All hail King narcissist-in-chief

It’s not at all uncommon to see squirrels in the roadway as I drive around Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, quite a few end up as roadkill.

But today I saw one of a sort I hadn’t seen before. S/he saw me coming, scampered off to the side by a parked car, turned around, and stood on his/her hind legs, revealing a white chest and belly.

Against an otherwise grey coat, it was really rather fetching.


Brexit

Boris Johnson accepted border checks on the Irish Sea.[1] Now, it seems, he’ll have them in the English Channel as well,[2] suggesting that this state of affairs will not be temporary.

The Prime Minister will say sovereignty is more important than frictionless trade, defying warnings from Brussels that the UK must accept EU standards on goods if it wants the best possible deal.

Whitehall sources have told The Daily Telegraph that while Mr [Boris] Johnson wants to avoid tariffs and quotas on cross-Channel trade, he will never cave in to demands for alignment on regulations, despite knowing “the consequences that flow from that”.[3]

Look for long lines in Dover and shortages in Britain as distributors adjust.[4] But hey, wave that Union Jack.[5]

James Crisp, “Flag-waving Nigel Farage cut off in farewell speech as European Parliament ratifies Brexit deal,” Telegraph, January 29, 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/01/29/european-parliament-ratifies-brexit-deal-paves-way-britain-leave/

Gordon Rayner, “Boris Johnson will tell the EU he is prepared to accept post-Brexit border checks,” Telegraph, January 29, 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/01/29/boris-johnson-will-tell-eu-prepared-accept-post-brexit-border/


Palestine

Not seein’ much love for Donald Trump’s plan from anyone except the Israelis and the Trump administration.

I saw a comment correctly emphasizing that Palestinian voices should be heard on Trump’s “Deal of the Century.” But the truth is, their reaction is no more surprising than that of the Israelis. The so-called deal—a ‘diktat,’ as multiple scholars have labeled it—stinks and Palestinians know it. What’s more interesting is when pretty much everyone else recognizes it as well.[6]

In normal times, this would suggest that Trump has failed at his ostensible aim. His ‘deal’ has no credibility. But we must remember that for Trump, the only people who matter are those who vote for him, principally authoritarian populists and social conservatives. The former have made clear they will carry on worshipping him as a hero regardless. The latter, especially those who see Jewish control of Jerusalem as indicating the second coming, will be thrilled. And he’ll at least split neoconservatives (this group includes #NeverTrump holdouts like Bill Kristol) who are unambiguously pro-Israel, joining Israel’s government in labeling anyone who opposes Israel’s policies as anti-Semitic.

Binyamin Netanyahu thinks he’s gotten a good deal. Natan Sachs notes that his “preferences on nearly everything are reflected here.” But Bruce Riedel recalls that “President Ronald Reagan tried to get the Arabs to accept his plan in 1982. Despite considerable pressure, King Hussein rejected it. The Trump plan is likely heading for the same outcome.”[7] Which means it’s Trump who’s gotten the deal. And pretty much no one else.

Natan Sachs, Tamara Cofman Wittes, and Bruce Riedel, “Around the halls: Brookings experts on the Middle East react to the White House’s peace plan,” Brookings Institute, January 29, 2020,https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2020/01/29/brookings-experts-react-to-the-white-houses-middle-east-peace-plan/


Equal Rights Amendment

I’m uneasy in my mind as to how closely to follow this. I generally prefer to wait for resolutions rather than taking note of every twist and turn. But to lump this issue in with others in how I treat it may not be just. Whatever I decide, this article summarizes the state of play, with lawsuits both in favor of and opposing ratification.[8]

Patricia Sullivan, “Herring, other attorneys general file lawsuit demanding ERA ratification,” Washington Post, January 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/era-lawsuit-herring/2020/01/30/027eb956-42dc-11ea-aa6a-083d01b3ed18_story.html


Impeachment

To the extent there was ever a possibility that the Senate might call witnesses in the impeachment of Donald Trump, it appears to be fading fast. In the meantime,

For more than a week, House managers prosecuting the impeachment case against Trump have argued that the Senate’s failure to convict him would make Trump an unaccountable leader; in effect, a dictator or a king. When [Alan] Dershowitz spoke, it was as if he completely agreed with them. Two days earlier, Dershowitz had told senators that Presidential “abuse of power” should not be considered an impeachable offense under the Constitution. On Wednesday, he took that further—much further. “If a President does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment,” he argued. Dershowitz was offering Trump—and all future Presidents—a free pass. His argument seemed unbelievable: as long as the President thinks his reëlection will benefit the country, he can do anything in pursuit of it without fear of impeachment.[9]

I guess we should just start calling him King narcissist-in-chief.

