Elon Musk, the ass

Elon Musk

Elon Musk is an ass after all. Not that he’d ever really not been one, but I’d figured[1] he’d at least come through on N95 masks and ventilators badly needed in the COVID-19 pandemic.[2] I haven’t heard anything bad yet about the masks but the ventilators, well, they are a facepalm moment, another Thai submarine fiasco,[3] as it turns out they’re actually CPAP machines, used to treat sleep apnea, not the sort hospitals can use to treat COVID-19.[4] Will Musk call hospitals and their workers pedophiles like he did with the cave diver who pointed out that the submarine was useless?[5]

Kathryn Krawczyk, “’Ventilators’ donated by Elon Musk can’t be used on coronavirus patients, health officials say,” Week, April 2, 2020, https://theweek.com/speedreads/906406/ventilators-donated-by-elon-musk-cant-used-coronavirus-patients-health-officials-say


Recession

Gig workers promised relief through the unemployment insurance system are going to have to wait. Which is something many (including me) can’t do.[6]

In the meantime, some labor activists said, many gig workers remain at risk. Many drivers for ride-hailing apps, for example, cash out their earnings more than once a week, said Moira Muntz, a spokeswoman for the Independent Drivers Guild, a Machinists Union-affiliated group that represents more than 80,000 drivers in New York City. “They’re not even paycheck-to-paycheck — they’re day-to-day,” she said.[7]

The state bureaucracies say they aren’t set up to handle these claims and blame the companies for failing to provide wage data.[8] Undoubtedly, this is all true, but it’s hard not to suspect that some of this is due to indifference: We blame the unemployed for being unemployed, just like we blame the poor for being poor[9] and the sick for being sick (see our healthcare system).

Tony Romm, “Uber drivers and other gig economy workers were promised unemployment benefits. It may be a long wait,” Washington Post, April 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/02/uber-airbnb-lyft-unemployment-coronavirus/


  1. [1]David Benfell, “Elon Musk, groan, again,” Not Housebroken, April 4, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/03/22/elon-musk-groan-again/
  2. [2]Sydney Brownstone and Brendan Kiley, “50,000 N95 masks delivered to UW researcher’s home thanks to Elon Musk, Tesla,” Seattle Times, March 22, 2020, https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/truckload-of-50000-n95-masks-headed-to-uw-researchers-home-thanks-to-elon-musk-tesla/; Steve Hanley, “Tesla Cuts Jobs In Nevada, Sends Ventilators To New York,” Clean Technica, March 29, 2020, https://cleantechnica.com/2020/03/29/tesla-cuts-jobs-in-nevada-sends-ventilators-to-new-york/; Zachary Shahan, “Elon Musk: Should Have 1000 Ventilators Next Week, + 250,000 N95 Masks For Hospitals Tomorrow,” CleanTechnica, March 21, 2020, https://cleantechnica.com/2020/03/21/elon-musk-should-have-1000-ventilators-next-week-250k-n95-masks-for-hospitals-tomorrow-cleantechnica-exclusive/;
  3. [3]Li Zhou, “Elon Musk and the Thai cave rescue: a tale of good intentions and bad tweets,” Vox, July 18, 2018, https://www.vox.com/2018/7/18/17576302/elon-musk-thai-cave-rescue-submarine
  4. [4]Kathryn Krawczyk, “’Ventilators’ donated by Elon Musk can’t be used on coronavirus patients, health officials say,” Week, April 2, 2020, https://theweek.com/speedreads/906406/ventilators-donated-by-elon-musk-cant-used-coronavirus-patients-health-officials-say
  5. [5]Tim Higgins, “Elon Musk Cleared by Jury in Defamation Case Over ‘Pedo’ Tweet,” Wall Street Journal, December 6, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/elon-musk-cleared-by-jury-in-defamation-case-over-pedo-tweet-11575678498
  6. [6]Tony Romm, “Uber drivers and other gig economy workers were promised unemployment benefits. It may be a long wait,” Washington Post, April 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/02/uber-airbnb-lyft-unemployment-coronavirus/
  7. [7]Tony Romm, “Uber drivers and other gig economy workers were promised unemployment benefits. It may be a long wait,” Washington Post, April 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/02/uber-airbnb-lyft-unemployment-coronavirus/
  8. [8]Tony Romm, “Uber drivers and other gig economy workers were promised unemployment benefits. It may be a long wait,” Washington Post, April 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/02/uber-airbnb-lyft-unemployment-coronavirus/
  9. [9]Thomas M. Shapiro, “Introduction,” in Great Divides: Readings in Social Inequality in the United States, ed. Thomas M. Shapiro, 3rd ed. (New York: McGraw Hill, 2005).

Richly deserved self-criticism as a means to preservation?

