Mike Pence says he’s the wrong person to sue (Update #3)

Updates

  1. Originally published, December 31, 2020, at 10:38 pm.
  2. January 1, 2021, 11:57 am:
  3. January 1, 2021, 9:30 pm:
    • The judge dismissed Louie Gohmert’s lawsuit seeking to overturn the Electoral Count Act, “saying neither the congressman nor his allies have legal standing to pursue the case.”[1]

Previously, Louie Gohmert sued Mike Pence seeking to overturn the Electoral Count Act in a bid to allow Pence to pick and choose which electoral college votes to accept.[2] Pence has moved for dismissal, claiming that Gohmert should sue Congress instead and that the suit is anyway problematic:[3]

To win a lawsuit, a plaintiff must convince a judge that the interests of the person they are suing are opposed to their own — there must be some controversy or conflict between them that could be resolved through the litigation.

In this case, a Justice Department lawyer, writing on Pence’s behalf, wrote that the interests of Gohmert and the other plaintiffs were not sufficiently opposed to Pence’s own — since they were seeking to expand his power — to justify a suit.

“The Vice President is not the proper defendant to this lawsuit,” wrote Deputy Assistant Attorney General John V. Coghlan.

“The Vice President — the only defendant in this case — is ironically the very person whose power they seek to promote,” he added. “A suit to establish that the Vice President has discretion over the count, filed against the Vice President, is a walking legal contradiction.”

Instead, Coghlan wrote that Congress was the proper defendant for such a suit.

Coghlan wrote that the lawsuit has other problems, too, and that, as a result, the judge should reject the suit, particularly given the limited timeline before next week’s vote, without trying to weigh difficult and never-before-tested constitutional issues.[4]

I’m not a lawyer. But I have heard of a ‘friendly’ lawsuit, but that was under very sketchy circumstances. I have also heard that there’s no such thing as a ‘friendly’ lawsuit. The Justice Department lawyer appears to be arguing the latter on behalf of Pence.[5] I guess we’ll see what the judge says.

Rosalind S. Helderman and John Wagner, “Pence seeks rejection of lawsuit that aimed to expand his power to overturn the election,” Washington Post, December 31, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/sasse-letter-electoral-college-ploy/2020/12/31/44da8dba-4b65-11eb-a9d9-1e3ec4a928b9_story.html

Devlin Barrett, “Judge dismisses Gohmert lawsuit seeking to stymie Biden electoral college count,” Washington Post, January 1, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/gohmert-court-filing-claims-pence-is-not-a-glorified-envelope-opener/2021/01/01/eeb6b222-4c51-11eb-839a-cf4ba7b7c48c_story.html


  1. [1]Devlin Barrett, “Judge dismisses Gohmert lawsuit seeking to stymie Biden electoral college count,” Washington Post, January 1, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/gohmert-court-filing-claims-pence-is-not-a-glorified-envelope-opener/2021/01/01/eeb6b222-4c51-11eb-839a-cf4ba7b7c48c_story.html
  2. [2]Kyle Cheney, “Gohmert suit may force Pence’s hand in effort to overturn Trump’s defeat,” Politico, December 28, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/28/gohmert-suit-pence-overturn-trumps-defeat-451485
  3. [3]Rosalind S. Helderman and John Wagner, “Pence seeks rejection of lawsuit that aimed to expand his power to overturn the election,” Washington Post, December 31, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/sasse-letter-electoral-college-ploy/2020/12/31/44da8dba-4b65-11eb-a9d9-1e3ec4a928b9_story.html
  4. [4]Rosalind S. Helderman and John Wagner, “Pence seeks rejection of lawsuit that aimed to expand his power to overturn the election,” Washington Post, December 31, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/sasse-letter-electoral-college-ploy/2020/12/31/44da8dba-4b65-11eb-a9d9-1e3ec4a928b9_story.html
  5. [5]Rosalind S. Helderman and John Wagner, “Pence seeks rejection of lawsuit that aimed to expand his power to overturn the election,” Washington Post, December 31, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/sasse-letter-electoral-college-ploy/2020/12/31/44da8dba-4b65-11eb-a9d9-1e3ec4a928b9_story.html

Mitch McConnell might not want a deal (Update #3)

Updates

  1. Originally published, December 29, 2020, 10:00 pm.

  2. December 30, 2020, 9:20 am, revised 11:50 am:

    • Mitch McConnell’s attempt to combine an increase in stimulus payments to $2,000 with a Section 230 repeal and election fraud commission has, according to Politico, “no chance of becoming law.” Some, apparently including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, see the effort as a move to kill the increase entirely,[1] as the payment increase cannot be split off from McConnell’s bill and the House of Representatives would have to come back into session—not impossible—to approve any changes.[2]

      There is still, evidently, a chance that $2,000 checks will become law. But it is also possible that neoliberals among the Democrats figured they could rely on McConnell to kill it.

  3. December 30, 2020, 10:00 pm:

    • David Wallace-Wells does not approve of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution effort.[3] Actually, that’d be putting it mildly:

      Within hours of receiving WHO guidance on January 13, scientists in Thailand began deploying a COVID-19 test, as the Washington Post recently recounted; it took the CDC 46 days to produce one that worked. By March 1, South Korea was administering 11,000 tests per day, a rapidly growing figure; in the U.S., a country about seven times larger, the number was 183. Early, low-end estimates suggested 500,000 to 700,000 tests each day were necessary to slow the spread of the disease, and high-end estimates ran to 3 million per day; the U.S. didn’t reach 700,000 daily tests until mid-June, and still hasn’t reached that threshold of 3 million per day. As recently as August, lab delays caused by pent-up demand meant it was taking so long to deliver results that the tests themselves were effectively meaningless.

      That is just the story of testing, but contact tracing and isolation were bungled just as badly. Early estimates for the number of contact tracers needed ran between 100,000 and 300,000 people working, nationwide, to alert the contacts of positive cases to encourage them to isolate. As of May, the number was under 8,000. Today, it is still just 70,000, and those who are reached by those tracers are overwhelmingly not responding. There has also been hopelessly inadequate support for those hoping to isolate, or quarantine, during periods of risk — not to mention insufficient protections for those who had to miss work to do so.

