Racism and the January 6, 2021, insurrection

Donald Trump

Gerald Seib, at the Wall Street Journal, supports a narrative that blames ‘Trumpism’ on neoliberal trade policy and largely treats racism and white supremacy as an ancillary issue. He sees the January 6, 2021, riot as a culmination.[1] There is, of course, more to it, including a 1,000-year history,[2] but to my knowledge, no one, including me, seems to have explored well how all this came together.

It is only rarely the case that phenomena can be attributed to singular causes;[3] the tendency to do so generally should be regarded as a fallacy of linear causation.

One example in which the economic explanation comes up short is in the stark discrepancy between the law enforcement response to the January 6 riot and to Black Lives Matter protests.[4] This discrepancy only becomes starker when the Federal Bureau of Investigation had warned in advance of a possible attack on January 6[5] and indeed that the Capitol Police had also warned themselves.[6] These warnings clearly indicated a possibility of violence,[7] yet the failings on that date “could mean that there were inherent biases, where people discounted this, and just didn’t think a large group of White conservatives who generally ally with the police and the GOP lawmakers, who were also present there that day, would be violent.”[8]

In the New York Review of Books, Jonathan Freedland lays out a context and an account for the January 6 riot that seems much more intentional than what I had seen previously. The important aspect of Freedland’s account is that it requires neither intelligence nor sanity. In essence, Donald Trump was desperate to remain in power and having exhausted legal or regular military options for doing so, let loose a mob.[9] If you have access, his article is far more worthwhile than Fiona Hill’s, the latter of which requires Trump to possess both minimal intelligence and sanity, of why she thinks it was a coup.[10]

Freedland’s explanation also illuminates that Trump’s criminal exposure from inciting the insurrection[11] now likely constrains him from attempting a repeat for Joe Biden’s inauguration.[12]

Indeed, one problem with attempting to take power by force is that you need to succeed. Because when you fail, the full resources of the state may be deployed against you.

Jonathan Stevenson, “Trump’s Lingering Menace,” New York Review of Books, January 9, 2021, https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2021/01/09/trumps-lingering-menace/

Carol D. Leonnig, “Capitol Police intelligence report warned three days before attack that ‘Congress itself’ could be targeted,” Washington Post, January 15, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/capitol-police-intelligence-warning/2021/01/15/c8b50744-5742-11eb-a08b-f1381ef3d207_story.html

Gerald F. Seib, “Where Trump Came From—and Where Trumpism Is Going,” Wall Street Journal, January 15, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/where-trump-came-fromand-where-trumpism-is-going-11610726416


  1. [1]Gerald F. Seib, “Where Trump Came From—and Where Trumpism Is Going,” Wall Street Journal, January 15, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/where-trump-came-fromand-where-trumpism-is-going-11610726416
  2. [2]David Benfell, “Barack Obama asks, ‘Why is it that the folks that won the last election are so mad all the time?’ Not Housebroken, November 4, 2018, https://disunitedstates.org/2018/11/04/barack-obama-asks-why-is-it-that-the-folks-that-won-the-last-election-are-so-mad-all-the-time/
  3. [3]Fritjof Capra, The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems (New York: Anchor, 1996); Joanna Macy, Mutual Causality in Buddhism and General Systems Theory (Delhi, India: Sri Satguru, 1995); Edgar Morin, On Complexity (Cresskill, NJ: Hampton, 2008).
  4. [4]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; 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; Matt Stieb, “Capitol Police Suspends Cops for Allegedly Siding With Pro-Trump Mob,” New York, January 11, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/01/two-capitol-cops-suspended-for-actions-during-capitol-riot.html
  5. [5]Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, “FBI report warned of ‘war’ at Capitol, contradicting claims there was no indication of looming violence,” Washington Post, January 12, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/capitol-riot-fbi-intelligence/2021/01/12/30d12748-546b-11eb-a817-e5e7f8a406d6_story.html
  6. [6]Carol D. Leonnig, “Capitol Police intelligence report warned three days before attack that ‘Congress itself’ could be targeted,” Washington Post, January 15, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/capitol-police-intelligence-warning/2021/01/15/c8b50744-5742-11eb-a08b-f1381ef3d207_story.html
  7. [7]Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, “FBI report warned of ‘war’ at Capitol, contradicting claims there was no indication of looming violence,” Washington Post, January 12, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/capitol-riot-fbi-intelligence/2021/01/12/30d12748-546b-11eb-a817-e5e7f8a406d6_story.html; Carol D. Leonnig, “Capitol Police intelligence report warned three days before attack that ‘Congress itself’ could be targeted,” Washington Post, January 15, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/capitol-police-intelligence-warning/2021/01/15/c8b50744-5742-11eb-a08b-f1381ef3d207_story.html
  8. [8]Mary McCord, quoted in Carol D. Leonnig, “Capitol Police intelligence report warned three days before attack that ‘Congress itself’ could be targeted,” Washington Post, January 15, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/capitol-police-intelligence-warning/2021/01/15/c8b50744-5742-11eb-a08b-f1381ef3d207_story.html
  9. [9]Jonathan Stevenson, “Trump’s Lingering Menace,” New York Review of Books, January 9, 2021, https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2021/01/09/trumps-lingering-menace/
  10. [10]Fiona Hill, “Yes, It Was a Coup. Here’s Why,” Politico, January 11, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/01/11/capitol-riot-self-coup-trump-fiona-hill-457549
  11. [11]Jennifer Haberkorn, “Republicans block House resolution calling on Pence to remove Trump over Capitol riot,” Los Angeles Times, January 11, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-01-11/republicans-block-house-resolution-to-call-on-pence-to-remove-trump-over-capitol-riot; Ron Kampeas, “Biden: Capitol marauders are ‘thugs, insurrectionists and anti-Semites’ who should be prosecuted,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 8, 2021, https://www.jta.org/quick-reads/biden-capitol-marauders-are-thugs-insurrectionists-and-anti-semites-who-should-be-prosecuted; Andrew G. McCabe and David C. Williams, “Trump’s New Criminal Problem,” Politico, January 11, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/01/11/trumps-new-criminal-problem-457298; Seren Morris, “What Does Insurrection or Sedition Mean? Definition of Words Used To Describe Capitol Riot,” Newsweek, January 7, 2021, https://www.newsweek.com/what-does-insurrection-sedition-mean-definition-capitol-riot-1559745
  12. [12]Jonathan Stevenson, “Trump’s Lingering Menace,” New York Review of Books, January 9, 2021, https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2021/01/09/trumps-lingering-menace/

The weirder and weirder story of an initially alleged plot to ‘capture and assassinate’ lawmakers

Donald Trump

Prosecutors first claimed,[1] then withdrew their claim,[2] that the Capitol rioters intended to capture and assassinate lawmakers in their insurrection on January 6, 2021.[3]

What I’m still not seeing here, even if the original claim is true, is an actual plan for keeping Donald Trump in office: Taking legislators hostage could 1) impair legislative bodies’ ability to reach a quorum (who would show up to risk being taken hostage or executed?) to take action and 2) result in a court overturning any action taken under such circumstances as being under duress and therefore invalid. Such a ‘plan’ further assumes that legislators have agency here, that they can indeed choose to overturn the election.

