David Roberts Profile picture
I run a newsletter called Volts, about clean energy & politics. Subscribe & join the community at https://t.co/EWUU3NwgWl!
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12 Apr
Because I excel at time management, I've just been spending some time in a NextDoor thread about a petition that would upzone my neighborhood to allow for dense low-income house. Naturally, the neighbors are in a total panic. What about parking?!
I dropped in to say, "Please support upzoning. Seattle desperately needs new housing."

The very first response -- I'm not making this up -- was from Linda: "Not if Seattle would be more selective in new residents."

Golly. What do you suppose she means?
More Linda: "I was not being unkind, David. I just don't think it is right that so many move to Seattle from other areas because they know they can get so many freebies in Seattle that we end up paying for. Seattle used to be a beautiful city, it is not anymore."
Read 6 tweets
11 Apr
All the people who think there was some noble, credible US conservatism that has "fallen," or been "taken over" by Trumpism, tell me: why was it so weak? Why did it offer so little resistance? Why did it devolve so *easily* into reactionary madness? Doesn't it make you wonder?
Pizza's cooking, so: my theory of conservatism. Basically, in any society, there's a group/class/demographic that has power & privileges, sometimes economic, sometimes relating to race or caste. And every such group has a story about why their place at the top is justified.
For royalty it was the divine right of kings. For oligarchs or nobles is often some kind of "natural law" that makes them more refined/smart/wise than subaltern classes.
Read 11 tweets
11 Apr
I have no daughters, so I have no idea what might be wrong with a grown man preying on underage girls. Can someone with daughters sketch out exactly what's going on here?
For the record: Obama used to say this all the time, and it was bullshit when he said it too.
For the record, what's wrong with this approach -- "empathy for those with whom I have direct experience" -- is that many of humanity's most pressing problems involve victims that are very far away from the perpetrators, in time/geography/social class.
Read 4 tweets
9 Apr
"Biden admin officials say [Trump's tax cut] increased incentives for companies to shift profits to lower-tax countries, while reducing corporate tax receipts in the US to match their lowest levels as a share of the economy since WWII." Are these not facts that can be verified?
Seems like the fact that it's true is more relevant than the fact that Bidenites say it. nytimes.com/2021/04/07/bus…
"Members of the Business Roundtable, which represents corporate chief executives in Washington, said this week that Mr. Biden’s plan for a global minimum tax 'threatens to subject the U.S. to a major competitive disadvantage.'" 🙄
Read 4 tweets
8 Apr
Just going to enjoy a moment of uncomplicated pleasure in @ezraklein telling me that the Democratic Party has more or less conceded that I'm right about everything. nytimes.com/2021/04/08/opi…
Sure, others were right too. You can go to their feeds if you want to hear about that.
"They view the idea that a carbon tax is the essential answer to the problem of climate change as being so divorced from political reality as to be actively dangerous."
Read 4 tweets
8 Apr
I know I should probably be trying to decode the 12D chess or whatever, but I'm distracted by all the mistaken assumptions, bad history, poor reasoning, & preening vanity here. washingtonpost.com/opinions/joe-m…
I'm trying to resist yelling about this piece for all eternity, but the key question Manchin doesn't address is, why, if small/rural states are already over-represented in the Senate, we *also* need a 60-vote supermajority requirement.
Or why the public would trust a Senate that passes legislation less than one that can't.
Read 12 tweets
4 Apr
Must-read investigative journalism from @JaneMayerNYer (if that's not redundant) shows that the right is in a bit of a panic about HR1, the voting rights bill, because it's wildly popular with the public, even a majority of Rs. newyorker.com/news/news-desk…
Hey @JoeManchinWV? This is how they're talking about the voting rights bill in private:

"Instead, a senior Koch operative said that opponents would be better off ignoring the will of American voters and trying to kill the bill in Congress."

Do you want to be complicit in that?
Imagine sitting around having this discussion and never thinking, "gosh, I wonder if maybe we're horrible fucking people?"
Read 6 tweets
3 Apr
"I have more time and fewer obligations, yet I’m getting so much less done."

