Road rage, or maybe ‘road bullying’

Road Rage

I should begin by pointing out that Pittsburgh area drivers are often courteous to each other in ways I saw considerably less often in California, routinely relinquishing right of way to allow someone to complete a left turn, for example, or more readily allowing someone to do a lane change. Traffic backups here can stretch out quite a ways and these are quick courtesies. I’ve benefited from them, I appreciate them, and I’m still working out how to reciprocate them and how not to take them for granted.

Then there are the assholes, for whom the term, “road rage,” seems inaccurate. Last night, I was taking a passenger on a ride that required me to do a right turn off Washington Road. Somebody behind me began honking and tailgating as I signaled—yes, I signaled—and slowed to do the right turn. At the time, traffic was not so bad; this driver could have simply changed lanes if s/he was in such a hurry. But oh no, s/he had to make a fuss. It was the most extraordinary display of road rage I’d seen in, well, quite some time. Even in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I thought people were driving like overpopulated rats.

I strongly suspect, but do not know, that it was this incident on Washington Road that led to an implicitly threatening communication from Lyft last night. And this is what makes me think “road rage” may not be the appropriate term:

Hi David,

I am following up on feedback that we have received from a member of our community regarding your driving safety.

It was reported that you allegedly drove under the required speed limit. As you know, safety is Lyft’s highest priority, so we take reports of this nature extremely seriously. Our drivers are also vital to the platform and we’d like to give you the opportunity to respond to these allegations directly.

Do you recall any such incident occurring as stated? Can you provide any additional details about the ride from your perspective?

Please respond to this email directly if you’d like to provide any additional details or dispute this allegation.

Thanks,

My passenger, who has apparently lived here all his life, commented on such assholes and confirmed that they were especially prevalent on Pennsylvania Route 51, a main road near where I live, and that I rely on heavily.

In California, I heard about and witnessed road rage all the time. It’s a problem I felt was exacerbated by traffic controls were the work of traffic engineers for whom I was convinced these were an expression of rage and of their unique power.

But not only was this driver incensed that I should dare to make a right turn in front of him, he went after my job. He first wanted me not only to miss the turn I needed to make but, presumably, every turn after that until he had turned off and was no longer on my tail—never mind that my passenger had someplace to go. And he was unwilling to even change lanes to get around me. When I refused all this, he called Lyft on me.

It sounds more like bullying.


South Africa

When I see seemingly intractable racial strife, I sometimes wonder if there isn’t a kernel of truth in the paleoconservative claim that people of different races and ethnicities cannot live in harmony and therefore must be segregated, even if only for their own protection. (More radical flavors of paleoconservatism include white supremacism and neo-Nazism.)

As stated, the claim itself is obviously wrong and I remain mystified that paleoconservatives cling to it in the face of so much contrary evidence. But it does seem to be extraordinarily difficult to get past what Elizabeth Minnich called hierarchically invidious monism, a so-called ‘dualistic’ view that always prefers one side, “us,” or men, or whites, or the wealthy, for examples, and therefore, in her view, could not properly be referred to as dualism.[1]

If I’m right, it would not be the race or the ethnicity that is the cause of the strife, but rather the monism itself, with the latter being incredibly damaging to human relations in ways that, in the most optimistic scenario, may take many generations to repair. And I sometimes wonder if it is even possible to repair, that perhaps, once we have gone down that road, we can never come back.

South Africa is clearly a difficult case,[2] but, from what I can see, Nelson Mandela may have erred in confronting only the racism of apartheid, and never, really, the class discrepancies that it embedded.

Max Bearak, “‘Born free,’” Washington Post, May 9, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/world/born-free-generation-in-south-africa/


Australia

Results such as this in Australia[3] will continue to be a “complete shock” as long as we continue to accept polling with a nine percent response rate.[4] (The response rate should be ninety percent.[5])

A. Odysseus Patrick, “‘Complete shock’: Australia’s prime minister holds onto power, defying election predictions,” Washington Post, May 18, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/australia-holds-elections-with-labor-party-looking-to-regain-power/2019/05/17/f661d2ea-7705-11e9-a7bf-c8a43b84ee31_story.html


  1. [1]Elizabeth Kamarck Minnich, Transforming Knowledge, 2nd ed. (Philadelphia: Temple University, 2005).
  2. [2]Max Bearak, “‘Born free,’” Washington Post, May 9, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/world/born-free-generation-in-south-africa/
  3. [3]A. Odysseus Patrick, “‘Complete shock’: Australia’s prime minister holds onto power, defying election predictions,” Washington Post, May 18, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/australia-holds-elections-with-labor-party-looking-to-regain-power/2019/05/17/f661d2ea-7705-11e9-a7bf-c8a43b84ee31_story.html
  4. [4]Steven Shepard, “Report: Phone polls aren’t dead yet,” Politico, May 15, 2017, https://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/15/pollsters-phone-polls-238409
  5. [5]I learned this from Valerie Sue, who labeled herself “quantitative girl,” and who taught the first methods class I took at California State University, Hayward (now East Bay), probably in Fall, 2003, or Spring, 2004.

