Scary times

Pennsylvania

It’s scary every morning now since Tom Wolf’s “stay at home” order,[1] now expanded to three more counties,[2] took effect Monday evening, as I have both the Uber and Lyft driver apps online and get no orders. But so far, the bottom hasn’t really dropped out. I’m still making the numbers come out, in part with tricks I used in the San Francisco Bay Area but wouldn’t use here if Pittsburgh traffic were normal.

I don’t know how long that will work.

In the meantime, if you want to understand how coronavirus will play out with western Pennsylvania Donald Trump supporters, read Jason Togyer’s piece.[3] You won’t get the story you’re looking for, but his writing rings true to me.

Kara Seymour, “Stay-At-Home Order Expanded As Coronavirus Cases Top 1K In PA,” Patch, March 25, 2020, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/h27o5/stay-at-home-order-expanded-as-coronavirus-cases-top-1k-in-pa

Jason Togyer, “Fear and Loathing in the Time of Coronavirus,” Columbia Journalism Review, March 25, 2020, https://mailchi.mp/columbia/the-mystery-of-caroline-county-virginia-688061?e=a9376a1225


  1. [1]WTAE, “Stay-at-home order to begin tonight for several Pa. counties, including Allegheny,” March 23, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/stay-at-home-order-to-begin-tonight-for-several-pa-counties-including-allegheny/31900786
  2. [2]Kara Seymour, “Stay-At-Home Order Expanded As Coronavirus Cases Top 1K In PA,” Patch, March 25, 2020, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/h27o5/stay-at-home-order-expanded-as-coronavirus-cases-top-1k-in-pa
  3. [3]Jason Togyer, “Fear and Loathing in the Time of Coronavirus,” Columbia Journalism Review, March 25, 2020, https://mailchi.mp/columbia/the-mystery-of-caroline-county-virginia-688061?e=a9376a1225

More of the same in 2020

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Fig. 1. Shoe, by Susie MacNelly Brookins, for March 18, 2020, downloaded from Facebook, fair use.

In early 2016, I wrote a post entitled, “Why I do not vote.”

I can’t afford more of the same. Whether it’s Democratic National Committee more of the same or Donald Trump more of the same or neoconservative more of the same or any other form of more of the same. It has cost me far too much already.


Gig economy

The drop in business is palpable. It is also showing up in the numbers.[1] And at the worst possible time. I may need rear brakes now (and have scheduled an appointment with my tire shop for 8:30 am tomorrow to have them assessed); I just dropped $500 on an oil change and tune-up.

Preetika Rana, “U.S. Spending on Ride-Hailing With Uber, Lyft Falls as Coronavirus Spreads,” Wall Street Journal, March 18, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-spending-on-ride-hailing-with-uber-lyft-falls-as-coronavirus-spreads-11584525600


  1. [1]Preetika Rana, “U.S. Spending on Ride-Hailing With Uber, Lyft Falls as Coronavirus Spreads,” Wall Street Journal, March 18, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-spending-on-ride-hailing-with-uber-lyft-falls-as-coronavirus-spreads-11584525600

Pennsylvania shuts down

Updates

  1. Originally published, March 16, 2020, 11:01 pm.
  2. March 17, 6:25 am:
    • I had not previously noticed that my interstate escapade will have to be to West Virginia. “[Tom] Wolf’s order came hours after New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Ohio enacted similar mandates, closing all casinos, gyms and movie theaters.”[1] As it happens, Ohio and New York are the second and third closest states respectively. West Virginia is the closest state and still has no reported cases of COVID-19.[2] Some will undoubtedly suspect that this is because to test for coronavirus would be disloyal to our delusional raging narcissist-in-chief.
  3. March 17, 2:59 pm:
    • My foray into West Virginia was successful and the communication disruption originally planned for last Friday but actually begun last night is now complete. I have Uber back on the new phone, but not Lyft, and from what I can see, business is well and truly dead.
  4. March 17, 4:52 pm:
    • Lyft has completed the phone number change so I now have both Uber and Lyft on the new phone. But there may still be very little business to be had with all the shutdowns.[3]

Housekeeping

The planned communication disruption is taking longer than planned.

The AT&T number is temporarily operational at present. The Verizon number is down right now. It appears Signal and Telegram are functioning on the AT&T number. My attempt to bring up Session failed—I might just start over with this.

It seems that Verizon cannot be the eSIM on the Pixel 4 XL. I have the physical SIM card for AT&T in the phone. That’s going to need to be swapped out for a Verizon SIM card and then, hopefully, AT&T added back in as the eSIM (a quick Google search says this should work). That will happen in the morning. If I can find an open Verizon dealer.[4]

I may have to cross a state line (which isn’t far) to deal with this.[5] Fortunately, Tuesday and Wednesday are the two worst days of the week for Uber and Lyft driving. These are the days to take a hit.

Coronavirus

It would seem that slashing interest rates very nearly to zero[6] was insufficient to assuage capitalists’ concerns. It sounds like they’re terrified.[7] Poor babies.

