If a civil war were to occur, it might be between neighborhoods

Horse race

I expressed my initial reaction to a suggestion that states might secede if the Democratic Party forbade Joe Biden from conceding defeat[1] in a tweet:

But in earlier thinking, first looking at county electoral results,[2] and later from Sonoma County, California, over at California’s own “bible belt” in the Central Valley, I’ve noted that dividing territory between ‘red’ and ‘blue’ would not be simple,[3] and this is a point Rod Dreher at The American Conservative makes, except he thinks the conflict would even be between neighborhoods.[4] That’s a point I’ll readily concede.

In any event, I still can’t imagine the Democratic Party refusing to concede. It’s clear that Barack Obama, who refused to prosecute Bush administration war crimes[5] and who refused to prosecute bankers for their acts of fraud leading to the financial crisis,[6] is calling the shots in the Democratic Party.[7] Even assuming that mantle passes to Biden, whose mental faculties should be in severe doubt for this even if no other reason, he imagines Republicans will be reasonable.[8] These are not people who would ever even in their wildest dreams contest an election result.

Rod Dreher, “Is A New Civil War Possible?” American Conservative, August 4, 2020, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/is-a-new-civil-war-possible/


Isaias

This morning it looked to me like the remnants of Isaias had passed through central Pennsylvania into New York, but this afternoon, we saw some rain, heavy at times and in some places.
ecan


  1. [1]Henry Zeffman, “US election war game sees states ready to secede if Trump is sworn in,” Times, August 4, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/us-election-war-game-sees-states-ready-to-secede-if-trump-is-sworn-in-zmzddmf9k
  2. [2]David Benfell, “A national divorce,” Not Housebroken, September 8, 2015, https://disunitedstates.org/2015/09/08/a-national-divorce/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Endorsing Cascadia secession,” Not Housebroken, August 22, 2017, https://disunitedstates.org/2017/08/22/endorsing-cascadia-secession/; David Benfell, “The morality of polarization,” Not Housebroken, September 21, 2018, https://disunitedstates.org/2018/09/21/the-morality-of-polarization/
  4. [4]Rod Dreher, “Is A New Civil War Possible?” American Conservative, August 4, 2020, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/is-a-new-civil-war-possible/
  5. [5]Glenn Greenwald, “Obama’s justice department grants final immunity to Bush’s CIA torturers,” Guardian, August 31, 2012, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/aug/31/obama-justice-department-immunity-bush-cia-torturer; Elizabeth Holtzman, “Statutes of Limitations Are Expiring on Some Bush Crimes,” Nation, March 20, 2013, https://www.thenation.com/article/statutes-limitations-are-expiring-some-bush-crimes/; David Johnston and Charlie Savage, “Obama Reluctant to Look Into Bush Programs,” New York Times, January 11, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/12/us/politics/12inquire.html
  6. [6]Jason M. Breslow, “As Deadlines Loom for Financial Crisis Cases, Prosecutors Weigh Their Options,” Public Broadcasting System, January 22, 2013, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/business-economy-financial-crisis/untouchables/as-deadlines-loom-for-financial-crisis-cases-prosecutors-weigh-their-options/; Jason M. Breslow, “Too Big To Jail? The Top 10 Civil Cases Against the Banks,” Frontline, January 22, 2013, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/business-economy-financial-crisis/untouchables/too-big-to-jail-the-top-10-civil-cases-against-the-banks/; Jason M. Breslow, “Were Bankers Jailed In Past Financial Crises?” Public Broadcasting System, January 22, 2013, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/business-economy-financial-crisis/untouchables/were-bankers-jailed-in-past-financial-crises/; David Dayen, “Wall Street wins again,” Salon, February 13, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/02/13/wall_street_wins_again/; Frontline, “Phil Angelides: Enforcement of Wall St. is ‘Woefully Broken’,” Public Broadcasting System, January 22, 2013, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/business-economy-financial-crisis/untouchables/phil-angelides-enforcement-of-wall-st-is-woefully-broken/; Frontline, “Ted Kaufman: Wall Street Prosecutions Never Made a Priority,” Public Broadcasting System, January 22, 2013, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/business-economy-financial-crisis/untouchables/ted-kaufman-wall-street-prosecutions-never-made-a-priority/; Office of the Inspector General Audit Division, “Audit of the Department of Justice’s Efforts to Address Mortgage Fraud,” U. S. Department of Justice, March 2014, http://www.justice.gov/oig/reports/2014/a1412.pdf; Barry Ritholz, “Why Prosecutors Whiffed on Subprime Crime,” Bloomberg View, March 14, 2014, http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-03-14/why-prosecutors-whiffed-on-subprime-crime; David Sirota, “Are banks too big to jail?” Salon, January 23, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/01/23/are_banks_too_big_to_jail/; David Sirota, “Barack Obama, Wall Street co-conspirator,” Salon, January 29, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/01/29/barack_obama_wall_street_co_conspirator/
  7. [7]Glenn Thrush, “Accelerate the Endgame’: Obama’s Role in Wrapping Up the Primary,” New York Times, August 3, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/14/us/politics/obama-biden-democratic-primary.html
  8. [8]Moira Donegan, “What does Biden have in common with Trump? Delusional nostalgia,” Guardian, June 21, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/21/joe-biden-trump-sexism-delusional-nostalgia; Matt Ford, “Someone Please Tell Joe Biden That Bipartisanship Is Dead,” New Republic, June 12, 2019, https://newrepublic.com/article/154183/someone-please-tell-joe-biden-bipartisanship-dead; 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/

