Thursday, April 30, 2020

Virus update

The world is transfixed by "a nucleic acid molecule in a protein coat" (I looked it up), which somehow sounds almost friendly.  Of course, this one leaves a trail of corpses and maimed survivors and has consistently kicked our asses.  Nevertheless, there is hope.

AstraZeneca, partnered with Oxford University, expects to know by July if it has an effective vaccine, while Pfizer is starting human tests next week.  There's nothing like the impending collapse of the global economy to build a fire under Science.  Imagine how many lives could have been saved if HIV had inspired this kind of urgency.

China is the big unfriendly giant that nobody trusts, nor should they.  It's a secretive dictatorship that no longer practices Marxism but keeps the populace on a tight leash and doesn't know the meaning of transparency.  Its treatment of its Muslim Uighur minority may be the worst outrage since the gulag, and it's a little disturbing that we don't even hear about Tibet anymore.  Pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong were on the verge of going full Tienanmen Square when the pandemic shut everything down -- I'll be surprised if that isn't part of some elaborate conspiracy theory.

Secretiveness breeds conspiracy theories -- ask the Freemasons -- so China only has itself to blame.  Information about the virus was slow to come out of Wuhan and may be seriously untrustworthy even now.  But American intelligence agencies are about to come in for rage-tweeting because they have been unable to find evidence that coronavirus is a laboratory product designed to prevent Trump's re-election (and incidentally kill a lot of people).  That would get Trump and his spectacularly incompetent response off the hook, apparently; among other badly thought out responses, he'd like to cancel all debt to China, presumably including his own.  It's good to be the king, but it's a terrible idea to annoy the country that makes practically everything we wear, sit on, drive, and use to type our blogs.

Still stung by the stories about his indolence, Trump has been getting up early (before noon) and calling governors in for "meetings."  He has also invoked the National Emergencies Act to order meat processing plants to stay open without mandating changes that might safeguard the workers or the meat.  What's important is protecting the owners from lawsuits when people get sick and die, as many already have.  Also a steady supply of hamberders.

(I'm no scientist, I don't even play one on TV, but is there any proof that cooking kills this damn virus?  If it originated in bats, presumably they were not consumed raw.  We know it crosses species barriers, we know it thrives inside the human body with an average temperature of 98F.  I'm not enthusiastic about eating chicken that's been coughed on by someone with inadequate protective equipment and few chances to wash hands.  Maybe I have already.  Which leads to the perpetually touchy subject of...)

Testing.  At Governor Cuomo's "Help Is On the Way" conference this morning, former Mayor Bloomberg outlined an elaborate, labor-intensive program for contact testing developed with Johns Hopkins University.   If it works, that's New York sorted, forty-nine states to go.  Actually fewer, since some of the Reds never bothered with preventive measures to begin with, and some have decided to pretend that All Is Fine.  (MIT has some projections for how many additional Georgians will die so this guy could get his hair cut.)  Meanwhile Mike Pence has been on a tour of the front lines, wearing a mask at GM but refusing to put one on at the Mayo Clinic.  According to Karen "Mother" Pence, he was unaware of the hospital's policy and thought they were dressed for Halloween or something.

As we are often reminded, the tree of liberty feeds off the blood of tyrants (perhaps the inspiration for Little Shop of Horrors?).  A liberty-loving Wisconsinite named Jerry Smith went to a rally in Madison demanding that the shackles of Governor Evers's stay-at-home-and-don't-die order be thrown off.  When he reported for work Monday at his "essential" job, he was given a two-week furlough to make sure he had not been infected.  And now he wants a lawyer to represent him and his civil right to spread disease -- free.  Looks like a job for Alan Dershowitz. 

Every time Brian Kemp closes in on "Dumbest Governor In the Country," Ron DeSantis passes him at the finish line.  If you don't count the dead, they don't count.  Wait till Trump hears about this!

This just in:  Barack Obama played golf yesterday, and he liked it.  The man's a monster.


Double double, Joe's got trouble

Remember E. Jean Carroll?  No, you haven't had a senior moment -- everyone has forgotten her and her description of being raped by Donald Trump in a department store dressing room, which cost Carroll her job at Elle magazine.  That's because some doofus decided a "sitting president" can't be indicted for a mere assault, and because they have an allegation against a Democrat to run around with.  It takes very little to bring one down -- some horseplay on a plane after a USO tour cost Al Franken his Senate seat -- and it makes the media look so fair.

I have no idea what happened between Joe Biden and Tara Reade thirty years ago, apparently something so dreadful that she filed a complaint with the Office of Looking Into Complaints About Democrats.  She can't find the paperwork now; why would she give a copy to her lawyer to lock in her safe or anything?  But if there's one thing the government is good at, it's keeping track of paperwork.  I mean, they've got the original Constitution, right?  So if it exists, we'll all see it in due course.  After thirty years, during which Ms. Reade never said a word.  (Until last week I thought she was the star of Sharknado, but that was Tara Reid.)

I do not take sexual assault allegations lightly, but I think the media response to this one has been nicely covered here.  Nobody expected Trump to run on his record as a grasping, scraping, covetous and now murderous old sinner -- 58,000 dead in part because of his utter incompetence.  It was always going to be Hunter Biden, Crooked Hillary, Lazy Obama and the Mess He Left, the litany of lies and distractions.  And now this, which seems awfully convenient.  Not only has the statute of limitations run, but where was Ms. Reade when Biden was Vice-President?  

And let me be blunt, even brutal:  I don't care.  Joe Biden was not my first choice, but he is all we have.  Trump is so shit-scared, he's urging Justin Amash to run as an independent and screaming at Brad Parscale for his lousy poll numbers.  Good.  Because frankly, Jack the Ripper would make a better president.  He was clearly much smarter and less misogynistic, and there's no evidence that he worked for the Russians.

So before this becomes another "But her emails!" which would be the end of American democracy, let me repeat:  I don't care.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Missing

Maybe it's because most of us are still in the house, with all our information coming from screens and rumors, but I keep thinking of the Star Trek episode where Dr. Crusher is the only person who notices that the rest of the crew is getting scarce.  Where have they gone?  I can't remember what resolution the writers came up with, but only some of our fellow crew members on this big starship can be accounted for.

Dr. Lorna Breen was an emergency room physician at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.  She was in Charlottesville, Virginia, with her family over the weekend when she killed herself.  Or rather, in the words of her father Dr. Philip C. Breen, "She tried to do her job and it killed her."  Anyone familiar with the emergency departments of urban hospitals knows they are stressful and terrible in ordinary circumstances, so this was a strong woman.  

Sometimes strength is not enough.  Dr. Yelena Nepomnyashchaya "fell" from the window of her office in the Krasnoyarsk hospital where she was acting director.  At the time, she was on a conference call, objecting to the lack of personal protective equipment for her staff.  A few days later Dr. Natalia Lebedeva died when she also "fell" from the room where she was being treated for Covid-19.  I use quotation marks because nobody thinks these were accidents, certainly not her colleagues -- they have compiled a list of Belarussian and Russian doctors and nurses who have died from coronavirus.  For some reason, they don't trust the official count.

Could Russia be as incompetently governed as the United States?  It's stunning to contemplate.  Americans awoke to the news that they should have hoarded meat instead of toilet paper.  "The food supply chain is breaking," says the chairman of Tyson Foods.  Pork plants have closed after hundreds of employees tested positive for coronavirus or were already out sick.  Farmers with no place to send their animals are destroying them, which costs them money and makes meat even more scarce.  The U.S. supposedly has 2.5 billion pounds of meat in a strategic reserve, but if Jared Kushner gets to it first...