Associated Press, “Stocks plunge 12% as coronavirus shuts businesses’ doors,” Los Angeles Times, March 16, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-03-16/monday-market-report-stocks-coronavirus

Megan Guza, “Gov. Wolf orders nonessential Pennsylvania businesses to shut down,” TribLive, March 16, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/gov-wolf-orders-all-nonessential-pennsylvania-businesses-to-shut-down/

Eric Levitz, “In the Age of the Coronavirus, Biden’s ‘Results’ Require Bernie’s ‘Revolution,’” New York, March 16, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/who-won-the-democratic-debate-between-biden-and-bernie-coronavirus.html


  1. [1]Megan Guza, “Gov. Wolf orders nonessential Pennsylvania businesses to shut down,” TribLive, March 16, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/gov-wolf-orders-all-nonessential-pennsylvania-businesses-to-shut-down/
  2. [2]Mitch Smith et al., “Tracking Every Coronavirus Case in the U.S.: Full Map,” New York Times, March 17, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html
  3. [3]Megan Guza, “Gov. Wolf orders nonessential Pennsylvania businesses to shut down,” TribLive, March 16, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/gov-wolf-orders-all-nonessential-pennsylvania-businesses-to-shut-down/
  4. [4]Megan Guza, “Gov. Wolf orders nonessential Pennsylvania businesses to shut down,” TribLive, March 16, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/gov-wolf-orders-all-nonessential-pennsylvania-businesses-to-shut-down/
  5. [5]Megan Guza, “Gov. Wolf orders nonessential Pennsylvania businesses to shut down,” TribLive, March 16, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/gov-wolf-orders-all-nonessential-pennsylvania-businesses-to-shut-down/
  6. [6]Don Lee and Laura King, “Fed slashes rate to near zero to counter coronavirus as Fauci warns ‘worst is yet ahead,’” Los Angeles Times, March 15, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-03-15/fed-slashes-rate-to-near-zero-eases-lending-rules
  7. [7]Associated Press, “Stocks plunge 12% as coronavirus shuts businesses’ doors,” Los Angeles Times, March 16, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-03-16/monday-market-report-stocks-coronavirus

The panic

As of now, I am wondering if an expected communication disruption will come off today as planned. In my experience, the Pixel 4 XL should be in Pittsburgh by now for it to arrive today. Instead, as of 1:21 am, it has left Grove City, Ohio, which is 187 miles away. If it has arrived in Pittsburgh, it didn’t get scanned, either on arrival or going out for delivery. Either that or there’s some other outage that’s inhibiting updates.


Domestic spying

This has suddenly become interesting:

“It’s not a question of if [legislation preserving some domestic spying authority] passes but when,” Mr. [Mitch] McConnell said during a morning floor speech. “I hope none of our colleagues choose to force these important national security tools to temporarily lapse for the sake of making a political point, which will not change the outcome.”[1]

That seems to be, however, just what happened as a motion to pass the legislation by unanimous consent failed.[2]

Mr. Trump exerted last-minute influence on the process Thursday, saying he had been asked by senators to veto the House-passed bill. “Many Republican Senators want me to Veto the FISA Bill until we find out what led to, and happened with, the illegal attempted ’coup’ of the duly elected President of the United States, and others!” he wrote on Twitter.[3]

I guess you gotta take the good with the bad, even the evil, even the black hole of the Trump presidency.

Dustin Volz and Siobhan Hughes, “Senate Fails to Approve Renewal of Domestic-Surveillance Powers,” Wall Street Journal, March 12, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/mcconnell-warns-some-spying-tools-could-temporarily-lapse-11584026307


Coronavirus

The picture with coronavirus right now is huge, to my annoyance, well beyond the scope of a single article I’ve found, even the excellent one by David Wallace-Wells.[4] Right now, what I’m finding is mostly about effects in the U.S.[5] but, of course, this is global and the effects will be emergent.

Since the panic began, I’ve been seeing a bump in business driving for Lyft, which has kept me sufficiently busy that I haven’t even tried driving for Uber. I attribute this to three possible factors, none of which seem to be mutually exclusive. I am not able to determine the extent to which any of these may be, if at all, true:

  1. It is March. We might be coming to the end of winter, which has, as long as I’ve been driving cab (and for Uber and Lyft) been a horrible season.
  2. Some drivers may be staying offline, to avoid coronavirus exposure.
  3. Some passengers may be avoiding public transportation, to avoid coronavirus exposure.

It’s not been enough to save my finances, at least not yet, which have been hit hard, only in part by winter. My car is going through an expensive phase: I’ve already had an engine mount replaced, a tune-up is due, brakes are coming due, a Pennsylvania-mandated inspection is due between now and May, and I noticed an entry on the last mechanic’s inspection report that the “battery” (I do not know which one) is in the orange, indicating it will soon need service.

Battery service, of course, means replacement. If it’s the starter battery, I have replaced this once already for about $400 but due to the absence of independent hybrid mechanics in the Pittsburgh area, I’m now dealing with a dealer—it won’t be cheaper. If it’s the main battery, that will be an order of magnitude more expensive.

The latter possibility raises the question, is the car worth it? Apparently Toyota Camry Hybrids don’t hold their value like Priuses do. But I am unenthusiastic about buying a used car in Pennsylvania, with someone else’s rust, and have previously ruled out buying new. So I’m thinking the car is indeed worth it.

Meanwhile, as the panic increases, I am unsure that that bump in business will last. Will people indeed stay home, self-quarantining themselves? This might only be a temporary reprieve from an extended winter. On the other hand, how long until cabin fever drives people back out into the world?

I wouldn’t be getting that new cell phone if I didn’t think it absolutely necessary. But mobile data is critical: without it, there are no orders, no pick-ups, and no drop-offs. And as I discovered in California, more reliable mobile data means more of them.

