Monday, March 30, 2020

Beat the Reaper!

If China has now turned the corner on COVID-19, thank Mike Pompeo and the State Department.  Seven weeks ago they shipped 17.8 tons of medical supplies to the country that was in a "trade war" with us only hours earlier, including personal protective equipment and ventilators.  They bragged about it on February 7, while the World Health Organization was warning of critical shortages all over the world.  But President Xi brushed them aside, assuring Trump that the virus would disappear "like magic" as soon as the weather got warm.  He would never criticize Trump or call him the dumbest sack of shit he ever met, so he's very sharp and smart and more deserving than those governors with their overcrowded hospitals.  I hope China is done with the ventilators and could return them now, please.

But New York doesn't need vents.  Trump says so.  He also accused New York hospitals of "hoarding" ventilators and suggested face masks are being stolen by the help, most of them are not even American, they have all kinds of foreign names when you see them on the lamestream media.  Then he said even more gibberish on Fox & Friends (you can read it or watch it or wait for Yastreblyansky to present it in verse form at The Rectification of Names).  You'll need to take notes as he ranges over poll numbers, windmills, WALL, James Comey, Joe Biden, cows, trucks and World War II, in which apparently Germany was our enemy.  And because sometimes he inadvertently tells the truth, he acknowledged that letting everybody vote would doom the Republicans.  I swear, he said it.

Liberty University is open for business, and they're Claude-Rains-level shocked to find a dozen students reporting COVID-like symptoms.  Most are self-isolating in the dorms, so expect more cases of Mar-a-Lago plague.  But not all religious institutions are being unhelpful -- a Christian group called Samaritan's Purse is building an emergency hospital in New York's Central Park.  In the largest city of the richest country on earth, you could wind up in a MASH unit.  Meanwhile Chad Chronister, who is sheriff of Hillsborough County, Florida, and not a Game of Thrones character, issued an arrest warrant for an evangelical pastor who defied orders and held services yesterday.  Expect much whining about persecuted Christians.

These women!  The one in Michigan and that mayor in New Orleans and always, Nancy Pelosi, who seems to think he hasn't done enough.  Trump not only called her a "sick puppy," but threatened to "take over" San Francisco and "clean it up."  It's practically a giant crack house!  It keeps electing her!  Must do better.  One day, and may it be soon, she'll needle him into a straitjacket.  Let's hope there's video.

As he likes to say, Cadet Bonespurs is a wartime president.  Unfortunately, the wartime president he  resembles is Jefferson Davis.  An unrepentant racist elected by a minority of Americans, he tore the country apart, lost the war, and at the very least should have died in prison.

And now go listen to some Sondheim.  Not much of a ninetieth birthday for our greatest living composer.


Saturday, March 28, 2020

Darkness at the edge of town

As the death toll edges toward 2,000 and nurses demonstrate for protective equipment, the Leader calms the populace by focusing on what matters.  Now his campaign has sent a letter to television stations carrying the dreaded Priorities USA ad, threatening that failure to obey "could put your station's license in jeopardy."

Then Trump put in a call to Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez to see if they rated his work on the coronavirus perfect or merely superb.  Lopez has no medical background, but Rodriguez knows a great deal about steroids, allegedly.  Check the Latino community off the list.

Russia has announced that it is closing its borders so Trump decided it's a great idea.  At least, he wants to isolate New York, although many of its health care professionals and Wall Street brokers live in neighboring states.  Also, New York City is a port and contains two major airports.  Besides, it already has most of the country's diagnosed cases.  What's Russian for "imbecilic"?

Then it was off to Norfolk, where Trump acted like he was launching the hospital ship Comfort and it was completely his idea to send it to New York.  Because like all Republicans, he's filled with compassion.   So why are the signals so mixed this Lenten season?  Trump's evangelicals will look right at you and tell you abortion is murder, and anyone who would consider it is worse than a Nazi.  They knew that Terri Schiavo was just sleeping.  So why are states like Alabama and Tennessee talking about denying scarce ventilators to people with "severe or profound intellectual disabilities"?  Sounds fairly Third Reich to me.  And now the morality MAGAts are calling on older Americans to take one for the economy and get back to work, since they'll probably die soon anyway.  All life is sacred, but apparently some lives are more sacred than others.  And the anti-choice mob are using the pandemic to push the anti-abortion/anti-trans agenda.  What's Russian for "shameless"?

Most of the governors, even Republicans, are out of patience with federal incompetence and inertia, but Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan has been singled out for Hillary-level abuse ("doesn't have a clue," "don't call the woman in Michigan").   Like Cuomo, she should have bought ventilators years ago, even though this is her first year in office.  Why does everyone keep making demands?  It's Saturday. Golf day!  General Motors promises a thousand ventilators in a week.  That's about two percent of what we will need in a week.  "Nobody's done anything like we've been able to do.  Everything I took over was a mess.  It was a broken country."

It sounds more like what we used to call "a broken record."

I haven't found seventeen minutes to listen to "Murder Most Foul," so I can't tell if this is exactly the right moment for Bob Dylan to take up the first Kennedy assassination.  But here is a thrilling talk by Andrew Cuomo to (I think) the New York National Guard.  Some weary countrymen are comparing it to Henry V's Crispin speech.  His dad was pretty good with words, too.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Unreconstructed monster

Trump is confused.  Michigan is red on the electoral college map he carries in his wallet, but it appears to have a Democratic governor.  Moreover, the governor is a woman, and she is not kissing his ass or taking his bullshit.  How did this happen?  What the hell is her name?  Why is everybody always pickin' on me?

"She doesn't get it done and we send her a lot," he told his confessor Father Hannity.  So now Michigan gets nothing.  The state has over 3,600 cases, but most of them are in Detroit and they weren't going to vote for him anyway.  Doctors getting slammed in the urban centers of the richest country on earth are beginning to use the word "triage."  Trump is already performing political triage.

Oh, lordy, the ventilators.  Yesterday he told Hannity he knows we don't need so many.  Today he's screaming at General Motors and Ford to build more right this minute.  He also seems to think New York got "thousands" from some federal stockpile but is refusing to deploy them because they would rather split one between two patients, probably to make him lose the election.  "Hoax" has given way to "plot."

Trump remains fixated on the economy and on getting people out of their homes and back to work.  This has led the nutters to conclude that "shelter in place" is the signal for the imposition of one-world government and the confiscation of prawn-flavoured crisps and AK-47s.  Timothy Wilson sprang into action, plotting to set off a car bomb at a hospital in Belton, Missouri.  His dream was ended by the FBI.  But Gavin Weslee Blake Perry of Wichita Falls, Texas, is still here.  He was arrested for calling for the murder of Nancy Pelosi and other "Satanists."  

The House passed, by voice vote, the Senate's $2 trillion bill to bail out corporations and, if anything is left over, Americans.  This despite the best efforts of a Kentucky twat named Massie, who looks like Rand Paul with mumps.  Robert Reich was on MSNBC saying the bill doesn't go far enough, and Wall Street seems to agree.  I'm impressed they can lay hands on more than two trillion dollars.  (The bill includes a nice little Easter egg for the real estate industry.)

Boris Johnson and his health minister Matt Hancock are COVID-19 positive.  So that herd immunity thing not really working out, eh?

The superstition industry never takes time off.  Tony Spell, who runs the Life Tabernacle Church* in Baton Rouge, had a crowd of a thousand last week and plans to be open for business again on Sunday.  He has to.  As Ralph Drollinger explained, we're experiencing divine wrath because of all the wicked homosexuals.  (Drollinger is significant because he gives bible lessons to half of Trump's cabinet, which is why the Twenty-fifth Amendment was always as forlorn a hope as that crazy stuff in Revelation.)  I hope they both heard about Landon Spradlin, the singing evangelist, who carried the gospel to sinful New Orleans and carried the coronavirus back home to North Carolina, where he died.  As usual, Yahweh is being hit-or-miss with his wrath.

