Bumbling to defend neoliberalism (Update #4)

Updates

  1. Originally published, March 19, 11:05 pm.

  2. March 20, 2021, 10:18 am:

    • [T]wo years ago, angling for the White House herself, [Kamala] Harris, then a senator from California, joked about smoking pot.

      “I have … and I did inhale,” she told the hosts of The Breakfast Club about smoking in college. “It was a long time ago … I think it gives a lot of people joy and we need more joy.”[1]

      But Joe Biden fired five White House staffers for marijuana use and, even as Congress moves toward legalization, apparently wants to keep marijuana criminalized (as shifting the drug from Schedule I to Schedule II would do). And his now-vice president has walked back her support for legalization.[2]

      We might recall that criminalization of marijuana is all about racism.[3]

    • The Guardian, also from Britain, has also picked up the story of Joe Biden’s stumble climbing the stairs to Air Force One.[4] So it’s no longer just the Telegraph.[5]

      That said, I’ll start looking at political ramifications[6] when and if U.S. papers pick up the story. Um, I’m waiting. . . .

  3. March 20, 2021, 11:23 am:

    • The story of Joe Biden’s stumble seems increasingly to be an international but not a domestic story. Agence France-Presse picked it up and the Times of Israel published it.[7]

      There are a couple of issues here. First, that of Biden’s age, mentioned in every story I’ve seen on this, as he is the oldest president ever to take office. Both the Telegraph and Guardian raised arguably ageist questions of Biden’s fitness for office.[8] If we are going to suggest that a stumble on what seems to be a problematic set of stairs[9]—and I’d like to know what makes them problematic—reflects Biden’s physical capacity, we also need a clear line of argument as to how this affects his mental capacity.[10]

      But second is the question of that discrepancy between U.S. and international coverage, suggesting a domestic bias favoring Biden. This needs to be watched.

  4. March 20, 2021, 9:56 pm:

    • I wound up taking someone to Erie today. It was a lovely day for the drive, as clear as Pennsylvania ever gets. Spring hasn’t really sprung yet, but there were trees on both sides of Interstate 79 most of the way up.

      There were also reminders that this was Donald Trump country as, notably, I saw an old freight trailer parked with its side facing the freeway and festooned with campaign posters.

      As I crossed Interstate 90, I remembered the last time I was at this interchange, approaching from the west. I saw the sign for Pittsburgh and felt a tug.

      I pressed on to western Massachusetts, not yet realizing that the housing situation there would not work out.

      I didn’t cover much of Erie but one thing I noticed immediately was the condition of its roads. This was remarkably good. I did get a short ride while I was there with a passenger who said nothing about my sign but spent most of the ride studying it. Her appreciation was reflected in a ludicrously generous tip.

      Erie is a small town. It really doesn’t have the population for me to consider moving up there as an Uber/Lyft driver. But I was thinking about it.

      Once again, though, this was really a losing day. I deadheaded most of the way back. The way Uber pays for rides, trips that are mostly freeway miles really don’t pay as well as local rides on surface streets. That makes trips like this a bad deal.

      At least on that return trip, I could listen to my damned music.


Joe Biden

Apparently there really is a problem with the boarding stairs for Air Force One. But Joe Biden is, apparently, the first to stumble three times on a single ascent.[11] I’m not seeing this covered anywhere except in the Telegraph, so the paper’s pundit rush to explore political consequences[12] might be overstated.

Agence France-Presse, “Biden stumbles several times while boarding Air Force One,” Times of Israel, March 19, 2021, https://www.timesofisrael.com/biden-stumbles-several-times-while-boarding-air-force-one/

Josie Ensor and Nick Allen, “Joe Biden trips and falls three times boarding Air Force One,” Telegraph, March 19, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/03/19/joe-biden-trips-stumbles-three-times-boarding-air-force-one/

Natalie Fertig and Mona Zhang, “Same old Joe: Rebuffing staff who smoked pot fits Biden’s MO,” Politico, March 19, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/03/19/same-old-joe-rebuffing-staff-who-smoked-pot-fits-bidens-mo-477283

David Smith, “Biden ‘doing fine’ after stumbling once, twice, thrice on steps of Air Force One,” Guardian, March 19, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/mar/19/joe-biden-fall-stumble-air-force-one


Filibuster

So what we’re really seeing here is that even if—and though the article stops short of saying so, this is the most likely scenario—the filibuster is reverted to an earlier form in which senators actually had to hold the floor, Republicans would still be able to provide the Democrats with an excuse for not getting anything done.[13]

Osita Nwanevu, “Republicans Know They’re Losing the Filibuster Fight,” New Republic, March 19, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/161765/republicans-losing-filibuster-fight-mcconnell


N-word

It’s early yet but, since I put the new sign (figure 1) up, I’ve heard the n-word precisely once in my car and I haven’t heard women called ‘bitches’ or ‘ho’s’ once. You might notice, in figure 1, that I don’t specify what words I’m talking about. But if my hypothesis holds, they know and they know damned well.

