Vaccine passports after all? (update #8)

Updates

  1. Originally published, May 29, 2021, 8:11 am.

  2. May 29, 2021, 12:15 pm:

    • Thanks, Mom! My mother is advancing my planned down payment. I have ordered the car. I’m hoping to have it at the end of June.

      As the salesperson explained it, this is a car that was already destined for the dealership. They will now ask for modifications for my specific packages—I’ve tried to order intelligently so I won’t regret not getting an option I might reasonably need down the road—and if Toyota goes along with this request, we’re on for the end of June. Otherwise, it will take longer.

  3. May 30, 2021, 12:48 pm:

  4. May 30, 2021, 9:59 pm:

    • What may be the saddest thing about progressives getting co-opted by mainstream Democrats is when they bend over backwards to try to rationalize being co-opted:

  5. May 31, 2021, 10:43 am:

    • So I’m still sitting here at home:

    • May 31, 2021, 2:13 pm:

    • May 31, 2021, 7:31 pm:

      • This gets pretty deep into the science of viruses, certainly deeper than I fully understand, but Salon has an interview with a virologist about the “lab leak” theory of the novel coronavirus that Joe Biden has ordered the U.S. intelligence community to review. If I understand correctly, the reason for suspecting a “lab leak” is that the intermediate species that would have passed the virus on to humans has not been identified. Apparently that’s unusual, but otherwise, the evidence really doesn’t support either the “lab leak” or natural transmission hypothesis. The bottom line? They don’t fucking know.[1]

        The U.S. intelligence community would not be my first choice for investigating this. I think Biden must either not really expect them to find anything or hope that they’ll be able to find communications that point the needle one way or the other. If it’s the latter, we likely still won’t know because supporting evidence will be guarded to protect their methods. As always, evidence you can’t see is no evidence at all, which makes this exercise problematic at best.

    • May 31, 10:09 pm:

      • I’m a little unclear on the timing of this and I haven’t seen this elsewhere:

        source on threadreaderapp.com

        Archived at 2021-05-31 21:49:04

        Thread Reader

        Lina Hidalgo Profile picture

        Lina Hidalgo

        Follow @LinaHidalgoTX

        31 May, 4 tweets, 1 min read

        Bookmark Save as PDF My Authors

        Texas House Democrats have killed SB7, the most suppressive voter suppression bill in the nation. The midnight deadline is 30min away and all together they have walked out and broken quorum—a remarkable, difficult action & the only one that would have kept this bill from passing

        What these courageous TX legislators is almost impossible to pull off. It means every person was on the same page. It’s unity. Their ability to kill the bill tonight shows unity is what it’ll take to protect voting rights and protect democracy. Hope US Senators are listening.

        The fight continues. Those who’ve been pandering, pretending that there was massive voter fraud, are in too deep now. They’ll likely try to create a special TX legislative session later this summer to continue the pandering.

        The bill the far right was pushing in Texas was making it easier to overturn elections. It was banning voting before 1pm on Sundays so Black church-goers couldn’t go vote right after church, and more. Enough. Celebrate today. Tomorrow, continue the fight.

        I assume that if this is true, it means the deadline was midnight this morning, not midnight tonight, on a holiday. But then I would have expected to see something. So I don’t know.

        On the other hand, Lina Hidalgo has Twitter’s blue check, meaning her identity has been verified. She identifies herself on the site as a Harris County judge.


Pandemic

“‘The government is not now, nor will we be, supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential,’ the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said last month,” but now “[t]he Biden administration is taking ‘a very close look’ at the possibility of vaccine passports for travel into and out of the United States, the homeland security secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, said on Friday [May 28, 2021].[2] In fact, it appears there was a bit of wriggle room:

President Biden in January did sign an executive order directing federal agencies to see how feasible it would be to connect COVID-19 vaccines to vaccine cards. 

“Consistent with applicable law, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of HHS, and the Secretary of Homeland Security (including through the Administrator of the TSA), in coordination with any relevant international organizations, shall assess the feasibility of linking COVID-19 vaccination to International Certificates of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP) and producing electronic versions of ICVPs,” the executive order reads in the Federal Register.[3]

Mayorkas’ statement appears consistent[4] with that order.[5]

I’m trying to think how this would likely work, and I assume that like a regular passport, a vaccine passport would have to be obtainable even if international travel is not imminently planned. Which would mean that, presumably, everyone who has been vaccinated could get one. And once they exist, barring actual laws preventing their use, it would be hard to prevent establishments that choose to verify vaccination status from requiring them. Despite Psaki’s assurance,[6] some states have indeed enacted restrictions, but most such bans seem to apply only to state and local governments, not businesses.[7]

Alexandra Villarreal, “US taking ‘very close look’ at vaccine passports for international travel,” Guardian, May 28, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/may/28/homeland-security-biden-alejandro-mayorkas

Matthew Rozsa, “A virologist unpacks the lab leak hypothesis,” Salon, May 29, 2021, https://www.salon.com/2021/05/29/a-virologist-unpacks-the-lab-leak-hypothesis/


Boris Johnson

James Martin, [Twitter thread], Thread Reader App, May 30, 2021, https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1398997771609325568.html

Lizzie Roberts and Hayley Dixon, “Catholics question how twice-divorced Boris was allowed to marry Carrie Symonds in church,” Telegraph, May 30, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/05/30/boris-johnson-carrie-symonds-catholic-church-wedding-married/


The car

Yesterday, the “Check VSC System” indication came back on. And the brake warning light.

The brakes have been acting strangely, in ways I don’t really know how to describe, but seemingly not unsafely. That I didn’t know how to describe what I was experiencing made it difficult to decide how to approach a mechanic about the problem.

I could see myself trying to explain that the brakes were making a squawking noise when I had my foot heavily on the brakes. Or that there was a weird tapping feel as I came to a stop. I’ve tried similar sorts of descriptions before. They don’t go over well.

In California, I had an actual hybrid mechanic. Whatever it was, I could just take it to him. Here in Pittsburgh, the only hybrid mechanics are new car dealers. So I wasn’t even sure whether I should take it to my regular mechanic or to the dealer.

But now the “Check VSC System” indication is on. So I have an appointment for the dealer to look at it on Wednesday. I still have the car, but won’t be driving it much in the meantime, and certainly not for Uber or Lyft. This is downtime I can’t afford.

Right now, I’m thinking I can’t get the RAV4 XLE Premium Hybrid AWD I’ve been planning to order later this year soon enough. But I don’t have the down payment money yet and even once I place the order, it will probably take six weeks to get the vehicle, which would be even more downtime that I can’t afford right now.


  1. [1]Matthew Rozsa, “A virologist unpacks the lab leak hypothesis,” Salon, May 29, 2021, https://www.salon.com/2021/05/29/a-virologist-unpacks-the-lab-leak-hypothesis/
  2. [2]Alexandra Villarreal, “US taking ‘very close look’ at vaccine passports for international travel,” Guardian, May 28, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/may/28/homeland-security-biden-alejandro-mayorkas
  3. [3]Kathryn Watson, “White House leaves vaccine ‘passports’ to private sector,” CBS News, March 30, 2021, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/biden-vaccine-passports-private-sector/
  4. [4]Alexandra Villarreal, “US taking ‘very close look’ at vaccine passports for international travel,” Guardian, May 28, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/may/28/homeland-security-biden-alejandro-mayorkas
  5. [5]Kathryn Watson, “White House leaves vaccine ‘passports’ to private sector,” CBS News, March 30, 2021, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/biden-vaccine-passports-private-sector/
  6. [6]Kathryn Watson, “White House leaves vaccine ‘passports’ to private sector,” CBS News, March 30, 2021, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/biden-vaccine-passports-private-sector/
  7. [7]Jackie Drees, “Vaccine passports: 23 states with bans, limitations & green lights,” Becker’s Healthcare, May 26, 2021, https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/digital-transformation/vaccine-passports-10-states-with-bans-limitations-green-lights.html

Some Uber and Lyft drivers are getting what they deserve. Unfortunately, so are a lot of other drivers

Pittsburgh

There is are two new blog posts:

  1. Pittsburgh, do me a favor: Rename Sandusky Street
  2. That very small part of the story

Gig economy

California’s Proposition 22 really isn’t working out well.[1] But what’s really striking is that apparently Uber and Lyft got some drivers to support the proposition.[2] Which is to say those drivers actually trusted the companies.

