Lost Villages

No Sift next week. The next new articles will appear on December 7.

I spent all weekend triple checking that there is *not* a lost, enchanted village in Pennsylvania with 90,000 Trump voters that we forgot to count.

Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman

This week’s featured post is “Can I Get Over Donald Trump?

This week everybody was still talking about the loser of the presidential election

Today we’ll get a reading on how long it’s going to take to quell the Trump coup. Michigan’s four member election board meets today to certify the election results saying that Biden won. One of the two Republican members says he’ll vote against certification until an audit is done, and if the other Republican agrees, the courts will have to step in.

The problem with [the board member’s] request, which mirrors that of the RNC and the Michigan Republican Party in their recent letter to the board, is an audit or investigation into election results cannot be done until election results are certified. On top of that, asking for an audit is outside the purview of the board, whose only role is to canvass and certify election results.

So we’re waiting to find out if a second board member will use authority the board doesn’t have to attempt to overturn an election Biden won by 154,000 votes, without evidence of any wrongdoing whatsoever.

Trump’s lawsuits continue to get thrown out of court. This ruling by a federal court in Pennsylvania is about as amusing as judicial rulings ever get. It reads like the comments that a very patient professor writes on a first-year law student’s essay that he has given a D.

Again and again, the judge goes back to basic legal definitions (what is “standing”, for example), and explains why the Trump complaint falls apart. There is no need to have a hearing on evidence, because the Trump campaign has not stated a case that evidence could prove.

Even Chris Christie is calling Trump’s legal team “a national embarrassment”. Trump ought to be ashamed of stuff like this, but of course he never is.

The Republican solidarity behind Trump’s coup attempt is starting to erode. But the extent to which it still holds together is frightening. We used to have two parties that both supported American democracy. Now we just have one.

How much longer do we have to keep this up?

Jimmy Fallon’s people put together a Trump concession speech.

Chris Hayes points to the longer game Trump might be playing:

Apropos of nothing, the Confederacy’s refusal to actually accept defeat and instead embrace a Lost Cause narrative of betrayal was a key aspect of its successful efforts to wrench back one-party totalitarian control of the South, which it did both through violence and propaganda.

and the virus

Covid-19 continues to spread out of control, with new records being set just about every day. Two weeks ago I wrote:

It’s a reasonable guess that by next month we’ll be hitting 2,000 deaths in a day.

That happened Thursday. This week we’ll probably see our first 200,000-new-case day.

At The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal and Whet Moser look at the relatively inflexible relationship between cases and deaths: At first, improvements in treatment lowered the percentage of infected people who died, but that progress has just about stopped.

The U.S. health-care system has not reduced the deadliness of the coronavirus since July, according to a new estimate by a prominent COVID-19 researcher, which accounts for the lags in public reporting of cases and deaths. Instead, the virus has, with ruthless regularity, killed at least 1.5 percent of all Americans diagnosed with COVID-19 over the past four months. …

Because the case-fatality rate has stayed fixed for so long and there are now so many reported cases, predicting the virus’s death toll in the near term has become a matter of brutal arithmetic: 150,000 cases a day, times 1.5 percent, will lead to 2,250 daily deaths. In the spring, the seven-day average of daily deaths rose to its highest point ever on April 21, when it reached 2,116 deaths. With cases rising as fast as they are, the U.S. could cross the threshold of 2,000 daily deaths within a month. Without a miraculous improvement in care, the United States is about to face the darkest period of the pandemic so far.

The researcher estimates the lag between case numbers and death numbers to be about 22 days. So even if cases leveled off today, we can expect deaths to continue going up for at least the next 22 days.

Beating this surge is not rocket science, it’s a question of political will. CNN reports:

The [United States] is now in the same situation that France, Belgium and the Czech Republic were last month, when rapidly rising infections put their health care systems within weeks of failure. But these countries have managed to avert, for now, the worst-case scenario, in which people die because hospitals are full and they can’t access the care they need to survive. They slowed down the epidemics by imposing lockdowns and strict mask mandates. Despite the clear evidence from Europe, the White House is still opposing new restrictions.

It’s easy to believe that Covid can be conquered by authoritarian governments like China. But Stephanie Nolen reports from the not-so-distant, not-so-exotic city of Halifax.

This morning, my children went to school — school, in an old brick building, where they lined up to go in the scuffed front doors. I went to work out at the gym, the real gym, where I huffed and puffed in a sweaty group class. And a few days ago, my partner and I hosted a dinner party, gathering eight friends around the dining room table for a boisterous night that went too late. Remember those?

