Poor, poor, spoiled-rotten babies

Updates

  1. Originally published, June 20, 10:34 pm.
  2. June 21, 4:23 am:
    • It appears there was a campaign on TikTok to reserve tickets for Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa that would never be used. The campaign, reported by Cable News Network in a story that appears to be several days older than the dateline (judging from the URL, it would have been June 16), was not expected to succeed as it is routine that many more “RSVP” for these events than can actually attend and the rallies usually fill arenas anyway.[1] I do not and suspect I will never have the pieces put together to say that this campaign was indeed the cause of Trump’s disappointment[2] but the TikTok users, joined by Korean pop music fans, are claiming success.[3]
  3. June 21, 10:25 am:
  4. June 21, 2:53 pm:
    • Yashar Ali has what I think is a very useful analysis of Donald Trump’s rally failure,[4] which I have included in an update to my new blog entry (from the 10:25 am update).

Police

Atlanta police have responded to a murder charge against the officer who killed Rayshard Brooks with various labor actions, including a sick-out and refusals to leave their precincts.[5] This underscores a point I have previously made that police refuse accountability and so cannot be trusted with weapons.[6] I would say now that they cannot be trusted with authority over others, period.

We can now identify four essential features of policing as currently practiced:

  1. A unique license to use even lethal force against other human beings;
  2. the use of this license to enforce laws passed by mostly wealthy white men against other human beings;[7]
  3. a nearly-unanimous refusal of accountability for the use of this force;[8]
  4. and that this license colors any other tactics police may use, effectively reducing them to the potential for even lethal force.

In sum, all this amounts to is a response to so-called ‘disorder’ (as understood by mostly wealthy white men[9]) with effectively unregulated violence in which the perpetrators, both at the legislative and enforcement levels, generally refuse to recognize there is a problem.

I have updated a recent blog post accordingly and, as well, to account for Zak Cheney-Rice’s article,[10] which I had not seen before writing that post.

Will Pavia, “Atlanta police stage sick leave protest over murder charge,” Times, June 19, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/angry-police-in-sick-leave-protest-over-murder-charge-trf6btshv

Zak Cheney-Rice, “Why Police Abolition Is a Useful Framework — Even for Skeptics,” New York, June 15, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/06/police-abolitionist-lessons-for-america.html


Pennsylvania

KDKA, “Report: Pennsylvania’s State Economy Has Some Of The Most Racial Inequality In The Country,” June 17, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/17/pennsylvania-economy-racial-inequality/


Donald Trump

Eugene Daniels, “Trump campaign blames protesters for disappointing turnout at Tulsa rally,” Politico, June 20, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/06/20/trump-rally-tulsa-coronavirus-reset-2020-campaign-330248

Donie O’Sullivan, “TikTok users are trying to troll Trump’s campaign by reserving tickets for Tulsa rally they’ll never use,” Cable News Network, June 20, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/16/politics/tiktok-trump-tulsa-rally-trnd/index.html

Aruna Viswanatha, “Judge Denies Justice Department Request to Immediately Block Bolton Book,” Wall Street Journal, June 20, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/judge-denies-justice-department-request-to-block-bolton-book-11592663539

Yashar Ali, [Twitter thread], Twitter Thread App, June 21, 2020, https://threadreaderapp.com/embed/1274547228619636738.html

Taylor Lorenz, Kellen Browning, and Sheera Frenkel, “TikTok Teens and K-Pop Stans Say They Sank Trump Rally,” New York Times, June 21, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/21/style/tiktok-trump-rally-tulsa.html

Andrew Solender, “Turnout At Trump’s Tulsa Rally Was Just Under 6,200–A Fraction Of The Venue’s 19,200 Capacity,” Forbes, June 21, 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewsolender/2020/06/21/turnout-at-trumps-tulsa-rally-was-just-under-6200a-fraction-of-the-venues-19200-capacity/


