No more Navient hell for student loan borrowers

Student loans

Navient is the student loan servicer I found myself with when I finished my Ph.D. and I very, very rapidly discovered their communication was abysmal. I needed to consolidate my loans, some of which were not eligible in their original form for income based repayment, anyway into a loan that would be entirely eligible for income-based repayment, so I took the opportunity to change servicers at that time and have since recommended strongly to anyone else who would listen that they should do the same.

Now Navient is getting out of the student loan business.[1]

Katie Lobosco, “Navient is quitting the federal student loan business,” Cable News Network, September 30, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/30/politics/navient-student-loans/index.html


Infrastructure

We have a top-line number from Joe Manchin: $1.5 trillion.[2] But it appears so-called “progressives” in the House of Representatives held the line, refusing to support the bipartisan infrastructure framework until they also have a reconciliation package, causing Nancy Pelosi to delay a vote on the former.[3]

The Huffington Post styles this as a defeat for Pelosi.[4] More importantly, Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrstin Sinema are now on notice that they cannot get their infrastructure package without “progressives” getting their reconciliation package. The real question is whether Manchin and Sinema in fact care: My bet is that they don’t and that they will blame “progressives” for refusing to support an infrastructure package that the two senators didn’t really want in the first place. So we end up with nothing: not the infrastructure bill, nor the reconciliation package.

Igor Bobic and Arthur Delaney, “Progressive Democrats Stare Down Moderates In Battle Over Biden Agenda,” Huffington Post, September 30, 2021, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/nancy-pelosi-infrastructure-vote_n_6155b857e4b0487c855b9a42

Marianne Levine and Burgess Everett, “Democrats grit their teeth after Manchin lists demands,” Politico, September 30, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/09/30/democrats-grit-teeth-manchin-demands-514836

Marianna Sotomayor, “Waiting for ‘Manchema’: House liberals grow exasperated with two Democratic senators as Biden agenda struggles,” Washington Post, September 30, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/manchin-sinema-reconciliation-liberals/2021/09/30/3aa2b376-2130-11ec-8200-5e3fd4c49f5e_story.html


  1. [1]Katie Lobosco, “Navient is quitting the federal student loan business,” Cable News Network, September 30, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/30/politics/navient-student-loans/index.html
  2. [2]Marianne Levine and Burgess Everett, “Democrats grit their teeth after Manchin lists demands,” Politico, September 30, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/09/30/democrats-grit-teeth-manchin-demands-514836
  3. [3]Igor Bobic and Arthur Delaney, “Progressive Democrats Stare Down Moderates In Battle Over Biden Agenda,” Huffington Post, September 30, 2021, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/nancy-pelosi-infrastructure-vote_n_6155b857e4b0487c855b9a42
  4. [4]Igor Bobic and Arthur Delaney, “Progressive Democrats Stare Down Moderates In Battle Over Biden Agenda,” Huffington Post, September 30, 2021, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/nancy-pelosi-infrastructure-vote_n_6155b857e4b0487c855b9a42

Still looking for a stock market ‘correction?’ You aren’t alone

On review, LinkedIn admitted their error, apologized, and restored the post. The account lives for another day. There is a new blog post entitled, “On profanity.”


Pandemic

(Inter)national

There is another new blog post entitled, “What we owe anti-vaxxers in a life-threatening pandemic.”

Richard Winton, “All California prison guards, staff must get COVID-19 vaccine, federal judge rules,” Los Angeles Times, September 27, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-09-27/california-prison-employees-covid-19-vaccine-judge

Jim Salter, “COVID-related attacks prompt hospital to issue panic buttons,” Associated Press, September 28, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-business-covid-19-pandemic-missouri-springfield-397f9fca72155f35035df85c9f2e0941

Aaron Blake, “The evidence is building: Vaccine mandates work — and well,” Washington Post, September 29, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/09/29/evidence-is-building-vaccine-mandates-work-well/

Christina Baker Kline, “My father should be in surgery rehab. But with beds full of the unvaccinated, he died in covid quarantine,” Washington Post, September 29, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/09/28/christina-baker-kline-father-death-covid-quarantine/


Abortion

Ann E. Marimow and Robert Barnes, “Texas defends law that has halted most abortions in the state,” Washington Post, September 29, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/texas-abortion-ban-ken-paxton/2021/09/29/a1b93a96-2129-11ec-8200-5e3fd4c49f5e_story.html


Infrastructure

Daniel Strauss, “Can Pramila Jayapal Stare Down Manchin and Sinema?” New Republic, September 29, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/163811/pramila-jayapal-infrastructure-manchin-sinema


Wall Street

William D. Cohan, “Coming: Wall Street Executives Await the Big One,” Puck, September 29, 2021, https://puck.news/wall-street-executives-await-the-big-one/


LinkedIn can go stuff itself

As predicted, LinkedIn has censored my last post on their site. They accuse me of bullying and harassment (figure 1):

Fig. 1. Screenshot of email received from LinkedIn, taken by author, September 27, 2021.

The real problem is the word “bullshit,” which is a word I’m rather fond of. It is, in fact, part of the name of this site. LinkedIn conflates prudishness with professionalism and, of course, I reject entirely the allegation of bullying and harassment.

So I’m telling them to stuff it. If they don’t like it, they can close my account. It hasn’t done me any good whatsoever anyway.

On another note, I did indeed receive my COVID-19 vaccine booster yesterday morning. The only side effect to report was a sore arm. The pain intensified through the day, probably because I went straight to work and was using the arm to steer. This morning the pain had receded a bit but the arm was still noticeably weak.

