Metallic thunder

Way back when I was in junior high school (as it was called then), I took a class in radio drama. We wrote scripts, performed them, and recorded them. I remember the sound effect for thunder being produced used something metallic, I think a thin metal sheet.

It sounded metallic, which is not what thunder had ever sounded like to me, and so I wasn’t much impressed.

Last night, I had gone to sleep, maybe a bit early. I awoke to that metallic sound. As I stirred, I saw that lightning was flashing through my window blinds. And the interval between flash and thunder was short, about one second, so I knew the storm was close.

It would likely have been quite a show had I bothered to get up and open the blinds. I was too tired. From the sound, the storm seemed to surround my apartment on at least two sides. The sound became more like thunder as I’m used to hearing it.

Eventually, I heard an alert on both my phones from the dining room. It was a flash flood warning. A bit late now, I thought to myself.

I went back to sleep. But now I know: When it’s close enough, thunder can indeed sound metallic.

This morning, I awoke to a report of debris on Streets Run Road, a heavily-used roadway not far from my apartment.[1] It would not be the first time I’ve seen debris on the roads following a storm here, but I guess this was sufficient to attract the notice of a local reporter.

The road in question is already closed in another section a bit closer to my apartment for work to repair slide damage from earlier storms.[2]


Brexit

There is a new blog post entitled, “The Disunited Kingdom.”

Steven Morris, “No-deal Brexit would endanger rural life, says Welsh leader,” Guardian, July 30, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/30/no-deal-brexit-would-endanger-rural-way-of-life-says-welsh-leader

Siobhán O’Grady, “Why Boris Johnson is already clashing with Ireland over Brexit,” Washington Post, July 30, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2019/07/30/why-boris-johnson-is-already-clashing-with-ireland-over-brexit/

Boer Deng and Oliver Wright, “Congress warns that Irish border is key to trade deal with US,” Times, July 31, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/us-warns-that-irish-border-is-key-to-trade-deal-x2fhrclvq

Amanda Ferguson and William Booth, “Northern Ireland’s politicians don’t agree on much. Except that Boris Johnson’s no-deal Brexit would be a disaster,” Washington Post, July 31, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/northern-irelands-politicians-dont-agree-on-much-except-that-boris-johnsons-no-deal-brexit-would-be-a-disaster/2019/07/31/c209affa-b2eb-11e9-acc8-1d847bacca73_story.html

Andrew Sentance and David Blanchflower, “‘No-deal Brexit talk has hit home hard’ – two experts debate the data,” Guardian, July 31, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/jul/31/no-deal-brexit-talk-has-hit-home-hard-two-experts-debate-the-data


  1. [1]Eric Heyl, “Debris On Baldwin Roads Causing Problems For Motorists,” Patch, July 31, 2019, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/debris-baldwin-roads-causing-problems-motorists
  2. [2]KDKA, “Streets Run Road To Close For A Month-Long Project,” July 9, 2019, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2019/07/09/streets-run-road-month-long-closure/

Eerie Lyft and Uber reshuffles

Ridesharing

There is a new blog entry entitled, “Watching the ridesharing shit go down the toilet.”

Eliot Brown and Sarah Nassauer, “Uber Cuts Third of Marketing Staff; Lyft Chief Operating Officer Exits,” Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-cuts-third-of-marketing-staff-lyft-chief-operating-officer-exits-11564430556


Migration

Maria Sacchetti, “ACLU: U.S. has taken nearly 1,000 child migrants from their parents since judge ordered stop to border separations,” Washington Post, July 30, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/aclu-us-has-taken-nearly-1000-child-migrants-from-their-parents-since-judge-ordered-stop-to-border-separations/2019/07/30/bde452d8-b2d5-11e9-8949-5f36ff92706e_story.html


Homelessness

Emily Alpert Reyes, “L.A. City Council votes to reimpose limits on living in vehicles,” Los Angeles Times, July 30, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-07-30/homeless-cars-la-law


A black hole in a white house

Donald Trump

I’ve tried to explain this before: Donald Trump always has another outrage to make us forget the previous one. He’s a black hole. There is no bottom to him.

So now he’s pissed off Baltimore with his attack on Elijah Cummings, phrased in part as an attack on the district Cummings represents.[1] I don’t know how much of this is really important because Trump will say or do something else outrageous to make us forget about this. But the Baltimore Sun editorial board defends the city and concludes:

Finally, while we would not sink to name-calling in the Trumpian manner — or ruefully point out that he failed to spell the congressman’s name correctly (it’s Cummings, not Cumming) — we would tell the most dishonest man to ever occupy the Oval Office, the mocker of war heroes, the gleeful grabber of women’s private parts, the serial bankrupter of businesses, the useful idiot of Vladimir Putin and the guy who insisted there are “good people” among murderous neo-Nazis that he’s still not fooling most Americans into believing he’s even slightly competent in his current post. Or that he possesses a scintilla of integrity. Better to have some vermin living in your neighborhood than to be one.[2]

The tweet and the editorial both allude to Trump’s previous outrages. These are legion. Immediately before this, we were upset about “send her back” and his racist attacks on the “squad.”[3] And before that, we were upset about concentration camps.[4] See the pattern?

Meanwhile, a few more neoliberals signed on for impeachment.[5] We’re watching a train wreck here as Trump maintains the support of his base by infuriating more and more others. This can’t go on forever, but I also have to admit that it’s gone on far longer than I thought possible. Yes, that should be frightening in itself, but when I’m perplexed as I am, I’m also looking for theoretical insight—and right now, I don’t even quite know how I should be phrasing the question.

Baltimore Sun, “Better to have a few rats than to be one,” July 27, 2019, https://www.baltimoresun.com/opinion/editorial/bs-ed-0728-trump-baltimore-20190727-k6ac4yvnpvcczlaexdfglifada-story.html

Kyle Cheney, “With Sunday surge, nearly half of House Democrats back impeachment inquiry,” Politico, July 28, 2019, https://www.politico.com/story/2019/07/28/democrats-trump-impeachment-1438519


Brexit

There is a new blog post entitled, “A sociological and sociopathic magical thinking.”

Christopher Hope, “Boris Johnson to unveil biggest ad campaign since Second World War to prepare for ‘no deal,’” Telegraph, July 28, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/07/28/boris-johnsons-100million-brexit-ad-campaign/

Lisa O’Carroll and Rowena Mason, “Johnson told no-deal Brexit will crush domestic policy plans,” Guardian, July 28, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/28/boris-johnson-ifg-no-deal-brexit-crush-domestic-policy-plans

Karla Adam and William Booth, “Could Boris Johnson’s ‘no-deal’ Brexit break up the United Kingdom?” Washington Post, July 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/could-boris-johnsons-no-deal-brexit-crack-up-the-united-kingdom/2019/07/29/b871ebac-b1e6-11e9-acc8-1d847bacca73_story.html


Mitch McConnell

I don’t know but it seems to me that if you can only point to weak actions to resist Russian interference and have to resort to a claim of ‘McCarthyism’ to defend yourself against charges of being a Russian agent,[6] you might be a Russian agent.

Seriously, though, it’s beyond obvious that Mitch McConnell is an absolutely shameless partisan Republican who exemplifies my theory of the morality of polarization.[7] So despite his claim to have “singled out [Vladimir Putin] as our adversary and opposed [him] for nearly 20 years,”[8] he’s quite happy to accept Russian assistance in electing Republicans.

