An actually valid legal rationalization for the January 6, 2021, coup attempt?

COVID-19 Pandemic

Medicine and the folks who think they know better

I am no longer dividing this topic between (Inter)national and Pennsylvania region. Stories formerly listed in the latter are now included with the former.

The ruling in the Upper Saint Clair case[1] contrasts with one in August, last year, for the North Allegheny school district.[2] My impression, quite possibly incorrect, is that masking is more controversial in the South Hills area (which includes Upper Saint Clair) than in the North Hills and the judge in the Upper Saint Clair case, while claiming to be ruling according to the law, made a point of recognizing the controversy.[3] So yeah, my very deep suspicion is that he was ruling politically rather than legally.

Ben Rumsby and Simon Briggs, “Australian Open thrown into chaos as Novak Djokovic faces Sunday court hearing after government cancels visa again,” Telegraph, January 14, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/tennis/2022/01/14/novak-djokovic-visa-cancelled-australian-open-covid-unvaccinated/

Paul Karp, “Novak Djokovic leaves Australia after court upholds visa cancellation,” Guardian, January 16, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2022/jan/16/novak-djokovic-to-be-deported-from-australia-after-losing-appeal-against-visa-cancellation

Michael E. Miller, “Novak Djokovic loses visa challenge, denting hopes of playing in the Australian Open,” Washington Post, January 16, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/01/15/novak-djokovic-australia-visa/

Tumaini Carayol, “Djokovic’s French Open title defence in doubt after Covid pass ruling,” Guardian, January 17, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2022/jan/17/djokovics-french-open-title-defence-in-doubt-over-covid-pass-ruling

Andrea Stanley, “People Are Hiding That Their Unvaccinated Loved Ones Died of COVID,” Atlantic, January 18, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2022/01/unvaccinated-covid-deaths-secret-grief/621269/

Lenny Bernstein, “Inside a Rhode Island hospital E.R. overwhelmed by omicron,” Washington Post, January 19, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2022/01/19/covid-emergency-room-omicron/

Jacob Gershman, “Judge Blocks Biden Covid-19 Vaccine Mandate for Federal Workers,” Wall Street Journal, January 20, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/judge-blocks-biden-covid-19-vaccine-mandate-for-federal-workers-11642790097

Paula Reed Ward, “Federal judge rejects request to reinstate universal masking in Upper St. Clair School District,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 21, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/federal-judge-rejects-request-to-reinstate-universal-masking-in-upper-st-clair-school-district/


Donald Trump, Right-wing militias, U.S. Civil War

Coup attempt

The question of [Stewart] Rhodes’s purpose, though, is complicated by the likelihood that he and his co-conspirators believed that the election was stolen, and that Congress was acting unconstitutionally to install an illegitimate usurper as the President. In other words, the defendants’ subjective purpose may have been to fight against the subversion of law, not to prevent its execution. Thus, “the big lie”—and the troubling fact that much of the country appears to believe it is the truth—is at the core of the seditious-conspiracy charge.[4]

Oh, shit. Jeannie Suk Gersen, a Harvard law professor, is arguing that a jury may well fail to convict the leader of the Oath Keepers on a charge of seditious conspiracy.[5] I understand and accept her reasoning. I am deeply troubled that the government may not be able to overcome it.

Gersen does point out that Rhodes believed that we are headed for a civil war. But if she is concerned—rightly, I think—that jurors may believe that the 2020 election was stolen,[6] she should also be concerned that those jurors may support Donald Trump’s efforts to regain power, feel violence is justified, or even support such a civil war.[7] I would expect that voir dire, the juror selection process, should seek to weed out such potential jurors, but people who are prepared to accept violence may well be prepared to accept deceit in service to their cause and therefore being willing to deceive lawyers and the judge. And I’m not sure how, logically, advocacy for a civil war helps the prosecutors’ case anyway; to the extent such advocacy might be seen as illegal, it might be excused on the very same grounds as the attempt to stop the election certification (the coup attempt) on January 6, 2021.

This is all bad. Very, very bad. And getting worse.

David G. Savage, “Supreme Court rejects Trump’s plea to shield White House records from House inquiry,” Los Angeles Times, January 19, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2022-01-19/supreme-court-turns-down-trumps-plea-to-shield-his-white-house-records-from-house-probe

John Wagner, “Georgia prosecutor requests special grand jury in probe of Trump’s efforts to overturn state’s election results,” Washington Post, January 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/20/georgia-da-seeks-special-grand-jury-trump/

George T. Conway, III, “The Supreme Court’s order against Donald Trump is even worse for him than it appears,” Washington Post, January 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/01/21/courts-hand-donald-trump-loss-after-loss-after-loss/

Jeannie Suk Gersen, “The Case Against the Oath Keepers,” New Yorker, January 21, 2022, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-case-against-the-oath-keepers

Felicia Sonmez, Josh Dawsey, and Jonathan O’Connell, “Supreme Court, investigators force Trump and his children on the defensive on multiple fronts,” Washington Post, January 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/21/supreme-court-investigators-force-trump-his-children-defensive-multiple-fronts/

Bigotry by any other name is still bigotry

Donald Trump

I have a number of great fears. The climate crisis is one of them. Russia invading Ukraine is another. But the only way I see of averting a right-wing dictatorship in the United States now requires that Donald Trump be prevented from running for re-election to the presidency in 2024.[1]

There are actually grounds for measured optimism on the latter as the criminal injustice system grinds towards both civil and criminal cases against Trump.[2] There is, of course, a difference between the filing of a lawsuit and winning it, a difference between the filing of criminal charges and winning a conviction. There is the no small matter of Trump’s usual strategy of stalling and delay—no quibble is too minor, trivial, or flatly ludicrous to waste courts’ time—that has been seen as a reason Trump couldn’t afford to lose his re-election bid in 2020.[3]

The safer solution would be for Congress to pass and for Joe Biden to sign voting rights legislation into law to prevent the Republican Party from undermining the election system, reducing elections to authoritarian-style farces, and securing permanent power. Inadequate though this would be, it appears not to be an option[4] with a Democratic Party that seems much more comfortable in opposition and that simply can no longer be taken seriously.[5]

The consequence already is that ‘progress’ can occur only in a rightward, Trumpist direction, on issues like abortion, gun nuttery, and voter disenfranchisement, even when the Democrats putatively control the White House and Congress, with the Republicans obstructing anything even remotely positive, as they have for years, simply for the sake of obstructing.[6] This reality fills me with dread.

Coup attempt

David G. Savage, “Supreme Court rejects Trump’s plea to shield White House records from House inquiry,” Los Angeles Times, January 19, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2022-01-19/supreme-court-turns-down-trumps-plea-to-shield-his-white-house-records-from-house-probe

John Wagner, “Georgia prosecutor requests special grand jury in probe of Trump’s efforts to overturn state’s election results,” Washington Post, January 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/20/georgia-da-seeks-special-grand-jury-trump/

George T. Conway, III, “The Supreme Court’s order against Donald Trump is even worse for him than it appears,” Washington Post, January 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/01/21/courts-hand-donald-trump-loss-after-loss-after-loss/

Felicia Sonmez, Josh Dawsey, and Jonathan O’Connell, “Supreme Court, investigators force Trump and his children on the defensive on multiple fronts,” Washington Post, January 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/21/supreme-court-investigators-force-trump-his-children-defensive-multiple-fronts/

Finances

Felicia Sonmez, Josh Dawsey, and Jonathan O’Connell, “Supreme Court, investigators force Trump and his children on the defensive on multiple fronts,” Washington Post, January 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/21/supreme-court-investigators-force-trump-his-children-defensive-multiple-fronts/

Heather Vogell, “New Legal Filing Reveals Startling Details of Possible Fraud by Trump Organization,” ProPublica, January 21, 2022, https://www.propublica.org/article/new-legal-filing-reveals-startling-details-of-possible-fraud-by-trump-organization

Ed Pilkington, “‘House of Trump is crumbling’: why ex-president’s legal net is tightening,” Guardian, January 22, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jan/22/donald-trump-legal-perils


Academic freedom, Right-wing dictatorship

Jack Stripling, “Blasting U. of Florida, Judge Says Professors’ Testimony Can’t Be Blocked,” Chronicle of Higher Education, January 21, 2022, https://www.chronicle.com/article/blasting-u-of-florida-judge-says-professors-testimony-cant-be-blocked


‘S-Valley’

Some—not all—American Indians want to change the name of a valley in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Fresno County because the word ‘squaw’ came to be “an ugly profanity for vagina”[7] and reflects a treatment of Indian women as “worse than dogs — [who] could be used and traded, and killed and shot.”[8] Astonishingly, to me, at least, local white politicians see the Indians as “outsiders.” Insisting that they mean no harm with the slur, they co-opt critical theory to insist that context—a narrow context of their intent—is what matters.[9] You know, just like some white people using the n-word.[10] Or like Lauren Boebert’s “joke” to a group of Jews visiting a U.S. representative at the U.S. Capitol.[11]

Lila Seidman, “Native Americans want to ditch the name Squaw Valley. A county supervisor says context matters,” Los Angeles Times, January 18, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-01-18/native-americans-want-to-ditch-the-name-squaw-valley-a-county-supervisor-says-context-matters


Anti-semitism

Gabe Friedman, “Lauren Boebert asked Jews visiting US Capitol if they were doing ‘reconnaissance,’” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 20, 2022, https://www.jta.org/2022/01/20/politics/lauren-boebert-asked-jews-visiting-us-capitol-if-they-were-doing-reconnaissance


Ukraine

Julia Ioffe, “Trump’s Former Russia Guru Explains His Putin Complex,” Puck News, January 21, 2022, https://puck.news/fiona-hill-explains-his-putin-complex/


Pacific Gas and Electric

PG&E’s checkered record dates to at least the groundwater contamination near the Mojave Desert town of Hinkley starting in the 1950s, which made attorney Erin Brockovich a household name. In 1994, the PG&E-caused Trauner Fire led to more than 700 counts of criminal negligence in Nevada County. And the company is still under probation for its criminal conviction in the 2010 San Bruno gas pipeline explosion, which killed eight and injured dozens more in the Bay Area suburb.