Otherwise, I have suffered no ill effects from the booster and I’m confident the arm will be back to normal soon enough.


Abortion

Moira Donegan, “Two disbarred lawyers sued a Texas doctor who performed an abortion. Flustered ‘pro-lifers’ are backpedaling,” Guardian, September 26, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/sep/26/texas-doctor-abortion-sued-pro-lifers-backpedaling


Supply chain

It isn’t just computer chips. And a lot of the problem is labor, as workers fear returning to work due to the pandemic,[1] they can’t get child care,[2] and, in part, yeah, they’re tired of being treated and paid like shit.[3]

Amy Davidson Sorkin, “The Supply-Chain Mystery,” New Yorker, September 26, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/10/04/the-supply-chain-mystery


  1. [1]Amy Davidson Sorkin, “The Supply-Chain Mystery,” New Yorker, September 26, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/10/04/the-supply-chain-mystery
  2. [2]Heather Long, “‘The pay is absolute crap’: Child-care workers are quitting rapidly, a red flag for the economy,” Washington Post, September 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/09/19/childcare-workers-quit/
  3. [3]Anna Bahney, “Minimum wage workers can’t afford rent anywhere in America,” Cable News Network, July 15, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/15/homes/rent-affordability-minimum-wage/index.html; Dean Baker, “The $26 an Hour Minimum Wage,” Center for Economic Policy and Research, August 19, 2021, https://cepr.net/the-26-an-hour-minimum-wage/; Abha Bhattarai, “Retail workers are quitting at record rates for higher-paying work: ‘My life isn’t worth a dead-end job,’” Washington Post, June 21, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/06/21/retail-workers-quitting-jobs/; Jenn Ladd, “‘This is a real job’: Philly’s restaurant workers dissect the labor shortage, and contemplate a different future,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 10, 2021, https://www.inquirer.com/news/labor-shortage-pandemic-workers-restaurants-philadelphia-hiring-20210710.html; Eric Levitz, “Letting the Economy Create Jobs for Everyone Is (Sadly) Radical,” New York, June 4, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/06/biden-full-employment-policy-labor-shortage-inflation.html; Heather Long, “It’s not a ‘labor shortage.’ It’s a great reassessment of work in America,” Washington Post, May 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/05/07/jobs-report-labor-shortage-analysis/; Anna North, “The death of the job,” Vox, August 24, 2021, https://www.vox.com/22621892/jobs-work-pandemic-covid-great-resignation-2021; Matt Petras, “In the continuing pandemic, businesses need workers, but are jobs meeting the needs of residents?” Public Source, August 12, 2021, https://www.publicsource.org/pittsburgh-workforce-covid-unemployment-hiring-worker-shortage/; Greg Rosalsky, “Is There Really A Truck Driver Shortage?” National Public Radio, May 25, 2021, https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2021/05/25/999784202/is-there-really-a-truck-driver-shortage; Michael Sainato, “Companies claim there’s a labor shortage. Their solution? Prisoners,” Guardian, July 20, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jul/20/companies-claim-theres-a-labor-shortage-their-solution-prisoners; Jon Schwarz, “The Business Class Has Been Fearmongering About Worker Shortages for Centuries,” Intercept, May 7, 2021, https://theintercept.com/2021/05/07/worker-shortage-slavery-capitalism/; Alina Selyukh, “Low Pay, No Benefits, Rude Customers: Restaurant Workers Quit At Record Rate,” National Public Radio, July 20, 2021, https://www.npr.org/2021/07/20/1016081936/low-pay-no-benefits-rude-customers-restaurant-workers-quit-at-record-rate; Eli Rosenberg, “These businesses found a way around the worker shortage: Raising wages to $15 an hour or more,” Washington Post, June 10, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/06/10/worker-shortage-raising-wages/; Francisco Velasquez, “How much money a single person needs to earn to get by in every U.S. state,” CNBC, August 25, 2021, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/08/17/income-a-single-person-needs-to-get-by-in-every-us-state.html

Regenerative agriculture is, literally and figuratively, bullshit

I’m expecting LinkedIn to censor this issue because of the headline. But I do not accept the notion that prudishness is professional. So fuck off, LinkedIn; you have played your role in keeping me underemployed[1] and I appreciate neither that nor your prudery.


Environment

I first encountered the idea of regenerative farming—here labeled regenerative ranching— in Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, an apology, really, for the food system mostly as it is (Pollan acknowledges that regenerative agriculture cannot supply sufficient animal flesh to satisfy consumer wants).[2] It’s bullshit meant to assuage nonhuman animal flesh-eaters’ guilt, and the National Park Service’s determination to preserve ranching but not the endangered tule elk at Point Reyes is merely one highly illustrative example.[3]

Jan Dutkiewicz and Gabriel N. Rosenberg, “The Myth of Regenerative Ranching,” New Republic, September 23, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/163735/myth-regenerative-ranching


Pandemic

(Inter)national

Aaron Blake, “The question Republicans still can’t really answer on vaccine mandates,” Washington Post, September 25, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/09/25/question-republicans-still-cant-really-answer-vaccine-mandates/


Donald Trump

Coup attempt

Meaghan Ellis, “Legal expert explains how the walls are closing in on a flustered Trump,” Raw Story, September 25, 2021, https://www.rawstory.com/trump-legal-problems-2655172197/


  1. [1]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  2. [2]Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma (New York: Penguin 2007).
  3. [3]Jan Dutkiewicz and Gabriel N. Rosenberg, “The Myth of Regenerative Ranching,” New Republic, September 23, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/163735/myth-regenerative-ranching

Poor Donald Trump’s failed election ‘audit’

Donald Trump

Coup attempt

Oh, this has gotta sting. That Arizona so-called election “audit” that sane people have been complaining about?[1] Even it confirmed Joe Biden’s victory.[2]

This was an audit in which they absolutely cooked the procedures, they took funding from sources that should delegitimize, automatically, the finding. This was Donald Trump’s best chance to prove his cases of elections being rigged and fraudulent, and they failed.[3]

Ouch.