Texas attitude

I remember the first time I encountered what I’m calling a “Texas attitude.”

I was standing in line at the Sonoma County (in California) Department of Human Services applying for welfare and food stamps. The woman in front of me dropped her glasses.

And then she stared. At me. “If you were from Texas,” she said reprovingly, bending down to pick up her glasses, “you’d pick these up for me.” Astonished, I stumbled out that I was not from Texas and had no interest in being from Texas.

When it was finally my turn, the person behind the counter asked what had happened. I told her and she just replied to the effect that no one wants to be here, that clients have to adapt to the humiliation of being a “client” of the social safety net.

Fast forward to yesterday. I get an order to pick up a lady at a Texas Roadhouse restaurant. I’ve seen a few of these restaurants around here now in the Pittsburgh area. Atop one corner of the building, there is a U.S. flag. Atop another, a Texas flag.

I haven’t even gotten to the order, and she’s on the phone to me explaining almost unintelligibly that she’s at the Texas Roadhouse. So I pick her up and take her towards where she’s going.

I don’t know my way around this area much at all and she’s been silent the entire journey. “Do you even know where you’re going?” she demands.

“Just following the map.”

“I know the map didn’t tell you to go this way.”

I had been in a situation where I needed to make a left turn. Traffic here is every bit as horrible—even worse—than I had imagined when I arrived here. “It is what it is,” people say to each other. There’s no point in getting upset about it because there just isn’t anything anybody can do about it and as someone else explained to me, things the traffic engineers have tried that, get this, actually make sense, actually made it worse. It is what it is.

The only way I could make that left turn was to pull into a lane that turned out to be the wrong one. Now, here in Pittsburgh, usually when I’m in the wrong lane, my passenger will speak up. “This lane becomes a right turn only lane,” they’ll say, or something to that effect, as they tell me to change lanes.

This woman remained silent. Google Maps had shown the turn as a viable alternative route (requiring two more minutes, but this wouldn’t account for the difficulty of getting into the correct lane), so I accepted it as the price of being able to make the turn at all and followed a recalculated route. And sure enough, I got her where she was going.

Now understand, neither of these women had any cause to feel superior to me. The woman in the welfare line was there for more or less the same purposes as me. My passenger yesterday lives in, or at least was going to, a modest townhouse in Mon Valley, a place beset by pollution partly from U.S. Steel.[1] It’s not horrible like I used to see in California but also not a great neighborhood.

But they both had the same tone in their voice, a whine really, a whine expressing resentment that I wasn’t recognizing their non-existent superiority. So I have a message for the state of Texas: If you’re really bigger and better than anyone else, you need to start acting like it.

And yes, I’m remembering George W. Bush. Come to think of it, he has that whine too.


Working Class

Van Badham, “Bob Hawke spoke like us – until him the working class only saw themselves mocked on screen,” Guardian, May 16, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/17/bob-hawke-spoke-like-us-until-him-the-working-class-only-saw-themselves-mocked-on-screen


  1. [1]Jessi Quinn Alperin, “Clairton, PA, wants to be clear: Residents demand accountability from U.S. Steel,” Environmental Health News, May 13, 2019, https://www.ehn.org/clairton-coke-works-air-pollution-2636784943.html

Coming soon: “The Sequel No One Wants To See”

In California, there aren’t many places where graveyards and cemeteries are prominent. The Sierra Nevada foothills, along Highway 49, come to mind. In the San Francisco Bay Area, Colma is notorious for having a vast underground population. There actually is a town there with living residents, but for most people in the Bay Area, it’s that place with all the cemeteries glimpsed from Interstate 280 or just sped on by.

Here in the Pittsburgh area, it’s different. Graveyards and cemeteries are everywhere you look. I was trying to track down an address with my mother over the phone and we were both looking at maps on our computers and wondering why a couple streets didn’t go through that seemed like they should. It turns out there’s a graveyard there, probably associated with one of those grand churches I mentioned in a previous post.

