Are Trumpsters tiring of the flak? (Update #11)

Updates

  1. Originally published, February 28, 2021, 5:15 am.

  2. February 28, 2021, 11:32 am:

    • I guess the question for me is, just how representative of the larger party are Pennsylvania Republicans? Right now, my sense is that they pretty much are, as they consider censuring Pat Toomey, a U.S. Senator who broke with most other Republicans to support Donald Trump’s impeachment. The vote to censure Toomey was put on hold due to technical problems, but if I’m reading between the lines correctly—and certainly my sense of the state as a whole would indicate as much—the motion will surely pass.[1]

  3. March 1, 2021, 10:44 pm:

    • So if I understand correctly, neo-Nazis designed the Conservative Political Action Conference stage in the form of a symbol used on Gestapo uniforms, then called recognition of the design as such a “conspiracy theory.”[2]

      Has anyone else noticed the shape of the CPAC stage is the Odal Rune/SS insignia? pic.twitter.com/TCns4B1tq8

      — The Daily Beans Podcast (@dailybeanspod) February 26, 2021

      Now, is that rich or is that rich? I’d call this, at the very minimum, a public relations problem, and the Hyatt Hotel that hosted the conference quickly denounced the use of the symbol,[3] suggesting that they recognize a public relations problem.

      But Matt Schlapp, chair of the American Conservative Union, which runs CPAC, called the idea that the stage was purposely shaped like the Odal rune a “conspiracy theory.”

      “Stage design conspiracies are outrageous and slanderous,” he tweeted Saturday.[4]

      So what were all those Nazi symbols doing at the U.S. Capitol coup attempt then?[5] You know, the ones being carried by all those ‘patriots’ determined to ‘save’ the country?

  4. March 2, 2021, 12:20 am:

    • I’ve been distressed by my job prospects not only for what really are pretty obvious reasons, but because I perceive that I am destroying perfectly good cars.

      It turns out I am also destroying perfectly good cell phones. I’ve noticed a number of behaviors lately with my Pixel 4 XL, but especially aggravating was a sound problem that made music playing on my car’s sound system sound like a boom box from hell. I trying to compensate way more with the equalizer than I feel I should, those adjustments still weren’t enough, and it was ruining the experience.

      Of course, the trouble with something like this is you don’t know if it’s the phone, media players on the phone, or the car’s sound system.

      So I tried a different media player: Same result.

      I dredged out my old Pixel 3 XL that was actually a warranty replacement that I hadn’t ever actually used (it doesn’t support dual SIM-dual standby [DSDS]) and tried it. Strikingly different result: The sound is less rich but also, there’s none of that horrid booming.

      Which means that it isn’t the car’s sound system that’s misbehaving, but my Pixel 4 XL. Yeah, I’ve got a new phone, a Pixel 5, on order. It’s really a bad time of year for this sort of thing, but the Pixel 5 is relatively inexpensive, and I’ll get relatively high trade-in value for the Pixel 4 XL. And I have a Google Store credit card which I really can’t use for much else.

      The Pixel 5 supports 5G but this won’t do me any good because it doesn’t simultaneously support 5G and DSDS.

      Driving for Uber and Lyft is proving to be a really expensive way to not make a living.

  5. March 2, 2021, 10:31 pm:

    • The White House has withdrawn[6] Neera Tanden’s long-troubled—seriously, if you weren’t a neoliberal, you likely hated her—nomination to chair the Office of Management and Budget.[7]

  6. March 3, 2021, 10:41 am:

    • I’m thinking I might be replacing my Pixel 4 XL not a minute too soon. I’ve put the Pixel 3 XL back in the drawer but I noticed some notifications appeared much more promptly on it, with a difference measured in hours. My delivery tracking app on the Pixel 4 XL is now not working, which might be an app failure, or might be a phone failure.

      I found a relatively detailed comparison of the Pixel 4 XL to a Pixel 5. As I thought, it’s not really an upgrade; I win some ways and lose in others with the new phone. Crucial details include a lower grade processor and a smaller display on the Pixel 5. It has longer battery life,[8] but this isn’t really a factor for me because the phone is plugged in the entire time it’s connected with Android Auto. I had really hoped to hold on for the Pixel 6 and this is the problem: The last few phone upgrades have been decisions that have been forced upon me by various failures, ranging from swollen batteries to klutzy—and for me, dangerous—user interfaces (this was the iPhone) to what I’m seeing with the Pixel 4 XL. It’s bad enough to be making next to nothing. But between the car and my phone, my expenses are out of control.

      The Pixel 5 should arrive today.

      I’m trying to take steps to reduce the load on my phone, but this entails yet more expense as I’m adding a WiFi hotspot to the car, which I’m also making available to my passengers, hopefully to improve their satisfaction with my service and mitigate their complaints about my music. More speculatively, I’ll also be experimenting with a dongle substitute for Android Auto when it arrives. The theory really is that if I’m not working the phone so hard, perhaps it will last a bit longer.

      But the question still really is, why can’t I have a real job?

    • There are a couple stories that, if I weren’t already posting an update, I wouldn’t bother mentioning because there really isn’t anything new. They’re significant in that they flesh out what was already known:

      • Questions remain about Uber’s business model.[9] Gee. Ya think?

      • Apparently a membership list of the Three Percenters, a militia group, leaked. Utterly unsurprisingly, it includes military and police.[10]

    • I’ve archived these stories, but really, there’s absolutely nothing surprising about either of them.

  7. March 3, 2021, 9:25 pm:

    • The Pixel 5 arrived and I’ve been spending most of the late afternoon and evening setting it up. That includes moving the numbers from the old phone to the new phone. With Verizon, it’s a pretty simple matter to simply pull the subscriber identity module (SIM) card from one device and stick it in the other. AT&T, for which I have to use an electronic SIM (e-SIM), is another matter.

      My mother will tell you she won’t deal with AT&T because of their customer service. My luck had been pretty good and their cellular coverage really is, by far, the best in terms of area. That’s important when you spend as much time on the road as I do.

      But today was my day to have my mom’s experience with AT&T’s customer service. My god. It was unbelievably awful. They’re really hopeless. I might write about it, but definitely not tonight. And maybe not ever because this was not an experience worth reliving.

      I am no longer an AT&T customer. I ported the number over to Google Fi. Also I now use the Verizon number with Signal instead of what was the AT&T number. See my revised contact information.

  8. March 4, 2021, 1:28 pm:

    • Even as Texas and Mississippi eliminate COVID-19 mitigation measures, and some other states relax those measures, the danger of a fourth wave of COVID-19, just as more contagious, vaccine-resistant, and, potentially, more dangerous variants appear, is unabated.[11]

    • So I did, after all, tell the story of my horrid AT&T experience (see the update for March 3, 2021, at 9:25 pm) in a new blog post entitled, “On the alleged ‘efficiency’ of capitalism.”

    • I am now scheduled to receive the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine tomorrow. It might be the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. I qualify because I am clinically (not morbidly) obese. That I am a so-called “essential worker” facing daily exposure to passengers who don’t all wear their masks correctly has nothing to do with it.

  9. March 4, 2021, 10:33 pm:

    • Louis DeJoy is still postmaster-general, still doing damage. And Joe Biden is, at best, dithering.[12]

  10. March 5, 2021, 11:08 am:

    • I guess the answer to the question in the headline for this post is a pretty clear and pretty loud “NO!” Governors rolling back COVID-19 mitigation measures are doing so in response to political pressure, largely from Trumpsters still in denial of the severity of the disease.[13] It’s an obviously dangerous move as it will likely prolong the pandemic and multiply the opportunities for new variants to arise, some of which may be more dangerous, and some of which are already more resistant to vaccines.[14] I get my first shot today. I hope it isn’t in vain.

  11. March 6, 2021, 8:55 am:

    • I got the first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine yesterday. It was the Pfizer vaccine and I go back in three weeks for the second shot.

      The scene was of long lines that moved surprisingly quickly. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) really, really did have its act together, which was nice to see on a cold day as the line stretched outdoors. It was an assembly line operation, but matching my experience with doctors in Pittsburgh generally, it didn’t seem the least bit dehumanizing. They had people at all the right places to make sure I didn’t get lost. There was no duplicated effort. Everybody was friendly.

      I’m pretty clear at this point that my mother won’t move to Pittsburgh, but the difference between my California experience with medical practice and my Pittsburgh experience is vast. On that score, I really do believe she really would be better off here.

      In my case, the side effects have been modest, mostly a bit of achiness and a bit of numbness, the latter a bit like my arm had, colloquially, “gone to sleep.” It’s really just barely enough that I think it wasn’t psychosomatic. This morning, the pain is mostly gone.

    • One thing I learned is that your face mask is supposed to cover your nose all the way up to the bridge and down below your chin. It happens the mask that came up in my rotation today is the second one my mother made for me; it’s the one that covers the most area, so I wasn’t subject to admonishment. But I don’t think all of my masks quite meet that standard. And of course, I’ll have to continue wearing masks even once I’ve received the second shot.

    • One reason, as I mentioned earlier (see March 5, 11:08 am), to worry about the pandemic, even as vaccines become more widely available, is that some politicians are relaxing restrictions even as new, more contagious, and potentially more dangerous variants of the coronavirus begin to appear.[15] This is an asshole move. Another problem is with vaccine resistance: An awful lot of people intend to refuse vaccination.[16] I think I’ve previously said that the coronavirus is illustrating how humans will go extinct. Between this and refusing to wear masks, I think we’re seeing that ever more vividly.

      The Kaiser Family Foundation has been polling public opinion on [vaccine resistance] regularly, and as of February 26th the foundation found that fifty-five per cent of American adults had already taken the vaccine or wanted it as soon as possible; the rest were about evenly divided between those who say that they will definitely not get a shot and those who plan to “wait and see.” Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said that close to ninety per cent of the country may need to be vaccinated to snuff out the disease, which means tens of millions of people still need to be convinced.[17]

      Given the politicization of the disease and everything associated with it, it will be absolutely astonishing if we get anywhere close to that 90 percent vaccination rate. But the surprising bit is that the problem isn’t just with Trumpsters and misinformation.[18]


Elon Musk

Elon Musk’s bizarre fixation on colonizing Mars continues,[19] as does the criticism.[20] Really, he’s just another entitled rich man.[21]

Shannon Stirone, “Mars Is a Hellhole,” Atlantic, February 26, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/02/mars-is-no-earth/618133/


Donald Trump

At the Times (of London), Sarah Baxter thinks Donald Trump’s moment may have passed, even as Trumpsters go wild at the Conservative Political Action Conference. She has bad news for his offspring as well.[22]


Fig. 1. Reproduction of poster, via Relational Implicit, “Understanding social myth: Why it’s so hard to find common ground & how to do it,” September 2020, fair use.

I still see a few Trump campaign banners, even the occasional flag, around southwestern Pennsylvania. And that image of Trump’s fat head of grievance—Trumpsters apparently interpret his expression as that of determination and toughness—grafted on Sylvester Stallone’s body, portraying him as Rambo (figure 1), sears my memory. It’s not like these folks would vote against him or his kin. But Baxter thinks it’s that Trump lost control of the White House and the Senate and that even Trumpsters are tiring of the flak.[23]

Sarah Baxter, “Bad news for Donald Trump Jr: the right is fast tiring of Trumps,” Times, February 28, 2021, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/bad-news-for-donald-trump-jr-the-right-is-fast-tiring-of-trumps-msm9phdcz

Deb Erdley, “Toomey censure remains on hold with Pennsylvania Republicans,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 27, 2021, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/toomey-censure-remains-on-hold-with-pennsylvania-republicans/


Gig economy

Matthew Beedham, “Uber: Is this the beginning of the end for the ride-hailing Goliath?” Next Web, March 2, 2021, https://thenextweb.com/shift/2021/03/02/uber-is-this-the-beginning-of-the-end-for-the-ride-hailing-goliath/


Pandemic

Sam Baker, “The danger of a fourth wave,” Axios, March 4, 2021, https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-variants-vaccines-cases-texas-60d39747-de46-4bb7-bf51-e241c495953a.html

Isaac Stanley-Becker, “GOP governors scorn pandemic restrictions as they compete for primacy in a pro-Trump party,” Washington Post, March 5, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/texas-mask-mandate-abbott/2021/03/04/ceec92bc-7d12-11eb-b3d1-9e5aa3d5220c_story.html

Benjamin Wallace-Wells, “The Vaccine Resisters,” New Yorker, March 5, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/annals-of-populism/the-vaccine-resisters


Postal Service

Casey Taylor, “Louis DeJoy Is Killing It,” New York, March 4, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/03/louis-dejoy-is-killing-it.html


  1. [1]Deb Erdley, “Toomey censure remains on hold with Pennsylvania Republicans,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 27, 2021, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/toomey-censure-remains-on-hold-with-pennsylvania-republicans/
  2. [2]Ben Sales, “CPAC denies its stage was a Nazi symbol, as host hotel calls the symbol ‘abhorrent,’” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, https://www.jta.org/quick-reads/cpac-denies-its-stage-was-a-nazi-symbol-as-host-hotel-calls-the-symbol-abhorrent
  3. [3]Ben Sales, “CPAC denies its stage was a Nazi symbol, as host hotel calls the symbol ‘abhorrent,’” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, https://www.jta.org/quick-reads/cpac-denies-its-stage-was-a-nazi-symbol-as-host-hotel-calls-the-symbol-abhorrent
  4. [4]Ben Sales, “CPAC denies its stage was a Nazi symbol, as host hotel calls the symbol ‘abhorrent,’” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, https://www.jta.org/quick-reads/cpac-denies-its-stage-was-a-nazi-symbol-as-host-hotel-calls-the-symbol-abhorrent
  5. [5]Laura E. Adkins and Emily Burack, “Neo-Nazis, QAnon and Camp Auschwitz: A guide to the hate symbols and signs on display at the Capitol riots,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 7, 2021, https://www.jta.org/2021/01/07/united-states/hate-on-display-your-guide-to-the-symbols-and-signs-on-display-at-the-stop-the-count-insurrection; Anne Quito and Amanda Shendruk, “Decoding the flags and banners seen at the Capitol Hill insurrection,” Quartz, January 7, 2021, https://qz.com/1953366/decoding-the-pro-trump-insurrectionist-flags-and-banners/
  6. [6]Felicia Sonmez et al., “White House withdraws Tanden nomination; Biden says U.S. will have enough vaccine doses for every adult by end of May,” Washington Post, March 2, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/03/02/joe-biden-live-updates/
  7. [7]Jake Johnson, “Progressives Spurn Tanden’s Nomination to Office of Management and Budget,” Truthout, November 30, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/progressives-spurn-tandens-nomination-to-office-of-management-and-budget/; Marianne Levine and Burgess Everett, “Collins and Romney to oppose Tanden for OMB, further jeopardizing her nomination,” Politico, February 22, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/22/collins-oppose-tanden-jeopardize-nomination-470801; Holly Otterbein, “Bernieworld seethes over Tanden as OMB nominee,” Politico, November 30, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/30/bernie-supporters-seethes-neera-tanden-441603; Tyler Pager, “The jockeying to replace Neera Tanden has begun,” Politico, February 20, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/20/neera-tanden-omb-replacement-470424; Jeff Stein, Annie Linskey, and Seung Min Kim, “Biden’s pick to lead White House budget office emerges as lightning rod for GOP,” Washington Post, November 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2020/11/30/biden-omb-neera-tanden/
  8. [8]Simon Chandler, “Google Pixel 5 vs. Pixel 4 XL: Should you upgrade?” Digital Trends, October 27, 2021, https://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/google-pixel-5-vs-pixel-4-xl/
  9. [9]Matthew Beedham, “Uber: Is this the beginning of the end for the ride-hailing Goliath?” Next Web, March 2, 2021, https://thenextweb.com/shift/2021/03/02/uber-is-this-the-beginning-of-the-end-for-the-ride-hailing-goliath/
  10. [10]Jason Wilson, “US militia group draws members from military and police, website leak shows,” Guardian, March 3, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/mar/03/us-militia-membership-military-police-american-patriot-three-percenter-website-leak
  11. [11]Sam Baker, “The danger of a fourth wave,” Axios, March 4, 2021, https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-variants-vaccines-cases-texas-60d39747-de46-4bb7-bf51-e241c495953a.html; Melissa Healy, “California’s coronavirus strain looks increasingly dangerous: ‘The devil is already here,’” Los Angeles Times, February 23, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2021-02-23/california-homegrown-coronavirus-strain-looks-increasingly-transmissible-and-dangerous
  12. [12]Casey Taylor, “Louis DeJoy Is Killing It,” New York, March 4, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/03/louis-dejoy-is-killing-it.html
  13. [13]Isaac Stanley-Becker, “GOP governors scorn pandemic restrictions as they compete for primacy in a pro-Trump party,” Washington Post, March 5, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/texas-mask-mandate-abbott/2021/03/04/ceec92bc-7d12-11eb-b3d1-9e5aa3d5220c_story.html
  14. [14]Sam Baker, “The danger of a fourth wave,” Axios, March 4, 2021, https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-variants-vaccines-cases-texas-60d39747-de46-4bb7-bf51-e241c495953a.html; Melissa Healy, “California’s coronavirus strain looks increasingly dangerous: ‘The devil is already here,’” Los Angeles Times, February 23, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2021-02-23/california-homegrown-coronavirus-strain-looks-increasingly-transmissible-and-dangerous
  15. [15]Isaac Stanley-Becker, “GOP governors scorn pandemic restrictions as they compete for primacy in a pro-Trump party,” Washington Post, March 5, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/texas-mask-mandate-abbott/2021/03/04/ceec92bc-7d12-11eb-b3d1-9e5aa3d5220c_story.html
  16. [16]Benjamin Wallace-Wells, “The Vaccine Resisters,” New Yorker, March 5, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/annals-of-populism/the-vaccine-resisters
  17. [17]Benjamin Wallace-Wells, “The Vaccine Resisters,” New Yorker, March 5, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/annals-of-populism/the-vaccine-resisters
  18. [18]Benjamin Wallace-Wells, “The Vaccine Resisters,” New Yorker, March 5, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/annals-of-populism/the-vaccine-resisters
  19. [19]Tristan Greene, “Here’s the stupid reason Elon Musk wants to nuke Mars,” Next Web, August 16, 2019, https://thenextweb.com/distract/2019/08/16/heres-the-stupid-reason-elon-musk-wants-to-nuke-mars/; Rafi Letzter, “Why NASA’s Annoyed About Elon Musk’s Giant Rocket,” Live Science, October 5, 2019, https://www.livescience.com/starship-crew-dragon-spacex-nasa-bridenstine.html
  20. [20]Samantha Rolfe, “Elon Musk’s Starship may be more moral catastrophe than bold step in space exploration,” Science X, October 2, 2019, https://phys.org/news/2019-10-elon-musk-starship-moral-catastrophe.html; Shannon Stirone, “Mars Is a Hellhole,” Atlantic, February 26, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/02/mars-is-no-earth/618133/
  21. [21]David Benfell, “Elon Musk, groan, again,” Not Housebroken, April 4, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/03/22/elon-musk-groan-again/
  22. [22]Sarah Baxter, “Bad news for Donald Trump Jr: the right is fast tiring of Trumps,” Times, February 28, 2021, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/bad-news-for-donald-trump-jr-the-right-is-fast-tiring-of-trumps-msm9phdcz
  23. [23]Sarah Baxter, “Bad news for Donald Trump Jr: the right is fast tiring of Trumps,” Times, February 28, 2021, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/bad-news-for-donald-trump-jr-the-right-is-fast-tiring-of-trumps-msm9phdcz

Donald Trump’s last stand? Maybe not (Update #13)

Updates

  1. Originally published, January 6, 2021, 1:04 pm.
  2. January 6, 2021, 10:12 pm:
    • Unsurprisingly, there was violence as Trumpsters stormed the U.S. Capitol while Congress met to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the November election. At this writing, the Capitol building has been cleared of rioters and Congress is back in session.[1] Talia Lavin’s analysis[2] is especially worth reading.
    • More surprisingly, the Democrats captured both of Georgia’s U.S. Senate seats in a runoff election. The Wall Street Journal points to people moving to the state but Donald Trump’s loud refusal to accept his defeat in the November election is splitting the Republican Party.[3]
  3. January 6, 2021, 10:46 pm:
    • The riot in the Capitol may have dulled the appetite for objecting to the electoral college count, as an objection to the Arizona slate was defeated in the Senate by a vote of 93-6 and some senators say they do not expect further challenges.[4] With Donald Trump continuing to dispute the election results,[5] it seems unlikely this is over.
  4. January 6, 2021, 11:42 pm:
    • I’m headed to bed, but:
  5. January 7, 2021, 5:53 am:
    • A lot of folks think this is long overdue, but “Facebook, which owns Instagram, declared an ‘emergency situation’ and removed Mr Trump’s ability to post on both of its services, while Twitter revoked his special protections as an elected world leader and said it would ban him if he broke its rules again.”[6]
    • Oh yeah, Congress certified Joe Biden’s victory.[7]
    • And, damn, after throwing this temper tantrum, the delusional raging narcissist-in-chief has assented to an “orderly transfer of power.”[8] Some might say that horse has already left the barn.[9]
  6. January 7, 2021, 1:35 pm:
    • The Washington Post is back to actually writing stories again—as opposed to this “live update” crap—and now has a separate story of the violence at the Capitol yesterday. Donald Trump incited the riot; four are dead, including a Trump supporter shot by police.[10]

      “This is what we see in failing countries,” [Representative Abigail Spanberger, a former Central Intelligence Agency case officer] said. “This is what leads to a death of democracy.”[11]

      Donald Trump praised the protesters as he told them to go home.[12] Mitt Romney[13] and National Public Radio,[14] among others, labeled the riot an “insurrection.”

    • There is a new blog post entitled, “The danger that remains.” This post incorporates and modestly refines text that was originally in this post.
    • Facebook (with Instagram) has banned Donald Trump “indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.”[15] “Critics also noted that the moves by tech companies appeared politically expedient, coming as Democrats take full control of Congress and Trump prepares to depart the White House in 13 days.”[16]
  7. January 7, 2021, 10:33 pm:
    • The Department of Justice—lest we forget, a part of the executive branch—is investigating yesterday’s (January 6) riot and may well press charges, even against the delusional raging narcissist-in-chief who incited it all.[17]
    • A bankruptcy judge ruled that no, the Crack’d Egg in Brentwood cannot use bankruptcy proceedings to evade Allegheny County’s suit for failing to abide by COVID-19 restrictions.[18]
  8. January 8, 2021, 10:34 am:
    • Folks are noticing a discrepancy between the U.S. Capitol Police response to white supremacists and other mostly white Trumpsters overrunning the U.S. Capitol and the often much more aggressive police response to Black Lives Matters protests.[19] This episode reinforces an impression of police as in league with white supremacy.[20] This concern should extend as well to the military.[21]
  9. January 8, 2021, 12:30 pm:
    • I don’t know how likely this is, but the rampage at the U.S. Capitol has led to a new push for statehood for the District of Columbia and its over 700,000 residents. Statehood for Puerto Rico is also suggested as a sop to Republicans on a notion—really?—that the now-territory might flip red.[22] Michael Lind suggested statehood for Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa as a means of redressing the Republican advantage in the electoral college and the U.S. Senate.[23]
  10. January 8, 2021, 10:29 pm:
    • Twitter has banned Donald Trump permanently. The move affects @realDonaldTrump, but Twitter also took down tweets Trump issued on the official presidential account, @POTUS. Google had already removed or limited access to some of Trump’s videos on YouTube and has banned the Parler app, for a social network that right-wing extremists and conspiracy theorists have moved to to escape censorship on Facebook and Twitter, from its Play Store (this will not prevent Parler from distributing the app separately or users from installing it on their Android devices). Apple has threatened to do the same on its App Store (this would be much harder to bypass on iPhones, but not Macs).[24]
    • Though Donald Trump continues to claim that the election was stolen, he condemned his supporters’ violence in overrunning the Capitol and promised prosecution in “comments that perhaps reflected concern over mounting legal and political hazard rather than a newfound sense of contrition and integrity.” Some Trumpsters feel betrayed.[25] To which I say, what I said before, Dear Trumpsters: Fuck Your Feelings! Others, however, are dipping deeper into the conspiracy sauce, in which Trump allegedly moves in mysterious ways.[26] Okay then, but it might be worth remembering that Trump really couldn’t afford to lose,[27] and now he has.[28]
  11. January 9, 2021, 11:20 am:
    • Concern about white supremacist leanings among police[29] surely must increase as it appears the rioters who overran the U.S. Capitol[30] had help from among the very police tasked with protecting the building.[31]
  12. January 9, 2021, 11:06 pm:
    • So yeah, I was surprised when Georgia went for Joe Biden, but in the end, its electoral votes wouldn’t have been enough to reverse the result. Nonetheless, Donald Trump was obsessed with Georgia, reportedly making inappropriate calls (not counting failed attempts to contact the state’s secretary of state) to three different officials to try to reverse the result,[32] and compelling a U.S. attorney to resign for not seeking out the fraud that Trump is sure is there.[33] Obviously, our delusional raging narcissist-in-chief is out of his mind, but assuming, I think much too generously, that he isn’t, he must think he can pardon himself for violations of state law.
    • Amazon will no longer supply cloud services to Parler and Apple has removed the Parler app from its App Store. The companies say that Parler will not do enough to restrain threats of violence on its network.[34] As previously mentioned (see the update for January 8 at 10:29 pm), Parler is a social network that right-wing extremists and conspiracy theorists have migrated to to avoid censorship on Twitter and Facebook.[35]
  13. January 10, 12:57 pm:

Donald Trump

Donald Trump is believed certain to lose[36] in his final flailing effort to overturn the election results with the electoral vote count in Congress today.[37] And while some seem to infer from the extraordinary op-ed in the Washington Post urging against involving the military to fulfill Trump’s aim to remain in power[38] the very possibility that the military may indeed be drawn in, Trump in fact has one more card to play, a card with far less certain effect, the card I have worried about all along, even with the impeachment effort: right-wing militia, which are known to include members of the military and police forces.[39]

The expected protests on the streets of Washington, D.C., may well be violent,[40] but this cannot be assumed to be the end of the matter. See a new blog post entitled, “The danger that remains.”

Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni, “Pence Said to Have Told Trump He Lacks Power to Change Election Result,” New York Times, January 5, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/05/us/politics/pence-trump-election-results.html

David Nakamura, “With brazen assault on election, Trump prompts critics to warn of a coup,” Washington Post, January 5, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-election-coup/2021/01/05/26afcfc0-4f6c-11eb-bda4-615aaefd0555_story.html

Ted Barrett, Manu Raju, and Peter Nickeas, “US Capitol secured, woman dead after rioters stormed the halls of Congress to block Biden’s win,” CNN, January 6, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/us-capitol-lockdown/index.html

Talia Lavin, “The Violent Crescendo of the MAGA Conspiracies,” New Republic, January 6, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/160814/trump-protesters-attack-us-capital

Richard M. Nixon [Justin Sherin], [Twitter thread], Thread Reader App, January 6, 2021, https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1346876642204000266.html

Alana Wise, “Senate Rejects Objection To Arizona Election Results,” National Public Radio, January 6, 2021, https://www.npr.org/sections/congress-electoral-college-tally-live-updates/2021/01/06/954164654/congress-reconvenes-after-violent-rioters-breach-u-s-capitol

Jeremy Herb et al., “Congress completes electoral count, finalizing Biden’s win after violent delay from pro-Trump mob,” CNN, January 7, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/2020-election-congress-electoral-college-vote-count/index.html

Kurtis Lee, Jaweed Kaleem, and Laura King, “‘White supremacy was on full display.’ Double standard seen in police response to riot at Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, January 7, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-01-07/la-na-washington-capitol-police-attack-race

Allie Malloy and Veronica Stracqualursi, “Trump pledges ‘orderly’ transition after riot and Biden win certification,” CNN, January 7, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/07/politics/trump-biden-us-capitol-electoral-college-insurrection/index.html

Margi Murphy, “Facebook, Instagram and Twitter lock Donald Trump’s accounts after praise for Capitol Hill rioters,” Telegraph, January 7, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2021/01/06/calls-twitter-facebook-mute-donald-trump-violence-breaks-capitol/

Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin, “Trump banned from Facebook indefinitely, CEO Mark Zuckerberg says,” Washington Post, January 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-resignations-25th-amendment/2021/01/07/e131ce10-50a3-11eb-bda4-615aaefd0555_story.html

Philip Rucker et al., “Aides weigh resignations, removal options as Trump rages against perceived betrayals,” Washington Post, January 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-resignations-25th-amendment/2021/01/07/e131ce10-50a3-11eb-bda4-615aaefd0555_story.html

Rebecca Tan et al., “Trump supporters storm U.S. Capitol, with one woman killed and tear gas fired,” Washington Post, January 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trump-supporters-storm-capitol-dc/2021/01/06/58afc0b8-504b-11eb-83e3-322644d82356_story.html

Peter Beaumont, “Donald Trump fans cry betrayal as he rebukes Capitol violence,” Guardian, January 8, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jan/08/trump-incites-anger-among-acolytes-let-down-by-lack-of-support

Nitasha Tiku, Tony Romm, and Craig Timberg, “Twitter bans Trump’s account, citing risk of further violence,” Washington Post, January 8, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/01/08/twitter-trump-dorsey/

Amy Gardner, “‘Find the fraud’: Trump pressured a Georgia elections investigator in a separate call legal experts say could amount to obstruction,” Washington Post, January 9, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-call-georgia-investigator/2021/01/09/7a55c7fa-51cf-11eb-83e3-322644d82356_story.html

Aruna Viswanatha, Sadie Gurman, and Cameron McWhirter, “White House Forced Georgia U.S. Attorney to Resign,” Wall Street Journal, January 9, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/white-house-forced-georgia-u-s-attorney-to-resign-11610225840


Allegheny County

Paula Reed Ward, “Allegheny County argues Crack’d Egg can’t hide from covid restrictions under bankruptcy filing,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 5, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/allegheny-county-argues-crackd-egg-cant-hide-from-covid-restrictions-under-bankruptcy-filing/

Paula Reed Ward, “Judge rules against Crack’d Egg, health department case can proceed,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 7, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-rules-against-crackd-egg-health-department-case-can-proceed/


  1. [1]Ted Barrett, Manu Raju, and Peter Nickeas, “US Capitol secured, woman dead after rioters stormed the halls of Congress to block Biden’s win,” CNN, January 6, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/us-capitol-lockdown/index.html; Talia Lavin, “The Violent Crescendo of the MAGA Conspiracies,” New Republic, January 6, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/160814/trump-protesters-attack-us-capital
  2. [2]Talia Lavin, “The Violent Crescendo of the MAGA Conspiracies,” New Republic, January 6, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/160814/trump-protesters-attack-us-capital
  3. [3]Joshua Jamerson, Cameron McWhirter, and Valerie Bauerlein, “Georgia Senate Wins by Democrats Followed Years of Party Organizing,” Wall Street Journal, January 6, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/democrats-make-historic-gain-in-georgia-as-senate-control-hangs-in-balance-11609941722
  4. [4]Alana Wise, “Senate Rejects Objection To Arizona Election Results,” National Public Radio, January 6, 2021, https://www.npr.org/sections/congress-electoral-college-tally-live-updates/2021/01/06/954164654/congress-reconvenes-after-violent-rioters-breach-u-s-capitol
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  6. [6]Margi Murphy, “Facebook, Instagram and Twitter lock Donald Trump’s accounts after praise for Capitol Hill rioters,” Telegraph, January 7, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2021/01/06/calls-twitter-facebook-mute-donald-trump-violence-breaks-capitol/
  7. [7]Jeremy Herb et al., “Congress completes electoral count, finalizing Biden’s win after violent delay from pro-Trump mob,” CNN, January 7, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/2020-election-congress-electoral-college-vote-count/index.html
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  15. [15]Mark Zuckerberg, quoted in Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin, “Trump banned from Facebook indefinitely, CEO Mark Zuckerberg says,” Washington Post, January 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-resignations-25th-amendment/2021/01/07/e131ce10-50a3-11eb-bda4-615aaefd0555_story.html
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  30. [30]Ted Barrett, Manu Raju, and Peter Nickeas, “US Capitol secured, woman dead after rioters stormed the halls of Congress to block Biden’s win,” CNN, January 6, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/us-capitol-lockdown/index.html; Talia Lavin, “The Violent Crescendo of the MAGA Conspiracies,” New Republic, January 6, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/160814/trump-protesters-attack-us-capital
  31. [31]Kyle Cheney, Sarah Ferris, and Laura Barrón-López, “‘Inside job’: House Dems ask if Capitol rioters had hidden help,” Politico, January 8, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/08/congress-democrats-capitol-riot-inside-job-456725
  32. [32]Amy Gardner, “‘Find the fraud’: Trump pressured a Georgia elections investigator in a separate call legal experts say could amount to obstruction,” Washington Post, January 9, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-call-georgia-investigator/2021/01/09/7a55c7fa-51cf-11eb-83e3-322644d82356_story.html
  33. [33]Aruna Viswanatha, Sadie Gurman, and Cameron McWhirter, “White House Forced Georgia U.S. Attorney to Resign,” Wall Street Journal, January 9, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/white-house-forced-georgia-u-s-attorney-to-resign-11610225840
  34. [34]Tim Higgins and Keach Hagey, “Apple, Amazon Move to Marginalize Parler,” Wall Street Journal, January 9, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/apple-suspends-parler-from-app-store-11610241352
  35. [35]Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin, “Trump banned from Facebook indefinitely, CEO Mark Zuckerberg says,” Washington Post, January 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-resignations-25th-amendment/2021/01/07/e131ce10-50a3-11eb-bda4-615aaefd0555_story.html
  36. [36]Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni, “Pence Said to Have Told Trump He Lacks Power to Change Election Result,” New York Times, January 5, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/05/us/politics/pence-trump-election-results.html; David Nakamura, “With brazen assault on election, Trump prompts critics to warn of a coup,” Washington Post, January 5, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-election-coup/2021/01/05/26afcfc0-4f6c-11eb-bda4-615aaefd0555_story.html
  37. [37]Devlin Barrett, “Judge dismisses Gohmert lawsuit seeking to stymie Biden electoral college count,” Washington Post, January 1, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/gohmert-court-filing-claims-pence-is-not-a-glorified-envelope-opener/2021/01/01/eeb6b222-4c51-11eb-839a-cf4ba7b7c48c_story.html; Pamela Brown and Kevin Liptak, “Frustrated Trump met with Pence before holiday break,” CNN, December 24, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/24/politics/trump-pence-electoral-college/index.html; Kyle Cheney, “Gohmert suit may force Pence’s hand in effort to overturn Trump’s defeat,” Politico, December 28, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/28/gohmert-suit-pence-overturn-trumps-defeat-451485; Lauren Fox, Jeremy Herb, and Phil Mattingly, “Congressional GOP grapples with ‘unhinged’ Trump,” CNN, December 23, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/23/politics/congress-gop-trump-veto/index.html; Saint Louis Post-Dispatch, “At least 11 GOP senators will back Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley in voting to reject electors,” January 2, 2021, https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/nearly-a-dozen-gop-senators-announce-plans-to-join-josh-hawley-in-voting-against-counting/article_0ca10e21-fd10-5f51-83bf-b9d468534dbc.html; Seung Min Kim, Josh Dawsey, and Toluse Olorunnipa, “Republicans plunge into open battle over attempts to overturn Trump’s loss to Biden,” Washington Post, December 22, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-republicans-election-fight/2020/12/22/fa0c2744-446b-11eb-b0e4-0f182923a025_story.html
  38. [38]Ashton Carter et al., “All 10 living former defense secretaries: Involving the military in election disputes would cross into dangerous territory,” Washington Post, January 3, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/10-former-defense-secretaries-military-peaceful-transfer-of-power/2021/01/03/2a23d52e-4c4d-11eb-a9f4-0e668b9772ba_story.html
  39. [39]David Benfell, “The least violent solution,” Not Housebroken, August 30, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/16/the-least-violent-solution/; David Benfell, “Bloody November,” Not Housebroken, October 13, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/08/bloody-november/; David Benfell, “Donald Trump’s ‘brown shirts,’” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/30/donald-trumps-brown-shirts/; David Benfell, “The very scary way to four more years,” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/25/the-very-scary-way-to-four-more-years/; David Benfell, “When the legitimacy of the system itself is threatened,” Not Housebroken, October 31, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/10/31/when-the-legitimacy-of-the-system-itself-is-threatened/; David Benfell, “When it’s over but it isn’t,” Not Housebroken, December 21, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/27/when-its-over-but-it-isnt/; David Benfell, “Underestimating the gravity of the situation, as Donald Trump faces a White House exit,” Not Housebroken, December 29, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/21/underestimating-the-gravity-of-the-situation-as-donald-trump-faces-a-white-house-exit/
  40. [40]David Nakamura, “With brazen assault on election, Trump prompts critics to warn of a coup,” Washington Post, January 5, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-election-coup/2021/01/05/26afcfc0-4f6c-11eb-bda4-615aaefd0555_story.html

Yes, it’s Doctor Jill Biden (Update #5)

Updates

  1. Originally published, December 14, 2020, at 8:28 am.

  2. December 14, 9:46 pm:

    • I know I wasn’t the only one to forecast violence following Donald Trump’s defeat. I’m sure it’s no consolation for any of us that this prediction is proving correct as violence is now widespread.[1]

    • They’re getting pretty brazen at the Crack’d Egg restaurant in Brentwood, a Pittsburgh suburb not far from where I live. Allegheny County has been trying to shut the place down for violating COVID-19 orders for months[2] but the restaurant, which has filed for bankruptcy,[3] keeps opening up and the owner was photographed with two sheriff’s deputies. Brentwood Police, who are supposed to enforce the governor’s order, refuse.[4]

    • There’s more coming. I’m having some technical issues that will require a reboot.

  3. December 14, 10:41 pm:

    • Honestly, Mac OS updates are usually not nearly so awful as Windows updates. With the latter, you might as well walk away from your system until the following day because it’ll take that fucking long. So when I say Mac OS updates aren’t as bad, this is what is called damnation by faint praise. They’re still awful, time-consuming, and disruptive. And Apple managed to box me into doing the update when I still had work to do. It isn’t just the operating system update. It’s a bunch of other stuff that is OS-version dependent, all keeping me from getting work done, and all of these upgrades buggy as hell. Are you getting that I’m really not happy with Apple right now? (I tolerate it because of proprietary hardware—yeah, I’d like to be able to fucking print something once in a while, for just one example, and Linux printing is a neglected and inexcusably horrible mess—that won’t work with free operating systems.) That’d be because right now, this upgrade is, for all practical purposes, acting like a Windows upgrade. Which means I’ll have to come back to this tomorrow.

  4. December 15, 7:00 am:

    • This seems to have been an unusually problematic Mac OS upgrade for me. I’m still trying to figure out what all is wrong. And it’s way too fucking early in the morning.

    • The electoral college has confirmed Joe Biden’s election victory as Bill Barr resigned. But, of course, Donald Trump and his supporters battle on, even as more Republicans start to acknowledge Trump’s defeat.[5] It’s hard to imagine Trump increasing his support here, but that obviously isn’t the point.

    • Almost every night when I get gas, there’s an ad on the damned gas pump television urging me to go work for Amazon. I, of course, know better. I know better even as the ad emphasizes, “Safety! Safety! Safety!” Because dehumanizing, unhealthy, and dangerous working conditions have long been the story of Amazon warehouses.[6] But you know, you’d think for a company that supposedly emphasizes safety, they’d be a little more forthcoming in response to the California Attorney General’s subpoena for COVID-19 information. But you know, Amazon.[7]

  5. December 15, 2020, 11:15 am:

    • Braddock is among the poorest communities in Allegheny County. Its former mayor, now Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, sought to revitalize the town and there are a couple businesses that seem meant to appeal to yuppies. Among them is a restaurant named Peppers N’At, which you may add to the list of likely COVID-19 scofflaws among restaurants in the county. Its owner claims to indulge in satire,[8] but it sure looks like his ‘jokes’ are in the mode of Donald Trump when the latter says something really stupid and bigoted and that attracts universal condemnation.


Doctor

Ahem, regarding Dr. Jill Biden. I completely endorse Monica Hesse’s column and the Wall Street Journal should not only retract Joseph Epstein’s column[9] but apologize for even considering it for publication.

Merriam-Webster, “The History of ‘Doctor,’” n.d., https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/the-history-of-doctor

Monica Hesse, “The Wall Street Journal column about Jill Biden is worse than you thought,” Washington Post, December 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/dr-jill-biden-wall-street-journal/2020/12/13/e43883a4-3d45-11eb-8db8-395dedaaa036_story.html


Donald Trump

Peter Hermann, Marissa J. Lang, and Clarence Williams, “Pro-Trump rally descends into chaos as Proud Boys roam D.C. looking to fight,” Washington Post, December 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/proud-boys-protest-stabbing-arrest/2020/12/13/98c0f740-3d3f-11eb-8db8-395dedaaa036_story.html

Hannah Knowles, Annie Gowen, and Tom Hamburger, “‘A dark, empty place:’ Public officials face personal threats as tensions flare,” Washington Post, December 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/public-officials-threatened-covid-election/2020/12/13/680bd380-3be7-11eb-bc68-96af0daae728_story.html

David Charter, “Trump announces law chief Bill Barr has quit as electoral college backs Joe Biden,” Times, December 15, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/trump-announces-law-chief-bill-barr-has-quit-as-electoral-college-backs-joe-biden-wnzzxkczt


Allegheny County

Paula Reed Ward, “Crack’d Egg flouts shutdown as deputies quarantined for dining, taking photos with owner,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 14, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/crackd-egg-flouts-shutdown-as-deputies-quarantined-for-dining-taking-photos-with-owner/

Paula Reed Ward, “Restaurant owner sues Braddock mayor, claims defamation,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 14, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/restaurant-owner-sues-braddock-mayor-claims-defamation/


Amazon

Patrick McGreevy and Suhauna Hussain, “California demands that Amazon comply with COVID-19 investigation,” Los Angeles Times, December 14, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-12-14/california-lawsuit-amazon-workplace-conditions-covid-19


  1. [1]Peter Hermann, Marissa J. Lang, and Clarence Williams, “Pro-Trump rally descends into chaos as Proud Boys roam D.C. looking to fight,” Washington Post, December 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/proud-boys-protest-stabbing-arrest/2020/12/13/98c0f740-3d3f-11eb-8db8-395dedaaa036_story.html; Hannah Knowles, Annie Gowen, and Tom Hamburger, “‘A dark, empty place:’ Public officials face personal threats as tensions flare,” Washington Post, December 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/public-officials-threatened-covid-election/2020/12/13/680bd380-3be7-11eb-bc68-96af0daae728_story.html
  2. [2]Paula Reed Ward, “Brentwood restaurant defies order to close for covid-19 violations, faces court action,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 18, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/brentwood-restaurant-defies-order-to-close-for-covid-19-violations-faces-court-action/
  3. [3]KDKA, “Brentwood Restaurant That Sued Allegheny County Over Coronavirus Restrictions Files For Bankruptcy,” October 9, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/10/09/the-crackd-egg-files-for-bankruptcy/
  4. [4]Paula Reed Ward, “Crack’d Egg flouts shutdown as deputies quarantined for dining, taking photos with owner,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 14, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/crackd-egg-flouts-shutdown-as-deputies-quarantined-for-dining-taking-photos-with-owner/
  5. [5]David Charter, “Trump announces law chief Bill Barr has quit as electoral college backs Joe Biden,” Times, December 15, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/trump-announces-law-chief-bill-barr-has-quit-as-electoral-college-backs-joe-biden-wnzzxkczt
  6. [6]Daniel D’Addario, “Amazon is worse than Walmart,” Salon, July 30, 2013, https://www.salon.com/control/2013/07/30/how_amazon_is_worse_than_wal_mart/; Josh Eidelson, “Amazon Keeps Unions Out By Keeping Workers in Fear, Says Organizer,” Alternet, January 22, 2014, https://www.alternet.org/2014/01/amazon-keeps-unions-out-keeping-workers-fear-says-organizer/; Nichole Gracely, “‘Being homeless is better than working for Amazon,’” Guardian, November 28, 2014, https://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/nov/28/being-homeless-is-better-than-working-for-amazon; Simon Head, “Worse than Wal-Mart: Amazon’s sick brutality and secret history of ruthlessly intimidating workers,” Salon, February 23, 2014, https://www.salon.com/control/2014/02/23/worse_than_wal_mart_amazons_sick_brutality_and_secret_history_of_ruthlessly_intimidating_workers/; Mac McClelland, “I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave,” Mother Jones, March/April 2012, https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/02/mac-mcclelland-free-online-shipping-warehouses-labor/; Nathaniel Mott, “From Amazon warehouse workers to Google bus drivers, it’s tough working a non-tech job at a tech company,” Pando, October 9, 2014, https://pando.com/2014/10/09/from-amazon-warehouse-workers-to-google-bus-drivers-its-tough-working-a-non-tech-job-at-a-tech-company/; Michael Sainato, “‘I’m not a robot’: Amazon workers condemn unsafe, grueling conditions at warehouse,” Guardian, February 5, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/feb/05/amazon-workers-protest-unsafe-grueling-conditions-warehouse; Alex Seitz-Wald, “Amazon is everything wrong with our new economy,” Salon, July 30, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/07/30/amazon_is_everything_wrong_with_our_new_economy/; Spencer Soper, “Inside Amazon’s Warehouse,” Lehigh Valley Morning Call, September 18, 2011, https://www.mcall.com/business/mc-xpm-2011-09-18-mc-allentown-amazon-complaints-20110917-story.html
  7. [7]Patrick McGreevy and Suhauna Hussain, “California demands that Amazon comply with COVID-19 investigation,” Los Angeles Times, December 14, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-12-14/california-lawsuit-amazon-workplace-conditions-covid-19
  8. [8]Paula Reed Ward, “Restaurant owner sues Braddock mayor, claims defamation,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 14, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/restaurant-owner-sues-braddock-mayor-claims-defamation/
  9. [9]Monica Hesse, “The Wall Street Journal column about Jill Biden is worse than you thought,” Washington Post, December 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/dr-jill-biden-wall-street-journal/2020/12/13/e43883a4-3d45-11eb-8db8-395dedaaa036_story.html

And here I’ve been, waiting for word on Trump’s alleged participation in ‘golden showers’ with Russian prostitutes

Donald Trump

Despite this, Donald Trump, whom authoritarian populists insist is such a great businessman,[1] is going broke again. He is personally responsible for some $421 million in debt, “most of it coming due within four years,” and faces the possibility of having to return a tax refund to the Internal Revenue Service, which could cost him $100 million. The report does not say to whom he owes the former,[2] but some will surely suspect the Russians.[3]

Ah, gee. And here I’ve been, waiting for word on Trump’s alleged participation in “golden showers” with Russian prostitutes.[4] Make of that what you will. I sure as hell don’t know, but I can’t even wrap my head around my own finances.

So I was wondering what the National Review would have to say about the New York Times story on Trump’s taxes. Well, um, it seems they’re all about the “golden showers,” too, or more precisely the “Russian investigation” into Trump, which Republicans insist was unjustified and possibly illegal.[5] Make of that what you will, too.

Brittany Bernstein, “Lindsey Graham Hints There is ‘More Damning’ Information about the Russia Investigation to be Released,” National Review, September 28, 2020, https://www.nationalreview.com/news/lindsey-graham-hints-there-is-more-damning-information-about-the-russia-investigation-to-be-released/

Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig, and Mike McIntire, “Trump’s Taxes Show Chronic Losses and Years of Income Tax Avoidance,” New York Times, September 27, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/09/27/us/donald-trump-taxes.html


Fire

Napa Valley in California is on fire and the fire spread west through mountainous terrain north of the Valley of the Moon, also wine country, in Sonoma County toward Santa Rosa, where evacuation orders are taking effect (figure 1) in areas that previously burned in 2017 with the Tubbs Fire. I keep saying it: In California, if it hasn’t burned, it will. And is.

Fig. 1. Screenshot taken by author of the Sonoma County Fire Incident Map, September 28, 2020, at 9:44 am EDT (6:44 am PDT).


  1. [1]Bess Levin, “G.O.P. Voters Think Losing $1 Billion Makes Someone (Trump) a Good Businessman,” Vanity Fair, May 15, 2019, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/05/republicans-still-think-trump-was-a-successful-businessman
  2. [2]Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig, and Mike McIntire, “Trump’s Taxes Show Chronic Losses and Years of Income Tax Avoidance,” New York Times, September 27, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/09/27/us/donald-trump-taxes.html
  3. [3]Craig Unger, “Trump’s Russian Laundromat,” New Republic, July 13, 2017, https://newrepublic.com/article/143586/trumps-russian-laundromat-trump-tower-luxury-high-rises-dirty-money-international-crime-syndicate
  4. [4]Jeff Stein, “Trump, Russian Spies and the Infamous ‘Golden Shower Memos,’” Newsweek, January 10, 2017, http://www.newsweek.com/trump-russian-spies-infamous-golden-shower-memos-541315
  5. [5]Brittany Bernstein, “Lindsey Graham Hints There is ‘More Damning’ Information about the Russia Investigation to be Released,” National Review, September 28, 2020, https://www.nationalreview.com/news/lindsey-graham-hints-there-is-more-damning-information-about-the-russia-investigation-to-be-released/

California is on fire, again, and this time, we can’t blame Pacific Gas and Electric

Walbridge Fire (Fire 13-4)

FireShot Capture 268 - County of Sonoma Fire Incident Map - sonomacounty.maps.arcgis.com
Fig. 1. Screenshot of Sonoma County Fire Incident Map, taken by author on August 20, 2020, at 6:18 am EDT (3:18 am PDT).

The Walbridge Fire, formerly known as Fire 13-4, has visibly spread and a fire that had been reported along the coast between Jenner and Fort Ross now appears where it hadn’t before (figure 1). Evacuation warning areas now reach Occidental, which is a lovely little town in a lovely forested valley, and Forestville. I don’t yet have the full 72 hours of satellite photos that normally go into these gifs (figure 2) because the link had changed and I didn’t discover it until I went to check for this fire.
wus
Fig. 2. Western U.S. satellite imagery animation, as of 6:03 am EDT (3:03 am PDT).
You can see a wind flow around a high pressure area that was formerly a little farther west that looks like it should have been driving the fire in an opposite direction. The approaching cold front in the Pacific Northwest should also have drawn winds from south to north. This is belied both by the expansion of the fire itself and by the ash fall my mother reported. Also, to the extent the front had any impact at all, it will reverse as it passes.

The good news is that I haven’t received any further notifications for this fire since 4:23 pm EDT (1:23 pm PDT) yesterday, suggesting that the expansion of evacuation zones has stopped.

The bad news is that these fires are not being blamed on Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) but rather lightning, which is why there are so many of them, from 11,000 lightning strikes, around the state.[1]

In the short term, the sheer number of fires means firefighting resources are stretched thin, notably in part because prison labor is not available to help because of the COVID-19 pandemic.[2] In the longer term, it shows that California’s fire woes cannot solely be blamed on PG&E, which has been culpable in many fires, forced into bankruptcy as a result, and even criminally convicted in one fire,[3] although investigators cleared it in the 2017 Tubbs Fire which also afflicted Sonoma County.[4] California has suffered more drought than not my entire adult life, presumably due to the climate crisis; a single-minded focus on PG&E as culprit glosses over that the vegetation is tinder dry. The state needs rain, it isn’t getting it, and it can no longer be expected to get it.

Dale Kasler, Ryan Sabalow, and Sophia Bollag, “Can California handle this many wildfires at once? Crews and equipment already ‘depleted,’” Sacramento Bee, August 19, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article245083025.html


  1. [1]Dale Kasler, Ryan Sabalow, and Sophia Bollag, “Can California handle this many wildfires at once? Crews and equipment already ‘depleted,’” Sacramento Bee, August 19, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article245083025.html
  2. [2]Dale Kasler, Ryan Sabalow, and Sophia Bollag, “Can California handle this many wildfires at once? Crews and equipment already ‘depleted,’” Sacramento Bee, August 19, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article245083025.html
  3. [3]Howard Blume, “PG&E reaches $13.5-billion settlement with victims of devastating California wildfires,” Los Angeles Times, December 6, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-12-06/pge-settlement-fire-northern-california; Katherine Blunt, “PG&E to Plead Guilty to Involuntary Manslaughter Charges in Deadly California Wildfire,” Wall Street Journal, March 23, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pg-e-to-plead-guilty-to-involuntary-manslaughter-charges-in-deadly-california-wildfire-11584962649; Katherine Blunt, “PG&E’s Settlement With California Fire Victims Is Fraying,” Wall Street Journal, April 6, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pg-es-settlement-with-california-fire-victims-is-fraying-11586189889; Katherine Blunt and Russell Gold, “PG&E Knew for Years Its Lines Could Spark Wildfires, and Didn’t Fix Them,” Wall Street Journal, July 10, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pg-e-knew-for-years-its-lines-could-spark-wildfires-and-didnt-fix-them-11562768885; Katherine Blunt and Alejandro Lazo, “California Governor Threatens State Takeover of PG&E,” Wall Street Journal, November 1, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/california-governor-threatens-state-takeover-of-pg-e-11572641749; Peg Brickley, “PG&E Loses Challenge to Law Holding It Liable for Fire Damage,” Wall Street Journal, November 27, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pg-e-loses-challenge-to-law-holding-it-liable-for-fire-damage-11574910091; Russell Gold and Katherine Blunt, “PG&E Had Systemic Problems With Power Line Maintenance, California Probe Finds,” Wall Street Journal, December 2, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pg-e-had-systemic-problems-with-power-line-maintenance-california-probe-finds-11575338873; Richard Gonzales, “Federal Judge Imposes New Probation Terms On PG&E To Reduce Wildfire Risk,” National Public Radio, April 2, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/04/02/709248544/federal-judge-imposes-new-probation-terms-on-pg-e-to-reduce-wildfire-risk; Dale Kasler, “PG&E says its equipment may have caused a fourth California fire in the past week,” Sacramento Bee, October 30, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article236841498.html; Dale Kasler, “PG&E makes deal to pay California wildfire victims. What it means for utility’s future,” Sacramento Bee, December 6, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article238138009.html; 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; Dale Kasler, “California investigators blame PG&E for massive 2019 Kincade Fire in wine country,” Sacramento Bee, July 16, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article244283752.html; KPIX, “Federal Judge Calls PG&E ‘Recalcitrant Criminal,’ Delays New Probation Ruling,” May 28, 2020, https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2020/05/28/regulators-approve-pge-bankruptcy-plan-despite-safety-fears/; J.D. Morris, “PG&E bankruptcy judge won’t approve attempt to halt fire victim votes,” San Francisco Chronicle, April 7, 2020, https://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/PG-E-bankruptcy-judge-won-t-approve-attempt-to-15185776.php; Ivan Penn and Peter Eavis, “Report Detailing PG&E’s Failures Raises New Hurdles for Utility,” New York Times, December 3, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/03/business/energy-environment/pge-camp-fire-report.html; Randi Rossman and Will Schmitt, “Broken PG&E tower discovered near origin of Kincade fire on The Geysers geothermal power property,” Santa Rosa Press Democrat, October 25, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/10216601-181/kincade-fire-starts-inside-the; Joe Ryan and Mark Chediak, “PG&E stock craters after ruling Tubbs fire suit can proceed,” Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, August 19, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/business/9924652-181/pge-stock-craters-after-ruling; Joseph Serna and Taryn Luna, “PG&E power lines caused California’s deadliest fire, investigators conclude,” Los Angeles Times, May 15, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-paradise-camp-fire-cal-fire-20190515-story.html; Kanishka Singh, “PG&E failed to inspect transmission lines that caused deadly 2018 wilfdfire [sic]: state probe,” Reuters, December 3, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-california-wildfire-pg-e-us-idUSKBN1Y70N8; Reis Thebault, Kim Bellware, and Andrew Freedman, “High-voltage power line broke near origin of massive California fire that forced thousands of evacuations,” Washington Post, October 25, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/10/24/fast-moving-wildfire-ignites-northern-california-wine-country-prompting-evacuations/
  4. [4]Ivan Penn and Peter Eavis, “PG&E Is Cleared in Deadly Tubbs Fire of 2017,” New York Times, January 24, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/24/business/energy-environment/pge-tubbs-fire.html

New York Attorney General arranges a massive fundraising boost for the National Rifle Association

National Rifle Association

I predict a huge fundraising bonanza for the National Rifle Association. Because, yes, that’s exactly how this works.

As for the lawsuit[1] itself? We’ll see. There’s a gaming aspect to court proceedings that reduces to a contest to see who can get what rules applied that leads me not to trust that even well-founded cases (which it sounds like this is[2]) will prevail. And we haven’t seen the NRA’s defense yet.

Carol D. Leonnig and Tom Hamburger, “New York attorney general seeks to dissolve NRA in suit accusing gun rights group of wide-ranging fraud and self-dealing,” Washington Post, August 6, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/nra-lapierre-ny-attorney-general/2020/08/06/8e389794-d794-11ea-930e-d88518c57dcc_story.html


Ridesharing

Preetika Rana, “Uber Ridership Fails to Recover as Pandemic Drives Another Big Loss,” Wall Street Journal, August 6, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-ridership-fails-to-recover-as-pandemic-drives-another-big-loss-11596744389


  1. [1]Carol D. Leonnig and Tom Hamburger, “New York attorney general seeks to dissolve NRA in suit accusing gun rights group of wide-ranging fraud and self-dealing,” Washington Post, August 6, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/nra-lapierre-ny-attorney-general/2020/08/06/8e389794-d794-11ea-930e-d88518c57dcc_story.html
  2. [2]Carol D. Leonnig and Tom Hamburger, “New York attorney general seeks to dissolve NRA in suit accusing gun rights group of wide-ranging fraud and self-dealing,” Washington Post, August 6, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/nra-lapierre-ny-attorney-general/2020/08/06/8e389794-d794-11ea-930e-d88518c57dcc_story.html

Pacific Gas and Electric responsible for yet another fire as another bad fire year looms

Pacific Gas and Electric

I was still in California for the Camp Fire that leveled most of Paradise, in the Sierra Foothills, and emitted so much smoke that you could barely see a block down the street even 100-150 miles away, where I was in the greater San Francisco Bay Area.

I had moved away in time for the Kincade Fire, but my mother is still there. And I remember being very concerned by the possibility that like a fire a few years earlier, this fire might jump Highway 101 and start burning woodland that I don’t think has burned in decades and that extends to not really all that very far away at all from my mother’s house.

Evacuations were mandatory in much of Sonoma County and my mother was among those who had to leave. It was pretty much known at the time that Pacific Gas and Electric was responsible and my mother’s fury with the company is intense. She’s not alone[1] and the company is now a twice-convicted felon, for a San Bruno gas explosion[2] and for the Camp Fire.[3] It is also emerging from a bankruptcy largely provoked by its civil liabilities.[4] Now investigators have confirmed that the company was responsible for the Kincade Fire.[5]

And from what I can see from afar, it looks to me like yet another bad fire year in California.

Dale Kasler, “California investigators blame PG&E for massive 2019 Kincade Fire in wine country,” Sacramento Bee, July 16, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article244283752.html


  1. [1]Kevin Fixler, “From fierce winds to flames: How the Kincade fire made Sonoma County history,” Santa Rosa Press Democrat, November 1, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10249729-181/how-the-kincade-fire-spread; Nathan Heller, “San Francisco’s Fire Season,” New Yorker, October 30, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/california-chronicles/san-franciscos-fire-season; Dale Kasler, “Can wildfire risk worsen? Northern California eyes more winds, another PG&E outage,” Sacramento Bee, October 28, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article236718203.html; Dale Kasler and Hannah Wiley, “50,000 face evacuations in Sonoma County as Kincade Fire peril intensifies,” Sacramento Bee, October 26, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article236685153.html; Randi Rossman and Will Schmitt, “Broken PG&E tower discovered near origin of Kincade fire on The Geysers geothermal power property,” Santa Rosa Press Democrat, October 25, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/10216601-181/kincade-fire-starts-inside-the; Randi Rossmann and Will Schmitt, “Latest: Crews fighting to protect Windsor from approaching Kincade fire,” Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, October 27, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/10227533-181/latest-winds-picking-up-in; Ryan Sabalow et al., “Kincade Fire forces evacuations and burns 84 square miles, as containment drops to 5%,” Sacramento Bee, October 27, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article236719068.html; Reis Thebault, Kim Bellware, and Andrew Freedman, “High-voltage power line broke near origin of massive California fire that forced thousands of evacuations,” Washington Post, October 25, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/10/24/fast-moving-wildfire-ignites-northern-california-wine-country-prompting-evacuations/
  2. [2]Jarod Cassidy, “PG&E Guilty of 6 Felony Charges in San Bruno Pipeline Explosion,” Thomas J. Henry, October 5, 2017, https://thomasjhenrylaw.com/blog/premises-liability/pge-guilty-6-felony-charges-san-bruno-pipeline-explosion/; Lyanne Melendez and Katie Marzullo, “Federal jury finds PG&E guilty of obstructing investigators,” KGO, August 10, 2016, https://abc7news.com/news/federal-jury-finds-pg-e-guilty-of-obstructing-investigators/1463352/
  3. [3]Katherine Blunt, “PG&E to Plead Guilty to Involuntary Manslaughter Charges in Deadly California Wildfire,” Wall Street Journal, March 23, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pg-e-to-plead-guilty-to-involuntary-manslaughter-charges-in-deadly-california-wildfire-11584962649; Katherine Blunt and Russell Gold, “PG&E Knew for Years Its Lines Could Spark Wildfires, and Didn’t Fix Them,” Wall Street Journal, July 10, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pg-e-knew-for-years-its-lines-could-spark-wildfires-and-didnt-fix-them-11562768885; Russell Gold and Katherine Blunt, “PG&E Had Systemic Problems With Power Line Maintenance, California Probe Finds,” Wall Street Journal, December 2, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pg-e-had-systemic-problems-with-power-line-maintenance-california-probe-finds-11575338873; Richard Gonzales, “Federal Judge Imposes New Probation Terms On PG&E To Reduce Wildfire Risk,” National Public Radio, April 2, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/04/02/709248544/federal-judge-imposes-new-probation-terms-on-pg-e-to-reduce-wildfire-risk; 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; Joseph Serna and Taryn Luna, “PG&E power lines caused California’s deadliest fire, investigators conclude,” Los Angeles Times, May 15, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-paradise-camp-fire-cal-fire-20190515-story.html; Kanishka Singh, “PG&E failed to inspect transmission lines that caused deadly 2018 wilfdfire [sic]: state probe,” Reuters, December 3, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-california-wildfire-pg-e-us-idUSKBN1Y70N8
  4. [4]Howard Blume, “PG&E reaches $13.5-billion settlement with victims of devastating California wildfires,” Los Angeles Times, December 6, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-12-06/pge-settlement-fire-northern-california; Katherine Blunt, “PG&E’s Settlement With California Fire Victims Is Fraying,” Wall Street Journal, April 6, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pg-es-settlement-with-california-fire-victims-is-fraying-11586189889; Dale Kasler, “PG&E makes deal to pay California wildfire victims. What it means for utility’s future,” Sacramento Bee, December 6, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article238138009.html; J.D. Morris, “PG&E bankruptcy judge won’t approve attempt to halt fire victim votes,” San Francisco Chronicle, April 7, 2020, https://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/PG-E-bankruptcy-judge-won-t-approve-attempt-to-15185776.php; Ivan Penn and Peter Eavis, “Report Detailing PG&E’s Failures Raises New Hurdles for Utility,” New York Times, December 3, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/03/business/energy-environment/pge-camp-fire-report.html
  5. [5]Dale Kasler, “California investigators blame PG&E for massive 2019 Kincade Fire in wine country,” Sacramento Bee, July 16, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article244283752.html

But Elon Musk has a family to support!

There were updates last night.


Elon Musk

Instead, Elon Musk gets to manufacture automobiles, dig tunnels, and launch astronauts to the International Space Station. Seriously, how insane is this?[1]

I’m glad to see someone somewhat agrees with me, even if their objection is primarily to how money Elon Musk would be paid.[2]

I’m waiting for Musk-worshippers to wail about how he has a family to support, though.

Rupert Neate, “Tesla shareholders urged to oust Elon Musk over $55bn pay deal,” Guardian, June 30, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/jun/30/tesla-shareholders-urged-to-oust-elon-musk-over-55bn-pay-deal


Palestine

I was beginning to think Binyamin Netanyahu’s promised de jure annexation announcement might come in the dead of night. But it appears there’s been a delay.[3]

Yousef Munayyer, “Liberal Zionism paved the Israeli right’s path to annexation,” +972, June 23, 2020, https://www.972mag.com/liberal-zionism-israel-annexation/

Salem Barahmeh, “Palestinians are fighting to dismantle apartheid, not just annexation,” +972, June 29, 2020, https://www.972mag.com/jericho-annexation-jordan-valley-apartheid/

Associated Press, “Netanyahu ally confirms delays in West Bank annexation plan,” Al-Ahram, July 1, 2020, http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/373408.aspx


Pandemic

In the ‘this should be brain-dead fucking obvious’ department:

I guess it isn’t.


  1. [1]David Benfell, “On kente cloth and appropriation,” Irregular Bullshit, June 9, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/06/09/on-kente-cloth-and-appropriation/
  2. [2]Rupert Neate, “Tesla shareholders urged to oust Elon Musk over $55bn pay deal,” Guardian, June 30, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/jun/30/tesla-shareholders-urged-to-oust-elon-musk-over-55bn-pay-deal
  3. [3]Associated Press, “Netanyahu ally confirms delays in West Bank annexation plan,” Al-Ahram, July 1, 2020, http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/373408.aspx

An unfathomable breadth and depth of corruption, led by a black hole

United Kingdom

I would assume that something similar to what George Monbiot has described of the United Kingdom’s atrocities and cover-ups[1] is true of the United States. We know only the more shameless ones like Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, unauthorized migrants on the southern border, slavery, the American Indians, southeast Asia, and racist police. And it is certainly not like only Britain’s hands are dirty in Yemen.

I remember in my undergraduate career, whenever I had the temerity to imagine I had a handle of the breadth and depth of corruption in our system of social organization, I had only to kick over another rock to find it even more vastly deeper and broader. That’s worth remembering as we have a black hole presidency—the U.S. will not suddenly be “pure” when the delusional raging narcissist-in-chief, the racist authoritarian populist rapist, leaves office, whether or not replaced by the racist neoliberal rapist.

George Monbiot, “Lying In State,” June 21, 2020, https://www.monbiot.com/2020/06/21/lying-in-state/


Pandemic

There is a new blog post entitled, “Endorsing a giant meteor strike in 2020.”

Rashawn Ray and Rebecca Shankman, “How COVID-19 is changing the gun debate,” Brookings, June 17, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2020/06/17/how-covid-19-is-changing-the-gun-debate/


Pacific Gas and Electric

Kanishka Singh, “PG&E says bankruptcy court approves its Chapter 11 reorganization plan,” Reuters, June 20, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pg-e-us-bankruptcy/pge-says-bankruptcy-court-approves-its-chapter-11-reorganization-plan-idUSKBN23R0SL


  1. [1]George Monbiot, “Lying In State,” June 21, 2020, https://www.monbiot.com/2020/06/21/lying-in-state/

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