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

Updates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


San Francisco

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

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


Donald Trump

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

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

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


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

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

Updates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Donald Trump

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

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

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

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

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


Hedge funds

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

The underlying sentiment is generally a lot like this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  1. [1]Eric Levitz, “Robinhood Banning GameStop Proves the Free Market Is a Lie,” New York, January 28, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/01/robinhood-ban-gamestop-share-price-explained.html
  2. [2]Matt Phillips and Taylor Lorenz, “‘Dumb Money’ Is on GameStop, and It’s Beating Wall Street at Its Own Game,” New York Times, January 27, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/27/business/gamestop-wall-street-bets.html
  3. [3]Eric Levitz, “Robinhood Banning GameStop Proves the Free Market Is a Lie,” New York, January 28, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/01/robinhood-ban-gamestop-share-price-explained.html
  4. [4]Sujata Rao, “Losses on short positions in U.S. firms top $70 billion – Ortex data,” Reuters, January 28, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-retail-trading-shortbets-idUSKBN29X1SW
  5. [5]Hamza Shaban, “GameStop stock roars back after Robinhood lifts trading freeze,” Washington Post, January 29, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/01/29/gamestop-stocks-robinhood-reddit/
  6. [6]Spencer S. Hsu, Rachel Weiner, and Tom Jackman, “Self-styled militia members in three states began planning in November for recruits, weapons ahead of Capitol breach, U.S. alleges,” Washington Post, January 27, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/legal-issues/self-styled-militia-members-in-three-states-began-planning-in-novembe-for-recruits-weapons-ahead-of-capitol-breach-us-alleges/2021/01/27/f13b0bfc-60b9-11eb-9061-07abcc1f9229_story.html
  7. [7]Matt Phillips and Taylor Lorenz, “‘Dumb Money’ Is on GameStop, and It’s Beating Wall Street at Its Own Game,” New York Times, January 27, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/27/business/gamestop-wall-street-bets.html
  8. [8]Nick Hanauer and David M. Rolf, “The Top 1% of Americans Have Taken $50 Trillion From the Bottom 90%—And That’s Made the U.S. Less Secure,” Time, September 14, 2020, https://time.com/5888024/50-trillion-income-inequality-america/
  9. [9]Charles Lane, “The rich got richer during the pandemic. We need to claw back their gains,” Washington Post, January 25, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-rich-got-richer-during-the-pandemic-we-need-to-claw-back-their-gains/2021/01/25/d17c8a44-5f32-11eb-9430-e7c77b5b0297_story.html
  10. [10]Associated Press, “Tenants Behind on Rent in Pandemic Face Harassment, Eviction,” U.S. News and World Report, June 14, 2020, https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/virginia/articles/2020-06-13/tenants-behind-on-rent-in-pandemic-face-harassment-eviction; Regina Garcia Cano and Michael Casey, “Wave of evictions expected as moratoriums end in many states,” Associated Press, August 4, 2020, copy in possession of author; Kriston Capps, “What Happens When the Eviction Bans End?” CityLab, May 29, 2020, https://www.citylab.com/equity/2020/05/pay-rent-eviction-ban-coronavirus-housing-crisis-landlord/612277/; Kriston Capps, “Landlords Challenge U.S. Eviction Ban and Continue to Oust Renters,” CityLab, October 22, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-22/landlords-launch-legal-attack-on-cdc-eviction-ban; Michelle Conlin and Christopher Walljasper, “Time’s up: After a reprieve, a wave of evictions expected across U.S.,” Reuters, October 19, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-housing-eviction-insight/times-up-after-a-reprieve-a-wave-of-evictions-expected-across-u-s-idUKKBN27415U; John Fritze and Nicholas Wu, “Trump administration announces nationwide eviction moratorium through end of the year,” USA Today, September 1, 2020, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/09/01/trump-imposes-eviction-moratorium-because-covid-19-pandemic/5686402002/; Sam Levin, “California landlords are locking out struggling tenants. A ‘tsunami of evictions’ may be next,” Guardian, July 30, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jul/30/california-covid-19-evictions-landlords-tenants; Eric Levitz, “This Recession Is a Bigger Housing Crisis Than 2008,” New York, July 13, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/07/coronavirus-recession-evictions-crisis-congress.html; Heather Long, “Millions of Americans are heading into the holidays unemployed and over $5,000 behind on rent,” Washington Post, December 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/07/unemployed-debt-rent-utilities/; Heather Long, “Nearly 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty since the summer,” Washington Post, December 16, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/16/poverty-rising/; Renae Merle, “Evictions are likely to skyrocket this summer as jobs remain scarce. Black renters will be hard hit,” Washington Post, July 6, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/07/06/eviction-moratoriums-starwood/; Gretchen Morgenson, “Large corporate landlords have filed 10,000 eviction actions in five states since September,” NBC News, October 26, 2020, https://www.nbcnews.com/business/personal-finance/large-corporate-landlords-have-filed-10-000-eviction-actions-five-n1244711; Will Parker, “Struggling Rental Market Could Usher in Next American Housing Crisis,” Wall Street Journal, October 27, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/struggling-rental-market-could-usher-in-next-american-housing-crisis-11603791000; Jenny Schuetz, “America’s inequitable housing system is completely unprepared for coronavirus,” Brookings, March 12, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2020/03/12/americas-inequitable-housing-system-is-completely-unprepared-for-coronavirus/; Kyle Swenson, “Renters thought a CDC order protected them from eviction. Then landlords found loopholes,” Washington Post, October 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2020/10/27/trump-cdc-eviction-moratorium-loopholes/
  11. [11]Matt Phillips and Taylor Lorenz, “‘Dumb Money’ Is on GameStop, and It’s Beating Wall Street at Its Own Game,” New York Times, January 27, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/27/business/gamestop-wall-street-bets.html
  12. [12]Matt Phillips and Taylor Lorenz, “‘Dumb Money’ Is on GameStop, and It’s Beating Wall Street at Its Own Game,” New York Times, January 27, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/27/business/gamestop-wall-street-bets.html
  13. [13]Charles Lane, “The rich got richer during the pandemic. We need to claw back their gains,” Washington Post, January 25, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-rich-got-richer-during-the-pandemic-we-need-to-claw-back-their-gains/2021/01/25/d17c8a44-5f32-11eb-9430-e7c77b5b0297_story.html
  14. [14]Heather Long, “The recession is over for the rich, but the working class is far from recovered,” Washington Post, August 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/08/13/recession-is-over-rich-working-class-is-far-recovered/
  15. [15]Matt Phillips and Taylor Lorenz, “‘Dumb Money’ Is on GameStop, and It’s Beating Wall Street at Its Own Game,” New York Times, January 27, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/27/business/gamestop-wall-street-bets.html

