Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Sunday, May 22, 2022

I love a parade...of horribles


By Izzy Stone
Washington Correspondent

Who doesn't love a parade?  We do! And as we get ever closer to a midterm election with everything on the line, we thought we'd get the ball rolling with a parade.

Specifically, a parade of the horribles that will happen should Republicans take the House and Senate in 2022 because their hate-addled base showed up and Democrats didn't.

Parade of horribles: coming soon thanks to you!

We hope the parade doesn't pass by, but with predictions of $6/gallon gasoline and endless whining from segments of the Democratic Party base who should know better (by definition, all of them) about the manifold shortcomings of President Biden and the nominally Democratic Congress, we're not optimistic.

As the parade warms up let's review who cares about this upcoming election:

Maybe more significantly, Democratic interest in the midterms has increased — from 50 percent of Democrats in March who indicated a high level of interest (either a “9” or “10” on a 10-point scale) to 61 percent now. That’s compared to Republicans, who were at 67 percent high interest two months ago, versus 69 percent now.  

In the interest of stirring up the 40% of Democrats who don't seem to care who wins this fall, let's strike up the band and get this party started!

1.  The impeachment of President Biden.  Every Republican vying for influence or just an interview with Tucker “Where's Mommy?” Carlson is backing this horrible, so let's start here.  Even though there's zero chance Biden can be removed (as long as 34 Democratic Senators remain alive and voting), it will be a spectacle that could run all year, dominating the headlines and cable news and setting the stage for taking Biden down in 2024.

Republicans ran this play before in 1999, and although it was a shambolic farce that revealed Republicans to be petty pious frauds, not one Republican suffered any consequences for the persecution.  Right, Lindsay?  And it dampened enthusiasm and support for Al Gore, while inspiring enough disaffected Democrats to follow the bold if demented leadership of Ralph Nader.  You remember what happened next.

What grounds would there be for passing article of impeachment against Joe Biden?  You're asking the wrong question.  The fact is that the mouth-breathing GOP base is as hot for impeachment as Madison Cawthorn was for his cousin:


With numbers like that, the Republican House won't trouble itself much with the basis for any charges against Biden.  If they do, the deep thinkers in their caucus are ready:

Today, Congresswoman [No free plugs from us – Ed.] introduced three impeachment resolutions against Joe Biden for his dereliction of duty in Afghanistan, his violations of immigration law causing a national security crisis on our Southern border, and his usurping of the Constitutional balance of power by ignoring the ruling of the Supreme Court.

Ah yes, the end of the Afghan war, which established media gasbags were telling us would define the Biden Presidency. As Hedley Lamarr would say: “Right as always, sir.”

Anyway, the point of impeaching Biden is not to remove him from office.  It's to provide hundreds of hours of free airtime to every Republican whack job in Congress to advance their own careers.  If the spectacle distracts the electorate from the corruption and subversion of Republicans, that's just an added bonus!

And that's just the beginning of the parade.

2.  Government shutdown.  We know this will happen because every time in the last 30 years when there has been a Republican Congress and a Democratic President, it has happened.  Again, although the Conventional Wisdom has it that such a shutdown is bad for Republicans, we are unaware of any elected Republican who was unelected because he or she drove our government into the buffers.

It's fun for Republicans to shut down the government, an entity they don't really have much use for, except for the part with the heavily armed guys shooting at Black protesters in the streets. If millions suffer because government aid is cut off or government initiatives, like, say, inspection of baby formula plants, are suspended, who cares?

In fact, Republicans enjoy government shutdowns because they prove the Republican talking point that government can't do anything (other than protect the lives and property of white men).  And the usual bloviators will both-sides a shut down and bemoan the lack of sensible bipartisanship that should have resulted in keeping government functioning as long as Democrats are willing to give up – their foolish opposition to asylum repeal on bogus “public health” grounds.

