Saturday, April 09, 2022

AFP needs to learn to count -- over 429 is not "dozens"

Iraq continues to experience violence -- the war has not ended.  And maybe it's time that injuries caused as a result of what we've done -- and are doing -- to our planet were included as violence?

AFP reports:

A dust storm has swept through much of Iraq, leaving dozens of people in hospital with respiratory problems, a health ministry spokesperson said on Saturday.

The storm formed in the north of the country on Thursday, prompting the cancellation of flights serving Erbil, capital of the autonomous Kurdistan region.

As the storm swept south, it shrouded Baghdad and cities as far south as Nasiriyah in a ghostly orange.

It's the month of April.  Dust storms aren't uncommon in Iraq.  For example, April 7, 2009, Barack Obama, then US president, snuck into Iraq without any public announcement until after he arrived.  He was supposed to tour (strut through) the Green Zone for the western press to take pictures and video of him beaming triumphantly.  Instead, a dust storm left him confined to Camp Victory (though some stated at the time that the dust storm had nothing to do with that confinement, it was a security concern that developed as he was en route to Iraq).  Dust storms do happen.  But, in Iraq, they are now happening more often and they are worse when they do occur.  This not by chance, they have "increased from 243 to 272 days per year over the past two decades, and is expected to reach 300 dusty days annually in 2050."  Louise Franco (NATURE WORLD NEWS) notes:

Although sand storms are common in Iraq, they have become more frequent over the years due to various weather and climatic factors, such as declining rainfall, desertification, and drought, according to Amer al-Jabri, director of Iraq's meteorological office, as cited by France 24 news.

And PHYS.ORG adds, "In November, the World Bank warned that Iraq could suffer a 20 percent drop in water resources by 2050 due to climate change."

And though AFP went with ''dozens'' for the number hospitalized, that is not correct, it's hundreds.  On Friday, Julian Bechocha (RUDAW) reported:

A severe dust storm sweeping Iraq and the Kurdistan Region has resulted in five deaths in Salahaddin province’s Tuz Khurmatu along with hundreds of hospitalizations in Erbil and Sulaimani.

“Five civilians have died of dust in Khurmatu and others have suffered from strain and are receiving treatment due to the density of the dust,” Sherwan Abdulrahim, the assistant director of Khurmatu hospital, told Rudaw on Friday.

In the Kurdistan Region’s capital of Erbil, 222 civilians were admitted to the city's emergency hospitals after suffering from breathing problems that arose from the dust storm, according to a statement from Erbil’s health directorate on Friday.

Another 45 people were hospitalized in Sulaimani, the city’s health directorate told Rudaw. 

Abdulrahim added that the five casualties are among 21 people who had been taken to the hospital as a result of the dust storm.

Repeating, 222.  The storm started on Thursday in the KRG and began moving southward.  AFP says "dozens" were hospitalized from the storm and they say that reporting late Saturday.  No.  By Friday, in Erbil alone, 222 had been hospitalized.  Hundreds across Iraq were hospitalized.  ALSUMARIA notes 207 hospitalized in Karbala Province (central Iraq) alone.  429 is not "dozens" -- nor is 429 the entire number for Iraq - it's the number for one hospital system in the city of Erbil (northern Iraq) and one province (Karbala) in central Iraq.  

It's not a minor story in Iraq.  Not only are their multiple Iraqi outlets reporting, ALMADA newspaper front pages Mahmoud Raouf's photo and dubs it photo of the day.

iraq duststorm

In other news, Hussein al-Amel (ALMADA) reports that the recent attacks on teachers and students  in Dhi Qar Province (60 attacks on teachers in the first semester of school alone) has led to the arrest on Friday of one person who attacked a teacher while Wednesday saw two arrests for the attempted attack on a student.  Last Tuesday saw the arrest of a shooter.  


Kat's "Kat's Korner: Dolly Parton still has the touch" went up earlier today and Isaiah's latest comic will go up shortly.  The following sites updated:


Sean Penn Pushes Using Nuclear Weapons In Ukraine War

Nomiki Konst BLAMES Krystal Ball, Jimmy Dore & Aaron Mate

Clinton Campaign Fined For Lying About Trump & Russia!

