Selling the Palestinians down the river, yet again

Palestine

It would appear the United Arab Emirates have sold the Palestinians down the river:

Israel and the United Arab Emirates have agreed to establish full diplomatic ties in a historic Washington-brokered deal under which Israel will “suspend” its plans to annex parts of the Palestinian territories.

However, cracks in the deal became quickly apparent after its announcement on Thursday, with Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, saying there was “no change” to his annexation plans, while the UAE insisted that it “immediately stops annexation”.[1]

Palestinians had been expecting that Arab countries would withhold recognition until they (the Palestinians) had agreed a peace deal with Israel.[2]

So at best, Jared Kushner’s “peace deal,” with which he sought to humiliate Palestinians,[3] has moved the bar: With the U.S. offering Binyamin Netanyahu annexation,[4] the UAE could agree to Israel’s suspension of that annexation in exchange for recognition. And at worst, the Palestinians got nothing at all with the annexation to proceed regardless.[5] This sounds like that “constructive ambiguity” I learned about, a routine sleaze in international relations where both sides can affirm their own interpretations of the agreement, but the language is actually very ambiguous.

Oliver Holmes and Julian Borger, “Israel signs historic deal with UAE that will ‘suspend’ West Bank annexation,” Guardian, August 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/aug/13/israel-and-uae-to-form-diplomatic-ties-says-donald-trump


Pittsburgh

Some restaurants and bars in Allegheny County are about to defy health orders.[6] I’m just not eating at any of them now because I don’t know which of them will continue to comply, which will not, and I’m not going to go someplace to find out they’re defying measures meant to limit the spread of a lethal pandemic just because they think they should be immunized from capitalist risk. I’m completely furious.

Dillon Carr, “As deadline approaches, restaurants vary on defying Wolf’s capacity order, other restrictions,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, August 13, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/as-deadline-approaches-restaurants-vary-on-defying-wolfs-capacity-order-other-restrictions/


  1. [1]Oliver Holmes and Julian Borger, “Israel signs historic deal with UAE that will ‘suspend’ West Bank annexation,” Guardian, August 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/aug/13/israel-and-uae-to-form-diplomatic-ties-says-donald-trump
  2. [2]Oliver Holmes and Julian Borger, “Israel signs historic deal with UAE that will ‘suspend’ West Bank annexation,” Guardian, August 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/aug/13/israel-and-uae-to-form-diplomatic-ties-says-donald-trump
  3. [3]Marwan Bishara, “The logic behind US humiliation of the Palestinians,” Al Jazeera, April 24, 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/logic-humiliation-palestinians-190423123902553.html
  4. [4]Sheena Anne Arackal, “The ‘Deal of the Century’ is Apartheid,” Mondoweiss, January 28, 2020, https://mondoweiss.net/2020/01/the-deal-of-the-century-is-apartheid/; Jerusalem Online, “Bibi Steps Back from ‘Immediate’ Annexation Promise,” January 31, 2020, https://www.jerusalemonline.com/bibi-steps-back-from-immediate-annexation-promise/; Felicia Schwartz and Michael R. Gordon, “Trump’s Mideast Peace Plan Charts Two-State Course for Israelis, Palestinians,” Wall Street Journal, January 28, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-set-to-release-middle-east-peace-plan-11580221616; Ishaan Tharoor, “Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ is no deal at all,” Washington Post, January 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2020/01/28/trumps-deal-century-is-no-deal-all/; Times of Israel, “As peace plan rolls out, Netanyahu says he will annex Jordan Valley, settlements,” January 28, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/as-peace-plan-rolls-out-netanyahu-says-he-will-annex-jordan-valley-settlements/; Times of Israel, “Trump unveils plan for ‘realistic 2-state’ deal, ‘undivided’ Israeli Jerusalem,” January 28, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/trump-unveils-plan-for-realistic-2-state-deal-undivided-israeli-jerusalem/
  5. [5]Oliver Holmes and Julian Borger, “Israel signs historic deal with UAE that will ‘suspend’ West Bank annexation,” Guardian, August 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/aug/13/israel-and-uae-to-form-diplomatic-ties-says-donald-trump
  6. [6]Dillon Carr, “As deadline approaches, restaurants vary on defying Wolf’s capacity order, other restrictions,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, August 13, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/as-deadline-approaches-restaurants-vary-on-defying-wolfs-capacity-order-other-restrictions/

But Elon Musk has a family to support!

There were updates last night.


