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The 21 Most Important Political Stories of 2021 – and What They Tell Us about 2022 (Part 2) | Enlightened dissent | Detroit


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  • NWS St. Louis, Wikimedia Creative Commons
  • Tornado damage at an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois.

Last week, we started our recap of 2021’s most important political stories with the Big Lie, and we made our way through President Joe Biden’s legislative accomplishments (and their absence). In Part 2, we’ll start with Biden’s Hellish Summer.

In late June and early July, an extreme heat wave swept through the Pacific Northwest, setting record high temperatures in Portland (116 ° F), Salem (117 °), Seattle (108 °), Spokane (109 °) and Canada (121 °). Over 1,000 people have died.

It was not the only extraordinary weather event this year. There were wildfires in California and an ice storm in Texas. Earlier this month, tornadoes ravaged the Midwest, killing at least 88 people. The thermal dome would not have been possible without climate change, scientists say. While it is more difficult to link other specific disasters to carbon pollution, we know that the warmer the planet, the more often they will occur. Since climate policy is now driven by a coal millionaire, we should probably prepare for the Mad Max future.

The collapse of Kabul had many fathers. But in the first draft in history, the blame fell squarely on Biden, whose White House grossly overestimated the strength of the Afghan military. For more than a week in August, scenes of chaos filled television screens as US troops rushed to withdraw troops and rescue allies and desperate Afghans struggled to find a way out. An Islamic State suicide bomber killed 13 US soldiers and dozens of civilians outside Kabul airport. The United States retaliated by hitting civilians with drones.

Republicans who backed Donald Trump’s deal to release thousands of Taliban prisoners and withdraw US forces from Afghanistan accused Biden of “giving up[ing] on the world stage, “suggested he be impeached via the 25th Amendment, and in Trump’s case, said he should” resign in disgrace “underwater ever since.

The Delta variant was perhaps the main reason Biden failed to regain his political footing. The deadly wave of COVID-19 cases has passed through largely unvaccinated communities this summer, devastating red states – and counties – that have rejected vaccines and abandoned or fought basic precautions. Republicans criticized Biden for failing to bring the pandemic to fruition as promised – no matter how much they fought mask and vaccine mandates – and economic growth has slowed to a trickle.

The short version of the very complicated inflation story: During the pandemic, consumers started buying a parcel stuff online. Retailers couldn’t find enough delivery drivers, so they paid more generous wages and passed those costs on to consumers. They also stored more containers before delivery and passed on those costs as well. Meanwhile, increased sales volume combined with labor shortages created traffic jams at ports and transportation hubs, slowing deliveries and forcing retailers to stockpile excess inventory, which, again, drove up prices.

Inflation is therefore linked to a global supply chain crisis, which is linked to labor shortages. Labor shortages are also a multi-faceted problem, but in the United States there appear to be three main culprits: a falling birth rate, immigration restrictions and, most importantly, millions of people. Americans who voluntarily left the workforce or took early retirement during the pandemic.

None of this has a silver bullet, meaning no matter how the Dow Jones performs or GDP growth, inflation will be a thorn in Biden’s side for at least another year.

In the same way that “culture cancellation” has become a universal response for any right-wing goober who faces consequences for saying or doing something rude or racist, “critical culture theory” race ”has gone from law schools to a catch-all term for whatever some whites find embarrassing.

In several states, Republican politicians have rushed to ban the teaching of “concepts” associated with critical race theory in classrooms. Parent groups have tried to ban seemingly problematic books like Ruby Bridges Goes to School: My Real Story. Wisconsin lawmakers sought to ban schools from using the words “colonization”, “multiculturalism” and “patriarchy.”

Because the grievance never ends, Culture Warriors have set their sights on school libraries who dare to publish books on race and gender. (Next-gen book burners recently won in North Carolina, where the state’s largest county public library system withdrew the book. Homosexual gender from its shelves.) After that, there will be something else. Outrage is useful, and there will always be a new threat to piss off the base.

Few politicians have pissed off and harnessed rage with more poise than Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, an enthusiastic self-styled boss who not only refused to impose COVID restrictions during the height of the Delta wave this summer, but blocked local governments from doing so, banned private companies from requiring vaccines and threatened to cut funding to schools if districts imposed masks.

At least 63,000 Floridians have died, so DeSantis can boast of the “freedom” of his state.

It has also banned transgender athletes from playing school sports, restricted absentee voting, cracked down on public protests, and asked universities to collect databases on the political views of students and faculty members. More recently, he proposed creating his own paramilitary force and announced legislation allowing people to sue schools or businesses whose diversity policies create a “hostile” environment – pay for racists, if you will.

DeSantis is, of course, considered a top contender for the 2024 Republican nomination if he is re-elected in November.

Vulture capital firm Alden Global acquired Tribune Publishing in May, bringing its slash-and-burn profits to Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel, and other journalism institutions across the country. Whatever bare minimum these papers have scratched at, it will soon be like the glory days.

Evisceration at their base has real effects on the communities they serve. The public is less informed and less involved in local government. The wrongs are not discovered. Corruption flourishes. Democracy is suffering.

Part three is coming next week.

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