Binyamin Netanyahu isn’t just genocidal. He’s delusional. And Joe Biden keeps sending him money and weapons. What can go wrong?

Neoliberalism

Work


Fig. 1. 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.

I’m surprised Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash haven’t started ramping up their threats yet. I’m sure we’ll hear from them soon enough.

Julia Fraser, “New Pa. House bill seeks to right the wrongs of worker misclassification,” WESA, June 20, 2024, https://www.wesa.fm/economy-business/2024-06-20/pennsylvania-house-worker-misclassification-contractors-bill


Imperialism

Israel

Palestine
2024

Even the Israeli Defense Forces now admit that Hamas cannot be defeated.[1]

“This business of destroying Hamas, making Hamas disappear — it’s simply throwing sand in the eyes of the public,” [Israeli Defense Forces Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel] Hagari told Channel 13 news in an interview.

“Hamas is an idea, Hamas is a party. It’s rooted in the hearts of the people — anyone who thinks we can eliminate Hamas is wrong,” he continued.[2]

Folks have been saying that for a while and Binyamin Netanyahu has been delusional about the prospects for “absolute victory” for a while.[3] But hey, keep sending him money and arms anyway. Why not?

A point that Daniel Hagari alludes to in the quotation above[4] is that peace without justice is merely a temporary cessation of hostilities. Real peace requires a resolution of grievances for all concerned.[5] This is quite literally textbook stuff (and I’m citing a textbook from my undergraduate program[6]).

Peter Beaumont, “Benjamin Netanyahu dissolves Israeli war cabinet,” Guardian, June 17, 2024, https://www.theguardian.com/world/article/2024/jun/17/benjamin-netanyahu-dissolves-israel-war-cabinet

Holly Honderich and Tom Bateman, “White House hits back at Netanyahu’s weapons delay claims,” British Broadcasting Corporation, June 18, 2024, https://www.bbc.com/news/articles/c977vyv1yr7o

Ron Kampeas, “Netanyahu accuses Biden of withholding weapons. White House: We ‘do not know what he’s talking about,’” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, June 18, 2024, https://www.jta.org/2024/06/18/politics/netanyahu-accuses-biden-of-withholding-weapons-white-house-we-do-not-know-what-hes-talking-about

Times of Israel, “IDF spokesman says Hamas can’t be destroyed, drawing retort from PM: ‘That’s war’s goal’,” June 20, 2024, https://www.timesofisrael.com/idf-spokesman-says-hamas-cant-be-eliminated-will-remain-in-gaza-if-no-alternative/


Illiberalism

Gilead

Donald Trump
Coup attempt

2024

Fig. 2. Donald Trump still has his fans. Photograph along Washington Road in Upper Saint Clair, Pennsylvania, by author, April 28, 2024.

Charlie Savage and Alan Feuer, “Judge in Trump Mar-a-Lago documents case rejected suggestions from colleagues to step aside,” South Florida Sun Sentinel, June 20, 2024, https://apple.news/A116ahr-QQyStQ3em5NGuBg


  1. [1]Times of Israel, “IDF spokesman says Hamas can’t be destroyed, drawing retort from PM: ‘That’s war’s goal’,” June 20, 2024, https://www.timesofisrael.com/idf-spokesman-says-hamas-cant-be-eliminated-will-remain-in-gaza-if-no-alternative/
  2. [2]Times of Israel, “IDF spokesman says Hamas can’t be destroyed, drawing retort from PM: ‘That’s war’s goal’,” June 20, 2024, https://www.timesofisrael.com/idf-spokesman-says-hamas-cant-be-eliminated-will-remain-in-gaza-if-no-alternative/
  3. [3]Loveday Morris, “Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas. Yet the group remains largely intact,” Washington Post, December 5, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/12/05/israel-military-offensive-hamas-destruction-gaza/; Paul Rogers, “Israel is losing the war against Hamas – but Netanyahu and his government will never admit it,” Guardian, December 21, 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/dec/21/israel-losing-war-against-hamas-netanyahu-idf; Jeremy Scahill, “This Is Not a War Against Hamas,” Intercept, December 11, 2023, https://theintercept.com/2023/12/11/israel-hamas-war-civilians-biden/; Ishaan Tharoor, “Israel is struggling to destroy Hamas, but it’s destroying Gaza,” Washington Post, December 20, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/12/20/israel-battlefield-gaza-defeat-hamas/; Ishaan Tharoor, “Netanyahu’s delusional, deadly quest for ‘total victory,’” Washington Post, February 9, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2024/02/09/netanyahu-israel-total-victory-hamas-palestine/
  4. [4]Times of Israel, “IDF spokesman says Hamas can’t be destroyed, drawing retort from PM: ‘That’s war’s goal’,” June 20, 2024, https://www.timesofisrael.com/idf-spokesman-says-hamas-cant-be-eliminated-will-remain-in-gaza-if-no-alternative/
  5. [5]David P. Barash and Charles P. Webel, Peace and Conflict Studies (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2002).
  6. [6]David P. Barash and Charles P. Webel, Peace and Conflict Studies (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2002).

I thought it was a bit early for ‘the dog days of summer’

It’s been a slow few days with not really much to say. There’s not much substance here.


Imperialism

Israel


Fig. 1. John Bolton and Binyamin Netanyahu at a press conference. Office of U.S. National Security Advisor, August 20, 2018, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Asaf Elia-Shalev, “ADL faces Wikipedia ban over reliability concerns on Israel, antisemitism,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, June 18, 2024, https://www.jta.org/2024/06/18/united-states/adl-faces-wikipedia-ban-over-reliability-concerns-on-israel-antisemitism

Palestine
2024

Peter Beaumont, “Benjamin Netanyahu dissolves Israeli war cabinet,” Guardian, June 17, 2024, https://www.theguardian.com/world/article/2024/jun/17/benjamin-netanyahu-dissolves-israel-war-cabinet

Holly Honderich and Tom Bateman, “White House hits back at Netanyahu’s weapons delay claims,” British Broadcasting Corporation, June 18, 2024, https://www.bbc.com/news/articles/c977vyv1yr7o


Illiberalism

Gilead

Donald Trump
Hush money


Fig. 2. Cartoon by Jesse Duquette, undated, via “Minneapple23” [pseud.] on Imgur, April 1, 2023, fair use.

