I don’t need excuses. I don’t need platitudes. I need a real job.

Sometime in February—I’m not sure of the precise date—it will have been 21 years that I’ve been seeking work. And sometime similarly in April, because they gave us two months notice, it will have been 21 years since I’ve held a real job. I was 41 when this search began. I am 62 now.

In that time, I have returned to school, finished a B.A., an M.A., and a Ph.D. But the only job I have been able to find is driving for Uber and Lyft. Read more

I am no longer an anarchist

See updates through June 8, 2022, at end of post.

I continue to believe that anarchism has much to recommend it.

An authoritarian system of social organization, such as we now have, is unquestionably cruel. Political and economic leaders are not more moral than the rest of us, yet on a bogus claim of “merit,” we find ourselves with a caste system, with the rich isolating themselves from lower classes by multiple means[1] and the poor stigmatized[2] and incarcerated to keep workers conformant.[3] The rich rely on, consciously or otherwise, the divisions by any means humans can find to separate ourselves into “us” and “them” to preserve their own power and privileges over the rest of us.[4] The system of (in)justice has been reduced to incoherent bullying and murder.[5] Read more

  1. [1]John Asimakopoulos, The Political Economy of the Spectacle and Postmodern Caste (Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2020); Peter W. Cookson, Jr., and Caroline Hodges Persell, “The Vital Link: Prep Schools and Higher Education,” in Great Divides, ed. Thomas M. Shapiro, 3rd ed. (New York: McGraw Hill, 2005), 380-391; G. William Domhoff, “The American Upper Class,” in Great Divides, ed. Thomas M. Shapiro, 3rd ed. (New York: McGraw Hill, 2005), 156-164; Christopher Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy (New York: Crown, 2012); C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite (1956; repr., New York: Oxford University, 2000); Ralph H. Turner, “Sponsored and Contest Mobility and the School System,” in Great Divides, ed. Thomas M. Shapiro, 3rd ed. (New York: McGraw Hill, 2005), 71-76.
  2. [2]Herbert J. Gans, The War Against the Poor (New York: Basic, 1995).
  3. [3]Steven E. Barkan, Criminology: A Sociological Understanding, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006); Jeffrey Reiman, The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison, 7th ed. (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2004); Dan Simon, In Doubt (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, 2012).
  4. [4]David Benfell, “We ‘need to know how it works,’” Not Housebroken, March 19, 2012, https://disunitedstates.org/2012/03/19/we-need-to-know-how-it-works/
  5. [5]David Benfell, “On police,” Not Housebroken, January 29, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/10/on-police/

Free speech, COVID-19, and responsibility

In Canonsburg, not very far at all from where I now live, there is a historical marker for a theater where, yes, this is the one, someone yelled fire, producing a panic. The New York Times account of the catastrophe lists over twenty dead and states there were about fifty injured.[1] Sadly, it remains legal both to yell fire in a crowded theater and to insist upon a supposed “marketplace of ideas” to counter false information.[2] Read more

  1. [1]New York Times, “25 DIE, 50 HURT, IN THEATRE RUSH; False Cry of Fire Starts a Stampede in Canonsburg, Penn., Moving Picture Show,” August 27, 1911, https://www.nytimes.com/1911/08/27/archives/25-die-50-hurt-in-theatre-rush-false-cry-of-fire-starts-a-stampede.html
  2. [2]Trevor Timm, “It’s Time to Stop Using the ‘Fire in a Crowded Theater’ Quote,” Atlantic, November 2, 2012, https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/11/its-time-to-stop-using-the-fire-in-a-crowded-theater-quote/264449/

Vladimir Putin is a fool

See updates through June 11, 2022, at end of post.

Fiona Hill thinks Vladimir Putin’s goal is bigger, much bigger, than Ukraine. She thinks he wants the U.S. out of Europe.[1] One might suspect he should have pushed for that when Donald Trump was president because Trump didn’t like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization either.[2] And from what I can see in Hill’s analysis, Putin badly misjudges the U.S. situation and the country’s relationship with NATO.[3] Read more

  1. [1]Fiona Hill, “Putin Has the U.S. Right Where He Wants It,” New York Times, January 24, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/24/opinion/russia-ukraine-putin-biden.html
  2. [2]Julia Ioffe, “Putin’s Post-Trump Tantrum,” Puck News, December 17, 2021, https://puck.news/putins-post-trump-tantrum/
  3. [3]Fiona Hill, “Putin Has the U.S. Right Where He Wants It,” New York Times, January 24, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/24/opinion/russia-ukraine-putin-biden.html

Reasonable and unreasonable doubt in ‘seditious conspiracy’

See updates through August 17, 2022, at end of post.

I do believe we are at an extraordinarily dangerous moment in U.S. history in which we may be turning, by one means or another,[1] from a constitutional oligarchy, which is quite bad enough and which I deplore,[2] into a full-on right-wing dictatorship foundationally imposing an ideology, which I label Trumpism, combining elements of authoritarian populism, paleoconservatism, and social conservatism—tendencies of conservatism I identified in my dissertation[3] and which Donald Trump united for all intents and purposes.[4] Read more

  1. [1]David Benfell, “How Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale moves from fiction to fact,” Not Housebroken, December 7, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/12/01/how-margaret-atwoods-the-handmaids-tale-moves-from-fiction-to-fact/; David Benfell, “How much does Donald Trump’s profanity against Binyamin Netanyahu matter?” Not Housebroken, December 16, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/12/16/how-much-does-donald-trumps-profanity-against-binyamin-netanyahu-matter/; David Benfell, “Trumpism, Donald Trump, the January 6 coup attempt, and a smoking gun that may never be found,” Not Housebroken, December 19, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/12/14/trumpism-donald-trump-the-january-6-coup-attempt-and-a-smoking-gun-that-may-never-be-found/; David Benfell, “A hot U.S. civil war turned cold, now lukewarm, may turn hot again,” Not Housebroken, January 5, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/12/19/a-hot-u-s-civil-war-turned-cold-now-lukewarm-may-turn-hot-again/; David Benfell, “The January 6 counterfactual,” Not Housebroken, January 6, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/01/06/the-january-6-counterfactual/; David Benfell, “The danger that still remains,” Not Housebroken, January 22, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/11/24/the-danger-that-still-remains/
  2. [2]David Benfell, “A constitutional oligarchy: Deconstructing Federalist No. 10,” Not Housebroken, July 3, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/22/a-constitutional-oligarchy-deconstructing-federalist-no-10/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  4. [4]David Benfell, “The seven tendencies of conservatism,” Irregular Bullshit, n.d., https://disunitedstates.com/the-seven-tendencies-of-conservatism/; David Benfell, “A hot U.S. civil war turned cold, now lukewarm, may turn hot again,” Not Housebroken, December 19, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/12/19/a-hot-u-s-civil-war-turned-cold-now-lukewarm-may-turn-hot-again/

Waiting for the snow to melt

See update for January 25, 2022, at end of post.

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 updates through February 4, 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

See update for February 7, 2022, at end of post.

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/