The delusional raging and outgoing narcissist-in-chief

Donald Trump

There is a new blog post entitled, “When it’s over but it isn’t.”

Josh Dawsey, “Trump commits to stepping down if electoral college votes for Biden,” Washington Post, November 26, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-says-he-will-leave-if-electoral-college-votes-for-biden/2020/11/26/7883351c-303b-11eb-96c2-aac3f162215d_story.html


Pandemic

The Allegheny County Health Department reports 1,642 new cases over the last 48 hours (averaging 821 per day). This is a record number, far exceeding numbers which have ranged in the up-to-600+ range in such notifications I’ve received in recent weeks. Oh yeah, and it’s Black Friday today, and I had a busy day yesterday as people travelled to Thanksgiving dinners with friends and family.

So what’s this picture gonna look like in two weeks?


The fizzle (Update #5)

Updates

  1. Originally published, November 22, 2020, 10:08 am.
  2. November 22, 2020, 10:57 pm:
    • Republicans are starting to say the game is up, that Donald Trump should give up his ludicrous legal challenges and his pathetic legal team and concede. Apart from disavowing one lawyer, and in a pretty bizarre way that I guess is par for this particular course,[1] there is, of course, no sign that Trump is likely to comply.
    • Driving for Uber today managed not to be horrible, mostly because I got out early. But I made it back home four times between rides. That’s a hell of a lot, the rides I did get were mostly quite short, and it is clear the doldrums have indeed begun.
  3. November 23, 2020, 8:50 am:
  4. November 23, 2020, 10:45 pm:
    • Supposedly, it’s not a concession, but Donald Trump has given the go-ahead for the formal transition to a Joe Biden presidency to begin.[2]
  5. November 25, 2020, 8:34 am:
    • Perhaps my memory fails me. But it seems to me that by now, the campaign signs in people’s yards should be coming down (posters in public places, of course, take months to collect). I’m not seeing that, at least as much as I expect this time, perhaps because Trump has been so slow to concede in any form at all. And I’m remembering the right wing militia.[3]


So, today’s (November 22) the day. It’s the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

If the pattern follows last year, business will drop off a cliff today with the ridesharing. It’s already been ugly and though I’m mostly inclined to attribute this to the approach of winter, and indeed the approach of this day, it’s possible this year’s winter doldrums will be exacerbated by the fact more people are staying home, due to the pandemic.


Donald Trump

In an earlier issue (quoting an earlier issue), I wrote,

From the previous issue:

What is Donald Trump up to, really? Really, we don’t know. Fred Hiatt outlines three possibilities.[4] Personally, I just think Trump is batshit crazy, which most resembles Hiatt’s scenario #3, but I don’t know either. His scenario #1 is essentially the electoral college manipulation[5] I’ve been talking about, which I think could draw in armed militia groups.[6] At this point, scenario #1 is probably—only probably—the least likely, but Hiatt doesn’t rule it out,[7] and I think really, he’s right not to. Scenario #2 looks a lot like the parallel government idea that Jonathan Freedland put forth.[8] This, too, could draw in the militia groups.[9]

It’s still a bit early to make the call, but at this point, Fred Hiatt’s scenario #1[10] appears to be fizzling as even local and state Republicans mostly quietly decline Donald Trump’s demand to overturn the election results.[11] Even scenario #2[12] would be a costly endeavor with a questionable chance of success. That pretty much leaves Trump his Twitter account and whatever he can cobble together in various media deals and rallies.[13]

There’s one factor unaccounted for in all of this. Trump retains the support of a large portion of the population, including some—we don’t know how many or how well equipped—who’ve been preparing for civil war.[14] So far, I’m not seeing the rumblings that suggest something is really afoot. But as it becomes increasingly clear even to Trump’s most ardent supporters that he has lost, that still might change.

Meanwhile, the Times (of London) reminds us that Trump’s post-presidential woes aren’t limited[15] to his debts and probable tax liabilities.[16] Other legal battles also await.[17] And we really don’t know where he’ll be tweeting from.[18]

Right now, it’s gotta be looking pretty bleak for our delusional raging narcissist. But then I’ve underestimated him before.

Toluse Olorunnipa, Amy B. Wang, and Chelsea Janes, “Trump’s quest to overturn election runs into quiet resistance from local and state Republicans,” Washington Post, November 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-michigan-georgia-pennsylvania-certify-votes-state-lawmakers/2020/11/21/1f410296-2b9e-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html

Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker, and Josh Dawsey, “Trump privately plots his next act — including a potential 2024 run,” Washington Post, November 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-2024-rematch/2020/11/21/58ce87ac-2a8d-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html

Josh Glancy, “Beaten Trump may never be able to retire to his winter White House,” Times, November 22, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/beaten-trump-may-never-be-able-to-retire-to-his-winter-white-house-353tc09h5


  1. [1]Miranda Bryant, “Trump faces pressure from Republicans to drop ‘corrosive’ fight to overturn election,” Guardian, November 22, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/nov/22/trump-republicans-pressure-fight-overturn-election
  2. [2]Jeff Mason and Trevor Hunnicutt, “Trump finally gives the green light to proceed with Biden transition,” Reuters, November 23, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election/u-s-general-services-administration-allows-biden-transition-funds-to-begin-idUSKBN2830EB
  3. [3]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/
  4. [4]Fred Hiatt, “Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wants-to-overturn-the-results-of-a-free-and-fair-election-theres-a-word-for-that/2020/11/13/cb94b77e-25b6-11eb-952e-0c475972cfc0_story.html
  5. [5]Max Boot, “What if Trump loses but insists he won?” Washington Post, July 6, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/06/what-if-trump-loses-insists-he-won/; Rosa Brooks, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Washington Post, September 3, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/09/03/trump-stay-in-office/; Marjorie Cohn, “Trump’s Frivolous Lawsuits Are the Tip of the Iceberg in His Refusal to Concede,” Truthout, November 11, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-frivolous-lawsuits-are-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-in-his-refusal-to-concede/; Eric Lach, “What Happens if Donald Trump Fights the Election Results?” New Yorker, August 21, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/campaign-chronicles/what-happens-if-donald-trump-fights-the-election-results; Robert McCartney, “Here’s one way Trump could try to steal the election, voting experts say,” Washington Post, August 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/heres-one-way-trump-could-try-to-steal-the-election-voting-experts-say/2020/08/16/b5bf0c2a-de66-11ea-b205-ff838e15a9a6_story.html; Timothy E. Wirth and Tom Rogers, “How Trump Could Lose the Election—And Still Remain President,” Newsweek, July 3, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/how-trump-could-lose-election-still-remain-president-opinion-1513975
  6. [6]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, “Epistemology in the present U.S. political crisis,” Not Housebroken, November 14, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/12/epistemology-in-the-present-u-s-political-crisis/
  7. [7]Fred Hiatt, “Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wants-to-overturn-the-results-of-a-free-and-fair-election-theres-a-word-for-that/2020/11/13/cb94b77e-25b6-11eb-952e-0c475972cfc0_story.html
  8. [8]Jonathan Freedland, “This is no conventional coup. Trump is paving the way for a ‘virtual Confederacy,'” Guardian, November 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/13/trump-coup-virtual-confederacy-race-legal-trumpian
  9. [9]David Benfell, “The pandemic’s fall surge in Allegheny County,” Irregular Bullshit, November 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/11/15/the-pandemics-fall-surge-in-allegheny-county/
  10. [10]Fred Hiatt, “Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wants-to-overturn-the-results-of-a-free-and-fair-election-theres-a-word-for-that/2020/11/13/cb94b77e-25b6-11eb-952e-0c475972cfc0_story.html
  11. [11]Toluse Olorunnipa, Amy B. Wang, and Chelsea Janes, “Trump’s quest to overturn election runs into quiet resistance from local and state Republicans,” Washington Post, November 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-michigan-georgia-pennsylvania-certify-votes-state-lawmakers/2020/11/21/1f410296-2b9e-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html
  12. [12]Fred Hiatt, “Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wants-to-overturn-the-results-of-a-free-and-fair-election-theres-a-word-for-that/2020/11/13/cb94b77e-25b6-11eb-952e-0c475972cfc0_story.html
  13. [13]Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker, and Josh Dawsey, “Trump privately plots his next act — including a potential 2024 run,” Washington Post, November 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-2024-rematch/2020/11/21/58ce87ac-2a8d-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html
  14. [14]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, “Epistemology in the present U.S. political crisis,” Not Housebroken, November 14, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/12/epistemology-in-the-present-u-s-political-crisis/
  15. [15]Josh Glancy, “Beaten Trump may never be able to retire to his winter White House,” Times, November 22, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/beaten-trump-may-never-be-able-to-retire-to-his-winter-white-house-353tc09h5
  16. [16]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
  17. [17]Josh Glancy, “Beaten Trump may never be able to retire to his winter White House,” Times, November 22, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/beaten-trump-may-never-be-able-to-retire-to-his-winter-white-house-353tc09h5
  18. [18]Jonathan Chait, “Trump Says He Might Leave the Country If He Loses. Does He Mean It?” New York, October 17, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/10/trump-may-leave-country-if-he-loses-prison-criminal-prosecution.html; Josh Glancy, “Beaten Trump may never be able to retire to his winter White House,” Times, November 22, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/beaten-trump-may-never-be-able-to-retire-to-his-winter-white-house-353tc09h5

