Politics, whether or not by other means

Iran

Paul Schemm, “Saudi military presents weapons debris, says oil attacks ‘unquestionably sponsored’ by Iran but launch point not yet determined,” Washington Post, September 18, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/iran-warns-us-of-broad-retaliation-in-case-of-any-attack/2019/09/18/35a1275c-d99f-11e9-a1a5-162b8a9c9ca2_story.html


Israel

Aron Heller, “Gamble pays off for Lieberman, who becomes Israeli kingmaker,” Associated Press, September 17, 2019, https://apnews.com/192335a30dca44e59fb1534974de5891


Gig economy

John Myers, Johana Bhuiyan, and Margot Roosevelt, “Newsom signs bill rewriting California employment law, limiting use of independent contractors,” Los Angeles Times, September 18, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-09-18/gavin-newsom-signs-ab5-employees0independent-contractors-california


 

Warmongering as the last refuge of a racist misogynist delusional raging narcissist-in-chief

Iran

There is a new blog post entitled, “The most very dangerous kind of bullshit.”

Saudi Arabia was dissatisfied with the evidence supporting U.S. claims that the attack on its oil facilities originated in Iran[1] but appears to be corroborating the claim on its own.[2]

Dion Nissenbaum, Summer Said, and Jared Malsin, “U.S. Tells Saudi Arabia Oil Attacks Were Launched From Iran,” Wall Street Journal, September 16, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-tells-saudi-arabia-oil-attacks-were-launched-from-iran-11568644126

Summer Said and Dion Nissenbaum, “Saudi Arabia Increasingly Confident Iran Launched Oil Attack,” Wall Street Journal, September 17, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/saudi-arabia-increasingly-confident-iran-launched-oil-attack-11568733861


Brexit

Owen Bowcott, “Government declines to rule out fresh prorogation if it loses case,” Guardian, September 17, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/law/2019/sep/17/government-declines-to-rule-out-fresh-prorogation-if-it-loses-case

Rowena Mason, “Jeremy Corbyn: I’ll stay neutral and let the people decide on Brexit,” Guardian, September 17, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/17/corbyn-vows-to-put-sensible-brexit-deal-to-voters-in-referendum


Environment

Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis, “Trump administration to revoke California’s power to set stricter auto emissions standards,” Washington Post, September 17, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/trump-administration-to-revoke-californias-power-to-set-stricter-auto-emissions-standards/2019/09/17/79af2ee0-d97b-11e9-a688-303693fb4b0b_story.html


  1. [1]Dion Nissenbaum, Summer Said, and Jared Malsin, “U.S. Tells Saudi Arabia Oil Attacks Were Launched From Iran,” Wall Street Journal, September 16, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-tells-saudi-arabia-oil-attacks-were-launched-from-iran-11568644126
  2. [2]Summer Said and Dion Nissenbaum, “Saudi Arabia Increasingly Confident Iran Launched Oil Attack,” Wall Street Journal, September 17, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/saudi-arabia-increasingly-confident-iran-launched-oil-attack-11568733861

Has Iran given Donald Trump a gift?

Iran

I think Donald Trump is running for re-election and may be seeking a “rally ’round the flag” bump like George W. Bush got with the 9/11 attacks. We see that Trump wants to appear at least as tough as John Bolton,[1] who quit or was fired a few days ago,[2] and has declared that the U.S. is “locked and loaded.”[3] That said, I’m waiting for a refutation of the bit about “the scope and precision of the attacks [coming] from a west-northwest direction.”[4] (The site of the attack, which is also near Kuwait, lies to the west, across the Persian Gulf, from Iran.) It could be that the Iranian government has offered Trump a gift, albeit a gift that may come at considerable cost to its own people.

Jessica Donati, “Trump Has Few Options to Respond to Saudi Oil Attack,” Wall Street Journal, September 15, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-has-few-options-to-respond-to-saudi-oil-attack-11568509069

Bianca Quilantan, “Trump says U.S. ‘locked and loaded’ after attack on Saudi oil,” Politico, September 15, 2019, https://www.politico.com/story/2019/09/15/trump-locked-loaded-iran-saudi-arabia-1497452

Sheena McKenzie, et al., “Saudi attacks send oil prices soaring,” CNN, September 16, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/middleeast/live-news/saudi-oil-attack-dle-intl/index.html

Sputnik News, “US Officials Claim Yemen Not Behind Saudi Aramco Attack, Houthis Reveal ‘Intel Operation’ – Reports,” Global Security, September 16, 2019, https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/news/2019/09/mil-190916-sputnik01.htm