Unless somebody else is lying like a trump, we are the sickest country on earth by a large margin, with a million cases confirmed in spite of our shoddy testing procedures and more dead than the Vietnam War.  Republican politicians continue to concentrate on the important stuff, like getting the restaurants and casinos open and making sure most of the "small business" relief goes to publicly traded companies and luxury hotels.  They get little leadership from their Leader in all this, because he has bigger problems.  The New York Times not only documents his laziness, it even has a running total of the number of times he has praised himself, just about the pandemic.  (For a compendium of lies since January 20, 2017, you still need the Washington Post.)  Yesterday he had to block Piers Morgan -- Piers Morgan -- for writing a column which began, "SHUT THE F*CK UP, PRESIDENT TRUMP!" and then got very very nasty.  Today it's Howard Stern saying, "I would love it if Donald would get on TV and take an injection of Clorox."  Et tu, Howard?  This is tantamount to a death threat.  Expect a visit from the FBI.  Not the Deep State part, the part that spies on mosques.

So Donald and his court have been frantically documenting how hard he works and for how long, not boring stuff like listening to Presidential Daily Briefings but making thousands of calls and reading documents and not even stopping for lunch, they have to drag him away for a hamburger, really, the man is a dynamo.  Well, we all needed a laugh.  Trump has decided that he doesn't like the daily press kabuki because, while it's fun to abuse the press, they never cheer for him or chant "Lock her up!" or tell him, with tears in their eyes, "Sir, we would be lost without you, sir."  They just keep asking questions about additional calls to poison control centers,  to which he replies, "I can't imagine."  Now that's sarcasm.  I think.  I can't even tell anymore.  But when Mitch McConnell concurs with Piers Morgan, all the ice cream in the White House freezer (which is a much bigger and colder freezer than Nancy Pelosi's freezer) can't take away the pain.

Anthony Fauci has been missing from the last couple of White House briefings, probably because he has to listen to so much bullshit.  He was absent from Thursday's infamous "Lysol cure" fiasco; unlike Dr. Deborah Birx, he probably would have said something instead of staring at his hands, and fewer people might be gargling with Tarn-X.  In any case, Trump wants to banish both of them so he can address the masses without interruption.  And maybe no reporters.  Just turn on the cameras and leave.  Well, they told us about his stamina.

Stephen A. Crockett, Jr., at The Root noticed that "senior advisers" Diamond and Silk have been missing from Fox News since March 6.  Their disappearance was COVID-19-related, but not in a respiratory illness way:  it seems that their conspiracy theorizing was too much even for the Hannity-Carlson-Ingraham channel.  Looks like racism to me.  Yeah, definitely racism.  

Irish Daily Mirror To Trump: 'Imbleach Him'

I liked it better when the world just pitied us.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Death and the MAGAts

How is Trump killing Americans today?

He wants to make a speech to the graduating class of the Military Academy at West Point in June, which would require over a thousand cadets to return to campus.  He wants Pence to do the same thing to the Air Force Academy.  The Naval Academy doesn't get a speech because they made him look stupid and callous over the matter of Captain Brett Crozier.

New York City's Poison Control Center fielded an unusually high number of calls from people who were worried about possible ingestion of household cleaners.  None has died or required hospitalization so far.

Apprentice grifter Jared Kushner is flying medical supplies from China, at public expense, and turning them over to a private company called Medline for sale to the highest bidder.  At the same time, VA hospitals are short of personal protective equipment.*

If a coronavirus vaccine is developed, anti-vaxers led by Ammon Bundy will undermine it as they already have undermined measles, rubella and other vaccination programs.  For freedom.

A perfect storm of ignorance, religiosity and greed is killing churchgoers in the Bible Belt.  More freedom.

Now we know why chloroquine was being hawked as last month's "What have you got to lose?" miracle elixir -- the company that makes it, Oracle, is owned by Larry Ellison, who helped make America great again by holding a Trump fund-raiser in the well-named Rancho Mirage, California.  Trump has millions of people convinced that he's super rich, but the Bank of China says otherwise.

There's always time in Trump's busy schedule for old grudges.  Congress voted a $10 billion "loan" to the Postal Service, but he won't approve it unless they charge Amazon more.  Some people, like Joe Biden, suspect a ploy to shut down the USPS in order to prevent voting by mail.  Screw the post office, screw Amazon, screw the vote-by-mail blue states, and even some screw left over for Utah because Mitt Romney.  A good day's work.

Are we a failed state (George Packer) or the object of the world's pity (Fintan O'Toole)?  We can be both.  We contain multitudes.



*Kushner doesn't seem like much of a reader.  Who told him about Milo Minderbinder?




Friday, April 24, 2020

A wilderness of mirrors

Let me see if I have this right.

On March 12, the bright red state of Missouri sued televangelist Jim Bakker to stop him selling "Silver Sol Liquid" and other products as treatments for COVID-19.

On March 13, the FDA told Alex Jones to stop saying his "Superblue toothpaste" kills "the whole SARS-corona family at point-blank range."

On March 25, The Onion published an article about a fictional resident of Wyoming who bought  "$2,513.67 worth of bleach, ammonia and Drano" in case Trump suggested these items could cure the pandemic.  (The article went on to report that he was subsequently found unresponsive beside several empty cans of Rust-oleum.)

On April 23, Trump said, "The disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, and is there a way we can get something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning.  It gets in the lungs."  Speakers of Trumpese say he was suggesting that disinfectant be injected into humans for therapeutic purposes and not to kill them in a horrible way.  Seated nearby, Dr. Deborah Birx said nothing but appeared to sigh.  She does not wish to be characterized in a tweet as "Dumb Debbie."

He went on to propose "ultraviolet or just very powerful light."  Still nothing from Birx.

Today, April 24, several things happened.

Reckitt Benckiser, Plc, on the advice of hysterical counsel, issued a statement:  "We must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products [including Lysol] be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route)."  Got that, Bubba?  No enemas!

Brian Niemietz at the New York Daily News remembered the satirical story in The Onion and wrote about it.

Freshly hired White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump never said what he said, and added, "Leave it to the media to irresponsibly take President Trump out of context and run with negative headlines."  He was being sarcastic, but it's not the first time the world has failed to appreciate his subtle sense of humor.  It's lonely being a jenius.

But wait!  There's more!

Remember Mark Grenon?  Of course you don't.  He's the archbishop of the Florida church/miracle cure purveyor Genesis II, and he wrote to Trump to promote his bleach-based COVID treatment, "Miracle Mineral Solution" (MMS).  You'll be as surprised as I was to learn than they also promote birtherism and Alan Keyes.  I congratulate the archbishop.  P.T. Barnum could never persuade an American president to endorse his mermaid or agree that Joice Heth was George Washington's nanny, but Grenon is the new king of humbug.

The Friday edition of "Never Give a Sucker an Even Break" is about to begin.  What wonders await a weary nation?





Thursday, April 23, 2020

Mister, we could use a man like General Sherman again

Tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, locusts, basketball-size hail...how did they miss the rolling tsunami of stupid?

