Saturday Soother – July 31, 2021

The Daily Escape:

Rain on the way, Factory Butte, UT – May 2021 photo by armitage2112

It was a big week for political news, but the most explosive story of the week concerned Covid and the delta variant. On Friday, the WaPo reported that a scientific analysis of a Covid outbreak in Provincetown on Cape Cod, MA, showed that 74% of the people who became infected had been fully vaccinated.

Also, the infected but vaccinated people had received all the approved vaccines: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

Worse, the study found that vaccinated individuals carried as much virus in their noses as unvaccinated individuals, and that vaccinated people could spread the virus to each other. As of Thursday, 882 people were tied to the Provincetown outbreak. Among those living in Massachusetts, 74% of them were fully immunized. Officials said the vast majority also reported symptoms. But just seven people were hospitalized.

Also, officials tested specimens from 133 people and found the delta variant in 90% of them.

On Thursday, another WaPo story about a CDC internal document estimated that 35,000 vaccinated people a week in the US are having symptomatic breakthrough infections. This is out of a vaccinated population of more than 162 million Americans. That internal CDC document also reported that the delta variant is as transmissible as chickenpox.

So, it looks like it’s time once again to recalibrate our thinking about Covid.

The CDC report says that there’s evidence that vaccinated people can also spread the more transmissible delta variant, right along with the unvaccinated. That both groups can spread the virus is likely the key factor in the current summer surge of infections.

There’s a whole lot of finger pointing going on over this. The right is blaming the CDC for being inconsistent, and the Republicans in Congress are trying to make the possible instituting of a vaccine mandate along with re-instituting a mask mandate, into another political issue.

What House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) fails (purposely) to understand is that since the virus is changing, our response needs to also change. This variant is much more contagious than the original variants. We should all be working to defeat the virus, not trying to score political points on each other. And McCarthy is vaccinated, although 65 GOP members of the House are not.

Republican Congressman Roger Marshall (KS) is an MD. He said on PBS yesterday that masks do absolutely nothing to prevent the spread of disease. And he’s a Republican OBGYN, so he should know, right?

Nobody in the world, much less in the CDC, knew exactly how virulent these Covid variants would be. Epidemiologists hoped that people would get quickly vaccinated and help end the unchecked spread of the virus. That didn’t happen, in large part because right-wing media has actively stoked the culture wars, while GOP politicians run alongside, hoping to take control of the House in the 2022 mid-terms.

Once again, this means we’re dealing with a bad faith crowd that will scream about any contradictions. You’re not allowed to change your mind. You’re not allowed to admit you were wrong. You’re not allowed to accommodate new evidence.

Borrowing from driving your car, your mask is your seat belt. Your vaccination is your airbag.

On to the weekend and our Saturday Soother. We’re seeing an invasion of Japanese beetles on the fields of Wrong. Ms. Right went to the Agway and bought one of those old-fashioned beetle traps, a long green plastic bag topped by a lure with the scent of roses. It has captured a very satisfying number of beetles, but it’s difficult to say what percentage have not fallen victim to Ms. Right’s lures.

Friday marked the return of the summer session of the BBC Proms in London, after an 18+ month absence due to Covid. Friday night led off with Ralph Vaughan Williams’s “Serenade to Music”. It premiered at the Royal Albert Hall in 1938. Williams also wrote the piece for 16 vocal soloists and orchestra in 1938. He adapted the text from a discussion about music in Act V, Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice”.

Vaughan Williams later arranged the piece into versions for chorus and orchestra and for solo violin and orchestra. Since Wrongo doesn’t appreciate the operatic singing of Shakespeare, this is the orchestral version, played by the Northern Sinfonia of England, conducted by Richard Hickox. The violinist is Bradley Creswick:

The video includes wonderfully atmospheric paintings by the Victorian era artist John Atkinson Grimshaw.

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Is Voting a Right, or a Privilege Granted by the State?

