Archive of Articles for October, 2021

Friday Talking Points -- Ticking Away...

[ Posted Friday, October 15th, 2021 – 17:21 UTC ]

Today's article title is from the song "Time," by Pink Floyd. Here's the whole first verse, for the proper context:

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
Fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your hometown
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way

This lyrical rock masterpiece sprang to mind this week as we watched the Democrats... um... not get much of anything done. It's as if they had all the time in the world -- which they most assuredly do not. Especially relevant is that line: "Kicking around on a piece of ground in your hometown," since Congress is once again on vacation all week long. Most people don't even get Columbus/Indigenous Peoples' Day off work, but for Congress it is yet another excuse to blow off an entire week. This isn't that long after they took a month and a half off, mind you. Outdoing the Senate (which just took this week off) was the House, which took an entire two weeks off -- for a minor federal holiday most people have to work on.

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One Year From Now

[ Posted Thursday, October 14th, 2021 – 15:44 UTC ]

One year from now, the midterm elections will be looming in front of us. Candidates will be out on the hustings, frantically campaigning their little hearts out. But what will be the big issues they'll be talking about? It is impossible to say, really, beyond predicting: "it will not be what the pundits are worrying about right now." A year is an absolute eternity in politics, and in a year's time few will remember the topics which are currently hot -- that's a generic prediction that almost always comes true, so it's pretty safe to say right now.

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From The Archives -- The Taxman Cometh

[ Posted Wednesday, October 13th, 2021 – 17:17 UTC ]

There will be no new column today because I have busy been doing my taxes rather than writing. I am (in general) lazy, and therefore usually get an automatic extension, which falls due on October 15th rather than April 15th. Since I've spent all day immersed in tax forms and numbers, I thought I'd revisit taking my rage out at Paul Ryan (and the rest of the usual suspects) for so royally screwing up the tax forms and entire income tax system.

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Cautious Pandemic Optimism

[ Posted Tuesday, October 12th, 2021 – 16:05 UTC ]

Is it time to start getting a little relieved about the state of the COVID-19 pandemic? I've been struck with a cautious case of optimism while doomscrolling over the past few weeks, and I now tend to think the country will likely return to the same sort of semi-normalcy we all experienced in July, probably right after the year-end holidays. I think January and February are going to be very good months, to put this another way.

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Celebrating Indigenous Peoples' Day

[ Posted Monday, October 11th, 2021 – 16:35 UTC ]

Today, according to proclamations issued by President Joe Biden, is both Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples' Day. The latter used to be somewhat of an outlier, only referenced and celebrated in the most liberal of states and cities, but has now been raised to national prominence. So to celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day I'd [...]

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Friday Talking Points -- (Fiscal) Cliff Notes

[ Posted Friday, October 8th, 2021 – 16:56 UTC ]

The past two weeks were a prime example of why so many Americans are so disgusted and disillusioned with Washington politics. There were scary deadlines, meaningless drama, pointless partisanship, obstructionism, and ego-boosting all around. And at the end of the day, nothing really happened except we are all right back where we started from. What appeared to be a drama-filled few weeks of politics produced precisely zero result. Which is why so many citizens have just tuned out of the process entirely -- because it is usually frustratingly idiotic and nothing short of a massive waste of time.

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Biden Makes The Case For Vaccine Mandates

[ Posted Thursday, October 7th, 2021 – 15:13 UTC ]

The fastest and easiest way out of the COVID-19 pandemic -- and back to a fully-functioning economy -- is to get as many people as possible vaccinated. That was Joe Biden's message today, in a speech he gave promoting support for vaccine mandates. It was his strongest statement on the subject to date, and he tied it at every step to getting both daily life and the economy fully back to normal.

Biden's timing is pretty good, because many vaccine mandates which had been announced a month or so ago (back at the height of the Delta spike) are finally taking effect. People are getting fired because of their continuing refusal to get vaccinated. But, as Biden pointed out, while most of the news stories center around the few hundred who get fired, they mostly ignore the tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of people who not only keep their jobs, but can now do so more safely. Which was Biden's core message: vaccine mandates work. They save lives, in the end.

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Debt Ceiling Hostage-Taking Will Happen Again And Again

[ Posted Wednesday, October 6th, 2021 – 15:41 UTC ]

It's rare that I engage in "both-sides-ism," but I have to admit being disgusted by the games being played by both parties over the needed debt ceiling rise. Nobody's hands are really clean on this one, sad to say, even though the sides aren't exactly equal in their culpability -- Democrats really should have taken care of this long before now, but Republicans are nihilistically cheering for the destruction of the American economy (while giving lip service to the idea that "of course that shouldn't happen -- perish the thought!").

In fact, I'm not even going to get into deconstructing the ins and outs of the various machinations under discussion right now in the Senate, because I trust that we are just not going to hit the deadline. Unlike shutting down the government for a few days (or even a few weeks), defaulting on the national debt and not being able to pay our bills would have much wider and much more dire consequences, and it would not be an easy thing to recover from. So I trust it isn't going to come to that, and thus refuse to get lost in the weeds of what Chuck Schumer, Mitch McConnell, and Joe Biden are currently trying to work out.

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Getting The Media Beyond The Number

[ Posted Tuesday, October 5th, 2021 – 14:33 UTC ]

President Joe Biden and the rest of the Democratic Party have so far not had much notable success in getting their real message out on the "Build Back Better" budget reconciliation bill. This isn't entirely Biden's fault, of course, since a lot of the blame falls on the media as well. And the Democrats who truly want to see this historic legislation pass are also hamstrung by two realities -- the bill doesn't really exist yet, and the media has kept a singular focus on the overall amount of new spending the bill will contain.

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Why Is Everyone So Shocked That Biden Did Exactly What He Said He Was Going To Do?

[ Posted Monday, October 4th, 2021 – 16:21 UTC ]

Far too often, I find myself getting irate with the mainstream political press for being intentionally obtuse and refusing to remember what happened only a short time ago. This weekend was one of those times. The chattering classes on the Sunday political shows tried to frame what had just happened at the Capitol as some sort of plot twist -- some unforeseen development that was simply unprecedented and shocking. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. When President Joe Biden went to the Capitol and informed Democrats not only that he wanted to see the budget reconciliation bill pass but also that he would be willing to wait -- and that he didn't care that the infrastructure bill would be delayed -- you would have thought by the reaction that he had somehow changed his mind or "thrown his lot in with the progressives." This was the refrain I heard all Sunday morning, in fact. Biden had surprisingly sided with the progressives, when many people had expected him to join the moderates in their demand that the infrastructure bill be passed before any action was taken on the reconciliation bill. But this is narrative is completely false.

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