Being a man means making everyone around you sick

Horse race

Henry Zeffman, “US election war game sees states ready to secede if Trump is sworn in,” Times, August 4, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/us-election-war-game-sees-states-ready-to-secede-if-trump-is-sworn-in-zmzddmf9k

Pandemic

So my mother sent me a New York Times article reporting that there was opposition to wearing masks in the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic[1] similar to what we’re seeing today.[2] There’s still no real explanation for the phenomenon. Which means we’re left with Priya Elan’s claim that somehow masks seem to threaten masculinity: “It seems that in certain circles,” Elan writes, “wearing a mask has been conflated with the kind of archaic, knuckle-dragging rhetoric that casts wearing pink or having a cat on a dating app as effeminate.”[3] Which is to say that being a man somehow means making everyone around you sick. Spare me.

Christine Hauser, “The Mask Slackers of 1918,” New York Times, August 3, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/03/us/mask-protests-1918.html


Isaias

It’s just remnants now.
eusgm


  1. [1]Christine Hauser, “The Mask Slackers of 1918,” New York Times, August 3, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/03/us/mask-protests-1918.html
  2. [2]Priya Elan, “The data is in: men are too fragile to wear Covid-19 masks. Grow up, guys,” Guardian, July 3, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jul/03/covid-19-masks-men-masculinity; Griff Witte, Ariana Eunjung Cha, and Josh Dawsey, “At the heart of dismal U.S. coronavirus response, a fraught relationship with masks,” Washington Post, July 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/at-the-heart-of-dismal-us-coronavirus-response-a-fraught-relationship-with-masks/2020/07/28/f47eccd0-cde4-11ea-bc6a-6841b28d9093_story.html
  3. [3]Priya Elan, “The data is in: men are too fragile to wear Covid-19 masks. Grow up, guys,” Guardian, July 3, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jul/03/covid-19-masks-men-masculinity

Bombs under bridges

Ireland

I remember making Nic Robertson’s mistake. It is to look at violence and to see evil, without seriously considering the underlying cause:

The IRA [Irish Republican Army] was at the forefront of the conflict [“The Troubles”] – killing, bombing, shooting and intimidating their way to influence. They had grown out of a demand for equality in Northern Ireland’s deeply bigoted society that often gave advantages to Protestants over Catholics.[1]

First, this neglects that Ireland has been an English colonial project since at least the 17th century:

The mandate for extermination [of Native Americans] anticipated similar calls for ruthless wars against a dehumanised enemy that would be heard from land-hungry colonists in southern Africa, New Zealand and Australia. It was also a reminder that the first colonisation of North America was contemporaneous with the far larger settlement of Ireland, mainly by Presbyterian Scottish immigrants. Between 1620 and 1642 120,000 colonists arrived to help undertake what Sir Francis Bacon revealing called ‘the reduction to civility’ of the Gaelic-speaking Catholic Irish.[2]

Lawrence James’ description is brief—he goes on to describe The Troubles at greater length later in his book. But nonetheless, we see crucial commonalities: The hunger for land—Lebensraum if you will—masked as a “civilizing” project, as if English Catholics (Episcopalians) of Henry VIII’s church were somehow more civilized than Roman Catholics, and carried out by Scottish Presbyterians, as if even they were somehow more civilized than Roman Catholics.

It is in that historical context that we should see Boris Johnson’s likely implausible notion of a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland.[3]

He called again for the link during the Conservative leadership campaign, despite engineers expressing scepticism at the idea of building such a link over waters more than 300 metres deep in places, parts of which were used by the Ministry of Defence to dump more than 1m tonnes of obsolete munitions.[4]

And it is in that historical context that we should see Ulsterist resistance to what is now being called a “frontstop,” the customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of Britain necessary to avoid such a border between the North and South.[5]

There is no humane logic to such bigotry and the Irish, seen by the English as a “fickle, childlike race, unable to subdue their wilder passions,”[6] suffered it for centuries. It is little wonder that finally, early in the 20th century they rose up only to be lumped in with Communists and trade unions. The IRA resorted to violence to displace the colonizer and the conflict took a familiar pattern of asymmetric conflict culminating in partition and independence for the Republic of Ireland, excluding the North. But the fight for the North continued.[7]

Robertson foolishly treats Sinn Fein as a Northern Irish organization,[8] But it was in Dublin with the IRA at the beginning.[9] And the Ulster Protestants seek to perpetuate a vicious subjugation of Catholics.

Nic Robertson, “Sinn Fein surged in Ireland’s election. Here’s why that’s so controversial,” CNN, February 10, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/10/europe/ireland-election-sinn-fein-analysis-intl/index.html

Peter Walker, “Government ‘actively looking into’ Scotland-Northern Ireland bridge,” Guardian, February 10, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/feb/10/boris-johnson-northern-ireland-scotland-bridge-plan-being-actively-looked-into-no-10


  1. [1]Nic Robertson, “Sinn Fein surged in Ireland’s election. Here’s why that’s so controversial,” CNN, February 10, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/10/europe/ireland-election-sinn-fein-analysis-intl/index.html
  2. [2]Lawrence James, The Rise and Fall of the British Empire (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1994), 14.
  3. [3]Peter Walker, “Government ‘actively looking into’ Scotland-Northern Ireland bridge,” Guardian, February 10, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/feb/10/boris-johnson-northern-ireland-scotland-bridge-plan-being-actively-looked-into-no-10
  4. [4]Peter Walker, “Government ‘actively looking into’ Scotland-Northern Ireland bridge,” Guardian, February 10, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/feb/10/boris-johnson-northern-ireland-scotland-bridge-plan-being-actively-looked-into-no-10
  5. [5]Daniel Boffey and Jennifer Rankin, “Boris Johnson and EU reach Brexit deal without DUP backing,” Guardian, October 17, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/17/boris-johnson-and-eu-reach-brexit-deal-without-dup-backing; Daniel Boffey et al., “Boris Johnson ‘on brink of Brexit deal’ after border concessions,” Guardian, October 15, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/15/boris-johnson-close-to-brexit-deal-after-border-concessions; Rory Carroll and Lisa O’Carroll, “Rival unionists accuse DUP of catastrophic Brexit miscalculation,” Guardian, October 17, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/17/rival-unionists-accuse-dup-of-catastrophic-brexit-miscalculation; Peter Foster, “Brexit plan revealed: Telegraph obtains proposal Boris Johnson will send to Brussels,” Telegraph, October 1, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/10/01/brexit-plan-revealed-prime-minister-rolls-sleeves-send-brussels/; Conor Humphries, “Irish PM says hard Brexit would raise issue of Irish unification,” Reuters, July 27, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu-ireland-nireland-idUSKCN1UL280; Laurence Norman and Max Colchester, “U.K., EU Agree on Draft Brexit Deal, Paving Way for Key Vote,” Wall Street Journal, October 17, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/brexit-talks-are-dealt-a-blow-as-northern-irish-party-rejects-draft-11571294766; Kate Proctor, “Irish border after Brexit – all ideas are beset by issues says secret paper,” Guardian, September 2, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/02/irish-border-after-brexit-all-ideas-beset-by-issues; James Rothwell, “DUP’s demand for a veto over deal brings talks to standstill as consent not customs becomes crucial issue,” Telegraph, October 16, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/10/16/dups-demand-veto-deal-brings-talks-standstill-consent-not-customs/
  6. [6]Lawrence James, The Rise and Fall of the British Empire (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1994), 377.
  7. [7]Lawrence James, The Rise and Fall of the British Empire (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1994).
  8. [8]Nic Robertson, “Sinn Fein surged in Ireland’s election. Here’s why that’s so controversial,” CNN, February 10, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/10/europe/ireland-election-sinn-fein-analysis-intl/index.html
  9. [9]Lawrence James, The Rise and Fall of the British Empire (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1994).