Elon Musk

Instead, Elon Musk gets to manufacture automobiles, dig tunnels, and launch astronauts to the International Space Station. Seriously, how insane is this?[1]

I’m glad to see someone somewhat agrees with me, even if their objection is primarily to how money Elon Musk would be paid.[2]

I’m waiting for Musk-worshippers to wail about how he has a family to support, though.

Rupert Neate, “Tesla shareholders urged to oust Elon Musk over $55bn pay deal,” Guardian, June 30, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/jun/30/tesla-shareholders-urged-to-oust-elon-musk-over-55bn-pay-deal


Palestine

I was beginning to think Binyamin Netanyahu’s promised de jure annexation announcement might come in the dead of night. But it appears there’s been a delay.[3]

Yousef Munayyer, “Liberal Zionism paved the Israeli right’s path to annexation,” +972, June 23, 2020, https://www.972mag.com/liberal-zionism-israel-annexation/

Salem Barahmeh, “Palestinians are fighting to dismantle apartheid, not just annexation,” +972, June 29, 2020, https://www.972mag.com/jericho-annexation-jordan-valley-apartheid/

Associated Press, “Netanyahu ally confirms delays in West Bank annexation plan,” Al-Ahram, July 1, 2020, http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/373408.aspx


Pandemic

In the ‘this should be brain-dead fucking obvious’ department:

I guess it isn’t.


  1. [1]David Benfell, “On kente cloth and appropriation,” Irregular Bullshit, June 9, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/06/09/on-kente-cloth-and-appropriation/
  2. [2]Rupert Neate, “Tesla shareholders urged to oust Elon Musk over $55bn pay deal,” Guardian, June 30, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/jun/30/tesla-shareholders-urged-to-oust-elon-musk-over-55bn-pay-deal
  3. [3]Associated Press, “Netanyahu ally confirms delays in West Bank annexation plan,” Al-Ahram, July 1, 2020, http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/373408.aspx

Someone for Donald Trump to fire

Pandemic

With Donald Trump desperate to deflect blame for his mishandling of the now-pandemic,[1] the Wall Street Journal helpfully offers him the name of someone to fire.[2]

Meanwhile, if, as I am, you are worried about a “slippery slope” in reopening the economy,[3] one thing to watch out for is complexity. Complexity improves the likelihood of loopholes, thus leading to a wider reopening than expected, thus leading to more contagion. It remains to be seen whether Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf’s plan[4] is simple enough.

Rebecca Ballhaus and Stephanie Armour, “Health Chief’s Early Missteps Set Back Coronavirus Response,” Wall Street Journal, April 22, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/health-chiefs-early-missteps-set-back-coronavirus-response-11587570514

Aaron Rupar, “Trump and Fox News want to send their hydroxychloroquine hype down the memory hole,” Vox, April 22, 2020, https://www.vox.com/2020/4/22/21230982/hydroxychloroquine-coronavirus-trump-fox-news-hype

Kara Seymour, “Gov. Wolf Unveils 3-Phased, Color-Coded Reopening Plan By Region,” Patch, April 23, 2020, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/h3av0/gov-wolf-unveils-3-phased-color-coded-reopening-plan-by-region

Michael D. Shear and Maggie Haberman, “Health Dept. Official Says Doubts on Hydroxychloroquine Led to His Ouster,” New York Times, April 22, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/22/us/politics/rick-bright-trump-hydroxychloroquine.html


Recession

It’s the fifth-straight week that job losses were measured in the millions. From March 15 to April 18, 26.5 million have probably been laid off or furloughed. Jobless figures on this scale haven’t been seen since the Great Depression. The number of jobs lost in that brief span effectively erased all the jobs created after the 2008 financial crisis.[5]

Meanwhile, it’s a classic double-bind: If you refuse to return to work, because you want to avoid the contagion, you will risk your unemployment benefits.[6] But, of course, you’re also damned—and may face tragedy yourself—if you go back to work and wind up being a vector in the contagion:

State unemployment laws generally do not allow workers to collect jobless benefits if they refuse work available to them, said Thomas Smith, an assistant finance professor at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. That could force workers in Georgia back to their jobs at a time when it is not clear whether the risk of infection has abated, he said.[7]

Rachel Siegel and Andrew Van Dam, “4.4 million Americans sought jobless benefits last week, as economic pain continued across the United States,” Washington Post, April 23, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/23/economy-coronavirus-unemployment/