From the delusional raging narcissist-in-chief to the delusional neoliberal (Update #4)

Updates

  1. Originally published, November 19, 2020, 10:43 am.

  2. November 20, 2020, 12:04 pm:

    • In an earlier issue (quoting an earlier issue), I wrote,

      From the previous issue:

      What is Donald Trump up to, really? Really, we don’t know. Fred Hiatt outlines three possibilities.[1] Personally, I just think Trump is batshit crazy, which most resembles Hiatt’s scenario #3, but I don’t know either. His scenario #1 is essentially the electoral college manipulation[2] I’ve been talking about, which I think could draw in armed militia groups.[3] At this point, scenario #1 is probably—only probably—the least likely, but Hiatt doesn’t rule it out,[4] and I think really, he’s right not to. Scenario #2 looks a lot like the parallel government idea that Jonathan Freedland put forth.[5] This, too, could draw in the militia groups.[6]

      It now appears that Donald Trump is very much pursuing Fred Hiatt’s scenario #1 as Republicans pressed the Wayne County (Michigan) Board of Elections to not certify election results. The Board initially deadlocked but later ratified the outcome.[7]

      A New York Times report, that Robert Costa linked to in the above tweet, suggests that Lindsey Graham is pursuing a similar strategy in his contacts with state elections officials.[8]

      To put it mildly, the effort is falling short.[9] But it’s making a lot of noise that amplifies Trump’s sense of grievance—all those yard signs and flags that say “Stop The Bullshit” and “Drain The Swamp” come to mind—setting up scenario #2.[10]

      This was the basis of the blog post I wrote that frankly scares the shit out of me, entitled, “Dual sovereignty in the not-quite post-Trump era.”

      Washington Post reporting now confirms beyond a reasonable doubt[11] that Fred Hiatt’s scenario #1,[12] involving an attempt to manipulate the electoral college process,[13] is now fully in play. It appears highly unlikely to succeed.[14] But also as noted, it sets up scenario #2,[15] the “government-in-exile”/media network scenario that challenges the legitimacy of a Joe Biden presidency,[16] even as judge after judge rejects Donald Trump’s claims, even as election board after election board certifies election results.[17] Because conspiracy theories are easy, especially when large numbers of people feel wronged by traditional authority.[18]

  3. November 21, 2020, 11:12 am:

  4. November 21, 2020, 10:31 pm:

    • A federal judge has dismissed the Trump campaign’s attempt, spearheaded by a doddering Rudy Giuliani,[19] to throw out the Pennsylvania vote—yes, all 6 million ballots.[20]


Transition

The story of Donald Trump’s refusal to concede and of a denial of the reality that he has lost the election that he fruitlessly and frivolously pursues in the courts, all while laying the groundwork for an alternative reality “government-in-exile” media network,[21] has shifted, at least for the moment, to the spectacle of an aging Rudy Giuliani, who has apparently forgotten how to plead in court, making an ass of himself in arguing those claims in a federal court in Pennsylvania.[22] It’s not a pretty picture but Robin Givhan points out that Giuliani’s aura arises largely from his performance as New York City mayor in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, and that the rest of the picture has never been so nice.[23]

We should not, however, lose sight of the larger picture, which includes the possibility of that “government in exile.” My blog post on this topic yesterday (November 18) honestly sent chills down my spine. It’s a possibility that is all too possibly all too close to fruition.

Speaking of delusional figures, there’s the incoming Joe Biden, who imagines absurdly that Republicans will come to their senses once they grapple with the reality that he has won the election.[24] But Biden, who even in a pandemic, when millions have lost their jobs and the health insurance attached to those jobs,[25] opposes Medicare For All,[26] persists in neoliberal dogma, and George Monbiot argues that the failure to learn the lessons of Barack Obama’s dogmatic failures paves the way for an even more dangerous, that is, less incompetent and more intelligent, version of Trump to arise in 2024.[27]

If you think the country is in a crisis, whether due to Donald Trump’s antics, or due to the COVID-19 pandemic, or due to anything else, then you should value leadership that faces reality. This seems not to be an option.

And if your defense of Biden against that charge is that “[p]olitics is the art of the possible,”[28] then you echo my formerly favorite professor’s defense of a government that commits war crimes and you suggest that preservation of the political system is of greater importance than human life. You might want to think about your priorities there.

Robin Givhan, “Rudy Giuliani is a mess,” Washington Post, November 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/11/18/rudy-giuliani-is-mess/

George Monbiot, “Monster Makers,” November 18, 2020, https://www.monbiot.com/2020/11/18/monster-makers/

Philip Rucker, Amy Gardner, and Josh Dawsey, “Trump uses power of presidency to try to overturn the election and stay in office,” Washington Post, November 19, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-uses-power-of-presidency-to-try-to-overturn-the-election-and-stay-in-office/2020/11/19/bc89caa6-2a9f-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html

Jon Swaine, “In scathing opinion, federal judge dismisses Trump campaign lawsuit in Pennsylvania,” Washington Post, November 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/us-judge-dismisses-trump-campaign-lawsuit-in-pa/2020/11/21/cc097fbe-2c50-11eb-9b14-ad872157ebc9_story.html


