…taking a turn [DOT 7/4/22]

or about face...

…what’s in a name?

The US has disrupted a global “botnet” controlled by Russia’s military intelligence agency, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Wednesday.
Last month Garland, who is America’s top law enforcement official, announced the launch of Task Force KleptoCapture, an interagency law enforcement task force dedicated to enforcing the sweeping sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
“The world sees what is happening in Ukraine. The justice department sees what is happening in Ukraine. This department has a long history of helping to hold accountable those who perpetrate war crimes.”

Attorney general also announces charges against Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev for sanctions violations [Guardian]

…I mean…for example…they call them supreme court justices…& currently they call it roberts’ court…so…how’s that working out?

Conservatives on the Supreme Court on Wednesday reinstated for now a Trump-era environmental rule that limited the ability of states to block projects that could pollute rivers and streams, a decision more notable because Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joined liberals in calling it an abuse of the court’s emergency powers.

The five members of the court who granted the request from Louisiana, other states and the oil and gas industry did not explain their reasoning, which is common in emergency requests at the court.
The majority’s order “renders the Court’s emergency docket not for emergencies at all,” Kagan wrote. “The docket becomes only another place for merits determinations — except made without full briefing and argument.”
Kagan said the applicants had waited months to bring the request and provided no evidence that they would suffer irreparable harm if the Supreme Court did not intervene, which is one of the essential elements necessary for putting on hold a lower court’s order.
Stephen Vladeck, a University of Texas law professor who has documented the court’s use of the shadow docket, said Wednesday’s order was significant for what it says about the chief justice’s role on the court.

“This is the ninth time that Chief Justice Roberts has publicly been on the short side of a 5-4 ruling since Justice Barrett’s confirmation,” Vladeck said. “Seven of the nine have been from shadow docket rulings. This is the first time, though, that he’s endorsed criticism of the shadow docket itself.”

The fight is over a rule put forward by the Environmental Protection Agency during the Trump administration. It limited objecting states’ ability to stop pipeline and other projects that could pollute navigable waters regulated by the Clean Water Act[…]

A coalition of states and environmental groups challenged the rule, saying it was at odds with 50 years of environmental regulations. After President Biden was elected, the agency said it would revise the rule and asked judges in three cases filed against the regulation to return the rule to the agency.
If allowed to stand, Louisiana and groups such as the American Petroleum Institute told the court, “the district court’s decision will become an easy-to-replicate blueprint for a new Administration’s premature elimination of rules adopted by the prior Administration, with the help of aligned plaintiffs and a single, sympathetic district court.”
Barrett in an address Monday told a California audience that in judging the court’s actions, citizens should read the court’s ruling. But a frequent criticism of the court’s “shadow docket” decisions is that often no reasoning is provided. That was true in Wednesday’s order.

Kagan, in her dissent, said the court’s precedents allow emergency intervention only in “extraordinary circumstances,” including that one of the parties will suffer irreparable injury.

The states wanting to stop Alsup’s decision did not even attempt that, she said.

“The applicants have not identified a single project that a State has obstructed in the five months since the District Court’s decision,” she wrote. “Still more, they have not cited a single project that the court’s ruling threatens, or is likely to threaten, in the time before the appellate process concludes.”

In a first, chief justice agrees conservatives’ ruling marked an abuse of the court’s emergency powers [WaPo]

…I’m not a lawyer…much less any kind of supreme justice…but I feel like if you want to cite something…like the reasoning presented in a ruling…the very least you can do might be to fucking present some reasoning…because the logic on display here seems plenty clear

“The request for a stay rests on simple assertions — on conjectures, unsupported by any present-day evidence, about what states will now feel free to do,” [Kagan] wrote. “And the application fails to show that proper implementation of the reinstated regulatory regime — which existed for 50 years before the vacated rule came into effect — is incapable of countering whatever state overreach may (but may not) occur.”

Supreme Court Revives Trump-Era Environmental Regulation [NYT]

…& the hypocrisy of judges flaunting impunity is surely a travesty of justice if it’s anything…it’s like none of these people ever so much as heard of due dilligence

Few facilitators in the U.S. financial system operate with as little oversight as the thousands of registered agents who often serve as the only publicly known contact for companies with anonymous owners.

Oligarchs, criminals and online scammers have reaped the benefits.
On most of the records, the only names listed were those of registered agents. In Wyoming, the owners of LLCs are not required to identify themselves, although some choose to do so on corporate filings. The Post and the [International Consortium of Investigative Journalists] found additional names linked to LLCs and other companies by scouring court documents and other government records.

Across the United States, registered agents provide routine corporate services, filing incorporation documents and annual reports. In many cases, they are the lone contact for anyone looking to sue companies or lodge a complaint.

Experts have warned for years that the sprawling industry — comprising attorneys, part-time participants and multistate specialty operations representing thousands of companies — is a weak point in the U.S. financial system. While banks must vet customers, registered agents aren’t uniformly required to verify their identities.

“If I were a criminal or ran a criminal enterprise, I would have a field day with registered agents, because I just need to find another adult with a pulse,” said Sarah Beth Felix, a former banking compliance executive. “Who’s going to make sure they are doing the right thing?”
The matter has taken on fresh urgency since Russia invaded Ukraine, prompting governments to trace and freeze assets held by oligarchs close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. After the war began on Feb. 24, a coalition of experts called on Congress to pass the Enablers Act and other measures, pointing to revelations in the Pandora Papers that Russian billionaire Igor Makarov secretly held real estate and a 13-seat private jet through an LLC and trust in Wyoming. Makarov has previously said through his attorney that he has no personal relationship with Putin and that his trust was properly disclosed.
Some agents, however, have massive client lists — one operation in Delaware notes that it has represented more than 300,000 companies. Smaller agents may not have the means or ability to track down clients, particularly those who live abroad, experts say.
“It’s like dealing with a three-card monte dealer. Can you find the card?” said Stuart Rossman, litigation director at the National Consumer Law Center, who said he often has to hunt for registered agents when filing fraud complaints against companies with no known address or other point of contact. “I’m chasing smoke, and it’s intentional.”
Stung by reports of anonymous companies financing arms dealers, human traffickers and other criminals, some states have tightened requirements for registered agents.
Fixing the system of registered agents is critical not only to the country’s efforts to prevent money laundering, reformers say, but also to protecting consumers from fraud.
“It would be impossible to find a commercial registered agent that does not have companies they provide services to that are not named as defendants in lawsuits on occasion,” [Registered Agents Inc.][Company lawyer Bryce Myrvang] said.