Andy Sullivan, “Americans too scared to go to work risk losing unemployment aid, experts say,” Reuters, April 23, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-georgia-worker/americans-too-scared-to-go-to-work-risk-losing-unemployment-aid-experts-say-idUSKCN2251RD


Israel

Haviv Rettig Gur, “‘Monstrous’ coalition deal neuters Knesset. Should judges intervene? Will they?” Times of Israel, April 23, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/monstrous-coalition-deal-neuters-knesset-should-judges-intervene-will-they/


  1. [1]Aaron Blake, “The timeline of Trump’s coronavirus response is increasingly damning,” Washington Post, April 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/04/07/timeline-trumps-coronavirus-response-is-increasingly-damning/; Dana Milbank, “For Trump, a reckoning has come,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/trump-reckoning-has-come/; David Roth, “The Enduring Delusion of a Chastened Trump,” New Republic, April 3, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/157154/enduring-delusion-chastened-trump; Aaron Rupar, “Trump and Fox News want to send their hydroxychloroquine hype down the memory hole,” Vox, April 22, 2020, https://www.vox.com/2020/4/22/21230982/hydroxychloroquine-coronavirus-trump-fox-news-hype; Michael D. Shear and Maggie Haberman, “Health Dept. Official Says Doubts on Hydroxychloroquine Led to His Ouster,” New York Times, April 22, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/22/us/politics/rick-bright-trump-hydroxychloroquine.html; David Von Drehle, “If Trump doesn’t like the coronavirus news now, he’ll hate what comes next,” Washington Post, March 10, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/if-trump-doesnt-like-the-coronavirus-news-now-hell-hate-what-comes-next/2020/03/10/e478c314-62ea-11ea-acca-80c22bbee96f_story.html; Paul Waldman, “How coronavirus has deeply flummoxed conservative media,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/how-coronavirus-has-deeply-flummuxed-conservative-media/; Paul Waldman, “The real reason Trump is obsessed with hydroxychloroquine,” Washington Post, April 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/04/07/real-reason-trump-is-obsessed-with-hydroxychloroquine/
  2. [2]Rebecca Ballhaus and Stephanie Armour, “Health Chief’s Early Missteps Set Back Coronavirus Response,” Wall Street Journal, April 22, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/health-chiefs-early-missteps-set-back-coronavirus-response-11587570514
  3. [3]David Benfell, “When confusion starts killing people, it is long past time to recognize it for what it is,” Not Housebroken, April 21, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/21/when-confusion-starts-killing-people-it-is-long-past-time-to-recognize-it-for-what-it-is/
  4. [4]Kara Seymour, “Gov. Wolf Unveils 3-Phased, Color-Coded Reopening Plan By Region,” Patch, April 23, 2020, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/h3av0/gov-wolf-unveils-3-phased-color-coded-reopening-plan-by-region
  5. [5]Rachel Siegel and Andrew Van Dam, “4.4 million Americans sought jobless benefits last week, as economic pain continued across the United States,” Washington Post, April 23, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/23/economy-coronavirus-unemployment/
  6. [6]Andy Sullivan, “Americans too scared to go to work risk losing unemployment aid, experts say,” Reuters, April 23, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-georgia-worker/americans-too-scared-to-go-to-work-risk-losing-unemployment-aid-experts-say-idUSKCN2251RD
  7. [7]Rachel Siegel and Andrew Van Dam, “4.4 million Americans sought jobless benefits last week, as economic pain continued across the United States,” Washington Post, April 23, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/23/economy-coronavirus-unemployment/

The grip slips

Pandemic

Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf has set a target end date for the lockdown: May 8.[1] Is such a date consistent with his previously declared criteria?[2] Of course not. We don’t have the testing, let alone a cure or a vaccine. I can’t blame him, but this is a political decision, not one based on medical science. It is what he does because people are blowing off the order anyway and he knows his grip is slipping. On paper, it’s a very limited reopening,[3] but I’m guessing this’ll be a time when the slippery slope is not a fallacy and the capitalist god will get its human sacrifices.[4] Let’s hope I’m wrong.

