Three Things: It’s Our Lucky Day

Though friends and family in Texas are still desperately miserable, we had an unusually lucky day.

~ 3 ~

Don’t know about you folks but my sleep cycle has been extremely erratic during this pandemic. I’m up at 3:00 a.m. for a few hours, finally fall back to sleep, and wake again at no set hour.

Today I woke a few minutes before nine a.m. ET, launching Twitter immediately as one does while still trying to shake off the Trump era habit of checking for the apocalypse on rising.

Lo and behold, the first tweet in my timeline was the live stream of the impending implosion of Trump’s shuttered Atlantic City hotel.

I huddled under my blankets in rapt attention for several minutes waiting for explosives’ detonation and BOOM-boom-boom-boom-boom, there it was and I blinked and the hideous structure was gone when I opened my eyes.

Dust slowly rose into the air and sailed out over the ocean like fine confetti.

It was glorious — a sign like smoke over the Vatican, a portent of better things to come.

~ 2 ~

And there it was, the dusty oracle delivered.

One of the meanest, nastiest, most useless sacks of flesh assumed room temperature today.

Right-wing talk radio blabbermouth Rush Limbaugh succumbed from complications due to lung cancer.

Don’t tell me I’m being unusually harsh; I’m using the contemptible toad’s own words. When homeless rights activist Mitch Snyder died, Limbaugh said Snyder assumed room temperature.

Nor should you imagine for one goddamned moment I will now demonstrate an iota of respect for that dead wretch because respect is earned. The racist, misogynist ignoramus who played a key role in the progress of the GOP away from a pro-democracy political party earned no respect from me.

This obituary at Huffington Post says it best, though there’s plenty it left out even though it’s unsparing. Michael Tomasky at Democracy Journal faults Bork and Scalia for Limbaugh’s poisonous rise across our publicly-owned airwaves (there’s a lesson in this).

Adios, motherfucker. Give my regards to Hades.

~ 1 ~

Good news from White House COVID-19 Response Team today


Doubling the weekly average is great, considering the response team had NOTHING, ZIP, NADA in the way of a federal plan for rolling out the vaccine as of Inauguration Day. The Trump Administration’s plan appeared to consist of dumping vaccine on the states in quantities which may have been rationalized by politics, and telling the states to just do it, just distribute it — if they listened to VP Pence’s team.

If they listened to Secretary Azar — like Florida’s Gov. DeSantis surely did, with emphasis added by grocery store chain Publix’s heiress’s donation — then commercial pharmacies were going to run the show.

What a fucking shit show.

With luck in spite of the lingering Trumpy mess, some of you have had your first and possibly second vaccination if you’re in health care or older than 65 (age threshold depends on states’ criteria and how closely they followed the CDC’s guidance, I think, correct me if I’m wrong). Good. I won’t receive mine for another eight weeks, I estimate, based on my state’s current roll out schedule.

With the announcement that enough doses have been ordered for delivery in late July, the rest of the country may expect to be vaccinated by late summer. Depending on how the last push for vaccinations is organized and pulled off, school this fall is likely to be on campus and in classrooms once again.

That is very good news.

~ 0 ~

If you feel inclined to assist Texans who are suffering from the worst of the intersection between their elected GOP officials and capitalist profiteering, the Texas Tribune reported where help is accepted (bottom of article):

Here’s how to help:

Dallas: Dallas Homeless Alliance President and CEO Carl Falconer said donations can be made to Our Calling, who is managing the city’s shelter at the convention center.
Austin: Chris Davis, communications manager for Austin’s Ending Community Homelessness Coalition, or ECHO, said people can find a list of ways to help here. These donations range from sleeping bags to monetary donations for hygiene and snack kits.
San Antonio: South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless Executive Director Katie Vela said their biggest area of need is volunteers to work the overnight shifts, especially those living in the downtown area who might be able to walk to the shelters. Vela also said the shelters are also in need of hot meals beginning Tuesday. People can find the list of shelters here.
Houston: Catherine B. Villarreal, the director of communications for the Coalition for the Homeless, said people can donate to any of the organizations in The Way Home listed here.

I hope Texans are thinking ahead to the thaw when all that snow and ice will turn into flood water, which may be as soon as Friday.

Who Did More This Year to Help their (or anyone else’s) Country?

What do you do when confronted by a humanitarian crisis? José Andrés did it the only way he knew how: by feeding people, one hot meal at a time. Buy the book here.

While Marcy’s earlier post comparing and contrasting the destructiveness of the current administrations in the US and UK is important, it is far too depressing a way to end 2020. Don’t get me wrong: we absolutely need to be aware of the specific problems induced by, exacerbated by, and enabled by Trump and Johnson, but as critical as that examination of the mess is, we need one thing more.

While Donald and the Grifters were doing their worst this year in DC/Mar-a-Lago, and Boris and the Bunglers were doing the same in the UK, there were others doing other things that were absolutely spectacular. They were spectacular on their own, but in contrast to the elected national leaders, they were even more amazing.

Over in the UK, while Boris was fiddling over Westminster and worrying about deficits, a young footballer (US: soccer player) named Marcus Rashford decided he’d had enough. Marcus grew up in public housing, and was quite familiar with being short of food growing up. One reason his mom fought to get him into a football academy/boarding school at age 11 was because he was good at the game, and another was that it meant he’d get fed decently and allow her income to feed the rest of the family.