      And now here we are, nearly a year into the pandemic, making precisely the same mistake with the vaccine.[4]

    • Mitch McConnell has made it clear he does not approve of the Democrats’ bill, passed by the House of Representatives, to raise the economic stimulus payout from $600 to $2,000.[5]

      [Mitch] McConnell said he opposed the House-passed measure out of a belief it would greatly inflate the U.S. debt and benefit some families who are not in need of financial assistance. Some of the people who would qualify for the payments belong to households earning up to $300,000, the GOP leader contended, adding that many of them had not been disadvantaged by the pandemic.[6]

      McConnell reiterated his intention to bundle it with a Section 230 repeal and the establishment of an election fraud commission. Even as the Democrats characterize these other provisions as ‘poison pills’ meant to kill the increase,[7] I continue to rather strongly suspect that this is precisely what they expected him to do, enabling them to pretend to care about people being pushed into poverty[8] and homelessness,[9] but breathing a sigh of relief as neoliberal dogma is upheld, yet again.


Depression

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell prevented an immediate vote on a bill already passed by the House of Representatives to raise the stimulus payments to $2,000.[10]

As the legislative jockeying continued Tuesday, [Donald] Trump escalated his blistering attacks on GOP leaders for their inaction so far.

“WE NEED NEW & ENERGETIC REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP,” he wrote.

He also said there would be consequences for his political party if they didn’t act.

“Unless Republicans have a death wish, and it is also the right thing to do, they must approve the $2000 payments ASAP,” Trump wrote. “$600 IS NOT ENOUGH! Also, get rid of Section 230 – Don’t let Big Tech steal our Country, and don’t let the Democrats steal the Presidential Election. Get tough!”[11]

Democrats object but it appears McConnell is actually trying to give Trump all of these things:

[Mitch] McConnell’s moves on Tuesday appeared to mirror demands that [Donald] Trump laid out on Sunday. In a statement released after he signed the $900 billion stimulus bill into law, he said the Senate would “start the process for a vote that increases checks to $2,000, repeals Section 230, and starts an investigation into voter fraud.” Those are the three provisions McConnell has attempted to package into one piece of legislation despite objections from Democrats.

“Section 230” is a reference to a 1996 federal law that broadly indemnifies tech platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google for the actions of their users. Trump has railed against the tech companies as they have started to crack down on his unfounded postings alleging voter fraud in the November election, as well as much more aggressive actions targeting postings made by his supporters containing threats and disinformation.[12]

Mike DeBonis and Tony Romm, “McConnell blocks Democrats’ attempt to quickly approve $2,000 stimulus checks amid pressure on GOP to act,” Washington Post, December 29, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/stimulus-checks-senate/2020/12/29/344fa850-49d9-11eb-839a-cf4ba7b7c48c_story.html

Burgess Everett, “Trump leans on McConnell for $2,000 checks amid GOP resistance,” Politico, December 29, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/29/2-000-checks-sputter-mcconnell-blocks-dems-451918

Mike DeBonis, [Twitter thread], Thread Reader App, December 30, 2020, https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1344103713741402112.html


Pandemic

David Wallace-Wells, “America’s Vaccine Rollout Is Already a Disaster,” New York, December 30, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/article/americas-vaccine-rollout-disaster.html


  1. [1]Burgess Everett, “Trump leans on McConnell for $2,000 checks amid GOP resistance,” Politico, December 29, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/29/2-000-checks-sputter-mcconnell-blocks-dems-451918
  2. [2]Mike DeBonis, [Twitter thread], Thread Reader App, December 30, 2020, https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1344103713741402112.html
  3. [3]David Wallace-Wells, “America’s Vaccine Rollout Is Already a Disaster,” New York, December 30, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/article/americas-vaccine-rollout-disaster.html
  4. [4]David Wallace-Wells, “America’s Vaccine Rollout Is Already a Disaster,” New York, December 30, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/article/americas-vaccine-rollout-disaster.html
  5. [5]Tony Romm and Karoun Demirjian, “McConnell says push by Democrats, Trump for $2,000 stimulus checks has ‘no realistic path to quickly pass the Senate,’” Washington Post, December 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2020/12/30/stimulus-checks-senate/
  6. [6]Tony Romm and Karoun Demirjian, “McConnell says push by Democrats, Trump for $2,000 stimulus checks has ‘no realistic path to quickly pass the Senate,’” Washington Post, December 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2020/12/30/stimulus-checks-senate/
  7. [7]Tony Romm and Karoun Demirjian, “McConnell says push by Democrats, Trump for $2,000 stimulus checks has ‘no realistic path to quickly pass the Senate,’” Washington Post, December 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2020/12/30/stimulus-checks-senate/,
  8. [8]Heather Long, “Nearly 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty since the summer,” Washington Post, December 16, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/16/poverty-rising/
  9. [9]Heather Long, “Millions of Americans are heading into the holidays unemployed and over $5,000 behind on rent,” Washington Post, December 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/07/unemployed-debt-rent-utilities/
  10. [10]Mike DeBonis and Tony Romm, “McConnell blocks Democrats’ attempt to quickly approve $2,000 stimulus checks amid pressure on GOP to act,” Washington Post, December 29, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/stimulus-checks-senate/2020/12/29/344fa850-49d9-11eb-839a-cf4ba7b7c48c_story.html
  11. [11]Mike DeBonis and Tony Romm, “McConnell blocks Democrats’ attempt to quickly approve $2,000 stimulus checks amid pressure on GOP to act,” Washington Post, December 29, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/stimulus-checks-senate/2020/12/29/344fa850-49d9-11eb-839a-cf4ba7b7c48c_story.html
  12. [12]Mike DeBonis and Tony Romm, “McConnell blocks Democrats’ attempt to quickly approve $2,000 stimulus checks amid pressure on GOP to act,” Washington Post, December 29, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/stimulus-checks-senate/2020/12/29/344fa850-49d9-11eb-839a-cf4ba7b7c48c_story.html

Where the uncouth would determine who is worthy

Donald Trump

There is a new blog post entitled, “Who shall determine our fate?.”

Oh yeah, Mike Pence did not, as suggested,[1] remove Donald Trump from office on Sunday.

