Time once again to visit stories that broke after I posted this week’s Friday Five or represent a new development in a story I’ve linked to and/or that I’ve ranted or otherwise expressed opinions upon before. This week supplemented with some graphics I collected for possible inclusion in blog posts which are just going to sit on the hard disk unless I upload a whole bunch of them at once. Let’s just jump in, shall we?
Roger Stone is an ass. He is a criminal. He is almost certainly a traitor. But he did all of that to help the alleged president, so of course just before he is to serve an extremely light sentence for the crimes he was convicted of, the narcissistic fascist occupying the oval office has commuted his sentence. And of course he had to spew a bunch of lies while doing it: Debunking 12 lies and falsehoods from the White House statement on Roger Stone’s commutation.
I mean, this really is beyond the pale. Even Trump’s toady, so-called attorney general William Barr had said that Stone’s case was a “righteous conviction.” If any single Republican in Congress had a fraction of a thread of a fibre of morality they would be condemning this. And that’s not just me saying that: What Could Be More Impeachable Than Clemency for Roger Stone? – Trump’s latest abuse of power is so flagrant that Republicans should want to punish him for their own self-preservation. But they won’t.
Edited to add: Well, I’ll be! Romney: Stone Commutation Is “Historic Corruption”.
And: GOP senator Pat Toomey says Trump commuting Stone was a ‘mistake’.
Speaking of lies from the alleged president, there was supposed to be another rally, this time in New Hampshire. The rally was suddenly canceled, supposedly because of weather, but no one who isn’t a Fox News cultist believes it: Concern over turnout was factor in postponing Trump rally, GOP advisers say – Fears that the coronavirus and the weather would dampen the attendance helped postpone the New Hampshire re-election event. The Tulsa Rally was a big embarrassment, with a very empty stadium, no overflow crowd, and now even Republican officials in Oklahoma are admitting the only thing the rally accomplished was to cause a new spike in Covid-19 cases. So the campaign doesn’t want a repeat of that. Not every Republican is toeing the line on the excuse, though: Trump campaign postpones New Hampshire rally after Tulsa embarrassment – Ex-RNC head Michael Steele calls out Trump lazy excuse.
The vast majority of Americans are trying to be smart. We are trying to practice social distancing. We are wearing masks when we go out. The problem is a minority of stupid, evil, mother-fuckers. And I know that if too many of them get sick that puts health care workers at risk… but me thinking that politicians like this are only getting what the deserve is NOT what’s putting those workers at risk: Commissioner who Voted Against Masks in Critical Condition with COVID-19. If he dies, he had it coming. And I will not apologize for pointing out that fact. Speaking of people who had it coming: 26 lawmakers have tested positive for COVID-19 in Mississippi state legislature outbreak. And while I mostly point out the failings of my fellow Americans, it is important to remember that we don’t have a monopoly on either stupidity or ignorant conservatism. Wear a mask, and stop being a drama queen! Surgical teams wear masks far more restrictive than the simple cloth masks we’re asking for–and they complete hours long complicated surgeries with no one passing out, et cetera. Wearing a mask is different than not wearing one, but it isn’t onerous, it isn’t damaging to your health, and it isn’t something you can’t get used to. And it does save the lives of other people. Stop being ignorant, selfish pricks, and wear a mask!
That’s all the bad news I can deal with this morning. Let’s look at something less serious, shall we?
Lin-Manuel Miranda And Stephen Cobert Perform “Button!”:
(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)
Some days you really can’t do more than roll your eyes or yell “WTF!?” Just skim the headlines to see what I mean (you can also go read the articles for all the grim details
I’ve been seeing people refer to rightwing dominionist so-called christians as a death cult, and I used to think that was a (very) slight exaggeration, but now I’m rethinking that.
Let’s shift gears a bit. The following headline and the opening of the article would appear to contradict one of the articles I linked to on Friday, but that actually don’t:
The problem is that the phrase “class war” is being used to mean very different things. The article I link to today shows that poor other working class people overwhelmingly support continuing shelter in place/stay home orders. While only a slightly smaller percentage of middle class people also support it. Opposition to quarantines comes not just from a very small minority, but almost entirely from the very well-to-do and the stinking rich.
