Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Duplicitous Bastards

These are they who insist on their right to easily buy guns, to own as many guns as they wish. They who insist that mass shootings should be dealt with by prosecution. They who vehemently oppose any addressment of the question of who should be permitted to own guns. They who would only treat the symptoms of gun violence; who dare not look to science for the causes. They who think their Second Amendment rights are more important than the lives of mass shooting victims.

When it comes to voting rights, these same they are those who would make it difficult if not impossible for millions to vote whom they think might vote differently from them. They who think that not everyone has the right to vote. They who fear that the right to vote might fall into the wrong hands. They who think it far better to suppress the votes of many rather than take a chance that the one vote might fall into the wrong hands. They who think laws and prosecution are not the answer for voter fraud. They who deny the absence of voter fraud.

True enough, voters don’t have a Second Amendment giving them the constitutional right to vote (This isn’t the Constitution’s only flaw). Gun owners didn’t have one either before Justice Scalia performed his magic trick in Heller, and then bullied the Court into going along with him. Today, in this the 21st Century, in a democracy, the right to vote is a far more important right than the right to own an assault weapon, a gun.

Peace in Libya?

Peace in Libya?, Econospeak, Barkley Rosser

 On the tenth anniversary of the Arab Spring uprisings that held so much hope at the time but would lead eventually only to one nation, Tunisia where they started, ending up with a democratic government, while others ended up with either authoritarian governments such as Egypt or in ongoing states of internal war, such as Syria, Yemen, and Libya. But now it appears there might be hope for a peaceful, if not necessarily fully democratic, the outcome in Libya.

Since the end of the Qaddafi regime, the nation has been split into eastern and western parts, with a UN-recognized government based in Tripoli in the west at war with a competing regime based in Benghazi in the east. Each of these has had a melange of foreign backers, with those providing the most military aid to each side being Turkey for the Tripoli-based government and Russia for the Benghazi-based one. Not too long ago the Benghazi-based one came close to defeating the Tripoli-based one, until a new surge of military aid and support, including the introduction of mercenary Syrian fighters, helped the Tripoli-based one push back the attempted assault on Tripoli back to a position where the nation is roughly equally divided, although it appears that the Benghazi-based regime controls the majority of the oil-producing zones with the revenue from that accruing to it.

Is Senator John Kennedy a Buffoon?

Republican Equates Gun Control To Attacking Sober Drivers, Crooks and Liars, John Amato

The Republican argument strengthens the militaristic ones inhabiting states like Michigan. Empowered by the rhetoric coming from a Senator (Kennedy) or a President (trump) of the United States, they storm the capitol or plot the kidnapping of governors with little fear.

John Amato: In response to the second gun massacre in a week, and a day after a new tragedy in Colorado, Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) claimed that using common-sense gun laws to curb unparalleled carnage is like taking the driver licenses away from every sober driver in America.

I kid you not.

Republicans are claiming that having more comprehensive background checks, and outlawing semi-automatic assault weapons that kill an insane number of people is equal to taking away every gun from every legal gun owner.

During a Senate hearing on reducing gun violence, Sen. Kennedy said, 

“We have a lot of drunk drivers in America that kill a lot of people. We ought to try to combat that too, but I think what many folks on my side of the aisle are saying is that the answer is not to get rid of all sober drivers.”

In Response:

Save The Post Office’s Service Performance Dashboard

Steve Hutkins at Save The Post Office

Save The Post Office’s Service Performance Dashboard provides easier access to recent performance reports shared by the Postal Service with the Postal Regulatory Commission, Congress, the courts (as part of litigation involving mail delays), and FOIA requests. This capability is not readily available today.

NB: This is not an official USPS website.

Charted First Class Service Performance March – Dec. 2020

"Save the Post Office" launches new Service Performance Dashboard

Definitions

Democrats: legislate the society you want to live in first; worry about how to pay for it afterward

Democrats: legislate the society you want to live in first; worry about how to pay for it afterward

I want to add my voice to and amplify several themes I have read elsewhere in recent weeks. To summarize:

1. If there is no majority to kill the Senate filibuster, reforming it into an actual talking filibuster is almost as good, and maybe even better.

2. Each element of the democratic constituency should have at least one tangible and visible priority of theirs enacted during the Congress, and all other democratic constituencies should support that enactment, so that at midterm election time, Democrats have something to tout to their voters.

3. In contrast to how democrats governed when they had both the Presidency and Congressional majorities in 1993-94 and 2009-10, when they adopted “pay-go,” meaning they had to come up with revenue sources before passing their actual priorities, they should reverse the order now: enact the programs they think are important, and worry about paying for them later.

Let me discuss each of the above in a little more detail in turn.

Conservatism

Back when they came up with the shtick about divine right, was a time when the people were more amenable to such. If not, then they, the people, could almost always be convinced. After the monarchies, and their off-shoots the sub-monarchies of Lords and Ladies, began losing some of their divine radiance, this at about the same time that the people started to become more enlightened, the true blues realized that they needed to come up with something better. This time, they would need a more subtle way of convincing the masses of their entitle. They, the true blues, of course, did neither the coming up with nor the convincing. True to form, they found someone to do it for them. Not that finding someone would be difficult in the least. Seems there was always a few sycophants, would be court philosophers, toadying about; the George Wills, the Grover Norquists, the Bill Kristols, …, of the day, if you will.

