Friday, April 03, 2020

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.



"We're all ridin' rocket ships and talkin' with our minds/
We're wearin' turquoise jewelry and standin' in soup lines." Get well soon!

•   This grimly hilarious thing of Elon Musk, having promised to get hundreds of "ventilators" to needful New York to treat coronavirus, sending in their place dozens of BPAP sleep apnea devices, has had the added humorous result of showing me how many tech-biz journals out there are dedicated to kissing Musks' ass. Here's one from something called CleanTechnica:
Some critics believe that this whole thing is actually a fiasco and have criticized Elon Musk for helping out. One has even stated that the devices are five years old, when in fact it is the platform that is five years old, not necessarily the machines. It would seem that these critics have focused entirely too much on supposed faults Elon Musk and Tesla, who are trying to help, and not the larger issue at hand here: the coronavirus and the fact that hospitals are running out of supplies. Another critic has claimed that these machines don’t have any functionality in dealing with COVID-19 and questions as to why Tesla would provide them. 
Dr. Jonathon Richards, a member of the Louisiana Tesla Owners and Dreamers Facebook group and an ICU doctor treating COVID-19 patients right here in Baton Rouge...
Yeeeesh. My favorite is from "Teslarati":
Some recognized tesla’s good deeds to donate these machines as just one of his many generous acts during the crisis. However, some critics were quick to point out the fact that the ventilators sent to the hospital in Queens were CPAP/BiPAP machines, speculating that they would not assist patients in need of breathing normally.,, 
Musk clarified that it was “very important to provide C/BiPap devices to *prevent* cases from becoming severe. Once severe (intratracheal intubation), survival rates are low.”
I know I said I was paying for chemotherapy, but this program of diet and exercise I actually gave you is an important way to *prevent* cancer. I'm beginning to think Musk will be President of the United States some day. Sure, he's not a citizen, but the GOP has made clear that our laws mean nothing anyway.

•   Just in case you've been wondering how Rod Dreher is taking it, he's been hysterical for weeks; it's all coronavirus all the time. There's an occasional retreat to the classics ("If Orwell were alive today and writing with his superlative critical pen about [SJWs], he would struggle to find publication in one of our major liberal journals" -- just like Kevin D. Williamson!). And he continues to swell his collection of JustTheTip Trumper essays ("Let me further stipulate that unlike the Never Trumpers, I am glad that the galoot from Queens demolished the old Republican Party, which had grown decadent...") but mostly it's Get Ready The World is a-Comin' To An End.

Today's entry is a Lulu:
This pandemic will not finally end, most likely, until there is a coronavirus vaccine. Who knows when that will happen? What kind of America will be left when this pandemic recedes? 
So: I closed the laptop, then went to brush my teeth.
[It's these homey touches that really make his writing.]
I was thinking about the news I had just read, and the movie I had just seen, then I remembered the story of the torn flag. I’ve told it in this space before, but man, in light of this sudden horror that has overtaken our nation, it really stands out in a different light.
I'll spare you: Years before 9/11, someone had an old flag, and on the first 9/11iversary it was suddenly discovered RIPPED IN TWO. Right up there with Peggy Noonan's Face Of The Evil One!
Like I said, make of it what you will. We will never really know if it was a coincidence, or a meaningful coincidence. No question, though, but that the United States has not had a good 21st century — and it just got unimaginably worse.
One of the tragicomic aspects of Dreher is, he doesn't know this difference between a shitty metaphor and a Sign From Above.
Question to the room: have you ever had precognition of the future, or witnessed something you consider to have been a portent, a sign of things to come? If so, tell the story.
It's early yet but I look forward to the Signs and Portents his readers may bring. "When men like bats do fly, the world’s end then is nigh!" Sim sim sala bim! Mayhap it will lead to the world's first online snake-handling service.

Thursday, April 02, 2020

LET'S NOT BICKER AND ARGUE ABOUT WHO KILLED WHO, PART INFINITY.

I've unlocked a newsletter issue on the latest propaganda gambit from the brethren: That it was actually the Democrats (and experts quoted in health stories) who were downplaying the virus at a critical time, probably in an attempt to kill innocent honkies -- look at all clips of de Blasio and Pelosi telling them to go to Chinatown! Chinatown, Mandrake!

This is meant to exonerate Trump, not by an actual comparison with his actual actions (which from the dismissal of the U.S. pandemic team onwards is pretty clearly disastrously inept), but by making it look as if no one was calling for quick, decisive action -- even though Trump was on TV for weeks insulting and bitching about the people who were calling for quick, decisive action.