Extra: Neoliberal election fun

I’m publishing early today. There could be more tonight.


Brexit

So remember how Boris Johnson wasn’t going to relax the standards that protect Britons? Sure you do. It was only yesterday.[1]

Damn, that didn’t take long.[2]

Francis Elliott, “Boris Johnson dismisses fears about US food standards as ‘mumbo jumbo,’” Times, February 4, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/boris-johnson-dismisses-fears-about-us-food-standards-as-mumbo-jumbo-jhbbnrd2h


Iowa

I gathered these tweets at around 5 am (Eastern). At that point, Bernie Sanders was in the lead:

At around 8:00 am, results were still the same:
FireShot Capture 057 - Election Results - U.S. ELECTIONS - elections.ap.org
Fig. 1. Screenshot of Associated Press election results, as of 8:12 am, Eastern time. Note that these results have not been updated since shortly after midnight.

So more from Twitter, from my feed, as of shortly after 8:00 am:

Things didn’t go smoothly in the Iowa caucuses as the Democratic Party cited ‘inconsistencies’ for delaying results.[3] It’s to be expected that some will say, especially after 2016, that Bernie Sanders winning would be ‘inconsistent’ with Party dogma.[4] But of course, proper answers won’t be forthcoming.

Natasha Korecki, David Siders, and Alex Thompson, “‘It’s a total meltdown’: Confusion seizes Iowa as officials struggle to report results,” Politico, February 4, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/02/03/iowa-caucus-2020-election-110600

John McCormick and Ken Thomas, “Democratic Caucus Results in Iowa Thrown Into State of Confusion,” Wall Street Journal, February 4, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/iowa-caucuses-to-kick-off-democratic-nominating-contest-11580731200


  1. [1]Daniel Capurro to Front Bench list, “‘We like rules, just not your ones,’” February 3, 2020, http://m.email3.telegraph.co.uk/nl/jsp/m.jsp?c=%40ZjegS%2FZfBFiLTRy45i23NUyEmWQyDeGxTFK%2F9Gq0nfk%3D&WT.mc_id=e_DM1191159&WT.tsrc=email&etype=Edi_FrB_New&utmsource=email&utm_medium=Edi_FrB_New20200203&utm_campaign=DM1191159; Christopher Hope, “Boris Johnson team ‘infuriated’ as EU reneges on free trade deal,” Telegraph, February 1, 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/02/01/boris-johnson-infuriated-eu-reneges-free-trade-deal/
  2. [2]Francis Elliott, “Boris Johnson dismisses fears about US food standards as ‘mumbo jumbo,’” Times, February 4, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/boris-johnson-dismisses-fears-about-us-food-standards-as-mumbo-jumbo-jhbbnrd2h
  3. [3]Natasha Korecki, David Siders, and Alex Thompson, “‘It’s a total meltdown’: Confusion seizes Iowa as officials struggle to report results,” Politico, February 4, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/02/03/iowa-caucus-2020-election-110600; John McCormick and Ken Thomas, “Democratic Caucus Results in Iowa Thrown Into State of Confusion,” Wall Street Journal, February 4, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/iowa-caucuses-to-kick-off-democratic-nominating-contest-11580731200
  4. [4]Donna Brazile, “Inside Hillary Clinton’s Secret Takeover of the DNC,” Politico, November 2, 2017, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/11/02/clinton-brazile-hacks-2016-215774; Justine Coleman, “Obama privately said he would speak up to stop Sanders: report,” Hill, November 26, 2019, https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/472090-obama-privately-said-he-would-speak-up-to-stop-sanders-report; Ryan Lizza, “Waiting for Obama,” Politico, November 26, 2019, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2019/11/26/barack-obama-2020-democrats-candidates-biden-073025; Alex Shephard, “The Impotence of ‘Stop Sanders’ Democrats,” New Republic, April 18, 2019, https://newrepublic.com/article/153605/impotence-stop-sanders-democrats

Neoliberal resentment

Brexit

One of my reasons for skepticism about private space initiatives is that I am reluctant to trust my safety to the profit motive. You won’t find me in Elon Musk’s obsessive Mars colony[1] or on Jeff Bezos’ space station,[2] and not simply because it’s a moot point anyway. It’s yet another reason (I mainly abhor the security procedures) I am reluctant to fly; at least with my admittedly capitalist-built car, the speeds are a lot lower, I have a much shorter distance to fall, and I control the maintenance.

