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      We’ve raised just under $6,000 so far, which means we’ve reached the first goal at $5,000 – five linked articles in a series about political concepts and how to actually use them. Most people learn political and economic concepts, but the knowledge really does them no good, since they no on explains when they work […]
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Focus!, Donald.

This is how Trump has decided to tackle the virus:

Does even one immigrant prevent him from nationwide testing?

Are the immigrants stealing truckloads of PPE from hard hit states that paid for it out of their own funds? And where did that pirated PPE go, by the way? To Georgia, Texas and South Dakota? Why do doctors need to practically smuggle PPE into the country to get it to the first line healthcare workers?

The bad is only just beginning. We have hit the iceberg. One man really can do enormous damage. But stopping immigration does what exactly to stop the virus?

Someone needs to explain this to me in a way that doesn’t make the explainer sound like a “eyes glazed over” word-salad spewing cult follower. I want to see the math on this.

Reporters need to ask “When will the federal government use our tax dollars to begin nationwide testing?” That’s the ONLY question that is important and must be answered at the stupid 5:00 pm hate masquerading as a press briefing.

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Saw there’s a new meme on the right where we’re all supposed to call him President Trump.

Sure, I’ll call him President when he starts calling the person who was elected in Michigan to run things by her name.

It’s GOVERNOR Gretchen Whitmer.

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Women around the world have been exceeding expectations in leading their countries through this crises. Probably because no one is going to flatter them when they do a shitty job as we have apparently chosen to do.

I really don’t care, do you?

These protesters against the violation of their liberties were stopped in their tracks by some nurses:

I’m going to write something that will completely go over the heads of the protesters and secretly simmering supporters.

It doesn’t matter where it started.

All that matters is how we reacted when it got here. And it got here, in the United States, on the same day it arrived in South Korea.

There is no excuse, or certainly none that we should tolerate, for not having the best, cleverest, most innovative and effective response that a superpower with the “best healthcare on the planet” could generate.

We might be a bigger country by land mass than Korea or Germany. But we aren’t as densely populated in every state. It is no surprise that New York and New Jersey were most at risk. That’s no excuse for failing to test as many people as possible as quickly as possible even if it meant using a test developed by an evil universal government agency.

The fact that we haven’t even come close to an effective response except for indefinite shutdown and social distancing is an indictment of the incredibly poor decision making at the federal level.

Period.

It’s humiliating to see how America has completely failed during this crisis and a bunch of defiant, in your face, protests for FREEDOM!, and against female governors and China, is not going to remove that gigantic F grade we are getting from the rest of the world.

If we come out of this as no longer #1, having lost our reputation and the world’s trust in us, we have no one to blame but the people who put this administration in charge and then fought like tigers to keep it in place no matter how many people died or how many people were plunged into poverty.

Resisting the Fall from Grace

Ayayay, so much news, so many things to pay attention to. It’s exhausting. I have saved a TON of posts, articles, rants but it’s hard to know what should get the most attention. One thing I have concluded though is the current national crisis is the natural conclusion of our cultural and political narrative for the past 40 years. If you’re a libertarian, you should be absolutely loving this. This is your time to shine. That’s right, everybody is fending for themselves, children are being homeschooled and the free market system is completely, COMPLETELY unfettered, even for goods like N95 masks, disposable gowns, face shields, gloves and ventilators. Man o man it doesn’t get any better than this for the Howard Roark guys, amirite?

If only we could get all those Everymen off the government teat, their work would be done. Look at all the money we are spending on working people who didn’t plan to be unemployed. Everybody knows you should have 6 months of liquid assets in the bank before the economy tanks like it’s going to do periodically. (I’d say more like 5 years worth but what do I know? My savings lasted from 2011-2014 and I bought a house with cash at that point in time from the sale of my old house. I was that worried about a replay and here we are. This time I am employed, well, underemployed, and my income is unbudgeable. Who knows how long I’ll have a job? So I try not to spend money. Cue Krugman’s lecture on the paradox of scarcity but I digress🙄.)