For me, the message is really rather blunt: People died here. We don’t forget them. We don’t hide them from view. Their graves are right in front of us.

It’s really rather poignant. I think I’d have to say that when I lived here as a kid, for just a little over two years, I had relatives who were probably my favorite part of being here; with them, I felt loved and safe in a way I never could with my abusive father at home. They were of my grandparents’ generation and are gone now.

But all these graveyards and cemeteries remind me.


Brexit

One might recall that Parliament demanded meaningful votes (abbreviated in the cartoon below as “MV”). They’ve had three of them now already—and managed to completely derail Brexit. The latest, if you can stand to look, really is captured in Bob Moran’s cartoon. I don’t think, at this point, there’s anything more to be said about it.BOB_160519_trans_NvBQzQNjv4Bqeo
Bob Moran, Telegraph, May 15, 2019, fair use.


Environment

George Monbiot, “Net Curtains,” May 15, 2019, https://www.monbiot.com/2019/05/15/net-curtains/


Those promotional codes Uber has been handing out for its IPO? Only one guess who gets screwed.

There is a new blog entry, entitled “The lesser of two evils? The more successful con artist.


So. I have just found out the hard way that Uber won’t allow me Instant Pay unless my riders, that is, the people they offered promotional codes to, accept orders from, and send me on, have actually paid them. I’ve been driving in Pittsburgh for Uber now for all of four days (Lyft for six because Lyft didn’t require me to resubmit to a background check). And this, already.

Uber says that if I take enough trips—here’s where it really gets rich—and the number of people who’ve paid once again exceeds the number who haven’t, I’ll have access to Instant Pay again.FireShot Capture 058 - I have an issue with my Instant Pay - benfell@disunitedstates.org - D_ - mail.google.comWhen I informed them first that my name is David, not Kenneth, and second, that this is unacceptable, they responded with this:FireShot Capture 059 - I have an issue with my Instant Pay - benfell@disunitedstates.org - D_ - mail.google.com

I should still get the weekly payout. What this means is that I can’t get paid instantly up to five times a day.

But Uber has this backwards. In an exchange system, there’s supposed to be exchange. And in the gig economy, relationships are explicitly transactional. Uber’s cash flow is not my problem, except that they’ve made it my problem. And they clearly have much more money available than I do.

No pay, no work. Lyft seems to treat me better here anyway.


Donald Trump

Susan Glasser expresses skepticism that Donald Trump’s stonewalling of Congressional investigations is really a constitutional crisis. She thinks it could easily become one, however.[1]

The fact is, we’re playing word games here. The term “constitutional crisis” isn’t any better defined than “high crimes and misdemeanors.” These terms mean what politicians and pundits want them to mean, and not much else.

Susan B. Glasser, “Is This the Official Trump Constitutional Crisis?” New Yorker, May 9, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-trumps-washington/is-this-the-official-trump-constitutional-crisis

David A. Fahrenthold and Jonathan O’Connell, “Trump’s prized Doral resort is in steep decline, according to company documents, showing his business problems are mounting,” Washington Post, May 15, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trumps-prized-doral-resort-is-in-steep-decline-according-to-company-documents-showing-his-business-problems-are-mounting/2019/05/14/03cc701a-6b54-11e9-be3a-33217240a539_story.html

Anna Palmer, Jake Sherman, and Daniel Lippman, “How would you explain the Democratic investigations to a Washington outsider?” Politico, May 15, 2019, https://www.politico.com/newsletters/playbook/2019/05/15/how-would-you-explain-the-democratic-investigations-to-a-washington-outsider-436677


Pacific Gas and Electric

That Pacific Gas and Electric would be found culpable for the Camp fire in November last year[2] was pretty much expected.

Joseph Serna and Taryn Luna, “PG&E power lines caused California’s deadliest fire, investigators conclude,” Los Angeles Times, May 15, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-paradise-camp-fire-cal-fire-20190515-story.html


  1. [1]Susan B. Glasser, “Is This the Official Trump Constitutional Crisis?” New Yorker, May 9, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-trumps-washington/is-this-the-official-trump-constitutional-crisis
  2. [2]Joseph Serna and Taryn Luna, “PG&E power lines caused California’s deadliest fire, investigators conclude,” Los Angeles Times, May 15, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-paradise-camp-fire-cal-fire-20190515-story.html

Sex strike! (Well, maybe not.)

