Pennsylvania’s lunatic fringe legislature is at it again (Update #2)

There is a new blog post entitled, “Failing to answer the question: Why you should care about other people.”


Updates

  1. Originally published, November 28, 2020, 9:20 pm.
  2. November 29, 2020, 10:02 am:
    • The Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismissed with prejudice a suit brought by Republicans in the state legislature seeking to throw out ballots cast by mail or the entire election saying they had waited too long to challenge a law enabling “no excuse vote-by-mail.”[1]

      That resolution is the one that would withdraw certification of the election results.

      With the Supreme Court decision,[2] I infer that the resolution can be reintroduced and voted on. But Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman does not seem concerned. Meanwhile,

      In a separate blow to [Donald] Trump, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit on Friday rejected his request for an emergency injunction to overturn the certification of Pennsylvania’s election results. That lawsuit claimed Republicans were illegally disadvantaged because some Democratic-leaning counties in the state allowed voters to correct administrative errors on their mail ballots.[3]

      The Circuit Court said the case had “no merit.”[4]

    • Speaking of Donald Trump’s delusions,

      The facts were indisputable: President [Donald] Trump had lost.

      But Trump refused to see it that way. Sequestered in the White House and brooding out of public view after his election defeat, rageful and at times delirious in a torrent of private conversations, Trump was, in the telling of one close adviser, like “Mad King George, muttering, ‘I won. I won. I won.’ ”

      However cleareyed Trump’s aides may have been about his loss to President-elect Joe Biden, many of them nonetheless indulged their boss and encouraged him to keep fighting with legal appeals. They were “happy to scratch his itch,” this adviser said. “If he thinks he won, it’s like, ‘Shh . . . we won’t tell him.’ ”[5]

      The Washington Post has something of an inside account of Trump’s attempts to overturn the election result.[6] It’s still really like the title of my previous blog post, “When it’s over but it isn’t.” It’s not that I think Trump will succeed. It’s that unless Trump now abandons his challenges, the twisting and turning still has a ways to go. He can, for example, appeal adverse decisions in Pennsylvania[7] to the U.S. Supreme Court. Do I think he would succeed there? No. I just don’t think the story is quite yet over.

    • I’ve received notifications from the Allegheny County Health Department imploring people to stay home on much the same grounds as Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf cites here.

      People just aren’t doing it. Traffic on the roads continues to increase. A lot of people are out and about. I had a couple of passengers last night going to a bar on Pittsburgh’s South Side who said they were going before the next lockdown.


Donald Trump

A bunch of Pennsylvania lawmakers have introduced a resolution that would withdraw the certification of the results of the November election.[8] Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman has mocked the effort:

The thread continues, ultimately to four tweets, including what appears to be a video of Pinnochio.

The legislative session ends day after tomorrow (November 30) and all bills and resolutions that haven’t passed die on that date. There’s been no move to put this resolution to a vote.[9]

This is the same legislature that is stonewalling legalized recreational marijuana,[10] has desperately attempted and failed to undo Governor Tom Wolf’s orders meant to contain the pandemic,[11] and takes any excuse it can find to put more guns[12] in the hands of white supremacists.

Jan Murphy, “26 state House Republicans call for withdrawing certification of presidential electors,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 28, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/politics-election/26-state-house-republicans-call-for-withdrawing-certification-of-presidential-electors/

Philip Rucker et al., “20 days of fantasy and failure: Inside Trump’s quest to overturn the election,” Washington Post, November 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-election-overturn/2020/11/28/34f45226-2f47-11eb-96c2-aac3f162215d_story.html

Elise Viebeck, “Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismisses lawsuit against mail ballots with prejudice in another defeat for Trump,” Washington Post, November 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/pennsylvania-supreme-court-dismisses-lawsuit-against-mail-ballots-with-prejudice-in-another-defeat-for-trump/2020/11/28/d1d50ef4-31d2-11eb-96c2-aac3f162215d_story.html


  1. [1]Elise Viebeck, “Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismisses lawsuit against mail ballots with prejudice in another defeat for Trump,” Washington Post, November 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/pennsylvania-supreme-court-dismisses-lawsuit-against-mail-ballots-with-prejudice-in-another-defeat-for-trump/2020/11/28/d1d50ef4-31d2-11eb-96c2-aac3f162215d_story.html
  2. [2]Elise Viebeck, “Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismisses lawsuit against mail ballots with prejudice in another defeat for Trump,” Washington Post, November 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/pennsylvania-supreme-court-dismisses-lawsuit-against-mail-ballots-with-prejudice-in-another-defeat-for-trump/2020/11/28/d1d50ef4-31d2-11eb-96c2-aac3f162215d_story.html
  3. [3]Elise Viebeck, “Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismisses lawsuit against mail ballots with prejudice in another defeat for Trump,” Washington Post, November 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/pennsylvania-supreme-court-dismisses-lawsuit-against-mail-ballots-with-prejudice-in-another-defeat-for-trump/2020/11/28/d1d50ef4-31d2-11eb-96c2-aac3f162215d_story.html
  4. [4]Elise Viebeck, “Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismisses lawsuit against mail ballots with prejudice in another defeat for Trump,” Washington Post, November 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/pennsylvania-supreme-court-dismisses-lawsuit-against-mail-ballots-with-prejudice-in-another-defeat-for-trump/2020/11/28/d1d50ef4-31d2-11eb-96c2-aac3f162215d_story.html
  5. [5]Philip Rucker et al., “20 days of fantasy and failure: Inside Trump’s quest to overturn the election,” Washington Post, November 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-election-overturn/2020/11/28/34f45226-2f47-11eb-96c2-aac3f162215d_story.html
  6. [6]Philip Rucker et al., “20 days of fantasy and failure: Inside Trump’s quest to overturn the election,” Washington Post, November 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-election-overturn/2020/11/28/34f45226-2f47-11eb-96c2-aac3f162215d_story.html
  7. [7]Elise Viebeck, “Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismisses lawsuit against mail ballots with prejudice in another defeat for Trump,” Washington Post, November 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/pennsylvania-supreme-court-dismisses-lawsuit-against-mail-ballots-with-prejudice-in-another-defeat-for-trump/2020/11/28/d1d50ef4-31d2-11eb-96c2-aac3f162215d_story.html
  8. [8]Jan Murphy, “26 state House Republicans call for withdrawing certification of presidential electors,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 28, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/politics-election/26-state-house-republicans-call-for-withdrawing-certification-of-presidential-electors/
  9. [9]Jan Murphy, “26 state House Republicans call for withdrawing certification of presidential electors,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 28, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/politics-election/26-state-house-republicans-call-for-withdrawing-certification-of-presidential-electors/
  10. [10]WTAE, “New bill to legalize recreational marijuana unveiled by state lawmaker from Pittsburgh,” February 20, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/recreational-marijuana-bill-pittsburgh-state-rep-jake-wheatley/31025380
  11. [11]Associated Press, “Pennsylvania GOP seeks to dismantle Wolf’s shutdown,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 9, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/pennsylvania-gop-seeks-to-dismantle-wolfs-shutdown/; Associated Press, “Pennsylvania Republicans Mount New Challenge To Gov. Tom Wolf’s Pandemic Power,” KDKA, July 14, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/07/14/republicans-mount-new-challenge-to-governors-pandemic-power/; Elizabeth Hardison and Stephen Caruso, “Pa. Supreme Court throws out GOP challenge to Wolf’s COVID-19 emergency order,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, July 1, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/covid-19/pa-supreme-court-throws-out-gop-challenge-to-wolfs-covid-19-emergency-order/; Nick Matoney, “‘We can’t do this for another 90 days’: Pa. General Assembly votes to end COVID-19 emergency declaration,” WTAE, June 10, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/we-cant-do-this-for-another-90-days-pa-general-assembly-votes-to-end-covid-19-emergency-declaration/32821325; 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/
  12. [12]Associated Press, “Gov. Tom Wolf Vetoes Bills On Firearms During Emergencies And Gas Drilling Regulation,” KDKA, November 26, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/11/26/wolf-vetoes-three-bills/; Stephen Caruso, “Pro 2nd Amendment lawmakers want to let you carry a gun during an emergency,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, July 7, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/government-politics/pro-2nd-amendment-lawmakers-want-to-let-you-carry-a-gun-during-an-emergency/; Jon Delano, “Lawrence Co. Lawmaker Wants To Abolish Concealed Carry Gun Permits,” KDKA, May 7, 2019, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2019/05/07/aaron-bernstine-abolish-pennsylvania-concealed-carry-law/

The pandemic’s fall surge in Allegheny County (Update #4)

Updates

  1. Originally published, November 15, 2020, 11:55 am.

  2. November 15, 2020, 9:24 pm:

    • So I guess today was a howler. I had noticed a series of traffic lights along Greentree Road, west of the intersection with Cochran were out. Later, I was driving up Lime Hollow Road in Penn Hills and was grateful for my very, very bright LED high beams because that road had been plunged into utter darkness (the new moon was just after midnight this morning). Then I happened to be driving past the gas station I usually stop at at the end of my day to fill my tank and noticed all the lights were out. They close at 10 pm anyway, so I surmised, correctly as it turned out, that there’d been a power outage that had lasted long enough that they’d just decided to close early.

      So when I finished my day, I stopped at a different gas station and then drove home. After I parked my car in my garage, I walked across the street to the parking lot nearest my apartment and noticed that one of three evergreen trees near the street by that lot had toppled. I’d just been mourning the tree that got cut down for Pittsburgh’s city Christmas tree. Now here was another one, literally a lot closer to home.

      Of course when I got home, I had to turn back on various filters, fans, and heaters (I keep air moving). But it appears my uninterruptible power supply kept my desktop system up so the outage can’t have been that long.

    • The Allegheny County Health Department had stopped sending out daily updates on COVID-19 cases on Sunday. This evening, at 5:50 pm, they made an exception, as the daily case count climbed to “an all-time high of 527 cases.” They are warning that they will have to take action, quoting the Director of the Health Department, Debra Bogen, saying,

      Doing nothing is no longer an option as we must protect our healthcare workers, both at hospital and long-term care facilities, and our first responders during this health crisis. People are doing well in structured settings, but we continue to see more and more cases as a result of unmonitored, private social gatherings.

      The notice does not say what actions will be taken and given the apparent unwillingness of the public to comply with health measures, I’m expecting a spike about two weeks after each of the three major upcoming holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years). This looks like it could be really, really ugly.

  3. November 16, 2020, 9:38 am:

    • A few folks are worried about what’s going to happen nationally with the pandemic as we go through the holiday season (see previous update). The Wall Street Journal has a story that shows what happens when people succumb to “pandemic fatigue.”[1]

      “A lot of people just feel like I’m through with Covid, I’ve done all I can,” said Dr. [Bruce] Dennis, who recently suffered his own bout of the virus, along with his wife, daughter, son-in-law, and 6-month-old grandchild. “It’s now just really time to start.”

      For months after the pandemic began, Shawna Sero stayed cooped up at home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, refusing to go out with friends. With asthma and a weak immune system, the 40-year-old was terrified about getting infected, she said.

      But after watching the Iowa Hawkeyes’ first football game of the season with her parents and siblings at home a few weekends ago, she let her guard down and decided to go to a bar with a friend.

      “I just wanted to keep having fun,” she said. “It had been so long.”

      Last week, Ms. Sero lay in a bed in a converted pediatric unit of Mercy Medical Center texting with her sister several floors down. She had been admitted to the hospital a couple of days earlier, struggling to breathe after testing positive for Covid-19. Her 42-year-old sister, also Covid-19 positive, was now in the emergency room, seeking relief from a cough so intense it sometimes made her vomit.

      The rest of the family was showing symptoms too: her 37-year-old brother, Bobby Sero, who had tested positive and was texting the sisters from the master bedroom of his home where he was holed up to prevent his wife and five children from infection; their father, a 60-year-old diabetic, who hasn’t wanted to go to the hospital despite feeling sick; and their 59-year-old mother, who moved out at the end of October after a divorce and was awaiting test results at her new Illinois home.[2]

      I think there really are limits to what people can do. But some people are taking that inch and turning it into a mile, as with assholes going to the South Side in Pittsburgh (see original text below). Their selfishness makes it worse—lethally worse—for the rest of us.

      That said, it would help a lot if politicians would take the pandemic seriously enough to actually do something about the economic effects[3] of further restrictions rather than just refusing to impose those restrictions.[4] But of course, neoliberal dogma forbids it.

  4. November 16, 2020, 10:13 pm:

    • What is Donald Trump up to, really? Really, we don’t know. Fred Hiatt outlines three possibilities.[5] Personally, I just think Trump is batshit crazy, which most resembles Hiatt’s scenario #3, but I don’t know either. His scenario #1 is essentially the electoral college manipulation[6] I’ve been talking about, which I think could draw in armed militia groups.[7] At this point, scenario #1 is probably—only probably—the least likely, but Hiatt doesn’t rule it out,[8] and I think really, he’s right not to. Scenario #2 looks a lot like the parallel government idea that Jonathan Freedland put forth.[9] This, too, could draw in the militia groups.


Pandemic

I had a passenger yesterday who was going to Pittsburgh’s South Side—the principal neighborhood to get drunk, get tattoos, and do other stupid shit—he said, for the first time since March. He had decided, and indeed told his parents, that it was “worth it,” as if he were the only one at risk from his behavior. This, even as COVID-19 cases in Allegheny County are spiking to previously unseen heights following Halloween festivities.[10] I only occasionally see even this much caution.

The surge in Allegheny County echoes what’s happening around the country,[11] but the appearance here to me is that people are just ignoring it. Some wear masks; many do not. Social distancing is rarely observed. I hear many passengers talk about getting together with their families pretty much like any other year.

The pandemic is bad. It’s getting worse. And I have doubts that even if authorities were to impose another lockdown—for now, they seem to be sticking to[12] their earlier line that they won’t impose another lockdown[13]—that people would comply. It isn’t just young people and it isn’t even just people I would identify as conservative.[14] It’s everybody.

