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/

Endless, endless war

War

There is a new blog post entitled, “Raw, naked power.”

Simon Jenkins, “The US and Britain face no existential threat. So why do their wars go on?” Guardian, November 15, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/nov/15/britain-and-us-wars-conflicts-middle-east


Julian Assange

Karla Adam, “Sweden drops alleged rape investigation against Julian Assange of WikiLeaks,” Washington Post, November 19, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/sweden-drops-alleged-rape-investigation-against-julian-assange-of-wikileaks/2019/11/19/a0c4a9ae-0ad3-11ea-8054-289aef6e38a3_story.html


Palestine

Michael Bachner and Jacob Magid, “Settler leaders call for West Bank annexation after US shifts stance,” Times of Israel, November 18, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/settler-leaders-call-for-west-bank-annexation-after-us-shifts-stance/


Jeffrey Epstein

I’m not seeing much explanation on the conspiracy charge.[1]

Rebecca Davis O’Brien and Sadie Gurman, “Jeffrey Epstein’s Jail Guards Charged With Conspiracy, Records Falsification,” Wall Street Journal, November 19, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/jeffrey-epsteins-jail-guards-charged-11574181201


  1. [1]Rebecca Davis O’Brien and Sadie Gurman, “Jeffrey Epstein’s Jail Guards Charged With Conspiracy, Records Falsification,” Wall Street Journal, November 19, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/jeffrey-epsteins-jail-guards-charged-11574181201

Hillary Clinton, narcissist

Hillary Clinton

There is a new blog post entitled, “Hillary Clinton needs to just shut the fuck up.”

Dan Merica, “Hillary Clinton suggests Russians are ‘grooming’ Tulsi Gabbard for third-party run,” CNN, October 21, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/18/politics/hillary-clinton-tulsi-gabbard/index.html

Nathan Robinson, “Hillary Clinton’s attacks on Tulsi Gabbard are embarrassing,” Guardian, October 22, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/oct/22/hillary-clinton-tulsi-gabbard-embarrassing-paranoid


Migration

The Chronicle of Higher Education has some of the backstory[1] to the drama over the Flores Settlement and the treatment of migrant children.[2]

Emma Pettit, “The Witnesses,” Chronicle of Higher Education, October 16, 2019, https://www.chronicle.com/interactives/20191016-the-witness


Brexit

Boris Johnson finally won one.[3] He also lost yet another one.[4] These two stories differ mostly in emphasis, and I’m still thinking about the significance of who chose which emphasis.

William Booth and Karla Adam, “Parliament denies Boris Johnson support for his fast-tracked Brexit deal, making Oct. 31 exit unlikely,” Washington Post, October 22, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/brexit-fast-or-slow-boris-johnson-faces-big-votes-tuesday/2019/10/22/dc12989c-f447-11e9-b2d2-1f37c9d82dbb_story.html

Max Colchester and Jason Douglas, “Johnson’s Brexit Deal Clears Hurdle in Parliament but His Timetable Is Rejected,” Wall Street Journal, October 22, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/boris-johnsons-brexit-deal-clears-vital-hurdle-in-parliament-11571768188


  1. [1]Emma Pettit, “The Witnesses,” Chronicle of Higher Education, October 16, 2019, https://www.chronicle.com/interactives/20191016-the-witness
  2. [2]Priscilla Alvarez, “Lawmakers, including Ocasio-Cortez, lash out over conditions following border facility tours,” CNN, July 2, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/01/politics/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-clint-texas-facility/index.html; Caitlin Dickerson, “‘There Is a Stench’: No Soap and Overcrowding in Detention Centers for Migrant Children,” New York Times, June 21, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/21/us/migrant-children-border-soap.html; Adam Harris, “An Astonishing Government Report on Conditions at the Border,” Atlantic, July 3, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2019/07/government-report-details-inhumane-conditions-migrant-facilities/593242/; Miriam Jordan, “Judge Orders Swift Action to Improve Conditions for Migrant Children in Texas,” New York Times, June 29, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/29/us/migrant-children-detention-texas.html; Alejandro Lazo and Jacob Gershman, “Lawsuit Alleges Government Mistreatment of Migrant Children,” Wall Street Journal, June 27, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lawsuit-alleges-government-mistreatment-of-migrant-children-11561608969; Katie Mettler, Mike DeBonis, and Reis Thebault, “Border agents confiscated lawmakers’ phones. Joaquin Castro captured photo and video anyway,” Washington Post, July 2, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/07/02/ocasio-cortez-says-dispute-with-border-patrol-agents-started-after-one-tried-take-stealth-selfie/
  3. [3]Max Colchester and Jason Douglas, “Johnson’s Brexit Deal Clears Hurdle in Parliament but His Timetable Is Rejected,” Wall Street Journal, October 22, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/boris-johnsons-brexit-deal-clears-vital-hurdle-in-parliament-11571768188
  4. [4]William Booth and Karla Adam, “Parliament denies Boris Johnson support for his fast-tracked Brexit deal, making Oct. 31 exit unlikely,” Washington Post, October 22, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/brexit-fast-or-slow-boris-johnson-faces-big-votes-tuesday/2019/10/22/dc12989c-f447-11e9-b2d2-1f37c9d82dbb_story.html

