Pennsylvania bummer

Pennsylvania

As I understood it, it was the potential tax revenue that got California state officials to buy into legalization of recreational marijuana. So look what’s happening now that Pennsylvania has a budget problem.[1] Well, maybe.

I first heard about this possibility last September going into October.[2] I heard about it again in February.[3]

So far, I haven’t heard about any actual movement. Apparently it’s bottled up in committee:

State Sen. [Patrick] Stefano chairs the Law and Justice Committee and oversees the state’s liquor, police and marijuana.

“The bill to legalize recreational adult use marijuana is in my committee and I don’t plan on bringing it up anytime soon yet. We have a lot of research yet to do.” . . .

State Sen. Stefano said his committee is doing research and looking into new studies. He tells KDKA’s Meghan Schiller the biggest hold up right now is that there’s no way to measure THC in a person’s body. He said until there’s a tool to measure intoxication, he’s hesitant to move forward.[4]

What an ass. He asks, “Why don’t we look at controlling our spending first?”[5] In a pandemic, during which this legislature wasn’t nearly so cautious about trying to overturn Tom Wolf’s lockdown,[6] a move rejected by the state supreme court,[7] and which he appears to have lifted too soon at least in Allegheny County.[8]

I hate the Pennsylvania legislature.

Meghan Schiller, “Can Legalizing Recreational Marijuana Lessen The Blow Of Pa.’s $3.2B Deficit? Lt. Gov. John Fetterman Says ‘The Time Is Now,’” KDKA, July 7, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/07/07/john-fetterman-legalizing-recreational-marijuana/


Higher Education

I am, of course, entirely sympathetic to the suit Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have filed against a new Immigration and Customs Enforcement rule requiring international students at online-only universities, even those switching to online-only on account of the pandemic, to go home.[9] And make no mistake: The harm is great. There are a number of students who, thanks to Trump administration malice, might not be able to re-enter the country if and when their universities ever do go back to in-person instruction.[10] This is a malicious, evil rule.

That doesn’t make me optimistic that the universities will succeed in overturning it. If the purpose of a student visa is to enable students to attend in-person classes, then it quite logically follows that they don’t need to be here when those classes aren’t being held. And there is considerable question about the ability of universities, even those that have sworn to do so, to reopen for in-person classes this year.[11] And, by the way, I don’t trust a lot of students to observe social distancing and mask-wearing rules either, certainly not when so many seem so amenable to the very stupidest notions of conformity with the stupidest of their peers,[12] which is to say that additional caution will certainly be warranted.

That means a lot of kids may be headed home and, oh, how I wish it were otherwise.

Bloomberg, “Harvard and MIT sue ICE to halt new student visa guidelines,” Los Angeles Times, July 8, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-07-08/harvard-and-mit-sue-ice-to-halt-new-student-visa-guidelines

Karin Fischer, “As MIT and Harvard Sue, Colleges Scramble to Respond to New Federal Policy on International Students,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 8, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/As-MITHarvard-Sue/249142


  1. [1]Meghan Schiller, “Can Legalizing Recreational Marijuana Lessen The Blow Of Pa.’s $3.2B Deficit? Lt. Gov. John Fetterman Says ‘The Time Is Now,’” KDKA, July 7, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/07/07/john-fetterman-legalizing-recreational-marijuana/
  2. [2]Hunter Moyler, “Pennsylvania proposes sale of recreational marijuana just days after governor says he supports legalization,” Newsweek, October 2, 2019, https://www.newsweek.com/pennsylvania-proposes-sale-recreational-marijuana-just-days-after-governor-says-he-supports-1462756; Kara Seymour, “PA Governor Calls For Legalizing Recreational Marijuana,” Patch, September 25, 2019, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/gutg4/pa-governor-calls-for-legalizing-recreational-marijuana
  3. [3]WTAE, “New bill to legalize recreational marijuana unveiled by state lawmaker from Pittsburgh,” February 20, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/recreational-marijuana-bill-pittsburgh-state-rep-jake-wheatley/31025380
  4. [4]Meghan Schiller, “Can Legalizing Recreational Marijuana Lessen The Blow Of Pa.’s $3.2B Deficit? Lt. Gov. John Fetterman Says ‘The Time Is Now,’” KDKA, July 7, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/07/07/john-fetterman-legalizing-recreational-marijuana/
  5. [5]Patrick Stefano, quoted in Meghan Schiller, “Can Legalizing Recreational Marijuana Lessen The Blow Of Pa.’s $3.2B Deficit? Lt. Gov. John Fetterman Says ‘The Time Is Now,’” KDKA, July 7, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/07/07/john-fetterman-legalizing-recreational-marijuana/
  6. [6]Associated Press, “Pennsylvania GOP seeks to dismantle Wolf’s shutdown,” Tribune-Review, June 9, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/pennsylvania-gop-seeks-to-dismantle-wolfs-shutdown/; Nick Matoney, “‘We can’t do this for another 90 days’: Pa. General Assembly votes to end COVID-19 emergency declaration,” WTAE, June 10, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/we-cant-do-this-for-another-90-days-pa-general-assembly-votes-to-end-covid-19-emergency-declaration/32821325
  7. [7]Elizabeth Hardison and Stephen Caruso, “Pa. Supreme Court throws out GOP challenge to Wolf’s COVID-19 emergency order,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, July 1, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/covid-19/pa-supreme-court-throws-out-gop-challenge-to-wolfs-covid-19-emergency-order/
  8. [8]Samson X. Horne, “Allegheny County reports 90 new coronavirus cases, the highest daily total for county,” Tribune-Review, June 27, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/allegheny-county-reports-highest-daily-total-of-coronavirus-cases-at-90/; KDKA, “‘For The First Time…Allegheny Co. Led The State In The Number Of New COVID-19 Cases’: Allegheny Co. Officials Ban On-Site Consumption Of Alcohol At Local Bars,” June 28, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/28/allegheny-co-highest-case-numbers-bans-on-site-drinking/; KDKA, “Allegheny Co. Health Officials: Spike In New Coronavirus Cases Linked To Bars, Not Protests,” June 29, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/29/spike-in-coronavirus-cases-linked-to-bars-not-protests/; Madasyn Lee, “Allegheny County exceeds highest coronavirus case total with 96 new cases,” Tribune-Review, June 28, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/allegheny-county-exceeds-highest-coronavirus-case-total-with-96-new-cases/; Andy Sheehan, “Allegheny County Closes Bars, Restaurants, Casinos And All Activities That Involve Over 25 People For One Week,” KDKA, July 2, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/07/02/allegheny-county-bar-restaurant-casino-closure/; John Shumway, “‘People Don’t Care’: Recent Jump In Allegheny County Coronavirus Cases Linked To People In Their 20s, 30s,” KDKA, June 23, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/23/jump-in-allegheny-county-coronavirus-cases-linked-to-young-people/; Maria Simbra, “‘It’s Negligence’: Young People Hosting Coronavirus Parties, Betting On Who Gets Infected First,” KDKA, July 3, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/07/03/coronavirus-parties-young-people/; Teghan Simonton, “61 new coronavirus cases reported in Allegheny County, highest in 2 months,” Tribune-Review, June 26, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/61-new-cases-of-coronavirus-reported-in-allegheny-county-2-deaths/; Teghan Simonton, “83 new cases of coronavirus in Allegheny County, no new deaths,” Tribune-Review, June 29, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/83-new-cases-of-coronavirus-in-allegheny-county-no-new-deaths/; Teghan Simonton, “Allegheny County tops 230 new coronavirus cases,” Tribune-Review, July 2, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/allegheny-county-tops-230-new-coronavirus-cases-no-deaths/; Megan Tomasic, “505 new coronavirus cases, 3 deaths reported in Pa.,” Tribune-Review, June 28, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/505-new-coronavirus-cases-3-deaths-reported-in-pa/; WTAE, “Masks are now mandatory in all public spaces in Pennsylvania,” July 1, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/masks-are-now-mandatory-in-all-public-spaces-in-pennsylvania/33026253
  9. [9]Bloomberg, “Harvard and MIT sue ICE to halt new student visa guidelines,” Los Angeles Times, July 8, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-07-08/harvard-and-mit-sue-ice-to-halt-new-student-visa-guidelines
  10. [10]Karin Fischer, “As MIT and Harvard Sue, Colleges Scramble to Respond to New Federal Policy on International Students,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 8, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/As-MITHarvard-Sue/249142
  11. [11]Robert Kelchen, “Colleges Aren’t Reopening in the Fall,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 18, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/Colleges-Aren-t-Reopening-in/248803
  12. [12]David Benfell, “Women’s lives are still expendable,” Not Housebroken, October 22, 2017, https://disunitedstates.org/2017/10/22/womens-lives-are-still-expendable/

