Spreading microplastics, spreading shit

There is a new blog post entitled, “Memorializing white supremacy.”



Sewage

George Monbiot writes in the United Kingdom for a U.K. paper so it’s easy to think he’s describing British problems that are, well, only in Britain. And often he is. I think that might not be the case this time.

He’s writing about sewage and he starts by writing about overwhelmed and under-regulated sewage treatment plants in Britain so I almost passed over the rest of the article. But it wasn’t just about overwhelmed and under-regulated sewage treatment plants.[4]

After we get through his outrage about untreated sewage flowing into British rivers, it turns out he’s talking about sludge, distributed as fertilizer. It turns out that modern, well-run sewage treatment plants are pretty good at filtering out microplastics so they don’t flow directly into bodies of water.[5]

But those microplastics have to go somewhere, and they do, into the sludge. Which is distributed to farmers as fertilizer. Where the microplastics are leeched out and flow right back into rivers.[6]

I’m pretty sure this is going to be an Amerikkkan problem as well.

George Monbiot, “Muckraking Journalism,” May 29, 2022, https://www.monbiot.com/2022/05/29/muckraking-journalism/


  1. [4]George Monbiot, “Muckraking Journalism,” May 29, 2022, https://www.monbiot.com/2022/05/29/muckraking-journalism/
  2. [5]George Monbiot, “Muckraking Journalism,” May 29, 2022, https://www.monbiot.com/2022/05/29/muckraking-journalism/
  3. [6]George Monbiot, “Muckraking Journalism,” May 29, 2022, https://www.monbiot.com/2022/05/29/muckraking-journalism/

Gig economy blues

Gig economy (neoliberal wet dream)

‘Rideshare’ driving

The low pay[1] is bad enough. But the way a driver knows they’re being scammed is with an increasingly byzantine system of incentives:

Armed with troves of data and the quickly improving capabilities of machine learning, online platforms such as Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. use nudges to coordinate millions of independent workers and extract maximum productivity. This model let Uber scale quickly, with the force of a command-and-control structure, even while corporate framed its drivers as independent, self-directed, and entrepreneurial.[2]

These “nudges” ensure we never, ever, really know how much of any fare we’re actually getting and, by extension, how much the companies are actually taking:[3]

To many drivers, the flexibility of their contractor status is indeed a benefit, but many also describe an experience plagued by uncertainty and arbitrariness. The business model they participate in depends on an asymmetry of power and information: Typically, for example, they have to decide whether to accept a ride without knowing where the pickup or drop-off will be. Unable to assess how much money a trip will bring in, they’re at a disadvantage in the great labor-bidding scrum. “They call us independent workers, as if we have control over what goes on in the app,” says Anthony Arnold, who drives in Las Vegas. “Sure, you can make a bit of money, but it’s not going to be on your terms.”[4]

I am actually, occasionally but unpredictably, seeing origin and destination information on rides before I accept them. The trick is that the offers usually come in while I’m driving my previous passenger to their destination. The information appears in small print. I don’t have time, certainly not in Pittsburgh traffic, to study it fully before deciding whether or not to accept the order. Rather, I sometimes barely have time to attempt to see if the origin even makes sense—I declined one order because the origin appeared as I-376 and the Fort Pitt Tunnel, by no means a reasonable pickup location where one can stop to pick someone up.

And anybody who thinks they’re doing well as an Uber/Lyft driver is failing to account for their costs properly.[5] I don’t care if they think they’re clever enough to outsmart the artificial idiot running the app[6] or not. The numbers simply don’t come out.

Jackie Davalos and Drake Bennett, “Gamification Took Over the Gig Economy. Who’s Really Winning?” Bloomberg, May 27, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2022-05-27/how-uber-and-lyft-gamify-the-gig-economy

Bezzle

It’d be one thing if Uber and Lyft were creating all these abysmal jobs that, now, only the desperate accept,[7] but they still can’t even make money themselves.[8] A reckoning will come. The only question is how long it takes to get here,[9] how long they can stretch out that so-called “cash runway.”[10]

Preetika Rana and Emily Glazer, “Lyft to Pause Some Hiring and Trim Budgets, Citing Economic Slowdown,” Wall Street Journal, May 24, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lyft-to-pause-hiring-and-reduce-budgets-to-reduce-costs-as-shares-plunge-amid-investor-concerns-11653426208

Laura Forman, “Tech’s Reckoning With Reality Is Still Half-Baked,” Wall Street Journal, May 25, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/techs-reckoning-with-reality-is-still-half-baked-11653476401

Brad Stone and Lizette Chapman, “The Tech Rout Isn’t Just Cyclical—It’s Well-Earned, and Overdue,” Bloomberg, May 26, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2022-05-26/meta-amazon-tesla-big-tech-s-stock-selloff-is-long-overdue

Aaron Gordon, “Uber and Lyft Are Out of Ideas, Jacking Up Prices in Desperation for Profit,” Vice, May 27, 2022, https://www.vice.com/en/article/m7vmpb/uber-and-lyft-are-out-of-ideas-jacking-up-prices-in-desperation-for-profit

Preetika Rana, “Uber and Lyft’s New Road: Fewer Drivers, Thrifty Riders and Jittery Investors,” Wall Street Journal, May 27, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-and-lyfts-new-road-fewer-drivers-thrifty-riders-and-jittery-investors-11653651912

Jessica Bursztynsky, “Start-up investors are warning of dark days ahead as boom times are ‘unambiguously over,’” CNBC, May 28, 2022, https://www.cnbc.com/2022/05/28/start-up-investors-issue-warnings-as-boom-times-unambiguously-over.html