If you think that no one would be dim enough to spout nonsense like this after Republicans proved themselves in favor of overthrowing democracy, then read for yourself the musings of a proud Brandeis grad and retired columnist who married into a real estate fortune in the May 22 New York Times  (We don't link to pisspoor content anymore).

And if you don't think Republicans will hesitate to shut down the US Government for any f***in' stupid reason, we call your attention to ancient history (December 2021) as recounted in The Guardian:

Could there be a worse reason to shut down the Government?  If there is, Congressional Republicans will find it!

Where there's a shutdown there's a ....

3.  Debt default.  We know Republicans will cause the United States to default on its debt in a time of global political, military, and economic crisis because, once again, they've done it every time they hold Congress and a Democrat squats (in GOP eyes) in the White House.

During the Obama administration, the price for raisinig the debt ceiling was a ridiculous set of budget caps that proved so unworkable they were quietly abandoned after causing years of havoc and suffering.

Although Dems can be justly accused of learning slowly, they've caught on that there's no point to playing this game and we suspect the Biden Administration will respond to Republican extortion with a polite finger.

The resulting financial chaos will of course be blamed on both sides, but to Republicans any economic calamity is only pure gold for their 2024 campaign to win or steal the Presidency.  Wall Street titans will rumble about how bad a debt default is, but the trailer-trash MAGA base (many of whom live on ironclad public pensions) doesn't care what Jamie Dimon thinks, for f***ks sake.  As for Janet Yellin, who enjoys the special regard Republicans lavish on women and Jews,


one can only imagine the hearing at which her concerns were treated by House Majority Gym Jordan with the same seriousness he once gave to the cries of violated college wrestlers he coached.

There may come a time when the debt crisis starts to hit the pocketbooks of funders of Republican insanity, like Charles Koch or the Mercers, but before that happens, we'll bet that trillions of dollars of savings will have been wiped out and millions of lives will have been ruined by economic chaos.  

4.  Judges.  If Clarence Thomas strokes out in 2023 or 2024, do you think that a Republican Senator will confirm any replacement?  Or any appellate judge needed to repair bent circuits like the Fifth, Sixth, or Eleventh?

5.  Global warming.  With a Democratic House and 52 Democratic Senators Coal Mine Joe and Ditzy Kristen won't have a death grip on legislation to save the Earth from frying to a crisp.  We might even get a crash program to wean us from fossil fuels thereby ending the unbearable curse of $5 gas going out the tailpipe in summer traffic jams.

But the Democrats are so disappointing!

6.  COVID.  A million dead later, over a third of whom died to Republican opposition to vaccine and mask mandates (see below), and Republicans are still refusing to fund the measures needed to limit the death toll of the next wave of COVID, already upon us in the Northeast. 

7.  Abortion rights.  Abortion will be gone well before the election, a human, moral, and legal tragedy that may nonetheless be good for Democratic turnout.  Thinking that a Democratic Congress might be able to protect women from coathanger abortions and criminal prosecutions for leaving hellholes like Missouri to obtain health care?  Good luck with Speaker of the House Elsie Stefanik '06!

8  Duck and cover.  Somewhere in America the next victims of America's gun lust are shopping, davening, working, going to arithmetic class or just walking down the street, unaware that their lives will soon end in violence and agony.  With Republicans intent on putting assault rifle vending machines outside every school and supermarket, the number of future victims, likely to be women, Black people, Jews, or children, can only increase.

9.  Democracy.  To cover up their corruption and extremism, and to fluff their base and their Tangerine-Faced Leader, the Republican Congress will pass new legislation making it even more unlikely that future elections will be won by the candidates with the most votes.  Do you really think that Republicans won't pass every piece of s*** they can think of to block Democratic voters, and let their local henchpeople deliver Electoral College votes to the FLG? If so, why?

10.  $4 gas.  The price of gas is caused by many things.  The identity of the party in power on Capitol Hill isn't one of them.

