‘A house built by slaves’

White House

I think a difficulty Ta-Nehisi Coates faces in making his case for reparations[1] may be that, at the remove of the 21st century, we—whites at least—tend to think of slavery as something that happened on southern plantations a long time ago. It’s difficult now to imagine just how intrinsic slavery was to the early U.S. economy and even its way of life.[2] This Washington Post story[3] begins to peel back that delusion with what Michelle Obama called “a house built by slaves.”[4]

As I review this draft, I see the words “white house” and think of two nearby towns that passengers flagged for me as particularly white supremacist, at least in their police forces.[5] I don’t name them because as an Uber and Lyft driver, I frankly depend on those and other police to overlook my own inevitable transgressions of traffic law.

It is very apparent to me that the grace—in my case, a daily average of 137 miles of grace in a very difficult driving situation[6]—police here extend to me and other whites is not something they extend to Blacks. I understand all too well also that my income depends in part on people who are, accordingly, afraid to drive while Black,[7] while I struggle to make a living in the only career option that is available to me, even with a Ph.D.[8]

I can comfort myself with the recognition that ethics can only apply where there is choice. It is still a very uncomfortable position.

Joe Heim, “The enslaved people who built and staffed the White House: An afterthought no more,” Washington Post, February 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/the-enslaved-people-who-built-and-staffed-the-white-house-an-afterthought-no-more/2020/02/17/5e5393ea-483c-11ea-8124-0ca81effcdfb_story.html


Judiciary

The Washington Post has more[9] on the Federal Judges Association calling an emergency meeting about Donald Trump’s and William Barr’s interference in line prosecutorial decisions.[10] This is the unfortunate the money line: “[Cynthia M.] Rufe’s comments gave no hint of what the association could or would do in response.”[11]

Fred Barbash, “Federal judges reportedly call emergency meeting in wake of Stone case intervention,” Washington Post, February 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/02/18/judges-meeting-trump/


Pittsburgh

The wind must have been very favorable (judging from the water, perhaps nonexistent) the day this photograph was taken.

As I understand it, those are not the current Fort Pitt (to right) and Fort Duquesne (to left) Bridges. I’m not sure if there was really a park there then, but there is now and it’s at least somewhat larger, with a fountain. The current bridges come into downtown a little farther back.


  1. [1]Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The Case for Reparations,” Atlantic, June 2014, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/06/the-case-for-reparations/361631/
  2. [2]Sven Beckert, “Slavery and Capitalism,” Chronicle of Higher Education, December 12, 2014, https://www.chronicle.com/article/SlaveryCapitalism/150787/
  3. [3]Joe Heim, “The enslaved people who built and staffed the White House: An afterthought no more,” Washington Post, February 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/the-enslaved-people-who-built-and-staffed-the-white-house-an-afterthought-no-more/2020/02/17/5e5393ea-483c-11ea-8124-0ca81effcdfb_story.html
  4. [4]Michelle Obama, quoted in Joe Heim, “The enslaved people who built and staffed the White House: An afterthought no more,” Washington Post, February 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/the-enslaved-people-who-built-and-staffed-the-white-house-an-afterthought-no-more/2020/02/17/5e5393ea-483c-11ea-8124-0ca81effcdfb_story.html
  5. [5]David Benfell, “The place where I live,” Not Housebroken, December 26, 2020,
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Pittsburgh driving for the uninitiated,” Irregular Bullshit, n.d., https://disunitedstates.com/pittsburgh-driving-for-the-uninitiated/
  7. [7]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 binary between ‘Black’ and ‘Blue’ Lives,” Not Housebroken, January 3, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/01/03/the-binary-between-black-and-blue-lives/; David Benfell “To a Pennsylvania House Minority Leader: When cops profile you, they don’t actually need an offense,” Not Housebroken, January 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/01/16/to-a-pennsylvania-house-minority-leader-when-cops-profile-you-they-dont-actually-need-an-offense/
  8. [8]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  9. [9]Fred Barbash, “Federal judges reportedly call emergency meeting in wake of Stone case intervention,” Washington Post, February 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/02/18/judges-meeting-trump/
  10. [10]Kevin Johnson, “Federal judges’ association calls emergency meeting after DOJ intervenes in case of Trump ally Roger Stone,” USA Today, February 17, 2020, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/02/17/roger-stone-sentence-judges-worried-political-interference/4788155002/
  11. [11]Fred Barbash, “Federal judges reportedly call emergency meeting in wake of Stone case intervention,” Washington Post, February 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/02/18/judges-meeting-trump/

Staying where I am

Gig economy

There is a new blog post entitled, “Ridesharing traffic woes illustrate a defect of (not just) high tech thinking.”

Eliot Brown, “The Ride-Hail Utopia That Got Stuck in Traffic,” Wall Street Journal, February 15, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-ride-hail-utopia-that-got-stuck-in-traffic-11581742802


Housekeeping

As my regular readers know, I’ve been anguished by evidence of racism, white supremacism, and even possible militia activity in the Pittsburgh area.[1] I’ve been photographing the gratuitous displays of guns, tanks, and other munitions that really seem like ludicrous overkill, that often seem really to form a white supremacist message for Blacks.[2] I have witnessed and been profoundly distressed by police behavior I’ve witnessed.[3]

None of this is okay with me and some of you know I’ve been considering moving, possibly to a less gun-nutty state, possibly to within Pittsburgh city limits.

In the meantime, I’ve been managing to make my apartment nicer and nicer. And the prospect of another move is, well, less than enticing. As I’ve been looking around, it seems increasingly clear that I need a real job, for which I still have no prospect, to significantly improve my situation and increasingly likely that I would otherwise be, at best, exchanging one set of problems for another.

Today, my car registration renewal notice came in the mail. It had an option to renew for one or two years. It wasn’t that expensive to do so, so I renewed it for two years. I’m staying where I am, or at least in Pennsylvania, at least for the foreseeable future.


  1. [1]David Benfell, “Militia territory,” Not Housebroken, November 22, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/11/22/militia-territory/; David Benfell, “The place where I live,” Not Housebroken, December 26, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/26/the-place-where-i-live/; David Benfell, “How am I to respond?” Not Housebroken, December 31, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/30/how-am-i-to-respond/
  2. [2]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/
  3. [3]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/

William Barr’s bullshit

As controversy swirls around some candidates’ allegedly “unrealistic” promises, it might not be a bad idea to revisit a blog post from last year entitled, “Cats are smarter than we are. Really.


William Barr

William Barr’s complaint that, “To have public statements and tweets made about the department, about our people in the department, our men and women here, about cases pending in the department, and about judges before whom we have cases, make it impossible for me to do my job,”[1] reeks of bullshit from top to bottom. As Jon Allsop writes,

[William] Barr’s ABC interview, it seems, was an effort to wind back the clock. Did it work? News stories in the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal credited him, respectively, with a “remarkable rebuke” and “striking criticism” of the president. Barr, the Times added, had “publicly challenged Mr. Trump in a way that no sitting cabinet member has.” Elsewhere, however, skepticism of Barr’s motives abounded. On CNN, Cuomo—who changed his tune on Barr during the Mueller episode—said the interview was “a slap right in Trump’s piehole” but that he suspected it was a ploy to “distract the media with the drama while ignoring the fact” of the Stone case. (Cuomo and others suggested that Trump may have authorized Barr’s criticisms—Trump’s response to them, that they didn’t bother him, was suspicious, they said, since Trump isn’t typically sanguine about expressions of disloyalty. Reporting in the Times and the Post seems to contradict this theory.) In a tweet, Ari Melber, chief legal correspondent at MSNBC, offered a pithy rewording of what Barr said: “I stand by intervening to help a convicted Trump adviser, but I wish Trump did not admit what we are doing on Twitter.”[2]

Allsop argues that it’s more likely simply that Barr is a true believer in “the centralization of presidential power—just to the point, critics say, where the president is effectively above the law”—than that he coordinated this outburst with Donald Trump.[3]

One way or another, what we’re seeing is either a culmination of or, as it seems to me, a step beyond the neoconservative theory (or at least a theory they favored when they were in power) of the unitary executive, which while consolidating considerable power in the presidency, never seemed to me to allow for the president to be entirely above the law. Neoconservatism, a backlash to the social uprisings of the 1960s and 1970s, rather deploys law (ask, whose law, passed by whom, protecting whom, from whom?), order (ask, whose order?), and proactive war—even imperialism—to protect the Amerikkkan system of so-called democracy (really a republic[4]) and capitalism from challenge, whether foreign or domestic.[5] That should leave Trump subject to legal constraint. Instead, as Allsop notes, the lesson he takes from impeachment, Susan Collins and colleagues notwithstanding,[6] is that “he can break the rules with impunity.”[7]

In any event, Trump didn’t take long to “declar[e] that he has the ‘legal right’ to ask his top law enforcement official to get involved in a criminal case,” the very sort of intervention that prompted all this.[8] It will be Barr’s response to this, if any, that I think will be most instructive.

Jon Allsop, “Angry Barr and whether the press is getting played,” Columbia Journalism Review, February 14, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/william_barr_roger_stone_trump.php

Matt Zapotosky and John Wagner, “Trump bucks Barr’s request to stop tweeting about Justice Dept., declaring a ‘legal right’ to seek intervention in criminal cases,” Washington Post, February 14, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-appears-to-escalate-standoff-with-attorney-general-and-justice-dept-declaring-on-twitter-a-legal-right-to-influence-criminal-cases/2020/02/14/8c152c36-4f2f-11ea-bf44-f5043eb3918a_story.html


  1. [1]William Barr, quoted in Jon Allsop, “Angry Barr and whether the press is getting played,” Columbia Journalism Review, February 14, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/william_barr_roger_stone_trump.php
  2. [2]Jon Allsop, “Angry Barr and whether the press is getting played,” Columbia Journalism Review, February 14, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/william_barr_roger_stone_trump.php
  3. [3]Jon Allsop, “Angry Barr and whether the press is getting played,” Columbia Journalism Review, February 14, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/william_barr_roger_stone_trump.php
  4. [4]David Benfell, “The species we must become: On direct democracy, or why its alleged bugs are features,” Not Housebroken, June 16, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/06/16/the-species-we-must-become-on-direct-democracy-or-why-its-alleged-bugs-are-features/
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  6. [6]Seung Min Kim, “These Republicans said they hope Trump has learned a lesson from impeachment. He said he hasn’t,” Washington Post, February 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/these-republicans-said-they-hope-trump-has-learned-a-lesson-from-impeachment-he-said-he-hasnt/2020/02/04/fa68c18c-478e-11ea-ab15-b5df3261b710_story.html
  7. [7]Jon Allsop, “Angry Barr and whether the press is getting played,” Columbia Journalism Review, February 14, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/william_barr_roger_stone_trump.php
  8. [8]Matt Zapotosky and John Wagner, “Trump bucks Barr’s request to stop tweeting about Justice Dept., declaring a ‘legal right’ to seek intervention in criminal cases,” Washington Post, February 14, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-appears-to-escalate-standoff-with-attorney-general-and-justice-dept-declaring-on-twitter-a-legal-right-to-influence-criminal-cases/2020/02/14/8c152c36-4f2f-11ea-bf44-f5043eb3918a_story.html

They didn’t do it: Malcolm X assassination may be reinvestigated

Malcolm X

Meagan Flynn, “Malcolm X assassination may be reinvestigated as Netflix documentary, lawyers cast doubt on convictions,” Washington Post, February 10, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/02/10/malcolmx-assassination-netflix/


Housing

Michael Sainato, “‘We’re technically homeless’: the eviction epidemic plaguing the US,” Guardian, February 11, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/feb/11/us-eviction-rates-causes-richmond-atlanta


Pittsburgh

Jamie Martines, “U.S. Steel, Allegheny County finalize Clairton Coke Works emissions settlement,” TribLive, February 10, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/u-s-steel-and-allegheny-county-finalize-clairton-coke-works-emissions-settlement/


Monday maybe?

Iowa

So does this mean we’ll actually have final results Monday?

“The [Iowa Democratic Party] has initiated the process of review of the requested precincts, and any corrections will be released before Monday at 12pm CST in a single update – reported prior to the allocation of national delegates,” an unsigned statement from the state party read.[1]

Zach Montellaro, “Iowa Democratic Party reviewing results from 95 precincts,” Politico, February 8, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/02/08/iowa-democratic-party-reviewing-results-112532


Gig economy

U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee said during a hearing in Los Angeles that it was “a steep hill to climb” for Uber and Postmates to argue that the statute [California’s AB 5] irrationally targets the app-based companies on the grounds that many workers in other industries were exempt from it.

“I can’t second guess the legislature unless you show me an example of an exemption that absolutely doesn’t make sense,” Gee said.[2]

Thud.

Joel Rosenblatt and Edvard Pettersson, “Uber Falters in First Legal Attack on California Gig Worker Law,” Bloomberg, February 7, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-02-07/uber-poised-to-lose-bid-to-block-california-gig-worker-law


  1. [1]Zach Montellaro, “Iowa Democratic Party reviewing results from 95 precincts,” Politico, February 8, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/02/08/iowa-democratic-party-reviewing-results-112532
  2. [2]Joel Rosenblatt and Edvard Pettersson, “Uber Falters in First Legal Attack on California Gig Worker Law,” Bloomberg, February 7, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-02-07/uber-poised-to-lose-bid-to-block-california-gig-worker-law

Waiting, waiting, waiting…. Keep those pundits waiting…. Caucuses!

Amazon

Michael Sainato, “‘I’m not a robot’: Amazon workers condemn unsafe, grueling conditions at warehouse,” Guardian, February 5, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/feb/05/amazon-workers-protest-unsafe-grueling-conditions-warehouse


Iowa

Reminder: There’s a new blog post entitled, “Neoliberal hubris and the Iowa fiasco.”

I’m starting to wonder what’s going on. There have been no updates since around midnight.

Figure 1 shows the popular count, with Bernie Sanders leading.
FireShot Capture 059 - Election Results - U.S. ELECTIONS - elections.ap.org
Fig. 1. Screenshot of Associated Press Iowa caucus results, as of 1:55 am.[1]

Figure 2 shows a caucus count, which I think somehow translates to the number of delegates Iowa will actually send to the Democratic Convention, with Pete Buttigieg leading.
FireShot Capture 060 - Election Results - U.S. ELECTIONS - elections.ap.org
Fig. 2. Screenshot of Associated Press Iowa caucus results, as of 8:22 am.[2]

Andrew Gumbel, “Iowa and the grand tradition of election tech mishaps,” Guardian, February 5, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/feb/05/iowa-election-tech-issues-florida


State of the Union


  1. [1]Associated Press, “Iowa Elections Results,” February 5, 2020, https://elections.ap.org/dailykos/results/2020-02-03/state/IA/race/P/raceid/17278
  2. [2]Associated Press, “Iowa Elections Results,” February 5, 2020, https://elections.ap.org/dailykos/results/2020-02-03/state/IA/race/P/raceid/17275

On the Green New Deal

Climate crisis

I’m not fond of interviews and have been, perhaps inexcusably, slow to get to this interview with Naomi Klein.[1] But we hear a lot about a “Green New Deal” without seeing how that fleshes out.

Sometimes said explicitly, sometimes sort of sotto voce, which is like, “Look, let’s just save the planet first and then we’ll deal with, you know, racism and inequality and gender exclusion and sort of just wait your turn.” And that doesn’t go over very well because for people who are on the front lines of all of those other crises, they’re all existential. I mean, if you can’t feed your kids, if you’re losing your house, if you are facing violence, all of it is existential.[2]

What’s still missing here,[3] possibly because it’s just an interview, is an actual plan that coherently brings all the pieces together and shows how they save our species and our environment. All I can say is that it is the right idea.

Laura Flanders, “Naomi Klein: Climate Solutions That Neglect Inequality Are Doomed to Fail,” Truthout, January 6, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/naomi-klein-climate-solutions-that-neglect-inequality-are-doomed-to-fail/


Bernie Sanders

There is a new blog post entitled, “All of us.”

Martin Pengelly, “Bernie Sanders ‘must reconsider’ Joe Rogan endorsement, says LGBTQ group,” Guardian, January 24, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jan/24/bernie-sanders-joe-rogan-human-rights-campaign


  1. [1]Laura Flanders, “Naomi Klein: Climate Solutions That Neglect Inequality Are Doomed to Fail,” Truthout, January 6, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/naomi-klein-climate-solutions-that-neglect-inequality-are-doomed-to-fail/
  2. [2]Laura Flanders, “Naomi Klein: Climate Solutions That Neglect Inequality Are Doomed to Fail,” Truthout, January 6, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/naomi-klein-climate-solutions-that-neglect-inequality-are-doomed-to-fail/
  3. [3]Laura Flanders, “Naomi Klein: Climate Solutions That Neglect Inequality Are Doomed to Fail,” Truthout, January 6, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/naomi-klein-climate-solutions-that-neglect-inequality-are-doomed-to-fail/

It’s bad enough that Donald Trump is ripping off a television series without putting that series’ name in this title.

Donald Trump

Bill Kristol is, of course, a neoconservative, and one of the few who still subscribes to the failed #NeverTrump movement in the Republican Party that sought, much too late, to avert Donald Trump’s nomination for the presidency in 2016.

But, damn, does he have a way with words or does he have a way with words?

As to the New York magazine piece, some of us will remember that Captain James T. Kirk, in “The Omega Glory,” finishes a virtually unrecognizable utterance by one side in a society that had somehow managed to continue the Cold War over a series of centuries by reciting the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance, which in retrospect, seems like a strange thing for a Starfleet captain in the United Federation of Planets, three centuries later, to have memorized. There’s lots that’s weird about that,[1] but it plays into the patriotism I associate with authoritarian populism[2] and, since arriving in Pittsburgh, increasingly conflate with white supremacism (the flag-waving and other displays of patriotism, the guns, especially around Black areas, the combat fetishization, and the banners that overwhelmingly memorialize white but rarely Black soldiers, all seem so completely overdone as to compel the question of what folks around here are compensating for).

The Space Force logo resembles that of Starfleet, the military force of the United Federation of Planets. Yes, we are talking about Star Trek — but is Trump? The president does love television. Maybe he likes Star Trek, though the series doesn’t seem like his natural fare. Maybe someone was making a joke, and no one caught the joke, and here we are, contemplating the stupidest possible outcome of events. Maybe a consultant thought it would convince kids to sign up for the Space Force. You know, it’ll be just like Starfleet, except for the part where you’re in a military with a major white-nationalism problem. Or maybe it’s a viral marketing campaign for Star Trek: Picard, which premiered yesterday on CBS, but this seems very unlikely indeed. Trump bears no resemblance to the former captain of the Enterprise — not physically, not spiritually, not intellectually — so this is probably just what it seems, a dumb rip-off.[3]

Starfleet’s mission was not war, but peaceful exploration, something too many members of Starfleet International, the earth-based Star Trek fan club have forgotten, and something Trump is likely incapable of comprehending, that is, unless it’s for oil.

Sarah Jones, “Why Did Trump Just Rip Off Star Trek?” New York, January 24, 2020, http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/01/the-new-space-force-logo-looks-like-starfleet-from-star-trek.html


White supremacism

Jason Wilson, “Prepping for a race war: documents reveal inner workings of neo-Nazi group,” Guardian, January 25, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/25/inside-the-base-neo-nazi-terror-group


  1. [1]Memory Alpha, s.v. “Pledge of Allegiance,” accessed January 25, 2020, https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Pledge_of_Allegiance
  2. [2]David Benfell, “The seven tendencies of conservatism,” Irregular Bullshit, n.d., https://disunitedstates.com/the-seven-tendencies-of-conservatism/
  3. [3]Sarah Jones, “Why Did Trump Just Rip Off Star Trek?” New York, January 24, 2020, http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/01/the-new-space-force-logo-looks-like-starfleet-from-star-trek.html

Your job sucks. Thank neoliberals.

Labor

I’ve been revisiting my dissertation, specifically the seven tendencies of conservatism, and updating them in a new page which will continue to be developed, entitled, “The seven tendencies of conservatism.” A little has changed in that I have developed my understanding of the tendencies a little, and mainly that I have developed my understanding of neoliberalism, born from capitalist libertarianism but embraced by neoconservatism as a moral imperative, a lot.

In the course of going through the material there, I archived the articles that I cited in excerpts. I didn’t even read most of them, but inevitably, I browsed them, going through to get rid of extraneous crap like advertising.

I am reeling. I have been harshly critical of Barack Obama for excusing war crimes,[1] for refusing to prosecute the bank fraud that led to the 2007-2009 financial crisis,[2] and for leaving unemployed workers to twist in the wind.[3]

That last part is only mostly but not precisely accurate. Jobs were created in the wake of the financial crisis. But of an especially cruel sort, accelerating trends that had already been in place before the crisis[4] and that reflect neoliberal ideology.[5] For all my unhappiness at being stuck driving for Uber and Lyft, I had managed to forget what it’s like working in other low-level jobs. Here’s the reading list:

Daniel D’Addario, “Amazon is worse than Walmart,” Salon, July 30, 2013, https://www.salon.com/control/2013/07/30/how_amazon_is_worse_than_wal_mart/

Timothy Egan, “The Corporate Daddy,” New York Times, June 19, 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/20/opinion/timothy-egan-walmart-starbucks-and-the-fight-against-inequality.html

Josh Eidelson, “Wal-Mart faces warehouse horror allegations and federal Labor Board complaint,” Salon, November 19, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/11/18/breaking_wal_mart_faces_warehouse_horror_allegations_and_federal_labor_board_complaint/

Josh Eidelson, “Tens of thousands protest, over 100 arrested in Black Friday challenge to Wal-Mart,” Salon, November 30, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/11/30/tens_of_thousands_protest_over_100_arrested_in_black_friday_challenge_to_wal_mart/

Josh Eidelson, “Finally paying for Wal-Mart’s sins: Wage theft settlement yields millions,” Salon, December 16, 2013, source

Josh Eidelson, “Freezing for Wal-Mart: Sub-zero warehouse temperatures spur Indiana work stoppage,” Salon, January 14, 2014, https://www.salon.com/test/2014/01/13/freezing_for_wal_mart_sub_zero_warehouse_temperatures_spur_indiana_work_stoppage/

Josh Eidelson, “Amazon Keeps Unions Out By Keeping Workers in Fear, Says Organizer,” Alternet, January 22, 2014, https://www.alternet.org/2014/01/amazon-keeps-unions-out-keeping-workers-fear-says-organizer/

Nichole Gracely, “‘Being homeless is better than working for Amazon,’” Guardian, November 28, 2014, https://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/nov/28/being-homeless-is-better-than-working-for-amazon

Steven Greenhouse, “The Changing Face of Temporary Employment,” New York Times, August 31, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/01/upshot/the-changing-face-of-temporary-employment.html

Erin Hatton, “The Rise of the Permanent Temp Economy,” New York Times, January 26, 2013, http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/26/the-rise-of-the-permanent-temp-economy/

Simon Head, “Worse than Wal-Mart: Amazon’s sick brutality and secret history of ruthlessly intimidating workers,” Salon, February 23, 2014, https://www.salon.com/control/2014/02/23/worse_than_wal_mart_amazons_sick_brutality_and_secret_history_of_ruthlessly_intimidating_workers/

Paul Jaskunas, “The Tyranny of the Forced Smile,” New York Times, February 14, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/jobs/the-tyranny-of-the-forced-smile.html

Allison Kilkenny, “Ohio Walmart Holds Food Drive For Its Own Employees,” Nation, November 18, 2013, https://www.thenation.com/article/ohio-walmart-holds-food-drive-its-own-employees/

Paul Krugman, “The Plight of the Employed,” New York Times, December 24, 2013, http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/24/the-plight-of-the-employed/

Paul Krugman, “The Fear Economy,” New York Times, December 26, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/27/opinion/krugman-the-fear-economy.html

Danielle Kurtzleben, “Read McDonald’s workers’ shocking harassment and discrimination complaints — and why they’re so important,” Vox, January 22, 2015, https://www.vox.com/2015/1/22/7873661/mcdonalds-lawsuit-harassment-discrimination

Edward McClelland, “You call this a middle class? “I’m trying not to lose my house,’” Salon, March 1, 2014, https://www.salon.com/test/2014/03/01/you_call_this_a_middle_class_i%E2%80%99m_trying_not_to_lose_my_house/

Mac McClelland, “I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave,” Mother Jones, March/April 2012, https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/02/mac-mcclelland-free-online-shipping-warehouses-labor/

Nathaniel Mott, “From Amazon warehouse workers to Google bus drivers, it’s tough working a non-tech job at a tech company,” Pando, October 9, 2014, https://pando.com/2014/10/09/from-amazon-warehouse-workers-to-google-bus-drivers-its-tough-working-a-non-tech-job-at-a-tech-company/

Ari Rabin-Havt, “Wal-Mart flunks its fact-check: The truth behind its sarcastic response to the Times,” Salon, June 25, 2014, https://www.salon.com/control/2014/06/25/walmart_flunks_its_fact_check_the_truth_behind_its_sarcastic_response_to_the_times/

Alex Seitz-Wald, “Amazon is everything wrong with our new economy,” Salon, July 30, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/07/30/amazon_is_everything_wrong_with_our_new_economy/

Alana Semuels, “As employers push efficiency, the daily grind wears down workers,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2013, https://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-harsh-work-20130407-story.html

Alana Semuels, “How the relationship between employers and workers changed,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2013, https://www.latimes.com/business/la-xpm-2013-apr-07-la-fi-mo-harsh-work-history-20130405-story.html

Alana Semuels, “Tougher workplace makes home life worse too,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2013, https://www.latimes.com/business/la-xpm-2013-apr-07-la-fi-mo-harsh-work-history-20130405-story.html

Spencer Soper, “Inside Amazon’s Warehouse,” Lehigh Valley Morning Call, September 18, 2011, https://www.mcall.com/business/mc-xpm-2011-09-18-mc-allentown-amazon-complaints-20110917-story.html

Lindsay Wise, “Report: Temp jobs at all-time high in U.S.,” McClatchy, September 2, 2014, https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/economy/article24772543.html

I wish I could make public the entry where I have all these stories archived. Copyright restrictions obviously inhibit this. But these stories reflect the fire I seek to avoid jumping into from the frying pan.


My book collection

One of the things I didn’t have space for as I was packing my car for the move across country was my book collection. My mother, bless her heart, has been shipping those books to me in packages as large as she could manage. She finished shipping them shortly before Christmas, and somehow, the Postal Service managed not to lose any of the packages.

On my side, there was the problem of acquiring bookcases. Ikea has ones that are great for someone like me who has as many books as I do. But Ikea’s delivery service sucks rocks in Pittsburgh. I went through hell getting both sets of bookshelves delivered. Getting them assembled wasn’t so bad: Task Rabbit, unfortunately of the gig economy, has sent great people to build them. But I wonder, given transportation time, how well it works out for the people who have helped me out enormously.

But now, thankfully, at last, I have my entire book collection here and it is shelved. I can’t tell you what a relief that is.


Hillary Clinton

I’ve said it before: Hillary Clinton needs to shut the fuck up.[6]

So now Tulsi Gabbard is suing her over some ill-considered words that she has refused to retract.[7] Of course, they’ll settle out of court, and then, Clinton will carry on as she always does. Because, accountability? 1) The very idea is misogynistic (that Gabbard is a woman is irrelevant; it’s those Russian men that put her up to it, which in turn suggests that Gabbard’s voice is not her own). And 2) accountability is for the little people. I mean, the impertinence!

Tobias Hoonhout, “Tulsi Gabbard Sues Hillary Clinton for Defamation over ‘Russian Asset’ Comments,” National Review, January 22, 2020, https://www.nationalreview.com/news/tulsi-gabbard-sues-hillary-clinton-for-defamation-over-russian-asset-comments/


WhatsApp

Just don’t use WhatsApp. Don’t.

James Titcomb, “Saudi crown prince ‘hacked Jeff Bezos’s phone with WhatsApp message,’” Telegraph, January 22, 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2020/01/21/saudi-crown-prince-hacked-jeff-bezoss-phone-whatsapp-message/


 

  1. [1]Glenn Greenwald, “Obama’s justice department grants final immunity to Bush’s CIA torturers,” Guardian, August 31, 2012, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/aug/31/obama-justice-department-immunity-bush-cia-torturer; Elizabeth Holtzman, “Statutes of Limitations Are Expiring on Some Bush Crimes,” Nation, March 20, 2013, https://www.thenation.com/article/statutes-limitations-are-expiring-some-bush-crimes/; David Johnston and Charlie Savage, “Obama Reluctant to Look Into Bush Programs,” New York Times, January 11, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/12/us/politics/12inquire.html
  2. [2]Jason M. Breslow, “As Deadlines Loom for Financial Crisis Cases, Prosecutors Weigh Their Options,” Public Broadcasting System, January 22, 2013, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/business-economy-financial-crisis/untouchables/as-deadlines-loom-for-financial-crisis-cases-prosecutors-weigh-their-options/; Jason M. Breslow, “Too Big To Jail? The Top 10 Civil Cases Against the Banks,” Frontline, January 22, 2013, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/business-economy-financial-crisis/untouchables/too-big-to-jail-the-top-10-civil-cases-against-the-banks/; Jason M. Breslow, “Were Bankers Jailed In Past Financial Crises?” Public Broadcasting System, January 22, 2013, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/business-economy-financial-crisis/untouchables/were-bankers-jailed-in-past-financial-crises/; David Dayen, “Wall Street wins again,” Salon, February 13, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/02/13/wall_street_wins_again/; Frontline, “Phil Angelides: Enforcement of Wall St. is ‘Woefully Broken’,” Public Broadcasting System, January 22, 2013, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/business-economy-financial-crisis/untouchables/phil-angelides-enforcement-of-wall-st-is-woefully-broken/; Frontline, “Ted Kaufman: Wall Street Prosecutions Never Made a Priority,” Public Broadcasting System, January 22, 2013, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/business-economy-financial-crisis/untouchables/ted-kaufman-wall-street-prosecutions-never-made-a-priority/; Office of the Inspector General Audit Division, “Audit of the Department of Justice’s Efforts to Address Mortgage Fraud,” U. S. Department of Justice, March 2014, http://www.justice.gov/oig/reports/2014/a1412.pdf; Barry Ritholz, “Why Prosecutors Whiffed on Subprime Crime,” Bloomberg View, March 14, 2014, http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-03-14/why-prosecutors-whiffed-on-subprime-crime; David Sirota, “Are banks too big to jail?” Salon, January 23, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/01/23/are_banks_too_big_to_jail/; David Sirota, “Barack Obama, Wall Street co-conspirator,” Salon, January 29, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/01/29/barack_obama_wall_street_co_conspirator/;
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Dickens redux,” Not Housebroken, August 3, 2011, https://disunitedstates.org/2011/08/03/dickens-redux/
  4. [4]Daniel D’Addario, “Amazon is worse than Walmart,” Salon, July 30, 2013, https://www.salon.com/control/2013/07/30/how_amazon_is_worse_than_wal_mart/; Timothy Egan, “The Corporate Daddy,” New York Times, June 19, 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/20/opinion/timothy-egan-walmart-starbucks-and-the-fight-against-inequality.html; Josh Eidelson, “Wal-Mart faces warehouse horror allegations and federal Labor Board complaint,” Salon, November 19, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/11/18/breaking_wal_mart_faces_warehouse_horror_allegations_and_federal_labor_board_complaint/; Josh Eidelson, “Tens of thousands protest, over 100 arrested in Black Friday challenge to Wal-Mart,” Salon, November 30, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/11/30/tens_of_thousands_protest_over_100_arrested_in_black_friday_challenge_to_wal_mart/; Josh Eidelson, “Finally paying for Wal-Mart’s sins: Wage theft settlement yields millions,” Salon, December 16, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/12/16/finally_paying_for_wal_marts_sins_wage_theft_settlement_yields_millions/; Josh Eidelson, “Freezing for Wal-Mart: Sub-zero warehouse temperatures spur Indiana work stoppage,” Salon, January 14, 2014, https://www.salon.com/test/2014/01/13/freezing_for_wal_mart_sub_zero_warehouse_temperatures_spur_indiana_work_stoppage/; Josh Eidelson, “Amazon Keeps Unions Out By Keeping Workers in Fear, Says Organizer,” Alternet, January 22, 2014, https://www.alternet.org/2014/01/amazon-keeps-unions-out-keeping-workers-fear-says-organizer/; Nichole Gracely, “‘Being homeless is better than working for Amazon,’” Guardian, November 28, 2014, https://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/nov/28/being-homeless-is-better-than-working-for-amazon; Steven Greenhouse, “The Changing Face of Temporary Employment,” New York Times, August 31, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/01/upshot/the-changing-face-of-temporary-employment.html; Erin Hatton, “The Rise of the Permanent Temp Economy,” New York Times, January 26, 2013, http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/26/the-rise-of-the-permanent-temp-economy/; Simon Head, “Worse than Wal-Mart: Amazon’s sick brutality and secret history of ruthlessly intimidating workers,” Salon, February 23, 2014, https://www.salon.com/control/2014/02/23/worse_than_wal_mart_amazons_sick_brutality_and_secret_history_of_ruthlessly_intimidating_workers/; Paul Jaskunas, “The Tyranny of the Forced Smile,” New York Times, February 14, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/jobs/the-tyranny-of-the-forced-smile.html; Allison Kilkenny, “Ohio Walmart Holds Food Drive For Its Own Employees,” Nation, November 18, 2013, https://www.thenation.com/article/ohio-walmart-holds-food-drive-its-own-employees/; Paul Krugman, “The Plight of the Employed,” New York Times, December 24, 2013, http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/24/the-plight-of-the-employed/; Paul Krugman, “The Fear Economy,” New York Times, December 26, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/27/opinion/krugman-the-fear-economy.html; Danielle Kurtzleben, “Read McDonald’s workers’ shocking harassment and discrimination complaints — and why they’re so important,” Vox, January 22, 2015, https://www.vox.com/2015/1/22/7873661/mcdonalds-lawsuit-harassment-discrimination; Edward McClelland, “You call this a middle class? “I’m trying not to lose my house,’” Salon, March 1, 2014, https://www.salon.com/test/2014/03/01/you_call_this_a_middle_class_i%E2%80%99m_trying_not_to_lose_my_house/; Mac McClelland, “I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave,” Mother Jones, March/April 2012, https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/02/mac-mcclelland-free-online-shipping-warehouses-labor/; Nathaniel Mott, “From Amazon warehouse workers to Google bus drivers, it’s tough working a non-tech job at a tech company,” Pando, October 9, 2014, https://pando.com/2014/10/09/from-amazon-warehouse-workers-to-google-bus-drivers-its-tough-working-a-non-tech-job-at-a-tech-company/; Marc Pilisuk with Jennifer Achord Rountree, Who Benefits From Global Violence and War (Westport, CT: Praeger Security International, 2008).; Ari Rabin-Havt, “Wal-Mart flunks its fact-check: The truth behind its sarcastic response to the Times,” Salon, June 25, 2014, https://www.salon.com/control/2014/06/25/walmart_flunks_its_fact_check_the_truth_behind_its_sarcastic_response_to_the_times/; Alex Seitz-Wald, “Amazon is everything wrong with our new economy,” Salon, July 30, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/07/30/amazon_is_everything_wrong_with_our_new_economy/; Alana Semuels, “As employers push efficiency, the daily grind wears down workers,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2013, https://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-harsh-work-20130407-story.html; Alana Semuels, “How the relationship between employers and workers changed,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2013, https://www.latimes.com/business/la-xpm-2013-apr-07-la-fi-mo-harsh-work-history-20130405-story.html; Alana Semuels, “Tougher workplace makes home life worse too,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2013, https://www.latimes.com/business/la-xpm-2013-apr-07-la-fi-mo-harsh-work-history-20130405-story.html; Spencer Soper, “Inside Amazon’s Warehouse,” Lehigh Valley Morning Call, September 18, 2011, https://www.mcall.com/business/mc-xpm-2011-09-18-mc-allentown-amazon-complaints-20110917-story.html; Lindsay Wise, “Report: Temp jobs at all-time high in U.S.,” McClatchy, September 2, 2014, https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/economy/article24772543.html
  5. [5]Daniel Altman, Neoconomy (New York: PublicAffairs, 2004); Mark Blyth, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University, 2013); Daniel Stedman Jones, Masters of the Universe (Princeton, NJ, Princeton University, 2012).
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Hillary Clinton needs to just shut the fuck up,” Not Housebroken, October 22, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/10/22/hillary-clinton-needs-to-just-shut-the-fuck-up/
  7. [7]Tobias Hoonhout, “Tulsi Gabbard Sues Hillary Clinton for Defamation over ‘Russian Asset’ Comments,” National Review, January 22, 2020, https://www.nationalreview.com/news/tulsi-gabbard-sues-hillary-clinton-for-defamation-over-russian-asset-comments/

For-profit accreditation scammers scamming

For-profit schools

The following two statements, both attributed to the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools and quoted directly from the article, very likely contradict each other:

“To the contrary, we [the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools] believe strongly that the information the agency submitted with its recognition application – both narrative and evidence – satisfies any reasonable interpretation of [the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s] standards,” the accrediting agency said in its letter to CHEA.

ACICS said it had significant concerns about CHEA’s recognition process and about “its ongoing implementation of several new policies.” The agency said it plans to reapply at a later date.[1]

Unfortunately,

Recognition by CHEA isn’t necessary for an accreditor to oversee federal aid eligibility. But approval by the association can affect decisions by state authorizers, specialized accrediting agencies, licensing boards and some institutional authorities in other countries.[2]

Financial aid is, of course, what keeps for-profit schools in business. And that’s precisely what makes them a scam. And it’s awfully fishy that Betsy DeVos loves them so.

Paul Fain, “For-Profit Accreditor Drops Recognition Bid,” Inside Higher Ed, January 20, 2020, https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2020/01/20/profit-accreditor-drops-recognition-bid


Pittsburgh

Ryan Deto, “The displacement of Anthony Hardison from his Lawrenceville apartment is a microcosm of a neighborhood epidemic,” Pittsburgh City Paper, January 15, 2020, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/the-displacement-of-anthony-hardison-from-his-lawrenceville-apartment-is-a-microcosm-of-a-neighborhood-epidemic/Content?oid=16556108

Ollie Gratzinger, “Allegheny County issues another fine to US Steel for air pollution violation,” Pittsburgh City Paper, January 17, 2020, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/allegheny-county-issues-another-fine-to-us-steel-for-air-pollution-violation/Content?oid=16576925


  1. [1]Paul Fain, “For-Profit Accreditor Drops Recognition Bid,” Inside Higher Ed, January 20, 2020, https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2020/01/20/profit-accreditor-drops-recognition-bid
  2. [2]Paul Fain, “For-Profit Accreditor Drops Recognition Bid,” Inside Higher Ed, January 20, 2020, https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2020/01/20/profit-accreditor-drops-recognition-bid