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Showing posts from December, 2022

The Dumbing Down of Russia Looks Painfully Familiar

I had hoped to write something new for today, but the holidays have a way of intruding on one’s plans, so I’m returning to a post from last March, when Putin’s atrocities were still fresh and Republicans were envious of his absolute power. As it happens, little has changed since I first posted this, though the tanking of Roe v. Wade was not yet a fait accompli at the time. Which means things have only gotten worse.   On one hand, we have Putin, perfectly content to obliterate anyone in his path, with a special emphasis on pregnant women, children, and babies. On the other hand, we have the Republican right, perfectly content to obliterate anyone in its path, with a special emphasis on pregnant women, children, and babies. The difference is one of degree. Putin can make obliteration depressingly literal — he kills and maims indiscriminately, and with impunity. Republicans are — for the moment anyway — more subtle. They’re more about u

Who Would Even Want to be a Teacher These Days?

Rural school districts in Texas are switching to four-day weeks this fall due to lack of staff. Florida is asking veterans with no teaching background to enter classrooms. Arizona is allowing college students to step in and instruct children.                                    —    The Washington Post , 08/03/2022 We appear to be experiencing a rather serious teacher drain. I say ‘appear’ because I’ve read one reputable source that says the data doesn’t support findings of a nationwide shortage. But even so, its author admits there are some states — most in the deep South, unsurprisingly — with severe shortages, both chronic and acute. But whether there’s an actual teacher shortage or not, there is no question there’s a teacher crisis.  Teachers all over the country are either leaving the profession, or seriously thinking about it. And who can blame them? Their pay is notoriously lousy. Their schools are deteriorating. Their districts are woefully underf

SCOTUS is Developing a Taste for Chaos

When the current 6-3 Supreme Court agrees to hear a case — no matter how crackpot the legal theory might be — you can be sure we will soon be kissing some important precedent goodbye. First, they make up their minds, then they hear the arguments. Consequences are for the little people. With the Dobbs decision, as I’ve written , they’ve upended not just legal precedents, but also the legal institutions that have grown up around those precedents. Generations of case law will now need to be re-litigated, as different states enact different sets of laws based on diametrically opposed worldviews. State-v.-state lawsuits are already starting to fly, and the legal positions are already being hardened. Interstate cooperation — a crucial component of daily life — is already fraught, and could at any time turn ugly. It’s almost as if chaos were the point. The six “conservative” justices — they’re conserving very little these days — are pushing everything in the direction of chaos. Whatev

GOP Plays Chicken with the Debt Ceiling. Again.

Once again, there is blackmail afoot. Once again, the GOP is hellbent on playing chicken with the lives of ordinary citizens, and with the solvency of the government. For most of us, it’s boring to even think about the federal debt ceiling. Yet for the umpteenth time, the GOP intends to weaponize it. Which could bore us, quite literally, to death. We’ve seen this movie before. In 2011, they refused to raise the debt limit, which had the effect of reducing the credit rating of the U.S. Treasury for the first time ever. Ultimately they backed down, and they took a huge political hit that cost them dearly in the 2012 election. But in the process, they extorted Obama into spending cuts that were, in the context of such short-sighted bad faith, totally outrageous.   To Republicans, that was a victory. Debt ceiling blackmail had been shown to work. Most economists — the reputable ones, anyway — agree that there shouldn’t be any ceiling at all on the national debt. It’s natural fo