  1. [1]Dhruv Mehrotra and Aaron Gordon, “Uber And Lyft Take A Lot More From Drivers Than They Say,” Jalopnik, August 26, 2019, https://jalopnik.com/uber-and-lyft-take-a-lot-more-from-drivers-than-they-sa-1837450373; Alexa Noel, “Revised MIT Study Says Uber, Lyft Drivers Make About $8 or $10 per Hour,” Points Guy, March 8, 2018, https://thepointsguy.com/2018/03/revised-mit-study-says-uber-lyft-drivers-make-about-8-or-10-per-hour/; Kari Paul, “Uber drivers plan shutdown over ‘poverty wages’ as company goes public,” Guardian, April 25, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/apr/24/uber-drivers-strike-ipo; Rida Qadri and Alexandra Mateescu, “Uber and Lyft: woo drivers with stable pay, not short-term honeypots,” Guardian, June 20, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jun/20/gig-economy-companies-uber-lyft-drivers-pandemic; Faiz Siddiqui, “You may be paying more for Uber, but drivers aren’t getting their cut of the fare hike,” Washington Post, June 9, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/06/09/uber-lyft-drivers-price-hike/
  2. [2]Jackie Davalos and Drake Bennett, “Gamification Took Over the Gig Economy. Who’s Really Winning?” Bloomberg, May 27, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2022-05-27/how-uber-and-lyft-gamify-the-gig-economy
  3. [3]Dhruv Mehrotra and Aaron Gordon, “Uber And Lyft Take A Lot More From Drivers Than They Say,” Jalopnik, August 26, 2019, https://jalopnik.com/uber-and-lyft-take-a-lot-more-from-drivers-than-they-sa-1837450373; Rida Qadri and Alexandra Mateescu, “Uber and Lyft: woo drivers with stable pay, not short-term honeypots,” Guardian, June 20, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jun/20/gig-economy-companies-uber-lyft-drivers-pandemic; Faiz Siddiqui, “You may be paying more for Uber, but drivers aren’t getting their cut of the fare hike,” Washington Post, June 9, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/06/09/uber-lyft-drivers-price-hike/
  4. [4]Jackie Davalos and Drake Bennett, “Gamification Took Over the Gig Economy. Who’s Really Winning?” Bloomberg, May 27, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2022-05-27/how-uber-and-lyft-gamify-the-gig-economy
  5. [5]Dhruv Mehrotra and Aaron Gordon, “Uber And Lyft Take A Lot More From Drivers Than They Say,” Jalopnik, August 26, 2019, https://jalopnik.com/uber-and-lyft-take-a-lot-more-from-drivers-than-they-sa-1837450373; Alexa Noel, “Revised MIT Study Says Uber, Lyft Drivers Make About $8 or $10 per Hour,” Points Guy, March 8, 2018, https://thepointsguy.com/2018/03/revised-mit-study-says-uber-lyft-drivers-make-about-8-or-10-per-hour/; Kari Paul, “Uber drivers plan shutdown over ‘poverty wages’ as company goes public,” Guardian, April 25, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/apr/24/uber-drivers-strike-ipo; Faiz Siddiqui, “You may be paying more for Uber, but drivers aren’t getting their cut of the fare hike,” Washington Post, June 9, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/06/09/uber-lyft-drivers-price-hike/
  6. [6]Jackie Davalos and Drake Bennett, “Gamification Took Over the Gig Economy. Who’s Really Winning?” Bloomberg, May 27, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2022-05-27/how-uber-and-lyft-gamify-the-gig-economy
  7. [7]Laura Forman, “Uber and Lyft Need a Sharper Turn,” Wall Street Journal, April 13, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-and-lyft-need-a-sharper-turn-11618311794; Dhruv Mehrotra and Aaron Gordon, “Uber And Lyft Take A Lot More From Drivers Than They Say,” Jalopnik, August 26, 2019, https://jalopnik.com/uber-and-lyft-take-a-lot-more-from-drivers-than-they-sa-1837450373; Mariella Moon, “Uber and Lyft rides are pricier due to a lack of drivers (and the waits are longer, too),” Engadget, June 1, 2021, https://www.engadget.com/uber-lyft-surge-pricing-lack-of-drivers-035835230.html; Alexa Noel, “Revised MIT Study Says Uber, Lyft Drivers Make About $8 or $10 per Hour,” Points Guy, March 8, 2018, https://thepointsguy.com/2018/03/revised-mit-study-says-uber-lyft-drivers-make-about-8-or-10-per-hour/; Edward Ongweso, Jr., “Uber and Lyft Can’t Find Drivers Because Gig Work Sucks,” Vice, July 8, 2021, https://www.vice.com/en/article/7kvej4/uber-and-lyft-cant-find-drivers-because-gig-work-sucks; Kari Paul, “Uber drivers plan shutdown over ‘poverty wages’ as company goes public,” Guardian, April 25, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/apr/24/uber-drivers-strike-ipo; Kari Paul, “Uber and Lyft drivers to join day-long strike over working conditions,” Guardian, July 21, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/jul/21/uber-lyft-drivers-strike-app-based-work-gig-economy; Faiz Siddiqui, “Where have all the Uber drivers gone?” Washington Post, May 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/05/07/uber-lyft-drivers/; 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/; Alissa Walker, “Why Your Uber Ride Is Suddenly Costing a Fortune,” New York, June 4, 2021, https://www.curbed.com/2021/06/uber-lyft-expensive-new-york-city.html
  8. [8]Aaron Gordon, “Uber and Lyft Are Out of Ideas, Jacking Up Prices in Desperation for Profit,” Vice, May 27, 2022, https://www.vice.com/en/article/m7vmpb/uber-and-lyft-are-out-of-ideas-jacking-up-prices-in-desperation-for-profit; Hubert Horan, “Can Uber Ever Deliver? Part Twenty-Nine: Despite Massive Price Increases Uber Losses Top $31 Billion,” Naked Capitalism, February 11, 2022, https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2022/02/hubert-horan-can-uber-ever-deliver-part-twenty-nine-despite-massive-price-increases-uber-losses-top-31-billion.html; Preetika Rana, “Uber and Lyft’s New Road: Fewer Drivers, Thrifty Riders and Jittery Investors,” Wall Street Journal, May 27, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-and-lyfts-new-road-fewer-drivers-thrifty-riders-and-jittery-investors-11653651912
  9. [9]David Benfell, “This is not a business plan,” Not Housebroken, May 26, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/06/20/this-is-not-a-business-plan/
  10. [10]Jessica Bursztynsky, “Start-up investors are warning of dark days ahead as boom times are ‘unambiguously over,’” CNBC, May 28, 2022, https://www.cnbc.com/2022/05/28/start-up-investors-issue-warnings-as-boom-times-unambiguously-over.html

Conservatism is increasingly a monolith: the impending white Christian nationalist takeover of the United States

Ukraine

Joe Barnes, “Germany ‘deliberately watering down’ EU embargo on Russian oil,” Telegraph, May 27, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/05/27/germany-deliberately-watering-eu-plans-embargo-russian-oil-imports/

Dominic Nicholls, “Vladimir Putin’s forces are running out of tanks,” Telegraph, May 27, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/05/27/vladimir-putins-forces-running-tanks/


Gun nuttery

Pennsylvania

Julia Felton, “Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court rules against Pittsburgh gun regulations,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 27, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/pennsylvania-commonwealth-court-rules-against-pittsburgh-gun-regulations/

United States

Here is an example of why, instead of seeing conservatism as diverse, as I did in my dissertation,[1] I am increasingly seeing it as monolithic in the form of white Christian nationalism:

Here, amid acres of guns and tactical gear inside a cavernous [National Rifle Association] convention hall, the proximate cause of the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, was not a rifle, but mental illness, shadowy forces of evil or, as one man in a “Let’s Go Brandon” T-shirt put it, the “destruction of our children” by the teachings of the left.[2]

“[T]he ‘destruction of our children’ by the teachings of the left”[3] mirrors current bigotry against LGBTQ+ folks.[4] It rationalizes sexual repression and censorship of pornography.[5] And here, it excuses a capitalist libertarian attitude toward constitutional rights, including alleged gun rights.[6]

I had excluded capitalist libertarianism and neoconservatism from this conservative monolith[7] but on further consideration, I realize that the white Christian nationalist embrace of capitalist libertarian positions on gun control and COVID-19 mitigation measures compromises[8] the distinction considerably: Capitalist libertarians—call them the irresponsible hedonist capitalist libertarians—often hold socially liberal positions directly contradicting social and traditionalist conservative sexual repression, but a tension was also present between those capitalist libertarians who advocated socially liberal positions and those—call them socially conservative capitalist libertarians—who felt that individuals, if in their light “free,” would make an individual moral choice for “virtue.”[9]

I believe a similar tension exists within neoconservatism, between those who strongly advocate social and traditionalist conservative views, and the last-minute “never Trump” movement that failed to stop Donald Trump from winning the Republican nomination for president in 2016.

