Donald Trump keeps on grifting

Pandemic


Capitalism

Thomas Heath and Jacob Bogage, “Dow caps worst-ever first quarter with a more than 400-point slide,” Washington Post, March 31, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/31/stocks-markets-today-coronavirus/


American Indians

It seems the Mashpee Wampanoag people planned a casino that would compete with casinos in Rhode Island that have “strong Trump links.” So now the Trump administration is withdrawing tribal recognition and taking away their reservation.[1]

Nick Martin, “This Is Crisis Colonization,” New Republic, March 30, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/157091/crisis-colonization


  1. [1]Nick Martin, “This Is Crisis Colonization,” New Republic, March 30, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/157091/crisis-colonization

Richly deserved self-criticism as a means to preservation?

Pandemic

The headline attached to a New York article by Sarah Jones is woefully inadequate—look at the URL and you’ll see a better (probably earlier, maybe even chosen by Jones herself) one. It isn’t just that rich people are hoarding things, but that they’re hoarding badly needed medical equipment and supplies and expect to jump to the head of the queue for a vaccine when and if one is ever developed. And it isn’t just that they’re hoarding, but that their mistreatment of workers extends to failure to provide protective equipment and to being chintzy about sick leave. And it isn’t just all that but that they’re fleeing to places that lack the medical infrastructure to deal with the virus they’re bringing with them and that the rich folks in Congress are doing such an inadequate job of responding to the economic pain of the shutdown.[1]

I have to say this article[2] is causing me pause—and not on the merits of the article itself. Though I didn’t actually use any New York articles for discourse historical analysis in my dissertation, I classified New York as a functionalist conservative publication in my dissertation work. Functionalist conservatism is all about preserving the privileges of the rich and powerful against everyone else.[3] So no, I’m not expecting a screed against the rich and powerful such as Jones’[4] to appear there unless some richly deserved self-criticism is a means to preservation.

I hadn’t thought things had reached that point, but then I’m not in New York City.[5]

Then there’s the, oh, so special case of Liberty University. Some Christians handle snakes as a demonstration of their faith; when they get bitten it isn’t because they were playing with snakes but because they didn’t have enough faith! Jerry Falwell, Jr., on the other hand, decided to invite students back to Liberty University in defiance of the governor’s “stay at home” order. Eleven students now exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, one has it.[6] Which of course means a bunch of them likely do. But we’ll just say they lacked faith!

Katherine Mangan, “As Liberty University Reports First Covid-19 Case, Students and Parents Grapple With Conflicting Information,” Chronicle of Higher Education, March 30, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/As-Liberty-University-Reports/248382/

Sarah Jones, “Dear Rich People: Please Stop Hoarding Things,” New York, March 30, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/things-are-bad-and-rich-people-arent-helping.html


  1. [1]Sarah Jones, “Dear Rich People: Please Stop Hoarding Things,” New York, March 30, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/things-are-bad-and-rich-people-arent-helping.html
  2. [2]Sarah Jones, “Dear Rich People: Please Stop Hoarding Things,” New York, March 30, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/things-are-bad-and-rich-people-arent-helping.html
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  4. [4]Sarah Jones, “Dear Rich People: Please Stop Hoarding Things,” New York, March 30, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/things-are-bad-and-rich-people-arent-helping.html
  5. [5]David Benfell, “‘Bodies piling up. Refrigerator trucks for corpses,’” Irregular Bullshit, March 28, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/03/28/bodies-piling-up-refrigerator-trucks-for-corpses/
  6. [6]Katherine Mangan, “As Liberty University Reports First Covid-19 Case, Students and Parents Grapple With Conflicting Information,” Chronicle of Higher Education, March 30, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/As-Liberty-University-Reports/248382/

We aren’t human when we’re like this

Pandemic

Yesterday (Sunday), the wind was blowing fiercely, but as I was driving around, the temperature was up to 79° F, which is awfully warm, even after a ridiculously mild winter.

I noticed that traffic seemed a bit heavier and that more people were out on the streets socializing despite Tom Wolf’s order.[1] It led me to doubt how long that order can really hold, especially with uncertainty about how long, really, all this is going to last.

