Complicity again. Always complicity.

Pittsburgh

It has to be said that there is a stark contrast to be observed in the area immediately around the University of Pittsburgh (“Pitt”) and Carnegie-Mellon and pretty much anywhere else even in the Oakland neighborhood, let alone the rest of Pittsburgh. The outside appearance—I haven’t had a chance to explore inside either university—at these schools is of prosperous institutions against the backdrop of a city with decidedly more mixed fortunes. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and its several hospitals are, of course, a part of that prosperous appearance and Ed Gainey is challenging a discrepancy that Bill Peduto acquiesced to.[1]

Tom Davidson, “Ed Gainey floats plan to resume battle with UPMC as mayoral candidates tout endorsements,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 23, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/ed-gainey-floats-plan-to-resume-battle-with-upmc-as-mayoral-candidates-tout-endorsements/


Postal Service

Bill DeJoy’s record as postmaster-general makes him look like Donald Trump’s henchman[2] in the context of an effort to overturn election results that culminated in the U.S. Capitol coup attempt.[3] But even if he isn’t, there would need to be a much stronger argument for his retention than I’ve seen. Nonetheless, and really rather consistent with their decision to turn what had been a strong case for Trump’s impeachment into a farce,[4] many Democrats are considering it.[5] Why? There isn’t really a coherent explanation here except that Democrats really, deep in their hearts, don’t oppose Republicans, including Trump.[6]

Once again, we’re seeing a real asymmetry between Republican attitudes toward Democrats and Democratic attitudes toward Republicans that profoundly undermines a notion of polarization purely along partisan lines such as Ezra Klein adopts as a premise in his understanding of polarization.[7]

Kristen Holmes and Manu Raju, “Democrats now at odds over whether to immediately seek postmaster general’s ouster,” CNN, February 24, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/24/politics/postmaster-general-dejoy-democrats/index.html


  1. [1]Tom Davidson, “Ed Gainey floats plan to resume battle with UPMC as mayoral candidates tout endorsements,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 23, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/ed-gainey-floats-plan-to-resume-battle-with-upmc-as-mayoral-candidates-tout-endorsements/
  2. [2]Colby Bermel, “Judge orders USPS to reverse mail collection limits now,” Politico, October 27, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/10/27/postal-service-mail-collection-433112; Jacob Bogage, “DeJoy’s Postal Service policies delayed 7 percent of nation’s first-class mail, Senate Democrat’s report says,” Washington Post, September 16, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/09/16/dejoy-usps-delays-senate-report/; Jacob Bogage and Christopher Ingraham, “USPS data shows thousands of mailed ballots missed Election Day deadlines,” Washington Post, November 4, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/11/03/election-ballot-delays-usps/; Alvin Chang, “Judge orders US Postal Service to take ‘extraordinary measures’ to deliver ballots on time,” Guardian, November 2, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/nov/02/us-postal-service-election-mail-ballots-delays-judge-extraordinary-measures; Erin Cox et al., “Postal Service warns 46 states their voters could be disenfranchised by delayed mail-in ballots,” Washington Post, August 14, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/usps-states-delayed-mail-in-ballots/2020/08/14/64bf3c3c-dcc7-11ea-8051-d5f887d73381_story.html; Jessica Dean, Jessica Schneider, and Caroline Kelly, “Postal Service says it has ‘ample capacity’ to handle election after Trump casts doubt,” CNN, August 3, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/03/politics/postal-service-ample-capacity-election-trump/index.html; 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/; Amy Gardner and Erin Cox, “At least 21 states plan to sue the Postal Service over service delays, threat to election,” Washington Post, August 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/at-least-20-states-plan-to-sue-the-us-postal-service-over-service-delays-threat-to-election/2020/08/18/c6ca2dc6-e166-11ea-b69b-64f7b0477ed4_story.html; Amy Gardner, Josh Dawsey, and Paul Kane, “Trump opposes election aid for states and Postal Service bailout, threatening Nov. 3 vote,” Washington Post, August 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-mail-voting/2020/08/13/3eb9ac62-dd70-11ea-809e-b8be57ba616e_story.html; Kristen Holmes and Paul P. Murphy, “USPS email tells managers not to reconnect sorting machines,” CNN, August 20, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/20/politics/usps-reconnect-sorting-machines/index.html; 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; Maya Lau and Laura J. Nelson, “Judge orders sweep of postal facilities for leftover ballots,” Los Angeles Times, November 3, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-11-03/judge-orders-sweep-of-postal-facilities-for-leftover-ballots; Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Jacob Bogage, “Postal Service backlog sparks worries that ballot delivery could be delayed in November,” Washington Post, July 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/postal-service-backlog-sparks-worries-that-ballot-delivery-could-be-delayed-in-november/2020/07/30/cb19f1f4-d1d0-11ea-8d32-1ebf4e9d8e0d_story.html; Philip Rucker, Josh Dawsey, and Ashley Parker, “Tracing Trump’s Postal Service obsession — from ‘loser’ to ‘scam’ to ‘rigged election,’” Washington Post, August 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-post-office-mail-vote/2020/08/15/27a2ffd4-de5f-11ea-809e-b8be57ba616e_story.html; Veronica Stracqualursi and Jessica Dean, “New postal policies that are slowing service may affect 2020 mail-in voting, union leader says,” CNN, July 31, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/31/politics/usps-mail-in-voting-2020-election/index.html; Elise Viebeck and Jacob Bogage, “Federal judge temporarily blocks USPS operational changes amid concerns about mail slowdowns, election,” Washington Post, September 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/federal-judge-issues-temporary-injunction-against-usps-operational-changes-amid-concerns-about-mail-slowdowns/2020/09/17/34fb85a0-f91e-11ea-a275-1a2c2d36e1f1_story.html; Paul Ziobro, Natalie Andrews, and Alexa Corse, “Postmaster to Suspend USPS Changes Until After Election,” Wall Street Journal, August 18, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/postmaster-general-dejoy-to-testify-before-senate-panel-friday-11597758378; Henry Zeffman, “Flood of postal votes threatens US election chaos,” Times, July 20, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/flood-of-postal-votes-threatens-us-presidential-election-chaos-bzdvfb65h; Henry Zeffman, “President Trump might appear to have won at first on election night, Democrat poll warns,” Times, September 9, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/president-trump-might-appear-to-have-won-at-first-on-election-night-democrat-poll-warns-2rv66dqxm
  3. [3]Steve Almond, “The GOP’s Final Act In A Long Public Surrender,” WBUR, February 13, 2021, https://www.wbur.org/cognoscenti/2021/02/13/donald-trump-impeachment-insurrection-gop-mcconnell-acquittal-steve-almond; Dan Balz, “All eyes on Republican senators after strong presentation by House managers,” Washington Post, February 12, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/balztake-impeachment-gop-trump/2021/02/11/7b910ee8-6cc0-11eb-9f80-3d7646ce1bc0_story.html; David Benfell, “Riot or insurrection? Lies or madness?” Not Housebroken, January 22, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/01/12/riot-or-insurrection-lies-or-madness/; Andrew Desiderio, Burgess Everett, and Marianne Levine, “Trump on path to acquittal despite stunning evidence,” Politico, February 11, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/10/trump-acquittal-despite-stunning-evidence-468540; Burgess Everett, Heather Caygle, and Marianne Levine, “Inside Democrats’ witness fiasco,” Politico, February 13, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/13/senate-democrats-impeachment-witnesses-468992; Burgess Everett and Marianne Levine, “Senate GOP gripped by conviction vote intrigue,” Politico, February 12, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/12/republicans-weighting-conviction-trump-impeachment-468862; Jamie Gangel et al., “New details about Trump-McCarthy shouting match show Trump refused to call off the rioters,” CNN, February 12, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/12/politics/trump-mccarthy-shouting-match-details/index.html; Amy Gardner et al., “House impeachment managers emphasize the danger to Pence and other top officials in harrowing retelling of Jan. 6 attack,” Washington Post, February 10, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/senate-impeachment-trial-trump/2021/02/10/17863674-6bbe-11eb-9f80-3d7646ce1bc0_story.html; Jennifer Haberkorn and Evan Halper, “7 Republicans vote guilty, but Senate acquits Trump in attack on Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-02-13/senators-to-continue-questioning-likely-to-vote-on-impeachment-today; Amy Davidson Sorkin, “What’s at Stake in Trump’s Second Impeachment Trial,” New Yorker, February 7, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/02/15/whats-at-stake-in-trumps-second-impeachment-trial; Amy Davidson Sorkin, “Trump’s Impeachment-Trial Lawyers Refuse to Seriously Engage with the Constitutional Issues,” New Yorker, February 10, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/trumps-impeachment-trial-lawyers-refuse-to-seriously-engage-with-the-constitutional-issues
  4. [4]Burgess Everett, Heather Caygle, and Marianne Levine, “Inside Democrats’ witness fiasco,” Politico, February 13, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/13/senate-democrats-impeachment-witnesses-468992
  5. [5]Kristen Holmes and Manu Raju, “Democrats now at odds over whether to immediately seek postmaster general’s ouster,” CNN, February 24, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/24/politics/postmaster-general-dejoy-democrats/index.html
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Voting for complicity,” Not Housebroken, October 1, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/20/voting-for-complicity/
  7. [7]Ezra Klein, Why We’re Polarized (New York: Avid Reader, 2020).