It’s about avoiding EU regulations that scotch innovation. On many matters of regulation, Brussels follows a precautionary principle – that is, a product must be proved safe to be approved, rather than proved dangerous to be banned.[3]

As trade talks loom between the United Kingdom, demanding a neoliberal freedom from European Union regulation to innovate, and the more cautious E.U., it is apparent that this is what gives Boris Johnson his hard-on,[4] even as British regulation is, in many areas, more stringent than European[5] and Johnson “pinky promises” not to relax it.[6]

That said, this is looking like a very hard Brexit, which some will say breaks yet another Johnson promise. Y’all should be used to that by now,[7] but what really bugs me is the oh, so very familiar, neoliberal hubris: “In either case [whether a Canadian- or Australian-style deal with the E.U.], I have no doubt that Britain will prosper.”[8] This is the same rhetoric that propelled so-called “free” (for whom, to do what, to whom?) trade in the U.S., the same hubris that the U.S. could “compete with the world.” Post-industrial decline and abusive jobs[9] prove it wrong.

Christopher Hope, “Boris Johnson team ‘infuriated’ as EU reneges on free trade deal,” Telegraph, February 1, 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/02/01/boris-johnson-infuriated-eu-reneges-free-trade-deal/

Madeline Grant, “Project Fear is still haunting the national debate on a clean break from EU regulations,” Telegraph, February 2, 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/02/02/project-fear-still-hauntingthe-national-debateon-clean-break/

Charles Hymas and James Crisp, “Britain will not accept EU rules to get a trade deal, says Boris Johnson,” Telegraph, February 2, 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/02/02/britain-will-not-accept-eu-rules-get-trade-deal-says-boris-johnson/

Daniel Capurro to Front Bench list, “‘We like rules, just not your ones,’” February 3, 2020, http://m.email3.telegraph.co.uk/nl/jsp/m.jsp?c=%40ZjegS%2FZfBFiLTRy45i23NUyEmWQyDeGxTFK%2F9Gq0nfk%3D&WT.mc_id=e_DM1191159&WT.tsrc=email&etype=Edi_FrB_New&utmsource=email&utm_medium=Edi_FrB_New20200203&utm_campaign=DM1191159

Danielle Sheridan and Asa Bennett, “Brexit latest news: Boris Johnson says UK must become champion of global free trade,” Telegraph, February 3, 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/02/03/brexit-latest-news-boris-johnson-trade-deal-eu-rules/


Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton just won’t shut the fuck up. And whatever each of their supporters may be doing,[10] she’s the one setting the tone here,[11] certainly not Bernie Sanders. In general, there’s a shrillness[12] to the neoconservative (and therefore neoliberal) wing of the party that does nothing to refute my contention that the party is determined to stop Sanders.

After 2016,[13] and in light of the above,[14] not a lot of people anywhere near my end of the spectrum are going to trust the Democratic National Committee as it goes after people complaining the contest in 2020 is rigged.[15]

But as I’ve said before, the principle here is not victory, but neoliberalism.[16] Donald Trump may not be much of a neoliberal, but with deregulation and tax cuts, he’s certainly more of one than Sanders.

Peter Daou with Leela Daou, “I worked for Hillary Clinton. Her attacks on Bernie Sanders are a big mistake,” Guardian, January 21, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jan/21/hillary-clinton-bernie-sanders-attacks-netflix

Shane Goldmacher, “Hillary Clinton Slams Bernie Sanders for Not Working to Unite Democrats in 2016,” New York Times, January 31, 2020, ttps://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/31/us/politics/hillary-clinton-bernie-sanders.html

Donie O’Sullivan, “The Democrats’ new online troll fighters make 2020 debut in Iowa,” CNN, February 2, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/02/politics/facebook-democrats-disinformation-iowa/index.html