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


 

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

Forever war and inhumanity, delusional raging narcissist-in-chief style

Migration

27_10:04:55-1The Washington Post caption: “In a photo first published in the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, the bodies of Salvadoran migrant Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his nearly 2-year-old daughter, Valeria, are seen on the banks of the Rio Grande in Matamoros, Mexico, after they drowned trying to cross the river to Brownsville, Tex. (Julia Le Duc/AP)” Image via the Washington Post, June 27, 2019, fair use.[1]

Philip Kennicott, “We used to think photos like this could change the world. What needs to change is who we are,” Washington Post, June 27, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/we-used-to-think-photos-like-this-could-change-the-world-what-needs-to-change-is-who-we-are/2019/06/26/53c9087a-982d-11e9-830a-21b9b36b64ad_story.html

Alejandro Lazo and Jacob Gershman, “Lawsuit Alleges Government Mistreatment of Migrant Children,” Wall Street Journal, June 27, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lawsuit-alleges-government-mistreatment-of-migrant-children-11561608969


Iran

Where have we heard this[2] before? Oh yes, here it is:

July 11, 2002 – “Support for Saddam, including within his military organization, will collapse after the first whiff of gunpowder.” – Richard Perle, then Pentagon Defense Policy Board chairman. . . .

November 14, 2002 – “The Gulf War in the 1990s lasted five days on the ground. I can’t tell you if the use of force in Iraq today would last five days, or five weeks or five months. But it certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that.” – Then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. . . .

March 16, 2003 – “I think things have gotten so bad inside Iraq, from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.” – U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney to U.S. television network NBC. . . .

May 1, 2003 – “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.” – U.S. President George W. Bush, aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln under a banner declaring “Mission Accomplished”.[3]

I am also recalling David Halberstam’s description of the “Five O’Clock Follies” in which military officials daily delivered rosy assessments of the war effort in Vietnam.[4]

So okay, let’s play. According the CIA World Factbook:[5]

  1. Afghanistan has a land surface area of 652,230 sq km and a population of 34,940,837 (July 2018 est.).[6] We are still at war there.
  2. Iraq has a land surface area of 437,367 sq km and a population of 40,194,216 (July 2018 est.).[7] The war with the Islamic State has mostly wound down, but I haven’t heard anyone say we’re finished with the war in Iraq.
  3. So now, drum roll, please: Iran has a land surface area of 1,531,595 sq km and a population of 83,024,745 (July 2018 est.).[8] That is, over twice the land area of Afghanistan and nearly four times the area of Iraq. And something approaching three times the population of Afghanistan and over double that of Iraq. “President Trump said Wednesday [June 26] that a war with Iran would not ‘last very long’ or involve ground troops, as he seemingly dismissed warnings that limited U.S. military action could spiral into a larger conflict.”[9] He proposes this while we are still embroiled in George W. Bush’s Global War on Terror (even if we don’t call it that anymore).

Oh yeah, hubris, baby!

John Wagner and Dan Lamothe, “Trump says war with Iran would not involve ground troops or last long,” Washington Post, June 26, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-says-war-with-iran-would-not-involve-ground-troops-and-not-last-long/2019/06/26/9a0e9918-9813-11e9-830a-21b9b36b64ad_story.html


Donald Trump

I am remembering Jürgen Habermas’ description of a conflict between business leaders and royalty in which the latter felt ordinary people too ignorant, idiotic, and ill-informed to judge discussions with foreign leaders.[10] Of course, a lot of people think the “ignorant, idiotic, and informed” description would apply to Donald Trump himself and so when we see Trump saying that what he says to Vladimir Putin is “none of your business,”[11] what we see is how deep the gulf is between Trump with his sycophants and many of the rest of us.