Andy Sheehan, “Coronavirus In Pennsylvania: Gov. Tom Wolf Says State Will Start Gradually Reopening On May 8,” KDKA, April 20, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/04/20/gov-tom-wolf-reopens-pennsylvania-may-8/


Israel

Marcy Oster, “Netanyahu and Gantz sign agreement for ‘national emergency government’ that keeps Netanyahu as prime minister for now,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, April 20, 2020, https://www.jta.org/quick-reads/netanyahu-and-gantz-sign-agreement-for-national-emergency-government-that-keeps-netanyahu-as-prime-minister-for-now

Times of Israel, “After more than yearlong impasse, Netanyahu and Gantz agree to form a government,” April 20, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-gantz-reach-agreement-to-form-national-emergency-government/


  1. [1]Andy Sheehan, “Coronavirus In Pennsylvania: Gov. Tom Wolf Says State Will Start Gradually Reopening On May 8,” KDKA, April 20, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/04/20/gov-tom-wolf-reopens-pennsylvania-may-8/
  2. [2]Natasha Lindstrom, “Gov. Wolf: No specific date for ending covid-19 shutdown, getting ‘back to life as we once knew it,’” TribLive, April 16, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/gov-wolf-no-specific-date-for-ending-covid-19-shutdown-getting-back-to-life-as-we-once-knew-it/
  3. [3]Andy Sheehan, “Coronavirus In Pennsylvania: Gov. Tom Wolf Says State Will Start Gradually Reopening On May 8,” KDKA, April 20, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/04/20/gov-tom-wolf-reopens-pennsylvania-may-8/
  4. [4]David Benfell, “An impatient capitalist god demands human sacrifice. Now,” Not Housebroken, April 17, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/15/an-impatient-capitalist-god-demands-human-sacrifice-now/

I, an ‘essential worker’

My patience is now officially blown with the lockdown.

I have the misfortune of being an “essential worker.” Because I drive for Lyft and Uber. Because I haven’t been able to find a real job in over nineteen years.[1]

I normally cut orders off about twenty minutes before sunset largely because I don’t want to be caught out traversing or picking up or dropping off in neighborhoods where the gun and knife club comes to order shortly after sunset.

But tonight, my last ride ran a bit long with multiple stops. Fine, I thought. Giant Eagle is open until ten pm.

Being vegan, there aren’t a lot of places I can eat in Pittsburgh and they’re all hurting with the lockdown. I’d really like for them to survive. And it happened, the way home from that last ride took me right past D’s Six Pax and Dogz on South Braddock in the Regent Square area of Edgewood. So I stopped, picked up their veggie hot dog and wished them all well, ate it and some fries on the way to my next stop.

I’d also noticed some bird shit (it’s that time of year) on my car earlier, so I stopped at a drive through car wash and wiped down the interior while it did its thing on the exterior.

I pulled up to the Giant Eagle about two minutes before nine pm. Guess what? They’re closed.

My patience is blown. I suffer a lot of indignities as an “essential worker.” The pay really sucks and, although I handle more of my own costs directly, I’m really on the same level as a cab driver, even with my Ph.D. The least the powers that be could do is let me buy some fucking groceries.


Israel

At this point, I’m very strongly tempted to ignore the political crisis in Israel. It hasn’t seemed to be moving toward resolution. Except, that the president there, Reuven Rivlin, is losing patience. And it seems that, in this, one of the few occasions where he actually matters, he has a few tricks of his own.[2] I’m mostly archiving this because I suspect that however all this turns out, Rivlin’s moves just might prove pivotal.

Haviv Rettig Gur, “Israel’s frustrated president threatens new elections – in a bid to avoid them,” Times of Israel, April 13, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/a-frustrated-rivlin-threatens-new-elections-in-a-bid-to-avoid-them/


  1. [1]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  2. [2]Haviv Rettig Gur, “Israel’s frustrated president threatens new elections – in a bid to avoid them,” Times of Israel, April 13, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/a-frustrated-rivlin-threatens-new-elections-in-a-bid-to-avoid-them/

Jobpocalypse Now

Recession

Yes, that was an eye-poppingly huge number of unemployment insurance claims this morning,[1] but the unemployment picture is highly likely to be far worse than these statistics show.[2]

The actual scope of the job losses won’t be known for some time. Even measures such as the unemployment rate won’t entirely capture it since people must be seeking work to be counted as unemployed. How many people are doing that in a coronavirus shutdown?

