The Conversation talks to three scholars about "Three Ways Congress Could Hold Facebook Accountable for Its Actions." I think good old-fashioned trust-busting is the best way to hold them accountable, but at least two of the three suggestions -- giving users more control over how Facebook uses their data in algorithms, and mandating transparency about Facebook's problems -- are good ideas. Making Facebook pay up for the broadband funding gap as a sort of win-win proposition ain't my favorite, though. I approve of win-win negotiations among good-faith negotiators, but the rest need to be brought to heel by our laws.
Dean Baker also warns against blaming Trump/Biden spending policies for inflation. Why? Because countries that actually spent more (like France and Japan) aren't seeing the same inflation, because the pandemic and the resulting supply chain issues (again) are the major causes of inflation, because proposals like universal pre-K and subsidized child care will actually alleviate inflation in numerous ways, and because higher wages and the expanded Child Tax Credit are actually helping families deal with inflation much better. We'll know more in the spring, I suppose -- if the diaper-loaded brats refusing to get vaccinated would be gracious enough to help us get out of this pandemic, that is.
Speaking of supply chain issues, the heroic Matt Stoller dives into the problems we're having with shipping. Corporations built bigger and bigger ships -- in the name of efficiency, I suppose -- but bigger ships carrying more stuff and arriving less frequently snarl trucking and railroad traffic by making them wait around for-freaking-ever, and these "too big to sail" ships also kill the smaller ports that can't handle the amount of stuff they're bringing. And that's just the beginning. Naturally, Congress's decision to stop regulating ocean shipping as a public utility in 1998 figures heavily in this story. (As an aside, trucker Ryan Johnson is really astute about supply chain problems, but I fear he'll never get the traction he deserves, not just because he says quite rightly that truck drivers should make more money, but because he's obviously not an asshole.)
Uh oh: an Iowa state audit finds that Gov. Kim Reynolds appears to have misused nearly half a million dollars in COVID relief funds to pay the salaries of office workers for three months in 2020. Hey, you know what's even more interesting? Apparently those salaries weren't in the budget Gov. Reynolds submitted before the pandemic, and the Governor's office has now said they'll provide documentation to our federal government after previously saying no such documentation existed. It ain't the barrel Kristi Noem will be turning in next fall, but what fun it would be to see a Democrat topple Ms. Reynolds in 2022, not two years after Iowa Democrats were given up for dead.
When you hear that "neoliberal Democrats are struggling to connect with working-class voters whose communities have lost manufacturing jobs," you might be tempted to say well of course they are! They're the same people who reject every actual attempt at helping to fix working class voters' problems! And then these voters turn to Republicans, who are worse but at least are willing to ape their anger, and then stoke it further. Author Joel Bleifuss says the Democrats' actual liberal wing, not its "moderate" corporatist wing, needs to stage an "intervention." Ever feel like that's what you've been doing your whole life?
Finally, Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL) touts the funding the infrastructure bill will deliver to his district -- without mentioning that he voted against that bill. Not only did he vote against the bill, he called it "a Green New Deal wish list" (if only!) that will "expand government control of our lives." As with the American Rescue Plan Act, where numerous Republicans tried to take credit for things they liked about the law without mentioning that they voted against it, this is a golden opportunity for Democrats to run campaign ads excoriating Republican hypocrisy. Sadly, Gary Palmer's district (Alabama's 6th) is one of the most Republican in the nation; a Democrat has crested 30% there once in the last quarter-century. I'd call that an opportunity myself, but Democrats ain't known for their bravery.