Rest In Piss (Update #2)

Updates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rush Limbaugh

Just so we know where Binyamin Netanyahu stands:


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

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

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


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

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

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


Texas

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

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

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

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


Genetics

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

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


Gig work

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


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

The GameStop Squeeze looks like a classic pump-and-dump scam

I am expecting to be stuck at home tomorrow. As I understand it, the storm that hit Texas is expected here and no, I’m not taking it on.


Allegheny County

To give you an idea what kind of an area I live in, and indeed, one reason I probably really should move, I remember driving down Brownsville Road, just off Pennsylvania Route 51, one day and seeing unmasked Trumpsters coming from every direction. They were walking to a restaurant across the street from the Giant Eagle, which has been making quite a name for itself. It’s only a couple miles away from my apartment.

Today, the judge in the case of the Crack’d Egg Restaurant refused[1] to stay his order requiring the restaurant to either comply with COVID-19 mitigation orders or shut down.[2] Refusing to require face masks, the owner shut the restaurant down[3] and sought a stay pending appeal.[4] The restaurant had previously sought to evade the case by filing bankruptcy, but, accepting Allegheny County’s argument,[5] the bankruptcy judge refused that ploy,[6] and the restaurant has asked to withdraw the filing.[7] Not only had local law enforcement refused to enforce the restrictions even as the restaurant had brazenly flouted them, but unmasked officers posed with the owner in photographs.[8]

Paula Reed Ward, “Judge rules against Crack’d Egg restaurant: ‘They’ve largely chosen their fate here,’” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 17, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-rules-against-crackd-egg-restaurant-theyve-largely-chosen-their-fate-here/


GameStop Squeeze

The GameStop Squeeze is looking more and more like a classic pump-and-dump scam.[9] Some folks—and I don’t mean the hedge funds[10]—really got burned.[11] Keith Gill, a.k.a. “Roaring Kitty,” denies the allegation.[12]

Christian Berthelsen, “‘Roaring Kitty’ Sued for Securities Fraud Over GameStop Rise,” Bloomberg, February 17, 2021, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-02-17/-roaring-kitty-sued-for-securities-fraud-over-gamestop-rise


  1. [1]Paula Reed Ward, “Judge rules against Crack’d Egg restaurant: ‘They’ve largely chosen their fate here,’” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 17, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-rules-against-crackd-egg-restaurant-theyve-largely-chosen-their-fate-here/
  2. [2]Paula Reed Ward, “Judge orders Crack’d Egg to follow covid rules or close,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 3, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-orders-crackd-egg-to-follow-covid-rules-or-close/
  3. [3]Paul Martino, “After Defying Health Department, Crack’d Egg Follows Judge’s Ruling And Closes,” KDKA Television, February 4, 2021, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2021/02/04/crackd-egg-closes/
  4. [4]Paula Reed Ward, “Crack’d Egg seeks stay to injunction while appeal is heard,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 8, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/crackd-egg-seeks-stay-to-injunction-while-appeal-is-heard/
  5. [5]Paula Reed Ward, “Allegheny County argues Crack’d Egg can’t hide from covid restrictions under bankruptcy filing,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 5, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/allegheny-county-argues-crackd-egg-cant-hide-from-covid-restrictions-under-bankruptcy-filing/
  6. [6]Paula Reed Ward, “Judge rules against Crack’d Egg, health department case can proceed,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 7, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-rules-against-crackd-egg-health-department-case-can-proceed/
  7. [7]Paula Reed Ward, “Crack’d Egg restaurant asks to withdraw bankruptcy filing,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 2, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/crackd-egg-restaurant-asks-to-withdraw-bankruptcy-filing/
  8. [8]Paula Reed Ward, “Crack’d Egg flouts shutdown as deputies quarantined for dining, taking photos with owner,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 14, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/crackd-egg-flouts-shutdown-as-deputies-quarantined-for-dining-taking-photos-with-owner/
  9. [9]Christian Berthelsen, “‘Roaring Kitty’ Sued for Securities Fraud Over GameStop Rise,” Bloomberg, February 17, 2021, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-02-17/-roaring-kitty-sued-for-securities-fraud-over-gamestop-rise
  10. [10]Cory Doctorow, “Understanding /r/wallstreetbets,” Pluralistic, January 28, 2021, https://pluralistic.net/2021/01/28/payment-for-order-flow/#wallstreetbets; Matt Phillips and Taylor Lorenz, “‘Dumb Money’ Is on GameStop, and It’s Beating Wall Street at Its Own Game,” New York Times, January 27, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/27/business/gamestop-wall-street-bets.html; Sujata Rao, “Losses on short positions in U.S. firms top $70 billion – Ortex data,” Reuters, January 28, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-retail-trading-shortbets-idUSKBN29X1SW
  11. [11]Drew Harwell, “As GameStop stock crumbles, newbie traders reckon with heavy losses,” Washington Post, February 2, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/02/02/gamestop-stock-plunge-losers/
  12. [12]Christian Berthelsen, “‘Roaring Kitty’ Sued for Securities Fraud Over GameStop Rise,” Bloomberg, February 17, 2021, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-02-17/-roaring-kitty-sued-for-securities-fraud-over-gamestop-rise

Talking about San Francisco, talking about California (Update #4)

Updates

  1. Originally published, February 13, 2021, 12:29 pm.

  2. February 14, 2021, 3:50 am, revised at 11:13 am:

    • I just got home. I had a ride to close enough to Washington, D.C., that I passed Dulles International Airport and signs for the Air and Space Museum on the way. Rides like this seem spectacular, but I wind up driving back empty. By the time I account for operating costs, it isn’t that great a day, and I’m up terribly, terribly late.

    • The text previously here has been moved, edited, and expanded in a new blog post entitled, “The second farce.”

  3. February 14, 2021, 11:13 am:

    • There is a new blog post entitled, “The second farce.”

    • As I was walking back from the garage where I keep my car to my apartment early this morning, I slipped on ice so slick I was momentarily perplexed by the question of how I would even get up—there was so little traction to be had.

      I’m still hurting this morning, not quite as badly, but still. It’s right on that threshold where I’m wondering if I should be calling a doctor.

      I missed a lot of work and dug deep into my remaining savings replacing tires, struts, and shocks, and then to keep myself afloat while the body shop repaired my car after some idiot backed into it. And it looks like the weather might be bad enough to keep me home tomorrow anyway. Taxes are coming up and I really can’t afford to take more time off.

      And that’s the thing. I’m well aware that this rideshare driving is ultimately unsustainable. The car gets totaled or I get hurt or I just plain get too fucking old to work anymore. I really don’t have the margin to just stop working.

  4. February 14, 2021, 12:29 pm:

    • Politico has more on the Democrats’ flip-flop on witnesses.[1] and I am now citing this in the new blog post entitled, “The second farce.”

    • I feel a little better after a hot shower. I think calling a doctor will not be necessary.

  5. February 14, 2021, 10:14 pm:

    • It looks like I’m going to be hiding out at home tomorrow. A major storm is moving in, predicted to dump prodigious quantities of snow and ice. I’m still recovering from the fall in the wee hours this morning, would prefer not to exacerbate those injuries, and would prefer not to wreck my car.

    • One of the wackier figures in Donald Trump’s orbit is a conspiracy theorist and lawyer, Lin Wood. He has published a complaint from the Georgia State Bar against him that weighs in at over 1,600 pages and requests an evaluation of his mental health. The complaint is marked confidential but Wood is using it to raise funds.[2]


San Francisco

There is a new blog post entitled, “The California nightmare.”

Julia Wick, “Talking San Francisco with the city’s new poet laureate,” Los Angeles Times, February 12, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/newsletter/2021-02-12/tongo-eisen-martin-san-francisco-poet-laureate-essential-california


Donald Trump

The Senate voted to call witnesses in Donald Trump’s impeachment,[3] apparently in response to a story of Trump’s phone call to Kevin McCarthy,[4] then Democrats chickened out.[5]

Jennifer Haberkorn and Evan Halper, “7 Republicans vote guilty, but Senate acquits Trump in attack on Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-02-13/senators-to-continue-questioning-likely-to-vote-on-impeachment-today

David Cohen, “Georgia State Bar seeking to discipline Lin Wood,” Politico, February 14, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/14/lin-wood-georgia-469015


  1. [1]Burgess Everett, Heather Caygle, and Marianne Levine, “Inside Democrats’ witness fiasco,” Politico, February 13, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/13/senate-democrats-impeachment-witnesses-468992
  2. [2]David Cohen, “Georgia State Bar seeking to discipline Lin Wood,” Politico, February 14, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/14/lin-wood-georgia-469015
  3. [3]Jennifer Haberkorn and Evan Halper, “7 Republicans vote guilty, but Senate acquits Trump in attack on Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-02-13/senators-to-continue-questioning-likely-to-vote-on-impeachment-today
  4. [4]Jamie Gangel et al., “New details about Trump-McCarthy shouting match show Trump refused to call off the rioters,” CNN, February 12, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/12/politics/trump-mccarthy-shouting-match-details/index.html
  5. [5]Jennifer Haberkorn and Evan Halper, “7 Republicans vote guilty, but Senate acquits Trump in attack on Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-02-13/senators-to-continue-questioning-likely-to-vote-on-impeachment-today

Watch who you’re in that helicopter with (Update #22)

Updates

  1. Originally published, February 6, 2021, 10:46 am.

  2. February 6, 2021, 1:45 pm:

    • So I’d just pulled out of my garage and gotten out to close the garage door. I heard a crunch. A neighbor, pulling out of his parking space, had backed into my car (figure 1).


      Fig. 1. Photograph by author, February 6, 2021.

      I doubt this is a total loss. But I’m going to lose the car for at least a couple weeks. I’ll get a rental on Monday. But I obviously can’t use my car for Uber or Lyft until this is fixed.

