Are Trumpsters tiring of the flak? (Update #11)

Updates

  1. Originally published, February 28, 2021, 5:15 am.

  2. February 28, 2021, 11:32 am:

    • I guess the question for me is, just how representative of the larger party are Pennsylvania Republicans? Right now, my sense is that they pretty much are, as they consider censuring Pat Toomey, a U.S. Senator who broke with most other Republicans to support Donald Trump’s impeachment. The vote to censure Toomey was put on hold due to technical problems, but if I’m reading between the lines correctly—and certainly my sense of the state as a whole would indicate as much—the motion will surely pass.[24]

  3. March 1, 2021, 10:44 pm:

    • So if I understand correctly, neo-Nazis designed the Conservative Political Action Conference stage in the form of a symbol used on Gestapo uniforms, then called recognition of the design as such a “conspiracy theory.”[25]

      Has anyone else noticed the shape of the CPAC stage is the Odal Rune/SS insignia? pic.twitter.com/TCns4B1tq8

      — The Daily Beans Podcast (@dailybeanspod) February 26, 2021

      Now, is that rich or is that rich? I’d call this, at the very minimum, a public relations problem, and the Hyatt Hotel that hosted the conference quickly denounced the use of the symbol,[26] suggesting that they recognize a public relations problem.

      But Matt Schlapp, chair of the American Conservative Union, which runs CPAC, called the idea that the stage was purposely shaped like the Odal rune a “conspiracy theory.”

      “Stage design conspiracies are outrageous and slanderous,” he tweeted Saturday.[27]

      So what were all those Nazi symbols doing at the U.S. Capitol coup attempt then?[28] You know, the ones being carried by all those ‘patriots’ determined to ‘save’ the country?

  4. March 2, 2021, 12:20 am:

    • I’ve been distressed by my job prospects not only for what really are pretty obvious reasons, but because I perceive that I am destroying perfectly good cars.

      It turns out I am also destroying perfectly good cell phones. I’ve noticed a number of behaviors lately with my Pixel 4 XL, but especially aggravating was a sound problem that made music playing on my car’s sound system sound like a boom box from hell. I trying to compensate way more with the equalizer than I feel I should, those adjustments still weren’t enough, and it was ruining the experience.

      Of course, the trouble with something like this is you don’t know if it’s the phone, media players on the phone, or the car’s sound system.

      So I tried a different media player: Same result.

      I dredged out my old Pixel 3 XL that was actually a warranty replacement that I hadn’t ever actually used (it doesn’t support dual SIM-dual standby [DSDS]) and tried it. Strikingly different result: The sound is less rich but also, there’s none of that horrid booming.

      Which means that it isn’t the car’s sound system that’s misbehaving, but my Pixel 4 XL. Yeah, I’ve got a new phone, a Pixel 5, on order. It’s really a bad time of year for this sort of thing, but the Pixel 5 is relatively inexpensive, and I’ll get relatively high trade-in value for the Pixel 4 XL. And I have a Google Store credit card which I really can’t use for much else.

      The Pixel 5 supports 5G but this won’t do me any good because it doesn’t simultaneously support 5G and DSDS.

      Driving for Uber and Lyft is proving to be a really expensive way to not make a living.

  5. March 2, 2021, 10:31 pm:

    • The White House has withdrawn[29] Neera Tanden’s long-troubled—seriously, if you weren’t a neoliberal, you likely hated her—nomination to chair the Office of Management and Budget.[30]

  6. March 3, 2021, 10:41 am:

    • I’m thinking I might be replacing my Pixel 4 XL not a minute too soon. I’ve put the Pixel 3 XL back in the drawer but I noticed some notifications appeared much more promptly on it, with a difference measured in hours. My delivery tracking app on the Pixel 4 XL is now not working, which might be an app failure, or might be a phone failure.

