Good Ol’ Boy

Joe Biden

What’s harder to shake is the fact that Hunter Biden’s career is undeniably shady in the way that only the son of a longtime Washington insider could muster, failing upwards into positions of influence and power on the merits of his last name.[1]

Ordinarily, I’m not into dragging family members into political discourse. Even Jimmy Carter had a brother. But . . . .

David Von Drehle begins to put a finger on it.[2] What we’re seeing is that Joe Biden seemingly thinks it’s just fine for his son to take a job in Ukraine, a country which has plenty of problems already, that doesn’t require him to do anything and that pays lots of money. As if that wasn’t some sort of attempt to gain favor with a powerful U.S.
politician.[3] It’s really the same arrogant assumption of privilege as the “touchy feely” misogyny.[4] It’s really the same arrogance that says we should overlook his racism.[5] And it’s really the same arrogance that says we should overlook when they’re even rolled up together.[6] It’s the notion that he’s a powerful white man entitled to hold over from an earlier era and that we should treat his faults as insignificant because he’s entitled. And he’s entitled even to enable his son’s corruption.

It’s just all supposed to be okay. Every last stinking slimey bit of it.

David Von Drehle, “The Hunter Biden story is a troubling tale of privilege,” Washington Post, October 4, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-hunter-biden-story-is-a-troubling-tale-of-privilege/2019/10/04/8ad20988-e46e-11e9-b403-f738899982d2_story.html

Kate Aronoff, “We need to talk about Hunter Biden,” Guardian, October 5, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/oct/05/we-need-to-talk-about-hunter-biden


Recession

My list of reasons for worrying about a recession[7] gets an additional article. Some of it—I think only some of it[8]—rehashes earlier worries.

Tim Wallace, “Six bubbles that could cause chaos in the global economy,” Telegraph, October 7, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/10/07/six-bubbles-could-cause-chaos-global-economy/


  1. [1]Kate Aronoff, “We need to talk about Hunter Biden,” Guardian, October 5, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/oct/05/we-need-to-talk-about-hunter-biden
  2. [2]David Von Drehle, “The Hunter Biden story is a troubling tale of privilege,” Washington Post, October 4, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-hunter-biden-story-is-a-troubling-tale-of-privilege/2019/10/04/8ad20988-e46e-11e9-b403-f738899982d2_story.html
  3. [3]Adam Entous, “Will Hunter Biden Jeopardize His Father’s Campaign?” New Yorker, July 1, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/07/08/will-hunter-biden-jeopardize-his-fathers-campaign
  4. [4]David Benfell, “Joe Biden blows his #MeToo moment,” Not Housebroken, April 5, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/04/05/joe-biden-blows-his-metoo-moment/; Brett Samuels, “Biden: ‘I’m not sorry for anything that I have ever done,’” Hill, April 5, 2019, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/437582-biden-im-not-sorry-for-anything-that-i-have-ever-done
  5. [5]Mark Z. Barabak, “Seven takeaways from Democratic debate Night 2: Sparks from Biden and Harris, honesty from Buttigieg,” Los Angeles Times, June 27, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-2020-democratic-debate-miami-takeaways-20190627-story.html; Stephen Collinson, “Joe Biden gets in his own way on race,” CNN, June 20, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/20/politics/joe-biden-race-2020-election/index.html; Stephen Collinson, “Joe Biden throws own campaign into turmoil after Harris attacks his record on race,” CNN, June 28, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/28/politics/first-democratic-debate-night-2-analysis/index.html; Scott Detrow, “Democrats Blast Biden For Recalling ‘Civil’ Relationship With Segregationists,” CNN, June 19, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/06/19/734103488/democrats-blast-biden-for-recalling-civil-relationship-with-segregationists; Maeve Reston, “Harris’ attack on Joe Biden steals spotlight at Democratic primary debate,” CNN, June 28, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/27/politics/democratic-primary-debate-night-two-joe-biden-bernie-sanders-kamala-harris/index.html; Greg Sargent, “Joe Biden is badly undermining his ability to challenge Trump,” Washington Post, June 20, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/06/20/joe-biden-is-badly-undermining-his-case-against-trump/; Matt Viser and Sean Sullivan, “Biden faces backlash over comments about the ‘civility’ of his past work with racist senators,” Washington Post, June 19, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-faces-backlash-over-comments-about-the-civility-of-his-past-work-with-racist-senators/2019/06/19/c0375d2a-92a8-11e9-b58a-a6a9afaa0e3e_story.html
  6. [6]Elise Viebeck, “Joe Biden was in charge of the Anita Hill hearing. Even he says it wasn’t fair,” Washington Post, April 26, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/joe-biden-was-in-charge-of-the-anita-hill-hearing-even-he-says-it-wasnt-fair/2019/04/26/a9a6f384-6500-11e9-82ba-fcfeff232e8f_story.html
  7. [7]Aaron Back, “Another Recession Sign to Ignore at Your Peril,” Wall Street Journal, September 3, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/another-recession-sign-to-ignore-at-your-peril-11567530230; 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/; Ruth Simon, Megumi Fujikawa, and Paul Hannon, “U.S.-China Trade War’s Global Impact Grows,” Wall Street Journal, September 2, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-china-trade-wars-global-impact-grows-11567466809; 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
  8. [8]Tim Wallace, “Six bubbles that could cause chaos in the global economy,” Telegraph, October 7, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/10/07/six-bubbles-could-cause-chaos-global-economy/