Kyle Cheney, “Gohmert suit may force Pence’s hand in effort to overturn Trump’s defeat,” Politico, December 28, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/28/gohmert-suit-pence-overturn-trumps-defeat-451485


Pandemic


  1. [1]Paul Campos, “Pence Should Remove Trump From Office on Sunday,” New York, December 23, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/12/if-trump-uses-martial-law-pence-should-use-25th-amendment.html

The queue, Phase One

Pandemic

It’s not quite explicit, but I would expect that taxi, Uber, and Lyft drivers would be included with “public transit workers” in Phase 1B of the vaccine rollout.[1] Uber had earlier requested early access for its drivers.[2]

Ryan W. Miller, “How will you know when it’s your turn for a COVID vaccine? It’s complicated,” South Bend Tribune, December 28, 2020, https://www.southbendtribune.com/news/local/how-will-you-know-when-its-your-turn-for-a-covid-vaccine-its-complicated/article_12040b2e-460f-11eb-ac18-df7117a159f5.html


  1. [1]Ryan W. Miller, “How will you know when it’s your turn for a COVID vaccine? It’s complicated,” South Bend Tribune, December 28, 2020, https://www.southbendtribune.com/news/local/how-will-you-know-when-its-your-turn-for-a-covid-vaccine-its-complicated/article_12040b2e-460f-11eb-ac18-df7117a159f5.html
  2. [2]Reuters, “Uber asks U.S. CDC to consider ride-hail drivers essential for Covid vaccine distribution,” CNBC, December 4, 2020, https://www.cnbc.com/2020/12/04/uber-asks-us-cdc-to-consider-ride-hail-drivers-essential-for-covid-vaccine-distribution.html

On the second day after Christmas (Update #2)

Updates

  1. Originally published, December 27, 2020, at 11:14 am.

  2. December 27, 2020, 11:12 pm:

    • Clearly, I am not the only one peeved about the snow plowing in Pittsburgh, as a council member, whose district includes Carrick, is raising Cain, in response, he says, to complaints.[1]

      That said, the roads were generally a whole lot better today, except in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Carrick and in the City of McKeesport. I was wondering if the fact that the temperature had risen to over forty degrees had something to do with it, but then saw the streets in Carrick, and figured I knew who was on the snow plowing shit list.

      I saw one snow plow today, parked with its lights going in the South Side, where there was no need for plowing (although I didn’t go through the South Side Slopes, a steep neighborhood with some excruciatingly narrow streets, one of which I got into trouble on yesterday). I am charitably presuming the operator was taking a break. And I am deeply suspicious that I might be being much too charitable.

      Then I got home and saw the snow, which had been several inches deep, had melted completely off in places with a southern exposure and not just in places where kids might be snowboarding downhill. So I don’t know.

      Whatever the explanation, the fact that you could cross the city limits in any direction and find roads in generally better shape even when the blizzard was in full force has to raise some questions.

    • Donald Trump reportedly signed the COVID-19 economic relief bill[2] he had earlier criticized,[3] but not before additional unemployment benefits had lapsed.[4] Whether Trump gets the $2,000 direct payment, rather than the $600, remains to be seen.[5]


Depression

The additional unemployment benefits that boosted payments and also helped the usually unassisted self-employed that were included with an earlier COVID-19 relief bill[6] have now expired,[7] and the finger pointing has begun:

But both parties dithered for months[8] because there are exactly two real goals here:

  1. Uphold neoliberal dogma so as to protect the rich (the “donor” class).[9]
  2. Blame the other party for upholding or for allegedly but not really failing to uphold neoliberal dogma.

Meanwhile, millions face homelessness.[10] Millions have been pushed into poverty.[11]

Natalie Andrews and Andrew Restuccia, “Trump Signs Covid-19 Aid Bill Averting Government Shutdown,” Wall Street Journal, December 27, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-signs-covid-19-aid-bill-averting-government-shutdown-11609117841

Tami Luhby, Sarah Westwood, and Nikki Carvajal, “Unemployment benefits lapse for jobless Americans as Trump holds out on signing relief bill,” CNN, December 27, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/26/politics/unemployment-benefits-stimulus-relief-bill/index.html


Pittsburgh

KDKA Television, “Pittsburgh Councilman Publicly Criticizes ‘Unacceptable’ State Of Roads After Snowfall,” December 27, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/12/27/pittsburgh-councilman-publicly-criticizes-unacceptable-state-of-roads-after-snowfall/


  1. [1]KDKA Television, “Pittsburgh Councilman Publicly Criticizes ‘Unacceptable’ State Of Roads After Snowfall,” December 27, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/12/27/pittsburgh-councilman-publicly-criticizes-unacceptable-state-of-roads-after-snowfall/
  2. [2]Natalie Andrews and Andrew Restuccia, “Trump Signs Covid-19 Aid Bill Averting Government Shutdown,” Wall Street Journal, December 27, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-signs-covid-19-aid-bill-averting-government-shutdown-11609117841
  3. [3]Rebecca Ballhaus, “Trump Asks Congress to Amend Covid-19 Package, Boost Direct Payments,” Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-asks-congress-to-amend-covid-19-package-boost-direct-payments-11608684702
  4. [4]Natalie Andrews and Andrew Restuccia, “Trump Signs Covid-19 Aid Bill Averting Government Shutdown,” Wall Street Journal, December 27, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-signs-covid-19-aid-bill-averting-government-shutdown-11609117841; Tami Luhby, Sarah Westwood, and Nikki Carvajal, “Unemployment benefits lapse for jobless Americans as Trump holds out on signing relief bill,” CNN, December 27, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/26/politics/unemployment-benefits-stimulus-relief-bill/index.html
  5. [5]Suzanne Malveaux, Phil Mattingly, and Clare Foran, “House fails to pass measure to increase stimulus checks to $2,000,” CNN, December 24, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/24/politics/house-vote-stimulus-checks-government/index.html
  6. [6]Sarah Ferris et al., “House passes sweeping coronavirus response package,” Politico, March 14, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/13/congress-coronavirus-stimulus-package-deal-friday-128140; Tami Luhby, Sarah Westwood, and Nikki Carvajal, “Unemployment benefits lapse for jobless Americans as Trump holds out on signing relief bill,” CNN, December 27, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/26/politics/unemployment-benefits-stimulus-relief-bill/index.html; 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/; Manu Raju et al., “White House, Senate reach historic $2 trillion stimulus deal amid growing coronavirus fears,” CNN, March 25, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/25/politics/stimulus-senate-action-coronavirus/index.html; Jeff Stein et al., “Senate Republicans release massive economic stimulus bill for coronavirus response,” Washington Post, March 19, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/19/trump-coronavirus-economic-plan-stimulus/; Jim Tankersley and Ben Casselman, “Washington Weighs Big Bailouts to Help U.S. Economy Survive Coronavirus,” New York Times, March 18, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/18/business/bailout-economy-coronavirus.html; 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/; 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/
  7. [7]Tami Luhby, Sarah Westwood, and Nikki Carvajal, “Unemployment benefits lapse for jobless Americans as Trump holds out on signing relief bill,” CNN, December 27, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/26/politics/unemployment-benefits-stimulus-relief-bill/index.html; Suzanne Malveaux, Phil Mattingly, and Clare Foran, “House fails to pass measure to increase stimulus checks to $2,000,” CNN, December 24, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/24/politics/house-vote-stimulus-checks-government/index.html
  8. [8]Paul Kane, “Congress deeply unpopular again as gridlock on coronavirus relief has real-life consequences,” Washington Post, August 1, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/congress-deeply-unpopular-again-as-gridlock-on-coronavirus-relief-has-real-life-consequences/2020/07/31/6d2f10c4-d36a-11ea-8c55-61e7fa5e82ab_story.html
  9. [9]David Benfell, “A piper needs paying,” Not Housebroken, December 24, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/19/a-piper-needs-paying/
  10. [10]Heather Long, “Millions of Americans are heading into the holidays unemployed and over $5,000 behind on rent,” Washington Post, December 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/07/unemployed-debt-rent-utilities/
  11. [11]Heather Long, “Nearly 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty since the summer,” Washington Post, December 16, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/16/poverty-rising/

