It might actually be a good thing that Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of the House right now

I know. You never thought I’d say this—hell, I never thought I’d say this—but I think Nancy Pelosi might actually be the right person to take down Donald Trump over his border wall. Continue reading “It might actually be a good thing that Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of the House right now”

Hey, High Tech! Have you noticed it’s 2019?

I am having to change banks for the second time in a month. I had encountered problems with declines on my debit card with Redwood Credit Union. At first I assumed I had tripped fraud detection (which, in my case, is never right) and had started to give them a ration of shit about false positives meaning their entire fraud detection system is bullshit when they denied any knowledge of the declines. Continue reading “Hey, High Tech! Have you noticed it’s 2019?”

The love of a dog

I was in a left-turn lane approaching Amy’s Drive Thru, a vegetarian and vegan fast food place in Rohnert Park, for breakfast. As I sat at the red light, I noticed a man riding a bicycle in the rain. He was wearing what looked like an old army jacket and as he navigated a curb cut, a dog riding in a basket on the back of his bicycle struggled to maintain balance. Continue reading “The love of a dog”

Things I shouldn’t have to say about borders

First, for those who may be unfamiliar with my work, my dissertation was on conservative attitudes towards unauthorized migration. I used discourse-historical analysis, a critical theory method which entails an examination of both text and context.[1]

I already knew that dissertations are where a lot of good research goes to die. But I had wished for more impact than this and when I hear the things being said about migrants and borders that I have been hearing especially during the course of the Trump administration, I am, to put it very, very mildly, disappointed. Yes, Donald Trump is an authoritarian populist, verging on paleoconservative (in my dissertation work, I found these two otherwise distinct tendencies were virtually indistinguishable on this topic). And yes, this rhetoric is what you would expect from an authoritarian populist. But 1) authoritarian populists were never supposed to actually gain power, and 2) this rhetoric and policy should be swatted down as the fascist[2] nonsense it is. Continue reading “Things I shouldn’t have to say about borders”

  1. [1]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  2. [2]David Benfell, “A simple definition of fascism,” February 14, 2017, https://parts-unknown.org/drupal7/journal/2017/02/14/simple-definition-fascism

A Marxist counterfactual

I don’t know the author of Existential Comics—even their gender—but they recently posted a tweet that is extraordinarily helpful in making a point I’ve been wanting to make for a while:

Continue reading “A Marxist counterfactual”

The tyranny of the minority

Recently, in response to a rather triumphalist tweet predicting the demise of Donald Trump,[1] I offered a summation of the political situation as I perceive it:

Continue reading “The tyranny of the minority”

  1. [1]John Oberlin, [microblog post], Twitter, December 1, 2018, https://twitter.com/OMGno2trump/status/1069011219204489216
  2. [2]John Oberlin, [microblog post], Twitter, December 1, 2018, https://twitter.com/OMGno2trump/status/1069011219204489216

The connection between “original sin,” misogyny, and white supremacism

So a rabbi on Twitter posted an inquiry which wasn’t directed at me, but to which I responded:

Continue reading “The connection between “original sin,” misogyny, and white supremacism”

  1. [1]Danya Ruttenberg, [microblog post], Twitter, November 25, 2018, https://t.co/XxYSPjXTSq

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump make the case for abolishing borders

On one issue, at least, Donald Trump can claim an ally in Hillary Clinton. Clinton told the Guardian she “think[s] Europe needs to get a handle on migration because that is what lit the flame [of right-wing (authoritarian) populism].”[1] Here’s Donald Trump spewing word-vomit in July:

“Allowing the immigration to take place in Europe is a shame,” Trump said. “I think it changed the fabric of Europe and, unless you act very quickly, it’s never going to be what it was and I don’t mean that in a positive way.

“So I think allowing millions and millions of people to come into Europe is very, very sad,” he continued. “I think you are losing your culture. Look around. You go through certain areas that didn’t exist ten or 15 years ago.”[2]

Continue reading “Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump make the case for abolishing borders”

  1. [1]Patrick Wintour, “Hillary Clinton: Europe must curb immigration to stop rightwing populists,” Guardian, November 22, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/22/hillary-clinton-europe-must-curb-immigration-stop-populists-trump-brexit
  2. [2]Philip Bump, “Trump’s comments on European immigration mirror white nationalist rhetoric,” Washington Post, July 13, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2018/07/13/trumps-comments-on-european-immigration-mirror-white-nationalist-rhetoric/

Avarice

I got called in for jury duty, yet again. As it happened I used a hardship—being reduced yet again to Uber and Lyft, I’m just barely getting by, and a two-week trial would be ruinous—to get out of it, but as long-time readers know, our system of injustice is one of many features of our system of social organization that I dissent from.

In general, I object to the reduction of justice to law, especially law passed predominantly by wealthy white men. Jeffrey Reiman has noted the consequent discrepancy: The system of injustice is lenient towards the wealthy, but the poor and people of color face discrimination at every stage of the process, from suspicion all the way to sentencing.[1] Those sentences don’t merely harm the accused but their families and communities, while incarceration takes on the character of an epidemic.[2] And when the accused receive trials at all—there’s a lot of pressure to accept plea bargains, which count as guilty pleas—the outcomes will be the result of a profoundly flawed process.[3] Continue reading “Avarice”

  1. [1]Jeffrey Reiman, The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison, 7th ed. (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2004).
  2. [2]Ernest Drucker, A Plague of Prisons: The Epidemiology of Mass Incarceration in America(New York: New Press, 2011).
  3. [3]Dan Simon, In Doubt: The Psychology of the Criminal Justice Process (Cambridge, MA: Harvard, 2012).

Barack Obama asks, “Why is it that the folks that won the last election are so mad all the time?”

It seems like a clever line:

“Why is it that the folks that won the last election are so mad all the time?” [Barack] Obama asked a crowd of 4,000 as the fifth interrupting protester was escorted out of a Miami rally on Friday [November 2]. Any further shouts were drowned out by the crowd’s roar.[1]

And it would seem to have earned the audience’s approval. But what this line actually illustrates is how utterly clueless the former president is—and a lot of other folks are—about authoritarian populism. Continue reading “Barack Obama asks, “Why is it that the folks that won the last election are so mad all the time?””

  1. [1]Cleve R. Wootson, Jr., “Obama rips hecklers: Why are the people who won the last election ‘so mad all the time?’” Washington Post, November 3, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/11/03/obama-rips-hecklers-why-are-people-who-won-last-election-so-mad-all-time/