Tom Hamburger and Jacqueline Alemany, “Biden White House leans toward releasing information about Trump and Jan. 6 attack, setting off legal and political showdown,” Washington Post, September 23, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-executive-privilege-subpoenas/2021/09/23/1c163312-1ba7-11ec-8380-5fbadbc43ef8_story.html

Rosalind S. Helderman, “Arizona ballot review commissioned by Republicans reaffirms Biden’s victory,” Washington Post, September 24, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/arizona-ballot-review-draft-report/2021/09/24/7c19ac08-1562-11ec-b976-f4a43b740aeb_story.html


Pandemic

(Inter)national

There is a new blog post entitled, “The final refusal.”

After consulting with my doctor, the outcome of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decision on COVID-19 booster shots[4] for me is that I will be receiving my booster on Sunday, September 26, 184 days since my second shot. It will be Pfizer again. I had hoped for Moderna because there had been some indication that the combination is even more effective,[5] but it is not to be.

Lauran Neergaard and Mike Stobbe, “CDC panel recommends Pfizer booster shots for seniors, declines them for healthcare workers,” Los Angeles Times, September 23, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2021-09-23/us-covid-booster-shots

George Monbiot, “Spirited Away,” September 24, 2021, https://www.monbiot.com/2021/09/24/spirited-away/

Lena H. Sun and Laurie McGinley, “Pfizer booster now available to older Americans and those at higher-risk, including on the job, as CDC chief partly overrules panel,” Washington Post, September 24, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/09/23/covid-booster-shots-cdc/


Infrastructure

The challenge with promises of victory[6] lies in knowing whether they are made from positions of strength or positions of weakness. I read Joe Biden’s position as one of weakness. I hope I’m wrong.[7] But I still have this long list of issues affecting a great many people—most of them voters or potential voters—where Democrats have either so far utterly failed to deliver or where they face a strong possibility that they will fail to deliver. Infrastructure is among them:

This is not a track record of strength.

Seung Min Kim and Tony Romm, “Biden defends his social agenda bill, saying the cost will be zero,” Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-defends-agenda-spending/2021/09/24/08e5b01e-1d4c-11ec-914a-99d701398e5a_story.html


Pacific Gas and Electric

Hayley Smith, “PG&E charged with manslaughter in Shasta County fire that killed 4,” Los Angeles Times, September 24, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-09-24/zogg-fire-charges


Anthropology

Freda Kreier, “‘Ghost tracks’ suggest people came to the Americas earlier than once thought,” Science News, September 24, 2021, https://www.sciencenews.org/article/footprints-ghost-tracks-prehistoric-humans-americas


  1. [1]Jennifer Morrell, “I watched the GOP’s Arizona election audit. It was worse than you think,” Washington Post, May 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2021/05/19/gop-arizona-election-audit/
  2. [2]Rosalind S. Helderman, “Arizona ballot review commissioned by Republicans reaffirms Biden’s victory,” Washington Post, September 24, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/arizona-ballot-review-draft-report/2021/09/24/7c19ac08-1562-11ec-b976-f4a43b740aeb_story.html
  3. [3]Ben Ginsberg, quoted in Rosalind S. Helderman, “Arizona ballot review commissioned by Republicans reaffirms Biden’s victory,” Washington Post, September 24, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/arizona-ballot-review-draft-report/2021/09/24/7c19ac08-1562-11ec-b976-f4a43b740aeb_story.html
  4. [4]Lena H. Sun and Laurie McGinley, “Pfizer booster now available to older Americans and those at higher-risk, including on the job, as CDC chief partly overrules panel,” Washington Post, September 24, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/09/23/covid-booster-shots-cdc/
  5. [5]Tala Michel Issa, “Is it safe to mix-and-match COVID-19 vaccines? Here’s what we know so far,” Al Arabiya, June 23, 2021, https://english.alarabiya.net/coronavirus/2021/06/23/s-it-safe-to-mix-and-match-COVID-19-vaccines-Here-s-what-we-know-so-far
  6. [6]Seung Min Kim and Tony Romm, “Biden defends his social agenda bill, saying the cost will be zero,” Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-defends-agenda-spending/2021/09/24/08e5b01e-1d4c-11ec-914a-99d701398e5a_story.html
  7. [7]David Benfell, “If you seek justice, don’t blame the U.S. Senate Parliamentarian,” Not Housebroken, September 20, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/09/20/if-you-seek-justice-dont-blame-the-u-s-senate-parliamentarian/

This isn’t even a negotiation, let alone one in good faith. So-called “centrists” are almost certainly sabotaging infrastructure bills.

Infrastructure

It’s worth noting that the headline on Greg Sargent’s op-ed[1] is self-defeating: It isn’t even remotely hidden when it’s on the Washington Post opinion pages. And the path he lays out really isn’t impressive; it requires so-called “centrists” to be negotiating in good faith.

But the only way the current state of affairs on infrastructure and reconciliation makes sense to me, given that these so-called “centrists” refuse to state their topline budget numbers and refuse to say what they would support,[2] which is to say they are not negotiating at all, let alone in good faith, is that they are perfectly content to see both the bipartisan infrastructure framework as well as the reconciliation package go down in flames.

