Newspaper publishers love Donald Trump: Another political cartoonist fired

Censorship

In New Brunswick, Canada, “Brunswick News Inc., which owns the Saint John Telegraph-Journal, the Moncton Times & Transcript, and the Moncton Fredericton Daily Gleaner, has now disassociated itself from [Michael] de Adder.” It appears the publisher, who has business interests in the U.S., does not wish to offend Donald Trump.[1] De Adder has a web site which presently features a number of cartoons disparaging Trump.

Unsurprisingly, Brunswick News denies that the cartoon in the tweet below had anything to do with de Adder’s contract termination, claiming they were merely “bring[ing] back” another cartoonist.[2] But, in fact, newspapers have been known to run a number of political cartoonists, covering a broad spectrum of opinion. Somewhat more persuasively, Wes Tyrell, president of a Canadian cartoonist association, said de Adder had told him “there were a series of taboo subjects he could not touch. One of these taboo subjects was Donald Trump.”[3]

This[4] is yet another example undermining journalistic claims of “editorial independence” from the business sides of the corporate conglomerates that control media organizations. Some would say this is not even remotely a surprise.[5]

I refuse to subscribe to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (which also blocks ad-blockers and is therefore unacceptable) for firing Rob Rogers who also dared to criticize the U.S.’ own dear leader.[6] It’s unlikely I would subscribe to a New Brunswick paper for the foreseeable future anyway. But they are most definitely now on my shit list.

D. D. Degg, “Brunswick News Inc. Cancels Michael de Adder – Updated,” Daily Cartoonist, June 29, 2019, https://www.dailycartoonist.com/index.php/2019/06/29/brunswick-news-inc-cancels-michael-de-adder/

Migration

Miriam Jordan, “Judge Orders Swift Action to Improve Conditions for Migrant Children in Texas,” New York Times, June 29, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/29/us/migrant-children-detention-texas.html


  1. [1]D. D. Degg, “Brunswick News Inc. Cancels Michael de Adder – Updated,” Daily Cartoonist, June 29, 2019, https://www.dailycartoonist.com/index.php/2019/06/29/brunswick-news-inc-cancels-michael-de-adder/
  2. [2]Saint John Telegraph-Journal, [microblog post], Twitter, June 30, 2019, https://twitter.com/TJProvincial/status/1145343394685882368
  3. [3]Wes Tyrell, quoted in D. D. Degg, “Brunswick News Inc. Cancels Michael de Adder – Updated,” Daily Cartoonist, June 29, 2019, https://www.dailycartoonist.com/index.php/2019/06/29/brunswick-news-inc-cancels-michael-de-adder/
  4. [4]D. D. Degg, “Brunswick News Inc. Cancels Michael de Adder – Updated,” Daily Cartoonist, June 29, 2019, https://www.dailycartoonist.com/index.php/2019/06/29/brunswick-news-inc-cancels-michael-de-adder/
  5. [5]J. Herbert Altschull, Agents of Power: The Media and Public Policy, 2nd ed. (White Plains, NY: Longman, 1995); David Croteau and William Hoynes, Media/Society: Industries, Images, and Audiences, 3rd ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge, 2003); Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (New York: Pantheon, 2002).
  6. [6]Kim Lyons, “Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Cartoonist Fired as Paper Shifts Right,” New York Times, June 15, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/15/business/media/pittsburgh-cartoonist-fired.html

Neoliberals gotta be neoliberals

Migration

Calling round five for Donald Trump. The score is now three rounds for Nancy Pelosi, one for Trump, and one draw. The neoliberal party performed true to form: ‘Compromise’ really means capitulation,[1] just as it did throughout the Barack Obama presidency. In this case, to concentration camps.[2]

And I gotta tell you: I’m just not impressed by Chuck Schumer and Pelosi pointing fingers at each other.[3] These people are fucking grown-ups. They know—or should know—how their respective chambers work. Political malpractice is simply no excuse for concentration camps.

Finally, I guess I need to dredge out that definition of a concentration camp again:

a place where large numbers of people (such as prisoners of war, political prisoners, refugees, or the members of an ethnic or religious minority) are detained or confined under armed guard —used especially in reference to camps created by the Nazis in World War II for the internment and persecution of Jews and other prisoners.[4]

Notice that it contains no reference to the conditions under which human beings are being held. These centers are concentration camps no matter how much money you throw at them.

Now, as to the situation in Italy, in which a rescue ship carrying migrants rammed a “war ship” to dock at Lampedusa: You cannot simultaneously call a ship a “war ship”[5] and claim that this ship “work[s] at sea for the safety of everybody.”[6] That is not what warships do and this is a flat contradiction. Especially when the rescue ship is completing a rescue. Duh. Luigi Patronaggio, the prosecutor involved, makes Trump look intelligent. Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen from afar of the Italian flavor of injustice, it’s even worse than the U.S. system.

Annalisa Camilli and Francis D’Emilio, “Migrant aid ship captain detained; Italy police boat rammed,” Associated Press, June 29, 2019, https://apnews.com/a68a99dd9f4c49d995a21f12f75cc3ac

Lauren Fox et al., “House passes border funding bill after Pelosi reversal outrages progressives,” CNN, June 27, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/27/politics/border-funding-migrant-crisis-nancy-pelosi-house-senate-bills/index.html

Mike DeBonis and Rachael Bade, “‘A betrayal’: Inside the bitter rift between Pelosi and Schumer over border bill,” Washington Post, June 28, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/a-betrayal-inside-the-bitter-rift-between-pelosi-and-schumer-over-border-bill/2019/06/28/26fbb3b8-99bf-11e9-8d0a-5edd7e2025b1_story.html


Iran

Megan Rose, Robert Faturechi, and T. Christian Miller, “Trump Keeps Talking About the Last Military Standoff With Iran — Here’s What Really Happened,” ProPublica, June 24, 2019, https://www.propublica.org/article/trump-keeps-talking-about-last-military-standoff-iran-what-really-happened-farsi-island-navy


Joe Biden

Once upon a time a lying racist “touchy feely” misogynist pervert was afraid of losing an election. So he sided with racists. But he wants you to believe he’s worked for civil rights his entire career.[7]

When I think back on the Civil Rights era, I remember not just Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, and a lot of other Blacks. I remember as well whites who had the guts to go into the Deep South on voter registration drives, trying to register Blacks to vote. I remember not just Blacks but whites who put their lives on the line for Civil Rights. Biden wasn’t one of them.

Michael Kranish and Laura Meckler, “Joe Biden called busing a ‘liberal train wreck.’ Now his stance on school integration is an issue,” Washington Post, June 28, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/joe-biden-called-busing-a-liberal-train-wreck-now-his-stance-on-school-integration-is-an-issue/2019/06/28/557705dc-99b3-11e9-830a-21b9b36b64ad_story.html


  1. [1]Lauren Fox et al., “House passes border funding bill after Pelosi reversal outrages progressives,” CNN, June 27, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/27/politics/border-funding-migrant-crisis-nancy-pelosi-house-senate-bills/index.html
  2. [2]David Benfell, “It’s time to be clear: Migrant children are being held in concentration camps and the Trump administration is fascist,” Not Housebroken, June 24, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/06/24/its-time-to-be-clear-migrant-children-are-being-held-in-concentration-camps-and-the-trump-administration-is-fascist/
  3. [3]Mike DeBonis and Rachael Bade, “‘A betrayal’: Inside the bitter rift between Pelosi and Schumer over border bill,” Washington Post, June 28, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/a-betrayal-inside-the-bitter-rift-between-pelosi-and-schumer-over-border-bill/2019/06/28/26fbb3b8-99bf-11e9-8d0a-5edd7e2025b1_story.html
  4. [4]Meriam-Webster, “https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/concentration%20camp,” n.d., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/concentration%20camp
  5. [5]Annalisa Camilli and Francis D’Emilio, “Migrant aid ship captain detained; Italy police boat rammed,” Associated Press, June 29, 2019, https://apnews.com/a68a99dd9f4c49d995a21f12f75cc3ac
  6. [6]Luigi Patronaggio, quoted in Annalisa Camilli and Francis D’Emilio, “Migrant aid ship captain detained; Italy police boat rammed,” Associated Press, June 29, 2019, https://apnews.com/a68a99dd9f4c49d995a21f12f75cc3ac
  7. [7]Michael Kranish and Laura Meckler, “Joe Biden called busing a ‘liberal train wreck.’ Now his stance on school integration is an issue,” Washington Post, June 28, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/joe-biden-called-busing-a-liberal-train-wreck-now-his-stance-on-school-integration-is-an-issue/2019/06/28/557705dc-99b3-11e9-830a-21b9b36b64ad_story.html

Vladimir Putin’s ‘mark’

Census

I wasn’t aware that

Though past censuses did ask for citizenship questions of some respondents until 1950, developments in statistical methodologies revealed the extent to which such questions led to undercounting.

