Welcome to the apocalypse

Horse race

It’s a truly bizarre platform under the circumstances, but as is typical for neoliberals, utterly and willfully ignorant of reality:

“M4A” means Medicare For All.


White supremacist militia

I have added a note to a previous blog post:

I am remembering a previous blog post in which I witnessed a local cop (in the Pittsburgh area) allowed his dog to bark viciously and persistently at a Black man who was doing nothing more than walking across a parking lot. Instances such as these, this one that I personally witnessed,[1] the one Ryan Devereaux describes,[2] and, of course, the disproportionate killings of Blacks,[3] virtually erase the distinction between police and white supremacist militia, transforming it to a distinction between regular (official) and irregular (unofficial) white supremacist militia. I don’t know how you conclude otherwise.[4]


  1. [1]David Benfell, “Hey cops! Do you know what year it is?” Not Housebroken, August 27, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/27/hey-cops-do-you-know-what-year-it-is/
  2. [2]Ryan Devereaux, “The Thin Blue Line Between Violent, Pro-Trump Militias and Police,” Intercept, August 28, 2020, https://theintercept.com/2020/08/28/kyle-rittenhouse-violent-pro-trump-militias-police/
  3. [3]Mark Berman et al., “Protests spread over police shootings. Police promised reforms. Every year, they still shoot and kill nearly 1,000 people,” Washington Post, June 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/protests-spread-over-police-shootings-police-promised-reforms-every-year-they-still-shoot-nearly-1000-people/2020/06/08/5c204f0c-a67c-11ea-b473-04905b1af82b_story.html; James Downie, “Time to toss the ‘bad apples’ excuse,” Washington Post, May 31, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/05/31/time-toss-bad-apples-excuse/; Wesley Lowery, “Aren’t more white people than black people killed by police? Yes, but no,” Washington Post, July 11, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/07/11/arent-more-white-people-than-black-people-killed-by-police-yes-but-no/; Brentin Mock, “What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings,” CityLab, August 6, 2019, https://www.citylab.com/equity/2019/08/police-officer-shootings-gun-violence-racial-bias-crime-data/595528/; Elie Mystal, “There’s Only One Possible Conclusion: White America Likes Its Killer Cops,” Nation, May 27, 2020, https://www.thenation.com/article/society/white-america-cops/; Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, “How Do We Change America?” New Yorker, June 8, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/how-do-we-change-america
  4. [4]David Benfell, “Donald Trump’s ‘brown shirts,’” Not Housebroken, September 12, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/30/donald-trumps-brown-shirts/

As Donald Trump faces possible defeat, violence is here

Updates

  1. Originally published, August 30, 2020, at 11:16 am.
  2. August 30, 2020, 10:34 pm:
    • It turns out the shooting victim in Portland may well have been a white supremacist Trump supporter and the shooter may have been among demonstrating Leftists. Further details are sparse[1] but some possibilities come to mind:

      1. This could have been a “false flag” operation in which a white supremacist embedded himself among Leftists and fired at one of his own in an attempt to garner sympathy for the white supremacist cause. Yes, some of them really are this crazy and it’s even conceivable that the victim volunteered to be a martyr.
      2. I have also been seeing on Twitter that as police credibility has evaporated, some Leftists say they are taking up weapons—indeed, some have apparently had them all along. So it’s possible this really was a Leftist shooting at a militia member. It does appear that any violence from the Leftist side may have been provoked by the militia side.[2]
      3. It is possible we will never know the truth. Police have been known to “testilie,” that is, give false testimony, even under oath. The practice may even be ubiquitous and the incentives for both district attorneys and police generally favor at least complicity if not worse.[3] It does appear police sympathies lie with the militia,[4] so we cannot presume that any law enforcement-led investigation will be impartial. And so we have no way to be assured of the honesty of any law enforcement-led investigation.

