Catching up

Updates

  1. Originally published, September 19, 2020, at 11:17 am.
  2. September 19, 3:27 pm:
    • I fixed those page links, I think. It seems the WordPress export/import function failed to replicate the setting for permalinks on Not Housebroken. All I probably really had to do was turn that back on. But I updated the pages, so hopefully those are right now.

So I’m catching up. The transition to new hosting was not without its scary moments but it seems my host has been to Hogwarts. His database magic is good. It does appear some page links have been broken, so I have a bit more work to do, which I’ll get to, hopefully tonight.


Pennsylvania

Jamie Martines and Paula Reed Ward, “Why the ruling against Wolf’s covid-19 restrictions faces long odds on appeal, explained,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 17, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/why-the-ruling-against-wolfs-covid-19-restrictions-faces-long-odds-on-appeal-explained/

Meghan Schiller, “Pitt Researcher: Wolf Administration’s Pandemic Restrictions Saved ‘Many, Many Thousands Of Lives,’” KDKA, September 17, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/09/17/pittsburgh-researcher-gov-tom-wolf-pandemic-restrictions-saved-lives/


Allegheny County

Paula Reed Ward, “Brentwood restaurant defies order to close for covid-19 violations, faces court action,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 18, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/brentwood-restaurant-defies-order-to-close-for-covid-19-violations-faces-court-action/


Migrants

Tina Vasquez, “Immigrants allege mistreatment by Georgia doctor and whistleblower,” Prism, September 17, 2020, https://www.prismreports.org/article/2020/9/17/immigrants-allege-mistreatment-by-georgia-doctor-and-whistleblower/


Higher Education

Francie Diep, “More Colleges Are Responding to Covid-19 Surges With 2-Week Quarantines. Do They Work?” Chronicle of Higher Education, September 17, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/more-colleges-are-responding-to-covid-19-surges-with-2-week-quarantines-do-they-work


Supreme Court

Robert Barnes and Michael A. Fletcher, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court justice and legal pioneer for gender equality, dies at 87,” Washington Post, September 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/ruth-bader-ginsburg-dies/2020/09/18/3cedc314-fa08-11ea-a275-1a2c2d36e1f1_story.html

Clare Foran, Manu Raju, and Ted Barrett, “McConnell vows Trump’s nominee to replace Ginsburg will get Senate vote, setting up historic fight,” CNN, September 19, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/18/politics/congress-fight-rgb-seat/index.html


A bumper sticker of hate

wp-1598373513760.jpg
Fig. 1. Photograph by author, August 25, 2020.

What kind of an asshole puts a bumper sticker like this (figure 1) on the back of their car? I take that question on in a new blog post entitled, “The Donald Trump supporters’ campaign message: Fuck Your Feelings.”


Tropical Storms

eusgm
Fig. 2. 72-hour gif of satellite imagery for the eastern U.S. and Gulf of Mexico, as of August 26, 2020 at 8:01 am EDT.

Laura now appears to be setting its own course (figure 2) and may graze both the Louisiana coast and the extreme eastern Texas coast.


Guillotines are seeming rather attractive right now

Updates

  1. Originally published, August 15, 2020, at 9:03 am.
  2. August 15, 10:59 am:

Pittsburgh

The text originally here has been reworked into a new blog entry entitled, “Blaming the victims, capitalist-style.”

I generally oppose violence but my god, with mother-fuckers like these capitalists, and a system that actively enables rather than restrains them, what are you supposed to do?

Nick Matoney, “Restaurant revolution: Some owners in Pennsylvania plan to expand capacity despite mandate,” WTAE, August 14, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/restaurant-revolution-some-owners-in-pennsylvania-plan-to-expand-capacity-despite-mandate/33602662

Teghan Simonton, “Braddock restaurant owner apologizes for comparing Gov. Wolf, Levine to Nazis,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, August 14, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/braddock-restaurant-owner-apologizes-for-comparing-gov-wolf-levine-to-nazis/


Donald Trump

Salvador Rizzo, “Trump promotes false claim that Harris might not be a natural-born U.S. citizen,” Washington Post, August 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/08/13/trump-falsely-claims-harris-might-not-be-us-citizen/


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/

Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Economic Bill of Rights and a slight revision to my simple definition of fascism

Pandemic

Megan Guza, “Beaver County among 12 more moving to Pennsylvania’s yellow phase,” TribLive, May 15, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/regional/beaver-county-among-12-more-moving-to-pennsylvanias-yellow-phase/


Fascism

There is a rather substantive update to “A simple definition of fascism.” The change to the definition itself is almost, but not quite, trivial, and I draw it from the State of the Union Address in which Franklin Delano Roosevelt laid out his Economic Bill of Rights.[1] The relevant portion of that speech is worth excerpting:

It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth- is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our Nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.

