Apologies for the prolonged radio silence, as you may have seen I recently started a new job at The American Prospect. It turns out being managing editor of a print magazine is a ton of work involving a lot of things I hadn't done in nearly a decade. For the first couple months I just didn't have the time or inclination to put these out, and got out of the habit.
However, I'm getting back into the groove, and it's time to revive this sucker. I've been writing at the Prospect and also an occasional column for MSNBC, so it's a perfect place to keep everything rounded up. I hope to have some more time for actual articles and videos on here as well, but in the meantime, I'll do a normal collection.
As usual, book orders are appreciated. My publisher tells me that I'm fairly close to "earning out" the advance for my book—so a few more hardcover orders, and it'll get into the territory of commercial success! Also, on the latest Left Anchor episode, we talked to a labor journalist about how the Amazon Labor Union pulled off an astonishing upset at the Staten Island warehouse. On to the articles.
First, me and Alex Sammon did some digging into how a Tennessee member of Congress met his wife:
Given all of that, it is newsworthy that a powerful conservative Tennessee politician married someone less than half his age, after several connections between the two when the young woman was in high school and college, including the granting of a scholarship to her named after Rose’s parents. One scarcely needs to mention that relationships involving that kind of yawning gap in power and wealth have a problematic history.
Biden is basically doing the right thing for Ukraine:
On the other side, for Ukraine this is a war of national survival. Ukrainians can see that Russia intends to destroy their democracy and impose a terrible despotism, if not attempt to exterminate Ukrainian culture altogether. They know what Russian forcesdid to innocent civilians in Bucha, the tens of thousands of body bags and mobile crematoria they apparently brought, the brutal “filtration camps” set up outside occupied cities, and the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians to deep in the Russian interior. It’s all highly reminiscent of the murderous tactics Putin used to crush rebellion in Chechnya years ago, and it’s why the war has all but obliterated any pro-Russian sentiment in eastern Ukraine.
Moderate Dems are not going to help running against their own party:
The only reliable motivator in politics anymore is dislike of the other team, and Republicans are the most hateable major party in the world. It’s the party of whipping up violent hatred against trans people and bringing back the endemic vicious homophobia of the 1980s. It’s the party of returning to back-alley coat hanger abortions and forcing rape victims to bear the children of their assailants. It’s the party of bringing back measles, mumps, rubella, and polio by ending vaccine requirements in public schools. And if the snide right-wing demagogue attacking public schoolteachers as “groomers” gets his way, it’s the party of ending public schools entirely.
How China bungled the pandemic at the one-yard line:
But by the same token, America’s endless pandemic face-plants—most recently, failing to fund vaccination and testing—do not excuse China’s unbelievable dithering on vaccination. Once the coronavirus was established in multiple additional animal species in late 2020, eradicating the virus was impossible. Once omicron made COVID the most contagious virus ever, every country was going to face a wave of infection sooner or later, and mass vaccination is by far the most effective tool against that threat. China is a country with a police state that is reportedly capable of testing all 26 million residents of Shanghai in a single week. It simply beggars belief to think the Communist Party leadership couldn’t get virtually every person over 65 vaccinated at some point over the last year if they had made it a priority.
Joe Manchin stuck a finger in the eye of almost every parent with children under 18 years old, and they're not happy:
It makes for an interesting concrete test case of polling on theoretical issues versus actual concrete policies. Back in September, before Manchin had killed the Biden agenda, Shor and Simon Bazelon argued in Matt Yglesias’s newsletter that Democrats should drastically tighten the means test on the expanded CTC—cutting off most middle-class families—because while this would irritate current recipients, it would make the overall program somewhat more popular. Now we see what happened when we followed that suggestion to an extreme: People who lost their money are spitting mad, and voters as a whole don’t care at all. Imagine that.
Conservative Democrats got everything they wanted, it sucks, and now they're blaming everyone but themselves:
It’s notable that Murphy doesn’t mention a single item in BBB that she opposed, much less that would bring socialism to our shores. Nor does she provide any evidence whatsoever that destroying Biden’s agenda was even helpful to her politically. That’s probably because the particulars of BBB poll at about 65 to 70 percent support. Letting Medicare negotiate prescription drug prices, for instance, polls at 4-to-1 support—and it’s something Democrats have been promising to do for almost two decades straight. By the same token, even a passing familiarity with peer nations renders her notion that Biden’s agenda is some kind of Bolshevik revolution totally unhinged. It wouldn’t be out of place in a center-right German party platform, let alone the Nordic social democracies.
American health care continues to be the worst in the rich world:
More broadly, America continues to have the most expensive health care on Earth. According to 2019 numbers (the best data we have on how health care systems work outside of a pandemic), we spend about 16.8 percent of GDP on health care — or 5.1 percentage points more than the second-most expensive country, Germany. If Americans spent what Germans do on health care, we would save something like $1.1 trillion annually. If we count premium payments as taxes — which they arguably are, since they are de facto mandatory — then American workers are the second-most highly taxed in the world.
See you next week!