The GameStop Squeeze

See updates through February 2, 2021, at end of post.


So a curious thing happened when a bunch of Reddit users got together and counteracted a move by hedge funds to “short” stocks in GameStop and a few other companies,[1] essentially doing to hedge funds what those same funds routinely do to ordinary investors[2] and forcing the funds to cover their positions at an estimated cost approaching $71 billion.[3] Robinhood, an app that apparently enables users to trade in fractions of shares, and other platforms clamped down, restricting the trades and sparking howls about hypocrisy.[4] (Robinhood has now partly rescinded its freeze, claiming, unconvincingly to some, that its actions were necessary to comply with federal requirements.[5]) Read more

  1. [1]Matt Phillips and Taylor Lorenz, “‘Dumb Money’ Is on GameStop, and It’s Beating Wall Street at Its Own Game,” New York Times, January 27, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/27/business/gamestop-wall-street-bets.html
  2. [2]Eric Levitz, “Robinhood Banning GameStop Proves the Free Market Is a Lie,” New York, January 28, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/01/robinhood-ban-gamestop-share-price-explained.html
  3. [3]Sujata Rao, “Losses on short positions in U.S. firms top $70 billion – Ortex data,” Reuters, January 28, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-retail-trading-shortbets-idUSKBN29X1SW
  4. [4]Eric Levitz, “Robinhood Banning GameStop Proves the Free Market Is a Lie,” New York, January 28, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/01/robinhood-ban-gamestop-share-price-explained.html; Hamza Shaban, “GameStop stock roars back after Robinhood lifts trading freeze,” Washington Post, January 29, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/01/29/gamestop-stocks-robinhood-reddit/
  5. [5]Hamza Shaban, “GameStop stock roars back after Robinhood lifts trading freeze,” Washington Post, January 29, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/01/29/gamestop-stocks-robinhood-reddit/

Hypocrisy, Pennsylvania Style

In California, I used to love to go for long drives along the California coast. There is a wildness along the shores of the Pacific and in the forests that I loved. I mourned as vineyards ate up more and more farmland.

In Pennsylvania, when I find myself in rural spaces, I am beset by a wholly unpleasant dissonance. On the one hand, the countryside is spectacular, with deciduous forests more lush than anything I ever saw in California. The farmland recalls memories of my childhood—I had farming relatives—and still look the same. The towns have a look, particularly with small churches with steeples, that you simply won’t find out west. Read more

The media and the Left

See update for February 1, 2021, at end of post.


One of the people I follow on Twitter was talking about “unity,” a reference I initially thought was to that sought by mainstream Democrats who subvert progressive ideals to neoliberal ends,[1] but turns out to be to that sought by a member of the Boogaloo Bois, a right wing militia group. A member and possible leader of the group, who identifies himself as Magnus Panvidya, espouses capitalist libertarian views, emphasizing socially liberal ideas, including legalized sex work and drugs, and diminishing to near-nonexistence the economic ideas that principally mark capitalist libertarianism in an interview by the self-admittedly controversial YouTube star, Jimmy Dore.[2] The Boogaloo Bois have been described as Read more

  1. [1]David Benfell, “Voting for complicity,” Not Housebroken, October 1, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/20/voting-for-complicity/; David Benfell, “On ‘Unity Over Division,’” Not Housebroken, October 8, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/10/08/on-unity-over-division/
  2. [2]Jimmy Dore, “Radicalized Michigan Anarchist Seeks Unity With The Left,” video, 39:38, January 24, 2021, https://youtu.be/5ZMB9052rEs

John Fetterman’s delusion

Pennsylvania’s Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, who is contemplating a run for the U.S. Senate to fill retiring Pat Toomey’s seat,[1] keeps posting shit like this:

There are a couple problems here, one of which I’ll dispense with quickly so I can get to the other. Read more

  1. [1]NEXTpittsburgh, “Why does Lt. Gov. John Fetterman want to run for Senate?” Public Source, January 15, 2021, https://www.publicsource.org/why-does-lt-gov-john-fetterman-want-to-run-for-senate/

About any repeat of the January 6, 2021, insurrection on or before Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Please do not share or comment on social networks prior to January 21, 2021.


See updates through January 22, 2021, at bottom of post.


I was contemplating holding back on publication of this blog post until following Joe Biden’s inauguration. I’ve never done anything like that before. This would have been a first. But I am also realizing that I have a vanishingly small readership and that among that readership, there may be some who could benefit from having their fears allayed.