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, there was an actual scientist at the head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, Dr. Richard Bright.  As the name implied, BARDA was supposed to develop and distribute a vaccine or drug for coronavirus as soon as possible.  It was not supposed to assent to dangerous drug combinations being promoted as a quick fix, like hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, an anti-bacterial.  Dr. Bright did not assent, for which he was shunted off to another job at the National Institutes of Health.  He has turned whistleblower and is filing a suit against the Department of Health and Human Services; his letter to his attorneys has been circulating all day.  The only thing Trump hates more than science is whistleblowers.

Surfing on the crest of the tsunami is "Governor" Brian Kemp, who is slowly, slowly learning that stealin' elections ain't governin'.  He was slow to learn that coronavirus carriers can be asymptomatic, and now he's slowly realizing that, with the possible exception of Princess Ivanka, Trump cares for no living human or Republican.  It seems like only yesterday he was telling governors that ending the shutdown is "their call."  It was yesterday.  Today he sings a different song:  "I told the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, that I disagree strongly with his decision to open certain facilities, which are in violation of Phase 1 guidelines...I want him to do what he thinks is right.  But I disagree with him on what he's doing."  Huh?  Not easy to please a capricious, self-serving, probably insane authoritarian, is it, Brian?  We saved a place for you under the bus.  Let this be a warning to all governors a shade less dumb -- you open the massage parlors, you get sued when Uncle Jake dies from the 'rona.

Anderson Cooper managed to find a mayor even dumber than Kemp.  Meet Carolyn Goodman of Las Vegas, who knows what real Americans want after they've hit the beach in Florida and visited a spa in Georgia:  casino gambling.  It took her less than fifteen minutes to reduce Cooper to full Fauci face-palm with double eye rub.  Her cure for this pandemic is the free market.  He read her a Chinese study about how the virus spreads in restaurants.  Her response:  "This isn't China.  This is Las Vegas, Nevada!"  He gave up.  Give the lady ten silver Palins and direct her to the free virus buffet.

All over the world, not just in China, people are breathing deeply of the fresh air and seeing the stars for the first time in years now that factories are shut and hardly anyone is driving.  We are getting a glimpse of a possible fossil-fuel-free future, just as researchers are connecting COVID-19 to high levels of air pollution, especially from nitrogen dioxide.  In other words, it would be dumb to go back to the way things were.

Remember FORD TO CITY:  DROP DEAD?  Legendary Daily News headline about President Gerald Ford's initial response to New York's financial difficulties?  For a while it looked like the city might default on its debts, but smarter people prevailed.  Jerry, meet Moscow Mitch.  He thinks "blue states" should declare bankruptcy instead of seeking further federal money, which could better be spent on, well, red states.  Because, quite simply, Mitch McConnell is a useless twat.  Even Rep.  Peter "The Less Racist" King calls him "The Marie Antoinette of the Senate."  French revolutionary rhetoric is becoming as ubiquitous as facemasks.  I must see if  eBay has a pike suitable for carrying heads.

And finally...Michael Brown, a/k/a "Heck of a Job Brownie," was supposedly picked to run FEMA in 2003 because he was a college bud of George W. Bush, not because of his experience running horse shows.  Perhaps I'm wrong.  At any rate, Marx didn't tell us what happens when history starts out as farce.  (Maybe I'm searching the wrong Marx, Karl rather than Groucho.)  Two months ago Alex Azar, pharma lobbyist turned Secretary of Health and Human Services, lied to the public about America's ability to cope with the virus which had just infected its first known victim.  Then he turned the department's day-to-day response over to his friend Brian Harrison, who quickly became known as "the dog breeder" because he is a dog breeder.  Labradoodles, if it makes any difference.  That was 49,000 deaths ago, with no end in sight.

The Brians have us surrounded.


Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Normalcy

On the Fox breakfast show Two Foul Balls and a Miss back on March 26, Ainsley Earhardt was lamenting the state of her nails.  Come on down, Ainsley!  Georgia will be open for business this Friday, which is even ahead of other states with dim-bulb governors.  Grab a flight in the morning -- shouldn't be hard, they'll probably upgrade you -- and by afternoon you can bowl a few lines, hit the gym, and yes, get a manicure!  Essential services all.  How is the News Corporation's health plan?  Asking for an acquaintance.

Charlie Pierce has a thorough analysis here, and much as I dislike the thought of living in a level four containment lab, I have to agree.  My mayor, Van Johnson, put it well:  keep the faith but follow the science.  As did Pete Seeger, long ago, when he said of another politician reckless with the lives of others, "We're waist-deep in the Big Muddy, and the big fool says to push on."

National Nurses United have been holding demonstrations around the country, demanding better protective measures and more equipment.  Yesterday they hit the White House, where they held up the names of healthcare workers who have died in the pandemic, but Trump failed to mention them in the Tuesday edition of "Just Say Thank You and Shut Up."  Because most of them are women?

Like everything else, politics is on hold (apart from Trump's daily campaign rallies, thoughtfully carried free by the cable newsertainment channels).  Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has collected endorsements from the right (former Rep. Joe Walsh), the left (Bernie Sanders) and the even more left (Noam Chomsky).  Has Chomsky ever supported a mere Democrat before?  I don't think do.  In another astounding development, older voters may have begun to think that the calls by Trump and his surrogates to lay down their lives for the economy are a little presumptuous.  The older people get, the less likely they are to endorse Dan Patrick:  "There are more important things than living."

"What have you got to lose?" is not something you want to hear from your doctor, but Dr. Trump said it over and over in promoting the antimalarial hydroxychloroquine for treating covid.  The advice was so irresponsible that some people thought he had invested some of that Russian oligarch cash in the stuff.  They tried it in VA hospitals and Texas nursing homes and the results were terrible.  People with covid died anyway and people who really needed it for rheumatoid arthritis and lupus couldn't get it.  Why stop at not helping when you can hinder at the same time?  This week I expect Donzo and his Usual Gang of Covidiots to pivot to Dr. Gohmert's Magic Elixir, a wondrous powder that you add to water and mist, only $49.50 a box from Re-electLouie.com.  It's German!

You're probably better off with John Daly's prophylactic, a daily shot of vodka.  Of course, there are reports of people who survived covid with damaged hearts or in need of kidney dialysis, so you may want to ease up on your liver in case the potato squeezings don't work.

New York City remains the epicenter of the epicenter, so it's possible Mayor Bill DeBlasio only wants to cheer up its cabin-feverish millions.  I think promising a ticker-tape parade for healthcare workers or Fourth of July fireworks might be (shall we say) premature, especially since the WHO believes there will be a second wave in the fall, just in time for regular flu season.  Maybe a month of free Netflix?  Or just pay everybody's rent?

We have had to forgo a lot of round-number anniversaries this year, including the ninetieth birthday of Stephen Sondheim, the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day (today) and the fiftieth Gay Pride parade scheduled for June.  The fiftieth anniversary of Apollo 13 -- what a year 1970* was! -- has come and gone, and even Beethoven's 250th (December 16) is in doubt.  These group events punctuate our lives even if we had nothing to do with them.  For all our digital connectivity, they are missed.


*It was fifty years ago today -- actually April 10, 1970 -- that Paul McCartney announced he was leaving the Beatles.  Of course, Yoko still gets blamed.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Invisible enemy

Well, well, it seems that Boris Johnson, a/k/a Trump Lite, "skipped five early crisis briefings" about coronavirus because he was celebrating the completion of Brexit ("LIBERATE BRITAIN!") and the confirmed knocking-up of his girlfriend.  He likes his country weekends.  It's almost as if a career as a lying, racist journalistic dilettante is not the best prep for running a country.