Speaking of religious revivals, Trump has vowed to hold the Republican National Convention as scheduled in August.  He wasn't listening when Dr. Fauci said, "The virus sets the time line."  Are you surprised?

*Thanks to "Doctor" Phil McGraw for giving this dangerous clown a platform.  One day, when this is all over, I'd like to convene a commission to determine whether Oprah has done more harm than good.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

The worst among us

"Only a once-in-a-century leader has the guts to say out loud what the worst among us are really thinking:  everyone other than me is expendable."  (Richard Wolffe, The Guardian)

I could quote and quote from Mr. Wolffe's article, but the last paragraph says it all:  "The coronavirus has no sense of morality:  it just spreads its selfish genes, along with its misery and chaos, as fast as it can.  At long last, this president has finally met his soulmate."

This is not the way Nancy Pelosi planned to spend her eightieth birthday.  Children, grandchildren, presents, cake, and that song which has become the national anthem of washing your hands were probably on her mind a few weeks ago.  Reality intervened.  As a responsible adult with more power than most, she went to work.  Instead of a party, she got the news that America's coronavirus deaths have passed one thousand.  Then she held a press conference to outline what's wrong with the Senate "relief" bill.

You like quotes?  Here's a honey:  "Women, all my friends are saying, you know, this is not a priority, people are dying and I realize that, but they can't get their nails done," Ainsley Earhardt pouted this morning on Fox & Friends.  (See first paragraph.)  Yes, Ainsley, people are dying.  At Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, a borough I'm sure you never visit except to get to the airport, thirteen of them died yesterday from COVID-19.  Their bodies had to be stored in a refrigerated truck because the morgue is full.  Their families were not with them, only exhausted doctors and nurses.  But believe me, I am truly sorry about the state of your cuticles.

Here's another:  "There's no reason to believe that we won't be the next Italy."  That was Governor John Bel Edwards ordering everyone in Louisiana to stay home.  The state has the third highest number of cases in the country and the highest initial growth rate anywhere in the world.  People who survived Hurricane Katrina can't believe this is happening, but the storm only affected the Gulf Coast.

And yet another:  "Food, water, shelter and adequate medical care are paramount for survival, but so too is the ability for an individual to defend his or herself, their family, as well as their home, business and property."  That's Lawrence Keane of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a gun-industry lobbyist who has seen a lot of zombie movies.  Some governors don't consider the neighborhood Blood Bath & Beyond store to be an essential business, and the NSSF wants to change their minds.

A record-breaking 3.28 million people filed unemployment claims this week.  According to the Secretary of the Treasury that's "not relevant," because the Senate bill will provide them with a wholly inadequate check sometime next month.  You can read about what Denmark is doing, but you can't move there in the foreseeable future.  Sorry.  On behalf of his cult audience, Sean Hannity objected that lazy working-class people will up and quit so they can live off all that sweet, sweet unemployment.  If only he could be one of them.  Lachlan?

Jerome Powell was Trump's choice to head the Federal Reserve, but his days there are probably numbered.  This morning he said, "I think the first order of business will be to get the spread of the virus under control and then resume economic activity."  He also said, "We may well be in a recession."  He did not mention Easter.  Deep State operative!

In the end, it all comes back to the professionals.  Crocs is donating shoes to emergency rooms, tattoo artists are giving their protective gear.  And Bill and Hillary Clinton have sent pizza.  What has Trump sent?  Nothing yet, but he wants to send troops to the Canadian border so the "Chinese virus" won't sneak in.  Canada says it's not a good idea, but what do they know?  Trudeau is not a wartime prime minister.

At least we know that nobody could have anticipated this -- except the National Security Council, which produced a 69-page Playbook For Early Response To High-Consequence Emerging Infectious Disease Threats and Biological Incidents in 2016.  Despite that catchy title, and despite briefing the incoming administration the following year,  it gathered dust because everything Obama was deemed doubleplus ungood.

And here we are.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Immanentizing the eschaton

In Turtlecreek Township, Ohio, which is a completely real place, Solid Rock Church held its regular services on Sunday.  Ignoring pleas from the governor, hundreds showed up.  They were not alone in defying the coronavirus -- churches all over the country were open for business.  The consensus seems to be that taking this disease seriously demonstrates a lack of faith, whether in God or Trump is not clear.  The laying on of possibly virus-infested hands was often a feature.  The only conclusion I can draw is that they are tired of waiting.

Believers have been awaiting the return of their messiah for two millennia, with frequent outbreaks of zeal followed by disappointment.  Now they are determined to jump-start the Rapture, where they all get to meet Jesus at the same time.  This is a perhaps never-to-be-repeated chance for the rest of us to have a civilization in America at long last.  As long as they don't infect the innocent.

And don't forget your president!  He's still here, making things worse with every noise that escapes his orange face.  I know he'll want to rapturize too, being such a deep-dish Christian.  No serious medical professional above the rank of candy-striper thinks this pandemic will end soon, but Trump is convinced the war will be over by Easter.  ("I think Easter Sunday and you'll have packed churches all over our country.  I think it would be a beautiful time.  And it's just about the timeline I think is right.")  The First Escort has not announced the resumption of the White House Easter Egg thing, but she's probably busy supervising her Palais de Tennis.  Of course, the haters say it's the economy he cares about, but what else did you expect?  They can go to hell.

By far the most cases of COVID-19 are in New York, where Trump used to live, but some people have noticed that Florida, where he lives now, requested emergency supplies from the federal government on March 11 and got everything they asked for in three days.  Other states, like Oregon and New Jersey, have received something like ten percent.  In other words, just because he doesn't pull out that electoral-vote map every few days doesn't mean he has stopped consulting it.  He also demands praise and gratitude from the governors, singling out Andrew Cuomo for insufficient groveling.  It must be a Christian thing; I don't get it.

It's not as though he does nothing but snarl at reporters and encourage people to swallow aquarium  cleaner.  He got on the phone to President Moon Jae-in of South Korea to beg for request test kits, since they can spare them (they seem to have a good bead on this thing).  Then he got on the phone to Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council for a much longer call about how vital his re-election would be.  President Moon didn't bring up that unpleasantness about the Oscars -- was it only last month? -- and Perkins agreed that politics is much more important than some trivial pandemic.  So, a good day's work.  Ice cream!

The America First Action group seems to agree.  Their lawyers have sent a stern letter to TV stations in several swing states demanding that they stop running an ad from Priorities USA which is essentially a medley of Trump's Greatest Lying Hits about the pandemic, including "Hoax!" "Like a Miracle (It's Gonna Disappear)," "We Did One of the Great Jobs," sing along, you know the words.  So far the response from station managers has been, "Bugger off."   Another PAC, Unite the Country,
has produced a similar ad, but Trump will never see himself compared unfavorably to every Republican president since Reagan because Fox News refuses to carry it.  That should save a few of the $18 million Mike Bloomberg gave the Democratic Party.  Say what you like, he's not a sorehead.

Dr. Anthony Fauci re-appeared at tonight's Trump campaign event (come on, you knew that).  He sounds hoarse but it was good to see him.  Trump can't fire him because he can't do without him.  That might be all the satisfaction we get for a while.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Hope for the best, expect the worst

"This week, it's going to get worse," said Surgeon General Jerome Adams yesterday morning.  He was right.