  1. [1]Tina Nguyen, “Trump Visibly Distressed by Media Describing Bolton as ‘Tougher’ Than Him,” Vanity Fair, September 12, 2019, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/09/donald-trump-vs-john-bolton
  2. [2]Anne Gearan, John Wagner, and Robert Costa, “Bolton out as national security adviser after clashing with Trump,” Washington Post, September 10, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-fires-bolton-as-national-security-adviser-saying-he-disagreed-strongly-with-many-of-his-suggestions/2019/09/10/13409e2c-d3b9-11e9-9610-fb56c5522e1c_story.html
  3. [3]Bianca Quilantan, “Trump says U.S. ‘locked and loaded’ after attack on Saudi oil,” Politico, September 15, 2019, https://www.politico.com/story/2019/09/15/trump-locked-loaded-iran-saudi-arabia-1497452
  4. [4]Sputnik News, “US Officials Claim Yemen Not Behind Saudi Aramco Attack, Houthis Reveal ‘Intel Operation’ – Reports,” Global Security, September 16, 2019, https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/news/2019/09/mil-190916-sputnik01.htm; see also Sheena McKenzie, et al., “Saudi attacks send oil prices soaring,” CNN, September 16, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/middleeast/live-news/saudi-oil-attack-dle-intl/index.html

California’s AB 5 has larger implications

Gig economy

There is a new blog post entitled, “The larger question of California’s AB 5.”

Angela Chen, “This is one way Uber and Lyft want to get around making drivers employees,” MIT Technology Review, September 13, 2019, https://www.technologyreview.com/s/614308/uber-lyft-ab5-gig-workers-labor-classification-third-category-tech-policy/

Noam Cohen, “How Tech Firms Like Uber Hide Behind the ‘Platform Defense,’” Wired, September 13, 2019, https://www.wired.com/story/how-tech-firms-like-uber-hide-behind-the-platform-defense/


Brexit

Tim Ross, Jess Shankleman, and Alex Morales, “Boris Johnson’s Nightmare on Downing Street,” Bloomberg, September 13, 2019, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-09-13/nightmare-on-downing-street-as-team-johnson-fears-brexit-mutiny


Iran

Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed credit for a drone attack on Saudi Arabian oil production facilities 500 miles away.[1]

Hours later, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo directly blamed Iran for “an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply.” Pompeo, however, offered no specific evidence.[2]

If the Trump administration is looking for an excuse to attack Iran, I suppose this will do. Even if Mike Pompeo is wrong about Iran launching the attack,[3] Iran backs the Houthi rebels and would likely have supplied the drones that would capable of hitting the target. It would almost be as if Donald Trump got rid of John Bolton[4] just in time (four days ago) to avoid him taking credit or blame for such a decision.

Kareem Fahim and Steven Mufson, “Saudi Arabia oil output takes major hit after apparent drone attacks claimed by Yemen rebels,” Washington Post, September 14, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/drone-attacks-on-saudi-oil-facilities-spark-explosions-and-fires/2019/09/14/b6fab6d0-d6b9-11e9-ab26-e6dbebac45d3_story.html


  1. [1]Kareem Fahim and Steven Mufson, “Saudi Arabia oil output takes major hit after apparent drone attacks claimed by Yemen rebels,” Washington Post, September 14, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/drone-attacks-on-saudi-oil-facilities-spark-explosions-and-fires/2019/09/14/b6fab6d0-d6b9-11e9-ab26-e6dbebac45d3_story.html
  2. [2]Kareem Fahim and Steven Mufson, “Saudi Arabia oil output takes major hit after apparent drone attacks claimed by Yemen rebels,” Washington Post, September 14, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/drone-attacks-on-saudi-oil-facilities-spark-explosions-and-fires/2019/09/14/b6fab6d0-d6b9-11e9-ab26-e6dbebac45d3_story.html
  3. [3]Kareem Fahim and Steven Mufson, “Saudi Arabia oil output takes major hit after apparent drone attacks claimed by Yemen rebels,” Washington Post, September 14, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/drone-attacks-on-saudi-oil-facilities-spark-explosions-and-fires/2019/09/14/b6fab6d0-d6b9-11e9-ab26-e6dbebac45d3_story.html
  4. [4]Anne Gearan, John Wagner, and Robert Costa, “Bolton out as national security adviser after clashing with Trump,” Washington Post, September 10, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-fires-bolton-as-national-security-adviser-saying-he-disagreed-strongly-with-many-of-his-suggestions/2019/09/10/13409e2c-d3b9-11e9-9610-fb56c5522e1c_story.html