So today, Bill Peduto’s office announced new measures affecting recreation in Pittsburgh.[2] And sadly but unsurprisingly, Wolf today extended the “stay at home” order, now covering 26 counties including Allegheny and all the counties surrounding it, through at least April 30.[3]

It’s all certainly terrifying. I stopped in to Giant Eagle today to buy some frozen entrees and as I went to pay, I had to wait behind a line while the cashier finished with the previous customer and until she motioned me forward. There was a plastic barrier set up to try to limit transmission and the little credit card machine had been moved to the left of that barrier to extend the distance between customers and the cashier. They don’t let you use reusable bags anymore and there remains one point of vulnerability as the cashier hands you your bags and the receipt with her gloved hand.

And indeed, there is certainly another side to the story as work stoppages by workers concerned about their health at Amazon, Instacart, and Whole Foods show.[4] This is the fearful side of the balance.

On one side, you have a question: If I didn’t do the crime, why am I doing the time, especially on an indefinite[5] sentence? On the other, this is a truly terrifying virus that could kill millions.[6]

I still have no idea how all this plays out.

Megan Guza, “Gov. Wolf closes Pa. schools and businesses indefinitely, extends stay-at-home order,” Tribune-Review, March 30, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/gov-wolf-closes-pa-schools-and-businesses-indefinitely-extends-stay-at-home-order/

Kara Seymour, “PA Coronavirus: Stay-At-Home Extended, Schools Shut Indefinitely,” Patch, March 30, 2020, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/h2eya/pa-stay-at-home-extended-schools-closed-indefinitely

Mike Snider, “Work strikes at Amazon, Instacart and Whole Foods show essential workers’ safety concerns,” USA Today, March 30, 2020, https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2020/03/30/coronavirus-safety-drives-strikes-amazon-instacart-and-whole-foods/5086135002/

WTAE, “City of Pittsburgh announces new social distancing restrictions,” March 30, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/pittsburgh-new-social-distancing-restrictions-coronavirus/31978041


  1. [1]WTAE, “Stay-at-home order to begin tonight for several Pa. counties, including Allegheny,” March 23, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/stay-at-home-order-to-begin-tonight-for-several-pa-counties-including-allegheny/31900786
  2. [2]WTAE, “City of Pittsburgh announces new social distancing restrictions,” March 30, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/pittsburgh-new-social-distancing-restrictions-coronavirus/31978041
  3. [3]Megan Guza, “Gov. Wolf closes Pa. schools and businesses indefinitely, extends stay-at-home order,” Tribune-Review, March 30, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/gov-wolf-closes-pa-schools-and-businesses-indefinitely-extends-stay-at-home-order/; Kara Seymour, “PA Coronavirus: Stay-At-Home Extended, Schools Shut Indefinitely,” Patch, March 30, 2020, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/h2eya/pa-stay-at-home-extended-schools-closed-indefinitely
  4. [4]Mike Snider, “Work strikes at Amazon, Instacart and Whole Foods show essential workers’ safety concerns,” USA Today, March 30, 2020, https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2020/03/30/coronavirus-safety-drives-strikes-amazon-instacart-and-whole-foods/5086135002/
  5. [5]Megan Guza, “Gov. Wolf closes Pa. schools and businesses indefinitely, extends stay-at-home order,” Tribune-Review, March 30, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/gov-wolf-closes-pa-schools-and-businesses-indefinitely-extends-stay-at-home-order/
  6. [6]Ed Yong, “How the Pandemic Will End,” Atlantic, March 25, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/03/how-will-coronavirus-end/608719/

Such a surprise: Joe Biden is a rapist

Joe Biden

So I’ve been seeing tweets about this and finally chased down a story:

A former aide [Tara Reade] to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said this week that he sexually assaulted her in 1993, her most detailed account to date of his alleged inappropriate behavior.[1]

It should say something about power over others that it so often expresses itself in the form of rape and sexual assault, that is, the very way that vegetarian ecofeminism predicts.[2] At the same time, we should note that the entire presumption of an authoritarian system of social organization is that a centralized authority is necessary to protect us from each other, as if that centralized authority would be more moral than any of us. Methinks we’ve been conned.

I have previously characterized Joe Biden as a touchy feely misogynist racist.[3] This background should make clear that rape would not be out of character for Biden any more than it was for Bill Clinton.[4] And the lack of attention paid to these allegations,[5] which I shall presume to be true, is yet another example of the morality of polarization.[6] And oh yeah, tell me how I’m supposed to choose between rapists in November.