On the second day after Christmas (Update #2)

Updates

  1. Originally published, December 27, 2020, at 11:14 am.

  2. December 27, 2020, 11:12 pm:

    • Clearly, I am not the only one peeved about the snow plowing in Pittsburgh, as a council member, whose district includes Carrick, is raising Cain, in response, he says, to complaints.[1]

      That said, the roads were generally a whole lot better today, except in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Carrick and in the City of McKeesport. I was wondering if the fact that the temperature had risen to over forty degrees had something to do with it, but then saw the streets in Carrick, and figured I knew who was on the snow plowing shit list.

      I saw one snow plow today, parked with its lights going in the South Side, where there was no need for plowing (although I didn’t go through the South Side Slopes, a steep neighborhood with some excruciatingly narrow streets, one of which I got into trouble on yesterday). I am charitably presuming the operator was taking a break. And I am deeply suspicious that I might be being much too charitable.

      Then I got home and saw the snow, which had been several inches deep, had melted completely off in places with a southern exposure and not just in places where kids might be snowboarding downhill. So I don’t know.

      Whatever the explanation, the fact that you could cross the city limits in any direction and find roads in generally better shape even when the blizzard was in full force has to raise some questions.

    • Donald Trump reportedly signed the COVID-19 economic relief bill[2] he had earlier criticized,[3] but not before additional unemployment benefits had lapsed.[4] Whether Trump gets the $2,000 direct payment, rather than the $600, remains to be seen.[5]


Depression

The additional unemployment benefits that boosted payments and also helped the usually unassisted self-employed that were included with an earlier COVID-19 relief bill[6] have now expired,[7] and the finger pointing has begun:

But both parties dithered for months[8] because there are exactly two real goals here:

  1. Uphold neoliberal dogma so as to protect the rich (the “donor” class).[9]
  2. Blame the other party for upholding or for allegedly but not really failing to uphold neoliberal dogma.

Meanwhile, millions face homelessness.[10] Millions have been pushed into poverty.[11]

Natalie Andrews and Andrew Restuccia, “Trump Signs Covid-19 Aid Bill Averting Government Shutdown,” Wall Street Journal, December 27, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-signs-covid-19-aid-bill-averting-government-shutdown-11609117841

Tami Luhby, Sarah Westwood, and Nikki Carvajal, “Unemployment benefits lapse for jobless Americans as Trump holds out on signing relief bill,” CNN, December 27, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/26/politics/unemployment-benefits-stimulus-relief-bill/index.html


Pittsburgh

KDKA Television, “Pittsburgh Councilman Publicly Criticizes ‘Unacceptable’ State Of Roads After Snowfall,” December 27, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/12/27/pittsburgh-councilman-publicly-criticizes-unacceptable-state-of-roads-after-snowfall/


  1. [1]KDKA Television, “Pittsburgh Councilman Publicly Criticizes ‘Unacceptable’ State Of Roads After Snowfall,” December 27, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/12/27/pittsburgh-councilman-publicly-criticizes-unacceptable-state-of-roads-after-snowfall/
  2. [2]Natalie Andrews and Andrew Restuccia, “Trump Signs Covid-19 Aid Bill Averting Government Shutdown,” Wall Street Journal, December 27, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-signs-covid-19-aid-bill-averting-government-shutdown-11609117841
  3. [3]Rebecca Ballhaus, “Trump Asks Congress to Amend Covid-19 Package, Boost Direct Payments,” Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-asks-congress-to-amend-covid-19-package-boost-direct-payments-11608684702
  4. [4]Natalie Andrews and Andrew Restuccia, “Trump Signs Covid-19 Aid Bill Averting Government Shutdown,” Wall Street Journal, December 27, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-signs-covid-19-aid-bill-averting-government-shutdown-11609117841; Tami Luhby, Sarah Westwood, and Nikki Carvajal, “Unemployment benefits lapse for jobless Americans as Trump holds out on signing relief bill,” CNN, December 27, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/26/politics/unemployment-benefits-stimulus-relief-bill/index.html
  5. [5]Suzanne Malveaux, Phil Mattingly, and Clare Foran, “House fails to pass measure to increase stimulus checks to $2,000,” CNN, December 24, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/24/politics/house-vote-stimulus-checks-government/index.html
  6. [6]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; Tami Luhby, Sarah Westwood, and Nikki Carvajal, “Unemployment benefits lapse for jobless Americans as Trump holds out on signing relief bill,” CNN, December 27, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/26/politics/unemployment-benefits-stimulus-relief-bill/index.html; 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/; Manu Raju et al., “White House, Senate reach historic $2 trillion stimulus deal amid growing coronavirus fears,” CNN, March 25, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/25/politics/stimulus-senate-action-coronavirus/index.html; Jeff Stein et al., “Senate Republicans release massive economic stimulus bill for coronavirus response,” Washington Post, March 19, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/19/trump-coronavirus-economic-plan-stimulus/; Jim Tankersley and Ben Casselman, “Washington Weighs Big Bailouts to Help U.S. Economy Survive Coronavirus,” New York Times, March 18, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/18/business/bailout-economy-coronavirus.html; Erica Werner, Mike DeBonis, and Paul Kane, “Senate passes $2 trillion bill to blunt coronavirus pandemic’s economic impact, as households and businesses gasp for relief,” Washington Post, March 26, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/26/senate-trump-coronavirus-economic-stimulus-2-trillion/; Erica Werner, Paul Kane, and Mike DeBonis, “Trump signs $2 trillion coronavirus bill into law as companies and households brace for more economic pain,” Washington Post, March 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2020/03/27/congress-coronavirus-house-vote/
  7. [7]Tami Luhby, Sarah Westwood, and Nikki Carvajal, “Unemployment benefits lapse for jobless Americans as Trump holds out on signing relief bill,” CNN, December 27, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/26/politics/unemployment-benefits-stimulus-relief-bill/index.html; Suzanne Malveaux, Phil Mattingly, and Clare Foran, “House fails to pass measure to increase stimulus checks to $2,000,” CNN, December 24, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/24/politics/house-vote-stimulus-checks-government/index.html
  8. [8]Paul Kane, “Congress deeply unpopular again as gridlock on coronavirus relief has real-life consequences,” Washington Post, August 1, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/congress-deeply-unpopular-again-as-gridlock-on-coronavirus-relief-has-real-life-consequences/2020/07/31/6d2f10c4-d36a-11ea-8c55-61e7fa5e82ab_story.html
  9. [9]David Benfell, “A piper needs paying,” Not Housebroken, December 24, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/19/a-piper-needs-paying/
  10. [10]Heather Long, “Millions of Americans are heading into the holidays unemployed and over $5,000 behind on rent,” Washington Post, December 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/07/unemployed-debt-rent-utilities/
  11. [11]Heather Long, “Nearly 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty since the summer,” Washington Post, December 16, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/16/poverty-rising/