Thus begun and so proceeded the evolution of thought on hierarchical conservatism: Those accepting of divine rights called themselves ‘Tories’. They were to be followed those who spoke of this they called conservatism, a new way of according special rights to those of wealth whilst acknowledging that sovereignty belonged to the people; rather a combination of the hierarchical and the parliamentarian. Clear as mud, no? Still and all, it was all about rationalizing the right of the wealthy to more rights than anyone else, and not about clarity. Modern political/economic, hierarchical, conservatism is still very much all about this rationalization. Those making up this support group for the better off call themselves conservatives. Call themselves what they will, there really is no other underlying philosophy other this rationalization for skewed wealth distribution. Wouldn’t do to leave off the many economists who have also served as court philosophers. Names Milton Friedman and Fred Hayek ring any bells? These hierarchical conservatives are invariably republicans.

“Save the Post Office” launches new Service Performance Dashboard

Save The Post Office‘s, Steve Hutkins

With all the attention to delivery delays over the past several months and the Postmaster General’s plans to relax delivery standards — as well as calls for more transparency about postal operations — this seems like a good time to launch a Service Performance Dashboard.

The Postal Service itself publishes a useful service performance dashboard, but it shows only quarterly performance scores, and it just goes back a year. The Postal Service has also started a second dashboard that uses its new organizational structure of divisions and regions, but at this point it only shows FY2021 Q1.  For more detailed reports, you need to dig around in the website of the Postal Regulatory Commission, and the reports there usually need to be downloaded in order to see them. Some of the PRC’s reports, like those requested recently from the USPS as part of the annual compliance review (discussed in this post), are almost impossible to find if don’t know where to look.

51st anniversary of the largest wildcat strike in U.S. labor history

Steve Hutkins: This week marks the 51st anniversary of the largest wildcat strike in U.S. labor history: The Great Postal Strike of 1970

March 18th marks the day fifty-one years ago when postal workers walked off the job in New York City in what soon became the largest wildcat strike in U.S. labor history. Last March we posted this article by postal historian Phil Rubio, author of Undelivered: From the Great Postal Strike of 1970 to the Manufactured Crisis of the U.S. Postal Service.

The article is as good as ever, so Save the Post Office is posting it again this year.


For eight days in March 1970, over 200,000 postal workers staged an illegal “wildcat” strike — the largest in United States history — for better wages and working conditions. Picket lines started in New York and spread across the country like wildfire. Strikers defied court injunctions, threats of termination, and their own union leaders.

In the negotiated aftermath, the U.S. Post Office became the U.S. Postal Service, and postal workers received full collective bargaining rights and wage increases, all the while continuing to fight for greater democracy within their unions. Using archives, periodicals, and oral histories, Philip Rubio shows how this strike, born of frustration and rising expectations and emerging as part of a larger 1960s – 1970s global rank-and-file labor upsurge, transformed the post office and postal union.

In this post, Dr. Rubio writes about the importance of commemorating the nationwide postal wildcat strike on the day of its fiftieth anniversary. You can also read his 2015 blog post, which includes a more detailed account of the strike, here.

Summers ignores politics, unfairly blames progressives

Larry Summer is still criticizing the American Recovery Plan.  Summers:

In his latest attack on the recent rush of stimulus, Summers told David Westin on Bloomberg Television’s “Wall Street Week” that “what was kindling, is now igniting” given the recovery from Covid will stoke demand pressure at the same time as fiscal policy has been aggressively eased and the Federal Reserve has “stuck to its guns” in committing to loose monetary policy.

“These are the least responsible fiscal macroeconomic policy we’ve have had for the last 40 years,” Summers said. “It’s fundamentally driven by intransigence on the Democratic left and intransigence and the completely irresponsible behavior in the whole of the Republican Party.”

Summers, a top official in the past two Democratic administrations, has emerged as one of the leading critics among Democrat-leaning economists of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic plan. Summers warned in the interview the U.S. was facing a “pretty dramatic fiscal-monetary collision.”

He said there is a one-in-three chance that inflation will accelerate in the coming years and the U.S. could face stagflation. He also saw the same chance of no inflation because the Fed would hit the brakes hard and push the economy toward recession. The final possibility is that the Fed and Treasury will get rapid growth without inflation.

I don’t have any expertise on the macroeconomic issues, but I do disagree with his exclusive focus on macroeconomic policy, and with his view of the politics, especially his criticism of the Democratic left. 

Let’s assume that the ARP steps too hard on the gas pedal and creates some risk of inflation/stagnation/recession.  That could happen, and in a perfect world Congress might have passed a smaller bill today focused on preventing immediate suffering, and then passed additional stimulus if needed in 6 or 12 months.  I think Democrats had two good reasons not to do this.

Sen Raphael Warnock First Senate Floor Speech – Voter Suppression

I posted a YouTube of Warnock’s speech along with snippets of it.There are other valuable portions of it worth putting into print if I could type that fast. Alas, this four fingered typist is not so fast or adroit. The memory works for a few sentences. It is a good speech!

Using the Big Lie of Voter Fraud as a pretext to Voter Suppression

“The People Of Georgia sent their first African American Senator and first Jewish Senator my brother John Ossoff to these hallowed halls. But the what happened? Some politicians did not approve of the choice made by the majority of voters in a hard fought election to in which each side got the chance to make its case to the voters. And rather than adjusting their agenda, rather than changing their methods, they are busy trying to change the rules.

We are witnesses right now a massive unabashed assault on voting rights unlike anything we have ever seen since the Jim Crow era. This is Jim Crow in new clothes.”

“The People have spoken. Therefore we must make sure ‘all’ of the people can speak.

Access to Voting and preempting politicians efforts to restrict voting is so fundamental to our democracy that it is too important to be held hostage by a senate rule especially one historically used to restrict expansion of voting rights.

We must find a way to pass voting rights whether we get rid of the filibuster or not.

Mr. President I yield the floor.”