Uber’s lockup expires and we still don’t know what investors think

FireShot Capture 038 - Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson for November 06, 2019 - GoComics_ - www.gocomics.com
Fig. 1. Screenshot of comic from 1989 by Bill Waterson.


Uber

The bottom line here is that this is simply not, cannot be, and never will be a sustainable business model.[1] The question, which remains even with today’s sell-off,[2] is to what extent investors will continue to believe the contrary.

Tom McKay, “Surprising No One, Uber Continues to Hemorrhage Cash,” Gizmodo, November 4, 2019, https://gizmodo.com/surprising-no-one-uber-continues-to-hemorrhage-cash-1839625062

Heather Somerville, “Uber Booked Another Quarterly Loss as Revenue Climbed,” Wall Street Journal, November 4, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-booked-another-quarterly-loss-as-revenue-climbed-11572901549

Megan McArdle, “Uber can’t keep bleeding money, can it? It apparently thinks it can,” Washington Post, November 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/uber-cant-keep-bleeding-money-can-it-it-apparently-thinks-it-can/2019/11/05/4aa4fec0-000b-11ea-8501-2a7123a38c58_story.html

Sebastian Herrera and Heather Somerville, “Uber Shares Hit New Low as Post-IPO Lockup Expires,” Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-shares-face-more-pressure-as-post-ipo-lockup-is-set-to-expire-11573041602″

Erik Sherman, “Yesterday, Shareholders Bailed on Uber. Today, Insiders Got Their Chance,” Fortune, November 6, 2019, https://fortune.com/2019/11/06/uber-stock-insiders-growth-profit-lockup-period/


Pacific Gas and Electric

Rebecca Smith, “California Mayors Join Campaign to Buy Out PG&E,” Wall Street Journal, November 5, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/california-mayors-join-campaign-to-make-pg-e-a-cooperative-11572955201


Ageism


Bhaskar Sunkara, “Why it’s time to ditch the ‘ok boomer’ meme,” Guardian, November 6, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/nov/06/ok-boomer-meme-older-generations


  1. [1]Rich Alton, “Basic economics means Uber and Lyft can’t rely on driverless cars to become profitable,” MarketWatch, August 12, 2019, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/basic-economics-means-uber-and-lyft-cant-rely-on-driverless-cars-to-become-profitable-2019-08-12; Richard Durant, “Uber’s Profitability Problem Is Structural,” Seeking Alpha, August 21, 2019, https://seekingalpha.com/article/4287055-ubers-profitability-problem-structural
  2. [2]Sebastian Herrera and Heather Somerville, “Uber Shares Hit New Low as Post-IPO Lockup Expires,” Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-shares-face-more-pressure-as-post-ipo-lockup-is-set-to-expire-11573041602″; Erik Sherman, “Yesterday, Shareholders Bailed on Uber. Today, Insiders Got Their Chance,” Fortune, November 6, 2019, https://fortune.com/2019/11/06/uber-stock-insiders-growth-profit-lockup-period/

Burning California

I keep forgetting to publish this. So it gets a little bit longer and a little bit longer and a little bit longer. There really hasn’t been a lot.


Racism

In the Pittsburgh area, while driving for Lyft, I had noticed that a large proportion—almost certainly a majority—of my passengers were Black. Since switching to Uber,[1] my passengers are now predominantly white.

One of my Lyft passengers had mentioned to me that Uber doesn’t accept debit cards as a form of payment. I don’t know if that’s true, but if it is, this is an example of systemic discrimination, that is, discrimination that may occur without racist intent but in which rules and systems have a discriminatory effect.

If indeed you need a credit card to pay for an Uber ride (I think you can get around this with PayPal), that tends to exclude people with poor or no credit. To the extent that racial stratification coincides with class stratification, which is very visibly the case in the Pittsburgh area, it becomes systemic racism. And the failure to recognize and rectify systemic racism is, itself, racist.

Of course, to say this means that I should (as I have in the past) recognize the classism in the gig economy: It does generally require an electronic form of payment, which “unbanked” folks will have a harder time managing. On the other hand, it also means that Uber and Lyft drivers are not sitting ducks for cash robberies (a significant risk for traditional taxi drivers).

One of my passengers, a Black, told me that western Pennsylvania is one of the worst places in the country to be Black. He says that Blacks are informed here upon arrival that they exist to serve the capitalist economy; they are not persons, but numbers.

Which is yet another example of how it is impossible to separate classism from racism. These forms of discrimination form a hydra-headed monster. You have to cut them all off at once to destroy the beast.

Blacks also bear the brunt of criminal injustice.[2] In California, fire fighting relies upon inmate labor,[3] making it part of the prison-industrial complex.[4] Again, it will be Blacks who bear the brunt of inadequately compensated risks in this activity. And again, this is systemic racism.


California

Kevin Fixler, “From fierce winds to flames: How the Kincade fire made Sonoma County history,” Santa Rosa Press Democrat, November 1, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10249729-181/how-the-kincade-fire-spread

Nicole Goodkind, “Prisoners Are Fighting California’s Wildfires on the Front Lines, But Getting Little in Return,” Fortune, November 1, 2019, https://fortune.com/2019/11/01/california-prisoners-fighting-wildfires/


Long term unemployment

Patricia Cohen, “Lots of Job Hunting, but No Job, Despite Low Unemployment Lots of Job Hunting, but No Job, Despite Low Unemployment,” New York Times, November 1, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/31/business/economy/long-term-unemployed.html


Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris should be a cautionary tale for neoliberals: At least some progressives want real progressives and are fed up with the fake ones the neoliberal party has been pushing on them.

Shikha Dalmia, “The real reason Kamala Harris is tanking,” Week, November 4, 2019, https://theweek.com/articles/875020/real-reason-kamala-harris-tanking


Recession

It’s one thing to note that economists are bad at predicting recessions[5] and are even bad at recognizing them once they’ve started.[6] All these decades later, they finally seem to be recognizing what just about any idiot at the local tavern could have told them: It’s the unemployment:[7]

The unemployment rate has risen sharply in every recession, and thus economists have long looked for recession signals in its behavior. Ms. [Claudia] Sahm spent weekends playing with a massive spreadsheet, testing different rates of increase over varying periods of time, to arrive at the following formula: If the average of unemployment rate over three months rises a half-percentage point or more above its low over the previous year, the economy is in a recession. . . .

“The reason [this formula has] been getting attention is it is simple, it is understandable, it is something people can observe themselves,” Mr. [Jay] Shaumbaugh said.[8]

Sorry, but it’s hard—really hard—for me to imagine that economists couldn’t have come up with this sooner and it is very telling that Claudia Sahm had to work on this on her own time. Had this sort of inquiry even a chance of being taken seriously before she had the numbers to prove it, she’d have been able to work on it during office hours. But economists before Sahm didn’t come up with this and the Federal Reserve didn’t enable her to work on it on their dime, because they all really just don’t fucking give a damn. What Sahm has done—and she deserves a great deal of credit for overcoming what were surely formidable institutional obstacles—is to shame the fuck out of them with the blindingly obvious.

By the way, going by Sahm’s formula, we are not yet in a recession.[9]

Kate Davidson, “Are We in a Recession? Experts Agree: Ask Claudia Sahm,” Wall Street Journal, November 3, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/are-we-in-a-recession-experts-agree-ask-claudia-sahm-11572789602


  1. [1]David Benfell, “Uber, again,” Irregular Bullshit, October 19, 2019, https://disunitedstates.com/2019/10/19/uber-again/
  2. [2]Jeffrey Reiman, The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison, 7th ed. (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2004).
  3. [3]Nicole Goodkind, “Prisoners Are Fighting California’s Wildfires on the Front Lines, But Getting Little in Return,” Fortune, November 1, 2019, https://fortune.com/2019/11/01/california-prisoners-fighting-wildfires/
  4. [4]Empty Cages Collective, “What is the Prison Industrial Complex?” n.d. http://www.prisonabolition.org/what-is-the-prison-industrial-complex/; Daniel Moritz-Rabson, “‘Prison Slavery’: Inmates are paid cents while manufacturing products sold to government,” Newsweek, August 28, 2018, https://www.newsweek.com/prison-slavery-who-benefits-cheap-inmate-labor-1093729
  5. [5]Hites Ahir and Prakash Loungani, “‘There will be growth in the spring’: How well do economists predict turning points?” Vox, April 14, 2014, https://voxeu.org/article/predicting-economic-turning-points; Richard Alford, “Why Economists Have No Shame – Undue Confidence, False Precision, Risk and Monetary Policy,” Naked Capitalism, July 19, 2012, https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/07/richard-alford-why-economists-have-no-shame-undue-confidence-false-precision-risk-and-monetary-policy.html; Ha-Joon Chang and Jonathan Aldred, “After the crash, we need a revolution in the way we teach economics,” Guardian, May 10, 2014, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/may/11/after-crash-need-revolution-in-economics-teaching-chang-aldred; Barry Eichengreen, “Economists, Remove Your Blinders,” Chronicle of Higher Education, January 12, 2015, http://www.chronicle.com/article/Economists-Remove-Your/151057/; Paul Krugman, “How Did Economists Get It So Wrong?” New York Times, September 2, 2009, https://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/06/magazine/06Economic-t.html; Paul Krugman, “Triumph of the Wrong?” New York Times, October 11, 2012, https://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/12/opinion/krugman-triumph-of-the-wrong.html; Andrew Simms, “Economics is a failing discipline doing great harm – so let’s rethink it,” Guardian, August 3, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/03/economics-global-economy-climate-crisis; Mark Thoma, “Restoring the Public’s Trust in Economists,” Fiscal Times, May 19, 2015, http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Columns/2015/05/19/Restoring-Public-s-Trust-Economists; Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux, “Economists Are Bad At Predicting Recessions,” FiveThirtyEight, August 21, 2019, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/economists-are-bad-at-predicting-recessions/
  6. [6]For example, it took about a year to formally recognize the financial crisis of 2007-2008 as a recession: National Bureau of Economic Research, “Determination of the December 2007 Peak in Economic Activity,” December 11, 2008, http://www.nber.org/cycles/dec2008.html
  7. [7]Kate Davidson, “Are We in a Recession? Experts Agree: Ask Claudia Sahm,” Wall Street Journal, November 3, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/are-we-in-a-recession-experts-agree-ask-claudia-sahm-11572789602
  8. [8]Kate Davidson, “Are We in a Recession? Experts Agree: Ask Claudia Sahm,” Wall Street Journal, November 3, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/are-we-in-a-recession-experts-agree-ask-claudia-sahm-11572789602
  9. [9]Kate Davidson, “Are We in a Recession? Experts Agree: Ask Claudia Sahm,” Wall Street Journal, November 3, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/are-we-in-a-recession-experts-agree-ask-claudia-sahm-11572789602

Apartment hunting, day 2

Yesterday, I was reasonably optimistic about being approved for the Alden, an apartment complex in Baldwin, in the South Hills area around Pittsburgh. This morning, the problem I described in western Massachusetts[1] reared its head as the complex called me to inform me that my application had been declined: Allegedly, neither my mother nor I have credit.

Actually, we do. Mine sucks because of high balances stemming from a catastrophic 2018 and, of course, student loans in the hundreds of thousands of dollars skyrocketing (tens of thousands of dollars per year) with interest. My mother has been somewhat more successful, but both of us have had to put freezes on our credit reports. Hopefully, we can work through this.

In the meantime, the search goes on. The first place I went to today turned out to have nothing available in my price range for the foreseeable future. Another place responded to my inquiry saying that they don’t take co-signers. Finally, I went out to a place that’s a long ways out but a little larger than the place that, at least temporarily, turned me down.


The featured image for this posting of the Irregular Bullshit is from the CityLab article my mother sent me (see Pittsburgh, below). It is one of several the article draws from the University of Pittsburgh’s Smoke Control Lantern Slide Collection.[2] The collection itself appears fairly voluminous. (Fair use.)


Pittsburgh

My mother was not impressed when I sent her the the article about declining and—to hear the American Lung Association tell it—terrible (straight F’s) Pittsburgh air quality.[3] No, not even one little bit. She sent me another article in response, saying this[4] is how it was when she was a kid. The comparison, of course, is a little unfair, and my mom surely didn’t mean for me to take it very seriously: The pictures reveal particulate pollution; they can’t show ozone and other gases that are also worrisome.

