The racist touchy-feely misogynist pervert wins one

Housekeeping

There is an update on my contact information page. Encrypted chat may now be done through Keybase at https://keybase.io/benfell/chat. Allegedly, this will work even if you don’t have Keybase installed, but I don’t know the full security or privacy ramifications if it you use it this way. See the contact information page for more information.


South Carolina

It appears Joe Biden’s so-called “firewall” in South Carolina may have held after all.[1] My guess is that Super Tuesday will be an elimination round, after which voters preferring a so-called “moderate” (meaning maybe just left of Attila the Hun) can no longer split their votes among several candidates.

Evan Halper, Tyrone Beason, and Eli Stokols, “Joe Biden notches up first win in South Carolina primary,” Los Angeles Times, February 29, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-02-29/polls-close-in-south-carolina-as-biden-hopes-for-a-jumpstart


Elizabeth Warren


  1. [1]Evan Halper, Tyrone Beason, and Eli Stokols, “Joe Biden notches up first win in South Carolina primary,” Los Angeles Times, February 29, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-02-29/polls-close-in-south-carolina-as-biden-hopes-for-a-jumpstart

Yet another ‘end’ of a war that isn’t an end

Afghanistan

Previously,

A potential peace deal ending a futile war that has gone on for over 18 years[1] seems like good news. But apparently not everyone will celebrate; some dissenters have the ability to disrupt the planned “reduction in violence” that precedes the deal and must be successfully completed. The worst comes at the end of the story:[2]

After the signing of the U.S.-Taliban peace deal, the Afghan government will launch its own round of talks with the Taliban. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has said that he will build a negotiating team that is inclusive, but following disputed election results announced this week, Afghan politics is deeply divided.

Ghani and his chief rival, Abdullah Abdullah, both declared victory after the results were announced. Abdullah, the country’s chief executive, declared the results illegal and announced he will begin setting up a parallel government. Should this political turmoil persist, it will further complicate the formation of a strong, inclusive team to negotiate with the Taliban.[3]

Which is to say, whoops.[4]

So apparently, they got through the “reduction in violence” and now they’ve signed the agreement. That’s really all that’s changed.[5]

Those hurdles may be tough to surmount. President Ashraf Ghani delayed his inauguration, planned for this past Thursday, at the urging of U.S. officials worried that the event would increase tensions in Afghanistan, where challenger Abdullah Abdullah is contesting the outcome.

The internal split has undercut efforts by the Kabul government to launch talks with the Taliban, which are supposed to begin in the next two weeks.

Saad Mohseni, who returned to Afghanistan in 2001 to launch the country’s most successful private media company, said Saturday’s deal wasn’t the beginning of the end of the war.[6]

Dion Nissenbaum and Ehsanullah Amiri, “U.S., Taliban Sign Deal Meant to End America’s Longest War,” Wall Street Journal, February 29, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-taliban-set-to-sign-deal-meant-to-end-america-s-longest-war-11582977729


  1. [1]Craig Whitlock, “At war with the truth,” Washington Post, December 9, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/afghanistan-papers/afghanistan-war-confidential-documents/; Craig Whitlock, “Stranded without a strategy,” Washington Post, December 9, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/afghanistan-papers/afghanistan-war-strategy/; Craig Whitlock, “Built to fail,” Washington Post, December 9, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/afghanistan-papers/afghanistan-war-nation-building/; Craig Whitlock, “Consumed by corruption,” Washington Post, December 9, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/afghanistan-papers/afghanistan-war-corruption-government/; Craig Whitlock, “Unguarded nation,” Washington Post, December 9, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/afghanistan-papers/afghanistan-war-army-police/; Craig Whitlock, “Overwhelmed by opium,” Washington Post, December 9, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/afghanistan-papers/afghanistan-war-opium-poppy-production/
  2. [2]Susannah George and John Hudson, “Pompeo, Taliban announce plan to sign peace deal at the end of the month,” Washington Post, February 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/violence-reduction-in-afghanistan-set-to-begin-after-midnight-saturday/2020/02/21/c3df0fb2-547d-11ea-80ce-37a8d4266c09_story.html
  3. [3]Susannah George and John Hudson, “Pompeo, Taliban announce plan to sign peace deal at the end of the month,” Washington Post, February 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/violence-reduction-in-afghanistan-set-to-begin-after-midnight-saturday/2020/02/21/c3df0fb2-547d-11ea-80ce-37a8d4266c09_story.html
  4. [4]David Benfell, “The even scarier delusional raging narcissist-in-chief,” Irregular Bullshit, February 21, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/02/21/the-even-scarier-delusional-raging-narcissist-in-chief/
  5. [5]Dion Nissenbaum and Ehsanullah Amiri, “U.S., Taliban Sign Deal Meant to End America’s Longest War,” Wall Street Journal, February 29, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-taliban-set-to-sign-deal-meant-to-end-america-s-longest-war-11582977729
  6. [6]Dion Nissenbaum and Ehsanullah Amiri, “U.S., Taliban Sign Deal Meant to End America’s Longest War,” Wall Street Journal, February 29, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-taliban-set-to-sign-deal-meant-to-end-america-s-longest-war-11582977729