OMG I feel every word of this.

And I chose to launch a new venture during exactly this period, so I'm haunted by the thought that I should be doing *more* than usual, showing enthusiasm, cranking stuff out, getting the thing going. Hustling! But it's like squeezing a rock for blood.
Read 5 tweets
2 Apr
Today on Volts: I take a closer look at my favorite parts of Biden's infrastructure plan, from a new Grid Deployment Authority at DOE to a plan to retrofit a million affordable residences. (If you don't want to read, you can listen!) volts.wtf/p/the-coolest-…
Luv 2 send out an email with "$10 billion" instead of "$10 trillion" in the very first paragraph. Thank goodness things like that don't haunt me.
Hard to pick a favorite part of the jobs bill, but if forced, I might choose this: “a new Grid Deployment Authority at the Department of Energy ... to spur additional high priority, high-voltage transmission lines.” ⚡️⚡️⚡️🤟
Read 7 tweets
1 Apr
All of this. As in the Hayes/McWhorter podcast, whenever anyone tries to question the *scale* & *significance* of this problem in the grand scheme of things, the CC crowd responds with outrageous individual examples. Which, yes, exist! But it isn't responsive to the question.
If we were going to approach "cancel culture" in a *remotely* scientific fashion, we'd have to define it, clarify what counts & doesn't. We'd have to specify what distinguishes leftie racial-justice CC from threats to speech from the right, or from the wealthy/powerful.
And we'd need to develop some empirically credible assessment of the *number* of these cases. How common are they, relative to other threats to speech/freedom?

The fact no CC warrior will answer these Qs (or even address them in good faith) inspires little confidence.
Read 4 tweets
31 Mar
One thing we're starting to see -- expect it to ramp up when Biden's second investment bill is announced -- is the utter contempt that Republican tough guys feel toward the care professions, care workers, & caring generally.
Had a troll in my TL a bit earlier referring to care investments as "forcing him to pay for someone else's babysitter." There's going to be lots more of that. Care isn't *real* work, not *real* infrastructure, not the *real* economy -- just something chicks do.
Getting more women into politics won't solve all problems, but it will certainly reduce the salience of that pathetic, dumbass attitude.
Read 4 tweets
31 Mar
A 🧵on the Republican approach to killing Dem initiatives.

Rs were caught flat-footed by the Covid recovery bill last month -- it was popular, the insurrection was still on people's minds, they couldn't find an effective attack line, it was a rout. That won't happen again.
Rs are on much firmer ground now, in the face of a big spending bill that's not tied to an immediate crisis. They will run the same play they ran on Obama several times.

Step one is promising that they are open to cooperation. They *want* an infrastructure bill, really!
That then sucks Dems into negotiations, where they will agree to give things up in the name of compromise. That will go on as long as Rs can keep it going -- they will draw it out & draw it out, with cooperation always juuuust over the horizon.
Read 13 tweets
28 Mar
"most people living in the United States today—certainly more than half—are not Americans in any meaningful sense of the term."

Good to see the right dropping all pretense.

This is what I was getting at in a tweet a few weeks ago: you either see the US as a set of rules/procedures/principles meant to enable pluralism ... or you see it as a specific white/Christian/patriarchal culture. The right has chosen the latter, more & more openly.
Related: opposition to federal gun control laws is strongly correlated with Christian nationalism, which has been taking over the US right wing. Christian nationalism says the US is God's special country; to be a patriot, one must be Christian. asanet.org/sites/default/…
Read 7 tweets
27 Mar
1. Twitter! I need your advice & counsel.

