Judge Dennis Montali said Wednesday the principle of inverse condemnation applies to PG&E, rejecting an argument that the utility was attempting to invoke to limit the amount it owes for homes and businesses destroyed by the fires. . . . Under the doctrine of inverse condemnation, PG&E can be held liable for property damage from fires caused by its equipment, even if it wasn’t negligent. . . .
Lawyers for fire victims said the utility was wasting its time attacking inverse condemnation, a legal principle that is rooted in the California constitution. Given the evidence of alleged negligence they have amassed, victims’s lawyers said, inverse condemnation is beside the point when it comes to PG&E.
Having landed hard on my ass in the high tech industry three times now, I wouldn’t be anxious to return even if I felt I could: It is clear to me I would be setting myself up for yet another catastrophe. But when I was being laid off from my last real job, the job I had hoped would lead to a career in systems administration, my supervisors noted I would face age discrimination—I was 41, about to turn 42—as I sought another job. They promised support for my job hunt which never materialized.
Fig. 1. Screenshot of chart in the Wall Street Journal, based on CompTIA data, November 25, 2019, fair use.
The Wall Street Journal sees ageism setting in with high tech at age 45, although a chart within (figure 1) seems to show the information technology industry employing workers at ages 25-54 at above national averages. I was laid off in the dot-com crash, at a time companies were offshoring jobs as fast as they could, and this was one factor in my decision not to pursue a degree in technology when I returned to school.
I’ve previously noted that Whole Foods Market’s selection, especially for vegans, is much more limited here in Pittsburgh than I saw on the west coast. So when I went down on Wednesday to see what I could find, I was really just hoping to find something. I found this (figure 2), with a name too long for me to remember.
In neoliberalism, it is imperative that labor costs be reduced at any cost, in the name of “efficiency,” and that means hiring even idiots overseas when they can be paid a third of what competent workers would cost in the U.S.↩
Computer science is a mathematics degree and accordingly requires advanced mathematics. I hit a brick wall with trigonometry, a level well below what is needed. I have also observed that many in the information technology field hold academic degrees in utter disdain, seeing them as “elitist,” and yes, this is awfully rich, considering that, with their high-flying lifestyles, very well-paid IT workers are responsible for a significant part of California’s transportation and housing crises.↩
So I’ve been in Pittsburgh over six months now and I’m doing a bit of reflection.
It is often pretty here, even now that a somewhat disappointing fall foliage season (I did see some of the amazing sort that reassures me that no, painters weren’t just making that shit up) has given way to the pastel hues of brown and, still, some green. That spectacular fall foliage is indeed spectacular, but there is a peace that accompanies the present hues that I appreciate.
I am not missing California, even as there are the occasional place name reminders—street names and the like—that evoke places in California that I know, sometimes with irritating discrepancies in spelling. For the most part, the places I loved in California are so much a part of me that I need only think of them to be there.
The racism here is horrifyingly apparent. I don’t know what to do about it beyond acknowledging that it is so apparent and condemning it utterly.
The conservatism is also apparent. Confederate battle flags can be seen in front yards. People fly “Trump 2020” flags along with their U.S. flags as if to affirm Donald Trump’s identification of the United States with himself.
Fig. 1. Map of gratuitously displayed artillery that by its very locations, mostly seems to metaphorically target Blacks. Pictures here.
And even where Confederate battle flags, Gadsden (“Don’t Tread On Me”) flags, or Trump 2020 flags are absent, there is a hyper-patriotism that evokes a wonder at what folks here might be over-compensating for. U.S. flags are flown much more commonly here than in California and monuments to veterans and war dead are everywhere. Some of those banners commemorating (almost exclusively white) war dead that I thought were coming down are still up, seemingly permanently, in all their manifestly racist splendor. Government institutions, including those that should know better, routinely fly the black POW-MIA flags that evoke a conspiracy theory about missing Vietnam soldiers who do not and never did, in fact, exist. This is by no means the patriotism of people who are confident in the country they stand for, but rather a loud, conformist affirmation that denies troubling questions, both historic and present.
But mostly, it has been good to reconnect with a place I had thought I might never see again, to explore it, and to really begin to learn my way around it.
How long that lasts is an open question. I do very much sense that I am on the frontier with what Colin Woodard calls “Greater Appalachia,” which I associate with authoritarian populism, and that is not a comfortable place for me to be. I also sense that it might be possible to soften that by moving a bit north. Even around North Park, streets start to widen, traffic seems a bit less maddening, and the gun nuttery seems less omnipresent.
Pete Buttigieg is an ass. Anyone who knows anything about the history of U.S.-Mexico relations knows that the last thing the U.S. can do is send its troops into Mexico. No Mexican government could agree to it; to do so would provoke a fury that would, at a bare minimum, bring that government down.
That, nonetheless, is what Buttigieg suggested.
Mexicans have many grievances against the U.S. and little reason to trust U.S. troops on their soil. There’s the the U.S. invasion of 1846-1847, the subsequent Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) which ceded about half of Mexico’s territory to the U.S., and a rather lop-sided balance of everything that has happened since. “Poor Mexico,” said Porfirio Díaz, who served seven terms as president of the country, “so far from God and so close to the United States!” And I will never forget a remark I overheard while bringing some folks down from a concert at the Mountain Winery overlooking Saratoga, California: “It’s our land anyway!”
