Riot or insurrection? Lies or madness?

See update for January 15, 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

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 14, 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

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

Who shall determine our fate?

See update for January 9, 2021, at end of post.


Nearly two months after the fact, Donald Trump’s surrogates are still trying to overturn the election. Still. The latest is a lawsuit claiming that the Electoral Count Act unconstitutionally ties the vice president’s hands in choosing which electoral college votes to count.[1] Read more

  1. [1]Kyle Cheney, “Gohmert suit may force Pence’s hand in effort to overturn Trump’s defeat,” Politico, December 28, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/28/gohmert-suit-pence-overturn-trumps-defeat-451485

Underestimating the gravity of the situation, as Donald Trump faces a White House exit

See updates through January 14, 2021, at end of post.


I remember, out in California, talking to a psychologist friend about Donald Trump. Neither of us could imagine he would last a full four years in office.

My friend noted, correctly as it turned out, that Trump wasn’t actually interested in being president so much as in the attention that winning the presidency had gained him, but thought Trump would find a way to resign or step aside. Read more

Imagine a malicious elite

See updates through December 30, 2020, at end of post.


Imagine you have a pandemic. Imagine that lockdowns meant to limit the spread of that pandemic cause millions to lose their jobs. Imagine that these people have lost their health insurance.[1] Imagine that many of these millions of people remain unemployed, face eviction and homelessness.[2] Imagine that many of these people will move in with relatives and friends, increasing housing density, increasing the opportunity for the virus to spread.[3] Read more

  1. [1]Amy Goldstein, “First, the coronavirus pandemic took their jobs. Then, it wiped out their health insurance,” Washington Post, April 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/first-the-coronavirus-pandemic-took-their-jobs-then-it-wiped-out-their-health-insurance/2020/04/18/1c2cb5bc-7d7c-11ea-8013-1b6da0e4a2b7_story.html
  2. [2]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/
  3. [3]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

About the Iowa Democratic Caucus fiasco and the Iowa Democratic Party audit

I don’t know if anybody even remembers the Iowa Democratic Caucus fiasco, in which folks wondered if we were ever going to get a count. It stirred a lot of suspicion at the time.[1]

Read more

  1. [1]Michael Biesecker and Brian Slodysko, “Maker of glitchy Iowa caucus app has Democratic Party ties,” Associated Press, February 4, 2020, https://apnews.com/5232ce5601996c1de440806ad30fa4fb; Rod Dreher, “DNC Sandbagging Bernie?” American Conservative, February 6, 2020, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/democrats-dnc-sandbagging-bernie/; Reid J. Epstein et al., “How the Iowa Caucuses Became an Epic Fiasco for Democrats,” New York Times, February 9, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/09/us/politics/iowa-democratic-caucuses.html; Andrew Gumbel, “Iowa and the grand tradition of election tech mishaps,” Guardian, February 5, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/feb/05/iowa-election-tech-issues-florida; Natasha Korecki, David Siders, and Alex Thompson, “‘It’s a total meltdown’: Confusion seizes Iowa as officials struggle to report results,” Politico, February 4, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/02/03/iowa-caucus-2020-election-110600; John McCormick and Ken Thomas, “Democratic Caucus Results in Iowa Thrown Into State of Confusion,” Wall Street Journal, February 4, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/iowa-caucuses-to-kick-off-democratic-nominating-contest-11580731200; Isaac Stanley-Becker, “DNC chair calls for recanvass in Iowa,” Washington Post, February 6, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/dnc-chair-calls-for-recanvas-in-iowa/2020/02/06/0ec4dc4c-4906-11ea-9164-d3154ad8a5cd_story.html

The modern Scrooge

When I was a kid, the holiday season was a time for displays of generosity. We knew who the villain was, even if the story was about his redemption, in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.[1]

This year, millions face homelessness, hunger, destitution.[2] The politicians do nothing.[3] They omit the “Bah, Humbug!” But like Ebenezer Scrooge, they say, keep working.[4] As if those millions had jobs.[5] Read more

  1. [1]Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol,” Project Gutenberg, March 4, 2018, https://www.gutenberg.org/files/46/46-h/46-h.htm
  2. [2]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/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “The mysterious expectation that elites give a damn,” Not Housebroken, December 9, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/01/the-mysterious-expectation-that-elites-give-a-damn/
  4. [4]Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol,” Project Gutenberg, March 4, 2018, https://www.gutenberg.org/files/46/46-h/46-h.htm
  5. [5]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/

When the Sword of Damocles hangs instead over the powerless

In what has to be seen as a desperate bid to become profitable—“[t]he company has promised to be profitable on an adjusted basis before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization by the end of next year”—Uber has sold its self-driving car unit.[1] I don’t know any accountants myself, but of course that promise, with those exclusions, has to have them rolling their eyes hard, if not howling on the floors in laughter, because all of those are real costs and there is no rational basis for excluding them. Skepticism that the company will ever be profitable is longstanding.[2] Read more

  1. [1]Heather Somerville, “Uber Sells Self-Driving-Car Unit to Autonomous-Driving Startup,” Wall Street Journal, December 7, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-lyft-face-a-no-sharing-economy-11603710180
  2. [2]Rich Alton, “Basic economics means Uber and Lyft can’t rely on driverless cars to become profitable,” MarketWatch, August 12, 2019, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/basic-economics-means-uber-and-lyft-cant-rely-on-driverless-cars-to-become-profitable-2019-08-12; Eliot Brown, “Uber Wants to Be the Uber of Everything—But Can It Make a Profit?” Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-wants-to-be-the-uber-of-everything-11556909866; Richard Durant, “Uber’s Profitability Problem Is Structural,” Seeking Alpha, August 21, 2019, https://seekingalpha.com/article/4287055-ubers-profitability-problem-structural; Edward Helmore, “Will Uber ever make money? Day of reckoning looms for ride-sharing firm,” Guardian, August 4, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/aug/04/uber-ride-share-lyft-ipo-earnings; Megan McArdle, “Uber can’t keep bleeding money, can it? It apparently thinks it can,” Washington Post, November 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/uber-cant-keep-bleeding-money-can-it-it-apparently-thinks-it-can/2019/11/05/4aa4fec0-000b-11ea-8501-2a7123a38c58_story.html; Tom McKay, “Surprising No One, Uber Continues to Hemorrhage Cash,” Gizmodo, November 4, 2019, https://gizmodo.com/surprising-no-one-uber-continues-to-hemorrhage-cash-1839625062; Stephen Wilmot, “Uber’s Long Road to Profits,” Wall Street Journal, August 22, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ubers-long-road-to-profits-11566471068