Trump now holds his public enlightenment sessions around 6 pm, to pre-empt the network news but mostly to avoid unfavorable comparison with Andrew Cuomo's morning briefings.  The governor brought bad news:  the curve is not flattening, the cases are increasing and the federal government is doing nothing.  HHS is sitting on an emergency stockpile of respirators, unable to see that this is the emergency they are waiting for; the Defense Production law continues to languish while "the market" has a chance to solve the problem; too many New Yorkers are still getting up close, with the youngest being the most careless.  (In Atlanta, a girl of twelve is in intensive care, and her cousin says she had no prior health issues.)  Cuomo didn't have to be told that "the pandemic is accelerating," but that's what the World Health Organization says.

But Trump is on the case.  All the people of India have now been told to stay home, the death toll continues to rise in Europe, and even Boris Johnson has been sobered up by events he is in no way prepared to handle.  Trump is indignant about the damage to his beautiful, wonderful economy and wants "the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter," less than three weeks away.  He's got Mnuchin trying to get a $500 billion "relief" fund to spend with no oversight, even as he can't stop whining about the hit his hotels are taking.  The mean Democrats are holding it up because they still want to impeach him with coronavirus.  Also, it has a completely insane defund-Planned-Parenthood provision.

The absence of Dr. Anthony Fauci from White House "briefings" is beginning to cause comment.  The last time I saw him, standing between Trump and Bill Barr, I was actually afraid they would crush him between their looming poundage.  Whether Dr. Fauci voluntarily removed himself from the daily puppet show or was told to stay away, Trump is even more dangerous without him.  He continues to promote unproven drugs he can't pronounce as miraculous cures.  The secret word is "chloroquine," an anti-malarial whose dosage has to be carefully regulated.  A married couple in Arizona who still believe Trump remembered they had some on the shelf and took it as a preventative.  Unfortunately it was chloroquine phosphate, used to disinfect fish tanks.  The man is dead, his wife is recovering.  Remember those Desert Storm-era bumper stickers that said "WHEN CLINTON LIED, NOBODY DIED"?  I wish I had some.

The consensus among Republican office-holders is that the old should just go ahead and die, so their descendants can enjoy the blessings of the free market, fossil fuels, insurance-based health care and a bountiful supply of firearms.  Ron Johnson did the math and the governors of Texas and Mississippi have taken up the cry.  Let me say at once that I was being sarcastic when I predicted "death panels."  Nobody gets me.

One-man death panel Rand Paul got tested and without waiting for the result, scattered his nasties from the Senate floor to the pool where they frolic and play.  The people who work in his office are especially grateful for the way he helped them acquire immunity by actually getting the coronavirus.  He also attended a fundraiser in a Louisville museum, but it's a big space and nobody was dancing.    Who says libertarians only think about themselves?  Well, they say doctors make the worst patients.  And I say American medical schools need to tighten their admission requirements.

Take comfort, if you can, from the news out of the home office:  Russia's coronavirus problem is far worse than originally reported in Pravda fair and balanced Russian media.  Check out Putin in his yellow hazmat suit.  Now they'll all want one.

He's still talking, and Murdoch News is letting him.  Apparently it's Cuomo's fault because he didn't buy ventilators in 2015, back when he and Obama were doing everything wrong and creating this disaster that he, Trump, has to deal with.  And now he's got good, cod-fearing Americans eating fish tank cleaner.  Stupid Cuomo.

A priest in Bergamo, Italy, died after giving his respirator to another patient.  But more generally, the religious organizations are being dickheads, like Liberty University, which is open for business.  Falwell's outfit seems sane compared to these Shiite Catholics* (PPE recommended).

Students who partied in Florida for spring break have tested positive.  I hope it was worth it.

All lives matter, but these COVID-19 deaths are especially hard:  Cameroonian musician Manu Dibango (86) and playwright Terrence McNally (81).

"Be strong but be kind.  We will be OK."  (Jacinda Ardern)  I hope you're right, prime minister.

*Borrowed from Jim Gaffigan, but maybe not in this sense.  

Sunday, March 22, 2020

What's going on

The first person to die of COVID-19 in Oklahoma was a member of the Cherokee Nation, who had tested positive only the previous day.  Congress has voted $40 million in emergency aid for Native American health providers, but the Trump administration is holding it up for some undisclosed reason.  Possibly they think the Nations are sitting on dirt about Joe Biden.  Tribal leaders have been told they can only have some expired respirators.  No word on smallpox-infected blankets.

Mitch and the gang are working all weekend, they'll have you know, on the promised trillion-dollar aid package, wrangling over how much to give the well-off and how little to give the rest of us.  At least when the vote comes, it won't be tripped up by Rand Paul, who tested positive.  He will now join Ted Cruz in quarantine.  It's almost pleasant in Washington these days.

Governor Cuomo announced that the Hickey Freeman company in Rochester has shifted from men's suits to facemasks and gowns for the city's hospitals.  So that's one city taken care of.

Dimwit of the Day:  Okeechobee County Commissioner Bryant Culpepper, who says you can kill the coronavirus by holding a hair dryer up to your nose.  He got this from One America News Network (for people who find Fox News a little too rational).  Nobody is dying from a runny nose, Bryant.  What do you do about the coronavirus in your lungs?  Yeah, Florida.  Where they still haven't closed the beaches.

Ron Johnson (R-WI) doesn't understand why people are obsessing about this "Chinese virus."  His math shows that COVID-19 will kill no more than 3.4 percent of the population, which works out to eleven million Americans.  That's more than auto accidents (37,000) or guns (15,300) but much less than the figure cited by Gen. Buck Turgidson in the event of a nuclear war way back in 1964.  ("I'm not saying we won't get our hair mussed.")  So chill.

"Americans need to know date certain when this will end.  The uncertainty for businesses, parents and kids is just not sustainable," writes Laura Ingraham.  As of this hour there have been 414 deaths in the US.  Maybe Senator Johnson can help you with the math.  Poor Laura, having the Fox makeup people touch up her roots every week instead of her regular guy.  Sounds like she needs a hobby.

Lucky for you, Laura, Hobby Lobby is staying open.  They can't close because the owner's wife, Barbara Green, got special orders from God.  Also, they need to recoup the money they spent on fake Dead Sea Scroll fragments.  God promised to guide, guard and groom her, without explaining why He created coronavirus to begin with, because shut up, haven't you read about Job?  So this might be the perfect time to take up scrapbooking.

(What exactly the hell is scrapbooking anyway?  You paste stuff in scrapbooks?  I remember doing that, before I put away childish things and went to high school.  If Laura doesn't like the smell of paste, they make coloring books for adults now, and I assume Hobby Lobby's are of a fundamentalist Trumpian cast.  Let us know, OK, Laura?  And try not to sound like so much of an entitled bitch next time, mmmm?)

Where was I?  Oh, yes, the "Justice" Department keeps plugging along, and it looks like they aren't expecting a "date certain."  Last week they quietly dropped plans to prosecute some Russians named in the Mueller Report (remember that?).  This week they quietly asked for permission to detain people indefinitely without trial should the "national emergency" make it, sadly, necessary.  I am reminded of Lyndon Johnson's metaphor of the jackass in the hailstorm.  The skies are darkening.


