The worst president in history? It’s complicated. (Update #2)

Updates

  1. Originally published, October 24, 2020, at 1:30 pm.
  2. October 25, 2020, 6:21 am:

Presidents

Attempting a comparison of U.S. presidents, Nicholas Goldberg

quickly realized [he] was in over [his] head trying to determine who was worst among them. Is a corrupt president worse than a incompetent president? Is it worse to separate children from their parents at the border or to allow fugitive slaves to be caught and delivered back to their owners? Is killing thousands of Native Americans worse than denying the existential dangers of climate change? Do the 12 presidents who owned slaves belong automatically at the bottom of the list, regardless of their other achievements or the times in which they lived?[1]

This is a problem with a quantitative approach, as with IQ tests: It can attempt to rank things that compare more like apples and oranges on a single, linear scale. The questions Goldberg raises here will always be problematic.

Nicholas Goldberg, “Is Trump the worst president ever? He’s got some competition,” Los Angeles Times, October 20, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-10-20/the-worst-president-in-american-history


California

Ryan Sabalow, “‘That is unacceptable.’ California megachurch faces local backlash for dismissing COVID-19,” Sacramento Bee, October 23, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/article246671032.html

Ryan Sabalow, Lara Korte, and Jason Pohl, “Rural California is divided, armed for revolt. What’s the matter in the State of Jefferson?” Sacramento Bee, October 24, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/article246652603.html


Social conservatism

The carefully choreographed dance goes like this: Moral character in public officials matters quite a lot when the public officials who morally fail are Democrats; it matters hardly at all when they are Republicans. If it’s a liberal who has crossed ethical lines, emphasize righteous conduct; if it’s a conservative, emphasize forgiveness and verses like “Judge not lest you be judged.” If it’s Bill Clinton in the dock, savage him; if it’s Donald Trump, savage his critics.[2]

Peter Wehner, “Evangelicals Made a Bad Bargain With Trump,” Atlantic, October 18, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/10/the-evangelical-movements-bad-bargain/616760/


  1. [1]Nicholas Goldberg, “Is Trump the worst president ever? He’s got some competition,” Los Angeles Times, October 20, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-10-20/the-worst-president-in-american-history
  2. [2]Peter Wehner, “Evangelicals Made a Bad Bargain With Trump,” Atlantic, October 18, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/10/the-evangelical-movements-bad-bargain/616760/

No silver bullets for this pandemic (Update #8)

Updates

  1. Originally published, October 21, 2020, at 10:57 pm.

  2. October 21, 2020, 11:44 pm:

    • So I was wondering about possible evictions, specifically about two vacant apartments in my building, at my apartment complex.[1] Guess what? The Alden South Hills is pursuing 44 evictions. A magistrate judge has already refused some of them, giving tenants additional time to pay.[2] I have always paid my rent here on time, but in my experience, with regard to rent payments, the management does adopt a rather threatening tone, carrying an undertone that if you live in this complex, you are a deadbeat, so it’s not at all unreasonable to suspect that some vacancies in the complex may be to avoid being evicted and thus to avoid the difficulties of finding a new apartment when evictions have been recorded.

  3. October 22, 2020, 8:55 am:

    • I am revising the language in update #2 to make it a bit more complete. The revised text appears there.

  4. October 22, 2020, 10:20 am:

    • It’s a stretch, and the author even says it’s a stretch, but it’s possible to interpret the Third Amendment, prohibiting the quartering of soldiers in people’s homes, as guaranteeing a right to protection from contagious disease. It seems that smallpox is an important part of the historical context for that amendment, where British soldiers had deliberately passed the disease to American Indians, and not so deliberately to colonists.[3]

  5. October 22, 2020, 10:04 pm:

    • Have I mentioned that Uber and Lyft are evil? Uber is forcing its California drivers to acknowledge repeated messages in support of Proposition 22, at least at one point, for every ride they got.[4] The proposition would exempt them from California’s Assembly Bill 5, which codified a state supreme court decision, and requires the companies to correctly classify their drivers as employees rather than misclassifying them as independent contractors and denying them important labor protections.[5] The companies have been spending record-breaking amounts of money, in a state notorious for plentiful and ludicrously expensive propositions, in support of Proposition 22.[6] Now, some drivers have filed a class action suit against Uber’s practice of bombarding them with the pro-Proposition 22 message, even as the company insists that a majority of its drivers already support the proposition and their own misclassification,[7] which obviously raises the question of, if the independent contractor scam is indeed so popular with its drivers, why must Uber resort to such tactics to support it?

  6. October 23, 2020, 3:33 am:

    • An appeals court upheld[8] a lower court ruling that Uber and Lyft must classify their California drivers as employees[9] (see previous update, October 22, 2020, 10:04 pm) after granting a stay of the lower court ruling[10] that that court had refused to grant.[11]

  7. October 23, 2020, 3:37 am:

    • I caught a wording error in the update for October 22, 2020, 10:04 pm. This error has now been corrected.