Ben Schwartz, “A New Plan to Correct a Historic Mistake in Pittsburgh,” CityLab, April 25, 2019, https://www.citylab.com/design/2019/04/pittsburgh-penguins-hill-district-history-redevelopment-plan/587896/


Ageism and Sexism

Susan Chenery, “Poverty and ageing: ‘we’re swept under the carpet and pushed aside,’” Guardian, April 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/apr/25/poverty-and-ageing-were-swept-under-the-carpet-and-pushed-aside


Moral panics

Isaac Stanley-Becker, “‘Free speech isn’t free, is it?’: A story on a teen porn worker could cost a high school journalism teacher her job,” Washington Post, April 25, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/04/25/free-speech-isnt-free-is-it-sensitive-story-could-cost-high-school-journalism-teacher-her-job/


Uber

And [Uber] points out that it is likely to make the drivers even more unhappy in the future, both because it is investing in autonomous vehicles to reduce the numbers of drivers it needs, and because it plans to reduce payments to drivers in order to increase its chances of turning a profit: “As we aim to reduce Driver incentives to improve our financial performance, we expect Driver dissatisfaction will generally increase.”[5]

So, um, that didn’t take long.[6]

Kari Paul, “Uber drivers plan shutdown over ‘poverty wages’ as company goes public,” Guardian, April 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/apr/24/uber-drivers-strike-ipo


Meter Maids

Yes, I am preferring the disparaging term for folks who have been accused in San Francisco, if not elsewhere, of eating their young.

I am well aware of the difficulties of finding a “real job,” which I define as fulfilling the standards in Article 7 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, a treaty in which the U.S. has joined a very small number of countries in failing to ratify.[7] I have failed to find such a job for eighteen years. And I appreciate that many such workers have families to support.

But ethical employment is not employment that principally harms others. While it is far from being uniquely so, parking enforcement is principally a harm, especially in places like San Francisco, which obviously invests in and reaps rewards from it as a reliable source of revenue, a tax by any other name.

To be fully human, one must act ethically. When we act otherwise, we are acting as sub-humans. To do so for employment is to professionally reduce oneself to a sub-human level. And to do so is to deserve sub-human treatment.

Alex Johnson, “Chalking tires to enforce parking rules is unconstitutional, court finds,” April 23, 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/chalking-tires-enforce-parking-rules-unconstitutional-court-finds-n997326


Joe Biden

But the larger argument against Biden comes from the progressive wing of the Democratic party, which sees him as a dinosaur holdover from the party’s unenlightened past. Already progressives have charged Biden with a litany of political errors (or crimes), including his maladroit actions as the chairman of the Senate judiciary committee during the 1991 Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings (which allegedly showed his regressive attitudes toward women) and his support for Bill Clinton’s 1994 crime bill (which is interpreted as callousness about high levels of African American incarceration).[8]

Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland, was even more pointed. “Biden’s chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee during the Thomas nomination reflected his sense of institutionalism a lot more than any sense of feminism. None of this would be disqualifying but it does not stand up well to the feminist sensibilities of the #MeToo era.”[9]

Even setting aside my concern about how Anita Hill was treated, Biden sounds like he’s going to be yet one more mainstream Democrat who will continue the Party’s rightward push—because that’s the way the Party has been pushing since George McGovern’s landslide loss to Richard Nixon in 1972. Neoliberalism will be fine with Biden, no matter what he says about it on the campaign trail.

I can’t live with Donald Trump. But I can’t live with neoliberalism either.

Geoffrey Kabaservice, “Joe Biden is the ultimate centrist Democrat. Is that a liability or strength?” Guardian, April 25, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/25/joe-biden-2020-democrats-choice

Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Carl Hulse, “Joe Biden Expresses Regret to Anita Hill, but She Says ‘I’m Sorry’ Is Not Enough,” New York Times, April 25, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/25/us/politics/joe-biden-anita-hill.html


  1. [1]David Benfell, “If you don’t like homelessness, here’s an idea: Make it possible to rent an apartment,” Not Housebroken, April 19, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/04/19/if-you-dont-like-homelessness-heres-an-idea-make-it-possible-to-rent-an-apartment/
  2. [2]Mark Byrnes, “What Pittsburgh Looked Like When It Decided It Had a Pollution Problem,” CityLab, June 5, 2012, https://www.citylab.com/design/2012/06/what-pittsburgh-looked-when-it-decided-it-had-pollution-problem/2185/
  3. [3]Kristina Marusic, “Pittsburgh’s air quality continues to decline, new report finds,” Environmental Health News, April 24, 2019, https://www.ehn.org/pittsburghs-air-quality-continues-to-decline-new-report-finds-2635280543.html
  4. [4]Mark Byrnes, “What Pittsburgh Looked Like When It Decided It Had a Pollution Problem,” CityLab, June 5, 2012, https://www.citylab.com/design/2012/06/what-pittsburgh-looked-when-it-decided-it-had-pollution-problem/2185/
  5. [5]Julia Carrie Wong, “Disgruntled drivers and ‘cultural challenges’: Uber admits to its biggest risk factors,” Guardian, April 12, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/apr/11/uber-ipo-risk-factors
  6. [6]Kari Paul, “Uber drivers plan shutdown over ‘poverty wages’ as company goes public,” Guardian, April 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/apr/24/uber-drivers-strike-ipo
  7. [7]International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, December 16, 1966, United Nations, General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI), http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/cescr.htm
  8. [8]Geoffrey Kabaservice, “Joe Biden is the ultimate centrist Democrat. Is that a liability or strength?” Guardian, April 25, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/25/joe-biden-2020-democrats-choice
  9. [9]Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Carl Hulse, “Joe Biden Expresses Regret to Anita Hill, but She Says ‘I’m Sorry’ Is Not Enough,” New York Times, April 25, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/25/us/politics/joe-biden-anita-hill.html

Robert Mueller’s spokesperson speaks!

Updates

  1. Originally published, January 20, 1:09 am.
  2. January 20, 6:53 am:
    • Harbin Hot Springs has re-opened. Some, anyway. And as long as we’re badly misappropriating tired clichés for headlines,[1] let’s try “Rick and Ilsa might always have Paris. California has Harbin.” No?
  3. January 21, 12:39 am:
    • Nothing really, yet. I just finished looking at my Twitter feed; even it’s relatively quiet. I’m wondering if it is the calm before the storm and thinking almost certainly, it must be. Between Brexit and the Robert Mueller investigation, there is much that is pending. I’m adding some analysis to the commentary under the latter.
  4. January 21, 2:26 pm:
    • Iran’s PressTV reports that the U.S. Army has concluded that Iran was the only victor in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[2] PressTV is subject to Iranian government control.
    • Ilya Somin visits Donald Trump’s eminent domain problem with the border wall.[3] (Unauthorized migration)
  5. January 21, 8:10 pm:
    • Amid local resentment at the latest regulations permitting Marijuana delivery to any address in California, the California Highway Patrol has been exploiting arcane regulation to increase its seizures.[4]
    • I worried about the PressTV story about the Army saying Iran was the only winner of the Iraq war.[5] It turns out the Wall Street Journal had the story a few days ago, though it does not repeat the specific claim about Iran being the sole victor.[6]
  6. January 22, 12:29 am:
    • Theresa May’s Brexit Plan B looks a lot like her Plan A. And underwhelms accordingly.[7] Meanwhile, the Telegraph has a report on ways forward, including that Jeremy Corbyn has backed down from his opposition to a second referendum.[8]
  7. January 22, 1:58 pm:
    • Is it really news that Kim Jong Un pulled the wool over Donald Trump’s eyes? Of course not. This wasn’t even news during the summit. Which is why I’ve held back on what I viewed as “I told you so” stories. But an occasional reckoning is nonetheless in order. Yes, we know Trump is a delusional raging narcissist, an easy mark for any foreign leader worth his or her salt. But twenty undisclosed nuclear missile sites? Twenty? In North Korea?[9] Are you fucking kidding me?
  8. January 23, 11:00 pm:
    • Round one to Nancy Pelosi as Donald Trump abandons effort to give State of the Union Address at the regularly scheduled bat-channel, at the regularly scheduled bat-location, at the regularly scheduled bat-time, or even one or two of the three.[10]
  9. January 24, 5:17 pm:
    • An appeals court has ruled that legislation that protects against Ageism bias does not cover job applicants.[11]
    • Take this with more than a grain of salt, but allegedly, Republican senators’ patience is wearing thin with the shutdown.[12] Meanwhile, Donald Trump is apparently returning to his idea to declare a national emergency on the border.[13] (Unauthorized migration)
    • So, um, here’s a fire Pacific Gas and Electric actually might not be liable for. The Tubbs Fire, one of three that devastated Sonoma County in 2017. The folks who are suing PG&E over the fire are still suing and the utility is still planning to file for bankruptcy.[14] (Sonoma County Wildfires)
  10. January 25, 3:40 pm:
    • Donald Trump historically blinks and gets revenge—sometimes even petty revenge—later.[15]
    • And Donald Trump blinked and appears to be staggering.[16] The government will reopen for at least three weeks and there is no money for the border wall. Round two to Nancy Pelosi. She’s having an easier time of this than I expected.
    • The Doomsday Clock remains at two minutes before midnight.[17]
  11. January 25, 11:19 pm:
    • Donald Trump’s capitulation to Nancy Pelosi is now official. He has signed the bill ending a record government shutdown. It is unclear when or if he will give his State of the Union Address. He denies capitulating and still threatens to attempt to use emergency authority,[18] but he now has zero leverage for his fucking wall.

James Comey

We still don’t know—really—what specifically was so exceptional about this Buzzfeed story that Robert Mueller’s team felt it necessary to comment when they’ve let so much speculation, some of which has to have been erroneous, go by before.[19]

I see a couple ways to interpret this. I embrace neither of them:

  1. To some degree, and not necessarily in the sense of factuality of reporting, the story may have been more wrong than others that preceded it. The Washington Post reports that “[i]nside the Justice Department, the statement [denying the Buzzfeed story] was viewed as a huge step, and one that would have been taken only if the special counsel’s office viewed the story as almost entirely incorrect.”[20] Notice the structure of the implication in that quotation. Other stories might have been as incorrect but the decision-making process may have relied on contingencies that are different now.
  2. This story, uniquely of all the coverage to date, somehow threatens the Mueller investigation. Well, um, Donald Trump does think he can fire Mueller. I suppose there might be other problems as well, like that the report might prejudice potential jurors. Or that it is somehow impacting an active area of the investigation. I don’t know.
  3. Some combination of the above.

Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky, and Karoun Demirjian, “In a rare move, Mueller’s office denies BuzzFeed report that Trump told Cohen to lie about Moscow project,” Washington Post, January 18, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/2019/01/18/b9c40d34-1b85-11e9-8813-cb9dec761e73_story.html

Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, “Inside the Mueller team’s decision to dispute BuzzFeed’s explosive story on Trump and Cohen,” Washington Post, January 19, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/inside-the-mueller-teams-decision-to-dispute-buzzfeeds-explosive-story-on-trump-and-cohen/2019/01/19/d89dba5b-fa0f-445b-9fd3-72f0e911e28d_story.html


Brexit

unnamed
Via the Telegraph, January 21, 2019, fair use.