  1. [1]Edwin Chan, Lulu Yilun Chen, and Chunying Zhang, “The Time a Jet-Lagged Musk Made Alibaba’s Jack Ma Sound Grounded,” Bloomberg, August 29, 2019, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-08-29/the-time-a-jet-lagged-musk-made-alibaba-s-jack-ma-sound-grounded; Tristan Greene, “Here’s the stupid reason Elon Musk wants to nuke Mars,” Next Web, August 16, 2019, https://thenextweb.com/distract/2019/08/16/heres-the-stupid-reason-elon-musk-wants-to-nuke-mars/; Samantha Rolfe, “Elon Musk’s Starship may be more moral catastrophe than bold step in space exploration,” Science X, October 2, 2019, https://phys.org/news/2019-10-elon-musk-starship-moral-catastrophe.html
  2. [2]Catherine Clifford, “Jeff Bezos: I spend my billions on space because we’re destroying Earth,” USA Today, July 17, 2019, https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2019/07/17/jeff-bezos-blue-moon-why-he-spends-billions-space/1762978001/; Franklin Foer, “Jeff Bezos’s Master Plan,” Atlantic, November 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/11/what-jeff-bezos-wants/598363/
  3. [3]Daniel Capurro to Front Bench list, “‘We like rules, just not your ones,’” February 3, 2020, http://m.email3.telegraph.co.uk/nl/jsp/m.jsp?c=%40ZjegS%2FZfBFiLTRy45i23NUyEmWQyDeGxTFK%2F9Gq0nfk%3D&WT.mc_id=e_DM1191159&WT.tsrc=email&etype=Edi_FrB_New&utmsource=email&utm_medium=Edi_FrB_New20200203&utm_campaign=DM1191159
  4. [4]Daniel Capurro to Front Bench list, “‘We like rules, just not your ones,’” February 3, 2020, http://m.email3.telegraph.co.uk/nl/jsp/m.jsp?c=%40ZjegS%2FZfBFiLTRy45i23NUyEmWQyDeGxTFK%2F9Gq0nfk%3D&WT.mc_id=e_DM1191159&WT.tsrc=email&etype=Edi_FrB_New&utmsource=email&utm_medium=Edi_FrB_New20200203&utm_campaign=DM1191159; Charles Hymas and James Crisp, “Britain will not accept EU rules to get a trade deal, says Boris Johnson,” Telegraph, February 2, 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/02/02/britain-will-not-accept-eu-rules-get-trade-deal-says-boris-johnson/; Danielle Sheridan and Asa Bennett, “Brexit latest news: Boris Johnson says UK must become champion of global free trade,” Telegraph, February 3, 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/02/03/brexit-latest-news-boris-johnson-trade-deal-eu-rules/
  5. [5]Madeline Grant, “Project Fear is still haunting the national debate on a clean break from EU regulations,” Telegraph, February 2, 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/02/02/project-fear-still-hauntingthe-national-debateon-clean-break/; Danielle Sheridan and Asa Bennett, “Brexit latest news: Boris Johnson says UK must become champion of global free trade,” Telegraph, February 3, 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/02/03/brexit-latest-news-boris-johnson-trade-deal-eu-rules/
  6. [6]Christopher Hope, “Boris Johnson team ‘infuriated’ as EU reneges on free trade deal,” Telegraph, February 1, 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/02/01/boris-johnson-infuriated-eu-reneges-free-trade-deal/
  7. [7]Tom McTague, “Boris Johnson Meets His Destiny,” Atlantic, July 22, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2019/07/boris-johnson-profile/594379/
  8. [8]Boris Johnson, quoted in Charles Hymas and James Crisp, “Britain will not accept EU rules to get a trade deal, says Boris Johnson,” Telegraph, February 2, 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/02/02/britain-will-not-accept-eu-rules-get-trade-deal-says-boris-johnson/
  9. [9]Daniel D’Addario, “Amazon is worse than Walmart,” Salon, July 30, 2013, https://www.salon.com/control/2013/07/30/how_amazon_is_worse_than_wal_mart/; Timothy Egan, “The Corporate Daddy,” New York Times, June 19, 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/20/opinion/timothy-egan-walmart-starbucks-and-the-fight-against-inequality.html; Josh Eidelson, “Wal-Mart faces warehouse horror allegations and federal Labor Board complaint,” Salon, November 19, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/11/18/breaking_wal_mart_faces_warehouse_horror_allegations_and_federal_labor_board_complaint/; Josh Eidelson, “Tens of thousands protest, over 100 arrested in Black Friday challenge to Wal-Mart,” Salon, November 30, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/11/30/tens_of_thousands_protest_over_100_arrested_in_black_friday_challenge_to_wal_mart/; Josh Eidelson, “Finally paying for Wal-Mart’s sins: Wage theft settlement yields millions,” Salon, December 16, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/12/16/finally_paying_for_wal_marts_sins_wage_theft_settlement_yields_millions/; Josh Eidelson, “Freezing for Wal-Mart: Sub-zero warehouse temperatures spur Indiana work stoppage,” Salon, January 14, 2014, https://www.salon.com/test/2014/01/13/freezing_for_wal_mart_sub_zero_warehouse_temperatures_spur_indiana_work_stoppage/; Josh Eidelson, “Amazon Keeps Unions Out By Keeping Workers in Fear, Says Organizer,” Alternet, January 22, 2014, https://www.alternet.org/2014/01/amazon-keeps-unions-out-keeping-workers-fear-says-organizer/; Nichole Gracely, “‘Being homeless is better than working for Amazon,’” Guardian, November 28, 2014, https://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/nov/28/being-homeless-is-better-than-working-for-amazon; Steven Greenhouse, “The Changing Face of Temporary Employment,” New York Times, August 31, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/01/upshot/the-changing-face-of-temporary-employment.html; Erin Hatton, “The Rise of the Permanent Temp Economy,” New York Times, January 26, 2013, http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/26/the-rise-of-the-permanent-temp-economy/; Simon Head, “Worse than Wal-Mart: Amazon’s sick brutality and secret history of ruthlessly intimidating workers,” Salon, February 23, 2014, https://www.salon.com/control/2014/02/23/worse_than_wal_mart_amazons_sick_brutality_and_secret_history_of_ruthlessly_intimidating_workers/; Paul