Catching up

Updates

  1. Originally published, September 19, 2020, at 11:17 am.
  2. September 19, 3:27 pm:
    • I fixed those page links, I think. It seems the WordPress export/import function failed to replicate the setting for permalinks on Not Housebroken. All I probably really had to do was turn that back on. But I updated the pages, so hopefully those are right now.

So I’m catching up. The transition to new hosting was not without its scary moments but it seems my host has been to Hogwarts. His database magic is good. It does appear some page links have been broken, so I have a bit more work to do, which I’ll get to, hopefully tonight.


Pennsylvania

Jamie Martines and Paula Reed Ward, “Why the ruling against Wolf’s covid-19 restrictions faces long odds on appeal, explained,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 17, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/why-the-ruling-against-wolfs-covid-19-restrictions-faces-long-odds-on-appeal-explained/

Meghan Schiller, “Pitt Researcher: Wolf Administration’s Pandemic Restrictions Saved ‘Many, Many Thousands Of Lives,’” KDKA, September 17, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/09/17/pittsburgh-researcher-gov-tom-wolf-pandemic-restrictions-saved-lives/


Allegheny County

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/


Migrants

Tina Vasquez, “Immigrants allege mistreatment by Georgia doctor and whistleblower,” Prism, September 17, 2020, https://www.prismreports.org/article/2020/9/17/immigrants-allege-mistreatment-by-georgia-doctor-and-whistleblower/


Higher Education

Francie Diep, “More Colleges Are Responding to Covid-19 Surges With 2-Week Quarantines. Do They Work?” Chronicle of Higher Education, September 17, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/more-colleges-are-responding-to-covid-19-surges-with-2-week-quarantines-do-they-work


Supreme Court

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

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


Back to school in Pittsburgh

Updates

  1. Originally published, September 14, 2020, at 11:27 am.
  2. September 14, 3:36 pm:
    • A federal judge has ruled that Governor Wolf’s shutdown orders in Pennsylvania were unconstitutional, violating a first amendment right of freedom of assembly.[1] The ruling uses capitalist libertarian logic.
    • I updated the satellite photo for Sally. It appears to me to be continuing to gather strength. If I’m not mistaken, an eye is now discernible.
  3. September 15, 9:15 am:
    • I updated the satellite photo for Sally. It does seem like it’s headed straight for the Mississippi River delta, which includes New Orleans. I’m failing to discern an eye now, but it seems to be taking on more of a classic spiral shape.

Sally


Fig. 1. 72-hour gif of satellite imagery for the eastern U.S. and Gulf of Mexico, September 15, 2020, at 8:01 am EDT.


Higher education

So a bunch of schools ignored the advice that they needed to remain on-line only.[2] It’s pretty rapidly gone wrong, at least at some of the schools that returned to in-person instruction in August, pretty much as had been predicted.[3]

[T]he University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, and East Carolina University all moved to remote instruction after just a week of classes. Michigan State University canceled most in-person instruction less than two weeks before the semester began. Many institutions may make similar decisions as the realities of [COVID-19] viral infection collide with their in-person ambitions.[4]

And, of course, that’s gonna cost the universities money but maybe not as much as you might think: In many cases, these reversals occurred too late for students to get their money back. The predictable cynicism ensues but it’s possible hubris and a desperation to maintain enrollment have as much to do with the decisions to resume in-person instruction as greed.[5]

A personal note, here: Even before I had finished my bachelor’s degree (this was late 2005), I was starting to see a lot of hubris on the campus (California State University, East Bay) I attended. Certainly, I see a lot of hubris emanating from Saybrook University now, which having destroyed its human science program, has lost its curricular grounding and—this is painful—seems to be going entirely woo woo.

Hubris is real. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t.

I’m seeing a lot of masked students now on the streets of Oakland, a neighborhood in Pittsburgh where (very roughly west to east) Carlow University, University of Pittsburgh (“Pitt”), and Carnegie-Mellon University have their main campuses, side-by-side, and also where University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) has three major hospitals. I’m also seeing that at least some K-12 schools are back in session. So far, from the notifications I’ve been getting on my phone, the bump in COVID-19 case counts in Allegheny County has been small. I’m hoping this works out but it’s still awfully early.


The car

So it’s another $1000+ going into my car in an already expensive year. Tires and front rotors, this time. The front end work earlier this year that, with an inspection and engine fan repair, came to around $1900, was due to Pittsburgh road conditions. I only got about 21,000 miles out of this last set of tires, also largely due to Pittsburgh road conditions. I’m cutting the wheel alignment check interval to 90 days (I put on about 63,000 miles per year), but basically, I’m losing my ass here and because so much of it is due to Pittsburgh road conditions, I really can’t blame the car. I can only blame the ridesharing driving. The trouble is that, even with a Ph.D., I have no choice.[6]


Pennsylvania

Paula Reed Ward, “Federal judge rules Gov. Wolf’s shutdown orders were unconstitutional,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 14, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/regional/federal-judge-rules-gov-wolfs-shutdown-orders-were-unconstitutional/


