Bear trapped near downtown Pittsburgh, exiled to Somerset County

Pandemic

At hospitals, “people are tired. We have been at this for nearly two years,” [Nancy] Gin said. And “the emergence of Omicron has renewed concerns about surges and a difficult winter.”[1]

Rong-Gong Lin, II, and Emily Alpert Reyes, “California braces for Omicron wave amid grim forecasts, concerns for hospitals,” Los Angeles Times, September 20, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-12-20/how-are-southern-california-hospitals-faring-with-covid-now


Bill Peduto

Charlie Wolfson, “After eight years, Peduto’s record is a mix of bold plans and frustrating endings,” Public Source, December 22, 2021, https://www.publicsource.org/peduto-pittsburgh-outgoing-mayor-equity-policing-gainey/


White supremacist gangs

There are numerous rationalizations—actually—for the brutal Pittsburgh white supremacist gang[2] conduct[3] in the murder of Jim Rogers in Paula Reed Ward’s latest. These “experts” talk about the effects of being in these gangs for so long, but what they never get to[4] is that the very idea of policing is intrinsically about bullying. Police are the very expression of a sovereign’s monopoly on the allegedly “legitimate” use of force.[5] It is their role to be bullies on behalf of the state—more precisely, the rich[6]— and you cannot expect them to be otherwise.

Julia Felton, “Pittsburgh council to vote on whether police can make minor traffic stops,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 20, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-council-to-vote-on-whether-police-can-make-minor-traffic-stops/

Ryan Deto, “Pittsburgh Police officers disciplined in death of Jim Rogers; report says his calls for medical help were ignored,” Pittsburgh City Paper, December 21, 2021, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/pittsburgh-police-officers-disciplined-in-death-of-jim-rogers-report-says-his-calls-for-medical-help-were-ignored/Content?oid=20785257

Paula Reed Ward, “Man who died after being tased by Pittsburgh police pleaded for medical help but got none, report says,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 21, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/man-who-died-after-being-tased-by-pittsburgh-police-pleaded-for-medical-help-but-got-none-report-says/

Paula Reed Ward, “Experts say more must be done by Pittsburgh in response to Jim Rogers’ death,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 22, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/experts-say-more-must-be-done-by-pittsburgh-in-response-to-jim-rogers-death/


Militia groups, White supremacist gangs

Jason Dearen, “He attended cross burnings, wore a wire, risked his life to expose who was in KKK,” Times of Israel, December 23, 2021, https://www.timesofisrael.com/he-wore-a-wire-risked-his-life-to-expose-who-was-in-the-kkk/


Donald Trump

Allegedly, the sentences judges are handing down to the participants in the January 6 coup attempt are “severe.” They are measured in the scores of months, not years, but months.[7] When, as I now expect, Donald Trump resumes office in 2025, my guess is he’ll turn them all loose. In the meantime, those judges are frequently allowing those awaiting sentencing to go home for the holidays.[8] I’m counting the judiciary as complicit.

Josh Gohlke, “Wishing the Jan. 6 Capitol rioters – and their ringleaders – a miserable little Christmas,” Sacramento Bee, December 23, 2021, https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/article256774487.html

Maya Yang, “Capitol rioters hit with severe sentences and sharp reprimands from judges,” Guardian, December 23, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/dec/23/capitol-rioters-severe-sentences-reprimands-judges


Student loans

I’m still waiting for them to figure out how much they’re never going to recover, thanks to folks like me who are on income-based repayment and will accordingly basically never pay a dime. It’s been nearly six years since I graduated with my Ph.D. and I still can’t find a real job.[9]

Nick Anderson and Jeff Stein, “Biden administration extends federal student loan payment pause until May,” Washington Post, December 22, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/12/22/student-loans-white-house/


Pittsburgh

Will Ed Gainey have any comment?

A bear was trapped near the Energy Innovation Center on Bedford Avenue.[10] It’s literally just across I-579 from downtown; the bear could have used Bill Peduto’s cap project—a new city park that spans the highway—to get downtown and, you know, get a real job.

The Energy Innovation Center is housed in an old trade school in the lower Hill District. I’m thinking the bear wanted to learn a trade to get out of dumpster diving.

Instead, he’s been exiled to rural Somerset County.[11] Pittsburgh should treat Pittsburghers better than this.

Mary Ann Thomas, “260-pound black bear trapped near Downtown Pittsburgh,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 22, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/200-pound-black-bear-trapped-in-downtown-pittsburgh-wednesday-morning/


Pennsylvania roads


KDKA Television, “Pennsylvania Ranks Among The Worst Roads In The United States,” December 23, 2021, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2021/12/23/pennsylvania-among-worst-roads-in-us/


  1. [1]Rong-Gong Lin, II, and Emily Alpert Reyes, “California braces for Omicron wave amid grim forecasts, concerns for hospitals,” Los Angeles Times, September 20, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-12-20/how-are-southern-california-hospitals-faring-with-covid-now
  2. [2]David Benfell, “Stephen Zappala’s resignation would be nowhere near enough,” Not Housebroken, November 6, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/06/03/stephen-zappalas-resignation-would-be-nowhere-near-enough/
  3. [3]Ryan Deto, “Pittsburgh Police officers disciplined in death of Jim Rogers; report says his calls for medical help were ignored,” Pittsburgh City Paper, December 21, 2021, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/pittsburgh-police-officers-disciplined-in-death-of-jim-rogers-report-says-his-calls-for-medical-help-were-ignored/Content?oid=20785257; Julia Felton and Paula Reed Ward, “Family of man who died after being tased by Pittsburgh police calls for charges against officers,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 17, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/family-of-man-who-died-after-being-tased-by-pittsburgh-police-call-for-charges-against-officers/; Patrick Varine, “Protesters block Grant Street, demand prosecution in Jim Rogers’ death,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 12, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/protestors-block-grant-street-demand-prosecution-in-jim-rogers-death/; Paula Reed Ward, “Man who died after being tased by Pittsburgh police pleaded for medical help but got none, report says,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 21, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/man-who-died-after-being-tased-by-pittsburgh-police-pleaded-for-medical-help-but-got-none-report-says/; Paula Reed Ward, “Experts say more must be done by Pittsburgh in response to Jim Rogers’ death,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 22, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/experts-say-more-must-be-done-by-pittsburgh-in-response-to-jim-rogers-death/
  4. [4]Paula Reed Ward, “Experts say more must be done by Pittsburgh in response to Jim Rogers’ death,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 22, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/experts-say-more-must-be-done-by-pittsburgh-in-response-to-jim-rogers-death/
  5. [5]Max Weber, “What is Politics?” in Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings, ed. Charles Lemert, 4th ed. (Boulder, CO: Westview, 2010), 114-116.
  6. [6]David Benfell, “On police,” Not Housebroken, April 25, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/10/on-police/
  7. [7]Maya Yang, “Capitol rioters hit with severe sentences and sharp reprimands from judges,” Guardian, December 23, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/dec/23/capitol-rioters-severe-sentences-reprimands-judges
  8. [8]Josh Gohlke, “Wishing the Jan. 6 Capitol rioters – and their ringleaders – a miserable little Christmas,” Sacramento Bee, December 23, 2021, https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/article256774487.html
  9. [9]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  10. [10]Mary Ann Thomas, “260-pound black bear trapped near Downtown Pittsburgh,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 22, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/200-pound-black-bear-trapped-in-downtown-pittsburgh-wednesday-morning/
  11. [11]Mary Ann Thomas, “260-pound black bear trapped near Downtown Pittsburgh,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 22, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/200-pound-black-bear-trapped-in-downtown-pittsburgh-wednesday-morning/