      Donald Trump is of course seizing on the violence in his “law and order” narrative, praising his supporters.[5]

  3. August 31, 2020, 9:07 am:
    • Guardian coverage of the Portland shooting includes video of the shooting that seems to suggest it occurred away—I don’t know how far away—from clashes between racial justice protesters and right-wing militia groups.[6] It’s possible this had nothing to do with the protests but, adopting the logic of the Kenosha police chief,[7] we might suggest that had this man not come to Portland to provoke violence with protesters, he might still be alive. I’m just guessing Donald Trump won’t acknowledge that.

      This coverage also includes video of militia members driving pickups through protests and pepper-spraying protesters.[8] The driving cars through protesters thing reminds me of the violence in Charlottesville.[9]

  4. August 31, 2020, 9:35 am:
    • As I was dredging my archives to check my recollection of Charlottesville, I came across this:

      In March [2017], [Keith] Mines was one of several national-security experts whom Foreign Policy asked to evaluate the risks of a second civil war—with percentages. Mines concluded that the United States faces a sixty-per-cent chance of civil war over the next ten to fifteen years. Other experts’ predictions ranged from five per cent to ninety-five per cent. The sobering consensus was thirty-five per cent. And that was five months before Charlottesville.[10]

      I guess I’d have to say this still seems to me to be a stretch. Combatants would likely be drawn from the Left and the extreme right. I’m not seeing it become a mainstream thing. But the violence seems like it might be escalating and it certainly is eye-catching.

  5. August 31, 2020, 10:17 am:
    • If you want to see a map of the homes destroyed in the LNU Complex Fires, including the Walbridge Fire, see this Sacramento Bee article. You’ll have to drag the map quite a ways to the west to get to Sonoma County. I dragged it clear towards Fort Ross near where once I came across a home that was for sale—it was absolutely spectacular—and that I badly wished I was in any kind of condition to purchase. It looks like three homes burned there; I’m wondering if that house was among them.


Militia

When Donald Trump was being impeached, I wrote,

I object to the present proceedings because I suspect they would not be occurring at all had Trump targeted anyone other than the neoliberals’ preferred candidate for the neoliberal (Democratic) party presidential nomination[11] and because I think there are stronger grounds for impeachment that would not enable Trump’s bigotry against migrants on the U.S.-Mexican border.[12] I have also worried about the possibility that Trump’s base might resort to violence and it very much appears to me that I now live in an area[13] where some of that violence might occur.[14][15]

That impeachment went down to a well-deserved—I called it “[t]he stupidest impeachment ever, historically notable first for all the offenses it failed to charge Donald Trump with,[16] second for its utterly predictable futility, and third for its transparent (and apparently failed) attempt to protect Joe Biden[17][18]—defeat[19] but now that Donald Trump faces a possible defeat in his re-election bid this November, he has embraced a neoconservative “law and order” mantra in response to Black Lives Matter protests,[20] and the specter I worried about with impeachment seems to be coming to life. The part I didn’t predict was that the police would embrace the militia.[21] There is a new blog post entitled, “Donald Trump’s ‘brown shirts.’

Faiz Siddiqui and Isaac Stanley-Becker, “One person shot dead in Portland following clashes between pro-Trump supporters, counterprotesters,” Washington Post, August 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/08/29/blm-activists-counterprotesters-clash-portland-leading-arrests/

Hollie Silverman and Alta Spells, “1 person is dead after a shooting during protests in downtown Portland,” CNN, August 30, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/30/us/portland-protest-fatal-shooting/index.html

Ed Pilkington and Joanna Walters, “Portland clashes: Trump accused of encouraging violence after shooting,” Guardian, August 31, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/aug/30/fatal-shooting-in-portland-as-trump-supporters-clash-with-black-lives-matter-protesters