None of this made any sense even with the original allegation. But especially with claims accused rioters are making,[4] the story is only getting weirder. In any event, this is not planning, but rather delusion, even, as with the delusional raging narcissist-in-chief himself,[5] psychosis.[6]

Brad Heath and Sarah N. Lynch, “U.S. says Capitol rioters meant to ‘capture and assassinate’ officials – filing,” Reuters, January 15, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-capitol-arrests/u-s-says-capitol-rioters-meant-to-capture-and-assassinate-officials-filing-idUSKBN29K0K7

Katelyn Polantz, “US takes back its assertion that Capitol rioters wanted to ‘capture and assassinate’ officials,” CNN, January 15, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/15/politics/capitol-capture-assassinate-elected-officials/index.html


Iran

M. Reza Behnam, “Time Present and Time Past: CIA Coup in Iran,” Tikkun, January 14, 2021, https://www.tikkun.org/time-present-and-time-past-cia-coup-in-iran


  1. [1]Brad Heath and Sarah N. Lynch, “U.S. says Capitol rioters meant to ‘capture and assassinate’ officials – filing,” Reuters, January 15, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-capitol-arrests/u-s-says-capitol-rioters-meant-to-capture-and-assassinate-officials-filing-idUSKBN29K0K7
  2. [2]Katelyn Polantz, “US takes back its assertion that Capitol rioters wanted to ‘capture and assassinate’ officials,” CNN, January 15, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/15/politics/capitol-capture-assassinate-elected-officials/index.html
  3. [3]Brad Heath and Sarah N. Lynch, “U.S. says Capitol rioters meant to ‘capture and assassinate’ officials – filing,” Reuters, January 15, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-capitol-arrests/u-s-says-capitol-rioters-meant-to-capture-and-assassinate-officials-filing-idUSKBN29K0K7; Katelyn Polantz, “US takes back its assertion that Capitol rioters wanted to ‘capture and assassinate’ officials,” CNN, January 15, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/15/politics/capitol-capture-assassinate-elected-officials/index.html
  4. [4]Katelyn Polantz, “US takes back its assertion that Capitol rioters wanted to ‘capture and assassinate’ officials,” CNN, January 15, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/15/politics/capitol-capture-assassinate-elected-officials/index.html
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Riot or insurrection? Lies or madness?” Not Housebroken, January 12, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/01/12/riot-or-insurrection-lies-or-madness/
  6. [6]WebMD, “Psychosis and Psychotic Episodes,” July 13, 2019, https://www.webmd.com/schizophrenia/guide/what-is-psychosis#1

What was that that happened on January 6, 2021? (Update #4)

Updates

  1. Originally published, January 11, 2021, 2:28 pm.

  2. January 11, 2021, 11:27 pm:

    • I have understood the presence of right wing militia members in the military to include those who join, seeking training.[1] But it appears there is also a significant problem the other way around, that is, in which militia groups recruit police and military.[2] The Pentagon is apparently aware of a growing hate group problem in its ranks but seems not to be tracking it.[3]

  3. January 12, 2021, 5:32 am:

    • It’s just going completely nuts:

      The [Federal Bureau of Investigation] has intelligence that pro-Donald Trump supporters are planning armed protests in 50 state capitals around the time of Joe Biden’s inauguration, according to reports.

      The agency received information about an “identified armed group intending to travel to Washington DC on 16 January”, according to a briefing obtained by ABC News.

      Warning of a potential “uprising” if the president was removed from office prematurely, the FBI said groups were calling for the “storming” of state, local, and federal government courthouses and administrative buildings if Congress attempts to enact the 25th Amendment prior to Inauguration Day.

      Far-right social media users have discussed actions tied to January 20 for months, but the storming of the US Capitol “energised” the online chatter, said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League.[4]

      I’m not sure this can even realistically happen but “members of the House [of Representatives] Armed Services Committee have made an unusual request that the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command review the some 15,000 troops National Guard troops set to be deployed for the inauguration ‘to ensure that deployed members are not sympathetic to domestic terrorists.’”[5]

      In the past, right wing calls for massive demonstrations have resulted in somewhat less spectacular turnout. But as I’ve earlier explained, this time could be different.[6]

  4. January 12, 2021, 2:51 pm:

  5. January 12, 2021, 10:43 pm:

    • “As of 5 January 2021, FBI Norfolk received information indicating calls for violence in response to ‘unlawful lockdowns’ to begin on 6 January 2021 in Washington, D.C.,” the document says. “An online thread discussed specific calls for violence to include stating ‘Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Pantifa slave soldiers being spilled. Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal.”[7]

    • “We are looking at significant felony cases tied to sedition and conspiracy,” [Michael] Sherwin said at the Justice Department’s first televised news conference since the violent takeover of the Capitol last Wednesday [January 6, 2021].

      “Just yesterday [January 11], our office organized a strike force of very senior national security prosecutors and public corruption prosecutors,” he added. “Their only marching orders from me are to build seditious and conspiracy charges related to the most heinous acts that occurred in the Capitol.”

      Sherwin said that more than 70 people were already facing criminal charges and that he expected that number to grow “geometrically.”

      “I expect that number to grow into the hundreds,” the prosecutor said. “Just the gamut of cases we’re looking at is mind-blowing.”[8]


Donald Trump

There seems to be some question of how to refer to the January 6, 2021, riot in which a mix[9] of right-wing rioters overran the U.S. Capitol, seeking to disrupt a Congressional certification of Joe Biden’s November (2020) election victory.[10] As a scholar, I worry about terminology, partly because I want neither to sensationalize—my conclusions will often be judged sensational regardless[11]— or exaggerate, but particularly when I still think that a more serious uprising may yet occur,[12] and I wish not to minimize that possibility.