Meanwhile, I’m remembering another photograph:
27_10:29:43-12The Time caption: “A handout photograph from the German government shows a group of leaders at the Group of Seven summit, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Trump, in Canada on June 9, 2018.” Via Time, June 10, 2018, fair use.[12]

I can’t help but think that foreign leaders on the one hand understand they must deal with Trump due to U.S. military and economic heft. And I’ll grant that Putin probably sees a man he can take advantage of. But for the rest, that must somehow still fail to answer the question, why are they dealing with this man?

Brett Samuels, “Trump to reporter: What I say to Putin at G-20 is none of your business,” Hill, June 26, 2019, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/450465-trump-to-reporter-what-i-say-to-putin-at-g20-is-none-of-your-business

Elizabeth Dwoskin and Tony Romm, “Twitter adds labels for tweets that break its rules — a move with potentially stark implications for Trump’s account,” Washington Post, June 27, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/06/27/twitter-adds-labels-tweets-that-break-its-rules-putting-president-trump-companys-crosshairs/


Israel

It’s hard to say who is more shameless: Donald Trump or Binyamin Netanyahu.

In yesterday’s installment, we learned that Netanyahu was reconsidering the move to a second election after having failed to form a coalition to govern.[13] It turns out that the basic law which controls how Israel is governed is much, much easier to amend than, say, the U.S. Constitution. So guess what Likud’s plan is?[14] Anything, it seems, is legitimate, so long as it keeps Netanyahu in power. Netanyahu may match Trump in shamelessness, but Trump probably can’t match Netanyahu’s execution.

Jacob Magid, “After leading vote to dissolve Knesset, PM’s looking at a redo. Is that allowed?” Times of Israel, June 26, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/after-leading-vote-to-dissolve-knesset-pms-looking-at-a-redo-is-that-allowed/


Gerrymandering

In which a conservative Supreme Court decides it can’t do anything (so, sorry!) about conservatives rigging electoral districts to keep conservatives in power.[15]

David G. Savage and Mark Z. Barabak, “Supreme Court’s approval of partisan gerrymandering raises 2020 election stakes,” Los Angeles Times, June 27, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-supreme-court-partisan-gerrymandering-republicans-20190627-story.html


  1. [1]Philip Kennicott, “We used to think photos like this could change the world. What needs to change is who we are,” Washington Post, June 27, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/we-used-to-think-photos-like-this-could-change-the-world-what-needs-to-change-is-who-we-are/2019/06/26/53c9087a-982d-11e9-830a-21b9b36b64ad_story.html
  2. [2]John Wagner and Dan Lamothe, “Trump says war with Iran would not involve ground troops or last long,” Washington Post, June 26, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-says-war-with-iran-would-not-involve-ground-troops-and-not-last-long/2019/06/26/9a0e9918-9813-11e9-830a-21b9b36b64ad_story.html
  3. [3]Dean Yates, “Iraq war, the notable quotes,” March 11, 2008, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iraq-war-quotes/factbox-iraq-war-the-notable-quotes-idUSL212762520080311
  4. [4]David Halberstam, The Powers That Be (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois, 2000).
  5. [5]Central Intelligence Agency, “World Factbook,” n.d., https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/
  6. [6]Central Intelligence Agency, “World Factbook,” n.d., https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/
  7. [7]Central Intelligence Agency, “World Factbook,” n.d., https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/
  8. [8]Central Intelligence Agency, “World Factbook,” n.d., https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/
  9. [9]John Wagner and Dan Lamothe, “Trump says war with Iran would not involve ground troops or last long,” Washington Post, June 26, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-says-war-with-iran-would-not-involve-ground-troops-and-not-last-long/2019/06/26/9a0e9918-9813-11e9-830a-21b9b36b64ad_story.html
  10. [10]Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, trans. Thomas Burger with Frederick Lawrence (Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1991).
  11. [11]Donald Trump, quoted in Brett Samuels, “Trump to reporter: What I say to Putin at G-20 is none of your business,” Hill, June 26, 2019, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/450465-trump-to-reporter-what-i-say-to-putin-at-g20-is-none-of-your-business
  12. [12]Andrew Katz, “A Single Photo Captured President Trump’s Approach to the G7 Summit,” Time, June 10, 2018, https://time.com/5307314/donald-trump-angela-merkel-g-7-photograph/
  13. [13]Ruth Eglash, “Netanyahu reportedly trying to undo Israel’s election redo,” Washington Post, June 26, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/netanyahu-reportedly-trying-to-undo-israels-election-redo/2019/06/26/e2742366-97f1-11e9-830a-21b9b36b64ad_story.html
  14. [14]Jacob Magid, “After leading vote to dissolve Knesset, PM’s looking at a redo. Is that allowed?” Times of Israel, June 26, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/after-leading-vote-to-dissolve-knesset-pms-looking-at-a-redo-is-that-allowed/
  15. [15]David G. Savage and Mark Z. Barabak, “Supreme Court’s approval of partisan gerrymandering raises 2020 election stakes,” Los Angeles Times, June 27, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-supreme-court-partisan-gerrymandering-republicans-20190627-story.html