“The Census Bureau has worked very hard over 200 years to learn how to do accurate, scientific survey research,” [Margo J.] Anderson said. “The addition of this question didn’t draw upon that expertise.”[1]

I knew only that the topic had been raised as I went through my schooling and I found it entirely credible that a citizenship question would undermine the count. Of course it would: Lots of people don’t trust the government for lots of reasons. The suspicion that the information would somehow find its way to authorities seeking to enforce immigration law is only one.

Gillian Brockell, “No, the census has never been delayed. Even when it was really hard to conduct,” Washington Post, June 27, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2019/06/27/no-census-has-never-been-delayed-even-when-it-was-really-hard-do/

Garrett Epps, “Is the Citizenship Question Dead?” Atlantic, June 27, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/06/court-wants-real-reason-citizenship-question/592864/

Lawrence Hurley and Andrew Chung, “Trump fumes as Supreme Court blocks census citizenship question,” Reuters, June 27, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-court-census/trump-fumes-as-supreme-court-blocks-census-citizenship-question-idUSKCN1TS1BL


Vladimir Putin

As per my dissertation, I would like to be clear as to which sort of ‘liberalism’[2] Vladimir Putin is declaring to be “obsolete.”[3] I can’t quite tell, but it might be “classical liberalism,” the sort advocated by Adam Smith, and the sort that capitalist libertarians claim (not entirely accurately) to be resurrecting. Capitalist libertarians and neoliberals tend to favor immigration as it undermines worker leverage. On the other hand, and more probably, it could simply be the ‘liberalism’ as ‘whatever I’m against’ kind, amorphous and impossible to pin down because there isn’t really anything to pin down.[4]

Putin joins Donald Trump in unfairly characterizing migrants as criminals; in addition, Putin thinks migrants from the former Soviet bloc are better prepared for life in Russia. He denies any problem with homophobia or transphobia and considers Christianity fundamental to civilization. He also describes Trump as “talented.”[5]

That flattery for Trump might simply be flattery for a man who likes to be flattered and whom it’s widely suspected Putin sees as a mark for manipulation. But it also lends support for a characterization of Putin as authoritarian populist, though the ‘populist’ part of that might not be going so well, to the extent the Times, a conservative paper, is correct in saying “meagre salaries and pensions are increasingly contrasted with the fortunes of a caste of Kremlin-linked billionaire oligarchs, eroding the president’s ratings.”[6]

Tom Parfitt, “Liberalism is obsolete, declares Putin,” Times, June 28, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/liberalism-is-obsolete-declares-putin-vx2xhhc2w


Joe Biden

Kamala Harris deserves a lot of credit for her performance last night, June 27, in challenging Joe Biden on race. But she used her skills as a former prosecutor[7] in a criminal injustice system that is profoundly racist and classist, enforcing laws passed by mostly wealthy white males mostly against everyone else,[8] with a deeply flawed process[9] that sends so many human beings to prison as to merit critical examination from an epidemiological perspective.[10] Frankly, Pete Buttigieg, who is facing in South Bend what is yet another case of a white cop shooting a Black man,[11] handled this better by admitting failure.[12]

In terms of the neoliberal party nomination, I think Biden is done. Lots of folks say his performance last night won’t do it in itself—and that’s the thing, it doesn’t. But there’s the “touchy feely misogynist” thing[13] in addition to the racist thing[14] and the Anita Hill thing.[15] The man is a walking, talking toxic waste dump. He should be an embarrassment to the neoliberals who support him but, well, they’re neoliberal and that’s really what matters to them.

My own preference would be for Bernie Sanders, but Sanders had his day in 2016 and the encore just isn’t looking like a winner. Buttigieg hasn’t paid much attention to homelessness in fucking South Bend (!), fucking Indiana (!)[16] where it is, if anything, even more miserable in winter than Pittsburgh, and for me, that’s profoundly and inexcusably inhumane. Meanwhile, Harris needs to compellingly address her record as a prosecutor.

For me, that probably leaves Elizabeth Warren, whose big mistake is trying to save capitalism from itself.[17] Apart from the fact that any system of exchange inherently operates to widen social inequality,[18] Warren’s proposal would be to repeat Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s mistake: The New Deal was successful only for a few decades while a capitalist libertarians (or their immediate predecessors) screeched about “property rights,” attempted to organize a coup against FDR,[19] never stopped whining,[20] and went on to organize the bipartisan “Washington Consensus,” the intellectually utterly discredited neoliberal ideology that persists as the mainstream ideology of the U.S. government.[21] Warren’s heart may be in the right place, but we need a much better answer than the one she offers, one that permanently silences—total expropriation would at least deprive them of the funds for media manipulation—the capitalist libertarians and neoliberals.

Mark Z. Barabak, “Seven takeaways from Democratic debate Night 2: Sparks from Biden and Harris, honesty from Buttigieg,” Los Angeles Times, June 27, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-2020-democratic-debate-miami-takeaways-20190627-story.html

Stephen Collinson, “Joe Biden throws own campaign into turmoil after Harris attacks his record on race,” CNN, June 28, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/28/politics/first-democratic-debate-night-2-analysis/index.html

Maeve Reston, “Harris’ attack on Joe Biden steals spotlight at Democratic primary debate,” CNN, June 28, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/27/politics/democratic-primary-debate-night-two-joe-biden-bernie-sanders-kamala-harris/index.html


Pittsburgh

WTAE, “U.S. Steel, health department have deal to settle 2018 air pollution violations at Clairton Coke Works,” June 28, 2019, https://www.wtae.com/article/us-steel-reaches-agreement-with-health-department-to-resolve-enforcement-orders-at-clairton-coke-works/28221648