Rashford has never forgotten what a difference a decent meal means to a young child, and his efforts to address childhood hunger have grown as he has moved from being a teenage football phenom into one of the stars of the Premier League. A year ago, he led a big local effort in his hometown of Manchester to provide food to the hungry over the holidays; this past year he has been leading the effort to do the same with kids all over the UK — and doing so in the teeth of policies put forward by Boris Johnson and the Tories. In a powerful open letter to the members of Parliament last June, Rashford wrote:

This is not about politics; this is about humanity. Looking at ourselves in the mirror and feeling like we did everything we could to protect those who can’t, for whatever reason or circumstance, protect themselves. Political affiliations aside, can we not all agree that no child should be going to bed hungry?

The next day, after a couple of abortive attempts to defend themselves in the face of huge public support for Rashford’s letter, Boris Johnson and the Tories announced a U-turn and set up a program to feed hungry kids over the summer.

But Poor Boris just couldn’t learn. In October, as COVID-19 continued to ravage the UK, Rashford and others asked Parliament to set up a meal program that would feed poor kids over the Christmas holiday break when there would be no “free lunch” meals at school. Rashford pushed, but the Tories in parliament held firm (or firm enough) to reject a motion to pay for these meals, and so Rashford pushed some more. Two weeks and much outrage later, Boris caved again.

What is so powerful about Rashford personally is that it’s not just about food with him — it’s that he sees real people struggling with real problems, and he works indefatigably to address both the problem and the person. For instance . . .

In February 2020, Rashford received a letter from a young fan, who invited him to be a judge at his school for a poetry competition.

“Dear Marcus Rashford, please will you be our judge for our World Book Day poetry competition?” read the letter.

“The deaf children in Manchester will write poems. Please can you pick your winners! And give our prizes if you can? Please let us know if you can before Feb 7th.”

After agreeing to judge the competition, Rashford then started learning sign language in preparation for the meeting the kids.

The England international has vowed to hand out the awards in person when the current lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Thank God, Marcus Rashford is not alone.

Based out of the US, world-renowned chef José Andrés has been doing the same kind of work. It began when Andrés saw the absolutely inept response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. He gathered a bunch of cooks, called on his network of suppliers, and set up a huge field kitchen operation to feed both those responding to the emergency but also the ordinary folks who live there. His work to organize a response meant jobs for local restaurant folks who provided the bulk of the workforce alongside his emergency crew members, and this became a juggernaut in the disaster relief world: World Central Kitchen. Since then, WCK has gone into Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, Florida and the Gulf Coast after US hurricanes, and all kinds of other locations suffering from disasters, man-made and otherwise.

And then came COVID-19.

As pandemic-related lockdowns ravaged the food industry, Andrés devoted himself even more strongly to turning the devastated restaurant industry into a powerful force for feeding the growing numbers of folks in need of food. “It is WCK’s intention that by working directly with restaurants and providing demand for the restaurant business, we can get meals to those who need them most while also uplifting an industry that needs all of our help to keep their doors open.” Andrés sums up the mission of WCK quite simply: “Wherever there’s a fight so hungry people may eat, we will be there.”

And they are.

The key to the work of both Rashford and Andrés is that they see themselves as partners with those in need, not as saviors who swoop in and do their thing, take a bow, and then leave. This mindset of partnership stands in stark contrast to Trump and Johnson, and the way in which the broader, non-political community has gotten behind folks like Rashford and Andrés is a challenge to politicians, as Johnson’s Tories learned not once but twice.

This afternoon, Rashford tweeted this out (paragraph breaks added for readability, but punctuation from the original):

I’ve got a game tomorrow so I need to sign off here but before I go I wanted to reflect on what has been the most challenging year. I’ve been so proud to see people coming together to help those in need and that same compassion needs to continue into 2021 because it’s people like you that make this country great and there is still so much more work to do. We have shown the difference we can make when we unite.

Don’t look back on this year thinking you haven’t achieved anything, you achieved everything. You survived 2020. Your strength was tested and you made it. Give yourself a pat on the back. I’m hoping in 2021 I get to celebrate in the crowd with you again, I really just miss that, I can’t believe none of you got to be with me for the Leipzig hat trick but hoping there will be many more.

Everything I have achieved this year has been our achievement I couldn’t have done it without your support. Let’s aim and hope for an equal playing field for all in 2021. Love to you all. Be safe and a happy new year. MR x

[That Leipzig hat trick was amazing – he came off the bench in the second half and scored 3 goals in just 18 minutes. But I digress.]

Back in late 1970s, in the face of anti-gay activists like Anita Bryant and the politicians like John Briggs who sought their votes, Harvey Milk brought his own community-based political approach to the streets of San Francisco. While he was withering in his critique of those who put the big money powers first, of those who lived to oppress others, and those who preached a “go slow” approach to seeking change, he knew that was not enough. When speaking to his supporters about reaching out to others, he told them that beyond criticism, one more thing is needed: “You gotta give ’em hope.”

That’s what Marcus Rashford does. That’s what José Andrés does. That’s what countless of less famous others do on a smaller, more local level. As I said at the top, Marcy’s earlier post was necessary, but going forward we need signs of hope.

But Rashford is right: there is still so much more work to do. As we come to the end of 2020 and the start of 2021, as we mourn the efforts of Trump and Johnson to push their countries into hopelessness, who gave hope to you and your corner of the world?