Erica Orden, “New York’s top court dismisses Trump’s appeal of gag order in hush money case,” Politico, June 18, 2024, https://www.politico.com/news/2024/06/18/trump-gag-order-appeal-dismissed-00163902


Pennsylvania

Cannabis

Ryan Deto, “Pittsburgh lawmaker seeking bipartisan marijuana legalization bill,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 18, 2024, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/pittsburgh-lawmaker-seeking-bipartisan-marijuana-legalization-bill/


Neoliberalism

Work


Fig. 3. 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.

Caroline O’Donovan, “Amazon fined $5.9 million for breaking labor law in California,” Washington Post, June 18, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2024/06/18/amazon-fine-labor-law-california/


None of the above


Fig. 1. Image of the latest addition to my pinned post on Mastodon by author, June 15, 2024.


Illiberalism

Gilead

Secession movements


Fig. 2. “Greater Idaho” would include much of the proposed state of Jefferson. Screen capture by the Sacramento Bee published November 3, 2021.[1]

James Bickerton, “Texas Secessionsts Win GOP Backing for Independence Vote: ‘Major Step,’” Newsweek, June 12, 2024, https://www.newsweek.com/texas-secession-takes-major-step-gop-backs-vote-1911678

Evangelical Protestants


Fig. 3. “You shall have no other gods before me.”[2] Photograph posted to Twitter by Antonia Lee Donnelly, February 16, 2020,[3] fair use.

Michelle Boorstein and Hannah Knowles, “Here’s what the Christian right wants from a second Trump term,” Washington Post, June 13, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/06/13/trump-christian-right-abortion-prayer/

Abortion, reproductive freedom and health


Fig. 4. Sign at demonstration in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, May 3, 2022. Janni Rye, via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

Szu Yu Chen and Adrián Blanco, “How every senator voted on the Right to IVF Act,” Washington Post, June 13, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/interactive/2024/06/13/senate-vote-right-to-ivf-bill/

Ann E. Marimow, “Supreme Court upholds broad access to key abortion pill mifepristone,” Washington Post, June 13, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/06/13/supreme-court-abortion-pill-ruling-mifepristone/

Michelle Boorstein and Hannah Knowles, “Here’s what the Christian right wants from a second Trump term,” Washington Post, June 13, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/06/13/trump-christian-right-abortion-prayer/


Nonhuman animals

The idea that nonhuman animals are sentient—capable of feeling (vegans often say “feeling pain”)—while evidently radical to animal behavior experts,[4] is basic to the ethics of nonhuman animal rights. They feel, therefore they can suffer, suffering is evil, therefore we should not impose suffering, therefore we should not abuse or exploit nonhuman animals.

Those of us who have companion animals know that they are sentient. Even those of us who are cruel to animals know on some level that they are sentient—to inflict misery or suffering, that misery or suffering must be felt. It is pointless to whip a rock.

Pallab Ghosh, “Are animals conscious? How new research is changing minds,” British Broadcasting Corporation, June 16, 2024, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/articles/cv223z15mpmo.amp


  1. [1]Maddie Capron, “Should Idaho swallow parts of Oregon? Thousands of Oregon voters want it considered,” Sacramento Bee, November 3, 2021, https://www.sacbee.com/news/nation-world/national/article255509141.html
  2. [2]Exod. 20:3.
  3. [3]Antonia Lee Donnelly, “Now I've seen everything,” Twitter, February 17, 2020, https://twitter.com/DonnellyAntonia/status/1229227422836559873
  4. [4]Pallab Ghosh, “Are animals conscious? How new research is changing minds,” British Broadcasting Corporation, June 16, 2024, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/articles/cv223z15mpmo.amp

Research for evil

Neoliberalism

Work


Fig. 1. 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 real problem with gig work is abysmal pay, in which many drivers receive less than an already abysmal minimum wage. No one wants to deal with that, but it’s the real problem. All the rest of this is a sideshow.

Jonathan Gruber claims that gig workers value flexibility, which may be true, but he admits that his sample is unrepresentative. And he devotes no attention whatsoever to people like me who have been unable to secure real employment and so are compelled to work in the gig economy more than full time, preferring to focus on workers who have benefits from other sources. And he barely even mentions pay.[1] I’m guessing he got paid to produce this crap, probably by a gig economy company, but there is no disclosure. (If my guess is correct, this probably amounts to academic dishonesty.)

Jonathan Gruber, “How should we provide benefits to gig workers?” Brookings, June 13, 2024, https://www.brookings.edu/articles/how-should-we-provide-benefits-to-gig-workers/


Imperialism

Canada and the United States

Indigenous people
Residential schools

Sari Horwitz and Dana Hedgpeth, “Catholic bishops apologize for church’s role operating Indian boarding schools,” Washington Post, June 14, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/2024/06/14/catholic-church-indian-boarding-schools/

Russia

Ukraine


Fig. 2. Cartoon by Ella Baron, June 2, 2024, via the Guardian, fair use.

Patrick Tucker, “New sat images show Russian vessels fleeing Black Sea ports,” Defense One, June 13, 2024, https://www.defenseone.com/technology/2024/06/new-sat-images-show-russian-vessels-fleeing-black-sea-ports/397378/


Illiberalism

Gilead

Gun nuttery


Fig. 3. “Rally Against Gun Control ‘Come and Take it’ flag at the Minnesota State Capitol,” photograph by Fibonacci Blue [pseud.], April 28, 2018, via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Forgive my confusion, but as I read this story,[2] I get the impression that the Supreme Court has made findings of fact. I had thought that these were supposed to happen at the district court level, that appeals courts and the Supreme Court should return such questions to the district court for these findings.

Justin Jouvenal, “Supreme Court strikes down Trump-era federal ban on bump stock devices,” Washington Post, June 14, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/06/14/bump-stocks-supreme-court-machine-gun-bruen-cargill/


  1. [1]Jonathan Gruber, “How should we provide benefits to gig workers?” Brookings, June 13, 2024, https://www.brookings.edu/articles/how-should-we-provide-benefits-to-gig-workers/
  2. [2]Justin Jouvenal, “Supreme Court strikes down Trump-era federal ban on bump stock devices,” Washington Post, June 14, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/06/14/bump-stocks-supreme-court-machine-gun-bruen-cargill/

Democrats are different from Republicans? On reproductive rights, be cynical, very cynical

Neoliberalism

Democratic (neoliberal) Party

Joe Biden
Hunter Biden

Marshall Cohen and Holmes Lybrand, “Hunter Biden convicted on all 3 charges at federal gun trial,” Cable News Network, June 11, 2024, https://www.cnn.com/2024/06/11/politics/hunter-biden-gun-trial-verdict

Erin Doherty, “White House doesn’t rule out commuting Hunter Biden’s sentence,” Axios, June 12, 2024, https://www.axios.com/2024/06/12/white-house-hunter-biden-commutation-conviction


Illiberalism

Gilead

Abortion, reproductive freedom and health


Fig. 1. Sign at demonstration in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, May 3, 2022. Janni Rye, via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

Read the following quotation at your own risk:

Even though the court’s decision was unanimous, it is unlikely to be the end of efforts to restrict access to the pill. The ruling leaves an opening for three states — Missouri, Kansas and Idaho — to quickly try to revive the challenge before a federal judge in Texas who is well-known for his antiabortion views.

