‘Free’ helicopter rides

There’s a passage from Kim Messick, a few years ago, that I have quoted repeatedly, even in my dissertation,[1] because Messick expresses so clearly how authoritarian populists, then the Tea Party,[2] now Trumpsters or MAGAts, who represent a tendency of conservatism that goes back 1,000 years,[3] view the rest of us: Read more

  1. [1]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  2. [2]Kim Messick, “Modern GOP is still the party of Dixie,” Salon, October 12, 2013, https://www.salon.com/2013/10/12/modern_gop_is_still_the_party_of_dixie/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Barack Obama asks, ‘Why is it that the folks that won the last election are so mad all the time?’ Not Housebroken, November 4, 2018, https://disunitedstates.org/2018/11/04/barack-obama-asks-why-is-it-that-the-folks-that-won-the-last-election-are-so-mad-all-the-time/

Well, no, we still don’t know much about the Capitol Hill rioters

The Atlantic is kind of a curious place to publish research that should be subject to peer review but a couple of professors have published an analysis there that they believe shows that arrestees so far in the January 6, 2021, Capitol Hill coup attempt are generally not white supremacists but rather garden variety middle class Trumpsters with no known connections to right-wing extremist groups. Arrests, they acknowledge, are ongoing,[1] which means this study is essentially of the low-hanging fruit, the folks who’ve already been identified and arrested. This is a picture that might change as investigations continue and more folks are arrested and charged. The authors say they Read more

  1. [1]Robert A. Pape and Keven Ruby, “The Capitol Rioters Aren’t Like Other Extremists,” Atlantic, February 2, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/02/the-capitol-rioters-arent-like-other-extremists/617895/

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