Shelby Cassesse, “Coronavirus In Pittsburgh: Allegheny County Seeing Substantial Transmission Rate,” KDKA, November 14, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/11/14/rising-coronavirus-cases-allegheny-county/

Betsy McKay and Erin Ailworth, “Covid Is Resurging, and This Time It’s Everywhere,” Wall Street Journal, November 16, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-covid-surge-u-s-restrictions-11605466754


Uber

It seems Uber is trying to reduce its exposure to the costs of developing self-driving car technology, which is unlikely to be ready for prime time anytime soon, by selling at least a stake to other players.[15] This strikes me as a climb down from former CEO Travis Kalanick’s assertion that the technology was “existential” for Uber and current CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s doubling down on the technology even as there were well-founded doubts that this could even remotely play as they hoped.[16]

What has to be remarkable here is the pass Uber and Lyft get. As I’ve previously noted, they hemorrhage money in a realm where profit is supposedly what matters and have no realistic prospect for making money, even if they succeed with self-driving technology.[17]

Now, any job I’ve ever had, I’ve actually had to show results. Even at Linuxcare, when I found myself spinning my wheels, I found my way into roles where I was productive. Even now, driving for Uber and Lyft, I actually have to pick passengers up, get them to where they’re going, and drop them off. I don’t get to just burn money.

But I guess these companies are special. Because now what we’re seeing is that even as Uber climbs down even from the one ill-founded hope that it could ever be profitable, there’s no talk whatsoever of shutting it down. Indeed, their executives make ludicrous amounts of money while I get less than minimum wage and live in continuous financial terror.[18] This discrepancy alone has to be proof that capitalism is theft.

Kirsten Korosec, “Uber in talks to sell ATG self-driving unit to Aurora,” TechCrunch, November 13, 2020, https://techcrunch.com/2020/11/13/uber-in-talks-to-sell-atg-self-driving-unit-to-aurora/


Worst president

There are a number of candidates for worst president in U.S. history,[19] but Joe Biden and James Buchanan both hail from Pennsylvania.[20]

It’s been my observation since Richard Nixon that each president is worse than his predecessor, largely due to the embrace of neoconservatism and especially, its moral imperative, neoliberalism. I wait with bated breath to see just how Joe Biden will manage to be worse than Donald Trump (probably by embracing and extending the latter’s policies, just as Barack Obama did with George W. Bush).

Paul Guggenheimer, “James Buchanan not a tough act to follow for Biden as 2nd president from Pennsylvania,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 15, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/buchanan-not-a-tough-act-to-follow-for-biden-as-2nd-president-from-pennsylvania/


Transition

Marissa J. Lang et al., “After thousands of Trump supporters rally in D.C., violence erupts when night falls,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2020/11/14/million-maga-march-dc-protests/

Fred Hiatt, “Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wants-to-overturn-the-results-of-a-free-and-fair-election-theres-a-word-for-that/2020/11/13/cb94b77e-25b6-11eb-952e-0c475972cfc0_story.html


  1. [1]Betsy McKay and Erin Ailworth, “Covid Is Resurging, and This Time It’s Everywhere,” Wall Street Journal, November 16, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-covid-surge-u-s-restrictions-11605466754
  2. [2]Betsy McKay and Erin Ailworth, “Covid Is Resurging, and This Time It’s Everywhere,” Wall Street Journal, November 16, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-covid-surge-u-s-restrictions-11605466754
  3. [3]David Benfell, “The mysterious expectation that elites give a damn,” Not Housebroken, October 15, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/01/the-mysterious-expectation-that-elites-give-a-damn/
  4. [4]Betsy McKay and Erin Ailworth, “Covid Is Resurging, and This Time It’s Everywhere,” Wall Street Journal, November 16, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-covid-surge-u-s-restrictions-11605466754
  5. [5]Fred Hiatt, “Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wants-to-overturn-the-results-of-a-free-and-fair-election-theres-a-word-for-that/2020/11/13/cb94b77e-25b6-11eb-952e-0c475972cfc0_story.html
  6. [6]Max Boot, “What if Trump loses but insists he won?” Washington Post, July 6, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/06/what-if-trump-loses-insists-he-won/; Rosa Brooks, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Washington Post, September 3, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/09/03/trump-stay-in-office/; Marjorie Cohn, “Trump’s Frivolous Lawsuits Are the Tip of the Iceberg in His Refusal to Concede,” Truthout, November 11, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-frivolous-lawsuits-are-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-in-his-refusal-to-concede/; Eric Lach, “What Happens if Donald Trump Fights the Election Results?” New Yorker, August 21, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/campaign-chronicles/what-happens-if-donald-trump-fights-the-election-results; Robert McCartney, “Here’s one way Trump could try to steal the election, voting experts say,” Washington Post, August 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/heres-one-way-trump-could-try-to-steal-the-election-voting-experts-say/2020/08/16/b5bf0c2a-de66-11ea-b205-ff838e15a9a6_story.html; Timothy E. Wirth and Tom Rogers, “How Trump Could Lose the Election—And Still Remain President,” Newsweek, July 3, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/how-trump-could-lose-election-still-remain-president-opinion-1513975
  7. [7]David Benfell, “Bloody November,” Not Housebroken, October 13, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/08/bloody-november/; David Benfell, “Donald Trump’s ‘brown shirts,’” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/30/donald-trumps-brown-shirts/; David Benfell, “The very scary way to four more years,” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/25/the-very-scary-way-to-four-more-years/; David Benfell, “Epistemology in the present U.S. political crisis,” Not Housebroken, November 14, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/12/epistemology-in-the-present-u-s-political-crisis/
  8. [8]Fred Hiatt, “Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wants-to-overturn-the-results-of-a-free-and-fair-election-theres-a-word-for-that/2020/11/13/cb94b77e-25b6-11eb-952e-0c475972cfc0_story.html
  9. [9]Jonathan Freedland, “This is no conventional coup. Trump is paving the way for a ‘virtual Confederacy,'” Guardian, November 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/13/trump-coup-virtual-confederacy-race-legal-trumpian
  10. [10]Shelby Cassesse, “Coronavirus In Pittsburgh: Allegheny County Seeing Substantial Transmission Rate,” KDKA, November 14, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/11/14/rising-coronavirus-cases-allegheny-county/
  11. [11]Antonia Noori Farzan et al. “U.S. surpasses 64,000 new coronavirus infections two days in a row for first time since late July,” Washington Post, October 16, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/10/16/coronavirus-covid-live-updates-us/; Elliot Hannon, “Trump Says “We’re Rounding the Turn” the Same Day the U.S. Approaches Record Number of New Coronavirus Cases,” Slate, October 23, 2020, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/10/u-s-record-coronavirus-single-day-cases-trump-debate-declares-country-rounding-the-turn.html; Karen Kaplan, “U.S. deaths are about 300,000 higher than expected since the coronavirus arrived,” Los Angeles Times, October 20, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2020-10-20/excess-deaths-in-united-states-since-coronavirus-arrived; Hannah Knowles and Jacqueline Dupree, “Full hospitals, talk of rationing care: New wave of coronavirus cases strains resources,” Washington Post, October 25, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/10/25/coronavirus-cases-hospitalizations-surge/; Betsy McKay and Erin Ailworth, “Covid Is Resurging, and This Time It’s Everywhere,” Wall Street Journal, November 16, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-covid-surge-u-s-restrictions-11605466754; Derek Thompson, “The COVID-19 Fall Surge Is Here. We Can Stop It,” Atlantic, October 12, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/10/how-keep-fall-surge-becoming-winter-catastrophe/616674/; William Wan and Jacqueline Dupree, “America hits highest daily number of coronavirus cases since pandemic began,” Washington Post, October 23, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/10/23/covid-us-spike-cases/
  12. [12]Shelby Cassesse, “Coronavirus In Pittsburgh: Allegheny County Seeing Substantial Transmission Rate,” KDKA, November 14, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/11/14/rising-coronavirus-cases-allegheny-county/
  13. [13]Megan Guza, “Pa. health officials aim to avoid shutdown despite covid uptick,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 14, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/pa-health-officials-aim-to-avoid-shutdown-despite-covid-uptick/
  14. [14]John Shumway, “‘People Don’t Care’: Recent Jump In Allegheny County Coronavirus Cases Linked To People In Their 20s, 30s,” KDKA, June 23, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/23/jump-in-allegheny-county-coronavirus-cases-linked-to-young-people/
  15. [15]Kirsten Korosec, “Uber in talks to sell ATG self-driving unit to Aurora,” TechCrunch, November 13, 2020, https://techcrunch.com/2020/11/13/uber-in-talks-to-sell-atg-self-driving-unit-to-aurora/
  16. [16]Rich Alton, “Basic economics means Uber and Lyft can’t rely on driverless cars to become profitable,” MarketWatch, August 12, 2019, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/basic-economics-means-uber-and-lyft-cant-rely-on-driverless-cars-to-become-profitable-2019-08-12; Eliot Brown, “Uber Wants to Be the Uber of Everything—But Can It Make a Profit?” Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-wants-to-be-the-uber-of-everything-11556909866; Richard Durant, “Uber’s Profitability Problem Is Structural,” Seeking Alpha, August 21, 2019, https://seekingalpha.com/article/4287055-ubers-profitability-problem-structural; Ryan Felton, “Uber Is Doomed,” Jalopnik, February 24, 2017, https://jalopnik.com/uber-is-doomed-1792634203; Christopher Mims, “In a Tight Labor Market, Gig Workers Get Harder to Please,” Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-a-tight-labor-market-gig-workers-get-harder-to-please-11556942404
  17. [17]David Benfell, “Proof of investor irrationality: The case of Uber (and Lyft),” Not Housebroken, August 22, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/22/proof-of-investor-irrationality-the-case-of-uber-and-lyft/
  18. [18]David Benfell, “Tax time,” Not Housebroken, July 14, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/07/14/tax-time/
  19. [19]Nicholas Goldberg, “Is Trump the worst president ever? He’s got some competition,” Los Angeles Times, October 20, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-10-20/the-worst-president-in-american-history
  20. [20]Paul Guggenheimer, “James Buchanan not a tough act to follow for Biden as 2nd president from Pennsylvania,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 15, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/buchanan-not-a-tough-act-to-follow-for-biden-as-2nd-president-from-pennsylvania/

Certainly not just my imagination: Pittsburgh is a “hub” for white supremacism. (Update #2)

Updates

  1. Originally published, November 13, 2020, 11:36 am.
  2. November 13, 2020, 9:41 pm:
    • Jonathan Freedland thinks that even as Donald Trump is utterly failing in his attempts to challenge the election results and clearly resisting those results,[1] he is preparing to set up a sort of “government in exile,” running in parallel with Joe Biden’s presidency, to undermine the latter.[2] On the other hand, Trump might just be aiming to set up a competitor to Fox News.[3] Either way, Freedland is right that something like half the country does not accept Biden as having won the election[4]—I still see lots of Trump signs, banners and flags as I drive around Pittsburgh—and either plan would exacerbate this situation. Which Trump undoubtedly wants to do.

Donald Trump

There is a new blog post from yesterday, entitled, “Epistemology in the present U.S. political crisis.”

Mike Allen, “Trump eyes digital media empire to take on Fox News,” Axios, November 12, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-fox-news-digital-media-competitor-25afddee-144d-4820-8ed4-9eb0ffa42420.html

Jonathan Freedland, “This is no conventional coup. Trump is paving the way for a ‘virtual Confederacy,'” Guardian, November 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/13/trump-coup-virtual-confederacy-race-legal-trumpian


Pittsburgh

The Federal Bureau of Investigation says Pittsburgh is a “hub” for white supremacism, including, possibly, violent white supremacism. The FBI is limited in its investigations because much of the activity is talk—speech, protected by the First Amendment—and not actually criminal.[5]

Ewan Palmer, “FBI Warn White Supremacist Activity in Pittsburgh Among Highest in Country,” Newsweek, November 13, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/pittsburgh-white-supremacist-fbi-far-right-1547149


  1. [1]Aaron Blake, “Trump lawyers suffer embarrassing rebukes from judges over voter fraud claims,” Washington Post, November 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/11/11/trump-lawyers-suffer-embarrassing-rebukes-judges-over-voter-fraud-claims/; Marjorie Cohn, “Trump’s Frivolous Lawsuits Are the Tip of the Iceberg in His Refusal to Concede,” Truthout, November 11, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-frivolous-lawsuits-are-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-in-his-refusal-to-concede/
  2. [2]Jonathan Freedland, “This is no conventional coup. Trump is paving the way for a ‘virtual Confederacy,'” Guardian, November 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/13/trump-coup-virtual-confederacy-race-legal-trumpian
  3. [3]Mike Allen, “Trump eyes digital media empire to take on Fox News,” Axios, November 12, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-fox-news-digital-media-competitor-25afddee-144d-4820-8ed4-9eb0ffa42420.html
  4. [4]Jonathan Freedland, “This is no conventional coup. Trump is paving the way for a ‘virtual Confederacy,'” Guardian, November 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/13/trump-coup-virtual-confederacy-race-legal-trumpian
  5. [5]Ewan Palmer, “FBI Warn White Supremacist Activity in Pittsburgh Among Highest in Country,” Newsweek, November 13, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/pittsburgh-white-supremacist-fbi-far-right-1547149

The pandemic and universities, with a dose of psychopathy

Higher Education

Though my father earned his B.S. in Electrical Engineering at Washington State University, in Pullman, the most I’d heard about the school, really, was seeing the diploma he always hung on a wall in the places we (and he) lived. It turns out that Pullman is now a COVID-19 hotspot, probably because of college students returning to the area, and that coincidentally, cases have spiked among nursing home residents in the area, though no direct relationship has been established.[1]

That ought to concern the Pittsburgh area, where a number of major universities and a bunch of smaller ones sit in the middle of an area with an aging population, and many, many, many senior facilities. And where cases at the University of Pittsburgh (“Pitt”) have recently spiked.[2] Indeed, according to notifications I receive daily on my phone, the Allegheny County case counts have risen dramatically, though again, I should caution that the causal relationship—especially its direction—here is unclear.