“A huge part of [Uber and Lyft’s] Prop. 22 campaign was to get the drivers on their side,” says Veena Dubal, a labor law expert at UC’s Hastings College of the Law and a critic of Uber and Lyft. “So they rolled out these things they knew that drivers would be excited about and would make them feel independent. And of course they’ve thrown them away.”[3]

And now those drivers are shocked to see the promises have not been kept.[4] Well, gee. No shit, Sherlock.

They probably think they’re going to get rich driving for the companies too.

This is an occasion where I’d say they got what they deserved. Unfortunately, a lot of other drivers are getting it too.

Michael Hiltzik, “Uber reneges on the ‘flexibility’ it gave drivers to win their support for Prop. 22,” Los Angeles Times, May 28, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2021-05-28/uber-flexibility-prop-22


In my Twitter bubble, Alexandria Ortega-Cortez, the rest of “the Squad,” and even Bernie Sanders have been taking a lot of criticism from progressives for failure to deliver on any of their signature programs.


There certainly is a problem with progressives getting co-opted by the mainstream Democratic Party but there’s also a larger problem that all of these people have worked from a presumption that system reform is possible from within. That presumption is, at best, dubious.


  1. [1]Alexander Sammon, “Prop 22 Is Here, and It’s Already Worse Than Expected,” American Prospect, January 15, 2021, https://prospect.org/labor/prop-22-is-here-already-worse-than-expected-california-gig-workers/; Michael Hiltzik, “Uber reneges on the ‘flexibility’ it gave drivers to win their support for Prop. 22,” Los Angeles Times, May 28, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2021-05-28/uber-flexibility-prop-22; José Rodríguez, Jr., “The Aftermath Of Prop 22 Is Not As Happy As Big Tech Promised,” Jalopnik, February 18, 2021, https://jalopnik.com/the-aftermath-of-prop-22-is-not-as-happy-as-big-tech-pr-1846299686
  2. [2]Michael Hiltzik, “Uber reneges on the ‘flexibility’ it gave drivers to win their support for Prop. 22,” Los Angeles Times, May 28, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2021-05-28/uber-flexibility-prop-22
  3. [3]Michael Hiltzik, “Uber reneges on the ‘flexibility’ it gave drivers to win their support for Prop. 22,” Los Angeles Times, May 28, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2021-05-28/uber-flexibility-prop-22
  4. [4]Michael Hiltzik, “Uber reneges on the ‘flexibility’ it gave drivers to win their support for Prop. 22,” Los Angeles Times, May 28, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2021-05-28/uber-flexibility-prop-22

Capitalist libertarians doing what they do: The case of Uber and Lyft in the almost post-pandemic

Gig economy

The chief executive officers of both Uber and Lyft remain in denial that driver wages are a problem as they bemoan long pickup times and high prices.[1]

We’re confident in our ability to execute.[2]

This is a capitalist libertarian mindset: They simply can’t conceive that there’s anything wrong with economic exploitation as they 1) claim to be increasing one-time incentives,[3] and 2) actually cut those incentives, only in part because they’re one-time incentives. Because that’s what they do[4] and they can’t imagine doing anything different.

Jessica Bursztynsky, “Uber CEO is ‘not happy’ with how long it’s taking to pick riders up or prices being charged,” CNBC, May 25, 2021, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/25/uber-ceo-is-not-happy-with-driver-supply-pricing.html


Pittsburgh

I can imagine Tony Moreno choosing to accept a Republican nomination, achieved through write-in votes, to challenge[5] the presumptive winner of Pittsburgh’s mayoral race, Ed Gainey,[6] in in the November general election mainly because it appeared the only reason for him to run as a Democrat in the first place was that Republicans are effectively disenfranchised in a “heavily Democratic” city.[7] I can’t imagine Bill Peduto doing so if Moreno declines.[8]

Moreno reminds me a bit of Diane Feinstein in San Francisco. Feinstein would surely be a Republican if Republicans stood a chance in that city; her political appeal, even more so than Nancy Pelosi’s, is entirely to the well off who increasingly predominate there. Moreno is different in that he appeals rather to supporters of the police white supremacist gang. But the dynamic is much the same.

To give you an idea, I had a passenger this afternoon, whom I picked up in Blawnox. We were talking about road conditions in Pittsburgh and he was pessimistic that Gainey would improve the situation. Not because this isn’t an issue Gainey particularly emphasized in his campaign, but because someone he knew, an ex-cop, had supposedly busted Gainey 30 times decades ago.

Of course, the possibility that Gainey might have been racially profiled wasn’t a factor in this guy’s thinking. Nor was it a factor that cops are white supremacists.[9] And of course it never occurred to this guy, who plainly wasn’t rich, that in a constitutional oligarchy,[10] laws are passed by a group consisting overwhelmingly of wealthy white men mostly against everyone else,[11] and that that might have had something to do with it. Finally, the possibility that Gainey’s alleged troubles with the law might not have reflected on his immutable essence or that he might have redeemed himself since[12] also clearly played no role in this man’s thinking. No, it had to be that Gainey was “as crooked as they come.”

That doesn’t mean that Moreno will indeed take up the Republican mantle. It looks to me like he’d be tilting at windmills if he did, but then, that’s what he was doing when he ran in the first place. All that said, judging from yard signs, Moreno seems to enjoy support in some sections of Carrick, Bon Air, and New Homestead. If he’s sufficiently immersed in that bubble, I suppose he might.

On another note, I should probably admit that having gone out early to deal with a problem with my car’s sound system—the folks at Auto Addictions are great, by the way—I found myself hungry and went down to a waffle place (yes, they have vegan waffles, and man, oh man, do they charge extra for them) in the South Side to supplement my breakfast.

But I’ve called the South Side the place where stupid people go to do stupid stuff. And now I have validation from a neighbor who seems a lot more tolerant of the goings on there than I would be.[13]

Sean Collier, “The South Side Problem With No Solution,” Pittsburgh, May 24, 2021, https://www.pittsburghmagazine.com/perspectives-the-south-side-problem-with-no-solution/

WTAE, “Retired police detective Tony Moreno has enough write-in votes to challenge Ed Gainey in race for Pittsburgh mayor in November,” May 25, 2021, https://www.wtae.com/article/tony-moreno-has-enough-write-in-votes-to-challenge-ed-gainey-in-mayoral-race/36536679