Talking about San Francisco, talking about California (Update #4)

Updates

  1. Originally published, February 13, 2021, 12:29 pm.

  2. February 14, 2021, 3:50 am, revised at 11:13 am:

    • I just got home. I had a ride to close enough to Washington, D.C., that I passed Dulles International Airport and signs for the Air and Space Museum on the way. Rides like this seem spectacular, but I wind up driving back empty. By the time I account for operating costs, it isn’t that great a day, and I’m up terribly, terribly late.

    • The text previously here has been moved, edited, and expanded in a new blog post entitled, “The second farce.”

  3. February 14, 2021, 11:13 am:

    • There is a new blog post entitled, “The second farce.”

    • As I was walking back from the garage where I keep my car to my apartment early this morning, I slipped on ice so slick I was momentarily perplexed by the question of how I would even get up—there was so little traction to be had.

      I’m still hurting this morning, not quite as badly, but still. It’s right on that threshold where I’m wondering if I should be calling a doctor.

      I missed a lot of work and dug deep into my remaining savings replacing tires, struts, and shocks, and then to keep myself afloat while the body shop repaired my car after some idiot backed into it. And it looks like the weather might be bad enough to keep me home tomorrow anyway. Taxes are coming up and I really can’t afford to take more time off.

      And that’s the thing. I’m well aware that this rideshare driving is ultimately unsustainable. The car gets totaled or I get hurt or I just plain get too fucking old to work anymore. I really don’t have the margin to just stop working.

  4. February 14, 2021, 12:29 pm:

    • Politico has more on the Democrats’ flip-flop on witnesses.[1] and I am now citing this in the new blog post entitled, “The second farce.”

    • I feel a little better after a hot shower. I think calling a doctor will not be necessary.

  5. February 14, 2021, 10:14 pm:

    • It looks like I’m going to be hiding out at home tomorrow. A major storm is moving in, predicted to dump prodigious quantities of snow and ice. I’m still recovering from the fall in the wee hours this morning, would prefer not to exacerbate those injuries, and would prefer not to wreck my car.

    • One of the wackier figures in Donald Trump’s orbit is a conspiracy theorist and lawyer, Lin Wood. He has published a complaint from the Georgia State Bar against him that weighs in at over 1,600 pages and requests an evaluation of his mental health. The complaint is marked confidential but Wood is using it to raise funds.[2]


San Francisco

There is a new blog post entitled, “The California nightmare.”

Julia Wick, “Talking San Francisco with the city’s new poet laureate,” Los Angeles Times, February 12, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/newsletter/2021-02-12/tongo-eisen-martin-san-francisco-poet-laureate-essential-california


Donald Trump

The Senate voted to call witnesses in Donald Trump’s impeachment,[3] apparently in response to a story of Trump’s phone call to Kevin McCarthy,[4] then Democrats chickened out.[5]

Jennifer Haberkorn and Evan Halper, “7 Republicans vote guilty, but Senate acquits Trump in attack on Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-02-13/senators-to-continue-questioning-likely-to-vote-on-impeachment-today

David Cohen, “Georgia State Bar seeking to discipline Lin Wood,” Politico, February 14, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/14/lin-wood-georgia-469015