Missing the National Security Crises for the Trump Temper Tantrums

Even after Republicans and Vladimir Putin have conceded that Donald Trump will no longer be President in 35 days, key parts of the press corps seem unable to look beyond Trump’s temper tantrums to the state of the country.

NBC,  for example, has a 17-paragraph story about Pat Cipollone’s efforts to persuade Trump not to fire Chris Wray and maybe Chad Wolf and maybe Gina Haspel and who knows maybe some more national security figures Trump is pissy about because they haven’t catered to his personal demands. The story doesn’t once mention that these same national security officials — especially Wray and Wolf — are neck deep in a crisis attempting to assess and respond to the SolarWinds compromise of multiple US agencies.

While Trump’s frustrations with Attorney General Bill Barr boiled over in recent days, and Barr resigned on Monday, the president’s advisers hope he’s been persuaded against ousting Wray. Multiple current and former senior administration officials said firing Wray does not appear imminent, but they also point out that the president could make such a decision on a whim at any time. Indeed officials said they are prepared for Trump to go on a firing spree before leaving office next month.

“I wouldn’t take anything off the table in coming weeks,” the senior administration official said of personnel changes, as well as presidential pardons. The official said to expect “some more fairly significant terminations in the national security or intelligence community.”

That this story could even be reported with an unrelenting focus on Trump’s revenge fantasies and not, instead, an extended discussion of the way these revenge fantasies have distracted the entire Administration from urgent crises which Trump’s past revenge fantasies have invited and made worse is an alarming failure of basic framing.

Similarly, in the middle of a 19-paragraph AP story on the transition at DOJ from Bill Barr to Jeffrey Rosen, it summarizes the main point of the story: the biggest issue before DOJ as it prepares for pardonpalooza, continues to cope with running prisons and fraud investigations during a pandemic, sues some of the world’s biggest tech companies, and deals with Mexico’s withdrawal from virtually all drug enforcement cooperation is whether or not the Attorney General, some Attorney General, any Attorney General appoints a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden.

As Barr exits, the biggest thing by far hanging over the Trump Justice Department is its investigation into Hunter Biden, which involves multiple U.S. attorney offices and FBI field offices.

The AP is so deep inside Trump’s manic delusions that it states, as fact, that appointing a special counsel would by itself make for a more complicated investigation, as if someone could just chase Rudy Giuliani conspiracies for four years without Biden’s Attorney General making a solid case the person should be fired.

Appointing a special counsel for the Hunter Biden probe would also signal a more prolonged and complicated investigation than the current inquiry, so far largely centered on his taxes.

DOJ has already spent something like 4 US Attorney years investigating Hunter Biden and has yet to charge him with a single crime; while it remains to be seen whether the tax charges are real, at some point an investigation will butt up against the reality that even the politicized Scott Brady one did: most of the allegations against Hunter Biden are the product of very frothy conspiracy theorizing and aggressive disinformation that straight reporters are not obliged to adopt.

It is useful — important even — to report on the Trump’s temper tantrums. But his tantrums, at this point, are most important for the way they’ve paralyzed and corrupted the entire government during a time it faces multiple urgent crises. Don’t let sources dodge how indulging the President’s childish whims means they, too, are failing to do their real job serving the country.

The country is burning. It is burning, in significant part, because the President has always prioritized his own personal vendettas over the good of the country.

If you need to report on how Trump has put his own revenge fantasies over all else during his Lame Duck, do so as a first step towards holding him accountable for the wreckage that has resulted, not to indulge those fantasies as if the rest of us should care about them anymore.

It Didn’t Go Away: COVID, COVID, COVID

Remember Trump’s gaslighting the American public, telling them COVID would simply go away after the election because it was just a hoax?

Right.

It’s still here. By Thanksgiving COVID will have taken more than a quarter million American lives if it continues to kill at a rate of 1,000 more per day.

This is the real hoax, playing out in front of use: Donald Trump is not a leader but a killer who has persistently tried to persuade us we’re imagining these deaths as anything more than a campaign ploy.

The campaign’s over and the cases and deaths are still mounting.

Fortunately we have a president-elect who is taking the pandemic seriously. Biden-Harris transition team has already issued a plan for combating COVID: BuildBackBetter.com/Priorities/COVID-19

While the plan is more of an executive summary at this point, work is already beginning on details:

Doctors Rick Bright, Atul Gawande, Luciana Borio, and Michael Osterholm are expected to be named advisers for Biden’s COVID-19 team.

This is what leadership and competency looks like when American lives are on the line. If nothing is done between now and Inauguration Day, at least another 73,000 Americans will die from COVID. It looks like Biden-Harris are taking this seriously and not treating it like a hoax.

There’s one big wrinkle, though, not of Biden-Harris’s making.

A single person at the General Services Administration is holding up the formal transition process — a Trump appointee who has previously refused to answer the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s questions regarding Trump’s D.C. hotel which operates out of the old U.S. Post Office building.

States are going to suffer for the foot dragging by this lone obstructionist, GSA administrator Emily Murphy, protecting Trump. Red states will be hurt in particular since they are suffering the greatest proportional numbers of COVID cases, in part due to Trump’s campaign rallies. These ten states currently lead in number of cases per million residents:

North Dakota — 79408 cases per million
South Dakota — 67231
Iowa — 49899
Wisconsin — 49356
Utah — 47075
Idaho — 46191
Nebraska — 44716
Florida — 44281
Tennessee — 42816
Mississippi — 42534

When weighed against each states’ population, some of these numbers are obscene. South Dakota’s Gov. Kristi Noem’s weak-sauce advocacy for personal responsibility in lieu of a mask mandate in the face of the Sturgis Motor Cycle Rally during August demonstrated she isn’t capable of leading and protecting her state.

Utah announced Sunday night it’s implementing new restrictions including mandatory masks Monday:

Whether Utahns comply may depend on whether they believe what they are being told by both the state and federal government. At least Gov. Herbert sees ‘masks optional’ or personal responsibility doesn’t work.

For their sakes and their lives, let’s hope Utahns don’t wait for GSA’s Emily Murphy to do her goddamned job. Right now she’s endangering American lives.

Who Will Be Forced to Walk the Plank on November 4th?

Who will Trump force to walk the plank after the election?
(h/t Stacey Harvey for the image, [CC Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) ]

Win or lose, Donald Trump will be looking for vengeance once the election is over. Either he will lose, and want to punish those he deems responsible, or he will win and want to punish the folks he’s had to put up with despite their failures to do what he wanted. One way or another, Trump will want to make certain people pay and pay dearly after the voting is over.

It might be to get rid of people who have angered him by not being sufficiently publicly loyal and submissive.

It might be to get rid of people who angered him by not being sufficiently good at making Trump look good before the election.

It might be to get rid of people who angered him by making him look bad, indecisive, or (gasp!) wrong.

It might be to get rid of people who stood up to him in private and made him back down on something, even if that backing down was only done in private.

It might be to get rid of people who stood up to him in public, and he had to simply take it at the time because Trump would have paid a price if he got rid of them when it happened.

Put me down for Trump demanding that the following people be forced to walk the plank:

  • Doctors Tony Fauci at NAIAD, Stephen Hahn at FDA, and Robert Redfield at CDC, along with HHS Secretary Alex Azar for not keeping these disloyal doctors in line;
  • Bill Barr for failing to deliver any indictments and convictions of any Bidens or Clintons, John Durham for dragging his feet on his reports that would have made that happen, Christopher Wray for being the FBI director and generally annoying, whoever approved letting Andrew Weissmann reveal that Manafort was breaking the gag order in his case by communicating with Sean Hannity, and a host of other US Attorneys who didn’t behave according to Trump’s rules;
  • General Mark Milley for publicly apologizing for taking part in the infamous Bible-waving photo op created by driving protesters out of Lafayette Park with chemical agents, various generals and admirals who refused to back Trump’s call to deploy US troops to American cities he didn’t like, and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper for not keeping these military folks in line;
  • Dr. Sean Conley, for not being more deceptive with the press around Trump’s COVID-19 status;
  • Mark Meadows for undermining Conley’s initial “he’s doing great” press remarks, as well as for more generally not keeping the WH functioning smoothly (as if that were possible, given his boss);
  • Mike Pompeo for failing to get Ukraine to do Trump’s bidding, as well as for not keeping folks like Fiona Hill in line.

But I must admit this is an incomplete list. Who else do you think might be on Trump’s Naughty List? Add your own thoughts in the comments.

Note: I also left off the list a bunch of folks like Mitch McConnell, Andrew Cuomo, Savannah Guthrie, and Cy Vance that Trump would demand walk the plank, but who remain outside his ability to make that happen. I also didn’t include Ivanka, Jared, Don Jr, or Eric, as he can’t fire his family. Though of course, he could disinherit them . . . for whatever that’s worth.

Election Day Countdown: 3 Days, 3 Things

*cough-cough*

More on that later. It’s very late on Day 3, need to get through these pronto.

~ 3 ~

The tangerine hellbeast will have a total of four rallies in Michigan between Saturday morning and Election Day. I wish I had sufficient lack of self-preservation to go to one of these events and shout at him, “Get out of my state, you diseased cretin!!!” but no.

A pity the Trump campaign hasn’t taken the conservative Detroit News’ hint — both its endorsement of Biden and its front page today:


A key reason Trump may be in Michigan so often — since his polling has been consistently behind Biden between 5-7% for a couple months — is that Trumpist senate candidate John James is within MOE of incumbent Democrat Gary Peters.

DeVos family and Mitch McConnell’s PAC have dumped more than $10 million combined into this race because it’s closer than some of the incumbent Republicans’ races.

Trump doesn’t sound like he’s convinced he can win. He’s tired; he cut down his Friday night rally in Minnesota to 21 minutes, blaming the governor’s COVID crowd limitations.

He was phoning it in. Have to wonder how that will affect James’ chances if Trump can’t produce higher energy for his base in Michigan.

~ 2 ~

Another key reason Trump is making four trips to Michigan sure looks like attempted mass murder by COVID.

You know Team Trump knows about this trend of increased confirmed cases and deaths. You know they’re aware Michigan has had record case numbers since his 9/11 rally here.

Sure looks like malice aforethought. Add that to the damage to high volume sorting in Detroit’s U.S. Postal office and it’s a deliberate and deadly combination of voter suppression in this swing state he won by a mere ten thousand votes in 2016.

~ 1 ~

And one more key reason for showing up so often in Michigan is his incitement to violence. It’s already spawned at least one seditious conspiracy against Michigan’s Gov. Whitmer, a.k.a. “that woman in Michigan.” He trash talked about her during the last visits he’s made to this state.

Today he tweeted implicit support for an attack by Trump supporters on a Biden-Harris campaign bus in Texas. The attack showed up on a number of videos posted on Twitter:

This attack was encouraged by Donnie Jr. with a wink-wink-nudge-nudge, according to the Daily Beast:

“Hey Laredo, Don Jr. here. I heard you had an awesome turnout for the Trump Train,” Donald Trump Jr., son of President Donald Trump, said in a video tweeted by Daily Caller contributor Kambree Kawahine Koa. “It would be great if you guys would all get together, head down to McAllen and give Kamala Harris a nice Trump Train welcome… let’s show them how strong Texas still is as Trump country.”

The FBI is looking into this. Not holding my breath that they’ll get right on this.

~ 0 ~

One last adder to the above three things given today’s terroristic attack on the Biden-Harris bus and Biden: this country is on the verge of systemic violence. This tweet thread notes how coverage of the violence we’ve been seeing incited by Trump and his supporters is not accurately described to the public:

The media is playing it safe using the same techniques it used when describing torture by the Bush administration — as “enhanced interrogation” — and not attributing it to the inciter or perpetrators.

Even when it’s state-sanctioned violence against the media, it’s not described as bluntly as it should be. This tweet about police in Graham, NC launching an unprovoked attack with pepper spray on a GOTV march which had a permit is as blunt as it gets and it still doesn’t quite convey the level of threat:

We should expect U.S. media to report both incitement and attacks using the same terms they employ when this kind of violence happens in other countries.

If you’ve already voted, thank you. Please help others get to the polls.

And prepare for anything over the next four to five days.

Election Day Countdown: 4 Days

After the phone call I just got, I have zero patience for language policing today. If you can’t stomach f-bombs, hit the the exit now.

I am goddamned sick of this tangerine-tainted blowhard and his constant incitement to violence. I am FURIOUS at his malignancy — his trash-talking about anyone who is competent and capable while he systematically fails this country.

I am just so fucking fed up with having to worry about COVID because that slack-assed corrupt sponge can’t be bothered to turn over the job of stemming the pandemic to competent people and instead finds every opportunity to siphon money off every thing he touches.

Wow, Rayne, you seem triggered…

You’re goddamned right I’m triggered. My younger kid just called and told me their boss tested positive for COVID. They’ve been in contact with their boss several times this week indoors at a retail entertainment venue, though part of those times the boss or my kid was wearing a mask.

And my spouse was in contact with the same boss at least three times in the last week, indoors, not wearing a mask all the time.

One of my BFFs was also in contact several times with the same COVID-positive person, indoors, with and without a mask.

All three — kid, spouse, friend — will have to get tested. If any of them test positive, I have to get tested, and then I have to make a bunch of phone calls to people with whom we’ve been in contact.

I’ve had three different companies here in my house doing repairs this week — two teams didn’t wear masks, one did.

My spouse met our other kid up north last weekend to go bow hunting, staying overnight with my elderly in-laws, one of whom is being treated for cancer. I dread telling my older kid about the potential exposure because they were just tested 10 days ago due to a workplace exposure; the test administrator injured my kid with the swab. Kid has a little PTSD after that episode and is reluctant to get tested any time soon.

Our financial advisor met my spouse after a multi-state road trip earlier this week — they’re on their way back across the same states. This advisor is a self-employed small business owner, has kids at home who are in a K-12 public school.

My kid’s COVID-positive boss is a small business owner — a first-time business owner who hasn’t yet finished their second full year running this operation. The business may have to shut down for two weeks depending on the rules covering their type of business.

Meanwhile, the utterly useless apricot-brained fuckwit is campaigning yet again in my state after causing a small spike in COVID cases when he campaigned here in September, spouting this kind of trash in front of his unmasked mouth-breathing base:

God damn it.

My kid’s boss, somebody we’ve known for years, one of my spouse’s friends, is now part of today’s COVID statistics.

For all I know my kid’s boss may have a second wave infection from the September campaign rally. Nobody is making money here off that wave of infection. Nobody will make money off the second wave.

Unless you’re an executive or stockholder of Regeneron up to this week’s problems with phase 2/3 trials of COVID therapy drug remdesivir, that is. What a pity for Trump’s Briarcliff member, Regeneron CEO Leonard Schleifer.

How the hell is this country supposed to return to normal if it never makes a sustained effort to stop COVID’s spread?

How is the economy supposed to turn around when the one person who could apply the powers of the executive branch to effectively end the pandemic, persists in undermining the states’ efforts, incites seditious acts against states, and actively spreads COVID by holding rallies which are not socially distanced or mask-mandatory?

How is this country supposed to simply muddle through without leadership to a safe and effective vaccine which may be one to two years away?

Vote that fucking hacktastic moron out of office in four days if you haven’t already cast a vote.

Help others vote that stupid orange fuckweasel out of the White House if you have already voted.

Do it for the 228,701 Americans who have died from COVID, and all the families who have to put up with this unending COVID circus.

Election Day Countdown: 5 Days

There are five days left until Election Day.

More than 228,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 to date. Most of these deaths were wholly preventable had the Trump administration responded appropriately to the pandemic back in January-February.

But there is an additional excess of deaths — persons who didn’t die of COVID-19 but who would not have died had there not been such a lousy national response to the pandemic.

My sibling may have been one of those excess deaths eight weeks ago.

Please, no condolences are necessary. I’d rather not chew up comment space with them and my sibling would be annoyed.

What I would much rather see is a discussion about the additional burdens on Americans the Trump administration has placed on them because Trump didn’t want to spook the market ahead of the election.

And because the Trump administration thanks to Trump’s monstrous hack of a son-in-law Jared Kushner decided that issuing federal aid to blue states wouldn’t help Trump’s re-election odds.

~ ~ ~

I wrote in August about the additional hassle the pandemic and Trump’s governance failures have caused my family because every health care activity requires more effort, more resources.

My father’s situation took nearly a month longer to resolve than necessary and with increased risks from complications. We were lucky his condition resolved with very little intervention after months of therapy and monitoring.

He had insurance to cover the majority of expenses and adequate savings to handle out-of-pocket expenses. But this is not the case for far too many Americans who’ve lost their jobs because of the uncontrolled pandemic. They will be digging themselves out of financial holes for too long if they happen to need health care this year or next.

All because Trump couldn’t be the president this country needed.

All because Trump is a malignant narcissist who is only worried about his own skin and his enablers are only worried about their own.

~ ~ ~

The insult added to injury is that COVID patients die alone. Their families can’t be with them in COVID ICU.

The Lincoln Project made a short effective ad which comes close to conveying the heartbreak of not being able to be with a loved one during their health crisis, but surprisingly the otherwise aggressive team pulled their punches by not making it absolutely clear death comes without the solace of familial touch.

And again, it’s not just COVID patients affected. My sibling died without their family around them because they couldn’t have visitors who may bring COVID into the ICU.

One family member per day could go in during limited visiting hours. One family member could tell them what we felt for them and tell them it was okay to go.

They died alone because of goddamned Donald fucking Trump.

~ ~ ~

My sibling was one of the excess deaths we don’t talk enough about as unnecessary collateral damage.

They had a health condition which under normal circumstances was and had been manageable.

But because of COVID they were extremely worried about contracting the virus in public spaces. They didn’t seek their regular health care as they would have had there not been an uncontrolled pandemic. Living in a red state which adopted Trumpian COVID denialism exacerbated the situation.

They died for lack of adequate health care about twenty years too soon.

All because of useless and corrupt Donald fucking Trump.

~ ~ ~

Listening with gritted teeth to yet another of Trump’s wretched displays of poor temperament for the office of the presidency, I thought of a Biblical quote. It’s been popularized in Spider-Man comics as the Peter Parker principle; the character is cautioned by his Uncle Ben with a paraphrase of Luke 12:48:

To whomever much is given, of him will much be required; and to whom much was entrusted, of him more will be asked.

Donald Trump has had so much opportunity given to him because of his privilege as a white man of European descent with accumulated family wealth, even if ill-gotten. He pissed it all away. Even if it was merely converted through laundering from immediate wealth to untouchable wealth, it was turned from treasure to trash.

He’s done the same with this country’s treasure — its relationships with other countries, its economy, its aspirations from founding to become a better country, the light of the world, a city on a hill.

He’s converted whatever he could grab with his stubby little fingers into personal wealth which has disappeared into the same corrupt ratholes more than a billion dollars of personal wealth has vanished.

He’s gathered around him a cabinet and executive staff who are just as corrupt.

In spite of all the trust they have been given, access to our blood and treasure, they have frittered it away.

If it were only economic damage they wreaked they would eventually be forgotten and their conservative enablers would find a way to forgive their wretchedness.

But they are stealing from us what cannot be measured in dollars or hours of labor.

They are stealing and destroying the most precious moments we have, the ones when nothing else on earth matters.

And while roughly a million Americans mourn loved ones lost to wholly preventable spread of COVID, Donald fucking Trump gaslighted all of us about the disease:

The body count doesn’t lie, you miserable slack-assed excuse for an executive.

~ ~ ~

I will come to terms with the loss of my sibling as will the rest of my family. This month we’ll muddle through the first awkward and painful holiday with one too many plates, a few too many beers, and one too many empty chairs.

But I will never be able to get over the anger I have over the loss of those last minutes we could have shared with my sibling saying goodbye.

I will never forgive the hundreds of thousands of farewells which American friends and families could only make by phone if at all.

Call me bitter, I don’t fucking care. But I hope when time has its inevitable way as it does with us all, that Donald fucking Trump dies alone and he’s aware enough to know it as darkness falls.

Until then I will settle for his ass being kicked to the curb at the polls.

~ ~ ~

If you’ve already voted, thank you. If can help others vote, please do so.

Yet Another Warning from Michigan: FBI Busted Plot to Kidnap “That Woman”

As you’ve probably heard by now, the FBI foiled a plot to kidnap Michigan’s Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The conspirators intended to move her across state lines to Wisconsin where she would be tried by a kangaroo court for “treason.”

Timing of the plot and events which may have inspired this idiocy:

10-MAR-2020 — Governor Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-4, declaring a state of emergency in Michigan to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

13-MAR-2020 — Gov. Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-5 canceling all events and assemblies over 250 people, ending on Sunday, April 5 at 5 p.m. Michigan’s public schools and churches were closed with this order.