  1. [1]Fred Hiatt, “Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wants-to-overturn-the-results-of-a-free-and-fair-election-theres-a-word-for-that/2020/11/13/cb94b77e-25b6-11eb-952e-0c475972cfc0_story.html
  2. [2]Max Boot, “What if Trump loses but insists he won?” Washington Post, July 6, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/06/what-if-trump-loses-insists-he-won/; Rosa Brooks, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Washington Post, September 3, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/09/03/trump-stay-in-office/; Marjorie Cohn, “Trump’s Frivolous Lawsuits Are the Tip of the Iceberg in His Refusal to Concede,” Truthout, November 11, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-frivolous-lawsuits-are-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-in-his-refusal-to-concede/; Eric Lach, “What Happens if Donald Trump Fights the Election Results?” New Yorker, August 21, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/campaign-chronicles/what-happens-if-donald-trump-fights-the-election-results; Robert McCartney, “Here’s one way Trump could try to steal the election, voting experts say,” Washington Post, August 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/heres-one-way-trump-could-try-to-steal-the-election-voting-experts-say/2020/08/16/b5bf0c2a-de66-11ea-b205-ff838e15a9a6_story.html; Timothy E. Wirth and Tom Rogers, “How Trump Could Lose the Election—And Still Remain President,” Newsweek, July 3, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/how-trump-could-lose-election-still-remain-president-opinion-1513975
  3. [3]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, “Epistemology in the present U.S. political crisis,” Not Housebroken, November 14, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/12/epistemology-in-the-present-u-s-political-crisis/
  4. [4]Fred Hiatt, “Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wants-to-overturn-the-results-of-a-free-and-fair-election-theres-a-word-for-that/2020/11/13/cb94b77e-25b6-11eb-952e-0c475972cfc0_story.html
  5. [5]Jonathan Freedland, “This is no conventional coup. Trump is paving the way for a ‘virtual Confederacy,'” Guardian, November 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/13/trump-coup-virtual-confederacy-race-legal-trumpian
  6. [6]David Benfell, “The pandemic’s fall surge in Allegheny County,” Irregular Bullshit, November 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/11/15/the-pandemics-fall-surge-in-allegheny-county/
  7. [7]Kayla Ruble and Tom Hamburger, “Board in key Michigan county fails, then agrees, to certify vote totals by deadline,” Washington Post, November 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/michigan-vote-canvassing-board/2020/11/17/12141222-287c-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html
  8. [8]Stephanie Saul, “Lindsey Graham’s Long-Shot Mission to Unravel the Election Results,” New York Times, November 17, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/17/us/politics/lindsey-graham-georgia-trump-biden.html
  9. [9]Aaron Blake, “Trump lawyers suffer embarrassing rebukes from judges over voter fraud claims,” Washington Post, November 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/11/11/trump-lawyers-suffer-embarrassing-rebukes-judges-over-voter-fraud-claims/; Marjorie Cohn, “Trump’s Frivolous Lawsuits Are the Tip of the Iceberg in His Refusal to Concede,” Truthout, November 11, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-frivolous-lawsuits-are-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-in-his-refusal-to-concede/; Pam Fessler, “Led By Giuliani, Trump Campaign Effort To Stop Certification Falters In Pennsylvania,” National Public Radio, November 17, 2020, https://www.npr.org/2020/11/17/936027693/led-by-giuliani-trump-campaign-effort-to-stop-certification-falters-in-pennsylvaJonathan Freedland, “This is no conventional coup. Trump is paving the way for a ‘virtual Confederacy,'” Guardian, November 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/13/trump-coup-virtual-confederacy-race-legal-trumpian; Kayla Ruble and Tom Hamburger, “Board in key Michigan county fails, then agrees, to certify vote totals by deadline,” Washington Post, November 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/michigan-vote-canvassing-board/2020/11/17/12141222-287c-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html
  10. [10]David Benfell, “Pittsburgh should be ashamed but isn’t, really, and that’s a problem,” Irregular Bullshit, November 18, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/11/17/pittsburgh-should-be-ashamed-but-isnt-really-and-thats-a-problem/
  11. [11]Philip Rucker, Amy Gardner, and Josh Dawsey, “Trump uses power of presidency to try to overturn the election and stay in office,” Washington Post, November 19, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-uses-power-of-presidency-to-try-to-overturn-the-election-and-stay-in-office/2020/11/19/bc89caa6-2a9f-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html
  12. [12]Fred Hiatt, “Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wants-to-overturn-the-results-of-a-free-and-fair-election-theres-a-word-for-that/2020/11/13/cb94b77e-25b6-11eb-952e-0c475972cfc0_story.html
  13. [13]Max Boot, “What if Trump loses but insists he won?” Washington Post, July 6, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/06/what-if-trump-loses-insists-he-won/; Rosa Brooks, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Washington Post, September 3, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/09/03/trump-stay-in-office/; Marjorie Cohn, “Trump’s Frivolous Lawsuits Are the Tip of the Iceberg in His Refusal to Concede,” Truthout, November 11, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-frivolous-lawsuits-are-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-in-his-refusal-to-concede/; Eric Lach, “What Happens if Donald Trump Fights the Election Results?” New Yorker, August 21, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/campaign-chronicles/what-happens-if-donald-trump-fights-the-election-results; Robert McCartney, “Here’s one way Trump could try to steal the election, voting experts say,” Washington Post, August 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/heres-one-way-trump-could-try-to-steal-the-election-voting-experts-say/2020/08/16/b5bf0c2a-de66-11ea-b205-ff838e15a9a6_story.html; Timothy E. Wirth and Tom Rogers, “How Trump Could Lose the Election—And Still Remain President,” Newsweek, July 3, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/how-trump-could-lose-election-still-remain-president-opinion-1513975
  14. [14]Philip Rucker, Amy Gardner, and Josh Dawsey, “Trump uses power of presidency to try to overturn the election and stay in office,” Washington Post, November 19, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-uses-power-of-presidency-to-try-to-overturn-the-election-and-stay-in-office/2020/11/19/bc89caa6-2a9f-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html
  15. [15]Fred Hiatt, “Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wants-to-overturn-the-results-of-a-free-and-fair-election-theres-a-word-for-that/2020/11/13/cb94b77e-25b6-11eb-952e-0c475972cfc0_story.html
  16. [16]Mike Allen, “Trump eyes digital media empire to take on Fox News,” Axios, November 12, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-fox-news-digital-media-competitor-25afddee-144d-4820-8ed4-9eb0ffa42420.html; Jonathan Freedland, “This is no conventional coup. Trump is paving the way for a ‘virtual Confederacy,'” Guardian, November 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/13/trump-coup-virtual-confederacy-race-legal-trumpian
  17. [17]Philip Rucker, Amy Gardner, and Josh Dawsey, “Trump uses power of presidency to try to overturn the election and stay in office,” Washington Post, November 19, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-uses-power-of-presidency-to-try-to-overturn-the-election-and-stay-in-office/2020/11/19/bc89caa6-2a9f-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html
  18. [18]David Benfell, “The pandemic and a crisis of illegitimate authority,” Not Housebroken, May 14, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/05/12/the-pandemic-and-a-crisis-of-illegitimate-authority/; Jason Togyer, “Fear and Loathing in the Time of Coronavirus,” Columbia Journalism Review, March 25, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/special_report/mckeesport-year-of-fear-covid-19-pandemic.php; Jason Togyer, “How Facebook has undermined communal conversation in McKeesport,” Columbia Journalism Review, June 18, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/special_report/year-of-fear-chapter-19-facebook-undermined-conversation-in-mckeesport.php
  19. [19]Pam Fessler, “Led By Giuliani, Trump Campaign Effort To Stop Certification Falters In Pennsylvania,” National Public Radio, November 17, 2020, https://www.npr.org/2020/11/17/936027693/led-by-giuliani-trump-campaign-effort-to-stop-certification-falters-in-pennsylva; Josh Gerstein, “Trump campaign revises Pennsylvania suit, again,” Politico, November 18, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/18/trump-pennsylvania-election-lawsuit-437996; Robin Givhan, “Rudy Giuliani is a mess,” Washington Post, November 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/11/18/rudy-giuliani-is-mess/; Paula Reed Ward, “Federal judge to consider whether to dismiss case filed by Trump campaign in Pa.,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 17, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/federal-judge-to-consider-whether-to-dismiss-case-filed-by-trump-campaign-in-pa/
  20. [20]Jon Swaine, “In scathing opinion, federal judge dismisses Trump campaign lawsuit in Pennsylvania,” Washington Post, November 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/us-judge-dismisses-trump-campaign-lawsuit-in-pa/2020/11/21/cc097fbe-2c50-11eb-9b14-ad872157ebc9_story.html
  21. [21]Mike Allen, “Trump eyes digital media empire to take on Fox News,” Axios, November 12, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-fox-news-digital-media-competitor-25afddee-144d-4820-8ed4-9eb0ffa42420.html; Aaron Blake, “Trump lawyers suffer embarrassing rebukes from judges over voter fraud claims,” Washington Post, November 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/11/11/trump-lawyers-suffer-embarrassing-rebukes-judges-over-voter-fraud-claims/; Mark Bray, “Trump’s Baseless Fraud Accusations Are Already Sparking Far Right Violence,” Truthout, November 9, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-baseless-fraud-accusations-are-already-sparking-far-right-violence/; Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, “Trump team eyes legal, political Hail Marys as options for comeback fade,” Politico, November 6, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/06/trump-legal-political-lawsuit-election-434786; Marjorie Cohn, “Trump’s Frivolous Lawsuits Are the Tip of the Iceberg in His Refusal to Concede,” Truthout, November 11, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-frivolous-lawsuits-are-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-in-his-refusal-to-concede/; Deb Erdley, “State lawmakers call for creation of a panel to investigate, audit election,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 10, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/regional/state-lawmakers-call-for-creation-of-a-panel-to-investigate-audit-election/; Jonathan Freedland, “This is no conventional coup. Trump is paving the way for a ‘virtual Confederacy,'” Guardian, November 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/13/trump-coup-virtual-confederacy-race-legal-trumpian; Fred Hiatt, “Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wants-to-overturn-the-results-of-a-free-and-fair-election-theres-a-word-for-that/2020/11/13/cb94b77e-25b6-11eb-952e-0c475972cfc0_story.html; Marissa J. Lang et al., “After thousands of Trump supporters rally in D.C., violence erupts when night falls,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2020/11/14/million-maga-march-dc-protests/; David Nakamura, “Trump’s bid to discredit election raises fear that he will undermine a smooth transfer of power,” Washington Post, November 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-concession-transition-power/2020/11/07/2b4cf640-20e4-11eb-b532-05c751cd5dc2_story.html; Kayla Ruble and Tom Hamburger, “Board in key Michigan county fails, then agrees, to certify vote totals by deadline,” Washington Post, November 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/michigan-vote-canvassing-board/2020/11/17/12141222-287c-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html; Stephanie Saul, “Lindsey Graham’s Long-Shot Mission to Unravel the Election Results,” New York Times, November 17, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/17/us/politics/lindsey-graham-georgia-trump-biden.html
  22. [22]Pam Fessler, “Led By Giuliani, Trump Campaign Effort To Stop Certification Falters In Pennsylvania,” National Public Radio, November 17, 2020, https://www.npr.org/2020/11/17/936027693/led-by-giuliani-trump-campaign-effort-to-stop-certification-falters-in-pennsylva; Josh Gerstein, “Trump campaign revises Pennsylvania suit, again,” Politico, November 18, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/18/trump-pennsylvania-election-lawsuit-437996; Robin Givhan, “Rudy Giuliani is a mess,” Washington Post, November 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/11/18/rudy-giuliani-is-mess/; Paula Reed Ward, “Federal judge to consider whether to dismiss case filed by Trump campaign in Pa.,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 17, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/federal-judge-to-consider-whether-to-dismiss-case-filed-by-trump-campaign-in-pa/
  23. [23]Robin Givhan, “Rudy Giuliani is a mess,” Washington Post, November 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/11/18/rudy-giuliani-is-mess/
  24. [24]Eric Bradner and Gregory Krieg, “Joe Biden predicts a post-Trump ‘epiphany’ for Republicans,” CNN, May 14, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/14/politics/joe-biden-republicans-trump-epiphany/index.html; Moira Donegan, “What does Biden have in common with Trump? Delusional nostalgia,” Guardian, June 21, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/21/joe-biden-trump-sexism-delusional-nostalgia; Matt Ford, “Someone Please Tell Joe Biden That Bipartisanship Is Dead,” New Republic, June 12, 2019, https://newrepublic.com/article/154183/someone-please-tell-joe-biden-bipartisanship-dead; Paul Waldman, “Joe Biden still hasn’t learned the lessons of the Obama presidency,” Washington Post, December 6, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/12/06/joe-biden-still-hasnt-learned-lessons-obama-presidency/
  25. [25]Kim Hart, “The coronavirus economy will devastate those who can least afford it,” Axios, March 23, 2020, https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-economy-layoffs-children-families-bad-d588cc93-ff26-4031-8be8-5654cce05a15.html; Heather Long, “Over 10 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in March as economy collapsed,” Washington Post, April 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/02/jobless-march-coronavirus/; Heather Long, “Jobless rate soared to 14.7% in April as U.S. shed 20.5 million jobs amid coronavirus pandemic,” Washington Post, May 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/05/08/april-2020-jobs-report/; Eric Morath, Harriet Torry, and Gwynn Guilford, “A Second Round of Coronavirus Layoffs Has Begun. Few Are Safe,” Wall Street Journal, April 14, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-second-round-of-coronavirus-layoffs-has-begun-no-one-is-safe-11586872387; Andy Sullivan and Brad Brooks, “‘The government is failing us’: Laid-off Americans struggle in coronavirus crisis,” Reuters, May 7, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-05-07/coronavirus-weekly-jobless-unemployment-numbers
  26. [26]Tim Marchman, “Joe Biden: It Would Be an Insult to My Dead Son for Everyone to Have Healthcare,” Vice, August 27, 2019, https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/vb5d7y/joe-biden-medicare-for-all-would-be-an-insult-to-my-dead-son; 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
  27. [27]George Monbiot, “Monster Makers,” November 18, 2020, https://www.monbiot.com/2020/11/18/monster-makers/
  28. [28]Otto von Bismarck, quoted in John Bartlett, ed., Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, 17th ed. (New York: Little, Brown, 2002), 502.