Folks like the executives and highest-paid pundits at Fox News, for instance, while they all continue to work from home, are egging governors to “reopen” the economy, by which they mean, stop the unemployment payments and force people who aren’t well off enough to quarantine voluntarily to go out and work and expose themselves and their families to the pandemic.
The polls in the above article clearly indicate that it is the rich who want to reap the benefits of social distancing, while making the working poor shoulder most of the risk of the pandemic.
Friday’s headline, which claimed that was no evidence of a class war was using the class war phrase much differently. And, IMHO, poorly. They were using it not to refer to actual economic strata within society, but instead to refer to a mostly mythical division. Fox News and their ilk have been trying to portray the protestors as representing the working class, while saying the only people who want the quarantine orders to continue are leftwing elites. The article then quoted virtually identical findings as the one above: the overwhelming majority of the country favor the quarantine measures, and the lower income the people are, the more likely they are to support it.
By adopting the disingenuous definitions of class, they wind up writing a headline that says the opposite of what the article showed.
Because the so-called “left elite” isn’t an economic class. It mostly is a myth, because inherent in the way the phrase is usually used is the notion that no one in the working class support any liberal policies, at all.
Isn’t language fun?
Before we get into all of that, I just want to share that this morning after my usual coughing and sneezing (we’re in peak hay fever season, here) I was pleasantly surprised to learn that my husband had already started the ribs cooking for tonight’s dinner. He makes his own rub for pork ribs and slow cooks them. So when my sinuses temporarily clear, I was flooded with the most amazing scents! My husband is awesome!
All right, let’s jump in to the other stuff:
We saw this coming. Covidiot New York Barber Cutting Hair ‘illicitly’ During Lockdown Tests Positive For COVID . Now, I want to make it clear, I don’t think this is ‘just desserts’, and I’m not cheering the fact that this guy has gotten this disease which is far, far worse than the flu. (See the story I linked to yesterday of the body builder who spent 6 weeks on a ventilator if you don’t understand). There are multiple tragedies here: 1) the guy is an idiot, yes, but his idiocy has been caused, enabled, and cheered on by a bunch of people in the rightwing media and politics who are themselves taking the very precautions they are urging others to protest, 2) if he tested positive, that means a number of his customers during this time who came in for the illicit haircuts got infected while there.
And the idiot minority (egged on by slightly less idiotic people whose wealth and privilege allow them to avoid some of the danger) are making decisions based in part on not comprehending the slow incubation period. And that outcomes are still difficult to predict. COVID-19: Daily growth rate slowing in Nebraska, but deaths per day rising. And of course, Editorial: Wisconsin politicians, court failed to protect public good.
And those supposedly slowing growth rates, well, they’re mostly meaningless because we aren’t testing enough to know how much of the population in any area actually has it: Most US states fall short of recommended testing levels – Coronavirus outbreaks are testing public health networks and the resolve of planners to reopen from pandemic shutdowns.And I repeat, that this is not like the flu! It’s not just lungs: Covid-19 may damage the heart, brain, and kidneys. Damage your body likely never will recover from completely. And again, it isn’t just old people or people with pre-existing conditions (as if letting those people die isn’t super immoral on its own). COVID-19 inducing strokes in young people. COVID-19 can cause some young children to have a fatal inflammatory syndrome. And everyone who has it suffers at least some of the long-term permanent organ damage.
Meanwhile, some people aren’t just being idiots, they are being evil: Landlords Sexually Harassing Tenants And Renters Aid Coronavirus Pandemic – “He knows I don’t have a job. He knows I don’t have anywhere to go — he’s preying on me.”.
Okay, I think it’s time to change topics before I start foaming at the mouth.
Remember our old pal, the lying, hypocrital hate-monger, Jerry Falwell, Jr? Well, he’s been in the news a bit this week!
Jerry Falwell Jr’s Liberty University guts entire Philosophy department. Which is especially strange given how much of the University’s web page and other marketing materials hype that very department and the PhD program it offered. Of course, Liberty University’s purpose has never been education. When Falwell Senior was still alive, it’s goals were propaganda, brainwashing, and making a shit-ton of money for the Falwell family. Since Junior took over, the milking students and donors for as much money as he can divert into his real estate investments and to pay off sex partners has become the premiere goal, eclipsing all others (as we’ve linked to many, many times).
