Put President Trump in a room full of scientists, and he’s going to start to feel very insecure. Put him in a crisis he can’t boast his way out of, and things are going to go very badly.
That’s what we now face with the coronavirus. The crisis is not happening only in a foreign country, or in just one spot in America. It threatens to touch all of us. By all accounts, the president’s handling of it so far has been somewhere between awful and disastrous. Worst of all, from his perspective, it threatens the reality distortion field he works so hard to maintain.
Trump is plainly more concerned with how the virus affects his public image than how it affects Americans’ health. He blurted out that he wanted to keep a cruise ship off the coast of California “because I like the numbers being where they are. I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship.”
But when Trump feels the need to remind you that he is related to a smart person, it’s pretty obvious that he’s afraid people might not think he’s smart enough.
We are tracking the COVID-19 spread in real-time on our interactive dashboard with data available for download. We are also modeling the spread of the virus. Preliminary study results are discussed on our blog.
(Via Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins CSSE.)
First, I am disappointed that more Americans don’t consider Elizabeth Warren as the best choice for president. She seems to me the most likely to get a progressive agenda through Congress.
Second, I worry that Joe Biden, the Democratic establishment’s favorite, also known as Credit Card Joe, will not beat Donald Trump. Biden reminds me of Al Gore, of John Kerry, of Michael Dukakis, even of Walter Mondale. And of course, Hillary Clinton. All centrist, corporate friendly Democrats, supported by the Democratic establishment, who won the Democratic Party’s nomination, but then lost because of these same reasons. Maybe I’m wrong: I don’t know how Biden would actually perform when going up against the Trump/GOP Wurlitzer. Biden does have a tendency to misspeak, make gaffes, but then there is Trump who lies nearly every sentence he utters. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Third, if Biden does pull out the nomination, of course I’ll vote for him in the general election, just as I did for all those mentioned above1 but not enthusiastically. Donald Trump is a threat to our entire planet, and a threat to the continuation of America as a nation of democratic ideals; other than marching in the street, voting against Trump is our only recourse to removing him.
The Guardian U.K.:
The former vice-president Joe Biden surged to Super Tuesday victories in nine states, sweeping the south and taking the key state of Texas in a remarkable comeback on the most pivotal night of the Democratic presidential primary race.
His rival, Bernie Sanders, won the crucial state of California, according to the Associated Press, where 415 delegates – more than any other state in the Democratic primary – were up for grabs. Exit polls indicated that the Vermont senator had an approximate 15-point lead, though final results may not be confirmed for days.
The win gave Sanders a much-needed boost after a rejuvenated Biden swept the southern states of Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee and Oklahoma, propelled by black voters, and scored surprise wins in Massachusetts and Minnesota, before topping the winning streak with the delegate-rich state of Texas.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was the first Democratic 2020 hopeful to take a direct swing at former Vice President Joe Biden since he got into the race, accusing him of being “on the side of the credit companies” in a fight that launched her political career a decade ago.
Warren’s quarrel with Biden isn’t personal. It’s about a 2005 bankruptcy bill he supported as a senator. Warren opposed the bill so vehemently that its passage inspired her transition from a Harvard bankruptcy law professor, who studied middle-class economics, to a senator and now a presidential hopeful.
“I got in that fight because [families] just didn’t have anyone and Joe Biden was on the side of the credit card companies,” Warren said after an April rally in Iowa. “It’s all a matter of public record.”
The bill made it harder for individuals to file for bankruptcy and get out of debt, a legal change that credit card companies and many major retailers had championed for years. The bill passed Congress with large majorities, but most Democratic senators, including Barack Obama, voted no. Biden voted yes and was widely seen at the time as one of the bill’s major Democratic champions.
To Warren, bankruptcy is fundamentally about bad luck rather than irresponsible behavior. The changes were mostly unnecessary additional burdens for struggling families that would enrich powerful special interests. Supporters of the changes, like Biden, believed that too many people were filing for bankruptcy — often people with more ability to repay their debts — a problem that was costly not just to creditors but to ordinary nonbankrupt consumers.
The United States is one of the few wealthy democracies in the world that does not mandate paid sick leave. As a result, roughly 25 percent of American workers have none, leaving many with little choice but to go into work while ill, transmitting infections to co-workers, customers and anyone they might meet on the street or in a crowded subway car.
As a nation, in other words, we are sicker than we need to be. That reality could make a widespread coronavirus outbreak here worse than it would be in a comparable country that takes sick leave seriously.
The absence of paid sick days creates “a near-guarantee that workers will defy public health warnings and trudge into their workplaces, regardless of symptoms,” as Karen Scott, a doctoral student studying workplace issues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, put it recently in The Conversation. “In this way, a manageable health crisis can spiral out of control.”
The service industry — comprising the people who prepare our meals and care for our children — has one of the nation’s lowest rates of paid sick leave in the private sector at 58 percent. The CDC reports, for instance, that “1 in 5 food service workers have reported working at least once in the previous year while sick with vomiting or diarrhea.”
I’m still rather blasé about covid-19, in general. However, the US is ripe for a major health disaster, especially after years of GOP cost cutting in areas like CDC and related budgets.
Having a robust health care for all citizens would help immeasurably.
And retrain your brain to not touch your face:
Like all our habits, touching our face has been reinforced over time: It begins with an itch or an irritation, which feels better, temporarily, when scratched or rubbed. That reaction then becomes a tic, Sawyer said.
But passing unseen are the legions of germs living on your hands — picked up from your phone, keyboard, a doorknob or elsewhere — hitching a ride on the way to your throat, sinuses and lungs.
Not touching your facial mucous membranes, an area known as the “T-zone,” is perhaps the most important step you can take to prevent an infection, Sawyer said.
“It’s the one behavior that would be better than any vaccine ever created,” he said. “Just stop this simple behavior. Stop picking, licking, biting, rubbing — it’s the most effective way to prevent a pandemic.”
People are more likely to get the virus by picking it up from a surface and touching their face, than they are to breathe in droplets directly from someone who is infected, Sawyer said.
Speaking of musicians I don’t know much about, I had a dream about Gene Chandler last night. I have an album of his, a compilation of his mid-to-late 1960s tracks called Soul Master, and a couple of miscellaneous tracks. I know he was affiliated with the great Curtis Mayfield, and was also from Chicago, but other than that, don’t know much off the top of my head.
Gene Chandler (born Eugene Drake Dixon on July 6, 1937) is an American singer, songwriter, music producer and record label executive. Nicknamed “The Duke of Earl” or simply “The Duke”, he is best known for his most successful songs “Duke of Earl” and “Groovy Situation” and his association with The Dukays, the Impressions and Curtis Mayfield.
Gene Chandler was born Eugene Drake Dixon in Chicago, Illinois, on July 6, 1937. He attended Englewood High School on Chicago’s south side. He began performing during the early 1950s with the band The Gaytones. In 1957, he joined The Dukays, with James Lowe, Shirley Jones, Earl Edwards and Ben Broyles, soon becoming their lead singer. After his draft into the U.S. Army he returned to Chicago in 1960 and rejoined the Dukays.
Anyway, I dreamt that Gene Chandler, before he was successful, was friends with Jimi Hendrix before he was successful. This could actually be true, but I don’t know for certain. Jimi Hendrix did tour as a guitarist with a lot of the R&B acts of the time. In my dream, Gene Chandler had a day job which required him to go into a studio and record 10 or 12 new bass guitar riffs for inclusion in someone else’s song, or other commercial purposes. In my dream, Jimi Hendrix sat in for a day, substituting for Gene Chandler. Chandler’s riffs were straight forward R&B shuffles, but Hendrix came up with some weird, funky, super catchy riffs. I wish I could recall what they were, I’d probably have fun playing them, if I had a bass guitar.
Finally saw the long-awaited and long anticipated Deadwood film. The original HBO show remains among my favorites of all time, especially the first two seasons. By the third season, tensions between HBO and David Milch1 caused the season to have some gaps in the story. But still, watch all three seasons if you haven’t already, or haven’t watched recently.
The film is rather bittersweet, several of the actors have died in the 13 year interim of the end of the tv show in 2006 and 2019, and mortality is one of the main themes, no doubt informed by David Milch‘s own illness. Still, I was happy to spend another 90 minutes with those who survived.
Powers Boothe, Ricky Jay and Ralph Richeson died between the conclusion of the series and production of the film. Boothe’s small role in an early version of the script was written out. Titus Welliver, who portrayed Silas Adams, was unable to appear in the film due to scheduling conflicts as he was filming his Amazon Prime series Bosch. Garret Dillahunt and Larry Cedar, who played characters who were killed in the original series, returned as background characters; Dillahunt plays a drunk who throws something at Hearst, yelling: “Hope you die in the street, like my dad did.”
I don’t know much about the band called Dire Straits, nor much about its leader, Mark Knopfler, but the song, Sultans of Swing is certainly one of the best things to emerge in 1979, at least to my ears.
Here’s a version to revive your memory:
The lyrics were inspired by a performance of a jazz band playing in the corner of an almost empty pub in Deptford, South London. At the end of their performance, the lead singer announced their name, the Sultans of Swing; Knopfler found the contrast between the group’s dowdy appearance and surroundings and their grandiose name amusing.
The song is set in common time, with a tempo of 149 beats per minute. It is in the key of D minor with Knopfler’s vocal range spanning G2 to D4. It uses a chord progression of Dm–C–B♭–A for the verses, and F–C–B♭ for the choruses.The riff uses of triads, particularly second inversions. The song employs the Andalusian cadence or diatonic phrygian tetrachord. All the chords are compatible with a D natural minor scale, except for the A major triad, which suggests a D harmonic minor scale. Knopfler used similar triads on “Lady Writer”.
