articles came out recently. The New Yorker’s David Remnick talks to a friend and fellow journalist inside Gaza. And another New Yorker article by Ruth Margalit looks at the tensions between Jews and Arabs inside an Israeli city.

Whenever I’m tempted to stereotype American Christians as fundamentalist Trumpists, I go back to John Pavlovitz, a pastor and blogger from North Carolina.

In moments like these, people want you to pick a side because that’s how most people’s minds work. They need a hard and fast litmus test position so that can sum you up and decide whether they are for you or against you, whether you are good or evil. But that kind of all-or-nothing extremism seems to be what has fueled and perpetuated the conflicts were watching right now.

So, with all that I don’t know and all I can’t understand and with all the nuances that escape me, here’s the side I’m on:

I’m on the side of ten-year old girls and boys wherever they live and whoever they’ve been raised by and whatever God they pray to and whatever pigmentation their faces carry. I am for disparate humanity being treated with equal reverence without caveat or condition and I am against powerful people who dehumanize the powerless for political gain.

As long as any children have to contend with nightmares that they were born into and cannot escape and do not deserve—I’m going to declare how grievous that is.

Until there is no longer terror in any young child’s eyes, that will be the side I’m on.


You don’t have to be a fan of Bibi Netanyahu to deplore the recent outbreaks of anti-Semitism in the US. It would be bad enough to persecute random Israelis because you dislike what their government has been doing. (Ditto for the citizens of any other country. I wouldn’t have wanted foreigners mad at Trump to take their revenge on me if I had happened to be in their country during his administration.)

But American Jews are Americans. Full stop. They’re not Israelis, and Netanyahu is not their leader.

I resent it when supporters of the Israeli government blur the boundary between criticizing Israel and anti-Semitism (as Ben Shapiro is doing now). But that puts a responsibility on me to guard that boundary. I can’t object to Shapiro, and then wink and nod at people harassing Jews.

If you’re in doubt about your own discourse, An Injustice offers a guide for talking about Israel without invoking anti-Semitic tropes.

and the pandemic

We’re getting close to having vaccinated half the population with at least one dose. If you’re only looking at the eligible population — people over 12 — we’ve at least partially vaccinated 58%. New vaccinations are well below their peak, but still close to 2 million a day.

New England is leading the parade: New Hampshire’s fully vaccinated percentage is 41%, just slightly above the national average of 39%. But Rhode Island is at 49.7%, and all the other New England states are over 50% fully vaccinated.

The South is trailing. Mississippi is at the bottom with 26.5% fully vaccinated. Then come Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Georgia, and Tennessee — all below 31%.

So far, that difference is not showing up in the new-case numbers: Vermont and Mississippi are both averaging 5 new cases per 100K people, while Rhode Island and Wyoming (31% fully vaccinated) both have 14.

New cases are down to a daily average around 25,000 nationally, down tenfold from the January peak. Average daily deaths are below 600, lower than they’ve been since July. In January, that average was over 3,000.

and you also might be interested in …

https://theweek.com/cartoons/983981/political-cartoon-gop-voter-suppression

The Supreme Court will consider an appeal from Mississippi concerning its ban on abortions after 15 weeks, which was struck down by lower courts in accordance with Roe v Wade and subsequent Supreme Court cases. The only reason to take up the case is if the Court wants to alter those precedents in some way. This will be the first abortion ruling since Amy Coney Barrett replaced Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Court.


https://theweek.com/cartoons/983665/political-cartoon-biden-kevin-mccarthy

Unsurprisingly, there is still no deal to be had on infrastructure. The only question is when Democrats will go ahead with a reconciliation package, and whether Senator Manchin will support it.


Yesterday, the NYT published an article about the problems population decline might cause. Some projections have the world population peaking around 2070, and then heading downward. In most first-world countries, fertility is already well below the replacement rate.

Given the strain that increased population puts on the environment, it’s hard to get worried about this. But it will require some adjustment.

A point worth making: The US will be one of the last first-world countries to feel the negative effects of population decline, if it preserves its ability to integrate immigrants into its society.


Another NYT article makes a point I rarely hear: The doubling of life expectancy during the 20th century wasn’t just due to scientific advances like antibiotics. Without social and political change, the benefits of the new science would never have reached the masses.


https://jensorensen.com/2021/05/15/wokester-madness-race/

Nikole Hannah-Jones will not get the tenured position that typically goes with the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism at the University of North Carolina’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media.

Hannah-Jones won a Pulitzer Prize for creating the 1619 Project that emphasizes the role of racism and slavery in American history. She has received a MacArthur Genius Grant. NC Policy Watch quotes Hussman School Dean Susan King:

Hannah-Jones was on the school’s radar as a potential faculty member before the publication of “The 1619 Project,” King said. But the project is part of Hannah-Jones’s long career of reporting powerfully on race. …

Last summer, Hannah-Jones went through the rigorous tenure process at UNC, King said. Hannah-Jones submitted a package King said was as well reviewed as any King had ever seen. Hannah-Jones had enthusiastic support from faculty and the tenure committee, with the process going smoothly every step of the way — until it reached the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees.

[A board member] who had direct knowledge of the board’s conversations about Hannah-Jones … had one word for the roadblock to Hannah-Jones gaining tenure. “Politics.”