Where I’m living, we gather without fear. Life is unfolding much as it did a year ago. This magical, virus-free world is just one long day’s drive away from the Empire State Building — in a parallel dimension called Nova Scotia.

How did they manage that?

Our coronavirus lockdown began swiftly in March and was all-encompassing. The provincial borders were slammed shut. In Nova Scotia, even public hiking trails were closed, a big deal for a population used to the freedom to head into the wilderness at will. …

Public health officials, not politicians, set the policy here about what opens. And people (mostly) follow the rules on closures and gatherings and masks. “The message has been that we need to do it to keep each other safe,” [Nova Scotia’s public health chief Robert Strang] told me. “I think there’s something about our culture, our collective ethic, if you will, that means people accept that.”

Collective ethic? Keeping each other safe? It’s that damn socialism!

It’s also maintaining a long-term view: By accepting some harsh restrictions early, the Nova Scotians achieved far more freedom than we have now.

From the other side of the socialist/capitalist divide, Sarah Jones writes about her grandfather’s Covid death.

Sick, in and out of hospitals, and possessed of limited means, my grandfather belonged to a sacrificial category of person in America. This category has always existed, but the pandemic has exposed it and expanded its borders. It has become so difficult to pretend that American free-market capitalism is anything but brutal that conservatives have largely given up trying. … Some conservatives, including Trump, may consider this an acceptable sacrifice to make on behalf of the economy. But I don’t believe anyone benefits from mass death and suffering, or that the elderly and infirm should be made to feel like detritus while they are still alive, as my grandfather was.

and Thanksgiving

This has gotten truly crazy. I’m used to conservatives refusing to take the virus seriously and responding like spoiled children to any suggestion that they shouldn’t do whatever they want. But now the idea is out there that liberals are against Thanksgiving, and you have to “save” Thanksgiving by having as big an indoor, maskless get-together as you can manage.

The “liberals” in question are mainly at the CDC, which is urging Americans to stay home for the holiday.

The White House, meanwhile, is referring to such Thanksgiving advice as “Orwellian”. Scott Atlas, the unqualified doctor who somehow has gotten control of the Coronavirus Task Force,

mocked the idea that older relatives would be put at risk over the holiday weekend, although there is ample medical evidence that seniors are much more likely to become ill if they are exposed to the virus and to die if they become sick.

“This kind of isolation is one of the unspoken tragedies of the elderly, who are now being told, ‘Don’t see your family at Thanksgiving,’” Dr. Atlas said. “For many people, this is their final Thanksgiving, believe it or not.”

Of course, if we do all have big Thanksgiving get-togethers, it will be the final Thanksgiving for a lot more people.

The White House itself announced plans for large in-person Christmas and Hanukkah events.

But the most over-the-top message came from conservative podcaster Charlie Kirk:

The Left has always hated Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving can be interpreted as a religious holiday, if you believe in giving thanks to a Creator. But they hate Thanksgiving because they believe there is nothing you should be thankful for in America. This is an awful place. It is cancerous, rotten to the core. Tear it all down. Burn it from within. And why would you be thankful?

To be fair, there is a discussion among people with a sense of history and justice — does that necessarily make them liberals? — about whether the fundamental dishonesty of the “First Thanksgiving” myth (in view of the ensuing Native American genocide) poisons the whole holiday. But I’ve never heard anybody of any political persuasion find fault with the idea of encouraging gratitude. Whether you believe in a Creator or not, it seems healthy to take a day to reflect on the good things in our lives and acknowledge that we didn’t make all of them ourselves.

In fact, the person who I think would be most likely to object to such a holiday is the Great Orange Menace: Why should a Creator get any of the credit for the marvelous life he has built for himself?

which got me thinking about Covid Carols

The thought of Thanksgiving at home without visitors, followed by Christmas at home without visitors, filled me with a resentment that had to be let out somehow. I have Facebook friends who apparently feel the same way, so we’ve been collaborating on Covid Carols. The group is getting real close to a presentable version of “The 12 Days of Covid”.

Sadly, caroling in the ICU will not be possible this year. Maybe we can do one of those Zoom-choir things.

Having worked on a carol, I had to google the idea. It turns out we’re not the first the think of it. And while the Center for Congregational Song’s completed carols are more polished than the ones we’re developing, there’s something very satisfying about writing your own, especially in long-distance collaboration. The impropriety of it is a giant fuck-you to the whole situation.

So anyway, I happened to notice that the traditional carol “Do You Hear What I Hear?” traces the spread of information from one person the next. That makes it an ideal vehicle for a Covid carol. Like this:

Have You Caught What I’ve Caught?

Said the tourist to the Uber man:
“Have you caught what I’ve caught?
(Have you caught what I’ve caught?)
In a distant land, Uber man.
Have you caught what I’ve caught?
A wheeze, a sneeze,
symptoms of disease,
And I don’t know quite what it is.
I still don’t know quite what it is.”

Said the Uber man to the CEO:
“Have you caught what I’ve caught?
(Have you caught what I’ve caught?)
I’ve begun to sweat, CEO.
Have you caught what I’ve caught?
I ache, I bake,
no matter what I take.
And I really should head for home.
Yes, I really should be at home.”

Said the CEO to a vendor’s rep:
“Have you caught what I’ve caught?
(Have you caught what I’ve caught?)
Sniff this coffee for me, vendor’s rep.
Have you caught what I’ve caught?
A taste, a smell,
I really cannot tell.
It is all just the same to me.
The whole world smells the same to me.”

Said the vendor’s rep to his mother dear:
“You can’t catch what I’ve caught.
(Cannot catch what I’ve caught.)
I feel just fine, mother dear.
Worry not what I’ve caught.
A test, a test,
says I’m not my best.
But I know that it’s a mistake.
I am sure it’s all a mistake.”

Rasped the old woman in the ICU:
“Please don’t catch what I’ve caught.
(Please don’t catch what I’ve caught.)
Cinch your masks tighter, wear your gloves.
Please don’t catch what I’ve caught.
You serve, you give,
so I want you to live.
And I pray this all ends with me.
Let us pray this all ends with me.

and you also might be interested in …

This week’s discovery: the cartoons of @twisteddoodles.

Josh Marshall describes this as “a harmonic convergence of half the bad things in our society”.

Va. AG Mark Herring announces he will fight a lawsuit seeking an exemption to covid-19 restrictions so an indoor gun show with as many as 25,000 attendees can go forward at Dulles Expo Center this weekend. Group claims restrictions violate right to bear arms in Va.

The Atlantic examines the waning of America’s global influence and prestige, which Biden will have a hard time reversing.

During a week that Trump spent tweeting election conspiracy theories, 15 Asia-Pacific countries signed on to a regional trade deal spearheaded by China. Not so very long ago, the Obama administration proposed the creation of a U.S.-led transpacific trade partnership that would have bound the region to a different vision. When Trump trashed that agreement, the door was left open for Beijing.

My annual dose of humility: The NYT’s 100 notable books of the year. Given how little hanging out at bookstores I got to do this year, my totals are below even my usual anemic standards. I’ve read only one of the books, the completion of Hillary Mantel’s Cromwell trilogy, The Mirror and the Light. I’m in the middle of Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste, and I’ll almost certainly read Barack Obama’s A Promised Land and Rick Perlstein’s Reaganland eventually.

As for the rest, well, I’m imagining singing “96 Notable Books on the Shelf” to the tune of “99 Bottles of Beer”.

and let’s close with something racy

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  • nedhamson  On November 23, 2020 at 2:01 pm

    Reblogged this on Ned Hamson's Second Line View of the News and commented:
    The bad dream still nags – time to go #45.

  • Anonymous  On November 23, 2020 at 4:33 pm

    I hope you’ll post “The 12 Days of Covid” when it’s finished.

  • nolamusickitchen  On November 24, 2020 at 9:04 am

    In response to your COVID 12 Days of Christmas…I have two suggestions about who could record it. 1. Benny Grunch and The Bunch. They have a New Orleans specific version of The 12 Days called The 12 Yats of Christmas. 2. Bob Rivers Twisted Radio. Their cd Twisted Christmas has several REALLY good parodies. Either one of these groups could do justice to a good COVID Christmas carol parody. There are also many on YouTube who are doing great parodies (as you know, I’m sure). I’m excited to hear it once y’all put it out there for music makers to play with.

  • Jacqueline (Bonin) Gargiulo  On November 24, 2020 at 9:06 am

    “Apropos of nothing, the Confederacy’s refusal to actually accept defeat and instead embrace a Lost Cause narrative of betrayal was a key aspect of its successful efforts to wrench back one-party totalitarian control of the South, which it did both through violence and propaganda.”

    It is still the Confederacy, no?

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