The epistemology of sore losers

Donald Trump

So the election has happened and it’s time to check in with our wacko in Duquesne. It’s really hard to get pictures of this sign (figure 1). I either have to catch a red light or, as this time, shoot across a lane of traffic on a heavily used cobblestone street:

Fig. 1. Photograph by author, November 14, 2020.

I have updated my most recent blog post:

    It occurs to me that when I say “people fervently want to believe” misinformation,[1] I am reaching to motivation: An obvious question is, why do conservatives choose to believe what they do?

    I have only a partial answer and some hypotheses. But I remember an earlier translation of the Tao Te Ching (I could not find this in the the more recent edition now in my possession[2]) speaking eloquently of weeds growing where an army had passed. I think this speaks to the origins of authoritarian populist[3] resentment in wars, famine, and disease in Britain migrating to settle in what Colin Woodard calls Greater Appalachia.[4] In essence, authoritarian populists do not trust authoritative information because they have too often and too long been exploited as means to authoritarian ends.[5] Even if they do not know the truth, and may at some level even doubt what they profess,[6] they have every reason to suspect that they are being misled in furtherance of those ends.

    On the traditionalist side, I repeatedly saw Russell Kirk, George Nash, and Richard Weaver all write of knowledge of the senses—empirical knowledge—as “temporal” rather than permanent.[7] Hence a diminution of what I described as “truth as we’re presently best able to perceive it, truth from our perspective—subjective truth.”[8]

    As well as preferring ideology,[9] or as I put it, “tend[ing] toward a naturalistic fallacy,”[10] Conservatives generally are more authoritarian than others.[11] Broadly speaking, the choice of a way of knowing often seems to be a self-serving way to advance their own power over others. For capitalist libertarians, this is simple capitalist greed: What makes them richer, that is, what increases their economic power, is what works, a “pragmatic” theory of truth, and must therefore be right. We might suspect something similar of functionalist conservatives and neoconservatives with regard to political power, of paleoconservatives with regard to white privilege, and of many conservatives generally with regard to the social power of self-righteous indignation.

    As I said at the beginning of this update, this answer is tentative. But social injustice appears to underlie all of these choices of ways of knowing. As Donald Trump twists and turns, wreaking havoc in his exit from the White House,[12] we are reaping what we have sown.


  1. [1]David Benfell, “Epistemology in the present U.S. political crisis,” Not Housebroken, November 13, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/12/epistemology-in-the-present-u-s-political-crisis/
  2. [2]Lao Tsu [apocryphal], Tao Te Ching, trans. Gia Fu-Feng and Jane English with Toinette Lippe, 3rd ed. (New York: Vintage, 2011).
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126); 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/
  4. [4]Colin Woodard, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America (New York: Penguin, 2011).
  5. [5]Thomas Frank, What’s the Matter with Kansas? (New York: Henry Holt, 2005).
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Doubting the ‘Fox News bubble,’” Not Housebroken, October 11, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/07/doubting-the-fox-news-bubble/
  7. [7]Russell Kirk, The Conservative Mind (Washington, DC: Regnery 1985/2001); George H. Nash, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945 (Wilmington, DE: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 1976/2006); Richard M. Weaver, Visions of Order (Louisiana State University, 1964, Wilmington, DE: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 1995).
  8. [8]David Benfell, “Epistemology in the present U.S. political crisis,” Not Housebroken, November 13, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/12/epistemology-in-the-present-u-s-political-crisis/
  9. [9]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  10. [10]David Benfell, “Epistemology in the present U.S. political crisis,” Not Housebroken, November 13, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/12/epistemology-in-the-present-u-s-political-crisis/
  11. [11]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  12. [12]Mike Allen, “Trump eyes digital media empire to take on Fox News,” Axios, November 12, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-fox-news-digital-media-competitor-25afddee-144d-4820-8ed4-9eb0ffa42420.html; Aaron Blake, “Trump lawyers suffer embarrassing rebukes from judges over voter fraud claims,” Washington Post, November 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/11/11/trump-lawyers-suffer-embarrassing-rebukes-judges-over-voter-fraud-claims/; Mark Bray, “Trump’s Baseless Fraud Accusations Are Already Sparking Far Right Violence,” Truthout, November 9, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-baseless-fraud-accusations-are-already-sparking-far-right-violence/; Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, “Trump team eyes legal, political Hail Marys as options for comeback fade,” Politico, November 6, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/06/trump-legal-political-lawsuit-election-434786; Marjorie Cohn, “Trump’s Frivolous Lawsuits Are the Tip of the Iceberg in His Refusal to Concede,” Truthout, November 11, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-frivolous-lawsuits-are-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-in-his-refusal-to-concede/; Jonathan Freedland, “This is no conventional coup. Trump is paving the way for a ‘virtual Confederacy,'” Guardian, November 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/13/trump-coup-virtual-confederacy-race-legal-trumpian; David Nakamura, “Trump’s bid to discredit election raises fear that he will undermine a smooth transfer of power,” Washington Post, November 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-concession-transition-power/2020/11/07/2b4cf640-20e4-11eb-b532-05c751cd5dc2_story.html

Victory of the platitudes (Update #2)

Updates

  1. Originally published, November 11, 2020, 1:24 pm.

  2. November 11, 2020, 9:29 pm:

    • Judges are embarrassing Donald Trump’s lawyers in court.[1]

      Even [Donald] Trump allies, as The Washington Post reported late Tuesday, acknowledge the apparent futility of the effort [to challenge of the results of the 2020 election]. Others have reasoned that there’s no harm in going through the motions, with one anonymous GOP official asking, “What’s the downside for humoring him” [Trump] for a little while?

