Joe Biden means to win even if it kills the voters

Pandemic

The bipartisan malfeasance exacerbating both the COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting economic collapse has already been documented at considerable length[1] and Aaron Blake pulls some of it together to offer a damning timeline of Donald Trump’s responses diminishing and downplaying the crisis.[2]

But when Joe Biden insists on obvious and blatant bullshit that it is safe to line up to vote in person at a starkly reduced number—from 180 to five—of polling places in Wisconsin,[3] the message is clear that he means to win even if it kills off the entire electorate. This virus is an indictment of our entire political system and Blake’s article[4] is only part of the story.

Scott Bixby and Hunter Woodall, “Biden: Voting in Wisconsin Is Safe. Locals: It Could Kill Us,” Daily Beast, April 7, 2020, https://www.thedailybeast.com/joe-biden-says-voting-in-the-wisconsin-primary-is-safe-locals-say-it-could-kill-them

Aaron Blake, “The timeline of Trump’s coronavirus response is increasingly damning,” Washington Post, April 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/04/07/timeline-trumps-coronavirus-response-is-increasingly-damning/

John McCormick and Alexa Corse, “Wisconsin Voters Go to Polls Despite Coronavirus Pandemic,” Wall Street Journal, April 7, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/wisconsin-holds-election-despite-coronavirusafter-efforts-to-delay-failed-11586270200


  1. [1]David Benfell, “Why do Republicans seem better prepared to present proposals on coronavirus relief than Democrats?” Irregular Bullshit, March 20, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/03/20/why-do-republicans-seem-better-prepared-to-present-proposals-on-coronavirus-relief-than-democrats/; David Benfell, “While neoliberal hot air floats over gig workers’ heads, here’s the Trump administration,” Not Housebroken, March 23, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/03/23/while-neoliberal-hot-air-floats-over-gig-workers-heads-heres-the-trump-administration/; Adam Gaffney, “Trump sees the coronavirus as a threat to his self-interest – not to people,” Guardian, March 17, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/17/trump-sees-the-coronavirus-as-a-threat-to-his-self-interest-not-to-people; Susan B. Glasser, “A President Unequal to the Moment,” New Yorker, March 12, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-trumps-washington/a-president-unequal-to-the-moment; Sarah Jones, “Dear Rich People: Please Stop Hoarding Things,” New York, March 30, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/things-are-bad-and-rich-people-arent-helping.html; Nick Martin, “This Is Crisis Colonization,” New Republic, March 30, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/157091/crisis-colonization; Dana Milbank, “For Trump, a reckoning has come,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/trump-reckoning-has-come/; Ashley Parker, Yasmeen Abutaleb, and Lena H. Sun, “Squandered time: How the Trump administration lost control of the coronavirus crisis,” Washington Post, March 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-coronavirus-response-squandered-time/2020/03/07/5c47d3d0-5fcb-11ea-9055-5fa12981bbbf_story.html; David Remnick, “How the Coronavirus Shattered Trump’s Serene Confidence,” New Yorker, March 22, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/03/30/how-the-coronavirus-shattered-trumps-serene-confidence; Paul Waldman, “How coronavirus has deeply flummoxed conservative media,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/how-coronavirus-has-deeply-flummuxed-conservative-media/; Kevin D. Williamson, “History Called — and Senator Burr Called His Broker,” National Review, March 20, 2020, https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/03/history-called-and-senator-burr-called-his-broker/
  2. [2]Aaron Blake, “The timeline of Trump’s coronavirus response is increasingly damning,” Washington Post, April 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/04/07/timeline-trumps-coronavirus-response-is-increasingly-damning/
  3. [3]Scott Bixby and Hunter Woodall, “Biden: Voting in Wisconsin Is Safe. Locals: It Could Kill Us,” Daily Beast, April 7, 2020, https://www.thedailybeast.com/joe-biden-says-voting-in-the-wisconsin-primary-is-safe-locals-say-it-could-kill-them; John McCormick and Alexa Corse, “Wisconsin Voters Go to Polls Despite Coronavirus Pandemic,” Wall Street Journal, April 7, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/wisconsin-holds-election-despite-coronavirusafter-efforts-to-delay-failed-11586270200
  4. [4]Aaron Blake, “The timeline of Trump’s coronavirus response is increasingly damning,” Washington Post, April 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/04/07/timeline-trumps-coronavirus-response-is-increasingly-damning/

Bill Peduto should answer for this gun

Gratuitous Guns

IMG_20200404_184854
Fig. 1. Cannon in Brookline Park. Photograph by author, April 4, 2020.

