When politics are more important than the country

I realize I’m supposed to interpret this more charitably. But I don’t always do what I’m supposed to do and you know what? I’m still not buying it. Robert Baird’s article[1] leaves me still thinking that having passed the bipartisan infrastructure framework,[2] the so-called progressives in Congress got rolled, that the Build Back Better package, a “social infrastructure” bill, is doomed. I have long been skeptical about its prospects and now progressives have only Joe Biden’s promise as leverage,[3] a promise that binds neither Joe Manchin nor Kyrstin Sinema and which they seem determined to defy.[4] Read more

  1. [1]Robert P. Baird, “Inside the Democrats’ Battle to Build Back Better,” New Yorker, November 8, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/the-political-scene/inside-the-democrats-battle-to-build-back-better
  2. [2]Tony Romm, Marianna Sotomayor, and Mike DeBonis, “Congress approves $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, sending measure to Biden for enactment,” Washington Post, November 6, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/11/05/house-infrastructure-reconciliation-vote/
  3. [3]Robert P. Baird, “Inside the Democrats’ Battle to Build Back Better,” New Yorker, November 8, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/the-political-scene/inside-the-democrats-battle-to-build-back-better
  4. [4]Igor Bobic and Arthur Delaney, “Progressive Democrats Stare Down Moderates In Battle Over Biden Agenda,” Huffington Post, September 30, 2021, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/nancy-pelosi-infrastructure-vote_n_6155b857e4b0487c855b9a42; Heather Caygle, Sarah Ferris, and Jennifer Scholtes, “Dem leaders try for unity — and only get more tough questions,” Politico, September 23, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/09/23/democrats-plan-social-spending-513901; Jonathan Chait, “Joe Manchin Has Put Biden’s Presidency in Mortal Danger,” New York, September 2, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/09/joe-manchin-pause-biden-presidency-failed-danger-congress-democrats.html; Jonathan Chait, “Kyrsten Sinema Threatens to Kill Her Own Infrastructure Bill,” New York, September 20, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/09/kyrsten-sinema-threatens-infrastructure-bill-biden-build-back-better.html; Jonathan Chait, “Democrats Have Two Long-Shot Plans to Deal With Kyrsten Sinema,” New York, October 21, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/10/biden-kyrsten-sinema-build-back-better-taxes-congress-will-it-pass.html; Mike DeBonis, “Joe Manchin gets all the attention. But Kyrsten Sinema could be an even bigger obstacle for Democrats’ spending plans,” Washington Post, September 15, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/sinema-reconciliation-manchin/2021/09/15/8c583f96-162d-11ec-9589-31ac3173c2e5_story.html; David Dayen, “Manchin’s Cherry-Picking of Budget Estimates,” American Prospect, November 5, 2021, https://prospect.org/infrastructure/building-back-america/manchins-cherry-picking-of-budget-estimates/; Democracy Now! “‘We Need to Deliver’: Anger Grows at Sens. Manchin, Sinema over Obstruction of Democratic Priorities,” September 21, 2021, https://www.democracynow.org/2021/9/21/35_trillion_spending_bill_ro_khanna; Maureen Dowd, “Sinema Stars in Her Own Film,” New York Times, October 2, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/02/opinion/kyrsten-sinema-congress.html; Oriana Gonzalez, “Sanders insists Dems’ spending package remain at $3.5 trillion,” Axios, September 8, 2021, https://www.axios.com/sanders-manchin-spending-package-35-trillion-536a9c7f-6dd1-450a-8d65-c6dd986cc86e.html; Glenn Kessler, “Why Biden says his plan is ‘fiscally responsible,’ while Manchin decries ‘gimmicks,’” Washington Post, November 2, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/11/02/why-biden-says-his-plan-is-fiscally-responsible-while-manchin-decries-gimmicks/; Olivier Knox, “It’s Bernie vs Manchin as spending breakthrough remains elusive,” Washington Post, October 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/10/07/its-bernie-vs-manchin-spending-breakthrough-remains-elusive/; Marianne Levine and Burgess Everett, “Democrats grit their teeth after Manchin lists demands,” Politico, September 30, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/09/30/democrats-grit-teeth-manchin-demands-514836; Eric Levitz, “Why Are There So Many Democrats to Joe Biden’s Right?” New York, September 23, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/09/why-are-there-so-many-democrats-to-joe-bidens-right.html; Jonathan Martin and Jonathan Weisman, “Biden Throws In With Left, Leaving His Agenda in Doubt,” New York Times, October 2, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/02/us/politics/biden-progressives-moderates-agenda.html; Hans Nichols, “Manchin backs as little as $1 trillion of Biden’s $3.5 trillion plan,” Axios, September 8, 2021, https://www.axios.com/scoop-manchin-backs-as-little-as-1-trillion-of-bidens-35-trillion-plan-91d079e0-84a7-4f8f-94d4-212827a61339.html; Kristina Peterson and Lindsay Wise, “Democrats’ $3.5 Trillion Budget Framework Exposes Party Tensions,” Wall Street Journal, August 11, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/democrats-3-5-trillion-budget-framework-exposes-party-tensions-11628704569; Tony Romm, “Sens. Manchin and Sanders square off as Democrats clash over $3.5 trillion economic package,” Washington Post, September 12, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/09/12/manchin-sanders-reconciliation/; Greg Sargent, “Biden’s frustration with Manchin and Sinema captures a dark truth,” Washington Post, October 5, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/10/05/biden-manchin-sinema-frustration-reconciliation/; Greg Sargent, “Bernie Sanders erupts at Joe Manchin, and a deeper dispute is revealed,” Washington Post, October 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/10/07/sanders-manchin-reconciliation-democrats/; Greg Sargent, “Joe Manchin’s ugly new demands expose the absurdity of arbitrary centrism,” Washington Post, October 18, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/10/18/manchin-climate-reconciliation-child-allowance/; David Siders, “‘Her calculation is off’: Sinema dares the left to take her out,” Politico, October 5, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/10/05/sinema-arizona-democrats-congress-515108; Marianna Sotomayor, “Waiting for ‘Manchema’: House liberals grow exasperated with two Democratic senators as Biden agenda struggles,” Washington Post, September 30, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/manchin-sinema-reconciliation-liberals/2021/09/30/3aa2b376-2130-11ec-8200-5e3fd4c49f5e_story.html; Marianna Sotomayor, “For Democrats and the Biden agenda, it’s becoming a matter of trust,” Washington Post, October 3, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/reconciliation-biden-trust/2021/10/03/ca9fb670-2385-11ec-8fd4-57a5d9bf4b47_story.html; Daniel Strauss, “Can Pramila Jayapal Stare Down Manchin and Sinema?” New Republic, September 29, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/163811/pramila-jayapal-infrastructure-manchin-sinema; Paul Waldman, “Kyrsten Sinema needs to show us what she believes in,” Washington Post, September 20, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/09/20/kyrsten-sinema-needs-show-us-what-she-believes/