Ukraine to Syria: How Imperialism & Sabotage Divided the Western Left for 100 years, w/ Ben Norton


May Bioneers Conference: Early Bird Discount Extended



Hi Bioneer,

A quick heads up. Based on feedback from you, we’ve extended the end of our early-bird discount period to this coming Monday, April 11 – and we’re happy to offer a little weekend gift for folks to join us this May for Bioneers 2022. Use the code EXTRA10 for a discount on pricing for both the in-person and the virtual event. 

We’re finalizing the program and new sessions are being added to the schedule on a daily basis including vibrant conversations about Arts + Societal TransformationIndigenous Rights of Nature MovementsRegenerative Agriculture 2.0 and dozens more. 

Sign up ASAP and we sincerely hope to see you this May, whether it is at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco or wherever in the world you choose to join us from virtually.
And remember, Bioneers has an extensively subsidized scholarship program for both the in-person and the virtual events. If cost is an issue, please don’t hesitate to take advantage of the scholarship and reduced rate options. We actively fundraise for these programs and encourage you to utilize them if necessary.


Cindy Montañez, CEO of TreePeople

Cindy Montañez, the CEO of TreePeople, has rapidly expanded that Los Angeles-based organization’s impact across Southern California, turning it into the largest environmental movement and fastest growing environmental nonprofit in the region. Cindy, the youngest council member of her hometown of San Fernando at 25, became its mayor at 27, and then at 28 the youngest woman ever elected to the California State Legislature. Later, as Assistant General Manager at Los Angeles’ Department of Water and Power, she helped transition the nation’s largest publicly-owned utility to cleaner energy and a more sustainable water supply. In addition to her role at TreePeople, Cindy was just re-elected to San Fernando’s City Council and serves on the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability board.

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Brian Stelter Of CNN Humiliated By College Students On MSM Failures

The Plot to Kill Malcolm X Karl Evanzz and the 25th Anniversary of the Judas Factor

An Interview with Arnette Solon Ball

DEBUNKING NYT “Satellite Investigation” & Anonymous “Intelligence”


Kat's Korner: Dolly Parton still has the touch

Kat: Music moves us and it inspires us and it speaks to us.  Not really sure what this says about me, but I love "Snakes In The Grass."

Snakes in the grass
You'd better move fast
You'll be poisoned or be strangled to death
Their fangs, they bite deep
And their venom will creep
Inside you 'til you're gasping for breath
And you can't get away
From these God awful snakes
They will bite and suck 'til they bleed you dry
And when they're done with you
They'll be stalking someone new
Aw, trust me, you'll be lucky to survive
And they won't let you go
No, they're creepy, they're cold
So beware of the snakes in the grass (snakes in the grass)
They strike in a flash
So you better watch your ass
Or fall victim to those snakes in the grass

I really love the song.  In fact, it's my favorite song on Dolly Parton's new album RUN, ROSE, RUN.  Dolly wrote it and the other eleven songs on the album.  

When the album came out a few months ago, I was taking a pass on it.  I know why.  I'm lazy.  I don't pretend otherwise.  I'm also not a fan of James Patterson  I read pretty much everything I come across about John Lennon, for example.  Everything except Patterson's THE LAST DAYS OF JOHN LENNON.  Patterson's forever churning out something and the rare times I've made the mistake of picking up one of his word assemblages (I won't call them "books"), I've thought, "Well, it's good that he keeps trying to write."

RUN, ROSE, RUN is not just a new album from Dolly, it's also a book she's co-written with Patterson.  I wasn't going to read it so I figured I'd skip the album.  But Rebecca really loved it and I also heard a few songs when C.I. would be playing the new release.  

I have no idea the plot of the book and don't care.  I'll probably see the movie that they're supposed to make of it.  But, in the end I was able to enjoy the album without reading the book.  Still, writing a review felt a bit like cheating.  Like I didn't do the work, you know?  The student who wrote the book report by using CliffsNotes?

But then Toni was mad.  First for paying for ROLLING STONE.  She's subscribed for years.  And she hasn't read it in several months.  She was tidying up and saw all the issues she hadn't read and felt it was a waste of paper and money if she didn't at least do a quick skim.  She calls me up ticked with a review of RUN, ROSE, RUN that appears to say the album's good -- or maybe fine -- but not what the writer thought Dolly was capable of or should be doing.

Know what?  I'd love for Dolly to do a blue grass cover of "Tracks Of My Tears."  Know what else?  She doesn't on this album.  And guess what?  I'm okay with that. It's not where she's at in this moment.