I’ll even wager that they got some Republicans on board for the bipartisan infrastructure framework with a nod and a wink that they would sabotage all of it. And I’m even more convinced today than yesterday that that’s how this will play.

Heather Caygle, Sarah Ferris, and Jennifer Scholtes, “Dem leaders try for unity — and only get more tough questions,” Politico, September 23, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/09/23/democrats-plan-social-spending-513901

Eric Levitz, “Why Are There So Many Democrats to Joe Biden’s Right?” New York, September 23, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/09/why-are-there-so-many-democrats-to-joe-bidens-right.html

Ryan Lizza et al. to Politico Playbook subscribers, “Inside the room of Biden’s talks with Dems,” September 23, 2021, https://www.politico.com/newsletters/playbook/2021/09/23/inside-the-room-of-bidens-talks-with-dems-494444

Greg Sargent, “Biden’s agenda is in deep danger. But Pelosi has a hidden way out,” Washington Post, September 23, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/09/23/pelosi-biden-miracle-reconciliation/


Donald Trump

Militias

Kaleigh Rogers, “Jan. 6 Has Given The Right Hundreds Of New Martyrs,” FiveThirtyEight, September 22, 2021, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/jan-6-has-given-the-right-hundreds-of-new-martyrs/

Coup attempt

Aymann Ismail, “Trumpists Don’t Need Rallies Anymore,” Slate, September 21, 2021, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2021/09/justice-for-j6-rally-capitol-dc-trump-jason-stanley-interview.html

William Rivers Pitt, “The Rally for the Capitol Mob Fizzled, But This May Be the Calm Before the Storm,” Truthout, September 21, 2021, https://truthout.org/articles/the-rally-for-the-capitol-mob-fizzled-but-this-may-be-the-calm-before-the-storm/

Tom Hamburger and Jacqueline Alemany, “Biden White House leans toward releasing information about Trump and Jan. 6 attack, setting off legal and political showdown,” Washington Post, September 23, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-executive-privilege-subpoenas/2021/09/23/1c163312-1ba7-11ec-8380-5fbadbc43ef8_story.html


  1. [1]Greg Sargent, “Biden’s agenda is in deep danger. But Pelosi has a hidden way out,” Washington Post, September 23, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/09/23/pelosi-biden-miracle-reconciliation/
  2. [2]Heather Caygle, Sarah Ferris, and Jennifer Scholtes, “Dem leaders try for unity — and only get more tough questions,” Politico, September 23, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/09/23/democrats-plan-social-spending-513901; Jonathan Chait, “Kyrsten Sinema Threatens to Kill Her Own Infrastructure Bill,” New York, September 20, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/09/kyrsten-sinema-threatens-infrastructure-bill-biden-build-back-better.html; Eric Levitz, “Why Are There So Many Democrats to Joe Biden’s Right?” New York, September 23, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/09/why-are-there-so-many-democrats-to-joe-bidens-right.html; Ryan Lizza et al. to Politico Playbook subscribers, “Inside the room of Biden’s talks with Dems,” September 23, 2021, https://www.politico.com/newsletters/playbook/2021/09/23/inside-the-room-of-bidens-talks-with-dems-494444; Greg Sargent, “Biden’s agenda is in deep danger. But Pelosi has a hidden way out,” Washington Post, September 23, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/09/23/pelosi-biden-miracle-reconciliation/

Lyft’s mysterious games

Gig economy

Drivers

Last year, when the lockdown was in force, I came due for a background check with Lyft. This is routine, but because of the lockdown, Lyft warned it might take much longer than usual.

The curious part of all this is that Uber and Lyft use the same company for background checks. I came due with Uber at the same time and when I switched to Uber, they turned around the background check in under 24 hours.

Then Lyft did another background check and another and another. They spent most of last year doing background checks on me. And when I tried driving for them again this year, they did another background check. I have repeatedly asked for, even demanded, and still don’t have an explanation. It’s not like there’s anything new on my record.

And when I did succeed in driving for Lyft once last year when I was in Ohio, where Uber won’t let me work, the pay seemed paltry in comparison.

I have a 5.0 driver rating with Lyft. But I’m feeling treated even more like shit by Lyft than by Uber, so guess who I’m driving for.

Faiz Siddiqui, “Lyft built a brand on being the nice gig work app clad in pink. Its drivers paint a different picture,” Washington Post, September 21, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/09/21/lyft-driver-shortage/


Pandemic

International

The weird part is that, though my initial COVID-19 was with the Pfizer shots, the booster I’m still scheduled for on October 9th is Moderna. But the Food and Drug Administration’s decision seems to apply to people seeking a Pfizer booster.[1] I probably qualify anyway because I’m sufficiently overweight (clinically obese) and because I have a lot of public exposure driving for Uber.

The headline on Sarah Knapton’s article for the Telegraph should not be taken as a consensus view; Knapton found at least one other expert who is a lot less confident.[2]

Robbie Whelan, “Doctors Left to Decide Who Gets Extra Covid-19 Vaccines Amid Booster Debate,” Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/doctors-left-to-decide-who-gets-extra-covid-19-vaccines-amid-booster-debate-11632130200

Leana S. Wen, “The CDC should let Americans decide for themselves if their risk warrants getting a booster shot,” Washington Post, September 21, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/09/21/fda-limits-booster-shots-at-risk-americans/

Jared S. Hopkins and Felicia Schwartz, “FDA Clears Covid-19 Booster Shots From Pfizer for High-Risk People,” Wall Street Journal, September 22, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/fda-clears-covid-19-booster-shots-from-pfizer-for-high-risk-people-11632354542