It’s the reason he insisted on re-opening the university while state and local officials were begging him not to. It’s the reason he has refused to refund tuition for students stuck elsewhere under quarantine orders, or afraid to come back due to health concerns, or who have actually gotten sick and so forth.
The philosophy department is being cut because even with that refusal to grant refunds (or perhaps because), enrollment is dropping off.
You may recall the last time I linked to a story about Falwell it was about his saying that two reporters were being prosecuted for trespassing after they reported about the students afraid to come back and so forth? Well… Falwell Loses Bid To Prosecute “Trespassing” Journalists – Two journalists accused of trespassing at LU won’t be prosecuted. The linked story skips some of the details. The warrants were issued by a campus security copy. It just so happens that (because back in the day the university was so economically important to the local area and Virginia tends to have very conservative public officials), that the county has treated the campus security force as if it was a city police department.
However, when they issue warrants, those warrants are supposed to be approved by a magistrate and the prosecutor’s office. When Falwell touted these warrants initially, he lied (and his lie was widely quotes as fact in many news stories) that the warrants had been issued by a magistrate. They had been submitted but not yet reviewed. The review has finally happened.
Turns out that standing on public sidewalks and taking pictures and talking to other people on public sidewalks and then leaving when asked to doesn’t constitute trespassing. Who’d’ve thunk?
Let’s move to a topic much less dire for a moment:
Local Sleuths Track Down Source of Mysterious Radio Songs. This story was written by someone whose work I am a fan of, and is published in one of my favorite news sources, but I have quite a quibble with the headline. Unless the word “sleuths” is being used sarcastically. The story is interesting, and it is cool that some people tried to turn it into some sort of secret message. But actual sleuths would know that the FCC has a publicly available web site where you can plug in a radio frequency and your location and find out who holds the license for the station in question and the physical location of its transmitter(s).
Still, the answer to the mysterious twenty-song playlist that kept repeating unchanged for who knows how long is amusing.
I usually try to end these with a funny video, but…
The following is a different take on a particular moment that happened this week and was covered in at least one video linked in yesterday’s Friday Five. Rachel raises an issue that lots and lots and lots of us have been thinking, but few in the media have been saying aloud:”
Something Appears To Be Wrong With Donald Trump | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC:
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Hannity scolds armed Michigan protesters: ‘Dangerous’ show of force ‘puts our police at risk’. When Trump’s number 1 cheerleader agrees with the rest of us…
Majority of Americans Don’t Support Reopening, Poll Finds — as Coronavirus Continues to Spread. “…78 percent said they would not feel comfortable eating out at a restaurant…” among other things.
Guest Opinion: Let the new normal be a better normal – The coronavirus pandemic has lifted the veil covering the pervasive injustices that corporate greed and exploitation have wreaked upon our nation and the world at large.
So here we are (at least on this side of the International Date Line) at the fourth day of the month of May, where one of the things that tends to happen on the internet are various references to Star Wars, because of the pun, “May the Fourth Be With You.” So, happy Star Wars Day to those of you who observe it.
The fourth of May has other significance for other people. And we would be remiss not to acknowledge these important events that ought to be commemorated on this day. So:
- On May 4, 1436 Engelbrekt Engelbrektsson was assassinated. Englebrektsson was a Swedish nobleman who led a rebellion against the King of the Kalmar Union, an event which eventually led to Sweden becoming a kingdom of its own. Englebrektsson is considered a national hero of Sweden because his actions gave peasants a voice in government for the first time, creating a Riksdag (a deliberative assembly or parliament) structured so that peasants and laborers would have equal representation with the number of nobles.
- On May 4, 1886, in the midst of a long-running strike, police marched on demonstrators in Hay Market Square in Chicago, Illinois. Someone threw a bomb. The police began shooting randomly. And I really mean randomly, because autopsies determined afterward that almost all seven of the policeman killed in the riot were the victims of a bullet from another officer. Four of the labor demonstrators also died from gunshot wounds, and more than a hundred other people were wounded by either gunfire or shrapnel from the bomb. While May Day parades and demonstrations by labor had been occurring for a few years before this occurred, this event is often credited as solidifying the significance of May Day as a Worker’s Rights commemoration.