And if RUN, ROSE, RUN was a bad or unsatisfying album, I might wish she'd recorded something else instead.  But this is a strong album.  While I love "Snakes In The Grass" the most, all the songs are achievements that will find you singing along and swaying.  

There is no filler on this album, boom-boom-bang-bang-pow-pow, she sings on "Firecracker" and it's an apt description of the album itself.  It's focused, it's driven and it's an achievement.

Maybe some are spoiled on Dolly?  She has released ove 250 albums -- that's studio, live, greatest hits, etc.  RUN, ROSE, RUN is Dolly's 52nd studio album.   And maybe some are a little nonchalant with her charms and talents, maybe even taking for granted just what she accomplishes on this album?

Her duet with Ben Haggard is everything a great country song should be.

Listen to that song, "Demons," and see if it doesn't have you thinking of a broken romance or two you've lived through. 

I've been fighting demons most of my life
So fighting with you makes no sense
I need some heaven and I've had enough hell
I'm an expert in pain and torment
So if you can't be with me
Then please just dismiss me
I guess when it's all said and done
We've all had our demons
I guess I was dreamin'
To think we could fight them as one


Music changes and evolves and we grow with it.  Things change.  For example, Dolly's EAGLE WHEN SHE FLIES was her final vinyl album of the 20th century.  Death of the lp, right?  Wrong.  Predictions proved to be premature.  Vinyl now outsells CDs (digital outsells both).  And starting in 2010 with BETTER DAY, Dolly's returned to releasing her albums on vinyl (and digital and CD). Things change but music remains and great artists know how to communicate.  Dolly's one of our greatest. 

Dolly and Loretta Lynn were among the women carving out space for women in country music early on with both singing and songwriting.  You can rightly note that Elle King, Carrie Underwood, Kasey Musgraves, Mindy McCready and others are  doing that today.  But you better include Dolly on that list because not only did she already do that, she's still doing that.  And country music is the better for it. 

If there's a problem with RUN, ROSE, RUN, I can't find it.  Wait.  Here's one: I love everything on the album.  And this review is winding down so that means I can squeeze in one more track.  Just one. A part of me really wants to go with the duet she does with Nichols ("Lost and Found") but I'm equally in love with "Blue Bonnet Breeze" and I'm going to go with that one because it's a story song and all of us Dolly fans know she does a story song like no one else -- even Cher in her 60s and 70s song cycles couldn't do a story song as strong as Dolly. 

Again, there's a lot to enjoy on this album, 12 amazing tracks.  If you check out RUN, ROSE, RUN,  you're going to love it.  And, as I learned, you don't have to read the book first.


What The Hyperactive US Lie Machine Has Been Hiding.mp4

Chris Smalls Calls Out Hypocrite Democrats


SCOOP! Billionaire Larry Fink Just Blew The Whistle On The Global "Free Market" Scam


SCOOP! Billionaire Larry Fink Just Blew The Whistle On The Global "Free Market" Scam

SHORT TAKES: The Insanity Of Public Money Spent on Sports Stadiums; "Blue" Oregon Could Very Well Snub A Democrat For Governor;

Jonathan TasiniApr 7CommentShare


There are times when, for just a quick moment, if you look really hard, a veil is lifted and you can see quite clearly the deep corruption of the economic system that impoverishes millions. Sometimes, it’s the actual lords of capital who, unintentionally, give everyone a glimpse—either because they goof or, more typically, they say something revealing about the system that seems pretty normal to them.

It’s really on us to catch these moments because the incompetent media mainly salutes the entire system, with very little critical analysis—how could you analyze if you don’t read and simply traffic in gossip, and spend most of your time bowing down at the feet of CEOs, praising them on cable news and elsewhere as the great “job creators”? By the way, the alternative progressive media isn’t much better because, frankly, most of the loudmouths who spew on podcasts and websites are mostly about building an audience, and making money, by feeding peoples’ understandable anger at the system—but they do so quite superficially and don’t bother to read (alert: reading Twitter does not count as in-depth inquiry).

Ah, so, to Larry Fink. Who is he? He’s the chairman and CEO of BlackRock, an American multinational investment management corporation, the largest in the world. He has his hands on roughly $10 trillion—yes, TRILLION with a capital “T”. Which means everyone takes his calls. He’s also made a big deal about BlackRock’s “commitment” to action around climate change—hold that thought for later on.

