On ‘vote shaming’

The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg[1] and the hypocritical[2] Republican rush to replace her on the Supreme Court[3] has prompted a new round of “vote shaming,” in which it is alleged that a refusal to acquiesce to the political duopoly by voting for the alleged “lesser of two evils” is to support the greater of two evils, a problem I took up a while ago in a previous blog post.[4] Read more

  1. [1]Robert Barnes and Michael A. Fletcher, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court justice and legal pioneer for gender equality, dies at 87,” Washington Post, September 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/ruth-bader-ginsburg-dies/2020/09/18/3cedc314-fa08-11ea-a275-1a2c2d36e1f1_story.html
  2. [2]David Benfell, “Take those Amerikkkan flag pins off your lapels,” Not Housebroken, September 19, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/19/take-those-amerikkkan-flag-pins-off-your-lapels/
  3. [3]Clare Foran, Manu Raju, and Ted Barrett, “McConnell vows Trump’s nominee to replace Ginsburg will get Senate vote, setting up historic fight,” CNN, September 19, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/18/politics/congress-fight-rgb-seat/index.html
  4. [4]David Benfell, “Why I do not vote,” Not Housebroken, February 25, 2016, https://disunitedstates.org/2016/02/23/why-i-do-not-vote/

Voting for complicity

See updates for September 20, 2020, and for September 21, 2020, at end of post.


One distinction I can draw between the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020 is that there could be little question that Clinton actually wanted the job. Biden seems more of a placeholder so the neoliberals can claim to still actually oppose Republicans. Read more

Take those Amerikkkan flag pins off your lapels

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s final act was to further demonstrate Republican hypocrisy.

It was about four years ago when Antonin Scalia died, opening a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Then-president Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland, allegedly the least objectionable possibility Republicans could hope for from a Democratic president, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to allow a confirmation vote, averring that the Amerikkkan people should have a voice by way of the presidential election that year. Donald Trump won and nominated Neil Gorsuch, who was confirmed to the Court.[1] Read more

  1. [1]Lisa Mascaro and David G. Savage, “Senate confirms Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-gorsuch-confirmed-20170407-story.html; Dylan Matthews, “Merrick Garland’s probably doomed, strategically interesting nomination, explained,” Vox, March 16, 2016, https://www.vox.com/2016/3/16/11249220/merrick-garland-supreme-court-explained

On ‘freedom’

Conservatives don’t all speak of ‘freedom,’ but when they do, the hairs on the back of your neck should stand on end, fully erect.

As I have studied conservatism, notably for my dissertation,[1] I have noticed that capitalist libertarians and neoliberals mean by by the word that they should be ‘free’ to exploit workers and the environment for personal gain, externalizing the associated costs, and thus burdening society at large with the costs they incur but should not have to pay for. Environmental pollution, extraction, and other degradation all take a toll on all life on earth; low wages and poor working conditions ultimately depend on state-subsidized social safety nets: Capitalists profit but object when presented with the cost. Capitalist libertarians and neoliberals will call any suggestion that they should reimburse the rest of humanity for those costs a “job killer.” Read more

  1. [1]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).

It is now too late

In a time when confidence in political authority is at a low ebb,[1] and climate crisis denial is widespread not only among the public but in political leadership, drastic action is needed, not just on the fires that now ravage the U.S. west, not just on the climate crisis, but as well for the economic fallout that already accompanies the pandemic, that politicians have also abjectly failed to respond to.[2] Read more

  1. [1]David Benfell, “The pandemic and a crisis of illegitimate authority,” Not Housebroken, May 12, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/05/12/the-pandemic-and-a-crisis-of-illegitimate-authority/
  2. [2]Marianne Levine, “Schumer rips ’emaciated’ Republican coronavirus relief plan,” Politico, September 3, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/09/03/coronavirus-relief-plan-chuck-schumer-407974; Heather Long, “This recession is already deep. If Congress fails to act, a lot of damage could be permanent,” Washington Post, July 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/07/30/economists-favor-big-stimulus/; Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman, “Will they ever get a deal?” Politico, August 3, 2020, https://www.politico.com/newsletters/playbook/2020/08/03/will-they-ever-get-a-deal-489957; Eli Rosenberg, Erica Werner, and Jeff Stein, “30 million unemployed lose extra jobless benefits, as talks between Congress and the White House are at an impasse,” Washington Post, July 31, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2020/07/31/congress-bailout-unemployment-insurance/; Christopher Rugaber, “Gone for good? Evidence signals many jobs aren’t coming back,” Associated Press, August 5, 2020, copy in possession of author; Kyle Swenson, “Ten bucks left, no place to go: How the pandemic and a broken unemployment system are upending people’s lives,” Washington Post, August 1, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/coronavirus-unemployment-delays-dc/2020/08/01/50016264-c522-11ea-8ffe-372be8d82298_story.html

Bob Woodward’s book won’t matter in November

So Bob Woodward wrote a book. In this book, among other things, Donald Trump admits that he was well aware of the severity of COVID-19, but didn’t want to spread panic. He also denies wealthy white privilege, accusing Woodward of having drunk the Kool-Aid. There’s other fluff about how Kim Jong-Un flattered him.[1] And I would assume, there is more that I have not learned about because I haven’t actually read the book, but am relying on a Washington Post account. Read more

  1. [1]Robert Costa and Philip Rucker, “Woodward book: Trump says he knew coronavirus was ‘deadly’ and worse than the flu while intentionally misleading Americans,” Washington Post, September 9, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/bob-woodward-rage-book-trump/2020/09/09/0368fe3c-efd2-11ea-b4bc-3a2098fc73d4_story.html

Bloody November

See update for September 9, 2020, at end of post.


Somehow I missed this piece by Rosa Brooks[1] describing more of the work of the Transition Integrity Project, which gamed out scenarios in which Donald Trump might very well, and I have to think probably would, resist a handover of power in the event he loses in November.[2] Read more

  1. [1]Rosa Brooks, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Washington Post, September 3, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/09/03/trump-stay-in-office/
  2. [2]Max Boot, “What if Trump loses but insists he won?” Washington Post, July 6, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/06/what-if-trump-loses-insists-he-won/; Rosa Brooks, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Washington Post, September 3, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/09/03/trump-stay-in-office/; Chris Cillizza, “What happens if Donald Trump refuses to admit he lost in 2020?” CNN, May 6, 2019, https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2019/05/06/politics/donald-trump-2020-election/index.html; Democracy Now!, “What If Trump Refuses to Accept a Biden Victory? A Look at How Electoral Chaos Could Divide Nation,” August 3, 2020, https://www.democracynow.org/2020/8/3/nils_gilman_2020_election_scenarios; Amy Gardner, Josh Dawsey, and John Wagner, “Trump encounters broad pushback to his suggestion to delay the Nov. 3 election,” Washington Post, July 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-floats-idea-of-delaying-the-november-election-as-he-ramps-up-attacks-on-voting-by-mail/2020/07/30/15fe7ac6-d264-11ea-9038-af089b63ac21_story.html; Ed Kilgore, “How Trump Is Trying to Ensure an Early Election Night Lead,” New York, August 13, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/08/trump-voters-could-vote-in-person-and-give-him-early-lead.html; Eric Lach, “What Happens if Donald Trump Fights the Election Results?” New Yorker, August 21, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/campaign-chronicles/what-happens-if-donald-trump-fights-the-election-results; Kevin Liptak and Betsy Klein, “Trump floats delaying election despite lack of authority to do so,” CNN, July 30, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/30/politics/trump-delay-election-no-authority/index.html; Robert McCartney, “Here’s one way Trump could try to steal the election, voting experts say,” Washington Post, August 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/heres-one-way-trump-could-try-to-steal-the-election-voting-experts-say/2020/08/16/b5bf0c2a-de66-11ea-b205-ff838e15a9a6_story.html; Peter Nicholas, “Trump Could Still Break Democracy’s Biggest Norm,” Atlantic, June 16, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/06/when-does-trump-leave-white-house/613060/; Douglas Perry, “How impeachment could lead to insurrection or even Dems backing Donald Trump,” Oregonian, May 17, 2019, https://www.oregonlive.com/today/2017/09/impeachment_is_coming_how_it_c.html; Felicia Sonmez, “Trump declines to say whether he will accept November election results,” Washington Post, July 19, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-declines-to-say-whether-he-will-accept-november-election-results/2020/07/19/40009804-c9c7-11ea-91f1-28aca4d833a0_story.html; Timothy E. Wirth and Tom Rogers, “How Trump Could Lose the Election—And Still Remain President,” Newsweek, July 3, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/how-trump-could-lose-election-still-remain-president-opinion-1513975