As the parade of 2023 horribles pass by, ask yourself whether you are looking forward to the reality they portend.  If you're disappointed in the results the Democrats obtained with a narrow dysfunctional majority over the past two years, ask yourself if the Republican parade is worth making the point that you were too principled to vote Democratic.  And if you can articulate what that principle is, be sure to tell the rest of us.


Sunday, May 15, 2022

The first million

By Vincent Boom-Batz, M.D.
Medical Editor

The front page of The New York Times today looks like this:

Yes, we're number one!  The first country in the world to lose one million people to COVID.  Chalk up another victory for American exceptionalism.

If you wanted to know how many died unnecessarily, you'd have to dig deep – all the way back to NPR's report on Friday's All Things Considered:

So anti-vax drivel, propelled by the Former Loser Grifter and his retinue of whack jobs and hatemongers (a/k/a Fox “News”), led to the preventable deaths of 319,000.  That's a big number.  For comparison, 319,000 equals

  • the number of times Maureen Dowd has rubbished Hillary Clinton over the years, before she figured out that her Electoral College defeat in 2016 had led to the loss of abortion rights.
  • the number of visits by New York Times reporters to rural diners to take the pulse of white male racists since 2016
  • the number of days in Chris Sale's rehab before he starts for the Red Sox.

[They get the drift – Ed.]

And of course that's only a portion of the unnecessary death and suffering.  Although harder to quantify, there's no doubt that failure to mask in indoor spaces has led to thousands of additional deaths, no matter what Times newsletter writers and Atlantic galaxy brains say:

But a growing body of evidence — from laboratory experiments to real world studies conducted around the world — suggests that masking provides benefits in a variety of settings, including schools, scientists agreed.

“You can pick apart any one study,” said Linsey Marr, an aerosol scientist at Virginia Tech. But, she noted, “there’s overwhelming evidence that masking has a beneficial and small effect on reducing transmission in schools.” 

How about trains and planes, when you could be sitting next to a MAGA Typhoid Kevin for anywhere from two to 92 hours, depending on weather and pilot existence?

One study about workplace masking estimated that that mask mandates could have reduced deaths by 47,000 early in the pandemic (before vaccines lowered mortality rates substantially).  47,000 is a lot of people.  For comparison, 47,000 is [You are not doing this again. – Ed.] 

Had the Former Loser Grifter and Republicans in general not mobilized their MAGA idiots against vaccine and mask mandates, the current death toll from COVID would have been somewhere around 600,000, a difference of 400,000 thousand people who would still be living and not mourned and missed by their parents, children, siblings, and friends.

Now 400,000 is a big number. For comparison, 400,000 – [You're fired – Ed.]

Let's review what the world looked like before we could prevent the loss of 400,000 or more of our fellow citizens. As everything prior to say last Tuesday has gone down our collective memory hole, it take some effort to recall the frightening days of spring 2020, when the pandemic so ravaged New York that it could not handle the bodies:

The number of patients hospitalized with the coronavirus in New York State rose on Wednesday by only 200 from the previous day, officials said on Thursday, ...
But...more than 18,000 ailing patients — nearly equal to the capacity of Madison Square Garden — were still packed into New York’s hospitals, and the daily death toll was near 800 for the second day in a row, bringing the state’s total fatalities to more than 7,000....

NYC Spring 2020: the sirens never stopped

There are now so many people dying in private homes that soldiers and members of the National Guard have started to haul the bodies out in rented vans.

On Wednesday night, the New York City Medical Reserve Corps sent out an email calling for “strong, willing” volunteers to serve as “body handlers” to tag and store dead bodies in refrigerated trailers. On Thursday morning, Mr. Cuomo [Who? – Ed.] said he would authorize out-of-state funeral directors to practice in New York to alleviate the burden on their overworked colleagues.

And while New York was crushed by a tsunami of COVID disease and death that at the time had no cure or effective vaccine, here's how the Republican Tangerine-Faced Grifter Administration reacted:

we have entered a bizarre space in which [the Former Loser Grifter] makes concrete claims refuted by objective reality that people can see with their own eyes. We are supposed to wear masks and gloves: They are difficult to find on store shelves. He has claimed that everyone who wants a coronavirus test can get one, a falsehood disprovable in most circumstances by asking for one at a local clinic. He hoped the virus would “miraculously” vanish with warmer weather. It has not.

No masks. Health care workers issued garbage bags instead of real protective gear. Horse dewormer. Those were the days.

And after all that, 74,000,000 of your fellow citizens signed up for another four years of death and denial.

As we said not long ago, despite the current apathy, COVID is very much with us and we're still dying from it.  Yet because a depraved corrupt bigot did not want to smear his greasy orange bronzer when taking off a mask, the Trumpublican Party mobilized against vaccine and mask mandates, and called it...freedom.

We flew from Washington to Boston last week and wore a mask the whole time.  (The flight took about 44 minutes.)  Wearing a mask didn't feel like an unbearable intrusion on liberty to us.

Certainly not compared to the strip search ordeal that all airline passengers “volunteer” for at the TSA checkpoint.  We're still getting patted down or worse because some idiot once tried to set off a bomb in his gattkes that killed 0.0 people?   Why isn't that unbearable tyranny?  

Is it because the Tangerine-Faced Bigot never flies on an airline, so he has no reason to stir up his mouth-breathing followers?  You also won't see Tucker “Where's Mommy” Carlson queuing up in Boarding Group C, so he's not interested either.

Between judicial interference with vaccine and mask mandates, and a political climate in which every simple no-downside public health measure must run a gauntlet of entitled white men demanding to review the data sets underlying for each one, our governments have essentially given up on controlling the further spread of a pandemic that's still taking over 300 lives every single day:

Chart: The New York Times

It's not that COVID mitigation has been “politicized.” It's that Republicans have mobilized against controlling pandemic spread for political advantage.

The first million COVID deaths might have been “unimaginable,” but we can imagine easily the reason for most of the next million deaths. It's Republicans.

The public health lesson is plain: between frustrating reasonable COVID mitigation measures while ensuring that every teenage white supremacist has immediate access to high powered assault weapons and nonstop incitement to use them, the leading cause of preventable death in America is – Republicans.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

The usual suspects in the Cafe Republicain are shocked to learn the abortion game was rigged

By Meta-Content Generator A.J. Liebling with
Washington Correspondent Izzy Stone in Chevy Chase, Maryland

In case you were wondering, Chevy Chase, Maryland, across the Northwest border of Washington, D.C., is lovely this time of year.  The dogwoods are in bloom, the azaleas are a riot of hot pink and red and the parks are alive with the sounds of – women protesting the imminent loss of their right to a safe, legal abortion in the United States, a right firmly established in law since 1973.

What happened to disturb the sylvan silence of the elegant tree-shaded suburbs of Washington in May?

That well-known straight talking feminist, Jennifer Rubin, explains it all to us:

The Supreme Court’s approval ratings have been in sharp decline for a while. But in revealing itself to be a partisan gang seeking to impose a specific version of Christianity on the rest of America, the court might finally have gone a step too far. The leaked draft opinion foretelling a reversal of Roe v. Wade has boomeranged on the partisan, radical majority. 

Partisan majority, eh? That sounds pretty bad. What kind of partisan majority, Jen? 

She's too polite to say so but it's a Republican partisan majority: Long Dong Thomas (appointed by Republican Bush Senior), Sulky Sam Alito (appointed by Republican Bush Junior), and the Former Loser Grifter trio: Gorsuch (who filled the seat held open by Moscow Mitch McConnell's refusal to consider a nomination in an election year), Rapey Brett Kavanaugh, and Handmaid Amy (added a few weeks before the 2020 election following Republican willingness to consider, wait for it, a Republican judge in an election year).

Standing off to one side hoping to repeal Roe by weeks, rather than all at once, is the Pride of Harvard, John “Split the Difference” Roberts '76, L'79, also appointed by li'l George.