  8. October 23, 2020, 10:04 pm:

    • Landlords are finding ways around the eviction moratorium, which expires at the end of the year anyway, but nonetheless suing to overturn it. It’s not at all apparent how folks who are already failing to pay rent are going to be able to find new apartments, so evictions effectively render them homeless. In a pandemic. “When tenants are evicted, they often move in with other family members, increasing the size of households and the chance for viral transmission.”[12]

    • I’ve been saying for a while that we’ve been doing everything wrong with the pandemic. And we already knew we were headed into a third surge.[13] Here we are:

      And it’s not simply a matter of increased testing identifying more cases. Covid-19 hospitalizations increased in 38 states over the past week. The number of deaths nationally has crested above 1,000 in recent days.

      The last time the country hit a new daily record for coronavirus cases — 76,533 on July 17 — just four states accounted for more than 40,000 of those cases: Arizona, California, Florida and Texas, according to a Washington Post analysis.

      On Friday, 11 states accounted for that same lion’s share of cases. And in the past two weeks, 24 states have broken their records for single-day highs of cases. . . .

      “One key way we got through previous waves was by moving health-care workers around. That’s just not possible when the virus is surging everywhere,” said Eleanor J. Murray, an epidemiologist at Boston University.[14]

      Don’t forget that even as there is a shortage of doctors and nurses to deal with the surge, they too fall ill, reducing the number available even further. And there are drug shortages. But politicians have just decided we’re going to have to live with it.[15] Or, as some have suggested, die with it.


Pandemic

There is a new blog post entitled, “About that promised COVID-19 vaccine: Sorry, we still aren’t getting out of this pandemic anytime soon.

David Salisbury, “If you’re pinning your hopes on a Covid vaccine, here’s a dose of realism,” Guardian, October 21, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/oct/21/covid-vaccine-immunisation-protection

Melody Schreiber, “A Covid-19 Vaccine Doesn’t Need to Be Perfect,” New Republic, October 21, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/159868/covid-19-vaccine-efficacy-perfect

Alexander Zhang, “The Forgotten Third Amendment Could Give Pandemic-Struck America a Way Forward,” Atlantic, October 21, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/10/could-third-amendment-protect-against-infection/616791/

William Wan and Jacqueline Dupree, “America hits highest daily number of coronavirus cases since pandemic began,” Washington Post, October 23, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/10/23/covid-us-spike-cases/


Evictions

Ryan Deto, “Pittsburgh-area apartment complex The Alden South Hills seeking large-scale evictions,” Pittsburgh City Paper, October 21, 2020, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/pittsburgh-area-apartment-complex-the-alden-south-hills-seeking-large-scale-evictions/Content?oid=18223682

Kriston Capps, “Landlords Challenge U.S. Eviction Ban and Continue to Oust Renters,” CityLab, October 22, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-22/landlords-launch-legal-attack-on-cdc-eviction-ban


Gig economy

Faiz Siddiqui and Reed Albergotti, “Uber drivers sue app over ‘constant barrage’ pushing California anti-employment initiative,” Washington Post, October 22, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/10/22/uber-prop22-suit/


