The fracking jobs lie (Update #4)

Updates

  1. Originally published, April 6, 2021, 8:41 pm.

  2. April 7, 2021, 6:33 am:

    • The San Francisco Unified School District has officially suspended[1] its decision to rename schools that was, in many cases, based on historical inaacuracies,[2] after earlier having ‘paused’ it and promising to, you know, maybe actually listen to historians in the future.[3]

      The episode remains troubling and not just because it made the district a caricature for right-wing attacks,[4] but because it reflects a self-righteousness that outweighed attention to detail and accuracy. Such would be troubling in any context, but is especially so in institutions tasked with instructing the young.[5]

      It came on the heels of a decision to cover up a mural at my old high school that in fact depicted George Washington in an unflattering light, but was being interpreted as oppressive for its depiction of oppression,[6] a decision I regret but am compelled to support.[7]

      The district also attracted attention when old tweets from its then-vice president came to light that singled out Asian-Amerikkkans for charges of racism against Blacks,[8] but this to me reveals a citywide political establishment bent on denying its own racism, whether systemic or otherwise.[9]

    • After a lot of back and forth due to Uber support’s extreme reliance on canned messages that don’t actually respond to messages I send, my car is back to being enabled on the platform. I cannot condemn what happened here strongly enough. They were unwilling to accept a PDF I had sent, but wouldn’t say that they would not accept a PDF, and they never properly explained why, though I surmise that their messaging system was somehow filtering it out. They repeatedly referred to the breakdown as if it were a collision when it was just a breakdown. I don’t believe I have ever before seen in a support team the degree of unprofessionalism, unresponsiveness, and incompetence I saw last night.

  3. April 7, 2021, 8:09 am:

    • Seven thousand Blacks left the City of Pittsburgh between 2014 and 2018, allegedly due to gentrification. Others say, no, this was not gentrification, but due to blight and crime, and only Lawrenceville has a problem with gentrification.[10]

      I wasn’t present for this, but with so much housing in and around Pittsburgh in a blighted condition,[11] it’s not easy to simply rule out that people may have moved of their own accord.

      People are pointing to the Penn Plaza Apartments, which were demolished to make way for, among other things, a Whole Foods Market. 200 people lost their homes,[12] which the developer promised to replace with new low-income housing.[13] The problem here is fairly obvious: What were those 200 people supposed to do in the meantime? Indeed, what did they do?

      But also, 200 doesn’t explain 7,000, and to deny a more widespread problem with gentrification seems disingenuous.[14]

      Finally, the problem of gentrification isn’t simply numeric. It’s also about neighbors who are no longer present, isolating people left behind in communities that seem to me to be tight-knit. There’s damage here and while it doesn’t do to simply leave people to languish in the abysmal housing I see all around Pittsburgh, redevelopment needs to be thoughtful.

  4. April 7, 2021, 10:43 pm:

    • The Santa Rosa Press Democrat has more on the San Francisco school renaming debacle. A piece I hadn’t caught in previous coverage: “San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman issued a ruling calling on the Board of Education to do what the lawsuit [filed in March by San Francisco attorney Paul Scott, whose children attend public schools] requests — rescind the vote and dissolve the renaming advisory committee — or show by April 16 why it shouldn’t be compelled to do so.” It is unclear whether the board complied with the part about dissolving the renaming committee or will, in the future, comply with California’s open meeting law.[15]

    • I think it was just the other day I noticed a green hue to many of the trees that had shed their leaves for winter and gone totally brown. Today, flowering trees and shrubs are flowering and there is a bright green on many, not all, but many trees. It’s springtime in Pittsburgh.


Fossil fuels

One of the mysteries I’ve encountered since arriving in Pittsburgh has been about alleged fracking jobs. I see political campaign postcards that claim the Democrats want to eliminate all these jobs. Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, a Democrat running for the U.S. Senate, says, “We can’t just throw [out] all of these union jobs and all these workers’ jobs and say, ‘Well, just go learn to code and maybe you can get on at Google or someplace.’”[16]

But I don’t see those jobs. As an Uber/Lyft driver, I don’t take anyone to or from their fracking job. I don’t see any hiring for the fracking industry. In fact, I see zero evidence these jobs even exist.

And indeed, fracking hardly seems to be the savior of the Ohio Valley economy its advocates pretend.[17] But while politicians and oil company executives pretend, Kate Aronoff points to a history and present of job-killing.[18]

Kate Aronoff, “Fossil Fuel Companies Are Job Killers,” New Republic, April 5, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/161937/fossil-fuel-companies-job-killers


White supremacy

There is a new blog post entitled, “Hate, Pittsburgh Style.”

Nan Levinson, “The Far Right in Uniform,” TomDispatch, April 6, 2021, https://tomdispatch.com/the-far-right-in-uniform/


So the windshield guy looked at my windshield. And couldn’t find a leak. He says he’s 100 percent positive. Which left me in something of a quandary as what to do next.

I called the dealer back and the service writer assured me that they had covered the site over and applied some substance—I believe one of the words was ‘dielectric’—that would prevent a recurrence of the corrosion, that I should be good to go.

Whether this will prove sufficient for Uber, which requires proof of repair, remains to be seen. It would help enormously if they’d get rid of the fools they have working support who do absolutely nothing but return replies like the one in figure 1 all day:

Fig. 1. An all-too-common response from Uber support. Screenshot by author, April 6, 2021.

I had already explained the situation. These assholes barely look at the most recent message, if even that.


  1. [1]Faith E. Pinho, “San Francisco board halts renaming of public schools after months of furor and debate,” Los Angeles Times, April 6, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-04-06/san-francisco-school-board-suspends-renaming-public-schools
  2. [2]Isaac Chotiner, “How San Francisco Renamed Its Schools,” New Yorker, February 6, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/how-san-francisco-renamed-its-schools; Fernando Martinez, “San Francisco school board considers renaming a school after the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia,” SFGate, January 29, 2021, https://www.sfgate.com/sf-culture/article/San-Francisco-School-Board-considers-renaming-a-15909103.php
  3. [3]Greg Keraghosian, “SF school board pauses renaming 44 schools, promises to consult historians in future,” SFGate, February 21, 2021, https://www.sfgate.com/local/article/SF-school-board-pauses-renaming-44-schools-15968504.php
  4. [4]Faith E. Pinho, “San Francisco board halts renaming of public schools after months of furor and debate,” Los Angeles Times, April 6, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-04-06/san-francisco-school-board-suspends-renaming-public-schools
  5. [5]David Benfell, “It’s fine to highlight other people. But don’t cite historical falsehoods when you do,” Not Housebroken, February 21, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/02/06/its-fine-to-highlight-other-people-but-dont-cite-historical-falsehoods-when-you-do/
  6. [6]Karin Klein, “At first, it looked like censorship. But covering up controversial mural makes sense,” Sacramento Bee, July 20, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/california-forum/article232846267.html; Carol Pogash, “San Francisco School Board May Save Controversial George Washington Mural,” New York Times, August 10, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/10/arts/san-francisco-murals.html; Carol Pogash, “San Francisco School Board Votes to Hide, but Not Destroy, Disputed Murals,” New York Times, August 14, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/14/arts/san-francisco-murals-george-washington.html
  7. [7]David Benfell, “A non-conformist mural and a non-conformist kid: Why the mural still must be covered up,” Not Housebroken, April 14, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/14/a-non-conformist-mural-and-a-non-conformist-kid-why-the-mural-still-must-be-covered-up/
  8. [8]Jill Tucker, “Mayor Breed calls for S.F. school board member to resign over racist tweets directed at Asian Americans,” San Francisco Chronicle, March 21, 2021, https://www.sfchronicle.com/education/article/Mayor-Breed-calls-for-S-F-school-board-member-to-16040970.php
  9. [9]David Benfell, “San Francisco’s political establishment doth protest too much,” Not Housebroken, March 22, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/03/22/san-franciscos-political-establishment-doth-protest-too-much/
  10. [10]Tom Davidson, “Is there a crisis of ‘forced mass displacement’ of Black Pittsburghers? Residents, council divided on answer,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 6, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/is-there-a-crisis-of-forced-mass-displacement-of-black-pittsburghers-residents-council-divided-on-answer/
  11. [11]David Benfell, “Market homelessness,” Not Housebroken, January 1, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/01/01/market-homelessness/
  12. [12]Tom Davidson, “Is there a crisis of ‘forced mass displacement’ of Black Pittsburghers? Residents, council divided on answer,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 6, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/is-there-a-crisis-of-forced-mass-displacement-of-black-pittsburghers-residents-council-divided-on-answer/
  13. [13]Bob Bauder, “Pittsburgh settles court battle over Penn Plaza Apartments,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 27, 2017, https://archive.triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/pittsburgh-settles-court-battle-over-penn-plaza-apartments/
  14. [14]Ryan Deto, “Pittsburgh is one of the most gentrified cities in the U.S.,” Pittsburgh City Paper, April 4, 2019, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/pittsburgh-is-one-of-the-most-gentrified-cities-in-the-us/Content?oid=14381722; Ryan Deto, “The displacement of Anthony Hardison from his Lawrenceville apartment is a microcosm of a neighborhood epidemic,” Pittsburgh City Paper, January 15, 2020, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/the-displacement-of-anthony-hardison-from-his-lawrenceville-apartment-is-a-microcosm-of-a-neighborhood-epidemic/Content?oid=16556108; Rich Lord, “House hunters: How an anti-blight law has become a tool for ambitious landlords in Allegheny County,” Public Source, November 24, 2020, https://www.publicsource.org/conservatorship-allegheny-county-wilkinsburg-east-liberty-garfield-taiani-chaney-cp-development/
  15. [15]Jocelyn Gecker, “San Francisco school board suspends plan to rename schools,” Santa Rosa Press Democrat, April 7, 2021, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/san-francisco-school-board-to-vote-on-school-renaming-again/
  16. [16]Holly Otterbein, “John Fetterman launches Senate bid in Pennsylvania,” Politico, February 8, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/08/fetterman-senate-pennsylvania-466932
  17. [17]Kate Aronoff, “Fossil Fuel Companies Are Job Killers,” New Republic, April 5, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/161937/fossil-fuel-companies-job-killers; James Bruggers, “A Decade Into the Fracking Boom, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia Haven’t Gained Much, a Study Says,” Inside Climate News, February 11, 2021, https://insideclimatenews.org/news/11022021/fracking-boom-natural-gas-report/
  18. [18]Kate Aronoff, “Fossil Fuel Companies Are Job Killers,” New Republic, April 5, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/161937/fossil-fuel-companies-job-killers

A report from Burma (Update #14)

Updates

  1. Originally published, March 28, 2021, 9:20 am

  2. March 28, 2021, 8:17 pm:

    • My car has reached the end of its road.

      Despite my fury at being stuck driving for Uber and Lyft (see original text below), I was driving again today, when the engine died. The console displayed “Check Hybrid System” and “Check VSC System.”

      These indications have been a recurring problem. By the time the dealer looks at the car, they’ve disappeared without a trace. And they don’t recur for several thousand utterly unpredictable miles.

      The last time this happened, I speculatively had a relay replaced. It was the cheapest of three possible causes of the problem. That was last July (2020) and I figured I was in luck, that this had fixed the problem.

      But today, it was back. I called a tow truck and had the car towed. But when we got to the Toyota dealer, who would have to deal with this sort of thing, the indications had cleared, suggesting that we were back in the situation where, yet again, the dealer wouldn’t be able to reproduce the problem.

      So I tried going back out, on the theory it would be several thousand miles until the next failure. No such luck. It failed again, with a passenger in the car this time.

      It was all I could do to get it home. I have removed all my belongings from it. My plan now is to junk it tomorrow, one way or another.

      When I look at my spreadsheet and I look at the amount above average in vehicle costs in the time (since I started working for Lyft and Uber in 2016) over 2020 and 2021, the total is $7,642.85. I very nearly could have bought another used car from my dealer in Rohnert Park, California, for that amount.

      That average includes the time driving in Pittsburgh, with its abysmal roads, so the excess since the beginning of 2020 is likely underestimated. But the excess also includes the damage from those roads, damage I hope to mitigate with a future, larger vehicle that will be better able to absorb the punishment.

      I will have to think hard about whether that vehicle will be another hybrid. Much as I like Toyota’s hybrid system—and I really do like it—the only mechanics around Pittsburgh who can work on hybrid systems are dealers, with whom my experience has not been great.

      Although the thought of letting Pittsburgh, especially the people here, destroy another vehicle is not even in the slightest bit enticing.

      I am hating this life. Every last bit of it.

  3. March 29, 2021, 1:13 pm:

    • Lindsey Graham says he “needs his own AR-15 . . . in case disaster strikes and he needs to defend his home against a roving ‘gang.’”[1] There is a new blog post entitled, “The thin logic of gun nuttery.”

    • So I woke up this morning and I ran some numbers. It turns out that for all the mileage (about 1,200) I put on a car in a week, I can rent a car through Uber’s deal with Hertz or Avis nearly as cheaply.