But for all that, the weekly claims report did give an early reading on the sheer awfulness of what is happening and a sense of the magnitude of the challenge the U.S. economy faces. Many of the people who have lost their jobs will struggle to stay afloat even with unemployment checks and the additional money they will receive under the Senate’s relief package. They will reduce spending, as will workers who worry that they will be next. That will in turn pinch businesses so far relatively unaffected by the crisis. In the worst-case scenario, business failures could cascade through the economy, leaving many workers without jobs to return to once the threat from the coronavirus has passed.[3]

As I have previously noted,

This has its own health impacts. We have seen with “deaths of despair”[4] and suicides under austerity[5] what happens when people cannot support themselves and their families.[6] And this isn’t just about capitalists wanting to go on making money. The economic shutdown will devastate the poor.[7][8]

The point here isn’t that we should do what Donald Trump suggests, prematurely letting up on lockdowns, likely infecting many more people, likely killing many more people.[9] It’s that we need to recognize, not minimize, the terrible toll these restrictions demand and to recognize that as a society, we are allowing a socially constructed economic system, capitalism, to dictate our relations with each other, to create this terrible dilemma, where no matter what we do, we are killing people.

Justin Lahart, “Washington’s Trillions Alone Can’t Stop the Jobpocalypse,” Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/washingtons-trillions-alone-cant-stop-the-jobpocalypse-11585235110


Israel

Benny Gantz looked at his hand, folded, and split his Blue and White party in the process.[10]

Raoul Wootliff, “Netanyahu and Gantz said forming unity government; Blue and White collapses,” Times of Israel, March 26, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/gantz-and-netanyahu-said-forming-unity-government-blue-and-white-collapses/


  1. [1]Heather Long and Alyssa Fowers, “A record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits as the coronavirus slams economy,” Washington Post, March 26, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/26/unemployment-claims-coronavirus-3-million/
  2. [2]Justin Lahart, “Washington’s Trillions Alone Can’t Stop the Jobpocalypse,” Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/washingtons-trillions-alone-cant-stop-the-jobpocalypse-11585235110
  3. [3]Justin Lahart, “Washington’s Trillions Alone Can’t Stop the Jobpocalypse,” Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/washingtons-trillions-alone-cant-stop-the-jobpocalypse-11585235110
  4. [4]Anne Case and Angus Deaton, “Mortality and morbidity in the 21st century” [draft], Brookings Institute, March 23, 2017, https://www.brookings.edu/bpea-articles/mortality-and-morbidity-in-the-21st-century/
  5. [5]Charles C. Branas et al., “The impact of economic austerity and prosperity events on suicide in Greece: a 30-year interrupted time-series analysis,” British Medical Journal 5, no. 1 (2015): doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005619; Paul Corcoran et al., “Impact of the economic recession and subsequent austerity on suicide and self-harm in Ireland: An interrupted time series analysis,” International Journal of Epidemiology 44, no. 3 (2015): 969–977, doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyv058
  6. [6]John Quiggin, “Austerity Has Been Tested, and It Failed,” Chronicle of Higher Education, November 20, 2013, http://www.chronicle.com/article/Austerity-Has-Been-Tested-and/139255/
  7. [7]Kim Hart, “The coronavirus economy will devastate those who can least afford it,” Axios, March 23, 2020, https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-economy-layoffs-children-families-bad-d588cc93-ff26-4031-8be8-5654cce05a15.html
  8. [8]David Benfell, “Josef Stalin’s purges might not look so bad,” Irregular Bullshit, March 24, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/03/24/josef-stalins-purges-might-not-look-so-bad/
  9. [9]Adam Cancryn and Nancy Cook, “Health officials want Trump to ‘double down, not lighten up’ restrictions,” Politico, March 23, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/23/coronavirus-economy-trump-restart-145222
  10. [10]Raoul Wootliff, “Netanyahu and Gantz said forming unity government; Blue and White collapses,” Times of Israel, March 26, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/gantz-and-netanyahu-said-forming-unity-government-blue-and-white-collapses/

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/

Four more years

Democrats

The Telegraph’s Bob Moran seems to have it nailed.
BOB050320_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqHkO4
Fig. 1. Cartoon by Bob Moran of the Telegraph, March 4, 2020, fair use.

Understand that the Telegraph is a conservative newspaper that had Boris Johnson as a columnist and was generally a Brexit booster.

One would think that they would prefer the more conservative candidate. But then,

A couple of weeks ago, viewing the Nevada caucus results, I wrote,

It’s all a very interesting turn of events. I am deeply cynical about the U.S. electoral system for multiple reasons.[1] But a result like this[2] can only lead me to wonder if, maybe, just maybe, there’s some hope after all. (The voice in my head, the voice that’s seen it all before, is adamant that such hopes will be ruthlessly crushed.)[3]

That voice in my head now stands vindicated as it has become clear that Bernie Sanders stands right where I thought he did, that Democratic Party voters have not generally become more progressive, and those rumblings I’ve been hearing for a while now that Sanders has not been able to draw in a sufficient number of new progressive voters are now at a full roar.[4]

Would it have helped had Elizabeth Warren dropped out prior to Super Tuesday?[5] Probably, and as she has dropped out now, I guess we’ll soon find out, but her support had already cratered,[6] which raises the question of how much there is to gain, assuming—this is very much in doubt[7]—it even goes Sanders’ way.

