It is what it is

See update for March 4, 2023, at end of post.

I’ve been thinking a lot about corruption lately.

I live in the Pittsburgh area, where the gap between what is and what should be is large. Innuendo, a malicious speculation not about what is known, but rather what is not known lives in that gap. “It is what it is,” I hear people say so often, really capitulating to all that is wrong rather than insisting it be made right. Read more

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Doctors need to act like doctors

See update for February 6, 2022, at end of post.

I think the first thing that needs saying about the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s recent policy guidance, halving the recommended isolation time for infected but asymptomatic and “resolving” people,[1] is that even if indeed the agency feels “exhausted from screaming into the wind,”[2] that people won’t comply with stricter guidance anyway,[3] the agency’s appropriate role is to capitulate neither to such sentiments nor to a capitalist desperation to return to “normal.” These are supposed to be medical doctors, dispensing advice at least principally based on medical science, answering the question of what we should be doing. Read more

  1. [1]Yasmeen Abutaleb, “CDC cuts isolation time recommended for people with asymptomatic coronavirus infections,” Washington Post, December 27, 2021,; Molly Osberg, “The CDC Says We’re All Essential Workers Now,” New Republic, December 29, 2021,
  2. [2]Molly Osberg, “The CDC Says We’re All Essential Workers Now,” New Republic, December 29, 2021,
  3. [3]Quint Forgey, “‘This was the moment’: CDC defends altered guidance amid Omicron surge,” Politico, December 29, 2021,

No excuses: Power, responsibility, and accountability

Every once in a while, it is necessary to make plain what I think should be obvious.

By design,[1] and in effect, there is a single powerful class in the United States, comprised principally of wealthy, white males who hold political, economic, military, and religious power over the rest of us, and who are not amenable to our interests, but rather only to their own.[2] In critical terms, they are the colonizers and we are the colonized.[3] Read more

  1. [1]David Benfell, “A constitutional oligarchy: Deconstructing Federalist No. 10,” Not Housebroken, July 3, 2021,
  2. [2]Noam Chomsky, “The U.S. behaves nothing like a democracy,” Salon, August 17, 2013,; Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens,” Princeton University, April 9, 2014,; C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite: New Edition (Oxford, UK: Oxford University, 2000).
  3. [3]Norman K. Denzin, Yvonna S. Linoln, and Linda Tuhiwai Smith, eds., Handbook of Critical and Indigenous Methodologies (Los Angeles: Sage, 2008).

The Food and Drug Administration needs to get off its patriarchal ass on over-the-counter birth control

It seems that two smaller pharmaceutical companies are leading a fight to make birth control pills available over the counter. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is slow-walking the application process, allegedly being “cautious,” but taking a truly exceptional length of time in doing so. It catches my eye that larger manufacturers of such drugs are apparently not involved in the effort to improve their availability, but lacking an explanation,[1] I guess I’ll have to leave that for another day. Read more

  1. [1]Kate Kelly, “Firms Push to Make Birth-Control Pills Available Without Prescriptions,” New York Times, December 14, 2021,

A hot U.S. civil war turned cold, now lukewarm, may turn hot again

See updates through January 5, 2022, at end of post.

If, indeed, we doubt that the U.S. Civil War of the 19th century resolved much or even really has ended,[1] we might say rather that this once hot war has turned cold, or more recently, with increasing polarization, lukewarm. Dana Milbank does not draw this connection, but in a recent column, warns that a new civil war may occur.[2] I think he understates the danger. Read more

  1. [1]David Benfell, “Pure poison,” Not Housebroken, September 15, 2021,; David W. Blight, “The Civil War Isn’t Over,” Atlantic, April 8, 2015,; Stephan Richter, “Shutdown shows the Civil War never ended,” Salon, October 8, 2013,
  2. [2]Dana Milbank, “‘We are closer to civil war than any of us would like to believe,’ new study says,” Washington Post, December 17, 2021,

The COVID-19 anti-vaccination double standard

Acknowledging the extreme frustration of those of us who are fed up with COVID-19 denial and vaccine refusal, Paul Waldman urges empathy for those he believes to be honestly misinformed:[1]

So the next time you hear a story about another anti-vax right-wing radio host or televangelist who died from covid, rather than chuckling, think of those they put at risk, the gullible or distracted people more likely to become infected because of them, and the ripples of loss spreading from them.[2]

