Archive of Articles for March, 2022

Will Rare Earths Be Supported In Biden's D.P.A. Order?

[ Posted Thursday, March 31st, 2022 – 16:40 UTC ]

President Joe Biden has just announced he will be using the Defense Production Act of 1950 to support the mining of some critical minerals, to ensure that America produces more of these elements that are necessary for the high-tech world we live in. This is important, as we've all seen the automobile industry struggle to build cars when things like computer chips are in short supply. The scarcity of one product (or even one element of one product) has ripple effects throughout all sorts of supply chains. It's not just cars, either -- the biggest thing Biden's new order addresses is the minerals needed for the batteries which power hundreds of millions of the devices which are now almost necessary for modern life. But I have to wonder whether this is going to include rare earth elements -- because it really should.

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McCarthy Gives Cawthorn A Stern Talking-To, But Refuses To Actually Do Anything

[ Posted Wednesday, March 30th, 2022 – 15:13 UTC ]

The only sin a Republican can commit these days that merits any sort of consequences from members of their own party seems to be to badmouth or otherwise cast aspersions on either (1) Donald Trump, or (2) any Republican politician in good standing with Donald Trump. This is the new GOP Rubicon, it seems. Falling afoul of this standard means shunning and perhaps excommunication from the Republican ranks, but anything short of it (and it's getting more and more obvious that they really do mean anything) might lead to a strong talking-to, at worst.

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The Pile Of Evidence Grows Higher By The Day

[ Posted Tuesday, March 29th, 2022 – 15:30 UTC ]

When Donald Trump was president, he came up with a rather fantastical reading of the United States Constitution. Perhaps "reading" is too strong a word, since it has always been plainly obvious that he's never bothered to read the document at all, in whole or in part. But someone planted and germinated an idea in him and his articulation of it was: "I can do anything I want as president." Sometimes he'd attempt to point to "Article II" of the Constitution (which, for the record, most definitely does not say the president can do anything he or she wants to do). For Trump, the non-existence of the "anything I want" power within the Constitution didn't matter one whit, since he had already convinced the only person that ever mattered to him (himself) that it just had to be true, so he took it as his personal North Star. Which is why this week's developments in uncovering his culpability for the events of January 6th should really come as no surprise. The only question that remains is whether he'll be allowed to get away with his blatant disregard for what the Constitution actually does say, or whether there will be any consequences at all for such behavior.

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California Has Too Much Money

[ Posted Monday, March 28th, 2022 – 15:46 UTC ]

That headline isn't a judgment in any way, nor is it a metaphor or pun or even a boast. It's the literal truth -- California's state government has too big a budget surplus. They've got too much money, and the only question is what to do with it. This may sound strange, since governments normally don't fret about having too much in their coffers, but there is a 1970s-era state law that says that they're going to have to send some of it back to the taxpayers. So that's what the politicians in Sacramento are now arguing about -- how to rebate this money and to whom.

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Friday Talking Points -- The Circus Comes To Town

[ Posted Friday, March 25th, 2022 – 18:07 UTC ]

Lo, how far the moralistic mavens of the Republican Party have fallen! They keep attempting to take the moral high road so they can piously point out all the failings of their political opponents in this realm... but they keep being undermined by fellow Republicans who have embraced the new amoralism Donald Trump ushered in to the GOP.

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Debating Iowa's Place In The Primary Calendar

[ Posted Thursday, March 24th, 2022 – 15:52 UTC ]

Iowa's prominence among the states that hold early voting in the Democratic presidential primaries seems to now be in some jeopardy. Party officials are openly discussing whether to revamp the process of selecting which states get to hold the earliest votes, which continues a reform effort that has been ongoing for quite a while now. Once the primary system replaced the "smoke-filled back rooms" in the party's selection of a nominee in the 1970s, there have been efforts to tinker with who goes first. Iowa and New Hampshire fended off most of these reform efforts and held their position as, respectively, the first caucus state and the first primary state to vote in the nation. More recently, the party acknowledged the dearth of minorities in these two states by adding South Carolina (with a high percentage of Black voters) and Nevada (with many Latino voters) to balance things out a bit.

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Fighting The Russian Army To A Draw

[ Posted Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022 – 15:40 UTC ]

The Russian army has proven to be a lot less impressive than many (including myself, I must in all honesty admit) had previously thought. Ditto the Russian air force. A war of choice waged by an invader with what appeared to be overwhelming military superiority has just not played out as Vladimir Putin expected. They are bogged down, perhaps for good. Their advance has been halted almost everywhere in Ukraine. Today brought the news that Ukrainian forces are actually recapturing territory and pushing the Russians back. This is an astonishing turn of events. Could the war actually be at a turning point? It is likely too early to make such a declaration, but even the fact that there now exists the possibility of that being true gives both the Ukrainians and the rest of the free world hope.

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Watching The Ketanji Brown Jackson Hearings

[ Posted Tuesday, March 22nd, 2022 – 15:40 UTC ]

I have been watching the Senate confirmation hearings on the nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, both today and yesterday, and as usual I am struck by the Kabuki nature of any and all of these hearings. The outcome is a foregone conclusion -- Jackson is going to be confirmed to the high court -- and it is likely that no senator is going to thoughtfully change his or her vote because of anything said in the hearing room. All Democrats seem to be on board with confirming her, almost all Republicans are going to vote against her, and the only real question is whether one or possibly two Republicans will give President Joe Biden a thin veneer of "bipartisanship" to her nomination. Which is ultimately meaningless, since it doesn't matter how many senators wind up voting for any justice's confirmation, as long as it is a majority of them.

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When Will The January 6th Committee Go Public?

[ Posted Monday, March 21st, 2022 – 16:42 UTC ]

At some point, the House January 6th Select Committee is going to start going public with what they have uncovered. This will begin with open hearings on national television, featuring witnesses chosen to relate a storyline the committee's members already largely know. Soon after, an "interim report" will be released, and then the committee's final report is planned "before the midterm election." The question of when all this will begin to happen, however, is not yet clear.

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Friday Talking Points -- A Wrinkle In Time

[ Posted Friday, March 18th, 2022 – 17:19 UTC ]

Something rather astonishing happened on Capitol Hill this week. The Senate passed a bill by unanimous consent, acting with such blinding speed that some senators weren't even aware of what was happening. Contrast this to the Senate's usual modus operandi, which is for things to move so slowly that a glacier would be seen as zipping along by comparison. Arcane parliamentary procedures are routinely used to gum up the legislative works, which often leads to nothing at all happening -- after spending enormous amounts of time and energy in the attempt.

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