  3. February 6, 2021, 10:53 pm:

  4. February 7, 2021, 5:44 pm:

    • Amy Davidson Sorkin reviews the case for Donald Trump’s impeachment.[1]

    • In a previous installment, I had begun reading Ezra Klein’s book, Why We’re Polarized,[2] and was perturbed both 1) by how he emphasized differences between the Democrats and Republicans at the expense of their similarities and 2) by how he lumped vast portions of the polity into two groups, overlooking the profound differences among each of those groups.[3]

      Because I’m now stuck at home, I’ve read a couple chapters further in now, probably more than half way through. Klein argues, probably more correctly than I’m really able to address, that our reasoning is governed more by our social circles than by rationality and further that whites generally feel threatened by demographic change in the country and therefore are shifting to the political right.[4]

      I have to grant that there’s truth to all of that. The paleoconservative claim is that “Blacks and browns” are out to get whites and social conservatism as we know it today develops from a perceived need to preserve white hegemony in response to a surge in immigration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries;[5] Klein seems to believe that most whites shift to that view as they become aware of demographic changes that are, in fact, occurring,[6] and certainly this helps to account for my inclination since writing my dissertation to view the distinctions between authoritarian populists, paleoconservatives, and social conservatives as even blurrier.[7]

      The trouble for me is that the picture doesn’t seem to me to be nearly so neat, nearly so clear-cut.

      Certainly, I’ve had trouble recognizing white privilege when I can’t get a real job,[8] but as far back as 2011, when I was already bitter about a job hunt that had then already been a decade-long failure, I was noticing graffiti that confirmed my once-favorite professor’s claim that many Blacks feel a greater threat from police than from gangs[9] and I’ve come to see my white privilege more sharply since arriving in southwestern Pennsylvania.[10] My dissertation was sympathetic to migrants across the southern border.[11] As to borders themselves, I understand them as denying human beings on the ‘wrong’ side of those arbitrary lines rights and privileges available on the ‘right’ side,[12] and as marking divisions between territories, and between the people and resources within those territories, controlled by competing elites whose disputes lie behind most if not all war.[13] I’ve never been a xenophobe in the way that Klein seems to think I should be and my thinking has rarely aligned with the Left in precisely the way that Klein seems to think it should; his work so far fails to explain why.[14] And when I see that this isn’t just me, but people I encounter on Twitter, and people I encounter as Uber/Lyft passengers in the back of my car, even in southwestern Pennsylvania, Klein’s idea, which is apparently that we’re polarized because we’re conformists,[15] becomes a real problem for me.

  5. February 8, 2021, 9:09 am:

    • I’ve been reading on in Ezra Klein’s book, Why We’re Polarized, In the latter half of the book, he turns to, so far, how journalism tends to focus on and amplify outrage and how moderates have all but disappeared, leaving parties and candidates to focus on energizing their bases, which they do with outrage.[16] Again, my perception is somewhat different. While yes, among a lot of people, my theory of the morality of polarization applies, in which whatever a person on your side does is good, strictly by virtue of the fact s/he is on your side, and whatever a person on the other side does is evil, strictly by virtue of the fact s/he is on the other side is evil,[17] between Democrats and Republicans, it is Republicans who reject Democratic presidents and who refuse to acknowledge the latter as legitimate, going back at least as far as Bill Clinton[18] and, I strongly suspect, Jimmy Carter, but I really don’t see the same antipathy from Democrats toward Republicans. Albert Gore conceded to George W. Bush even after a Supreme Court fight over the Florida recount. Michelle Obama hugs Bush; he gives her candy. As president, her husband, Barack Obama embraced and extended Bush’s policies. Both parties embrace neoconservatism and its moral imperative, neoliberalism.[19] Hillary Clinton conceded to Donald Trump. Too late for Klein’s book, Donald Trump fought his election defeat every step of the way.[20] Certainly there was Democratic demonization of the Republican incumbent in 2020, but it took Trump to provoke cries of “Vote Blue, No Matter Who,” and then at least as much to suppress the candidacy of Bernie Sanders.[21]

      Yes, there’s polarization, but it’s among party activists and Republican politicians, but not among Democratic politicians, who often continue to insist upon “bipartisanship.” Klein is still making the same mistake he makes throughout his book so far, of sweeping much too broadly with his generalizations, neglecting the nuances that I see everywhere I turn.

    • I have updated my spreadsheet on U.S. military history, a timeline showing how the U.S. has been involved in killing expeditions in all but sixteen calendar years of its existence, based on the History Guy’s “American Military History Timeline.”[22]

    • It’s official:

      It will be mildly interesting to see how he does. He’s progressive in everything I’ve seen him say. The trouble, of course, is that he’s a Democrat, which means that if he wins, he’ll be co-opted by the national party.

  6. February 8, 2021, 1:30 pm:

    • John Fetterman has not endorsed a Green New Deal, saying “We can’t just throw [out] all of these union jobs and all these workers’ jobs and say, ‘Well, just go learn to code and maybe you can get on at Google or someplace.’”[23] I haven’t seen enough of Green New Deal thinking to know clearly exactly what its proponents advocate here, but my impression that it includes jobs like solar cell installation, not the high tech arrogance that “everyone should learn how to code.” The latter is just a bad, awful, utterly dehumanizing idea,[24] and it’s likely unfair of Fetterman to characterize the Green New Deal in this way.

      The entire point of the Green New Deal, as I understand it, is to recognize that previous environmental activism has too often been arrogant with regard to people’s need to earn livings and to move toward a sustainable economy.

  7. February 8, 2021, 9:34 pm:

    • As promised, the Crack’d Egg has requested a stay[25] of the order requiring it comply with Allegheny County and Pennsylvania COVID-19 mitigation measures or shut down.[26] The county health department had sued when the restaurant flouted the rules,[27] the Crack’d Egg tried and failed to evade the suit with a bankruptcy filing,[28] and has now asked to withdraw the bankruptcy filing.[29] In asking for the stay, the restaurant cites a federal court ruling[30] that invoked first and fourteenth amendment rights[31] which itself has been stayed[32] and faces long odds on appeal.[33]

      Which is all to say these guys aren’t just stretching; they’re really stretching. But that’s the power of ideology, in this case, capitalist libertarian ideology.

    • I have spoken with the insurance adjuster. Talking to these people is sometimes refreshing. They’re basically bureaucrats. They have rules. It’s all pretty cut and dried with them. And it’s happened a couple times now that they’ll tell me back my own story in a way that makes the question of culpability all crystal clear.

      Anyway, she says there isn’t even anything to investigate here. It’s the other guy’s fault. I guess the operative principle here is if somebody hits a stationary object—my car was parked—it’s their damn fault. Well, yeah, I guess when you put it that way. . . .

    • I have my rental car and my own car is now at the body shop. This repair will cost me my $500 deductible, assuming they don’t declare it a total loss. Yes, I could have filed directly with the other driver’s insurance company, but he’s got a company I’ve never even heard of. My history includes dealing with another driver’s insurance company and that’s an experience that’s worth $500 to avoid repeating.

      I’ve been losing sleep about that possibility they might declare it a total loss. It’s a 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid. These cars don’t hold their value like Priuses do. And that’s going to be at least a mighty expensive piece of plastic, plus any damage that I can’t see from the outside.

    • It looks like I’m not going to be able to drive with Uber with the rental car. They say I can, but the documentation I have from the rental car company doesn’t meet Uber’s requirements. I’m not even trying with Lyft.

      I tried going to what Uber used to call a Green Light center—I don’t know what they’re calling these places now—which is where you go when you have a problem you can’t resolve on line. But I found the space where the center had been vacant and available for lease.

      I’m not willing to fight this further. I want a real job[34] and the thought of fighting to be humiliated by these assholes is just more than I can bear. I’ll just hope my car gets fixed soon.

  8. February 9, 2021, 11:34 am:

    • There is yet another new blog post entitled, “On the ‘n-word.’ The idiocy of a single person and its ensuing human relations consequences is not an issue I generally take an interest in, but I gather from Twitter that there’s a controversy over a New York Times reporter using the ‘n-word.’ He shouldn’t have done it, even to discuss the word itself, and that he did do it demonstrates extremely poor judgment.

    • You and I might agree that, especially in light of the attempted coup on January 6, 2021, that various forms of right-wing extremism and white supremacy constitute a national security threat, that indeed, we could perceive such sympathies as giving aid and comfort to an enemy. If so, the military is not only having difficulty counting such subversives,[35] but even having difficulty identifying, even trying to understand what that enemy looks like within its own ranks, or what to do about these people when it finds them.[36]

  9. February 9, 2021, 12:32 pm:

    • I haven’t thought much about the Bundys since commenting on a discrepancy in the law enforcement response to a right-wing uprising on public land in Oregon in contrast to that to left-wing protests about five years ago.[37] Guess what? They’re back, trying to piggyback onto the anti-mask and COVID-19 denial movement.[38] Ick. Just ick. Ick. Ick. Ick.

  10. February 9, 2021, 5:42 pm:

    • Anytime anybody wants to explain why people do this (figure 2), well, that’d be just great.


      Fig. 2. Photograph by author, February 9, 2021.

      I had gone grocery shopping. Especially since the pandemic began, I’ve had to go grocery shopping at multiple stores, obviously increasing the risk of exposure. I was actually a bit more successful than usual at Whole Foods, though true to form,[39] I saw a lot of empty shelves, which, sorry, Jeff Bezos and John Mackey, doesn’t make me feel pampered even one little bit.

      Next was Giant Eagle’s Market District which was a lot less successful than I expected. But I managed to pick up a little bit of stuff and when I came out, I discovered somebody (license plate in figure 3 because I’m just not seeing why I should be nice about this shit) had gone to great care to touch his or her front bumper to my rental car’s rear bumper. No damage that I could see, but yeah, I took pictures just in case the rental car company finds something, because yeah, I’ve had that happen, too.


      Fig. 3. Photograph by author, February 9, 2021.

      My next stop was at a Home Depot for a snow shovel because while the management company at my apartment complex drives a snow plow down the middle of the driveways in the parking lots, they don’t do a damn thing about the snow drifts that accumulate at my garage door.

      As I found a parking space, I saw a cop with three store employees searching a Toyota Forerunner. They recovered a lot of merchandise and one of those devices for removing anti-shoplifting tags. It’s a sign of the times,[40] though it’s something I expect to see a bit less of around relatively prosperous Upper Saint Clair and Bethel Park.