One of the great American industrialists of our day—a man who has rendered yeoman service to his country in this crisis-recently emphasized the grave dangers of “rightist reaction” in this Nation. All clear-thinking businessmen share his concern. Indeed, if such reaction should develop—if history were to repeat itself and we were to return to the so-called “normalcy” of the 1920’s—then it is certain that even though we shall have conquered our enemies on the battlefields abroad, we shall have yielded to the spirit of Fascism here at home.[2]

For those whom Roosevelt is yet one more name in a fog of history, Roosevelt got us into World War II, against Nazi Germany, Italy, and Japan, immediately following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. This is the war to which he refers. And “the so-called ‘normalcy’ of the 1920’s” precedes the New Deal which has been eviscerated under neoliberalism. Charles Reich wrote of the capitalist libertarian impulse that became neoliberalism once in power:

Every step the New Deal took encountered the massive, bitter opposition of Consciousness I people. They found their world changing beyond recognition, and instead of blaming the primary forces behind that change, they blamed the efforts at solving problems. They totally lacked the sophistication necessary to see that a measure such as the Wagner Act might be redressing an existing oppression rather than creating oppression. The businessmen who were the most vocal in their opposition had a pathological hatred of the New Deal, a hatred so intense and personal as to defy analysis. Why this hatred, when the New Deal, in retrospect, seems to have saved the capitalist system? Perhaps because the New Deal intruded irrevocably upon their make-believe, problem-free world in which the pursuit of business gain and self-interest was imagined to be automatically beneficial to all of mankind, requiring of them no additional responsibility whatever. In any event, there was a large and politically powerful number of Americans who never accepted the New Deal even when it benefited them, and used their power whenever they could to cut it back.[3]

In Roosevelt’s day, this opposition was so extreme as to lead to an attempt to organize a coup against him.[4] It is also worth noting that the International Covenant of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, adopted and, to this day, ratified by all but a very small number of countries (the U.S. has signed but not ratified this treaty), in the immediate post-war period goes even further.[5]
The revised definition is this:

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.[6]

The change is in the addition of a single word, classism, to the examples of bigotry listed. The idea really remains the same.


  1. [1]Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “State of the Union Message to Congress, January 11, 1944,” Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, n.d., http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/archives/address_text.html
  2. [2]Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “State of the Union Message to Congress, January 11, 1944,” Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, n.d., http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/archives/address_text.html
  3. [3]Charles A. Reich, The Greening of America (New York: Crown, 1970), 56-57.
  4. [4]George Seldes, 1000 Americans: The Real Rulers of the U.S.A. (New York: Boni and Gaer, 1948; Joshua Tree, CA: Progressive, 2009).
  5. [5]International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, December 16, 1966, United Nations, General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI), https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/cescr.aspx; United Nations, “Ratification Status: International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,” January 15, 2019, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-3&chapter=4&lang=en
  6. [6]David Benfell, “A simple definition of fascism,” Not Housebroken, May 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/06/a-simple-definition-of-fascism/

A backlash in November

It’s pretty hard to summarize the state of the U.S. in a single tweet, but damn, this has gotta be close:


Pandemic

Roche has won Food and Drug Administration approval for an antibody test with what it claims is a much lower false positive rate.[1]

Roche says its test has proven 100% accurate at detecting Covid-19 antibodies in the blood, and 99.8% accurate at ruling out the presence of those antibodies. In other words, only two in every 1,000 samples lacking the antibodies would produce a “false positive” result.[2]

It’s still not known how long any immunity such antibodies confer lasts.[3]

Gloria Jackson, as told to Eli Saslow, “‘I apologize to God for feeling this way,’” Washington Post, May 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/05/02/elderly-woman-coronavirus-lonely-expendable/

Denise Roland, “Roche Coronavirus Antibody Test Wins FDA Approval for Emergency Use,” Wall Street Journal, May 3, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/roche-coronavirus-antibody-test-wins-fda-approval-for-emergency-use-11588505019


The neoliberal party

I think this might be the ultimate reason for never again supporting Bernie Sanders:

Bad judgment.


