It’s Your Economy, Stupid GOPr

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

I’ve had it. I’m fed up with the attacks on the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress about the economy when the problem is and has been the GOP.

The same GOP which has steadfastly encouraged Americans to avoid vaccines and boosters, reject wearing masks, ignore the need for social distancing and better ventilation to prevent the ongoing spread of COVID, ultimately weakening the country’s workforce and reducing the number of healthy workers.

The same GOP which has persistently supported Putin’s demoralization and destabilization of this country, even though they knew Trump was an asset — we haven’t forgotten Kevin McCarthy’s blurting it out back in 2016 and the rest of the GOP congressional caucus continuing their omertà — ultimately encouraging Putin to attack Ukraine setting economic sanctions in motion.

Now there are GOP candidates who are running not only on the worst of Trumpism, expressing naked racism, misogyny, other forms of xenophobia, but running on just plain stupidity about the economy.

I swear I could publish a post at least once a week cataloguing so much fresh stupid.

Today’s idiot is a GOP senate candidate, Blake Masters, who has already distinguished himself within the last week with a racist remark aimed at Black Americans.

Masters decided today he wanted it his way:

Sir, this is a McDonald’s.

Masters has no fucking clue why there aren’t enough fast food workers to take orders, as if COVID didn’t kill more than a million Americans causing a cascade of job losses due to long COVID, difficulty finding and keeping safe daycare for children and eldercare, scared off older employees who’d rather tough it out on their Social Security than risk getting sick, made transportation more challenging because the used car market is tight and parts and labor for repairs equally tight, public transport shared with maskless riders, so on.

And last but not least, fast food workers’ wages have not kept up with the increase in rent driven upward by speculation.

That’s why you’re looking at a goddamned self-operated kiosk, Masters.

Not to mention potential employees don’t want to take the risk on an employer which can’t be bothered to post wages or the number of available openings.

Applicants need to know before they even bother to apply because the average rent in Marana, AZ on a 1-bedroom apartment is $1542 a month. A worker needs in excess of $15/hour at 40 hours a week to make the rent — not including any other expenses like food or clothing or water or electricity or health insurance — and fast food jobs aren’t 40 hours a week because the companies want to avoid paying unemployment benefits.

The remaining fast food restaurant workers are moving into other industries because they can’t afford the irregular, too few hours combined with the lack of benefits, the crappy management, and the chronic mistreatment by customers on top of exposure on the regular to COVID.

But go ahead and expose your gross ignorance, Masters, punching down on the people who can least afford the time to rebut your whining.

The people who should rebut Masters’ whining are the Arizona corporations which do business in or rely on automation and robotics — businesses which will replace the crappy jobs fast food workers can’t afford, while improving the Arizona economy with better paid design and manufacturing jobs.

Like these companies, to name a few: Stanley Black & Decker, Nogales AZ; Caterpillar, Tuscon AZ; Lucid Motors and IPE Aerospace, Tempe AZ.

I hope Arizonans are smart enough not to fall for Blake Masters’ ignorant Trumpiness. If he hasn’t already figure out how stupid he is (being a potential victim of Dunning-Kruger), he may inflict some wretched stupidity on Arizona and the rest of the nation.

Seriously, can Arizonans trust him not to lick the kiosk display?

‘This Time Is Going to Be Different’: Confronting the NRA

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

I can’t read one more story today about the fathomless horror children, teachers, and parents experienced in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday. Each new report nauseates me learning that Texas state and local government failed their most vulnerable citizens repeatedly.

Knowing that a child had to play dead after swabbing themselves in their dead friend’s blood is just…I don’t have words for this, only tears and an urge to scream and rail.

If this representative was mine, I’d be screaming at him.


Par for the course with this guy who succeeded NRA’s buddy Will Hurd for Texas’s 23rd congressional district.

Utterly useless and irresponsible, unresponsive to the needs of his constituents while doing little more than lobbying for guns.

Fortunately, the young people of Texas aren’t taking the attack on their futures lying down. We’ve seen protests after mass shootings before but this feels different — they are taking it right to the NRA.

Yeah, this really feels different.

There will be more protests tomorrow against the NRA in Houston outside the organization’s convention when big name doofuses like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump show up.

I hope more protests will occur in Uvalde against this monstrous wretch who is trying to suck up to the NRA and patronize Uvalde’s citizens at the same time. One can only wonder if polling told him to do this.

You’ll recall David Hogg is a survivor of the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. He continues to fight for the rights of young Americans to live without the terror of gun violence.

Hogg’s promoting the next rallies on June 11. By then Congress will be back in session.

It will take more than these rallies to make change happen, though. I hope there’s effort on the ground to encourage voter registration and education about candidates who support gun control.

There’s No Doubt the GOP Now Has Weapons of Mass Destruction [UPDATE-1]

[NB: Check the bylines, thanks. Updates at the bottom of this post. /~Rayne]

I’ve been frozen by anguish and anger, unable to write something about the mass murder in Uvalde, Texas. Whatever I dump here emerges from this, and some of it will be others’ words because they’ve said it better and more succinctly.

~ ~ ~

We’ve had some discussion in one of the threads about Beto O’Rourke’s attempt to question current Texas governor Greg Abbott about Abbott’s response to Uvalde.

Abbott’s minions shouted down O’Rourke, who as a Texan was entitled to know what the state’s top elected official was doing in response to the mass murder.

This encapsulates everything which is wrong with Abbott — he and the people he surrounds himself with don’t give a flying fuck about Texans. The Abbott administration is a goddamned joke.

This careless disregard will affect more than a couple of generations of Texans who’ve already had to deal with Abbott’s general uselessness against Texas’s isolated energy grid which killed a child along with 110 other Texans in 2021.

57.5% of Texas is not white; the largest portion of this non-white population is Hispanic/Latin, making up 39.3% of the state’s citizens according to a badly-run 2020 US Census which undercounted Texas citizens and undocumented residents alike.

Which means Texas is more than 40% Hispanic/Latin and Gov. Greg Abbott could give a flying fuck how they feel about Tuesday’s mass murder he enabled by signing an bill with the loosest open carry regulations in the nation.

He really hasn’t given but lip service after previous mass murders with assault weapons in his state, supporting increasing laxity about gun control in Texas in spite of six mass shootings since he was first elected governor in 2015.

Not just supporting increasing laxity, but doing so in the face of a majority’s support for increased gun controls from banning assault rifles to background checks before sales.

The Texas Tribune does a phenomenal job of laying out how Abbott has consistently ignored Texans’ sentiments while not pointing a finger at him alone. Abbott is doing what the GOP and its foreign-financed sponsor the National Rifle Association have wanted him to do: demoralize Texans and destabilize it so that state and federal government are undermined and lose support of the people.

~ ~ ~

We had quite a few heated discussions here in the wake of George Floyd’s murder-by-cop and subsequent protests against police abuse. The heat focused on “defunding the police” rather than the problem itself: increasing militarization of the police at all levels has not led to fewer murders-by-cop, nor to reducing the number of BIPOC Americans murdered by cop, extrajudicially executed by police who’ve more or less been granted absolute immunity because of the way “qualified immunity” has been applied.

Stop arguing about the effectiveness of the message, “defund the police.” Don’t even try to offer “reform policing” as an alternative. Not when police stood by and let a shooter terrorize and murder a classroom yesterday, restraining parents from going in to help, whisking cops’ kids to safety, coaching potential victims to yell for police help only to have the shooter kill a victim who yelled, “Help!”


These people right here:


called the U.S. Border Patrol to help them unlock a fucking classroom door.

$4 million a year –40% of its annual budget — plus grants the city of Uvalde has spent on policing only to have their police attacking frightened parents in some twisted form of crowd control as they stood there outside a locked classroom waiting for the gunman to do whatever it was he was going to do.

Greg Abbott went to a fundraiser that evening even as the blood of children and their teacher dried on the floor of that once locked classroom, as their parents’ DNA was collected for identifying the victims who had surely be turned into mincemeat by an AR-15. That was his response to the mass shooting: pay me, I’m delivering for you, he is telling his sponsors who are perfectly alright with a demoralized, destabilized Texas.

This is the response of police elsewhere: double down on what hasn’t worked since 1999 in Columbine.

[Tweet deleted by Rochester @News_8 which said police there were looking into more active shooter training]

It’s only a matter of time before we are offered the excuse that the AR-15 armed killer could take out Uvalde’s police the way the AR-15 armed killer took out the armed guard at the grocery store in Buffalo NY during a mass shooting ten days earlier.

Except there’s no comparison between a lone security guard not wearing a plate carrier and a militarized SWAT team which should have had far more training to deal with a lone gunman situation.

We’ve already heard the excuse from that malignant sluggard Abbott that the shooter was mentally ill, an assumption based on little to know evidence. And of course Abbott is responsible for the cutting funding for mental health care in Texas.

Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday that the Uvalde school shooter had a “mental health challenge” and the state needed to “do a better job with mental health” — yet in April he slashed $211 million from the department that oversees mental health programs.

In addition, Texas ranked last out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia for overall access to mental health care, according to the 2021 State of Mental Health in America report.

“We as a state, we as a society, need to do a better job with mental health,” Abbott said during a news conference at Robb Elementary School, where a gunman shot and killed 19 children and two teachers on Tuesday. …

Texans, you can do better than this lousy lying hack. You deserve better. Se merecen algo mejor que Abbott, tejanos.

Take it all down and start over. Rethink public safety from the ground up because it’s not working and it only gives the worst kinds opportunities to grift — like Abbott’s fundraising.

~ ~ ~

Even more frustrating than the endless stream of pablum offered by stupid gits like Ted Cruz, or rebellious threats against the president like Florida’s state house rep Randy Fine is the inability to connect dots.

The mass murder by an AR-15 carrying teen and previous mass shootings have been encouraged by the GOP because they are bought and owned by the gun manufacturers’ lobby, the NRA. The NRA doesn’t give a shit about Americans; it only cares that there is a sustained market for its products. It only cares that a minority of Americans are rabid enough about gun rights to act as enforcers for the lobby’s demands.

The lobby itself has been bought and owned by Russia following the 2010 Citizens United decision; a flood of Russian money laundered through the NRA bought GOP elected officials and candidates.

The Senate Finance Committee’s 2019 report based on an 18-month investigation said the NRA was a Russian ‘foreign asset’ before the 2016 election.

Considering who the NRA continues to support with campaign donations — like Senators Mitch McConnell (total $1,267,139 )and Rand Paul (total $104,456) whose state Kentucky has also been courted with Russian oligarch money — it’s likely still a foreign asset.

The NRA continues to buy the GOP; it remains pleased with the results of its lobbying because it hasn’t changed its mode of operation no matter how many mass shootings and deaths there have been.

[Screenshot, distribution of 2020 election cycle donations by NRA to major national political parties (FEC data via OpenSecrets)]

In short, Russia is conducting war on the US through its proxies the NRA and the GOP, ensuring weapons of mass destruction remain in the hands of people who are vulnerable to messaging encouraging violence — messaging which may arise from active measures over social media as a subset of Russia’s hybrid warfare..

The GOP need not worry about Putin escalating his assault on Ukraine into a nuclear war involving the US.

They’re already killing plenty of Americans using American weapons of mass destruction on American soil without a single drop of blood spattered on Putin’s doorstep.

Why would Putin waste a single warhead when the GOP will do all the dirty work for him, sitting on their hands and taking NRA money rather than do what has been proven effective (ban assault weapons) and what is popular (background checks on all gun buyers)?

~ ~ ~

A Twitter thread recap of Uvalde’s preventable disaster:

Do something. Fucking do something constructive to stop this madness, you book-burning child-killing hacks with the R after your name.

For Democrats who were elected to serve this nation, stop enabling both the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction here in our own backyards. Stop enabling lousy policing which clearly isn’t solving the problem of mass shootings in public spaces while it punches down on the public it’s supposed to serve.

For those of us who vote D, help people get IDs to vote, help them register, make sure every voter you know is educated about the ballot in your state/county/city/precinct, and get every voter to polls for the remaining primaries and the mid-term election in November. The life you save may be your own.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 11:00 P.M. 26-MAY-2022 —

I called it.

They had gear as well as training and they weren’t willing to use it because they might have been shot. It’s called dereliction of duty.

If they don’t want to police, then fucking defund the police. Use the budget to deal with the root causes like improved local mental health care and services for precarious residents.

BMS: Breast Milk Substitute? Big Messy Situation [UPDATE-1]

[NB: check the byline, thanks. Updates will appear at the bottom of this post. /~Rayne]

For starters, let me point out the Biden administration has been trying to resolve the current infant formula crisis.


Other media outlets have done a decent job analyzing and reviewing the underlying causes of a disastrous shortage of infant formula in the U.S.

The causes include Trump maintaining bullshit tariffs on Canadian dairy products, COVID interruptions, and the oligopoly of formula producers which came about through the usual capitalistic method of regulatory capture leading to exclusion of competition and an insufficiency of monitoring for food safety.