That's more than 30 years of Republican court-packing. So if you supported Republicans (like Jen!) at any time since 1988, you own a piece of the bloody carnage and ruined lives to come in states where abortion will be outlawed the day the bent Supreme Court issues its final decision. 

Page A1, July 3, 1991.  Who knew?

In her defense, how could anyone have expected that supporting Republicans running for President and Senate could lead to taking away a fundamental right?  It's not like 30 years of Republican hacks were honest about what they were doing.  Here's what New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis observed way back when:

Today's George Bush is against abortion. He is in an Administration that has opposed Planned Parenthood and the U.N. world population program because they do not take a rigid view against abortion. His party's platform calls for a Constitutional amendment that would keep any state from allowing women to make the choice.

In the Western democratic world those are extreme positions. Hardly any European country, for example, bars abortion in such absolute terms: not Britain, not Germany, not France, not Spain, not Italy.

What changed Mr. Bush's view? Politics did. He decided that he had to please the extremists of the anti-abortion movement in order to get anywhere in today's Republican Party.

Well, OK, that might have been a clue.

So when he nominated Clarence with the Good Pubic Hair, The New York Times reported that anti-abortion groups were pleased:

Anti-abortion groups hailed the choice, in the apparent belief that Judge Thomas's generally conservative views would lead him to vote for reversal of the 1973 ruling that women have a Constitutional right to abortion.

By the way, that 1991 dispatch was sent over the telegraph wires by Maureen Dowd, who, before her retirement, uh, career as a columnist, was a hard-news Washington beat reporter. Don't worry, we'll get back to Kevin's sister.

Before we do, let's just spend one second on Jennifer Rubin's evaluation of the man who sold out his political principles to curry favor with anti-abortion rights zealots:

Throughout his life [George H.W.] Bush 41 understood that service, country, tradition, the norms of democracy and the Constitution itself come first....If we needed a reminder that Bush 41 will and should rank in the top tier of presidents,... 

Sure, Jen.

Next in seniority is Sulky Sam Alito, who actually wrote and perhaps leaked the appalling draft opinion, which relied on the lack of protection for abortion rights in the original Constitution and the musings of the 17th Century advocates of marital rape.  What the relevance of these tidbits are to the construction of the term “due process” in the Fourteenth Amendment (ratified in 1868) is clear only to Alito and his four henchpeople.

Who could have guessed that Alito would be waiting for Roe with a dagger? Perhaps anyone with a New York Times subscription, which noted at the time of his nomination

Among his noteworthy opinions was his lone dissent in the 1991 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which the 3rd Circuit struck down a Pennsylvania law that included a provision requiring women seeking abortions to notify their spouses.

We won't know where George Junior ranks among great American Presidents according to Jen for a while, as he appears to be hale, hearty, and enjoying toe painting in Dallas.  But if you supported his election, like Jen, Nicolle Wallace, or any number of latterly-outraged Republicans, you own the end of the right to abortion.

Speaking of Nicolle, what's she been up to since rioting in Dade County to stop the 2000 Florida recount?  She's been thanking pro-abortion rights guests who drop by her daily MSNBC show:

Thank you, Nicolle, for your support of reproductive freedom.

By the way, when your boss George W. Bush was busily scheming to put Roberts (who supposedly wants to overrule Roe but allow abortions up to 15 weeks until the next case, a technique known in legal circles as “boiling the woman like a frog”) and the aforementioned Sulky Sam on the Court, what did you have to say?  You'll never guess:

The Bush campaign unveiled a television commercial that questions Mr. Kerry's priorities and attacks him for voting against legislation, since signed into law by the president, that makes it a separate offense to harm the fetus in a federal crime against a pregnant woman....Because the law treats the fetus as a separate person, its opponents have described it as an effort to roll back abortion rights....

In a conference call with reporters, Nicolle Devenish [As she was then known – Ed.], the communications director for the Bush campaign, signaled that the commercial would be the start of a concerted effort to counteract what she described as an effort by Mr. Kerry...to reinvent himself.