      I found a relatively detailed comparison of the Pixel 4 XL to a Pixel 5. As I thought, it’s not really an upgrade; I win some ways and lose in others with the new phone. Crucial details include a lower grade processor and a smaller display on the Pixel 5. It has longer battery life,[31] but this isn’t really a factor for me because the phone is plugged in the entire time it’s connected with Android Auto. I had really hoped to hold on for the Pixel 6 and this is the problem: The last few phone upgrades have been decisions that have been forced upon me by various failures, ranging from swollen batteries to klutzy—and for me, dangerous—user interfaces (this was the iPhone) to what I’m seeing with the Pixel 4 XL. It’s bad enough to be making next to nothing. But between the car and my phone, my expenses are out of control.

      The Pixel 5 should arrive today.

      I’m trying to take steps to reduce the load on my phone, but this entails yet more expense as I’m adding a WiFi hotspot to the car, which I’m also making available to my passengers, hopefully to improve their satisfaction with my service and mitigate their complaints about my music. More speculatively, I’ll also be experimenting with a dongle substitute for Android Auto when it arrives. The theory really is that if I’m not working the phone so hard, perhaps it will last a bit longer.

      But the question still really is, why can’t I have a real job?

    • There are a couple stories that, if I weren’t already posting an update, I wouldn’t bother mentioning because there really isn’t anything new. They’re significant in that they flesh out what was already known:

      • Questions remain about Uber’s business model.[32] Gee. Ya think?

      • Apparently a membership list of the Three Percenters, a militia group, leaked. Utterly unsurprisingly, it includes military and police.[33]

    • I’ve archived these stories, but really, there’s absolutely nothing surprising about either of them.

  7. March 3, 2021, 9:25 pm:

    • The Pixel 5 arrived and I’ve been spending most of the late afternoon and evening setting it up. That includes moving the numbers from the old phone to the new phone. With Verizon, it’s a pretty simple matter to simply pull the subscriber identity module (SIM) card from one device and stick it in the other. AT&T, for which I have to use an electronic SIM (e-SIM), is another matter.

      My mother will tell you she won’t deal with AT&T because of their customer service. My luck had been pretty good and their cellular coverage really is, by far, the best in terms of area. That’s important when you spend as much time on the road as I do.

      But today was my day to have my mom’s experience with AT&T’s customer service. My god. It was unbelievably awful. They’re really hopeless. I might write about it, but definitely not tonight. And maybe not ever because this was not an experience worth reliving.

      I am no longer an AT&T customer. I ported the number over to Google Fi. Also I now use the Verizon number with Signal instead of what was the AT&T number. See my revised contact information.

  8. March 4, 2021, 1:28 pm:

    • Even as Texas and Mississippi eliminate COVID-19 mitigation measures, and some other states relax those measures, the danger of a fourth wave of COVID-19, just as more contagious, vaccine-resistant, and, potentially, more dangerous variants appear, is unabated.[34]

    • So I did, after all, tell the story of my horrid AT&T experience (see the update for March 3, 2021, at 9:25 pm) in a new blog post entitled, “On the alleged ‘efficiency’ of capitalism.”

    • I am now scheduled to receive the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine tomorrow. It might be the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. I qualify because I am clinically (not morbidly) obese. That I am a so-called “essential worker” facing daily exposure to passengers who don’t all wear their masks correctly has nothing to do with it.

  9. March 4, 2021, 10:33 pm:

    • Louis DeJoy is still postmaster-general, still doing damage. And Joe Biden is, at best, dithering.[35]

  10. March 5, 2021, 11:08 am:

    • I guess the answer to the question in the headline for this post is a pretty clear and pretty loud “NO!” Governors rolling back COVID-19 mitigation measures are doing so in response to political pressure, largely from Trumpsters still in denial of the severity of the disease.[36] It’s an obviously dangerous move as it will likely prolong the pandemic and multiply the opportunities for new variants to arise, some of which may be more dangerous, and some of which are already more resistant to vaccines.[37] I get my first shot today. I hope it isn’t in vain.

  11. March 6, 2021, 8:55 am:

    • I got the first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine yesterday. It was the Pfizer vaccine and I go back in three weeks for the second shot.

