Kyrsten Sinema leaving the Democratic Party isn’t 12-dimensional chess

Gilead

Donald Trump

Coup attempt


Fig. 1. “Jake Angeli (Qanon Shaman), seen holding a Qanon sign at the intersection of Bell Rd and 75th Ave in Peoria, Arizona, on 2020 October 15.” Photography by TheUnseen011101 [pseud.], October 15, 2020, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

I’m treating Kyrsten Sinema’s split from the Democrats[1] under the category of Donald Trump’s coup attempt because it affects, retroactively, the 2022 midterm election results by changing the party composition of the U.S. Senate, which in my mind was very much about whether white Christian nationalists could advance what I call their Gilead project, and because I really think this is where Sinema is headed. Yes, I think her resistance to voting rights reform[2] is unquestionably about aiding the competitive authoritarian regime project that would ensure that Republicans never again lose a national election; yes, at the time, this would have benefited Donald Trump; and yes, I believe she’s that malicious.

Aaron Blake thinks—I’ve seen this elsewhere as well—part of this could be is about being primaried:

Like [Arlen] Specter, [Kyrsten] Sinema looked set to face an arduous primary if she sought reelection with her former party, given the maneuvering of Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) to run against her. So the move makes some sense for her personally. . . .

A September poll from AARP showed just 37 percent of Arizona Democrats had a favorable opinion of her, compared to 57 percent who had an unfavorable one. And the limited, very early polling of a Sinema-vs.-Gallego matchup suggests Gallego might indeed be the favorite.

She’s not particularly popular among Republicans or independents, either, but if she were to run as an independent in a three-way race, it might open the door a little wider. That goes particularly if Arizona keeps nominating the kind of far-right Republicans they put up for statewide this year.[3]

But Aaron Blake also writes this:

But everyone has their political prerogatives to mind. And if Sinema views this as freeing her up even a little from needing to appeal to the Democratic base, that could matter in the Senate. Democrats already have to contend with one of their majority-making votes coming from Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), who hails from the second-Trumpiest state in the country. Even though they might have an effective 51-49 majority in the chamber, they still need either Sinema or Manchin on most close votes. And Sinema has previously shown she’s plenty willing to buck her party, even to her potential own political detriment.[4]

This is what makes me think it really isn’t about a tough primary. She’s ornery and spiteful without sense. Just like Donald Trump’s supporters.

Kristen Holmes, “Trump expresses support for Capitol rioters as he continues to embrace extremist groups,” Cable News Network, December 2, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/12/02/politics/donald-trump-january-6-rioters-support/index.html

Bess Levin, “Donald Trump, Running for President in 2024, Defends Violent Mob That Broke Into the Capitol Over His 2020 Loss,” Vanity Fair, December 2, 2022, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2022/12/donald-trump-defends-january-6-rioters

Karoun Demirjian and Toluse Olorunnipa, “White House rebukes Trump’s suggestion to suspend Constitution over 2020 election,” Washington Post, December 3, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/12/03/trump-constitution-truth-social/

Kristen Holmes, “Trump calls for the termination of the Constitution in Truth Social post,” Cable News Network, December 4, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/12/03/politics/trump-constitution-truth-social/index.html

Ruth Marcus, “Trump’s call for suspending the Constitution is too dangerous to ignore,” Washington Post, December 4, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/12/04/ruth-marcus-donald-trump-latest-outrage-is-too-dangerous-ignore/

Martin Pengelly, “Biden rebukes Trump for saying constitution should be ‘terminated’” Guardian, December 4, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/dec/04/biden-trump-us-constitution-terminated-election-fraud

Amy B. Wang, “GOP lawmakers largely silent after Trump suggests ‘termination’ of Constitution,” Washington Post, December 4, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/12/04/trump-constitution-republicans/

Caleb Ecarma, “Republicans Apparently Have No Red Line With Trump—Not Even His Desire to Terminate the Constitution,” Vanity Fair, December 5, 2022, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2022/12/republicans-trump-terminate-constitution