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

Owned

Migration

There is a new blog post entitled, “Owning the libtards.”

Analysts say the public charge change [announced August 12] could dramatically reduce family-based legal immigration to the United States, particularly from Latin America and Africa, where incomes are generally lower than the rest of the world. It also could lead to an increase in deportations, as those present with some form of provisional or temporary immigration status in the United States are denied legal residency.[1]

Abigail Hauslohner et al., “Trump officials move to deny green cards, path to citizenship for poor immigrants,” Washington Post, August 12, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/trump-administration-aims-to-make-citizenship-more-difficult-for-immigrants-who-rely-on-public-assistance/2019/08/12/fe3f8162-b565-11e9-8949-5f36ff92706e_story.html

Public Broadcasting System, “Trump administration issues rules to deny green cards for immigrants on food stamps,” August 12, 2019, https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/new-rules-can-deny-green-cards-for-immigrants-on-food-stamps?fbclid=IwAR3ucMIKGcFP9nPmwyvnfib6SfsYY4zV0H-KFvoAEwaiOmgPkHbcLHJ5aOU

Devan Cole, “Cuccinelli rewrites Statue of Liberty poem to make case for limiting immigration,” CNN, August 13, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/13/politics/ken-cuccinelli-statue-of-liberty/index.html


Pittsburgh

Beaver County is getting a Royal Dutch Shell ethylene cracker plant. Because U.S. Steel’s pollution isn’t enough already.[2] And Donald Trump was here to celebrate claim credit for the plant which was announced in 2012.[3]

Do I need to say it? I mean, I get it. It’s been a long, long two and a half years. But Trump was inaugurated in 2017, five years after the plant was announced.[4]

Eric Heyl, “Trump Takes Credit For Plant Announced 5 Years Before Presidency,” Patch, August 13, 2019, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/gt5wi/trump-takes-credit-for-plant-announced-5-years-before-presidency

Eric Heyl, “Trump To Tour Shell Cracker Plant, Protesters Anticipated,” Patch, August 13, 2019, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/gt595/trump-to-tour-shell-cracker-plant-protesters-anticipated


Military

William Astore[5] inspired me to resurrect and update my adaptation of The History Guy’s “American Military History.”[6] My adaptation is in spreadsheet form and is intended to expose the number of calendar years without some sort of U.S. war. The total number remains sixteen; the longest interregnum remains eight. A limitation is that the History Guy uses 1890 as an ending date for the American Indian Wars;[7] some would dispute this. We have been in a continuous state of war (this includes the Cold War from 1945 through 1991) since 1941. The spreadsheet is now available via Google Sheets so I think anyone with a modern web browser (certainly Google Chrome) should be able to view it.