- On May 4, 1930, the leader of India’s civil disobedience campaign, Mahatma Gandhi, was taken into custody by the British police for the crime of making salt from seawater. His arrest sparked an upsurge in civil disobedience, generating world wide publicity and incredible pressure on the British to come to terms with the protestors.
- On May 4, 1970, during a protest at Kent State University against the bombing of neutral Cambodia by U.S. military forces, the Ohio National Guard fired on unarmed students, killing four and wounding nine others. In response to this, students at other universities went on strike, shutting down many campuses. The event also was significant in turning more public opinion against the war in Viet Nam.
- On May 4, 1983 the British warship, HMS Sheffield, was struck by missiles during the Falklands War. The excess rocket fuel in each missile ignited, killing 20 members of the crew. The ship’s diesel stores burned for days after the crew had been evacuated. The ship sank while it was being towed in for repairs.
Important historical events, all.
But while two of those occurred within my lifetime, one must remember that I am a white-bearded old man. The median age of the human race is currently 29 years old. Which means that half of the people currently alive on the planet were born in 1991 or more recently.
Which means that none of those events can be considered “current.”
Which isn’t to say that they shouldn’t be remembered, but there isn’t really a good reason that any of those events should be considered more important in history than the others.
Which also means that there is nothing wrong with people sharing a silly pun on this same day.
Regardless, we’re in the middle of a world pandemic. The more people you get wearing masks (and feeling socially shunned for not wearing masks), the more we reduce the spread of the disease. That’s just science. It’s also the moral thing to do.
So, wear a mask. Wash your hands. Keep observing social distancing. Let’s all do our part to keep as many of us alive until there’s a vaccine as we can. Okay?
Why I hate hay fever reason #6529 (plus reason 3786 & 3113 & 2488 & 2149 & 1364, and don’t forget #47)
So for the last few days I had some weird symptoms, and yesterday they intensified and my temperature kept running above 98. And, as I said, I just felt bad overall. Very early after waking up I got some very stressful (and irritating) news at work, and the work day just kept getting more and more stressful. Wednesday is what I usually call my meeting hell day, anyway, with three half-hour meetings and two one-hour meetings every Wednesday (frequently running over), plus another one hour meeting on alternate Wednesday. Yesterday had the biweekly meeting plus an urgent extra meeting. And it was a day I was supposed to release a documentation set. Which means I’m trying to keep working during every meeting.
All of which contributed to the stress. And since the stress started so early in the day, there was no way to know how much of my feeling rotten was because of yet another day of moderate-high pollen count kicking my allergies up, how much because I had caught some kind of bug, and how much was because of the stress.
I got through the day. I hit my deadline. Some compromises were agreed to for some of the infuriating issues. And I was exhausted and still feeling rotten. I had planned to attend the Virtual Silent Reading Party again. What I actually did, after the takeout my husband picked up for us for dinner, was log into the party, then curl up with pillows and a blanket where I could hear the piano music…. and slept for a bit over four hours.
When I woke up, my temperature was back down to 97.3. I didn’t feel good, but I felt a whole lot less awful. I was awake for a while and tried to finish the blog post, but I just couldn’t string words together. This morning when I woke up, many of the symptoms had subsided. My temperature was 96.1. I felt much, much better.
The pollen count today is much lower today than yesterday.
The game that I usually wind up playing for the ten-ish months out of most years that pollen, spore, and/or mold counts are high enough to trigger my hay fever is “Cold or Allergies?” The first few days of even a severe cold are impossible to distinguish from a bad hay fever day. Because on a bad hay fever day I won’t just have sinus congestion and itchy eyes. I can have a cough. I can have gastrointestinal symptoms.
This year the game is “Cold, COVID, or Allergies?” And it’s just about every single day since early February. And it’s exhausting.
I still don’t know what was going on yesterday. Did I catch a bug when I went out to pick up a prescription a few days before? A minor virus that only took my body a couple of days to defeat? Was that plus the hay fever and the stress the whole explanation? Did I catch something worse than a minor virus, one that made me feel sick for a few days and now the symptoms are subsiding not because I’ve completely over come it. So am I contagious with whatever it is?