I have yet another addition to the gratuitous guns collection, this time in Brookline Park, near Dormont, but within the City of Pittsburgh. It’s on the other side of Route 51 from Carrick. Most of the people I pick up in Brookline are white; almost everyone I pick up in Carrick is Black. This addition thus continues a theme of placing these “memorials” in and around predominantly Black areas.

I haven’t seen this particular gun before, even though I go through Brookline fairly often, so I think it’s new, which just absolutely disgusts me. We need less of this nonsense, not more of it. The map (figure 2) has been updated. Photographs are here; the map is here.


Fig. 2. Map of gratuitous guns.

I am also noting that, given that this gun has indeed been newly placed, that its placement occurred on allegedly progressive Mayor Bill Peduto’s watch. Peduto, too, now must answer why these guns are necessary to memorialize war and war dead and why these displays seem so consistently to valorize armed whites and almost never armed Blacks.[1] And I still want to know why this (figure 3), pointed directly at Carrick High School, a high school for crying out loud, is allowed to exist at all.
IMG_0072
Fig. 3. Photograph by author, December 31, 2019.


  1. [1]David Benfell, “The banners and the guns: Flagrant racism in Pittsburgh,” Not Housebroken, October 12, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/09/20/the-banners-and-the-guns-flagrant-racism-in-pittsburgh/

COVID-19 might be with us for a while

Pandemic

Yet more criticism has emerged of the models used by the White House and others to project a “flattening of the curve.” The problem here is essentially that, short of a vaccinated or otherwise immune population, the moment you lift the lockdown, the virus is free to spread again.[1] This is consistent with what Joe Pinsker wrote in the Atlantic earlier: Things can return to normal “when enough of the population—possibly 60 or 80 percent of people—is resistant to COVID-19 to stifle the disease’s spread from person to person.”[2] There are a couple ways this can happen: One is that a vaccine is developed—this is unlikely before next spring.[3] Another is that enough folks catch the disease, some asymptomatically, and either recover, hopefully but not certainly gaining immunity, or die. Other folks might—this is unknown—have a natural immunity. And because testing has been so haphazard, we flatly do not know how many people fall into the asymptomatic or immune categories.[4] Either way, it basically amounts to the disease stopping when it runs out of people to infect.

Teghan Simonton, “Pittsburgh professors see flaws in coronavirus modeling, predict more grim outlook,” TribLive, April 3, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/pittsburgh-professors-see-flaws-in-coronavirus-modeling-predict-more-grim-outlook/


  1. [1]Teghan Simonton, “Pittsburgh professors see flaws in coronavirus modeling, predict more grim outlook,” TribLive, April 3, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/pittsburgh-professors-see-flaws-in-coronavirus-modeling-predict-more-grim-outlook/
  2. [2]Joe Pinsker, “The Four Possible Timelines for Life Returning to Normal,” Atlantic, March 30, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2020/03/coronavirus-social-distancing-over-back-to-normal/608752/
  3. [3]Joe Pinsker, “The Four Possible Timelines for Life Returning to Normal,” Atlantic, March 30, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2020/03/coronavirus-social-distancing-over-back-to-normal/608752/
  4. [4]David Benfell, “When ‘good’ news might not be so good,” Not Housebroken, April 4, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/02/when-good-news-might-not-be-so-good/; Joe Pinsker, “The Four Possible Timelines for Life Returning to Normal,” Atlantic, March 30, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2020/03/coronavirus-social-distancing-over-back-to-normal/608752/; Teghan Simonton, “Pittsburgh professors see flaws in coronavirus modeling, predict more grim outlook,” TribLive, April 3, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/pittsburgh-professors-see-flaws-in-coronavirus-modeling-predict-more-grim-outlook/

Madness

Pandemic

I was kind of grumpy this morning. Because I’m pissed now at both Ken Ganley Toyota and Spitzer Toyota, I’d gone to Rohrich Toyota to try and get new windshield wiper blades (this is the time of year to do that here) and found a big sign on the door saying they were closed due to COVID-19.