  1. [1]Jessica Bursztynsky, “Uber CEO is ‘not happy’ with how long it’s taking to pick riders up or prices being charged,” CNBC, May 25, 2021, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/25/uber-ceo-is-not-happy-with-driver-supply-pricing.html
  2. [2]Dara Khosrowshahi, quoted in Jessica Bursztynsky, “Uber CEO is ‘not happy’ with how long it’s taking to pick riders up or prices being charged,” CNBC, May 25, 2021, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/25/uber-ceo-is-not-happy-with-driver-supply-pricing.html
  3. [3]Jessica Bursztynsky, “Uber CEO is ‘not happy’ with how long it’s taking to pick riders up or prices being charged,” CNBC, May 25, 2021, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/25/uber-ceo-is-not-happy-with-driver-supply-pricing.html; Faiz Siddiqui, “Where have all the Uber drivers gone?” Washington Post, May 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/05/07/uber-lyft-drivers/
  4. [4]Sarah Jaffe, “The battle for the future of ‘gig’ work,” Vox, May 18, 2021, https://www.vox.com/the-highlight/22425152/future-of-gig-work-uber-lyft-driving-prop-22; Farhad Manjoo, “The Uber I.P.O. Is a Moral Stain on Silicon Valley,” New York Times, May 1, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/01/opinion/uber-ipo.html; Dhruv Mehrotra and Aaron Gordon, “Uber And Lyft Take A Lot More From Drivers Than They Say,” Jalopnik, August 26, 2019, https://jalopnik.com/uber-and-lyft-take-a-lot-more-from-drivers-than-they-sa-1837450373; Kari Paul, “Uber drivers plan shutdown over ‘poverty wages’ as company goes public,” Guardian, April 25, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/apr/24/uber-drivers-strike-ipo; José Rodríguez, Jr., “The Aftermath Of Prop 22 Is Not As Happy As Big Tech Promised,” Jalopnik, February 18, 2021, https://jalopnik.com/the-aftermath-of-prop-22-is-not-as-happy-as-big-tech-pr-1846299686; Alexander Sammon, “Prop 22 Is Here, and It’s Already Worse Than Expected,” American Prospect, January 15, 2021, https://prospect.org/labor/prop-22-is-here-already-worse-than-expected-california-gig-workers/; Faiz Siddiqui, “Where have all the Uber drivers gone?” Washington Post, May 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/05/07/uber-lyft-drivers/
  5. [5]WTAE, “Retired police detective Tony Moreno has enough write-in votes to challenge Ed Gainey in race for Pittsburgh mayor in November,” May 25, 2021, https://www.wtae.com/article/tony-moreno-has-enough-write-in-votes-to-challenge-ed-gainey-in-mayoral-race/36536679
  6. [6]Associated Press, “Pittsburgh votes out mayor in primary election,” Politico, May 18, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/05/18/pittsburgh-votes-out-mayor-in-primary-election-489542; Charlie Wolfson, “Gainey topples Peduto in primary, will be Pittsburgh’s first Black mayor barring a November challenge,” Public Source, May 18, 2021, https://www.publicsource.org/gainey-topples-peduto-in-primary-on-course-as-first-black-pittsburgh-mayor/
  7. [7]Associated Press, “Pittsburgh votes out mayor in primary election,” Politico, May 18, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/05/18/pittsburgh-votes-out-mayor-in-primary-election-489542
  8. [8]WTAE, “Retired police detective Tony Moreno has enough write-in votes to challenge Ed Gainey in race for Pittsburgh mayor in November,” May 25, 2021, https://www.wtae.com/article/tony-moreno-has-enough-write-in-votes-to-challenge-ed-gainey-in-mayoral-race/36536679
  9. [9]Mark Berman et al., “Protests spread over police shootings. Police promised reforms. Every year, they still shoot and kill nearly 1,000 people,” Washington Post, June 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/protests-spread-over-police-shootings-police-promised-reforms-every-year-they-still-shoot-nearly-1000-people/2020/06/08/5c204f0c-a67c-11ea-b473-04905b1af82b_story.html; Kyle Cheney, Sarah Ferris, and Laura Barrón-López, “‘Inside job’: House Dems ask if Capitol rioters had hidden help,” Politico, January 8, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/08/congress-democrats-capitol-riot-inside-job-456725; Tim Craig, “Proud Boys and Black Lives Matter activists clashed in a Florida suburb. Only one side was charged,” Washington Post, February 2, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/florida-protest-bill-unequal-treatment/2021/02/01/415d1b02-6240-11eb-9061-07abcc1f9229_story.html; James Downie, “Time to toss the ‘bad apples’ excuse,” Washington Post, May 31, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/05/31/time-toss-bad-apples-excuse/; Jeet Heer, “How Not to Mourn George Floyd,” The Time of Monsters, April 21, 2021, https://jeetheer.substack.com/p/how-not-to-mourn-george-floyd; Arelis R. Hernández and Cleve R. Wootson, Jr., “Black Americans are buoyed by Chauvin conviction, but they worry it will blunt pace of reform,” Washington Post, April 20, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/04/20/chauvin-verdict-black-americans/; Jason Johnson, “I'm not happy. I'm not relieved. The verdict is a cultural make-up call. This ruling means it takes a Black man being murdered on TV in front of millions, a years worth of protest and a phalanx of white cops saying "this is wrong" for a black person to get a scintilla of justice,” Twitter, April 20, 2021, >https://twitter.com/DrJasonJohnson/status/1384637989444325378; Kimberly Kindy, Mark Berman, and Kim Bellware, “After Capitol riot, police chiefs work to root out officers with ties to extremist groups,” Washington Post, January 24, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/police-capitol-riot-extremists/2021/01/24/16fdb2bc-5a7b-11eb-b8bd-ee36b1cd18bf_story.html; Maggie Koerth, “The Police’s Tepid Response To The Capitol Breach Wasn’t An Aberration,” FiveThirtyEight, January 7, 2021, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-polices-tepid-response-to-the-capitol-breach-wasnt-an-aberration/; Kurtis Lee, “Derek Chauvin is guilty of murdering George Floyd,” Los Angeles Times, April 20, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-04-20/jury-verdict-derek-chauvin-george-floyd-death; Kurtis Lee, Jaweed Kaleem, and Laura King, “‘White supremacy was on full display.’ Double standard seen in police response to riot at Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, January 7, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-01-07/la-na-washington-capitol-police-attack-race; German Lopez, “Police officers are prosecuted for murder in less than 2 percent of fatal shootings,” Vox, April 2, 2021, https://www.vox.com/21497089/derek-chauvin-george-floyd-trial-police-prosecutions-black-lives-matter; Wesley Lowery, “Aren’t more white people than black people killed by police? Yes, but no,” Washington Post, July 11, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/07/11/arent-more-white-people-than-black-people-killed-by-police-yes-but-no/; Brentin Mock, “What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings,” CityLab, August 6, 2019, https://www.citylab.com/equity/2019/08/police-officer-shootings-gun-violence-racial-bias-crime-data/595528/; Elie Mystal, “There’s Only One Possible Conclusion: White America Likes Its Killer Cops,” Nation, May 27, 2020, https://www.thenation.com/article/society/white-america-cops/; Alanna Durkin Richer and Lindsay Whitehurst, “1 verdict, then 6 police killings across America in 24 hours,” Associated Press, April 24, 2021, copy in possession of author; Jon Schuppe, “Police across U.S. respond to Derek Chauvin trial: ‘Our American way of policing is on trial,’” NBC News, April 15, 2021, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/police-across-u-s-respond-derek-chauvin-trial-our-american-n1264224; Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, “How Do We Change America?” New Yorker, June 8, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/how-do-we-change-america; Raphael Warnock, “Today’s verdict affirming Derek Chauvin’s responsibility for killing George Floyd is the right outcome in this trial, but it is not justice. . . .” Twitter, April 20, 2021, https://twitter.com/SenatorWarnock/status/1384651251061858323
  10. [10]David Benfell, “A constitutional oligarchy: Deconstructing Federalist No. 10,” Not Housebroken, May 10, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/22/a-constitutional-oligarchy-deconstructing-federalist-no-10/
  11. [11]David Benfell, “On the pretense of ‘law and order,’” Not Housebroken, September 11, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/11/on-the-pretense-of-law-and-order/
  12. [12]George Lakoff, Moral Politics, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2002).
  13. [13]Sean Collier, “The South Side Problem With No Solution,” Pittsburgh, May 24, 2021, https://www.pittsburghmagazine.com/perspectives-the-south-side-problem-with-no-solution/

It appears that Congress members’ lives continued to be threatened after the January 6 coup attempt

Donald Trump

The sourcing for a Guardian story reporting ongoing threats following[1] the January 6 coup attempt[2] strikes me as sketchy:

The police documents were stolen and published by the ransomware attack group Babuk, and some were redistributed by the transparency organization Distributed Denial of Secrets, from whom they were obtained by the Guardian. Various outlets last week published stories based on the data showing intelligence indicating that far-right Boogaloo groups planned to attack various targets in the capital.[3]

Certainly, the story is plausible. Following the attack, a lot of folks, including me,[4] were concerned about the possibility of another attempt. So I’m inclined to give this report[5] the benefit of the doubt.

But there is doubt.