The federal judge overseeing that probation recently called the company “a convicted felon that poses a safety hazard to California” and vowed to continue “rehabilitating” PG&E until the last possible moment of its probationary period.[12]

I remain dismayed that California continues to allow Pacific Gas and Electric to exist despite being a repeat felon.[13] State and local governments can clearly do otherwise and have threatened to do so.[14] Even the Sacramento Bee, hardly a radical paper, has urged some form of public takeover.[15] At some point, the negligence lies not only with the utility, but with government officials who, well aware of the risk, nonetheless fail to take action.

Robert Burnson and Mark Chediak, “As PG&E probation nears end, judge calls company a ‘continuing menace,’” Los Angeles Times, January 20, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2022-01-20/pacific-gas-electric-probation-nears-end-judge-calls-company-continuing-menace


COVID-19 Pandemic

(Inter)national

Paul Karp, “Novak Djokovic leaves Australia after court upholds visa cancellation,” Guardian, January 16, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2022/jan/16/novak-djokovic-to-be-deported-from-australia-after-losing-appeal-against-visa-cancellation

Michael E. Miller, “Novak Djokovic loses visa challenge, denting hopes of playing in the Australian Open,” Washington Post, January 16, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/01/15/novak-djokovic-australia-visa/

Tumaini Carayol, “Djokovic’s French Open title defence in doubt after Covid pass ruling,” Guardian, January 17, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2022/jan/17/djokovics-french-open-title-defence-in-doubt-over-covid-pass-ruling

Andrea Stanley, “People Are Hiding That Their Unvaccinated Loved Ones Died of COVID,” Atlantic, January 18, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2022/01/unvaccinated-covid-deaths-secret-grief/621269/

Lenny Bernstein, “Inside a Rhode Island hospital E.R. overwhelmed by omicron,” Washington Post, January 19, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2022/01/19/covid-emergency-room-omicron/

Jacob Gershman, “Judge Blocks Biden Covid-19 Vaccine Mandate for Federal Workers,” Wall Street Journal, January 20, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/judge-blocks-biden-covid-19-vaccine-mandate-for-federal-workers-11642790097


Tsunami

I hadn’t heard that a tsunami from the Tonga volcano explosion had actually reached the U.S. Pacific coast. It seems it did.[16]

Jonah Valdez, “The tsunami that battered Santa Cruz highlights the threat facing California’s coast,” Los Angeles Times, January 22, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-01-22/the-tsunami-that-battered-santa-cruz-highlights-the-threat-facing-californias-coast


  1. [1]David Benfell, “The danger that still remains,” Not Housebroken, December 11, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/11/24/the-danger-that-still-remains/
  2. [2]Ed Pilkington, “‘House of Trump is crumbling’: why ex-president’s legal net is tightening,” Guardian, January 22, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jan/22/donald-trump-legal-perils; Jennifer Rubin, “A single district attorney in Georgia has the best case against Trump,” Washington Post, January 11, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/01/11/single-district-attorney-georgia-has-best-case-against-trump/; Felicia Sonmez, Josh Dawsey, and Jonathan O’Connell, “Supreme Court, investigators force Trump and his children on the defensive on multiple fronts,” Washington Post, January 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/21/supreme-court-investigators-force-trump-his-children-defensive-multiple-fronts/; Peter Stone, “Criminal inquiry into Trump’s Georgia election interference gathers steam,” Guardian, October 5, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/oct/05/donald-trump-criminal-investigations-georgia-election-interference; Heather Vogell, “New Legal Filing Reveals Startling Details of Possible Fraud by Trump Organization,” ProPublica, January 21, 2022, https://www.propublica.org/article/new-legal-filing-reveals-startling-details-of-possible-fraud-by-trump-organization; John Wagner, “Georgia prosecutor requests special grand jury in probe of Trump’s efforts to overturn state’s election results,” Washington Post, January 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/20/georgia-da-seeks-special-grand-jury-trump/
  3. [3]Marjorie Cohn, “Trump’s Frivolous Lawsuits Are the Tip of the Iceberg in His Refusal to Concede,” Truthout, November 11, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-frivolous-lawsuits-are-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-in-his-refusal-to-concede/; Meaghan Ellis, “Legal expert explains how the walls are closing in on a flustered Trump,” Raw Story, September 25, 2021, https://www.rawstory.com/trump-legal-problems-2655172197/; Jane Mayer, “Why Trump Can’t Afford to Lose,” New Yorker, November 1, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/11/09/why-trump-cant-afford-to-lose; Andrew G. McCabe and David C. Williams, “Trump’s New Criminal Problem,” Politico, January 11, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/01/11/trumps-new-criminal-problem-457298; Jan Wolfe, “Trump challenges riot lawsuits, says fiery speech was official act,” Reuters, January 10, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/legal/government/trump-ask-judge-throw-out-suits-by-lawmakers-police-over-us-capitol-riot-2022-01-10/
  4. [4]Mike DeBonis, “Senate Republicans block voting rights bill, dealing blow to Democrats’ effort to overhaul election laws,” Washington Post, January 19, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/democrats-brace-for-likely-defeat-of-voting-rights-push-due-to-gop-filibuster/2022/01/19/2f9a734c-792d-11ec-bf97-6eac6f77fba2_story.html; Greg Sargent, “Joe Manchin finally makes it plain: He is in favor of minority rule,” Washington Post, January 19, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/01/19/joe-manchin-filibuster-voting-rights-minority-rule/
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Democrats and contradiction,” Not Housebroken, January 20, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/11/18/democrats-and-contradiction/
  6. [6]Perry Bacon, Jr., “Does Biden Really Think Republicans Will Work With Him? And Could He Be Right?” FiveThirtyEight, January 19, 2021, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/does-biden-really-think-republicans-will-work-with-him-and-could-he-be-right/; Eric Bradner and Gregory Krieg, “Joe Biden predicts a post-Trump ‘epiphany’ for Republicans,” CNN, May 14, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/14/politics/joe-biden-republicans-trump-epiphany/index.html; Moira Donegan, “What does Biden have in common with Trump? Delusional nostalgia,” Guardian, June 21, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/21/joe-biden-trump-sexism-delusional-nostalgia; Matt Ford, “Someone Please Tell Joe Biden That Bipartisanship Is Dead,” New Republic, June 12, 2019, https://newrepublic.com/article/154183/someone-please-tell-joe-biden-bipartisanship-dead; Martin Pengelly, “‘Short and not especially sweet’: Lindsey Graham called Biden over Trump support,” Guardian, August 16, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/aug/16/lindsey-graham-joe-biden-hunter-call-trump-support; William Rivers Pitt, “Mitch McConnell Says Bipartisanship Is ‘Over.’ Believe Him,” Truthout, July 7, 2021, https://truthout.org/articles/mitch-mcconnell-says-bipartisanship-is-over-believe-him/; Alex Shephard, “Bipartisanship Is Dead, and That’s Great News for Joe Biden,” New Republic, January 21, 2022, https://newrepublic.com/article/165093/bipartisanship-dead-biden-democrats-obama; Matt Viser, “Biden once asserted Republicans would have an ‘epiphany.’ Now he admits he doesn’t understand them,” Washington Post, May 6, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-once-asserted-republicans-would-have-an-epiphany-now-he-admits-he-doesnt-understand-them/2021/05/06/a8204a84-ae77-11eb-acd3-24b44a57093a_story.html; Paul Waldman, “Joe Biden still hasn’t learned the lessons of the Obama presidency,” Washington Post, December 6, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/12/06/joe-biden-still-hasnt-learned-lessons-obama-presidency/; Paul Waldman, “Behind their big defeat, Democrats may have reached a turning point,” Washington Post, January 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/01/20/democrats-turning-point/
  7. [7]Lila Seidman, “Native Americans want to ditch the name Squaw Valley. A county supervisor says context matters,” Los Angeles Times, January 18, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-01-18/native-americans-want-to-ditch-the-name-squaw-valley-a-county-supervisor-says-context-matters
  8. [8]Shirley Guevara, quoted in Lila Seidman, “Native Americans want to ditch the name Squaw Valley. A county supervisor says context matters,” Los Angeles Times, January 18, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-01-18/native-americans-want-to-ditch-the-name-squaw-valley-a-county-supervisor-says-context-matters
  9. [9]Lila Seidman, “Native Americans want to ditch the name Squaw Valley. A county supervisor says context matters,” Los Angeles Times, January 18, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-01-18/native-americans-want-to-ditch-the-name-squaw-valley-a-county-supervisor-says-context-matters
  10. [10]David Benfell, “On the ‘n-word,’” Not Housebroken, January 22, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/02/09/on-the-n-word/
  11. [11]Gabe Friedman, “Lauren Boebert asked Jews visiting US Capitol if they were doing ‘reconnaissance,’” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 20, 2022, https://www.jta.org/2022/01/20/politics/lauren-boebert-asked-jews-visiting-us-capitol-if-they-were-doing-reconnaissance
  12. [12]Sacramento Bee, “PG&E has destroyed enough California communities. It’s time for a public takeover,” November 5, 2021, https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/editorials/article255555496.html
  13. [13]Katherine Blunt, “PG&E to Plead Guilty to Involuntary Manslaughter Charges in Deadly California Wildfire,” Wall Street Journal, March 23, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pg-e-to-plead-guilty-to-involuntary-manslaughter-charges-in-deadly-california-wildfire-11584962649; Jarod Cassidy, “PG&E Guilty of 6 Felony Charges in San Bruno Pipeline Explosion,” Thomas J. Henry, October 5, 2017, https://thomasjhenrylaw.com/blog/premises-liability/pge-guilty-6-felony-charges-san-bruno-pipeline-explosion/; Richard Gonzales, “Federal Judge Imposes New Probation Terms On PG&E To Reduce Wildfire Risk,” National Public Radio, April 2, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/04/02/709248544/federal-judge-imposes-new-probation-terms-on-pg-e-to-reduce-wildfire-risk; Lyanne Melendez and Katie Marzullo, “Federal jury finds PG&E guilty of obstructing investigators,” KGO, August 10, 2016, https://abc7news.com/news/federal-jury-finds-pg-e-guilty-of-obstructing-investigators/1463352/
  14. [14]Maggie Angst and John Woolfolk, “San Jose mayor announces growing support for customer takeover of PG&E,” San Jose Mercury-News, December 5, 2019, https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/12/05/details-of-bold-plan-for-customer-owner-pge-fix-released-with-resounding-support/; Katherine Blunt and Alejandro Lazo, “California Governor Threatens State Takeover of PG&E,” Wall Street Journal, November 1, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/california-governor-threatens-state-takeover-of-pg-e-11572641749; Mary Fricker, “Exploring options for PG&E’s future,” Sonoma West Times and News, November 20, 2019, http://www.sonomawest.com/sonoma_west_times_and_news/news/exploring-options-for-pg-e-s-future/article_cdccdf26-0bc2-11ea-a06f-1bf6a8868cad.html; Dale Kasler, “Gavin Newsom rejects PG&E bankruptcy plan, demands ‘radically restructured’ CA utility,” Sacramento Bee, December 13, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article238350708.html; Dale Kasler, “PG&E makes deal with Gov. Newsom on bankruptcy demands. ‘End of business as usual,’ he says,” Sacramento Bee, March 20, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/article241379336.html; Dale Kasler, “PG&E pleads guilty to manslaughter charges for Camp Fire, deadliest in California history,” Sacramento Bee, June 16, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article243571597.html; Dale Kasler, “PG&E faces another criminal case as Sonoma County DA files charges in 2019 Kincade Fire,” Sacramento Bee, April 6, 2021, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article250471091.html; KPIX, “Federal Judge Calls PG&E ‘Recalcitrant Criminal,’ Delays New Probation Ruling,” May 28, 2020, https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2020/05/28/regulators-approve-pge-bankruptcy-plan-despite-safety-fears/; Sacramento Bee, “PG&E has destroyed enough California communities. It’s time for a public takeover,” November 5, 2021, https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/editorials/article255555496.html; Tyler Silvy, “Sonoma Clean Power officials will explore public ownership of PG&E utility lines,” Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, November 14, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/10315410-181/sonoma-clean-power-officials-will; Hayley Smith, “PG&E charged with manslaughter in Shasta County fire that killed 4,” Los Angeles Times, September 24, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-09-24/zogg-fire-charges; Rebecca Smith, “California Mayors Join Campaign to Buy Out PG&E,” Wall Street Journal, November 5, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/california-mayors-join-campaign-to-make-pg-e-a-cooperative-11572955201; Robert Burnson and Mark Chediak, “As PG&E probation nears end, judge calls company a ‘continuing menace,’” Los Angeles Times, January 20, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2022-01-20/pacific-gas-electric-probation-nears-end-judge-calls-company-continuing-menace
  15. [15]Sacramento Bee, “PG&E has destroyed enough California communities. It’s time for a public takeover,” November 5, 2021, https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/editorials/article255555496.html
  16. [16]Jonah Valdez, “The tsunami that battered Santa Cruz highlights the threat facing California’s coast,” Los Angeles Times, January 22, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-01-22/the-tsunami-that-battered-santa-cruz-highlights-the-threat-facing-californias-coast

