History is private property?

Pittsburgh




Figs. 1-3. Apparently these are mammatus clouds. They’re what we got instead of thunderstorms around sunset last night.[1] Photographs by author, June 16, 2022.

All yesterday afternoon, I was looking at the clouds, looking at the trees swaying in the wind, and thinking there’s gotta be rain, there’s gotta be rain.

It never happened. I think I might have seen a single raindrop on my windshield. Instead, as I was pulling up to my usual gas station, I was yelling for the attendant (whom I see nearly daily) to come out and check out the sky (figures 1 through 3). He did, and groused that when he took pictures, they appeared mostly blue. I was more fortunate.

Racism, bigotry, and white supremacy

History should not be the property of individuals and so I disagree with the author of this piece on Pittsburgh designating a house with significant links to Black history as a historic landmark. Read it anyway. Given the racism in the process, that erases Black history,[2] I’m thinking it’s remarkable that the designation occurred.

David S. Rotenstein, “An insider’s take on the Tito-Mecca-Zizza House landmarking,” Pittsburgh City Paper, June 15, 2022, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/an-insiders-take-on-the-tito-mecca-zizza-house-landmarking/Content?oid=21857197


Right-wing dictatorship project

[Pippa] Norris was pointing to the visible “structural” flaws in the country’s politics that enable the Republicans to secure outsize power for their vote share, including the composition of the Senate, which skews disproportionately to rural America. At a time when the party’s base appears to be drifting toward what some scholars of comparative politics have dubbed a form of “authoritarian far-right” politics, it’s especially concerning.[3]

The Senate and Electoral College have been this way from the beginning. I’ve understood the intention as to ensure that rural areas were not effectively disenfranchised, like Republicans are in California. The trouble is that this system relies on balance: It’s one thing to ensure rural areas have a voice. It’s another when that voice comes to drown out urban areas.[4] And that’s what’s happening:

Though its overall score per the [governance] index remains quite high, the United States’ assessed decline over the past two decades was one of the largest, on par with countries like Haiti and Hungary in that period of time. The think tank measured significant drops in U.S. “state capacity” and “democratic accountability” — the first measure could be defined roughly as the country’s ability to implement collective reforms and the latter a measure of the health of checks and balances, from electoral integrity to the efficacy of civil society and the media.

“The U.S. drop in state capacity and democratic accountability is not unique, but it is rare among advanced economies,” researchers Markus Lang and Edward Knudsen wrote me in an email.[5]

It hasn’t happened yet, but it appears Republicans have pushed us[6] past a tipping point,[7] which culminates in a white Christian nationalist authoritarian regime, as I wrote yesterday,

in part because [Democrats are] incredibly unpopular about now,[8] and in part because of conservative efforts to effectively disenfranchise likely Democratic voters.[9]

It’s not like this is a shocking new development. It has been a work in progress and no politician has an excuse for not observing it, which is why I view a persistent Democratic Party complacency on the issue as treasonous[10] and as further evidence of their preference to be in the opposition, where they can complain about the Republicans, but no one can expect them to actually accomplish a damn thing.[11] Whatever their rhetoric, the Democrats effectively refuse to oppose the establishment of a white Christian nationalist regime in the U.S., which is why I think that’s what we’re going to get, in very short order.[12]

Ishaan Tharoor, “The troubled paradox of U.S. democracy,” Washington Post, June 17, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2022/06/17/democracy-american-global-decline-backsliding/


