So y’all voted for complicity and look what we got

Transition

I’m really not into personnel. When it comes to power, who will do it does not matter nearly so much to me as what they will do. But Joe Biden very much appears to be retreading Barack Obama’s path[1] in his appointments, appointments that embrace the bipartisan neoconservative and neoliberal consensus that dates to the fall of the Berlin Wall.[2]

Neoliberalism consistently favors the rich over workers and the poor, money over human beings, and the “budget” over human need. Neoconservatism, of course, never saw a war it didn’t like, and embraces neoliberalism as a moral imperative. And guess what y’all voted for?

Kate Aronoff, “The Obama Reunion Isn’t Nearly Enough to Stave Off Catastrophe,” New Republic, November 23, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/160358/obama-reunion-isnt-nearly-enough-stave-off-catastrophe

Jake Johnson, “Progressives Spurn Tanden’s Nomination to Office of Management and Budget,” Truthout, November 30, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/progressives-spurn-tandens-nomination-to-office-of-management-and-budget/

Sophia Tesfaye, “Has consummate insider Tony Blinken, Biden’s nominee for State, learned from his mistakes?” Salon, November 30, 2020, https://www.salon.com/2020/11/30/has-consummate-insider-tony-blinken-bidens-nominee-for-state-learned-from-his-mistakes/


  1. [1]David Benfell, “I told you so,” Not Housebroken, March 16, 2009, https://disunitedstates.org/2009/03/16/i-told-you-so/
  2. [2]Melvyn P. Leffler, “The Free Market Did Not Bring Down the Berlin Wall,” Foreign Policy, November 7, 2014, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/11/07/berlin_wall_fall_25_anniversary_reagan_bush_germany_merkel_cold_war_free_market_capitalism

Pennsylvania’s lunatic fringe legislature is at it again (Update #2)

There is a new blog post entitled, “Failing to answer the question: Why you should care about other people.”


Updates

  1. Originally published, November 28, 2020, 9:20 pm.
  2. November 29, 2020, 10:02 am:
    • The Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismissed with prejudice a suit brought by Republicans in the state legislature seeking to throw out ballots cast by mail or the entire election saying they had waited too long to challenge a law enabling “no excuse vote-by-mail.”[1]

      That resolution is the one that would withdraw certification of the election results.

      With the Supreme Court decision,[2] I infer that the resolution can be reintroduced and voted on. But Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman does not seem concerned. Meanwhile,

      In a separate blow to [Donald] Trump, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit on Friday rejected his request for an emergency injunction to overturn the certification of Pennsylvania’s election results. That lawsuit claimed Republicans were illegally disadvantaged because some Democratic-leaning counties in the state allowed voters to correct administrative errors on their mail ballots.[3]

      The Circuit Court said the case had “no merit.”[4]

    • Speaking of Donald Trump’s delusions,

      The facts were indisputable: President [Donald] Trump had lost.

      But Trump refused to see it that way. Sequestered in the White House and brooding out of public view after his election defeat, rageful and at times delirious in a torrent of private conversations, Trump was, in the telling of one close adviser, like “Mad King George, muttering, ‘I won. I won. I won.’ ”

      However cleareyed Trump’s aides may have been about his loss to President-elect Joe Biden, many of them nonetheless indulged their boss and encouraged him to keep fighting with legal appeals. They were “happy to scratch his itch,” this adviser said. “If he thinks he won, it’s like, ‘Shh . . . we won’t tell him.’ ”[5]

      The Washington Post has something of an inside account of Trump’s attempts to overturn the election result.[6] It’s still really like the title of my previous blog post, “When it’s over but it isn’t.” It’s not that I think Trump will succeed. It’s that unless Trump now abandons his challenges, the twisting and turning still has a ways to go. He can, for example, appeal adverse decisions in Pennsylvania[7] to the U.S. Supreme Court. Do I think he would succeed there? No. I just don’t think the story is quite yet over.

    • I’ve received notifications from the Allegheny County Health Department imploring people to stay home on much the same grounds as Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf cites here.

      People just aren’t doing it. Traffic on the roads continues to increase. A lot of people are out and about. I had a couple of passengers last night going to a bar on Pittsburgh’s South Side who said they were going before the next lockdown.


Donald Trump

A bunch of Pennsylvania lawmakers have introduced a resolution that would withdraw the certification of the results of the November election.[8] Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman has mocked the effort:

The thread continues, ultimately to four tweets, including what appears to be a video of Pinnochio.

The legislative session ends day after tomorrow (November 30) and all bills and resolutions that haven’t passed die on that date. There’s been no move to put this resolution to a vote.[9]

This is the same legislature that is stonewalling legalized recreational marijuana,[10] has desperately attempted and failed to undo Governor Tom Wolf’s orders meant to contain the pandemic,[11] and takes any excuse it can find to put more guns[12] in the hands of white supremacists.

Jan Murphy, “26 state House Republicans call for withdrawing certification of presidential electors,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 28, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/politics-election/26-state-house-republicans-call-for-withdrawing-certification-of-presidential-electors/

Philip Rucker et al., “20 days of fantasy and failure: Inside Trump’s quest to overturn the election,” Washington Post, November 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-election-overturn/2020/11/28/34f45226-2f47-11eb-96c2-aac3f162215d_story.html

Elise Viebeck, “Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismisses lawsuit against mail ballots with prejudice in another defeat for Trump,” Washington Post, November 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/pennsylvania-supreme-court-dismisses-lawsuit-against-mail-ballots-with-prejudice-in-another-defeat-for-trump/2020/11/28/d1d50ef4-31d2-11eb-96c2-aac3f162215d_story.html


  1. [1]Elise Viebeck, “Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismisses lawsuit against mail ballots with prejudice in another defeat for Trump,” Washington Post, November 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/pennsylvania-supreme-court-dismisses-lawsuit-against-mail-ballots-with-prejudice-in-another-defeat-for-trump/2020/11/28/d1d50ef4-31d2-11eb-96c2-aac3f162215d_story.html
  2. [2]Elise Viebeck, “Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismisses lawsuit against mail ballots with prejudice in another defeat for Trump,” Washington Post, November 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/pennsylvania-supreme-court-dismisses-lawsuit-against-mail-ballots-with-prejudice-in-another-defeat-for-trump/2020/11/28/d1d50ef4-31d2-11eb-96c2-aac3f162215d_story.html
  3. [3]Elise Viebeck, “Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismisses lawsuit against mail ballots with prejudice in another defeat for Trump,” Washington Post, November 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/pennsylvania-supreme-court-dismisses-lawsuit-against-mail-ballots-with-prejudice-in-another-defeat-for-trump/2020/11/28/d1d50ef4-31d2-11eb-96c2-aac3f162215d_story.html
  4. [4]Elise Viebeck, “Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismisses lawsuit against mail ballots with prejudice in another defeat for Trump,” Washington Post, November 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/pennsylvania-supreme-court-dismisses-lawsuit-against-mail-ballots-with-prejudice-in-another-defeat-for-trump/2020/11/28/d1d50ef4-31d2-11eb-96c2-aac3f162215d_story.html
  5. [5]Philip Rucker et al., “20 days of fantasy and failure: Inside Trump’s quest to overturn the election,” Washington Post, November 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-election-overturn/2020/11/28/34f45226-2f47-11eb-96c2-aac3f162215d_story.html
  6. [6]Philip Rucker et al., “20 days of fantasy and failure: Inside Trump’s quest to overturn the election,” Washington Post, November 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-election-overturn/2020/11/28/34f45226-2f47-11eb-96c2-aac3f162215d_story.html
  7. [7]Elise Viebeck, “Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismisses lawsuit against mail ballots with prejudice in another defeat for Trump,” Washington Post, November 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/pennsylvania-supreme-court-dismisses-lawsuit-against-mail-ballots-with-prejudice-in-another-defeat-for-trump/2020/11/28/d1d50ef4-31d2-11eb-96c2-aac3f162215d_story.html
  8. [8]Jan Murphy, “26 state House Republicans call for withdrawing certification of presidential electors,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 28, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/politics-election/26-state-house-republicans-call-for-withdrawing-certification-of-presidential-electors/
  9. [9]Jan Murphy, “26 state House Republicans call for withdrawing certification of presidential electors,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 28, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/politics-election/26-state-house-republicans-call-for-withdrawing-certification-of-presidential-electors/
  10. [10]WTAE, “New bill to legalize recreational marijuana unveiled by state lawmaker from Pittsburgh,” February 20, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/recreational-marijuana-bill-pittsburgh-state-rep-jake-wheatley/31025380
  11. [11]Associated Press, “Pennsylvania GOP seeks to dismantle Wolf’s shutdown,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 9, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/pennsylvania-gop-seeks-to-dismantle-wolfs-shutdown/; Associated Press, “Pennsylvania Republicans Mount New Challenge To Gov. Tom Wolf’s Pandemic Power,” KDKA, July 14, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/07/14/republicans-mount-new-challenge-to-governors-pandemic-power/; Elizabeth Hardison and Stephen Caruso, “Pa. Supreme Court throws out GOP challenge to Wolf’s COVID-19 emergency order,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, July 1, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/covid-19/pa-supreme-court-throws-out-gop-challenge-to-wolfs-covid-19-emergency-order/; Nick Matoney, “‘We can’t do this for another 90 days’: Pa. General Assembly votes to end COVID-19 emergency declaration,” WTAE, June 10, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/we-cant-do-this-for-another-90-days-pa-general-assembly-votes-to-end-covid-19-emergency-declaration/32821325; John L. Micek, “W. Pa. Rep. Metcalfe files impeachment articles to ‘remove dictator Wolf’ over pandemic response,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, June 16, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/blog/w-pa-rep-metcalfe-files-impeachment-articles-to-remove-dictator-wolf-over-pandemic-response/
  12. [12]Associated Press, “Gov. Tom Wolf Vetoes Bills On Firearms During Emergencies And Gas Drilling Regulation,” KDKA, November 26, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/11/26/wolf-vetoes-three-bills/; Stephen Caruso, “Pro 2nd Amendment lawmakers want to let you carry a gun during an emergency,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, July 7, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/government-politics/pro-2nd-amendment-lawmakers-want-to-let-you-carry-a-gun-during-an-emergency/; Jon Delano, “Lawrence Co. Lawmaker Wants To Abolish Concealed Carry Gun Permits,” KDKA, May 7, 2019, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2019/05/07/aaron-bernstine-abolish-pennsylvania-concealed-carry-law/

The delusional raging and outgoing narcissist-in-chief

Donald Trump

There is a new blog post entitled, “When it’s over but it isn’t.”