Alanna Vagianos, “Joe Biden Accused Of Sexually Assaulting Senate Aide In 1993,” HuffPost, March 29, 2020, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/joe-biden-sexual-assault-tara-reade_n_5e7e69c8c5b6256a7a2a88f2


Elon Musk

It appears that Elon Musk has at least partly kept his word.[7] I have updated my blog post accordingly.

Steve Hanley, “Tesla Cuts Jobs In Nevada, Sends Ventilators To New York,” Clean Technica, March 29, 2020, https://cleantechnica.com/2020/03/29/tesla-cuts-jobs-in-nevada-sends-ventilators-to-new-york/


  1. [1]Alanna Vagianos, “Joe Biden Accused Of Sexually Assaulting Senate Aide In 1993,” HuffPost, March 29, 2020, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/joe-biden-sexual-assault-tara-reade_n_5e7e69c8c5b6256a7a2a88f2
  2. [2]Greta Gaard, “Vegetarian Ecofeminism: A Review Essay,” Frontiers 23, no. 3 (2002): 117-146.
  3. [3]Mark Z. Barabak, “Seven takeaways from Democratic debate Night 2: Sparks from Biden and Harris, honesty from Buttigieg,” Los Angeles Times, June 27, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-2020-democratic-debate-miami-takeaways-20190627-story.html; David Benfell, “Joe Biden blows his #MeToo moment,” Not Housebroken, April 5, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/04/05/joe-biden-blows-his-metoo-moment/; Stephen Collinson, “Joe Biden gets in his own way on race,” CNN, June 20, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/20/politics/joe-biden-race-2020-election/index.html; Stephen Collinson, “Joe Biden throws own campaign into turmoil after Harris attacks his record on race,” CNN, June 28, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/28/politics/first-democratic-debate-night-2-analysis/index.html; Scott Detrow, “Democrats Blast Biden For Recalling ‘Civil’ Relationship With Segregationists,” CNN, June 19, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/06/19/734103488/democrats-blast-biden-for-recalling-civil-relationship-with-segregationists; Maeve Reston, “Harris’ attack on Joe Biden steals spotlight at Democratic primary debate,” CNN, June 28, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/27/politics/democratic-primary-debate-night-two-joe-biden-bernie-sanders-kamala-harris/index.html; Brett Samuels, “Biden: ‘I’m not sorry for anything that I have ever done,’” Hill, April 5, 2019, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/437582-biden-im-not-sorry-for-anything-that-i-have-ever-done; Greg Sargent, “Joe Biden is badly undermining his ability to challenge Trump,” Washington Post, June 20, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/06/20/joe-biden-is-badly-undermining-his-case-against-trump/; Elise Viebeck, “Joe Biden was in charge of the Anita Hill hearing. Even he says it wasn’t fair,” Washington Post, April 26, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/joe-biden-was-in-charge-of-the-anita-hill-hearing-even-he-says-it-wasnt-fair/2019/04/26/a9a6f384-6500-11e9-82ba-fcfeff232e8f_story.html; Matt Viser and Sean Sullivan, “Biden faces backlash over comments about the ‘civility’ of his past work with racist senators,” Washington Post, June 19, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-faces-backlash-over-comments-about-the-civility-of-his-past-work-with-racist-senators/2019/06/19/c0375d2a-92a8-11e9-b58a-a6a9afaa0e3e_story.html
  4. [4]David Benfell, “Yes, Hillary Clinton must answer for Bill Clinton’s sexual assaults,” Not Housebroken, October 10, 2016, https://disunitedstates.org/2016/10/10/yes-hillary-clinton-must-answer-for-bill-clintons-sexual-assaults/
  5. [5]Alanna Vagianos, “Joe Biden Accused Of Sexually Assaulting Senate Aide In 1993,” HuffPost, March 29, 2020, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/joe-biden-sexual-assault-tara-reade_n_5e7e69c8c5b6256a7a2a88f2
  6. [6]David Benfell, “The morality of polarization,” Not Housebroken, September 21, 2018, https://disunitedstates.org/2018/09/21/the-morality-of-polarization/; David Benfell, “The theory of the morality of polarization,” Not Housebroken, December 23, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/23/the-theory-of-the-morality-of-polarization/
  7. [7]Sydney Brownstone and Brendan Kiley, “50,000 N95 masks delivered to UW researcher’s home thanks to Elon Musk, Tesla,” Seattle Times, March 22, 2020, https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/truckload-of-50000-n95-masks-headed-to-uw-researchers-home-thanks-to-elon-musk-tesla/; Steve Hanley, “Tesla Cuts Jobs In Nevada, Sends Ventilators To New York,” Clean Technica, March 29, 2020, https://cleantechnica.com/2020/03/29/tesla-cuts-jobs-in-nevada-sends-ventilators-to-new-york/; Zachary Shahan, “Elon Musk: Should Have 1000 Ventilators Next Week, + 250,000 N95 Masks For Hospitals Tomorrow,” CleanTechnica, March 21, 2020, https://cleantechnica.com/2020/03/21/elon-musk-should-have-1000-ventilators-next-week-250k-n95-masks-for-hospitals-tomorrow-cleantechnica-exclusive/