The World Health Organization warns that the worst of the pandemic is yet to come.  In addition, American researchers at WHO advised Washington about the coming disaster last fall.  They probably should have told Fox News and asked them to pass it on.

It isn't only us.  Chinese people suspect foreigners of bringing coronavirus to their country.  Like Fionn Clifford, who has lived in Beijing since he was eleven.  There have been 593 reported cases in the capital, which has over twenty-one million residents.

Dan Patrick, lieutenant governor of Texas, went on the Tucker Carlson Comedy Hour to announce his epitaph:  "There are more important things than living."  "And that is saving this country for my children and my grandchildren and saving this country for all of us," he went on, and I'm sure many Fox News consumers made an appointment to have DO NOT RESUSCITATE inscribed on their foreheads as soon as the tattoo parlors reopen.  For Freedom!  For Liberty!  For Trump!

More than seven hundred workers at the Smithfield Foods pork plant in South Dakota have contracted coronavirus, and a spokesperson blames "living circumstances" among the plant's "large immigrant population."  The governor, one of those anti-lockdown Republicans dear to The Leader's heart, concurs.  It's always dirty foreigners, isn't it?  By the way, there is evidence that corona can pass from humans to other species, and no evidence that heat kills it.  Enjoy your pork chop.  And don't worry, he's on it:  "In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!"  That should take Care of Everything.



I'm so proud my state is practically all red except for a few patches around Atlanta and Albany.  Thanks, Governor Shemp, now let's hit the ground running on Friday and kick some Alabama ass!

I've never been able to make much of the financial news, futures and so on, but I think it's terribly amusing that crude oil is essentially free to anyone who has a place to store it.  I'm imagining all sorts of frantic calls between Putin and his puppet in the White House, while supertankers of the nasty stuff roam the seas like the Flying Dutchman or a cruise ship full of sick people.

Speaking of fossil fuels, we all know how much Trump loves the miners and their "beautiful clean coal."  So it's enraging to read about how they are thrice screwed -- by their employers, their government and the coronavirus.

If you want to know how we got into this mess, a good place to start is this talk by Timothy Snyder.  And then anything else of his you can find, including the books.  Especially the books.



Monday, April 20, 2020

Look on my works

Trump is the "King of Ventilators."  Actually "our Country" is, but in his brain (I always imagine the ducts in Sam Lowery's flat in Brazil) they are one and the same.  We are so full of ventilators, we don't know what to do with them.  We're giving them away as fast as Robin Hood Kushner can steal them from the blue states and give them to the highest bidders.  Russia, you get vents!  Iran, if you beg, you get vents!  Only Michigan can't get vents.  It knows why.

Oh, and the FBI are "scum" because they investigate crime.

While literally everyone else is focused on the pandemic, here's what the "president" is focused on:

Nancy Pelosi is "dumb."*  "She will be overthrown..." like the Shah, I suppose.  Her crime was to appear on Fox News, which is where Donnie goes for refuge from uppity women.  He was too clenched to poop, so he went on tweeting.  And tweeting.  And he still had bile left over for his daily meeting of Corona Club, none of it about the pandemic.

Roger Stone "was treated very unfairly."

"Great credit" to FEMA for "helping our States make it big!"  (Maybe he thinks it's some type of athletic event?)

Retweet of anti-Pelosi rant from fair and balanced Hannity.

Complaint about "100 nominees" stuck in the Senate because of lazy, do-nothing Republicans and worm-face McConnell.  Just kidding, this is somehow the Democrats' fault, too.

Promotion of OANN at the expense of Fox News.  That will teach them to book Pelosi.

Well, you get the idea, but not the full, eye-watering flavor.  For that, check out Weijia Wang of CBS News trying to ask a question.  "Nice and easy...just relax...keep your voice down, please."  Apart from the racism and the hostility to the press, it sounds like what he used to say while assaulting women.

Anyway, Nicolle Wallace, who was communications director for George W. Bush, has had enough.  I don't think he'll be re-tweeting her "guy is bananas" comment.  Wallace is part of a category of Republicans I have named MAWBADs (Might As Well Be A Democrat).  The party they remember, even the party of Goldwater, is not just dead, it's buried under a ton of concrete like Abraham Lincoln.  You won't see either of them again.  The Democrats, on the other hand, can accommodate Joe Manchin and Bernie Sanders, Jon Tester and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  Give yourself a break and get a trial membership today!

One segment of society is returning from social distancing -- the mass shooters.  Gabriel Wortman ran amok in Nova Scotia, of all places, killing nineteen people at last count and setting buildings on fire.  Perhaps inspired, a man hijacked a bus in Richardson, Texas, and shot three police officers before being killed.  On the President George Bush Turnpike, as it happens.



*Actually he called her "inherently dumb," because he thinks it means "very very."  Barron, did you help Daddy with his spelling again?




Saturday, April 18, 2020

Reading list

Ed Scarce at Crooks and Liars tells us that countries led by women are dealing better with the pandemic.  And we could have been one of them.

The Anglican Archbishop of Uganda, Stephen Kazimba Mugalu, is urging women to use contraception while the country is in lockdown.  "Be careful with these men, because they don't care," he told the ladies.  The Catholic Church, of course, remains in denial that men and women cooped up at home might do anything beside play gin rummy.

Dylan fans who have traced all the references in "Murder Most Foul" can apply the same technique to his new release, "I Contain Multitudes," which ranges from Indiana Jones to Anne Frank.  Anyway, it's much shorter.  Dylan's tour of Japan has been cancelled, but the website indicates he still plans to play Bend, Oregon, on June 4.

Beachgoing and professional wrestling have returned to Florida, for those who have no interest in Bob Dylan or gin rummy.

1843magazine.com has compiled an international glossary of covid-19 slang.  Watch out for Coronaspeck.

This sex-for-rent scheme may help you to understand why landlords were singled out for special abuse during China's Cultural Revolution.

We could be living in the final days of TV doctors.  It will be harder to dislodge the preachers.

Stephen Moore, a member of the White House Death Panel for the Immediate Restarting of the Economy, decided that not enough people were offended by Trump's cheerleading for the "Liberate Whatever" protesters.  So he compared them to Rosa Parks.  When they turn violent, maybe John Brown?

The World Health Organization says antibodies to coronavirus don't mean you can't be reinfected.  I think the phrase we're all searching for is "Oh fuck."




Friday, April 17, 2020

"Far too much of this"

Republicans love states' rights.  They can put their hands over their hearts and recite the Tenth Amendment, approaching song when they reach "reserved to the States respectively, or to the people!"  They will do this whenever Congress tries to extend voting rights to minorities, or ban assault rifles, or make car manufacturers reduce carbon emissions.  When the states ignore a president who ludicrously claims his authority is "total," however, you can hear crickets.

Proving that he can, too, multitask, Trump took time out from the enhanced SAPFU that is his regime's response to the greatest crisis since World War II and barricaded himself inside the Twitterverse to encourage a handful of "the people" to defy "the States."  Most governors are trying to keep a pandemic from getting worse, with minimal help from the federal government -- in fact, with quite a lot of hindrance -- by ordering non-essential workers to stay home and closing schools and other public spaces.  Focusing from the beginning on the economic impact, and now exclusively on the economic impact, he spotted "his people" blocking a hospital entrance in Lansing and crowed, "LIBERATE MICHIGAN!" and "LIBERATE MINNESOTA!"  Savoring his own brilliant rhetoric,  he added:  "LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment.  It is under siege!" (a reference to the gun safety laws passed this week by Virginia's elected legislature and signed by its elected governor).  As Charlie Pierce remarked, "It's not every Friday that the president* takes to the electric Twitter machine to foment insurrection."