In a business as marginal as this, that forces my hand.

Jonathan Allen and Steve Holland, “Life upended for Americans as U.S. scrambles to contain coronavirus threat,” Reuters, March 12, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa/life-upended-for-americans-as-u-s-scrambles-to-contain-coronavirus-threat-idUSKBN20Z1OT

David Wallace-Wells, “America Is Broken,” New York, March 12, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/coronavirus-shows-us-america-is-broken.html


Bernie Sanders

This is how Donald Trump gets re-elected for another four years. The neoliberals want Joe Biden so badly[6] and were apoplectic at the prospect of Bernie Sanders.[7] Now there are a whole bunch of votes—no one knows how many—they won’t get.[8] But, of course, you know who’ll take the blame.[9]

This is why I won’t ever again support the Democratic Party.

Ankita Rao, “Bernie or Bust: the Sanders fans who will never vote for Biden,” Guardian, March 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/mar/13/bernie-sanders-fans-joe-biden-democratic-candidate


  1. [1]Dustin Volz and Siobhan Hughes, “Senate Fails to Approve Renewal of Domestic-Surveillance Powers,” Wall Street Journal, March 12, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/mcconnell-warns-some-spying-tools-could-temporarily-lapse-11584026307
  2. [2]Dustin Volz and Siobhan Hughes, “Senate Fails to Approve Renewal of Domestic-Surveillance Powers,” Wall Street Journal, March 12, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/mcconnell-warns-some-spying-tools-could-temporarily-lapse-11584026307
  3. [3]Dustin Volz and Siobhan Hughes, “Senate Fails to Approve Renewal of Domestic-Surveillance Powers,” Wall Street Journal, March 12, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/mcconnell-warns-some-spying-tools-could-temporarily-lapse-11584026307
  4. [4]David Wallace-Wells, “America Is Broken,” New York, March 12, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/coronavirus-shows-us-america-is-broken.html
  5. [5]Jonathan Allen and Steve Holland, “Life upended for Americans as U.S. scrambles to contain coronavirus threat,” Reuters, March 12, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa/life-upended-for-americans-as-u-s-scrambles-to-contain-coronavirus-threat-idUSKBN20Z1OT
  6. [6]FiveThirtyEight, “The 2020 Endorsement Primary,” March 12, 2020, https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2020-endorsements/democratic-primary/
  7. [7]Eric Lutz, “Turns Out Lots of People ‘Like’ Bernie Sanders,” Vanity Fair, January 22, 2020, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/01/cnn-poll-bernie-sanders-joe-biden; Veronica Stracqualursi and Gregory Krieg, “Clinton says ‘nobody likes’ Sanders and won’t commit to backing him if he’s the Democratic nominee,” CNN>, January 21, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/21/politics/hillary-clinton-bernie-sanders-documentary/index.html
  8. [8]Ankita Rao, “Bernie or Bust: the Sanders fans who will never vote for Biden,” Guardian, March 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/mar/13/bernie-sanders-fans-joe-biden-democratic-candidate
  9. [9]Blue Texan [pseud.], “Early Morning Swim: Ed Rendell tells Democratic base to ‘Get Over It’ on Rachel Maddow,” Shadowproof, September 23, 2010, https://shadowproof.com/2010/09/23/early-morning-swim-ed-rendell-tells-democratic-base-to-get-over-it-on-rachel-maddow/; Blue Texan [pseud.], “Stop Whining, Liberals!” Shadowproof, September 27, 2010, https://shadowproof.com/2010/09/27/late-night-stop-whining-liberals/; Michael Falcone, “Opposite Day On The Campaign Trail?” ABC News, September 21, 2010, copy in possession of author; Glenn Greenwald, “Obama’s view of liberal criticisms,” Salon, September 17, 2010, http://www.salon.com/2010/09/17/obama_139/; John F. Harris, “Rahm Roars Back,” Politico, February 28, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/02/28/rahm-emanuel-2020-race-biden-bernie-sanders-warren-election-politics-analysis-118208; David Neiwert, “President Obama lashes out at his liberal critics: Choice is to ‘get things done’ or feel ‘sanctimonious’,” Crooks and Liars, December 7, 2010, http://crooksandliars.com/david-neiwert/president-obama-lashes-out-his-liber; Heather Digby Parton, “‘It’s always the hippies’ fault’: Why the left treats its idealists all wrong,” Salon, February 5, 2015, http://www.salon.com/2015/02/05/its_always_the_hippies_fault_why_the_left_treats_its_idealists_all_wrong/; Greg Sargent, “Liberal blogger directly confronts David Axelrod, accuses White House of ‘hippie punching’,” Washington Post, September 23, 2010, http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/09/liberal_blogger_directly_confr.html; Stephen Stromberg, “Joe Biden scolds progressives — and he’s right,” Washington Post, September 16, 2010, http://voices.washingtonpost.com/postpartisan/2010/09/joe_biden_scolds_progressives.html; Sam Youngman, “White House unloads anger over criticism from ‘professional left’,” Hill, August 10, 2010, http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/113431-white-house-unloads-on-professional-left

Imagine wanting Joe Biden to be your nominee

Updates

  1. Originally published, March 12, 9:40 am.
  2. March 13, 7:23 pm:
    • The Pixel 4 XL has not arrived and therefore, the expected communication disruption has not begun. Please watch The Irregular Bullshit for updates.