In Uvalde, a makeshift memorial of white wooden crosses had gone up for the 19 children and two adults slain [at Robb Elementary School]. But at the NRA meeting in Houston, less than 300 miles away, the shooting had been reduced to a sling stone in the broader culture wars. The slaughter, it was universally agreed, was a tragedy. But gun owners saw themselves as set upon, too.[10]

This sense of aggrievement—some National Rifle Association convention attendees even accuse “the Left’ of pushing the Uvalde shooter to kill, so as to advance an argument for gun control[11]—mirrors that of paleoconservatives, one of the tendencies making up this conservative monolith, who see whites as victims of a conspiracy among “Blacks and browns.” It mirrors the aggrievement of social conservatives, another of those tendencies,[12] who are seizing upon what they see as their last chance to assert control over the country.[13] It mirrors that of authoritarian populists, Trump’s original base,[14] who have, for a thousand years, seen themselves as exploited by a wide-ranging political, economic, and academic ‘elite’ they identify with ‘liberalism.’[15]

Here, finally, is what links white Christian nationalism with support for police white supremacist gangs[16] that I have seen together with the white supremacist militarism and gun nuttery so prevalent around Pittsburgh:[17]

John Thomas, a Republican strategist [who] works on House campaigns across the country . . . said he could envision cutting an ad featuring a Republican’s remarks at the conference: “When times were tough, and the weaker RINOs [Republicans In Name Only] and liberals wanted to take your guns, you know, such and such stood up for your right to protect yourself and your family.”[18]

White Christian nationalist aggrievement is rationalized as protecting their families[19]—their children.

So, with portions of capitalist libertarian and neoconservative tendencies, call it roughly six of the seven tendencies I had identified in my dissertation,[20] now forming a monolith, the resulting typology appears as:

  • White Christian nationalism
  • Irresponsible hedonist capitalist libertarianism
  • “Never Trump” neoconservatism

The consequence is an extraordinarily powerful movement, encompassing nearly all conservatives as white Christian nationalists, that I believe Democrats are helpless[21] to stop in the elections of 2022 and 2024[22] allowing Republicans, as white Christian nationalists, to complete their longstanding project to subvert voting rights and establish a permanent right-wing dictatorship in the United States.

David Siders, “‘It’s straight out of a playbook’: At NRA convention, conspiracy theories abound,” Politico, May 27, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/05/27/nra-convention-uvalde-shooting-00035842


  1. [1]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  2. [2]David Siders, “‘It’s straight out of a playbook’: At NRA convention, conspiracy theories abound,” Politico, May 27, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/05/27/nra-convention-uvalde-shooting-00035842
  3. [3]David Siders, “‘It’s straight out of a playbook’: At NRA convention, conspiracy theories abound,” Politico, May 27, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/05/27/nra-convention-uvalde-shooting-00035842
  4. [4]Sneha Dey and Karen Brooks Harper, “Transgender Texas kids are terrified after governor orders that parents be investigated for child abuse,” Texas Tribune, February 28, 2022, https://www.texastribune.org/2022/02/28/texas-transgender-child-abuse/
  5. [5]Marjorie Heins, Not in Front of the Children (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University, 2007).
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Deconstructing the second amendment,” Not Housebroken, November 30, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/10/04/deconstructing-the-second-amendment/
  7. [7]See update for May 19, 2022: David Benfell, “My 2024 forecast,” Not Housebroken, May 25, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/03/10/my-2024-forecast/
  8. [8]David Benfell, “What we owe anti-vaxxers in a life-threatening pandemic,” Not Housebroken, December 18, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/09/28/what-we-owe-anti-vaxxers-in-a-life-threatening-pandemic/
  9. [9]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  10. [10]David Siders, “‘It’s straight out of a playbook’: At NRA convention, conspiracy theories abound,” Politico, May 27, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/05/27/nra-convention-uvalde-shooting-00035842
  11. [11]David Siders, “‘It’s straight out of a playbook’: At NRA convention, conspiracy theories abound,” Politico, May 27, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/05/27/nra-convention-uvalde-shooting-00035842
  12. [12]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  13. [13]See update for December 10, 2020: David Benfell, “When it’s over but it isn’t,” Not Housebroken, December 21, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/27/when-its-over-but-it-isnt/
  14. [14]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  15. [15]David Benfell, “Barack Obama asks, ‘Why is it that the folks that won the last election are so mad all the time?’” Not Housebroken, November 4, 2018, https://disunitedstates.org/2018/11/04/barack-obama-asks-why-is-it-that-the-folks-that-won-the-last-election-are-so-mad-all-the-time/
  16. [16]David Benfell, “Stephen Zappala’s resignation would be nowhere near enough,” Not Housebroken, January 4, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/06/03/stephen-zappalas-resignation-would-be-nowhere-near-enough/
  17. [17]David Benfell, “The banners and the guns: Flagrant racism in Pittsburgh,” Not Housebroken, April 6, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/09/20/the-banners-and-the-guns-flagrant-racism-in-pittsburgh/
  18. [18]David Siders, “‘It’s straight out of a playbook’: At NRA convention, conspiracy theories abound,” Politico, May 27, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/05/27/nra-convention-uvalde-shooting-00035842
  19. [19]David Siders, “‘It’s straight out of a playbook’: At NRA convention, conspiracy theories abound,” Politico, May 27, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/05/27/nra-convention-uvalde-shooting-00035842
  20. [20]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  21. [21]David Benfell, “Democrats and contradiction,” Not Housebroken, January 20, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/11/18/democrats-and-contradiction/; Benjamin Hart, “The Democratic Party Is Extremely Unpopular Right Now,” New York, May 16, 2022, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2022/05/the-democratic-party-is-extremely-unpopular-right-now.html
  22. [22]David Benfell, “My 2024 forecast,” Not Housebroken, May 25, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/03/10/my-2024-forecast/

Why isn’t Donald Trump being sanctioned for frivolous lawsuits?

Gig economy (neoliberal wet dream)

Bezzle

It’s still[1] not a business plan:[2]

The fundamental problem Uber and Lyft keep running into is that most people are not willing to pay the fares it would cost to run a profitable taxi service with the overhead Uber and Lyft require, to say nothing of paying drivers a decent wage. And alternatives both companies are pegging their hopes to like shared rides are not new ideas but recycled old ones that have proven even more costly because it turns out if people in urban areas are price-sensitive and willing to share a vehicle with strangers they will take a bus. The end result is an algorithm that offers you a discount to ride in a car it expects to have multiple passengers but more often than not is just another single-occupant taxi ride and just another loss leader for companies struggling to come up with ideas that make money.[3]

I’d have to check the details to be sure, but it looks to me like Aaron Gordon, from whom I quote above, wrote his analysis[4] after Preetika Rana wrote hers.[5]

Preetika Rana and Emily Glazer, “Lyft to Pause Some Hiring and Trim Budgets, Citing Economic Slowdown,” Wall Street Journal, May 24, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lyft-to-pause-hiring-and-reduce-budgets-to-reduce-costs-as-shares-plunge-amid-investor-concerns-11653426208

Laura Forman, “Tech’s Reckoning With Reality Is Still Half-Baked,” Wall Street Journal, May 25, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/techs-reckoning-with-reality-is-still-half-baked-11653476401

Brad Stone and Lizette Chapman, “The Tech Rout Isn’t Just Cyclical—It’s Well-Earned, and Overdue,” Bloomberg, May 26, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2022-05-26/meta-amazon-tesla-big-tech-s-stock-selloff-is-long-overdue

Aaron Gordon, “Uber and Lyft Are Out of Ideas, Jacking Up Prices in Desperation for Profit,” Vice, May 27, 2022, https://www.vice.com/en/article/m7vmpb/uber-and-lyft-are-out-of-ideas-jacking-up-prices-in-desperation-for-profit

Preetika Rana, “Uber and Lyft’s New Road: Fewer Drivers, Thrifty Riders and Jittery Investors,” Wall Street Journal, May 27, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-and-lyfts-new-road-fewer-drivers-thrifty-riders-and-jittery-investors-11653651912


Donald Trump

Finances

I guess I don’t understand what a frivolous lawsuit really is, because it’s my very clear impression, an impression I would think has not been lost on judges, that Donald Trump files these lawsuits not on merit but as a desperate stalling tactic.