Pennsyltexas? (Update #2)

Updates

  1. Originally published, December 26, 2020, at 11:23 am.
  2. December 26, 2020, 11:06 pm:
    • Pittsburgh apparently expects tire friction, engine and exhaust heat to clear its streets. They still aren’t clear, although I did see a snow plow dispensing salt along Pioneer Avenue in the Brookline neighborhood. That was a very rare exception. Also on the appalling list: McKeesport and, to a much lesser extent, Braddock.

Pennsylvania

So one of the things that absolutely amazed me upon arrival in Pennsylvania was the speeding. Driving about five miles per mile above the speed limit is normal and expected in most places. On many roads in southwest Pennsylvania, you’ll often be harassed by other drivers if you’re going anything less than ten, twenty, even twenty-five miles per hour over or more (where I come from, twenty-five over is reckless driving).

It turns out that part of the story is that local police in Pennsylvania don’t have RADAR. A bill was introduced to allow them to use it but, as far as I’ve seen, nothing came of it. So only the state troopers have it.[1] The troopers seem similarly tolerant of speeding, which of course means you’re a lot more likely to be pulled over if you’re Black.[2]

Here’s another oddity: Police need a warrant to search your vehicle, which apparently means that if they want to search your vehicle, they’ll tow it at your expense and deprive you of it for a day or two while they get the paperwork. I actually have driven past scenes where searches were clearly taking place, but this seems to have been during an interregnum when such searches were permitted, in a decision the state Supreme Court has now reversed.[3]

James Carville allegedly described Pennsylvania as “Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between.”[4] I’ve also been welcomed to “Pennsyltucky,” referring to:

Rural parts of Pennsylvania with large concentrations of country folk, noted for interest in Hunting, Country Music, NASCAR, trailer life, Wal-Mart and working at the plant. Often spotted wearing camouflage with full grown beards or unkept caveman appearance driving pickup trucks with gun racks. Note: PA has the largest Rural population of any state, not everyone who lives or is from these regions is a red neck, hick or country bumpkin and most who don’t dislike the reference “Pennsyltuckey” and find it insulting.[5]

(“Pennsyltuckey” refers to a different, but culturally similar definition in the Urban Dictionary.[6])

But you know what? This capitalist libertarian streak, also seen with a federal court decision (later overturned[7]) blocking Governor Tom Wolf’s COVID-19 lockdown orders,[8] has me thinking Texas, as in Pennsyltexas.

The headline is wrong on Sarah Gisriel’s article: It wasn’t the state legislature that mandated the change, but rather the state Supreme Court reversing itself.[9]

Sarah Gisriel, “State lawmakers once again mandate vehicle warrants, raises questions for recent cases,” WHTM, December 25, 2020, https://www.abc27.com/news/pennsylvania/the-pa-police-are-dead-in-their-tracks-as-state-lawmakers-once-again-mandate-vehicle-warrants/


  1. [1]Anne Shannon, “Proposed legislation could make Pennsylvania last state to allow local police to use radar,” WGAL, February 14, 2020, https://www.wgal.com/article/proposed-legislation-could-make-pennsylvania-last-state-to-allow-local-police-to-use-radar/30799636
  2. [2]Actual evidence is not available for many Pennsylvania police departments, but in those for which statistics are available, some racial discrepancies do appear, including in Harrisburg where more out of town white drivers get pulled over for speeding. Usually, however, minority drivers are most at risk: Ivey DeJesus, “Does a driver’s race factor into traffic stops by Pa. police? It’s nearly impossible to tell,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, December 9, 2019, https://www.pennlive.com/news/2019/12/tracking-race-in-police-traffic-stops-across-central-pa.html
  3. [3]Sarah Gisriel, “State lawmakers once again mandate vehicle warrants, raises questions for recent cases,” WHTM, December 25, 2020, https://www.abc27.com/news/pennsylvania/the-pa-police-are-dead-in-their-tracks-as-state-lawmakers-once-again-mandate-vehicle-warrants/
  4. [4]Your Dictionary, “James Carville Quotes,” n.d., https://quotes.yourdictionary.com/author/james-carville/35910
  5. [5]Brian Lauskies, “Pennsyltucky,” Urban Dictionary, September 26, 2006, https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Pennsyltucky
  6. [6]Sherman, “Pennsyltuckey,” Urban Dictionary, February 9, 2005, https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Pennsyltuckey
  7. [7]Greg Stohr, “Supreme Court Rejects Challenge to Pennsylvania Shutdown Order,” Bloomberg, October 5, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-05/supreme-court-rejects-challenge-to-pennsylvania-shutdown-order; Paula Reed Ward, “Appeals court allows Gov. Tom Wolf, state to restore covid crowd restrictions,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 1, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/appeals-court-allows-pennsylvania-to-restrict-crowd-size/
  8. [8]Paula Reed Ward, “Federal judge rules Gov. Wolf’s shutdown orders were unconstitutional,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 14, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/regional/federal-judge-rules-gov-wolfs-shutdown-orders-were-unconstitutional/
  9. [9]Sarah Gisriel, “State lawmakers once again mandate vehicle warrants, raises questions for recent cases,” WHTM, December 25, 2020, https://www.abc27.com/news/pennsylvania/the-pa-police-are-dead-in-their-tracks-as-state-lawmakers-once-again-mandate-vehicle-warrants/

The Christmas of living dangerously (Update #2)


Fig. 1. Glenbury Street, Pleasant Hills. Photograph by author, December 25, 2020.