  1. [1]Donie O’Sullivan, “TikTok users are trying to troll Trump’s campaign by reserving tickets for Tulsa rally they’ll never use,” Cable News Network, June 20, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/16/politics/tiktok-trump-tulsa-rally-trnd/index.html
  2. [2]Eugene Daniels, “Trump campaign blames protesters for disappointing turnout at Tulsa rally,” Politico, June 20, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/06/20/trump-rally-tulsa-coronavirus-reset-2020-campaign-330248
  3. [3]Taylor Lorenz, Kellen Browning, and Sheera Frenkel, “TikTok Teens and K-Pop Stans Say They Sank Trump Rally,” New York Times, June 21, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/21/style/tiktok-trump-rally-tulsa.html
  4. [4]Yashar Ali, [Twitter thread], Twitter Thread App, June 21, 2020, https://threadreaderapp.com/embed/1274547228619636738.html
  5. [5]Will Pavia, “Atlanta police stage sick leave protest over murder charge,” Times, June 19, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/angry-police-in-sick-leave-protest-over-murder-charge-trf6btshv
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Time to take the guns away,” Not Housebroken, January 6, 2015, https://disunitedstates.org/2015/01/04/time-to-take-the-guns-away/
  7. [7]Herbert J. Gans, The War Against The Poor: The Underclass And Antipoverty Policy (New York: Basic, 1995); Jeffrey Reiman, The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison, 7th ed. (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2004).
  8. [8]David Benfell, “Time to take the guns away,” Not Housebroken, January 6, 2015, https://disunitedstates.org/2015/01/04/time-to-take-the-guns-away/; Zak Cheney-Rice, “Why Police Abolition Is a Useful Framework — Even for Skeptics,” New York, June 15, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/06/police-abolitionist-lessons-for-america.html; Will Pavia, “Atlanta police stage sick leave protest over murder charge,” Times, June 19, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/angry-police-in-sick-leave-protest-over-murder-charge-trf6btshv
  9. [9]David Benfell, “A constitutional oligarchy: Deconstructing Federalist No. 10,” Not Housebroken, June 7, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/22/a-constitutional-oligarchy-deconstructing-federalist-no-10/
  10. [10]Zak Cheney-Rice, “Why Police Abolition Is a Useful Framework — Even for Skeptics,” New York, June 15, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/06/police-abolitionist-lessons-for-america.html

Donald Trump, the petulant raging narcissist-in-chief, must do his homework

Racism

There is a new blog post entitled, “Be careful what you ask for.”

Jason Okundaye, “Abolish Whiteness,” London Review of Books, June 16, 2020, https://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2020/june/abolish-whiteness


Unauthorized migrants

The Supreme Court has, in essence, informed the Trump administration that it must do its homework.[1]

Robert Barnes, “Supreme Court rules against Trump’s attempt to end DACA, a win for undocumented ‘Dreamers’ brought to U.S. as children,” Wall Street Journal, June 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-rules-against-trump-administration-attempt-to-end-daca-a-win-for-undocumented-immigrants-brought-to-us-as-children/2020/06/18/4f0b6c74-b163-11ea-8758-bfd1d045525a_story.html


Pandemic

Though the data is “proprietary” (really? for a government health agency?), it appears that Pennsylvania is making some progress against the pandemic.[2] The trouble here is that nobody has hermetically sealed borders. The rise in other states[3] remains a serious threat.

KDKA, “Gov. Tom Wolf: CDC Says Pa. Is 1 Of 3 States Where Coronavirus Cases Have Declined For More Than 42 Days,” June 17, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/17/gov-tom-wolf-pennsylvania-coronavirus-cases-decline/


Recession

AnnaMaria Andriotis, “Americans Skip Millions of Loan Payments as Coronavirus Takes Economic Toll,” Wall Street Journal, June 18, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/americans-skip-millions-of-loan-payments-as-coronavirus-takes-economic-toll-11592472601


  1. [1]Robert Barnes, “Supreme Court rules against Trump’s attempt to end DACA, a win for undocumented ‘Dreamers’ brought to U.S. as children,” Wall Street Journal, June 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-rules-against-trump-administration-attempt-to-end-daca-a-win-for-undocumented-immigrants-brought-to-us-as-children/2020/06/18/4f0b6c74-b163-11ea-8758-bfd1d045525a_story.html
  2. [2]KDKA, “Gov. Tom Wolf: CDC Says Pa. Is 1 Of 3 States Where Coronavirus Cases Have Declined For More Than 42 Days,” June 17, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/17/gov-tom-wolf-pennsylvania-coronavirus-cases-decline/
  3. [3]Lisa Shumaker and Brendan O’Brien, “Record spike in new coronavirus cases reported in six U.S. states as reopening accelerates,” Reuters, June 16, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-idUSKBN23N32O

Pennsylvania gadflies

Pennsylvania

On the outskirts of Duquesne, Pennsylvania, near the McKeesport-Duquesne Bridge, there is an old, somewhat dilapidated sign that seems to be a relic of something long gone. But it is of the sort where one can change the letters and when I first saw it, it seemed to be lambasting a local politician for failing to fix potholes and abandoned houses.