      Perhaps I missed a merger, but at least in Pittsburgh, it very much appears that Avis and Budget share locations, and the last time I rented a car through Budget, they charged me $600 too much. I’m not doing that again and I’m not trusting Avis to be separate enough from Budget. So it’s Hertz for me.

      But after accepting a reservation, and after I’d already gotten into an Uber to get clear across town to the one location that deals with Uber, I got a phone call from that location. They don’t have cars available.

      This isn’t just this location or this company. Probably any Uber or Lyft driver around Pittsburgh can tell you a story of ferrying passengers around trying to hook up with a rental car. After the company has accepted the reservation for a nonexistent car. As near as I can tell, this is because, for unknown reasons, all rental car companies in Pittsburgh hoard all their cars at the airport. Which isn’t the location that deals with Uber.

  4. March 29, 2021, 3:06 pm:

    • The universe is screaming at me that this plan doesn’t work.

      The only suggestions I have involve compromise. My god. All I have done my entire life is compromise. Because it was all I could see to do. And look where it’s gotten me. Right where I am.

      Is it really asking so much that there should be a plan that makes some kind of fucking sense? That might actually work?

      • You know, instead of let’s just see how much more the capitalists can exploit me and treat me worse than shit. Even with a Ph.D.

      • You know, instead of let’s just see how many more seven day weeks I can tolerate with no life, no hope of a life, because I’m working all the time, trying to keep the wolves at bay.

      • You know, instead of letting Pittsburgh roads and Pittsburgh people destroy yet another car so I can go on not even making minimum wage, let alone a living wage. Oh, but still owing taxes.

      • You know, instead of having nothing for when I’m too old and decrepit to keep working but working seven days a week until that happens. Oh, and then ending up homeless because I have, well, nothing.

      Yeah, I think there really needs to be a better plan than this. But people have been ignoring me, ignoring my job applications, ignoring my humanity for twenty years, even as I returned to school, finished a B.A., an M.A., and a Ph.D. It’s not their problem, they say. It’s never anybody’s problem.

      Just keep doing some flavor of what doesn’t work, they say. It doesn’t even remotely begin to make even a shard of sense, but keep fucking doing it.

      I’ll be 62 years old on April 29. I’m running out of time. So, sorry, but yes, I need a much better fucking plan than this.

  5. March 29, 2021, 3:52 pm:

    • The Crack’d Egg is back at it, trying yet again to open without complying with COVID-19 mitigation measures,[2] after having initially remaining open and flaunting their refusal to comply,[3] trying and failing to evade the orders with a bankruptcy filing,[4] closing rather than complying with the rules,[5] trying and finally failing to get an injunction against the order to comply with the rules.[6] At some point, you kinda have to think surely they’ll win at least one ruling. But it hasn’t happened yet.

  6. March 30, 2021, 1:37 am:

    • Because the COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been so uneven around the globe, in part due to drug manufacturers’ insistence on preserving their intellectual property ‘rights,’[7] new, deadlier, and more contagious variants of the novel coronavirus will require new vaccines within a year.[8] This is apparently without even considering vaccine hesitancy in countries that have access to the vaccine.[9]

  7. March 30, 2021, 1:16 pm:

    • I have decided, after all, and very much at the risk of throwing good money after bad, decided to repair my car. It has a great sound system. A lot of the damage from Pittsburgh roads has recently been repaired. Hell, I just got it through its annual inspection.

      My intention, however, is not to return it to service driving for Uber and Lyft. This was something I never wanted to do to it in the first place. But did because I can’t find a fucking job.[10]

      So there are two immediate parts to this plan:

      • Get the car to Rohrich Toyota and let them fix it. I got it there. It still has the “check hybrid system” indication so they should be able to read a code. Hopefully they can fix it, however many thousands of dollars that will cost.

      • Rent a car through Uber at a discount rate that (see update from March 28, 2021, at 8:17 pm) appears comparable to the cost of operating my car but where somebody else absorbs much of the risk.

        This part ain’t going so well. There was the initial failure yesterday (see update from March 29, 2021, at 1:18 pm) that so far appears to be a repeat today (figure 1).


        Fig. 1. Screenshot of Twitter message to Hertz Car Rental, March 30, 2021, by author.

    • One of the things I’ve noticed since coming to Pittsburgh is that a lot of people here, including really well-paid people, really don’t seem to understand how to take care of business.

      There’s the Sunoco Oil credit card that I don’t use because I get too many spurious declines with it. There’s Dollar Bank, whose debit card seems similarly, though less severely, stupid. There’s that fiasco I had with AT&T, which is why I’m no longer an AT&T customer.[11] There are the Toyota dealers who’ve repeatedly told me that maintenance was required for things that wouldn’t need it for tens of thousands of miles yet to go.

      Today, I have Rohrich Toyota, whose service writer warns me they may not be able to get to my car until next week because they’re so far backed up. And I have this utter fuck up of a rental car company.

      Now, I know better. This is not how I do business. But here in Pittsburgh, they just say, “It is what it is,” throw their hands up, and refuse to challenge it. You hear it again and again, whether it’s traffic, a stop light, a multitude of road conditions, or something else: “It is what it is.”

      It’s an embrace not just of despair but of incompetence. My father would be on the warpath, probably going nuclear. And I gotta tell you, on this, I think he’d be right.

      And all this, of course, while I not only can’t get a real fucking job, but suffer the abuse of being an Uber and Lyft driver, even with a Ph.D.[12] Are you kidding me? I mean, seriously, this all has to be an incredibly bad joke.

  8. March 30, 2021, 5:40 pm:


    • Fig. 2. Screenshot of Twitter conversation with Hertz Car Rental, March 30, 2021, by author.

      I have found, and others have told me as well, that Twitter is often the very best way to get the attention of an unresponsive corporation. There is the implicit threat that your tweet will go viral. And, at the same time, there are actual humans manning the messaging function, where if you go any other way, you get lost in some phone or website menu system that expects your query to be a frequently asked question and doesn’t respond well when, as nearly always in my case, it isn’t.

      But with Hertz Car Rental, this is moving at a glacial pace.

      Meanwhile, that was a cute little $90 Uber trip to fetch my laundry because I now don’t have a car. (It was probably about $20 for the driver.) I had hoped to pick up the laundry on the way back from picking up the rental car. (And no, I don’t really dare continuing to drive my car with a hybrid system malfunction. That needs to be fixed.)

      Oh, and annoying too. I had a driver who claimed to have researched COVID-19 and conversed with well-credentialed scientists who backed his conspiracy theories.

    • source on threadreaderapp.com
      Archived at 2021-03-30 17:17:24

      Pittsburgh Green Left 🌻🥑 Profile picture

      Pittsburgh Green Left 🌻🥑

      Follow @PghGreenLeft

      30 Mar, 6 tweets, 2 min read

      The more cops try to explain their violence away as “well that was just my training”, the more it opens people’s eyes to the cruelty of the system. I don’t know how these individual cases will go but I think they’re losing the long-term public support the more they push.

      Some of my family is fairly conservative and even a few police in my family. As such some of my family was pretty adamant about how tough it is being an officer & the need to support them. Even they are having second thoughts learning what really goes on in jail & court.

      When the cops start losing the support of my Republican family members, we know there’s a shift going on.

      Cops of course could reverse this trend by toning it down even slightly, but much like capitalism, they are compelled to take it to extremes, always.

      Violent policing IS part of capitalism. The system is inherently violent and repressive. You’re not going to fix that – and the inability of cops to take responsibility for even the most egregious, obvious violence is beginning to open eyes to the nature of this system.

      The fact that politicians can’t help stumbling over themselves to fling even greater amounts of money at the cops – while cutting essential social services and botching a pandemic response – is further evidence that the ultimate power is capitalism, not the electoral system.

      Empires throughout history have made similar mistakes. In the wane of empire, they become paranoid and put all of their resources into “security”. But their safety is now in the hands of thugs who will turn on them, facing an angry population realizing it has always held power.

    • This, of course, will apply only until COVID-19 variants that evade the vaccine begin to spread.[13]

  9. March 30, 2021, 6:29 pm:

    • A quick Google search confirms that Avis and Budget are indeed a single entity, and thus that their coexistence in so many offices around Pittsburgh is no accident.

      I am really, really unhappy about being compelled to go to Avis, which is Uber’s alternative to Hertz. But my god. Hertz really seems to be “lights on, nobody home.” I’m gobsmacked.

  10. March 31, 2021, 10:45 am:

    • In a yet-to-be peer-reviewed study, people who have actually been infected with the novel coronavirus may have a T-cell response to the variants[14] that already seem problematic.[15] This source says nothing about people who have been vaccinated[16] so I guess the prudent thing is to continue to assume new vaccines will still be needed[17] even if vaccine hesitancy[18] and a failure to distribute vaccines globally[19] are overcome.

    • An Uber is on the way to take me to the Avis location. The last time I rented from this location, the car had not been cleaned and smelled of cigarette smoke.

  11. March 31, 2021, 1:14 pm:

    • If before (see update for March 29, 2021, 3:06 pm) I was feeling that the universe was screaming at me that being an Uber/Lyft driver wasn’t working, I am feeling it doubly so, now.

      When I didn’t see rates conforming to what Uber had offered for rental cars on the Avis site, I figured this was a case of bait and switch. But my mother—and I don’t know how she did this without my even telling her my suspicion—found the clue. I had somehow managed not to get a reservation under Uber’s auspices but rather as an ordinary customer.

      Which, it turns out, is why I have a rental car now. A car, by the way, that I’m sure meets Uber’s requirements.

      I got there, hoping to sort all this out, and the man behind the counter said I’d have to make a new reservation and that he didn’t have any “Uber cars” right now. Which, given the sufficiency of the car I got, is to remind me that as an Uber driver, I am a second- or third-class citizen.

      So I took the car I had reserved. I have it for a week. I drove to my mailbox and picked up my mail, then drove home. It beats spending $90 for a round trip to Dormont, of which the driver might have gotten around $20 (see update for March 30, 2021, 5:40 pm), and wondering if I’m even going to be able to get a ride, which is pretty much the state of things for Uber and Lyft passengers these days.

      But I’m sorry. All I’m asking for is a life that makes some kind of sense. I don’t have it. And I can’t make whatever the fuck it is I’ve been doing work anymore. Just can’t.

  12. March 31, 2021, 7:59 pm:

  13. March 31, 2021, 9:12 pm:

  14. April 1, 2021, 7:48 pm:

    • There is a new blog post entitled, “Having trouble getting an Uber? Think about how you’ve been treating your drivers.

    • There is news on my car and it is, overall, much better than expected:

      1. The bad news is that, yet again, they are unable to reproduce the problem. They see a code in the history, so they know it threw one.

      2. The last time this happened, there were three possible causes, so I had them repair the cheapest, on the idea of beginning a process of elimination. Now, there are only two.

      3. It turns out that both remaining possible causes are far cheaper to repair than I had earlier been told. I don’t know why the difference but that’s what they’re telling me today. I’ve told them to proceed with both. Because it’d be nice to kill this problem once and for all, particularly if, as I’m expecting to do early next year, I’m going to drive this car across country and back. I’m expecting the car back tomorrow.

      But the plan to rent a car for Uber and Lyft—much as I hate this gig bullshit, I still have no alternative—remains problematic. It doesn’t appear possible to do it through Avis online. And calling in, I just got the runaround.