The Daily Escape:

Manzanita Beach, OR – 2021 photo by Taysian Photography

A new Pew Research poll asks whether voting is a fundamental right, or a privilege. Like most things in America today, the answer is that it depends on your age and political affiliation. Self-identified Republican voters skewed more toward “privilege” while self-identified Democratic voters said “right.” See this chart:

Overall, 57% of Americans over 18 say voting is a “fundamental right for every US citizen and should not be restricted.”

  • Younger adults are most likely to say voting is a fundamental right, peaking at 64% among 18-to-29-year-olds. Sixty percent of 30-to-49-year-olds agree. But for people aged 50 or older, only about 50% say voting is a fundamental right.
  • The biggest gap is by political party affiliation. Fully 78% of Democrats say voting is a fundamental right versus just 32% Republicans.
  • A 67% majority of Republicans say voting is a privilege that can be limited.

Isn’t it shocking that most Republicans don’t think voting is a fundamental right? Maybe that explains why they find it acceptable to re-litigate the 2020 presidential election, or to suppress the votes of those they think will vote against them.

Although the majority of Republicans view voting as a privilege that can be limited, younger Republicans and Hispanic Republicans are more likely than older Republicans to say that voting is a fundamental right for every US citizen:

44% of Republicans and Republican leaners under 30 say it is a fundamental right, compared with 37% of those ages 30 to 49, 29% of those 50 to 64 and just 22% of those 65 and older.

The Atlantic quotes historian Eric Foner, saying that since the country’s founding, Americans have been torn between: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“…voting as a right and voting as something that only the right people should do.”

Foner says that every step forward in human rights has given birth to a desire to “purify the electorate.” After the Civil War, Northern Republicans wanted to exclude “disloyal” pro-Southern Democrats and newly arrived immigrants from the ballot, while Southern Democrats were adamant that freed slaves should not vote.

The Constitution mentions “the right to vote” five times. But people on the Right often observe that the Constitution doesn’t explicitly say, “All individuals have the right to vote.” It simply rules out specific limitations on the right to vote. A right not guaranteed in affirmative terms isn’t really a “right” in a fundamental sense, they say.

But if the rule is that the Constitution must say, “here is a specific right and we hereby guarantee that right to every person” then there are few rights in the Constitution. The Constitution does more “rights-preserving” than rights-proclaiming.

States shouldn’t be able to pick and choose who gets to pick and choose our elected representatives. Taking away people’s right to vote would further increase corruption, simply because the government would have an easier time targeting those people. It isn’t inconsistent that states can make rules about conduct of elections, but they shouldn’t be able to decide who gets to vote. That should be unconstitutional.

This question has become a full-on political battle with Republican states pushing for more control over who gets to vote, mostly based on the Big Lie.

Let’s close today by remembering Dusty Hill, the bass player of ZZ Top, who died on Wednesday. He, along with the other two band members were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame in 2004.

ZZ Top probably has the longest-running unchanged band lineup in rock and roll history. Dusty told the Charlotte Observer:

“People ask how we’ve stayed together so long…I say separate tour buses. We got separate tour buses early on, when we probably couldn’t afford them. That way we were always glad to see each other when we got to the next city.”

And when they were playing, you didn’t take your eyes off Hill. Not just because of his luxurious beard. He was a great bass player, and his raw vocals were unforgettable.

This recording of their hit “Tush” says it was recorded in 1975, but they’re playing Dean guitars in this video. That didn’t happen until the 1980s. Still, it’s worth listening to Dusty live on lead vocals and the great guitar playing:

RIP Dusty.

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The Predictably Horrible Reactions to Simone Biles

The Daily Escape:

Wrongo’s and Ms. Right’s Havanese dog Harley, died on Monday. Harley was 17+ years old, and we will miss him terribly. December 2020 iPhone photo by Wrongo

Wrongo doesn’t follow gymnastics, and doesn’t know much about Simone Biles, beyond what has been said on the news. But her withdrawal from the Olympics is a powerful story. She told the BBC: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“After the performance I did, I just didn’t want to go on…I have to focus on my mental health. I just think mental health is more prevalent in sports right now. We have to protect our minds and our bodies and not just go out and do what the world wants us to do. I don’t trust myself as much anymore. Maybe it’s getting older. There were a couple of days when everybody tweets you and you feel the weight of the world.”