  1. [1]Paula Reed Ward, “Federal judge rules Gov. Wolf’s shutdown orders were unconstitutional,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 14, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/regional/federal-judge-rules-gov-wolfs-shutdown-orders-were-unconstitutional/
  2. [2]Robert Kelchen, “Colleges Aren’t Reopening in the Fall,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 18, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/Colleges-Aren-t-Reopening-in/248803; Vivian S. Lee, Vindell Washington, and Robert M. Califf, “The Bad Science of Reopening,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 28, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/the-bad-science-of-reopening
  3. [3]Tim Elfrink, “‘We’ve got to do better than this’: College students raise alarm by packing bars, avoiding masks,” Washington Post, August 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/08/17/alabama-georgia-college-parties-covid/; Lindsay Ellis, “Colleges Hoped for an In-Person Fall. Now the Dream is Crumbling,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 20, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/colleges-hoped-for-an-in-person-fall-now-the-dream-is-crumbling; Notre Dame University, “Notre Dame enacts two weeks of remote instruction,” August 18, 2020, https://news.nd.edu/news/notre-dame-enacts-two-weeks-of-remote-instruction/; Andy Thomason, “After Only One Week, Chapel Hill Abandons In-Person Fall Semester,” Chronicle of Higher Education, August 17, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/after-only-one-week-chapel-hill-abandons-in-person-fall-semester
  4. [4]Eric Kelderman, “Colleges Are Making Late Calls to Shut Campuses. Is It All About the Money?” Chronicle of Higher Education, August 25, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/colleges-are-making-late-calls-to-shut-campuses-is-it-all-about-the-money
  5. [5]Eric Kelderman, “Colleges Are Making Late Calls to Shut Campuses. Is It All About the Money?” Chronicle of Higher Education, August 25, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/colleges-are-making-late-calls-to-shut-campuses-is-it-all-about-the-money
  6. [6]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/

Louis DeJoy accused of ‘voter suppression’

Updates

  1. Originally published, September 13, 2020, at 9:52 am.
  2. September 13, 10:49 am:
    • There have been tens of thousands of COVID-19 cases and hundreds of deaths at animal flesh packing plants. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined merely two companies a mere $29,000, apparently under influence from the Trump administration. Labor representatives worry the paltry fines will function as a disincentive to safety.[1]
  3. September 13, 9:23 pm:
  4. September 14, 2:46 am:
    • I’m not sure that the horse isn’t already out of the barn, but confirming the last update (September 13, 9:23 pm), it appears the judge did indeed grant a temporary restraining order against the Postal Service.[2]
  5. September 14, 3:06 am:
    • I guess this is Sally (figure 2) in the Gulf of Mexico.

Conservatism

There is a new blog post entitled, “On ‘freedom.’


Postal Service

“In Colorado, every registered voter is sent a ballot without having to make a request and voters are urged to return ballots by mail sooner than seven days before the election. My office asked USPS officials to delay or not send the mailer in Colorado, but they refused to commit to that,” said [Colorado Secretary of State Jena] Griswold. Voters in states with similar vote-by-mail, such as California and Washington, could also be misled by the postcard’s recommendations.[3]

I had thought the card was pretty germaine, but given its obvious significance in this election, took the precaution of scanning it in (figure 1) before, as I do with nearly everything, shredding it:[4]

Fig. 1. Scan of card received by author on September 11, 2020, from the U.S. Postal Service.

Sure enough, there is specific advice there that could conflict with some states’ rules. And it really wouldn’t have taken a lot of rephrasing to mollify Jena Griswold and her colleagues from, she says, at least five other states.[5]

Jake Johnson, “Condemning ‘Attempt at Voter Suppression,’ Colorado Sues DeJoy Over Misleading Postal Service Mailers,” Common Dreams, September 12, 2020, https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/09/12/condemning-attempt-voter-suppression-colorado-sues-dejoy-over-misleading-postal

Colleen Flynn and Evan Kruegel, “TRO against USPS granted in lawsuit filed by Colo. Sec. of State Jena Griswold,” KDVR, September 12, 2020, https://kdvr.com/news/tro-against-usps-granted-in-lawsuit-filed-by-colo-sec-of-state-jena-griswold/


Animal flesh

Kimberly Kindy, “More than 200 meat plant workers in the U.S. have died of covid-19. Federal regulators just issued two modest fines,” Washington Post, September 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/osha-covid-meat-plant-fines/2020/09/13/1dca3e14-f395-11ea-bc45-e5d48ab44b9f_story.html


Sally


Fig. 2. 72-hour gif of satellite imagery for Eastern U.S. and the Gulf of Mexico, as of September 14, 2020, at 2:02 am.