What we see now in Hong Kong is an extreme example of a phenomenon in which the rulers’ pretense of ruling by consent is exposed as a hollow facade. The imperative here is to rule, to control.
If it were otherwise, territories could be allowed to secede. But from Scotland, to Catalonia, to Hong Kong, it is never that way. Rulers will never permit it and will, if necessary, respond with force to prevent it.
The bottom line here is that this is simply not, cannot be, and never will be a sustainable business model. The question, which remains even with today’s sell-off, is to what extent investors will continue to believe the contrary.
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.
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, 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. In California, fire fighting relies upon inmate labor, making it part of the prison-industrial complex. Again, it will be Blacks who bear the brunt of inadequately compensated risks in this activity. And again, this is systemic racism.
It’s one thing to note that economists are bad at predicting recessions and are even bad at recognizing them once they’ve started. 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:
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.
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.
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↩
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 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. The collection itself appears fairly voluminous. (Fair use.)
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. No, not even one little bit. She sent me another article in response, saying this 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.
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.”
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. 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.
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).
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.”
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.
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↩
Harbin Hot Springs has re-opened. Some, anyway. And as long as we’re badly misappropriating tired clichés for headlines, let’s try “Rick and Ilsa might always have Paris. California has Harbin.” No?
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.
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.PressTV is subject to Iranian government control.
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.
I worried about the PressTV story about the Army saying Iran was the only winner of the Iraq war. 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.
January 22, 12:29 am:
Theresa May’s Brexit Plan B looks a lot like her Plan A. And underwhelms accordingly. Meanwhile, the Telegraph has a report on ways forward, including that Jeremy Corbyn has backed down from his opposition to a second referendum.
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? Are you fucking kidding me?
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.
January 24, 5:17 pm:
An appeals court has ruled that legislation that protects against Ageism bias does not cover job applicants.
Take this with more than a grain of salt, but allegedly, Republican senators’ patience is wearing thin with the shutdown. Meanwhile, Donald Trump is apparently returning to his idea to declare a national emergency on the border. (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. (Sonoma County Wildfires)
January 25, 3:40 pm:
Donald Trump historically blinks and gets revenge—sometimes even petty revenge—later.
And Donald Trump blinked and appears to be staggering. 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.
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, but he now has zero leverage for his fucking wall.
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.
I see a couple ways to interpret this. I embrace neither of them:
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.” 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.
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.
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↩
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.” It didn’t. And it repeated many of his usual false claims. Which is to say, it wasn’t newsworthy and the networks shouldn’t have carried it. (Unauthorized migration)
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. (Unauthorized migration)
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 and Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (the Protestants) reject her assurances over the “backstop,” 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.
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. (Unauthorized migration)
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. (Unauthorized migration)
A lot of folks are wondering how the shutdown ends but Molly Ball usefully summarizes the question well. (Unauthorized migration)
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 and so, I would expect, was able to get off to a running start.
January 12, 3:12 am:
Had I not resigned from the U.S. Census Bureau due to methodological and ethical concerns, 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, 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)
January 12, 2019, 2:16 pm:
Jonathan Chait reacts to news that the FBI investigated Donald Trump as a possible Russian ‘asset’ and that, of course, Robert Mueller inherited that investigation and so has all that they found.
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. (Golden Showers)
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.
Wait, this is news? Donald Trump is not even one little bit happy about reports he may have been a Russian ‘asset.’ 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)
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. (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.
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. This is somewhat more helpful than the Bloomberg report I posted here earlier.
Increasingly impatient with a political failure to act, bankruptcy judges are increasingly working to provide relief to student loan borrowers. 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.” 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. That Democratic Party politicians aren’t interested tells you they’re interested in something other than representing their constituents or advancing even marginally less conservative policy. Which was my point.
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. (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. (Unauthorized migration)
Massachussetts is starting a program to help older workers get hired. (Ageism)
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 and not “[James] Comey and Crooked Hillary [Clinton] and all of the others.” (James Comey)
So Paul Manafort is going to jail 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.” Could it be that somebody’s getting much too close for comfort? (James Comey)
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 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 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. 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.
I remain deeply skeptical of polling methodology in the current environment due to its low response rates, 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. 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, 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.
Add a lawsuit filed by the New York state attorney general to the list of thorny legal messes that Donald Trump now faces.
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. 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, which would 1) undermine the point of the detention, 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)
June 17, 3:44 am:
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s publisher defended firing a cartoonist, saying the latter had become “too angry.” (Donald Trump)
A story in Politico suggests that Donald Trump’s capture of the Republican Party is complete.
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. (CNN’s story discussed those conditions as well.) It’s still not clear, though it seems awfully probable, that Manafort had to give up his cell phone. (James Comey)
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. (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. (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. (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.
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. (Unauthorized migration)
Philip Zimbardo has some explaining to do. 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. Yes, this is a book I cited in my dissertation.