Imagine being more worried about the stock market than a predicted pandemic

Coronavirus

One consistent picture that emerges right now is that Donald Trump is more concerned[1] about the stock market drop[2] than he is a predicted pandemic.[3]

Gunjan Banerji, “Stocks Suffer Biggest Weekly Losses Since 2008,” Wall Street Journal, February 28, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/more-markets-head-toward-correction-territory-as-coronavirus-spooks-investors-11582864550

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Summary,” February 28, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html

Dana Milbank, “For Trump, a reckoning has come,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/trump-reckoning-has-come/

Paul Waldman, “How coronavirus has deeply flummoxed conservative media,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/how-coronavirus-has-deeply-flummuxed-conservative-media/


David Brooks


  1. [1]Dana Milbank, “For Trump, a reckoning has come,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/trump-reckoning-has-come/; Paul Waldman, “How coronavirus has deeply flummoxed conservative media,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/how-coronavirus-has-deeply-flummuxed-conservative-media/
  2. [2]Gunjan Banerji, “Stocks Suffer Biggest Weekly Losses Since 2008,” Wall Street Journal, February 28, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/more-markets-head-toward-correction-territory-as-coronavirus-spooks-investors-11582864550
  3. [3]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Summary,” February 28, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html

First Amendment, Texas-style

Texas

I guess, from his self-description, that Dan Patrick is the Lieutenant Governor of Texas:

There were a number of replies, some opposed, some opposed on first amendment grounds, some supportive for the usual reasons. But here’s the one that is my reason for highlighting this:

Jaw drops to floor.

Of course, this is only one side of the dilemma. It is one thing to assert free speech rights against police who so often follow structural violence with the physical sort, indeed who implicitly threaten it by their very presence as the sole members of our society authorized and equipped to use even lethal force against other members of that same society. It is another when “free speech” is used to intimidate, to silence dissenting views of subaltern people. Between these two vertices lies a vast grey area.

I have a number of reasons for being grumpy. Lacking not merely a pat answer, but really any answer at all is one of them.


Bolivia

The Bolivian elections may not have been fraudulent after all—and the accusation of fraud may be a warm-up for similar claims when progressives win elections in the U.S.:[1]

Under the OAS criteria for fraud, it’s possible that U.S. elections in which votes [for example, provisional ballots] that are counted later tend to lean Democratic might also be classified as fraudulent. Of course, electoral fraud is a serious problem, but relying on unverified tests as proof of fraud is a serious threat to any democracy.[2]

John Curiel and Jack R. Williams, “Bolivia dismissed its October elections as fraudulent. Our research found no reason to suspect fraud,” Washington Post, February 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/02/26/bolivia-dismissed-its-october-elections-fraudulent-our-research-found-no-reason-suspect-fraud/


Migration

Maria Sacchetti and Nick Miroff, “President Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy blocked in federal court,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/trump-remain-in-mexico-halted-federal-court/2020/02/28/87bbf85e-e481-11e9-b403-f738899982d2_story.html


  1. [1]John Curiel and Jack R. Williams, “Bolivia dismissed its October elections as fraudulent. Our research found no reason to suspect fraud,” Washington Post, February 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/02/26/bolivia-dismissed-its-october-elections-fraudulent-our-research-found-no-reason-suspect-fraud/
  2. [2]John Curiel and Jack R. Williams, “Bolivia dismissed its October elections as fraudulent. Our research found no reason to suspect fraud,” Washington Post, February 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/02/26/bolivia-dismissed-its-october-elections-fraudulent-our-research-found-no-reason-suspect-fraud/

