Sowing discord and confusion

Bernie Sanders

I think I’m not quite sure what the fuss is about. I had understood from the report I read that the Russians aimed to sow discord by boosting Bernie Sanders’ campaign[1] and frankly hadn’t bothered with reports that the Russians were at again also on behalf of Donald Trump.

Apparently, the correct interpretation, at least for now, is indeed that this mischief is aimed at sowing discord. But other folks understood that this meant the Russians want either Sanders or Trump to win and apparently these are not conclusions that U.S. intelligence has reached.[2] Maybe I missed something.

Jeremy Diamond, Jake Tapper and Zachary Cohen, “US intelligence briefer appears to have overstated assessment of 2020 Russian interference,” CNN, February 23, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/23/politics/intelligence-briefer-russian-interference-trump-sanders/index.html


Richard Nixon’s posthumous impostor

Holy shit:

This is just about the last place I’d expect an endorsement of a John F. Kennedy assassination conspiracy theory. The posthumous Ron Ziegler replies,

But in the comments, it is clear that Nixon’s impostor meant that exactly as it sounds.

I have long suspected that we’ll never know for sure what happened on that day.


  1. [1]Shane Harris et al., “Bernie Sanders briefed by U.S. officials that Russia is trying to help his presidential campaign,” Washington Post, February 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/bernie-sanders-briefed-by-us-officials-that-russia-is-trying-to-help-his-presidential-campaign/2020/02/21/5ad396a6-54bd-11ea-929a-64efa7482a77_story.html
  2. [2]Jeremy Diamond, Jake Tapper and Zachary Cohen, “US intelligence briefer appears to have overstated assessment of 2020 Russian interference,” CNN, February 23, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/23/politics/intelligence-briefer-russian-interference-trump-sanders/index.html

What catches my eye about the Nevada caucuses results

Nevada

There are a couple points I’d like to highlight from Chris Cillizza’s analysis of “winners” and “losers” from the Nevada caucuses:

  1. First, among the winners,

    * Electability: Two thirds of Nevada caucus-goers said they would prefer a candidate who can beat President Donald Trump rather than someone who agrees with them on issues. That’s very similar to the number who opted for electability in Iowa and New Hampshire, and serves as yet another reminder of just how important beating the incumbent is for a broad swath of Democratic voters. Here’s the really interesting thing, though: Among those who said electability was most important, Sanders – yes, Sanders – was the leading candidate. [emphasis in original] [1]

    For me, this is a real surprise. And it’s absolutely crucial to overcoming the self-fulfilling prophesy in which Bernie Sanders loses because people think he can’t win. The question, of course, is whether Sanders can in fact win, and Cillizza counts Donald Trump as a winner in part because Trump supposedly thinks Sanders will be easiest to defeat.[2]

  2. Second, among the losers,

    * Culinary Union: The most powerful union in the state decided not to endorse a candidate. But a flier it sent to its members attacking Sanders’ “Medicare for All” plan, which would eliminate private health insurance entirely, became a major issue in the race as supporters of the Vermont senator attacked the union leadership. Sanders’ smashing victory – and the overwhelming support for the elimination of private health insurance among Nevada voters – amount to a major rebuke for the Culinary Union.[3]

    It would indeed seem that the Culinary Union, which not only warned against Sanders’ plan for Medicare For All, but rebuked Sanders’ supporters for criticizing its stance,[4] isn’t very much in touch which its members, who, it seems, worry about relatives, friends, and other members of the community who aren’t in the union and don’t enjoy its healthcare benefits. These members like Sanders’ other ideas as well.[5] “[A] major rebuke for the Culinary Union”[6] indeed.

It’s all a very interesting turn of events. I am deeply cynical about the U.S. electoral system for multiple reasons.[7] But a result like this[8] can only lead me to wonder if, maybe, just maybe, there’s some hope after all. (The voice in my head, the voice that’s seen it all before, is adamant that such hopes will be ruthlessly crushed.)

Chris Cillizza, “Chris Cillizza’s winners and losers from the Nevada caucuses,” CNN, February 22, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/22/politics/who-won-nevada-caucuses/index.html

Nidhi Prakash, “Members Of Nevada’s Largest Union Defied Their Leadership To Support Bernie Sanders,” Buzzfeed, February 22, 2020, https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/nidhiprakash/bernie-sanders-nevada-caucus-culinary-union


 