I don’t know. Fortunately since I’m already working from home, washing my hands a bazillion times a day, wearing a mask whenever I go out, and so forth, I’m not likely to infect anyone if I do have something, whatever it is…
Scarborough Calls Out Pence Statement On Tests As ‘Blithering Idiocy’. “Vice President Pence is learning from Donald Trump that when you’re caught dead on something, point back at the reporter and blame the media for misunderstanding it,” the Morning Joe host said.
I don’t know about you, but I really needed the chuckle this evoked: Reporter Almost Got Away With Skipping Pants On Good Morning America.
I had planned to write something else today, but then I saw this post on tumblr:
“You’ll notice that LGBT pride parades are being cancelled, and LGBT people are not complaining and calling it an injustice. Meanwhile, Christians are calling it an injustice that churches are being closed, and conservatives are calling it an injustice that stay at home orders exist. That’s because LGBT people actually experience injustices, so they know when an injustice is happening. They face way too many injustices to label everything they don’t like as an injustice. And they’re not defying social distancing orders to have the parade anyway.”
“We also know the consequences of an unaddressed pandemic.”
A couple of other things worth noting. The U.S. stock market started going down in response to pandemic concerns the week of February 20, many weeks before the first stay-at-home order. The Dow Jones officially crashed (prices dropping so fast it triggered an automatic suspension of trading) on March 9th. There were no stay-at-home orders in place anywhere in the U.S. at that time. Companies were already laying people off and cutting back hours in anticipation not so much of stay-at-home orders but the fact that simply having lots of people sick, lots of other people afraid of being sick, and so forth was already causing people to cancel travel plans and so forth.
My employer, for instance, in early February cancelled most schedule employee travel (for sales, installation, and trade shower appearances, for instance) out of an abundance of caution.
Personally, in mid February I woke up with a fairly severe cough on a day that wasn’t scheduled to be a work-from-home day, and decided since I didn’t know if I had a something that I shouldn’t go into the office. The following week, again out of an abundance of caution, upper management encouraged everyone who could work from home to do so full time. Again, this was weeks before stay-at-home orders had been issued in any of the states where my employer has offices.
And when people are working from home, a lot of small restaurants, coffee shops, and the like in the vicinity of office buildings have a sudden significant drop off in business. So employees at those businesses get their hours cut. And so they have less money to spend on anything, and that means they cut out (first) non-essential spending, which causes more small businesses to cut hours, and it becomes a self-perpetuating downward economic spiral for everyone.
Lifting stay-at-home orders isn’t going to make everything spring back. It’s going to put a lot of people in the position of deciding to risk getting infected or starve, because if the order has been lifted not working is no longer involuntary and therefore they can’t collect unemployment. The science of the virus tells us that when people stop doing the mandated social distancing, infection rates will start rising again within a couple of weeks. And they will spike if we don’t have adequate means of testing people and a system for tracking down other people who have recently come in contact when an infected person, and so on.
Which means people will get scared and will cut back on activities that put them in contact with others and we continue to have places like restaurants, bars, theaters, and so forth not making enough money to pay their employees, et cetera.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you want to read a much better (and scary) analysis, check out this article: We Cannot “Reopen” America – No matter when government stay-at-home orders are revoked, the American economy will not reopen. Because the source of the economic shock is not government orders. It’s the pandemic.
Note: My cough went away after about two weeks and I never had a fever… but the cough has come back several times. So far, still no fever. I have long suffered from severe hay fever and sometimes when the pollen count has been high for many days in a row, in addition to sinus congestion and typical allergy symptoms, I also get a cough. And we’ve had a lot of really high pollen days during the last two and a half months, so that’s probably what it is. Probably.
But we’ve had a bit of a scare because yesterday my husband was running a fever and had some non-repiratory symptoms that sometimes occur with the coronavirus… today his fever is gone and the other symptoms are subsiding, but that’s not necessarily proof that he’s well.
Once again, here’s some news that either broke after I assembled this week’s Friday Five, or is a new development in a story I’ve linked to or commented on previously. Plus more commentary than goes in my Friday Five posts.