Forty-seven million

Every morning the governor of New York holds a press conference to deliver the latest terrible news -- basically, not enough of anything except new coronavirus cases.  The state is testing more people than any other, and of course discovering more with the virus.  Doctors are re-using masks.  Nurses are making gowns out of garbage bags.  The state needs to double its hospital beds and obtain 25,000 more ventilators.  Every day Cuomo reports that he asked the "president" to invoke the Defense Production Act, and every day he's told that the private sector will respond "voluntarily."  New York City's public hospitals are hard-pressed in normal times, and the mayor has said, "A lot of people are going to die who don't need to die if this doesn't happen quickly."  Even with inadequate testing, there are nearly 30,000 known cases in the country.

So it's --- I can't even say appalling, as I've been appalled more or less constantly for nearly four years -- it's astonishing to learn that Trump found time, amid his daily appearances to attack the media, disseminate racism and praise himself, to write to his good friend Kim Jong-un offering help with any coronavirus problems North Korea might be having.  Which is probably a lot, given its "decrepit public health system" and extensive interactions with China, not to mention a generally malnourished population.  This should be heartening to all the Americans standing in line (six feet apart) to be tested and wondering if they will die on a stretcher in a hallway like elderly Italians.

If this is supposed to be diplomacy, it's not working.  The testing of ballistic missiles continues because Kim's priorities are as skewed as Trump's -- human life comes last unless it has a personal connection to the Dear Leader.   If it's uncharacteristic humanitarianism, what sort of material help can our Dear Leader provide to theirs?  Unproven drugs, non-existent vaccine, precious ventilators, hoarded toilet paper?

What happened to "America First"?  Has it been overtaken by Trump's pursuit of that long-coveted Nobel Prize?

Here's a breakdown of what will happen by a doctor in Austin.  She made it clear even to this statistics-impaired blogger.  Be afraid.

Friday, March 20, 2020

The arsenal of plutocracy

It is hardly surprising that some people see a global pandemic largely as a chance to make money.  For but one example, a hardware store in Philadelphia was found to be selling a two-dollar face mask for $14.  At a time when hospital workers are making masks out of office supplies and volunteers all over the world are invited to do the same, it seems really selfish and grabby, doesn't it?  Maybe even grounds for prosecution.

What, then, should we do about Richard Burr, not a small business owner looking at a bleak future but a powerful senator with an eye for profit?  Yesterday NPR revealed that he shared his inside information as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee with a group of wealthy donors; today we learn that he also dumped a load of stock around the same time, including some in the staggering hotel industry.  Nor was he alone -- James Inhofe (R-OK), who voted against the Families First Coronavirus Response Act; Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), whose husband is chair of the New York Stock Exchange; and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) got the urge to purge their portfolios, too.  Shame on Senator Feinstein.  I'm not surprised by the rest.  Loeffler has been an unelected senator for about a month, and she's already as corrupt as they come.  Even Tucker Carlson thinks Burr should resign.  Why not all of them?

Unfortunately, ventilators and respirators are not devices we can build at home, even with the latest laser printer and the right materials.  Guns, sure, but not these.  At his morning press conference, Governor Cuomo again requested that Trump invoke the Defense Production Act, allowing the federal government to take over private industries (like the now-shuttered auto plants) and convert them to emergency production.  It isn't clear why President Virus War hasn't done this yet.  Perhaps he's just sleepy.  New York, where 1,250 people are now hospitalized, is shut down, as California and Illinois soon will be.  Apparently not a "worst case scenario."  Governors should try getting their own supplies because "You know, we're not a shipping clerk."  He seems to think it's funny that suppliers are selling to the highest bidder, i.e., the federal government.  Will all this stuff be available to red states only?  After the Ukraine shake-down, we have every right to wonder.

At least he waits for Cuomo to finish before convening the daily diarrhea.  Let's see if Dana Bash still considers him "presidential" after this exchange with Peter Alexander of NBC News:

ALEXANDER;  Is it possible that your impulse to put a positive spin on things might be giving Americans a false sense of hope?

TRUMP;  No, I don't think so...such a lovely question...I feel good about it.  Just a feeling.  I'm a smart guy.

ALEXANDER;  What do you say to Americans watching right now who are scared?

TRUMP:  I say that you are a terrible reporter.  That is what I say.  I think you had a nasty question.

And so forth.  He's been concerned that the reporters are still sitting too close together (they aren't), so Alexander may find his credentials have been revoked on Monday.  For his own good.  Still, it's rare to hear the word "nasty" applied to a white male reporter, so maybe we are at war.

Say, wait a minute...wasn't it Alexander who asked why asymptomatic athletes are being tested ahead of everyone else?  And got the zen-like reply, "Perhaps that's been the story of life"?  Nasty.

So while Cuomo and the other governors do real work, Trump promotes the miraculous properties of chloroquine, which is a real drug and not the slop Jim Bakker and Alex Jones are hustling but, according to Dr. Fauci, has yet to be proven effective against COVID-19.  He continues to call it "Chinese virus," which he believes is no more racist than "Chinese food" (calling on a right-wing shill to set up the question).  He tells the states they "must do more," without testing capacity.  That's what John Ioannidis of Stanford means when he says the data we have is "utterly unreliable."  All our advances over 1918 in diagnosis, pharmaceuticals, medical care and equipment, won't mean anything unless somebody gets a grip on this thing, soon.

Retired doctors and nurses are being asked to return to work.  Can't we have our retired president Obama do the same?

Thursday, March 19, 2020

The rest is sirens

The Senate managed to pass HR 6201 today, 90-8.  Mitch is having a tiny bit of trouble controlling his caucus despite the NATIONAL EMERGENCY proclaimed by their Leader.  For the record, the Hateful Eight were Blackburn (TN), Inhofe (OK), Johnson (WI), Lankford  (OK), Lee (UT), Paul (KY), Sasse (NE) and Scott (SC).  Yes, Sasse -- the nice one.

To them add Richard Burr (NC), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.  On February 27 he was overheard telling rich donors that coronavirus is "aggressive in its transmission" and comparing it to the 1918 pandemic.  But at that stage, Trump was still promising that COVID-19 would soon disappear "like a miracle," and Burr didn't have the guts to contradict the Stable Jenius.  NPR, which broke the story, should now investigate how many North Carolinians began shifting their fortunes to health stocks that very day.

Recently fired by Fox News?  Looking for new challenges in the growing field of disinformation?  You may be ready for a position at the home office.  Russian state media are interviewing self-starters who are prepared to bring their batshit A-game.  Ignore those fake travel restrictions and get down to Sputnik Radio (Kansas City or District of Columbia).  Fluent Lithuanian a plus.

Before I got AdBlocker (blessed be its name) I used to see those invitations to "vote" which even I knew were mere clickbait -- you know, "Should Trump be impeached?  Vote now!"  Click and you get hooked up to some Republican site asking for donations.  Now we know who wrote their copy.  Lou Dobbs asked his followers to rate Trump's response to the pandemic, the choices being "superb," "great" and "very good."  Why not all three?  Especially now that we know it was all Senator Burr's fault for not warning him about what Dobbs calls the "Wuhan Chinese virus," because he knows what dialect it speaks.

Spare a thought for the sports writers with nothing to write about.  Some of them are delving into history, such as this interesting look at the 1919 Stanley Cup final.

The US still lags on testing, but Israel sent Mossad shopping for 100,000 test kits.  The government promises another four million will be acquired in the next few days.  That's a lot of shopping.

The Irish Times has a rundown of world leaders and their widely varied responses.  Unmentioned:  Iran, where chaos seems to rule.

Spring breakers are crowding into Florida, where the governor has refused to close the beaches.  (Remember, Amity means friendship.)  Young people always think they're immortal.  Who knows?  Maybe tequila and salt water will kill the virus.  Over at Fox, however, they know the kids are wild in the streets because of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and more or less call for "martial law."