  1. [1]Gillian Brockell, “No, the census has never been delayed. Even when it was really hard to conduct,” Washington Post, June 27, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2019/06/27/no-census-has-never-been-delayed-even-when-it-was-really-hard-do/
  2. [2]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  3. [3]Tom Parfitt, “Liberalism is obsolete, declares Putin,” Times, June 28, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/liberalism-is-obsolete-declares-putin-vx2xhhc2w
  4. [4]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  5. [5]Tom Parfitt, “Liberalism is obsolete, declares Putin,” Times, June 28, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/liberalism-is-obsolete-declares-putin-vx2xhhc2w
  6. [6]Tom Parfitt, “Liberalism is obsolete, declares Putin,” Times, June 28, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/liberalism-is-obsolete-declares-putin-vx2xhhc2w
  7. [7]Mark Z. Barabak, “Seven takeaways from Democratic debate Night 2: Sparks from Biden and Harris, honesty from Buttigieg,” Los Angeles Times, June 27, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-2020-democratic-debate-miami-takeaways-20190627-story.html; Stephen Collinson, “Joe Biden throws own campaign into turmoil after Harris attacks his record on race,” CNN, June 28, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/28/politics/first-democratic-debate-night-2-analysis/index.html; Maeve Reston, “Harris’ attack on Joe Biden steals spotlight at Democratic primary debate,” CNN, June 28, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/27/politics/democratic-primary-debate-night-two-joe-biden-bernie-sanders-kamala-harris/index.html
  8. [8]Jeffrey Reiman, The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison, 7th ed. (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2004).
  9. [9]Dan Simon, In Doubt: The Psychology of the Criminal Justice Process (Cambridge, MA: Harvard, 2012).
  10. [10]Ernest Drucker, A Plague of Prisons: The Epidemiology of Mass Incarceration in America(New York: New Press, 2011).
  11. [11]Matt Pearce, “Black residents of South Bend unload on Mayor Pete Buttigieg,” Los Angeles Times, June 23, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-2020-pete-buttigieg-mayor-police-shooting-black-voters-20190624-story.html
  12. [12]Mark Z. Barabak, “Seven takeaways from Democratic debate Night 2: Sparks from Biden and Harris, honesty from Buttigieg,” Los Angeles Times, June 27, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-2020-democratic-debate-miami-takeaways-20190627-story.html
  13. [13]David Benfell, “Joe Biden blows his #MeToo moment,” Not Housebroken, April 5, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/04/05/joe-biden-blows-his-metoo-moment/; Brett Samuels, “Biden: ‘I’m not sorry for anything that I have ever done,’” Hill, April 5, 2019, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/437582-biden-im-not-sorry-for-anything-that-i-have-ever-done
  14. [14]Stephen Collinson, “Joe Biden gets in his own way on race,” CNN, June 20, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/20/politics/joe-biden-race-2020-election/index.html; Scott Detrow, “Democrats Blast Biden For Recalling ‘Civil’ Relationship With Segregationists,” CNN, June 19, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/06/19/734103488/democrats-blast-biden-for-recalling-civil-relationship-with-segregationists; Greg Sargent, “Joe Biden is badly undermining his ability to challenge Trump,” Washington Post, June 20, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/06/20/joe-biden-is-badly-undermining-his-case-against-trump/; Matt Viser and Sean Sullivan, “Biden faces backlash over comments about the ‘civility’ of his past work with racist senators,” Washington Post, June 19, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-faces-backlash-over-comments-about-the-civility-of-his-past-work-with-racist-senators/2019/06/19/c0375d2a-92a8-11e9-b58a-a6a9afaa0e3e_story.html
  15. [15]Elise Viebeck, “Joe Biden was in charge of the Anita Hill hearing. Even he says it wasn’t fair,” Washington Post, April 26, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/joe-biden-was-in-charge-of-the-anita-hill-hearing-even-he-says-it-wasnt-fair/2019/04/26/a9a6f384-6500-11e9-82ba-fcfeff232e8f_story.html
  16. [16]Charles Bethea, “What Pete Buttigieg Has and Hasn’t Done About Homelessness in South Bend,” New Yorker, June 24, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/dispatch/what-pete-buttigieg-has-and-hasnt-done-about-homelessness-in-south-bend
  17. [17]Ali Donaldson, “Why Elizabeth Warren Still Calls Herself a Capitalist,” Bloomberg, February 1, 2019, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-02-02/why-elizabeth-warren-still-calls-herself-a-capitalist
  18. [18]Max Weber, “Class, Status, Party,” in Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings, ed. Charles Lemert, 4th ed. (Boulder, CO: Westview, 2010), 119-129.
  19. [19]George Seldes, 1000 Americans: The Real Rulers of the U.S.A. (New York: Boni and Gaer, 1948; Joshua Tree, CA: Progressive, 2009).
  20. [20]Charles A. Reich, The Greening of America (New York: Crown, 1970).
  21. [21]Mark Blyth, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford, UK: Oxford University, 2013); Daniel Stedman Jones, Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University, 2012).

Forever war and inhumanity, delusional raging narcissist-in-chief style

Migration

27_10:04:55-1The Washington Post caption: “In a photo first published in the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, the bodies of Salvadoran migrant Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his nearly 2-year-old daughter, Valeria, are seen on the banks of the Rio Grande in Matamoros, Mexico, after they drowned trying to cross the river to Brownsville, Tex. (Julia Le Duc/AP)” Image via the Washington Post, June 27, 2019, fair use.[1]

Philip Kennicott, “We used to think photos like this could change the world. What needs to change is who we are,” Washington Post, June 27, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/we-used-to-think-photos-like-this-could-change-the-world-what-needs-to-change-is-who-we-are/2019/06/26/53c9087a-982d-11e9-830a-21b9b36b64ad_story.html

Alejandro Lazo and Jacob Gershman, “Lawsuit Alleges Government Mistreatment of Migrant Children,” Wall Street Journal, June 27, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lawsuit-alleges-government-mistreatment-of-migrant-children-11561608969


Iran

Where have we heard this[2] before? Oh yes, here it is:

July 11, 2002 – “Support for Saddam, including within his military organization, will collapse after the first whiff of gunpowder.” – Richard Perle, then Pentagon Defense Policy Board chairman. . . .

November 14, 2002 – “The Gulf War in the 1990s lasted five days on the ground. I can’t tell you if the use of force in Iraq today would last five days, or five weeks or five months. But it certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that.” – Then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. . . .

March 16, 2003 – “I think things have gotten so bad inside Iraq, from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.” – U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney to U.S. television network NBC. . . .

May 1, 2003 – “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.” – U.S. President George W. Bush, aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln under a banner declaring “Mission Accomplished”.[3]

I am also recalling David Halberstam’s description of the “Five O’Clock Follies” in which military officials daily delivered rosy assessments of the war effort in Vietnam.[4]

So okay, let’s play. According the CIA World Factbook:[5]

  1. Afghanistan has a land surface area of 652,230 sq km and a population of 34,940,837 (July 2018 est.).[6] We are still at war there.
  2. Iraq has a land surface area of 437,367 sq km and a population of 40,194,216 (July 2018 est.).[7] The war with the Islamic State has mostly wound down, but I haven’t heard anyone say we’re finished with the war in Iraq.
  3. So now, drum roll, please: Iran has a land surface area of 1,531,595 sq km and a population of 83,024,745 (July 2018 est.).[8] That is, over twice the land area of Afghanistan and nearly four times the area of Iraq. And something approaching three times the population of Afghanistan and over double that of Iraq. “President Trump said Wednesday [June 26] that a war with Iran would not ‘last very long’ or involve ground troops, as he seemingly dismissed warnings that limited U.S. military action could spiral into a larger conflict.”[9] He proposes this while we are still embroiled in George W. Bush’s Global War on Terror (even if we don’t call it that anymore).

Oh yeah, hubris, baby!

John Wagner and Dan Lamothe, “Trump says war with Iran would not involve ground troops or last long,” Washington Post, June 26, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-says-war-with-iran-would-not-involve-ground-troops-and-not-last-long/2019/06/26/9a0e9918-9813-11e9-830a-21b9b36b64ad_story.html


Donald Trump

I am remembering Jürgen Habermas’ description of a conflict between business leaders and royalty in which the latter felt ordinary people too ignorant, idiotic, and ill-informed to judge discussions with foreign leaders.[10] Of course, a lot of people think the “ignorant, idiotic, and informed” description would apply to Donald Trump himself and so when we see Trump saying that what he says to Vladimir Putin is “none of your business,”[11] what we see is how deep the gulf is between Trump with his sycophants and many of the rest of us.

Meanwhile, I’m remembering another photograph:
27_10:29:43-12The Time caption: “A handout photograph from the German government shows a group of leaders at the Group of Seven summit, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Trump, in Canada on June 9, 2018.” Via Time, June 10, 2018, fair use.[12]

I can’t help but think that foreign leaders on the one hand understand they must deal with Trump due to U.S. military and economic heft. And I’ll grant that Putin probably sees a man he can take advantage of. But for the rest, that must somehow still fail to answer the question, why are they dealing with this man?

Brett Samuels, “Trump to reporter: What I say to Putin at G-20 is none of your business,” Hill, June 26, 2019, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/450465-trump-to-reporter-what-i-say-to-putin-at-g20-is-none-of-your-business

Elizabeth Dwoskin and Tony Romm, “Twitter adds labels for tweets that break its rules — a move with potentially stark implications for Trump’s account,” Washington Post, June 27, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/06/27/twitter-adds-labels-tweets-that-break-its-rules-putting-president-trump-companys-crosshairs/


Israel

It’s hard to say who is more shameless: Donald Trump or Binyamin Netanyahu.