  1. [1]Jeff Himler, “Puffy ‘mammatus’ clouds provide eye-catching show in Western Pa. skies,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 16, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/regional/puffy-mammatus-clouds-provide-eye-catching-show-in-western-pa-skies/
  2. [2]David S. Rotenstein, “An insider’s take on the Tito-Mecca-Zizza House landmarking,” Pittsburgh City Paper, June 15, 2022, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/an-insiders-take-on-the-tito-mecca-zizza-house-landmarking/Content?oid=21857197
  3. [3]Ishaan Tharoor, “The troubled paradox of U.S. democracy,” Washington Post, June 17, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2022/06/17/democracy-american-global-decline-backsliding/
  4. [4]David Benfell, “Mitigating the democratic deficit in the United States,” Not Housebroken, December 20, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2018/07/15/mitigating-the-democratic-deficit-in-the-united-states/
  5. [5]Ishaan Tharoor, “The troubled paradox of U.S. democracy,” Washington Post, June 17, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2022/06/17/democracy-american-global-decline-backsliding/
  6. [6]David Smith, “Republican party building an ‘army’ to overturn election results – report,” Guardian, June 1, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jun/01/republicans-plan-overturn-election-results-report; Ishaan Tharoor, “The Orbanization of America: How to capture a democracy,” Washington Post, May 18, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/05/18/orban-democracy-trump-united-states-elections-hungary/
  7. [7]Nathaniel Rakich, “The New National Congressional Map Is Biased Toward Republicans,” FiveThirtyEight, June 15, 2022, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-new-national-congressional-map-is-biased-toward-republicans/
  8. [8]Benjamin Hart, “The Democratic Party Is Extremely Unpopular Right Now,” New York, May 16, 2022, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2022/05/the-democratic-party-is-extremely-unpopular-right-now.html
  9. [9]Philip Bump, “Despite GOP rhetoric, there have been fewer than two dozen charged cases of voter fraud since the election,” Washington Post, May 4, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/05/04/despite-gop-rhetoric-there-have-been-fewer-than-two-dozen-charged-cases-voter-fraud-since-election/; Marjorie Cohn, “Supreme Court Drives a Stake Through the Heart of the Voting Rights Act,” Truthout, July 2, 2021, https://truthout.org/articles/supreme-court-drives-a-stake-through-the-heart-of-the-voting-rights-act/; David Gans, “Selective originalism and selective textualism: How the Roberts court decimated the Voting Rights Act,” SCOTUSblog, July 7, 2021, https://www.scotusblog.com/2021/07/selective-originalism-and-selective-textualism-how-the-roberts-court-decimated-the-voting-rights-act/; James Hohmann, “Gov. Scott Walker defends voter ID law in first debate,” Politico, October 11, 2014, http://www.politico.com/story/2014/10/scott-walker-wisconsin-voter-id-law-111804.html; Maya King, David Siders, and Daniel Lippman, “‘We’re f—ed’: Dems fear turnout catastrophe from GOP voting laws,” Politico, July 26, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/07/26/democrats-gop-voting-laws-crisis-500726; Scott Lemieux, “How the Supreme Court’s Arizona voting rights decision will affect challenges to Georgia’s law,” NBC News, July 1, 2021, https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/how-supreme-court-s-arizona-voting-rights-decision-will-impact-ncna1272928; Eva Ruth Moravec, “Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signs law creating new voting restrictions as opponents sue,” Washington Post, September 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/09/07/abbott-texas-voting-restrictions-signs-bill/; Nicholas Stephanopoulos, “The Supreme Court showcased its ‘textualist’ double standard on voting rights,” Washington Post, July 1, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/07/01/supreme-court-alito-voting-rights-act/; Daniel Strauss, “Scott Walker On Voter ID: ‘Doesn’t Matter If There’s One, 100, or 1,000’,” Talking Points Memo, October 11, 2014, http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/scott-walker-voter-id-law-debate
  10. [10]David Benfell, “The Democrats as the danger within, enabling the Republicans,” Not Housebroken, June 14, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/06/14/the-democrats-as-the-danger-within-enabling-the-republicans/
  11. [11]David Benfell, “Democrats and contradiction,” Not Housebroken, January 20, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/11/18/democrats-and-contradiction/
  12. [12]David Benfell, “My 2024 forecast,” Not Housebroken, June 11, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/03/10/my-2024-forecast/

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