Mairead McArdle, “McConnell Calls Accusations That He’s a Russian Asset ‘Modern-Day McCarthyism,’” National Review, July 29, 2019, https://www.nationalreview.com/news/mitch-mcconnell-calls-accusations-russian-asset-modern-day-mccarthyism/


  1. [1]Politico, “Trump lashes out at Cummings over border detention criticism,” July 27, 2019, https://www.politico.com/story/2019/07/27/trump-lashes-out-at-cummings-over-border-1437939
  2. [2]Baltimore Sun, “Better to have a few rats than to be one,” July 27, 2019, https://www.baltimoresun.com/opinion/editorial/bs-ed-0728-trump-baltimore-20190727-k6ac4yvnpvcczlaexdfglifada-story.html
  3. [3]Noah Bierman, “Trump seeks to disavow ‘send her back’ chant at his rally,” Los Angeles Times, July 18, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2019-07-17/trump-new-chant-send-her-back; Eric Cortellessa, “Liberal US Jews say Trump is weaponizing Israel to defend his racist tweets,” Times of Israel, July 16, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/liberal-us-jews-say-trump-weaponizing-israel-to-defend-racist-tweets/; Michael Luo, “Trump’s Racist Tweets, and the Question of Who Belongs in America,” New Yorker, July 15, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/trumps-racist-tweets-and-the-question-of-who-belongs-in-america; Ashley Parker, “How a racist tweet became a Trump rally chant in three short days,” Washington Post, July 18, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-a-racist-tweet-became-a-trump-rally-chant-in-three-short-days/2019/07/18/bd81b798-a968-11e9-9214-246e594de5d5_story.html; Salvador Rizzo, “Trump falsely claims he tried to stop ‘Send her back!’ chants about Rep. Ilhan Omar,” Washington Post, July 18, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/07/18/trump-falsely-claims-he-tried-stop-send-her-back-chants-about-rep-ilhan-omar/; Adam Serwer, “Trump Tells America What Kind of Nationalist He Is,” Atlantic, July 15, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/07/trumps-white-nationalist-attack-four-congresswomen/594019/; John Wagner, Mike DeBonis, and Colby Itkowitz, “A divided House votes for resolution condemning Trump’s racist remarks,” Washington Post, July 16, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-lashes-out-again-at-minority-lawmakers-as-house-prepares-to-condemn-his-racist-tweets/2019/07/16/bca3afa4-a7b3-11e9-a3a6-ab670962db05_story.html; John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, “Trump vows congresswomen ‘can’t get away with’ criticizing U.S.,” Washington Post, July 19, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/a-day-after-distancing-himself-from-hostile-chant-trump-criticizes-media-for-its-coverage-of-his-rally/2019/07/19/9c094c16-aa12-11e9-9214-246e594de5d5_story.html
  4. [4]Priscilla Alvarez, “Lawmakers, including Ocasio-Cortez, lash out over conditions following border facility tours,” CNN, July 2, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/01/politics/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-clint-texas-facility/index.html; Josh Dawsey and Colby Itkowitz, “‘This is tough stuff’: At Texas detention facility, Pence sees hundreds of migrants crammed with no beds,” Washington Post, July 12, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/pence-tours-detention-facilities-at-the-border-defends-administrations-treatment-of-migrants/2019/07/12/993f54e0-a4bc-11e9-b8c8-75dae2607e60_story.html; 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; Adam Harris, “An Astonishing Government Report on Conditions at the Border,” Atlantic, July 3, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2019/07/government-report-details-inhumane-conditions-migrant-facilities/593242/; 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; 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; Sam Levin, “‘Happy hunting!’ Immigration agents swapped cheery messages about raids, records reveal,” Guardian, July 3, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jul/03/ice-us-immigration-messages-raids; Katie Mettler, Mike DeBonis, and Reis Thebault, “Border agents confiscated lawmakers’ phones. Joaquin Castro captured photo and video anyway,” Washington Post, July 2, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/07/02/ocasio-cortez-says-dispute-with-border-patrol-agents-started-after-one-tried-take-stealth-selfie/; Geneva Sands and Nick Valencia, “2nd Customs and Border Protection-connected secret Facebook group shows mocking images,” CNN, July 5, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/05/politics/cbp-second-facebook-group-images/index.html; Jacob Soboroff and Julia Ainsley, “Migrant kids in overcrowded Arizona border station allege sex assault, retaliation from U.S. agents,” NBC News, July 9, 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/immigration/migrant-kids-overcrowded-arizona-border-station-allege-sex-assault-retaliation-n1027886; A. C. Thompson, “Inside the Secret Border Patrol Facebook Group Where Agents Joke About Migrant Deaths and Post Sexist Memes,” ProPublica, July 1, 2019, https://www.propublica.org/article/secret-border-patrol-facebook-group-agents-joke-about-migrant-deaths-post-sexist-memes
  5. [5]Kyle Cheney, “With Sunday surge, nearly half of House Democrats back impeachment inquiry,” Politico, July 28, 2019, https://www.politico.com/story/2019/07/28/democrats-trump-impeachment-1438519
  6. [6]Mairead McArdle, “McConnell Calls Accusations That He’s a Russian Asset ‘Modern-Day McCarthyism,’” National Review, July 29, 2019, https://www.nationalreview.com/news/mitch-mcconnell-calls-accusations-russian-asset-modern-day-mccarthyism/
  7. [7]David Benfell, “The morality of polarization,” Not Housebroken, September 21, 2018, https://disunitedstates.org/2018/09/21/the-morality-of-polarization/
  8. [8]Mairead McArdle, “McConnell Calls Accusations That He’s a Russian Asset ‘Modern-Day McCarthyism,’” National Review, July 29, 2019, https://www.nationalreview.com/news/mitch-mcconnell-calls-accusations-russian-asset-modern-day-mccarthyism/

Ramifications

There is a new blog post entitled, “Dear Google Maps (@GoogleMaps), you are intolerable in Pittsburgh.”


Brexit

27_07:45:35-2
Uncredited and undated image via the Telegraph.[1] The depicted sign presumably was designed prior to the two Brexit deadline extensions.[2]

It is hard to say how Brexit will play out. But Gwynne Dyer suggested that Boris Johnson may be the last prime minister of the United Kingdom.[3]

Johnson affirmed a commitment to the Good Friday agreement, which mostly brought an end to “the troubles,” sectarian violence between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland.[4] But “no deal” may mean Johnson is compelled to shred that agreement by restoring direct rule in Northern Ireland[5] and the Irish prime minister said that the question of Irish unification would inevitably arise.[6]

Scottish politicians, who came up a long ways short in their first attempt,[7] are seeking a second referendum on independence.[8] Dyer notes of Scots that “TWO-THIRDS [emphasis in original] . . . voted Remain.”[9]

Scottish and Northern Irish secession would leave England, Wales, and, apparently, a very disappointed queen.[10]

Peter Foster and Camilla Tominey, “Boris Johnson warned that ‘no deal’ Brexit will require return of ‘direct rule’ in Northern Ireland,” Telegraph, July 26, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/07/26/boris-johnson-warned-no-deal-brexit-will-require-return-direct/

Camilla Tominey, “Jacob Rees-Mogg dares Remainer rebels to revoke Article 50 as it’s the ‘only way to stop Brexit,’” Telegraph, July 26, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/07/26/jacob-rees-mogg-dares-remainer-rebels-revoke-article-50-way/

Conor Humphries, “Irish PM says hard Brexit would raise issue of Irish unification,” Telegraph, July 27, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu-ireland-nireland-idUSKCN1UL280


Donald Trump

Are we sure that Donald Trump is clear that Baltimore is part of the U.S.?