In yesterday’s installment, we learned that Netanyahu was reconsidering the move to a second election after having failed to form a coalition to govern.[13] It turns out that the basic law which controls how Israel is governed is much, much easier to amend than, say, the U.S. Constitution. So guess what Likud’s plan is?[14] Anything, it seems, is legitimate, so long as it keeps Netanyahu in power. Netanyahu may match Trump in shamelessness, but Trump probably can’t match Netanyahu’s execution.

Jacob Magid, “After leading vote to dissolve Knesset, PM’s looking at a redo. Is that allowed?” Times of Israel, June 26, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/after-leading-vote-to-dissolve-knesset-pms-looking-at-a-redo-is-that-allowed/


Gerrymandering

In which a conservative Supreme Court decides it can’t do anything (so, sorry!) about conservatives rigging electoral districts to keep conservatives in power.[15]

David G. Savage and Mark Z. Barabak, “Supreme Court’s approval of partisan gerrymandering raises 2020 election stakes,” Los Angeles Times, June 27, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-supreme-court-partisan-gerrymandering-republicans-20190627-story.html


  1. [1]Philip Kennicott, “We used to think photos like this could change the world. What needs to change is who we are,” Washington Post, June 27, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/we-used-to-think-photos-like-this-could-change-the-world-what-needs-to-change-is-who-we-are/2019/06/26/53c9087a-982d-11e9-830a-21b9b36b64ad_story.html
  2. [2]John Wagner and Dan Lamothe, “Trump says war with Iran would not involve ground troops or last long,” Washington Post, June 26, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-says-war-with-iran-would-not-involve-ground-troops-and-not-last-long/2019/06/26/9a0e9918-9813-11e9-830a-21b9b36b64ad_story.html
  3. [3]Dean Yates, “Iraq war, the notable quotes,” March 11, 2008, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iraq-war-quotes/factbox-iraq-war-the-notable-quotes-idUSL212762520080311
  4. [4]David Halberstam, The Powers That Be (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois, 2000).
  5. [5]Central Intelligence Agency, “World Factbook,” n.d., https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/
  6. [6]Central Intelligence Agency, “World Factbook,” n.d., https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/
  7. [7]Central Intelligence Agency, “World Factbook,” n.d., https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/
  8. [8]Central Intelligence Agency, “World Factbook,” n.d., https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/
  9. [9]John Wagner and Dan Lamothe, “Trump says war with Iran would not involve ground troops or last long,” Washington Post, June 26, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-says-war-with-iran-would-not-involve-ground-troops-and-not-last-long/2019/06/26/9a0e9918-9813-11e9-830a-21b9b36b64ad_story.html
  10. [10]Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, trans. Thomas Burger with Frederick Lawrence (Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1991).
  11. [11]Donald Trump, quoted in Brett Samuels, “Trump to reporter: What I say to Putin at G-20 is none of your business,” Hill, June 26, 2019, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/450465-trump-to-reporter-what-i-say-to-putin-at-g20-is-none-of-your-business
  12. [12]Andrew Katz, “A Single Photo Captured President Trump’s Approach to the G7 Summit,” Time, June 10, 2018, https://time.com/5307314/donald-trump-angela-merkel-g-7-photograph/
  13. [13]Ruth Eglash, “Netanyahu reportedly trying to undo Israel’s election redo,” Washington Post, June 26, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/netanyahu-reportedly-trying-to-undo-israels-election-redo/2019/06/26/e2742366-97f1-11e9-830a-21b9b36b64ad_story.html
  14. [14]Jacob Magid, “After leading vote to dissolve Knesset, PM’s looking at a redo. Is that allowed?” Times of Israel, June 26, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/after-leading-vote-to-dissolve-knesset-pms-looking-at-a-redo-is-that-allowed/
  15. [15]David G. Savage and Mark Z. Barabak, “Supreme Court’s approval of partisan gerrymandering raises 2020 election stakes,” Los Angeles Times, June 27, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-supreme-court-partisan-gerrymandering-republicans-20190627-story.html

The National (In)Security Agency

Updates

  1. Apparently this post went live long before it was complete, June 26, 2019, 8:29 am. I don’t understand what happened here.
  2. June 26, 9:18 pm:
    • The union representing U.S. asylum officers filed a friend of the court briefing in support of the American Civil Liberties Union suit against the Trump administration’s program to send asylum-seekers to Mexico while their claims are adjudicated.[1]
    • I will not be watching the neoliberal party debate.

National Insecurity

Dustin Volz, “NSA Improperly Collected U.S. Phone Records a Second Time,” Wall Street Journal, June 26, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/nsa-improperly-collected-u-s-phone-records-a-second-time-11561541520


Census

Michael Wines, “Reopened Legal Challenge to Census Citizenship Question Throws Case Into Chaos,” New York Times, June 25, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/25/us/census-citizenship-question.html


Iran

Karen DeYoung, “As insults fly, options for avoiding conflict between the U.S. and Iran narrow,” Washington Post, June 25, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/as-insults-fly-options-for-avoiding-conflict-between-the-us-and-iran-narrow/2019/06/25/17ab47bc-9770-11e9-830a-21b9b36b64ad_story.html


Israel

Ruth Eglash, “Netanyahu reportedly trying to undo Israel’s election redo,” Washington Post, June 26, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/netanyahu-reportedly-trying-to-undo-israels-election-redo/2019/06/26/e2742366-97f1-11e9-830a-21b9b36b64ad_story.html


Advanced placement

The following is substantially the same as I posted as a comment in response to the article. I am identified there by my Twitter handle, n4rky:

The keywords here are ‘experiment’ and ‘blind,’[2] the latter being a term used in experiments to ensure that treatment and control groups are ignorant as to which group they’re in. (“Double blind” means that both research assistants administering the treatment and control and subjects are kept in the dark as to which is which and is considered a gold standard for this type of experiment; that does not appear to have been the design here.)

The principal claims she didn’t know that “a new Advanced Placement Seminar course”—and the test—were for college credit. A majority of students received a ‘placebo’ (control) test largely because neither the school nor the school district could afford to administer the real test to all the students.[3]

All this strains credulity and the local newspaper is far too lenient in its treatment here. Even if true, the principal should have known this was for college credit and has no excuse for not knowing. ‘Research’ subjects in this ‘experiment’ were not protected from harm and did not give informed consent.

Cassidy Alexander, “‘Placebo’ test means no college credit for 336 Mainland AP students,” Daytona Beach News-Journal, June 25, 2019, https://www.news-journalonline.com/news/20190625/placebo-test-means-no-college-credit-for-336-mainland-ap-students


Migration

Maria Sacchetti, “U. S. asylum officers say Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy is threatening migrants’ lives, ask federal court to end it,” Washington Post, June 26, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/u-s-asylum-officers-say-trumps-remain-in-mexico-policy-is-threatening-migrants-lives-ask-federal-court-to-end-it/2019/06/26/863e9e9e-9852-11e9-8d0a-5edd7e2025b1_story.html


  1. [1]Maria Sacchetti, “U. S. asylum officers say Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy is threatening migrants’ lives, ask federal court to end it,” Washington Post, June 26, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/u-s-asylum-officers-say-trumps-remain-in-mexico-policy-is-threatening-migrants-lives-ask-federal-court-to-end-it/2019/06/26/863e9e9e-9852-11e9-8d0a-5edd7e2025b1_story.html
  2. [2]Cassidy Alexander, “‘Placebo’ test means no college credit for 336 Mainland AP students,” Daytona Beach News-Journal, June 25, 2019, https://www.news-journalonline.com/news/20190625/placebo-test-means-no-college-credit-for-336-mainland-ap-students
  3. [3]Cassidy Alexander, “‘Placebo’ test means no college credit for 336 Mainland AP students,” Daytona Beach News-Journal, June 25, 2019, https://www.news-journalonline.com/news/20190625/placebo-test-means-no-college-credit-for-336-mainland-ap-students

Intractable idiocy

Iran

One way to begin any discussion of war with Iran is with a recognition that the country is larger and more populous than either Iraq or Afghanistan. And that the U.S. isn’t finished with either of George W. Bush’s and Barack Obama’s wars in those countries. So it’s hard to fathom any claim of easy or instant victory, at least on the terms in which the U.S. has fought its existing wars.