Joe Biden

As of now, FiveThirtyEight scores the endorsement race at 682 for Joe Biden to 73 for Bernie Sanders.[1]

Glen Kessler defends Biden’s record on Social Security, sort of, against Sanders’ attacks by calling attention to context: Austerity had wide support, at least within the Washington, D.C., elite—in Kessler’s phrasing, it was uncontroversial. Biden allegedly was seeking to stave off even worse cuts. And it wasn’t just Social Security.[2] It’s damnation by faint praise.

Neoliberalism remains intellectually utterly discredited.[3] To advocate it is not an intellectually honest position, but rather one that appeals to the “donor class,” that is, the filthy rich.


Housekeeping

There will be significant disruptions to my phone communications beginning sometime tomorrow.

The iPhone just wasn’t cutting it. The myriad annoyances with workflow were one thing. It was another when I discovered I was missing Uber orders because of something that wasn’t working correctly (the old sound system in my car may bear some blame here).

But what was really getting me is that Lyft is pretty aggressive about reshuffling orders among drivers, presumably to optimize overall utilization. Often, I’m in Pittsburgh traffic[4] at a crucial moment, making a turn, whatever, when Lyft does this. With the iPhone, I was having to push three buttons to get navigation back on track. It’s press, wait for response, press, wait for response, press.

So I dredged out that Pixel 3 XL I’d received on a warranty exchange, the phone that can’t handle dual SIM, dual standby (DSDS, a requirement to ensure maximum mobile data availability), put it on a cheap Google Fi plan (their plans really are cheap but they run off third-tier mobile providers), and tried running it off a personal hotspot on the iPhone.

The difference was amazing. All those annoyances were gone. Presto. Poof. Gone. And it’s only one button to get navigation back on track when Lyft does its thing. In general, the integration works far better with Uber and Lyft.

But running a personal hotspot like that is unsustainable. Sometimes things really go wrong. And I’m having to carry two phones. And sometimes that third-tier provider stuff or that routing voice calls over WiFi on the personal hotspot stuff doesn’t work so well when I have to call passengers.

The Pixel 4 XL is due to arrive tomorrow. I’m going to be going through hell getting it set up. And communication might not work as intended at that point.

Use the Google Voice numbers as appropriate for any urgent contact. The Pixel 3 XL will be unperturbed until I shut down the Google Fi plan and it has Google Voice.


  1. [1]FiveThirtyEight, “The 2020 Endorsement Primary,” March 12, 2020, https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2020-endorsements/democratic-primary/
  2. [2]Glenn Kessler, “Sanders versus Biden on Social Security: a guide to the claims,” MSNBC, March 9, 2020, https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/factcheck/sanders-versus-biden-on-social-security-a-guide-to-the-claims/ar-BB10TIMr
  3. [3]Mark Blyth, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford, UK: Oxford University, 2013); Amir Fleischmann, “The Myth of the Fiscal Conservative,” Jacobin, March 5, 2017, https://jacobinmag.com/2017/03/fiscal-conservative-social-services-austerity-save-money; Jason Hickel, “Progress and its discontents,” New Internationalist, August 7, 2019, https://newint.org/features/2019/07/01/long-read-progress-and-its-discontents; Daniel Stedman Jones, Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University, 2012); Robert Kuttner, “Austerity never works: Deficit hawks are amoral — and wrong,” Salon, May 5, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/05/05/austerity_never_works_deficit_hawks_are_amoral_and_wrong/; Dennis Loo, Globalization and the Demolition of Society (Glendale, CA: Larkmead, 2011); Thomas Piketty, Jeffrey Sachs, Heiner Flassbeck, Dani Rodrik and Simon Wren-Lewis, “Austerity Has Failed: An Open Letter From Thomas Piketty to Angela Merkel,” Nation, July 6, 2015, http://www.thenation.com/article/austerity-has-failed-an-open-letter-from-thomas-piketty-to-angela-merkel/; John Quiggin, “Austerity Has Been Tested, and It Failed,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 20, 2013, http://chronicle.com/article/Austerity-Has-Been-Tested-and/139255/; David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, “How Austerity Kills,” New York Times, May 12, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/13/opinion/how-austerity-kills.html; David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, “Paul Krugman’s right: Austerity kills,” Salon, May 19, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/05/19/paul_krugmans_right_austerity_kills/
  4. [4]David Benfell, “Pittsburgh driving for the uninitiated,” Irregular Bullshit, n.d., https://disunitedstates.com/pittsburgh-driving-for-the-uninitiated/

Lots of people will die who didn’t need to

Coronavirus

From what I can see, coronavirus is now pretty much out of control.[1] Draconian measures are being taken to attempt to contain it in lots of places.[2] By all means blame Donald Trump for making the situation worse.[3] But remember also that there are structural factors at work that are probably more to blame.[4]

Most people will suffer only mild symptoms.[5] But apparently, when the disease migrates into the lungs, the consequences become a lot more serious, including possible death.[6] That most folks might not even realize they’re infected helps its spread, which will increase aggregate mortality.[7] That functional testing for the virus has gotten off to a slow start[8] means more people will be unaware they were infected.[9] When they speak of “community” spread of the disease, where they don’t know how or from whom sufferers were infected, this is at least part of what they’re talking about: Lots of people will contract coronavirus, think little of it, and unwittingly spread it to others.[10] And as David Von Drehle points out, official disinformation exacerbates the problem. So yes, this is going to be bad.[11]

How bad remains to be seen. But it’s a solid bet that people will die, and probably have already died, who didn’t need to.