      As I drove home, I saw a grocery give-away at a church adjacent to my apartment complex. The parking lot was full and I saw people walking with bags of groceries back into my complex, you know, the one that tried to evict a bunch of people.[41]

      But here’s Logan Mohtashami to tell us all how the economy is going to be just great![42]

    • Meanwhile, yet another reason I have for dissatisfaction with rideshare driving is that the same high technology arrogance that created Uber and Lyft[43] is actively seeking to put me out[44] of the only work I can find.[45] The truth is that self-driving technology is probably quite a long ways away,[46] as Uber’s spinoff of its self-driving technology unit to Aurora[47] suggests. But their optimism is richly funded. My pessimism, reinforced every time I see a self-driving car around Pittsburgh—there are a lot of them here—is not.

  11. February 9, 2021, 8:38 pm:

    • I’m just going to leave this here:

      I’m not sure how well this will work. You may need to go to the original tweet to see the video.

      Jamie Raskin is one of the House of Representatives’ impeachment managers[48] in the Senate trial of Donald Trump for inciting an insurrection on January 6, 2021.[49]

  12. February 10, 2021, 11:46 am:

    • I’m expecting to hear from the body shop today about my car. My insurance company has told me the damage is around $1,000; they’re thinking the work can be done this week.

    • Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 vaccine eligibility tool says I’m eligible, probably because I said I’m obese (not morbidly, but with a body mass index exceeding 30). There’s a huge difference between being eligible and actually securing the vaccine, especially in Allegheny County, which has a large number of health care workers. What I’m seeing so far is that while there is large number of vaccine providers in my area, none are offering appointments. I’m pondering what to do about that.

      The vaccine rollout has been a mess, it turns out, in part due to ethical concerns really not all that unlike those I have expressed. But it’s increasingly apparent the priority simply has to be to get shots in arms.

  13. February 10, 2021, 11:55 am:

    • I just heard from my claim adjuster. She said the other insurance company accepted 100 percent liability so my insurance company is waiving the $500 deductible. This is certainly unexpected good news.

  14. February 10, 2021, 1:15 pm:

    • There isn’t a lot of need for me to cover Donald Trump’s impeachment here, especially when the outcome seems preordained, despite his lawyers’ appalling performance yesterday.[50] But I archived Amy Davidson Sorkin’s article. Because yeah, I’m kinda keeping an eye on it. But what will really be interesting is if, improbably, Republicans start shifting towards conviction. We’re not seeing that yet.

  15. February 10, 2021, 8:44 pm:

    • The body shop says that contingent on getting the parts tomorrow, my car should be fixed on Friday. There’s a snowstorm coming in tonight, so we’re just not so sure about that.

    • Since my eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine seems to hinge on my obesity, I bought a bathroom scale, and checked it. Yup, 31.2, pretty normal for me over the last several years, which is to say, at least it hasn’t gotten worse.

  16. February 10, 2021, 9:53 pm:

  17. February 11, 2021, 5:15 am, updated 12:29 pm:

    • The body shop that’s repairing my car is in North Huntingdon (yes, with a “d,” not a “t,” and no, I don’t know why) Township, just across the line into Westmoreland County from North Versailles (nobody pronounces it correctly unless, like me, they’re not from here) Township and White Oak Borough in Allegheny County. The next town going east and a bit south, along U.S. Highway 30, is Irwin Borough, whose council has just decided it will meet in person, with no capacity limits, without a mask requirement, utterly disregarding state COVID-19 mitigation orders. Other than one council member labeling the state requirements “crap,” no coherent reason seems even to need be offered.[51]

      The body shop was the closest on my insurance company’s list and about a half hour away from my apartment. It’s not quite as close as some hardcore Trump places in Washington County, but Westmoreland County has struck me as more socially conservative (mostly evangelical Protestant). The anti-abortion movement is strong there and I guess they’re counting on their god to protect them from the coronavirus that they probably don’t even believe is real.

      The Irwin Borough Council’s denial of reality[52] merely mirrors that of Senate Republicans who still appear on course to acquit Donald Trump,[53] despite another visually spectacular performance by House of Representatives impeachment managers that revealed new information about how much danger lawmakers and then-Vice President Mike Pence had been in.[54] I’m not really hearing from these people directly these days. But the signs of their presence are all around.

  18. February 10, 2021, 12:29 pm, updated 6:25 pm:

    • I have to note that the discrepancy between Democrats’ performance in this impeachment[55] and its predecessor, which I called “[t]he stupidest impeachment ever, historically notable first for all the offenses it failed to charge Donald Trump with,[56] second for its utterly predictable futility, and third for its transparent (and apparently failed) attempt to protect Joe Biden,[57][58] is striking. For me, it shines a harsh light on the “comity,” for which, read complicity, with which Democrats have treated Republicans, but which Republicans have not reciprocated.[59] It is as if Democrats have suddenly realized that maybe, after all, Republicans aren’t really right, aren’t really morally superior.

      It won’t last, of course. The neoconservative consensus that has been in place since the fall of the Berlin Wall[60] and that treats neoliberalism as a moral imperative,[61] with all its attendant and intentional cruelty to workers and the poor,[62] a cruelty before which the events of the attempted coup on January 6, 2021, pale,[63] will surely reassert itself. But for this very briefest of moments, we are seeing, at very long last, what the Democrats might look like if they actually opposed Republicans.

      Ezra Klein denies drawing an equivalence between the two parties. His sympathies, he says, lie clearly with Democrats.[64] But this disparity between business as usual and business as conducted in this impeachment for me eviscerates his premise of polarization in the way he understands it.

    • Wow. Just wow. In 2013, it seems that, as Braddock’s mayor, current Lieutenant Governor and U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman, having heard gunshots, grabbed a shotgun, got in his pickup truck, and chased down a Black jogger, who had absolutely nothing to do with the gunfire, and held him at gunpoint. He refuses to apologize, even now. Yes, Braddock has a problem with guns. Yes, Braddock has a problem with crime. And yes, also, Blacks are a majority of Braddock’s population.[65] Which is to say that Fetterman, like far too many other whites, sees all Blacks interchangeably as potential, even probable, criminals. No, Mr. Fetterman, having a formerly unauthorized migrant for a wife[66] does not shield you from the charge of racism, which is precisely what you are.

      Look, I can see how, in younger days, I might have made a similar mistake. I also know that having made such a mistake, no apology could ever suffice. But, Mr. Fetterman, you refuse even this, even now.[67] This is not okay. You are a part of Pennsylvania’s problem, Pittsburgh’s problem.

    • So I’m putting a hypothesis to as best a test as I can manage. Dressed as I expect to be when weighed at a doctor’s office this afternoon but with a little residual moisture in my hair from my shower, I come in at 220.4 pounds. (I’m 5’10.5″ tall for you body mass index freaks.) We shall see what the scale there says.

      It’s 26° F out, down to 17° with wind chill, but I’m putting on sandals because I do not want to be fussing with my winter boots while there.

  19. February 11, 2021, 6:25 pm:

    • I have failed to confirm my hypothesis (see update at 12:29 pm). After wandering through the snow in my sandals to dump some trash, after wandering through the snow in my sandals to get into my garage, after shoveling the snow in my sandals in front of my garage, after wandering through the snow in my sandals to pump up the tire on my rental car that has a slow leak (the rental car company doesn’t have any alternative vehicles to put me into), and arriving at the doctor’s office, I weighed in at 219.4 pounds, down a full pound from the measurement I took in my bathroom this morning. I was expecting a larger discrepancy in the opposite direction.

      Sorry folks, just don’t know what to tell you about that.

    • John Fetterman has a reputation for being in shorts regardless of the weather. It’s one of his kinks. I don’t know what he does for footwear but he doesn’t look like a sandals kind of guy. I wasn’t in shorts, but I think I might have had him beat with my flip flops. Wimp.

    • I have to notice a distinct difference with my contacts with medical people here in Pittsburgh from that in California. These people are actually nice, really nice. I also was able to schedule an appointment with them the very next day. When I screwed up the appointment time, they still fit me in nearly immediately. This has been a good experience.

      It turns out my height is a half inch higher than I thought, which will mean my previously reported body mass income will be slightly off. I’m still clinically obese: The doctor has me at 31.04 (and yes, that’s good enough to be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine). Also I’ve corrected my height and enhanced the description of Fetterman in the previous update (12:29 pm).

    • It’s now well after business hours and I have not heard from the body shop that’s working on my car. They promised to call me if there was a delay in getting the parts due to the snowstorm. So I’m expecting to get my car back tomorrow, which is one less reason to worry about that slow leak in the right rear tire of the rental car.

    • A leader of the Oath Keepers was allegedly waiting for direction from Donald Trump before launching an attack on Joe Biden’s inauguration and believed that her group was responding to direction from Trump in the U.S. Capitol coup.[68]

      Five Proud Boys have also been charged with conspiracy in the attack.[69]

  20. February 12, 2021, 12:26 pm:

    • When it comes to fracking in southwestern Pennsylvania, mostly what I see are a bunch of signs offering to buy oil and gas rights and a few more signs regulating which roads trucks may use to access the wells. I haven’t actually seen a well. I certainly haven’t had any passengers going to fracking jobs. The only thing I’ve seen remotely related is the Shell Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex, an ethylene cracker plant under what my passengers have characterized as seemingly endless construction on the Ohio River in Beaver County that makes—or will make—microplastics.

      Ordinary folks in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia have gained little economically, if any, from the fracking boom in these states.[70]

      But John Fetterman says, “We can’t just throw [out] all of these union jobs and all these workers’ jobs and say, ‘Well, just go learn to code and maybe you can get on at Google or someplace.’”[71] So, um, what union jobs? Where the fuck are they?

    • At the Washington Post, Dan Balz is marveling at Republican senators’ obstinacy about voting to convict Donald Trump.[72] But here’s the thing: The very states where these senators come from are the same states where the militia groups that stormed the Capitol are strongest. This isn’t merely the threat of being primaried that Balz alludes to.[73] It’s a physical threat to themselves, their properties, and their loved ones.

