February 17

* The top story tonight: What happened at the UAW vote in Chattanooga? Ed Kilgore has long experience with anti-union politics, and here’s his theory:

So addicted are Tennessee Republicans to the “race to the bottom” approach to economic development that they are willing to risk the good will of an existing employer in their zeal to make sure their own people are kept in as submissive a position as possible. President Obama’s reported comment during a Democratic retreat last week that the pols involved in this union-busting effort are “more concerned about German shareholders than American workers” is one way to put it; I’d say they’ve internalized the ancient despicable tendency of the southern aristocracy to favor the abasement of working people as an end in itself.

* On the other side of the equation, Rich Yeselson has long experience as a labor organizer, and he has an interesting take over at Jacobin. It was always going to be a tough vote, and it’s rather impressive in some ways they came as close as they did. Could be the next round will be better.

* Mitch McConnell responds to Ted Cruz on the debt limit, saying basically that it had to be done. On the one hand, Cruz is totally right that top Republicans were trying to have it both ways, by extracting something from Democrats without really being willing to default. On the other hand, voting for the debt-limit increase was a small act of genuine courage from McConnell, who might face some political blowback for it. (On the third hand, man, most Senate Republicans just loathe Ted Cruz.)

* Speaking of intra-Republican discord, that very thing is screwing up Republican 2014 strategy on Obamacare. The law isn’t too popular, but polls consistently show Americans disapprove of repealing it. But egged on by Cruz and his merry band of schmucks, Republicans have forced themselves into a maximalist repeal-or-die posture that really doesn’t make sense on the politics.

* It’s the fifth anniversary of the Recovery Act — the infamous Obama stimulus. Mike Grunwald, who wrote a book on the subject, takes a look back, concluding that while it probably wasn’t big enough, it was really big and had all kinds of stuff in there you’ve probably forgotten about. It’s safe to say that without it, we would have had a full-blown depression. Bill McBride, a fairly straight-laced economic prognosticator, concurs.

* Nice piece from Jared Bernstein about robots and job growth. Could be a real problem, but let’s deal with slack aggregate demand first, see where that gets us and then we can worry about technological unemployment.

* Matt Bruenig slices up Greg Mankiw on inequality and the “deserving rich.” Rentier capitalists don’t make great examples for an argument that rich people receive their marginal product, if you can even measure such a thing for a CEO.

* Amartya Sen has a great lecture on “poverty and the tolerance of the intolerable.”

* Is the p-value overrated as a measure of statistical certainty? Not my wheelhouse, but it’s a solid case as far as I can tell.

* Some guy is attempting to glide from western Nevada to … South Dakota.

* This was me, yesterday.

* Whoa.

Finally, on a personal note, this will be my last post for The Plum Line. I’m really grateful to everyone here for reading and commenting, and especially to El Comandante Sargent himself, who took a big chance on me. You’ll be able to find me at The Week, starting tomorrow. Hope everyone had a good holiday!