Another elected governor, Jay Inslee of Washington, has called this "unhinged."  I call it "impeachable," but even if that could be arranged, there's no reason to believe it would succeed any better.  No president has ever been impeached twice in four years.  If nothing else, it would signal to history that this seditious crackpot does not speak for us.  Mr. Pierce seems to hold out hope for the Twenty-fifth Amendment, but really, have you seen this Cabinet?  He'd have to kill and eat Anthony Fauci on live television.

I know this is the old familiar Trump technique -- keep people enraged so they can't concentrate on the real atrocities committed by the one percent as they tighten their chokehold on this country and the world.  The pandemic makes it easier, and time is running out.  Patience is running out.  Food is running out.  I'm not at all sure we will survive until it's time to vote.

Is it the weekend if all days are the same?  I plan to turn everything off and read very old poetry.  And then...

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Day after day

Dispatched to People's Fox News to explain Trump's bizarre decision to abandon the World Health Organization, Kellyanne Conway suggested they were remiss in not reporting this pandemic eighteen COVIDs ago.  "This is COVID-19, not COVID-1, folks," she said.  Obviously the Fu Manchu Secret Virus Laboratory had already discarded many bioweapons before unleashing this one.  Is that the official White House line or just a stupid official?  Because "nineteen" actually refers to the year it was identified.  It looks like she gets her information from noted virologist Rush Limbaugh, a problem almost as widespread and deadly as coronavirus.*

What if they gave a Trump hate rally and Trump didn't come?  It happened yesterday in Lansing, where the gun-humping, Confederate flag-waving mouth-breathers vented their spleen at Governor Whitmer's attempt to keep Michiganders alive by locking down the state.  Deputizing for the Leader, Richard Grenell took time off from running the Office of National Intelligence and giving aid and comfort to Alternative fur Deutschland to misapply the Bill of Rights and lead the traditional chant of "Lock her up!" via Instagram.  Michigan is currently third in coronavirus cases behind New York and New Jersey, but clearly some of its residents are hoping to move up.

The Trumpanzees of "Operation Gridlock" would not want to live in Brazil or El Salvador, where criminal gangs are enforcing government curfews to prevent coronavirus spread.  In other places, NGOs like the Taliban and the Mafia are stepping up, currying good will among the populace for, I'm sure, largely selfish and mercenary reasons.  Still, they know how to get things done.  Not like the United States, where governors are told to go out and buy their own vents and PPE, only to have them confiscated for the national stockpile.  Since slumlord-in-law Jared was made Pilemaster, there has been ugly muttering about what exactly he needs all that gear for.  Could it be yet another attempt to profit from a public position -- what the old Constitution calls "emoluments"?  Begone and wash out your mouth with hand sanitizer.  "They're having a hard time in Moscow.  We're going to help them."  Yes, Trump doesn't forget who his real daddy is, and it's not poor demented Fred.  Andrew Cuomo should have started amassing equipment five years ago, but Putin was too busy shooting down passenger planes and poisoning political opponents in Britain.  We're going to help them.  Who could have a problem with that?

I wonder if Trump's newly-minted humanitarianism will extend to California, where Governor Newsom just announced a one-time cash payment to Trump's favorite punching bag, undocumented immigrants.  California is in better shape than most, having locked down most of the Bay Area soon after the nursing home outbreak near Seattle, but Los Angeles County is seeing a sharp increase in cases.  Like virtually everyplace else, the key to re-opening will be testing.  Less than one percent of the American population has been tested.  The test kit is fairly basic, hardly as complex as a ventilator, but the country that tamed smallpox and polio can't seem to put cotton swabs together.

Finally, a reason to hope Rush Limbaugh lives past next week!  Trump is bored without golf and hate rallies, and he wanted his own radio show.  On reflection, he decided not to make Dittoheads choose between them, which might have been physically painful and psychologically bewildering.  Carlson, Hannity and Ingraham notwithstanding, Trump has been much grieved by the paucity of praise and the outright criticism he sees on Fox, especially from those who are thinking about returning to journalism one day.  The difficulty with his daily "press conferences" is the press and their disrespectful questions, so why not eliminate them?  Get himself a Robin Quivers clone and some sponsors like MyPillow and those outfits that sell dried beans to survivalists, and while away the time between lunch and dinner telling America how all the bad stuff is Obama's fault?  With guest stars like Ted Nugent, Kanye West, that guy who played Buddy Holly, Curt Schilling, his new African American Vernon Jones, Ammon Bundy, Sheriff Joe -- hey, this can work!  Get Rushbo's oncologist on the phone, stat!



*When I read this I thought of Alan Bennett's play The Madness of George III.  It was filmed as The Madness of King George for fear Americans would think it was a sequel.  ("Hey, did we see 'The Madness of George Two?'")  Kellyanne thinks COVID-19 is a sequel.








Wednesday, April 15, 2020

A change is gonna come

When the pope puts on his Easter whites and talks about universal basic income, we are in a new world.  Change will come slowly, but everyone living through this will remember.

The American Federation of Teachers is airing an ad about nurses who are risking and sometimes losing their lives, only to be accused of theft.  ("Where are the masks going?  Are they going out the back door?")  As they struggle to keep people alive and worry about carrying infection home to their own families, their accuser thinks of new ways to make everything worse, from defunding WHO to holding up relief checks until his name can be printed on them.

In recent years, public school teachers have had to strike for a living wage, while critics call them lazy (those long summer vacations) and complain about creeping multiculturalism, and the Secretary of Education pushes schemes to privatize all the schools and replace science with Genesis.  Now parents are having to wrangle children at home and even get them to pay attention to online lessons.  It doesn't look so soft now, does it?  And you probably don't have thirty to forty kids at the dining room table, or a principal nagging about paperwork.

Then there are the people we never think of unless they go on strike.  More than fifty New York City transit workers, for example, have died from coronavirus, and the numbers in other cities are comparable.  At least they have an effective union, and New York promises a $500,000 benefit to their families.  The people who deliver the supplies to supermarkets and stock the shelves can't expect their employers to be as generous -- especially Whole Foods, which is not providing them with protective gear.  Its owner, Jeff Bezos, could cough up, so to speak, as he has grown even more staggeringly rich off this disaster.  Police, EMTs, firefighters, postal workers, sanitation workers, railroad workers, the people who keep the lights on and the sewage treatment plants running, still on the job.  Next time someone rants about the Deep State, ask them who processed your unemployment claim and tallied your mail-in ballot.

Applaud them at dusk, throw them a parade, give them Red Sox tickets for life.  All fine, but remember everybody needs to live as good a life as the hedge-fund managers, telephone sanitizers, writers of advertising copy and other useless eaters.  I use the Nazis' term deliberately, because Trump has decided this is his Reichstag fire:  he wants to dismiss both chambers of Congress because Moscow Mitch's Senate won't confirm his appointments, and not because the Speaker is opposing his lunatic scheme to de-fund WHO in the middle of a pandemic.  But that's for another day.


