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

Updates

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

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

  3. November 5, 10:10 am:

    • Regarding the tweet in the previous update,

  4. November 5, 11:09 pm:

    • Yesterday (November 4), I wrote,

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Today (November 5), Owen Jones begins,

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

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

      Nathan Robinson chimes in,

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

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

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


Election

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Polls

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

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

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

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


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

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/