Forecast: A blizzard of bullshit, no clearing expected

The last few days: Bullshit, mostly.

It was supposed to snow here, and didn’t. It did get cold, but the streets had dried from the rain that was supposed to turn to snow, so there wasn’t even very much ice.
FireShot Capture 039 - Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson for November 10, 2019 - GoComics_ - www.gocomics.com
Fig. 1. Screenshot of comic by Bill Watterson from 1989. Actually, I’d be just fine without the snow, and especially the ice.

I’m beginning to get the picture that folks have been telling me about for months. I’d still desperately rather be doing something besides driving for Uber and Lyft in a Pittsburgh winter or anywhere in any season.[1]


Pete Buttigieg

Which, come to think of it, isn’t much of an improvement on calling Donald Trump’s supporters “deplorables.”[2]

The neoliberal party does not engage on issues because its issue is neoliberalism and even it knows that that’s a loser. It claims a progressive mantle by running on identity. And some idiots still fall for it.


Uber

Kia Kokalitcheva, “Uber says it’s likely to pay Waymo or revamp its self-driving tech,” Axios, November 7, 2019, https://www.axios.com/uber-says-its-likely-to-pay-waymo-or-revamp-its-self-driving-tech-ffa6e420-4273-4cf1-8161-fc40e25b61da.html


Trade

Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Anis Chowdhury, “Trade Liberalization for Development?” InterPress Service, November 5, 2019, http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/11/trade-liberalization-development/


California

fireseasons
Fig. 2. California climate change since 1895.[3]

Santa Rosa Press Democrat, “How California’s weather has changed during fire season since 1895,” n.d., https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10274200-181/how-californias-weather-has-changed


  1. [1]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  2. [2]Jonathan Capehart, “This is what’s ‘deplorable’ about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and this campaign,” Washington Post, September 12, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2016/09/12/this-is-whats-deplorable-about-hillary-clinton-donald-trump-and-this-campaign/
  3. [3]Santa Rosa Press Democrat, “How California’s weather has changed during fire season since 1895,” n.d., https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10274200-181/how-californias-weather-has-changed

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

No deal

Housekeeping

Just a hint to a U.S. Postal Service carrier and a United Parcel Service carrier out there: You have real jobs, you should be grateful for those jobs, and you should do those jobs.

I am not amused by your excuses.[1]

For everyone else, there is a new Pittsburgh mailing address that should be used for the foreseeable future unless I tell you otherwise; see my contact information page for details.


Brexit

Danielle Sheridan, Tony Diver, and Amy Jones, “Brexit latest news: Deal ‘essentially impossible’ after call between Boris Johnson and Angela Merkel, Number 10 says,” Telegraph, October 8, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/10/08/brexit-latest-news-boris-johnson-no-deal-parliament-prorogation/


Misogyny

Antonia Noori Farzan, “A teenager said there was a rapist at her school. She was suspended for bullying,” Washington Post, October 8, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/10/08/maine-teenager-suspended-rape-warning-high-school/


Kurdistan

Dion Nissenbaum and Gordon Lubold, “Trump’s Call to Leave Syria Draws Fire From GOP Allies,” Wall Street Journalhttps://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-begins-pullback-from-northern-syria-clearing-way-for-turkish-offensive-11570439862


 

  1. [1]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/

Men. Idiot fucking men. (Not all men, but men.)

Dorian

There is a new blog post entitled, “The captain is always right.”

Associated Press, “NOAA assailed for defending Trump’s Hurricane Dorian claim,” Los Angeles Times, September 7, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2019-09-07/noaa-assailed-defending-trump-hurricane-dorian-claim

Andrew Freedman, Colby Itkowitz, and Jason Samenow, “NOAA staff warned in Sept. 1 directive against contradicting Trump,” Washington Post, September 7, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/noaa-staff-warned-in-sept-1-directive-against-contradicting-trump/2019/09/07/12a52d1a-d18f-11e9-87fa-8501a456c003_story.html


#MeToo

Tim Bower, “The #MeToo Backlash,” Harvard Business Review, September/October 2019, https://hbr.org/2019/09/the-metoo-backlash


Pacific Gas and Electric

Katherine Blunt, “San Francisco Offers to Buy PG&E Wires in City,” Wall Street Journal, September 8, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/san-francisco-offers-to-buy-pg-e-wires-in-city-11567960938


Donald Trump just isn’t that into Faux News (not fake enough) anymore

Updates

  1. Originally published, August 30, 8:26 pm.
  2. Update August 30, 9:55 pm:
    • Dorian is now a category 4 storm as it approaches the Bahamas. Considerable uncertainty remains as to how it will affect Florida.[1] I have also updated the maps from the National Hurricane Center.

