Cynicism rules my day

Equal Rights Amendment

There is a new blog post entitled, “Equal Rights for women in the U.S. Maybe. Someday.

Gregory S. Schneider, Laura Vozzella, and Patricia Sullivan, “‘A long time to wait’: Virginia passes Equal Rights Amendment in historic vote,” Washington Post, January 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/2020/01/15/0475d51a-36f1-11ea-9541-9107303481a4_story.html


Pennsylvania

There is a new blog post entitled, “To a Pennsylvania House Minority Leader: When cops profile you, they don’t actually need an offense.”

Associated Press, “Pennsylvania House votes to stop drivers’ use of hand-held phones,” Tribune-Review, January 15, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/pennsylvania-house-votes-to-stop-drivers-use-of-hand-held-phones/

Stephen Caruso, “After years of trying, Pa. House finally passes handheld cell phone ban,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, January 15, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/criminal-justice/under-house-proposal-youll-pay-for-distracted-driving-but-cant-be-pulled-over-for-it/


Nonhuman animals

“At a tabloid (newspaper), it would be an anthropomorphic question” about whether the female had somehow given up the will to live or worse, Zeigler allowed. But nothing in the animal’s behavior gave any indication of despondency or other emotions humans might wish to project onto it; “the only behavior change we saw is she would spend more time with animal care staff,” he said, a behavior considered normal in such a case.[1]

But they don’t have an explanation,[2] now, do they?

Steve Johnson, “Female lion at Brookfield Zoo dies from mysterious fall into moat not long after death of longtime mate,” Chicago Tribune, January 15, 2020, https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/museums/ct-ent-brookfield-zoo-female-lion-dead-moat-fall-0115-20200114-vimigutim5h6fnc6f7xjytkspm-story.html


The neoliberal party

FireShot Capture 053 - The Political Compass - www.politicalcompass.org
Fig. 1. Screenshot of the Political Compass on 2020 presidential candidates, taken on January 16, 2020. Especially notice where Elizabeth Warren is positioned. For reference, when I’ve taken this test, I’ve placed much farther to the left-libertarian extreme (figure 2) than any of these assholes.

Political_compass_August_13,_2012
Fig. 2. My political compass score as of August 13, 2012.

You all should know by now that I am cynical as fuck about the Democrats, whom I refer to as the neoliberal party. Now here’s a dose of cynicism on Elizabeth Warren, which, for me, makes her spat with Bernie Sanders[3] all make sense. In fact, given the shenanigans of 2016,[4] I’m now waiting to hear that the so-called “centrists” of the party put her up to it.

Nathan J. Robinson, “Thinking About The Democratic Primary,” Current Affairs, January 15, 2020, https://www.currentaffairs.org/2020/01/thinking-about-the-democratic-primary


  1. [1]Steve Johnson, “Female lion at Brookfield Zoo dies from mysterious fall into moat not long after death of longtime mate,” Chicago Tribune, January 15, 2020, https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/museums/ct-ent-brookfield-zoo-female-lion-dead-moat-fall-0115-20200114-vimigutim5h6fnc6f7xjytkspm-story.html
  2. [2]Steve Johnson, “Female lion at Brookfield Zoo dies from mysterious fall into moat not long after death of longtime mate,” Chicago Tribune, January 15, 2020, https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/museums/ct-ent-brookfield-zoo-female-lion-dead-moat-fall-0115-20200114-vimigutim5h6fnc6f7xjytkspm-story.html
  3. [3]Nathan J. Robinson, “Thinking About The Democratic Primary,” Current Affairs, January 15, 2020, https://www.currentaffairs.org/2020/01/thinking-about-the-democratic-primary
  4. [4]Donna Brazile, “Inside Hillary Clinton’s Secret Takeover of the DNC,” Politico, November 2, 2017, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/11/02/clinton-brazile-hacks-2016-215774

Vermin in uniform

Police

There is a new blog post entitled, “The binary between “Black” and “Blue” Lives.”