William J. Astore, “In Wars and Weapons We Trust: America’s Militarized Profession of Faith,” TomDispatch, August 13, 2019, http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176596/tomgram%3A_william_astore%2C_military_strength_is_our_national_religion/


My old high school

Carol Pogash, “San Francisco School Board May Save Controversial George Washington Mural,” New York Times, August 10, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/10/arts/san-francisco-murals.html


Jeffrey Epstein

As predicted,[8] heads are rolling at the Metropolitan Correctional Center,[9] presumably making the understaffing problem[10] there worse.

David Shortell, “Warden at prison where Epstein died is temporarily reassigned and staffers placed on leave,” CNN, August 13, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/13/politics/epstein-mcc-warden/index.html


Palestine

You didn’t really think Israel wants a two-state solution, did you? Apparently some U.S. lawmakers made that mistake when they authored and passed an anti-BDS (Boycott, Diversity and Sanction) bill.[11]

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

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/


  1. [1]Abigail Hauslohner et al., “Trump officials move to deny green cards, path to citizenship for poor immigrants,” Washington Post, August 12, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/trump-administration-aims-to-make-citizenship-more-difficult-for-immigrants-who-rely-on-public-assistance/2019/08/12/fe3f8162-b565-11e9-8949-5f36ff92706e_story.html
  2. [2]Jessi Quinn Alperin, “Clairton, PA, wants to be clear: Residents demand accountability from U.S. Steel,” Environmental Health Network, May 13, 2019, https://www.ehn.org/clairton-coke-works-air-pollution-2636784943.html; Eric Heyl, “Trump To Tour Shell Cracker Plant, Protesters Anticipated,” Patch, August 13, 2019, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/gt595/trump-to-tour-shell-cracker-plant-protesters-anticipated; Kris Maher, “Pittsburgh Breathes Easier After Repairs at U.S. Steel Coke Plant,” Wall Street Journal, May 26, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pittsburgh-breathes-easier-after-repairs-at-u-s-steel-coke-plant-11558872000; Kris Maher, “U.S. Steel Suffers New Fire Knocking Out Pollution Controls in Plant Near Pittsburgh,” Wall Street Journal, June 17, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-steel-suffers-new-fire-knocking-out-pollution-controls-in-plant-near-pittsburgh-11560795102
  3. [3]Eric Heyl, “Trump Takes Credit For Plant Announced 5 Years Before Presidency,” Patch, August 13, 2019, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/gt5wi/trump-takes-credit-for-plant-announced-5-years-before-presidency; Eric Heyl, “Trump To Tour Shell Cracker Plant, Protesters Anticipated,” Patch, August 13, 2019, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/gt595/trump-to-tour-shell-cracker-plant-protesters-anticipated
  4. [4]Eric Heyl, “Trump Takes Credit For Plant Announced 5 Years Before Presidency,” Patch, August 13, 2019, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/gt5wi/trump-takes-credit-for-plant-announced-5-years-before-presidency
  5. [5]William J. Astore, “In Wars and Weapons We Trust: America’s Militarized Profession of Faith,” TomDispatch, August 13, 2019, http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176596/tomgram%3A_william_astore%2C_military_strength_is_our_national_religion/
  6. [6]The History Guy, “American Military History,” 2017, https://www.historyguy.com/american_military_history.html
  7. [7]The History Guy, “American Military History,” 2017, https://www.historyguy.com/american_military_history.html
  8. [8]David Benfell, “Jeffrey Epstein almost certainly committed suicide. Not that that will quiet the conspiracy clowns,” Irregular Bullshit, August 12, 2019, https://disunitedstates.com/2019/08/12/jeffrey-epstein-almost-certainly-committed-suicide-not-that-that-will-quiet-the-conspiracy-clowns/
  9. [9]David Shortell, “Warden at prison where Epstein died is temporarily reassigned and staffers placed on leave,” CNN, August 13, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/13/politics/epstein-mcc-warden/index.html
  10. [10]Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, “Corrections officers did not check on Epstein for ‘several’ hours before his death, violating protocol, person familiar with case says,” Washington Post, August 11, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/it-was-inevitable-officers-watching-epstein-were-on-overtime-due-to-jail-staffing-shortage-union-president-says/2019/08/11/2b611404-bc5e-11e9-a5c6-1e74f7ec4a93_story.html
  11. [11]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

