We just won’t stop with the bullshit

COVID-19 Pandemic

Doctors and charlatans

There have been over one million ‘excess deaths’ in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic. “The deaths are mainly attributable to Covid-19, as well as conditions that may have resulted from delayed medical care and overwhelmed health systems.”[19] People are dying, but we just won’t stop with the bullshit.

Leyland Cecco, “Protesters defy order to clear bridge connecting Canada and US,” Guardian, February 11, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/12/protesters-defy-order-to-clear-bridge-connecting-canada-and-us

Amanda Coletta et al., “Police prepare to clear ‘Freedom Convoy’ protesters on Ontario border bridge. Tear gas used on Champs-Élysées crowd,” Washington Post, February 12, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/02/12/canada-ottawa-trucker-protest-freedom-convoy/

Miguel Marquez, Jason Hanna, and Kim Berryman, “Canadian police begin attempt to clear protesters blocking Ambassador Bridge to US,” CNN, February 12, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/02/12/americas/canada-truckers-protests-covid-saturday/index.html

Kayla Tarnowski and Julio Cesar Chavez, “Key bridge to U.S. remains closed as Canada police clear protesters,” Reuters, February 13, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/canada-protesters-police-deadlocked-tensions-simmer-blocked-border-bridge-2022-02-13/

Brian Wilk, “US Freedom Convoy met with support as they make stop in Erie,” YourErie.com, February 13, 2022, https://www.yourerie.com/news/local-news/us-freedom-convoy-met-with-support-as-they-make-stop-in-erie/

Miriam Berger et al., “U.S.-Canada border crossing reopens after six-day blockade by ‘Freedom Convoy’ protesters,” Washington Post, February 14, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/02/13/canada-freedom-convoy-border-blockades-truckers/

Amanda Coletta et al., “Trudeau invokes Emergencies Act against Canada’s ‘Freedom Convoy’ trucker protest,” Washington Post, February 14, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/02/14/canada-ottawa-trucker-protests-bridge/

Paul Vieira and Kim Mackrael, “U.S.-Canada Bridge Reopens After Police Clear Protest,” Wall Street Journal, February 14, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/canadian-police-begin-to-clear-protesters-disrupting-cross-border-bridge-traffic-11644759497

Amol Rajan, “Novak Djokovic: I’m not anti-vax but will sacrifice trophies if told to get jab,” British Broadcasting Corporation, February 15, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-60354068

Matthew Syed, “What Novak Djokovic revealed to me at lunch,” Times, February 16, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/matthew-syed-what-novak-djokovic-revealed-to-me-at-lunch-d85gv8jph

Ed Yong, “The Millions of People Stuck in Pandemic Limbo,” Atlantic, February 16, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2022/02/covid-pandemic-immunocompromised-risk-vaccines/622094/

Amanda Coletta et al., “Ottawa arrests two ‘Freedom Convoy’ protest organizers as police chief vows to ‘take back’ city,” Washington Post, February 17, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/02/17/canada-freedom-convoy-ottawa-protest/

Melody Schreiber, “US has suffered more than 1m excess deaths during pandemic, CDC finds,” Guardian, February 17, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/17/us-excess-deaths-pandemic-cdc

Oriana Gonzalez, “Canadian police arrest over 100 people in trucker protests,” Axios, February 18, 2022, https://www.axios.com/police-ottawa-arrest-trucker-protest-covid-vaccine-ed06ea8a-d2bc-4c3c-8c04-3054dca17c88.html


Ukraine

With the caveat that you can’t rule anything out when Putin is involved and that the most pessimistic prediction is usually the right one, I have to say that I think an invasion is less likely now than it was a month ago. And not because of what Putin said on Tuesday. Yes, militarily speaking, Russia is far more prepared for an invasion today than it was then, but politically, there is much less reason now for Putin to give the order to invade than there was a month ago.[20]

That’s Julia Ioffe, three days ago, in an article in which she reiterates that this is a propaganda war and, so far, Joe Biden’s strategy seems to be working.[21] The cute part of that is that Biden’s strategy will indeed seem to be working until, brutally, it isn’t.

CNN this evening seems less canny, stenographically reporting the latest that Biden believes Vladimir Putin has decided to invade.[22] If, however, on that day three days ago, Ioffe was very guardedly optimistic that war seemed less probable,[23] today, we’re back to pessimism:

By Friday, things had escalated to the point where war—or something uncomfortably close to it—seemed inevitable. The Kremlin announced that Vladimir Putin, accompanied by Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko, would oversee military exercises that would include the firing of ballistic and cruise missiles on Saturday. The head of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) told its residents to evacuate the area and flee to Russia because, he claimed, Ukrainian president Volodymir Zelensky had ordered an invasion. The Ukrainian government spent the day denying those claims.[24]

Ioffe proceeds by comparing “the development of this conflict and the beginning of the 2008 Russian invasion of Georgia.” She has a lot of data points. She now is also buying the Biden administration line, writing that

Over the last few weeks, the Biden administration has made a number of intelligence disclosures, aiming to preempt, expose, or disrupt various Russian plans. By Friday, it was clear that almost all of them have checked out.[25]

Again, she’s got an itemized list of revelations.[26]

Remember that deception takes multiple forms. There is the form where you’re out and out lying. But there’s also the form where you’re withholding truth. To the extent Ioffe is right, the Biden administration may still be guilty of the latter, even as we can be certain the Russians are guilty of the former. Because it’s “classified,” I wouldn’t expect to ever learn how much or what, really, the Biden administration is holding back.