More: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“We’re not just athletes. We’re people at the end of the day and sometimes you just have to step back. I didn’t want to go out and do something stupid and get hurt. ​I feel like a lot of athletes speaking up has really helped. It’s…the Olympic Games. At the end of the day, we don’t want to be carried out of there on a stretcher.”

Gymnastics is physically demanding and has a high injury rate. It is also extremely difficult psychologically as well. Many of the skills are dangerous. According to CNN, Biles said:

“…at morning practice that she had a little bit of the twisties, that’s slang for when a gymnast is suddenly no longer able to do a twisting skill she’s done thousands of times before. Your body just won’t cooperate, your brain loses track of where you are in the air. You find out where the ground is when you slam into it.”

Biles’ withdrawal has generally been met with support from the public, but the negative comments were (no surprise) decidedly right-wing. They called Biles cowardly, that she wasn’t mentally tough enough to handle the pressure. That she caved. That she gave up. That she wasn’t willing to risk/sacrifice for her team.

Amber Athey, in an article in the Spectator entitled “Simone Biles is a quitter”, said:

“Biles may be the most skilled gymnast ever, but a true champion is someone who perseveres even when the competition gets tough.”

Another article in the Federalist, entitled “Sorry, Simone Biles, The Olympics Isn’t About You, It’s About Winning For America” adds:

“Biles doesn’t suffer from a specific mental illness, at least not that we know of or that’s ever manifested itself before….she got psyched out. She wasn’t mentally tough when she needed to be.”

Charlie Kirk, a far-right social media punk known for being almost famous, told listeners to his podcast:

“We are raising a generation of weak people like Simone Biles…If she’s got all these mental health problems: don’t show up… She’s totally a sociopath…What kind of person skips the gold medal match? Who does that? It’s a shame to the nation. You just gave a gift to the Russians.”

Apparently, gymnastics judges have capped the difficulty ratings on Biles’ routines because they are too dangerous for other elite gymnasts to attempt.

But these right-wingers say Biles should go ahead and try them when she says she feels it’s not safe. It’s amazing that people who complain that they can’t breathe through a piece of cloth on their face expect Simone Biles to maybe break her neck for America.

The world is overpopulated with sociopaths. Athletes can suffer from emotional and mental issues that prevent them from competing at the highest level. Their fear is based in a few things. Earlier in their careers, they had nothing to lose. While today, they each have something to lose, be it injury to their bodies, or to their reputations and earning power.

There is a difference between quitting and recognizing one’s limitations, and then ceding the spotlight when the personal risk is too great. There is maturity and grace in knowing when to work through pain and when to stop.

The harsh, unfeeling, and angry response by (mostly right-wing) people on social media demeans all of us. These people take the view that Biles is superhuman. Then, when she makes a difficult personal choice that deviates from their ideology, they have the right to humiliate her?

These right-wingers demand robotic perfection not from themselves of course, but from others.

They are inhuman. And they are denying Biles her humanity.

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Monday Wake Up Call – July 26, 2021

The Daily Escape:

Can Democrats move their agenda forward? Will we ever see an infrastructure bill, or a voting rights bill signed by Biden? How should Democrats deal with the voting restrictions that several states are putting in place to make it more difficult to win elections, and possibly cause the Dems to lose both Houses of Congress in 2022?

Even though most of the Party’s voters say that their representatives in DC should be willing to do whatever it takes to eliminate the filibuster, Democrats in Congress seem hamstrung by what some in Congress say is a need for bipartisanship on fundamental legislation, like the filibuster and voting rights.

This hamstringing is occurring throughout America. Consider New Jersey: Their Congressional redistricting process is technically bipartisan; but like in prior decades, it’s in a completely partisan place.

New Jersey has a bipartisan redistricting commission. Leaders from each Party appoint six members to the 13-member commission. Those 12 members then pick a 13th member who serves as a tiebreaker, and a safety valve to prevent partisanship. That sounds well, bipartisan. This is the fourth redistricting cycle where this process has been used for NJ’s Congressional redistricting.

The commission members picked an academic as the tiebreaker in 1991 and 2001, and a former state attorney general in 2011. Last time, the tiebreaking member sided with Republicans. Despite that, the resulting district maps worked out well for Democrats, as they currently hold a 10-2 edge in the NJ Congressional delegation.

New Jersey is a great example of how the Congressional map can change over a decade. The tiebreaker initially helped Republicans 10 years ago, but the demographics in those districts have changed, And Democrats now over-perform in their local Congressional races.

This time around, the 12 members of the commission were unable to agree on the 13th member of the commission. Both sides proposed a retired judge from their respective Parties. So now, according to law, it’s the state Supreme Court’s job to pick one or the other. The court has until Aug. 10 to decide on the tiebreaker.

From the New Jersey Globe:

“The State Constitution puts the burden of settling a tie-vote on the tiebreaker on the Supreme Court, who must now choose between the two candidates advanced by the commission: former Supreme Court Justice John E. Wallace, Jr., a Democrat, and former Superior Court Judge Marina Corodemus, a Republican….Make no mistake: this is an election. There are as many as seven voters.  The winner will either be a Democrat or a Republican. Election Day is August 10.”

All Supreme Court decisions are elections, elections with consequences. And some decisions are more consequential than others.

In NJ, Democrats and Republicans have never agreed on a map without employing a “bipartisan” tiebreaker. But since this the first time the two Parties couldn’t agree on a 13th member for Congressional redistricting, it’s the first time the Supreme Court option will be used.

If this isn’t unusual enough, the NJ Supreme Court will vote on the Congressional tiebreaker before the US Census Bureau transmits the census numbers to the state. This year, it’s delayed. It won’t happen until September 30, so the process of redistricting can’t begin until then.

Even though three of the Jersey Justices are Republicans and four were nominated by GOP governors, it’s unclear if the Supreme Court will vote in line with their Party’s choice. When state Republicans went to the Supreme Court to fight a Covid-related borrowing plan, the Court unanimously backed up a plan approved by Democratic Governor Murphy and the Democratic-controlled legislature.

This standoff is a reminder that even in states that don’t have an outwardly partisan redistricting process, bipartisan disputes are hard to avoid.

Time to wake up America! In these times when there is little to no trust between the Parties, there is no such thing as bipartisanship.

To help you (and President Biden, along with Sens. Manchin and Sinema) wake up, here is a band from Russia and Ukraine, Leonid & Friends, featuring the Rox Bros, doing a cover of Steely Dan’s “My Old School” from SD’s 1973 album “Countdown to Ecstasy”.

The song’s lyrics tell the story of a drug bust at Bard College (named “Annandale” in the lyrics) while both Donald Fagen and Walter Becker were students there, and how a female acquaintance had inadvertently betrayed them to “Daddy Gee” (G. Gordon Liddy, then a local prosecutor):

Steely Dan tunes demand absolute precision and attention to detail, and these guys nail it!

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – July 25, 2021

David Frum in the Atlantic:

“In the United States, this pandemic could’ve been over by now, and certainly would’ve been by Labor Day. If the pace of vaccination through the summer had been anything like the pace in April and May, the country would be nearing herd immunity. With most adults immunized, new and more infectious coronavirus variants would have nowhere to spread. Life could return nearly to normal.”

More:

“When pollsters ask about vaccine intentions, they record a 30-point gap: 88% of Democrats, but only 54% of Republicans, want to be vaccinated as soon as possible. All told, Trump support predicts a state’s vaccine refusal better than average income or education level.”

Wrongo’s patience is nearly at an end with these people. It will be fully at an end once vaccinations are available to the 12 and under crowd. Then, let the anti-vaxxers go one-on-one with the virus to see who wins. Wrongo will say to them, “mask up if you want to live, or don’t”. On to cartoons.

GOP tries on a new vax message:

And even Fox tries walking it back:

And it’s not just at home:

McCarthy rolls his ball of dung back to the GOP caucus:

Parties don’t see eye to eye on infrastructure:

Our weather’s out of control:

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Saturday Soother – July 24, 2021

The Daily Escape:

Wayside Inn Grist Mill, Sudbury MA –  July 2021 photo by Kristen Wilkinson. The Mill was built by Henry Ford (yes, that Henry Ford) in 1929.

The Olympics kicked off on Friday. There will be millions of words written about it, and Wrongo wants to get his writing in front of you at the start. The AP reported that around 100 of the 613 US athletes are unvaccinated. That’s about 16% who haven’t gotten their shots.

These people have given much of their lives to getting their minds and bodies in a position to be the best in the world at their sport. They use science to guide their diets and their training regimens. But with a virus that could permanently decrease their lung function or, worse? Suddenly, they’re skeptics?

Still, an 84% U.S. Olympian vaccination rate is beyond what ever will be the final total here in non-sporting America.

Wrongo and Ms. Right ventured into NYC on Thursday, our first visit since the start of the Covid era. We saw the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit at Pier 36 on the lower East Side. It was a great experience, and as the title implies, it was “immersive”. Here are a few photos from the show:

The artwork is projected on to the walls and floor, and in the background, music is playing, some of which you will know, like Edith Piaf singing “Je ne regret rein” for Van Gogh’s time in Paris. The shot above was  taken in a room that is about 10,000 sq. ft. People are seated on the floor, and on a few benches and chairs. Everyone was masked. Here’s another:

And a third:

The exhibit had a very diverse group of visitors, all ages, races and ethnicities, along with multiple languages.

Wrongo and Ms. Right have visited the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which houses the world’s largest collection of artwork by Van Gogh. It owns more than 200 paintings, 500  drawings and almost all of his letters. This show in NYC is no substitute for seeing rooms full of his work, But still, it was a worthwhile experience. Highly recommended!

On to the weekend! More yard work time on the Fields of Wrong, the project that never ends. It looks like Saturday will bring beautiful weather, and Sunday brings rain. So today’s the day for outdoor activities. But before we start, let’s pull up a chair by a window, and listen to Arabella Steinbacher’s solo violin performing “The Lark Ascending” by Ralph Vaughan Williams with the Orchestre Philharmonique of Monte-Carlo, conducted by Andrew Manze in September 2014 in Hannover Germany.

This work was inspired by a poem by George Meredith. Today we play it in honor of long-time friend of the blog, Shelley VK, who’s father, Gordon died this past week. It’s one of Shelley’s favorites. Godspeed, Gordon!

 

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Will We Ever Bring the Wealthy to Justice in America?

The Daily Escape:

Evening mist, Southampton, MA – July 4, 2021 photo by Kendall Lavoie

From Patrick Radden Keefe in the NYT:

“In 2016, a small-time drug dealer in Leesburg, Va., named Darnell Washington sold a customer a batch of what he thought was heroin. It turned out to be fentanyl. The customer shared it with a friend, and the friend died from an overdose….prosecutors have begun treating overdose deaths not as accidents but as crimes, using tough statutes to charge the dealers who sold the drugs. Mr. Washington had never met the person who overdosed. But, facing a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 20 years for distribution resulting in death, he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of distribution and is now serving a 15-year sentence in federal prison.”

Shouldn’t that same level of criminal liability also be directed at Purdue Pharma, the company that makes OxyContin? After all, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services:

“More than 760,000 people have died since 1999 from a drug overdose. Two out of three drug overdose deaths in 2018 involved an opioid.”

And OxyContin is an opioid. It should be clear that the members of the billionaire Sackler family who own a controlling stake in Purdue, must also face the music. But, that isn’t happening. The Sacklers are likely to receive a sweeping grant of immunity from all litigation relating to their role in helping precipitate and prolong America’s opioid crisis. From NPR: (brackets by Wrongo)

“As part of the bankruptcy talks, they’ve [the Sacklers] offered to give up control of the company and pay roughly $4.2 billion. In exchange, under the current deal on the table, the Sacklers would keep much of their wealth, admit no wrongdoing and be sheltered from future opioid lawsuits.”