Sarah Knapton, “Nowhere left for Covid to go to mutate into a deadly variant, says Oxford vaccine creator, ” Telegraph, September 22, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/09/22/nowhere-left-covid-go-mutate-deadly-variant-says-oxford-vaccine/

Pittsburgh

Public Source, “Allegheny County prepares for boosters; local COVID cases remain high,” September 23, 2021, https://www.publicsource.org/important-info-on-coronavirus-preparation-in-allegheny-county/


Infrastructure

Joe Biden met with so-called “centrist” lawmakers who refused to commit to a top line number for the reconciliation package—this was Paul Waldman’s complaint, specifically about Kyrsten Sinema,[3] though I’ve seen it more broadly—and progressive lawmakers who demanded to know why a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure framework bill was being rushed, presumably to avert Kysten Sinema’s threat to vote against a bill she helped negotiate,[4] if, given that progressives have promised to vote against it unless it is accompanied by a socially generous reconciliation package, they don’t want to kill it.[5] Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell thinks Democrats can use the reconciliation package to boost the impending debt limit and is refusing Republican support for it, apparently using the threat of default as leverage against that reconciliation package’s generosity, even though this strategy has rather consistently failed with rather ugly backlash for Republicans.[6]

I think McConnell is betting this time will be different. I think those so-called “centrists” came away with egg on their faces for failing to answer a seemingly straight-forward question from the President of the United States. But while I hope I’m wrong,[7] I also don’t see that any of this passes.

Paul Waldman, “Kyrsten Sinema needs to show us what she believes in,” Washington Post, September 20, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/09/20/kyrsten-sinema-needs-show-us-what-she-believes/

Democracy Now! “‘We Need to Deliver’: Anger Grows at Sens. Manchin, Sinema over Obstruction of Democratic Priorities,” September 21, 2021, https://www.democracynow.org/2021/9/21/35_trillion_spending_bill_ro_khanna

Aaron Blake, “Republicans usually lose shutdown fights. So why are they going there again?” Washington Post, September 22, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/09/22/republicans-usually-lose-shutdown-fights-so-why-are-they-going-there-again/

Jeff Stein, “Former GOP treasury secretaries tried defusing debt ceiling bomb in private talks with McConnell, Yellen,” Washington Post, September 22, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/09/22/debt-ceiling-yellen-mnuchin-paulson/

Ryan Lizza et al. to Politico Playbook subscribers, “Inside the room of Biden’s talks with Dems,” September 23, 2021, https://www.politico.com/newsletters/playbook/2021/09/23/inside-the-room-of-bidens-talks-with-dems-494444


Environment

(Not so) ‘clean’ energy

[Daniel] Yergin is not against the electric-car movement per se, but he thinks most people don’t realize how much fossil-fuel and other environmental disruption must happen in order to make electric cars. He said some 20 percent of an electric car is made of plastic, which of course is derived from fossil fuels, and that some 500,000 pounds of earth has to be moved to make a 1,000-pound battery because of the minerals—chiefly lithium, cobalt and copper—that are mined to make it. “You get rid of one set of dependencies and you get another,” he said. “The slogans are there, but the reality, when you get down to the engineering and making it happen, gets a lot more complicated. There’s a carbon footprint in mining, as well.”[8]

William D. Cohan, “‘From Big Oil to Big Shovels’: Daniel Yergin Outlines the Future of Energy,” Puck, September 22, 2021, https://puck.news/from-big-oil-to-big-shovels-daniel-yergin-outlines-the-future-of-energy/

Pittsburgh

Ryan Deto, “U.S. Steel is challenging an Allegheny County proposed air quality regulation,” Pittsburgh City Paper, September 22, 2021, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/us-steel-is-challenging-an-allegheny-county-proposed-air-quality-regulation/Content?oid=20236775


White supremacist gangs

Felicia Sonmez and Mike DeBonis, “No deal on bill to overhaul policing in aftermath of protests over killing of Black Americans,” Washington Post, September 22, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/policing-george-floyd-congress-legislation/2021/09/22/36324a34-1bc9-11ec-a99a-5fea2b2da34b_story.html


  1. [1]Jared S. Hopkins and Felicia Schwartz, “FDA Clears Covid-19 Booster Shots From Pfizer for High-Risk People,” Wall Street Journal, September 22, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/fda-clears-covid-19-booster-shots-from-pfizer-for-high-risk-people-11632354542
  2. [2]Sarah Knapton, “Nowhere left for Covid to go to mutate into a deadly variant, says Oxford vaccine creator, ” Telegraph, September 22, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/09/22/nowhere-left-covid-go-mutate-deadly-variant-says-oxford-vaccine/
  3. [3]Paul Waldman, “Kyrsten Sinema needs to show us what she believes in,” Washington Post, September 20, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/09/20/kyrsten-sinema-needs-show-us-what-she-believes/
  4. [4]Paul Waldman, “Kyrsten Sinema needs to show us what she believes in,” Washington Post, September 20, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/09/20/kyrsten-sinema-needs-show-us-what-she-believes/
  5. [5]Ryan Lizza et al. to Politico Playbook subscribers, “Inside the room of Biden’s talks with Dems,” September 23, 2021, https://www.politico.com/newsletters/playbook/2021/09/23/inside-the-room-of-bidens-talks-with-dems-494444
  6. [6]Aaron Blake, “Republicans usually lose shutdown fights. So why are they going there again?” Washington Post, September 22, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/09/22/republicans-usually-lose-shutdown-fights-so-why-are-they-going-there-again/; Jeff Stein, “Former GOP treasury secretaries tried defusing debt ceiling bomb in private talks with McConnell, Yellen,” Washington Post, September 22, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/09/22/debt-ceiling-yellen-mnuchin-paulson/
  7. [7]David Benfell, “If you seek justice, don’t blame the U.S. Senate Parliamentarian,” Not Housebroken, September 20, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/09/20/if-you-seek-justice-dont-blame-the-u-s-senate-parliamentarian/
  8. [8]William D. Cohan, “‘From Big Oil to Big Shovels’: Daniel Yergin Outlines the Future of Energy,” Puck, September 22, 2021, https://puck.news/from-big-oil-to-big-shovels-daniel-yergin-outlines-the-future-of-energy/