The short term fixes may not be immediate; China, for example, manufactures formula but it has been struggling with COVID. It’s also had problems in the past with adulteration of infant formula.

Canada is the most obvious closest source but it will take rapid unwinding Trump’s tariffs to allow Canadian formula to backfill demand.

Meanwhile shelves are rapidly emptying depending on location across the country.


Mothers in particular are frantic because they are not only worried about ensuring a regular supply of formula for their infants, but they are being harangued and shamed for not breastfeeding even though breastfeeding isn’t a universal option for all mothers and infants.

This tweet by Midler is extremely disappointing. There are so many reasons why women can’t breastfeed yet they are constantly pressured for not doing so even by other women who should know better.

This is a really excellent thread by a historian on infant formula and breast milk substitutes which explains some of the reasons why parents have not been able to offer breast milk throughout history.


Much of the ignorance about infant feeding and subsequent harassment of mothers is rooted in Americans’ inadequate education about human reproduction as well as basic biology. Adults who’ve graduated from high school should know that mammals produce milk in response to a pregnancy, and once nursing has stopped so, too, does maternal milk production.

A mother can’t simply choose to breastfeed if she had to stop for any reason like difficulty with infant latch on, physical disability, illness, return to work where she can’t readily pump breast milk in privacy, so on.

The worst examples of pressure come from men who know absolutely nothing about breastfeeding having no uterus or birthed a child, and having no breasts. They know nothing of the stress of learning how to feed a newborn, mastering the intricacies of breastfeeding brassieres, learning how to do so in view of others as necessary, how to deal with curiosity or disgust by others who are offended by breastfeeding, how to pump and store breast milk, how to deal with chapped and bleeding nipples as well as unwanted letdown of milk, how to handle the first few times an infant bites its mother’s nipples, and dealing with constant advice and criticism about breastfeeding one’s child from family, friends, and total strangers.

And yet they feel they can lecture women saying, “Just breastfeed the kid.”

The stress new mothers deal with in this country is enormous. It’s no wonder we have a couple generations of anxious children and adults when they literally nurse on this as infants.

~ ~ ~

This situation isn’t going to get better overnight. It’s going to take at least a couple of months before production is up to demand levels and safe for infants.

What are parents who can’t breastfeed and can’t find formula supposed to do?

The White House put together a fact sheet which contains resources for locating formula.

https://www.hhs.gov/formula/index.html

For some parents the first step is finding a breast milk bank nearby; the fact sheet includes a link to

https://www.hmbana.org/find-a-milk-bank/overview.html

But even with all these resources there may be parents who can’t locate formula and are too far from the nearest breast milk bank. In Michigan, for example, there are two banks listed but both are more than 9 hours drive from the largest city in the Upper Peninsula, and the closest to Detroit is still more than an hour’s drive.

What do these parents do?

Having a handful of young friends who are expecting a child within the next six months, I did some research on how we used to feed infants before commercial infant formula was so prevalent.

First, I checked both the World Health Organization and UN’s UNICEF to obtain any resources they offered parents as breast milk substitutes in the event of an emergency.

UNICEF was unhelpful. Their material focused on ready-to-use formula in lieu of breastfeeding, only after pages and pages of material emphasizing human breast milk as a preference over formula. The organization has rightfully worked hard to emphasize breastfeeding as the safest and most reliable method for feeding infants in no small part because breast milk contains bioactive agents formula does not. The organization has fought globally against corporations which have undermined breastfeeding in order to sell commercial infant formula. But for the U.S.’s current situation UNICEF’s policy doesn’t work.

WHO was marginally better; a 43-page brochure spent 39 pages repeating over and over how human breast milk was the best choice for infants, nearly ignoring crises where breast milk and formula were not options.

Thankfully, on page 39 there was a recipe for making an alternative suitable for nursing infants — it consisted of water, evaporated milk, and sugar.

I recalled my youngest sibling adopted at 3 months of age in the early 1970s not consuming commercial formula. Instead they consumed a recipe based on cow’s milk, and this recipe in WHO seemed very similar.

Fortunately, I still have a resource to validate the recipe was the same or very similar. I called my 82-year-old mother and asked her what parents did before casual infant formula was used widely. I told her what I’d found at WHO.

“That’s what you drank,” she said. “That’s what you, your natural siblings and adopted sibling drank. Evaporated milk, water, and sugar, though we used corn syrup instead of sugar to avoid constipation. Oh, and you had infant oral vitamin drops.”

We spent a half hour talking about the hows and whys — she had been working full time as a registered nurse and couldn’t breastfeed her kids. Breastfeeding wasn’t widely seen as socially acceptable either if a mother had to feed an infant outside of the home.

Hygiene was emphasized — ensuring the bottles, lids, and nipples were sterile, that all formula recipe ingredients were heated to kill pathogens and bottled while hot to ensure the formula was safe to consume, along with prompt refrigeration.

Apart from human breast milk having evolved to best suit human infant needs, hygienic production, bottling, and storage are the key reasons why WHO and UNICEF place a premium on breastfeeding over formula and alternatives. Depending on location in the world, the only safe food for an infant may be breast milk especially since water for dry formula mix or use with concentrated canned formula may not be clean.

But one or two generations of Americans were fed canned cow’s milk diluted with water with additional calories supplemented by sweetener. In a pinch we can do it again — at least until the canned milk production supply chain breaks down.

~ ~ ~

CAVEAT: I am NOT a health care professional. I am providing the following on an informational basis which should not be used as a substitute for discussion and guidance with a qualified health care professional.

After talking with my mom I’m sharing what I found on the internet which was what doctors and hospitals used to send home with their new parents as instructions for feeding their new infant, along with the WHO recipe.

Vitamins: For anyone nearing their due date or who has an infant under the age of 6 months: contact your pediatrician or health care provider for a recommendation on infant liquid multivitamin drops and whether they recommend them with or without iron if an alternative to infant formula or breast milk is necessary. Multivitamin drops will supplement what an alternative to formula can’t provide should breastfeeding not be an option.

Nutritional differences: Keep in mind that the evaporated milk alternative is not identical to breast milk; it has more far more protein, for example, which may be more taxing on human kidneys. Compare these different forms of cow’s milk to human breast milk:

Human breast milk (per 8-oz cup): 171 calories, 17 grams carbs, 17 grams sugar, 2.5 grams protein, 11 grams fat

Gut flora: Also keep in mind that a change in diet means a change in gut flora; an infant can become constipated or have other health issues like allergies due to a corresponding change in immune system signaling. Parents should consider broad spectrum probiotics in their own diet because they will pass on their flora through normal contact with their infant. I introduced my children to plain unsweetened yogurt as soon as our family GP approved the addition to their diet (about 6 months); yogurt with live culture is a probiotic food.