      But as scenes in courtrooms nationwide in recent days have shown, there is indeed a downside for those tasked with pursuing these claims. Repeatedly now, they have been rebuked by judges for how thin their arguments have been.[2]

      Marjorie Cohn also calls the lawsuits frivolous, but is mindful[3] of those other tactics that Trump might yet attempt.[4]


Today, it seems, is Veterans Day, which I gather finds its origins in the armistice that ended World War I and that led through the humiliation and pauperization of Germany pretty much directly to the rise of Adolf Hitler, and thence to the Holocaust and to World War II.

With other wars, I might disagree with the rationale, but at least I can find one. With World War I, I can’t even find a rationale.

There are explanations: My history professor at CSU East Bay explained that there were secret alliances that drew multiple countries into the conflict over some silly person being assassinated by some other silly person.

But an actual rationale simply isn’t there. And so if there is a lesson to be taken, it should be that empty rhetoric, like that of allegedly “saving the world for democracy,” can be lethal on a massive scale and not just in the instant.

A lot of young men and some young women, not to mention civilian casualties, lost their lives in this war and in the consequent second world war. For no good reason whatsoever.


The pandemic hasn’t affected me quite the way it has other people in the working class. I’ve continued working, albeit with some ongoing alarm about lack of compliance with face mask requirements,[5] and I guess, in retrospect, my income[6] this year is looking pretty much the same as last year.

That includes a drop that I recognize from last year, where I’m starting to see fewer rides, starting to make less money. If it follows the pattern from last year, my income will drop off a cliff the Sunday before Thanksgiving and not begin to recover until next March. It’s a very scary time and, really, it lasts for at least five months, as that drop is already under way.

And of course the car continues to need maintenance—that was a cute little unexpected $500 brake job yesterday, because the place I’d been going for tires (not my regular mechanic) failed to inform me the rear brakes were shot when they did the tire rotation.

None of this makes me even the least bit happier that Joe Biden promises yet more anti-worker neoliberal policy. In the name of jobs, of course.


Election

There is a new blog post entitled, “A Pyrrhic victory.”

Deb Erdley, “State lawmakers call for creation of a panel to investigate, audit election,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 10, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/regional/state-lawmakers-call-for-creation-of-a-panel-to-investigate-audit-election/

Marjorie Cohn, “Trump’s Frivolous Lawsuits Are the Tip of the Iceberg in His Refusal to Concede,” Truthout, November 11, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-frivolous-lawsuits-are-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-in-his-refusal-to-concede/

Mike Davis, “Rio Grande Valley Republicans,” London Review of Books 42, no. 22 (November 19, 2020), https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v42/n22/mike-davis/short-cuts


  1. [1]Aaron Blake, “Trump lawyers suffer embarrassing rebukes from judges over voter fraud claims,” Washington Post, November 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/11/11/trump-lawyers-suffer-embarrassing-rebukes-judges-over-voter-fraud-claims/
  2. [2]Aaron Blake, “Trump lawyers suffer embarrassing rebukes from judges over voter fraud claims,” Washington Post, November 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/11/11/trump-lawyers-suffer-embarrassing-rebukes-judges-over-voter-fraud-claims/
  3. [3]Marjorie Cohn, “Trump’s Frivolous Lawsuits Are the Tip of the Iceberg in His Refusal to Concede,” Truthout, November 11, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-frivolous-lawsuits-are-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-in-his-refusal-to-concede/
  4. [4]Max Boot, “What if Trump loses but insists he won?” Washington Post, July 6, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/06/what-if-trump-loses-insists-he-won/; Mark Bray, “Trump’s Baseless Fraud Accusations Are Already Sparking Far Right Violence,” Truthout, November 9, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-baseless-fraud-accusations-are-already-sparking-far-right-violence/; Rosa Brooks, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Washington Post, September 3, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/09/03/trump-stay-in-office/; Will Bunch, “Trump’s diabolical plan to blow up democracy, get reelected and avoid jail just might work,” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 5, 2019, https://www.philly.com/opinion/commentary/trump-wants-impeachment-2020-reelection-strategy-blame-democrats-ignore-subpoenas-20190505.html; Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, “Trump team eyes legal, political Hail Marys as options for comeback fade,” Politico, November 6, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/06/trump-legal-political-lawsuit-election-434786; Chris Cillizza, “What happens if Donald Trump refuses to admit he lost in 2020?” CNN, May 6, 2019, https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2019/05/06/politics/donald-trump-2020-election/index.html; Democracy Now!, “What If Trump Refuses to Accept a Biden Victory? A Look at How Electoral Chaos Could Divide Nation,” August 3, 2020, https://www.democracynow.org/2020/8/3/nils_gilman_2020_election_scenarios; Barton Gellman, “The Election That Could Break America,” Atlantic, September 23, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/11/what-if-trump-refuses-concede/616424/; Mehdi Hasan, “Yes, Let’s Defeat or Impeach Donald Trump. But What If He Refuses to Leave the White House?” Intercept, March 6, 2019, https://theintercept.com/2019/03/06/donald-trump-impeachment-2020/; Colby Itkowitz, “Trump won’t commit to a ‘peaceful transfer of power’ if he loses,” Washington Post, September 23, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-transfer-of-power/2020/09/23/be6954d0-fdf0-11ea-b555-4d71a9254f4b_story.html; Ed Kilgore, “How Trump Is Trying to Ensure an Early Election Night Lead,” New York, August 13, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/08/trump-voters-could-vote-in-person-and-give-him-early-lead.html; Eric Lach, “What Happens if Donald Trump Fights the Election Results?” New Yorker, August 21, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/campaign-chronicles/what-happens-if-donald-trump-fights-the-election-results; Robert McCartney, “Here’s one way Trump could try to steal the election, voting experts say,” Washington Post, August 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/heres-one-way-trump-could-try-to-steal-the-election-voting-experts-say/2020/08/16/b5bf0c2a-de66-11ea-b205-ff838e15a9a6_story.html; Peter Nicholas, “Trump Could Still Break Democracy’s Biggest Norm,” Atlantic, June 16, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/06/when-does-trump-leave-white-house/613060/; Greg Sargent, “On Hannity’s show, Trump reveals his corrupt, panicky endgame,” Washington Post, October 9, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/10/09/hannity-trump-reveals-his-corrupt-panicky-endgame/; Felicia Sonmez, “Trump declines to say whether he will accept November election results,” Washington Post, July 19, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-declines-to-say-whether-he-will-accept-november-election-results/2020/07/19/40009804-c9c7-11ea-91f1-28aca4d833a0_story.html; Isaac Stanley-Becker, “Claiming two years of his presidency were ‘stolen,’ Trump suggests he’s owed overtime,” Washington Post, May 6, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/05/06/claiming-two-years-his-presidency-were-stolen-trump-suggests-hes-owed-overtime/; Timothy E. Wirth and Tom Rogers, “How Trump Could Lose the Election—And Still Remain President,” Newsweek, July 3, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/how-trump-could-lose-election-still-remain-president-opinion-1513975
  5. [5]David Benfell, “The expendable worker,” Not Housebroken, November 11, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/07/05/the-expendable-worker/
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Tax time,” Not Housebroken, July 14, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/07/14/tax-time/

(Nightmarish) Visions of Richard Weaver (Update #10)

Updates

  1. Originally published, November 6, 2020, 9:24 am.

  2. November 6, 2020, 12:06 pm:


    • Fig. 1. Photograph by author, August 25, 2020.

  3. November 6, 2020, 10:06 pm:

    • The same states are still allegedly counting votes and the same candidates are leading as earlier today:[1]

      State Percent counted Leader Electoral Votes
      Alaska 50 Donald Trump 3
      Georgia 99 Joe Biden 16
      North Carolina 99 Donald Trump 15
      Nevada 84 Joe Biden 6
      Pennsylvania 98 Joe Biden 20

      Given that these percentages counted haven’t budged in Alaska, Nevada, and Pennsylvania, I’m starting to wonder if it’s really true that they’re counting votes. (Actually, I see from a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review headline that Joe Biden’s lead “continues to grow” in Pennsylvania. Such a claim seemingly requires votes to be counted.)

    • Donald Trump appears to be running out of legal options to challenge Joe Biden’s probable victory.[2] That, of course, leaves the, um, other options.[3]

  4. November 7, 2020, 8:42 am:

  5. November 7, 2020, 9:07 am:

    • How did Joe Biden win Arizona, a state famous for Barry Goldwater?