This is no way to run a republic or a business

Infrastructure

Jonathan Chait, “Kyrsten Sinema Threatens to Kill Her Own Infrastructure Bill,” New York, September 20, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/09/kyrsten-sinema-threatens-infrastructure-bill-biden-build-back-better.html

Mike DeBonis, Sean Sullivan and Maria Sacchetti, “After immigration ruling, Democrats’ once-sweeping agenda continues to shrink,” Washington Post, September 20, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/immigration-reconciliation-democrats-agenda/2021/09/20/bee98da2-1a29-11ec-a99a-5fea2b2da34b_story.html

Paul Waldman, “Kyrsten Sinema needs to show us what she believes in,” Washington Post, September 20, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/09/20/kyrsten-sinema-needs-show-us-what-she-believes/

Democracy Now! “‘We Need to Deliver’: Anger Grows at Sens. Manchin, Sinema over Obstruction of Democratic Priorities,” September 21, 2021, https://www.democracynow.org/2021/9/21/35_trillion_spending_bill_ro_khanna


Voting rights

Even some donors are getting fed up with the Democrats:

Still, some leading progressives haven’t felt that Schumer and Joe Biden are doing all they can to prioritize the [voting rights] legislation. Several major donors have lodged complaints with the White House and Democratic leadership about the lack of urgency, I am told, with some making vague threats about denying future funding to the party until some version of the voting rights bill becomes law. “It’s just good money after bad now. So much money and time went in, victory secured, and Dems can’t wield power,” one frustrated Democratic major donor told me. “So investing now is like an abusive relationship.”[1]

Theodore Schleifer’s article, from which I drew the above quotation, is principally a profile of Karla Jurvetson, presumably one of those donors. You probably haven’t heard of her—she mostly keeps a low profile—but she’s well known to the Democratic Party powers that be. And she’s talking about funding a primary challenge to Kyrsten Sinema.[2]

Theodore Schleifer, “The Los Altos Shrink Taking Over Washington,” Puck News, September 21, 2021, https://puck.news/karla-jurvetson-goes-for-broke/


Pandemic

National

Robbie Whelan, “Doctors Left to Decide Who Gets Extra Covid-19 Vaccines Amid Booster Debate,” Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/doctors-left-to-decide-who-gets-extra-covid-19-vaccines-amid-booster-debate-11632130200

Leana S. Wen, “The CDC should let Americans decide for themselves if their risk warrants getting a booster shot,” Washington Post, September 21, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/09/21/fda-limits-booster-shots-at-risk-americans/


Donald Trump

Coup attempt

Aymann Ismail interviews Jason Stanley in Slate:

The entire Republican establishment was taken over by this. It’s not the followers we should focus on, it’s the authoritarian movement growing inside the Republican Party that threatens not just the country, but with climate change, the world. The question is: Why is it not helpful to have mass violent rallies right now? It’s not helpful because the movement, the fascist social and politic movement, is winning. They’re changing the election laws in state after state. You want rallies, look at the anti–critical race theory and anti-mask rallies at school boards all over the country. That’s what we should be looking at.[3]

I’m not fond of interviews; I find them inefficient and indeed this one has Stanley repeating himself at Ismail’s prompting.[4] But it’s a terribly important interview and you should read it anyway.

Aymann Ismail, “Trumpists Don’t Need Rallies Anymore,” Slate, September 21, 2021, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2021/09/justice-for-j6-rally-capitol-dc-trump-jason-stanley-interview.html

William Rivers Pitt, “The Rally for the Capitol Mob Fizzled, But This May Be the Calm Before the Storm,” Truthout, September 21, 2021, https://truthout.org/articles/the-rally-for-the-capitol-mob-fizzled-but-this-may-be-the-calm-before-the-storm/


Gig economy

Bezzles

Uber reports and flaunts adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA). The list of exclusions is considerably longer:

We define Adjusted EBITDA as net income (loss), excluding (i) income (loss) from discontinued operations, net of income taxes, (ii) net income (loss) attributable to non-controlling interests, net of tax, (iii) provision for (benefit from) income taxes, (iv) income (loss) from equity method investments, (v) interest expense, (vi) other income (expense), net, (vii) depreciation and amortization, (viii) stock-based compensation expense, (ix) certain legal, tax, and regulatory reserve changes and settlements, (x) goodwill and asset impairments/loss on sale of assets, (xi) acquisition and financing related expenses, (xii) restructuring and related charges and (xiii) other items not indicative of our ongoing operating performance, including COVID-19 response initiative related payments for financial assistance to Drivers personally impacted by COVID-19, the cost of personal protective equipment distributed to Drivers, Driver reimbursement for their cost of purchasing personal protective equipment, the costs related to free rides and food deliveries to healthcare workers, seniors, and others in need as well as charitable donations.[5]

Hubert Horan, in Naked Capitalism, wrote in 2020:

For many years this series has argued that the market is fundamentally unwilling to pay prices that would cover Uber’s actual costs, that after ten years it has demonstrated that it cannot “grow into profitability” and that there is no evidence that Uber’s business model is capable of achieving the massive, multi-billion dollar improvements that would be required to achieve sustainable profitability anytime soon. There is no data in Uber’s 2019 Annual Report that would cast any doubt on these arguments.[6]

That the numbers fundamentally fail to come out in any humane way has always been the story. It was even the story with the taxi industry long before Uber and Lyft, even when I was a taxi driver in San Francisco in the dot-com era (I got sucked into Linuxcare as a technical writer about a year before it, both the era and the company, went bust) where restaurants were desperate for (and successfully lobbied for) more cabs to cover peak times, which meant drivers on ten-hour shifts suffered on non-peak times, but still, as so-called “independent contractors” (you didn’t really think Uber invented the worker misclassification scam, did you?) had to pay to work, whether they worked their entire shifts or not, whether they made any money or not.

At that time, I thought no reputable business person would touch the taxi business with a ten-foot pole. That was before I learned how capitalism works, that capitalism fundamentally relies on labor exploitation and depends on human misery and human desperation to enforce that exploitation.[7] It’s a little less often that capitalism targets investors as well, but Horan explains the adjusted EBITDA bullshit:

Since its GAAP profitability results are so awful, Uber’s financial releases and Dara Khosrowshahi’s public statements have come to almost exclusively emphasize EBITDA measures. The problem is that none of these honestly measure EBITDA, and Uber aggressively misrepresents EBITDA as “profit.”

Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) is a non-GAAP intermediate contribution measure that has no obvious relevance to Uber, and even if accurately calculated should be ignored by investors. EBITDA is sometimes used by companies with very large fixed assets, large intangible assets (such as goodwill acquired after a major merger) or significant debt financing to give outsiders a crude sense of a company’s ability to meet its outstanding financial obligations. Uber has none of these characteristics.

More importantly, Uber’s reported “EBITDA” numbers exclude billions of expenses other than interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. Its primary EBITDA measure excludes the $5 billion in stock-based employee compensation. Its “Segment Adjusted EBITDA” measure also excludes all of the IT expense supporting the Uber platform, and the corporate expenses (accounting, lobbying, etc.) directly supporting all of its current operations.[8]

In short, this is a scam, and Horan stops just short of calling it one, observing how the EBITDA narrative is used to entice investors who don’t read or understand footnotes.[9] Yet it is only by the dint of those footnotes, that Uber avoids the accusation of deception.

Who wins? “[E]xecutives and investors who cash out during its many stock fluctuations.[10]

Tom McKay, “Uber Says It’s on Track to Maybe Make a Fake Profit,” Gizmodo, September 21, 2021, https://gizmodo.com/uber-says-its-on-track-to-maybe-make-a-fake-profit-1847716786


  1. [1]Theodore Schleifer, “The Los Altos Shrink Taking Over Washington,” Puck News, September 21, 2021, https://puck.news/karla-jurvetson-goes-for-broke/
  2. [2]Theodore Schleifer, “The Los Altos Shrink Taking Over Washington,” Puck News, September 21, 2021, https://puck.news/karla-jurvetson-goes-for-broke/
  3. [3]Jason Stanley, quoted in Aymann Ismail, “Trumpists Don’t Need Rallies Anymore,” Slate, September 21, 2021, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2021/09/justice-for-j6-rally-capitol-dc-trump-jason-stanley-interview.html
  4. [4]Aymann Ismail, “Trumpists Don’t Need Rallies Anymore,” Slate, September 21, 2021, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2021/09/justice-for-j6-rally-capitol-dc-trump-jason-stanley-interview.html
  5. [5]Uber, quoted in Tom McKay, “Uber Says It’s on Track to Maybe Make a Fake Profit,” Gizmodo, September 21, 2021, https://gizmodo.com/uber-says-its-on-track-to-maybe-make-a-fake-profit-1847716786
  6. [6]Hubert Horan, “Can Uber Ever Deliver? Part Twenty-Two: Profits and Cash Flow Keep Deteriorating as Uber’s GAAP Losses Hit $8.5 Billion,” Naked Capitalism, February 7, 2020, https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2020/02/hubert-horan-can-uber-ever-deliver-part-twenty-two-profits-and-cash-flow-keep-deteriorating-as-ubers-gaap-losses-hit-8-5-billion.html
  7. [7]David Benfell, “About that alleged ‘labor shortage,’” Not Housebroken, June 10, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/05/09/about-that-alleged-labor-shortage/
  8. [8]Hubert Horan, “Can Uber Ever Deliver? Part Twenty-Two: Profits and Cash Flow Keep Deteriorating as Uber’s GAAP Losses Hit $8.5 Billion,” Naked Capitalism, February 7, 2020, https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2020/02/hubert-horan-can-uber-ever-deliver-part-twenty-two-profits-and-cash-flow-keep-deteriorating-as-ubers-gaap-losses-hit-8-5-billion.html
  9. [9]Hubert Horan, “Can Uber Ever Deliver? Part Twenty-Two: Profits and Cash Flow Keep Deteriorating as Uber’s GAAP Losses Hit $8.5 Billion,” Naked Capitalism, February 7, 2020, https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2020/02/hubert-horan-can-uber-ever-deliver-part-twenty-two-profits-and-cash-flow-keep-deteriorating-as-ubers-gaap-losses-hit-8-5-billion.html
  10. [10]Tom McKay, “Uber Says It’s on Track to Maybe Make a Fake Profit,” Gizmodo, September 21, 2021, https://gizmodo.com/uber-says-its-on-track-to-maybe-make-a-fake-profit-1847716786

Democrats obstruct themselves again

Infrastructure

There is a new blog post entitled, “If you seek justice, don’t blame the U.S. Senate Parliamentarian.”