Christopher Hope, “Second Brexit referendum: Official Government guidance says it will take a year to organise, Telegraph, January 18, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/01/17/revealed-official-government-guidance-saying-will-take-year/

Karla Adam and William Booth, “Theresa May’s Brexit Plan B leaves Parliament underwhelmed,” Washington Post, January 21, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/theresa-mays-brexit-plan-b-leaves-parliament-underwhelmed/2019/01/21/1b7e43bc-1b5b-11e9-b8e6-567190c2fd08_story.html

Steven Swinford and Jack Maidment, “Where next: With Theresa May losing control of Brexit which rival plans have a chance of success?” Telegraph, January 21, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/01/21/next-theresa-may-losing-control-brexit-rival-plans-have-chance/


Harbin Hot Springs

Kurtis Alexander, “New Age nudist retreat Harbin Hot Springs rises from embers in Lake County,” San Francisco Chronicle, January 19, 2019, https://www.sfchronicle.com/california-wildfires/article/New-Age-retreat-rises-from-embers-13546291.php


Sonoma County Wildfires

Joseph Serna and Taryn Luna, “Private power lines, not PG&E, caused wine country fire that killed 22, investigation finds,” Los Angeles Times, January 24, 2019, Private power lines, not PG&E, caused wine country fire that killed 22, investigation finds


Iraq

PressTV, “US Army study of its Iraq invasion concludes Iran was ‘the only victor,'” Global Security, January 20, 2019, https://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/iraq/2019/iraq-190120-presstv01.htm


Unauthorized migration

Ilya Somin, “To build the wall, Trump might make thousands of Americans suffer,” Washington Post, January 19, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/to-build-the-wall-trump-might-make-thousands-of-americans-suffer/2019/01/19/fd39abe6-150e-11e9-b6ad-9cfd62dbb0a8_story.html

Priscilla Alvarez and Tammy Kupperman, “White House preparing draft national emergency order, has identified $7 billion for wall,” CNN, January 24, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/24/politics/trump-border-wall-emergency-draft/index.html

Alexander Bolton, “GOP senators read Pence riot act before shutdown votes,” Hill, January 24, 2019, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/426896-gop-senators-read-pence-riot-act-before-shutdown-votes


Nancy Pelosi

Jeremy Diamond, Sarah Westwood, and Kevin Liptak, “Trump denies Pelosi military aircraft for war zone trip,” January 17, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/17/politics/donald-trump-nancy-pelosi-trip-cancel/index.html

Seung Min Kim and Felicia Sonmez, “Pelosi tells Trump: No State of the Union address in the House until government is reopened,” Washington Post, January 23, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-says-hell-deliver-state-of-the-union-at-the-capitol-despite-pelosis-request-to-postpone/2019/01/23/d171dfae-1f33-11e9-8e21-59a09ff1e2a1_story.html

Kevin Liptak, “Pelosi denies Trump use of House chamber for State of the Union,” CNN, January 23, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/23/politics/donald-trump-nancy-pelosi-state-of-the-union/index.html

Jennifer Haberkorn and Noah Bierman, “Trump agrees to temporarily end government shutdown without any border wall money,” Los Angeles Times, January 25, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-congress-shutdown-talks-20190125-story.html

Rebecca Ballhaus, Kristina Peterson, and Vivian Salama, “Trump Signs Spending Bill, Ending Longest Government Shutdown in U.S. History,” Wall Street Journal, January 25, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-considering-agreeing-to-sign-three-week-spending-bill-as-early-as-friday-11548439078


Donald Trump

Marc Fisher, “Bluster, bombast, backing down: What happens when someone says no to Trump?” Washington Post, January 24, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/bluster-bombast-backing-down-what-happens-when-someone-says-no-to-trump/2019/01/24/359df148-1f66-11e9-8b59-0a28f2191131_story.html


Marijuana

Andrew Sheeler, “Marijuana is legal in California. So why is the CHP arresting delivery drivers?” Sacramento Bee, January 21, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/the-state-worker/article224079655.html


North Korea

Courtney Kube and Carol E. Lee, “Report finds another undisclosed North Korea missile site, says there are 19 more,” NBC News, January 21, 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/north-korea/report-finds-another-undisclosedth-korea-missile-site-says-there-n958801


Donald Trump

Marc Fisher, “Bluster, bombast, backing down: What happens when someone says no to Trump?” Washington Post, January 24, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/bluster-bombast-backing-down-what-happens-when-someone-says-no-to-trump/2019/01/24/359df148-1f66-11e9-8b59-0a28f2191131_story.html


Ageism

Jonathan Stempel, “Age bias law does not cover job applicants: U.S. appeals court,” Reuters, January 23, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-labor-age-bias/age-bias-law-does-not-cover-job-applicants-u-s-appeals-court-idUSKCN1PI02N


Doomsday Clock

Julian Borger, “Doomsday clock stays at two minutes to midnight as crisis now ‘new abnormal,’” Guardian, January 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/24/doomsday-clock-2019-two-minutes-midnight-nuclear-war-new-abnormal


 

  1. [1]Kurtis Alexander, “New Age nudist retreat Harbin Hot Springs rises from embers in Lake County,” San Francisco Chronicle, January 19, 2019, https://www.sfchronicle.com/california-wildfires/article/New-Age-retreat-rises-from-embers-13546291.php
  2. [2]PressTV, “US Army study of its Iraq invasion concludes Iran was ‘the only victor,'” Global Security, January 20, 2019, https://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/iraq/2019/iraq-190120-presstv01.htm
  3. [3]Ilya Somin, “To build the wall, Trump might make thousands of Americans suffer,” Washington Post, January 19, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/to-build-the-wall-trump-might-make-thousands-of-americans-suffer/2019/01/19/fd39abe6-150e-11e9-b6ad-9cfd62dbb0a8_story.html
  4. [4]Andrew Sheeler, “Marijuana is legal in California. So why is the CHP arresting delivery drivers?” Sacramento Bee, January 21, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/the-state-worker/article224079655.html
  5. [5]PressTV, “US Army study of its Iraq invasion concludes Iran was ‘the only victor,'” Global Security, January 20, 2019, https://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/iraq/2019/iraq-190120-presstv01.htm
  6. [6]Michael R. Gordon, “Army Releases a Critical History of the War in Iraq,” Wall Street Journal, January 17, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/army-releases-a-critical-history-of-the-war-in-iraq-11547768863
  7. [7]Karla Adam and William Booth, “Theresa May’s Brexit Plan B leaves Parliament underwhelmed,” Washington Post, January 21, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/theresa-mays-brexit-plan-b-leaves-parliament-underwhelmed/2019/01/21/1b7e43bc-1b5b-11e9-b8e6-567190c2fd08_story.html
  8. [8]Steven Swinford and Jack Maidment, “Where next: With Theresa May losing control of Brexit which rival plans have a chance of success?” Telegraph, January 21, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/01/21/next-theresa-may-losing-control-brexit-rival-plans-have-chance/
  9. [9]Courtney Kube and Carol E. Lee, “Report finds another undisclosed North Korea missile site, says there are 19 more,” NBC News, January 21, 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/north-korea/report-finds-another-undisclosedth-korea-missile-site-says-there-n958801
  10. [10]Jeremy Diamond, Sarah Westwood, and Kevin Liptak, “Trump denies Pelosi military aircraft for war zone trip,” January 17, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/17/politics/donald-trump-nancy-pelosi-trip-cancel/index.html<; Seung Min Kim and Felicia Sonmez, "Pelosi tells Trump: No State of the Union address in the House until government is reopened," Washington Post, January 23, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-says-hell-deliver-state-of-the-union-at-the-capitol-despite-pelosis-request-to-postpone/2019/01/23/d171dfae-1f33-11e9-8e21-59a09ff1e2a1_story.html; Kevin Liptak, “Pelosi denies Trump use of House chamber for State of the Union,” CNN, January 23, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/23/politics/donald-trump-nancy-pelosi-state-of-the-union/index.html
  11. [11]Jonathan Stempel, “Age bias law does not cover job applicants: U.S. appeals court,” Reuters, January 23, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-labor-age-bias/age-bias-law-does-not-cover-job-applicants-u-s-appeals-court-idUSKCN1PI02N
  12. [12]Alexander Bolton, “GOP senators read Pence riot act before shutdown votes,” Hill, January 24, 2019, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/426896-gop-senators-read-pence-riot-act-before-shutdown-votes
  13. [13]Priscilla Alvarez and Tammy Kupperman, “White House preparing draft national emergency order, has identified $7 billion for wall,” CNN, January 24, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/24/politics/trump-border-wall-emergency-draft/index.html
  14. [14]Joseph Serna and Taryn Luna, “Private power lines, not PG&E, caused wine country fire that killed 22, investigation finds,” Los Angeles Times, January 24, 2019, Private power lines, not PG&E, caused wine country fire that killed 22, investigation finds
  15. [15]Marc Fisher, “Bluster, bombast, backing down: What happens when someone says no to Trump?” Washington Post, January 24, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/bluster-bombast-backing-down-what-happens-when-someone-says-no-to-trump/2019/01/24/359df148-1f66-11e9-8b59-0a28f2191131_story.html
  16. [16]Jennifer Haberkorn and Noah Bierman, “Trump agrees to temporarily end government shutdown without any border wall money,” Los Angeles Times, January 25, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-congress-shutdown-talks-20190125-story.html
  17. [17]Julian Borger, “Doomsday clock stays at two minutes to midnight as crisis now ‘new abnormal,’” Guardian, January 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/24/doomsday-clock-2019-two-minutes-midnight-nuclear-war-new-abnormal
  18. [18]Rebecca Ballhaus, Kristina Peterson, and Vivian Salama, “Trump Signs Spending Bill, Ending Longest Government Shutdown in U.S. History,” Wall Street Journal, January 25, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-considering-agreeing-to-sign-three-week-spending-bill-as-early-as-friday-11548439078
  19. [19]Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky, and Karoun Demirjian, “In a rare move, Mueller’s office denies BuzzFeed report that Trump told Cohen to lie about Moscow project,” Washington Post, January 18, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/2019/01/18/b9c40d34-1b85-11e9-8813-cb9dec761e73_story.html; Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, “Inside the Mueller team’s decision to dispute BuzzFeed’s explosive story on Trump and Cohen,” Washington Post, January 19, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/inside-the-mueller-teams-decision-to-dispute-buzzfeeds-explosive-story-on-trump-and-cohen/2019/01/19/d89dba5b-fa0f-445b-9fd3-72f0e911e28d_story.html
  20. [20]Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky, and Karoun Demirjian, “In a rare move, Mueller’s office denies BuzzFeed report that Trump told Cohen to lie about Moscow project,” Washington Post, January 18, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/2019/01/18/b9c40d34-1b85-11e9-8813-cb9dec761e73_story.html

Same shit, different year

Updates

  1. Originally published, January 9, 12:36 am.
  2. January 9, 8:19 am:
    • Apparently even Donald Trump didn’t expect his speech advocating a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border to change much, and said so in what the New York Times calls “an off-the-record lunch with television anchors hours before the address.”[1] It didn’t. And it repeated many of his usual false claims.[2] Which is to say, it wasn’t newsworthy and the networks shouldn’t have carried it.[3] (Unauthorized migration)
  3. January 9, 11:42 pm:
    • I’m just not hearing from folks who think Donald Trump (other than Trump himself) is going to get his wall. Instead, we’re seeing that maybe being a delusional raging narcissist isn’t such an effective negotiating strategy after all.[4] (Unauthorized migration)
  4. January 10, 7:45 am:
    • As Brexit (also Brexit), with or without a deal (that would reduce the U.K. to a vassal state), draws near, the process is getting very, very ugly (so much so that I’m inclined to think U.K. politicians must think of U.S. politicians as “snowflakes”) as Theresa May appears (yet again, albeit this time through a highly controversial move by the Speaker) to have lost control as the government will now have to produce an alternative plan—which Parliament may amend—within three days of a parliamentary defeat for her plan to reduce Britain to a vassal state of the European Union[5] and Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (the Protestants) reject her assurances over the “backstop,”[6] which will, since we can’t have a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, run a customs border through the Irish Sea instead. It really is all quite nuts and, for all the denials, an extension of the deadline for either a second referendum or a general election seems increasingly possible, if not yet likely.[7]
    • Donald Trump seems increasingly likely to declare a state of emergency to try to build his wall. The move would be immediately challenged, the court battle would be protracted, and Trump might well lose, but he could claim to his very, very precious and all-important authoritarian populist base that he did everything he could.[8] (Unauthorized migration)
  5. January 10, 9:50 pm:
    • There is—or was—a female columnist, I think from Texas (she might be retired or dead now) who had a magnificent talent for taking powerful men down, attacking their masculinity, and puncturing their male egos and exploiting a fragility that she somehow knew existed even when her targets didn’t. Her columns were an absolute treat to read. I’m too hazy in my recollection to be sure, but her name might have been Molly Ivins. Jennifer Rubin is not Ivins or whoever this colunist is or was. But Rubin is cheering Nancy Pelosi on as she takes on the allegedly master negotiator, Donald Trump, on the border wall. This column of hers is not in the style I remember of this other columnist. But there’s a little bit here to jog my memory and it’s truly worth a read.[9] (Unauthorized migration)
  6. January 11, 12:50 am:
  7. January 11, 12:31 pm:
    • A lot of folks are wondering how the shutdown ends but Molly Ball usefully summarizes the question well.[11] (Unauthorized migration)
  8. January 11, 8:36 pm:
    • When Donald Trump fired James Comey, the FBI investigated Trump for what sounds like treason. Robert Mueller took over this investigation[12] and so, I would expect, was able to get off to a running start.
  9. January 12, 3:12 am:
    • Had I not resigned from the U.S. Census Bureau due to methodological and ethical concerns,[13] I would apparently be among those working without pay. It’s quite a curious thing, actually: I resigned in November. I received this on New Years Eve.
    • The wall will never be built. Sorry, no dice. Take it from a lawyer. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to access the article that might explain this. I will try again, later. Looking at the text of the amendment,[14] I’m guessing the issue is about acquiring the land that the wall would be built on—I still want to see the argument. (Unauthorized migration)
  10. January 12, 2019, 2:16 pm:
  11. January 12, 8:10 pm:
    • Even senior White House officials often have to rely on intelligence agency reports of foreign reactions (often unfavorable) to learn what has been said in meetings between Donald Trump and foreign leaders, especially including Vladimir Putin.[16] (Golden Showers)
  12. January 13, 12:51 am:
    • Britain’s Labour party is plotting a parliamentary no-confidence motion possibly to be offered Tuesday (the 15th) night and possibly to be voted on on Wednesday the 16th if, as widely expected, Theresa May’s Brexit deal is defeated.[17]
    • Wait, this is news? Donald Trump is not even one little bit happy about reports he may have been a Russian ‘asset.’[18] One thing to notice here is that the threads I’ve been keeping distinct on all this are all starting to come together. (Golden Showers)
  13. January 13, 9:46 am:
    • So I finally got back to that article above that I wasn’t able to access before. The argument is this: The people who actually own the land the wall would be built on like their land and want to keep it. They are unwilling to sell. Elie Mystal thinks there’s no way the courts are going to find Donald Trump’s reasoning sufficient to justify an eminent domain seizure.[19] (Unauthorized migration)

So yeah, it’s been a while. And frankly, there hasn’t been much. It’s always been so low-grade I didn’t pull the trigger on developing a new issue here.

