As I write this, I’m seated in the Veggie Grill in Corte Madera Town Center, looking between some blinds at Mount Tamalpais.
When I last left the story, I had driven to Salt Lake City, where I subsequently ate at Vertical Diner, a vegan restaurant that almost makes a move to Salt Lake City tempting. My observation of Salt Lake City from a few years ago, when I attended a Human Science Institute conference there was that it was a surprisingly progressive island in a ruby red state. If Pennsylvania’s state politics drive me nuts, I hate to think what Utah’s would do.
From there, it was Reno, where I was curious about the impact of money I’d heard had come to town. Among those over fifty years I count as having lived in California, were actually a couple in Reno, at the time and perhaps still a colony of Northern California. At that time, roughly 1979 to 1981, there were some casinos downtown that seemed barely to be hanging on and a commercial area now called “midtown” wasn’t exactly prosperous, but it was also certainly a long ways from what, say, downtown McKeesport has become. Businesses along South Virginia Street were mostly open and didn’t seem to be hurting too badly.
When I returned for a visit, probably about a decade ago, Reno had clearly fallen on hard times. Those marginal casinos had closed. The businesses in midtown seemed to be struggling.and around that time, I saw an article describing the area as suffering from an epidemic of methamphetamine addiction.
On this, much too quick, visit, conditions in midtown had improved noticeably. Some of it mostly looked like a fresh paint job, some of it otherwise seemed superficial. But there were newish businesses and some new businesses. Downtown, however, something has happened that I never would have imagined happening: Harrah’s has closed. As I drove down the street, I had to look again, and then a third time. But there could be no mistake. Harrah’s had closed.
So I guess my assessment is that the casino business, which has been struggling for decades, continues to struggle. As for social inequality, I noticed a homeless encampment along Interstate 80 as I entered Sparks, the town immediately adjoining Reno to the east, from the east. Even some of those who are housed are inadequately so. But Reno, on the whole, looks better, certainly better than about a decade ago, even if some of the improvement seems less than substantive. I am also left wondering about gentrification.
I’m still catching up on news here, but publishing this for now.
This fall’s election will test whether there are political consequences for the Pennsylvania Republicans who played significant roles on Jan. 6 — or if they’ll grow more empowered ahead of the next presidential race, when Donald Trump could again be on the ballot and Pennsylvania will again be a pivotal battleground in deciding who wins the presidency.
I can’t tell you how much I hope I’m wrong about this. But there’s a reason these white Christian natioaalists are so bold and that is simply that they enjoy broad and enthusiastic support across Pennsylvania. I can’t tell you how many Confederate flags I saw prior to the January 6 coup attempt and I can’t tell you how many Donald Trump campaign flags, both still up from the 2020 election and and anticipating his 2024, I’ve seen, especially in southwestern Pennsylvania.
There might be moderate Republicans in Pennsylvania but they most certainly did not prevail in the primary; Josh Shapiro will need their votes when “[p]olls suggest the election will mainly be a referendum on a deeply unpopular [Joe] Biden, his Democratic allies, and the state of the U.S. economy.”
Y’all know I don’t trust surveys when response rates are in the single digits (for the methodology to be valid, the response rate should be at least ninety percent and with the response rates pollsters are actually seeing, there is absolutely no validity whatsoever in extrapolating from respondents to non-respondents). In this case, however, I suspect the pollsters are right.
There is certainly revulsion at the events of January 6, 2021. But it is limited to people who care about politics and, frankly, around Pennsylvania, people would much rather talk about sports.
Republican control of the U.S. House, meanwhile, hinges on a handful of swing districts, including several in Pennsylvania. A GOP majority could make the 2024 election more vulnerable if there’s another push to subvert the will of the voters. Most of the chamber’s Republicans — including 8 of Pennsylvania’s 9 GOP House members — voted to throw out Pennsylvania’s 2020 results, but were overruled by the chamber’s Democratic majority. (Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, of Bucks County, was the lone Republican exception from Pennsylvania).
