All hail palliative ‘solutions’

Substantively, Zoe Strimpel’s answer to intensifying political polarization in the U.S. is moderation. She supports (the neoliberal) Hillary Clinton. She decries extremism and offers a false equivalence[1] between a Left I agree has, in some cases, gone too far (suffers youthful excess) and an increasingly monolithic white Christian nationalist Right[2] that she acknowledges threatens reification[3] of The Handmaid’s Tale.[4] I had written my reply even before I’d seen her article:

One problem here is the imagination of a mythical “golden mean” as the answer to extremism. That remains as incoherent as ever; there is still no and there never will be an actual logic to the “golden mean,” and so, as we see with the Democrats, such an approach to policy, hopelessly beset by contradiction, fails miserably.[5] Read more

  1. [1]Zoe Strimpel, “America is headed for another civil war where one side has to vanquish the other,” Telegraph, June 25, 2022,
  2. [2]David Benfell, “My 2024 forecast,” Not Housebroken, June 11, 2022,
  3. [3]Zoe Strimpel, “America is headed for another civil war where one side has to vanquish the other,” Telegraph, June 25, 2022,
  4. [4]Margaret Atwood, Handmaid’s Tale (New York: Anchor, 1998).
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Democrats and contradiction,” Not Housebroken, January 20, 2022,

Pittsburgh was likely negligent in Fern Hollow Bridge collapse

Paula Reed Ward is usually a pretty good reporter, but this is a facepalm moment on a couple points.

Nearly five months after the Fern Hollow Bridge in Pittsburgh’s Frick Park collapsed,[1] and almost a month after experts expressed alarm over the bridge’s last inspection report,[2] we get this: Read more

  1. [1]Ed Blazina et al., “‘A boom, then a monster sound’: 10 hurt after bridge over Pittsburgh’s Frick Park collapses,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 28, 2022,
  2. [2]Sam D. Hamill, “Fern Hollow Bridge was severely decaying before collapse, 2021 report indicates,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 19, 2022,

Human beings as disposable means to capitalists’ profitable ends

Despite longstanding warnings about working conditions that have, if anything, only intensified in recent years,[1] Amazon still burns through each worker in its warehouses in an average of eight months,[2] and guess what? An internal memorandum warns that Amazon may run out of potential workers to hire:[3] Read more

  1. [1]Brian Callaci, “Amazon Warehouses Are Relentless, Dangerous Workplaces—but It’s Hard to Punish Them for It, Thanks to Bill Clinton,” New Republic, March 25, 2022,; Jessa Crispin, “Amazon is a disaster for workers. Nomadland glosses over that,” Guardian, March 23, 2021,; Jessa Crispin, “Welcome to dystopia: getting fired from your job as an Amazon worker by an app,” Guardian, July 5, 2021,; Daniel D’Addario, “Amazon is worse than Walmart,” Salon, July 30, 2013,; Jason Del Rey, “Leaked Amazon memo warns the company is running out of people to hire,” Vox, June 17, 2022,; Danny Fortson, “Is Jeff Bezos’s Amazon now the ‘evil face of capitalism’?” Times, December 8, 2019,; Nichole Gracely, “‘Being homeless is better than working for Amazon,’” Guardian, November 28, 2014,; Simon Head, “Worse than Wal-Mart: Amazon’s sick brutality and secret history of ruthlessly intimidating workers,” Salon, February 23, 2014,; Jodi Kantor, Karen Weise, and Grace Ashford, “The Amazon That Customers Don’t See,” New York Times, June 15, 2021,; Jodi Kantor, Karen Weise and Grace Ashford, “Power and Peril: 5 Takeaways on Amazon’s Employment Machine,” New York Times, June 16, 2021,; Colin Lecher, “How Amazon automatically tracks and fires warehouse workers for ‘productivity,’” Verge, April 25, 2019,; Nathaniel Mott, “From Amazon warehouse workers to Google bus drivers, it’s tough working a non-tech job at a tech company,” Pando, October 9, 2014,; Michael Sainato, “‘I’m not a robot’: Amazon workers condemn unsafe, grueling conditions at warehouse,” Guardian, February 5, 2020,; Alex Seitz-Wald, “Amazon is everything wrong with our new economy,” Salon, July 30, 2013,; Spencer Soper, “Inside Amazon’s Warehouse,” Lehigh Valley Morning Call, September 18, 2011,
  2. [2]Steven Greenhouse, “Amazon chews through the average worker in eight months. They need a union,” Guardian, February 4, 2022,
  3. [3]Jason Del Rey, “Leaked Amazon memo warns the company is running out of people to hire,” Vox, June 17, 2022,

Start changing the border signs: ‘Welcome to Gilead’

See update for July 28, 2022, at end of post.

When I read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, I both marveled at how plausible it seemed, and wondered at how it might come to pass that the U.S., or at least a significant part of it, might become Gilead, the country in which Atwood set her dystopian novel, located south of Canada.[1] Read more

  1. [1]Margaret Atwood, Handmaid’s Tale (New York: Anchor, 1998).