After the ruling, antiabortion advocates quickly pledged to continue their efforts to limit access to mifepristone — promising that this case is not over.

“While we’re disappointed with the court’s decision, we will continue to advocate for women and work to restore common-sense safeguards for abortion drugs,” said Alliance Defending Freedom’s senior counsel, Erin Hawley, who represented the antiabortion doctors. “And we are grateful that three states stand ready to hold the FDA accountable for jeopardizing the health and safety of women and girls across this country.[1]

It’s worth remembering that none of this would be necessary had Democrats taken the ample opportunity they had to codify Roe v. Wade.[2] But guess what? Their failure to protect reproductive rights appears yet again today as even a bill to protect access to in vitro fertilization failed to advance and failed even to get some Democratic votes. It was a bill meant to fail: “Democrats introduced the bill, in part, to put Republicans on the record on reproductive rights ahead of November’s elections.”[3] Which is to say they want a campaign issue much more than they want reproductive rights.

Republicans? They want lots of things more than they want reproductive rights. Which is different from the Democrats mainly in that it’s just barely beginning to dawn on them that overturning Roe[4] was a pyrrhic victory.[5]

Szu Yu Chen and Adrián Blanco, “How every senator voted on the Right to IVF Act,” Washington Post, June 13, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/interactive/2024/06/13/senate-vote-right-to-ivf-bill/

Ann E. Marimow, “Supreme Court upholds broad access to key abortion pill mifepristone,” Washington Post, June 13, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/06/13/supreme-court-abortion-pill-ruling-mifepristone/


  1. [1]Ann E. Marimow, “Supreme Court upholds broad access to key abortion pill mifepristone,” Washington Post, June 13, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/06/13/supreme-court-abortion-pill-ruling-mifepristone/
  2. [2]Anna North, “Abortion has been treated as a fringe issue by Democrats for decades. This is the result,” Vox, May 5, 2022, https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2022/5/5/23057317/abortion-supreme-court-roe-v-wade; William Rivers Pitt, “Democrats Had 50 Years to Save and Protect ‘Roe.’ They Failed,” Truthout, May 6, 2022, https://truthout.org/articles/democrats-had-50-years-to-save-and-protect-roe-they-failed/
  3. [3]Szu Yu Chen and Adrián Blanco, “How every senator voted on the Right to IVF Act,” Washington Post, June 13, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/interactive/2024/06/13/senate-vote-right-to-ivf-bill/
  4. [4]Brent Kendall and Jess Bravin, “Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade, Eliminates Constitutional Right to Abortion,” Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/supreme-court-overturns-roe-v-wade-eliminates-constitutional-right-to-abortion-11656080124
  5. [5]Natalie Andrews, Siobhan Hughes, and Lindsay Wise, “Frustrated Republicans Try to Explain Lack of Midterm ‘Red Wave,’” Wall Street Journal, November 9, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/frustrated-republicans-try-to-explain-lack-of-midterm-red-wave-11668036382; Dan Balz, “The vaunted red wave never hit the shore in midterm elections,” Washington Post, November 9, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/11/08/midterms-dissatisfied-voters-render-judgments-biden-republicans/; Kris Maher, “Democrat Josh Shapiro Wins Pennsylvania Governor Race Over Doug Mastriano,” Wall Street Journal, November 9, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/livecoverage/election-midterms-2022/card/democrat-josh-shapiro-wins-pennsylvania-governor-race-over-doug-mastriano-rdDSLqwHlckU7Q5yZYF2; Greg Sargent, “Republicans want Trump to take the blame. Good luck with that,” Washington Post, November 11, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/11/11/trump-midterm-elections-gop-abortion-rights-2024/; Marianna Sotomayor et al., “Congressional Republicans panic as they watch their lead dwindle,” Washington Post, November 11, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/11/11/senate-republicans-mcconnell-midterms/; Brian Slodysko, “Election takeaways: No sweep for the Republicans after all,” Associated Press, November 9, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/2022-midterm-elections-takeaways-9381d3aaff26d19da95506e045fcd6e1

Insanity, insanity, and more insanity

Imperialism

Israel

Palestine
2024

Sugam Pokharel, Jessie Yeung, and Jomana Karadsheh, “UN inquiry says Israel and Hamas have both committed war crimes since October 7,” Cable News Network, June 12, 2024, https://www.cnn.com/2024/06/12/middleeast/un-report-israel-hamas-gaza-war-crimes-intl-hnk/index.html

Ishaan Tharoor, “Israel shrugs at Palestinian civilian casualties. So does Hamas,” Washington Post, June 12, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2024/06/12/hamas-death-toll-gaza-sinwar-messages/

Nancy A. Youssef, “How Ambitious Plans for a Floating Aid Pier off Gaza Fell Apart,” Wall Street Journal, June 12, 2024, https://apple.news/A0DLdc1uqR2-yO6Yh3rMrYQ

Imperialism

Israel

Lebanon


Fig. 1. “Sabra & Shatila Massacre 1982 Memorial in Sabra, South Beirut,” photograph by Bertramz, September 2009, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 3.0.