This is how Gilead happens.
Jonathan Tamari, “Trump’s ‘Stop the Steal’ allies are back on the ballot in Pa., and could win more power over the next election,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 28, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/pa-jan-6-2022-elections-mastriano-shapiro-20220728.html
“Everyone has a gun,” said the Rev. Glenn Grayson, a longtime local pastor who presided over the funeral of the teenager [Maleek Baskins]. “It’s heart-wrenching. What these kids could have been. It hurts so much to bury so much potential.”
These problems begin, however, long before these kids are shot:
“I cried to him many a-days, many a-nights,” she said of her son, who had slipped into a whirl of drugs and crime.
It’s one thing to talk about a kid’s potential and, indeed, to cry when he is dead. But to say that kid’s potential was lost when he was killed is another. We aren’t dealing effectively with the problems, the poverty, the blight, the hopelessness, the despair, that lead to this violence and this loss. Instead, we hear about proximate causes:
The reasons for the rise in shootings run the gamut, from the continued isolation of the pandemic and fights arising from social media, to the easy access of firearms on the streets, say experts and community leaders.
The giveaway is in the very next sentence:
Most of those attacks [in the first half of 2022] took place in neighborhoods that have long been hit by violent crime.
And we wonder why we can’t solve the problem.
Jon Moss, “Allegheny County homicides concentrated in small number of neighborhoods, report says,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 28, 2022, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/crime-courts/2022/07/28/allegheny-county-homicides-concentrated-small-number-neighborhoods-report-says-black-men-pittsburgh/stories/202207270111
I can’t claim any more reason for skepticism than David Dayen. I really can’t.
For 364 days, [Joe] Manchin went back and forth on pretty much all of these [previously agreed] provisions, rejecting the bill outright, then crawling back to the table, going into bargaining with [Chuck] Schumer, leaving that bargaining, and coming back. And one year to the day later, we have a bill called the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which includes everything in that previous paragraph and a lot more on energy and climate, plus the ACA insurance exchange subsidies and prescription drug price reforms we knew about. But overall, the bill spends $433 billion, a little over $1 trillion less than that original topline. Much of its revenue goes to deficit reduction.
Perhaps it’s just that I don’t trust Joe Manchin one millimeter farther than I can throw him. I’ll believe this when Joe Biden is signing it.
It seems, however, that, at least for the moment, Chuck Schumner not only has a sign-off from Joe Manchin on barely recognizable social infrastructure bill but has manueuvered the CHIPS and Science Act, a bit of industrial policy favoring domestic production of integrated chips, past Mitch McConnell:
If you told me a cosmic ray hit Washington and flipped everyone’s brains, giving Schumer the Machiavellian cunning of a Republican and giving McConnell the guileless approach of a Democrat, that might be a more plausible explanation for this display than the truth. It’s a near-legendary turn of events that infuriated McConnell so much he took hostage a bill to give dying veterans exposed to toxic burn pits medical care, something Republicans passed overwhelmingly just a few weeks ago (it needed a technical fix). The combination of the revival of the Biden agenda and red-faced Republicans making terrible choices on highly popular legislation is one for the ages.
Sorry, still not believing it. When Biden signs it, I’ll believe it. And, really, Dayen doesn’t all that much disagree, admitting that there are still opportunities for failure. I just might be more cynical.
David Dayen, “Joe Manchin and Chuck Schumer Have a Surprise for You,” American Prospect, July 28, 2022, https://prospect.org/politics/joe-manchin-and-chuck-schumer-have-a-surprise-for-you/
Elaine Godfrey, “Democrats in … Array?” Atlantic, July 28, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/newsletters/archive/2022/07/democrats-in-array/670990/
Tara Palmeri, “Joe Manchin’s Small Washington Dreams,” Puck News, July 28, 2022, https://puck.news/joe-manchins-small-washington-dreams/