Jaskunas, “The Tyranny of the Forced Smile,” New York Times, February 14, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/jobs/the-tyranny-of-the-forced-smile.html; Allison Kilkenny, “Ohio Walmart Holds Food Drive For Its Own Employees,” Nation, November 18, 2013, https://www.thenation.com/article/ohio-walmart-holds-food-drive-its-own-employees/; Paul Krugman, “The Plight of the Employed,” New York Times, December 24, 2013, http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/24/the-plight-of-the-employed/; Paul Krugman, “The Fear Economy,” New York Times, December 26, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/27/opinion/krugman-the-fear-economy.html; Danielle Kurtzleben, “Read McDonald’s workers’ shocking harassment and discrimination complaints — and why they’re so important,” Vox, January 22, 2015, https://www.vox.com/2015/1/22/7873661/mcdonalds-lawsuit-harassment-discrimination; Edward McClelland, “You call this a middle class? “I’m trying not to lose my house,’” Salon, March 1, 2014, https://www.salon.com/test/2014/03/01/you_call_this_a_middle_class_i%E2%80%99m_trying_not_to_lose_my_house/; Mac McClelland, “I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave,” Mother Jones, March/April 2012, https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/02/mac-mcclelland-free-online-shipping-warehouses-labor/; Nathaniel Mott, “From Amazon warehouse workers to Google bus drivers, it’s tough working a non-tech job at a tech company,” Pando, October 9, 2014, https://pando.com/2014/10/09/from-amazon-warehouse-workers-to-google-bus-drivers-its-tough-working-a-non-tech-job-at-a-tech-company/; Marc Pilisuk with Jennifer Achord Rountree, Who Benefits From Global Violence and War (Westport, CT: Praeger Security International, 2008).; Ari Rabin-Havt, “Wal-Mart flunks its fact-check: The truth behind its sarcastic response to the Times,” Salon, June 25, 2014, https://www.salon.com/control/2014/06/25/walmart_flunks_its_fact_check_the_truth_behind_its_sarcastic_response_to_the_times/; Alex Seitz-Wald, “Amazon is everything wrong with our new economy,” Salon, July 30, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/07/30/amazon_is_everything_wrong_with_our_new_economy/; Alana Semuels, “As employers push efficiency, the daily grind wears down workers,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2013, https://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-harsh-work-20130407-story.html; Alana Semuels, “How the relationship between employers and workers changed,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2013, https://www.latimes.com/business/la-xpm-2013-apr-07-la-fi-mo-harsh-work-history-20130405-story.html; Alana Semuels, “Tougher workplace makes home life worse too,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2013, https://www.latimes.com/business/la-xpm-2013-apr-07-la-fi-mo-harsh-work-history-20130405-story.html; Spencer Soper, “Inside Amazon’s Warehouse,” Lehigh Valley Morning Call, September 18, 2011, https://www.mcall.com/business/mc-xpm-2011-09-18-mc-allentown-amazon-complaints-20110917-story.html; Scott Sernau, Worlds Apart: Social Inequalities in a Global Economy, 2nd ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge, 2006); Lindsay Wise, “Report: Temp jobs at all-time high in U.S.,” McClatchy, September 2, 2014, https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/economy/article24772543.html
  10. [10]Peter Daou with Leela Daou, “I worked for Hillary Clinton. Her attacks on Bernie Sanders are a big mistake,” Guardian, January 21, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jan/21/hillary-clinton-bernie-sanders-attacks-netflix
  11. [11]Shane Goldmacher, “Hillary Clinton Slams Bernie Sanders for Not Working to Unite Democrats in 2016,” New York Times, January 31, 2020, ttps://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/31/us/politics/hillary-clinton-bernie-sanders.html; 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
  12. [12]Justine Coleman, “Obama privately said he would speak up to stop Sanders: report,” Hill, November 26, 2019, https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/472090-obama-privately-said-he-would-speak-up-to-stop-sanders-report; Ryan Lizza, “Waiting for Obama,” Politico, November 26, 2019, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2019/11/26/barack-obama-2020-democrats-candidates-biden-073025; Alex Shephard, “The Impotence of ‘Stop Sanders’ Democrats,” New Republic, April 18, 2019, https://newrepublic.com/article/153605/impotence-stop-sanders-democrats
  13. [13]Donna Brazile, “Inside Hillary Clinton’s Secret Takeover of the DNC,” Politico, November 2, 2017, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/11/02/clinton-brazile-hacks-2016-215774
  14. [14]Justine Coleman, “Obama privately said he would speak up to stop Sanders: report,” Hill, November 26, 2019, https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/472090-obama-privately-said-he-would-speak-up-to-stop-sanders-report; Ryan Lizza, “Waiting for Obama,” Politico, November 26, 2019, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2019/11/26/barack-obama-2020-democrats-candidates-biden-073025; Alex Shephard, “The Impotence of ‘Stop Sanders’ Democrats,” New Republic, April 18, 2019, https://newrepublic.com/article/153605/impotence-stop-sanders-democrats
  15. [15]Donie O’Sullivan, “The Democrats’ new online troll fighters make 2020 debut in Iowa,” CNN, February 2, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/02/politics/facebook-democrats-disinformation-iowa/index.html
  16. [16]David Benfell, “How the neoliberal (usually known as Democratic) party may well lose in 2020,” Not Housebroken, December 7, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/07/how-the-neoliberal-usually-known-as-democratic-party-may-well-lose-in-2020/