Jason Wilson, “Police records show threats to kill lawmakers in wake of Capitol attack,” Guardian, May 23, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/may/23/police-records-capitol-attack-lawmakers


Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s population plainly includes a great many lovers of Donald Trump—yes, the campaign flags are still up, well over six months after he lost. And indeed, a plurality of voters for propositions to limit the governor’s emergency powers, which Tom Wolf used to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus,[6] So I was flabbergasted when 50 percent had been fully vaccinated.[7]

Now we’re getting damn near 70 percent who’ve received at least one shot.[8] Assuming they follow through with their second shots, the end of Wolf’s mask mandate may be nearing. And case counts in the state are plummeting, surely a sign of the vaccines’ efficacy.[9]

It would be good to find out why, despite my doubt that they would, so many have accepted the vaccine. They, by the way, are the brave ones. They have risked the opprobrium of COVID-19 deniers and other anti-vaccine activists and they have raised doubts about their fealty to Trump. It’s those who refuse the vaccine who are cowards and losers.

Chris Pastrick, “Pennsylvania inches near Gov. Wolf’s 70% vaccination target for lifting mask mandate,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 24, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/pennsylvania-inches-near-gov-wolfs-70-vaccination-target-for-lifting-mask-mandate/


Housekeeping

My contact information has been updated. I have deprecated the old AT&T (now Google Fi) number because Dual SIM Dual Standby (DSDS) is proving to be much more trouble than it should be and yeah, I’m having problems with Google’s Pixel 5, which frankly just isn’t that hot a phone in the first place.

Basically, it’s good to still have a working phone when I’m in a Verizon dead zone and that’s my plan for the Pixel 5, on which I’ll keep the Google Fi number. All this shit is much more trouble than it should be. By a few orders of magnitude.


  1. [1]Jason Wilson, “Police records show threats to kill lawmakers in wake of Capitol attack,” Guardian, May 23, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/may/23/police-records-capitol-attack-lawmakers
  2. [2]David Benfell, “Riot or insurrection? Lies or madness?” Not Housebroken, January 22, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/01/12/riot-or-insurrection-lies-or-madness/
  3. [3]Jason Wilson, “Police records show threats to kill lawmakers in wake of Capitol attack,” Guardian, May 23, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/may/23/police-records-capitol-attack-lawmakers
  4. [4]David Benfell, “The danger that remains,” Not Housebroken, January 22, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/01/07/the-danger-that-remains/
  5. [5]Jason Wilson, “Police records show threats to kill lawmakers in wake of Capitol attack,” Guardian, May 23, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/may/23/police-records-capitol-attack-lawmakers
  6. [6]Stephen Caruso and Marley Parish, “In a pandemic rebuke, Pa. voters move to limit Wolf’s emergency powers; approve referenda questions on racial justice and fire depts,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, May 19, 2021, https://www.penncapital-star.com/covid-19/in-a-pandemic-rebuke-pa-voters-move-to-limit-wolfs-emergency-powers-approve-referenda-questions-on-racial-justice-and-volunteer-fire-depts/
  7. [7]Frank Carnevale and Julia Felton, “More than 50% of Pennsylvania adults fully vaccinated for covid,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 20, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/more-than-50-of-pennsylvania-adult-residents-fully-vaccinated/
  8. [8]Chris Pastrick, “Pennsylvania inches near Gov. Wolf’s 70% vaccination target for lifting mask mandate,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 24, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/pennsylvania-inches-near-gov-wolfs-70-vaccination-target-for-lifting-mask-mandate/
  9. [9]Frank Carnevale and Julia Felton, “More than 50% of Pennsylvania adults fully vaccinated for covid,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 20, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/more-than-50-of-pennsylvania-adult-residents-fully-vaccinated/; Chris Pastrick, “Pennsylvania inches near Gov. Wolf’s 70% vaccination target for lifting mask mandate,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 24, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/pennsylvania-inches-near-gov-wolfs-70-vaccination-target-for-lifting-mask-mandate/

Uber and Lyft want drivers to buy electric cars. Even as they cut our pay.

Gig work

There is a new blog post entitled, “Range anxiety, Uber and Lyft style.”

So you know how people have been saying Uber and Lyft need to increase pay to encourage drivers to come back after quitting for the pandemic[1] and how Uber and Lyft have said they would?[2] Guess what? Uber is cutting my bonuses. Maybe they thought I wouldn’t notice.

The last time I called an Uber, because I’d left my car at the shop for routine service, I had to accept an increased fare. And it may be—it’s hard for me to tell—that they’re passing on some of that increase to drivers. But it’s pretty clear my earnings will be down from last week. Because that’s what Uber and Lyft do.[3]

But hey, we’re supposed to buy electric cars, which of course we’ll have to finance,[4] and make payments on. Any idea how that’s going to work when you keep cutting our pay, Uber?

Dale Kasler, “Your Uber and Lyft driver must go electric. California’s latest climate change mandate,” Sacramento Bee, May 21, 2021, https://www.sacbee.com/article251574748.html


Genocide


Also:


The crucial thing to remember is that any attempt to erase a people, whether physically, or culturally, or in any other way, constitutes genocide. It is the erasure, not the means, that is the crucial attribute.[5]

This is happening in Palestine with the Palestinians. It’s happening in Xinjiang Province with the Uyghurs. It’s happening in Burma with the Rohingya. It is likely happening in other places with other people whom I have failed to learn about.


  1. [1]Laura Forman, “Uber and Lyft Need a Sharper Turn,” Wall Street Journal, April 13, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-and-lyft-need-a-sharper-turn-11618311794
  2. [2]Faiz Siddiqui, “Where have all the Uber drivers gone?” Washington Post, May 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/05/07/uber-lyft-drivers/
  3. [3]Sarah Jaffe, “The battle for the future of ‘gig’ work,” Vox, May 18, 2021, https://www.vox.com/the-highlight/22425152/future-of-gig-work-uber-lyft-driving-prop-22; Farhad Manjoo, “The Uber I.P.O. Is a Moral Stain on Silicon Valley,” New York Times, May 1, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/01/opinion/uber-ipo.html; Dhruv Mehrotra and Aaron Gordon, “Uber And Lyft Take A Lot More From Drivers Than They Say,” Jalopnik, August 26, 2019, https://jalopnik.com/uber-and-lyft-take-a-lot-more-from-drivers-than-they-sa-1837450373; Kari Paul, “Uber drivers plan shutdown over ‘poverty wages’ as company goes public,” Guardian, April 25, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/apr/24/uber-drivers-strike-ipo; José Rodríguez, Jr., “The Aftermath Of Prop 22 Is Not As Happy As Big Tech Promised,” Jalopnik, February 18, 2021, https://jalopnik.com/the-aftermath-of-prop-22-is-not-as-happy-as-big-tech-pr-1846299686; Alexander Sammon, “Prop 22 Is Here, and It’s Already Worse Than Expected,” American Prospect, January 15, 2021, https://prospect.org/labor/prop-22-is-here-already-worse-than-expected-california-gig-workers/; Faiz Siddiqui, “Where have all the Uber drivers gone?” Washington Post, May 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/05/07/uber-lyft-drivers/
  4. [4]Ben Elgin and Lizette Chapman, “How Uber and Lyft Are Losing the Race to the Electric Future,” Bloomberg, May 10, 2021, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2021-05-10/inside-the-slow-ev-adoption-by-uber-and-lyft; Andrew J. Hawkins, “Uber pledges to shift to ‘100 percent’ electric vehicles by 2030,” Verge, September 8, 2020, https://www.theverge.com/2020/9/8/21427196/uber-promise-100-percent-electric-vehicle-ev-2030; Andrew J. Hawkins, “Lyft vows ‘100 percent’ of its vehicles will be electric by 2030,” Verge, June 17, 2020, https://www.theverge.com/2020/6/17/21294040/lyft-electric-vehicle-ev-100-percent-2030; Dale Kasler, “Your Uber and Lyft driver must go electric. California’s latest climate change mandate,” Sacramento Bee, May 21, 2021, https://www.sacbee.com/article251574748.html
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Genocide,” Not Housebroken, June 30, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/06/30/genocide/

Fifty percent of Pennsylvanians are fully vaccinated. Can we get to seventy?