  1. [1]Kimberly Kindy, “More than 200 meat plant workers in the U.S. have died of covid-19. Federal regulators just issued two modest fines,” Washington Post, September 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/osha-covid-meat-plant-fines/2020/09/13/1dca3e14-f395-11ea-bc45-e5d48ab44b9f_story.html
  2. [2]Colleen Flynn and Evan Kruegel, “TRO against USPS granted in lawsuit filed by Colo. Sec. of State Jena Griswold,” KDVR, September 12, 2020, https://kdvr.com/news/tro-against-usps-granted-in-lawsuit-filed-by-colo-sec-of-state-jena-griswold/
  3. [3]Jake Johnson, “Condemning ‘Attempt at Voter Suppression,’ Colorado Sues DeJoy Over Misleading Postal Service Mailers,” Common Dreams, September 12, 2020, https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/09/12/condemning-attempt-voter-suppression-colorado-sues-dejoy-over-misleading-postal
  4. [4]The idea is that should I dispose of anything that might be used against me in this way, the motherfuckers will have to piece together a lot of junk before they find it.
  5. [5]Jake Johnson, “Condemning ‘Attempt at Voter Suppression,’ Colorado Sues DeJoy Over Misleading Postal Service Mailers,” Common Dreams, September 12, 2020, https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/09/12/condemning-attempt-voter-suppression-colorado-sues-dejoy-over-misleading-postal

Anarchism, libertarian socialism, capitalist libertarianism, and anarchocapitalism

David Benfell, [Twitter thread], Thread Reader App, September 5, 2020, https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1302274314578821123


source on threadreaderapp.com

Archived at 2020-09-05 12:00:30

David Benfell, Ph.D. Profile picture

David Benfell, Ph.D.

Follow @n4rky

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5 Sep, 2 tweets, 2 min read

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1/2 #LibertarianSocialism, in contrast to #CapitalistLibertarianism, sees both economic and political authority as problematic. It does not necessary treat them as illegitimate, as #anarchism would.

2/2 #CapitalistLibertarianism, sees only political authority as problematic.
#Anarchocapitalism sees political authority as illegitimate.

Neither of these have any difficulty with *economic* authority whatsoever.

So how are those human sacrifices to the capitalist god working out for you?

Pennsylvania

There is a new blog post entitled, “The capitalist libertarian solution to the COVID-19 pandemic: Kill the poor.”

Stephen Caruso, “Pa. Lawmaker: It’s not government’s responsibility to ‘try to keep us safe,’” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, August 12, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/covid-19/pa-lawmaker-its-not-governments-responsibility-to-try-to-keep-us-safe/


Pandemic

Denise Lu, “The True Coronavirus Toll in the U.S. Has Already Surpassed 200,000,” New York Times, August 13, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/08/12/us/covid-deaths-us.html


Authoritarian populist and capitalist libertarian madness, the recession, and the pandemic

There were updates on the previous issue through 5:18 this morning.


Recession

The nation currently has 5.4 million job openings, according to the Labor Department, which is not nearly enough for the roughly 18 million Americans who are officially unemployed and the 33 million who are currently receiving unemployment benefits.[1]

I can’t resist noting that I have continued to make all my payments on time throughout the novel coronavirus crisis. But my credit rating still sucks—it is only “fair,” according to the Credit Karma app. I have to wonder if credit ratings are really all they’re supposed to be, because the banks are bracing for a wave of defaults[2] from folks whose credit ratings will often be better than mine.

Ben Eisen and David Benoit, “‘This Is Not a Normal Recession’: Banks Ready for Wave of Coronavirus Defaults,” Wall Street Journal, July 14, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/this-is-not-a-normal-recession-banks-ready-for-wave-of-coronavirus-defaults-11594746008

Hamza Shaban, “White House tells 18 million unemployed workers to ‘Find Something New’ in ad campaign,” Washington Post, July 14, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/07/14/ivanka-trump-jobs-find-something-new/


Pennsylvania

Case counts are spiking around the country,[3] including in Allegheny County,[4] where according to notifications I’ve received from the Health Department, there were 331 new cases yesterday and 246 today, but the Pennsylvania legislature is still determined to try to strip the governor of emergency powers to try to stem the pandemic.[5]

Associated Press, “Pennsylvania Republicans Mount New Challenge To Gov. Tom Wolf’s Pandemic Power,” KDKA, July 14, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/07/14/republicans-mount-new-challenge-to-governors-pandemic-power/


Trump family ethics

For the record:

Everything about this is just . . . unbelievably, atrociously wrong. But whoever it is going by the twitter handle “SkipperMeds” certainly captures some of it:


Psychopaths

1. How bad could Covid get in America? Let’s just say it’s not a good sign that Rush Limbaugh is praising cannibals as heroes.

2. Limbaugh’s praise of the Donner Party as heroic cannibals is not an outlier. He was in fact channelling earlier arguments made along this line by William Bennett & David Frum. As @jholbo1 noted long ago, this exaltation of the Donner flesh-eaters helps us understand the right

3. Earlier, Alex Jones laid out the logical endgame of the right: “I will eat my neighbors…I’m literally looking at my neighbors now and going, ‘I’m ready to hang ’em up and gut ’em and skin ’em.’”