‘They’re Screwing Around in Congress’

There is a new blog post entitled, “The psychopathy of the spike in COVID-19 cases.”

It’s been a hot and dry few days. But as I’m about to hit publish here, look what just appeared to our west (in eastern Ohio):
ecan
Don’t know that it will come our way and suspect it won’t change the pattern much, but there it is.


Fascism

George Monbiot conflates the situations of the U.S. and the U.K., declines to call that conflation fascism, and distinguishes this conflation from fascism on specious grounds.[1] I’m beginning to sense a pattern: It is not intellectually fashionable to invoke the f-word (“fascism”), so people bend over backwards to explain how our situation is different so they can still style themselves ‘intellectuals.’

I call what is happening in the U.S. fascism because, crucially, it seeks to build political support through violence, whether structural or physical, against subaltern groups, especially nonwhites and the poor, that enables further violence against those groups.[2] That’s different from what Monbiot says is happening in the U.K., but Monbiot is criticizing anti-intellectualism in both countries and this is how he grounds his conflation.

I’m not prepared to call intellectuals a subaltern group in either country, though I certainly feel a temptation. Whether I would call the U.K. fascist depends on its treatment of subaltern groups and, while I’m not prepared to excuse that treatment, I’m also not prepared to say that that treatment is part of a feedback loop. Here is my previous definition of fascism from the previous update on May 16:

Fascism is an ideology that seeks to institutionalize structural and physical violence against some or many subaltern groups on the grounds of bigotry and to increase its own public support through the exploitation of such violence and bigotry. This bigotry may take several forms including nationalism, scapegoating, sexism, racism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. To the extent that it succeeds, it acts as a self-reinforcing feedback as public support enables further and more extreme violence.[3]

If, on the other hand, I am to consider intellectuals a subaltern group, it cannot be all intellectuals. Some, like economists who enable an intellectually utterly discredited neoliberalism[4] and those who support the political class in other ways, are often richly rewarded. Professors who cling to tenure hardly seem subaltern to me. So I would need a way to distinguish between outcast intellectuals, those who are not sycophants for the ruling class, and those who are.

That’s not as easy as it sounds. It can’t simply be that intellectuals who agree with me are subaltern, but ideological sycophancy might be one distinguishing feature of non-subaltern intellectuals. There are books on my shelf I haven’t gotten to that might help with this and Sergio Caldarella criticizes ideological conformity.[5] There may also be economic considerations: What if the surplus of Ph.D. holders functions, intentionally or not, to undermine intellectuals’ leverage in the marketplace, and therefore intellectualism at large?

For now, I just don’t know. A group I might more easily include as subaltern is that of dissidents. Monbiot criticizes the elite response to intellectual dissent in the U.S. and the U.K.,[6] but what if the real objection authoritarian populists and elites have with those Monbiot calls intellectuals isn’t to their intellectualism but rather to their ideas?

So here is how I am further refining my definition:

Fascism is an ideology that seeks to institutionalize structural and physical violence against some or many subaltern groups on the grounds of bigotry and to increase its own public support through the exploitation of such violence and bigotry. This bigotry may take several forms including the repression of dissent or the promotion of nationalism, scapegoating, sexism, racism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. To the extent that it succeeds, it acts as a self-reinforcing feedback as public support enables further and more extreme violence.[7]

George Monbiot, “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” July 6, 2020, https://www.monbiot.com/2020/07/07/something-wicked-this-way-comes/


Pennsylvania

Keeping Pennsylvania safe for white supremacy.