WHO’s alternative:

Note that this formulation allows for the use of boiled cow’s milk. NEVER use raw cow’s milk. It’s safest to boil pasteurized cow’s milk. The formulation also allows for canned evaporated milk once it has been reconstituted to the same concentration as fresh milk, and then diluted further per this recipe.

Past examples: These are examples of instructions routinely sent home with new parents in the 1940s through the early 1960s.

[Instructions provided on discharge to new parents in 1945.]

Here’s an excerpt from a paper published in 1957 on evaporated milk in infant feeding.

And an instructional video on how infant formula was prepared at home during the 1950s at this link.

Some recipes like WHO’s call for sugar, but many older recipes refer to corn syrup as a sweetening alternative because it prevents or resolves constipation in some infants.

At least one recipe published by a mommy blog refers to blackstrap molasses as a sweetener because it contains iron and other trace minerals not found in white sugar or white corn syrup.

NEVER use honey. It should NEVER be offered to infants less than a year old due to the risk of botulism.

Parents whose infants and toddlers experience problems with cow’s milk may want to try goat’s milk which is available in canned evaporated form. (There are commercial infant formulas made from goat’s milk.)

NO to Plant-based milks: plant-based milk products like soy or almond milk are NOT appropriate substitutes for commercial infant formula or breast milk. Their nutritional content is in no way similar.

WATER SAFETY: water used to prepare evaporated cow’s (or goat’s) milk formula must be sanitary — heated at a high enough temperature long enough to kill pathogens. Even when mixed with powered infant formula, water should be heated to 158 degrees Fahrenheit/70 degrees Celsius.

~ ~ ~

I’ve already seen lectures and scolding about breastfeeding being best along with more finger wagging about homemade formula because it’s not as healthy as ready-to-use infant formula or powdered infant formula.

To which I say refer back to the tweet thread by Phil Hernandez near the top of this post and look closely at the photos of the shelves taken in Norfolk VA. There’s exactly one breast milk bank listed for the entire state of Virginia and it’s in Norfolk as well.

What the hell are American parents with infants supposed to do when there’s not enough breast milk or commercial formula to go around?

Especially when the U.S. has plenty of evaporated cow’s milk on the shelves while producing too much cow’s milk altogether.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 11:15 PM EDT —

Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation this morning and was asked about the infant formula situation.


He nailed it when he says we have a capitalist system and the government doesn’t make formula. The right-wing has decided it wants to use this capitalist system failure as a means to attack the Biden administration, but the entire regulatory system has been constructed to serve corporations more so than the people who consume products (with the majority of corporations’ support going to the GOP and its candidates).

One only need look at OpenSecret’s data on Abbott Laboratories and Abbott Nutrition‘s campaign contribution history to both major parties to see part of the infant formula industry’s regulatory capture process at work.

The right-wing in this country needs to make up its mind: its political apparatus is either going to stand behind a free market, or more socialized government intervention when competition fails. It only seems to be settled on government getting the way overreaching into women’s uteruses and trans persons’ bathroom stalls and obstructing Black Americans’ access to the voting booth.

What’s particularly irritating about today’s Face the Nation segment is that Buttigieg isn’t the Commerce Secretary or the Health and Human Services Secretary, or the FDA Director.

He’s a concerned adoptive father who told CBS the infant formula situation “is very personal for us,” referring to his two nine-month-old infants.

But sure, let’s beat up on a parent who already has enough to worry about and isn’t responsible for the problem in his day job.

Senate Democrats’ Unanimous Fail

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

This is fucking maddening.

Not one bloody Democrat voted against this unnecessary crap. Local police could do more to enforce ordinances against noise and the lack of protest permits but you had go on the record supporting this fascist suppression of First Amendment speech instead.

Perhaps these Senate Dems were thinking ahead to the day Ketanji Brown Jackson is sworn in as a justice and needs protection. But without any statement to the Democratic base explaining this, the base can only assume they are protecting from First Amendment-protected protests the fascist wing of the SCOTUS which is intent on destroying women’s rights to autonomy.

While Senate Dems’ unanimously support protecting fascist jurists from their neighbors who aren’t happy with them, or gods forbid, the horrors of chalked messages on sidewalks like those which terrified Sen. Susan Collins…

…this is what’s going on in Realityville, USA.

The patient in this thread would have been dead in states where zero tolerance abortion laws have been or will be passed.

She’d tried to avoid getting pregnant and it still wasn’t enough to stop an ectopic pregnancy which threatened her life.

The patient in this next thread would have been prosecuted.

She didn’t even know she was pregnant, but if there had been any misinterpretation of her symptoms and history she would have been prosecuted for aborting the fetus.

As she notes women have already been prosecuted for miscarriages.

While Senate Democrats unanimously supported protections for SCOTUS against so-scary First Amendment protests, states are moving to eliminate women’s basic human rights — like traveling to another state for health care.

Because treating women’s reproductive organs is health care and Texas can’t have that.

Somewhere soon, within hours or days, women are going to begin to die from these anti-abortion, anti-women laws passed in red states. The first will be women with ectopic pregnancies who will bleed out while hospital employees stand around and tell her they can’t do anything about it though the mortal threat can be treated by aborting the unviable pregnancy.

Partitions between states will appear as new state laws are introduced, creating what are little more than concentration camps for women — yes, concentration camps because Texas women of childbearing age will not be able to leave Texas if there’s any possibility they may be pregnant.

Imagine having to take a pregnancy test before being allowed to cross a state line; it’s not an outside possibility.

These laws within these partitioned states will deny fundamental human rights to a class of citizens.

We’ve seen this before and fought a civil war over it.

But do pat yourselves on the back, Senate Democrats — you’ve ensured the Supreme Court’s fascist faction which leaked the salvo setting off this cryptic civil war is protected from women writing poignant demands on the sidewalk in front of their homes.

Go, you. Especially you, Sen. Chris Coons. How bipartisan of you to work with the concentration camp state’s Sen. John Cornyn. Don’t let the appearance of two white men get in the way of shepherding a bill intended to assure the abolition of rights for more than half the population doesn’t inconvenience the people who will ensure those rights are abolished.

Three Things: Dial M for Michigan

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

It was a big week for the Mitten State which I call home — big ups and equally big downs, like a roller coaster.

Must admit the low points which made the high points possible made me nauseous and sick with dread.

~ 3 ~

High point: Michigan state senator Mallory McMorrow had a breakout week with a kick-ass-and-take-names speech on the senate floor this past Tuesday.

The wretched low point: state senator Lana Theis’ hateful fundraising email which I won’t share; the 22nd state senate district which includes Livingston County and smaller portions of Genesee, Shiawasee, and Ingham counties have a lot to answer for having elected this hater.

McMorrow how every Democrat should do it: cede not one inch to the right-wing and its unrestrained hate when Democrats are doing everything which makes our cities, states, nation livable. Push back hard against the corrupting, toxic hate.

GOP voters in Michigan need to snap the hell out of their hate spiral and take a good look around them — as the motto says, Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice. These peninsulas aren’t just theirs alone and they’re pleasant because we occupy it together, cooperatively and collaboratively. Hate did not make this state great.

~ 2 ~

Another high point: Michigan state senator Erika Geiss also blew the doors out of the state senate chambers with her heartbreaking appeal on Wednesday:

The sickening low point: yet another Black person’s life was lost to excessive police force on April 4, when a routine traffic stop ended with a Grand Rapids officer shooting a 26-year-old driver at point blank range in the head. It is absolutely unacceptable that a traffic stop results in a driver’s death, even when the driver attempts to grab an officer’s taser. If the officer could manage to pull his gun and shoot he had enough control of the situation to restrain the driver.

This abuse by police cannot continue. Citizens deserve far better public safety. How many times do we have to demand this before change happens?

Senator Geiss and every BIPOC resident in this state and nation should not have to fear for their family members’ safety in public or private from the very people they employ to keep the public safe.

~ 1 ~

Sickened by Senator Lana Theis’ hateful rhetoric against people who don’t fit her personal model, sickened further by the shooting death of an unarmed driver, the Michigan GOP served up another dose of noxiousness with its convention this weekend.

You may already have seen Rudy Giuliani sliming his way out of the Grand Rapids airport via retweet by Marcy, but in case you haven’t:

The MIGOP convention was an event important enough to warrant Giuliani sliding into Michigan, perhaps to network with his fellow co-conspirators about the attempt to fraudulently foist different electors on the state, or a future attempt to do so. They would have been easy to meet in one location considering their respective roles in the MIGOP apparatus.

Perhaps it was important for Giuliani to see how other efforts to enable an illegitimate GOP stranglehold on power — like the selection of Big Lie

A loop-de-loop: it’d be nice to know if former MIGOP Randy Bishop attended the MIGOP convention. He’s suddenly flipped parties and is now running as a Democrat for the state’s 37th senate district. He’d run in 2010 as a Republican in the same district, which includes Antrim County now as it did before redistricting. The Detroit News ran an article about Bishop’s filing to run (paywalled); unlike most of the state legislature candidate filings, Bishop’s was noteworthy because he’d said on his “Trucker Randy” radio show last month that “A family should be a white mom, white dad and white kids.

Why he thinks that will win over even the few Democrats in his majority white district isn’t obvious; it’s not just overt racism but a rejection of cities down state like Detroit, Flint, Saginaw, Benton Harbor, and Muskegon which have larger percentages of BIPOC residents and provide substantial amounts of state tax revenues. The 37th district, while 88% white, is home to a substantive number of Michigan’s Native Americans including Bay Mills Indian Community (Chippewa), Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, and Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa/Chippewa Indians. The tribes bring in a lot of tourism dollars to a very rural district.

Bishop’s rhetoric is just plain hateful and has no place in the Democratic Party in any state, and certainly not in Michigan’s 37th senate district. He must surely know this, which makes his candidacy look like a ratfucking operation of some sort.

Remember that Antrim County, home to roughly 23,000 Michigan residents, was at the center of the attempted election fraud in November 2020, when human error led to false claims the voting tabulators counted votes incorrectly. A judge dismissed claims of fraud by the GOP last May.

MIGOP’s canvasser Aaron Van Langevelde certified the election for Biden, refusing to cooperate with the conspiracy theory that the Dominion tabulators flipped votes. In January 2021 when Langevelde’s term expired, he was not re-nominated as canvasser by his party.

During the lawsuit filed by Antrim County resident Bill Bailey over the alleged ballot tabulation fraud, his attorney Matthew DePerno questioned the legitimacy of all future elections.

Which makes DePerno’s Trump-supported nomination as MIGOP’s candidate for Michigan’s secretary of state quite the joke: if the elections can’t be trusted, could this election be trusted if he should win?

Such ridiculously bad faith by MIGOP to nominate a Big Lie proponent who would have supported the fraudulent electors’ conspiracy to overturn Michigan’s election.

~ 0 ~

Finally, a high point — some of the diversity which makes Michigan great.

Treat this as an open thread.

Three Things: Omigod Omicron

[NB: Check the byline, thanks! Updates will follow at the bottom of initial posted content. /~Rayne]

Only a month after the World Health Organization declared it a variant of concern, Omicron is now dominant in the U.S. accounting for roughly 3/4 of the nearly 1.9 million new cases of COVID reported over the last week.

Because of its dramatically increased ease of transmission, new cases of COVID are expected to explode and exceed past waves of cases.

~ 3 ~

Joe Biden will be speaking to the nation today about the federal response to the new coronavirus variant Omicron.

The surge of cases is expected to swamp health care infrastructure which has already been pushed up to and beyond its limits by previous COVID waves and the continued resistance to vaccinations and boosters by roughly 30% of the population.

Lockdowns are not expected to be part of the federal response; rather, the government will send federal personnel to large hospitals across the country to help beleaguered staff as new cases roll in.

500 million instant tests for home use are also expected to be sent out. The hue and cry after White House press secretary Jen Psaki’s comments regarding testing and masks sent to homes may have spurred this effort in concert with the dramatic uptick in Omicron cases.

Will this federal response be enough? Likely not — but we would not be in this situation had there been a plan to mitigate COVID in place when Biden took office 11 months ago. Taking office just as another surge began placed the entire Biden response on its heels.

Likely more later on this as an update; three items are in progress and will follow shortly.

~ 2 ~

Speaking of the White House communications, Jeff Zients set off a shitstorm with a poorly worded or thought-through remark about the unvaccinated.

Disability activists were reasonably put out as many disabled can’t get vaccinated and boosted for health reasons.

But there’s another bigger problem in terms of the percentage of people affected: workers especially in low wage jobs aren’t getting vaccinated because their employers aren’t providing adequate support.

If you’ve gotten fast food recently, you’ve probably been in contact with someone who hasn’t been able to get vaccinated.

An effective federal outreach will reach the unvaccinated who want the shots and booster but whose circumstances haven’t allowed them to do so. Leaving this to the states — especially in red states — has left economically vulnerable exposed to COVID.