Auto parts, like auto repair, are an essential service, exempt from the governor’s shutdown order. And I don’t like aftermarket windshield wiper blades so I always go to a dealer for these.

So I went to South Hills Toyota in Washington County. I had to fill out a night drop form, including the vehicle identification number (VIN), and leave it in the service bay. This after having ordered the parts on the phone.

Normally, I just go to the parts counter and they install the new windshield wiper blades. And as it happened (I found this out after I’d failed at Rohrich) I also needed a battery for my keyless entry fob, making all this all the more urgent—another parts counter function.

And in the end, this was really what it pretty much came down to, apart from having to leave the car in the service bay and walk away because I couldn’t even wait in their waiting room.

So I walked across the street to a Sheetz convenience store. While trying to figure out what I’d order or purchase, the service department called me and informed me that they’d need the car all day because I didn’t have an appointment. I just told them, no. I’d come back and retrieve the car.

As I was walking back, there was the parts guy replacing the windshield wiper blades. He said it’d just take a few seconds, explained the guy from the service department. As I carefully maintained an ample social distance between myself and them, he then replaced the battery in the fob and informed me there’s a little corrosion there—bad news, but the fob can be replaced at some expense.

So in the end, I accomplished what I set out to accomplish, which was great, but the drama seems more than a bit much.

I know I’ve been asking how long we can go on with a precipitous economic collapse. Apart from that is the question of how long I can sustain this madness.

David Roth is blistering on both Donald Trump and media coverage of Trump,[1] who, along with fellow Republicans, seems to have used an initial denial and minimization of the seriousness of COVID-19 to cover a retreat from stocks[2] and to enable his fellow Republicans to develop a stimulus plan that, at the time and to many, seemed serious.[3] But what remains crystal clear is that the poor still cannot afford to stop working and rarely have the opportunity to work from home.[4]

David Roth, “The Enduring Delusion of a Chastened Trump,” New Republic, April 3, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/157154/enduring-delusion-chastened-trump

Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, Denise Lu, and Gabriel J.X. Dance, “Location Data Says It All: Staying at Home During Coronavirus Is a Luxury,” New York Times, April 3, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/04/03/us/coronavirus-stay-home-rich-poor.html


  1. [1]David Roth, “The Enduring Delusion of a Chastened Trump,” New Republic, April 3, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/157154/enduring-delusion-chastened-trump
  2. [2]Adam Gaffney, “Trump sees the coronavirus as a threat to his self-interest – not to people,” Guardian, March 17, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/17/trump-sees-the-coronavirus-as-a-threat-to-his-self-interest-not-to-people; Susan B. Glasser, “A President Unequal to the Moment,” New Yorker, March 12, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-trumps-washington/a-president-unequal-to-the-moment; Dana Milbank, “For Trump, a reckoning has come,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/trump-reckoning-has-come/; Ashley Parker, Yasmeen Abutaleb, and Lena H. Sun, “Squandered time: How the Trump administration lost control of the coronavirus crisis,” Washington Post, March 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-coronavirus-response-squandered-time/2020/03/07/5c47d3d0-5fcb-11ea-9055-5fa12981bbbf_story.html; David Remnick, “How the Coronavirus Shattered Trump’s Serene Confidence,” New Yorker, March 22, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/03/30/how-the-coronavirus-shattered-trumps-serene-confidence; Paul Waldman, “How coronavirus has deeply flummoxed conservative media,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/how-coronavirus-has-deeply-flummuxed-conservative-media/; Kevin D. Williamson, “History Called — and Senator Burr Called His Broker,” National Review, March 20, 2020, https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/03/history-called-and-senator-burr-called-his-broker/
  3. [3]Jeff Stein et al., “Senate Republicans release massive economic stimulus bill for coronavirus response,” Washington Post, March 19, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/19/trump-coronavirus-economic-plan-stimulus/
  4. [4]Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, Denise Lu, and Gabriel J.X. Dance, “Location Data Says It All: Staying at Home During Coronavirus Is a Luxury,” New York Times, April 3, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/04/03/us/coronavirus-stay-home-rich-poor.html

A milestone: Over one million COVID-19 cases

Oops. It appears I forgot to publish this last night. And at least as of this particular ungodly hour, there’s nothing much new.


Pandemic

FireShot Capture 123 - COVID-19 Map - Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center_ - coronavirus.jhu.edu
Fig. 1. The Johns Hopkins COVID-19 map shows that there have now been over one million cases, with something approaching a quarter of those in the U.S. Screenshot as of 9:10 pm.[1]

There were two new blog posts yesterday:

  1. The first, from that morning, was entitled, “The worst of times and the worst of humanity.
  2. The second, from last evening, is entitled, “When ‘good’ news might not be so good. This is in response to Philip Bump’s article,[2] and it turns out there are lots of questions about the White House models and projections[3] he described.[4]

Philip Bump, “Decoding the graphs that may have saved millions of American lives,” Washington Post, April 1, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/04/01/decoding-graphs-that-may-have-saved-millions-american-lives/

William Wan et al., “Experts and Trump’s advisers doubt White House’s 240,000 coronavirus deaths estimate,” Washington Post, April 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/04/02/experts-trumps-advisers-doubt-white-houses-240000-coronavirus-deaths-estimate/


  1. [1]Center for Systems Science and Engineering, “Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases,” April 1, 2020, Johns Hopkins Universityhttps://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html
  2. [2]Philip Bump, “Decoding the graphs that may have saved millions of American lives,” Washington Post, April 1, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/04/01/decoding-graphs-that-may-have-saved-millions-american-lives/
  3. [3]William Wan et al., “Experts and Trump’s advisers doubt White House’s 240,000 coronavirus deaths estimate,” Washington Post, April 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/04/02/experts-trumps-advisers-doubt-white-houses-240000-coronavirus-deaths-estimate/
  4. [4]Philip Bump, “Decoding the graphs that may have saved millions of American lives,” Washington Post, April 1, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/04/01/decoding-graphs-that-may-have-saved-millions-american-lives/

Richly deserved self-criticism as a means to preservation?

Pandemic

The headline attached to a New York article by Sarah Jones is woefully inadequate—look at the URL and you’ll see a better (probably earlier, maybe even chosen by Jones herself) one. It isn’t just that rich people are hoarding things, but that they’re hoarding badly needed medical equipment and supplies and expect to jump to the head of the queue for a vaccine when and if one is ever developed. And it isn’t just that they’re hoarding, but that their mistreatment of workers extends to failure to provide protective equipment and to being chintzy about sick leave. And it isn’t just all that but that they’re fleeing to places that lack the medical infrastructure to deal with the virus they’re bringing with them and that the rich folks in Congress are doing such an inadequate job of responding to the economic pain of the shutdown.[1]

I have to say this article[2] is causing me pause—and not on the merits of the article itself. Though I didn’t actually use any New York articles for discourse historical analysis in my dissertation, I classified New York as a functionalist conservative publication in my dissertation work. Functionalist conservatism is all about preserving the privileges of the rich and powerful against everyone else.[3] So no, I’m not expecting a screed against the rich and powerful such as Jones’[4] to appear there unless some richly deserved self-criticism is a means to preservation.

I hadn’t thought things had reached that point, but then I’m not in New York City.[5]

Then there’s the, oh, so special case of Liberty University. Some Christians handle snakes as a demonstration of their faith; when they get bitten it isn’t because they were playing with snakes but because they didn’t have enough faith! Jerry Falwell, Jr., on the other hand, decided to invite students back to Liberty University in defiance of the governor’s “stay at home” order. Eleven students now exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, one has it.[6] Which of course means a bunch of them likely do. But we’ll just say they lacked faith!