Stephen Caruso, “Pro 2nd Amendment lawmakers want to let you carry a gun during an emergency,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, July 7, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/government-politics/pro-2nd-amendment-lawmakers-want-to-let-you-carry-a-gun-during-an-emergency/


  1. [1]George Monbiot, “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” July 6, 2020, https://www.monbiot.com/2020/07/07/something-wicked-this-way-comes/
  2. [2]David Benfell, “A simple definition of fascism,” Not Housebroken, July 7, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/06/a-simple-definition-of-fascism/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “A simple definition of fascism,” Not Housebroken, July 7, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/06/a-simple-definition-of-fascism/
  4. [4]Mark Blyth, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford, UK: Oxford University, 2013); Amir Fleischmann, “The Myth of the Fiscal Conservative,” Jacobin, March 5, 2017, https://jacobinmag.com/2017/03/fiscal-conservative-social-services-austerity-save-money; Jason Hickel, “Progress and its discontents,” New Internationalist, August 7, 2019, https://newint.org/features/2019/07/01/long-read-progress-and-its-discontents; Daniel Stedman Jones, Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University, 2012); Robert Kuttner, “Austerity never works: Deficit hawks are amoral — and wrong,” Salon, May 5, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/05/05/austerity_never_works_deficit_hawks_are_amoral_and_wrong/; Dennis Loo, Globalization and the Demolition of Society (Glendale, CA: Larkmead, 2011); Thomas Piketty, Jeffrey Sachs, Heiner Flassbeck, Dani Rodrik and Simon Wren-Lewis, “Austerity Has Failed: An Open Letter From Thomas Piketty to Angela Merkel,” Nation, July 6, 2015, http://www.thenation.com/article/austerity-has-failed-an-open-letter-from-thomas-piketty-to-angela-merkel/; John Quiggin, “Austerity Has Been Tested, and It Failed,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 20, 2013, http://chronicle.com/article/Austerity-Has-Been-Tested-and/139255/; David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, “How Austerity Kills,” New York Times, May 12, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/13/opinion/how-austerity-kills.html; David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, “Paul Krugman’s right: Austerity kills,” Salon, May 19, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/05/19/paul_krugmans_right_austerity_kills/
  5. [5]Sergio Caldarella, The Dark Campus (Princeton, NJ: Dark Age, 2016).
  6. [6]George Monbiot, “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” July 6, 2020, https://www.monbiot.com/2020/07/07/something-wicked-this-way-comes/
  7. [7]David Benfell, “A simple definition of fascism,” Not Housebroken, July 7, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/06/a-simple-definition-of-fascism/

Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto steps on his own message, allows ‘Trump Boat Parade’ to proceed

Pandemic

I’m betting that participants will not in fact socially distance and will not in fact wear face masks. They will spread the novel coronavirus among each other and then to vulnerable people, who will require hospitalization. They will not be paying the costs of that hospitalization.

How can I be so confident? Mask-wearing has become politicized—Democrats, who are unlikely to participate in the Trump Boat Parade, wear masks much more frequently than Republicans, and men who object to wearing masks often do so because they perceive that their masculinity is threatened.[1]

I don’t want to fucking hear it. If you don’t wear a mask, you should be taken to a psychiatric hospital prison and left there as a psychopath, unfit ever for release into society again. Because at this point, you’re just making this shit up.

Priya Elan, “The data is in: men are too fragile to wear Covid-19 masks. Grow up, guys,” Guardian, July 3, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jul/03/covid-19-masks-men-masculinity


The United States

There is a new blog post, entitled, “Amerikkka.”

Robin Wright, “To the World, We’re Now America the Racist and Pitiful,” New Yorker, July 3, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/to-the-world-were-now-america-the-racist-and-pitiful


Racism


  1. [1]Priya Elan, “The data is in: men are too fragile to wear Covid-19 masks. Grow up, guys,” Guardian, July 3, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jul/03/covid-19-masks-men-masculinity

The already out-of-date recovery

There is a new blog post entitled, “Carnivore thinking.”


Recession

I remember my once-favorite professor talking about a media bias in favor of investors, making a point that job market statistics come out once a month (this claim is imprecise), while we have stock market statistics daily. Writing yesterday, of today’s unemployment statistics, Greg Ip effectively points to that very flaw: “In any case, the jobs data are a snapshot of the second week of June, and since then, hiring appears to have slowed.” What we hear today, therefore, will seem more optimistic or less pessimistic than what has likely happened since.[1] As it turns out, the headline unemployment rate fell officially to 11.1 percent. Due to misclassification, 12.1 percent would probably be closer.[2]

But the spike in COVID-19 cases[3] has largely appeared since then, leading businesses that had reopened to shut back down.[4] And we really don’t know how much of an effect that’s had. Pretty sure it isn’t good.

Greg Ip, “A Recovery That Started Out Like a V Is Changing Shape,” Wall Street Journal, July 1, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-reverse-square-root-recovery-11593602775

Eli Rosenberg, Heather Long, and Jeff Stein, “The U.S. economy added 4.8 million jobs in June, but fierce new headwinds have emerged,” Washington Post, July 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/07/02/june-2020-jobs-report/


Racism

The text formerly under the heading “The Lost Cause” in yesterday’s issue has been moved to a new blog post entitled, “The loss of the Lost Cause.”