To say I’m skeptical would attribute me entirely too much generosity and I believe that this is a generosity that, with overwhelmed hospitals and burned out medical staff, we cannot afford.[3] COVID-19 and information around it do not exist in a theoretical ethical isolation. Read more

  1. [1]Paul Waldman, “The red covid wave is here,” Washington Post, December 17, 2021,
  2. [2]Paul Waldman, “The red covid wave is here,” Washington Post, December 17, 2021,
  3. [3]David Benfell, “What we owe anti-vaxxers in a life-threatening pandemic,” Not Housebroken, December 18, 2021,

An unconventional obituary

Now this[1] is an obituary.

It is, of course, written for a character, a real life character, who from the description[2] actually reminds me more than a little of my stepfather, whom I never got along with and who in fact contributed to difficulties my mother and I have had in the past, but who otherwise made my mother a very happy woman after a horrendous marriage to my abusive father. Read more

  1. [1]Andy Corren, “Renay Mandel Corren,” Fayetteville Observer, December 15, 2021,
  2. [2]Andy Corren, “Renay Mandel Corren,” Fayetteville Observer, December 15, 2021,

How much does Donald Trump’s profanity against Binyamin Netanyahu matter?

I don’t know to what extent Mike Evans, a former Donald Trump advisor, is right about evangelical Protestant support for Binyamin Netanyahu even above Trump.[1] Any schism among Trump’s supporters has to be a tempting prospect for Democrats who, having spectacularly failed to deliver,[2] will need all the help they can get in upcoming elections.

Trump, being the dangerously sore loser he is,[3] recently expressed anger about the congratulations Netanyahu extended to Joe Biden over the latter’s election victory. Apparently Evans, who presumes to speak for evangelical Protestants, is a strong Netanyahu supporter[4] and it’s worth remembering that many on the right face a similar predicament to that of many on the left: As a practical matter in a two-party system, it will be a Democrat or a Republican that gets elected and the question for them will be which of those two parties will get their votes, either by commission or by omission. My guess is that many would choose Trump in 2024 even if they’re holding their noses when they do it. Read more

  1. [1]Times of Israel, “Don’t make us choose — you or Israel: Evangelical warns Trump over Netanyahu rift,” December 15, 2021,
  2. [2]David Benfell, “Democrats and contradiction,” Not Housebroken, December 7, 2021,
  3. [3]David Benfell, “The danger that still remains,” Not Housebroken, December 11, 2021,
  4. [4]Times of Israel, “Don’t make us choose — you or Israel: Evangelical warns Trump over Netanyahu rift,” December 15, 2021,

Trumpism, Donald Trump, the January 6 coup attempt, and a smoking gun that may never be found

See updates through January 28, 2022, at end of post.

Undoubtedly something like much of what Greg Sargent thinks happened,[1] that Donald Trump cheered the January 6 coup attempt on rather than restraining it and that people in his orbit desperately sought ways to keep him in the presidency, did indeed happen.[2] But 1) we really should be waiting for the investigating Congressional committee’s final report, that is, assuming the committee has time to produce it;[3] and 2) I’m thinking the result, while disappointing to many, will show something actually more dangerous. Read more