In a couple months, we're launching a long-delayed home renovation project. Kitchen, office, & living room will be inaccessible for 3-4 months. We're trying to decide what to do with ourselves during that time.
2. One option: rent a furnished Airbnb. Unfortunately, finding one within Seattle that is open to 4 people, 2 dogs, & a cat is both difficult & *expensive*. For 4 months it would probably run us $30-$40K 😳 -- a substantial boost in the cost of the whole project.
3. The other option we're considering: buy an RV & park it in the driveway. Mrs. Volts & I would live in it & cook meals in it. Our bedroom inside would be converted to office/TV room. At the end, we'd just sell the RV. This would be *much* cheaper, albeit more logistical hassle.
Read 4 tweets
26 Mar
So, yeah, I do a lot of Zillow surfing to relax. And some of the design choices of contemporary homes baffle me. This house has something 99% of new houses are missing: a mud room! Who wants to tromp straight from outside into a living room? zillow.com/homes/for_sale…
You need a place to take off your shoes, hang up your coat, and generally get ready to enter the home proper. In the South when I was growing up, *every* house had this. Now when I look at new homes on Zillow, it seems to have vanished entirely. Perplexing.
The other contemporary home design choice that baffles me: enormous master bedrooms. All the new high-end homes have them. Why, though? Do people really need a "sitting area" in their bedroom? Why all the space? You're just there to sleep!
Read 5 tweets
25 Mar
The American front lawn is a symbol of how we've abandoned public space & sought to replicate all its benefits in our small private estates, which turns out to be impossible. volts.wtf/p/a-rant-about…
In this post I call out something I was told by Salvador Rueda, the visionary behind so much of Barcelona's transformation: residences, businesses, & roads can get you *urbanity*, but until you have public spaces -- "the public's living room" -- you don't have a *city*.
It always stuck in my head as a perfect description of a growing portion US land use: urbanity without cities. Highways, chain stores, and suburbs in an endless, undifferentiated smear, with no *center*, no place for community to form & evolve.
Read 10 tweets
23 Mar
You'd have trouble finding a more apt symbol for American dysfunctions than the lawn. Replaces diversity with monocrop that requires poisons. Utterly unproductive waste of land. Separates the public into isolated units. Ugly. Etc. etc. getpocket.com/explore/item/t…
All right, the actual news today is too depressing to contemplate & I don't feel like doing Real Work, so I'm gonna yell more about lawns on here. You've been warned -- mute if necessary.

So, let's talk about the absolute tragedy of 20th century US land use.
For most of ... well, history, people lived in settlements, in close proximity, sharing public spaces & facilities. In post-war America, we decided to go a different way. We decided to chip away, erode, & eventually all but banish public space. But the thing is ...
Read 14 tweets
22 Mar
US public schools teach the concepts of political equality and multiethnic democracy as cereal-box truisms, founding principles of the US. I wish instead it would teach them as radical, revolutionary aspirations, permanently hostile to entrenched powers & demographics.
"Embedded in the founding documents of this country are concepts that, if taken seriously, are poison to the entrenched elites who run the country. The idea of America is permanently dangerous to the reality of America." I feel like school kids would vibe with that!
"Being a good American, in the deepest sense, means being a threat to the economic & political elites who run America." C'mon, kids would eat that up.
Read 4 tweets
22 Mar
As we're all aware, lots of people have dedicated their lives to scolding the left over "wokeness" & related issues. My favorite part of their articles is always where they hand-wave at the rising tide of reactionary illiberalism & violence from the right. They can't ignore it...
... but to take it too seriously might raise questions such as, "if that's going on, why are you talking about THIS?" So there's a real art form: you acknowledge it enough to check the box, but not so much it renders your focus absurd.
It's this drek from Thomas Frank that got me thinking of it. theguardian.com/commentisfree/…
Read 9 tweets
21 Mar
For months I've been harping on the point that Dems are on a clock -- they have a small window in which to make real changes & that window may not come again for a decade. And it's not just losing the House in 2022 that will close the window ...
... it's this weird political moment we're in. Trump's crimes & the insurrection are still on people's minds, though fading quickly. Dems are still united around policy, though that's fading quickly. And Biden is still in a weird honeymoon period in which ...
... the RW media machine can't seem to get anything to stick to him. But that will fade too. Whether it's the border BS, the BS about his fitness, some other BS -- something will work, get the press frothing, & get "partisan squabbling" squarely back in the news ...
Read 4 tweets