4. Cannibalism is, I’d argue, one of the logical endgames of a certain type of libertarian individualism (incest is the other endgame). After all, if it’s survival of the fittest and dog eat dog, why wouldn’t you put your neighbor on the grill?

5. Is cannibalism a good solution for Covid? Spoiler alert: I don’t think so but I explore why cannibalism does provide a model for what is happening: thenation.com/article/politi…[6]


  1. [1]Hamza Shaban, “White House tells 18 million unemployed workers to ‘Find Something New’ in ad campaign,” Washington Post, July 14, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/07/14/ivanka-trump-jobs-find-something-new/
  2. [2]Ben Eisen and David Benoit, “‘This Is Not a Normal Recession’: Banks Ready for Wave of Coronavirus Defaults,” Wall Street Journal, July 14, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/this-is-not-a-normal-recession-banks-ready-for-wave-of-coronavirus-defaults-11594746008
  3. [3]Agence France-Presse, “Fauci warns U.S. is “knee-deep” in coronavirus first wave,” CBS News, July 7, 2020, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/fauci-warns-us-knee-deep-coronavirus-first-wave/; Talal Ansari, “Texas Governor Rolls Back Reopening as U.S. Virus Cases Hit Record,” Wall Street Journal, June 26, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/coronavirus-latest-news-06-26-2020-11593159630; CBS News, “U.S. sees another record-breaking day with more than 63,000 coronavirus cases,” July 10, 2020, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/coronavirus-cases-usa-63000-daily-record/; Annie Gowen, Arelis R. Hernández, and Lori Rozsa, “Young people urged to take virus more seriously as pandemic worsens in U.S.,” Washington Post, June 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/young-people-are-driving-a-spike-in-coronavirus-infections-officials-say/2020/06/27/3654638c-b7b4-11ea-a510-55bf26485c93_story.html; Thomas Heath and Hannah Denham, “Dow tumbles 730 points as covid-19 flare-ups force states to push back reopening,” Washington Post, June 26, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/06/26/stocks-markets-today-texas-coronavirus/; Jeet Heer, [Twitter thread], Twitter Thread App, July 9, 2020, https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1281071726596521984.html; Chelsea Janes et al., “Surge in virus hospitalizations strains hospitals in several states,” Washington Post, July 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/surge-in-virus-hospitalizations-strains-hospitals-in-several-states/2020/07/08/12855e5e-c135-11ea-864a-0dd31b9d6917_story.html; Christina Maxouris, “Officials say states like Arizona and Texas reopened too quickly after soaring Covid-19 cases,” CNN, July 6, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/06/health/us-coronavirus-monday/index.html; Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey, and Yasmeen Abutaleb, “With Trump leading the way, America’s coronavirus failures exposed by record surge in new infections,” Washington Post, June 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/with-trump-leading-the-way-americas-coronavirus-failures-exposed-by-record-surge-in-new-infections/2020/06/27/bd15aea2-b7c4-11ea-a8da-693df3d7674a_story.html; Lisa Shumaker and Brendan O’Brien, “Record spike in new coronavirus cases reported in six U.S. states as reopening accelerates,” Reuters, June 16, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-idUSKBN23N32O; Meg Wagner et al., “Fauci, Redfield testify on Covid-19 reopening as cases rise,” CNN, June 30, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/webview/politics/live-news/covid-19-school-work-reopening-testimony-06-30-20/h_cc7cf09eae87064e72f75af30984acd3
  4. [4]Samson X. Horne, “Allegheny County reports 90 new coronavirus cases, the highest daily total for county,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 27, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/allegheny-county-reports-highest-daily-total-of-coronavirus-cases-at-90/; Samson X. Horne, “Allegheny County reports 215 new coronavirus cases, 1 new death,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 11, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/allegheny-county-reports-215-new-coronavirus-cases-1-new-death/; Madasyn Lee, “Allegheny County exceeds highest coronavirus case total with 96 new cases,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 28, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/allegheny-county-exceeds-highest-coronavirus-case-total-with-96-new-cases/; Madasyn Lee, “Allegheny County reports 158 new coronavirus cases, 12 hospitalizations,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 9, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/allegheny-county-reports-158-new-coronavirus-cases-12-hospitalizations/; KDKA, “‘For The First Time…Allegheny Co. Led The State In The Number Of New COVID-19 Cases’: Allegheny Co. Officials Ban On-Site Consumption Of Alcohol At Local Bars,” June 28, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/28/allegheny-co-highest-case-numbers-bans-on-site-drinking/; KDKA, “Allegheny Co. Health Officials: Spike In New Coronavirus Cases Linked To Bars, Not Protests,” June 29, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/29/spike-in-coronavirus-cases-linked-to-bars-not-protests/; Campbell Robertson and Sarah Mervosh, “Pittsburgh Seemed Like a Virus Success Story. Now Cases Are Surging,” New York Times, July 13, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/12/us/coronavirus-pittsburgh-pennsylvania.html; Andy Sheehan, “Allegheny County Closes Bars, Restaurants, Casinos And All Activities That Involve Over 25 People For One Week,” KDKA, July 2, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/07/02/allegheny-county-bar-restaurant-casino-closure/; John Shumway, “‘People Don’t Care’: Recent Jump In Allegheny County Coronavirus Cases Linked To People In Their 20s, 30s,” KDKA, June 23, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/23/jump-in-allegheny-county-coronavirus-cases-linked-to-young-people/; Maria Simbra, “‘It’s Negligence’: Young People Hosting Coronavirus Parties, Betting On Who Gets Infected First,” KDKA, July 3, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/07/03/coronavirus-parties-young-people/; Teghan Simonton, “61 new coronavirus cases reported in Allegheny County, highest in 2 months,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 26, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/61-new-cases-of-coronavirus-reported-in-allegheny-county-2-deaths/; Teghan Simonton, “83 new cases of coronavirus in Allegheny County, no new deaths,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 29, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/83-new-cases-of-coronavirus-in-allegheny-county-no-new-deaths/; Teghan Simonton, “Allegheny County tops 230 new coronavirus cases,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 2, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/allegheny-county-tops-230-new-coronavirus-cases-no-deaths/; Megan Tomasic, “505 new coronavirus cases, 3 deaths reported in Pa.,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 28, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/505-new-coronavirus-cases-3-deaths-reported-in-pa/; WTAE, “Masks are now mandatory in all public spaces in Pennsylvania,” July 1, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/masks-are-now-mandatory-in-all-public-spaces-in-pennsylvania/33026253; WTAE, “Allegheny County issues new 2-week order prohibiting indoor dining and alcohol consumption at restaurants and bars,” July 8, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/allegheny-county-issues-new-mitigation-order-covid-19-coronavirus/33249080
  5. [5]Associated Press, “Pennsylvania Republicans Mount New Challenge To Gov. Tom Wolf’s Pandemic Power,” KDKA, July 14, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/07/14/republicans-mount-new-challenge-to-governors-pandemic-power/
  6. [6]Jeet Heer, [Twitter thread], Thread Reader App, July 15, 2020, https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1283451171634479104.html

Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Economic Bill of Rights and a slight revision to my simple definition of fascism

Pandemic

Megan Guza, “Beaver County among 12 more moving to Pennsylvania’s yellow phase,” TribLive, May 15, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/regional/beaver-county-among-12-more-moving-to-pennsylvanias-yellow-phase/


Fascism

There is a rather substantive update to “A simple definition of fascism.” The change to the definition itself is almost, but not quite, trivial, and I draw it from the State of the Union Address in which Franklin Delano Roosevelt laid out his Economic Bill of Rights.[1] The relevant portion of that speech is worth excerpting:

It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth- is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our Nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.

One of the great American industrialists of our day—a man who has rendered yeoman service to his country in this crisis-recently emphasized the grave dangers of “rightist reaction” in this Nation. All clear-thinking businessmen share his concern. Indeed, if such reaction should develop—if history were to repeat itself and we were to return to the so-called “normalcy” of the 1920’s—then it is certain that even though we shall have conquered our enemies on the battlefields abroad, we shall have yielded to the spirit of Fascism here at home.[2]

For those whom Roosevelt is yet one more name in a fog of history, Roosevelt got us into World War II, against Nazi Germany, Italy, and Japan, immediately following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. This is the war to which he refers. And “the so-called ‘normalcy’ of the 1920’s” precedes the New Deal which has been eviscerated under neoliberalism. Charles Reich wrote of the capitalist libertarian impulse that became neoliberalism once in power:

Every step the New Deal took encountered the massive, bitter opposition of Consciousness I people. They found their world changing beyond recognition, and instead of blaming the primary forces behind that change, they blamed the efforts at solving problems. They totally lacked the sophistication necessary to see that a measure such as the Wagner Act might be redressing an existing oppression rather than creating oppression. The businessmen who were the most vocal in their opposition had a pathological hatred of the New Deal, a hatred so intense and personal as to defy analysis. Why this hatred, when the New Deal, in retrospect, seems to have saved the capitalist system? Perhaps because the New Deal intruded irrevocably upon their make-believe, problem-free world in which the pursuit of business gain and self-interest was imagined to be automatically beneficial to all of mankind, requiring of them no additional responsibility whatever. In any event, there was a large and politically powerful number of Americans who never accepted the New Deal even when it benefited them, and used their power whenever they could to cut it back.[3]

In Roosevelt’s day, this opposition was so extreme as to lead to an attempt to organize a coup against him.[4] It is also worth noting that the International Covenant of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, adopted and, to this day, ratified by all but a very small number of countries (the U.S. has signed but not ratified this treaty), in the immediate post-war period goes even further.[5]
The revised definition is this:

Fascism is an ideology that seeks to institutionalize structural and physical violence against some or many subaltern groups on the grounds of bigotry and to increase its own public support through the exploitation of such violence and bigotry. This bigotry may take several forms including nationalism, scapegoating, sexism, racism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. To the extent that it succeeds, it acts as a self-reinforcing feedback as public support enables further and more extreme violence.[6]

The change is in the addition of a single word, classism, to the examples of bigotry listed. The idea really remains the same.