Every morning, CNN and MSNBC carry Andrew Cuomo's press conference because his state has the largest number of cases, and also because he makes people believe this is as serious as it can be but most of us won't die.  Then Trump comes on and the stock market loses three hundred points.  He repeats his racist tropes.  He attacks the media, which from today will include this pediatric surgeon and critical care specialist who bluntly writes, "The sky is falling."  He obsesses about the airlines, the businesses, the economy he personally rescued from Obama's incompetence.  It's time for the cable channels to cut him off.  They should show Felice Leon's video essay on racism and pandemic instead.

Of course, it's not just the Wartime President.  The Independent tells how the insurance industry is working to make things worse.  You're in good hands, now go wash them.

The European Union has asked Netflix to forego HD because the internet is being overwhelmed.  They better not try that here, or there's going to be trouble.  I mean it.  A lot of Americans need just one more thing to go bad.  We've got guns.  You're warned.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Pandemic fatigue

As a retired stay-at-home Boomer, I shouldn't complain.  I've been sheltering in place for years.  I'm reasonably healthy.  But I am tired of trying to keep up with this thing.  I'd like to dig out my CDs and prepare to celebrate Stephen Sondheim's ninetieth birthday at the end of the month.  I'd like to read the second volume of Gary Giddins's monumental biography of Bing Crosby, Swinging On a Star.  I'd like to watch silly old movies on TCM (it's Edward Everett Horton day!).  But here we are, and I feel like snark-chronicling this unprecedented event is the thing to do.  So tray tables in the upright position please.

I put on the cable news this morning and Andrew Cuomo -- is it too soon to start calling him "America's governor"? -- was holding a press conference replete with statistics, executive orders and detailed information about hospital beds, ventilators, extra personnel and the need for testing.  He was nice to Trump because you have to be.  He brought along a ventilator to show.  He shared a story about his niece, who has regular flu.  Cuomo is engaged and articulate, things we once took for granted.  And he didn't insult reporters, blame his predecessor, or call it "Chinese virus."

That's Trump's job.  He came on next, and the DJ instantly fell below 20,000, probably just a coincidence.  Apparently we're at war with coronavirus.  Tomorrow he will inspect the troops at FEMA, so if you work there and you don't want to spend half the day nodding and smiling and shaking his virus-y hand, work from home.  The Navy hospital ship Comfort will be moved to New York from Norfolk, which is good.  It isn't set up for infectious disease, but can handle other cases such as trauma.  It's undergoing maintenance and won't sail for several weeks, which is not so good.  The hospital ship Hope is already based in San Diego.  Who told Trump the Navy has hospital ships?  I'm not criticizing -- had he known before he might have dry-docked them in 2018, like the pandemic response team, to save money.

John Crace at the Guardian has an essay on coronavirus in the UK and Boris Johnson, Trump Lite, or as Crace calls him, levitas incarnate.  They don't even have tough, smart governors who can take up the slack.  Much of it will sound eerily familiar.  Johnson announced only today that UK schools must close.  They were still open?  Even the ancient public schools where the boys sleep in bunches and take cold showers together?

Over at the New Yorker, Geoff Dyer is also sick and tired of all these people being sick and tired.  Lots of literary references and some unattractive whining.  It will perhaps recall the Saul Steinberg cover "View of the World From Ninth Avenue," which is famous enough to have its own Wikipedia entry.

Italy reports 475 deaths yesterday for a total of nearly 3,000.  To add to the misery, there was a 4.2 earthquake in Cosenza, in the far south.

government document leaked to The New York Times says the pandemic could go on for eighteen months.  It looks like the Times waited until after the markets closed to put it out.

Of course Trump, who awarded himself a "10" for his superb handling of the crisis so far, is promising "total victory" in the "war" against the "Chinese virus."  (Well, we have had some total victories since 1945 -- Grenada, the anti-Allende coup, running Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait.)  It seems like a global pandemic requires a global response -- did you see the movie Independence Day, Donzo?  Like that.  But from the beginning, when he turned down test kits from the World Health Organization because he hates the UN, we've been on this flight from reality.  Viruses don't have nationalities.  Whether they find us in a Wuhan food market or a Pennsylvania army camp, they find us and we're all in the same lifeboat.   It's not the Dow Jones, stupid.  It's not the "illegals."  We are the goddam world and we'd better start acting like it.

What I fear:  The "Commander In Chief" will use this as an excuse to "postpone" the election, especially if the polls favor Biden.

What I want:  The House votes fresh articles of impeachment and this time the Senate does its fucking job.  Yes, I know, but even Pence is marginally less awful.

And now I have a date with Der Bingle.  Where the blue of the night meets the gold of the day...

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Last post

West Virginia checks in, better late than never.

HR 6201 was all set to gallop through the Senate when Rand Paul decided to add an amendment about -- wait for it -- terminating "military operations and reconstruction activities in Afghanistan."  Ron Johnson, want to demand another hearing on Benghazi?  Last call.

NBC News reports that Trump has enough delegates for the nomination.  Now they can let Bill Weld out of the dungeon.

For some reason, Bernie "Still Need That Pardon, Sir" Kerik decided to share his thoughts about the "unparalleled and historic successes" of America's greatest president.  Then Newt Gingrich devoted his website (find it yourself) to praise for the way he closed down travel from China, savings millions of lives.  Troubling question here:  Where is Giuliani?  I don't like it when he goes quiet.

If you're stuck at home, the First Escort recommends you read a book or work on a hobby.  As Max Bialystok would say, "Smart as a whip."

Joe Biden finally got a Secret Service detail, now that they have to stay six feet away from him.

The government proposes bailing out the airlines.  Italy has already nationalized Al'italia to keep it out of bankruptcy.

Police in Newport, Oregon, have asked people to stop calling 911 because they are out of toilet paper.

A fresh outbreak of coronavirus has been traced to a church in Seongnam, South Korea, but that hasn't stopped American fundamentalists from packing 'em in and deriding those who don't attend as lacking in faith.  Didn't Darwin have something to say about this?

There is an embargo on kissing the Blarney Stone.

The Kentucky Derby has been postponed.

"The talk of the world"

The New York Times obtained a recording of Trump bragging to governors that America's response to coronavirus will be "the talk of the world," and not just "perfect" or "amazing" like everything else we have endured for three years.  Also, he knew all along it would be a pandemic and not:

"Totally under was one person coming in from China"  (January 22)

"One day -- it's like a miracle -- it will disappear" (February 27)

"I'm not concerned at all"  (March 7)

"So it could be right in that period of time where it, I say wash -- it washes through.  Other people don't like that term.  But where it washes through."  (yesterday)

As of this morning, COVID-19 had washed through 5,010 Americans and killed 97 of us.  Its psychological and economic effect on the rest of us is beyond reckoning right now.  But it's safe to say the response is already the talk of the world, or would be if the world weren't busy dealing with its own sick and dying.  And there is still no widely available testing procedure -- not enough kits, not enough labs, not enough public health doctors and nurses.

The world's response so far has been, frankly, pity.  Half a million test kits and masks were donated by the Jack Ha Foundation (founder of the Chinese retailer Alibaba).  So far Jeff Bezos, the American Jack Ha, has been MIA.  Another half-million are promised by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  We're a charity case; it's a matter of time before Medicins sans Frontieres shows up to pitch tents in Central Park.
Congress is on it, though.  The Senate will almost certainly vote on HR 6201 some time this week, while considering other proposals to give us a little cash.  Voters like cash.  And is Trump on it?  (No, not the twitter throne -- he comes out every day with his posse of experts and faces down those "nasty" reporters.)  He most certainly is.  He's still calling it "Chinese virus" like when he had to explain to "Andrew" (Cuomo) why there's no COVID-19  in West Virginia:  NO CHINESE PEOPLE.  Unlike New York, which is overrun with them.  He also had to instruct lady-governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan that she must "work harder and be much more proactive."  Of course, everyone in West Virginia could have the virus and no one would know.  See how that no-testing thing works?