The price of a pandemic

Recession

There is a new blog post entitled, “When nothing happened next.”

David Blanchflower, “Pandemic Economics: ‘Much Worse, Very Quickly,” New York Review of Books, March 26, 2020, https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2020/03/26/pandemic-economics-much-worse-very-quickly/

Benjamin Fearnow, “Biden, Sanders demand 3-month freeze on rent payments, eviction of tenants across U.S.,” Newsweek, March 28, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/biden-sanders-demand-3-month-freeze-rent-payments-eviction-tenants-across-us-1494839


Pandemic


‘Bodies piling up. Refrigerator trucks for corpses.’

Pandemic

The situation with the coronavirus pandemic has become surreal. The United States is number one in the world for COVID-19 cases.[1]

Rudderless, blindsided, lethargic, and uncoordinated, America has mishandled the COVID-19 crisis to a substantially worse degree than what every health expert I’ve spoken with had feared. “Much worse,” said Ron Klain, who coordinated the U.S. response to the West African Ebola outbreak in 2014. “Beyond any expectations we had,” said Lauren Sauer, who works on disaster preparedness at Johns Hopkins Medicine. “As an American, I’m horrified,” said Seth Berkley, who heads Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “The U.S. may end up with the worst outbreak in the industrialized world.”[2]

Thanks, Republicans, for your self-serving response.[3] Thanks, Democrats,  for your even slower one.[4] It’s so fitting that malpractice does not exist for politicians. But thanks also to a few other folks . . .

It isn’t clear which Elmhurst hospital Ilana Esther refers to, but I presume it is one in or near New York City. Meanwhile:

Laura Kalmes argues that neoliberal education has taught young people to distrust government—the same government that has eviscerated the social safety net and refused to react to gun violence or the climate crisis. So it now doesn’t work for government to tell young people to stay home rather than party.[5] It is certainly true that if government wants to be trusted, it needs to stop behaving in reprehensible ways. The trouble is that this problem is inherent to an authoritarian system of social organization, inherent to the very idea that some people can be trusted with power over others.

It continues to get worse in Pennsylvania.[6] Butler, Westmoreland, and seven other Pennsylvania counties have been added to the list affected by Tom Wolf’s “stay at home” order.[7] Butler is directly to the north of Pittsburgh, which is in Allegheny County, already covered by the initial version of Tom Wolf’s “stay at home” order.[8] Westmoreland is roughly to the east. I live in Allegheny County, not far from Washington County. The latter county, to Pittsburgh’s southwest, and Beaver County, to the northwest, are apparently still unaffected but the obvious question will be, for how long?

And what would a crisis be without Human Resources department assholes?

