Symbol and substance in anti-racism demonstrations

Updates

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

The Lost Cause

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

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


Pandemic

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Recession, depression, my car has broken down

There’s no commentary in this issue. I had to take my car into the dealer because the dreaded “Check Hybrid System” indication came on. It looked to me, from what I could see, that the system is in fact still working. I can only hope that that means the battery has not gone bad.

It’d probably cost something like $4,000 to replace that battery. I don’t have it and, frankly, the car isn’t worth it. As of last night, the cost per mile clocked in at 34¢ per mile; this’d likely double that, putting it well past the IRS mileage allowance, even without depreciation.

I’m terrified. And I’m unlikely to hear before the end of the week because it’ll take that long before they even get to it.


Donald Trump


History

Bess Connolly, “Climate change, the rise of the Roman Empire, and the fall of the Ptolemies,” Yale University, June 22, 2020, https://news.yale.edu/2020/06/22/climate-change-rise-roman-empire-and-fall-ptolemies


Recession

Annie Lowrey, “The Second Great Depression,” Atlantic, June 23, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/06/second-great-depression/613360/

Neil Paine and Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux, “What Economists Fear Most During This Recovery,” FiveThirtyEight, June 23, 2020, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/what-economists-fear-most-during-this-recovery/


An unfathomable breadth and depth of corruption, led by a black hole

United Kingdom

I would assume that something similar to what George Monbiot has described of the United Kingdom’s atrocities and cover-ups[1] is true of the United States. We know only the more shameless ones like Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, unauthorized migrants on the southern border, slavery, the American Indians, southeast Asia, and racist police. And it is certainly not like only Britain’s hands are dirty in Yemen.

I remember in my undergraduate career, whenever I had the temerity to imagine I had a handle of the breadth and depth of corruption in our system of social organization, I had only to kick over another rock to find it even more vastly deeper and broader. That’s worth remembering as we have a black hole presidency—the U.S. will not suddenly be “pure” when the delusional raging narcissist-in-chief, the racist authoritarian populist rapist, leaves office, whether or not replaced by the racist neoliberal rapist.

George Monbiot, “Lying In State,” June 21, 2020, https://www.monbiot.com/2020/06/21/lying-in-state/


Pandemic

There is a new blog post entitled, “Endorsing a giant meteor strike in 2020.”

Rashawn Ray and Rebecca Shankman, “How COVID-19 is changing the gun debate,” Brookings, June 17, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2020/06/17/how-covid-19-is-changing-the-gun-debate/


Pacific Gas and Electric

Kanishka Singh, “PG&E says bankruptcy court approves its Chapter 11 reorganization plan,” Reuters, June 20, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pg-e-us-bankruptcy/pge-says-bankruptcy-court-approves-its-chapter-11-reorganization-plan-idUSKBN23R0SL


  1. [1]George Monbiot, “Lying In State,” June 21, 2020, https://www.monbiot.com/2020/06/21/lying-in-state/

The bullshit is stro-o-o-ng, today

There is an update to an earlier post in this space, “The capitalist god is still getting its human sacrifice.”


Civil War

There is a new blog post entitled, “How many times must it be explained that the Civil War was about the preservation of slavery?” I mean, seriously, this is getting tiresome.

Marc Fisher, “Confederate statues: In 2020, a renewed battle in America’s enduring Civil War,” Washington Post, June 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2020/06/11/confederate-statues-attacked-protesters-george-floyd/


Gig economy

San Jose Mercury News, “CPUC rules Uber, Lyft drivers are company employees,” Sacramento Bee, June 11, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/business/article243464631.html


Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto has truly been a jackass on Twitter, uttering disgraceful banalities in response to the protests that have sprung up in response to the police murder of George Floyd and I and others have been reaming his ass about the grievances Blacks have in Pittsburgh. (I quoted one of these tweets and part of my response to it in a since updated blog post.[1])

In a way, it’s understandable. You grow up with a situation, pretty much as I did in the San Francisco Bay Area, and you don’t question it. It simply is, like the fog creeping over Twin Peaks or the rustle of a breeze in the eucalyptus leaves. Certainly I saw poorer neighborhoods there. But coming here, what I’ve seen is generally worse—the worst of the housing projects have now mostly been torn down around San Francisco but are plentiful around Pittsburgh.

