Monthly Archives: November 2021

Should We Worry About Inflation?

On November 10th it was announced that the consumer price index has increased 6.2 percent in twelve months, the largest yearly increase in thirty years.  This announcement coincided with a Washington Post/ABC poll ( showing that President Biden’s approval ratings have fallen again: “Despite a mix of economic signals — falling unemployment and rising prices — 70 percent rate the economy negatively, including 38 percent who say it is in ‘poor’ condition.”  What should we make of this?

First of all, prices have risen.  Inflation is real.

It’s important to understand why this is happening.  Despite what Republicans may claim, inflation is not the fault of the Biden Administration.   As explained by CNN reporter Allison Morrow ( “Blame the pandemic. In the spring of 2020, as Covid-19 spread, it was like pulling the plug on the global economy. Factories around the world shut down; people stopped going out to restaurants; airlines grounded flights… It was the sharpest economic contraction on record. By early summer, however, demand for consumer goods started to pick back up. Rapidly. Congress and President Joe Biden passed a historic $1.9 trillion stimulus bill in March that made Americans suddenly flush with cash and unemployment assistance. People started shopping again. Demand went from zero to 100, but supply couldn’t bounce back so easily.” [Emphasis added] “Blame the pandemic.”  Blame the Trump Administration that mishandled the pandemic.

In today’s polarized environment, Democrats and Republicans view inflation differently.  Nonetheless, the Washington Post/ABC poll ( found that most respondents (50 percent) do not hold Biden responsible for inflation.  ([Notably] the poll finds majority support for [Biden’s] biggest plans. The Post-ABC poll finds that 63 percent of Americans support Washington spending $1 trillion ‘on roads, bridges and other infrastructure,’ while 58 percent support spending roughly $2 trillion to ‘address climate change and to create or expand preschool, health care and other social programs.'”

Most Republican voters don’t understand economics, so it’s easy for them to believe that President Biden caused the inflation to happen.  Recently Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio  said: “This will be a winter of high gas prices, shortages and inflation because far left lunatics control our government.”

The economy is complicated and multiple factors have contributed to the rise in the consumer price index.  As mentioned, demand bounced back and supply did not respond rapidly.  In addition, there have been problems in the global supply chain.  Some are remote — problems in Chinese chip factories — and some are local — a lot of truck drivers quit their jobs, during the pandemic, and have not returned.

Economist Robert Reich ( ) believes that corporate greed has played an important role in the inflation kerfuffle: “There’s a deeper structural reason for inflation, one that appears to be growing worse: the economic concentration of the American economy in the hands of a relative few corporate giants with the power to raise prices. If markets were competitive, companies would keep their prices down in order to prevent competitors from grabbing away customers.  But they’re raising prices even as they rake in record profits.”

Regardless of one’s political persuasion, inflation is likely to diminish in 2022.  Writing in CNN Business, Moody’s economist Mark Zandi observed ( “As [the pandemic] fades and workers get healthy and return to work, the acute labor shortages and outsize pay increases will end, which means higher prices will too. What’s more, workers who permanently lost jobs during the pandemic will find a new employer; parents who’ve been home tending to children in school online will return to work as schools continue to return to in-person learning; and parents with younger children will take jobs as children eventually get vaccinated and daycare becomes more widely available.”  Zandi continued: “All of this refutes the notion that the government spending and tax breaks to support the economy through the pandemic, including the American Rescue Plan this past March, are somehow behind the higher inflation.”

Yes.  Inflation is real.  It’s been stoked by the pandemic.  As we overcome the pandemic, we will overcome inflation.

That, of course, is the challenge.  If the pandemic endures, then inflation will endure.  President Biden is determined to end the pandemic by mandating vaccination wherever possible, but many Republicans are fighting this.  That’s a problem.  That’s what we should worry about: Republicans have abandoned common sense.

Two Coyotes

Two coyotes near the house
One taking a nap in the lower meadow
The other hunting for food.

Healthy coyotes
Larger than a fox
Smaller than a wolf.

Coyote symbolizes mental growth
Strength for dealing with stress.

For the indigenous
Coyote is the holy trickster.

For our Aussie, Belle,
Coyote is intruder
A stimulant for hyper vigilance
an excuse to go apeshit.

Lessons from Virginia

The results of the November 2nd elections were not good for Democrats but the sky is not falling.  Democrats still have time to salvage the midterms if we pay attention to what went wrong; particularly in Virginia.

1.Candidates matter: While it’s impolite to speak ill of the dead, Terry McAuliffe was a terrible candidate.  Not just because he was personally obnoxious, but also because he ran with a dreadful strategy: “That other guy is the second coming of Trump.”

In the aftermath of the November 2nd election, we saw multiple instances where good progressive candidates won — for example, new Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey and new Boston Mayor Michelle Wu — based upon their accomplishments and programs.