Get ready for Donald Trump in 2024

Donald Trump

Social conservatism

Leonardo Blair, “Trump tells Dallas megachurch: America ‘needs a Savior right now’ and ‘it’s not me,’” Christian Post, December 20, 2021, https://www.christianpost.com/news/trump-tells-church-america-needs-a-savior-but-its-not-me.html

Coup attempt

Rachel Weiner, “Lead Capitol riot charge is constitutional, judges find,” Washington Post, December 20, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2021/12/20/lead-capitol-riot-charge-is-constitutional-judges-find/


Infrastructure

At this moment, I’m simply not seeing what stops Donald Trump from running and winning in 2024. The Democrats have now demonstrated far beyond any reasonable doubt that they are nowhere near even being remotely up to the job.[1]

Michael C. Bender, Andrew Duehren, and Lindsay Wise, “Sen. Joe Manchin Says He Won’t Vote for ‘Build Back Better’ Bill in Blow to President Biden,” Wall Street Journal, December 19, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/manchin-says-he-won-t-vote-for-build-back-better-bill-11639924048

Tony Romm, “Manchin says he ‘cannot vote’ for Democrats’ $2 trillion spending package, drawing sharp White House rebuke,” Washington Post, December 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/12/19/manchin-build-back-better-biden/

Sean Sullivan and Seung Min Kim, “From charm offensive to scorched earth: How Biden’s fragile alliance with Manchin unraveled,” Washington Post, December 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/manchin-biden-alliance-rift/2021/12/19/674b6e02-60e3-11ec-a7e8-3a8455b71fad_story.html

Amara Omeokwe, “Manchin Rejected Biden Bill Over Inflation, Debt Concerns. How Founded Are Those Worries?” Wall Street Journal, December 20, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/manchin-rejected-biden-bill-over-inflation-debt-concerns-how-founded-are-those-worries-11639958265

Elana Schor, “Magical thinking vs. Manchin,” Politico, December 20, 2021, https://www.politico.com/newsletters/politico-nightly/2021/12/20/magical-thinking-vs-manchin-495524

Julia Ioffe, “Inside the Manchin Gossip Swirl,” Puck News, December 21, 2021, https://puck.news/inside-the-manchin-gossip-swirl/

Eric Levitz, “The Democratic Agenda Dies of Delusions,” New York, December 21, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/12/how-the-white-house-lost-joe-manchin.html


White supremacist gangsters

Ryan Deto, “Pittsburgh Police officers disciplined in death of Jim Rogers; report says his calls for medical help were ignored,” Pittsburgh City Paper, December 21, 2021, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/pittsburgh-police-officers-disciplined-in-death-of-jim-rogers-report-says-his-calls-for-medical-help-were-ignored/Content?oid=20785257

Paula Reed Ward, “Man who died after being tased by Pittsburgh police pleaded for medical help but got none, report says,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 21, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/man-who-died-after-being-tased-by-pittsburgh-police-pleaded-for-medical-help-but-got-none-report-says/


  1. [1]Michael C. Bender, Andrew Duehren, and Lindsay Wise, “Sen. Joe Manchin Says He Won’t Vote for ‘Build Back Better’ Bill in Blow to President Biden,” Wall Street Journal, December 19, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/manchin-says-he-won-t-vote-for-build-back-better-bill-11639924048; Julia Ioffe, “Inside the Manchin Gossip Swirl,” Puck News, December 21, 2021, https://puck.news/inside-the-manchin-gossip-swirl/; Eric Levitz, “The Democratic Agenda Dies of Delusions,” New York, December 21, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/12/how-the-white-house-lost-joe-manchin.html; Amara Omeokwe, “Manchin Rejected Biden Bill Over Inflation, Debt Concerns. How Founded Are Those Worries?” Wall Street Journal, December 20, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/manchin-rejected-biden-bill-over-inflation-debt-concerns-how-founded-are-those-worries-11639958265; Tony Romm, “Manchin says he ‘cannot vote’ for Democrats’ $2 trillion spending package, drawing sharp White House rebuke,” Washington Post, December 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/12/19/manchin-build-back-better-biden/; Elana Schor, “Magical thinking vs. Manchin,” Politico, December 20, 2021, https://www.politico.com/newsletters/politico-nightly/2021/12/20/magical-thinking-vs-manchin-495524; Sean Sullivan and Seung Min Kim, “From charm offensive to scorched earth: How Biden’s fragile alliance with Manchin unraveled,” Washington Post, December 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/manchin-biden-alliance-rift/2021/12/19/674b6e02-60e3-11ec-a7e8-3a8455b71fad_story.html

We knew he’d do it: Joe Manchin finally actually says no to Build Back Better

Infrastructure


The way I look at it, Joe Biden should be grateful that Joe Manchin didn’t trash Build Back Better the moment he got his bipartisan infrastructure framework.[1] Because anybody who thinks he wasn’t going to do this[2] all along just hasn’t been paying attention.[3]

For the record, even economists consulted by the Wall Street Journal say the inflation impacts Manchin attributes to the bill are exaggerated.[4] I still want to know why the Democrats haven’t leaned on Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema the way they must have on Congressional ‘progressives.’

Michael C. Bender, Andrew Duehren, and Lindsay Wise, “Sen. Joe Manchin Says He Won’t Vote for ‘Build Back Better’ Bill in Blow to President Biden,” Wall Street Journal, December 19, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/manchin-says-he-won-t-vote-for-build-back-better-bill-11639924048

Tony Romm, “Manchin says he ‘cannot vote’ for Democrats’ $2 trillion spending package, drawing sharp White House rebuke,” Washington Post, December 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/12/19/manchin-build-back-better-biden/

Sean Sullivan and Seung Min Kim, “From charm offensive to scorched earth: How Biden’s fragile alliance with Manchin unraveled,” Washington Post, December 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/manchin-biden-alliance-rift/2021/12/19/674b6e02-60e3-11ec-a7e8-3a8455b71fad_story.html

Amara Omeokwe, “Manchin Rejected Biden Bill Over Inflation, Debt Concerns. How Founded Are Those Worries?” Wall Street Journal, December 20, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/manchin-rejected-biden-bill-over-inflation-debt-concerns-how-founded-are-those-worries-11639958265

Elana Schor, “Magical thinking vs. Manchin,” Politico, December 20, 2021, https://www.politico.com/newsletters/politico-nightly/2021/12/20/magical-thinking-vs-manchin-495524


Democrats

This is just the beginning of a Politico newsletter:

Progressives were frustrated with President JOE BIDEN even before Sen. JOE MANCHIN (D-W.V.) knifed the Build Back Better act on live television Sunday.

Voting rights legislation appears to be going nowhere. Student loan collection is expected to re-start early next year. Some of the Trump administration’s border policies remain in effect. And the $6 trillion social spending and climate action bill Democrats had once envisioned had already been whittled down to less than $2 trillion over a decade, leaving many progressive priorities on the cutting room table.

Now, with the sting of this latest BBB setback still fresh, progressive lawmakers and activists are openly venting about the White House — and some are even entertaining the idea of a primary challenge to Biden in 2024, if he stands by his plans to run for re-election.

Asked if she thought there’d be such a challenge, former state senator NINA TURNER, a close ally of Sen. BERNIE SANDERS (I-Vt.), told West Wing Playbook: “Without a doubt.”