Sex Strike

Natasha Frost, “Should women go on a sex strike over Republican abortion laws? Feminists are divided,” Quartz, May 12, 2019, https://qz.com/1617531/feminists-disagree-on-alyssa-milanos-sex-strike-over-abortion-laws/


Donald Trump

Marc Fisher, “A riddle in New England: A casino, 321 acres of Indian tribal land and a presidential tweet,” Washington Post, May 13, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/a-riddle-in-new-england-a-casino-321-acres-of-indian-tribal-land-and-a-presidential-tweet/2019/05/13/dfcc6dd8-7354-11e9-9f06-5fc2ee80027a_story.html


Fast Food

Kate Taylor, “Evidence is mounting that fast-food chains from Chick-fil-A to McDonald’s will be forced to add vegan menu items — or face the consequences,” Business Insider, May 13, 2019, https://amp.businessinsider.com/vegan-items-sweep-fast-food-chick-fil-a-mcdonalds-eye-options-2019-5


Uprisings

The researchers appear to have pitted non-violence against violence and compared the historical results.[1]

But the reality of uprisings is more nuanced: Few are purely one or the other. Edward Said criticized the emphasis on Mahatma Gandhi in expelling the British from India by pointing out that he arrived at the end of a centuries-long struggle and arguing that such a focus actually enables colonizers to treat examples such as Gandhi as exceptions and thereby to obscure a resistance that included both violent and non-violent factions.[2]

There are a number of possible explanations for the relationship between social change and 1) violence and 2) non-violence. But a reductive approach necessarily elides important factors.

David Robson, “The ‘3.5% rule’: How a small minority can change the world,” British Broadcasting Corporation, May 14, 2019, http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20190513-it-only-takes-35-of-people-to-change-the-world


  1. [1]David Robson, “The ‘3.5% rule’: How a small minority can change the world,” British Broadcasting Corporation, May 14, 2019, http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20190513-it-only-takes-35-of-people-to-change-the-world
  2. [2]Edward W. Said, Culture and imperialism (New York: Vintage, 1994).

‘Greek’ death to die

‘Greek’ death

At Swarthmore College, so-called “Greek Life,” the extension of high school level demands for conformity and misogyny,[1] celebrated with drunkenness and violence, including manslaughter and rape, will come to an end.[2] Good riddance.

Zipporah Osei, “After Protests, Swarthmore Will End All Greek Life on Campus,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 10, 2019, https://www.chronicle.com/article/After-Protests-Swarthmore/246279


China

Yet again, the self-proclaimed master negotiator (“trade wars are easy to win”) demonstrates his incompetence. But the Chinese haven’t been doing much better.[3]

Thomas Heath, “U.S. stocks suffer big across-the-board losses as trade war escalates,” Washington Post, May 13, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/05/13/dow-plunges-points-market-open-investors-fear-escalating-trade-war-threatens-economy/

Joe McDonald, “China announces tariff hikes on $60 billion in US goods in retaliation for Trump penalties,” Boston Globe, May 13, 2019, https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2019/05/13/companies-bracing-for-china-retaliation-tariffs-dispute/uNsoHVoEHyqa2FHtNpVxHI/story.html

Akane Otani, “Stocks Post Their Worst Day in Months on Trade Anxiety,” Wall Street Journal, May 13, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/global-stocks-stumble-on-renewed-trade-anxiety-11557734434

Lingling Wei et al., “Frustration, Miscalculation: Inside the U.S.-China Trade Impasse,” Wall Street Journal, May 13, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/frustration-miscalculation-inside-the-u-s-china-trade-impasse-11557692301


Russia

James Marson and Thomas Grove, “Moscow’s reputation for subterfuge surfaces in waters off Norway,” Wall Street Journal, May 11, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/is-that-whale-a-russian-agent-the-beluga-wont-tell-11557576036


Julian Assange

Dominic Chopping and Jason Douglas, “Sweden Reopens Julian Assange Rape Investigation,” Wall Street Journal, May 13, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/sweden-reopens-julian-assange-rape-investigation-11557739279


Ritual

Terry Bookman, “Reveal Parties: What Do They Really Reveal?” Tikkun, May 10, 2019, https://www.tikkun.org/reveal-parties-what-do-they-really-reveal


Pittsburgh

Clairton turns out not to be very far from where I live—I drove through it a couple times yesterday. It was a rainy day, so the smell of sulfur dioxide wasn’t strong, but it was present.

Jessi Quinn Alperin, “Clairton, PA, wants to be clear: Residents demand accountability from U.S. Steel,” Environmental Health News, May 13, 2019, https://www.ehn.org/clairton-coke-works-air-pollution-2636784943.html


Binyamin Netanyahu

Donald Trump is surely jealous.