Tuesday, April 14, 2020

All the ships at sea

It's unfortunate that some people only listen to celebrities, but this is our world.  So when Rita Wilson described the side effects she suffered from taking chloroquine for COVID-19, it made the news.  She is now fully recovered.  We may never know how many people in nursing homes were not so fortunate.  But, as Bill O'Reilly says, they were on their last legs anyway.

Having blamed everyone in this country for his incompetence, Trump has now turned to the rest of the world, starting with the World Health Organization.  He will stop funding them until they agree that he did everything perfectly, and that this mess is all the fault of Obama and Crooked Hillary.

President Obama was back today, endorsing Joe Biden -- hardly "breaking news," whatever MSNBC says.  I don't know about you, but I'm feeling a distinct dearth of Crooked Hillary tweets.  There is also a shortage of abusive, misspelled comments about AOC, Maxine Waters, Elizabeth Warren and even Nancy Pelosi.  That's because there's a new scapegoat in town and her name is Gretchen Whitmer, "that woman in Michigan."  In an incoherent rant Tucker Carlson implied that she is a "mediocre politician" and accused her of "petty authoritarianism" for enforcing severe restrictions in the state with 27,000 confirmed cases.  Tucker prefers grand mal authoritarianism like "When somebody is the president of the United States the authority is total.  And that's the way it's gotta be.  It's total."  A flabbergasted (female) reporter asked if Trump really believes that and got the statesmanlike response, "Enough!"  She was not arrested, but clearly it's a matter of time.

Isn't it strange how naval matters run through this time of national trauma?  They range from the appalling (clemency for the SEAL war criminal Gallagher) to the outrageously funny (the tarp covering the name of the destroyer USS John S. McCain lest Trump throw a hissy fit) to the downright gallant (Captain Crozier giving up his command to save his crew).  Along the way many have had recourse to the Hollywood Navy, too, usually comparing Trump to the paranoid Captain Queeg of The Caine Mutiny.  The beginning of this train of thought was of course the Tweet of the Day -- clearly dictated because properly spelled and punctuated -- about "total" presidential authority over mere governors:

"Tell the Democrat [sic] Governors that 'Mutiny On the Bounty' was one of my all time favorite movies.  A good old fashioned mutiny every now and then is an exciting and invigorating thing to watch, especially when the mutineers need so much from the Captain.  Too easy!"

On second thought, almost certainly a Stephen Miller joint.  I doubt Trump ever sat through one of the three versions long enough to drool over Tahitian women in sarongs.  It's a little strange to find a commander-in-chief celebrating mutiny, but what isn't strange about this regime?  Yes, the "mutineers" needed so much, and didn't get it, and were told to get it themselves because he's "not a shipping clerk."  There is video.  And does Trump/Miller actually believe that the heroic Captain Bligh put down the mutiny and sailed his breadfruit back to England?  He does look more and more like Charles Laughton, I'll give him that.

And then, watching one of the propaganda pressers, I was reminded of another cinematic vessel, USS Reluctant.  People had been attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci for being so conciliatory and respectful of Trump while never quite going along with his bullshit.  Fauci is of course Lt. (jg) Doug Roberts, who pretends to kowtow to the captain so the crew can have liberty, even if it damages his relationship with them.  Like Mr. Roberts, I suspect the doctor can't wait to get off this ship of fools.  Meanwhile, he's taking one for us.  










Monday, April 13, 2020

Points of light

Maybe it seems like nothing good ever happens.  The COVID-19 death toll continues to rise.  Tornadoes are killing people.  That sound was Krakatoa, one of the half-dozen volcanoes with name recognition.  The locusts are worse than normal -- normal? -- in eastern Africa.  All the wars that were going on before the Event are still going on, answering the question "If the Russian army kills Ukrainians and even the BBC doesn't see it, are they really dead?"  Speaking of Ukraine, would you like to read the words "fire," "radiation" and "Chernobyl" in the same sentence?

Here in the Shining City on the Hill, political ratfuckery has hardly missed a beat.  There is no good reason why all the states and colonies territories should not vote by mail, which already occurs in Oregon, Utah, Washington, Hawaii and Colorado with no fuss.  No reason except the Republicans fear, with some justification, that more voting will hasten the day when they join the No-Nothings and the Anti-Masonic Party in the dumpster of history.  They have erected every roadblock they can think of, from gerrymandering to voter ID to closing polling stations to purging names because a clerk omitted a hyphen.  (In Georgia, Secretary of State Brian Shemp even "mislaid" the power cords for a lot of machines delivered to mostly-black precincts.  Another stable jenius!)  The poll tax has been slipped back in under new names -- you can't vote if you owe child support, or a fine for an overdue library book.  Nobody believes the Russian bots can't somehow fiddle the numbers.  And still people insist on voting, especially people who remember the 1960s.  What to do?

The social distancing necessitated by this pandemic -- the British use the much cozier term "cocooning" -- have made mail voting more attractive, especially if COVID continues or re-ignites in the fall.  So desperate are the Republicans that they have stepped up efforts to destroy the postal system itself.  Because of a scheme that requires it to guarantee pensions for employees who haven't retired, haven't even been hired, the postal service is broke, and the Trump regime won't agree to any stimulus bill that helps it survive.  Their hope is to kill two birds:  destroy a unionized public utility that helps rural people as well as Amazon, and save the Republican Party's ass from rampant democracy.  If this fails, even the Electoral College won't keep them in power.

Everyone saw Wisconsin voters standing for hours in the rain last week just to vote in primaries, and some states are moving to fix the problem.  I call attention to baby-blue Virginia, where amazing things are happening.  Last week they passed a whole slew of gun safety bills which stop just short of grabbing everybody's assault weapons/freedom.  This week they just about went crazy with new laws to protect LGBTQ veterans, allow local authorities to decide what to do with their Confederate memorials, and yes, make it easier to vote.  Who do they think they are, the People's Republic of Burlington (Vermont)?

All the other news is bad, but some of it is grimly amusing.  Remember William Bennett, the virtue-mongering Secretary of Education way back when (the golden Reagan years)?  He's also a degenerate gambler who showed up on "Fox & Friends" to whine about the lockdown -- of casinos.  There's online gambling, of course, but almost nothing to bet on, and Bill is climbing the walls.  Bennett probably has a slot machine in his living room, but somebody should buy him another one.  

Another padded Bill (O'Reilly) surfaced in the same studios to dismiss the overreaction to the Trump Pandemic:  "Many people who are dying...were on their last legs anyway, and I don't want to sound callous about that."  Without sounding callous, he might want to call the family of the Theodore Roosevelt crew member whose death was announced today.  As an active-duty sailor in the US Navy, he probably was not on his "last legs" when COVID killed him.  But as Trump remarked to the widow of another service man, "He knew what he was getting into."

Food shortages?  In America?  In 2020?  This is going to make the toilet paper panic look like a couple of dogs disputing a squeaky toy.  

Trump has been tweeting veiled hints to fire Dr. Anthony Fauci if the only trusted member of his coronavirus team doesn't stop saying things like this.  All who fail to praise Donzo must feel his wrath, like the World Health Organization.

The media is the media.  Not satisfied with reporting, they are trying to gin up a feud between Governor Cuomo and Mayor DiBlasio over who gets to close New York City schools.  Look, I get that there's nobody left standing except Joe Biden (they were hoping for just one more debate between the Sunshine Boys) now that Bernie Sanders has endorsed him.  Would it be asking too much for them to stop acting like a little kid playing her divorced parents off to get a better PlayStation?  I am trying to be positive here.