Pandemic

The headline attached to a New York article by Sarah Jones is woefully inadequate—look at the URL and you’ll see a better (probably earlier, maybe even chosen by Jones herself) one. It isn’t just that rich people are hoarding things, but that they’re hoarding badly needed medical equipment and supplies and expect to jump to the head of the queue for a vaccine when and if one is ever developed. And it isn’t just that they’re hoarding, but that their mistreatment of workers extends to failure to provide protective equipment and to being chintzy about sick leave. And it isn’t just all that but that they’re fleeing to places that lack the medical infrastructure to deal with the virus they’re bringing with them and that the rich folks in Congress are doing such an inadequate job of responding to the economic pain of the shutdown.[1]

I have to say this article[2] is causing me pause—and not on the merits of the article itself. Though I didn’t actually use any New York articles for discourse historical analysis in my dissertation, I classified New York as a functionalist conservative publication in my dissertation work. Functionalist conservatism is all about preserving the privileges of the rich and powerful against everyone else.[3] So no, I’m not expecting a screed against the rich and powerful such as Jones’[4] to appear there unless some richly deserved self-criticism is a means to preservation.

I hadn’t thought things had reached that point, but then I’m not in New York City.[5]

Then there’s the, oh, so special case of Liberty University. Some Christians handle snakes as a demonstration of their faith; when they get bitten it isn’t because they were playing with snakes but because they didn’t have enough faith! Jerry Falwell, Jr., on the other hand, decided to invite students back to Liberty University in defiance of the governor’s “stay at home” order. Eleven students now exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, one has it.[6] Which of course means a bunch of them likely do. But we’ll just say they lacked faith!

Katherine Mangan, “As Liberty University Reports First Covid-19 Case, Students and Parents Grapple With Conflicting Information,” Chronicle of Higher Education, March 30, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/As-Liberty-University-Reports/248382/

Sarah Jones, “Dear Rich People: Please Stop Hoarding Things,” New York, March 30, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/things-are-bad-and-rich-people-arent-helping.html


  1. [1]Sarah Jones, “Dear Rich People: Please Stop Hoarding Things,” New York, March 30, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/things-are-bad-and-rich-people-arent-helping.html
  2. [2]Sarah Jones, “Dear Rich People: Please Stop Hoarding Things,” New York, March 30, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/things-are-bad-and-rich-people-arent-helping.html
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  4. [4]Sarah Jones, “Dear Rich People: Please Stop Hoarding Things,” New York, March 30, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/things-are-bad-and-rich-people-arent-helping.html
  5. [5]David Benfell, “‘Bodies piling up. Refrigerator trucks for corpses,’” Irregular Bullshit, March 28, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/03/28/bodies-piling-up-refrigerator-trucks-for-corpses/
  6. [6]Katherine Mangan, “As Liberty University Reports First Covid-19 Case, Students and Parents Grapple With Conflicting Information,” Chronicle of Higher Education, March 30, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/As-Liberty-University-Reports/248382/

Such a surprise: Joe Biden is a rapist

Joe Biden

So I’ve been seeing tweets about this and finally chased down a story:

A former aide [Tara Reade] to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said this week that he sexually assaulted her in 1993, her most detailed account to date of his alleged inappropriate behavior.[1]

It should say something about power over others that it so often expresses itself in the form of rape and sexual assault, that is, the very way that vegetarian ecofeminism predicts.[2] At the same time, we should note that the entire presumption of an authoritarian system of social organization is that a centralized authority is necessary to protect us from each other, as if that centralized authority would be more moral than any of us. Methinks we’ve been conned.

I have previously characterized Joe Biden as a touchy feely misogynist racist.[3] This background should make clear that rape would not be out of character for Biden any more than it was for Bill Clinton.[4] And the lack of attention paid to these allegations,[5] which I shall presume to be true, is yet another example of the morality of polarization.[6] And oh yeah, tell me how I’m supposed to choose between rapists in November.

Alanna Vagianos, “Joe Biden Accused Of Sexually Assaulting Senate Aide In 1993,” HuffPost, March 29, 2020, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/joe-biden-sexual-assault-tara-reade_n_5e7e69c8c5b6256a7a2a88f2


Elon Musk

It appears that Elon Musk has at least partly kept his word.[7] I have updated my blog post accordingly.

Steve Hanley, “Tesla Cuts Jobs In Nevada, Sends Ventilators To New York,” Clean Technica, March 29, 2020, https://cleantechnica.com/2020/03/29/tesla-cuts-jobs-in-nevada-sends-ventilators-to-new-york/