Josh Dawsey, “Trump commits to stepping down if electoral college votes for Biden,” Washington Post, November 26, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-says-he-will-leave-if-electoral-college-votes-for-biden/2020/11/26/7883351c-303b-11eb-96c2-aac3f162215d_story.html


Pandemic

The Allegheny County Health Department reports 1,642 new cases over the last 48 hours (averaging 821 per day). This is a record number, far exceeding numbers which have ranged in the up-to-600+ range in such notifications I’ve received in recent weeks. Oh yeah, and it’s Black Friday today, and I had a busy day yesterday as people travelled to Thanksgiving dinners with friends and family.

So what’s this picture gonna look like in two weeks?


The anti-Semitic Pennsylvania legislature

Privacy

Sebastian Meineck, “Five Reasons You Should Delete Telegram from Your Phone,” Vice, November 25, 2020, https://www.vice.com/en/article/jgqqv8/five-reasons-you-should-delete-telegram-from-your-phone


Pennsylvania


Fig. 1. An entrance to the Beth Abraham cemetery in Pittsburgh’s Carrick neighborhood. The Shaare Torah cemetery is very close by. Photograph by author, July 27, 2020.

One might think, in the wake of the Tree of Life shooting, wherein a white supremacist shot Jews in a Squirrel Hill (Pittsburgh) synagogue,[1] that maybe, just maybe, stricter guns laws might be called for, as indeed Pittsburgh has called for[2] and even attempted to pass on its own.[3] One might even think that the lobbyists who claim to oppose anti-Semitism would support such moves.

The Pennsylvania state legislature, however, moves in an entirely different direction.[4] And supposedly anti-anti-Semitic lobbyists are, as far as I can tell, entirely silent.

The overlap between so-called “gun rights”[5] advocacy and white supremacy is hard to miss in southwestern Pennsylvania.[6] Support for one inescapably means support for the other.

Which is to say that the Pennsylvania legislature is anti-Semitic. And should be called out for it accordingly.

Associated Press, “Gov. Tom Wolf Vetoes Bills On Firearms During Emergencies And Gas Drilling Regulation,” KDKA, November 26, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/11/26/wolf-vetoes-three-bills/


  1. [1]Campbell Robertson, Christopher Mele, and Sabrina Tavernise, “11 Killed in Synagogue Massacre; Suspect Charged With 29 Counts,” New York Times, October 27, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/27/us/active-shooter-pittsburgh-synagogue-shooting.html
  2. [2]Bob Bauder, “Pittsburgh mayor Peduto, state lawmakers call for vote on Pa. gun bills,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, August 9, 2019, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/peduto-state-lawmakers-call-for-vote-on-gun-bills/
  3. [3]Bob Bauder, “Judge strikes down Pittsburgh’s controversial gun bills,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 29, 2019, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/judge-strikes-down-pittsburghs-controversial-gun-bills/
  4. [4]Associated Press, “Gov. Tom Wolf Vetoes Bills On Firearms During Emergencies And Gas Drilling Regulation,” KDKA, November 26, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/11/26/wolf-vetoes-three-bills/; Stephen Caruso, “Pro 2nd Amendment lawmakers want to let you carry a gun during an emergency,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, July 7, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/government-politics/pro-2nd-amendment-lawmakers-want-to-let-you-carry-a-gun-during-an-emergency/; Jon Delano, “Lawrence Co. Lawmaker Wants To Abolish Concealed Carry Gun Permits,” KDKA, May 7, 2019, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2019/05/07/aaron-bernstine-abolish-pennsylvania-concealed-carry-law/
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Deconstructing the second amendment,” Not Housebroken, October 5, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/10/04/deconstructing-the-second-amendment/
  6. [6]Moriah Ella Mason, “Pittsburgh Doesn’t Need More Guns — We Need Less White Supremacy,” Forward, October 29, 2018, https://forward.com/scribe/413104/pittsburgh-doesnt-need-more-guns-we-need-less-white-supremacy/

The fizzle (Update #5)

Updates

  1. Originally published, November 22, 2020, 10:08 am.
  2. November 22, 2020, 10:57 pm:
    • Republicans are starting to say the game is up, that Donald Trump should give up his ludicrous legal challenges and his pathetic legal team and concede. Apart from disavowing one lawyer, and in a pretty bizarre way that I guess is par for this particular course,[1] there is, of course, no sign that Trump is likely to comply.
    • Driving for Uber today managed not to be horrible, mostly because I got out early. But I made it back home four times between rides. That’s a hell of a lot, the rides I did get were mostly quite short, and it is clear the doldrums have indeed begun.
  3. November 23, 2020, 8:50 am:
  4. November 23, 2020, 10:45 pm:
    • Supposedly, it’s not a concession, but Donald Trump has given the go-ahead for the formal transition to a Joe Biden presidency to begin.[2]
  5. November 25, 2020, 8:34 am:
    • Perhaps my memory fails me. But it seems to me that by now, the campaign signs in people’s yards should be coming down (posters in public places, of course, take months to collect). I’m not seeing that, at least as much as I expect this time, perhaps because Trump has been so slow to concede in any form at all. And I’m remembering the right wing militia.[3]


So, today’s (November 22) the day. It’s the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

If the pattern follows last year, business will drop off a cliff today with the ridesharing. It’s already been ugly and though I’m mostly inclined to attribute this to the approach of winter, and indeed the approach of this day, it’s possible this year’s winter doldrums will be exacerbated by the fact more people are staying home, due to the pandemic.


Donald Trump

In an earlier issue (quoting an earlier issue), I wrote,

From the previous issue:

What is Donald Trump up to, really? Really, we don’t know. Fred Hiatt outlines three possibilities.[4] Personally, I just think Trump is batshit crazy, which most resembles Hiatt’s scenario #3, but I don’t know either. His scenario #1 is essentially the electoral college manipulation[5] I’ve been talking about, which I think could draw in armed militia groups.[6] At this point, scenario #1 is probably—only probably—the least likely, but Hiatt doesn’t rule it out,[7] and I think really, he’s right not to. Scenario #2 looks a lot like the parallel government idea that Jonathan Freedland put forth.[8] This, too, could draw in the militia groups.[9]

It’s still a bit early to make the call, but at this point, Fred Hiatt’s scenario #1[10] appears to be fizzling as even local and state Republicans mostly quietly decline Donald Trump’s demand to overturn the election results.[11] Even scenario #2[12] would be a costly endeavor with a questionable chance of success. That pretty much leaves Trump his Twitter account and whatever he can cobble together in various media deals and rallies.[13]

There’s one factor unaccounted for in all of this. Trump retains the support of a large portion of the population, including some—we don’t know how many or how well equipped—who’ve been preparing for civil war.[14] So far, I’m not seeing the rumblings that suggest something is really afoot. But as it becomes increasingly clear even to Trump’s most ardent supporters that he has lost, that still might change.

Meanwhile, the Times (of London) reminds us that Trump’s post-presidential woes aren’t limited[15] to his debts and probable tax liabilities.[16] Other legal battles also await.[17] And we really don’t know where he’ll be tweeting from.[18]

Right now, it’s gotta be looking pretty bleak for our delusional raging narcissist. But then I’ve underestimated him before.

Toluse Olorunnipa, Amy B. Wang, and Chelsea Janes, “Trump’s quest to overturn election runs into quiet resistance from local and state Republicans,” Washington Post, November 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-michigan-georgia-pennsylvania-certify-votes-state-lawmakers/2020/11/21/1f410296-2b9e-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html

Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker, and Josh Dawsey, “Trump privately plots his next act — including a potential 2024 run,” Washington Post, November 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-2024-rematch/2020/11/21/58ce87ac-2a8d-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html

Josh Glancy, “Beaten Trump may never be able to retire to his winter White House,” Times, November 22, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/beaten-trump-may-never-be-able-to-retire-to-his-winter-white-house-353tc09h5