More recently, its message has been something like, “Quit Crying Wolf and Resign; Open Pennsylvania Now.” The reference is to Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf whose lockdown seems, so far, to have had some success in limiting the pandemic. But the sentiment is widely shared.[1]

Meanwhile, six states are seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases. Pennsylvania is not one of them.[2]

So now we see an attempt at impeachment from a representative, Daryl Metcalf, who also attempted to impeach Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto for gun control legislation. Metcalf seems like something of an authoritarian populist gadfly,[3] but what worries me is that such gadflies and their sentiments seem so common here, and what’s more, that they face so little social restraint from more sensible neighbors (I assume the latter exist).

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/


Pandemic

Donald Trump plans on holding a rally in Oklahoma, which is one of six states seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases.[4] Trump might not be much of a Christian, but he certainly seems devoted to the capitalist god.[5]

The Times of Israel article is an interview that focuses on the pandemic in Israel but also includes more generally applicable information.[6]

Lisa Shumaker and Brendan O’Brien, “Record spike in new coronavirus cases reported in six U.S. states as reopening accelerates,” Reuters, June 16, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-idUSKBN23N32O

Joel Achenbach, Karin Brulliard, and Ariana Eunjung Cha, “The ultimate covid-19 mystery: Why does it spare some and kill others?” Washington Post, June 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/the-ultimate-covid-19-mystery-why-does-it-spare-some-and-kill-others/2020/06/16/f6acc1a0-ab35-11ea-9063-e69bd6520940_story.html

David Horovitz, “‘Under-50s have little to fear, but even vaccine won’t save millions of elderly,’” Times of Israel, June 17, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/under-50s-have-little-to-fear-but-even-vaccine-wont-save-millions-of-elderly/


  1. [1]Associated Press, “Pennsylvania GOP seeks to dismantle Wolf’s shutdown,” TribLive, June 9, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/pennsylvania-gop-seeks-to-dismantle-wolfs-shutdown/; Jana Benscoter, “Dauphin, York DAs, say they won’t take immediate action against businesses that reopen in defiance of state order,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, May 9, 2020, https://www.pennlive.com/news/2020/05/dauphin-york-das-say-they-wont-take-action-against-businesses-that-reopen-in-red-phase-counties.html; Ryan Deto, “Photos: About 120 protest in Downtown Pittsburgh, calling for Pennsylvania to reopen during coronavirus pandemic,” Pittsburgh City Paper, April 20, 2020, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/photos-about-120-protest-in-downtown-pittsburgh-calling-for-pennsylvania-to-reopen-during-coronavirus-pandemic/Content?oid=17167012; Megan Guza, “Gov. Wolf threatens action against Pennsylvania counties, businesses that ignore restrictions,” TribLive, May 11, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/regional/gov-wolf-threatens-action-against-pennsylvania-counties-businesses-that-ignore-restrictions/; Jamie Martines And Tom Davidson, “Protesters in Pittsburgh demand Gov. Wolf to reopen businesses amid coronavirus pandemic,” TribLive, April 20, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/protesters-gather-in-pittsburgh-demanding-gov-wolf-reopen-businesses-amid-coronavirus-pandemic/; 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; Charles Thompson, “Two central Pa. counties say they plan to reopen ahead of Gov. Wolf’s schedule,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, May 8, 2020, https://www.pennlive.com/news/2020/05/dauphin-lebanon-county-officials-declare-themselves-ready-to-reopen-say-they-will-break-from-gov-wolfs-plan.html; Charles Thompson, “A growing number of Pa. counties test Gov. Tom Wolf’s emergency powers, saying they’ll decide if it’s time to reopen,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, May 9, 2020, https://www.pennlive.com/news/2020/05/a-growing-number-of-pa-counties-test-gov-tom-wolfs-emergency-powers-saying-theyll-decide-if-its-time-to-reopen.html
  2. [2]Lisa Shumaker and Brendan O’Brien, “Record spike in new coronavirus cases reported in six U.S. states as reopening accelerates,” Reuters, June 16, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-idUSKBN23N32O
  3. [3]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/
  4. [4]Lisa Shumaker and Brendan O’Brien, “Record spike in new coronavirus cases reported in six U.S. states as reopening accelerates,” Reuters, June 16, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-idUSKBN23N32O
  5. [5]David Benfell, “The capitalist death cult,” Not Housebroken, March 27, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/03/27/the-capitalist-death-cult/; David Benfell, “An impatient capitalist god demands human sacrifice. Now,” Not Housebroken, April 17, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/15/an-impatient-capitalist-god-demands-human-sacrifice-now/
  6. [6]David Horovitz, “‘Under-50s have little to fear, but even vaccine won’t save millions of elderly,’” Times of Israel, June 17, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/under-50s-have-little-to-fear-but-even-vaccine-wont-save-millions-of-elderly/