  1. [1]David Benfell, “Not even a euphemism: ‘Houseless,’” Not Housebroken, October 18, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/10/18/not-even-a-euphemism-houseless/
  2. [2]Ryan Deto, “Pittsburgh-area apartment complex The Alden South Hills seeking large-scale evictions,” Pittsburgh City Paper, October 21, 2020, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/pittsburgh-area-apartment-complex-the-alden-south-hills-seeking-large-scale-evictions/Content?oid=18223682
  3. [3]Alexander Zhang, “The Forgotten Third Amendment Could Give Pandemic-Struck America a Way Forward,” Atlantic, October 21, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/10/could-third-amendment-protect-against-infection/616791/
  4. [4]Faiz Siddiqui and Reed Albergotti, “Uber drivers sue app over ‘constant barrage’ pushing California anti-employment initiative,” Washington Post, October 22, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/10/22/uber-prop22-suit/
  5. [5]Sophia Bollag, “California Uber, Lyft drivers to become employees under measure Gov. Gavin Newsom says he’ll sign,” Sacramento Bee, September 11, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article234973107.html; Alexia Fernández Campbell, “California is cracking down on the gig economy,” Vox, May 30, 2019, https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/5/30/18642535/california-ab5-misclassify-employees-contractors; Aaron Gordon, “Uber And Lyft Don’t Have A Right To Exist,” Jalopnik, August 30, 2019, https://jalopnik.com/uber-and-lyft-dont-have-a-right-to-exist-1837680434; Aaron Gordon, “Uber To California: Make Us,” Jalopnik, September 11, 2019, https://jalopnik.com/uber-and-lyft-drivers-shouldnt-expect-to-be-employees-a-1838048966; Nathan Heller, “A New California Law Takes Aim at Uber and Lyft,” New Yorker, September 12, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-silicon-valley/a-new-california-law-takes-aim-at-uber-and-lyft; Michael Hiltzik, “How millions from Uber and Lyft are funding the harassment of a critic,” Los Angeles Times, September 2, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-09-02/uber-lyft-veena-dubal-twitter-bullying; Therese Poletti, “Uber and Lyft’s ‘day of reckoning’ is finally here,” MarketWatch, August 12, 2020, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/uber-and-lyfts-day-of-reckoning-is-finally-here-2020-08-11
  6. [6]Michael Hiltzik, “Uber and Lyft just made their campaign to keep exploiting workers the costliest in history,” Los Angeles Times, September 8, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-09-08/uber-lyft-most-expensive-initiative
  7. [7]Faiz Siddiqui and Reed Albergotti, “Uber drivers sue app over ‘constant barrage’ pushing California anti-employment initiative,” Washington Post, October 22, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/10/22/uber-prop22-suit/
  8. [8]Kanishka Singh and Tina Bellon, “California appeals court rules Uber, Lyft must reclassify drivers as employees,” Reuters, October 22, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-uber-california-drivers-idUSKBN27805F
  9. [9]Faiz Siddiqui, “Uber and Lyft must make their drivers in California full employees, judge rules,” Washington Post, August 10, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/08/10/uber-lyft-ab5/
  10. [10]Lauren Feiner, “Appeals court grants Uber and Lyft a temporary reprieve following threats to shut down in California,” CNBC, August 20, 2020, https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/20/appeals-court-grants-uber-and-lyft-a-temporary-reprieve-in-case-over-driver-classification.html
  11. [11]Jonathan Stempel, “Judge rejects Uber, Lyft bids to delay California driver injunction,” Yahoo!, August 13, 2020, https://finance.yahoo.com/news/uber-lyft-lose-bid-delay-184959283.html
  12. [12]Kriston Capps, “Landlords Challenge U.S. Eviction Ban and Continue to Oust Renters,” CityLab, October 22, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-22/landlords-launch-legal-attack-on-cdc-eviction-ban
  13. [13]Antonia Noori Farzan et al. “U.S. surpasses 64,000 new coronavirus infections two days in a row for first time since late July,” Washington Post, October 16, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/10/16/coronavirus-covid-live-updates-us/; Elliot Hannon, “Trump Says “We’re Rounding the Turn” the Same Day the U.S. Approaches Record Number of New Coronavirus Cases,” Slate, October 23, 2020, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/10/u-s-record-coronavirus-single-day-cases-trump-debate-declares-country-rounding-the-turn.html
  14. [14]William Wan and Jacqueline Dupree, “America hits highest daily number of coronavirus cases since pandemic began,” Washington Post, October 23, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/10/23/covid-us-spike-cases/
  15. [15]William Wan and Jacqueline Dupree, “America hits highest daily number of coronavirus cases since pandemic began,” Washington Post, October 23, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/10/23/covid-us-spike-cases/; Elliot Hannon, “Trump Says “We’re Rounding the Turn” the Same Day the U.S. Approaches Record Number of New Coronavirus Cases,” Slate, October 23, 2020, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/10/u-s-record-coronavirus-single-day-cases-trump-debate-declares-country-rounding-the-turn.html

The third surge of COVID-19

Pandemic

There is a new blog post entitled, “The lesson of the pandemic: An incremental approach won’t save us.”

Karen Kaplan, “U.S. deaths are about 300,000 higher than expected since the coronavirus arrived,” Los Angeles Times, October 20, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2020-10-20/excess-deaths-in-united-states-since-coronavirus-arrived


Academia

As I was out driving, I noticed one day that banners around the Carnegie-Mellon University campus focused not on academics or scholarship, but on social connection, with lots of smiling (unmasked and not socially-distanced) faces.

But [Soneida] Rodriguez, the resident adviser, said those concessions [in response to an RA strike] haven’t fixed an underlying problem: The [University of Michigan] appears more concerned with giving students the full “college experience” than with protecting public health, she said.

“They’re trying to justify the tuition price,” she said.[1]

Universities are supposed to be sanctuaries for the dissemination and acquisition of knowledge. At least coincidentally with the political embrace of neoliberal dogma, they’ve taken on an entirely different role in what was already an anti-intellectual society.