    • Another positive from my experience at the doctor’s office yesterday (February 11) was that University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) actually had a lab on site at the office. The nurse practitioner prescribed some tests and when she was done with me, I walked over and somebody drew some blood. This morning, I have the results. No surprises, by the way.

      This is in sharp contrast to having had to make a separate appointment with Quest Diagnostics in Sebastopol and then to wait days for the results.

      This entire experience has been seriously impressive. Based on what I’m seeing, I have to think the medical care is orders of magnitude better here than in California.

    • My car is done. I’m on my way to get it.

  21. February 12, 2021, 9:48 pm:

    • I have my car back but not without an adventure.

      I had decided to return the car in North Huntingdon, near, I hoped, the body shop. I figured I’d call an Uber or a Lyft to get me between places.

      Except there weren’t any Ubers or Lyfts available. And the body shop was 1.7 miles away. A half hour walk, I figured.

      As a kid in San Francisco, I wouldn’t have thought anything at all of such a distance. But this was a busy highway (U.S. 30) with no sidewalks with several inches of snow on the ground. Oh yeah, and I’m not a kid anymore. It probably took me an hour of dodging traffic, navigating snow-covered landscaping, and parking lots, only some of which had been cleared. Over hill and over dale.

      At least I had my winter boots on.

      And I have my car with it’s wonderful sound system and its bright LED lights back. (I’m not supposed to be, but yeah, I’m occasionally that obnoxious asshole with the too bright lights. You try doing what I’m reduced to doing[74] without them.)

  22. February 13, 2021, 4:57 am:

    • As if there was any question whose side Donald Trump was on, even as his own vice president was in danger during the attempted coup on January 6, 2021, details have come to light of a phone call between Trump and California Republican and House of Representatives minority leader Kevin McCarthy, who begged Trump to call off the rioters.[75]

      The Republican members of Congress said the exchange showed Trump had no intention of calling off the rioters even as lawmakers were pleading with him to intervene. Several said it amounted to a dereliction of his presidential duty.

      “He is not a blameless observer, he was rooting for them,” a Republican member of Congress said. “On January 13, Kevin McCarthy said on the floor of the House that the President bears responsibility and he does.”

      Speaking to the President from inside the besieged Capitol, McCarthy pressed Trump to call off his supporters and engaged in a heated disagreement about who comprised the crowd. Trump’s comment about the would-be insurrectionists caring more about the election results than McCarthy did was first mentioned by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Republican from Washington state, in a town hall earlier this week, and was confirmed to CNN by Herrera Beutler and other Republicans briefed on the conversation.[76]

      The conventional wisdom remains that Senate Republicans will vote to acquit Trump, although there is no whip count.[77]

      Even as I understand that this really isn’t just about being primaried (see update, February 12, 2021, 12:26 pm), that there is a physical risk to senators voting to convict, I really can’t help but share Dan Balz’ perplexity at their refusal to do so.[78] It’s perhaps worth noting at this point that there has never been a successful impeachment of a president of the United States. Its failure in this case has to raise doubts about how meaningful a procedure it is.


Right-wing militia groups

There is a new blog post entitled, “‘Free’ helicopter rides.”

Christopher Ketcham, “What the Far-Right Fascination With Pinochet’s Death Squads Should Tell Us,” Intercept, February 4, 2021, https://theintercept.com/2021/02/04/pinochet-far-right-hoppean-snake/

Ed Pilkington, “Seditionaries: FBI net closes on Maga mob that stormed the Capitol,” Guardian, February 6, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/feb/06/us-capitol-insurrection-fbi-investigation

Richard Read, “Ammon Bundy, veteran of armed standoffs, builds militia network on COVID backlash,” Los Angeles Times, February 9, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-02-09/idaho-ammon-bundy

Missy Ryan, Paul Sonne, and Razzan Nakhlawi, “Seeking to combat extremists in ranks, the military struggles to answer a basic question: How many are there?” Washington Post, February 9, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/military-extremist-threat-lloyd-austin-/2021/02/09/198794c8-66f9-11eb-bf81-c618c88ed605_story.html

Katelyn Polantz, “Justice Department says an Oath Keepers leader waited for Trump’s direction before Capitol attack,” CNN, February 11, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/11/politics/oath-keeper-justice-trump-capitol/index.html

David Shortell, “Five people associated with Proud Boys arrested for Capitol riot on conspiracy charges,” CNN, February 11, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/11/politics/proud-boys-capitol-riot-arrest/index.html


San Francisco

Isaac Chotiner, “How San Francisco Renamed Its Schools,” New Yorker, February 6, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/how-san-francisco-renamed-its-schools


Donald Trump

Amy Davidson Sorkin, “What’s at Stake in Trump’s Second Impeachment Trial,” New Yorker, February 7, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/02/15/whats-at-stake-in-trumps-second-impeachment-trial

Amy Gardner et al., “House impeachment managers emphasize the danger to Pence and other top officials in harrowing retelling of Jan. 6 attack,” Washington Post, February 10, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/senate-impeachment-trial-trump/2021/02/10/17863674-6bbe-11eb-9f80-3d7646ce1bc0_story.html

Amy Davidson Sorkin, “Trump’s Impeachment-Trial Lawyers Refuse to Seriously Engage with the Constitutional Issues,” New Yorker, February 10, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/trumps-impeachment-trial-lawyers-refuse-to-seriously-engage-with-the-constitutional-issues

Andrew Desiderio, Burgess Everett, and Marianne Levine, “Trump on path to acquittal despite stunning evidence,” Politico, February 11, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/10/trump-acquittal-despite-stunning-evidence-468540

Dan Balz, “All eyes on Republican senators after strong presentation by House managers,” Washington Post, February 12, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/balztake-impeachment-gop-trump/2021/02/11/7b910ee8-6cc0-11eb-9f80-3d7646ce1bc0_story.html

Burgess Everett and Marianne Levine, “Senate GOP gripped by conviction vote intrigue,” Politico, February 12, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/12/republicans-weighting-conviction-trump-impeachment-468862

Jamie Gangel et al., “New details about Trump-McCarthy shouting match show Trump refused to call off the rioters,” CNN, February 12, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/12/politics/trump-mccarthy-shouting-match-details/index.html


Depression

Logan Mohtashami, “The last stand for forbearance housing market crash bros?” Housing Wire, February 8, 2021, https://www.housingwire.com/articles/is-this-the-last-stand-for-forbearance-home-price-crash-bros/


Self-driving cars

Levi Sumagaysay, “Aurora, Toyota team up to bring self-driving cars to ride-hailing and the masses,” MarketWatch, February 9, 2021, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/aurora-toyota-team-up-to-bring-self-driving-cars-to-ride-hailing-and-the-masses-11612893367


Pennsylvania

Joe Napsha, “Irwin Council: Masks are optional at future meetings,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 10, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/irwin-council-masks-are-optional-at-future-meetings/


John Fetterman

Stephen Caruso, “Fetterman justifies — but does not apologize for — chasing down and brandishing shotgun at Black jogger while Braddock mayor,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, February 10, 2021, https://www.penncapital-star.com/blog/fetterman-justifies-but-does-not-apologize-for-chasing-down-and-brandishing-shotgun-at-black-jogger-while-braddock-mayor/


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  36. [36]Missy Ryan, Paul Sonne, and Razzan Nakhlawi, “Seeking to combat extremists in ranks, the military struggles to answer a basic question: How many are there?” Washington Post, February 9, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/military-extremist-threat-lloyd-austin-/2021/02/09/198794c8-66f9-11eb-bf81-c618c88ed605_story.html
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  41. [41]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
  42. [42]Logan Mohtashami, “The last stand for forbearance housing market crash bros?” Housing Wire, February 8, 2021, https://www.housingwire.com/articles/is-this-the-last-stand-for-forbearance-home-price-crash-bros/
  43. [43]Lia Russell, “The Silicon Valley Economy Is Here. And It’s a Nightmare,” New Republic, January 16, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/156202/silicon-valley-economy-here-its-nightmare
  44. [44]Levi Sumagaysay, “Aurora, Toyota team up to bring self-driving cars to ride-hailing and the masses,” MarketWatch, February 9, 2021, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/aurora-toyota-team-up-to-bring-self-driving-cars-to-ride-hailing-and-the-masses-11612893367
  45. [45]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  46. [46]Christopher Mims, “Self-Driving Cars Have a Problem: Safer Human-Driven Ones,” Wall Street Journal, June 15, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/self-driving-cars-have-a-problem-safer-human-driven-ones-11560571203
  47. [47]Heather Somerville, “Uber Sells Self-Driving-Car Unit to Autonomous-Driving Startup,” Wall Street Journal, December 7, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-lyft-face-a-no-sharing-economy-11603710180
  48. [48]Clare Foran, “House approves resolution calling to remove Trump despite Pence rejecting 25th Amendment push,” CNN, January 13, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/12/politics/house-vote-25th-amendment-trump/index.html
  49. [49]Janet Hook and Jennifer Haberkorn, “House impeaches Trump for the second time, focus shifts to Senate trial,” Los Angeles Times, January 13, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-01-13/house-begins-final-push-to-make-trump-the-only-president-to-be-impeached-twice
  50. [50]Amy Davidson Sorkin, “Trump’s Impeachment-Trial Lawyers Refuse to Seriously Engage with the Constitutional Issues,” New Yorker, February 10, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/trumps-impeachment-trial-lawyers-refuse-to-seriously-engage-with-the-constitutional-issues
  51. [51]Joe Napsha, “Irwin Council: Masks are optional at future meetings,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 10, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/irwin-council-masks-are-optional-at-future-meetings/
  52. [52]Joe Napsha, “Irwin Council: Masks are optional at future meetings,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 10, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/irwin-council-masks-are-optional-at-future-meetings/
  53. [53]Andrew Desiderio, Burgess Everett, and Marianne Levine, “Trump on path to acquittal despite stunning evidence,” Politico, February 11, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/10/trump-acquittal-despite-stunning-evidence-468540
  54. [54]Amy Gardner et al., “House impeachment managers emphasize the danger to Pence and other top officials in harrowing retelling of Jan. 6 attack,” Washington Post, February 10, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/senate-impeachment-trial-trump/2021/02/10/17863674-6bbe-11eb-9f80-3d7646ce1bc0_story.html
  55. [55]Andrew Desiderio, Burgess Everett, and Marianne Levine, “Trump on path to acquittal despite stunning evidence,” Politico, February 11, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/10/trump-acquittal-despite-stunning-evidence-468540; Amy Gardner et al., “House impeachment managers emphasize the danger to Pence and other top officials in harrowing retelling of Jan. 6 attack,” Washington Post, February 10, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/senate-impeachment-trial-trump/2021/02/10/17863674-6bbe-11eb-9f80-3d7646ce1bc0_story.html; Amy Davidson Sorkin, “Trump’s Impeachment-Trial Lawyers Refuse to Seriously Engage with the Constitutional Issues,” New Yorker, February 10, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/trumps-impeachment-trial-lawyers-refuse-to-seriously-engage-with-the-constitutional-issues
  56. [56]David Benfell, “The whiteness of impeachment,” Not Housebroken, December 15, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/15/the-whiteness-of-impeachment/; see also Democracy Now, “Law Professor: Trump Could Also Have Been Impeached for War Crimes, Assassinations and Corruption,” January 24, 2020, https://www.democracynow.org/2020/1/24/donald_trump_senate_impeachment_trial
  57. [57]David Benfell, “It’s still a smoke-filled room,” Not Housebroken, December 6, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/06/its-still-a-smoke-filled-room/; David Benfell, “How the neoliberal (usually known as Democratic) party may well lose in 2020,” Not Housebroken, December 7, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/07/how-the-neoliberal-usually-known-as-democratic-party-may-well-lose-in-2020/; David Benfell, “The whiteness of impeachment,” Not Housebroken, December 15, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/15/the-whiteness-of-impeachment/; David Benfell, “The least violent solution,” Not Housebroken, December 16, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/16/the-least-violent-solution/; David Benfell, “The sham (pick your partisan flavor) is on,” Not Housebroken, December 19, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/19/the-sham-pick-your-partisan-flavor-is-on/; David Benfell, “The asterisk,” Not Housebroken, December 21, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/21/the-asterisk/
  58. [58]David Benfell, “One farce down, one to go,” Irregular Bullshit, February 5, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/02/05/one-farce-down-one-to-go/
  59. [59]David Benfell, “Voting for complicity,” Not Housebroken, October 1, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/20/voting-for-complicity/; David Benfell, “On ‘vote shaming,’” Not Housebroken, October 27, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/21/on-vote-shaming/
  60. [60]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
  61. [61]Gertrude Himmelfarb, “Irving Kristol’s Neoconservative Persuasion,” Commentary 132, no. 2 (February 2011), https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/gertrude-himmelfarb/irving-kristols-neoconservative-persuasion/
  62. [62]David Benfell, “A piper needs paying,” Not Housebroken, January 29, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/19/a-piper-needs-paying/
  63. [63]Ted Barrett, Manu Raju, and Peter Nickeas, “US Capitol secured, woman dead after rioters stormed the halls of Congress to block Biden’s win,” CNN, January 6, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/us-capitol-lockdown/index.html; Fiona Hill, “Yes, It Was a Coup. Here’s Why,” Politico, January 11, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/01/11/capitol-riot-self-coup-trump-fiona-hill-457549; Spencer S. Hsu, Tom Jackman, and Devlin Barrett, “Self-styled militia members planned on storming the U.S. Capitol days in advance of Jan. 6 attack, court documents say,” Washington Post, January 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/legal-issues/conspiracy-oath-keeper-arrest-capitol-riot/2021/01/19/fb84877a-5a4f-11eb-8bcf-3877871c819d_story.html; Talia Lavin, “The Violent Crescendo of the MAGA Conspiracies,” New Republic, January 6, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/160814/trump-protesters-attack-us-capital; Andrew G. McCabe and David C. Williams, “Trump’s New Criminal Problem,” Politico, January 11, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/01/11/trumps-new-criminal-problem-457298; Nicolás Rivero, “Is America experiencing a coup?” Quartz, January 6, 2021, https://qz.com/1953602/is-america-experiencing-a-coup/; Jonathan Stevenson, “Trump’s Lingering Menace,” New York Review of Books, January 9, 2021, https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2021/01/09/trumps-lingering-menace/; Rebecca Tan et al., “Trump supporters storm U.S. Capitol, with one woman killed and tear gas fired,” Washington Post, January 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trump-supporters-storm-capitol-dc/2021/01/06/58afc0b8-504b-11eb-83e3-322644d82356_story.html; Craig Timberg, Drew Harwell, and Marissa J. Lang, “Capitol siege was planned online. Trump supporters now planning the next one,” Washington Post, January 9, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/01/09/trump-twitter-protests/; Aruna Viswanatha, “Conspiracy Charges Filed Over Capitol Riot,” Wall Street Journal, January 19, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/first-conspiracy-charges-filed-over-capitol-riot-11611080191
  64. [64]Ezra Klein, Why We’re Polarized (New York: Avid Reader, 2020).
  65. [65]Stephen Caruso, “Fetterman justifies — but does not apologize for — chasing down and brandishing shotgun at Black jogger while Braddock mayor,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, February 10, 2021, https://www.penncapital-star.com/blog/fetterman-justifies-but-does-not-apologize-for-chasing-down-and-brandishing-shotgun-at-black-jogger-while-braddock-mayor/
  66. [66]NEXTpittsburgh, “Why does Lt. Gov. John Fetterman want to run for Senate?” Public Source, January 15, 2021, https://www.publicsource.org/why-does-lt-gov-john-fetterman-want-to-run-for-senate/
  67. [67]Stephen Caruso, “Fetterman justifies — but does not apologize for — chasing down and brandishing shotgun at Black jogger while Braddock mayor,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, February 10, 2021, https://www.penncapital-star.com/blog/fetterman-justifies-but-does-not-apologize-for-chasing-down-and-brandishing-shotgun-at-black-jogger-while-braddock-mayor/
  68. [68]Katelyn Polantz, “Justice Department says an Oath Keepers leader waited for Trump’s direction before Capitol attack,” CNN, February 11, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/11/politics/oath-keeper-justice-trump-capitol/index.html
  69. [69]David Shortell, “Five people associated with Proud Boys arrested for Capitol riot on conspiracy charges,” CNN, February 11, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/11/politics/proud-boys-capitol-riot-arrest/index.html
  70. [70]James Bruggers, “A Decade Into the Fracking Boom, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia Haven’t Gained Much, a Study Says,” Inside Climate News, February 11, 2021, https://insideclimatenews.org/news/11022021/fracking-boom-natural-gas-report/
  71. [71]John Fetterman, quoted in Holly Otterbein, “John Fetterman launches Senate bid in Pennsylvania,” Politico, February 8, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/08/fetterman-senate-pennsylvania-466932
  72. [72]Dan Balz, “All eyes on Republican senators after strong presentation by House managers,” Washington Post, February 12, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/balztake-impeachment-gop-trump/2021/02/11/7b910ee8-6cc0-11eb-9f80-3d7646ce1bc0_story.html
  73. [73]Dan Balz, “All eyes on Republican senators after strong presentation by House managers,” Washington Post, February 12, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/balztake-impeachment-gop-trump/2021/02/11/7b910ee8-6cc0-11eb-9f80-3d7646ce1bc0_story.html
  74. [74]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  75. [75]Jamie Gangel et al., “New details about Trump-McCarthy shouting match show Trump refused to call off the rioters,” CNN, February 12, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/12/politics/trump-mccarthy-shouting-match-details/index.html
  76. [76]Jamie Gangel et al., “New details about Trump-McCarthy shouting match show Trump refused to call off the rioters,” CNN, February 12, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/12/politics/trump-mccarthy-shouting-match-details/index.html
  77. [77]Burgess Everett and Marianne Levine, “Senate GOP gripped by conviction vote intrigue,” Politico, February 12, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/12/republicans-weighting-conviction-trump-impeachment-468862
  78. [78]Dan Balz, “All eyes on Republican senators after strong presentation by House managers,” Washington Post, February 12, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/balztake-impeachment-gop-trump/2021/02/11/7b910ee8-6cc0-11eb-9f80-3d7646ce1bc0_story.html

I guess this is what lawyers are for (Update #5)

Updates

  1. Originally published, February 3, 2021, 1:15 pm.

  2. February 3, 2021, 10:40 pm:

    • The judge has ruled against the Crack’d Egg Restaurant in Brentwood, requiring it to comply with COVID-19 orders or close. The restaurant is asking for a stay while it appeals. The judge, however, cited a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision upholding Governor Wolf’s and Pennsylvania Health Department’s orders, in reaching his decision.[1] So I’m not seeing how this gets reversed. But then, this is Pennsylvania.

    • I managed to run afoul of Twitter’s bots in responding to a post on keys to the City of Pittsburgh. As I recall, such keys were traditionally hung from a lanyard about the bearer’s neck, and a newer design lacks the hole found in traditional wire skeleton keys that would make that possible. I sought to point this out and, after all, if we’re going to uphold antiquated traditions, we ought to uphold them properly.

      But it appears that Twitter’s appeals process relies on the same artificial idiocy as that which condemned me in the first place. So I’m mostly off Twitter until sometime tomorrow.

      I have previously taken up the problem of artificial idiocy in a blog post entitled, “Our new Satan: artificial idiocy and big data mining” and previously encountered a similar problem with Google’s last ill-fated attempt at a social network, Google Plus.

    • My car is off to another expensive start in maintenance in the new year. I’m getting new struts, new shock absorbers, and new tires put on. All this also means an alignment. It’s conceivable the bill will exceed $2,000. I really need a real job because with this rideshare driving, I am, and my passengers are, just destroying perfectly good automobiles, all while not accumulating a penny for retirement, not really being able to take any time off, and not having a life.