That said, fuck the unvaccinated who willfully refuse to be vaccinated, especially those who refuse all other mitigation measures. Welcome to the “winter of severe illness and death” you’ve asked for; may its toll be on you alone and not on any vulnerable children, immunocompromised, disabled, or precarious and marginalized persons.

~ 1 ~

One of the biggest flying periods of the year is nearly upon us as Americans fly to/from home for the holidays. Unfortunately this follows a hearing last week before the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee in which an airline executive said something ridiculously absurd.

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly, when asked about mask use by travelers and staff on its airplanes, said,

I think the case is very strong that masks don’t add much if anything in the air cabin environment. It’s very safe and very high quality compared to any other indoor setting.

Never mind the studies of aerosol transmission which has examined mass transportation for dispersal of aerosolized particles, or case studies of specific outbreaks occurring among persons in enclosed spaces, all of which have shown sitting in close proximity to infected persons substantially increases the odds of transmission between infected and non-infected persons.

Former surgeon general Jerome Adams was rather blunt in response to Kelly’s remarks:

“I’ve got to tell you, there’s no other way I can put my feelings about that than, it was irresponsible. It was irresponsible. It was reckless.”

Kind of surprising for a guy who fluffed up the Trump administration’s policy about mask use.

Karma had her way with Kelly, though, who had been coughing during his appearance before the Transportation Committee — he was diagnosed with COVID the next day.

What an ignorant, arrogant douchebag. He probably infected others in his own workforce and possibly members of Congress and staffers. Why Southwest’s board of directors and shareholders haven’t suspended Kelly is beyond me; air travel requires a fairly high degree of trust in science and Kelly clearly doesn’t trust science.

Masks have been mandatory on public transportation including airplanes since last year. This requirement will likely continue throughout the Omicron wave and beyond.

If you must travel over the holidays, trust the science and wear a high-quality mask.

~ 0 ~

Oops, one more thing: Robert F. Kennedy III is a blight on his family’s legacy. His anti-vaxx bullshit is racist bordering on genocidal.

He needs to be kicked to the curb. I would love to know who/what is funding his sketchy work.

Angry Mom: Thanks, Joe “2022 Will Be an Electoral Bloodbath” Manchin [UPDATE-2]

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. Updates at the bottom of this post. /~Rayne]

I have no choice but to warn you I write this as one hella angry mom. I want to put some people in time out badly.

First, a caveat and an ear-boxing:

The GOP is worthless. They have systematically refused to govern during a time of crisis. What the GOP has done instead has exponentially increased risk to America – Making America Great at Stupidity – and to the rest of the world with its anti-science, anti-vaccine, anti-mask propaganda.

They’ve fought every single damned effort to offer aid to the country. Their congressional voting record documents this for posterity as well as in state legislatures. They resist rational science-based efforts to stem the pandemic because of weak sauce excuses like “muh freedum!” which means protecting the unconstitutional right to increase others’ risk of sickness, disability, death, and loss of business.

They’re not a political party with a reasoned platform based on a sound ideology with which the country can identify. Instead it’s an organization intent on maintaining a grip on power by aggregating Know-Nothings, Do-Nothings, and Stop-Everythings, which includes stopping this country from realizing a more perfect union.

If the GOP was a sane and legitimate political party I wouldn’t have had to write this post.

That said, Senator Chuck Schumer and President Joe Biden have screwed up in a big way, a couple times over. They need to be schooled for this.

~ ~ ~

Joe Manchin appeared on fucking Fox News yesterday to say he wasn’t going to support the Build Back Better Act which has already been passed in the House.

If that wasn’t a deliberate in-your-face “Fuck You!” to Biden, the Senate Democrats, his West Virginia constituents, and the entire country, I don’t know what is.

Not NBC, not CBS, not ABC. Not NPR, not even a local West Virginia news station.

He went to Fox Home of Demoralizatsiya News.

And he was able to do so because Schumer and Biden allowed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (a.k.a. Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework – BIF) to be delinked from passage of the BBB, putting the BIF first and BBB second in order to obtain Manchin’s support.

Except the BIF is the only thing Manchin wanted to the benefit of his corporate overlords. BBB gives money to those people he doesn’t trust, like most of the constituents of his state, the second poorest state in the country.

Can’t have that.

Ask Adam Jentleson about it. He does a better job in this Twitter thread explaining how this negotiation was fucked up all to hell.

Don’t ask the progressive House Dems about this situation; you should already have been able to hear them warning before this all went down that Manchin couldn’t be trusted. Their fury is righteous.

And I absolutely mean righteous because there’s no goddamned way in hell someone like Ady Barkan, who has fought so vigorously for American’s health care, should have to worry about services he needs as he fights a mortal illness.

There’s also no way that the roughly 10% of Americans who are diabetics should have to continue to worry about coming up with $1000 per month to pay for insulin which costs a few bucks to make. They should be rejoicing about a $35 month price instead, but no – Manchin fucked them over, and Chuck and Joe failed to see the fucking coming at us.

Don’t get me started on the other fuck-ups like the Child Tax Credit, about which one tweeter wrote, “2022 will be a Electoral bloodbath” (sic).

Imagine this happening to a household which has had reduced hours, wage cuts, or has been on minimum wage, or dealing with unpaid time off due to COVID over the last year. Just do the simple math of two young parents trying to manage this on 40 hours a week at prevailing local minimum wage.

People have to pay bills NOW, and in January, and in February, in spite of work disruptions and increased cost of daycare and other childcare expenses…they can’t just float everything until this is fixed or the credit is paid out after they file 2022 tax returns.

Also extremely unhelpful is Biden’s persistent refusal to use his executive power to forgive student loans in part or in whole.

Parents of young children with student loans are doubly screwed by the failures of both the White House and the Senate Leader. And yet there’s head scratching about Biden’s weak approval rating going into 2022 especially with younger voters.

Why the hell should Millennials and Gen Z turn out to vote when they can do the math and they know the Democratic Party hasn’t delivered for them – especially as they go into another COVID hurricane thanks to Omicron?

~ ~ ~

Look, the BBB is an economic stimulus package. Every single household saddled with burdens BBB could alleviate would be able to participate more fully in the economy.

Some of that “economic anxiety” the media hyped up as one reason behind Trump’s election in 2016 could be partially relieved.

Forgiving student loans is likewise an economic stimulus targeted at a segment of the population which is most likely to spend income immediately, locally, and on goods and services which propel our economy.

This is what Joe Manchin failed to recognize and couldn’t explain to his constituents AND his corporate overlords because he’s a selfish dumb ass.

The BBB is economic stimulus — this is the justification for Schumer and Biden to approach moderate GOP members like Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Susan Collins (ME) to obtain their votes (Collins owes women this, big time).