Would it help if mainstream journalism wasn’t so stridently anti-Bernie?[8] Absolutely, of course. But it is what it is and it’s hard to imagine how we change the views of media elites who are really quite comfortable with the status quo in all its aspects[9] and who mostly see Donald Trump as yet another topic for articles.

Hope that Sanders could overcome all this has always been a long shot. We’re seeing gravity, the same gravity that fed Trump’s black hole,[10] at work.

Sydney Ember and Maggie Astor, “How Huge Voter Turnout Eluded Bernie Sanders on Super Tuesday,” New York Times, March 4, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/04/us/politics/bernie-sanders-young-voter-turnout.html

Scott Clement and Emily Guskin, “Where will Warren’s supporters swing?” Washington Post, March 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/03/05/where-will-warrens-supporters-swing/

Janet Hook and Noah Bierman, “Elizabeth Warren drops out of presidential race,” Los Angeles Times, March 5, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-03-05/elizabeth-warren-will-drop-out-of-presidential-race


Israel

The almost but not quite final election results are in with Binyamin Netanyahu’s bloc winning 58 seats, three short of a majority.[11] There’s a move to prevent Netanyahu from serving as prime minister while under indictment and another to limit prime ministers two terms—Netanyahu has served four. These moves likely have the votes to pass[12] if they can be voted on before a government can be constituted. That last part is unclear.[13]

Michael Bachner, “Knesset legal adviser hedges on bill to block Netanyahu premiership,” Times of Israel, March 4, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/knesset-legal-adviser-hedges-on-bill-to-block-netanyahu-premiership/

Jacob Magid, “Liberman says his party will back law that would bar Netanyahu from being PM,” Times of Israel, March 5, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/liberman-says-his-party-will-back-law-that-would-bar-netanyahu-from-being-pm/

Raoul Wootliff, “Final results show Likud with 36 seats, Netanyahu bloc short of majority with 58,” Times of Israel, March 5, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/final-results-confirm-likud-with-36-seats-right-short-of-majority-with-58/