My connection to Stanford University, really, isn’t much less tenuous. But the story about the Hoover Institute[3] inspires a new blog post entitled, “Intellectual respectability for psychopaths.”

Francie Diep, “In This Rural College Town, Covid-19 Was Scarce. Then the Students Came Back,” Chronicle of Higher Education, November 6, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/in-this-rural-college-town-covid-19-was-scarce-then-the-students-came-back

Tom Bartlett, “Why Some Stanford Professors Want the Hoover Institution Gone,” Chronicle of Higher Education, November 9, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/why-some-stanford-professors-want-the-hoover-institution-gone


  1. [1]Francie Diep, “In This Rural College Town, Covid-19 Was Scarce. Then the Students Came Back,” Chronicle of Higher Education, November 6, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/in-this-rural-college-town-covid-19-was-scarce-then-the-students-came-back
  2. [2]Paul Guggenheimer, “Pitt issues shelter-in-place order to students due to covid surge,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 8, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pitt-issues-shelter-in-place-order-to-students-due-to-covid-surge/
  3. [3]Tom Bartlett, “Why Some Stanford Professors Want the Hoover Institution Gone,” Chronicle of Higher Education, November 9, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/why-some-stanford-professors-want-the-hoover-institution-gone

What way forward? (Update #2)

Updates

  1. Originally published, November 9, 2020, 2:15 pm.
  2. November 9, 2020, 6:34 pm:
    • Kimberly Holland explains that the five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It doesn’t always follow precisely this pattern and there are other theories about stages of grief.[1] But I think we’re still in the denial stage and I guess I’m wondering what, with a delusional raging narcissist, the remaining stages will look like.
    • So you do remember those other options that Donald Trump might pursue as he desperately seeks to stave off defeat?[2]

      Republicans control both houses of the Pennsylvania legislature. Oh, and as for those right-wing militia groups I’ve been worried about?[3] I doubt we know how active, how deadly they may yet prove to be. But we are already seeing violence: “Already Trump’s unfounded accusations of fraud have inspired an attempted armed attack on the Philadelphia convention center and bomb threats against the mall next to the convention center, not to mention the plot to kidnap the governor of Michigan.”[4]

    • Meanwhile,

It turns out I’m down today. The car needs a rear brake job pretty badly.


Election

Mark Bray, “Trump’s Baseless Fraud Accusations Are Already Sparking Far Right Violence,” Truthout, November 9, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-baseless-fraud-accusations-are-already-sparking-far-right-violence/


Higher Education

At one point, according to the notifications I receive daily, Allegheny County daily case counts had dropped below 50. Now they’re over 200. Only some of this is due to increased testing.

Paul Guggenheimer, “Pitt issues shelter-in-place order to students due to covid surge,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 8, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pitt-issues-shelter-in-place-order-to-students-due-to-covid-surge/



Discourse

There’s a lot of merit in N. K. Jemisin’s Twitter thread,[5] which I reproduce below and I’m mostly going to just leave it there. But I have some quibbles.

First, there are actually really serious problems with voting, apart even from arithmetic reality, when meaningful options are limited to anti-environmentalist, warmongering, criminal capitalists who are, it sometimes seems more often than not, also racists and rapists.[6] The bipartisan record is simply appalling and to try to suss out one party as better than the other when one serves to give cruel policies a “bipartisan” imprimatur, enabling the other to push ever more cruel policies, and then embracing and extending those policies itself, is simply disingenuous.[7]

Second, the differences that divide this country are not just about stories. There are profound differences in values that cannot be wished away, where there is contention even over what even constitutes that “better life” we allegedly all aspire to. Off the top of my head:

  • Individualism (“freedom”)[8] versus Community (“compassion” and “empathy”)
  • Human Rights for Some (social conservatives)[9] versus Human Rights for All
  • White Supremacism (sometimes cast as “culture”[10] or a perceived need for “others” to assimilate) versus diversity and inclusion
  • National Interest as world hegemony (neoconservatism) and capitalist exploitation (neoliberalism) versus National Interest as peace and justice for all[11]
  • Security as domination over others (authoritarianism) versus security in peace and justice for all[12]
  • A demand for unlimited capitalist economic growth versus the limits of a finite planet
  • Capitalism versus Human Rights (housing, health care, adequate food, self-actualization)[13], or even more fundamentally, a notion that human beings may serve only as means to rich and powerful ends against the categorical imperative that each person must be an end in themself.

“Moderation” can offer no answer to these differences because 1) it doesn’t actually have any coherence whatsoever anyway, and 2) these differences take binary form: You are either on one side or the other. There is no meaningful “middle ground” and the imagination that there is bears all the substance of magical thinking.

Third, Jemisin is flatly wrong to diminish the importance of economics. Yes, a lot of assholes were assholes to start with. But when it comes to what increases the toxicity,

The grievances have their roots in the industrialization of this valley—and the mistrust of authority figures is a direct result of the big bargain people here [in southwest Pennsylvania] made—a deal that turned out to be a lie.

During most of the 20th Century, if you worked for our major industrial employers—companies such as US Steel, Jones & Laughlin, Westinghouse Electric or Union Switch & Signal—you knew they were poisoning our air and water, and you knew that you stood a decent chance of being injured or maimed on the job.

The bargain was that, with the protection of industrial trade unions, you were paid well, and when you retired, you had a pension waiting.

In the 1980s, we kept up our side, but US Steel diversified into oil refining and closed down much of its steel production, Westinghouse Electric merged with CBS and exited manufacturing altogether, Union Switch & Signal went overseas, and Jones & Laughlin (by then known as LTV) imploded after two bankruptcies. Pension plans were liquidated for pennies on the dollar or bailed out by the federal government.

Corporate America left Western Pennsylvania a toxic mess, both literally and figuratively, and stripped away our livelihoods and identities. Of course we’re bitter.

When that crash hit, those who could moved away. Those who couldn’t tended to be mid-career Baby Boomers with mortgaged houses that suddenly couldn’t be sold at any price. Those folks are now in their 60s, 70s and 80s, and many of them still very, very aggrieved.[14]

Sure, it’s tempting to just label the other side bigots, particularly when your side, being complicit with that other side in a so-called “Washington Consensus,”[15] has been promoting the neoconservatism and neoliberalism that shipped a lot of well-paying jobs overseas and fucked over everybody who wasn’t wealthy, white, and preferably male.[16] When judging people, as Jemisin does, you should be prepared to walk a mile in their shoes.

While I don’t buy into the authoritarian populist bigotry, I know my response to anyone who judges my own fury harshly is simple: Try going over nineteen years without being able to find a real job, even having in that time returned to school, finished a B.A., an M.A., and a Ph.D.[17] Until they’ve done that, their arrogance is beyond breathtaking; it sucks all the air out of the room. My experience, albeit not so much in southwestern Pennsylvania, is what leads me to acknowledge that yes, damn it, on this point, authoritarian populists have a point.[18]

Fourth, I think there’s real insight in the “snacks” versus “wholesome meals” metaphor for “sound bites” versus nuanced portrayals of situations, but it’s curious that Jemisin then treats this superficially as a “marketing/PR” problem because, to me, it points to something deeper.

But then, his treatment of class issues is similarly superficial—no, not all Trump supporters are well off whites by a very long shot. I see those Confederate flags and those Trump flags and those thin blue line flags at least as often outside working class homes. All that said . . .

source on threadreaderapp.com
Archived at 2020-11-09 08:44:51

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N. K. Jemisin

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8 Nov, 27 tweets, 5 min read

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OK. Now that the dust is clearing on the election, there’s a thing us liberals, leftists, not-centrists, whateverthefuck we call ourselves, are going to have to work on: our storytelling. (Thread.)

It’s not that the right is better at storytelling. It’s that their stories are simpler, more viscerally satisfying. “A Black woman stole your job!” “They want your guns!” Easy, reductive us vs them, you in danger girl level stuff. Even when it’s not true, it provokes a reaction.

These stories are like snacks. They satisfy a (forbidden?) craving. They have good mouth-feel. They make you want more. Thing is, try to *live* on snacks and you’ll die of malnutrition.

The left’s story is a meal. Some crave-able comfort food, but also stuff that’s good for you.

But “eat your veggies” is always going to be a harder sell than “have another snack.” (Vegetarians sit down, I’m making a point. :P) So the problem isn’t that the left doesn’t understand the right. It’s that we learned to like (or at least eat) veggies too, and they… didn’t.

A lot of left analysis I’m seeing rt now disregards this. “We need to understand why these people love salt.” Bitch, no, everybody loves salt, some of us just moderate. “We need to sell snacks, too!” That’s an uphill climb – and it elides the fact that snacks are *bad for you.*

Leftist points *can* be distilled into simple visceral stories, sure. “Eat the rich.” “Defund police.” But they don’t hit as hard bc they’re shorthand for complex topics. Like kale chips – superficially snacky, actually good for you, offputting to ppl who prefer potato chips.

Also? Ppl who choose to live on snacks aren’t doing so for any rational reason. It’s literally killing them. They’re doing it anyway because it satisfies some other impulse: in-group approval, a sense of power over a complex and changing world. Snacks are soothing that way.

You cannot reason with folks who’ve chosen to do something against their interest, because their interest isn’t what *you* think it is. They probably know America is better off unified and equal… but ooh, it feels so good to hurt others.

Some folks just got raised wrong.

So I’m not concerned about them, personally. Folks like that might fix themselves, but *you’re* not gonna do it. What concerns me is *leftists* falling for snack-style stories. Way too many of y’all buy into the right’s “both sides” nonsense, or “white working class” rhetoric.

(As a reminder, both sides are *not* equally bad, and Trump’s base is actually wealthy white people. About half the working class is BIPoC and they are disproportionately disabled, queer, immigrant – groups the right hates. “It’s about the white working class” framing is a lie.)

And here is where the failure of storytelling kicks in. Why do leftists – people who ostensibly believe in a balanced diet – continually fall for this malnourished bullshit logic?

Same reason right-wingers do: bc on some level these leftists prefer snacks to good nutrition.

We see it again and again – reductive class analysis that ignores the impact of race and other intersections. White pundits who empathize with racists but find BIPoC equality terrifying (“cancel culture!!!1!”). Black male hip hop stars who throw their own people under the bus.

Some of this is human nature. We often draw causal connections that don’t have much to do with logic (e.g. superstition). Some of it is culture. Capitalism is a doctrine of selfishness, after all, and most of us have been indoctrinated with it from childhood.

But a lot of it is that many leftists have chosen false simplicity over the complex, often bitter flavors of truth. “Whiteness is the core of America’s problems? That can’t be true*. I’d rather believe [salty snack #1].”

*It can be. But it’s more complex than “white ppl bad.”

Somehow we have to get these folks to swallow “it’s the racism, stupid” pills without choking on them and vomiting back Trumpian talking points.

I have no solution for this, btw. I’m trying to tell good stories, but mine are kind of long and chewy. Not very snackable.

End of day, this is probably a question for marketing/PR people to answer, since their specialty is very short stories. But it’s important to target those stories at the right audience. Not everybody likes everything, after all. My books aren’t super-popular in the Western aisle.

So, know your audience. Stop trying to sell wholesome meals to ppl who’ve chosen to live on chips – hell, half the reason they’re doing that is to spite you. Focus on folks who claim to want good food but are eating a lot of crap. Remind them that salt is not a food group.

And more importantly, focus on those who already know the complex stories, but don’t trust the storytellers. The BIPoC who don’t vote completely get that it’s the racism – but they don’t think leftist politicians do. Because the best-known leftist politicians *don’t* get it.

That’s the danger of class reductionists & white liberal pundits who sound straight out of MLK’s Letter From A Birmingham Jail – more devoted to “order” than justice, constantly cautioning BIPoC to put their needs off for the greater good. Nobody likes a story with a bad ending.

The great non-voting masses of America have fallen prey not only to voter suppression, but also the stories told by GOP/billionaire think tanks: voting is meaningless, both sides are bad, doesn’t matter who’s in charge, life will always suck. This is a narrative we must counter.

And the way to do it is NOT with messages of conciliation toward fascists, or unity with bigots. Not by handwaving consequences because trials and equality are too hard. The way to do it is to SHOW people (don’t tell!) that who they vote for matters. That justice is possible.

We all want life to be better. But we have a chance right now to achieve the positive peace which is the presence of justice, to paraphrase MLK, and not just negative peace which is the absence of conflict. Elevate the powerless, not the powerful. Focus on justice, not “unity.”

Put some fucking Republicans in jail. (Prob the biggest reason I can’t commit to prison abolition; I want these mfs to die in prison.) Put ICE officers in jail if they raped or abused immigrants. Put bad cops in jail.

When we lack stories to tell, actions speak loudest.

And a big, important story we need to be telling right now is just how terrifying the vote is, to fascists. Fortunately they’ve helped tell that story themselves, by repeatedly attacking people’s ability to vote. It’s clearly important. Leftists need to double down on that.

So that’s all I got, from one storyteller to the many others out there. Hope it helps.

Belated add, since some are tossing around lefty snack stories now: again, those are a hard sell bc nuance reduces poorly & capitalism indocs the opposite. But my suggestion: “You’re better off if your neighbor is, too.” Doesn’t rhyme, not very snacky. But that’s the gist.

Welp, too many replies, so muting the thread. But since I’m seeing it already – beware people in the comments doing the exact fucking thing I said not to: insisting that voting is meaningless, “we need to focus on the WWC,” etc. Some folks just wanna be hardheaded.

N. K. Jemisin, [Twitter thread], Thread Reader App, November 8, 2020, https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1325545838500843524.html


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Archived at 2020-11-09 09:52:39

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9 Nov, 4 tweets, 1 min read

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1/4 A difference on the Left between those who could hold their nose and vote for @JoeBiden and those who could not may lie in the @DemoSocialists’ substitution of the movement (think “means”) for achievement (the “end” as social and environmental justice).

2/4 If you see the movement itself as an achievement, you’re likely to settle for an incremental approach that may take decades or centuries to achieve a desired end.