16-MAR-2020 — Gov. Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-9, closing places of public accommodation including restaurants, bars, gymnasiums, theaters through March 30.

20-MAR-2020 — Militia group in Michigan brought to attention of FBI when group sought addresses of local law enforcement. A Confidential Human Sources (CHS) was identified during FBI interview with a concerned militia member.

23-MAR-2020 — Gov. Whitmer issued “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order 2020-21, directing all Michigan businesses and operations to temporarily suspend in-person operations that are not necessary to sustain or protect life, effective immediately.

27-MAR-2020 — During a press conference discussing Pence’s work as head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Trump tells VP Pence, “Don’t call the woman in Michigan.”

01-APR-2020 — Gov. Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-33 expanding Executive Order 2020-4, declaring both a state of emergency and a state of disaster across the state of Michigan.

07-APR-2020 — Michigan legislature adopted a concurrent resolution to extend the states of emergency and disaster declared under the Emergency Management Act until April 30, 2020.

09-APR-2020 — First extension of Stay-Home order until May 1 due to rising COVID cases.

15-APR-2020 — Drive-in “Operation Gridlock” Protest in capital city Lansing, violating Stay-Home order; organizer received financial assistance from DeVos family.

17-APR-2020 — Trump tweeted, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!

24-APR-2020 — Second extension of Stay-Home order until May 15 due to increased COVID cases. Some restrictions were lifted on outdoor businesses. Masks ordered for all residents in public spaces.

30-APR-2020 — Armed protest in state capitol building

06-MAY-2020 — GOP-majority state house and state senate file suit against Gov. Whitmer (Michigan House of Representatives and Michigan Senate v. Whitmer)

08-MAY-2020 — Third extension of Stay-Home order until May 28. Some restrictions lifted on manufacturing as of 11-MAY-2020 as part of a phased re-opening.

21-MAY-2020 — Michigan Court of Claims ruled in favor of Gov. Whitmer in Michigan House of Representatives and Michigan Senate v. Whitmer; the state of emergency would continue without legislative approval.

22-MAY-2020 — Fourth extension of Stay-Home order until June 12. State of emergency also extended to June 19. Two northern Michigan regions were able to reopen, allowing restaurants and bars to operate at 50% capacity. Groups of 10 were permitted across the state.

01-JUN-2020 — Stay-Home order lifted with restrictions, ex. groups of 100 outdoors, outdoor fitness classes, etc.

06-JUN-2020 — Meeting of ~15 co-conspirators in Dublin, Ohio.

08-JUN-2020 — Restaurants allowed to reopen and operate across the state at 50% capacity with other mandatory changes like masks and social distancing.

08-JUN-2020 — On reopening, Harper’s brewpub restaurant in East Lansing, Michigan, violated several of the remaining emergency restrictions. Over the next month at least 185 cases of COVID will have been traced back to this facility’s reopening.

14-JUN-2020 — A key co-conspirator and a militia group member meet at a militia field training exercise.

15-JUN-2020 — Stay-Home order ends. Some restrictions remain on events and assemblies as well as public accommodation facilities.

18-JUN-2020 — Gov. Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-127, again finding that the COVID-19 pandemic constitutes a disaster and emergency throughout the State of Michigan.

18-JUN-2020 — Co-conspirators met with militia group leadership at the Second Amendment rally at the state capitol in Lansing, Michigan.

20-JUN-2020 — Several co-conspirators met at a co-conspirator’s business in Grand Rapids for planning.

25-JUN-2020 — Key co-conspirator streams a rant about Gov. Whitmer to a private Facebook group.

28-JUN-2020 — Several co-conspirators met in Munith, Michigan for a tactical training
exercise.

04-06-JUL-2020 — Holiday weekend partying results in uptick of COVID cases.

10-12-JUL-2020 — Co-conspirators attended a field training exercise in Cambria, Wisconsin which included attempting to make IEDs with balloons, BBs, and black powder.

13-JUL-2020 — Gov. Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-147, mandating the wearing of masks to contain spread of COVID-19.

18-JUL-2020 — Co-conspirators met in Ohio, discussed attacking Michigan State Police and shooting up Gov. Whitmer’s vacation home in western lower Michigan.

27-JUL-2020 — Co-conspirators discussed plan to kidnap Gov. Whitmer at vacation home, transport her to Wisconsin, and prosecute her.

09-AUG-2020 — Co-conspirators discussed obtaining intelligence about Gov. Whitmer’s Lansing home as well as attacking her at that site.

18-AUG-2020 — Co-conspirators discussed surveillance of Gov. Whitmer’s vacation home and getaway plans.

23-AUG-2020 — Co-conspirators discussed surveillance while meeting in Lake Orion, Michigan.

29-AUG-2020 — Co-conspirator and CH-2 surveil Gov. Whitmer’s vacation home.

30-AUG-2020 — Co-conspirators discuss findings of surveillance.

12-13-SEP-2020 — Co-conspirators meet in Luther, Michigan for field training exercise and practice making and using IEDs as well as tighten planning and coordination.

14-SEP-2020 — Co-conspirators discuss executing plan in late October, well before Election Day.

30-SEP-2020 — Co-conspirators discuss acquiring taser for plan.

02-OCT-2020 — Key co-conspirator confirms acquisition of taser.