  1. [1]Miranda Bryant, “Trump faces pressure from Republicans to drop ‘corrosive’ fight to overturn election,” Guardian, November 22, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/nov/22/trump-republicans-pressure-fight-overturn-election
  2. [2]Jeff Mason and Trevor Hunnicutt, “Trump finally gives the green light to proceed with Biden transition,” Reuters, November 23, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election/u-s-general-services-administration-allows-biden-transition-funds-to-begin-idUSKBN2830EB
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Bloody November,” Not Housebroken, October 13, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/08/bloody-november/; David Benfell, “Donald Trump’s ‘brown shirts,’” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/30/donald-trumps-brown-shirts/; David Benfell, “The very scary way to four more years,” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/25/the-very-scary-way-to-four-more-years/
  4. [4]Fred Hiatt, “Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wants-to-overturn-the-results-of-a-free-and-fair-election-theres-a-word-for-that/2020/11/13/cb94b77e-25b6-11eb-952e-0c475972cfc0_story.html
  5. [5]Max Boot, “What if Trump loses but insists he won?” Washington Post, July 6, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/06/what-if-trump-loses-insists-he-won/; Rosa Brooks, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Washington Post, September 3, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/09/03/trump-stay-in-office/; Marjorie Cohn, “Trump’s Frivolous Lawsuits Are the Tip of the Iceberg in His Refusal to Concede,” Truthout, November 11, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-frivolous-lawsuits-are-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-in-his-refusal-to-concede/; Eric Lach, “What Happens if Donald Trump Fights the Election Results?” New Yorker, August 21, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/campaign-chronicles/what-happens-if-donald-trump-fights-the-election-results; Robert McCartney, “Here’s one way Trump could try to steal the election, voting experts say,” Washington Post, August 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/heres-one-way-trump-could-try-to-steal-the-election-voting-experts-say/2020/08/16/b5bf0c2a-de66-11ea-b205-ff838e15a9a6_story.html; Timothy E. Wirth and Tom Rogers, “How Trump Could Lose the Election—And Still Remain President,” Newsweek, July 3, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/how-trump-could-lose-election-still-remain-president-opinion-1513975
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Bloody November,” Not Housebroken, October 13, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/08/bloody-november/; David Benfell, “Donald Trump’s ‘brown shirts,’” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/30/donald-trumps-brown-shirts/; David Benfell, “The very scary way to four more years,” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/25/the-very-scary-way-to-four-more-years/; David Benfell, “Epistemology in the present U.S. political crisis,” Not Housebroken, November 14, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/12/epistemology-in-the-present-u-s-political-crisis/
  7. [7]Fred Hiatt, “Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wants-to-overturn-the-results-of-a-free-and-fair-election-theres-a-word-for-that/2020/11/13/cb94b77e-25b6-11eb-952e-0c475972cfc0_story.html
  8. [8]Jonathan Freedland, “This is no conventional coup. Trump is paving the way for a ‘virtual Confederacy,'” Guardian, November 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/13/trump-coup-virtual-confederacy-race-legal-trumpian
  9. [9]David Benfell, “The pandemic’s fall surge in Allegheny County,” Irregular Bullshit, November 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/11/15/the-pandemics-fall-surge-in-allegheny-county/
  10. [10]Fred Hiatt, “Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wants-to-overturn-the-results-of-a-free-and-fair-election-theres-a-word-for-that/2020/11/13/cb94b77e-25b6-11eb-952e-0c475972cfc0_story.html
  11. [11]Toluse Olorunnipa, Amy B. Wang, and Chelsea Janes, “Trump’s quest to overturn election runs into quiet resistance from local and state Republicans,” Washington Post, November 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-michigan-georgia-pennsylvania-certify-votes-state-lawmakers/2020/11/21/1f410296-2b9e-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html
  12. [12]Fred Hiatt, “Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wants-to-overturn-the-results-of-a-free-and-fair-election-theres-a-word-for-that/2020/11/13/cb94b77e-25b6-11eb-952e-0c475972cfc0_story.html
  13. [13]Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker, and Josh Dawsey, “Trump privately plots his next act — including a potential 2024 run,” Washington Post, November 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-2024-rematch/2020/11/21/58ce87ac-2a8d-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html
  14. [14]David Benfell, “Bloody November,” Not Housebroken, October 13, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/08/bloody-november/; David Benfell, “Donald Trump’s ‘brown shirts,’” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/30/donald-trumps-brown-shirts/; David Benfell, “The very scary way to four more years,” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/25/the-very-scary-way-to-four-more-years/; David Benfell, “Epistemology in the present U.S. political crisis,” Not Housebroken, November 14, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/12/epistemology-in-the-present-u-s-political-crisis/
  15. [15]Josh Glancy, “Beaten Trump may never be able to retire to his winter White House,” Times, November 22, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/beaten-trump-may-never-be-able-to-retire-to-his-winter-white-house-353tc09h5
  16. [16]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/; Jane Mayer, “Why Trump Can’t Afford to Lose,” New Yorker, November 1, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/11/09/why-trump-cant-afford-to-lose
  17. [17]Josh Glancy, “Beaten Trump may never be able to retire to his winter White House,” Times, November 22, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/beaten-trump-may-never-be-able-to-retire-to-his-winter-white-house-353tc09h5
  18. [18]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; Josh Glancy, “Beaten Trump may never be able to retire to his winter White House,” Times, November 22, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/beaten-trump-may-never-be-able-to-retire-to-his-winter-white-house-353tc09h5

From the delusional raging narcissist-in-chief to the delusional neoliberal (Update #4)

Updates

  1. Originally published, November 19, 2020, 10:43 am.

  2. November 20, 2020, 12:04 pm:

    • In an earlier issue (quoting an earlier issue), I wrote,

      From the previous issue:

      What is Donald Trump up to, really? Really, we don’t know. Fred Hiatt outlines three possibilities.[1] Personally, I just think Trump is batshit crazy, which most resembles Hiatt’s scenario #3, but I don’t know either. His scenario #1 is essentially the electoral college manipulation[2] I’ve been talking about, which I think could draw in armed militia groups.[3] At this point, scenario #1 is probably—only probably—the least likely, but Hiatt doesn’t rule it out,[4] and I think really, he’s right not to. Scenario #2 looks a lot like the parallel government idea that Jonathan Freedland put forth.[5] This, too, could draw in the militia groups.[6]

      It now appears that Donald Trump is very much pursuing Fred Hiatt’s scenario #1 as Republicans pressed the Wayne County (Michigan) Board of Elections to not certify election results. The Board initially deadlocked but later ratified the outcome.[7]

      A New York Times report, that Robert Costa linked to in the above tweet, suggests that Lindsey Graham is pursuing a similar strategy in his contacts with state elections officials.[8]

      To put it mildly, the effort is falling short.[9] But it’s making a lot of noise that amplifies Trump’s sense of grievance—all those yard signs and flags that say “Stop The Bullshit” and “Drain The Swamp” come to mind—setting up scenario #2.[10]

      This was the basis of the blog post I wrote that frankly scares the shit out of me, entitled, “Dual sovereignty in the not-quite post-Trump era.”

      Washington Post reporting now confirms beyond a reasonable doubt[11] that Fred Hiatt’s scenario #1,[12] involving an attempt to manipulate the electoral college process,[13] is now fully in play. It appears highly unlikely to succeed.[14] But also as noted, it sets up scenario #2,[15] the “government-in-exile”/media network scenario that challenges the legitimacy of a Joe Biden presidency,[16] even as judge after judge rejects Donald Trump’s claims, even as election board after election board certifies election results.[17] Because conspiracy theories are easy, especially when large numbers of people feel wronged by traditional authority.[18]

  3. November 21, 2020, 11:12 am:

  4. November 21, 2020, 10:31 pm:

    • A federal judge has dismissed the Trump campaign’s attempt, spearheaded by a doddering Rudy Giuliani,[19] to throw out the Pennsylvania vote—yes, all 6 million ballots.[20]


Transition

The story of Donald Trump’s refusal to concede and of a denial of the reality that he has lost the election that he fruitlessly and frivolously pursues in the courts, all while laying the groundwork for an alternative reality “government-in-exile” media network,[21] has shifted, at least for the moment, to the spectacle of an aging Rudy Giuliani, who has apparently forgotten how to plead in court, making an ass of himself in arguing those claims in a federal court in Pennsylvania.[22] It’s not a pretty picture but Robin Givhan points out that Giuliani’s aura arises largely from his performance as New York City mayor in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, and that the rest of the picture has never been so nice.[23]

We should not, however, lose sight of the larger picture, which includes the possibility of that “government in exile.” My blog post on this topic yesterday (November 18) honestly sent chills down my spine. It’s a possibility that is all too possibly all too close to fruition.

Speaking of delusional figures, there’s the incoming Joe Biden, who imagines absurdly that Republicans will come to their senses once they grapple with the reality that he has won the election.[24] But Biden, who even in a pandemic, when millions have lost their jobs and the health insurance attached to those jobs,[25] opposes Medicare For All,[26] persists in neoliberal dogma, and George Monbiot argues that the failure to learn the lessons of Barack Obama’s dogmatic failures paves the way for an even more dangerous, that is, less incompetent and more intelligent, version of Trump to arise in 2024.[27]

If you think the country is in a crisis, whether due to Donald Trump’s antics, or due to the COVID-19 pandemic, or due to anything else, then you should value leadership that faces reality. This seems not to be an option.

And if your defense of Biden against that charge is that “[p]olitics is the art of the possible,”[28] then you echo my formerly favorite professor’s defense of a government that commits war crimes and you suggest that preservation of the political system is of greater importance than human life. You might want to think about your priorities there.

Robin Givhan, “Rudy Giuliani is a mess,” Washington Post, November 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/11/18/rudy-giuliani-is-mess/

George Monbiot, “Monster Makers,” November 18, 2020, https://www.monbiot.com/2020/11/18/monster-makers/

Philip Rucker, Amy Gardner, and Josh Dawsey, “Trump uses power of presidency to try to overturn the election and stay in office,” Washington Post, November 19, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-uses-power-of-presidency-to-try-to-overturn-the-election-and-stay-in-office/2020/11/19/bc89caa6-2a9f-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html

Jon Swaine, “In scathing opinion, federal judge dismisses Trump campaign lawsuit in Pennsylvania,” Washington Post, November 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/us-judge-dismisses-trump-campaign-lawsuit-in-pa/2020/11/21/cc097fbe-2c50-11eb-9b14-ad872157ebc9_story.html