“I think the movement is going to cry out for that,” she said. “We played nice in 2020, we played nice in 2021, and what did we get for it?” Asked if she would consider challenging Biden, Turner declined to comment.[5]

It’s worth reading the whole thing, but a crucial bit is that Joe Biden had promised Congressional ‘progressives’ he would deliver the votes for Build Back Better in exchange for their support of the bipartisan infrastructure framework. Now it’s clear he hasn’t delivered.[6] So Biden has egg on his face, undoubtedly contributing to Jen Psaki’s scathing takedown of Joe Manchin,[7] but really, so do the ‘progressives’ who got suckered.[8]

Indeed, in another Politico newsletter, Elana Schor goes so far as to accuse Manchin’s “more liberal colleagues,” obviously including those ‘progressives,’ of “magical thinking.”[9] She has a point.

Alex Thompson, Tina Sfondeles, and Max Tani, “Rage of the left-wing machine,” Politico, December 20, 2021, https://www.politico.com/newsletters/west-wing-playbook/2021/12/20/rage-of-the-left-wing-machine-495528


  1. [1]Robert P. Baird, “Inside the Democrats’ Battle to Build Back Better,” New Yorker, November 8, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/the-political-scene/inside-the-democrats-battle-to-build-back-better; Andrew Restuccia and Eliza Collins, “Biden Signs $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill Into Law,” Wall Street Journal, November 15, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/biden-infrastructure-bill-signing-11636997814; Tony Romm, Marianna Sotomayor, and Mike DeBonis, “Congress approves $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, sending measure to Biden for enactment,” Washington Post, November 6, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/11/05/house-infrastructure-reconciliation-vote/; Marianna Sotomayor, Paul Kane, and Josh Dawsey, “Tensions rise among Republicans over infrastructure bill and whether any agreement with Biden should be tolerated,” Washington Post, November 9, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/republicans-infrastructure-biden/2021/11/09/cc0c4c9e-4167-11ec-9ea7-3eb2406a2e24_story.html
  2. [2]Michael C. Bender, Andrew Duehren, and Lindsay Wise, “Sen. Joe Manchin Says He Won’t Vote for ‘Build Back Better’ Bill in Blow to President Biden,” Wall Street Journal, December 19, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/manchin-says-he-won-t-vote-for-build-back-better-bill-11639924048; Amara Omeokwe, “Manchin Rejected Biden Bill Over Inflation, Debt Concerns. How Founded Are Those Worries?” Wall Street Journal, December 20, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/manchin-rejected-biden-bill-over-inflation-debt-concerns-how-founded-are-those-worries-11639958265; Tony Romm, “Manchin says he ‘cannot vote’ for Democrats’ $2 trillion spending package, drawing sharp White House rebuke,” Washington Post, December 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/12/19/manchin-build-back-better-biden/; Sean Sullivan and Seung Min Kim, “From charm offensive to scorched earth: How Biden’s fragile alliance with Manchin unraveled,” Washington Post, December 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/manchin-biden-alliance-rift/2021/12/19/674b6e02-60e3-11ec-a7e8-3a8455b71fad_story.html
  3. [3]Elana Schor, “Magical thinking vs. Manchin,” Politico, December 20, 2021, https://www.politico.com/newsletters/politico-nightly/2021/12/20/magical-thinking-vs-manchin-495524
  4. [4]Amara Omeokwe, “Manchin Rejected Biden Bill Over Inflation, Debt Concerns. How Founded Are Those Worries?” Wall Street Journal, December 20, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/manchin-rejected-biden-bill-over-inflation-debt-concerns-how-founded-are-those-worries-11639958265
  5. [5]Alex Thompson, Tina Sfondeles, and Max Tani, “Rage of the left-wing machine,” Politico, December 20, 2021, https://www.politico.com/newsletters/west-wing-playbook/2021/12/20/rage-of-the-left-wing-machine-495528
  6. [6]Robert P. Baird, “Inside the Democrats’ Battle to Build Back Better,” New Yorker, November 8, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/the-political-scene/inside-the-democrats-battle-to-build-back-better; Andrew Restuccia and Eliza Collins, “Biden Signs $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill Into Law,” Wall Street Journal, November 15, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/biden-infrastructure-bill-signing-11636997814; Tony Romm, Marianna Sotomayor, and Mike DeBonis, “Congress approves $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, sending measure to Biden for enactment,” Washington Post, November 6, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/11/05/house-infrastructure-reconciliation-vote/; Marianna Sotomayor, Paul Kane, and Josh Dawsey, “Tensions rise among Republicans over infrastructure bill and whether any agreement with Biden should be tolerated,” Washington Post, November 9, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/republicans-infrastructure-biden/2021/11/09/cc0c4c9e-4167-11ec-9ea7-3eb2406a2e24_story.html
  7. [7]Tony Romm, “Manchin says he ‘cannot vote’ for Democrats’ $2 trillion spending package, drawing sharp White House rebuke,” Washington Post, December 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/12/19/manchin-build-back-better-biden/; Sean Sullivan and Seung Min Kim, “From charm offensive to scorched earth: How Biden’s fragile alliance with Manchin unraveled,” Washington Post, December 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/manchin-biden-alliance-rift/2021/12/19/674b6e02-60e3-11ec-a7e8-3a8455b71fad_story.html; Alex Thompson, Tina Sfondeles, and Max Tani, “Rage of the left-wing machine,” Politico, December 20, 2021, https://www.politico.com/newsletters/west-wing-playbook/2021/12/20/rage-of-the-left-wing-machine-495528
  8. [8]David Benfell, “When politics are more important than the country,” Not Housebroken, November 10, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/11/10/when-politics-are-more-important-than-the-country/
  9. [9]Elana Schor, “Magical thinking vs. Manchin,” Politico, December 20, 2021, https://www.politico.com/newsletters/politico-nightly/2021/12/20/magical-thinking-vs-manchin-495524

You know what? Trumpists are becoming a real problem. Even more than I thought.

There are two new blog posts today:


Pandemic

I take up the question of “honest misinformation” in the pandemic in a new blog post entitled, “The COVID-19 anti-vaccination double standard.”

British Broadcasting Corporation, “Anti-5G necklaces found to be radioactive,” December 17, 2021, https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-59703523

Stacey Burling, “COVID-19 may have killed people who never tested positive for the virus, NJ report finds,” Philadelphia Inquirer, December 17, 2021, https://www.inquirer.com/health/coronavirus/covid-deaths-hospitalizations-new-jersey-home-heart-attacks-stroke-20211217.html

Ann E. Marimow, “Appeals court reinstates Biden’s vaccine policy for businesses, setting up a likely showdown at Supreme Court,” Washington Post, December 17, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/12/17/biden-vaccine-mandate-private-companies/

Paul Waldman, “The red covid wave is here,” Washington Post, December 17, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/12/17/red-covid-wave-is-here/

Ed White, “Hits ‘keep coming’: Hospitals struggle as COVID beds fill,” Associated Press, December 18, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-health-detroit-nebraska-kansas-5e98f09c578a231be1411516e9dfff58

Ellen Francis and Meryl Kornfield, “New York coronavirus cases hit record high for second straight day as omicron upends holiday plans,” Washington Post, December 18, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/12/18/new-york-coronavirus-cases-record-rockettes/

Chico Harlan, “Highly vaccinated countries thought they were over the worst. Denmark says the pandemic’s toughest month is just beginning,” Washington Post, December 18, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/12/18/omicron-variant-denmark/


Infrastructure

Michael C. Bender, Andrew Duehren, and Lindsay Wise, “Sen. Joe Manchin Says He Won’t Vote for ‘Build Back Better’ Bill in Blow to President Biden,” Wall Street Journal, December 19, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/manchin-says-he-won-t-vote-for-build-back-better-bill-11639924048