How could this time be different? Could it be that when Donald Trump threatens obliteration and “overwhelming force,”[1] he means nuclear force?

Peter Beinart, “The Question the Iran Hawks Haven’t Answered,” Atlantic, June 24, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/06/iran-hawks-owe-americans-some-answers/592390/

Erin Cunningham and Ruth Eglash, “Trump warns Iran of ‘overwhelming force’ in the event of an attack on ‘anything American,’” Washington Post, June 25, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/iran-says-path-to-diplomacypermanently-closed-following-us-sanctions/2019/06/25/636b48e6-96b7-11e9-9a16-dc551ea5a43b_story.html


Brexit

We’re actually back to talking about Brexit. Yes, actually Brexit. Which probably means that the Tory power struggle is all but settled in favor of Boris Johnson, at least until he actually wins the Tory contest, when he will need to secure a confidence vote in Parliament.[2]. Of course, nothing else actually has changed. The backstop is unavoidable, no matter what the Tories fantasize.[3] A hard Brexit remains the default.[4] But the new government could well collapse, failing even to secure an vote of confidence.[5]

Jessica Elgot, “New PM faces losing Commons confidence, Tory MPs warn,” Guardian, June 21, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/21/next-tory-pm-will-face-serious-challenge-trying-to-secure-commons-confidence

Daniel Boffey, “However you look at it, the logic of a Brexit backstop refuses to yield,” Guardian, June 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/24/however-look-logic-brexit-backstop-refuses-to-yield-irish

Peter Walker, “Boris Johnson ‘could face Tory coup’ over no-deal Brexit stance,” Guardian, June 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/24/boris-johnson-tory-coup-deal-brexit-tobias-ellwood-jeremy-hunt


Student loans

I remember telling my students not to be oblivious to the student loans they were racking up, but to consider that this is a middle class issue, and that some kind of relief was all but inevitable. In fact, this was manifest with Barack Obama’s steps on income-based repayment but there’s an argument for considerably more. The trouble will lie in that relief, especially for those like myself who racked up huge loans in graduate school, will often flow to those unlike myself who are most able to repay.[6]

I think my own view is that student loans are only one part of the problem in academia. First and foremost, a neoliberal takeover of institutions must be reversed, restoring universities to something somewhat closer to what they are supposed to be, and moving away from job training. Universities are supposed to be centers for the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge; not all knowledge fits neatly with the capitalist profit motive and though we forget this under neoliberalism, there is much, much more to life than the neoliberal particularization and essentialization of human beings as economic units of production and this latter creates severe social problems which also need to be, but are increasingly rarely, addressed as social science programs and humanities programs seem caught in a downward spiral.

Second, athletics need to be divorced from universities. Athletics programs help feed the administrative lust for money, which largely goes to overpaid and self-aggrandizing administrations, and increasingly less toward faculty and research. Visit the University of California, Berkeley, or Stanford on the day of a big game and you see what universities have become really about. Alumni don’t care about current students (except their own children) and they don’t care about what universities are about. It’s about the football, baby. And that needs to end, decades ago.

Third, that anything like two thirds or three quarters of faculty hiring is for woefully underpaid adjuncts should be a scandal. But neoliberalism seemingly makes it all okay. Because despite all these “ivory towers,” we’re anti-intellectual. We just use universities to lie to ourselves about that.

Fourth, that success in attracting grants covering not only the cost of research but helping to defray the administratively-inflated costs of academic programs seem increasingly essential in securing tenure-track faculty positions should be a scandal. Again, neoliberalism, baby, as scholars are particularized and essentialized as economic units of production rather than as what they’re supposed to be: contributors to knowledge.

Fifth, the notion of academic disciplines in the social sciences deserves a very hard look. Right now, they are centers for empire building. They function as blinders as the boundaries between them are arbitrary and ambiguous and scholars inevitably transgress them but lack the preparation to do so. This is deeply damaging to scholarship as the silo walls are reinforced under a neoliberal assault and transdisciplinary scholars such as myself are excluded.

Finally, we need to understand the university, with its mission properly understood, as a social good in and of itself. That we do not informs us that the political and economic elite are not interested in actual solutions to or even in actually understanding problems but rather in pandering to whomever and whatever protects their position.

Steven Johnson, “‘No Exceptions, No Questions Asked’: Progressives Propose Legislation Canceling All Student-Loan Debt,” Chronicle of Higher Education, June 24, 2019, https://www.chronicle.com/article/No-Exceptions-No-Questions/246553


Horse abuse

John Cherwa, “Bill allowing horse racing to be suspended approved by California Legislature,” Los Angeles Times, June 24, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/sports/more/la-sp-gavin-newsom-chrb-california-horse-racing-20190624-story.html


  1. [1]Erin Cunningham and Ruth Eglash, “Trump warns Iran of ‘overwhelming force’ in the event of an attack on ‘anything American,’” Washington Post, June 25, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/iran-says-path-to-diplomacypermanently-closed-following-us-sanctions/2019/06/25/636b48e6-96b7-11e9-9a16-dc551ea5a43b_story.html
  2. [2]Peter Walker, “Boris Johnson ‘could face Tory coup’ over no-deal Brexit stance,” Guardian, June 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/24/boris-johnson-tory-coup-deal-brexit-tobias-ellwood-jeremy-hunt
  3. [3]Daniel Boffey, “However you look at it, the logic of a Brexit backstop refuses to yield,” Guardian, June 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/24/however-look-logic-brexit-backstop-refuses-to-yield-irish
  4. [4]Jack Maidment, “Theresa May’s deal defeated again by 58 votes – PM hints at general election to break deadlock,” Telegraph, March 29, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/03/29/brexit-latest-news-theresa-may-final-push-mps-prepare-vote-withdrawal/
  5. [5]Jessica Elgot, “New PM faces losing Commons confidence, Tory MPs warn,” Guardian, June 21, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/21/next-tory-pm-will-face-serious-challenge-trying-to-secure-commons-confidence; Peter Walker, “Boris Johnson ‘could face Tory coup’ over no-deal Brexit stance,” Guardian, June 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/24/boris-johnson-tory-coup-deal-brexit-tobias-ellwood-jeremy-hunt
  6. [6]Steven Johnson, “‘No Exceptions, No Questions Asked’: Progressives Propose Legislation Canceling All Student-Loan Debt,” Chronicle of Higher Education, June 24, 2019, https://www.chronicle.com/article/No-Exceptions-No-Questions/246553

That asinine argument on ‘safe and sanitary conditions’

Migration

I have a new blog post up entitled, “It’s time to be clear: Migrant children are being held in concentration camps and the Trump administration is fascist.

Ken White, “Why a Government Lawyer Argued Against Giving Immigrant Kids Toothbrushes,” Atlantic, June 23, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/06/why-sarah-fabian-argued-against-giving-kids-toothbrushes/592366/


Student Loans

I can only wish that Bernie Sanders’ proposal[1] had even a snowball’s chance in hell of being enacted. I’m on income-based repayment, but with my career prospects being nil, interest is accumulating far faster than I can pay. I was at something over $300,000 when I finished my Ph.D. That number is closing in on $400,000 rapidly.