Steve Hendrix and Mohamad El Chamaa, “On the Israel-Lebanon border, a war is unfolding in slow motion,” Washington Post, June 11, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2024/06/11/israel-lebanon-border-hezbollah-rockets-war/


Illiberalism

Gilead

Donald Trump


Fig. 2. Donald Trump, depicted in an orange jumpsuit, reportedly by the Drudge, date unknown, via Mediaite,[1] fair use. Apparently, no mugshot was taken when he was actually arrested over hush money paid to Stormy Daniels.[2]

Josh Marcus, “Trump says only a ‘psycho’ would call war dead ‘suckers and losers’ – which a general says Trump did,” Independent, June 9, 2024, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-france-cemetery-suckers-losers-b2559531.html

Eugene Robinson, “Is Donald Trump okay?” Washington Post, June 10, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2024/06/10/trump-sharks-electrocuted-boat-story/

Jake Lahut and Michael Daly, “Why the Words ‘Suckers’ and ‘Losers’ Bother Trump So Much,” Daily Beast, June 11, 2024, https://apple.news/Ar5rta1-xRu6frFEAz6Zqlw


  1. [1]Alex Griffing, “Drudge Puts Trump in an Orange Jumpsuit as Site Monitors His Potential Indictment,” Mediaite, August 29, 2022, https://www.mediaite.com/news/drudge-puts-trump-in-an-orange-jumpsuit-as-site-monitors-his-potential-indictment/
  2. [2]Sarah D. Wire and Alexandra E. Petri, “Trump charged with 34 felony counts in alleged hush money cover-up case,” Los Angeles Times, April 4, 2023, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2023-04-04/donald-trump-alleged-hush-money-investigation-indictment-arraignment

In which I agree with Samuel Alito—on one single point

Illiberalism

Gilead

White Christian nationalism


Fig. 1. If one weighs by geography rather than population, Pennsylvania is very much a white Christian nationalist kind of place. Photograph by author, January 5, 2023.

Progressives have recently been howling about Samuel Alito. A justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, they argue, his—or, he claims, his wife’s—penchant for displaying White Christian nationalist flags[1] and, now, a recording of him expressing doubt that the left and right in the U.S. can ever reconcile,[2] suggest he should recuse from cases involving Donald Trump’s coup attempt.

Obviously, I’m not a white Christian nationalist. But there is one point I agree with Alito on: It is absolutely true that the left and right in this country cannot reconcile.[3] They have not done it in the entire history of European colonization in North America and they never will. Never.

Alito is correct that there are fundamental contradictions,[4] not always as to ends, but reliably as to means, that cannot be reconciled between left and right. We will never agree to the foundational premises of Gilead. They will never agree to anything else.

People who think otherwise neglect a longstanding history of sometimes violent conflict between left and right, most significantly the U.S. Civil War, but as well in labor unrest since the Industrial Revolution leading to violence to suppress strikes; the antiwar, counterculture, and liberation movements of the 1960s and 1970s; conflict over just about anything having anything to do with sexuality and gender; the Black Lives Matter movement and the backlash to it; diversity, equity, and inclusion (which excludes cis-heterosexual white people); and most recently over Israel’s genocide in the Gaza Strip, and the list (I’m working from memory) surely goes on. We don’t agree even on the need for social justice as conservatives sneer at attempts at social equality as “social engineering” that would interfere with “God’s plan.” Epistemologically, neither side is pure, but conservatives hold the empirical data preferred by many progressives in disdain as “temporal” rather than “permanent” (think biblical) knowledge. We can’t even agree on premises.

When we can’t agree on premises, there is no hope for resolution. Here, Alito, who is wrong on so many things, is right: There is no common ground.

That doesn’t make a “national divorce,” as suggested by Marjorie Taylor Greene,[5] feasible. But what it does mean is that one side or the other is certain to feel put upon by what they perceive as an authoritarian opposition. It does mean that some sort of divorce is needed, even if if would be the ugliest break-up ever, with national assets and liabilities to be divvied up, and even if it requires mass migrations.

And Alito is wrong to suggest that one side or the other will win.[6] Any such victory would be short-lived because both left and right are within a normal range for humans—sorry, but yes, both are—and within a very few generations, the differences that now beset the U.S. would again beset the split off countries as kids check in at different locations on the political spectrum quite regardless of what their parents think. That’s just how it goes.

That means that the divorce needs to be something more than just a formal break-up. It needs to be a new system of social organization, which I have not conceived, that allows greater mobility for people to live in the political communities they prefer and to move between these communities at will. There are, of course, challenges in this concept that, unfortunately, I have not worked out.

Robert Tait, “Alito doubts US right and left can co-exist and wife criticizes Pride flag in secret recording,” Guardian, June 11, 2024, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/article/2024/jun/11/samuel-martha-ann-alito-recording


Neoliberalism

Democratic (neoliberal) Party

Joe Biden
Hunter Biden

Marshall Cohen and Holmes Lybrand, “Hunter Biden convicted on all 3 charges at federal gun trial,” Cable News Network, June 11, 2024, https://www.cnn.com/2024/06/11/politics/hunter-biden-gun-trial-verdict


  1. [1]Hannah Allam, “At center of Alito controversy, a flag celebrated by extremists,” Washington Post, June 2, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2024/06/02/alito-flag-appeal-heaven/; Justin Jouvenal and Ann E. Marimow, “Upside-down flag flew at Justice Alito’s house after neighbor dispute,” Washington Post, May 17, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/05/17/justice-samuel-alito-wife-upside-down-flag/; Conover Kennard, “Justice Alito Tries, Fails Miserably To Explain Flag Scandal,” Crooks and Liars, May 18, 2024, https://crooksandliars.com/2024/05/justice-alito-tries-fails-miserably
  2. [2]Robert Tait, “Alito doubts US right and left can co-exist and wife criticizes Pride flag in secret recording,” Guardian, June 11, 2024, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/article/2024/jun/11/samuel-martha-ann-alito-recording
  3. [3]Robert Tait, “Alito doubts US right and left can co-exist and wife criticizes Pride flag in secret recording,” Guardian, June 11, 2024, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/article/2024/jun/11/samuel-martha-ann-alito-recording
  4. [4]Robert Tait, “Alito doubts US right and left can co-exist and wife criticizes Pride flag in secret recording,” Guardian, June 11, 2024, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/article/2024/jun/11/samuel-martha-ann-alito-recording
  5. [5]Jesse O’Neill, “Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene suggests a ‘national divorce’ between red and blue states,” New York Post, December 29, 2021, https://nypost.com/2021/12/29/rep-greene-suggests-a-national-divorce-between-red-and-blue-states/
  6. [6]Robert Tait, “Alito doubts US right and left can co-exist and wife criticizes Pride flag in secret recording,” Guardian, June 11, 2024, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/article/2024/jun/11/samuel-martha-ann-alito-recording

It’s all going to hell, and certainly not just in the U.S.

Illiberalism


Fig. 1. Photograph by Joachim F. Thurn, August 1991, Bundesarchiv, B 145 Bild-F089030-0003, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE.

It’s all going to hell, and certainly not just in the U.S.:

The rise of the right in Europe is of a piece with increasing authoritarian and non-democratic trends throughout the world, certainly. And the right has been building toward this moment over the past 15 years: Right-wing parties have been steadily gaining influence in Europe since the AfD started in 2013, and Marine Le Pen of France took over leadership of National Rally (formerly National Front) in 2011, toning down the party’s most noxious and hateful ideologies, particularly about migration, to make it more palatable.