Susan B. Glasser, “Alan Dershowitz for the Defense: L’État, C’est Trump,” New Yorker, January 30, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-trumps-washington/alan-dershowitz-for-the-defense-letat-cest-trump


  1. [1]Amy Davidson Sorkin, “Boris Johnson’s Bad Saturday and the Contradictions of Brexit,” New Yorker, October 19, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/boris-johnsons-bad-saturday-and-the-contradictions-of-brexit
  2. [2]Gordon Rayner, “Boris Johnson will tell the EU he is prepared to accept post-Brexit border checks,” Telegraph, January 29, 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/01/29/boris-johnson-will-tell-eu-prepared-accept-post-brexit-border/
  3. [3]Gordon Rayner, “Boris Johnson will tell the EU he is prepared to accept post-Brexit border checks,” Telegraph, January 29, 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/01/29/boris-johnson-will-tell-eu-prepared-accept-post-brexit-border/
  4. [4]Nick Hopkins, “UK less able to cope with hard Brexit than it was in spring, say officials,” Guardian, August 1, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/01/uk-less-able-to-cope-with-hard-brexit-than-in-spring-say-officials
  5. [5]James Crisp, “Flag-waving Nigel Farage cut off in farewell speech as European Parliament ratifies Brexit deal,” Telegraph, January 29, 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/01/29/european-parliament-ratifies-brexit-deal-paves-way-britain-leave/
  6. [6]Oliver Holmes, Sufian Taha, and Hazem Balousha, “‘We will never be Jerusalem’: Abu Dis pours scorn on Trump plan,” Guardian, January 29, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/29/we-will-never-be-jerusalem-abu-dis-pours-scorn-on-trump-plan; Natan Sachs, Tamara Cofman Wittes, and Bruce Riedel, “Around the halls: Brookings experts on the Middle East react to the White House’s peace plan,” Brookings Institute, January 29, 2020,https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2020/01/29/brookings-experts-react-to-the-white-houses-middle-east-peace-plan/; 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/; Raoul Wootliff, “Netanyahu indicted for corruption in three cases, in first for a sitting PM,” Times of Israel, January 28, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-indicted-for-corruption-in-three-cases-in-first-for-a-sitting-pm/
  7. [7]Natan Sachs, Tamara Cofman Wittes, and Bruce Riedel, “Around the halls: Brookings experts on the Middle East react to the White House’s peace plan,” Brookings Institute, January 29, 2020,https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2020/01/29/brookings-experts-react-to-the-white-houses-middle-east-peace-plan/
  8. [8]Patricia Sullivan, “Herring, other attorneys general file lawsuit demanding ERA ratification,” Washington Post, January 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/era-lawsuit-herring/2020/01/30/027eb956-42dc-11ea-aa6a-083d01b3ed18_story.html
  9. [9]Susan B. Glasser, “Alan Dershowitz for the Defense: L’État, C’est Trump,” New Yorker, January 30, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-trumps-washington/alan-dershowitz-for-the-defense-letat-cest-trump

It’s bad enough that Donald Trump is ripping off a television series without putting that series’ name in this title.

Donald Trump

Bill Kristol is, of course, a neoconservative, and one of the few who still subscribes to the failed #NeverTrump movement in the Republican Party that sought, much too late, to avert Donald Trump’s nomination for the presidency in 2016.

But, damn, does he have a way with words or does he have a way with words?