Jeff Stein, “Sanders proposes canceling entire $1.6 trillion in U.S. student loan debt, escalating Democratic policy battle,” Washington Post, June 24, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/sanders-to-propose-canceling-entire-16-trillion-in-us-student-loan-debt-escalating-democratic-policy-battle/2019/06/23/1eed053a-9561-11e9-aadb-74e6b2b46f6a_story.html


Pete Buttigieg

The man is running on his record as mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Apparently he’s okay with letting people freeze.[2]

Charles Bethea, “What Pete Buttigieg Has and Hasn’t Done About Homelessness in South Bend,” New Yorker, June 24, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/dispatch/what-pete-buttigieg-has-and-hasnt-done-about-homelessness-in-south-bend


Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson will probably be prime minister anyway.[3]

To imagine—or perhaps to hope—that questions about Johnson’s character might undermine his chances of becoming the next Prime Minister would be to overlook the crucial point governing the Conservative Party’s leadership election, which is that Johnson’s character—jocose, undiplomatic, entitled—is the thing that Tory members like the most about him. It is hardly that questions about Johnson’s character have not been raised before: the list of offenses he has committed, professional and personal, minor and major, is well known. Did he embroider the truth and fabricate facts as a journalist? Yes. Did he tell voters on the campaign trail that voting Tory would “cause your wife to have bigger breasts and increase your chances of owning a BMW M3”? Yes. Was he obliged, only last year, to apologize to the House of Commons after failing to declare outside income as an M.P.? Yes. Has he been known, even celebrated, for decades, as a world-class philanderer? Yes. Has he deployed his old Etonian charm, and a rhetorical charisma honed in the vaunted chamber of the Oxford Union, in the service of a vacuous superciliousness that has propelled him almost to the top of Britain’s political establishment? Most certainly.

That Johnson is undisciplined, careless, and arrogant could not be more widely documented or better known. That these qualities are cherished in him by the Conservative Party faithful—who will, because of the peculiarities of British parliamentary democracy, get to choose the Prime Minister for the rest of the country—could not be more transparent.[4]

Rebecca Mead, “Will Boris Johnson’s “Late-Night Altercation” Sink His Bid to Become Prime Minister?” New Yorker, June 23, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-the-uk/will-boris-johnsons-late-night-altercation-sink-his-bid-to-become-prime-minister


Turkey

I mostly covered this yesterday.[5] A detail I did not have at that time—or possibly just missed—was that “initial results showed that with 99% of ballots counted the People’s Republican party (CHP) candidate had increased his lead in March, of 13,000 votes, to an astonishing 777,000, or 54%.”[6] It’s a lot harder to plead ballot tampering with that kind of a margin.

Bethan McKernan, “Erdoğan party defeated in controversial rerun of Istanbul mayoral poll,” Guardian, June 23, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jun/23/erdogan-faces-scrutiny-once-more-as-istanbul-goes-back-to-the-polls


  1. [1]Jeff Stein, “Sanders proposes canceling entire $1.6 trillion in U.S. student loan debt, escalating Democratic policy battle,” Washington Post, June 24, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/sanders-to-propose-canceling-entire-16-trillion-in-us-student-loan-debt-escalating-democratic-policy-battle/2019/06/23/1eed053a-9561-11e9-aadb-74e6b2b46f6a_story.html
  2. [2]Charles Bethea, “What Pete Buttigieg Has and Hasn’t Done About Homelessness in South Bend,” New Yorker, June 24, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/dispatch/what-pete-buttigieg-has-and-hasnt-done-about-homelessness-in-south-bend
  3. [3]Rebecca Mead, “Will Boris Johnson’s “Late-Night Altercation” Sink His Bid to Become Prime Minister?” New Yorker, June 23, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-the-uk/will-boris-johnsons-late-night-altercation-sink-his-bid-to-become-prime-minister
  4. [4]Rebecca Mead, “Will Boris Johnson’s “Late-Night Altercation” Sink His Bid to Become Prime Minister?” New Yorker, June 23, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-the-uk/will-boris-johnsons-late-night-altercation-sink-his-bid-to-become-prime-minister
  5. [5]David Benfell, “What? Are you trying to tell me that row Boris Johnson had with Carrie Symonds might reflect on his character? Really? Surely you jest,” Irregular Bullshit, June 23, 2019, https://disunitedstates.com/2019/06/23/5520/
  6. [6]Bethan McKernan, “Erdoğan party defeated in controversial rerun of Istanbul mayoral poll,” Guardian, June 23, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jun/23/erdogan-faces-scrutiny-once-more-as-istanbul-goes-back-to-the-polls

What? Are you trying to tell me that row Boris Johnson had with Carrie Symonds might reflect on his character? Really? Surely you jest.

Updates

  1. Originally published, June 23, 6:18 pm.
  2. June 23, 11:20 pm:
    • Joe Biden might not be the only candidate for the neoliberal party nomination tripped up by race.[1] The police in South Bend, Indiana, are tripping up Pete Buttigieg with—oh, gee, this should be a surprise—the shooting of a Black man.[2]

Boris Johnson

What’s this? Do the British take domestic arguments apparently verging on violence[3] seriously and possibly as a reflection on the prime minister-apparent’s character? It seems some of them might. Not Boris Johnson: He claimed that voters were entitled to know about his character but then refused to answer questions on the incident as if it had no relevance to his character whatsoever.[4] Neither the Telegraph: Their coverage emphasizes that the neighbor who recorded the fight and called police supports Jeremy Corbyn and is a remainer. The Telegraph also suggests that Carrie Symonds may have been distraught about a black cab rapist, whom she apparently had ridden with and been drugged by.[5]

Gotta tell you: The discrepancy in coverage here is jarring as the Telegraph, a conservative paper, appears to seek to deflect blame from Johnson onto anyone else: Symonds or the neighbor,[6] perhaps others yet to be determined (I blame both Symonds and Johnson[7]), while the Guardian, a neoliberal paper, reports that senior Tories are alarmed and that public support for Johnson is dropping.[8]

Edward Malnick, Patrick Sawer, and Steve Bird, “Left-wing neighbours admit to taping Boris Johnson row with partner Carrie Symonds,” Telegraph, June 22, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/06/22/left-wing-neighbours-admit-taping-boris-johnson-row-girlfriend/

Michael Savage, Toby Helm, and Simon Murphy, “Boris Johnson under fire over row with partner as top Tories raise fears,” Guardian, June 22, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/22/boris-johnson-under-fire-questions-hustings-late-night-argument


Social Conservatives

This is when I wish I had easier access to my old archive because M. Reza Behnam provides a center[9] for the articles I found on elements of social conservatism that deal with eschatology (“end times” ideology) and the link between Israel, armageddon, and the U.S. political class. To say this is an important article is much too cheap.

What isn’t here is much at all on the neoconservative angle, though Behnam points to George W. Bush’s “axis of evil” rhetoric.[10] Bush named Iraq, Iran, and North Korea[11] even though al Qaeda’s leadership was based in Afghanistan[12] and the 9/11 hijackers were mostly (all but four of nineteen) Saudi nationals.[13] Rhetorically, Bush unified these countries to substitute for the old Soviet Union as an essential (to neoconservatives) monolithic enemy.

M. Reza Behnam, “Selling Israel Biblically,” Tikkun, June 20, 2019, https://www.tikkun.org/selling-israel-biblically


Dissertation

I have finally managed to get a copy of my dissertation on line. It’s also available in other places, some publicly, but here, I can find it and that, in turn, will make it easier to locate some of the sources I used in writing it.

My dissertation turned out to be much more of an opus magnum than dissertations are supposed to be; it came in at over 400 pages when they’re supposed be closer to 100. But it really was a culmination of my scholarly career to that point, which in turn had unintentionally become an exploration of why my life has turned out the way it has. It’s far from perfect; I think most scholars will tell you in hindsight that they have regrets about their dissertations. But it was the best I could do at the time.

This version is better than what I had managed to previously post on parts-unknown.org thanks to a really cool piece of software called pandoc, which is wonderful for converting between various text formats.