Jeffrey Epstein almost certainly committed suicide. Not that that will quiet the conspiracy clowns.

Jeffrey Epstein

Jeffrey Epstein’s death looks like suicide though the Federal Bureau of Investigation hasn’t completed its investigation.[1] But, as predicted:[2]

It’s not hard to find more tweets like this on Twitter. Last night I saw one offering to sell me snake oil if I believed it was suicide.

The hell of it is, the first three points in the tweet I quote above are confirmed, albeit in a context of severe understaffing,[3] which means that conspiracy theories surrounding Epstein’s death are better founded than most.

As to the fourth point, “while cameras are prevalent in the facility, [E. O. Young, the national president of the Council of Prison Locals C-33] did not believe they generally captured inmates’ cells.”[4] I’m honestly not sure what to think here: Prisons already dehumanize. Cameras peering into cells would effectively reproduce the panopticon, an especially dystopian form of prison, intensifying that dehumanization.

Meanwhile, William Barr is making clear that it will be the prison, “which long was considered to be among the best-run facilities in the Bureau of Prisons system,” that takes the blame for Epstein’s death,[5] saying “[w]e are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and demand a thorough investigation,”[6] though “[i]n congressional testimony earlier this year, . . . Barr conceded the bureau was ‘short’ about 4,000 or 5,000 employees and said he had lifted the hiring freeze and was trying to ensure a steady pipeline of new officers to replace those who leave.”[7]

Tom Winter, Doha Madani, and Alex Johnson, “After autopsy, cause of Jeffrey Epstein’s death awaits ‘further information;’” NBC News, August 11, 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/investigations/after-autopsy-cause-jeffrey-epstein-s-death-awaits-further-information-n1041216

Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, “Corrections officers did not check on Epstein for ‘several’ hours before his death, violating protocol, person familiar with case says,” Washington Post, August 11, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/it-was-inevitable-officers-watching-epstein-were-on-overtime-due-to-jail-staffing-shortage-union-president-says/2019/08/11/2b611404-bc5e-11e9-a5c6-1e74f7ec4a93_story.html

David Shortell and Evan Perez, “Barr cites ‘failure’ at NYC jail that held Epstein, says ‘co-conspirators’ should not rest easy,” CNN, August 12, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/12/politics/barr-new-york-jail-epstein/index.html


Brexit

It still looks like a hard Brexit.[8] Now, a report from the Institute for Government

said that while a majority of MPs appeared to oppose no deal, they would “need new tactics” to actually block it, given the lack of Brexit-related legislation on to which to tack amendments or new motions, unlike when Theresa May was seeking to pass her deal.

Simply passing motions opposing no deal would not be enough, the report argued, as Johnson’s government has indicated it will not be bound by these. Amending primary legislation would carry more weight, but this would depend on bills being brought to the Commons, which might not happen.

Even what the report called the “nuclear option” of a no-confidence vote against Johnson’s government might not block no deal, the report said, as Johnson could sit out the 14-day period dictated if he lost such a vote, even if a new government seemed viable.