On a related note, on March 7th, I reported an email I’d received from Lyft regarding coronavirus.[12] on the same day that Mark Warner had requested gig economy companies take care of their drivers.[13] Tonight, I’ve received a similar email from Uber. This one promises cleaning supplies for cars but notes that these items are in short supply. Again, there are no details on compensation for missed work.

David Von Drehle, “If Trump doesn’t like the coronavirus news now, he’ll hate what comes next,” Washington Post, March 10, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/if-trump-doesnt-like-the-coronavirus-news-now-hell-hate-what-comes-next/2020/03/10/e478c314-62ea-11ea-acca-80c22bbee96f_story.html


Bernie Sanders

Sometimes the irony is just too rich.

I happened to notice a new Bernie Sanders campaign office opening in Pittsburgh, which according to an email I received, is at 831 East Warrington Avenue. The email includes a map (figure 1)[14] which contains the irony I noticed:
unnamed
Fig. 1. Map of Bernie Sanders campaign office via their email.[15]

Brosville Street runs downhill from East Warrington, just on the other side of Arlington Avenue, which is very near the new office. Yes, Brosville, as in Bernie Bros.


  1. [1]Colby Itkowitz, Ashley Parker, and Seung Min Kim, “Coronavirus continues its rapid spread, confounding efforts by global leaders,” Washington Post, March 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/03/07/coronavirus-continues-its-rapid-spread-confounding-efforts-by-global-leaders/
  2. [2]James Hamblin, “You’re Likely to Get the Coronavirus,” Atlantic, February 24, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/02/covid-vaccine/607000/; David Von Drehle, “If Trump doesn’t like the coronavirus news now, he’ll hate what comes next,” Washington Post, March 10, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/if-trump-doesnt-like-the-coronavirus-news-now-hell-hate-what-comes-next/2020/03/10/e478c314-62ea-11ea-acca-80c22bbee96f_story.html
  3. [3]Dana Milbank, “For Trump, a reckoning has come,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/trump-reckoning-has-come/; Ashley Parker, Yasmeen Abutaleb, and Lena H. Sun, “Squandered time: How the Trump administration lost control of the coronavirus crisis,” Washington Post, March 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-coronavirus-response-squandered-time/2020/03/07/5c47d3d0-5fcb-11ea-9055-5fa12981bbbf_story.html; Paul Waldman, “How coronavirus has deeply flummoxed conservative media,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/how-coronavirus-has-deeply-flummuxed-conservative-media/
  4. [4]Sara R. Collins and David Blumenthal, “Without universal healthcare, coronavirus puts us all at risk,” Los Angeles Times, March 5, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-03-05/op-ed-time-to-ramp-up-medicaid-to-pay-for-universal-coronavirus-care; Mariel Garza, “Why aren’t we paying people with the coronavirus to stay home?” Los Angeles Times, March 6, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-03-06/opinion-why-arent-we-paying-people-with-the-coronavirus-to-stay-home; Amy Goldstein, “Worries about medical bills and lost pay may hamper coronavirus efforts in the United States,” Washington Post, March 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/worries-about-medical-bills-and-lost-pay-may-hamper-coronavirus-efforts-in-the-united-states/2020/03/02/75825be0-5c9c-11ea-9055-5fa12981bbbf_story.html; Nitasha Tiku, “Gig workers face the spread of the new coronavirus with no safety net,” Washington Post, February 29, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/02/29/gig-workers-face-spread-new-coronavirus-with-no-safety-net/
  5. [5]James Hamblin, “You’re Likely to Get the Coronavirus,” Atlantic, February 24, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/02/covid-vaccine/607000/
  6. [6]Frank Chung, “Chinese doctors say coronavirus ‘like a combination of SARS and AIDS’, can cause irreversible lung damage,” News, March 5, 2020, https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/health-problems/chinese-doctors-say-coronavirus-like-a-combination-of-sars-and-aids-can-cause-irreversible-lung-damage/news-story/f58f19c5eeae99b845c54e2d2b9305ca; Richard Read, Soumya Karlamangla, and Colleen Shalby, “Coronavirus deaths in U.S. increase as officials send alarms about spread,” Los Angeles Times, March 3, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-03-03/six-dead-coronavirus-kirkland-seattle-california-cases
  7. [7]James Hamblin, “You’re Likely to Get the Coronavirus,” Atlantic, February 24, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/02/covid-vaccine/607000/
  8. [8]Jon Cohen, “The United States badly bungled coronavirus testing—but things may soon improve,” Science, February 28, 2020, doi: 10.1126/science.abb5152; Julia Belluz and Brian Resnick, “The coronavirus diagnostic testing snafu, explained,” Vox, February 29, 2020, https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2020/2/28/21155917/preparing-for-coronavirus-in-the-us-cdc-diagnostic-testing
  9. [9]James Hamblin, “You’re Likely to Get the Coronavirus,” Atlantic, February 24, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/02/covid-vaccine/607000/
  10. [10]James Hamblin, “You’re Likely to Get the Coronavirus,” Atlantic, February 24, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/02/covid-vaccine/607000/
  11. [11]David Von Drehle, “If Trump doesn’t like the coronavirus news now, he’ll hate what comes next,” Washington Post, March 10, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/if-trump-doesnt-like-the-coronavirus-news-now-hell-hate-what-comes-next/2020/03/10/e478c314-62ea-11ea-acca-80c22bbee96f_story.html
  12. [12]David Benfell, “Pieties for gig workers,” Irregular Bullshit, March 7, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/03/07/pieties-for-gig-workers/
  13. [13]Megan Rose Dickey, “Senator urges Uber, Lyft, Instacart and others to offer gig workers financial security in light of COVID-19 concerns,” TechCrunch, March 6, 2020, https://techcrunch.com/2020/03/06/senator-urges-uber-lyft-instacart-and-others-to-offer-gig-workers-financial-security-in-light-of-covid-19-concerns/
  14. [14]Bernie 2020 to supporters, “[RSVP] Bernie 2020 Office Opening in Pittsburgh → can we count on seeing you there?” March 10, 2020, https://events.berniesanders.com/event/260500/
  15. [15]Bernie 2020 to supporters, “[RSVP] Bernie 2020 Office Opening in Pittsburgh → can we count on seeing you there?” March 10, 2020, https://events.berniesanders.com/event/260500/

