Brexit

There is a new blog entry entitled, “Sound and fury on Brexit.”

Jessica Elgot, “Bercow will ‘fight’ to stop Johnson closing
parliament for no deal,” Guardian, August 13, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/13/bercow-will-fight-to-stop-johnson-closing-parliament-for-no-deal

Rowena Mason and Jessica Elgot, “No-deal Brexit would be a betrayal, says Philip Hammond,” Guardian, August 14, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/13/no-deal-brexit-would-be-a-betrayal-says-philip-hammond


Ethnic Studies

There is a second new blog post entitled, “Three cheers for Ethnic Studies. Now comes the hard part.

Howard Blume and Nina Agrawal, “Ethnic studies may soon be mandatory. Can California get it right?” Los Angeles Times, August 13, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-08-12/california-ethnic-studies-curriculum

Steven Johnson, “Ethnic-Studies Scholars Hoped Their Curriculum Would Break Boundaries. Critics Are Calling It Propaganda,” Chronicle of Higher Education, August 13, 2019, https://www.chronicle.com/article/Ethnic-Studies-Scholars-Hoped/246949


Migration

Meagan Flynn, “‘Clearly, he did not take part in our curriculum’: Historians bash Ken Cuccinelli’s revised Statue of Liberty poem,” Washington Post, August 14, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/08/14/ken-cuccinelli-statue-liberty-poor/


Recession

There is a third new blog entry entitled, “As a possible or probable recession looms, neoliberalism evades challenge. Yet again.

Damian Paletta, Thomas Heath, and Taylor Telford, “Stocks tank as another recession warning surfaces,” Washington Post, August 14, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/08/14/stocks-tank-another-recession-warning-surfaces/


Owned

Migration

There is a new blog post entitled, “Owning the libtards.”

Analysts say the public charge change [announced August 12] could dramatically reduce family-based legal immigration to the United States, particularly from Latin America and Africa, where incomes are generally lower than the rest of the world. It also could lead to an increase in deportations, as those present with some form of provisional or temporary immigration status in the United States are denied legal residency.[1]

Abigail Hauslohner et al., “Trump officials move to deny green cards, path to citizenship for poor immigrants,” Washington Post, August 12, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/trump-administration-aims-to-make-citizenship-more-difficult-for-immigrants-who-rely-on-public-assistance/2019/08/12/fe3f8162-b565-11e9-8949-5f36ff92706e_story.html

Public Broadcasting System, “Trump administration issues rules to deny green cards for immigrants on food stamps,” August 12, 2019, https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/new-rules-can-deny-green-cards-for-immigrants-on-food-stamps?fbclid=IwAR3ucMIKGcFP9nPmwyvnfib6SfsYY4zV0H-KFvoAEwaiOmgPkHbcLHJ5aOU

Devan Cole, “Cuccinelli rewrites Statue of Liberty poem to make case for limiting immigration,” CNN, August 13, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/13/politics/ken-cuccinelli-statue-of-liberty/index.html


Pittsburgh

Beaver County is getting a Royal Dutch Shell ethylene cracker plant. Because U.S. Steel’s pollution isn’t enough already.[2] And Donald Trump was here to celebrate claim credit for the plant which was announced in 2012.[3]

Do I need to say it? I mean, I get it. It’s been a long, long two and a half years. But Trump was inaugurated in 2017, five years after the plant was announced.[4]

Eric Heyl, “Trump Takes Credit For Plant Announced 5 Years Before Presidency,” Patch, August 13, 2019, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/gt5wi/trump-takes-credit-for-plant-announced-5-years-before-presidency

Eric Heyl, “Trump To Tour Shell Cracker Plant, Protesters Anticipated,” Patch, August 13, 2019, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/gt595/trump-to-tour-shell-cracker-plant-protesters-anticipated


Military

William Astore[5] inspired me to resurrect and update my adaptation of The History Guy’s “American Military History.”[6] My adaptation is in spreadsheet form and is intended to expose the number of calendar years without some sort of U.S. war. The total number remains sixteen; the longest interregnum remains eight. A limitation is that the History Guy uses 1890 as an ending date for the American Indian Wars;[7] some would dispute this. We have been in a continuous state of war (this includes the Cold War from 1945 through 1991) since 1941. The spreadsheet is now available via Google Sheets so I think anyone with a modern web browser (certainly Google Chrome) should be able to view it.

William J. Astore, “In Wars and Weapons We Trust: America’s Militarized Profession of Faith,” TomDispatch, August 13, 2019, http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176596/tomgram%3A_william_astore%2C_military_strength_is_our_national_religion/


My old high school

Carol Pogash, “San Francisco School Board May Save Controversial George Washington Mural,” New York Times, August 10, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/10/arts/san-francisco-murals.html


Jeffrey Epstein

As predicted,[8] heads are rolling at the Metropolitan Correctional Center,[9] presumably making the understaffing problem[10] there worse.

David Shortell, “Warden at prison where Epstein died is temporarily reassigned and staffers placed on leave,” CNN, August 13, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/13/politics/epstein-mcc-warden/index.html


Palestine

You didn’t really think Israel wants a two-state solution, did you? Apparently some U.S. lawmakers made that mistake when they authored and passed an anti-BDS (Boycott, Diversity and Sanction) bill.[11]

Gil Hoffman, “Israeli MKs to Congress: Thanks, but BDS bill ‘dangerous for
Israel,’” Jerusalem Post, August 12, 2019, https://www.jpost.com/American-Politics/Israeli-MKs-to-Congress-Thanks-but-BDS-bill-dangerous-for-Israel-598392

Michael Arria, “Israeli lawmakers to Congress: two-state solution far more dangerous to Israel than BDS,” Mondoweiss, August 13, 2019, https://mondoweiss.net/2019/08/lawmakers-congress-dangerous/