Turkey

While celebrating Mr. [Ekrem] Imamoglu’s victory, members of his Republican People’s Party, or CHP, cautioned that Mr. [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan had a track record of canceling the results of elections when he doesn’t like the outcome. Mr. Erdogan canceled a legislative vote in 2015 in which the AKP had failed to garner a majority. In recent months, his administration has annulled scores of municipal votes across Turkey, replacing opposition mayors by government-appointed caretakers.[14]

As was suspected when “Mr. Imamoglu had defeated the AKP [Justice and Development Party] candidate in the initial March municipal ballot, but electoral authorities had voided the results after Mr. Erdogan complained of fraud and called for a do-over.”[15]

Kareem Fahim, “Opposition candidate wins in do-over of Istanbul’s mayoral race, dealing setback to Erdogan’s ruling party,” Washington Post, June 23, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/opposition-candidate-wins-in-do-over-of-istanbuls-mayoral-race-dealing-setback-to-erdogans-ruling-party/2019/06/23/3a59c3cc-92d1-11e9-956a-88c291ab5c38_story.html

David Gauthier-Villars, “In Setback for Erdogan, Opposition Candidate Wins Istanbul Mayor Seat,” Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-setback-for-erdogan-opposition-candidate-wins-istanbul-mayor-seat-11561309654


Pete Buttigieg

Matt Pearce, “Black residents of South Bend unload on Mayor Pete Buttigieg,” Los Angeles Times, June 23, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-2020-pete-buttigieg-mayor-police-shooting-black-voters-20190624-story.html


  1. [1]Stephen Collinson, “Joe Biden gets in his own way on race,” CNN, June 20, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/20/politics/joe-biden-race-2020-election/index.html; Scott Detrow, “Democrats Blast Biden For Recalling ‘Civil’ Relationship With Segregationists,” CNN, June 19, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/06/19/734103488/democrats-blast-biden-for-recalling-civil-relationship-with-segregationists; Greg Sargent, “Joe Biden is badly undermining his ability to challenge Trump,” Washington Post, June 20, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/06/20/joe-biden-is-badly-undermining-his-case-against-trump/; Matt Viser and Annie Linskey, “Tensions ripple through Biden campaign as his past working relationship with a segregationist senator comes to the forefront,” Washington Post, June 20, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/tensions-ripple-through-biden-campaign-as-his-past-working-relationship-with-a-segregationist-senator-comes-to-the-forefront/2019/06/20/2518afe6-9394-11e9-b570-6416efdc0803_story.html; Matt Viser and Sean Sullivan, “Biden faces backlash over comments about the ‘civility’ of his past work with racist senators,” Washington Post, June 19, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-faces-backlash-over-comments-about-the-civility-of-his-past-work-with-racist-senators/2019/06/19/c0375d2a-92a8-11e9-b58a-a6a9afaa0e3e_story.html
  2. [2]Matt Pearce, “Black residents of South Bend unload on Mayor Pete Buttigieg,” Los Angeles Times, June 23, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-2020-pete-buttigieg-mayor-police-shooting-black-voters-20190624-story.html
  3. [3]Gordon Rayner, “Police called to home of Boris Johnson and partner Carrie Symonds after reports of loud altercation,” Telegraph, June 21, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/06/21/police-called-home-boris-johnson-girlfriend-reports-altercation/; Jim Waterson, “Boris Johnson: police called to loud altercation at potential PM’s home,” Guardian, June 21, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/21/police-called-to-loud-altercation-at-boris-johnsons-home
  4. [4]Michael Savage, Toby Helm, and Simon Murphy, “Boris Johnson under fire over row with partner as top Tories raise fears,” Guardian, June 22, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/22/boris-johnson-under-fire-questions-hustings-late-night-argument
  5. [5]Edward Malnick, Patrick Sawer, and Steve Bird, “Left-wing neighbours admit to taping Boris Johnson row with partner Carrie Symonds,” Telegraph, June 22, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/06/22/left-wing-neighbours-admit-taping-boris-johnson-row-girlfriend/
  6. [6]Edward Malnick, Patrick Sawer, and Steve Bird, “Left-wing neighbours admit to taping Boris Johnson row with partner Carrie Symonds,” Telegraph, June 22, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/06/22/left-wing-neighbours-admit-taping-boris-johnson-row-girlfriend/
  7. [7]David Benfell, “Police called for a relationship made in Hell,” Irregular Bullshit, June 22, 2019, https://disunitedstates.com/2019/06/22/police-called-for-a-relationship-made-in-hell/
  8. [8]Michael Savage, Toby Helm, and Simon Murphy, “Boris Johnson under fire over row with partner as top Tories raise fears,” Guardian, June 22, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/22/boris-johnson-under-fire-questions-hustings-late-night-argument
  9. [9]M. Reza Behnam, “Selling Israel Biblically,” Tikkun, June 20, 2019, https://www.tikkun.org/selling-israel-biblically
  10. [10]M. Reza Behnam, “Selling Israel Biblically,” Tikkun, June 20, 2019, https://www.tikkun.org/selling-israel-biblically
  11. [11]Andrew Glass, “President Bush cites ‘axis of evil,’ Jan. 29, 2002,” Politico, January 29, 2019, https://www.politico.com/story/2019/01/29/bush-axis-of-evil-2002-1127725
  12. [12]Public Broadcasting System, “Background: al Qaeda,” Frontline, n.d., https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/network/alqaeda/indictment.html
  13. [13]CNN, “September 11 Hijackers Fast Facts,” September 5, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2013/07/27/us/september-11th-hijackers-fast-facts/index.html
  14. [14]David Gauthier-Villars, “In Setback for Erdogan, Opposition Candidate Wins Istanbul Mayor Seat,” Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-setback-for-erdogan-opposition-candidate-wins-istanbul-mayor-seat-11561309654
  15. [15]David Gauthier-Villars, “In Setback for Erdogan, Opposition Candidate Wins Istanbul Mayor Seat,” Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-setback-for-erdogan-opposition-candidate-wins-istanbul-mayor-seat-11561309654

Police called for a relationship made in Hell

Boris Johnson

What was that George Monbiot was saying about politicians? Oh, yeah.[1] I have no sympathy for either Boris Johnson or Carrie Symonds. She is clearly attracted to power, even when it is evil, even when it is embodied in a much older (24 years[2]) man, and is using her relative youth to draw that power near. And while I don’t and can’t know the precise history of this relationship, it sorta kinda looks very much like he left his wife for her, a much younger woman (“arm candy”), which would, in this case, very much be an expression of powerful male entitlement. In which case, they each deserve whatever hell they manage to inflict on each other. What will be unfortunate will be the degree to which this affects matters of state.

Gordon Rayner, “Police called to home of Boris Johnson and partner Carrie Symonds after reports of loud altercation,” Telegraph, June 21, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/06/21/police-called-home-boris-johnson-girlfriend-reports-altercation/

Jim Waterson, “Boris Johnson: police called to loud altercation at potential PM’s home,” Guardian, June 21, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/21/police-called-to-loud-altercation-at-boris-johnsons-home


Horse race

I’m appalled that polls with anything like a nine percent response rate are taken seriously[3] (it should be ninety percent or better[4]), but Nate Silver hits an important point here that fuzzy notions about ‘electability’ may lead voters to support a candidate other than the one they prefer because they fear the other party’s candidate more. Silver takes this a step further, calling it a feedback loop as respondents may rely on these notions even when responding to pollsters.[5] He doesn’t quite fill in the logic here, but it’s fairly obvious he means that the pollsters publish their results based on what respondents told them thus, without saying so, reproducing and reinforcing these notions, so ‘electability’ becomes a major and inadequately accounted-for variable in those results, particularly as the race wears on and respondents in subsequent polls in turn respond in part based on the reinforced notions of electability.

The proof? “A recent Avalanche Strategy poll found Joe Biden in the lead, but when voters were asked to ‘imagine that they have a magic wand and can make any of the candidates president,’ Elizabeth Warren narrowly became the top choice.”[6] My guess is you could find a number of scholars who suspected this kind of feedback even if only at a gut level, even if we lacked the evidence to back it up.[7]

Given the response rate issue, I think the method is now worthless, never mind the outsized influence it nonetheless has in the electoral process. But this is a worthy and welcome bit of self-critique.