Slow-walking Texas

Abortion

The Supreme Court is slow-walking the Texas case[1] in which I think they will ultimately strike down the Texas law because, as Brett Kavanaugh pointed out, allowing its novel approach to enforcement against abortion would enable, for example, California to do the same thing with guns,[2] which is precisely what the latter state’s governor has indicated he intends to do.[3] I’m convinced they’re just waiting to overturn or severely curtail Roe v. Wade with the Mississippi case,[4] before striking down Texas’ enforcement mechanism. In the meantime, the Texas law serves their purpose, so they let it stand while letting challenges work their way through lower courts.[5]

Mark Sherman, “Supreme Court returns Texas abortion case to appeals court,” Associated Press, December 17, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/health-texas-lawsuits-neil-gorsuch-d74dbd6deb60e7e9cd1777328c03dee5


Pandemic

Among the conspiracy theories I’ve heard in my car from Uber passengers is the claim that 5G causes COVID-19.[6] So yes, I absolutely had to laugh when I saw that “[n]ecklaces and accessories claiming to ‘protect’ people from 5G mobile networks have been found to be radioactive.”[7] Honestly, these people fully deserve the horrible deaths that COVID-19 is capable of producing[8] and, as medical systems are again swamped and medical staff are burning out,[9] vaccine-refusers must absolutely be denied medical care, because this is unfair to medical workers and it is unfair to everyone else who needs care.[10]

Paul Waldman wishes to correct me. He seems to think, without offering supporting evidence, that some people are honestly misinformed[11] but the only way we’re getting out of this pandemic is with vaccination, because unvaccinated people are opportunities for the virus to mutate, producing new variants that endanger us all,[12] and even those who have been infected can be reinfected,[13] reproducing the danger. It’s amply clear, as indeed Waldman himself has repeatedly conceded, that many Republicans are refusing to be vaccinated, prolonging the pandemic and endangering even vaccinated people.[14]

So here’s what it’s coming down to: Either they die or we all die. And that’s true whether they’re honestly misinformed or not.

British Broadcasting Corporation, “Anti-5G necklaces found to be radioactive,” December 17, 2021, https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-59703523

Stacey Burling, “COVID-19 may have killed people who never tested positive for the virus, NJ report finds,” Philadelphia Inquirer, December 17, 2021, https://www.inquirer.com/health/coronavirus/covid-deaths-hospitalizations-new-jersey-home-heart-attacks-stroke-20211217.html

Ann E. Marimow, “Appeals court reinstates Biden’s vaccine policy for businesses, setting up a likely showdown at Supreme Court,” Washington Post, December 17, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/12/17/biden-vaccine-mandate-private-companies/

Paul Waldman, “The red covid wave is here,” Washington Post, December 17, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/12/17/red-covid-wave-is-here/

Ed White, “Hits ‘keep coming’: Hospitals struggle as COVID beds fill,” Associated Press, December 18, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-health-detroit-nebraska-kansas-5e98f09c578a231be1411516e9dfff58


Militia

Christy E. Lopez, “Beware the extremist, dangerous and unconstitutional ‘constitutional sheriffs,’” Washington Post, December 17, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/12/17/constitutional-sheriffs-extremist-dangerous-unconstitutional/


White supremacist gangsWhite supremacist gangs

Pittsburgh white supremacist gangsters (police) killed Jim Rogers on October 14.[15] The investigation is still unresolved, two months later,[16] and a month after the Allegheny County district attorney said it had been dragging on too long.[17]

Look, I get that an investigation isn’t over until it’s over. But I’m thinking of what I saw with the San Francisco white supremacist gangsters, who basically did whatever the fuck they wanted. And I’m thinking I’m seeing the same fucking thing here.

Julia Felton, “Proposal to stop Pittsburgh police from making minor traffic stops moves forward,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 16, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/proposal-to-stop-pittsburgh-police-from-making-minor-traffic-stops-moves-forward/

Julia Felton and Paula Reed Ward, “Family of man who died after being tased by Pittsburgh police calls for charges against officers,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 17, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/family-of-man-who-died-after-being-tased-by-pittsburgh-police-call-for-charges-against-officers/

Christy E. Lopez, “Beware the extremist, dangerous and unconstitutional ‘constitutional sheriffs,’” Washington Post, December 17, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/12/17/constitutional-sheriffs-extremist-dangerous-unconstitutional/


Ukraine

Julia Ioffe, “Putin’s Post-Trump Tantrum,” Puck News, December 17, 2021, https://puck.news/putins-post-trump-tantrum/

Andrew Roth, David Blood, and Niels de Hoog, “Russia-Ukraine crisis: where are Putin’s troops and what are his options?” Guardian, December 17, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/dec/17/russia-ukraine-crisis-putin-troops-visual-guide-explainer


Minoritarian rule

Kate Huangpu and Angela Couloumbis, “Democrats could make sizeable gains in Pennsylvania legislature under proposed new maps,” Spotlight PA, December 16, 2021, https://www.spotlightpa.org/news/2021/12/pennsylvania-redistricting-state-house-senate-maps/

Jonathan Lai et al., “Is the new Pa. House map better for Democrats or Republicans? We tested it,” Philadelphia Inquirer, December 16, 2021, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/inq2/pennsylvania-redistricting-2022-state-house-map-analysis-20211216.html

Larry Hogan, “Mr. Garland, Please Sue My State,” Wall Street Journal, December 17, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/merrick-garland-please-sue-my-state-maryland-larry-hogan-texas-gerrymandering-voting-rights-11639757168


Donald Trump

Dana Milbank, “‘We are closer to civil war than any of us would like to believe,’ new study says,” Washington Post, December 17, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/12/17/how-civil-wars-start-barbara-walter-research/


Gig work

Jeong Park, “Sacramento family wants answers, support from Uber after man’s killing in San Francisco,” Sacramento Bee, December 18, 2021, https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article256688502.html