  1. [1]David Benfell, “Why I do not vote,” Not Housebroken, February 23, 2016, https://disunitedstates.org/2016/02/23/why-i-do-not-vote/
  2. [2]Russell Berman, “Bernie Sanders’s Biggest Win Yet,” Atlantic, February 22, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/02/bernie-wins-nevada/606937/; Chris Cillizza, “Chris Cillizza’s winners and losers from the Nevada caucuses,” CNN, February 22, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/22/politics/who-won-nevada-caucuses/index.html; John McCormick, “Sen. Bernie Sanders Wins the Nevada Democratic Caucuses, AP Says,” Wall Street Journal, February 22, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/bernie-sanders-looks-to-build-momentum-in-nevada-caucuses-11582380000
  3. [3]David Benfell, “What catches my eye about the Nevada caucuses results,” Irregular Bullshit, February 23, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/02/23/what-catches-my-eye-about-the-nevada-caucuses-results/
  4. [4]Sydney Ember and Maggie Astor, “How Huge Voter Turnout Eluded Bernie Sanders on Super Tuesday,” New York Times, March 4, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/04/us/politics/bernie-sanders-young-voter-turnout.html
  5. [5]Sydney Ember and Maggie Astor, “How Huge Voter Turnout Eluded Bernie Sanders on Super Tuesday,” New York Times, March 4, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/04/us/politics/bernie-sanders-young-voter-turnout.html
  6. [6]Janet Hook and Noah Bierman, “Elizabeth Warren drops out of presidential race,” Los Angeles Times, March 5, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-03-05/elizabeth-warren-will-drop-out-of-presidential-race
  7. [7]Scott Clement and Emily Guskin, “Where will Warren’s supporters swing?” Washington Post, March 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/03/05/where-will-warrens-supporters-swing/; Janet Hook and Noah Bierman, “Elizabeth Warren drops out of presidential race,” Los Angeles Times, March 5, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-03-05/elizabeth-warren-will-drop-out-of-presidential-race; Annie Linskey and Sean Sullivan, “Warren, Sanders allies scramble to find her an exit ramp,” Washington Post, March 4, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/warren-to-think-through-her-future-top-aide-says/2020/03/04/bf7d20ca-5e38-11ea-9055-5fa12981bbbf_story.html; Nathan J. Robinson, “Thinking About The Democratic Primary,” Current Affairs, January 15, 2020, https://www.currentaffairs.org/2020/01/thinking-about-the-democratic-primary
  8. [8]Jon Allsop, “Coverage of Bernie Sanders suffers from a lack of imagination,” Columbia Journalism Review, February 11, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/bernie_sanders_media_new_hampshire.php; Nellie Bowles, “The Pied Pipers of the Dirtbag Left Want to Lead Everyone to Bernie Sanders,” New York Times, February 29, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/29/us/politics/bernie-sanders-chapo-trap-house.html; Jeremy Diamond, Jake Tapper and Zachary Cohen, “US intelligence briefer appears to have overstated assessment of 2020 Russian interference,” CNN, February 23, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/23/politics/intelligence-briefer-russian-interference-trump-sanders/index.html; Adam Gopnik, “Learning to Love Bernie Sanders, or Trying To,” New Yorker, March 3, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/learning-to-love-bernie-sanders-or-trying-to; Lisa Lerer and Reid J. Epstein, “Democratic Leaders Willing to Risk Party Damage to Stop Bernie Sanders,” New York Times, February 27, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/27/us/politics/democratic-superdelegates.html; Alex Shephard, “Bernie Sanders Has an MSNBC Problem,” New Republic, February 12, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/156545/bernie-sanders-msnbc-problem; Margaret Sullivan, “The media keep falling in love — with anybody but Bernie Sanders,” Washington Post, February 12, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/the-media-keep-falling-in-love–with-anybody-but-bernie-sanders/2020/02/12/0f55cc12-4d9c-11ea-bf44-f5043eb3918a_story.html
  9. [9]Herbert Altschull, Agents of Power: The Media and Public Policy, 2nd ed. (White Plains, NY: Longman, 1995
  10. [10]David Benfell, “Democrats must own Donald Trump,” Not Housebroken, November 13, 2016, https://disunitedstates.org/2016/11/13/democrats-must-own-donald-trump/
  11. [11]Raoul Wootliff, “Final results show Likud with 36 seats, Netanyahu bloc short of majority with 58,” Times of Israel, March 5, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/final-results-confirm-likud-with-36-seats-right-short-of-majority-with-58/
  12. [12]Jacob Magid, “Liberman says his party will back law that would bar Netanyahu from being PM,” Times of Israel, March 5, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/liberman-says-his-party-will-back-law-that-would-bar-netanyahu-from-being-pm/
  13. [13]Michael Bachner, “Knesset legal adviser hedges on bill to block Netanyahu premiership,” Times of Israel, March 4, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/knesset-legal-adviser-hedges-on-bill-to-block-netanyahu-premiership/

Binyamin Netanyahu wins a plurality, but maybe not a majority

Israel

The Washington Post story is based on exit polling so some uncertainty remains as to the size of Binyamin Netanyahu’s plurality in the Knesset.[1] To be honest, I was expecting final results by now.

Steve Hendrix and Ruth Eglash, “Netanyahu scores comeback in Israeli election, still short of outright majority,” Washington Post, March 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/israel-election-netanyahu-gantz/2020/03/02/24f1aeee-5993-11ea-8efd-0f904bdd8057_story.html


Coronavirus

The mortality rate with coronavirus had previously been reported as 2.3 percent.[2] It is now 3.4 percent.[3]

Richard Read, Soumya Karlamangla, and Colleen Shalby, “Coronavirus deaths in U.S. increase as officials send alarms about spread,” Los Angeles Times, March 3, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-03-03/six-dead-coronavirus-kirkland-seattle-california-cases


Michael Bloomberg

Sarah Jones has all the dirt on Michael Bloomberg, not just the dirt in the headline.[4] I guess it wasn’t quite what I was expecting from a highbrow publication, but on the other hand, maybe nobody quite hates New Yorkers like other New Yorkers. Which I’m thinking makes this a must-read for everybody else.

Sarah Jones, “Michael Bloomberg Repeatedly Blamed Homeowners for the Recession,” New York, March 2, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/bloomberg-absolved-banks-blamed-homeowners-for-recession.html


Bernie Sanders

Remember that self-fulfilling prophesy I mentioned in which Bernie Sanders can’t win because people don’t believe he can win?[5] Adam Gopnik gives it voice and offers some rich context to the controversy.[6] That doesn’t mean I agree with Gopnik. But his writing gives me something substantive to think about and frankly, something to wish—not that it’s possible—Sanders had a better answer for.