The gatekeepers who open America to shell companies and secret owners [WaPo]

…& it’s weird how transferable the approach seems to be…or even some of the terminology on occasion…although I suppose not all agents are necessarily registered…for some it’s more of a de facto attribute that somehow conspires to escape their notice…along with a great many things that might seem readily apparent to…say…a casual observer?

On Tuesday, 63 House Republicans voted against a symbolic resolution reaffirming support for NATO and its principles, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The “no” votes comprised more than 30 percent of the party’s conference.
Few Republicans have commented on their reasons for opposing the resolution, but writer Will Saletan previewed the vote Tuesday by noting a number of ways in which the party has drifted in a more Russia-ambivalent and even NATO-skeptical direction. Among the emerging views he isolated: that NATO was at fault for provoking Vladimir Putin, that we should focus instead on our own Southern border, and that the United States has no business defending European allies, whether in NATO or otherwise.

The Senate in 2018 passed a bill reaffirming support for NATO 97-2 — a pretty direct rebuke to Trump given that he was, at that precise time, traveling to a NATO summit in Brussels (and would later go to Helsinki, the site of his infamous news conference with Putin). Weeks later, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill that would have prevented Trump from withdrawing from NATO. By 2019, the House passed a bill dubbed the “NATO Support Act,” which would have prevented using any funds “to take any action to withdraw the United States from the North Atlantic Treaty.” Again, the vote was overwhelmingly bipartisan; just 22 Republicans opposed it — a who’s who of the most extreme members of the party. (The bill was not taken up by the Senate.)

GOP opposition to the latest resolution in support of NATO is significantly higher. And that’s despite the new measure being entirely symbolic and its predecessor having been seen, very logically, as a rebuke to Trump. The 2019 measure had also called for supporting “robust United States funding for the European Deterrence Initiative, which increases the ability of the United States and its allies to deter and defend against Russian aggression.”

One wonders how those same House Republicans would vote on such a measure today. Regardless, all of it suggests the party is still evolving on this issue — and certainly not in a pro-NATO direction.

Why 30 percent of the House GOP voted against reaffirming NATO support [WaPo]

…evolving isn’t exactly in their wheelhouse, though…it’s been a while since they did much but metastasize

Before we get to the fact that I spent my lunch hour emailing with an editor of the Oxford English Dictionary to find out whether “tallywhacker” was an officially recognized euphemism for “penis,” a brief recap of how we got here:

Last month Republican lawmakers went fishing for a “gotcha” at Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings, and thought they’d found one when Jackson declined a request from Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) to “provide a definition for the word ‘woman.’” Jackson replied that she was “not a biologist.”

Of course, this wasn’t a biology test, it was a culture-war test, and conservatives were more than willing to inform Jackson she had failed. “The meaning of the word ‘woman’ is so unclear and controversial that you can’t give me a definition?” Blackburn marveled, setting off waves of complaints about woke liberals and activist judges, and presenting Tucker Carlson with Christmas in March.
“I’m going to tell you right now what is a woman,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) informed the audience at a GOP event after namechecking Jackson. “This is an easy answer. We’re a creation of God. We came from Adam’s rib. God created us with his hands. We may be the weaker sex — we are the weaker sex — but we are our partner — we are our husband’s wife.”

Meanwhile Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), already in the news cycle for implying that cocaine and orgies were par for the course on Capitol Hill, decided to extend his moment in the sun by lecturing Nancy Pelosi from the House floor. “Science isn’t Burger King; you can’t just ‘have it your way,’” he said. “Take notes, Madame Speaker. I’m about to define what a woman is for you,” he said. “X chromosomes, no tallywhacker. It’s so simple.”

And this is where I got the poor OED editor involved, just to make sure I understood exactly what Cawthorn was talking about. She explained that “tallywhacker” is likely an Americanism, a variant of the word “tallywag,” which means “the testicles; the male genitals,” though Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “a sea bass of the Atlantic Coast.”

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) was asked by a HuffPost reporter to define “woman,” and replied, “Someone who can give birth to a child, a mother, is a woman. Someone who has a uterus is a woman. It doesn’t seem that complicated to me.” When the reporter asked him whether a woman whose uterus was removed via hysterectomy was still a woman, he appeared uncertain: “Yeah. Well, I don’t know, would they?”

…how the fuck is that a complicated question…even for this guy

…but seriously…despite the undeniable flaws in the supposed logic on display by these assholes…numerous people are willing to at least act like they take them seriously

Let’s assume some basic things: that Marjorie Taylor Greene believes that all humans, not just women, are “creations of God”; and that Greene considered herself a woman long before she became her “husband’s wife.” Presumably she is not suggesting that a woman who is unmarried is in fact a man.
Again, this definition was the very best that Greene could come up with two full weeks after gloating on Twitter that Judge Jackson, “can’t define ‘woman’ so can’t say for sure whether her own two daughters are women.”

Cawthorn’s definition (XX chromosomes, tallywhacker-free) made me wonder what the congressman would make of former gymnastics champion Melissa Marlowe — or the other millions of women with Turner syndrome, a genetic disorder defined by a missing X chromosome. I wonder how he would determine the gender of an intersex individual who had reproductive characteristics of both sexes. Via a coin flip? A ruler?

As for Josh Hawley, I’ll say only that I can’t wait to inform my mother that since her uterus was removed when she was 35 via a medically necessary hysterectomy, she hasn’t been a woman in 26 years. Perhaps she will be consoled if I add that the senator sounded like he hadn’t really thought very hard about it: In the same exchange reported by HuffPost, he seemed to change his definition of “woman” to require not a uterus but a vagina: “I mean, a woman has a vagina, right?”

(Please note that by Hawley’s new definition he would be forced to accept trans women, post-gender affirming surgery, as women too.)

I’m not trying to pick at Greene, Cawthorn or Hawley for the fun of it. They had suggested that defining “woman” was simple, and I’m here to say that it’s not. Not when you take the question seriously, and look for answers outside your own immediate experiences and intuitions. Which is why when these lawmakers attempted to show how much smarter they were on gender science than a judge who takes things seriously for a living, what came out was gobbledygook.
I think what they were expressing was not a knowledge of biology, but rather a fear of living in a world they could not easily categorize based on what they already think they know. One in which women might not look or sound or behave exactly as they believe women should, and so the best way to define “woman” is to ask the woman in question. Does she live as a woman? Does she undergo the trials and tribulations and joys of a woman? Does she believe she is a woman?

“Provide a definition for the word ‘woman,’” Blackburn dared Biden’s Supreme Court nominee.

Ketanji Brown Jackson could not do so. And neither could the people who said it should be easy.

Republicans thought defining a ‘woman’ is easy. Then they tried. [WaPo]

…still…when it comes to defining characteristics…some are certainly more enviable than others

Instagram “systemically fails” to protect high-profile women from the “epidemic” of misogynistic abuse through direct messages, a study published Wednesday suggests.
“Instagram has chosen to side with abusers by negligently creating a culture in which abusers expect no consequences — denying women dignity and their ability to use digital spaces without harassment,” [CCDH CEO Imran] Ahmed said.
In addition to the systemic flaws, the study also revealed that Instagram failed to act on all 125 recorded examples of image-based sexual abuse, such as unsolicited nude photos. Instagram’s direct message function allows anyone to send unsolicited images, voice calls and other forms of harassment “at any time and in large volumes,” without consent.

Instagram ‘systemically fails’ to protect high-profile women from abuse, study finds [NBC]

Women on Instagram are exposed to an “epidemic of misogynist abuse,” according to a new report.

The Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), a nonprofit focused on online hate and misinformation, worked with five high-profile women, including actor Amber Heard, to analyze more than 8,717 direct messages the women received.
In one shocking statistic, the CCDH found that Instagram didn’t act on 90 percent of abuse sent via direct message to the women in this study, despite the messages being reported to moderators.
“Harassment, violent threats, image-based sexual abuse can be sent by strangers, at any time and in large volumes, directly into your DMs without consent and platforms do nothing to stop it,” the report warns.
Harassment against women has long been a problem on Instagram. Last year, 16 percent of female journalists reported incidents of online violence to Instagram, according to a report by UNESCO and the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) on online attacks. Young women have reported being harassed by “hate pages” on the app, set up specifically to troll them. In 2020, a poll conducted by the women’s rights group Plan International found that online abuse is driving girls to quit social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, with nearly 60 percent experiencing harassment.
The CCDH’s research shows that 1 in 15 Instagram DMs sent by strangers to high-profile women contain content that violates Instagram’s own community guidelines.
Instagram DMs are regularly used to send image-based sexually abusive and pornographic content, according to the report. Users choose to send these illicit photos and abusive messages to women through private messaging to escape the scrutiny that comes with a public post.
Many users send abusive or threatening messages using voice notes. The CCDH’s research showed that 1 in 7 voice notes within their participants’ data were abusive. One voice note was sent to Heard saying, “You, I don’t like you, you are bad people. Die! Die! Die! Die! DIE!” The only action she could take was to react with an emoji.
It was also difficult for these women to download their data or evidence of abusive messages, the report found. No one in the CCDH’s study was provided with a record of messages previously sent to them by blocked accounts, despite requesting their full messaging history from Instagram. Having a paper trail of abuse is crucial when contacting authorities or cataloguing abusers across platforms.
When women are met with an unrelenting barrage of online hate in intimate spaces such as DMs, it results in a chilling effect on free speech, the report said. Women in the report described fearing for their safety in speaking out and how fearful and isolated the online violence made them feel.
Black women and women of color, LGBTQ people and other systematically marginalized groups are especially likely to experience online attacks. One in 4 Black Americans have faced online harassment because of their race or ethnicity, a Pew Research Center study found in 2017. The messages women of color receive often mix racism with misogyny.


…I suppose…how should I put this…that trio who seemed so certain they knew what a woman was…two of which lacked what you might assume was the basic advantage of being one…I’m guessing when it comes to the target-of-incessant-abuse part…their perceptions might differ a little…which is odd since you’d think all three pretty certainly receive their fair share of abuse…but maybe that’s where they hone their abilities to really buckle down & ignore shit that’s right there in front of us

At the White House’s news briefing on Tuesday, a reporter pointed out that a recent poll “showed more people think jobs were lost in the last year than think jobs were gained.” Not unreasonably, he asked: “Why is that? And is there anything that you can do to change that perception?”

You could almost see White House press secretary Jen Psaki’s thought bubble: Welcome to my world. “The fact is that the president created more jobs last year than any year in American history,” she said. “That is a very simple fact that I probably cannot say enough from here, and our allies and partners cannot say enough out there in the country.”

So why do voters seem determined to believe things that aren’t true? One can attribute some dissatisfaction to the relentless “sky is falling” media coverage. But let’s face it: Voters are grumpy, frustrated and tired after covid and annoyed about gas prices. They might know Biden spent months trying to pass his agenda but didn’t get what he wanted. And so confirmation bias is likely setting in for a lot of Americans, telling them everything must be bad.
It was a sobering peek into the psyche of voters. If they don’t know jobs have been created, how can Democrats expect them to know that Republicans voted against covid funding, food assistance, and funding for states and cities to keep cops on the beat (all in the American Rescue Plan)? Or that most Republicans voted against infrastructure spending? What can the president and his team do about such an information void?
And speaking of Republicans, Biden needs to bury his senatorial cordiality. Unless and until Biden stops touting how reasonable and constructive Republicans can be, voters will think there is no harm putting them back in power. Surely, Biden knows only three Republicans are willing to vote for arguably the most qualified Supreme Court nominee in decades while many others smeared her with ludicrous claims that she is soft on child porn. Could he show just a little disgust about that? He need only explain what they have been doing: They obstruct. They create chaos. They try to steal elections. They aren’t for anything.


…that might be unfair…they do after all seem to be for making people who profit enormously get to siphon more wealth out of their magic system of free market value…sorry…might have meant magical thinking about systemic attributes of markets

Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, made the comparison in a characteristically blunt speech to the European parliament as he urged Europe to send more arms to Ukraine to help end the war.

“We have to continue arming Ukraine. We need less rounds of applause and more assistance,” he said. The EU had pledged €1bn in military aid for Ukraine, he said, which “might seem a lot” but “€1bn is what we pay Putin every day for the energy he provides us. Since the beginning of the war we have given him €35bn. Compare that to the €1bn we have given to Ukraine in arms and weapons.”


…but it’s not like that sort of thing is important or relevant to anything just now, right?

Amid a swirl of partisan finger-pointing on who is responsible for rising energy prices, executives of six large oil and gas companies defended themselves on Wednesday against criticisms that they are seeking to boost corporate profits by refusing to produce more oil and gas.
Trying to duck the political debate, the executives said they were not engaging in price gouging and were merely responding to global commodity prices that were out of their control. They also said they were working to shift to cleaner energy.
In reality, the loosening of pandemic restrictions has increased demand for gas when supply is not rising quickly enough. Both supply and demand are being driven by factors that are out of the control of Mr. Biden and Congress.
A recent NBC News poll showed that despite broad support for banning Russian oil imports, the majority of Americans were still worried about gas prices. Polls have shown Mr. Biden’s approval ratings to be near the lowest of his presidency, at about 40 percent, suggesting that Americans hold him responsible even if they support some of his foreign policies.
Progressives have also tried to use the spike in energy and gas prices to push for investments in clean energy in order to reduce the reliance on foreign authoritarian leaders and oil companies. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in a report published this week that the world needs to significantly accelerate efforts to slash greenhouse gas emissions from oil and other fossil fuels in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit.
Right now, oil companies are making record profits. Exxon Mobil said this week that its profits in the first three months of the year could total $11 billion, the most the company has made in a quarter since 2008, when the price of a barrel of oil topped $140.

Exxon has cut spending and its work force in recent years, even while increasing production in the Permian Basin, which straddles Texas and New Mexico, and off the coast of Guyana. Darren Woods, the company’s chief executive and one of the witnesses at the Wednesday hearing, has insisted that Exxon is working to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions while meeting the country’s energy needs but that it is not responsible for rising prices.


…but we can’t all be economists…which some of us might consider a blessing…but at least one person definitely doesn’t

Expectations matter in economics. If people think inflation will rise, they will behave in ways that will help make it rise (e.g., asking for bigger raises). If they think the economy is about to grow robustly, they will get more confident, spend more and help create the future they anticipate.

But what happens if people’s expectations are based on an unorthodox view of how the economy works? That’s a question raised by a fascinating paper released in January that finds big gaps between how most economists view the world and how ordinary people think things work.

In textbook economic theory, for example, raising interest rates makes borrowing more expensive, which cools off economic growth and causes inflation to fall. But in a survey of 6,500 U.S. households, the researchers found that 57 percent of respondents thought that a rise in the federal funds rate, the short-term interest rate the Federal Reserve controls, would lead to a rise in inflation. That’s nearly twice as many as the 30 percent who thought it would lead to a fall in inflation.

Likewise, while 80 percent of the 1,500 economists surveyed for the paper thought that a rise in government spending would lead to a decline in the unemployment rate, only 43 percent of the general public agreed, and 39 percent thought higher spending would actually make unemployment worse.
But for now, let’s stipulate that the textbook policy prescriptions are correct and consider the difficulty that this disconnect with the public creates for policymakers. Imagine that the Federal Reserve wants to quell inflation by raising interest rates, but in so doing it makes a lot of people believe — and behave as if — inflation is going to rise. That’s a fail. Or imagine that Congress wants to stimulate the economy, but its deficit spending partly backfires by making a lot of people tighten their belts because they see trouble ahead.
Unexpected inflation is great for debtors, and there’s no bigger debtor than the federal government of the United States. Inflation doesn’t just raise prices; all else being equal, it also increases the number of dollars that the government receives in taxes. Past debts remain fixed, so their “real” carrying cost — that is, interest payments adjusted for inflation — goes down.
Real net interest payments averaged about 1 percent over the last four decades and were about 2 percent in the 1990s, the Office of Management and Budget says in a supplementary document.

Even when inflation-adjusted interest payments are positive, as they probably will be later this decade, the burden of paying them becomes lighter if the payments grow more slowly than the inflation-adjusted growth of the economy. But that’s a separate phenomenon that’s not discussed in the budget documents.

Olivier Blanchard, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, told me that the figures […] demonstrate that a nation’s ratio of debt to gross domestic product, which is a commonly cited measure, is an inadequate gauge of affordability. “It’s like saying people have a mortgage which is three times their income,” said Blanchard, who is now a senior fellow of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “Whether that’s an issue depends on the interest rate.” The inflation-adjusted interest rate, that is.

Ordinary People Don’t Think Like Economists. It’s a Problem. [NYT]

…don’t get me wrong…there are plenty of smart economists…very probably plenty that are specifically smarter than me…but…in layman’s terms…in a world where (even if it’s subject to a temporary rain-check) the price…in a very real & financial sense…of higher education is supposedly reflective of the value of the knowledge thereby accrued…how come universities then get to divide by zero?

The job posting for an assistant adjunct professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, set high expectations for candidates: A Ph.D. in chemistry or biochemistry, a strong teaching record at the college level, and three to five letters of recommendation.

But there was a catch: The job would be on a “without salary basis,” as the posting phrased it. Just to be clear, it hammered home the point: “Applicants must understand there will be no compensation for this position.”
But the unspoken secret had been fleetingly exposed: Free labor is a fact of academic life.

“These arrangements are common in academia,” Bill Kisliuk, a spokesman for U.C.L.A., told Inside Higher Ed when at first defending the job posting.
Contingent faculty, the umbrella term for all kinds of generally part-time and untenured college teachers without much if any job security, make up a huge portion of the teaching staff of universities — by some estimates, around 70 percent overall and more in community colleges.

They have long complained about the long hours and low pay. But these unpaid arrangements are perhaps the most concrete example of the unequal power in a weak labor market — in which hundreds of candidates might apply for one position. Institutions are able to persuade or cajole people who have invested at least five or six years in earning a Ph.D. to work for free, even though, academics said, these jobs rarely lead to a tenure-track position.
And the instructors who are pressed into teaching without job security are often women or minorities, who began entering academia in force as the system was shifting to contingent faculty, said Dr. Berry, who recently co-wrote a book on the subject called “Power Despite Precarity.”

In a previous book, Dr. Berry said, he has a page listing all the terms that have been used for contingent faculty: One of them is “uncompensated.”
“From my perspective it doesn’t matter whether someone had another job or another position, or is a retired professor who wanted to come back and teach, or a refugee scholar who needed a position, or a postdoc doing research who wanted or needed to teach,” Dr. McIver said, rattling off possible justifications. “Ultimately, all of that doesn’t matter because anyone who teaches at a university or any school, let alone the University of California, should be paid for their labor.”
In an indication of how widespread the practice of free teaching may be, the Twitter posts reacting to the U.C.L.A. job posting included one from Caitlin DeAngelis, a historian. In 2018, while being paid to work as a research associate on a project about the historical connections between Harvard and slavery, she said that she voluntarily taught a course, called “Harvard and Slavery,” normally taught by a tenured professor. She did so because she cared so deeply about the subject.

“The course was an extra responsibility added on (as a lectureship in the history department) that did not come with additional pay,” she said in a text message.


…after all…much in the way of investments that can go up or down in value…so can the cost of experience

The war zone comparisons may not have been far off the mark: In a study published Tuesday in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, researchers reported that the levels of mental health distress felt by doctors, nurses, first responders and other health care personnel early in the pandemic were comparable to what’s seen in soldiers who served in combat zones.
What health care workers faced early in the pandemic is a type of post-traumatic stress called “moral injury,” said Jason Nieuwsma, a clinical psychologist at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, and author of the new report.

Moral injury can manifest in different ways, including feelings of guilt or shame after having participated in an extraordinarily high-stress situation that required immediate and often life-or-death decision-making. It can also manifest as feelings of betrayal.
For health care workers, moral injury stemmed from being unable to provide adequate care to dying patients and to seeing others around them flagrantly refuse to take steps to slow the spread of the virus.
The study found one particular form of moral injury — betrayal — was reported among 51 percent of surveyed health care workers, compared with 46 percent of veterans.
“The worst is people openly expressing mistrust of the medical and scientific community after everything we’ve done for them,” one health care worker wrote.
“Morbidity and mortality is increasing for patients WITHOUT covid because of the chaos and lack of accountability throughout the hospital system,” one person wrote. “The excuse is always, ‘things are crazy right now because of Covid.’ Before December, I’d never had a patient die due to physician negligence — I’ve now had two.”


…so if the battle seems to be against the forces of morally injurious encouragement of harm

“Climate activists are sometimes depicted as dangerous radicals, but the truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing the production of fossil fuels.” – United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres

I’m a climate scientist and a desperate father. How can I plead any harder? What will it take? What can my colleagues and I do to stop this catastrophe unfolding now all around us with such excruciating clarity?
Even limiting heating to below 2°C, a level of heating that in my opinion could threaten civilization as we know it, would require emissions to peak before 2025. As UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in the press conference on Monday: “Investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure is moral and economic madness.” And yet, this is precisely what President Biden, most other world leaders, and major banks are doing. It’s no exaggeration to say that Chase and other banks are contributing to murder and neocide through their fossil fuel finance.

Earth breakdown is much worse than most people realize. The science indicates that as fossil fuels continue to heat our planet, everything we love is at risk. For me, one of the most horrific aspects of all this is the juxtaposition of present-day and near-future climate disasters with the “business as usual” occurring all around me. It’s so surreal that I often find myself reviewing the science to make sure it’s really happening, a sort of scientific nightmare arm-pinch. Yes, it’s really happening.

If everyone could see what I see coming, society would switch into climate emergency mode and end fossil fuels in just a few years.
Nothing has worked. It’s now the eleventh hour and I feel terrified for my kids, and terrified for humanity. I feel deep grief over the loss of forests and corals and diminishing biodiversity. But I’ll keep fighting as hard as I can for this Earth, no matter how bad it gets, because it can always get worse. And it will continue to get worse until we end the fossil fuel industry and the exponential quest for ever more profit at the expense of everything else. There is no way to fool physics.

Martin Luther King Jr said, “He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” Out of necessity, and after exhaustive efforts, I’ve joined the ranks of those who selflessly risk their freedom and put their bodies on the line for the Earth, despite ridicule from the ignorant and punishment from a colonizing legal system designed to protect the planet-killing interests of the rich. It’s time we all join them. The feeling of solidarity is a wonderful balm.

As for the climate scientists? We’ve been trying to tell you this whole time.


…it seems pretty easy to identify the ranks of enemy combatants…for example…when it comes time for some additional funding there’s a curious amount of feet being dragged

Senate Republicans unanimously voted to block an effort to advance the $10 billion [supposedly bipartisan] legislation, struck by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah. GOP senators demanded votes on amendments to the legislation that would revoke Biden’s move and reinstate the policy.
“Senate Republicans blocked a mere debate on Covid aid, knowing full well the consequences for the American people,” Schumer said Wednesday on the floor. “And why did Republicans say no? Because they want to cripple Covid funding legislation with poison pills that they knew would derail this bill.”
The blockade could mean the Covid relief package will not be passed until after the Senate returns from a two-week recess, scheduled to begin at the end of the week. The chamber is juggling the issue with an expected confirmation vote this week for Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said he believed the legislation would be punted until after the recess. “I think it’s unlikely that we’ll get the Covid relief bill done before the break,” he said.
“I’m not a procedural expert to tell you how long it will take, particularly with the Judge Jackson vote coming up, so we’ll see,” Romney said when asked Tuesday whether the Covid bill can pass before senators leave town.
Exacerbating President Joe Biden’s headache is the fact that a group of centrist and politically vulnerable Democrats joined Republicans in calling on him to reinstate the Trump-era border policy (although they haven’t insisted on attaching it to the Covid bill).

The seven Democrats breaking with Biden on Title 42 are Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia; Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona; Jon Tester of Montana; Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire; Raphael Warnock of Georgia; Mark Kelly of Arizona; and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada. (The first three are the most conservative members of the Democratic caucus; the other four face re-election this fall.)

And one Democrat, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, objected to the Schumer-Romney deal, accusing Republicans of forcing the inclusion of a pay-for that would harm rural parts of his state.
It is unclear how many total amendments Republicans want votes on in order to move the Covid bill, but several under discussion include allowing insurance companies to purchase therapeutics and addressing the fentanyl drug smuggling crisis at the border.


…funding doesn’t seem so hard to come by for…well…let’s be polite & just call it idiocy, shall we?

The coalition, called the Rockbridge Network, includes some of Mr. Trump’s biggest donors, such as Peter Thiel and Rebekah Mercer, and has laid out an ambitious goal — to reshape the American right by spending more than $30 million on conservative media, legal, policy and voter registration projects, among other initiatives.

The emergence of Rockbridge, the existence of which has not previously been reported, comes amid escalating jockeying among conservative megadonors to shape the 2022 midterms and the future of the Republican Party from outside the formal party machinery, and often with little disclosure.

In February, another previously unreported coalition of donors, the Chestnut Street Council, organized by the Trump-allied lobbyist Matt Schlapp, held a meeting to hear a pitch for new models for funding the conservative movement.
Taken together, the jockeying highlights frustration on the right with the political infrastructure that surrounds the Republican Party, and, in some cases, with its politicians, as well as disagreements about its direction as Mr. Trump teases another presidential run.
The willingness of donors to organize on their own underscores the migration of power and money away from the official organs of the respective parties, which are required to disclose their donors, to outside groups that often have few disclosure requirements. It also reflects a concern among some influential Republicans that the political right faces a disadvantage when it comes to nonprofit groups that support the candidates and causes of each party.
“We need to show our side is organized and has the necessary institutional know-how and financial support, in order to have any shot at winning future elections,” reads a brochure for the Rockbridge Network.

The brochure, which circulated in Republican finance circles this year, calls Rockbridge “a kind of political venture capital firm” that will “leverage our investors’ capital with the right political expertise” to “replace the current Republican ecosystem of think tanks, media organizations and activist groups that have contributed to the Party’s decline with better action-oriented, more effective people and institutions that are focused on winning.”

Among the initiatives cited in the Rockbridge brochure are media-related functions — including public relations, messaging, polling, “influencer programs” and investigative journalism — with a combined budget of $8 million.

A “lawfare and strategic litigation” effort with a projected cost of $3.75 million is intended to use the courts “to hold bad actors, including the media, accountable.” A “transition project,” with an estimated price tag of $3 million, is intended to assemble policy experts and plans to create a “government-in-waiting” to “staff the next Republican administration.”
A person familiar with Rockbridge described those projects, and their fund-raising goals, as aspirational, and said the coalition had so far focused on allocating donor funds to pre-existing groups to accomplish its goals, rather than creating new ones.
Arizona was the site of Rockbridge’s first summit, which was held last year. It featured a speech by Mr. Thiel, the billionaire tech investor. He and Ms. Mercer, the daughter of the hedge fund magnate Robert Mercer, were among Mr. Trump’s biggest donors in 2016, and worked closely together on his presidential transition team.

Since then, Mr. Thiel has emerged as a key kingmaker, supporting 16 Senate and House candidates, some of whom have also been backed by Ms. Mercer. Many of their candidates have embraced the lie that Mr. Trump won the 2020 election.
Mr. Schlapp, who helped expand the Koch brothers’ political operation more than 15 years ago, said he created the Chestnut Street Council because donors approached him after the 2020 election “expressing frustration with the more normal routes for funding political operations.”
He suggested that the group would support legal battles over voting rules.
The Conservative Partnership Institute, has sought to become “the hub of the conservative movement.” It claimed in its 2021 annual report to have played a role in the creation of several new conservative nonprofits, including America First Legal, which is led by former Trump aide Stephen Miller; the Center for Renewing America, led by another Trump alumnus, Russ Vought; and the American Cornerstone Institute, led by Ben Carson, the former secretary of housing and urban development.
The group also houses the Election Integrity Network, which is led by Cleta Mitchell, the conservative lawyer who was on the hourlong call with Georgia officials and Mr. Trump when the then-president pressured them to “find” enough votes to flip the result.
Such groups have far fewer disclosure requirements than campaigns and political action committees. Funding hubs like the Conservative Partnership Institute and another nonprofit network shaped by the judicial activist Leonard A. Leo are required to disclose their grants to other groups, but not the donors who supplied the cash, while donor coalitions like the Rockbridge Network and Chestnut Street Council will likely not be required to disclose either.
Recent private gatherings hosted in Colorado and Palm Beach, Fla., by Mr. Singer’s coalition, the American Opportunity Alliance, drew appearances by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, former Vice President Mike Pence and Nikki Haley, a former United Nations ambassador.

Representative Tom Emmer of Minnesota, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, was expected to speak at the Rockbridge Network meeting in Palm Beach this week.

Dissatisfied With Their Party, Wealthy Republican Donors Form Secret Coalitions [NYT]

…it’s maybe more by way of being an open secret at this point

It would, activists testify, restore the public’s waning trust in vital US institutions, curb the corrupting influence of big money in politics and give America’s ailing democracy a much-needed shot in the arm.

It is also, they acknowledge, dead on arrival.

An amendment to the US constitution was last week proposed by Congressman Adam Schiff to overturn a 2010 precedent set by the supreme court, known as Citizens United, which opened the floodgates for corporations and special interests to pour billions of dollars into election campaigns.
Such a move has broad public support in America but little chance of getting through Congress itself. Amending the constitution requires support from a two-thirds majority in both the House of Representatives and Senate plus ratification by three-quarters of state legislatures.
“Citizens United has been a disaster for the American political system even beyond what we expected,” said Noah Bookbinder, president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (Crew) “We knew it was bad when it happened but the amount of money going into the political system has exploded since that decision, including a massive expansion in third-party spending, particularly unaccountable dark money spending.”
“So much of that money comes from sources that are difficult or impossible to identify. The public doesn’t know who’s responsible for this money in American politics. It’s been catastrophic and it does need to be fixed.”
Bookbinder added: “It certainly does give more power to powerful interests like the fossil fuel companies, the drug companies, the major banks and all the biggest money industries as well as individual billionaires who can put a great deal of money into the political system, often in ways that the public doesn’t know about but that elected officials do know about and feel beholden to.

“That’s a real problem. When you see a lack of progress on issues like climate change, how much of that is due to the fact that so many elected officials are beholden to powerful figures connected to industries that don’t want progress?”
Bookbinder said: “The other piece that is really dangerous is that the American people understand that there is so much money going into politics from very wealthy people and from industries and they feel like the democracy is not working for them.

“It makes people lose their faith in democracy and become more willing potentially to either support leaders who don’t believe necessarily in democracy – we’ve seen that in recent years – or to be less concerned with defending the democracy from threats. That’s another way in which it can be kind of existential in the effect that it has.”

Dark money: the quixotic quest to clean up US campaign financing [Guardian]

…which, it seems to go without saying…falls under the feature-not-a-bug heading for one side of the aisle…& their deep-pocketed enablers…in fact when it comes to money in politics…you might almost say it’s writ large

“The consequences of this poll will be important,” [Musk] intoned. “Please vote carefully.”

His tease, as it turned out, was something of a scam. Musk had already snagged a piece of the platform, two weeks before pretending to allow the proletariat any say. This was fitting — because scamminess might well be at the heart of the acquisition.
Musk obviously plans to do something to Twitter. Otherwise he wouldn’t have joined its board — and he wouldn’t have promised, as he did on Tuesday, “significant improvements” ahead.

The problem is, the site Musk’s acolytes had been advocating before he decided to spend his way into Twitter could never really exist. For one, how can you ensure unimpeded expression while also ensuring an absence of spam and propaganda? Being too permissive with some people’s speech can end up threatening other people’s speech. Loosening today’s status quo would most likely entail handing back the mic to at least some of the hateful, harassing voices disciplined under current Twitter rules.

And just as allowing bots to run amok could fill a platform with so much garbage that genuine conversation would become difficult to fish out, letting the loudest people drown out quieter ones wouldn’t really make everyone free.

Equally untenable is the idea many Musk-lovers embrace that a decentralized platform could ever be disinformation-free. Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, who in November abruptly resigned as chief executive, also wanted to turn the platform into an open protocol, which basically would have meant that users could pick and choose the algorithms dictating what appeared in their feeds. If you didn’t like mainstream news, for instance, you could decide to stop seeing it — and elect to see so-called alternative news, or just a bunch of videos of cute animals.
The argument against this, however, is also obvious: Centralization allows an authority to remove malign material using all the resources deepish-pocketed members of the Internet ecosystem can bring to bear, which keeps things safer. And besides, the people don’t always pick what’s best for them; inviting individuals to separate themselves further into political silos, or to hurl themselves down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories, is just what the country doesn’t need.
So why would Musk get into this game? The answer might well be just that: because it’s a game.

Musk has basically hacked platform-building by platform-buying. Which is wise. “Muskbook” would undoubtedly have met much the same fate as Gab and Gettr and Parler, sad little lib-free spaces where trolls troll other trolls, able to read and respond only to echoes of their own voices. Even the richest guy on the planet couldn’t hope to compete off the bat with networking behemoths such as Facebook and, to a lesser extent, Twitter — so he’s just becoming Twitter instead.


We have tons of evidence by now about the dangers of allowing people to tweet irresponsibly. Just look at how a single tweet by former President Donald Trump seems to have been interpreted by his followers as a call to storm the Capitol in January 2021, the way Russians used social media to influence the 2016 election and how coronavirus vaccine misinformation has spread virulently on social media. Social networks now face enormously difficult decisions about how to police their platforms to solve these problems of violence and misinformation. So it’s essential that they have incredibly responsible and civic-minded people at their helms.

Musk, however, has proven himself to be anything but responsible and civic-minded. Take a look at his own behavior on Twitter.[…]As part of his 2019 settlement with the [SEC], Musk’s tweets about many aspects of his company now have to be vetted by lawyers before he posts them. It’s an agreement that the SEC has accused Musk of violating repeatedly.
As we head into another presidential election and are seeing the spread of another Covid subvariant, it’s more important than ever to ensure that social media doesn’t continue to promote violence or misinformation. It’s astounding that Twitter would call on someone like Musk to help oversee a company that urgently needs to crack down on the very kinds of bad behavior that he himself has been responsible for on its platform.

Elon Musk’s joining Twitter’s board of directors should sound alarm bells [NBC]

…whereas…if you want to…as the saying goes…follow the money…well…the print gets a whole lot smaller in a hurry

Buried in a 421-page legal filing in an obscure court case is a single sentence, offered almost as an afterthought, about a meeting at a Geneva restaurant where two businessmen chatted about “a yacht which had been presented to Mr. Putin.”

The passing reference, cited in a 2010 judge’s decision in London on a financial dispute involving a shipping company, is the rare bit of public evidence directly linking President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to any of the luxury boats, planes or villas associated with him over the years. It has taken on new significance as U.S. and European authorities pursue the hidden wealth of Mr. Putin and people close to him in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

But the British court document also holds a clue to why it has been so hard to clearly connect the Russian president to his rumored riches. The yacht, called the Olympia, was managed by a company in Cyprus, where corporation filings show that the true owner was not Mr. Putin — it was the Russian government.

Indeed, it is one of many extravagant assets long speculated to be Mr. Putin’s that actually are owned or controlled by the state, showing how much the private interests of the president and his inner circle have merged with those of the government he has dominated for two decades. Others include a sprawling resort, a fleet of expensive automobiles, fancy planes and still more yachts.
While there has been much media and public discussion that oligarchs and old Putin friends could be secretly holding valuable property on his behalf, or keeping his cash for him in offshore companies and Swiss bank accounts, many of his more obvious luxuries are embedded in state-owned enterprises and largely beyond the reach of Western sanctions.

Alina Polyakova, an expert on Russian foreign affairs who leads the Center for European Policy Analysis, said that because government resources and agencies were most likely used to shield at least some of his purported wealth, targeting Mr. Putin personally with sanctions was mainly symbolic.

“To get to him, as well, we’d have to sanction the entire Russian government,” she said. “And, of course, there are reasons why Europe and the United States are not prepared to do so.”
Indeed, many jurisdictions traditionally have offered not only tax advantages to managing assets through offshore shells, but also corporation registries that make it difficult, if not impossible, to publicly identify the ultimate owners. It is primarily through leaks from law firms specializing in these services that wealthy Russians have been discovered to be frequent clients.

…there go those registered agents again, huh?

And sometimes the Russian government itself is the beneficiary.

Leaked files known as the Paradise Papers, from the Appleby law firm in Bermuda, revealed offshore projects on behalf of several enterprises controlled by the Russian state, including VTB Capital, an investment bank, and Gazprom.

Why Tracking Putin’s Wealth Is So Difficult [NYT]

…at least it’s not going all one way, I guess

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon cannot argue at his trial that he is not guilty of contempt of Congress because he was following the advice of his lawyer, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
“It’s a serious blow, because he doesn’t have another good defense,” said Joyce Vance, a former federal prosecutor. “He’ll now have to make a decision about whether to proceed to trial or try to cut some kind of deal.”
If he is convicted, Bannon, who is 68, could be sentenced to a year behind bars and a fine of up to $100,000.
Obtaining a conviction for any crime requires proof of acting with improper intent, and some federal courts have ruled that good faith reliance on the advice of counsel is a complete defense in a criminal contempt action. But Nichols said the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C., has ruled otherwise.
“All that is needed … is a deliberate intention to do the act,” it said. “Advice of counsel does not immunize that simple intention.”


The House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol has received a cache of emails belonging to Donald Trump’s lawyer, John Eastman, federal court documents filed on Tuesday show.
The cache of documents, sent between 4 and 7 January 2021, contains extensive communications between Eastman and others about plans to obstruct the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.
In one email, which includes a draft memo for Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, recommending Pence reject some states’ electors during the 6 January congressional meeting, Carter ruled for disclosure as the communications were being used to plan criminal activity.

“The draft memo pushed a strategy that knowingly violated the Electoral Count Act, and Dr Eastman’s later memos closely track its analysis and proposal,” the ruling says. “The memo is both intimately related to and clearly advanced the plan to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021.”
“In a different email thread,” Carter writes, “Dr Eastman and a colleague consider how to use a state court ruling to justify Vice-President Pence enacting the plan. In another email, a colleague focuses on the ‘plan of action’ after the January 6 attacks, not mentioning future litigation.”


…so…ummm…I’d go on…but like some of the consequences I’d prefer to see arriving than the ones I’m generally finding loom on the horizon…this is past due…so I’m off to see if there’s any solace to be found in a hunt for a few tunes



  1. As former adjunct faculty who probably at some point become a professor again, I will confirm that the university system is run on poorly paid and unpaid labor. The additional problem is that even the rare full-time positions don’t pay all that well.

    I got the job by largely doing a presentation on corporate writing and using my own work. I remember my first adjunct faculty meeting where I explained I was a professional writer (I was in marketing at that point but the wheel has turned and now I’m back to “content management” which is a fancy term for writing shit).

    I instantly became a rock star. They absolutely flocked around me to find out how I’d “done” that and could I help them. This is both full-time and adjunct staff. The adjuncts wanted full-time or supplemental work, and the full-time wanted better-paying jobs.

    It was kind of heartbreaking.

    • …sadly I rather suspect that I could have produced another post at least as long as this one just trying to trace the various loops & whorls that might identify the thumb on the scales that results in academic publishing being an extremely lucrative endeavor…but curiously almost never for the actual academics

      …heartbreaking is right…but honestly it fucks with my head plenty, too?

  2. How do we even fight Thiel and Mercer and all of these right wing billionaires? Elon Musk just bought himself a seat on Twitter’s board because he’s concerned about free speech. Regardless of what you think about twitter – it’s another move to drown out reason and facts in the name “free speech”.

    • …wish I had an answer to offer…rather than mere empathy on that score

      …because the extent to which free speech seems for some suspiciously vocal assholes to be synonymous with “don’t you dare disagree with me or I’ll make sure nobody hears from you again” is the kind of stuff that makes words like “defenestration” spontaneously derail my train of thought

      …musk doesn’t appear to understand – much less genuinely want to advocate for – freedom of speech…he just wants others to be forced to listen to what suits him…not to mention emphasizing the part where the thing that makes that work is all the wealth doing the amplifying for him…& the likes of mercer &/or thiel…& it beggars belief that anyone can honestly contend that their common interest is anything but at odds with the common interest

        • …just as soon as I come across a way to shift the showing from apocalypse now to…say…dazed & confused…I’ll be sure to make some noise about it

          …but, yeah…the whole “no one coming to save you” thing is not the zeitgeist I was rooting for, that’s for sure…maybe I should just give up on today & re-watch person of interest

    • The best answer is look to activists who have punched billionaires in the money bags. Henry Ford was the richest man in the world and had the UAW forced on him kicking and screaming. In Belarus right now there’s a strong resistance movement despite oppressive control by the pro-Putin government and oligarchs. John Lewis broke down Jim Crow, Larry Kramer beat back the medical establishment and Reagan.

      The reality is that there are no clean and simple solutions, and it’s incredibly easy to do a quick and dirty Russ Douthat-style thumbsucking analysis of why any movement will fail.

      Screw it. Fight back. There’s a reason why Russian propaganda is so intent on pushing a message of “don’t try it’s hopeless” and the NY Times Opinion Page dummies have the exact same message.

      The critical thing to note is that neither Putin nor the NY Times offers any meaningful reason to think life will be better if we listen to them, and life under Bret Stephens will almost certainly be worse.


  3. So the GOP will always take the side of plutocrats — including Putin — and “NATO started it” is the 2022 version of 1939’s “Poland was massing its forces on our border” but when they talk about the U.S. not being better than Russia they’re … not wrong?


  4. If anyone has any time left, that brief mention of Cleta Mitchell made me think, “That name sounds familiar. ‘Cleta’ is a tough name to forget. But why? I don’t know much about the Rabid Right…”


    Oh that’s right

    This is a very long-winded piece but its point is that maybe she’s such a virulent homophobic bigot because her husband turned out to be gay. She filed for divorce citing the ever-popular “irreconcilable differences.” I’ll say. I wonder if that’s a more widespread euphemism than I would have thought. “Irreconcilable differences” = “One of us has come to terms with being gay but it’s none of your business which one.”

      • There was that, and there’s a long history of marriage for the sake of best-buddy companionship and marriages of convenience.

        I, for example, used to have practically cost-free health insurance through my job. By that point I had been with Better Half for many years but we still couldn’t get married. I did have my closest and one of my oldest friends, who is a woman, and I offered to marry her, for the insurance (she was a fallen woman: she is an actor, and paid through the nose for very subpar insurance.) We were at a party and got talking to a lawyer and he advised against this scheme, because not only did my friend not live with me but she lived in a different state, across the river in New Jersey.

        Oh well, I tried.

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