Rudeness is indeed warranted

Bernie Sanders

We have an update to my last blog post: Should Bernie Sanders fail to win the 60 percent supermajority of committed delegates in the primaries needed to win the Democratic nomination on the first ballot, superdelegates will do everything they can to stop him.[1]

The relevant sentence from that blog post? “I have absolutely no reason to let [Bernie Sanders opponents] live unmolested in their comfortable privileged bubbles dreaming about how we have all these problems but we can take our time solving them while the Democratic National Committee schemes or fumbles to deny Sanders the nomination anyway[2] because that’s what they do[3] and we’re already pretty clear about how they feel about progressives anyway.[4][5]

But no, I’m not saying you heard it here first. A bunch of folks on Twitter have been saying the same thing.

Lisa Lerer and Reid J. Epstein, “Democratic Leaders Willing to Risk Party Damage to Stop Bernie Sanders,” New York Times, February 27, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/27/us/politics/democratic-superdelegates.html


Utah

Jennifer Dobner, “Decriminalization of polygamy in Utah clears key hurdle in state legislature,” Reuters, February 26, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-utah-polygamy-idUSKCN20L0DI


Pittsburgh

Jason Togyer, “Red Streets v. Blue Streets in McKeesport,” Columbia Journalism Review, February 27, 2020, https://mailchi.mp/cjr/the-mystery-of-caroline-county-virginia-687825


Coronavirus

The spread of the disease [HIV] was attributed to people injecting Opana, an addictive painkiller, with shared needles. But Pence didn’t agree with federal health experts that distributing clean needles was a good idea.

“I don’t believe effective anti-drug policy involves handing out drug paraphernalia,” he told the Indianapolis Star at the time. Despite assurances from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that it is an effective way to halt the spread of infections and diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B and C, Pence said if state lawmakers tried to send him a bill for a needle-exchange program, he would veto it.

As cases spiked, Pence reportedly turned to prayer.[6]

As I said.

Meryl Kornfield, “Mike Pence was criticized for his handling of Indiana’s HIV outbreak. He will lead the U.S. coronavirus response,” Washington Post, February 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/02/27/mike-pence-hiv-indiana/