Pandemic

Elizabeth Hardison and Stephen Caruso, “Pa. Supreme Court throws out GOP challenge to Wolf’s COVID-19 emergency order,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, July 1, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/covid-19/pa-supreme-court-throws-out-gop-challenge-to-wolfs-covid-19-emergency-order/


  1. [1]Greg Ip, “A Recovery That Started Out Like a V Is Changing Shape,” Wall Street Journal, July 1, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-reverse-square-root-recovery-11593602775
  2. [2]Eli Rosenberg, Heather Long, and Jeff Stein, “The U.S. economy added 4.8 million jobs in June, but fierce new headwinds have emerged,” Washington Post, July 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/07/02/june-2020-jobs-report/
  3. [3]Talal Ansari, “Texas Governor Rolls Back Reopening as U.S. Virus Cases Hit Record,” Wall Street Journal, June 26, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/coronavirus-latest-news-06-26-2020-11593159630; Annie Gowen, Arelis R. Hernández, and Lori Rozsa, “Young people urged to take virus more seriously as pandemic worsens in U.S.,” Washington Post, June 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/young-people-are-driving-a-spike-in-coronavirus-infections-officials-say/2020/06/27/3654638c-b7b4-11ea-a510-55bf26485c93_story.html; Thomas Heath and Hannah Denham, “Dow tumbles 730 points as covid-19 flare-ups force states to push back reopening,” Washington Post, June 26, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/06/26/stocks-markets-today-texas-coronavirus/; Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey, and Yasmeen Abutaleb, “With Trump leading the way, America’s coronavirus failures exposed by record surge in new infections,” Washington Post, June 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/with-trump-leading-the-way-americas-coronavirus-failures-exposed-by-record-surge-in-new-infections/2020/06/27/bd15aea2-b7c4-11ea-a8da-693df3d7674a_story.html; Lisa Shumaker and Brendan O’Brien, “Record spike in new coronavirus cases reported in six U.S. states as reopening accelerates,” Reuters, June 16, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-idUSKBN23N32O; Meg Wagner et al., “Fauci, Redfield testify on Covid-19 reopening as cases rise,” CNN, June 30, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/webview/politics/live-news/covid-19-school-work-reopening-testimony-06-30-20/h_cc7cf09eae87064e72f75af30984acd3
  4. [4]Greg Ip, “A Recovery That Started Out Like a V Is Changing Shape,” Wall Street Journal, July 1, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-reverse-square-root-recovery-11593602775; Eli Rosenberg, Heather Long, and Jeff Stein, “The U.S. economy added 4.8 million jobs in June, but fierce new headwinds have emerged,” Washington Post, July 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/07/02/june-2020-jobs-report/

Symbol and substance in anti-racism demonstrations

Updates

  1. Originally published, July 1, 2020, 10:52 pm.
  2. July 2, 9:38 am:

The Lost Cause

David W. Blight, “Europe in 1989, America in 2020, and the Death of the Lost Cause,” New Yorker, July 1, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/europe-in-1989-america-in-2020-and-the-death-of-the-lost-cause

W. Ralph Eubanks, “The Confederate Flag Finally Falls in Mississippi,” New Yorker, July 1, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-confederate-flag-finally-falls-in-mississippi


Pandemic

An Uber driver claims, and the company denies, that he was fired because he refused riders who weren’t wearing masks. Drivers are indeed required to take selfies proving they are wearing masks,[1] but the same is not true of riders, who are asked but not required to prove compliance.

Since the recent spike in cases, both locally[2] and nationally,[3] and especially since Allegheny County ordered a halt to on-site drinking in bars,[4] I’m noticing much greater compliance among Uber riders.

I’d been told that “Pittsburgh is a drinking town with a football problem;” it might be that taking away their booze does indeed get their attention, although as I was driving home this evening, I was stopped at a red light next to an ice cream shop with people lined up outside. I could see the young ladies working the counter were wearing masks. But despite a newly issued order, taking effect immediately, requiring everyone to wear masks in public,[5] not one customer was, and a lot of them were not social distancing while in line.

If passengers ask, I will tell them that they should wear a mask and, in my experience, they generally comply. But otherwise, I won’t say anything. I won’t argue. That was likely that now-former Uber driver’s mistake.[6] But I’m now giving them a lower rating and specifically tagging that they weren’t wearing a mask. That might be the severest threat of all.

Hannah Dineen, “Uber driver denies unmasked riders, fired for complaints,” News Center Maine, July 1, 2020, https://www.newscentermaine.com/article/life/uber-driver-denies-unmasked-riders-fired-for-complaints/97-80794869-0c8b-4aa1-8ec8-e340d4e6fed5

WTAE, “Masks are now mandatory in all public spaces in Pennsylvania,” July 1, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/masks-are-now-mandatory-in-all-public-spaces-in-pennsylvania/33026253


  1. [1]Hannah Dineen, “Uber driver denies unmasked riders, fired for complaints,” News Center Maine, July 1, 2020, https://www.newscentermaine.com/article/life/uber-driver-denies-unmasked-riders-fired-for-complaints/97-80794869-0c8b-4aa1-8ec8-e340d4e6fed5
  2. [2]Samson X. Horne, “Allegheny County reports 90 new coronavirus cases, the highest daily total for county,” Tribune-Review, June 27, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/allegheny-county-reports-highest-daily-total-of-coronavirus-cases-at-90/; KDKA, “‘For The First Time…Allegheny Co. Led The State In The Number Of New COVID-19 Cases’: Allegheny Co. Officials Ban On-Site Consumption Of Alcohol At Local Bars,” June 28, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/28/allegheny-co-highest-case-numbers-bans-on-site-drinking/; KDKA, “Allegheny Co. Health Officials: Spike In New Coronavirus Cases Linked To Bars, Not Protests,” June 29, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/29/spike-in-coronavirus-cases-linked-to-bars-not-protests/; Madasyn Lee, “Allegheny County exceeds highest coronavirus case total with 96 new cases,” Tribune-Review, June 28, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/allegheny-county-exceeds-highest-coronavirus-case-total-with-96-new-cases/; John Shumway, “‘People Don’t Care’: Recent Jump In Allegheny County Coronavirus Cases Linked To People In Their 20s, 30s,” KDKA, June 23, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/23/jump-in-allegheny-county-coronavirus-cases-linked-to-young-people/; Teghan Simonton, “61 new coronavirus cases reported in Allegheny County, highest in 2 months,” Tribune-Review, June 26, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/61-new-cases-of-coronavirus-reported-in-allegheny-county-2-deaths/; Teghan Simonton, “83 new cases of coronavirus in Allegheny County, no new deaths,” Tribune-Review, June 29, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/83-new-cases-of-coronavirus-in-allegheny-county-no-new-deaths/; Megan Tomasic, “505 new coronavirus cases, 3 deaths reported in Pa.,” Tribune-Review, June 28, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/505-new-coronavirus-cases-3-deaths-reported-in-pa/
  3. [3]Talal Ansari, “Texas Governor Rolls Back Reopening as U.S. Virus Cases Hit Record,” Wall Street Journal, June 26, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/coronavirus-latest-news-06-26-2020-11593159630; Annie Gowen, Arelis R. Hernández, and Lori Rozsa, “Young people urged to take virus more seriously as pandemic worsens in U.S.,” Washington Post, June 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/young-people-are-driving-a-spike-in-coronavirus-infections-officials-say/2020/06/27/3654638c-b7b4-11ea-a510-55bf26485c93_story.html; Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey, and Yasmeen Abutaleb, “With Trump leading the way, America’s coronavirus failures exposed by record surge in new infections,” Washington Post, June 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/with-trump-leading-the-way-americas-coronavirus-failures-exposed-by-record-surge-in-new-infections/2020/06/27/bd15aea2-b7c4-11ea-a8da-693df3d7674a_story.html; Meg Wagner et al., “Fauci, Redfield testify on Covid-19 reopening as cases rise,” CNN, June 30, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/webview/politics/live-news/covid-19-school-work-reopening-testimony-06-30-20/h_cc7cf09eae87064e72f75af30984acd3
  4. [4]KDKA, “‘For The First Time…Allegheny Co. Led The State In The Number Of New COVID-19 Cases’: Allegheny Co. Officials Ban On-Site Consumption Of Alcohol At Local Bars,” June 28, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/28/allegheny-co-highest-case-numbers-bans-on-site-drinking/
  5. [5]WTAE, “Masks are now mandatory in all public spaces in Pennsylvania,” July 1, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/masks-are-now-mandatory-in-all-public-spaces-in-pennsylvania/33026253
  6. [6]Hannah Dineen, “Uber driver denies unmasked riders, fired for complaints,” News Center Maine, July 1, 2020, https://www.newscentermaine.com/article/life/uber-driver-denies-unmasked-riders-fired-for-complaints/97-80794869-0c8b-4aa1-8ec8-e340d4e6fed5

Another Supreme Court decision, another defeat for social conservatives, and a culture war the latter have lost

Updates

  1. Originally published, June 29, 1:00 pm:
  2. June 29, 2:30 pm:
    • Allegheny County has confirmed that the recent spike in COVID-19 cases is due to idiots in bars, not protests.[1]
  3. June 29, 3:46 pm:
    • Allegheny County reported 83 new COVID-19 cases. That’s not as bad as yesterday or the day before,[2] but it will be a few weeks before we see the impact from the decision to stop on-site drinking at bars.[3]
    • At the American Conservative, Rod Dreher responds to the Supreme Court ruling striking down a Louisiana law that would have closed all but one abortion clinic. He admits the culture war is lost for social conservatives.[4]
  4. June 29, 9:58 pm:
    • I was real late getting out today, but for my final ride this evening, I picked up a drunk who lamented the loss of “freedom.” By “freedom,” he meant that to drink in bars, which will end at 5:00 pm on Tuesday, June 30, in Allegheny County.[5] He eventually got around to blaming the kids in the Oakland and South Side neighborhoods, which is largely correct,[6] but then launched off into a conspiracy theory about how “nobody is dying” and “they’re just making it up.” This is a reason I try to avoid the bar crowd.
    • I’d never even noticed dollar stores out in California. They’re all over the place here in Pittsburgh and lots of people shop in them. I won’t—my fear of being marked as poor is too great and I wouldn’t want shoddy merchandise anyway. So now an upper class publication has an article assessing their impact on poor communities.[7] It sounds a lot like what I’ve heard Walmart has done to downtowns and with labor costs,[8] with the addition of corporation-enabled violent crime,[9] and I’m sure it’s right. But I notice a lot of people around here are very familiar with the word bourgeois and I’m pretty sure that’d be their reaction.

In case you missed it, there were numerous updates to the last issue, right up through last night (June 28), including one new blog post and a photograph of a sign I had mentioned earlier. Such a case of constipation in the Irregular Bullshit has recently been unusual; it occurs when I don’t feel motivated to start a new issue and an article I find seems more relevant to one already published. I also am more reluctant to publish when I haven’t even a brief comment on the articles I’ve listed. Finally, there’s the truth to what happened on at least one of the days the issue covered: I simply forgot to publish.

I haven’t decided whether or not to convert portions of that issue into a blog post; it might well happen, particularly if there are further updates on the spike in COVID-19 cases or government responses to it. If there’s one thing that pretty predictably annoys me, it’s idiocy, and that continues to run amok.


Abortion

Many evangelical protestants (social conservatives) supported Donald Trump because they thought he might reverse what more and more looks like their abject defeat (which Rod Dreher admits to[10]) in the culture war[11] despite his abject immorality and corruption.[12] But Trump’s court picks are failing to deliver some of the victories they badly want and Josh Hawley, presumably speaking for many other social conservatives, has expressed his dissatisfaction.[13] The problem for social conservatives with Donald Trump is similar in form to the problem progressives have with the mainstream of the Democratic Party. They lost on abortion, again.[14] But who are they going to turn to? The Democrats?

The bipartisan system, by its very design, constrains progress in any direction.[15] But while the Democrats have been pushing in a rightward direction, the Republicans have also been moving in a rightward direction. It just isn’t fast enough for social conservatives, in part because they have lost.