And why was the Leader so late to the party?  Jared!  Who put this guy in charge?  Jared said it was all a public relations problem.  What is he, an epidemiologist?  Jared told him everything would be fine after he read that eye chart Teleprompter speech, one of the greatest speeches, and it wasn't.  Jared flies all over the place doing deals with Prince Mohammed and fixing the Middle East, wait, maybe he brought back the Chinese Virus.  He's not Chinese but Fred always said don't trust the -- I'll bet this is why we still have an opioid problem.  JARED IS THE DEEP-STATE SON-IN-LAW!

Problem solved.  Arrange a rally in Wheeling, chop chop.  Hey, me talkee Chinee!

Sorry.  Anybody else have a pounding headache?  The death toll just hit one hundred.  If you want to see the future, Italy has been employing triage for days, with people over eighty more or less being allowed to die.  Satellite photos show mass graves in Iran, which seems excessive for the five hundred dead they will admit to.  As for North Korea, with its obsessive secretiveness and its extensive interactions with China, who has any bloody idea?  Greenland reported its first case yesterday.  As the ancestors sang, there's no hiding place down there.

Sarah Palin may finally get her death panels.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Poorly developed

Trump loves Norway.  He would happily accept immigrants from Norway instead of "shithole countries" like Haiti.   Sadly, Norway doesn't love him back.  The Norway University of Science and Technology has warned those studying abroad to return from countries with "poorly developed health services...for example, the U.S.A."

Thousands of Americans with fake ID obtain medical care in Canada every year.  I'm not breaking any news here -- Sarah Palin said her family did so regularly when she was young.  Canada has now closed its borders to all non-Canadians except diplomats, airline crews and Americans.  I wonder how long they can afford us.

It may be somewhat comforting that Americans are not the only people frantic about their asses.  In the UK toilet paper is already subject to panic-buying, hoarding and profiteering.  The government, which periodically has to clear "fatburgers" (enormous clogs of grease and trash) from sewers, some of which were built by the Victorians, is afraid the problem will get worse if people start flushing paper towel, wetwipes and other t.p. substitutes.

If the Brits have to substitute newspaper for loo roll, they have plenty of daily alternatives.  Which brings me to funnyman David Clarke, former Milwaukee sheriff and crackpot Trumpite.  Not only is
Clarke fine with using the Fake News to clean up, he's pretty sure all the dead and sick people are a mirage:  "GO INTO THE STREETS FOLKS...END GOVERNEMT [sic] CONTROL OVER OUR LIVES.  IF NOT NOW, WHEN?  THIS IS AN EXPLOITATION OF A CRISIS."  He used to be part of government, and he admits it's a crisis, but no one else has yet pointed to the culprit:  "Not ONE media outlet has asked about George Soros's involvement in this FLU panic.  He is SOMEWHERE involved in this."   Whoever had Soros in Blame Bingo, come up and get your prize.

Norwegians will not be surprised to learn that we still don't have a bill to pay for all testing and provide paid sick leave for some workers.  That's because -- you guessed it -- Louie Gohmert (R-Neptune) wants to have all the final revisions 'splained to him, slowly.  Following today's vote the bill goes to the Senate, where Mitch and the gang may get around to it later this week, after they re-authorize FISA and plan their spring cotillion.  Meanwhile Mitt Romney wants to give every American adult a thousand dollars to cushion the economic blow.  Does anyone want to bet me that the first check will be drawn to someone whose name rhymes with Ronald J. Sump?  Come on, the bookies are hurting, too.

This is not encouraging:  two people in Japan who had seemingly recovered from COVID-19 and were discharged from hospitals have now tested positive again.

Neither is this:  a woman flew home to China after three failed attempts to get tested in Massachusetts.

This is bad but predictable:  gun stores are selling out.

Stephanie Grisham is "working from home," in case you hadn't noticed.

Idris Elba is the newest coronavirus celebrity.

And finally, just for laughs:  Steve Green used some of his Hobby Lobby inheritance to open a Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., and several million dollars more to acquire fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Five art fraud investigators have now determined that they are "worthless forgeries, probably made from old shoe leather."  In other words, he might just as well have spent the money providing contraception for Hobby Lobby employees.  Remember to stay at least six feet away as you laugh and point.      

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Life goes on

Some things you probably didn't see on the news:

Police serving a search warrant in Potomac, Maryland, shot and killed 21-year-old Duncan Lemp and wounded his girlfriend.  They say he "confronted" them; his family says he was asleep in bed when the police fired from outside the house.  Lemp was apparently a libertarian and militia-type, and the police recovered several guns.  None of this excuses shooting him while he slept, if that is indeed what happened.

The pandemic has caused the postponement of Prime Minister Netanyahu's corruption trial.  Meanwhile, Benny Gantz, leader of the opposition, has been assembling a bizarre coalition including the far right and several Arab parties, and may be the next prime minister.

At least one man, Keith Duggan, can't believe it's going to be horseracing as usual at Cheltenham, England.  Warning:  Duggan writes colorfully.

Trump says he is thinking of pardoning Michael Flynn, who has yet to serve an hour in prison after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI.  He blames his own Justice Department for losing Flynn's records.  He also found time to spread a rumor about former Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum.  I liked it better when he just watched television and played golf.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois made the mistake of tweeting his frustration over the chaos at O'Hare Airport.  Instead of help with screenings, he got yelled at by a Trump courtier.

Before his debate tonight with Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden endorsed both Sanders's proposal for free college and Elizabeth Warren's plan to repeal part of the 2005 bankruptcy law.  Biden will probably start announcing his cabinet by next week.

Nike is closing many of its stores because of the coronavirus, but count on Trump to blame Colin Kaepernick.

First it was ravenous monkeys running wild in Thailand; now hungry deer are foraging outside city parks in Nara, Japan.   It took a pandemic to make it clear that tourists are an essential component of the animal food chain.

U.S. District Court Judge Beryl A. Howell has ruled that this is exactly the wrong time to cancel the food stamp (SNAP) program for a million or so Americans.  She's the nasty woman who was also mean to Roger Stone, so the Twitter abuse should be epic.

You have problems?  Iran has locusts.

Alex Salmond, former leader, Scottish National Party.  Sexual assault trial.  Zombie impersonation.  Just read it.  I see Billy Connolly in the Netflix series.

Going viral

In the absence of any credible leadership in the executive branch of the federal government, governors and local authorities have stepped up to deal with the coronavirus crisis.  Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York knows our hospitals are inadequate, and we're not set up to build instant structures like the ones in Wuhan, China.  He has called for the Army Corps of Engineers to start equipping buildings such as schools and military bases as temporary medical facilities.  He also wants the states to take over the testing process.  New York has 613 cases, with two deaths as of yesterday.

The governor of California is being so polite to Trump that people are asking, "Who are you and what have you done with Gavin Newsom?"  Newsom appears to have learned from Benjamin Netanyahu and others that flattery may be the best policy in a state regularly hit by natural disaster.  Nevertheless, Newsom isn't waiting for the cavalry -- he issued an executive order allowing the state to commandeer hotels and medical facilities when necessary.  There have been 399 cases in California and five deaths.