  1. [1]Faiz Siddiqui and Isaac Stanley-Becker, “One person shot dead in Portland following clashes between pro-Trump supporters, counterprotesters,” Washington Post, August 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/08/29/blm-activists-counterprotesters-clash-portland-leading-arrests/
  2. [2]Faiz Siddiqui and Isaac Stanley-Becker, “One person shot dead in Portland following clashes between pro-Trump supporters, counterprotesters,” Washington Post, August 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/08/29/blm-activists-counterprotesters-clash-portland-leading-arrests/
  3. [3]Mark Joseph Stern, “The Police Lie. All the Time. Can Anything Stop Them?” Slate, August 4, 2020, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/08/police-testilying.html
  4. [4]Ryan Devereaux, “The Thin Blue Line Between Violent, Pro-Trump Militias and Police,” Intercept, August 28, 2020, https://theintercept.com/2020/08/28/kyle-rittenhouse-violent-pro-trump-militias-police/; Jeremy Stahl, “Kenosha Police Chief Blames Protesters for Their Own Deaths, Defends Vigilante Groups,” Slate, August 26, 2020, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/08/kenosha-police-chief-daniel-miskinis-blames-protesters-for-own-deaths.html
  5. [5]Faiz Siddiqui and Isaac Stanley-Becker, “One person shot dead in Portland following clashes between pro-Trump supporters, counterprotesters,” Washington Post, August 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/08/29/blm-activists-counterprotesters-clash-portland-leading-arrests/
  6. [6]Ed Pilkington and Joanna Walters, “Portland clashes: Trump accused of encouraging violence after shooting,” Guardian, August 31, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/aug/30/fatal-shooting-in-portland-as-trump-supporters-clash-with-black-lives-matter-protesters
  7. [7]Jeremy Stahl, “Kenosha Police Chief Blames Protesters for Their Own Deaths, Defends Vigilante Groups,” Slate, August 26, 2020, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/08/kenosha-police-chief-daniel-miskinis-blames-protesters-for-own-deaths.html
  8. [8]Ed Pilkington and Joanna Walters, “Portland clashes: Trump accused of encouraging violence after shooting,” Guardian, August 31, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/aug/30/fatal-shooting-in-portland-as-trump-supporters-clash-with-black-lives-matter-protesters
  9. [9]British Broadcasting Corporation, “Charlottesville: One killed in violence over US far-right rally,” August 13, 2017, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-40912509
  10. [10]Robin Wright, “Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War?” New Yorker, August 14, 2017, https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/is-america-headed-for-a-new-kind-of-civil-war
  11. [11]David Benfell, “It’s still a smoke-filled room,” December 6, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/06/its-still-a-smoke-filled-room/; David Benfell, “How the neoliberal (usually known as Democratic) party may well lose in 2020,” Not Housebroken, December 7, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/07/how-the-neoliberal-usually-known-as-democratic-party-may-well-lose-in-2020/
  12. [12]David Benfell, “The whiteness of impeachment,” Not Housebroken, December 15, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/15/the-whiteness-of-impeachment/
  13. [13]Colin P. Clarke, “One Year After Tree of Life, We Still Aren’t Talking Enough About Violent White Supremacy,” Rand, October 27, 2019, https://www.rand.org/blog/2019/10/one-year-after-tree-of-life-we-still-arent-talking.html; Letrell Deshan Crittenden, “The Pittsburgh problem: race, media and everyday life in the Steel City,” Columbia Journalism Review, October 25, 2019, https://www.cjr.org/tow_center_reports/racism-black-burnout-in-pittsburgh-journalism.php; Eric Heyl, “Neo-Nazi, White Supremacist, Islamic Hate Groups Active In Pittsburgh,” Patch, August 16, 2017, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/pittsburgh/neo-nazi-white-supremacist-islamic-hate-groups-active-pittsburgh; Moriah Ella Mason, “Pittsburgh Doesn’t Need More Guns — We Need Less White Supremacy,” Forward, October 29, 2018, https://forward.com/scribe/413104/pittsburgh-doesnt-need-more-guns-we-need-less-white-supremacy/; Charles Thompson, “Pennsylvania housed 36 active hate groups last year, ranking 8th in the country: report,” Penn Live, February 21, 2019, https://www.pennlive.com/news/2019/02/southern-poverty-law-center-counts-36-active-hate-groups-in-pennsylvania-in-2018.html
  14. [14]David Benfell, “Militia territory,” Not Housebroken, November 22, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/11/22/militia-territory/
  15. [15]David Benfell, “The least violent solution,” Not Housebroken, December 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/16/the-least-violent-solution/
  16. [16]David Benfell, “The whiteness of impeachment,” Not Housebroken, December 15, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/15/the-whiteness-of-impeachment/; see also Democracy Now, “Law Professor: Trump Could Also Have Been Impeached for War Crimes, Assassinations and Corruption,” January 24, 2020, https://www.democracynow.org/2020/1/24/donald_trump_senate_impeachment_trial
  17. [17]David Benfell, “It’s still a smoke-filled room,” Not Housebroken, December 6, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/06/its-still-a-smoke-filled-room/; David Benfell, “How the neoliberal (usually known as Democratic) party may well lose in 2020,” Not Housebroken, December 7, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/07/how-the-neoliberal-usually-known-as-democratic-party-may-well-lose-in-2020/; David Benfell, “The whiteness of impeachment,” Not Housebroken, December 15, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/15/the-whiteness-of-impeachment/; David Benfell, “The least violent solution,” Not Housebroken, December 16, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/16/the-least-violent-solution/; David Benfell, “The sham (pick your partisan flavor) is on,” Not Housebroken, December 19, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/19/the-sham-pick-your-partisan-flavor-is-on/; David Benfell, “The asterisk,” Not Housebroken, December 21, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/21/the-asterisk/
  18. [18]David Benfell, “One farce down, one to go,” Irregular Bullshit, February 5, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/02/05/one-farce-down-one-to-go/
  19. [19]Jennifer Haberkorn and Sarah D. Wire, “Senate acquits Trump in impeachment trial; Romney breaks with GOP to vote for conviction,” Los Angeles Times, February 5, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-02-05/senate-expected-to-acquit-president-trump-impeachment-trial
  20. [20]David Benfell, “The authoritarian populist president embraces neoconservatism–to advance his own tyranny,” Not Housebroken, July 29, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/07/21/the-authoritarian-populist-president-embraces-neoconservatism-to-advance-his-own-tyranny/
  21. [21]Ryan Devereaux, “The Thin Blue Line Between Violent, Pro-Trump Militias and Police,” Intercept, August 28, 2020, https://theintercept.com/2020/08/28/kyle-rittenhouse-violent-pro-trump-militias-police/; Jeremy Stahl, “Kenosha Police Chief Blames Protesters for Their Own Deaths, Defends Vigilante Groups,” Slate, August 26, 2020, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/08/kenosha-police-chief-daniel-miskinis-blames-protesters-for-own-deaths.html

