Tories need their own island, well away from the European Union

There really isn’t much new[1] in Gordon Brown’s warning that Brexit may break up the United Kingdom and London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s call for a national unity government to stop a hard Brexit.[2] Such a panic was foreseeable as the consequences of this insanity sink in. Read more

  1. [1]Karla Adam and William Booth, “Could Boris Johnson’s ‘no-deal’ Brexit break up the United Kingdom?” Washington Post, July 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/could-boris-johnsons-no-deal-brexit-crack-up-the-united-kingdom/2019/07/29/b871ebac-b1e6-11e9-acc8-1d847bacca73_story.html; David Benfell, “Okay, so really now, assuming they choose to do so, how do the British avoid a hard Brexit?” Not Housebroken, July 26, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/26/okay-so-really-now-assuming-they-choose-to-do-so-how-do-the-british-avoid-a-hard-brexit/; David Benfell, “Boris Johnson might think he’s playing poker with the European Union, but he’s actually playing ‘chicken’—with a brick wall,” Not Housebroken, August 2, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/02/boris-johnson-might-think-hes-playing-poker-with-the-european-union-but-hes-actually-playing-chicken-with-a-brick-wall/; Daniel Boffey, “However you look at it, the logic of a Brexit backstop refuses to yield,” Guardian, June 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/24/however-look-logic-brexit-backstop-refuses-to-yield-irish; British Broadcasting Corporation, “Irish deputy PM Coveney: No deal Brexit would mean customs checks in Ireland,” July 21, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-politics-49062367/irish-deputy-pm-coveney-no-deal-brexit-would-mean-customs-checks-in-ireland; Amanda Ferguson and William Booth, “Northern Ireland’s politicians don’t agree on much. Except that Boris Johnson’s no-deal Brexit would be a disaster,” Washington Post, July 31, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/northern-irelands-politicians-dont-agree-on-much-except-that-boris-johnsons-no-deal-brexit-would-be-a-disaster/2019/07/31/c209affa-b2eb-11e9-acc8-1d847bacca73_story.html; Peter Foster and Camilla Tominey, “Boris Johnson warned that ‘no deal’ Brexit will require return of ‘direct rule’ in Northern Ireland,” Telegraph, July 26, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/07/26/boris-johnson-warned-no-deal-brexit-will-require-return-direct/; Conor Humphries, “Irish PM says hard Brexit would raise issue of Irish unification,” Telegraph, July 27, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu-ireland-nireland-idUSKCN1UL280
  2. [2]Michael Savage and Daniel Boffey, “No-deal Brexit spells calamity for union, warns Gordon Brown,” Guardian, August 10, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/10/gordon-brown-says-no-deal-brexit-would-be-calamity-for-united-kingdom

Jeffrey Epstein is dead. Send in the conspiracy clowns.

This is not the kind of thing I normally cover (unsatisfactorily rebutted allegations of Donald Trump’s ‘golden showers’ [1] notwithstanding). But, together, the possibilities that 1) Jeffrey Epstein’s death in prison may not have been suicide and 2) his death, if indeed murder, may have been intended to protect other elites[2] bring it to my outer perimeter. Read more

  1. [1]Jeff Stein, “Trump, Russian Spies and the Infamous ‘Golden Shower Memos,’” Newsweek, January 10, 2017, http://www.newsweek.com/trump-russian-spies-infamous-golden-shower-memos-541315; Katie Bo Williams and Jonathan Easley, “Five takeaways from the Fusion GPS testimony,” Hill, January 10, 2018, http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/368210-five-takeaways-from-the-fusion-gps-testimony
  2. [2]Matt Zapotosky et al., “Jeffrey Epstein dead after ‘apparent suicide’ in New York,” Washington Post, August 10, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/jeffrey-epstein-kills-himself-in-jail-according-to-media-reports/2019/08/10/a3d48862-bb73-11e9-b3b4-2bb69e8c4e39_story.html

Uber appears to be going down

The news that Uber has stopped hiring engineers (except in its self-driving car and trucking divisions)[1] follows large reported losses[2] and cuts to its marketing staff.[3] I reacted to news of the marketing staff cuts in a blog post entitled “Watching the ridesharing shit go down the toilet.” Apparently, Read more

  1. [1]Timothy B. Lee, “Uber, losing billions, freezes engineering hires,” Ars Technica, August 9, 2019, https://arstechnica.com/cars/2019/08/uber-freezes-engineering-hires-amid-mounting-losses/
  2. [2]Eliot Brown, “Uber Posts Its Largest Quarterly Loss,” Wall Street Journal, August 8, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-posts-its-largest-ever-quarterly-loss-11565295373
  3. [3]Eliot Brown and Sarah Nassauer, “Uber Cuts Third of Marketing Staff; Lyft Chief Operating Officer Exits,” Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-cuts-third-of-marketing-staff-lyft-chief-operating-officer-exits-11564430556

They’re taking our guns away!

As I have previously noted, the gun nuttery in Pennsylvania is strong and appears white supremacist in motivation.[1] Democrats might score a political point in pushing so-called “common sense” gun legislation,[2] but my version of “common sense” suggests they won’t change a single solitary thing. Read more

  1. [1]David Benfell, “‘Gun rights’ as white supremacism,” Not Housebroken, August 4, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/04/gun-rights-as-white-supremacism/; Jon Delano, “Lawrence Co. Lawmaker Wants To Abolish Concealed Carry Gun Permits,” KDKA, May 7, 2019, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2019/05/07/aaron-bernstine-abolish-pennsylvania-concealed-carry-law/
  2. [2]Bob Bauder, “Pittsburgh mayor Peduto, state lawmakers call for vote on Pa. gun bills,” TribLive, August 9, 2019, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/peduto-state-lawmakers-call-for-vote-on-gun-bills/

A bicycle on a steep downward slope towards a brick wall

As a hard Brexit looms (nothing has changed here—it is still the legal default[1]), as Boris Johnson’s government keeps pedaling its bicycle at a brick wall,[2] and as plotters plot to prevent it but lack a certain path to do so,[3] there was a suggestion that a “humble petition” might be passed by Parliament asking the Queen to travel to Brussels to ask for an extension to the Brexit deadline.[4] “Earlier this week, John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, threatened to send the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to Buckingham Palace ‘in a cab’ taxi to tell the Queen that the Opposition would be Labour is ‘taking over’ if Mr Johnson were to lose a no-confidence vote but refused to resign.”[5] (Would he bow?[6] Inquiring minds want to know.) It appears Her Majesty isn’t interested.[7]
Read more

  1. [1]Jack Maidment, “Brexit latest news: Theresa May’s deal defeated again by 58 votes – PM hints at general election to break deadlock,” Telegraph, March 29, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/03/29/brexit-latest-news-theresa-may-final-push-mps-prepare-vote-withdrawal/; Peter Walker, “Could parliament’s latest amendment stop no-deal Brexit?” Guardian, July 18, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/18/could-parliaments-latest-amendment-stop-no-deal-brexit; Josh Wilson, “No-deal Brexit odds: Latest predictions on leaving the EU without a deal,” Telegraph, August 2, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/0/no-deal-brexit-odds-latest-predictions-leaving-eu-without-deal/
  2. [2]Karla Adam and William Booth, “Could Boris Johnson’s ‘no-deal’ Brexit break up the United Kingdom?” Washington Post, July 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/could-boris-johnsons-no-deal-brexit-crack-up-the-united-kingdom/2019/07/29/b871ebac-b1e6-11e9-acc8-1d847bacca73_story.html; David Benfell, “The Disunited Kingdom,” Not Housebroken, July 31, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/31/the-disunited-kingdom/; David Benfell, “Boris Johnson might think he’s playing poker with the European Union, but he’s actually playing ‘chicken’—with a brick wall,” Not Housebroken, August 2, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/02/boris-johnson-might-think-hes-playing-poker-with-the-european-union-but-hes-actually-playing-chicken-with-a-brick-wall/; David Benfell, “The hatless mad hatters,” Not Housebroken, August 4, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/04/the-hatless-mad-hatters/; Daniel Boffey and Rowena Mason, “Boris Johnson has no intention of renegotiating Brexit deal, EU told,” Guardian, August 5, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/05/no-deal-brexit-is-boris-johnsons-central-scenario-eu-told; British Broadcasting Corporation, “Irish deputy PM Coveney: No deal Brexit would mean customs checks in Ireland,” July 21, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-politics-49062367/irish-deputy-pm-coveney-no-deal-brexit-would-mean-customs-checks-in-ireland; Amanda Ferguson and William Booth, “Northern Ireland’s politicians don’t agree on much. Except that Boris Johnson’s no-deal Brexit would be a disaster,” Washington Post, July 31, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/northern-irelands-politicians-dont-agree-on-much-except-that-boris-johnsons-no-deal-brexit-would-be-a-disaster/2019/07/31/c209affa-b2eb-11e9-acc8-1d847bacca73_story.html; Gwynne Dyer, “Boris Johnson is quite possibly the last prime minister of the United Kingdom,” Hamilton Spectator, July 24, 2019, https://www.thespec.com/opinion-story/9515926-gwynne-dyer-boris-johnson-is-quite-possibly-the-last-prime-minister-of-the-united-kingdom/; Peter Foster and Camilla Tominey, “Boris Johnson warned that ‘no deal’ Brexit will require return of ‘direct rule’ in Northern Ireland,” Telegraph, July 26, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/07/26/boris-johnson-warned-no-deal-brexit-will-require-return-direct/; Nick Hopkins, “UK less able to cope with hard Brexit than it was in spring, say officials,” Guardian, August 1, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/01/uk-less-able-to-cope-with-hard-brexit-than-in-spring-say-officials; Conor Humphries, “Irish PM says hard Brexit would raise issue of Irish unification,” Telegraph, July 27, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu-ireland-nireland-idUSKCN1UL280; Steven Morris, “No-deal Brexit would endanger rural life, says Welsh leader,” Guardian, July 30, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/30/no-deal-brexit-would-endanger-rural-way-of-life-says-welsh-leader; Lisa O’Carroll and Rowena Mason, “Johnson told no-deal Brexit will crush domestic policy plans,” Guardian, July 28, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/28/boris-johnson-ifg-no-deal-brexit-crush-domestic-policy-plans; Anna Mikhailova et al, “Michel Barnier rejects Boris Johnson’s ‘unacceptable’ Brexit plan,” Telegraph, July 25, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/07/25/boris-johnson-new-prime-minister-cabinet-parliament-brexit-latest/; Séamas O’Reilly, “Hard Brexiters’ stance on the Irish border is nonsense – I can tell you, I grew up there,” Guardian, August 7, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/07/northern-ireland-hard-border-brexit-customs; Andrew Sentance and David Blanchflower, “‘No-deal Brexit talk has hit home hard’ – two experts debate the data,” Guardian, July 31, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/jul/31/no-deal-brexit-talk-has-hit-home-hard-two-experts-debate-the-data; Heather Stewart, Lisa O’Carroll, and Daniel Boffey, “Brussels repels Boris Johnson’s quest for new Brexit deal,” Guardian, July 25, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/25/brussels-throws-out-boris-johnsons-plans-to-alter-brexit-deal; Tim Wallace, “‘Very real’ recession risk as economy contracts for first time in seven years,” Telegraph, August 9, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/08/09/recession-risk-now-real-economy-contracts-first-time-seven-years/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Okay, so really now, assuming they choose to do so, how do the British avoid a hard Brexit?” Not Housebroken, July 26, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/26/okay-so-really-now-assuming-they-choose-to-do-so-how-do-the-british-avoid-a-hard-brexit/; Edward Malnick, “Dominic Cummings tells MPs: you’ve missed your chance to stop no-deal Brexit,” Telegraph, August 3, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/08/03/dominic-cummings-tells-mps-missed-chance-stop-no-deal-brexit/; Oliver Wright, “Could Brexit rebels scupper conference season?” Times, August 8, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/could-brexit-rebels-scupper-conference-season-q7hqdh9w0
  4. [4]Nicholas Watt, “Brexit: Scheme to block no deal ‘could involve Queen,’” British Broadcasting Corporation, July 18, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-49040128
  5. [5]Christopher Hope and Harry Yorke, “Buckingham Palace and Downing Street plan to keep the Queen out of looming constitutional crisis over Brexit,” Telegraph, August 9, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/08/09/buckingham-palace-downing-street-plan-keep-queen-looming-constitutional/
  6. [6]Alex Finnis, “Why Jeremy Corbyn was actually correct not to bow to the Queen,” ShortList, June 22, 2017, https://www.shortlist.com/news/why-jeremy-corbyn-was-actually-correct-not-to-bow-to-the-queen
  7. [7]Christopher Hope and Harry Yorke, “Buckingham Palace and Downing Street plan to keep the Queen out of looming constitutional crisis over Brexit,” Telegraph, August 9, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/08/09/buckingham-palace-downing-street-plan-keep-queen-looming-constitutional/

Of course the cops don’t care about white supremacism

Law enforcement functions largely to protect property, of which the rich have a lot, and of which the poor have very little; and therefore the rich, whose needs are largely satisfied, against the poor, whose needs are not.[1] It is why you see a disproportionately large police presence in wealthy communities. And it is why you so rarely see police in poor communities and then mostly when something awful has happened. Read more

  1. [1]Steven E. Barkan, Criminology: A Sociological Understanding, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006).

The U.S. war on the poor in Venezuela and media complicity

Venezuela is a place (like North Korea) where I am not satisfied with the news coverage I’m getting. There is much too much demonization for credibility, demonization that seemed to me to intensify when Hugo Chávez ordered free heating oil for poor residents in the U.S.[1] And journalists have for much too long and much too often served as stenographers for political power, especially in foreign policy.[2] Read more

  1. [1]Rebekah Kebede, “Venezuela brings free heating oil to poor in NY,” Reuters, December 14, 2007, https://www.reuters.com/article/citgo-energy-bronx-assistance/venezuela-brings-free-heating-oil-to-poor-in-ny-idUSN1425588920071214
  2. [2]Herbert Altschull, Agents of Power: The Media and Public Policy, 2nd ed. (White Plains, NY: Longman, 1995); Noam Chomsky, Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies (Boston: South End, 1989); David Croteau and William Hoynes, Media/Society: Industries, Images, and Audiences, 3rd ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge, 2003); David Halberstam, The Powers That Be (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois, 2000); Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (New York: Pantheon, 2002).

War with Iran may be inevitable

The International Crisis Group has released a report comparing the situation between Iran and the U.S. to that just before World War I, saying that a provocation could spark a wider conflict today just as an assassination did then. It calls for third party mediation to de-escalate the conflict.[1] Read more

  1. [1]International Crisis Group, “Averting the Middle East’s 1914 Moment,” August 1, 2019, https://www.crisisgroup.org/middle-east-north-africa/gulf-and-arabian-peninsula/iran/205-averting-middle-easts-1914-moment

The hatless mad hatters

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Did Boris Johnson’s girl friend finally manage to run a brush through his hair? Undated image credited only to Getty Images Europe via the Telegraph.[1] Fair use.

Dominic Cummings appears[2] to have assessed the political situation for opponents of a hard Brexit much the way I did.[3] Read more

  1. [1]Edward Malnick, “Dominic Cummings tells MPs: you’ve missed your chance to stop no-deal Brexit,” Telegraph, August 3, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/08/03/dominic-cummings-tells-mps-missed-chance-stop-no-deal-brexit/
  2. [2]Edward Malnick, “Dominic Cummings tells MPs: you’ve missed your chance to stop no-deal Brexit,” Telegraph, August 3, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/08/03/dominic-cummings-tells-mps-missed-chance-stop-no-deal-brexit/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Okay, so really now, assuming they choose to do so, how do the British avoid a hard Brexit?” Not Housebroken, July 26, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/26/okay-so-really-now-assuming-they-choose-to-do-so-how-do-the-british-avoid-a-hard-brexit/

‘Gun rights’ as white supremacism

Relative to California, where I lived for over fifty years, Pennsylvania is weird about guns. Really weird.

I’m not just talking about your garden variety hunting rifles, handguns, or even machine guns. That would be like the Lawrence County state representative’s bill to legalize concealed carry without a permit.[1] Read more

  1. [1]Jon Delano, “Lawrence Co. Lawmaker Wants To Abolish Concealed Carry Gun Permits,” KDKA, May 7, 2019, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2019/05/07/aaron-bernstine-abolish-pennsylvania-concealed-carry-law/