It’s interesting that state DAs and DOJ attorneys can charge dealers with drug induced homicide in overdose cases and yet can’t (or won’t) charge the executives or owners in the Purdue/Sackler case.

In October 2020, during the dying days of the Trump administration, the Sacklers reached a settlement agreement with the US DOJ. Forty states have now agreed to this plan, although significant holdouts remain. Connecticut has filed an objection to the bankruptcy exit plan and has been joined by eight other states: California, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

According to the formal objection:

“…the attorneys general oppose a provision in the bankruptcy plan that would grant the Sacklers lifetime immunity from all liability, which would prevent the states from bringing consumer protection lawsuits against the family. And they highlighted a recent New York Times editorial that showed the Sacklers will continue to earn interest on their $4.3 billion as the settlement is paid out over nine years, thus ensuring they will be wealthier than they were when they started.”

In response, the Sacklers threatened a motion for sanctions against five of the dissenting states for allegedly false statements in the states’ proofs of claim, only to withdraw their 201 page motion the next day. That big memo probably cost a fortune for the lawyers to produce, but hey, it’s the Sacklers! More than anything, it shows that the Sacklers have no sense of contrition for their role in the OxyContin debacle.

There is still some reason to hope that the Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain won’t agree to the blanket immunity for the Sacklers. This week, the DOJ made two separate court filings that raised Constitutional and other concerns about the settlement. From NPR:

“US Trustee William Harrington….accused the Sacklers and their associates of using the bankruptcy system to avoid liability for ‘alleged wrongdoing in concocting and perpetuating for profit one of the most severe public health crises ever experienced in the United States’”

Their argument is technical, and the saga is far from over. In the light of Harrington’s objections, and the arguments made by the state AG holdouts, it may be difficult for Judge Drain to sign off on the immunities as they now stand, especially since the Sacklers are retaining the bulk of their fortune, and that no individual executives were charged, even with misdemeanors.

Where’s the justice? What people really want, more than compensation for harm done to them, is justice. They want proof that the rich and their corporations can’t just commit crimes that harm or kill people on a massive scale, and then use their wealth and political connections to evade the consequences.

Worse, the victims won’t blame Purdue or the Sacklers if/when they’re betrayed. People expect companies or the wealthy to defend themselves to the best of their ability.

They will blame the government, for feigning helplessness in this case, just like they did with the banks in 2009.

And for allowing a separate standard of justice for the wealthy to prevail. Again.

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The Coming Wealth Transfer

The Daily Escape:

Storm at North Clear Creek Falls, CO – April 2021 photo by mattbnet

Our current economic worries tend to overlook that Baby Boomers are retiring in increasing numbers, and quite a few are beginning to die. They’re leaving a giant pile of money to their heirs, what the media have calledthe greatest wealth transfer” in modern history. OTOH, we should remember that it will probably cost $500,000 to pay the projected private college tuition in 20 years.

From the WSJ: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“Baby boomers and older Americans have spent decades accumulating an enormous stockpile of money. At the end of this year’s first quarter, Americans aged 70 and above had a net worth of nearly $35 trillion….That amounts to 27% of all US wealth, up from 20% three decades ago. Their wealth is equal to 157% of US gross domestic product, more than double the proportion 30 years ago…”

It gets better: In a 2019 report,  Cerulli Associates projected that older generations would hand down some $70 trillion between 2018 and 2042. Roughly $61 trillion will go to their Millennial and Gen X heirs, with the balance going to philanthropy.

Millennials, (at least, some Millennials) are one day soon going to be a lot richer than they are today. A key question is whether this new-found wealth will change them. Looking at Millennials’ voting patterns, they gave Biden about 60% of their ballots in 2020, while voters over 45 gave him 48%. In Blue America, it was even more striking. Voters under 40 voted overwhelmingly for Bernie Sanders in both of his Democratic nomination bids.

Turning to wealth, Millennials’ have relatively meager financial assets. The St. Louis Fed calculated that in 2016:

“…the typical older Millennial family was 34% poorer than we would have expected”

Millennials’ home ownership rate trails their predecessors at the same point in their life cycles, with roughly half of millennials still paying rent. Such statistics have led a few headline writers to declare Millennials “one of the poorest generations ever.