Formally, I should comment that Trump’s tweets continue a pattern, indulged in by many politicians, of blaming victims while eliding his own and his administration’s culpability in unnecessarily detaining migrants and placing them in concentration camps along the southern border while willfully enabling abusive guards and creating abhorrent conditions in those camps.[11] Prior to these actions, the ‘crisis’ existed only largely as consequences of U.S. policy, namely, so-called “free” trade and the “war on drugs.”[12] We still need to address the “push” factors that drive so many people from home. Meanwhile:

Politico, “Trump lashes out at Cummings over border detention criticism,” July 27, 2019, https://www.politico.com/story/2019/07/27/trump-lashes-out-at-cummings-over-border-1437939


  1. [1]Peter Foster and Camilla Tominey, “Boris Johnson warned that ‘no deal’ Brexit will require return of ‘direct rule’ in Northern Ireland,” Telegraph, July 26, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/07/26/boris-johnson-warned-no-deal-brexit-will-require-return-direct/
  2. [2]Daniel Boffey and Rowena Mason, “Theresa May agrees to October Brexit as Donald Tusk warns UK ‘don’t waste this time,’” Guardian, April 10, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/apr/11/may-agrees-to-october-brexit-after-franco-german-carve-up; James Rothwell et al, “Brexit latest news: EU leaders offer UK delay to May 22 – if
    MPs back Theresa May’s deal,” Telegraph, March 22, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/03/21/brexit-latest-newstheresa-may-appeal-eu-leaders-time-article/
  3. [3]Gwynne Dyer, “Boris Johnson is quite possibly the last prime minister of the United Kingdom,” Hamilton Spectator, July 24, 2019, https://www.thespec.com/opinion-story/9515926-gwynne-dyer-boris-johnson-is-quite-possibly-the-last-prime-minister-of-the-united-kingdom/
  4. [4]Heather Stewart, Lisa O’Carroll, and Daniel Boffey, “Brussels repels Boris Johnson’s quest for new Brexit deal,” Guardian, July 25, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/25/brussels-throws-out-boris-johnsons-plans-to-alter-brexit-deal
  5. [5]Peter Foster and Camilla Tominey, “Boris Johnson warned that ‘no deal’ Brexit will require return of ‘direct rule’ in Northern Ireland,” Telegraph, July 26, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/07/26/boris-johnson-warned-no-deal-brexit-will-require-return-direct/
  6. [6]Peter Foster and Camilla Tominey, “Boris Johnson warned that ‘no deal’ Brexit will require return of ‘direct rule’ in Northern Ireland,” Telegraph, July 26, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/07/26/boris-johnson-warned-no-deal-brexit-will-require-return-direct/
  7. [7]British Broadcasting Corporation, “Scottish referendum: Scotland votes ‘No’ to independence,” September 19, 2014, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-29270441
  8. [8]Anna Mikhailova et al, “Michel Barnier rejects Boris Johnson’s ‘unacceptable’ Brexit plan,” Telegraph, July 25, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/07/25/boris-johnson-new-prime-minister-cabinet-parliament-brexit-latest/
  9. [9]Gwynne Dyer, “Boris Johnson is quite possibly the last prime minister of the United Kingdom,” Hamilton Spectator, July 24, 2019, https://www.thespec.com/opinion-story/9515926-gwynne-dyer-boris-johnson-is-quite-possibly-the-last-prime-minister-of-the-united-kingdom/
  10. [10]British Broadcasting Corporation, “Scottish referendum: Scotland votes ‘No’ to independence,” September 19, 2014, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-29270441
  11. [11]Priscilla Alvarez, “Lawmakers, including Ocasio-Cortez, lash out over conditions following border facility tours,” CNN, July 2, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/01/politics/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-clint-texas-facility/index.html; Josh Dawsey and Colby Itkowitz, “‘This is tough stuff’: At Texas detention facility, Pence sees hundreds of migrants crammed with no beds,” Washington Post, July 12, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/pence-tours-detention-facilities-at-the-border-defends-administrations-treatment-of-migrants/2019/07/12/993f54e0-a4bc-11e9-b8c8-75dae2607e60_story.html; 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; Adam Harris, “An Astonishing Government Report on Conditions at the Border,” Atlantic, July 3, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2019/07/government-report-details-inhumane-conditions-migrant-facilities/593242/; 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; 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; Sam Levin, “‘Happy hunting!’ Immigration agents swapped cheery messages about raids, records reveal,” Guardian, July 3, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jul/03/ice-us-immigration-messages-raids; Kate Linthicum, “U.S. border authorities hold migrant families in a pen under an El Paso bridge,” Los Angeles Times, March 29, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/world/mexico-americas/la-na-asylum-migrants-el-paso-camp-20190329-htmlstory.html; Katie Mettler, Mike DeBonis, and Reis Thebault, “Border agents confiscated lawmakers’ phones. Joaquin Castro captured photo and video anyway,” Washington Post, July 2, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/07/02/ocasio-cortez-says-dispute-with-border-patrol-agents-started-after-one-tried-take-stealth-selfie/; Geneva Sands and Nick Valencia, “2nd Customs and Border Protection-connected secret Facebook group shows mocking images,” CNN, July 5, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/05/politics/cbp-second-facebook-group-images/index.html; Jacob Soboroff and Julia Ainsley, “Migrant kids in overcrowded Arizona border station allege sex assault, retaliation from U.S. agents,” NBC News, July 9, 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/immigration/migrant-kids-overcrowded-arizona-border-station-allege-sex-assault-retaliation-n1027886; Jake Tapper, “Trump pushed to close El Paso border, told admin officials to resume family separations and agents not to admit migrants,” CNN, April 9, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/08/politics/trump-family-separation-el-paso-kirstjen-nielsen/index.html
  12. [12]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).

It’s too late

Brexit

There is a new blog post entitled, “Okay, so really now, assuming they choose to do so, how do the British avoid a hard Brexit?

Tom Newton Dunn and Nick Gutteridge, “PM Boris goes on the attack against EU and Corbyn on Commons debut,” Sun, July 26, 2019, https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/brexit/9586864/pm-boris-goes-on-the-attack-against-eu-and-corbyn-on-commons-debut/

Heather Stewart, Lisa O’Carroll, and Daniel Boffey, “Brussels repels Boris Johnson’s quest for new Brexit deal,” Guardian, July 25, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/25/brussels-throws-out-boris-johnsons-plans-to-alter-brexit-deal


Climate Crisis

Will Higginbotham, “Are You Climate Homesick? He’s Got a Word for That,” Ozy, July 26, 2019, https://www.ozy.com/rising-stars/are-you-climate-homesick-hes-got-a-word-for-that/95504


Migration

Robert Barnes, “Supreme Court says Trump can proceed with plan to spend military funds for border wall construction,” Washington Post, July 26, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-says-trump-can-proceed-with-plan-to-spend-military-funds-for-border-wall-construction/2019/07/26/f2a63d48-aa55-11e9-a3a6-ab670962db05_story.html


The European Union insists on an Irish backstop. Boris Johnson insists he won’t tolerate one.

Brexit

Boris Johnson does not have a majority for “no deal.”[1] But we knew that already. This is largely the same parliament that didn’t have a majority for any option.[2] The changes that have occurred and are occurring can only make Johnson’s life more difficult.[3]

In a column this Sunday, Johnson embraced the legacy of the American moon landing. If astronauts “could use hand-knit computer codes to make a frictionless reentry to the Earth’s atmosphere,” he wrote, “we can solve the problem of frictionless trade at the Northern Ireland border.”[4]

There is exactly one way that analogy works: “You can’t BS your way into space.”[5] And you can’t bullshit your way to a deal with the European Union either:[6]

Now, under a Johnson government, Britain could crash out of the E.U. without a divorce deal in place this Halloween, unleashing untold horrors on the British economy. Westminster watchers puzzle over the profound impediments still facing Johnson in Parliament, the sharpening of knives by rivals within his own party and the probable humiliating concessions he may have to make to get European counterparts to consider renegotiating Britain’s terms of withdrawal.[7]

But as it has been, the legal default is “no deal”[8] and Johnson has indicated his government will be preparing for it while sticking to his magical thinking that there are alternatives to the Irish backstop.[9]

And indeed, utterly unsurprisingly, Michael Barnier, the European Union’s chief negotiator has already vetoed Johnson’s plan. That doesn’t seem to have clarified matters for the true believers who continue to cling to their delusions, but it should for a lot of other folks in Parliament and for British subjects who will bear the predicted recession that follows from “no deal.” It certainly seems to have for Scottish politicians who are now looking to a second referendum on independence.[10]

Rajeev Syal, “‘Summer’s day massacre’ may spell backbench trouble for Boris Johnson,” Guardian, July 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/24/philip-hammond-quits-johnson-fully-aligned-chancellor-gauke-stewart

Anna Mikhailova et al, “Michel Barnier rejects Boris Johnson’s ‘unacceptable’ Brexit plan,” Telegraph, July 25, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/07/25/boris-johnson-new-prime-minister-cabinet-parliament-brexit-latest/


James Comey

My dissertation defense was not like that at all. It’s interesting to me that, I guess, many are. Academia is a weird place but the Human Science program I did my Ph.D. in was about honest scholarship and I remain profoundly grateful to Joann McAllister (erstwhile department chair and a member of my committee), Bob McAndrews (my advisor and committee chair), and other professors in that program, now still being “taught out,” but well on its way to being defunct, for their honesty and their brilliance. (My comments here would be incomplete without a similar acknowledgment of Marc Pilisuk, not of the Human Science program, but the third member of my committee, also brilliant, also honest, and to whom I am also profoundly grateful. I honestly cannot imagine having a better committee than the one I had.)

