Pittsburgh finally has a Black mayor

I apologize for how long it’s taken to get this issue out. This has been a day when it’s just been hard for me to catch up on anything.


Ed Gainey

With the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s findings in the death of Jim Rogers,[26] we are already seeing the limits of what newly inaugurated Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey will be able to do about white supremacist gangs. He is now mayor of the city. But much of the (in)judicial apparatus is at the county level.

Julia Felton, “Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey promises to unite city in inaugural address,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 3, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-mayor-ed-gainey-promises-to-unite-city-in-inaugural-address/

Olafimihan Oshin, “Ed Gainey sworn in as Pittsburgh’s first Black mayor,” Hill, January 3, 2022, https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/588041-ed-gainey-sworn-in-as-pittsburghs-first-black-mayor

Jordana Rosenfeld, “Ed Gainey sworn in as Pittsburgh’s first Black mayor; addresses questions on policing,” Pittsburgh City Paper, January 3, 2022, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/ed-gainey-sworn-in-as-pittsburghs-first-black-mayor-addresses-questions-on-policing/Content?oid=20862169


White supremacist gangs

It appears that the white supremacist gangsters who tased Jim Rogers and left him mortally wounded in the back seat of a white supremacist gang car can be charged with negligent homicide.[27] It remains to be seen if such charges will indeed be brought.

But, um, if indeed “the medical examiner’s determinations are based on medical criteria,” how do medical criteria determine that a—to be generous—maliciously negligent death[28] was “accidental?”[29] At best, this indicates a false binary between ‘accidental’ and ‘intentional.’ At worst, it suggests the Allegheny County medical examiner is complicit.

“In Pennsylvania, there are five recognized manners of death, including homicide, suicide, accident, natural and undetermined,” and “Dr. Cyril Wecht, a forensic pathologist who previously served as coroner and medical examiner in Allegheny County, called the finding for manner of death inadequate.”[30]

“How can it be an accident? All this time, and that’s what they come up with?” [Cyril] Wecht asked. . . .

Accident is defined as a death that occurs as the result of an event with unintentional consequences. Homicide is a death caused at the hands of another.

The cause of death — acute global hypoxic ischemic injury of the brain — simply means diminished oxygen and blood supply getting to the brain, Wecht said.

“Does it say what it’s due to? It’s due to the tasering,” Wecht said. “How in the hell is it accidental? How do you call it accidental to tase someone eight or 10 times?”[31]

When I speak of corruption,[32] when Milton Raiford complains in vain about systemic racism in southwestern Pennsylvania,[33] this ‘finding’ is so blatantly those things, that I wonder how the medical examiner can say it with a straight face.

Paula Reed Ward, “Allegheny County Medical Examiner rules Jim Rogers’ death was accidental,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 3, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/allegheny-county-medical-examiner-rules-jim-rogers-death-was-accidental/


Democrats

Some will recall that even though, in my dissertation defense, I forecast Donald Trump’s victory, I backpedaled from that forecast and even abandoned it altogether as Trump kept getting ever more outrageous in the pattern I would eventually describe as a “black hole,” where there is simply no limit to how deep he can sink.

I also thought there was no chance Trump would complete a four-year term. I didn’t know how it would—or, as it turned out, didn’t—happen, but I expected a stabilizing feedback of some sort that would toss him out. That didn’t happen.

On balance, I have pretty nearly consistently underestimated Trump’s support. It’s bad enough that I’ve generally stopped forecasting electoral outcomes.

But the Democrats’ prospects later this year seem decidedly bleak, and not just for the reasons in an excellent FiveThirtyEight analysis.[34] There is this spectacular failure to deliver on existential issues, a failure that cannot encourage voters to come out for an election they tend to view as less important anyway:

The Democrats’ hope lies, really, in revulsion towards Trump and Trumpism, a revulsion I’ve pretty consistently overestimated. It’s true that fissures are appearing in Trumpism, as Trumpists vie for power, influence, and money,[36] but I don’t see how any of this translates into diminished support for Republicans generally.