It seems not to be a coup, both because it is judged to have lacked sufficient planning and because the military was not involved. But the rejection of the dictionary definition that occurs with the word coup[13] seems not to be happening with the words insurrection and sedition[14] as an article of impeachment introduced in the House of Representatives, which seems likely to pass, indicts Donald Trump for inciting an insurrection.[15]

Bryan Bender, “The military has a hate group problem. But it doesn’t know how bad it’s gotten,” Politico, January 11, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/11/military-right-wing-extremism-457861

Jennifer Haberkorn, “Republicans block House resolution calling on Pence to remove Trump over Capitol riot,” Los Angeles Times, January 11, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-01-11/republicans-block-house-resolution-to-call-on-pence-to-remove-trump-over-capitol-riot

Fiona Hill, “Yes, It Was a Coup. Here’s Why,” Politico, January 11, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/01/11/capitol-riot-self-coup-trump-fiona-hill-457549

Colleen Long, Michael Balsamo, and Michael Kunzelman, “FBI warns of plans for nationwide armed protests next week,” Associated Press, January 11, 2021, copy in possession of author

Andrew G. McCabe and David C. Williams, “Trump’s New Criminal Problem,” Politico, January 11, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/01/11/trumps-new-criminal-problem-457298

Josie Ensor, “Fears for Biden inauguration as FBI warns of ‘armed uprising’ and pro-Trump protests in 50 state capitals,” Telegraph, January 12, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/01/11/fears-biden-inauguration-fbi-warns-armed-pro-trump-protests/

Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney, “DOJ probing sedition in connection with Capitol riot,” Politico, January 12, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/12/capitol-riot-sedition-charges-458309


  1. [1]Lois Beckett, “How the US military has failed to address white supremacy in its ranks,” Guardian, June 24, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/24/us-military-white-supremacy-extremist-plot
  2. [2]Mike Giglio, “A Pro-Trump Militant Group Has Recruited Thousands of Police, Soldiers, and Veterans,” Atlantic, November 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/11/right-wing-militias-civil-war/616473/
  3. [3]Bryan Bender, “The military has a hate group problem. But it doesn’t know how bad it’s gotten,” Politico, January 11, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/11/military-right-wing-extremism-457861
  4. [4]Josie Ensor, “Fears for Biden inauguration as FBI warns of ‘armed uprising’ and pro-Trump protests in 50 state capitals,” Telegraph, January 12, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/01/11/fears-biden-inauguration-fbi-warns-armed-pro-trump-protests/
  5. [5]Josie Ensor, “Fears for Biden inauguration as FBI warns of ‘armed uprising’ and pro-Trump protests in 50 state capitals,” Telegraph, January 12, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/01/11/fears-biden-inauguration-fbi-warns-armed-pro-trump-protests/
  6. [6]David Benfell, “The danger that remains,” Not Housebroken, January 11, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/01/07/the-danger-that-remains/
  7. [7]Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, “FBI report warned of ‘war’ at Capitol, contradicting claims there was no indication of looming violence,” Washington Post, January 12, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/capitol-riot-fbi-intelligence/2021/01/12/30d12748-546b-11eb-a817-e5e7f8a406d6_story.html
  8. [8]Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney, “DOJ probing sedition in connection with Capitol riot,” Politico, January 12, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/12/capitol-riot-sedition-charges-458309
  9. [9]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
  10. [10]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; 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
  11. [11]David Benfell, “Radicalism and pragmatism,” Not Housebroken, July 19, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/19/radicalism-and-pragmatism/
  12. [12]David Benfell, “The danger that remains,” Not Housebroken, January 9, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/01/07/the-danger-that-remains/
  13. [13]Nicolás Rivero, “Is America experiencing a coup?” Quartz, January 6, 2021, https://qz.com/1953602/is-america-experiencing-a-coup/
  14. [14]Ron Kampeas, “Biden: Capitol marauders are ‘thugs, insurrectionists and anti-Semites’ who should be prosecuted,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 8, 2021, https://www.jta.org/quick-reads/biden-capitol-marauders-are-thugs-insurrectionists-and-anti-semites-who-should-be-prosecuted; Seren Morris, “What Does Insurrection or Sedition Mean? Definition of Words Used To Describe Capitol Riot,” Newsweek, January 7, 2021, https://www.newsweek.com/what-does-insurrection-sedition-mean-definition-capitol-riot-1559745
  15. [15]Jennifer Haberkorn, “Republicans block House resolution calling on Pence to remove Trump over Capitol riot,” Los Angeles Times, January 11, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-01-11/republicans-block-house-resolution-to-call-on-pence-to-remove-trump-over-capitol-riot

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/


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  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

Mitch McConnell might not want a deal (Update #3)

Updates

  1. Originally published, December 29, 2020, 10:00 pm.

  2. December 30, 2020, 9:20 am, revised 11:50 am:

    • Mitch McConnell’s attempt to combine an increase in stimulus payments to $2,000 with a Section 230 repeal and election fraud commission has, according to Politico, “no chance of becoming law.” Some, apparently including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, see the effort as a move to kill the increase entirely,[1] as the payment increase cannot be split off from McConnell’s bill and the House of Representatives would have to come back into session—not impossible—to approve any changes.[2]

      There is still, evidently, a chance that $2,000 checks will become law. But it is also possible that neoliberals among the Democrats figured they could rely on McConnell to kill it.

  3. December 30, 2020, 10:00 pm:

    • David Wallace-Wells does not approve of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution effort.[3] Actually, that’d be putting it mildly:

      Within hours of receiving WHO guidance on January 13, scientists in Thailand began deploying a COVID-19 test, as the Washington Post recently recounted; it took the CDC 46 days to produce one that worked. By March 1, South Korea was administering 11,000 tests per day, a rapidly growing figure; in the U.S., a country about seven times larger, the number was 183. Early, low-end estimates suggested 500,000 to 700,000 tests each day were necessary to slow the spread of the disease, and high-end estimates ran to 3 million per day; the U.S. didn’t reach 700,000 daily tests until mid-June, and still hasn’t reached that threshold of 3 million per day. As recently as August, lab delays caused by pent-up demand meant it was taking so long to deliver results that the tests themselves were effectively meaningless.

      That is just the story of testing, but contact tracing and isolation were bungled just as badly. Early estimates for the number of contact tracers needed ran between 100,000 and 300,000 people working, nationwide, to alert the contacts of positive cases to encourage them to isolate. As of May, the number was under 8,000. Today, it is still just 70,000, and those who are reached by those tracers are overwhelmingly not responding. There has also been hopelessly inadequate support for those hoping to isolate, or quarantine, during periods of risk — not to mention insufficient protections for those who had to miss work to do so.

      And now here we are, nearly a year into the pandemic, making precisely the same mistake with the vaccine.[4]

    • Mitch McConnell has made it clear he does not approve of the Democrats’ bill, passed by the House of Representatives, to raise the economic stimulus payout from $600 to $2,000.[5]

      [Mitch] McConnell said he opposed the House-passed measure out of a belief it would greatly inflate the U.S. debt and benefit some families who are not in need of financial assistance. Some of the people who would qualify for the payments belong to households earning up to $300,000, the GOP leader contended, adding that many of them had not been disadvantaged by the pandemic.[6]

      McConnell reiterated his intention to bundle it with a Section 230 repeal and the establishment of an election fraud commission. Even as the Democrats characterize these other provisions as ‘poison pills’ meant to kill the increase,[7] I continue to rather strongly suspect that this is precisely what they expected him to do, enabling them to pretend to care about people being pushed into poverty[8] and homelessness,[9] but breathing a sigh of relief as neoliberal dogma is upheld, yet again.


