SATURDAY 6-PACK: February 17, 2018

A weekly listing of articles, audio clips, and other tidbits I’ve encountered that seemed interesting, insightful, or otherwise useful

 

Well … it’s been a week and then some.  Hard to remember that a mere seven days ago we were wondering about the drops in the stock market and what that might mean … and the current administration was preparing to focus on infrastructure … while the Senate was having open discussion/debate on immigration proposals (first to reach 60 votes, wins … assuming, of course, something could).

But as the week progressed so did the most recent iteration from the scandal factory (also known as the White House) pushed the planned agenda to the side … and then another unthinkable school shooting happened (something that also occurs with appalling regularity) … and the routine bluster from the current occupant of the Oval Office blew off any chance of a deal on immigration.

So here’s my six (or so) from the week that was — if for nothing more than to call to mind some things we might lose sight of:

1. About that economy … what goes up must come down and, with that being the case, it was inevitable that the stock markets would have to come dons at some point.  Things seem to have mostly recovered this week.  But given the cyclic nature of economic things, sooner more likely than later, there will be another recession.  The damage done to employment in many sectors by the Great Recession is going to compound the troubles of the next.  Read this and be forewarned:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-next-recession-suck-unemployment-benefits-republican_us_5a7e0362e4b08dfc93040b5e

 

 

2.  About that infrastructure … it’s been widely reported that the amount for infrastructure in the proposed budget from the current administrative collective in the White House is far too small to meet the needs.  Here’s a good summary of the recent study by the American Society of Civil Engineers of the current state of US infrastructure — and how much it will cost to address those needs:

http://www.businessinsider.com/asce-gives-us-infrastructure-a-d-2017-3

 

3.  For all kinds of reasons, we do need to talk about the latest mass shooting, this time at a high school in Florida.  Yes, it really is about the guns — and this was published three months ago (just click on the Times‘ logo; it will take you there):

 

4.  But there is no one-part solution to this mess.  Regulations to improve gun safety are an important piece of it.  However, culture change is also required.  Here’s one example of how to do that:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/glennon-melton/this-brilliant-math-teacher-has-a-formula-to-save-kids-lives_b_4899349.html

 

5.  Not to be overlooked in all of the drama of this week, it’s opening weekend for the latest Marvel superhero movie — The Black PantherReviewers are agreeing it’s deserving the hype.  However, it’s also more than “just a movie.”  Here’s the two-fer for the week: two different perspectives on the cultural impact of this movie in this time:

https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2018/02/16/585415685/can-marvels-new-superhero-bear-the-weight-of-representation

http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/leonard-pitts-jr/article200350754.html

 

 

6.  And somewhere in all the mess that was last week, there was Valentine’s Day … yes, it is a largely bogus non-holiday made up for marketing purposes between Christmas and Easter.  However, is a day to think about and celebrate love in all it’s forms such a bad thing?  Here’s a love story to warm even a skeptic’s heart:

https://www.npr.org/2018/02/09/583998949/two-vets-celebrate-love-if-you-came-to-see-the-bride-you-re-out-of-luck

SATURDAY 6-PACK: February 3, 2018

A weekly listing of articles, audio clips, and other tidbits I’ve encountered that seemed interesting, insightful, or otherwise useful …

 

This week’s major event was the State of the Union address, that (nearly) annual exercise in recapping and previewing the President’s agenda.  Coming at the end of the current occupant’s first year in the Oval Office, a re-cap of the year that has preceded the address would be in order.
First up, a two-fer, two recaps of the first year of the current  … uh … administration doesn’t seem like quite the right word.  But whatever you call it, these perspectives are worth considering:
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Second, on the morning of the speech, Mara Liasson of NPR offered this frank and succinct assessment of the State of Politics in our (sort-of) Union:
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Third, there’s the speech itself … The current occupant is not known for great rhetorical style when left to his own methods.  However, his speechwriter(s) saw fit to string together familiar, patriotic tropes that are common in a number of these speeches, which was a pleasant change from the “American Carnage” inaugural address (even if it made much of the State of the Union speech clichéd and almost meaningless).  These were woven with heart-warming  vignettes about specific Americans (and one Korean), each of whom did something heroic on scales both small and great.  So far, so good.  But the current occupant is  well-known to be less than a close acquaintance with the truth.  Because his voice acts on my nerves much like fingernails on a blackboard, and because his speaking (scripted or off the cuff) is peppered with so many inaccuracies, distortions and flat-out lies, I prefer to read the transcripts.  This annotated one is particularly helpful:
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Fourth, the current occupant has made much of what happened in the stock market this past year as proof his policies are succeeding.  Of course, he will likely find someone (or something) else to blame for Friday’s significant drop.  But as the Clinton campaign famously put it in 1992, oftentimes “It [is] the economy, stupid.”  Time will tell more certainly than the State of the Union Address what, if any, impact the economic policies described in the speech actually had on the economy.  But here is much to think about and consider as we wait and see: five economists discuss America’s economic outlook.  None of them are boring to listen to.  Only one of the five is strongly committed to a particular political mindset (Stephen Moore, former econ advisor to the current occupant of the Oval Office and one of the architects of the recent changes in the tax code); the other four represent a variety of perspectives and can consider multiple angles:
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If the State of the Union Address dominated the first part of the week, the Nunez memo has dominated the most recent days.  Item Five: what is in the memo?  It’s been often described as an exercise in cherry-picking — but as at least one observer has noted, to call it that could be an insult to cherries.  Here is the full text of the memo along with the letter from White House counsel Don McGahn authorizing its release.  This annotated version fills in details that are well-known and yet have been omitted from the memo; the notes also point out underlying details that are not known at this time.
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And finally, what next?  Here’s another two-fer: both a pre-release and a post-release assessment on the memo and its likely impact
Before ….
After …