  1. [1]Burgess Everett, Heather Caygle, and Marianne Levine, “Inside Democrats’ witness fiasco,” Politico, February 13, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/13/senate-democrats-impeachment-witnesses-468992
  2. [2]David Cohen, “Georgia State Bar seeking to discipline Lin Wood,” Politico, February 14, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/14/lin-wood-georgia-469015
  3. [3]Jennifer Haberkorn and Evan Halper, “7 Republicans vote guilty, but Senate acquits Trump in attack on Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-02-13/senators-to-continue-questioning-likely-to-vote-on-impeachment-today
  4. [4]Jamie Gangel et al., “New details about Trump-McCarthy shouting match show Trump refused to call off the rioters,” CNN, February 12, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/12/politics/trump-mccarthy-shouting-match-details/index.html
  5. [5]Jennifer Haberkorn and Evan Halper, “7 Republicans vote guilty, but Senate acquits Trump in attack on Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-02-13/senators-to-continue-questioning-likely-to-vote-on-impeachment-today

More like a coup than I thought (Update #2)

Updates

  1. Originally published, January 18, 2021, 2:45 pm.
  2. January 18, 2021, 10:54 pm:
    • I’ve added some relevant reading below.


Donald Trump

I remain inclined[1] to think the U.S. Capitol riot on January 6[2] falls short of a coup,[3] but evidence is accumulating that the rioters were better prepared than I initially understood.[4] Doubts about police preparation, particularly relative to those for Black Lives Matter Protests, persist,[5] but

[Police] weren’t just facing an unruly protest, and they weren’t just underprepared—they were in a battle against a more organized and coordinated force than they had realized. A stunning Washington Post report lays out the scene. “Everything they did was in a military fashion,” a D.C. police commander said. One officer was overcome by protesters and heard rioters shout, “We got one! We got one! Kill him with his own gun!” Brian Sicknick, the officer who died of injuries sustained in the attack, was reportedly beaten with a fire extinguisher. . . .

“I didn’t want to be the guy who starts shooting, because I knew they had guns—we had been seizing guns all day,” Daniel Hodges, a D.C. police officer, told the Post. “And the only reason I could think of that they weren’t shooting us was they were waiting for us to shoot first. And if it became a firefight between a couple hundred officers and a couple thousand demonstrators, we would have lost.”

Once inside, some putschists were prepared. They came with schematics and maps of the building, and set about their work with purpose. Some wore tactical gear and carried flex ties, which would have been useful for kidnapping and hostage-taking. If not for the quick thinking of the Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman, who drew a column away from the Senate floor, they might have walked through the unlocked doors and into a chamber still filled with lawmakers.

Only on Friday did it become clear how much danger [Mike] Pence had been in. Secret Service officers whisked Pence and his family to a hideaway in the Capitol—but just one minute before Goodman made his stand, and only about 100 feet from the stairs up which the officer was chased by the mob, according to the Post.[6]

The objection I’ve been raising is that even if more successful, this attack still would not have reversed the outcome. Nonetheless, it appears that the rioters actually believed they could compel such a result,[7] even if their plan for doing so was incoherent.

In truth, I don’t know if this is really a failing: Pretty consistently throughout my life, I have expected things to make more sense than they do and I have expected people to be more intelligent than they are. When my threshold is not met, I am dismissive. My evaluation of this riot would be another example.


Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.],” University of Pennsylvania, April 16, 1963, http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html

Zaid Jilani, “Martin Luther King Jr. Celebrations Overlook His Critiques of Capitalism and Militarism,” Intercept, January 18, 2016, https://theintercept.com/2016/01/18/martin-luther-king-jr-celebrations-overlook-his-critiques-of-capitalism-and-militarism/


  1. [1]David Benfell, “Riot or insurrection? Lies or madness?” Not Housebroken, January 17, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/01/12/riot-or-insurrection-lies-or-madness/
  2. [2]Jeremy Herb et al., “Congress completes electoral count, finalizing Biden’s win after violent delay from pro-Trump mob,” CNN, January 7, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/2020-election-congress-electoral-college-vote-count/index.html
  3. [3]Nicolás Rivero, “Is America experiencing a coup?” Quartz, January 6, 2021, https://qz.com/1953602/is-america-experiencing-a-coup/
  4. [4]David A. Graham, “We’re Just Finding Out How Bad the Riot Really Was,” Atlantic, January 16, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/01/it-was-much-worse-it-looked/617693/; Craig Timberg, Drew Harwell, and Marissa J. Lang, “Capitol siege was planned online. Trump supporters now planning the next one,” Washington Post, January 9, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/01/09/trump-twitter-protests/
  5. [5]Kyle Cheney, Sarah Ferris, and Laura Barrón-López, “‘Inside job’: House Dems ask if Capitol rioters had hidden help,” Politico, January 8, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/08/congress-democrats-capitol-riot-inside-job-456725; David A. Graham, “We’re Just Finding Out How Bad the Riot Really Was,” Atlantic, January 16, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/01/it-was-much-worse-it-looked/617693/; Maggie Koerth, “The Police’s Tepid Response To The Capitol Breach Wasn’t An Aberration,” FiveThirtyEight, January 7, 2021, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-polices-tepid-response-to-the-capitol-breach-wasnt-an-aberration/; Michael Kranish, Karoun Demirjian, and Devlin Barrett, “Democrats demand investigation of whether Republicans in Congress aided Capitol rioters,” Washington Post, January 13, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/republicans-capitol-rioters/2021/01/13/9737a336-55e2-11eb-a931-5b162d0d033d_story.html; Kurtis Lee, Jaweed Kaleem, and Laura King, “‘White supremacy was on full display.’ Double standard seen in police response to riot at Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, January 7, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-01-07/la-na-washington-capitol-police-attack-race; Jonathan Stevenson, “Trump’s Lingering Menace,” New York Review of Books, January 9, 2021, https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2021/01/09/trumps-lingering-menace/
  6. [6]David A. Graham, “We’re Just Finding Out How Bad the Riot Really Was,” Atlantic, January 16, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/01/it-was-much-worse-it-looked/617693/
  7. [7]David A. Graham, “We’re Just Finding Out How Bad the Riot Really Was,” Atlantic, January 16, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/01/it-was-much-worse-it-looked/617693/