Eviction can’t be the answer, but I guess it is

Recession

I previously noted that “[t]he self-righteousness and sense of entitlement is strong in these folks [landlords]”[1] and indeed they are evicting and harassing tenants by means both legal and illegal.[2]

Even if they can’t be evicted right now, if the courts are closed, the landlords are sending threatening emails, text messages, asking for rent, threatening to lock tenants out.[3]

They’re ruthless in the very ways I have heard so many times over the years that they are.

Nationwide, the coronavirus housing catastrophe is just beginning to pick up momentum. The true eviction cliff could come in August, after the federal $600-per-week boost to unemployment benefits ends. Those benefits are helping tens of millions of households keep up with the rent. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already pledged not to renew these benefits.[4]

Eviction can’t be the answer, but I guess it is, even as housing really already wasn’t affordable for low income folks anywhere in the country,[5] making the burden of catching upon missed rent payments likely insurmountable.

Associated Press, “Tenants Behind on Rent in Pandemic Face Harassment, Eviction,” U.S. News and World Report, June 14, 2020, https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/virginia/articles/2020-06-13/tenants-behind-on-rent-in-pandemic-face-harassment-eviction


Pacific Gas and Electric

After each name was read, the chief executive of PG&E Corp. solemnly answered: “Guilty, your honor.”

PG&E admitted its guilt Tuesday in Butte County Superior Court in connection with the Camp Fire, the second time in three years the state’s largest utility has been convicted of a felony.[6]

Pacific Gas and Electric pled guilty to “a count of felony involuntary manslaughter for each of the 84 victims and a single count of unlawfully starting a fire, for a total of 85 counts.”[7] The corporation is a repeat felony offender, but it seems very unlikely anyone is going to prison and it seems highly likely the company will be allowed to continue operating.

I had thought the consequences of a felony conviction were supposed to be rather more serious.

Dale Kasler, “PG&E pleads guilty to manslaughter charges for Camp Fire, deadliest in California history,” Sacramento Bee, June 16, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article243571597.html


Housekeeping

So as I have begun to look seriously at housing options (because I think I may need to move next year), I’m seeing a situation around Pittsburgh and, for that matter, pretty much all around the country, in which there are four options:

  1. Affordable housing in desperately poor and likely dangerous neighborhoods. These are likely slums. I’m already unhappy with my present landlord on maintenance issues and these are neighborhoods I don’t even want to drive through at night (they’re fine during the day), let alone sleep in.
  2. Affordable housing in not so poor but white supremacist neighborhoods. This is pretty much the situation I’m in now. It’s quiet and I can sleep at night. Usually, the maintenance is pretty good (just not on a couple issues lately). But I hate seeing the guns. I hate seeing the Confederate flags. I hate seeing all the camouflage paint schemes. I hate seeing the “Blue Lives Matter” flags and signs expressing support for local police.
  3. Unaffordable housing in wealthier, better educated, and often gentrified neighborhoods. Here I find people with whom I can have intelligent conversations. But I can’t afford the rent.
  4. Unaffordable housing in fabulously wealthy neighborhoods, sometimes with fabulous views. Obviously not an option.

The other thing I’m increasingly sensing is that in Pittsburgh, renting generally marks one as poor: Houses can be bought for $300,000, so if you rent, you are either renting a very expensive apartment or you are poor. This bothers me because I am well aware that being poor marks one as a target for the police and I in fact go to great lengths to limit the appearance of being poor (the Uber and Lyft stickers on my car do not help).

I haven’t actually had any trouble with the police here but let’s just say it’s a sensitive point for me.