More than 1,500 lawyers call for Donald Trump’s lawyers to be investigated and disbarred (Update #6)

Updates

  1. Originally published, December 9, 2020, 10:47 am.

  2. December 10, 10:00 am:

    • As Donald Trump seems increasingly to be exhausting his avenues to overturn the election results in the courts, he, of course, still refuses to concede defeat and is now pressuring Republicans in Congress to reject electoral college slates. It doesn’t sound like this effort will be any more fruitful.[1] But Congress, of course, is a political arena rather than a legal one, and it’s clear that Republicans remain cowed by Trump’s base.

      As this drags on, something the rest of us need to consider is that this is not really about fraud in any legal sense. Trump has been abusing the court system with frivolous and utterly unfounded challenges to the results.[2]

      What it is about, even as the campaign posters, flags, and banners start to come down, is that Trump is still able to raise huge amounts of money claiming fraud. Trump may indeed be a grifter,[3] exploiting the most aggrieved tendencies (authoritarian populism and social conservatism) that form his base. But as warped as the rest of us might believe it to be, some are even engaging in uncivil disobedience, verging on violence.[4] Even to the extent we may suspect that the louder their protests, the more desperate their plea for validation,[5] we need to understand that they are losing their hero, they believe they are losing “their” “democracy,”[6] and, to them, this result seems profoundly unjust, exacerbating their sense of grievance.

      The real story of Trump’s fraud allegations won’t be over even when it is.

  3. December 10, 1:27 pm:

    • The Arizona Republican Party denies it condones violence but asked its followers on Twitter if they were willing to die to overturn the election results.[7]

    • Gee, Robert Merton might’ve told you this’d happen. He argued that if you don’t give people socially approved means of achieving socially approved ends, they’ll resort to other means.[8] I think he was talking about climbing the ladder of social mobility, which in the U.S., has a few rungs missing anyway.[9] But now, with Congress failing to pass an economic relief package for the pandemic, guess what? Shoplifting of essentials like food, diapers, and feminine hygiene products is skyrocketing.[10]

  4. December 10, 9:44 pm:

  5. December 11, 12:00 noon:

    • I have updated an old blog post from August, entitled “The Donald Trump supporters’ campaign message: Fuck Your Feelings.” Reprising what has happened since the election, I note that “the sheer delight Trumpsters take in vicious cruelty toward others, even when they don’t take it so well themselves, a persistent bullying that raises doubt that the political divisions in the country can be resolved, for they derive not so much from politics as from psychological impairment.”[11]

      It is, of course, impolite to observe psychological impairment and in my dissertation I declined to address the psychology of conservatism as a distraction from the issues conservatives of various tendencies raise.[12] I am not a psychologist and so it is difficult for me to delve deeply into the psychology of conservatism, especially Trumpism, anyway. But it’s clear that the remove I chose for my dissertation is no longer appropriate.

  6. December 11, 11:00 pm:


    • Fig. 1. Photograph by author, December 11, 2020.

    • I had regarded the calls for and threats—both implicit and explicit—of violence[13] to overturn the election results, even as the court system resoundingly rejects legal efforts toward the same end,[14] principally as an authoritarian populist phenomenon, though I thought surely that some extremist paleoconservatives (including white supremacists) would surely join in.

      It seems I was wrong. At least one social conservative has echoed that call. I should emphasize here that the author of this article, Rod Dreher, is, I believe, a traditionalist conservative, normally sympathetic with social conservatives. I don’t agree with him on much. But he expresses horror at his friend’s call for bloodshed.[15]

      Dreher skillfully describes the hysteria that is at work here. He is alarmed[16] and I am alarmed: If enough people call for violence, some people will be violent, especially when they believe their god commands it.

      This seems to underscore my recent thinking that the distinctions I drew between authoritarian populists, paleoconservatives, and social conservatives in my dissertation, even given that such distinctions are fuzzy,[17] are really rather dubious.[18]

    • The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed Texas’ attempt to overturn the election results from four states.[19]

      Lawsuits continue around the country, and [Donald] Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani said on Newsmax, “We’re not finished, believe me.” But the Texas case was the one upon which the president and his allies had pinned their hopes, and time is almost up.

      The election results have been certified in each state, and the electoral college is to meet Monday. [Joe] Biden has 306 electoral votes, exactly the number Trump had when he was elected in 2016. But while Trump lost the popular vote then, Biden has an advantage of more than 7 million votes.[20]


Donald Trump

Following a series of bogus legal challenges,[21] the U.S. Supreme Court rejected without comment a bid to overturn the Pennsylvania election results[22] and more than 1,500 lawyers have signed a letter calling for Donald Trump’s lawyers to be investigated and disbarred.[23]

Robert Barnes, “Supreme Court denies Trump allies’ bid to overturn Pennsylvania election results,” Washington Post, December 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-trump-pennsylvania-election-results/2020/12/08/4d39e16c-397d-11eb-98c4-25dc9f4987e8_story.html

Kim Bellware and John Wagner, “Letter from 1,500 attorneys says Trump campaign lawyers don’t have ‘license to lie,’” Washington Post, December 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/12/08/trump-lawyer-letter/