  1. [1]Chris Cillizza, “Chris Cillizza’s winners and losers from the Nevada caucuses,” CNN, February 22, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/22/politics/who-won-nevada-caucuses/index.html
  2. [2]Chris Cillizza, “Chris Cillizza’s winners and losers from the Nevada caucuses,” CNN, February 22, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/22/politics/who-won-nevada-caucuses/index.html
  3. [3]Chris Cillizza, “Chris Cillizza’s winners and losers from the Nevada caucuses,” CNN, February 22, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/22/politics/who-won-nevada-caucuses/index.html
  4. [4]Megan Messerly, “In new flyer, Culinary Union warns members Sanders would ‘end’ their health care if elected president,” Nevada Independent, February 11, 2020, https://thenevadaindependent.com/article/in-new-flyer-culinary-union-warns-members-sanders-would-end-their-health-care-if-elected-president; Caitlin Oprysko, “Nevada culinary union lays into Sanders supporters after health care backlash,” Politico, February 12, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/02/12/bernie-sanders-nevada-culinary-union-114687
  5. [5]Nidhi Prakash, “Members Of Nevada’s Largest Union Defied Their Leadership To Support Bernie Sanders,” Buzzfeed, February 22, 2020, https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/nidhiprakash/bernie-sanders-nevada-caucus-culinary-union
  6. [6]Chris Cillizza, “Chris Cillizza’s winners and losers from the Nevada caucuses,” CNN, February 22, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/22/politics/who-won-nevada-caucuses/index.html
  7. [7]David Benfell, “Why I do not vote,” Not Housebroken, February 23, 2016, https://disunitedstates.org/2016/02/23/why-i-do-not-vote/
  8. [8]Russell Berman, “Bernie Sanders’s Biggest Win Yet,” Atlantic, February 22, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/02/bernie-wins-nevada/606937/; Chris Cillizza, “Chris Cillizza’s winners and losers from the Nevada caucuses,” CNN, February 22, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/22/politics/who-won-nevada-caucuses/index.html; John McCormick, “Sen. Bernie Sanders Wins the Nevada Democratic Caucuses, AP Says,” Wall Street Journal, February 22, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/bernie-sanders-looks-to-build-momentum-in-nevada-caucuses-11582380000

Look at all the flawed Bernie Sanders comparisons

Bernie Sanders

It’s a little worrying to see Bernie Sanders assume frontrunner status. Not because I oppose him—on the contrary, he’s the least awful major party candidate, even if he’s still to my right—but rather to see how it’s all playing. I probably just have some learning to do.

One thing that worries me is the comparisons. Some are pretty obviously to be expected. All are dismaying.

I started off last night with David Roth’s extraordinarily well-written takedown of Donald Trump, of Democratic Party “centrists,” and of comparisons between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump,[1] which for completeness’ sake, I’m including below. In this category, we can now add the accusation that Russians are supporting Bernie Sanders, which I address in a new blog post entitled, “Attacking the man for who supports him.”

This morning, I’ve found a couple more bullshit comparisons, one from a few days ago of a billionaire comparing Sanders to the Coronavirus,[2] and another comparing him to George McGovern, who lost in a landslide to Richard Nixon in 1972.[3] The former article simply reports the comparison; the latter rebuts it. I also briefly address the former in that new blog post (see the part about capitalist libertarians).

Gotta tell you, these comparisons just ain’t looking good.

Bess Levin, “Cranky Billionaire Warns Bernie Sanders is ‘a Bigger Threat than the Coronavirus,’” Vanity Fair, February 18, 2020, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/02/leon-cooperman-bernie-sanders-coronavirus

Shane Harris et al., “Bernie Sanders briefed by U.S. officials that Russia is trying to help his presidential campaign,” Washington Post, February 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/bernie-sanders-briefed-by-us-officials-that-russia-is-trying-to-help-his-presidential-campaign/2020/02/21/5ad396a6-54bd-11ea-929a-64efa7482a77_story.html

David Roth, “Bernie Sanders Is No Donald Trump,” New Republic, February 21, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/156639/bernie-sanders-no-donald-trump

Ed Kilgore, “Why Bernie Is Not George McGovern and 2020 Isn’t 1972,” New York, February 22, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/02/why-bernie-is-not-george-mcgovern-and-2020-isnt-1972.html


Pennsylvania

WTAE, “New bill to legalize recreational marijuana unveiled by state lawmaker from Pittsburgh,” February 20, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/recreational-marijuana-bill-pittsburgh-state-rep-jake-wheatley/31025380


  1. [1]David Roth, “Bernie Sanders Is No Donald Trump,” New Republic, February 21, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/156639/bernie-sanders-no-donald-trump
  2. [2]Bess Levin, “Cranky Billionaire Warns Bernie Sanders is ‘a Bigger Threat than the Coronavirus,’” Vanity Fair, February 18, 2020, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/02/leon-cooperman-bernie-sanders-coronavirus
  3. [3]Ed Kilgore, “Why Bernie Is Not George McGovern and 2020 Isn’t 1972,” New York, February 22, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/02/why-bernie-is-not-george-mcgovern-and-2020-isnt-1972.html

Things that should not need to be said

Bernie Sanders

Obviously, comparisons of Bernie Sanders to Donald Trump are facile and disingenuous, right? The neoliberal mainstream of the Democratic Party and other Sanders opponents are making the comparison anyway. It’s a pretty obvious sign of desperation and, so far, it looks like a lot of folks are picking up on that.