  1. [1]Mark Sherman, “Supreme Court returns Texas abortion case to appeals court,” Associated Press, December 17, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/health-texas-lawsuits-neil-gorsuch-d74dbd6deb60e7e9cd1777328c03dee5
  2. [2]Robert Barnes, “Supreme Court seems willing to allow challenge of Texas’s restrictive abortion law,” Washington Post, November 1, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/texas-abortion-supreme-court/2021/11/01/548c7ea2-3b0c-11ec-bfad-8283439871ec_story.html; John Bowden, “Kavanaugh flags a major catch in Texas anti-abortion law for conservative gun owners,” Independent, November 2, 2021, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/kavanaugh-supreme-court-texas-abortion-b1949460.html; Irin Carmon, “The Texas Abortion Ban Could Lose at the Supreme Court,” New York, November 1, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/11/texas-abortion-ban-could-lose-at-the-supreme-court.html; Jordan Smith, “Texas Admits Its Abortion Law Puts All Rights Up for Grabs,” Intercept, November 2, 2021, https://theintercept.com/2021/11/02/abortion-texas-sb8-supreme-court/
  3. [3]Sophia Bollag, “Gavin Newsom calls for bill modeled on Texas abortion ban to crack down on gun manufacturers,” Sacramento Bee, December 11, 2021, https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article256524466.html
  4. [4]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; 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; 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; 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
  5. [5]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; Robert Barnes, “Supreme Court seems willing to allow challenge of Texas’s restrictive abortion law,” Washington Post, November 1, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/texas-abortion-supreme-court/2021/11/01/548c7ea2-3b0c-11ec-bfad-8283439871ec_story.html; Ann E. Marimow, “Appeals court reinstates Texas’s six-week abortion ban, two days after it was lifted,” Washington Post, October 8, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/texas-appeals-abortion-ruling/2021/10/08/56b9fe9e-2774-11ec-8831-a31e7b3de188_story.html; Ann E. Marimow, “Texas abortion ban remains in effect after appeals court rules against Justice Dept.,” Washington Post, October 14, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/texas-abortion-appeal/2021/10/14/de27beda-2c82-11ec-985d-3150f7e106b2_story.html
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Doubting the ‘Fox News bubble,’” Not Housebroken, April 28, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/07/doubting-the-fox-news-bubble/; Stephan Lewandowsky et al., “The COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Handbook,” HackMD, December 6, 2021, https://hackmd.io/@scibehC19vax/home
  7. [7]British Broadcasting Corporation, “Anti-5G necklaces found to be radioactive,” December 17, 2021, https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-59703523
  8. [8]Maria Godoy, “How COVID-19 Kills: The New Coronavirus Disease Can Take A Deadly Turn,” National Public Radio, March 17, 2020, https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/02/14/805289669/how-covid-19-kills-the-new-coronavirus-disease-can-take-a-deadly-turn; Tobias Großekemper, “The Violence of the Fourth Wave: ‘One Thing We Have Learned Is that COVID Is an Asshole,’” Spiegel, November 19, 2021, https://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/the-violence-of-the-fourth-wave-one-thing-we-have-learned-is-that-covid-is-an-asshole-a-9da60dbf-6311-472a-9fdf-60a6442b1235; “ICU is full of the unvaccinated – my patience with them is wearing thin,” Guardian, November 21, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/nov/21/icu-is-full-of-the-unvaccinated-my-patience-with-them-is-wearing-thin
  9. [9]Ed White, “Hits ‘keep coming’: Hospitals struggle as COVID beds fill,” Associated Press, December 18, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-health-detroit-nebraska-kansas-5e98f09c578a231be1411516e9dfff58
  10. [10]David Benfell, “What we owe anti-vaxxers in a life-threatening pandemic,” Not Housebroken, November 19, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/09/28/what-we-owe-anti-vaxxers-in-a-life-threatening-pandemic/
  11. [11]Paul Waldman, “The red covid wave is here,” Washington Post, December 17, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/12/17/red-covid-wave-is-here/
  12. [12]Joel Achenbach, “New study on delta variant reveals importance of receiving both vaccine shots, highlights challenges posed by mutations,” Washington Post, July 8, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/delta-variant-vaccines/2021/07/08/05b1bc5e-df75-11eb-ae31-6b7c5c34f0d6_story.html; Maggie Fox, “Unvaccinated people are ‘variant factories,’ infectious diseases expert says,” CNN, July 3, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/03/health/unvaccinated-variant-factories/index.html
  13. [13]Linda Geddes, “Without Covid-19 jab, ‘reinfection may occur every 16 months,’” Guardian, October 19, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/oct/19/without-covid-19-jab-reinfection-may-occur-every-16-months-say-scientists
  14. [14]Max Boot, “Republicans are preventing America from reaching Biden’s vaccination goal,” Washington Post, July 6, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/07/06/republican-antivaxxers-biden-vaccination-goal/; Philip Bump, “A third of White conservatives refuse to get vaccinated — a refusal shown in polling and the real world,” Washington Post, July 6, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/07/06/third-white-conservatives-refuse-get-vaccine-refusal-shown-both-polling-real-world/; Dan Diamond, Hannah Knowles, and Tyler Pager, “Vaccine hesitancy morphs into hostility, as opposition to shots hardens,” Washington Post, July 15, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/covid-vaccines-biden-trump/2021/07/15/adaf6c7e-e4bd-11eb-a41e-c8442c213fa8_story.html; Ron Kampeas, “In latest Nazi analogy, Marjorie Taylor Greene invokes ‘medical brown shirts’ in decrying vaccination outreach,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, July 7, 2021, https://www.jta.org/quick-reads/in-latest-nazi-analogy-marjorie-taylor-greene-invokes-medical-brown-shirts-in-decrying-vaccination-outreach; Dhruv Khullar, “One half of America is protected. The other is approaching a perilous moment in the pandemic,” New Yorker, June 23, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/science/medical-dispatch/the-delta-variant-is-a-grave-danger-to-the-unvaccinated; Ed Kilgore, “The Willfully Unvaccinated Are the Newest Republican Martyrs,” New York, July 13, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/07/the-willfully-unvaccinated-are-the-newest-republican-martyrs.html; Grace Panetta, “GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert calls Biden’s door-to-door vaccinators ‘needle Nazis,’” Yahoo! News, July 8, 2021, https://news.yahoo.com/gop-rep-lauren-boebert-calls-130015902.html; Ed Pilkington and Lauren Aratani, “US seeing ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated’ as cases rise in every state,” Guardian, July 16, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/16/covid-19-us-delta-variant-unvaccinated; Greg Sargent, “A vile new Trump-GOP claim about vaccines suggests trouble ahead,” Washington Post, July 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/07/19/vile-new-trump-gop-claim-about-vaccines-suggests-trouble-ahead/; Paul Waldman, “Right-wing anti-vaccine hysteria is increasing. We’ll all pay the price,” Washington Post, July 8, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/07/08/right-wing-anti-vaccine-hysteria-is-increasing-well-all-pay-price/; Paul Waldman, “The red covid wave is here,” Washington Post, December 17, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/12/17/red-covid-wave-is-here/
  15. [15]Patrick Varine, “Protesters block Grant Street, demand prosecution in Jim Rogers’ death,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 12, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/protestors-block-grant-street-demand-prosecution-in-jim-rogers-death/
  16. [16]Julia Felton and Paula Reed Ward, “Family of man who died after being tased by Pittsburgh police calls for charges against officers,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 17, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/family-of-man-who-died-after-being-tased-by-pittsburgh-police-call-for-charges-against-officers/
  17. [17]Patrick Varine, “Protesters block Grant Street, demand prosecution in Jim Rogers’ death,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 12, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/protestors-block-grant-street-demand-prosecution-in-jim-rogers-death/

Establishment Democrats collaborated with Establishment Republicans to defeat a Democratic Socialist mayoral candidate in Buffalo, but the mainstream media were maliciously complicit


But of course the Democrats will. Because the only things they actually produce with any regularity are excuses.


Ukraine

Andrew Roth, David Blood, and Niels de Hoog, “Russia-Ukraine crisis: where are Putin’s troops and what are his options?” Guardian, December 17, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/dec/17/russia-ukraine-crisis-putin-troops-visual-guide-explainer


Roman-Catholic Church

Nicole Winfield, “Pope at 85: No more Mr Nice Guy, as reform hits stride,” Associated Press, December 17, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-pope-francis-health-religion-europe-2f733bf842c499eab9f06a48363a68df


Minoritarian rule

The proposed Pennsylvania gerrymander for the state House of Representatives favors Republicans, but not as much as the existing one, and against a political geography that favors Republicans.[1] Republicans complain, with some justification, that the gerrymander now tilts Democratic.[2]

The maps are “drafted and approved by the Legislative Reapportionment Commission, a five-person panel made up of the four top legislative leaders from both parties and a nonpartisan chairperson selected by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.”[3]

Kate Huangpu and Angela Couloumbis, “Democrats could make sizeable gains in Pennsylvania legislature under proposed new maps,” Spotlight PA, December 16, 2021, https://www.spotlightpa.org/news/2021/12/pennsylvania-redistricting-state-house-senate-maps/

Jonathan Lai et al., “Is the new Pa. House map better for Democrats or Republicans? We tested it,” Philadelphia Inquirer, December 16, 2021, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/inq2/pennsylvania-redistricting-2022-state-house-map-analysis-20211216.html


Migration

John Leicester and Daniel Cole, “Afghans push through snowy Alps toward new lives in Europe,” Associated Press, December 17, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/afghanistan-immigration-migration-italy-kabul-02613cb26351c9249c27ee20f5d1681f


Opioids

Brendan Pierson, Mike Spector, and Maria Chutchian, “U.S. judge tosses $4.5 bln deal shielding Sacklers from opioid lawsuits,” Reuters, December 17, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/business/judge-tosses-deal-shielding-purdues-sackler-family-opioid-claims-2021-12-17/


Renay Mandel Corren

There is a new blog entry entitled, “An unconventional obituary.”