Intractable idiocy

Iran

One way to begin any discussion of war with Iran is with a recognition that the country is larger and more populous than either Iraq or Afghanistan. And that the U.S. isn’t finished with either of George W. Bush’s and Barack Obama’s wars in those countries. So it’s hard to fathom any claim of easy or instant victory, at least on the terms in which the U.S. has fought its existing wars.

How could this time be different? Could it be that when Donald Trump threatens obliteration and “overwhelming force,”[1] he means nuclear force?

Peter Beinart, “The Question the Iran Hawks Haven’t Answered,” Atlantic, June 24, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/06/iran-hawks-owe-americans-some-answers/592390/

Erin Cunningham and Ruth Eglash, “Trump warns Iran of ‘overwhelming force’ in the event of an attack on ‘anything American,’” Washington Post, June 25, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/iran-says-path-to-diplomacypermanently-closed-following-us-sanctions/2019/06/25/636b48e6-96b7-11e9-9a16-dc551ea5a43b_story.html


Brexit

We’re actually back to talking about Brexit. Yes, actually Brexit. Which probably means that the Tory power struggle is all but settled in favor of Boris Johnson, at least until he actually wins the Tory contest, when he will need to secure a confidence vote in Parliament.[2]. Of course, nothing else actually has changed. The backstop is unavoidable, no matter what the Tories fantasize.[3] A hard Brexit remains the default.[4] But the new government could well collapse, failing even to secure an vote of confidence.[5]

Jessica Elgot, “New PM faces losing Commons confidence, Tory MPs warn,” Guardian, June 21, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/21/next-tory-pm-will-face-serious-challenge-trying-to-secure-commons-confidence

Daniel Boffey, “However you look at it, the logic of a Brexit backstop refuses to yield,” Guardian, June 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/24/however-look-logic-brexit-backstop-refuses-to-yield-irish

Peter Walker, “Boris Johnson ‘could face Tory coup’ over no-deal Brexit stance,” Guardian, June 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/24/boris-johnson-tory-coup-deal-brexit-tobias-ellwood-jeremy-hunt


Student loans

I remember telling my students not to be oblivious to the student loans they were racking up, but to consider that this is a middle class issue, and that some kind of relief was all but inevitable. In fact, this was manifest with Barack Obama’s steps on income-based repayment but there’s an argument for considerably more. The trouble will lie in that relief, especially for those like myself who racked up huge loans in graduate school, will often flow to those unlike myself who are most able to repay.[6]

I think my own view is that student loans are only one part of the problem in academia. First and foremost, a neoliberal takeover of institutions must be reversed, restoring universities to something somewhat closer to what they are supposed to be, and moving away from job training. Universities are supposed to be centers for the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge; not all knowledge fits neatly with the capitalist profit motive and though we forget this under neoliberalism, there is much, much more to life than the neoliberal particularization and essentialization of human beings as economic units of production and this latter creates severe social problems which also need to be, but are increasingly rarely, addressed as social science programs and humanities programs seem caught in a downward spiral.

Second, athletics need to be divorced from universities. Athletics programs help feed the administrative lust for money, which largely goes to overpaid and self-aggrandizing administrations, and increasingly less toward faculty and research. Visit the University of California, Berkeley, or Stanford on the day of a big game and you see what universities have become really about. Alumni don’t care about current students (except their own children) and they don’t care about what universities are about. It’s about the football, baby. And that needs to end, decades ago.

Third, that anything like two thirds or three quarters of faculty hiring is for woefully underpaid adjuncts should be a scandal. But neoliberalism seemingly makes it all okay. Because despite all these “ivory towers,” we’re anti-intellectual. We just use universities to lie to ourselves about that.

Fourth, that success in attracting grants covering not only the cost of research but helping to defray the administratively-inflated costs of academic programs seem increasingly essential in securing tenure-track faculty positions should be a scandal. Again, neoliberalism, baby, as scholars are particularized and essentialized as economic units of production rather than as what they’re supposed to be: contributors to knowledge.

Fifth, the notion of academic disciplines in the social sciences deserves a very hard look. Right now, they are centers for empire building. They function as blinders as the boundaries between them are arbitrary and ambiguous and scholars inevitably transgress them but lack the preparation to do so. This is deeply damaging to scholarship as the silo walls are reinforced under a neoliberal assault and transdisciplinary scholars such as myself are excluded.

Finally, we need to understand the university, with its mission properly understood, as a social good in and of itself. That we do not informs us that the political and economic elite are not interested in actual solutions to or even in actually understanding problems but rather in pandering to whomever and whatever protects their position.

Steven Johnson, “‘No Exceptions, No Questions Asked’: Progressives Propose Legislation Canceling All Student-Loan Debt,” Chronicle of Higher Education, June 24, 2019, https://www.chronicle.com/article/No-Exceptions-No-Questions/246553


Horse abuse

John Cherwa, “Bill allowing horse racing to be suspended approved by California Legislature,” Los Angeles Times, June 24, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/sports/more/la-sp-gavin-newsom-chrb-california-horse-racing-20190624-story.html


  1. [1]Erin Cunningham and Ruth Eglash, “Trump warns Iran of ‘overwhelming force’ in the event of an attack on ‘anything American,’” Washington Post, June 25, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/iran-says-path-to-diplomacypermanently-closed-following-us-sanctions/2019/06/25/636b48e6-96b7-11e9-9a16-dc551ea5a43b_story.html
  2. [2]Peter Walker, “Boris Johnson ‘could face Tory coup’ over no-deal Brexit stance,” Guardian, June 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/24/boris-johnson-tory-coup-deal-brexit-tobias-ellwood-jeremy-hunt
  3. [3]Daniel Boffey, “However you look at it, the logic of a Brexit backstop refuses to yield,” Guardian, June 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/24/however-look-logic-brexit-backstop-refuses-to-yield-irish
  4. [4]Jack Maidment, “Theresa May’s deal defeated again by 58 votes – PM hints at general election to break deadlock,” Telegraph, March 29, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/03/29/brexit-latest-news-theresa-may-final-push-mps-prepare-vote-withdrawal/
  5. [5]Jessica Elgot, “New PM faces losing Commons confidence, Tory MPs warn,” Guardian, June 21, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/21/next-tory-pm-will-face-serious-challenge-trying-to-secure-commons-confidence; Peter Walker, “Boris Johnson ‘could face Tory coup’ over no-deal Brexit stance,” Guardian, June 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/24/boris-johnson-tory-coup-deal-brexit-tobias-ellwood-jeremy-hunt
  6. [6]Steven Johnson, “‘No Exceptions, No Questions Asked’: Progressives Propose Legislation Canceling All Student-Loan Debt,” Chronicle of Higher Education, June 24, 2019, https://www.chronicle.com/article/No-Exceptions-No-Questions/246553

What? Are you trying to tell me that row Boris Johnson had with Carrie Symonds might reflect on his character? Really? Surely you jest.

Updates

  1. Originally published, June 23, 6:18 pm.
  2. June 23, 11:20 pm:
    • Joe Biden might not be the only candidate for the neoliberal party nomination tripped up by race.[1] The police in South Bend, Indiana, are tripping up Pete Buttigieg with—oh, gee, this should be a surprise—the shooting of a Black man.[2]

Boris Johnson

What’s this? Do the British take domestic arguments apparently verging on violence[3] seriously and possibly as a reflection on the prime minister-apparent’s character? It seems some of them might. Not Boris Johnson: He claimed that voters were entitled to know about his character but then refused to answer questions on the incident as if it had no relevance to his character whatsoever.[4] Neither the Telegraph: Their coverage emphasizes that the neighbor who recorded the fight and called police supports Jeremy Corbyn and is a remainer. The Telegraph also suggests that Carrie Symonds may have been distraught about a black cab rapist, whom she apparently had ridden with and been drugged by.[5]