So, on March 24th, Fink wrote a letter to his shareholders (h/t to the Financial Times which is the only place I saw this discussed at any length). Every CEO letter to shareholders is an exercise in self-praise and glorification as well as a place to justify screw-ups in a corporate-speak kind-of-way (meaning, pretend like the CEO is being transparent but really obfuscating and covering up mistakes).

Two paragraphs in Fink’s letter—where he unintentionally gives a look at what the system is all about—are the most revealing for our conversation today:

Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and its subsequent decoupling from the global economy is going to prompt companies and governments worldwide to re-evaluate their dependencies and re-analyze their manufacturing and assembly footprints – something that Covid had already spurred many to start doing.

And while dependence on Russian energy is in the spotlight, companies and governments will also be looking more broadly at their dependencies on other nations. This may lead companies to onshore or nearshore more of their operations, resulting in a faster pull back from some countries. Others – like Mexico, Brazil, the United States, or manufacturing hubs in Southeast Asia – could stand to benefit. This decoupling will inevitably create challenges for companies, including higher costs and margin pressures. While companies’ and consumers’ balance sheets are strong today, giving them more of a cushion to weather these difficulties, a large-scale reorientation of supply chains will inherently be inflationary. [emphasis added]

When Fink talks about COVID, and to a lesser extent the war in Ukraine, having forced a change in “manufacturing and assembly footprints” he is talking about the “supply chains” you read so much about. Last October, I wrote extensively about supply chains—the main reason for the spider web of supply chains is, and has always been:



To always be moving production to countries where wages are rock-bottom, where unions are weak, where authoritarian regimes open the doors to marauding corporations, where huge profits can be made.

So, the underlying point here, the thought bubble that goes unsaid, the self-own, the “tell”: “Corporations made lots of money by paying slave wages in countries around the world and, now, that whole model of exploitation might be at risk because globalization is looking like a rocky proposition.”

COVID exposed, from a capitalist’s perspective, the vulnerability of the supply chain model when thousands of factories in poor countries shut down because the virus ran rampant—because people who live in abject poverty are always more vulnerable to disease, and, especially, people who are packed into vast, unsafe, work spaces who are the very same people who can’t get vaccinated in large numbers because of the rickety nature of health care systems in poor countries and the greed of drug companies who have an iron grip on the use of vaccines.

When Fink bemoans the “on-shoring” or “near-shoring” of corporate manufacturing, he is, unintentionally, shining the light on the immorality of the system, crying over this: oh, no, we will have to pay higher wages, higher relative to some sweatshop in, say, Bangladesh or China.

Let’s move to the next Fink point exposing, unintentionally, the despicable system. He refers to “a large-scale reorientation of supply chains will inherently be inflationary”.

By that, he is saying, without being explicit, wages will be higher.

That’s pretty logical: if you come closer to “home”—and by “home” I’m simply referring to being closer to a home office and end-use customers because no global corporation gives a crap about national identity or “patriotism”—your other costs of delivering stuff to customers (transportation, mainly) are going to be lower (putting a product on a truck, for example, as opposed to having to move something thousands of miles in a shipping container over a weeks-long voyage) and it will be faster (which saves money).

Wages will be higher. Isn’t that awful?

Well, it is to the entire Fink world which has made massive profits over many decades principally based on a model of low wages—it’s the Wal-Mart economic strategy. And you don’t have to go further than re-emphasizing that had workers’ wages reflected productivity gains made over the past 40 years, the federal minimum wage should be somewhere around $22-per-hour, not the current poverty-level $7.25-per hour.

Now, to pick up the point about climate change. Fink has grabbed a lot of uncritical positive public relations in the media with his recent pledge to make investment decisions with an eye to climate change (I guess “uncritical” goes without saying for “journalists” who fawn over powerful and rich people). In his letter:

As I wrote in my letter to CEOs over the past three years, the energy transition can only work if it is fair and just. Importantly, it will not occur overnight or in a straight line. It requires us to shift the energy mix from brown to light brown to light green to green. [emphasis added]

Ha! “Fair and just”.