Read David Roth’s article[1] anyway. His takedown of Trump is unlike anything I’ve seen; he says everything I do about the so-called “centrists” and oh, so much more. It’s completely worth the hit on your free allowance with the New Republic’s paywall. Oh, and by the way, his writing is amazing.

David Roth, “Bernie Sanders Is No Donald Trump,” New Republic, February 21, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/156639/bernie-sanders-no-donald-trump


  1. [1]David Roth, “Bernie Sanders Is No Donald Trump,” New Republic, February 21, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/156639/bernie-sanders-no-donald-trump

The even scarier delusional raging narcissist-in-chief

Donald Trump

In general, I’m not much interested in personnel shifts. Mostly they’re about rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

But Donald Trump really seems ever more unhinged. It seems like he doesn’t even bother to conceal his demands for fealty.[1]

So thanks, once again, Nancy Pelosi, for “[t]he stupidest impeachment ever, historically notable first for all the offenses it failed to charge Donald Trump with,[2] second for its utterly predictable futility, and third for its transparent (and apparently failed) attempt to protect Joe Biden.[3][4] Trump was already scary. Now he’s scarier.[5] And I don’t see how you disentangle our delusional raging narcissist-in-chief’s sudden imperious escalation from that so very stupid impeachment.

Then there’s the really rather baffling puzzlement about why Russia would favor Trump’s reelection when the latter has imposed sanctions.[6] We should note that, apparently, the aforementioned sanctions have produced no change in behavior (which is generally the case); my guess is that some way, somehow they lack sufficient force to outweigh whatever interest Russia perceives in Trump’s reelection.

Ellen Nakashima et al., “Senior intelligence official told lawmakers that Russia wants to see Trump reelected,” Washington Post, February 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/after-a-congressional-briefing-on-election-threats-trump-soured-on-acting-spy-chief/2020/02/20/1ed2b4ec-53f1-11ea-b119-4faabac6674f_story.html


Afghanistan

A potential peace deal ending a futile war that has gone on for over 18 years[7] seems like good news. But apparently not everyone will celebrate; some dissenters have the ability to disrupt the planned “reduction in violence” that precedes the deal and must be successfully completed. The worst comes at the end of the story:[8]

After the signing of the U.S.-Taliban peace deal, the Afghan government will launch its own round of talks with the Taliban. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has said that he will build a negotiating team that is inclusive, but following disputed election results announced this week, Afghan politics is deeply divided.

Ghani and his chief rival, Abdullah Abdullah, both declared victory after the results were announced. Abdullah, the country’s chief executive, declared the results illegal and announced he will begin setting up a parallel government. Should this political turmoil persist, it will further complicate the formation of a strong, inclusive team to negotiate with the Taliban.[9]

Which is to say, whoops.

Susannah George and John Hudson, “Pompeo, Taliban announce plan to sign peace deal at the end of the month,” Washington Post, February 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/violence-reduction-in-afghanistan-set-to-begin-after-midnight-saturday/2020/02/21/c3df0fb2-547d-11ea-80ce-37a8d4266c09_story.html


 