Trying so hard.  Oh, I almost forgot the Pope's Easter message.  What's Latin for "universal basic income"?  Can they canonize him now?




Saturday, April 11, 2020

Take a breath

I realize that's an insensitive title, since so many people need machinery to breathe right now, but I mean to reflect and ramble a little.  It's Holy Saturday and in the church I was raised in -- yes, I'm a recovering Catholic, thanks for your support -- it's the day when nothing happens.  The altar is stripped as if painters are expected, the candles are extinguished, a few people stop by to pray in normal years but nobody is home.  Because for one full day, Jesus is dead and buried.  Think of that.  Of course the whole story derives from the dying and reviving gods of the even-more-ancient Middle East, who sacrifice themselves for the tribe's continued fertility -- think John Barleycorn going into the ground and returning as wheat.  Think of the Fisher King restoring life to the waste land.  It's a day for retreating into your own mind, especially after the last three horrific months.

I think about family separation.  The extremely contagious nature of coronavirus means that thousands have died alone, lacking whatever comfort the hand of a parent, child or spouse could give them.  There were no parting glances or words.  It's as if they died on some distant battlefield, surrounded by strangers, barely noticed in the chaos, and only later reported to survivors who will always feel that emptiness.  After the First World War people turned by the thousands to mediums and spiritualists who pretended to restore the lost connection for a minute.  I'm not sure debunkers like Houdini did them any favors by revealing how it was worked.

When this year began, family separation still meant the policy of cruelty for cruelty's sake as implemented by the American government, teaching the harsh lesson that if you flee terror for the sake of your children and survive the trek to the border, you will lose those very children possibly forever, not because there is no work for you here but to appease a certain class of voter.  The political arithmetic was done and you came out zero.  The camps -- after the 1940s we should shudder at the word -- have been forgotten as we tend to our own disaster.  The hospitals, the nursing homes, the prisons, all take precedence.  If they die in the border camps, they don't have to be counted in the total.  Not Americans.

I wasn't this gloomy all day.  I actually woke up thinking of how the Leader has hijacked Easter.  First it was his wish to see the churches "packed" with asymptomatic carriers tomorrow.  Then he shared plans for Palm Sunday, downloading the service of some homophobic preacher.  Then it was the staggeringly cheerful "HAPPY GOOD FRIDAY TO ALL!"  Two minutes after that hit, Pence ran into the Oval for damage control and ordered the official photographer to get a shot of the two of them "praying."  At that point I decided that this is a job for Jon McNaughton.  Like Holbein depicting the gross, diseased, vile-smelling Henry VIII as an imperial dazzler, McNaughton specializes in making Trump appear vital and charismatic.  A triptych, I think.  Panel one:  Trump in the (Rose) Garden at night, his Cabinet sleeping around him as he bargains with God:  "I'll redeem mankind but I'm going to need a favor."  Unnoticed, the Two Corinthians approach with a very Semitic-looking Adam Schiff.   Panel two:  Trump on trial before Pontius Pelosi.  Well, you can see where this is going.   For the most despised and rejected (by the press) president of all time, maybe the Stations of the Trump.  At least it should cheer up the Pope.

I have a lot of problems with Pope Francis, but they can wait for Festivus.  Meanwhile, he looks so forlorn outside St. Peter's by himself.  Usually when he says mass there's a young priest who has to hold that big book in front of him.  (The man's been a priest for sixty years, he should be off-book by now.)  I guess they'll use a lectern.

Peace, and may the Fauci be with you.




Thursday, April 09, 2020

Your tax dollars


Is it cheaper to provide every voter a mail-in ballot, or a Robin Vos space suit?

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Volunteers

One mark of a lawless regime is its willingness to carry out medical experiments on unwilling or uninformed subjects (see Mengele, Josef).  It hardly matters if the purpose of these experiments is give the subjects a better chance of survival or to find out how long they can live in freezing temperatures.  All civilized countries have protocols which are supposed to safeguard the helpless.

The United States has a long, dark history of damaging its citizens in the name of medical research or national security, from feeding LSD to the unwitting to the infamous Tuskeegee program.  Every time one of these abominations comes to light, we are assured that lessons have been learned, laws enacted, and there will be no more forced sterilization of the "feeble-minded" or giving hepatitis to mental patients or feeding people a sub-standard diet to determine the cause of pellagra.  The bulk of these atrocities have been committed against prisoners who may consent without knowing all the risks or because they are offered an incentive like early parole, or who just believe they have no choice.  The rule of law Americans like to cite as distinguishing us from other places rarely extends to those convicted of breaking our laws.

So why are Texas nursing homes administering hydroxychloroquine to residents suffering from COVID-19, whose only offense was being too old or too ill to care for themselves?  The governor, a devout Trumper, has admitted that the unproven drug is being given without informing the patients or their families (who cannot visit them because of the quarantine) on the recommendation of Dr. Trump himself.  This "miracle drug" is the straw he clutches in hope of restoring a boom economy before the election, and if a few old people have to die, they probably would have died anyway.  It's the least they can do for "our great Country."  Ask Senator Ron Johnson.

Even before this pandemic hit, Texas nursing homes (which are apparently regulated as carefully as Texas chemical plants) had a staggering number of citations for infectious disease and poor staff hygiene.  I would venture to guess the pay does not attract many trained healthcare professionals.  As the Texas Tribune reports, the families of residents are struggling to get information about each facility.  People who work in these places are sick, too, but they don't have Alzheimer's or similar disabilities -- they can refuse to be guinea pigs for Trump and Abbott and the almighty Dow Jones.

Some people with COVID who get hydroxychloroquine recover.  There is no way to be sure they would not recover anyway, as most people do.  This is called "anecdotal evidence."  Nobody knows.  People who experiment on the old and those with pre-existing health problems -- just about everyone in a care facility -- should be tried in The Hague.  Especially the ones who wasted precious time on wishing the pandemic away, calling it a hoax, and now blame their inertia on the World Health Organization or the Chinese government or their self-created political problems.  Trump and his criminal associates have surpassed themselves.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Day 100

It has been only a hundred days since Li Wenliang tried to tell the world about a new and terrible plague.  Nearly 1,400,000 cases that we know about, over 79,000 dead.  The emotional toll is beyond imagining.  The economic cost cannot now be calculated.  No one who survives will be unchanged.

I don't know how to write about it except to list the day's outrages and delusions.  If you Google "Brexit bus lie" you get dozens of references to the 350 million pounds they claimed would reach the National Health Service every week if not for those greedy Europeans.  As he completes a second day in intensive care (no doubt in a well-funded private hospital), Boris Johnson will have had plenty of time to think about it.  He went to Oxford, he probably knows what "irony" means.  In a little more than a week, the government built a hospital called NHS Nightingale.  I'd love to know how many Polish and Serbian builders worked on it.

The other coiffed fool is hard at work firing people.  Last week it was the intelligence inspector general, today it was Glenn Fine who is no longer needed on the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee.  Next up, most likely Christi Grimm, Health and Human Services inspector general.  She dared to criticize his supply and testing achievements, which are of course perfect.  These independent-minded bureaucrats will be missed, unlike Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly.  His insult to Captain Brett Crozier played badly on the Theodore Roosevelt and worse back here, so he "resigned" lest blame attach to Trump (where it certainly belongs).  

