Hard Brexiteers twist and turn, but whose neck is in the noose?

Updates

  1. Originally published, January 29, 2:42 am.
  2. Added discussion of my experience driving with Uber and Lyft, January 29, 5:42 am.
  3. January 29, 7:52 pm:
    • Pacific Gas and Electric’s bankruptcy is likely to be extraordinarily expensive while yielding little relief from the wildfire-related liabilities it faces.[1]
    • Parliament has voted against a hard Brexit, but 1) the vote is non-binding (as was the original referendum), and 2) the premise that Theresa May will be able to renegotiate the backstop continues to appear impossible.[2]
  4. January 30, 12:56 am:
    • Added a New Yorker cartoon. I didn’t see who the artist might be.
    • The Wall Street Journal article[3] noted above (January 29, 7:52 pm) apparently isn’t reassuring very many people.[4] I’m perplexed: Both sides in this seem legally informed to me. Perhaps I’m wrong about that.
  5. January 30, 8:20 pm:
    • Kevin McCarthy has drawn suspicion for delays in appointing Republican members to the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee. With the delay, he has delayed the hand over of transcripts to Robert Mueller,[5] who is widely thought to be nearing completion of his investigation. Given that Donald Trump has blown his opportunity to fire Mueller,[6] I’m not actually seeing Mueller’s limits here: Can he not extend his investigation as long as necessary? (James Comey)
    • Epistemologically, conservatives are an interesting case, often tending to prefer almost anything, be it ideology or a notion of how things ought to be to empirical information about how things actually are.[7] It’s harder to know with authoritarian populists, as Donald Trump demonstrates yet again.[8]
  6. January 30, 11:21 pm:
    • I’m all in favor of sticking it to Pacific Gas and Electric over the California wildfires, and probably just on general principle, but William Alsup, the judge in PG&E’s criminal conviction and subsequent probation for the San Bruno gas line explosion seems to go a little overboard as he criticizes both the company and the California Public Utilities Commission for their handling of fire safety.[9]
    • At least for this issue, it seems the New Yorker is on a roll. Another of their cartoons added.
  7. January 31, 11:38 pm:
    • So I’ve been leaving this, um, conflict, ahem, between Donald Trump and the intelligence community—The Deep State—to simmer for a while. The spitballs, even when thrown in public, just don’t impress me much. But now, in the wake of Senate testimony given by intelligence agency heads, Trump is discovering that there are limits to his support even in the Republican-controlled Senate.[10] I was wondering a bit, not very much, what was happening with neoconservatives who opposed Trump. Now, it seems like when the Republican neoconservatives can get a few of their Democratic neoconservative colleagues to join in, well, it’s just a bit reminiscent of old days. (You may ask me if this is a good or bad thing; just don’t ask me if this is a good or bad thing relative to the present good or bad thing. There! Did I just answer the question I’d have let you ask without you even having to ask it?)

When I say I’m a BA-A-AD vegan, this is what I mean:NewYorker
via the New Yorker, fair use (I hope).

Well, that, and a few other things.


I generally think music—including that crap I’m inclined not to count as ‘music’—is one of the ways that generations create their own identities. Just as rock and roll irritated earlier generations, rap and hip hop irritate me. But then there are my less charitable moments. The gist of which an unknown cartoonist for the New Yorker has captured well:DC013019
Sadly, many folks around where I live will fail to appreciate the noises that a radiator makes when it heats a room. They’re pretty discordant and often startling.


One of the things that really sucks about driving for work is that people who don’t actually have to do your job get to make decisions about how you’ll do it. So, for example, Uber and Lyft simply relay orders for riders to be picked up where it is illegal, unsafe, or otherwise problematic to pick up. Except, that is, with Uber’s Express Pool service, where Uber sets the illegal, unsafe, or otherwise problematic pick up locations just to make riders walk to them (to save money and, supposedly, but not really, time).

San Francisco blames Uber and Lyft for its traffic problems,[11] allegedly targets drivers for additional enforcement,[12] then uses the results of this alleged targeting to justify blaming Uber and Lyft,[13] expects drivers to pony up for a business license (to my knowledge, no other city in California does this), and then, after picking drivers’ pockets every way it can, demands to know if drivers are making a minimum wage[14] (we generally do not[15]). Nobody makes any effort to make our jobs legally easier, we have no control over pickup locations, and we’re just sitting ducks.

