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/

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/


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

Tory triumph: Let the madness begin

Brexit

It’s a historic defeat for Labour,[1] not only because of the new margin in Parliament,[2] but because so many voted.[3]

I’m not sure how much attention I’ll pay to the analysis. But it appears that Labour’s manifesto was not more attractive to voters than the Tories’ certainty on Brexit.[4]

Having studied conservatism exhaustively for my dissertation,[5] if I had to boil it all down to a single word it would be this: hateful. In its various forms, conservatism hates the “other” and identifies with the powerful, utterly disdaining the weak. And this is what Britons have voted for.

William Booth, Karla Adam, and James McAuley, “U.K. election: Boris Johnson wins majority, while Jeremy Corbyn says he won’t lead another general election campaign,” Washington Post, December 12, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/uk-general-election-2019/2019/12/12/cc5ecb98-17ae-11ea-80d6-d0ca7007273f_story.html

Kieran Andrews, “UK election results: SNP landslide heralds battle over Scottish independence,” Times, December 13, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/uk-election-results-snp-sweep-to-landslide-victory-in-scotland-qxxjk3ss3

Jason Douglas and James Hookway, “Vote Raises New Questions About U.K.’s Future,” Wall Street Journal, December 13, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/vote-raises-new-questions-about-u-k-s-future-11576270316

Ian Graham, “In a first, Irish nationalists overtake unionists at UK election,” Reuters, December 13, 2019, https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-election-nireland-nationalist-idUKKBN1YH0LK

Sam Knight, “Boris Johnson Wins, and Britain Chooses the Devil It Knows,” New Yorker, December 13, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-the-uk/boris-johnson-wins-and-britain-chooses-the-devil-it-knows

Haroon Siddique, Andrew Sparrow, and Kevin Rawlinson, “UK general election 2019: Tories secure majority as Corbyn says he won’t lead Labour into next election – live news,” Guardian, December 13, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/live/2019/dec/12/general-election-2019-uk-live-labour-tories-corbyn-boris-johnson-results-exit-poll


Armenia

As near as I have been able to determine, the resolution passed by the Senate[6] is correct. As David Fromkin puts it,

There are historians today who continue to support the claim of Enver and Talaat that the Ottoman rulers acted only after Armenia had risen against them. But observers at the time who were by no means anti-Turk reported that such was not the case. German officers stationed there agreed that the area was quiet until the deportations began.[7][8]

Zachary Basu, “Senate passes Armenian genocide bill in move likely to infuriate Turkey,” Axios, December 12, 2019, https://www.axios.com/armenian-genocide-resolution-senate-turkey-1931783f-88e2-41c8-a488-91d9049be529.html


 

  1. [1]Haroon Siddique, Andrew Sparrow, and Kevin Rawlinson, “UK general election 2019: Tories secure majority as Corbyn says he won’t lead Labour into next election – live news,” Guardian, December 13, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/live/2019/dec/12/general-election-2019-uk-live-labour-tories-corbyn-boris-johnson-results-exit-poll
  2. [2]William Booth, Karla Adam, and James McAuley, “U.K. election: Boris Johnson wins majority, while Jeremy Corbyn says he won’t lead another general election campaign,” Washington Post, December 12, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/uk-general-election-2019/2019/12/12/cc5ecb98-17ae-11ea-80d6-d0ca7007273f_story.html
  3. [3]Verity Bowman, Henry Bodkin, and Tony Diver, “General election 2019 live: Result ‘too close to call’ as voting continues – latest news,” Telegraph, December 12, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/12/12/general-election-2019-vote-news-exit-polls-results-live-latest/; Joe Roberts, “‘Longest queues ever’ as people stand in line around the block to vote,” Metro, December 12, 2019, https://metro.co.uk/2019/12/12/longest-queues-ever-people-stand-line-around-block-vote-11771760/
  4. [4]Haroon Siddique, Andrew Sparrow, and Kevin Rawlinson, “UK general election 2019: Tories secure majority as Corbyn says he won’t lead Labour into next election – live news,” Guardian, December 13, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/live/2019/dec/12/general-election-2019-uk-live-labour-tories-corbyn-boris-johnson-results-exit-poll
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  6. [6]Zachary Basu, “Senate passes Armenian genocide bill in move likely to infuriate Turkey,” Axios, December 12, 2019, https://www.axios.com/armenian-genocide-resolution-senate-turkey-1931783f-88e2-41c8-a488-91d9049be529.html
  7. [7]Ulrich Trumpener, Germany and the Ottoman Empire 1914-1918 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968), p. 203.
  8. [8]David Fromkin, A Peace to End All Peace (New York: Owl, 1989).