Faux News

So in the last installment,[2] Donald Trump slammed Faux News for daring to feature some neoliberals (Democrats).[3] Now we have the spurned Faux News firing back.[4] I’m waiting to see the supermarket tabloids on this one. ’Cause you know that’s where all the juicy stuff is.

Allyson Chiu,“‘We don’t work for you’: Fox News’s Neil Cavuto rebukes Trump for slamming network,” Washington Post, August 30, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/08/30/neil-cavuto-fox-news-trump-work-you/


Gig economy

There is a new blog post entitled, “Time for the gig economy to grow up.”

Aaron Gordon, “Uber And Lyft Don’t Have A Right To Exist,” Jalopnik, August 30, 2019, https://jalopnik.com/uber-and-lyft-dont-have-a-right-to-exist-1837680434

Alejandro Lazo and Eliot Brown, “Uber, Lyft, DoorDash Threaten Ballot Fight Over California Gig-Worker Law,” Wall Street Journal, August 29, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-lyft-doordash-threaten-ballot-fight-over-california-gig-worker-law-11567126445


Elon Musk

There is another new blog post entitled, “The consciousness of Elon Musk.”

Edwin Chan, Lulu Yilun Chen, and Chunying Zhang, “The Time a Jet-Lagged Musk Made Alibaba’s Jack Ma Sound Grounded,” Bloomberg, August 29, 2019, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-08-29/the-time-a-jet-lagged-musk-made-alibaba-s-jack-ma-sound-grounded


Dorian

234529_5day_cone_no_line_and_win
This storm track takes Dorian almost directly over the northern Bahama Islands. National Hurricane Center map, August 30, 2019, fair use.

For those who are hoping, seriously or otherwise,[5] Mar a Lago is on south Florida’s Atlantic coast, roughly parallel with Grand Bahama.

I’ve been thinking this storm would surely turn north. Initially I figured it would hit the Carolinas. But as of the 8:00 pm images, the storm appeared to be following an earlier forecast track fairly closely. If the track shown above holds, Dorian should make landfall near Vero Beach, far enough north from Mar a Lago that winds should be strong but considerably reduced. We’re not talking eye wall stuff here by something like 80 miles.
234529
Note that the purple zone is for winds 39 miles per hour or higher. National Hurricane Center map, August 30, 2019, fair use.
car-2019-08-30-20
72-hour gif, images taken two hours apart, as of 8:00 pm.

Kayla Epstein, “‘I’m rooting for a direct hit on Mar a Lago!’ Former Canadian prime minister creates Twitter storm,” Washington Post, August 30, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2019/08/30/im-rooting-direct-hit-mar-a-lago-former-canadian-pm-creates-twitter-storm/

Jason Samenow, Matthew Cappucci, and Andrew Freedman, “Potentially disastrous Hurricane Dorian strengthens to Category 4 as it targets Florida and Southeast U.S.,” Washington Post, August 30, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2019/08/30/potentially-disastrous-hurricane-dorian-looms-closer-stronger-targeting-florida-southeast-us/


  1. [1]Jason Samenow, Matthew Cappucci, and Andrew Freedman, “Potentially disastrous Hurricane Dorian strengthens to Category 4 as it targets Florida and Southeast U.S.,” Washington Post, August 30, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2019/08/30/potentially-disastrous-hurricane-dorian-looms-closer-stronger-targeting-florida-southeast-us/
  2. [2]David Benfell, “Are we waiting for the make-up sex or does this count as another divorce?” Irregular Bullshit, August 29, 2019, https://disunitedstates.com/2019/08/29/are-we-waiting-for-the-make-up-sex-or-does-this-count-as-another-divorce/
  3. [3]Brett Samuels, “Trump criticizes Fox, which ‘isn’t working for us anymore,’” Hill, August 28, 2019, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/459105-trump-criticizes-fox-which-isnt-working-for-us-anymore
  4. [4]Allyson Chiu,“‘We don’t work for you’: Fox News’s Neil Cavuto rebukes Trump for slamming network,” Washington Post, August 30, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/08/30/neil-cavuto-fox-news-trump-work-you/
  5. [5]Kayla Epstein, “‘I’m rooting for a direct hit on Mar a Lago!’ Former Canadian prime minister creates Twitter storm,” Washington Post, August 30, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2019/08/30/im-rooting-direct-hit-mar-a-lago-former-canadian-pm-creates-twitter-storm/

Are we waiting for the make-up sex or does this count as another divorce?

Faux News

Donald Trump apparently did not utter the words, “I divorce thee,” three times. (Oh right, that’s a custom among some Muslims. Well, you know, lots of things are confusing these days.)

Brett Samuels, “Trump criticizes Fox, which ‘isn’t working for us anymore,’” Hill, August 28, 2019, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/459105-trump-criticizes-fox-which-isnt-working-for-us-anymore


Jeffrey Epstein

There is a new blog post entitled, “We’ll never know. We’ll never be able to conclusively rule out the conspiracy theories about Jeffrey Epstein’s death.” I’m sure the elite will manage to trudge on. It must be tough.

Mark Hosenball, “FBI studies two broken cameras outside cell where Epstein died: source,” Reuters, August 28, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-people-jeffrey-epstein-cameras-idUSKCN1VI2LC


Uber

There is another new blog post entitled, “Uber’s spiral down.”

Eliot Brown and Sarah Nassauer, “Uber Cuts Third of Marketing Staff; Lyft Chief Operating Officer Exits,” Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-cuts-third-of-marketing-staff-lyft-chief-operating-officer-exits-11564430556


Dorian

car-2019-08-29-20
Dorian’s brush with Puerto Rico and a string of Carribean islands can still be seen in this 72-hour gif, composed of images taken two hours apart, as of 8:00 pm EDT tonight.

Matthew Cappucci, Andrew Freedman, and Jason Samenow, “Hurricane Dorian: Florida on guard for potential major hurricane strike,” Washington Post, August 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2019/08/29/hurricane-dorian-florida-guard-potential-major-hurricane-strike/


Sexual orientation

Can sexual orientation be attributed to nature or nurture? The answer seems to be, it’s complicated, but there are a number of genetic components that appear to increase the probability of particular orientations.[1] What we’re not seeing here is linear causation, with one cause and one effect. But these findings would seem to indicate that sexual orientation cannot be attributed solely to any social cause. They will be a blow to social conservatives, especially those who think they can “reprogram” people to be heterosexual.

Andrea Ganna, et al., “Large-scale GWAS reveals insights into the genetic architecture of same-sex sexual behavior,” Science 365, no. 6456 (2019), doi: 10.1126/science.aat7693


Brexit

But one top Johnson lieutenant, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, was caught on camera acknowledging that Johnson was struggling to push through Brexit without a majority.

“Parliament has been very good at saying what it doesn’t want. It has been awful at saying what it wants. That’s the reality. So eventually any leader has to, you know, try,” Wallace explained to French Defense Minister Florence Parly, caught on camera ahead of an unrelated meeting in Helsinki.

A government spokesman said later that Wallace “misspoke.”[2]

But everyone knows that Ben Wallace “misspoke” the truth. It’s really rather silly, which I guess is another word for a legal artifice, to deny it.

Karla Adam and Michael Birnbaum, “Allies of British prime minister resign amid outrage over Parliament suspension,” Washington Post, August 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/british-leaders-backers-dismiss-outrage-over-parliament-suspension-as-candyfloss/2019/08/29/fa1e2c96-ca3c-11e9-a4f3-c081a126de70_story.html


  1. [1]Andrea Ganna, et al., “Large-scale GWAS reveals insights into the genetic architecture of same-sex sexual behavior,” Science 365, no. 6456 (2019), doi: 10.1126/science.aat7693
  2. [2]Karla Adam and Michael Birnbaum, “Allies of British prime minister resign amid outrage over Parliament suspension,” Washington Post, August 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/british-leaders-backers-dismiss-outrage-over-parliament-suspension-as-candyfloss/2019/08/29/fa1e2c96-ca3c-11e9-a4f3-c081a126de70_story.html

See what you want to see

Gig economy

There is a new blog post entitled, “Liking Lyft, not liking Uber.”

Michael Wursthorn, “Lyft Shares Rally on Hopes Price Increases Will Drive Profit,” Wall Street Journal, August 26, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lyft-shares-rally-on-hopes-price-increases-will-drive-profits-11566845457


Brexit

You wouldn’t expect the shadow (official opposition) attorney general to approve of Boris Johnson’s idea to prorogue Parliament to allow a hard Brexit,[1] which remains the legal default[2] and which all but hard Brexiteers agree would be likely to result in a grave calamity.[3] But still.[4]

Heather Stewart and Rowena Mason, “Brexit: shutting down parliament ‘gravest abuse of power in living memory,’” Guardian, August 26, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/26/brexit-shutting-down-parliament-gravest-abuse-of-power-in-living-memory-legal-advice


Pittsburgh

Jamie Martines, “U.S. Steel facing a 2nd federal lawsuit tied to December fire at Clairton Plant,” TribLive, August 26, 2019, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/u-s-steel-facing-a-2nd-federal-lawsuit-tied-to-december-fire-at-clairton-plant/


Jeffrey Epstein

Sorry, this still stinks to high hell.[5]

Carol D. Leonnig and Matt Zapotosky, “Investigators scrutinizing video outside Epstein’s cell find some footage unusable, according to people familiar with the inquiry,” Washington Post, August 26, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/investigators-scrutinizing-video-outside-epsteins-cell-find-some-footage-unusable-according-to-people-familiar-with-the-inquiry/2019/08/26/df405636-c827-11e9-a4f3-c081a126de70_story.html


Racism

There is another new blog entry entitled, “Hey cops! Do you know what year it is?


Economics

Add this[6] to the pile of evidence against the field of economics.[7] And give Binyamin Appelbaum some credit—this[8] is a hard thing for anyone who has made their profession within a field—yes, he’s a journalist but he has, through the time I’ve seen his writing, focused on economics—to admit about that field. But it’d help a lot if the New York Times would stop endorsing neoliberals. (And notice that Appelbaum never once uses the word.)

Binyamin Appelbaum, “Blame Economists for the Mess We’re In,” New York Times, August 25, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/24/opinion/sunday/economics-milton-friedman.html


  1. [1]Toby Helm and Heather Stewart, “Boris Johnson seeks legal advice on five-week parliament closure ahead of Brexit,” Guardian, August 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/24/johnson-seeks-legal-advice-parliament-closure
  2. [2]Jack Maidment, “Brexit latest news: Theresa May’s deal defeated again by 58 votes – PM hints at general election to break deadlock,” Telegraph, March 29, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/03/29/brexit-latest-news-theresa-may-final-push-mps-prepare-vote-withdrawal/; Amy Davidson Sorkin, “The Double Dishonesty of Boris Johnson’s Brexit Proposals,” New Yorker, August 22, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-double-dishonesty-of-boris-johnsons-brexit-proposals; Peter Walker, “Could parliament’s latest amendment stop no-deal Brexit?” Guardian, July 18, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/18/could-parliaments-latest-amendment-stop-no-deal-brexit; Josh Wilson, “No-deal Brexit odds: Latest predictions on leaving the EU without a deal,” Telegraph, August 2, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/0/no-deal-brexit-odds-latest-predictions-leaving-eu-without-deal/
  3. [3]Bobby Allyn and Frank Langfitt, “Leaked Brexit Document Depicts Government Fears Of Gridlock, Food Shortages, Unrest,” National Public Radio, August 18, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/08/18/752173091/leaked-brexit-document-depicts-government-fears-of-gridlock-food-shortages-unres; David Benfell, “Boris Johnson might think he’s playing poker with the European Union, but he’s actually playing ‘chicken’—with a brick wall,” Not Housebroken, August 2, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/02/boris-johnson-might-think-hes-playing-poker-with-the-european-union-but-hes-actually-playing-chicken-with-a-brick-wall/; Lisa O’Carroll and Rowena Mason, “Johnson told no-deal Brexit will crush domestic policy plans,” Guardian, July 28, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/28/boris-johnson-ifg-no-deal-brexit-crush-domestic-policy-plans; Amy Davidson Sorkin, “The Double Dishonesty of Boris Johnson’s Brexit Proposals,” New Yorker, August 22, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-double-dishonesty-of-boris-johnsons-brexit-proposals; Tim Wallace, “‘Very real’ recession risk as economy contracts for first time in seven years,” Telegraph, August 9, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/08/09/recession-risk-now-real-economy-contracts-first-time-seven-years/
  4. [4]Heather Stewart and Rowena Mason, “Brexit: shutting down parliament ‘gravest abuse of power in living memory,’” Guardian, August 26, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/26/brexit-shutting-down-parliament-gravest-abuse-of-power-in-living-memory-legal-advice
  5. [5]David Benfell, “What the hell is going on with the prison video from around the time of Jeffrey Epstein’s death?” Not Housebroken, August 16, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/16/what-the-hell-is-going-on-with-the-prison-video-from-around-the-time-of-jeffrey-epsteins-death/; Carol D. Leonnig and Matt Zapotosky, “Investigators scrutinizing video outside Epstein’s cell find some footage unusable, according to people familiar with the inquiry,” Washington Post, August 26, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/investigators-scrutinizing-video-outside-epsteins-cell-find-some-footage-unusable-according-to-people-familiar-with-the-inquiry/2019/08/26/df405636-c827-11e9-a4f3-c081a126de70_story.html
  6. [6]Binyamin Appelbaum, “Blame Economists for the Mess We’re In,” New York Times, August 25, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/24/opinion/sunday/economics-milton-friedman.html
  7. [7]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
  8. [8]Binyamin Appelbaum, “Blame Economists for the Mess We’re In,” New York Times, August 25, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/24/opinion/sunday/economics-milton-friedman.html

How the hell?

Kashmir

I don’t doubt the seriousness of the situation in Kashmir,[1] but there are some seriously unanswered questions in the Wall Street Journal’s report.[2]

Allegedly, “[s]ecurity personnel in the area said they had orders to make sure no one left their homes unless it was a medical emergency” and allegedly there is a near-total communications and Internet blackout.[3] So how does anyone visit anyone to conduct interviews? How are people not starving in their houses? What about utility services? This makes no sense.

Niharika Mandhana, “Kashmir Seethes Under Indian Security Clampdown,” Wall Street Journal, August 15, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/kashmir-seethes-under-indian-security-clampdown-11565899945


Criminal injustice

Jarryd Bartle, “We know that prison doesn’t work. So what are the alternatives?” Guardian, August 16, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/16/we-know-that-prison-doesnt-work-so-what-are-the-alternatives


Recession

The Trump administration is treating the possibility or probability of a recession as a psychological problem,[4] which it is,[5] but as if there were no actual causes to to worry about, which there are.[6] Utterly in denial, the Trump administration is failing to respond to the risk, instead blaming the news media and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.[7] None of this will help Trump’s re-election prospects if there is indeed a downturn.[8] Nor will it help us.[9]

Andrew Restuccia and Rebecca Ballhaus, “Any Economic Downturn Could Scramble Trump’s 2020 Strategy,” Wall Street Journal, August 15, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/any-economic-downturn-could-scramble-trumps-2020-strategy-11565898073

Catherine Rampell, “Trump has a dream team for mismanaging a recession,” Washington Post, August 15, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-has-a-dream-team-for-mismanaging-a-recession/2019/08/15/0254451c-bf98-11e9-a5c6-1e74f7ec4a93_story.html

Philip Rucker, Damian Paletta, and Josh Dawsey, “Trump, banking on strong economy to win reelection, frets over a possible downturn,” Washington Post, August 15, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-banking-on-strong-economy-to-win-reelection-frets-over-a-possible-downturn/2019/08/15/04a85352-bf67-11e9-b873-63ace636af08_story.html


Jeffrey Epstein

There is a new blog post entitled, “What the hell is going on with the prison video from around the time of Jeffrey Epstein’s death?” This originally got published in the wrong place. That error has now been rectified.

The coroner has ruled Jeffrey Epstein’s death a suicide by hanging. Epstein’s lawyers aren’t satisfied and I think they’re right to demand the video evidence[10] that seems to have gone missing.[11]

Evan Perez and Mark Morales, “Basic facts about Epstein’s suicide elude investigators 5 days later,” CNN, August 15, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/15/politics/jeffrey-epstein-prison-suicide-questions/index.html

Devlin Barrett, “Jeffrey Epstein’s autopsy concludes his death was a suicide by hanging,” Washington Post, August 16, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/jeffrey-epsteins-autopsy-concludes-his-death-was-a-suicide-by-hanging/2019/08/16/bb670d58-c053-11e9-a5c6-1e74f7ec4a93_story.html


Israel

It has certainly been reasonable to accuse U.S. politicians of putting support for Israel, presumably to attract favor from Jewish voters, above the interests of the country.[12] Now Binyamin Netanyahu, whose government has apparently repudiated a two-state solution,[13] is accused of putting allegiance to Donald Trump ahead of Israeli interests.[14]

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/


Migration

Brent Kendall and Louise Radnofsky, “Appeals Court Narrows Injunction Barring Trump Asylum Restrictions,” Wall Street Journal, August 16, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/appeals-court-narrows-injunction-barring-trump-asylum-restrictions-11565972193


Greenland

main_1500
Not for sale.[15] Undated photograph by Felipe Dana, Associated Press, via the Atlantic.

Alexandra Petri, “The Emperor’s New Island, a tale of Trump buying Greenland,” Washington Post, August 16, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/08/16/emperors-new-island-tale-trump-buying-greenland/

Vivian Salama et al., “President Trump Eyes a New Real-Estate Purchase: Greenland,” Wall Street Journal, August 16, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-eyes-a-new-real-estate-purchase-greenland-11565904223

Vivian Salama and Andrew Restuccia, “Greenland Tells Trump: ‘We’re Open for Business, Not for Sale,’” Wall Street Journal, August 16, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/greenland-tells-trump-were-open-for-business-not-for-sale-11565960064


  1. [1]Niha Masih, “India revokes special status of Kashmir, putting tense region on edge,” Washington Post, August 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/india-revokes-special-status-of-kashmir-putting-tense-region-on-edge/2019/08/05/2232fcd0-b740-11e9-8e83-4e6687e99814_story.html
  2. [2]Niharika Mandhana, “Kashmir Seethes Under Indian Security Clampdown,” Wall Street Journal, August 15, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/kashmir-seethes-under-indian-security-clampdown-11565899945
  3. [3]Niharika Mandhana, “Kashmir Seethes Under Indian Security Clampdown,” Wall Street Journal, August 15, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/kashmir-seethes-under-indian-security-clampdown-11565899945
  4. [4]Philip Rucker, Damian Paletta, and Josh Dawsey, “Trump, banking on strong economy to win reelection, frets over a possible downturn,” Washington Post, August 15, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-banking-on-strong-economy-to-win-reelection-frets-over-a-possible-downturn/2019/08/15/04a85352-bf67-11e9-b873-63ace636af08_story.html
  5. [5]David Benfell, “As a possible or probable recession looms, neoliberalism evades challenge. Yet again,” Not Housebroken, August 14, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/14/as-a-possible-or-probable-recession-looms-neoliberalism-evades-challenge-yet-again/
  6. [6]Jon Hilsenrath, “After Record-Long Expansion, Here’s What Could Knock the Economy Off Course,” Wall Street Journal, June 3, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/after-record-long-expansion-heres-what-could-knock-the-economy-off-course-11559591043; John Kemp, “Global economy is probably in recession,” Reuters, August 7, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-global-economy-kemp/column-global-economy-is-probably-in-recession-idUKKCN1UX1OF; Colin Kruger, “‘Insane levels’: Can a world where profitless companies are flying last?” Sydney Morning Herald, August 10, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/insane-levels-can-a-world-where-profitless-companies-are-flying-last-20190808-p52f3d.html; Damian Paletta, Thomas Heath, and Taylor Telford, “Stocks tank as another recession warning surfaces,” Washington Post, August 14, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/08/14/stocks-tank-another-recession-warning-surfaces/; Tim Wallace, “‘Very real’ recession risk as economy contracts for first time in seven years,” Telegraph, August 9, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/08/09/recession-risk-now-real-economy-contracts-first-time-seven-years/; Tim Wallace, “World economy faces a risk that’s far bigger than Trump’s trade war,” Sydney Morning Herald, August 9, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/world-economy-faces-a-risk-that-s-far-bigger-than-trump-s-trade-war-20190809-p52ffs.html
  7. [7]Andrew Restuccia and Rebecca Ballhaus, “Any Economic Downturn Could Scramble Trump’s 2020 Strategy,” Wall Street Journal, August 15, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/any-economic-downturn-could-scramble-trumps-2020-strategy-11565898073; Philip Rucker, Damian Paletta, and Josh Dawsey, “Trump, banking on strong economy to win reelection, frets over a possible downturn,” Washington Post, August 15, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-banking-on-strong-economy-to-win-reelection-frets-over-a-possible-downturn/2019/08/15/04a85352-bf67-11e9-b873-63ace636af08_story.html
  8. [8]Aaron Blake, “How a recession could doom Trump’s 2020 reelection,” Washington Post, August 12, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/08/12/how-recession-could-doom-trumps-reelection/; Andrew Restuccia and Rebecca Ballhaus, “Any Economic Downturn Could Scramble Trump’s 2020 Strategy,” Wall Street Journal, August 15, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/any-economic-downturn-could-scramble-trumps-2020-strategy-11565898073; Philip Rucker, Damian Paletta, and Josh Dawsey, “Trump, banking on strong economy to win reelection, frets over a possible downturn,” Washington Post, August 15, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-banking-on-strong-economy-to-win-reelection-frets-over-a-possible-downturn/2019/08/15/04a85352-bf67-11e9-b873-63ace636af08_story.html
  9. [9]Catherine Rampell, “Trump has a dream team for mismanaging a recession,” Washington Post, August 15, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-has-a-dream-team-for-mismanaging-a-recession/2019/08/15/0254451c-bf98-11e9-a5c6-1e74f7ec4a93_story.html
  10. [10]Devlin Barrett, “Jeffrey Epstein’s autopsy concludes his death was a suicide by hanging,” Washington Post, August 16, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/jeffrey-epsteins-autopsy-concludes-his-death-was-a-suicide-by-hanging/2019/08/16/bb670d58-c053-11e9-a5c6-1e74f7ec4a93_story.html
  11. [11]Evan Perez and Mark Morales, “Basic facts about Epstein’s suicide elude investigators 5 days later,” CNN, August 15, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/15/politics/jeffrey-epstein-prison-suicide-questions/index.html
  12. [12]Thaddeus Russell, “Does U.S. Support for Israel Threaten American Safety?” Daily Beast, July 14, 2017, https://www.thedailybeast.com/thaddeus-russell-does-us-support-for-israel-threaten-american-safety
  13. [13]Michael Arria, “Israeli lawmakers to Congress: two-state solution far more dangerous to Israel than BDS,” Mondoweiss, August 13, 2019, https://mondoweiss.net/2019/08/lawmakers-congress-dangerous/; Gil Hoffman, “Israeli MKs to Congress: Thanks, but BDS bill ‘dangerous for
    Israel,’” Jerusalem Post, August 12, 2019, https://www.jpost.com/American-Politics/Israeli-MKs-to-Congress-Thanks-but-BDS-bill-dangerous-for-Israel-598392
  14. [14]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/
  15. [15]Vivian Salama and Andrew Restuccia, “Greenland Tells Trump: ‘We’re Open for Business, Not for Sale,’” Wall Street Journal, August 16, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/greenland-tells-trump-were-open-for-business-not-for-sale-11565960064

Jeremy Corbyn has a plan.

Brexit

Jeremy Corbyn has a plan. It’s not clear that it will work. It would likely go to court. But he has a plan.[1]

Al Jazeera, “UK’s Labour vows to oust Johnson, delay Brexit and call election,” August 14, 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/08/uk-labour-vows-oust-johnson-delay-brexit-call-election-190814163557439.html

Camilla Tominey, “Jeremy Corbyn writes to MPs in bid to oust Boris Johnson over Brexit,” Telegraph, August 14, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/08/14/jeremy-corbyn-writes-mps-say-make-pm-stop-no-deal-brexit-cross/


My old high school

There is a new blog post entitled, “A non-conformist mural and a non-conformist kid: Why the mural still must be covered up.

Carol Pogash, “San Francisco School Board Votes to Hide, but Not Destroy, Disputed Murals,” New York Times, August 14, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/14/arts/san-francisco-murals-george-washington.html


Recession

Pretty much[2] as I said yesterday.[3] To me, and I don’t think this is quite true, it’s as if the numbers are following the psychology. It might be that reporting on the numbers[4] follows the psychology, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.[5]

Josh Mitchell and Jon Hilsenrath, “Warning Signs Point to a Global Slowdown,” Wall Street Journal, August 14, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/warning-signs-point-to-a-global-slowdown-11565814494

David Scutt, “The ‘doom loop’ that could bring on a global recession,” Sydney Morning Herald, August 15, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/markets/the-doom-loop-could-bring-on-a-global-recession-20190815-p52h9v.html


Jeffrey Epstein

There is another new blog entry entitled, “Wait, what? Jeffrey Epstein strangled? Probably not. Only probably.

Carol D. Leonnig and Aaron C. Davis, “Autopsy finds broken bones in Jeffrey Epstein’s neck, deepening questions around his death,” Washington Post, August 15, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/autopsy-finds-broken-bones-in-jeffrey-epsteins-neck-deepening-questions-around-his-death/2019/08/14/d09ac934-bdd9-11e9-b873-63ace636af08_story.html


Migration

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that it took so long for this ruling to come out. This is the case in which a Department of Justice lawyer was trying to argue that enumerated items, that is, “adequate food, water, bedding, toothbrushes and soap,”[6] amounted to a modification of the Flores agreement requiring safe and sanitary conditions for detained migrant children. It was not a persuasive argument, but it was apparently the only way the government even could appeal, and it was pretty clear that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals would do[7] just what it did today,[8] upholding Judge Dolly Gee’s order for an rapid improvement in conditions. The government was whining that it couldn’t comply given a surge of migrants[9] and no doubt, the Trump administration will try to find a way to appeal this ruling nonetheless.

Maura Dolan, “Court upholds ruling that children held at border must have adequate food, bedding, sanitation,” Los Angeles Times, August 15, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-08-15/children-border-sanitary-conditions-flores-agreement-9th-circuit


  1. [1]Al Jazeera, “UK’s Labour vows to oust Johnson, delay Brexit and call election,” August 14, 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/08/uk-labour-vows-oust-johnson-delay-brexit-call-election-190814163557439.html; Camilla Tominey, “Jeremy Corbyn writes to MPs in bid to oust Boris Johnson over Brexit,” Telegraph, August 14, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/08/14/jeremy-corbyn-writes-mps-say-make-pm-stop-no-deal-brexit-cross/
  2. [2]David Scutt, “The ‘doom loop’ that could bring on a global recession,” Sydney Morning Herald, August 15, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/markets/the-doom-loop-could-bring-on-a-global-recession-20190815-p52h9v.html
  3. [3]David Benfell, “As a possible or probable recession looms, neoliberalism evades challenge. Yet again,” Not Housebroken, August 14, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/14/as-a-possible-or-probable-recession-looms-neoliberalism-evades-challenge-yet-again/
  4. [4]Josh Mitchell and Jon Hilsenrath, “Warning Signs Point to a Global Slowdown,” Wall Street Journal, August 14, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/warning-signs-point-to-a-global-slowdown-11565814494
  5. [5]David Scutt, “The ‘doom loop’ that could bring on a global recession,” Sydney Morning Herald, August 15, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/markets/the-doom-loop-could-bring-on-a-global-recession-20190815-p52h9v.html
  6. [6]Maura Dolan, “Court upholds ruling that children held at border must have adequate food, bedding, sanitation,” Los Angeles Times, August 15, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-08-15/children-border-sanitary-conditions-flores-agreement-9th-circuit
  7. [7]Ken White, “Why a Government Lawyer Argued Against Giving Immigrant Kids Toothbrushes,” Atlantic, June 23, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/06/why-sarah-fabian-argued-against-giving-kids-toothbrushes/592366/
  8. [8]Maura Dolan, “Court upholds ruling that children held at border must have adequate food, bedding, sanitation,” Los Angeles Times, August 15, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-08-15/children-border-sanitary-conditions-flores-agreement-9th-circuit
  9. [9]Miriam Jordan, “Judge Orders Swift Action to Improve Conditions for Migrant Children in Texas,” New York Times, June 29, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/29/us/migrant-children-detention-texas.html