Jennifer Haberkorn, “Senate parliamentarian won’t allow citizenship pathway for immigrants in Democrats’ spending bill,” Los Angeles Times, September 19, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-09-19/parliamentarian-decision-on-pathway-to-citizenship

Jonathan Chait, “Kyrsten Sinema Threatens to Kill Her Own Infrastructure Bill,” New York, September 20, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/09/kyrsten-sinema-threatens-infrastructure-bill-biden-build-back-better.html

Paul Waldman, “Kyrsten Sinema needs to show us what she believes in,” Washington Post, September 20, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/09/20/kyrsten-sinema-needs-show-us-what-she-believes/


Donald Trump

Coup attempt

Isaac Stanley-Becker, “Lindsey Graham and Mike Lee personally vetted Trump’s fraud claims, new book says. They were unpersuaded,” Washington Post, September 20, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/09/20/peril-woodward-costa-graham-lee-fraud/


Wall Street

This drop in the stock market seems a little too far out of the blue to strike me as significant, but it is a relatively large drop and it does have some folks worried.[1] “The immediate trigger seems to be a Reuters story on Friday saying that Chinese officials told property tycoons in Hong Kong to be more patriotic and back Beijing’s interests in the city, including solving the city’s acute housing shortage,”[2] which is not at all the sort of thing capitalists like to hear. Remember always that the psychology of the market is more important than the actual data.

That said, if the worriers are right about the property market—I’d be surprised but I’m also not paying particular attention—the U.S. property, market[3] where prices have been skyrocketing,[4] could be affected.[5]

Clare Jim and Farah Master, “With tighter grip, Beijing sends message to Hong Kong tycoons: fall in line,” Reuters, September 17, 2021, copy in possession of author.

Gunjan Banerji and Elaine Yu, “Stock Market Pares Losses, but Dow, S&P 500 Fall Nearly 2%,” Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/stock-futures-european-and-asian-indexes-fall-sharply-11632123909

Lianting Tu and Low De Wei, “Contagion worries as Chinese property developer Sinic sinks 87pc,” Sydney Morning Herald, September 20, 2021, https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/contagion-worries-as-chinese-property-developer-sinic-sinks-87pc-20210920-p58tby.html

Jacky Wong, “Hong Kong Tycoons Won’t Escape China Crackdown,” Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/hong-kong-tycoons-wont-escape-chinese-populism-11632135169


  1. [1]Gunjan Banerji and Elaine Yu, “Stock Market Pares Losses, but Dow, S&P 500 Fall Nearly 2%,” Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/stock-futures-european-and-asian-indexes-fall-sharply-11632123909
  2. [2]Jacky Wong, “Hong Kong Tycoons Won’t Escape China Crackdown,” Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/hong-kong-tycoons-wont-escape-chinese-populism-11632135169
  3. [3]Gunjan Banerji and Elaine Yu, “Stock Market Pares Losses, but Dow, S&P 500 Fall Nearly 2%,” Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/stock-futures-european-and-asian-indexes-fall-sharply-11632123909
  4. [4]Jerusalem Demsas, “Covid-19 caused a recession. So why did the housing market boom?” Vox, February 5, 2021, https://www.vox.com/22264268/covid-19-housing-insecurity-housing-prices-mortgage-rates-pandemic-zoning-supply-demand
  5. [5]Gunjan Banerji and Elaine Yu, “Stock Market Pares Losses, but Dow, S&P 500 Fall Nearly 2%,” Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/stock-futures-european-and-asian-indexes-fall-sharply-11632123909

‘Justice for J6’ fizzles but Trumpism is still a problem

Donald Trump

Coup attempt

Geneva Sands, “DHS warns of potential for violence surrounding the ‘Justice for J6’ rally in intelligence brief,” Cable News Network, September 16, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/16/politics/dhs-intelligence-brief-potential-violence/index.html

Emily Davies et al., “‘Justice for J6’ rally starts and ends with small crowds and tight security,” Washington Post, September 18, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2021/09/18/justice-j6-rally-capitol-riot-dc/

Jonathan Lai, “Pa. Senate Democrats sue Republicans to block election review subpoena,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 18, 2021, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/pa-democrats-sue-republican-election-review-20210918.html


Pandemic

Evictions

Liz Theoharis, “The Land of the Free, Where So Many of the Brave Are Homeless,” TomDispatch, September 16, 2021, https://tomdispatch.com/the-land-of-the-free-where-so-many-of-the-brave-are-homeless/


Pollution

Local

Colin Jerolmack, “They Couldn’t Drink Their Water. And Still, They Stayed Quiet,” New York Times, September 17, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/17/opinion/sunday/fracking-pennsylvania-water-contamination.html


California

Secession

The text originally in a previous issue of the Irregular Bullshit has been moved, expanded, and revised in a new blog post entitled, “What is the State of Jefferson?

Ryan Sabalow, “Newsom lost big in California’s conservative State of Jefferson. It barely mattered,” Sacramento Bee, September 15, 2021, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/article254263153.html

Hailey Branson-Potts, “In red California, anger over recall blowout. ‘The Democratic Party is the New York Yankees,’” Los Angeles Times, September 17, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-09-18/rural-red-california-recall-election

Maria L. La Ganga and Anita Chabria, “The Central Valley gives California a recall rarity: a squeaker of a race,” Los Angeles Times, September 18, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-09-18/newsom-california-recall-race-tight-fresno-merced