All in all, [Robert] Mueller’s low-key performance probably didn’t give either the majority or the minority what they might have hoped for. But the incomplete nature of his testimony was, in a way, the point. At the hearings’ end, [Adam] Schiff closed by noting the many things Mueller had not done: he had not told Congress whether he would have indicted the president in the absence of the OLC memo; he had not said whether the president should be impeached; he had not spoken to the findings of any counterintelligence investigation or of any investigation into corrupt financial dealings within the administration. In each instance, Schiff said, Mueller had acted properly; the responsibility was not the former special counsel’s, but that of Congress. Schiff’s remarks were a kind of mustering call for the House, an acknowledgement to Mueller that the former special counsel’s role was over and that he had successfully passed the baton to the legislative branch.[11]

The consensus following Robert Mueller’s testimony is that it changed very little and that his performance was, well,[12] as Jill Wine-Banks put it, “not made for TV.”[13] The latter is a disappointment but the former was to be expected:

There has been discussion about an appearance before Congress. Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report. It contains our findings and analysis, and the reasons for the decisions we made. We chose those words carefully, and the work speaks for itself.

The report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress.[14]

An interesting legal argument for impeachment to emerge from the hearings is that Donald Trump would run out the statute of limitations on an obstruction of justice charge simply by remaining in office if re-elected next year.[15]

Interesting but ultimately meaningless: Barack Obama demonstrated what the neoliberal party will do with executive branch criminality under a previous administration: Refuse to prosecute.[16] The neoliberals will chant their mantra about healing a deeply divided country while human beings continue to suffer from the crimes committed against them, then embrace and extend that criminality.[17] And we’ll all be supposed to sing Kumbaya.

One thing we won’t do is sing Kumbaya. It won’t work that way. It never does. But if there’s one thing neoliberals never do, it’s learn. Because learning would require them to abandon their oh so precious ideologies. And in this case, the precedent that would follow from such learning might expose one of their own should a subsequent Republican administration find that a neoliberal president was criminal, which they all are, but generally not in ways that any Republican would ever prosecute under any circumstances.

Another bit to emerge is that Mueller believes Russia is working to interfere in U.S. elections again in 2020[18] and that other countries are developing the capabilities to interfere in U.S. elections.[19] Given the U.S. record in other countries, including Palestine with Hamas, Guatemala with a coup, what we’ve been trying to do in Venezuela for years, and many, many more, to be so disturbed about this is nothing short of absolute hypocrisy.

It’s the political science theory of realism at work, in which countries act not according to any high-minded principle but rather in their own interest. It’s an ugly and flawed theory, but many politicians, including Donald Trump, around the world take it as their lodestar: Other countries will interfere in U.S. elections, just as the U.S. does in theirs.

Finally, we should note that Mueller’s condemnation of Wikileaks, and Trump’s embrace of the organization while a candidate,[20] was in part for exposing how Hillary Clinton had co-opted the Democratic National Committee, sinking Bernie Sanders’ bid for the 2016 nomination.[21] Neoliberals really don’t want a full accounting.

Scott R. Anderson et al., “Mueller’s Testimony: The Baton Passes to Congress,” Lawfare, July 24, 2019, https://www.lawfareblog.com/muellers-testimony-baton-passes-congress

Politico, “‘A New Legal Argument for Impeachment,’” July 24, 2019, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/07/24/mueller-testimony-legal-experts-analysis-227419


Migration

Maria Sacchetti and Spencer S. Hsu, “Federal judge in California halts Trump’s latest asylum ban,” Washington Post, July 24, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/legal-issues/federal-judge-allows-trump-administration-rule-restricting-asylum-access-to-continue/2019/07/24/eec83cfe-adba-11e9-8e77-03b30bc29f64_story.html


Lunch shaming

It turns out there’s a federal program to pay for those school lunches in poor enough districts. The Pennsylvania school district that sent those threatening letters and then initially refused donations to cover lunch debts[22]  qualifies.[23]

The problem here for me is that I don’t care nearly so much about what somebody does after they’ve been shamed as I do about what they do before being shamed. There is no apology, no reparation, no restitution, and no explanation that makes what the Wyoming Valley West School District did acceptable or in any way excusable. These people should never be allowed any control over any children again anywhere. I still want their heads.

Susan Scutti, “Pennsylvania school lunch debt furor ends with an apology and an announcement: free lunch for all,” CNN, July 25, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/25/us/pennsylvania-lunch-debt-furor-apology/index.html