The report said that if an election was called, given a five-week campaign period and a possible week needed to finish parliamentary business before dissolution, it would be very tight to arrange before 31 October.[9]

Which amounts to that the Institute doesn’t know how to stop a hard Brexit either. That’d be the question I asked before.[10] Thanks, Tories for being inexcusably absolute fucking idiots.[11]

Peter Walker, “MPs opposing no-deal Brexit will ‘need new tactics’, report says,” Guardian, August 11, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/11/mps-opposing-no-deal-brexit-will-need-new-tactics-report-says


Ridesharing

Rich Alton argues that since Uber and Lyft rides are essentially interchangeable, and therefore commodities, price is one of the few ways the two companies have to compete. This doesn’t go away with self-driving cars; instead, the temptation to engage in a new price war will, he believes, be irresistible, cutting the companies’ margins to approximately what they are today. They’re unprofitable today, therefore unprofitable even with self-driving cars tomorrow.[12]

I assume the companies would deflect this critique by pointing to their other businesses, things like bike and scooter rentals, and food delivery. But it seems to me that these are “commodities” in the way Alton uses the term as well: What difference whether GrubHub or Uber Eats, really? And even if these other lines are profitable—I haven’t heard one way or the other—if the ridesharing business is doomed to be unprofitable as Alton suggests, then why throw good money after bad by continuing to flog it?

The way one or the other of these companies survives is if one of them goes out of business first, allowing the other to raise prices and widen its margin. Right now, everything I’m seeing points to it being Uber that goes down first.[13] But only just:

[Uber] stock dropped 7.6% to $37.00, falling below its previous low of $37.10 on May 13. Since its debut on the public markets in May, Uber shares have shed about 18% of their value from the company’s IPO price of $45 per share.[14]

In contrast, “[s]hares of Lyft fell 4.9% on Monday.”[15]

But the murmurings of a recession are getting louder.[16] A panic, or even a sudden contagion of clear-sightedness, could take out both of them.

Rich Alton, “Basic economics means Uber and Lyft can’t rely on driverless cars to become profitable,” Marketwatch, August 12, 2019, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/basic-economics-means-uber-and-lyft-cant-rely-on-driverless-cars-to-become-profitable-2019-08-12