Depression

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell prevented an immediate vote on a bill already passed by the House of Representatives to raise the stimulus payments to $2,000.[10]

As the legislative jockeying continued Tuesday, [Donald] Trump escalated his blistering attacks on GOP leaders for their inaction so far.

“WE NEED NEW & ENERGETIC REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP,” he wrote.

He also said there would be consequences for his political party if they didn’t act.

“Unless Republicans have a death wish, and it is also the right thing to do, they must approve the $2000 payments ASAP,” Trump wrote. “$600 IS NOT ENOUGH! Also, get rid of Section 230 – Don’t let Big Tech steal our Country, and don’t let the Democrats steal the Presidential Election. Get tough!”[11]

Democrats object but it appears McConnell is actually trying to give Trump all of these things:

[Mitch] McConnell’s moves on Tuesday appeared to mirror demands that [Donald] Trump laid out on Sunday. In a statement released after he signed the $900 billion stimulus bill into law, he said the Senate would “start the process for a vote that increases checks to $2,000, repeals Section 230, and starts an investigation into voter fraud.” Those are the three provisions McConnell has attempted to package into one piece of legislation despite objections from Democrats.

“Section 230” is a reference to a 1996 federal law that broadly indemnifies tech platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google for the actions of their users. Trump has railed against the tech companies as they have started to crack down on his unfounded postings alleging voter fraud in the November election, as well as much more aggressive actions targeting postings made by his supporters containing threats and disinformation.[12]

Mike DeBonis and Tony Romm, “McConnell blocks Democrats’ attempt to quickly approve $2,000 stimulus checks amid pressure on GOP to act,” Washington Post, December 29, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/stimulus-checks-senate/2020/12/29/344fa850-49d9-11eb-839a-cf4ba7b7c48c_story.html

Burgess Everett, “Trump leans on McConnell for $2,000 checks amid GOP resistance,” Politico, December 29, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/29/2-000-checks-sputter-mcconnell-blocks-dems-451918

Mike DeBonis, [Twitter thread], Thread Reader App, December 30, 2020, https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1344103713741402112.html


Pandemic

David Wallace-Wells, “America’s Vaccine Rollout Is Already a Disaster,” New York, December 30, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/article/americas-vaccine-rollout-disaster.html


  1. [1]Burgess Everett, “Trump leans on McConnell for $2,000 checks amid GOP resistance,” Politico, December 29, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/29/2-000-checks-sputter-mcconnell-blocks-dems-451918
  2. [2]Mike DeBonis, [Twitter thread], Thread Reader App, December 30, 2020, https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1344103713741402112.html
  3. [3]David Wallace-Wells, “America’s Vaccine Rollout Is Already a Disaster,” New York, December 30, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/article/americas-vaccine-rollout-disaster.html
  4. [4]David Wallace-Wells, “America’s Vaccine Rollout Is Already a Disaster,” New York, December 30, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/article/americas-vaccine-rollout-disaster.html
  5. [5]Tony Romm and Karoun Demirjian, “McConnell says push by Democrats, Trump for $2,000 stimulus checks has ‘no realistic path to quickly pass the Senate,’” Washington Post, December 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2020/12/30/stimulus-checks-senate/
  6. [6]Tony Romm and Karoun Demirjian, “McConnell says push by Democrats, Trump for $2,000 stimulus checks has ‘no realistic path to quickly pass the Senate,’” Washington Post, December 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2020/12/30/stimulus-checks-senate/
  7. [7]Tony Romm and Karoun Demirjian, “McConnell says push by Democrats, Trump for $2,000 stimulus checks has ‘no realistic path to quickly pass the Senate,’” Washington Post, December 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2020/12/30/stimulus-checks-senate/,
  8. [8]Heather Long, “Nearly 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty since the summer,” Washington Post, December 16, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/16/poverty-rising/
  9. [9]Heather Long, “Millions of Americans are heading into the holidays unemployed and over $5,000 behind on rent,” Washington Post, December 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/07/unemployed-debt-rent-utilities/
  10. [10]Mike DeBonis and Tony Romm, “McConnell blocks Democrats’ attempt to quickly approve $2,000 stimulus checks amid pressure on GOP to act,” Washington Post, December 29, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/stimulus-checks-senate/2020/12/29/344fa850-49d9-11eb-839a-cf4ba7b7c48c_story.html
  11. [11]Mike DeBonis and Tony Romm, “McConnell blocks Democrats’ attempt to quickly approve $2,000 stimulus checks amid pressure on GOP to act,” Washington Post, December 29, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/stimulus-checks-senate/2020/12/29/344fa850-49d9-11eb-839a-cf4ba7b7c48c_story.html
  12. [12]Mike DeBonis and Tony Romm, “McConnell blocks Democrats’ attempt to quickly approve $2,000 stimulus checks amid pressure on GOP to act,” Washington Post, December 29, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/stimulus-checks-senate/2020/12/29/344fa850-49d9-11eb-839a-cf4ba7b7c48c_story.html

On the second day after Christmas (Update #2)