Updates

  1. Originally published, December 25, 2020, 10:14 am.
  2. December 25, 7:33 pm:
    • So I went out into road conditions that were considerably less than ideal. But I was able to brake safely so kept working. And made a few observations:
      • The City of Pittsburgh’s snow plowing operation was nearly useless. I saw one plow that barely dented the slush. It didn’t seem to be dispensing salt.
      • A lot of people, even in sport utility vehicles and monster pickup trucks, you know, the kinds of vehicles that are supposed to be able to handle inclement weather, had a lot more trouble than I did. I think this might be because I have actual snow tires on my car. But also, I might be adjusting to driving in the snow. Even so, traction seemed to be getting worse in Carrick (a Pittsburgh neighborhood) at around 6:30 pm, so I decided to quit early. As soon as I crossed into Brentwood, the streets were a lot better. Once I was on Pennsylvania Route 51 traversing Whitehall, though, kinda bad again, and I’m not sure who’s responsible for that section of road.
      • On my way home, I went a little out of my way to get the photograph in figure 1. I had groused about all the Christmas decorations up around Pittsburgh without any snow.[1] The snow last night arrived just in time and was supplemented throughout the day.

Donald Trump

I look at this and I think to myself, it’s almost as if Donald Trump is trying[2] to provoke Mike Pence into invoking the 25th amendment.[3] But I also worry that this would further provoke the right-wing militia groups that have aligned with Trump.[4]

Paul Campos, “Pence Should Remove Trump From Office on Sunday,” New York, December 23, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/12/if-trump-uses-martial-law-pence-should-use-25th-amendment.html

Pamela Brown and Kevin Liptak, “Frustrated Trump met with Pence before holiday break,” CNN, December 24, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/24/politics/trump-pence-electoral-college/index.html


Pittsburgh

This is, I reckon, my fourth Christmas in Pittsburgh, including two from when my parents and I lived here when I was a child. I still go by my grandparents’ house on occasion and I remember celebrating Christmas there. These are fond memories that pull me toward Dormont—and that very specific part of Dormont—when I contemplate moving. I want to be near the sidewalks I walked so many times with my grandfather as we went to breakfast (he always ate breakfast and lunch out).

It’s been over a year and a half since I moved here and I see there is some truth to what one of my passengers told me, that “Pittsburgh grows on you like a fungus.” I wish I had more time to explore what it has to offer, but being still stuck driving for Uber and Lyft,[5] I have to work every day that I can.

And so it is that I’m about to head out on a white Christmas. The snow had melted, except where plows had piled it, from the last storm but supposedly several inches fell overnight. I’ll be working. Or at least trying to.

At least the navigation is a bit easier now. At least I have my music in my car.

It is a Christmas of feeling forsaken, of realizing that the number of real friends in my life has been vanishingly small. There are two I can count; one hosts my WordPress sites. Another just texted me a Christmas greeting; she lives in North Carolina. The rest have used me for their own purposes, abandoned me when I failed to serve those purposes, or I have had to abandon because their purposes were unethical.

If it’s been a little shy of two years since I moved back here, it is also a little shy of twenty since I had a real job. It is not a merry Christmas and it is even less so as I see people suffering or facing job losses from the pandemic, poverty, and homelessness.[6] It is completely the opposite from those Christmases at my grandparents’ house.


  1. [1]David Benfell, “We’ve let a horrible year go to waste,” Not Housebroken, December 10, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/10/weve-let-a-horrible-year-go-to-waste/
  2. [2]Pamela Brown and Kevin Liptak, “Frustrated Trump met with Pence before holiday break,” CNN, December 24, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/24/politics/trump-pence-electoral-college/index.html
  3. [3]Paul Campos, “Pence Should Remove Trump From Office on Sunday,” New York, December 23, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/12/if-trump-uses-martial-law-pence-should-use-25th-amendment.html
  4. [4]David Benfell, “Bloody November,” Not Housebroken, October 13, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/08/bloody-november/; David Benfell, “Donald Trump’s ‘brown shirts,’” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/30/donald-trumps-brown-shirts/; David Benfell, “The very scary way to four more years,” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/25/the-very-scary-way-to-four-more-years/; David Benfell, “When the legitimacy of the system itself is threatened,” Not Housebroken, October 31, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/10/31/when-the-legitimacy-of-the-system-itself-is-threatened/; David Benfell, “On the likely departure of Donald Trump,” Not Housebroken, December 11, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/08/on-the-likely-departure-of-donald-trump/; David Benfell, “Pure poison,” Not Housebroken, December 20, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/17/pure-poison/; David Benfell, “When it’s over but it isn’t,” Not Housebroken, December 21, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/27/when-its-over-but-it-isnt/
  5. [5]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  6. [6]David Benfell, “The modern Scrooge,” Not Housebroken, December 12, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/12/the-modern-scrooge/

Congress, I’m sure, wishes those facing poverty and homelessness a merry Christmas as it dithers on economic relief

Depression

Political and economic elite disdain for the poor and working class appears in 1) the paucity of and long delays in economic relief packages,[1] 2) a mishandling of the economy and of the pandemic that appears more malicious than incompetent,[2] and 3) the miserable pay offered front-line workers who have too often worked without adequate protection even as retail corporate profits have soared,[3] and while millions of others face homelessness[4] and poverty[5] due to job loss. It was all entirely foreseeable, indeed foreseen, but the capitalist god indeed demands human sacrifice[6] and our elites seem determined to offer it.[7]