  1. [1]Lisa Lerer and Reid J. Epstein, “Democratic Leaders Willing to Risk Party Damage to Stop Bernie Sanders,” New York Times, February 27, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/27/us/politics/democratic-superdelegates.html
  2. [2]David Benfell, “Bipartisan ‘meritocracy’ and ‘vote Blue no matter who,’” Not Housebroken, February 6, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/02/06/bipartisan-meritocracy-and-vote-blue-no-matter-who/; David Benfell, “The Democrats don’t need ‘election interference,’” Not Housebroken, February 9, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/02/09/the-democrats-dont-need-election-interference/
  3. [3]Donna Brazile, “Inside Hillary Clinton’s Secret Takeover of the DNC,” Politico, November 2, 2017, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/11/02/clinton-brazile-hacks-2016-215774; Justine Coleman, “Obama privately said he would speak up to stop Sanders: report,” Hill, November 26, 2019, https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/472090-obama-privately-said-he-would-speak-up-to-stop-sanders-report; Shane Goldmacher, “Hillary Clinton Slams Bernie Sanders for Not Working to Unite Democrats in 2016,” New York Times, January 31, 2020, ttps://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/31/us/politics/hillary-clinton-bernie-sanders.html; Ryan Lizza, “Waiting for Obama,” Politico, November 26, 2019, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2019/11/26/barack-obama-2020-democrats-candidates-biden-073025; Dan Merica, “Hillary Clinton suggests Russians are ‘grooming’ Tulsi Gabbard for third-party run,” CNN, October 21, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/18/politics/hillary-clinton-tulsi-gabbard/index.html; David Roth, “Bernie Sanders Is No Donald Trump,” New Republic, February 21, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/156639/bernie-sanders-no-donald-trump; Alex Shephard, “The Impotence of ‘Stop Sanders’ Democrats,” New Republic, April 18, 2019, https://newrepublic.com/article/153605/impotence-stop-sanders-democrats
  4. [4]Blue Texan [pseud.], “Early Morning Swim: Ed Rendell tells Democratic base to ‘Get Over It’ on Rachel Maddow,” Shadowproof, September 23, 2010, https://shadowproof.com/2010/09/23/early-morning-swim-ed-rendell-tells-democratic-base-to-get-over-it-on-rachel-maddow/; Blue Texan [pseud.], “Stop Whining, Liberals!” Shadowproof, September 27, 2010, https://shadowproof.com/2010/09/27/late-night-stop-whining-liberals/; Michael Falcone, “Opposite Day On The Campaign Trail?” ABC News, September 21, 2010, archived by author; Glenn Greenwald, “Obama’s view of liberal criticisms,” Salon, September 17, 2010, http://www.salon.com/2010/09/17/obama_139/; David Neiwert, “President Obama lashes out at his liberal critics: Choice is to ‘get things done’ or feel ‘sanctimonious’,” Crooks and Liars, December 7, 2010, http://crooksandliars.com/david-neiwert/president-obama-lashes-out-his-liber; Heather Digby Parton, “‘It’s always the hippies’ fault’: Why the left treats its idealists all wrong,” Salon, February 5, 2015, http://www.salon.com/2015/02/05/its_always_the_hippies_fault_why_the_left_treats_its_idealists_all_wrong/; Greg Sargent, “Liberal blogger directly confronts David Axelrod, accuses White House of ‘hippie punching’,” Washington Post, September 23, 2010, http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/09/liberal_blogger_directly_confr.html; Stephen Stromberg, “Joe Biden scolds progressives — and he’s right,” Washington Post, September 16, 2010, http://voices.washingtonpost.com/postpartisan/2010/09/joe_biden_scolds_progressives.html; Sam Youngman, “White House unloads anger over criticism from ‘professional left’,” Hill, August 10, 2010, http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/113431-white-house-unloads-on-professional-left
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Bernie Sanders’ supporters have reason to be rude,” Not Housebroken, February 27, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/02/26/bernie-sanders-supporters-have-reason-to-be-rude/
  6. [6]Meryl Kornfield, “Mike Pence was criticized for his handling of Indiana’s HIV outbreak. He will lead the U.S. coronavirus response,” Washington Post, February 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/02/27/mike-pence-hiv-indiana/

An existential locus of control

White supremacism

Had I not moved to Pittsburgh, I probably would not bother to take notice of the Marine Corps Commandant ordering the removal of Confederate symbols.[1]

But in Pittsburgh, while I wouldn’t say these flags are ubiquitous, they certainly aren’t rare. I see them in front of people’s homes, often in tandem with a U.S. flag, betraying—at minimum—an authoritarian populist imagination that the Civil War was about something other than a secession to preserve the “peculiar institution,” that is, slavery,[2] against an insistence on preserving the Union[3] and, afterwards, only afterwards, a contest to determine on what terms the Union should be preserved, a contest that continues to the present.[4] While as artifacts, the flags form one element in the evidence supporting my very strong suspicion of possible white supremacist (paleoconservative) militia activity in this area,[5] I have little doubt that those who fly these flags all support Donald Trump.[6] So yeah, I’m wondering what Trump’s reaction to this order will be.

But also, for further thought, as I retrieve and archive the articles I cite above, and refine my understanding, I am struck by how slavery was as existential for the South as guns seem to gun nuts today. Am I really looking at some kind of a substitution? And to what extent can we draw a line from Confederate soldiers’ “alcoholism, unemployment, mental illness, and suicide” after the war[7] to “deaths of despair”[8] today?

That latter conflation is ugly. But I think in broad terms. And given my longstanding question about why, really, Simon de Beauvoir is right,[9] why people so persistently demonize, discriminate against, and subjugate the other, my thoughts are turning the notion of autonomy, a term ethicists use in preference to “freedom,” and how that may be in play.

As a critical theorist, I ask of so-called “freedom” for whom, to do what, to whom? This effectively interprets “freedom” as power over others, distinguished from power-to (do something) and power-with (to accomplish in coordination with others). My question challenges the term freedom as generally used in neoliberal society, for example, often in economic terms with so-called “free trade.”

But conceptually, I pose autonomy, one’s authority over one self, opposite a condition of being subject to someone else’s authority, often political or economic. Put one way, this is about my freedom to swing my fist ending somewhere before your jaw. But the question is often more nuanced than this, for example, when a manufacturing facility upstream unintentionally but negligently pollutes water needed for drinking downstream. Where, really, does “freedom” lie here?