The first thing I have to say about Trumpsters is that these are vile, horrible, despicable, hateful people. What I have seen, driving around southwestern Pennsylvania, and read, both in the course of doing my dissertation and since, convinces me that there is no redemption for them; they delight in cruelty. They (and most other conservatives, including mainstream Democrats) fully deserve an awful, miserable, humiliating end. I hope that such an end comes with minimal casualties among those police and military who defend the inauguration. Read more

Riot or insurrection? Lies or madness?

See updates through January 22, 2021, at bottom of post.


To recap the story thus far, on January 6, 2021, as Congress was meeting to deliver the final certification of Joe Biden’s presidential election victory last November (2020), a mob overran the U.S. Capitol, protesting, utterly without evidence,[1] that the election was stolen. They disrupted the count which nonetheless ultimately proceeded with the expected result.[2] Donald Trump, the incumbent who lost, is credibly accused of inciting an insurrection for his remarks preceding the riot.[3]

Read more

  1. [1]David Benfell, “When it’s over but it isn’t,” Not Housebroken, December 21, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/27/when-its-over-but-it-isnt/
  2. [2]Ted Barrett, Manu Raju, and Peter Nickeas, “US Capitol secured, woman dead after rioters stormed the halls of Congress to block Biden’s win,” CNN, January 6, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/us-capitol-lockdown/index.html; Talia Lavin, “The Violent Crescendo of the MAGA Conspiracies,” New Republic, January 6, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/160814/trump-protesters-attack-us-capital; Rebecca Tan et al., “Trump supporters storm U.S. Capitol, with one woman killed and tear gas fired,” Washington Post, January 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trump-supporters-storm-capitol-dc/2021/01/06/58afc0b8-504b-11eb-83e3-322644d82356_story.html
  3. [3]Andrew G. McCabe and David C. Williams, “Trump’s New Criminal Problem,” Politico, January 11, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/01/11/trumps-new-criminal-problem-457298

The State of the Disunion, 2021

See updates through January 22, 2021, at end of post.


In the wake of the January 6 (2021) riot, in which Trumpsters overran the U.S. Capitol while Congress was meeting to certify Joe Biden’s November (2020) election victory,[1] with the apparent connivance of many in the U.S. Capitol Police,[2] a question that should be on people’s minds is, what now? Read more

  1. [1]Ted Barrett, Manu Raju, and Peter Nickeas, “US Capitol secured, woman dead after rioters stormed the halls of Congress to block Biden’s win,” CNN, January 6, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/us-capitol-lockdown/index.html; Talia Lavin, “The Violent Crescendo of the MAGA Conspiracies,” New Republic, January 6, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/160814/trump-protesters-attack-us-capital; Rebecca Tan et al., “Trump supporters storm U.S. Capitol, with one woman killed and tear gas fired,” Washington Post, January 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trump-supporters-storm-capitol-dc/2021/01/06/58afc0b8-504b-11eb-83e3-322644d82356_story.html
  2. [2]Kyle Cheney, Sarah Ferris, and Laura Barrón-López, “‘Inside job’: House Dems ask if Capitol rioters had hidden help,” Politico, January 8, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/08/congress-democrats-capitol-riot-inside-job-456725; Kurtis Lee, Jaweed Kaleem, and Laura King, “‘White supremacy was on full display.’ Double standard seen in police response to riot at Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, January 7, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-01-07/la-na-washington-capitol-police-attack-race

The danger that remains

See updates through January 22, 2021, at end of post.


In the wake of yesterday’s (January 6, 2021) violence, in which Trumpsters overran the U.S. Capitol, disrupting the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory from last November (2020),[1] I would offer two major comments. Read more

  1. [1]Ted Barrett, Manu Raju, and Peter Nickeas, “US Capitol secured, woman dead after rioters stormed the halls of Congress to block Biden’s win,” CNN, January 6, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/us-capitol-lockdown/index.html; Talia Lavin, “The Violent Crescendo of the MAGA Conspiracies,” New Republic, January 6, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/160814/trump-protesters-attack-us-capital; Rebecca Tan et al., “Trump supporters storm U.S. Capitol, with one woman killed and tear gas fired,” Washington Post, January 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trump-supporters-storm-capitol-dc/2021/01/06/58afc0b8-504b-11eb-83e3-322644d82356_story.html

Market homelessness

See update for April 7, 2021, at end of post.


As I drive around the Pittsburgh area, there is a dissonance that I feel I should be able to do something about, but can’t.