Racism and the January 6, 2021, insurrection

Donald Trump

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  1. [1]Gerald F. Seib, “Where Trump Came From—and Where Trumpism Is Going,” Wall Street Journal, January 15, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/where-trump-came-fromand-where-trumpism-is-going-11610726416
  2. [2]David Benfell, “Barack Obama asks, ‘Why is it that the folks that won the last election are so mad all the time?’ Not Housebroken, November 4, 2018, https://disunitedstates.org/2018/11/04/barack-obama-asks-why-is-it-that-the-folks-that-won-the-last-election-are-so-mad-all-the-time/
  3. [3]Fritjof Capra, The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems (New York: Anchor, 1996); Joanna Macy, Mutual Causality in Buddhism and General Systems Theory (Delhi, India: Sri Satguru, 1995); Edgar Morin, On Complexity (Cresskill, NJ: Hampton, 2008).
  4. [4]Kyle Cheney, Sarah Ferris, and Laura Barrón-López, “‘Inside job’: House Dems ask if Capitol rioters had hidden help,” Politico, January 8, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/08/congress-democrats-capitol-riot-inside-job-456725; Kurtis Lee, Jaweed Kaleem, and Laura King, “‘White supremacy was on full display.’ Double standard seen in police response to riot at Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, January 7, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-01-07/la-na-washington-capitol-police-attack-race; Matt Stieb, “Capitol Police Suspends Cops for Allegedly Siding With Pro-Trump Mob,” New York, January 11, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/01/two-capitol-cops-suspended-for-actions-during-capitol-riot.html
  5. [5]Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, “FBI report warned of ‘war’ at Capitol, contradicting claims there was no indication of looming violence,” Washington Post, January 12, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/capitol-riot-fbi-intelligence/2021/01/12/30d12748-546b-11eb-a817-e5e7f8a406d6_story.html
  6. [6]Carol D. Leonnig, “Capitol Police intelligence report warned three days before attack that ‘Congress itself’ could be targeted,” Washington Post, January 15, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/capitol-police-intelligence-warning/2021/01/15/c8b50744-5742-11eb-a08b-f1381ef3d207_story.html
  7. [7]Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, “FBI report warned of ‘war’ at Capitol, contradicting claims there was no indication of looming violence,” Washington Post, January 12, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/capitol-riot-fbi-intelligence/2021/01/12/30d12748-546b-11eb-a817-e5e7f8a406d6_story.html; Carol D. Leonnig, “Capitol Police intelligence report warned three days before attack that ‘Congress itself’ could be targeted,” Washington Post, January 15, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/capitol-police-intelligence-warning/2021/01/15/c8b50744-5742-11eb-a08b-f1381ef3d207_story.html
  8. [8]Mary McCord, quoted in Carol D. Leonnig, “Capitol Police intelligence report warned three days before attack that ‘Congress itself’ could be targeted,” Washington Post, January 15, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/capitol-police-intelligence-warning/2021/01/15/c8b50744-5742-11eb-a08b-f1381ef3d207_story.html
  9. [9]Jonathan Stevenson, “Trump’s Lingering Menace,” New York Review of Books, January 9, 2021, https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2021/01/09/trumps-lingering-menace/
  10. [10]Fiona Hill, “Yes, It Was a Coup. Here’s Why,” Politico, January 11, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/01/11/capitol-riot-self-coup-trump-fiona-hill-457549
  11. [11]Jennifer Haberkorn, “Republicans block House resolution calling on Pence to remove Trump over Capitol riot,” Los Angeles Times, January 11, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-01-11/republicans-block-house-resolution-to-call-on-pence-to-remove-trump-over-capitol-riot; Ron Kampeas, “Biden: Capitol marauders are ‘thugs, insurrectionists and anti-Semites’ who should be prosecuted,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 8, 2021, https://www.jta.org/quick-reads/biden-capitol-marauders-are-thugs-insurrectionists-and-anti-semites-who-should-be-prosecuted; Andrew G. McCabe and David C. Williams, “Trump’s New Criminal Problem,” Politico, January 11, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/01/11/trumps-new-criminal-problem-457298; Seren Morris, “What Does Insurrection or Sedition Mean? Definition of Words Used To Describe Capitol Riot,” Newsweek, January 7, 2021, https://www.newsweek.com/what-does-insurrection-sedition-mean-definition-capitol-riot-1559745
  12. [12]Jonathan Stevenson, “Trump’s Lingering Menace,” New York Review of Books, January 9, 2021, https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2021/01/09/trumps-lingering-menace/