The view of slaveholders leading into the Civil War seems to lie with no limitation on the swinging of their fists whatsoever on slaves. The view of gun nuts seems to lie with no limitation on their ability to dominate anyone they perceive as a threat. Blacks appear on the receiving end of both of these.

But when that concept of control, that so-called “freedom,” is challenged, whether in even brutal power over others[10] or even the ability to earn a living,[11] we seem to be seeing the behaviors associated with “deaths of despair.”

It may be that Blacks who have dismissed these deaths as a consequence of white privilege are not entirely wrong—my musing today seems to support that connection. But they aren’t entirely right either. Because it also cannot be right that I cannot find a real job.[12]

Jeff Schogol, “Marine commandant banishes Confederate symbols from all Corps installations,” Task and Purpose, February 26, 2020, https://taskandpurpose.com/news/marine-corps-bans-confederate-symbols


  1. [1]Jeff Schogol, “Marine commandant banishes Confederate symbols from all Corps installations,” Task and Purpose, February 26, 2020, https://taskandpurpose.com/news/marine-corps-bans-confederate-symbols
  2. [2]Alexander Abad-Santos, “Racists Ruined the Confederate Flag for Lynyrd Skynyrd,” Atlantic, September 21, 2012, https://www.theatlantic.com/culture/archive/2012/09/racists-ruined-confederate-flag-lynyrd-skynyrd/323381/; Ta-Nehisi Coates, “What This Cruel War Was Over,” Atlantic, June 22, 2015, http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/06/what-this-cruel-war-was-over/396482/; Prachi Gupta, “Lynyrd Skynyrd decides it’s finally time to stop using the Confederate flag,” Salon, September 21, 2012, http://www.salon.com/2012/09/21/lynyrd_skynyrd_decides_its_finally_time_to_stop_using_the_confederate_flag/; Julia Martinez, “For Civil-War Scholars, a Settled Question That Will Never Die: What Caused the War?” Chronicle of Higher Education, October 31, 2017, http://www.chronicle.com/article/For-Civil-War-Scholars-a/241627; Jonathan Terbush, “Lynyrd Skynyrd calls Confederate Flag racist, prompts fan revolt,” Raw Story, September 22, 2012, http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/09/22/lynyrd-skynyrd-calls-confederate-flag-racist-prompts-fan-revolt/; Tracy Thompson, “The South still lies about the Civil War,” Salon, March 16, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/03/16/the_south_still_lies_about_the_civil_war/; Chris Willman, “Lynyrd Skynyrd Backtracks On Comments, Proudly Lets Confederate Flag Fly,” Yahoo!, September 24, 2012, http://music.yahoo.com/blogs/stop-the-presses/lynyrd-skynyrd-backtracks-comments-proudly-lets-confederate-flag-003332446.html
  3. [3]Tony Horwitz, “150 Years of Misunderstanding the Civil War,” Atlantic, June 19, 2013, http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/06/150-years-of-misunderstanding-the-civil-war/277022/; Glenn W. LaFantasie, “How the South rationalizes secession,” Salon, December 19, 2010, http://www.salon.com/2010/12/19/lafantasie_south_secession/; Abraham Lincoln to Horace Greeley, “A Letter from President Lincoln.; Reply to Horace Greeley. Slavery and the Union The Restoration of the Union the Paramount Object,” New York Times, August 24, 1862, http://www.nytimes.com/1862/08/24/news/letter-president-lincoln-reply-horace-greeley-slavery-union-restoration-union.html
  4. [4]David W. Blight, “The Civil War Isn’t Over,” Atlantic, April 8, 2015, http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/04/the-civil-war-isnt-over/389847/; Andrew O’Hehir, “Welcome to the new Civil War,” Salon, January 5, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/01/05/welcome_to_the_new_civil_war/;
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Militia territory,” Not Housebroken, November 22, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/11/22/militia-territory/
  6. [6]Mary B. McCord, “Armed Militias Are Taking Trump’s Civil War Tweets Seriously,” Lawfare, October 2, 2019, https://www.lawfareblog.com/armed-militias-are-taking-trumps-civil-war-tweets-seriously
  7. [7]David W. Blight, “The Civil War Isn’t Over,” Atlantic, April 8, 2015, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/04/the-civil-war-isnt-over/389847/
  8. [8]Laura Bliss, “The Pessimism of White, Working-Class America,” CityLab, November 17, 2015, http://www.citylab.com/politics/2015/11/the-pessimism-of-white-working-class-america/416379/; Julia Belluz, “Why the white middle class is dying faster, explained in 6 charts,” Vox, March 23, 2017, http://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/3/23/14988084/white-middle-class-dying-faster-explained-case-deaton; Andrew J. Cherlin, “Why Are White Death Rates Rising?” New York Times, February 22, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/22/opinion/why-are-white-death-rates-rising.html; Gina Kolata, “Death Rates Rising for Middle-Aged White Americans, Study Finds,” New York Times, November 2, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/03/health/death-rates-rising-for-middle-aged-white-americans-study-finds.html; Gina Kolata and Sarah Cohen, “Drug Overdoses Propel Rise in Mortality Rates of Young Whites,” New York Times, January 16, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/17/science/drug-overdoses-propel-rise-in-mortality-rates-of-young-whites.html; Paul Krugman, “Heartland of Darkness,” New York Times, November 4, 2015, http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/11/04/heartland-of-darkness/; Paul Krugman, “Despair, American Style,” New York Times, November 9, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/09/opinion/despair-american-style.html; Alana Semuels, “Is Economic Despair What’s Killing Middle-Aged White Americans?” CityLab, March 23, 2017, https://www.citylab.com/politics/2017/03/economic-despair-killing-middle-aged-white-americans/520554/
  9. [9]Simone de Beauvoir, “Women as Other,” in Social Theory, ed. Charles Lemert, 6th ed. (Boulder, CO: Westview, 2017), 268-270.
  10. [10]David W. Blight, “The Civil War Isn’t Over,” Atlantic, April 8, 2015, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/04/the-civil-war-isnt-over/389847/
  11. [11]Laura Bliss, “The Pessimism of White, Working-Class America,” CityLab, November 17, 2015, http://www.citylab.com/politics/2015/11/the-pessimism-of-white-working-class-america/416379/; Julia Belluz, “Why the white middle class is dying faster, explained in 6 charts,” Vox, March 23, 2017, http://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/3/23/14988084/white-middle-class-dying-faster-explained-case-deaton; Andrew J. Cherlin, “Why Are White Death Rates Rising?” New York Times, February 22, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/22/opinion/why-are-white-death-rates-rising.html; Gina Kolata, “Death Rates Rising for Middle-Aged White Americans, Study Finds,” New York Times, November 2, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/03/health/death-rates-rising-for-middle-aged-white-americans-study-finds.html; Gina Kolata and Sarah Cohen, “Drug Overdoses Propel Rise in Mortality Rates of Young Whites,” New York Times, January 16, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/17/science/drug-overdoses-propel-rise-in-mortality-rates-of-young-whites.html; Paul Krugman, “Heartland of Darkness,” New York Times, November 4, 2015, http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/11/04/heartland-of-darkness/; Paul Krugman, “Despair, American Style,” New York Times, November 9, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/09/opinion/despair-american-style.html; Alana Semuels, “Is Economic Despair What’s Killing Middle-Aged White Americans?” CityLab, March 23, 2017, https://www.citylab.com/politics/2017/03/economic-despair-killing-middle-aged-white-americans/520554/
  12. [12]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/