#NeverBiden

Joe Biden

In reference to a Glenn Kessler “fact check,”[1]

And Joe Biden is still defending austerity, even in the face of a pandemic.[2]

Sorry, but there is simply no defense of capitalist healthcare against coronavirus. In the face of a contagion, with a disease that can be, even if not in most cases, very scary,[3] individualism is delusional and dangerously sociopathic.

But here we are. With the candidate the mainstream of the Democratic Party insists upon.[4]

Glenn Kessler, “Sanders versus Biden on Social Security: a guide to the claims,” MSNBC, March 9, 2020, https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/factcheck/sanders-versus-biden-on-social-security-a-guide-to-the-claims/ar-BB10TIMr


  1. [1]Glenn Kessler, “Sanders versus Biden on Social Security: a guide to the claims,” MSNBC, March 9, 2020, https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/factcheck/sanders-versus-biden-on-social-security-a-guide-to-the-claims/ar-BB10TIMr
  2. [2]Marina Pitofsky, “Biden cites delays, cost when asked about Medicare for All veto,” Hill, March 10, 2020, https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/486749-biden-cites-delays-cost-when-asked-about-medicare-for-all-veto
  3. [3]Frank Chung, “Chinese doctors say coronavirus ‘like a combination of SARS and AIDS’, can cause irreversible lung damage,” News, March 5, 2020, https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/health-problems/chinese-doctors-say-coronavirus-like-a-combination-of-sars-and-aids-can-cause-irreversible-lung-damage/news-story/f58f19c5eeae99b845c54e2d2b9305ca
  4. [4]FiveThirtyEight, “The 2020 Endorsement Primary,” March 10, 2020, https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2020-endorsements/democratic-primary/

So Uber and Lyft drivers are supposed to buy electric cars now?

Updates

  1. Originally published, March 8, 2020, 9:35 am.
  2. March 9, 3:17 am:
    • I have updated the citations in my self-quotation in the section on coronavirus to reflect the articles that have been published[1] since I originally wrote that passage. My claim hasn’t changed; there’s just more evidence supporting it.

Gig economy

Previously, a Union of Concerned Scientists study found that Uber and Lyft vehicles emit 70 percent more pollution per passenger mile than if the gig economy didn’t exist.[2] The states of California and Washington are looking to regulation to address the problem.[3]

I wonder how many Uber and Lyft drivers in the states of California and Washington face a similar dilemma to my own: It’s extremely unlikely a new electric car can pencil out financially. Where I presently drive a 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid that I bought for cash, I would have to make car payments and higher insurance payments—this before we even get to depreciation costs on a new car. I have no charging station for an electric car nearby and no place to plug one in where I live, even though I rent a garage.

And I really need to wait for the next generation of batteries. The range with lithium-ion is really much too short, especially for the occasional cross-country trip; and to take care of the battery, I should only charge to between 20 and 80 percent, slowly, which reduces both range and availability. I don’t know how I’d even manage that in my present situation.

The battery technology that General Motors is still developing, with a range of 600 miles,[4] would meet my criteria if it can be charged to full capacity quickly. I would still need to make it work financially.

Hydrogen—as with the Toyota Mirai that costs nearly $60,000—would be attractive except there are no hydrogen stations in Pennsylvania.[5] Cross-country trips would be a problem, and again, this would need to work financially.

All in all, I’m once again feeling like the world presumes I’m made of money. I’m not. I’m poor.

And there are very few Uber and Lyft drivers who aren’t poor. We wouldn’t be subjecting ourselves to this abuse otherwise.

Tony Barboza, “Taking an Uber or Lyft pollutes more than driving, California finds. Next stop: Regulations,” Los Angeles, March 7, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/environment/story/2020-03-07/uber-lyft-ride-hailing-air-pollution-greenhouse-gas-emissions


Coronavirus

Coronavirus is officially a fuck-up. More people are getting sick and dying because of this.[6] And its spread is out of control.[7]

It may seem callous to discuss implications for Donald Trump in an election year. But the delusional raging narcissist-in-chief’s presidency is already vicious, lethal, and incompetent. Coronavirus adds to the toll.