3/4 If, on the other hand, you’re concerned about people dying, people being killed, through elite indifference, fecklessness, greed, or outright malice, that might not be good enough.

4/4 If you would like to see social and environmental justice now, rather than hoping that *maybe*, just *maybe*, your great grandchildren *might* win it (spoiler alert: they won’t, because we’re already seeing diminishing returns with nonviolence), that might not be good enough.


  1. [1]Kimberly Holland, “What You Should Know About the Stages of Grief,” Healthline, September 25, 2018, https://www.healthline.com/health/stages-of-grief
  2. [2]Max Boot, “What if Trump loses but insists he won?” Washington Post, July 6, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/06/what-if-trump-loses-insists-he-won/; Mark Bray, “Trump’s Baseless Fraud Accusations Are Already Sparking Far Right Violence,” Truthout, November 9, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-baseless-fraud-accusations-are-already-sparking-far-right-violence/; Rosa Brooks, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Washington Post, September 3, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/09/03/trump-stay-in-office/; Will Bunch, “Trump’s diabolical plan to blow up democracy, get reelected and avoid jail just might work,” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 5, 2019, https://www.philly.com/opinion/commentary/trump-wants-impeachment-2020-reelection-strategy-blame-democrats-ignore-subpoenas-20190505.html; Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, “Trump team eyes legal, political Hail Marys as options for comeback fade,” Politico, November 6, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/06/trump-legal-political-lawsuit-election-434786; Chris Cillizza, “What happens if Donald Trump refuses to admit he lost in 2020?” CNN, May 6, 2019, https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2019/05/06/politics/donald-trump-2020-election/index.html; Democracy Now!, “What If Trump Refuses to Accept a Biden Victory? A Look at How Electoral Chaos Could Divide Nation,” August 3, 2020, https://www.democracynow.org/2020/8/3/nils_gilman_2020_election_scenarios; Barton Gellman, “The Election That Could Break America,” Atlantic, September 23, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/11/what-if-trump-refuses-concede/616424/; Mehdi Hasan, “Yes, Let’s Defeat or Impeach Donald Trump. But What If He Refuses to Leave the White House?” Intercept, March 6, 2019, https://theintercept.com/2019/03/06/donald-trump-impeachment-2020/; Colby Itkowitz, “Trump won’t commit to a ‘peaceful transfer of power’ if he loses,” Washington Post, September 23, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-transfer-of-power/2020/09/23/be6954d0-fdf0-11ea-b555-4d71a9254f4b_story.html; Ed Kilgore, “How Trump Is Trying to Ensure an Early Election Night Lead,” New York, August 13, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/08/trump-voters-could-vote-in-person-and-give-him-early-lead.html; Eric Lach, “What Happens if Donald Trump Fights the Election Results?” New Yorker, August 21, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/campaign-chronicles/what-happens-if-donald-trump-fights-the-election-results; Robert McCartney, “Here’s one way Trump could try to steal the election, voting experts say,” Washington Post, August 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/heres-one-way-trump-could-try-to-steal-the-election-voting-experts-say/2020/08/16/b5bf0c2a-de66-11ea-b205-ff838e15a9a6_story.html; Peter Nicholas, “Trump Could Still Break Democracy’s Biggest Norm,” Atlantic, June 16, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/06/when-does-trump-leave-white-house/613060/; Greg Sargent, “On Hannity’s show, Trump reveals his corrupt, panicky endgame,” Washington Post, October 9, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/10/09/hannity-trump-reveals-his-corrupt-panicky-endgame/; Felicia Sonmez, “Trump declines to say whether he will accept November election results,” Washington Post, July 19, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-declines-to-say-whether-he-will-accept-november-election-results/2020/07/19/40009804-c9c7-11ea-91f1-28aca4d833a0_story.html; Isaac Stanley-Becker, “Claiming two years of his presidency were ‘stolen,’ Trump suggests he’s owed overtime,” Washington Post, May 6, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/05/06/claiming-two-years-his-presidency-were-stolen-trump-suggests-hes-owed-overtime/; Timothy E. Wirth and Tom Rogers, “How Trump Could Lose the Election—And Still Remain President,” Newsweek, July 3, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/how-trump-could-lose-election-still-remain-president-opinion-1513975
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Bloody November,” Not Housebroken, October 13, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/08/bloody-november/; David Benfell, “The very scary way to four more years,” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/25/the-very-scary-way-to-four-more-years/
  4. [4]Mark Bray, “Trump’s Baseless Fraud Accusations Are Already Sparking Far Right Violence,” Truthout, November 9, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-baseless-fraud-accusations-are-already-sparking-far-right-violence/
  5. [5]N. K. Jemisin, [Twitter thread], Thread Reader App, November 8, 2020, https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1325545838500843524.html
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Why I do not vote,” Not Housebroken, February 25, 2016, https://disunitedstates.org/2016/02/23/why-i-do-not-vote/
  7. [7]David Benfell, “Voting for complicity,” Not Housebroken, October 1, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/20/voting-for-complicity/
  8. [8]David Benfell, “On ‘freedom,’” Not Housebroken, September 13, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/13/on-freedom/
  9. [9]Katherine Stewart and Caroline Fredrickson, “Bill Barr Thinks America Is Going to Hell,” New York Times, December 29, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/29/opinion/william-barr-trump.html
  10. [10]Richard M. Weaver, Visions of Order (Louisiana State University, 1964; Wilmington, DE: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 1995).
  11. [11]David P. Barash and Charles P. Webel, Peace and Conflict Studies (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2002).
  12. [12]David P. Barash and Charles P. Webel, Peace and Conflict Studies (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2002).
  13. [13]David P. Barash and Charles P. Webel, Peace and Conflict Studies (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2002).
  14. [14]Jason Togyer, “Fear and Loathing in the Time of Coronavirus,” Columbia Journalism Review, March 25, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/special_report/mckeesport-year-of-fear-covid-19-pandemic.php
  15. [15]Melvyn P. Leffler, “The Free Market Did Not Bring Down the Berlin Wall,” Foreign Policy, November 7, 2014, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/11/07/berlin_wall_fall_25_anniversary_reagan_bush_germany_merkel_cold_war_free_market_capitalism
  16. [16]Chip Berlet, “Taking Tea Parties Seriously: Corporate Globalization, Populism, and Resentment,” Perspectives on Global Development and Technology 10, no. 1 (2011), 11-29, doi: 10.1163/156914911X555071; Thomas Frank, What’s the Matter with Kansas? (New York: Metropolitan, 2005); Scott Sernau, Worlds Apart, 2nd ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge, 2006).
  17. [17]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  18. [18]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).

Pollyanna and ‘horrible, racist, mean-spirited people’ (Update #4)

Updates

  1. Originally published, November 5, 8:54 am.

  2. November 5, 2020, 9:52 am:

  3. November 5, 10:10 am:

    • Regarding the tweet in the previous update,

  4. November 5, 11:09 pm:

    • Yesterday (November 4), I wrote,

      Win or lose, it speaks volumes that the Democratic Party has done so poorly both in political practice and in the election against an incumbent who mishandled the pandemic for all the wrong reasons, as I previously put it,

      politically, economically (also enabling capitalist greed to compound the problem),[1] and medically,[2] with devastating consequences. In addition to all that, Donald Trump recklessly recommended absurdly dangerous non-remedies like hydroxychloroquine[3][4]

      This is not credible opposition and the Democrats’ record of complicity[5] suggests they are something else entirely.[6]

      Donald Trump is, after all, a contender for the worst president in U.S. history,[7] but two days after the election, we still don’t know for sure who won because the race is so close:[8]

      State Percent counted Leader Electoral Votes
      Alaska 50 Donald Trump 3
      Georgia 99 Donald Trump 16
      North Carolina 94 Donald Trump 15
      Nevada 84 Joe Biden 6
      Pennsylvania 90 Donald Trump 20

      Indeed, it’s taking so long for Pennsylvania to flip Biden’s way that I’m starting to wonder if it’s actually going to happen. And, really, Georgia is still too close to call at 99 percent counted?

      Today (November 5), Owen Jones begins,

      How could the electoral circumstances for the US Democrats have been more favourable? A quarter of a million Americans have died in a pandemic bungled by the incumbent president, and at least 6 million have consequently been driven into poverty. The coronavirus crisis is the devastating climax of a presidency defined by hundreds of scandals, many of which alone, in normal circumstances, could have destroyed the political career of whoever occupied the White House.

      Despite having the active support of almost the entire US press, Joe Biden’s victory looks to be far narrower than predicted. During the Democratic primaries, Biden’s cheerleaders argued that his socialist challenger Bernie Sanders would repel Florida’s voters, and yet Donald Trump has triumphed in the sunshine state. They argued that his “unelectable” rival would risk the Senate and down-ballot races, yet the Republicans may retain control of the Senate, and Democrats are haemorrhaging seats in the House of Representatives.[9]

      Nathan Robinson chimes in,

      But [Joe] Biden didn’t offer a clear and compelling alternative [to Donald Trump]. He was a weak candidate from the start, so much so that even some of his allies were worried what would happen if he won the primary. Biden, like Hillary Clinton before him, represented the corporate wing of the Democratic party; he loudly defended the private health insurance industry and the fracking industry from attacks by the left. He ran away from proposals favored by the Democratic base like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. He didn’t show much interest in courting core constituencies like Latino voters (reportedly, the Biden campaign did not consider them part of its “path to victory”, which helps explain the losses in Texas and Florida). Biden didn’t even put much energy into the campaign; at crucial moments when Trump’s team were knocking on a million doors a week, Biden’s was reportedly knocking on zero. His ground game in important swing states like Michigan was “invisible”.[10]

      Shortly before the election, my mom called (I suspect due to the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg[11] and the then-impending battle to replace her), desperate for me to vote Democratic as I live in a swing state, Pennsylvania. I told her I couldn’t do it (I voted a straight Green Party ticket, omitting contests where no Green Party candidate was available). Jones explains why, in voting for Democrats, I would be voting for my own continued impoverishment.[12] Robinson castigates the Democrats for “insanity,” as “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result,”[13] and really that’s what I would be doing in voting for Democrats. Sorry, Mom, but no. I’ve suffered way too many shit jobs and way more than enough unemployment, poverty, gig work, and inability to get a real job already, even in over 19 years, even with a Ph.D.,[14] all in large part due to a bipartisan neoconservative/neoliberal consensus.

      The Democrats will never ever again get my vote. Any more than the Republicans ever could.


Election

There were lots of updates to the last issue. At this point, I’m assuming Joe Biden won. That doesn’t solve much because Donald Trump has exposed just how prevalent white supremacism and a vicious attitude toward some subaltern groups are. Even if Trump goes away, the people he enabled aren’t.

The election makes obvious that Trump was not an aberration. That he has done as well as he has,[15] despite being one of the worst presidents in U.S. history,[16] speaks both to the patheticism of the Democratic Party and to a substantial portion of the U.S. population that wants more of the same.

Should the Democratic nominee prevail, [Jim] Doyle said, “Joe Biden has to rise to the occasion almost to FDR, as a Democrat might say, or to Reagan, as a Republican might say, proportions. Half the country are not horrible, racist, mean-spirited people who are different from everybody else. It can’t be. And roughly half the country voted for Trump.”[17]

Jim Doyle is flatly wrong. “Half the country,” more when you count neoliberals, are indeed “horrible, racist, mean-spirited people” (figure 1). Denying that doesn’t change the reality and it doesn’t change the reality of a political polarization that has prevailed at least since Bill Clinton’s presidency.

Fig. 1. Photograph by author, August 25, 2020.

We should also be clear that Republicans are likely retaining control of the Senate under the obstructionist Mitch McConnell, and that Democrats will have a reduced majority in the House of Representatives. There is absolutely no sign[18] that the Republicans will have the ‘epiphany’ that Biden predicted[19] and we are foolish to imagine that they will.

Now, as to the count, the only thing that has changed since last night is the percentages counted:[20]

State Percent counted Leader Electoral Votes
Alaska 50 Donald Trump 3
Georgia 98 Donald Trump 16
North Carolina 94 Donald Trump 15
Nevada 75 Joe Biden 6
Pennsylvania 89 Donald Trump 20

My presumption remains that the late counts are likely to break Biden’s way and that this will flip Pennsylvania.

Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, “Election reveals deeper divides between red and blue America,” Washington Post, November 4, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/america-divided-rural-urban/2020/11/04/8ddac854-1ebf-11eb-b532-05c751cd5dc2_story.html

Owen Jones, “Even if Biden wins, the world will pay the price for the Democrats’ failures,” Guardian, November 5, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/05/biden-democrats-democratic-trump

Nathan Robinson, “Trump should have lost in a landslide. The fact that he didn’t speaks volumes,” Guardian, November 5, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/05/trump-should-have-lost-in-a-landslide-the-fact-that-he-didnt-speaks-volumes

Ishaan Tharoor, “Trumpism is here to stay,” Washington Post, November 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2020/11/05/trumpism-here-to-stay/


Polls

The polls got the election wrong, again,[21] and Mona Chalabi critiques the idea of a representative sample,[22] but there really should be no mystery as to why the polls were wrong. With survey methodology, the response rate should be ninety percent. It has dropped to six or seven percent,[23] which is to scream at the top of one’s lungs that people who respond to polls are a self-selecting group, little better than a convenience sample, who cannot speak for those who do not respond. That’s what Valerie Sue taught me when I took my first methods class back at California State University, East Bay, in the early 2000s, and I don’t care what games you play: She’s still right.

Chalabi has a point in that people are demographically complex[24]—indeed, this is what kyriarchy is all about—but the point of a representative sample is that you capture that complexity to get an accurate picture of the larger population. As with all quantitative research, we are dealing not so much with diversity as we are with aggregates. The problem here is that we are not getting representative samples, indeed, not anything even remotely close. Because the response rates are abysmal.[25]

David A. Graham, “The Polling Crisis Is a Catastrophe for American Democracy,” Atlantic, November 4, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/11/polling-catastrophe/616986/

Mona Chalabi, “The pollsters were wrong – again. Here’s what we know so far,” Guardian, November 4, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/commentisfree/2020/nov/04/the-pollsters-were-wrong-again-heres-what-we-know-so-far


  1. [1]Jonathan Allen and Steve Holland, “Life upended for Americans as U.S. scrambles to contain coronavirus threat,” Reuters, March 12, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa/life-upended-for-americans-as-u-s-scrambles-to-contain-coronavirus-threat-idUSKBN20Z1OT; AnnaMaria Andriotis, “Americans Skip Millions of Loan Payments as Coronavirus Takes Economic Toll,” Wall Street Journal, June 18, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/americans-skip-millions-of-loan-payments-as-coronavirus-takes-economic-toll-11592472601; Anne Applebaum, “The Coronavirus Called America’s Bluff,” Atlantic, March 15, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/coronavirus-showed-america-wasnt-task/608023/; Kate Aronoff, “The Democrats Screwed Up,” New Republic, March 20, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/156994/democrats-screwed; Associated Press, “U.S. stocks climb 6% the day after biggest loss since 1987,” Los Angeles Times, March 17, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-03-17/us-stocks-coronavirus; Associated Press, “3.2 million more filed jobless claims last week; more than 30 million since coronavirus hit,” Los Angeles Times, May 7, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-05-07/coronavirus-weekly-jobless-unemployment-numbers; Associated Press, “2.4 million Americans sought jobless aid last week; 39 million since coronavirus struck,” Los Angeles Times, May 21, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-05-21/coronavirus-jobless-unemployment-benefits; Associated Press, “1.9 million seek jobless aid even as reopenings slow layoffs,” Los Angeles Times, June 4, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-06-04/jobless-unemployment-claims-coronavirus; Associated Press, “Tenants Behind on Rent in Pandemic Face Harassment, Eviction,” U.S. News and World Report, June 14, 2020, https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/virginia/articles/2020-06-13/tenants-behind-on-rent-in-pandemic-face-harassment-eviction; David Blanchflower, “Pandemic Economics: ‘Much Worse, Very Quickly,” New York Review of Books, March 26, 2020, https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2020/03/26/pandemic-economics-much-worse-very-quickly/; Adam Cancryn and Nancy Cook, “Health officials want Trump to ‘double down, not lighten up’ restrictions,” Politico, March 23, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/23/coronavirus-economy-trump-restart-145222; John Cassidy, “What Would a Proper Coronavirus Stimulus Plan Look Like?” New Yorker, March 14, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/what-would-a-proper-coronavirus-stimulus-plan-look-like; Kriston Capps, “What Happens When the Eviction Bans End?” CityLab, May 29, 2020, https://www.citylab.com/equity/2020/05/pay-rent-eviction-ban-coronavirus-housing-crisis-landlord/612277/; John Cassidy, “Who’s Right About the Economy—Jared Kushner or the Chairman of the Federal Reserve?” New Yorker, April 30, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/whos-right-about-the-economy-jared-kushner-or-the-chairman-of-the-federal-reserve; John Cassidy, “The Most Alarming Thing About the Worst Jobs Report in History,” New Yorker, May 8, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-most-alarming-thing-about-the-worst-jobs-report-in-history; Jonathan Chait, “Trump Wants to Starve the States Into Opening Before It’s Safe,” New York, April 20, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/04/trump-coronavirus-open-state-governors-protests.html; Sarah Chaney and Kate King, “Over 3.8 Million Americans Filed for Jobless Benefits Last Week as States Struggle With Coronavirus Claims Surge,” Wall Street Journal, April 30, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/states-struggle-with-coronavirus-unemployment-claims-surge-11588239004; Sarah Chaney and Kate King, “Workers File 2.4 Million Unemployment Claims,” Wall Street Journal, May 21, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/self-employed-arent-counted-in-wave-of-unemployment-claims-11590053402; Zak Cheney-Rice, “Even Naked, America Cannot See Itself,” New York, April 27, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/04/coronavirus-inequality-america.html; Sara R. Collins and David Blumenthal, “Without universal healthcare, coronavirus puts us all at risk,” Los Angeles Times, March 5, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-03-05/op-ed-time-to-ramp-up-medicaid-to-pay-for-universal-coronavirus-care; Megan Rose Dickey, “Senator urges Uber, Lyft, Instacart and others to offer gig workers financial security in light of COVID-19 concerns,” TechCrunch, March 6, 2020, https://techcrunch.com/2020/03/06/senator-urges-uber-lyft-instacart-and-others-to-offer-gig-workers-financial-security-in-light-of-covid-19-concerns/; Hannah Dineen, “Uber driver denies unmasked riders, fired for complaints,” News Center Maine, July 1, 2020, https://www.newscentermaine.com/article/life/uber-driver-denies-unmasked-riders-fired-for-complaints/97-80794869-0c8b-4aa1-8ec8-e340d4e6fed5; Ben Eisen and David Benoit, “‘This Is Not a Normal Recession’: Banks Ready for Wave of Coronavirus Defaults,” Wall Street Journal, July 14, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/this-is-not-a-normal-recession-banks-ready-for-wave-of-coronavirus-defaults-11594746008; Kenya Evelyn, “‘We’re expendable’: black Americans pay the price as states lift lockdowns,” Guardian, May 25, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/25/covid-19-lockdowns-african-americans-essential-workers; Emma Farge with Peter Graff, “WHO warns of ‘second peak’ in areas where COVID-19 declining,” Reuters, May 25, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-who-peak/who-warns-of-second-peak-in-areas-where-covid-19-declining-idUSKBN2311VJ; Benjamin Fearnow, “Biden, Sanders demand 3-month freeze on rent payments, eviction of tenants across U.S.,” Newsweek, March 28, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/biden-sanders-demand-3-month-freeze-rent-payments-eviction-tenants-across-us-1494839; Sarah Ferris et al., “House passes sweeping coronavirus response package,” Politico, March 14, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/13/congress-coronavirus-stimulus-package-deal-friday-128140; David Fickling, “The Gig Economy Compromised Our Immune System,” Yahoo!, July 25, 2020, https://finance.yahoo.com/news/gig-economy-compromised-immune-system-000048670.html; David Frum, “Why Mitch McConnell Wants States to Go Bankrupt,” Atlantic, April 25, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/04/why-mitch-mcconnell-wants-states-go-bankrupt/610714/; Mariel Garza, “Why aren’t we paying people with the coronavirus to stay home?” Los Angeles Times, March 6, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-03-06/opinion-why-arent-we-paying-people-with-the-coronavirus-to-stay-home; Susan B. Glasser, “A President Unequal to the Moment,” New Yorker, March 12, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-trumps-washington/a-president-unequal-to-the-moment; Amy Goldstein, “Worries about medical bills and lost pay may hamper coronavirus efforts in the United States,” Washington Post, March 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/worries-about-medical-bills-and-lost-pay-may-hamper-coronavirus-efforts-in-the-united-states/2020/03/02/75825be0-5c9c-11ea-9055-5fa12981bbbf_story.html; Amy Goldstein, “First, the coronavirus pandemic took their jobs. Then, it wiped out their health insurance,” Washington Post, April 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/first-the-coronavirus-pandemic-took-their-jobs-then-it-wiped-out-their-health-insurance/2020/04/18/1c2cb5bc-7d7c-11ea-8013-1b6da0e4a2b7_story.html; William Gumede, “The impact of coronavirus could compare to the Great Depression,” Al Jazeera, May 3, 2020, https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/impact-coronavirus-compare-great-depression-200420070542882.html; James Hamblin, “What Will You Do If You Start Coughing?” Atlantic, March 11, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/03/where-do-you-go-if-you-get-coronavirus/607759/; Paul Hannon, “Economic Recovery Is Under Way but Fighting Flare-Ups Is Key,” Wall Street Journal, July 20, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/economic-recovery-is-under-way-but-fighting-flare-ups-is-key-11595167200; David Harrison, “Lack of Savings Worsens the Pain of Coronavirus Downturn,” Wall Street Journal, April 15, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lack-ofsavingsworsens-the-pain-of-coronavirus-downturn-11586943001; Kim Hart, “The coronavirus economy will devastate those who can least afford it,” Axios, March 23, 2020, https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-economy-layoffs-children-families-bad-d588cc93-ff26-4031-8be8-5654cce05a15.html; Thomas Heath and Jacob Bogage, “Dow caps worst-ever first quarter with a more than 400-point slide,” Washington Post, March 31, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/31/stocks-markets-today-coronavirus/; Thomas Heath and Taylor Telford, “U.S. markets wrap up worst week since the 2008 financial crisis,” Washington Post, March 20, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/20/stocks-markets-today-coronavirus/; Thomas Heath, Taylor Telford, and Heather Long, “Dow plunges 10 percent despite Fed lifeline as coronavirus panic grips investors,” Washington Post, March 12, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/12/markets-live-updates-coronavirus-economy/; Eoin Higgins, “Refusal by Pelosi to Consider Universal Cash Payments in Response to Coronavirus Pandemic ‘Maddening,’ Say Progressives,” Common Dreams, March 18, 2020, https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/03/18/refusal-pelosi-consider-universal-cash-payments-response-coronavirus-pandemic; Michael Hirsh, “Is $2 Trillion Too Little, Too Late?” Foreign Policy, March 25, 2020, https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/03/24/us-congress-2-trillion-rescue-package-too-little-too-late/; Michael Hudson, “A debt jubilee is the only way to avoid a depression,” Washington Post, March 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/03/21/debt-jubilee-is-only-way-avoid-depression/; Greg Ip, “A Recovery That Started Out Like a V Is Changing Shape,” Wall Street Journal, July 1, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-reverse-square-root-recovery-11593602775; Sarah Jones, “Dear Rich People: Please Stop Hoarding Things,” New York, March 30, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/things-are-bad-and-rich-people-arent-helping.html; Ed Kilgore, “Could Trump Go the Way of Herbert Hoover?” New York, May 4, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/05/could-herbert-hoovers-fate-be-trumps.html; Sarah Knapton, “Lockdown may cost 200,000 lives, government report shows,” Telegraph, July 19, 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/07/19/lockdown-may-cost-200k-lives-government-report-shows/; Christina Maxouris, “Officials say states like Arizona and Texas reopened too quickly after soaring Covid-19 cases,” CNN, July 6, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/06/health/us-coronavirus-monday/index.html; Robert McCartney, “McConnell’s rejection of federal aid for states risks causing a depression, analysts say,” Washington Post, April 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/mcconnells-rejection-of-federal-aid-for-states-risks-causing-a-depression-analysts-say/2020/04/26/1fd4731c-8632-11ea-a3eb-e9fc93160703_story.html; Reuters, “U.S. has potential of becoming coronavirus epicentre, says WHO,” March 24, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-who-usa/u-s-has-potential-of-becoming-coronavirus-epicentre-says-who-idUSKBN21B1FT; Ben Riley-Smith, “Donald Trump launches plan to ‘open up America again’ after coronavirus lockdown,” Telegraph, April 17, 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/04/16/donald-trump-launches-plan-open-america-coronavirus-lockdown/; Jennifer Rubin, “Mitch McConnell cries ‘Uncle!’” Washington Post, April 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/04/28/mcconnell-cries-uncle/; Adam Serwer, “The Coronavirus Was an Emergency Until Trump Found Out Who Was Dying,” Atlantic, May 9, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/05/americas-racial-contract-showing/611389/; Teghan Simonton, “Pittsburgh professors see flaws in coronavirus modeling, predict more grim outlook,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 3, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/pittsburgh-professors-see-flaws-in-coronavirus-modeling-predict-more-grim-outlook/; Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Eileen Sullivan, “As Trump Pushes to Reopen, Government Sees Virus Toll Nearly Doubling,” New York Times, May 4, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/04/us/politics/trump-coronavirus-death-toll.html; David Wallace-Wells, “We Are Probably Only One-Tenth of the Way Through This Pandemic,” New York, April 17, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/04/we-are-probably-only-a-tenth-of-the-way-through-the-pandemic.html; David Wallace-Wells, “There Is Still No Plan,” New York, May 7, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/05/white-house-plan-for-ending-coronavirus-stay-at-home-orders.html; Mariel Garza, “Why aren’t we paying people with the coronavirus to stay home?” Los Angeles Times, March 6, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-03-06/opinion-why-arent-we-paying-people-with-the-coronavirus-to-stay-home; Susan B. Glasser, “A President Unequal to the Moment,” New Yorker, March 12, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-trumps-washington/a-president-unequal-to-the-moment; Amy Goldstein, “Worries about medical bills and lost pay may hamper coronavirus efforts in the United States,” Washington Post, March 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/worries-about-medical-bills-and-lost-pay-may-hamper-coronavirus-efforts-in-the-united-states/2020/03/02/75825be0-5c9c-11ea-9055-5fa12981bbbf_story.html; Amy Goldstein, “First, the coronavirus pandemic took their jobs. Then, it wiped out their health insurance,” Washington Post, April 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/first-the-coronavirus-pandemic-took-their-jobs-then-it-wiped-out-their-health-insurance/2020/04/18/1c2cb5bc-7d7c-11ea-8013-1b6da0e4a2b7_story.html; William Gumede, “The impact of coronavirus could compare to the Great Depression,” Al Jazeera, May 3, 2020, https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/impact-coronavirus-compare-great-depression-200420070542882.html; James Hamblin, “What Will You Do If You Start Coughing?” Atlantic, March 11, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/03/where-do-you-go-if-you-get-coronavirus/607759/; Paul Hannon, “Economic Recovery Is Under Way but Fighting Flare-Ups Is Key,” Wall Street Journal, July 20, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/economic-recovery-is-under-way-but-fighting-flare-ups-is-key-11595167200; David Harrison, “Lack of Savings Worsens the Pain of Coronavirus Downturn,” Wall Street Journal, April 15, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lack-ofsavingsworsens-the-pain-of-coronavirus-downturn-11586943001; Kim Hart, “The coronavirus economy will devastate those who can least afford it,” Axios, March 23, 2020, https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-economy-layoffs-children-families-bad-d588cc93-ff26-4031-8be8-5654cce05a15.html; Thomas Heath and Jacob Bogage, “Dow caps worst-ever first quarter with a more than 400-point slide,” Washington Post, March 31, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/31/stocks-markets-today-coronavirus/; Thomas Heath and Taylor Telford, “U.S. markets wrap up worst week since the 2008 financial crisis,” Washington Post, March 20, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/20/stocks-markets-today-coronavirus/; Thomas Heath, Taylor Telford, and Heather Long, “Dow plunges 10 percent despite Fed lifeline as coronavirus panic grips investors,” Washington Post, March 12, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/12/markets-live-updates-coronavirus-economy/; Eoin Higgins, “Refusal by Pelosi to Consider Universal Cash Payments in Response to Coronavirus Pandemic ‘Maddening,’ Say Progressives,” Common Dreams, March 18, 2020, https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/03/18/refusal-pelosi-consider-universal-cash-payments-response-coronavirus-pandemic; Michael Hirsh, “Is $2 Trillion Too Little, Too Late?” Foreign Policy, March 25, 2020, https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/03/24/us-congress-2-trillion-rescue-package-too-little-too-late/; Michael Hudson, “A debt jubilee is the only way to avoid a depression,” Washington Post, March 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/03/21/debt-jubilee-is-only-way-avoid-depression/; Greg Ip, “A Recovery That Started Out Like a V Is Changing Shape,” Wall Street Journal, July 1, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-reverse-square-root-recovery-11593602775; Sarah Jones, “Dear Rich People: Please Stop Hoarding Things,” New York, March 30, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/things-are-bad-and-rich-people-arent-helping.html; Ed Kilgore, “Could Trump Go the Way of Herbert Hoover?” New York, May 4, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/05/could-herbert-hoovers-fate-be-trumps.html; Ian Kullgren, “Congress should bail out gig workers, Cohn says,” Politico, March 22, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/22/congress-gig-economy-workers-cohn-141886; Justin Lahart, “Washington’s Trillions Alone Can’t Stop the Jobpocalypse,” Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/washingtons-trillions-alone-cant-stop-the-jobpocalypse-11585235110; Justin Lahart, “Great Depression Unemployment Levels Are on Tap,” Wall Street Journal, April 16, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/great-depression-unemployment-levels-are-on-tap-11587053071; Justin Lahart, “Why the Economy Was Even Worse than the GDP Report,” Wall Street Journal, April 29, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-the-economy-was-even-worse-than-the-gdp-report-11588176851; Justin Lahart, “Jobs Warning Light Starts Flashing,” Wall Street Journal, July 23, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/jobs-warning-light-starts-flashing-11595516312; Marianne Levine, “Schumer rips ’emaciated’ Republican coronavirus relief plan,” Politico, September 3, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/09/03/coronavirus-relief-plan-chuck-schumer-407974; Eric Levitz, “In the Age of the Coronavirus, Biden’s ‘Results’ Require Bernie’s ‘Revolution,’” New York, March 16, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/who-won-the-democratic-debate-between-biden-and-bernie-coronavirus.html; 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  16. [16]Nicholas Goldberg, “Is Trump the worst president ever? He’s got some competition,” Los Angeles Times, October 20, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-10-20/the-worst-president-in-american-history
  17. [17]Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, “Election reveals deeper divides between red and blue America,” Washington Post, November 4, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/america-divided-rural-urban/2020/11/04/8ddac854-1ebf-11eb-b532-05c751cd5dc2_story.html
  18. [18]Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, “Election reveals deeper divides between red and blue America,” Washington Post, November 4, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/america-divided-rural-urban/2020/11/04/8ddac854-1ebf-11eb-b532-05c751cd5dc2_story.html; Ishaan Tharoor, “Trumpism is here to stay,” Washington Post, November 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2020/11/05/trumpism-here-to-stay/
  19. [19]Eric Bradner and Gregory Krieg, “Joe Biden predicts a post-Trump ‘epiphany’ for Republicans,” CNN, May 14, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/14/politics/joe-biden-republicans-trump-epiphany/index.html; Moira Donegan, “What does Biden have in common with Trump? Delusional nostalgia,” Guardian, June 21, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/21/joe-biden-trump-sexism-delusional-nostalgia; Matt Ford, “Someone Please Tell Joe Biden That Bipartisanship Is Dead,” New Republic, June 12, 2019, https://newrepublic.com/article/154183/someone-please-tell-joe-biden-bipartisanship-dead; Ishaan Tharoor, “Trumpism is here to stay,” Washington Post, November 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2020/11/05/trumpism-here-to-stay/; Paul Waldman, “Joe Biden still hasn’t learned the lessons of the Obama presidency,” Washington Post, December 6, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/12/06/joe-biden-still-hasnt-learned-lessons-obama-presidency/
  20. [20]New Yorker, “Election 2020,” retrieved November 5, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/election-2020/live-2020-presidential-election-results
  21. [21]David A. Graham, “The Polling Crisis Is a Catastrophe for American Democracy,” Atlantic, November 4, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/11/polling-catastrophe/616986/
  22. [22]Mona Chalabi, “The pollsters were wrong – again. Here’s what we know so far,” Guardian, November 4, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/commentisfree/2020/nov/04/the-pollsters-were-wrong-again-heres-what-we-know-so-far
  23. [23]Courtney Kennedy and Hannah Hartig, “Response rates in telephone surveys have resumed their decline,” Pew Research Center, February 27, 2019, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/02/27/response-rates-in-telephone-surveys-have-resumed-their-decline/
  24. [24]Mona Chalabi, “The pollsters were wrong – again. Here’s what we know so far,” Guardian, November 4, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/commentisfree/2020/nov/04/the-pollsters-were-wrong-again-heres-what-we-know-so-far
  25. [25]Courtney Kennedy and Hannah Hartig, “Response rates in telephone surveys have resumed their decline,” Pew Research Center, February 27, 2019, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/02/27/response-rates-in-telephone-surveys-have-resumed-their-decline/

Who’s the biggest super-spreader of them all? (Update #15)

Updates

  1. Originally published, November 2, 2020, at 10:00 pm.

  2. November 3, 2020, 8:10 am, revised at 8:30 am:

  3. November 3, 2020, 8:27 am, revised 11:50 am:

  4. November 3, 11:27 am:

    • Writing in the Atlantic, George Thomas diminishes the distinction between a republic and democracy, even as he amplifies[1] the evidence I cite[2] from Federalist no. 10.[3] He argues based on racial progress,[4] the end of slavery in the 13th amendment,[5] equal protection under law in the 14th,[6] and universal male suffrage in the 15th,[7] and civil and voting rights legislation of the 1960s.[8] The curious aspect to this argument is that it omits entirely the problem of class, which James Madison was unmistakably most concerned about in Federalist no. 10,[9] and which is the subject of my deconstruction.[10]

  5. November 3, 2020, 3:01 pm, revised 5:48 pm:

    • I guess I’d have to say that judges are really, really, really not trusting Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s changes at the U.S. Postal Service,[11] which appear to have harmed service,[12] and come all too conveniently for the election.[13] The latest is a judge ordering postal inspectors to sweep some facilities for ballots and ensure their delivery.[14]

  6. November 3, 2020, 4:43 pm, revised 5:48 pm:

    • So there was this idea—it even appeared in a pediatrics journal—that children don’t catch or transmit the novel coronavirus or the disease it causes, COVID-19, to nearly the degree that adults do.[15] Of course, this flew in the face of everything parents and teachers know about children and their propensity for contagion. Then it turned out that maybe older kids do catch and transmit the disease[16] and that children might carry and transmit the disease pretty much like anyone else.[17] Now it seems kids are getting the disease, although this article does not itself differentiate by age groups or offer much perspective to suggest how much crow the proponents of that earlier idea should be eating.[18] If I follow up on this, I’ll have to chase down some of those links.

  7. November 3, 2020, 5:48 pm:

    • I’ve revised the previous two updates for a bunch of reasons, some having to do with citations, some to improve the explanations.

  8. November 3, 2020, 7:50 pm:

    • I’ve previously observed that the patriarch—a brilliant chef and a not-so-brilliant Trumpster—in the Jewish family that runs the (plant-based) Fortuitea restaurant in North Strabane, a suburb of Pittsburgh in Washington County, Pennsylvania, seemed to be getting his information, particularly with regard to measures taken to try to stem the COVID-19 pandemic, from the same sources as white supremacists (paleoconservatives), including anti-Semitic white supremacists. It made me sufficiently uncomfortable that I’ve stopped going to that restaurant, though I very much miss the food.

      On Monday (November 2) morning, someone spray-painted “Trump” and “MAGA” on some Jewish headstones. From the description of this and another attack, I find it hard to imagine that anyone other than anti-Semitic white supremacists would commit these crimes, even if “David J.B. Krishef, the rabbi at Ahavas Israel, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that it was unclear if the vandalism was an attack on the Jewish community.”[19] Meanwhile, settlers in the Occupied Territories are praying for Donald Trumps’s victory.[20]

      There are, of course, reasons for this. Trump moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and promoted a so-called ‘peace’ plan that the settlers like very much.[21] This, of course, was the ‘peace’ of conquest, far from that of justice, meant to humiliate Palestinians.[22]

      But I’m thinking of that restaurant and its patriarch. And I can’t help but feel there is a very weird and really rather sickening alliance between Zionists, anti-Semites, Donald Trump, and the Trump administration.

  9. November 4, 2020, 2:10 am:
    • At this writing, 90 percent of the vote is counted in Wisconsin and 67 percent in Michigan. Donald Trump leads in both states. Assuming FiveThirtyEight is correct, I think the “‘easy’ paths” are closed.

      I understand that Pennsylvania hasn’t even begun counting mail-in ballots. There was a significant campaign here for voters to vote by mail and I expect, especially in the cities, that many voters did so. Trump has the lead, this might well be a mirage, and only 64 percent of the vote is counted.

      I should qualify what I’m about to say with an earlier tweet:

      My reading at the present time has to be that Donald Trump may very well have won re-election.

  10. November 4, 2020, 3:26 am:

    • At this point, the Associated Press has not called the following states:[23]
      State Percent counted Leader Electoral Votes
      Alaska 32 Donald Trump 3
      Georgia 94 Donald Trump 16
      Michigan 73 Donald Trump 16
      North Carolina 94 Donald Trump 15
      Nevada 57 Joe Biden 6
      Pennsylvania 64 Donald Trump 20
      Wisconsin 93 Donald Trump 10

      Of these states, the only one I think might still flip is Pennsylvania. That would combine with Nevada to add 26 votes to Joe Biden’s current total of 238, for a total of 264, falling short of 270. Donald Trump would add 60 votes to his current 213, for a total of 273, exceeding 270. It looks to me like Donald Trump has won re-election.

  11. November 4, 2020, 6:52 am:

    • Wisconsin, the land of Scott Walker, appears to have flipped in favor of Joe Biden:[24]

      State Percent counted Leader Electoral Votes
      Alaska 43 Donald Trump 3
      Georgia 94 Donald Trump 16
      Michigan 87 Donald Trump 16
      North Carolina 94 Donald Trump 15
      Nevada 67 Joe Biden 6
      Pennsylvania 64 Donald Trump 20
      Wisconsin 95 Joe Biden 10

      This changes matters considerably. It also puts the FiveThirtyEight “‘easy’ paths” (see the tweet I quoted in the update at 2:10 am) back in play as I thought Wisconsin was less likely to flip than Michigan. Biden appears to have won Arizona.[25] Michigan has not flipped, however, and Donald Trump still leads there, as well as in Pennsylvania and Georgia.

      Returning to the scenario I outlined at 3:26 am, where Pennsylvania (but not Michigan) also flips, Biden would now net 274 electoral votes while Trump would win only 263.

  12. November 4, 7:51 am:

    • California’s Proposition 22 passed, enabling Uber and Lyft to continue to misclassify their drivers in California as “independent contractors.”[26]

  13. November 4, 9:49 am:

    • The Republicans seem likely to retain control of the Senate:[27]

      State Percent counted Leading Party
      Alaska 45 Republican
      Georgia 94 Republican
      Maine 85 Republican
      Michigan 93 Republican
      North Carolina 93 Republican

      I suppose Michigan might flip for the Senate like it might for the presidential race. But the rest of these are states I see as Republican and I really don’t see them flipping. As to the presidential race,[28]

      State Percent counted Leader Electoral Votes
      Alaska 45 Donald Trump 3
      Georgia 94 Donald Trump 16
      Michigan 94 Donald Trump 16
      North Carolina 94 Donald Trump 15
      Nevada 67 Joe Biden 6
      Pennsylvania 64 Donald Trump 20
      Wisconsin 95 Joe Biden 10

      As more and more votes are counted, the margin for a flip diminishes considerably. By the time we get to the high 90-percentages—none of these states are quite there yet—that margin vanishes to near zero.

      Win or lose, it speaks volumes that the Democratic Party has done so poorly both in political practice and in the election against an incumbent who mishandled the pandemic for all the wrong reasons, as I previously put it,

      politically, economically (also enabling capitalist greed to compound the problem),[29] and medically,[30] with devastating consequences. In addition to all that, Donald Trump recklessly recommended absurdly dangerous non-remedies like hydroxychloroquine[31][32]

      This is not credible opposition and the Democrats’ record of complicity[33] suggests they are something else entirely.

  14. November 4, 2020, 10:17 am:

    • I had barely posted the last update when word came that the Associated Press now has Joe Biden in the lead in Michigan:[34]

      State Percent counted Leader Electoral Votes
      Alaska 45 Donald Trump 3
      Georgia 94 Donald Trump 16
      Michigan 94 Joe Biden 16
      North Carolina 94 Donald Trump 15
      Nevada 67 Joe Biden 6
      Pennsylvania 64 Donald Trump 20
      Wisconsin 95 Joe Biden 10

      Michigan would complete one of FiveThirtyEight’s “‘easy’ paths” for a Biden victory putting him right at 270 electoral votes.[35] But Pennsylvania is still in play. Here’s the mayor of Pittsburgh:

      Basically, he’s saying that Allegheny County will likely turn out for Biden. My understanding is that in combination with Philadelphia and suburbs, that probably means Biden gets Pennsylvania, bringing his electoral college margin to 290.

      But this is where we move to the next phase, where Donald Trump starts playing his games for real, attempting to contest the result.[36] It could also be where we start to see militia activity[37] such as I (and others[38]) have warned about.[39]

  15. November 4, 8:46 pm:

    • So at one point (see above), I thought Joe Biden had managed to lose both to the coronavirus (see above) and one of the worst U.S. presidents ever.[40] But the Associated Press has now called Michigan and Wisconsin for him,[41] which I had thought would stay in Donald Trump’s column (see above). Now I think Biden has it in the bag.

      This table of states the Associated Press has not called[42] is now shorter:

      State Percent counted Leader Electoral Votes
      Alaska 50 Donald Trump 3
      Georgia 98 Donald Trump 16
      North Carolina 94 Donald Trump 15
      Nevada 75 Joe Biden 6
      Pennsylvania 88 Donald Trump 20

      I would be surprised if Alaska, Georgia, or North Carolina wind up in Biden’s column, though obviously they’re still too close for the A.P. to call. With 98 percent counted, Georgia should be very close to being called. Biden, on the other hand, has held a lead in Nevada for as long as I’ve been watching the map[43] and with urban areas both taking longer to count and being more likely to support the Democrat, I think that’s Biden’s remaining six needed electoral votes right there. But I also think, though Trump for now retains a lead in the state,[44] Pennsylvania will also end up in Biden’s column.

      At the very least, Trump has a seriously difficult uphill climb to win.

  16. November 4, 2020, 10:00 pm:

    • So when a judge ordered a sweep of postal facilities for undelivered ballots,[45] I just sort of assumed that that would happen:

      Earlier Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the District of Columbia had ordered the Postal Service to sweep 12 postal processing facilities that cover 15 states for ballots. But the agency rebuffed that order and said it would stick to its own inspection schedule, which voting rights advocates worried was too late in the day for found ballots to make it to vote counters.[46]

      Um, wow. Disregarding a court order is not on my list of recommended behaviors but I guess that’s just what the Postal Service did. And this should surprise no one: The judge is pissed. Really pissed. Hinting at finding Louis DeJoy in contempt of court pissed.[47] Bad move, DeJoy. Really bad move.

    • Jeez. The A.P. still hasn’t called Georgia.[48]


Election Day

It’s election day tomorrow (November 3). Here are my recent relevant blog entries:

So if you get really bored while waiting days or weeks for the election results, you can see how well my shit stands the test of time.

Oh, and I guess that asteroid, that had a snowball’s chance in hell, but a chance nonetheless, of striking earth today (November 2),[49] didn’t.

The suffering continues.


Donald Trump

It’s almost as if our delusional raging narcissist-in-chief gazes in a mirror and recites,

Mirror, mirror, on the wall,
Who’s the biggest super-spreader of them all?

Melissa Healy, “Super-spreading Trump rallies led to more than 700 COVID-19 deaths, study estimates,” Los Angeles Times, October 31, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2020-10-31/super-spreading-trump-rallies-led-to-more-than-700-covid-19-deaths-study

Associated Press, “Leaders of settlers in Israel pray for a Trump victory in the US Election,” Al Arabiya, November 4, 2020, https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/11/04/Leaders-of-settlers-in-Israel-pray-for-a-Trump-victory-in-the-US-Election


Postal Service

Alvin Chang, “Judge orders US Postal Service to take ‘extraordinary measures’ to deliver ballots on time,” Guardian, November 2, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/nov/02/us-postal-service-election-mail-ballots-delays-judge-extraordinary-measures

Maya Lau and Laura J. Nelson, “Judge orders sweep of postal facilities for leftover ballots,” Los Angeles Times, November 3, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-11-03/judge-orders-sweep-of-postal-facilities-for-leftover-ballots

Jacob Bogage and Christopher Ingraham, “USPS data shows thousands of mailed ballots missed Election Day deadlines,” Washington Post, November 4, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/11/03/election-ballot-delays-usps/


Pandemic

Erika Edwards, “More than 61,000 children got Covid-19 last week, a record,” NBC News, November 2, 2020, https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/more-61-000-children-got-covid-19-last-week-record-n1245851


Anti-Semitism

Teo Armus, “‘Trump’ and ‘MAGA’ spray-painted on gravestones in Michigan Jewish cemetery,” Washington Post, November 3, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/11/03/michigan-jewish-cemetery-trump-maga/


Gig economy

Jeong Park, “Uber, Lyft win approval of California gig worker measure,” Sacramento Bee, November 3, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/election/article246814727.html


  1. [1]George Thomas, “‘America Is a Republic, Not a Democracy’ Is a Dangerous—And Wrong—Argument,” Atlantic, November 2, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/11/yes-constitution-democracy/616949/
  2. [2]David Benfell, “A constitutional oligarchy: Deconstructing Federalist No. 10,” Not Housebroken, June 7, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/22/a-constitutional-oligarchy-deconstructing-federalist-no-10/
  3. [3]James Madison, “Federalist No. 10,” in The Federalist Papers, ed. Garry Wills (New York: Bantam, 2003), 50-58.
  4. [4]George Thomas, “‘America Is a Republic, Not a Democracy’ Is a Dangerous—And Wrong—Argument,” Atlantic, November 2, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/11/yes-constitution-democracy/616949/
  5. [5]U.S. Const., amend. XIII, § 1.
  6. [6]U.S. Const., amend. XIV, § 1
  7. [7]U.S. Const., amend. XV, § 1
  8. [8]George Thomas, “‘America Is a Republic, Not a Democracy’ Is a Dangerous—And Wrong—Argument,” Atlantic, November 2, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/11/yes-constitution-democracy/616949/
  9. [9]James Madison, “Federalist No. 10,” in The Federalist Papers, ed. Garry Wills (New York: Bantam, 2003), 50-58.
  10. [10]David Benfell, “A constitutional oligarchy: Deconstructing Federalist No. 10,” Not Housebroken, June 7, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/22/a-constitutional-oligarchy-deconstructing-federalist-no-10/
  11. [11]Colby Bermel, “Judge orders USPS to reverse mail collection limits now,” Politico, October 27, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/10/27/postal-service-mail-collection-433112; Jacob Bogage, “DeJoy’s Postal Service policies delayed 7 percent of nation’s first-class mail, Senate Democrat’s report says,” Washington Post, September 16, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/09/16/dejoy-usps-delays-senate-report/; Alvin Chang, “Judge orders US Postal Service to take ‘extraordinary measures’ to deliver ballots on time,” Guardian, November 2, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/nov/02/us-postal-service-election-mail-ballots-delays-judge-extraordinary-measures; Colleen Flynn and Evan Kruegel, “TRO against USPS granted in lawsuit filed by Colo. Sec. of State Jena Griswold,” KDVR, September 12, 2020, https://kdvr.com/news/tro-against-usps-granted-in-lawsuit-filed-by-colo-sec-of-state-jena-griswold/; Kristen Holmes and Paul P. Murphy, “USPS email tells managers not to reconnect sorting machines,” CNN, August 20, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/20/politics/usps-reconnect-sorting-machines/index.html; Maya Lau and Laura J. Nelson, “Judge orders sweep of postal facilities for leftover ballots,” Los Angeles Times, November 3, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-11-03/judge-orders-sweep-of-postal-facilities-for-leftover-ballots; Elise Viebeck and Jacob Bogage, “Federal judge temporarily blocks USPS operational changes amid concerns about mail slowdowns, election,” Washington Post, September 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/federal-judge-issues-temporary-injunction-against-usps-operational-changes-amid-concerns-about-mail-slowdowns/2020/09/17/34fb85a0-f91e-11ea-a275-1a2c2d36e1f1_story.html
  12. [12]Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Jacob Bogage, “Postal Service backlog sparks worries that ballot delivery could be delayed in November,” Washington Post, July 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/postal-service-backlog-sparks-worries-that-ballot-delivery-could-be-delayed-in-november/2020/07/30/cb19f1f4-d1d0-11ea-8d32-1ebf4e9d8e0d_story.html; Veronica Stracqualursi and Jessica Dean, “New postal policies that are slowing service may affect 2020 mail-in voting, union leader says,” CNN, July 31, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/31/politics/usps-mail-in-voting-2020-election/index.html; Paul Ziobro, Natalie Andrews, and Alexa Corse, “Postmaster to Suspend USPS Changes Until After Election,” Wall Street Journal, August 18, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/postmaster-general-dejoy-to-testify-before-senate-panel-friday-11597758378
  13. [13]Erin Cox et al., “Postal Service warns 46 states their voters could be disenfranchised by delayed mail-in ballots,” Washington Post, August 14, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/usps-states-delayed-mail-in-ballots/2020/08/14/64bf3c3c-dcc7-11ea-8051-d5f887d73381_story.html; Amy Gardner, Josh Dawsey, and Paul Kane, “Trump opposes election aid for states and Postal Service bailout, threatening Nov. 3 vote,” Washington Post, August 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-mail-voting/2020/08/13/3eb9ac62-dd70-11ea-809e-b8be57ba616e_story.html; Philip Rucker, Josh Dawsey, and Ashley Parker, “Tracing Trump’s Postal Service obsession — from ‘loser’ to ‘scam’ to ‘rigged election,’” Washington Post, August 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-post-office-mail-vote/2020/08/15/27a2ffd4-de5f-11ea-809e-b8be57ba616e_story.html
  14. [14]Maya Lau and Laura J. Nelson, “Judge orders sweep of postal facilities for leftover ballots,” Los Angeles Times, November 3, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-11-03/judge-orders-sweep-of-postal-facilities-for-leftover-ballots
  15. [15]Benjamin Lee and William V. Raszka, “COVID-19 Transmission and Children: The Child Is Not to Blame,” Pediatrics 146, no. 1 (2020), doi: 10.1542/peds.2020-004879
  16. [16]Peter Dockrill, “Older Kids May Transmit COVID-19 as Much as Adults Do, New Evidence Shows,” Science Alert, July 20, 2020, https://www.sciencealert.com/older-children-transmit-covid-19-as-much-as-adults-do-new-evidence-suggests
  17. [17]Jacqueline Howard and Sandee LaMotte, “Kids can carry coronavirus in respiratory tract for weeks, study suggests,” CNN, August 28, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/28/health/kids-covid-19-nose-throat-wellness/index.html; Apoorva Mandavilli, “Children May Carry Coronavirus at High Levels, Study Finds,” New York Times, July 30, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/30/health/coronavirus-children.html
  18. [18]Erika Edwards, “More than 61,000 children got Covid-19 last week, a record,” NBC News, November 2, 2020, https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/more-61-000-children-got-covid-19-last-week-record-n1245851
  19. [19]Teo Armus, “‘Trump’ and ‘MAGA’ spray-painted on gravestones in Michigan Jewish cemetery,” Washington Post, November 3, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/11/03/michigan-jewish-cemetery-trump-maga/
  20. [20]Associated Press, “Leaders of settlers in Israel pray for a Trump victory in the US Election,” Al Arabiya, November 4, 2020, https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/11/04/Leaders-of-settlers-in-Israel-pray-for-a-Trump-victory-in-the-US-Election
  21. [21]Associated Press, “Leaders of settlers in Israel pray for a Trump victory in the US Election,” Al Arabiya, November 4, 2020, https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/11/04/Leaders-of-settlers-in-Israel-pray-for-a-Trump-victory-in-the-US-Election
  22. [22]Sheena Anne Arackal, “The ‘Deal of the Century’ is Apartheid,” Mondoweiss, January 28, 2020, https://mondoweiss.net/2020/01/the-deal-of-the-century-is-apartheid/; Marwan Bishara, “The logic behind US humiliation of the Palestinians,” Al Jazeera, April 24, 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/logic-humiliation-palestinians-190423123902553.html; Ishaan Tharoor, “Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ is no deal at all,” Washington Post, January 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2020/01/28/trumps-deal-century-is-no-deal-all/
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  26. [26]Jeong Park, “Uber, Lyft win approval of California gig worker measure,” Sacramento Bee, November 3, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/election/article246814727.html
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It may be a long wait,” Washington Post, April 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/02/uber-airbnb-lyft-unemployment-coronavirus/; Tony Romm, “3 million Americans filed jobless claims last week, pushing eight-week total to 36.5 million,” Washington Post, May 14, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/05/14/unemployment-jobless-claims-coronavirus/; Tony Romm, “Americans have filed more than 40 million jobless claims in past 10 weeks, as another 2.1 million filed for benefits last week,” Washington Post, May 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/05/28/unemployment-claims-coronavirus/; Eli Rosenberg, “Unemployment rate drops to 13 percent, as the economy picked up jobs as states reopened,” Washington Post, June 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/06/05/may-2020-jobs-report/; Eli Rosenberg, “‘A Band-Aid on a bullet wound’: Workers are getting laid off anew as PPP runs out,” Washington Post, July 23, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/07/23/ppp-layoffs/; Eli Rosenberg, Heather Long, and Jeff Stein, “The U.S. economy added 4.8 million jobs in June, but fierce new headwinds have emerged,” Washington Post, July 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/07/02/june-2020-jobs-report/; Eli Rosenberg, Erica Werner, and Jeff Stein, “30 million unemployed lose extra jobless benefits, as talks between Congress and the White House are at an impasse,” Washington Post, July 31, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2020/07/31/congress-bailout-unemployment-insurance/; Christopher Rugaber, “Gone for good? 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The worst president in history? It’s complicated. (Update #2)

Updates

  1. Originally published, October 24, 2020, at 1:30 pm.
  2. October 25, 2020, 6:21 am:

Presidents

Attempting a comparison of U.S. presidents, Nicholas Goldberg

quickly realized [he] was in over [his] head trying to determine who was worst among them. Is a corrupt president worse than a incompetent president? Is it worse to separate children from their parents at the border or to allow fugitive slaves to be caught and delivered back to their owners? Is killing thousands of Native Americans worse than denying the existential dangers of climate change? Do the 12 presidents who owned slaves belong automatically at the bottom of the list, regardless of their other achievements or the times in which they lived?[1]

This is a problem with a quantitative approach, as with IQ tests: It can attempt to rank things that compare more like apples and oranges on a single, linear scale. The questions Goldberg raises here will always be problematic.

Nicholas Goldberg, “Is Trump the worst president ever? He’s got some competition,” Los Angeles Times, October 20, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-10-20/the-worst-president-in-american-history


California

Ryan Sabalow, “‘That is unacceptable.’ California megachurch faces local backlash for dismissing COVID-19,” Sacramento Bee, October 23, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/article246671032.html

Ryan Sabalow, Lara Korte, and Jason Pohl, “Rural California is divided, armed for revolt. What’s the matter in the State of Jefferson?” Sacramento Bee, October 24, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/article246652603.html


Social conservatism

The carefully choreographed dance goes like this: Moral character in public officials matters quite a lot when the public officials who morally fail are Democrats; it matters hardly at all when they are Republicans. If it’s a liberal who has crossed ethical lines, emphasize righteous conduct; if it’s a conservative, emphasize forgiveness and verses like “Judge not lest you be judged.” If it’s Bill Clinton in the dock, savage him; if it’s Donald Trump, savage his critics.[2]

Peter Wehner, “Evangelicals Made a Bad Bargain With Trump,” Atlantic, October 18, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/10/the-evangelical-movements-bad-bargain/616760/


  1. [1]Nicholas Goldberg, “Is Trump the worst president ever? He’s got some competition,” Los Angeles Times, October 20, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-10-20/the-worst-president-in-american-history
  2. [2]Peter Wehner, “Evangelicals Made a Bad Bargain With Trump,” Atlantic, October 18, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/10/the-evangelical-movements-bad-bargain/616760/

No silver bullets for this pandemic (Update #8)

Updates

  1. Originally published, October 21, 2020, at 10:57 pm.

  2. October 21, 2020, 11:44 pm:

    • So I was wondering about possible evictions, specifically about two vacant apartments in my building, at my apartment complex.[1] Guess what? The Alden South Hills is pursuing 44 evictions. A magistrate judge has already refused some of them, giving tenants additional time to pay.[2] I have always paid my rent here on time, but in my experience, with regard to rent payments, the management does adopt a rather threatening tone, carrying an undertone that if you live in this complex, you are a deadbeat, so it’s not at all unreasonable to suspect that some vacancies in the complex may be to avoid being evicted and thus to avoid the difficulties of finding a new apartment when evictions have been recorded.

  3. October 22, 2020, 8:55 am:

    • I am revising the language in update #2 to make it a bit more complete. The revised text appears there.

  4. October 22, 2020, 10:20 am:

    • It’s a stretch, and the author even says it’s a stretch, but it’s possible to interpret the Third Amendment, prohibiting the quartering of soldiers in people’s homes, as guaranteeing a right to protection from contagious disease. It seems that smallpox is an important part of the historical context for that amendment, where British soldiers had deliberately passed the disease to American Indians, and not so deliberately to colonists.[3]

  5. October 22, 2020, 10:04 pm:

    • Have I mentioned that Uber and Lyft are evil? Uber is forcing its California drivers to acknowledge repeated messages in support of Proposition 22, at least at one point, for every ride they got.[4] The proposition would exempt them from California’s Assembly Bill 5, which codified a state supreme court decision, and requires the companies to correctly classify their drivers as employees rather than misclassifying them as independent contractors and denying them important labor protections.[5] The companies have been spending record-breaking amounts of money, in a state notorious for plentiful and ludicrously expensive propositions, in support of Proposition 22.[6] Now, some drivers have filed a class action suit against Uber’s practice of bombarding them with the pro-Proposition 22 message, even as the company insists that a majority of its drivers already support the proposition and their own misclassification,[7] which obviously raises the question of, if the independent contractor scam is indeed so popular with its drivers, why must Uber resort to such tactics to support it?

  6. October 23, 2020, 3:33 am:

    • An appeals court upheld[8] a lower court ruling that Uber and Lyft must classify their California drivers as employees[9] (see previous update, October 22, 2020, 10:04 pm) after granting a stay of the lower court ruling[10] that that court had refused to grant.[11]

  7. October 23, 2020, 3:37 am:

    • I caught a wording error in the update for October 22, 2020, 10:04 pm. This error has now been corrected.

  8. October 23, 2020, 10:04 pm:

    • Landlords are finding ways around the eviction moratorium, which expires at the end of the year anyway, but nonetheless suing to overturn it. It’s not at all apparent how folks who are already failing to pay rent are going to be able to find new apartments, so evictions effectively render them homeless. In a pandemic. “When tenants are evicted, they often move in with other family members, increasing the size of households and the chance for viral transmission.”[12]

    • I’ve been saying for a while that we’ve been doing everything wrong with the pandemic. And we already knew we were headed into a third surge.[13] Here we are:

      And it’s not simply a matter of increased testing identifying more cases. Covid-19 hospitalizations increased in 38 states over the past week. The number of deaths nationally has crested above 1,000 in recent days.

      The last time the country hit a new daily record for coronavirus cases — 76,533 on July 17 — just four states accounted for more than 40,000 of those cases: Arizona, California, Florida and Texas, according to a Washington Post analysis.

      On Friday, 11 states accounted for that same lion’s share of cases. And in the past two weeks, 24 states have broken their records for single-day highs of cases. . . .

      “One key way we got through previous waves was by moving health-care workers around. That’s just not possible when the virus is surging everywhere,” said Eleanor J. Murray, an epidemiologist at Boston University.[14]

      Don’t forget that even as there is a shortage of doctors and nurses to deal with the surge, they too fall ill, reducing the number available even further. And there are drug shortages. But politicians have just decided we’re going to have to live with it.[15] Or, as some have suggested, die with it.


Pandemic

There is a new blog post entitled, “About that promised COVID-19 vaccine: Sorry, we still aren’t getting out of this pandemic anytime soon.

David Salisbury, “If you’re pinning your hopes on a Covid vaccine, here’s a dose of realism,” Guardian, October 21, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/oct/21/covid-vaccine-immunisation-protection

Melody Schreiber, “A Covid-19 Vaccine Doesn’t Need to Be Perfect,” New Republic, October 21, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/159868/covid-19-vaccine-efficacy-perfect

Alexander Zhang, “The Forgotten Third Amendment Could Give Pandemic-Struck America a Way Forward,” Atlantic, October 21, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/10/could-third-amendment-protect-against-infection/616791/

William Wan and Jacqueline Dupree, “America hits highest daily number of coronavirus cases since pandemic began,” Washington Post, October 23, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/10/23/covid-us-spike-cases/


Evictions

Ryan Deto, “Pittsburgh-area apartment complex The Alden South Hills seeking large-scale evictions,” Pittsburgh City Paper, October 21, 2020, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/pittsburgh-area-apartment-complex-the-alden-south-hills-seeking-large-scale-evictions/Content?oid=18223682

Kriston Capps, “Landlords Challenge U.S. Eviction Ban and Continue to Oust Renters,” CityLab, October 22, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-22/landlords-launch-legal-attack-on-cdc-eviction-ban


Gig economy

Faiz Siddiqui and Reed Albergotti, “Uber drivers sue app over ‘constant barrage’ pushing California anti-employment initiative,” Washington Post, October 22, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/10/22/uber-prop22-suit/


  1. [1]David Benfell, “Not even a euphemism: ‘Houseless,’” Not Housebroken, October 18, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/10/18/not-even-a-euphemism-houseless/
  2. [2]Ryan Deto, “Pittsburgh-area apartment complex The Alden South Hills seeking large-scale evictions,” Pittsburgh City Paper, October 21, 2020, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/pittsburgh-area-apartment-complex-the-alden-south-hills-seeking-large-scale-evictions/Content?oid=18223682
  3. [3]Alexander Zhang, “The Forgotten Third Amendment Could Give Pandemic-Struck America a Way Forward,” Atlantic, October 21, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/10/could-third-amendment-protect-against-infection/616791/
  4. [4]Faiz Siddiqui and Reed Albergotti, “Uber drivers sue app over ‘constant barrage’ pushing California anti-employment initiative,” Washington Post, October 22, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/10/22/uber-prop22-suit/
  5. [5]Sophia Bollag, “California Uber, Lyft drivers to become employees under measure Gov. Gavin Newsom says he’ll sign,” Sacramento Bee, September 11, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article234973107.html; Alexia Fernández Campbell, “California is cracking down on the gig economy,” Vox, May 30, 2019, https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/5/30/18642535/california-ab5-misclassify-employees-contractors; Aaron Gordon, “Uber And Lyft Don’t Have A Right To Exist,” Jalopnik, August 30, 2019, https://jalopnik.com/uber-and-lyft-dont-have-a-right-to-exist-1837680434; Aaron Gordon, “Uber To California: Make Us,” Jalopnik, September 11, 2019, https://jalopnik.com/uber-and-lyft-drivers-shouldnt-expect-to-be-employees-a-1838048966; Nathan Heller, “A New California Law Takes Aim at Uber and Lyft,” New Yorker, September 12, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-silicon-valley/a-new-california-law-takes-aim-at-uber-and-lyft; Michael Hiltzik, “How millions from Uber and Lyft are funding the harassment of a critic,” Los Angeles Times, September 2, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-09-02/uber-lyft-veena-dubal-twitter-bullying; Therese Poletti, “Uber and Lyft’s ‘day of reckoning’ is finally here,” MarketWatch, August 12, 2020, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/uber-and-lyfts-day-of-reckoning-is-finally-here-2020-08-11
  6. [6]Michael Hiltzik, “Uber and Lyft just made their campaign to keep exploiting workers the costliest in history,” Los Angeles Times, September 8, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-09-08/uber-lyft-most-expensive-initiative
  7. [7]Faiz Siddiqui and Reed Albergotti, “Uber drivers sue app over ‘constant barrage’ pushing California anti-employment initiative,” Washington Post, October 22, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/10/22/uber-prop22-suit/
  8. [8]Kanishka Singh and Tina Bellon, “California appeals court rules Uber, Lyft must reclassify drivers as employees,” Reuters, October 22, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-uber-california-drivers-idUSKBN27805F
  9. [9]Faiz Siddiqui, “Uber and Lyft must make their drivers in California full employees, judge rules,” Washington Post, August 10, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/08/10/uber-lyft-ab5/
  10. [10]Lauren Feiner, “Appeals court grants Uber and Lyft a temporary reprieve following threats to shut down in California,” CNBC, August 20, 2020, https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/20/appeals-court-grants-uber-and-lyft-a-temporary-reprieve-in-case-over-driver-classification.html
  11. [11]Jonathan Stempel, “Judge rejects Uber, Lyft bids to delay California driver injunction,” Yahoo!, August 13, 2020, https://finance.yahoo.com/news/uber-lyft-lose-bid-delay-184959283.html
  12. [12]Kriston Capps, “Landlords Challenge U.S. Eviction Ban and Continue to Oust Renters,” CityLab, October 22, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-22/landlords-launch-legal-attack-on-cdc-eviction-ban
  13. [13]Antonia Noori Farzan et al. “U.S. surpasses 64,000 new coronavirus infections two days in a row for first time since late July,” Washington Post, October 16, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/10/16/coronavirus-covid-live-updates-us/; Elliot Hannon, “Trump Says “We’re Rounding the Turn” the Same Day the U.S. Approaches Record Number of New Coronavirus Cases,” Slate, October 23, 2020, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/10/u-s-record-coronavirus-single-day-cases-trump-debate-declares-country-rounding-the-turn.html
  14. [14]William Wan and Jacqueline Dupree, “America hits highest daily number of coronavirus cases since pandemic began,” Washington Post, October 23, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/10/23/covid-us-spike-cases/
  15. [15]William Wan and Jacqueline Dupree, “America hits highest daily number of coronavirus cases since pandemic began,” Washington Post, October 23, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/10/23/covid-us-spike-cases/; Elliot Hannon, “Trump Says “We’re Rounding the Turn” the Same Day the U.S. Approaches Record Number of New Coronavirus Cases,” Slate, October 23, 2020, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/10/u-s-record-coronavirus-single-day-cases-trump-debate-declares-country-rounding-the-turn.html

The Pennsylvania Legislature should be thrown in jail

Pennsylvania

Killing people is a crime, but even as COVID-19 case counts surge,[1] the Pennsylvania legislature is still desperately trying to spread the disease.[2] The capitalist god demands human sacrifice[3] and the legislature is eager to oblige.

Megan Guza, “Covid resurgence is here, Pa. officials say after 14 days of new cases topping 1,000,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 19, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/covid-resurgence-is-here-state-officials-say-after-14-days-of-new-cases-topping-1000/

Stephen Caruso, “Pa. House falls two votes shy of overturning Wolf restaurant occupancy veto,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, October 20, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/covid-19/pa-house-falls-two-votes-shy-of-overturning-wolf-restaurant-occupancy-veto/


  1. [1]Megan Guza, “Covid resurgence is here, Pa. officials say after 14 days of new cases topping 1,000,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 19, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/covid-resurgence-is-here-state-officials-say-after-14-days-of-new-cases-topping-1000/; Samson X. Horne, “Pennsylvania reports 2nd-highest covid-19 case count,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 17, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-05/supreme-court-rejects-challenge-to-pennsylvania-shutdown-order
  2. [2]Stephen Caruso, “Pa. House falls two votes shy of overturning Wolf restaurant occupancy veto,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, October 20, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/covid-19/pa-house-falls-two-votes-shy-of-overturning-wolf-restaurant-occupancy-veto/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “The capitalist death cult,” Not Housebroken, March 27, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/03/27/the-capitalist-death-cult/; David Benfell, “An impatient capitalist god demands human sacrifice. Now,” Not Housebroken, April 17, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/15/an-impatient-capitalist-god-demands-human-sacrifice-now/; David Benfell, “Surprise! Surprise! The capitalist god is greedy!” Not Housebroken, May 25, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/05/23/surprise-surprise-the-capitalist-god-is-greedy/