Rape

Peter Kendall, “A prosecutor says no to a rape charge, so a college student calls her own grand jury,” Washington Post, May 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/a-prosecutor-says-no-to-a-rape-charge-so-a-college-student-calls-her-own-grand-jury/2021/05/18/2ea9a130-b766-11eb-a5fe-bb49dc89a248_story.html


Pittsburgh


Fig. 1. Photograph by author, May 20, 2021.

I don’t know. It’s spring, the leaves are now fully out on almost all the trees, and the weather has suddenly turned from a relatively cool spring to really rather warm.

But as I was driving home tonight, even the Hazelwood neighborhood, one of many depressed areas in and around Pittsburgh, looked better.

I think a lot of folks are investing a lot of hope in Ed Gainey. I think the man has broad shoulders, but the job before him is huge. I hope he will not repeat Barack Obama’s mistake of shying away from issues of race. Because in this town, race has a lot to do with just about everything.

Take, for instance, the flag in figure 1. This is only the second place where I’ve seen a flag like this, where the U.S. flag blends into a Confederate flag. The other place is a lot closer to home, owned, I’m told, by a young woman who works at the Home Depot whose pickup truck has a Confederate flag sticker on its back window that says, “It’s a Redneck Thang. You Wouldn’t Understand.” And indeed, I don’t.

But that people would cling to this imagery, despite the hurt it causes Blacks, can only diminish Black objections to slavery, Jim Crow, and racism in general. I am, at least, no longer seeing the full Confederate flag on display; these were ubiquitous but seem to have come down since the January 6 coup attempt. Instead, I’m increasingly seeing upside down U.S. flags, which are supposed to be a sign of distress.

And the only way the latter makes any sense is if you buy the white supremacist claims that whites are under siege, that “Blacks and browns” will join forces against whites. Which I guess is how they rationalize the hurt their Confederate imagery causes Blacks.

Admittedly, the two places where I see the flag in figure 1 are outside Pittsburgh city limits. The first, near where I presently live, is in Pleasant Hills; the one in figure 1 is in Oakdale, along Noblestown Road. But you’d have to be on some kind of weird hallucinogen to imagine these attitudes somehow magically stop at those city limits.


Pennsylvania

Governor Tom Wolf has promised that Pennsylvania’s mask restrictions will come down when seventy percent are fully vaccinated.[1] Seriously, I figured that was pie in the sky, given the hold Trumpism has on Pennsylvanians. This is starting to actually look achievable.

Frank Carnevale and Julia Felton, “More than 50% of Pennsylvania adults fully vaccinated for covid,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 20, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/more-than-50-of-pennsylvania-adult-residents-fully-vaccinated/


  1. [1]Frank Carnevale and Julia Felton, “More than 50% of Pennsylvania adults fully vaccinated for covid,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 20, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/more-than-50-of-pennsylvania-adult-residents-fully-vaccinated/

Experts are shocked, I tell you, shocked that bullshit didn’t win Pittsburgh’s mayoral election

Postal Service

Jacob Bogage, “Senators reach bipartisan deal to overhaul USPS finances, tighten accountability requirements,” Washington Post, May 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/05/19/usps-senate-bipartisan-agreement/


Pittsburgh

I don’t know:

“Mayors can get out of touch. They don’t understand the change that’s taking place in their city,” [G. Terry] Madonna said. “Obviously, [Ed] Gainey’s conversation about unifying and moving the city forward struck a chord.”[1]

There are a lot of surprised experts in this story,[2] but for me Bill Peduto just couldn’t stop spewing blatant bullshit, as if he actually expected people would think it could or should be taken seriously. I called him on it several times and he just didn’t respond.

And I don’t know who Peduto was listening to about the cops. But he turned on protesters[3] and ignored the sentiment in support of Black Lives Matter that’s plain to see in almost every Pittsburgh neighborhood. It’s like he saw only the “thin blue line,” “we support our police,” and “Punisher” stickers and posters that are actually more common in Pittsburgh suburbs.

To say Peduto lost touch, for me, really misses the point. He was solicitous of police supporters and dismissed the voices that expressed fear of the police. Which is to say that he was effectively counting on white supremacy[4] to win the race.

That might—and probably would—work almost anywhere in much of Pennsylvania outside the city of Pittsburgh. But in choosing this approach, he exposed himself as, at best, choosing political expediency over Black lives, or as at worst, himself a white supremacist.

Tom Davidson and Megan Guza, “How did Peduto lose Pittsburgh mayoral primary? Experts offer insight,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 19, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/how-did-peduto-lose-the-pittsburgh-mayoral-primary-experts-offer-insight/


  1. [1]Tom Davidson and Megan Guza, “How did Peduto lose Pittsburgh mayoral primary? Experts offer insight,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 19, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/how-did-peduto-lose-the-pittsburgh-mayoral-primary-experts-offer-insight/
  2. [2]Tom Davidson and Megan Guza, “How did Peduto lose Pittsburgh mayoral primary? Experts offer insight,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 19, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/how-did-peduto-lose-the-pittsburgh-mayoral-primary-experts-offer-insight/
  3. [3]Lisa Cunningham, “Mayor Peduto, please stop equating Pittsburgh protesters with the ‘Radical Right,’” Pittsburgh City Paper, January 21, 2021, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/mayor-peduto-please-stop-equating-pittsburgh-protesters-with-the-radical-right/Content?oid=18780489
  4. [4]Mark Berman et al., “Protests spread over police shootings. Police promised reforms. Every year, they still shoot and kill nearly 1,000 people,” Washington Post, June 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/protests-spread-over-police-shootings-police-promised-reforms-every-year-they-still-shoot-nearly-1000-people/2020/06/08/5c204f0c-a67c-11ea-b473-04905b1af82b_story.html; Kyle Cheney, Sarah Ferris, and Laura Barrón-López, “‘Inside job’: House Dems ask if Capitol rioters had hidden help,” Politico, January 8, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/08/congress-democrats-capitol-riot-inside-job-456725; Tim Craig, “Proud Boys and Black Lives Matter activists clashed in a Florida suburb. Only one side was charged,” Washington Post, February 2, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/florida-protest-bill-unequal-treatment/2021/02/01/415d1b02-6240-11eb-9061-07abcc1f9229_story.html; James Downie, “Time to toss the ‘bad apples’ excuse,” Washington Post, May 31, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/05/31/time-toss-bad-apples-excuse/; Jeet Heer, “How Not to Mourn George Floyd,” The Time of Monsters, April 21, 2021, https://jeetheer.substack.com/p/how-not-to-mourn-george-floyd; Arelis R. Hernández and Cleve R. Wootson, Jr., “Black Americans are buoyed by Chauvin conviction, but they worry it will blunt pace of reform,” Washington Post, April 20, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/04/20/chauvin-verdict-black-americans/; Jason Johnson, “I'm not happy. I'm not relieved. The verdict is a cultural make-up call. This ruling means it takes a Black man being murdered on TV in front of millions, a years worth of protest and a phalanx of white cops saying "this is wrong" for a black person to get a scintilla of justice,” Twitter, April 20, 2021, >https://twitter.com/DrJasonJohnson/status/1384637989444325378; Kimberly Kindy, Mark Berman, and Kim Bellware, “After Capitol riot, police chiefs work to root out officers with ties to extremist groups,” Washington Post, January 24, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/police-capitol-riot-extremists/2021/01/24/16fdb2bc-5a7b-11eb-b8bd-ee36b1cd18bf_story.html; Maggie Koerth, “The Police’s Tepid Response To The Capitol Breach Wasn’t An Aberration,” FiveThirtyEight, January 7, 2021, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-polices-tepid-response-to-the-capitol-breach-wasnt-an-aberration/; Kurtis Lee, “Derek Chauvin is guilty of murdering George Floyd,” Los Angeles Times, April 20, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-04-20/jury-verdict-derek-chauvin-george-floyd-death; Kurtis Lee, Jaweed Kaleem, and Laura King, “‘White supremacy was on full display.’ Double standard seen in police response to riot at Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, January 7, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-01-07/la-na-washington-capitol-police-attack-race; German Lopez, “Police officers are prosecuted for murder in less than 2 percent of fatal shootings,” Vox, April 2, 2021, https://www.vox.com/21497089/derek-chauvin-george-floyd-trial-police-prosecutions-black-lives-matter; Wesley Lowery, “Aren’t more white people than black people killed by police? Yes, but no,” Washington Post, July 11, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/07/11/arent-more-white-people-than-black-people-killed-by-police-yes-but-no/; Brentin Mock, “What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings,” CityLab, August 6, 2019, https://www.citylab.com/equity/2019/08/police-officer-shootings-gun-violence-racial-bias-crime-data/595528/; Elie Mystal, “There’s Only One Possible Conclusion: White America Likes Its Killer Cops,” Nation, May 27, 2020, https://www.thenation.com/article/society/white-america-cops/; Alanna Durkin Richer and Lindsay Whitehurst, “1 verdict, then 6 police killings across America in 24 hours,” Associated Press, April 24, 2021, copy in possession of author; Jon Schuppe, “Police across U.S. respond to Derek Chauvin trial: ‘Our American way of policing is on trial,’” NBC News, April 15, 2021, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/police-across-u-s-respond-derek-chauvin-trial-our-american-n1264224; Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, “How Do We Change America?” New Yorker, June 8, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/how-do-we-change-america; Raphael Warnock, “Today’s verdict affirming Derek Chauvin’s responsibility for killing George Floyd is the right outcome in this trial, but it is not justice. . . .” Twitter, April 20, 2021, https://twitter.com/SenatorWarnock/status/1384651251061858323