I can think of only one comparable situation to the neighborhoods I see here today and I can remember it from my childhood: As I recall, it was mostly along Post and Sutter Streets, between about Lyon and Steiner Streets, where all the houses had been boarded up and stencil-painted with warnings that they had been condemned for rodent infestations. That housing was never torn down but has since all been gentrified (I’m guessing about thirty years ago, forty at the most) in merely one example of what makes me doubt the claim that Pittsburgh is more heavily gentrified than San Francisco.[2]

You’re entitled to critique the comparison: Here what I see is often lots of abandoned homes mixed with houses still being occupied, often not looking much better. This is neglect and disinvestment. What I saw in the Western Addition in San Francisco, I still don’t understand, and always thought stunk to high heaven: How could it have been that all those houses had rat infestations, while houses a couple blocks away, even on Bush Street, certainly on Pine, remained safe for occupancy? (As you proceed in this direction, you get closer to Pacific Heights, a very wealthy neighborhood.)

Peduto hasn’t replied directly to my tweets. But he did release a statement yesterday that, if words translate to action, seems to be a beginning.[3] We’ll see.

Teghan Simonton, “Peduto gives statement on George Floyd and Black Lives Matter movement,” Tribune-Review, June 11, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/peduto-gives-statement-on-george-floyd-and-black-lives-matter-movement/


  1. [1]David Benfell, “The reason the status quo is not the answer is that the status quo cannot be the answer,” Not Housebroken, June 4, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/06/01/the-reason-the-status-quo-is-not-the-answer-is-that-the-status-quo-cannot-be-the-answer/
  2. [2]Ryan Deto, “Pittsburgh is one of the most gentrified cities in the U.S.,” Pittsburgh City Paper, April 4, 2019, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/pittsburgh-is-one-of-the-most-gentrified-cities-in-the-us/Content?oid=14381722
  3. [3]Teghan Simonton, “Peduto gives statement on George Floyd and Black Lives Matter movement,” Tribune-Review, June 11, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/peduto-gives-statement-on-george-floyd-and-black-lives-matter-movement/

Scottish independence redux

Scotland

In the abstract, I absolutely favor Scottish independence. But in fairness, there are reasons for skepticism: First, while Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish National Party may indeed be able to bend the U.K. establishment into allowing another referendum, it might well, once again, fail to pass.[1] Even if it passes, there are doubts about Scotland’s ability to support itself,[2] which I think exceed those in the earlier referendum.

We are just about to find out how well Boris Johnson’s humbug about Brexit will play. I fear that Sturgeon’s is little better.

Severin Carrell and Libby Brooks, “SNP turns focus back to independence after election boost,” Guardian, December 16, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/dec/16/snp-turns-focus-back-to-independence-after-election-boost

Philip Sim, “Scottish independence: Could Scotland leave the UK and stay in the EU?” British Broadcasting Corporation December 18, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-50813510


Buddhism

There is a new blog entry entitled, “Solipsism as intellectualism and as spiritualism.”

Alexander Wynne, “Who was the Buddha?” Aeon, December 17, 2019, https://aeon.co/essays/was-the-buddha-an-awakened-prince-or-a-humble-itinerant


  1. [1]Severin Carrell and Libby Brooks, “SNP turns focus back to independence after election boost,” Guardian, December 16, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/dec/16/snp-turns-focus-back-to-independence-after-election-boost; Philip Sim, “Scottish independence: Could Scotland leave the UK and stay in the EU?” British Broadcasting Corporation December 18, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-50813510
  2. [2]Philip Sim, “Scottish independence: Could Scotland leave the UK and stay in the EU?” British Broadcasting Corporation December 18, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-50813510

By all means, let’s elect yet another fucking neoliberal

Neoliberalism

John Feffer traces the betrayal of workers from the fall of the Berlin Wall to Donald Trump’s election.[1] This dovetails with Melvin Leffler’s account of how the U.S. political mainstream drew the wrong message from that fall.[2] But by all means, let’s elect yet another fucking neoliberal. I am remembering what I wrote in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s defeat. It still applies. The difference now is that the Republicans have caught the disease as well.