The inexcusable, insufferable idiots coming to Austin

See updates through November 22, 2021, at end of post.


If Sarah Jones didn’t convince you that the self-styled “University of Austin,” absolutely not to be confused with the University of Texas at Austin, is a “Bible college for [capitalist] libertarians,”[1] a look at some of the names in the New York Times article on the forming institution might. We are apparently to believe that people like Niall Ferguson, Larry Summers, and Steven Pinker are “edgy.”[2] They aren’t. They’re simply inexcusable, insufferable idiots. Read more

  1. [1]Sarah Jones, “Who’s Afraid of Higher Education?” New York, November 8, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/article/bari-weiss-university-of-austin-nothing-new.html
  2. [2]Anemona Hartocollis, “They Say Colleges Are Censorious. So They Are Starting a New One,” New York Times, November 8, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/08/us/ut-austin-free-speech.html

Will Pittsburgh deprive its white supremacist gangs of one tool for harassing the poor, especially of color?

See updates through December 29, 2021, at end of post.


There are a few points to be made about a proposal in the Pittsburgh City Council to stop white supremacist gangsters from stopping drivers for what, in California, we called “fix-it” tickets.[1] I don’t know the rules in Pennsylvania, but in California the emphasis was on getting the vehicle repaired. After complying, one could bring the vehicle to any white supremacist gangster for verification and a sign-off, resulting in only a nominal fine. Read more

  1. [1]Julia Felton, “Proposal would prevent Pittsburgh police from pulling over drivers for minor, secondary violations,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 8, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/proposal-would-prevent-pittsburgh-police-from-pulling-over-drivers-for-minor-secondary-violations/

The death of academic freedom

See update for November 9, 2021, at end of post.


After intense blowback, the University of Florida has now acquiesced. Three political science professors may now, after all, testify as expert witnesses, and be compensated for their testimony, against Florida’s efforts to limit voter access.[1] The university had previously forbidden the testimony citing a conflict of interest with the university as a state actor.[2] Read more

  1. [1]Lindsay Ellis, “After Scathing Criticism, U. of Florida Will Let Professors Testify Against the State,” Chronicle of Higher Education, November 5, 2021, https://www.chronicle.com/article/after-scathing-criticism-u-of-florida-will-let-professors-testify-against-the-state; Colleen Flaherty, “Just the End of the Beginning,” Inside Higher Ed, November 8, 2021, https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2021/11/08/uf-says-professors-can-be-paid-experts-theyre-suing-anyway
  2. [2]Andrew Jeong, “University of Florida bars faculty from testifying in voting rights lawsuit against DeSantis administration,” Washington Post, October 30, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/10/30/florida-voting-rights-desantis-lawsuit/

Marjorie Taylor Greene’s obvious illogic

What’s curious about Marjorie Taylor Greene’s repeated comparison of COVID-19 vaccine efforts to the Holocaust[1] is that she blatantly gets it exactly backwards. What’s even more curious is that her illogic, while rightly condemned, is rarely refuted. Read more

  1. [1]Shira Hanau, “Marjorie Taylor Greene blames ‘vaccine Nazis’ for ‘ruining our country’ months after Holocaust museum apology,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, November 3, 2021, https://www.jta.org/2021/11/03/united-states/marjorie-taylor-greene-blames-vaccine-nazis-for-ruining-our-country-months-after-holocaust-museum-apology; Ron Kampeas, “In latest Nazi analogy, Marjorie Taylor Greene invokes ‘medical brown shirts’ in decrying vaccination outreach,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, July 7, 2021, https://www.jta.org/quick-reads/in-latest-nazi-analogy-marjorie-taylor-greene-invokes-medical-brown-shirts-in-decrying-vaccination-outreach

The very small chance to avert climate catastrophe

See update for November 6, 2021, at end of post.


On the whole, what George Monbiot writes on climate change, essentially that humans fiddle, consuming to exacerbate the crisis at hand and diverting ourselves from it, while the planet burns, is right. I think he errs in calling the rules mathematical and in calling the outcomes predictable,[1] though he comes by the error honestly.[2] Read more

  1. [1]George Monbiot, “Surface Tension,” November 2, 2021, https://www.monbiot.com/2021/11/02/surface-tension/
  2. [2]Fritjof Capra, The Web of Life (New York: Anchor, 1996); Fritjof Capra and Pier Luigi Luisi, The Systems View of Life (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University, 2014).