Jeremy Roebuck, “Rudy Giuliani doubles down on false Pennsylvania election fraud claims in disciplinary hearing,” Philadelphia Inquirer, December 5, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/news/rudy-giuliani-dc-disciplinary-board-hearing-bar-pennsylvania-election-20221205.html

Aaron Blake, “4 takeaways from the Georgia Senate runoff,” Washington Post, December 6, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/12/06/takeaways-georgia-runoff-2022-warnock-walker/

Sara Murray, Annie Grayer, and Zachary Cohen, “House January 6 committee has decided to make criminal referrals, chairman says,” Cable News Network, December 6, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/12/06/politics/january-6-committee-criminal-referrrals/index.html

Jenny Jarvie, “Warnock defeats Walker in Georgia runoff, giving Democrats a 51-seat Senate majority,” Los Angeles Times, December 6, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2022-12-06/sen-raphael-warnock-defeats-herschel-walker-in-georgia-senate-runoff

David Von Drehle, “The tragedy of Herschel Walker,” Washington Post, December 6, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/12/06/herschel-walker-reputation-georgia-football-politics-senate-trump/

Jacqueline Alemany et al., “Items with classified markings found at Trump storage unit in Florida,” Washington Post, December 7, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2022/12/07/trump-tower-bedminster-records-search/

Lloyd Green, “Georgia’s runoff was a resounding rebuke of Trumpism. Will Republicans hear it?” Guardian, December 7, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/dec/07/georgias-runoff-was-a-resounding-rebuke-of-trumpism-will-republicans-hear-it

Debra Cassens Weiss, “3 conservative SCOTUS justices appear to seek middle ground on ‘independent state legislature’ theory,” American Bar Association Journal, December 7, 2022, https://www.abajournal.com/news/article/3-conservative-scotus-justices-appear-to-seek-middle-ground-on-independent-state-legislature-theory

Spencer S. Hsu et al., “Justice Department asks judge to hold Trump team in contempt over Mar-a-Lago case,” Washington Post, December 8, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2022/12/08/trump-contempt-mar-a-lago-records/

Aaron Blake, “The politics of Kyrsten Sinema’s party switch,” Washington Post, December 9, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/12/09/what-sinema-party-switch-means/

Burgess Everett, “Sinema switches to independent, shaking up the Senate,” Politico, December 9, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/12/09/sinema-arizona-senate-independent-00073216

David A. Graham, “Kyrsten Sinema Is Going to Be a Perpetual Pain for Democrats,” Atlantic, December 9, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/12/sinemas-switch-changes-very-little/672413/


Self-driving cars


Fig. 1. Photograph by Mark Doliner, August 1, 2012, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0.

David Zipper’s story on robotaxis[5] is horrifying, worse than I would have imagined and must be read to be believed. What I infer from it is that autonomous vehicle companies are diminishing bad news in a desperate attempt to demonstrate progress to increasingly dubious investors.[6]

It reminds me of when I sat in on an all-hands meeting at Linuxcare and listened to the chief executive officer rattle on about how everything was wonderful. I thought to myself, wow, this guy really believes his own bullshit, and as it happened, a dubious and ultimately futile attempt to merge with TurboLinux soon followed, and then layoffs hitting the most talented (and expensive) folks first.

To be fair, Linuxcare was destroyed by venture capital; the company was already in trouble when the founders resumed control. To my knowledge, there are no such mitigating factors in evaluating the autonomous vehicle companies.

But because the California Public Utilities Commission has also bought into the bullshit, they’re actually relaxing reporting requirements for companies running robotaxis. So we don’t even know how often the sorts of horrors Zipper reports happen.[7]

David Zipper, “Self-Driving Taxis Are Causing All Kinds of Trouble in San Francisco,” Slate, December 8, 2022, https://slate.com/technology/2022/12/san-francisco-waymo-cruise-self-driving-cars-robotaxis.html


Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh

Christopher Columbus statue


Fig. 1. Christopher Columbus statue in Pittsburgh’s Schenley Park. Photograph by Darrell Sapp, apparently June 12, 2020, via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,[8] fair use.