There are four new blog entries:

  1. Things I shouldn’t have to say about borders
  2. The love of a dog
  3. Hey, High Tech! Have you noticed it’s 2019?
  4. It might actually be a good thing that Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of the House right now

Updating the third of these blog entries in a minor way, I can’t even manage to close my GoBank account. They won’t answer their phones and they say they’ll only close the account over the phone.


Priceless, from a Telegraph newsletter:FireShot Capture 35 - Our favourite gadgets from tech’s bigg_ - https___mail.google.com_mail_ca_u_


Donald Trump

Daniel Politi, “Trump Is Reportedly Considering Firing Mnuchin Over Stock Market Woes,” Slate, December 25, 2018, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/12/trump-is-reportedly-considering-firing-mnuchin-over-stock-market-declines.html


Ageism

Helaine Olen, “Age discrimination is more common than you think. Why aren’t we doing anything about it?” Washington Post, January 3, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/01/03/age-discrimination-is-more-common-than-you-think-why-arent-we-doing-anything-about-it/


Gig economy

Josh Zumbrun, “How Estimates of the Gig Economy Went Wrong,” Wall Street Journal, January 7, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-estimates-of-the-gig-economy-went-wrong-11546857000


Foie Gras

Jonathan Kauffman, “California’s foie gras ban upheld, though chefs vow to fight on,” San Francisco Chronicle, January 8, 2019, https://www.sfchronicle.com/food/article/California-s-foie-gras-ban-upheld-though-chefs-13514763.php


Unauthorized migration

DC010819.jpg

“Next, we’ll tell you when the President’s speech is, so that you can avoid it.” (via the New Yorker, in a newsletter, January 8, 2019, fair use.)

Jon Allsop, “The challenges of covering a shutdown marked by lies,” Columbia Journalism Review, January 7, 2019, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/trump_shutdown_border_wall.php

Peter Baker, “Trump’s National Address Escalates Border Wall Fight,” New York Times, January 8, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/08/us/politics/donald-trump-speech.html

David Frum, “Trump Has Defeated Himself,” Atlantic, January 8, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/01/trump-speech/579850/

David Nakamura and Seung Min Kim, “‘He’s a gut politician’: Trump’s go-to negotiating tactics aren’t working in shutdown standoff,” Washington Post, January 9, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/hes-a-gut-politician-trumps-go-to-negotiating-tactics-not-working-in-shutdown-standoff/2019/01/09/c7bb5ff2-142b-11e9-b6ad-9cfd62dbb0a8_story.html

Salvador Rizzo, “Fact-checking President Trump’s Oval Office address on immigration,” Washington Post, January 9, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/01/09/fact-checking-president-trumps-oval-office-address-immigration/

Jennifer Rubin, “Here’s the problem with only pitching to your craziest supporters,” Washington Post, January 9, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/01/09/heres-problem-with-only-pitching-your-craziest-supporters/

Rebecca Ballhaus, Kristina Peterson, and Natalie Andrews, “Trump Walks Out of Shutdown Talks, Calls Them ‘Total Waste of Time,’” Wall Street Journal, January 10, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-says-bypassing-congress-still-an-option-on-wall-11547056461

Jennifer Rubin, “Pelosi knows the magic word for beating Trump: ‘No,’” Washington Post, January 10, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/01/10/pelosi-knows-magic-word-beating-trump-no/

(continues with Unauthorized migration, immediately following)


Unauthorized migration

Yes, there are now two sections in this issue titled “unauthorized migration.” I have found it wise to limit page lengths. So this is continued from Unauthorized migration.

Ed Pilkington, “Trump tours border after repeating threat to call national emergency,” Guardian, January 10, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jan/10/trump-border-visit-mexico-government-shutdown

Molly Ball, “Trump and Pelosi Are Locked in Their First Battle. Neither Can Afford to Lose,” Time, January 10, 2019, http://time.com/5498900/donald-trump-nancy-pelosi-battle/

Elie Mystal, “Can All Lawyers Just Admit The Wall Will Never Be Built Because Of The Fifth Amendment?” Above The Law, January 10, 2019, https://abovethelaw.com/2019/01/can-all-lawyers-just-admit-the-wall-will-never-be-built-because-of-the-fifth-amendment/


Cuba

So, remember the reports of diplomats in Cuba falling ill, apparently due to mysterious noises that some blamed on Cuban spying?[20] Call it the “Cuban Cricket Crisis.” Yes, really.[21]

Ed Yong, “Animals Keep Creating Mysteries by Sounding Weird,” Atlantic, January 8, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/01/sound-haunted-diplomats-cuba-crickets/579637/


Brexit

Peter Foster, “DUP slams government attempts to reassure them over Brexit backstop,” Telegraph, January 9, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/01/09/dup-slams-government-attempts-reassure-brexit-backstop/

Gordon Rayner, “John Bercow row: Tory MPs plot to dock Speaker’s pay or axe his pension over Brexit intervention,” Telegraph, January 10, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/01/09/john-bercow-takes-control-brexit-critics-warn-unprecedented/

(Continued at Brexit, immediately below.)


Brexit

This is a similar situation to that with Unauthorized migration above.

Oliver Wright, “Brexit: Starmer insists a second vote may be the only way out,” Times, January 10, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/brexit-starmer-insists-a-second-vote-may-be-the-only-way-out-3tkzc9mdq

Toby Helm and Michael Savage, “Labour set to call vote to topple Theresa May’s government,” Guardian, January 13, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jan/12/labour-set-to-trigger-vote-to-topple-theresa-may-government


James Comey

Brooke Seipel, “Comey firing prompted FBI to probe whether Trump was working for Russia: NYT,” Hill, January 11, 2019, https://thehill.com/policy/national-security/425020-comey-firing-prompted-fbi-to-probe-whether-trump-was-working-for

Jonathan Chait, “Mueller Is Investigating Trump as a Russian Asset,” New York, January 12, 2019, http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/01/mueller-investigating-trump-russian-asset.html


Golden Showers

Greg Miller, “Trump has concealed details of his face-to-face encounters with Putin from senior officials in administration,” Washington Post, January 12, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-has-concealed-details-of-his-face-to-face-encounters-with-putin-from-senior-officials-in-administration/2019/01/12/65f6686c-1434-11e9-b6ad-9cfd62dbb0a8_story.html

David Smith, “Trump vents fury over Russia stories and again threatens national emergency,” Guardian, January 12, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jan/12/trump-tweets-fbi-russia-new-york-times-james-comey


  1. [1]Peter Baker, “Trump’s National Address Escalates Border Wall Fight,” New York Times, January 8, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/08/us/politics/donald-trump-speech.html
  2. [2]Peter Baker, “Trump’s National Address Escalates Border Wall Fight,” New York Times, January 8, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/08/us/politics/donald-trump-speech.html; David Frum, “Trump Has Defeated Himself,” Atlantic, January 8, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/01/trump-speech/579850/; Salvador Rizzo, “Fact-checking President Trump’s Oval Office address on immigration,” Washington Post, January 9, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/01/09/fact-checking-president-trumps-oval-office-address-immigration/
  3. [3]Jon Allsop, “The challenges of covering a shutdown marked by lies,” Columbia Journalism Review, January 7, 2019, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/trump_shutdown_border_wall.php
  4. [4]David Nakamura and Seung Min Kim, “‘He’s a gut politician’: Trump’s go-to negotiating tactics aren’t working in shutdown standoff,” Washington Post, January 9, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/hes-a-gut-politician-trumps-go-to-negotiating-tactics-not-working-in-shutdown-standoff/2019/01/09/c7bb5ff2-142b-11e9-b6ad-9cfd62dbb0a8_story.html; Jennifer Rubin, “Here’s the problem with only pitching to your craziest supporters,” Washington Post, January 9, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/01/09/heres-problem-with-only-pitching-your-craziest-supporters/
  5. [5]Gordon Rayner, “John Bercow row: Tory MPs plot to dock Speaker’s pay or axe his pension over Brexit intervention,” Telegraph, January 10, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/01/09/john-bercow-takes-control-brexit-critics-warn-unprecedented/
  6. [6]Peter Foster, “DUP slams government attempts to reassure them over Brexit backstop,” Telegraph, January 9, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/01/09/dup-slams-government-attempts-reassure-brexit-backstop/
  7. [7]Oliver Wright, “Brexit: Starmer insists a second vote may be the only way out,” Times, January 10, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/brexit-starmer-insists-a-second-vote-may-be-the-only-way-out-3tkzc9mdq
  8. [8]Rebecca Ballhaus, Kristina Peterson, and Natalie Andrews, “Trump Walks Out of Shutdown Talks, Calls Them ‘Total Waste of Time,’” Wall Street Journal, January 10, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-says-bypassing-congress-still-an-option-on-wall-11547056461
  9. [9]Jennifer Rubin, “Pelosi knows the magic word for beating Trump: ‘No,’” Washington Post, January 10, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/01/10/pelosi-knows-magic-word-beating-trump-no/
  10. [10]Ed Pilkington, “Trump tours border after repeating threat to call national emergency,” Guardian, January 10, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jan/10/trump-border-visit-mexico-government-shutdown
  11. [11]Molly Ball, “Trump and Pelosi Are Locked in Their First Battle. Neither Can Afford to Lose,” Time, January 10, 2019, http://time.com/5498900/donald-trump-nancy-pelosi-battle/
  12. [12]Brooke Seipel, “Comey firing prompted FBI to probe whether Trump was working for Russia: NYT,” Hill, January 11, 2019, https://thehill.com/policy/national-security/425020-comey-firing-prompted-fbi-to-probe-whether-trump-was-working-for
  13. [13]David Benfell, “Unethical research,” November 13, 2018, https://parts-unknown.org/drupal7/journal/2018/11/10/unethical-research; David Benfell, “Methodological Problems of the American Community Survey,” November 17, 2018, https://parts-unknown.org/drupal7/journal/2018/11/17/methodological-problems-american-community-survey; David Benfell, “Socially constructed ethics,” November 24, 2018, https://parts-unknown.org/drupal7/journal/2018/11/24/socially-constructed-ethics
  14. [14]U.S. Const. amend. V.
  15. [15]Jonathan Chait, “Mueller Is Investigating Trump as a Russian Asset,” New York, January 12, 2019, http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/01/mueller-investigating-trump-russian-asset.html
  16. [16]Greg Miller, “Trump has concealed details of his face-to-face encounters with Putin from senior officials in administration,” Washington Post, January 12, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-has-concealed-details-of-his-face-to-face-encounters-with-putin-from-senior-officials-in-administration/2019/01/12/65f6686c-1434-11e9-b6ad-9cfd62dbb0a8_story.html
  17. [17]Toby Helm and Michael Savage, “Labour set to call vote to topple Theresa May’s government,” Guardian, January 13, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jan/12/labour-set-to-trigger-vote-to-topple-theresa-may-government
  18. [18]David Smith, “Trump vents fury over Russia stories and again threatens national emergency,” Guardian, January 12, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jan/12/trump-tweets-fbi-russia-new-york-times-james-comey
  19. [19]Elie Mystal, “Can All Lawyers Just Admit The Wall Will Never Be Built Because Of The Fifth Amendment?” Above The Law, January 10, 2019, https://abovethelaw.com/2019/01/can-all-lawyers-just-admit-the-wall-will-never-be-built-because-of-the-fifth-amendment/
  20. [20]Tim Golden and Sebastian Rotella, “The Strange Case of American Diplomats in Cuba: As the Mystery Deepens, So Do Divisions in Washington,” Pro Publica, November 9, 2018, https://www.propublica.org/article/the-strange-case-of-american-diplomats-in-cuba-as-the-mystery-deepens-so-do-divisions-in-washington
  21. [21]Ed Yong, “Animals Keep Creating Mysteries by Sounding Weird,” Atlantic, January 8, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/01/sound-haunted-diplomats-cuba-crickets/579637/

Who will watch the watcher? It can’t be the executive branch. But the obvious alternative is scarier.