Raoul Wootliff, “Netanyahu said to plan bill to override High Court, safeguard his immunity,” Times of Israel, May 13, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-said-to-plan-bill-to-override-high-court-safeguard-his-immunity/


  1. [1]C. J. Pascoe, Dude, You’re a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School (Berkeley: University of California, 2007).
  2. [2]Zipporah Osei, “After Protests, Swarthmore Will End All Greek Life on Campus,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 10, 2019, https://www.chronicle.com/article/After-Protests-Swarthmore/246279
  3. [3]Lingling Wei et al., “Frustration, Miscalculation: Inside the U.S.-China Trade Impasse,” Wall Street Journal, May 13, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/frustration-miscalculation-inside-the-u-s-china-trade-impasse-11557692301

Nothing new here: Donald Trump is an idiot

Updates

  1. Originally published, May 11, 9:47 pm.
  2. May 12, 8:40 am:
    • Jim Dennis (@AnswrGuy) responded to the below on Donald Trump. His point is largely correct but I explore it and I think the exploration is important.
  3. May 12, 9:05 am:

The less-awful news is that Lyft didn’t require a background check for moving to Pennsylvania. There were some pesky details, but as of yesterday, I’m driving for Lyft in the Pittsburgh area.

I’m noticing the earnings are not as high as in California, probably mostly because so few of the trips involve freeway miles. Other factors that might be involved are that I’m driving earlier and quitting earlier here than I did in California, it is a different area and I haven’t adjusted to the cultural patterns here yet, I’m presently driving for Lyft rather than Uber (Uber hasn’t completed my background check yet and even in California, I made more with Uber than I did with Lyft), and, of course, Lyft might (and I would expect probably does) pay a little less here than in Marin County, California, where I focused when I was there.

On the other hand, I’m driving fewer miles, at least so far. When I’m ready to go to work, I just go up to my car, go on line, and sit for a few minutes. An order, so far, has always arrived within a few minutes.

In the category of are you fucking kidding me?

But I stopped at home for lunch and a neighbor had a BB gun out with his kids. (Last I saw, the kids had gotten bored and wandered off.) It looks enough like a real gun that maybe—only maybe—the idiot will manage to get himself shot by the police. This is less likely since he and his kids are all white. In the meantime, I’m hoping he doesn’t manage to shoot one of my windows.IMG_20190511_162311No marksmanship here: At left is his target. But he’s so cool, lying prone, shooting a BB gun.


Donald Trump

Those inclined to view Donald Trump as the mastermind of some sort of diabolical threat would do well to read Anna Phillips’ article. The Trump administration is in such a hurry to roll back environmental (and other) regulation that it’s not following the required procedures for doing so. Which invites successful court challenges, notably from California.[1] Which just ain’t terribly bright.

Stupider, my guess is that the Trump administration is counting on being able to appeal these losses to the Supreme Court. My second guess is that the Supreme Court will, at some point, just stop accepting these cases, letting lower court rulings stand.

In a way, that’s bad news: Supreme Court rulings slapping the Trump administration down will have greater impact. But this is really basic shit. We’re talking Regulation 101 level stuff.

Update:

(Re-reading this after the Twitter post, I should have put scare quotes around ‘reformed’ in the above. As I was composing this, I was actually thinking of Traditionalist Conservatives, who in ‘reforming’ (still in scare quotes), have moved towards leaving racism, but not misogyny, behind.)

Anna M. Phillips, “In Trump vs. California, the state is winning nearly all its environmental cases,” Los Angeles Times, May 7, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-california-trump-environmental-lawsuits-20190507-story.html


Uber

The Uber initial public offering (IPO) is a flop. I suggest reading the article by Faiz Siddiqui and Greg Bensinger anyway. We’re seeing the differences between venture capital, as enamored with anything high tech, and Wall Street, as somewhat less enamored with indefinite losses.[2] But also read the article by Dan Primack: There were other factors involved as well.[3]

Faiz Siddiqui and Greg Bensinger, “Uber’s first day of trading ended deep in the red over gig-economy fears,” Washington Post, May 10, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/05/10/uber-ipo/

Dan Primack, “Uber’s IPO got caught in a perfect storm,” Axios, May 11, 2019, https://www.axios.com/ubers-ipo-perfect-storm-2a75a55a-adec-496b-bc23-02d99d02920f.html