  1. [1]David Benfell, “When nothing happened next,” Not Housebroken, March 29, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/03/29/when-nothing-happened-next/
  2. [2]Associated Press, “Tenants Behind on Rent in Pandemic Face Harassment, Eviction,” U.S. News and World Report, June 14, 2020, https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/virginia/articles/2020-06-13/tenants-behind-on-rent-in-pandemic-face-harassment-eviction
  3. [3]Rachel Garland, quoted in Associated Press, “Tenants Behind on Rent in Pandemic Face Harassment, Eviction,” U.S. News and World Report, June 14, 2020, https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/virginia/articles/2020-06-13/tenants-behind-on-rent-in-pandemic-face-harassment-eviction
  4. [4]Kriston Capps, “What Happens When the Eviction Bans End?” CityLab, May 29, 2020, https://www.citylab.com/equity/2020/05/pay-rent-eviction-ban-coronavirus-housing-crisis-landlord/612277/
  5. [5]National Low Income Housing Coalition, “Out Of Reach 2019,” 2020, https://reports.nlihc.org/oor
  6. [6]Dale Kasler, “PG&E pleads guilty to manslaughter charges for Camp Fire, deadliest in California history,” Sacramento Bee, June 16, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article243571597.html
  7. [7]Dale Kasler, “PG&E pleads guilty to manslaughter charges for Camp Fire, deadliest in California history,” Sacramento Bee, June 16, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article243571597.html

This ‘lesser of two evils’ thing just ain’t working like it used to

Updates

  1. Originally published, June 14, 10:00 pm.
  2. June 15, 7:16 am:
    • Even my loyal readers hadn’t read my most recent blog post and I realized the argument could be made stronger. I have revised it and changed the publication date. This affects the URL. It has been updated here.
  3. June 15, 9:50 am:
    • There has been yet another police shooting of yet another Black man.[1] That blog post has been revised further.

Horse race

It would seem that some folks just aren’t buying into the whole concept of “lesser of two evils” anymore.[2] That’s probably a bigger problem for Democrats than it is Republicans. They were warned. I warned them[3] but they were also warned by a whole bunch of people besides me all this year.

But of course, that assumes the Democrats even want to win. Which, to me, isn’t at all clear.[4]

Cleve R. Wootson, Jr., “New generation of activists, deeply skeptical of Democratic Party, resists calls to channel energy into the 2020 campaign,” Washington Post, June 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/new-generation-of-activists-deeply-skeptical-of-democratic-party-resists-calls-to-channel-energy-into-the-2020-campaign/2020/06/13/cbacede6-ac47-11ea-9063-e69bd6520940_story.html


Police

There is a new blog post entitled, “Defunding the police is, at best, a baby’s first step.”

Amanda Arnold, “What Exactly Does It Mean to Defund the Police?” Cut, June 12, 2020, https://www.thecut.com/2020/06/what-does-defund-the-police-mean-the-phrase-explained.html

Theresa Waldrop et al., “Autopsy report says Rayshard Brooks was shot twice in the back, lists manner of death as homicide,” Cable News Network, June 14, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/14/us/atlanta-protests-rayshard-brooks-sunday/index.html

Felicia Sonmez et al., “Killing of black man in Atlanta puts spotlight anew on police, as prosecutors contemplate charges against officer,” Washington Post, June 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/killing-of-black-man-in-atlanta-puts-spotlight-anew-on-police-as-prosecutors-contemplate-charges-against-officer/2020/06/14/ad9cea20-ae60-11ea-856d-5054296735e5_story.html


Recession

Olivia Rockeman and Jill Ward, “Millions of Job Losses Are at Risk of Becoming Permanent,” Bloomberg, June 14, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-06-14/millions-of-jobs-could-be-permanently-lost-in-reallocation-shock


  1. [1]Felicia Sonmez et al., “Killing of black man in Atlanta puts spotlight anew on police, as prosecutors contemplate charges against officer,” Washington Post, June 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/killing-of-black-man-in-atlanta-puts-spotlight-anew-on-police-as-prosecutors-contemplate-charges-against-officer/2020/06/14/ad9cea20-ae60-11ea-856d-5054296735e5_story.html; Theresa Waldrop et al., “Autopsy report says Rayshard Brooks was shot twice in the back, lists manner of death as homicide,” Cable News Network, June 14, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/14/us/atlanta-protests-rayshard-brooks-sunday/index.html
  2. [2]Cleve R. Wootson, Jr., “New generation of activists, deeply skeptical of Democratic Party, resists calls to channel energy into the 2020 campaign,” Washington Post, June 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/new-generation-of-activists-deeply-skeptical-of-democratic-party-resists-calls-to-channel-energy-into-the-2020-campaign/2020/06/13/cbacede6-ac47-11ea-9063-e69bd6520940_story.html
  3. [3]David Benfell, “A false dichotomy view of politics,” Not Housebroken, November 2, 2016, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/05/15/the-lesser-of-two-evils-the-more-successful-con-artist/; David Benfell, “The lesser of two evils? The more successful con artist,” Not Housebroken, May 15, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/05/15/the-lesser-of-two-evils-the-more-successful-con-artist/; David Benfell, “How the neoliberal (usually known as Democratic) party may well lose in 2020,” Not Housebroken, December 7, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/07/how-the-neoliberal-usually-known-as-democratic-party-may-well-lose-in-2020/
  4. [4]David Benfell, “The limits of game theory in U.S. politics,” Not Housebroken, December 20, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/20/the-limits-of-game-theory-in-u-s-politics/

Kente cloth was the wrong cloth to wear

George Floyd

There is a new blog post entitled, “They should have ‘simply worn red.’