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

Donald Trump

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

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

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

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

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


Iran

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


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

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

Updates

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

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

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

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

Donald Trump

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Allegheny County

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

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


  1. [1]Ted Barrett, Manu Raju, and Peter Nickeas, “US Capitol secured, woman dead after rioters stormed the halls of Congress to block Biden’s win,” CNN, January 6, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/us-capitol-lockdown/index.html; Talia Lavin, “The Violent Crescendo of the MAGA Conspiracies,” New Republic, January 6, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/160814/trump-protesters-attack-us-capital
  2. [2]Talia Lavin, “The Violent Crescendo of the MAGA Conspiracies,” New Republic, January 6, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/160814/trump-protesters-attack-us-capital
  3. [3]Joshua Jamerson, Cameron McWhirter, and Valerie Bauerlein, “Georgia Senate Wins by Democrats Followed Years of Party Organizing,” Wall Street Journal, January 6, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/democrats-make-historic-gain-in-georgia-as-senate-control-hangs-in-balance-11609941722
  4. [4]Alana Wise, “Senate Rejects Objection To Arizona Election Results,” National Public Radio, January 6, 2021, https://www.npr.org/sections/congress-electoral-college-tally-live-updates/2021/01/06/954164654/congress-reconvenes-after-violent-rioters-breach-u-s-capitol
  5. [5]Ted Barrett, Manu Raju, and Peter Nickeas, “US Capitol secured, woman dead after rioters stormed the halls of Congress to block Biden’s win,” CNN, January 6, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/us-capitol-lockdown/index.html
  6. [6]Margi Murphy, “Facebook, Instagram and Twitter lock Donald Trump’s accounts after praise for Capitol Hill rioters,” Telegraph, January 7, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2021/01/06/calls-twitter-facebook-mute-donald-trump-violence-breaks-capitol/
  7. [7]Jeremy Herb et al., “Congress completes electoral count, finalizing Biden’s win after violent delay from pro-Trump mob,” CNN, January 7, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/2020-election-congress-electoral-college-vote-count/index.html
  8. [8]Allie Malloy and Veronica Stracqualursi, “Trump pledges ‘orderly’ transition after riot and Biden win certification,” CNN, January 7, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/07/politics/trump-biden-us-capitol-electoral-college-insurrection/index.html
  9. [9]Associated Press, “Gun-toting far-right protesters try to force their way into Oregon’s Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, December 22, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-12-22/tensions-rise-inside-and-outside-of-oregons-capitol; Ted Barrett, Manu Raju, and Peter Nickeas, “US Capitol secured, woman dead after rioters stormed the halls of Congress to block Biden’s win,” CNN, January 6, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/us-capitol-lockdown/index.html; Rod Dreher, “Eric Metaxas’s American Apocalypse,” American Conservative, December 10, 2020, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/eric-metaxas-trump-bloodshed-american-apocalypse-live-not-by-lies/; Peter Hermann, Marissa J. Lang, and Clarence Williams, “Pro-Trump rally descends into chaos as Proud Boys roam D.C. looking to fight,” Washington Post, December 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/proud-boys-protest-stabbing-arrest/2020/12/13/98c0f740-3d3f-11eb-8db8-395dedaaa036_story.html; Hannah Knowles, Annie Gowen, and Tom Hamburger, “‘A dark, empty place:’ Public officials face personal threats as tensions flare,” Washington Post, December 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/public-officials-threatened-covid-election/2020/12/13/680bd380-3be7-11eb-bc68-96af0daae728_story.html; Talia Lavin, “The Violent Crescendo of the MAGA Conspiracies,” New Republic, January 6, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/160814/trump-protesters-attack-us-capital; Sophie Lewis, “Arizona Republican Party asks followers if they’re willing to die to overturn election results,” CBS News, December 10, 2020, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/arizona-republican-party-twitter-election-results-death-overturn/; Ciara O’Rourke, “How Oath Keepers Are Quietly Infiltrating Local Government,” Politico, December 9, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/12/09/oath-keepers-far-right-group-infiltrate-local-government-texas-443773; Katie Shepherd, “Armed protesters alleging voter fraud surrounded the home of Michigan’s secretary of state,” Washington Post, December 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/12/07/michigan-sos-benson-armed-protest/
  10. [10]Rebecca Tan et al., “Trump supporters storm U.S. Capitol, with one woman killed and tear gas fired,” Washington Post, January 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trump-supporters-storm-capitol-dc/2021/01/06/58afc0b8-504b-11eb-83e3-322644d82356_story.html
  11. [11]Rebecca Tan et al., “Trump supporters storm U.S. Capitol, with one woman killed and tear gas fired,” Washington Post, January 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trump-supporters-storm-capitol-dc/2021/01/06/58afc0b8-504b-11eb-83e3-322644d82356_story.html
  12. [12]Jeremy Herb et al., “Congress completes electoral count, finalizing Biden’s win after violent delay from pro-Trump mob,” CNN, January 7, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/2020-election-congress-electoral-college-vote-count/index.html; Margi Murphy, “Facebook, Instagram and Twitter lock Donald Trump’s accounts after praise for Capitol Hill rioters,” Telegraph, January 7, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2021/01/06/calls-twitter-facebook-mute-donald-trump-violence-breaks-capitol/; Rebecca Tan et al., “Trump supporters storm U.S. Capitol, with one woman killed and tear gas fired,” Washington Post, January 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trump-supporters-storm-capitol-dc/2021/01/06/58afc0b8-504b-11eb-83e3-322644d82356_story.html
  13. [13]Jeremy Herb et al., “Congress completes electoral count, finalizing Biden’s win after violent delay from pro-Trump mob,” CNN, January 7, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/2020-election-congress-electoral-college-vote-count/index.html
  14. [14]Alana Wise, “Senate Rejects Objection To Arizona Election Results,” National Public Radio, January 6, 2021, https://www.npr.org/sections/congress-electoral-college-tally-live-updates/2021/01/06/954164654/congress-reconvenes-after-violent-rioters-breach-u-s-capitol
  15. [15]Mark Zuckerberg, quoted in Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin, “Trump banned from Facebook indefinitely, CEO Mark Zuckerberg says,” Washington Post, January 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-resignations-25th-amendment/2021/01/07/e131ce10-50a3-11eb-bda4-615aaefd0555_story.html
  16. [16]Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin, “Trump banned from Facebook indefinitely, CEO Mark Zuckerberg says,” Washington Post, January 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-resignations-25th-amendment/2021/01/07/e131ce10-50a3-11eb-bda4-615aaefd0555_story.html
  17. [17]Devlin Barrett, “Trump’s remarks before Capitol riot may be investigated, says acting U.S. attorney in D.C.,” Washington Post, January 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/federal-investigation-capitol-riot-trump/2021/01/07/178d71ac-512c-11eb-83e3-322644d82356_story.html
  18. [18]Paula Reed Ward, “Allegheny County argues Crack’d Egg can’t hide from covid restrictions under bankruptcy filing,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 5, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/allegheny-county-argues-crackd-egg-cant-hide-from-covid-restrictions-under-bankruptcy-filing/; Paula Reed Ward, “Judge rules against Crack’d Egg, health department case can proceed,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 7, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-rules-against-crackd-egg-health-department-case-can-proceed/
  19. [19]Kurtis Lee, Jaweed Kaleem, and Laura King, “‘White supremacy was on full display.’ Double standard seen in police response to riot at Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, January 7, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-01-07/la-na-washington-capitol-police-attack-race
  20. [20]Mark Berman et al., “Protests spread over police shootings. Police promised reforms. Every year, they still shoot and kill nearly 1,000 people,” Washington Post, June 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/protests-spread-over-police-shootings-police-promised-reforms-every-year-they-still-shoot-nearly-1000-people/2020/06/08/5c204f0c-a67c-11ea-b473-04905b1af82b_story.html; James Downie, “Time to toss the ‘bad apples’ excuse,” Washington Post, May 31, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/05/31/time-toss-bad-apples-excuse/; Kurtis Lee, Jaweed Kaleem, and Laura King, “‘White supremacy was on full display.’ Double standard seen in police response to riot at Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, January 7, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-01-07/la-na-washington-capitol-police-attack-race; Wesley Lowery, “Aren’t more white people than black people killed by police? Yes, but no,” Washington Post, July 11, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/07/11/arent-more-white-people-than-black-people-killed-by-police-yes-but-no/; Brentin Mock, “What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings,” CityLab, August 6, 2019, https://www.citylab.com/equity/2019/08/police-officer-shootings-gun-violence-racial-bias-crime-data/595528/; Elie Mystal, “There’s Only One Possible Conclusion: White America Likes Its Killer Cops,” Nation, May 27, 2020, https://www.thenation.com/article/society/white-america-cops/; Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, “How Do We Change America?” New Yorker, June 8, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/how-do-we-change-america