It isn’t California anymore

Updates

  1. Originally published October 31, 7:31 pm.
  2. October 31, 9:34 pm:
    • The Santa Rosa Press Democrat has published a map (figure 1) of nearby (to Santa Rosa) fires since 2015.[1] Try, just try, to imagine living near this.

California

FireShot Capture 035 - Map of Kincade and nearby recent fires - www.pressdemocrat.com
Fig. 1. Screenshot of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat‘s map of fires since 2015.[2]

Firefighters are getting the Kincade fire under control but other fires are ravaging California.[3] But Ronald Reagan’s daughter shares the sense that California has changed.[4]

Patti Davis, “My father’s library will likely survive the fires, but the California of my youth is gone,” Washington Post, October 30, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/10/30/my-fathers-library-will-likely-survive-fires-california-my-youth-is-gone/

Dale Kasler, “PG&E says its equipment may have caused a fourth California fire in the past week,” Sacramento Bee, October 30, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article236841498.html

Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, “Map of Kincade and nearby recent fires,” n.d., https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10246412-181/map-of-kincade-and-nearby


Redlining

A few days ago, I found a couple more gratuitous guns. One is actually not very far from my apartment, just on a street I don’t drive on very often, and because my complex includes many Black residents, I can accept that this one might be metaphorically aimed at Blacks. The other is in an area I’m much less familiar with, along the Monongahela River in Washington County. I don’t know the racial make-up near the latter location but an initial impression suggests this one is not so metaphorically aimed.


Pictures are here.

Both of these additions raise an issue of how I am assessing metaphorical aims. I need to dredge up demographic maps, preferably spanning several decades. Such demographics need to cover both race and class.


Brexit

Just a quick note on Brexit: The British Press is already in full horse race mode coverage of the forthcoming election.[5] You might have already gathered that this is not the sort of coverage that interests me and that I think political surveys—now boasting a nine percent response rate[6]—should be discounted entirely. Which is to say campaign coverage is bullshit. All of it. Every last diarrhetic drop spewed from the bulls’ asses with such a velocity and range as to cast doubt as to whether any green grass may be found.


  1. [1]Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, “Map of Kincade and nearby recent fires,” n.d., https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10246412-181/map-of-kincade-and-nearby
  2. [2]Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, “Map of Kincade and nearby recent fires,” n.d., https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10246412-181/map-of-kincade-and-nearby
  3. [3]California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, “Active Incidents,” October 30, 2019, https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/
  4. [4]Patti Davis, “My father’s library will likely survive the fires, but the California of my youth is gone,” Washington Post, October 30, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/10/30/my-fathers-library-will-likely-survive-fires-california-my-youth-is-gone/
  5. [5]Karla Adam and William Booth, “Britain sets December date for an election in which Brexit will dominate,” Washington Post, October 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/with-labour-partys-backing-britains-boris-johnson-looks-set-to-get-his-snap-election/2019/10/29/778ed246-f9c9-11e9-9e02-1d45cb3dfa8f_story.html
  6. [6]Steven Shepard, “Report: Phone polls aren’t dead yet,” Politico, May 15, 2017, https://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/15/pollsters-phone-polls-238409