Bernie Sanders is too polite

Bernie Sanders

Aaron Blake counts Bernie Sanders among the losers at last night’s debate in South Carolina, but doesn’t seem very impressed with the damage:[1]

Sen. Bernie Sanders: After the candidates spent much of last week’s debate focused on Bloomberg even as Sanders is threatening to take over the race, Tuesday night represented a course-correction. Warren attacked Sanders for being ineffective. Pete Buttigieg said Russia is helping Sanders, as U.S. intelligence has stated, because the senator serves its purposes. “Russia wants chaos, and chaos is what’s coming our way,” Buttigieg said. “Imagine spending the better part of 2020 with Bernie Sanders versus Donald Trump.” Tom Steyer warned about having the government “take over the private sector.” Biden mentioned the mass shooting in a black Charleston church in 2015 and noted that Sanders voted against the Brady gun-control bill five times, which prompted Sanders to acknowledge that it was a mistake. Later on, Biden and Buttigieg ganged up on Sanders for praising over the decades the good things authoritarian socialist regimes had done. It prompted Sanders to say early on: “I’m hearing my name mentioned a little bit. I wonder why.” Indeed. The question is whether it’s too little, too late by his opponents.[2]

I’ve dealt with the Russia support issue in a previous blog post, labeling it a fallacy.[3] As to “the good things authoritarian socialist regimes had done,”[4] I would say that if we are going to paint all dictators with the same brush, we should look harder at who’s effectively been complicit with the delusional raging narcissist-in-chief, with “[t]he stupidest impeachment ever, historically notable first for all the offenses it failed to charge Donald Trump with,[5] second for its utterly predictable futility, and third for its transparent (and apparently failed) attempt to protect Joe Biden,[6][7] especially noting its authoritarian consequences as Donald Trump moves to purge the executive branch of “disloyal” staffers.[8] Either all dictators are alike or they aren’t—those who attack Sanders for appreciating such things as a literacy program and a reduction in infant mortality and those who fail to criticize the oligarchs that still exercise an often-armed, cruel, and disproportionate influence in many Latin American countries[9] need to decide which it is.

But also, I think Sanders is often too polite. He has a more robust response than he’s been deploying. Instead he appears a bit wilted.

Griff Witte, “In Cold War travels, Bernie Sanders found much to admire behind enemy lines. Now that’s a problem for his campaign,” Washington Post, February 24, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-cold-war-travels-bernie-sanders-found-much-to-admire-behind-enemy-lines-now-thats-a-problem-for-his-campaign/2020/02/24/fd02fb50-572a-11ea-8753-73d96000faae_story.html

Aaron Blake, “Winners and losers from the South Carolina Democratic debate,” Washington Post, February 25, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/02/25/takeaways-south-carolina-debate/


  1. [1]Aaron Blake, “Winners and losers from the South Carolina Democratic debate,” Washington Post, February 25, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/02/25/takeaways-south-carolina-debate/
  2. [2]Aaron Blake, “Winners and losers from the South Carolina Democratic debate,” Washington Post, February 25, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/02/25/takeaways-south-carolina-debate/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Attacking the man for who supports him,” Not Housebroken, February 23, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/02/22/attacking-the-man-for-who-supports-him/
  4. [4]Aaron Blake, “Winners and losers from the South Carolina Democratic debate,” Washington Post, February 25, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/02/25/takeaways-south-carolina-debate/
  5. [5]David Benfell, “The whiteness of impeachment,” Not Housebroken, December 15, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/15/the-whiteness-of-impeachment/; Democracy Now, “Law Professor: Trump Could Also Have Been Impeached for War Crimes, Assassinations and Corruption,” January 24, 2020, https://www.democracynow.org/2020/1/24/donald_trump_senate_impeachment_trial
  6. [6]David Benfell, “It’s still a smoke-filled room,” Not Housebroken, December 6, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/06/its-still-a-smoke-filled-room/; David Benfell, “How the neoliberal (usually known as Democratic) party may well lose in 2020,” Not Housebroken, December 7, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/07/how-the-neoliberal-usually-known-as-democratic-party-may-well-lose-in-2020/; David Benfell, “The whiteness of impeachment,” Not Housebroken, December 15, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/15/the-whiteness-of-impeachment/; David Benfell, “The least violent solution,” Not Housebroken, December 16, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/16/the-least-violent-solution/; David Benfell, “The sham (pick your partisan flavor) is on,” Not Housebroken, December 19, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/19/the-sham-pick-your-partisan-flavor-is-on/; David Benfell, “The asterisk,” Not Housebroken, December 21, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/21/the-asterisk/
  7. [7]David Benfell, “One farce down, one to go,” Irregular Bullshit, February 5, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/02/05/one-farce-down-one-to-go/
  8. [8]Ellen Nakashima et al., “Senior intelligence official told lawmakers that Russia wants to see Trump reelected,” Washington Post, February 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/after-a-congressional-briefing-on-election-threats-trump-soured-on-acting-spy-chief/2020/02/20/1ed2b4ec-53f1-11ea-b119-4faabac6674f_story.html; Toluse Olorunnipa, Ashley Parker, and Josh Dawsey, “Trump embarks on expansive search for disloyalty as administration-wide purge escalates,” Washington Post, February 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/were-cleaning-it-out-trump-embarks-on-expansive-search-for-disloyalty-as-administration-wide-purge-escalates/2020/02/21/870e6c56-54c1-11ea-b119-4faabac6674f_story.html; Adam Serwer, “The First Days of the Trump Regime,” Atlantic, February 19, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/02/trump-regime/606682/
  9. [9]Griff Witte, “In Cold War travels, Bernie Sanders found much to admire behind enemy lines. Now that’s a problem for his campaign,” Washington Post, February 24, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-cold-war-travels-bernie-sanders-found-much-to-admire-behind-enemy-lines-now-thats-a-problem-for-his-campaign/2020/02/24/fd02fb50-572a-11ea-8753-73d96000faae_story.html