  1. [1]Fred Hiatt, “Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wants-to-overturn-the-results-of-a-free-and-fair-election-theres-a-word-for-that/2020/11/13/cb94b77e-25b6-11eb-952e-0c475972cfc0_story.html
  2. [2]Max Boot, “What if Trump loses but insists he won?” Washington Post, July 6, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/06/what-if-trump-loses-insists-he-won/; Rosa Brooks, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Washington Post, September 3, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/09/03/trump-stay-in-office/; Marjorie Cohn, “Trump’s Frivolous Lawsuits Are the Tip of the Iceberg in His Refusal to Concede,” Truthout, November 11, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-frivolous-lawsuits-are-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-in-his-refusal-to-concede/; Eric Lach, “What Happens if Donald Trump Fights the Election Results?” New Yorker, August 21, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/campaign-chronicles/what-happens-if-donald-trump-fights-the-election-results; Robert McCartney, “Here’s one way Trump could try to steal the election, voting experts say,” Washington Post, August 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/heres-one-way-trump-could-try-to-steal-the-election-voting-experts-say/2020/08/16/b5bf0c2a-de66-11ea-b205-ff838e15a9a6_story.html; Timothy E. Wirth and Tom Rogers, “How Trump Could Lose the Election—And Still Remain President,” Newsweek, July 3, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/how-trump-could-lose-election-still-remain-president-opinion-1513975
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Bloody November,” Not Housebroken, October 13, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/08/bloody-november/; David Benfell, “Donald Trump’s ‘brown shirts,’” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/30/donald-trumps-brown-shirts/; David Benfell, “The very scary way to four more years,” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/25/the-very-scary-way-to-four-more-years/; David Benfell, “Epistemology in the present U.S. political crisis,” Not Housebroken, November 14, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/12/epistemology-in-the-present-u-s-political-crisis/
  4. [4]Fred Hiatt, “Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wants-to-overturn-the-results-of-a-free-and-fair-election-theres-a-word-for-that/2020/11/13/cb94b77e-25b6-11eb-952e-0c475972cfc0_story.html
  5. [5]Jonathan Freedland, “This is no conventional coup. Trump is paving the way for a ‘virtual Confederacy,'” Guardian, November 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/13/trump-coup-virtual-confederacy-race-legal-trumpian
  6. [6]David Benfell, “The pandemic’s fall surge in Allegheny County,” Irregular Bullshit, November 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/11/15/the-pandemics-fall-surge-in-allegheny-county/
  7. [7]Kayla Ruble and Tom Hamburger, “Board in key Michigan county fails, then agrees, to certify vote totals by deadline,” Washington Post, November 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/michigan-vote-canvassing-board/2020/11/17/12141222-287c-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html
  8. [8]Stephanie Saul, “Lindsey Graham’s Long-Shot Mission to Unravel the Election Results,” New York Times, November 17, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/17/us/politics/lindsey-graham-georgia-trump-biden.html
  9. [9]Aaron Blake, “Trump lawyers suffer embarrassing rebukes from judges over voter fraud claims,” Washington Post, November 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/11/11/trump-lawyers-suffer-embarrassing-rebukes-judges-over-voter-fraud-claims/; Marjorie Cohn, “Trump’s Frivolous Lawsuits Are the Tip of the Iceberg in His Refusal to Concede,” Truthout, November 11, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-frivolous-lawsuits-are-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-in-his-refusal-to-concede/; Pam Fessler, “Led By Giuliani, Trump Campaign Effort To Stop Certification Falters In Pennsylvania,” National Public Radio, November 17, 2020, https://www.npr.org/2020/11/17/936027693/led-by-giuliani-trump-campaign-effort-to-stop-certification-falters-in-pennsylvaJonathan Freedland, “This is no conventional coup. Trump is paving the way for a ‘virtual Confederacy,'” Guardian, November 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/13/trump-coup-virtual-confederacy-race-legal-trumpian; Kayla Ruble and Tom Hamburger, “Board in key Michigan county fails, then agrees, to certify vote totals by deadline,” Washington Post, November 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/michigan-vote-canvassing-board/2020/11/17/12141222-287c-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html
  10. [10]David Benfell, “Pittsburgh should be ashamed but isn’t, really, and that’s a problem,” Irregular Bullshit, November 18, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/11/17/pittsburgh-should-be-ashamed-but-isnt-really-and-thats-a-problem/
  11. [11]Philip Rucker, Amy Gardner, and Josh Dawsey, “Trump uses power of presidency to try to overturn the election and stay in office,” Washington Post, November 19, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-uses-power-of-presidency-to-try-to-overturn-the-election-and-stay-in-office/2020/11/19/bc89caa6-2a9f-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html
  12. [12]Fred Hiatt, “Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wants-to-overturn-the-results-of-a-free-and-fair-election-theres-a-word-for-that/2020/11/13/cb94b77e-25b6-11eb-952e-0c475972cfc0_story.html
  13. [13]Max Boot, “What if Trump loses but insists he won?” Washington Post, July 6, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/06/what-if-trump-loses-insists-he-won/; Rosa Brooks, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Washington Post, September 3, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/09/03/trump-stay-in-office/; Marjorie Cohn, “Trump’s Frivolous Lawsuits Are the Tip of the Iceberg in His Refusal to Concede,” Truthout, November 11, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-frivolous-lawsuits-are-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-in-his-refusal-to-concede/; Eric Lach, “What Happens if Donald Trump Fights the Election Results?” New Yorker, August 21, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/campaign-chronicles/what-happens-if-donald-trump-fights-the-election-results; Robert McCartney, “Here’s one way Trump could try to steal the election, voting experts say,” Washington Post, August 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/heres-one-way-trump-could-try-to-steal-the-election-voting-experts-say/2020/08/16/b5bf0c2a-de66-11ea-b205-ff838e15a9a6_story.html; Timothy E. Wirth and Tom Rogers, “How Trump Could Lose the Election—And Still Remain President,” Newsweek, July 3, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/how-trump-could-lose-election-still-remain-president-opinion-1513975
  14. [14]Philip Rucker, Amy Gardner, and Josh Dawsey, “Trump uses power of presidency to try to overturn the election and stay in office,” Washington Post, November 19, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-uses-power-of-presidency-to-try-to-overturn-the-election-and-stay-in-office/2020/11/19/bc89caa6-2a9f-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html
  15. [15]Fred Hiatt, “Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wants-to-overturn-the-results-of-a-free-and-fair-election-theres-a-word-for-that/2020/11/13/cb94b77e-25b6-11eb-952e-0c475972cfc0_story.html
  16. [16]Mike Allen, “Trump eyes digital media empire to take on Fox News,” Axios, November 12, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-fox-news-digital-media-competitor-25afddee-144d-4820-8ed4-9eb0ffa42420.html; Jonathan Freedland, “This is no conventional coup. Trump is paving the way for a ‘virtual Confederacy,'” Guardian, November 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/13/trump-coup-virtual-confederacy-race-legal-trumpian
  17. [17]Philip Rucker, Amy Gardner, and Josh Dawsey, “Trump uses power of presidency to try to overturn the election and stay in office,” Washington Post, November 19, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-uses-power-of-presidency-to-try-to-overturn-the-election-and-stay-in-office/2020/11/19/bc89caa6-2a9f-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html
  18. [18]David Benfell, “The pandemic and a crisis of illegitimate authority,” Not Housebroken, May 14, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/05/12/the-pandemic-and-a-crisis-of-illegitimate-authority/; Jason Togyer, “Fear and Loathing in the Time of Coronavirus,” Columbia Journalism Review, March 25, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/special_report/mckeesport-year-of-fear-covid-19-pandemic.php; Jason Togyer, “How Facebook has undermined communal conversation in McKeesport,” Columbia Journalism Review, June 18, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/special_report/year-of-fear-chapter-19-facebook-undermined-conversation-in-mckeesport.php
  19. [19]Pam Fessler, “Led By Giuliani, Trump Campaign Effort To Stop Certification Falters In Pennsylvania,” National Public Radio, November 17, 2020, https://www.npr.org/2020/11/17/936027693/led-by-giuliani-trump-campaign-effort-to-stop-certification-falters-in-pennsylva; Josh Gerstein, “Trump campaign revises Pennsylvania suit, again,” Politico, November 18, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/18/trump-pennsylvania-election-lawsuit-437996; Robin Givhan, “Rudy Giuliani is a mess,” Washington Post, November 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/11/18/rudy-giuliani-is-mess/; Paula Reed Ward, “Federal judge to consider whether to dismiss case filed by Trump campaign in Pa.,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 17, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/federal-judge-to-consider-whether-to-dismiss-case-filed-by-trump-campaign-in-pa/
  20. [20]Jon Swaine, “In scathing opinion, federal judge dismisses Trump campaign lawsuit in Pennsylvania,” Washington Post, November 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/us-judge-dismisses-trump-campaign-lawsuit-in-pa/2020/11/21/cc097fbe-2c50-11eb-9b14-ad872157ebc9_story.html
  21. [21]Mike Allen, “Trump eyes digital media empire to take on Fox News,” Axios, November 12, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-fox-news-digital-media-competitor-25afddee-144d-4820-8ed4-9eb0ffa42420.html; Aaron Blake, “Trump lawyers suffer embarrassing rebukes from judges over voter fraud claims,” Washington Post, November 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/11/11/trump-lawyers-suffer-embarrassing-rebukes-judges-over-voter-fraud-claims/; Mark Bray, “Trump’s Baseless Fraud Accusations Are Already Sparking Far Right Violence,” Truthout, November 9, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-baseless-fraud-accusations-are-already-sparking-far-right-violence/; Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, “Trump team eyes legal, political Hail Marys as options for comeback fade,” Politico, November 6, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/06/trump-legal-political-lawsuit-election-434786; Marjorie Cohn, “Trump’s Frivolous Lawsuits Are the Tip of the Iceberg in His Refusal to Concede,” Truthout, November 11, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-frivolous-lawsuits-are-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-in-his-refusal-to-concede/; Deb Erdley, “State lawmakers call for creation of a panel to investigate, audit election,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 10, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/regional/state-lawmakers-call-for-creation-of-a-panel-to-investigate-audit-election/; Jonathan Freedland, “This is no conventional coup. Trump is paving the way for a ‘virtual Confederacy,'” Guardian, November 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/13/trump-coup-virtual-confederacy-race-legal-trumpian; Fred Hiatt, “Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wants-to-overturn-the-results-of-a-free-and-fair-election-theres-a-word-for-that/2020/11/13/cb94b77e-25b6-11eb-952e-0c475972cfc0_story.html; Marissa J. Lang et al., “After thousands of Trump supporters rally in D.C., violence erupts when night falls,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2020/11/14/million-maga-march-dc-protests/; David Nakamura, “Trump’s bid to discredit election raises fear that he will undermine a smooth transfer of power,” Washington Post, November 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-concession-transition-power/2020/11/07/2b4cf640-20e4-11eb-b532-05c751cd5dc2_story.html; Kayla Ruble and Tom Hamburger, “Board in key Michigan county fails, then agrees, to certify vote totals by deadline,” Washington Post, November 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/michigan-vote-canvassing-board/2020/11/17/12141222-287c-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html; Stephanie Saul, “Lindsey Graham’s Long-Shot Mission to Unravel the Election Results,” New York Times, November 17, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/17/us/politics/lindsey-graham-georgia-trump-biden.html
  22. [22]Pam Fessler, “Led By Giuliani, Trump Campaign Effort To Stop Certification Falters In Pennsylvania,” National Public Radio, November 17, 2020, https://www.npr.org/2020/11/17/936027693/led-by-giuliani-trump-campaign-effort-to-stop-certification-falters-in-pennsylva; Josh Gerstein, “Trump campaign revises Pennsylvania suit, again,” Politico, November 18, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/18/trump-pennsylvania-election-lawsuit-437996; Robin Givhan, “Rudy Giuliani is a mess,” Washington Post, November 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/11/18/rudy-giuliani-is-mess/; Paula Reed Ward, “Federal judge to consider whether to dismiss case filed by Trump campaign in Pa.,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 17, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/federal-judge-to-consider-whether-to-dismiss-case-filed-by-trump-campaign-in-pa/
  23. [23]Robin Givhan, “Rudy Giuliani is a mess,” Washington Post, November 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/11/18/rudy-giuliani-is-mess/
  24. [24]Eric Bradner and Gregory Krieg, “Joe Biden predicts a post-Trump ‘epiphany’ for Republicans,” CNN, May 14, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/14/politics/joe-biden-republicans-trump-epiphany/index.html; Moira Donegan, “What does Biden have in common with Trump? Delusional nostalgia,” Guardian, June 21, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/21/joe-biden-trump-sexism-delusional-nostalgia; Matt Ford, “Someone Please Tell Joe Biden That Bipartisanship Is Dead,” New Republic, June 12, 2019, https://newrepublic.com/article/154183/someone-please-tell-joe-biden-bipartisanship-dead; Paul Waldman, “Joe Biden still hasn’t learned the lessons of the Obama presidency,” Washington Post, December 6, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/12/06/joe-biden-still-hasnt-learned-lessons-obama-presidency/
  25. [25]Kim Hart, “The coronavirus economy will devastate those who can least afford it,” Axios, March 23, 2020, https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-economy-layoffs-children-families-bad-d588cc93-ff26-4031-8be8-5654cce05a15.html; Heather Long, “Over 10 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in March as economy collapsed,” Washington Post, April 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/02/jobless-march-coronavirus/; Heather Long, “Jobless rate soared to 14.7% in April as U.S. shed 20.5 million jobs amid coronavirus pandemic,” Washington Post, May 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/05/08/april-2020-jobs-report/; Eric Morath, Harriet Torry, and Gwynn Guilford, “A Second Round of Coronavirus Layoffs Has Begun. Few Are Safe,” Wall Street Journal, April 14, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-second-round-of-coronavirus-layoffs-has-begun-no-one-is-safe-11586872387; Andy Sullivan and Brad Brooks, “‘The government is failing us’: Laid-off Americans struggle in coronavirus crisis,” Reuters, May 7, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-05-07/coronavirus-weekly-jobless-unemployment-numbers
  26. [26]Tim Marchman, “Joe Biden: It Would Be an Insult to My Dead Son for Everyone to Have Healthcare,” Vice, August 27, 2019, https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/vb5d7y/joe-biden-medicare-for-all-would-be-an-insult-to-my-dead-son; Marina Pitofsky, “Biden cites delays, cost when asked about Medicare for All veto,” Hill, March 10, 2020, https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/486749-biden-cites-delays-cost-when-asked-about-medicare-for-all-veto
  27. [27]George Monbiot, “Monster Makers,” November 18, 2020, https://www.monbiot.com/2020/11/18/monster-makers/
  28. [28]Otto von Bismarck, quoted in John Bartlett, ed., Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, 17th ed. (New York: Little, Brown, 2002), 502.

Pittsburgh should be ashamed but isn’t, really, and that’s a problem (Update #8)

Updates

  1. Originally published, November 17, 2020, 11:17 am.

  2. November 17, 2020, 12:40 pm:

    • Folks are calling for Republican Senator Lindsey Graham’s head after he had what he calls a “good conversation” with Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State that the latter alleges pressured him to not count legal votes.[1] My bet is that, in the name of “comity,” for which you should read Democrats’ capitulation to and complicity with Republicans, Joe Biden will do nothing.

  3. November 17, 2020, 9:57 pm:

    • In the dispute over that phone call Lindsey Graham made to Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State,[2] Karen Tumulty asks, “Why in the world was Graham, who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, nosing around in the ballot-counting process of a state he doesn’t even represent?”[3] Given that a number of folks think that even Graham’s explanation doesn’t excuse the call,[4] it would seem that Graham has some explaining to do. But of course, he’s immune. You know, “comity” and all that.

  4. November 18, 2020, 4:44 am:

    • From the previous issue:

      What is Donald Trump up to, really? Really, we don’t know. Fred Hiatt outlines three possibilities.[5] Personally, I just think Trump is batshit crazy, which most resembles Hiatt’s scenario #3, but I don’t know either. His scenario #1 is essentially the electoral college manipulation[6] I’ve been talking about, which I think could draw in armed militia groups.[7] At this point, scenario #1 is probably—only probably—the least likely, but Hiatt doesn’t rule it out,[8] and I think really, he’s right not to. Scenario #2 looks a lot like the parallel government idea that Jonathan Freedland put forth.[9] This, too, could draw in the militia groups.[10]

      It now appears that Donald Trump is very much pursuing Fred Hiatt’s scenario #1 as Republicans pressed the Wayne County (Michigan) Board of Elections to not certify election results. The Board initially deadlocked but later ratified the outcome.[11]

      A New York Times report, that Robert Costa linked to in the above tweet, suggests that Lindsey Graham is pursuing a similar strategy in his contacts with state elections officials.[12]

      To put it mildly, the effort is falling short.[13] But it’s making a lot of noise that amplifies Trump’s sense of grievance—all those yard signs and flags that say “Stop The Bullshit” and “Drain The Swamp” come to mind—setting up scenario #2.

      There will be a serious question as to whether this country will be governable in a conventional sense as this unfolds.

  5. November 18, 2020, 9:15 am:

    • I forgot to close a footnote with the previous update. This has now been repaired.

    • So just how bad was that hearing in Pennsylvania with Rudy Giuliani representing Donald Trump?[14] I can’t even begin. But if you thought Giuliani was a clown, I have nothing to counter that impression.

      The hearing was on a motion by defendants, these being the Pennsylvania secretary of state and seven Pennsylvania counties, to dismiss the case outright. Simply put, a lot of Giuliani’s reported argumentation[15] was not serious argumentation. So if you think Giuliani is anything besides a dementia-sufferer, then you have to view the suit as seeking something besides the relief it asks for. Either that Giuliani is completely out of his depth or that this is an attempt to show that Trump cannot even get a hearing, that the courts are still stacked against him.

      Giuliani is nursing Trump’s grievance, Trump’s victimhood.

      But Trump’s grievance, his victimhood are not his alone. They are Trumpsters’ grievance, Trumpsters’ victimhood. They are an authoritarian populist grievance and an authoritarian populist victimhood that Republican leaders cultivated for decades[16] prior to Trump’s victory in 2016, the grievance and the victimhood of a 1,000 years of elite disdain and exploitation.[17]

      Giuliani is nursing their grievance, their victimhood, as well. Fred Hiatt’s scenario #2 is looking all the more likely.[18]

  6. November 18, 2020, 1:00 pm:

  7. November 18, 2020, 5:52 pm:

    • Due to what I think is a snafu, I’m unable to go online with Uber, and Lyft has, for the second time this year, ordered a background check on me, so I am presently unable to drive for either company. I don’t know how long this will last.

  8. November 18, 2020, 7:18 pm:

    • I finally received a response from Uber (figure 1):


      Fig. 1. Screenshot, taken at 7:11 pm, of response from Uber regarding my problem going on line today. It’s been all afternoon and evening.


Pittsburgh

I had a young passenger not so long ago and as we were driving across Mount Lebanon, I noted the prevalence of Confederate flags, not so much there, but elsewhere around Pittsburgh. He pointed out that we are north of the Mason-Dixon Line and said that people around here mostly think of those who fly those flags as nuts.

That may be true. But there are a lot of those Confederate flags, often side-by-side with thin blue line flags, often side-by-side with Trump flags. Corresponding bumper stickers often sit side-by-side with those supporting alleged[19] gun rights. I no longer have any doubt that those who defend the police are, in fact, white supremacist, that those who support Trump are, in fact, racist,[20] and even that those who fly the U.S. flag day after day are highly likely to be racist.[21] All of these are emblems of hatred for the “other” and there are an awful lot of what my passenger called “nuts.”

Fig. 1. Gratuitously displayed gun locations. Map created by author, updated as new weapons or related displays are found and recorded.

I didn’t challenge him on this, but I worried that my passenger, and probably a lot of people here, diminish the problem. Most people probably don’t see the signs of white supremacism that I do as they drive out of their neighborhoods onto main roads. Though I’ve talked to a few who’ve also noticed that the banners commemorating military service members are almost invariably of whites. Most don’t even notice the gratuitously displayed guns that are all over the place (figure 1) but especially in or near poor neighborhoods, in an area with a pronounced intersection of race and class.[22]

To see what I see and to diminish it, or to fail to make the association I do, would surely be to be complicit. But I wonder about people who have lived their entire lives in what the Federal Bureau of Investigation recently declared a “hub” for white supremacy[23] and what Ryan Deto reports has been one at least since the 1920s.[24]

Ryan Deto, “The FBI declared Pgh. a new hub for white supremacy. That ignores decades of history,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, November 16, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/civil-rights-social-justice/the-fbi-declared-pgh-a-hub-for-white-supremacy-it-has-a-long-history-already/


Transition

Amy Gardner, “Ga. secretary of state says fellow Republicans are pressuring him to find ways to exclude ballots,” Washington Post, November 16, 2020 https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/brad-raffensperger-georgia-vote/2020/11/16/6b6cb2f4-283e-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html

Pam Fessler, “Led By Giuliani, Trump Campaign Effort To Stop Certification Falters In Pennsylvania,” National Public Radio, November 17, 2020, https://www.npr.org/2020/11/17/936027693/led-by-giuliani-trump-campaign-effort-to-stop-certification-falters-in-pennsylva

Jacob Jarvis, “Lindsey Graham Critics Want Probes, Judiciary Resignation Over Georgia Ballot Claims,” Newsweek, November 17, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/lindsey-graham-calls-resign-judiciary-chairman-ballot-allegations-1547928

Kayla Ruble and Tom Hamburger, “Board in key Michigan county fails, then agrees, to certify vote totals by deadline,” Washington Post, November 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/michigan-vote-canvassing-board/2020/11/17/12141222-287c-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html

Stephanie Saul, “Lindsey Graham’s Long-Shot Mission to Unravel the Election Results,” New York Times, November 17, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/17/us/politics/lindsey-graham-georgia-trump-biden.html

Karen Tumulty, “Lindsey Graham’s claim that he wasn’t interfering in the Georgia vote doesn’t add up,” Washington Post, November 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/11/17/lindsey-graham-claim-wasnt-interfering-georgia-vote-doesnt-add-up/