I forgot to mention a new blog post, entitled, “The callousness of the moment” in the last issue.


Updates

  1. Originally published June 14, 10:11 am.
  2. June 14, 9:42 pm:
    • CNN has a useful summary of the the Justice Department Inspector General’s report on James Comey’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server.[1] This is somewhat more helpful than the Bloomberg report[2] I posted here earlier.
    • Increasingly impatient with a political failure to act, bankruptcy judges are increasingly working to provide relief to student loan borrowers.[3] For inquiring minds, no, I don’t expect this to benefit me personally as I already have all my loans consolidated on a REPAYE plan and am currently recertifying for whichever plan (probably REPAYE) offers the lowest monthly payments (so far, these have been zero). (Student Loans)
    • In my last issue, on the topic of breaking up California, I pointed out that “if you don’t like the conservative bias of the electoral college or if you don’t like the conservatism of the U.S. Senate, breaking up high-population states is the thing to do.”[4] I told you so. An analysis in the Sacramento Bee confirms that where there are now two Democratic U.S. senators representing California, the plan would likely result in six Democratic senators representing the three new states.[5] That Democratic Party politicians aren’t interested[6] tells you they’re interested in something other than representing their constituents or advancing even marginally less conservative policy. Which was my point.
  3. June 15, 3:50 am:
  4. June 15, 2:20 pm:
    • Defending the Trump Administration policy of separating children from their parents, Jeff Sessions cited Romans 13, which needs to be read in context with Romans 12.[7] (Unauthorized migration)
    • Donald Trump said he would not sign the more moderate of two compromise bills that were being set for a House vote to fund the border wall and secure legal status for folks previously protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.[8] (Unauthorized migration)
    • Massachussetts is starting a program to help older workers get hired.[9] (Ageism)
  5. June 15, 5:40 pm:
    • A federal judge revoked Paul Manafort’s bail due to allegations of witness-tampering. “It was not immediately clear where Manafort would be jailed.” Rudy Giuliani said “that the Mueller investigation ‘might get cleaned up with some presidential pardons’” but backtracked. Donald Trump thought it was so unfair that Manafort was going to jail[10] and not “[James] Comey and Crooked Hillary [Clinton] and all of the others.”[11] (James Comey)
  6. June 15, 6:30 pm:
  7. June 15, 10:56 pm:
    • So Paul Manafort is going to jail[13] and—I don’t know if there’s really a connection—suddenly, Mitch McConnell is blowing his top at Robert Mueller. Donald Trump’s and Rudy Giuliani’s idiocy was to be expected. But, as Jonathan Chait puts it, “McConnell so far has held back from joining Trump’s effort to make the Justice Department into a palace guard at his personal disposal. At times he has flashed the yellow light to Trump’s most aggressively lunatic threats.”[14] Could it be that somebody’s getting much too close for comfort? (James Comey)
  8. June 16, 1:50 pm:
    • For me, this is something of a non sequitur, but Natasha Bertrand takes Paul Manafort’s jailing as Robert Mueller’s warning to Donald Trump about lying in an interview[15] that, to my eyes, doesn’t even look like it’s going to happen. It’s an interesting read anyway. (James Comey)
    • If you’ve read Colin Woodard’s American Nations or even looked at the associated map, you might realize that Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is on the frontier between what he labels Greater Appalachia and what he labels the Midlands. I see his description of the folks of Greater Appalachia[16] as looking very much like—enough so that I’m inclined to think that they’re at least the ideological ancestors of—authoritarian populists, the larger part of Donald Trump’s base.[17] I’m guessing the publisher of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is an authoritarian populist. He fired a cartoonist for proposing and drawing too many cartoons critical of Trump. The cartoonist had worked there for 25 years.[18]
    • I remain deeply skeptical of polling methodology in the current environment due to its low response rates,[19] but some Brookings scholars have concluded 1) that Donald Trump has now for all intents and purposes captured the Republican Party, and 2) that—here’s where the polling data comes in—the Republican Party increasingly represents only old folks who are dying off.[20] This is an interesting read and I recommend it—some of what they say is surely pertinent—but we’ve been hearing the demographic argument for a while. As I’ve previously noted, it flatly hasn’t worked out so far,[21] and I’m deeply suspicious that in any population of human beings, some will be more conservative than others. The analysis here assumes that all the young will remain progressive or ‘liberal’ or at least less conservative as they age while a saying that dates back at least to 1785 suggests a quite different experience that seems to have been echoed over the centuries since.[22]
    • Add a lawsuit filed by the New York state attorney general to the list of thorny legal messes that Donald Trump now faces.[23]
  9. June 17, 12:51 am:
    • I guess I’ll never actually know and I have to confess I’m wondering: I’m watching for signs of favorable treatment for John Manafort—you know, the conservative meme of a ‘country club’ prison. Given the coverage I’ve seen so far, it doesn’t look like it.[24] But CNN’s story seems like it might be bending over just a little too far to make that point. There is the “VIP” designation and, translated into terms of incarceration, I don’t know what, if anything, that actually means. One thing that’s odd is it sounds like he’s able to keep his cell phone,[25] which would 1) undermine the point of the detention,[26] and 2) be very unusual for any prisoner anywhere, because cell phones are usually treated as contraband; California’s prisons, for example, go to great (and failing) lengths to try to keep cell phones out. (James Comey)
  10. June 17, 3:44 am:
    • The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s publisher defended firing a cartoonist, saying the latter had become “too angry.”[27] (Donald Trump)
    • A story in Politico suggests that Donald Trump’s capture of the Republican Party is complete.[28]
    • The Washington Post’s story on Paul Manafort’s jailing indicates that the jail in question has a “VIP section” but otherwise talks about conditions ordinary prisoners face.[29] (CNN’s story discussed those conditions as well.[30]) It’s still not clear, though it seems awfully probable, that Manafort had to give up his cell phone. (James Comey)
  11. June 17, 2:57 pm:
    • I’m late getting to this but a couple days ago, James Hohmann had a very useful “Daily 202” newsletter that begins with the controversy on separating families.[31] (Unauthorized migration)
    • Pro-Tip: If you’re going to cite a Bible passage in support of some policy, as Jeff Sessions did regarding separating families, that passage should actually support the policy.[32] (Unauthorized migration)
    • Roger Stone has revealed a meeting with a Russian, whom he now thinks might have been an FBI plant, offering ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton.[33] (James Comey)
    • Tristan Snell explains the New York state attorney general’s suit against the Trump Foundation as exposing Donald Trump as a con man.[34]
  12. June 17, 6:33 pm:
    • The Associated Press has reported on the conditions at a prison where some families are being allowed to remain together, where there are some unaccompanied children, and where some children have been separated from their parents.[35] (Unauthorized migration)

James Comey

Jeremy Herb and Marshall Cohen, “6 takeaways from the Justice watchdog report on the Clinton email investigation,” CNN, June 14, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/14/politics/takeaways-ig-report-comey-fbi/index.html

Chris Strohm, “Comey Broke From FBI Procedures in Clinton Probe, Watchdog Finds,” Bloomberg, June 14, 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06-14/comey-broke-from-fbi-procedures-in-clinton-probe-watchdog-finds

Natasha Bertrand, “Mueller’s Warning to Trump: The Cover-Up Is Also a Crime,” Atlantic, June 15, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/06/muellers-targets-keep-digging-deeper-holes/562985/

Jonathan Chait, “Mitch McConnell Turns Against Robert Mueller,” New York, June 15, 2018, http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/06/senate-republican-leader-mitch-mcconnell-turns-on-mueller.html

Spencer S. Hsu, Ellen Nakashima, and Devlin Barrett, “Paul Manafort ordered to jail after witness-tampering charges,” Washington Post, June 15, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/manafort-ordered-to-jail-after-witness-tampering-charges/2018/06/15/ccc526cc-6e68-11e8-afd5-778aca903bbe_story.html

Tom Jackman, “Manafort checks into VIP section at Virginia jail where Chris Brown, Michael Vick also did time,” Washington Post, June 16, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/manafort-checks-into-vip-section-at-virginia-jail-where-chris-brown-michael-vick-also-did-time/2018/06/16/8ad19196-71a2-11e8-afd5-778aca903bbe_story.html

Katelyn Polantz, “What life is like for Paul Manafort in jail,” CNN, June 16, 2018, https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2018/06/16/politics/paul-manafort-virginia-jail-life/index.html

Manuel Roig-Franzia and Rosalind S. Helderman, “Trump associate Roger Stone reveals new contact with Russian national during 2016 campaign,” Washington Post, June 17, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-associate-roger-stone-reveals-new-contact-with-russian-national-during-2016-campaign/2018/06/17/4a8123c8-6fd0-11e8-bd50-b80389a4e569_story.html


Donald Trump

Edward-Isaac Dovere, “‘This is the new Republican Party,’” Politico, June 13, 2018, https://www.politico.com/story/2018/06/13/trump-republicans-sanford-resistance-644721

Elaine Kamarck, Alexander R. Podkul, and Nicholas W. Zeppos, “Trump owns a shrinking Republican party,” Brookings Institute, June 14, 2018, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2018/06/14/trump-owns-a-shrinking-republican-party/

Jacqueline Thomsen, “Five things to know about the lawsuit against the Trump Foundation,” Hill, June 14, 2018, http://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/392392-five-things-to-know-about-the-lawsuit-against-the-trump-foundation

Ann Telnaes, “An American editorial cartoonist has been fired for skewering Trump. He likely won’t be the last,” Washington Post, June 15, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/opinions/wp/2018/06/15/an-american-editorial-cartoonist-has-been-fired-for-skewering-trump-he-likely-wont-be-the-last/

Daniel Lippman, “‘He’s just become too angry’: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette publisher defends firing cartoonist,” Politico, June 16, 2018, https://www.politico.com/amp/story/2018/06/16/pittsburgh-cartoonist-firing-publisher-gazette-650389

Tristan Snell, “The proper way to view the Trump Foundation scandal,” CNN, June 16, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/16/opinions/trump-foundation-scandal-opinion-snell/index.html


Replication

Philip Zimbardo has some explaining to do.[36] This is a very sad thing for me to say: I was deeply impressed by his book, The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil, in which he advances a theory of the power of the situation, which resonates with me, even if I am considerably less optimistic than he is about individuals’ ability to overcome it. That theory is based on his ethically problematic work in the Stanford Prison Experiments and he tells a very touching tale of how it was his girl friend (whom he later married) who persuaded him he’d gone too far.[37] Yes, this is a book I cited in my dissertation.[38]

Brian Resnick, “The Stanford Prison Experiment was massively influential. We just learned it was a fraud,” Vox, June 13, 2018, https://www.vox.com/2018/6/13/17449118/stanford-prison-experiment-fraud-psychology-replication


Student Loans

Katy Stech Ferek, “Judges Wouldn’t Consider Forgiving Crippling Student Loans—Until Now,” Wall Street Journal, June 14, 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/judges-wouldnt-consider-forgiving-crippling-student-loans-until-now-1528974001


California

Phillip Reese, “‘Three Californias’ would likely mean four more Democrats in U.S. Senate,” Sacramento Bee, June 14, 2018, http://www.sacbee.com/site-services/databases/article213195344.html