  1. [1]Tom Winter, Doha Madani, and Alex Johnson, “After autopsy, cause of Jeffrey Epstein’s death awaits ‘further information;’” NBC News, August 11, 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/investigations/after-autopsy-cause-jeffrey-epstein-s-death-awaits-further-information-n1041216
  2. [2]David Benfell, “Jeffrey Epstein is dead. Send in the conspiracy clowns,” Not Housebroken, August 11, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/11/jeffrey-epstein-is-dead-send-in-the-conspiracy-clowns/
  3. [3]Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, “Corrections officers did not check on Epstein for ‘several’ hours before his death, violating protocol, person familiar with case says,” Washington Post, August 11, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/it-was-inevitable-officers-watching-epstein-were-on-overtime-due-to-jail-staffing-shortage-union-president-says/2019/08/11/2b611404-bc5e-11e9-a5c6-1e74f7ec4a93_story.html
  4. [4]Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, “Corrections officers did not check on Epstein for ‘several’ hours before his death, violating protocol, person familiar with case says,” Washington Post, August 11, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/it-was-inevitable-officers-watching-epstein-were-on-overtime-due-to-jail-staffing-shortage-union-president-says/2019/08/11/2b611404-bc5e-11e9-a5c6-1e74f7ec4a93_story.html
  5. [5]David Shortell and Evan Perez, “Barr cites ‘failure’ at NYC jail that held Epstein, says ‘co-conspirators’ should not rest easy,” CNN, August 12, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/12/politics/barr-new-york-jail-epstein/index.html
  6. [6]William Barr, quoted in David Shortell and Evan Perez, “Barr cites ‘failure’ at NYC jail that held Epstein, says ‘co-conspirators’ should not rest easy,” CNN, August 12, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/12/politics/barr-new-york-jail-epstein/index.html
  7. [7]Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, “Corrections officers did not check on Epstein for ‘several’ hours before his death, violating protocol, person familiar with case says,” Washington Post, August 11, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/it-was-inevitable-officers-watching-epstein-were-on-overtime-due-to-jail-staffing-shortage-union-president-says/2019/08/11/2b611404-bc5e-11e9-a5c6-1e74f7ec4a93_story.html
  8. [8]David Benfell, “A bicycle on a steep downward slope towards a brick wall,” Not Housebroken, August 10, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/10/a-bicycle-on-a-steep-downward-slope-towards-a-brick-wall/
  9. [9]Peter Walker, “MPs opposing no-deal Brexit will ‘need new tactics’, report says,” Guardian, August 11, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/11/mps-opposing-no-deal-brexit-will-need-new-tactics-report-says
  10. [10]David Benfell, “Okay, so really now, assuming they choose to do so, how do the British avoid a hard Brexit?” Not Housebroken, July 26, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/26/okay-so-really-now-assuming-they-choose-to-do-so-how-do-the-british-avoid-a-hard-brexit/
  11. [11]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/; David Benfell, “Tories need their own island, well away from the European Union,” Not Housebroken, August 11, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/11/tories-need-their-own-island-well-away-from-the-european-union/
  12. [12]Rich Alton, “Basic economics means Uber and Lyft can’t rely on driverless cars to become profitable,” Marketwatch, August 12, 2019, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/basic-economics-means-uber-and-lyft-cant-rely-on-driverless-cars-to-become-profitable-2019-08-12
  13. [13]David Benfell, “Watching the ridesharing shit go down the toilet,” Not Housebroken, July 30, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/30/watching-the-ridesharing-shit-go-down-the-toilet/; David Benfell, “Uber appears to be going down,” Not Housebroken, August 11, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/11/uber-appears-to-be-going-down/
  14. [14]Annie Palmer, “Uber falls to all-time low as investors grow more skeptical,” CNBC, August 12, 2019, https://www.cnbc.com/2019/08/12/uber-stock-falls-to-all-time-low-as-investors-grow-more-skeptical.html
  15. [15]Annie Palmer, “Uber falls to all-time low as investors grow more skeptical,” CNBC, August 12, 2019, https://www.cnbc.com/2019/08/12/uber-stock-falls-to-all-time-low-as-investors-grow-more-skeptical.html
  16. [16]David Benfell, “Forsaken,” Irregular Bullshit, August 9, 2019, https://disunitedstates.com/2019/08/09/forsaken/; 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

Uber going down

Ridesharing

There is a new blog post entitled, “Uber appears to be going down.”

Timothy B. Lee, “Uber, losing billions, freezes engineering hires,” Ars Technica, August 9, 2019, https://arstechnica.com/cars/2019/08/uber-freezes-engineering-hires-amid-mounting-losses/


Jeffrey Epstein

There is another new blog post entitled “Jeffrey Epstein is dead. Send in the conspiracy clowns.

Morgan Krakow, Hannah Knowles, and Marisa Iati, “‘We need answers. Lots of them.’ What’s known and what’s next after Jeffrey Epstein’s death,” Washington Post, August 10, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/08/10/we-need-answers-lots-them-whats-known-whats-next-after-jeffrey-epsteins-death/

Matt Zapotosky et al., “Jeffrey Epstein dead after ‘apparent suicide’ in New York,” Washington Post, August 10, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/jeffrey-epstein-kills-himself-in-jail-according-to-media-reports/2019/08/10/a3d48862-bb73-11e9-b3b4-2bb69e8c4e39_story.html

Jeremy Diamond, “Trump promotes Epstein-Clintons conspiracy theory, the latest in a pattern of baseless claims spread by President,” CNN, August 11, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/11/politics/jeffrey-epstein-trump-conspiracy-theory-clintons/index.html


Brexit

There is yet another new blog post entitled, “Tories need their own island, well away from the European Union.”

Michael Savage and Daniel Boffey, “No-deal Brexit spells calamity for union, warns Gordon Brown,” Guardian, August 10, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/10/gordon-brown-says-no-deal-brexit-would-be-calamity-for-united-kingdom