Nicolle Wallace's political views have, um, evolved

....''John Kerry began this process as the duckling of the far left and hopes to emerge at his convention as the swan of the heartland,'' Ms. Devenish said. ''Only the truth about his record will prevent this phony makeover of the nation's most out-of-the-mainstream senator.''

Sounds like she was A-OK with efforts to undermine abortion rights in a close election. Had John Kerry, rather than W., managed to eke out a victory, do you think Sulky Sam would have made it onto the Court? 

Any other woman gasbags shocked and horrified to learn that Roe is headed for the dumpster? Kevin Dowd's sister Maureen weighed in:

This week’s stunning reversal on women’s rights is the apotheosis of the last 40 years, through Reagan, Schlafly, Meese, Rehnquist and Scalia, climaxing in Mitch McConnell, who made a Faustian bargain to support chuckleheaded T---- to get a conservative court. Because of McConnell’s machinations blocking Merrick Garland and ramming through Amy Coney Barrett, T---- was able to name three anti-abortion conservatives to the court, all of whom prevaricated under oath before the Senate about their intentions on Roe.

To Maureen, the Republican effort to take away the right to legal abortion had been a clear and present danger for 40 years.  Which leads us to wonder: was there any other time before last Sunday when she could have sounded the alarm and led the cheers for Hillary Clinton as the only thing standing between women and forced birth?

They say you can't tell a book by its cover, but let's look at the one for her collected Election 2016 wit and wisdom:

Ha-ha, amirite?  How dare Hillary kick a man who, not content to grab women by the pussy, now through his three minions has an iron grip on all of their reproductive organs?

Like the standup gal she is, Maureen blames the current state of abortion-rights advocates on those who failed to sound the warning about what a Former Loser Grifter victory would mean for Roe and women.

Nah, we're just s***in' you.  She blames, wait for it, Democrats:

When will the Democrats stop being betas? As an emotional Gavin Newsom said at Planned Parenthood’s L.A. headquarters, “Where the hell’s my party? Where’s the Democratic Party? Why aren’t we standing up more firmly, more resolutely?” 

Where was Maureen when standing up more firmly, more resolutely, more unambiguously might have made a difference? And, to ask a question no one cares about, where was brother Kevin?

If Jen, Nicolle, Maureen, and so many others like them are going to sit all night at the Café Republicain flirting with or drinking White Russians and decrying the death of Roe and the imminent deaths of women denied legal abortions, it's only fair to ask them, like Yvonne to Rick, where they were last night.

We already know their answer: “I can't remember that far back.”

"Didn't you realize the Republicans wanted to take away your freedom?"

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Great COVID News: We Have Nothing to Worry About!

By Vincent Boom-Batz, M.D.
Medical Editor

Great news: we don't have to worry about COVID anymore.

Lots of people are telling us this, from white male gasbags to airline presidents to a bent unqualified Former Loser Grifter judge in Florida to – uh, a real doctor.

That's so great, except for one little thing, as reported every day in The Boston Globe:

 


That case count is nearly quadruple what it was a couple of months ago, and the reported positivity rate (not including the positive tests people take at home and don't report) is over 4.5%, which does not compare especially favorably with the record of the entire pandemic:

With the pandemic still raging, although with death rates down due to vaccination and more effective treatments, of course we are still taking sensible no-downside precautions like masking in crowded public places, like planes, trains, and buses, right?

Wrong, aerosolized virus breath!

First, the considered judgments of the Centers for Disease Control, acting under its statutory authority to limit the transmission of communicable diseases were chucked out by a bent judge rammed through on a party line vote after the Tangerine-Faced Grifter, who nominated her, had been voted out of office and was spending his days plotting sedition:

Mizelle's judicial qualifications are evident

In her ruling, Judge Mizelle adopted a narrow interpretation of the authority Congress granted to the C.D.C. to issue rules aimed at preventing the interstate spread of communicable diseases.