This is a problem anyway. In a pandemic, it’s an even bigger one.[2]

Michael Vasquez, “‘It’s Negligence’: U. of Michigan Students Ordered to ‘Stay in Place’ After Covid-19 Cases Surge,” Chronicle of Higher Education, October 20, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/its-negligence-u-of-michigan-students-ordered-to-stay-in-place-as-covid-19-cases-surge


Housekeeping

I’ve been stressing out lately. As I put it recently,

I haven’t been sleeping well. Between the difficult navigation and the asshole drivers in Pittsburgh,[3] combined with road conditions that are significantly increasing my maintenance costs, I’m terrified the whole time I’m driving, which I do for Uber and Lyft because it’s the only job I can get even with a Ph.D.[4] I’m stressing out. My heart is pounding when I’m out. And when I wake up, I am short of sleep, unable to sleep more.[5]

But a couple of interesting things have happened. First, when I had to replace that last set of tires, after a mere 21,000 miles, I went ahead and pulled out the money to upgrade the sound system in the car. That is now done. The music does help soothe the savage beast of stress from a situation I cannot adapt to and cannot change.

Then a headlight went out. I’ve been going through a lot of bulbs since I got to Pittsburgh and every time one goes out, I lose time that I could spend working. I was feeling like this was costing me too much money. I stopped back at the place where I got the sound system upgraded and, sure enough, they’ve been able to replace a bunch of the bulbs with LEDs. The LED headlights significantly improve my ability to see at night, even to help avoid potholes, hopefully sparing my front end from some damage.

The LED turn signals improve the visibility of those signals; other drivers are more apt to see and respond to the signals. The backup camera that came with the sound system and the dramatically brighter LED backup lights make it a lot easier and safer when I need to turn around in narrow places, of which in Pittsburgh there are many.

A lot of it, however, feels like status. The LED lights convey an impression of a more expensive car than the 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid actually is. In Pittsburgh, that seems to matter. I’m getting a lot less harassment from obnoxious drivers.

It’s still stressful. I’m still in that situation I cannot adapt to and cannot change. But maybe my blood pressure isn’t so high now.


  1. [1]Michael Vasquez, “‘It’s Negligence’: U. of Michigan Students Ordered to ‘Stay in Place’ After Covid-19 Cases Surge,” Chronicle of Higher Education, October 20, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/its-negligence-u-of-michigan-students-ordered-to-stay-in-place-as-covid-19-cases-surge
  2. [2]Carl T. Bergstrom, “The CDC Is Wrong,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 14, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/The-CDC-Is-Wrong/249174; Francie Diep, “More Colleges Are Responding to Covid-19 Surges With 2-Week Quarantines. Do They Work?” Chronicle of Higher Education, September 17, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/more-colleges-are-responding-to-covid-19-surges-with-2-week-quarantines-do-they-work; Tim Elfrink, “‘We’ve got to do better than this’: College students raise alarm by packing bars, avoiding masks,” Washington Post, August 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/08/17/alabama-georgia-college-parties-covid/; Lindsay Ellis, “Colleges Hoped for an In-Person Fall. Now the Dream is Crumbling,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 20, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/colleges-hoped-for-an-in-person-fall-now-the-dream-is-crumbling; Audrey Williams June, “Over 450 Colleges Are in Coronavirus Hot Spots,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 9, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/Over-450-Colleges-Are-in/249156; Robert Kelchen, “Colleges Aren’t Reopening in the Fall,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 18, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/Colleges-Aren-t-Reopening-in/248803; Eric Kelderman, “Colleges Are Making Late Calls to Shut Campuses. Is It All About the Money?” Chronicle of Higher Education, August 25, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/colleges-are-making-late-calls-to-shut-campuses-is-it-all-about-the-money; Vivian S. Lee, Vindell Washington, and Robert M. Califf, “The Bad Science of Reopening,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 28, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/the-bad-science-of-reopening; Katherine Mangan, “Health Experts Warn Colleges Not to Send Students Home. But What if Quarantine Spaces Run Out?” Chronicle of Higher Education, September 7, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/health-experts-warn-colleges-not-to-send-students-home-but-what-if-they-run-out-of-quarantine-space; Kery Murakami, “Fauci Urges Colleges Not to Send Students Home,” Inside Higher Ed, September 4, 2020, https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2020/09/04/fauci-urges-colleges-not-send-students-home; Notre Dame University, “Notre Dame enacts two weeks of remote instruction,” August 18, 2020, https://news.nd.edu/news/notre-dame-enacts-two-weeks-of-remote-instruction/; Vimal Patel, “A Grad Strike, a Court Fight, a No-Confidence Vote: U. of Michigan Struggles Over Its Campus Reopening,” Chronicle of Higher Education, September 16, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/a-grad-strike-a-court-fight-a-no-confidence-vote-u-of-michigan-struggles-over-its-campus-reopening; Colleen Shalby, “California colleges tried to prepare for COVID-19 outbreaks. It didn’t work,” Los Angeles Times, October 7, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-10-07/as-californias-universities-reopen-off-campus-activity-contributes-to-spike-in-covid-19-cases; Andy Thomason, “After Only One Week, Chapel Hill Abandons In-Person Fall Semester,” Chronicle of Higher Education, August 17, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/after-only-one-week-chapel-hill-abandons-in-person-fall-semester; Michael Vasquez, “‘It’s Negligence’: U. of Michigan Students Ordered to ‘Stay in Place’ After Covid-19 Cases Surge,” Chronicle of Higher Education, October 20, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/its-negligence-u-of-michigan-students-ordered-to-stay-in-place-as-covid-19-cases-surge
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Pittsburgh driving for the uninitiated,” Irregular Bullshit, n.d., https://disunitedstates.com/pittsburgh/pittsburgh-driving-for-the-uninitiated/
  4. [4]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Normalized ‘property rights,’” Not Housebroken, September 23, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/23/normalized-property-rights/