  1. [1]Alanna Vagianos, “Joe Biden Accused Of Sexually Assaulting Senate Aide In 1993,” HuffPost, March 29, 2020, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/joe-biden-sexual-assault-tara-reade_n_5e7e69c8c5b6256a7a2a88f2
  2. [2]Greta Gaard, “Vegetarian Ecofeminism: A Review Essay,” Frontiers 23, no. 3 (2002): 117-146.
  3. [3]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; 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/; 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; 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; 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/; 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; 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
  4. [4]David Benfell, “Yes, Hillary Clinton must answer for Bill Clinton’s sexual assaults,” Not Housebroken, October 10, 2016, https://disunitedstates.org/2016/10/10/yes-hillary-clinton-must-answer-for-bill-clintons-sexual-assaults/
  5. [5]Alanna Vagianos, “Joe Biden Accused Of Sexually Assaulting Senate Aide In 1993,” HuffPost, March 29, 2020, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/joe-biden-sexual-assault-tara-reade_n_5e7e69c8c5b6256a7a2a88f2
  6. [6]David Benfell, “The morality of polarization,” Not Housebroken, September 21, 2018, https://disunitedstates.org/2018/09/21/the-morality-of-polarization/; David Benfell, “The theory of the morality of polarization,” Not Housebroken, December 23, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/23/the-theory-of-the-morality-of-polarization/
  7. [7]Sydney Brownstone and Brendan Kiley, “50,000 N95 masks delivered to UW researcher’s home thanks to Elon Musk, Tesla,” Seattle Times, March 22, 2020, https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/truckload-of-50000-n95-masks-headed-to-uw-researchers-home-thanks-to-elon-musk-tesla/; Steve Hanley, “Tesla Cuts Jobs In Nevada, Sends Ventilators To New York,” Clean Technica, March 29, 2020, https://cleantechnica.com/2020/03/29/tesla-cuts-jobs-in-nevada-sends-ventilators-to-new-york/; Zachary Shahan, “Elon Musk: Should Have 1000 Ventilators Next Week, + 250,000 N95 Masks For Hospitals Tomorrow,” CleanTechnica, March 21, 2020, https://cleantechnica.com/2020/03/21/elon-musk-should-have-1000-ventilators-next-week-250k-n95-masks-for-hospitals-tomorrow-cleantechnica-exclusive/

Neoliberals fiddle while the economy burns

Elon Musk

So yesterday, I posted a blog entry expressing skepticism about Elon Musk’s promise of N95 masks and respirators,[1] badly needed especially in the state of Washington for the COVID-19 pandemic.

The respirators remain to be seen, but Musk came through with the masks on schedule.[2] I’m sure there’s a backstory that isn’t covered here and if Musk actually comes through on the respirators, there will be much more of one that desperately needs covering.

Because in the world I know, things just don’t turn on a dime like this. They can’t.

Sydney Brownstone and Brendan Kiley, “50,000 N95 masks delivered to UW researcher’s home thanks to Elon Musk, Tesla,” Seattle Times, March 22, 2020, https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/truckload-of-50000-n95-masks-headed-to-uw-researchers-home-thanks-to-elon-musk-tesla/


Gig economy

There is a new blog entry entitled, “While neoliberal hot air floats over gig workers’ heads, here’s the Trump administration.”

Ian Kullgren, “Congress should bail out gig workers, Cohn says,” Politico, March 22, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/22/congress-gig-economy-workers-cohn-141886


Israel

Gershom Gorenberg, “With a pandemic as cover, Netanyahu is carrying out a coup in Israel,” Washington Post, March 19, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/03/19/with-pandemic-cover-netanyahu-is-carrying-out-coup-israel/


  1. [1]David Benfell, “Elon Musk, groan, again,” Not Housebroken, March 22, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/03/22/elon-musk-groan-again/
  2. [2]Sydney Brownstone and Brendan Kiley, “50,000 N95 masks delivered to UW researcher’s home thanks to Elon Musk, Tesla,” Seattle Times, March 22, 2020, https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/truckload-of-50000-n95-masks-headed-to-uw-researchers-home-thanks-to-elon-musk-tesla/

Elon Musk, our rich white knight in shining armor

Elon Musk

There is a new blog post entitled, “Elon Musk, groan, again.”

Tim Higgins, “Elon Musk’s Defiance in the Time of Coronavirus,” Wall Street Journal, March 20, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/elon-musks-defiance-in-the-time-of-coronavirus-11584733458

Jack Morse, “Ventilator manufacturers aren’t impressed by Elon Musk’s offer,” Mashable, March 21, 2020, https://mashable.com/article/experts-doubt-tesla-elon-musk-manufacture-ventilators/

Zachary Shahan, “Elon Musk: Should Have 1000 Ventilators Next Week, + 250,000 N95 Masks For Hospitals Tomorrow,” CleanTechnica, March 21, 2020, https://cleantechnica.com/2020/03/21/elon-musk-should-have-1000-ventilators-next-week-250k-n95-masks-for-hospitals-tomorrow-cleantechnica-exclusive/


Coronavirus

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice is looking for power to, among other things, abrogate habeas corpus.[1] Just so we know where their priorities lie.

Betsy Woodruff Swan, “DOJ seeks new emergency powers amid coronavirus pandemic,” Politico, March 21, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/21/doj-coronavirus-emergency-powers-140023


  1. [1]Betsy Woodruff Swan, “DOJ seeks new emergency powers amid coronavirus pandemic,” Politico, March 21, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/21/doj-coronavirus-emergency-powers-140023

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

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/

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/