It is also true that Democrats plan another effort to pass voting rights legislation. It is still unlikely to succeed,[37] leaving me with a very strong impression that the Democrats really feel much more comfortable in opposition, where they can complain about the Republicans, than in power; when in power, they’re supposed to accomplish things and they fail at this miserably.

So yeah, by all means, take my forecasts with more than a grain of salt. But I’m just not seeing how the Democrats are headed for anything less than an absolute shellacking. And the prospect of Trumpists entrenched in power, one way or another,[38] scares the hell out of me.

Peter Hamby, “Biden’s Succession Calculus,” Puck News, January 3, 2021, https://puck.news/bidens-succession-calculus/

Geoffrey Skelley and Nathaniel Rakich, “Why The President’s Party Almost Always Has A Bad Midterm,” FiveThirtyEight, January 3, 2022, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-the-presidents-party-almost-always-has-a-bad-midterm/


Donald Trump, Civil war

I am far from alone[39] in the alarm I have expressed about the possible revival of the 19th century U.S. Civil War.[40] Thomas Homer-Dixon, who cites numerous other scholars, warns that:

By 2025, American democracy could collapse, causing extreme domestic political instability, including widespread civil violence. By 2030, if not sooner, the country could be governed by a right-wing dictatorship.[41]

Stephen Marche acknowledges that “[t]here will be those who say that warnings of a new civil war is alarmist,” even as he recalls the certainty of the U.S. political elite in the 19th century that there would be no civil war, that is, of course, until it was already well under way,[42] but Jacob Bacharach begins to probe the alternative reality that Trumpists live in, with a belief system that is in fact reinforced by the very disdain that I and so many others hold for them.[43] If I wondered how we make peace when each side views the other as irredeemably evil,[44] we all might wonder how to make a peace when each side, not merely ‘liberals’ and scholars,[45] but Trumpists as well with slogans such as “Make a Liberal Cry” and “Fuck Your Feelings,” holds the other in utter contempt and disdain.

Dan Balz, Scott Clement, and Emily Guskin, “Republicans and Democrats divided over Jan. 6 insurrection and Trump’s culpability, Post-UMD poll finds,” Washington Post, January 1, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/01/post-poll-january-6/

Rachel Bade and Zack Stanton, “4 startling polls you should read about Jan. 6,” Politico, January 2, 2022, https://www.politico.com/newsletters/playbook/2022/01/02/4-startling-polls-you-should-read-about-jan-6-495559

Thomas Homer-Dixon, “The American polity is cracked, and might collapse. Canada must prepare,” Globe and Mail, January 2, 2022, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-the-american-polity-is-cracked-and-might-collapse-canada-must-prepare/

Drew Harwell, “Since Jan. 6, the pro-Trump Internet has descended into infighting over money and followers,” Washington Post, January 3, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/01/03/trump-qanon-online-money-war-jan6/

Jacob Bacharach, “The Next Coup Attempt Will Be More Dangerous,” review of The Steal: The Attempt to Overturn the 2020 Election and the People Who Stopped It by Mark Bowden and Matthew Teague, New Republic, January 4, 2022, https://newrepublic.com/article/164914/next-coup-attempt-will-dangerous-teague-bowden-book-review

Stephen Marche, “The next US civil war is already here – we just refuse to see it,” Guardian, January 4, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jan/04/next-us-civil-war-already-here-we-refuse-to-see-it


Gun nuttery

Lara Korte, “California gun control bill would let shooting victims sue firearm manufacturers, sellers,” Sacramento Bee, January 4, 2022, https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article257038052.html


Pandemic

Astute readers might notice I have finally added “COVID-19: (Inter)national/Pennsylvania region” to the Democrats’ list of shame above. I’ve been slow to do this.

First, yes, this is a crisis that Joe Biden inherited and which Donald Trump egregiously mishandled. But second, that latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advice,[46] which clearly favors capitalism over public health,[47] is entirely on the Democrats in power.