Unauthorized migration

James Hohmann, “Trump is losing the debate over splitting up immigrant families,” Washington Post, June 15, 2018, https://s2.washingtonpost.com/camp-rw/?e=YmVuZmVsbEBwYXJ0cy11bmtub3duLm9yZw%3D%3D&s=5b23c997fe1ff66463922db0

Jennifer Rubin, “Leave the Bible out of it, child separation is not ‘Christian,’” Washington Post, June 15, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2018/06/15/leave-the-bible-out-of-it-child-separation-is-not-christian/

Kelsey Snell and Susan Davis, “President Trump Injects Fresh Chaos Into Immigration Debate,” National Public Radio, June 15, 2018, https://www.npr.org/2018/06/15/620356425/president-trump-injects-fresh-chaos-into-immigration-debate

Julie Zauzmer and Keith McMillan, “Sessions cites Bible passage used to defend slavery in defense of separating immigrant families,” Washington Post, June 15, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/06/14/jeff-sessions-points-to-the-bible-in-defense-of-separating-immigrant-families/

Nomaan Merchant, “Hundreds of children wait in Border Patrol facility in Texas,” Associated Press, June 17, 2018, https://www.apnews.com/9794de32d39d4c6f89fbefaea3780769


Ageism

Robert Weisman, “Help wanted, but not from older workers: Many struggle to find jobs as employers post openings,” Boston Globe, June 14, 2018, http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2018/06/14/help-wanted-but-not-from-older-workers-many-struggle-find-jobs-employers-post-openings/CIQgOC1AYXqlGIFtZWkcHN/story.html?camp=breakingnews:newsletter


  1. [1]Jeremy Herb and Marshall Cohen, “6 takeaways from the Justice watchdog report on the Clinton email investigation,” CNN, June 14, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/14/politics/takeaways-ig-report-comey-fbi/index.html
  2. [2]Chris Strohm, “Comey Broke From FBI Procedures in Clinton Probe, Watchdog Finds,” Bloomberg, June 14, 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06-14/comey-broke-from-fbi-procedures-in-clinton-probe-watchdog-finds
  3. [3]Katy Stech Ferek, “Judges Wouldn’t Consider Forgiving Crippling Student Loans—Until Now,” Wall Street Journal, June 14, 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/judges-wouldnt-consider-forgiving-crippling-student-loans-until-now-1528974001
  4. [4]David Benfell, “You want proof that most U.S. politicians abhor their constituents? Here it is,” Irregular Bullshit, June 13, 2018, https://parts-unknown.org/reading/2018/06/13/you-want-proof-that-most-u-s-politicians-abhor-their-constituents-here-it-is/
  5. [5]Phillip Reese, “‘Three Californias’ would likely mean four more Democrats in U.S. Senate,” Sacramento Bee, June 14, 2018, http://www.sacbee.com/site-services/databases/article213195344.html
  6. [6]Andrea Diaz, “3 Californias? The initiative to break up the state may be on the ballot in November,” CNN, April 13, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/13/us/california-closer-to-split-into-three-states-trnd/index.html
  7. [7]Julie Zauzmer and Keith McMillan, “Sessions cites Bible passage used to defend slavery in defense of separating immigrant families,” Washington Post, June 15, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/06/14/jeff-sessions-points-to-the-bible-in-defense-of-separating-immigrant-families/
  8. [8]Kelsey Snell and Susan Davis, “President Trump Injects Fresh Chaos Into Immigration Debate,” National Public Radio, June 15, 2018, https://www.npr.org/2018/06/15/620356425/president-trump-injects-fresh-chaos-into-immigration-debate
  9. [9]Robert Weisman, “Help wanted, but not from older workers: Many struggle to find jobs as employers post openings,” Boston Globe, June 14, 2018, http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2018/06/14/help-wanted-but-not-from-older-workers-many-struggle-find-jobs-employers-post-openings/CIQgOC1AYXqlGIFtZWkcHN/story.html?camp=breakingnews:newsletter
  10. [10]Spencer S. Hsu, Ellen Nakashima, and Devlin Barrett, “Paul Manafort ordered to jail after witness-tampering charges,” Washington Post, June 15, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/manafort-ordered-to-jail-after-witness-tampering-charges/2018/06/15/ccc526cc-6e68-11e8-afd5-778aca903bbe_story.html
  11. [11]Donald Trump, quoted in Spencer S. Hsu, Ellen Nakashima, and Devlin Barrett, “Paul Manafort ordered to jail after witness-tampering charges,” Washington Post, June 15, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/manafort-ordered-to-jail-after-witness-tampering-charges/2018/06/15/ccc526cc-6e68-11e8-afd5-778aca903bbe_story.html
  12. [12]Jennifer Rubin, “Leave the Bible out of it, child separation is not ‘Christian,’” Washington Post, June 15, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2018/06/15/leave-the-bible-out-of-it-child-separation-is-not-christian/
  13. [13]Spencer S. Hsu, Ellen Nakashima, and Devlin Barrett, “Paul Manafort ordered to jail after witness-tampering charges,” Washington Post, June 15, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/manafort-ordered-to-jail-after-witness-tampering-charges/2018/06/15/ccc526cc-6e68-11e8-afd5-778aca903bbe_story.html
  14. [14]Jonathan Chait, “Mitch McConnell Turns Against Robert Mueller,” New York, June 15, 2018, http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/06/senate-republican-leader-mitch-mcconnell-turns-on-mueller.html
  15. [15]Natasha Bertrand, “Mueller’s Warning to Trump: The Cover-Up Is Also a Crime,” Atlantic, June 15, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/06/muellers-targets-keep-digging-deeper-holes/562985/
  16. [16]Colin Woodard, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America (New York: Penguin, 2011).
  17. [17]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  18. [18]Ann Telnaes, “An American editorial cartoonist has been fired for skewering Trump. He likely won’t be the last,” Washington Post, June 15, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/opinions/wp/2018/06/15/an-american-editorial-cartoonist-has-been-fired-for-skewering-trump-he-likely-wont-be-the-last/
  19. [19]David Benfell, “On a nine percent response rate,” May 28, 2018, https://parts-unknown.org/drupal7/journal/2017/05/28/nine-percent-response-rate
  20. [20]Elaine Kamarck, Alexander R. Podkul, and Nicholas W. Zeppos, “Trump owns a shrinking Republican party,” Brookings Institute, June 14, 2018, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2018/06/14/trump-owns-a-shrinking-republican-party/
  21. [21]David Benfell, “A national divorce,” Not Housebroken, September 8, 2015, https://disunitedstates.org/2015/09/08/a-national-divorce/
  22. [22]Garson O’Toole, “If You Are Not a Liberal at 25, You Have No Heart. If You Are Not a Conservative at 35 You Have No Brain,” Quote Investigator, February 24, 2014, https://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/02/24/heart-head/
  23. [23]Jacqueline Thomsen, “Five things to know about the lawsuit against the Trump Foundation,” Hill, June 14, 2018, http://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/392392-five-things-to-know-about-the-lawsuit-against-the-trump-foundation
  24. [24]Spencer S. Hsu, Ellen Nakashima, and Devlin Barrett, “Paul Manafort ordered to jail after witness-tampering charges,” Washington Post, June 15, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/manafort-ordered-to-jail-after-witness-tampering-charges/2018/06/15/ccc526cc-6e68-11e8-afd5-778aca903bbe_story.html
  25. [25]Katelyn Polantz, “What life is like for Paul Manafort in jail,” CNN, June 16, 2018, https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2018/06/16/politics/paul-manafort-virginia-jail-life/index.html
  26. [26]Spencer S. Hsu, Ellen Nakashima, and Devlin Barrett, “Paul Manafort ordered to jail after witness-tampering charges,” Washington Post, June 15, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/manafort-ordered-to-jail-after-witness-tampering-charges/2018/06/15/ccc526cc-6e68-11e8-afd5-778aca903bbe_story.html
  27. [27]Daniel Lippman, “‘He’s just become too angry’: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette publisher defends firing cartoonist,” Politico, June 16, 2018, https://www.politico.com/amp/story/2018/06/16/pittsburgh-cartoonist-firing-publisher-gazette-650389
  28. [28]Edward-Isaac Dovere, “‘This is the new Republican Party,’” Politico, June 13, 2018, https://www.politico.com/story/2018/06/13/trump-republicans-sanford-resistance-644721
  29. [29]Tom Jackman, “Manafort checks into VIP section at Virginia jail where Chris Brown, Michael Vick also did time,” Washington Post, June 16, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/manafort-checks-into-vip-section-at-virginia-jail-where-chris-brown-michael-vick-also-did-time/2018/06/16/8ad19196-71a2-11e8-afd5-778aca903bbe_story.html
  30. [30]Katelyn Polantz, “What life is like for Paul Manafort in jail,” CNN, June 16, 2018, https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2018/06/16/politics/paul-manafort-virginia-jail-life/index.html
  31. [31]James Hohmann, “Trump is losing the debate over splitting up immigrant families,” Washington Post, June 15, 2018, https://s2.washingtonpost.com/camp-rw/?e=YmVuZmVsbEBwYXJ0cy11bmtub3duLm9yZw%3D%3D&s=5b23c997fe1ff66463922db0
  32. [32]Jennifer Hansler, “Cardinal Dolan: There is no Bible passage to justify family separation,” CNN, June 16, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/16/politics/cardinal-dolan-family-separation-cnntv/index.html
  33. [33]Manuel Roig-Franzia and Rosalind S. Helderman, “Trump associate Roger Stone reveals new contact with Russian national during 2016 campaign,” Washington Post, June 17, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-associate-roger-stone-reveals-new-contact-with-russian-national-during-2016-campaign/2018/06/17/4a8123c8-6fd0-11e8-bd50-b80389a4e569_story.html
  34. [34]Tristan Snell, “The proper way to view the Trump Foundation scandal,” CNN, June 16, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/16/opinions/trump-foundation-scandal-opinion-snell/index.html
  35. [35]Nomaan Merchant, “Hundreds of children wait in Border Patrol facility in Texas,” Associated Press, June 17, 2018, https://www.apnews.com/9794de32d39d4c6f89fbefaea3780769
  36. [36]Brian Resnick, “The Stanford Prison Experiment was massively influential. We just learned it was a fraud,” Vox, June 13, 2018, https://www.vox.com/2018/6/13/17449118/stanford-prison-experiment-fraud-psychology-replication
  37. [37]Philip Zimbardo, The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil (New York: Random House, 2008).
  38. [38]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).

Control over profit: Why to doubt that companies will overcome ageism

The (Supposedly) Daily Bullshit, then simply The Bullshit, is now the Irregular Bullshit

This is, I hope, an obvious progression as I have struggled with how to name this publication which should have been daily, but clearly has not been.


Updates

  1. Originally published, May 22, 1:53 pm.
  2. May 23, 9:55 pm:

Ageism

The text that was previously here has been incorporated in a new blog post.

Tyler Cowen, “Forget New Robots. Keep Your Eye on the Old People,” Bloomberg, May 17, 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/amp/view/articles/2018-05-17/older-workers-will-help-companies-thrive


James Comey

Morgan Chalfant, “Mystery in Mueller probe: Where’s the hacking indictment?” Hill, May 22, 2018, http://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/388707-mystery-in-mueller-probe-wheres-the-hacking-indictment


Fiddling while the world burns: Daily Bullshit, December 4-8, 2017

So I’m finally catching up on the last few days, which have been extraordinarily busy for me. But it’s all nuts and the world seems like it is falling apart.


James Comey

The emerging difference of view between authoritarian populists and just about everyone else on Robert Mueller’s investigation is one example that makes it harder—much harder—to understand how the divisions in the U.S. can possibly be healed.