Anyway, I can just see the anti-government, “don’t tread on me and my ability to lie, cheat and steal my way to wealth” crowd trying to figure out a way to stop average Americans asking for money for calories and shelter. Bunch of whiners. It’s like they think they’re citizens or something. Haven’t they been paying any attention to the way the enfranchisement of poor people has been going in the last 20 years?? The last thing we need is “entitled” Americans fomenting a rebellion, wiping out Congressional employees, I mean, Republicans (I’m taking about you Susan Collins) and implementing big structural changes that are long overdue so that the US of A joins the rest of the world in the 21st century. There will be new taxes and Elizabeth Warren throwing flags on the field and new health clinics, birthing centers and childcare centers next to the taco trucks on every corner.

It’s a fricking nightmare.

Time to activate the FREEEEEEDOM! Chip.

Let’s make the newly laid off people feel bad about being takers. Nevermind that they paid into the unemployment system all of their lives and none of this is their fault (unless the voted for it still support Trump but explaining how this works takes more than 40 seconds in an elevator so fuck it. They’ll have to learn the hard way.)

Let’s make them think they have a latent laziness character flaw that will be upregulated the minute they receive the threshhold amount of money that will keep them home. Forget that keeping people home is exactly the point and that the money is temporary. Let’s make them feel like they just don’t want to work and they’re only $600 dollars short of living the sweet life sipping sweet mint tea and smoking hash, swinging the day away in a hammock.

Here’s Lindsay Graham using the activation code yesterday:

Golly, that sounds like a baaaad thing. People are actually able to feed their families on the stimulus checks and extra unemployment benefits (not you, Florida. Your unemployment benefits website was designed to fail and you probably thought that was O. K. as long as it wasn’t you who had to use it.)

Yeah, let’s make it really difficult for single moms and POC and lazy people to stay afloat. Let’s make them jump through hoops, raise the bar, ratchet up the complexity with endless paperwork. Let’s really stress those families out. But not YOU. Oh, YOU’RE not like THEM? The system should work for YOU? You shouldn’t be forced to spend hours trying to login to a website or on hold in the phone to talk to a low level bureaucrat who sees you as not unique and special and extra responsible??

Horrors! It’s almost like you’ve become one of those lazy bums who wants to stay home and not work. No, no, YOU’RE not like that. YOU’RE a hardworking person who looks after yourself and practices rugged individualism. It’s different for you. If it weren’t different, then you might start seeing yourself differently. You might even start to feel a smidgeon of solidarity with unemployed people. There might be empathy for what other people are going through. You might be so disgusted with the way the unemployment office talks to you, like you were some kind of unworthy slacker instead of a decent, hardworking person who needs the benefits you paid into all of your life, and deserve, for just this eventuality.

Ha! Just wait until you try to get Medicaid when you lose your health insurance or find that you CAN keep your employer’s health insurance if you’re willing to pay for it through COBRA. No, you will not get a discount rate just because you are unemployed, are you kidding me?? Health insurance isn’t free or affordable for unemployed people just because they have very limited funds.

There is a possibility that the casual libertarian who perpetually votes Republican will need to distinguish him/herself from the riffraff they’ve been crapping on since Reagan rolled out the Cadillac driving welfare queen.

After all, you WANT to work. Work yourself to death even. Unlike all of the OTHER people who would rather live on subsistence wages and promise their children a day out at the Food Bank. And if it weren’t for those damn governors, especially the female Democrats in that bunch, you could do it too. You could get back the dignity that Lindsay Graham and Fox News and Rush Limbaugh are constantly threatening to strip from you.

There is a method to their message. Fall from Grace and you might as well go live in the ghetto.

Go to a protest, get your power back.

Yeah, don’t worry about unemployment. Darwin will take care of it.

Make a joyful noise

Who’s in the mood for something fun? I found this ice skating performance on youtube that is stunning. It’s Rudy Galindo at the US Figure Skating Championships in 1996. He was in third place when he skated his long program to Swan Lake, imagining himself as a jazz dancing version of the evil sorcerer Rothbart.

It was his hometown. He was 26, the oldest men’s competitor. He lost both of his coaches in the previous year, one to AIDS. And while his former pairs partner Kristi Yamaguchi went on to fame and fortune and Olympic gold, Rudy’s career was out of sync.