I see more homeless people this year than last, perhaps because I’m more familiar with the area (I moved here less than two years ago), but also surely because more are homeless, due to severe economic conditions which our elite have refused to relieve,[1] largely due to neoliberal dogma.[2] Millions of people in the U.S. have lost their jobs. Millions have been pushed into poverty.[3] Millions are an average of over $5,000 behind on their rent.[4] And evictions—legal, not-so-legal, and outright prohibited but enabled anyway—have continued despite moratoriums against them and many, many more are expected.[5] Indeed, the apartment complex where I live is among the offenders.[6] Read more

  1. [1]David Benfell, “Imagine a malicious elite,” Not Housebroken, December 30, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/18/imagine-a-malicious-elite/; David Benfell, “The mysterious expectation that elites give a damn,” Not Housebroken, December 30, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/01/the-mysterious-expectation-that-elites-give-a-damn/
  2. [2]David Benfell, “A piper needs paying,” Not Housebroken, December 30, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/19/a-piper-needs-paying/
  3. [3]Heather Long, “Nearly 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty since the summer,” Washington Post, December 16, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/16/poverty-rising/
  4. [4]Heather Long, “Millions of Americans are heading into the holidays unemployed and over $5,000 behind on rent,” Washington Post, December 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/07/unemployed-debt-rent-utilities/
  5. [5]Associated Press, “Tenants Behind on Rent in Pandemic Face Harassment, Eviction,” U.S. News and World Report, June 14, 2020, https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/virginia/articles/2020-06-13/tenants-behind-on-rent-in-pandemic-face-harassment-eviction; Regina Garcia Cano and Michael Casey, “Wave of evictions expected as moratoriums end in many states,” Associated Press, August 4, 2020, copy in possession of author; Kriston Capps, “What Happens When the Eviction Bans End?” CityLab, May 29, 2020, https://www.citylab.com/equity/2020/05/pay-rent-eviction-ban-coronavirus-housing-crisis-landlord/612277/; Kriston Capps, “Landlords Challenge U.S. Eviction Ban and Continue to Oust Renters,” CityLab, October 22, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-22/landlords-launch-legal-attack-on-cdc-eviction-ban; Michelle Conlin and Christopher Walljasper, “Time’s up: After a reprieve, a wave of evictions expected across U.S.,” Reuters, October 19, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-housing-eviction-insight/times-up-after-a-reprieve-a-wave-of-evictions-expected-across-u-s-idUKKBN27415U; John Fritze and Nicholas Wu, “Trump administration announces nationwide eviction moratorium through end of the year,” USA Today, September 1, 2020, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/09/01/trump-imposes-eviction-moratorium-because-covid-19-pandemic/5686402002/; Sam Levin, “California landlords are locking out struggling tenants. A ‘tsunami of evictions’ may be next,” Guardian, July 30, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jul/30/california-covid-19-evictions-landlords-tenants; Eric Levitz, “This Recession Is a Bigger Housing Crisis Than 2008,” New York, July 13, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/07/coronavirus-recession-evictions-crisis-congress.html; Renae Merle, “Evictions are likely to skyrocket this summer as jobs remain scarce. Black renters will be hard hit,” Washington Post, July 6, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/07/06/eviction-moratoriums-starwood/; Gretchen Morgenson, “Large corporate landlords have filed 10,000 eviction actions in five states since September,” NBC News, October 26, 2020, https://www.nbcnews.com/business/personal-finance/large-corporate-landlords-have-filed-10-000-eviction-actions-five-n1244711; Will Parker, “Struggling Rental Market Could Usher in Next American Housing Crisis,” Wall Street Journal, October 27, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/struggling-rental-market-could-usher-in-next-american-housing-crisis-11603791000; Jenny Schuetz, “America’s inequitable housing system is completely unprepared for coronavirus,” Brookings, March 12, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2020/03/12/americas-inequitable-housing-system-is-completely-unprepared-for-coronavirus/; Kyle Swenson, “Renters thought a CDC order protected them from eviction. Then landlords found loopholes,” Washington Post, October 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2020/10/27/trump-cdc-eviction-moratorium-loopholes/
  6. [6]Ryan Deto, “Pittsburgh-area apartment complex The Alden South Hills seeking large-scale evictions,” Pittsburgh City Paper, October 21, 2020, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/pittsburgh-area-apartment-complex-the-alden-south-hills-seeking-large-scale-evictions/Content?oid=18223682