06-OCT-2020 — In a 4-3 ruling along partisan lines, Michigan Supreme Court determined Gov. Whitmer did not have the authority to issue COVID-related executive orders after April 30, 2020.

07-OCT-2020 — Co-conspirators planned to meet to make payments on equipment.

07-OCT-2020 — Co-conspirator Garbin’s house was raided.

09-OCT-2020 — Arrest of ‘Wolverine Watchmen’ conspirators announced, complaint published.

I use word inspired loosely, because there doesn’t seem to be a direct link between the most aggressive emergency action and the inception and progress of this seditious terror plot. The emergency Stay-Home order was lifted the week the conspirators began planning; what restrictions remained clearly did not stop these men from traveling, meeting, organizing, and planning.

They also didn’t have a legitimate beef about the effectiveness of the governor’s actions, any more so than the polarized and irrational MIGOP-controlled state legislature. Eleventh largest by population, Michigan was hit hard early in the pandemic, now ranking 10th in overall COVID-19 deaths. But since Whitmer declared the state of emergency and enacted the Stay-Home order along with a phased reopening process, the state’s daily death toll has plummeted and its cases per million is now 40th in the country.

You’ll recall from posts I wrote about the protests opposing Whitmer’s orders back in April that the protests cause spikes in active confirmed cases beginning 5-10 days after the protests. They’re visible here in these charts.

The plot wasn’t about Whitmer’s handling of COVID-19.

One only needs to look and listen to the language the conspirators used about Gov. Whitmer to know that this was about hate for a woman with the authority to give orders with regard to a deadly pandemic.

Tyranny to this baker’s dozen of white men was about a democratically-elected woman in a position of legitimate authority telling them what to do.

Trump set the tone for this by refusing to help Whitmer when she asked for federal assistance, by refusing to allow Pence as COVID-19 Task Force chair to listen to Whitmer, and by tweeting, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN” after the first protest against Whitmer’s orders.

His tweets yesterday attacking Whitmer again even after the arrests of kidnapping conspirators only reinforce the real intent of Trump and seditious domestic terrorists alike.

What will Trump’s tweets spawn next as we head into a second wave of COVID-19, this time with Michigan’s governor disempowered by Republicans on the state supreme court?

2020 Vice Presidential Debate: In the Land of the Shoshone

This post is dedicated to discussion of the Vice Presidential debate between current VP Mike Pence and Democratic VP candidate Senator Kamala Harris.

The debate is scheduled to begin at 9:00 PM ET and will take place in the Nancy Peery Marriott Auditorium at the University of Utah’s Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah.

University of Utah’s efforts to prevent the dispersion of the candidates’ aerosolized exhalations — particularly those of Pence who has been in contact with infected persons within the last week — are absolutely laughable, evident in this photo of the stage (via NBC):

Harris had asked for a plexiglass partition between the candidates which the Commission on Presidential Debates approved though not without complaint by Team Pence. What the Commission furnished is a joke, clearing the candidates’ heads by no more than 18″.

Check-out clerks at major grocery store chains and banks have more protection than this.

I’m crossing my fingers that Harris’s people have reached out to SC Senate candidate Jaime Harrison to see if they could borrow the folding plexiglass screen he used when debating Lindsey Graham.

Or found a mask with a built-in mic (why hasn’t this become a thing?) so that she has more protection but is still audible.

~ ~ ~

Like the three Presidential debates, this event is booked in a red state venue. None of the events organized by the allegedly nonpartisan, nonprofit Commission on Presidential Debates is scheduled for a blue state.

Partisan bias could well explain the casual attitude toward infection control.

Utah’s state nickname is the Gateway to the West, but Native Americans know this is land taken from Ute, Paiute, and Shoshone tribes. Though some of the state falls under sketchy treaties, Salt Lake City itself is unceded land of the Northwestern Shoshone. Let’s hope this is recognized at some point during the evening.

USA Today’s Susan Page is the scheduled moderator, who has a conflict of interest:

… A potential conflict of interest has arisen in the vice-presidential debate. In late 2018, moderator Susan Page hosted a party in honor of Mike Pence’s protégé Seema Verma, who runs the Medicare and Medicaid programs for the Trump administration. As New York’s Ed Kilgore notes, the controversy centers on “whether a working journalist at Page’s level who has been hobnobbing with Mike Pence’s best-known associate in the Trump administration ought to be moderating his debate with Kamala Harris.” …

And in spite of the hubbub which arose when this conflict of interest was identified, Page and USA Today have refused to do anything about it — apparently there are no other journalists at USA Today covering the presidential race who are free of conflicts…? Or COVID-negative?

Sure hope it comes up in the debate that Mike Pence has had to return to DC when Air Force 2 was turned around mid-flight on its way to or from New Hampshire not once but twice in the last 18 months.

Has any journalist confirmed it was Air Force 2 hitting a bird which caused Pence to turn around on September 22 and not something else? Or did they leave it to Pence’s communications people to explain this?

~ ~ ~ 

Add these two dates to your calendar for the remaining two presidential debates — if Trump is healthy enough to participate:

Thursday 15-OCT-2020
9:00–10:30 p.m. ET
Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts
Miami, Florida
Moderator: Steve Scully, C-SPAN

Thursday 22-OCT-2020
8:00–9:30 p.m. ET
Curb Event Center at Belmont University
Nashville, Tennessee
Moderator: Kristen Welker, NBC

I’m not holding my breath for these.

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