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/

The ‘rigged’ horse race

The ‘rigged’ horse race

All I can say is I guess they’re right to worry. It seems that Max Boot participated in a transition integrity “war game”—I didn’t even know such things existed, but here we are—and has decided we should worry that Donald Trump might refuse to relinquish power should he lose the election.[1] I can’t say he’s wrong. I’ve been calling Trump a delusional raging narcissist for a while now. And certainly others before Boot have worried.[2]

At the same time, I think it will be a disaster, in different ways, perhaps, and not unlike the 2016 election, regardless of who wins. Because neoliberalism is that evil.

Max Boot, “What if Trump loses but insists he won?” Washington Post, July 6, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/06/what-if-trump-loses-insists-he-won/


Recession

It’s happening. It’s not like we didn’t know evictions would happen. Indeed, they already were[3] before this latest article.[4] But if you’re wondering why I think neoliberalism is so evil, well, here is merely one example, with big corporations evicting tenants even when their mortgages are backed by the federal government and their tenants are accordingly protected by a federal moratorium on evictions.[5]

And a judge’s response? “I am not familiar with that [the moratorium], but if someone will show me the law on that, I will certainly entertain that.”[6] And this is a judge who claims “[s]he is ‘very sympathetic when it comes to evictions,’ . . . but landlords can also be hurt in the process.”[7]

Spare me the bullshit. Just spare me.

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/


  1. [1]Max Boot, “What if Trump loses but insists he won?” Washington Post, July 6, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/06/what-if-trump-loses-insists-he-won/
  2. [2]Timothy E. Wirth and Tom Rogers, “How Trump Could Lose the Election—And Still Remain President,” Newsweek, July 3, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/how-trump-could-lose-election-still-remain-president-opinion-1513975
  3. [3]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; 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/
  4. [4]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/
  5. [5]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/
  6. [6]Yvonne Williams, quoted in 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/
  7. [7]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/

Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto steps on his own message, allows ‘Trump Boat Parade’ to proceed

Pandemic

I’m betting that participants will not in fact socially distance and will not in fact wear face masks. They will spread the novel coronavirus among each other and then to vulnerable people, who will require hospitalization. They will not be paying the costs of that hospitalization.

How can I be so confident? Mask-wearing has become politicized—Democrats, who are unlikely to participate in the Trump Boat Parade, wear masks much more frequently than Republicans, and men who object to wearing masks often do so because they perceive that their masculinity is threatened.[1]

I don’t want to fucking hear it. If you don’t wear a mask, you should be taken to a psychiatric hospital prison and left there as a psychopath, unfit ever for release into society again. Because at this point, you’re just making this shit up.

Priya Elan, “The data is in: men are too fragile to wear Covid-19 masks. Grow up, guys,” Guardian, July 3, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jul/03/covid-19-masks-men-masculinity


The United States

There is a new blog post, entitled, “Amerikkka.”

Robin Wright, “To the World, We’re Now America the Racist and Pitiful,” New Yorker, July 3, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/to-the-world-were-now-america-the-racist-and-pitiful


Racism


  1. [1]Priya Elan, “The data is in: men are too fragile to wear Covid-19 masks. Grow up, guys,” Guardian, July 3, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jul/03/covid-19-masks-men-masculinity

Recession, depression, my car has broken down

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

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

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


Donald Trump


History

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


Recession

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

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


Eviction can’t be the answer, but I guess it is

Recession

I previously noted that “[t]he self-righteousness and sense of entitlement is strong in these folks [landlords]”[1] and indeed they are evicting and harassing tenants by means both legal and illegal.[2]

Even if they can’t be evicted right now, if the courts are closed, the landlords are sending threatening emails, text messages, asking for rent, threatening to lock tenants out.[3]

They’re ruthless in the very ways I have heard so many times over the years that they are.

Nationwide, the coronavirus housing catastrophe is just beginning to pick up momentum. The true eviction cliff could come in August, after the federal $600-per-week boost to unemployment benefits ends. Those benefits are helping tens of millions of households keep up with the rent. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already pledged not to renew these benefits.[4]

Eviction can’t be the answer, but I guess it is, even as housing really already wasn’t affordable for low income folks anywhere in the country,[5] making the burden of catching upon missed rent payments likely insurmountable.

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


Pacific Gas and Electric

After each name was read, the chief executive of PG&E Corp. solemnly answered: “Guilty, your honor.”

PG&E admitted its guilt Tuesday in Butte County Superior Court in connection with the Camp Fire, the second time in three years the state’s largest utility has been convicted of a felony.[6]

Pacific Gas and Electric pled guilty to “a count of felony involuntary manslaughter for each of the 84 victims and a single count of unlawfully starting a fire, for a total of 85 counts.”[7] The corporation is a repeat felony offender, but it seems very unlikely anyone is going to prison and it seems highly likely the company will be allowed to continue operating.

I had thought the consequences of a felony conviction were supposed to be rather more serious.

Dale Kasler, “PG&E pleads guilty to manslaughter charges for Camp Fire, deadliest in California history,” Sacramento Bee, June 16, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article243571597.html


Housekeeping

So as I have begun to look seriously at housing options (because I think I may need to move next year), I’m seeing a situation around Pittsburgh and, for that matter, pretty much all around the country, in which there are four options:

  1. Affordable housing in desperately poor and likely dangerous neighborhoods. These are likely slums. I’m already unhappy with my present landlord on maintenance issues and these are neighborhoods I don’t even want to drive through at night (they’re fine during the day), let alone sleep in.
  2. Affordable housing in not so poor but white supremacist neighborhoods. This is pretty much the situation I’m in now. It’s quiet and I can sleep at night. Usually, the maintenance is pretty good (just not on a couple issues lately). But I hate seeing the guns. I hate seeing the Confederate flags. I hate seeing all the camouflage paint schemes. I hate seeing the “Blue Lives Matter” flags and signs expressing support for local police.
  3. Unaffordable housing in wealthier, better educated, and often gentrified neighborhoods. Here I find people with whom I can have intelligent conversations. But I can’t afford the rent.
  4. Unaffordable housing in fabulously wealthy neighborhoods, sometimes with fabulous views. Obviously not an option.

The other thing I’m increasingly sensing is that in Pittsburgh, renting generally marks one as poor: Houses can be bought for $300,000, so if you rent, you are either renting a very expensive apartment or you are poor. This bothers me because I am well aware that being poor marks one as a target for the police and I in fact go to great lengths to limit the appearance of being poor (the Uber and Lyft stickers on my car do not help).

I haven’t actually had any trouble with the police here but let’s just say it’s a sensitive point for me.


  1. [1]David Benfell, “When nothing happened next,” Not Housebroken, March 29, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/03/29/when-nothing-happened-next/
  2. [2]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
  3. [3]Rachel Garland, quoted in 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
  4. [4]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/
  5. [5]National Low Income Housing Coalition, “Out Of Reach 2019,” 2020, https://reports.nlihc.org/oor
  6. [6]Dale Kasler, “PG&E pleads guilty to manslaughter charges for Camp Fire, deadliest in California history,” Sacramento Bee, June 16, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article243571597.html
  7. [7]Dale Kasler, “PG&E pleads guilty to manslaughter charges for Camp Fire, deadliest in California history,” Sacramento Bee, June 16, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article243571597.html

This ‘lesser of two evils’ thing just ain’t working like it used to

Updates

  1. Originally published, June 14, 10:00 pm.
  2. June 15, 7:16 am:
    • Even my loyal readers hadn’t read my most recent blog post and I realized the argument could be made stronger. I have revised it and changed the publication date. This affects the URL. It has been updated here.
  3. June 15, 9:50 am:
    • There has been yet another police shooting of yet another Black man.[1] That blog post has been revised further.

Horse race

It would seem that some folks just aren’t buying into the whole concept of “lesser of two evils” anymore.[2] That’s probably a bigger problem for Democrats than it is Republicans. They were warned. I warned them[3] but they were also warned by a whole bunch of people besides me all this year.

But of course, that assumes the Democrats even want to win. Which, to me, isn’t at all clear.[4]

Cleve R. Wootson, Jr., “New generation of activists, deeply skeptical of Democratic Party, resists calls to channel energy into the 2020 campaign,” Washington Post, June 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/new-generation-of-activists-deeply-skeptical-of-democratic-party-resists-calls-to-channel-energy-into-the-2020-campaign/2020/06/13/cbacede6-ac47-11ea-9063-e69bd6520940_story.html


Police

There is a new blog post entitled, “Defunding the police is, at best, a baby’s first step.”

Amanda Arnold, “What Exactly Does It Mean to Defund the Police?” Cut, June 12, 2020, https://www.thecut.com/2020/06/what-does-defund-the-police-mean-the-phrase-explained.html

Theresa Waldrop et al., “Autopsy report says Rayshard Brooks was shot twice in the back, lists manner of death as homicide,” CNN, June 14, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/14/us/atlanta-protests-rayshard-brooks-sunday/index.html

Felicia Sonmez et al., “Killing of black man in Atlanta puts spotlight anew on police, as prosecutors contemplate charges against officer,” Washington Post, June 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/killing-of-black-man-in-atlanta-puts-spotlight-anew-on-police-as-prosecutors-contemplate-charges-against-officer/2020/06/14/ad9cea20-ae60-11ea-856d-5054296735e5_story.html


Recession

Olivia Rockeman and Jill Ward, “Millions of Job Losses Are at Risk of Becoming Permanent,” Bloomberg, June 14, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-06-14/millions-of-jobs-could-be-permanently-lost-in-reallocation-shock


  1. [1]Felicia Sonmez et al., “Killing of black man in Atlanta puts spotlight anew on police, as prosecutors contemplate charges against officer,” Washington Post, June 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/killing-of-black-man-in-atlanta-puts-spotlight-anew-on-police-as-prosecutors-contemplate-charges-against-officer/2020/06/14/ad9cea20-ae60-11ea-856d-5054296735e5_story.html; Theresa Waldrop et al., “Autopsy report says Rayshard Brooks was shot twice in the back, lists manner of death as homicide,” CNN, June 14, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/14/us/atlanta-protests-rayshard-brooks-sunday/index.html
  2. [2]Cleve R. Wootson, Jr., “New generation of activists, deeply skeptical of Democratic Party, resists calls to channel energy into the 2020 campaign,” Washington Post, June 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/new-generation-of-activists-deeply-skeptical-of-democratic-party-resists-calls-to-channel-energy-into-the-2020-campaign/2020/06/13/cbacede6-ac47-11ea-9063-e69bd6520940_story.html
  3. [3]David Benfell, “A false dichotomy view of politics,” Not Housebroken, November 2, 2016, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/05/15/the-lesser-of-two-evils-the-more-successful-con-artist/; David Benfell, “The lesser of two evils? The more successful con artist,” Not Housebroken, May 15, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/05/15/the-lesser-of-two-evils-the-more-successful-con-artist/; David Benfell, “How the neoliberal (usually known as Democratic) party may well lose in 2020,” Not Housebroken, December 7, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/07/how-the-neoliberal-usually-known-as-democratic-party-may-well-lose-in-2020/
  4. [4]David Benfell, “The limits of game theory in U.S. politics,” Not Housebroken, December 20, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/20/the-limits-of-game-theory-in-u-s-politics/

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/

Raze and replace

Pittsburgh

It’s not like I’m even remotely surprised but this is the first I’ve heard of the U.S. Steel Edgar Thomson plant in Braddock and North Braddock being a problem.[1] The one I’ve been hearing about pretty much since I got here is the Clairton Coke Works, also a U.S. Steel plant.[2] I’ve said this before, but they’re both absolutely disgraceful plants that should be shut down, razed, and replaced with something that would actually benefit local residents.

Kristina Marusic, “Environmental injustice in Pittsburgh: Poor, minority neighborhoods see higher rates of deaths from air pollution,” Environmental Health News, June 12, 2020, https://www.ehn.org/environmental-injustice-pittsburgh-air-pollution-2646169635.html


Pandemic

I see the story of the Pennsylvania General Assembly passing a resolution to end the COVID-19 emergency declaration that would not even accomplish the ends its advocates claim[3] and I think of that restaurant in North Strabane, the one run by a Jewish family—none of whom are wearing masks—in which the father threatened to reopen for dine-in service while Washington County was still in yellow phase, a restaurant which I feel I can no longer ethically patronize.

Clearly this action was meant to appeal to that father and people like him. But to me, the one thing the legislature seems not to be debating is health or lives lost. As I’ve repeatedly noted, the capitalist god is claiming its human sacrifices.[4]

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


  1. [1]Kristina Marusic, “Environmental injustice in Pittsburgh: Poor, minority neighborhoods see higher rates of deaths from air pollution,” Environmental Health News, June 12, 2020, https://www.ehn.org/environmental-injustice-pittsburgh-air-pollution-2646169635.html
  2. [2]Jessi Quinn Alperin, “Clairton, PA, wants to be clear: Residents demand accountability from U.S. Steel,” Environmental Health News, May 13, 2019,
    https://www.ehn.org/clairton-coke-works-air-pollution-2636784943.html; Ollie Gratzinger, “Allegheny County issues another fine to US Steel for air pollution violation,” Pittsburgh City Paper, January 17, 2020, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/allegheny-county-issues-another-fine-to-us-steel-for-air-pollution-violation/Content?oid=16576925; KDKA, “Allegheny Co. Health Department Joins Federal Suit Against U.S. Steel,” June 18, 2019, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2019/06/18/allegheny-county-health-department-suit-against-us-steel/; Hannah Lynn, “Report: Pittsburgh ranked 8th worst for air pollution among US cities,” Pittsburgh City Paper, April 22, 2020, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/report-pittsburgh-ranked-8th-worst-for-air-pollution-among-us-cities/Content?oid=17179037; Jamie Martines, “U.S. Steel facing a 2nd federal lawsuit tied to December fire at Clairton Plant,” TribLive, August 26, 2019, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/u-s-steel-facing-a-2nd-federal-lawsuit-tied-to-december-fire-at-clairton-plant/; Jamie Martines, “Settlement over bad air in Clairton calls for U.S. Steel to cough up $2 million,” TribLive, December 11, 2019, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/settlement-over-bad-air-in-clairton-calls-for-u-s-steel-to-cough-up-2-million/; Jamie Martines, “U.S. Steel to hold info sessions about Clairton, Braddock plant upgrades,” TribLive, January 27, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/u-s-steel-to-hold-info-sessions-about-clairton-braddock-plant-upgrades/; Jamie Martines, “U.S. Steel, Allegheny County finalize Clairton Coke Works emissions settlement,” TribLive, February 10, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/u-s-steel-and-allegheny-county-finalize-clairton-coke-works-emissions-settlement/; Andy Sheehan, “Air Quality In Mon Valley Once Again Hits Unhealthy Levels,” KDKA, February 24, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/02/24/mon-valley-air-quality-unhealthy-levels/; Teghan Simonton, “Health department: Air pollution in Mon Valley exceeded federal levels over Christmas,” TribLive, December 27, 2019, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/health-department-air-pollution-in-mon-valley-exceeded-federal-levels-over-christmas/; WTAE, “U.S. Steel, health department have deal to settle 2018 air pollution violations at Clairton Coke Works,” June 28, 2019, https://www.wtae.com/article/us-steel-reaches-agreement-with-health-department-to-resolve-enforcement-orders-at-clairton-coke-works/28221648; WTAE, “Allegheny Co. Health Department announces fines against U.S. Steel for violations at Clairton Coke Works,” May 28, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/allegheny-co-health-department-announces-fines-against-us-steel-for-violations-at-clairton-coke-works/32702736
  3. [3]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
  4. [4]David Benfell, “The capitalist death cult,” Not Housebroken, March 27, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/03/27/the-capitalist-death-cult/; David Benfell, “An impatient capitalist god demands human sacrifice. Now,” Not Housebroken, April 17, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/15/an-impatient-capitalist-god-demands-human-sacrifice-now/

Yes, it is possible to be safe without the police, at least in some places for a limited time

I’m going ahead and publishing this now. The weather has gotten interesting north of here—apparently a tornado near Beaver Falls—and a severe thunderstorm warning has been posted for at least very close to my area.


George Floyd

With so many examples of how humanity is not ready for anarchism, it’s quite a surprise to read an account of how a community protected itself without the police and without replicating the problems of the police.[1] I don’t know how sustainable this is or how widely applicable, but it’s quite a story and certainly worth looking at.

Meanwhile Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor looks more broadly, both historically and topically, at the issues the U.S. needs to address[2]—and of course, won’t. I had not seen her article when I tweeted my response to Chuck Wendig above, but I think we’re on the same page.

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, “How Do We Change America?” New Yorker, June 8, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/how-do-we-change-america

Hahrie Han, “What Happened When the Minneapolis Police Lost Legitimacy?” New York Times, June 10, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/10/opinion/floyd-minneapolis-police-protests.html


  1. [1]Hahrie Han, “What Happened When the Minneapolis Police Lost Legitimacy?” New York Times, June 10, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/10/opinion/floyd-minneapolis-police-protests.html
  2. [2]Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, “How Do We Change America?” New Yorker, June 8, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/how-do-we-change-america