      The scene was of long lines that moved surprisingly quickly. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) really, really did have its act together, which was nice to see on a cold day as the line stretched outdoors. It was an assembly line operation, but matching my experience with doctors in Pittsburgh generally, it didn’t seem the least bit dehumanizing. They had people at all the right places to make sure I didn’t get lost. There was no duplicated effort. Everybody was friendly.

      I’m pretty clear at this point that my mother won’t move to Pittsburgh, but the difference between my California experience with medical practice and my Pittsburgh experience is vast. On that score, I really do believe she really would be better off here.

      In my case, the side effects have been modest, mostly a bit of achiness and a bit of numbness, the latter a bit like my arm had, colloquially, “gone to sleep.” It’s really just barely enough that I think it wasn’t psychosomatic. This morning, the pain is mostly gone.

    • One thing I learned is that your face mask is supposed to cover your nose all the way up to the bridge and down below your chin. It happens the mask that came up in my rotation today is the second one my mother made for me; it’s the one that covers the most area, so I wasn’t subject to admonishment. But I don’t think all of my masks quite meet that standard. And of course, I’ll have to continue wearing masks even once I’ve received the second shot.

    • One reason, as I mentioned earlier (see March 5, 11:08 am), to worry about the pandemic, even as vaccines become more widely available, is that some politicians are relaxing restrictions even as new, more contagious, and potentially more dangerous variants of the coronavirus begin to appear.[38] This is an asshole move. Another problem is with vaccine resistance: An awful lot of people intend to refuse vaccination.[39] I think I’ve previously said that the coronavirus is illustrating how humans will go extinct. Between this and refusing to wear masks, I think we’re seeing that ever more vividly.

      The Kaiser Family Foundation has been polling public opinion on [vaccine resistance] regularly, and as of February 26th the foundation found that fifty-five per cent of American adults had already taken the vaccine or wanted it as soon as possible; the rest were about evenly divided between those who say that they will definitely not get a shot and those who plan to “wait and see.” Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said that close to ninety per cent of the country may need to be vaccinated to snuff out the disease, which means tens of millions of people still need to be convinced.[40]

      Given the politicization of the disease and everything associated with it, it will be absolutely astonishing if we get anywhere close to that 90 percent vaccination rate. But the surprising bit is that the problem isn’t just with Trumpsters and misinformation.[41]


Elon Musk

Elon Musk’s bizarre fixation on colonizing Mars continues,[42] as does the criticism.[43] Really, he’s just another entitled rich man.[44]

Shannon Stirone, “Mars Is a Hellhole,” Atlantic, February 26, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/02/mars-is-no-earth/618133/


Donald Trump

At the Times (of London), Sarah Baxter thinks Donald Trump’s moment may have passed, even as Trumpsters go wild at the Conservative Political Action Conference. She has bad news for his offspring as well.[45]


Fig. 1. Reproduction of poster, via Relational Implicit, “Understanding social myth: Why it’s so hard to find common ground & how to do it,” September 2020, fair use.

I still see a few Trump campaign banners, even the occasional flag, around southwestern Pennsylvania. And that image of Trump’s fat head of grievance—Trumpsters apparently interpret his expression as that of determination and toughness—grafted on Sylvester Stallone’s body, portraying him as Rambo (figure 1), sears my memory. It’s not like these folks would vote against him or his kin. But Baxter thinks it’s that Trump lost control of the White House and the Senate and that even Trumpsters are tiring of the flak.[46]

Sarah Baxter, “Bad news for Donald Trump Jr: the right is fast tiring of Trumps,” Times, February 28, 2021, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/bad-news-for-donald-trump-jr-the-right-is-fast-tiring-of-trumps-msm9phdcz

Deb Erdley, “Toomey censure remains on hold with Pennsylvania Republicans,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 27, 2021, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/toomey-censure-remains-on-hold-with-pennsylvania-republicans/


Gig economy

Matthew Beedham, “Uber: Is this the beginning of the end for the ride-hailing Goliath?” Next Web, March 2, 2021, https://thenextweb.com/shift/2021/03/02/uber-is-this-the-beginning-of-the-end-for-the-ride-hailing-goliath/