Other people have been explaining it quite capably:

Yet Manchin refuses to accept the assist.

Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs downgraded its estimates of U.S. economic growth yesterday.

Which leads me to ask one rather important question, given Manchin’s announcement on goddamned Fox News and Goldman Sachs’ downgrade on a Sunday.

Who knew about Manchin’s decision and shorted the market?

Heaven help you if you did, Manchin.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 2:50 PM 20-DEC-2021 —

Thanks to Kendall Brown for saving us a click so we didn’t have to read all the revolting Manchin-sympathetic journalism to get to this bit:

I’m even more convinced something shady happened than I was before if Manchin is going to blame incivility by the White House as a reason to walk away from the BBB.

Who didn’t know Manchin was the hold up? We all of us knew it, it wasn’t a surprise. The White House naming him as the lone Democratic holdout only confirmed what we’d known and what the House progressive caucus was worried about — that a single Democrat would be the sole reason the bill would fail, and look, it was one of the two senators most-likely-to-DINO-tank-a-bill.

Doesn’t he make enough from his other investments to take care of his family if he’s so worried about them being included in harassment because he’d rather tank the entire BBB and hurt Americans in the process? Maybe sell your Maserati, Manchin, and buy a couple security people.

Jesus Christ, what a whiny baby he is.

Rep. Jayapal is now looking at executive action as a Plan B to realizing key components in the BBB.

What a pity Manchin didn’t take a hint from all the feedback he got from average Americans to simply agree to pass the bill and be a hero instead of self owning by appearing to flip flop on his demands throughout the course of the negotiations in full sight of the public who could see he was the bottlenecking gatekeeper.

He looks even more weak and pathetic having to go to yet another sympathetic outlet to make his non-existent case.

UPDATE-2 — 11:50 AM 21-DEC-2021 —

There have been rumbles over the last 24 hours about the BBB possibly being revamped if not revived or resuscitated. But Manchin’s homies have also taken issue with his position on BBB:

The West Virginia Dems had done a fair amount of organizing recently which showed up in polling about the BBB:


Hard to get around these numbers which show bipartisan support among constituents for BBB.

The Miami Collapse [Updated!]

Will not be overly long on this, but have been saddened and fascinated with the Champlain collapse in Miami since news of it first surfaced. Here is a New York Times report. Here is an absolutely harrowing tick tock, with video and photos, from The Washington Post. Seriously, make sure to look at the WaPo piece.

The Champlain South building just pancaked. The World Trade Center buildings had the instigation of jet fuel laced missiles flying into them, this did not. Nor did the Hard Rock collapse in New Orleans, which was under construction and never certified nor occupied. This is different. Only four are reported dead as of this posting, but nearly 160 missing, so the number will definitely grow. Rescue efforts well underway, but it seems bleak.

This Champlain building was the “south” one. There is a “north” one that is seemingly siamesed and of the same design, materials and construct. The local mayor wants to evacuate it. And, that would be no problem, frankly I’d already be gone if I lived there.

But the problem with water in Miami and the Florida coast has been foreshadowed for a very long time. The sea level is rising. The ground is wet. This building was, apparently, built to code only 40 years ago and was in the process of “repairs”. But would “repairs” have stopped this? Am inclined to think no. So, then, what is the status of all the other buildings in that line of the relevant water table?

Also, pools belong in the ground, not on decks.

Since it is “Infrastructure Week” yet again, maybe some thought ought be given to water tables, both growing in places like Florida, and shrinking in places like Arizona and California.

UPDATE: Am going to add in this comment from Pete, and I think it exactly right:

“I am not a structural engineer nor a geologist, but I have lived in Southeast FL all of my 70 years and witnessed the ever higher and closer together high rises along the coast and even more inland Miami since the 70s on.

I think it is important to know the geology of the Florida peninsula:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geology_of_Florida
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_Platform

Forget the underlying Florida Platform which would be bedrock that most might think of. It’s 10,000 feet down and you aren’t drilling down that far and filling up a hole that deep with concrete and rebar. So you drill into the karst limestone layer for which the record drill depth is a recent 170+ feet for a newer 57 story building in Miami adjacent to Biscayne Bay.

Limestone is the sinkhole gift that keeps on giving especially in central Florida – just ask Jim White,

Furthermore, in a pique of insanity places like Surfside as well as the Las Olas area of Ft. Lauderdale – about 40 miles North – are actually partially soft fill reclaimed wetlands. Ft. Lauderdale circa the 1920s That’s right – the build site is a lot of man made land.

I would not and cannot say that is relevant here, but in Las Olas settlement and the rising sea level coming UP through the porous land causes constant water main failure, sewage line failure, and flooding. Flooding due to water being forced UP is a major increasing problem in Southern Miami Beach.

It is reported that Champlain Towers, built in 1981, had been “sinking” mm per year since the 1990s.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9723841/Map-report-predicting-condo-collapse-reveals-Miami-Beach-spots-risk-collapse.html

As in most major disasters it’s not just one error but a series of errors and missed opportunities to avert the disaster that get missed – or ignored.”

Three Things: Pouring Cement Down the Wells

[NB: Check the byline, thanks! /~Rayne]

The last 24 hours made me think of this quote:

Supply chains cannot tolerate even 24 hours of disruption. So if you lose your place in the supply chain because of wild behavior you could lose a lot. It would be like pouring cement down one of your oil wells. — Tom Friedman

I don’t care much for Friedman; he’s a shallow pond. But it’s worth pondering his perspective that supply chains shouldn’t be disrupted.

Tell COVID that, son. Tell Nature’s response to our society’s refusal to stop the supply chain over the last four decades. This mostly-closed system we call Earth has a way of telling us not too subtly when our hubris has gotten out of hand.

Though COVID has been and remains a scourge of human life, it may have been one of the best opportunities to stop the supply chain and literally pour cement down oil wells which in their own way have become a scourge.

Disruption to food and health care supplies has been problematic, but most of that could have been addressed on a proactive basis by government which was both competent and benign. But the bigger problems our society faces, the overarching global climate emergency in particular, may best have been served with pandemic sand in the gears of normalcy.

Finally — there’s no going back to the toxic avoidance of disruption. Change has come whether we like it or not.

~ 3 ~

“Hostile” stakeholders rattled the 12th largest corporation by revenue and the 6th largest oil and gas business this week.

