Waiting for the snow to melt

Un-fucking-believable. One might suspect that a warming—it got into the 40s on Wednesday—is what Pittsburgh Public Works is really counting on to clear its roads. There was still plenty of snow and slush lining travel lanes and I was frequently driving through it to get out of traffic to pick passengers up yesterday (Thursday). This is from a storm that struck on Sunday. It is now Friday and they’re reportedly still trying to clear it.[1] Read more

  1. [1]Julia Felton, “Pittsburgh officials say 50 trucks still cleaning snow and ice,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 20, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-officials-say-50-trucks-still-cleaning-snow-and-ice/

Is the Ukraine story really somehow about U.S. politics?

See update for January 23, 2022, at end of post.


To say that U.S. intelligence agencies are not especially trustworthy understates the matter considerably. And the news on Ukraine that has lately managed to survive my bullshit filter all originates with those agencies. First, there was the possible false flag operation to justify an invasion reported about a week ago.[1] Now the U.S. is claiming that Russia is recruiting former government officials to give Ukraine a Russian government with a Ukrainian face, to be backed by Russian occupying forces, and has imposed sanctions on those former officials.[2] Both of these allegations seem entirely plausible to me. And I certainly am concerned for Ukraine.[3] But I am deeply unhappy with the sourcing and there is the possibility of a personal vendetta: Read more

  1. [1]Natasha Bertrand and Jeremy Herb, “US intelligence indicates Russia preparing operation to justify invasion of Ukraine,” CNN, January 14, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/14/politics/us-intelligence-russia-false-flag/index.html
  2. [2]Julian Borger, Luke Harding, and Andrew Roth, “US accuses Russia of conspiring to take over Ukraine government,” Guardian, January 20, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jan/20/us-russia-ukraine-government-sanctions
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Poor Ukraine, so far from God and so close to Russia,” Not Housebroken, January 1, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/01/01/poor-ukraine-so-far-from-god-and-so-close-to-russia/

Dead students learn no lessons

At last, somebody, Sarah Jones, points out that if students get sick from the COVID-19 pandemic, they can’t go to school, and if teachers get sick from the pandemic, they can’t teach. This isn’t the teachers’ fault, but they’re the ones being blamed for asking for some precautions. You know, like making masks available, installing HEPA filtering, like switching to virtual schooling temporarily when case counts rise. And they’re the ones whose own wellness seemingly doesn’t matter.[1] This is all brain-dead shit but we just love bashing teachers. Read more

  1. [1]Sarah Jones, “We’re Having the Wrong Conversation About School,” New York, January 12, 2022, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2022/01/were-having-the-wrong-conversation-about-school.html

Special treatment for Novak Djokovic

See update for January 14, 2022 at end of post.


Residents in Melbourne, Australia, endured a lot, being in some ways more sensible than most, with a 262-day long lockdown,[1] but now here comes an anti-vaccination, indeed, anti-COVID-19 mitigation, unvaccinated Serbian tennis star who somehow—we don’t know how—gained a medical exemption to COVID-19 vaccination requirements,[2] but apparently with, ahem, misstated polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results,[3] so he can play in a tournament. Initially he was granted a visa, which was revoked at the border upon his arrival, then reinstated by a court on procedural grounds.[4] But it turns out the star wasn’t completely accurate in the paperwork, undermining his visa application and the visa can still be revoked at the ministerial level—subject again to judicial review.[5] Read more

  1. [1]Kristin Gelineau, “Amid Djokovic backlash, Australia grapples with omicron wave,” Associated Press, January 12, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-novak-djokovic-sports-health-sydney-37b896e43f91a051990606ef7a963a76
  2. [2]Age, “Djokovic’s views are wrong, but he shouldn’t be booed,” January 5, 2022, https://www.theage.com.au/sport/tennis/djokovic-s-views-are-wrong-but-he-shouldn-t-be-booed-20220105-p59lzr.html
  3. [3]Max Hoppenstedt and Jörn Meyn, “Were the Results of a Positive PCR Test Manipulated?” Spiegel, January 11, 2022, https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/novak-djokovic-were-the-results-of-his-positive-pcr-test-manipulated-a-cf3e7344-e98f-4fc3-8bb3-7727d4795e97
  4. [4]Michael E. Miller, “Novak Djokovic wins case against Australia over canceled visa, clearing path for him to play in Melbourne,” Washington Post, January 9, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/01/09/novak-djokovic-australia-court-visa/
  5. [5]Max Hoppenstedt and Jörn Meyn, “Were the Results of a Positive PCR Test Manipulated?” Spiegel, January 11, 2022, https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/novak-djokovic-were-the-results-of-his-positive-pcr-test-manipulated-a-cf3e7344-e98f-4fc3-8bb3-7727d4795e97; Jon Pye and Rod McGuirk, “Djokovic: Not isolating after COVID infection was ‘error,’” Associated Press, January 12, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/immigration-coronavirus-pandemic-novak-djokovic-sports-health-591c103de643abc147b0fb7e2703afc2