The ‘ungriddable’ city

Updates

  1. Originally published, October 26, 7:14 pm. Note: All times are Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) unless otherwise noted.
  2. October 26, 9:39 pm:
    • The mandatory evacuation area for the Kincade fire has expanded. Notably, it now includes my mother’s house. Areas being warned have shifted south (figure 1). Graphics have been updated.
  3. October 27, 4:36 am:
    • To be honest, I’m somewhat perplexed. Even as it appears firefighters are gaining significant control over the Kincade fire and that it has not advanced in the direction of Highway 101, evacuation warnings have now been issued for a relatively small part of northwest Santa Rosa that, ominously, approaches an evacuation center (figure 1). Winds have shifted and are now strongly off-shore.[1] In addition, the evacuation zones are now numbered. Graphics and text have been updated.
  4. October 27, 8:28 am:
    • I haven’t received notifications, which may mean that map updates were out of sync with the notifications I received. It now appears more of Santa Rosa is under mandatory evacuation (figure 1). Winds are now off-shore at 40+ miles per hour.[2] It seems to me that the Santa Rosa evacuation center is now being encroached upon with mandatory evacuation orders on the north and west sides (figure 1). According to the Cal Fire incident page, Kincade fire containment is at 10 percent.[3] Graphics have been updated.
    • It is harder for me to keep up to date during the day, while I’m working, but I’m packing my Chromebook today. I will try.
  5. October 27, 1:05 pm:
    • A mandatory evacuation order has been issued for another piece of Santa Rosa, drawing very near the evacuation center there and the Kincade fire looking very much more serious than it did overnight (figure 1). Wind speeds appear to exceed 50 miles per hour.[4] The fire is now up to 30,000 acres and still at only 10 percent containment.[5]
    • Amidst all the drama, there is, of course, a very real human toll. Some folks are saying they don’t want to repeat their experience from two years ago. As the evacuation orders arrive, they are considering more permanent departures.[6] And it really is something to think about when you can’t rely on the lights being on, as aquifers draw ever lower, and as suffocating smoke becomes an annual occurrence. This isn’t civilization anymore. It may be spectacular, but it’s hell.
  6. October 27, 9:12 pm:
    • Be sure to look through the slide show in this Press-Democrat coverage.[7] I recognize some of the places as places I’ve been.

      They’re ordinary places really. The sort of places you take for granted as you drive right on by. Ordinary, that is, except for those who lived and worked in them. Their lives are forever changed.

      And if you feel a sense of deja vu, that’s kind of my point. This is how it’s been for fire after fire after fire. That bravado we always cheer, where victims swear they’ll rebuild, seems hollow now.

  7. October 28, 4:30 am:
    • Containment is now at 5 percent of over 54,000 acres in the Kincade fire.[8] I’m having trouble telling from the Incident map (figure 1) how far into Windsor the fire has reached. The distance from northern Windsor to my mother’s house is a little less but traverses the same rugged dry terrain that a spread from Healdsburg would. It appears there is a shift in the weather pattern (figure 2) but I am not at this moment able to determine its significance. The winds have dropped[9] but that may only be because it is night time. Graphics have been updated.
  8. October 28, 10:09 am:
    • It kind of looks like I failed to publish the 4:30 am update. Oops.
    • As of now, the Incident Map (figure 1) is making clear that where previously the main part of the Kincade fire had seemed to be in mountainous terrain, it now seems to be moving towards, if not into, Healdsburg and Windsor. Containment is at five percent of over 66,000 acres.[10] Winds seem to have weakened for the moment[11] and it appears the region is in for a bit of a respite on Monday (today) before conditions worsen again on Tuesday.[12]
    • “Cal Fire officials said they were concerned that the fire would jump Highway 128 into fuel-laden land that has not burned in decades.”[13] I’m not sure what the Sacramento Bee reporters mean when they talk about Highway 128, which runs into Mendocino County north of Cloverdale, along Highway 101 to Geyserville, and then east over the mountains into Lake County. Though there’s certainly land there that hasn’t burned yet, Lake County burned before Sonoma County in several massive fires over several years.

