Evictions to resume in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania

I think I see what Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf is doing. He wants an incredibly repugnant state legislature to do its fucking job. One problem is he’s using very vulnerable people, people about to pushed into homelessness because of pandemic-related unemployment, to push his point.[1] Even by the lax standards of political ethics, this is cynical to say the least.

The other problem is that this legislature really is horrible—perhaps to an even greater degree than with Congress, Republicans here, who control both houses, are absolutely in thrall to Donald Trump—and has been specifically horrible on the topic of the pandemic.[2] Even as urgent as this issue is, counting on the legislature to “come to its senses”[3] is folly.

Stephen Caruso, “Gov. Wolf says his executive authority has run out on extending eviction moratorium, perplexing some experts,” Pittsburgh City Paper, August 28, 2020, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/gov-wolf-says-his-executive-authority-has-run-out-on-extending-eviction-moratorium-perplexing-some-experts/Content?oid=17896117


  1. [1]Stephen Caruso, “Gov. Wolf says his executive authority has run out on extending eviction moratorium, perplexing some experts,” Pittsburgh City Paper, August 28, 2020, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/gov-wolf-says-his-executive-authority-has-run-out-on-extending-eviction-moratorium-perplexing-some-experts/Content?oid=17896117
  2. [2]Associated Press, “Pennsylvania GOP seeks to dismantle Wolf’s shutdown,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 9, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/pennsylvania-gop-seeks-to-dismantle-wolfs-shutdown/; Associated Press, “Pennsylvania Republicans Mount New Challenge To Gov. Tom Wolf’s Pandemic Power,” KDKA, July 14, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/07/14/republicans-mount-new-challenge-to-governors-pandemic-power/; Stephen Caruso, “Pa. Lawmaker: It’s not government’s responsibility to ‘try to keep us safe,’” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, August 12, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/covid-19/pa-lawmaker-its-not-governments-responsibility-to-try-to-keep-us-safe/; Megan Guza, “Gov. Wolf, GOP critic spar over social media post parroting health secretary’s LGBQT comments,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 30, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/gov-wolf-gop-critic-spar-over-social-media-post-parroting-health-secretarys-lgbqt-comments/; Elizabeth Hardison and Stephen Caruso, “Pa. Supreme Court throws out GOP challenge to Wolf’s COVID-19 emergency order,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, July 1, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/covid-19/pa-supreme-court-throws-out-gop-challenge-to-wolfs-covid-19-emergency-order/; Nick Matoney, “‘We can’t do this for another 90 days’: Pa. General Assembly votes to end COVID-19 emergency declaration,” WTAE, June 10, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/we-cant-do-this-for-another-90-days-pa-general-assembly-votes-to-end-covid-19-emergency-declaration/32821325; John L. Micek, “W. Pa. Rep. Metcalfe files impeachment articles to ‘remove dictator Wolf’ over pandemic response,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, June 16, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/blog/w-pa-rep-metcalfe-files-impeachment-articles-to-remove-dictator-wolf-over-pandemic-response/
  3. [3]Moira Donegan, “What does Biden have in common with Trump? Delusional nostalgia,” Guardian, June 21, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/21/joe-biden-trump-sexism-delusional-nostalgia; Matt Ford, “Someone Please Tell Joe Biden That Bipartisanship Is Dead,” New Republic, June 12, 2019, https://newrepublic.com/article/154183/someone-please-tell-joe-biden-bipartisanship-dead; Paul Waldman, “Joe Biden still hasn’t learned the lessons of the Obama presidency,” Washington Post, December 6, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/12/06/joe-biden-still-hasnt-learned-lessons-obama-presidency/

‘Suspend’ does not mean ‘reverse’ at the U.S. Postal Service

Updates

  1. Originally published, August 21, 2020, 10:05 am.
  2. August 21, 12:07 pm:
    • In a series of tweets (see below), the Pennsylvania attorney general announced his coalition had filed suit to reverse changes at the U.S. Postal Service. This is one of two earlier reported suits.[1]
    • I have just received notice of an expansion of the mandatory evacuation zones in west Sonoma County to include Pocket Canyon. Evacuation warnings have been expanded along Green Valley Road, to both sides of the Russian River west of Laguna Road. And I have a map showing the grids (figure 4, see Walbridge Fire).

Recession

Shame, shame. This speculation lacks support:

The overall number of laid-off American workers collecting unemployment benefits declined last week from 15.5 million to 14.8 million. Many of them probably found jobs. But some may have used up all their benefits, which in most states run out after about six months.[2]

We don’t know how many found jobs and we don’t know how many simply used up their benefits. The claim that “many of them probably found jobs” is unsupported and frames information optimistically without justification for that optimism.

Christopher Rugaber, “Rise in jobless claims reflects still-struggling US economy,” Associated Press, August 20, 2020, copy in possession of author


Postal Service

As at least 21 state attorneys general sued,[3] Postmaster General Louis DeJoy suspended the changes that might interfere with election mail.[4] It is now apparent that “suspend” does not mean “reverse,” as an email has come to light forbidding the reconstruction or reconnection of sorting machines that had already been removed from service.[5]

Kristen Holmes and Paul P. Murphy, “USPS email tells managers not to reconnect sorting machines,” CNN, August 20, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/20/politics/usps-reconnect-sorting-machines/index.html


Tropical storms

car.gif
Fig. 1. Caribbean satellite imagery, compiled by author, as of August 21, 2020, 8:02 am.

For the first time since the Great Depression, it’s possible that two tropical systems could make landfall in the mainland United States at virtually the same time.[6]

This (figure 2) is what they’re showing:
2-cones-tropical-depression-13-tropical-depression-14-same-time-08212020
Fig. 2. Storm track projections from the Weather Channel for Tropical Storm Laura and Tropical Depression Fourteen, August 20, 2020, fair use.[7]
According to the Weather Channel, Laura seems projected to skim a bunch of islands, including Cuba.[8] From what I’ve seen, that won’t affect its strength much. Tropical Depression 13 passes over the Yucatan Peninsula;[9] that might weaken it some, but first, it looks to me like it is actually skirting that peninsula, possibly passing over western Cuba instead (figure 1); and second, it could regain strength or intensify once it hits the Gulf of Mexico.

Also, I’m not sure I buy their timing on Laura. Laura has a much longer distance to traverse than Tropical Depression 13 along their projected tracks and it doesn’t look to me like it’s moving that much faster. I can also see it turning north and east of the U.S. entirely (figure 1).

Either way, and assuming these storms make landfall along the Gulf of Mexico coast, some or all of this seems to me like it could head towards Pittsburgh as it gets caught up in a flow from Louisiana (figure 3):
eusgm.gif
Fig. 3. Eastern U.S. and Gulf of Mexico satellite imagery, compiled by author, as of August 21, 2020, 8:01 am.

If so, a relatively quiet, hot, and rainless summer might be in for a break.

Sean Breslin, “Tropical Storm Laura and Tropical Depression Fourteen: Track the Storms,” Weather Channel, August 20, 2020, https://weather.com/storms/hurricane/news/2020-08-20-tropical-depression-thirteen-fourteen-laura-marco-tracker


Walbridge Fire

user68366-1598024396-media2
Fig. 4. Map from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department showing grids, received August 21, 2020, fair use.
The Sonoma County Fire Incident Map seems to be working again. I have a screenshot (figure 5):
FireShot Capture 280 - County of Sonoma Fire Incident Map - sonomacounty.maps.arcgis.com.png
Fig. 5. Screenshot of the Sonoma County Fire Incident Map, taken on August 21, 2020, at 12:01 pm EDT (9:01 am PDT) by author.

The warning zones are getting close to the Laguna de Santa Rosa. The mandatory evacuation zone now reaches nearly to Forestville.

Mom, stay where you are.


  1. [1]Amy Gardner and Erin Cox, “At least 21 states plan to sue the Postal Service over service delays, threat to election,” Washington Post, August 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/at-least-20-states-plan-to-sue-the-us-postal-service-over-service-delays-threat-to-election/2020/08/18/c6ca2dc6-e166-11ea-b69b-64f7b0477ed4_story.html
  2. [2]Christopher Rugaber, “Rise in jobless claims reflects still-struggling US economy,” Associated Press, August 20, 2020, copy in possession of author
  3. [3]Amy Gardner and Erin Cox, “At least 21 states plan to sue the Postal Service over service delays, threat to election,” Washington Post, August 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/at-least-20-states-plan-to-sue-the-us-postal-service-over-service-delays-threat-to-election/2020/08/18/c6ca2dc6-e166-11ea-b69b-64f7b0477ed4_story.html
  4. [4]Louis DeJoy, quoted in Paul Ziobro, Natalie Andrews, and Alexa Corse, “Postmaster to Suspend USPS Changes Until After Election,” Wall Street Journal, August 18, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/postmaster-general-dejoy-to-testify-before-senate-panel-friday-11597758378; Paul Ziobro, Natalie Andrews, and Alexa Corse, “Postmaster to Suspend USPS Changes Until After Election,” Wall Street Journal, August 18, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/postmaster-general-dejoy-to-testify-before-senate-panel-friday-11597758378
  5. [5]Kristen Holmes and Paul P. Murphy, “USPS email tells managers not to reconnect sorting machines,” CNN, August 20, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/20/politics/usps-reconnect-sorting-machines/index.html
  6. [6]Sean Breslin, “Tropical Storm Laura and Tropical Depression Fourteen: Track the Storms,” Weather Channel, August 20, 2020, https://weather.com/storms/hurricane/news/2020-08-20-tropical-depression-thirteen-fourteen-laura-marco-tracker
  7. [7]Sean Breslin, “Tropical Storm Laura and Tropical Depression Fourteen: Track the Storms,” Weather Channel, August 20, 2020, https://weather.com/storms/hurricane/news/2020-08-20-tropical-depression-thirteen-fourteen-laura-marco-tracker
  8. [8]Sean Breslin, “Tropical Storm Laura and Tropical Depression Fourteen: Track the Storms,” Weather Channel, August 20, 2020, https://weather.com/storms/hurricane/news/2020-08-20-tropical-depression-thirteen-fourteen-laura-marco-tracker
  9. [9]Sean Breslin, “Tropical Storm Laura and Tropical Depression Fourteen: Track the Storms,” Weather Channel, August 20, 2020, https://weather.com/storms/hurricane/news/2020-08-20-tropical-depression-thirteen-fourteen-laura-marco-tracker

Donald Trump’s nothing-burger

Recession

Donald Trump’s executive actions, issued in the wake of failed negotiations with Congress, do not amount to another relief package:[1]

“The President cannot create new money with an executive order. These [executive orders] simply show the limitations of the President’s legal authority,” said Jack Smalligan, a former official at the Office of Management and Budget and now a senior policy fellow at the Urban Institute, a centrist think tank.[2]

Jeff Stein, Erica Werner, and Renae Merle, “Trump attempts to wrest tax and spending powers from Congress with new executive actions,” Washington Post, August 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/08/08/trump-executive-order-coronavirus/


  1. [1]Jeff Stein, Erica Werner, and Renae Merle, “Trump attempts to wrest tax and spending powers from Congress with new executive actions,” Washington Post, August 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/08/08/trump-executive-order-coronavirus/
  2. [2]Jeff Stein, Erica Werner, and Renae Merle, “Trump attempts to wrest tax and spending powers from Congress with new executive actions,” Washington Post, August 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/08/08/trump-executive-order-coronavirus/

Cold War, again?

China

There is a new blog post entitled, “A new ‘cold war’ with China as an election stunt?” This is the first of two, today.

Guardian, “Mike Pompeo says free world must change China or ‘China will change us,’” July 23, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jul/24/mike-pompeo-says-free-world-must-change-china-or-china-will-change-us


Education

There is a second new blog post entitled, “Could alternative schools offer an answer?

Justin Lahart, “Kids at Home Could Put the Economy in Detention,” Wall Street Journal, July 24, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/kids-at-home-could-put-the-economy-in-detention-11595583001


Recession

Eli Rosenberg, “‘A Band-Aid on a bullet wound’: Workers are getting laid off anew as PPP runs out,” Washington Post, July 23, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/07/23/ppp-layoffs/


Authoritarian populist and capitalist libertarian madness, the recession, and the pandemic

There were updates on the previous issue through 5:18 this morning.


Recession

The nation currently has 5.4 million job openings, according to the Labor Department, which is not nearly enough for the roughly 18 million Americans who are officially unemployed and the 33 million who are currently receiving unemployment benefits.[1]

I can’t resist noting that I have continued to make all my payments on time throughout the novel coronavirus crisis. But my credit rating still sucks—it is only “fair,” according to the Credit Karma app. I have to wonder if credit ratings are really all they’re supposed to be, because the banks are bracing for a wave of defaults[2] from folks whose credit ratings will often be better than mine.

Ben Eisen and David Benoit, “‘This Is Not a Normal Recession’: Banks Ready for Wave of Coronavirus Defaults,” Wall Street Journal, July 14, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/this-is-not-a-normal-recession-banks-ready-for-wave-of-coronavirus-defaults-11594746008

Hamza Shaban, “White House tells 18 million unemployed workers to ‘Find Something New’ in ad campaign,” Washington Post, July 14, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/07/14/ivanka-trump-jobs-find-something-new/


Pennsylvania

Case counts are spiking around the country,[3] including in Allegheny County,[4] where according to notifications I’ve received from the Health Department, there were 331 new cases yesterday and 246 today, but the Pennsylvania legislature is still determined to try to strip the governor of emergency powers to try to stem the pandemic.[5]

Associated Press, “Pennsylvania Republicans Mount New Challenge To Gov. Tom Wolf’s Pandemic Power,” KDKA, July 14, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/07/14/republicans-mount-new-challenge-to-governors-pandemic-power/


Trump family ethics

For the record:

Everything about this is just . . . unbelievably, atrociously wrong. But whoever it is going by the twitter handle “SkipperMeds” certainly captures some of it:


Psychopaths

1. How bad could Covid get in America? Let’s just say it’s not a good sign that Rush Limbaugh is praising cannibals as heroes.

2. Limbaugh’s praise of the Donner Party as heroic cannibals is not an outlier. He was in fact channelling earlier arguments made along this line by William Bennett & David Frum. As @jholbo1 noted long ago, this exaltation of the Donner flesh-eaters helps us understand the right

3. Earlier, Alex Jones laid out the logical endgame of the right: “I will eat my neighbors…I’m literally looking at my neighbors now and going, ‘I’m ready to hang ’em up and gut ’em and skin ’em.’”

4. Cannibalism is, I’d argue, one of the logical endgames of a certain type of libertarian individualism (incest is the other endgame). After all, if it’s survival of the fittest and dog eat dog, why wouldn’t you put your neighbor on the grill?

5. Is cannibalism a good solution for Covid? Spoiler alert: I don’t think so but I explore why cannibalism does provide a model for what is happening: thenation.com/article/politi…[6]


  1. [1]Hamza Shaban, “White House tells 18 million unemployed workers to ‘Find Something New’ in ad campaign,” Washington Post, July 14, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/07/14/ivanka-trump-jobs-find-something-new/
  2. [2]Ben Eisen and David Benoit, “‘This Is Not a Normal Recession’: Banks Ready for Wave of Coronavirus Defaults,” Wall Street Journal, July 14, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/this-is-not-a-normal-recession-banks-ready-for-wave-of-coronavirus-defaults-11594746008
  3. [3]Agence France-Presse, “Fauci warns U.S. is “knee-deep” in coronavirus first wave,” CBS News, July 7, 2020, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/fauci-warns-us-knee-deep-coronavirus-first-wave/; Talal Ansari, “Texas Governor Rolls Back Reopening as U.S. Virus Cases Hit Record,” Wall Street Journal, June 26, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/coronavirus-latest-news-06-26-2020-11593159630; CBS News, “U.S. sees another record-breaking day with more than 63,000 coronavirus cases,” July 10, 2020, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/coronavirus-cases-usa-63000-daily-record/; Annie Gowen, Arelis R. Hernández, and Lori Rozsa, “Young people urged to take virus more seriously as pandemic worsens in U.S.,” Washington Post, June 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/young-people-are-driving-a-spike-in-coronavirus-infections-officials-say/2020/06/27/3654638c-b7b4-11ea-a510-55bf26485c93_story.html; Thomas Heath and Hannah Denham, “Dow tumbles 730 points as covid-19 flare-ups force states to push back reopening,” Washington Post, June 26, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/06/26/stocks-markets-today-texas-coronavirus/; Jeet Heer, [Twitter thread], Twitter Thread App, July 9, 2020, https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1281071726596521984.html; Chelsea Janes et al., “Surge in virus hospitalizations strains hospitals in several states,” Washington Post, July 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/surge-in-virus-hospitalizations-strains-hospitals-in-several-states/2020/07/08/12855e5e-c135-11ea-864a-0dd31b9d6917_story.html; Christina Maxouris, “Officials say states like Arizona and Texas reopened too quickly after soaring Covid-19 cases,” CNN, July 6, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/06/health/us-coronavirus-monday/index.html; Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey, and Yasmeen Abutaleb, “With Trump leading the way, America’s coronavirus failures exposed by record surge in new infections,” Washington Post, June 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/with-trump-leading-the-way-americas-coronavirus-failures-exposed-by-record-surge-in-new-infections/2020/06/27/bd15aea2-b7c4-11ea-a8da-693df3d7674a_story.html; Lisa Shumaker and Brendan O’Brien, “Record spike in new coronavirus cases reported in six U.S. states as reopening accelerates,” Reuters, June 16, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-idUSKBN23N32O; Meg Wagner et al., “Fauci, Redfield testify on Covid-19 reopening as cases rise,” CNN, June 30, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/webview/politics/live-news/covid-19-school-work-reopening-testimony-06-30-20/h_cc7cf09eae87064e72f75af30984acd3
  4. [4]Samson X. Horne, “Allegheny County reports 90 new coronavirus cases, the highest daily total for county,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 27, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/allegheny-county-reports-highest-daily-total-of-coronavirus-cases-at-90/; Samson X. Horne, “Allegheny County reports 215 new coronavirus cases, 1 new death,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 11, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/allegheny-county-reports-215-new-coronavirus-cases-1-new-death/; Madasyn Lee, “Allegheny County exceeds highest coronavirus case total with 96 new cases,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 28, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/allegheny-county-exceeds-highest-coronavirus-case-total-with-96-new-cases/; Madasyn Lee, “Allegheny County reports 158 new coronavirus cases, 12 hospitalizations,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 9, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/allegheny-county-reports-158-new-coronavirus-cases-12-hospitalizations/; KDKA, “‘For The First Time…Allegheny Co. Led The State In The Number Of New COVID-19 Cases’: Allegheny Co. Officials Ban On-Site Consumption Of Alcohol At Local Bars,” June 28, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/28/allegheny-co-highest-case-numbers-bans-on-site-drinking/; KDKA, “Allegheny Co. Health Officials: Spike In New Coronavirus Cases Linked To Bars, Not Protests,” June 29, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/29/spike-in-coronavirus-cases-linked-to-bars-not-protests/; Campbell Robertson and Sarah Mervosh, “Pittsburgh Seemed Like a Virus Success Story. Now Cases Are Surging,” New York Times, July 13, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/12/us/coronavirus-pittsburgh-pennsylvania.html; Andy Sheehan, “Allegheny County Closes Bars, Restaurants, Casinos And All Activities That Involve Over 25 People For One Week,” KDKA, July 2, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/07/02/allegheny-county-bar-restaurant-casino-closure/; John Shumway, “‘People Don’t Care’: Recent Jump In Allegheny County Coronavirus Cases Linked To People In Their 20s, 30s,” KDKA, June 23, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/23/jump-in-allegheny-county-coronavirus-cases-linked-to-young-people/; Maria Simbra, “‘It’s Negligence’: Young People Hosting Coronavirus Parties, Betting On Who Gets Infected First,” KDKA, July 3, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/07/03/coronavirus-parties-young-people/; Teghan Simonton, “61 new coronavirus cases reported in Allegheny County, highest in 2 months,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 26, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/61-new-cases-of-coronavirus-reported-in-allegheny-county-2-deaths/; Teghan Simonton, “83 new cases of coronavirus in Allegheny County, no new deaths,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 29, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/83-new-cases-of-coronavirus-in-allegheny-county-no-new-deaths/; Teghan Simonton, “Allegheny County tops 230 new coronavirus cases,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 2, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/allegheny-county-tops-230-new-coronavirus-cases-no-deaths/; Megan Tomasic, “505 new coronavirus cases, 3 deaths reported in Pa.,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 28, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/505-new-coronavirus-cases-3-deaths-reported-in-pa/; WTAE, “Masks are now mandatory in all public spaces in Pennsylvania,” July 1, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/masks-are-now-mandatory-in-all-public-spaces-in-pennsylvania/33026253; WTAE, “Allegheny County issues new 2-week order prohibiting indoor dining and alcohol consumption at restaurants and bars,” July 8, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/allegheny-county-issues-new-mitigation-order-covid-19-coronavirus/33249080
  5. [5]Associated Press, “Pennsylvania Republicans Mount New Challenge To Gov. Tom Wolf’s Pandemic Power,” KDKA, July 14, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/07/14/republicans-mount-new-challenge-to-governors-pandemic-power/
  6. [6]Jeet Heer, [Twitter thread], Thread Reader App, July 15, 2020, https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1283451171634479104.html

You know it won’t be the psychopaths who refuse to wear masks and refuse to social distance because they wanna go to bars who wind up homeless

Evictions

I wonder if that plan to help renters[1] is bottled up in committee for the same stupid-ass reason as the recreational marijuana bill.[2] Meanwhile, time is running out[3] and you know it won’t be the psychopaths who refuse to wear masks and refuse to social distance because they wanna go to bars who wind up homeless.[4]

Renatta Signorini, “As time ticks down on eviction ban in Pennsylvania, crush of court cases expected,” Tribune-Review, July 8, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/as-time-ticks-down-on-eviction-ban-in-pennsylvania-crush-of-court-cases-expected/


Higher education

The Chronicle of Higher Education article[5] fleshes out my comments in the last issue. I hadn’t seen it before I published that issue, but I’ve added a citation and listed the article there as well.

Karin Fischer, “As MIT and Harvard Sue, Colleges Scramble to Respond to New Federal Policy on International Students,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 8, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/As-MITHarvard-Sue/249142


Pandemic


  1. [1]John L. Micek, “Pa. is facing a wave of evictions. Two state House lawmakers have a plan to help,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, June 16, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/commentary/pa-is-facing-a-wave-of-evictions-two-state-house-lawmakers-have-a-plan-to-help-tuesday-morning-coffee/
  2. [2]Meghan Schiller, “Can Legalizing Recreational Marijuana Lessen The Blow Of Pa.’s $3.2B Deficit? Lt. Gov. John Fetterman Says ‘The Time Is Now,’” KDKA, July 7, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/07/07/john-fetterman-legalizing-recreational-marijuana/
  3. [3]Renatta Signorini, “As time ticks down on eviction ban in Pennsylvania, crush of court cases expected,” Tribune-Review, July 8, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/as-time-ticks-down-on-eviction-ban-in-pennsylvania-crush-of-court-cases-expected/
  4. [4]David Benfell, “The psychopathy of the spike in COVID-19 cases,” Not Housebroken, July 8, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/07/07/the-psychopathy-of-the-spike-in-covid-19-cases/
  5. [5]Karin Fischer, “As MIT and Harvard Sue, Colleges Scramble to Respond to New Federal Policy on International Students,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 8, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/As-MITHarvard-Sue/249142

‘They’re Screwing Around in Congress’

There is a new blog post entitled, “The psychopathy of the spike in COVID-19 cases.”

It’s been a hot and dry few days. But as I’m about to hit publish here, look what just appeared to our west (in eastern Ohio):
ecan
Don’t know that it will come our way and suspect it won’t change the pattern much, but there it is.


Fascism

George Monbiot conflates the situations of the U.S. and the U.K., declines to call that conflation fascism, and distinguishes this conflation from fascism on specious grounds.[1] I’m beginning to sense a pattern: It is not intellectually fashionable to invoke the f-word (“fascism”), so people bend over backwards to explain how our situation is different so they can still style themselves ‘intellectuals.’

I call what is happening in the U.S. fascism because, crucially, it seeks to build political support through violence, whether structural or physical, against subaltern groups, especially nonwhites and the poor, that enables further violence against those groups.[2] That’s different from what Monbiot says is happening in the U.K., but Monbiot is criticizing anti-intellectualism in both countries and this is how he grounds his conflation.

I’m not prepared to call intellectuals a subaltern group in either country, though I certainly feel a temptation. Whether I would call the U.K. fascist depends on its treatment of subaltern groups and, while I’m not prepared to excuse that treatment, I’m also not prepared to say that that treatment is part of a feedback loop. Here is my previous definition of fascism from the previous update on May 16:

Fascism is an ideology that seeks to institutionalize structural and physical violence against some or many subaltern groups on the grounds of bigotry and to increase its own public support through the exploitation of such violence and bigotry. This bigotry may take several forms including nationalism, scapegoating, sexism, racism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. To the extent that it succeeds, it acts as a self-reinforcing feedback as public support enables further and more extreme violence.[3]

If, on the other hand, I am to consider intellectuals a subaltern group, it cannot be all intellectuals. Some, like economists who enable an intellectually utterly discredited neoliberalism[4] and those who support the political class in other ways, are often richly rewarded. Professors who cling to tenure hardly seem subaltern to me. So I would need a way to distinguish between outcast intellectuals, those who are not sycophants for the ruling class, and those who are.

That’s not as easy as it sounds. It can’t simply be that intellectuals who agree with me are subaltern, but ideological sycophancy might be one distinguishing feature of non-subaltern intellectuals. There are books on my shelf I haven’t gotten to that might help with this and Sergio Caldarella criticizes ideological conformity.[5] There may also be economic considerations: What if the surplus of Ph.D. holders functions, intentionally or not, to undermine intellectuals’ leverage in the marketplace, and therefore intellectualism at large?

For now, I just don’t know. A group I might more easily include as subaltern is that of dissidents. Monbiot criticizes the elite response to intellectual dissent in the U.S. and the U.K.,[6] but what if the real objection authoritarian populists and elites have with those Monbiot calls intellectuals isn’t to their intellectualism but rather to their ideas?

So here is how I am further refining my definition:

Fascism is an ideology that seeks to institutionalize structural and physical violence against some or many subaltern groups on the grounds of bigotry and to increase its own public support through the exploitation of such violence and bigotry. This bigotry may take several forms including the repression of dissent or the promotion of nationalism, scapegoating, sexism, racism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. To the extent that it succeeds, it acts as a self-reinforcing feedback as public support enables further and more extreme violence.[7]

George Monbiot, “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” July 6, 2020, https://www.monbiot.com/2020/07/07/something-wicked-this-way-comes/


Pennsylvania

Keeping Pennsylvania safe for white supremacy.

Stephen Caruso, “Pro 2nd Amendment lawmakers want to let you carry a gun during an emergency,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, July 7, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/government-politics/pro-2nd-amendment-lawmakers-want-to-let-you-carry-a-gun-during-an-emergency/


  1. [1]George Monbiot, “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” July 6, 2020, https://www.monbiot.com/2020/07/07/something-wicked-this-way-comes/
  2. [2]David Benfell, “A simple definition of fascism,” Not Housebroken, July 7, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/06/a-simple-definition-of-fascism/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “A simple definition of fascism,” Not Housebroken, July 7, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/06/a-simple-definition-of-fascism/
  4. [4]Mark Blyth, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford, UK: Oxford University, 2013); Amir Fleischmann, “The Myth of the Fiscal Conservative,” Jacobin, March 5, 2017, https://jacobinmag.com/2017/03/fiscal-conservative-social-services-austerity-save-money; Jason Hickel, “Progress and its discontents,” New Internationalist, August 7, 2019, https://newint.org/features/2019/07/01/long-read-progress-and-its-discontents; Daniel Stedman Jones, Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University, 2012); Robert Kuttner, “Austerity never works: Deficit hawks are amoral — and wrong,” Salon, May 5, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/05/05/austerity_never_works_deficit_hawks_are_amoral_and_wrong/; Dennis Loo, Globalization and the Demolition of Society (Glendale, CA: Larkmead, 2011); Thomas Piketty, Jeffrey Sachs, Heiner Flassbeck, Dani Rodrik and Simon Wren-Lewis, “Austerity Has Failed: An Open Letter From Thomas Piketty to Angela Merkel,” Nation, July 6, 2015, http://www.thenation.com/article/austerity-has-failed-an-open-letter-from-thomas-piketty-to-angela-merkel/; John Quiggin, “Austerity Has Been Tested, and It Failed,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 20, 2013, http://chronicle.com/article/Austerity-Has-Been-Tested-and/139255/; David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, “How Austerity Kills,” New York Times, May 12, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/13/opinion/how-austerity-kills.html; David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, “Paul Krugman’s right: Austerity kills,” Salon, May 19, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/05/19/paul_krugmans_right_austerity_kills/
  5. [5]Sergio Caldarella, The Dark Campus (Princeton, NJ: Dark Age, 2016).
  6. [6]George Monbiot, “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” July 6, 2020, https://www.monbiot.com/2020/07/07/something-wicked-this-way-comes/
  7. [7]David Benfell, “A simple definition of fascism,” Not Housebroken, July 7, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/06/a-simple-definition-of-fascism/

I hate the criminal injustice system. But there are folks out there right now who deserve to be prosecuted.

Pandemic

I want to say I don’t know what people were expecting. The trouble is, that wouldn’t be accurate. This is absolute, and absolutely inexcusable, reckless disregard.

In an attempt to quell the surge in new cases, Allegheny County officials ordered all bars, restaurants and casinos to halt on-premises dining, expanding an order earlier this week that banned the on-site consumption of alcohol. Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday expanded an order to make masks mandatory in outdoor situations where social distancing can’t be maintained.[1]

Don’t believe me?

“I know that people were angry and frustrated with recent developments including the surge in cases, the prior order and recommendations, as well as the state mask order,” said Dr. Debra Bogen, director of the county health department.[2]

She actually had to say that. The behavior that leads to this increase in cases is criminal. They are psychopaths but lock ’em up anyway and throw away the fucking key.

We are not talking about essential expendable workers here. We are not talking about the unemployed. We are talking about young adults, old enough to know better, who have the funds to go to bars and who just don’t give a damn.[3]

Andy Sheehan, “Allegheny County Closes Bars, Restaurants, Casinos And All Activities That Involve Over 25 People For One Week,” KDKA, July 2, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/07/02/allegheny-county-bar-restaurant-casino-closure/

Teghan Simonton, “Allegheny County tops 230 new coronavirus cases,” Tribune-Review, July 2, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/allegheny-county-tops-230-new-coronavirus-cases-no-deaths/

Recession

Actually, it’s not one but two “fiscal time bombs” as enhanced unemployment benefits run out and local and state governments run out of money and are forced to lay off more people than they already have.[4]

But due to the same sort of absolute reckless disregard that’s leading Allegheny County to clamp down on bars and restaurants,[5] Catherine Rampell’s plea for more economic relief[6] will likely go unheeded.

Catherine Rampell, “The U.S. job market is still in very bad shape. Just wait until the fiscal time bomb goes off,” Washington Post, July 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/02/us-job-market-is-still-very-bad-shape-just-wait-until-fiscal-time-bomb-goes-off/


  1. [1]Teghan Simonton, “Allegheny County tops 230 new coronavirus cases,” Tribune-Review, July 2, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/allegheny-county-tops-230-new-coronavirus-cases-no-deaths/
  2. [2]Andy Sheehan, “Allegheny County Closes Bars, Restaurants, Casinos And All Activities That Involve Over 25 People For One Week,” KDKA, July 2, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/07/02/allegheny-county-bar-restaurant-casino-closure/
  3. [3]Annie Gowen, Arelis R. Hernández, and Lori Rozsa, “Young people urged to take virus more seriously as pandemic worsens in U.S.,” Washington Post, June 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/young-people-are-driving-a-spike-in-coronavirus-infections-officials-say/2020/06/27/3654638c-b7b4-11ea-a510-55bf26485c93_story.html; KDKA, “‘For The First Time…Allegheny Co. Led The State In The Number Of New COVID-19 Cases’: Allegheny Co. Officials Ban On-Site Consumption Of Alcohol At Local Bars,” June 28, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/28/allegheny-co-highest-case-numbers-bans-on-site-drinking/; John Shumway, “‘People Don’t Care’: Recent Jump In Allegheny County Coronavirus Cases Linked To People In Their 20s, 30s,” KDKA, June 23, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/23/jump-in-allegheny-county-coronavirus-cases-linked-to-young-people/
  4. [4]Catherine Rampell, “The U.S. job market is still in very bad shape. Just wait until the fiscal time bomb goes off,” Washington Post, July 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/02/us-job-market-is-still-very-bad-shape-just-wait-until-fiscal-time-bomb-goes-off/
  5. [5]KDKA, “‘For The First Time…Allegheny Co. Led The State In The Number Of New COVID-19 Cases’: Allegheny Co. Officials Ban On-Site Consumption Of Alcohol At Local Bars,” June 28, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/28/allegheny-co-highest-case-numbers-bans-on-site-drinking/; Andy Sheehan, “Allegheny County Closes Bars, Restaurants, Casinos And All Activities That Involve Over 25 People For One Week,” KDKA, July 2, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/07/02/allegheny-county-bar-restaurant-casino-closure/; Teghan Simonton, “Allegheny County tops 230 new coronavirus cases,” Tribune-Review, July 2, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/allegheny-county-tops-230-new-coronavirus-cases-no-deaths/
  6. [6]Catherine Rampell, “The U.S. job market is still in very bad shape. Just wait until the fiscal time bomb goes off,” Washington Post, July 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/02/us-job-market-is-still-very-bad-shape-just-wait-until-fiscal-time-bomb-goes-off/

Recession, depression, my car has broken down

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

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

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


Donald Trump


History

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


Recession

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

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