Burma

source on threadreaderapp.com

Archived at 2021-03-28 08:15:29

Thread Reader

Dr. Betina Hsieh 謝原真 Profile picture

Dr. Betina Hsieh 謝原真

Follow @ProfHsieh

27 Mar, 8 tweets, 3 min read

Update: I woke up in the middle of the night and saw a message from my sister. As expected, it’s been absolutely brutal. They shot into her house. And are in her street. The military is shooting randomly at any sign of life, trying to scare people into the streets 1/

In the streets, they will be arrested, shot or killed. My sister said someone in her neighborhood was killed and two of her friends were arrested. She is still safe but they are lying on the floor to avoid being seen because the military is still outside in the street. 😢 2/

As of a couple of hours ago over 150 have died just today. I’m sure it’s more now. Please continue to pray for her and her mom, the people and the country as they undergo this terrible violence and humanitarian crisis. 3/

For now, the military has left her street but they warned that they will be back at midnight. At that point, the Internet will be cut off and she won’t be able to give me updates. They have prepared for an emergency as they fear the military will go house-by-house shooting. 4/

They cannot leave the house as the military has said that anyone in the streets between 7pm and 5am will be shot. Their only option is to stay at home with the door locked & hope for the best, listening outside for when the military leaves. 5/

This article provides some analysis of the diplomatic complexities at play: bbc.com/news/amp/world… 6/

My heart is for my family and the #Burmese people. We and they need your prayers and there needs to be international pressure to stop the continuing human rights violations in #Burma #Myanmar This is not an internal affair. #March27Coup

Another article on the “Day of Shame” and the mass killings by the military. The number of dead is in unverified and likely underreported, given what my sister is saying about how they are collecting the bodies of victims: aljazeera.com/news/2021/3/27… 7/

Betina Hsieh, [Twitter thread], Thread Reader App, March 27, 2021, https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1375795649732431874.html


Gun nuttery

Tim Elfrink, “Lindsey Graham says he needs AR-15 for defense: ‘My house will be the last one that the gang will come to,’” Washington Post, March 29, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/03/29/lindsey-graham-ar15-defense-disaster/


Pandemic

Natalie Grover, “New Covid vaccines needed globally within a year, say scientists,” Guardian, March 29, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/30/new-covid-vaccines-needed-within-year-say-scientists

Paula Reed Ward, “Crack’d Egg asks court to allow maskless customers in restaurant,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 29, 2021, https://triblive.com/lifestyles/food-drink/crackd-egg-asks-court-to-allow-maskless-customers-in-restaurant/

Julie Steenhuysen, “T cells induced by COVID-19 infection respond to new virus variants: U.S. study,” Reuters, March 30, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-variants-idUSKBN2BM3BZ

Laurel Wamsley, “Florida Gov. DeSantis Rejects Vaccine Passports As ‘Completely Unacceptable,’” National Public Radio, March 30, 2021, https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2021/03/30/982837517/florida-gov-desantis-rejects-vaccine-passports-as-completely-unacceptable


Yes, I’m throwing a tantrum. I woke up this morning (March 28, 2021) to find my rating on Uber had dropped to 4.87 though Uber still labels me as having “high ratings.” I have to assume the decline is due to my sign (figure 1).

Fig. 1. Sign for Uber and Lyft passengers made by author, March 25, 2021.

It is apparent to me that telling people they shouldn’t hate on each other and themselves is the cause. You will notice that, in the second and most recently added bullet point, I do not specify the terms I object to. But it is also clear that people understand that they shouldn’t drop the n-word or ‘bitch’ or ‘ho’ in my car, because I’ve hardly heard those words since putting this version up. I am flabbergasted.

In terms of employment and the quest for employment, I have borne nothing but insult for five long years since earning my Ph.D. and twenty years since the dot-com crash (my only respite was in academia). I have reached the limits of my tolerance, not only for the bullshit I tolerate with Uber and Lyft, but with low wage work in general.[21] No human should have to tolerate this.

I have to have a way out. Now. No more bullshit. No more excuses. I want, need, and must have a real job,[22] as should be utterly uncontroversial:

The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of just and favourable conditions of work which ensure, in particular:

    (a) Remuneration which provides all workers, as a minimum, with:

      (i) Fair wages and equal remuneration for work of equal value without distinction of any kind, in particular women being guaranteed conditions of work not inferior to those enjoyed by men, with equal pay for equal work;

      (ii) A decent living for themselves and their families in accordance with the provisions of the present Covenant;

    (b) Safe and healthy working conditions;

    (c) Equal opportunity for everyone to be promoted in his employment to an appropriate higher level, subject to no considerations other than those of seniority and competence;

    (d ) Rest, leisure and reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay, as well as remuneration for public holidays[23]

And if I don’t get it, I don’t know what happens, but it won’t be good.

Because this bullshit has to end. There are limits to my endurance. I have retreated and I have compromised as far as I can. I have gone as far as I can go, and I can go no further, tolerate no more.

And if you think I’m being unreasonable, sorry, but that says a helluva lot more about you than it does me.


  1. [1]Tim Elfrink, “Lindsey Graham says he needs AR-15 for defense: ‘My house will be the last one that the gang will come to,’” Washington Post, March 29, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/03/29/lindsey-graham-ar15-defense-disaster/
  2. [2]Paula Reed Ward, “Crack’d Egg asks court to allow maskless customers in restaurant,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 29, 2021, https://triblive.com/lifestyles/food-drink/crackd-egg-asks-court-to-allow-maskless-customers-in-restaurant/
  3. [3]Paula Reed Ward, “Crack’d Egg flouts shutdown as deputies quarantined for dining, taking photos with owner,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 14, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/crackd-egg-flouts-shutdown-as-deputies-quarantined-for-dining-taking-photos-with-owner/
  4. [4]Paula Reed Ward, “Allegheny County argues Crack’d Egg can’t hide from covid restrictions under bankruptcy filing,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 5, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/allegheny-county-argues-crackd-egg-cant-hide-from-covid-restrictions-under-bankruptcy-filing/; Paula Reed Ward, “Judge rules against Crack’d Egg, health department case can proceed,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 7, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-rules-against-crackd-egg-health-department-case-can-proceed/; Paula Reed Ward, “Judge to rule on Crack’d Egg restaurant closure order next week,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 29, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-to-rule-on-crackd-egg-restaurant-closure-order-next-week/; Paula Reed Ward, “Crack’d Egg restaurant asks to withdraw bankruptcy filing,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 2, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/crackd-egg-restaurant-asks-to-withdraw-bankruptcy-filing/
  5. [5]Paul Martino, “After Defying Health Department, Crack’d Egg Follows Judge’s Ruling And Closes,” KDKA Television, February 4, 2021, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2021/02/04/crackd-egg-closes/; Paula Reed Ward, “Judge orders Crack’d Egg to follow covid rules or close,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 3, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-orders-crackd-egg-to-follow-covid-rules-or-close/
  6. [6]Paula Reed Ward, “Crack’d Egg seeks stay to injunction while appeal is heard,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 8, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/crackd-egg-seeks-stay-to-injunction-while-appeal-is-heard/; Paula Reed Ward, “Judge rules against Crack’d Egg restaurant: ‘They’ve largely chosen their fate here,’” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 17, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-rules-against-crackd-egg-restaurant-theyve-largely-chosen-their-fate-here/
  7. [7]Christopher Rowland, Emily Rauhala, and Miriam Berger, “Drug companies defend vaccine monopolies in face of global outcry,” Washington Post, March 20, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/03/20/covid-vaccine-global-shortages/
  8. [8]Natalie Grover, “New Covid vaccines needed globally within a year, say scientists,” Guardian, March 29, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/30/new-covid-vaccines-needed-within-year-say-scientists
  9. [9]April Dembosky, “It’s not Tuskegee. Current medical racism fuels Black Americans’ vaccine hesitancy,” Los Angeles Times, March 25, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2021-03-25/current-medical-racism-not-tuskegee-expls-vaccine-hesitancy-among-black-americans; Elizabeth Dwoskin, “Facebook steps up campaign to ban false information about coronavirus vaccines,” Washington Post, December 3, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/12/03/facebook-covid-vaccine/; Benjamin Wallace-Wells, “The Vaccine Resisters,” New Yorker, March 5, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/annals-of-populism/the-vaccine-resisters; Hannah Wiley, “‘No masks. No vaccines.’ Battle is brewing over coronavirus immunizations in California,” Sacramento Bee, June 26, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article243381501.html
  10. [10]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  11. [11]David Benfell, “On the alleged ‘efficiency’ of capitalism,” Not Housebroken, March 4, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/03/04/on-the-alleged-efficiency-of-capitalism/
  12. [12]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  13. [13]Natalie Grover, “New Covid vaccines needed globally within a year, say scientists,” Guardian, March 29, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/30/new-covid-vaccines-needed-within-year-say-scientists
  14. [14]Julie Steenhuysen, “T cells induced by COVID-19 infection respond to new virus variants: U.S. study,” Reuters, March 30, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-variants-idUSKBN2BM3BZ
  15. [15]Melissa Healy, “California’s coronavirus strain looks increasingly dangerous: ‘The devil is already here,’” Los Angeles Times, February 23, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2021-02-23/california-homegrown-coronavirus-strain-looks-increasingly-transmissible-and-dangerous
  16. [16]Julie Steenhuysen, “T cells induced by COVID-19 infection respond to new virus variants: U.S. study,” Reuters, March 30, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-variants-idUSKBN2BM3BZ
  17. [17]Natalie Grover, “New Covid vaccines needed globally within a year, say scientists,” Guardian, March 29, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/30/new-covid-vaccines-needed-within-year-say-scientists
  18. [18]April Dembosky, “It’s not Tuskegee. Current medical racism fuels Black Americans’ vaccine hesitancy,” Los Angeles Times, March 25, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2021-03-25/current-medical-racism-not-tuskegee-expls-vaccine-hesitancy-among-black-americans; Elizabeth Dwoskin, “Facebook steps up campaign to ban false information about coronavirus vaccines,” Washington Post, December 3, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/12/03/facebook-covid-vaccine/; Benjamin Wallace-Wells, “The Vaccine Resisters,” New Yorker, March 5, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/annals-of-populism/the-vaccine-resisters; Hannah Wiley, “‘No masks. No vaccines.’ Battle is brewing over coronavirus immunizations in California,” Sacramento Bee, June 26, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article243381501.html
  19. [19]Natalie Grover, “New Covid vaccines needed globally within a year, say scientists,” Guardian, March 29, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/30/new-covid-vaccines-needed-within-year-say-scientists; Christopher Rowland, Emily Rauhala, and Miriam Berger, “Drug companies defend vaccine monopolies in face of global outcry,” Washington Post, March 20, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/03/20/covid-vaccine-global-shortages/
  20. [20]Laurel Wamsley, “Florida Gov. DeSantis Rejects Vaccine Passports As ‘Completely Unacceptable,’” National Public Radio, March 30, 2021, https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2021/03/30/982837517/florida-gov-desantis-rejects-vaccine-passports-as-completely-unacceptable
  21. [21]David Benfell, “Time for the gig economy to grow up,” Not Housebroken, August 30, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/30/time-for-the-gig-economy-to-grow-up/; David Benfell, “The expendable worker,” Not Housebroken, July 5, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/07/05/the-expendable-worker/; David Benfell, “A piper needs paying,” Not Housebroken, January 29, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/19/a-piper-needs-paying/; Johana Bhuiyan, “Amazon ends practice of dipping into drivers’ tips to meet their wage guarantees,” Los Angeles Times, August 22, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/business/technology/story/2019-08-22/amazon-flex-fares-tips; Jessa Crispin, “Amazon is a disaster for workers. Nomadland glosses over that,” Guardian, March 23, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/mar/23/amazon-nomadland-film-jeff-bezos-disaster-workers; Daniel D’Addario, “Amazon is worse than Walmart,” Salon, July 30, 2013, https://www.salon.com/control/2013/07/30/how_amazon_is_worse_than_wal_mart/; Timothy Egan, “The Corporate Daddy,” New York Times, June 19, 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/20/opinion/timothy-egan-walmart-starbucks-and-the-fight-against-inequality.html; Josh Eidelson, “Wal-Mart faces warehouse horror allegations and federal Labor Board complaint,” Salon, November 19, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/11/18/breaking_wal_mart_faces_warehouse_horror_allegations_and_federal_labor_board_complaint/; Josh Eidelson, “Tens of thousands protest, over 100 arrested in Black Friday challenge to Wal-Mart,” Salon, November 30, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/11/30/tens_of_thousands_protest_over_100_arrested_in_black_friday_challenge_to_wal_mart/; Josh Eidelson, “Finally paying for Wal-Mart’s sins: Wage theft settlement yields millions,” Salon, December 16, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/12/16/finally_paying_for_wal_marts_sins_wage_theft_settlement_yields_millions/; Josh Eidelson, “Freezing for Wal-Mart: Sub-zero warehouse temperatures spur Indiana work stoppage,” Salon, January 14, 2014, https://www.salon.com/test/2014/01/13/freezing_for_wal_mart_sub_zero_warehouse_temperatures_spur_indiana_work_stoppage/; Josh Eidelson, “Amazon Keeps Unions Out By Keeping Workers in Fear, Says Organizer,” Alternet, January 22, 2014, https://www.alternet.org/2014/01/amazon-keeps-unions-out-keeping-workers-fear-says-organizer/; Nichole Gracely, “‘Being homeless is better than working for Amazon,’” Guardian, November 28, 2014, https://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/nov/28/being-homeless-is-better-than-working-for-amazon; Steven Greenhouse, “The Changing Face of Temporary Employment,” New York Times, August 31, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/01/upshot/the-changing-face-of-temporary-employment.html; Erin Hatton, “The Rise of the Permanent Temp Economy,” New York Times, January 26, 2013, http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/26/the-rise-of-the-permanent-temp-economy/; Simon Head, “Worse than Wal-Mart: Amazon’s sick brutality and secret history of ruthlessly intimidating workers,” Salon, February 23, 2014, https://www.salon.com/control/2014/02/23/worse_than_wal_mart_amazons_sick_brutality_and_secret_history_of_ruthlessly_intimidating_workers/; Paul Jaskunas, “The Tyranny of the Forced Smile,” New York Times, February 14, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/jobs/the-tyranny-of-the-forced-smile.html; Allison Kilkenny, “Ohio Walmart Holds Food Drive For Its Own Employees,” Nation, November 18, 2013, https://www.thenation.com/article/ohio-walmart-holds-food-drive-its-own-employees/; Ken Klippenstein, “Documents Show Amazon Is Aware Drivers Pee in Bottles and Even Defecate En Route, Despite Company Denial,” Intercept, March 25, 2021, https://theintercept.com/2021/03/25/amazon-drivers-pee-bottles-union/; Paul Krugman, “The Plight of the Employed,” New York Times, December 24, 2013, http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/24/the-plight-of-the-employed/; Paul Krugman, “The Fear Economy,” New York Times, December 26, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/27/opinion/krugman-the-fear-economy.html; Danielle Kurtzleben, “Read McDonald’s workers’ shocking harassment and discrimination complaints — and why they’re so important,” Vox, January 22, 2015, https://www.vox.com/2015/1/22/7873661/mcdonalds-lawsuit-harassment-discrimination; Colin Lecher, “How Amazon automatically tracks and fires warehouse workers for ‘productivity,’” Verge, April 25, 2019, https://www.theverge.com/2019/4/25/18516004/amazon-warehouse-fulfillment-centers-productivity-firing-terminations; Edward McClelland, “You call this a middle class? “I’m trying not to lose my house,’” Salon, March 1, 2014, https://www.salon.com/test/2014/03/01/you_call_this_a_middle_class_i%E2%80%99m_trying_not_to_lose_my_house/; Mac McClelland, “I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave,” Mother Jones, March/April 2012, https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/02/mac-mcclelland-free-online-shipping-warehouses-labor/; Patrick McGreevy and Suhauna Hussain, “California demands that Amazon comply with COVID-19 investigation,” Los Angeles Times, December 14, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-12-14/california-lawsuit-amazon-workplace-conditions-covid-19; Nathaniel Mott, “From Amazon warehouse workers to Google bus drivers, it’s tough working a non-tech job at a tech company,” Pando, October 9, 2014, https://pando.com/2014/10/09/from-amazon-warehouse-workers-to-google-bus-drivers-its-tough-working-a-non-tech-job-at-a-tech-company/; Ari Rabin-Havt, “Wal-Mart flunks its fact-check: The truth behind its sarcastic response to the Times,” Salon, June 25, 2014, https://www.salon.com/control/2014/06/25/walmart_flunks_its_fact_check_the_truth_behind_its_sarcastic_response_to_the_times/; José Rodríguez, Jr., “The Aftermath Of Prop 22 Is Not As Happy As Big Tech Promised,” Jalopnik, February 18, 2021, https://jalopnik.com/the-aftermath-of-prop-22-is-not-as-happy-as-big-tech-pr-1846299686; Lia Russell, “The Silicon Valley Economy Is Here. And It’s a Nightmare,” New Republic, January 16, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/156202/silicon-valley-economy-here-its-nightmare; Michael Sainato, “‘I’m not a robot’: Amazon workers condemn unsafe, grueling conditions at warehouse,” Guardian, February 5, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/feb/05/amazon-workers-protest-unsafe-grueling-conditions-warehouse; Alexander Sammon, “Prop 22 Is Here, and It’s Already Worse Than Expected,” American Prospect, January 15, 2021, https://prospect.org/labor/prop-22-is-here-already-worse-than-expected-california-gig-workers/; Alex Seitz-Wald, “Amazon is everything wrong with our new economy,” Salon, July 30, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/07/30/amazon_is_everything_wrong_with_our_new_economy/; Alana Semuels, “As employers push efficiency, the daily grind wears down workers,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2013, https://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-harsh-work-20130407-story.html; Alana Semuels, “How the relationship between employers and workers changed,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2013, https://www.latimes.com/business/la-xpm-2013-apr-07-la-fi-mo-harsh-work-history-20130405-story.html; Alana Semuels, “Tougher workplace makes home life worse too,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2013, https://www.latimes.com/business/la-xpm-2013-apr-07-la-fi-mo-harsh-work-history-20130405-story.html; Faiz Siddiqui and Andrew Van Dam, “As Uber avoided paying into unemployment, the federal government helped thousands of its drivers weather the pandemic,” Washington Post, March 16, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/03/16/uber-lyft-unemployment-benefits/; Spencer Soper, “Inside Amazon’s Warehouse,” Lehigh Valley Morning Call, September 18, 2011, https://www.mcall.com/business/mc-xpm-2011-09-18-mc-allentown-amazon-complaints-20110917-story.html; Matt Stieb, “Amazon Called Out for Denying Workers Go to Bathroom in Bottles,” New York, March 25, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/03/amazon-called-out-for-denying-that-workers-pee-in-bottles.html; Lindsay Wise, “Report: Temp jobs at all-time high in U.S.,” McClatchy, September 2, 2014, https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/economy/article24772543.html
  22. [22]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  23. [23]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

Endless evil

Amazon

I just don’t even know what to say about working for Amazon anymore. They are an important aspect of the entirely underappreciated evil of low-wage and gig work that has gone on for years,[1] that the world seems to think is just fine for us to endure, just fine for me to endure.

Jessa Crispin, “Amazon is a disaster for workers. Nomadland glosses over that,” Guardian, March 23, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/mar/23/amazon-nomadland-film-jeff-bezos-disaster-workers


Guns


Regrettably, it’s time, yet again, to highlight a couple of old blog posts:


  1. [1]David Benfell, “Time for the gig economy to grow up,” Not Housebroken, August 30, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/30/time-for-the-gig-economy-to-grow-up/; David Benfell, “The expendable worker,” Not Housebroken, July 5, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/07/05/the-expendable-worker/; Johana Bhuiyan, “Amazon ends practice of dipping into drivers’ tips to meet their wage guarantees,” Los Angeles Times, August 22, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/business/technology/story/2019-08-22/amazon-flex-fares-tips; Jessa Crispin, “Amazon is a disaster for workers. Nomadland glosses over that,” Guardian, March 23, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/mar/23/amazon-nomadland-film-jeff-bezos-disaster-workers; Daniel D’Addario, “Amazon is worse than Walmart,” Salon, July 30, 2013, https://www.salon.com/control/2013/07/30/how_amazon_is_worse_than_wal_mart/; Timothy Egan, “The Corporate Daddy,” New York Times, June 19, 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/20/opinion/timothy-egan-walmart-starbucks-and-the-fight-against-inequality.html; Josh Eidelson, “Wal-Mart faces warehouse horror allegations and federal Labor Board complaint,” Salon, November 19, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/11/18/breaking_wal_mart_faces_warehouse_horror_allegations_and_federal_labor_board_complaint/; Josh Eidelson, “Tens of thousands protest, over 100 arrested in Black Friday challenge to Wal-Mart,” Salon, November 30, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/11/30/tens_of_thousands_protest_over_100_arrested_in_black_friday_challenge_to_wal_mart/; Josh Eidelson, “Finally paying for Wal-Mart’s sins: Wage theft settlement yields millions,” Salon, December 16, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/12/16/finally_paying_for_wal_marts_sins_wage_theft_settlement_yields_millions/; Josh Eidelson, “Freezing for Wal-Mart: Sub-zero warehouse temperatures spur Indiana work stoppage,” Salon, January 14, 2014, https://www.salon.com/test/2014/01/13/freezing_for_wal_mart_sub_zero_warehouse_temperatures_spur_indiana_work_stoppage/; Josh Eidelson, “Amazon Keeps Unions Out By Keeping Workers in Fear, Says Organizer,” Alternet, January 22, 2014, https://www.alternet.org/2014/01/amazon-keeps-unions-out-keeping-workers-fear-says-organizer/; Nichole Gracely, “‘Being homeless is better than working for Amazon,’” Guardian, November 28, 2014, https://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/nov/28/being-homeless-is-better-than-working-for-amazon; Steven Greenhouse, “The Changing Face of Temporary Employment,” New York Times, August 31, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/01/upshot/the-changing-face-of-temporary-employment.html; Erin Hatton, “The Rise of the Permanent Temp Economy,” New York Times, January 26, 2013, http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/26/the-rise-of-the-permanent-temp-economy/; Simon Head, “Worse than Wal-Mart: Amazon’s sick brutality and secret history of ruthlessly intimidating workers,” Salon, February 23, 2014, https://www.salon.com/control/2014/02/23/worse_than_wal_mart_amazons_sick_brutality_and_secret_history_of_ruthlessly_intimidating_workers/; Paul Jaskunas, “The Tyranny of the Forced Smile,” New York Times, February 14, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/jobs/the-tyranny-of-the-forced-smile.html; Allison Kilkenny, “Ohio Walmart Holds Food Drive For Its Own Employees,” Nation, November 18, 2013, https://www.thenation.com/article/ohio-walmart-holds-food-drive-its-own-employees/; Paul Krugman, “The Plight of the Employed,” New York Times, December 24, 2013, http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/24/the-plight-of-the-employed/; Paul Krugman, “The Fear Economy,” New York Times, December 26, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/27/opinion/krugman-the-fear-economy.html; Danielle Kurtzleben, “Read McDonald’s workers’ shocking harassment and discrimination complaints — and why they’re so important,” Vox, January 22, 2015, https://www.vox.com/2015/1/22/7873661/mcdonalds-lawsuit-harassment-discrimination; Colin Lecher, “How Amazon automatically tracks and fires warehouse workers for ‘productivity,’” Verge, April 25, 2019, https://www.theverge.com/2019/4/25/18516004/amazon-warehouse-fulfillment-centers-productivity-firing-terminations; Edward McClelland, “You call this a middle class? “I’m trying not to lose my house,’” Salon, March 1, 2014, https://www.salon.com/test/2014/03/01/you_call_this_a_middle_class_i%E2%80%99m_trying_not_to_lose_my_house/; Mac McClelland, “I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave,” Mother Jones, March/April 2012, https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/02/mac-mcclelland-free-online-shipping-warehouses-labor/; Patrick McGreevy and Suhauna Hussain, “California demands that Amazon comply with COVID-19 investigation,” Los Angeles Times, December 14, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-12-14/california-lawsuit-amazon-workplace-conditions-covid-19; Nathaniel Mott, “From Amazon warehouse workers to Google bus drivers, it’s tough working a non-tech job at a tech company,” Pando, October 9, 2014, https://pando.com/2014/10/09/from-amazon-warehouse-workers-to-google-bus-drivers-its-tough-working-a-non-tech-job-at-a-tech-company/; Ari Rabin-Havt, “Wal-Mart flunks its fact-check: The truth behind its sarcastic response to the Times,” Salon, June 25, 2014, https://www.salon.com/control/2014/06/25/walmart_flunks_its_fact_check_the_truth_behind_its_sarcastic_response_to_the_times/; José Rodríguez, Jr., “The Aftermath Of Prop 22 Is Not As Happy As Big Tech Promised,” Jalopnik, February 18, 2021, https://jalopnik.com/the-aftermath-of-prop-22-is-not-as-happy-as-big-tech-pr-1846299686; Lia Russell, “The Silicon Valley Economy Is Here. And It’s a Nightmare,” New Republic, January 16, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/156202/silicon-valley-economy-here-its-nightmare; Michael Sainato, “‘I’m not a robot’: Amazon workers condemn unsafe, grueling conditions at warehouse,” Guardian, February 5, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/feb/05/amazon-workers-protest-unsafe-grueling-conditions-warehouse; Alexander Sammon, “Prop 22 Is Here, and It’s Already Worse Than Expected,” American Prospect, January 15, 2021, https://prospect.org/labor/prop-22-is-here-already-worse-than-expected-california-gig-workers/; Alex Seitz-Wald, “Amazon is everything wrong with our new economy,” Salon, July 30, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/07/30/amazon_is_everything_wrong_with_our_new_economy/; Alana Semuels, “As employers push efficiency, the daily grind wears down workers,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2013, https://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-harsh-work-20130407-story.html; Alana Semuels, “How the relationship between employers and workers changed,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2013, https://www.latimes.com/business/la-xpm-2013-apr-07-la-fi-mo-harsh-work-history-20130405-story.html; Alana Semuels, “Tougher workplace makes home life worse too,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2013, https://www.latimes.com/business/la-xpm-2013-apr-07-la-fi-mo-harsh-work-history-20130405-story.html; Faiz Siddiqui and Andrew Van Dam, “As Uber avoided paying into unemployment, the federal government helped thousands of its drivers weather the pandemic,” Washington Post, March 16, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/03/16/uber-lyft-unemployment-benefits/; Spencer Soper, “Inside Amazon’s Warehouse,” Lehigh Valley Morning Call, September 18, 2011, https://www.mcall.com/business/mc-xpm-2011-09-18-mc-allentown-amazon-complaints-20110917-story.html; Lindsay Wise, “Report: Temp jobs at all-time high in U.S.,” McClatchy, September 2, 2014, https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/economy/article24772543.html

Are Trumpsters tiring of the flak? (Update #11)

Updates

  1. Originally published, February 28, 2021, 5:15 am.

  2. February 28, 2021, 11:32 am:

    • I guess the question for me is, just how representative of the larger party are Pennsylvania Republicans? Right now, my sense is that they pretty much are, as they consider censuring Pat Toomey, a U.S. Senator who broke with most other Republicans to support Donald Trump’s impeachment. The vote to censure Toomey was put on hold due to technical problems, but if I’m reading between the lines correctly—and certainly my sense of the state as a whole would indicate as much—the motion will surely pass.[1]

  3. March 1, 2021, 10:44 pm:

    • So if I understand correctly, neo-Nazis designed the Conservative Political Action Conference stage in the form of a symbol used on Gestapo uniforms, then called recognition of the design as such a “conspiracy theory.”[2]

      Has anyone else noticed the shape of the CPAC stage is the Odal Rune/SS insignia? pic.twitter.com/TCns4B1tq8

      — The Daily Beans Podcast (@dailybeanspod) February 26, 2021

      Now, is that rich or is that rich? I’d call this, at the very minimum, a public relations problem, and the Hyatt Hotel that hosted the conference quickly denounced the use of the symbol,[3] suggesting that they recognize a public relations problem.

      But Matt Schlapp, chair of the American Conservative Union, which runs CPAC, called the idea that the stage was purposely shaped like the Odal rune a “conspiracy theory.”

      “Stage design conspiracies are outrageous and slanderous,” he tweeted Saturday.[4]

      So what were all those Nazi symbols doing at the U.S. Capitol coup attempt then?[5] You know, the ones being carried by all those ‘patriots’ determined to ‘save’ the country?

  4. March 2, 2021, 12:20 am:

    • I’ve been distressed by my job prospects not only for what really are pretty obvious reasons, but because I perceive that I am destroying perfectly good cars.

      It turns out I am also destroying perfectly good cell phones. I’ve noticed a number of behaviors lately with my Pixel 4 XL, but especially aggravating was a sound problem that made music playing on my car’s sound system sound like a boom box from hell. I trying to compensate way more with the equalizer than I feel I should, those adjustments still weren’t enough, and it was ruining the experience.

      Of course, the trouble with something like this is you don’t know if it’s the phone, media players on the phone, or the car’s sound system.

      So I tried a different media player: Same result.

      I dredged out my old Pixel 3 XL that was actually a warranty replacement that I hadn’t ever actually used (it doesn’t support dual SIM-dual standby [DSDS]) and tried it. Strikingly different result: The sound is less rich but also, there’s none of that horrid booming.

      Which means that it isn’t the car’s sound system that’s misbehaving, but my Pixel 4 XL. Yeah, I’ve got a new phone, a Pixel 5, on order. It’s really a bad time of year for this sort of thing, but the Pixel 5 is relatively inexpensive, and I’ll get relatively high trade-in value for the Pixel 4 XL. And I have a Google Store credit card which I really can’t use for much else.

      The Pixel 5 supports 5G but this won’t do me any good because it doesn’t simultaneously support 5G and DSDS.

      Driving for Uber and Lyft is proving to be a really expensive way to not make a living.

  5. March 2, 2021, 10:31 pm:

    • The White House has withdrawn[6] Neera Tanden’s long-troubled—seriously, if you weren’t a neoliberal, you likely hated her—nomination to chair the Office of Management and Budget.[7]

  6. March 3, 2021, 10:41 am:

    • I’m thinking I might be replacing my Pixel 4 XL not a minute too soon. I’ve put the Pixel 3 XL back in the drawer but I noticed some notifications appeared much more promptly on it, with a difference measured in hours. My delivery tracking app on the Pixel 4 XL is now not working, which might be an app failure, or might be a phone failure.

      I found a relatively detailed comparison of the Pixel 4 XL to a Pixel 5. As I thought, it’s not really an upgrade; I win some ways and lose in others with the new phone. Crucial details include a lower grade processor and a smaller display on the Pixel 5. It has longer battery life,[8] but this isn’t really a factor for me because the phone is plugged in the entire time it’s connected with Android Auto. I had really hoped to hold on for the Pixel 6 and this is the problem: The last few phone upgrades have been decisions that have been forced upon me by various failures, ranging from swollen batteries to klutzy—and for me, dangerous—user interfaces (this was the iPhone) to what I’m seeing with the Pixel 4 XL. It’s bad enough to be making next to nothing. But between the car and my phone, my expenses are out of control.

      The Pixel 5 should arrive today.

      I’m trying to take steps to reduce the load on my phone, but this entails yet more expense as I’m adding a WiFi hotspot to the car, which I’m also making available to my passengers, hopefully to improve their satisfaction with my service and mitigate their complaints about my music. More speculatively, I’ll also be experimenting with a dongle substitute for Android Auto when it arrives. The theory really is that if I’m not working the phone so hard, perhaps it will last a bit longer.

      But the question still really is, why can’t I have a real job?

    • There are a couple stories that, if I weren’t already posting an update, I wouldn’t bother mentioning because there really isn’t anything new. They’re significant in that they flesh out what was already known:

      • Questions remain about Uber’s business model.[9] Gee. Ya think?

      • Apparently a membership list of the Three Percenters, a militia group, leaked. Utterly unsurprisingly, it includes military and police.[10]

    • I’ve archived these stories, but really, there’s absolutely nothing surprising about either of them.

  7. March 3, 2021, 9:25 pm:

    • The Pixel 5 arrived and I’ve been spending most of the late afternoon and evening setting it up. That includes moving the numbers from the old phone to the new phone. With Verizon, it’s a pretty simple matter to simply pull the subscriber identity module (SIM) card from one device and stick it in the other. AT&T, for which I have to use an electronic SIM (e-SIM), is another matter.

      My mother will tell you she won’t deal with AT&T because of their customer service. My luck had been pretty good and their cellular coverage really is, by far, the best in terms of area. That’s important when you spend as much time on the road as I do.

      But today was my day to have my mom’s experience with AT&T’s customer service. My god. It was unbelievably awful. They’re really hopeless. I might write about it, but definitely not tonight. And maybe not ever because this was not an experience worth reliving.

      I am no longer an AT&T customer. I ported the number over to Google Fi. Also I now use the Verizon number with Signal instead of what was the AT&T number. See my revised contact information.

  8. March 4, 2021, 1:28 pm:

    • Even as Texas and Mississippi eliminate COVID-19 mitigation measures, and some other states relax those measures, the danger of a fourth wave of COVID-19, just as more contagious, vaccine-resistant, and, potentially, more dangerous variants appear, is unabated.[11]

    • So I did, after all, tell the story of my horrid AT&T experience (see the update for March 3, 2021, at 9:25 pm) in a new blog post entitled, “On the alleged ‘efficiency’ of capitalism.”

    • I am now scheduled to receive the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine tomorrow. It might be the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. I qualify because I am clinically (not morbidly) obese. That I am a so-called “essential worker” facing daily exposure to passengers who don’t all wear their masks correctly has nothing to do with it.

  9. March 4, 2021, 10:33 pm:

    • Louis DeJoy is still postmaster-general, still doing damage. And Joe Biden is, at best, dithering.[12]

  10. March 5, 2021, 11:08 am:

    • I guess the answer to the question in the headline for this post is a pretty clear and pretty loud “NO!” Governors rolling back COVID-19 mitigation measures are doing so in response to political pressure, largely from Trumpsters still in denial of the severity of the disease.[13] It’s an obviously dangerous move as it will likely prolong the pandemic and multiply the opportunities for new variants to arise, some of which may be more dangerous, and some of which are already more resistant to vaccines.[14] I get my first shot today. I hope it isn’t in vain.

  11. March 6, 2021, 8:55 am:

    • I got the first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine yesterday. It was the Pfizer vaccine and I go back in three weeks for the second shot.

      The scene was of long lines that moved surprisingly quickly. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) really, really did have its act together, which was nice to see on a cold day as the line stretched outdoors. It was an assembly line operation, but matching my experience with doctors in Pittsburgh generally, it didn’t seem the least bit dehumanizing. They had people at all the right places to make sure I didn’t get lost. There was no duplicated effort. Everybody was friendly.

      I’m pretty clear at this point that my mother won’t move to Pittsburgh, but the difference between my California experience with medical practice and my Pittsburgh experience is vast. On that score, I really do believe she really would be better off here.

      In my case, the side effects have been modest, mostly a bit of achiness and a bit of numbness, the latter a bit like my arm had, colloquially, “gone to sleep.” It’s really just barely enough that I think it wasn’t psychosomatic. This morning, the pain is mostly gone.

    • One thing I learned is that your face mask is supposed to cover your nose all the way up to the bridge and down below your chin. It happens the mask that came up in my rotation today is the second one my mother made for me; it’s the one that covers the most area, so I wasn’t subject to admonishment. But I don’t think all of my masks quite meet that standard. And of course, I’ll have to continue wearing masks even once I’ve received the second shot.

    • One reason, as I mentioned earlier (see March 5, 11:08 am), to worry about the pandemic, even as vaccines become more widely available, is that some politicians are relaxing restrictions even as new, more contagious, and potentially more dangerous variants of the coronavirus begin to appear.[15] This is an asshole move. Another problem is with vaccine resistance: An awful lot of people intend to refuse vaccination.[16] I think I’ve previously said that the coronavirus is illustrating how humans will go extinct. Between this and refusing to wear masks, I think we’re seeing that ever more vividly.

      The Kaiser Family Foundation has been polling public opinion on [vaccine resistance] regularly, and as of February 26th the foundation found that fifty-five per cent of American adults had already taken the vaccine or wanted it as soon as possible; the rest were about evenly divided between those who say that they will definitely not get a shot and those who plan to “wait and see.” Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said that close to ninety per cent of the country may need to be vaccinated to snuff out the disease, which means tens of millions of people still need to be convinced.[17]

      Given the politicization of the disease and everything associated with it, it will be absolutely astonishing if we get anywhere close to that 90 percent vaccination rate. But the surprising bit is that the problem isn’t just with Trumpsters and misinformation.[18]


Elon Musk

Elon Musk’s bizarre fixation on colonizing Mars continues,[19] as does the criticism.[20] Really, he’s just another entitled rich man.[21]

Shannon Stirone, “Mars Is a Hellhole,” Atlantic, February 26, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/02/mars-is-no-earth/618133/


Donald Trump

At the Times (of London), Sarah Baxter thinks Donald Trump’s moment may have passed, even as Trumpsters go wild at the Conservative Political Action Conference. She has bad news for his offspring as well.[22]


Fig. 1. Reproduction of poster, via Relational Implicit, “Understanding social myth: Why it’s so hard to find common ground & how to do it,” September 2020, fair use.

I still see a few Trump campaign banners, even the occasional flag, around southwestern Pennsylvania. And that image of Trump’s fat head of grievance—Trumpsters apparently interpret his expression as that of determination and toughness—grafted on Sylvester Stallone’s body, portraying him as Rambo (figure 1), sears my memory. It’s not like these folks would vote against him or his kin. But Baxter thinks it’s that Trump lost control of the White House and the Senate and that even Trumpsters are tiring of the flak.[23]

Sarah Baxter, “Bad news for Donald Trump Jr: the right is fast tiring of Trumps,” Times, February 28, 2021, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/bad-news-for-donald-trump-jr-the-right-is-fast-tiring-of-trumps-msm9phdcz

Deb Erdley, “Toomey censure remains on hold with Pennsylvania Republicans,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 27, 2021, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/toomey-censure-remains-on-hold-with-pennsylvania-republicans/


Gig economy

Matthew Beedham, “Uber: Is this the beginning of the end for the ride-hailing Goliath?” Next Web, March 2, 2021, https://thenextweb.com/shift/2021/03/02/uber-is-this-the-beginning-of-the-end-for-the-ride-hailing-goliath/


Pandemic

Sam Baker, “The danger of a fourth wave,” Axios, March 4, 2021, https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-variants-vaccines-cases-texas-60d39747-de46-4bb7-bf51-e241c495953a.html

Isaac Stanley-Becker, “GOP governors scorn pandemic restrictions as they compete for primacy in a pro-Trump party,” Washington Post, March 5, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/texas-mask-mandate-abbott/2021/03/04/ceec92bc-7d12-11eb-b3d1-9e5aa3d5220c_story.html

Benjamin Wallace-Wells, “The Vaccine Resisters,” New Yorker, March 5, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/annals-of-populism/the-vaccine-resisters


Postal Service

Casey Taylor, “Louis DeJoy Is Killing It,” New York, March 4, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/03/louis-dejoy-is-killing-it.html


  1. [1]Deb Erdley, “Toomey censure remains on hold with Pennsylvania Republicans,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 27, 2021, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/toomey-censure-remains-on-hold-with-pennsylvania-republicans/
  2. [2]Ben Sales, “CPAC denies its stage was a Nazi symbol, as host hotel calls the symbol ‘abhorrent,’” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, https://www.jta.org/quick-reads/cpac-denies-its-stage-was-a-nazi-symbol-as-host-hotel-calls-the-symbol-abhorrent
  3. [3]Ben Sales, “CPAC denies its stage was a Nazi symbol, as host hotel calls the symbol ‘abhorrent,’” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, https://www.jta.org/quick-reads/cpac-denies-its-stage-was-a-nazi-symbol-as-host-hotel-calls-the-symbol-abhorrent
  4. [4]Ben Sales, “CPAC denies its stage was a Nazi symbol, as host hotel calls the symbol ‘abhorrent,’” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, https://www.jta.org/quick-reads/cpac-denies-its-stage-was-a-nazi-symbol-as-host-hotel-calls-the-symbol-abhorrent
  5. [5]Laura E. Adkins and Emily Burack, “Neo-Nazis, QAnon and Camp Auschwitz: A guide to the hate symbols and signs on display at the Capitol riots,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 7, 2021, https://www.jta.org/2021/01/07/united-states/hate-on-display-your-guide-to-the-symbols-and-signs-on-display-at-the-stop-the-count-insurrection; Anne Quito and Amanda Shendruk, “Decoding the flags and banners seen at the Capitol Hill insurrection,” Quartz, January 7, 2021, https://qz.com/1953366/decoding-the-pro-trump-insurrectionist-flags-and-banners/
  6. [6]Felicia Sonmez et al., “White House withdraws Tanden nomination; Biden says U.S. will have enough vaccine doses for every adult by end of May,” Washington Post, March 2, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/03/02/joe-biden-live-updates/
  7. [7]Jake Johnson, “Progressives Spurn Tanden’s Nomination to Office of Management and Budget,” Truthout, November 30, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/progressives-spurn-tandens-nomination-to-office-of-management-and-budget/; Marianne Levine and Burgess Everett, “Collins and Romney to oppose Tanden for OMB, further jeopardizing her nomination,” Politico, February 22, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/22/collins-oppose-tanden-jeopardize-nomination-470801; Holly Otterbein, “Bernieworld seethes over Tanden as OMB nominee,” Politico, November 30, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/30/bernie-supporters-seethes-neera-tanden-441603; Tyler Pager, “The jockeying to replace Neera Tanden has begun,” Politico, February 20, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/20/neera-tanden-omb-replacement-470424; Jeff Stein, Annie Linskey, and Seung Min Kim, “Biden’s pick to lead White House budget office emerges as lightning rod for GOP,” Washington Post, November 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2020/11/30/biden-omb-neera-tanden/
  8. [8]Simon Chandler, “Google Pixel 5 vs. Pixel 4 XL: Should you upgrade?” Digital Trends, October 27, 2021, https://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/google-pixel-5-vs-pixel-4-xl/
  9. [9]Matthew Beedham, “Uber: Is this the beginning of the end for the ride-hailing Goliath?” Next Web, March 2, 2021, https://thenextweb.com/shift/2021/03/02/uber-is-this-the-beginning-of-the-end-for-the-ride-hailing-goliath/
  10. [10]Jason Wilson, “US militia group draws members from military and police, website leak shows,” Guardian, March 3, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/mar/03/us-militia-membership-military-police-american-patriot-three-percenter-website-leak
  11. [11]Sam Baker, “The danger of a fourth wave,” Axios, March 4, 2021, https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-variants-vaccines-cases-texas-60d39747-de46-4bb7-bf51-e241c495953a.html; Melissa Healy, “California’s coronavirus strain looks increasingly dangerous: ‘The devil is already here,’” Los Angeles Times, February 23, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2021-02-23/california-homegrown-coronavirus-strain-looks-increasingly-transmissible-and-dangerous
  12. [12]Casey Taylor, “Louis DeJoy Is Killing It,” New York, March 4, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/03/louis-dejoy-is-killing-it.html
  13. [13]Isaac Stanley-Becker, “GOP governors scorn pandemic restrictions as they compete for primacy in a pro-Trump party,” Washington Post, March 5, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/texas-mask-mandate-abbott/2021/03/04/ceec92bc-7d12-11eb-b3d1-9e5aa3d5220c_story.html
  14. [14]Sam Baker, “The danger of a fourth wave,” Axios, March 4, 2021, https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-variants-vaccines-cases-texas-60d39747-de46-4bb7-bf51-e241c495953a.html; Melissa Healy, “California’s coronavirus strain looks increasingly dangerous: ‘The devil is already here,’” Los Angeles Times, February 23, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2021-02-23/california-homegrown-coronavirus-strain-looks-increasingly-transmissible-and-dangerous
  15. [15]Isaac Stanley-Becker, “GOP governors scorn pandemic restrictions as they compete for primacy in a pro-Trump party,” Washington Post, March 5, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/texas-mask-mandate-abbott/2021/03/04/ceec92bc-7d12-11eb-b3d1-9e5aa3d5220c_story.html
  16. [16]Benjamin Wallace-Wells, “The Vaccine Resisters,” New Yorker, March 5, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/annals-of-populism/the-vaccine-resisters
  17. [17]Benjamin Wallace-Wells, “The Vaccine Resisters,” New Yorker, March 5, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/annals-of-populism/the-vaccine-resisters
  18. [18]Benjamin Wallace-Wells, “The Vaccine Resisters,” New Yorker, March 5, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/annals-of-populism/the-vaccine-resisters
  19. [19]Tristan Greene, “Here’s the stupid reason Elon Musk wants to nuke Mars,” Next Web, August 16, 2019, https://thenextweb.com/distract/2019/08/16/heres-the-stupid-reason-elon-musk-wants-to-nuke-mars/; Rafi Letzter, “Why NASA’s Annoyed About Elon Musk’s Giant Rocket,” Live Science, October 5, 2019, https://www.livescience.com/starship-crew-dragon-spacex-nasa-bridenstine.html
  20. [20]Samantha Rolfe, “Elon Musk’s Starship may be more moral catastrophe than bold step in space exploration,” Science X, October 2, 2019, https://phys.org/news/2019-10-elon-musk-starship-moral-catastrophe.html; Shannon Stirone, “Mars Is a Hellhole,” Atlantic, February 26, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/02/mars-is-no-earth/618133/
  21. [21]David Benfell, “Elon Musk, groan, again,” Not Housebroken, April 4, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/03/22/elon-musk-groan-again/
  22. [22]Sarah Baxter, “Bad news for Donald Trump Jr: the right is fast tiring of Trumps,” Times, February 28, 2021, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/bad-news-for-donald-trump-jr-the-right-is-fast-tiring-of-trumps-msm9phdcz
  23. [23]Sarah Baxter, “Bad news for Donald Trump Jr: the right is fast tiring of Trumps,” Times, February 28, 2021, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/bad-news-for-donald-trump-jr-the-right-is-fast-tiring-of-trumps-msm9phdcz

Rest In Piss (Update #2)

Updates

  1. Originally published, February 18, 2021, 3:32 pm.

  2. February 19, 2021, 12:48 am:

    • In one the very regrettable jokes of my childhood, Gomer Pyle, a goofy private in the Marine Corps in a very old television series, asks his girl friend for permission to put his finger in her belly button.

      After a pause, she says, “That’s not my belly button!”

      The punch line begins with Pyle using his signature line, “Surprise! Surprise!” He continues, “That isn’t my finger either!”

      Okay, so you probably saw that one coming a mile away and it shouldn’t be considered funny because we’re talking about nonconsensual sex.

      And how Pyle’s girl friend would feel, at least in the modern world when such behavior would constitute rape, is probably about how a lot of California Uber and Lyft drivers feel about California’s Proposition 22: They were screwed.[1] Even as other employers have been looking at the proposition and thinking to themselves what a wonderful idea this is so they, too, can get rid of employees, minimum wage, and benefits.[2]

      How about you all just admit you’d really like to get slavery back?

      I’m in Pennsylvania now, but at least so far this year, with the costs I’m facing, I’m not making any money at all.


Rush Limbaugh

Just so we know where Binyamin Netanyahu stands:


Seriously, this is right up there with that vegan restaurant, Fortuitea, in North Strabane, run by a Jewish family whose patriarch, I learned with his reaction to COVID-19 mitigation orders, gets his information from the same sources as blatantly anti-Semitic white supremacists. It had been my favorite restaurant, albeit a long ways out, in the Pittsburgh area, but some stuff you just can’t excuse.

Look, I know that not all Jews are like this. Consider, for example, Michael Lerner and many others I follow on Twitter, who criticize Israeli policies in the occupied territories. But just as whites need to reckon with white supremacy, Jews need to reckon with apartheid. And, frankly, white Jews need to reckon with both.

It’s not enough to quietly oppose racism, misogyny, and other forms of oppression with friends and colleagues. Silence is complicity. These attitudes cannot be excused, cannot be dismissed. They must be loudly repudiated. And we all must repudiate them.


I have a lot of reverence for my maternal grandfather. In a life full of trauma, being with him was the one place where I felt safe. It’s a factor that even now draws me back to Dormont, a suburb of Pittsburgh.

When I went to visit in my twenties, I remember my grandfather sitting at the dining room table, listening to talk radio. My mother tells me he became even more conservative as he aged, that he was racist. I know my grandmother was racist. She embarassed me by using the word colored on a trip to Pittsburgh’s Point State Park, explaining that “we” used to call them—she used the n-word. So I have little reason to doubt my mother’s account.

I don’t know if my grandfather ever heard Rush Limbaugh. But Limbaugh was certainly a part of the ecosystem from which the “Fox News Bubble” developed.[3] He was genuinely and inexcusably awful,[4] and he had an understanding of the authoritarian populist victimhood[5] that seems to drive the “Fuck Your Feelings” and “Make a Liberal Cry” Trumpster ethos.[6]


Texas

When the power came on amid rolling blackouts, Andrew Exum’s “wife—a tough woman, and a water and sanitation engineer by training—climbed under the house and thawed out a pipe with a blow-dryer.”[7]

Andrew Exum, “I’m Freezing Cold and Burning Mad in Texas,” Atlantic, February 17, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/02/freezing-cold-and-burning-mad-texas/618048/

Will Englund, Steven Mufson, and Dino Grandoni, “Texas, the go-it-alone state, is rattled by the failure to keep the lights on,” Washington Post, February 18, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/02/18/texas-electric-grid-failure/

Greg Sargent, “The latest GOP nonsense on Texas shows us the future Republicans want,” Washington Post, February 18, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/02/18/texas-republicans-abbott-power-shortages/


Genetics

In the category of how I’m weird, it turns out that my intolerance for physical exercise might be related to my relative tolerance for cold.[8]

Karolinska Institutet, “20% of People Have a Genetic Mutation That Provides Superior Resilience to Cold,” SciTechDaily, February 17, 2021, https://scitechdaily.com/20-of-people-have-a-genetic-mutation-that-provides-superior-resilience-to-cold/


Gig work

José Rodríguez, Jr., “The Aftermath Of Prop 22 Is Not As Happy As Big Tech Promised,” Jalopnik, February 18, 2021, https://jalopnik.com/the-aftermath-of-prop-22-is-not-as-happy-as-big-tech-pr-1846299686


  1. [1]José Rodríguez, Jr., “The Aftermath Of Prop 22 Is Not As Happy As Big Tech Promised,” Jalopnik, February 18, 2021, https://jalopnik.com/the-aftermath-of-prop-22-is-not-as-happy-as-big-tech-pr-1846299686
  2. [2]Alexander Sammon, “Prop 22 Is Here, and It’s Already Worse Than Expected,” American Prospect, January 15, 2021, https://prospect.org/labor/prop-22-is-here-already-worse-than-expected-california-gig-workers/
  3. [3]Matt Gertz, “Rush Limbaugh’s bigotry set the stage for Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party,” Media Matters for America, February 17, 2021, https://www.mediamatters.org/rush-limbaugh/rush-limbaughs-bigotry-set-stage-trumps-takeover-republican-party; Jeffrey P Jones, [tweet], February 17, 2021, https://twitter.com/DrJeffreyPJones/status/1362097963934302210
  4. [4]Bob Baker, “What’s the Rush?: Radio Loudmouth Rush Limbaugh Harangues Feminazis, Environmental Wackos and Commie-Libs While His Ratings Soar,” Los Angeles Times, January 20, 1991, https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1991-01-20-tm-836-story.html
  5. [5]Thomas Frank, What’s the Matter With Kansas? (New York: Holt, 2004); Thomas Frank, Pity the Billionaire (New York: Holt, 2012); Rush Limbaugh, “What Palin’s Trump Speech Says About the State of the Conservative Movement,” Rush Limbaugh Show, January 20, 2016, https://www.rushlimbaugh.com/daily/2016/01/20/what_palin_s_trump_speech_says_about_the_state_of_the_conservative_movement/
  6. [6]David Benfell, “The Donald Trump supporters’ campaign message: Fuck Your Feelings,” Not Housebroken, December 11, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/26/the-donald-trump-supporters-campaign-message-fuck-your-feelings/
  7. [7]Andrew Exum, “I’m Freezing Cold and Burning Mad in Texas,” Atlantic, February 17, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/02/freezing-cold-and-burning-mad-texas/618048/
  8. [8]Karolinska Institutet, “20% of People Have a Genetic Mutation That Provides Superior Resilience to Cold,” SciTechDaily, February 17, 2021, https://scitechdaily.com/20-of-people-have-a-genetic-mutation-that-provides-superior-resilience-to-cold/

The GameStop Squeeze now squeezes its own (Update #2)

Updates

  1. Originally published, February 2, 2021, 5:07 pm.
  2. February 3, 2021, 12:50 am:

There is a new blog post entitled, “It’s time for real solutions.”


GameStop Squeeze

GameStop stock has plunged, wiping out many[1] who followed, among others, Elon Musk’s siren call.[2] From the description, the Reddit /r/wallstreetbets forum is a weird place, where many take pride in “loss porn,” screenshots of their losses.[3]

Drew Harwell, “As GameStop stock crumbles, newbie traders reckon with heavy losses,” Washington Post, February 2, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/02/02/gamestop-stock-plunge-losers/


  1. [1]Drew Harwell, “As GameStop stock crumbles, newbie traders reckon with heavy losses,” Washington Post, February 2, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/02/02/gamestop-stock-plunge-losers/
  2. [2]Cory Doctorow, “Understanding /r/wallstreetbets,” Pluralistic, January 28, 2021, https://pluralistic.net/2021/01/28/payment-for-order-flow/#wallstreetbets; Matt Phillips and Taylor Lorenz, “‘Dumb Money’ Is on GameStop, and It’s Beating Wall Street at Its Own Game,” New York Times, January 27, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/27/business/gamestop-wall-street-bets.html
  3. [3]Drew Harwell, “As GameStop stock crumbles, newbie traders reckon with heavy losses,” Washington Post, February 2, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/02/02/gamestop-stock-plunge-losers/

So this one wasn’t on my false equivalency bingo card (Update #5)

Updates

  1. Originally published, January 22, 2021, 12:47 pm.

  2. January 22, 2021, 11:31 pm:

    • Megan Stack has a somber account of the scene in Washington, D.C., outside Joe Biden’s inauguration, where right wing militia were expected and didn’t show.[1]

  3. January 23, 10:30 pm:

    • Pennsylvania is dangerous. Don’t believe me? Check out what this Pennsylvania congressman tried to set up with Donald Trump and the Department of Justice.[2] I mean, seriously, if only it were true that Pennsylvania (Democratic) Governor Tom Wolf was a dictator;[3] we’d be safer.

    • All I need to know here:

      Jacob Chansley is the “QAnon Shaman” who appeared in fur and horns at the U.S. Capitol coup.

  4. January 24, 1:52 pm:

    • George Conway, III, lays out the case for prosecuting Donald Trump now that he’s out of office,[4] which I guess to many people will seem like a no-brainer.

      If law is to apply, after all, it should apply to the rich and powerful as it does the poor. But I’ve previously remarked on the problem of presidential immunity,[5] and a larger picture notes that Conway is a co-founder of the Lincoln Project, a project of a tendency of conservatism—neoconservatism—that has previously advocated the theory of the unitary executive,[6] the very and already extreme theory that Conway is really complaining about Trump taking to extreme.[7]

      Zooming out still further, prosecuting Trump seems too superficial an answer to the problem of justice itself in which we have a distinctly harsher and more criminal system for the poor, especially of color, and a distinctly more lenient and civil one for the rich, especially whites,[8] no answer at all to the question of why Trump was elected in the first place[9] to obtain the immunity he has now lost,[10] nor to the roots of endemic and systemic injustice itself.[11] Yes, I think Trump should be prosecuted, but to do so still feels facile.

  5. January 25, 2021, 3:03 pm:


Pittsburgh

In a previous post, I noted of Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto that “while I think Peduto means well, he is a jackass in the way that jackasses who have never faced existential crises in their lives is a jackass. A catalog of Peduto’s asinine tweets would be lengthy.”[12] To say I understated it would itself be an understatement of colossal magnitude:

My fucking god.

I am calling for Peduto to resign. This is completely unacceptable and there isn’t even the beginning of an excuse for it.

Lisa Cunningham, “Mayor Peduto, please stop equating Pittsburgh protesters with the ‘Radical Right,’” Pittsburgh City Paper, January 21, 2021, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/mayor-peduto-please-stop-equating-pittsburgh-protesters-with-the-radical-right/Content?oid=18780489

Tom Davidson, “Peduto challenger Ed Gainey: Fewer words, more action needed from next mayor of Pittsburgh,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 22, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/peduto-challenger-ed-gainey-fewer-words-more-action-needed-from-next-mayor-of-pittsburgh/


Donald Trump

Megan K. Stack, “The Week the Trump Supporters Disappeared,” New Yorker, January 22, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/the-political-scene/the-week-the-trump-supporters-disappeared

Katie Benner and Catie Edmondson, “Pennsylvania Lawmaker Played Key Role in Trump’s Plot to Oust Acting Attorney General,” New York Times, January 23, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/23/us/politics/scott-perry-trump-justice-department-election.html


  1. [1]Megan K. Stack, “The Week the Trump Supporters Disappeared,” New Yorker, January 22, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/the-political-scene/the-week-the-trump-supporters-disappeared
  2. [2]Katie Benner and Catie Edmondson, “Pennsylvania Lawmaker Played Key Role in Trump’s Plot to Oust Acting Attorney General,” New York Times, January 23, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/23/us/politics/scott-perry-trump-justice-department-election.html
  3. [3]John L. Micek, “W. Pa. Rep. Metcalfe files impeachment articles to ‘remove dictator Wolf’ over pandemic response,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, June 16, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/blog/w-pa-rep-metcalfe-files-impeachment-articles-to-remove-dictator-wolf-over-pandemic-response/
  4. [4]George T. Conway, III, “Donald Trump’s new reality,” Washington Post, January 22, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/01/22/trump-charges-george-conway/
  5. [5]David Benfell, “The problem of presidential immunity,” Hot Housebroken, November 1, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/01/the-problem-of-presidential-immunity/
  6. [6]Jonathan Stevenson, “Trump’s Lingering Menace,” New York Review of Books, January 9, 2021, https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2021/01/09/trumps-lingering-menace/
  7. [7]George T. Conway, III, “Donald Trump’s new reality,” Washington Post, January 22, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/01/22/trump-charges-george-conway/
  8. [8]Jeffrey Reiman, The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison, 7th ed. (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2004).
  9. [9]David Benfell, “Why Donald Trump won,” Not Housebroken, November 9, 2016, https://disunitedstates.org/2016/11/09/why-donald-trump-won/
  10. [10]Jane Mayer, “Why Trump Can’t Afford to Lose,” New Yorker, November 1, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/11/09/why-trump-cant-afford-to-lose
  11. [11]Wanda D. McCaslin and Denise C. Breton, “Justice as Healing: Going Outside the Colonizers’ Cage,” in Handbook of Critical and Indigenous Methodologies, eds. Norman K. Denzin, Yvonna S. Lincoln, and Linda Tuhiwai Smith (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2008), 511-529.
  12. [12]David Benfell, “The testosterone insurrection coup,” Irregular Bullshit, January 21, 2021, https://disunitedstates.com/2021/01/19/the-testosterone-insurrection/

Racism and the January 6, 2021, insurrection

Donald Trump

Gerald Seib, at the Wall Street Journal, supports a narrative that blames ‘Trumpism’ on neoliberal trade policy and largely treats racism and white supremacy as an ancillary issue. He sees the January 6, 2021, riot as a culmination.[1] There is, of course, more to it, including a 1,000-year history,[2] but to my knowledge, no one, including me, seems to have explored well how all this came together.

It is only rarely the case that phenomena can be attributed to singular causes;[3] the tendency to do so generally should be regarded as a fallacy of linear causation.

One example in which the economic explanation comes up short is in the stark discrepancy between the law enforcement response to the January 6 riot and to Black Lives Matter protests.[4] This discrepancy only becomes starker when the Federal Bureau of Investigation had warned in advance of a possible attack on January 6[5] and indeed that the Capitol Police had also warned themselves.[6] These warnings clearly indicated a possibility of violence,[7] yet the failings on that date “could mean that there were inherent biases, where people discounted this, and just didn’t think a large group of White conservatives who generally ally with the police and the GOP lawmakers, who were also present there that day, would be violent.”[8]

In the New York Review of Books, Jonathan Freedland lays out a context and an account for the January 6 riot that seems much more intentional than what I had seen previously. The important aspect of Freedland’s account is that it requires neither intelligence nor sanity. In essence, Donald Trump was desperate to remain in power and having exhausted legal or regular military options for doing so, let loose a mob.[9] If you have access, his article is far more worthwhile than Fiona Hill’s, the latter of which requires Trump to possess both minimal intelligence and sanity, of why she thinks it was a coup.[10]

Freedland’s explanation also illuminates that Trump’s criminal exposure from inciting the insurrection[11] now likely constrains him from attempting a repeat for Joe Biden’s inauguration.[12]

Indeed, one problem with attempting to take power by force is that you need to succeed. Because when you fail, the full resources of the state may be deployed against you.

Jonathan Stevenson, “Trump’s Lingering Menace,” New York Review of Books, January 9, 2021, https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2021/01/09/trumps-lingering-menace/

Carol D. Leonnig, “Capitol Police intelligence report warned three days before attack that ‘Congress itself’ could be targeted,” Washington Post, January 15, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/capitol-police-intelligence-warning/2021/01/15/c8b50744-5742-11eb-a08b-f1381ef3d207_story.html

Gerald F. Seib, “Where Trump Came From—and Where Trumpism Is Going,” Wall Street Journal, January 15, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/where-trump-came-fromand-where-trumpism-is-going-11610726416


  1. [1]Gerald F. Seib, “Where Trump Came From—and Where Trumpism Is Going,” Wall Street Journal, January 15, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/where-trump-came-fromand-where-trumpism-is-going-11610726416
  2. [2]David Benfell, “Barack Obama asks, ‘Why is it that the folks that won the last election are so mad all the time?’ Not Housebroken, November 4, 2018, https://disunitedstates.org/2018/11/04/barack-obama-asks-why-is-it-that-the-folks-that-won-the-last-election-are-so-mad-all-the-time/
  3. [3]Fritjof Capra, The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems (New York: Anchor, 1996); Joanna Macy, Mutual Causality in Buddhism and General Systems Theory (Delhi, India: Sri Satguru, 1995); Edgar Morin, On Complexity (Cresskill, NJ: Hampton, 2008).
  4. [4]Kyle Cheney, Sarah Ferris, and Laura Barrón-López, “‘Inside job’: House Dems ask if Capitol rioters had hidden help,” Politico, January 8, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/08/congress-democrats-capitol-riot-inside-job-456725; Kurtis Lee, Jaweed Kaleem, and Laura King, “‘White supremacy was on full display.’ Double standard seen in police response to riot at Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, January 7, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-01-07/la-na-washington-capitol-police-attack-race; Matt Stieb, “Capitol Police Suspends Cops for Allegedly Siding With Pro-Trump Mob,” New York, January 11, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/01/two-capitol-cops-suspended-for-actions-during-capitol-riot.html
  5. [5]Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, “FBI report warned of ‘war’ at Capitol, contradicting claims there was no indication of looming violence,” Washington Post, January 12, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/capitol-riot-fbi-intelligence/2021/01/12/30d12748-546b-11eb-a817-e5e7f8a406d6_story.html
  6. [6]Carol D. Leonnig, “Capitol Police intelligence report warned three days before attack that ‘Congress itself’ could be targeted,” Washington Post, January 15, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/capitol-police-intelligence-warning/2021/01/15/c8b50744-5742-11eb-a08b-f1381ef3d207_story.html
  7. [7]Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, “FBI report warned of ‘war’ at Capitol, contradicting claims there was no indication of looming violence,” Washington Post, January 12, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/capitol-riot-fbi-intelligence/2021/01/12/30d12748-546b-11eb-a817-e5e7f8a406d6_story.html; Carol D. Leonnig, “Capitol Police intelligence report warned three days before attack that ‘Congress itself’ could be targeted,” Washington Post, January 15, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/capitol-police-intelligence-warning/2021/01/15/c8b50744-5742-11eb-a08b-f1381ef3d207_story.html
  8. [8]Mary McCord, quoted in Carol D. Leonnig, “Capitol Police intelligence report warned three days before attack that ‘Congress itself’ could be targeted,” Washington Post, January 15, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/capitol-police-intelligence-warning/2021/01/15/c8b50744-5742-11eb-a08b-f1381ef3d207_story.html
  9. [9]Jonathan Stevenson, “Trump’s Lingering Menace,” New York Review of Books, January 9, 2021, https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2021/01/09/trumps-lingering-menace/
  10. [10]Fiona Hill, “Yes, It Was a Coup. Here’s Why,” Politico, January 11, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/01/11/capitol-riot-self-coup-trump-fiona-hill-457549
  11. [11]Jennifer Haberkorn, “Republicans block House resolution calling on Pence to remove Trump over Capitol riot,” Los Angeles Times, January 11, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-01-11/republicans-block-house-resolution-to-call-on-pence-to-remove-trump-over-capitol-riot; Ron Kampeas, “Biden: Capitol marauders are ‘thugs, insurrectionists and anti-Semites’ who should be prosecuted,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 8, 2021, https://www.jta.org/quick-reads/biden-capitol-marauders-are-thugs-insurrectionists-and-anti-semites-who-should-be-prosecuted; Andrew G. McCabe and David C. Williams, “Trump’s New Criminal Problem,” Politico, January 11, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/01/11/trumps-new-criminal-problem-457298; Seren Morris, “What Does Insurrection or Sedition Mean? Definition of Words Used To Describe Capitol Riot,” Newsweek, January 7, 2021, https://www.newsweek.com/what-does-insurrection-sedition-mean-definition-capitol-riot-1559745
  12. [12]Jonathan Stevenson, “Trump’s Lingering Menace,” New York Review of Books, January 9, 2021, https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2021/01/09/trumps-lingering-menace/

The weirder and weirder story of an initially alleged plot to ‘capture and assassinate’ lawmakers

Donald Trump

Prosecutors first claimed,[1] then withdrew their claim,[2] that the Capitol rioters intended to capture and assassinate lawmakers in their insurrection on January 6, 2021.[3]

What I’m still not seeing here, even if the original claim is true, is an actual plan for keeping Donald Trump in office: Taking legislators hostage could 1) impair legislative bodies’ ability to reach a quorum (who would show up to risk being taken hostage or executed?) to take action and 2) result in a court overturning any action taken under such circumstances as being under duress and therefore invalid. Such a ‘plan’ further assumes that legislators have agency here, that they can indeed choose to overturn the election.

None of this made any sense even with the original allegation. But especially with claims accused rioters are making,[4] the story is only getting weirder. In any event, this is not planning, but rather delusion, even, as with the delusional raging narcissist-in-chief himself,[5] psychosis.[6]

Brad Heath and Sarah N. Lynch, “U.S. says Capitol rioters meant to ‘capture and assassinate’ officials – filing,” Reuters, January 15, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-capitol-arrests/u-s-says-capitol-rioters-meant-to-capture-and-assassinate-officials-filing-idUSKBN29K0K7

Katelyn Polantz, “US takes back its assertion that Capitol rioters wanted to ‘capture and assassinate’ officials,” CNN, January 15, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/15/politics/capitol-capture-assassinate-elected-officials/index.html


Iran

M. Reza Behnam, “Time Present and Time Past: CIA Coup in Iran,” Tikkun, January 14, 2021, https://www.tikkun.org/time-present-and-time-past-cia-coup-in-iran


  1. [1]Brad Heath and Sarah N. Lynch, “U.S. says Capitol rioters meant to ‘capture and assassinate’ officials – filing,” Reuters, January 15, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-capitol-arrests/u-s-says-capitol-rioters-meant-to-capture-and-assassinate-officials-filing-idUSKBN29K0K7
  2. [2]Katelyn Polantz, “US takes back its assertion that Capitol rioters wanted to ‘capture and assassinate’ officials,” CNN, January 15, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/15/politics/capitol-capture-assassinate-elected-officials/index.html
  3. [3]Brad Heath and Sarah N. Lynch, “U.S. says Capitol rioters meant to ‘capture and assassinate’ officials – filing,” Reuters, January 15, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-capitol-arrests/u-s-says-capitol-rioters-meant-to-capture-and-assassinate-officials-filing-idUSKBN29K0K7; Katelyn Polantz, “US takes back its assertion that Capitol rioters wanted to ‘capture and assassinate’ officials,” CNN, January 15, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/15/politics/capitol-capture-assassinate-elected-officials/index.html
  4. [4]Katelyn Polantz, “US takes back its assertion that Capitol rioters wanted to ‘capture and assassinate’ officials,” CNN, January 15, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/15/politics/capitol-capture-assassinate-elected-officials/index.html
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Riot or insurrection? Lies or madness?” Not Housebroken, January 12, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/01/12/riot-or-insurrection-lies-or-madness/
  6. [6]WebMD, “Psychosis and Psychotic Episodes,” July 13, 2019, https://www.webmd.com/schizophrenia/guide/what-is-psychosis#1

What was that that happened on January 6, 2021? (Update #4)

Updates

  1. Originally published, January 11, 2021, 2:28 pm.

  2. January 11, 2021, 11:27 pm:

    • I have understood the presence of right wing militia members in the military to include those who join, seeking training.[1] But it appears there is also a significant problem the other way around, that is, in which militia groups recruit police and military.[2] The Pentagon is apparently aware of a growing hate group problem in its ranks but seems not to be tracking it.[3]

  3. January 12, 2021, 5:32 am:

    • It’s just going completely nuts:

      The [Federal Bureau of Investigation] has intelligence that pro-Donald Trump supporters are planning armed protests in 50 state capitals around the time of Joe Biden’s inauguration, according to reports.

      The agency received information about an “identified armed group intending to travel to Washington DC on 16 January”, according to a briefing obtained by ABC News.

      Warning of a potential “uprising” if the president was removed from office prematurely, the FBI said groups were calling for the “storming” of state, local, and federal government courthouses and administrative buildings if Congress attempts to enact the 25th Amendment prior to Inauguration Day.

      Far-right social media users have discussed actions tied to January 20 for months, but the storming of the US Capitol “energised” the online chatter, said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League.[4]

      I’m not sure this can even realistically happen but “members of the House [of Representatives] Armed Services Committee have made an unusual request that the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command review the some 15,000 troops National Guard troops set to be deployed for the inauguration ‘to ensure that deployed members are not sympathetic to domestic terrorists.’”[5]

      In the past, right wing calls for massive demonstrations have resulted in somewhat less spectacular turnout. But as I’ve earlier explained, this time could be different.[6]

  4. January 12, 2021, 2:51 pm:

  5. January 12, 2021, 10:43 pm:

    • “As of 5 January 2021, FBI Norfolk received information indicating calls for violence in response to ‘unlawful lockdowns’ to begin on 6 January 2021 in Washington, D.C.,” the document says. “An online thread discussed specific calls for violence to include stating ‘Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Pantifa slave soldiers being spilled. Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal.”[7]

    • “We are looking at significant felony cases tied to sedition and conspiracy,” [Michael] Sherwin said at the Justice Department’s first televised news conference since the violent takeover of the Capitol last Wednesday [January 6, 2021].

      “Just yesterday [January 11], our office organized a strike force of very senior national security prosecutors and public corruption prosecutors,” he added. “Their only marching orders from me are to build seditious and conspiracy charges related to the most heinous acts that occurred in the Capitol.”

      Sherwin said that more than 70 people were already facing criminal charges and that he expected that number to grow “geometrically.”

      “I expect that number to grow into the hundreds,” the prosecutor said. “Just the gamut of cases we’re looking at is mind-blowing.”[8]


Donald Trump

There seems to be some question of how to refer to the January 6, 2021, riot in which a mix[9] of right-wing rioters overran the U.S. Capitol, seeking to disrupt a Congressional certification of Joe Biden’s November (2020) election victory.[10] As a scholar, I worry about terminology, partly because I want neither to sensationalize—my conclusions will often be judged sensational regardless[11]— or exaggerate, but particularly when I still think that a more serious uprising may yet occur,[12] and I wish not to minimize that possibility.

It seems not to be a coup, both because it is judged to have lacked sufficient planning and because the military was not involved. But the rejection of the dictionary definition that occurs with the word coup[13] seems not to be happening with the words insurrection and sedition[14] as an article of impeachment introduced in the House of Representatives, which seems likely to pass, indicts Donald Trump for inciting an insurrection.[15]

Bryan Bender, “The military has a hate group problem. But it doesn’t know how bad it’s gotten,” Politico, January 11, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/11/military-right-wing-extremism-457861

Jennifer Haberkorn, “Republicans block House resolution calling on Pence to remove Trump over Capitol riot,” Los Angeles Times, January 11, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-01-11/republicans-block-house-resolution-to-call-on-pence-to-remove-trump-over-capitol-riot

Fiona Hill, “Yes, It Was a Coup. Here’s Why,” Politico, January 11, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/01/11/capitol-riot-self-coup-trump-fiona-hill-457549

Colleen Long, Michael Balsamo, and Michael Kunzelman, “FBI warns of plans for nationwide armed protests next week,” Associated Press, January 11, 2021, copy in possession of author

Andrew G. McCabe and David C. Williams, “Trump’s New Criminal Problem,” Politico, January 11, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/01/11/trumps-new-criminal-problem-457298

Josie Ensor, “Fears for Biden inauguration as FBI warns of ‘armed uprising’ and pro-Trump protests in 50 state capitals,” Telegraph, January 12, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/01/11/fears-biden-inauguration-fbi-warns-armed-pro-trump-protests/

Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney, “DOJ probing sedition in connection with Capitol riot,” Politico, January 12, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/12/capitol-riot-sedition-charges-458309


  1. [1]Lois Beckett, “How the US military has failed to address white supremacy in its ranks,” Guardian, June 24, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/24/us-military-white-supremacy-extremist-plot
  2. [2]Mike Giglio, “A Pro-Trump Militant Group Has Recruited Thousands of Police, Soldiers, and Veterans,” Atlantic, November 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/11/right-wing-militias-civil-war/616473/
  3. [3]Bryan Bender, “The military has a hate group problem. But it doesn’t know how bad it’s gotten,” Politico, January 11, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/11/military-right-wing-extremism-457861
  4. [4]Josie Ensor, “Fears for Biden inauguration as FBI warns of ‘armed uprising’ and pro-Trump protests in 50 state capitals,” Telegraph, January 12, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/01/11/fears-biden-inauguration-fbi-warns-armed-pro-trump-protests/
  5. [5]Josie Ensor, “Fears for Biden inauguration as FBI warns of ‘armed uprising’ and pro-Trump protests in 50 state capitals,” Telegraph, January 12, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/01/11/fears-biden-inauguration-fbi-warns-armed-pro-trump-protests/
  6. [6]David Benfell, “The danger that remains,” Not Housebroken, January 11, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/01/07/the-danger-that-remains/
  7. [7]Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, “FBI report warned of ‘war’ at Capitol, contradicting claims there was no indication of looming violence,” Washington Post, January 12, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/capitol-riot-fbi-intelligence/2021/01/12/30d12748-546b-11eb-a817-e5e7f8a406d6_story.html
  8. [8]Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney, “DOJ probing sedition in connection with Capitol riot,” Politico, January 12, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/12/capitol-riot-sedition-charges-458309
  9. [9]Laura E. Adkins and Emily Burack, “Neo-Nazis, QAnon and Camp Auschwitz: A guide to the hate symbols and signs on display at the Capitol riots,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 7, 2021, https://www.jta.org/2021/01/07/united-states/hate-on-display-your-guide-to-the-symbols-and-signs-on-display-at-the-stop-the-count-insurrection
  10. [10]Ted Barrett, Manu Raju, and Peter Nickeas, “US Capitol secured, woman dead after rioters stormed the halls of Congress to block Biden’s win,” CNN, January 6, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/us-capitol-lockdown/index.html; Talia Lavin, “The Violent Crescendo of the MAGA Conspiracies,” New Republic, January 6, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/160814/trump-protesters-attack-us-capital; Rebecca Tan et al., “Trump supporters storm U.S. Capitol, with one woman killed and tear gas fired,” Washington Post, January 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trump-supporters-storm-capitol-dc/2021/01/06/58afc0b8-504b-11eb-83e3-322644d82356_story.html
  11. [11]David Benfell, “Radicalism and pragmatism,” Not Housebroken, July 19, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/19/radicalism-and-pragmatism/
  12. [12]David Benfell, “The danger that remains,” Not Housebroken, January 9, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/01/07/the-danger-that-remains/
  13. [13]Nicolás Rivero, “Is America experiencing a coup?” Quartz, January 6, 2021, https://qz.com/1953602/is-america-experiencing-a-coup/
  14. [14]Ron Kampeas, “Biden: Capitol marauders are ‘thugs, insurrectionists and anti-Semites’ who should be prosecuted,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 8, 2021, https://www.jta.org/quick-reads/biden-capitol-marauders-are-thugs-insurrectionists-and-anti-semites-who-should-be-prosecuted; Seren Morris, “What Does Insurrection or Sedition Mean? Definition of Words Used To Describe Capitol Riot,” Newsweek, January 7, 2021, https://www.newsweek.com/what-does-insurrection-sedition-mean-definition-capitol-riot-1559745
  15. [15]Jennifer Haberkorn, “Republicans block House resolution calling on Pence to remove Trump over Capitol riot,” Los Angeles Times, January 11, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-01-11/republicans-block-house-resolution-to-call-on-pence-to-remove-trump-over-capitol-riot