(Inter)national

People showing up in hospitals now may not know they’ve been infected with COVID-19:

Roughly two-thirds of patients who have tested positive at hospitals run by the L.A. County Department of Health Services were admitted for something other than the coronavirus, according to Health Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly.

That is starkly different from what the county’s public hospitals saw in earlier surges, when most coronavirus-positive patients were hospitalized because they had been sickened by the virus, Ghaly said.[48]

Dan Lamothe, “Judge grants relief to Navy SEALs who refused coronavirus vaccine, sued Biden administration,” Washington Post, January 3, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/01/03/navy-seals-vaccine-mandate-lawsuit/

Bailey Aldridge, “CDC considers updating COVID isolation rules following pushback on testing, Fauci says,” Sacramento Bee, January 2, 2022, https://www.sacbee.com/news/coronavirus/article256994912.html

Michael Bachner, “Up to a third of Israelis predicted to get COVID in next 3 weeks; tests running out,” Times of Israel, January 2, 2022, https://www.timesofisrael.com/up-to-a-third-of-israelis-predicted-to-get-covid-in-next-3-weeks-tests-running-out/

Shaun Lintern and Gabriel Pogrund, “NHS struggles as sickness takes out 1 in 10 staff,” Times, January 2, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/nhs-struggles-as-sickness-takes-out-1-in-10-staff-x29mwv5rw

Donie O’Sullivan, “One of Marjorie Taylor Greene’s verified Twitter accounts permanently suspended from Twitter,” CNN, January 2, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/02/politics/marjorie-taylor-greene-twitter-suspension/index.html

Dan Lamothe, “Judge grants relief to Navy SEALs who refused coronavirus vaccine, sued Biden administration,” Washington Post, January 3, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/01/03/navy-seals-vaccine-mandate-lawsuit/

Eugene Scott, “Marjorie Taylor Greene suspended from Facebook for 24 hours for covid-19 misinformation, one day after Twitter account suspension,” Washington Post, January 3, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/03/marjorie-taylor-greene-suspended-facebook-24-hours-covid-19-misinformation-one-day-after-twitter-account-suspension/

Agence France-Presse, “Soaring Omicron could lead to more dangerous variants, WHO warns,” Times of Israel, January 4, 2022, https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/soaring-omicron-could-lead-to-more-dangerous-variants-who-warns/

Luke Money, Rong-Gong Lin, II, and Emily Alpert Reyes, “Hospitals see big jumps in COVID-19 patients, but this surge is different from last winter,” Los Angeles Times, January 4, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-01-04/covid-hospitalizations-top-summer-surge-in-l-a

Ovetta Wiggins, “Hogan declares 30-day state of emergency as state enters its ‘most challenging time’ of the pandemic,” Washington Post, January 4, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2022/01/04/hogan-declares-emergency-coronavirus/

Pennsylvania region

Inside hospitals, workers described scenes dramatically different from just a few weeks ago. Most hospitalized patients are unvaccinated. But workers are also seeing people who were vaccinated against COVID-19 — but not boosted — filling beds faster than the hospital can discharge patients who’ve recovered.[49]

Erin McCarthy, “Pa. nurses after 22 months of COVID-19 and a new surge: ‘It is so defeating,’” Philadelphia Inquirer, December 31, 2021, https://www.inquirer.com/health/coronavirus/pennsylvania-nurses-covid-icu-hospitalizations-burnout-20211231.html

Stephanie Farr, “Main Line Health pauses elective surgeries and procedures amid a surge in COVID-19 cases,” Philadelphia Inquirer, January 2, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/health/coronavirus/main-line-health-covid-stops-elective-surgeries-20220102.html

Sarah Gantz and Aubrey Whelan, “Philly hospitals react to COVID-19 surge by canceling procedures, tightening visitor policies,” Philadelphia Inquirer, January 3, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/health/coronavirus/philly-hospitals-covid-surge-cancel-surgeries-20220104.html


Indigenous boarding schools

Amanda Coletta, “Canada reaches $31.5 billion deal over Indigenous children put in foster care unnecessarily,” Washington Post, January 4, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/01/04/canada-indigenous-foster-care-settlement/


Snow

Though it has snowed, sort of, there’s been no accumulation of snow in Pittsburgh. But I saw a car with what seemed like an odd decoration on its grill. This wasn’t a decoration: It was snow, still packed, and not melting because it’d been below freezing here all day yesterday (January 3). Today (January 4), the temperature rose back above freezing.

Later, I saw a truck with snow on the framework beneath the cargo box. Obviously, it’s a similar story.

I gather it’s an entirely different story in Philadelphia and in Virginia:


In the thread, Josh Lederman explains that the traffic jam is due to snow and ice. The freeway is completely jammed, with no way to get emergency vehicles in. People are running out of gas but need to run their engines to stay warm.[50]

Ryan W. Miller and Doyle Rice, “27-hour commute: Virginia officials pelted with questions after hundreds of drivers were stuck on I-95 overnight,” USA Today, January 4, 2022, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2022/01/04/winter-storm-power-outages-interstate-95-virginia/9087146002/


Pacific Gas and Electric

At some point, Californians will need to hold their government responsible for allowing Pacific Gas and Electric to continue to exist.

Rosalio Ahumada and Dale Kasler, “Dixie Fire caused by PG&E, Cal Fire says. Fire was second largest in California history,” Sacramento Bee, January 4, 2022, https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article257054362.html


  1. [26]Paula Reed Ward, “Allegheny County Medical Examiner rules Jim Rogers’ death was accidental,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 3, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/allegheny-county-medical-examiner-rules-jim-rogers-death-was-accidental/
  2. [27]Paula Reed Ward, “Allegheny County Medical Examiner rules Jim Rogers’ death was accidental,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 3, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/allegheny-county-medical-examiner-rules-jim-rogers-death-was-accidental/
  3. [28]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, “Disciplinary action initiated against 9 Pittsburgh police officers in tasing, death of man in Bloomfield,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 28, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/disciplinary-action-initiated-against-9-pittsburgh-police-officers-in-tasing-death-of-man-in-bloomfield/
  4. [29]Paula Reed Ward, “Allegheny County Medical Examiner rules Jim Rogers’ death was accidental,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 3, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/allegheny-county-medical-examiner-rules-jim-rogers-death-was-accidental/
  5. [30]Paula Reed Ward, “Allegheny County Medical Examiner rules Jim Rogers’ death was accidental,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 3, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/allegheny-county-medical-examiner-rules-jim-rogers-death-was-accidental/
  6. [31]Paula Reed Ward, “Allegheny County Medical Examiner rules Jim Rogers’ death was accidental,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 3, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/allegheny-county-medical-examiner-rules-jim-rogers-death-was-accidental/
  7. [32]David Benfell, “It is what it is,” Not Housebroken, December 31, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/12/31/it-is-what-it-is/
  8. [33]David Benfell, “Stephen Zappala’s resignation would be nowhere near enough,” Not Housebroken, December 23, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/06/03/stephen-zappalas-resignation-would-be-nowhere-near-enough/
  9. [34]Geoffrey Skelley and Nathaniel Rakich, “Why The President’s Party Almost Always Has A Bad Midterm,” FiveThirtyEight, January 3, 2022, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-the-presidents-party-almost-always-has-a-bad-midterm/
  10. [35]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
  11. [36]Drew Harwell, “Since Jan. 6, the pro-Trump Internet has descended into infighting over money and followers,” Washington Post, January 3, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/01/03/trump-qanon-online-money-war-jan6/
  12. [37]John Harwood, “Why Democrats haven’t given up on Joe Manchin and voting rights,” CNN, January 2, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/02/politics/joe-manchin-voting-rights-filibuster/index.html; Siobhan Hughes, “Democrats Seek Filibuster Changes to Pass Elections Bills,” Wall Street Journal, January 2, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/democrats-seek-filibuster-changes-to-pass-elections-bills-11641128403
  13. [38]David Benfell, “A hot U.S. civil war turned cold, now lukewarm, may turn hot again,” Not Housebroken, January 2, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/12/19/a-hot-u-s-civil-war-turned-cold-now-lukewarm-may-turn-hot-again/
  14. [39]Jacob Bacharach, “The Next Coup Attempt Will Be More Dangerous,” review of The Steal: The Attempt to Overturn the 2020 Election and the People Who Stopped It by Mark Bowden and Matthew Teague, New Republic, January 4, 2022, https://newrepublic.com/article/164914/next-coup-attempt-will-dangerous-teague-bowden-book-review; Thomas Homer-Dixon, “The American polity is cracked, and might collapse. Canada must prepare,” Globe and Mail, January 2, 2022, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-the-american-polity-is-cracked-and-might-collapse-canada-must-prepare/; Stephen Marche, “The next US civil war is already here – we just refuse to see it,” Guardian, January 4, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jan/04/next-us-civil-war-already-here-we-refuse-to-see-it; 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/
  15. [40]David Benfell, “A hot U.S. civil war turned cold, now lukewarm, may turn hot again,” Not Housebroken, January 2, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/12/19/a-hot-u-s-civil-war-turned-cold-now-lukewarm-may-turn-hot-again/
  16. [41]Thomas Homer-Dixon, “The American polity is cracked, and might collapse. Canada must prepare,” Globe and Mail, January 2, 2022, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-the-american-polity-is-cracked-and-might-collapse-canada-must-prepare/
  17. [42]Stephen Marche, “The next US civil war is already here – we just refuse to see it,” Guardian, January 4, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jan/04/next-us-civil-war-already-here-we-refuse-to-see-it
  18. [43]Jacob Bacharach, “The Next Coup Attempt Will Be More Dangerous,” review of The Steal: The Attempt to Overturn the 2020 Election and the People Who Stopped It by Mark Bowden and Matthew Teague, New Republic, January 4, 2022, https://newrepublic.com/article/164914/next-coup-attempt-will-dangerous-teague-bowden-book-review
  19. [44]David Benfell, “The morality of polarization,” Not Housebroken, December 23, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2018/09/21/the-morality-of-polarization/
  20. [45]Jacob Bacharach, “The Next Coup Attempt Will Be More Dangerous,” review of The Steal: The Attempt to Overturn the 2020 Election and the People Who Stopped It by Mark Bowden and Matthew Teague, New Republic, January 4, 2022, https://newrepublic.com/article/164914/next-coup-attempt-will-dangerous-teague-bowden-book-review
  21. [46]Yasmeen Abutaleb, “CDC cuts isolation time recommended for people with asymptomatic coronavirus infections,” Washington Post, December 27, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/12/27/cdc-cuts-isolation-time-asymptomic-covid-infections/
  22. [47]David Benfell, “Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Doctors need to act like doctors,” Not Housebroken, December 30, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/12/30/centers-for-disease-control-and-prevention-doctors-need-to-act-like-doctors/
  23. [48]Luke Money, Rong-Gong Lin, II, and Emily Alpert Reyes, “Hospitals see big jumps in COVID-19 patients, but this surge is different from last winter,” Los Angeles Times, January 4, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-01-04/covid-hospitalizations-top-summer-surge-in-l-a
  24. [49]Sarah Gantz and Aubrey Whelan, “Philly hospitals react to COVID-19 surge by canceling procedures, tightening visitor policies,” Philadelphia Inquirer, January 3, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/health/coronavirus/philly-hospitals-covid-surge-cancel-surgeries-20220104.html
  25. [50]Josh Lederman, [Twitter thread], Thread Reader App, January 4, 2022, https://threadreaderapp.com/pdfs/3632765/download

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