  1. [1]Greg Sargent, “Mark Meadows’s coverup of Trump’s coup attempt is falling apart,” Washington Post, December 13, 2021,
  2. [2]Laura E. Adkins and Emily Burack, “Neo-Nazis, QAnon and Camp Auschwitz: A guide to the hate symbols and signs on display at the Capitol riots,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 7, 2021,; Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, “FBI report warned of ‘war’ at Capitol, contradicting claims there was no indication of looming violence,” Washington Post, January 12, 2021,; 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,; Jacques Billeaud, “Rioters accused of erasing content from social media, phones,” Associated Press, July 3, 2021,; Emma Brown et al., “Election denier who circulated Jan. 6 PowerPoint says he met with Meadows at White House,” Washington Post, December 11, 2021,; Philip Bump, “‘The coup didn’t work’ is not a reassuring argument,” Washington Post, October 4, 2021,; Jonathan Chait, “Trump Sycophants Pleading for Less Coup Talk at Saturday Rally,” New York, June 4, 2021,; Kyle Cheney et al., “Steve Bannon indicted for defying Jan. 6 committee investigation,” Politico, November 12, 2021,; Alexa Corse, “Capitol Police Officer Describes Fighting ‘Hand to Hand, Inch by Inch’ in Jan. 6 Testimony,” Wall Street Journal, July 27, 2021,; Emily Davies et al., “‘Justice for J6’ rally starts and ends with small crowds and tight security,” Washington Post, September 18, 2021,; Alistair Dawber, “This is how I’m going to die: Officer feared Capitol mob would kill him,” Times, July 28, 2021,; Meaghan Ellis, “DOJ sounds alarm over Trump’s insinuations that he’ll be ‘reinstalled’ in August,” Salon, July 10, 2021,; Matt Ford, “The Dark Side of Steve Bannon’s Contempt Case,” New Republic, November 17, 2021,; Jamie Gangel et al., “‘They’re not going to f**king succeed’: Top generals feared Trump would attempt a coup after election, according to new book,” CNN, July 14, 2021,; Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney, “DOJ probing sedition in connection with Capitol riot,” Politico, January 12, 2021,; Tom Hamburger and Jacqueline Alemany, “Biden White House leans toward releasing information about Trump and Jan. 6 attack, setting off legal and political showdown,” Washington Post, September 23, 2021,; Brad Heath and Sarah N. Lynch, “U.S. says Capitol rioters meant to ‘capture and assassinate’ officials – filing,” Reuters, January 15, 2021,; Jeremy Herb et al., “Congress completes electoral count, finalizing Biden’s win after violent delay from pro-Trump mob,” CNN, January 7, 2021,; Peter Hermann, “‘Some are still suffering’: Months after Capitol riot, police who fought the mob contend with physical, psychological pain,” Washington Post, July 24, 2021,; Fiona Hill, “Yes, It Was a Coup. Here’s Why,” Politico, January 11, 2021,; Spencer S. Hsu, “500 arrested in Jan. 6 Capitol riot, including first charged with assault on media member, Garland announces,” Washington Post, June 24, 2021,; Spencer S. Hsu, Tom Jackman, and Devlin Barrett, “Self-styled militia members planned on storming the U.S. Capitol days in advance of Jan. 6 attack, court documents say,” Washington Post, January 19, 2021,; Spencer S. Hsu, Rachel Weiner, and Tom Jackman, “Self-styled militia members in three states began planning in November for recruits, weapons ahead of Capitol breach, U.S. alleges,” Washington Post, January 27, 2021,; Cameron Joseph, “‘So, So Angry’: Reporters Who Survived the Capitol Riot Are Still Struggling,” Vice, July 6, 2021,; Quinta Jurecic, “Why the January 6 Investigation Is Weirdly Static,” Atlantic, December 11, 2021,; Ron Kampeas, “Biden: Capitol marauders are ‘thugs, insurrectionists and anti-Semites’ who should be prosecuted,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 8, 2021,; Fred Kaplan, “How the Military Should Deal With Its Michael Flynn Problem,” Slate, June 1, 2021,; Danielle Kurtzleben, “Macho Politics Defined Trump’s Presidency, Culminating With Capitol Riot,” National Public Radio, January 18, 2021,; Talia Lavin, “The Violent Crescendo of the MAGA Conspiracies,” New Republic, January 6, 2021,; Carol D. Leonnig, “Capitol Police intelligence report warned three days before attack that ‘Congress itself’ could be targeted,” Washington Post, January 15, 2021,; Bess Levin, “Trump Has Reportedly Been Telling People He’s Going to Be President Again by August, Which Would Suggest He’s Planning a Coup (Or Has Fully Descended Into Madness),” Vanity