Attacking the man for who supports him

I am attempting to thread a needle here:

This comes in response to reports, made public just before the Nevada Caucuses, that Bernie Sanders is receiving help from Russia as part of a program likely meant to sow discord in U.S. politics. It is possible that some of the attacks made by Sanders “supporters” that other candidates have blamed Sanders for are in fact the product of Russian disinformation.[1] We see the predictable outrage, both in support of Sanders and opposed to him, on Twitter, and Eugene Scott, a reporter for the Washington Post, defends the coverage:

With the fallacy I am attempting to define, I want to be clear that if you are a capitalist libertarian opposing Sanders because billionaires oppose him, I disagree with you, but I am not accusing you of this fallacy. I have little sympathy for billionaires and that which they have wrought.[2] I find their complaints overwrought and their self-adulation pathetic.[3] You, on the other hand, think highly of Ayn Rand’s so-called “objectivism” and think the rest of us are leeches who should be grateful for what we get.[4] It’s possible other fallacies are involved here but not the one I’m attempting to define.

Actually similarly, I seek to exclude myself for amplifying (however weakly)[5] Charles Blow’s tweetstorm against Michael Bloomberg:

Charles Blow is a Black man who lives in New York City. He lived there when Bloomberg was mayor. (He’s also a columnist for the New York Times and hardly needs my help.)

As a white male, I want to acknowledge Blow’s experience and to amplify his voice. To the extent that I would substitute my own voice, I should do so only in coordination with him and with other Blacks.[6] They, certainly not me, have expertise on “stop and frisk” and its pernicious effects on their community and I am trusting that expertise. Accordingly, I support Blow’s attack on Bloomberg, whose policy this was, and I mean to exclude this support from the fallacy I am attempting to define.

The attack on Sanders is different: Folks are attacking him because the Russians are attempting to sow discord. That’s not a legitimate attack on Sanders’ policies or his campaign positions. It’s an attack upon the man, but not because of who Sanders is, but because of Russian trolls. This is the fallacy I seek to define.

  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,
  2. [2]Bess Levin, “Cranky Billionaire Warns Bernie Sanders is ‘a Bigger Threat than the Coronavirus,‘” Vanity Fair, February 18, 2020,; Helaine Olen, “The decade of the billionaire victim,” Washington Post, December 26, 2019,; Lia Russell, “The Silicon Valley Economy Is Here. And It’s a Nightmare,” New Republic, January 16, 2020,
  3. [3]John Arlidge, “I’m doing ‘God’s work’. Meet Mr Goldman Sachs,” Times, November 8, 2009,; Jim Dobson, “Inside the World’s Largest Underground Survival Community: 575 Luxury Bunkers for 5,000 People,” Forbes, October 7, 2016,; Bess Levin, “Cranky Billionaire Warns Bernie Sanders is ‘a Bigger Threat than the Coronavirus,‘” Vanity Fair, February 18, 2020,; Tom Perkins, “Progressive Kristallnacht Coming?” Wall Street Journal, January 24, 2014,; Chris Reiter, “BMW Billionaire Heirs Say Their Lives Are Harder Than You Think,” Bloomberg, June 20, 2019,
  4. [4]Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged (New York: Plume, 1999).
  5. [5]David Benfell, “A billionaire likely loser,” Irregular Bullshit, February 16, 2020,
  6. [6]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.

A tipping point

Since I’ve moved to Pittsburgh, my mother and I have been comparing notes about the weather across country. It hasn’t been that long since I was in California so I pretty much have that picture already.

In California, when I was a kid, and we got to October, we knew it was still fire season, but we could pretty much figure we were in the clear. And we never saw fires like we’ve had in recent years. Read more

Fiction as truth

This is a story that dates back to my Master’s program in Speech Communication, a program that had been taken over by hard, solipsistic post-modernists.

In a lowlight, Grant Kien made a claim that I reduced to “fiction is truth.” I questioned that and Kien warned me not to challenge it, asserting as professors sometimes do when they aren’t really prepared to do so, that he was fully prepared to defend the claim. I, of course, considered the claim ludicrous on its face and sensing that I had made my point, asked, “Why would I do that?” Read more

Ridesharing traffic woes illustrate a defect of (not just) high tech thinking

I have a couple of issues with San Francisco blaming Uber and Lyft for traffic woes, the first being that The City targeted Uber and Lyft drivers for enforcement, thus inflating the statistics they rely upon for blaming those drivers for violations and associated traffic;[1] and the second, applying more generally to survey research that likely has a pathetic response rate[2] but which allegedly informs us as to people’s transportation usage and not just in San Francisco. All that said, the contributions of Uber and Lyft to horrendous traffic in big cities are, by now, old news.[3] Read more

  1. [1]David Benfell, “San Francisco’s war on Uber and Lyft drivers,” Not Housebroken, September 27, 2017,
  2. [2]Courtney Kennedy and Hannah Hartig, “Response rates in telephone surveys have resumed their decline,” Pew Research Center, February 27, 2019,
  3. [3]Emily Badger, “Is Uber Helping or Hurting Mass Transit?” New York Times, October 16, 2017,; Laura Bliss, “How Much Traffic Do Uber and Lyft Cause?” CityLab, August 5, 2019,; Katie Dowd, “Why is San Francisco traffic so bad? Uber and Lyft are to blame, says city,” SFGate, December 13, 2016,; Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, “SFPD: Uber, Lyft account for two-thirds of congestion-related traffic violations downtown,” San Francisco Examiner, September 25, 2017,; Faiz Siddiqui, “A new study says services like UberPool are making traffic worse,” Washington Post, July 25, 2018,; Heather Somerville, “San Francisco investigating whether Uber, Lyft are public nuisances,” Reuters, June 5, 2017,

The Democrats don’t need ‘election interference’

I have previously commented on what we can now say is a botched count of the Iowa Democratic Party caucuses.[1] That count has now ground to a halt without the Associated Press reporting final results[2] and the Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) is reviewing the results from 95 precincts that were flagged by campaigns. None of the campaigns have requested a ‘recanvass’[3] that might actually correct mathematical errors and inconsistencies such as those found by the New York Times. The campaigns would have to pay for it,[4] which is to say that the campaigns would have to pay to correct errors made by volunteers working for the Democratic Party. Read more

  1. [1]David Benfell, “Neoliberal hubris and the Iowa fiasco,” Not Housebroken, February 5, 2020,
  2. [2]Associated Press, “Iowa Elections Results,” February 7, 2020,; Associated Press, “Iowa Elections Results,” February 7, 2020,
  3. [3]Zach Montellaro, “Iowa Democratic Party reviewing results from 95 precincts,” Politico, February 8, 2020,
  4. [4]Nate Cohn, “New Doubts From Iowa Caucuses: How ‘Satellite’ Votes Are Being Measured,” New York Times, February 6, 2020,; Nate Cohn et al., “Iowa Caucus Results Riddled With Errors and Inconsistencies,” New York Times, February 6, 2020,; Isaac Stanley-Becker, “DNC chair calls for recanvass in Iowa,” Washington Post, February 6, 2020,

Bipartisan ‘meritocracy’ and ‘vote Blue no matter who’

I’ve already called it “[t]he stupidest impeachment ever, historically notable first for all the offenses it failed to charge Donald Trump with,[1] second for its utterly predictable futility, and third for its transparent (and apparently failed) attempt to protect Joe Biden.[2][3] But here is the final nail in the coffin: Republican senators wailing about how they hope Donald Trump has learned a lesson.[4]

“He was impeached, and there has been criticism by both Republican and Democratic senators of his call,” [Susan] Collins said in a CBS interview. “I believe that he will be much more cautious in the future.” Read more

  1. [1]David Benfell, “The whiteness of impeachment,” Not Housebroken, December 15, 2019,; Democracy Now, “Law Professor: Trump Could Also Have Been Impeached for War Crimes, Assassinations and Corruption,” January 24, 2020,
  2. [2]David Benfell, “It’s still a smoke-filled room,” Not Housebroken, December 6, 2019,; David Benfell, “How the neoliberal (usually known as Democratic) party may well lose in 2020,” Not Housebroken, December 7, 2019,; David Benfell, “The whiteness of impeachment,” Not Housebroken, December 15, 2019,; David Benfell, “The least violent solution,” Not Housebroken, December 16, 2019,; David Benfell, “The sham (pick your partisan flavor) is on,” Not Housebroken, December 19, 2019,; David Benfell, “The asterisk,” Not Housebroken, December 21, 2019,
  3. [3]David Benfell, “One farce down, one to go,” Irregular Bullshit, February 5, 2020,
  4. [4]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,

Neoliberal hubris and the Iowa fiasco

The Iowa Democratic Party caucuses ended in a fiasco with the count.[1] At this writing, over 24 hours later, we still do not have final results. Read more

  1. [1]John McCormick and Ken Thomas, “Democratic Caucus Results in Iowa Thrown Into State of Confusion,” Wall Street Journal, February 4, 2020,; Natasha Korecki, David Siders, and Alex Thompson, “‘It’s a total meltdown’: Confusion seizes Iowa as officials struggle to report results,” Politico, February 4, 2020,

All of us

Another endorsement has gotten Bernie Sanders in trouble.[1]

In an earlier statement, a Sanders aide said: “The goal of our campaign is to build a multiracial, multi-generational movement large enough to defeat Donald Trump and the powerful special interests whose greed and corruption is the root cause of the outrageous inequality in America.

“Sharing a big tent requires including those who do not share every one of our beliefs, while always making clear that we will never compromise our values.

“The truth is that by standing together in solidarity, we share the values of love and respect that will move us in the direction of a more humane, more equal world.”[2]

Read more

  1. [1]Martin Pengelly, “Bernie Sanders ‘must reconsider’ Joe Rogan endorsement, says LGBTQ group,” Guardian, January 24, 2020,
  2. [2]An unnamed Bernie Sanders aide, quoted in Martin Pengelly, “Bernie Sanders ‘must reconsider’ Joe Rogan endorsement, says LGBTQ group,” Guardian, January 24, 2020,

To a Pennsylvania House Minority Leader: When cops profile you, they don’t actually need an offense

Silly me, I’d just put all the drivers yacking on their phones around Pittsburgh down to the general lack of traffic enforcement. Assuming a bill passed by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives becomes law, it’ll be a secondary offense, still a step behind places like California, due to fears of racist policing.[1]

Minority Whip Jordan Harris, D-Philadelphia, voted for it after speaking about how black drivers could be exposed to racial profiling stops if the language had not been amended to make it a secondary violation. Read more

  1. [1]Associated Press, “Pennsylvania House votes to stop drivers’ use of hand-held phones,” TribLive, January 15, 2020,; Stephen Caruso, “After years of trying, Pa. House finally passes handheld cell phone ban,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, January 15, 2020,