It’s outhouse time for the Tories

(dis)United Kingdom

Prime minister

Fig. 1. President Reagan on the South Lawn during the arrival ceremony of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of the United Kingdom. U.S. Government photograph, November 16, 1988, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

There comes a point when, regardless of how one feels about the politics, a party has been in power too long. Too many among them take too much for granted.

I disagree with Tories on many things. This is not about that. It’s just time for the Conservative Party to go spend some time alone in the political outhouse.

Labour won’t be much better. It has now nearly been purged of anything Jeremy Corbyn, which is to say 1) that it has been purged of any acknowledgement that Palestinians are human beings entitled to human rights, for to say so has been judged anti-Semitic; and by which I also mean to recognize 2) that Labour is the British equivalent of the Democratic Party in the U.S., hopelessly wed to an intellectually utterly bogus neoliberal dogma.

Paul Dallison, “Boris Johnson quits as member of parliament with blast at Partygate probe,” Politico, June 9, 2023,

Michael Savage and Toby Helm, “Furious Tories turn against Boris Johnson after ‘bias’ outburst,” Guardian, June 10, 2023,



Century III Mall

Fig. 2. “The exterior of the closed Century III Mall taken from a drone . . . in West Mifflin.” Photograph by Benjamin B. Braun, May 11, 2023, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,[1] fair use.

Neena Hagen, “‘We have to do something’: West Mifflin officials will soon decide the fate of Century III Mall,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 11, 2023,


Fig. 3. Post-collapse scene at the Fern Hollow Bridge, photograph by National Transportation Safety Board, January 29, 2022, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

The need for more [truck] parking comes against a backdrop of an increase in fatalities in crashes involving large trucks, those defined as weighing more than 10,000 pounds. The number of deaths rose 10% during the first six months of 2022 over 2021, after increasing 13% from 2020 to 2021, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates.

Some of those crashes were blamed on tired truckers. Driver fatigue was a contributing factor in at least 13 truck crashes investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board since 2011.

The federal government limits how long truckers can be on the road, but when it’s time for them to rest, many truck stops might as well post “No Vacancy” signs. There are 11 trucks for every parking space, according to the trucking industry.[2]

It’s important to be clear that this is a problem of neoliberalism. It is one more supply chain issue.

Jonathan D. Salant, “The Pennsylvania Turnpike is adding more truck parking spaces as a dangerous shortage persists,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 11, 2023,


Donald Trump

Coup attempt

Fig. 4. “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.

Violent rhetoric was to be expected in the wake of Donald Trump’s indictment. And yes, we should be concerned for all the reasons stated in the New York Times article.[3] But what remains to be seen, since the coup attempt on January 6, 2021, is the sort of uprising I had earlier expected.

That hasn’t happened and I now have little reason to expect it. Gotta tell you, they aren’t doing their toxic masculinity right when they’re all mouth and no substance.

The good news, obviously, is that no one is being physically hurt by a so-far nonexistent rebellion. The bad news is that the people who would launch it remain in the shadows.

Jacqueline Alemany et al., “Trump lawyers meeting with Justice Dept. on classified documents case,” Washington Post, June 5, 2023,

Josh Dawsey and Amy Gardner, “Trump-funded studies disputing election fraud are focus in two probes,” Washington Post, June 5, 2023,

Rozina Sabur, “Flood at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort raises suspicions in classified documents case,” Telegraph, June 5, 2023,

Chris Walker, “Trump’s Lawyers Have 2-Hour Meeting With DOJ Over Mar-a-Lago Documents Case,” Truthout, June 5, 2023,

Casey Newton, “The platforms give up on 2020 lies,” Platformer, June 6, 2023,

Spencer S. Hsu et al., “Trump special counsel shifts focus of possible indictment to S. Florida,” Washington Post, June 7, 2023,

Alex Isenstadt and Kyle Cheney, “Trump notified that he is the target of an ongoing criminal investigation,” Politico, June 7, 2023,

Devlin Barrett, Perry Stein, and Josh Dawsey, “Trump charged in classified documents case, second indictment in months,” Washington Post, June 8, 2023,

Marc Caputo, “‘Prosecuting Politicians is Hard Here’: Why South Florida is a Tough Place for DOJ to Try Trump,” Messenger, June 8, 2023,

Ankush Khardori, “The Chaos Inside Trump’s Legal Team,” New York, June 8, 2023,

Hugo Lowell, “Donald Trump charged with illegal retention of classified documents,” Guardian, June 8, 2023,

Stefania Palma, “Donald Trump says he has been indicted on federal charges in documents probe,” Financial Times, June 8, 2023,

Gabriel J. Chin, “Trump indictment unsealed – a criminal law scholar explains what the charges mean, and what prosecutors will now need to prove,” Conversation, June 9, 2023,