There are places I avoid picking up. I go off line to avoid pickups in San Francisco because one $300 ticket (for picking up in a bus stop where there really was no alternative pickup location available) for a $5 fare is enough, thank you very much; and in Sonoma County, where the business seems disproportionately about drunks who drink to get drunk and conflate such drinking with sociability (and no, this has little to do with the growing winery or microbrew industries). But even so, I still occasionally encounter cops who only care about the law, not about the practicalities of some poor schmuck trying to make a living. In their honor, I present the latest Existential Comics strip:socratesTheCop1
socratesTheCop2

The philosopher-cop is Socrates. I didn’t study a lot of philosophy in my academic career but whoever it is that draws this strip is brilliant.


Brexit

Boris Johnson imagines that the European Union will grant Britain an out from the backstop.[16] It won’t[17] and everything else is a sideshow that can, at best, only delay the inevitable. So fasten your seat belts and hold on tight: The powers that be have apparently agreed there will be no second referendum. That means a hard Brexit.

Joe Watts, “Brexit: Theresa May’s renegotiation hopes dealt blow as Ireland says backstop ‘isn’t going to change,’” Independent, January 27, 2019, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-backstop-theresa-may-ireland-border-simon-coveney-deal-vote-parliament-commons-a8749076.html

Peter Foster, “What is the Brexit backstop, and why is the Irish border so important to the deal?” Telegraph, January 28, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/0/brexit-backstop-irish-border-important-deal/

James Rothwell, “The Brexit ‘Freedom Clause’ – key questions answered,” Telegraph, January 28, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/01/28/brexit-freedom-clause-key-questions-answered/

William Booth, Karla Adam, and Michael Birnbaum, “Parliament asserts that Britain shouldn’t leave E.U. without a deal, sends Theresa May back to Brussels,” Washington Post, January 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/brexit-theresa-may-tells-a-divided-parliament-she-wants-to-reopen-talks-with-eu/2019/01/29/66ebca3a-1fe9-11e9-a759-2b8541bbbe20_story.html


Pacific Gas and Electric

Oh gawd. Yet more “[w]e are fully committed”[18] crap. Somebody really needs to explain to Pacific Gas and Electric’s public relations folks that they have completely and totally annihilated the credibility of that phrase through extreme overuse.

Seriously, when it seems virtually every public statement you issue contains those words, it all adds up to an acknowledgment of numerous commitments that, since you’re constantly having to talk about them, obviously have gone unfulfilled.

Peg Brickley and Andrew Scurria, “As PG&E Enters Bankruptcy, Professionals Flock to Potential Fee Bonanza,” Wall Street Journal, January 29, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/as-pg-e-prepares-for-bankruptcy-professionals-flock-to-potential-fee-bonanza-11548715723

Subrat Patnaik, “PG&E, owner of biggest U.S. power utility, files for bankruptcy,” Reuters, January 29, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pg-e-us-bankruptcy-idUSKCN1PN0PX

Dale Kasler, “‘Safety is not your No. 1 thing.’ Judge rips PG&E over California wildfires,” Sacramento Bee, January 30, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/business/article225289445.html


James Comey

Mike Memoli, Ken Dilanian, and Alex Moe, “GOP delay in naming House Intelligence Committee members may have cost Mueller,” NBC News, January 30, 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/gop-delay-naming-house-intelligence-committee-members-may-have-cost-n964781


Donald Trump

Shane Harris and John Wagner, “In latest attack on intelligence agencies, Trump ignores where they actually agree,” Washington Post, January 30, 2019, https://parts-unknown.org/drupal7/comment/18412#comment-18412


The Deep State

Karoun Demirjian, “Senate rebukes Trump’s plan to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria, Afghanistan,” Washington Post, January 31, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/senate-backs-mcconnells-rebuke-of-trumps-military-drawdown-plans-in-syria-afghanistan/2019/01/31/5812d058-2584-11e9-90cd-dedb0c92dc17_story.html