Let’s start with a frequent guest in these updates: a disgraced, former Congressman who used to be a self-loathing closet case, and now has become a self-owning gay party boy: Aaron Schock is partying with a group of gay men in Mexico for his “self-isolation” – The “Instagays,” one journalist noted, “have a very different definition of ‘social distancing’ than the rest of us!” Gathering a whole bunch of your pretty boy friends and acquaintances from the get-high-and-dance-and-have-sex-with-random-people circuit in order to get high and dance and have sex with each other at a resort is not isolating, and it is exactly the opposite of a quarantine… and posting dozens of pictures of you doing that just seems stupid.But hey, there are a lot of other ways to be stupid during an epidemic of a deadly disease! You can gather a bunch of strangers from your community into a public place, and shout your nonsensical statements at each other: Michigan manbaby protest: Wait, we thought conservatives were “rugged individuals” – Who’d a thunk it? Right-wingers are a bunch of spoiled brats who start whining over the slightest inconvenience and Hundreds gather in California to protest stay-at-home orders. Yeah, shout and scream, wave your confederate flags and swastikas (I’m not kidding) and signs around. Spread those microscopic droplets of saliva all over the place! That’s how to protect yourself from the tyranny of a quarantine order, all right!
Or you can gather a whole bunch of people in a crowded space indoors and sing hymns! That’s another great way to protect yourself, your family, and your community from a deadly illness! Authoritarian Christians are deliberately undermining the public health response to coronavirus.
Or maybe not? Member of defiant Central church dies from coronavirus illness. Oops! No one saw that one coming, I guess. Virginia pastor who defiantly held church service dies of coronavirus. Or this one, either. I heard a clip on one of the news podcasts I listen to, where a woman who was leaving one of these church services kept repeating that she couldn’t get sick, because she was covered in the blood of Jesus, just like everyone else in the congregation. When the reporter asked her about people she might encounter afterward who weren’t church members, she replied that if they were covered in the blood of Jesus like she was, they had nothing to worry about.
I can’t find any passage in the Bible where Jesus claims his followers are immune to communicable diseases. It just isn’t there.
And while we’re on the topic of misinformed people trying to spread misinformation, Watch Dr. Tony Fauci debunk Laura Ingraham’s comparison of HIV treatment to treating coronavirus – Dr. Fauci: “Laura, this is different. HIV/AIDS is entirely different”. I have pointed out some similarities in that way that some people are reacting to this epidemic and how they reacted to (and still are) the AIDS epidemic. But that was about attitudes of people toward the victims. Not about how the two diseases spread. AIDS is not infectious through casual contact. HIV take years, many years, to become a threat to the person’s life. And eventually, we developed treatments that let people go even longer without getting sick, and it turns out that those some treatments make the person no longer capable of infecting others (as long as they stay on the meds). A vaccine would still be preferable to the regime of taking a cocktail of anti-viral drugs for decades.
This disease is communicable through casual contact. Because this virus is new to humans, there aren’t large fractions of the population carrying anti-bodies to older strains of the bug like there is for flu. There is no vaccine like there is for some strains of flu. And there is no effective treatment. None: Malaria Drug Study Halted Over Heart Arrhythmias.
And for a wide variety of reasons, some segments of the population is at higher risk for dying from this than others. And it isn’t just old people: The pathology of American racism is making the pathology of the coronavirus worse – Covid-19 is disproportionately killing black people because the whole system is worse for us. and Covid-19 is ravaging black communities. A Milwaukee neighborhood is figuring out how to fight back. Systemic racism means that some communities of color have a higher rate of some underlying conditions. Systemic racism also means they are less likely to seek medical help (either because they fear financially ruining their family, or past experience tells them that medical professionals don’t take their symptoms seriously, or both).
Let’s move on…
Oh, look! Paycheck Protection Program out of money: Thousands of small businesses shut out. We sure burned through that fast… if only there were the Inspector Generals available to monitor the funds, we could find out what really happened to the money. Guess we’ll never know…
And let’s close with this reminder of what our narcissistic president sees as being the important part of a disaster that has killed tens of thousands of his citizens and put more than twenty million out of work: