Oh, And The Court Opens Today

Like most thinking Americans, I spent much of the weekend trying to discern the truth from White House and Walter Reed statements. So I thought today’s article was the perfect time to go over a few random thoughts, observations and lessons. Let’s explore.

Think About This One

It is easy for a self-centered baby boomer (my generation) to dismiss climate change. From what I can ascertain the worst impacts will be felt around 2050 and we’ll all be dead by then. I ran across a quote from the polio vaccine developer Jonas Salk the other day, “Are we being good ancestors?” Think about it and then look in the mirror.

Insane Resource Allocation

Trump put Mark Meadows on the negotiating team for a second recovery/stimulus. That is like putting an arsonist on the fire squad. Is it any wonder those negotiations went nowhere?

Law And Order?

Private militias are illegal in all fifty states. Do you think it might help defuse things if law enforcement simply got them off the streets and out of state legislative buildings? I do. For a liberal I am very pro-police. A big part of that is because I believe the front line police have been given some lousy laws to enforce, terrible leadership and are simultaneously being denied some common sense laws that would help them keep the peace by allowing them to take pre-emptive action.

The Coming “Police Reform”

If Trump and/or the Senate Republicans are left in power or in a position to obstruct you will see a very different look to policing in America. States and local municipalities will run out of money and will be forced to lay police off. The biggest possibility of the police being defunded is not the Democrats; it is the current version of the Republican Party.

Earning This Nickname

Mitch McConnell has deservedly been given several nicknames recently. One is Massacre Mitch. He further earned this one last weekend when he announced that he was recessing the Senate for the next two weeks but allowing committee meetings to go on, virtually if necessary. The reason is that Senate rules say that senators must be on the floor to vote. With Senators Ron Johnson, Mike Lee and Thom Tillis testing positive for the coronavirus Mitch only has 50 votes and that is only if he can keep all of his caucus in line. (Vice President Mike Pence’s tie breaking vote is a sure thing.) With no margin for error and the possibility that more positives could emerge Mitch did the politically savvy thing and avoided an embarrassment.

The problem is that in the interim we are almost guaranteed that no relief will be given to the millions of Americans in dire financial straits due to the pandemic. Of course people like Trump and McConnell don’t care about them. To them they are losers and suckers because they weren’t smart enough to be born or marry into a wealthy family.

Some Fun With Numbers

The coronavirus may have done what the Senate Democrats were incapable of doing – stop the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett prior to Election Day. Mitch has 53 Republicans to work with and can only lose three. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have declared they will not vote to confirm a nominee before the election. Let’s assume they remain true to their word (I’m more confident in Murkowski than Collins on that front.) That brings Mitch down to 51 votes.

With Johnson, Lee and Tillis testing positive they should refrain from stepping on the Senate floor. Therefore their votes are unavailable bring Mitch down to 48.

Getting just a bit more into the weeds of the Senate’s rules I still see Mitch in perilous territory. The rules of the Senate can be changed at any times by a simple majority. If Mitch wanted to change the present on the floor provision to allow a virtual or proxy vote he would need the majority. With Johnson, Lee and Tillis unavailable baring coming onto the floor while positive for the virus he is down to 50 votes on the assumption he can hold every member of his caucus in line. That is far from a guarantee and I doubt he wants to roll the dice on that unless he really has to.

A Better Economic Measure

OK, here is the really nerdy section of today’s article. While reading French economist Thomas Piketty’s latest book, Capital and Ideology, a while back I came across a new (to me anyway) economic measure that I believe is a more accurate way to evaluate the strength of a national economy. It is Net Domestic Product. You calculate it by taking the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and subtracting depreciation and damage to capital, including natural capital (cost of pollution).

If in the process of manufacturing/delivering a good you cause harm that is not immediately charged to you; in order to accurately gauge the nation’s productivity you need to account for that cost. Somebody has to pay for it eventually. (If the right has their way they will privatize the profit while socializing the cost of the cleanup.)

As usual I didn’t cover everything I wanted to. If the above didn’t leave you with enough to ponder add this to it: today the Supreme Court goes back into session.

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