This is the additional “tell” on Black Rock and the “free market”. It’s a bizarre notion that the future of the planet should be in the hands of the “free market”, corporations and their CEOs: The entire motivation for globalization, which virtually every large corporation has pushed for, was to make gobs of money by exploiting workers AND the planet.

Impoverishing people by paying them pennies comes hand-in-glove with daily operations that ravage natural resources with very little, if any, cost to repair the surrounding environment. In fact, ravaging the environment is not a bug, it’s a feature on the plus side of the equation for CEOs and is the unseen positive part of the bottom line—if a corporation sucks out huge amounts of water from a river or mines ores from deep in the earth, and, then, drops the polluted water back into nature or leaves large piles of deadly ore tailings to blow in the wind, but never pays for the real cost of that plunder (an “economic externality” in the lingo), it’s a boon to profits—the natural world ends up, sadly, subsidizing its own plunder.


Fink’s use of “fair and just” is the way he, and other CEOs, are trying to co-opt the debate. Or, put another way, Fink’s “fair and just” is a far cry from a “fair and just” transition that means workers and communities will be made whole for any economic changes because of de-carbonization. Bemoaning the reversal of globalization, whose entire engine is driven entirely by quite unjust wage robbery, and, then, blaming inflation on the “onshoring” of production—meaning, largely, paying higher wages compared to slave-like wage levels in poorer countries—is not even close to what fair and just transition means.

In my opinion, written before, fair and just transition means:

All workers effected by decarbonization must be made whole in overall income and benefits, and, at the same time, communities must be robustly financed to encourage job creation that will benefit men and women equally and spark economic development that makes up fully for any decline in losses to the tax base or other income that decarbonization-related activities contribute. Where new jobs are created, those jobs must offer 100 percent equivalent wages to disappearing good-paying, union-wage jobs and offer every worker full-time, good-paying work, not precarious, low-paying, irregular work.

That is not what Fink believes.

If you want one last insight into BlackRock, consider that this leviathan controls about 13% of the stock of Warrior Met Coal at year’s end, making it the company’s largest stakeholder—a company where mineworkers have been on strike for an entire year because:

…Miners gave up wages, health care benefits, pensions and more to allow Warrior Met Coal to emerge from bankruptcy in 2016.

Since then Warrior Met has been extremely profitable, paying shareholders $852 million in dividends, paying a special cash dividend of $190 million and compensating CEO Walter Scheller with more than $17 million.

Yet the rank-and-file workers have struggled to make ends meet. Since the bankruptcy, Warrior Met Coal has: cut the hourly wages of the miners by more than 20%; replaced the defined-benefit pension plan with a 401(k) plan; shifted health care costs onto active employees; cut the health care benefits of 2,500 retirees; and told the miners to work up to 16-hour shifts with few days off and only three paid holidays a year that can be taken only on the days they actually occur. [emphasis added]

All that said, I appreciate that Fink exposed how rotten a system we live with.



The Insanity Of Public Money Spent on Sports Stadiums

I like sports. Or at least some sports—principally, mostly, baseball. It’s good entertainment. It’s a bonding experience between people.

Sports, obviously, is a big business—getting bigger with the more recent overt, mindless embrace and promotion of sports gambling. It’s a business that makes rich people even richer. During the recent lock-out by owners of the baseball players, I pointed out in this long Twitter thread that every single owner of all 30 teams was a very rich person, mostly white men, from billionaires to the “paupers” who were “just” piddling multi-millionaires (aside: follow me over at Twitter for thoughts outside of this newsletter)

So, not a single taxpayer dollar should be spent subsidizing rich people to make them even richer by building new stadiums on the public dime—virtually every sports franchise gets more valuable the minute after these rich people buy the expensive toy. But, it happens all the time—billions of dollars over the past few decades.

So, how ridiculous is this?

Gov. Kathy Hochul proposed a deal Monday in which state and county governments would pay $850 million toward the estimated $1.4 billion cost of building the stadium in a Buffalo suburb.

Those figures, though, covered only construction costs. The team's lease agreement would also require the state to pay into a fund to keep the new building in Orchard Park in tip-top shape, according to a 14-page memorandum released by the Hochul administration.

That would include $100 million, paid out over 15 years, for any needed maintenance and repairs, plus at least an additional $180 million for capital improvements, paid out over 30 years. Actual annual state payments for the capital fund might be higher, adjusted upward based on the consumer price index.