  1. [1]Ellen Nakashima et al., “Senior intelligence official told lawmakers that Russia wants to see Trump reelected,” Washington Post, February 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/after-a-congressional-briefing-on-election-threats-trump-soured-on-acting-spy-chief/2020/02/20/1ed2b4ec-53f1-11ea-b119-4faabac6674f_story.html
  2. [2]David Benfell, “The whiteness of impeachment,” Not Housebroken, December 15, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/15/the-whiteness-of-impeachment/; Democracy Now, “Law Professor: Trump Could Also Have Been Impeached for War Crimes, Assassinations and Corruption,” January 24, 2020, https://www.democracynow.org/2020/1/24/donald_trump_senate_impeachment_trial
  3. [3]David Benfell, “It’s still a smoke-filled room,” Not Housebroken, December 6, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/06/its-still-a-smoke-filled-room/; 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/; David Benfell, “The whiteness of impeachment,” Not Housebroken, December 15, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/15/the-whiteness-of-impeachment/; David Benfell, “The least violent solution,” Not Housebroken, December 16, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/16/the-least-violent-solution/; David Benfell, “The sham (pick your partisan flavor) is on,” Not Housebroken, December 19, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/19/the-sham-pick-your-partisan-flavor-is-on/; David Benfell, “The asterisk,” Not Housebroken, December 21, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/21/the-asterisk/
  4. [4]David Benfell, “One farce down, one to go,” Irregular Bullshit, February 5, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/02/05/one-farce-down-one-to-go/
  5. [5]Fred Barbash, “Federal judges reportedly call emergency meeting in wake of Stone case intervention,” Washington Post, February 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/02/18/judges-meeting-trump/; Philip Bump, “Trump is making it very clear how seriously he objects to official corruption,” Washington Post, February 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/02/18/trump-is-making-it-very-clear-how-seriously-he-objects-official-corruption/; Kevin Johnson, “Federal judges’ association calls emergency meeting after DOJ intervenes in case of Trump ally Roger Stone,” USA Today, February 17, 2020, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/02/17/roger-stone-sentence-judges-worried-political-interference/4788155002/; Burgess Everett and Marianne Levine, “Republicans plead with Trump to leave Barr alone,” Politico, February 19, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/02/19/republican-senate-barr-trump-116034; Seung Min Kim, “These Republicans said they hope Trump has learned a lesson from impeachment. He said he hasn’t,” Washington Post, February 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/these-republicans-said-they-hope-trump-has-learned-a-lesson-from-impeachment-he-said-he-hasnt/2020/02/04/fa68c18c-478e-11ea-ab15-b5df3261b710_story.html; Adam Serwer, “The First Days of the Trump Regime,” Atlantic, February 19, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/02/trump-regime/606682/
  6. [6]Ellen Nakashima et al., “Senior intelligence official told lawmakers that Russia wants to see Trump reelected,” Washington Post, February 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/after-a-congressional-briefing-on-election-threats-trump-soured-on-acting-spy-chief/2020/02/20/1ed2b4ec-53f1-11ea-b119-4faabac6674f_story.html
  7. [7]Craig Whitlock, “At war with the truth,” Washington Post, December 9, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/afghanistan-papers/afghanistan-war-confidential-documents/; Craig Whitlock, “Stranded without a strategy,” Washington Post, December 9, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/afghanistan-papers/afghanistan-war-strategy/; Craig Whitlock, “Built to fail,” Washington Post, December 9, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/afghanistan-papers/afghanistan-war-nation-building/; Craig Whitlock, “Consumed by corruption,” Washington Post, December 9, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/afghanistan-papers/afghanistan-war-corruption-government/; Craig Whitlock, “Unguarded nation,” Washington Post, December 9, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/afghanistan-papers/afghanistan-war-army-police/; Craig Whitlock, “Overwhelmed by opium,” Washington Post, December 9, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/afghanistan-papers/afghanistan-war-opium-poppy-production/
  8. [8]Susannah George and John Hudson, “Pompeo, Taliban announce plan to sign peace deal at the end of the month,” Washington Post, February 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/violence-reduction-in-afghanistan-set-to-begin-after-midnight-saturday/2020/02/21/c3df0fb2-547d-11ea-80ce-37a8d4266c09_story.html
  9. [9]Susannah George and John Hudson, “Pompeo, Taliban announce plan to sign peace deal at the end of the month,” Washington Post, February 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/violence-reduction-in-afghanistan-set-to-begin-after-midnight-saturday/2020/02/21/c3df0fb2-547d-11ea-80ce-37a8d4266c09_story.html

Barack Obama failed to unite the country. He thinks he can unite Democrats.

Barack Obama

A while ago, I wrote,

Cornel West cites what “may have been our last [and lost] chance to break from our neoliberal soulcraft,” Barack Obama’s failure “to break with the Wall Street priorities and bail out Main Street,” the lack of “accountability of US torturers of innocent Muslims and the [lack of] transparency of US drone strikes killing innocent civilians,” his silence on stop-and-frisk, his demonization of whistle blowers, and his response to Black Lives Matter and to Israeli attacks on Palestine “with words about the difficult plight of police officers, department investigations (with no police going to jail) and the additional $225m in financial support of the Israeli army. Obama said not a mumbling word about the dead Palestinian children but he did call Baltimore black youth ‘criminals and thugs’.”[1]

Yet the mainstream media and academia failed to highlight these painful truths linked to Obama. Instead, most well-paid pundits on TV and radio celebrated the Obama brand. And most black spokespeople shamelessly defended Obama’s silences and crimes in the name of racial symbolism and their own careerism. How hypocritical to see them now speak truth to white power when most went mute in the face of black power. Their moral authority is weak and their newfound militancy is shallow.[2]

This is all true, but I would add that after Obama inherited wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where we’re still involved, and won the Nobel Peace Prize,[3] “the United States dropped 26,171 bombs in seven countries” in 2016[4] and that Obama’s much ballyhooed accomplishment on climate change is, to be generous, an ineffective non-binding half-measure.[5] I would amplify that Obama clearly cared not one whit for ordinary people, except when he wanted their votes, as he declared in 2009 that “[w]e all know that there are limits to what government can and should do [for the unemployed], even during such difficult times,”[6] allowed what should have been a bailout for homeowners blindsided by the crash in real estate values to become a bailout for bankers instead,[7] and used the promise of health care to bail out health insurance companies and pharmaceutical firms that didn’t even need a bailout.[8] Similarly, his disdain for the left,[9] which I guess just wasn’t neoconservative, neoliberal, or corrupt enough for him, should have been a caution about supporting Hillary Clinton.[10]

Barack Obama failed to unite the country. Jim Geraghty of the mostly neoconservative National Review suggests that Obama thinks he’s going to unite the Democrats:[11]

With each week and Sanders’s continued rise, I’ve been thinking about this report from Ryan Lizza, writing in Politico, back on November 26: “There is one potential exception: Back when [Bernie] Sanders seemed like more of a threat than he does now, [Barack] Obama said privately that if Bernie were running away with the nomination, Obama would speak up to stop him. (Asked about that, a spokesperson for Obama pointed out that Obama recently said he would support and campaign for whoever the Democratic nominee is.)”

It’s now mid-February, and the results of the latest national poll from Marist/NPR/PBS are: Bernie Sanders 31 percent, Michael Bloomberg 19 percent, Joe Biden 15 percent, Elizabeth Warren 12 percent, Amy Klobuchar 9 percent, Pete Buttigieg 8 percent. (How odd is it that the current leader in delegates is running sixth nationally?) If Sanders isn’t running away with the nomination, he’s starting to get close. If Obama’s going to object to Sanders, now is the time to do it. But according to the [Gabriel] Debenedetti report, he’s not going to. [emphasis added by Jim Geraghty][12]

I am by no means alone among progressives in speaking harshly of Barack Obama. He certainly did himself no favors when he let it slip that he would speak up against Bernie Sanders.[13] And with Nancy Pelosi’s impeachment of Donald Trump being, as I put it, “[t]he stupidest impeachment ever, historically notable first for all the offenses it failed to charge Donald Trump with,[14] second for its utterly predictable futility, and third for its transparent (and apparently failed) attempt to protect Joe Biden.[15][16] so-called “centrists,” including Obama, have absolutely zero credibility with progressives. If Obama wants to see just how far his star has fallen, he should just press on as he apparently intends.

To be fair, few progressives have quite my memory. Mostly they just remember 2016,[17] they’ve seen the shenanigans in Iowa,[18] and are pretty sure the Democratic National Committee is up to its old tricks. They’ve taken note of the narrow focus of Pelosi’s impeachment,[19] and seen Donald Trump’s response to it.[20] They’ve figured out that Obama is indeed just what he says he is, a so-called “centrist,” which, as they understand quite well, in real terms, means maybe just a little left of Attila the Hun. And progressives now range anywhere from pissed to furious.

These so-called “centrists,” Obama especially included, underestimate that anger.

Jim Geraghty, “When Is Obama Going to Speak Up?” National Review, February 18, 2020, https://www.nationalreview.com/the-morning-jolt/when-is-obama-going-to-speak-up/


Donald Trump

Philip Bump, “Trump is making it very clear how seriously he objects to official corruption,” Washington Post, February 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/02/18/trump-is-making-it-very-clear-how-seriously-he-objects-official-corruption/