ExxonMobil’s (XOM) board of directors now has at least two new directors promoted by an activist fund, Energy No. 1. The fund, launched by tech industry investor Chris James, had the support of BlackRock, California Public Employees’ Retirement System, California State Teachers’ Retirement System and New York State Common Retirement Fund in its demand to replace at least four of the board with candidates of their choosing. Apart from BlackRock, the three retirement funds are the largest in the U.S. and represent $850 billion in assets; XOM’s valued at $252 billion.

Since late last year, Energy No. 1 has accumulated a $50 million stake in XOM. The fund wants

Engine No. 1 wants ExxonMobil to pledge to reduce its emissions to net zero by 2050, warning that this was “not just a climate issue but a fundamental investor issue — no different than capital allocation or management compensation — given the immense risk to ExxonMobil’s current business model in a rapidly changing world.”

XOM hasn’t performed well over the last 15 years; its last stock price high was in mid-2014 ahead of Iran’s oil re-entering the global market.

XOM has accumulated far too much debt, servicing shareholder dividends, offering weak sauce like investment in carbon capture announced on Earth Day this year, yet still expecting to be part of the White House’s green energy policy.

The corporation doesn’t appear to be making adequate progress toward a low-to-no-oil future, one in which privately-owned vehicles are electric rather than combustion engine. With countries beginning to ban the sale of combustion engine vehicles as soon as 2027 and some cities banning their use as far back as 2013 (ex. Utrecht banned older diesel engines that year), XOM hasn’t made enough effort to move to a different mix of products to maintain or build revenue over the long run.

Nor has the oil and gas corporation responded to climate change as competitors BP and Royal Dutch Shell have by establishing a goal of zero emissions by 2050.

The final tally of shareholder votes and the subsequent board composition may not be known for several weeks. No matter the board’s final members, change isn’t over for XOM, especially when the family which created its progenitor is moving to encourage change. The Rockefellers, heirs to the Standard Oil fortune, provided considerable funds to the #ExxonKnew movement in order to force XOM to deal with its toxic business model.

Don’t be surprised if Rockefellers buy up stock in cement manufacturers.

~ 2 ~

A court told Royal Dutch Shell it must reduce emissions. The 6th largest corporation in the world based on revenue, Shell had been sued by the Dutch branch of the Friends of the Earth for violating human rights with its extractive business, undermining the Paris Agreement.

The suit followed a 2015 precedent in which an environmental activist organization Urgenda had successfully sued the Dutch government for failing to meet its own benchmarks on emissions reduction.

The court ordered Shell to cut the corporation’s net emissions by 45 percent compared to 2019 levels by a 2030 deadline. The emissions to be cut are those generated by Shell’s business processes and not by the use of the fossil fuel products it sells.

A personal experience shapes my opinion about Shell as well as my opinion of the entire fossil fuel industry. In the late 1980s I had been working for a Fortune 100 company which relied on fossil fuels (as many businesses still do today); the corporation had a curriculum of sorts to ensure its workforce was global caliber. The curriculum included a session with a consultancy which guided large corporations in future planning. This consultancy used Royal Dutch Shell’s scenario planning as tool, pointing to Shell’s scenarios which saw peak oil and an end to oil. Shell at that time had already begun future-proofing itself by investing in wind energy development and other alternative energy sources.

But inside a handful of years it was evident the fossil fuel industry didn’t see the same scenarios, and Shell’s management no longer looked presciently oracular. Instead the country watched Enron’s corruption around energy blowing apart any idea the fossil fuel industry was looking deep into the future instead of the next quarter’s profits.

That it takes a court order to force Shell back toward its 1990 direction says something about the fossil fuel industry as well as corporate governance over the the last three decades.

~ 1 ~

The Daily Beast’s headline: Biden Administration Backs Trump’s Massive Alaska Oil Drilling Project

The New York Times’ headline: Biden Administration Defends Huge Alaska Oil Drilling Project

What’s disturbing in these and other outlets’ coverage of ConocoPhillips’ Alaska project is the reference solely to Biden when Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm are surely key to the government’s support for drilling in Alaska. What could these two cabinet-level officials have in common? An inconvenient distaff angle to the prevailing media narrative?

NYT buries at the end of its piece the biggest single reason why the current administration may not yet yank the gangplank out from under ConocoPhillips’ Alaska project:

Other Alaska Native groups, however, said they welcomed the jobs as well as the state and local revenue expected to be generated by the project. In an April letter to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, George Edwardson, president of the Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, called oil drilling “critical to the economic survival of the eight Inupiat villages that call this region home” and said the Willow project had the group’s “strong support.”

“Alaska’s oil and gas industry provides much-needed jobs for our people, tax revenue to support our schools and health clinics, and support for basic public services,” he wrote.

If the rest of their livelihood is collapsing under climate change, it’s understandable the local population will grab what jobs they can.

But there’s more to this than jobs for locals as the administration appears to reverse course on fossil fuel development. It’s not jobs but cash injections into local businesses which have suffered under the pandemic; it’s roads and other infrastructure paid for in large part by a corporation and not by local/state/federal tax dollars.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden has been plugging electric vehicles like Ford’s new electric F-150.

Is there a disconnect? Not in my opinion. Instead we are looking at asymmetric warfare, which may also explain why Biden appears to take a less aggressive stance on the Russian NordStream 2 pipeline running beneath the Baltic Sea.

In the case of ConocoPhillips, it’s blowing huge amounts of money to develop a field while vehicle manufacturers are racing toward an all-electric product lineup which may cause the price of oil to drop below cost of production. Unlike its competitors XOM and Shell, ConocoPhillips hasn’t yet had a reckoning with shareholders about its business model though overproduction of oil across the industry has already been a problem during the Trump administration.

Biden pointed out NordStream 2 is already mostly built and paid for — but some of the pipeline’s investors/co-developers are among those pressed by shareholders and environmental activists to reduce their carbon emissions. They’re out the sunk cost into the pipeline if the price of oil drops in response to falling demand.

Ditto for Russia’s oil businesses invested in NordStream 2.

These extractive companies — and petrostates — aren’t going to be able to recoup their investments anywhere near as fast as they’d initially projected. If electric vehicles arrive and are adopted by the public rapidly, they may lose much of their investment.

So go ahead, pump some cash into the economy. Build some roads and maybe some pipeline.

The locals will enjoy them for years to come after the oil business has collapsed and gone.

~ 0 ~

By the way, somebody remind the White House the Trump administration killed participation in tracking products of extractive industries. We still need to keep an eye on them. Specifically, in 2017 the U.S. withdrew from the EITI — Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, the extractive industries anti-corruption effort — and now Congress needs to revisit the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Rule 13q-1, which implemented Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform related to tracking large payments made by extractive industries.

Hold this last thought about the U.S. needing to track money related to oil and gas. I promise it’s going to come up in a future post.

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