They've been dishing out the talking points on Reddit, leading to various idiots on Twitter trying to disseminate them. (Many use the "I'm not defending Trump" shtick; you go to their feeds, and they either have four tweets or it's full of rightwing retweets.)

It's always interesting to see them launch a new product, particularly when it's an obvious Edsel. It will be even more interesting to see who falls for it.

UPDATE: Becket Adams at the Washington Examiner: "No institution has failed the public worse than the news media during the COVID-19 pandemic." Unsurprisingly, a huge part of his story is actually about China, with Adams condemning the press for writing about "whether it is racist to use terms such as 'Wuhan virus' and 'Kung flu'" -- as if noticing that Asian-American people are getting physically attacked by racists over the virus somehow impedes the fight against the virus. (It's becoming conservative orthodoxy that racism is actually an important weapon against COVID-19.)

But the smaller part of Adams' story accusing the press of telling people "the virus was not as dangerous or serious as it sounded" (evidence: A Vox tweet in January!) is even dumber. For decades, wingnuts have been telling people not to believe the Lamestream Media, and to listen only to authorities like Fox News and Republican office-holders -- who have been spectacularly stepping on their dicks over this (here's the latest example from Brian Kemp in Georgia). That these hucksters would now turn around and ask the same media why they didn't override conservative propaganda to warn the populace is really in parent-murderer-cries-for-mercy-because-he's-an-orphan territory.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

I SHALL KEEP YOU, BORTAI, IN RESPONSE TO MY PASSION. YOUR HATRED WILL KINDLE INTO LOVE.

The latest trend in conservatism: throne 'n' altar fascism! In The Atlantic Adrian Vermeule says that originalism, the rightwing judicial scam that says most of us were never meant to have any more rights than an 18th-century bondservant, has "outlived its utility" and the hip wingnuts are getting into "common-good constitutionalism," which is
based on the principles that government helps direct persons, associations, and society generally toward the common good, and that strong rule in the interest of attaining the common good is entirely legitimate.
And the "common good" is what's good for you, as judged by your betters -- "officials (including, but by no means limited to, judges)" who, in opposition to the "relentless expansion of individualistic autonomy" championed by godless libs, will read "principles" into ""the majestic generalities and ambiguities of the written Constitution" and make you live by them:
Finally, unlike legal liberalism, common-good constitutionalism does not suffer from a horror of political domination and hierarchy, because it sees that law is parental, a wise teacher and an inculcator of good habits. Just authority in rulers can be exercised for the good of subjects, if necessary even against the subjects’ own perceptions of what is best for them—perceptions that may change over time anyway, as the law teaches, habituates, and re-forms them. Subjects will come to thank the ruler whose legal strictures, possibly experienced at first as coercive, encourage subjects to form more authentic desires for the individual and common goods, better habits, and beliefs that better track and promote communal well-being.
Readers of a certain age will remember being taught in school that one of the signal differences between America and Great Britain, and why we kicked them out, was that here we had no "subjects." I guess we don't teach that anymore. I'll go this far with Vermeule: In the interest of the common good, authorities should be permitted to check his basement and crawlspaces for captives.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

IF PIGS HAD WINGS.

The Wall Street Journal's Daniel Henninger, always shit, has surpassed himself today:


I like to think the WSJ art department, if there is one, had some fun putting FDR and Churchill out of scale with Trump. It looks as if the shades of these great men are sharing a laugh -- "Can you believe they're comparing this cheap crook to us?" (Hope the layout people don't get in trouble for this -- WSJ editors can be extremely shitty to the help.)

You can read the whole wretched thing if you like but you probably already get the picture -- The Democrats are puny Lilliputians trying to tie down the Orange Colossus, but destiny beckons:
No national leader plans to be in a position like this—not Roosevelt, Lincoln or Churchill. Mr. Trump will emerge from this crisis either as just another president or a president who led his entire country through a great battle. 
Or, option 3: As a sociopathic con man who blundered into a job far too big for his meager talents and yammered on TV about how mean everyone was to him while thousands needlessly died.
If Democrats choose to be the opposition in this battle, voters will judge that choice.
I thought in this "battle" the opposition was the virus. Isn't it a little early to go full Nazi on one's political opponents?
Some will say, from experience, that asking Mr. Trump to rise to presidential greatness is quixotic. He’ll never adjust no matter the circumstance. And yes, on Tuesday he was in a cat fight over ventilators with New York’s Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo.
Ironically, Mr. Trump’s path to presidential greatness may begin by doing something small but desired by virtually all Americans: Separate himself from the pettiness of our politics.
If Henninger had an editor and that person didn't flag "Ironically" and ask "Do you mean 'in an alternate universe'?" -- well, who am I kidding, no one edits his stuff.
Mr. Cuomo is a governor with a job to do. Help him. If he wants to kvetch, let him.
This may be the most absurd part of Henninger's column -- between the famously self-pitying Trump and a governor begging for help in an exploding medical crisis, portraying the latter as the kvetch.
Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have self-isolated from what the American people want from Washington now. With the rescue package finished, if they choose to stay small, let them.
I take it back. Saying the Democrats "have self-isolated from what the American people want from Washington now" when Mitch McConnell, having done everything he could to poison the Senate coronavirus bill that Bernie Sanders had to come in and unfuck, then actually recessed the Senate for a goddamn month, is bullshit of the lowest ordure.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