Andy Corren, “Renay Mandel Corren,” Fayetteville Observer, December 15, 2021, https://www.fayobserver.com/obituaries/m0028451


‘Objective’ journalism

India Walton, the Democratic Socialist candidate for mayor in Buffalo, New York, who having won the Democratic nomination, was defeated by the incumbent in a write-in campaign, may have been done in not only by Republican and Democratic Party establishment collusion,[4] but as well by journalistic hit jobs:[5]

Such stories “captured why it is nearly impossible for an ordinary person, let alone a working-class Black woman, to run for public office,” wrote Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, who profiled Walton’s campaign for The New Yorker ahead of the election. The Buffalo News article “never questioned whether a landlord might harass a woman who, at the time, was one of the most prominent opponents of the city’s rising rents,” Taylor wrote. “It also devoted seven paragraphs to the criminal record of Walton’s male friend, impugning her by association.” Taylor also rounded up details of investigations into Brown’s administration, and termed the allegations against Walton “petty” by comparison.[6]

Feven Merid, “India Walton, and how we cover progressives,” Columbia Journalism Review, December 17, 2021, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/india-walton-progressive-candidates-local-news.php


Pandemic

Stacey Burling, “COVID-19 may have killed people who never tested positive for the virus, NJ report finds,” Philadelphia Inquirer, December 17, 2021, https://www.inquirer.com/health/coronavirus/covid-deaths-hospitalizations-new-jersey-home-heart-attacks-stroke-20211217.html


  1. [1]Jonathan Lai et al., “Is the new Pa. House map better for Democrats or Republicans? We tested it,” Philadelphia Inquirer, December 16, 2021, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/inq2/pennsylvania-redistricting-2022-state-house-map-analysis-20211216.html
  2. [2]Kate Huangpu and Angela Couloumbis, “Democrats could make sizeable gains in Pennsylvania legislature under proposed new maps,” Spotlight PA, December 16, 2021, https://www.spotlightpa.org/news/2021/12/pennsylvania-redistricting-state-house-senate-maps/
  3. [3]Kate Huangpu and Angela Couloumbis, “Democrats could make sizeable gains in Pennsylvania legislature under proposed new maps,” Spotlight PA, December 16, 2021, https://www.spotlightpa.org/news/2021/12/pennsylvania-redistricting-state-house-senate-maps/
  4. [4]Raina Lipsitz, “The Democratic Plot to Stop a Socialist From Becoming Buffalo’s Mayor,” New Republic, November 9, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/164319/bryon-brown-india-walton-paladino
  5. [5]Feven Merid, “India Walton, and how we cover progressives,” Columbia Journalism Review, December 17, 2021, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/india-walton-progressive-candidates-local-news.php
  6. [6]Feven Merid, “India Walton, and how we cover progressives,” Columbia Journalism Review, December 17, 2021, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/india-walton-progressive-candidates-local-news.php

The diminishing risk of defiance

Donald Trump

Text in the last entry has been moved, edited, and expanded in a new blog post entitled, “How much does Donald Trump’s profanity against Binyamin Netanyahu matter?

I’m pretty sure and I’m pretty sure that a lot of other people must be thinking that, as Donald Trump’s prospects for the 2024 election improve and as Republican prospects for taking over the House of Representatives in 2022 improve, that subjects of the January 6 investigation will be further emboldened to resist the committee. A Republican takeover would likely end the committee altogether[1] and Trump will have pardon power and has demonstrated a proclivity for using it.

Times of Israel, “Don’t make us choose — you or Israel: Evangelical warns Trump over Netanyahu rift,” December 15, 2021, https://www.timesofisrael.com/dont-make-us-choose-between-you-and-israel-evangelical-warns-trump-over-bibi-rift/

David Rohde, “Is There a Smoking Gun in the January 6th Investigation?” New Yorker, December 15, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/is-there-a-smoking-gun-in-the-january-6th-investigation

Matt Zapotosky, “Meadows referral creates new legal, political challenge for Garland and DOJ,” Washington Post, December 15, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/meadows-garland-trump-justice/2021/12/15/9c7e8508-5db1-11ec-8665-aed48580f911_story.html


Pittsburgh

Vegan restaurants

Franktuary is a vegan-friendly restaurant. It’s closing, but apparently D’s Six Pax and Dogz is back open after a long hiatus.[2]

Paul Guggenheimer, “Franktuary becomes latest Pittsburgh hot dog shop to close,” Pittsburgh-Tribune Review, December 16, 2021, https://triblive.com/lifestyles/food-drink/franktuary-becomes-latest-pittsburgh-hot-dog-shop-to-close/

White supremacist gangs

A proposal to stop Pittsburgh police from making traffic stops for minor and secondary violations[3] has been refined and will soon be ready for a final vote.[4] I have endorsed this measure with some reluctance.[5] In present form:

The legislation, introduced by City Councilman Ricky Burgess in early November, would prohibit police from pulling over a motorist for minor, secondary offenses, such as:

  • Having a burned-out brake light or headlight.
  • Having an improperly placed license plate or temporary tag, as long as it visible.
  • If their registration, inspection sticker or emissions sticker was expired by less than two months.[6]

Julia Felton, “Proposal to stop Pittsburgh police from making minor traffic stops moves forward,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 16, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/proposal-to-stop-pittsburgh-police-from-making-minor-traffic-stops-moves-forward/


Pennsylvania

Evictions

Gotta tell you, I’m not hearing about very many programs like Philadelphia’s to avoid evictions, even if “[t]he federal government has cited the program as a model for other cities.”[7]

Michaelle Bond, “Philly’s program that prevents evictions will continue through 2022,” Philadelphia Inquirer, December 16, 2021, https://www.inquirer.com/real-estate/housing/rental-assistance-philadelphia-eviction-diversion-20211216.html


Abortion

The Food and Drug Administration action to ease access to mifepristone does not supercede state-level restrictions. Prescribers will still have to register with manufacturers and stock the drug themselves.[8]

Laurie McGinley and Katie Shepherd, “FDA eliminates key restriction on abortion pill as Supreme Court weighs case that challenges Roe v. Wade,” Washington Post, December 16, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/12/16/abortion-pill-fda/


Pandemic

Mark Honigsbaum details a history of vaccine refusal, even dating to its predecessors in the 18th century, and notes that modern anti-vaxxer claims are unfalsifiable, a key requirement for positivist truth. What’s curious is that having documented a history of relentless resistance, he concludes, “Perhaps we have reached the limits of empiricism. Perhaps the time for reasoning with anti-vaxxers is over.”[9] I agree.[10]

Lolita C. Baldor, “Navy Commander Fired After Refusing to Get COVID Vaccine,” Military.com, December 11, 2021, https://www.military.com/daily-news/2021/12/11/navy-commander-fired-after-refusing-get-covid-vaccine.html

Associated Press, “US air force discharges 27 service members for refusing Covid vaccine,” Guardian, December 13, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/dec/13/us-air-force-discharges-27-service-members-for-refusing-covid-vaccine

Mark Honigsbaum, “The Deep Roots of Vaccine Hesitancy,” New York Review of Books, December 14, 2021, https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2021/12/14/the-deep-roots-of-vaccine-hesitancy/