And of course, we can’t asess how correctly intelligence agencies are interpreting what they’re not telling us.

I’m not sure who put this text right under the title—it is not, strictly speaking, part of the article—on Ioffe’s latest:

Are we witnessing the outbreak of war in Ukraine? It certainly looks that way. But as with everything involving Putin, nothing is as it seems.[27]

The latter part of that is a point she really doesn’t develop.

Y’all know I have enormous respect for Ioffe, but the truth remains that, because this is a propaganda war, we won’t know whether Vladimir Putin will invade until 1) the invasion actually happens, or 2) the Russian troops have withdrawn to barracks. Until then, I honestly don’t know how you keep breathing when you’re submerged in bullshit this deep.

Anthony Faiola, “How joining NATO and the E.U. became Ukraine’s unattainable dream,” Washington Post, February 17, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2022/02/17/ukraine-nato-eu-european-union-membership/

Reuters, “Ukraine says Russian-backed artillery strike hits kindergarten, no injuries,” February 17, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/ukraine-says-russian-backed-artillery-strike-hits-kindergarten-no-injuries-2022-02-17/

Ann M. Simmons, Yaroslav Trofimov, and William Mauldin, “Russia Accuses Ukrainian Military of ‘Crimes’ in Report to U.N.,” Wall Street Journal, February 17, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-pro-russia-separatists-trade-allegations-of-cease-fire-violations-11645091832

Jon Allsop, “A week of whiplash and the need for cool heads over Russia and Ukraine,” Columbia Journalism Review, February 18, 2022, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/russia_ukraine_invasion_whiplash.php

Julia Ioffe, “Putin’s Quasi War Begins,” Puck News, February 18, 2022, https://puck.news/putins-quasi-war-begins/

Maegan Vazquez et al., “Biden says he’s now convinced Putin has decided to invade Ukraine, but leaves door open for diplomacy,” CNN, February 18, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/02/18/politics/joe-biden-russia-ukraine/index.html


Fossil fuels

Northeast

Reid Frazier, “Drilling legacy left Pa. full of possibly harmful old oil and gas wells. There’s new hope for cleanup to get a jump-start,” National Public Radio, February 17, 2022, https://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2022/02/17/drilling-legacy-left-pa-full-of-possibly-harmful-old-oil-and-gas-wells-theres-new-hope-a-solution-is-in-sight/


Pittsburgh

Infrastructure

If this bridge is what I think it is, that apparently they don’t know when they’re going to fix,[28] it passes over what Pittsburgh calls a busway, which is a right of way built specifically to accommodate public transportation and which private cars (I see white supremacist gangsters pulling on and off of them all the time) are forbidden to use. I’m pretty constantly guessing where exactly they go from the parts I see, but I think this is the busway that runs out to Swissvale, so a collapse of this bridge would impact service at least out that far and I’m guessing extending at least to McKeesport and maybe Trafford, just across Turtle Creek into Westmoreland County.

It would also make a mess of Shadyside traffic. Not very many streets cross that busway, which runs below street level, so traffic would be forced to re-route onto other bridges.

Another bridge that crosses Saw Mill Run Road (Pennsylvania Route 51) that is itself part of a busway has been closed—I didn’t pick this up at the time—apparently due to winter damage.[29] I’m a little perplexed about this one: If they’re worried this bridge will collapse, why are they parking heavy vehicles on it?

I’ve actually driven part way onto one of these busways myself, but only after a great deal of hesitation. The Pennsylvanian, an elegant-looking old hotel—at least that’s what I think it is—by the Amtrak station and across Liberty Avenue from the Greyhound station, which I understand has been converted to convention space and apartments, is accessible principally off the beginning of the right of way, marked prominently with “Do Not Enter” signs and “Buses Only” signs. I had to be assured that it was legal for me to do so, and apparently despite the very intimidating signage, private cars are allowed far enough in to access the Pennsylvanian’s driveway. (There are normally a number of private cars parked along that driveway.)

Julia Felton, “Pittsburgh’s poorly rated South Negley Avenue Bridge slated for repairs,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 18, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburghs-poorly-rated-south-negley-avenue-bridge-slated-for-repairs/


Donald Trump

Finances

George Conway, III, explains[30] why two related developments, the Mazars disavowing their work for the Trump Organization[31] and a judge’s ruling that Donald Trump and his offspring must submit to a deposition,[32] might finally spell financial ruin for Trump[33] of a sort that I don’t see how bankruptcy can help. Conway closes, writing,

Stay tuned. Could this be, at long last, the beginning of the end for Trump?

As always, don’t bet on it — but this time, don’t be surprised if it is.[34]

I’m sorry to say that I think Conway’s caution is warranted. It’s not like it’s any surprise that Trump is a lousy businessman, regardless of how his adoring fans perceive him. Indeed, what probably most people would call setbacks, even severe setbacks, only reinforce his fans’ perceptions.[35] And Trump only needs to stall a legal system that is already prone to interminable delay until probably, as a practical matter, November 2024. Conway’s argument, though, is that this isn’t like previous setbacks for Trump, who will have to find competent lawyers and accountants who are willing to bless probable fraud.[36]

Dominic Rushe, “Trump Organization’s accountants cut ties, calling years of filings unreliable,” Guardian, February 14, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/feb/14/donald-trump-organization-accountants-mazars-cut-ties

Tierney Sneed and Kara Scannell, “Trump and his children may be deposed by New York attorney general, judge rules,” CNN, February 17, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/02/17/politics/trump-subpoena-james-new-york-lawsuit/index.html

George T. Conway, III, “Trump’s luck may finally be running out,” Washington Post, February 18, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/02/18/george-conway-trump-mazars/

Coup attempt

Farnoush Amiri, “National Archives: Trump took classified items to Mar-a-Lago,” Associated Press, February 19, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/donald-trump-mar-a-lago-national-security-9c1f6dca7e3e8073ee029604c8253a5c

Colleen Long, “Judge rejects effort by Trump to toss Jan. 6 lawsuits,” Associated Press, February 19, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/capitol-siege-lawsuits-donald-trump-48fef5775a0043339fb38aa84ad419be


  1. [19]Melody Schreiber, “US has suffered more than 1m excess deaths during pandemic, CDC finds,” Guardian, February 17, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/17/us-excess-deaths-pandemic-cdc
  2. [20]Julia Ioffe, “Putin on the Brink… of What, Exactly?” Puck News, February 15, 2022, https://puck.news/putin-on-the-brink/
  3. [21]Julia Ioffe, “Putin on the Brink… of What, Exactly?” Puck News, February 15, 2022, https://puck.news/putin-on-the-brink/
  4. [22]Maegan Vazquez et al., “Biden says he’s now convinced Putin has decided to invade Ukraine, but leaves door open for diplomacy,” CNN, February 18, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/02/18/politics/joe-biden-russia-ukraine/index.html
  5. [23]Julia Ioffe, “Putin on the Brink… of What, Exactly?” Puck News, February 15, 2022, https://puck.news/putin-on-the-brink/
  6. [24]Julia Ioffe, “Putin’s Quasi War Begins,” Puck News, February 18, 2022, https://puck.news/putins-quasi-war-begins/
  7. [25]Julia Ioffe, “Putin’s Quasi War Begins,” Puck News, February 18, 2022, https://puck.news/putins-quasi-war-begins/
  8. [26]Julia Ioffe, “Putin’s Quasi War Begins,” Puck News, February 18, 2022, https://puck.news/putins-quasi-war-begins/
  9. [27]Julia Ioffe, “Putin’s Quasi War Begins,” Puck News, February 18, 2022, https://puck.news/putins-quasi-war-begins/
  10. [28]Julia Felton, “Pittsburgh’s poorly rated South Negley Avenue Bridge slated for repairs,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 18, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburghs-poorly-rated-south-negley-avenue-bridge-slated-for-repairs/
  11. [29]WTAE, “Port Authority closes bridge that carries South Busway after portion of bridge shifts,” February 7, 2022, https://www.wtae.com/article/port-authority-closes-bridge-that-carries-south-busway-in-mt-washington-after-portion-of-bridge-shifts/38987895
  12. [30]George T. Conway, III, “Trump’s luck may finally be running out,” Washington Post, February 18, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/02/18/george-conway-trump-mazars/
  13. [31]Dominic Rushe, “Trump Organization’s accountants cut ties, calling years of filings unreliable,” Guardian, February 14, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/feb/14/donald-trump-organization-accountants-mazars-cut-ties
  14. [32]Tierney Sneed and Kara Scannell, “Trump and his children may be deposed by New York attorney general, judge rules,” CNN, February 17, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/02/17/politics/trump-subpoena-james-new-york-lawsuit/index.html
  15. [33]George T. Conway, III, “Trump’s luck may finally be running out,” Washington Post, February 18, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/02/18/george-conway-trump-mazars/
  16. [34]George T. Conway, III, “Trump’s luck may finally be running out,” Washington Post, February 18, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/02/18/george-conway-trump-mazars/
  17. [35]George T. Conway, III, “Trump’s luck may finally be running out,” Washington Post, February 18, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/02/18/george-conway-trump-mazars/; Bess Levin, “G.O.P. Voters Think Losing $1 Billion Makes Someone (Trump) a Good Businessman,” Vanity Fair, May 15, 2019, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/05/republicans-still-think-trump-was-a-successful-businessman; Walter Shapiro, “The Worst Businessman in America,” New Republic, May 8, 2019, https://newrepublic.com/article/153855/trump-tax-returns-worst-businessman-america
  18. [36]George T. Conway, III, “Trump’s luck may finally be running out,” Washington Post, February 18, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/02/18/george-conway-trump-mazars/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.