Ed Yong, “How the Pandemic Will End,” Atlantic, March 25, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/03/how-will-coronavirus-end/608719/

Laura Kalmes, “It’s our fault young people refuse to stay home,” Ozy, March 26, 2020, https://www.ozy.com/news-and-politics/its-our-fault-young-people-refuse-to-stay-home/293136/

Prashant Gopal and Brian K. Sullivan, “Rhode Island Police to Hunt Down New Yorkers Seeking Refuge,” Bloomberg, March 27, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-27/rhode-island-police-to-hunt-down-new-yorkers-seeking-refuge

Paul Guggenheimer, “Butler County added to growing list of areas under Gov. Tom Wolf’s stay-at-home order,” TribLive, March 27, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/regional/butler-county-added-to-growing-list-of-areas-under-gov-tom-wolfs-stay-at-home-order/

Eric Heyl, “Allegheny County Coronavirus Cases Continue To Surge,” Patch, March 27, 2020, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/h2aqu/allegheny-county-coronavirus-cases-continue-to-surge

Justin Heinze, “12 More Die In Pennsylvania From Coronavirus, 500 New Cases Found,” Patch, March 28, 2020, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/h2bmx/12-more-die-in-pennsylvania-from-coronavirus-500-new-cases-found

Eric Heyl, “Allegheny County Coronavirus Cases: Another Large Increase,” Patch, March 28, 2020, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/h2bkm/allegheny-county-coronavirus-cases-another-large-increase


  1. [1]Talal Ansari, Jennifer Calfas, and Chun Han Wong, “U.S. Coronavirus Cases Surpass Those of China, Italy,” Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/governments-clamp-down-as-coronavirus-infections-surge-11585218656
  2. [2]Ed Yong, “How the Pandemic Will End,” Atlantic, March 25, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/03/how-will-coronavirus-end/608719/
  3. [3]Adam Gaffney, “Trump sees the coronavirus as a threat to his self-interest – not to people,” Guardian, March 17, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/17/trump-sees-the-coronavirus-as-a-threat-to-his-self-interest-not-to-people; Susan B. Glasser, “A President Unequal to the Moment,” New Yorker, March 12, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-trumps-washington/a-president-unequal-to-the-moment; Dana Milbank, “For Trump, a reckoning has come,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/trump-reckoning-has-come/; Ashley Parker, Yasmeen Abutaleb, and Lena H. Sun, “Squandered time: How the Trump administration lost control of the coronavirus crisis,” Washington Post, March 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-coronavirus-response-squandered-time/2020/03/07/5c47d3d0-5fcb-11ea-9055-5fa12981bbbf_story.html; David Remnick, “How the Coronavirus Shattered Trump’s Serene Confidence,” New Yorker, March 22, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/03/30/how-the-coronavirus-shattered-trumps-serene-confidence; Paul Waldman, “How coronavirus has deeply flummoxed conservative media,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/how-coronavirus-has-deeply-flummuxed-conservative-media/; Kevin D. Williamson, “History Called — and Senator Burr Called His Broker,” National Review, March 20, 2020, https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/03/history-called-and-senator-burr-called-his-broker/
  4. [4]David Benfell, “Why do Republicans seem better prepared to present proposals on coronavirus relief than Democrats?” Irregular Bullshit, March 20, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/03/20/why-do-republicans-seem-better-prepared-to-present-proposals-on-coronavirus-relief-than-democrats/
  5. [5]Laura Kalmes, “It’s our fault young people refuse to stay home,” Ozy, March 26, 2020, https://www.ozy.com/news-and-politics/its-our-fault-young-people-refuse-to-stay-home/293136/
  6. [6]Justin Heinze, “12 More Die In Pennsylvania From Coronavirus, 500 New Cases Found,” Patch, March 28, 2020, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/h2bmx/12-more-die-in-pennsylvania-from-coronavirus-500-new-cases-found; Eric Heyl, “Allegheny County Coronavirus Cases: Another Large Increase,” Patch, March 28, 2020, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/h2bkm/allegheny-county-coronavirus-cases-another-large-increase
  7. [7]Paul Guggenheimer, “Butler County added to growing list of areas under Gov. Tom Wolf’s stay-at-home order,” TribLive, March 27, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/regional/butler-county-added-to-growing-list-of-areas-under-gov-tom-wolfs-stay-at-home-order/
  8. [8]WTAE, “Stay-at-home order to begin tonight for several Pa. counties, including Allegheny,” March 23, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/stay-at-home-order-to-begin-tonight-for-several-pa-counties-including-allegheny/31900786

Do these people even hear themselves?

Pandemic

There is a new blog post entitled, “The capitalist death cult.” It is from an early draft of this post that I draw this issue’s title.