Heather Hollingsworth, “US COVID death toll hits 800,000, a year into vaccine drive,” Associated Press, December 15, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-health-united-states-41fd85092ef5571515afbb923b8a06ef

Lolita C. Baldor, “Across services, troops face discipline for refusing vaccine,” Sacramento Bee, December 16, 2021, https://www.sacbee.com/news/article256645827.html


Climate crisis

Maria L. La Ganga, Gabrielle LaMarr LeMee and Ian James, “A frenzy of well drilling by California farmers leaves taps running dry,” Los Angeles Times, December 16, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/projects/california-farms-water-wells-drought/


Democrats’ list of shame

I now have a URL for the climate crisis:

  1. [1]Matt Ford, “The Dark Side of Steve Bannon’s Contempt Case,” New Republic, November 17, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/164444/steve-bannon-contempt-january-6; Quinta Jurecic, “Why the January 6 Investigation Is Weirdly Static,” Atlantic, December 11, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/12/january-6-committee-investigation/620973/; Daniel Strauss, “It’s Officially Time to Start Worrying About the January 6 Committee,” New Republic, December 9, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/164672/january-6-committee-meadows-pence
  2. [2]Paul Guggenheimer, “Franktuary becomes latest Pittsburgh hot dog shop to close,” Pittsburgh-Tribune Review, December 16, 2021, https://triblive.com/lifestyles/food-drink/franktuary-becomes-latest-pittsburgh-hot-dog-shop-to-close/
  3. [3]Julia Felton, “Proposal would prevent Pittsburgh police from pulling over drivers for minor, secondary violations,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 8, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/proposal-would-prevent-pittsburgh-police-from-pulling-over-drivers-for-minor-secondary-violations/
  4. [4]Julia Felton, “Proposal to stop Pittsburgh police from making minor traffic stops moves forward,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 16, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/proposal-to-stop-pittsburgh-police-from-making-minor-traffic-stops-moves-forward/
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Will Pittsburgh deprive its white supremacist gangs of one tool for harassing the poor, especially of color?” Not Housebroken, November 9, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/11/09/will-pittsburgh-deprive-its-white-supremacist-gangs-of-one-tool-for-harassing-the-poor-especially-of-color/
  6. [6]Julia Felton, “Proposal to stop Pittsburgh police from making minor traffic stops moves forward,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 16, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/proposal-to-stop-pittsburgh-police-from-making-minor-traffic-stops-moves-forward/
  7. [7]Michaelle Bond, “Philly’s program that prevents evictions will continue through 2022,” Philadelphia Inquirer, December 16, 2021, https://www.inquirer.com/real-estate/housing/rental-assistance-philadelphia-eviction-diversion-20211216.html
  8. [8]Laurie McGinley and Katie Shepherd, “FDA eliminates key restriction on abortion pill as Supreme Court weighs case that challenges Roe v. Wade,” Washington Post, December 16, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/12/16/abortion-pill-fda/
  9. [9]Mark Honigsbaum, “The Deep Roots of Vaccine Hesitancy,” New York Review of Books, December 14, 2021, https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2021/12/14/the-deep-roots-of-vaccine-hesitancy/
  10. [10]David Benfell, “What we owe anti-vaxxers in a life-threatening pandemic,” Not Housebroken, November 19, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/09/28/what-we-owe-anti-vaxxers-in-a-life-threatening-pandemic/
  11. [11]Chris Arnold, “Evictions rising even as rental help from Congress reaches millions of people,” National Public Radio, November 11, 2021, https://www.npr.org/2021/11/11/1053540080/evictions-rising-even-as-rental-help-from-congress-reaches-millions-of-people

Erie better than expected

See update for December 16, 2021, under the Donald Trump heading.


I did better than I expected in Erie. A lot better. This argues for a move up there in some form. But it’s possible I simply got lucky today; this experience will have to be repeated.

The neighborhoods that have houses I can afford a down payment on are probably not neighborhoods I want to move into. One passenger explained that one of them is actually okay—and well patrolled—but I think the noise level there will be higher than I like.

In the five years I have been driving for Uber and Lyft, I have never heard as many serious complaints about other drivers in a single day as I did today. One driver was allegedly drunk and drinking in the car. Another launched into a misogynist tirade. According to these accounts, both drivers refused to let their passengers end the trip early and police had to intervene in both. I’m of course only hearing one side of these stories; if I misjudge their veracity, I could find myself on the wrong end of a similar complaint.

One of the aforementioned complaining passengers hates Erie. She says there’s a lot of anti-Semitism there. We were comparing notes; I told her of the racism in Pittsburgh but—oops—forgot to mention the Tree of Life shooting. She prefers Pittsburgh. I think I prefer Erie.

It’s clear the place is, on the whole, a more progressive place than Pittsburgh. I saw a number of rainbow flags, including at the café I got breakfast at and a few Black Lives Matter signs. I saw precisely one Trump yard sign, which definitely looked the worse for wear, and graffiti in one railroad trestle that said “Let’s Go Brandon.” One passenger today thought COVID-19 is all political.

The roads are still far better than in Pittsburgh. The navigation is far easier; Erie is mostly on a grid system. Other drivers are nowhere near as obnoxious, though they absolutely do not do the Pittsburgh Left, which caught me out a couple times because I’m becoming accustomed to offering it to other drivers. It was definitely unexpected.

There are a couple of colleges in Erie; I’m told a lot of the Uber business is ferrying college kids to get drunk and, presumably, do other stupid stuff. I generally try to avoid drunks.

In general, my preparation for this trip was fine, in part because of redundancy I keep with me anyway. Considering I haven’t traveled since I moved to Pittsburgh, well over two years ago, this is a bit of a surprise. I might have taken along a windbreaker for the cold but the truth is that I simply wasn’t out in it that much; most of my time was either in heated indoors or inside my heated car.

I am not yet caught up on today’s news.


Donald Trump

The text formerly here has been moved, edited, and expanded in a new blog post entitled, “How much does Donald Trump’s profanity against Binyamin Netanyahu matter?

Times of Israel, “Don’t make us choose — you or Israel: Evangelical warns Trump over Netanyahu rift,” December 15, 2021, https://www.timesofisrael.com/dont-make-us-choose-between-you-and-israel-evangelical-warns-trump-over-bibi-rift/


Erie

I would not be the first by any means to observe that the failings of government are turned against it, supporting either a neoliberal quest to trim government as inherently wasteful and inefficient or a general authoritarian populist spite for all it considers “elite,” including journalists, including academics.

My mom sent me an email telling me that her cousin had visited Pittsburgh for a reunion and sworn never to return because the roads are so bad. I found this email just as I was about to leave for Erie and spent the entire drive struck by how the failings of government in Pittsburgh, the criminally neglected potholes, brick streets, and cobblestone streets that destroy cars; the failure to address poverty, blight, and racism; the apparent corruption of the snowplowing operation in which neighborhoods might go two weeks without seeing a snowplow, as Carrick did last winter;[1] the interminable and unexplained roadwork projects that progress remarkably unevenly and that so many think contractors milk for every last penny; the appalling traffic congestion that supposedly “smart” traffic signals[2] do so little to ameliorate, might yield the incredible toxicity I have seen there.

“It is what it is,” I have heard so often since I arrived in Pittsburgh, an apparent acquiescence to so much that is wrong there, and yet, I wonder, perhaps sublimating a profound despair and, I have to say, well-earned disgust. In places like Pittsburgh, especially when, as Pittsburgh is, run by Democrats, it can only help the likes of Donald Trump.

I’m realizing I really need to get out of Pittsburgh.