  1. [1]Cornel West, “Pity the sad legacy of Barack Obama,” Guardian, January 9, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/09/barack-obama-legacy-presidency
  2. [2]Cornel West, “Pity the sad legacy of Barack Obama,” Guardian, January 9, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/09/barack-obama-legacy-presidency
  3. [3]Kathleen Hennessey, “Once Lauded as a Peacemaker, Obama’s Tenure Fraught with War,” Military.com, October 6, 2016, http://www.military.com/daily-news/2016/10/06/once-lauded-peacemaker-obama-tenure-fraught-war.html
  4. [4]Micah Zenko, “Scary Fact: America Dropped 26,171 Bombs in 7 Countries in 2016,” National Interest, January 6, 2017, http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/scary-fact-america-dropped-26171-bombs-7-countries-2016-18961
  5. [5]Kasia Anderson, “Pre-eminent Climate Scientist James Hansen Calls Paris Deal a ‘Fraud’; John Kerry Begs to Differ,” Truthdig, December 13, 2015, http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/preeminent_climate_scientist_calls_paris_deal_a_fraud_-_kerry_20151213; Marty Lederman, “The constitutionally critical, last-minute correction to the Paris climate change accord,” Balkinization, December 13, 2015, http://balkin.blogspot.com/2015/12/the-last-minute-correction-to-paris.html; Arthur Neslen and Karl Mathiesen, “Paris climate pledges ‘will only delay dangerous warming by two years’,” Guardian, June 3, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jun/03/paris-climate-pledges-will-only-delay-dangerous-warming-by-two-years; David Roberts, “No country on Earth is taking the 2 degree climate target seriously,” Vox, October 4, 2016, http://www.vox.com/2016/10/4/13118594/2-degrees-no-more-fossil-fuels; Alissa J. Rubin and Elian Peltier, “Protesters Are in Agreement as Well: Pact Is Too Weak,” New York Times, December 12, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/13/world/europe/climate-activists-gather-in-paris-to-protest-outcome-of-conference.html
  6. [6]Barack Obama, “Remarks by the President on the Economy,” White House, November 12, 2009, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-economy-jobs-forum
  7. [7]Neil Barofsky, Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street (New York: Free Press, 2012).
  8. [8]Brad Jacobson, “Obama received $20 million from healthcare industry in 2008 campaign,” Raw Story, January 12, 2010, http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/01/12/obama-received-20-million-healthcare-industry-money-2008/; Gaius Publius [pseud.], “Obama Got $20 Million from Healthcare Industry in 2008. Was Killing Single-Payer Part of the Deal?” Naked Capitalism, February 5, 2014, http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/02/gaius-publius-obama-got-20-million-healthcare-industry-2008-killing-single-payer-part-deal.html
  9. [9]Blue Texan [pseud.], “Ed Rendell Tells Democratic Base to “Get Over It” on Rachel Maddow,” Firedoglake, September 23, 2010, http://firedoglake.com/2010/09/23/early-morning-swim-ed-rendell-tells-democratic-base-to-get-over-it-on-rachel-maddow/; Blue Texan [pseud.], “Stop Whining, Liberals!” Firedoglake, September 27, 2010, http://firedoglake.com/2010/09/27/late-night-stop-whining-liberals/; Michael Falcone, “Opposite Day On The Campaign Trail?” ABC News, September 21, 2010, http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2010/09/election-2010-opposite-day-on-the-campaign-trail/; Glenn Greenwald, “Obama’s view of liberal criticisms,” Salon, September 17, 2010, http://www.salon.com/2010/09/17/obama_139/; David Neiwert, “President Obama lashes out at his liberal critics: Choice is to ‘get things done’ or feel ‘sanctimonious’,” Crooks and Liars, December 7, 2010, http://crooksandliars.com/david-neiwert/president-obama-lashes-out-his-liber; Heather Digby Parton, “‘It’s always the hippies’ fault’: Why the left treats its idealists all wrong,” Salon, February 5, 2015, http://www.salon.com/2015/02/05/its_always_the_hippies_fault_why_the_left_treats_its_idealists_all_wrong/; Greg Sargent, “Liberal blogger directly confronts David Axelrod, accuses White House of ‘hippie punching’,” Washington Post, September 23, 2010, http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/09/liberal_blogger_directly_confr.html; Stephen Stromberg, “Joe Biden scolds progressives — and he’s right,” Washington Post, September 16, 2010, http://voices.washingtonpost.com/postpartisan/2010/09/joe_biden_scolds_progressives.html; Sam Youngman, “White House unloads anger over criticism from ‘professional left’,” Hill, August 10, 2010, http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/113431-white-house-unloads-on-professional-left
  10. [10]David Benfell, “Barack Obama’s legacy,” Irregular Bullshit, January 10, 2017, https://disunitedstates.com/2017/01/10/barack-obamas-legacy-daily-bullshit-january-9-10-2017-early/
  11. [11]Jim Geraghty, “When Is Obama Going to Speak Up?” National Review, February 18, 2020, https://www.nationalreview.com/the-morning-jolt/when-is-obama-going-to-speak-up/
  12. [12]Jim Geraghty, “When Is Obama Going to Speak Up?” National Review, February 18, 2020, https://www.nationalreview.com/the-morning-jolt/when-is-obama-going-to-speak-up/
  13. [13]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
  14. [14]David Benfell, “The whiteness of impeachment,” Not Housebroken, December 15, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/15/the-whiteness-of-impeachment/; Democracy Now, “Law Professor: Trump Could Also Have Been Impeached for War Crimes, Assassinations and Corruption,” January 24, 2020, https://www.democracynow.org/2020/1/24/donald_trump_senate_impeachment_trial
  15. [15]David Benfell, “It’s still a smoke-filled room,” Not Housebroken, December 6, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/06/its-still-a-smoke-filled-room/; 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/; David Benfell, “The whiteness of impeachment,” Not Housebroken, December 15, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/15/the-whiteness-of-impeachment/; David Benfell, “The least violent solution,” Not Housebroken, December 16, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/16/the-least-violent-solution/; David Benfell, “The sham (pick your partisan flavor) is on,” Not Housebroken, December 19, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/19/the-sham-pick-your-partisan-flavor-is-on/; David Benfell, “The asterisk,” Not Housebroken, December 21, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/21/the-asterisk/
  16. [16]David Benfell, “One farce down, one to go,” Irregular Bullshit, February 5, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/02/05/one-farce-down-one-to-go/
  17. [17]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
  18. [18]David Benfell, “Neoliberal hubris and the Iowa fiasco,” Not Housebroken, February 5, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/02/05/neoliberal-hubris-and-the-iowa-fiasco/
  19. [19]David Benfell, “The whiteness of impeachment,” Not Housebroken, December 15, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/15/the-whiteness-of-impeachment/; Democracy Now, “Law Professor: Trump Could Also Have Been Impeached for War Crimes, Assassinations and Corruption,” January 24, 2020, https://www.democracynow.org/2020/1/24/donald_trump_senate_impeachment_trial
  20. [20]Philip Bump, “Trump is making it very clear how seriously he objects to official corruption,” Washington Post, February 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/02/18/trump-is-making-it-very-clear-how-seriously-he-objects-official-corruption/; Seung Min Kim, “These Republicans said they hope Trump has learned a lesson from impeachment. He said he hasn’t,” Washington Post, February 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/these-republicans-said-they-hope-trump-has-learned-a-lesson-from-impeachment-he-said-he-hasnt/2020/02/04/fa68c18c-478e-11ea-ab15-b5df3261b710_story.html

Michael Avenatti convicted

Michael Avenatti

Michael Avenatti gained fame representing Stormy Daniels, a porn star whom Donald Trump paid off to keep quiet about a sexual encounter, and exposing other skullduggery along the way.[1]

It was never clear to me how Avenatti got some of his information that was unrelated to Daniels and I always thought his style was too much that of a braggart and much louder than I’m comfortable with. But I was hoping I was wrong—it’s not like I run a successful public relations operation—and I was certainly cheering him on.

Avenatti has now been convicted of attempting to blackmail Nike and still faces charges in two other cases, including one in which he allegedly embezzled Daniels’ money.[2] If I pick up the pieces correctly, the latter case is why he no longer represents Daniels.

I assume Avenatti will be appealing.

Rebecca Davis O’Brien, “Michael Avenatti Found Guilty in Extortion Case,” Wall Street Journal, February 14, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/michael-avenatti-found-guilty-11581708458


  1. [1]Aaron Blake, “We finally got an answer about whether Trump knew about the Stormy Daniels payment,” Washington Post, March 29, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/03/29/we-finally-got-an-answer-as-to-whether-trump-knew-about-the-stormy-daniels-payment/; Jonathan Chait, “Michael Cohen Apparently Flipping Is Extremely Bad News for Trump,” New York, July 2, 2018, http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/07/michael-cohen-apparent-flip-is-extremely-bad-news-for-trump.html; Anderson Cooper, “Stormy Daniels describes her alleged affair with Donald Trump,” CBS News, March 26, 2018, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/stormy-daniels-describes-her-alleged-affair-with-donald-trump-60-minutes-interview/; David Frum, “Trump’s Legal Threats Backfire,” Atlantic, March 26, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/03/trumps-legal-threats-backfire/556505/; Michael Gerson, “The strange, unexpected public contribution of Stormy Daniels,” Washington Post, March 26, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-strange-unexpected-public-contribution-of-stormy-daniels/2018/03/26/2c2bce4e-312a-11e8-8abc-22a366b72f2d_story.html; Elie Mystal, “Trump Goes On Television, Destroys Two Legal Cases, Will Blame ‘Fake News,’” Above The Law, April 26, 2018, https://abovethelaw.com/2018/04/trump-goes-on-television-destroys-two-legal-cases-will-blame-fake-news/; Elie Mystal, “It’s Giuliani Time! Rudy Ritualistically Suicides One Case To Try To Save Trump From Another,” Above The Law, May 2, 2018, https://abovethelaw.com/2018/05/its-giuliani-time-rudy-ritualistically-suicides-one-case-to-try-to-save-trump-from-another/; Philip Rucker, “Trump says for first time that Cohen represented him in Stormy Daniels case,” Washington Post, April 26, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-says-for-first-time-that-cohen-represented-him-in-stormy-daniels-case/2018/04/26/43c48962-4951-11e8-827e-190efaf1f1ee_story.html; Amy Davidson Sorkin, “Trump’s Stormy Morning on ‘Fox & Friends,’” New Yorker, April 26, 2018, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/trumps-stormy-morning-on-fox-and-friends; Jacqueline Thomsen, “Giuliani: Trump reimbursed Cohen for $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels,” Hill, May 2, 2018, http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/385965-giuliani-trump-reimbursed-cohen-for-payment-to-stormy-daniels; Staci Zaretsky, “Porn Star Stormy Daniels Files New Defamation Suit Against President Donald Trump,” Above The Law, April 30, 2018, https://abovethelaw.com/2018/04/porn-star-stormy-daniels-files-new-defamation-suit-against-president-donald-trump/
  2. [2]Rebecca Davis O’Brien, “Michael Avenatti Found Guilty in Extortion Case,” Wall Street Journal, February 14, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/michael-avenatti-found-guilty-11581708458

Another fucking tank

Updates

  1. Originally published, February 13, 7:31 pm.
  2. I had given the wrong name of a location. It is the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial, not Veterans Hall. Corrected below, February 15, 7:47 pm:

Gratuitous guns

I found another fucking tank on display. This one (figure 1) is on display at the American Legion post in Plum.
IMG_0092
Fig. 1. Plum Borough (originally Township), Pennsylvania. Photograph by author, February 13, 2020.

I have updated the map (figure 2).


Fig. 2. Gratuitous guns map.

I don’t make it out to Plum very often and this is well outside the area of Mon Valley I have associated with white supremacism where most of the munitions to be found on the map are located. It’s a bit of a surprise. As I look at the map in figure 2, the three outliers now where I’m less certain that racism may be a factor are at the Veterans Hall Soldiers and Sailors Memorial (Corrected February 15, 2020) near University of Pittsburgh (known locally as “Pitt”), Monongahela (which is still in Mon Valley but at some distance upstream from the other sites), and Plum. I don’t get to either of the latter two areas often and I don’t know them. So I don’t know what’s going on with them.

But I’m deeply suspicious about the rest of these sites, including in South Park.


The Equal Rights Amendment is likely dead. At Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s hand.

Equal Rights Amendment

Ruth Bader Ginsburg would like to see the Equal Rights Amendment get a fresh start.[1] With the strong qualification that the lawsuits surrounding the ratification process[2] have not yet reached the Supreme Court, this is likely a death knell for the amendment.[3]

I have updated my relevant blog post entitled, “Equal Rights for women in the U.S. Maybe. Someday.

Ian Millhiser, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg probably just dealt a fatal blow to the Equal Rights Amendment,” Vox, February 11, 2020, https://www.vox.com/2020/2/11/21133029/ruth-bader-ginsburg-equal-rights-amendment-supreme-court


Darfur

The Sudanese government and rebels have agreed to hand over suspects wanted by the International Criminal Court, a top official said. The ICC wants former President Omar al-Bashir, but the army opposes his extradition. . . .

The Hague-based ICC wants al-Bashir on war crimes and genocide charges related to the Darfur conflict in the 2000s that killed hundreds of thousands of people through war and starvation. The first warrant against him was issued in 2009, while he was still in office, followed by a second in 2010.[4]

An issue I recall being raised while Omar al-Bashir was still in power was a perception that the International Criminal Court only prosecuted suspects from developing countries. This casts the Court in the role of a colonizer and makes Barack Obama’s 1) refusal to prosecute Bush administration war crimes, and 2) embrace and extension of those policies all the more outrageous.

Jason Burke and Zeinab Mohammed Salih, “Sudan signals it may send former dictator Omar al-Bashir to ICC,” Guardian, February 11, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/11/sudan-says-it-will-send-former-dictator-omar-al-bashir-to-icc

Deutschewelle, “Sudan ex-leader Omar al-Bashir headed to International Criminal Court?” February 11, 2020, https://www.dw.com/en/sudan-ex-leader-omar-al-bashir-headed-to-international-criminal-court/a-52339639


  1. [1]Ian Millhiser, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg probably just dealt a fatal blow to the Equal Rights Amendment,” Vox, February 11, 2020, https://www.vox.com/2020/2/11/21133029/ruth-bader-ginsburg-equal-rights-amendment-supreme-court
  2. [2]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
  3. [3]Ian Millhiser, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg probably just dealt a fatal blow to the Equal Rights Amendment,” Vox, February 11, 2020, https://www.vox.com/2020/2/11/21133029/ruth-bader-ginsburg-equal-rights-amendment-supreme-court
  4. [4]Deutschewelle, “Sudan ex-leader Omar al-Bashir headed to International Criminal Court?” February 11, 2020, https://www.dw.com/en/sudan-ex-leader-omar-al-bashir-headed-to-international-criminal-court/a-52339639

Monday maybe?

Iowa

So does this mean we’ll actually have final results Monday?

“The [Iowa Democratic Party] has initiated the process of review of the requested precincts, and any corrections will be released before Monday at 12pm CST in a single update – reported prior to the allocation of national delegates,” an unsigned statement from the state party read.[1]

Zach Montellaro, “Iowa Democratic Party reviewing results from 95 precincts,” Politico, February 8, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/02/08/iowa-democratic-party-reviewing-results-112532


Gig economy

U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee said during a hearing in Los Angeles that it was “a steep hill to climb” for Uber and Postmates to argue that the statute [California’s AB 5] irrationally targets the app-based companies on the grounds that many workers in other industries were exempt from it.

“I can’t second guess the legislature unless you show me an example of an exemption that absolutely doesn’t make sense,” Gee said.[2]

Thud.

Joel Rosenblatt and Edvard Pettersson, “Uber Falters in First Legal Attack on California Gig Worker Law,” Bloomberg, February 7, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-02-07/uber-poised-to-lose-bid-to-block-california-gig-worker-law


  1. [1]Zach Montellaro, “Iowa Democratic Party reviewing results from 95 precincts,” Politico, February 8, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/02/08/iowa-democratic-party-reviewing-results-112532
  2. [2]Joel Rosenblatt and Edvard Pettersson, “Uber Falters in First Legal Attack on California Gig Worker Law,” Bloomberg, February 7, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-02-07/uber-poised-to-lose-bid-to-block-california-gig-worker-law