Sari Horwitz and Philip Rucker, “A bold new legal defense for Trump: Presidents cannot obstruct justice,” Washington Post, December 4, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/a-bold-new-legal-defense-for-trump-presidents-cannot-obstruct-justice/2017/12/04/b95cb262-d91c-11e7-a841-2066faf731ef_story.html

Kara Scannell, “WH lawyer told Trump that Flynn misled FBI and Pence,” CNN, December 4, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/04/politics/wh-lawyer-told-trump-flynn-misled-fbi-pence/index.html

Stephen Collinson and Maegan Vazquez, “White House turns to above-the-law political defense,” CNN, December 5, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/04/politics/trump-john-dowd-obstruct-justice/index.html

Stephanie Kirchgaessner, “Trump’s personal banking information handed over to Robert Mueller,” Guardian, December 5, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/dec/05/donald-trump-bank-records-handed-over-robert-mueller

Peter Nicholas, Aruna Viswanatha, and Erica Orden, “Trump’s Allies Urge Harder Line as Mueller Probe Heats Up,” Wall Street Journal, December 8, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trumps-allies-urge-harder-line-as-mueller-probe-drags-on-1512748299


Muslim ban

Ariane de Vogue, “Supreme Court lets full Trump travel ban take effect,” CNN, December 4, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/04/politics/supreme-court-travel-ban/index.html

Lydia Wheeler, “Supreme Court allows full Trump travel ban to take effect,” Hill, December 4, 2017, http://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/363183-supreme-court-allows-full-trump-travel-ban-to-take-effect


Brexit

Oliver Wright et al., “May fights to save Brexit deal after DUP veto,” Times, December 5, 2017, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/may-fights-to-save-brexit-deal-after-dup-veto-d5q9623wn

Laurence Norman, “U.K., EU Reach Deal on Brexit Divorce Terms,” Wall Street Journal, December 8, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-k-european-union-reach-deal-on-brexit-divorce-terms-1512716442


Ageism

Ruth Ray Karpen, “Anti-Ageism: The Next Big Social Movement,” review of Ending Ageism or How Not to Shoot Old People, by Margaret Morganroth Gullette, Tikkun, December 7, 2017, http://www.tikkun.org/nextgen/anti-ageism-the-next-big-social-movement


Jerusalem

Michael Lerner, “Trump’s Arrogant Recognition of Jerusalem as Capital of Israel,” Tikkun, December 6, 2017, http://www.tikkun.org/nextgen/32783

Felicia Schwartz, Dion Nissenbaum, and Rory Jones, “Trump Tells Arab Leaders U.S. Will Move Embassy to Jerusalem,” Wall Street Journal, December 5, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-tells-arab-leaders-u-s-will-move-embassy-to-jerusalem-1512497840

Times of Israel, “Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, starts embassy move,” December 6, 2017, https://www.timesofisrael.com/trump-recognizes-jerusalem-as-israels-capital-starts-embassy-move/

Jewish Telegraph Agency, “Palestinians burn US and Israeli flags in riots over Jerusalem,” December 7, 2017, https://www.jta.org/2017/12/07/news-opinion/israel-middle-east/palestinians-protest-jerusalem-recognition-as-hamas-leader-calls-for-new-intifada


Clintons

Even in defeat, these assholes can’t stay out of trouble.

John Solomon and Alison Spann, “Clintons understated support from firm hired by Russian nuclear company,” Hill, November 28, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/news/362234-clintons-understated-support-from-firm-hired-by-russian-nuclear-company


Muslim ban, take two: Daily Bullshit, February 21-26, 2017

Updates

  1. February 21, 2:29 pm:
    • Donald Trump is unlikely to be convicted of (or probably even charged with) treason.[1] (Trump and Russia)
    • The Department of Homeland Security has issued new guidance on undocumented migrants.[2]
  2. February 22, 01:16 am:
  3. February 22, 11:57 pm:
  4. February 23, 01:09 am:
    • A fresh video of the Larsen C crack.[8]
    • It may now be possible to quantify the risk of crossing climate change thresholds.[9]
    • Another story on the utterly unsurprising White House denial that there was any rift between Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.[10]
    • An interview with a Russian newspaper editor who says the Kremlin believes Trump to be utterly manipulable.[11]
    • The Dakota Access Pipeline protest area is apparently being forcibly evacuated.[12]
  5. February 23, 01:18 am: HTML editing errors corrected (oops).
  6. February 23, 1:38 pm:
    • Betsy DeVos echoes a common conservative complaint that professors ‘indoctrinate’ college students with left-wing views.[13]
  7. February 24, 04:26 am:
  8. February 25, 03:55 am:
    • Apparently, they’ve decided that age discrimination in hiring is real.[15] (Unemployment)
  9. February 26, 12:09 am:
    • An interview with the linguist who advised the makers of the film Arrival.[16] (Sapir-Whorf)
    • Tom Perez defeated Keith Ellison to become the new Democratic National Committee chairperson.[17] (Democratic National Committee)

Muslim ban

Updates were expected. It appears that drafting the new order is taking time.[18]

Vivian Salama, “President’s revised travel ban reportedly targets same 7 nations, adds green-card exemption,” Seattle Times, February 20, 2017, http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/ap-source-revised-travel-ban-targets-same-countries/

Jonathan Turley, “Executive Redux: Administration Set To Issue New Order On Immigration,” February 20, 2017, https://jonathanturley.org/2017/02/20/executive-redux-administration-set-to-issue-new-order-on-immigration/

Jordan Fabian, “White House punts new travel order to next week,” Hill, February 22, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/320735-white-house-punts-new-travel-order-to-next-week


Presidential golf

I can think of more serious presidential hypocrisies than this:

Donald Trump regularly assailed President Obama for playing golf, then spent the first weekends of his own presidency doing just that. He attacked Obama for using Air Force One to campaign, and did it over the weekend just a month into the job. He mocked Obama for heading out of Washington at taxpayer expense, but appears to have no qualms about doing so himself.[19]

How about when Barack Obama embraced and extended George W. Bush’s neoconservative and neoliberal policies after campaigning on “hope” and “change?” And how about when Obama’s supporters fell silent on the very policies they so vehemently opposed once it was “their” president carrying them out?

Josh Dawsey, “Trump forgets his Obama criticisms,” Politico, February 21, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/trump-obama-golf-235217


Trump and Russia

Mark Z. Barabak, “No, Trump critics. It’s highly unlikely he has committed treason,” Los Angeles Times, February 20, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-trump-russia-treason-20170220-story.html

Brad Reed, “Russia’s psychological dossier on Trump reveals they’re already ‘nervous’ he’ll be ousted,” Raw Story, February 20, 2017, http://www.rawstory.com/2017/02/russias-psychological-dossier-on-trump-reveals-theyre-already-nervous-hell-be-ousted/

Sean Illing, “A Russian newspaper editor explains how Putin made Trump his puppet,” Vox, February 22, 2017, http://www.vox.com/conversations/2017/2/22/14697718/donald-trump-putin-russia-kremlin-hillary-clinton


Undocumented Migrants

Joel Rubin, “It’s legal for an immigration agent to pretend to be a police officer outside someone’s door. But should it be?” Los Angeles Times, February 19, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-immigration-deportation-ruses-20170219-story.html

Jonathan Easley, “Poll: Americans overwhelmingly oppose sanctuary cities,” Hill, February 21, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/320487-poll-americans-overwhelmingly-oppose-sanctuary-cities

Tal Kopan, “Trump admin outlines plan to crack down on undocumented immigrants,” CNN, February 21, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/21/politics/dhs-immigration-guidance-detentions/index.html


The New Normal

So once upon a time, drought was forecast to be “the new normal” in California, due to climate change.[20] Now scientists think that climate change may intensify “atmospheric rivers” that have brought heavy rains and flooding to California this winter.[21] This isn’t quite a contradiction: William Burroughs predicted that climate change might lead to more extreme weather.[22] That could mean both more intense droughts and more intense storms. Also, rain isn’t enough: California’s water system counts on snowpack accumulation—warmer conditions suggests that more precipitation will fall as rain and less will fall as snow—which functions as a massive reservoir, helping to fill man-made reservoirs as the snow melts in the summer.

Allan Adamson, “Climate Change Can Supercharge Atmospheric Rivers That Bring Drought-Ending Floods In California,” Tech Times, February 21, 2017, http://www.techtimes.com/articles/198326/20170221/climate-change-can-supercharge-atmospheric-rivers-that-bring-drought-ending-floods-in-california.htm


Betsy DeVos

Trump projects himself as the epitome of U.S. anti-intellectualism. So it’s natural that higher education folks are worried about his secretary for education, Betsy DeVos, who is “best known for supporting vouchers and charter schools, [and] has no background in the sector,”[23] and yet who accuses professors of ‘indoctrinating’ their students (translate ‘indoctrination’ as ‘teaching critical thinking’).[24] But “secretaries of education don’t set the agenda, don’t write the policies, and depend on Congress and good timing to get things done”[25] and, moreover, she’s being sidelined even within the administration.[26] I am concerned about the following passage, taken from the open letter the president of Macalester College has written to her:

Higher education in the United States should be an engine of social mobility: Not only is this just, it is necessary to the health of our economy and our civic life.[27]

Brian Rosenberg here conflates two issues that need to be kept separate and in so doing, reduces higher education to job training. What “is necessary to the health of our economy and our civic life”[28] and in fact an internationally recognized (albeit not in the U.S.) human right[29] is 1) that people have access to economic opportunity necessary to support themselves and 2) that they have the education and skills to participate intelligently in civic life. But the first of these does not and should not follow from the second; it is to suggest that higher education is the only path to economic justice, which isn’t justice at all.

Brian Rosenberg, “My ‘Dear Betsy’ Letter,” Chronicle of Higher Education, February 9, 2017, http://www.chronicle.com/article/My-Dear-Betsy-Letter/239153

Kelly Field, “How Much Power Does Betsy DeVos Really Hold to Shake Up Higher Ed?” Chronicle of Higher Education, February 16, 2017, http://www.chronicle.com/article/How-Much-Power-Does-Betsy/239226

Esme Cribb, “White House: ‘No Daylight’ Between Sessions, DeVos On Transgender Order,” Talking Points Memo, February 22, 2017, http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/sean-spicer-sessions-devos-trump-transgender-guidelines

Caitlin Emma, “Spicer denies Cabinet feud over transgender student protections,” Politico, February 22, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/trump-transgender-students-jeff-sessions-betsy-devos-235265

Fernanda Zamudio-Suaréz, “Betsy DeVos Criticizes Professors in Remarks to Conservative Conference,” Chronicle of Higher Education, February 23, 2017, http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/betsy-devos-criticizes-professors-in-remarks-to-conservative-conference/117049


Kura-Araxes

The Kurgans were not really a people. The term kurgan actually refers to a style of burial, common around the Caspian Sea in the early Neolithic. I was looking into all this as I was just about to settle on my first idea for a dissertation topic.[30] This, involving Yamnaya men,[31] is the latest twist. And no, the article title isn’t sexist: “Early Bronze Age men from the vast grasslands of the Eurasian steppe swept into Europe on horseback about 5000 years ago—and may have left most women behind.”[32]

So it’s been five years since I looked into all this seriously, but the article[33] leaves some unanswered questions: First, why did the men leave their women behind? Second, what happened to those women? Third, what happened to the men who lost out to these ‘horsemen’ in Europe? Third, were the unions between the ‘horsemen’ and women in Europe consensual? Also, I don’t know the relationship between the marauding Kura-Araxes (who seem like they could have been an archetype for Star Trek‘s Klingons) I was just beginning to look at and the Yamnaya people who are a subject of this article.

But when the researchers looked at the DNA later Europeans inherited from the Yamnaya, they found that Bronze Age Europeans had far less Yamnaya DNA on their X than on their other chromosomes. Using a statistical method developed by graduate student Amy Goldberg in the lab of population geneticist Noah Rosenberg at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, the team calculated that there were perhaps 10 men for every woman in the migration of Yamnaya men to Europe (with a range of five to 14 migrating men for every woman). That ratio is “extreme”—even more lopsided than the mostly male wave of Spanish conquistadores who came by ship to the Americas in the late 1500s, Goldberg says.

Bearing all those questions in mind, I still can’t help but think of women’s sometimes (only sometimes) admitted and common preference for jerks and assholes.[34] With a ratio of ten to one, the competition among men for mates would have been extreme—and I have to suspect, bloody—which, all other things being equal (they weren’t), would suggest that women very much had a choice of suitors. “The Yamnaya men could have been more attractive mates than European farmers because they had horses and new technologies, such as copper hammers that gave them an advantage, Goldberg says.”[35] Or, I’m thinking, women did en masse what they so frequently do today: choose the assholes.