Bernie Sanders’ mistake

Scotland

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


Palestine

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

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

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


Bernie Sanders

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

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

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

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


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

Free Scotland

As I wonder how in the world I’m going to pay my taxes this year, I see one of my neighbors may have a more pressing dilemma.

There’s a bright pink notice taped to her door informing her of an arrest warrant. Assuming its veracity, she was busted for speeding and not having had her vehicle inspected (Pennsylvania has an annual vehicle inspection scheme to help keep local mechanics afloat).

From what I gather, such violations are how the local cops harass Blacks. Whites rarely face such tickets.

And it’s not like I’m the only white noticing this. Sure, I talk about all this with Blacks, but I also talk about it with whites. And a few of them have noticed at least some of what I’ve noticed. Those that grew up here are less likely to have noticed, but when I inform them of my observations, I don’t even have to explain my logic—they, too, are often horrified.


Scotland

As this issue goes online, the hour for Brexit has now passed.

Kieran Andrews, “Brexit is a boost for independence,” Times, January 31, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/scotland/brexit-is-a-boost-for-independence-njdh6zmfc

British Broadcasting Corporation, “Scottish independence: Nicola Sturgeon calls for patience over indyref2,” January 31, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-51311288


Palestine

Jerusalem Online, “Bibi Steps Back from ‘Immediate’ Annexation Promise,” January 31, 2020, https://www.jerusalemonline.com/bibi-steps-back-from-immediate-annexation-promise/


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

So, they say that vegans are well off whites fobbing off their lifestyle choices on the poor and people of color.

Brexit

Alison Flood, “Philip Pullman calls for boycott of Brexit 50p coin over ‘missing’ Oxford comma,” Guardian, January 27, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/jan/27/brexit-50p-coin-boycott-philip-pullman-oxford-comma


Veganism

There is a new blog post entitled, “Rationalizing cruelty.”

Laura Reiley, “The fastest-growing vegan demographic is African Americans. Wu-Tang Clan and other hip-hop acts paved the way,” Washington Post, January 24, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/01/24/fastest-growing-vegan-demographic-is-african-americans-wu-tang-clan-other-hip-hop-acts-paved-way/


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.,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 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.,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 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/