Many in politics think that the Millennials will remain political lefties and that they will soon be the most politically influential generation. But if Millennials do retain their leftist leanings, it won’t be because of their lack of wealth. When the Boomers finish their wealth transfer, Millennials will go from the poorest to “the richest generation in human history.”

Will this change their politics to be more like those of their Boomer parents? Will the family “trickle down” of wealth redraw the lines in American politics? That’s doubtful. The impending wealth transfer will be regressive: A Federal Reserve study of intergenerational transfers in the US found that Americans in the top 10% of the income distribution were twice as likely to receive an inheritance as those in the bottom 50%.

But even though the wealth transfer is concentrated at the top of the pyramid, some of it will reach a broader base. Capitol One estimates that more than half of the estates that will transfer over the next 30 years will go to low or middle-income households.

That means a substantial group of lower income Millennials are going to get some money from their parents.

About 48% of Millennials own their homes. Those who secured homeownership early have generally seen their net worth rise: Between 2015 and 2020, the median sales price for a US house increased by 14.5%. And of course, one Millennial’s rising home equity is another’s rising rent.

College-educated Millennials are much closer to matching the Boomers’ rate of saving than non-college-educated Millennials. And the racial divide in Millennial wealth is huge. White Millennials lag White Boomers in wealth accumulation by just 5%. Black Millennials, meanwhile, own 52% less wealth than previous generations of Black Americans had accrued by their age. Worse, Black Millennials have been losing ground on their predecessors in recent years.

The “great wealth transfer” will exacerbate all these inequities. Wealthy, White Millennials will claim a massively disproportionate share of the impending inheritances and gifts. And as familial wealth is transferred, the Millennial rich and upper-middle class will be the wealthiest generation that America has ever known. While working-class Millennials, meanwhile, are poised to enjoy less economic security than their parents, as their wages fail to keep pace with the rising costs of housing and health care.

Wrongo’s and Ms. Right’s kids stand to inherit a significant chunk of change if we were to die today. The missing piece of this analysis is that we don’t know how long we will live, and what long term care will cost to keep us going. That may eat up a significant amount of the money we’ve saved in our lifetime.

But let’s hope that whether it’s a little money or a lot, it won’t stop them from fighting for universal health care and an expanded right to vote.

Let’s also hope that they won’t suddenly start voting for a death cult peopled by morons and Ted Cruz.

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Monday Wake Up Call – July 19, 2021

The Daily Escape:

Morning Glory Geyser, Yellowstone NP, WY – 2021 photo by Edwin Buske Photography. The geyser used to be blue, not green. Tourists throwing things into it have changed it’s color. The debris affected water circulation and lowered the geyser’s temperature. That caused a bloom of orange and yellow bacteria.

The Republicans won’t stop fighting Critical Race Theory (CRT), which examines the history of institutional racism in America. From Roll Call:

“…on Monday, GOP Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) sent a request to the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee asking the panel to prohibit funding for instruction in critical race theory for service members in its fiscal 2022 defense spending bill. He argued that service members “should not have to be subjected to discriminatory intersectional exercises that try to politicize our military.”

It’s worth remembering that The Former Guy issued an executive order in September 2020 that restricted the federal government and its contractors from teaching CRT. And that Biden rescinded that order on the day of his inauguration.

This represents a widening of the Republicans’ war on CRT. In recent weeks Republicans have passed legislation in Florida, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Iowa, Idaho and Texas, placing significant restrictions on what can be taught in public school classrooms and, in some cases, in public universities.

We’ve seen this before. The CRT insanity is reminiscent of 2010 when Fox News and the GOP went berserk condemning the so-called Ground Zero Mosque being built in New York City.

Today, it’s the same thing all over again with CRT. Eric Boehlert via his indispensable “Press Run”:

“When Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis moved to ban critical race theory from classrooms in the Sunshine State, the Miami Herald reported, ‘Superintendents across the state have said they do not teach critical race theory in their schools’. But that did not stop the State Board [of Education] from considering the rule to ban it.”