  1. [1]Anna M. Phillips, “In Trump vs. California, the state is winning nearly all its environmental cases,” Los Angeles Times, May 7, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-california-trump-environmental-lawsuits-20190507-story.html
  2. [2]Faiz Siddiqui and Greg Bensinger, “Uber’s first day of trading ended deep in the red over gig-economy fears,” Washington Post, May 10, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/05/10/uber-ipo/
  3. [3]Dan Primack, “Uber’s IPO got caught in a perfect storm,” Axios, May 11, 2019, https://www.axios.com/ubers-ipo-perfect-storm-2a75a55a-adec-496b-bc23-02d99d02920f.html

Donald Trump defiant

Donald Trump

I apologize if I have mangled the order of some of these tweets. I’m not seeing a clear way beyond context to figure out what happened in what order here. That approach has some rather severe limitations. By the way, according to his profile, Adam Gentleson is Harry Reid’s former deputy chief of staff:

I was referring to this tweet:

To resume the thread:

Rachael Bade, “White House asserts executive privilege over Mueller report in latest confrontation with Congress,” Washington Post, May 7, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/barr-to-trump-invoke-executive-privileged-over-redacted-mueller-materials/2019/05/07/51c52600-713e-11e9-b5ca-3d72a9fa8ff1_story.html

Rachael Bade, Carol D. Leonnig, and Matt Zapotosky, “House panel votes to hold Barr in contempt; Trump asserts executive privilege over Mueller report,” Washington Post, May 8, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/barr-to-trump-invoke-executive-privileged-over-redacted-mueller-materials/2019/05/07/51c52600-713e-11e9-b5ca-3d72a9fa8ff1_story.html

Russell Berman, “The Rarely Used Congressional Power That Could Force William Barr’s Hand,” Atlantic, May 8, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/05/house-democrats-could-arrest-william-barr-contempt/588976/

Walter Shapiro, “The Worst Businessman in America,” New Republic, May 8, 2019, https://newrepublic.com/article/153855/trump-tax-returns-worst-businessman-america


Duquesne finally sees the light (but for how long?)

So, I received a phone call from a very meek lady (probably afraid I’d chew her out) at Duquesne Light. But the electric service is finally in my name. The fourth attempt at sending my drivers license, accompanied by a note refusing responsibility for their vision problems, another note through their complaint page explaining to them that I knew they were lying to me (I have crystal clear fax verification copies and the crystal clear images I sent via email), and finally, an informal complaint to the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission finally got the message through to them that they need to stop fucking with me.

After eighteen years of being absolutely refused gainful employment, my patience with neoliberal or neoliberal-style bullshit is blown not merely sky high but to somewhere in a galaxy far, far away. I’m simply not putting up with it.


I’ve mentioned previously that the Whole Foods Markets in this area are dismal, lacking much of the selection I’m accustomed to in California. This morning, in despair, I found Fresh Thyme Farmer’s Market. Despite the name, it’s a supermarket. It fills probably enough, not all, but probably enough, of the gaps. And it’s a lot closer than Whole Foods, which I’ll still have to go to for some things.

I was seriously wondering how I was going to eat. It is simply astonishing to walk into a Whole Foods and not find fresh juice or a bunch of vegan products I’m used to being able to find. Seriously, the Whole Foods people need to take a serious look at what’s going on here; there is simply no excuse for this discrepancy nowadays.


One thing I’ve wondered about as I moved from California, where it mostly isn’t a problem, first and abortively to western Massachusetts, now to the Pittsburgh area is rust. Salt is good for melting ice on roads, which is a problem in winter around here. It isn’t very good for the environment: That salt has to go somewhere and salination of soil and freshwater is a problem. It also isn’t very good for cars. Ionized sodium chloride, in water (remember, we’re melting ice here), produces acids that corrode automobile bodies.

I hadn’t seen a lot of rust damage until I moved in here to Baldwin. But some, not all, cars here suffer from it severely.

I have found a car wash place with a monthly plan for exterior washes. I can use this daily. It’s nowhere near as good as what I had with Matt and Jeff’s in Novato, where I was on a monthly plan that included interior vacuuming and a wipe-down of the exterior.

Here, I pay $15 extra each time I want them to vacuum and spray stuff on the interior—as an Uber/Lyft driver, this will amount to considerably more than I was paying at Matt and Jeff’s. And they don’t do headlights or hand waxes. But I’m hoping it will be sufficient to avoid rust damage.


My mother snuck in some kitchen implements—I think she bought them new—before I left that I didn’t know about. They’re coming in handy about now. Thanks, Mom!


There is a new blog post, entitled, “About Brexit.”