It just doesn’t get any more delusional than Ed Gainey inviting the Republican National Convention to Pittsburgh

It appears that Ed Gainey and Rich Fitzgerald are sticking to their guns[1] with their invitation to the Republican National Committee to hold its convention in Pittsburgh in 2024.[2] Here’s Gainey:

We understand the concerns that some have expressed. Should the city be selected, we are confident in our ability to ensure successful operations for an event of this size and will engage with the RNC and Visit Pittsburgh in relation to their engagement with the city.[3]

Read more

  1. [1]Chandi Chapman, “Republican National Convention possibly coming to Pittsburgh stirs debate,” WTAE, January 10, 2022, https://www.wtae.com/article/republican-national-convention-possibly-coming-to-pittsburgh-stirs-debate/38727467
  2. [2]Chandi Chapman, “Republican National Convention possibly coming to Pittsburgh stirs debate,” WTAE, January 10, 2022, https://www.wtae.com/article/republican-national-convention-possibly-coming-to-pittsburgh-stirs-debate/38727467; Ryan Deto, “Pittsburgh named as finalist to host 2024 Republican National Convention, says report,” Pittsburgh City Paper, January 7, 2022, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/pittsburgh-named-as-finalist-to-host-2024-republican-national-convention-says-report/Content?oid=20886008; Julia Felton, “Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey supports effort to host national political convention, regardless of party,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 10, 2022, https://triblive.com/news/politics-election/pittsburgh-mayor-ed-gainey-supports-effort-to-host-national-political-convention-regardless-of-party/; Alex Isenstadt, “GOP picks final four in 2024 convention search,” Politico, January 7, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/01/07/gop-2024-convention-search-526707; Julian Routh, “Gainey, Fitzgerald among group making pitch for 2024 GOP convention,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 8, 2022, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-local/2022/01/08/City-county-leaders-make-pitch-2024-GOP-convention-Ed-Gainey-Rich-Fitzgerald/stories/202201080041; Ariel Worthy, “Gainey tells GOP Pittsburgh ‘would be excited to host’ 2024 presidential convention, but not everyone agrees,” WESA, January 9, 2022, https://www.wesa.fm/politics-government/2022-01-08/gainey-to-national-republicans-city-would-be-excited-to-host-2024-presidential-convention
  3. [3]Ed Gainey, quoted in Julia Felton, “Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey supports effort to host national political convention, regardless of party,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 10, 2022, https://triblive.com/news/politics-election/pittsburgh-mayor-ed-gainey-supports-effort-to-host-national-political-convention-regardless-of-party/

The January 6 counterfactual

One of the more curious rationalizations for the January 6 coup attempt draws on Thomas Jefferson’s claim that “I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.” Daniel McCarthy’s article in the Spectator is probably the closest you’ll find to an intellectual rationalization for the coup attempt, but it relies on inaccuracies: Read more

Wilkinsburg voters should insist on a better argument than ‘trickle-down’ for a merger into Pittsburgh

See update for January 18, 2022, at end of post.


I wind up in Wilkinsburg a fair amount, in significant part because poor people in Pittsburgh rely heavily on Uber and Lyft to get around. That probably biases my view of the borough. My last ride of the day yesterday, however, was from one of the more gentrified areas, a white couple going to a bar on the Edgewood side of Regent Square along South Braddock Avenue. Read more

Poor Ukraine, so far from God and so close to Russia

It’s been a while since I’ve written on Russian aggression against Ukraine, My opinion now is as it was then: Ukraine is a sovereign country, entitled to its own foreign policy, and Russia has absolutely no right to dictate how Ukraine will govern itself or choose its alliances. Of course, that didn’t stop Vladimir Putin, whose Russia annexed Crimea and invaded and continues to occupy a piece of southeastern Ukraine.[1] I remain disgusted with those whose sole criterion for supporting a country lies in its antagonism to the United States.[2] Read more

  1. [1]David Benfell, “‘Sovereignty’ in Crimea,” Not Housebroken, March 17, 2014, https://disunitedstates.org/2014/03/17/sovereignty-in-crimea/; David Benfell, “In the land of the false analogy,” Not Housebroken, August 28, 2014, https://disunitedstates.org/2014/03/19/in-the-land-of-the-false-analogy/; David Benfell, “It’s back: The Cold War,” Not Housebroken, August 28, 2014, https://disunitedstates.org/2014/04/20/its-back-the-cold-war/
  2. [2]David Benfell, “Democracy Now!’s not-so-good interview with Stephen Cohen on the Ukraine,” Not Housebroken, August 28, 2014, https://disunitedstates.org/2014/02/20/democracy-nows-not-so-good-interview-with-stephen-cohen-on-the-ukraine/