It’s the same everywhere: Republicans are saying they must make moves to protect students from CRT. But Republicans can’t find examples of it actually being taught in high schools. Once again, we’re seeing conservatives pushing a concocted claim and the entire Republican Party playing along.

Let’s not mince words about what Republicans are doing. They’re passing laws that amount to speech codes. They’re trying to control public education by banning the free expression of ideas. Education is by its nature political. To try and “cleanse” it from politics will give us citizens who lack civic knowledge and the civic responsibility that comes with it.

Censoring information makes informed choice impossible. It takes away the opportunity for people to learn and become mature and caring citizens.

When Christians were trying to add “Intelligent Design” into public school science curricula as an alternative theory to evolution, they often said schools should “teach the controversy“, implying an equivalence between the two. That failed, not because Creationism was debunked, but because it didn’t belong in the same category of knowledge as science.

At the time, nobody argued that Intelligent Design should be banned, just that it be discussed in its appropriate context: In comparative religion, not in biology class.

We can learn from the Christians this time though. If we frame America’s origin story as “teaching the controversy“, it might well be the best approach. It’s the only one that retains the nuance, contradictions, and complications necessary to provide an understanding of America and the experiences of its peoples.

There will always be disagreement about our nation’s history. We should welcome that debate in our public schools. It would be a violation of our shared vision of America as a nation of free and open debate if we resort to using state governments to wall off that discussion.

It’s impossible to create a neutral, non-controversial curriculum because real education aims to develop critical thinking. Critical thinking requires us to understand controversial viewpoints on the one hand, and the arguments for and against them on the other.

People have the right to get the education that they want for their kids, but that doesn’t mean legislating CRT out of existence. Instead, why don’t we teach kids how to spot and critique propaganda?

Time to wake up America! We can’t let one political party control our curricula. To help you wake up listen to Nina Simone perform “Backlash Blues” live at the Montreux Jazz Festival, 1976. The lyric of this song is the poem, “Backlash Blues” by Langston Hughes:

Resentment over the pace of the civil rights movement in the 1960s came to be known as white backlash, and it’s still with us today.

Lyric:

Mr. Backlash, Mr. Backlash

Just who do you think I am

You raise my taxes, freeze my wages

And send my son to Vietnam

You give me second class houses

And second class schools

Do you think that alla colored folks

Are just second class fools?

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – July 18, 2021

The Summer Olympics start next Saturday in Tokyo. Nobody knows how they will go, but the Olympic village just reported its first case of Covid. And Tokyo reported a six-month high in cases.

That doesn’t sound like an auspicious start for an event that has already been postponed for a year.

The reason it’s taking place at all is money. NBC and the International Olympic Committee agreed to a $7.75 billion rights deal in 2014 that’s designed to keep the Olympics on NBC through 2032. And there are hundreds of sponsors signed up for commercials during the more than 7,000 hours of coverage scheduled across its variety of networks from July 23 to August 8.

As Felix Salmon writes, the Olympics haven’t made financial sense in decades. Host cities spend billions preparing for the games. They inevitably suffer massive cost overruns, and go deep into debt, with a lasting legacy of little more than a group of buildings that are a monument to failure.

The 2008 Beijing summer Olympics cost $45 billion; its revenues were $3.6 billion, most of which went to the International Olympic Committee. Russia’s Sochi winter Olympics in 2014 cost about $50 billion and had even lower revenues.

The Tokyo Olympics will cost about $28 billion and the decision to ban spectators means foregoing another $1 billion in ticket sales. So, while winning an Olympic medal represents the pinnacle of athletic achievement in most sports, the edifice that supports standing on the podium is crumbling. On to cartoons.

Biden may need to choose his words better:

Biden’s tune is nice, the words are true:

GOP’s attacks on culture wars hit a new low. It’s always the one on the left:

Recent books say the Former Guy attempted a coup. Republicans say not so:

Most Republicans are happy to excuse TFG’s behavior:

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