Adam Gopnik, “Learning to Love Bernie Sanders, or Trying To,” New Yorker, March 3, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/learning-to-love-bernie-sanders-or-trying-to


Super Tuesday

I’m intentionally holding off on today’s results which are just beginning to trickle in as this issue goes to publication. So far, it looks like Joe Biden is doing well. But I’ll look at this tomorrow.


  1. [1]Steve Hendrix and Ruth Eglash, “Netanyahu scores comeback in Israeli election, still short of outright majority,” Washington Post, March 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/israel-election-netanyahu-gantz/2020/03/02/24f1aeee-5993-11ea-8efd-0f904bdd8057_story.html
  2. [2]Stephanie Soucheray, “Study of 72,000 COVID-19 patients finds 2.3% death rate,” University of Minnesota, February 24, 2020, http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/02/study-72000-covid-19-patients-finds-23-death-rate
  3. [3]Richard Read, Soumya Karlamangla, and Colleen Shalby, “Coronavirus deaths in U.S. increase as officials send alarms about spread,” Los Angeles Times, March 3, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-03-03/six-dead-coronavirus-kirkland-seattle-california-cases
  4. [4]Sarah Jones, “Michael Bloomberg Repeatedly Blamed Homeowners for the Recession,” New York, March 2, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/bloomberg-absolved-banks-blamed-homeowners-for-recession.html
  5. [5]David Benfell, “What catches my eye about the Nevada caucuses results,” Irregular Bullshit, February 23, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/02/23/what-catches-my-eye-about-the-nevada-caucuses-results/
  6. [6]Adam Gopnik, “Learning to Love Bernie Sanders, or Trying To,” New Yorker, March 3, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/learning-to-love-bernie-sanders-or-trying-to

Bernie Sanders’ mistake

Scotland

Kieran Andrews, “Nicola Sturgeon ‘would resort to court battle to secure referendum,’” Times, January 31, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/past-six-days/2020-01-31/news/nicola-sturgeon-would-resort-to-court-battle-to-secure-referendum-jglmr7d3n


Palestine

Contrary to an initial appearance of some Arab backing for Donald Trump’s “deal of the century,”[1] the Arab League unanimously rejected it.[2]

Times of Israel, “Backing Abbas, Arab League rejects Trump’s Middle East peace plan,” February 1, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/backing-abbas-arab-league-rejects-trumps-middle-east-peace-plan/

Times of Israel, “Gantz vows to advance US peace plan immediately if elected prime minister,” February 1, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/gantz-vows-to-advance-us-peace-plan-immediately-if-he-becomes-prime-minister/


Bernie Sanders

The move to restore superdelegates to the first ballot, pretty obviously to stop Bernie Sanders, enjoys only minority support.[3] But some of us have not forgotten 2016.[4]

I understand why Sanders trusts the Democratic Party. In a bipartisan system, he has little choice. I still think it’s a mistake.

David Siders, “DNC members discuss rules change to stop Sanders at convention,” Politico, January 31, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/01/31/dnc-superdelegates-110083

Eoin Higgins, “DNC Insiders Plot Return of Superdelegates to Stop Sanders at Convention,” Truthout, February 1, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/dnc-insiders-plot-return-of-superdelegates-to-stop-sanders-at-convention/


  1. [1]Felicia Schwartz and Michael R. Gordon, “Trump’s Mideast Peace Plan Charts Two-State Course for Israelis, Palestinians,” Wall Street Journal, January 28, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-set-to-release-middle-east-peace-plan-11580221616
  2. [2]Times of Israel, “Backing Abbas, Arab League rejects Trump’s Middle East peace plan,” February 1, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/backing-abbas-arab-league-rejects-trumps-middle-east-peace-plan/
  3. [3]Eoin Higgins, “DNC Insiders Plot Return of Superdelegates to Stop Sanders at Convention,” Truthout, February 1, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/dnc-insiders-plot-return-of-superdelegates-to-stop-sanders-at-convention/; David Siders, “DNC members discuss rules change to stop Sanders at convention,” Politico, January 31, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/01/31/dnc-superdelegates-110083
  4. [4]Donna Brazile, “Inside Hillary Clinton’s Secret Takeover of the DNC,” Politico, November 2, 2017, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/11/02/clinton-brazile-hacks-2016-215774