Rising Up

Listen, I don’t mean to be partisan and all,
but I think that unidentifiable federal agents yanking people off the streets
and throwing them into unmarked vans is bad.

Jared Holt, Right Wing Watch

“Our whole reason for lobbying for looser gun laws and amassing huge personal arsenals of weapons these past years was so that we could ensure the security of a free state and protect the people from an oppressive government. And then it actually happened, and the whole rising up against a tyrannical government thing just totally slipped our minds, which is a little embarrassing,” a sheepish NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre said.

– “NRA Accidentally Forgets to Rise Up Against Tyrannical Government
The Shovel (a satire site)

This week’s featured post is “Who Are Those Guys?

This week everybody was talking about Trump’s secret police

Unidentifiable federal agents working for no agency in particular have been jumping out of unmarked vans and abducting people off the streets in Portland. I’ve gotten used to a lot of things since Trump became president, but this seems like a big deal to me.

I’m fairly proud of the featured post. It’s way long, but it tells the complete story, from the Pentagon’s reluctance to suppress protesters in DC in early June through the creation of federal law enforcement units that are willing to do just that. And for those of you who worry about Trump refusing to leave office after he loses in November, this is a key component of that scenario: I don’t believe the Army would support a coup, but what about these Little Green Men?

and the virus

Things keep getting worse. Last week it was debatable whether or not we had 70,000 new cases in a single day. This week we did it more than once. Deaths continue to rise, peaking at 963 on Friday. I will be surprised if we don’t break 1,000 deaths in a day this week, something that hasn’t happened since June 4.

One model has us hitting 224K deaths by November 1.

When you sort the world coronavirus data by “deaths per million population” the US is currently #10 at 433. We’ll probably eventually pass most of the European countries ahead of us (France, Sweden, Italy Spain, United Kingdom, Belgium), all of whom have done a much better job controlling the virus recently after initially being overwhelmed by it. But Latin American countries behind us (Peru, Brazil, Mexico, Ecuador, Panama) are gaining, and Chile is already #9. So even as things get worse for us, we could move down the list.

A big study from South Korea has answered a number of questions about children’s role in the potential spread of Covid-19. Children under 10 are less likely than adults to spread the virus, but they do spread it. And older children may be even more likely to spread the virus than adults.

Both results should make communities think twice about reopening schools. If you’re somewhere with very few cases — Vermont, say — it might make sense to open schools full-time (with some new rules), test frequently, and see what happens. But in a hotspot like Florida or Texas, it’s crazy.

Meanwhile, Kellyanne Conway dodged a question about whether 14-year-old Baron Trump will attend classes in the fall. “That’s a personal decision,” she said.

Apparently Trump really wasn’t kidding when he said he wanted to “slow the testing down“. As the next stimulus bill is being written in the Senate (the House passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act back in May, but Mitch McConnell has been sitting on it), the White House is objecting to $25 billion to help the states do more testing, as well as an additional $10 billion for the CDC. Trump isn’t fighting with the Democrats here, he’s fighting with Republican senators.

The two political parties are far apart on a number of contentious issues, such as unemployment insurance, but the conflict between Trump administration officials and Senate Republicans on money for testing and other priorities is creating a major complication even before bipartisan negotiations get under way.

Trump’s attacks on testing — which every public-health expert says is basic to controlling the virus — have been getting more and more demented in recent weeks. A week ago he told a reporter: “When you test, you create cases. So we’ve created cases.” He has refused to acknowledge that the leap in the national case-count (from 20,000 a day in early June to 76,403 on Friday) means that the virus is spreading.

In addition to impeding testing, the administration is also seizing control of the data. The Department the Health and Human services sent a memo to hospitals and acute care facilities on July 10:

As of July 15, 2020, hospitals should no longer report the Covid-19 information in this document to the National Healthcare Safety Network site. Please select one of the above methods to use instead.

NHSN is run by the CDC. The replacement methods go directly to HHS. Various critics have claimed that NHSN needs to be improved, but it’s hard to come up with a motive for moving it to HHS, other than to sideline the “Deep State” civil servants at CDC and allow political appointees at HHS to play games with the data. The NYT:

Public health experts have long expressed concerns that the Trump administration is politicizing science and undermining its health experts, in particular the C.D.C.; four of the agency’s former directors, spanning both Republican and Democratic administrations, said as much in an opinion piece published Tuesday in The Washington Post. The data collection shift reinforced those fears.

MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace observed that it is “quite a coincidence” that Trump is trying to control the data at a moment when the data is publicly demonstrating his failure.