Meanwhile, Uber seems to have drawn at least some drivers back on the road by making it easy for them to also do Uber Eats deliveries. I avoid deliveries because, in my experience, the pay is about half what one gets for transporting people, because there are often parking issues—and possible citations—at both ends, and because discrepancies between what customers think they ordered and what they actually ordered are apt to be blamed on the drivers. But in addition, when it comes to food, I’m vegan and it is an ethical issue for me to deliver any animal products. So I’ll only do it if I have no choice and I’m not at that point yet. Yet.

Yascha Mounk, “This Is Just the Beginning,” Atlantic, March 25, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/national-shutdown-least-bad-option/608683/

Erica Werner, Paul Kane, and Mike DeBonis, “Trump signs $2 trillion coronavirus bill into law as companies and households brace for more economic pain,” Washington Post, March 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2020/03/27/congress-coronavirus-house-vote/


 

How will we know when we are ‘flattening the curve?’

Coronavirus

Gotta tell you, the U.S. jumping to the lead in aggregate cases of COVID-19 worldwide[1] sure doesn’t look like “flattening the curve” to me. At least not yet.

But the next question is, how will we know when we are flattening the curve? Because the statistics are flawed. And that last point applies broadly to statistics for the pandemic itself and to economic data. With the jobs data, Derek Thompson expands[2] on a point I earlier saw made by Justin Lahart for the Wall Street Journal.[3]

Talal Ansari, Jennifer Calfas, and Chun Han Wong, “U.S. Coronavirus Cases Surpass Those of China, Italy,” Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/governments-clamp-down-as-coronavirus-infections-surge-11585218656

Derek Thompson, “All the Coronavirus Statistics Are Flawed,” Atlantic, March 26, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/fog-pandemic/608764/


  1. [1]Talal Ansari, Jennifer Calfas, and Chun Han Wong, “U.S. Coronavirus Cases Surpass Those of China, Italy,” Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/governments-clamp-down-as-coronavirus-infections-surge-11585218656
  2. [2]Derek Thompson, “All the Coronavirus Statistics Are Flawed,” Atlantic, March 26, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/fog-pandemic/608764/
  3. [3]Justin Lahart, “Washington’s Trillions Alone Can’t Stop the Jobpocalypse,” Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/washingtons-trillions-alone-cant-stop-the-jobpocalypse-11585235110

Jobpocalypse Now

Recession

Yes, that was an eye-poppingly huge number of unemployment insurance claims this morning,[1] but the unemployment picture is highly likely to be far worse than these statistics show.[2]

The actual scope of the job losses won’t be known for some time. Even measures such as the unemployment rate won’t entirely capture it since people must be seeking work to be counted as unemployed. How many people are doing that in a coronavirus shutdown?

But for all that, the weekly claims report did give an early reading on the sheer awfulness of what is happening and a sense of the magnitude of the challenge the U.S. economy faces. Many of the people who have lost their jobs will struggle to stay afloat even with unemployment checks and the additional money they will receive under the Senate’s relief package. They will reduce spending, as will workers who worry that they will be next. That will in turn pinch businesses so far relatively unaffected by the crisis. In the worst-case scenario, business failures could cascade through the economy, leaving many workers without jobs to return to once the threat from the coronavirus has passed.[3]

As I have previously noted,

This has its own health impacts. We have seen with “deaths of despair”[4] and suicides under austerity[5] what happens when people cannot support themselves and their families.[6] And this isn’t just about capitalists wanting to go on making money. The economic shutdown will devastate the poor.[7][8]

The point here isn’t that we should do what Donald Trump suggests, prematurely letting up on lockdowns, likely infecting many more people, likely killing many more people.[9] It’s that we need to recognize, not minimize, the terrible toll these restrictions demand and to recognize that as a society, we are allowing a socially constructed economic system, capitalism, to dictate our relations with each other, to create this terrible dilemma, where no matter what we do, we are killing people.