As to the New York magazine piece, some of us will remember that Captain James T. Kirk, in “The Omega Glory,” finishes a virtually unrecognizable utterance by one side in a society that had somehow managed to continue the Cold War over a series of centuries by reciting the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance, which in retrospect, seems like a strange thing for a Starfleet captain in the United Federation of Planets, three centuries later, to have memorized. There’s lots that’s weird about that,[1] but it plays into the patriotism I associate with authoritarian populism[2] and, since arriving in Pittsburgh, increasingly conflate with white supremacism (the flag-waving and other displays of patriotism, the guns, especially around Black areas, the combat fetishization, and the banners that overwhelmingly memorialize white but rarely Black soldiers, all seem so completely overdone as to compel the question of what folks around here are compensating for).

The Space Force logo resembles that of Starfleet, the military force of the United Federation of Planets. Yes, we are talking about Star Trek — but is Trump? The president does love television. Maybe he likes Star Trek, though the series doesn’t seem like his natural fare. Maybe someone was making a joke, and no one caught the joke, and here we are, contemplating the stupidest possible outcome of events. Maybe a consultant thought it would convince kids to sign up for the Space Force. You know, it’ll be just like Starfleet, except for the part where you’re in a military with a major white-nationalism problem. Or maybe it’s a viral marketing campaign for Star Trek: Picard, which premiered yesterday on CBS, but this seems very unlikely indeed. Trump bears no resemblance to the former captain of the Enterprise — not physically, not spiritually, not intellectually — so this is probably just what it seems, a dumb rip-off.[3]

Starfleet’s mission was not war, but peaceful exploration, something too many members of Starfleet International, the earth-based Star Trek fan club have forgotten, and something Trump is likely incapable of comprehending, that is, unless it’s for oil.

Sarah Jones, “Why Did Trump Just Rip Off Star Trek?” New York, January 24, 2020, http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/01/the-new-space-force-logo-looks-like-starfleet-from-star-trek.html


White supremacism

Jason Wilson, “Prepping for a race war: documents reveal inner workings of neo-Nazi group,” Guardian, January 25, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/25/inside-the-base-neo-nazi-terror-group


  1. [1]Memory Alpha, s.v. “Pledge of Allegiance,” accessed January 25, 2020, https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Pledge_of_Allegiance
  2. [2]David Benfell, “The seven tendencies of conservatism,” Irregular Bullshit, n.d., https://disunitedstates.com/the-seven-tendencies-of-conservatism/
  3. [3]Sarah Jones, “Why Did Trump Just Rip Off Star Trek?” New York, January 24, 2020, http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/01/the-new-space-force-logo-looks-like-starfleet-from-star-trek.html

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/

Pick your partisan sham

Impeachment

There is a new blog post entitled, “The sham (pick your partisan flavor) is on.”

Colby Itkowitz et al., “Trump becomes third U.S. president to be impeached as House approves both articles against him,” Washington Post, December 18, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-impeachment-live-updates/2019/12/18/237147e8-2110-11ea-bed5-880264cc91a9_story.html

Michael Wilner, Emma Dumain, and Francesca Chambers, “‘He’s the only hope we’ve got.’ All eyes on chief justice in Senate impeachment trial,” Sacramento Bee, December 18, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/nation-world/national/article238470443.html


Impeachment: The bad, the ugly, and the ugly

Impeachment

There is are two new blog posts:

  1. December 15: “The whiteness of impeachment
  2. December 16: “The least violent solution

Jennifer Rubin, “How far can the House go to stop a sham trial?” Washington Post, December 16, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/12/16/how-far-can-house-go-stop-sham-trial/


Homelessness

David G. Savage, “Supreme Court lets stand ruling that protects homeless who sleep on sidewalk,” Los Angeles Times, December 16, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2019-12-16/supreme-court-lets-stand-ruling-that-protects-homeless-who-sleep-on-sidewalk


Gavin Newsom might not think what you think he thinks

Pacific Gas and Electric

My guess is that this is not what Gavin Newsom, who has, on balance, been governing as a progressive, means:

PG&E had been on the defensive for months after a group of bondholders made their own alliance with wildfire victims and mounted a hostile takeover bid for the utility. The bondholders, led by Wall Street hedge fund Elliott Management, insisted their takeover plan is still better for California and said PG&E’s proposal would burden the company with billions in new debt.