A murderer murders and the police chief blames protesters for being out after curfew

Police

A picture I had gotten from Twitter was of an armed young white supremacist appearing at a protest against the police shooting of Jacob Blake, shooting protesters, and being allowed to leave. A Slate story refers to the shooter as a ‘vigilante’ but otherwise confirms the account[1] and I see no reason to distinguish between white supremacism and those who defend the police assertion of privilege to do whatever the fuck they want, including shooting people, especially including shooting Black people.[2]

[Kenosha Police Chief Daniel] Miskinis’ views of the gathering of vigilante groups that reportedly led to the killing of two local men [in a protest sparked by the police shooting of Jacob Blake] appears to be very much in line with those of his department. Before the shooting, officers in armored vehicles could be seen giving water to armed men gathered with the alleged shooter and telling them, “We appreciate you guys, we really do.” After the killings, the alleged shooter walked slowly past a series of police vehicles with his arms raised and was allowed to simply walk away. (It’s not yet clear what the officers knew about the shooting at the time, but the shots were audible in nearby footage.)[3]

Instead of blaming the white supremacist/vigilante who shot protesters, Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis appears to blame the protesters themselves, saying they were out after a declared curfew.[4]

Jeremy Stahl, “Kenosha Police Chief Blames Protesters for Their Own Deaths, Defends Vigilante Groups,” Slate, August 26, 2020, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/08/kenosha-police-chief-daniel-miskinis-blames-protesters-for-own-deaths.html


Horse race


  1. [1]Jeremy Stahl, “Kenosha Police Chief Blames Protesters for Their Own Deaths, Defends Vigilante Groups,” Slate, August 26, 2020, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/08/kenosha-police-chief-daniel-miskinis-blames-protesters-for-own-deaths.html
  2. [2]David Benfell, “Don’t just defund the police. Abolish them,” Not Housebroken, August 25, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/25/dont-just-defund-the-police-abolish-them/
  3. [3]Jeremy Stahl, “Kenosha Police Chief Blames Protesters for Their Own Deaths, Defends Vigilante Groups,” Slate, August 26, 2020, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/08/kenosha-police-chief-daniel-miskinis-blames-protesters-for-own-deaths.html
  4. [4]Jeremy Stahl, “Kenosha Police Chief Blames Protesters for Their Own Deaths, Defends Vigilante Groups,” Slate, August 26, 2020, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/08/kenosha-police-chief-daniel-miskinis-blames-protesters-for-own-deaths.html

The Talk

It wasn’t that long ago, I had a young Black man in my car who had received only a mild form of “The Talk,” that is, the conversation Black parents very unfortunately need to have with their children about what to do when confronted by police.

I explained to him that cops will lie, that they will just make shit up. Don’t believe me?

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Public Defendering

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23 Aug, 14 tweets, 3 min read

Thread about my retaliatory arrest:

6 police units arrived at my mom’s house at 5:30am, 3 different police agencies showed up, all exits from my mom’s house were barricaded, had officers surrounding the house, 1/6

my mom saw through the ring speaker that two officers were sniffing through their license plates under the carport. Mom “may I help you?”thru the ring. They said they had a warrant for me but refused to say what for. Mom told them that I was a public defender and at court. 2/6

I immediately leave my house so not to put my husband or my dog at risk should they get the right address. Driving on the road, I’m anxious that I’ll be targeted and stopped to execute the warrant.

Make it to my office, immediately start hiding out in my colleagues office who has no fucks to give should shit go sideways — there we plan to stay in the office to avoid arrest while figuring out exactly what is going on. My colleague begins by calling the PD with the warrant—

The officer who answered the phone knew me and that they were out trying to execute a warrant for me. When asked what the warrant was for they said they didn’t have to say. When asked for a copy— they said they did not have authorization to provide us with one.

The conversation switched drastically after those two questions to — “where is she? At her office. Bring her to us so we can execute the warrant and arrest her. My colleague told the police officer that would not happen without more information on the warrant.

About 5 minutes later the phone rings, my colleague answers and hands the phone to me. The guy who was trying to execute the warrant was on the phone telling me that this will get ugly if I continue to avoid arrest. Again, I am at my officer and in court at 2pm.

At this point their refusal to come to the courthouse to arrest me or arrest me at my office—was making me think something really sketchy was going on.

I was working on a attempted murder of a police officer case representing the defendant. It seemed far fetched but I was starting to think it was retaliation for that.

I called a few ADAs I knew would do favors for me and asked them to look into it. They later reported that the police wouldn’t give them any information about what the warrant was for— nothing. The ADAs checked the warrant system and a warrant for me didn’t exist.

“When the ADAs called me back they said the same thing “Don’t know what’s going on but this is retaliation about that case. They won’t tell us anything about the warrant but it doesn’t exist. You need to stay somewhere other than your house tonight.

Don’t let them arrest you. I don’t know exactly what is going on but I do know they intend to not release you and fuck with you. The cop mentioned 30 days but They are going to try to hold you for as long as they can.

I plan on finishing them but imma wait to see how much interest I get before I bother typing it all out for nothing

I’m going to finish, I swear. I’m just falling asleep and to do the remainder of the story justice I need to finish it in the morning, so stay tuned.[1]

The cops are trying this on someone they know to be a lawyer, someone they know will know her rights, someone they know has the means to check their claims. Consider what they will do to someone, anyone, who doesn’t have the privilege and the access that this public defender has.


  1. [1]Public Defendering [pseud.], [Twitter thread], August 23, 2020, https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1297405642848837633.html

California is on fire, again, and this time, we can’t blame Pacific Gas and Electric

Walbridge Fire (Fire 13-4)

FireShot Capture 268 - County of Sonoma Fire Incident Map - sonomacounty.maps.arcgis.com
Fig. 1. Screenshot of Sonoma County Fire Incident Map, taken by author on August 20, 2020, at 6:18 am EDT (3:18 am PDT).

The Walbridge Fire, formerly known as Fire 13-4, has visibly spread and a fire that had been reported along the coast between Jenner and Fort Ross now appears where it hadn’t before (figure 1). Evacuation warning areas now reach Occidental, which is a lovely little town in a lovely forested valley, and Forestville. I don’t yet have the full 72 hours of satellite photos that normally go into these gifs (figure 2) because the link had changed and I didn’t discover it until I went to check for this fire.
wus
Fig. 2. Western U.S. satellite imagery animation, as of 6:03 am EDT (3:03 am PDT).
You can see a wind flow around a high pressure area that was formerly a little farther west that looks like it should have been driving the fire in an opposite direction. The approaching cold front in the Pacific Northwest should also have drawn winds from south to north. This is belied both by the expansion of the fire itself and by the ash fall my mother reported. Also, to the extent the front had any impact at all, it will reverse as it passes.

The good news is that I haven’t received any further notifications for this fire since 4:23 pm EDT (1:23 pm PDT) yesterday, suggesting that the expansion of evacuation zones has stopped.

The bad news is that these fires are not being blamed on Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) but rather lightning, which is why there are so many of them, from 11,000 lightning strikes, around the state.[1]

In the short term, the sheer number of fires means firefighting resources are stretched thin, notably in part because prison labor is not available to help because of the COVID-19 pandemic.[2] In the longer term, it shows that California’s fire woes cannot solely be blamed on PG&E, which has been culpable in many fires, forced into bankruptcy as a result, and even criminally convicted in one fire,[3] although investigators cleared it in the 2017 Tubbs Fire which also afflicted Sonoma County.[4] California has suffered more drought than not my entire adult life, presumably due to the climate crisis; a single-minded focus on PG&E as culprit glosses over that the vegetation is tinder dry. The state needs rain, it isn’t getting it, and it can no longer be expected to get it.

Dale Kasler, Ryan Sabalow, and Sophia Bollag, “Can California handle this many wildfires at once? Crews and equipment already ‘depleted,’” Sacramento Bee, August 19, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article245083025.html


  1. [1]Dale Kasler, Ryan Sabalow, and Sophia Bollag, “Can California handle this many wildfires at once? Crews and equipment already ‘depleted,’” Sacramento Bee, August 19, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article245083025.html
  2. [2]Dale Kasler, Ryan Sabalow, and Sophia Bollag, “Can California handle this many wildfires at once? Crews and equipment already ‘depleted,’” Sacramento Bee, August 19, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article245083025.html
  3. [3]Howard Blume, “PG&E reaches $13.5-billion settlement with victims of devastating California wildfires,” Los Angeles Times, December 6, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-12-06/pge-settlement-fire-northern-california; 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; Katherine Blunt, “PG&E’s Settlement With California Fire Victims Is Fraying,” Wall Street Journal, April 6, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pg-es-settlement-with-california-fire-victims-is-fraying-11586189889; Katherine Blunt and Russell Gold, “PG&E Knew for Years Its Lines Could Spark Wildfires, and Didn’t Fix Them,” Wall Street Journal, July 10, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pg-e-knew-for-years-its-lines-could-spark-wildfires-and-didnt-fix-them-11562768885; 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; Peg Brickley, “PG&E Loses Challenge to Law Holding It Liable for Fire Damage,” Wall Street Journal, November 27, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pg-e-loses-challenge-to-law-holding-it-liable-for-fire-damage-11574910091; Russell Gold and Katherine Blunt, “PG&E Had Systemic Problems With Power Line Maintenance, California Probe Finds,” Wall Street Journal, December 2, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pg-e-had-systemic-problems-with-power-line-maintenance-california-probe-finds-11575338873; 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; Dale Kasler, “PG&E says its equipment may have caused a fourth California fire in the past week,” Sacramento Bee, October 30, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article236841498.html; Dale Kasler, “PG&E makes deal to pay California wildfire victims. What it means for utility’s future,” Sacramento Bee, December 6, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article238138009.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, “California investigators blame PG&E for massive 2019 Kincade Fire in wine country,” Sacramento Bee, July 16, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article244283752.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/; J.D. Morris, “PG&E bankruptcy judge won’t approve attempt to halt fire victim votes,” San Francisco Chronicle, April 7, 2020, https://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/PG-E-bankruptcy-judge-won-t-approve-attempt-to-15185776.php; Ivan Penn and Peter Eavis, “Report Detailing PG&E’s Failures Raises New Hurdles for Utility,” New York Times, December 3, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/03/business/energy-environment/pge-camp-fire-report.html; Randi Rossman and Will Schmitt, “Broken PG&E tower discovered near origin of Kincade fire on The Geysers geothermal power property,” Santa Rosa Press Democrat, October 25, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/10216601-181/kincade-fire-starts-inside-the; Joe Ryan and Mark Chediak, “PG&E stock craters after ruling Tubbs fire suit can proceed,” Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, August 19, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/business/9924652-181/pge-stock-craters-after-ruling; Joseph Serna and Taryn Luna, “PG&E power lines caused California’s deadliest fire, investigators conclude,” Los Angeles Times, May 15, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-paradise-camp-fire-cal-fire-20190515-story.html; Kanishka Singh, “PG&E failed to inspect transmission lines that caused deadly 2018 wilfdfire [sic]: state probe,” Reuters, December 3, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-california-wildfire-pg-e-us-idUSKBN1Y70N8; Reis Thebault, Kim Bellware, and Andrew Freedman, “High-voltage power line broke near origin of massive California fire that forced thousands of evacuations,” Washington Post, October 25, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/10/24/fast-moving-wildfire-ignites-northern-california-wine-country-prompting-evacuations/
  4. [4]Ivan Penn and Peter Eavis, “PG&E Is Cleared in Deadly Tubbs Fire of 2017,” New York Times, January 24, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/24/business/energy-environment/pge-tubbs-fire.html

Aren’t you glad somebody’s keeping track of all the shit?

There is a new blog post entitled, “On police.”


Ridesharing

Faiz Siddiqui, “Uber and Lyft must make their drivers in California full employees, judge rules,” Washington Post, August 10, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/08/10/uber-lyft-ab5/


Donald Trump

No one should even want to keep track of all the shit Donald Trump utters. But I guess it’s good someone does.[1] And hell, I might need to find some of this someday.

George T. Conway, III, “I (still) believe the president, and in the president,” Washington Post, August 10, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/08/10/i-still-believe-president-president/


Kamala Harris

Just a reminder.

Marjorie Cohn, “Kamala Harris Has a Distinguished Career of Serving Injustice,” Truthout, July 8, 2019, https://truthout.org/articles/kamala-harris-has-a-distinguished-career-of-serving-injustice/

Emily Cadei and Bryan Anderson, “Fact check: Did Kamala Harris block evidence that would have freed death row inmates?” Sacramento Bee, July 31, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article233375207.html

Shikha Dalmia, “The real reason Kamala Harris is tanking,” Week, November 4, 2019, https://theweek.com/articles/875020/real-reason-kamala-harris-tanking


  1. [1]George T. Conway, III, “I believe the president, and in the president,” Washington Post, February 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/05/george-conway-trump-i-believe/; George T. Conway, III, “I (still) believe the president, and in the president,” Washington Post, August 10, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/08/10/i-still-believe-president-president/

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/

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

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

This ‘lesser of two evils’ thing just ain’t working like it used to

Updates

  1. Originally published, June 14, 10:00 pm.
  2. June 15, 7:16 am:
    • Even my loyal readers hadn’t read my most recent blog post and I realized the argument could be made stronger. I have revised it and changed the publication date. This affects the URL. It has been updated here.
  3. June 15, 9:50 am:
    • There has been yet another police shooting of yet another Black man.[1] That blog post has been revised further.

Horse race

It would seem that some folks just aren’t buying into the whole concept of “lesser of two evils” anymore.[2] That’s probably a bigger problem for Democrats than it is Republicans. They were warned. I warned them[3] but they were also warned by a whole bunch of people besides me all this year.

But of course, that assumes the Democrats even want to win. Which, to me, isn’t at all clear.[4]

Cleve R. Wootson, Jr., “New generation of activists, deeply skeptical of Democratic Party, resists calls to channel energy into the 2020 campaign,” Washington Post, June 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/new-generation-of-activists-deeply-skeptical-of-democratic-party-resists-calls-to-channel-energy-into-the-2020-campaign/2020/06/13/cbacede6-ac47-11ea-9063-e69bd6520940_story.html


Police

There is a new blog post entitled, “Defunding the police is, at best, a baby’s first step.”

Amanda Arnold, “What Exactly Does It Mean to Defund the Police?” Cut, June 12, 2020, https://www.thecut.com/2020/06/what-does-defund-the-police-mean-the-phrase-explained.html

Theresa Waldrop et al., “Autopsy report says Rayshard Brooks was shot twice in the back, lists manner of death as homicide,” CNN, June 14, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/14/us/atlanta-protests-rayshard-brooks-sunday/index.html

Felicia Sonmez et al., “Killing of black man in Atlanta puts spotlight anew on police, as prosecutors contemplate charges against officer,” Washington Post, June 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/killing-of-black-man-in-atlanta-puts-spotlight-anew-on-police-as-prosecutors-contemplate-charges-against-officer/2020/06/14/ad9cea20-ae60-11ea-856d-5054296735e5_story.html


Recession

Olivia Rockeman and Jill Ward, “Millions of Job Losses Are at Risk of Becoming Permanent,” Bloomberg, June 14, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-06-14/millions-of-jobs-could-be-permanently-lost-in-reallocation-shock


  1. [1]Felicia Sonmez et al., “Killing of black man in Atlanta puts spotlight anew on police, as prosecutors contemplate charges against officer,” Washington Post, June 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/killing-of-black-man-in-atlanta-puts-spotlight-anew-on-police-as-prosecutors-contemplate-charges-against-officer/2020/06/14/ad9cea20-ae60-11ea-856d-5054296735e5_story.html; Theresa Waldrop et al., “Autopsy report says Rayshard Brooks was shot twice in the back, lists manner of death as homicide,” CNN, June 14, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/14/us/atlanta-protests-rayshard-brooks-sunday/index.html
  2. [2]Cleve R. Wootson, Jr., “New generation of activists, deeply skeptical of Democratic Party, resists calls to channel energy into the 2020 campaign,” Washington Post, June 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/new-generation-of-activists-deeply-skeptical-of-democratic-party-resists-calls-to-channel-energy-into-the-2020-campaign/2020/06/13/cbacede6-ac47-11ea-9063-e69bd6520940_story.html
  3. [3]David Benfell, “A false dichotomy view of politics,” Not Housebroken, November 2, 2016, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/05/15/the-lesser-of-two-evils-the-more-successful-con-artist/; David Benfell, “The lesser of two evils? The more successful con artist,” Not Housebroken, May 15, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/05/15/the-lesser-of-two-evils-the-more-successful-con-artist/; David Benfell, “How the neoliberal (usually known as Democratic) party may well lose in 2020,” Not Housebroken, December 7, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/07/how-the-neoliberal-usually-known-as-democratic-party-may-well-lose-in-2020/
  4. [4]David Benfell, “The limits of game theory in U.S. politics,” Not Housebroken, December 20, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/20/the-limits-of-game-theory-in-u-s-politics/