TYPHOID MAGA.

I'm unlocking today's Roy Edroso Breaks It Down newsletter item, "The Phantom of the GOPera," so non-subscribers can read it. In part it's about how the death-cult craziness of conservatism and its GOP agents has accelerated in the COVID-19 crisis -- not only in their defense of Trump's incredible malfeasance in ignoring and underpreparing for the clear and present danger, but also in their shift to a "kill the weak to save the market" approach.

Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick's ravings are just the best-known example; Fox News waxwork Brit Hume has gotten in on the act, comparing states and cities that are flattening the disease curve by shutting down services to "shut[ting] down the economy to save every single life that's threatened by a wide-spread disease," as if it were a foolish overreaction rather than the considered opinion of every reputable epidemiologist and public health official.

Patrick and Hume are in turn seconded by a bunch of other nuts and Red State Republican officials looking to get in good with the Boss by putting their constituents at risk. The more mainstream conservatives like Yuval Levin are also on board but try to put it more daintily:
Telling the public that face masks don’t work, for instance, makes sense when you’re trying to avoid false confidence and to save masks for health-care workers. But simple masks actually can reduce transmission dramatically, and the language of public-health experts around such measures will need to start changing. 
That's right, "public-health experts," stop being such a drag -- we've got to get back to Dow 30,000!

But we may have reached a real watershed at (where else) the Federalist, where an Oregon dermatologist seen elsewhere blasting Obamacare is now proposing you give your kids the plague to toughen them up:
This type of controlled infection program would be unprecedented, but so is a disease with the unique clinical characteristics of COVID-19. Unfortunately, the status quo itself is hardly a safe, certain, or risk-free course of action. If the Wuhan virus pandemic is the moral and medical equivalent of war, this is exactly the sort of crash project that could save the day for millions of Americans, jobs, and future generations who will bear much of the cost of this disease.
Maybe newly-reopened Liberty University will give us a taste of how well this works. And if that fails, maybe we try nuclear weapons. After all, this is war!

This is the kind of thing one reads about with amazement in history books, but these days I'm not sure we're going to continue to have history books, or history.

Friday, March 20, 2020

FRIDAY 'ROUND THE HORN.



This is not a vacation.

Here, have a free newsletter issue! This one's set at the Winter White House in Gulchville, Kentucky, where some of our cartoon characters are taking a break from the swamp. (That's Roy Edroso Breaks It Down, kids. Tell your friends!)

• How y'all doing? I'm doing the work-from-home thing for the God Damn Job and it does not in any way feel like a vacation from the cares and strife of the Before Time. In fact, playing with buggy and probably overloaded phone conference services and screen-sharing apps has just added to the usual demonic activity level. On the other hand, when I take a break I can go lie down or play with the cat, so that's good. And I am very grateful not to be one of the millions who will be furloughed or just plain laid off in this the Glorified Gig Economy that was bound to collapse at some point even without a national emergency hastening it along.

Anyway there's always music. I know my regular readers will drop some good shutdown tunes in comments, so go have a look.