With Newsom rejecting PG&E’s plan, the bondholders’ effort gets new life.[1]

I’m thinking more along the lines of,

“Nothing I can think of says, ‘screw the public interest’ like a hedge fund-owned public utility,” [Dave] King said.[2]

Dale Kasler, “Gavin Newsom rejects PG&E bankruptcy plan, demands ‘radically restructured’ CA utility,” Sacramento Bee, December 13, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article238350708.html


Cenk Uygur

There is a new blog post entitled, “Bernie Sanders should not have endorsed Cenk Uygur in the first place.” This is the first of two new posts today.

Michael Finnegan, “Bernie Sanders retracts endorsement of Californian who defends crude sex ratings of women,” Los Angeles Times, December 13, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2019-12-12/bernie-sanders-endorses-cenk-uygur-young-turks


Anti-Semitism

A self-identifying Zionist affirms a right to criticize Zionism, criticizing the order that Donald Trump issued[3] earlier this week.[4]

Kenneth Stern, “I drafted the definition of antisemitism. Rightwing Jews are weaponizing it,” Guardian, December 13, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/dec/13/antisemitism-executive-order-trump-chilling-effect


The Left

There is another new blog post entitled, “On lessons to be learned.”

David Adler, “What the U.S. Left Can Learn From the Labour Party’s Epic Loss,” In These Times, December 13, 2019, http://inthesetimes.com/article/22220/labour-party-jeremy-corbyn-boris-johnson-uk-brexit-bernie-sanders-left

John Cassidy, “What Are the Real Lessons of the U.K. Election for 2020?” New Yorker, December 14, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/what-are-the-real-lessons-of-the-uk-election-for-2020


Donald Trump

Robert Barnes, “Supreme Court will take up Trump’s broad claims of protection from investigation,” Washington Post, December 13, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-will-take-up-trumps-broad-claims-of-protection-from-investigation/2019/12/13/1de84cd6-1d19-11ea-8d58-5ac3600967a1_story.html


  1. [1]Dale Kasler, “Gavin Newsom rejects PG&E bankruptcy plan, demands ‘radically restructured’ CA utility,” Sacramento Bee, December 13, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article238350708.html
  2. [2]Tyler Silvy, “Sonoma Clean Power officials will explore public ownership of PG&E utility lines,” Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, November 14, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/10315410-181/sonoma-clean-power-officials-will
  3. [3]Kenneth Stern, “I drafted the definition of antisemitism. Rightwing Jews are weaponizing it,” Guardian, December 13, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/dec/13/antisemitism-executive-order-trump-chilling-effect
  4. [4]Jacob Kornbluh and Melissa Weiss, “A first look at the language of Trump’s executive order on antisemitism,” Jewish Insider, December 11, 2019, https://jewishinsider.com/2019/12/exclusive-a-first-look-at-the-language-of-trumps-executive-order-on-antisemitism/; Veronica Stracqualursi, Paul LeBlanc, and Betsy Klein, “Trump aims to crack down on anti-Semitism on college campuses using civil rights protections,” CNN, December 10, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/10/politics/trump-order-judaism-nationality/index.html

Good ol’ boys and smoke-filled rooms

Joe Biden

There is a new blog post entitled, “It’s still a smoke-filled room.”

Colby Itkowitz and Matt Viser, “Biden says his son’s foreign jobs ‘may have looked bad’ but weren’t wrong,” Washington Post, December 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-says-his-sons-foreign-jobs-may-have-looked-bad-but-werent-wrong/2019/12/05/01731a76-17c0-11ea-a659-7d69641c6ff7_story.html

Jason Linkins, “John Kerry Endorses Joe Biden’s Delusions,” New Republic, December 6, 2019, https://newrepublic.com/article/155900/john-kerry-endorses-joe-bidens-delusions

Paul Waldman, “Joe Biden still hasn’t learned the lessons of the Obama presidency,” Washington Post, December 6, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/12/06/joe-biden-still-hasnt-learned-lessons-obama-presidency/


Colonization and a potential pogrom

Hong Kong

Tseng Yat-yiu et al., “Hong Kong District Elections Could Gauge Support For Protest Movement,” Global Security, November 22, 2019, https://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/china/2019/china-191122-rfa01.htm


Pittsburgh

So I saw this (figure 1):
IMG_0053
Fig. 1. Photograph by author, November 22, 2019.

