The closing of the Florida mind

Samuel Joeckel has been teaching a unit on racial justice in his writing class at Palm Beach Atlantic for twelve years. This year, a student complained about the unit to his parents, who complained to the university president. Joeckel is now out of a job. White Christian nationalist Florida Governor (and presumptive presidential candidate) Ron DeSantis visited the university the very evening he was terminated.[1] Read more

  1. [1]Megan Zahneis, “A Florida Professor Lost His Job After Complaints About His Lessons on Racial Justice,” Chronicle of Higher Education, March 17, 2023,

The Silicon Valley Bank collapse exposes our system for what it is: neo-feudalism

By all accounts, Silicon Valley Bank was a mid-sized bank. Even as it failed, it was not considered “systemically important,”[1] that is, until U.S. authorities decided it was.[2] And yet, its failure ensnares a bank, Credit Suisse, which is “systemically important” half a world away.[3] Read more

  1. [1]Karl Evers-Hillstrom, “Silicon Valley, Signature banks lobbied hard to loosen bank rules,” Hill, March 14, 2023,; Zachary Warmbrodt, “Banks fought to fend off tougher regulation. Then the meltdown came,” Politico, March 12, 2023,
  2. [2]William D. Cohan, “SVB’s Valley of Death,” Puck, March 12, 2023,; Ben Foldy, Rachel Louise Ensign, and Justin Baer, “How Silicon Valley Turned on Silicon Valley Bank,” Wall Street Journal, March 12, 2023,; Victoria Guida and Sam Sutton, “‘There’s going to be more’: How Washington is bracing for bank fallout,” Politico, March 12, 2023,; Jeff Stein et al., “U.S. says ‘all’ deposits at failed bank will be available Monday,” Washington Post, March 12, 2023,; Nick Timiraos, “SVB, Signature Bank Depositors to Get All Their Money as Fed Moves to Stem Crisis,” Wall Street Journal, March 12, 2023,
  3. [3]Simon Foy, “Is Credit Suisse, the bad apple of European banking, really ‘too big to fail, too big to be saved’?” Telegraph, March 16, 2023,; Nicholas Jasinski, “How SVB Triggered Credit Suisse’s Latest Mess—and Sparked Fears of a Financial Crisis,” Barron’s, March 15, 2023,; Margot Patrick, Justin Baer, and Dana Cimilluca, “UBS Nears Deal to Take Over Credit Suisse,” Wall Street Journal, March 18, 2023,; Margot Patrick, Ben Dummett, and Dana Cimilluca, “UBS Offers $1 Billion to Buy Credit Suisse,” Wall Street Journal, March 19, 2023,; Brian Swint, “Credit Suisse Stock Surges as Central Bank Loan and Debt Buybacks Tame Panic,” Barron’s, March 16, 2023,; Stephen Wilmot, “Panic Abates at Credit Suisse. Now Comes the Hard Part,” Wall Street Journal, March 16, 2023,

A new taxonomy of conservatism?

As part of its thing, suggested a paper describing vigilante right-wing militia activities, for example, the “Minutemen,” along the U.S. southern border, meant to intercept unauthorized migrants. In it, Robert Castro links militarism, toxic masculinity (he doesn’t call it ‘toxic’), and what,[1] in my dissertation, I would call paleoconservatism, a pro-segregationist tendency that, in its outer extremes includes neo-Nazis, skinheads, and the like.[2]

I don’t usually follow up on these suggestions, but this was hitting a few too many buttons for me, and I gotta tell you, I’m gonna be thinking about this article for a bit. Read more

  1. [1]Robert F. Castro, “Busting the Bandito Boyz: Militarism, Masculinity, and the Hunting of Undocumented Persons in the US-Mexico Borderlands,” Journal of Hate Studies 6, no. 1 (2007):7-30, doi: 10.33972/jhs.46
  2. [2]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).

Following Alice down a rabbit hole on COVID-19 origins

See updates through March 16, 2023, at end of post.

It’s fair to say that Michael Hiltzik is not impressed by[1] the Wall Street Journal’s reporting of a Department of Energy conclusion favoring the lab leak hypothesis of COVID-19’s origins.[2] Read more

  1. [1]Michael Hiltzik, “Despite latest reports, there’s still not a speck of evidence that COVID escaped from a Chinese lab,” Los Angeles Times, February 27, 2023,
  2. [2]Michael R. Gordon and Warren P. Strobel, “Lab Leak Most Likely Origin of Covid-19 Pandemic, Energy Department Now Says,” Wall Street Journal, February 26, 2023,

Sympathy for those poor, oppressed upper classes

See updates through March 3, 2023, at end of post.

It’s difficult for me to find much sympathy for high technology workers. They typically make six-figure incomes. They drove up already high rents in San Francisco to ludicrous levels and then complained about homeless people,[1] when now, in San Francisco, you are either rich or you are homeless—there is very little in between—and for all their complaints, many continued to live there. Read more

  1. [1]Julia Carrie Wong, “‘We all suffer’: why San Francisco techies hate the city they transformed,” Guardian, July 1, 2019,

A ‘C’ grade for Ruth Marcus on abortion rights

See update for January 23, 2023, at end of post.

Ruth Marcus still wants an answer to Sonia Sotomayor’s question:[1]

“How is your interest anything but a religious view?” Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked the lawyer for the state of Mississippi during oral arguments in the case [Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization] that would later eliminate the constitutional right to abortion. “So when you say this is the only right that takes away from the state the ability to protect a life, that’s a religious view, isn’t it?”[2]

I don’t find Marcus’ op-ed especially well argued. She relies,[3] rather, on cases making their way through the courts arguing that the state abortion bans that Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization enabled infringe on other (than conservative Christian) groups’ religious rights,[4] as if the mere existence of these cases, which have yet to be decided, is sufficient. Read more

  1. [1]Ruth Marcus, “Does Dobbs violate the establishment clause?” Washington Post, January 20, 2023,
  2. [2]Ruth Marcus, “Does Dobbs violate the establishment clause?” Washington Post, January 20, 2023,
  3. [3]Ruth Marcus, “Does Dobbs violate the establishment clause?” Washington Post, January 20, 2023,
  4. [4]Jackie Hajdenberg, “5 rabbis sue state of Missouri over abortion bans on religious freedom grounds,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 20, 2023,

Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey is afraid of his own police white supremacist gang

I have heard it said from time to time that politicians fear their own police white supremacist gangs. I’ve always been skeptical. These gangs act principally to protect property, especially the property of the wealthy, including politicians. Try driving a ratty old car across a wealthy neighborhood, for example, and just see how quickly you have a black and white on your tail, ready to pull you over on the slightest pretext. Read more

Functional disenfranchisement and secession movements

Fig. 1. A flag for the would-be state of Jefferson is seen along the Klamath River Highway in California. Photograph by MPSharwood, September 9, 2012, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

There are a lot of secession movements around the United States. I’ve focused on those in California, which fall broadly into three categories: 1) secession from the Union; 2) secession from the state; and 3) breaking California into smaller jurisdictions, but as Colby Galliher and Edison Forman observe in a Brookings Institution article, such movements exist all around the country.[1] A common theme is functional disenfranchisement, which Galliher and Forman fail to properly explain. Read more

  1. [1]Colby Galliher and Edison Forman, “County secession: Local efforts to redraw political borders,” Brookings, January 10, 2023,