  21. [21]Lois Beckett, “How the US military has failed to address white supremacy in its ranks,” Guardian, June 24, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/24/us-military-white-supremacy-extremist-plot; Leo Shane, III, “Signs of white supremacy, extremism up again in poll of active-duty troops,” Military Times, February 6, 2020, https://www.militarytimes.com/news/pentagon-congress/2020/02/06/signs-of-white-supremacy-extremism-up-again-in-poll-of-active-duty-troops/
  22. [22]Meagan Flynn and Fenit Nirappil, “Democratic control of Senate — and Capitol breach — put D.C. statehood front and center,” Washington Post, January 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/dc-statehood-bowser/2021/01/07/91eeacae-511d-11eb-83e3-322644d82356_story.html
  23. [23]Michael Lind, “The ZIP Codes That Rule America,” Tablet, December 16, 2020, https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/the-zip-codes-that-rule-america
  24. [24]Nitasha Tiku, Tony Romm, and Craig Timberg, “Twitter bans Trump’s account, citing risk of further violence,” Washington Post, January 8, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/01/08/twitter-trump-dorsey/
  25. [25]Peter Beaumont, “Donald Trump fans cry betrayal as he rebukes Capitol violence,” Guardian, January 8, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jan/08/trump-incites-anger-among-acolytes-let-down-by-lack-of-support
  26. [26]Peter Beaumont, “Donald Trump fans cry betrayal as he rebukes Capitol violence,” Guardian, January 8, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jan/08/trump-incites-anger-among-acolytes-let-down-by-lack-of-support
  27. [27]Dan Alexander, “Trump Will Have $900 Million Of Loans Coming Due In His Second Term If He’s Reelected,” Forbes, October 19, 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/danalexander/2020/10/19/trump-will-have-900-million-of-loans-coming-due-in-his-second-term-if-hes-reelected/; Jane Mayer, “Why Trump Can’t Afford to Lose,” New Yorker, November 1, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/11/09/why-trump-cant-afford-to-lose
  28. [28]Peter Beaumont, “Donald Trump fans cry betrayal as he rebukes Capitol violence,” Guardian, January 8, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jan/08/trump-incites-anger-among-acolytes-let-down-by-lack-of-support; Jeremy Herb et al., “Congress completes electoral count, finalizing Biden’s win after violent delay from pro-Trump mob,” CNN, January 7, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/2020-election-congress-electoral-college-vote-count/index.html
  29. [29]Mark Berman et al., “Protests spread over police shootings. Police promised reforms. Every year, they still shoot and kill nearly 1,000 people,” Washington Post, June 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/protests-spread-over-police-shootings-police-promised-reforms-every-year-they-still-shoot-nearly-1000-people/2020/06/08/5c204f0c-a67c-11ea-b473-04905b1af82b_story.html; Kyle Cheney, Sarah Ferris, and Laura Barrón-López, “‘Inside job’: House Dems ask if Capitol rioters had hidden help,” Politico, January 8, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/08/congress-democrats-capitol-riot-inside-job-456725; James Downie, “Time to toss the ‘bad apples’ excuse,” Washington Post, May 31, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/05/31/time-toss-bad-apples-excuse/; Kurtis Lee, Jaweed Kaleem, and Laura King, “‘White supremacy was on full display.’ Double standard seen in police response to riot at Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, January 7, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-01-07/la-na-washington-capitol-police-attack-race; Wesley Lowery, “Aren’t more white people than black people killed by police? Yes, but no,” Washington Post, July 11, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/07/11/arent-more-white-people-than-black-people-killed-by-police-yes-but-no/; Brentin Mock, “What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings,” CityLab, August 6, 2019, https://www.citylab.com/equity/2019/08/police-officer-shootings-gun-violence-racial-bias-crime-data/595528/; Elie Mystal, “There’s Only One Possible Conclusion: White America Likes Its Killer Cops,” Nation, May 27, 2020, https://www.thenation.com/article/society/white-america-cops/; Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, “How Do We Change America?” New Yorker, June 8, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/how-do-we-change-america;
  30. [30]Ted Barrett, Manu Raju, and Peter Nickeas, “US Capitol secured, woman dead after rioters stormed the halls of Congress to block Biden’s win,” CNN, January 6, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/us-capitol-lockdown/index.html; Talia Lavin, “The Violent Crescendo of the MAGA Conspiracies,” New Republic, January 6, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/160814/trump-protesters-attack-us-capital
  31. [31]Kyle Cheney, Sarah Ferris, and Laura Barrón-López, “‘Inside job’: House Dems ask if Capitol rioters had hidden help,” Politico, January 8, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/08/congress-democrats-capitol-riot-inside-job-456725
  32. [32]Amy Gardner, “‘Find the fraud’: Trump pressured a Georgia elections investigator in a separate call legal experts say could amount to obstruction,” Washington Post, January 9, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-call-georgia-investigator/2021/01/09/7a55c7fa-51cf-11eb-83e3-322644d82356_story.html
  33. [33]Aruna Viswanatha, Sadie Gurman, and Cameron McWhirter, “White House Forced Georgia U.S. Attorney to Resign,” Wall Street Journal, January 9, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/white-house-forced-georgia-u-s-attorney-to-resign-11610225840
  34. [34]Tim Higgins and Keach Hagey, “Apple, Amazon Move to Marginalize Parler,” Wall Street Journal, January 9, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/apple-suspends-parler-from-app-store-11610241352
  35. [35]Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin, “Trump banned from Facebook indefinitely, CEO Mark Zuckerberg says,” Washington Post, January 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-resignations-25th-amendment/2021/01/07/e131ce10-50a3-11eb-bda4-615aaefd0555_story.html
  36. [36]Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni, “Pence Said to Have Told Trump He Lacks Power to Change Election Result,” New York Times, January 5, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/05/us/politics/pence-trump-election-results.html; David Nakamura, “With brazen assault on election, Trump prompts critics to warn of a coup,” Washington Post, January 5, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-election-coup/2021/01/05/26afcfc0-4f6c-11eb-bda4-615aaefd0555_story.html
  37. [37]Devlin Barrett, “Judge dismisses Gohmert lawsuit seeking to stymie Biden electoral college count,” Washington Post, January 1, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/gohmert-court-filing-claims-pence-is-not-a-glorified-envelope-opener/2021/01/01/eeb6b222-4c51-11eb-839a-cf4ba7b7c48c_story.html; Pamela Brown and Kevin Liptak, “Frustrated Trump met with Pence before holiday break,” CNN, December 24, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/24/politics/trump-pence-electoral-college/index.html; Kyle Cheney, “Gohmert suit may force Pence’s hand in effort to overturn Trump’s defeat,” Politico, December 28, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/28/gohmert-suit-pence-overturn-trumps-defeat-451485; Lauren Fox, Jeremy Herb, and Phil Mattingly, “Congressional GOP grapples with ‘unhinged’ Trump,” CNN, December 23, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/23/politics/congress-gop-trump-veto/index.html; Saint Louis Post-Dispatch, “At least 11 GOP senators will back Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley in voting to reject electors,” January 2, 2021, https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/nearly-a-dozen-gop-senators-announce-plans-to-join-josh-hawley-in-voting-against-counting/article_0ca10e21-fd10-5f51-83bf-b9d468534dbc.html; Seung Min Kim, Josh Dawsey, and Toluse Olorunnipa, “Republicans plunge into open battle over attempts to overturn Trump’s loss to Biden,” Washington Post, December 22, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-republicans-election-fight/2020/12/22/fa0c2744-446b-11eb-b0e4-0f182923a025_story.html
  38. [38]Ashton Carter et al., “All 10 living former defense secretaries: Involving the military in election disputes would cross into dangerous territory,” Washington Post, January 3, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/10-former-defense-secretaries-military-peaceful-transfer-of-power/2021/01/03/2a23d52e-4c4d-11eb-a9f4-0e668b9772ba_story.html
  39. [39]David Benfell, “The least violent solution,” Not Housebroken, August 30, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/16/the-least-violent-solution/; David Benfell, “Bloody November,” Not Housebroken, October 13, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/08/bloody-november/; David Benfell, “Donald Trump’s ‘brown shirts,’” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/30/donald-trumps-brown-shirts/; David Benfell, “The very scary way to four more years,” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/25/the-very-scary-way-to-four-more-years/; David Benfell, “When the legitimacy of the system itself is threatened,” Not Housebroken, October 31, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/10/31/when-the-legitimacy-of-the-system-itself-is-threatened/; David Benfell, “When it’s over but it isn’t,” Not Housebroken, December 21, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/27/when-its-over-but-it-isnt/; David Benfell, “Underestimating the gravity of the situation, as Donald Trump faces a White House exit,” Not Housebroken, December 29, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/21/underestimating-the-gravity-of-the-situation-as-donald-trump-faces-a-white-house-exit/
  40. [40]David Nakamura, “With brazen assault on election, Trump prompts critics to warn of a coup,” Washington Post, January 5, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-election-coup/2021/01/05/26afcfc0-4f6c-11eb-bda4-615aaefd0555_story.html