Pandemic

Sam Baker, “The danger of a fourth wave,” Axios, March 4, 2021, https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-variants-vaccines-cases-texas-60d39747-de46-4bb7-bf51-e241c495953a.html

Isaac Stanley-Becker, “GOP governors scorn pandemic restrictions as they compete for primacy in a pro-Trump party,” Washington Post, March 5, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/texas-mask-mandate-abbott/2021/03/04/ceec92bc-7d12-11eb-b3d1-9e5aa3d5220c_story.html

Benjamin Wallace-Wells, “The Vaccine Resisters,” New Yorker, March 5, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/annals-of-populism/the-vaccine-resisters


Postal Service

Casey Taylor, “Louis DeJoy Is Killing It,” New York, March 4, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/03/louis-dejoy-is-killing-it.html


  1. [24]Deb Erdley, “Toomey censure remains on hold with Pennsylvania Republicans,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 27, 2021, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/toomey-censure-remains-on-hold-with-pennsylvania-republicans/
  2. [25]Ben Sales, “CPAC denies its stage was a Nazi symbol, as host hotel calls the symbol ‘abhorrent,’” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, https://www.jta.org/quick-reads/cpac-denies-its-stage-was-a-nazi-symbol-as-host-hotel-calls-the-symbol-abhorrent
  3. [26]Ben Sales, “CPAC denies its stage was a Nazi symbol, as host hotel calls the symbol ‘abhorrent,’” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, https://www.jta.org/quick-reads/cpac-denies-its-stage-was-a-nazi-symbol-as-host-hotel-calls-the-symbol-abhorrent
  4. [27]Ben Sales, “CPAC denies its stage was a Nazi symbol, as host hotel calls the symbol ‘abhorrent,’” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, https://www.jta.org/quick-reads/cpac-denies-its-stage-was-a-nazi-symbol-as-host-hotel-calls-the-symbol-abhorrent
  5. [28]Laura E. Adkins and Emily Burack, “Neo-Nazis, QAnon and Camp Auschwitz: A guide to the hate symbols and signs on display at the Capitol riots,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 7, 2021, https://www.jta.org/2021/01/07/united-states/hate-on-display-your-guide-to-the-symbols-and-signs-on-display-at-the-stop-the-count-insurrection; Anne Quito and Amanda Shendruk, “Decoding the flags and banners seen at the Capitol Hill insurrection,” Quartz, January 7, 2021, https://qz.com/1953366/decoding-the-pro-trump-insurrectionist-flags-and-banners/
  6. [29]Felicia Sonmez et al., “White House withdraws Tanden nomination; Biden says U.S. will have enough vaccine doses for every adult by end of May,” Washington Post, March 2, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/03/02/joe-biden-live-updates/
  7. [30]Jake Johnson, “Progressives Spurn Tanden’s Nomination to Office of Management and Budget,” Truthout, November 30, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/progressives-spurn-tandens-nomination-to-office-of-management-and-budget/; Marianne Levine and Burgess Everett, “Collins and Romney to oppose Tanden for OMB, further jeopardizing her nomination,” Politico, February 22, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/22/collins-oppose-tanden-jeopardize-nomination-470801; Holly Otterbein, “Bernieworld seethes over Tanden as OMB nominee,” Politico, November 30, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/30/bernie-supporters-seethes-neera-tanden-441603; Tyler Pager, “The jockeying to replace Neera Tanden has begun,” Politico, February 20, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/20/neera-tanden-omb-replacement-470424; Jeff Stein, Annie Linskey, and Seung Min Kim, “Biden’s pick to lead White House budget office emerges as lightning rod for GOP,” Washington Post, November 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2020/11/30/biden-omb-neera-tanden/
  8. [31]Simon Chandler, “Google Pixel 5 vs. Pixel 4 XL: Should you upgrade?” Digital Trends, October 27, 2021, https://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/google-pixel-5-vs-pixel-4-xl/