Shayna Jacobs, “Federal judge dismisses Trump’s lawsuit against N.Y. attorney general,” Washington Post, May 27, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/05/27/trump-new-york-lawsuit/


Mitch McConnell

Practice may make perfect, but it’s apparently getting harder to be Mitch McConnell. That’s not by any means to say he’s done. It seems no one of consequence wants his job,[6] particularly when they think, with good reason, they have a lame duck president to run against[7] whose job they do actually want.[8] The latter, of course, depends on Donald Trump, for whatever reason, not running—and I don’t know of anyone who’s banking on this.

Tara Palmeri, “The Agony and Ecstasy of Mitch McConnell,” Puck News, May 26, 2022, https://puck.news/the-agony-and-ecstasy-of-mitch-mcconnell/


  1. [1]Aaron Gordon, “Uber and Lyft Are Out of Ideas, Jacking Up Prices in Desperation for Profit,” Vice, May 27, 2022, https://www.vice.com/en/article/m7vmpb/uber-and-lyft-are-out-of-ideas-jacking-up-prices-in-desperation-for-profit
  2. [2]David Benfell, “This is not a business plan,” Not Housebroken, May 26, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/06/20/this-is-not-a-business-plan/
  3. [3]Aaron Gordon, “Uber and Lyft Are Out of Ideas, Jacking Up Prices in Desperation for Profit,” Vice, May 27, 2022, https://www.vice.com/en/article/m7vmpb/uber-and-lyft-are-out-of-ideas-jacking-up-prices-in-desperation-for-profit
  4. [4]Aaron Gordon, “Uber and Lyft Are Out of Ideas, Jacking Up Prices in Desperation for Profit,” Vice, May 27, 2022, https://www.vice.com/en/article/m7vmpb/uber-and-lyft-are-out-of-ideas-jacking-up-prices-in-desperation-for-profit
  5. [5]Preetika Rana, “Uber and Lyft’s New Road: Fewer Drivers, Thrifty Riders and Jittery Investors,” Wall Street Journal, May 27, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-and-lyfts-new-road-fewer-drivers-thrifty-riders-and-jittery-investors-11653651912
  6. [6]Tara Palmeri, “The Agony and Ecstasy of Mitch McConnell,” Puck News, May 26, 2022, https://puck.news/the-agony-and-ecstasy-of-mitch-mcconnell/
  7. [7]David Benfell, “My 2024 forecast,” Not Housebroken, May 25, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/03/10/my-2024-forecast/
  8. [8]Tara Palmeri, “The Agony and Ecstasy of Mitch McConnell,” Puck News, May 26, 2022, https://puck.news/the-agony-and-ecstasy-of-mitch-mcconnell/

Experts say John Fetterman’s heart condition is more than atrial fibrillation (Updated)

See correction for May 27, 2022, under the John Fetterman heading.

Gig economy (neoliberal wet dream)

Bezzle

VC high priests often argue that these downturns are macroeconomic acts of God, like some 100-year storm, or, OK, fine, maybe a 15-year storm—anyway, no need for anyone to moderate their selfishness or learn other pesky lessons. In this case, the argument goes, two decades of low interest rates cast tech companies as alluring investments, sending a flood of capital from public markets their way. Competition to back the most promising startups then drove valuations to unsustainable heights, until an unprecedented confluence of bad news (Covid-19, Ukraine, inflation) brought it all crashing down. It’s comforting to blame the world. But the truer explanation, one that necessitates a real reckoning, is that the industry, once again, is facing up to the compounding impact of its bad decisions.

It started with the two things that motivate all venture capitalists: 1) a paralyzing fear of missing the next big thing, and 2) greed. A decade ago, new companies began making their way out of startup schools such as Y Combinator asking to be valued in the millions of dollars before they’d ever earned a cent. To attract the most promising startups, certain VC firms, notably Andreessen Horowitz, eagerly endorsed this high-stakes grade inflation and often allowed founders to cash out before they’d proved their business models. High-profile collapses, such as the blood-testing disaster Theranos and the office-sharing supernova WeWork, led to some bingeworthy TV but didn’t prompt a serious retreat from this Monopoly-money mindset. Instead, VC firms and their new rivals, such as SoftBank Group Corp. and Tiger Global Management LLC, continued jockeying to invest and bid up prices every step of the way. “There was so much money available at every stage and everywhere you looked,” says Jeff Clavier, managing partner of early-stage investment firm Uncork Capital.[1]

On the one hand, as I’ve previously mentioned,[2] I feel somewhat disconnected from a possibly popping bubble. I’m not where I was for the dot-com bust in 2000-2001. So it’s hard for me to sense what I did then, that yes, what Brad Stone and Lizette Chapman describe is real. On the other hand, white the names and specific modalities are different, what they describe most definitely sounds familiar, but if I’m reading them correctly, on a far more massive scale.[3] And if Laura Forman is right, it makes Uber[4] and, now, Lyft[5] look relatively responsible—the two companies are both reacting to what Uber Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi called “the ‘seismic shift’ in investor sentiment.”[6] Whether that’s enough very much remains to be seen.

What I can say is that the pattern of business I’m seeing personally as a driver, on that other hand, profoundly vulnerable to the business cycle seems strikingly to have shifted in recent days. I can’t really say my bottom line is affected yet but I’m seeing fewer rides and a lot of time between them, particularly on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, always the worst two days of the week, at a time of year when business should be on the upswing following dreadful winter doldrums.

I don’t know what, if anything, this portends. It could be that somehow I ride this out like I did the pandemic. It could be I don’t. It could be that what I’ve seen over the flast few days is a meaningless flash in the pan. Or it could just further signify a return the bad old days pre-pandemic. I don’t know, I’m a single case, and as always, there are confounding variables I’m not accounting for, like that I’ve really become intolerant of passenger nonsense, in which I intend to limit who is getting in my car.[7]

Preetika Rana and Emily Glazer, “Lyft to Pause Some Hiring and Trim Budgets, Citing Economic Slowdown,” Wall Street Journal, May 24, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lyft-to-pause-hiring-and-reduce-budgets-to-reduce-costs-as-shares-plunge-amid-investor-concerns-11653426208

Laura Forman, “Tech’s Reckoning With Reality Is Still Half-Baked,” Wall Street Journal, May 25, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/techs-reckoning-with-reality-is-still-half-baked-11653476401

Brad Stone and Lizette Chapman, “The Tech Rout Isn’t Just Cyclical—It’s Well-Earned, and Overdue,” Bloomberg, May 26, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2022-05-26/meta-amazon-tesla-big-tech-s-stock-selloff-is-long-overdue


John Fetterman

So there is now a huge question whether John Fetterman is fit for a six-year term as U.S. senator:[8]

The uncertainty stems from how [John] Fetterman’s campaign and his wife, Gisele, have characterized his heart condition: a common, irregular rhythm called atrial fibrillation (A-fib). They said the A-fib led to his May 13 stroke, and that is indeed a common cause of stroke. But when he got the defibrillator four days later, they said the device was implanted to treat the A-fib.

But that’s not what defibrillators are for, leading cardiologists not involved in his care to suggest that Fetterman, 52, has another heart condition the campaign hasn’t disclosed.[9]

I am not a psychologist, but I think John Fetterman’s appeal to a lot of Pennsylvania working class folks, folks whose votes he’ll surely need to win in November, rests on something of a plain-speaking tough guy persona. Much as I want to trust his wife, Gisele, who has her own incredible backstory—she’s the one with real courage in that family—we’re clearly not getting the plain-speaking part with Fetterman’s heart condition[10] and I have to wonder if the reason for that might be that disclosure would undermine the tough guy persona.

Whatever the truth of that is, it leaves that question of fitness wide open. There is also a question how much it will matter to Pennsylvania voters, at least until his tough guy persona falters. Something I noticed right away upon arrival was that obesity and tobacco smoking are both much more common here than in California. It’s another nuance I really don’t have a grasp on: Will Fetterman’s heart attack serve to humanize him further? Would Dr. Mehmet Oz, apparently a real doctor—and a cardiac surgeon at that—who only plays a quack on television,[11] shred the claim that it was “only” atrial fibrillation on the campaign trail?

Update, May 27, 2022: So my mom saw this and sent me several authoritative articles saying that, yes, defibrillators can be used for atrial fibrillation and have in fact been approved for this use by the Food and Drug Administration since 2001.[12] So I don’t know what’s going on with the Philadelphia Inquirer article.[13]

Tom Avril and Julia Terruso, “John Fetterman got a defibrillator after his stroke. But doctors say the campaign’s story ‘doesn’t make sense,’” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 26, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/john-fetterman-stroke-health-pacemaker-defibrillator-afib-20220526.html


  1. [1]Brad Stone and Lizette Chapman, “The Tech Rout Isn’t Just Cyclical—It’s Well-Earned, and Overdue,” Bloomberg, May 26, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2022-05-26/meta-amazon-tesla-big-tech-s-stock-selloff-is-long-overdue
  2. [2]David Benfell, “This is not a business plan,” Not Housebroken, May 22, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/06/20/this-is-not-a-business-plan/
  3. [3]Brad Stone and Lizette Chapman, “The Tech Rout Isn’t Just Cyclical—It’s Well-Earned, and Overdue,” Bloomberg, May 26, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2022-05-26/meta-amazon-tesla-big-tech-s-stock-selloff-is-long-overdue
  4. [4]Reuters, “Uber to cut costs, slow down hiring, CEO tells staff,” May 9, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/business/autos-transportation/uber-cut-costs-slow-down-hiring-ceo-tells-staff-cnbc-2022-05-09/
  5. [5]Preetika Rana and Emily Glazer, “Lyft to Pause Some Hiring and Trim Budgets, Citing Economic Slowdown,” Wall Street Journal, May 24, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lyft-to-pause-hiring-and-reduce-budgets-to-reduce-costs-as-shares-plunge-amid-investor-concerns-11653426208
  6. [6]Reuters, “Uber to cut costs, slow down hiring, CEO tells staff,” May 9, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/business/autos-transportation/uber-cut-costs-slow-down-hiring-ceo-tells-staff-cnbc-2022-05-09/
  7. [7]I have a dangerous job; ordering an Uber or Lyft ride is not, I repeat, not rocket science; and the companies can only partially mitigate the risk to myself and my car, which I’d like to keep nice: David Benfell, “Gaslighting Uber drivers on safety,” Not Housebroken, April 28, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/04/28/gaslighting-uber-drivers-on-safety/ Any deviation from the norm is, to me, necessarily, a red flag. If you can’t get your order right, including getting your pickup location right, I’m wondering if I trust you to be in my car and will just as soon cancel the ride. If you in any way misbehave, including according to rules I have posted, I’ll give you a one-star rating in the hope I’ll never be matched with you again: David Benfell, “The vulnerability of Uber and Lyft driving,” Not Housebroken, February 18, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/02/18/the-vulnerability-of-uber-and-lyft-driving/
  8. [8]Tom Avril and Julia Terruso, “John Fetterman got a defibrillator after his stroke. But doctors say the campaign’s story ‘doesn’t make sense,’” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 26, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/john-fetterman-stroke-health-pacemaker-defibrillator-afib-20220526.html
  9. [9]Tom Avril and Julia Terruso, “John Fetterman got a defibrillator after his stroke. But doctors say the campaign’s story ‘doesn’t make sense,’” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 26, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/john-fetterman-stroke-health-pacemaker-defibrillator-afib-20220526.html
  10. [10]Tom Avril and Julia Terruso, “John Fetterman got a defibrillator after his stroke. But doctors say the campaign’s story ‘doesn’t make sense,’” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 26, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/john-fetterman-stroke-health-pacemaker-defibrillator-afib-20220526.html
  11. [11]Trip Gabriel, “Dr. Oz Says He’s Running for Senate in Pennsylvania,” New York Times, November 30, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/30/us/politics/dr-oz-senate-run-pennsylvania.html
  12. [12]Lisa Benton, “Atrial Defibrillation: A New Treatment for Atrial Fibrillation How Do We Best Manage These Patients?” EP Lab Digest, September 2002, https://www.hmpgloballearningnetwork.com/site/eplab/articles/atrial-defibrillation-a-new-treatment-atrial-fibrillation-how-do-we-best-manage-these-patie; J. Christoph Geller et al. “Treatment of atrial fibrillation with an implantable atrial defibrillator — long term results,” European Heart Journal 24, no. 23 (2003): 2083–2089, doi: 10.1016/j.ehj.2003.09.033; University of California, San Francisco, “Atrial Fibrillation Treatments,” 2022, https://www.ucsfhealth.org/conditions/atrial-fibrillation/treatment
  13. [13]Tom Avril and Julia Terruso, “John Fetterman got a defibrillator after his stroke. But doctors say the campaign’s story ‘doesn’t make sense,’” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 26, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/john-fetterman-stroke-health-pacemaker-defibrillator-afib-20220526.html

Rinse and repeat ad nauseum

Gig economy (neoliberal wet dream)

Bezzle

Preetika Rana and Emily Glazer, “Lyft to Pause Some Hiring and Trim Budgets, Citing Economic Slowdown,” Wall Street Journal, May 24, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lyft-to-pause-hiring-and-reduce-budgets-to-reduce-costs-as-shares-plunge-amid-investor-concerns-11653426208

Laura Forman, “Tech’s Reckoning With Reality Is Still Half-Baked,” Wall Street Journal, May 25, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/techs-reckoning-with-reality-is-still-half-baked-11653476401


Gun nuttery

United States

I have had very little to say about recent mass shootings because, really, what more can be said when so many people, especially white Christian nationalists confuse their guns for their penises, some politicians, especially white Christian nationalist politicians, refuse to act, other politicians—I’m looking at you, Democrats—fail to act and instead settle for blaming the politicians who refuse to act, and this has been the same story for so many years?[1]

Jon Allsop praises an effort to change this sorry script,[2] but, really, the story remains the same: People, sometimes kids, get shot. People get outraged. Politicians do nothing. Rinse, repeat.[3] Meanwhile, the Supreme Court appears set to strike down “a long-standing New York law that forbids individuals from carrying guns in public without first demonstrating a ‘special need’ for self-defense” and may very well take the opportunity to rule much more broadly in favor of gun nuts.[4] When something about all this changes, we’ll have moved from what should be to what is. Until then, it’s all semantic bullshit and I won’t be impressed.

But it is remarkable that the freedom to live is only important when it’s a zygote inside a woman’s body, and certainly not when people’s alleged gun rights[5] or alleged rights to spread disease[6] are threatened.

Ashley Parker, Tyler Pager, and Colby Itkowitz, “From Sandy Hook to Buffalo: Ten years of failure on gun control,” Washington Post, May 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/05/22/guns-biden-democrats-buffalo/

Jon Allsop, “A massacre in Uvalde, and the ‘numbing script’ of gun-violence coverage,” Columbia Journalism Review, May 25, 2022, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/uvalde_shooting_media.php

Kevin Rector, “U.S. gun laws are getting looser, not stronger, despite more mass shootings,” Los Angeles Times, May 25, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-05-25/mass-shootings-renew-calls-for-stricter-gun-laws-experts-say-the-opposite-is-coming


  1. [1]Ashley Parker, Tyler Pager, and Colby Itkowitz, “From Sandy Hook to Buffalo: Ten years of failure on gun control,” Washington Post, May 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/05/22/guns-biden-democrats-buffalo/
  2. [2]Jon Allsop, “A massacre in Uvalde, and the ‘numbing script’ of gun-violence coverage,” Columbia Journalism Review, May 25, 2022, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/uvalde_shooting_media.php
  3. [3]Jon Allsop, “A massacre in Uvalde, and the ‘numbing script’ of gun-violence coverage,” Columbia Journalism Review, May 25, 2022, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/uvalde_shooting_media.php; Ashley Parker, Tyler Pager, and Colby Itkowitz, “From Sandy Hook to Buffalo: Ten years of failure on gun control,” Washington Post, May 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/05/22/guns-biden-democrats-buffalo/
  4. [4]Kevin Rector, “U.S. gun laws are getting looser, not stronger, despite more mass shootings,” Los Angeles Times, May 25, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-05-25/mass-shootings-renew-calls-for-stricter-gun-laws-experts-say-the-opposite-is-coming
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Deconstructing the second amendment,” Not Housebroken, November 30, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/10/04/deconstructing-the-second-amendment/
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Free speech, COVID-19, and responsibility,” Not Housebroken, January 28, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/01/28/free-speech-covid-19-and-responsibility/

The devil went down to Georgia . . . and he failed to make a deal

With apologies to Charlie Daniels.[1]


Gig economy (neoliberal wet dream)

Bezzle

Preetika Rana and Emily Glazer, “Lyft to Pause Some Hiring and Trim Budgets, Citing Economic Slowdown,” Wall Street Journal, May 24, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lyft-to-pause-hiring-and-reduce-budgets-to-reduce-costs-as-shares-plunge-amid-investor-concerns-11653426208


Roman-Catholic Church

Sex

Donna Cassata and John Wagner, “Pelosi challenges archbishop’s denial of Communion over abortion rights,” Washington Post, May 24, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/05/24/pelosi-abortion-catholic-church/

Michael Coren, “Spare us the pseudo-Christian virtue signalling over Nancy Pelosi’s soul,” New Statesman, May 25, 2022, https://www.newstatesman.com/quickfire/2022/05/nancy-pelosi-spare-pseudo-christian-virtue-signalling


Donald Trump

Coup attempt

It would appear that Donald Trump still[2] doesn’t have the votes in Georgia,[3] with at least one voter—I’m phrasing it this way on purpose because I’m not seeing a real analysis of why Georgia voters voted the way they did—saying Trump shouldn’t meddle in Georgia politics.[4]

I have previously observed that Trump does not control Trumpism,[5] which is now more generally called white Christian nationalism, so this isn’t really necessarily a setback for the latter. That would be if Democrats do well in November.

It’s important to not confound questions that I think often get muddled: How much support can Trump’s admirers claim for the man himself, his endless claims of a ‘stolen election,’ and even potentially for a ‘civil war?’[6] How much support can white Christian nationalists claim for their agenda? What we might be seeing in Georgia—this has yet to be determined—is a broader support for the agenda than for Trump. And again, as with Pennsylvania,[7] my question is about how much support this agenda will claim in the general election against an abysmally performing Democratic Party.[8]

Igor Derysh, “‘Any Republicans wanna speak out now?’: Alarm after Trump shares ‘civil war’ post,” Salon, May 23, 2022, https://www.salon.com/2022/05/23/any-wanna-speak-out-now-alarm-after-shares-civil-war-post/

Dana Milbank, “As Trump loses kingmaker status, he becomes more dangerous,” Washington Post, May 24, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/05/24/trump-picks-primaries-perdue-lose-dangerous/

Colby Itkowitz and David Weigel, “Kemp, Raffensperger win in blow to Trump and his false election claims,” Washington Post, May 25, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/05/24/trump-georgia-kemp-perdue/


  1. [1]Charlie Daniels et al., “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” released May 21, 1979, digital recording.
  2. [2]Colby Itkowitz and David Weigel, “Kemp, Raffensperger win in blow to Trump and his false election claims,” Washington Post, May 25, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/05/24/trump-georgia-kemp-perdue/
  3. [3]Amy Gardner, “‘I just want to find 11,780 votes’: In extraordinary hour-long call, Trump pressures Georgia secretary of state to recalculate the vote in his favor,” Washington Post, January 3, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-raffensperger-call-georgia-vote/2021/01/03/d45acb92-4dc4-11eb-bda4-615aaefd0555_story.html; Kristen Holmes and Veronica Stracqualursi, “Trump pressured Georgia governor in call to help overturn Biden’s win in state,” CNN, December 5, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/05/politics/trump-georgia-brian-kemp-phone-call/index.html
  4. [4]Colby Itkowitz and David Weigel, “Kemp, Raffensperger win in blow to Trump and his false election claims,” Washington Post, May 25, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/05/24/trump-georgia-kemp-perdue/
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Trumpism, Donald Trump, the January 6 coup attempt, and a smoking gun that may never be found,” Not Housebroken, January 28, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/12/14/trumpism-donald-trump-the-january-6-coup-attempt-and-a-smoking-gun-that-may-never-be-found/
  6. [6]Igor Derysh, “‘Any Republicans wanna speak out now?’: Alarm after Trump shares ‘civil war’ post,” Salon, May 23, 2022, https://www.salon.com/2022/05/23/any-wanna-speak-out-now-alarm-after-shares-civil-war-post/; Dana Milbank, “As Trump loses kingmaker status, he becomes more dangerous,” Washington Post, May 24, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/05/24/trump-picks-primaries-perdue-lose-dangerous/
  7. [7]David Benfell, “My 2024 forecast,” Not Housebroken, May 23, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/03/10/my-2024-forecast/
  8. [8]David Benfell, “Democrats and contradiction,” Not Housebroken, January 20, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/11/18/democrats-and-contradiction/; Benjamin Hart, “The Democratic Party Is Extremely Unpopular Right Now,” New York, May 16, 2022, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2022/05/the-democratic-party-is-extremely-unpopular-right-now.html

The pretense of concern for safety

Pittsburgh

Infrastructure

There is a new blog post entitled, “The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) wants to improve safety? REALLY?!!???!!!!

Ed Blazina, “Southwestern Pa. transportation funding plan includes more money for Pittsburgh-area bridges,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 23, 2022, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/transportation/2022/05/23/southwestern-pennsylvania-commission-transportation-plan-bridge-funding-infrastructure-stimulus/stories/202205210040

Ed Blazina, “PennDOT considers variable speed limits, ramp gates and message boards to improve Parkway East traffic,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 24, 2022, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/transportation/2022/05/23/penndot-parkway-east-traffic-improvements-variable-speed-limits-message-boards/stories/202205230094


Police White supremacist gangs

“If you had asked me six months ago, I would have said it’s not time for an executive order yet because we should be focused on federal legislation, the George Floyd bill in particular,” Damon Hewitt, the president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said on Tuesday. “But once that effort was sabotaged, the administration has stepped up as much as it could via executive action.”

[Joe] Biden’s bid to act unilaterally comes amid a rise in violent crime and concern among civil rights groups that the White House has lost a sense of urgency around police reform. Yet the president has little direct authority over the nation’s 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies. In addition to setting new guidelines for federal officers, the executive order aims to offer a template for the broader policing community, asking state and local agencies to embrace the document’s goals.[1]

Having failed spectacularly to pass reform in Congress,[2] Joe Biden will ask nicely.[3]

But with white Christian nationalists soon to take power,[4] all white supremacist gangsters need do is wait him out. And with their rhetorical acceptance of the executive order request,[5] which falls far short of actually implementing the order at the state and local levels, I’m pretty sure that’s just what they’re doing.

Tyler Pager and David Nakamura, “White House to issue policing order on anniversary of Floyd’s death,” Washington Post, May 24, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/05/24/police-executive-order-white-house-floyd/


  1. [1]Tyler Pager and David Nakamura, “White House to issue policing order on anniversary of Floyd’s death,” Washington Post, May 24, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/05/24/police-executive-order-white-house-floyd/
  2. [2]Eliza Collins and Sadie Gurman, “Bipartisan Police-Overhaul Talks End With No Deal,” Wall Street Journal, September 22, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/bipartisan-police-overhaul-talks-end-with-no-deal-11632330043; 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
  3. [3]Tyler Pager and David Nakamura, “White House to issue policing order on anniversary of Floyd’s death,” Washington Post, May 24, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/05/24/police-executive-order-white-house-floyd/
  4. [4]David Benfell, “My 2024 forecast,” Not Housebroken, May 19, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/03/10/my-2024-forecast/
  5. [5]Tyler Pager and David Nakamura, “White House to issue policing order on anniversary of Floyd’s death,” Washington Post, May 24, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/05/24/police-executive-order-white-house-floyd/

The Orbánization of Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh

Infrastructure

While appreciative of the additional funding, Mr. [Domenic] D’Andrea noted that it only returns the region to what funding levels were in 2019.[1]

Ed Blazina, “Southwestern Pa. transportation funding plan includes more money for Pittsburgh-area bridges,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 23, 2022, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/transportation/2022/05/23/southwestern-pennsylvania-commission-transportation-plan-bridge-funding-infrastructure-stimulus/stories/202205210040


John Fetterman

There is an unstoppable white Christian nationalist segment to the Pennsylvania electorate that anyone on the ground has to see:

The 58-year-old, arch-conservative state senator and retired Army colonel won 44% of the vote Tuesday, according to unofficial results, defying the last-minute efforts of top consultants and party bigwigs to cast him as unelectable against Democratic nominee Josh Shapiro.

On the issues, [Doug] Mastriano gave full-throated endorsements of the conservative agenda, including the repeal of Pennsylvania’s no-excuse mail-in ballot law, an abortion ban, and former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud.

These positions were echoed by many in the nine-person primary field. But what made him stand out was his unapologetic embrace of those positions’ extremes — such as allowing no exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the parent on the former, or sharing patently false information on the number of mail-in ballots requested in 2020.[2]

White Christian nationalism, which I have also called ‘Trumpism,’ very clearly dominates both houses of the Pennsylvania legislature,[3] suggesting widespread support across the state. What is less clear to me is its relative strength against other factions, both in absolute numbers and in numbers sufficiently motivated to vote. I think there is a chance that Pennsylvania results this November may diverge from national results, where in the latter, I fully expect white Christian nationalists to prevail,[4] largely because Democrats have performed so abominably, even failing to pass voting rights reform that would keep them in the game,[5] that there is simply nothing to vote for in that party, which is so plainly more comfortable in opposition where it can complain about the Republicans without being expected to accomplish a single damned thing.[6]

Widespread and highly visible support for Donald Trump still does not, yet anyway, seem visibly to translate into support for Mehmet Oz, whom Trump endorsed against David McCormick[7] in the still undecided U.S. Senate race for the Republican nomination that’s almost certainly headed for an automatic recount.[8] The question in my mind is whether either candidate can attract sufficient enthusiasm to prevail against the wildcard John Fetterman,[9] who has just been discharged from the hospital[10] following a stroke.[11]

And it is similarly certainly possible in my mind that the Republican Party establishment had it right when they opposed Doug Mastriano, calling him too extreme,[12] before they threw their support behind him when he won the Republican primary for governor.[13] The trouble in my mind here is that Josh Shapiro, a far more conventional candidate than Fetterman, may be dragged down by national Democratic Party flaccidity,[14] which is why I’m still inclined to think that Mastriano will win.

If Fetterman wins, he might make a difference in the U.S. Senate, but if I’m right about Mastriano, Pennsylvania will inescapably be under white Christian nationalist rule and there will be nothing stopping white Christian nationalists from seizing control of the electoral machinery of the state[15] to ensure they never again lose a statewide election here, that they will never lose control of the state legislature, and that Fetterman will be limited to a single term.

Jonathan Lai, “The Oz and McCormick campaigns are already fighting over undated Pa. mail ballots as Senate primary recount looms,” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 21, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/mccormick-oz-undated-mail-ballots-pa-senate-primary-20220521.html

David Cohen, “Fetterman discharged from hospital,” Politico, May 22, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/05/22/john-fetterman-released-hospital-00034274

Julian Routh, “For Pa. GOP, no turning back in bid vs. Josh Shapiro as party leaders back Doug Mastriano for governor,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 22, 2022, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-state/2022/05/22/mastriano-gop-nomination-republican-party-united/stories/202205220148

Stephen Caruso and Ethan Edward Coston, “How Doug Mastriano built a grassroots movement in Pa. on election denial, Christianity, and Facebook,” Spotlight PA, May 23, 2022, https://www.spotlightpa.org/news/2022/05/doug-mastriano-pa-governor-pennsylvania-shapiro/


  1. [1]Ed Blazina, “Southwestern Pa. transportation funding plan includes more money for Pittsburgh-area bridges,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 23, 2022, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/transportation/2022/05/23/southwestern-pennsylvania-commission-transportation-plan-bridge-funding-infrastructure-stimulus/stories/202205210040
  2. [2]Stephen Caruso and Ethan Edward Coston, “How Doug Mastriano built a grassroots movement in Pa. on election denial, Christianity, and Facebook,” Spotlight PA, May 23, 2022, https://www.spotlightpa.org/news/2022/05/doug-mastriano-pa-governor-pennsylvania-shapiro/
  3. [3]Holly Otterbein, “Pennsylvania GOP pledges full allegiance to Trump,” Politico, January 26, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/26/pennsylvania-republican-party-trump-support-462843
  4. [4]David Benfell, “My 2024 forecast,” Not Housebroken, May 19, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/03/10/my-2024-forecast/
  5. [5]Mike DeBonis, “Senate Republicans block debate on a third major voting rights bill,” Washington Post, November 3, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/senate-voting-john-lewis/2021/11/03/de00974e-3cc5-11ec-bfad-8283439871ec_story.html; Mike DeBonis, “Senate Republicans block voting rights bill, dealing blow to Democrats’ effort to overhaul election laws,” Washington Post, January 19, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/democrats-brace-for-likely-defeat-of-voting-rights-push-due-to-gop-filibuster/2022/01/19/2f9a734c-792d-11ec-bf97-6eac6f77fba2_story.html; Matt Ford, “The Democrats’ Voting Rights Bill Is Dead,” New Republic, July 13, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/162974/democrats-voting-rights-bill-dead; Carrie Levine, “Why there’s even more pressure now on Congress to pass a voting rights bill,” Center for Public Integrity, July 9, 2021, https://publicintegrity.org/inside-publici/newsletters/watchdog-newsletter/why-theres-even-more-pressure-now-on-congress-to-pass-a-voting-rights-bill/; Sam Levine, “Voting rights advocates frustrated by ‘same-old, same-old’ meeting with White House,” Guardian, December 3, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/dec/03/voting-rights-advocates-frustrated-meeting-white-house; Lawrence Lessig, “Why the US Is a Failed Democratic State,” New York Review of Books, December 10, 2021, https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2021/12/10/why-the-us-is-a-failed-democratic-state/; Greg Sargent, “The damage done by Joe Manchin is likely to get much worse,” Washington Post, December 10, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/12/10/manchin-filibuster-protecting-our-democracy-act/
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Democrats and contradiction,” Not Housebroken, January 20, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/11/18/democrats-and-contradiction/
  7. [7]Gillian McGoldrick, “Trump supporters still unsure about Oz in Pa.’s U.S. Senate GOP race, despite former president’s endorsement,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 9, 2022, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-state/2022/05/09/donald-trump-dr-oz-senate-run-endorsement-greensburg-rally-dave-mccormick-pa-republican-primary-polling/stories/202205080176
  8. [8]Jonathan Lai, “The Oz and McCormick campaigns are already fighting over undated Pa. mail ballots as Senate primary recount looms,” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 21, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/mccormick-oz-undated-mail-ballots-pa-senate-primary-20220521.html
  9. [9]Jake Blumgart, “Can this offbeat tattooed Democrat flip a Pennsylvania Senate seat?” Guardian, May 14, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/may/14/john-fetterman-pennsylvania-senate-campaign-democrat
  10. [10]David Cohen, “Fetterman discharged from hospital,” Politico, May 22, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/05/22/john-fetterman-released-hospital-00034274
  11. [11]Julia Terruso and Sean Collins Walsh, “John Fetterman suffered a stroke just days before Pa. Senate primary but says he’s recovering well,” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 15, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/john-fetterman-stroke-20220515.html
  12. [12]Stephen Caruso and Ethan Edward Coston, “How Doug Mastriano built a grassroots movement in Pa. on election denial, Christianity, and Facebook,” Spotlight PA, May 23, 2022, https://www.spotlightpa.org/news/2022/05/doug-mastriano-pa-governor-pennsylvania-shapiro/
  13. [13]Julian Routh, “For Pa. GOP, no turning back in bid vs. Josh Shapiro as party leaders back Doug Mastriano for governor,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 22, 2022, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-state/2022/05/22/mastriano-gop-nomination-republican-party-united/stories/202205220148
  14. [14]Benjamin Hart, “The Democratic Party Is Extremely Unpopular Right Now,” New York, May 16, 2022, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2022/05/the-democratic-party-is-extremely-unpopular-right-now.html
  15. [15]Greg Sargent, “Say it clearly: Republicans just nominated a pro-Trump insurrectionist,” Washington Post, May 18, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/05/18/doug-mastriano-insurrectionist/

Gun control movement delusions

Gun nuttery

United States

This Washington Post story is far too optimistic about the prospects for a gun control movement[1] against the rise of white Christian nationalism (Trumpism).[2] It simply will not matter what a majority of people think on gun control because we won’t even have the representation we had under a constitutional oligarchy.

Ashley Parker, Tyler Pager, and Colby Itkowitz, “From Sandy Hook to Buffalo: Ten years of failure on gun control,” Washington Post, May 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/05/22/guns-biden-democrats-buffalo/


Student loans

Alyssa Fowers and Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, “Who has student loan debt in America?” Washington Post, May 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2022/05/22/student-loan-borrowers/


John Fetterman

Julian Routh, “For Pa. GOP, no turning back in bid vs. Josh Shapiro as party leaders back Doug Mastriano for governor,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 22, 2022, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-state/2022/05/22/mastriano-gop-nomination-republican-party-united/stories/202205220148


Gig economy (neoliberal wet dream)

Bezzle

I file these stories about a downturn for technology start-up company stocks[3] with those and Uber and profitability because this is how Uber categorizes itself and because neither Uber nor Lyft have any apparent path to profitability. These companies are being forced to dip into their cash reserves and my question about how long they’ll be willing to do that remains.[4]

“This is clearly not a speed bump,” said Mike Volpi, a venture capitalist with Index Ventures. “This is a proper correction. The end of a cycle.”

In March, startup CEO Doug Ludlow cautioned his fellow founders on Twitter: “If you haven’t already started on a path to break-even, start immediately. In 2022, VC’s are going to pull back massively.”[5]

Heather Somerville only mentions Uber in passing,[6] but the company’s chief executive officer has reacted to the change in the investing climate,[7] and Lyft’s share prices have tumbled already.[8]

I wish I didn’t care and I don’t, really, when if comes to most of the affected companies. But if Uber and Lyft shut down, I’m going to be wondering how I’ll get by since I am unable to overcome the systemic discrimination I face in the job market.[9]

Heather Somerville, “For Tech Startups, the Party Is Over,” Wall Street Journal, May 16, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/for-tech-startups-the-party-is-over-11652710330


  1. [1]Ashley Parker, Tyler Pager, and Colby Itkowitz, “From Sandy Hook to Buffalo: Ten years of failure on gun control,” Washington Post, May 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/05/22/guns-biden-democrats-buffalo/
  2. [2]David Benfell, “My 2024 forecast,” Not Housebroken, May 19, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/03/10/my-2024-forecast/
  3. [3]Max Chafkin, “Tech Companies Coddled Their Employees. Now They’re Firing Them,” Bloomberg, May 13, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/newsletters/2022-05-13/tech-companies-coddled-their-employees-now-they-re-firing-them; Megumi Fujikawa and Eliot Brown, “SoftBank Lost $13.2 Billion on Tech Investments Amid Selloff,” Wall Street Journal, May 12, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/softbank-reports-13-billion-annual-loss-hit-by-tech-share-slump-11652339726; Dan Primack, “Many unicorn startups could become zombies,” Axios, March 17, 2022, https://www.axios.com/2022/03/17/unicorn-startups-zombie-companies; David Rosenberg, “The Bear Market Is Already In Its Third Inning. Stay Calm and Defensive,” Barron’s, May 13, 2022, https://www.barrons.com/articles/the-bear-market-is-already-in-its-third-inning-stay-calm-and-defensive-51652454842; Heather Somerville, “For Tech Startups, the Party Is Over,” Wall Street Journal, May 16, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/for-tech-startups-the-party-is-over-11652710330; Jacky Wong, “SoftBank’s Tech Boom Goes Bust—Again,” Wall Street Journal, May 12, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/softbanks-tech-boom-goes-bustagain-11652357244
  4. [4]David Benfell, “This is not a business plan,” Not Housebroken, May 13, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/06/20/this-is-not-a-business-plan/
  5. [5]Heather Somerville, “For Tech Startups, the Party Is Over,” Wall Street Journal, May 16, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/for-tech-startups-the-party-is-over-11652710330
  6. [6]Heather Somerville, “For Tech Startups, the Party Is Over,” Wall Street Journal, May 16, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/for-tech-startups-the-party-is-over-11652710330
  7. [7]Reuters, “Uber to cut costs, slow down hiring, CEO tells staff,” May 9, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/business/autos-transportation/uber-cut-costs-slow-down-hiring-ceo-tells-staff-cnbc-2022-05-09/
  8. [8]Tina Bellon, “Lyft shares tank 26% on higher cost of getting drivers back on street,” Reuters, May 3, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/technology/lyft-says-customers-spending-despite-inflation-results-top-targets-2022-05-03/; Jackie Davalos, “Uber Sidesteps Lyft’s Debacle With Optimism Over Riders, Profit,” Bloomberg, May 4, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-05-04/uber-beats-sales-estimates-delivers-upbeat-forecast
  9. [9]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/