As I have noted, however, this is largely a structural problem (citations updated):

  • Capitalist medicine hinders rather than helps.[8]
  • Neoliberal employment policies, in which “efficiency” is defined as low labor cost, such as those the gig economy depends upon, hinder rather than help.[9]
  • People in charge should care more about taking care of people than about taking care of the stock market.[10][11]

Yes, Trump is incompetent. Yes, his administration is incompetent. And no, there’s no excuse for it.[12] But the structural factors predate him, in some cases, by millenia.

Since the Neolithic, we have organized ourselves for greed and acquisition, principally for the few, principally at the expense of the rest of us (I would include non-human animals here) and of the environment.[13] Now, we are overrunning the planet, facilitating the spread of disease. Trump is almost entirely a symptom of that; from a position of power, he contributes to it, but he is certainly not an original cause.

Trump will be blamed nonetheless, as indeed the Washington Post does[14] and as indeed others do.

But the Democrats are now highly likely to nominate their own dementia case. Joe Biden is who the party powerful want to nominate[15] and Bernie Sanders faces a now nearly insurmountable challenge in overcoming that.[16]

And from what I can see driving around southwestern Pennsylvania, Trump’s base sees him as heroic. They will blame the bungling—and yes, they’ll acknowledge it is bungling—on “bureaucracy” and applaud Trump’s efforts to trim it further.

That’s how coronavirus plays out in November.

Colby Itkowitz, Ashley Parker, and Seung Min Kim, “Coronavirus continues its rapid spread, confounding efforts by global leaders,” Washington Post, March 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/03/07/coronavirus-continues-its-rapid-spread-confounding-efforts-by-global-leaders/

Ashley Parker, Yasmeen Abutaleb, and Lena H. Sun, “Squandered time: How the Trump administration lost control of the coronavirus crisis,” Washington Post, March 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-coronavirus-response-squandered-time/2020/03/07/5c47d3d0-5fcb-11ea-9055-5fa12981bbbf_story.html


  1. [1]Sara R. Collins and David Blumenthal, “Without universal healthcare, coronavirus puts us all at risk,” Los Angeles Times, March 5, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-03-05/op-ed-time-to-ramp-up-medicaid-to-pay-for-universal-coronavirus-care; Mariel Garza, “Why aren’t we paying people with the coronavirus to stay home?” Los Angeles Times, March 6, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-03-06/opinion-why-arent-we-paying-people-with-the-coronavirus-to-stay-home; Ashley Parker, Yasmeen Abutaleb, and Lena H. Sun, “Squandered time: How the Trump administration lost control of the coronavirus crisis,” Washington Post, March 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-coronavirus-response-squandered-time/2020/03/07/5c47d3d0-5fcb-11ea-9055-5fa12981bbbf_story.html
  2. [2]Andrew J. Hawkins, “Uber and Lyft generate 70 percent more pollution than trips they displace: study,” Verge, February 25, 2020, https://www.theverge.com/2020/2/25/21152512/uber-lyft-climate-change-emissions-pollution-ucs-study
  3. [3]Tony Barboza, “Taking an Uber or Lyft pollutes more than driving, California finds. Next stop: Regulations,” Los Angeles, March 7, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/environment/story/2020-03-07/uber-lyft-ride-hailing-air-pollution-greenhouse-gas-emissions
  4. [4]Peter Valdes-Dapena, “GM’s new electric car battery tops Tesla’s,” CNN, March 5, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/04/business/gm-electric-car-battery-400-miles-of-range/index.html
  5. [5]Department of Energy, “Pennsylvania Transportation Data for Alternative Fuels and Vehicles,” n.d., https://afdc.energy.gov/states/pa
  6. [6]Ashley Parker, Yasmeen Abutaleb, and Lena H. Sun, “Squandered time: How the Trump administration lost control of the coronavirus crisis,” Washington Post, March 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-coronavirus-response-squandered-time/2020/03/07/5c47d3d0-5fcb-11ea-9055-5fa12981bbbf_story.html
  7. [7]Colby Itkowitz, Ashley Parker, and Seung Min Kim, “Coronavirus continues its rapid spread, confounding efforts by global leaders,” Washington Post, March 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/03/07/coronavirus-continues-its-rapid-spread-confounding-efforts-by-global-leaders/
  8. [8]Sara R. Collins and David Blumenthal, “Without universal healthcare, coronavirus puts us all at risk,” Los Angeles Times, March 5, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-03-05/op-ed-time-to-ramp-up-medicaid-to-pay-for-universal-coronavirus-care; Amy Goldstein, “Worries about medical bills and lost pay may hamper coronavirus efforts in the United States,” Washington Post, March 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/worries-about-medical-bills-and-lost-pay-may-hamper-coronavirus-efforts-in-the-united-states/2020/03/02/75825be0-5c9c-11ea-9055-5fa12981bbbf_story.html
  9. [9]Mariel Garza, “Why aren’t we paying people with the coronavirus to stay home?” Los Angeles Times, March 6, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-03-06/opinion-why-arent-we-paying-people-with-the-coronavirus-to-stay-home; Amy Goldstein, “Worries about medical bills and lost pay may hamper coronavirus efforts in the United States,” Washington Post, March 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/worries-about-medical-bills-and-lost-pay-may-hamper-coronavirus-efforts-in-the-united-states/2020/03/02/75825be0-5c9c-11ea-9055-5fa12981bbbf_story.html; Nitasha Tiku, “Gig workers face the spread of the new coronavirus with no safety net,” Washington Post, February 29, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/02/29/gig-workers-face-spread-new-coronavirus-with-no-safety-net/
  10. [10]Dana Milbank, “For Trump, a reckoning has come,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/trump-reckoning-has-come/; Ashley Parker, Yasmeen Abutaleb, and Lena H. Sun, “Squandered time: How the Trump administration lost control of the coronavirus crisis,” Washington Post, March 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-coronavirus-response-squandered-time/2020/03/07/5c47d3d0-5fcb-11ea-9055-5fa12981bbbf_story.html; Paul Waldman, “How coronavirus has deeply flummoxed conservative media,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/how-coronavirus-has-deeply-flummuxed-conservative-media/
  11. [11]David Benfell, “Coronavirus shows how Joe Biden is the wrong answer,” Irregular Bullshit, March 3, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/03/03/coronavirus-shows-how-joe-biden-is-the-wrong-answer/
  12. [12]Ashley Parker, Yasmeen Abutaleb, and Lena H. Sun, “Squandered time: How the Trump administration lost control of the coronavirus crisis,” Washington Post, March 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-coronavirus-response-squandered-time/2020/03/07/5c47d3d0-5fcb-11ea-9055-5fa12981bbbf_story.html
  13. [13]John H. Bodley, Victims of Progress, 5th ed. (Lanham, MD: AltaMira, 2008).
  14. [14]Colby Itkowitz, Ashley Parker, and Seung Min Kim, “Coronavirus continues its rapid spread, confounding efforts by global leaders,” Washington Post, March 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/03/07/coronavirus-continues-its-rapid-spread-confounding-efforts-by-global-leaders/
  15. [15]FiveThirtyEight, “The 2020 Endorsement Primary,” March 8, 2020, https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2020-endorsements/democratic-primary/
  16. [16]David Benfell, “Four more years,” Irregular Bullshit, March 5, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/03/05/four-more-years/