Rod Dreher, “Eric Metaxas’s American Apocalypse,” American Conservative, December 10, 2020, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/eric-metaxas-trump-bloodshed-american-apocalypse-live-not-by-lies/

Sophie Lewis, “Arizona Republican Party asks followers if they’re willing to die to overturn election results,” CBS News, December 10, 2020, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/arizona-republican-party-twitter-election-results-death-overturn/

Robert Barnes, “Supreme Court dismisses bid led by Texas attorney general to overturn the presidential election results, blocking Trump’s legal path to a reversal of his loss,” Washington Post, December 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-texas-election-trump/2020/12/11/bf462f22-3bc6-11eb-bc68-96af0daae728_story.html


Depression

An eviction moratorium is set to expire at the end of the year with high unemployment and many people thousands of dollars behind on the rent. There is still no meaningful relief in sight.[24]

Heather Long, “Millions of Americans are heading into the holidays unemployed and over $5,000 behind on rent,” Washington Post, December 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/07/unemployed-debt-rent-utilities/

Abha Bhattarai and Hannah Denham, “Stealing to survive: More Americans are shoplifting food as aid runs out during the pandemic,” Washington Post, December 10, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/10/pandemic-shoplifting-hunger/


  1. [1]Rachael Bade, Josh Dawsey, and Tom Hamburger, “Trump pressures congressional Republicans to help in his fight to overturn the election,” Washington Post, December 9, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-republicans-biden-election/2020/12/09/abd596ea-3a4e-11eb-9276-ae0ca72729be_story.html
  2. [2]Robert Barnes, “Supreme Court denies Trump allies’ bid to overturn Pennsylvania election results,” Washington Post, December 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-trump-pennsylvania-election-results/2020/12/08/4d39e16c-397d-11eb-98c4-25dc9f4987e8_story.html; Kim Bellware and John Wagner, “Letter from 1,500 attorneys says Trump campaign lawyers don’t have ‘license to lie,’” Washington Post, December 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/12/08/trump-lawyer-letter/; Aaron Blake, “Trump lawyers suffer embarrassing rebukes from judges over voter fraud claims,” Washington Post, November 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/11/11/trump-lawyers-suffer-embarrassing-rebukes-judges-over-voter-fraud-claims/; Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, “Donald Trump’s brutal day in court,” Politico, December 4, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/04/donald-trump-in-court-443010; Marjorie Cohn, “Trump’s Frivolous Lawsuits Are the Tip of the Iceberg in His Refusal to Concede,” Truthout, November 11, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-frivolous-lawsuits-are-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-in-his-refusal-to-concede/; Pam Fessler, “Led By Giuliani, Trump Campaign Effort To Stop Certification Falters In Pennsylvania,” National Public Radio, November 17, 2020, https://www.npr.org/2020/11/17/936027693/led-by-giuliani-trump-campaign-effort-to-stop-certification-falters-in-pennsylva; Stephanie Saul, “Lindsey Graham’s Long-Shot Mission to Unravel the Election Results,” New York Times, November 17, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/17/us/politics/lindsey-graham-georgia-trump-biden.html; Paula Reed Ward, “Federal judge to consider whether to dismiss case filed by Trump campaign in Pa.,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 17, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/federal-judge-to-consider-whether-to-dismiss-case-filed-by-trump-campaign-in-pa/; Jon Swaine, “In scathing opinion, federal judge dismisses Trump campaign lawsuit in Pennsylvania,” Washington Post, November 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/us-judge-dismisses-trump-campaign-lawsuit-in-pa/2020/11/21/cc097fbe-2c50-11eb-9b14-ad872157ebc9_story.html
  3. [3]John Cassidy, “Donald Trump’s Latest Grift May Be His Most Cynical Yet,” New Yorker, December 3, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/donald-trumps-latest-grift-may-be-his-most-cynical-yet; Simon Lewis, “Trump unveils $207 million fundraising haul after election in effort to overturn result,” Reuters, December 3, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-trump-fundraising/trump-unveils-207-million-fundraising-haul-after-election-in-effort-to-overturn-result-idUSKBN28E012; Peter Slevin, “Trump’s Election-Fraud Bluster Finds an Audience,” New Yorker, December 5, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/the-political-scene/donald-trumps-election-fraud-bluster-finds-an-audience
  4. [4]Mark Bray, “Trump’s Baseless Fraud Accusations Are Already Sparking Far Right Violence,” Truthout, November 9, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-baseless-fraud-accusations-are-already-sparking-far-right-violence/; Marissa J. Lang et al., “After thousands of Trump supporters rally in D.C., violence erupts when night falls,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2020/11/14/million-maga-march-dc-protests/; Ciara O’Rourke, “How Oath Keepers Are Quietly Infiltrating Local Government,” Politico, December 9, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/12/09/oath-keepers-far-right-group-infiltrate-local-government-texas-443773; Katie Shepherd, “Armed protesters alleging voter fraud surrounded the home of Michigan’s secretary of state,” Washington Post, December 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/12/07/michigan-sos-benson-armed-protest/
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Doubting the ‘Fox News bubble,’” Not Housebroken, October 11, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/07/doubting-the-fox-news-bubble/
  6. [6]Marc Fisher, “The end of democracy? To many Americans, the future looks dark if the other side wins,” Washington Post, October 25, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/end-of-democracy-election/2020/10/25/3b8c0940-13d0-11eb-ba42-ec6a580836ed_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; 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; Greg Sargent, “Georgia Republicans beg Trump to release them from his prison of lies,” Washington Post, December 1, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/12/01/georgia-republicans-beg-trump-release-them-his-prison-lies/; Peter Slevin, “Trump’s Election-Fraud Bluster Finds an Audience,” New Yorker, December 5, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/the-political-scene/donald-trumps-election-fraud-bluster-finds-an-audience; Ishaan Tharoor, “Trumpism is here to stay,” Washington Post, November 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2020/11/05/trumpism-here-to-stay/
  7. [7]Sophie Lewis, “Arizona Republican Party asks followers if they’re willing to die to overturn election results,” CBS News, December 10, 2020, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/arizona-republican-party-twitter-election-results-death-overturn/
  8. [8]Robert K. Merton, “Social Structure and Anomie,” in Social Theory, ed. Charles Lemert, 6th ed. (Boulder, CO: Westview, 2017), 181-190.
  9. [9]Claude S. Fischer et al., “Why Inequality?” In Great Divides, ed. Thomas M. Shapiro, 3rd ed. (New York: McGraw Hill, 2005), 9-15; Jay MacLeod, “Social Immobility in the Land of Opportunity, in Great Divides, ed. Thomas M. Shapiro, 3rd ed. (New York: McGraw Hill, 2005), 22-26.
  10. [10]Abha Bhattarai and Hannah Denham, “Stealing to survive: More Americans are shoplifting food as aid runs out during the pandemic,” Washington Post, December 10, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/10/pandemic-shoplifting-hunger/
  11. [11]David Benfell, “The Donald Trump supporters’ campaign message: Fuck Your Feelings,” Not Housebroken, December 11, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/26/the-donald-trump-supporters-campaign-message-fuck-your-feelings/
  12. [12]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  13. [13]Mark Bray, “Trump’s Baseless Fraud Accusations Are Already Sparking Far Right Violence,” Truthout, November 9, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-baseless-fraud-accusations-are-already-sparking-far-right-violence/; Rod Dreher, “Eric Metaxas’s American Apocalypse,” American Conservative, December 10, 2020, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/eric-metaxas-trump-bloodshed-american-apocalypse-live-not-by-lies/; Marissa J. Lang et al., “After thousands of Trump supporters rally in D.C., violence erupts when night falls,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2020/11/14/million-maga-march-dc-protests/; Ciara O’Rourke, “How Oath Keepers Are Quietly Infiltrating Local Government,” Politico, December 9, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/12/09/oath-keepers-far-right-group-infiltrate-local-government-texas-443773; Katie Shepherd, “Armed protesters alleging voter fraud surrounded the home of Michigan’s secretary of state,” Washington Post, December 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/12/07/michigan-sos-benson-armed-protest/
  14. [14]Robert Barnes, “Supreme Court denies Trump allies’ bid to overturn Pennsylvania election results,” Washington Post, December 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-trump-pennsylvania-election-results/2020/12/08/4d39e16c-397d-11eb-98c4-25dc9f4987e8_story.html; Robert Barnes, “Supreme Court dismisses bid led by Texas attorney general to overturn the presidential election results, blocking Trump’s legal path to a reversal of his loss,” Washington Post, December 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-texas-election-trump/2020/12/11/bf462f22-3bc6-11eb-bc68-96af0daae728_story.html; Kim Bellware and John Wagner, “Letter from 1,500 attorneys says Trump campaign lawyers don’t have ‘license to lie,’” Washington Post, December 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/12/08/trump-lawyer-letter/; Aaron Blake, “Trump lawyers suffer embarrassing rebukes from judges over voter fraud claims,” Washington Post, November 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/11/11/trump-lawyers-suffer-embarrassing-rebukes-judges-over-voter-fraud-claims/; Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, “Donald Trump’s brutal day in court,” Politico, December 4, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/04/donald-trump-in-court-443010; Marjorie Cohn, “Trump’s Frivolous Lawsuits Are the Tip of the Iceberg in His Refusal to Concede,” Truthout, November 11, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-frivolous-lawsuits-are-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-in-his-refusal-to-concede/; Pam Fessler, “Led By Giuliani, Trump Campaign Effort To Stop Certification Falters In Pennsylvania,” National Public Radio, November 17, 2020, https://www.npr.org/2020/11/17/936027693/led-by-giuliani-trump-campaign-effort-to-stop-certification-falters-in-pennsylva; Stephanie Saul, “Lindsey Graham’s Long-Shot Mission to Unravel the Election Results,” New York Times, November 17, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/17/us/politics/lindsey-graham-georgia-trump-biden.html; Paula Reed Ward, “Federal judge to consider whether to dismiss case filed by Trump campaign in Pa.,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 17, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/federal-judge-to-consider-whether-to-dismiss-case-filed-by-trump-campaign-in-pa/; Jon Swaine, “In scathing opinion, federal judge dismisses Trump campaign lawsuit in Pennsylvania,” Washington Post, November 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/us-judge-dismisses-trump-campaign-lawsuit-in-pa/2020/11/21/cc097fbe-2c50-11eb-9b14-ad872157ebc9_story.html
  15. [15]Rod Dreher, “Eric Metaxas’s American Apocalypse,” American Conservative, December 10, 2020, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/eric-metaxas-trump-bloodshed-american-apocalypse-live-not-by-lies/
  16. [16]Rod Dreher, “Eric Metaxas’s American Apocalypse,” American Conservative, December 10, 2020, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/eric-metaxas-trump-bloodshed-american-apocalypse-live-not-by-lies/
  17. [17]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  18. [18]David Benfell, “The seven tendencies of conservatism,” Irregular Bullshit, n.d., https://disunitedstates.com/the-seven-tendencies-of-conservatism/
  19. [19]Robert Barnes, “Supreme Court dismisses bid led by Texas attorney general to overturn the presidential election results, blocking Trump’s legal path to a reversal of his loss,” Washington Post, December 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-texas-election-trump/2020/12/11/bf462f22-3bc6-11eb-bc68-96af0daae728_story.html
  20. [20]Robert Barnes, “Supreme Court dismisses bid led by Texas attorney general to overturn the presidential election results, blocking Trump’s legal path to a reversal of his loss,” Washington Post, December 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-texas-election-trump/2020/12/11/bf462f22-3bc6-11eb-bc68-96af0daae728_story.html
  21. [21]Aaron Blake, “Trump lawyers suffer embarrassing rebukes from judges over voter fraud claims,” Washington Post, November 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/11/11/trump-lawyers-suffer-embarrassing-rebukes-judges-over-voter-fraud-claims/; Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, “Donald Trump’s brutal day in court,” Politico, December 4, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/04/donald-trump-in-court-443010; Marjorie Cohn, “Trump’s Frivolous Lawsuits Are the Tip of the Iceberg in His Refusal to Concede,” Truthout, November 11, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-frivolous-lawsuits-are-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-in-his-refusal-to-concede/; Pam Fessler, “Led By Giuliani, Trump Campaign Effort To Stop Certification Falters In Pennsylvania,” National Public Radio, November 17, 2020, https://www.npr.org/2020/11/17/936027693/led-by-giuliani-trump-campaign-effort-to-stop-certification-falters-in-pennsylva; Stephanie Saul, “Lindsey Graham’s Long-Shot Mission to Unravel the Election Results,” New York Times, November 17, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/17/us/politics/lindsey-graham-georgia-trump-biden.html; Paula Reed Ward, “Federal judge to consider whether to dismiss case filed by Trump campaign in Pa.,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 17, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/federal-judge-to-consider-whether-to-dismiss-case-filed-by-trump-campaign-in-pa/; Jon Swaine, “In scathing opinion, federal judge dismisses Trump campaign lawsuit in Pennsylvania,” Washington Post, November 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/us-judge-dismisses-trump-campaign-lawsuit-in-pa/2020/11/21/cc097fbe-2c50-11eb-9b14-ad872157ebc9_story.html
  22. [22]Robert Barnes, “Supreme Court denies Trump allies’ bid to overturn Pennsylvania election results,” Washington Post, December 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-trump-pennsylvania-election-results/2020/12/08/4d39e16c-397d-11eb-98c4-25dc9f4987e8_story.html
  23. [23]Kim Bellware and John Wagner, “Letter from 1,500 attorneys says Trump campaign lawyers don’t have ‘license to lie,’” Washington Post, December 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/12/08/trump-lawyer-letter/
  24. [24]Heather Long, “Millions of Americans are heading into the holidays unemployed and over $5,000 behind on rent,” Washington Post, December 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/07/unemployed-debt-rent-utilities/

Kente cloth was the wrong cloth to wear

George Floyd

There is a new blog post entitled, “They should have ‘simply worn red.’

Nana Efua Mumford, “Democratic leaders’ kneeling was fine. The kente cloth was not,” Washington Post, June 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/06/11/educate-yourself-before-you-wear-kente/

Maritza Perez, “The Congressional Police Reform Bill Fails to Meet the Moment,” Common Dreams, June 12, 2020, https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/06/12/congressional-police-reform-bill-fails-meet-moment


Pittsburgh

One longstanding issue has been that police have increasingly been dealing with social problems, such as drug addiction, homelessness, and poverty. They have one approach, which is pretty much to treat everything and everybody as criminal or as potentially criminal. But it’s completely the wrong approach for many issues, especially where mental health is involved.

Bill Peduto is backing a measure that would enable the police to step back from at least some of these issues so people who are really victims can actually get help rather than ending up in the slammer.[1] It’s a good move.

Andy Sheehan, “Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto Proposes Creation Of New Office That Would ‘Allow Public Safety To Step Back’ And Get People Longer-Term Help,” KDKA, June 12, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/12/pittsburgh-office-of-community-health-and-safety/


  1. [1]Andy Sheehan, “Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto Proposes Creation Of New Office That Would ‘Allow Public Safety To Step Back’ And Get People Longer-Term Help,” KDKA, June 12, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/12/pittsburgh-office-of-community-health-and-safety/

The lessons of this recession will carry a high price

Updates

  1. Originally published, June 5, 2020 at 10:49 pm.
  2. June 6, 2020, 10:18 am:
  3. June 6, 12:25 pm:

Recession

There is a new blog post entitled, “Tipping point.”

[See update for June 6, 10:18 am.]

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/

Eric Levitz, “Why the Shockingly Good Jobs Report Might Be Bad News,” New York, June 5, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/06/unemployment-jobs-report-congress-bls.html

Eli Rosenberg, “Unemployment rate drops to 13 percent, as the economy picked up jobs as states reopened,” Washington Post, June 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/06/05/may-2020-jobs-report/


Nowhere to go but down

Recession

As usual, the headline unemployment figure is bullshit:

As horrific as the April unemployment figure, economists say the official government rate almost certainly underestimates the extent of the job losses. The Labor Department collected the data in mid-April. Layoffs have continued to mount since then, and the unemployment rate only measures people actively searching for a job, which is difficult during an era when Americans are being encouraged to stay at home.[1]

For a whole bunch of reasons, it will likely be a long, slow road to recovery.[2] In real terms, this translates to many people being unable to pay rent, pay mortgages, pay credit card bills, pay utility bills over a long haul. They’re not going to be able to catch up on those bills when the bans on evictions and utility shutoffs expire. And they won’t be buying much so producers face curtailed markets. This, in turn, means more homeless people and more layoffs as businesses continue to go under. That means more desperation.

Unless serious action is taken to relieve these folks, we face a downward spiral, and it’s hard to see how the recent white supremacist gun nuttery in support of reopening the economy and letting the old and weak die[3] won’t intensify.

Allegedly, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer will propose a major relief package.[4] But this is like the impeachment of Donald Trump. It’s really a sham, meant to placate the Left, but dead on arrival in the Senate, thus no threat to neoliberal principle. Pelosi can return to her ice cream unperturbed.

Alexander Bolton, “Schumer, Pelosi set to unveil ‘Rooseveltian’ relief package,” Hill, May 7, 2020, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/496565-schumer-pelosi-set-to-unveil-rooseveltian-relief-package

Heather Long, “Jobless rate soared to 14.7% in April as U.S. shed 20.5 million jobs amid coronavirus pandemic,” Washington Post, May 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/05/08/april-2020-jobs-report/


  1. [1]Heather Long, “Jobless rate soared to 14.7% in April as U.S. shed 20.5 million jobs amid coronavirus pandemic,” Washington Post, May 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/05/08/april-2020-jobs-report/
  2. [2]Heather Long, “Jobless rate soared to 14.7% in April as U.S. shed 20.5 million jobs amid coronavirus pandemic,” Washington Post, May 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/05/08/april-2020-jobs-report/
  3. [3]Ryan Deto, “Photos: About 120 protest in Downtown Pittsburgh, calling for Pennsylvania to reopen during coronavirus pandemic,” Pittsburgh City Paper, April 20, 2020, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/photos-about-120-protest-in-downtown-pittsburgh-calling-for-pennsylvania-to-reopen-during-coronavirus-pandemic/Content?oid=17167012; Bryan Armen Graham, “‘Swastikas and nooses’: governor slams ‘racism’ of Michigan lockdown protest,” Guardian, May 3, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/may/03/michigan-gretchen-whitmer-lockdown-protest-racism; John F. Harris, “Admit It: You Are Willing to Let People Die to End the Shutdown,” Politico, April 30, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/04/30/coronavirus-shutdown-altitude-ethics-223569; Gloria Jackson, as told to Eli Saslow, “‘I apologize to God for feeling this way,’” Washington Post, May 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/05/02/elderly-woman-coronavirus-lonely-expendable/; Joe Lowndes, “The Morbid Ideology Behind the Drive to Reopen America,” New Republic, April 30, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/157505/morbid-ideology-behind-drive-reopen-america; Jamie Martines And Tom Davidson, “Protesters in Pittsburgh demand Gov. Wolf to reopen businesses amid coronavirus pandemic,” TribLive, April 20, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/protesters-gather-in-pittsburgh-demanding-gov-wolf-reopen-businesses-amid-coronavirus-pandemic/; Laura Newberry, “The pandemic has amplified ageism. ‘It’s open season for discrimination’ against older adults,” Los Angeles Times, May 1, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-05-01/coronavirus-pandemic-has-amplified-ageism; William Wan, Carolyn Y. Johnson, and Joel Achenbach, “States rushing to reopen are likely making a deadly error, coronavirus models and experts warn,” Washington Post, April 22, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/04/22/reopening-america-states-coronavirus/
  4. [4]Alexander Bolton, “Schumer, Pelosi set to unveil ‘Rooseveltian’ relief package,” Hill, May 7, 2020, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/496565-schumer-pelosi-set-to-unveil-rooseveltian-relief-package

Even in a pandemic, cops are still, inexcusably, cops

Police

Even in a pandemic, cops are still, inexcusably, cops.

Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan, “Meet the African-American Doctor Who Tests the Homeless for COVID-19. He was Handcuffed by Miami Police,” Democracy Now, April 16, 2020, https://www.democracynow.org/2020/4/16/meet_the_african_american_doctor_who


Pandemic

The Telegraph is much too diplomatic with China and with Donald Trump. No one believed the earlier numbers from Wuhan; even if China is now being fully transparent, which I assume no one believes, the data issues[1] that plague other places also plague China.[2] And Trump’s “plan” has no force.[3]

When I caught a Lyft to retrieve my car yesterday, my driver and I were both speaking through masks. Probably neither of us understood the other well. But he was saying something about there not being “very many Chinese” someplace—I presume either the apartment complex where I live or near my mechanic—mostly whites and African-Americans (the latter term is the one he used; I avoid it because some Blacks, especially from the Caribbean, choose other ways of identifying themselves—it’s actually best to ask folks how they self-identify).

It’s a problem I haven’t thought about much. I have heard about bigotry against but haven’t really myself even considered blaming people of Chinese origin for the coronavirus in part because China is a huge country. There are an awful lot of people who weren’t anywhere near Wuhan, including some here in the U.S., and so had absolutely nothing to do with the particular wet markets that are generally blamed for providing this virus a bridge from non-human to human animals. And when it comes to non-human to human animal bridges, the Chinese are very, very far from alone.[4] This is by no means a vegan world and this is yet one more reason it needs to be.

But I’m guessing that such bigotry lies behind that driver’s choice of topic (which probably violates Lyft’s rules).

Natasha Lindstrom, “Gov. Wolf: No specific date for ending covid-19 shutdown, getting ‘back to life as we once knew it,’” TribLive, April 16, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/gov-wolf-no-specific-date-for-ending-covid-19-shutdown-getting-back-to-life-as-we-once-knew-it/

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/

Sophia Yan, “China adds nearly 1,300 coronavirus deaths to official Wuhan toll, blaming reporting delays,” Telegraph, April 17, 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/04/17/china-adds-nearly-1300-coronavirus-deaths-official-wuhan-toll/


  1. [1]David Benfell, “When ‘good’ news might not be so good,” Not Housebroken, April 2, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/02/when-good-news-might-not-be-so-good/; Emma Brown, Beth Reinhard, and Aaron C. Davis, “Coronavirus death toll: Americans are almost certainly dying of covid-19 but being left out of the official count,” Washington Post, April 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/coronavirus-death-toll-americans-are-almost-certainly-dying-of-covid-19-but-being-left-out-of-the-official-count/2020/04/05/71d67982-747e-11ea-87da-77a8136c1a6d_story.html; Jennifer Levitz, Mike Cherney, and Daniel Michaels, “U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Passes Italy, Becoming World’s Highest,” Wall Street Journal, April 11, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/health-officials-plead-for-public-to-observe-a-locked-down-easter-11586592822; Yascha Mounk, “This Is Just the Beginning,” Atlantic, March 25, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/national-shutdown-least-bad-option/608683/; Wall Street Journal, “Testing for Coronavirus: What We Know About Covid-19 Tests and Treatment,” April 14, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/who-has-covid-19-what-we-know-about-tests-for-the-new-coronavirus-11585868185
  2. [2]Sophia Yan, “China adds nearly 1,300 coronavirus deaths to official Wuhan toll, blaming reporting delays,” Telegraph, April 17, 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/04/17/china-adds-nearly-1300-coronavirus-deaths-official-wuhan-toll/
  3. [3]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/
  4. [4]Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel (New York: W. W. Norton, 1999).

Communication disruption now in progress

Housekeeping

IMG_20200316_181327
Fig. 1. The Pixel 4 XL finally arrived. Photograph by author, March 16, 2020.

After what has to be the worst FedEx Ground experience I’ve ever had—understand I don’t do this a whole lot—a somewhat battered box arrived today. Fortunately, the contents were undamaged, as expected, and I am charging the Pixel 4 XL before beginning the transfer from the Pixel 3 XL.

The AT&T and Verizon phone numbers have already been taken off of iMessages and the communication disruption originally planned for Friday should be presumed to have begun. Watch this space for further updates. As always, contact information is here.

Coronavirus

I’m seeing more of how coronavirus is impacting my business. The shutdowns mean a lot of my customers suddenly are out of work, not formally laid off, but not working either, and therefore not being paid.

Some economists say the increasing lockdown in the United States could lead to an even sharper contraction than during the Great Recession. “It’s not just a loss in activity. It’s a stop, full stop,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at accounting firm Grant Thornton.[1]

And it’s a “full stop” that hits the poor hardest. It’s not enough to talk about halting evictions[2] because the rent is still due and there’s no money to pay for it. And the poor still have to buy groceries and pay other bills.

So what we’re hearing about evictions[3] isn’t really about concern for the poor. It’s concern about even bigger homeless encampments, even more visible homeless that might disturb the people the powerful really care about.

Were it otherwise, we would be hearing more about replacing the lost income that we cannot make up.[4]

Don Lee and Laura King, “Fed slashes rate to near zero to counter coronavirus as Fauci warns ‘worst is yet ahead,’” Los Angeles Times, March 15, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-03-15/fed-slashes-rate-to-near-zero-eases-lending-rules


  1. [1]Don Lee and Laura King, “Fed slashes rate to near zero to counter coronavirus as Fauci warns ‘worst is yet ahead,’” Los Angeles Times, March 15, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-03-15/fed-slashes-rate-to-near-zero-eases-lending-rules
  2. [2]Hanna Kozlowska, “Coronavirus is revealing ugly truths about social structure in the US,” Quartz, March 14, 2020, https://qz.com/1818548/coronavirus-is-revealing-ugly-truths-about-social-structure-in-the-us/; Jenny Schuetz, “America’s inequitable housing system is completely unprepared for coronavirus,” Brookings, March 12, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2020/03/12/americas-inequitable-housing-system-is-completely-unprepared-for-coronavirus/;
  3. [3]Hanna Kozlowska, “Coronavirus is revealing ugly truths about social structure in the US,” Quartz, March 14, 2020, https://qz.com/1818548/coronavirus-is-revealing-ugly-truths-about-social-structure-in-the-us/; Jenny Schuetz, “America’s inequitable housing system is completely unprepared for coronavirus,” Brookings, March 12, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2020/03/12/americas-inequitable-housing-system-is-completely-unprepared-for-coronavirus/
  4. [4]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; 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/

Whose economy is the Federal Reserve protecting?

Coronavirus

I think I’m not quite clear on how it is of value to try to protect the U.S. economy from a recession, slashing interest rates,[1] at the same time you’re essentially shutting it down, telling everyone to stay home, shutting businesses, and telling people to “socially distance themselves.”[2] Perhaps I should be asking whose economy is the Federal Reserve propping up? Because it sure as hell isn’t the one I’m in.[3]

Jenny Schuetz, “America’s inequitable housing system is completely unprepared for coronavirus,” Brookings, March 12, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2020/03/12/americas-inequitable-housing-system-is-completely-unprepared-for-coronavirus/

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/

Associated Press, “U.S. moves nearer to shutdown amid coronavirus fears,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 15, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/world/u-s-moves-nearer-to-shutdown-amid-coronavirus-fears/

Hanna Kozlowska, “Coronavirus is revealing ugly truths about social structure in the US,” Quartz, March 14, 2020, https://qz.com/1818548/coronavirus-is-revealing-ugly-truths-about-social-structure-in-the-us/

Rebecca Davis O’Brien and Valerie Bauerlein, “How Coronavirus Remade American Life in One Weekend,” Wall Street Journal, March 15, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/coronavirus-remakes-american-life-in-a-weekend-11584293065

Kara Seymour, “Restaurants, Bars In 5 PA Counties Ordered Closed By Governor,” Patch, March 15, 2020, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/h1utv/restaurants-bars-in-5-pa-counties-ordered-closed-by-governor

Olivia Goldhill, “Coronavirus prevention is far more accessible for the rich,” Quartz, March 16, 2020, https://qz.com/1818862/coronavirus-prevention-is-far-more-accessible-for-the-rich/

Nick Miroff et al., “States begin imposing harsher measures to contain coronavirus as U.S. cases rise sharply,” Washington Post, March 16, 2020,
https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/states-begin-imposing-harsher-measures-to-contain-coronavirus-as-us-cases-rise-sharply/2020/03/15/267577a6-65b3-11ea-acca-80c22bbee96f_story.html

WTAE, “Allegheny County officials call on all nonessential businesses to close,” March 16, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/allegheny-county-calls-on-all-non-essential-businesses-to-close/31648999


  1. [1]Heather Long, “Federal Reserve slashes interest rates to zero as part of wide-ranging emergency intervention,” Washington Post, March 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/15/federal-reserve-slashes-interest-rates-zero-part-wide-ranging-emergency-intervention/
  2. [2]Associated Press, “U.S. moves nearer to shutdown amid coronavirus fears,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 15, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/world/u-s-moves-nearer-to-shutdown-amid-coronavirus-fears/; Bloomberg, “CDC says U.S. gatherings of over 50 people should not be held for eight weeks,” Los Angeles Times, March 15, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-03-15/cdc-us-gatherings-over-50-people-should-not-be-held-for-eight-weeks; Brent Kendall, Chad Day, and Alex Leary, “U.S. Officials Urge More Action to Combat Coronavirus,” Wall Street Journal, March 15, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/fauci-urges-americans-to-stay-home-amid-coronavirus-11584284229Nick Miroff et al., “States begin imposing harsher measures to contain coronavirus as U.S. cases rise sharply,” Washington Post, March 16, 2020,
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/states-begin-imposing-harsher-measures-to-contain-coronavirus-as-us-cases-rise-sharply/2020/03/15/267577a6-65b3-11ea-acca-80c22bbee96f_story.html; Rebecca Davis O’Brien and Valerie Bauerlein, “How Coronavirus Remade American Life in One Weekend,” Wall Street Journal, March 15, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/coronavirus-remakes-american-life-in-a-weekend-11584293065; Kara Seymour, “Restaurants, Bars In 5 PA Counties Ordered Closed By Governor,” Patch, March 15, 2020, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/h1utv/restaurants-bars-in-5-pa-counties-ordered-closed-by-governor; WTAE, “Allegheny County officials call on all nonessential businesses to close,” March 16, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/allegheny-county-calls-on-all-non-essential-businesses-to-close/31648999
  3. [3]Hanna Kozlowska, “Coronavirus is revealing ugly truths about social structure in the US,” Quartz, March 14, 2020, https://qz.com/1818548/coronavirus-is-revealing-ugly-truths-about-social-structure-in-the-us/; Jenny Schuetz, “America’s inequitable housing system is completely unprepared for coronavirus,” Brookings, March 12, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2020/03/12/americas-inequitable-housing-system-is-completely-unprepared-for-coronavirus/