Supreme Court to Hear Case That Threatens Roe v. Wade

See also:


Monica Hesse, “Abortion bans have some women preparing for the worst. It involves ‘auntie networks,’” Washington Post, May 6, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/abortion-bans-have-some-women-preparing-for-the-worst-it-involves-auntie-networks/2019/05/24/4af2dcce-7d77-11e9-a5b3-34f3edf1351e_story.html

Natasha Frost, “Should women go on a sex strike over Republican abortion laws? Feminists are divided,” Quartz, May 12, 2019, https://qz.com/1617531/feminists-disagree-on-alyssa-milanos-sex-strike-over-abortion-laws/

Karen Tumulty, “On abortion, Biden shows he is out of step with his party,” Washington Post, June 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/on-abortion-biden-shows-he-is-out-of-step-with-his-party/2019/06/05/e83ddc30-87cd-11e9-98c1-e945ae5db8fb_story.html

Peter Wade, “Legislators in Ohio and Pennsylvania Are Proposing Incredibly Restrictive Anti-Abortion Legislation,” Rolling Stone, November 30, 2019, https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/legislators-in-ohio-and-pennsylvania-are-proposing-incredibly-restrictive-anti-abortion-legislation-919928/

Robert Barnes, “Supreme Court strikes down restrictive Louisiana abortion law that would have closed clinics,” Washington Post, June 29, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-louisiana-abortion-law-john-roberts/2020/06/29/6f42067e-ba00-11ea-8cf5-9c1b8d7f84c6_story.html

Marianne Levine, “Josh Hawley warns Trump on Supreme Court disappointments,” Politico, June 27, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/06/27/hawley-trump-supreme-court-341844

Rod Dreher, “Abortion Forever,” American Conservative, June 29, 2020, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/justice-roberts-abortion-forever-supreme-court/

Nia Prater, “Supreme Court to Hear Case That Threatens Roe v. Wade,” New York, May 17, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/05/supreme-court-to-hear-case-that-threatens-roe-v-wade.html

David G. Savage, “Supreme Court agrees to hear major abortion case challenging Roe vs. Wade,” Los Angeles Times, May 17, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-05-17/supreme-court-agrees-to-hear-abortion-case

Ed Kilgore, “Is Roe v. Wade Now Doomed?” New York, May 17, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/05/is-roe-v-wade-now-doomed.html

Ariane de Vogue, “Mississippi asks US Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade,” CNN, July 22, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/22/politics/mississippi-roe-v-wade-abortion/index.html

Adam Liptak, “Mississippi asks the Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade,” New York Times, July 22, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/22/us/politics/mississippi-supreme-court-abortion.html

Sarah Jones, “Texas Is What a Real Mob Looks Like,” New York, September 1, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/09/texas-6-week-abortion-ban-is-what-a-real-mob-looks-like.html

Robert Barnes et al., “Supreme Court refuses to block Texas law banning abortions at six weeks,” Washington Post, September 2, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/texas-six-week-abortion-ban/2021/09/01/e53cf372-0a6b-11ec-a6dd-296ba7fb2dce_story.html

Daniela Santamariña, “What abortion policy would look like in the U.S. if Roe v. Wade fell,” Washington Post, September 2, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/06/11/abortion-rights-roe-v-wade/

Felicia Sonmez, “Sen. Collins repeatedly asserted that Kavanaugh considered abortion rights settled law. The justice’s decision on Texas’s restrictive law suggests otherwise,” Washington Post, September 2, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/abortion-collins-supreme-court-kavanaugh/2021/09/02/b6de0b98-0bfa-11ec-a6dd-296ba7fb2dce_story.html

Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux, “Why Texas’s Abortion Law May Go Too Far For Most Americans,” FiveThirtyEight, September 2, 2021, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-texass-abortion-law-may-go-too-far-for-most-americans/

Kathleen Parker, “The Supreme Court rides to Biden’s rescue,” Washington Post, September 3, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/09/03/supreme-court-rides-bidens-rescue/

Associated Press, “Lyft, Uber lash out at legal threat from strict Texas abortion law,” Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, September 4, 2021, https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/texas-abortion-ban-lyft-uber-fight-back-1.6165045

Chantal Da Silva, “Texas judge grants restraining order against anti-abortion group, temporarily preventing lawsuits,” NBC News, September 4, 2021, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/texas-judge-grants-restraining-order-against-anti-abortion-group-temporarily-n1278509

Caroline Anders, “Texans seeking abortions have options — but they’re very limited,” Lily, September 5, 2021, https://www.thelily.com/texans-seeking-abortions-have-options-but-theyre-very-limited/

Sadie Gurman and Eliza Collins, “Justice Department Looks for Ways to Challenge Texas Abortion Law,” Wall Street Journal, September 6, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/justice-department-looks-for-ways-to-challenge-texas-abortion-law-11630959275

Devlin Barrett and Ann E. Marimow, “Justice Department sues Texas to block six-week abortion ban,” Washington Post, September 9, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/texas-abortion-justice-lawsuit/2021/09/09/5d3eae0a-117a-11ec-9cb6-bf9351a25799_story.html

Charlie Mitchell, “Texas abortion ban: Salesforce helps staff leave state,” Times, September 13, 2021, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/tech-company-helps-its-staff-quit-texas-over-abortion-ban-mrcvljxv3

Trusting the untrustworthy (update #6)

Updates

  1. Originally published, May 17, 2021, 9:56 am.

  2. May 17, 2021, 11:05 am:

  3. May 18, 2021, 12:40 pm:

  4. May 18, 2021, 11:32 pm:

    • While there’s certainly cause for alarm about the Supreme Court’s decision to hear a case that could overturn Roe v. Wade,[2] Ed Kilgore is not quite that pessimistic.[3]

      Social conservatives (mostly evangelical Protestants) and traditionalist conservatives (mostly Roman Catholics) will of course be leaning heavily on this one. Indeed, the entire rationalization for their support for a decidedly unchristian Donald Trump is that they believe they are losing the culture war.[4] It’s why they continue to support him even after he lost the election and even after[5] the coup attempt on January 6, 2021.[6] This might be the Court’s final opportunity to overturn Roe and I have to think that’s going to make it hard for Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett to uphold that decision in any way.


    • Fig. 1. Photograph by author, May 20, 2019.

      I was beginning to wonder if the violet and white flowers that seemed so prominent to me the first year I returned to Pittsburgh would return. They have.

    • It looks like my extremely dubious—and that’s being entirely too kind—yard sign survey methodology held up this time:

      State Rep. Ed Gainey defeated Mayor Bill Peduto in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, clearing a path to become Pittsburgh’s first Black mayor and signaling a shift in the city’s politics. 