Josh Marshall provides a sobering graph: If you look at the daily new cases of Covid-19 in the 49 states other than New York, the curve flattens at about 20,000 per day from early April to mid-June, and then takes off. Without New York, national case-counts never did start going down.

Hundreds of people rallied at the Ohio statehouse Saturday to protest against mask mandates. Ohio doesn’t even have a statewide mandate, but some counties do.

and the economic consequences of the virus

The extended benefits in the CARES Act (that passed in March) will expire at the end of July, less that two weeks from now. Unless Congress acts, some people will lose benefits completely, while others will lose the extra $600 per week the CARES Act provided.

The House passed the next stimulus bill, the HEROES Act, back in May. But Republicans in the Senate have held on to the fantasy that the virus would go away and the economy would have a V-shaped recovery. By the end of July, they imagined, jobs would be plentiful and that extra $600 would just encourage lazy people to stay unemployed.

Now it’s getting down to the wire, and Mitch McConnell still has a lot to negotiate with his own caucus and the White House before he can start dealing with Nancy Pelosi. Paul Krugman comments:

My sense is that Republicans have a delusional view of their own bargaining position. They don’t seem to realize that they, not the Democrats, will be blamed if millions are plunged into penury because relief is delayed; to the extent that they’re willing to act at all, they still imagine that they can extract concessions like a blanket exemption of businesses from pandemic liability.

Maybe the prospect of catastrophe will concentrate Republican minds, but it seems more likely that we’re heading for weeks if not months of extreme financial distress for millions of Americans, distress that will hobble the economy as a whole. This disaster didn’t need to happen; but you can say the same thing about most of what has gone wrong in this country lately.

and John Lewis

Lewis died Friday at the age of 80. He had announced in December that he was suffering from pancreatic cancer. His NYT obituary is a good summary of his long career in the civil rights movement and in Congress.

Testimonials have poured in from all directions. Barack Obama’s ended like this:

It’s fitting that the last time John and I shared a public forum was at a virtual town hall with a gathering of young activists who were helping to lead this summer’s demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Afterwards, I spoke to him privately, and he could not have been prouder of their efforts — of a new generation standing up for freedom and equality, a new generation intent on voting and protecting the right to vote, a new generation running for political office. I told him that all those young people — of every race, from every background and gender and sexual orientation — they were his children. They had learned from his example, even if they didn’t know it. They had understood through him what American citizenship requires, even if they had heard of his courage only through history books.

Not many of us get to live to see our own legacy play out in such a meaningful, remarkable way. John Lewis did. And thanks to him, we now all have our marching orders — to keep believing in the possibility of remaking this country we love until it lives up to its full promise.

The most embarrassing testimonial came from Marco Rubio, who posted a picture of himself with Elijah Cummings. I guess old bald black guys all look alike to Marco. The tweet was taken down, but not before Rubio was roundly pilloried.

Truthfully, I’m not sure I could have correctly identified pictures of Lewis and Cummings. But I never met either man, and if I were going to post a photo of myself with one or the other, I’d stop and think about when that photo was taken and what we might have been talking about. Rubio clearly did not, and neither did his staff — which testifies to a certain sloppiness in thought and action.

Follow-up: Apparently Alaska’s Senator Dan Sullivan made the same mistake.

CNN lays out what happens next in Georgia’s 5th congressional district: Lewis had already won renomination, but the Democratic Party can replace his name on the ballot. It has to be done quickly or not at all, so there’s no time for a convention or primary. The state Democratic Party’s executive committee is meeting at noon today to pick a nominee. The district is solidly Democratic, so whomever they pick will probably go to Congress.

As for the remainder of Lewis’ current term, Republican Governor Kemp would have to declare a special election. That may or may not happen in time for Lewis’ replacement to be sworn in before the term ends.

and you also might be interested in …

The  home of a Latina federal judge in Newark was attacked yesterday afternoon. Her 20-year-old son was killed and her husband wounded, but Judge Esther Salas was not hurt. The shooter hasn’t been caught, and no one knows if Salas was the target or if so, why. But I have to wonder if the right-wing diatribes against “liberal judges” will eventually lead to more of this.

Mary Trump telling Rachel Maddow that she has heard Trump use the n-word and anti-semitic slurs got way more attention than I would have given it. It would be more amazing to me if she hadn’t heard him use that kind of language in private settings. I mean, we know he has referred to African nations and Haiti as “shit-hole countries” in front of members of Congress. And we know he has a long history of racism, which he appears to have inherited from his father.