  1. [1]Amy Gardner, “Ga. secretary of state says fellow Republicans are pressuring him to find ways to exclude ballots,” Washington Post, November 16, 2020 https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/brad-raffensperger-georgia-vote/2020/11/16/6b6cb2f4-283e-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html; Jacob Jarvis, “Lindsey Graham Critics Want Probes, Judiciary Resignation Over Georgia Ballot Claims,” Newsweek, November 17, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/lindsey-graham-calls-resign-judiciary-chairman-ballot-allegations-1547928
  2. [2]Amy Gardner, “Ga. secretary of state says fellow Republicans are pressuring him to find ways to exclude ballots,” Washington Post, November 16, 2020 https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/brad-raffensperger-georgia-vote/2020/11/16/6b6cb2f4-283e-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html; Jacob Jarvis, “Lindsey Graham Critics Want Probes, Judiciary Resignation Over Georgia Ballot Claims,” Newsweek, November 17, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/lindsey-graham-calls-resign-judiciary-chairman-ballot-allegations-1547928
  3. [3]Karen Tumulty, “Lindsey Graham’s claim that he wasn’t interfering in the Georgia vote doesn’t add up,” Washington Post, November 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/11/17/lindsey-graham-claim-wasnt-interfering-georgia-vote-doesnt-add-up/
  4. [4]Jacob Jarvis, “Lindsey Graham Critics Want Probes, Judiciary Resignation Over Georgia Ballot Claims,” Newsweek, November 17, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/lindsey-graham-calls-resign-judiciary-chairman-ballot-allegations-1547928
  5. [5]Fred Hiatt, “Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wants-to-overturn-the-results-of-a-free-and-fair-election-theres-a-word-for-that/2020/11/13/cb94b77e-25b6-11eb-952e-0c475972cfc0_story.html
  6. [6]Max Boot, “What if Trump loses but insists he won?” Washington Post, July 6, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/06/what-if-trump-loses-insists-he-won/; Rosa Brooks, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Washington Post, September 3, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/09/03/trump-stay-in-office/; Marjorie Cohn, “Trump’s Frivolous Lawsuits Are the Tip of the Iceberg in His Refusal to Concede,” Truthout, November 11, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-frivolous-lawsuits-are-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-in-his-refusal-to-concede/; Eric Lach, “What Happens if Donald Trump Fights the Election Results?” New Yorker, August 21, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/campaign-chronicles/what-happens-if-donald-trump-fights-the-election-results; Robert McCartney, “Here’s one way Trump could try to steal the election, voting experts say,” Washington Post, August 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/heres-one-way-trump-could-try-to-steal-the-election-voting-experts-say/2020/08/16/b5bf0c2a-de66-11ea-b205-ff838e15a9a6_story.html; Timothy E. Wirth and Tom Rogers, “How Trump Could Lose the Election—And Still Remain President,” Newsweek, July 3, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/how-trump-could-lose-election-still-remain-president-opinion-1513975
  7. [7]David Benfell, “Bloody November,” Not Housebroken, October 13, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/08/bloody-november/; David Benfell, “Donald Trump’s ‘brown shirts,’” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/30/donald-trumps-brown-shirts/; David Benfell, “The very scary way to four more years,” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/25/the-very-scary-way-to-four-more-years/; David Benfell, “Epistemology in the present U.S. political crisis,” Not Housebroken, November 14, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/12/epistemology-in-the-present-u-s-political-crisis/
  8. [8]Fred Hiatt, “Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wants-to-overturn-the-results-of-a-free-and-fair-election-theres-a-word-for-that/2020/11/13/cb94b77e-25b6-11eb-952e-0c475972cfc0_story.html
  9. [9]Jonathan Freedland, “This is no conventional coup. Trump is paving the way for a ‘virtual Confederacy,'” Guardian, November 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/13/trump-coup-virtual-confederacy-race-legal-trumpian
  10. [10]David Benfell, “The pandemic’s fall surge in Allegheny County,” Irregular Bullshit, November 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/11/15/the-pandemics-fall-surge-in-allegheny-county/
  11. [11]Kayla Ruble and Tom Hamburger, “Board in key Michigan county fails, then agrees, to certify vote totals by deadline,” Washington Post, November 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/michigan-vote-canvassing-board/2020/11/17/12141222-287c-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html
  12. [12]Stephanie Saul, “Lindsey Graham’s Long-Shot Mission to Unravel the Election Results,” New York Times, November 17, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/17/us/politics/lindsey-graham-georgia-trump-biden.html
  13. [13]Aaron Blake, “Trump lawyers suffer embarrassing rebukes from judges over voter fraud claims,” Washington Post, November 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/11/11/trump-lawyers-suffer-embarrassing-rebukes-judges-over-voter-fraud-claims/; Marjorie Cohn, “Trump’s Frivolous Lawsuits Are the Tip of the Iceberg in His Refusal to Concede,” Truthout, November 11, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-frivolous-lawsuits-are-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-in-his-refusal-to-concede/; Pam Fessler, “Led By Giuliani, Trump Campaign Effort To Stop Certification Falters In Pennsylvania,” National Public Radio, November 17, 2020, https://www.npr.org/2020/11/17/936027693/led-by-giuliani-trump-campaign-effort-to-stop-certification-falters-in-pennsylvaJonathan Freedland, “This is no conventional coup. Trump is paving the way for a ‘virtual Confederacy,'” Guardian, November 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/13/trump-coup-virtual-confederacy-race-legal-trumpian; Kayla Ruble and Tom Hamburger, “Board in key Michigan county fails, then agrees, to certify vote totals by deadline,” Washington Post, November 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/michigan-vote-canvassing-board/2020/11/17/12141222-287c-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html
  14. [14]Pam Fessler, “Led By Giuliani, Trump Campaign Effort To Stop Certification Falters In Pennsylvania,” National Public Radio, November 17, 2020, https://www.npr.org/2020/11/17/936027693/led-by-giuliani-trump-campaign-effort-to-stop-certification-falters-in-pennsylva
  15. [15]Paula Reed Ward, “Federal judge to consider whether to dismiss case filed by Trump campaign in Pa.,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 17, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/federal-judge-to-consider-whether-to-dismiss-case-filed-by-trump-campaign-in-pa/
  16. [16]Thomas Frank, What’s the Matter With Kansas? (New York: Metropolitan, 2005); Thomas Frank, Pity the Billionaire (New York: Metropolitan, 2012)
  17. [17]David Benfell, “Barack Obama asks, ‘Why is it that the folks that won the last election are so mad all the time?’” Not Housebroken, November 4, 2018, https://disunitedstates.org/2018/11/04/barack-obama-asks-why-is-it-that-the-folks-that-won-the-last-election-are-so-mad-all-the-time/
  18. [18]Fred Hiatt, “Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wants-to-overturn-the-results-of-a-free-and-fair-election-theres-a-word-for-that/2020/11/13/cb94b77e-25b6-11eb-952e-0c475972cfc0_story.html
  19. [19]David Benfell, “Deconstructing the second amendment,” Not Housebroken, October 5, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/10/04/deconstructing-the-second-amendment/
  20. [20]David Benfell, “Donald Trump’s ‘brown shirts,’” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/30/donald-trumps-brown-shirts/
  21. [21]David Benfell, “On patriotism,” Not Housebroken, June 27, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/06/27/on-patriotism/
  22. [22]David Benfell, “The banners and the guns: Flagrant racism in Pittsburgh,” Not Housebroken, November 13, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/09/20/the-banners-and-the-guns-flagrant-racism-in-pittsburgh/; David Benfell, “Donald Trump’s ‘brown shirts,’” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/30/donald-trumps-brown-shirts/
  23. [23]Ewan Palmer, “FBI Warn White Supremacist Activity in Pittsburgh Among Highest in Country,” Newsweek, November 13, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/pittsburgh-white-supremacist-fbi-far-right-1547149
  24. [24]Ryan Deto, “The FBI declared Pgh. a new hub for white supremacy. That ignores decades of history,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, November 16, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/civil-rights-social-justice/the-fbi-declared-pgh-a-hub-for-white-supremacy-it-has-a-long-history-already/

The pandemic’s fall surge in Allegheny County (Update #4)

Updates

  1. Originally published, November 15, 2020, 11:55 am.

  2. November 15, 2020, 9:24 pm:

    • So I guess today was a howler. I had noticed a series of traffic lights along Greentree Road, west of the intersection with Cochran were out. Later, I was driving up Lime Hollow Road in Penn Hills and was grateful for my very, very bright LED high beams because that road had been plunged into utter darkness (the new moon was just after midnight this morning). Then I happened to be driving past the gas station I usually stop at at the end of my day to fill my tank and noticed all the lights were out. They close at 10 pm anyway, so I surmised, correctly as it turned out, that there’d been a power outage that had lasted long enough that they’d just decided to close early.

      So when I finished my day, I stopped at a different gas station and then drove home. After I parked my car in my garage, I walked across the street to the parking lot nearest my apartment and noticed that one of three evergreen trees near the street by that lot had toppled. I’d just been mourning the tree that got cut down for Pittsburgh’s city Christmas tree. Now here was another one, literally a lot closer to home.

      Of course when I got home, I had to turn back on various filters, fans, and heaters (I keep air moving). But it appears my uninterruptible power supply kept my desktop system up so the outage can’t have been that long.

    • The Allegheny County Health Department had stopped sending out daily updates on COVID-19 cases on Sunday. This evening, at 5:50 pm, they made an exception, as the daily case count climbed to “an all-time high of 527 cases.” They are warning that they will have to take action, quoting the Director of the Health Department, Debra Bogen, saying,

      Doing nothing is no longer an option as we must protect our healthcare workers, both at hospital and long-term care facilities, and our first responders during this health crisis. People are doing well in structured settings, but we continue to see more and more cases as a result of unmonitored, private social gatherings.

      The notice does not say what actions will be taken and given the apparent unwillingness of the public to comply with health measures, I’m expecting a spike about two weeks after each of the three major upcoming holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years). This looks like it could be really, really ugly.

  3. November 16, 2020, 9:38 am:

    • A few folks are worried about what’s going to happen nationally with the pandemic as we go through the holiday season (see previous update). The Wall Street Journal has a story that shows what happens when people succumb to “pandemic fatigue.”[1]

      “A lot of people just feel like I’m through with Covid, I’ve done all I can,” said Dr. [Bruce] Dennis, who recently suffered his own bout of the virus, along with his wife, daughter, son-in-law, and 6-month-old grandchild. “It’s now just really time to start.”