      There were no candidates for the office on the Republican ballot, though an independent could oppose Gainey in November’s general election. Gainey is the first challenger to unseat an incumbent mayor since 1933.[7]

      Ed Gainey will likely be Pittsburgh’s first Black mayor.[8] It’s about fucking time.

  5. May 19, 2021, 10:56 am:

    • I’m starting to think there just might be hope for Pittsburgh. Not only did Pittsburgh voters indeed vote out a jackass who is a jackass in all the ways that a jackass who has never faced an existential crisis is a jackass,[9] but they approved a charter amendment restricting no-knock raids. Allegheny County voters also approved a proposition limiting the use of solitary confinement.[10]

      All in all, pretty fucking impressive and a rebuke I really wasn’t expecting for all the “back the blue,” “thin blue line,” and “Punisher” sentiment I see around here.

      Next up should be some very badly needed reforms for the notorious Allegheny County Jail.

    • Uber has sent a message to drivers—it says also to riders, but I haven’t seen that one—that it is sticking by its existing mask requirements for now. It’s understandable. As previously noted, there’s simply no way to verify that people are vaccinated which makes it impossible to determine if they should be free to go without masks.[11] But damn, it’s tiresome and my nose has never stopped itching.

      I haven’t driven for Lyft in quite some time now so I don’t know if I would receive a comparable communication from them.

  6. May 19, 2021, 11:42 am:

    • The bad news is that Pittsburgh is in Pennsylvania, whose voters reined in the governor’s emergency powers, which Tom Wolf had used—I felt much too sparingly—to limit the spread of COVID-19.[12]


Pandemic

The latest face mask guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) relies on an “honor system.” The vaccinated may often go without masks. The unvaccinated should still wear them and are trusted to do so.[13]

But the CDC card I received with my vaccination obviously isn’t even meant to resist forgery. And apparently folks are forging such certifications all around the world. The folks producing and carrying these cards, sometimes because they live in places where vaccines remain hard to get, sometimes because they don’t take COVID-19 seriously, are the very people we’re supposed to trust, on the “honor system.”[14] If conservatives are seeking examples of government incompetence, well, here is most definitely one.

Jamie Grierson, “Fake Covid vaccine and test certificate market is growing, researchers say,” Guardian, May 16, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/may/16/fake-covid-vaccine-and-test-certificate-market-is-growing-researchers-say


Rape

Maryclaire Dale, “‘So I raped you.’ Facebook message renews fight for justice,” Associated Press, May 17, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/education-0dd9b05c9bd3659acb78d79f91a4fef1


Abortion

Ed Kilgore, “Is Roe v. Wade Now Doomed?” New York, May 17, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/05/is-roe-v-wade-now-doomed.html

Nia Prater, “Supreme Court to Hear Case That Threatens Roe v. Wade,” New York, May 17, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/05/supreme-court-to-hear-case-that-threatens-roe-v-wade.html

David G. Savage, “Supreme Court agrees to hear major abortion case challenging Roe vs. Wade,” Los Angeles Times, May 17, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-05-17/supreme-court-agrees-to-hear-abortion-case


Labor

Yes, I work well over 55 hours per week, the length of time the World Health Organization now says increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.[15] I have no choice. Lots of other people do and they, likewise, have no choice. But you know, to advocate a living wage is to blaspheme against the great god capitalism.[16]

Josh Eidelson and Benjamin Penn, “Labor, Gig Companies Near Bargaining Deal in N.Y.,” Bloomberg, May 17, 2021, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-05-18/labor-gig-companies-are-said-to-be-near-bargaining-deal-in-n-y

World Health Organization, “Long working hours increasing deaths from heart disease and stroke: WHO, ILO,” May 17, 2021, https://www.who.int/news/item/17-05-2021-long-working-hours-increasing-deaths-from-heart-disease-and-stroke-who-ilo

Sarah Jaffe, “The battle for the future of ‘gig’ work,” Vox, May 18, 2021, https://www.vox.com/the-highlight/22425152/future-of-gig-work-uber-lyft-driving-prop-22


Pittsburgh

Charlie Wolfson, “Gainey topples Peduto in primary, will be Pittsburgh’s first Black mayor barring a November challenge,” Public Source, May 18, 2021, https://www.publicsource.org/gainey-topples-peduto-in-primary-on-course-as-first-black-pittsburgh-mayor/

Associated Press, “Pittsburgh votes out mayor in primary election,” Politico, May 18, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/05/18/pittsburgh-votes-out-mayor-in-primary-election-489542


Pennsylvania

Stephen Caruso and Marley Parish, “In a pandemic rebuke, Pa. voters move to limit Wolf’s emergency powers; approve referenda questions on racial justice and fire depts,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, May 19, 2021, https://www.penncapital-star.com/covid-19/in-a-pandemic-rebuke-pa-voters-move-to-limit-wolfs-emergency-powers-approve-referenda-questions-on-racial-justice-and-volunteer-fire-depts/


  1. [1]Nia Prater, “Supreme Court to Hear Case That Threatens Roe v. Wade,” New York, May 17, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/05/supreme-court-to-hear-case-that-threatens-roe-v-wade.html; David G. Savage, “Supreme Court agrees to hear major abortion case challenging Roe vs. Wade,” Los Angeles Times, May 17, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-05-17/supreme-court-agrees-to-hear-abortion-case
  2. [2]Nia Prater, “Supreme Court to Hear Case That Threatens Roe v. Wade,” New York, May 17, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/05/supreme-court-to-hear-case-that-threatens-roe-v-wade.html; David G. Savage, “Supreme Court agrees to hear major abortion case challenging Roe vs. Wade,” Los Angeles Times, May 17, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-05-17/supreme-court-agrees-to-hear-abortion-case
  3. [3]Ed Kilgore, “Is Roe v. Wade Now Doomed?” New York, May 17, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/05/is-roe-v-wade-now-doomed.html
  4. [4]Elizabeth Bruenig, “In God’s country,” Washington Post, August 14, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/08/14/evangelicals-view-trump-their-protector-will-they-stand-by-him/; Sarah Jones, “White Evangelicals Made a Deal With the Devil. Now What?” New York, December 6, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/12/white-evangelicals-made-a-deal-with-trump-now-what.html; Peter Wehner, “Evangelicals Made a Bad Bargain With Trump,” Atlantic, October 18, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/10/the-evangelical-movements-bad-bargain/616760/; Julie Zauzmer and Sarah Pulliam Bailey, “After Trump and Moore, some evangelicals are finding their own label too toxic to use,” Washington Post, December 14, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/after-trump-and-moore-some-evangelicals-are-finding-their-own-label-too-toxic-to-use/2017/12/14/b034034c-e020-11e7-89e8-edec16379010_story.html
  5. [5]Rod Dreher, “Eric Metaxas’s American Apocalypse,” American Conservative, December 10, 2020, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/eric-metaxas-trump-bloodshed-american-apocalypse-live-not-by-lies/; Eliza Griswold, “A Pennsylvania Lawmaker and the Resurgence of Christian Nationalism,” New Yorker, May 9, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/on-religion/a-pennsylvania-lawmaker-and-the-resurgence-of-christian-nationalism
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Riot or insurrection? Lies or madness?” Not Housebroken, January 22, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/01/12/riot-or-insurrection-lies-or-madness/
  7. [7]Charlie Wolfson, “Gainey topples Peduto in primary, will be Pittsburgh’s first Black mayor barring a November challenge,” Public Source, May 18, 2021, https://www.publicsource.org/gainey-topples-peduto-in-primary-on-course-as-first-black-pittsburgh-mayor/
  8. [8]Tom Davidson, “Peduto challenger Ed Gainey: Fewer words, more action needed from next mayor of Pittsburgh,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 22, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/peduto-challenger-ed-gainey-fewer-words-more-action-needed-from-next-mayor-of-pittsburgh/; Chris Potter, “State Rep. Ed Gainey To Challenge Peduto In Mayoral Race,” WESA, January 19, 2021, https://www.wesa.fm/post/state-rep-ed-gainey-challenge-peduto-mayoral-race; Charlie Wolfson, “Gainey topples Peduto in primary, will be Pittsburgh’s first Black mayor barring a November challenge,” Public Source, May 18, 2021, https://www.publicsource.org/gainey-topples-peduto-in-primary-on-course-as-first-black-pittsburgh-mayor/
  9. [9]Associated Press, “Pittsburgh votes out mayor in primary election,” Politico, May 18, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/05/18/pittsburgh-votes-out-mayor-in-primary-election-489542; Charlie Wolfson, “Gainey topples Peduto in primary, will be Pittsburgh’s first Black mayor barring a November challenge,” Public Source, May 18, 2021, https://www.publicsource.org/gainey-topples-peduto-in-primary-on-course-as-first-black-pittsburgh-mayor/
  10. [10]Associated Press, “Pittsburgh votes out mayor in primary election,” Politico, May 18, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/05/18/pittsburgh-votes-out-mayor-in-primary-election-489542
  11. [11]Zeke Miller and Michael Balsamo, “‘Great day for America’: Vaccinated can largely ditch masks,” Associated Press, May 13, 2021, copy in possession of author; Leana S. Wen, “The CDC shouldn’t have removed restrictions without requiring proof of vaccination,” Washington Post, May 13, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/05/13/cdc-mask-rules-vaccination-leana-wen/
  12. [12]Stephen Caruso and Marley Parish, “In a pandemic rebuke, Pa. voters move to limit Wolf’s emergency powers; approve referenda questions on racial justice and fire depts,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, May 19, 2021, https://www.penncapital-star.com/covid-19/in-a-pandemic-rebuke-pa-voters-move-to-limit-wolfs-emergency-powers-approve-referenda-questions-on-racial-justice-and-volunteer-fire-depts/
  13. [13]Zeke Miller and Michael Balsamo, “‘Great day for America’: Vaccinated can largely ditch masks,” Associated Press, May 13, 2021, copy in possession of author; Leana S. Wen, “The CDC shouldn’t have removed restrictions without requiring proof of vaccination,” Washington Post, May 13, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/05/13/cdc-mask-rules-vaccination-leana-wen/
  14. [14]Jamie Grierson, “Fake Covid vaccine and test certificate market is growing, researchers say,” Guardian, May 16, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/may/16/fake-covid-vaccine-and-test-certificate-market-is-growing-researchers-say
  15. [15]World Health Organization, “Long working hours increasing deaths from heart disease and stroke: WHO, ILO,” May 17, 2021, https://www.who.int/news/item/17-05-2021-long-working-hours-increasing-deaths-from-heart-disease-and-stroke-who-ilo
  16. [16]David Benfell, “The capitalist death cult,” Not Housebroken, March 22, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/03/27/the-capitalist-death-cult/