Meanwhile, Tucker Carlson (a man sometimes pitched as the next leader of the Trumpist movement) took a previously unannounced fishing vacation after his top writer, Blake Neff, was caught making racist and sexist social-media posts under a pseudonym. (Apparently he’d been doing it for years.) Neff was the guy who wrote Carlson’s scripts, which Carlson only edited. I have to wonder how much input Neff had into rants like the one where Carlson claimed white supremacy is “not a real problem in America” and “a hoax”.

Carlson’s show, like a lot of Trump’s speeches, specializes in walking the line between deniable racism and undeniable racism. He has become the primary voice of white grievance on television, and white supremacist groups are among his biggest fans. That the guy writing Tucker’s scripts would take his bigotry off the leash anonymously on social media is about as shocking as Trump saying the n-word in private.

After they were exposed, Carlson acknowledged that Neff’s posts were “wrong”. The Bleeding Cool blog then assesses the rest of his statement:

Now for those of you who think Carlson then went on to further criticize Neff, followed by acknowledging that FOX News really wasn’t news and that his show profits from creating and stoking division along racial, ethnic, religious, gender, and sexual orientation lines? Either check your respective prescriptions to make sure you’re taking the right dose or the back of your neck to make sure you’re not an alien pod person. Oh no, the brunt of Carlson’s attempt at “righteous anger” was aimed at this who (wait for it)… would actually take joy in someone who posts racist, sexist, and other offensive messages having to resign from a news program that has heavy, cult-like influence over others. Shocking, right? …

“We should also point out to the ghouls that are beating their chest in triumph at the destruction of a young man that self-righteousness also has its costs,” said Carlson, who clearly sees anyone who has issues with someone who posts racist, sexist, and other offensive messages as being “self-righteous.”

Like a lot of cancel-culture “victims”, Neff hasn’t been “destroyed”. He just lost a job he never should have had in the first place. Now that his name is out there as a white-racist martyr, I’m sure he has a big future on openly racist sites like VDare or American Renaissance.

Trump’s lie that “Biden wants to defund the police” was too much for Fox News’ Chris Wallace to let go by. Wallace in fact caught Trump in a number of lies.

The Trump campaign is a big moneymaker for Donald Trump personally. David Fahrenthold reports:

In just two days, @realdonaldtrump’s campaign pumped $380K into Trump’s private business, in 43 separate payments. Trump Org says this was for a weeklong “donor retreat,” held in early March at Mar-a-Lago. Campaign donations turned into private revenue for POTUS

The Open Secrets web site says that overall $4.1 million has been paid to the Trump Organization by Trump-related political committees, the Republican Party, and the campaigns and PACs of other Republican candidates.

and let’s close with something encouraging

Let’s take a moment to entertain an idea suggested by The Muppets and James Corden. Maybe, even during this pandemic, we really can get by with a little help from our friends.

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  • smegmatism  On July 20, 2020 at 12:59 pm

    Correction –

    “CNN lays out what happens next in South Carolina’s 5th congressional district:”

    – should be Georgia, not South Carolina.

    • weeklysift  On July 20, 2020 at 2:00 pm


    • nicknielsensc  On July 20, 2020 at 9:23 pm

      Would that South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District was solidly Democratic…which may be a possibility if the Charlotte’s southern suburbs reject the Damn Fool.

      • smegmatism  On July 21, 2020 at 8:57 am

        Having spent the better part of a decade living in the Fort Mill/Rock Hill area, I feel your frustration. Mulvaney is an embarrassment to the district.

  • David Blakeley  On July 20, 2020 at 6:18 pm

    I believe it’s “Barron” Trump.

  • krohde2014  On July 21, 2020 at 3:54 am

    Cancel culture victims aren’t in quotes and are usually on the left. One of the most famous was liberal Prof. Bret Weinstein who not only had to leave his tenured position at Evergreen College, along with his wife who was also tenured but was told at a certain point by the police that he had to leave town because there was a mob of students with weapons “hunting” for him. Generally it is not that violent, but the intimidation, silencing due to fear of censure or job loss, and actually loss of jobs is going on in liberal institutions all over the country egged on by an illiberal left that doesn’t believe in academic freedom, or freedom of the pulpit, or freedom of the press and believes that words are “violence”. It is not hate speech that these folks are targeted for but for offending the “woke”.

  • Nancy Rubinstein  On July 25, 2020 at 4:09 pm

    Thanks! I get by with a little help from my friends!!

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