Together, the state and county payments would make up one of the largest public subsidies ever given to a new NFL stadium. [emphasis added]

This is just a putrid waste of money that is happening for one principle reason: a governor wants to cozy up to rich people and rich donors and use taxpayer money to do it, layered with all sorts of double-talk about economic development.

Let’s discuss.


First, who owns the Buffalo Bills? Terrence Michael Pegula, a billionaire who has made his fortune in natural gas development, real estate, entertainment and professional sports. He ranks #438 on Forbes’ richest humans list, with a current net worth of $5.8 billion. If he is so hell-bent on having a new stadium for his team, by all means, go ahead and build one (assuming the land isn’t useful for other purposes like housing) but pay for it out of your own pocket.

Second, you will hear the argument, from the feckless governor and her ilk, that the public should ignore the immoral idea of showering rich people with hard-earned tax dollars because, miracles of miracles, putting a billion tax dollars—a billion dollars!—into the pockets of a very rich person will create economic benefits for people like you.

Let me give you a technical, economic term for that argument: utter bullshit.

This is not simply my rhetorical rejoinder. It’s been deeply researched by some serious economists.

And it’s just false. Rubbish.

Here is an in-depth study on the whole topic, with lots of economic data and a survey of 130 studies over 30 years, including a reference to one of the foundational research efforts in this field that appeared in 1997: “Sports, jobs, and taxes: The economic impact of sports teams and stadiums” written by Roger Noll and Andrew Zimbalist. I’ve read the book and followed Noll’s views on the issue for some time—he’s brilliant on this topic.

The linked study quotes the introduction in the Noll/Zimbalist book:

The introduction summarizes the “unattractive economics of stadiums” from the studies’ findings succinctly: “In every case, the authors find that the local economic impact of sports teams and facilities is far smaller than proponents allege; in some cases it is negative. These findings are valid regardless of whether the benefits are measured for the local neighborhood, for the city, or for the entire metropolitan area in which the facility is located” [emphasis added]

Also of note from the linked study—chew on this number:

Between 1970 and 2020, state and local governments devoted $33 billion in public funds to construct major-league sports venues in the United States and Canada, with the median public contribution covering 73 percent of venue construction costs. [emphasis added]

Indeed, back in 2018, I talked about taxpayer stadium subsidies with Roger, who is professor emeritus of economics at Stanford, when there was a looming idea to build a baseball stadium in Portland as a way of luring a major league team to the city and using taxpayer money for the project.

I asked him for his opinion on the Bills stadium focusing on just two issues (you can read a more extensive interview he gave here).

JT: The common thread in many of these deals over the years is the promise, to desperate communities, that somehow a stadium project will generate sought-after jobs. But, the good-paying ones for the construction are quite small and fleeting and the on-going jobs, which are mostly seasonal, can hardly be called middle-class creating work.

Roger: When the Governor said that the project would create 10,000 construction jobs (regardless of whether that is the right number), she was making the case for a depression-era public works program to reduce unemployment.  The next task should be to identify the construction projects of this size that would generate the most public benefits. And you are correct that the local jobs at the stadium will be about 100 or so players, coaches and executives who are paid millions of dollars each, a small number of full-time maintenance jobs that pay ordinary wages, and hundreds of jobs that pay minimum wage for five hours per week 10-20 days per year.  And, since these jobs are almost completely substitutes for other jobs in entertainment, recreation, restaurants and bars, the biggest effect is a massive transfer of income from a large number of people who are paid ordinary wages to a much smaller number who are paid millions.

JTCertainly, one big issue of sports stadium subsidies is the “over-promising” of benefits. But, as important, is the “opportunity cost” of using a billion dollars overall for this that, then, isn’t available for other priorities say health care or actual long-term job building ideas. Your thoughts?

Roger: The opportunity cost of the stadium project is the best alternative use of the resources that are allocated to it. The most obvious examples:  other potential uses of the site, another potential project that would employ the 10,000 construction workers, and other ways to spend the state and local government budgets – education, health care, infrastructure, etc.

Just a sliver more on Roger’s point about “opportunity costs”—that is money that won’t go to affordable housing, or subways or climate change efforts. And you don’t have to search to hard to see, through New York state, where a billion dollars could be better spent for the wider benefit of a lot more people.

So, this is just madness. A foolish use of scarce resources.