Updates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Depression

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

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

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

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

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

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


Pittsburgh

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


  1. [1]KDKA Television, “Pittsburgh Councilman Publicly Criticizes ‘Unacceptable’ State Of Roads After Snowfall,” December 27, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/12/27/pittsburgh-councilman-publicly-criticizes-unacceptable-state-of-roads-after-snowfall/
  2. [2]Natalie Andrews and Andrew Restuccia, “Trump Signs Covid-19 Aid Bill Averting Government Shutdown,” Wall Street Journal, December 27, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-signs-covid-19-aid-bill-averting-government-shutdown-11609117841
  3. [3]Rebecca Ballhaus, “Trump Asks Congress to Amend Covid-19 Package, Boost Direct Payments,” Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-asks-congress-to-amend-covid-19-package-boost-direct-payments-11608684702
  4. [4]Natalie Andrews and Andrew Restuccia, “Trump Signs Covid-19 Aid Bill Averting Government Shutdown,” Wall Street Journal, December 27, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-signs-covid-19-aid-bill-averting-government-shutdown-11609117841; Tami Luhby, Sarah Westwood, and Nikki Carvajal, “Unemployment benefits lapse for jobless Americans as Trump holds out on signing relief bill,” CNN, December 27, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/26/politics/unemployment-benefits-stimulus-relief-bill/index.html
  5. [5]Suzanne Malveaux, Phil Mattingly, and Clare Foran, “House fails to pass measure to increase stimulus checks to $2,000,” CNN, December 24, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/24/politics/house-vote-stimulus-checks-government/index.html
  6. [6]Sarah Ferris et al., “House passes sweeping coronavirus response package,” Politico, March 14, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/13/congress-coronavirus-stimulus-package-deal-friday-128140; Tami Luhby, Sarah Westwood, and Nikki Carvajal, “Unemployment benefits lapse for jobless Americans as Trump holds out on signing relief bill,” CNN, December 27, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/26/politics/unemployment-benefits-stimulus-relief-bill/index.html; Michael Hirsh, “Is $2 Trillion Too Little, Too Late?” Foreign Policy, March 25, 2020, https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/03/24/us-congress-2-trillion-rescue-package-too-little-too-late/; Manu Raju et al., “White House, Senate reach historic $2 trillion stimulus deal amid growing coronavirus fears,” CNN, March 25, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/25/politics/stimulus-senate-action-coronavirus/index.html; Jeff Stein et al., “Senate Republicans release massive economic stimulus bill for coronavirus response,” Washington Post, March 19, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/19/trump-coronavirus-economic-plan-stimulus/; Jim Tankersley and Ben Casselman, “Washington Weighs Big Bailouts to Help U.S. Economy Survive Coronavirus,” New York Times, March 18, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/18/business/bailout-economy-coronavirus.html; Erica Werner, Mike DeBonis, and Paul Kane, “Senate passes $2 trillion bill to blunt coronavirus pandemic’s economic impact, as households and businesses gasp for relief,” Washington Post, March 26, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/26/senate-trump-coronavirus-economic-stimulus-2-trillion/; Erica Werner, Paul Kane, and Mike DeBonis, “Trump signs $2 trillion coronavirus bill into law as companies and households brace for more economic pain,” Washington Post, March 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2020/03/27/congress-coronavirus-house-vote/
  7. [7]Tami Luhby, Sarah Westwood, and Nikki Carvajal, “Unemployment benefits lapse for jobless Americans as Trump holds out on signing relief bill,” CNN, December 27, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/26/politics/unemployment-benefits-stimulus-relief-bill/index.html; Suzanne Malveaux, Phil Mattingly, and Clare Foran, “House fails to pass measure to increase stimulus checks to $2,000,” CNN, December 24, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/24/politics/house-vote-stimulus-checks-government/index.html
  8. [8]Paul Kane, “Congress deeply unpopular again as gridlock on coronavirus relief has real-life consequences,” Washington Post, August 1, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/congress-deeply-unpopular-again-as-gridlock-on-coronavirus-relief-has-real-life-consequences/2020/07/31/6d2f10c4-d36a-11ea-8c55-61e7fa5e82ab_story.html
  9. [9]David Benfell, “A piper needs paying,” Not Housebroken, December 24, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/19/a-piper-needs-paying/
  10. [10]Heather Long, “Millions of Americans are heading into the holidays unemployed and over $5,000 behind on rent,” Washington Post, December 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/07/unemployed-debt-rent-utilities/
  11. [11]Heather Long, “Nearly 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty since the summer,” Washington Post, December 16, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/16/poverty-rising/

The Christmas of living dangerously (Update #2)


Fig. 1. Glenbury Street, Pleasant Hills. Photograph by author, December 25, 2020.


Updates

  1. Originally published, December 25, 2020, 10:14 am.
  2. December 25, 7:33 pm:
    • So I went out into road conditions that were considerably less than ideal. But I was able to brake safely so kept working. And made a few observations:
      • The City of Pittsburgh’s snow plowing operation was nearly useless. I saw one plow that barely dented the slush. It didn’t seem to be dispensing salt.
      • A lot of people, even in sport utility vehicles and monster pickup trucks, you know, the kinds of vehicles that are supposed to be able to handle inclement weather, had a lot more trouble than I did. I think this might be because I have actual snow tires on my car. But also, I might be adjusting to driving in the snow. Even so, traction seemed to be getting worse in Carrick (a Pittsburgh neighborhood) at around 6:30 pm, so I decided to quit early. As soon as I crossed into Brentwood, the streets were a lot better. Once I was on Pennsylvania Route 51 traversing Whitehall, though, kinda bad again, and I’m not sure who’s responsible for that section of road.
      • On my way home, I went a little out of my way to get the photograph in figure 1. I had groused about all the Christmas decorations up around Pittsburgh without any snow.[1] The snow last night arrived just in time and was supplemented throughout the day.

Donald Trump

I look at this and I think to myself, it’s almost as if Donald Trump is trying[2] to provoke Mike Pence into invoking the 25th amendment.[3] But I also worry that this would further provoke the right-wing militia groups that have aligned with Trump.[4]

Paul Campos, “Pence Should Remove Trump From Office on Sunday,” New York, December 23, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/12/if-trump-uses-martial-law-pence-should-use-25th-amendment.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


Pittsburgh

This is, I reckon, my fourth Christmas in Pittsburgh, including two from when my parents and I lived here when I was a child. I still go by my grandparents’ house on occasion and I remember celebrating Christmas there. These are fond memories that pull me toward Dormont—and that very specific part of Dormont—when I contemplate moving. I want to be near the sidewalks I walked so many times with my grandfather as we went to breakfast (he always ate breakfast and lunch out).

It’s been over a year and a half since I moved here and I see there is some truth to what one of my passengers told me, that “Pittsburgh grows on you like a fungus.” I wish I had more time to explore what it has to offer, but being still stuck driving for Uber and Lyft,[5] I have to work every day that I can.

And so it is that I’m about to head out on a white Christmas. The snow had melted, except where plows had piled it, from the last storm but supposedly several inches fell overnight. I’ll be working. Or at least trying to.

At least the navigation is a bit easier now. At least I have my music in my car.

It is a Christmas of feeling forsaken, of realizing that the number of real friends in my life has been vanishingly small. There are two I can count; one hosts my WordPress sites. Another just texted me a Christmas greeting; she lives in North Carolina. The rest have used me for their own purposes, abandoned me when I failed to serve those purposes, or I have had to abandon because their purposes were unethical.

If it’s been a little shy of two years since I moved back here, it is also a little shy of twenty since I had a real job. It is not a merry Christmas and it is even less so as I see people suffering or facing job losses from the pandemic, poverty, and homelessness.[6] It is completely the opposite from those Christmases at my grandparents’ house.