Marijuana

Carol Ryan, “Wall Street Chokes on Cannabis Bank Bill,” Wall Street Journal, May 7, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/wall-street-chokes-on-cannabis-bank-bill-11557218712


Ridesharing

Julie Jargon, “Uber Says No Kids—These Other Car Services Say Yes,” Wall Street Journal, May 7, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-says-no-kidsthese-other-car-services-say-yes-11557221402


Donald Trump hints at refusing to give up presidency

Updates

  1. Originally published, May 6, 7:02 pm.
  2. May 6, 8:11 pm:
    • The Washington Post has a story confirming details I wrote below on Donald Trump hinting at refusing to give up the presidency should he lose the election in 2020. The story also consults legal experts.[1]
  3. May 6, 10:52 pm:
    • Elizabeth de la Vega has an interesting take on the problem I and many others have pointed to about impeaching Donald Trump. I’ve added her tweet under Donald Trump.

I’m feeling strain every time I go anywhere, even to a fucking Whole Foods Market (the nearest is in Upper Saint Clair, out past Mt. Lebanon). I sorta kinda knew my way around Dormont and Mt. Lebanon once upon a time, but I’m living in Baldwin which is just far enough away that there’s really very little in common. There’s nothing like a grid system here. You take a wrong turn and there’s a strong possibility you’re going for a ride.

And, as I’ve previously noted, here and here, a lot of these intersections are confusing or obscured as you approach them. I have no choice but to rely on Google Maps for even short trips. The concentration required is wearying.

And I’m going to need to do this for Uber and Lyft because the job hunt here looks every bit as ridiculous as the one I left behind.

But the weather is nice today, after being cold (requiring I close the windows) and rainy yesterday. Scattered showers are due back tomorrow.


Uber

It is awfully curious how the Wall Street Journal headline claims that it is the drivers who are “harder to please” when it is in fact Uber and Lyft that have been cutting our pay.[2] That sounds like Uber and Lyft getting “harder to please,” not the drivers.

Christopher Mims, “In a Tight Labor Market, Gig Workers Get Harder to Please,” Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-a-tight-labor-market-gig-workers-get-harder-to-please-11556942404


Donald Trump

Donald Trump is doing nothing to set minds at ease about Will Bunch’s fears.[3] He apparently retweeted this:[4]

And wrote this:[5]

Laurence Tribe is alarmed:

Chris Cillizza joins the fray, pointing out all the times Trump has complained that elections are “rigged,” not against states like California and New York which suffer from electoral college arithmetic, but against Republicans.[6] And there’s many more.[7]

So some people, including no less than Nancy Pelosi, whose concern Cillizza specifically defends, are worried now. Some people take the threat seriously. But the very reason the threat needs to be taken seriously, specifically that Donald Trump flouts anything remotely resembling political convention,[8] is the very reason it is impossible to know how this actually plays out.

There would, of course, be pushback. There would, of course, be lawsuits. But I have no idea how it all actually would play out in the end—and because of the number of variables involved, I’m inclined to say that anyone who claims to know is full of shit. Some stuff you just can’t game out.

As to impeachment, Elizabeth de la Vega has a suggestion:

Which is certainly interesting.

Chris Cillizza, “What happens if Donald Trump refuses to admit he lost in 2020?” CNN, May 6, 2019, https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2019/05/06/politics/donald-trump-2020-election/index.html

Damian Paletta, “Mnuchin rejects Democrats’ demand to hand over Trump’s tax returns, all but ensuring legal battle,” Washington Post, May 6, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/mnuchin-rejects-democrats-demand-to-hand-over-trumps-tax-returns-all-but-ensuring-legal-battle/2019/05/06/5483f8ac-7022-11e9-9eb4-0828f5389013_story.html

Isaac Stanley-Becker, “Claiming two years of his presidency were ‘stolen,’ Trump suggests he’s owed overtime,” Washington Post, May 6, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/05/06/claiming-two-years-his-presidency-were-stolen-trump-suggests-hes-owed-overtime/

Matt Zapotosky, “Trump would have been charged with obstruction were he not president, hundreds of former federal prosecutors assert,” Washington Post, May 6, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-would-have-been-charged-with-obstruction-were-he-not-president-hundreds-of-former-federal-prosecutors-assert/2019/05/06/e4946a1a-7006-11e9-9f06-5fc2ee80027a_story.html


Brexit

Sam Coates and Kate Devlin, “Don’t cave in to Labour on Brexit, Tories tell Theresa May,” Times, May 6, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/dont-cave-in-to-labour-on-brexit-tories-tell-theresa-may-0t6rqstxt


Democrats. Absolutely stupid fucking worthless goddamn Democrats.