Andrew Sheeler, “Black drivers in California stopped and searched more than others, state study shows,” Sacramento Bee, January 2, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/article238915598.html


Iraq and Iran

For historical reference:

Reuters, “Iraq war, the notable quotes,” March 11, 2008, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iraq-war-quotes/factbox-iraq-war-the-notable-quotes-idUSL212762520080311

That[1] didn’t go well. But war is the answer. War is always the fucking answer.

Oh, and just sayin’, ’cause I’ve said it before, Iran won’t go any better.[2]

Carlos Latuff, in the above, raises an interesting point. For all the apparent hostility between Barack Obama and Binyamin Netanyahu,[3] Obama gave the Israeli government nearly everything it wanted except for two things:

  1. Complete acquiescence to Israeli hegemony in the West Bank.[4]
  2. War with Iran.

Julian Borger and Martin Chulov, “Iran general Qassem Suleimani killed in Baghdad drone strike ordered by Trump,” Guardian, January 3, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/03/baghdad-airport-iraq-attack-deaths-iran-us-tensions

Zachary Evans, “State Department Warns Americans to Leave Iraq ‘Immediately’ in Wake of Soleimani Killing,” National Review, January 3, 2020, https://www.nationalreview.com/news/state-department-warns-americans-to-leave-iraq-immediately-in-wake-of-soleimani-killing/


Veganism

Telegraph, “Veganism is a philosophical belief and is therefore protected by law, judge rules,” January 3, 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/01/03/veganism-philosophical-belief-therefore-protected-law-judge/


  1. [1]Reuters, “Iraq war, the notable quotes,” March 11, 2008, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iraq-war-quotes/factbox-iraq-war-the-notable-quotes-idUSL212762520080311
  2. [2]David Benfell, “Forever war and inhumanity, delusional raging narcissist-in-chief style,” Irregular Bullshit, June 27, 2019, https://disunitedstates.com/2019/06/27/forever-war-and-inhumanity-delusional-raging-narcissist-in-chief-style/
  3. [3]Raphael Ahren, “Spurning lawmakers, Netanyahu loses the Democrats he never thought he had,” Times of Israel, August 16, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-never-thought-he-had-the-support-of-democrats-now-he-might-not/; Khaled Elgindy, “Obama’s Record on Israeli-Palestinian Peace: The President’s Disquieting Silence,” Foreign Affairs, October 5, 2016, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/israel/2016-10-05/obamas-record-israeli-palestinian-peace
  4. [4]Adam Entous, “The Maps of Israeli Settlements That Shocked Barack Obama,” New Yorker, July 9, 2018, https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-map-of-israeli-settlements-that-shocked-barack-obama

Okay, I believe it now. The dastardly Russians did it.

Migration

John Burnett, “Acquiring Private Land Is Slowing Trump’s Border Wall,” National Public Radio, December 20, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/12/20/789725311/acquiring-private-land-is-slowing-trumps-border-wall


Impeachment

There is a new blog post entitled, “The asterisk.”

On another note, Vladimir Putin is doing his best to convince me that he did in fact interfere in the 2016 election and Donald Trump is doing his best to convince me that he thinks that’s just great.[1]

So you know what? In the past, I’ve been skeptical, and in general, I am skeptical of classified evidence, but they’re giving me every reason to believe it’s all true. When guilty folks tell me they’re guilty and I have no reason to suspect a coerced confession, what else am I supposed to think?

Ron Elving, “Trump Is Impeached, But There’s No Endgame In Sight,” National Public Radio, December 21, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/12/21/790313280/trump-is-impeached-but-theres-no-endgame-in-sight

Colby Itkowitz and Isabelle Khurshudyan, “Trump touts Putin speaking out against his impeachment,” Washington Post, December 21, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-touts-putin-speaking-out-against-his-impeachment/2019/12/21/7f23baf2-2404-11ea-a153-dce4b94e4249_story.html


Pittsburgh

Assuming Keaira Booker’s claims[2] are correct—and I have every reason to suspect that they are—there is absolutely no excuse for this cop’s conduct. The right to film is well-established; the dropped disorderly conduct charge against her[3] appears to be a pretext.

Jamie Martines, “Woman claims North Braddock officer arrested her for filming traffic stop,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 20, 2019, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/woman-claims-north-braddock-officer-arrested-her-for-filming-traffic-stop/


  1. [1]Colby Itkowitz and Isabelle Khurshudyan, “Trump touts Putin speaking out against his impeachment,” Washington Post, December 21, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-touts-putin-speaking-out-against-his-impeachment/2019/12/21/7f23baf2-2404-11ea-a153-dce4b94e4249_story.html
  2. [2]Jamie Martines, “Woman claims North Braddock officer arrested her for filming traffic stop,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 20, 2019, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/woman-claims-north-braddock-officer-arrested-her-for-filming-traffic-stop/
  3. [3]Jamie Martines, “Woman claims North Braddock officer arrested her for filming traffic stop,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 20, 2019, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/woman-claims-north-braddock-officer-arrested-her-for-filming-traffic-stop/

Driving while white

Pennsylvania

So yesterday, a white woman busted an illegal U-turn right in front of the cop who was in front of me.

I couldn’t see the front side of the cop’s light bar, but I assume he turned it on, as oncoming traffic stopped. He also, somehow, got the woman’s attention.

My Black passenger wondered what was going on. I explained that the cop was chewing out the woman for an illegal U-turn.

As a practical matter, it would have been extremely difficult in that situation for the cop to have written her a ticket. There was too much traffic already part-way into the intersection and even she had had trouble completing the turn, having had to back up (gee, I wonder why U-turns are illegal there) in order to complete it (the cop was, of course, in a larger vehicle), and there was no place to safely pull over.

My passenger expressed incredulity that she’d done that U-turn right in front of a cop. But, in effect, and as I explained to my passenger, the woman was getting away with it. And I could only say, there’s hardly any enforcement around here as long as you’re white.

“That’s true,” replied my passenger. Of course I think race plays a factor in traffic stops. I’ve seen far, far too much that’s completely over the top around here to believe otherwise.[1] And for cops to deny that they’re racist, as they do in this story,[2] only confirms for me, yet again, that they are.

Ivey DeJesus, “Does a driver’s race factor into traffic stops by Pa. police? It’s nearly impossible to tell,” PennLive, December 9, 2019, https://www.pennlive.com/news/2019/12/tracking-race-in-police-traffic-stops-across-central-pa.html


Vietnam Afghanistan

The war in Afghanistan is what happens when you can’t admit the war was a catastrophically bad idea to start with.

Some of us knew that it was, even if for imprecise reasons. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, I remember hearing a news clip on the radio in which George W. Bush said something that made me think the missiles were already on the way.

There I was driving across the Presidio Heights neighborhood in San Francisco (with the windows rolled up) screaming, “No! No! No!” Again and again, I screamed it. “No! No! No!”

It turned out that missiles had not yet been launched, but I was nonetheless convinced that attacking a Muslim country could only make our relations with Muslims worse—and to the extent that Islam was in any way connected to the 9/11 attacks, we were only setting ourselves up for more.

That hasn’t precisely happened either, here in the U.S. and at least not yet, anyway. Although our relationship with Pakistan is severely strained, there’s been no repeat of the 9/11 attacks.

But while I had not yet returned to school (that would happen in 2003), I had learned enough of the history of Afghanistan to realize this was a doomed idea.

You didn’t even have to go back very far in history to examples of the British humiliation there. The Soviet Union’s defeat there is often blamed, at least in part, for its collapse.

But here we were, with fucking Bush the younger and a bunch of neoconservatives filled with hubris, idiots every damned one of them.

Not that Bush’s successors have been any better. One story that emerges again and again in the Washington Post‘s history of the war[3] will be familiar to scholars of colonization anywhere: That of a colonial power swooping in, certain of its rectitude, certain of the superiority of its own ways, heedless of what “backward,” “corrupt,” “stupid,” (pick any of a number of disparaging labels) local people would tell them. The power doesn’t need to know about local conditions and local reality because it has technology and experience, because it “knows better.”[4]

Another will be familiar to those who remember the war in Vietnam: We must pretend to succeed even when we are failing.[5]

Craig Whitlock, “At war with the truth,” Washington Post, December 9, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/afghanistan-papers/afghanistan-war-confidential-documents/

Craig Whitlock, “Stranded without a strategy,” Washington Post, December 9, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/afghanistan-papers/afghanistan-war-strategy/

Craig Whitlock, “Built to fail,” Washington Post, December 9, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/afghanistan-papers/afghanistan-war-nation-building/

Craig Whitlock, “Consumed by corruption,” Washington Post, December 9, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/afghanistan-papers/afghanistan-war-corruption-government/

Craig Whitlock, “Unguarded nation,” Washington Post, December 9, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/afghanistan-papers/afghanistan-war-army-police/

Craig Whitlock, “Overwhelmed by opium,” Washington Post, December 9, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/afghanistan-papers/afghanistan-war-opium-poppy-production/


Grants

It’s yet another obstacle to being hired where I should be hired. If I had a publication track record, I might have a better chance of being hired at a university. But to do that research I would need funding.

And it turns out that to be funded, I would likely need to be affiliated with (employed at) an elite university like Stanford or an Ivy League.[6]

Nothing is honest anymore.

Jeffrey Herlihy-Mera, “How Elitism Marginalizes Academics,” Chronicle of Higher Education, December 5, 2019, https://www.chronicle.com/interactives/20191204-Herlihy-Mera


  1. [1]David Benfell, “Hey cops! Do you know what year it is?” Not Housebroken, August 27, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/27/hey-cops-do-you-know-what-year-it-is/; David Benfell, “The banners and the guns: Flagrant racism in Pittsburgh,” Not Housebroken, October 12, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/09/20/the-banners-and-the-guns-flagrant-racism-in-pittsburgh/; David Benfell, “Militia territory,” Not Housebroken, November 22, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/11/22/militia-territory/
  2. [2]Ivey DeJesus, “Does a driver’s race factor into traffic stops by Pa. police? It’s nearly impossible to tell,” PennLive, December 9, 2019, https://www.pennlive.com/news/2019/12/tracking-race-in-police-traffic-stops-across-central-pa.html
  3. [3]Craig Whitlock, “At war with the truth,” Washington Post, December 9, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/afghanistan-papers/afghanistan-war-confidential-documents/; Craig Whitlock, “Stranded without a strategy,” Washington Post, December 9, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/afghanistan-papers/afghanistan-war-strategy/; Craig Whitlock, “Built to fail,” Washington Post, December 9, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/afghanistan-papers/afghanistan-war-nation-building/; Craig Whitlock, “Consumed by corruption,” Washington Post, December 9, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/afghanistan-papers/afghanistan-war-corruption-government/; Craig Whitlock, “Unguarded nation,” Washington Post, December 9, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/afghanistan-papers/afghanistan-war-army-police/; Craig Whitlock, “Overwhelmed by opium,” Washington Post, December 9, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/afghanistan-papers/afghanistan-war-opium-poppy-production/
  4. [4]Edward W. Said’s account mostly relates to India in Culture and Imperialism (New York: Vintage, 1993), where the struggle against colonization lasted hundreds of years.
  5. [5]David Halberstam, The Powers That Be (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois, 2000).
  6. [6]Jeffrey Herlihy-Mera, “How Elitism Marginalizes Academics,” Chronicle of Higher Education, December 5, 2019, https://www.chronicle.com/interactives/20191204-Herlihy-Mera