  1. [1]David Benfell, “We’ve let a horrible year go to waste,” Not Housebroken, December 10, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/10/weve-let-a-horrible-year-go-to-waste/
  2. [2]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
  3. [3]Paul Campos, “Pence Should Remove Trump From Office on Sunday,” New York, December 23, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/12/if-trump-uses-martial-law-pence-should-use-25th-amendment.html
  4. [4]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, “On the likely departure of Donald Trump,” Not Housebroken, December 11, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/08/on-the-likely-departure-of-donald-trump/; David Benfell, “Pure poison,” Not Housebroken, December 20, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/17/pure-poison/; 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/
  5. [5]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  6. [6]David Benfell, “The modern Scrooge,” Not Housebroken, December 12, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/12/the-modern-scrooge/

Authoritarian populist secession talk (Update #4)

Updates

  1. Originally published, December 22, 2020, at 7:12 am.
  2. December 22, 2020, 4:09 pm:
    • Yesterday, I wrote,

      I would not take it as consolation that the crazy, such as Rudy Giuliani, in Donald Trump’s orbit are turning on the crazier, such as Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell. But if Trump appoints the conspiracy theorist Powell as special prosecutor to investigate election fraud,[1] take it as a sign that the crazier are prevailing. Trump is desperate,[2] so it just might happen (but probably not by outgoing Attorney General Bill Barr’s hand[3]), in which case, the prospect of an attempt to invoke the Insurrection Act might become very real.[4][5]

      We don’t have the level of confidence I was looking for there yet, but based on Jonathan Swan’s reporting, it sure looks like Donald Trump is tilting in favor of the crazier.[6] Richard Nixon was notorious for a Saturday Night Massacre, firing acting attorney general after attorney general to try to quash the Watergate investigation. Will it be a Christmas Eve massacre with Trump? Will it even take that long? And in the meantime, if indeed he’s pissing on all his erstwhile sycophants,[7] the same sycophants who previously made an invocation impossible, what about that 25th amendment?

  3. December 22, 2020, 8:57 pm:
    • For once, I agree with Donald Trump (actually, this has happened before, but it’s exceedingly rare). He doesn’t like[8] the COVID-19 relief measure agreed by Congress.[9] Not even one little bit. Too much, he says, has nothing to do with the pandemic and the checks are much too small. He wants $2,000.[10] But I’m also taking this as another sign that the craziers are prevailing over the merely crazy,[11] because this threatens to blow up a hard-won agreement that passed with overwhelming margins[12] (easily large enough, by the way, that so-called progressive congress members, you know, the ones who cover the neoliberals’ left flank, could vote against it without even the remotest fear of derailing its passage), at a time when it’s pretty clear that Trump’s stock with his own party is in decline.[13]
  4. December 23, 2020, 7:44 am:
    • I’m honestly not quite sure what all to make of Congressional Republican infighting over attempting to challenge the electoral college tallies and try to overturn the result. The thinking on one side seems to be that this is doomed, which it indeed almost certainly is, therefore they’ll look bad even trying.[14] But the failure to try further convinces Trumpsters that Republicans are not doing enough to “defend” Donald Trump, which, as I’ve previously noted, is a problem in the Georgia runoff.[15] The one thing that is clear is that not all Republicans, especially not in the Senate, are falling in line behind Trump, a reflection of a “lame duck” status that clearly stings our delusional raging narcissist-in-chief.[16]

Secession

Casey Michel argues that authoritarian populist talk of secession in the wake of Donald Trump’s defeat is really about seeking leverage to nullify or resist the policies of a federal government allegedly dominated by the Democrats.[17] As a practical matter, he’s likely right, but the historical precedent he cites culminated in the Civil War, which arguably failed to settle much of anything.[18]

Casey Michel, “What All the Secession Talk Really Means,” Politico, December 21, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/12/21/secession-donald-trump-449348


Donald Trump

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

Jonathan Swan, “Trump turns on everyone,” Axios, December 22, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-white-house-conspiracy-theories-d95450a4-c7a3-4579-a568-0473b18529c9.html


  1. [1]Jonathan Chait, “Trump Floats Coup Plan That’s So Wild Even Rudy Giuliani Is Terrified,” New York, December 19, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/12/trump-coup-sidney-powell-martial-law-michael-flynn-meltdown.html
  2. [2]Michael Kruse, “Is Trump Cracking Under the Weight of Losing?” Politico, December 20, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/12/20/trump-white-house-losing-448903
  3. [3]Matt Zapotosky, “Undercutting Trump, Barr says there’s no basis for seizing voting machines, using special counsels for election fraud, Hunter Biden,” Washington Post, December 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/barr-trump-special-counsel-voter-fraud-hunter-biden/2020/12/21/4d85f060-439c-11eb-b0e4-0f182923a025_story.html
  4. [4]Tina Nguyen, “MAGA leaders call for the troops to keep Trump in office,” Politico, December 18, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/18/trump-insurrection-act-presidency-447986; Felicia Sonmez et al., “A frustrated Trump redoubles efforts to challenge election result,” Washington Post, December 20, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/tuberville-electoral-challenge-trump-conversation/2020/12/20/1658573e-42db-11eb-b0e4-0f182923a025_story.html; Felicia Sonmez et al., “A frustrated Trump redoubles efforts to challenge election result,” Washington Post, December 20, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/tuberville-electoral-challenge-trump-conversation/2020/12/20/1658573e-42db-11eb-b0e4-0f182923a025_story.html
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Look out below! It’s a pigeon, not a partridge, in a pear tree,” Irregular Bullshit, December 21, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/12/20/look-out-below-its-a-pigeon-not-a-partridge-in-a-pear-tree/
  6. [6]Jonathan Swan, “Trump turns on everyone,” Axios, December 22, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-white-house-conspiracy-theories-d95450a4-c7a3-4579-a568-0473b18529c9.html
  7. [7]Jonathan Swan, “Trump turns on everyone,” Axios, December 22, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-white-house-conspiracy-theories-d95450a4-c7a3-4579-a568-0473b18529c9.html
  8. [8]Rebecca Ballhaus, “Trump Asks Congress to Amend Covid-19 Package, Boost Direct Payments,” Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-asks-congress-to-amend-covid-19-package-boost-direct-payments-11608684702
  9. [9]Jeff Stein, and Mike DeBonis, “Senate majority leader announces approximately $900 billion deal on emergency relief package,” Washington Post, December 20, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2020/12/20/stimulus-congress/
  10. [10]Rebecca Ballhaus, “Trump Asks Congress to Amend Covid-19 Package, Boost Direct Payments,” Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-asks-congress-to-amend-covid-19-package-boost-direct-payments-11608684702
  11. [11]Jonathan Chait, “Trump Floats Coup Plan That’s So Wild Even Rudy Giuliani Is Terrified,” New York, December 19, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/12/trump-coup-sidney-powell-martial-law-michael-flynn-meltdown.html; Jonathan Swan, “Trump turns on everyone,” Axios, December 22, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-white-house-conspiracy-theories-d95450a4-c7a3-4579-a568-0473b18529c9.html
  12. [12]Rebecca Ballhaus, “Trump Asks Congress to Amend Covid-19 Package, Boost Direct Payments,” Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-asks-congress-to-amend-covid-19-package-boost-direct-payments-11608684702
  13. [13]Jonathan Chait, “Trump Floats Coup Plan That’s So Wild Even Rudy Giuliani Is Terrified,” New York, December 19, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/12/trump-coup-sidney-powell-martial-law-michael-flynn-meltdown.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; Marianne Levine and Melanie Zanona, “McConnell warns Senate Republicans against challenging election results,” Politico, December 15, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/15/mcconnell-gop-election-results-445524; Jonathan Swan, “Trump turns on everyone,” Axios, December 22, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-white-house-conspiracy-theories-d95450a4-c7a3-4579-a568-0473b18529c9.html; Matt Zapotosky, “Undercutting Trump, Barr says there’s no basis for seizing voting machines, using special counsels for election fraud, Hunter Biden,” Washington Post, December 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/barr-trump-special-counsel-voter-fraud-hunter-biden/2020/12/21/4d85f060-439c-11eb-b0e4-0f182923a025_story.html
  14. [14]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
  15. [15]David Benfell, “The curious logic of Mitch McConnell,” Irregular Bullshit, December 18, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/12/16/the-curious-logic-of-mitch-mcconnell/; Greg Sargent, “Georgia Republicans beg Trump to release them from his prison of lies,” Washington Post, December 1, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/12/01/georgia-republicans-beg-trump-release-them-his-prison-lies/; Christina Zhao, “Pro-Trump Rally Chants ‘Destroy the GOP,’ Boos Georgia ‘RINOs,’” Loeffler and Perdue,” Newsweek, December 12, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/pro-trump-rally-chants-destroy-gop-boos-georgia-rinos-loeffler-perdue-1554354
  16. [16]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; Jonathan Swan, “Trump turns on everyone,” Axios, December 22, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-white-house-conspiracy-theories-d95450a4-c7a3-4579-a568-0473b18529c9.html
  17. [17]Casey Michel, “What All the Secession Talk Really Means,” Politico, December 21, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/12/21/secession-donald-trump-449348
  18. [18]Marc Fisher, “Confederate statues: In 2020, a renewed battle in America’s enduring Civil War,” Washington Post, June 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2020/06/11/confederate-statues-attacked-protesters-george-floyd/; Stephan Richter, “Shutdown shows the Civil War never ended,” Salon, October 8, 2013, https://www.salon.com/2013/10/07/shutdown_shows_the_civil_war_never_ended_partner/; Robin Wright, “Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War?” New Yorker, August 14, 2017, https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/is-america-headed-for-a-new-kind-of-civil-war