  1. [1]Rajeev Syal, “‘Summer’s day massacre’ may spell backbench trouble for Boris Johnson,” Guardian, July 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/24/philip-hammond-quits-johnson-fully-aligned-chancellor-gauke-stewart
  2. [2]Heather Stewart, Jessica Elgot, and Rowena Mason, “Brexit: May calls for cabinet showdown as MPs reject all options,” Guardian, April 2, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/apr/01/brexit-deadlock-continues-as-mps-fail-to-find-compromise
  3. [3]Rajeev Syal, “‘Summer’s day massacre’ may spell backbench trouble for Boris Johnson,” Guardian, July 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/24/philip-hammond-quits-johnson-fully-aligned-chancellor-gauke-stewart
  4. [4]Ishaan Tharoor, “Boris Johnson’s rise could be a preamble to his fall,” Washington Post, July 23, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2019/07/23/boris-johnsons-rise-could-be-preamble-his-fall/
  5. [5]Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, “Another NASA moonshot? Nope. You can’t BS your way to space,” ZDNet, July 19, 2019, https://www.zdnet.com/article/another-nasa-moonshote-you-cant-bs-your-way-to-space/
  6. [6]Peter Foster and James Rothwell, “Tepid Barnier welcomes Boris Johnson as EU takes ‘wait and see’ approach to Brexit talks,” Telegraph, July 23, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/07/23/tepid-barnier-welcomes-boris-johnson-eu-takes-wait-see-approach/
  7. [7]Ishaan Tharoor, “Boris Johnson’s rise could be a preamble to his fall,” Washington Post, July 23, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2019/07/23/boris-johnsons-rise-could-be-preamble-his-fall/
  8. [8]Jack Maidment, “Brexit latest news: 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/; Peter Walker, “Could parliament’s latest amendment stop no-deal Brexit?” Guardian, July 18, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/18/could-parliaments-latest-amendment-stop-no-deal-brexit
  9. [9]Steven Swinford, “Boris Johnson: preparing for no-deal Brexit is top priority,” Times, July 25, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/boris-johnson-preparing-for-no-deal-brexit-is-top-priority-n8j9lffph; see also 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; British Broadcasting Corporation, “Irish deputy PM Coveney: No deal Brexit would mean customs checks in Ireland,” July 21, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-politics-49062367/irish-deputy-pm-coveney-no-deal-brexit-would-mean-customs-checks-in-ireland
  10. [10]Anna Mikhailova et al, “Michel Barnier rejects Boris Johnson’s ‘unacceptable’ Brexit plan,” Telegraph, July 25, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/07/25/boris-johnson-new-prime-minister-cabinet-parliament-brexit-latest/
  11. [11]Scott R. Anderson et al., “Mueller’s Testimony: The Baton Passes to Congress,” Lawfare, July 24, 2019, https://www.lawfareblog.com/muellers-testimony-baton-passes-congress
  12. [12]Politico, “‘A New Legal Argument for Impeachment,’” July 24, 2019, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/07/24/mueller-testimony-legal-experts-analysis-227419
  13. [13]Jill Wine-Banks in Politico, “‘A New Legal Argument for Impeachment,’” July 24, 2019, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/07/24/mueller-testimony-legal-experts-analysis-227419
  14. [14]Department of Justice, “Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III Makes Statement on Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election,” May 29, 2019, https://www.justice.gov/opa/speech/special-counsel-robert-s-mueller-iii-makes-statement-investigation-russian-interference
  15. [15]Politico, “‘A New Legal Argument for Impeachment,’” July 24, 2019, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/07/24/mueller-testimony-legal-experts-analysis-227419
  16. [16]Glenn Greenwald, “Obama’s justice department grants final immunity to Bush’s CIA torturers,” Guardian, August 31, 2012, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/31/obama-justice-department-immunity-bush-cia-torturer; David Johnston and Charlie Savage, “Obama signals his reluctance to investigate Bush programs,” New York Times, January 2, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/12/world/americas/12iht-12inquire.19265701.html
  17. [17]David Benfell, “Obama and the Power of Prayer,” Not Housebroken, January 20, 2011, https://disunitedstates.org/?p=2015; David Benfell, “Raining on Terrell’s parade,” Not Housebroken, December 17, 2012, https://disunitedstates.org/?p=5266; David Benfell, “Oy Vey: Paleoconservatives, Neoconservatives, and Alleged Anti-Semitism,” April 1, 2014, https://parts-unknown.org/wp/2014/04/01/oy-vey-paleoconservatives-neoconservatives-and-alleged-anti-semitism/
  18. [18]Politico, “‘A New Legal Argument for Impeachment,’” July 24, 2019, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/07/24/mueller-testimony-legal-experts-analysis-227419
  19. [19]Scott R. Anderson et al., “Mueller’s Testimony: The Baton Passes to Congress,” Lawfare, July 24, 2019, https://www.lawfareblog.com/muellers-testimony-baton-passes-congress
  20. [20]Scott R. Anderson et al., “Mueller’s Testimony: The Baton Passes to Congress,” Lawfare, July 24, 2019, https://www.lawfareblog.com/muellers-testimony-baton-passes-congress
  21. [21]Clare Foran, “Unity Won’t Come Easily for Democrats,” Atlantic, May 24, 2016, http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/05/bernie-sanders-hillary-clinton-democratic-party-platform/484067/; Kevin Gosztola, “Establishment Collectively Stunned To See Citizens Reject Rigged Democratic Primary,” Common Dreams, May 20, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/views/2016/05/20/establishment-collectively-stunned-see-citizens-reject-rigged-democratic-primary; Lauren McCauley, “‘Rigged’ 2016 Election Has Voters Feeling Helpless, Unheard, and Ashamed,” Common Dreams, May 31, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/05/31/rigged-2016-election-has-voters-feeling-helpless-unheard-and-ashamed; Amy Sherman, “Democratic debates set to ‘maximize’ exposure, Wasserman Schultz claims, but evidence is dubious,” Politifact, January 20, 2016, http://www.politifact.com/florida/statements/2016/jan/20/debbie-wasserman-schultz/democratic-debates-maximize-exposure-debbie-wasser/; Byron Tau and Colleen McCain Nelson, “Hacked Emails Show Clinton Links With Democratic Party,” Wall Street Journal, October 12, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/hacked-emails-show-clinton-links-with-democratic-party-1476315158; Ben Ptashnik and Victoria Collier, “Was the Democratic Primary Just Manipulated, or Was It Stolen?” Truthout, June 13, 2016, http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/36408-was-the-democratic-primary-just-manipulated-or-was-it-stolen; Greg Sargent, “It’s on: We’re getting four more Democratic debates,” Washington Post, February 3, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2016/02/03/its-on-looks-like-were-getting-four-more-democratic-debates/; Steven Shepard, “Democratic insiders give low marks to Wasserman Schultz,” Politico, May 27, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/05/debbie-wasserman-schultz-democratic-insiders-223631; Wall Street Journal, “Bernie Sanders Gets No Respect,” March 27, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/bernie-sanders-gets-no-respect-1459117222; Katie Bo Williams, “WikiLeaks email suggests Brazile sent debate question to Clinton camp,” Hill, October 31, 2016, http://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/303556-emails-brazile-leaked-debate-question-to-clinton-camp; Megan R. Wilson, “DNC rolls back restrictions on lobbyist donations,” Hill, February 12, 2016, http://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/business-a-lobbying/269266-dnc-rolls-back-restrictions-on-lobbyist-donations
  22. [22]Bobby Allyn, “Offers Pour In To Cover Pa. Students’ Meal Debt, But School Officials Not Interested,” National Public Radio, July 24, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/07/24/744744051/offers-pour-in-to-cover-pa-students-meal-debt-but-school-officials-not-intereste; Bobby Allyn, “Pa. School District Reverses Course And Will Now Accept Donations To Cover Lunch Debt,” National Public Radio, July 24, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/07/24/745046246/pa-school-district-reverses-course-and-will-now-accept-donations-to-cover-lunch-; Amir Vera, “Pennsylvania school district tells parents to pay their lunch debt, or their kids will go into foster care,” CNN, July 20, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/20/us/pennsylvania-school-lunch-debt-trnd/index.html
  23. [23]Susan Scutti, “Pennsylvania school lunch debt furor ends with an apology and an announcement: free lunch for all,” CNN, July 25, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/25/us/pennsylvania-lunch-debt-furor-apology/index.html

Meet the new Brexit, same as the old Brexit

Apologies to the Who, whose song, “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” supplies the lyric this post’s title is based on.


I’ve cleaned up the HTML, possibly exposing one or more videos that might have been lost before in the comparison, in my last blog post entitled, “Heil Trump.” I’ve also added citations for those videos now.


Brexit

Within seconds of the result [Boris Johnson’s victory] being announced, Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator said he would work “constructively” with Mr Johnson to “facilitate the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement”.

There was no mention of any alternatives to that agreement despite Mr Johnson’s repeated warnings during the campaign that the Withdrawal Agreement was “dead” after being rejected three times by the British Parliament.[1]

Theresa May’s deal was dead from the start and the alternatives are what they’ve always been: An extremely unlikely British acquiescence, thereby remaining within the European Union; or the legal default: no deal.[2] But Boris Johnson was voted in on what seems to amount to magical thinking:

Now, Johnson gets the chance to prove that the manure in Britain smells different. He has vowed to push forward Brexit, break free of the tyranny of the European Union and lead a liberated Britain to its former global greatness. His supporters are willing to look beyond a cringeworthy record of gaffes, sordid peccadilloes and soft bigotry. Most analysts, though, reckon that he is in for a rude awakening.[3]

A senior source close the EU negotiations said that Europe would “wait and see” how Mr Johnson pitched his negotiation once installed in Number 10, but added that hard talk of ‘no deal’ and ‘binning the backstop’ would quickly see the EU disengaging.

“Boris Johnson has been many things to many people, so let’s wait and see, but campaign hasn’t been promising at all,” the source added.[4]

Other European politicians said much the same or worse.[5] Brexit remains what it was.

Peter Foster and James Rothwell, “Tepid Barnier welcomes Boris Johnson as EU takes ‘wait and see’ approach to Brexit talks,” Telegraph, July 23, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/07/23/tepid-barnier-welcomes-boris-johnson-eu-takes-wait-see-approach/


Donald Trump

So you thought Donald Trump was moving the country in an authoritarian direction (that it always has been authoritarian notwithstanding)? Perhaps that’s because he might think he’s a dictator.[6]

The constitutional theory of a very powerful president, with absolute control over the executive branch and all its departments, by the way, is known as the unitary executive. As one might expect, this theory, whether expressly or not, is enormously attractive to people once they are president.[7] But even this is less sweeping than Trump’s claim of “total power,” although he usually asserts it in the context of the Robert Mueller probe,[8] conducted under the auspices of the Department of Justice, an executive branch department.

Michael Brice-Saddler, “While bemoaning Mueller probe, Trump falsely says the Constitution gives him ‘the right to do whatever I want,’” Washington Post, July 23, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/07/23/trump-falsely-tells-auditorium-full-teens-constitution-gives-him-right-do-whatever-i-want/


Lunch shaming

So a school district here in Pennsylvania garnered national attention of the very wrong kind as well as attention, also of the very wrong kind, from the local agency in charge of foster placements when it threatened to put children in foster care over school lunch debt.[9]

It also attracted attention of the sort that wanted to help.[10]

But then it seemed if these generous sorts could even get through to talk to someone about helping with the kids’ school lunch debt, the response was rude.[11]

“This really isn’t about the money,” [Todd Carmichael] concludes. “I think it’s about teaching people who are struggling some sort of moral lesson they need to learn, no matter what the consequences are.”[12]

I don’t know how else to interpret this. And frankly, I think I need to see some heads roll.

Because it’s bad enough when schoolchildren bully other schoolchildren. I have lots and lots of experience of being on the receiving end of that. When school officials are also doing it, something needs to happen. Now. If not yesterday.

In the meantime, national coverage seems to have shamed the district into accepting the donations.[13] Heads still need to roll. Because none of this—absolutely none of this—should ever have happened in the first place. I don’t care what the district’s excuse is: It shouldn’t have happened and it is completely unacceptable that it did.

Bobby Allyn, “Offers Pour In To Cover Pa. Students’ Meal Debt, But School Officials Not Interested,” National Public Radio, July 24, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/07/24/744744051/offers-pour-in-to-cover-pa-students-meal-debt-but-school-officials-not-intereste

Bobby Allyn, “Pa. School District Reverses Course And Will Now Accept Donations To Cover Lunch Debt,” National Public Radio, July 24, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/07/24/745046246/pa-school-district-reverses-course-and-will-now-accept-donations-to-cover-lunch-


Migrants

Given the culture in evidence and the abuse it has spawned,[14] this claim needs to be scrutinized much more carefully:

“Not only did I self-report, I turned my entire Facebook account over,” [Customs and Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost] said before a House Appropriations subcommittee. “I gave them my log-in and my password.”

Provost denied knowing of the “highly offensive and absolutely unacceptable posts” ahead of the ProPublica investigative report that first exposed the Facebook group dubbed “I’m 10-15.” The name refers to Border Patrol code 10-15 for “aliens in custody.” Earlier this month, The Intercept reported Provost was a member of the Facebook group.[15]

We simply cannot accept claims of “a few rotten apples” at face value. The rot almost certainly pervades the agencies, the Department of Homeland Security, and their administrations.[16]

Geneva Sands and Kate Sullivan, “Border Patrol chief admits being member of controversial Facebook group,” CNN, July 24, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/24/politics/border-patrol-chief-controversial-facebook-group/index.html


Gig economy

Doordash’s claim that compensation model changes should not affect worker earnings[17] will be familiar at least to Uber and Lyft drivers and begs the question of why, if this is the case, they’re being introduced in the first place. So of course, many drivers are not convinced, particularly as they see their earnings drop, year after year after year.

Tom McKay, “DoorDash Says It’s Very Sorry You Noticed Its Tip-Skimming Scheme,” Gizmodo, July 24, 2019, https://gizmodo.com/doordash-says-it-s-very-sorry-you-noticed-its-tip-skimm-1836652047


James Comey

Robert Mueller testified today before two committees of the House of Representatives. I’m seeing lots of headlines and a lot of hot takes, only some of which seem to depend on partisan leanings. I realize they all need to get their stories out fast, but I’m still waiting for something sane.


  1. [1]Peter Foster and James Rothwell, “Tepid Barnier welcomes Boris Johnson as EU takes ‘wait and see’ approach to Brexit talks,” Telegraph, July 23, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/07/23/tepid-barnier-welcomes-boris-johnson-eu-takes-wait-see-approach/
  2. [2]Jack Maidment, “Brexit latest news: 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/; Peter Walker, “Could parliament’s latest amendment stop no-deal Brexit?” Guardian, July 18, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/18/could-parliaments-latest-amendment-stop-no-deal-brexit
  3. [3]Ishaan Tharoor, “Boris Johnson’s rise could be a preamble to his fall,” Washington Post, July 23, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2019/07/23/boris-johnsons-rise-could-be-preamble-his-fall/
  4. [4]Peter Foster and James Rothwell, “Tepid Barnier welcomes Boris Johnson as EU takes ‘wait and see’ approach to Brexit talks,” Telegraph, July 23, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/07/23/tepid-barnier-welcomes-boris-johnson-eu-takes-wait-see-approach/
  5. [5]Peter Foster and James Rothwell, “Tepid Barnier welcomes Boris Johnson as EU takes ‘wait and see’ approach to Brexit talks,” Telegraph, July 23, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/07/23/tepid-barnier-welcomes-boris-johnson-eu-takes-wait-see-approach/
  6. [6]Michael Brice-Saddler, “While bemoaning Mueller probe, Trump falsely says the Constitution gives him ‘the right to do whatever I want,’” Washington Post, July 23, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/07/23/trump-falsely-tells-auditorium-full-teens-constitution-gives-him-right-do-whatever-i-want/
  7. [7]Chris Edelson, “Exploring the Limits of Presidential Power,” American Constitution Society, December 2, 2013, https://www.acslaw.org/expertforum/exploring-the-limits-of-presidential-power/
  8. [8]Michael Brice-Saddler, “While bemoaning Mueller probe, Trump falsely says the Constitution gives him ‘the right to do whatever I want,’” Washington Post, July 23, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/07/23/trump-falsely-tells-auditorium-full-teens-constitution-gives-him-right-do-whatever-i-want/
  9. [9]Amir Vera, “Pennsylvania school district tells parents to pay their lunch debt, or their kids will go into foster care,” CNN, July 20, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/20/us/pennsylvania-school-lunch-debt-trnd/index.html
  10. [10]Bobby Allyn, “Offers Pour In To Cover Pa. Students’ Meal Debt, But School Officials Not Interested,” National Public Radio, July 24, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/07/24/744744051/offers-pour-in-to-cover-pa-students-meal-debt-but-school-officials-not-intereste
  11. [11]Bobby Allyn, “Offers Pour In To Cover Pa. Students’ Meal Debt, But School Officials Not Interested,” National Public Radio, July 24, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/07/24/744744051/offers-pour-in-to-cover-pa-students-meal-debt-but-school-officials-not-intereste
  12. [12]Bobby Allyn, “Offers Pour In To Cover Pa. Students’ Meal Debt, But School Officials Not Interested,” National Public Radio, July 24, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/07/24/744744051/offers-pour-in-to-cover-pa-students-meal-debt-but-school-officials-not-intereste
  13. [13]Bobby Allyn, “Pa. School District Reverses Course And Will Now Accept Donations To Cover Lunch Debt,” National Public Radio, July 24, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/07/24/745046246/pa-school-district-reverses-course-and-will-now-accept-donations-to-cover-lunch-
  14. [14]Priscilla Alvarez, “Lawmakers, including Ocasio-Cortez, lash out over conditions following border facility tours,” CNN, July 2, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/01/politics/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-clint-texas-facility/index.html; Josh Dawsey and Colby Itkowitz, “‘This is tough stuff’: At Texas detention facility, Pence sees hundreds of migrants crammed with no beds,” Washington Post, July 12, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/pence-tours-detention-facilities-at-the-border-defends-administrations-treatment-of-migrants/2019/07/12/993f54e0-a4bc-11e9-b8c8-75dae2607e60_story.html; 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; Adam Harris, “An Astonishing Government Report on Conditions at the Border,” Atlantic, July 3, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2019/07/government-report-details-inhumane-conditions-migrant-facilities/593242/; 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; 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; Sam Levin, “‘Happy hunting!’ Immigration agents swapped cheery messages about raids, records reveal,” Guardian, July 3, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jul/03/ice-us-immigration-messages-raids; Katie Mettler, Mike DeBonis, and Reis Thebault, “Border agents confiscated lawmakers’ phones. Joaquin Castro captured photo and video anyway,” Washington Post, July 2, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/07/02/ocasio-cortez-says-dispute-with-border-patrol-agents-started-after-one-tried-take-stealth-selfie/; Geneva Sands and Nick Valencia, “2nd Customs and Border Protection-connected secret Facebook group shows mocking images,” CNN, July 5, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/05/politics/cbp-second-facebook-group-images/index.html; Jacob Soboroff and Julia Ainsley, “Migrant kids in overcrowded Arizona border station allege sex assault, retaliation from U.S. agents,” NBC News, July 9, 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/immigration/migrant-kids-overcrowded-arizona-border-station-allege-sex-assault-retaliation-n1027886; A. C. Thompson, “Inside the Secret Border Patrol Facebook Group Where Agents Joke About Migrant Deaths and Post Sexist Memes,” ProPublica, July 1, 2019, https://www.propublica.org/article/secret-border-patrol-facebook-group-agents-joke-about-migrant-deaths-post-sexist-memes
  15. [15]Geneva Sands and Kate Sullivan, “Border Patrol chief admits being member of controversial Facebook group,” CNN, July 24, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/24/politics/border-patrol-chief-controversial-facebook-group/index.html
  16. [16]Philip Zimbardo, The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil (New York: Random House, 2008).
  17. [17]Tom McKay, “DoorDash Says It’s Very Sorry You Noticed Its Tip-Skimming Scheme,” Gizmodo, July 24, 2019, https://gizmodo.com/doordash-says-it-s-very-sorry-you-noticed-its-tip-skimm-1836652047