The law says the agency may take such measures as it deems “necessary,” and provides a list of examples, like “sanitation.” The judge wrote that this power was limited to things like cleaning property — not requiring people to take hygienic steps. 

We're just lucky the TFG didn't appoint Jeannie Pinot Noir Pirro to a lifetime judgeship, although according to the American Bar Association, she would have been no less qualified than Mizelle, who owes her life-tenured position solely to her willingness to embrace insane reactionary judicial activism:

President Trump appointed Judge Mizelle to the bench in November 2020, after he had lost re-election. A former clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas, she was 33 at the time, making her the youngest person Mr. Trump had appointed to a life-tenured judgeship. The American Bar Association declared her not qualified because of her lack of experience, but Republican senators confirmed her in a party-line vote.

As a result, everyone on an airplane or an Amtrak train must be permitted to spew the contents of their lungs all over you on your next 14-hour flight, because...freedom!  The airlines tout their great ventilation while the engines are turning, which they are not most of the time the plane is sitting on the ground, like when you board, squirm in your seat waiting for the airline to scare up a pilot, or push and shove to disembark without getting a concussion from some putz's overstuffed bag:

“When planes are at the gate, their ventilation systems aren’t always running,” Allen wrote. “If they’re not running, there is no air coming into the cabin, and, importantly, no air running across those great HEPA filters. Combine that with high-occupant density and a small volume space, and you have a recipe for transmission. 

As for Amtrak – probably better not to ask.

That masks in public indoor places help limit transmission of COVID is an unquestioned scientific fact.   The Centers for Disease Control, the core agency for protecting us from infectious disease states flatly: “Masking is a critical public health tool for preventing spread of COVID-19, and it is important to remember that any mask is better than no mask.”

Fortunately, in America 2022, wherever there's unquestionable science there's a white man who knows better:

We're just the same way: we don't stop for red lights unless we have a printout that we have reviewed in advance rigorously quantifying the number of lives that are likely to be saved by said red light so that we can weigh the benefit of stopping vs. the undeniable assault on our freedom as a white man to put the pedal to the metal and barrel right through the intersection.

If one of these positions sounds stupider than the other, maybe ask yourself why. 

Fairness compels us to note that you don't have to be a white man to have an idiotic view on the continued value of masking in a time of pandemic.  Leana Wen, MD, come on down:

 

Why, ffs?  Here's her answer:

So long as hospitals have good capacity and vaccines still work well against variants, mask requirements and other government mandates should not be reinstated.

It's OK to expose someone needlessly to a case of COVID so bad they have to be admitted to the hospital as long as there's a bed?  Even if the case could have been prevented by wearing a mask on a plane or train?   Hoh-kay. As for the immunocompromised or children under five (who aren't eligible for vaccination), well f*** 'em. And the millions still grappling with long COVID and a possible lifetime of injury and suffering, for Dr. Wen, that' s too bad, so sad.

Don't see any transmission here

It's perhaps this kind of thinking that got her s**tcanned from her previous gig as President of Planned Parenthood.  Maybe since she lives in Baltimore, she knows her life is at risk every time she walks out her door.  A plane full of coughing covidiots probably seems salubrious by comparison.

The airlines were naturally thrilled not to have to enforce public health mandates because once the passengers shuffle off the plane, their future suffering and death is someon else's problem.  But why were transit agencies not at all subject to Judge Auda Herass's injunction so eager to drop their mask mandates?  Have the pols who run these systems ever ridden on them at rush hour?

For example, the MBTA couldn't wait a day to drop its mask mandate, on the illogical grounds that it follows federal guidance, and the CDC was now prohibited from enforcing the federal mask mandate.  But the CDC guidance hasn't changed:  “CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings at this time.” 

Despite the endless whining from the usual reactionary sources, in fact the majority of people would be perfectly happy to wear masks as long as the pandemic rages:

The normal rejoinder, regarded as brilliant by those who say it is to ask how long we think the mask mandates should remain?  Forever?   