Katherine Mangan, “As Liberty University Reports First Covid-19 Case, Students and Parents Grapple With Conflicting Information,” Chronicle of Higher Education, March 30, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/As-Liberty-University-Reports/248382/

Sarah Jones, “Dear Rich People: Please Stop Hoarding Things,” New York, March 30, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/things-are-bad-and-rich-people-arent-helping.html


  1. [1]Sarah Jones, “Dear Rich People: Please Stop Hoarding Things,” New York, March 30, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/things-are-bad-and-rich-people-arent-helping.html
  2. [2]Sarah Jones, “Dear Rich People: Please Stop Hoarding Things,” New York, March 30, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/things-are-bad-and-rich-people-arent-helping.html
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  4. [4]Sarah Jones, “Dear Rich People: Please Stop Hoarding Things,” New York, March 30, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/things-are-bad-and-rich-people-arent-helping.html
  5. [5]David Benfell, “‘Bodies piling up. Refrigerator trucks for corpses,’” Irregular Bullshit, March 28, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/03/28/bodies-piling-up-refrigerator-trucks-for-corpses/
  6. [6]Katherine Mangan, “As Liberty University Reports First Covid-19 Case, Students and Parents Grapple With Conflicting Information,” Chronicle of Higher Education, March 30, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/As-Liberty-University-Reports/248382/

Do these people even hear themselves?

Pandemic

There is a new blog post entitled, “The capitalist death cult.” It is from an early draft of this post that I draw this issue’s title.

Meanwhile, Uber seems to have drawn at least some drivers back on the road by making it easy for them to also do Uber Eats deliveries. I avoid deliveries because, in my experience, the pay is about half what one gets for transporting people, because there are often parking issues—and possible citations—at both ends, and because discrepancies between what customers think they ordered and what they actually ordered are apt to be blamed on the drivers. But in addition, when it comes to food, I’m vegan and it is an ethical issue for me to deliver any animal products. So I’ll only do it if I have no choice and I’m not at that point yet. Yet.

Yascha Mounk, “This Is Just the Beginning,” Atlantic, March 25, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/national-shutdown-least-bad-option/608683/

Erica Werner, Paul Kane, and Mike DeBonis, “Trump signs $2 trillion coronavirus bill into law as companies and households brace for more economic pain,” Washington Post, March 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2020/03/27/congress-coronavirus-house-vote/


 

Scary times

Pennsylvania

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

I don’t know how long that will work.

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

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

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


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

The devil and the deep blue sea

Gig economy

Funda Ustek-Spilda et al., “The untenable luxury of self-isolation,” New Internationalist, March 18, 2020, https://newint.org/features/2020/03/18/untenable-luxury-self-isolation


Coronavirus

Center for Systems Science and Engineering, “Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases,” March 24, 2020, Johns Hopkins University, https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html


Elon Musk, our rich white knight in shining armor

Elon Musk

There is a new blog post entitled, “Elon Musk, groan, again.”

Tim Higgins, “Elon Musk’s Defiance in the Time of Coronavirus,” Wall Street Journal, March 20, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/elon-musks-defiance-in-the-time-of-coronavirus-11584733458

Jack Morse, “Ventilator manufacturers aren’t impressed by Elon Musk’s offer,” Mashable, March 21, 2020, https://mashable.com/article/experts-doubt-tesla-elon-musk-manufacture-ventilators/

Zachary Shahan, “Elon Musk: Should Have 1000 Ventilators Next Week, + 250,000 N95 Masks For Hospitals Tomorrow,” CleanTechnica, March 21, 2020, https://cleantechnica.com/2020/03/21/elon-musk-should-have-1000-ventilators-next-week-250k-n95-masks-for-hospitals-tomorrow-cleantechnica-exclusive/


Coronavirus

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice is looking for power to, among other things, abrogate habeas corpus.[1] Just so we know where their priorities lie.

Betsy Woodruff Swan, “DOJ seeks new emergency powers amid coronavirus pandemic,” Politico, March 21, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/21/doj-coronavirus-emergency-powers-140023


  1. [1]Betsy Woodruff Swan, “DOJ seeks new emergency powers amid coronavirus pandemic,” Politico, March 21, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/21/doj-coronavirus-emergency-powers-140023