As expected, Boris Johnson wins. The rest is a lot less predictable.

Brexit

I’m beginning to wonder about this phrase “senior Tories.” Who, really, are “senior Tories?” Why are these putative “senior Tories” more moderate than some other Tories on Brexit? Is it just Brexit? Or other issues as well? What really is going on with these folks?

It’s the kind of phrase you can’t just take for granted. You need to interrogate it. Because if, for example, all “senior Tories” really means is something like the soft-on-Brexit Theresa May cabinet members, that’s quite a bit different from the connotation of older, more experienced party members or officials.

I searched the archive I’ve been accumulating since I shut down parts-unknown.org and found three hits for “senior Tories” in Guardian articles[1] and one hit in a British Broadcasting Corporation article.[2] So it isn’t just Guardian arbitrariness.

It’s the kind of term that is, by nature, arbitrary. But given its connotation of “older,” “more experienced,” and “wiser,” it shouldn’t just be bandied about lightly. It should be defined.

In the meantime, there is this article by Tom McTague that I guess I should but won’t recommend reading. It is ultimately forgettable because it reaches no conclusions beyond suggesting—here’s a shocker—that Boris Johnson seems narcissistic. It dances around that nonexistent middle space of neither really condemning nor really praising, sympathizing without endorsing. Emulating the vanity of its subject, the article attempts a weird sort of objectivity while refusing to actually analyze but nonetheless pretending insight.[3] It leaves me with an icky feeling.

How about this? Read McTague’s article at your own risk. And don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Tom McTague, “Boris Johnson Meets His Destiny,” Atlantic, July 22, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2019/07/boris-johnson-profile/594379/

William Booth and Karla Adam, “Boris Johnson, Brexit cheerleader, to become British prime minister,” Washington Post, July 23, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/boris-johnson-expected-to-win-british-prime-minister-vote/2019/07/23/0e63fc8e-ac93-11e9-9411-a608f9d0c2d3_story.html

Rowena Mason, “Boris Johnson warned by Tory rebels: ditch no deal or face fight for survival,” Guardian, July 23, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/22/senior-tories-warn-boris-johnson-over-no-deal-brexit

Ruby Mellen, “Boris Johnson, Britain’s incoming prime minister, in his own colorful words,” Washington Post, July 23, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2019/07/23/boris-johnson-britains-incoming-prime-minister-his-own-colorful-words/

Ishaan Tharoor, “Boris Johnson’s rise could be a preamble to his fall,” Washington Post, July 23, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2019/07/23/boris-johnsons-rise-could-be-preamble-his-fall/


Pittsburgh

eus-2019-07-23-08.gifFrom what I can see, the flooding seems to be getting worse as the summer progresses. I assume—remember I’m from California, not Pennsylvania—this is because the soils are saturated. From what I gather, the drainage with underlying sedimentary rock sucks.

Although I have to say, when one of my passengers said that the creeks here can’t handle more than about two inches an hour, I had to respond that in California, they’re in trouble if they get two inches in a day.

The California and Pennsylvania situations really aren’t comparable, which is why I have to hesitate with my remark about saturated soils.

Tony LaRussa And Natasha Lindstrom, “Back-to-back storms pound Allegheny County, prompt emergency rescues,” Tribune-Review, July 22, 2019, https://triblive.com/local/regional/flash-flooding-forces-closure-of-numerous-roads-in-region/


  1. [1]Rowena Mason, “Boris Johnson warned by Tory rebels: ditch no deal or face fight for survival,” Guardian, July 23, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/22/senior-tories-warn-boris-johnson-over-no-deal-brexit; Michael Savage and Toby Helm, “Boris Johnson’s no-deal Brexit plan ‘will trigger early election,’” Guardian, June 15, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/15/boris-johnson-no-deal-brexit-plan-will-trigger-early-election; 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
  2. [2]Nicholas Watt, “Brexit: Scheme to block no deal ‘could involve Queen,’” British Broadcasting Corporation, July 18, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-49040128
  3. [3]Tom McTague, “Boris Johnson Meets His Destiny,” Atlantic, July 22, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2019/07/boris-johnson-profile/594379/
It might as well be the Nazis

It might as well be the Nazis

There is a new blog post entitled, “Heil Trump.”


I have to say, the weather here in Pittsburgh seems a bit extreme. There isn’t just rain, but flash flood warnings (and a lot of them). There aren’t just thunderstorms, but severe thunderstorm warnings. It isn’t just hot, but there’s an excessive heat warning. And so it goes. People don’t talk about it much so I don’t quite know what to make of this.

Last night, as I went to bed, the lightning and thunder started in earnest. Yesterday, as I was driving some folks to Monroeville, the downpour was so intense that 1) people actually slowed down, and 2) I ran the windshield wipers on very fast (it rarely does any good so I generally don’t do this) almost the whole way.

I don’t remember it being like this when I was here for a couple years as a kid, fifty years ago. But there are other differences: The alerts come on my phones now: I always know about the alerts and warnings today where I don’t know if there even was an alert system when I was a kid.


Brexit

The resignations have begun as Boris Johnson, the prime minister-apparent, prepares to take over 10 Downing Street.[1]

William James and Elizabeth Piper, “UK minister quits before Johnson becomes PM, decries ‘dark cloud’ of Brexit,” Reuters, July 22, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-eu-idUSKCN1UH0UE


Migration

tenor.gif
Image attributed to alicejoy1248 on Tenor, January 6, 2017, fair use.

I am deeply suspicious, given the culture evident at Customs and Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement,[2] that no amount of proof will be sufficient for non-whites to avoid deportation:

Immigrants apprehended in Iowa, Nebraska or other inland states would have to prove to immigration officials that they have been in the United States continuously for the past two years, or they could end up in an immigration jail facing quick deportation. And it could be relatively low-level immigration officers — not officers of a court — making the decisions.[3]

This sounds more like it to me:

“This new directive flows directly from the racist rhetoric that the president has been using for the last week and indeed months, but this new rule is going to terrorize communities of color,” said [Vanita] Gupta, who was head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division under President Barack Obama. “It really reads as a send-them-all-back policy,” she added, referring to the audience’s “Send her back!” chants at a Trump rally last week in response to the president’s attacks on a Somali-born Muslim congresswoman, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).