So. Are we plowing snow or bullshit today?

Ukraine

There is a new blog post entitled, “Is the Ukraine story really somehow about U.S. politics?

Julian Borger, Luke Harding, and Andrew Roth, “US accuses Russia of conspiring to take over Ukraine government,” Guardian, January 20, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jan/20/us-russia-ukraine-government-sanctions


Pittsburgh snow

There is another new blog post entitled, “Waiting for the snow to melt.”

Julia Felton, “Pittsburgh officials say 50 trucks still cleaning snow and ice,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 20, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-officials-say-50-trucks-still-cleaning-snow-and-ice/


Donald Trump

Coup attempt

David G. Savage, “Supreme Court rejects Trump’s plea to shield White House records from House inquiry,” Los Angeles Times, January 19, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2022-01-19/supreme-court-turns-down-trumps-plea-to-shield-his-white-house-records-from-house-probe

John Wagner, “Georgia prosecutor requests special grand jury in probe of Trump’s efforts to overturn state’s election results,” Washington Post, January 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/20/georgia-da-seeks-special-grand-jury-trump/

Felicia Sonmez, Josh Dawsey, and Jonathan O’Connell, “Supreme Court, investigators force Trump and his children on the defensive on multiple fronts,” Washington Post, January 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/21/supreme-court-investigators-force-trump-his-children-defensive-multiple-fronts/

Finances

Corinne Ramey, “New York Attorney General Says Evidence Suggests Trump, Company Falsely Valued Assets,” Wall Street Journal, January 19, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-york-attorney-general-evidence-suggests-trump-and-company-falsely-valued-assets-11642573790

Felicia Sonmez, Josh Dawsey, and Jonathan O’Connell, “Supreme Court, investigators force Trump and his children on the defensive on multiple fronts,” Washington Post, January 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/21/supreme-court-investigators-force-trump-his-children-defensive-multiple-fronts/


Joe Biden’s bipartisan delusions

Alex Shephard cheers Joe Biden’s belated recognition that Republicans are obstructionist, but saves for very near the end of his article that two of his Democratic senators are too.[1] I’m sorry if I don’t see how this is very good news. Yes, it’s good that Biden comes to his senses about anything. What that means for his agenda is another question entirely.

Alex Shephard, “Bipartisanship Is Dead, and That’s Great News for Joe Biden,” New Republic, January 21, 2022, https://newrepublic.com/article/165093/bipartisanship-dead-biden-democrats-obama


COVID-19 Pandemic

(Inter)national

Jacob Gershman, “Judge Blocks Biden Covid-19 Vaccine Mandate for Federal Workers,” Wall Street Journal, January 20, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/judge-blocks-biden-covid-19-vaccine-mandate-for-federal-workers-11642790097


  1. [1]Alex Shephard, “Bipartisanship Is Dead, and That’s Great News for Joe Biden,” New Republic, January 21, 2022, https://newrepublic.com/article/165093/bipartisanship-dead-biden-democrats-obama

Lingering mysteries

Ukraine

We are still right where Julia Ioffe said we are weeks ago. Russia might invade Ukraine. It might not. We don’t know.[1]


Havana Syndrome

It seems we still know nothing[2] about what’s causing U.S. embassy workers’ maladies.[3] Which is odd, actually, because a scientific review, you know, conducted by people who ought to know what the fuck they’re talking about, had concluded that some sort of pulsed energy weapon was a likely culprit[4] and people who are subject to the attacks deeply suspect Russia.[5]

When I encounter a discrepancy like this, I ask, how can it make sense? One possible explanation is that the Central Intelligence Agency, not an especially trustworthy agency, simply still doesn’t have the ‘smoking gun’ sort of evidence to finger a culprit[6] and is therefore declining to nail one. The agency, however, is actually denying not only that it has found one, but that there is one:

“We assess it is unlikely that a foreign actor, including Russia, is conducting a sustained, world-wide campaign harming U.S. personnel with a weapon or mechanism,” a senior CIA official said.

Instead, the agency concluded that other medical conditions, stress or unexplained factors could be behind the ailments that have been reported in roughly 1,000 personnel, the official said. While it didn’t find an orchestrated global attack, the agency is still investigating individual cases to determine whether a foreign actor was behind them, the official said.

“We are pursuing this complex issue with analytic rigor, sound tradecraft, and compassion and have dedicated intensive resources to this challenge,” CIA Director William Burns said in a statement. “While we have reached some significant interim findings, we are not done. We will continue the mission to investigate these incidents and provide access to world-class care for those who need it.”[7]

But if you don’t know the cause, you don’t know the cause. This really fails to eliminate the possibility of a malicious actor. It really just means we don’t know how such an actor might be acting.

That doesn’t mean there actually is such an actor; it might indeed be “unlikely.” But this latest report really does little to dispel the fog.

Nancy A. Youssef, “Havana Syndrome Unlikely Caused by Russia, Other U.S Foes, CIA Says,” Wall Street Journal, January 20, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/havana-syndrome-unlikely-caused-by-russia-other-u-s-foes-cia-says-11642686583


Right-wing dictatorship, Joe Biden’s bipartisan delusions

On the one hand, it’s a little remarkable how quickly the failure of the Democrats’ voting rights push[8] is disappearing from the headlines. On the other hand, the failure was widely expected and, to some degree, as such, it’s barely even news. It’s really just yet one more Democratic Party failure[9] in a long list of failures on issues that are existential for lots of folks:

It’s one thing for a political party to be so plainly more comfortable in opposition where it cannot be expected to actually accomplish anything and can simply take potshots at the governing party.[11] It’s another when the list of failures is so staggering and includes a sustained and significant threat to the ability of that party to ever again achieve power. We are not yet at a point where the Democrats have lost all credibility; the bipartisan paradigm likely ensures that they will continue to be taken seriously,[12] against all evidence, for some time yet to come.

But the lack of evidence for taking the Democrats seriously is now stark.

Theodore Schleifer, “Silicon Valley’s Doomed Pursuit of D.C. Nirvana,” Puck News, January 18, 2022, https://puck.news/silicon-valleys-manchin-sinema-voting-rights-campaign/

Mike DeBonis, “Senate Republicans block voting rights bill, dealing blow to Democrats’ effort to overhaul election laws,” Washington Post, January 19, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/democrats-brace-for-likely-defeat-of-voting-rights-push-due-to-gop-filibuster/2022/01/19/2f9a734c-792d-11ec-bf97-6eac6f77fba2_story.html

Greg Sargent, “Joe Manchin finally makes it plain: He is in favor of minority rule,” Washington Post, January 19, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/01/19/joe-manchin-filibuster-voting-rights-minority-rule/

Joan E. Greve, “Mitch McConnell’s viral Black voter comments cause widespread furor,” Washington Post, January 20, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jan/20/mitch-mcconnell-republican-black-voter-comments-outrage

Paul Waldman, “Behind their big defeat, Democrats may have reached a turning point,” Washington Post, January 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/01/20/democrats-turning-point/


Donald Trump

Coup attempt

Jennifer Rubin has previously written about a district attorney, Fani Willis, investigating Donald Trump’s phone call to the Georgia Secretary of State trying to find votes.[13] Willis is now asking for a special grand jury in the matter.[14]

I am worried that a special grand jury, which “could sit for a longer period of time than a normal grand jury and . . . would focus solely on the matter at hand, which [Willis] called ‘appropriate to the complexity of the facts and circumstances involved,’”[15] may take too long. My instinct is that Trump needs to be indicted in the first half of this year.