In a development that got lost in all the jabber about the Nevada caucuses, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor used a dissent in a case that highlighted one of the worst ideas ever to slime its way out of Stephen Miller’s twisted mind to call out her Republican colleagues for being Republican hacks. Back in August, the administration* sought to limit immigration through something called the “public charge” rule. In brief, this means that someone can be denied the right to come here if that person could potentially take advantage of our pathetically shabby social-safety net. Resistance to this idea was loud and immediate. People pointed out that this was exactly the argument the government had used to send Jews who were fleeing Hitler back to Europe.
…Make no mistake. In this dissent, Justice Sotomayor is calling out the new 5-4 conservative majority—which includes Chief Justice John Roberts—for being White House errand boys. This is an astonishing development. You simply do not ever see this kind of attack on the Court’s objectivity from inside the temple. And the hell of it all is that she’s right. There was no reason for the Court to act so precipitously on this noxious principle except to do the White House’s bidding, and, by doing the White House’s bidding in this way, the 5-4 majority submarined the authority of the appellate system all the way down through the federal judiciary.
There was a time when I actually believed that Roberts cared enough about the institution over which he presides that he never would let it become an adjunct chop-shop to a criminal enterprise. Madame Justice Sotomayor just told me how wrong I was. I stand corrected.
[The Dotard] trumpets that he is the most bodacious barrier builder of all, yet he can’t seem to get his one “big, beautiful wall” funded or even taken seriously, much less built. Throughout his presidency, Donald Trump has continuously stamped his tiny feet and demanded that Congress shell out more than 10 billion of our taxpayers’ dollars to erect a monster of a wall across some 2,000 miles of the U.S. border with Mexico. Like a flimflamming snake-oil peddler, he rants that his magnificent edifice would magically keep “aliens,” “rapists,” “murderers,” “terrorists,” “drugs” and “cartels” from entering the U.S. from the south. But even when his own party controlled both houses of Congress, the presidency and the courts, his grand scheme went unloved, unfunded and unbuilt.
Still, he kept insisting … and persisting. In January, he directed his Customs and Border Control officials to put up a short section of his 30-foot-tall wall on the border at Calexico, California, to show the world how effective the Trump bulwark would be. Alas, though, the thing blew over! Not from a hurricane-force storm but from moderate winds topping out at only 37 miles an hour. The metal panels flung over into Mexico. Embarrassing.
A month later, a climbing group in Kentucky built a replica of that wall and held an up-and-over competition. Winning time was 13.1 seconds! Sixty-five competitors easily topped it, including an 8-year-old girl and a guy who climbed it one-handed while juggling various items with his other hand.
Would be amusing if it wasn’t so sad. What else could Wall money be spent on? Nearly anything would be more useful…
El Paso Times reports:
Smugglers in Juárez have engineered camouflage hook-and-ladders made of rebar that blend in so well with the border wall that it can be hard to detect, according to U.S. Border Patrol. The ladders are the same rust brown color as the mesh panels or steel beams of the fence.
El Paso’s urban stretch of border is littered with the rusted rebar ladders at the base on both sides — ladders lying in wait on the Mexican side, ladders pulled down by border agents or abandoned by smugglers on the U.S. side. One of the rebar ladders was poking out of a dumpster in a lot near the Chihuahuita neighborhood on Thursday.
The ladders appear to be made with two poles of 3/8-inch rebar and four thinner poles, outfitted with steps and bent over at the end in a U, to hook on the top of the wall. It’s the sort of cubed rebar support structure used in construction in Mexico, called castillo.
Six meters of castillo costs 99 pesos, or about $5.30, at the Hágalo — or Do It Yourself — True Value hardware store in Juárez. There is no indication that smugglers are shopping at that store in particular.
Romero said the rebar ladders started turning up in large numbers in the El Paso sector last year in May, around the time that construction of the most recent replacement wallfinished downtown. They’ve been a go-to method for scaling the fence in the urban footprint since.
A pardon for Roger Stone would be the capstone of the White House’s extraordinary interference in this legal case. Attorney General William Barr already created a firestorm by overriding the sentencing guidelines of the original prosecutors in the case, who resigned in protest.
Trump’s use of his pardon power can be distinguished from the other scandals of his presidency in that it is a perfectly legal, indeed constitutional, form of corruption. The fact a president can pardon his own criminal associates doesn’t make the action any better than actually impeachable offenses like obstructing justice or using foreign aid to advance his political fortune.
Rather, the very constitutionality of Trump’s actions makes them worse, because they show how the legal powers of the presidency are themselves ripe for abuse. Trump, by being bolder than his predecessors, has shown how easily a president can undermine the rule of law without even breaking any laws.