How the neoliberal (usually known as Democratic) party may well lose in 2020

So it was already pretty obvious that the mainstream of the Democratic Party, which I prefer to call the “neoliberal party,” has thrown its weight behind Joe Biden when I came across numbers assembled by FiveThirtyEight that show Biden garnering a vast majority of endorsements. It’s not even close.[1]
Read more

  1. [1]FiveThirtyEight, “The 2020 Endorsement Primary,” December 5, 2019, https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2020-endorsements/democratic-primary/

Sorry, PG&E, but sorry is not enough

Update, December 4, 2019: A New York Times story largely confirms the damning indictment of Pacific Gas and Electric here but also raises questions about the efficacy of regulatory supervision:[1]

The report has also raised fresh questions about why the utilities commission did not identify PG&E’s safety lapses in previous investigations and audits of the company. The report did not address that issue but implied that the problems could have been discovered years earlier. It said that “long-duration exposure to higher winds, age and historical inspection methodologies likely all contributed” to the equipment failures that caused the fire.[2]

Primary responsibility remains, of course, with the utility. But the deficiencies in oversight hint at regulatory capture, in which regulators become too friendly with and even defenders of the subjects of their regulation. Typically, such capture is at least partially the result of corruption (as with the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe); however, an anti-regulatory ideology (as under the Trump administration) can also be to blame. This hazard is inherent to regulated capitalism, implicitly raises the question of who will watch the watchers, and thus how they, in turn, will avoid capture.

The point here ultimately remains the same: Capitalism is an inherently untrustworthy system.


I understand the capitalist libertarian impulse that insists that government is inherently incompetent and a burden, both in regulation and in taxation.

This impulse is what capitalist libertarianism bequeathed to neoliberalism, which is what happened when capitalist libertarianism came to power in the post-Watergate era and all but shed its already ludicrous claim to anarchist ideals, in which only political, but never economic, power is problematic in an allegedly “free” (for whom? to do what? to whom?) market.
Read more

  1. [1]Ivan Penn and Peter Eavis, “Report Detailing PG&E’s Failures Raises New Hurdles for Utility,” New York Times, December 3, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/03/business/energy-environment/pge-camp-fire-report.html
  2. [2]Ivan Penn and Peter Eavis, “Report Detailing PG&E’s Failures Raises New Hurdles for Utility,” New York Times, December 3, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/03/business/energy-environment/pge-camp-fire-report.html

Raw, naked power

Simon Jenkins asks a good question, but I think misunderstands the purpose of war.

Jenkins wants to know why the U.S. and Britain are still engaged in fruitless, unwinnable wars in the Middle East. These wars, he writes, are unpopular among the general public and even among soldiers, with the latter preferring wars that can be won.[1] And while a counterfactual is unprovable, it is, at best, unclear that the wars have accomplished a thing.
Read more

  1. [1]Simon Jenkins, “The US and Britain face no existential threat. So why do their wars go on?” Guardian, November 15, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/nov/15/britain-and-us-wars-conflicts-middle-east

Cats are smarter than we are. Really.

A clarifying question as to whether something might—emphasis on might—be a social construction is whether it would make sense to your cat.

If you think your cat might understand it, then there’s a decent chance it has some reality in the physical world. Yes, that excludes a lot of things we take for granted, and part of the charm of a cat is that they see right through those things to physical essence. Read more

The Kincade fire and the limits of human hubris

To understand my thinking on the Kincade fire in Sonoma County, California, you need to understand the location of the transmission line that sparked the blaze.[1]
Read more

  1. [1]Reis Thebault, Kim Bellware, and Andrew Freedman, “High-voltage power line broke near origin of massive California fire that forced thousands of evacuations,” Washington Post, October 25, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/10/24/fast-moving-wildfire-ignites-northern-california-wine-country-prompting-evacuations/

Hillary Clinton needs to just shut the fuck up

Hillary Clinton needs to just shut the fuck up. She lost an election that even Donald Trump says she should have won, because she is a neoconservative and a neoliberal. She is wrong and her allegation that the Russians have “got their eye on somebody [almost certainly Tulsi Gabbard] who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate”[1] has drawn well-deserved criticism.[2] Forgotten, though, is that these comments expose her own sheer hypocrisy.
Read more

  1. [1]Hillary Clinton, quoted in Dan Merica, “Hillary Clinton suggests Russians are ‘grooming’ Tulsi Gabbard for third-party run,” CNN, October 21, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/18/politics/hillary-clinton-tulsi-gabbard/index.html
  2. [2]Dan Merica, “Hillary Clinton suggests Russians are ‘grooming’ Tulsi Gabbard for third-party run,” CNN, October 21, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/18/politics/hillary-clinton-tulsi-gabbard/index.html; Nathan Robinson, “Hillary Clinton’s attacks on Tulsi Gabbard are embarrassing,” Guardian, October 22, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/oct/22/hillary-clinton-tulsi-gabbard-embarrassing-paranoid

The New York Times at least very nearly exposes a whistle blower

Update, September 29: My mother replies to the following saying that the whistle blower is in even greater danger than from White House retaliation. Citing multiple sources, she points to Donald Trump’s mob connections.[1] The picture here is of the 1920s all over again, only international, including but not limited to Russian and Ukrainian, in scope and with a likely mobster as president of the United States.


The New York Times is an agent for somebody. That somebody is supposed to be the people.[2] It isn’t.
Read more

  1. [1]Benjamin Fearnow, “Viral ‘Crime Infested’ Trump Tower Thread Details Convicted Criminals, Russian Mobster Tenants Over The Years,” Newsweek, August 1, 2019, https://www.newsweek.com/trump-tower-criminal-tenants-thread-twitter-russian-mafia-renters-owners-1452138; Masha Gessen, “The Trump-Russia Investigation and the Mafia State,” New Yorker, January 31, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-trump-russia-investigation-and-the-mafia-state; Michael Hirsh, “How Russian Money Helped Save Trump’s Business,” Foreign Policy, December 21, 2018, https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/12/21/how-russian-money-helped-save-trumps-business/; Amanda Luz Henning Santiago, “Trump’s mob connections,” City and State New York, September 27, 2019, https://www.cityandstateny.com/articles/politics/news-politics/trumps-mob-connections.html; Craig Unger, “Trump’s Russian Laundromat,” New Republic, July 13, 2017, https://newrepublic.com/article/143586/trumps-russian-laundromat-trump-tower-luxury-high-rises-dirty-money-international-crime-syndicate; Craig Unger, “Trump’s businesses are full of dirty Russian money. The scandal is that it’s legal,” Washington Post, March 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/trumps-businesses-are-full-of-dirty-russian-money-the-scandal-is-thats-legal/2019/03/29/11b812da-5171-11e9-88a1-ed346f0ec94f_story.html
  2. [2]Philip Patterson and Lee Wilkins, Media Ethics: Issues and Cases, 3rd ed. (Boston: McGraw Hill, 1998).