The novel coronavirus’ origin is still unknown (update #4)

Updates

  1. Originally published, May 16, 2021, 12:06 am.

  2. May 16, 2021, 9:20 am:

    • While the U.S. is basically doing nothing about vaccine passports,[1] largely due to conservative objections,[2] the rest of the world is moving forward, seeing them as a necessity to reviving the tourism business, and the United Nations has issued recommendations.[3] It seems to me like something’s gotta give here: If you like capitalism, indeed, if you like freedom to travel around the world, you now support them with vaccine passports, but the particularly stupid among conservatives have been crying “freedom” to object to vaccine passports,[4] lockdowns,[5] and mask requirements.[6]

      Now, more than ever, it is apparent that for some conservatives, “freedom” is about spreading disease. On the other hand, self-contradiction doesn’t really seem to be a problem for Donald Trump’s supporters.

  3. May 16, 2021, 10:15 am:

  4. May 17, 2021, 12:05 am:

    • So if you’re feeling morbid, here’s a dashcam video of a collision I witnessed today. A young lady was speeding down Forbes Avenue in Pittsburgh going the wrong way and smacked right into a car entering the intersection at Jumonville Street whose driver was presumably only looking in the direction traffic was supposed to be coming from. Apparently, no injuries.

      Because it’s a dashcam, it’s a wide angle lens, so the cars appear very small. Really, it was only a couple short blocks ahead of me.

      Rewatching the video, I see the intersection is controlled with a traffic signal. The wrong way driver, however, would not have seen a signal since none would have been pointed in her direction. I do not know if the other driver had a green light; the light in my direction had turned red by the time I reached the intersection.

      This is the joy of driving in Pittsburgh: Shit like this happens all the time because it really is a terribly confusing place to drive and stuff isn’t always marked the way it should be.


Pandemic

I’ve been inclined to discount the notion that the novel coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic “escaped” from a Wuhan lab as bigotry against Asians and as a conspiracy theory[7] intended to exonerate our abuse of nonhuman animals. But while the virus was clearly not artificially developed, as some conspiracy theorists have claimed, even in my car, there apparently is insufficient evidence to say just how the pandemic started among humans.[8]

Deborah Netburn, “Did the coronavirus escape from a lab? The idea deserves a second look, scientists say,” Los Angeles Times, May 13, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2021-05-13/did-coronavirus-escape-from-lab-scientists-urge-second-look

Shannon McDonagh, “Here is what every country’s vaccine passport should have, according to the UN,” EuroNews, May 14, 2021, https://www.euronews.com/travel/2021/05/14/here-is-what-every-country-s-vaccine-passport-should-have-according-to-the-un


  1. [1]Kathryn Watson, “White House leaves vaccine ‘passports’ to private sector,” CBS News, March 30, 2021, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/biden-vaccine-passports-private-sector/
  2. [2]David Benfell, “On ‘vaccine passports,’” Not Housebroken, May 14, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/03/31/on-vaccine-passports/
  3. [3]Shannon McDonagh, “Here is what every country’s vaccine passport should have, according to the UN,” EuroNews, May 14, 2021, https://www.euronews.com/travel/2021/05/14/here-is-what-every-country-s-vaccine-passport-should-have-according-to-the-un
  4. [4]David Benfell, “On ‘vaccine passports,’” Not Housebroken, May 14, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/03/31/on-vaccine-passports/
  5. [5]David Benfell, “The capitalist death cult,” Not Housebroken, March 22, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/03/27/the-capitalist-death-cult/
  6. [6]Priya Elan, “The data is in: men are too fragile to wear Covid-19 masks. Grow up, guys,” Guardian, July 3, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jul/03/covid-19-masks-men-masculinity; Marc Fisher, Clarence Williams, and Lori Rozsa, “Will Americans wear masks to prevent coronavirus spread? Politics, history, race and crime factor into tough decision,” Washington Post, April 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/coronavirus-masks-america/2020/04/18/bdb16bf2-7a85-11ea-a130-df573469f094_story.html; Christine Hauser, “The Mask Slackers of 1918,” New York Times, August 3, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/03/us/mask-protests-1918.html; Griff Witte, Ariana Eunjung Cha, and Josh Dawsey, “At the heart of dismal U.S. coronavirus response, a fraught relationship with masks,” Washington Post, July 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/at-the-heart-of-dismal-us-coronavirus-response-a-fraught-relationship-with-masks/2020/07/28/f47eccd0-cde4-11ea-bc6a-6841b28d9093_story.html
  7. [7]Helen Davidson, “WHO says it has no evidence to support ‘speculative’ Covid-19 lab theory,” Guardian, May 4, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/05/who-says-it-has-no-evidence-to-support-speculative-covid-19-lab-theory-pushed-by-us; Joby Warrick et al., “Chinese lab conducted extensive research on deadly bat viruses, but there is no evidence of accidental release,” Washington Post, April 30 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/chinese-lab-conducted-extensive-research-on-deadly-bat-viruses-but-there-is-no-evidence-of-accidental-release/2020/04/30/3e5d12a0-8b0d-11ea-9dfd-990f9dcc71fc_story.html
  8. [8]Deborah Netburn, “Did the coronavirus escape from a lab? The idea deserves a second look, scientists say,” Los Angeles Times, May 13, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2021-05-13/did-coronavirus-escape-from-lab-scientists-urge-second-look