The Trump administration tortured migrants

Migration

Just remember, Nancy Pelosi did not deem family separation and concentration camps an impeachment-worthy offense.[1]

The not-for-profit group’s report provides the first in-depth look at the psychological impact of family separation, which the US government continued despite warnings from the nation’s top medical bodies.

“As a clinician, nobody was prepared for this to happen on our soil,” the report co-author Dr Ranit Mishori, senior medical adviser at [Physicians for Human Rights], told the Guardian. “It is beyond shocking that this could happen in the United States, by Americans, at the instruction and direct intention of US government officials.”

Legal experts have argued family separation constituted torture, but this is the first time a medical group has reached the determination.[2]

Amanda Holpuch, “Trump’s separation of families constitutes torture, doctors find,” Guardian, February 25, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/feb/25/trump-family-separations-children-torture-psychology


Pittsburgh

There is a new blog post entitled, “The old, the filthy, and the decrepit.”

Andy Sheehan, “Air Quality In Mon Valley Once Again Hits Unhealthy Levels,” KDKA, February 24, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/02/24/mon-valley-air-quality-unhealthy-levels/


Coronavirus

This is an area I don’t talk much about and don’t cover much because my expertise is nil. Hell, I hardly ever even get sick, which is a challenge when I’m trying to be empathetic with people who are. Here’s where it crosses over from all that:


  1. [1]David Benfell, “The whiteness of impeachment,” Not Housebroken, December 15, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/15/the-whiteness-of-impeachment/
  2. [2]Amanda Holpuch, “Trump’s separation of families constitutes torture, doctors find,” Guardian, February 25, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/feb/25/trump-family-separations-children-torture-psychology

Rod Dreher: ‘I also realized that there is no reason at all for him to vote Republican.’

Meritocracy

There is a new blog post entitled, “Academic meritocracy and the U.S. presidential campaign.”

Oliver Traldi, “Why Academics Love to Hate Mayor Pete,” Chronicle of Higher Education, February 21, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/Why-Academics-Love-to-Hate/248101


Bernie Sanders

Rod Dreher, a traditionalist conservative, apparently took some flak for writing this:

It was an Uber ride, not a political debate. I felt like I should not argue with this young man, but rather just listen. He was really impressive, and idealistic, in the best sense. He explained that he felt that if he wanted things to change for him and his generation, that he needed to get involved in politics. I realized, listening to him, that the things he says he wants are perfectly normal (I would have said that anyway), but I also realized that there is no reason at all for him to vote Republican. Certainly not vote Trump. And again, this is not for any reasons of woke social policy; this is about economics.[1]

Rod Dreher, “Bernie & Solidarity,” American Conservative, February 24, 2020, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/bernie-solidarity/


Speciesism

A few days ago, George Monbiot, an on-again, off-again vegan, advocated culls of deer, who lacking a natural predator, are destroying woodlands in Britain.[2] Today, the Telegraph offers a possible answer, reintroducing the lynx, absent from Britain for 1,300 years.[3]

Helena Horton, “Setting lynx wild in Britain could cut deer numbers, head of Natural England says,” Telegraph, February 24, 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/02/24/setting-lynx-wild-britain-could-cut-deer-numbers-head-natural/


  1. [1]Rod Dreher, “Bernie & Solidarity,” American Conservative, February 24, 2020, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/bernie-solidarity/
  2. [2]George Monbiot, “In Defence of Speciesism,” February 21, 2020, https://www.monbiot.com/2020/02/21/in-defence-of-speciesism/
  3. [3]Helena Horton, “Setting lynx wild in Britain could cut deer numbers, head of Natural England says,” Telegraph, February 24, 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/02/24/setting-lynx-wild-britain-could-cut-deer-numbers-head-natural/