  1. [1]Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “State of the Union Message to Congress, January 11, 1944,” Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, n.d., http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/archives/address_text.html
  2. [2]Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “State of the Union Message to Congress, January 11, 1944,” Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, n.d., http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/archives/address_text.html
  3. [3]Charles A. Reich, The Greening of America (New York: Crown, 1970), 56-57.
  4. [4]George Seldes, 1000 Americans: The Real Rulers of the U.S.A. (New York: Boni and Gaer, 1948; Joshua Tree, CA: Progressive, 2009).
  5. [5]International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, December 16, 1966, United Nations, General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI), https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/cescr.aspx; United Nations, “Ratification Status: International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,” January 15, 2019, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-3&chapter=4&lang=en
  6. [6]David Benfell, “A simple definition of fascism,” Not Housebroken, May 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/06/a-simple-definition-of-fascism/

The backlash takes hold

Pandemic

I understand, even if I strongly disagree with, small business owners who decide to defy lockdown orders. The federal government has abdicated its duty on behalf of our society at large to take care of people who must sacrifice for the general good, both with small business folks and the working class and done so for the worst possible reasons. As I have said, the backlash here is entirely predictable.[1]

Elon Musk has no such excuse.[2] And he can take his ideology and shove it up his ass.

Megan Guza, “Gov. Wolf threatens action against Pennsylvania counties, businesses that ignore restrictions,” TribLive, May 11, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/regional/gov-wolf-threatens-action-against-pennsylvania-counties-businesses-that-ignore-restrictions/

Robert Klemko, Meagan Flynn, and Tim Craig, “Colorado restaurant that illegally reopened without social distancing now ordered to close,” Washington Post, May 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/05/11/colorado-restaurant-illegal-reopening/

Faiz Siddiqui, “Tesla’s Elon Musk reopens factory, defying county orders and daring officials to arrest him,” Washington Post, May 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/05/11/musk-tesla-factory/


  1. [1]David Benfell, “Yet again, a season for cynicism,” Not Housebroken, May 10, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/05/10/yet-again-a-season-for-cynicism/
  2. [2]Faiz Siddiqui, “Tesla’s Elon Musk reopens factory, defying county orders and daring officials to arrest him,” Washington Post, May 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/05/11/musk-tesla-factory/

What? You mean cops aren’t allowed to be ‘original’ or ‘creative?’

Qualified immunity

Just remember, they’re all, each and every one of them, “cop haters:”

The centerpiece of Cato’s strategic campaign to take down qualified immunity has been a series of targeted amicus briefs urging the Supreme Court to reverse its precedents and eliminate the doctrine outright. Since launching the campaign in March 2018, Cato has filed dozens of additional amicus briefs in our own name, but we have also organized a massive cross‐​ideological alliance of public interest groups opposed to qualified immunity — what Judge Don Willett recently called “perhaps the most diverse amici ever assembled.”[1]

To the extent I’m understanding this correctly, qualified immunity enables “rights‐​violating police and other government officials” to do whatever the fuck they please as long as they haven’t been explicitly told they can’t do it.

Judge Don Willett, a Trump appointee to the Fifth Circuit, has explained how “[t]o some observers, qualified immunity smacks of unqualified impunity, letting public officials duck consequences for bad behavior — no matter how palpably unreasonable — as long as they were the first to behave badly,” and sharply notes that “this entrenched, judge‐​created doctrine excuses constitutional violations by limiting the statute Congress passed to redress constitutional violations.”[2]

But originality counts! Doesn’t it?

I’m not a fan of the Cato Institute. They’re capitalist libertarians, that is, what neoliberals were before they got into power and became even worse hypocrites.[3]

But something I’ve noted for a long time is that capitalist libertarians are occasionally very, very good on constitutional issues. This might be one of those occasions.

Jay Schweikert and Clark Neily, “As Supreme Court Considers Several Qualified Immunity Cases, A New Ally Joins The Fight,” Cato, January 17, 2020, https://www.cato.org/blog/supreme-court-considers-several-qualified-immunity-cases-new-ally-joins-fight


Iraq and Iran

Capitalist libertarians are also one of a triumvirate of sometimes anti-war conservative tendencies; the other two are paleoconservatives and traditionalist conservatives. Of these, the traditionalists are the most consistent and, truly, scathing. Some paleoconservatives are neo-Nazis and white supremacists, so for at least some of them, race war would be okay and their opposition to war is to foreign war—if you believe in preserving your own segregated society, it hardly makes any sense to involve yourself in other societies. And capitalist libertarians are against war until they think another principle, usually entailing money, is more important.[4]