  6. November 7, 2020, 9:43 am:

    • Doing this again. Not that any increase in the percentage of votes counted seems to make any difference whatsoever in the Associated Press calling states:[4]

      State Percent counted Leader Electoral Votes
      Alaska 50 Donald Trump 3
      Georgia 99 Joe Biden 16
      North Carolina 99 Donald Trump 15
      Nevada 84 Joe Biden 6
      Pennsylvania 99 Joe Biden 20

      Yeah, I’m seeing rumblings on Twitter that media organizations (yes, I’m ignoring Vox) are delaying calling the vote for non-statistical reasons. I’m not a statistician. I’m not going to evaluate the arguments. But this ‘caution’ seems to undermine the point of having networks call results: The writing here is on the wall. There’s almost no way Trump can win. Everyone outside the Trump camp, which presumably continues to devise schemes to retain power,[5] even the recalcitrant media organizations themselves, knows this.

  7. November 7, 2020, 10:23 am:

  8. November 7, 2020, 12:14 pm:

    • The Associated Press has called Pennsylvania for Joe Biden, pushing him well beyond the 270 electoral vote threshold.[6]

  9. November 8, 2020, 10:41 am:

  10. November 8, 2020, 9:38 pm:

    • It does not appear that Donald Trump is anxious to give up power,[7] but probably because of his delusional raging narcissism, and probably because of the legal and financial difficulties he faces when he leaves office,[8] he is refusing to concede,[9] rather tweeting, “I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!”[10] and launching frivolous challenges to vote counts.[11] Of course, none of this is even remotely surprising and we still need to worry about possible right wing militia violence.[12]


Election

So as I was tossing and turning this morning, resisting waking up, I checked my smartphone. And there was a surprise for me:[13]

State Percent counted Leader Electoral Votes
Alaska 50 Donald Trump 3
Georgia 99 Joe Biden 16
North Carolina 99 Donald Trump 15
Nevada 87 Joe Biden 6
Pennsylvania 98 Joe Biden 20

Georgia. Are you fucking kidding me? Georgia? Yes, Joe Biden is in the lead in Georgia, though the Associated Press still hasn’t called it, even with 99 percent counted. And Pennsylvania, I gotta tell you, also still uncalled, at 97 percent counted, still had Donald Trump in the lead. The latter state has only flipped to favoring Biden, now at 98 percent counted,[14] in the time I’ve been working on this issue.

Assuming that Biden maintains his lead in Georgia, Nevada, and Pennsylvania, he would amass 306 electoral votes. If North Carolina flips too, a possibility that I now have to concede, the total would rise to 321. I’ve been pretty certain that Biden has won this election since yesterday.[15] I am more so today. It will remain the case, however, that the margins in these swing states have been incredibly narrow. Yes, Joe Biden will have managed, barely, to defeat a contender for worst president in U.S. history.[16] Polarization persists. Trumpism is far from repudiated. The Senate likely remains under Republican control. The Democratic majority in the House of Representatives is weaker.[17]

It’s worth revisiting some earlier words of wisdom, words I have dispensed with as I wrongly thought remaining states were likely predictable:

The assumptions—and my assumptions—that have accompanied this have been that urban ballots were more likely to break for Democrats and that mail-in ballots were more likely to break for Democrats. And while in many areas, it appears that the urban-rural divide has indeed intensified,[18] I think perhaps that in Pennsylvania, especially southwestern Pennsylvania,[19] this may not, to the same degree, be the case.

Jason Togyer explored[20] Trumpsters’ toxic masculinity, such as we have both seen it in southwestern Pennsylvania,[21] and wondered how Trump coming down with COVID-19 would play: Would the legacy of struggle for labor rights prevail or this?[22]

Opponents of face masks have given me a number of not-very-convincing theories why they can’t or shouldn’t wear them. But any boy who grew up in the Mon Valley knows the real reason: men don’t want to wear face masks because it implies they’re vulnerable. It’s not macho. By mocking [Joe] Biden’s face mask, [Donald] Trump was implying that his opponent is a sissy. On Tuesday [October 6], Fox News commentator Tomi Lahren, a close ally of the president, tweeted a video of Biden wearing a face mask and added, “Might as well carry a purse with that mask, Joe.”

Yet now Trump’s masculinity has almost literally turned toxic. Trump and more than a dozen of his closest allies, as well as several members of the White House press corps, have tested positive for COVID-19. Even after Trump was hospitalized and medicated some of his surrogates continued to insist that the president would somehow cure himself of the deadly disease merely by acting tough.

Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler tweeted a pro-wrestling video that was edited to show Trump body-slamming a coronavirus molecule. US Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida tweeted, “President Trump won’t have to recover from COVID. COVID will have to recover from President Trump.” 

On the day of his release Trump himself urged followers “don’t be afraid of COVID”—as if only cowards will succumb to a disease that has now killed 210,000 Americans. After arriving back at the White House following three days at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, he wasted no time publicly removing his face mask, despite the fact that he’s still struggling with the symptoms of COVID-19 and is still infectious to the people around him.

Trump’s behavior, in other words, has gone from tough to reckless.[23]

Having been bullied my entire life—my time in higher education and at Linuxcare are the sole exceptions—it’s to be expected that the toxic masculinity will speak more loudly to me than that legacy of labor struggle. It remains possible that my lens might not be so distorting.

At an end of conservatism I would not immediately associate with toxic masculinity, I find myself wondering what, given the choice between Biden and Trump, Richard Weaver would do. Weaver was the segregationist traditionalist conservative (before paleoconservatism was a separate tendency) whose work, Visions of Order,[24] I analyzed for my practicum (a part of my Ph.D. program). To be honest, I can’t see him voting for either Biden or Trump. He’d almost certainly take Trump’s authoritarian police “thin blue line” side against Black Lives Matter but he would be appalled by Trump’s egotism, narcissism, and, I have to say, Trump’s business ‘problems.’[25] Indeed, Weaver would surely denounce Trump as a fraud, albeit without ever naming him. I can’t imagine him voting for Biden either, despite the latter’s segregationist past.[26]

Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, “Trump team eyes legal, political Hail Marys as options for comeback fade,” Politico, November 6, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/06/trump-legal-political-lawsuit-election-434786

David Nakamura, “Trump’s bid to discredit election raises fear that he will undermine a smooth transfer of power,” Washington Post, November 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-concession-transition-power/2020/11/07/2b4cf640-20e4-11eb-b532-05c751cd5dc2_story.html


  1. [1]New Yorker, “Election 2020,” retrieved November 6, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/election-2020/live-2020-presidential-election-results
  2. [2]Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, “Trump team eyes legal, political Hail Marys as options for comeback fade,” Politico, November 6, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/06/trump-legal-political-lawsuit-election-434786
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Bloody November,” Not Housebroken, October 13, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/08/bloody-november/; 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/
  4. [4]New Yorker, “Election 2020,” retrieved November 6, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/election-2020/live-2020-presidential-election-results
  5. [5]Max Boot, “What if Trump loses but insists he won?” Washington Post, July 6, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/06/what-if-trump-loses-insists-he-won/; Rosa Brooks, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Washington Post, September 3, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/09/03/trump-stay-in-office/; Will Bunch, “Trump’s diabolical plan to blow up democracy, get reelected and avoid jail just might work,” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 5, 2019, https://www.philly.com/opinion/commentary/trump-wants-impeachment-2020-reelection-strategy-blame-democrats-ignore-subpoenas-20190505.html; Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, “Trump team eyes legal, political Hail Marys as options for comeback fade,” Politico, November 6, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/06/trump-legal-political-lawsuit-election-434786; Chris Cillizza, “What happens if Donald Trump refuses to admit he lost in 2020?” CNN, May 6, 2019, https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2019/05/06/politics/donald-trump-2020-election/index.html; Democracy Now!, “What If Trump Refuses to Accept a Biden Victory? A Look at How Electoral Chaos Could Divide Nation,” August 3, 2020, https://www.democracynow.org/2020/8/3/nils_gilman_2020_election_scenarios; Barton Gellman, “The Election That Could Break America,” Atlantic, September 23, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/11/what-if-trump-refuses-concede/616424/; Mehdi Hasan, “Yes, Let’s Defeat or Impeach Donald Trump. But What If He Refuses to Leave the White House?” Intercept, March 6, 2019, https://theintercept.com/2019/03/06/donald-trump-impeachment-2020/; Colby Itkowitz, “Trump won’t commit to a ‘peaceful transfer of power’ if he loses,” Washington Post, September 23, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-transfer-of-power/2020/09/23/be6954d0-fdf0-11ea-b555-4d71a9254f4b_story.html; Ed Kilgore, “How Trump Is Trying to Ensure an Early Election Night Lead,” New York, August 13, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/08/trump-voters-could-vote-in-person-and-give-him-early-lead.html; Eric Lach, “What Happens if Donald Trump Fights the Election Results?” New Yorker, August 21, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/campaign-chronicles/what-happens-if-donald-trump-fights-the-election-results; Robert McCartney, “Here’s one way Trump could try to steal the election, voting experts say,” Washington Post, August 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/heres-one-way-trump-could-try-to-steal-the-election-voting-experts-say/2020/08/16/b5bf0c2a-de66-11ea-b205-ff838e15a9a6_story.html; Peter Nicholas, “Trump Could Still Break Democracy’s Biggest Norm,” Atlantic, June 16, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/06/when-does-trump-leave-white-house/613060/; Greg Sargent, “On Hannity’s show, Trump reveals his corrupt, panicky endgame,” Washington Post, October 9, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/10/09/hannity-trump-reveals-his-corrupt-panicky-endgame/; Felicia Sonmez, “Trump declines to say whether he will accept November election results,” Washington Post, July 19, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-declines-to-say-whether-he-will-accept-november-election-results/2020/07/19/40009804-c9c7-11ea-91f1-28aca4d833a0_story.html; Isaac Stanley-Becker, “Claiming two years of his presidency were ‘stolen,’ Trump suggests he’s owed overtime,” Washington Post, May 6, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/05/06/claiming-two-years-his-presidency-were-stolen-trump-suggests-hes-owed-overtime/; Timothy E. Wirth and Tom Rogers, “How Trump Could Lose the Election—And Still Remain President,” Newsweek, July 3, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/how-trump-could-lose-election-still-remain-president-opinion-1513975
  6. [6]New Yorker, “Election 2020,” retrieved November 6, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/election-2020/live-2020-presidential-election-results
  7. [7]Josh Barro, “What If Trump Is All Too Eager to Give up Power?” New York, October 19, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/10/what-if-trump-is-all-too-eager-to-give-up-power.html
  8. [8]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/; Jonathan Chait, “Trump Says He Might Leave the Country If He Loses. Does He Mean It?” New York, October 17, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/10/trump-may-leave-country-if-he-loses-prison-criminal-prosecution.html; 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
  9. [9]David Nakamura, “Trump’s bid to discredit election raises fear that he will undermine a smooth transfer of power,” Washington Post, November 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-concession-transition-power/2020/11/07/2b4cf640-20e4-11eb-b532-05c751cd5dc2_story.html
  10. [10]Donald Trump, quoted in David Nakamura, “Trump’s bid to discredit election raises fear that he will undermine a smooth transfer of power,” Washington Post, November 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-concession-transition-power/2020/11/07/2b4cf640-20e4-11eb-b532-05c751cd5dc2_story.html
  11. [11]Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, “Trump team eyes legal, political Hail Marys as options for comeback fade,” Politico, November 6, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/06/trump-legal-political-lawsuit-election-434786; David Nakamura, “Trump’s bid to discredit election raises fear that he will undermine a smooth transfer of power,” Washington Post, November 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-concession-transition-power/2020/11/07/2b4cf640-20e4-11eb-b532-05c751cd5dc2_story.html
  12. [12]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/
  13. [13]New Yorker, “Election 2020,” retrieved November 6, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/election-2020/live-2020-presidential-election-results
  14. [14]New Yorker, “Election 2020,” retrieved November 6, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/election-2020/live-2020-presidential-election-results
  15. [15]David Benfell, “Pollyanna and ‘horrible, racist, mean-spirited people,’” Irregular Bullshit, November 5, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/11/05/pollyanna-and-horrible-racist-mean-spirited-people/
  16. [16]Nicholas Goldberg, “Is Trump the worst president ever? He’s got some competition,” Los Angeles Times, October 20, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-10-20/the-worst-president-in-american-history
  17. [17]Marc Fisher, “The end of democracy? To many Americans, the future looks dark if the other side wins,” Washington Post, October 25, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/end-of-democracy-election/2020/10/25/3b8c0940-13d0-11eb-ba42-ec6a580836ed_story.html; Owen Jones, “Even if Biden wins, the world will pay the price for the Democrats’ failures,” Guardian, November 5, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/05/biden-democrats-democratic-trump; Nathan Robinson, “Trump should have lost in a landslide. The fact that he didn’t speaks volumes,” Guardian, November 5, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/05/trump-should-have-lost-in-a-landslide-the-fact-that-he-didnt-speaks-volumes; Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, “Election reveals deeper divides between red and blue America,” Washington Post, November 4, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/america-divided-rural-urban/2020/11/04/8ddac854-1ebf-11eb-b532-05c751cd5dc2_story.html; Ishaan Tharoor, “Trumpism is here to stay,” Washington Post, November 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2020/11/05/trumpism-here-to-stay/
  18. [18]Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, “Election reveals deeper divides between red and blue America,” Washington Post, November 4, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/america-divided-rural-urban/2020/11/04/8ddac854-1ebf-11eb-b532-05c751cd5dc2_story.html
  19. [19]Jason Togyer, “Fear and Loathing in the Time of Coronavirus,” Columbia Journalism Review, March 25, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/special_report/mckeesport-year-of-fear-covid-19-pandemic.php
  20. [20]Jason Togyer, “Will the sons of steelworkers see Trump’s COVID-19 behavior as strong, or reckless?” Columbia Journalism Review, October 6, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/special_report/year-of-fear-pennsylvania-steel-trump-masculinity-covid.php
  21. [21]David Benfell, “The Donald Trump supporters’ campaign message: Fuck Your Feelings,” Not Housebroken, August 26, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/26/the-donald-trump-supporters-campaign-message-fuck-your-feelings/; David Benfell, “Natural-born or trained killers,” Not Housebroken, October 25, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/10/25/natural-born-or-trained-killers/; Priya Elan, “The data is in: men are too fragile to wear Covid-19 masks. Grow up, guys,” Guardian, July 3, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jul/03/covid-19-masks-men-masculinity; Jason Togyer, “Will the sons of steelworkers see Trump’s COVID-19 behavior as strong, or reckless?” Columbia Journalism Review, October 6, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/special_report/year-of-fear-pennsylvania-steel-trump-masculinity-covid.php
  22. [22]Jason Togyer, “Will the sons of steelworkers see Trump’s COVID-19 behavior as strong, or reckless?” Columbia Journalism Review, October 6, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/special_report/year-of-fear-pennsylvania-steel-trump-masculinity-covid.php
  23. [23]Jason Togyer, “Will the sons of steelworkers see Trump’s COVID-19 behavior as strong, or reckless?” Columbia Journalism Review, October 6, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/special_report/year-of-fear-pennsylvania-steel-trump-masculinity-covid.php
  24. [24]Richard M. Weaver, Visions of Order (Louisiana State University, 1964; Wilmington, DE: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 1995).
  25. [25]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/; Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig, and Mike McIntire, “Trump’s Taxes Show Chronic Losses and Years of Income Tax Avoidance,” New York Times, September 27, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/09/27/us/donald-trump-taxes.html; Brian Faler, “Treasury misses congressional deadline for turning over Trump’s tax returns,” Politico, April 10, 2019, https://www.politico.com/story/2019/04/10/trump-tax-returns-congress-1342027; Bess Levin, “G.O.P. Voters Think Losing $1 Billion Makes Someone (Trump) a Good Businessman,” Vanity Fair, May 15, 2019, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/05/republicans-still-think-trump-was-a-successful-businessman; 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; Walter Shapiro, “The Worst Businessman in America,” New Republic, May 8, 2019, https://newrepublic.com/article/153855/trump-tax-returns-worst-businessman-america; Craig Unger, “Trump’s Russian Laundromat,” New Republic, July 13, 2017, https://newrepublic.com/article/143586/trumps-russian-laundromat-trump-tower-luxury-high-rises-dirty-money-international-crime-syndicate
  26. [26]Stephen Collinson, “Joe Biden gets in his own way on race,” CNN, June 20, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/20/politics/joe-biden-race-2020-election/index.html; Michael Kranish and Laura Meckler, “Joe Biden called busing a ‘liberal train wreck.’ Now his stance on school integration is an issue,” Washington Post, June 28, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/joe-biden-called-busing-a-liberal-train-wreck-now-his-stance-on-school-integration-is-an-issue/2019/06/28/557705dc-99b3-11e9-830a-21b9b36b64ad_story.html; Derecka Purnell, “Black Americans are in an abusive relationship with the Democratic party,” Guardian, May 22, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/may/22/black-americans-joe-biden-democratic-party-relationship; Greg Sargent, “Joe Biden is badly undermining his ability to challenge Trump,” Washington Post, June 20, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/06/20/joe-biden-is-badly-undermining-his-case-against-trump/; Matt Viser and Annie Linskey, “Tensions ripple through Biden campaign as his past working relationship with a segregationist senator comes to the forefront,” Washington Post, June 20, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/tensions-ripple-through-biden-campaign-as-his-past-working-relationship-with-a-segregationist-senator-comes-to-the-forefront/2019/06/20/2518afe6-9394-11e9-b570-6416efdc0803_story.html

If you think presidential immunity is going away, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you

I was wondering what my mother was talking about. Now, I see that the previous issue got mangled by an HTML error, which went uncorrected until today (several days had elapsed), which created a confusing entry, and which I have now corrected. My apologies.