Gotta tell you: The discrepancy in coverage here is jarring as the Telegraph, a conservative paper, appears to seek to deflect blame from Johnson onto anyone else: Symonds or the neighbor,[6] perhaps others yet to be determined (I blame both Symonds and Johnson[7]), while the Guardian, a neoliberal paper, reports that senior Tories are alarmed and that public support for Johnson is dropping.[8]

Edward Malnick, Patrick Sawer, and Steve Bird, “Left-wing neighbours admit to taping Boris Johnson row with partner Carrie Symonds,” Telegraph, June 22, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/06/22/left-wing-neighbours-admit-taping-boris-johnson-row-girlfriend/

Michael Savage, Toby Helm, and Simon Murphy, “Boris Johnson under fire over row with partner as top Tories raise fears,” Guardian, June 22, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/22/boris-johnson-under-fire-questions-hustings-late-night-argument


Social Conservatives

This is when I wish I had easier access to my old archive because M. Reza Behnam provides a center[9] for the articles I found on elements of social conservatism that deal with eschatology (“end times” ideology) and the link between Israel, armageddon, and the U.S. political class. To say this is an important article is much too cheap.

What isn’t here is much at all on the neoconservative angle, though Behnam points to George W. Bush’s “axis of evil” rhetoric.[10] Bush named Iraq, Iran, and North Korea[11] even though al Qaeda’s leadership was based in Afghanistan[12] and the 9/11 hijackers were mostly (all but four of nineteen) Saudi nationals.[13] Rhetorically, Bush unified these countries to substitute for the old Soviet Union as an essential (to neoconservatives) monolithic enemy.

M. Reza Behnam, “Selling Israel Biblically,” Tikkun, June 20, 2019, https://www.tikkun.org/selling-israel-biblically


Dissertation

I have finally managed to get a copy of my dissertation on line. It’s also available in other places, some publicly, but here, I can find it and that, in turn, will make it easier to locate some of the sources I used in writing it.

My dissertation turned out to be much more of an opus magnum than dissertations are supposed to be; it came in at over 400 pages when they’re supposed be closer to 100. But it really was a culmination of my scholarly career to that point, which in turn had unintentionally become an exploration of why my life has turned out the way it has. It’s far from perfect; I think most scholars will tell you in hindsight that they have regrets about their dissertations. But it was the best I could do at the time.

This version is better than what I had managed to previously post on parts-unknown.org thanks to a really cool piece of software called pandoc, which is wonderful for converting between various text formats.


Turkey

While celebrating Mr. [Ekrem] Imamoglu’s victory, members of his Republican People’s Party, or CHP, cautioned that Mr. [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan had a track record of canceling the results of elections when he doesn’t like the outcome. Mr. Erdogan canceled a legislative vote in 2015 in which the AKP had failed to garner a majority. In recent months, his administration has annulled scores of municipal votes across Turkey, replacing opposition mayors by government-appointed caretakers.[14]

As was suspected when “Mr. Imamoglu had defeated the AKP [Justice and Development Party] candidate in the initial March municipal ballot, but electoral authorities had voided the results after Mr. Erdogan complained of fraud and called for a do-over.”[15]

Kareem Fahim, “Opposition candidate wins in do-over of Istanbul’s mayoral race, dealing setback to Erdogan’s ruling party,” Washington Post, June 23, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/opposition-candidate-wins-in-do-over-of-istanbuls-mayoral-race-dealing-setback-to-erdogans-ruling-party/2019/06/23/3a59c3cc-92d1-11e9-956a-88c291ab5c38_story.html

David Gauthier-Villars, “In Setback for Erdogan, Opposition Candidate Wins Istanbul Mayor Seat,” Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-setback-for-erdogan-opposition-candidate-wins-istanbul-mayor-seat-11561309654


Pete Buttigieg

Matt Pearce, “Black residents of South Bend unload on Mayor Pete Buttigieg,” Los Angeles Times, June 23, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-2020-pete-buttigieg-mayor-police-shooting-black-voters-20190624-story.html


  1. [1]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; 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; Greg Sargent, “Joe Biden is badly undermining his ability to challenge Trump,” Washington Post, June 20, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/06/20/joe-biden-is-badly-undermining-his-case-against-trump/; Matt Viser and Annie Linskey, “Tensions ripple through Biden campaign as his past working relationship with a segregationist senator comes to the forefront,” Washington Post, June 20, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/tensions-ripple-through-biden-campaign-as-his-past-working-relationship-with-a-segregationist-senator-comes-to-the-forefront/2019/06/20/2518afe6-9394-11e9-b570-6416efdc0803_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
  2. [2]Matt Pearce, “Black residents of South Bend unload on Mayor Pete Buttigieg,” Los Angeles Times, June 23, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-2020-pete-buttigieg-mayor-police-shooting-black-voters-20190624-story.html
  3. [3]Gordon Rayner, “Police called to home of Boris Johnson and partner Carrie Symonds after reports of loud altercation,” Telegraph, June 21, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/06/21/police-called-home-boris-johnson-girlfriend-reports-altercation/; Jim Waterson, “Boris Johnson: police called to loud altercation at potential PM’s home,” Guardian, June 21, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/21/police-called-to-loud-altercation-at-boris-johnsons-home
  4. [4]Michael Savage, Toby Helm, and Simon Murphy, “Boris Johnson under fire over row with partner as top Tories raise fears,” Guardian, June 22, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/22/boris-johnson-under-fire-questions-hustings-late-night-argument
  5. [5]Edward Malnick, Patrick Sawer, and Steve Bird, “Left-wing neighbours admit to taping Boris Johnson row with partner Carrie Symonds,” Telegraph, June 22, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/06/22/left-wing-neighbours-admit-taping-boris-johnson-row-girlfriend/
  6. [6]Edward Malnick, Patrick Sawer, and Steve Bird, “Left-wing neighbours admit to taping Boris Johnson row with partner Carrie Symonds,” Telegraph, June 22, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/06/22/left-wing-neighbours-admit-taping-boris-johnson-row-girlfriend/
  7. [7]David Benfell, “Police called for a relationship made in Hell,” Irregular Bullshit, June 22, 2019, https://disunitedstates.com/2019/06/22/police-called-for-a-relationship-made-in-hell/
  8. [8]Michael Savage, Toby Helm, and Simon Murphy, “Boris Johnson under fire over row with partner as top Tories raise fears,” Guardian, June 22, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/22/boris-johnson-under-fire-questions-hustings-late-night-argument
  9. [9]M. Reza Behnam, “Selling Israel Biblically,” Tikkun, June 20, 2019, https://www.tikkun.org/selling-israel-biblically
  10. [10]M. Reza Behnam, “Selling Israel Biblically,” Tikkun, June 20, 2019, https://www.tikkun.org/selling-israel-biblically
  11. [11]Andrew Glass, “President Bush cites ‘axis of evil,’ Jan. 29, 2002,” Politico, January 29, 2019, https://www.politico.com/story/2019/01/29/bush-axis-of-evil-2002-1127725
  12. [12]Public Broadcasting System, “Background: al Qaeda,” Frontline, n.d., https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/network/alqaeda/indictment.html
  13. [13]CNN, “September 11 Hijackers Fast Facts,” September 5, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2013/07/27/us/september-11th-hijackers-fast-facts/index.html
  14. [14]David Gauthier-Villars, “In Setback for Erdogan, Opposition Candidate Wins Istanbul Mayor Seat,” Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-setback-for-erdogan-opposition-candidate-wins-istanbul-mayor-seat-11561309654
  15. [15]David Gauthier-Villars, “In Setback for Erdogan, Opposition Candidate Wins Istanbul Mayor Seat,” Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-setback-for-erdogan-opposition-candidate-wins-istanbul-mayor-seat-11561309654

John Bolton’s wet dream may turn real

Iran

“I think Iran is showing that it has teeth,” said Charles Hollis, a former British diplomat in Tehran who is now managing director of the Falanx Assynt consultancy. “It’s a way of showing that if they are backed into a corner they are not without means of causing grief.”[1]

I see three additional possibilities, none of which I regard as particularly more likely than any of the others:

  1. Iran’s government has, or perhaps the Revolutionary Guards have, concluded that if war is to come, it’s better to get on with it sooner rather than later. Their assessment would be due to economic sanctions diminishing Iranian war capability (if they in fact do).
  2. A “false flag” operation by either the U.S. or its allies, including Israel.

    Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, said “suspicious doesn’t begin to describe” the incident in Gulf of Oman. He previously suggested without evidence that Israel was staging the attacks to undermine Iran.[2]

    The video is blurry and black and white. Even if we accept Mike Pompeo’s claim that the attack required a certain level of expertise and weaponry,[3] such a video does not support attribution to any particular state actor.