Meanwhile, at the national level:

"It is my great honor to declare Sunday, March 15th as a National Day of Prayer.  We are a Country that, throughout our history, has looked to God for protection and strength in times like these...No matter where you may be, I encourage you to turn towards prayer in an act of faith.  Together, we will easily PREVAIL!"

Is that all?  Of course not.  He also found time to praise Judicial Watch for continuing its never-ending "investigation" of BENGHAZI! and her emails.  It's too dispiriting to quote.

Is that all?  No no no!  Ever alert -- some might say exclusively alert -- to a money-making opportunity, Trump reportedly tried to get the German biotech company CureVac to make its coronavirus drug (if and when it has one) exclusively available in the US.  It wouldn't be the first time we imported German scientists.

Money expert Steve Mnuchin would like us to know that COVID-19 has been a blessing to the economy, if you don't count airlines, hospitality, entertainment, or other stuff that involves people being around other people.  Now is the perfect time to invest your spare cash in cheap stocks which can only increase in value.  Or go out to eat -- the restaurants and pubs are surprisingly vacant, according to Devin Nunes.  If your server is coughing because the pitiful paid sick leave bill Mnuchin hashed out with Nancy Pelosi hasn't kicked in yet, just move to someone else's table.  Really, can't you people work things out for yourselves?

He'll tell us when it's time to panic.

Image result for trump billboard florida

Friday, March 13, 2020

Strong and stable

To start with some good news:  Chinese media report success in treating COVID-19 with the HIV drug Kaletra/Aluvia.  The company that makes it, Abb/Vie, has not been able to verify this because the Chinese medical data is classified, like Pence's briefings.

I don't have any more good news.  Our immediate future involves no sports, Broadway shows, Boston Marathon, Disneyland, Metropolitan Opera, audiences at TV tapings or visitors to the Capitol.  The Supreme Court is in recess, which is not necessarily bad.  Louisiana has postponed its April 4 primary, while schools and colleges are closing everywhere.  Cher has rescheduled her tour for autumn.  Movie premieres have also been pushed back.  It's non-business as usual.

Another Mar-a-Lago partygoer has been diagnosed with the virus, Mayor Francis Suarez of Miami.  Just interviewed on MSNBC, he looks and sounds a lot better than his host.  Less than an hour before the stock market closed, Trump and an honor guard of smiling, nodding courtiers appeared in the Rose Garden to announce "a national emergency.  Two very big words."*  Confidence is high.  He then lied about a wondrous new Google website that will answer all your questions and take your temperature (and that does not actually exist yet), and snarled to a reporter, "I don't take responsibility at all" for our tardiness in testing.  When will the fake media learn that Trump accepts only praise and credit, never blame or responsibility?

And then he shook hands with the CEOs of pharmacy companies, because the point was to prop up their stock prices with the prospect of $50 billion in government money.  He shook hands.  I hope they all went straight to the Silkwood showers, because Trump looks and sounds seedier than he did on Wednesday night.  Even Ivanka had enough sense to stay home after meeting an Australian government minister who has tested positive.  For Daddy it was just a substitute for the hatenannies he has reluctantly cancelled.  I'm surprised he didn't wear a MAGA hat.

Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi has been trying to put together a plan to help working people who can't work and sick people who can't afford treatment, in meetings with Steve Mnuchin.  Historians will try to grasp a national emergency in which the President of the United States hated the Speaker of the House so much, he refused to be in the same room, while Americans died.  They will fail.  The House bill needs to go to the Senate but there's nobody home -- Moscow Mitch decided they needed another three-day weekend.  Also, the Republicans don't know how to vote until they get tomorrow's tweets.  Americans die.  The economy sags and cracks.

But not everyone is suffering.  Jared Kushner did some profit-taking in the neighborhood of $50 million, which is a very nice neighborhood, while he approved the virus response and continued to solve the opioid problem.  (To be honest, I had forgotten that was one of his.)  He works so hard, I almost don't like to complain.  He read twenty-five books about the Middle East before telling the Palestinians they could like it or lump it.  I assume none of them was by Edward Said.  Clearly Kushner is doing all the heavy lifting -- why do we need Trump?

At the other end of the social scale -- the Bottom-Out-of-Sight, as Paul Fussell called them in Class --
we're looking at a Spanish flu scenario.  That pandemic took advantage of the millions crowded into refugee camps, military bases, troop trains and ships, prisoner of war camps, housing for munitions workers, etc., galloping among people who were already exhausted, malnourished, sick, wounded and stressed.  The United States has more people locked up than any other country -- convicts in prisons, those awaiting trial who can't make bail, and our new "guests" in the squalid Trump camps on the Mexican border.  The bottom of the pyramid will take all the weight from the raving incompetence at the top.  This will be very bad.

"Strong and stable" was the campaign slogan of the hapless Theresa May, former prime minister of Great Britain.  She repeated it at every opportunity until it became a joke, because her government was anything but strong, more inert than stable.  Right now, it looks like a condition we could all happily embrace.   Forget Reagan -- it's Eisenhower the Republicans should be trying to re-animate.  People are tired of all the shouting and the daily chaos.  They want a nice old gentleman who might mix up his words but doesn't make them yell at the television, doesn't have an opinion to share about everything from the gold standard to the Golden Globes, doesn't pal around with the most vicious authoritarians he can find.  If he actually knew the Constitution and how government works, that would be comforting, too.  Anybody come to mind?

Anyway, tomorrow is the birthday of Albert Einstein, designated as pi day.  Eat some pie.  Be kind to yourself and avoid crowds.

*Fortunately he didn't have to say the name of the World Health Organization director, Dr. Tedros Adhanom-Ghebreyesus.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

S*** gets real!

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have tested positive for COVID-19.  Movie stars can get it!

Fabio Wajngarten has also come up pos.  Why is this significant?  He's the press secretary of Jair "Brazilian Fuhrer" Bolsonaro.  He was at Mar-a-Lago last week and got a free hat.  (The gold-lettered ones are for special guests.)

View image on Twitter

189,000 lucky Americans can get tested for Coronavirus this week.  It's only a little short of the four million promised by Mike Pence.  

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who listens to real experts, says that seventy percent of Germans may contract the virus.  That's why Trump has ordered a travel ban on those European countries which have failed to acquire Trump golf courses.  UK and Ireland, y'all come!

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife are self-isolating after she returned from the UK with a low-grade fever.

Now would be a good time to declare an emergency, making extra funds and resources available.   The "task force" is ready as soon as failed real estate mogul/slumlord Jared Kushner gets done reading all the stuff they sent him.

The Dow Jones has officially entered a bear market, and even Warren Buffett is stunned.  Every time it drops precipitously, a "circuit breaker" suspends trading.   Yes, just like your crummy PC, they have to try unplugging it and plugging it in again.  Greatest economy ever!

The pandemic is good news for more than a hundred thousand residents of Detroit, whose water was shut off due to unpaid bills:  Governor Gretchen Whitmer and city officials will suspend shutoffs and restore service so people can wash their hands.  This is encouraging for the millions of Americans  who have been denied running water for years because they can't pay for it.  I'm so proud of my country right now I can barely type.  

Trump isn't the only asshole who hates the media.  Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert made a point of touching all microphones and recording devices after learning he had the virus.  Oh, and the rest of the NBA season has been suspended.

The NCAA tournament will be played, but without spectators.  Call it March Mildness.

When we last saw Matt Bevin, he was pardoning rapists and murderers on his way out the door as governor of Kentucky, just to own the libs.  Now he's on the Twitter, making funny about the global pandemic.  Next month he opens at Club Laffs in Paducah.

It looks like Trump's deportation policy is spreading the virus to Central America.