Justin Lahart, “Washington’s Trillions Alone Can’t Stop the Jobpocalypse,” Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/washingtons-trillions-alone-cant-stop-the-jobpocalypse-11585235110


Israel

Benny Gantz looked at his hand, folded, and split his Blue and White party in the process.[10]

Raoul Wootliff, “Netanyahu and Gantz said forming unity government; Blue and White collapses,” Times of Israel, March 26, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/gantz-and-netanyahu-said-forming-unity-government-blue-and-white-collapses/


  1. [1]Heather Long and Alyssa Fowers, “A record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits as the coronavirus slams economy,” Washington Post, March 26, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/26/unemployment-claims-coronavirus-3-million/
  2. [2]Justin Lahart, “Washington’s Trillions Alone Can’t Stop the Jobpocalypse,” Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/washingtons-trillions-alone-cant-stop-the-jobpocalypse-11585235110
  3. [3]Justin Lahart, “Washington’s Trillions Alone Can’t Stop the Jobpocalypse,” Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/washingtons-trillions-alone-cant-stop-the-jobpocalypse-11585235110
  4. [4]Anne Case and Angus Deaton, “Mortality and morbidity in the 21st century” [draft], Brookings Institute, March 23, 2017, https://www.brookings.edu/bpea-articles/mortality-and-morbidity-in-the-21st-century/
  5. [5]Charles C. Branas et al., “The impact of economic austerity and prosperity events on suicide in Greece: a 30-year interrupted time-series analysis,” British Medical Journal 5, no. 1 (2015): doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005619; Paul Corcoran et al., “Impact of the economic recession and subsequent austerity on suicide and self-harm in Ireland: An interrupted time series analysis,” International Journal of Epidemiology 44, no. 3 (2015): 969–977, doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyv058
  6. [6]John Quiggin, “Austerity Has Been Tested, and It Failed,” Chronicle of Higher Education, November 20, 2013, http://www.chronicle.com/article/Austerity-Has-Been-Tested-and/139255/
  7. [7]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
  8. [8]David Benfell, “Josef Stalin’s purges might not look so bad,” Irregular Bullshit, March 24, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/03/24/josef-stalins-purges-might-not-look-so-bad/
  9. [9]Adam Cancryn and Nancy Cook, “Health officials want Trump to ‘double down, not lighten up’ restrictions,” Politico, March 23, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/23/coronavirus-economy-trump-restart-145222
  10. [10]Raoul Wootliff, “Netanyahu and Gantz said forming unity government; Blue and White collapses,” Times of Israel, March 26, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/gantz-and-netanyahu-said-forming-unity-government-blue-and-white-collapses/

You won’t be relieved

Updates

  1. Originally published March 26, 2020 at 8:54 am.
  2. August 8, 10:54 pm:
    • I finally got a photograph of the sign on the outskirts of Clairton (figure 1).

Recession

With confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States climbing swiftly to over 67,000 Wednesday with more than 900 deaths, lawmakers acknowledged that no amount of economic relief from Congress could stop the pain for the American public.[1]

Therefore, even as a record number of people file for unemployment benefits,[2] Congress will barely even try.[3]

Heather Long and Alyssa Fowers, “A record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits as the coronavirus slams economy,” Washington Post, March 26, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/26/unemployment-claims-coronavirus-3-million/

Erica Werner, Mike DeBonis, and Paul Kane, “Senate passes $2 trillion bill to blunt coronavirus pandemic’s economic impact, as households and businesses gasp for relief,” Washington Post, March 26, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/26/senate-trump-coronavirus-economic-stimulus-2-trillion/


Pennsylvania

Your regularly scheduled racism and white supremacy[4] will be permitted to resume.[5]
IMG_20200808_133215
Fig. 1. Photograph by author, August 8, 2020.

Seriously, let’s be clear what this is about. On the outskirts of Clairton, on Miller Road near North State Street, in a wooded area not very far from the banks of the Monongahela River, there is a weathered sign proclaiming that the property owner there owns both a firearm and a backhoe (figure 1), implicitly threatening to use the former to shoot a person for arbitrary reasons and then to use the latter to cover up the evidence. The second part of that implies a resistance to accountability for the first part.

In praising the decision, the Firearms Policy Coalition noted a strongly worded opinion by Supreme Court Justices David Wecht, Christine Donohue and Kevin Dougherty in favor of protecting the right to keep and bear arms.

“The right and ability to protect yourself and your family, particularly in times of crisis, is the very definition of ‘life-sustaining’ and unquestionably protected by both the Second Amendment and the state’s constitution,” said Adam Kraut, the coalition’s director of legal strategy.