David Leopold, a Cleveland immigration lawyer and former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said expanding the expedited-removal program shifts the decision-making to immigration officers who might not have much experience with such a policy and means that many immigrants who might have the right to remain in the country will not be given the opportunity to show it.[4]

But let’s be clear: The new policy flows from a law signed by Bill Clinton whose administration limited its enforcement. The George W. Bush administration expanded that enforcement along the southern border.[5] Donald Trump is just taking advantage.

Maria Sacchetti, “Trump administration to expand its power to deport undocumented immigrants,” Washington Post, July 22, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/trump-administration-to-expand-its-power-to-deport-undocumented-immigrants/2019/07/22/76d09bc4-ac8e-11e9-bc5c-e73b603e7f38_story.html


  1. [1]William James and Elizabeth Piper, “UK minister quits before Johnson becomes PM, decries ‘dark cloud’ of Brexit,” Reuters, July 22, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-eu-idUSKCN1UH0UE
  2. [2]Sam Levin, “‘Happy hunting!’ Immigration agents swapped cheery messages about raids, records reveal,” Guardian, July 3, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jul/03/ice-us-immigration-messages-raids; Geneva Sands and Nick Valencia, “2nd Customs and Border Protection-connected secret Facebook group shows mocking images,” CNN, July 5, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/05/politics/cbp-second-facebook-group-images/index.html; A. C. Thompson, “Inside the Secret Border Patrol Facebook Group Where Agents Joke About Migrant Deaths and Post Sexist Memes,” ProPublica, July 1, 2019, https://www.propublica.org/article/secret-border-patrol-facebook-group-agents-joke-about-migrant-deaths-post-sexist-memes
  3. [3]Maria Sacchetti, “Trump administration to expand its power to deport undocumented immigrants,” Washington Post, July 22, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/trump-administration-to-expand-its-power-to-deport-undocumented-immigrants/2019/07/22/76d09bc4-ac8e-11e9-bc5c-e73b603e7f38_story.html
  4. [4]Maria Sacchetti, “Trump administration to expand its power to deport undocumented immigrants,” Washington Post, July 22, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/trump-administration-to-expand-its-power-to-deport-undocumented-immigrants/2019/07/22/76d09bc4-ac8e-11e9-bc5c-e73b603e7f38_story.html
  5. [5]Maria Sacchetti, “Trump administration to expand its power to deport undocumented immigrants,” Washington Post, July 22, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/trump-administration-to-expand-its-power-to-deport-undocumented-immigrants/2019/07/22/76d09bc4-ac8e-11e9-bc5c-e73b603e7f38_story.html

Kids go hungry while the rich play in space

There is a new blog post entitled, “Not the final frontier.”


Lunch shaming

Amir Vera, “Pennsylvania school district tells parents to pay their lunch debt, or their kids will go into foster care,” CNN, July 20, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/20/us/pennsylvania-school-lunch-debt-trnd/index.html


Donald Trump

I think Jelani Cobb fills in the missing pieces[1] that I would raise with Donald Trump’s attacks on the “squad,” specifically Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib.[2]

I’ve long regarded the United States as a fascist country,[3] but this really isn’t just about fascism. It’s about the parallels with Nazi Germany: Concentration camps,[4] rallies targeting members of subaltern groups,[5] and violence against subaltern groups implicitly if not quite explicitly backed by political authorities.[6] I can’t even say that war is missing because we were already at war: Barack Obama left us with wars in more places than  he inherited from George W. Bush. And Trump seems to be provoking a war with Iran.

It’s really all there now, perhaps not yet at the scale and intensity of Nazi Germany, but certainly of the kind.

Jelani Cobb, “Donald Trump’s Idea of Selective Citizenship,” New Yorker, July 21, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/07/29/donald-trumps-idea-of-selective-citizenship


  1. [1]Jelani Cobb, “Donald Trump’s Idea of Selective Citizenship,” New Yorker, July 21, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/07/29/donald-trumps-idea-of-selective-citizenship
  2. [2]Noah Bierman, “Trump seeks to disavow ‘send her back’ chant at his rally,” Los Angeles Times, July 18, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2019-07-17/trump-new-chant-send-her-back; Eric Cortellessa, “Liberal US Jews say Trump is weaponizing Israel to defend his racist tweets,” Times of Israel, July 16, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/liberal-us-jews-say-trump-weaponizing-israel-to-defend-racist-tweets/; Michael Luo, “Trump’s Racist Tweets, and the Question of Who Belongs in America,” New Yorker, July 15, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/trumps-racist-tweets-and-the-question-of-who-belongs-in-america; Ashley Parker, “How a racist tweet became a Trump rally chant in three short days,” Washington Post, July 18, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-a-racist-tweet-became-a-trump-rally-chant-in-three-short-days/2019/07/18/bd81b798-a968-11e9-9214-246e594de5d5_story.html; Salvador Rizzo, “Trump falsely claims he tried to stop ‘Send her back!’ chants about Rep. Ilhan Omar,” Washington Post, July 18, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/07/18/trump-falsely-claims-he-tried-stop-send-her-back-chants-about-rep-ilhan-omar/; Adam Serwer, “Trump Tells America What Kind of Nationalist He Is,” Atlantic, July 15, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/07/trumps-white-nationalist-attack-four-congresswomen/594019/; John Wagner, Mike DeBonis, and Colby Itkowitz, “A divided House votes for resolution condemning Trump’s racist remarks,” Washington Post, July 16, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-lashes-out-again-at-minority-lawmakers-as-house-prepares-to-condemn-his-racist-tweets/2019/07/16/bca3afa4-a7b3-11e9-a3a6-ab670962db05_story.html; John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, “Trump vows congresswomen ‘can’t get away with’ criticizing U.S.,” Washington Post, July 19, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/a-day-after-distancing-himself-from-hostile-chant-trump-criticizes-media-for-its-coverage-of-his-rally/2019/07/19/9c094c16-aa12-11e9-9214-246e594de5d5_story.html
  3. [3]David Benfell, “A simple definition of fascism,” Not Housebroken, July 6, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/06/a-simple-definition-of-fascism/
  4. [4]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/
  5. [5]Tom McCarthy, “Trump rally crowd chants ‘send her back’ after president attacks Ilhan Omar,” Guardian, July 17, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jul/17/trump-rally-send-her-back-ilhan-omar
  6. [6]Noah Bierman, “‘Alt-left’ charged at ‘alt-right,’ Trump says, again placing blame for Charlottesville violence on ‘both sides,’” Los Angeles Times, August 15, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/politics/washington/la-na-essential-washington-updates-trump-blames-both-sides-for-1502828835-htmlstory.html; Jonathan Easley, “Trump unloads in defense of his Charlottesville response at Phoenix rally,” Hill, August 23, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/347592-trump-unloads-in-defense-of-his-charlottesville-response-at-phoenix; Jeet Heer, “Trump’s Racism and the Myth of ‘Cultural Marxism,’” New Republic, August 15, 2017, https://newrepublic.com/article/144317/trumps-racism-myth-cultural-marxism; Jonathan Easley, “Trump unloads in defense of his Charlottesville response at Phoenix rally,” Hill, August 23, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/347592-trump-unloads-in-defense-of-his-charlottesville-response-at-phoenix; Colleen Shalby, “From blaming ‘many sides’ to ‘racism is evil’ and back again, what Trump has said so far on Charlottesville,” Los Angeles Times, August 21, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/politics/washington/la-na-essential-washington-updates-how-trump-s-responded-to-violence-in-1502831078-htmlstory.html; Times of Israel, “Criticism mounts over Netanyahu’s response to US neo-Nazism,” August 17, 2017, http://www.timesofisrael.com/criticism-mounts-over-netanyahus-response-to-us-neo-nazism/; Jeffrey Toobin, “Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, and Charlottesville,” New Yorker, August 15, 2017, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/donald-trump-steve-bannon-and-charlottesville