David G. Savage, “Supreme Court rejects Trump’s plea to shield White House records from House inquiry,” Los Angeles Times, January 19, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2022-01-19/supreme-court-turns-down-trumps-plea-to-shield-his-white-house-records-from-house-probe

John Wagner, “Georgia prosecutor requests special grand jury in probe of Trump’s efforts to overturn state’s election results,” Washington Post, January 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/20/georgia-da-seeks-special-grand-jury-trump/


Pedophilia

There is the case of Jeffrey Epstein. There is also the matter of the Roman-Catholic Church, most recently in allegations that aim squarely at Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.[16] We’re seeing a pattern that, frankly, Sigmund Freud might predict,[17] where powerful men effectively enjoy unfettered sexual “access’ to vulnerable others, whether, as with Epstein and the many powerful men who socialized with him and may have shared his taste in girls.[18] or with Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky,[19] or with Clinton and his other ‘adventures,’[20] or Al Franken,[21] or Donald Trump,[22] or Joe Biden,[23] or Bill Cosby,[24] or Roger Ailes,[25] young women. This is ‘access,’ of course, that we should properly regard as rape, assault, or misconduct. It happens a lot, hence the #MeToo movement. And we must infer that it still happens a lot.

It happens so often, in fact, that we should be examining the context—the power relationships—in which they occur. It’s an odd thing that we don’t do that, perhaps because it would directly undermine a paradigm in which our rulers must be presumed ‘worthy’ and indeed have control over who will be deemed ‘worthy.’[26]

Chico Harlan and Loveday Morris, “German investigation accuses Benedict XVI of ‘wrongdoing’ in handling of abuse cases while archbishop of Munich,” Washington Post, January 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/01/20/germany-church-abuse-benedict/


Water Pollution

Jeff Himler, “Report cites water quality issues in hundreds of miles of Allegheny, Westmoreland waterways,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 20, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/regional/report-cites-water-quality-issues-in-hundreds-of-miles-of-allegheny-westmoreland-waterways/


Doomsday Clock

Paulina Firozi, “Doomsday Clock at 100 seconds to midnight for third year in a row: ‘Steady is not good news,’” Washington Post, January 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/2022/01/20/doomsday-clock-100-seconds/


Abortion

Sonia Sotomayor’s furious dissent[27] notwithstanding, this still looks to me like the Supreme Court stalling until it can issue a decision in the Mississippi case that I think will strike down Roe v. Wade.[28]

Ariane de Vogue, “Supreme Court rejects another attempt to block Texas’ six-week abortion ban,” CNN, January 20, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/20/politics/abortion-texas-sb8-supreme-court/index.html


  1. [1]Julia Ioffe, “Putin’s Post-Trump Tantrum,” Puck News, December 17, 2021, https://puck.news/putins-post-trump-tantrum/; Julia Ioffe, “Putin’s Talk Therapy,” Puck News, December 31, 2021, https://puck.news/putins-talk-therapy/
  2. [2]Nancy A. Youssef, “Havana Syndrome Unlikely Caused by Russia, Other U.S Foes, CIA Says,” Wall Street Journal, January 20, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/havana-syndrome-unlikely-caused-by-russia-other-u-s-foes-cia-says-11642686583
  3. [3]Matthew Lee and Michael Weissenstein, “Hearing loss of US diplomats in Cuba blamed on covert device,” Associated Press, August 9, 2017, https://apnews.com/article/north-america-ap-top-news-barack-obama-politics-cuba-51828908c6c84d78a29e833d0aae10aa
  4. [4]Byron Tau, “U.S. Diplomats’ Illnesses Likely Linked to Pulsed Energy Attack,” Wall Street Journal, December 6, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-diplomats-illnesses-likely-linked-to-pulsed-energy-attack-11607278210
  5. [5]Julia Ioffe, “A Cold War Saga in Biden’s Washington,” Puck News, October 20, 2021, https://puck.news/havana-syndrome-in-bidens-washington/
  6. [6]Julia Ioffe, “A Cold War Saga in Biden’s Washington,” Puck News, October 20, 2021, https://puck.news/havana-syndrome-in-bidens-washington/
  7. [7]Nancy A. Youssef, “Havana Syndrome Unlikely Caused by Russia, Other U.S Foes, CIA Says,” Wall Street Journal, January 20, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/havana-syndrome-unlikely-caused-by-russia-other-u-s-foes-cia-says-11642686583
  8. [8]Mike DeBonis, “Senate Republicans block voting rights bill, dealing blow to Democrats’ effort to overhaul election laws,” Washington Post, January 19, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/democrats-brace-for-likely-defeat-of-voting-rights-push-due-to-gop-filibuster/2022/01/19/2f9a734c-792d-11ec-bf97-6eac6f77fba2_story.html
  9. [9]Annie Linskey et al., “After one year in office, what has Biden done
    about the four crises he pledged to address?,” Washington Post, January 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/interactive/2022/biden-covid-race-economy-climate/
  10. [10]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. [11]David Benfell, “Democrats and contradiction,” Not Housebroken, January 11, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/11/18/democrats-and-contradiction/
  12. [12]See, for example, Paul Waldman, “Behind their big defeat, Democrats may have reached a turning point,” Washington Post, January 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/01/20/democrats-turning-point/
  13. [13]Amy Gardner, “‘I just want to find 11,780 votes’: In extraordinary hour-long call, Trump pressures Georgia secretary of state to recalculate the vote in his favor,” Washington Post, January 3, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-raffensperger-call-georgia-vote/2021/01/03/d45acb92-4dc4-11eb-bda4-615aaefd0555_story.html; Jennifer Rubin, “A single district attorney in Georgia has the best case against Trump,” Washington Post, January 11, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/01/11/single-district-attorney-georgia-has-best-case-against-trump/
  14. [14]John Wagner, “Georgia prosecutor requests special grand jury in probe of Trump’s efforts to overturn state’s election results,” Washington Post, January 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/20/georgia-da-seeks-special-grand-jury-trump/
  15. [15]John Wagner, “Georgia prosecutor requests special grand jury in probe of Trump’s efforts to overturn state’s election results,” Washington Post, January 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/20/georgia-da-seeks-special-grand-jury-trump/
  16. [16]Chico Harlan and Loveday Morris, “German investigation accuses Benedict XVI of ‘wrongdoing’ in handling of abuse cases while archbishop of Munich,” Washington Post, January 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/01/20/germany-church-abuse-benedict/
  17. [17]Sigmund Freud, Moses and Monotheism (New York: Vintage, 1939).
  18. [18]Dan Mangan and Kevin Breuninger, “Court releases documents about Jeffrey Epstein, accused in sex traffic case, and his alleged procurer Ghislaine Maxwell,” CNBC, August 12, 2019, https://www.cnbc.com/2019/08/09/documents-released-about-jeffrey-epstein-and-ghislaine-maxwell.html
  19. [19]Douglas O. Linder, “The Impeachment Trial of President William Clinton,” University of Missouri, Kansas City, 2005, http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/clinton/clintontrialaccount.html; Rutgers University, “The Impeachment of President Clinton,” n.d., copy in possession of author
  20. [20]David Benfell, “Yes, Hillary Clinton must answer for Bill Clinton’s sexual assaults,” Not Housebroken, October 10, 2016, https://disunitedstates.org/2016/10/10/yes-hillary-clinton-must-answer-for-bill-clintons-sexual-assaults/
  21. [21] Tara Golshan, Jen Kirby, and Andrew Prokop, “8 women have now alleged sexual misconduct by Sen. Al Franken,” Vox, December 6, 2017, https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/11/16/16665830/al-franken-sexual-assault-allegations
  22. [22]Kate Briquelet, “Experts: Leaking Michael Cohen’s Bank Records Could Be Illegal,” Daily Beast, May 10, 2018, https://www.thedailybeast.com/experts-leaking-michael-cohens-bank-records-could-be-illegal; Sarah Kliff, “Trump, Cosby, Ailes: It took celebrity accusers to make us listen to sexual assault victims,” Vox, October 18, 2016, http://www.vox.com/identities/2016/10/18/13306300/trump-cosby-ailes-sexual-harrasment
  23. [23]Marc Caputo, “Tara Reade allegations rattle Biden’s VP search,” Politico, April 30, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/30/tara-reade-biden-vice-president-224945
  24. [24]Sarah Kliff, “Trump, Cosby, Ailes: It took celebrity accusers to make us listen to sexual assault victims,” Vox, October 18, 2016, http://www.vox.com/identities/2016/10/18/13306300/trump-cosby-ailes-sexual-harrasment
  25. [25]Sarah Kliff, “Trump, Cosby, Ailes: It took celebrity accusers to make us listen to sexual assault victims,” Vox, October 18, 2016, http://www.vox.com/identities/2016/10/18/13306300/trump-cosby-ailes-sexual-harrasment
  26. [26]Christopher Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy (New York: Crown, 2012); C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite: New Edition (Oxford, UK: Oxford University, 2000).
  27. [27]Ariane de Vogue, “Supreme Court rejects another attempt to block Texas’ six-week abortion ban,” CNN, January 20, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/20/politics/abortion-texas-sb8-supreme-court/index.html
  28. [28]David Benfell, “On the likely overturning of Roe v. Wade,” Not Housebroken, December 18, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/12/02/on-the-likely-overturning-of-roe-v-wade/

Hearing loss of US diplomats in Cuba blamed on covert device

Havana Syndrome

Matthew Lee and Michael Weissenstein, “Hearing loss of US diplomats in Cuba blamed on covert device,” Associated Press, August 9, 2017, https://apnews.com/article/north-america-ap-top-news-barack-obama-politics-cuba-51828908c6c84d78a29e833d0aae10aa

Byron Tau, “U.S. Diplomats’ Illnesses Likely Linked to Pulsed Energy Attack,” Wall Street Journal, December 6, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-diplomats-illnesses-likely-linked-to-pulsed-energy-attack-11607278210

Julia Ioffe, “A Cold War Saga in Biden’s Washington,” Puck News, October 20, 2021, https://puck.news/havana-syndrome-in-bidens-washington/

Nancy A. Youssef, “Havana Syndrome Unlikely Caused by Russia, Other U.S Foes, CIA Says,” Wall Street Journal, January 20, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/havana-syndrome-unlikely-caused-by-russia-other-u-s-foes-cia-says-11642686583

Donald Trump loses again at the Supreme Court while New York Attorney General thinks he falsely valued assets

Donald Trump

Finances

Corinne Ramey, “New York Attorney General Says Evidence Suggests Trump, Company Falsely Valued Assets,” Wall Street Journal, January 19, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-york-attorney-general-evidence-suggests-trump-and-company-falsely-valued-assets-11642573790

Coup attempt

David G. Savage, “Supreme Court rejects Trump’s plea to shield White House records from House inquiry,” Los Angeles Times, January 19, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2022-01-19/supreme-court-turns-down-trumps-plea-to-shield-his-white-house-records-from-house-probe


Pittsburgh snow

The temperature climbed into the 40s most of the day today while I had short rides with long intervals in between. I didn’t make it into Pittsburgh until late in the day; by then most of the slush had melted. One of my passengers said a snow plow had just finally made it to her street today.