For decades after World War II, though right-wing parties existed they were quite fringe and were deeply associated with fascism and Nazism. Over the past decade especially, though, as that time becomes more remote and Europe has faced multiple overlapping crises including the failure of its immigration system and the Covid-19 pandemic, that has created space for these parties to take hold — and, over time, normalize themselves within their societies. . . .

But it’s also important to remember that elections are often rejections of the incumbent, especially when people are struggling with daily cost-of-living expenses; inflation remains elevated, especially in countries like Austria, and sanctions on Russian fuel have driven up energy costs. That means these elections weren’t just about embracing the right, but voters wanting to rebuke centrist and left-leaning policies they felt weren’t working for them.[1]

Victor Goury-Laffont, “French far right obliterates Macron’s camp in EU election,” Politico, June 9, 2024, https://www.politico.eu/article/eu-european-election-results-2024-far-right-triumphs-france-emmanuel-macron-camp-fight-second-place/

Nette Nöstlinger, “German conservatives first, far-right AfD second in EU election: Early projection,” Politico, June 9, 2024, https://www.politico.eu/article/conservatives-finish-first-germany-eu-election-early-projection-cdu-csu/

Victor Goury-Laffont, “France’s conservatives and far right explore uniting to beat Macron,” Politico, June 10, 2024, https://www.politico.eu/article/french-far-right-jordan-bardella-president-emmanuel-macron-election-european-election-national-rally/

Gilead

Abortion, reproductive freedom and health


Fig. 2. Sign at demonstration in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, May 3, 2022. Janni Rye, via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

Jennifer Rubin, “MAGA Republicans tip their hand: They’re after contraception, too,” Washington Post, June 10, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2024/06/10/maga-contraception-vote/

Donald Trump


Fig. 3. Donald Trump, depicted in an orange jumpsuit, reportedly by the Drudge, date unknown, via Mediaite,[2] fair use. Apparently, no mugshot was taken when he was actually arrested over hush money paid to Stormy Daniels.[3]

Eugene Robinson, “Is Donald Trump okay?” Washington Post, June 10, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2024/06/10/trump-sharks-electrocuted-boat-story/


Neoliberalism

Democratic (neoliberal) Party

Joe Biden
Hunter Biden

Ankush Khardori, “The Hunter Biden Case Is Solid. There’s Something Rotten About It Too,” Politico, June 7, 2024, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2024/06/07/hunter-biden-trial-truths-column-00162083


So-called ‘ridesharing’

Drivers


Fig. 4. Yeah, this is me. The sign says, “If you’re whining about a labor shortage, STOP ignoring my job applications!” And the QR-code leads here. Photograph by author, January 16, 2023.

I had assumed the case of California’s Assembly Bill 5, which had attempted to require gig economy companies to treat drivers as employees rather than as independent contractors had been rendered moot by Proposition 22, which expressly allowed gig economy companies to preserve their exploitive business model. Apparently not. And Proposition 22 awaits a ruling from the California Supreme Court[4] but that hearing didn’t go well.[5]

Levi Sumagaysay, “California gig worker law withstands challenge from Uber at federal appeals court,” Cal Matters, June 10, 2024, https://calmatters.org/economy/2024/06/ab-5-california-uber/


  1. [1]Ellen Ioanes, “Why Europe is lurching to the right,” Vox, June 10, 2024, https://www.vox.com/politics/354601/european-parliament-elections-macron-afd-national-rally-far-right-fidesz-france
  2. [2]Alex Griffing, “Drudge Puts Trump in an Orange Jumpsuit as Site Monitors His Potential Indictment,” Mediaite, August 29, 2022, https://www.mediaite.com/news/drudge-puts-trump-in-an-orange-jumpsuit-as-site-monitors-his-potential-indictment/
  3. [3]Sarah D. Wire and Alexandra E. Petri, “Trump charged with 34 felony counts in alleged hush money cover-up case,” Los Angeles Times, April 4, 2023, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2023-04-04/donald-trump-alleged-hush-money-investigation-indictment-arraignment
  4. [4]Levi Sumagaysay, “California gig worker law withstands challenge from Uber at federal appeals court,” Cal Matters, June 10, 2024, https://calmatters.org/economy/2024/06/ab-5-california-uber/
  5. [5]Bob Egelko, “California justices appear likely to uphold Prop. 22, keeping gig worker law in place,” San Francisco Chronicle, May 21, 2024, https://apple.news/Azgu3gIIXRsi2XhRkAf61wg

What works? What doesn’t?

I am reverting my forecast for November to toss-up.

Yes, Joe Biden is bleeding out over Palestine and recent Vox reporting that Biden’s plan is to have Israeli-Saudi Arabian diplomatic ties normalized[1] manages only to make it even uglier for anyone who remembers the grisly and brutal slaying of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

But I’m seeing doubts about Donald Trump’s health—both mental and physical—that will surely undermine support from his toxically masculine admirers (and the women who admire them and him) and the weirdness about claiming he didn’t make inflammatory remarks he notoriously had[2] can only raise further concerns about possible dementia.

From the beginning, I have wondered how either of these absolutely abysmal candidates can win. I’m still wondering that.

I think I am pretty safe in predicting a low turnout in which whoever manages to get more of their base out will win. That sounds like Trump, but he is gonna take some hits. The information bubbles in which polarized Amerikkkans live are not hermetically sealed. There will be leakage. There will be doubt. And I would bet that there will be a very public Trump failing that no one can deny or excuse.

I think moderates are going to split: Crime and the economy play in Trump’s favor. Abortion, Trump’s general insanity, his fascism, and his threat to our precious constitutional oligarchy all play in Biden’s.

How all that plays in November is impossible to predict. But you know I’ll keep trying.


Imperialism

Israel

Palestine
2024

Israeli attacks in central Gaza killed scores of Palestinians, many of them civilians, on Saturday amid a special forces operation to free four hostages held there, with the death toll sparking international outrage.

At least 274 Palestinians were killed and 698 wounded in Israeli strikes on the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, Gaza’s health ministry said on Sunday. The Israeli military said its forces came under heavy fire during the daytime operation.

The EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, called it a “massacre”, while the UN’s aid chief described in graphic detail scenes of “shredded bodies on the ground”.[3]

I don’t know how you say 274 killed, 698 wounded to rescue four hostages is proportionate. But perhaps most telling:

Israeli forces have now freed seven hostages, but the majority of those who are now back home were handed over under a temporary ceasefire deal last November. There are still 120 held in Gaza, at least a third of them presumed dead.[4]

If you’re serious about freeing hostages, you negotiate. If you’re serious about killing Palestinians, you do what the Israeli Defense Forces are doing. There is a problem in that allowing kidnappers any compensation in any form encourages them, but we also have to look quite simply, quite pragmatically at what fucking works and what fucking doesn’t. And stop fooling ourselves about how what doesn’t work supposedly does.

Shira Rubin et al., “Biden’s cease-fire plan tightens political squeeze for Netanyahu in Israel,” Washington Post, June 2, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2024/06/02/israel-hamas-war-news-gaza-palestine-ceasefire-biden/

Barak Ravid, “Biden: ‘Every reason’ for people to conclude Netanyahu is prolonging war in Gaza,” Axios, June 4, 2024, https://www.axios.com/2024/06/04/biden-israel-netanyahu-gaza-time-interview

Dan Williams, “Netanyahu’s ultra-Orthodox coalition partners back Gaza hostage deal,” Reuters, June 4, 2024, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/netanyahus-biggest-coalition-partner-backs-prospective-gaza-hostage-deal-2024-06-04/

Philissa Kramer, “Jewish officer resigns from US Army to protest Gaza war, citing lessons of the Holocaust,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, June 5, 2024, https://www.jta.org/2024/06/05/united-states/jewish-us-army-major-harrison-mann-explains-why-he-resigned-over-us-support-for-gaza-war

Jacob Magid, “CIA chief returns to region to push hostage deal as Israel vows not to budge further,” Times of Israel, June 5, 2024, https://www.timesofisrael.com/cia-chief-returns-to-region-to-push-hostage-deal-as-israel-vows-not-to-budge-further/

Joseph Wilson, “Spain applies to join South Africa’s case at top UN court accusing Israel of genocide,” Associated Press, June 6, 2024, https://apnews.com/article/spain-israel-icj-genocide-case-67d4d9b8ecf6fd88e718319a5d93465a

Natasha Bertrand and Haley Britzky, “US military’s Gaza pier has been repaired and reattached to beach,” Cable News Network, June 7, 2024, https://www.cnn.com/2024/06/07/politics/us-pier-gaza-resume-operations/index.html

Julian Borger, “UN adds Israel to list of states committing violations against children,” Guardian, June 7, 2024, https://www.theguardian.com/world/article/2024/jun/07/united-nations-israel-children-rights-violation

Carrie Keller-Lynn and Eduardo Kaplan, “Netanyahu Rival Poised to Resign in Blow to Israel’s War Cabinet,” Wall Street Journal, June 8, 2024, https://apple.news/A3Sy_d_LOSFWH8vKYPG4B-g

Nadeen Ebrahim, “Israeli minister Benny Gantz resigns from war cabinet in blow to Netanyahu,” Cable News Network, June 9, 2024, https://www.cnn.com/2024/06/09/middleeast/benny-gantz-resignation-post-war-plan-gaza-intl-latam/index.html

Emma Graham-Harrison, “Outrage over ‘massacre’ in Gaza as Israel rescued four hostages,” Guardian, June 9, 2024, https://www.theguardian.com/world/article/2024/jun/09/israel-gaza-hostages-rescue-eu-outrage


Illiberalism


Fig. 1. Photograph by Joachim F. Thurn, August 1991, Bundesarchiv, B 145 Bild-F089030-0003, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE.

Victor Goury-Laffont, “French far right obliterates Macron’s camp in EU election,” Politico, June 9, 2024, https://www.politico.eu/article/eu-european-election-results-2024-far-right-triumphs-france-emmanuel-macron-camp-fight-second-place/

Nette Nöstlinger, “German conservatives first, far-right AfD second in EU election: Early projection,” Politico, June 9, 2024, https://www.politico.eu/article/conservatives-finish-first-germany-eu-election-early-projection-cdu-csu/

Gilead

Donald Trump


Fig. 2. Donald Trump, depicted in an orange jumpsuit, reportedly by the Drudge, date unknown, via Mediaite,[5] fair use. Apparently, no mugshot was taken when he was actually arrested over hush money paid to Stormy Daniels.[6]

So Donald Trump has now denied calling for Hillary Clinton to be put in jail[7] (remember her emails?) and denied calling soldiers killed in action “losers” and “suckers.”[8]

Trump reportedly snubbed a planned commemoration for the 100th anniversary of WWI at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in Belleau, fearing his hair would become disheveled in the rain, The Atlantic reported in 2020.

“Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers,” Trump reportedly told staffers, according to the magazine. The then-president also called the more than 1,800 Marines buried there “suckers” elsewhere during his 2018 trip in France, per The Atlantic.[9]

Clinton had used an unsecured mail server for official business. Trump unlawfully kept classified records, including highly sensitive material, and resisted returning those files to the government.

Following Trump’s conviction in the hush money case, Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels would presumably be well within their rights to call Trump a “loser” and a “sucker.”

Hypocrisy aside, it’s interesting to me that Trump perceives a need to deny the very statements that his base defends as him saying what he thinks, a trait they see as a virtue.

Josh Marcus, “Trump says only a ‘psycho’ would call war dead ‘suckers and losers’ – which a general says Trump did,” Independent, June 9, 2024, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-france-cemetery-suckers-losers-b2559531.html


Neoliberalism

Academic repression

Student loans


Fig. 3. Unattributed and undated image via James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal,[10] fair use.

A judge ruled that only three states, out of many, have standing to challenge the Joe Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness plan.[11] That’s really pretty much the story and not really worth that much, as the case, at least for now, can proceed with three plaintiffs just like it could have with many more.

I’m just watching this very closely because I have well over $300,000 worth of skin in this game, accumulated on the route to my Ph.D.