The curious logic of Mitch McConnell (update #7)

Updates

  1. Originally published, December 16, 2020, 7:28 am.

  2. December 16, 10:15 am:


    • Fig. 1. “‘Are we there yet?’” Cartoon by David Sipress for the New Yorker, December 15, 2020, fair use.

  3. December 16, 2:50 pm:

    • I’m back home, safely.


      Fig. 2. Photograph by author, December 16, 2020, on Lebanon Road, West Mifflin.

      I tried going out to do the usual Uber thing but found I lacked sufficient traction for safe braking on parts of Streets Run Road even as I was on my way to my first order. I got the lady where she was going and went off line.

      People are driving conservatively, quite an adjustment for me after a year and a half of 25 miles per hour over the limit being the norm (it’s reckless and an automatic suspension where I come from), but even so, I was delayed getting home due to a collision on Lebanon Road (figure 2). Lebanon Road is a heavily traveled road and there wasn’t a snowplow in sight.

    • I don’t even have any idea what to say. It’s not like it should even remotely be a surprise that poverty in the U.S. is skyrocketing[1] along with shoplifting.[2] Because—yet another utter and complete non-surprise—the elites don’t give a fuck.[3] Social scientists have only been telling us about the link between so-called “common crime” and poverty for, like, forever.[4]

  4. December 16, 8:15 pm:

    • I wound up not going back out. I looked at the weather forecast and decided that if the snowplows weren’t already caught up, which they weren’t, they weren’t going to be before morning. My Twitter feed is full of reports of collisions in the area. I’m glad I wasn’t out.


      Fig. 3. Photography by author, December 16, 2020. My idea of Christmas trees. Alive, in the ground, and unadorned with useless crap. There was a third tree that unfortunately got toppled in a recent windstorm.

  5. December 17, 10:05 am:

    • This might be another day at home. From what I’m able to gather, the roads are still a mess, with more snow expected later this afternoon.

      This isn’t an easy call. It’s a slow time of year anyway. I need to make the money I can because even at the best of times, my margin is pretty thin.

  6. December 17, 2:44 pm:

  7. December 18, 8:46 am:


Mitch McConnell

I need to begin here by emphasizing that I am not in favor of Donald Trump serving another four years. I don’t support Joe Biden either, but that’s another issue.

At stake here is a final effort among Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives to overturn the election results in which Biden won and Trump lost. It apparently requires 1) at least one representative and at least one senator to bring the matter to a vote, and 2) the assent of both the House and the Senate to reject some electoral college votes. This is not forthcoming in the Democrat-controlled House so, just as the Democrats in the House can pass bills that sound progressive but remain true to neoliberal dogma with the assurance that they are dead on arrival in the Senate, the Senate could pass such a rejection with absolutely no fear that it would pass the House.[5] Senate Republicans would have expressed their fealty to Trump and Georgia Trumpsters might be a little less convinced that Republicans have not done enough to “defend” Trump, thus improving the likelihood that Republicans would win the upcoming Senate runoffs in Georgia.[6]

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is worried that Republican senators would feel compelled to vote against the move and thus decline Trump his “defense,” leading to a catastrophe in 2022 and therefore urges senators against supporting it. I don’t understand that. Because this is in any case dead in the House. Republican senators could remain true to Trumpism by supporting the rejection with no fear that it would pass the House.[7] It would be a toothless move.