Where the uncouth would determine who is worthy

Donald Trump

There is a new blog post entitled, “Who shall determine our fate?.”

Oh yeah, Mike Pence did not, as suggested,[1] remove Donald Trump from office on Sunday.

Kyle Cheney, “Gohmert suit may force Pence’s hand in effort to overturn Trump’s defeat,” Politico, December 28, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/28/gohmert-suit-pence-overturn-trumps-defeat-451485


Pandemic


  1. [1]Paul Campos, “Pence Should Remove Trump From Office on Sunday,” New York, December 23, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/12/if-trump-uses-martial-law-pence-should-use-25th-amendment.html

The Christmas of living dangerously (Update #2)


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


Updates

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

Donald Trump

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

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

Pamela Brown and Kevin Liptak, “Frustrated Trump met with Pence before holiday break,” CNN, December 24, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/24/politics/trump-pence-electoral-college/index.html


Pittsburgh

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

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

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

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

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

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


  1. [1]David Benfell, “We’ve let a horrible year go to waste,” Not Housebroken, December 10, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/10/weve-let-a-horrible-year-go-to-waste/
  2. [2]Pamela Brown and Kevin Liptak, “Frustrated Trump met with Pence before holiday break,” CNN, December 24, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/24/politics/trump-pence-electoral-college/index.html
  3. [3]Paul Campos, “Pence Should Remove Trump From Office on Sunday,” New York, December 23, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/12/if-trump-uses-martial-law-pence-should-use-25th-amendment.html
  4. [4]David Benfell, “Bloody November,” Not Housebroken, October 13, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/08/bloody-november/; David Benfell, “Donald Trump’s ‘brown shirts,’” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/30/donald-trumps-brown-shirts/; David Benfell, “The very scary way to four more years,” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/25/the-very-scary-way-to-four-more-years/; David Benfell, “When the legitimacy of the system itself is threatened,” Not Housebroken, October 31, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/10/31/when-the-legitimacy-of-the-system-itself-is-threatened/; David Benfell, “On the likely departure of Donald Trump,” Not Housebroken, December 11, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/08/on-the-likely-departure-of-donald-trump/; David Benfell, “Pure poison,” Not Housebroken, December 20, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/17/pure-poison/; David Benfell, “When it’s over but it isn’t,” Not Housebroken, December 21, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/27/when-its-over-but-it-isnt/
  5. [5]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  6. [6]David Benfell, “The modern Scrooge,” Not Housebroken, December 12, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/12/the-modern-scrooge/

Authoritarian populist secession talk (Update #4)

Updates

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

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

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

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

Secession

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

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


Donald Trump

Seung Min Kim, Josh Dawsey, and Toluse Olorunnipa, “Republicans plunge into open battle over attempts to overturn Trump’s loss to Biden,” Washington Post, December 22, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-republicans-election-fight/2020/12/22/fa0c2744-446b-11eb-b0e4-0f182923a025_story.html