And it’s bad long-term politics, too. The average person has a very negative view of paying taxes—largely because she or he feels like they are paying too much and seeing little benefit. And in one sense, I totally understand the anger around taxes: compared to very wealth people, the average taxpayer pays a higher proportion in taxes on their income because rich people know how to dodge taxes—aided and abetted by a corrupt political system—and very little of their overall wealth is taxed at regular rates (hence, the very important idea of implementing a wealth tax).

What, then, is the average taxpayer to think when they hear, on the one hand, that regular services and benefits have to be cut, and other projects that really benefit the larger community have to be on hold, because the fiscal cupboard is bare while, on the other hand, there seems to be enough money to waste to build stadiums, which are just vanity edifices for rich people.


“Blue” Oregon Could Very Well Snub A Democrat For Governor

I’m simply reaffirming a point I’ve made for many months in a variety of places: “deep blue” Oregon (whatever “deep blue” means...) may very well elect a Republican for governor and/or reject the Democrat in favor of an “independent”. And I don’t think the Oregon Democratic party apparatus, or the national party, is taking that seriously enough. I’m simply reasserting this today with new info and a new specific observation.


If you look at the most recent statewide voter registration numbers:

-1,022,556 non-affiliated voters (or what are often called "independents")

-1,019,668 Democrats

-723,728 Republicans

To just hammer home the transparent point: independents are the largest category. As an aside that is relevant to this race: I subscribe to the notion that “independents” aren't some blank slate, or that they are unmoored in their beliefs. They are alienated from the two parties—for understandable reasons. Generally speaking, I think a big slice of them are probably fairly socially liberal/progressive (favor abortion rights, e.g.) and perhaps a bit less progressive on economics, though younger “independent” voters are likely more progressive than older "independent" voters on economics.

  • NEW INFO: The “independent” candidate Betsy Johnson is a state senator and a self-described “moderate Democrat”, which is just a term that muddles a practical point: these are folks who embrace the “free market” system and are quite content to aid and abet the theft of peoples’ hard work by a handful of very rich people. So, it’s no surprise that Johnson just received $750,000 from that prick (that’s a political term) Phil Knight for a total of $1 million just from Knight (there are no campaign contribution limits for statewide, non-federal races)—but Johnson is piling up the cash from other wealthy donors and will likely be far better-funded than the other general election candidates from the two major parties. That isn't usually the case for a third-party candidate.

  • It’s hard to understate how bad the Democrats’ options are (and, no, that carpetbagger, “free market” advocate phony Nick Kristoff wasn’t any better of a choice). Contrary to the general national Democratic Party wish that Trump-like candidates win primaries under the (suspect) theory that such a person can’t win a general election, whether the equally uninspiring/mediocre former Oregon House speaker Tina Kotek or current state Treasurer Tobias Read win the primary (Kotek is probably a bit of the favorite), either of them should pray Republicans nominate a “non-Trumpy” candidate...


  • Republicans will be extremely motivated to vote in 2022 and usually get in the vicinity of 40 percent of the statewide vote.

  • Betsy Johnson will play up “I was once a Democrat, I’m moderate but the party is too left-wing, the party left me and look at homelessness blah blah”. She will have plenty of money to make that case.

  • It’s hard to know whether Johnson catches fire enough to win a three-way generalelection race and I’m not predicting she will win BUT what is clear to me is that even if she only polls 10-15 percent (which I think is a no-brainer given the money she has raised), she will get the support of plenty of independents and “moderate Democrats” who will have no particular love for either Kotek or Read, either one of whom will be running with the baggage of following the equally stupendously mediocre Kate Brown (for whom, for the record, as a good “soldier”, I knocked on slews of doors for her re-election campaign).

  • A crazy lunatic Republican (I know, it's hard to categorize that exactly) would be welcome news for Johnson because whatever slice of “moderate Republicans” exists (mainly over things like abortion rights) who might flee from a Republican lunatic will do so to Johnson because they feel comfortable with the pro-free market, business mouthpiece, Phil Knight-endorsed Johnson. They are not going to run to vote for a Democrat but Johnson is a “safe harbor” for that cohort.

  • A non-Trump Republican will hold a solid base and deprive Johnson of some independent votes, make Johnson weaker in the general election, and, might, then, allow the Democrat to squeak through in a three-person race.

The warning lights are there.

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© 2022 Jonathan Tasini Un