Academia

It just keeps getting worse.

Let’s jump back a few years, in fact, to 2001, the last year I was gainfully employed. I was laid off in April that year.

It was also the year I learned my father had died the year before. He had cut off contact with me—this seems to be quite the thing in my family—and I learned about his death only because his wife, who had been profoundly dependent upon him (she suffered from addiction and depression issues), had killed herself with an opiate (I presume heroin) overdose, and I was still listed as a beneficiary on my father’s employee stock ownership plan. He had disowned me in every other way.

As the story reaches me, my father had come home and had a “discussion” (I very strongly suspect this was an argument) with his wife. She went upstairs to bed (excessive sleep is a symptom of depression). He went downstairs to his car, closed all the doors, and turned on the engine. He died of asphyxiation. Suicide. His wife didn’t handle it well, likely leading to her own demise later that year, leading to his company’s payout dilemma.

My father had never been happy. Not while married to my mother, not while married to his second wife (whose ending I recount above), probably not ever in life. But to me, his suicide left his profoundly dependent wife in a terrible state. In that act, he repudiated the values of accountability and responsibility he had instilled in me.

It was also a point when I had been laid off in the dot-com crash and was keenly aware that tech companies especially were seeking cheaper labor overseas. I realized that “hard” skills would only be valuable until employers found workers who possessed those skills in cheaper markets.

So when, a couple years later, my father’s company offered me a buyout, I took the money and, among other things, returned to school. I ultimately chose to pursue a program my father would have derided as “basketweaving.” But I figured, if I failed—I considered this highly unlikely—to find work in the meantime, at least I could teach.

I finished my master’s degree just in time for the financial crisis, which devastated academia. I couldn’t even find an adjunct position. And I continued on, ultimately finishing my Ph.D. at the end of 2015, graduating early in 2016.

I still can’t find even an adjunct position or a job of any kind. And academia keeps taking the hits. Musa al-Gharbi’s article[4] covers an important part of the latter saga, a part I was clueless about when I returned to school in 2003 and utterly underestimated when I continued toward my Ph.D.

The 2020 cohort of Ph.D.s is facing a nearly nonexistent job market. But of course, even before the coronavirus pandemic, most graduating Ph.D.s faced bleak prospects. National Science Foundation data suggest that 40 percent of recent Ph.D. graduates had no employment commitments of any kind (not in the private sector, nor as postdocs, nor as contingent or tenure-track faculty). Of those who did get commitments in academe, tenure-track appointments were relatively rare. According to the American Association of University Professors, nearly three-fourths of all teaching jobs today are not tenure-eligible. As a new report by the American Federation of Teachers highlights, these non-tenure-track jobs tend to provide low wages, few benefits, and little job security — with contracts extended or retracted capriciously from semester to semester. Many contingent faculty members, even those working full time, have to rely on government assistance just to make ends meet. Many are also saddled by immense debt, incurred in the hope that a terminal degree would provide a pathway to a stable and well-compensated academic job.[5]

I do not, even for a second, regret my education. But my experience with the job market has been inexcusable.[6]

Musa al-Gharbi, “Universities Run on Disposable Scholars,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 1, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/Universities-Run-on-Disposable/248687


  1. [1]Denise Roland, “Roche Coronavirus Antibody Test Wins FDA Approval for Emergency Use,” Wall Street Journal, May 3, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/roche-coronavirus-antibody-test-wins-fda-approval-for-emergency-use-11588505019
  2. [2]Denise Roland, “Roche Coronavirus Antibody Test Wins FDA Approval for Emergency Use,” Wall Street Journal, May 3, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/roche-coronavirus-antibody-test-wins-fda-approval-for-emergency-use-11588505019
  3. [3]Denise Roland, “Roche Coronavirus Antibody Test Wins FDA Approval for Emergency Use,” Wall Street Journal, May 3, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/roche-coronavirus-antibody-test-wins-fda-approval-for-emergency-use-11588505019
  4. [4]Musa al-Gharbi, “Universities Run on Disposable Scholars,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 1, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/Universities-Run-on-Disposable/248687
  5. [5]Musa al-Gharbi, “Universities Run on Disposable Scholars,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 1, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/Universities-Run-on-Disposable/248687
  6. [6]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/

And by the way, baptism doesn’t work

Abortion

The good news is that I can offer understanding here. The bad news is that it won’t make you feel better:

The argument is actually a bit more nuanced than this. Anti-choice folks reconcile their position opposing abortion rights and embracing the death penalty—and, I infer, a willingness to sacrifice human life to save the neoliberal economy—with an implicit claim that they’re protecting innocent life.[1] And it’s real clear that once we literally or figuratively pass through the birth canal—the vagina—we can never be “innocent.” Not even with baptism.[2] By this logic, the old, “grandparents,” whom the Texas lieutenant governor suggested will gladly sacrifice themselves[3]—will have been the greatest sinners of all, as our sins accumulate and can never be washed away. Which, yes, absolutely, is still a pretty disgusting position to adopt.