Marianne Levine, “Josh Hawley warns Trump on Supreme Court disappointments,” Politico, June 27, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/06/27/hawley-trump-supreme-court-341844

Robert Barnes, “Supreme Court strikes down restrictive Louisiana abortion law that would have closed clinics,” Washington Post, June 29, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-louisiana-abortion-law-john-roberts/2020/06/29/6f42067e-ba00-11ea-8cf5-9c1b8d7f84c6_story.html

Rod Dreher, “Abortion Forever,” American Conservative, June 29, 2020, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/justice-roberts-abortion-forever-supreme-court/


Pandemic

While still none of this has yet been peer-reviewed, it does appear that COVID-19 has mutated into a more infectious variant. The finding, which I found reported in May,[16] has been replicated by a number of teams, but their explanations for the mutation’s success vary.[17]

Sarah Kaplan and Joel Achenbach, “This coronavirus mutation has taken over the world. Scientists are trying to understand why,” Washington Post, June 29, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/2020/06/29/coronavirus-mutation-science/

KDKA, “Allegheny Co. Health Officials: Spike In New Coronavirus Cases Linked To Bars, Not Protests,” June 29, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/29/spike-in-coronavirus-cases-linked-to-bars-not-protests/

Teghan Simonton, “83 new cases of coronavirus in Allegheny County, no new deaths,” Tribune-Review, June 29, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/83-new-cases-of-coronavirus-in-allegheny-county-no-new-deaths/


Dollar Stores

Alec MacGillis, “The True Cost of Dollar Stores,” New Yorker, June 29, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/07/06/the-true-cost-of-dollar-stores


  1. [1]KDKA, “Allegheny Co. Health Officials: Spike In New Coronavirus Cases Linked To Bars, Not Protests,” June 29, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/29/spike-in-coronavirus-cases-linked-to-bars-not-protests/
  2. [2]Teghan Simonton, “83 new cases of coronavirus in Allegheny County, no new deaths,” Tribune-Review, June 29, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/83-new-cases-of-coronavirus-in-allegheny-county-no-new-deaths/
  3. [3]KDKA, “‘For The First Time…Allegheny Co. Led The State In The Number Of New COVID-19 Cases’: Allegheny Co. Officials Ban On-Site Consumption Of Alcohol At Local Bars,” June 28, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/28/allegheny-co-highest-case-numbers-bans-on-site-drinking/
  4. [4]Rod Dreher, “Abortion Forever,” American Conservative, June 29, 2020, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/justice-roberts-abortion-forever-supreme-court/
  5. [5]KDKA, “‘For The First Time…Allegheny Co. Led The State In The Number Of New COVID-19 Cases’: Allegheny Co. Officials Ban On-Site Consumption Of Alcohol At Local Bars,” June 28, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/28/allegheny-co-highest-case-numbers-bans-on-site-drinking/
  6. [6]KDKA, “Allegheny Co. Health Officials: Spike In New Coronavirus Cases Linked To Bars, Not Protests,” June 29, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/29/spike-in-coronavirus-cases-linked-to-bars-not-protests/
  7. [7]Alec MacGillis, “The True Cost of Dollar Stores,” New Yorker, June 29, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/07/06/the-true-cost-of-dollar-stores
  8. [8]Robert Greenwald, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price (Culver City, CA: Brave New Films, 2005), DVD.
  9. [9]Alec MacGillis, “The True Cost of Dollar Stores,” New Yorker, June 29, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/07/06/the-true-cost-of-dollar-stores
  10. [10]Rod Dreher, “Abortion Forever,” American Conservative, June 29, 2020, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/justice-roberts-abortion-forever-supreme-court/
  11. [11]Elizabeth Bruenig, “In God’s country,” Washington Post, August 14, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/08/14/evangelicals-view-trump-their-protector-will-they-stand-by-him/
  12. [12]Julie Zauzmer and Sarah Pulliam Bailey, “After Trump and Moore, some evangelicals are finding their own label too toxic to use,” Washington Post, December 14, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/after-trump-and-moore-some-evangelicals-are-finding-their-own-label-too-toxic-to-use/2017/12/14/b034034c-e020-11e7-89e8-edec16379010_story.html
  13. [13]Marianne Levine, “Josh Hawley warns Trump on Supreme Court disappointments,” Politico, June 27, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/06/27/hawley-trump-supreme-court-341844
  14. [14]Robert Barnes, “Supreme Court strikes down restrictive Louisiana abortion law that would have closed clinics,” Washington Post, June 29, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-louisiana-abortion-law-john-roberts/2020/06/29/6f42067e-ba00-11ea-8cf5-9c1b8d7f84c6_story.html
  15. [15]Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present (New York: HarperPerennial, 2005).
  16. [16]Sarah Kaplan and Joel Achenbach, “Researchers hypothesize that a highly contagious strain of the coronavirus is spreading, but other experts remain skeptical,” Washington Post, May 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/researchers-hypothesize-that-a-highly-contagious-strain-of-the-coronavirus-is-spreading-but-other-experts-remain-skeptical/2020/05/05/db90d790-8ee7-11ea-9e23-6914ee410a5f_story.html; Ralph Vartabedian, “Scientists have identified a new strain of the coronavirus that appears to be more contagious,” Los Angeles Times, May 5, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-05-05/mutant-coronavirus-has-emerged-more-contagious-than-original
  17. [17]Sarah Kaplan and Joel Achenbach, “This coronavirus mutation has taken over the world. Scientists are trying to understand why,” Washington Post, June 29, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/2020/06/29/coronavirus-mutation-science/

Patriotic hypocrisy

Pennsylvania

KDKA, “Study Finds Pennsylvania Among The Least Patriotic States In America,” June 24, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/24/pennsylvania-is-among-least-patriots-states-in-america/


U.S. Military

Lois Beckett, “How the US military has failed to address white supremacy in its ranks,” Guardian, June 24, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/24/us-military-white-supremacy-extremist-plot


Poor, poor, spoiled-rotten babies

Updates

  1. Originally published, June 20, 10:34 pm.
  2. June 21, 4:23 am:
    • It appears there was a campaign on TikTok to reserve tickets for Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa that would never be used. The campaign, reported by CNN in a story that appears to be several days older than the dateline (judging from the URL, it would have been June 16), was not expected to succeed as it is routine that many more “RSVP” for these events than can actually attend and the rallies usually fill arenas anyway.[1] I do not and suspect I will never have the pieces put together to say that this campaign was indeed the cause of Trump’s disappointment[2] but the TikTok users, joined by Korean pop music fans, are claiming success.[3]
  3. June 21, 10:25 am:
  4. June 21, 2:53 pm:
    • Yashar Ali has what I think is a very useful analysis of Donald Trump’s rally failure,[4] which I have included in an update to my new blog entry (from the 10:25 am update).

Police

Atlanta police have responded to a murder charge against the officer who killed Rayshard Brooks with various labor actions, including a sick-out and refusals to leave their precincts.[5] This underscores a point I have previously made that police refuse accountability and so cannot be trusted with weapons.[6] I would say now that they cannot be trusted with authority over others, period.

We can now identify four essential features of policing as currently practiced:

  1. A unique license to use even lethal force against other human beings;
  2. the use of this license to enforce laws passed by mostly wealthy white men against other human beings;[7]
  3. a nearly-unanimous refusal of accountability for the use of this force;[8]
  4. and that this license colors any other tactics police may use, effectively reducing them to the potential for even lethal force.

In sum, all this amounts to is a response to so-called ‘disorder’ (as understood by mostly wealthy white men[9]) with effectively unregulated violence in which the perpetrators, both at the legislative and enforcement levels, generally refuse to recognize there is a problem.

I have updated a recent blog post accordingly and, as well, to account for Zak Cheney-Rice’s article,[10] which I had not seen before writing that post.

Will Pavia, “Atlanta police stage sick leave protest over murder charge,” Times, June 19, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/angry-police-in-sick-leave-protest-over-murder-charge-trf6btshv

Zak Cheney-Rice, “Why Police Abolition Is a Useful Framework — Even for Skeptics,” New York, June 15, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/06/police-abolitionist-lessons-for-america.html


Pennsylvania

KDKA, “Report: Pennsylvania’s State Economy Has Some Of The Most Racial Inequality In The Country,” June 17, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/17/pennsylvania-economy-racial-inequality/


Donald Trump

Eugene Daniels, “Trump campaign blames protesters for disappointing turnout at Tulsa rally,” Politico, June 20, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/06/20/trump-rally-tulsa-coronavirus-reset-2020-campaign-330248

Donie O’Sullivan, “TikTok users are trying to troll Trump’s campaign by reserving tickets for Tulsa rally they’ll never use,” CNN, June 20, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/16/politics/tiktok-trump-tulsa-rally-trnd/index.html

Aruna Viswanatha, “Judge Denies Justice Department Request to Immediately Block Bolton Book,” Wall Street Journal, June 20, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/judge-denies-justice-department-request-to-block-bolton-book-11592663539

Yashar Ali, [Twitter thread], Twitter Thread App, June 21, 2020, https://threadreaderapp.com/embed/1274547228619636738.html

Taylor Lorenz, Kellen Browning, and Sheera Frenkel, “TikTok Teens and K-Pop Stans Say They Sank Trump Rally,” New York Times, June 21, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/21/style/tiktok-trump-rally-tulsa.html

Andrew Solender, “Turnout At Trump’s Tulsa Rally Was Just Under 6,200–A Fraction Of The Venue’s 19,200 Capacity,” Forbes, June 21, 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewsolender/2020/06/21/turnout-at-trumps-tulsa-rally-was-just-under-6200a-fraction-of-the-venues-19200-capacity/


  1. [1]Donie O’Sullivan, “TikTok users are trying to troll Trump’s campaign by reserving tickets for Tulsa rally they’ll never use,” CNN, June 20, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/16/politics/tiktok-trump-tulsa-rally-trnd/index.html
  2. [2]Eugene Daniels, “Trump campaign blames protesters for disappointing turnout at Tulsa rally,” Politico, June 20, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/06/20/trump-rally-tulsa-coronavirus-reset-2020-campaign-330248
  3. [3]Taylor Lorenz, Kellen Browning, and Sheera Frenkel, “TikTok Teens and K-Pop Stans Say They Sank Trump Rally,” New York Times, June 21, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/21/style/tiktok-trump-rally-tulsa.html
  4. [4]Yashar Ali, [Twitter thread], Twitter Thread App, June 21, 2020, https://threadreaderapp.com/embed/1274547228619636738.html
  5. [5]Will Pavia, “Atlanta police stage sick leave protest over murder charge,” Times, June 19, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/angry-police-in-sick-leave-protest-over-murder-charge-trf6btshv
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Time to take the guns away,” Not Housebroken, January 6, 2015, https://disunitedstates.org/2015/01/04/time-to-take-the-guns-away/
  7. [7]Herbert J. Gans, The War Against The Poor: The Underclass And Antipoverty Policy (New York: Basic, 1995); Jeffrey Reiman, The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison, 7th ed. (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2004).
  8. [8]David Benfell, “Time to take the guns away,” Not Housebroken, January 6, 2015, https://disunitedstates.org/2015/01/04/time-to-take-the-guns-away/; Zak Cheney-Rice, “Why Police Abolition Is a Useful Framework — Even for Skeptics,” New York, June 15, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/06/police-abolitionist-lessons-for-america.html; Will Pavia, “Atlanta police stage sick leave protest over murder charge,” Times, June 19, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/angry-police-in-sick-leave-protest-over-murder-charge-trf6btshv
  9. [9]David Benfell, “A constitutional oligarchy: Deconstructing Federalist No. 10,” Not Housebroken, June 7, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/22/a-constitutional-oligarchy-deconstructing-federalist-no-10/
  10. [10]Zak Cheney-Rice, “Why Police Abolition Is a Useful Framework — Even for Skeptics,” New York, June 15, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/06/police-abolitionist-lessons-for-america.html

Donald Trump, the petulant raging narcissist-in-chief, must do his homework

Racism

There is a new blog post entitled, “Be careful what you ask for.”

Jason Okundaye, “Abolish Whiteness,” London Review of Books, June 16, 2020, https://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2020/june/abolish-whiteness


Unauthorized migrants

The Supreme Court has, in essence, informed the Trump administration that it must do its homework.[1]

Robert Barnes, “Supreme Court rules against Trump’s attempt to end DACA, a win for undocumented ‘Dreamers’ brought to U.S. as children,” Wall Street Journal, June 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-rules-against-trump-administration-attempt-to-end-daca-a-win-for-undocumented-immigrants-brought-to-us-as-children/2020/06/18/4f0b6c74-b163-11ea-8758-bfd1d045525a_story.html


Pandemic

Though the data is “proprietary” (really? for a government health agency?), it appears that Pennsylvania is making some progress against the pandemic.[2] The trouble here is that nobody has hermetically sealed borders. The rise in other states[3] remains a serious threat.