      My concern however is with the fire’s move toward Windsor and Healdsburg. If the Kincade fire jumps Highway 101 (the latest incident map, figure 1, suggests it’s reaching right to it), which is what the Tubbs Fire did two years ago, and heads towards my mother’s house, I don’t think any of that territory has burned in decades either. And it looks to me like it’s getting close.

      In the meantime,

      The Kincade Fire and other blazes that erupted Sunday during the heavy winds closed several major roadways, including Interstate 80, the main east-west highway through Northern California between San Francisco and the Nevada state line. I-80 was closed for several hours between Vallejo and Crockett because of brush fires raging at both ends of the Carquinez Bridge, but reopened by mid-afternoon.[14]

      Apparently this is happening all over the state.[15] I said earlier that this is hell. It’s hell. And yeah, reminiscent of when the Sonoma County fires broke out in 2017.

  9. October 28, 8:13 pm:
    • The humiliation of Boris Johnson continues as “he was forced to grudgingly accept the European Union’s offer to delay Brexit until January, and then lost a motion in Parliament to stage a general election before Christmas.”[16] (Brexit)
    • There’s apparently no real news on the Kincade fire. I am updating the graphics nonetheless. The fire does seem like it is spreading towards Healdsburg if not into it (figure 1) and winds are currently on shore.[17]
  10. October 29, 3:51 am:
    • As if Brexit was ever, even once, really on track, it’s gone off the rails again as Boris Johnson has “abandoned” the withdrawal bill because he wants an election so bad. You know, like he wants Brexit itself. And yeah, I’m not the only one calling bullshit.[18]
    • The evacuation orders for much of west Sonoma County, including (just barely) my mother’s house, have been reduced to warnings, though the incident map (figure 1) also seems to show the fire further encroaching on Healdsburg. Cal Fire says it has achieved fifteen percent containment on over 74,000 acres.[19] The winds are shifting again,[20] in line with earlier forecasts.[21] The warning means people need to be ready to leave on a moment’s notice, so this isn’t really clearance for people to return home. This fire still looks incredibly dangerous to me and if those forecasts hold, I expect we’ll see a much more alarming picture later in the day. Text below has mostly been removed—look to these updates instead. Graphics have been updated.
  11. October 29, 10:13 am:
    • Labour will back an election, improving the likelihood that one will occur in December.[22] The call for such an election was likely to succeed anyway, leaving Labour in the unenviable position of going into an election it had opposed.[23] (Brexit)
    • People are mad at Pacific Gas and Electric, and have reason to be, especially with the Kincade fire,[24] but it’s worth remembering the climate crisis is a major contributor.[25] Winds are still relatively weak but have now shifted to an off-shore direction.[26] They keep changing how they show the fire intensity and spread in the Sonoma County Incident Map and I am especially unfond of the latest iteration.

      I see now (figure 1) that Healdsburg is across the Russian River from the fire and the fire has not jumped the river there. But parts of Windsor, especially the north and east are on fire.

      The fire is very close to Highway 101 (figure 1). The road, which is marked as closed, is only four lanes (plus a median) wide there. I can’t imagine that a good gust of wind won’t enable the fire to jump the highway into terrain that I don’t think has burned in a very long time. But they’ve still got a lot of west Sonoma County only on an evacuation warning phase.

      I gotta tell you, this doesn’t help to bolster confidence in their logic for how they ordered evacuations and when. Graphics are updated.