But you weren’t really expecting this to make you feel better, were you?

Isabel Togoh, “Texas Official Suggests ‘Lots’ Of Grandparents Would Be Willing Risk Coronavirus Death To Keep Economy Going,” Forbes, March 24, 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/isabeltogoh/2020/03/24/texas-official-suggests-lots-of-grandparents-would-be-willing-risk-coronavirus-death-to-keep-economy-going/


Coronavirus

So, as the United States risks becoming an epicenter for the COVID-19 pandemic,[4] the Trump administration contemplates loosening restrictions on account of the economy.[5] The trouble is, there’s a real problem with the economy,[6] especially for gig workers[7] and the poor,[8] and it’s unlikely anything coming out of Congress will really address it.[9]

Meanwhile, Tom Wolf’s latest order[10] seems to be having an impact on my business that earlier versions did not.

Reuters, “U.S. has potential of becoming coronavirus epicentre, says WHO,” March 24, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-who-usa/u-s-has-potential-of-becoming-coronavirus-epicentre-says-who-idUSKBN21B1FT


Recession

One of the great clues that the U.S. is not really a Christian country is that even fundamentalists, who claim a literal reading of the Bible, overlook that part about a jubilee, mass debt forgiveness.

Isabel V. Sawhill, “The middle class faces its greatest threat since the 1930s,” Brookings, March 20, 2020,https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/the-middle-class-faces-its-greatest-threat-since-the-1930s/

Michael Hudson, “A debt jubilee is the only way to avoid a depression,” Washington Post, March 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/03/21/debt-jubilee-is-only-way-avoid-depression/


  1. [1]George Lakoff, Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2002).
  2. [2]David Benfell, “The connection between ‘original sin,’ misogyny, and white supremacism,” Not Housebroken, November 25, 2018, https://disunitedstates.org/2018/11/25/the-connection-between-original-sin-misogyny-and-white-supremacism/
  3. [3]Isabel Togoh, “Texas Official Suggests ‘Lots’ Of Grandparents Would Be Willing Risk Coronavirus Death To Keep Economy Going,” Forbes, March 24, 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/isabeltogoh/2020/03/24/texas-official-suggests-lots-of-grandparents-would-be-willing-risk-coronavirus-death-to-keep-economy-going/
  4. [4]Reuters, “U.S. has potential of becoming coronavirus epicentre, says WHO,” March 24, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-who-usa/u-s-has-potential-of-becoming-coronavirus-epicentre-says-who-idUSKBN21B1FT
  5. [5]Adam Cancryn and Nancy Cook, “Health officials want Trump to ‘double down, not lighten up’ restrictions,” Politico, March 23, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/23/coronavirus-economy-trump-restart-145222
  6. [6]Adam Cancryn and Nancy Cook, “Health officials want Trump to ‘double down, not lighten up’ restrictions,” Politico, March 23, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/23/coronavirus-economy-trump-restart-145222; Ben White, “Great Depression 2? Worries about a coronavirus-induced calamity pile up,” Politico, March 23, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/23/great-depression-coronavirus-induced-calamity-145304
  7. [7]Funda Ustek-Spilda et al., “The untenable luxury of self-isolation,” New Internationalist, March 18, 2020, https://newint.org/features/2020/03/18/untenable-luxury-self-isolation
  8. [8]Kim Hart, “The coronavirus economy will devastate those who can least afford it,” Axios, March 23, 2020, https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-economy-layoffs-children-families-bad-d588cc93-ff26-4031-8be8-5654cce05a15.html
  9. [9]David Benfell, “Josef Stalin’s purges might not look so bad,” Irregular Bullshit, March 24, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/03/24/josef-stalins-purges-might-not-look-so-bad/
  10. [10]WTAE, “Stay-at-home order to begin tonight for several Pa. counties, including Allegheny,” March 23, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/stay-at-home-order-to-begin-tonight-for-several-pa-counties-including-allegheny/31900786

The surprise that anyone is surprised

There is a new blog post entitled, “A tipping point.”