  3. Some or all of it is bullshit:

    [T]he Japanese operator of Kokuka Courageous said the crew saw “flying objects” just before the attack, suggesting the tanker was damaged by something other than mines. Yutaka Katada, the company president, said reports of a mine attack were “false”.[4]

    Avenues of information from the region are limited. The U.S. can pretty much say what it wants, claim whatever it wants to claim, and not many folks are going to question it. Remember, John Bolton, who is now Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor, has been lusting for war with Iran for decades and he has falsified claims in the past.[5] Further remember that journalists have a long history of falling into line even with dubious White House and Pentagon claims on international affairs.[6]

The Telegraph has the video.[7] Trust nothing, especially appeals to “classified” evidence.[8]

Remember as well that Donald Trump 1) can use a distraction or two, 2) relies almost exclusively on various bullying tactics to “negotiate,” and 3) is stymied when bullying tactics fail. With number three on that list, and Bolton’s lust for war, the situation with Iran can only be described as extremely dangerous. This would not be a war the U.S. can win, any more than it won in Vietnam, Afghanistan, or Iraq. Many, possibly millions of, people will die all so Bolton can get a hard-on.

Nick Allen, Raf Sanchez, and Rozina Sabur, “US releases footage ‘showing Iran removing unexploded mine’ from stricken oil tanker,” Telegraph, June 14, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/06/14/us-releases-footage-showing-iran-removing-unexploded-mine-stricken/

Julian Borger and Patrick Wintour, “US says video shows Iranian military removing mine from tanker,” Guardian, June 14, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jun/13/mike-pompeo-iran-gulf-oil-tanker-attacks


Donald Trump

Donald Trump “is historically unpopular for a President by many measures, but no matter what he does the allegiance of some forty per cent of the American public has so far remained unwavering.”[9] Presumably that’s based on nine percent response rate polling.

Susan B. Glasser, “Forget “No Collusion.” Trump Is Now Pro-Collusion,” New Yorker, June 13, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-trumps-washington/forget-no-collusion-trump-is-now-pro-collusion


Ride sharing

Sarah Holder, “Uber and Lyft Really Don’t Want California to Pass This Worker Rights Bill,” Atlantic, June 13, 2019, https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2019/06/gig-economy-employment-law-california-bill-ab-5-uber-lyft/591565/


  1. [1]Nick Allen, Raf Sanchez, and Rozina Sabur, “US releases footage ‘showing Iran removing unexploded mine’ from stricken oil tanker,” Telegraph, June 14, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/06/14/us-releases-footage-showing-iran-removing-unexploded-mine-stricken/
  2. [2]Nick Allen, Raf Sanchez, and Rozina Sabur, “US releases footage ‘showing Iran removing unexploded mine’ from stricken oil tanker,” Telegraph, June 14, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/06/14/us-releases-footage-showing-iran-removing-unexploded-mine-stricken/
  3. [3]Nick Allen, Raf Sanchez, and Rozina Sabur, “US releases footage ‘showing Iran removing unexploded mine’ from stricken oil tanker,” Telegraph, June 14, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/06/14/us-releases-footage-showing-iran-removing-unexploded-mine-stricken/; Julian Borger and Patrick Wintour, “US says video shows Iranian military removing mine from tanker,” Guardian, June 14, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jun/13/mike-pompeo-iran-gulf-oil-tanker-attacks
  4. [4]Nick Allen, Raf Sanchez, and Rozina Sabur, “US releases footage ‘showing Iran removing unexploded mine’ from stricken oil tanker,” Telegraph, June 14, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/06/14/us-releases-footage-showing-iran-removing-unexploded-mine-stricken/
  5. [5]Dexter Filkins, “John Bolton on the Warpath,” New Yorker, April 29, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/05/06/john-bolton-on-the-warpath
  6. [6]J. Herbert Altschull, Agents of Power: The Media and Public Policy, 2nd ed. (White Plains, NY: Longman, 1995); David Halberstam, The Powers That Be (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois, 2000); Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (New York: Pantheon, 2002).
  7. [7]Nick Allen, Raf Sanchez, and Rozina Sabur, “US releases footage ‘showing Iran removing unexploded mine’ from stricken oil tanker,” Telegraph, June 14, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/06/14/us-releases-footage-showing-iran-removing-unexploded-mine-stricken/
  8. [8]The claim that evidence is “classified” is an excuse for not supplying that evidence. It is unacceptable in lieu of the actual evidence.
  9. [9]Susan B. Glasser, “Forget “No Collusion.” Trump Is Now Pro-Collusion,” New Yorker, June 13, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-trumps-washington/forget-no-collusion-trump-is-now-pro-collusion