Hannah-Jones appears to be a victim of conservative financier Art Pope, who funds a network of groups that dominate Republican politics in North Carolina. One of those organizations is the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

Last week, a columnist for the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal (formerly known as the Pope Center for Higher Education) wrote that UNC-Chapel Hill’s board of trustees must prevent Hannah-Jones’s hiring. If they were not willing to do so, the column said, the UNC Board of Governors should amend system policies to require every faculty hire to be vetted by each school’s board of trustees.

The upshot is that conservatives are doing exactly what they accuse liberals of: violating academic freedom to suppress points of view they don’t like.


In the post-Trump era, no scandal sidelines a Republican candidate. You just brazen it out, the way he did.

In Wyoming, State Senator Anthony Bouchard, one of the Trumpist candidates challenging Liz Cheney for the Republican nomination to Congress, admitted (ahead of it coming out elsewhere) that when he was 18 he got a 14-year-old girl pregnant. They married at 19 and 15, and got divorced three years later. She committed suicide at 20. Bouchard is “almost” estranged from the son, who has “made some wrong choices in his life”. (The linked article quotes another source claiming the son faces “multiple sexual offense charges” in California.)

There’s always the question: Aren’t teen-age mistakes forgivable? After all, who among us wants to be judged for who we were at 18? For me, the answer to the forgiveness question hinges on three other questions: Does the person who made the mistake understand and take responsibility for it? Has he or she learned? Are they wiser now?

Bouchard expresses no shame about his sexual abuse of an underage girl, describing himself and his victim as “two teen-agers”. He says: “It’s like the Romeo and Juliet story.” So the answers to those questions are No.

Like Trump, Bouchard may seem an unlikely choice to represent the party of “family values”. But also like Trump, Bouchard is the real victim here. “This is really a message about how dirty politics is. They’ll stop at nothing, man, when you get in the lead and when you’re somebody that can’t be controlled, you’re somebody who works for the people. They’ll come after you.”


Ted Cruz is at it again. A series of Army recruiting videos highlight soldiers who don’t fit the traditional stereotypes.

The video is part of a series titled “The Calling,” which features a diverse group of soldiers, several who are people of color or from immigrant families, and one who overcame learning issues. The entry that really roused Cruz’s ire tells the story of Cpl. Emma Malonelord, a white woman brought up by two moms in California.

Cruz retweeted a TikTok video that juxtaposes the recruitment video with Russian propaganda featuring he-man paratroopers, and added the comment.

Holy crap. Perhaps a woke, emasculated military is not the best idea….

When critics — particularly fellow senator Tammy Duckworth, who lost her legs piloting a helicopter in Iraq — pointed out that he was glorifying the Russian military at the expense of our own troops. Cruz doubled down with an anti-gay slur.

I’m enjoying lefty blue checkmarks losing their minds over this tweet, dishonestly claiming that I’m “attacking the military.” Uh, no. We have the greatest military on earth, but Dem politicians & woke media are trying to turn them into pansies.

In view of Ted’s own lack of masculine virtues — he bowed down to Trump after Trump viciously ridiculed his wife and accused his father of being involved in the JFK assassination — the hashtag #emasculaTed went viral.

https://www.reddit.com/r/PoliticalHumor/comments/ha286x/pathetic_cowards_for_trump/

and let’s close with something visual

Over at PBase.com, there’s a whole gallery of visually stunning photos of water drops. Here’s one to get you started.

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Comments

  • Barry Mauer  On May 24, 2021 at 12:29 pm

    “For the record, if you merely voted for Trump, I profoundly disagree with you, but I don’t question your loyalty to America, to democracy, or to the Constitution simply because you voted differently than I did. If you listened to President Trump’s ‘Save America’ speech, but then went home without breaking any laws, I think you exercised your rights as an American. But if you broke into the Capitol in order to stop the constitutionally mandated counting of the electoral votes, if you roamed the halls of Congress chanting ‘Hang Mike Pence’ or calling out ‘Naaancy’ while the Speaker of the House hid from you, I think you’re a traitor, and I hope you go to jail for a long, long time.”

    Doug, I think you’re trying to give credit where none is due. Look at these survey results – https://www.cnn.com/2021/05/22/politics/january-6-analysis/index.html. A majority of Republicans are dangerously deluded and no amount of appealing to their supposed “loyalty to America, to democracy, or to the Constitution” will bring them around.

    The line between belief and behavior here is vanishingly thin. Think about the Brown Shirts who beat up and terrorized Jews and attacked political opponents during the 1930s. They were cheered on by millions of people. Without this cheering, the Brown Shirts would have lost popular support and might have faced real consequences for their actions. The same relationship is true here between Republican terrorists and ordinary Republicans. With popular support for violence growing among Republicans (https://www.npr.org/2021/02/11/966498544/a-scary-survey-finding-4-in-10-republicans-say-political-violence-may-be-necessa), those Republicans prone to violence will be encouraged to strike again – but next time they will plan more thoroughly and will be more dangerous.

  • Bill Dysons  On May 25, 2021 at 12:00 pm

    Doug, you stated: “I resent it when supporters of the Israeli government blur the boundary between criticizing Israel and anti-Semitism (as Ben Shapiro is doing now). But that puts a responsibility on me to guard that boundary. I can’t object to Shapiro, and then wink and nod at people harassing Jews.”

    But isn’t this normal behavior for conservatives everywhere? To me, what Shapiro is doing is the Israeli equivalent of American conservatives calling American liberals unpatriotic and anti-American when they oppose Trump or oppose conservative positions in general. I wonder if Ben Shapiro would be trying to “blur the lines” if Israel had a liberal head of state right now….of course, you might argue that such a reality would mean the current state of the region would be different.

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