The Pennsylvania Legislature should be thrown in jail

Pennsylvania

Killing people is a crime, but even as COVID-19 case counts surge,[1] the Pennsylvania legislature is still desperately trying to spread the disease.[2] The capitalist god demands human sacrifice[3] and the legislature is eager to oblige.

Megan Guza, “Covid resurgence is here, Pa. officials say after 14 days of new cases topping 1,000,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 19, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/covid-resurgence-is-here-state-officials-say-after-14-days-of-new-cases-topping-1000/

Stephen Caruso, “Pa. House falls two votes shy of overturning Wolf restaurant occupancy veto,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, October 20, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/covid-19/pa-house-falls-two-votes-shy-of-overturning-wolf-restaurant-occupancy-veto/


  1. [1]Megan Guza, “Covid resurgence is here, Pa. officials say after 14 days of new cases topping 1,000,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 19, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/covid-resurgence-is-here-state-officials-say-after-14-days-of-new-cases-topping-1000/; Samson X. Horne, “Pennsylvania reports 2nd-highest covid-19 case count,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 17, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-05/supreme-court-rejects-challenge-to-pennsylvania-shutdown-order
  2. [2]Stephen Caruso, “Pa. House falls two votes shy of overturning Wolf restaurant occupancy veto,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, October 20, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/covid-19/pa-house-falls-two-votes-shy-of-overturning-wolf-restaurant-occupancy-veto/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “The capitalist death cult,” Not Housebroken, March 27, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/03/27/the-capitalist-death-cult/; David Benfell, “An impatient capitalist god demands human sacrifice. Now,” Not Housebroken, April 17, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/15/an-impatient-capitalist-god-demands-human-sacrifice-now/; David Benfell, “Surprise! Surprise! The capitalist god is greedy!” Not Housebroken, May 25, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/05/23/surprise-surprise-the-capitalist-god-is-greedy/

What we won’t learn

Pandemic

Derek Thompson’s idea is that we should learn from other countries.[1] This would be hilarious, because the exceptional Amerikkka never learns from anybody, except, of course, that people are dying from COVID-19, perhaps at a lower rate, but still dying.[2]

Derek Thompson, “The COVID-19 Fall Surge Is Here. We Can Stop It,” Atlantic, October 12, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/10/how-keep-fall-surge-becoming-winter-catastrophe/616674/

Antonia Noori Farzan et al. “U.S. surpasses 64,000 new coronavirus infections two days in a row for first time since late July,” Washington Post, October 16, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/10/16/coronavirus-covid-live-updates-us/

Samson X. Horne, “Pennsylvania reports 2nd-highest covid-19 case count,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 17, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-05/supreme-court-rejects-challenge-to-pennsylvania-shutdown-order

Megan Guza, “Covid resurgence is here, Pa. officials say after 14 days of new cases topping 1,000,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 19, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/covid-resurgence-is-here-state-officials-say-after-14-days-of-new-cases-topping-1000/


Donald Trump

Jonathan Chait thinks Donald Trump might be well-advised to leave the country if he loses[3]—his logic might apply even at the end of a second term—and Josh Barro pushes the idea that Trump is bored by governing to its logical extreme in the contingency that Trump loses the election convincingly.[4] Dan Alexander says Trump has $900 million in debt coming due during what would be his second term and no apparent way to pay it short of selling properties in deals that might pose conflicts of interest.[5]

Jonathan Chait, “Trump Says He Might Leave the Country If He Loses. Does He Mean It?” New York, October 17, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/10/trump-may-leave-country-if-he-loses-prison-criminal-prosecution.html

Dan Alexander, “Trump Will Have $900 Million Of Loans Coming Due In His Second Term If He’s Reelected,” Forbes, October 19, 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/danalexander/2020/10/19/trump-will-have-900-million-of-loans-coming-due-in-his-second-term-if-hes-reelected/

Josh Barro, “What If Trump Is All Too Eager to Give up Power?” New York, October 19, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/10/what-if-trump-is-all-too-eager-to-give-up-power.html


  1. [1]Derek Thompson, “The COVID-19 Fall Surge Is Here. We Can Stop It,” Atlantic, October 12, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/10/how-keep-fall-surge-becoming-winter-catastrophe/616674/
  2. [2]Antonia Noori Farzan et al. “U.S. surpasses 64,000 new coronavirus infections two days in a row for first time since late July,” Washington Post, October 16, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/10/16/coronavirus-covid-live-updates-us/; Derek Thompson, “The COVID-19 Fall Surge Is Here. We Can Stop It,” Atlantic, October 12, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/10/how-keep-fall-surge-becoming-winter-catastrophe/616674/
  3. [3]Jonathan Chait, “Trump Says He Might Leave the Country If He Loses. Does He Mean It?” New York, October 17, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/10/trump-may-leave-country-if-he-loses-prison-criminal-prosecution.html
  4. [4]Josh Barro, “What If Trump Is All Too Eager to Give up Power?” New York, October 19, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/10/what-if-trump-is-all-too-eager-to-give-up-power.html
  5. [5]Dan Alexander, “Trump Will Have $900 Million Of Loans Coming Due In His Second Term If He’s Reelected,” Forbes, October 19, 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/danalexander/2020/10/19/trump-will-have-900-million-of-loans-coming-due-in-his-second-term-if-hes-reelected/

Evil. Just evil.

It’s mostly just bullshit out there now. I’ve been breaking my own rules and engaging with ‘shitlibs,’ that is, Democratic Party apologists, who can’t imagine that their party is evil. The big takeaway would be that if things continue to get worse, whatever effort any politicians may make, whatever they may say, is not enough; at best, it functions to enable the evil, covering its left flank.

In the meantime, there’s a new blog post entitled, “Not even a euphemism: ‘Houseless’.”

Killing for Donald Trump

Donald Trump

Despite receiving an extraordinary level of care and apparently—we can’t be sure—recovering from what seems to have been a serious case of COVID-19,[1] Donald Trump’s rhetoric and practice are largely unchanged[2] and his strategy for dealing with the pandemic is largely nonexistent, condemning millions to death in an alleged push for “herd immunity.” Trump received the best of care; the rest of us should settle for something less.[3]

T]his campaign push by [Donald] Trump to consign millions to death [with a “herd immunity” strategy] as a means of papering over his failures is coming from a man who caught COVID, and likely only survived it because of the medical knowledge gleaned from those who were killed by his incompetence in those first bleak months of the crisis. “Trump is still breathing because of the medical data gathered from people he allowed to die,” I wrote on Tuesday. I stand by that assessment.

Trump is alive because he got the best treatment science can deliver, buttressed by data gathered from the corpses he has already caused. Upon recovery, he declared his intent to abandon millions more to a choking, solitary death so he can keep his job and salvage his junkyard ego.[4]

William Rivers Pitt, “Trump Got the Best COVID Treatment. For the Rest of Us He Wants ‘Herd Immunity,’” Truthout, October 15, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trump-got-the-best-covid-treatment-then-declared-intent-to-abandon-millions/


Militia

The trend leads [Alexander Reid Ross] and others in his research milieu to anticipate a more serious degree of violence in the days leading up to the election, even as the overall number of incidents dwindle. Some of the energies of would-be vigilantes may be getting diverted into caravans and rallies in support of President Trump, Ross said, pushing more extremist elements in the movement to intensify their actions. . . .

“The people who are talking about this issue now are harder-core than people who were even a month ago, which does not portend well for what we’re about to face,” [Heidi] Beirich said. “I sadly don’t think we’ll get through Nov. 3 without at least one major lone wolf attack.”[5]

Some also contemplate the possibility of violence if elections results are disputed.[6]

What they don’t seem to be forecasting is the sort of uprising that I fear.[7] This is “at least one major lone wolf attack,”[8] not entire right-wing militia groups taking to the streets, initiating the race war they have so long sought.[9] I think that the paleoconservative thinking may very well be that if Donald Trump loses, white supremacist militia groups may perceive that “it’s now or never,” that this will be their last chance for that race war, that if they fail to act, that “Blacks and browns” will take power at white expense, that accordingly, they have nothing to lose.

Laura Bliss and Marie Patino, “Tracking the Shifting Shape of Far-Right Political Violence,” CityLab, October 16, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-16/is-far-right-political-violence-getting-worse