You could say that Crozier and Modly sacrificed their careers over something they considered more important.  I'll be curious to see if Trump's economist Peter Navarro does the same.  Two memos have now "surfaced" (i.e., been leaked) in which he warned of half a million lives and six trillion dollars being lost to coronavirus.  Somebody read them to Trump because he happily accepted the recommendation to stop travel from China, while continuing to insist that the virus would disappear "like a miracle."   More recently, Navarro covered his ass by promoting hydroxychloroquine, the lupus and malaria drug Trump has pronounced a "game changer" and in which he may have a modest financial stake, on the advice of experts like Laura Ingraham and the ShamWow guy.  Anthony Fauci, an actual epidemiologist, keeps using big words like "anecdotal" and warning of drastic side effects, but he's obviously Deep State.   Larry Kudlow, the other genius behind the Trump economy, can't wait to get everybody out of the ICU and back to work.  "THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL!" tweeted the Leader.  

It's hardly surprising that Martin Shkreli, the "pharma bro" who can smell the money from his cell, is crazy to get back in business.  Give him a three-month "furlough" and he'll kick COVID's ass, he promises.  For the record, federal prisoner 87850-053 is a hedge-fund manager and not a pharmacologist.  But then Theodore Kaczynski is a math genius -- why not make use of his talents, too? 

And always, a leader keeps his eye on the ball.  "A lot of people are tired of looking at games that are five years old," he groused to yesterday's reluctant audience.  That's right, ESPN has been reduced to showing used football.  Meanwhile, Major League Baseball has a cockamamie scheme to sequester all the teams in Arizona and have them play in ten spring training parks with no spectators.  I've watched a few horse races before empty stands and there is no more depressing reminder that people are dying everywhere.  It's better than reruns of the Axe Throwing League, but not much.  I think the owners and the players can just suck it up this year, as the Olympic athletes are doing.  Their thing only comes around every four years.   

This would have been my father's 98th birthday.  You didn't miss much, Dad, but I miss you.





Monday, April 06, 2020

Eight days a week

Seven lions and tigers in the Bronx Zoo have tested positive for coronavirus.  I don't know why this should surprise anyone, as the virus is thought to have originated in bats, but it still feels sinister.  If coronavirus can pass effortlessly between species, what good does it do to wash your hands?  Most people are in closer proximity to their cats, dogs, etc., than a zookeeper to a tiger.  Must this relationship change radically?  This development takes on extra significance because Americans have been fostering shelter animals in great numbers, to provide companionship for themselves and their children while isolated at home.

The Queen's brief speech is getting so much positive comment that I'm surprised we haven't been treated to jealous sniping from her "good friend" Trump.  This pandemic is putting him way behind on his Twitter malice.

At this morning's briefing, Governor Cuomo got a weird question about graves being dug in Central Park.  He was polite but puzzled.  I guess he hasn't heard about the tunnels full of mole children being rescued by Navy SEALS.  Of course, as a Democrat, he probably gets invited to feast on their adrenal glands, so he has to play dumb.  In this crazy world, QAnon conspiracy theories may be all the mad have left.  Here's another of their heroes.  Brings a train to a ship fight.

Grocery workers are finally getting some respect -- even a shout-out from the Pope yesterday -- and all it took was 73,000+ dead world-wide.  Next up:  the people who come legally from Mexico to pick our crops, who are currently being kept out.  Maybe when lettuce is ten dollars a head.

Hilton and American Express are making a million of their empty hotel rooms available free to healthcare workers.  Any other hotels stepping up?  Anyone?

It could be June before out-of-work Americans see their "stimulus" money, but you'd be astonished how fast the Treasury Department can move when necessary:  The Secret Service signed an "emergency order" to rent thirty golf carts for Trump's Virginia country club.  So that's his ass accommodated until September.

After weeks of refusing to consider the Defense Production Act because the free market can solve all problems, the government has invoked it to stop three million specialized face masks from being shipped to Ontario from the 3M facility in South Dakota.  Even Doug Ford doesn't deserve that, and Ontario's nurses and doctors certainly don't.  Fifty-three doctors in Quetta, Pakistan, were arrested for protesting the lack of protective equipment.  That should help.

Call it QAnon UK.  British numties are attacking phone masts because somebody started a rumor that the new 5G network being installed by the Chinese company Huawei is responsible for the coronavirus.  And you wondered what Ukip does between elections.

Enough.  I'm tired.  If these Irish harpists don't raise your spirits, I wouldn't worry about COVID.  You are already dead.





Thomas Modly, Acting Secretary of the Navy (which means he was too incompetent or too dirty to be confirmed even by Moscow Mitch's supine Senate), flew all the way to Guam to lecture the crew of the Roosevelt about that embarrassing (for Trump) send-off they gave Captain Crozier.  He called Crozier "too na├»ve or too stupid" to command such a big ship, proving that he is too stupid to run the Department of Rubber Bands and Paper Clips.




Sunday, April 05, 2020

"We will meet again"


George Orwell 1984 Quote: We shall meet in the place where there ...

Eighty years after her first broadcast from Windsor Castle, Queen Elizabeth II made a televised speech on the coronavirus pandemic, urging cooperation at another time of crisis.  Her prime minister, who tested positive eleven days ago, has now been admitted to a hospital.  The Prince of Wales was also ill but is now out of self-isolation.

Irish electoral politics is on hold like everything else, and there has been no decision on who will succeed Leo Varadkar as Taoiseach.  Varadkar, who is a medical doctor with seven years' experience, is returning to work as needed by the Health Service Executive.

Captain Brett Crozier  stalled his career and almost certain promotion to admiral when he went public to protect the sailors of the USS Theodore Roosevelt.  He has now tested positive for coronavirus along with 155 members of his former crew.  From the Coward-in-Chief, who approves of war criminals, he got this:  "I thought it was terrible what he did, to write a letter?  I mean, this isn't a class on literature.  This is a captain of a massive ship that's nuclear powered.  He shouldn't be talking that way in a letter.  He could call and ask, and suggest."  He agrees "100 percent" with the Navy's decision, although he "doesn't know much about it."  And no way did he scream in Modly's face before Crozier was dismissed, fake news.

Today's quiz:  "Roses are red, violets are blue, risk is low for coronavirus But high for the flu.  So get your FLUSHOT!"  (February 1)

"This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment, only it's not going to be localized -- it's going to be happening all over the country!" (April 5)

Yes, those are both our Surgeon General, Jerome Adams, who blows with the prevailing Trumpian wind.  No "You're fired" for him.  Here's a short poem for you, General:  Lead, don't impede.

Governor Cuomo thanked Oregon and China for the ventilators, and of course it came up at "A Salute To Donald J. Trump Starring Donald J. Trump."  A reporter began to ask about it and was interrupted:  "Let me tell you what he didn't say.  Two very good friends of mine brought him those whistleblowers...ventilators, right?"  This kind of thing often follows a stroke.

Now that Trump has become all presidential and serious, leadership of the lunatic fringe has passed to his Mar-a-Lago virus-pal Jair Bolsonaro, the "Trump of the Tropics."  He's praying it away like some Brazilian televangelist and simultaneously slandering local leaders who are trying to keep Brazilians alive.

There haven't been this many fascists since World War II.  If the Queen's speech has you feeling nostalgic for an enemy we could see without a microscope, here's a video by Dame Vera Lynn who just turned 103.