Ann Gibbons, “Thousands of horsemen may have swept into Bronze Age Europe, transforming the local population,” Science, February 21, 2017, http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/02/thousands-horsemen-may-have-swept-bronze-age-europe-transforming-local-population


Larsen C

Brian Kahn, “Scientists Got a New Look at the Growing Larsen C Crack,” Climate Central, February 21, 2017, http://www.climatecentral.org/news/scientists-larsen-c-crack-21178


Climate Change

I mentioned the idea of several climate tipping points a few days ago.[36] I am really and truly not just making this stuff up. But supposedly this new work “allows the risk of crossing dangerous temperature thresholds to be quantified.”[37] I’m skeptical about that, but if true, it might eventually allow for accurate forecasting of when we hit these tipping points. Just don’t hold your breath: “The issues with green house gases are extraordinary and complex and the consequences of rising green houses gases will have global impacts,”[38] which is, I suppose, one way of saying that emergent properties remain unpredictable.[39]

Kevin Roark, “Computer model predicts the likelihood of crossing several dangerous climate change thresholds,” Phys.org, February 22, 2017, https://phys.org/news/2017-02-likelihood-dangerous-climate-thresholds.html


Dakota Access Pipeline

Rebecca Hersher, “Protesters Leave Dakota Access Pipeline Area; Some Stay And Are Arrested,” National Public Radio, February 22, 2017, http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/02/22/516448749/protesters-leave-dakota-access-pipeline-area-some-stay-and-are-arrested


What the Doctor Ordered

So, okay, I couldn’t resist. And if sex sells, yada, yada, yada. . . . But there is actually something to analyze here. Consider, for example, this passage:

What is remarkable is that [Per-Erik Muskos, a 42-year-old local council member for Övertorneå in northern Sweden] sees the logical time slot for the health-driven sex as being during the work day. Swedes already enjoy a relatively easy work schedule —an average of 1612 hours per year, according to the OECD, 9% percent less than the OECD average. And it does not appear that they are burning the midnight oil working late: only 1% of Swedes work overtime, according to the OECD Better Life Index.

All of which makes it surprising that if couples need time to reconnect, that time should come from hours in the office, rather than all those hours before and after work (Övertorneå has a population of 2,000: this is hardly a national rallying cry).[40]

I believe this is a brilliant example of U.S.-style neoliberal and Puritan guilt meeting up with a society that still values humanity. In the U.S. traditionally, we’re not supposed to even talk about sex, let alone get an hour off work for it. And with productivity being all-important under neoliberalism, it’s simply outrageous that human beings should get an hour at company expense to take care of a basic need.

After all, that’s why full-time work is only eight hours out of twenty-four, plus weekends. But even those of us who don’t have to work two or three jobs to make ends meet often seem to feel guilty about taking time off.

One thing is clear: Sweden’s many lifestyle benefits don’t seem to be ruining its economy, as many in the US would like to think. The European Union estimates that the Swedish economy will grow at 2.4% this year, down from 3.3% in 2016 but stronger than the EU-wide estimate of 1.6% (and a smidge higher than the IMF’s estimate of US growth of 2.3%, where workers do not enjoy fika, paid parental leave or sex-breaks). Mandated sex-breaks may be just what Sweden needs to regain its mojo.[41]

Jenny Anderson, “A Swedish politician is advocating for the ultimate workplace benefit: paid breaks for sex,” Quartz, February 22, 2017, https://qz.com/916655/a-swedish-politician-argues-employees-need-paid-sex-breaks-for-health-and-wellness/


Unemployment

Marissa Evans, “The Stubborn Problem of Ageism in Hiring,” CityLab, February 24, 2017, https://www.citylab.com/work/2017/02/ageism-in-hiring-is-rife-and-not-easy-to-fix/517323/


Sapir-Whorf

Linguists seem not to like the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis much,[42] at least not right now. But an earlier article on this same movie notes that “some linguists have turned again to ideas of linguistic relativity. . . . Yet some still say that Arrival goes too far: ‘they took the hypothesis way beyond anything that is plausible,’ linguist and cognitive scientist Betty Birner said of the film in an interview with Slate.”[43]

We covered the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis when I was an undergraduate in a communication program at CSU East Bay and from what I’ve seen since, it seems to come in and out of fashion. My own impression is that it is an idea that seems to have some intuitive appeal and therefore, despite the absence of empirical support,[44] never actually goes away. Allegedly, it “was ridiculed and dismissed by followers of the linguist Noam Chomsky, who argued that all languages share certain grammatical characteristics.”[45] But from what I understand, Chomsky’s notion of natural grammar is also on the outs right now, I think losing out to George Lakoff’s work on metaphors (the rivalry between Lakoff and Chomsky was apparently intense). What was true when I first learned about Sapir-Whorf, that “[t]here’s no scientific evidence that that is right in any significant way,” is apparently still true today.[46]

I noted in 2011 that “the ongoing controversy over the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis involves a linear cause and effect relationship, with all the fallacies that this entails, between language systems and cultural concepts (Graddol & Swan, 1989, pp. 147-149).”[47] This was for a class in my Ph.D. program, a program which neglected complexity theory, so I stopped short of writing what I actually think here. Yes, I still think that Sapir-Whorf relies on linear cause and effect. Yes, I still think that’s a huge problem.

What makes more sense to me is that our understanding of the world around—which Benjamin Lee Whorf hypothesized was constrained or limited by our language—may arise jointly with the language we use to describe it in a relationship of mutual causality.[48]

Richard Connor, “‘Arrival’ linguist: ‘I had never thought about communicating with aliens before,'” Deutschewelle, February 25, 2017, http://www.dw.com/en/arrival-linguist-i-had-never-thought-about-communicating-with-aliens-before/a-37711115


Democratic National Committee

“[Tom] Perez’s allies bristle at the notion that he is not a true progressive, citing his work as a civil rights attorney and as Labor secretary.”[49] Hillary Clinton, for whom Perez was a proxy in the battle against Keith Ellison, a proxy for Bernie Sanders, also bristled at the notion that she was not a “true progressive.” So what I think seems to be happening here is that mainstream Democrats are desperately trying to redefine progressivism to embrace neoconservatism and that which neoconservatives consider a moral imperative: neoliberalism. That way, they can continue with the very “same-old, same-old” that Sanders warned against.[50] Which is to say, they are wed to the losing idea of trying and abjectly failing to defeat the Republicans at their own game, trying to win back the South, trying to gain the support of Wall Street and the business community at the expense of working people and the poor, trying to prove they are strong on national security, and generally moving ever further to the right.

Jonathan Easley, “Perez wins bid to lead Democratic Party,” Hill, February 25, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/321099-perez-wins-bid-to-lead-democratic-party


  1. [1]Mark Z. Barabak, “No, Trump critics. It’s highly unlikely he has committed treason,” Los Angeles Times, February 20, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-trump-russia-treason-20170220-story.html
  2. [2]Tal Kopan, “Trump admin outlines plan to crack down on undocumented immigrants,” CNN, February 21, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/21/politics/dhs-immigration-guidance-detentions/index.html
  3. [3]Jonathan Easley, “Poll: Americans overwhelmingly oppose sanctuary cities,” Hill, February 21, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/320487-poll-americans-overwhelmingly-oppose-sanctuary-cities
  4. [4]Allan Adamson, “Climate Change Can Supercharge Atmospheric Rivers That Bring Drought-Ending Floods In California,” Tech Times, February 21, 2017, http://www.techtimes.com/articles/198326/20170221/climate-change-can-supercharge-atmospheric-rivers-that-bring-drought-ending-floods-in-california.htm
  5. [5]Joel Rubin, “It’s legal for an immigration agent to pretend to be a police officer outside someone’s door. But should it be?” Los Angeles Times, February 19, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-immigration-deportation-ruses-20170219-story.html
  6. [6]Caitlin Emma, “Spicer denies Cabinet feud over transgender student protections,” Politico, February 22, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/trump-transgender-students-jeff-sessions-betsy-devos-235265; Kelly Field, “How Much Power Does Betsy DeVos Really Hold to Shake Up Higher Ed?” Chronicle of Higher Education, February 16, 2017, http://www.chronicle.com/article/How-Much-Power-Does-Betsy/239226; Brian Rosenberg, “My ‘Dear Betsy’ Letter,” Chronicle of Higher Education, February 9, 2017, http://www.chronicle.com/article/My-Dear-Betsy-Letter/239153
  7. [7]Jordan Fabian, “White House punts new travel order to next week,” Hill, February 22, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/320735-white-house-punts-new-travel-order-to-next-week
  8. [8]Brian Kahn, “Scientists Got a New Look at the Growing Larsen C Crack,” Climate Central, February 21, 2017, http://www.climatecentral.org/news/scientists-larsen-c-crack-21178
  9. [9]Kevin Roark, “Computer model predicts the likelihood of crossing several dangerous climate change thresholds,” Phys.org, February 22, 2017, https://phys.org/news/2017-02-likelihood-dangerous-climate-thresholds.html
  10. [10]Esme Cribb, “White House: ‘No Daylight’ Between Sessions, DeVos On Transgender Order,” Talking Points Memo, February 22, 2017, http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/sean-spicer-sessions-devos-trump-transgender-guidelines
  11. [11]Sean Illing, “A Russian newspaper editor explains how Putin made Trump his puppet,” Vox, February 22, 2017, http://www.vox.com/conversations/2017/2/22/14697718/donald-trump-putin-russia-kremlin-hillary-clinton
  12. [12]Rebecca Hersher, “Protesters Leave Dakota Access Pipeline Area; Some Stay And Are Arrested,” National Public Radio, February 22, 2017, http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/02/22/516448749/protesters-leave-dakota-access-pipeline-area-some-stay-and-are-arrested
  13. [13]Fernanda Zamudio-Suaréz, “Betsy DeVos Criticizes Professors in Remarks to Conservative Conference,” Chronicle of Higher Education, February 23, 2017, http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/betsy-devos-criticizes-professors-in-remarks-to-conservative-conference/117049
  14. [14]Jenny Anderson, “A Swedish politician is advocating for the ultimate workplace benefit: paid breaks for sex,” Quartz, February 22, 2017, https://qz.com/916655/a-swedish-politician-argues-employees-need-paid-sex-breaks-for-health-and-wellness/
  15. [15]Marissa Evans, “The Stubborn Problem of Ageism in Hiring,” CityLab, February 24, 2017, https://www.citylab.com/work/2017/02/ageism-in-hiring-is-rife-and-not-easy-to-fix/517323/
  16. [16]Richard Connor, “‘Arrival’ linguist: ‘I had never thought about communicating with aliens before,'” Deutschewelle, February 25, 2017, http://www.dw.com/en/arrival-linguist-i-had-never-thought-about-communicating-with-aliens-before/a-37711115
  17. [17]Jonathan Easley, “Perez wins bid to lead Democratic Party,” Hill, February 25, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/321099-perez-wins-bid-to-lead-democratic-party
  18. [18]Jordan Fabian, “White House punts new travel order to next week,” Hill, February 22, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/320735-white-house-punts-new-travel-order-to-next-week
  19. [19]Josh Dawsey, “Trump forgets his Obama criticisms,” Politico, February 21, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/trump-obama-golf-235217
  20. [20]Maria Gallucci, “U.S. Southwest faces 99% risk of ‘megadroughts’ due to climate change,” Mashable, October 5, 2016, http://mashable.com/2016/10/05/megadrought-risk-study/; Eric Holthaus, “Why Californians Will Soon Be Drinking Their Own Pee,” CityLab, June 18, 2014, http://www.citylab.com/weather/2014/06/why-californians-will-soon-be-drinking-their-own-pee/373014/; Joe Nelson, “Gloomy prediction on drought at Cal State San Bernardino water conference,” San Bernardino County Sun, August 22, 2014, http://www.sbsun.com/government-and-politics/20140822/gloomy-prediction-on-drought-at-cal-state-san-bernardino-water-conference; Southern California Public Radio, “California drought and the polar vortex: ‘New normal’ by 2030?” January 21, 2014, http://www.scpr.org/programs/take-two/2014/01/21/35622/linking-california-s-80-degree-temps-with-the-pola/;
  21. [21]Allan Adamson, “Climate Change Can Supercharge Atmospheric Rivers That Bring Drought-Ending Floods In California,” Tech Times, February 21, 2017, http://www.techtimes.com/articles/198326/20170221/climate-change-can-supercharge-atmospheric-rivers-that-bring-drought-ending-floods-in-california.htm
  22. [22]William J. Burroughs, Climate Change in Prehistory: The End of the Reign of Chaos (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University, 2008).
  23. [23]Kelly Field, “How Much Power Does Betsy DeVos Really Hold to Shake Up Higher Ed?” Chronicle of Higher Education, February 16, 2017, http://www.chronicle.com/article/How-Much-Power-Does-Betsy/239226
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