It also adds support for my critique of voting for “lesser of two evils.” When we’re overly focused on beating the other guy, in part because of a two-party system, we neglect to advance the policies we would actually prefer.[8] Silver thinks electability is still a legitimate issue. As he puts it,

Nonetheless, Democrats care a lot about who can beat President Trump. If, hypothetically, one candidate had a 70 percent chance of beating Trump and another one had a 40 percent chance, both voters and the media would be right to give that lots of consideration.[9]

But to me, this is an important part of why we are where we are.[10]

Nate Silver, “Is Electability A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?” FiveThirtyEight, June 21, 2019, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/bulletpoint-is-electability-a-self-fulfilling-prophecy/


Migration

Mike Godwin is the one who coined Godwin’s Law:

Godwin is being imprecise here. Meriam-Webster defines a concentration camp as

a place where large numbers of people (such as prisoners of war, political prisoners, refugees, or the members of an ethnic or religious minority) are detained or confined under armed guard —used especially in reference to camps created by the Nazis in World War II for the internment and persecution of Jews and other prisoners.[11]

Apparently, children are being underfed and denied mattresses, heat, and basic sanitation, and not just at the facility in Clint, Texas. Oh, but we’re supposed to believe these are not concentration camps.

The reports of unsafe and unsanitary conditions at Clint and elsewhere came days after government lawyers in court argued that they should not have to provide soap or toothbrushes to children under the legal settlement that gave Ms. [Elora] Mukherjee and her colleagues access to the facility in Clint. The result of a lawsuit that was first settled in 1997, the settlement set the standards for the detention, treatment and release of migrant minors taken into federal immigration custody.[12]

Caitlin Dickerson, “‘There Is a Stench’: No Soap and Overcrowding in Detention Centers for Migrant Children,” New York Times, June 21, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/21/us/migrant-children-border-soap.html


 

  1. [1]George Monbiot, “Outer Turmoil,” June 17, 2019, https://www.monbiot.com/2019/06/17/outer-turmoil/
  2. [2]Gordon Rayner, “Police called to home of Boris Johnson and partner Carrie Symonds after reports of loud altercation,” Telegraph, June 21, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/06/21/police-called-home-boris-johnson-girlfriend-reports-altercation/
  3. [3]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
  4. [4]The problem here lies in assumptions that must be made about that portion of an allegedly representative sample which does not respond, however extrapolated from the portion that does. This is an inherently dubious move that only becomes more suspect as the response rate deteriorates because, in truth, we know very little about those in any given sample who do not respond—we don’t even have their demographic information because those questions are asked as part of the survey. See my subsequent note on Valerie Sue.
  5. [5]Nate Silver, “Is Electability A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?” FiveThirtyEight, June 21, 2019, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/bulletpoint-is-electability-a-self-fulfilling-prophecy/
  6. [6]Nate Silver, “Is Electability A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?” FiveThirtyEight, June 21, 2019, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/bulletpoint-is-electability-a-self-fulfilling-prophecy/
  7. [7]Valerie Sue was my first methods professor at California State University, East Bay, and my advisor while I was an undergraduate. The issue of perceived electability affecting polls and voting is the kind of thing I’d expect her to have mentioned or at least strongly hinted at in class, even if only later in a graduate seminar I took from her on political communication, and she might well have, but I must confess I don’t specifically remember. I know she addressed a bias that might be introduced where respondents might skew their responses in an effort to enhance their appearance to survey workers (especially men responding to attractive young women) in the methods class and I know she talked about the response rate issue in the methods class, then, while it was still far higher, but maybe—my memory is fuzzy here—only sixty or seventy or eighty percent.
  8. [8]David Benfell, “The lesser of two evils? The more successful con artist,” Not Housebroken, May 15, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/05/15/the-lesser-of-two-evils-the-more-successful-con-artist/
  9. [9]Nate Silver, “Is Electability A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?” FiveThirtyEight, June 21, 2019, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/bulletpoint-is-electability-a-self-fulfilling-prophecy/
  10. [10]David Benfell, “The lesser of two evils? The more successful con artist,” Not Housebroken, May 15, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/05/15/the-lesser-of-two-evils-the-more-successful-con-artist/
  11. [11]Meriam-Webster, “https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/concentration%20camp,” n.d., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/concentration%20camp
  12. [12]Caitlin Dickerson, “‘There Is a Stench’: No Soap and Overcrowding in Detention Centers for Migrant Children,” New York Times, June 21, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/21/us/migrant-children-border-soap.html

Why even bother having a presidential election in 2020? Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden are already demonstrating how the neoliberal party will lose

Iran

Michael D. Shear et al., “Trump Approves Strikes on Iran, but Then Abruptly Pulls Back,” New York Times, June 20, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/20/world/middleeast/iran-us-drone.html


Donald Trump

Nancy Pelosi is wrong about lots of stuff—her ignorance on the concentration camps on the U.S. southern border and her defense of Joe Biden are astounding, appalling, and unacceptable. But there is absolutely one thing she remains right about: impeachment.

Andrew Desiderio and Kyle Cheney, “Dems see Hope Hicks testimony as huge gift in legal battle with Trump,” Politico, June 21, 2019, https://www.politico.com/story/2019/06/21/hope-hicks-democrats-trump-1374706


Nancy Pelosi

The Speaker of the House needs to do her homework before speaking.

Pelosi told reporters that she was not “up to date” on Ocasio-Cortez’s comments and that she had not spoken to her about them.[1]

There is no question the centers the Trump administration is using to hold migrants on the southern border are concentration camps. I wouldn’t even know where to begin citing authorities on this: There are so many. But concentration camps are not the same as ‘death camps’ and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s critics are conflating the two to accuse her of invoking the Holocaust. Even many rabbis disagree, explicitly saying that the phrase “never again” is meaningless if not applied here.

As for Pelosi’s defense of Joe Biden,[2] I can only attribute that to her presumptive neoliberal preference for his candidacy in 2020. But what we may very well see here is how her moral cowardice on these issues undermines her authority in resisting calls for impeachment. This is how the neoliberal party fucks up. Every god damned time.

I mean seriously, with this shit, you might as well call the 2020 general election even now: Donald Trump wins re-election.

Chris Mills Rodrigo, “Pelosi on Biden: ‘I have no criticism of what he believes is his story to tell,’” Hill, June 20, 2019, https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/449509-pelosi-responds-to-bidens-comments-on-working-with-segregationists-i-have

John Wagner, “Pelosi warns Democrats that Republicans can exploit their words as controversy continues over Ocasio-Cortez’s ‘concentration camp’ comments,” Washington Post, June 19, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/pelosi-warns-democrats-that-republicans-can-exploit-their-words-as-controversy-continues-over-ocasio-cortezs-concentration-camp-comments/2019/06/19/368dcc1c-929e-11e9-aadb-74e6b2b46f6a_story.html


Joe Biden

I can’t be any more disgusted with the neoliberal party than I’ve been since I noticed John Kerry’s 2004 presidential platform was indistinguishable from Republican positions and certainly since they rigged the 2016 contest in favor of Hillary Clinton. But I gotta tell you, they’re making a hell of a try with Joe Biden.

Moira Donegan, “What does Biden have in common with Trump? Delusional nostalgia,” Guardian, June 21, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/21/joe-biden-trump-sexism-delusional-nostalgia

Matt Viser and Annie Linskey, “Tensions ripple through Biden campaign as his past working relationship with a segregationist senator comes to the forefront,” Washington Post, June 20, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/tensions-ripple-through-biden-campaign-as-his-past-working-relationship-with-a-segregationist-senator-comes-to-the-forefront/2019/06/20/2518afe6-9394-11e9-b570-6416efdc0803_story.html


U.S. exceptionalism

Peter Beinart, “AOC’s Generation Doesn’t Presume America’s Innocence,” Atlantic, June 21, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/06/aoc-isnt-interested-american-exceptionalism/592213/


  1. [1]John Wagner, “Pelosi warns Democrats that Republicans can exploit their words as controversy continues over Ocasio-Cortez’s ‘concentration camp’ comments,” Washington Post, June 19, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/pelosi-warns-democrats-that-republicans-can-exploit-their-words-as-controversy-continues-over-ocasio-cortezs-concentration-camp-comments/2019/06/19/368dcc1c-929e-11e9-aadb-74e6b2b46f6a_story.html
  2. [2]Chris Mills Rodrigo, “Pelosi on Biden: ‘I have no criticism of what he believes is his story to tell,’” Hill, June 20, 2019, https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/449509-pelosi-responds-to-bidens-comments-on-working-with-segregationists-i-have