  9. [32]Matthew Beedham, “Uber: Is this the beginning of the end for the ride-hailing Goliath?” Next Web, March 2, 2021, https://thenextweb.com/shift/2021/03/02/uber-is-this-the-beginning-of-the-end-for-the-ride-hailing-goliath/
  10. [33]Jason Wilson, “US militia group draws members from military and police, website leak shows,” Guardian, March 3, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/mar/03/us-militia-membership-military-police-american-patriot-three-percenter-website-leak
  11. [34]Sam Baker, “The danger of a fourth wave,” Axios, March 4, 2021, https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-variants-vaccines-cases-texas-60d39747-de46-4bb7-bf51-e241c495953a.html; Melissa Healy, “California’s coronavirus strain looks increasingly dangerous: ‘The devil is already here,’” Los Angeles Times, February 23, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2021-02-23/california-homegrown-coronavirus-strain-looks-increasingly-transmissible-and-dangerous
  12. [35]Casey Taylor, “Louis DeJoy Is Killing It,” New York, March 4, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/03/louis-dejoy-is-killing-it.html
  13. [36]Isaac Stanley-Becker, “GOP governors scorn pandemic restrictions as they compete for primacy in a pro-Trump party,” Washington Post, March 5, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/texas-mask-mandate-abbott/2021/03/04/ceec92bc-7d12-11eb-b3d1-9e5aa3d5220c_story.html
  14. [37]Sam Baker, “The danger of a fourth wave,” Axios, March 4, 2021, https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-variants-vaccines-cases-texas-60d39747-de46-4bb7-bf51-e241c495953a.html; Melissa Healy, “California’s coronavirus strain looks increasingly dangerous: ‘The devil is already here,’” Los Angeles Times, February 23, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2021-02-23/california-homegrown-coronavirus-strain-looks-increasingly-transmissible-and-dangerous
  15. [38]Isaac Stanley-Becker, “GOP governors scorn pandemic restrictions as they compete for primacy in a pro-Trump party,” Washington Post, March 5, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/texas-mask-mandate-abbott/2021/03/04/ceec92bc-7d12-11eb-b3d1-9e5aa3d5220c_story.html
  16. [39]Benjamin Wallace-Wells, “The Vaccine Resisters,” New Yorker, March 5, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/annals-of-populism/the-vaccine-resisters
  17. [40]Benjamin Wallace-Wells, “The Vaccine Resisters,” New Yorker, March 5, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/annals-of-populism/the-vaccine-resisters
  18. [41]Benjamin Wallace-Wells, “The Vaccine Resisters,” New Yorker, March 5, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/annals-of-populism/the-vaccine-resisters
  19. [42]Tristan Greene, “Here’s the stupid reason Elon Musk wants to nuke Mars,” Next Web, August 16, 2019, https://thenextweb.com/distract/2019/08/16/heres-the-stupid-reason-elon-musk-wants-to-nuke-mars/; Rafi Letzter, “Why NASA’s Annoyed About Elon Musk’s Giant Rocket,” Live Science, October 5, 2019, https://www.livescience.com/starship-crew-dragon-spacex-nasa-bridenstine.html
  20. [43]Samantha Rolfe, “Elon Musk’s Starship may be more moral catastrophe than bold step in space exploration,” Science X, October 2, 2019, https://phys.org/news/2019-10-elon-musk-starship-moral-catastrophe.html; Shannon Stirone, “Mars Is a Hellhole,” Atlantic, February 26, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/02/mars-is-no-earth/618133/
  21. [44]David Benfell, “Elon Musk, groan, again,” Not Housebroken, April 4, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/03/22/elon-musk-groan-again/
  22. [45]Sarah Baxter, “Bad news for Donald Trump Jr: the right is fast tiring of Trumps,” Times, February 28, 2021, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/bad-news-for-donald-trump-jr-the-right-is-fast-tiring-of-trumps-msm9phdcz
  23. [46]Sarah Baxter, “Bad news for Donald Trump Jr: the right is fast tiring of Trumps,” Times, February 28, 2021, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/bad-news-for-donald-trump-jr-the-right-is-fast-tiring-of-trumps-msm9phdcz

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