Marianne Levine and Melanie Zanona, “McConnell warns Senate Republicans against challenging election results,” Politico, December 15, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/15/mcconnell-gop-election-results-445524


Depression

Heather Long, “Nearly 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty since the summer,” Washington Post, December 16, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/16/poverty-rising/


  1. [1]Heather Long, “Nearly 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty since the summer,” Washington Post, December 16, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/16/poverty-rising/
  2. [2]Abha Bhattarai and Hannah Denham, “Stealing to survive: More Americans are shoplifting food as aid runs out during the pandemic,” Washington Post, December 10, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/10/pandemic-shoplifting-hunger/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “The mysterious expectation that elites give a damn,” Not Housebroken, December 9, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/01/the-mysterious-expectation-that-elites-give-a-damn/
  4. [4]Steven E. Barkan, Criminology: A Sociological Understanding, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006); Robert K. Merton, “Social Structure and Anomie,” in Social Theory, ed. Charles Lemert, 6th ed. (Boulder, CO: Westview, 2017), 181-190; Jeffrey Reiman, The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison, 7th ed. (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2004).
  5. [5]Marianne Levine and Melanie Zanona, “McConnell warns Senate Republicans against challenging election results,” Politico, December 15, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/15/mcconnell-gop-election-results-445524
  6. [6]Greg Sargent, “Georgia Republicans beg Trump to release them from his prison of lies,” Washington Post, December 1, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/12/01/georgia-republicans-beg-trump-release-them-his-prison-lies/; Christina Zhao, “Pro-Trump Rally Chants ‘Destroy the GOP,’ Boos Georgia ‘RINOs,’” Loeffler and Perdue,” Newsweek, December 12, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/pro-trump-rally-chants-destroy-gop-boos-georgia-rinos-loeffler-perdue-1554354
  7. [7]Marianne Levine and Melanie Zanona, “McConnell warns Senate Republicans against challenging election results,” Politico, December 15, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/15/mcconnell-gop-election-results-445524

Dealing with the devil

There is a new blog post entitled, “On social movement theory.”


Social conservatives

There’s plenty of reason to doubt the devotion of megachurch pastors to anything but money. But if you actually do believe, you might ask, with friends like these, who needs enemies?

Many—at least three quarters, according to exit poll data[1]—evangelical Protestant voters sold their souls to Donald Trump,[2] won a Supreme Court majority[3] (and a generally more conservative judiciary), but are still hemorrhaging followers.[4] “The price is their Christian witness, the credibility of their redemption by God.”[5]

Surely, it also mean the loss of even more followers in the years ahead.

Sarah Jones, “White Evangelicals Made a Deal With the Devil. Now What?” New York, December 6, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/12/white-evangelicals-made-a-deal-with-trump-now-what.html


Donald Trump

Katie Shepherd manages to draw an equivalence between armed protesters against pandemic lockdowns and the election outcome and Black Lives Matter protests.[6] This is the kind of bullshit that leads me to unsubscribe. And no, I have still not forgiven the New York Times for its coverage of the 2016 election.

Katie Shepherd, “Armed protesters alleging voter fraud surrounded the home of Michigan’s secretary of state,” Washington Post, December 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/12/07/michigan-sos-benson-armed-protest/


  1. [1]Sarah Jones, “White Evangelicals Made a Deal With the Devil. Now What?” New York, December 6, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/12/white-evangelicals-made-a-deal-with-trump-now-what.html
  2. [2]Elizabeth Bruenig, “In God’s country,” Washington Post, August 14, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/08/14/evangelicals-view-trump-their-protector-will-they-stand-by-him/; Sarah Jones, “White Evangelicals Made a Deal With the Devil. Now What?” New York, December 6, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/12/white-evangelicals-made-a-deal-with-trump-now-what.html; Julie Zauzmer and Sarah Pulliam Bailey, “After Trump and Moore, some evangelicals are finding their own label too toxic to use,” Washington Post, December 14, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/after-trump-and-moore-some-evangelicals-are-finding-their-own-label-too-toxic-to-use/2017/12/14/b034034c-e020-11e7-89e8-edec16379010_story.html; Peter Wehner, “Evangelicals Made a Bad Bargain With Trump,” Atlantic, October 18, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/10/the-evangelical-movements-bad-bargain/616760/
  3. [3]Robert Barnes and Michael A. Fletcher, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court justice and legal pioneer for gender equality, dies at 87,” Washington Post, September 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/ruth-bader-ginsburg-dies/2020/09/18/3cedc314-fa08-11ea-a275-1a2c2d36e1f1_story.html; Russell Berman, “Suddenly, Amy Coney Barrett Might Not Have the Votes,” Atlantic, October 3, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/10/supreme-court-trump-covid/616608/; Clare Foran, Manu Raju, and Ted Barrett, “McConnell vows Trump’s nominee to replace Ginsburg will get Senate vote, setting up historic fight,” CNN, September 19, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/18/politics/congress-fight-rgb-seat/index.html; Anne Gearan, Seung Min Kim, and Josh Dawsey, “Trump announces Judge Amy Coney Barrett is his pick for the Supreme Court,” Washington Post, September 26, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-barrett-supreme-court/2020/09/26/4a417d60-000e-11eb-b555-4d71a9254f4b_story.html; Mary Clare Jalonick, “Virus spreads on panel handling Supreme Court nomination,” Washington Post, October 3, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/virus-spreads-on-panel-handling-supreme-court-nomination/2020/10/03/0c43dc7a-05df-11eb-b92e-029676f9ebec_story.html; Sarah Jones, “White Evangelicals Made a Deal With the Devil. Now What?” New York, December 6, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/12/white-evangelicals-made-a-deal-with-trump-now-what.html; Paul Kane and Rachael Bade, “Democrats largely powerless to stop GOP from confirming Trump’s court choice,” Washington Post, September 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/senate-trump-court-democrats/2020/09/21/12295b82-fc1c-11ea-9ceb-061d646d9c67_story.html; Seung Min Kim, “Senate confirms Barrett to Supreme Court, cementing its conservative majority,” Washington Post, October 26, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/senate-court-barrett-trump/2020/10/26/df76c07e-1789-11eb-befb-8864259bd2d8_story.html; Kery Murakami, “Not Everyone at Notre Dame Supports Barrett,” Inside Higher Ed, October 14, 2020, https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/10/14/more-100-notre-dame-faculty-sign-statement-opposing-barrett-appointment-supreme; Nicky Robertson, “Pelosi says she will not leverage government shutdown to avoid Senate vote on court seat,” CNN, September 20, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/20/politics/pelosi-government-shutdown-supreme-court-seat/index.html; Maanvi Singh, “Kamala Harris grilling prompts doubtful claim from Amy Coney Barrett,” Guardian, October 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/oct/13/kamala-harris-amy-coney-barrett-senate-hearing; Russell Wheeler, “McConnell’s fabricated history to justify a 2020 Supreme Court vote,” Brookings, September 24, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2020/09/24/mcconnells-fabricated-history-to-justify-a-2020-supreme-court-vote/
  4. [4]Sarah Jones, “White Evangelicals Made a Deal With the Devil. Now What?” New York, December 6, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/12/white-evangelicals-made-a-deal-with-trump-now-what.html
  5. [5]Sarah Jones, “White Evangelicals Made a Deal With the Devil. Now What?” New York, December 6, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/12/white-evangelicals-made-a-deal-with-trump-now-what.html
  6. [6]Katie Shepherd, “Armed protesters alleging voter fraud surrounded the home of Michigan’s secretary of state,” Washington Post, December 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/12/07/michigan-sos-benson-armed-protest/