    • My mother got me a copy of Ezra Klein’s book Why We’re Polarized. I’ve read the introduction and the first two chapters. It’s an interesting perspective in that Klein perceives a difference between Democrats and Republicans as having increased since a time even as recently as the 1980s, when, he argues, the two major parties were not distinguished by ideological differences. And yes, I guess if your baseline includes southern Democrats who openly sought to preserve white supremacy, then yes, indeed, the Democrats have moved left.[2]

      Republicans have, to an increasing degree, relied on race-baiting to appeal to those former southern Democrats and this, of course, has plumbed despicable depths with Donald Trump.[3] But at least in the early going, Klein seems not to see white supremacy outside the south, such as I see in southwestern Pennsylvania.

      In this, Klein magnifies the differences between the parties at the expense of their similarities. Both parties are dominated by their donors; both embrace neoconservatism, for which neoliberalism is a moral imperative[4] and overseas wars are somehow self-defense; neither takes the climate crisis seriously enough; neither has taken the need for economic relief and universal health insurance coverage generally, let alone in the pandemic, seriously enough; neither is particularly troubled by widening social inequality; indeed, neither is really all that terribly troubled by the cozy relationship between police and white supremacists.[5] From a progressive perspective, these similarities unite the two major parties as an evil blob far to the right. But Klein, so far, at least, barely even acknowledges that there is a progressivism to the left of the Democrats.[6]

  3. February 4, 2021, 5:56 am:

    • I’ve read a bit further into Ezra Klein’s work, which I began discussing in the last update (February 3, 10:40 pm). Klein correctly identifies a problem as being with “us” versus “them” thinking, but then argues that this goes beyond political views into entire lifestyles. If you like Whole Foods, you’re probably a Democrat. If you like Cracker Barrel, you’re probably a Republican. He seems to be thinking that we conform to partisan archetypes in a seeming desperation to align with whichever “us” we identify with.[7]

      This is far too simplistic. Roughly, it aligns with George Lakoff’s “nurturant parent” (Democrat) and “critical father” (Republican) morality systems, but Lakoff was at pains to explain that there would be different emphases among adherents to each morality system.[8]

      My dissertation was all about not treating conservatives monolithically; I identified seven different tendencies, all authoritarian and ideological to be sure, but otherwise strikingly different.[9] Even if we were to merge the three tendencies that comprise Donald Trump’s base, these being authoritarian populism (which actually does embody the hierarchical invidiously monistic thinking that Klein attributes to most of us), paleoconservatism (including white supremacy and neo-Nazism), and social conservatism (mostly evangelical Protestantism), which is still a step beyond my current thinking,[10] we would still have five tendencies on the right.

      Though I have not been as systematic on the left on the left (here viewed broadly as including even mainstream, such as Barack Obama, and conservative, such as Joe Manchin, Democrats, most of whom are neoconservative, a conservative tendency), there are similar differences; but they divide differently, including among those who tend to identify all social inequality as that being the particular form that personally afflicts them. Hillary Clinton, for example, marks herself as a second wave (we’re probably now up to the fourth, albeit ill-defined, wave) feminist by tending to view all social inequality as sexism. My formerly favorite professor (now emeritus) at California State University, East Bay, often reduced social inequality to racism. I’ve seen something similar with sexual and gender minorities, and some progressives focus almost exclusively on class.

      Klein’s error, at least so far, seems to be the opposite extreme from failing to see the forest for the trees. He would not even see separate forests so much as he would notice hardwood forests that often predominate east of the Mississippi and softwood forests that predominate along the west coast. Both characterizations obscure much more than they reveal.

  4. February 4, 2021, 12:11 pm:

    • Please see an update regarding my social network presence on my contact page.

      This is, to say the least, an unfortunate situation. Applying for jobs has been a pathetic failure and I have no functional social network. I had hoped that I might eventually reach someone who might be interested in hiring me through these online networks, but I have no way to reliably avoid running afoul of the artificial idiots that police these networks.

    • I’m finally getting the car back. The total wasn’t as bad as I feared but it’s still bad, close to $1,900.

  5. February 5, 2021, 10:00 pm:

    • The Crack’d Egg is closing its doors while, the owner says, she pursues an appeal.[11]


Allegheny County

So, the Crack’d Egg Restaurant now says it only filed for bankruptcy[12] in what turned out to be, because the bankruptcy judge didn’t allow it, an unsuccessful attempt to evade the Allegheny County Health Department’s lawsuit[13] for flouting pandemic restrictions[14] and now wants to withdraw the filing.[15] This sounds like an abuse of the system to me but I guess that’s what lawyers are for.

Paula Reed Ward, “Crack’d Egg restaurant asks to withdraw bankruptcy filing,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 2, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/crackd-egg-restaurant-asks-to-withdraw-bankruptcy-filing/

Paula Reed Ward, “Judge orders Crack’d Egg to follow covid rules or close,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 3, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-orders-crackd-egg-to-follow-covid-rules-or-close/

Paul Martino, “After Defying Health Department, Crack’d Egg Follows Judge’s Ruling And Closes,” KDKA Television, February 4, 2021, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2021/02/04/crackd-egg-closes/


Evictions

Andrew Khouri, “Depleted savings, ruined credit: What happens when all the rent comes due?” Los Angeles Times, February 2, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2021-02-02/rent-debt-worries-grow-covid-strains-tenants


  1. [1]Paula Reed Ward, “Judge orders Crack’d Egg to follow covid rules or close,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 3, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-orders-crackd-egg-to-follow-covid-rules-or-close/
  2. [2]Ezra Klein, Why We’re Polarized (New York: Avid Reader, 2020).
  3. [3]Ezra Klein, Why We’re Polarized (New York: Avid Reader, 2020).
  4. [4]Gertrude Himmelfarb, “Irving Kristol’s Neoconservative Persuasion,” Commentary, February 2011, 25-29.
  5. [5]Mark Berman et al., “Protests spread over police shootings. Police promised reforms. Every year, they still shoot and kill nearly 1,000 people,” Washington Post, June 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/protests-spread-over-police-shootings-police-promised-reforms-every-year-they-still-shoot-nearly-1000-people/2020/06/08/5c204f0c-a67c-11ea-b473-04905b1af82b_story.html; Kyle Cheney, Sarah Ferris, and Laura Barrón-López, “‘Inside job’: House Dems ask if Capitol rioters had hidden help,” Politico, January 8, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/08/congress-democrats-capitol-riot-inside-job-456725; James Downie, “Time to toss the ‘bad apples’ excuse,” Washington Post, May 31, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/05/31/time-toss-bad-apples-excuse/; Kimberly Kindy, Mark Berman, and Kim Bellware, “After Capitol riot, police chiefs work to root out officers with ties to extremist groups,” Washington Post, January 24, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/police-capitol-riot-extremists/2021/01/24/16fdb2bc-5a7b-11eb-b8bd-ee36b1cd18bf_story.html; Maggie Koerth, “The Police’s Tepid Response To The Capitol Breach Wasn’t An Aberration,” FiveThirtyEight, January 7, 2021, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-polices-tepid-response-to-the-capitol-breach-wasnt-an-aberration/; Kurtis Lee, Jaweed Kaleem, and Laura King, “‘White supremacy was on full display.’ Double standard seen in police response to riot at Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, January 7, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-01-07/la-na-washington-capitol-police-attack-race; Wesley Lowery, “Aren’t more white people than black people killed by police? Yes, but no,” Washington Post, July 11, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/07/11/arent-more-white-people-than-black-people-killed-by-police-yes-but-no/; Brentin Mock, “What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings,” CityLab, August 6, 2019, https://www.citylab.com/equity/2019/08/police-officer-shootings-gun-violence-racial-bias-crime-data/595528/; Elie Mystal, “There’s Only One Possible Conclusion: White America Likes Its Killer Cops,” Nation, May 27, 2020, https://www.thenation.com/article/society/white-america-cops/; Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, “How Do We Change America?” New Yorker, June 8, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/how-do-we-change-america
  6. [6]Ezra Klein, Why We’re Polarized (New York: Avid Reader, 2020).
  7. [7]Ezra Klein, Why We’re Polarized (New York: Avid Reader, 2020).
  8. [8]George Lakoff, Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2002).
  9. [9]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  10. [10]David Benfell, “The seven tendencies of conservatism,” Irregular Bullshit, n.d., https://disunitedstates.com/the-seven-tendencies-of-conservatism/
  11. [11]Paul Martino, “After Defying Health Department, Crack’d Egg Follows Judge’s Ruling And Closes,” KDKA Television, February 4, 2021, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2021/02/04/crackd-egg-closes/
  12. [12]KDKA, “Brentwood Restaurant That Sued Allegheny County Over Coronavirus Restrictions Files For Bankruptcy,” October 9, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/10/09/the-crackd-egg-files-for-bankruptcy/; Paula Reed Ward, “Allegheny County argues Crack’d Egg can’t hide from covid restrictions under bankruptcy filing,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 5, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/allegheny-county-argues-crackd-egg-cant-hide-from-covid-restrictions-under-bankruptcy-filing/
  13. [13]Paula Reed Ward, “Judge rules against Crack’d Egg, health department case can proceed,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 7, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-rules-against-crackd-egg-health-department-case-can-proceed/; Paula Reed Ward, “Judge to rule on Crack’d Egg restaurant closure order next week,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 29, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-to-rule-on-crackd-egg-restaurant-closure-order-next-week/
  14. [14]Paula Reed Ward, “Brentwood restaurant defies order to close for covid-19 violations, faces court action,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 18, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/brentwood-restaurant-defies-order-to-close-for-covid-19-violations-faces-court-action/; Paula Reed Ward, “Crack’d Egg flouts shutdown as deputies quarantined for dining, taking photos with owner,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 14, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/crackd-egg-flouts-shutdown-as-deputies-quarantined-for-dining-taking-photos-with-owner/
  15. [15]Paula Reed Ward, “Crack’d Egg restaurant asks to withdraw bankruptcy filing,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 2, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/crackd-egg-restaurant-asks-to-withdraw-bankruptcy-filing/

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

Updates

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

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


GameStop Squeeze

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

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


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

Allegheny County judge allows testimony from ‘expert’ conspiracy theorists (Update #2)

Updates

  1. Originally published, January 30, 2021, 9:56 am.
  2. January 30, 2021, 10:36 am:

Allegheny County

In the ongoing saga of the Crack’d Egg restaurant in Brentwood,[1] just a little over two miles from my apartment, a judge will rule next week on whether the establishment may remain open despite openly defying state and county COVID-19 mitigation orders. The restaurant argues that the orders exceed executive authority and, relying on so-called ‘experts’ who are nothing more than conspiracy theorists, that masks don’t work and that case counts are inflated. The judge allowed their testimony and the owner is determined not to violate her customers’ alleged ‘freedom’ to spread disease.[2]

Paula Reed Ward, “Judge to rule on Crack’d Egg restaurant closure order next week,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 29, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-to-rule-on-crackd-egg-restaurant-closure-order-next-week/


GameStop Squeeze

It should be no surprise that while hedge funds shorting GameStop and some other targeted stocks took a bath, indeed to the tune of nearly $71 billion,[3] as “retail investors” motivated by the unfairness of capitalism[4] colluded to try to beat Wall Street at its own game,[5] a lot of other big Wall Street players have done quite well,[6] undermining the utility of this strategy as some sort of insurrection against the rich. But it might be interesting to see how they manage to realize their gains by selling without precipitating a crash in what are now likely[7] to be wildly overvalued shares.

Ross Kerber, “Analysis: How Wall Street gains from ‘populist’ trading movement,” Reuters, January 29, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-retail-trading-funds-analysis-idUSKBN29Y0I4

Zachary Warmbrodt, Kellie Mejdrich, and Victoria Guida, “Wall Street faces Washington crackdown after GameStop rollercoaster,” Politico, January 29, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/29/wall-street-washington-crackdown-gamestop-463935


Roman Catholics

Christopher Wells, “Pope Francis: Catechesis is the echo of the Word of God,” Vatican News, January 30, 2021, https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2021-01/pope-francis-catechesis-is-the-echo-of-the-word-of-god.html


  1. [1]Paula Reed Ward, “Crack’d Egg flouts shutdown as deputies quarantined for dining, taking photos with owner,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 14, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/crackd-egg-flouts-shutdown-as-deputies-quarantined-for-dining-taking-photos-with-owner/; Paula Reed Ward, “Allegheny County argues Crack’d Egg can’t hide from covid restrictions under bankruptcy filing,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 5, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/allegheny-county-argues-crackd-egg-cant-hide-from-covid-restrictions-under-bankruptcy-filing/; Paula Reed Ward, “Judge rules against Crack’d Egg, health department case can proceed,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 7, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-rules-against-crackd-egg-health-department-case-can-proceed/; Paula Reed Ward, “Judge to rule on Crack’d Egg restaurant closure order next week,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 29, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-to-rule-on-crackd-egg-restaurant-closure-order-next-week/
  2. [2]Paula Reed Ward, “Judge to rule on Crack’d Egg restaurant closure order next week,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 29, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-to-rule-on-crackd-egg-restaurant-closure-order-next-week/
  3. [3]Sujata Rao, “Losses on short positions in U.S. firms top $70 billion – Ortex data,” Reuters, January 28, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-retail-trading-shortbets-idUSKBN29X1SW
  4. [4]David Benfell, “The GameStop Squeeze,” Not Housebroken, January 29, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/01/29/the-gamestop-squeeze/
  5. [5]Matt Phillips and Taylor Lorenz, “‘Dumb Money’ Is on GameStop, and It’s Beating Wall Street at Its Own Game,” New York Times, January 27, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/27/business/gamestop-wall-street-bets.html
  6. [6]Ross Kerber, “Analysis: How Wall Street gains from ‘populist’ trading movement,” Reuters, January 29, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-retail-trading-funds-analysis-idUSKBN29Y0I4
  7. [7]Kevin Stankiewicz, “Leon Cooperman on GameStop Reddit speculators: ‘I’m not damning them’ but it will ‘end in tears,’” CNBC, January 28, 2021, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/28/leon-cooperman-on-gamestop-reddit-speculators-im-not-damning-them-but-it-will-end-in-tears.html

Gambling with money you can’t afford to lose (Update #6)

Updates

  1. Originally published, January 28, 2021, 11:50 am.

  2. January 28, 2021, 9:48 pm:

    • Robinhood, a brokerage that supposedly “democratizes” trading in stocks is restricting trading[1] on stocks that were targeted by short-selling hedge funds and then in a countermove by retail investors to squeeze the hedge funds.[2] I saw plenty of shrieking about hypocrisy on my Twitter feed and it appears my tweeps actually have a point.[3]

  3. January 29, 2021, 3:41 am:

    • Short-sellers on targeted stocks in the GameStop squeeze lost an estimated nearly $71 billion.[4] Poor babies.

  4. January 29, 2021, 12:12 pm, revised 3:01 pm:

  5. January 29, 2021, 1:15 pm:

    • Robinhood has partly rescinded its freeze on GameStop squeeze transactions.[5]

  6. January 29, 2021, 3:01 pm:


Donald Trump

When paleoconservatives, the tendency of conservatism that includes neo-Nazis and white supremacists, say something like this, it’s “Blacks and browns” who pose the perceived threat:

Asked earlier by a recruit what to prepare for, [Jessica Marie] Watkins allegedly wrote in November that if [Joe] Biden became president, “our way of life as we know it is over. Our Republic would be over. Then it is our duty as Americans to fight, kill and die for our rights.”

“If Biden get the steal, none of us have a chance in my mind. We already have our neck in the noose. They just haven’t kicked the chair yet,” she said, according to the indictment.[6]

In this case, it’s Joe Biden or the government, which in my mind, brings it back to authoritarian populism. But it is a paleoconservative level of paranoia.

Spencer S. Hsu, Rachel Weiner, and Tom Jackman, “Self-styled militia members in three states began planning in November for recruits, weapons ahead of Capitol breach, U.S. alleges,” Washington Post, January 27, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/legal-issues/self-styled-militia-members-in-three-states-began-planning-in-novembe-for-recruits-weapons-ahead-of-capitol-breach-us-alleges/2021/01/27/f13b0bfc-60b9-11eb-9061-07abcc1f9229_story.html


Hedge funds

The picture I was getting on Twitter is largely consistent with the New York Times account of small “investors” deciding to stick it to hedge funds by buying shares in stocks that the funds had decided to “short,” running the value of those stocks up, “squeezing” the funds.[7]

The underlying sentiment is generally a lot like this:

In short, revenge against billionaires who’ve gotten a lot richer even before the pandemic,[8] but especially during the pandemic,[9] while a lot of people have lost their jobs and face poverty and eviction.[10] Some are parroting back the lines that victim-blamers have aimed at them:

And that’s pretty much how the New York Times has it:

Ben Patte, 16, a high school student in Wisconsin who said he made $750 off GameStop stock, said the campaign felt like vindication for himself and fellow young traders. “It’s a good opportunity to make money and stick it to the hedge funds,” he said. “By buying GameStop, it’s kind of like beating them at their own game.”

No one knows how this ends. Some analysts say the intense activity could eventually prompt a wider sell-off in the market by forcing hedge funds on the losing side of these trades to sell parts of their portfolios to raise cash to cover their losses. . . .

Justin Speak, 27, an evangelical pastor in California, and his wife, who recently left her job to raise their children, have made $1,700 off GameStop in the past week. Mr. Speak said that so far they had mainly put the money toward a new bed. He described a sense of frustration at how well those in the financial sector have done since the financial crisis of 2008.

“There’s a catharsis to actually making money off their pain a little bit,” he said of his modest earnings from GameStop. His wife put it more bluntly: “Eat the rich.”[11]

The risk of that wider sell-off[12] is, of course, there, and that ultimately hurts the folks pushing this. The rich are gambling with money they can afford to lose; these folks aren’t. Which means capitalism wins again, at least in the interim.

It’s probably also worth noting that Elon Musk, who is very much among the winners[13] in this pandemic-associated widening of social inequality,[14] and notorious for despising short-selling, helped publicize this effort.[15]

Matt Phillips and Taylor Lorenz, “‘Dumb Money’ Is on GameStop, and It’s Beating Wall Street at Its Own Game,” New York Times, January 27, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/27/business/gamestop-wall-street-bets.html

Eric Levitz, “Robinhood Banning GameStop Proves the Free Market Is a Lie,” New York, January 28, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/01/robinhood-ban-gamestop-share-price-explained.html

Sujata Rao, “Losses on short positions in U.S. firms top $70 billion – Ortex data,” Reuters, January 28, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-retail-trading-shortbets-idUSKBN29X1SW

Kevin Stankiewicz, “Leon Cooperman on GameStop Reddit speculators: ‘I’m not damning them’ but it will ‘end in tears,’” CNBC, January 28, 2021, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/28/leon-cooperman-on-gamestop-reddit-speculators-im-not-damning-them-but-it-will-end-in-tears.html

Hamza Shaban, “GameStop stock roars back after Robinhood lifts trading freeze,” Washington Post, January 29, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/01/29/gamestop-stocks-robinhood-reddit/