      For months after the pandemic began, Shawna Sero stayed cooped up at home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, refusing to go out with friends. With asthma and a weak immune system, the 40-year-old was terrified about getting infected, she said.

      But after watching the Iowa Hawkeyes’ first football game of the season with her parents and siblings at home a few weekends ago, she let her guard down and decided to go to a bar with a friend.

      “I just wanted to keep having fun,” she said. “It had been so long.”

      Last week, Ms. Sero lay in a bed in a converted pediatric unit of Mercy Medical Center texting with her sister several floors down. She had been admitted to the hospital a couple of days earlier, struggling to breathe after testing positive for Covid-19. Her 42-year-old sister, also Covid-19 positive, was now in the emergency room, seeking relief from a cough so intense it sometimes made her vomit.

      The rest of the family was showing symptoms too: her 37-year-old brother, Bobby Sero, who had tested positive and was texting the sisters from the master bedroom of his home where he was holed up to prevent his wife and five children from infection; their father, a 60-year-old diabetic, who hasn’t wanted to go to the hospital despite feeling sick; and their 59-year-old mother, who moved out at the end of October after a divorce and was awaiting test results at her new Illinois home.[2]

      I think there really are limits to what people can do. But some people are taking that inch and turning it into a mile, as with assholes going to the South Side in Pittsburgh (see original text below). Their selfishness makes it worse—lethally worse—for the rest of us.

      That said, it would help a lot if politicians would take the pandemic seriously enough to actually do something about the economic effects[3] of further restrictions rather than just refusing to impose those restrictions.[4] But of course, neoliberal dogma forbids it.

  4. November 16, 2020, 10:13 pm:

    • What is Donald Trump up to, really? Really, we don’t know. Fred Hiatt outlines three possibilities.[5] Personally, I just think Trump is batshit crazy, which most resembles Hiatt’s scenario #3, but I don’t know either. His scenario #1 is essentially the electoral college manipulation[6] I’ve been talking about, which I think could draw in armed militia groups.[7] At this point, scenario #1 is probably—only probably—the least likely, but Hiatt doesn’t rule it out,[8] and I think really, he’s right not to. Scenario #2 looks a lot like the parallel government idea that Jonathan Freedland put forth.[9] This, too, could draw in the militia groups.


Pandemic

I had a passenger yesterday who was going to Pittsburgh’s South Side—the principal neighborhood to get drunk, get tattoos, and do other stupid shit—he said, for the first time since March. He had decided, and indeed told his parents, that it was “worth it,” as if he were the only one at risk from his behavior. This, even as COVID-19 cases in Allegheny County are spiking to previously unseen heights following Halloween festivities.[10] I only occasionally see even this much caution.

The surge in Allegheny County echoes what’s happening around the country,[11] but the appearance here to me is that people are just ignoring it. Some wear masks; many do not. Social distancing is rarely observed. I hear many passengers talk about getting together with their families pretty much like any other year.

The pandemic is bad. It’s getting worse. And I have doubts that even if authorities were to impose another lockdown—for now, they seem to be sticking to[12] their earlier line that they won’t impose another lockdown[13]—that people would comply. It isn’t just young people and it isn’t even just people I would identify as conservative.[14] It’s everybody.

Shelby Cassesse, “Coronavirus In Pittsburgh: Allegheny County Seeing Substantial Transmission Rate,” KDKA, November 14, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/11/14/rising-coronavirus-cases-allegheny-county/

Betsy McKay and Erin Ailworth, “Covid Is Resurging, and This Time It’s Everywhere,” Wall Street Journal, November 16, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-covid-surge-u-s-restrictions-11605466754


Uber

It seems Uber is trying to reduce its exposure to the costs of developing self-driving car technology, which is unlikely to be ready for prime time anytime soon, by selling at least a stake to other players.[15] This strikes me as a climb down from former CEO Travis Kalanick’s assertion that the technology was “existential” for Uber and current CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s doubling down on the technology even as there were well-founded doubts that this could even remotely play as they hoped.[16]

What has to be remarkable here is the pass Uber and Lyft get. As I’ve previously noted, they hemorrhage money in a realm where profit is supposedly what matters and have no realistic prospect for making money, even if they succeed with self-driving technology.[17]

Now, any job I’ve ever had, I’ve actually had to show results. Even at Linuxcare, when I found myself spinning my wheels, I found my way into roles where I was productive. Even now, driving for Uber and Lyft, I actually have to pick passengers up, get them to where they’re going, and drop them off. I don’t get to just burn money.

But I guess these companies are special. Because now what we’re seeing is that even as Uber climbs down even from the one ill-founded hope that it could ever be profitable, there’s no talk whatsoever of shutting it down. Indeed, their executives make ludicrous amounts of money while I get less than minimum wage and live in continuous financial terror.[18] This discrepancy alone has to be proof that capitalism is theft.

Kirsten Korosec, “Uber in talks to sell ATG self-driving unit to Aurora,” TechCrunch, November 13, 2020, https://techcrunch.com/2020/11/13/uber-in-talks-to-sell-atg-self-driving-unit-to-aurora/


Worst president

There are a number of candidates for worst president in U.S. history,[19] but Joe Biden and James Buchanan both hail from Pennsylvania.[20]

It’s been my observation since Richard Nixon that each president is worse than his predecessor, largely due to the embrace of neoconservatism and especially, its moral imperative, neoliberalism. I wait with bated breath to see just how Joe Biden will manage to be worse than Donald Trump (probably by embracing and extending the latter’s policies, just as Barack Obama did with George W. Bush).

Paul Guggenheimer, “James Buchanan not a tough act to follow for Biden as 2nd president from Pennsylvania,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 15, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/buchanan-not-a-tough-act-to-follow-for-biden-as-2nd-president-from-pennsylvania/


Transition

Marissa J. Lang et al., “After thousands of Trump supporters rally in D.C., violence erupts when night falls,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2020/11/14/million-maga-march-dc-protests/

Fred Hiatt, “Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wants-to-overturn-the-results-of-a-free-and-fair-election-theres-a-word-for-that/2020/11/13/cb94b77e-25b6-11eb-952e-0c475972cfc0_story.html


  1. [1]Betsy McKay and Erin Ailworth, “Covid Is Resurging, and This Time It’s Everywhere,” Wall Street Journal, November 16, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-covid-surge-u-s-restrictions-11605466754
  2. [2]Betsy McKay and Erin Ailworth, “Covid Is Resurging, and This Time It’s Everywhere,” Wall Street Journal, November 16, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-covid-surge-u-s-restrictions-11605466754
  3. [3]David Benfell, “The mysterious expectation that elites give a damn,” Not Housebroken, October 15, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/01/the-mysterious-expectation-that-elites-give-a-damn/
  4. [4]Betsy McKay and Erin Ailworth, “Covid Is Resurging, and This Time It’s Everywhere,” Wall Street Journal, November 16, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-covid-surge-u-s-restrictions-11605466754
  5. [5]Fred Hiatt, “Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wants-to-overturn-the-results-of-a-free-and-fair-election-theres-a-word-for-that/2020/11/13/cb94b77e-25b6-11eb-952e-0c475972cfc0_story.html
  6. [6]Max Boot, “What if Trump loses but insists he won?” Washington Post, July 6, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/06/what-if-trump-loses-insists-he-won/; Rosa Brooks, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Washington Post, September 3, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/09/03/trump-stay-in-office/; Marjorie Cohn, “Trump’s Frivolous Lawsuits Are the Tip of the Iceberg in His Refusal to Concede,” Truthout, November 11, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-frivolous-lawsuits-are-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-in-his-refusal-to-concede/; Eric Lach, “What Happens if Donald Trump Fights the Election Results?” New Yorker, August 21, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/campaign-chronicles/what-happens-if-donald-trump-fights-the-election-results; Robert McCartney, “Here’s one way Trump could try to steal the election, voting experts say,” Washington Post, August 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/heres-one-way-trump-could-try-to-steal-the-election-voting-experts-say/2020/08/16/b5bf0c2a-de66-11ea-b205-ff838e15a9a6_story.html; Timothy E. Wirth and Tom Rogers, “How Trump Could Lose the Election—And Still Remain President,” Newsweek, July 3, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/how-trump-could-lose-election-still-remain-president-opinion-1513975
  7. [7]David Benfell, “Bloody November,” Not Housebroken, October 13, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/08/bloody-november/; David Benfell, “Donald Trump’s ‘brown shirts,’” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/30/donald-trumps-brown-shirts/; David Benfell, “The very scary way to four more years,” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/25/the-very-scary-way-to-four-more-years/; David Benfell, “Epistemology in the present U.S. political crisis,” Not Housebroken, November 14, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/12/epistemology-in-the-present-u-s-political-crisis/
  8. [8]Fred Hiatt, “Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wants-to-overturn-the-results-of-a-free-and-fair-election-theres-a-word-for-that/2020/11/13/cb94b77e-25b6-11eb-952e-0c475972cfc0_story.html
  9. [9]Jonathan Freedland, “This is no conventional coup. Trump is paving the way for a ‘virtual Confederacy,'” Guardian, November 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/13/trump-coup-virtual-confederacy-race-legal-trumpian
  10. [10]Shelby Cassesse, “Coronavirus In Pittsburgh: Allegheny County Seeing Substantial Transmission Rate,” KDKA, November 14, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/11/14/rising-coronavirus-cases-allegheny-county/
  11. [11]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; 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; Hannah Knowles and Jacqueline Dupree, “Full hospitals, talk of rationing care: New wave of coronavirus cases strains resources,” Washington Post, October 25, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/10/25/coronavirus-cases-hospitalizations-surge/; Betsy McKay and Erin Ailworth, “Covid Is Resurging, and This Time It’s Everywhere,” Wall Street Journal, November 16, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-covid-surge-u-s-restrictions-11605466754; 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/; 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/
  12. [12]Shelby Cassesse, “Coronavirus In Pittsburgh: Allegheny County Seeing Substantial Transmission Rate,” KDKA, November 14, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/11/14/rising-coronavirus-cases-allegheny-county/
  13. [13]Megan Guza, “Pa. health officials aim to avoid shutdown despite covid uptick,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 14, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/pa-health-officials-aim-to-avoid-shutdown-despite-covid-uptick/
  14. [14]John Shumway, “‘People Don’t Care’: Recent Jump In Allegheny County Coronavirus Cases Linked To People In Their 20s, 30s,” KDKA, June 23, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/23/jump-in-allegheny-county-coronavirus-cases-linked-to-young-people/
  15. [15]Kirsten Korosec, “Uber in talks to sell ATG self-driving unit to Aurora,” TechCrunch, November 13, 2020, https://techcrunch.com/2020/11/13/uber-in-talks-to-sell-atg-self-driving-unit-to-aurora/
  16. [16]Rich Alton, “Basic economics means Uber and Lyft can’t rely on driverless cars to become profitable,” MarketWatch, August 12, 2019, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/basic-economics-means-uber-and-lyft-cant-rely-on-driverless-cars-to-become-profitable-2019-08-12; Eliot Brown, “Uber Wants to Be the Uber of Everything—But Can It Make a Profit?” Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-wants-to-be-the-uber-of-everything-11556909866; Richard Durant, “Uber’s Profitability Problem Is Structural,” Seeking Alpha, August 21, 2019, https://seekingalpha.com/article/4287055-ubers-profitability-problem-structural; Ryan Felton, “Uber Is Doomed,” Jalopnik, February 24, 2017, https://jalopnik.com/uber-is-doomed-1792634203; Christopher Mims, “In a Tight Labor Market, Gig Workers Get Harder to Please,” Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-a-tight-labor-market-gig-workers-get-harder-to-please-11556942404
  17. [17]David Benfell, “Proof of investor irrationality: The case of Uber (and Lyft),” Not Housebroken, August 22, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/22/proof-of-investor-irrationality-the-case-of-uber-and-lyft/
  18. [18]David Benfell, “Tax time,” Not Housebroken, July 14, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/07/14/tax-time/
  19. [19]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
  20. [20]Paul Guggenheimer, “James Buchanan not a tough act to follow for Biden as 2nd president from Pennsylvania,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 15, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/buchanan-not-a-tough-act-to-follow-for-biden-as-2nd-president-from-pennsylvania/