  1. [1]Peg Brickley and Andrew Scurria, “As PG&E Enters Bankruptcy, Professionals Flock to Potential Fee Bonanza,” Wall Street Journal, January 29, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/as-pg-e-prepares-for-bankruptcy-professionals-flock-to-potential-fee-bonanza-11548715723
  2. [2]William Booth, Karla Adam, and Michael Birnbaum, “Parliament asserts that Britain shouldn’t leave E.U. without a deal, sends Theresa May back to Brussels,” Washington Post, January 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/brexit-theresa-may-tells-a-divided-parliament-she-wants-to-reopen-talks-with-eu/2019/01/29/66ebca3a-1fe9-11e9-a759-2b8541bbbe20_story.html
  3. [3]Peg Brickley and Andrew Scurria, “As PG&E Enters Bankruptcy, Professionals Flock to Potential Fee Bonanza,” Wall Street Journal, January 29, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/as-pg-e-prepares-for-bankruptcy-professionals-flock-to-potential-fee-bonanza-11548715723
  4. [4]Dale Kasler and Tony Bizjak, “‘We have been shorted.’ Why wildfire survivors are furious about PG&E’s bankruptcy filing,” Sacramento Bee, January 29, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/article225246820.html
  5. [5]Mike Memoli, Ken Dilanian, and Alex Moe, “GOP delay in naming House Intelligence Committee members may have cost Mueller,” NBC News, January 30, 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/gop-delay-naming-house-intelligence-committee-members-may-have-cost-n964781
  6. [6]Aaron Blake, “Trump backers just had their anti-Mueller hopes and dreams dashed,” Washington Post, December 18, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/12/18/trump-backers-just-had-their-anti-mueller-hopes-dreams-dashed/; Paul Waldman, “Trump’s battle to destroy the Mueller investigation is officially doomed,” Washington Post, November 16, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2018/11/16/trumps-battle-to-destroy-the-mueller-investigation-is-officially-doomed/; Benjamin Wittes, “It’s Probably Too Late to Stop Mueller,” Atlantic, November 9, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/11/10-reasons-whitaker-might-not-foil-mueller/575467/
  7. [7]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  8. [8]Shane Harris and John Wagner, “In latest attack on intelligence agencies, Trump ignores where they actually agree,” Washington Post, January 30, 2019, https://parts-unknown.org/drupal7/comment/18412#comment-18412
  9. [9]Dale Kasler, “‘Safety is not your No. 1 thing.’ Judge rips PG&E over California wildfires,” Sacramento Bee, January 30, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/business/article225289445.html
  10. [10]Karoun Demirjian, “Senate rebukes Trump’s plan to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria, Afghanistan,” Washington Post, January 31, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/senate-backs-mcconnells-rebuke-of-trumps-military-drawdown-plans-in-syria-afghanistan/2019/01/31/5812d058-2584-11e9-90cd-dedb0c92dc17_story.html
  11. [11]Katie Dowd, “Why is San Francisco traffic so bad? Uber and Lyft are to blame, says city,” SFGate, December 13, 2016, http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/San-Francisco-traffic-Uber-Lyft-SFMTA-blame-10791265.php
  12. [12]One of my passengers informed me that she worked for San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency and that the agency had a team assigned to target Uber and Lyft drivers.
  13. [13]Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, “SFPD: Uber, Lyft account for two-thirds of congestion-related traffic violations downtown,” San Francisco Examiner, September 25, 2017, http://www.sfexaminer.com/sfpd-uber-lyft-account-two-thirds-congestion-related-traffic-violations-downtown/
  14. [14]City Attorney of San Francisco, “Herrera investigates Uber, Lyft over driver pay and benefits,” PR Newswire, May 29, 2018, https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/herrera-investigates-uber-lyft-over-driver-pay-and-benefits-300655892.html
  15. [15]Cyrus Farivar, “What’s Uber and Lyft drivers’ median hourly wage? $10 or lower, report finds,” Ars Tehnica, March 6, 2018, https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2018/03/whats-uber-and-lyft-drivers-median-hourly-wage-under-4-report-finds/
  16. [16]James Rothwell, “The Brexit ‘Freedom Clause’ – key questions answered,” Telegraph, January 28, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/01/28/brexit-freedom-clause-key-questions-answered/
  17. [17]Peter Foster, “What is the Brexit backstop, and why is the Irish border so important to the deal?” Telegraph, January 28, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/0/brexit-backstop-irish-border-important-deal/; Joe Watts, “Brexit: Theresa May’s renegotiation hopes dealt blow as Ireland says backstop ‘isn’t going to change,’” Independent, January 27, 2019, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-backstop-theresa-may-ireland-border-simon-coveney-deal-vote-parliament-commons-a8749076.html
  18. [18]John Simon, quoted in Subrat Patnaik, “PG&E, owner of biggest U.S. power utility, files for bankruptcy,” Reuters, January 29, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pg-e-us-bankruptcy-idUSKCN1PN0PX

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