So he gave it all he had. He skated for the joy of it. Just watch.

Saving the best for last: Warren endorses Biden.

Very nice:

I wasn’t thinking big enough

But I still think my solution would have been better. I wrote this post almost a year ago and proposed an alternative to impeaching Trump and included this missed opportunity:

And what does he want? Who knows but he’s got all his “acting” cabinet officials and Supreme Court justices all lined up. If he is a ruthlessly vengeful man who’s enraged by the damage to his image, I can easily imagine him deciding that if he’s going to go, he’ll take the whole place with him. You know, ship some DACA recipients to the desert in summer via cattle car, take all their stuff, dare anybody to make him stop as the death toll from heat exhaustion starts to climb. Maybe his Supreme Court will finally overturn Roe v Wade. That will cause anger, protests, and chaos. Maybe he’ll do something stupid on the financial front like refuse to pay our debts and watch our global credit rating plummet. Or allow Russia to have a free hand with the election next year, physically prevent African americans from voting, change the voting machines like they do in Minsk or East Bumfuck, Russia. Sure it’s unconstitutional but who’s going to stop him? Attorney General Bill Barr? Lololololol!!!!
He should be encouraged to resign. That would be the best scenario. The rest of us just want to get on with our lives and solve the healthcare issue, fix the consumer financial services problems, tackle global warming, make life more affordable and just and fair for regular people.
If we could strike a deal with Trump, pay him off to the tune of $10 billion and promise not to prosecute him when he leaves the White House, we would be saving ourselves money in the end. He could give some dorky speech where he makes it sound like a great sacrifice on his part and the networks would roll their eyes and read the prepared script that says what a hero of the working class he is who gave up his throne after the biggest inauguration crowd EVER blah blah blah. Then he could jump on his plane to a remote island and we’d all get back to business.
That’s the best scenario.

***************

$10 billion would have been a bargain.

Yeah… not helpful.

I’m talking about this:

I’m no mind reader so I can’t tell what Trump is trying to convey here.

Is he trying to own the libs again and trigger a firestorm of condemnation? Ok, sure there will be some of that.

Is it a true expression of his governing style, a type of battle of champions? Some kind of Jack Welch rank-and-yank on steroids? Are we supposed to root for a side here?

In either case, when people are dying and food bank queues are miles long and testing not getting off the ground, this tweet is significantly not helpful. This is not a competition or at least that is not what we need right now.

I’m sure he LOVES sitting on top of a pile of cash and only giving it out to people who publicly humiliate themselves. I’ve known people like that. They are oblivious to the pain and suffering they are causing. No one else’s feelings are more important than theirs. The destruction will end (for a brief period of time) when they get what they want. I believe the cycle is idealization, devaluation, discard, hoovering, lather, rinse, repeat. Those of you who have not had the pleasure of having a narcissist screw with your life for amusement are seeing it in action now.

Those governors better start kowtowing now if they expect to get anything. Or they could remind Trump about what happened to captain Bligh. The crew took control of the ship, put Bligh and a few crew members in a dinghy, and set him adrift. I think that is the point of the multistate consortiums. (I am a proud resident of New Jerpennmadelarhodeconn).

You’d think the recent election in Wisconsin where voters showed they’d had enough of Republicans acting like “Democrats shouldn’t be allowed to win” would be a wake up call.

Looks like it’s going to take Jared, Ivanka, Larry and Pence in a rowboat for them to get the point: this is a DIFFERENT reality show.

Save the US Postal Service. Buy some stamps.

The postal service is written into the Constitution.

Section 8

1: The Congress shall have Power …

7: To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

I guess that if you’re a libertarian type captured by the Trump contingent, you could parse that section as being something the Congress could do but isn’t mandated to do. But I wouldn’t recommend that argument because there are a bunch of other powers in that section that you really don’t want to cede like the power to declare wars, set up courts below the Supreme Court and most importantly, pay our debts. If we can’t pay our debts, we can’t borrow money. No one will lend it to us.

So letting the postal service go hang itself is the proverbial slippery slope. Do not take this bait. That way madness lies.

Slightly off topic: does anyone remember the mailboxes everywhere? One of my most special memories is walking to the mailbox on a rainy day in San Pedro, California with my see through umbrella and raincoat to mail a letter to my dad on a ship somewhere off the coast of Vietnam. I remember the smell of the rain and the squish of my wet tennis shoes.

Anyway, there are parts of the country that rely heavily on the USPS, like rural areas of the country. Does FedEx deliver everywhere through all kinds of weather? I don’t know. But I do know that eliminating the post office suddenly due to Trump shaking his tiny fists and shrieking about voter fraud and Jeff Bezos is going to have some unintended consequences. Can we really afford more unintended consequences this year? Shouldn’t we have as much stability as we possibly can get right now? This is not the time to fire Mr. McFeely.

I know I’m preaching to the choir here. If you have a few moments today, like at lunch, go buy a book of Forever Stamps from your local post office. Mine is in Verona, PA, 15147.

*******************

And now something different for the skin-to-skin deprived:

Easter in the Covid zone is the Mother of Invention.

I gave up Christianity a long time ago. I’m more of a Sikh without a Khalsa right now. Last year during my illness? Never once thought about praying to Jesus. Go figure.

But a lot of people, including my relatives, are into that kind of thing. So, what do you do for Christianity’s most holy day when you can’t actually go to church?

Ok, here’s the solution all you southern states, Louisiana, Florida, Alabama. Let us Yankees show you how it’s done. This is from a church in Monroeville, about 5 miles from here:

Note that the drummer and bass player are wearing masks.

Good job, people. Happy Easter.

We who are about to die… give you the finger

Omg. 🙄

This Washington Post article will validate everything you suspected about the way Trump handled the outbreak including proposing to sacrifice millions of Americans for the good of the market:

During one task force meeting in the Situation Room last month, Trump turned to Fauci and challenged him.

It was the day the administration was adding Ireland and the United Kingdom to its travel restrictions, and Trump wanted to understand why talk of “herd immunity” — allowing the coronavirus to sweep a nation largely unchecked, with the belief that those who survived would then be immune — was such a bad idea.

“Why don’t we let this wash over the country?” Trump asked, according to two people familiar with his comments, a question other administration officials say he has raised repeatedly in the Oval Office.

Fauci initially seemed confused by the term “wash over” but became alarmed once he understood what Trump was asking.

“Mr. President, many people would die,” Fauci said.

The president said he understood but since then has repeatedly made clear he wants to reopen things soon — although significant roadblocks remain.

There’s so much more in the piece. Go read it yourself.

One thing I do have to object in this article is that supposedly there is a shortage of data tracking provided by the CDC. It is a little weird that while our country has some fantastic online resources provided by the NIH (pubmed, pubchem, BLAST etc), the CDC doesn’t seem to have a crack bunch of developers working on apps. But that doesn’t mean you can’t figure out what’s going on and how to track it using open source development and resources. Here are some of the best:

JHU Coronavirus Tracker

1point3acres

Covid19 TOPOS compiler

There’s another one that I lost the URL for that predicts the apex for your state. So, plenty of data, plenty of geeks with experience with R, SQL and other stuff with a lot of time on their hands. No shortage of information from a county and state level, assuming those governmental entities are being honest and aren’t hiding anything (I’m talking to you Florida). Maybe it would be nice to have a centralized set of apps from the CDC but depending on how you display your data, a consensus is emerging whether the CDC is allowed to get its act together or not. The truth has a funny way of outting itself.

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Derek Lowe of In the Pipeline posts summaries of the latest potential treatments and drug candidates for Covid19. Derek is a medicinal chemist who spent much of his career in R&D at Vertex. He’s my resident expert. His review of Covid19 drugs is pretty sobering right now. Eventually, there will be more positive studies to talk about. It probably didn’t help us that pharma wiped out a whole generation of small molecule drug discoverers and medicinal chemists during the patent cliff and Great Recession. But whaddayagunnodo? Shareholders gotta eat, amirite?

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Finally, the best voice advocating reason, critical examination of data and calm is coming from a purveyor of frozen beef sheets:

Steak umm’s twitter account is definitely subscribable. Who knew?

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Bonus: If you miss sports, check out Andrew Cotter’s twitter feed for his dog broadcasts: