Look at all the flawed Bernie Sanders comparisons

Bernie Sanders

It’s a little worrying to see Bernie Sanders assume frontrunner status. Not because I oppose him—on the contrary, he’s the least awful major party candidate, even if he’s still to my right—but rather to see how it’s all playing. I probably just have some learning to do.

One thing that worries me is the comparisons. Some are pretty obviously to be expected. All are dismaying.

I started off last night with David Roth’s extraordinarily well-written takedown of Donald Trump, of Democratic Party “centrists,” and of comparisons between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump,[1] which for completeness’ sake, I’m including below. In this category, we can now add the accusation that Russians are supporting Bernie Sanders, which I address in a new blog post entitled, “Attacking the man for who supports him.”

This morning, I’ve found a couple more bullshit comparisons, one from a few days ago of a billionaire comparing Sanders to the Coronavirus,[2] and another comparing him to George McGovern, who lost in a landslide to Richard Nixon in 1972.[3] The former article simply reports the comparison; the latter rebuts it. I also briefly address the former in that new blog post (see the part about capitalist libertarians).

Gotta tell you, these comparisons just ain’t looking good.

Bess Levin, “Cranky Billionaire Warns Bernie Sanders is ‘a Bigger Threat than the Coronavirus,’” Vanity Fair, February 18, 2020, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/02/leon-cooperman-bernie-sanders-coronavirus

Shane Harris et al., “Bernie Sanders briefed by U.S. officials that Russia is trying to help his presidential campaign,” Washington Post, February 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/bernie-sanders-briefed-by-us-officials-that-russia-is-trying-to-help-his-presidential-campaign/2020/02/21/5ad396a6-54bd-11ea-929a-64efa7482a77_story.html

David Roth, “Bernie Sanders Is No Donald Trump,” New Republic, February 21, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/156639/bernie-sanders-no-donald-trump

Ed Kilgore, “Why Bernie Is Not George McGovern and 2020 Isn’t 1972,” New York, February 22, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/02/why-bernie-is-not-george-mcgovern-and-2020-isnt-1972.html


Pennsylvania

WTAE, “New bill to legalize recreational marijuana unveiled by state lawmaker from Pittsburgh,” February 20, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/recreational-marijuana-bill-pittsburgh-state-rep-jake-wheatley/31025380


  1. [1]David Roth, “Bernie Sanders Is No Donald Trump,” New Republic, February 21, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/156639/bernie-sanders-no-donald-trump
  2. [2]Bess Levin, “Cranky Billionaire Warns Bernie Sanders is ‘a Bigger Threat than the Coronavirus,’” Vanity Fair, February 18, 2020, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/02/leon-cooperman-bernie-sanders-coronavirus
  3. [3]Ed Kilgore, “Why Bernie Is Not George McGovern and 2020 Isn’t 1972,” New York, February 22, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/02/why-bernie-is-not-george-mcgovern-and-2020-isnt-1972.html

The surprise that anyone is surprised

There is a new blog post entitled, “A tipping point.”


Michael Bloomberg

I think what I find most surprising is that anyone is surprised by what happened to Michael Bloomberg last night. A close second would be that Elizabeth Warren was so disproportionately a heavy hitter in the attack.[1]

Amy Davidson Sorkin, “A Very Bad Night For Michael Bloomberg in a Chaotic Democratic Debate,” New Yorker, February 20, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/a-very-bad-night-for-michael-bloomberg-in-a-chaotic-democratic-debate


Roger Stone

Jennifer Rubin praises U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s sentencing of Roger Stone effusively,[2] but neglects that the sentence Jackson handed down fell within the range specified in the Department of Justice’s revised recommendation.[3]

Jennifer Rubin, “Roger Stone’s sentencing shows what the ‘rule of law’ is all about,” Washington Post, February 20, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/20/roger-stones-sentencing-shows-what-rule-law-is-all-about/

Paul Waldman, “Roger Stone just got 40 months. Get ready for what Trump will do next,” Washington Post, February 20, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/20/roger-stone-just-got-40-months-get-ready-what-trump-will-do-next/

Rachel Weiner et al., “Roger Stone sentenced to three years and four months in prison, as Trump predicts ‘exoneration’ for his friend,” Washington Post, February 20, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/roger-stone-sentence-due-thursday-in-federal-court/2020/02/19/2e01bfc8-4c38-11ea-9b5c-eac5b16dafaa_story.html


  1. [1]Amy Davidson Sorkin, “A Very Bad Night For Michael Bloomberg in a Chaotic Democratic Debate,” New Yorker, February 20, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/a-very-bad-night-for-michael-bloomberg-in-a-chaotic-democratic-debate
  2. [2]Jennifer Rubin, “Roger Stone’s sentencing shows what the ‘rule of law’ is all about,” Washington Post, February 20, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/20/roger-stones-sentencing-shows-what-rule-law-is-all-about/
  3. [3]Rachel Weiner et al., “Roger Stone sentenced to three years and four months in prison, as Trump predicts ‘exoneration’ for his friend,” Washington Post, February 20, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/roger-stone-sentence-due-thursday-in-federal-court/2020/02/19/2e01bfc8-4c38-11ea-9b5c-eac5b16dafaa_story.html

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/


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/

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

What? You mean cops aren’t allowed to be ‘original’ or ‘creative?’

Qualified immunity

Just remember, they’re all, each and every one of them, “cop haters:”

The centerpiece of Cato’s strategic campaign to take down qualified immunity has been a series of targeted amicus briefs urging the Supreme Court to reverse its precedents and eliminate the doctrine outright. Since launching the campaign in March 2018, Cato has filed dozens of additional amicus briefs in our own name, but we have also organized a massive cross‐​ideological alliance of public interest groups opposed to qualified immunity — what Judge Don Willett recently called “perhaps the most diverse amici ever assembled.”[1]

To the extent I’m understanding this correctly, qualified immunity enables “rights‐​violating police and other government officials” to do whatever the fuck they please as long as they haven’t been explicitly told they can’t do it.

Judge Don Willett, a Trump appointee to the Fifth Circuit, has explained how “[t]o some observers, qualified immunity smacks of unqualified impunity, letting public officials duck consequences for bad behavior — no matter how palpably unreasonable — as long as they were the first to behave badly,” and sharply notes that “this entrenched, judge‐​created doctrine excuses constitutional violations by limiting the statute Congress passed to redress constitutional violations.”[2]

But originality counts! Doesn’t it?

I’m not a fan of the Cato Institute. They’re capitalist libertarians, that is, what neoliberals were before they got into power and became even worse hypocrites.[3]

But something I’ve noted for a long time is that capitalist libertarians are occasionally very, very good on constitutional issues. This might be one of those occasions.

Jay Schweikert and Clark Neily, “As Supreme Court Considers Several Qualified Immunity Cases, A New Ally Joins The Fight,” Cato, January 17, 2020, https://www.cato.org/blog/supreme-court-considers-several-qualified-immunity-cases-new-ally-joins-fight


Iraq and Iran

Capitalist libertarians are also one of a triumvirate of sometimes anti-war conservative tendencies; the other two are paleoconservatives and traditionalist conservatives. Of these, the traditionalists are the most consistent and, truly, scathing. Some paleoconservatives are neo-Nazis and white supremacists, so for at least some of them, race war would be okay and their opposition to war is to foreign war—if you believe in preserving your own segregated society, it hardly makes any sense to involve yourself in other societies. And capitalist libertarians are against war until they think another principle, usually entailing money, is more important.[4]

This article[5] is useful for an explanation of just how it is that Congress ceded the power to start wars to the president:

But, unless you’re willing to go full John Yoo and endorse “the president’s right to start wars,” imminence matters because the constitutional claim has to be based on self‐​defense. Under Article II, the president retains some measure of defensive power, alternately described at the Convention as the power “to repel sudden attacks” or “to repel and not to commence war.” That power reasonably includes the use of force to avert an impending attack not yet begun. But as you move from shooting back, to addressing an immediate threat, to “deterring future Iranian attack plans” — or “re‐​establishing deterrence,” as Pompeo put it this week — the self‐​defense rationale disappears. If the Trump administration wants the general power to target Iranian military commanders as enemy combatants, it should make its case for war to Congress.[6]

The trouble, of course, is that many such “immediate threats” have involved long-running wars: Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, that is, every major military encounter the U.S. has been involved in following World War II. Each of them was ill-advised; not one has ended in anything like victory. They are simply occasions for killing people and for spending vast sums of money on the military rather than for helping people as elites argue violently over which of them will control which territories, the people on those territories, and the resources within those territories. Which is pretty much what war is about.[7]

Gene Healy, “On ‘Imminence’: Absence of Evidence is Evidence of Absence,” Cato, January 17, 2020, https://www.cato.org/blog/imminence-absence-evidence-evidence-absence


Guns

So I was mentioning about paleoconservatives above and the possibility of race war? Fuck, here it is, along with a helping of militia in general:[8]

“The anticipation of violation of gun rights is common among militia groups more broadly — pretty easily seen in all the ‘molon labe’ patches worn by militia folks,” [Sam] Jackson said. (“Molon labe” is a classical Greek phrase meaning “come and take them.”) “Several novels that are important for the group depict war between Americans and the American government that begins with attempts at gun control.”

But beyond civil war, others expected to attend Monday’s rally are explicitly calling for a race war, in which white Americans will kill nonwhite Americans and Jewish people to establish a white ethnostate. Using the term “boogaloo” — a sarcastic reference to the 1980s film Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo that implies a “Civil War 2” of sorts — users of online forums like /pol/ are using Richmond as the impetus for the beginnings of a race war. They use phrases like “fuck all optics,” a reference to the last post shared on the social networking site Gab by the Tree of Life shooter, which has become a motto of sorts for white nationalists.[9]

I’m not seeing this rally so much as the start of a civil war as I am a harbinger of what may yet come. Though some militia movements are white supremacist, I generally associate them with authoritarian populism, and we are in a situation where I fear that the possibility that Donald Trump may be removed from office, either through impeachment or electoral defeat, may indeed provoke a very violent and heavily armed uprising.[10]

Jane Coaston, “The Virginia gun rights rally raising fears of violence, explained,” Vox, January 17, 2020, https://www.vox.com/2020/1/17/21067627/virginia-lobby-day-gun-laws-extremism


Pittsburgh

Winter seemed finally to have arrived. I went out to my car yesterday to find three inches of snow on it. The snowfall amounts were weirdly variable. Even immediately adjacent cars didn’t seem to have that much and I hadn’t been on the road very long when I saw the snow was pretty thin on grass by the Allegheny County Airport. Areas north of the Monongahela and Ohio Rivers seemed barely to have received any at all.

There was more snow last night and a warning went up for snow and freezing rain today.[11] These looked to be conditions that would make me pause before going out. But I have no choice: Thinking I was in a bit better shape than it turns out I was, I ordered bookshelves to accommodate the last of my book collection that my mother has been sending me from the west coast (it’s all here now). That’s a hit on my bank accounts.

As it turned out, it was just rain, which melted a lot of the snow that had fallen the last couple nights.

Natasha Lindstrom, “Storm to bring 1 to 5 inches of snow, dangerous travel conditions to Western Pa.,” TribLive, January 17, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/storm-to-bring-1-to-5-inches-of-snow-dangerous-travel-conditions-to-western-pa/


Amish

Since coming to Pittsburgh, I’ve been surprised that I haven’t seen more Amish. I expected to at least cross their territory on various trips. I haven’t.

The only time I’ve seen them, it was outside a hospital in Pittsburgh. They were recognizable by their plain dress and were standing around a trash bin, using it as a platform, eating. I don’t know their story.

From what I know of them, stories of normalized rape such as those presented here[12] are most emphatically not the picture they would like the world to have of them. The ethical dilemma for me as a human scientist is two-fold: 1) Of course, these women need support and their assailants should face far harsher penalties than they are; but 2) how do we present Amish society such that it isn’t totalized as rape culture? It isn’t like “English” (the term used by Amish to refer to their non-Amish neighbors) society has such a wonderful a track record either.

Sarah McClure, “The Amish Keep to Themselves. And They’re Hiding a Horrifying Secret,” Cosmopolitan, January 14, 2020, https://www.cosmopolitan.com/lifestyle/a30284631/amish-sexual-abuse-incest-me-too/


Gig economy

Some things are a little too close to home. There is a substantial strain of capitalist libertarianism among denizens, especially the richer ones, of Silicon Valley. What we see with the “Silicon Valley Economy,” the gig economy, is the outcome of capitalist libertarians being absolutely certain they can get their way and acting accordingly.

My guess is that California’s AB 5 is a harbinger of what’s to come.[13] It may not appear in precisely that form everywhere, but it will appear in something like that form in enough places that the non-viability of companies that rely on misclassification of workers will be pushed even further.[14] But it’s going to take a while. And in the meantime, these capitalist libertarians will continue to be self-righteous as they extract ever more wealth from a very raw deal for workers.

Lia Russell, “The Silicon Valley Economy Is Here. And It’s a Nightmare,” New Republic, January 16, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/156202/silicon-valley-economy-here-its-nightmare


  1. [1]Jay Schweikert and Clark Neily, “As Supreme Court Considers Several Qualified Immunity Cases, A New Ally Joins The Fight,” Cato, January 17, 2020, https://www.cato.org/blog/supreme-court-considers-several-qualified-immunity-cases-new-ally-joins-fight
  2. [2]Jay Schweikert and Clark Neily, “As Supreme Court Considers Several Qualified Immunity Cases, A New Ally Joins The Fight,” Cato, January 17, 2020, https://www.cato.org/blog/supreme-court-considers-several-qualified-immunity-cases-new-ally-joins-fight
  3. [3]Capitalist libertarians have the oh-so-cute notion in which political power is a “threat to liberty” but never economic power. Neoliberals circumscribe that to declare that labor power is a “threat to liberty,” but never corporate power or the power of whomever can shovel the most money at, well, especially, the Clinton Foundation. Neoliberals think political power is great for deregulation, reducing taxes, and eviscerating the social safety net in the name of balancing the budget. They gain support from neoconservatives, who view neoliberalism as a moral imperative, in part because they never suggest that the military should be cut and mainly because capitalism is part of the Amerikkkan Way, the system which neoconservatives believe is universally best for all people everywhere and which they therefore believe must be aggressively and proactively “defended” from even the most remote challenges. David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126); see also David Benfell, “The larger question of California’s AB 5,” Not Housebroken, September 14, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/09/14/the-larger-question-of-californias-ab-5/
  4. [4]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  5. [5]Gene Healy, “On ‘Imminence’: Absence of Evidence is Evidence of Absence,” Cato, January 17, 2020, https://www.cato.org/blog/imminence-absence-evidence-evidence-absence
  6. [6]Gene Healy, “On ‘Imminence’: Absence of Evidence is Evidence of Absence,” Cato, January 17, 2020, https://www.cato.org/blog/imminence-absence-evidence-evidence-absence
  7. [7]David Benfell, “We ‘need to know how it works,’” Not Housebroken, March 19, 2012, https://disunitedstates.org/2012/03/19/we-need-to-know-how-it-works/
  8. [8]Jane Coaston, “The Virginia gun rights rally raising fears of violence, explained,” Vox, January 17, 2020, https://www.vox.com/2020/1/17/21067627/virginia-lobby-day-gun-laws-extremism
  9. [9]Jane Coaston, “The Virginia gun rights rally raising fears of violence, explained,” Vox, January 17, 2020, https://www.vox.com/2020/1/17/21067627/virginia-lobby-day-gun-laws-extremism
  10. [10]David Benfell, “The least violent solution,” Not Housebroken, December 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/16/the-least-violent-solution/
  11. [11]Natasha Lindstrom, “Storm to bring 1 to 5 inches of snow, dangerous travel conditions to Western Pa.,” TribLive, January 17, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/storm-to-bring-1-to-5-inches-of-snow-dangerous-travel-conditions-to-western-pa/
  12. [12]Sarah McClure, “The Amish Keep to Themselves. And They’re Hiding a Horrifying Secret,” Cosmopolitan, January 14, 2020, https://www.cosmopolitan.com/lifestyle/a30284631/amish-sexual-abuse-incest-me-too/
  13. [13]David Benfell, “The larger question of California’s AB 5,” Not Housebroken, September 14, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/09/14/the-larger-question-of-californias-ab-5/
  14. [14]David Benfell, “Time for the gig economy to grow up,” Not Housebroken, August 30, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/30/time-for-the-gig-economy-to-grow-up/

Violence

There are two new blog posts from December 28th:


Paleoconservatism

Faithful readers of my blog know that I’m finding signs of and hearing about a militia movement, which I think likely to be white supremacist, entirely too close to home in Pittsburgh.[1] I didn’t find this article in New York[2] until today on Apple News.

I honestly don’t know what to do. A large part of my problem is the sheer scale of gun nuttery in Pennsylvania and the fact that it is almost certainly connected to racism[3] frankly makes me hang my head in shame.

For me, even without a single shot being fired, this is violence. The violence is directed at Blacks but, in perceiving it, I feel again all the unfair violence I endured as a child[4] that has been exacerbated by my experience with the job market as an adult.[5] And I feel it again as I am subject to the aggressive driving of (mostly) young white men in testosterone trucks while driving for Uber and Lyft.[6]

Whites assert their power with impunity here and I recall all the violence waged with that same impunity against me. I am traumatized again.

Claudia Rankine with James D. Walsh, “This Is America,” New York, December 19, 2019, http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/12/white-supremacy-terrorism-in-america-2019.html


  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/
  2. [2]Claudia Rankine with James D. Walsh, “This Is America,” New York, December 19, 2019, http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/12/white-supremacy-terrorism-in-america-2019.html
  3. [3]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/
  4. [4]I was physically abused by my father, but also, I was relentlessly bullied by other children in school. I recognize the experience that C. J. Pascoe describes in Dude, You’re a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School (Berkeley: University of California, 2007), in which boys enforce social conformity with the ‘fag’ epithet regardless of the victim’s sexual orientation, decades later, in another place, as if it were my own.
  5. [5]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Pittsburgh driving for the uninitiated,” Irregular Bullshit, n.d., https://disunitedstates.com/pittsburgh-driving-for-the-uninitiated/

Weep for those poor, suffering, picked-on billionaires

Pittsburgh

It’s been unseasonably warm in Pittsburgh. The thermometer in my dashboard said it reached 60° Fahrenheit. It’s been fifty years since I saw a Pittsburgh winter, but I sure don’t remember this.

It was cooler earlier this week, but most of the snow from last week had melted, so folks in Clairton experienced a smoggy, rather than a white Christmas.[1]

Teghan Simonton, “Health department: Air pollution in Mon Valley exceeded federal levels over Christmas,” TribLive, December 27, 2019, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/health-department-air-pollution-in-mon-valley-exceeded-federal-levels-over-christmas/


Entitlement

In an end-of-decade[2] piece, Helaine Olen has quite the parade of billionaires whining about how the world is so, so cruel to them, replete with Nazi metaphors,[3] of course, because, I guess, they think they’re in some kind of a competition with Jews in the Holocaust. (And no, I haven’t seen anyone complain that this ludicrously false analogy—no one has seriously, no matter how seriously tempted, proposed a similar treatment to Jews in the Holocaust for capitalist thieves who in fact do far more damage and kill far more people than the folks we do put to death[4]—is anti-Semitic, which maybe they should.[5]) Olen didn’t even include the examples in my own collection: Susanne Klatten and Stefan Quandt,[6] Tom Perkins,[7] and, albeit in 2009, Lloyd Blankfein.[8] But never fear, they have their luxury bunkers to hide out in[9] should any actual move to line them up against the wall materialize.

Helaine Olen, “The decade of the billionaire victim,” Washington Post, December 26, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/12/26/decade-billionaire-victim/


  1. [1]KDKA, “‘It’s Making Clairton Sick’: Poor Air Quality Impacting Clairton, Liberty Areas,” December 23, 2019, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2019/12/23/air-quality-impacting-clairton-liberty-areas/; Teghan Simonton, “Health department: Air pollution in Mon Valley exceeded federal levels over Christmas,” TribLive, December 27, 2019, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/health-department-air-pollution-in-mon-valley-exceeded-federal-levels-over-christmas/
  2. [2]I’m confused. Centuries end in years ending with 00, apparently because there is a year one, but no year zero, yet decades end in years ending with 9? Apparently all this is still in dispute: Merriam-Webster, “Centuries and How to Refer to Them,” n.d., https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/centuries-and-how-to-refer-to-them
  3. [3]Helaine Olen, “The decade of the billionaire victim,” Washington Post, December 26, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/12/26/decade-billionaire-victim/
  4. [4]Steven E. Barkan, Criminology: A Sociological Understanding, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006); Jeffrey Reiman, The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison, 7th ed. (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2004).
  5. [5]Eric Cortellessa, “Trump tells pro-Israel conference that some US Jews don’t love Israel enough,” Times of Israel, December 8, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/trump-tells-jewish-group-theyll-vote-for-him-to-protect-their-wealth/
  6. [6]Chris Reiter, “BMW Billionaire Heirs Say Their Lives Are Harder Than You Think,” Bloomberg, June 20, 2019, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-20/bmw-billionaire-heirs-say-their-lives-are-harder-than-you-think
  7. [7]Tom Perkins, “Progressive Kristallnacht Coming?” Wall Street Journal, January 24, 2014, https://www.wsj.com/articles/progressive-kristallnacht-coming-1390600169
  8. [8]John Arlidge, “I’m doing ‘God’s work’. Meet Mr Goldman Sachs,” Times, November 8, 2009, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/im-doing-gods-work-meet-mr-goldman-sachs-zflqc78gqs8
  9. [9]Jim Dobson, “Inside the World’s Largest Underground Survival Community: 575 Luxury Bunkers for 5,000 People,” Forbes, October 7, 2016, https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimdobson/2016/10/07/exclusive-look-inside-the-worlds-largest-underground-survival-community-5000-people-575-bunkers/

Impeachment: The bad, the ugly, and the ugly

Impeachment

There is are two new blog posts:

  1. December 15: “The whiteness of impeachment
  2. December 16: “The least violent solution

Jennifer Rubin, “How far can the House go to stop a sham trial?” Washington Post, December 16, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/12/16/how-far-can-house-go-stop-sham-trial/


Homelessness

David G. Savage, “Supreme Court lets stand ruling that protects homeless who sleep on sidewalk,” Los Angeles Times, December 16, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2019-12-16/supreme-court-lets-stand-ruling-that-protects-homeless-who-sleep-on-sidewalk