  1. [1]Abigail Hauslohner et al., “Trump officials move to deny green cards, path to citizenship for poor immigrants,” Washington Post, August 12, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/trump-administration-aims-to-make-citizenship-more-difficult-for-immigrants-who-rely-on-public-assistance/2019/08/12/fe3f8162-b565-11e9-8949-5f36ff92706e_story.html
  2. [2]Jessi Quinn Alperin, “Clairton, PA, wants to be clear: Residents demand accountability from U.S. Steel,” Environmental Health Network, May 13, 2019, https://www.ehn.org/clairton-coke-works-air-pollution-2636784943.html; Eric Heyl, “Trump To Tour Shell Cracker Plant, Protesters Anticipated,” Patch, August 13, 2019, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/gt595/trump-to-tour-shell-cracker-plant-protesters-anticipated; Kris Maher, “Pittsburgh Breathes Easier After Repairs at U.S. Steel Coke Plant,” Wall Street Journal, May 26, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pittsburgh-breathes-easier-after-repairs-at-u-s-steel-coke-plant-11558872000; Kris Maher, “U.S. Steel Suffers New Fire Knocking Out Pollution Controls in Plant Near Pittsburgh,” Wall Street Journal, June 17, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-steel-suffers-new-fire-knocking-out-pollution-controls-in-plant-near-pittsburgh-11560795102
  3. [3]Eric Heyl, “Trump Takes Credit For Plant Announced 5 Years Before Presidency,” Patch, August 13, 2019, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/gt5wi/trump-takes-credit-for-plant-announced-5-years-before-presidency; Eric Heyl, “Trump To Tour Shell Cracker Plant, Protesters Anticipated,” Patch, August 13, 2019, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/gt595/trump-to-tour-shell-cracker-plant-protesters-anticipated
  4. [4]Eric Heyl, “Trump Takes Credit For Plant Announced 5 Years Before Presidency,” Patch, August 13, 2019, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/gt5wi/trump-takes-credit-for-plant-announced-5-years-before-presidency
  5. [5]William J. Astore, “In Wars and Weapons We Trust: America’s Militarized Profession of Faith,” TomDispatch, August 13, 2019, http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176596/tomgram%3A_william_astore%2C_military_strength_is_our_national_religion/
  6. [6]The History Guy, “American Military History,” 2017, https://www.historyguy.com/american_military_history.html
  7. [7]The History Guy, “American Military History,” 2017, https://www.historyguy.com/american_military_history.html
  8. [8]David Benfell, “Jeffrey Epstein almost certainly committed suicide. Not that that will quiet the conspiracy clowns,” Irregular Bullshit, August 12, 2019, https://disunitedstates.com/2019/08/12/jeffrey-epstein-almost-certainly-committed-suicide-not-that-that-will-quiet-the-conspiracy-clowns/
  9. [9]David Shortell, “Warden at prison where Epstein died is temporarily reassigned and staffers placed on leave,” CNN, August 13, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/13/politics/epstein-mcc-warden/index.html
  10. [10]Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, “Corrections officers did not check on Epstein for ‘several’ hours before his death, violating protocol, person familiar with case says,” Washington Post, August 11, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/it-was-inevitable-officers-watching-epstein-were-on-overtime-due-to-jail-staffing-shortage-union-president-says/2019/08/11/2b611404-bc5e-11e9-a5c6-1e74f7ec4a93_story.html
  11. [11]Michael Arria, “Israeli lawmakers to Congress: two-state solution far more dangerous to Israel than BDS,” Mondoweiss, August 13, 2019, https://mondoweiss.net/2019/08/lawmakers-congress-dangerous/; Gil Hoffman, “Israeli MKs to Congress: Thanks, but BDS bill ‘dangerous for
    Israel,’” Jerusalem Post, August 12, 2019, https://www.jpost.com/American-Politics/Israeli-MKs-to-Congress-Thanks-but-BDS-bill-dangerous-for-Israel-598392

Jeffrey Epstein almost certainly committed suicide. Not that that will quiet the conspiracy clowns.

Jeffrey Epstein

Jeffrey Epstein’s death looks like suicide though the Federal Bureau of Investigation hasn’t completed its investigation.[1] But, as predicted:[2]

It’s not hard to find more tweets like this on Twitter. Last night I saw one offering to sell me snake oil if I believed it was suicide.

The hell of it is, the first three points in the tweet I quote above are confirmed, albeit in a context of severe understaffing,[3] which means that conspiracy theories surrounding Epstein’s death are better founded than most.

As to the fourth point, “while cameras are prevalent in the facility, [E. O. Young, the national president of the Council of Prison Locals C-33] did not believe they generally captured inmates’ cells.”[4] I’m honestly not sure what to think here: Prisons already dehumanize. Cameras peering into cells would effectively reproduce the panopticon, an especially dystopian form of prison, intensifying that dehumanization.

Meanwhile, William Barr is making clear that it will be the prison, “which long was considered to be among the best-run facilities in the Bureau of Prisons system,” that takes the blame for Epstein’s death,[5] saying “[w]e are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and demand a thorough investigation,”[6] though “[i]n congressional testimony earlier this year, . . . Barr conceded the bureau was ‘short’ about 4,000 or 5,000 employees and said he had lifted the hiring freeze and was trying to ensure a steady pipeline of new officers to replace those who leave.”[7]

Tom Winter, Doha Madani, and Alex Johnson, “After autopsy, cause of Jeffrey Epstein’s death awaits ‘further information;’” NBC News, August 11, 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/investigations/after-autopsy-cause-jeffrey-epstein-s-death-awaits-further-information-n1041216

Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, “Corrections officers did not check on Epstein for ‘several’ hours before his death, violating protocol, person familiar with case says,” Washington Post, August 11, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/it-was-inevitable-officers-watching-epstein-were-on-overtime-due-to-jail-staffing-shortage-union-president-says/2019/08/11/2b611404-bc5e-11e9-a5c6-1e74f7ec4a93_story.html

David Shortell and Evan Perez, “Barr cites ‘failure’ at NYC jail that held Epstein, says ‘co-conspirators’ should not rest easy,” CNN, August 12, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/12/politics/barr-new-york-jail-epstein/index.html


Brexit

It still looks like a hard Brexit.[8] Now, a report from the Institute for Government

said that while a majority of MPs appeared to oppose no deal, they would “need new tactics” to actually block it, given the lack of Brexit-related legislation on to which to tack amendments or new motions, unlike when Theresa May was seeking to pass her deal.

Simply passing motions opposing no deal would not be enough, the report argued, as Johnson’s government has indicated it will not be bound by these. Amending primary legislation would carry more weight, but this would depend on bills being brought to the Commons, which might not happen.

Even what the report called the “nuclear option” of a no-confidence vote against Johnson’s government might not block no deal, the report said, as Johnson could sit out the 14-day period dictated if he lost such a vote, even if a new government seemed viable.

The report said that if an election was called, given a five-week campaign period and a possible week needed to finish parliamentary business before dissolution, it would be very tight to arrange before 31 October.[9]

Which amounts to that the Institute doesn’t know how to stop a hard Brexit either. That’d be the question I asked before.[10] Thanks, Tories for being inexcusably absolute fucking idiots.[11]

Peter Walker, “MPs opposing no-deal Brexit will ‘need new tactics’, report says,” Guardian, August 11, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/11/mps-opposing-no-deal-brexit-will-need-new-tactics-report-says


Ridesharing

Rich Alton argues that since Uber and Lyft rides are essentially interchangeable, and therefore commodities, price is one of the few ways the two companies have to compete. This doesn’t go away with self-driving cars; instead, the temptation to engage in a new price war will, he believes, be irresistible, cutting the companies’ margins to approximately what they are today. They’re unprofitable today, therefore unprofitable even with self-driving cars tomorrow.[12]

I assume the companies would deflect this critique by pointing to their other businesses, things like bike and scooter rentals, and food delivery. But it seems to me that these are “commodities” in the way Alton uses the term as well: What difference whether GrubHub or Uber Eats, really? And even if these other lines are profitable—I haven’t heard one way or the other—if the ridesharing business is doomed to be unprofitable as Alton suggests, then why throw good money after bad by continuing to flog it?

The way one or the other of these companies survives is if one of them goes out of business first, allowing the other to raise prices and widen its margin. Right now, everything I’m seeing points to it being Uber that goes down first.[13] But only just:

[Uber] stock dropped 7.6% to $37.00, falling below its previous low of $37.10 on May 13. Since its debut on the public markets in May, Uber shares have shed about 18% of their value from the company’s IPO price of $45 per share.[14]

In contrast, “[s]hares of Lyft fell 4.9% on Monday.”[15]

But the murmurings of a recession are getting louder.[16] A panic, or even a sudden contagion of clear-sightedness, could take out both of them.

Rich Alton, “Basic economics means Uber and Lyft can’t rely on driverless cars to become profitable,” Marketwatch, August 12, 2019, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/basic-economics-means-uber-and-lyft-cant-rely-on-driverless-cars-to-become-profitable-2019-08-12


  1. [1]Tom Winter, Doha Madani, and Alex Johnson, “After autopsy, cause of Jeffrey Epstein’s death awaits ‘further information;’” NBC News, August 11, 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/investigations/after-autopsy-cause-jeffrey-epstein-s-death-awaits-further-information-n1041216
  2. [2]David Benfell, “Jeffrey Epstein is dead. Send in the conspiracy clowns,” Not Housebroken, August 11, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/11/jeffrey-epstein-is-dead-send-in-the-conspiracy-clowns/
  3. [3]Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, “Corrections officers did not check on Epstein for ‘several’ hours before his death, violating protocol, person familiar with case says,” Washington Post, August 11, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/it-was-inevitable-officers-watching-epstein-were-on-overtime-due-to-jail-staffing-shortage-union-president-says/2019/08/11/2b611404-bc5e-11e9-a5c6-1e74f7ec4a93_story.html
  4. [4]Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, “Corrections officers did not check on Epstein for ‘several’ hours before his death, violating protocol, person familiar with case says,” Washington Post, August 11, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/it-was-inevitable-officers-watching-epstein-were-on-overtime-due-to-jail-staffing-shortage-union-president-says/2019/08/11/2b611404-bc5e-11e9-a5c6-1e74f7ec4a93_story.html
  5. [5]David Shortell and Evan Perez, “Barr cites ‘failure’ at NYC jail that held Epstein, says ‘co-conspirators’ should not rest easy,” CNN, August 12, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/12/politics/barr-new-york-jail-epstein/index.html
  6. [6]William Barr, quoted in David Shortell and Evan Perez, “Barr cites ‘failure’ at NYC jail that held Epstein, says ‘co-conspirators’ should not rest easy,” CNN, August 12, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/12/politics/barr-new-york-jail-epstein/index.html
  7. [7]Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, “Corrections officers did not check on Epstein for ‘several’ hours before his death, violating protocol, person familiar with case says,” Washington Post, August 11, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/it-was-inevitable-officers-watching-epstein-were-on-overtime-due-to-jail-staffing-shortage-union-president-says/2019/08/11/2b611404-bc5e-11e9-a5c6-1e74f7ec4a93_story.html
  8. [8]David Benfell, “A bicycle on a steep downward slope towards a brick wall,” Not Housebroken, August 10, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/10/a-bicycle-on-a-steep-downward-slope-towards-a-brick-wall/
  9. [9]Peter Walker, “MPs opposing no-deal Brexit will ‘need new tactics’, report says,” Guardian, August 11, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/11/mps-opposing-no-deal-brexit-will-need-new-tactics-report-says
  10. [10]David Benfell, “Okay, so really now, assuming they choose to do so, how do the British avoid a hard Brexit?” Not Housebroken, July 26, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/26/okay-so-really-now-assuming-they-choose-to-do-so-how-do-the-british-avoid-a-hard-brexit/
  11. [11]David Benfell, “Boris Johnson might think he’s playing poker with the European Union, but he’s actually playing ‘chicken’—with a brick wall,” Not Housebroken, August 2, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/02/boris-johnson-might-think-hes-playing-poker-with-the-european-union-but-hes-actually-playing-chicken-with-a-brick-wall/; David Benfell, “Tories need their own island, well away from the European Union,” Not Housebroken, August 11, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/11/tories-need-their-own-island-well-away-from-the-european-union/
  12. [12]Rich Alton, “Basic economics means Uber and Lyft can’t rely on driverless cars to become profitable,” Marketwatch, August 12, 2019, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/basic-economics-means-uber-and-lyft-cant-rely-on-driverless-cars-to-become-profitable-2019-08-12
  13. [13]David Benfell, “Watching the ridesharing shit go down the toilet,” Not Housebroken, July 30, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/30/watching-the-ridesharing-shit-go-down-the-toilet/; David Benfell, “Uber appears to be going down,” Not Housebroken, August 11, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/11/uber-appears-to-be-going-down/
  14. [14]Annie Palmer, “Uber falls to all-time low as investors grow more skeptical,” CNBC, August 12, 2019, https://www.cnbc.com/2019/08/12/uber-stock-falls-to-all-time-low-as-investors-grow-more-skeptical.html
  15. [15]Annie Palmer, “Uber falls to all-time low as investors grow more skeptical,” CNBC, August 12, 2019, https://www.cnbc.com/2019/08/12/uber-stock-falls-to-all-time-low-as-investors-grow-more-skeptical.html
  16. [16]David Benfell, “Forsaken,” Irregular Bullshit, August 9, 2019, https://disunitedstates.com/2019/08/09/forsaken/; John Kemp, “Global economy is probably in recession,” Reuters, August 7, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-global-economy-kemp/column-global-economy-is-probably-in-recession-idUKKCN1UX1OF

Uber going down

Ridesharing

There is a new blog post entitled, “Uber appears to be going down.”

Timothy B. Lee, “Uber, losing billions, freezes engineering hires,” Ars Technica, August 9, 2019, https://arstechnica.com/cars/2019/08/uber-freezes-engineering-hires-amid-mounting-losses/


Jeffrey Epstein

There is another new blog post entitled “Jeffrey Epstein is dead. Send in the conspiracy clowns.

Morgan Krakow, Hannah Knowles, and Marisa Iati, “‘We need answers. Lots of them.’ What’s known and what’s next after Jeffrey Epstein’s death,” Washington Post, August 10, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/08/10/we-need-answers-lots-them-whats-known-whats-next-after-jeffrey-epsteins-death/

Matt Zapotosky et al., “Jeffrey Epstein dead after ‘apparent suicide’ in New York,” Washington Post, August 10, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/jeffrey-epstein-kills-himself-in-jail-according-to-media-reports/2019/08/10/a3d48862-bb73-11e9-b3b4-2bb69e8c4e39_story.html

Jeremy Diamond, “Trump promotes Epstein-Clintons conspiracy theory, the latest in a pattern of baseless claims spread by President,” CNN, August 11, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/11/politics/jeffrey-epstein-trump-conspiracy-theory-clintons/index.html


Brexit

There is yet another new blog post entitled, “Tories need their own island, well away from the European Union.”

Michael Savage and Daniel Boffey, “No-deal Brexit spells calamity for union, warns Gordon Brown,” Guardian, August 10, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/10/gordon-brown-says-no-deal-brexit-would-be-calamity-for-united-kingdom


A bicycle and a brick wall: collision imminent, collateral damage uncertain.

Brexit

There is a new blog entry entitled, “A bicycle on a steep downward slope towards a brick wall.”

Christopher Hope and Harry Yorke, “Buckingham Palace and Downing Street plan to keep the Queen out of looming constitutional crisis over Brexit,” Telegraph, August 9, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/08/09/buckingham-palace-downing-street-plan-keep-queen-looming-constitutional/


Guns

There is another new blog post entitled, “They’re taking our guns away!

Bob Bauder, “Pittsburgh mayor Peduto, state lawmakers call for vote on Pa. gun bills,” TribLive, August 9, 2019, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/peduto-state-lawmakers-call-for-vote-on-gun-bills/


Recession

At Reuters, John Kemp thinks we are probably already in a recession.[1] The trick to this is that he might be right but it will be a while before we know because the statistics that are used to call a recession are retrospective. It took nearly a year in the U.S. for the National Bureau of Economic Research to declare the 2008-2009 recession[2] that had already by that time long been apparent, and over a year to declare its end.[3] To my knowledge, there’s no reason such a declaration should be any more timely this time.

Kemp blames the trade war,[4] but really, there’s no reason it has to be only one thing and all those other factors I listed yesterday remain in play.[5]

John Kemp, “Global economy is probably in recession,” Reuters, August 7, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-global-economy-kemp/column-global-economy-is-probably-in-recession-idUKKCN1UX1OF


  1. [1]John Kemp, “Global economy is probably in recession,” Reuters, August 7, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-global-economy-kemp/column-global-economy-is-probably-in-recession-idUKKCN1UX1OF
  2. [2]Business Cycle Dating Committee, December 11, 2008, “http://www.nber.org/cycles/dec2008.html” target=”_blank”>http://www.nber.org/cycles/dec2008.html
  3. [3]Business Cycle Dating Committee, September 20, 2010, http://www.nber.org/cycles/sept2010.html
  4. [4]John Kemp, “Global economy is probably in recession,” Reuters, August 7, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-global-economy-kemp/column-global-economy-is-probably-in-recession-idUKKCN1UX1OF
  5. [5]The factors I listed include a tech bubble, Donald Trump’s trade war against China, Brexit, a housing bubble (yes, again, but apparently not so much in the U.S.), an idea that what has been going up for so long must surely come down (we are unlikely to have eliminated the “economic cycle”), and that the Federal Reserve has limited options to deal with a downturn in David Benfell, “Forsaken,” Irregular Bullshit, August 9, 2019, https://disunitedstates.com/2019/08/09/forsaken/

Forsaken

I think my grandfather would have been furious.

Don’t get me wrong. I remember him as a generous man. He would have dug in his wallet and ponied up.

But I was stunned today when a firefighter was walking between the lanes holding a boot. He was raising funds. Begging on the street.

I’m already irritated that so many firefighters are volunteers. They provide an essential service. They should be paid.

In California, I’d gotten used to seeing pancake breakfasts to raise funds for volunteer fire departments. Frankly, I saw them not only as fundraising efforts but as community get-togethers. I didn’t attend because I was vegan, but I saw them as a way for firefighters to connect with the communities they serve. These I felt I could respect.

But here, volunteer fire companies (they’re not called departments here, but companies) have to beg on the streets.

I’m horrified. And I can’t imagine my grandfather approving.


Poverty

I gather that Newstart is an important part of Australia’s neoliberalized social safety net. I see it’s been attracting some controversy lately for its paucity, its sheer meanness.

Brigid Delaney writes about going from a well-paid position to Newstart.[1] She didn’t like it. Note that the dollar amounts in the following will be in Australian dollars, which are worth considerably less (as I write this, Google says 0.68) than U.S. dollars:

One of the most isolating things about being on Newstart was being priced out of my social group. Before I lost my job I was earning $100,000. After on Newstart and bits and pieces, it was around $27,000. I wore rich person’s clothes while walking everywhere because I couldn’t afford the tram.[2]

Delaney was, nonetheless, fortunate. Her friends helped her get a job within six months. And now, she writes for the Guardian.[3]

But that’s Australia, where people apparently still recognize the humanity in their fellow human beings. Where mistreatment of human beings, as on Manus Island, remains controversial.

In the U.S., I was not so lucky even though I had friends who were making much more[4] than Delaney when she found herself on the wrong side of a line between even reasonable prosperity and poverty:[5]

The line is the thing that separates those with good financial padding, who might not think much about the $30 taxi or the unexpected bill, or $70 meal in a restaurant or putting a round of drinks on their cards – and those who are fearful when the bill comes, when the groceries are rung up, when opening the mail. On the other side of that line there are no shock absorbers. And of course, the journey is more jarring and perilous.[6]

My human rights continue to be violated, in effect denying that I am even human.[7] And my friends really were indifferent. Which is why I remain furious with them,[8] over two years now since I begged them for help.

They couldn’t even be bothered to read that I wasn’t just asking for a job per se but rather for help making sense of where I am, what I have accomplished—a Ph.D. for crying out loud—and then a job.[9] I still desperately need that help.

They dared to tell me after sixteen years of failure, after having returned to school, finished a B.A., an M.A., and a Ph.D., that “[applying] doesn’t work until it does.”[10] Sixteen fucking years. Now over eighteen.

Yes, you could have raised a kid in the time since I last had a real job.

I can’t care about their excuses. I can’t care about anyone’s excuses. I especially can’t care about politicians’ excuses. Excuses don’t pay the rent. Excuses don’t pay the bills. What they are excusing themselves from is the responsibility we all share as human beings of compassion and care for our fellows.

Posting on Facebook and Twitter about how social injustice is wrong, how politicians are derelict, and especially about how, if only we could elect a Democrat to the presidency (they have forgotten Barack Obama already), doesn’t pay the bills either. I needed, and still need, real, substantive action. They refused.

As evil as Donald Trump is—I see him as comparable to Adolf Hitler[11]—what the Democratic Party does with its likely nomination of Joe Biden is compel me to choose between the authoritarian populist fascist and the neoliberal fascist. I cannot support neoliberalism, which makes it extremely unlikely I can support the Democratic Party (the neoliberal party) in 2020. Because their political gains have come at the expense of the poor,[12] including me.

I have updated my ethics page largely based on Jason Hickel’s article, adding to the corpus that, intellectually, utterly discredits neoliberalism.[13]

Jason Hickel, “Progress and its discontents,” New Internationalist, August 7, 2019, https://newint.org/features/2019/07/01/long-read-progress-and-its-discontents

Brigid Delaney, “I was poor while all of my friends were rich – the hardest part was the lack of freedom,” Guardian, August 8, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/09/i-was-poor-while-all-of-my-friends-were-rich-the-hardest-part-was-the-lack-of-freedom


Brexit

British businesses appear not to be buying Boris Johnson’s bullshit.[14]

Tim Wallace, “‘Very real’ recession risk as economy contracts for first time in seven years,” Telegraph, August 9, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/08/09/recession-risk-now-real-economy-contracts-first-time-seven-years/


Recession

The Sydney Morning Herald is full of economic gloom lately. Yes, it’s an Australian paper but it’s talking about the global economy:

A number of experts have also shuddered as the most dreaded four words in investing start cropping up in conversation: “this time is different”.

In his recent memo to clients with those four words as its heading, [Howard] Marks noted that in the world of investing, perception often swings from the polar extremes of ‘flawless’ to ‘hopeless’ with little time spent in the happy medium.

“Widespread attaching of ‘the four words’ to bullish propositions suggests that the environment is being perceived as flawless. When and if that swings to hopeless, the result is pain for investors.”[15]

If, as some suggest,[16] we are indeed in another tech bubble, you can just about take it to the bank that Uber, whose spin disappointed,[17] will be taken out when it pops. And Lyft, whose spin met with approval,[18] is on thin ice.

Donald Trump is standing next to the bubble, if it is indeed a bubble, with a pin. Investors are already nervous about the trade war[19] he stupidly pursues against China.[20] Then there’s fucking Brexit.[21] Then there’s just the fact that this economic so-called ‘expansion’ has gone on for so long and that the Federal Reserve doesn’t have much stimulus left in its bag of tricks.[22] Oh, and looky here: Another—are you fucking kidding me?—potential housing crash. Not so much in the U.S. apparently, but “house prices in China, Canada, Australia, the UK and large swathes of Europe and Asia are far higher than before the financial crisis, building up serious risks, according to economists at IHS Markit.”[23]

It just wouldn’t take much.

Tim Wallace, “World economy faces a risk that’s far bigger than Trump’s trade war,” Sydney Morning Herald, August 9, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/world-economy-faces-a-risk-that-s-far-bigger-than-trump-s-trade-war-20190809-p52ffs.html

Colin Kruger, “‘Insane levels’: Can a world where profitless companies are flying last?” Sydney Morning Herald, August 10, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/insane-levels-can-a-world-where-profitless-companies-are-flying-last-20190808-p52f3d.html


  1. [1]Brigid Delaney, “I was poor while all of my friends were rich – the hardest part was the lack of freedom,” Guardian, August 8, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/09/i-was-poor-while-all-of-my-friends-were-rich-the-hardest-part-was-the-lack-of-freedom
  2. [2]Brigid Delaney, “I was poor while all of my friends were rich – the hardest part was the lack of freedom,” Guardian, August 8, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/09/i-was-poor-while-all-of-my-friends-were-rich-the-hardest-part-was-the-lack-of-freedom
  3. [3]Brigid Delaney, “I was poor while all of my friends were rich – the hardest part was the lack of freedom,” Guardian, August 8, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/09/i-was-poor-while-all-of-my-friends-were-rich-the-hardest-part-was-the-lack-of-freedom
  4. [4]David Benfell, “To my friends,” Not Housebroken, April 7, 2017, https://disunitedstates.org/2017/04/01/to-my-friends/
  5. [5]Brigid Delaney, “I was poor while all of my friends were rich – the hardest part was the lack of freedom,” Guardian, August 8, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/09/i-was-poor-while-all-of-my-friends-were-rich-the-hardest-part-was-the-lack-of-freedom
  6. [6]Brigid Delaney, “I was poor while all of my friends were rich – the hardest part was the lack of freedom,” Guardian, August 8, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/09/i-was-poor-while-all-of-my-friends-were-rich-the-hardest-part-was-the-lack-of-freedom
  7. [7]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  8. [8]David Benfell, “To my friends,” Not Housebroken, April 7, 2017, https://disunitedstates.org/2017/04/01/to-my-friends/
  9. [9]David Benfell, “To my friends,” Not Housebroken, April 7, 2017, https://disunitedstates.org/2017/04/01/to-my-friends/
  10. [10]David Benfell, “To my friends,” Not Housebroken, April 7, 2017, https://disunitedstates.org/2017/04/01/to-my-friends/
  11. [11]David Benfell, “Heil Trump,” Not Housebroken, July 24, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/22/heil-trump/
  12. [12]Peter Edelman, “The Worst Thing Bill Clinton Has Done,” Atlantic, March, 1997, http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/97mar/edelman/edelman.htm; Herbert J. Gans, The War Against The Poor: The Underclass And Antipoverty Policy (New York: Basic, 1995); Alana Semuels, “The End of Welfare as We Know It,” Atlantic, April 1, 2016, http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/04/the-end-of-welfare-as-we-know-it/476322/
  13. [13]Mark Blyth, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford, UK: Oxford University, 2013); Jason Hickel, “Progress and its discontents,” New Internationalist, August 7, 2019, https://newint.org/features/2019/07/01/long-read-progress-and-its-discontents; Daniel Stedman Jones, Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University, 2012); Robert Kuttner, “Austerity never works: Deficit hawks are amoral — and wrong,” Salon, May 5, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/05/05/austerity_never_works_deficit_hawks_are_amoral_and_wrong/; Dennis Loo, Globalization and the Demolition of Society (Glendale, CA: Larkmead, 2011); Thomas Piketty, Jeffrey Sachs, Heiner Flassbeck, Dani Rodrik and Simon Wren-Lewis, “Austerity Has Failed: An Open Letter From Thomas Piketty to Angela Merkel,” Nation, July 6, 2015, http://www.thenation.com/article/austerity-has-failed-an-open-letter-from-thomas-piketty-to-angela-merkel/; John Quiggin, “Austerity Has Been Tested, and It Failed,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 20, 2013, http://chronicle.com/article/Austerity-Has-Been-Tested-and/139255/; David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, “How Austerity Kills,” New York Times, May 12, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/13/opinion/how-austerity-kills.html; David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, “Paul Krugman’s right: Austerity kills,” Salon, May 19, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/05/19/paul_krugmans_right_austerity_kills/
  14. [14]Tim Wallace, “‘Very real’ recession risk as economy contracts for first time in seven years,” Telegraph, August 9, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/08/09/recession-risk-now-real-economy-contracts-first-time-seven-years/
  15. [15]Colin Kruger, “‘Insane levels’: Can a world where profitless companies are flying last?” Sydney Morning Herald, August 10, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/insane-levels-can-a-world-where-profitless-companies-are-flying-last-20190808-p52f3d.html
  16. [16]Colin Kruger, “‘Insane levels’: Can a world where profitless companies are flying last?” Sydney Morning Herald, August 10, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/insane-levels-can-a-world-where-profitless-companies-are-flying-last-20190808-p52f3d.html
  17. [17]Eliot Brown, “Uber Posts Its Largest Quarterly Loss,” Wall Street Journal, August 8, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-posts-its-largest-ever-quarterly-loss-11565295373
  18. [18]Eliot Brown, “Lyft Raises 2019 Revenue Outlook and Sees Smaller Annual Loss,” Wall Street Journal, August 7, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lyfts-raises-2019-revenue-outlook-and-sees-smaller-annual-loss-11565208387
  19. [19]Colin Kruger, “‘Insane levels’: Can a world where profitless companies are flying last?” Sydney Morning Herald, August 10, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/insane-levels-can-a-world-where-profitless-companies-are-flying-last-20190808-p52f3d.html
  20. [20]Stephen Bartholomeusz, “Trump is escalating a trade war he isn’t winning,” Sydney Morning Herald, August 5, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/trump-is-escalating-a-trade-war-he-isn-t-winning-20190805-p52dxf.html
  21. [21]Tim Wallace, “‘Very real’ recession risk as economy contracts for first time in seven years,” Telegraph, August 9, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/08/09/recession-risk-now-real-economy-contracts-first-time-seven-years/
  22. [22]Jon Hilsenrath, “After Record-Long Expansion, Here’s What Could Knock the Economy Off Course,” Wall Street Journal, June 3, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/after-record-long-expansion-heres-what-could-knock-the-economy-off-course-11559591043
  23. [23]Tim Wallace, “World economy faces a risk that’s far bigger than Trump’s trade war,” Sydney Morning Herald, August 9, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/world-economy-faces-a-risk-that-s-far-bigger-than-trump-s-trade-war-20190809-p52ffs.html

Secession, some of it mad and entirely too plausible, some of it maybe not so mad and entirely too implausible

Brexit

It would be difficult at best. Success is far from assured. There are paths the British Parliament could take to stop a hard Brexit.[1] But Brexit remains the legal default[2] and Boris Johnson continues pedaling his bicycle at a brick wall.[3] I don’t know enough about the British system to say how plausible the possibilities Oliver Wright lays out are. But if I draw a correct sense from his writing, he doesn’t seem all that optimistic himself.

Oliver Wright, “Could Brexit rebels scupper conference season?” Times, August 8, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/could-brexit-rebels-scupper-conference-season-q7hqdh9w0


Secession

It is very often the case that people backing secession feel disenfranchised. In this case, it’s the rest of Illinois by Chicago.[4]

But other parts of the story also sound familiar, at least to somebody who lived in California almost all his life. The parts that want to secede, or as they put it, push Chicago into its own state, feel they aren’t getting a fair slice of the fiscal pie. They are conservative and don’t like the ‘liberal’ (as in whatever I’m against) politics and policies that dominate the entire state. They think they’d be better off without Chicago,[5] just as secessionists in the Jefferson movement feel they’d be better off without the rest of California.

Cindy Dampier, “Meet the people working to kick Chicago out of Illinois,” Chicago Tribune, August 1, 2019, https://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/ct-life-illinois-state-secession-movement-0801-20190801-iesnu74ogvfjxfk35sn72lq7ya-story.html


Ridesharing

Both Uber and Lyft are still bleeding money like there’s no tomorrow. The difference looks to me to be in the spin: Uber, a much larger company, negative;[6] Lyft, a much smaller company, positive.[7] (So don’t just compare the aggregate numbers.)

I guess it’s all in whose bullshit you believe.

Eliot Brown, “Lyft Raises 2019 Revenue Outlook and Sees Smaller Annual Loss,” Wall Street Journal, August 7, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lyfts-raises-2019-revenue-outlook-and-sees-smaller-annual-loss-11565208387

Eliot Brown, “Uber Posts Its Largest Quarterly Loss,” Wall Street Journal, August 8, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-posts-its-largest-ever-quarterly-loss-11565295373


  1. [1]Oliver Wright, “Could Brexit rebels scupper conference season?” Times, August 8, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/could-brexit-rebels-scupper-conference-season-q7hqdh9w0
  2. [2]Jack Maidment, “Brexit latest news: Theresa May’s deal defeated again by 58 votes – PM hints at general election to break deadlock,” Telegraph, March 29, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/03/29/brexit-latest-news-theresa-may-final-push-mps-prepare-vote-withdrawal/; Peter Walker, “Could parliament’s latest amendment stop no-deal Brexit?” Guardian, July 18, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/18/could-parliaments-latest-amendment-stop-no-deal-brexit; Josh Wilson, “No-deal Brexit odds: Latest predictions on leaving the EU without a deal,” Telegraph, August 2, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/0/no-deal-brexit-odds-latest-predictions-leaving-eu-without-deal/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Boris Johnson might think he’s playing poker with the European Union, but he’s actually playing ‘chicken’—with a brick wall,” Not Housebroken, August 2, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/02/boris-johnson-might-think-hes-playing-poker-with-the-european-union-but-hes-actually-playing-chicken-with-a-brick-wall/; Edward Malnick, “Dominic Cummings tells MPs: you’ve missed your chance to stop no-deal Brexit,” Telegraph, August 3, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/08/03/dominic-cummings-tells-mps-missed-chance-stop-no-deal-brexit/; Oliver Wright, “Could Brexit rebels scupper conference season?” Times, August 8, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/could-brexit-rebels-scupper-conference-season-q7hqdh9w0
  4. [4]Cindy Dampier, “Meet the people working to kick Chicago out of Illinois,” Chicago Tribune, August 1, 2019, https://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/ct-life-illinois-state-secession-movement-0801-20190801-iesnu74ogvfjxfk35sn72lq7ya-story.html
  5. [5]Cindy Dampier, “Meet the people working to kick Chicago out of Illinois,” Chicago Tribune, August 1, 2019, https://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/ct-life-illinois-state-secession-movement-0801-20190801-iesnu74ogvfjxfk35sn72lq7ya-story.html
  6. [6]Eliot Brown, “Uber Posts Its Largest Quarterly Loss,” Wall Street Journal, August 8, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-posts-its-largest-ever-quarterly-loss-11565295373
  7. [7]Eliot Brown, “Lyft Raises 2019 Revenue Outlook and Sees Smaller Annual Loss,” Wall Street Journal, August 7, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lyfts-raises-2019-revenue-outlook-and-sees-smaller-annual-loss-11565208387

The weather, it is a-changing

I know the weather has changed in California. The wildfires there now are unlike anything we had before. And to hear many people talk, a few recent years of relatively normal rainfall might as well have been Noah’s Flood. Their disorientation is understandable: California has suffered many more dry years than wet during my entire adult life.

I’m starting to hear that the weather is indeed also different in Pittsburgh. Summers are wetter and winters are less cool, a passenger told me yesterday. She blamed climate change for Dutch Elm disease (trees are more vulnerable when stressed, including by climate change) and lightning (presumably from severe storms that could be more common as a result of climate change) that had killed some trees around her driveway. She is blind, but she could feel the difference in the pavement: It was cool before; now it is hot. She also conflated the issue of fracking-induced earthquakes. But she’s a believer in the climate crisis.

By the way, she identifies herself as a conservative—I couldn’t identify what tendenc[y|ies]. As I’ve mulled it over, my initial, so-preliminary-that-I-probably-shouldn’t-say-it guess would be traditionalist.

Solastalgia describes the feeling of distress caused by environmental change, and it was coined by Australian environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht. “It was important to give that feeling a name because it was missing from our language,” Albrecht says from his small farm in Australia’s Hunter Valley region in the eastern state of New South Wales.[1]

It’s hard for me to address the weather difference here in Pittsburgh from my own experience. I lived here for a couple years as a kid and my memories from fifty years ago are hazy.

But the pattern I don’t much remember but have seen a lot so far this year has been of a rapid increase in temperature and humidity, followed by rain or thunderstorms. The latter bring some relief, but the temperature rises again following them. This has been happening a lot, even on days when the forecast calls for a relatively low chance of rain.

I do remember walking to the Mount Lebanon swimming pool as a kid. I’m pretty sure I had a bicycle but with the hills around here, it’d have been easier just to walk. People still go to swimming pools, sometimes taking a Lyft to do so. And I see them in the Dormont pool which is visible from McFarland Road (between Beverly Road and Banksville Road).

But it’s kind of hard for me to imagine doing that now; the chance of thunderstorms seems much higher than the forecasts ever indicate. Though there are a number of massive antennae about that I’m pretty sure also serve as lightning rods, a swimming pool is not a wise place to be during such a storm.

I’ve taken to watching the cumulus clouds as I drive around. It seems like they’re here every day. When even only some turn dark, it seems I can be sure that some precipitation is coming, even if it’s only a few big fat drops on my windshield.


Trade

But Donald Trump is a “master of negotiation.” Brilliant. Absolutely fucking brilliant.

Stephen Bartholomeusz, “Trump is escalating a trade war he isn’t winning,” Sydney Morning Herald, August 5, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/trump-is-escalating-a-trade-war-he-isn-t-winning-20190805-p52dxf.html


Ridesharing

This[2] adds to the pile.[3]

Laura Bliss, “How Much Traffic Do Uber and Lyft Cause?” CityLab, August 5, 2019, https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2019/08/uber-lyft-traffic-congestion-ride-hailing-cities-drivers-vmt/595393/


Migration

2019-8-5-libya-security-migrants
This is a refugee camp. Image by Ismail Zitouny on July 3, 2019, via Public Radio International.[4]

James Reinl, “Libya’s hellish refugee centers remain open despite calls for closure,” Public Radio International, August 6, 2019, https://www.pri.org/stories/2019-08-06/libyas-hellish-refugee-centers-remain-open-despite-calls-closure


Kashmir

One has to take pronouncements, such as this one about the possibilities of war and ethnic cleansing,[5] by Pakistani politicians with a grain of salt. I have noticed a tendency towards hyperbole. But there is absolutely zero up-side to India’s move to revoke Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status.[6] Zero. None. Nada. The risks of a conflagration between these two nuclear-armed countries are considerable and it is entirely worthwhile to wonder what India’s intentions are.

Diaa Hadid, Scott Neuman, and Abdul Sattar, “Pakistan Warns Of War After India’s Move To End Kashmir’s Special Status,” National Public Radio, August 7, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/08/07/748957876/pakistan-warns-indias-move-to-end-kashmir-s-special-status-could-lead-to-war


Brexit

I’ve heard about the difficulties of re-erecting a hard Irish border, as would be required in a “no deal” scenario,[7] in the abstract. But here they are in a damning first person account.[8]

Séamas O’Reilly, “Hard Brexiters’ stance on the Irish border is nonsense – I can tell you, I grew up there,” Guardian, August 7, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/07/northern-ireland-hard-border-brexit-customs


Royalty

I’m an anarchist, remember? Which probably should mean I would prefer a republic to a monarchy. Both are authoritarian, but the republic at least has some representation. Which isn’t real democracy and falls a long ways short of what’s actually needed but is at least something.

Here’s someone pointing out, with some considerable justification, however, that British royalty is making a hell of a lot more sense than British politicians.[9] This is the part I really like:

It is typical of the age that anyone allying themselves with an optimistic vision – what if we could avert climate catastrophe? What if we stamped out prejudice? – is immediately greeted with this kind of ire. The mean-spirited arguments are constructed on a foundation of bad faith. Only the underprivileged can talk about privilege; only the excluded can talk about bigotry; only the monk can talk about consumption. The ploy is quite clear: virtually nobody counts as quite deprived enough to have ambitions for a better world, so everybody should just pipe down.[10]

Ouch. There remains the issue of speaking for others, but if you read to the end of her chapter, which a certain professor emeritus I know of might never actually have done, Linda Alcott explains that those of us with some privilege should speak on behalf of others, but in consultation and cooperation with them.[11] Ouch anyway.

Zoe Williams, “I never thought I’d see the royal family as a beacon of hope,” August 7, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/07/post-referendum-britain-royals-progressive-meghan-markle


Police

I wanted to put a line in my blog post yesterday, “Of course the cops don’t care about white supremacism,” about people of color being more likely to be shot by police.

A quick search indicated that might be wrong and it seems the story remains unclear. Brentin Mock goes into all this in some detail.[12]

Brentin Mock, “What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings,” CityLab, August 6, 2019, https://www.citylab.com/equity/2019/08/police-officer-shootings-gun-violence-racial-bias-crime-data/595528/


  1. [1]Will Higginbotham, “Are You Climate Homesick? He’s Got a Word for That,” Ozy, July 26, 2019, https://www.ozy.com/rising-stars/are-you-climate-homesick-hes-got-a-word-for-that/95504
  2. [2]Laura Bliss, “How Much Traffic Do Uber and Lyft Cause?” CityLab, August 5, 2019, https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2019/08/uber-lyft-traffic-congestion-ride-hailing-cities-drivers-vmt/595393/
  3. [3]Emily Badger, “Is Uber Helping or Hurting Mass Transit?” New York Times, October 16, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/16/upshot/is-uber-helping-or-hurting-mass-transit.html; Katie Dowd, “Why is San Francisco traffic so bad? Uber and Lyft are to blame, says city,” SFGate, December 13, 2016, http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/San-Francisco-traffic-Uber-Lyft-SFMTA-blame-10791265.php; Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, “SFPD: Uber, Lyft account for two-thirds of congestion-related traffic violations downtown,” San Francisco Examiner, September 25, 2017, http://www.sfexaminer.com/sfpd-uber-lyft-account-two-thirds-congestion-related-traffic-violations-downtown/; Nikil Saval, “Uber and the Ongoing Erasure of Public Life,” New Yorker, February 19, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/culture/dept-of-design/uber-and-the-ongoing-erasure-of-public-life; Faiz Siddiqui, “A new study says services like UberPool are making traffic worse,” Washington Post, July 25, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dr-gridlock/wp/2018/07/25/a-new-study-says-services-like-uberpool-are-making-traffic-worse/; Heather Somerville, “San Francisco investigating whether Uber, Lyft are public nuisances,” Reuters, June 5, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-san-francisco-rideservices-idUSKBN18W2F3 See also David Benfell, “San Francisco’s war on Uber and Lyft drivers,” Not Housebroken, September 27, 2017, https://disunitedstates.org/2017/09/27/san-franciscos-war-on-uber-and-lyft-drivers/
  4. [4]James Reinl, “Libya’s hellish refugee centers remain open despite calls for closure,” Public Radio International, August 6, 2019, https://www.pri.org/stories/2019-08-06/libyas-hellish-refugee-centers-remain-open-despite-calls-closure
  5. [5]Diaa Hadid, Scott Neuman, and Abdul Sattar, “Pakistan Warns Of War After India’s Move To End Kashmir’s Special Status,” National Public Radio, August 7, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/08/07/748957876/pakistan-warns-indias-move-to-end-kashmir-s-special-status-could-lead-to-war
  6. [6]Niha Masih, “India revokes special status of Kashmir, putting tense region on edge,” Washington Post, August 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/india-revokes-special-status-of-kashmir-putting-tense-region-on-edge/2019/08/05/2232fcd0-b740-11e9-8e83-4e6687e99814_story.html
  7. [7]Karla Adam and William Booth, “Could Boris Johnson’s ‘no-deal’ Brexit break up the United Kingdom?” Washington Post, July 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/could-boris-johnsons-no-deal-brexit-crack-up-the-united-kingdom/2019/07/29/b871ebac-b1e6-11e9-acc8-1d847bacca73_story.html; Daniel Boffey, “However you look at it, the logic of a Brexit backstop refuses to yield,” Guardian, June 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/24/however-look-logic-brexit-backstop-refuses-to-yield-irish; British Broadcasting Corporation, “Irish deputy PM Coveney: No deal Brexit would mean customs checks in Ireland,” July 21, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-politics-49062367/irish-deputy-pm-coveney-no-deal-brexit-would-mean-customs-checks-in-ireland; Amanda Ferguson and William Booth, “Northern Ireland’s politicians don’t agree on much. Except that Boris Johnson’s no-deal Brexit would be a disaster,” Washington Post, July 31, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/northern-irelands-politicians-dont-agree-on-much-except-that-boris-johnsons-no-deal-brexit-would-be-a-disaster/2019/07/31/c209affa-b2eb-11e9-acc8-1d847bacca73_story.html; Peter Foster and Camilla Tominey, “Boris Johnson warned that ‘no deal’ Brexit will require return of ‘direct rule’ in Northern Ireland,” Telegraph, July 26, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/07/26/boris-johnson-warned-no-deal-brexit-will-require-return-direct/; Conor Humphries, “Irish PM says hard Brexit would raise issue of Irish unification,” Telegraph, July 27, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu-ireland-nireland-idUSKCN1UL280
  8. [8]Séamas O’Reilly, “Hard Brexiters’ stance on the Irish border is nonsense – I can tell you, I grew up there,” Guardian, August 7, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/07/northern-ireland-hard-border-brexit-customs
  9. [9]Zoe Williams, “I never thought I’d see the royal family as a beacon of hope,” August 7, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/07/post-referendum-britain-royals-progressive-meghan-markle
  10. [10]Zoe Williams, “I never thought I’d see the royal family as a beacon of hope,” August 7, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/07/post-referendum-britain-royals-progressive-meghan-markle
  11. [11]Linda Martín Alcott, “The Problem of Speaking for Others,” in Who Can Speak? Authority and Critical Identity, Judith Roof and Robyn Wiegman, eds. (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois, 1995), 97-119.
  12. [12]Brentin Mock, “What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings,” CityLab, August 6, 2019, https://www.citylab.com/equity/2019/08/police-officer-shootings-gun-violence-racial-bias-crime-data/595528/

The domestic and international war on the poor

Venezuela

There is a new blog post entitled, “The U.S. war on the poor in Venezuela and media complicity

Felicia Sonmez, Karen DeYoung, and Anthony Faiola, “Trump signs executive order freezing Venezuelan assets, ramping up pressure on Maduro,” Washington Post, August 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-signs-executive-order-freezing-venezuelan-assets-ramping-up-pressure-on-maduro/2019/08/05/cd85d44e-b7eb-11e9-b3b4-2bb69e8c4e39_story.html


Brexit

Daniel Boffey and Rowena Mason, “Boris Johnson has no intention of renegotiating Brexit deal, EU told,” Guardian, August 5, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/05/no-deal-brexit-is-boris-johnsons-central-scenario-eu-told


Domestic terrorism

There is another new blog post entitled, “Of course the cops don’t care about white supremacism.”

Devlin Barrett, “FBI faces skepticism over its efforts against domestic terrorism,” Washington Post, August 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/fbi-faces-skepticism-over-its-anti-domestic-terror-efforts/2019/08/04/c9c928bc-b6e0-11e9-b3b4-2bb69e8c4e39_story.html


Water

FireShot Capture 055 - Mapping the strain on our water supply - The Washington Post_ - www.washingtonpost.com
California’s Central Valley is a major agricultural region. Many of the high water stress areas indicated in this map, produced from World Resources Institute data and published by the Washington Post,[1] are in the Central Valley. Note also Nebraska, famous for corn.

Bonnie Berkowitz and Adrian Blanco, “Mapping the strain on our water,” Washington Post, August 6, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2019/08/06/mapping-strain-our-water/


  1. [1]Bonnie Berkowitz and Adrian Blanco, “Mapping the strain on our water,” Washington Post, August 6, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2019/08/06/mapping-strain-our-water/

‘Masters’ of negotiation

Iran

There is a new blog post entitled, “War with Iran may be inevitable.”

International Crisis Group, “Averting the Middle East’s 1914 Moment,” August 1, 2019, https://www.crisisgroup.org/middle-east-north-africa/gulf-and-arabian-peninsula/iran/205-averting-middle-easts-1914-moment


Kashmir

There is much more to this[1] than I can take on right now. I will say this: It is a catastrophe in multiple ways.

Niha Masih, “India revokes special status of Kashmir, putting tense region on edge,” Washington Post, August 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/india-revokes-special-status-of-kashmir-putting-tense-region-on-edge/2019/08/05/2232fcd0-b740-11e9-8e83-4e6687e99814_story.html


Uber

See my previous blog entry entitled, “Watching the ridesharing shit go down the toilet.”

Edward Helmore, “Will Uber ever make money? Day of reckoning looms for ride-sharing firm,” Guardian, August 4, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/aug/04/uber-ride-share-lyft-ipo-earnings


Guns

As of today (Aug. 4), we are 216 days into 2019. In the US over that time, more than 1,300 people have been injured or killed in mass shootings, according to data collected by the Gun Violence Archive.[2]

216 days. 292 mass shootings.[3] Thanks, Donald Trump. Thanks, Mitch McConnell.

Katherine Ellen Foley, “The 292 mass shootings in the US so far this year, mapped,” Quartz, August 4, 2019, https://qz.com/1681082/the-292-mass-shootings-in-the-us-so-far-this-year-mapped/

Valerie Bauerlein, “Mass Shootings in El Paso, Dayton Leave 29 Dead,” Wall Street Journal, August 5, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/mass-shootings-in-el-paso-dayton-leave-29-dead-11564962534


Trade

Between Brexit[4] and Donald Trump’s attempt to bully China,[5] I see a lot of arrogance.

Now, I wouldn’t consider myself a master negotiator by any means. But I’ll tell you all a secret based mostly on my B.A. and M.A. in Communication: Approaching any negotiation with arrogance is likely to piss off other side, leading it to dig in its heels. And here, call this a two for one deal: The line between a constructive attitude toward a negotiation and arrogance isn’t even remotely a fine line.

It also helps if, unlike how the Trump administration is handling Iran,[6] one is clear about what one’s goals are in the negotiation.

What we’re seeing instead isn’t even remotely what you can call “being tough.” It’s called “being stupid.” Which seems pretty much to be how the stock markets are seeing it.[7]

David J. Lynch et al., “Treasury Department designates China a ‘currency manipulator,’ a major escalation of the trade war,” Washington Post, August 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/china-lets-currency-plunge-below-7-a-decade-low-after-trump-adds-new-tariffs/2019/08/05/c7415db6-b754-11e9-8e83-4e6687e99814_story.html

Akane Otani, “Stocks Fall Sharply as Yuan Reels and Trump Jabs at China,” Wall Street Journal, August 5, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/stocks-yuan-drop-sharply-as-trade-spat-intensifies-11564981961


  1. [1]Niha Masih, “India revokes special status of Kashmir, putting tense region on edge,” Washington Post, August 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/india-revokes-special-status-of-kashmir-putting-tense-region-on-edge/2019/08/05/2232fcd0-b740-11e9-8e83-4e6687e99814_story.html
  2. [2]Katherine Ellen Foley, “The 292 mass shootings in the US so far this year, mapped,” Quartz, August 4, 2019, https://qz.com/1681082/the-292-mass-shootings-in-the-us-so-far-this-year-mapped/
  3. [3]Katherine Ellen Foley, “The 292 mass shootings in the US so far this year, mapped,” Quartz, August 4, 2019, https://qz.com/1681082/the-292-mass-shootings-in-the-us-so-far-this-year-mapped/
  4. [4]David Benfell, “The hatless mad hatters,” Not Housebroken, August 4, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/04/the-hatless-mad-hatters/
  5. [5]David J. Lynch et al., “Treasury Department designates China a ‘currency manipulator,’ a major escalation of the trade war,” Washington Post, August 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/china-lets-currency-plunge-below-7-a-decade-low-after-trump-adds-new-tariffs/2019/08/05/c7415db6-b754-11e9-8e83-4e6687e99814_story.html
  6. [6]International Crisis Group, “Averting the Middle East’s 1914 Moment,” August 1, 2019, https://www.crisisgroup.org/middle-east-north-africa/gulf-and-arabian-peninsula/iran/205-averting-middle-easts-1914-moment
  7. [7]Akane Otani, “Stocks Fall Sharply as Yuan Reels and Trump Jabs at China,” Wall Street Journal, August 5, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/stocks-yuan-drop-sharply-as-trade-spat-intensifies-11564981961