John Feffer, “Did the Fall of the Berlin Wall Produce the Trump Presidency?” Foreign Policy in Focus, November 13, 2019, https://fpif.org/did-the-fall-of-the-berlin-wall-produce-the-trump-presidency/


  1. [1]John Feffer, “Did the Fall of the Berlin Wall Produce the Trump Presidency?” Foreign Policy in Focus, November 13, 2019, https://fpif.org/did-the-fall-of-the-berlin-wall-produce-the-trump-presidency/
  2. [2]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

Francis Drake might have landed in Oregon, not California

Francis Drake

Melissa Darby argues that Francis Drake may have landed in Oregon rather than California, that Chinese porcelain fragments may not have come from Drake’s ship, and that Herbert Bolton, who had already established a reputation in academia and was in the twilight of his career, may have made up the whole thing about the Point Reyes site as a joke that got out of control.[1] Note that none of this actually amounts to a refutation:

Members of the Drake Navigators Guild, a nonprofit group championing the Drakes Bay theory, soundly reject [Melissa] Darby’s assertion about [Herbert] Bolton. “The idea of a conspiracy doesn’t work,” says Michael Von der Porten, a financial planner and second-generation member of the guild whose father was part of the 2003 team that studied the hoax. He also dismisses her conclusions about a landing north of Drakes Bay. “This is yet another fringe theory, a total farce.”

Michael Moratto, an archaeologist who has been digging around Drakes Bay for decades, agrees. “I’ve spent 50 years listening to all sides of the debate, and for me it is settled.” Darby favors an Oregon landing site for parochial reasons, he adds, and “is twisting all of this to suit her own purposes.” He still maintains that some of the Chinese porcelain found at the bay came from [Francis] Drake’s cargo.[2]

Andrew Lawler, “Did Francis Drake Really Land in California?” Smithsonian, September 26, 2019, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/did-francis-drake-really-land-california-180973219/


Israel

Felicia Schwartz, “Netanyahu Is Given Four Days in Pretrial Hearing to Fend Off Formal Charges,” Wall Street Journal, September 29, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/netanyahu-is-given-four-days-in-pretrial-hearing-to-fend-off-formal-charges-11569773428


Brexit

Kate Proctor, “Boris Johnson fuels speculation he could ignore Brexit delay law,” Guardian, September 29, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/29/boris-johnson-fuels-speculation-could-ignore-brexit-delay-law


Redlining

I’m beginning to make a project of cataloging the weapons, gratuitously displayed, that I refer to in a previous blog post.[3] It is possible to honor veterans and war dead without guns—indeed, many sites in the area do just this—so the fetishization here remains truly striking and while I may need to refine the scope of my claim, there are an awful lot of weapons on display in and around redlined areas.

After I recognized what I was seeing from Ta-Nehisi Coates’ description,[4] my mother confirmed that there was “terrible” (I think she used that word) redlining in Pittsburgh. I pondered that later, wondering how she knew: Wouldn’t, I thought to myself, something like this be kept an insiders’ secret?

Um, no. I’ve found a redlining map of Pittsburgh. It does not cover the entire area that I am covering. But it is well worth exploring. The site is interactive in ways you might not expect, so try clicking on things, and then read the reports compiled at the time for each of the “graded areas.”[5] This is a historical gold mine.

What I can say is first, that it is shocking to see just how much of Pittsburgh was redlined—much, much more than could possibly be kept a secret—and second, that, over 80 years later, many of these areas have still not recovered, either through redevelopment or gentrification. There are many abandoned buildings, often more than one on a block, some of which have satellite dishes attached to them, indicating more recent occupancy, but showing that when calamity of one sort or another (often fire) strikes, properties may simply be left to crumble while neighbors strive to carry on. And, of course, these areas appear to have very high proportions of Blacks among their populations.

To be honest, I’ve never seen anything quite like this before. It’s jawdropping—all of it—what I’m seeing on the redlining map and what I’m seeing on the ground.

I’m still finding guns and other heavy weaponry on a catch-as-catch-can basis, so far, mostly south of the Monongahela River (the area I cover most intensively while driving for Lyft). It would be good to be more systematic about this.


  1. [1]Andrew Lawler, “Did Francis Drake Really Land in California?” Smithsonian, September 26, 2019, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/did-francis-drake-really-land-california-180973219/
  2. [2]Andrew Lawler, “Did Francis Drake Really Land in California?” Smithsonian, September 26, 2019, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/did-francis-drake-really-land-california-180973219/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “The banners and the guns: Flagrant racism in Pittsburgh,” Not Housebroken, September 22, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/09/20/the-banners-and-the-guns-flagrant-racism-in-pittsburgh/
  4. [4]Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The Case for Reparations,” Atlantic, June 2014, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/06/the-case-for-reparations/361631/
  5. [5]Robert K. Nelson et al., “Mapping Inequality,” University of Richmond, ed. Robert K. Nelson and Edward L. Ayers, n.d., https://dsl.richmond.edu/panorama/redlining/#loc=12/40.442/-80.073&city=pittsburgh-pa

Jeremy Corbyn has a plan.

Brexit

Jeremy Corbyn has a plan. It’s not clear that it will work. It would likely go to court. But he has a plan.[1]

Al Jazeera, “UK’s Labour vows to oust Johnson, delay Brexit and call election,” August 14, 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/08/uk-labour-vows-oust-johnson-delay-brexit-call-election-190814163557439.html

Camilla Tominey, “Jeremy Corbyn writes to MPs in bid to oust Boris Johnson over Brexit,” Telegraph, August 14, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/08/14/jeremy-corbyn-writes-mps-say-make-pm-stop-no-deal-brexit-cross/


My old high school

There is a new blog post entitled, “A non-conformist mural and a non-conformist kid: Why the mural still must be covered up.

Carol Pogash, “San Francisco School Board Votes to Hide, but Not Destroy, Disputed Murals,” New York Times, August 14, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/14/arts/san-francisco-murals-george-washington.html


Recession

Pretty much[2] as I said yesterday.[3] To me, and I don’t think this is quite true, it’s as if the numbers are following the psychology. It might be that reporting on the numbers[4] follows the psychology, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.[5]

Josh Mitchell and Jon Hilsenrath, “Warning Signs Point to a Global Slowdown,” Wall Street Journal, August 14, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/warning-signs-point-to-a-global-slowdown-11565814494

David Scutt, “The ‘doom loop’ that could bring on a global recession,” Sydney Morning Herald, August 15, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/markets/the-doom-loop-could-bring-on-a-global-recession-20190815-p52h9v.html


Jeffrey Epstein

There is another new blog entry entitled, “Wait, what? Jeffrey Epstein strangled? Probably not. Only probably.

Carol D. Leonnig and Aaron C. Davis, “Autopsy finds broken bones in Jeffrey Epstein’s neck, deepening questions around his death,” Washington Post, August 15, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/autopsy-finds-broken-bones-in-jeffrey-epsteins-neck-deepening-questions-around-his-death/2019/08/14/d09ac934-bdd9-11e9-b873-63ace636af08_story.html


Migration

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that it took so long for this ruling to come out. This is the case in which a Department of Justice lawyer was trying to argue that enumerated items, that is, “adequate food, water, bedding, toothbrushes and soap,”[6] amounted to a modification of the Flores agreement requiring safe and sanitary conditions for detained migrant children. It was not a persuasive argument, but it was apparently the only way the government even could appeal, and it was pretty clear that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals would do[7] just what it did today,[8] upholding Judge Dolly Gee’s order for an rapid improvement in conditions. The government was whining that it couldn’t comply given a surge of migrants[9] and no doubt, the Trump administration will try to find a way to appeal this ruling nonetheless.

Maura Dolan, “Court upholds ruling that children held at border must have adequate food, bedding, sanitation,” Los Angeles Times, August 15, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-08-15/children-border-sanitary-conditions-flores-agreement-9th-circuit


  1. [1]Al Jazeera, “UK’s Labour vows to oust Johnson, delay Brexit and call election,” August 14, 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/08/uk-labour-vows-oust-johnson-delay-brexit-call-election-190814163557439.html; Camilla Tominey, “Jeremy Corbyn writes to MPs in bid to oust Boris Johnson over Brexit,” Telegraph, August 14, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/08/14/jeremy-corbyn-writes-mps-say-make-pm-stop-no-deal-brexit-cross/
  2. [2]David Scutt, “The ‘doom loop’ that could bring on a global recession,” Sydney Morning Herald, August 15, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/markets/the-doom-loop-could-bring-on-a-global-recession-20190815-p52h9v.html
  3. [3]David Benfell, “As a possible or probable recession looms, neoliberalism evades challenge. Yet again,” Not Housebroken, August 14, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/14/as-a-possible-or-probable-recession-looms-neoliberalism-evades-challenge-yet-again/
  4. [4]Josh Mitchell and Jon Hilsenrath, “Warning Signs Point to a Global Slowdown,” Wall Street Journal, August 14, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/warning-signs-point-to-a-global-slowdown-11565814494
  5. [5]David Scutt, “The ‘doom loop’ that could bring on a global recession,” Sydney Morning Herald, August 15, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/markets/the-doom-loop-could-bring-on-a-global-recession-20190815-p52h9v.html
  6. [6]Maura Dolan, “Court upholds ruling that children held at border must have adequate food, bedding, sanitation,” Los Angeles Times, August 15, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-08-15/children-border-sanitary-conditions-flores-agreement-9th-circuit
  7. [7]Ken White, “Why a Government Lawyer Argued Against Giving Immigrant Kids Toothbrushes,” Atlantic, June 23, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/06/why-sarah-fabian-argued-against-giving-kids-toothbrushes/592366/
  8. [8]Maura Dolan, “Court upholds ruling that children held at border must have adequate food, bedding, sanitation,” Los Angeles Times, August 15, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-08-15/children-border-sanitary-conditions-flores-agreement-9th-circuit
  9. [9]Miriam Jordan, “Judge Orders Swift Action to Improve Conditions for Migrant Children in Texas,” New York Times, June 29, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/29/us/migrant-children-detention-texas.html

Owned

Migration

There is a new blog post entitled, “Owning the libtards.”

Analysts say the public charge change [announced August 12] could dramatically reduce family-based legal immigration to the United States, particularly from Latin America and Africa, where incomes are generally lower than the rest of the world. It also could lead to an increase in deportations, as those present with some form of provisional or temporary immigration status in the United States are denied legal residency.[1]

Abigail Hauslohner et al., “Trump officials move to deny green cards, path to citizenship for poor immigrants,” Washington Post, August 12, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/trump-administration-aims-to-make-citizenship-more-difficult-for-immigrants-who-rely-on-public-assistance/2019/08/12/fe3f8162-b565-11e9-8949-5f36ff92706e_story.html

Public Broadcasting System, “Trump administration issues rules to deny green cards for immigrants on food stamps,” August 12, 2019, https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/new-rules-can-deny-green-cards-for-immigrants-on-food-stamps?fbclid=IwAR3ucMIKGcFP9nPmwyvnfib6SfsYY4zV0H-KFvoAEwaiOmgPkHbcLHJ5aOU

Devan Cole, “Cuccinelli rewrites Statue of Liberty poem to make case for limiting immigration,” CNN, August 13, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/13/politics/ken-cuccinelli-statue-of-liberty/index.html


Pittsburgh

Beaver County is getting a Royal Dutch Shell ethylene cracker plant. Because U.S. Steel’s pollution isn’t enough already.[2] And Donald Trump was here to celebrate claim credit for the plant which was announced in 2012.[3]

Do I need to say it? I mean, I get it. It’s been a long, long two and a half years. But Trump was inaugurated in 2017, five years after the plant was announced.[4]

Eric Heyl, “Trump Takes Credit For Plant Announced 5 Years Before Presidency,” Patch, August 13, 2019, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/gt5wi/trump-takes-credit-for-plant-announced-5-years-before-presidency

Eric Heyl, “Trump To Tour Shell Cracker Plant, Protesters Anticipated,” Patch, August 13, 2019, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/gt595/trump-to-tour-shell-cracker-plant-protesters-anticipated


Military

William Astore[5] inspired me to resurrect and update my adaptation of The History Guy’s “American Military History.”[6] My adaptation is in spreadsheet form and is intended to expose the number of calendar years without some sort of U.S. war. The total number remains sixteen; the longest interregnum remains eight. A limitation is that the History Guy uses 1890 as an ending date for the American Indian Wars;[7] some would dispute this. We have been in a continuous state of war (this includes the Cold War from 1945 through 1991) since 1941. The spreadsheet is now available via Google Sheets so I think anyone with a modern web browser (certainly Google Chrome) should be able to view it.

William J. Astore, “In Wars and Weapons We Trust: America’s Militarized Profession of Faith,” TomDispatch, August 13, 2019, http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176596/tomgram%3A_william_astore%2C_military_strength_is_our_national_religion/


My old high school

Carol Pogash, “San Francisco School Board May Save Controversial George Washington Mural,” New York Times, August 10, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/10/arts/san-francisco-murals.html


Jeffrey Epstein

As predicted,[8] heads are rolling at the Metropolitan Correctional Center,[9] presumably making the understaffing problem[10] there worse.

David Shortell, “Warden at prison where Epstein died is temporarily reassigned and staffers placed on leave,” CNN, August 13, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/13/politics/epstein-mcc-warden/index.html


Palestine

You didn’t really think Israel wants a two-state solution, did you? Apparently some U.S. lawmakers made that mistake when they authored and passed an anti-BDS (Boycott, Diversity and Sanction) bill.[11]

Gil Hoffman, “Israeli MKs to Congress: Thanks, but BDS bill ‘dangerous for
Israel,’” Jerusalem Post, August 12, 2019, https://www.jpost.com/American-Politics/Israeli-MKs-to-Congress-Thanks-but-BDS-bill-dangerous-for-Israel-598392

Michael Arria, “Israeli lawmakers to Congress: two-state solution far more dangerous to Israel than BDS,” Mondoweiss, August 13, 2019, https://mondoweiss.net/2019/08/lawmakers-congress-dangerous/


  1. [1]Abigail Hauslohner et al., “Trump officials move to deny green cards, path to citizenship for poor immigrants,” Washington Post, August 12, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/trump-administration-aims-to-make-citizenship-more-difficult-for-immigrants-who-rely-on-public-assistance/2019/08/12/fe3f8162-b565-11e9-8949-5f36ff92706e_story.html
  2. [2]Jessi Quinn Alperin, “Clairton, PA, wants to be clear: Residents demand accountability from U.S. Steel,” Environmental Health Network, May 13, 2019, https://www.ehn.org/clairton-coke-works-air-pollution-2636784943.html; Eric Heyl, “Trump To Tour Shell Cracker Plant, Protesters Anticipated,” Patch, August 13, 2019, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/gt595/trump-to-tour-shell-cracker-plant-protesters-anticipated; Kris Maher, “Pittsburgh Breathes Easier After Repairs at U.S. Steel Coke Plant,” Wall Street Journal, May 26, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pittsburgh-breathes-easier-after-repairs-at-u-s-steel-coke-plant-11558872000; Kris Maher, “U.S. Steel Suffers New Fire Knocking Out Pollution Controls in Plant Near Pittsburgh,” Wall Street Journal, June 17, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-steel-suffers-new-fire-knocking-out-pollution-controls-in-plant-near-pittsburgh-11560795102
  3. [3]Eric Heyl, “Trump Takes Credit For Plant Announced 5 Years Before Presidency,” Patch, August 13, 2019, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/gt5wi/trump-takes-credit-for-plant-announced-5-years-before-presidency; Eric Heyl, “Trump To Tour Shell Cracker Plant, Protesters Anticipated,” Patch, August 13, 2019, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/gt595/trump-to-tour-shell-cracker-plant-protesters-anticipated
  4. [4]Eric Heyl, “Trump Takes Credit For Plant Announced 5 Years Before Presidency,” Patch, August 13, 2019, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/gt5wi/trump-takes-credit-for-plant-announced-5-years-before-presidency
  5. [5]William J. Astore, “In Wars and Weapons We Trust: America’s Militarized Profession of Faith,” TomDispatch, August 13, 2019, http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176596/tomgram%3A_william_astore%2C_military_strength_is_our_national_religion/
  6. [6]The History Guy, “American Military History,” 2017, https://www.historyguy.com/american_military_history.html
  7. [7]The History Guy, “American Military History,” 2017, https://www.historyguy.com/american_military_history.html
  8. [8]David Benfell, “Jeffrey Epstein almost certainly committed suicide. Not that that will quiet the conspiracy clowns,” Irregular Bullshit, August 12, 2019, https://disunitedstates.com/2019/08/12/jeffrey-epstein-almost-certainly-committed-suicide-not-that-that-will-quiet-the-conspiracy-clowns/
  9. [9]David Shortell, “Warden at prison where Epstein died is temporarily reassigned and staffers placed on leave,” CNN, August 13, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/13/politics/epstein-mcc-warden/index.html
  10. [10]Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, “Corrections officers did not check on Epstein for ‘several’ hours before his death, violating protocol, person familiar with case says,” Washington Post, August 11, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/it-was-inevitable-officers-watching-epstein-were-on-overtime-due-to-jail-staffing-shortage-union-president-says/2019/08/11/2b611404-bc5e-11e9-a5c6-1e74f7ec4a93_story.html
  11. [11]Michael Arria, “Israeli lawmakers to Congress: two-state solution far more dangerous to Israel than BDS,” Mondoweiss, August 13, 2019, https://mondoweiss.net/2019/08/lawmakers-congress-dangerous/; Gil Hoffman, “Israeli MKs to Congress: Thanks, but BDS bill ‘dangerous for
    Israel,’” Jerusalem Post, August 12, 2019, https://www.jpost.com/American-Politics/Israeli-MKs-to-Congress-Thanks-but-BDS-bill-dangerous-for-Israel-598392
It’s a cover-up! (Of a mural at my old high school.)

It’s a cover-up! (Of a mural at my old high school.)

George Washington High School

When I attended junior high and high school in San Francisco, Presidio Junior High covered grades seven through nine (yes, really!) and Washington High covered grades ten through twelve. I took California’s proficiency examination toward the end of the eleventh grade, passed, and moved with my mother to Sacramento, where I started that fall at Sacramento City College (I attended there one semester, then transferred to American River College, which seemed to have a better data processing program).

So I only attended George Washington High School for two years. But I believe I recognize the stairwell. The photographer’s vantage point (figure 1) appears to me to be beneath the principal’s office. As I recall, at least when I attended, students were forbidden from using this entrance. I didn’t know why, but I assumed it was to remind us that we were second-class citizens directed to side or rear entrances and barred from the main one. As I was being compelled to attend a place I absolutely despised, and as this was one of several schools where I was not protected from physical bullying, I had little reason to believe otherwise.
mural frs letters
Fig. 1. Image credited to Jim Wilson of the New York Times, April 9, 2019, via the Sacramento Bee, July 20, 2019, described as the lobby of George Washington High School. As I remember it, there was no such thing, certainly where this photograph was taken. It was just stairs. Fair use.[1]

I think it was in junior high, not in high school, where atrocities against American Indians were mentioned so briefly in passing that I was afraid to question them. So it’s a bit hard to imagine that even though this was a different school (albeit kitty-korner from the junior high), that we were forbidden from using that entrance out of sensitivity to Blacks or American Indians.

Karin Klein certainly raises that question with her argument in favor of covering over that mural (or series of murals).[2]

Her argument is interesting but I am deeply skeptical of her interpretation of the artwork:

What makes the mural even more sympathetic to anti-censorship advocates is its message, which was progressive, and even daring, for its time. Created by a communist Russian-American artist,Victor Arnautoff, as one of the artistic works sponsored by the New Deal, it gives an unflattering image of George Washington as a slave owner and shows white colonists stepping over the dead body of a Native American.

The wording has been heated on both sides – no surprise these days. A committee convened to examine the issue claimed that the mural glorified slavery, genocide and oppression. Did they even look at it? Do they know what glorifying means? The artwork is a clear statement to the opposite.[3]

I think that if Klein is correct in her interpretation, and I certainly see her logic, then Victor Arnautoff really pulled a fast one on the authorities at that time. It is inconceivable to me that they would have been sympathetic to such a portrayal, let alone allowed its placement where it might influence young minds.

Karin Klein, “At first, it looked like censorship. But covering up controversial mural makes sense,” Sacramento Bee, July 20, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/california-forum/article232846267.html


  1. [1]Karin Klein, “At first, it looked like censorship. But covering up controversial mural makes sense,” Sacramento Bee, July 20, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/california-forum/article232846267.html
  2. [2]Karin Klein, “At first, it looked like censorship. But covering up controversial mural makes sense,” Sacramento Bee, July 20, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/california-forum/article232846267.html
  3. [3]Karin Klein, “At first, it looked like censorship. But covering up controversial mural makes sense,” Sacramento Bee, July 20, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/california-forum/article232846267.html