Natalie Venegas, “Student loan update: Federal judge hands Joe Biden’s plan a legal win,” Newsweek, June 8, 2024, https://apple.news/AivXXqDKfR0ag2S8-QBvMBg


  1. [1]Joshua Keating, “The longshot plan to end the war in Gaza and bring peace to the Middle East,” Vox, May 3, 2024, https://www.vox.com/world-politics/2024/5/3/24148104/us-saudi-israel-normalization-defense-pact-gaza-two-state
  2. [2]Ellie Quinlan Houghtaling, “Jail-Shy Trump Suddenly Backs Away From Major Catchphrase,” New Republic, June 3, 2024, https://newrepublic.com/post/182180/felon-trump-jail-never-said-lock-her-up; Josh Marcus, “Trump says only a ‘psycho’ would call war dead ‘suckers and losers’ – which a general says Trump did,” Independent, June 9, 2024, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-france-cemetery-suckers-losers-b2559531.html
  3. [3]Emma Graham-Harrison, “Outrage over ‘massacre’ in Gaza as Israel rescued four hostages,” Guardian, June 9, 2024, https://www.theguardian.com/world/article/2024/jun/09/israel-gaza-hostages-rescue-eu-outrage
  4. [4]Emma Graham-Harrison, “Outrage over ‘massacre’ in Gaza as Israel rescued four hostages,” Guardian, June 9, 2024, https://www.theguardian.com/world/article/2024/jun/09/israel-gaza-hostages-rescue-eu-outrage
  5. [5]Alex Griffing, “Drudge Puts Trump in an Orange Jumpsuit as Site Monitors His Potential Indictment,” Mediaite, August 29, 2022, https://www.mediaite.com/news/drudge-puts-trump-in-an-orange-jumpsuit-as-site-monitors-his-potential-indictment/
  6. [6]Sarah D. Wire and Alexandra E. Petri, “Trump charged with 34 felony counts in alleged hush money cover-up case,” Los Angeles Times, April 4, 2023, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2023-04-04/donald-trump-alleged-hush-money-investigation-indictment-arraignment
  7. [7]Ellie Quinlan Houghtaling, “Jail-Shy Trump Suddenly Backs Away From Major Catchphrase,” New Republic, June 3, 2024, https://newrepublic.com/post/182180/felon-trump-jail-never-said-lock-her-up
  8. [8]Josh Marcus, “Trump says only a ‘psycho’ would call war dead ‘suckers and losers’ – which a general says Trump did,” Independent, June 9, 2024, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-france-cemetery-suckers-losers-b2559531.html
  9. [9]Josh Marcus, “Trump says only a ‘psycho’ would call war dead ‘suckers and losers’ – which a general says Trump did,” Independent, June 9, 2024, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-france-cemetery-suckers-losers-b2559531.html
  10. [10]Richard K. Vedder, “Eliminate or Radically Restructure Federal Student Loans,” James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, September 16, 2020, https://www.jamesgmartin.center/2020/09/eliminate-or-radically-restructure-federal-student-loans/
  11. [11]Natalie Venegas, “Student loan update: Federal judge hands Joe Biden’s plan a legal win,” Newsweek, June 8, 2024, https://apple.news/AivXXqDKfR0ag2S8-QBvMBg

To the rather limited extent that justice is a popularity contest, can we just say that Israel is losing?

I keep forgetting to publish this.


Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh

Infrastructure


Fig. 1. Post-collapse scene at the Fern Hollow Bridge, photograph by National Transportation Safety Board, January 29, 2022, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Julia Felton, “Pittsburgh infrastructure czar gives glowing report on bridge upkeep,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 5, 2024, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-infrastructure-czar-gives-glowing-report-on-bridge-upkeep/

Pollution


Fig. 2. Photographer unknown, circa 1940-1950, from Smoke Control Lantern Slide Collection, ca. 1940-1950, AIS.1978.22, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh, via Bloomberg,[1] fair use.

Jack Troy, “U.S. Steel closes portion of Clairton Coke Works as part of settlement,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 6, 2024, https://triblive.com/local/regional/u-s-steel-closes-portion-of-clairton-coke-works-as-part-of-settlement/

Audrey Carlton, “In rural Pennsylvania, crypto mining offers a lifeline for dying gas wells,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, June 7, 2024, https://penncapital-star.com/energy-environment/in-rural-pennsylvania-crypto-mining-offers-a-lifeline-for-dying-gas-wells/


Imperialism

Israel

Palestine
2024

As the descendant of European Jews, I [Harrison Mann] was raised in a particularly unforgiving moral environment when it came to the topic of bearing responsibility for ethnic cleansing — my grandfather refused to ever purchase products manufactured in Germany — where the paramount importance of ‘never again’ and the inadequacy of ‘just following orders’ were oft repeated.

I am haunted by the knowledge that I failed those principles. But I also have hope that my grandfather would afford me some grace, that he would still be proud of me for stepping away from this war, however belatedly.[2]

[Harrison] Mann said he had not been in touch before his resignation with groups working to stoke dissent against the war and aid people who oppose it within the Biden administration. But he said he was now hearing from others inside the administration who have sought his advice about how to navigate their own opposition to Israel’s military campaign.

He said he knew of people who had asked to be given new responsibilities, who were refusing to continue conducting work on the Israel-related portions of their portfolios and who were demanding assurances that the work they were doing is consistent with U.S. and international law.[3]

To the very limited extent that justice is a popularity contest, can we just say that Israel is losing?

“There should be no doubt that Spain will remain on the right side of history,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said after his foreign minister made the announcement.

Mexico, Colombia, Nicaragua, Libya and the Palestinians are waiting for the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, to grant approval to their requests to join [South Africa’s] case [alleging that Israel was breaching the genocide convention in its military assault that has laid waste to large swaths of Gaza].[4]

They’re piling on and I’ll tell you a secret: Not all of these people are wrong.

Barak Ravid, “Biden: ‘Every reason’ for people to conclude Netanyahu is prolonging war in Gaza,” Axios, June 4, 2024, https://www.axios.com/2024/06/04/biden-israel-netanyahu-gaza-time-interview

Dan Williams, “Netanyahu’s ultra-Orthodox coalition partners back Gaza hostage deal,” Reuters, June 4, 2024, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/netanyahus-biggest-coalition-partner-backs-prospective-gaza-hostage-deal-2024-06-04/

Philissa Kramer, “Jewish officer resigns from US Army to protest Gaza war, citing lessons of the Holocaust,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, June 5, 2024, https://www.jta.org/2024/06/05/united-states/jewish-us-army-major-harrison-mann-explains-why-he-resigned-over-us-support-for-gaza-war

Jacob Magid, “CIA chief returns to region to push hostage deal as Israel vows not to budge further,” Times of Israel, June 5, 2024, https://www.timesofisrael.com/cia-chief-returns-to-region-to-push-hostage-deal-as-israel-vows-not-to-budge-further/

Joseph Wilson, “Spain applies to join South Africa’s case at top UN court accusing Israel of genocide,” Associated Press, June 6, 2024, https://apnews.com/article/spain-israel-icj-genocide-case-67d4d9b8ecf6fd88e718319a5d93465a

Natasha Bertrand and Haley Britzky, “US military’s Gaza pier has been repaired and reattached to beach,” Cable News Network, June 7, 2024, https://www.cnn.com/2024/06/07/politics/us-pier-gaza-resume-operations/index.html

Julian Borger, “UN adds Israel to list of states committing violations against children,” Guardian, June 7, 2024, https://www.theguardian.com/world/article/2024/jun/07/united-nations-israel-children-rights-violation

Carrie Keller-Lynn and Eduardo Kaplan, “Netanyahu Rival Poised to Resign in Blow to Israel’s War Cabinet,” Wall Street Journal, June 8, 2024, https://apple.news/A3Sy_d_LOSFWH8vKYPG4B-g


So-called ‘ridesharing’

Drivers


Fig. 3. Yeah, this is me. The sign says, “If you’re whining about a labor shortage, STOP ignoring my job applications!” And the QR-code leads here. Photograph by author, January 16, 2023.

In Colorado,

Gov. Jared Polis this week signed two bills into law that will mandate more extensive disclosures of ride details for drivers on platforms such as Uber, Lyft and DoorDash.

SB24-075, dubbed the Transportation Network Company Transparency bill, mandates ride-hail companies divulge how much of the ride’s cost will go to the company versus the driver. The bill also makes sure drivers know the destination and expected compensation for a ride before they accept it.

Lawmakers also sought to address driver deactivations, which advocates and drivers have said can be arbitrary and unexplained. Studies show immigrants and people of color are far more likely to be booted from their jobs.

The state, as part of this bill, will certify a “driver support organization,” which can help drivers dealing with deactivations.[5]

Colorado isn’t addressing the pay, which is often below minimum wage, even with tips. But it is addressing a number of issues that absolutely infuriated me on an ongoing basis with Uber and Lyft.

Sam Tabachnik, “More protections for Uber, Lyft, DoorDash drivers in Colorado as Gov. Jared Polis signs bills,” Denver Post, June 5, 2024, https://www.denverpost.com/2024/06/05/uber-lyft-legislation-colorado-2024/


Neoliberalism

Work


Fig. 4. 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.

Michelle Singletary doesn’t specifically address gig workers.[6] But in my gig work, I find that what the company pays barely covers the cost of operation. I’m working for tips. Want me to starve? Don’t tip.

Michelle Singletary, “Has tipping gone too far? Here’s a guide on when to tip,” Washington Post, June 7, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2024/06/07/tipping-guide-michelle-singletary/


Epidemics and Pandemics

COVID-19


Fig. 5. Cartoon by Peter Brookes, October 3, 2020, via the Times, fair use.

Zhengyi Fang, Rebecca Ahrnsbrak, and Andy Rekito, “Evidence Mounts That About 7% of US Adults Have Had Long COVID,” Journal of the American Medical Association, June 7, 2024, doi:10.1001/jama.2024.11370


(dis)United Kingdom

Prime minister


Fig. 6. 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.

The Sword of Damocles has been hanging over Rishi Sunak pretty much since he won the prime minister job. That thread is looking pretty thin about now. But despite skipping a portion of the D-Day ceremonies, certainly an own goal,[7] mostly what I see from across the pond calls the Chinese concept of the “mandate of Heaven” to mind.

When a ruler loses that mandate, they’re doomed. Nothing can put it to right and the question is only how long before someone else takes over. The language refers to Heaven, but I interpret the mandate as somewhat more terrestrial, indeed human—and the loss of that mandate looks a lot like what’s happened to the Tories: They’ve gotten too accustomed to the levers of power. They have lost perspective. They have lost touch with their electorate. They make stupid mistakes because their groupthink is toxic. They trip over themselves trying even to think straight.

July 4th[8] will be a day of infamy for the Tories. They cannot help themselves.

Rowena Mason et al., “‘D-day was the final straw’: Sunak’s blunders ignite Tory party fury,” Guardian, June 7, 2024, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/article/2024/jun/07/d-day-was-the-final-straw-sunaks-blunders-ignite-tory-party-fury


Illiberalism

Gilead

Donald Trump


Fig. 7. Donald Trump, depicted in an orange jumpsuit, reportedly by the Drudge, date unknown, via Mediaite,[9] fair use. Apparently, no mugshot was taken when he was actually arrested over hush money paid to Stormy Daniels.[10]

John Miller, “NYPD preparing to revoke Donald Trump’s license to carry a gun after felony conviction in New York,” Cable News Network, June 5, 2024, https://www.cnn.com/2024/06/05/politics/trump-gun-nypd-revoke/index.html

Matt Lewis, “Trump Can’t Carry a Gun, but He Might Have the Nuclear Codes Again,” Daily Beast, June 6, 2024, https://apple.news/A6O6KnjddR4egJoQA6XT5_Q


  1. [1]Mark Byrnes, “What Pittsburgh Looked Like When It Decided It Had a Pollution Problem,” Bloomberg, June 5, 2012, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2012-06-05/what-pittsburgh-looked-like-when-it-decided-it-had-a-pollution-problem
  2. [2]Harrison Mann, quoted in Philissa Kramer, “Jewish officer resigns from US Army to protest Gaza war, citing lessons of the Holocaust,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, June 5, 2024, https://www.jta.org/2024/06/05/united-states/jewish-us-army-major-harrison-mann-explains-why-he-resigned-over-us-support-for-gaza-war
  3. [3]Philissa Kramer, “Jewish officer resigns from US Army to protest Gaza war, citing lessons of the Holocaust,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, June 5, 2024, https://www.jta.org/2024/06/05/united-states/jewish-us-army-major-harrison-mann-explains-why-he-resigned-over-us-support-for-gaza-war
  4. [4]Joseph Wilson, “Spain applies to join South Africa’s case at top UN court accusing Israel of genocide,” Associated Press, June 6, 2024, https://apnews.com/article/spain-israel-icj-genocide-case-67d4d9b8ecf6fd88e718319a5d93465a
  5. [5]Sam Tabachnik, “More protections for Uber, Lyft, DoorDash drivers in Colorado as Gov. Jared Polis signs bills,” Denver Post, June 5, 2024, https://www.denverpost.com/2024/06/05/uber-lyft-legislation-colorado-2024/
  6. [6]Michelle Singletary, “Has tipping gone too far? Here’s a guide on when to tip,” Washington Post, June 7, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2024/06/07/tipping-guide-michelle-singletary/
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