The epistemology of sore losers

Donald Trump

So the election has happened and it’s time to check in with our wacko in Duquesne. It’s really hard to get pictures of this sign (figure 1). I either have to catch a red light or, as this time, shoot across a lane of traffic on a heavily used cobblestone street:

Fig. 1. Photograph by author, November 14, 2020.

I have updated my most recent blog post:

    It occurs to me that when I say “people fervently want to believe” misinformation,[1] I am reaching to motivation: An obvious question is, why do conservatives choose to believe what they do?

    I have only a partial answer and some hypotheses. But I remember an earlier translation of the Tao Te Ching (I could not find this in the the more recent edition now in my possession[2]) speaking eloquently of weeds growing where an army had passed. I think this speaks to the origins of authoritarian populist[3] resentment in wars, famine, and disease in Britain migrating to settle in what Colin Woodard calls Greater Appalachia.[4] In essence, authoritarian populists do not trust authoritative information because they have too often and too long been exploited as means to authoritarian ends.[5] Even if they do not know the truth, and may at some level even doubt what they profess,[6] they have every reason to suspect that they are being misled in furtherance of those ends.

    On the traditionalist side, I repeatedly saw Russell Kirk, George Nash, and Richard Weaver all write of knowledge of the senses—empirical knowledge—as “temporal” rather than permanent.[7] Hence a diminution of what I described as “truth as we’re presently best able to perceive it, truth from our perspective—subjective truth.”[8]

    As well as preferring ideology,[9] or as I put it, “tend[ing] toward a naturalistic fallacy,”[10] Conservatives generally are more authoritarian than others.[11] Broadly speaking, the choice of a way of knowing often seems to be a self-serving way to advance their own power over others. For capitalist libertarians, this is simple capitalist greed: What makes them richer, that is, what increases their economic power, is what works, a “pragmatic” theory of truth, and must therefore be right. We might suspect something similar of functionalist conservatives and neoconservatives with regard to political power, of paleoconservatives with regard to white privilege, and of many conservatives generally with regard to the social power of self-righteous indignation.

    As I said at the beginning of this update, this answer is tentative. But social injustice appears to underlie all of these choices of ways of knowing. As Donald Trump twists and turns, wreaking havoc in his exit from the White House,[12] we are reaping what we have sown.


  1. [1]David Benfell, “Epistemology in the present U.S. political crisis,” Not Housebroken, November 13, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/12/epistemology-in-the-present-u-s-political-crisis/
  2. [2]Lao Tsu [apocryphal], Tao Te Ching, trans. Gia Fu-Feng and Jane English with Toinette Lippe, 3rd ed. (New York: Vintage, 2011).
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126); David Benfell, “Barack Obama asks, ‘Why is it that the folks that won the last election are so mad all the time?’” Not Housebroken, November 4, 2018, https://disunitedstates.org/2018/11/04/barack-obama-asks-why-is-it-that-the-folks-that-won-the-last-election-are-so-mad-all-the-time/
  4. [4]Colin Woodard, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America (New York: Penguin, 2011).
  5. [5]Thomas Frank, What’s the Matter with Kansas? (New York: Henry Holt, 2005).
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Doubting the ‘Fox News bubble,’” Not Housebroken, October 11, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/07/doubting-the-fox-news-bubble/
  7. [7]Russell Kirk, The Conservative Mind (Washington, DC: Regnery 1985/2001); George H. Nash, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945 (Wilmington, DE: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 1976/2006); Richard M. Weaver, Visions of Order (Louisiana State University, 1964, Wilmington, DE: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 1995).
  8. [8]David Benfell, “Epistemology in the present U.S. political crisis,” Not Housebroken, November 13, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/12/epistemology-in-the-present-u-s-political-crisis/
  9. [9]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  10. [10]David Benfell, “Epistemology in the present U.S. political crisis,” Not Housebroken, November 13, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/12/epistemology-in-the-present-u-s-political-crisis/
  11. [11]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  12. [12]Mike Allen, “Trump eyes digital media empire to take on Fox News,” Axios, November 12, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-fox-news-digital-media-competitor-25afddee-144d-4820-8ed4-9eb0ffa42420.html; Aaron Blake, “Trump lawyers suffer embarrassing rebukes from judges over voter fraud claims,” Washington Post, November 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/11/11/trump-lawyers-suffer-embarrassing-rebukes-judges-over-voter-fraud-claims/; Mark Bray, “Trump’s Baseless Fraud Accusations Are Already Sparking Far Right Violence,” Truthout, November 9, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-baseless-fraud-accusations-are-already-sparking-far-right-violence/; Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, “Trump team eyes legal, political Hail Marys as options for comeback fade,” Politico, November 6, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/06/trump-legal-political-lawsuit-election-434786; Marjorie Cohn, “Trump’s Frivolous Lawsuits Are the Tip of the Iceberg in His Refusal to Concede,” Truthout, November 11, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-frivolous-lawsuits-are-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-in-his-refusal-to-concede/; Jonathan Freedland, “This is no conventional coup. Trump is paving the way for a ‘virtual Confederacy,'” Guardian, November 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/13/trump-coup-virtual-confederacy-race-legal-trumpian; David Nakamura, “Trump’s bid to discredit election raises fear that he will undermine a smooth transfer of power,” Washington Post, November 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-concession-transition-power/2020/11/07/2b4cf640-20e4-11eb-b532-05c751cd5dc2_story.html

Certainly not just my imagination: Pittsburgh is a “hub” for white supremacism. (Update #2)

Updates

  1. Originally published, November 13, 2020, 11:36 am.
  2. November 13, 2020, 9:41 pm:
    • Jonathan Freedland thinks that even as Donald Trump is utterly failing in his attempts to challenge the election results and clearly resisting those results,[1] he is preparing to set up a sort of “government in exile,” running in parallel with Joe Biden’s presidency, to undermine the latter.[2] On the other hand, Trump might just be aiming to set up a competitor to Fox News.[3] Either way, Freedland is right that something like half the country does not accept Biden as having won the election[4]—I still see lots of Trump signs, banners and flags as I drive around Pittsburgh—and either plan would exacerbate this situation. Which Trump undoubtedly wants to do.

Donald Trump

There is a new blog post from yesterday, entitled, “Epistemology in the present U.S. political crisis.”

Mike Allen, “Trump eyes digital media empire to take on Fox News,” Axios, November 12, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-fox-news-digital-media-competitor-25afddee-144d-4820-8ed4-9eb0ffa42420.html

Jonathan Freedland, “This is no conventional coup. Trump is paving the way for a ‘virtual Confederacy,'” Guardian, November 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/13/trump-coup-virtual-confederacy-race-legal-trumpian


Pittsburgh

The Federal Bureau of Investigation says Pittsburgh is a “hub” for white supremacism, including, possibly, violent white supremacism. The FBI is limited in its investigations because much of the activity is talk—speech, protected by the First Amendment—and not actually criminal.[5]

Ewan Palmer, “FBI Warn White Supremacist Activity in Pittsburgh Among Highest in Country,” Newsweek, November 13, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/pittsburgh-white-supremacist-fbi-far-right-1547149


  1. [1]Aaron Blake, “Trump lawyers suffer embarrassing rebukes from judges over voter fraud claims,” Washington Post, November 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/11/11/trump-lawyers-suffer-embarrassing-rebukes-judges-over-voter-fraud-claims/; Marjorie Cohn, “Trump’s Frivolous Lawsuits Are the Tip of the Iceberg in His Refusal to Concede,” Truthout, November 11, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-frivolous-lawsuits-are-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-in-his-refusal-to-concede/
  2. [2]Jonathan Freedland, “This is no conventional coup. Trump is paving the way for a ‘virtual Confederacy,'” Guardian, November 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/13/trump-coup-virtual-confederacy-race-legal-trumpian
  3. [3]Mike Allen, “Trump eyes digital media empire to take on Fox News,” Axios, November 12, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-fox-news-digital-media-competitor-25afddee-144d-4820-8ed4-9eb0ffa42420.html
  4. [4]Jonathan Freedland, “This is no conventional coup. Trump is paving the way for a ‘virtual Confederacy,'” Guardian, November 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/13/trump-coup-virtual-confederacy-race-legal-trumpian
  5. [5]Ewan Palmer, “FBI Warn White Supremacist Activity in Pittsburgh Among Highest in Country,” Newsweek, November 13, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/pittsburgh-white-supremacist-fbi-far-right-1547149