It is, of course, worth remembering that due to Donald Trump’s catastrophic mishandling of the pandemic, there have been over 200,000 “excess deaths” likely due to the pandemic. But by all means, let’s “defeat despair and inspire hope.”
- Originally published, August 30, 2020, at 11:16 am.
- August 30, 2020, 10:34 pm:
It turns out the shooting victim in Portland may well have been a white supremacist Trump supporter and the shooter may have been among demonstrating Leftists. Further details are sparse but some possibilities come to mind:
- This could have been a “false flag” operation in which a white supremacist embedded himself among Leftists and fired at one of his own in an attempt to garner sympathy for the white supremacist cause. Yes, some of them really are this crazy and it’s even conceivable that the victim volunteered to be a martyr.
- I have also been seeing on Twitter that as police credibility has evaporated, some Leftists say they are taking up weapons—indeed, some have apparently had them all along. So it’s possible this really was a Leftist shooting at a militia member. It does appear that any violence from the Leftist side may have been provoked by the militia side.
- It is possible we will never know the truth. Police have been known to “testilie,” that is, give false testimony, even under oath. The practice may even be ubiquitous and the incentives for both district attorneys and police generally favor at least complicity if not worse. It does appear police sympathies lie with the militia, so we cannot presume that any law enforcement-led investigation will be impartial. And so we have no way to be assured of the honesty of any law enforcement-led investigation.
Donald Trump is of course seizing on the violence in his “law and order” narrative, praising his supporters.
- August 31, 2020, 9:07 am:
Guardian coverage of the Portland shooting includes video of the shooting that seems to suggest it occurred away—I don’t know how far away—from clashes between racial justice protesters and right-wing militia groups. It’s possible this had nothing to do with the protests but, adopting the logic of the Kenosha police chief, we might suggest that had this man not come to Portland to provoke violence with protesters, he might still be alive. I’m just guessing Donald Trump won’t acknowledge that.
This coverage also includes video of militia members driving pickups through protests and pepper-spraying protesters. The driving cars through protesters thing reminds me of the violence in Charlottesville.
- August 31, 2020, 9:35 am:
As I was dredging my archives to check my recollection of Charlottesville, I came across this:
In March , [Keith] Mines was one of several national-security experts whom Foreign Policy asked to evaluate the risks of a second civil war—with percentages. Mines concluded that the United States faces a sixty-per-cent chance of civil war over the next ten to fifteen years. Other experts’ predictions ranged from five per cent to ninety-five per cent. The sobering consensus was thirty-five per cent. And that was five months before Charlottesville.
I guess I’d have to say this still seems to me to be a stretch. Combatants would likely be drawn from the Left and the extreme right. I’m not seeing it become a mainstream thing. But the violence seems like it might be escalating and it certainly is eye-catching.
- August 31, 2020, 10:17 am:
If you want to see a map of the homes destroyed in the LNU Complex Fires, including the Walbridge Fire, see this Sacramento Bee article. You’ll have to drag the map quite a ways to the west to get to Sonoma County. I dragged it clear towards Fort Ross near where once I came across a home that was for sale—it was absolutely spectacular—and that I badly wished I was in any kind of condition to purchase. It looks like three homes burned there; I’m wondering if that house was among them.
When Donald Trump was being impeached, I wrote,
I object to the present proceedings because I suspect they would not be occurring at all had Trump targeted anyone other than the neoliberals’ preferred candidate for the neoliberal (Democratic) party presidential nomination and because I think there are stronger grounds for impeachment that would not enable Trump’s bigotry against migrants on the U.S.-Mexican border. I have also worried about the possibility that Trump’s base might resort to violence and it very much appears to me that I now live in an area where some of that violence might occur.
That impeachment went down to a well-deserved—I called it “[t]he stupidest impeachment ever, historically notable first for all the offenses it failed to charge Donald Trump with, second for its utterly predictable futility, and third for its transparent (and apparently failed) attempt to protect Joe Biden”—defeat but now that Donald Trump faces a possible defeat in his re-election bid this November, he has embraced a neoconservative “law and order” mantra in response to Black Lives Matter protests, and the specter I worried about with impeachment seems to be coming to life. The part I didn’t predict was that the police would embrace the militia. There is a new blog post entitled, “Donald Trump’s ‘brown shirts.’”
Faiz Siddiqui and Isaac Stanley-Becker, “One person shot dead in Portland following clashes between pro-Trump supporters, counterprotesters,” Washington Post, August 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/08/29/blm-activists-counterprotesters-clash-portland-leading-arrests/
Hollie Silverman and Alta Spells, “1 person is dead after a shooting during protests in downtown Portland,” CNN, August 30, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/30/us/portland-protest-fatal-shooting/index.html
Ed Pilkington and Joanna Walters, “Portland clashes: Trump accused of encouraging violence after shooting,” Guardian, August 31, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/aug/30/fatal-shooting-in-portland-as-trump-supporters-clash-with-black-lives-matter-protesters
So you see the not terribly well organized remnants of Laura approaching Pittsburgh from the southwest? It turns out they got swooped up by a low pressure area to the north, blew through Pittsburgh so rapidly as to be imperceptible (figure 1), and the result was a lovely day.
Fig. 1. 72-hour gif of satellite imagery for eastern Canada, as of August 29, 2020, at 8:01 pm.
Once upon a time, weather forecasting was a hobby I took very seriously, but there’s a reason I stopped calling myself a forecaster a decade or three back. I promise you, I sure didn’t see this coming.
I would only be going a little beyond an Intercept article in suggesting that armed right-wing militia functionally serve as Donald Trump’s “brown shirts” in a de facto alliance with police. They take their orders as he identifies groups, like Black Lives Matter and (the usually unorganized) Antifa, that allegedly pose a threat to Amerikkka. Hence Kyle Rittenhouse’s shooting of three protesters, killing two, in Kenosha. Some will surely say the arrangement permits Trump plausible deniability.
Ryan Devereaux, “The Thin Blue Line Between Violent, Pro-Trump Militias and Police,” Intercept, August 28, 2020, https://theintercept.com/2020/08/28/kyle-rittenhouse-violent-pro-trump-militias-police/
I think I see what Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf is doing. He wants an incredibly repugnant state legislature to do its fucking job. One problem is he’s using very vulnerable people, people about to pushed into homelessness because of pandemic-related unemployment, to push his point. Even by the lax standards of political ethics, this is cynical to say the least.
The other problem is that this legislature really is horrible—perhaps to an even greater degree than with Congress, Republicans here, who control both houses, are absolutely in thrall to Donald Trump—and has been specifically horrible on the topic of the pandemic. Even as urgent as this issue is, counting on the legislature to “come to its senses” is folly.
Stephen Caruso, “Gov. Wolf says his executive authority has run out on extending eviction moratorium, perplexing some experts,” Pittsburgh City Paper, August 28, 2020, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/gov-wolf-says-his-executive-authority-has-run-out-on-extending-eviction-moratorium-perplexing-some-experts/Content?oid=17896117
So it’s been a really dry summer and that might diminish the Fall colors yet again. This after the torrential storms of last year diminished those colors. Now, we’re getting torrential rainfall (figure 1), in part due to Laura, but coming from California, I’m all too well aware that a sudden torrent is no substitute for a steadier pace of lighter rain.
Fig. 1. 72-hour gif of satellite imagery for eastern Canada, as of August 29, 2020, at 4:01 am.
I’m expecting the remnants of the central part of Laura to pass over Pittsburgh today, but there’s been a flow across the northern tier of states that’s also been affecting us—this is probably not quite done yet.
I keep hearing how children can’t transmit the novel coronavirus, mainly from folks with some form of interest in getting them back in school, even as schools themselves have been cautious. It’s pretty clear kids can carry the virus. And older kids might transmit it as much as adults do. But I’m starting to suspect that proper science is not being done here while self-interested folks spin what evidence there is to support their own hopes. Because for all the hue and cry, this should be a lot more clear cut.
What I keep hearing from parents is that kids are notorious “germ factories,” spreading disease to entire families, and no one seems to offer an adequate answer for why it should be any different with the coronavirus.
Jacqueline Howard and Sandee LaMotte, “Kids can carry coronavirus in respiratory tract for weeks, study suggests,” CNN, August 28, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/28/health/kids-covid-19-nose-throat-wellness/index.html
It seems there are some peculiarities to the judicial system in Virginia which police exploit to repress dissent.
I’m not at all sure these peculiarities are unique to Virginia; in fact, I suspect something like this or perhaps even worse operates in Pittsburgh:
As for [Matthew] Cartier [who was arrested by undercover officers using an undercover van for refusing to cooperate with police at a protest], Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala released a statement saying his arrest should “be a summary offense at best” and should be handled by police in a summary hearing.
Wait. What? Police conduct “summary hearings?”
Alex Pareene, “The Police Are Pretty Sure They’re Going to Get Away With It,” New Republic, August 28, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/159142/portsmouth-virginia-police-louise-lucas-lisa-lucas-burke
- Originally published, August 27, 2020, at 9:59 pm.
- August 28, 2020, 12:57 pm:
- It turns out the renewal treatment does not require the same layover period that the initial rust-proofing treatment did. I am down for the rest of the day, however, because the carpets are wet: It turns out the place does interior detailing, which my car badly, badly, badly needed doing.
- It is just as well that the layover was not required. As I approached the Best Buy to pick up a replacement USB-C to USB-C cable for the car charger I have for my Pixelbook (which turns out not to be the problem), the skies opened up with another horrendous downpour, thunder and lightning (figure 2).
- As I was driving to the Best Buy, I saw something I couldn’t quite believe. Here it is thundering and lightning all around, on top of the hill at Old Lebanon Church Road, Old Clairton Road, and Clairton Boulevard, and some schmuck is up in a cherry picker taking down a traffic signal. And there was a cop with his lights flashing, blocking the lane so he could work. I guess it occurred to neither of them that this was work best deferred even if only until the storm relented.
So I was thinking it was a bit early for Laura’s remnants to start affecting Pittsburgh weather. I was thinking that was more likely tomorrow.
It looks like I was wrong (figure 1). My last ride tonight was through a downpour the likes of which I haven’t seen in quite some time. I was glad I’d spent the extra nickel on really, really good tires.
Fig. 1. 72-hour gif of satellite imagery for the eastern U.S. and Gulf of Mexico, as of August 27, 2020, at 8:01 pm.
To be sure, there was other weather hitting the region about the same time. But that explosive downpour, with some of the most dramatic lightning I can remember, was also a bit of Laura.
This actually might be a problem tomorrow. I have rustproofing and body coating renewals scheduled for my car. As I recall, I’ll need to keep the car dry the rest of the day. I have a garage, so once I get it there, it’ll be fine. But what will I do if it starts raining on the way home?
Fig. 2. 72-hour gif of satellite imagery for Eastern Canada, as of August 28, 2020, at 12:01 pm.
A picture I had gotten from Twitter was of an armed young white supremacist appearing at a protest against the police shooting of Jacob Blake, shooting protesters, and being allowed to leave. A Slate story refers to the shooter as a ‘vigilante’ but otherwise confirms the account and I see no reason to distinguish between white supremacism and those who defend the police assertion of privilege to do whatever the fuck they want, including shooting people, especially including shooting Black people.
[Kenosha Police Chief Daniel] Miskinis’ views of the gathering of vigilante groups that reportedly led to the killing of two local men [in a protest sparked by the police shooting of Jacob Blake] appears to be very much in line with those of his department. Before the shooting, officers in armored vehicles could be seen giving water to armed men gathered with the alleged shooter and telling them, “We appreciate you guys, we really do.” After the killings, the alleged shooter walked slowly past a series of police vehicles with his arms raised and was allowed to simply walk away. (It’s not yet clear what the officers knew about the shooting at the time, but the shots were audible in nearby footage.)
Instead of blaming the white supremacist/vigilante who shot protesters, Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis appears to blame the protesters themselves, saying they were out after a declared curfew.
Jeremy Stahl, “Kenosha Police Chief Blames Protesters for Their Own Deaths, Defends Vigilante Groups,” Slate, August 26, 2020, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/08/kenosha-police-chief-daniel-miskinis-blames-protesters-for-own-deaths.html
Fig. 1. 72-hour gif of satellite imagery for the eastern U.S. and Gulf of Mexico, as of August 27, 2020, at 6:01 am.
Gerald Herbert, Melinda Deslatte, and Stacey Plaisance, “Laura slams Louisiana coast with fierce wind, surging sea,” Associated Press, August 27, 2020, article in possession of author
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf repeated his earlier call for legalization of recreational marijuana, this time framing it as part of the state’s economic recovery from the pandemic. At last report, a bill intended to do just that was still bottled up in a hostile committee, even as the lieutenant governor echoed the governor’s call:
State Sen. [Patrick] Stefano said his committee is doing research and looking into new studies. He tells KDKA’s Meghan Schiller the biggest hold up right now is that there’s no way to measure THC in a person’s body. He said until there’s a tool to measure intoxication, he’s hesitant to move forward.
Wolf alluded to the state legislature’s failed attempts to curtail his efforts to manage the pandemic and proposed that some revenue go to help small businesses:
“House and Senate Democrats have been fighting for progress to protect families and businesses in these spaces since the beginning of the pandemic, but they have been stopped at every turn by the Republican majority focused on ignoring the public health crisis,” [Tom] Wolf said.
“That must stop now. The legislature must come back and take immediate steps to provide funding to frontline workers and businesses, put in place protections for families and our workforce, and make these commonsense reforms that can provide confidence in our government. Pennsylvanians need relief, they need reform, and they need it now.”
I trust he isn’t holding his breath.
Sonia Moghe and Taylor Romine, “Pennsylvania governor calls for legalizing marijuana as part of Covid-19 economic recovery plan,” CNN, August 26, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/26/us/pennsylvania-legalize-recreational-marijuana-trnd/index.html
Fig. 1. 72-hour of satellite imagery for the eastern U.S. and Gulf of Mexico, as of August 26, 2020, 10:01 pm.
It looks to me like landfall will occur in extreme southwestern Louisiana, just across the border from Texas.