KDKA, “Gov. Tom Wolf: CDC Says Pa. Is 1 Of 3 States Where Coronavirus Cases Have Declined For More Than 42 Days,” June 17, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/17/gov-tom-wolf-pennsylvania-coronavirus-cases-decline/


Recession

AnnaMaria Andriotis, “Americans Skip Millions of Loan Payments as Coronavirus Takes Economic Toll,” Wall Street Journal, June 18, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/americans-skip-millions-of-loan-payments-as-coronavirus-takes-economic-toll-11592472601


  1. [1]Robert Barnes, “Supreme Court rules against Trump’s attempt to end DACA, a win for undocumented ‘Dreamers’ brought to U.S. as children,” Wall Street Journal, June 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-rules-against-trump-administration-attempt-to-end-daca-a-win-for-undocumented-immigrants-brought-to-us-as-children/2020/06/18/4f0b6c74-b163-11ea-8758-bfd1d045525a_story.html
  2. [2]KDKA, “Gov. Tom Wolf: CDC Says Pa. Is 1 Of 3 States Where Coronavirus Cases Have Declined For More Than 42 Days,” June 17, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/17/gov-tom-wolf-pennsylvania-coronavirus-cases-decline/
  3. [3]Lisa Shumaker and Brendan O’Brien, “Record spike in new coronavirus cases reported in six U.S. states as reopening accelerates,” Reuters, June 16, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-idUSKBN23N32O

Eviction can’t be the answer, but I guess it is

Recession

I previously noted that “[t]he self-righteousness and sense of entitlement is strong in these folks [landlords]”[1] and indeed they are evicting and harassing tenants by means both legal and illegal.[2]

Even if they can’t be evicted right now, if the courts are closed, the landlords are sending threatening emails, text messages, asking for rent, threatening to lock tenants out.[3]

They’re ruthless in the very ways I have heard so many times over the years that they are.

Nationwide, the coronavirus housing catastrophe is just beginning to pick up momentum. The true eviction cliff could come in August, after the federal $600-per-week boost to unemployment benefits ends. Those benefits are helping tens of millions of households keep up with the rent. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already pledged not to renew these benefits.[4]

Eviction can’t be the answer, but I guess it is, even as housing really already wasn’t affordable for low income folks anywhere in the country,[5] making the burden of catching upon missed rent payments likely insurmountable.

Associated Press, “Tenants Behind on Rent in Pandemic Face Harassment, Eviction,” U.S. News and World Report, June 14, 2020, https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/virginia/articles/2020-06-13/tenants-behind-on-rent-in-pandemic-face-harassment-eviction


Pacific Gas and Electric

After each name was read, the chief executive of PG&E Corp. solemnly answered: “Guilty, your honor.”

PG&E admitted its guilt Tuesday in Butte County Superior Court in connection with the Camp Fire, the second time in three years the state’s largest utility has been convicted of a felony.[6]

Pacific Gas and Electric pled guilty to “a count of felony involuntary manslaughter for each of the 84 victims and a single count of unlawfully starting a fire, for a total of 85 counts.”[7] The corporation is a repeat felony offender, but it seems very unlikely anyone is going to prison and it seems highly likely the company will be allowed to continue operating.

I had thought the consequences of a felony conviction were supposed to be rather more serious.

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


Housekeeping

So as I have begun to look seriously at housing options (because I think I may need to move next year), I’m seeing a situation around Pittsburgh and, for that matter, pretty much all around the country, in which there are four options:

  1. Affordable housing in desperately poor and likely dangerous neighborhoods. These are likely slums. I’m already unhappy with my present landlord on maintenance issues and these are neighborhoods I don’t even want to drive through at night (they’re fine during the day), let alone sleep in.
  2. Affordable housing in not so poor but white supremacist neighborhoods. This is pretty much the situation I’m in now. It’s quiet and I can sleep at night. Usually, the maintenance is pretty good (just not on a couple issues lately). But I hate seeing the guns. I hate seeing the Confederate flags. I hate seeing all the camouflage paint schemes. I hate seeing the “Blue Lives Matter” flags and signs expressing support for local police.
  3. Unaffordable housing in wealthier, better educated, and often gentrified neighborhoods. Here I find people with whom I can have intelligent conversations. But I can’t afford the rent.
  4. Unaffordable housing in fabulously wealthy neighborhoods, sometimes with fabulous views. Obviously not an option.

The other thing I’m increasingly sensing is that in Pittsburgh, renting generally marks one as poor: Houses can be bought for $300,000, so if you rent, you are either renting a very expensive apartment or you are poor. This bothers me because I am well aware that being poor marks one as a target for the police and I in fact go to great lengths to limit the appearance of being poor (the Uber and Lyft stickers on my car do not help).

I haven’t actually had any trouble with the police here but let’s just say it’s a sensitive point for me.


  1. [1]David Benfell, “When nothing happened next,” Not Housebroken, March 29, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/03/29/when-nothing-happened-next/
  2. [2]Associated Press, “Tenants Behind on Rent in Pandemic Face Harassment, Eviction,” U.S. News and World Report, June 14, 2020, https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/virginia/articles/2020-06-13/tenants-behind-on-rent-in-pandemic-face-harassment-eviction
  3. [3]Rachel Garland, quoted in Associated Press, “Tenants Behind on Rent in Pandemic Face Harassment, Eviction,” U.S. News and World Report, June 14, 2020, https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/virginia/articles/2020-06-13/tenants-behind-on-rent-in-pandemic-face-harassment-eviction
  4. [4]Kriston Capps, “What Happens When the Eviction Bans End?” CityLab, May 29, 2020, https://www.citylab.com/equity/2020/05/pay-rent-eviction-ban-coronavirus-housing-crisis-landlord/612277/
  5. [5]National Low Income Housing Coalition, “Out Of Reach 2019,” 2020, https://reports.nlihc.org/oor
  6. [6]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
  7. [7]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