Michael Bloomberg

I think what I find most surprising is that anyone is surprised by what happened to Michael Bloomberg last night. A close second would be that Elizabeth Warren was so disproportionately a heavy hitter in the attack.[1]

Amy Davidson Sorkin, “A Very Bad Night For Michael Bloomberg in a Chaotic Democratic Debate,” New Yorker, February 20, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/a-very-bad-night-for-michael-bloomberg-in-a-chaotic-democratic-debate


Roger Stone

Jennifer Rubin praises U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s sentencing of Roger Stone effusively,[2] but neglects that the sentence Jackson handed down fell within the range specified in the Department of Justice’s revised recommendation.[3]

Jennifer Rubin, “Roger Stone’s sentencing shows what the ‘rule of law’ is all about,” Washington Post, February 20, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/20/roger-stones-sentencing-shows-what-rule-law-is-all-about/

Paul Waldman, “Roger Stone just got 40 months. Get ready for what Trump will do next,” Washington Post, February 20, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/20/roger-stone-just-got-40-months-get-ready-what-trump-will-do-next/

Rachel Weiner et al., “Roger Stone sentenced to three years and four months in prison, as Trump predicts ‘exoneration’ for his friend,” Washington Post, February 20, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/roger-stone-sentence-due-thursday-in-federal-court/2020/02/19/2e01bfc8-4c38-11ea-9b5c-eac5b16dafaa_story.html


  1. [1]Amy Davidson Sorkin, “A Very Bad Night For Michael Bloomberg in a Chaotic Democratic Debate,” New Yorker, February 20, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/a-very-bad-night-for-michael-bloomberg-in-a-chaotic-democratic-debate
  2. [2]Jennifer Rubin, “Roger Stone’s sentencing shows what the ‘rule of law’ is all about,” Washington Post, February 20, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/20/roger-stones-sentencing-shows-what-rule-law-is-all-about/
  3. [3]Rachel Weiner et al., “Roger Stone sentenced to three years and four months in prison, as Trump predicts ‘exoneration’ for his friend,” Washington Post, February 20, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/roger-stone-sentence-due-thursday-in-federal-court/2020/02/19/2e01bfc8-4c38-11ea-9b5c-eac5b16dafaa_story.html

A billionaire likely loser

Michael Bloomberg

It might not be cold enough in Hell for a snowball, but it’s still a pretty cold day there when I’m reading Ross Douthat (if you’re being a smartass, it was 36° here in Baldwin Borough). That said, here’s Glenn Greenwald, whom I have a little more respect for:

Greenwald is right. This[1] is a very smart column.

[Michael] Bloomberg has adapted his policy views to better fit the current liberal consensus, and his views on social issues were liberal to begin with. But he has the record of a deficit and foreign policy hawk, the soul of a Wall Street centrist, and a history of racial and religious profiling and sexist misbehavior. More than any other contender, his nomination would pull the party back toward where it stood before the rise of Bernie Sanders and Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, and root liberalism once more in professional-class interests and a Washington-Wall Street mindmeld.[2]

Douthat also points to how as mayor of New York City, Bloomberg accomplished what Donald Trump can only aspire to as president and is thus, potentially, even more dangerous, concluding that his victory would amount to “[a]n exchange of Trumpian black comedy for oligarchy’s velvet fist.” Douthat does not think Bloomberg can win.[3]

I don’t believe it either. Even if Bloomberg were to win the Democratic nomination, he would be an elitist—a New York City mayor, for crying out loud—to authoritarian populists, would fail to advance a social conservative agenda, and would be a billionaire to the Left. He would rely on votes from a mythical “center,” but truth be told, on some level, pretty much everyone knows, on some level, that it was Wall Street that precipitated the 2007-2008 financial crisis. And everyone knows, on some level, that the bankers got away with fraud and are now even richer than before. Then there’s Charles Blow:

One of the lessons I’ve taken from talking with Blacks since arriving here in Pittsburgh is that to live with the incredible racism here[4] and yet still to function requires one of two responses: Either, as I think most Blacks do, one adopts a suspension of disbelief, or as some Blacks do, one buys into “respectability.” Bloomberg is relying on the latter, which Bill Cosby made himself the face of.[5] Cosby has since been convicted of sexual assault and labeled a “sexually violent predator” by a judge, requiring him to register as a sex offender for life.[6] I’m pretty sure that only gets you so far.

Ross Douthat, “The Bloomberg Temptation,” New York Times, February 15, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/15/opinion/bloomberg-trump-2020.html


  1. [1]Ross Douthat, “The Bloomberg Temptation,” New York Times, February 15, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/15/opinion/bloomberg-trump-2020.html
  2. [2]Ross Douthat, “The Bloomberg Temptation,” New York Times, February 15, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/15/opinion/bloomberg-trump-2020.html
  3. [3]Ross Douthat, “The Bloomberg Temptation,” New York Times, February 15, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/15/opinion/bloomberg-trump-2020.html
  4. [4]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; 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
  5. [5]Associated Press, “Cosby berates blacks for abuse, failure as parents,” NBC News, July 2, 2004, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/5345290/ns/us_news-life/t/cosby-berates-blacks-abuse-failure-parents/
  6. [6]British Broadcasting Corporation, “Bill Cosby sentenced to state prison for sexual assault,” September 26, 2018, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-45644374; Manuel Roig-Franzia, “Bill Cosby sentenced to 3 to 10 years in state prison,” Washington Post, September 25, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/bill-cosby-sentenced-to-3-to-10-years-in-state-prison/2018/09/25/9aa620aa-c00d-11e8-90c9-23f963eea204_story.html

The Equal Rights Amendment is likely dead. At Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s hand.

Equal Rights Amendment

Ruth Bader Ginsburg would like to see the Equal Rights Amendment get a fresh start.[1] With the strong qualification that the lawsuits surrounding the ratification process[2] have not yet reached the Supreme Court, this is likely a death knell for the amendment.[3]

I have updated my relevant blog post entitled, “Equal Rights for women in the U.S. Maybe. Someday.

Ian Millhiser, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg probably just dealt a fatal blow to the Equal Rights Amendment,” Vox, February 11, 2020, https://www.vox.com/2020/2/11/21133029/ruth-bader-ginsburg-equal-rights-amendment-supreme-court


Darfur

The Sudanese government and rebels have agreed to hand over suspects wanted by the International Criminal Court, a top official said. The ICC wants former President Omar al-Bashir, but the army opposes his extradition. . . .

The Hague-based ICC wants al-Bashir on war crimes and genocide charges related to the Darfur conflict in the 2000s that killed hundreds of thousands of people through war and starvation. The first warrant against him was issued in 2009, while he was still in office, followed by a second in 2010.[4]

An issue I recall being raised while Omar al-Bashir was still in power was a perception that the International Criminal Court only prosecuted suspects from developing countries. This casts the Court in the role of a colonizer and makes Barack Obama’s 1) refusal to prosecute Bush administration war crimes, and 2) embrace and extension of those policies all the more outrageous.

Jason Burke and Zeinab Mohammed Salih, “Sudan signals it may send former dictator Omar al-Bashir to ICC,” Guardian, February 11, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/11/sudan-says-it-will-send-former-dictator-omar-al-bashir-to-icc

Deutschewelle, “Sudan ex-leader Omar al-Bashir headed to International Criminal Court?” February 11, 2020, https://www.dw.com/en/sudan-ex-leader-omar-al-bashir-headed-to-international-criminal-court/a-52339639


  1. [1]Ian Millhiser, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg probably just dealt a fatal blow to the Equal Rights Amendment,” Vox, February 11, 2020, https://www.vox.com/2020/2/11/21133029/ruth-bader-ginsburg-equal-rights-amendment-supreme-court
  2. [2]Patricia Sullivan, “Herring, other attorneys general file lawsuit demanding ERA ratification,” Washington Post, January 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/era-lawsuit-herring/2020/01/30/027eb956-42dc-11ea-aa6a-083d01b3ed18_story.html
  3. [3]Ian Millhiser, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg probably just dealt a fatal blow to the Equal Rights Amendment,” Vox, February 11, 2020, https://www.vox.com/2020/2/11/21133029/ruth-bader-ginsburg-equal-rights-amendment-supreme-court
  4. [4]Deutschewelle, “Sudan ex-leader Omar al-Bashir headed to International Criminal Court?” February 11, 2020, https://www.dw.com/en/sudan-ex-leader-omar-al-bashir-headed-to-international-criminal-court/a-52339639