Elaine Godfrey, “The Democratic Party Just Ticked Off Its Youngest Organizers,” Atlantic, May 6, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/05/college-democrats-protest-new-dccc-vendor-policy/588715/


Venezuela

I’ve held my tongue on Venezuela. I don’t know who is right in the contest between Juan Guaidó, who has been refusing to recognize an allegedly rigged election result, and Nicolás Maduro, who claimed victory in that allegedly rigged election and currently holds the presidency.

My problem, frankly, is the same one I have in North Korea: Frankly, I’ve seen way too much demonization of Maduro, as I did of his predecessor Hugo Chávez, and I can’t help but suspect that the demonization comes at least partly from an ideological source. We demonized the Soviets and we continue to demonize Iranians this way, too.

On the other side, it’s previously been clear to me that some on the Left have simply adopted a view that since the United States is evil, which it is, then anyone who opposes the U.S. must be a saint. I’ve seen this with Iran and the Russian intervention in Ukraine. For such people, it is inconceivable that evil people might oppose each other.

So I don’t know. And I’ve been extremely uncomfortable adopting a position opposing the Venezuelan government (any more than I oppose all powerful people on anarchist general principle) on events in Venezuela since Chávez embarrassed the George W. Bush administration by subsidizing heating oil for the poor in the U.S. northeast. I thought Chávez deserved a lot of credit for doing that and I have also noticed an increase in his demonization since about that time. But heating oil for the poor in the U.S. says nothing about the situation in Venezuela, and certainly it says even less now, so I’m just keeping my mouth shut.

What I will say is that any U.S. intervention on any side in this is likely to be unwelcome to many in Venezuela. And Twitter is being awfully arrogant if the company thinks it understands the situation in Venezuela any better than I do.

Ellery Roberts Biddle, “Private: Why is Twitter blocking state accounts in Venezuela?” Global Voices, May 3, 2019, https://globalvoices.org/2019/05/03/why-is-twitter-blocking-state-accounts-in-venezuela/


  1. [1]Isaac Stanley-Becker, “Claiming two years of his presidency were ‘stolen,’ Trump suggests he’s owed overtime,” Washington Post, May 6, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/05/06/claiming-two-years-his-presidency-were-stolen-trump-suggests-hes-owed-overtime/
  2. [2]Christopher Mims, “In a Tight Labor Market, Gig Workers Get Harder to Please,” Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-a-tight-labor-market-gig-workers-get-harder-to-please-11556942404
  3. [3]Will Bunch, “Trump’s diabolical plan to blow up democracy, get reelected and avoid jail just might work,” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 5, 2019, https://www.philly.com/opinion/commentary/trump-wants-impeachment-2020-reelection-strategy-blame-democrats-ignore-subpoenas-20190505.html
  4. [4]Isaac Stanley-Becker, “Claiming two years of his presidency were ‘stolen,’ Trump suggests he’s owed overtime,” Washington Post, May 6, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/05/06/claiming-two-years-his-presidency-were-stolen-trump-suggests-hes-owed-overtime/
  5. [5]Isaac Stanley-Becker, “Claiming two years of his presidency were ‘stolen,’ Trump suggests he’s owed overtime,” Washington Post, May 6, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/05/06/claiming-two-years-his-presidency-were-stolen-trump-suggests-hes-owed-overtime/
  6. [6]Chris Cillizza, “What happens if Donald Trump refuses to admit he lost in 2020?” CNN, May 6, 2019, https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2019/05/06/politics/donald-trump-2020-election/index.html
  7. [7]Isaac Stanley-Becker, “Claiming two years of his presidency were ‘stolen,’ Trump suggests he’s owed overtime,” Washington Post, May 6, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/05/06/claiming-two-years-his-presidency-were-stolen-trump-suggests-hes-owed-overtime/
  8. [8]Will Bunch, “Trump’s diabolical plan to blow up democracy, get reelected and avoid jail just might work,” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 5, 2019, https://www.philly.com/opinion/commentary/trump-wants-impeachment-2020-reelection-strategy-blame-democrats-ignore-subpoenas-20190505.html; Chris Cillizza, “What happens if Donald Trump refuses to admit he lost in 2020?” CNN, May 6, 2019, https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2019/05/06/politics/donald-trump-2020-election/index.html; Isaac Stanley-Becker, “Claiming two years of his presidency were ‘stolen,’ Trump suggests he’s owed overtime,” Washington Post, May 6, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/05/06/claiming-two-years-his-presidency-were-stolen-trump-suggests-hes-owed-overtime/