“As we have said before, there is no ‘except-in-emergencies’ clause in the Constitution and the government cannot shut down the people’s right to keep and bear arms,” coalition President Brandon Combs said.[6]

It should be noted that

On Sunday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit filed by a gun shop that challenged [Tom] Wolf’s authority to close businesses determined to be “non-life-sustaining.” The lawsuit claimed Wolf’s edict violated the Second Amendment right to bear arms and other constitutional rights.[7]

Tom Wolf is allowing gun shops to reopen anyway,[8] mocking those who see guns as life-depriving rather than as life-sustaining.

Fig. 2. ‘Cause you know that artillery round aimed right at Carrick High School (left) and the camouflage-painted dump truck owned by a locksmith (right) along with all that other weaponry mostly in or near areas with high proportions of Blacks in their populations (figure 3) don’t mean anything at all. Clairton is such an area (figure 4). Photographs by author, December 31, 2019, (left) and November 22, 2019, (right).

[googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/embed?mid=1K1CjgWPOH71L1UsUSHs00ubbu-jYnWux&w=640&h=480]
Fig. 3. Map of gratuitously displayed weapons, compiled by author.


Fig. 4. Tank outside a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Clairton (left) and a rocket and artillery piece on a public square in Clairton (right). Photographs by author, September 20, 2019.

Brian C. Rittmeyer, “Wolf allows gun stores to reopen on limited basis during coronavirus shutdown,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 25, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/regional/wolf-allows-gun-stores-to-reopen-on-limited-basis-during-coronavirus-shutdown/


  1. [1]Erica Werner, Mike DeBonis, and Paul Kane, “Senate passes $2 trillion bill to blunt coronavirus pandemic’s economic impact, as households and businesses gasp for relief,” Washington Post, March 26, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/26/senate-trump-coronavirus-economic-stimulus-2-trillion/
  2. [2]Heather Long and Alyssa Fowers, “A record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits as the coronavirus slams economy,” Washington Post, March 26, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/26/unemployment-claims-coronavirus-3-million/
  3. [3]John Cassidy, “What Would a Proper Coronavirus Stimulus Plan Look Like?” New Yorker, March 14, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/what-would-a-proper-coronavirus-stimulus-plan-look-like; James Hamblin, “What Will You Do If You Start Coughing?” Atlantic, March 11, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/03/where-do-you-go-if-you-get-coronavirus/607759/; Michael Hirsh, “Is $2 Trillion Too Little, Too Late?” Foreign Policy, March 25, 2020, https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/03/24/us-congress-2-trillion-rescue-package-too-little-too-late/; Michael Hudson, “A debt jubilee is the only way to avoid a depression,” Washington Post, March 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/03/21/debt-jubilee-is-only-way-avoid-depression/; Isabel V. Sawhill, “The middle class faces its greatest threat since the 1930s,” Brookings, March 20, 2020,https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/the-middle-class-faces-its-greatest-threat-since-the-1930s/
  4. [4]David Benfell, “The banners and the guns: Flagrant racism in Pittsburgh,” Not Housebroken, October 12, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/09/20/the-banners-and-the-guns-flagrant-racism-in-pittsburgh/; David Benfell, “Militia territory,” Not Housebroken, November 22, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/11/22/militia-territory/
  5. [5]Brian C. Rittmeyer, “Wolf allows gun stores to reopen on limited basis during coronavirus shutdown,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 25, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/regional/wolf-allows-gun-stores-to-reopen-on-limited-basis-during-coronavirus-shutdown/
  6. [6]Brian C. Rittmeyer, “Wolf allows gun stores to reopen on limited basis during coronavirus shutdown,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 25, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/regional/wolf-allows-gun-stores-to-reopen-on-limited-basis-during-coronavirus-shutdown/
  7. [7]Brian C. Rittmeyer, “Wolf allows gun stores to reopen on limited basis during coronavirus shutdown,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 25, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/regional/wolf-allows-gun-stores-to-reopen-on-limited-basis-during-coronavirus-shutdown/
  8. [8]Brian C. Rittmeyer, “Wolf allows gun stores to reopen on limited basis during coronavirus shutdown,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 25, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/regional/wolf-allows-gun-stores-to-reopen-on-limited-basis-during-coronavirus-shutdown/