Nana Efua Mumford, “Democratic leaders’ kneeling was fine. The kente cloth was not,” Washington Post, June 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/06/11/educate-yourself-before-you-wear-kente/

Maritza Perez, “The Congressional Police Reform Bill Fails to Meet the Moment,” Common Dreams, June 12, 2020, https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/06/12/congressional-police-reform-bill-fails-meet-moment


Pittsburgh

One longstanding issue has been that police have increasingly been dealing with social problems, such as drug addiction, homelessness, and poverty. They have one approach, which is pretty much to treat everything and everybody as criminal or as potentially criminal. But it’s completely the wrong approach for many issues, especially where mental health is involved.

Bill Peduto is backing a measure that would enable the police to step back from at least some of these issues so people who are really victims can actually get help rather than ending up in the slammer.[1] It’s a good move.

Andy Sheehan, “Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto Proposes Creation Of New Office That Would ‘Allow Public Safety To Step Back’ And Get People Longer-Term Help,” KDKA, June 12, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/12/pittsburgh-office-of-community-health-and-safety/


  1. [1]Andy Sheehan, “Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto Proposes Creation Of New Office That Would ‘Allow Public Safety To Step Back’ And Get People Longer-Term Help,” KDKA, June 12, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/12/pittsburgh-office-of-community-health-and-safety/

Raze and replace

Pittsburgh

It’s not like I’m even remotely surprised but this is the first I’ve heard of the U.S. Steel Edgar Thomson plant in Braddock and North Braddock being a problem.[1] The one I’ve been hearing about pretty much since I got here is the Clairton Coke Works, also a U.S. Steel plant.[2] I’ve said this before, but they’re both absolutely disgraceful plants that should be shut down, razed, and replaced with something that would actually benefit local residents.

Kristina Marusic, “Environmental injustice in Pittsburgh: Poor, minority neighborhoods see higher rates of deaths from air pollution,” Environmental Health News, June 12, 2020, https://www.ehn.org/environmental-injustice-pittsburgh-air-pollution-2646169635.html


Pandemic

I see the story of the Pennsylvania General Assembly passing a resolution to end the COVID-19 emergency declaration that would not even accomplish the ends its advocates claim[3] and I think of that restaurant in North Strabane, the one run by a Jewish family—none of whom are wearing masks—in which the father threatened to reopen for dine-in service while Washington County was still in yellow phase, a restaurant which I feel I can no longer ethically patronize.

Clearly this action was meant to appeal to that father and people like him. But to me, the one thing the legislature seems not to be debating is health or lives lost. As I’ve repeatedly noted, the capitalist god is claiming its human sacrifices.[4]