Donald Trump

There is a new blog entry from yesterday entitled, “When the legitimacy of the system itself is threatened,” and another new one today entitled, “The problem of presidential immunity.”

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


Zionism and U.K. Labour

Anti-Semitism

There is a new blog post entitled, “Where any opposition to Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories, no matter how mild, is construed as institutional anti-Semitism.”

Times of Israel, “UK Labour suspends unrepentant Jeremy Corbyn after damning anti-Semitism report,” October 29, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/uk-labour-suspends-jeremy-corbyn-following-release-of-anti-semitism-report/

Asa Winstanley, “UK ‘Labour anti-Semitism’ probe finds only two ‘unlawful acts,’” Electronic Intifada, October 29, 2020, https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/asa-winstanley/uk-labour-anti-semitism-probe-finds-only-two-unlawful-acts


Depression

Dominic Rushe, “For most Americans the crisis is far from over whatever the GDP numbers may say,” Guardian, October 29, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/oct/29/us-gdp-figures-crisis


The U.S. Postal Service gets its overtime back

Zeta


Fig. 1. 72-hour gif of the Eastern U.S. and Mexico, as of 8:01 pm EDT, October 28, 2020.


Postal Service

Neither mailboxes[1] nor sorting machines[2] are mentioned in this latest coverage of an order that seems essentially to require the Postal Service to allow overtime as needed to restore service to levels preceding[3] Louis DeJoy’s orders in July.[4]

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


  1. [1]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/; 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; 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
  2. [2]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/; 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; 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; 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; 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; 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
  3. [3]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
  4. [4]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; 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

The third surge of COVID-19

Pandemic

There is a new blog post entitled, “The lesson of the pandemic: An incremental approach won’t save us.”

Karen Kaplan, “U.S. deaths are about 300,000 higher than expected since the coronavirus arrived,” Los Angeles Times, October 20, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2020-10-20/excess-deaths-in-united-states-since-coronavirus-arrived


Academia

As I was out driving, I noticed one day that banners around the Carnegie-Mellon University campus focused not on academics or scholarship, but on social connection, with lots of smiling (unmasked and not socially-distanced) faces.

But [Soneida] Rodriguez, the resident adviser, said those concessions [in response to an RA strike] haven’t fixed an underlying problem: The [University of Michigan] appears more concerned with giving students the full “college experience” than with protecting public health, she said.

“They’re trying to justify the tuition price,” she said.[1]

Universities are supposed to be sanctuaries for the dissemination and acquisition of knowledge. At least coincidentally with the political embrace of neoliberal dogma, they’ve taken on an entirely different role in what was already an anti-intellectual society.

This is a problem anyway. In a pandemic, it’s an even bigger one.[2]

Michael Vasquez, “‘It’s Negligence’: U. of Michigan Students Ordered to ‘Stay in Place’ After Covid-19 Cases Surge,” Chronicle of Higher Education, October 20, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/its-negligence-u-of-michigan-students-ordered-to-stay-in-place-as-covid-19-cases-surge


Housekeeping

I’ve been stressing out lately. As I put it recently,

I haven’t been sleeping well. Between the difficult navigation and the asshole drivers in Pittsburgh,[3] combined with road conditions that are significantly increasing my maintenance costs, I’m terrified the whole time I’m driving, which I do for Uber and Lyft because it’s the only job I can get even with a Ph.D.[4] I’m stressing out. My heart is pounding when I’m out. And when I wake up, I am short of sleep, unable to sleep more.[5]

But a couple of interesting things have happened. First, when I had to replace that last set of tires, after a mere 21,000 miles, I went ahead and pulled out the money to upgrade the sound system in the car. That is now done. The music does help soothe the savage beast of stress from a situation I cannot adapt to and cannot change.

Then a headlight went out. I’ve been going through a lot of bulbs since I got to Pittsburgh and every time one goes out, I lose time that I could spend working. I was feeling like this was costing me too much money. I stopped back at the place where I got the sound system upgraded and, sure enough, they’ve been able to replace a bunch of the bulbs with LEDs. The LED headlights significantly improve my ability to see at night, even to help avoid potholes, hopefully sparing my front end from some damage.

The LED turn signals improve the visibility of those signals; other drivers are more apt to see and respond to the signals. The backup camera that came with the sound system and the dramatically brighter LED backup lights make it a lot easier and safer when I need to turn around in narrow places, of which in Pittsburgh there are many.

A lot of it, however, feels like status. The LED lights convey an impression of a more expensive car than the 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid actually is. In Pittsburgh, that seems to matter. I’m getting a lot less harassment from obnoxious drivers.

It’s still stressful. I’m still in that situation I cannot adapt to and cannot change. But maybe my blood pressure isn’t so high now.


  1. [1]Michael Vasquez, “‘It’s Negligence’: U. of Michigan Students Ordered to ‘Stay in Place’ After Covid-19 Cases Surge,” Chronicle of Higher Education, October 20, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/its-negligence-u-of-michigan-students-ordered-to-stay-in-place-as-covid-19-cases-surge
  2. [2]Carl T. Bergstrom, “The CDC Is Wrong,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 14, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/The-CDC-Is-Wrong/249174; Francie Diep, “More Colleges Are Responding to Covid-19 Surges With 2-Week Quarantines. Do They Work?” Chronicle of Higher Education, September 17, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/more-colleges-are-responding-to-covid-19-surges-with-2-week-quarantines-do-they-work; Tim Elfrink, “‘We’ve got to do better than this’: College students raise alarm by packing bars, avoiding masks,” Washington Post, August 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/08/17/alabama-georgia-college-parties-covid/; Lindsay Ellis, “Colleges Hoped for an In-Person Fall. Now the Dream is Crumbling,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 20, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/colleges-hoped-for-an-in-person-fall-now-the-dream-is-crumbling; Audrey Williams June, “Over 450 Colleges Are in Coronavirus Hot Spots,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 9, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/Over-450-Colleges-Are-in/249156; Robert Kelchen, “Colleges Aren’t Reopening in the Fall,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 18, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/Colleges-Aren-t-Reopening-in/248803; Eric Kelderman, “Colleges Are Making Late Calls to Shut Campuses. Is It All About the Money?” Chronicle of Higher Education, August 25, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/colleges-are-making-late-calls-to-shut-campuses-is-it-all-about-the-money; Vivian S. Lee, Vindell Washington, and Robert M. Califf, “The Bad Science of Reopening,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 28, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/the-bad-science-of-reopening; Katherine Mangan, “Health Experts Warn Colleges Not to Send Students Home. But What if Quarantine Spaces Run Out?” Chronicle of Higher Education, September 7, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/health-experts-warn-colleges-not-to-send-students-home-but-what-if-they-run-out-of-quarantine-space; Kery Murakami, “Fauci Urges Colleges Not to Send Students Home,” Inside Higher Ed, September 4, 2020, https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2020/09/04/fauci-urges-colleges-not-send-students-home; Notre Dame University, “Notre Dame enacts two weeks of remote instruction,” August 18, 2020, https://news.nd.edu/news/notre-dame-enacts-two-weeks-of-remote-instruction/; Vimal Patel, “A Grad Strike, a Court Fight, a No-Confidence Vote: U. of Michigan Struggles Over Its Campus Reopening,” Chronicle of Higher Education, September 16, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/a-grad-strike-a-court-fight-a-no-confidence-vote-u-of-michigan-struggles-over-its-campus-reopening; Colleen Shalby, “California colleges tried to prepare for COVID-19 outbreaks. It didn’t work,” Los Angeles Times, October 7, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-10-07/as-californias-universities-reopen-off-campus-activity-contributes-to-spike-in-covid-19-cases; Andy Thomason, “After Only One Week, Chapel Hill Abandons In-Person Fall Semester,” Chronicle of Higher Education, August 17, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/after-only-one-week-chapel-hill-abandons-in-person-fall-semester; Michael Vasquez, “‘It’s Negligence’: U. of Michigan Students Ordered to ‘Stay in Place’ After Covid-19 Cases Surge,” Chronicle of Higher Education, October 20, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/its-negligence-u-of-michigan-students-ordered-to-stay-in-place-as-covid-19-cases-surge
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Pittsburgh driving for the uninitiated,” Irregular Bullshit, n.d., https://disunitedstates.com/pittsburgh/pittsburgh-driving-for-the-uninitiated/
  4. [4]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Normalized ‘property rights,’” Not Housebroken, September 23, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/23/normalized-property-rights/