  1. [1]Associated Press, “Trump said to be improving but next 48 hours ‘critical,’” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 3, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/politics-election/concerning-signs-in-trumps-care-despite-word-hes-doing-ok/; Derek Hawkins et al., “President’s blood oxygen levels dropped twice in recent days, doctors say,” Washington Post, October 4, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/elections/2020/10/04/trump-covid-live-updates/; Melissa Healy, “Trump received dexamethasone for COVID-19. Here’s what that says about his condition,” Los Angeles Times, October 5, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2020-10-05/trump-dexamethasone-covid-19-condition; Soo Kim, “Donald Trump ‘Gasping for Air’ Video Raises Questions About President’s Health,” Newsweek, October 6, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/coronavirus-donald-trump-breathing-difficulty-gasping-air-white-house-hospital-discharge-1536598; Laura King and Chris Megerian, “Trump stages drive-by for supporters after doctors disclose more serious symptoms,” Los Angeles Times, October 4, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-10-04/trump-receiving-powerful-lung-drug-doctors-disclose-revealing-more-serious-symptoms; Gina Kolata and Apoorva Mandavilli, “Trump’s Covid Treatments Are Aimed at Preventing Severe Illness,” New York Times, October 3, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/03/health/Covid-trump-treatments.html; Maeve Reston and Gregory Krieg, “White House sows confusion about Trump’s condition as source tells reporters next 48 hours will be critical,” CNN, October 3, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/03/politics/donald-trump-coronavirus-walter-reed/index.html; Felicia Sonmez et al., “Trump returns to White House from hospital; may not be ‘out of the woods,’ doctor says,” Washington Post, October 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/elections/2020/10/05/trump-biden-live-updates/
  2. [2]Laura King and Chris Megerian, “Trump stages drive-by for supporters after doctors disclose more serious symptoms,” Los Angeles Times, October 4, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-10-04/trump-receiving-powerful-lung-drug-doctors-disclose-revealing-more-serious-symptoms; Josh Margolin and Lucien Bruggeman, “34 people connected to White House, more than previously known, infected by coronavirus: Internal FEMA memo,” ABC News, October 7, 2020, https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/34-people-connected-white-house-previously-infected-coronavirus/story?id=73487381
  3. [3]William Rivers Pitt, “Trump Got the Best COVID Treatment. For the Rest of Us He Wants ‘Herd Immunity,’” Truthout, October 15, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trump-got-the-best-covid-treatment-then-declared-intent-to-abandon-millions/
  4. [4]William Rivers Pitt, “Trump Got the Best COVID Treatment. For the Rest of Us He Wants ‘Herd Immunity,’” Truthout, October 15, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trump-got-the-best-covid-treatment-then-declared-intent-to-abandon-millions/
  5. [5]Laura Bliss and Marie Patino, “Tracking the Shifting Shape of Far-Right Political Violence,” CityLab, October 16, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-16/is-far-right-political-violence-getting-worse
  6. [6]Laura Bliss and Marie Patino, “Tracking the Shifting Shape of Far-Right Political Violence,” CityLab, October 16, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-16/is-far-right-political-violence-getting-worse
  7. [7]David Benfell, “Donald Trump’s ‘brown shirts,’” Not Housebroken, October 1, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/30/donald-trumps-brown-shirts/; David Benfell, “The very scary way to four more years,” Not Housebroken, October 13, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/25/the-very-scary-way-to-four-more-years/
  8. [8]Heidi Beirich, quoted in Laura Bliss and Marie Patino, “Tracking the Shifting Shape of Far-Right Political Violence,” CityLab, October 16, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-16/is-far-right-political-violence-getting-worse
  9. [9]Michael Kimmel, “America’s angriest white men: Up close with racism, rage and Southern supremacy,” Salon, November 17, 2013, https://www.salon.com/control/2013/11/17/americas_angriest_white_men_up_close_with_racism_rage_and_southern_supremacy/; Luke Mogelson, “The Militias Against Masks,” New Yorker, August 17, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/08/24/the-militias-against-masks

Millions more in poverty as elites continue to fail

Recession/Depression

It’s worth noting for the record that negotiations for economic relief for the recession or depression caused by the pandemic lockdowns are still stuck,[1] with little prospect for a breakthrough:[2]

source on threadreaderapp.com
Archived at 2020-10-15 07:31:24

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Jeff Stein

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13 Oct, 2 tweets, 1 min read

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A reminder that no stimulus deal at all means:

– Tens of thousands of airline workers get laid off

– No federal supplement unemployment benefits for +20 million ppl

– Severe cuts/layoffs for restaurant, hotel workers

– Checks 2.0 don’t go out to millions facing pay cuts

Pelosi insisted today to Wolf Blitzer that a deal would get done, but my sources and the sources of most reporters tracking talks are very bearish on anything happening before Nov. 3. What is Dems’ leverage after the election?[3]

Millions of people are now in poverty[4] because elites really don’t have a stake in keeping them out of poverty.[5]

Jeff Stein, [Twitter thread], Thread Reader App, October 13, 2020, https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1316133318027608064.html

Jason DeParle, “8 Million Have Slipped Into Poverty Since May as Federal Aid Has Dried Up,” New York Times, October 15, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/15/us/politics/federal-aid-poverty-levels.html


  1. [1]Jason DeParle, “8 Million Have Slipped Into Poverty Since May as Federal Aid Has Dried Up,” New York Times, October 15, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/15/us/politics/federal-aid-poverty-levels.html
  2. [2]Jeff Stein, [Twitter thread], Thread Reader App, October 13, 2020, https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1316133318027608064.html
  3. [3]Jeff Stein, [Twitter thread], Thread Reader App, October 13, 2020, https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1316133318027608064.html
  4. [4]Jason DeParle, “8 Million Have Slipped Into Poverty Since May as Federal Aid Has Dried Up,” New York Times, October 15, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/15/us/politics/federal-aid-poverty-levels.html
  5. [5]David Benfell, “The mysterious expectation that elites give a damn,” Not Housebroken, October 7, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/01/the-mysterious-expectation-that-elites-give-a-damn/

The betrayal of justice

Supreme Court

There is a new blog post entitled, “Justice and Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination.”

Maanvi Singh, “Kamala Harris grilling prompts doubtful claim from Amy Coney Barrett,” Guardian, October 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/oct/13/kamala-harris-amy-coney-barrett-senate-hearing

Kery Murakami, “Not Everyone at Notre Dame Supports Barrett,” Inside Higher Ed, October 14, 2020, https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/10/14/more-100-notre-dame-faculty-sign-statement-opposing-barrett-appointment-supreme


I warned about Bloody November. The right-wing militia groups are already hatching plots.

Militia

I’ve been warning that right wing militia might take up arms on Donald Trump’s behalf.[1] My fears are already being realized.[2]

Kayla Ruble, Laura Vozzella, and Devlin Barrett, “Whitmer plotters also discussed kidnapping Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, FBI agent testifies,” Washington Post, October 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/ralph-northam-gretchen-witmer-kidnapping-plot/2020/10/13/26b4e31a-0d5f-11eb-b1e8-16b59b92b36d_story.html


  1. [1]David Benfell, “Bloody November,” Not Housebroken, September 9, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/08/bloody-november/; David Benfell, “The very scary way to four more years,” Not Housebroken, October 1, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/25/the-very-scary-way-to-four-more-years/
  2. [2]Moriah Balingit, “Armed militia helped a Michigan barbershop open, a coronavirus defiance that puts Republican lawmakers in a bind,” Washington Post, May 12, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/coronavirus-michigan-republicans-whitmer/2020/05/12/54975e1a-9466-11ea-82b4-c8db161ff6e5_story.html; Eric Cortellessa, “US far-right extremists are now calling social distancing a Nazi policy,” Times of Israel, April 17, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/us-far-right-extremists-are-now-calling-social-distancing-a-nazi-policy/; Mike Giglio, “A Pro-Trump Militant Group Has Recruited Thousands of Police, Soldiers, and Veterans,” Atlantic, November 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/11/right-wing-militias-civil-war/616473/; Bryan Armen Graham, “‘Swastikas and nooses’: governor slams ‘racism’ of Michigan lockdown protest,” Guardian, May 3, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/may/03/michigan-gretchen-whitmer-lockdown-protest-racism; Fred Kaplan, “Is America in the Early Stages of Armed Insurgency?” Slate, September 8, 2020, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/09/america-insurgency-chaos-trump-violence.html; Robert Mackey, “Neo-Fascist Proud Boys Exult Over Trump Telling Them to ‘Stand By,’ Not Stand Down,” Intercept, September 30, 2020, https://theintercept.com/2020/09/30/neo-fascist-proud-boys-exult-trump-telling-stand-not-stand/; Mary B. McCord, “Armed Militias Are Taking Trump’s Civil War Tweets Seriously,” Lawfare, October 2, 2019, https://www.lawfareblog.com/armed-militias-are-taking-trumps-civil-war-tweets-seriously; Luke Mogelson, “The Militias Against Masks,” New Yorker, August 17, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/08/24/the-militias-against-masks; Joshua Partlow, “Politics at the point of a gun,” Washington Post, July 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/07/28/conservative-armed-militias-protests-coronavirus/; Rashawn Ray and Rebecca Shankman, “How COVID-19 is changing the gun debate,” Brookings, June 17, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2020/06/17/how-covid-19-is-changing-the-gun-debate/; Kayla Ruble, Laura Vozzella, and Devlin Barrett, “Whitmer plotters also discussed kidnapping Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, FBI agent testifies,” Washington Post, October 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/ralph-northam-gretchen-witmer-kidnapping-plot/2020/10/13/26b4e31a-0d5f-11eb-b1e8-16b59b92b36d_story.html; Kelly Weill, “Sixteen ‘Boogaloo’ Followers Have Been Busted in 7 Days,” Daily Beast, October 9, 2020, https://www.thedailybeast.com/with-the-gov-gretchen-whitmer-busts-16-boogaloo-followers-have-been-busted-in-7-days/; Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett, and Abigail Hauslohner, “FBI charges six who it says plotted to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, as seven more who wanted to ignite civil war face state charges,” Washington Post, October 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/michigan-governor-kidnap-plot/2020/10/08/0032e206-0980-11eb-9be6-cf25fb429f1a_story.html