The Democrats as the danger within, enabling the Republicans

See updates through August 17, 2022, at end of post.

You all remember when I described Donald Trump as the “delusional raging narcissist-in-chief,” right? Folks may not always appreciate that I do these things on evidence, for example, a description of narcissistic rage[1] and another of psychosis,[2] both of which described Trump even without ever even once mentioning his name. Read more

  1. [1]George Simon, “Understanding and Dealing with Narcissistic Rage,” Counselling Resource, July 24, 2017,
  2. [2]WebMD, “Psychosis and Psychotic Episodes,” July 13, 2019,

Keeping it real

While all this [the televised, except on Fox News, January 6 coup attempt hearing] was going on, of course, the noise continued on Fox. “It tells you a lot about the priorities of our ruling class that the rest of us are getting yet another lecture about January 6 tonight, from our moral inferiors, no less,” Tucker Carlson said as he came on air at 8, calling the insurrection “a forgettably minor outbreak” of mob violence, and adding, “They are lying and we are not going to help them do it.” At 9, he was relieved by Sean Hannity, who declared that the hearing had “overpromised” and “underdelivered” even though it was still going on. . . .

Back in the real world, the hearing was getting rave reviews from many real journalists.[1]

What catches my eye here is something I saw even on the order of fifteen years ago when I was working on my Master’s in Speech Communication. In one of the classes I took—it was part of the core curriculum for the degree—even a conservative professor, Bill Alnor (who somehow combined social conservatism with capitalist libertarianism), discounted Fox News as not “real news” and derided the already apparent delusions of the right. Read more

  1. [1]Jon Allsop, “The January 6 hearing and the value of spectacle,” Columbia Journalism Review, June 10, 2022,

Social networks and political polarization: We don’t fucking know

The bottom line in Mathew Ingram’s Columbia Journalism Review newsletter today is that we don’t fucking know the extent to which social networks like Facebook and Twitter have contributed to political polarization,[1] always a more honorable conclusion than an ill-founded assertion. Read more

  1. [1]Mathew Ingram, “Have the dangers of social media been overstated?” Columbia Journalism Review, June 9, 2022,

A monster that does not bleed and cannot be killed

Fig. 1. Photograph by NOBama NoMas [pseud.], April 16, 2010, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0.

Gee, I thought neoliberalism was dead already, intellectually utterly discredited,[1] then killed by the COVID-19 pandemic (but not really).[2] Now, James Meadway pronounces it dead again (still not really), as central bank interest rate increases can only fail to address supply chain issues and an oil and food price shock from sanctions against Russia.[3] Did it come back to life, like a horror movie zombie? No, what we are rather clearly seeing[4] is that it is unkillable, a monster that does not bleed and will not die.[5] Read more

  1. [1]Mark Blyth, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford, UK: Oxford University, 2013); David Fickling, “The Gig Economy Compromised Our Immune System,” Yahoo!, July 25, 2020,; Amir Fleischmann, “The Myth of the Fiscal Conservative,” Jacobin, March 5, 2017,; Jason Hickel, “Progress and its discontents,” New Internationalist, August 7, 2019,; Daniel Stedman Jones, Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University, 2012); Stephanie Kelton, The Deficit Myth (New York: Public Affairs, 2021); Robert Kuttner, “Austerity never works: Deficit hawks are amoral — and wrong,” Salon, May 5, 2013,; Eric Levitz, “Neoliberalism Died of COVID. Long Live Neoliberalism!” Review of Shutdown, by Adam Tooze, New York, October 14, 2021,; 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,; John Quiggin, “Austerity Has Been Tested, and It Failed,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 20, 2013,; David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, “How Austerity Kills,” New York Times, May 12, 2013,; David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, “Paul Krugman’s right: Austerity kills,” Salon, May 19, 2013,
  2. [2]Eric Levitz, “Neoliberalism Died of COVID. Long Live Neoliberalism!” Review of Shutdown, by Adam Tooze, New York, October 14, 2021,
  3. [3]James Meadway, “The present crisis calls for a new economic paradigm,” New Statesman, June 8, 2022,
  4. [4]Eric Levitz, “Neoliberalism Died of COVID. Long Live Neoliberalism!” Review of Shutdown, by Adam Tooze, New York, October 14, 2021,; James Meadway, “The present crisis calls for a new economic paradigm,” New Statesman, June 8, 2022,
  5. [5]“If it bleeds, we can kill it.” This passage is attributed to Arnold Schwarzenegger by Brainy Quote, n.d.,

San Francisco hypocrisy

Though I grew up mostly in San Francisco, and lived in and around The City for over fifty years, I haven’t been there in over three years and should probably temper my comments on the apparently successful recall of District Attorney Chesa Boudin accordingly.[1] Read more

  1. [1]Laura J. Nelson, James Queally, and Anabel Sosa, “San Francisco voters recall progressive D.A. Boudin. Crime and homelessness at issue,” Los Angeles Times, June 7, 2022,