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


  1. [1]Jonathan Chait, “Trump Floats Coup Plan That’s So Wild Even Rudy Giuliani Is Terrified,” New York, December 19, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/12/trump-coup-sidney-powell-martial-law-michael-flynn-meltdown.html
  2. [2]Michael Kruse, “Is Trump Cracking Under the Weight of Losing?” Politico, December 20, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/12/20/trump-white-house-losing-448903
  3. [3]Matt Zapotosky, “Undercutting Trump, Barr says there’s no basis for seizing voting machines, using special counsels for election fraud, Hunter Biden,” Washington Post, December 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/barr-trump-special-counsel-voter-fraud-hunter-biden/2020/12/21/4d85f060-439c-11eb-b0e4-0f182923a025_story.html
  4. [4]Tina Nguyen, “MAGA leaders call for the troops to keep Trump in office,” Politico, December 18, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/18/trump-insurrection-act-presidency-447986; Felicia Sonmez et al., “A frustrated Trump redoubles efforts to challenge election result,” Washington Post, December 20, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/tuberville-electoral-challenge-trump-conversation/2020/12/20/1658573e-42db-11eb-b0e4-0f182923a025_story.html; Felicia Sonmez et al., “A frustrated Trump redoubles efforts to challenge election result,” Washington Post, December 20, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/tuberville-electoral-challenge-trump-conversation/2020/12/20/1658573e-42db-11eb-b0e4-0f182923a025_story.html
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Look out below! It’s a pigeon, not a partridge, in a pear tree,” Irregular Bullshit, December 21, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/12/20/look-out-below-its-a-pigeon-not-a-partridge-in-a-pear-tree/
  6. [6]Jonathan Swan, “Trump turns on everyone,” Axios, December 22, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-white-house-conspiracy-theories-d95450a4-c7a3-4579-a568-0473b18529c9.html
  7. [7]Jonathan Swan, “Trump turns on everyone,” Axios, December 22, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-white-house-conspiracy-theories-d95450a4-c7a3-4579-a568-0473b18529c9.html
  8. [8]Rebecca Ballhaus, “Trump Asks Congress to Amend Covid-19 Package, Boost Direct Payments,” Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-asks-congress-to-amend-covid-19-package-boost-direct-payments-11608684702
  9. [9]Jeff Stein, and Mike DeBonis, “Senate majority leader announces approximately $900 billion deal on emergency relief package,” Washington Post, December 20, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2020/12/20/stimulus-congress/
  10. [10]Rebecca Ballhaus, “Trump Asks Congress to Amend Covid-19 Package, Boost Direct Payments,” Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-asks-congress-to-amend-covid-19-package-boost-direct-payments-11608684702
  11. [11]Jonathan Chait, “Trump Floats Coup Plan That’s So Wild Even Rudy Giuliani Is Terrified,” New York, December 19, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/12/trump-coup-sidney-powell-martial-law-michael-flynn-meltdown.html; Jonathan Swan, “Trump turns on everyone,” Axios, December 22, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-white-house-conspiracy-theories-d95450a4-c7a3-4579-a568-0473b18529c9.html
  12. [12]Rebecca Ballhaus, “Trump Asks Congress to Amend Covid-19 Package, Boost Direct Payments,” Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-asks-congress-to-amend-covid-19-package-boost-direct-payments-11608684702
  13. [13]Jonathan Chait, “Trump Floats Coup Plan That’s So Wild Even Rudy Giuliani Is Terrified,” New York, December 19, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/12/trump-coup-sidney-powell-martial-law-michael-flynn-meltdown.html; David Charter, “Trump announces law chief Bill Barr has quit as electoral college backs Joe Biden,” Times, December 15, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/trump-announces-law-chief-bill-barr-has-quit-as-electoral-college-backs-joe-biden-wnzzxkczt; Marianne Levine and Melanie Zanona, “McConnell warns Senate Republicans against challenging election results,” Politico, December 15, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/15/mcconnell-gop-election-results-445524; Jonathan Swan, “Trump turns on everyone,” Axios, December 22, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-white-house-conspiracy-theories-d95450a4-c7a3-4579-a568-0473b18529c9.html; Matt Zapotosky, “Undercutting Trump, Barr says there’s no basis for seizing voting machines, using special counsels for election fraud, Hunter Biden,” Washington Post, December 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/barr-trump-special-counsel-voter-fraud-hunter-biden/2020/12/21/4d85f060-439c-11eb-b0e4-0f182923a025_story.html
  14. [14]Seung Min Kim, Josh Dawsey, and Toluse Olorunnipa, “Republicans plunge into open battle over attempts to overturn Trump’s loss to Biden,” Washington Post, December 22, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-republicans-election-fight/2020/12/22/fa0c2744-446b-11eb-b0e4-0f182923a025_story.html
  15. [15]David Benfell, “The curious logic of Mitch McConnell,” Irregular Bullshit, December 18, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/12/16/the-curious-logic-of-mitch-mcconnell/; Greg Sargent, “Georgia Republicans beg Trump to release them from his prison of lies,” Washington Post, December 1, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/12/01/georgia-republicans-beg-trump-release-them-his-prison-lies/; Christina Zhao, “Pro-Trump Rally Chants ‘Destroy the GOP,’ Boos Georgia ‘RINOs,’” Loeffler and Perdue,” Newsweek, December 12, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/pro-trump-rally-chants-destroy-gop-boos-georgia-rinos-loeffler-perdue-1554354
  16. [16]Seung Min Kim, Josh Dawsey, and Toluse Olorunnipa, “Republicans plunge into open battle over attempts to overturn Trump’s loss to Biden,” Washington Post, December 22, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-republicans-election-fight/2020/12/22/fa0c2744-446b-11eb-b0e4-0f182923a025_story.html; Jonathan Swan, “Trump turns on everyone,” Axios, December 22, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-white-house-conspiracy-theories-d95450a4-c7a3-4579-a568-0473b18529c9.html
  17. [17]Casey Michel, “What All the Secession Talk Really Means,” Politico, December 21, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/12/21/secession-donald-trump-449348
  18. [18]Marc Fisher, “Confederate statues: In 2020, a renewed battle in America’s enduring Civil War,” Washington Post, June 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2020/06/11/confederate-statues-attacked-protesters-george-floyd/; Stephan Richter, “Shutdown shows the Civil War never ended,” Salon, October 8, 2013, https://www.salon.com/2013/10/07/shutdown_shows_the_civil_war_never_ended_partner/; Robin Wright, “Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War?” New Yorker, August 14, 2017, https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/is-america-headed-for-a-new-kind-of-civil-war

The curious logic of Mitch McConnell (update #7)

Updates

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

  2. December 16, 10:15 am:


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

  3. December 16, 2:50 pm:

    • I’m back home, safely.


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

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

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

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

  4. December 16, 8:15 pm:

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


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

  5. December 17, 10:05 am:

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

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

  6. December 17, 2:44 pm:

  7. December 18, 8:46 am:


Mitch McConnell

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

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

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

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


Depression

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


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