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


  1. [1]Kristina Marusic, “Environmental injustice in Pittsburgh: Poor, minority neighborhoods see higher rates of deaths from air pollution,” Environmental Health News, June 12, 2020, https://www.ehn.org/environmental-injustice-pittsburgh-air-pollution-2646169635.html
  2. [2]Jessi Quinn Alperin, “Clairton, PA, wants to be clear: Residents demand accountability from U.S. Steel,” Environmental Health News, May 13, 2019,
    https://www.ehn.org/clairton-coke-works-air-pollution-2636784943.html; Ollie Gratzinger, “Allegheny County issues another fine to US Steel for air pollution violation,” Pittsburgh City Paper, January 17, 2020, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/allegheny-county-issues-another-fine-to-us-steel-for-air-pollution-violation/Content?oid=16576925; KDKA, “Allegheny Co. Health Department Joins Federal Suit Against U.S. Steel,” June 18, 2019, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2019/06/18/allegheny-county-health-department-suit-against-us-steel/; Hannah Lynn, “Report: Pittsburgh ranked 8th worst for air pollution among US cities,” Pittsburgh City Paper, April 22, 2020, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/report-pittsburgh-ranked-8th-worst-for-air-pollution-among-us-cities/Content?oid=17179037; Jamie Martines, “U.S. Steel facing a 2nd federal lawsuit tied to December fire at Clairton Plant,” TribLive, August 26, 2019, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/u-s-steel-facing-a-2nd-federal-lawsuit-tied-to-december-fire-at-clairton-plant/; Jamie Martines, “Settlement over bad air in Clairton calls for U.S. Steel to cough up $2 million,” TribLive, December 11, 2019, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/settlement-over-bad-air-in-clairton-calls-for-u-s-steel-to-cough-up-2-million/; Jamie Martines, “U.S. Steel to hold info sessions about Clairton, Braddock plant upgrades,” TribLive, January 27, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/u-s-steel-to-hold-info-sessions-about-clairton-braddock-plant-upgrades/; Jamie Martines, “U.S. Steel, Allegheny County finalize Clairton Coke Works emissions settlement,” TribLive, February 10, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/u-s-steel-and-allegheny-county-finalize-clairton-coke-works-emissions-settlement/; Andy Sheehan, “Air Quality In Mon Valley Once Again Hits Unhealthy Levels,” KDKA, February 24, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/02/24/mon-valley-air-quality-unhealthy-levels/; Teghan Simonton, “Health department: Air pollution in Mon Valley exceeded federal levels over Christmas,” TribLive, December 27, 2019, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/health-department-air-pollution-in-mon-valley-exceeded-federal-levels-over-christmas/; WTAE, “U.S. Steel, health department have deal to settle 2018 air pollution violations at Clairton Coke Works,” June 28, 2019, https://www.wtae.com/article/us-steel-reaches-agreement-with-health-department-to-resolve-enforcement-orders-at-clairton-coke-works/28221648; WTAE, “Allegheny Co. Health Department announces fines against U.S. Steel for violations at Clairton Coke Works,” May 28, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/allegheny-co-health-department-announces-fines-against-us-steel-for-violations-at-clairton-coke-works/32702736
  3. [3]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
  4. [4]David Benfell, “The capitalist death cult,” Not Housebroken, March 27, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/03/27/the-capitalist-death-cult/; David Benfell, “An impatient capitalist god demands human sacrifice. Now,” Not Housebroken, April 17, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/15/an-impatient-capitalist-god-demands-human-sacrifice-now/

The bullshit is stro-o-o-ng, today

There is an update to an earlier post in this space, “The capitalist god is still getting its human sacrifice.”


Civil War

There is a new blog post entitled, “How many times must it be explained that the Civil War was about the preservation of slavery?” I mean, seriously, this is getting tiresome.

Marc Fisher, “Confederate statues: In 2020, a renewed battle in America’s enduring Civil War,” Washington Post, June 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2020/06/11/confederate-statues-attacked-protesters-george-floyd/


Gig economy

San Jose Mercury News, “CPUC rules Uber, Lyft drivers are company employees,” Sacramento Bee, June 11, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/business/article243464631.html


Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto has truly been a jackass on Twitter, uttering disgraceful banalities in response to the protests that have sprung up in response to the police murder of George Floyd and I and others have been reaming his ass about the grievances Blacks have in Pittsburgh. (I quoted one of these tweets and part of my response to it in a since updated blog post.[1])

In a way, it’s understandable. You grow up with a situation, pretty much as I did in the San Francisco Bay Area, and you don’t question it. It simply is, like the fog creeping over Twin Peaks or the rustle of a breeze in the eucalyptus leaves. Certainly I saw poorer neighborhoods there. But coming here, what I’ve seen is generally worse—the worst of the housing projects have now mostly been torn down around San Francisco but are plentiful around Pittsburgh.

I can think of only one comparable situation to the neighborhoods I see here today and I can remember it from my childhood: As I recall, it was mostly along Post and Sutter Streets, between about Lyon and Steiner Streets, where all the houses had been boarded up and stencil-painted with warnings that they had been condemned for rodent infestations. That housing was never torn down but has since all been gentrified (I’m guessing about thirty years ago, forty at the most) in merely one example of what makes me doubt the claim that Pittsburgh is more heavily gentrified than San Francisco.[2]

You’re entitled to critique the comparison: Here what I see is often lots of abandoned homes mixed with houses still being occupied, often not looking much better. This is neglect and disinvestment. What I saw in the Western Addition in San Francisco, I still don’t understand, and always thought stunk to high heaven: How could it have been that all those houses had rat infestations, while houses a couple blocks away, even on Bush Street, certainly on Pine, remained safe for occupancy? (As you proceed in this direction, you get closer to Pacific Heights, a very wealthy neighborhood.)

Peduto hasn’t replied directly to my tweets. But he did release a statement yesterday that, if words translate to action, seems to be a beginning.[3] We’ll see.

Teghan Simonton, “Peduto gives statement on George Floyd and Black Lives Matter movement,” Tribune-Review, June 11, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/peduto-gives-statement-on-george-floyd-and-black-lives-matter-movement/


  1. [1]David Benfell, “The reason the status quo is not the answer is that the status quo cannot be the answer,” Not Housebroken, June 4, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/06/01/the-reason-the-status-quo-is-not-the-answer-is-that-the-status-quo-cannot-be-the-answer/
  2. [2]Ryan Deto, “Pittsburgh is one of the most gentrified cities in the U.S.,” Pittsburgh City Paper, April 4, 2019, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/pittsburgh-is-one-of-the-most-gentrified-cities-in-the-us/Content?oid=14381722
  3. [3]Teghan Simonton, “Peduto gives statement on George Floyd and Black Lives Matter movement,” Tribune-Review, June 11, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/peduto-gives-statement-on-george-floyd-and-black-lives-matter-movement/

Gee, that cat might really be dead!

Recession

Perhaps this[1] will focus some politicians’ minds. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down nearly 1,900 points for reasons[2] that should be utterly unsurprising.[3]

Rachel Siegel, Thomas Heath, and Jeff Stein, “Dow slides more than 1,800 points on fears of coronavirus resurgence, more economic pain,” Washington Post, June 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/06/11/markets-today-fed-coronavirus/


Pittsburgh

Unusually for me, I actually managed an early morning grocery shopping trip. On the way to, I noticed a pair of turkeys walking unusually slowly across the road. This was of little concern to me as I was turning onto another road before them. Then, just as I was making the turn, I noticed, between them, there was a chick, hardly able to keep up with an adult gait. They were hovering protectively.

On the way back, I noticed a pickup truck in front of me had a rear view mirror, not of the usual sort, but rather a video screen (its brightness exceeded that of ambient light), fed from a camera—I was eventually able to discern—in the third brake light assembly.

The advantages are readily apparent: Such a system should be able to compensate for low light and to mute assholes with high beams.

But I also felt less visible, even in my mid-size car, a Toyota Camry Hybrid. Which suggests that my next car should be higher profile.

That also implies a larger car, which would terrify me on a ludicrously narrow street like Rialto, and which would be even harder to fit in a garage like the one I now rent. In Pittsburgh, a Prius might be better.

The decision is always on my mind anyway because being unable to find a real job,[4] I rely on my car for my livelihood, but also this has been an expensive year for my car, 36¢ per mile so far versus an average over the last several years of 27¢ and a previous annual high in 2018 of 29¢ (not counting depreciation, which I really don’t know how to calculate). That’s an eye-catching difference that includes some unexpected front end work and some not-so-surprising tires. But I’m really hoping I don’t need to make the decision soon.

I had a passenger this afternoon who confessed to me that, though she had lived in several places in the world, driving in Pittsburgh is the worst. She said she and her fiancé are instantly in road rage from the moment they get in their car. All I can say is I’m way past that here, at least for the most part. It really is awful, though.

So I reached the end of the day, and really needing to hit a restroom, I stopped at a Sheetz (a chain of convenience/gas stores; these, GetGos, and Speedways can be relied on for restrooms if they’re of any size—other gas stations and convenience stores can generally be relied on not to have restrooms), I think in Harmar Township. I think I was the only person inside wearing a mask. The checkout line extended beyond where they had marked six foot separations, and people crowded behind me.

When I got home and walked out of my garage, I could see down to a softball field past the Baldwin Library. There was a game going on, with the players in uniform, suggesting this was an organized event. None were social distancing unless they were out in positions on the field.


  1. [1]Rachel Siegel, Thomas Heath, and Jeff Stein, “Dow slides more than 1,800 points on fears of coronavirus resurgence, more economic pain,” Washington Post, June 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/06/11/markets-today-fed-coronavirus/
  2. [2]Rachel Siegel, Thomas Heath, and Jeff Stein, “Dow slides more than 1,800 points on fears of coronavirus resurgence, more economic pain,” Washington Post, June 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/06/11/markets-today-fed-coronavirus/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Dead cat bounce,” Not Housebroken, June 6, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/06/06/dead-cat-bounce/
  4. [4]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/