  1. [1]Eric Levitz, “Robinhood Banning GameStop Proves the Free Market Is a Lie,” New York, January 28, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/01/robinhood-ban-gamestop-share-price-explained.html
  2. [2]Matt Phillips and Taylor Lorenz, “‘Dumb Money’ Is on GameStop, and It’s Beating Wall Street at Its Own Game,” New York Times, January 27, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/27/business/gamestop-wall-street-bets.html
  3. [3]Eric Levitz, “Robinhood Banning GameStop Proves the Free Market Is a Lie,” New York, January 28, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/01/robinhood-ban-gamestop-share-price-explained.html
  4. [4]Sujata Rao, “Losses on short positions in U.S. firms top $70 billion – Ortex data,” Reuters, January 28, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-retail-trading-shortbets-idUSKBN29X1SW
  5. [5]Hamza Shaban, “GameStop stock roars back after Robinhood lifts trading freeze,” Washington Post, January 29, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/01/29/gamestop-stocks-robinhood-reddit/
  6. [6]Spencer S. Hsu, Rachel Weiner, and Tom Jackman, “Self-styled militia members in three states began planning in November for recruits, weapons ahead of Capitol breach, U.S. alleges,” Washington Post, January 27, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/legal-issues/self-styled-militia-members-in-three-states-began-planning-in-novembe-for-recruits-weapons-ahead-of-capitol-breach-us-alleges/2021/01/27/f13b0bfc-60b9-11eb-9061-07abcc1f9229_story.html
  7. [7]Matt Phillips and Taylor Lorenz, “‘Dumb Money’ Is on GameStop, and It’s Beating Wall Street at Its Own Game,” New York Times, January 27, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/27/business/gamestop-wall-street-bets.html
  8. [8]Nick Hanauer and David M. Rolf, “The Top 1% of Americans Have Taken $50 Trillion From the Bottom 90%—And That’s Made the U.S. Less Secure,” Time, September 14, 2020, https://time.com/5888024/50-trillion-income-inequality-america/
  9. [9]Charles Lane, “The rich got richer during the pandemic. We need to claw back their gains,” Washington Post, January 25, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-rich-got-richer-during-the-pandemic-we-need-to-claw-back-their-gains/2021/01/25/d17c8a44-5f32-11eb-9430-e7c77b5b0297_story.html
  10. [10]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; Regina Garcia Cano and Michael Casey, “Wave of evictions expected as moratoriums end in many states,” Associated Press, August 4, 2020, copy in possession of author; 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/; 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; Michelle Conlin and Christopher Walljasper, “Time’s up: After a reprieve, a wave of evictions expected across U.S.,” Reuters, October 19, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-housing-eviction-insight/times-up-after-a-reprieve-a-wave-of-evictions-expected-across-u-s-idUKKBN27415U; John Fritze and Nicholas Wu, “Trump administration announces nationwide eviction moratorium through end of the year,” USA Today, September 1, 2020, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/09/01/trump-imposes-eviction-moratorium-because-covid-19-pandemic/5686402002/; Sam Levin, “California landlords are locking out struggling tenants. A ‘tsunami of evictions’ may be next,” Guardian, July 30, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jul/30/california-covid-19-evictions-landlords-tenants; Eric Levitz, “This Recession Is a Bigger Housing Crisis Than 2008,” New York, July 13, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/07/coronavirus-recession-evictions-crisis-congress.html; Heather Long, “Millions of Americans are heading into the holidays unemployed and over $5,000 behind on rent,” Washington Post, December 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/07/unemployed-debt-rent-utilities/; Heather Long, “Nearly 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty since the summer,” Washington Post, December 16, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/16/poverty-rising/; Renae Merle, “Evictions are likely to skyrocket this summer as jobs remain scarce. Black renters will be hard hit,” Washington Post, July 6, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/07/06/eviction-moratoriums-starwood/; Gretchen Morgenson, “Large corporate landlords have filed 10,000 eviction actions in five states since September,” NBC News, October 26, 2020, https://www.nbcnews.com/business/personal-finance/large-corporate-landlords-have-filed-10-000-eviction-actions-five-n1244711; Will Parker, “Struggling Rental Market Could Usher in Next American Housing Crisis,” Wall Street Journal, October 27, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/struggling-rental-market-could-usher-in-next-american-housing-crisis-11603791000; Jenny Schuetz, “America’s inequitable housing system is completely unprepared for coronavirus,” Brookings, March 12, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2020/03/12/americas-inequitable-housing-system-is-completely-unprepared-for-coronavirus/; Kyle Swenson, “Renters thought a CDC order protected them from eviction. Then landlords found loopholes,” Washington Post, October 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2020/10/27/trump-cdc-eviction-moratorium-loopholes/
  11. [11]Matt Phillips and Taylor Lorenz, “‘Dumb Money’ Is on GameStop, and It’s Beating Wall Street at Its Own Game,” New York Times, January 27, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/27/business/gamestop-wall-street-bets.html
  12. [12]Matt Phillips and Taylor Lorenz, “‘Dumb Money’ Is on GameStop, and It’s Beating Wall Street at Its Own Game,” New York Times, January 27, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/27/business/gamestop-wall-street-bets.html
  13. [13]Charles Lane, “The rich got richer during the pandemic. We need to claw back their gains,” Washington Post, January 25, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-rich-got-richer-during-the-pandemic-we-need-to-claw-back-their-gains/2021/01/25/d17c8a44-5f32-11eb-9430-e7c77b5b0297_story.html
  14. [14]Heather Long, “The recession is over for the rich, but the working class is far from recovered,” Washington Post, August 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/08/13/recession-is-over-rich-working-class-is-far-recovered/
  15. [15]Matt Phillips and Taylor Lorenz, “‘Dumb Money’ Is on GameStop, and It’s Beating Wall Street at Its Own Game,” New York Times, January 27, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/27/business/gamestop-wall-street-bets.html

More like a coup than I thought (Update #2)

Updates

  1. Originally published, January 18, 2021, 2:45 pm.
  2. January 18, 2021, 10:54 pm:
    • I’ve added some relevant reading below.


Donald Trump

I remain inclined[1] to think the U.S. Capitol riot on January 6[2] falls short of a coup,[3] but evidence is accumulating that the rioters were better prepared than I initially understood.[4] Doubts about police preparation, particularly relative to those for Black Lives Matter Protests, persist,[5] but

[Police] weren’t just facing an unruly protest, and they weren’t just underprepared—they were in a battle against a more organized and coordinated force than they had realized. A stunning Washington Post report lays out the scene. “Everything they did was in a military fashion,” a D.C. police commander said. One officer was overcome by protesters and heard rioters shout, “We got one! We got one! Kill him with his own gun!” Brian Sicknick, the officer who died of injuries sustained in the attack, was reportedly beaten with a fire extinguisher. . . .

“I didn’t want to be the guy who starts shooting, because I knew they had guns—we had been seizing guns all day,” Daniel Hodges, a D.C. police officer, told the Post. “And the only reason I could think of that they weren’t shooting us was they were waiting for us to shoot first. And if it became a firefight between a couple hundred officers and a couple thousand demonstrators, we would have lost.”

Once inside, some putschists were prepared. They came with schematics and maps of the building, and set about their work with purpose. Some wore tactical gear and carried flex ties, which would have been useful for kidnapping and hostage-taking. If not for the quick thinking of the Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman, who drew a column away from the Senate floor, they might have walked through the unlocked doors and into a chamber still filled with lawmakers.

Only on Friday did it become clear how much danger [Mike] Pence had been in. Secret Service officers whisked Pence and his family to a hideaway in the Capitol—but just one minute before Goodman made his stand, and only about 100 feet from the stairs up which the officer was chased by the mob, according to the Post.[6]

The objection I’ve been raising is that even if more successful, this attack still would not have reversed the outcome. Nonetheless, it appears that the rioters actually believed they could compel such a result,[7] even if their plan for doing so was incoherent.

In truth, I don’t know if this is really a failing: Pretty consistently throughout my life, I have expected things to make more sense than they do and I have expected people to be more intelligent than they are. When my threshold is not met, I am dismissive. My evaluation of this riot would be another example.


Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.],” University of Pennsylvania, April 16, 1963, http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html

Zaid Jilani, “Martin Luther King Jr. Celebrations Overlook His Critiques of Capitalism and Militarism,” Intercept, January 18, 2016, https://theintercept.com/2016/01/18/martin-luther-king-jr-celebrations-overlook-his-critiques-of-capitalism-and-militarism/


  1. [1]David Benfell, “Riot or insurrection? Lies or madness?” Not Housebroken, January 17, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/01/12/riot-or-insurrection-lies-or-madness/
  2. [2]Jeremy Herb et al., “Congress completes electoral count, finalizing Biden’s win after violent delay from pro-Trump mob,” CNN, January 7, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/2020-election-congress-electoral-college-vote-count/index.html
  3. [3]Nicolás Rivero, “Is America experiencing a coup?” Quartz, January 6, 2021, https://qz.com/1953602/is-america-experiencing-a-coup/
  4. [4]David A. Graham, “We’re Just Finding Out How Bad the Riot Really Was,” Atlantic, January 16, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/01/it-was-much-worse-it-looked/617693/; Craig Timberg, Drew Harwell, and Marissa J. Lang, “Capitol siege was planned online. Trump supporters now planning the next one,” Washington Post, January 9, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/01/09/trump-twitter-protests/
  5. [5]Kyle Cheney, Sarah Ferris, and Laura Barrón-López, “‘Inside job’: House Dems ask if Capitol rioters had hidden help,” Politico, January 8, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/08/congress-democrats-capitol-riot-inside-job-456725; David A. Graham, “We’re Just Finding Out How Bad the Riot Really Was,” Atlantic, January 16, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/01/it-was-much-worse-it-looked/617693/; Maggie Koerth, “The Police’s Tepid Response To The Capitol Breach Wasn’t An Aberration,” FiveThirtyEight, January 7, 2021, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-polices-tepid-response-to-the-capitol-breach-wasnt-an-aberration/; Michael Kranish, Karoun Demirjian, and Devlin Barrett, “Democrats demand investigation of whether Republicans in Congress aided Capitol rioters,” Washington Post, January 13, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/republicans-capitol-rioters/2021/01/13/9737a336-55e2-11eb-a931-5b162d0d033d_story.html; Kurtis Lee, Jaweed Kaleem, and Laura King, “‘White supremacy was on full display.’ Double standard seen in police response to riot at Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, January 7, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-01-07/la-na-washington-capitol-police-attack-race; Jonathan Stevenson, “Trump’s Lingering Menace,” New York Review of Books, January 9, 2021, https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2021/01/09/trumps-lingering-menace/
  6. [6]David A. Graham, “We’re Just Finding Out How Bad the Riot Really Was,” Atlantic, January 16, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/01/it-was-much-worse-it-looked/617693/
  7. [7]David A. Graham, “We’re Just Finding Out How Bad the Riot Really Was,” Atlantic, January 16, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/01/it-was-much-worse-it-looked/617693/