Plan B: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Since I began this adventure, my mother has been urging me towards Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where I still have relatives and where, apparently, the cost of living is lower. I have explained to her (and she should already know because she’s read the book) that Pittsburgh is on the frontier between Colin Woodard’s Midlands and Greater Appalachia, the latter likely being the source of authoritarian populism. I think either she doesn’t really buy Colin Woodard’s sociocultural analysis of Yankeedom as being more civically engaged and scholarly-oriented[1] or that she doesn’t think the difference between Yankeedom and the Midlands will be that great (figure 1).

upinarms-map-large
Fig. 1. Colin Woodard’s sociocultural regions.[2]

And, to be honest, she may have a point: While Woodard’s history is—to say the very least—illuminating, he may essentialize geographic areas in his description of sociocultural regions; his regional archetypes and sharply drawn boundaries (apparently along county lines) all lack nuance. His description of Yankeedom covers an area mainly from New England to the eastern edge of the Dakotas,[3] some of which has looked rather authoritarian populist lately. Authoritarian populism is probably the most anti-intellectual conservative tendency—even more so than social conservatism or paleoconservatism (the other tendencies in Donald Trump’s oh so very precious base).

So now that I’ve fallen flat on my face in western Massachusetts, she’s gotten involved with the apartment hunt and things are distinctly looking up. I already have two appointments for Wednesday in the Pittsburgh area (with a third expected to contact me Monday).

Understand that the point I made yesterday about barriers to housing that affect the poor, especially the homeless, still applies.[4] But my Mom is not poor—to the extent our lives can be compared, she successfully changed careers while I never really found one I both wanted and could succeed in. She succeeded in developing that career, and though she was a newspaper reporter to the end of her career, she managed to buy a house, save some money, and maximize her pensions. Her involvement in my apartment search quite literally makes all the difference and if I didn’t have her, I’d probably have been homeless for the last ten years (I moved back in with her in December 2008 while I was finishing my M.A. and stayed there throughout my Ph.D. work and since).


I am still not yet caught up on the news. But my eyes are glazing over. Good night.


The Megalithic

Michael Price, “Were Europe’s megalithic societies patrilineal?” Science, April 15, 2019, https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/04/were-europe-s-megalithic-societies-patrilineal


Prison Guards

Philip Zimbardo might be feeling a bit of vindication about now.

Allyson Chiu, “‘Feeling cute, might just gas some inmates today’: Corrections officers face backlash over social media challenge,” Washington Post, April 18, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/04/17/feeling-cute-might-just-gas-some-inmates-today-corrections-officers-face-backlash-over-social-media-challenge/


Subprime Lending

Ben Lane, “No-income, no-asset mortgages are back (at one lender, at least),” Housing Wire, April 16, 2019, https://www.housingwire.com/articles/48810-no-income-no-asset-mortgages-are-back-at-one-lender-at-least


North Korea

Timothy W. Martin and Dasl Yoon, “North Korea Says It Test-Fired New Tactical Guided Weapon,” Wall Street Journal, April 17, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/kim-jong-un-sends-message-to-trump-with-military-visit-11555497814


Yemen

Simon Tisdall, “Trump’s veto over Yemen is a scandalous abuse of presidential power,” Guardian, April 17, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/17/donald-trump-yemen-veto-war-saudi-arabia-scandalous-abuse


San Francisco

Dan Kopf, “San Francisco’s Diversity Numbers Are Looking More and More Like a Tech Company’s,” Atlantic, April 19, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/04/san-francisco-city-apps-built-or-destroyed/587389/


Julian Assange

Kevin Gosztola, “FBI affidavit in Assange case Shows government is criminalizing publication of Afghanistan war logs,” Shadowproof, April 16, 2019, https://shadowproof.com/2019/04/16/fbi-affidavit-in-assange-case-shows-government-is-criminalizing-publication-of-afghanistan-war-logs/


  1. [1]Colin Woodard, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America (New York: Penguin, 2011).
  2. [2]I regret that due to my move, at this writing, I do not have access to track down where I found this map. I believe it was in an online article that pointed me to the book by Colin Woodard, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America (New York: Penguin, 2011) wherein, as I recall, a similar map appears.
  3. [3]Colin Woodard, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America (New York: Penguin, 2011).
  4. [4]David Benfell, “If you don’t like homelessness, here’s an idea: Make it possible to rent an apartment,” Not Housebroken, April 19, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/04/19/if-you-dont-like-homelessness-heres-an-idea-make-it-possible-to-rent-an-apartment/