My mom also warned me again about Erie weather. She’s right, but not for the reasons I expected.

To deal with the obvious, Erie is situated on the shore of Lake Erie. It is reputedly the snowiest city in Pennsylvania,[3] due, I assume, to lake effect. There’s no snow on the ground at the moment and the temperature is not much lower than in Pittsburgh. But it feels much colder.

Some of this might be wind. I didn’t feel this so much walking to my car or from it to the café where I’ve managed to find a vegan breakfast but as I look out the window I see some movement in the trees indicating some significant gusts.

I think the rest of it might be the humidity, again from the lake.

I’m getting out early. This will throw off the comparison with Pittsburgh in Uber driving.


Confederacy

Colin Deppen, “Pennsylvania revises Confederate markers, recasts forces as “enemy” soldiers,” Philadelphia Inquirer, December 14, 2021, https://www.inquirer.com/news/pennsylvania/spl/pennsylvania-20211214.html


Pandemic

Pandemic

Jeff Himler, “Covid cases create ‘desperate’ situation at Westmoreland hospitals,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 14, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/covid-cases-create-desperate-situation-at-westmoreland-hospitals/

(Inter)national

Heather Hollingsworth, “US COVID death toll hits 800,000, a year into vaccine drive,” Associated Press, December 15, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-health-united-states-41fd85092ef5571515afbb923b8a06ef


  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]Henry Williams, “Artificial Intelligence May Make Traffic Congestion a Thing of the Past,” Wall Street Journal, June 26, 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/artificial-intelligence-may-make-traffic-congestion-a-thing-of-the-past-1530043151
  3. [3]Beth Price-Williams, “Take A Look At Life Inside Erie, The Snowiest Town In Pennsylvania,” Only in Your State, November 12, 2021, https://www.onlyinyourstate.com/pennsylvania/snowiest-town-pa/

Lots of people died. Just not so many at a candle factory.

I will be in Erie tonight. Tomorrow, I’ll begin an experiment to see just how bad business is up there. I know how awful it is here in Pittsburgh already. I know what it was like last Wednesday. I’ll know what it was like today. If it isn’t any worse, I may return for additional such visits in January and February. But if it is, then I’ll have to abandon any hope of moving to Erie for as long as I’m stuck being an Uber/Lyft driver.


Climate crisis

It appears many missing people presumed dead at a Kentucky candle factory have now been found safe:

Initially as many as 70 people were feared dead in the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory, but the company said Sunday that eight deaths were confirmed and eight people remained missing, while more than 90 others had been located. Bob Ferguson, a spokesman for the company, said many employees gathered in a tornado shelter, then left the site and were hard to reach because phone service was out.[1]

It was hoped the death toll in Kentucky “might be as low as 50,”[2] but 74 are now confirmed dead in Kentucky with a storm total confirmed total of 88.[3] I am still waiting for other uncertainties noted in the previous update,[4] including whether this was one tornado or several, to be ironed out. What is already known is that this was an exceptional event in many ways. Whether it is exceptional in even more ways remains to be seen.[5]

Valerie Bauerlein, “Tornado Death Toll Rises to 88, Including 74 Dead in Kentucky,” Wall Street Journal, December 13, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/kentucky-puts-current-death-toll-from-tornadoes-at-64-11639410110

Sarah Kaplan, “Crucial Antarctic ice shelf could fail within five years, scientists say,” Washington Post, December 13, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/12/13/thwaites-glacier-melt-antarctica/

Bruce Schreiner and Claire Galofaro, “Thousands without heat, water after tornadoes kill dozens,” Associated Press, December 13, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/tornadoes-business-arkansas-kentucky-mayfield-b6ef6a901cc2e4552e760a36c749937c

Washington Post, “The record-breaking tornadoes that swept the United States, by the numbers,” December 13, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/12/13/tornado-mayfield-kentucky-amazon/


Joe Manchin

Michael Kranish and Anna Phillips, “Manchin cites a blind trust to justify climate votes. But much income from his family’s coal company isn’t covered,” Washington Post, December 13, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/12/13/manchin-blind-trust-enersystems-stock-climate-change/


Atheism

Dan Piraro delves into the limits of what we can and can’t know about what positivists would properly regard as epistemologically dubious and manages to touch on syncretism, a process in which a colonizing religion superimposes itself on indigenous practices, in the process. It’s a pretty good response[6] to those atheists who make the mistake of presuming that because we can’t prove something exists, it therefore must not.[7]

Dan Piraro, “Changing Channels,” Bizarro, December 13, 2021, https://www.bizarro.com/blog/2021/12/13/changingchannels


Donald Trump

There is a new blog post entitled, “Trumpism, Donald Trump, the January 6 coup attempt, and a smoking gun that may never be found.”

Emma Brown et al., “Election denier who circulated Jan. 6 PowerPoint says he met with Meadows at White House,” Washington Post, December 11, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/phil-waldron-mark-meadows-powerpoint/2021/12/11/4ea67938-59df-11ec-9a18-a506cf3aa31d_story.html

Quinta Jurecic, “Why the January 6 Investigation Is Weirdly Static,” Atlantic, December 11, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/12/january-6-committee-investigation/620973/

Greg Sargent, “Mark Meadows’s coverup of Trump’s coup attempt is falling apart,” Washington Post, December 13, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/12/13/mark-meadows-jan-6-committee-contempt-coverup/


Pandemic

Konstantin Toropin, “Oklahoma Guard Leader Tells Vaccine Refusers to Prepare for ‘Career Ending Federal Action,’” Military.com, December 10, 2021, https://www.military.com/daily-news/2021/12/10/oklahoma-guard-leader-tells-vaccine-refusers-prepare-career-ending-federal-action.html

Lolita C. Baldor, “Navy Commander Fired After Refusing to Get COVID Vaccine,” Military.com, December 11, 2021, https://www.military.com/daily-news/2021/12/11/navy-commander-fired-after-refusing-get-covid-vaccine.html

Associated Press, “US air force discharges 27 service members for refusing Covid vaccine,” Guardian, December 13, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/dec/13/us-air-force-discharges-27-service-members-for-refusing-covid-vaccine


  1. [1]Bruce Schreiner and Claire Galofaro, “Thousands without heat, water after tornadoes kill dozens,” Associated Press, December 13, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/tornadoes-business-arkansas-kentucky-mayfield-b6ef6a901cc2e4552e760a36c749937c
  2. [2]Bruce Schreiner and Dylan Lovan, “Tornado toll in dozens, yet not as high as initially feared,” Associated Press, December 13, 2021, copy in possession of author
  3. [3]Valerie Bauerlein, “Tornado Death Toll Rises to 88, Including 74 Dead in Kentucky,” Wall Street Journal, December 13, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/kentucky-puts-current-death-toll-from-tornadoes-at-64-11639410110; Bruce Schreiner and Claire Galofaro, “Thousands without heat, water after tornadoes kill dozens,” Associated Press, December 13, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/tornadoes-business-arkansas-kentucky-mayfield-b6ef6a901cc2e4552e760a36c749937c; Washington Post, “The record-breaking tornadoes that swept the United States, by the numbers,” December 13, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/12/13/tornado-mayfield-kentucky-amazon/
  4. [4]David Benfell, “Always remember: The status quo is worth dying for,” Not Housebroken, December 12, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/12/12/always-remember-the-status-quo-is-worth-dying-for/
  5. [5]Washington Post, “The record-breaking tornadoes that swept the United States, by the numbers,” December 13, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/12/13/tornado-mayfield-kentucky-amazon/
  6. [6]Dan Piraro, “Changing Channels,” Bizarro, December 13, 2021, February 2024
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