The inexcusable hypocrisy of #VoteBlueNoMatterWho

Democrats

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez barely begins to demonstrate the absolute sheer hypocrisy of #VoteBlueNoMatterWho:

At some point, you really have to say, this is not okay:

And it never gets better with the Democratic Party’s status quo.

What happened when Barack Obama embraced and extended George W. Bush’s policies, the wars, the war crimes, the neoliberalism, the domestic spying?[1] The answer here is not limited to the crimes themselves. It lies in a bipartisan embrace and extension of criminality, a criminality directed not merely at the Global South, but domestically, at everyone who is not wealthy, white, and male. It lies not in a system of “checks and balances” where the opposition calls out ruling party misdeeds, but rather where the opposition embraces those misdeeds on the assumption that they will have their turn in power.

ESJ6LkFVUAAMScF
Fig. 1. Downloaded from Twitter on March 3, 2020, posted by a non-public user, probably on March 2.

Blessed by both parties, these crimes are now beyond challenge. But we’re supposed to be “civil.”

And oh yeah, #VoteBlueNoMatterWho.


  1. [1]David Benfell, “Barack Obama’s legacy,” Irregular Bullshit, January 10, 2017, https://disunitedstates.com/2017/01/10/barack-obamas-legacy-daily-bullshit-january-9-10-2017-early/; Cornel West, “Pity the sad legacy of Barack Obama,” Guardian, January 9, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/09/barack-obama-legacy-presidency

Cognitive Decline for president 2020

Joe Biden

It’s the bipartisan solution to political polarization:

I must confess, I had not considered the question of whether Joe Biden or Donald Trump suffers more severely from cognitive decline. I suspect this is one of those cases where the two values I would compare are so far beyond my threshold that I cannot rank them.

And I cannot be certain that the starting values, from which these cognitive capacities are alleged to have declined, are much better.


Bernie Sanders


Elizabeth Warren

Asked if she believed gender was a factor in her repeated losses, [Elizabeth] Warren called that a “trap question for every woman” in politics.

“If you say, ‘Yeah, there was sexism in this race,’ everyone says, ‘Whiner!’” she said. “And if you say, ‘No, there was no sexism,’ about a bazillion women think, ‘What planet do you live on?’“

Reflecting on why she thought her campaign did not end up garnering more support Warren said she found no political opening between the established candidates of the party’s left and center.[1]

It’s the third paragraph in that quote that reflects my perception, more specifically:

This time, [Bernie] Sanders’ prominence forced Warren to embrace his signature proposal, so-called “Medicare for all,” a politically fraught issue that many progressives view as a litmus test — but that some moderates view with alarm.

After declining to outline a healthcare plan of her own for months, Warren proposed one in November that would cost taxpayers nearly $20 trillion over a decade, according to her own estimates.

Weeks later, she attempted to alleviate moderates’ fears by releasing a second plan that called for a phased-in approach that would preserve private insurance until her third year in office.

Instead of splitting the difference, Warren seemed to lose voters on both sides, starting a steady slide in the polls.[2]


  1. [1]Janet Hook and Noah Bierman, “Elizabeth Warren drops out of presidential race,” Los Angeles Times, March 5, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-03-05/elizabeth-warren-will-drop-out-of-presidential-race
  2. [2]Janet Hook and Noah Bierman, “Elizabeth Warren drops out of presidential race,” Los Angeles Times, March 5, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-03-05/elizabeth-warren-will-drop-out-of-presidential-race