  12. October 29, 2019, 9:06 pm:
    • Parliament has approved an election to be held on December 12,[27] which is just what Boris Johnson wanted. I am disappointed the franchise will not be extended to 16-year olds and European Union nationals: Their futures are at stake, even more than those of the old fogies who so desperately want out of the E.U.[28]
    • The Kincade fire is now 15 percent contained at over 75,000 acres.[29] The fire remains close to, but on the east side of Highway 101. Evacuation warnings are now shown for adjacent parts of Lake County (figure 1). Winds are strongly in an off-shore direction, but not so strong over such a wide area as before.[30]
  13. October 30, 4:33 am:
    • Little seems to have changed with the Kincade fire since the last update,[31] except that stronger winds are appearing over a broader area. Which is to suggest that firefighters seem to be pretty much holding the line, and that if the wind forecast holds,[32] the worst should be over. For now.[33] Graphics have been updated.
  14. October 30, 9:05 am:
    • Richard Denniss explores the social constructions in economics to explain why economists disagree.[34] I respond with a new blog post entitled, “Cats are smarter than we are. Really.
    • The Kincade fire is at 30 percent containment and nearly 77,000 acres.[35] Firefighters seem to be holding the line in areas I’ve been most concerned with but I think maybe not so well to the north and east. Unfortunately there’s a weird cut off in the graphics in figure 1 that makes this harder to discern. Winds are strong and off-shore but not as strong and not as strongly over as wide an area as before.[36] Graphics have been updated.
  15. October 30, 7:00 pm:
    • Asserting the supremacy of state law, an Allegheny County judge struck down Pittsburgh’s gun control laws,[37] which were passed in the wake of the Tree of Life Synagogue mass shooting last year.[38]
    • My methodology here is weak beyond compare, but I’m guessing from his avatar that Nathan Heller is a lot younger than I am. That said, his recollection of fires in the San Francisco area is about like mine.[39] California just isn’t the place it used to be. It is, as the headline on Annie Lowrey’s exploration of how the Wildlife-Urban Interface came to be so heavily populated proclaims, becoming unlivable.[40] (Kincade fire)
    • Winds are still offshore, but not nearly so strongly as earlier even today.[41] Updated containment figures are not yet available.[42] A lot of east Windsor appears to have burned or to be on fire but Healdsburg continues to be spared. Overall, the Kincade fire looks much less active and evacuation orders and warnings seem to be receding (figure 1). My mother will be going home tomorrow. Graphics have been updated.
    • Barring unforeseen developments, I will end this issue here. It’s become unusual for me to hold an issue open like this for several days on end but I did so on account of the Kincade fire. At this moment, that no longer seems to be justified.

Pittsburgh

I’ve been working on my page entitled, “Pittsburgh driving for the uninitiated anyway, but it turns out that Pittsburgh navigation is sufficiently difficult that it merits a CityLab article.[43] Yes, it really is that bad. And worse.

Vince Guerrieri, “The Map That Unlocked the Mysteries of Pittsburgh,” CityLab, October 25, 2019, https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2019/10/pittsburgh-street-map-beltway-system-allegheny-county-roads/600658/


Humanities

Support for the humanities comes from an unlikely source.[44]

Heather Long, “The world’s top economists just made the case for why we still need English majors,” Washington Post, October 19, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/10/19/worlds-top-economists-just-made-case-why-we-still-need-english-majors/


Kincade fire

FireShot Capture 034 - Kincade Fire Incident Map (Sonoma, Napa, Lake Counties)_ - sonomacounty.maps.arcgis.com
Fig. 1. Screenshot of Sonoma County Incident Map, taken on October 30, 2019, at 7:37 pm EDT (4:37 pm PDT). Click on this static image to open the source.
nepac-2019-10-30-18
Fig. 2. 72-hour gif of Northeast Pacific satellite photos, taken two hours apart, as of October 30, 6:00 pm EDT (3:00 pm PDT).

Jonathan Cox, another Cal Fire spokesman, called the evacuation orders a preventive measure against “a worst-case scenario for this fire.” Capt. Stephen Volmer, a fire behavior analyst with the agency, said the winds were expected to start blowing the fire in a southwesterly direction beginning about 8 p.m. [PDT] toward Highway 101.[45]

A lot of Sonoma County still has visible scars from the fires two years ago. The psychic scars are, of course, longer lasting. But all I can really say is that the scenes I have seen there are, in a way, beyond description. There is an impact just from seeing the burned areas, or even just driving around a curve and being confronted with burned vegetation. Let alone seeing pads where homes used to be.

Best wishes to all.

Dale Kasler, “PG&E expands blackouts as fierce winds approach: 940,000 to lose power in California,” Sacramento Bee, October 26, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article236691183.html

Dale Kasler and Hannah Wiley, “50,000 face evacuations in Sonoma County as Kincade Fire peril intensifies,” Sacramento Bee, October 26, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article236685153.html

Nico Savidge, Annie Sciacca, and Casey Tolan, “‘I don’t want to do this again’: Blackouts and wildfires put Sonoma County on edge,” San Jose Mercury-News, October 26, 2019, https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/10/26/i-dont-want-to-do-this-again-blackouts-and-fires-make-sonoma-county-residents-question-their-home/

Randi Rossmann and Will Schmitt, “Latest: Crews fighting to protect Windsor from approaching Kincade fire,” Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, October 27, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/10227533-181/latest-winds-picking-up-in

Ryan Sabalow et al., “Kincade Fire forces evacuations and burns 84 square miles, as containment drops to 5%,” Sacramento Bee, October 27, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article236719068.html

Dale Kasler, “Can wildfire risk worsen? Northern California eyes more winds, another PG&E outage,” Sacramento Bee, October 28, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article236718203.html

Nathan Heller, “San Francisco’s Fire Season,” New Yorker, October 30, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/california-chronicles/san-franciscos-fire-season

Annie Lowrey, “California Is Becoming Unlivable,” Atlantic, October 30, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/10/can-california-save-itself/601135/


Brexit

William Booth, Michael Birnbaum, and Karla Adam, “U.K. Parliament rejects Boris Johnson’s call for an early election on Dec. 12, but a pre-Brexit election remains likely,” Washington Post, October 28, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/eu-pushes-brexit-until-end-of-january-british-prime-minister-johnsons-request/2019/10/28/c53839cc-f967-11e9-9534-e0dbcc9f5683_story.html

Karla Adam and William Booth, “Britain sets December date for an election in which Brexit will dominate,” Washington Post, October 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/with-labour-partys-backing-britains-boris-johnson-looks-set-to-get-his-snap-election/2019/10/29/778ed246-f9c9-11e9-9e02-1d45cb3dfa8f_story.html

Max Colchester, “U.K. Opposition Labour Party to Back Boris Johnson’s Call for Election,” Wall Street Journal, October 29, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-k-opposition-to-back-boris-johnsons-call-for-election-11572347134

Peter Walker, “MPs poised to vote through plan for December election,” Guardian, October 29, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/29/rush-to-election-slowed-mp-stella-creasy-backbench-labour-amendment


  1. [1]Santa Rosa Press Democrat, “Map: Real-time map of wind gusts in the North Bay,” October 27, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10155288-181/map-current-winds-in-the
  2. [2]Santa Rosa Press Democrat, “Map: Real-time map of wind gusts in the North Bay,” October 27, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10155288-181/map-current-winds-in-the
  3. [3]California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, “Incidents,” October 27, 2019, https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/
  4. [4]Santa Rosa Press Democrat, “Map: Real-time map of wind gusts in the North Bay,” October 27, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10155288-181/map-current-winds-in-the
  5. [5]California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, “Incidents,” October 27, 2019, https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/
  6. [6]Nico Savidge, Annie Sciacca, and Casey Tolan, “‘I don’t want to do this again’: Blackouts and wildfires put Sonoma County on edge,” San Jose Mercury-News, October 26, 2019, https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/10/26/i-dont-want-to-do-this-again-blackouts-and-fires-make-sonoma-county-residents-question-their-home/
  7. [7]Randi Rossmann and Will Schmitt, “Latest: Crews fighting to protect Windsor from approaching Kincade fire,” Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, October 27, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/10227533-181/latest-winds-picking-up-in
  8. [8]California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, “Incidents,” October 28, 2019, https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/
  9. [9]Santa Rosa Press Democrat, “Map: Real-time map of wind gusts in the North Bay,” October 28, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10155288-181/map-current-winds-in-the
  10. [10]California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, “Incidents,” October 28, 2019, https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/
  11. [11]Santa Rosa Press Democrat, “Map: Real-time map of wind gusts in the North Bay,” October 28, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10155288-181/map-current-winds-in-the
  12. [12]Dale Kasler, “Can wildfire risk worsen? Northern California eyes more winds, another PG&E outage,” Sacramento Bee, October 28, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article236718203.html
  13. [13]Ryan Sabalow et al., “Kincade Fire forces evacuations and burns 84 square miles, as containment drops to 5%,” Sacramento Bee, October 27, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article236719068.html
  14. [14]Ryan Sabalow et al., “Kincade Fire forces evacuations and burns 84 square miles, as containment drops to 5%,” Sacramento Bee, October 27, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article236719068.html
  15. [15]Ryan Sabalow et al., “Kincade Fire forces evacuations and burns 84 square miles, as containment drops to 5%,” Sacramento Bee, October 27, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article236719068.html
  16. [16]William Booth, Michael Birnbaum, and Karla Adam, “U.K. Parliament rejects Boris Johnson’s call for an early election on Dec. 12, but a pre-Brexit election remains likely,” Washington Post, October 28, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/eu-pushes-brexit-until-end-of-january-british-prime-minister-johnsons-request/2019/10/28/c53839cc-f967-11e9-9534-e0dbcc9f5683_story.html
  17. [17]Santa Rosa Press Democrat, “Map: Real-time map of wind gusts in the North Bay,” October 28, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10155288-181/map-current-winds-in-the
  18. [18]Rowena Mason, “Brexit: Boris Johnson abandons bill in new push for December election,” Guardian, October 29, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/28/boris-johnson-abandons-brexit-bill-in-new-push-for-december-election
  19. [19]California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, “Incidents,” October 28, 2019, https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/
  20. [20]Santa Rosa Press Democrat, “Map: Real-time map of wind gusts in the North Bay,” October 28, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10155288-181/map-current-winds-in-the
  21. [21]Ryan Sabalow et al., “Kincade Fire forces evacuations and burns 84 square miles, as containment drops to 5%,” Sacramento Bee, October 27, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article236719068.html
  22. [22]Max Colchester, “U.K. Opposition Labour Party to Back Boris Johnson’s Call for Election,” Wall Street Journal, October 29, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-k-opposition-to-back-boris-johnsons-call-for-election-11572347134
  23. [23]Rowena Mason, “Brexit: Boris Johnson abandons bill in new push for December election,” Guardian, October 29, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/28/boris-johnson-abandons-brexit-bill-in-new-push-for-december-election
  24. [24]Randi Rossman and Will Schmitt, “Broken PG&E tower discovered near origin of Kincade fire on The Geysers geothermal power property,” Santa Rosa Press Democrat, October 25, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/10216601-181/kincade-fire-starts-inside-the
  25. [25]Kurtis Alexander, “Scientists see fingerprints of climate change all over California’s wildfires,” San Francisco Chronicle, August 3, 2018, https://www.sfchronicle.com/science/article/Scientists-see-fingerprints-of-climate-change-all-13128585.php
  26. [26]Santa Rosa Press Democrat, “Map: Real-time map of wind gusts in the North Bay,” October 29, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10155288-181/map-current-winds-in-the
  27. [27]Karla Adam and William Booth, “Britain sets December date for an election in which Brexit will dominate,” Washington Post, October 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/with-labour-partys-backing-britains-boris-johnson-looks-set-to-get-his-snap-election/2019/10/29/778ed246-f9c9-11e9-9e02-1d45cb3dfa8f_story.html
  28. [28]Peter Walker, “MPs poised to vote through plan for December election,” Guardian, October 29, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/29/rush-to-election-slowed-mp-stella-creasy-backbench-labour-amendment
  29. [29]California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, “Incidents,” October 29, 2019, https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/
  30. [30]Santa Rosa Press Democrat, “Map: Real-time map of wind gusts in the North Bay,” October 29, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10155288-181/map-current-winds-in-the
  31. [31]California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, “Incidents,” October 29, 2019, https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/
  32. [32]Santa Rosa Press Democrat, “Map: Real-time map of wind gusts in the North Bay,” October 30, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10155288-181/map-current-winds-in-the
  33. [33]Kurtis Alexander, “Scientists see fingerprints of climate change all over California’s wildfires,” San Francisco Chronicle, August 3, 2018, https://www.sfchronicle.com/science/article/Scientists-see-fingerprints-of-climate-change-all-13128585.php
  34. [34]Richard Denniss, “If economics is a science, why isn’t it being more helpful?” Guardian, October 30, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/oct/30/if-economics-is-a-science-why-isnt-it-being-more-helpful
  35. [35]California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, “Incidents,” October 30, 2019, https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/
  36. [36]Santa Rosa Press Democrat, “Map: Real-time map of wind gusts in the North Bay,” October 30, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10155288-181/map-current-winds-in-the
  37. [37]Bob Bauder, “Judge strikes down Pittsburgh’s controversial gun bills,” Trib, October 29, 2019, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/judge-strikes-down-pittsburghs-controversial-gun-bills/
  38. [38]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
  39. [39]Nathan Heller, “San Francisco’s Fire Season,” New Yorker, October 30, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/california-chronicles/san-franciscos-fire-season
  40. [40]Annie Lowrey, “California Is Becoming Unlivable,” Atlantic, October 30, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/10/can-california-save-itself/601135/
  41. [41]Santa Rosa Press Democrat, “Map: Real-time map of wind gusts in the North Bay,” October 30, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10155288-181/map-current-winds-in-the
  42. [42]California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, “Incidents,” October 30, 2019, https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/
  43. [43]Vince Guerrieri, “The Map That Unlocked the Mysteries of Pittsburgh,” CityLab, October 25, 2019, https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2019/10/pittsburgh-street-map-beltway-system-allegheny-county-roads/600658/
  44. [44]Heather Long, “The world’s top economists just made the case for why we still need English majors,” Washington Post, October 19, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/10/19/worlds-top-economists-just-made-case-why-we-still-need-english-majors/
  45. [45]Dale Kasler and Hannah Wiley, “50,000 face evacuations in Sonoma County as Kincade Fire peril intensifies,” Sacramento Bee, October 26, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article236685153.html

For-profit schools’ most favorite education secretary ever is in contempt of court

For-profit schools

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, “Federal judge holds DeVos in contempt in loan case, slaps Education Department with $100,000 fine,” Washington Post, October 24, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2019/10/24/federal-judge-holds-devos-contempt-loan-case-slaps-education-dept-with-fine/


Kincade fire

There is a new blog post entitled, “The Kincade fire and the limits of human hubris.”

Randi Rossman and Will Schmitt, “Broken PG&E tower discovered near origin of Kincade fire on The Geysers geothermal power property,” Santa Rosa Press Democrat, October 25, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/10216601-181/kincade-fire-starts-inside-the

Reis Thebault, Kim Bellware, and Andrew Freedman, “High-voltage power line broke near origin of massive California fire that forced thousands of evacuations,” Washington Post, October 25, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/10/24/fast-moving-wildfire-ignites-northern-california-wine-country-prompting-evacuations/


Veganism

George Reynolds, “Why do people hate vegans?” Guardian, October 25, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/oct/25/why-do-people-hate-vegans


Brexit

Sam Knight has written a history of Brexit, pretty much since Theresa May was toppled.[1] After all, it has been one very long, very strange journey and we still don’t know, really, how it ends.

Sam Knight, “How Brexit Will End,” New Yorker, October 25, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/11/04/how-brexit-will-end


James Comey

Tammy Kupperman et al., “Judge says impeachment inquiry is legal and justifies disclosing grand jury material,” CNN, October 25, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/25/politics/grand-jury-impeachment-mueller/index.html


  1. [1]Sam Knight, “How Brexit Will End,” New Yorker, October 25, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/11/04/how-brexit-will-end