Joseph Ferguson and Thomas A. Durkin, “Trump charged under Espionage Act – which covers a lot more crimes than just spying,” Conversation, June 9, 2023,

Alan Feuer, “Trump-Appointed Judge Is Said to Be Handling Documents Case,” New York Times, June 9, 2023,

David Gilbert, “‘We Need to Start Killing’: Trump’s Far-Right Supporters Are Threatening Civil War,” Vice, June 9, 2023,

Ankush Khardori, “The ‘Lock Him Up’ Election,” New York, June 9, 2023,

Tom Nichols, “Trump’s Indictment Reveals a National-Security Nightmare,” Atlantic, June 9, 2023,

Jennifer Rubin, “Merrick Garland and Jack Smith come through: Trump will face justice,” Washington Post, June 9, 2023,

Aruna Viswanatha, Sadie Gurman, and C. Ryan Barber, “Trump Charged Over Willful Retention of Classified Information, Obstruction,” Wall Street Journal, June 9, 2023,

Marc Fisher, “Trump’s path to indictment: ‘Isn’t it better if there are no documents?’” Washington Post, June 10, 2023,

Michael S. Schmidt et al., “Trump Supporters’ Violent Rhetoric in His Defense Disturbs Experts,” New York Times, June 10, 2023,

Kyle Cheney, “He devised a fringe legal theory to try to keep Trump in power. Now he’s on the verge of being disbarred,” Forbes, June 11, 2023,



Fig. 5. The spectre of Death, in the form of a large skeleton, rises with the smoke and flames of the burning Asch Building during the Triangle fire, as people jump and fall to their death. Artist unknown, from International Ladies Garment Workers Union Photographs (1885-1985) at The Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0.

The economy is in excellent health, except if you talk to economists, who think that’s too good to be true. For a while they fretted that the economy was overheated and that inflation would spin out of control. Some blamed President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill; one such person was Olivier Blanchard of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. But although inflation did rise to 9.1 percent in June 2022, it’s been falling ever since—it’s now 4.9 percent—and in a recent paper, Blanchard teamed with former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to concede that he’d been wrong. The spike, they wrote, was attributable not to the Biden stimulus and its effects on the labor market but rather to price hikes caused by Covid-driven supply chain snafus, now abating. Inflation hawks can still point to the Fed’s preferred inflation measure, the personal consumption expenditures, or PCE, price index, which rose to 4.4 percent in April, the last month for which data are available. But one month is hardly a trend, and in other recent months the PCE has been falling. . . .

In the meantime, the indicator du jour has become productivity. Productivity, or worker output per hour, is the engine of economic growth. It has been declining for an unprecedented five straight quarters. Nobody really knows why. But the news pages of The Wall Street Journal advised us last week to “Get Ready for the Full-Employment Recession.” In fact, argued Journal reporter Gwynn Guilford, the full-employment recession is already here, and reduced productivity—too many workers producing too little output—is the cause.

A recession is usually defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth. We haven’t had that. Gross domestic product rose 2.6 percent in the last quarter of 2022 and 1.3 percent in the first quarter of 2023. Guilford’s recession pronouncement substitutes for GDP an alternative indicator for economic growth, gross domestic income, or GDI, which fell 3.3 percent in the last quarter of 2022 and 2.3 percent in the first quarter of 2023.

GDP and GDI measure the same thing—economic growth—GDP from the buyer’s perspective (how much did you spend?) and GDI from the seller’s (how much did you receive in wages and profit?). Logically these should be the same number, because (to paraphrase Paul Simon) one man’s purchase is another man’s sale. In practice, they aren’t, for complicated statistical reasons I don’t pretend to understand, but usually they’re pretty close. Right now they’re far apart, suggesting that the seller is somehow getting shortchanged. Guilford, the Fed, and a lot of economists think the problem is that too many people have jobs.[4]


Commercial real estate

Fig. 6. “The iconic Crescent stands as recognizable landmark in the upscale neighborhood of Uptown, Dallas.” Photograph by Dallasedits [pseud.], July 5, 2016, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Carol Ryan, “Property Loans Are Starting to Crack,” Wall Street Journal, June 9, 2023,

  1. [1]Neena Hagen, “The fall of the Century: Once a retail shopping jewel, the West Mifflin mall has been left to rot,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 21, 2023,
  2. [2]Jonathan D. Salant, “The Pennsylvania Turnpike is adding more truck parking spaces as a dangerous shortage persists,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 11, 2023,
  3. [3]Michael S. Schmidt et al., “Trump Supporters’ Violent Rhetoric in His Defense Disturbs Experts,” New York Times, June 10, 2023,
  4. [4]Timothy Noah, “The Real Reasons Why Workers Are Producing Less,” New Republic, June 6, 2023,

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