Fig. 1. Sign for Uber and Lyft passengers in author’s car, created by author, March 18, 2021.

Cross your fingers.


  1. [1]Natalie Fertig and Mona Zhang, “Same old Joe: Rebuffing staff who smoked pot fits Biden’s MO,” Politico, March 19, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/03/19/same-old-joe-rebuffing-staff-who-smoked-pot-fits-bidens-mo-477283
  2. [2]Natalie Fertig and Mona Zhang, “Same old Joe: Rebuffing staff who smoked pot fits Biden’s MO,” Politico, March 19, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/03/19/same-old-joe-rebuffing-staff-who-smoked-pot-fits-bidens-mo-477283
  3. [3]John Hudak, “Marijuana’s racist history shows the need for comprehensive drug reform,” Brookings, June 23, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/how-we-rise/2020/06/23/marijuanas-racist-history-shows-the-need-for-comprehensive-drug-reform/
  4. [4]David Smith, “Biden ‘doing fine’ after stumbling once, twice, thrice on steps of Air Force One,” Guardian, March 19, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/mar/19/joe-biden-fall-stumble-air-force-one
  5. [5]Josie Ensor and Nick Allen, “Joe Biden trips and falls three times boarding Air Force One,” Telegraph, March 19, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/03/19/joe-biden-trips-stumbles-three-times-boarding-air-force-one/
  6. [6]Josie Ensor and Nick Allen, “Joe Biden trips and falls three times boarding Air Force One,” Telegraph, March 19, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/03/19/joe-biden-trips-stumbles-three-times-boarding-air-force-one/
  7. [7]Agence France-Presse, “Biden stumbles several times while boarding Air Force One,” Times of Israel, March 19, 2021, https://www.timesofisrael.com/biden-stumbles-several-times-while-boarding-air-force-one/
  8. [8]Agence France-Presse, “Biden stumbles several times while boarding Air Force One,” Times of Israel, March 19, 2021, https://www.timesofisrael.com/biden-stumbles-several-times-while-boarding-air-force-one/; Josie Ensor and Nick Allen, “Joe Biden trips and falls three times boarding Air Force One,” Telegraph, March 19, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/03/19/joe-biden-trips-stumbles-three-times-boarding-air-force-one/; David Smith, “Biden ‘doing fine’ after stumbling once, twice, thrice on steps of Air Force One,” Guardian, March 19, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/mar/19/joe-biden-fall-stumble-air-force-one
  9. [9]Josie Ensor and Nick Allen, “Joe Biden trips and falls three times boarding Air Force One,” Telegraph, March 19, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/03/19/joe-biden-trips-stumbles-three-times-boarding-air-force-one/
  10. [10]Such a link is not altogether absent. The distinction I raise is, on a higher level, that between mind and body, which seems not really to exist: Almerindo E. Ojeda, ed., The Trauma of Psychological Torture (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2008); George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Philosophy in the Flesh (New York: Basic, 1999). But the suggestion that a diminishment of one capacity, climbing stairs, indicates diminishment of cognitive capacity seems a stretch, possibly an ecological fallacy.
  11. [11]Josie Ensor and Nick Allen, “Joe Biden trips and falls three times boarding Air Force One,” Telegraph, March 19, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/03/19/joe-biden-trips-stumbles-three-times-boarding-air-force-one/
  12. [12]Josie Ensor and Nick Allen, “Joe Biden trips and falls three times boarding Air Force One,” Telegraph, March 19, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/03/19/joe-biden-trips-stumbles-three-times-boarding-air-force-one/
  13. [13]Osita Nwanevu, “Republicans Know They’re Losing the Filibuster Fight,” New Republic, March 19, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/161765/republicans-losing-filibuster-fight-mcconnell

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