This article[5] is useful for an explanation of just how it is that Congress ceded the power to start wars to the president:

But, unless you’re willing to go full John Yoo and endorse “the president’s right to start wars,” imminence matters because the constitutional claim has to be based on self‐​defense. Under Article II, the president retains some measure of defensive power, alternately described at the Convention as the power “to repel sudden attacks” or “to repel and not to commence war.” That power reasonably includes the use of force to avert an impending attack not yet begun. But as you move from shooting back, to addressing an immediate threat, to “deterring future Iranian attack plans” — or “re‐​establishing deterrence,” as Pompeo put it this week — the self‐​defense rationale disappears. If the Trump administration wants the general power to target Iranian military commanders as enemy combatants, it should make its case for war to Congress.[6]

The trouble, of course, is that many such “immediate threats” have involved long-running wars: Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, that is, every major military encounter the U.S. has been involved in following World War II. Each of them was ill-advised; not one has ended in anything like victory. They are simply occasions for killing people and for spending vast sums of money on the military rather than for helping people as elites argue violently over which of them will control which territories, the people on those territories, and the resources within those territories. Which is pretty much what war is about.[7]

Gene Healy, “On ‘Imminence’: Absence of Evidence is Evidence of Absence,” Cato, January 17, 2020, https://www.cato.org/blog/imminence-absence-evidence-evidence-absence


Guns

So I was mentioning about paleoconservatives above and the possibility of race war? Fuck, here it is, along with a helping of militia in general:[8]

“The anticipation of violation of gun rights is common among militia groups more broadly — pretty easily seen in all the ‘molon labe’ patches worn by militia folks,” [Sam] Jackson said. (“Molon labe” is a classical Greek phrase meaning “come and take them.”) “Several novels that are important for the group depict war between Americans and the American government that begins with attempts at gun control.”

But beyond civil war, others expected to attend Monday’s rally are explicitly calling for a race war, in which white Americans will kill nonwhite Americans and Jewish people to establish a white ethnostate. Using the term “boogaloo” — a sarcastic reference to the 1980s film Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo that implies a “Civil War 2” of sorts — users of online forums like /pol/ are using Richmond as the impetus for the beginnings of a race war. They use phrases like “fuck all optics,” a reference to the last post shared on the social networking site Gab by the Tree of Life shooter, which has become a motto of sorts for white nationalists.[9]

I’m not seeing this rally so much as the start of a civil war as I am a harbinger of what may yet come. Though some militia movements are white supremacist, I generally associate them with authoritarian populism, and we are in a situation where I fear that the possibility that Donald Trump may be removed from office, either through impeachment or electoral defeat, may indeed provoke a very violent and heavily armed uprising.[10]

Jane Coaston, “The Virginia gun rights rally raising fears of violence, explained,” Vox, January 17, 2020, https://www.vox.com/2020/1/17/21067627/virginia-lobby-day-gun-laws-extremism


Pittsburgh

Winter seemed finally to have arrived. I went out to my car yesterday to find three inches of snow on it. The snowfall amounts were weirdly variable. Even immediately adjacent cars didn’t seem to have that much and I hadn’t been on the road very long when I saw the snow was pretty thin on grass by the Allegheny County Airport. Areas north of the Monongahela and Ohio Rivers seemed barely to have received any at all.

There was more snow last night and a warning went up for snow and freezing rain today.[11] These looked to be conditions that would make me pause before going out. But I have no choice: Thinking I was in a bit better shape than it turns out I was, I ordered bookshelves to accommodate the last of my book collection that my mother has been sending me from the west coast (it’s all here now). That’s a hit on my bank accounts.

As it turned out, it was just rain, which melted a lot of the snow that had fallen the last couple nights.

Natasha Lindstrom, “Storm to bring 1 to 5 inches of snow, dangerous travel conditions to Western Pa.,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 17, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/storm-to-bring-1-to-5-inches-of-snow-dangerous-travel-conditions-to-western-pa/


Amish

Since coming to Pittsburgh, I’ve been surprised that I haven’t seen more Amish. I expected to at least cross their territory on various trips. I haven’t.

The only time I’ve seen them, it was outside a hospital in Pittsburgh. They were recognizable by their plain dress and were standing around a trash bin, using it as a platform, eating. I don’t know their story.

From what I know of them, stories of normalized rape such as those presented here[12] are most emphatically not the picture they would like the world to have of them. The ethical dilemma for me as a human scientist is two-fold: 1) Of course, these women need support and their assailants should face far harsher penalties than they are; but 2) how do we present Amish society such that it isn’t totalized as rape culture? It isn’t like “English” (the term used by Amish to refer to their non-Amish neighbors) society has such a wonderful a track record either.