Fair, June 1, 2021,; Andrew G. McCabe and David C. Williams, “Trump’s New Criminal Problem,” Politico, January 11, 2021,; Seren Morris, “What Does Insurrection or Sedition Mean? Definition of Words Used To Describe Capitol Riot,” Newsweek, January 7, 2021,; Robert A. Pape, “What an analysis of 377 Americans arrested or charged in the Capitol insurrection tells us,” Washington Post, April 6, 2021,; Robert A. Pape and Keven Ruby, “The Capitol Rioters Aren’t Like Other Extremists,” Atlantic, February 2, 2021,; Ed Pilkington, “Seditionaries: FBI net closes on Maga mob that stormed the Capitol,” Guardian, February 6, 2021,; William Rivers Pitt, “The Rally for the Capitol Mob Fizzled, But This May Be the Calm Before the Storm,” Truthout, September 21, 2021,; Katelyn Polantz, “US takes back its assertion that Capitol rioters wanted to ‘capture and assassinate’ officials,” CNN, January 15, 2021,; Katelyn Polantz, “Prosecutors allege Oath Keepers leader and Proud Boys coordinated before Capitol attack,” CNN, March 24, 2021,; Hannah Rabinowitz and Holmes Lybrand, “Al Gore ‘was a man’ about his election loss, unlike Trump, federal judge says,” CNN, November 22, 2021,; Nicolás Rivero, “Is America experiencing a coup?” Quartz, January 6, 2021,; Kaleigh Rogers, “Jan. 6 Has Given The Right Hundreds Of New Martyrs,” FiveThirtyEight, September 22, 2021,; Geneva Sands, “DHS warns of potential for violence surrounding the ‘Justice for J6’ rally in intelligence brief,” CNN, September 16, 2021,; Alisha Rahaman Sarkar, “Trump predicts America will cease to exist in three years in rambling Newsmax interview,” Independent, September 15, 2021,; Charlie Savage, “Judge Rejects Trump’s Bid to Keep Papers Secret in Jan. 6 Inquiry,” New York Times, November 9, 2021,; Alex Shephard, “Trump’s Republicans Want a Coup,” New Republic, June 1, 2021,; Paul Sonne, “Pentagon restricted commander of D.C. Guard ahead of Capitol riot,” Washington Post, January 26, 2021,; Jonathan Stevenson, “Trump’s Lingering Menace,” New York Review of Books, January 9, 2021,; Matt Stieb, “Capitol Police Suspends Cops for Allegedly Siding With Pro-Trump Mob,” New York, January 11, 2021,; Rebecca Tan et al., “Trump supporters storm U.S. Capitol, with one woman killed and tear gas fired,” Washington Post, January 7, 2021,; Craig Timberg, Drew Harwell, and Marissa J. Lang, “Capitol siege was planned online. Trump supporters now planning the next one,” Washington Post, January 9, 2021,; Aruna Viswanatha, “Conspiracy Charges Filed Over Capitol Riot,” Wall Street Journal, January 19, 2021,; Rachel Weiner and Spencer S. Hsu, “Capitol riot defendants facing jail have regrets. Judges aren’t buying it,” Washington Post, February 26, 2021,; Whitney Wild and Chandelis Duster, “Seven US Capitol Police officers sue former President Trump, Stop the Steal organizers over January 6 riot,” CNN, August 26, 2021,; Jason Wilson, “Police records show threats to kill lawmakers in wake of Capitol attack,” Guardian, May 23, 2021,
  3. [3]Barton Gellman, “Trump’s Next Coup Has Already Begun,” Atlantic, December 6, 2021,; Jackie Calmes, “Trump latest warning sign: Stacking election posts with Big Lie supporters,” Los Angeles Times, December 9, 2021,; Quinta Jurecic, “Why the January 6 Investigation Is Weirdly Static,” Atlantic, December 11, 2021,; Daniel Strauss, “It’s Officially Time to Start Worrying About the January 6 Committee,” New Republic, December 9, 2021,

Always remember: The status quo is worth dying for

See corrections and updates through December 13, 2021, at end of post.

As it happens, I was already awake, because I usually wake up at some gawd-awful hour of the morning, and I was seated at my computer, trying to catch up on the latest, when the blinds on my front room window lit up with a flash. A few seconds later, a loud thunderclap.

I assume this was the same supercell, or at least its remnants, that spawned at least one—whether it was one or several is not yet clear—exceptionally strong tornado along an exceptionally long and long-lasting track stretching from Arkansas to Ohio that has likely killed at least 100 people.[1] Read more

  1. [1]Austyn Gaffney, Abigail Hauslohner, and Scott Wilson, “Deadly tornadoes leave path of destruction across six states: ‘It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen,’” Washington Post, December 11, 2021,; Jason Samenow, “December tornadoes aren’t rare, but Friday’s outbreak was something totally different,” Washington Post, December 12, 2021,