Pittsburgh won its battle to remove a statue of Christopher Columbus from Schenley Park in October.[9] Philadelphia is having a rather different experience.[10]

Jesse Bunch, “Box around Christopher Columbus statue in South Philadelphia must be removed, Commonwealth Court rules,” Philadelphia Inquirer, December 9, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/news/philadelphia/columbus-statue-box-philadelphia-marconi-plaza-20221209.html


  1. [1]Aaron Blake, “The politics of Kyrsten Sinema’s party switch,” Washington Post, December 9, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/12/09/what-sinema-party-switch-means/; Burgess Everett, “Sinema switches to independent, shaking up the Senate,” Politico, December 9, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/12/09/sinema-arizona-senate-independent-00073216; David A. Graham, “Kyrsten Sinema Is Going to Be a Perpetual Pain for Democrats,” Atlantic, December 9, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/12/sinemas-switch-changes-very-little/672413/
  2. [2]Amanda Marcotte, “Kyrsten Sinema’s run out of excuses: Supreme Court leaves Senate Democrats with little choice,” Salon, July 2, 2021, https://www.salon.com/2021/07/02/kyrsten-sinemas-run-out-of-excuses-supreme-court-leaves-senate-democrats-with-little-choice/; Theodore Schleifer, “Silicon Valley’s Doomed Pursuit of D.C. Nirvana,” Puck News, January 18, 2022, https://puck.news/silicon-valleys-manchin-sinema-voting-rights-campaign/; Veronica Stracqualursi, Daniella Diaz, and Ethan Cohen, “Sinema censured by Arizona Democrats over filibuster stance that blocked voting rights legislation,” Cable News Network, January 22, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/22/politics/sinema-censured-arizona-democratic-party/index.html
  3. [3]Aaron Blake, “The politics of Kyrsten Sinema’s party switch,” Washington Post, December 9, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/12/09/what-sinema-party-switch-means/
  4. [4]Aaron Blake, “The politics of Kyrsten Sinema’s party switch,” Washington Post, December 9, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/12/09/what-sinema-party-switch-means/
  5. [5]David Zipper, “Self-Driving Taxis Are Causing All Kinds of Trouble in San Francisco,” Slate, December 8, 2022, https://slate.com/technology/2022/12/san-francisco-waymo-cruise-self-driving-cars-robotaxis.html
  6. [6]Tim Higgins, “Slow Self-Driving Car Progress Tests Investors’ Patience,” Wall Street Journal, November 28, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/investors-are-losing-patience-with-slow-pace-of-driverless-cars-11669576382
  7. [7]David Zipper, “Self-Driving Taxis Are Causing All Kinds of Trouble in San Francisco,” Slate, December 8, 2022, https://slate.com/technology/2022/12/san-francisco-waymo-cruise-self-driving-cars-robotaxis.html
  8. [8]Jade Campos, “Columbus statue in Schenley Park vandalized,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 12, 2020, https://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2020/06/12/christopher-columbus-statue-vandalized-pittsburgh-phipps-schenley-park/stories/202006120120
  9. [9]Paula Reed Ward, “Judge: Pittsburgh officials have right to remove Christopher Columbus statue in Schenley Park,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 3, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/judge-pittsburgh-officials-have-right-to-remove-christopher-columbus-statue-in-schenley-park/
  10. [10]Jesse Bunch, “Box around Christopher Columbus statue in South Philadelphia must be removed, Commonwealth Court rules,” Philadelphia Inquirer, December 9, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/news/philadelphia/columbus-statue-box-philadelphia-marconi-plaza-20221209.html

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