Joe Biden is speaking on the pandemic and the government's woeful response right now.  No doubt he'll be accused of politicizing it, but it's a nice change from the snuffling, slurring, simple-minded drivel we got about the "foreign virus" last night.  Next time, they should just point the camera at the Teleprompter and let us read it ourselves while Trump toilet-tweets and eats ice cream.  Look, I wanted Liz Warren, but lancing the orange boil is Job One.  If it's Joe, then Joe be it.

Trump is actually cancelling some of the hate rallies that invigorate him like Dracula sucking a virgin's jugular, even the March 25 event in Tampa for which "tickets have been selling well."  Tickets?  I thought all you needed to get in was a red hat and a porcine expression.  

A big, successful, totally-cheated-of-many-Emmys TV star like Trump should know better than to say "fuck" on an open mic.  It's annoying to find you've soiled your white shirt with Sharpie ink, but if it were anyone else the morality police would be demanding FCC sanctions.  It's a wardrobe malfunction and a Word You Can't Say On Television.

Patty Murray's paid sick leave bill was stalled in the Senate by Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who apparently wants more dead Americans to be his legacy.  Meanwhile, the Fed will be pouring several trillion dollars to prevent a recession before November.  After that it's Somebody Else's Problem.

America is the land of faith healers and snake handlers, right?  Well, take a look at Russia, where the "Holy Royal Martyrs" planned a procession to pray away the virus in Lipetsk.  Their parade was scuppered by local authorities on a day when eight new cases were reported by the Health Ministry.  For those who aren't Orthodox, Alex Jones is selling a toothpaste he claims will kill viruses.  Do not operate heavy machinery such as cars.  May cause drunkenness.

No St. Patrick's Day parades.  Erin go home.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Scorched earth

Senator Ron Johnson (R-Trumpsbutt) was all set to launch the thirty-fourth investigation into Burisma (the Ukrainian gas company) and Hunter Biden (the Democratic front-runner's son).  The first thirty-three failed to uncover any criminal actions, but last I heard they were still "investigating" Hillary's emails, and probably trying to prove FDR had advance warning of Pearl Harbor.  Then Tim O'Brien -- not the author of Going After Cacciato but the adviser to the late Bloomberg campaign -- went on Joy Reid's show to warn that his boss was prepared to spend Bloomberg amounts of cash investigating the sleazier business dealings of the Trumpenspawn since Daddy moved into the White House.  Suddenly Johnson remembered some loose details he needed to nail down first.  Suddenly the Democrats had their own personal Robert Mercer.  If money is going to shout in American politics, it might as well shout for the good guys.

I'm pretty sure Burisma put HB on the board of directors at least partly because JB was vice-president at the time.  I'm equally sure Princess Ivanka got all those Chinese trademarks because of Daddy, not because she's so much more qualified than any other "entrepreneur."  If this is what it takes to slap the word "nepotism" out of her brain-dead brother's mouth, I am also comfortable.  Hell, let's set up a debate between Dr. Jill and the First Escort right now.   Scorch the earth.

Speaking of Bloomberg, documents unsealed in the Weinstein case reveal that he was approached by the rapey producer for help in holding on to the Weinstein Company.  Also that the National Inquirer (Roger Stone's old nest of vipers) told him of an impending story about assaulting Jennifer Aniston, eliciting the response "Jen Aniston should be killed."  She denies the assault.  Weinstein got the max today, twenty-three years.  (Old joke:  "Your honor, I can't do twenty-three years."  Judge:  "Do as much as you can.")  This is not over.  American criminal actions are never over while money and celebrity abide.

Bizzle Osikoya, our name of the week, is described as a Nigerian music and entertainment developer who is telling his Twitter followers the secret of surviving Coronavirus -- masturbation and cocaine.  Better for you than drinking bleach and lots more fun.  Not a cure, alas.

Naomi Campbell is taking no chances.  She arrived at LAX in full hazmat gear, having first alerted photographers who otherwise might not have recognized her.  Meanwhile, over at "America's Got Talent" -- oh, read it, I'm tired of these people.

My project for the rest of this year is to listen to everything Beethoven wrote in honor of his 250th birthday (December 16).  I need this.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

The story so far

If the virus doesn't get you, Chinese construction standards will:  a hotel being used to quarantine people collapsed in Quanzhou on Saturday, killing at least eighteen.  The building was less than ten years old.

Fox Business vixen Trish Regan says the Corona virus is just another attempt to impeach Trump, only at the molecular level.  And you thought he was narcissistic.

Alex Jones got arrested for driving drunk.  First they cancel SXSW, now this.  (Caution:  disturbing mug shot.)

Italy is closed.

Quinton Lewis is African American and a registered Democrat,  but it was probably just poor training for poll workers that prevented him from voting in Kansas City, Missouri, today.  This kind of thing is happening all over.  Mr. Lewis's story made news because he is the mayor.

An actual case of election fraud has been identified in --- Florida!  This woman of the Trumpite conspiracy Florida First was caught registering random people as Republicans.  I don't want to hear about Cook County cemeteries ever again.

UK Health Minister Nadine Dorries confirms she has tested positive for COVID-19 and has gone into isolation.  Not to be outdone, Governor Andrew Cuomo has activated the New York national guard to "contain" New Rochelle in Westchester County.  This involves closing "schools, houses of worship and large gathering places" for two weeks.  It sounds like the governor expects looting.

NBC is optimistically running promos for the Tokyo Olympics.

Passover begins on April 8.  Virtual seders?  "How is this night different from all other nights?"  "Grandma is on Skype.  Hi, Grandma!"

Harvey Weinstein's lawyers have asked for a minimum sentence, citing his "remarkable accomplishments."  Sure, that's why I went to see Shakespeare In Love -- the producer.  If they prevail, Phil Spector should be out by the end of the month.

Tough guys

On March 28, 1979, there was a partial meltdown at the nuclear facility in Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania.  Radioactive iodine and other chemicals were vented into the atmosphere.  People fled.  The cleanup lasted until 1993, and while mutant frogs and other horrors were reported, the effect on humans in the form of cancer and birth defects was statistically insignificant.  To reassure the public, President Jimmy Carter toured the facility and was photographed drinking a glass of tap water to demonstrate that it was safe.  (He is 95 and was building houses until recently, so draw your own conclusions.)  Carter may be the only president who actually knew something about nuclear power, having earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the Naval Academy and served on submarines.

Trump likes to brag that he knows all about science because of genes he inherited from his uncle, a physicist.  So for a start, he doesn't know how heredity works.  He knows that climate change is a hoax, that windmills cause cancer, and that solar power obviously won't work at night.  He may believe that coal can be rendered harmless to the atmosphere by washing it in water; it isn't really clear and nobody wants to ask.  Needless to say, he already knows more about the COVID-19 outbreak than all the so-called experts, and it's completely under control and harmless, except maybe to him.  Those traitors in the media would love to see him infected in spite of his truly amazing genes and over-all healthiness surpassing every other president including Theodore Roosevelt.  And as for courage, TR may have explored the Amazon but would he have rushed into a school to disarm a shooter?  Trump is sure he would have.

I challenge Trump to drink a glass of Corona virus.  Right now, at a hate rally in the venue of his choice.  Either drink or shut up.  Go play slap-and-tickle with Princess and let the grownups in the field of public health handle this -- not you, or vice-president Jesuslove, or Sleepy Ben, or that Big Pharma lobbyist you put in charge of HHS.   Certainly not your Surgeon General, who says you're "healthier than what I am" because he was learning science instead of grammar in high school.  It's all very well to trot out the liars, but actions speak louder.  Drink!