Sarah McClure, “The Amish Keep to Themselves. And They’re Hiding a Horrifying Secret,” Cosmopolitan, January 14, 2020, https://www.cosmopolitan.com/lifestyle/a30284631/amish-sexual-abuse-incest-me-too/


Gig economy

Some things are a little too close to home. There is a substantial strain of capitalist libertarianism among denizens, especially the richer ones, of Silicon Valley. What we see with the “Silicon Valley Economy,” the gig economy, is the outcome of capitalist libertarians being absolutely certain they can get their way and acting accordingly.

My guess is that California’s AB 5 is a harbinger of what’s to come.[13] It may not appear in precisely that form everywhere, but it will appear in something like that form in enough places that the non-viability of companies that rely on misclassification of workers will be pushed even further.[14] But it’s going to take a while. And in the meantime, these capitalist libertarians will continue to be self-righteous as they extract ever more wealth from a very raw deal for workers.

Lia Russell, “The Silicon Valley Economy Is Here. And It’s a Nightmare,” New Republic, January 16, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/156202/silicon-valley-economy-here-its-nightmare


  1. [1]Jay Schweikert and Clark Neily, “As Supreme Court Considers Several Qualified Immunity Cases, A New Ally Joins The Fight,” Cato, January 17, 2020, https://www.cato.org/blog/supreme-court-considers-several-qualified-immunity-cases-new-ally-joins-fight
  2. [2]Jay Schweikert and Clark Neily, “As Supreme Court Considers Several Qualified Immunity Cases, A New Ally Joins The Fight,” Cato, January 17, 2020, https://www.cato.org/blog/supreme-court-considers-several-qualified-immunity-cases-new-ally-joins-fight
  3. [3]Capitalist libertarians have the oh-so-cute notion in which political power is a “threat to liberty” but never economic power. Neoliberals circumscribe that to declare that labor power is a “threat to liberty,” but never corporate power or the power of whomever can shovel the most money at, well, especially, the Clinton Foundation. Neoliberals think political power is great for deregulation, reducing taxes, and eviscerating the social safety net in the name of balancing the budget. They gain support from neoconservatives, who view neoliberalism as a moral imperative, in part because they never suggest that the military should be cut and mainly because capitalism is part of the Amerikkkan Way, the system which neoconservatives believe is universally best for all people everywhere and which they therefore believe must be aggressively and proactively “defended” from even the most remote challenges. David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126); see also David Benfell, “The larger question of California’s AB 5,” Not Housebroken, September 14, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/09/14/the-larger-question-of-californias-ab-5/
  4. [4]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  5. [5]Gene Healy, “On ‘Imminence’: Absence of Evidence is Evidence of Absence,” Cato, January 17, 2020, https://www.cato.org/blog/imminence-absence-evidence-evidence-absence
  6. [6]Gene Healy, “On ‘Imminence’: Absence of Evidence is Evidence of Absence,” Cato, January 17, 2020, https://www.cato.org/blog/imminence-absence-evidence-evidence-absence
  7. [7]David Benfell, “We ‘need to know how it works,’” Not Housebroken, March 19, 2012, https://disunitedstates.org/2012/03/19/we-need-to-know-how-it-works/
  8. [8]Jane Coaston, “The Virginia gun rights rally raising fears of violence, explained,” Vox, January 17, 2020, https://www.vox.com/2020/1/17/21067627/virginia-lobby-day-gun-laws-extremism
  9. [9]Jane Coaston, “The Virginia gun rights rally raising fears of violence, explained,” Vox, January 17, 2020, https://www.vox.com/2020/1/17/21067627/virginia-lobby-day-gun-laws-extremism
  10. [10]David Benfell, “The least violent solution,” Not Housebroken, December 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/16/the-least-violent-solution/
  11. [11]Natasha Lindstrom, “Storm to bring 1 to 5 inches of snow, dangerous travel conditions to Western Pa.,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 17, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/storm-to-bring-1-to-5-inches-of-snow-dangerous-travel-conditions-to-western-pa/
  12. [12]Sarah McClure, “The Amish Keep to Themselves. And They’re Hiding a Horrifying Secret,” Cosmopolitan, January 14, 2020, https://www.cosmopolitan.com/lifestyle/a30284631/amish-sexual-abuse-incest-me-too/
  13. [13]David Benfell, “The larger question of California’s AB 5,” Not Housebroken, September 14, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/09/14/the-larger-question-of-californias-ab-5/
  14. [14]David Benfell, “Time for the gig economy to grow up,” Not Housebroken, August 30, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/30/time-for-the-gig-economy-to-grow-up/

Impeachment: The bad, the ugly, and the ugly

Impeachment

There is are two new blog posts:

  1. December 15: “The whiteness of impeachment
  2. December 16: “The least violent solution

Jennifer Rubin, “How far can the House go to stop a sham trial?” Washington Post, December 16, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/12/16/how-far-can-house-go-stop-sham-trial/


Homelessness

David G. Savage, “Supreme Court lets stand ruling that protects homeless who sleep on sidewalk,” Los Angeles Times, December 16, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2019-12-16/supreme-court-lets-stand-ruling-that-protects-homeless-who-sleep-on-sidewalk