2. Voters are pissed off.  It’s not unusual for midterm voters to be irritated, but the US electorate is unusually roiled at the moment.  That’s the enduring Trump legacy: voters of all persuasions are angry.  Reds because they believe Trump was cheated; Blues because they want Trump to go away.  Reds because they don’t want to be vaccinated; Blues because they want the pandemic to be over.  Reds because they believe the economy has been artificially suppressed; Blues because it’s hard to make a living.  Etcetera.

The November 2nd electorate was angry and Republicans did a better job harnessing this anger.

3. Midterm elections are tough because most voters have a limited memory.  Whatever problems voters are currently experiencing they attribute to the current Administration.  It’s Biden’s pandemic and Biden’s economy and Biden’s border…

Voters want the pandemic to be over.  They’ve forgotten — or don’t care-  that Trump and the Republicans turned it into a disaster.  Everyone wants Coronavirus to go away.  (The best way to accomplish this is “tough love:” vaccine mandates.  Force everyone to get vaccinated.  Get vaccinated or stop being a cop or bus driver or nurse.)

Voters have forgotten that Trump and the Republicans screwed up the economy by a series of bonehead moves: cutting taxes of the wealthiest individuals and corporations, mishandling the pandemic, mishandling Covid relief… Voters want the economy to be better; they want life to be easier.  The best way to accomplish this is for Congress to pass Biden’s “Build Back Better” program.  Now is the time for Congressional Democrats to stiffen their spines and pass this legislation.  “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”  Now is the time for Democrats to “get going.” (During this writing, Democrats passed a historic $1.25 trillion infrastructure bill.  And the economy added 531,000 jobs.)

4. In Virginia, Republican voters were incensed about parental control of schools. There’s a grain of truth to this because, during the pandemic, many parents had to drop out of work to take care of their children because of school closures and vaccination requirements. Fox News, and other conservative outlets, have jumped on the “parental rights” issue to pump out a ton of disinformation; such as parents should determine school health standards.

It’s sad that Red voters are so gullible.  But in every election we have seen this.  We should be used to it.  And better able to fight back. We must do a better job fighting disinformation.

Writing in the Washington Post (, Pulitzer-Prize-winning  columnist Eugene Robinson said: “Democrats should not retreat on cultural issues but instead should fight lies with truth. Explain that when Republicans say “critical race theory” they really mean “aspects of American history that they hope will make White voters uncomfortable.” Explain that the Biden plan gives more funding to police, not less. Be loud and be proud.” [Emphasis added]

5. There was high voter turnout in Virginia.  Democrats turned out more than usual, but even more Republicans turned out.  Republicans have learned to turn out their base with manufactured cultural issues.  We should get used to this.

Writing in The Guardian, ( political observer Steve Phillips said: “In the 16 seats flipped by Republicans last year, an average of 34,000 more people came out to cast ballots for the Democratic candidate than in 2018. The challenge for Democrats was that Republican votes jumped by 54,000 votes per district…. Rather than distancing themselves from issues that are unpopular with Trump supporters, Democrats need to double down on the issues that resonate with and inspire infrequent voters who are progressive.” [Emphasis added]

6. Republicans have embraced racism.  Many of the November 2nd voters were motivated but the racist tropes of Fox News and other conservative outlets; for example, the supposed teaching of “critical race theory” in Virginia schools — a blatant lie.  It’s important to recognize how central racism is to the core of the contemporary Republican Party.  For example, many Republicans believe in “replacement theory” — the notion that Democrats are encouraging the population growth of non-Christian non-whites so “those people” can take their jobs.

There are many facets of the legacy of Donald Trump: one was open racism.

A christian white Republican member of my family recently told me that the January 6th insurrection was understandable “because people were fed up with the Black Lives Matter riots.”

7. Democrats can prevail so long as we turn out our base and there’s a level playing field.  We can turn out our base with exciting candidates and dynamic programs.  We need help with the “level playing field” part.  We need to do everything we can to pass the Freedom to v/ote act ( ).  Yes, even if that means changing the filibuster rules.

It’s not time to panic, it’s time to get busy.  We know who the Republicans are.  Do we know who we are?

Time (Marches On)

The older I get
The more refined
My sense of time.

When I was young
I drifted down a broad road
Composed of sunshine and flowers.

Now I trudge
Along a rainswept path
Littered with detritus.

Have my senses eroded
or been sharpened?
Am I more realistic
or muted by pessimism?

I drove to Sebastopol listening to the radio
Tom Petty, Muddy Waters, John Lennon, Jerry Garcia..
“They’re all dead”
I realized

“What if I live long enough
that no one remembers
John Coltrane, Bob Dylan, Billie Holiday…”

“Fie on them”
I said — like my grandfather
“If that happens
They don’t deserve my company.”