And I wrote a new blog entry entitled, “Militia territory.” My mother responded with a bunch of links[1] confirming and expanding many of my worst previously expressed fears and what my passengers have told me about racism in Pittsburgh.[2] These links don’t quite get to the militia issue but they come close, much too close for comfort, and close enough that they lay a groundwork for at least the plausibility of militias in this area, if not their likelihood.

On a more personal note, the Tree of Life Synagogue shooter lived “in a neighborhood dotted with mostly small to medium brick homes, about a 25-minute drive south of Pittsburgh in the suburb of Baldwin Borough,”[3] which is the municipality where I now live. Baldwin is a fairly large place, reaching nearly down to the Monongahela River, with a few apartment buildings so it isn’t necessarily the complex I live in. But the one I live in is probably the largest, so place your bets.

If indeed a race war[4] of the shooting sort breaks out,[5] it very much appears that the part of Pittsburgh I live in could become a combat zone. To my knowledge, however, Blacks are mostly unarmed. I think the gun nuttery I see is largely a white phenomenon. So “war” is probably the wrong word for it. We’ll be looking at a pogrom.

I feel completely helpless to stop it and, after what I saw that one day,[6] I’m pretty sure I can count on the police to stand aside and laugh.

The question, then, is, just how likely is such a scenario?


Chagos Islands

Global Security, “‘Illegal colonial occupier’: Mauritius blasts UK as it skips UN deadline to return Chagos Islands housing US airbase,” November 22, 2019, https://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/uk/2019/uk-191122-rt01.htm


Israel

Times of Israel, “TV report says top Likud leaders working behind the scenes to oust Netanyahu,” November 22, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/tv-says-top-likud-leaders-working-behind-scenes-to-oust-netanyahu/


  1. [1]Colin P. Clarke, “One Year After Tree of Life, We Still Aren’t Talking Enough About Violent White Supremacy,” Rand, October 27, 2019, https://www.rand.org/blog/2019/10/one-year-after-tree-of-life-we-still-arent-talking.html; Letrell Deshan Crittenden, “The Pittsburgh problem: race, media and everyday life in the Steel City,” Columbia Journalism Review, October 25, 2019, https://www.cjr.org/tow_center_reports/racism-black-burnout-in-pittsburgh-journalism.php; Eric Heyl, “Neo-Nazi, White Supremacist, Islamic Hate Groups Active In Pittsburgh,” Patch, August 16, 2017, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/pittsburgh/neo-nazi-white-supremacist-islamic-hate-groups-active-pittsburgh; Moriah Ella Mason, “Pittsburgh Doesn’t Need More Guns — We Need Less White Supremacy,” Forward, October 29, 2018, https://forward.com/scribe/413104/pittsburgh-doesnt-need-more-guns-we-need-less-white-supremacy/; Charles Thompson, “Pennsylvania housed 36 active hate groups last year, ranking 8th in the country: report,” Penn Live, February 21, 2019, https://www.pennlive.com/news/2019/02/southern-poverty-law-center-counts-36-active-hate-groups-in-pennsylvania-in-2018.html
  2. [2]David Benfell, “The banners and the guns: Flagrant racism in Pittsburgh,” Not Housebroken, October 12, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/09/20/the-banners-and-the-guns-flagrant-racism-in-pittsburgh/
  3. [3]Campbell Robertson, Christopher Mele, and Sabrina Tavernise, “11 Killed in Synagogue Massacre; Suspect Charged With 29 Counts,” New York Times, October 27, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/27/us/active-shooter-pittsburgh-synagogue-shooting.html
  4. [4]Kathleen Parker, “Trump has essentially declared a ‘race war,’” Washington Post, July 30, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-has-essentially-declared-a-race-war/2019/07/30/ad6ae554-b305-11e9-8949-5f36ff92706e_story.html
  5. [5]Mary B. McCord, “Armed Militias Are Taking Trump’s Civil War Tweets Seriously,” Lawfare, October 2, 2019, https://www.lawfareblog.com/armed-militias-are-taking-trumps-civil-war-tweets-seriously
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Hey cops! Do you know what year it is?” Not Housebroken, August 27, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/27/hey-cops-do-you-know-what-year-it-is/