In the latest development, the House of Representatives failed to pass by unanimous consent[8] an increase in direct payments to $2,000 that Donald Trump, of all people, demanded,[9] from the $600 that Congress had agreed[10] after months of delay.[11] It is, at the very least, more of the same.[12]

Molly Kinder and Laura Stateler, “Amazon and Walmart have raked in billions in additional profits during the pandemic, and shared almost none of it with their workers,” Brookings, December 22, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2020/12/22/amazon-and-walmart-have-raked-in-billions-in-additional-profits-during-the-pandemic-and-shared-almost-none-of-it-with-their-workers/

Suzanne Malveaux, Phil Mattingly, and Clare Foran, “House fails to pass measure to increase stimulus checks to $2,000,” CNN, December 24, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/24/politics/house-vote-stimulus-checks-government/index.html


  1. [1]David Benfell, “The mysterious expectation that elites give a damn,” Not Housebroken, December 22, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/01/the-mysterious-expectation-that-elites-give-a-damn/
  2. [2]David Benfell, “The modern Scrooge,” Not Housebroken, December 12, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/12/the-modern-scrooge/; David Benfell, “Imagine a malicious elite,” Not Housebroken, December 20, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/18/imagine-a-malicious-elite/
  3. [3]Molly Kinder and Laura Stateler, “Amazon and Walmart have raked in billions in additional profits during the pandemic, and shared almost none of it with their workers,” Brookings, December 22, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2020/12/22/amazon-and-walmart-have-raked-in-billions-in-additional-profits-during-the-pandemic-and-shared-almost-none-of-it-with-their-workers/; Molly Kinder, Laura Stateler, and Julia Du, “Windfall profits and deadly risks: How the biggest retail companies are compensating essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Brookings, November 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/essay/windfall-profits-and-deadly-risks/; Leila Miller, “Low-wage workers face retaliation for demanding COVID-19 safety measures at work,” Los Angeles Times, August 15, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-08-15/coronavirus-workers-retaliation-claims
  4. [4]Kriston Capps, “Landlords Challenge U.S. Eviction Ban and Continue to Oust Renters,” CityLab, October 22, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-22/landlords-launch-legal-attack-on-cdc-eviction-ban; Heather Long, “Millions of Americans are heading into the holidays unemployed and over $5,000 behind on rent,” Washington Post, December 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/07/unemployed-debt-rent-utilities/; Gretchen Morgenson, “Large corporate landlords have filed 10,000 eviction actions in five states since September,” NBC News, October 26, 2020, https://www.nbcnews.com/business/personal-finance/large-corporate-landlords-have-filed-10-000-eviction-actions-five-n1244711; Kyle Swenson, “Renters thought a CDC order protected them from eviction. Then landlords found loopholes,” Washington Post, October 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2020/10/27/trump-cdc-eviction-moratorium-loopholes/
  5. [5]Abha Bhattarai and Hannah Denham, “Stealing to survive: More Americans are shoplifting food as aid runs out during the pandemic,” Washington Post, December 10, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/10/pandemic-shoplifting-hunger/; Heather Long, “Nearly 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty since the summer,” Washington Post, December 16, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/16/poverty-rising/; Kyle Swenson, “Ten bucks left, no place to go: How the pandemic and a broken unemployment system are upending people’s lives,” Washington Post, August 1, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/coronavirus-unemployment-delays-dc/2020/08/01/50016264-c522-11ea-8ffe-372be8d82298_story.html
  6. [6]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/
  7. [7]David Benfell, “Imagine a malicious elite,” Not Housebroken, December 20, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/18/imagine-a-malicious-elite/
  8. [8]Suzanne Malveaux, Phil Mattingly, and Clare Foran, “House fails to pass measure to increase stimulus checks to $2,000,” CNN, December 24, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/24/politics/house-vote-stimulus-checks-government/index.html
  9. [9]Rebecca Ballhaus, “Trump Asks Congress to Amend Covid-19 Package, Boost Direct Payments,” Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-asks-congress-to-amend-covid-19-package-boost-direct-payments-11608684702
  10. [10]Jeff Stein, and Mike DeBonis, “Senate majority leader announces approximately $900 billion deal on emergency relief package,” Washington Post, December 20, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2020/12/20/stimulus-congress/
  11. [11]Paul Kane, “Congress deeply unpopular again as gridlock on coronavirus relief has real-life consequences,” Washington Post, August 1, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/congress-deeply-unpopular-again-as-gridlock-on-coronavirus-relief-has-real-life-consequences/2020/07/31/6d2f10c4-d36a-11ea-8c55-61e7fa5e82ab_story.html
  12. [12]David Benfell, “The mysterious expectation that elites give a damn,” Not Housebroken, December 22, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/01/the-mysterious-expectation-that-elites-give-a-damn/

Authoritarian populist secession talk (Update #4)

Updates

  1. Originally published, December 22, 2020, at 7:12 am.
  2. December 22, 2020, 4:09 pm:
    • Yesterday, I wrote,

      I would not take it as consolation that the crazy, such as Rudy Giuliani, in Donald Trump’s orbit are turning on the crazier, such as Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell. But if Trump appoints the conspiracy theorist Powell as special prosecutor to investigate election fraud,[1] take it as a sign that the crazier are prevailing. Trump is desperate,[2] so it just might happen (but probably not by outgoing Attorney General Bill Barr’s hand[3]), in which case, the prospect of an attempt to invoke the Insurrection Act might become very real.[4][5]

      We don’t have the level of confidence I was looking for there yet, but based on Jonathan Swan’s reporting, it sure looks like Donald Trump is tilting in favor of the crazier.[6] Richard Nixon was notorious for a Saturday Night Massacre, firing acting attorney general after attorney general to try to quash the Watergate investigation. Will it be a Christmas Eve massacre with Trump? Will it even take that long? And in the meantime, if indeed he’s pissing on all his erstwhile sycophants,[7] the same sycophants who previously made an invocation impossible, what about that 25th amendment?

  3. December 22, 2020, 8:57 pm:
    • For once, I agree with Donald Trump (actually, this has happened before, but it’s exceedingly rare). He doesn’t like[8] the COVID-19 relief measure agreed by Congress.[9] Not even one little bit. Too much, he says, has nothing to do with the pandemic and the checks are much too small. He wants $2,000.[10] But I’m also taking this as another sign that the craziers are prevailing over the merely crazy,[11] because this threatens to blow up a hard-won agreement that passed with overwhelming margins[12] (easily large enough, by the way, that so-called progressive congress members, you know, the ones who cover the neoliberals’ left flank, could vote against it without even the remotest fear of derailing its passage), at a time when it’s pretty clear that Trump’s stock with his own party is in decline.[13]
  4. December 23, 2020, 7:44 am:
    • I’m honestly not quite sure what all to make of Congressional Republican infighting over attempting to challenge the electoral college tallies and try to overturn the result. The thinking on one side seems to be that this is doomed, which it indeed almost certainly is, therefore they’ll look bad even trying.[14] But the failure to try further convinces Trumpsters that Republicans are not doing enough to “defend” Donald Trump, which, as I’ve previously noted, is a problem in the Georgia runoff.[15] The one thing that is clear is that not all Republicans, especially not in the Senate, are falling in line behind Trump, a reflection of a “lame duck” status that clearly stings our delusional raging narcissist-in-chief.[16]

Secession

Casey Michel argues that authoritarian populist talk of secession in the wake of Donald Trump’s defeat is really about seeking leverage to nullify or resist the policies of a federal government allegedly dominated by the Democrats.[17] As a practical matter, he’s likely right, but the historical precedent he cites culminated in the Civil War, which arguably failed to settle much of anything.[18]

Casey Michel, “What All the Secession Talk Really Means,” Politico, December 21, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/12/21/secession-donald-trump-449348


Donald Trump

Seung Min Kim, Josh Dawsey, and Toluse Olorunnipa, “Republicans plunge into open battle over attempts to overturn Trump’s loss to Biden,” Washington Post, December 22, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-republicans-election-fight/2020/12/22/fa0c2744-446b-11eb-b0e4-0f182923a025_story.html

Jonathan Swan, “Trump turns on everyone,” Axios, December 22, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-white-house-conspiracy-theories-d95450a4-c7a3-4579-a568-0473b18529c9.html


  1. [1]Jonathan Chait, “Trump Floats Coup Plan That’s So Wild Even Rudy Giuliani Is Terrified,” New York, December 19, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/12/trump-coup-sidney-powell-martial-law-michael-flynn-meltdown.html
  2. [2]Michael Kruse, “Is Trump Cracking Under the Weight of Losing?” Politico, December 20, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/12/20/trump-white-house-losing-448903
  3. [3]Matt Zapotosky, “Undercutting Trump, Barr says there’s no basis for seizing voting machines, using special counsels for election fraud, Hunter Biden,” Washington Post, December 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/barr-trump-special-counsel-voter-fraud-hunter-biden/2020/12/21/4d85f060-439c-11eb-b0e4-0f182923a025_story.html
  4. [4]Tina Nguyen, “MAGA leaders call for the troops to keep Trump in office,” Politico, December 18, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/18/trump-insurrection-act-presidency-447986; Felicia Sonmez et al., “A frustrated Trump redoubles efforts to challenge election result,” Washington Post, December 20, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/tuberville-electoral-challenge-trump-conversation/2020/12/20/1658573e-42db-11eb-b0e4-0f182923a025_story.html; Felicia Sonmez et al., “A frustrated Trump redoubles efforts to challenge election result,” Washington Post, December 20, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/tuberville-electoral-challenge-trump-conversation/2020/12/20/1658573e-42db-11eb-b0e4-0f182923a025_story.html
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Look out below! It’s a pigeon, not a partridge, in a pear tree,” Irregular Bullshit, December 21, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/12/20/look-out-below-its-a-pigeon-not-a-partridge-in-a-pear-tree/
  6. [6]Jonathan Swan, “Trump turns on everyone,” Axios, December 22, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-white-house-conspiracy-theories-d95450a4-c7a3-4579-a568-0473b18529c9.html
  7. [7]Jonathan Swan, “Trump turns on everyone,” Axios, December 22, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-white-house-conspiracy-theories-d95450a4-c7a3-4579-a568-0473b18529c9.html
  8. [8]Rebecca Ballhaus, “Trump Asks Congress to Amend Covid-19 Package, Boost Direct Payments,” Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-asks-congress-to-amend-covid-19-package-boost-direct-payments-11608684702
  9. [9]Jeff Stein, and Mike DeBonis, “Senate majority leader announces approximately $900 billion deal on emergency relief package,” Washington Post, December 20, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2020/12/20/stimulus-congress/
  10. [10]Rebecca Ballhaus, “Trump Asks Congress to Amend Covid-19 Package, Boost Direct Payments,” Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-asks-congress-to-amend-covid-19-package-boost-direct-payments-11608684702
  11. [11]Jonathan Chait, “Trump Floats Coup Plan That’s So Wild Even Rudy Giuliani Is Terrified,” New York, December 19, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/12/trump-coup-sidney-powell-martial-law-michael-flynn-meltdown.html; Jonathan Swan, “Trump turns on everyone,” Axios, December 22, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-white-house-conspiracy-theories-d95450a4-c7a3-4579-a568-0473b18529c9.html
  12. [12]Rebecca Ballhaus, “Trump Asks Congress to Amend Covid-19 Package, Boost Direct Payments,” Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-asks-congress-to-amend-covid-19-package-boost-direct-payments-11608684702
  13. [13]Jonathan Chait, “Trump Floats Coup Plan That’s So Wild Even Rudy Giuliani Is Terrified,” New York, December 19, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/12/trump-coup-sidney-powell-martial-law-michael-flynn-meltdown.html; David Charter, “Trump announces law chief Bill Barr has quit as electoral college backs Joe Biden,” Times, December 15, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/trump-announces-law-chief-bill-barr-has-quit-as-electoral-college-backs-joe-biden-wnzzxkczt; Marianne Levine and Melanie Zanona, “McConnell warns Senate Republicans against challenging election results,” Politico, December 15, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/15/mcconnell-gop-election-results-445524; Jonathan Swan, “Trump turns on everyone,” Axios, December 22, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-white-house-conspiracy-theories-d95450a4-c7a3-4579-a568-0473b18529c9.html; Matt Zapotosky, “Undercutting Trump, Barr says there’s no basis for seizing voting machines, using special counsels for election fraud, Hunter Biden,” Washington Post, December 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/barr-trump-special-counsel-voter-fraud-hunter-biden/2020/12/21/4d85f060-439c-11eb-b0e4-0f182923a025_story.html
  14. [14]Seung Min Kim, Josh Dawsey, and Toluse Olorunnipa, “Republicans plunge into open battle over attempts to overturn Trump’s loss to Biden,” Washington Post, December 22, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-republicans-election-fight/2020/12/22/fa0c2744-446b-11eb-b0e4-0f182923a025_story.html
  15. [15]David Benfell, “The curious logic of Mitch McConnell,” Irregular Bullshit, December 18, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/12/16/the-curious-logic-of-mitch-mcconnell/; Greg Sargent, “Georgia Republicans beg Trump to release them from his prison of lies,” Washington Post, December 1, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/12/01/georgia-republicans-beg-trump-release-them-his-prison-lies/; Christina Zhao, “Pro-Trump Rally Chants ‘Destroy the GOP,’ Boos Georgia ‘RINOs,’” Loeffler and Perdue,” Newsweek, December 12, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/pro-trump-rally-chants-destroy-gop-boos-georgia-rinos-loeffler-perdue-1554354
  16. [16]Seung Min Kim, Josh Dawsey, and Toluse Olorunnipa, “Republicans plunge into open battle over attempts to overturn Trump’s loss to Biden,” Washington Post, December 22, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-republicans-election-fight/2020/12/22/fa0c2744-446b-11eb-b0e4-0f182923a025_story.html; Jonathan Swan, “Trump turns on everyone,” Axios, December 22, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-white-house-conspiracy-theories-d95450a4-c7a3-4579-a568-0473b18529c9.html
  17. [17]Casey Michel, “What All the Secession Talk Really Means,” Politico, December 21, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/12/21/secession-donald-trump-449348
  18. [18]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/; Stephan Richter, “Shutdown shows the Civil War never ended,” Salon, October 8, 2013, https://www.salon.com/2013/10/07/shutdown_shows_the_civil_war_never_ended_partner/; Robin Wright, “Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War?” New Yorker, August 14, 2017, https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/is-america-headed-for-a-new-kind-of-civil-war

Look out below! It’s a pigeon, not a partridge, in a pear tree (update #4)

Updates

  1. Originally published, December 20, 2020, at 10:44 pm.
  2. December 21, 2020, 7:34 am:
    • It is much too early to be certain of much, but a new variant of COVID-19 has appeared in England that seems to be significantly more transmissable and that the new vaccines might not be effective against. It does not appear to be more deadly for those who catch it,[1] but of course, the more people who catch COVID-19, the more will die. Accordingly, a number of countries are now blocking travel from the United Kingdom.[2]
    • Donald Trump is still at it, moving to sue again over Pennsylvania’s election rules—the Supreme Court has so far refused to hear the matter—and to challenge the electoral college tally in Congress. Still on the table is an effort to invoke the Insurrection Act to have the military re-run the election in contested states although several senior military officials affirmed that their oath is to the Constitution, not the president, and that they have no role in determining election results.[3] There is a weakness in the claim about that oath in that hardline Trumpsters continue to allege that the election has violated the Constitution even as these claims have gotten nowhere in court[4] and even Trump’s attorney general has denied that there was sufficient fraud to affect the result.[5] That doesn’t obviously provide a rationale for the military to legally intervene but I guess it’s enough to keep Trumpsters’ hope alive. And yesterday’s caution[6] remains.
  3. December 21, 2020, 12:55 pm:
  4. December 21, 2020, 9:51 pm:
    • I would not take it as consolation that the crazy, such as Rudy Giuliani, in Donald Trump’s orbit are turning on the crazier, such as Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell. But if Trump appoints the conspiracy theorist Powell as special prosecutor to investigate election fraud,[8] take it as a sign that the crazier are prevailing. Trump is desperate,[9] so it just might happen (but probably not by outgoing Attorney General Bill Barr’s hand[10]), in which case, the prospect of an attempt to invoke the Insurrection Act might become very real.[11]

Gig economy

Steven Hill, “The broken business model of Uber and Lyft is taking a heavy toll on society,” Fortune, December 19, 2020, https://fortune.com/2020/12/19/uber-lyft-business-model-proposition-22-worker-benefits/


Depression

Congressional leaders announced a new stimulus package which is supposed to help relieve economic pain from the pandemic. Stimulus checks will be for up to $600.[12] The eviction moratorium that isn’t an eviction moratorium[13] will be extended through the end of January, though Joe Biden may be able to extend it further.[14] Millions of people, who have been unemployed for months, are an average of over $5,000 behind on rent,[15] and millions have sunk into poverty.[16] So it’s hard to see what good, really, $600 will do.

Jeff Stein, and Mike DeBonis, “Senate majority leader announces approximately $900 billion deal on emergency relief package,” Washington Post, December 20, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2020/12/20/stimulus-congress/


Pandemic

Natalie Grover, “What do we know about the fast-spreading Covid variant in UK?” Guardian, December 20, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/dec/20/fast-spreading-covid-variant-in-england-uk

Jon Henley et al., “EU to hold crisis talks as countries block travel from UK over new Covid strain,” Guardian, December 20, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/dec/20/belgium-italy-and-netherlands-ban-flights-from-uk-over-new-covid-strain


Donald Trump

Jonathan Chait, “Trump Floats Coup Plan That’s So Wild Even Rudy Giuliani Is Terrified,” New York, December 19, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/12/trump-coup-sidney-powell-martial-law-michael-flynn-meltdown.html

Michael Kruse, “Is Trump Cracking Under the Weight of Losing?” Politico, December 20, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/12/20/trump-white-house-losing-448903

Matt Zapotosky, “Undercutting Trump, Barr says there’s no basis for seizing voting machines, using special counsels for election fraud, Hunter Biden,” Washington Post, December 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/barr-trump-special-counsel-voter-fraud-hunter-biden/2020/12/21/4d85f060-439c-11eb-b0e4-0f182923a025_story.html


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  10. [10]Matt Zapotosky, “Undercutting Trump, Barr says there’s no basis for seizing voting machines, using special counsels for election fraud, Hunter Biden,” Washington Post, December 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/barr-trump-special-counsel-voter-fraud-hunter-biden/2020/12/21/4d85f060-439c-11eb-b0e4-0f182923a025_story.html
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