• I'm glad Bernie Sanders is hanging in there so I can once again proudly vote from him in the DC primary (assuming we have democracy anymore at that point in time) and doing the public-facing work Biden apparently finds too threatening to his fragile my-fellow-Republicrats act. The Biden bros are less pleased, and Jonathan V. Last, one of the holy Tribe of NeverTrump who now fancy themselves the conscience of the Democratic Party, has really come up with a stunner:
The Sanders Campaign Is a Menace to Public Health
Bernie Sanders can't beat Joe Biden. But he can force millions of people to risk being exposed to the coronavirus.
I'm not even gonna get into what calling the first viable Jewish presidential candidate a disease vector looks like. Last's argument, such as it is, is that Bernie has no chance, no hope, no prayer (this point is hammered away at for a third of the essay); one wonders what Last would be saying if Sanders had a few hundred more delegates (probably the same thing with a different grade of bullshit). So it's not worth subjecting our citizens to the peril of representative democracy:
And if Sanders wanted to go on a scorched-earth campaign against Biden designed to make him radioactive for the general election—purely out of spite? No problem. All’s fair. 
But this is not a normal time. We are in the midst of a global pandemic. America is adopting desperate measures—like voluntary quarantines and the elimination of communal events and gatherings—to slow the infection rate of COVID-19. Many of these measures are hurting the broader economy and will create societal pain down the road even if they work. 
Voting is a communal activity...
No, you asshole, it's not a "communal activity" like a maypole dance (in fact if this stupid country had its shit together we could be doing it all by mail) -- it's the difference between us and North Korea. People fought and died so we could keep doing it. I realize when your stock portfolio is the biggest thing in your life, and you only adopt the wounded This Is My Country tone to get some grubby result you think you can con people into giving you, that might be hard to remember.
This would be a risk worth taking if we were talking about a real election with real implications for the future. Our democracy is precious and we should not allow it to be overrun by emergencies.
But since my candidate's ahead let's all shelter in place while Biden sleepwalks into a woodchipper. Oh, Last tries to blame the struggle over the Ohio primary on Sanders, too:
America is very lucky, we will not add a constitutional crisis to our health crisis and our economic crisis. 
But by continuing his dead-end campaign, Bernie Sanders gave us a little preview of what the weeks ahead might look like. If he continues to persist, there may be more instances where governors show that they can do what they will with the timing of elections, the courts be damned. Instances that—I promise you—the biggest chief executive of them all will be watching.
Our democracy looks pretty safe but if someone insists on actually exercising it, the jig will be up and it will be all his fault, Bernie! I imagine Last also blames Hillary Clinton's defeat on women's suffrage -- if they'd never had the vote, she'd never have been in a position to lose.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

LET'S NOT BICKER AND ARGUE ABOUT WHO KILLED WHO.

I see Fatso's really working the Blame the Chinese/Blame the Media angle, with the help of this shill from ONAN Media:
"Mr. Burns, your campaign seems to have the momentum of a runaway freight train. Why are you so popular?" Except Burns never blamed his own ineptitude on the Heathen Chinee. Maybe thanks to the moderating influence of Smithers!

Wingnut outlets have incorporated Trump's preferred racist usage into their editorial style guides, eschewing the scientists' COVID-19 and coronavirus for racially-specific nicknames ("Democrat Dark Money Groups To Spend Millions Politicizing Wuhan Flu" -- The Federalist). They're also doing their traditional response to accusations of racism, saying you're the Real Racist for noticing ("The Media’s Appalling Fixation on Trump’s Use of 'Chinese Virus'" -- Daily Signal). And their websites like RedState look like this:


Some of the more slippery ones have tried a bank shot. Take torture enthusiast Andrew C. McCarthy at The Hill, who defends Trump on the grounds that he limited entry to Chinese nationals in January:
The fact that Wuhan province was the source of the virus was the dispositive factor in the president’s decision in late January to restrict entry into the United States by foreigners who had been in China the preceding 14 days. If you had been consuming only the media coverage over the past week, you’d think that was just common sense. But because media coverage prioritizes political spin over information, the first reports conveyed caterwauling about Trump’s purported xenophobia, his knee-jerk overreaction based on a supposedly deep-seated hostility to non-white populations.
Trump's proclamation seems not to have done a fuck of a lot of good, as our COVID-19 cases are blossoming on an Italian pace. And after Trump's many efforts to specifically keep Latinos and Muslims out of the country, I should think his "deep-seated hostility to non-white populations" is beyond debate.
Today, Trump’s decision seems prescient. Indeed, it may even have been insufficiently swift and expansive. (Many other nations since have been included, and now are imposing their own border restrictions.) In any event, the president will not get credit for sound decisiveness. To be sure, some of this is because he is fairly accused of squandering much of the benefit by pooh-poohing the virus in his rhetoric.
Ha ha, "rhetoric" -- not dismantling the pandemic task force, not lying about our preparedness and the availability of tests until it was too late, but that lovable rough-edged gift of gab to which conservatives allude to distract from the fact that the man is not an edgy insult comic but a Leader of the Free World too brain-damaged and venal to properly lead anything but a racism cheering section.

Next step: Demanding chow fun be called "Freedom Noodles."