According to Weather Underground, it’s supposed to dip back into the 20s tomorrow, teens tomorrow night, and there’s still lots of moisture on the roads just waiting to freeze. Just can’t wait.


Erie

My January trip to Erie will be next Wednesday and Thursday, staying overnight Wednesday. I’m taking these trips to evaluate whether there is sufficient business in Erie to support me as, unfortunately, an Uber driver. The December trip was impressive, but January is worse, and February is still even worse. The goal is to at least match the dismal Pittsburgh baselines at the worst time of year. If, as I now expect, I do at least as well, then it becomes possible for me to consider moving to Erie, where the roads are better, the driving is much saner, and the people overall seem more progressive politically.

The February trip is scheduled for the Wednesday the 9th through Thursday the 10th, staying overnight Wednesday.


Right-wing dictatorship

As expected, Republicans filibustered voting rights legislation on the Senate floor. Now filibuster reform was widely expected to fail and utterly unsurprisingly did, thanks, equally unsurprisingly, to Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.[1]

Theodore Schleifer, “Silicon Valley’s Doomed Pursuit of D.C. Nirvana,” Puck News, January 18, 2022, https://puck.news/silicon-valleys-manchin-sinema-voting-rights-campaign/

Mike DeBonis, “Senate Republicans block voting rights bill, dealing blow to Democrats’ effort to overhaul election laws,” Washington Post, January 19, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/democrats-brace-for-likely-defeat-of-voting-rights-push-due-to-gop-filibuster/2022/01/19/2f9a734c-792d-11ec-bf97-6eac6f77fba2_story.html

Greg Sargent, “Joe Manchin finally makes it plain: He is in favor of minority rule,” Washington Post, January 19, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/01/19/joe-manchin-filibuster-voting-rights-minority-rule/


  1. [1]Mike DeBonis, “Senate Republicans block voting rights bill, dealing blow to Democrats’ effort to overhaul election laws,” Washington Post, January 19, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/democrats-brace-for-likely-defeat-of-voting-rights-push-due-to-gop-filibuster/2022/01/19/2f9a734c-792d-11ec-bf97-6eac6f77fba2_story.html

Excuses, excuses, excuses

Pittsburgh snow

So they promised the snow plowing response to this storm that hit Sunday afternoon would be better than the season debut.[1] It wasn’t. They said it would be good in time for the Tuesday commute.[2] It wasn’t.

Guess what season it is? It’s Pittsburgh Public Works excuse-making season! Yup, here’s Acting Public Works Director Chris Hornstein: “Despite challenges with equipment, our goal is to have all the streets plowed by tonight.”[3] In case you lost track, this is Tuesday night. They haven’t just blown the morning commute that had been promised after the earlier promise had been broken, but the evening commute as well and we’re still wondering if they’re going to make either Wednesday commute.

For the record, I was in Oakland, near the hospitals, this evening, Tuesday evening. It was clear that even these roads, in this, what should be the highest priority area, where ambulances are bringing in emergency patients all day and all night, had not been plowed. The snow had merely been pulverized into slush by the traffic.

I had a relatively young passenger talking about the situation on Monday with her friend. She said she knows these snow plow operators work long, hard hours in the wee hours of the night. She wants to sympathize, really, she does. “But at the same time,” she continued, “where are you?”

And I’ve just really just completely had it with politicians’ excuses.[4]

Kylie Walker, “Pittsburgh Public Works releases statement in response to snow removal concerns,” WTAE, January 18, 2022, https://www.wtae.com/article/pittsburgh-public-works-releases-statement-in-response-to-snow-removal-concerns/38803017


Right-wing dictatorship

Theodore Schleifer, “Silicon Valley’s Doomed Pursuit of D.C. Nirvana,” Puck News, January 18, 2022, https://puck.news/silicon-valleys-manchin-sinema-voting-rights-campaign/


Wilkinsburg merger

When the court ordered the Pittsburgh City Council to make a decision within 30 days on whether to submit the Wilkinsburg annexation proposal to Wilkinsburg voters,[5] it left council members feeling the process was rushed.[6]

This isn’t necessarily a permanent ‘no,’ though the group who wants Pittsburgh to annex Wilkinsburg and whose pursuit of that court order now seems to have backfired, would probably have to submit another request to the court for a new order. It’s also going to need to look like Black people are on board with the idea, not just white people, and some folks need to get their numbers—numbers they apparently already should have—in order.[7]

While it’s not an explicit rejection of Rich Fitzgerald’s “trickle-down” argument for a merger,[8] it does sorta kinda sound like the council wants to see some details. Neoliberal bromides clearly ain’t doing it for them.

Julia Felton, “Pittsburgh City Council poised to dismiss Wilkinsburg annexation proposal,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 18, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-city-council-poised-to-dismiss-wilkinsburg-annexation-proposal/


Police White supremacist gangs

Pittsburgh recently banned stops for minor traffic violations to reduce interactions between Black people and white supremacist gangsters.[9] Now it might require these gangsters to document their reasons for “stop and frisk,” which most often happens with Black people. There would be exceptions, though,[10] which I would expect the gangsters to fully exploit.

Julia Felton, “Pittsburgh City Council considers stop-and-frisk policy for police,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 18, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-city-council-considers-stop-and-frisk-policy-for-police/


COVID-19 Pandemic

(Inter)national

Oh, gee! It’s another sympathize with the anti-vaccination dead article.[11] Fuck that. Fuck it all to hell.[12] These people are preventing the rest of us from getting back to ‘normal’[13] and they blew off any right to sympathy when they chose “Fuck Your Feelings” for a campaign slogan. So, no, absolutely fucking not. No sympathy. Everyone of these mother fuckers who dies is that much less of a burden on the planet.

Travis Caldwell and Deidre McPhillips, “Covid-19 hospitalizations reach record high, HHS data shows,” CNN, January 11, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/11/health/us-coronavirus-tuesday/index.html

Max Hoppenstedt and Jörn Meyn, “Were the Results of a Positive PCR Test Manipulated?” Spiegel, January 11, 2022, https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/novak-djokovic-were-the-results-of-his-positive-pcr-test-manipulated-a-cf3e7344-e98f-4fc3-8bb3-7727d4795e97

Arwa Mahdawi, “Anti-vaxxers are touting another new Covid ‘cure’ – drinking urine. But they are not the only obstacles to ending the pandemic,” Guardian, January 11, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jan/11/anti-vaxxers-covid-drinking-urine-misinformation

Scott Calvert and Ben Chapman, “Schools See Big Drop in Attendance as Students Stay Away, Citing Covid-19,” Wall Street Journal, January 12, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/schools-see-big-drop-in-attendance-as-students-stay-away-citing-covid-19-11641988802

Kristin Gelineau, “Amid Djokovic backlash, Australia grapples with omicron wave,” Associated Press, January 12, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-novak-djokovic-sports-health-sydney-37b896e43f91a051990606ef7a963a76

Sarah Jones, “We’re Having the Wrong Conversation About School,” New York, January 12, 2022, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2022/01/were-having-the-wrong-conversation-about-school.html

Jon Pye and Rod McGuirk, “Djokovic: Not isolating after COVID infection was ‘error,’” Associated Press, January 12, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/immigration-coronavirus-pandemic-novak-djokovic-sports-health-591c103de643abc147b0fb7e2703afc2

Hayley Smith, “With hospitals reeling, California tells COVID-positive medical workers to stay on the job,” Los Angeles Times, January 12, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-01-12/california-to-covid-positive-healthcare-workers-keep-working

Lindsey Tanner, “Low COVID-19 vaccination rates in kids ages 5 to 11 called a ‘gut punch,’ WTAE, January 12, 2022, https://www.wtae.com/article/young-kids-low-covid-19-vaccination-rates-called-gut-punch/38749433

Rosalio Ahumada, “Sheriff to release 203 inmates to halt outbreak as COVID cases quadruple at Sacramento jails,” Sacramento Bee, January 13, 2022, https://www.sacbee.com/news/coronavirus/article257309602.html

Robert Barnes, “Supreme Court blocks Biden’s workplace vaccine rules, allows requirement for health-care workers,” Washington Post, January 13, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-biden-vaccine-rules/2022/01/13/2e6e4b9e-749e-11ec-bc13-18891499c514_story.html

David Ingram, “Quietly and over some objections, a national digital vaccine card has emerged,” NBC News, January 13, 2022, https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/national-covid-vaccine-card-quietly-emerged-rcna11678

Anthony Galloway, “Djokovic heading back into detention, deportation on hold,” Sydney Morning Herald, January 14, 2022, https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/novak-djokovic-s-visa-cancelled-throwing-australian-open-draw-into-chaos-20220113-p59nwe.html

Oliver Laughland, “Southern US hospitals grapple with staff shortages amid record Covid cases,” Guardian, January 14, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jan/14/southern-us-hospitals-staff-shortages-record-covid-cases

Michael E. Miller, “Novak Djokovic detained again just two days before start of Australian Open,” Washington Post, January 14, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/01/14/novak-djokovic-australia-visa/

Ben Rumsby and Simon Briggs, “Australian Open thrown into chaos as Novak Djokovic faces Sunday court hearing after government cancels visa again,” Telegraph, January 14, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/tennis/2022/01/14/novak-djokovic-visa-cancelled-australian-open-covid-unvaccinated/

Paul Karp, “Novak Djokovic leaves Australia after court upholds visa cancellation,” Guardian, January 16, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2022/jan/16/novak-djokovic-to-be-deported-from-australia-after-losing-appeal-against-visa-cancellation

Michael E. Miller, “Novak Djokovic loses visa challenge, denting hopes of playing in the Australian Open,” Washington Post, January 16, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/01/15/novak-djokovic-australia-visa/

Tumaini Carayol, “Djokovic’s French Open title defence in doubt after Covid pass ruling,” Guardian, January 17, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2022/jan/17/djokovics-french-open-title-defence-in-doubt-over-covid-pass-ruling

Andrea Stanley, “People Are Hiding That Their Unvaccinated Loved Ones Died of COVID,” Atlantic, January 18, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2022/01/unvaccinated-covid-deaths-secret-grief/621269/


  1. [1]Julia Felton, “Pittsburgh officials say snow response will be better ahead of Sunday storm,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 14, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-officials-say-snow-response-will-be-better-ahead-of-sunday-storm/
  2. [2]Julia Felton, “Pittsburgh officials say they expect to have streets cleared for Tuesday commute,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 17, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-officials-say-they-expect-to-have-streets-cleared-for-tuesday-commute/
  3. [3]Chris Hornstein, quoted in Kylie Walker, “Pittsburgh Public Works releases statement in response to snow removal concerns,” WTAE, January 18, 2022, https://www.wtae.com/article/pittsburgh-public-works-releases-statement-in-response-to-snow-removal-concerns/38803017
  4. [4]David Benfell, “It is what it is,” Not Housebroken, December 31, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/12/31/it-is-what-it-is/
  5. [5]Megan Guza, “Pittsburgh City Council must vote whether Wilkinsburg annexation will appear on borough’s ballot,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 5, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-city-council-must-vote-whether-wilkinsburg-annexation-will-appear-on-boroughs-ballot/
  6. [6]Julia Felton, “Pittsburgh City Council poised to dismiss Wilkinsburg annexation proposal,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 18, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-city-council-poised-to-dismiss-wilkinsburg-annexation-proposal/
  7. [7]Julia Felton, “Pittsburgh City Council poised to dismiss Wilkinsburg annexation proposal,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 18, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-city-council-poised-to-dismiss-wilkinsburg-annexation-proposal/
  8. [8]Megan Guza, “Pittsburgh City Council must vote whether Wilkinsburg annexation will appear on borough’s ballot,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 5, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-city-council-must-vote-whether-wilkinsburg-annexation-will-appear-on-boroughs-ballot/
  9. [9]Julia Felton, “Pittsburgh bans traffic stops for minor violations,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 28, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-bans-traffic-stops-for-minor-violations/
  10. [10]Julia Felton, “Pittsburgh City Council considers stop-and-frisk policy for police,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 18, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-city-council-considers-stop-and-frisk-policy-for-police/
  11. [11]Andrea Stanley, “People Are Hiding That Their Unvaccinated Loved Ones Died of COVID,” Atlantic, January 18, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2022/01/unvaccinated-covid-deaths-secret-grief/621269/
  12. [12]David Benfell, “What we owe anti-vaxxers in a life-threatening pandemic,” Not Housebroken, December 18, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/09/28/what-we-owe-anti-vaxxers-in-a-life-threatening-pandemic/; David Benfell, “The COVID-19 anti-vaccination double standard,” Not Housebroken, December 19, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/12/19/the-covid-19-anti-vaccination-double-standard/
  13. [13]Elliot Douglas and Rina Goldenberg, “COVID: Germany introduces new measures to curb the pandemic,” Deutschewelle, November 18, 2021, https://www.dw.com/en/covid-germany-introduces-new-measures-to-curb-the-pandemic/a-59852951; Anthony Faiola, “Squeezed by mandates and restrictions, Europe’s anti-vaxxers rebel,” Washington Post, November 22, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2021/11/22/squeezed-by-mandates-restrictions-europes-anti-vaxxers-rebel/; Justin Huggler, “Angela Merkel backs compulsory Covid jabs as Germany agrees de facto lockdown for unvaccinated,” Telegraph, December 2, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2021/12/02/germany-announce-nationwide-covid-lockdown-unvaccinated/; Samantha Lock, “Austria province to place millions of unvaccinated people in Covid lockdown,” Guardian, November 11, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/nov/12/austria-province-to-place-millions-of-unvaccinated-people-in-covid-lockdown; Bojan Pancevski, “Austria Becomes First in Europe to Impose Vaccine Mandate, Return to Lockdown,” Wall Street Journal, November 19, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/austria-locks-down-imposes-broad-vaccine-mandate-as-covid-19-cases-surge-11637323344

Promises written in slush

Pittsburgh snow

They promised the response would be better to the storm that did indeed hit yesterday.[1] I’ve been out all day. I’d have to say no, it was not better. I continue to be astonished by the unplowed roads, the main streets around the hospitals and downtown where the accumulated snow had simply been left to go to slush. Now they’re saying it’ll be better for tomorrow.[2] We’ll see.

In general, the roads were passable. There was one hill, I think in Carrick, I failed to climb. Otherwise, I did do a little slipping and sliding but nothing that really alarmed me.

Julia Felton, “Pittsburgh officials say they expect to have streets cleared for Tuesday commute,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 17, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-officials-say-they-expect-to-have-streets-cleared-for-tuesday-commute/


COVID-19 Pandemic

(Inter)national

Travis Caldwell and Deidre McPhillips, “Covid-19 hospitalizations reach record high, HHS data shows,” CNN, January 11, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/11/health/us-coronavirus-tuesday/index.html

Max Hoppenstedt and Jörn Meyn, “Were the Results of a Positive PCR Test Manipulated?” Spiegel, January 11, 2022, https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/novak-djokovic-were-the-results-of-his-positive-pcr-test-manipulated-a-cf3e7344-e98f-4fc3-8bb3-7727d4795e97

Arwa Mahdawi, “Anti-vaxxers are touting another new Covid ‘cure’ – drinking urine. But they are not the only obstacles to ending the pandemic,” Guardian, January 11, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jan/11/anti-vaxxers-covid-drinking-urine-misinformation

Scott Calvert and Ben Chapman, “Schools See Big Drop in Attendance as Students Stay Away, Citing Covid-19,” Wall Street Journal, January 12, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/schools-see-big-drop-in-attendance-as-students-stay-away-citing-covid-19-11641988802

Kristin Gelineau, “Amid Djokovic backlash, Australia grapples with omicron wave,” Associated Press, January 12, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-novak-djokovic-sports-health-sydney-37b896e43f91a051990606ef7a963a76

Sarah Jones, “We’re Having the Wrong Conversation About School,” New York, January 12, 2022, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2022/01/were-having-the-wrong-conversation-about-school.html

Jon Pye and Rod McGuirk, “Djokovic: Not isolating after COVID infection was ‘error,’” Associated Press, January 12, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/immigration-coronavirus-pandemic-novak-djokovic-sports-health-591c103de643abc147b0fb7e2703afc2

Hayley Smith, “With hospitals reeling, California tells COVID-positive medical workers to stay on the job,” Los Angeles Times, January 12, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-01-12/california-to-covid-positive-healthcare-workers-keep-working

Lindsey Tanner, “Low COVID-19 vaccination rates in kids ages 5 to 11 called a ‘gut punch,’ WTAE, January 12, 2022, https://www.wtae.com/article/young-kids-low-covid-19-vaccination-rates-called-gut-punch/38749433

Rosalio Ahumada, “Sheriff to release 203 inmates to halt outbreak as COVID cases quadruple at Sacramento jails,” Sacramento Bee, January 13, 2022, https://www.sacbee.com/news/coronavirus/article257309602.html

Robert Barnes, “Supreme Court blocks Biden’s workplace vaccine rules, allows requirement for health-care workers,” Washington Post, January 13, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-biden-vaccine-rules/2022/01/13/2e6e4b9e-749e-11ec-bc13-18891499c514_story.html

David Ingram, “Quietly and over some objections, a national digital vaccine card has emerged,” NBC News, January 13, 2022, https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/national-covid-vaccine-card-quietly-emerged-rcna11678

Anthony Galloway, “Djokovic heading back into detention, deportation on hold,” Sydney Morning Herald, January 14, 2022, https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/novak-djokovic-s-visa-cancelled-throwing-australian-open-draw-into-chaos-20220113-p59nwe.html

Oliver Laughland, “Southern US hospitals grapple with staff shortages amid record Covid cases,” Guardian, January 14, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jan/14/southern-us-hospitals-staff-shortages-record-covid-cases

Michael E. Miller, “Novak Djokovic detained again just two days before start of Australian Open,” Washington Post, January 14, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/01/14/novak-djokovic-australia-visa/

Ben Rumsby and Simon Briggs, “Australian Open thrown into chaos as Novak Djokovic faces Sunday court hearing after government cancels visa again,” Telegraph, January 14, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/tennis/2022/01/14/novak-djokovic-visa-cancelled-australian-open-covid-unvaccinated/

Paul Karp, “Novak Djokovic leaves Australia after court upholds visa cancellation,” Guardian, January 16, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2022/jan/16/novak-djokovic-to-be-deported-from-australia-after-losing-appeal-against-visa-cancellation

Michael E. Miller, “Novak Djokovic loses visa challenge, denting hopes of playing in the Australian Open,” Washington Post, January 16, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/01/15/novak-djokovic-australia-visa/

Tumaini Carayol, “Djokovic’s French Open title defence in doubt after Covid pass ruling,” Guardian, January 17, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2022/jan/17/djokovics-french-open-title-defence-in-doubt-over-covid-pass-ruling

  1. [1]Julia Felton, “Pittsburgh officials say snow response will be better ahead of Sunday storm,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 14, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-officials-say-snow-response-will-be-better-ahead-of-sunday-storm/
  2. [2]Julia Felton, “Pittsburgh officials say they expect to have streets cleared for Tuesday commute,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 17, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-officials-say-they-expect-to-have-streets-cleared-for-tuesday-commute/

If you can’t beat it, normalize it?

COVID-19 Pandemic

(Inter)national

Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, “Supreme Court seems skeptical of Biden’s vaccine rules for businesses, more receptive to policy for health-care workers,” Washington Post, January 7, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-biden-vaccine-mandate/2022/01/06/93b4d45c-6f2e-11ec-a5d2-7712163262f0_story.html

Angie Schmitt, “Why I Soured on the Democrats,” Atlantic, January 7, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/01/democrats-botched-public-school-covid-policy/621183/

Will Sommer, “QAnon Star Who Said Only ‘Idiots’ Get Vax Dies of COVID,” Daily Beast, January 7, 2022, https://www.thedailybeast.com/qanon-star-cirsten-weldon-who-said-only-idiots-get-vaccinated-dies-of-covid

James Tapper, Michael Savage, and Robin McKie, “End mass jabs and live with Covid, says ex-head of vaccine taskforce,” Guardian, January 8, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jan/08/end-mass-jabs-and-live-with-covid-says-ex-head-of-vaccine-taskforce

Michael E. Miller, “Novak Djokovic wins case against Australia over canceled visa, clearing path for him to play in Melbourne,” Washington Post, January 9, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/01/09/novak-djokovic-australia-court-visa/

Patrick Reilly, “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tests positive for COVID-19,” New York Post, January 9, 2022, https://nypost.com/2022/01/09/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-tests-positive-for-covid-19/

Melanie Evans, “Hospitals Cut Beds as Nurses Call In Sick With Covid-19,” Wall Street Journal, January 10, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/hospitals-cut-beds-as-nurses-call-in-sick-with-covid-19-11641810781

Amy Graff, “Head of COVID response at UCSF: ‘I have not intubated a single COVID patient during this Omicron surge,’ SFGate, January 10, 2022, https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/COVID-San-Francisco-staff-shortage-UCSF-16758335.php

Steve Lundeberg, “Oregon State research shows hemp compounds prevent coronavirus from entering human cells,” Oregon State University, January 10, 2022, https://today.oregonstate.edu/news/oregon-state-research-shows-hemp-compounds-prevent-coronavirus-entering-human-cells

Derek Thompson, “Why More Americans Are Saying They’re ‘Vaxxed and Done,’” Atlantic, January 10, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/01/covid-omicron-vaccination-rashomon/621199/

Travis Caldwell and Deidre McPhillips, “Covid-19 hospitalizations reach record high, HHS data shows,” CNN, January 11, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/11/health/us-coronavirus-tuesday/index.html

Max Hoppenstedt and Jörn Meyn, “Were the Results of a Positive PCR Test Manipulated?” Spiegel, January 11, 2022, https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/novak-djokovic-were-the-results-of-his-positive-pcr-test-manipulated-a-cf3e7344-e98f-4fc3-8bb3-7727d4795e97

Arwa Mahdawi, “Anti-vaxxers are touting another new Covid ‘cure’ – drinking urine. But they are not the only obstacles to ending the pandemic,” Guardian, January 11, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jan/11/anti-vaxxers-covid-drinking-urine-misinformation

Scott Calvert and Ben Chapman, “Schools See Big Drop in Attendance as Students Stay Away, Citing Covid-19,” Wall Street Journal, January 12, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/schools-see-big-drop-in-attendance-as-students-stay-away-citing-covid-19-11641988802

Kristin Gelineau, “Amid Djokovic backlash, Australia grapples with omicron wave,” Associated Press, January 12, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-novak-djokovic-sports-health-sydney-37b896e43f91a051990606ef7a963a76

Sarah Jones, “We’re Having the Wrong Conversation About School,” New York, January 12, 2022, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2022/01/were-having-the-wrong-conversation-about-school.html

Jon Pye and Rod McGuirk, “Djokovic: Not isolating after COVID infection was ‘error,’” Associated Press, January 12, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/immigration-coronavirus-pandemic-novak-djokovic-sports-health-591c103de643abc147b0fb7e2703afc2

Hayley Smith, “With hospitals reeling, California tells COVID-positive medical workers to stay on the job,” Los Angeles Times, January 12, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-01-12/california-to-covid-positive-healthcare-workers-keep-working

Lindsey Tanner, “Low COVID-19 vaccination rates in kids ages 5 to 11 called a ‘gut punch,’ WTAE, January 12, 2022, https://www.wtae.com/article/young-kids-low-covid-19-vaccination-rates-called-gut-punch/38749433

Rosalio Ahumada, “Sheriff to release 203 inmates to halt outbreak as COVID cases quadruple at Sacramento jails,” Sacramento Bee, January 13, 2022, https://www.sacbee.com/news/coronavirus/article257309602.html

Robert Barnes, “Supreme Court blocks Biden’s workplace vaccine rules, allows requirement for health-care workers,” Washington Post, January 13, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-biden-vaccine-rules/2022/01/13/2e6e4b9e-749e-11ec-bc13-18891499c514_story.html

David Ingram, “Quietly and over some objections, a national digital vaccine card has emerged,” NBC News, January 13, 2022, https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/national-covid-vaccine-card-quietly-emerged-rcna11678

Anthony Galloway, “Djokovic heading back into detention, deportation on hold,” Sydney Morning Herald, January 14, 2022, https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/novak-djokovic-s-visa-cancelled-throwing-australian-open-draw-into-chaos-20220113-p59nwe.html

Oliver Laughland, “Southern US hospitals grapple with staff shortages amid record Covid cases,” Guardian, January 14, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jan/14/southern-us-hospitals-staff-shortages-record-covid-cases

Michael E. Miller, “Novak Djokovic detained again just two days before start of Australian Open,” Washington Post, January 14, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/01/14/novak-djokovic-australia-visa/

Ben Rumsby and Simon Briggs, “Australian Open thrown into chaos as Novak Djokovic faces Sunday court hearing after government cancels visa again,” Telegraph, January 14, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/tennis/2022/01/14/novak-djokovic-visa-cancelled-australian-open-covid-unvaccinated/


Ukraine

Vladimir Putin is really going to invade Ukraine or he’s decided he isn’t getting enough attention. The trouble, really, is we really don’t know which and, of course, these aren’t really mutually exclusive possibilities.[1]

Natasha Bertrand and Jeremy Herb, “US intelligence indicates Russia preparing operation to justify invasion of Ukraine,” CNN, January 14, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/14/politics/us-intelligence-russia-false-flag/index.html


Pittsburgh snow


I am expecting to have to quit early Sunday, if I go out at all.

Julia Felton, “Pittsburgh officials say snow response will be better ahead of Sunday storm,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 14, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-officials-say-snow-response-will-be-better-ahead-of-sunday-storm/


  1. [1]Anne Applebaum, “The U.S. Is Naive About Russia. Ukraine Can’t Afford to Be,” Atlantic, January 3, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/01/ukraine-russia-kyiv-putin-bluff/621145/; Julia Ioffe, “Putin’s Post-Trump Tantrum,” Puck News, December 17, 2021, https://puck.news/putins-post-trump-tantrum/; Julia Ioffe, “Putin’s Talk Therapy,” Puck News, December 31, 2021, https://puck.news/putins-talk-therapy/

See you in Leavenworth

Donald Trump

Coup attempt

I didn’t believe this when I first saw it on Twitter, which is why I found the WFLA story. It’s true[1] and Philip Bump explains that “if we expand this universe [of people who have committed Unidentified Federal Crime and are going to prison] to all American adults, we’re still more than 40 million short of [Mike] Lindell’s target for incarceration.”[2] Remember that the police white supremacist gangsters would have to arrest themselves.

Basically, the number of people that [Mike] Lindell has identified as culpable here is every American aged 7 and up, a group that totals 302 million. If we assume that everyone who was 6 or younger did not commit The Crime That Is So Bad, then we get to Lindell’s number. Sorry for those 9-year-olds about to spend the next 65 years at Leavenworth.[3]

Leavenworth should be interesting. The guards will all be prisoners too.

The WFLA story assumes but does not quote Mike Lindell saying that these 300 million people are all Amerikkkans,[4] and Bump does consider the possibility that “1 in 26 people globally,” not necessarily Amerikkkans, would be imprisoned.[5]

Just remember that starting with the next Congress, these people will almost certainly be our rulers.

Philip Bump, “Are you one of the 1 in 11 Americans Mike Lindell doesn’t want to arrest?” Washington Post, January 12, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/12/are-you-one-1-11-americans-mike-lindell-doesnt-want-arrest/

John Lynch and Nathaniel Rodriguez, “My Pillow CEO says he has ‘enough evidence’ to put ‘300 million’ Americans in jail,” WFLA, January 12, 2022, https://www.wfla.com/news/national/my-pillow-ceo-says-he-has-enough-evidence-to-put-300-million-americans-in-jail/


Right-wing dictatorship

Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are aiding and abetting the establishment of a right-wing dictatorship in the United States. But I cannot believe that there isn’t some pressure that can be brought to bear on them to force their capitulation.

Nobody, especially nobody who is filthy rich, is truly squeaky clean. They can be embarrassed. They can be humiliated. They can lose privileges. They can be made to pay. They can even go to prison.

If you really want something done, and you have an obstacle such as Manchin and Sinema, this is what you do. That Democratic Party leadership, including Joe Biden, isn’t doing it convinces me that they are not serious.

David Daley, “Seven ways Republicans are already undermining the 2024 election,” Guardian, January 10, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jan/10/republicans-election-democracy-seven-ways-trump

Jonathan Lai, “Pennsylvania Republicans want a lot more power in redistricting for state maps,” Philadelphia Inquirer, January 10, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/pennsylvania-redistricting-republicans-constitutional-amendment-20220110.html

Ed Kilgore, “Who Is Biden’s Big Georgia Voting-Rights Speech Really For?” New York, January 11, 2022, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2022/01/bidens-georgia-voting-rights-speech-whos-it-really-for.html

Alex Leary and Eliza Collins, “Biden Endorses Filibuster Rule Changes if Necessary to Pass Voting Legislation,” Wall Street Journal, January 11, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/biden-casts-election-law-votes-as-turning-point-for-nation-in-speech-11641897003

Jewel Wicker, “Georgia activists warn Biden against a ‘photo-op’ visit that lacks voting rights plan,” Guardian, January 11, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jan/11/georgia-biden-harris-visit-voting-rights-bill

Jessie Balmert, Laura A. Bischoff, and Anna Staver, “Redistricting: Ohio Supreme Court strikes down state House and Senate maps,” Columbus Dispatch, January 12, 2022, https://www.dispatch.com/story/news/politics/2022/01/12/redistricting-ohio-supreme-court-rejects-state-house-and-senate-maps/6447740001/

Mike DeBonis and Seung Min Kim, “Sinema and Manchin confirm opposition to eliminating filibuster, likely dooming Democrats’ voting rights push,” Washington Post, January 13, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-set-to-visit-senate-democrats-in-a-final-improbable-pitch-for-voting-rights-action/2022/01/13/fde533b6-7475-11ec-8b0a-bcfab800c430_story.html


COVID-19 Pandemic

(Inter)national

Leana S. Wen, “Omicron is not a reason to keep schools closed,” Washington Post, January 6, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/01/06/omicron-is-not-reason-keep-schools-closed/

Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, “Supreme Court seems skeptical of Biden’s vaccine rules for businesses, more receptive to policy for health-care workers,” Washington Post, January 7, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-biden-vaccine-mandate/2022/01/06/93b4d45c-6f2e-11ec-a5d2-7712163262f0_story.html

Angie Schmitt, “Why I Soured on the Democrats,” Atlantic, January 7, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/01/democrats-botched-public-school-covid-policy/621183/

Will Sommer, “QAnon Star Who Said Only ‘Idiots’ Get Vax Dies of COVID,” Daily Beast, January 7, 2022, https://www.thedailybeast.com/qanon-star-cirsten-weldon-who-said-only-idiots-get-vaccinated-dies-of-covid

James Tapper, Michael Savage, and Robin McKie, “End mass jabs and live with Covid, says ex-head of vaccine taskforce,” Guardian, January 8, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jan/08/end-mass-jabs-and-live-with-covid-says-ex-head-of-vaccine-taskforce

Michael E. Miller, “Novak Djokovic wins case against Australia over canceled visa, clearing path for him to play in Melbourne,” Washington Post, January 9, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/01/09/novak-djokovic-australia-court-visa/

Patrick Reilly, “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tests positive for COVID-19,” New York Post, January 9, 2022, https://nypost.com/2022/01/09/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-tests-positive-for-covid-19/

Melanie Evans, “Hospitals Cut Beds as Nurses Call In Sick With Covid-19,” Wall Street Journal, January 10, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/hospitals-cut-beds-as-nurses-call-in-sick-with-covid-19-11641810781

Amy Graff, “Head of COVID response at UCSF: ‘I have not intubated a single COVID patient during this Omicron surge,’ SFGate, January 10, 2022, https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/COVID-San-Francisco-staff-shortage-UCSF-16758335.php

Steve Lundeberg, “Oregon State research shows hemp compounds prevent coronavirus from entering human cells,” Oregon State University, January 10, 2022, https://today.oregonstate.edu/news/oregon-state-research-shows-hemp-compounds-prevent-coronavirus-entering-human-cells

Derek Thompson, “Why More Americans Are Saying They’re ‘Vaxxed and Done,’” Atlantic, January 10, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/01/covid-omicron-vaccination-rashomon/621199/

Travis Caldwell and Deidre McPhillips, “Covid-19 hospitalizations reach record high, HHS data shows,” CNN, January 11, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/11/health/us-coronavirus-tuesday/index.html

Max Hoppenstedt and Jörn Meyn, “Were the Results of a Positive PCR Test Manipulated?” Spiegel, January 11, 2022, https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/novak-djokovic-were-the-results-of-his-positive-pcr-test-manipulated-a-cf3e7344-e98f-4fc3-8bb3-7727d4795e97

Arwa Mahdawi, “Anti-vaxxers are touting another new Covid ‘cure’ – drinking urine. But they are not the only obstacles to ending the pandemic,” Guardian, January 11, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jan/11/anti-vaxxers-covid-drinking-urine-misinformation

Scott Calvert and Ben Chapman, “Schools See Big Drop in Attendance as Students Stay Away, Citing Covid-19,” Wall Street Journal, January 12, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/schools-see-big-drop-in-attendance-as-students-stay-away-citing-covid-19-11641988802

Kristin Gelineau, “Amid Djokovic backlash, Australia grapples with omicron wave,” Associated Press, January 12, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-novak-djokovic-sports-health-sydney-37b896e43f91a051990606ef7a963a76

Sarah Jones, “We’re Having the Wrong Conversation About School,” New York, January 12, 2022, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2022/01/were-having-the-wrong-conversation-about-school.html

Jon Pye and Rod McGuirk, “Djokovic: Not isolating after COVID infection was ‘error,’” Associated Press, January 12, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/immigration-coronavirus-pandemic-novak-djokovic-sports-health-591c103de643abc147b0fb7e2703afc2

Hayley Smith, “With hospitals reeling, California tells COVID-positive medical workers to stay on the job,” Los Angeles Times, January 12, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-01-12/california-to-covid-positive-healthcare-workers-keep-working

Lindsey Tanner, “Low COVID-19 vaccination rates in kids ages 5 to 11 called a ‘gut punch,’ WTAE, January 12, 2022, https://www.wtae.com/article/young-kids-low-covid-19-vaccination-rates-called-gut-punch/38749433

Rosalio Ahumada, “Sheriff to release 203 inmates to halt outbreak as COVID cases quadruple at Sacramento jails,” Sacramento Bee, January 13, 2022, https://www.sacbee.com/news/coronavirus/article257309602.html

Robert Barnes, “Supreme Court blocks Biden’s workplace vaccine rules, allows requirement for health-care workers,” Washington Post, January 13, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-biden-vaccine-rules/2022/01/13/2e6e4b9e-749e-11ec-bc13-18891499c514_story.html

David Ingram, “Quietly and over some objections, a national digital vaccine card has emerged,” NBC News, January 13, 2022, https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/national-covid-vaccine-card-quietly-emerged-rcna11678


Pittsburgh snow

Pittsburgh’s snow plowing operation couldn’t even handle the last, relatively minor—a mere two inches of snow—storm.[6] A bigger one may be headed our way Sunday night[7] and we can doubtless count on more excuses from Pittsburgh Public Works.


Yinz

You see the word ‘yinz’ all over the place in Pittsburgh. Marketers use it promiscuously to add what they think is a local flavor to their advertising.

The funny thing is I almost never actually hear the word spoken. I actually thought I had never heard it.

Then a passenger uttered it on a phone call. And I noticed that whatever part of my brain processes speech parsed it as a contraction for “you ones.” Which reminded me that I had heard it before, but not very often, probably only once, and I’m thinking during those roughly two years I lived in Pittsburgh as a child. It caught my attention then too because it isn’t a ‘natural’ English grammatical phrase.

But I think when I heard it the first time, I didn’t even know that ‘yinz’ was a word. So substituting in ‘you ones,’ I thought it an odd construction.

I was thinking about this some more, because the advertising just constantly reminds me. And I remembered that the German word for ‘us’ is ‘uns.’

Many of the people who settled Pennsylvania were German. My grandfather was largely German (and my grandmother would complain about “the Germans”); many street names around here are recognizably of German derivation, often with an ‘e’ immediately following another vowel, signifying an umlaut. “Pennsylvania Dutch” is actually a mangling of “Pennsylvania Deutsch,” meaning “Pennsylvania German.”

I’m not a linguist, but the way I’m putting this together is that that “you ones” is more like “you uns,” a pidgin mangling that excludes the speaker from ‘us.’

‘Yinz’ means ‘y’all,’ or expanded, “you all.” I think I finally understand the word. But like I say, I’m not a linguist. If you are, let me know.


  1. [1]John Lynch and Nathaniel Rodriguez, “My Pillow CEO says he has ‘enough evidence’ to put ‘300 million’ Americans in jail,” WFLA, January 12, 2022, https://www.wfla.com/news/national/my-pillow-ceo-says-he-has-enough-evidence-to-put-300-million-americans-in-jail/
  2. [2]Philip Bump, “Are you one of the 1 in 11 Americans Mike Lindell doesn’t want to arrest?” Washington Post, January 12, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/12/are-you-one-1-11-americans-mike-lindell-doesnt-want-arrest/
  3. [3]Philip Bump, “Are you one of the 1 in 11 Americans Mike Lindell doesn’t want to arrest?” Washington Post, January 12, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/12/are-you-one-1-11-americans-mike-lindell-doesnt-want-arrest/
  4. [4]John Lynch and Nathaniel Rodriguez, “My Pillow CEO says he has ‘enough evidence’ to put ‘300 million’ Americans in jail,” WFLA, January 12, 2022, https://www.wfla.com/news/national/my-pillow-ceo-says-he-has-enough-evidence-to-put-300-million-americans-in-jail/
  5. [5]Philip Bump, “Are you one of the 1 in 11 Americans Mike Lindell doesn’t want to arrest?” Washington Post, January 12, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/12/are-you-one-1-11-americans-mike-lindell-doesnt-want-arrest/
  6. [6]Rick Earle, “Pittsburgh Public Works launches internal investigation following snow response issues,” WPXI, January 7, 2022, https://www.wpxi.com/news/local/pittsburgh-public-works-launches-internal-investigation-following-snow-response-issues/3ZAYYSR5WNCD5H5KE67WJ6SKBU/; Julia Felton, “Plowing continues on snow-covered Pittsburgh streets,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 7, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/plowing-continues-on-snow-covered-pittsburgh-streets/
  7. [7]Paul Guggenheimer, “Big winter storm could be headed toward Western Pennsylvania,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 13, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/regional/big-winter-storm-could-be-headed-toward-western-pennsylvania/