The answer is not hard: we'll rely on the judgment of infectious-disease experts, not known to be paid off by Big Mask, the same way we rely on the judgment of our health professionals for other health care matters.  If your doctor says it's time for your tetanus shot, do you ask to see the peer-reviewed research estimating how many lives would be saved by a tetanus shot?  Or do you get the f***in' shot?

It's important to remember that infectious disease control and public health is not the same as say managing the Red Sox.  In the former case, not everyone is qualified to express an opinion, and sadly some of those who claim expertise turn out to be auditioning for the revival of Baltimore's favorite show: Homicide.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Immigration through the Ages: What if They Become Too Numerous?



Editors' Note: Once again, our publication today wears reversed rules, this time  in memory of the great Gilbert Gottfried, who died at 67 last week after a long illness. He was known for being brilliant, funny, and fearless, not to mention crass, crude, and tasteless.  So whenever the Spy is too crass, crude, and tasteless for you, just think of it as an homage to this genius. 




By Immigration Editor Emma Goldman
with Isabel Archer in London

We read a ripping yarn this week that struck a familiar note. In this story, a small group of economic migrants head into a richer stronger neighboring country.  They become successful and even influential.  But then the country changed leaders, and found one who wanted to make their country great again.

He persuaded his subjects that these plucky immigrants were in fact a threat:

A new king arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph.  And he said to his people, "Look, the Israelite people are much too numerous for us.  Let us deal shrewdly with them, so that they may not increase; otherwise in the event of war they may join our enemies in fighting against us and gain ascendancy over the country.

Or, as this anti-immigrant hate speech is known today, the Great Replacement Theory.  Let's let Media Matters explains this toxic stew of fear and bigotry:

(c) Media Matters for America


While Tucker Carlson has been flirting with white nationalism for years, 2021 was the year he went full-tilt and repeatedly said the quiet part aloud, explicitly referencing the white supremacist “great replacement” conspiracy theory – and earning praise from infamous former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. And Carlson’s status as the most-watched Fox prime-time star seemingly encouraged his fellow hosts to follow suit; Laura Ingraham warned her viewers that Democrats “will import new voters to offset and eventually replace all you old people.”

Carlson has long pushed white supremacist talking points with full corporate support from Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch. In the process, he has gained praise from white nationalists, while the Anti-Defamation League has repeatedly called for his firing. White nationalism is now a pillar of Fox’s prime-time platform, and the Murdochs are willing to fund and defend their hosts’ hatred....

By repeatedly launching nativist attacks with warnings of an “invasion of your neighborhood” and migrants “coming to our backyard,” Fox News’ goal here is clear: to scare its audience into buying the fantasy of “white genocide.”
 

Let's see how political leaders on both sides of the drink are responding to this supposed invasion of your backyard, ranging from the questionable to the hypocritical to the ridiculous (yes, we're going to Texas):

First we take you to our nation's capital, where the Biden Administration is doing clean up on Aisle 42.  The Administration at long last is moving to repeal what has been commonly referred to as “Title 42.”  As we have told any number of attractive single women in bars and clubs over the years to absolutely no good effect, Title 42 is the title of the United States Code in which laws relating to Public Health are collected.  Many volumes away rests Title 8, which covers immigration.

Republicans warn that caravans could come back

So what is “Title 42” in the immigration context anyway?  A thousand years ago in America, when the government was in the hands of a corrupt Russian-owned bigot who was personally responsible for transmission of any number of communicable diseases, said corrupt bigot perverted public health laws to ban immigrants on the grounds that they might transmit COVID-19.  This was about the same time he was advocating horse dewormer and bleach enemas to control the pandemic.

As a result, a million people died, and thousands of others pooped their pants in Wal-Mart after ingesting ivermectin.  And thousands of immigrants, including those entitled to seek asylum under U.S. and international law were turned away in violation of their rights on the basis of Title 42.  (Of course, any immigrant presenting with a real communicable disease was perforce inadmissible and in any event could be confined until no longer contagious.)

Meanwhile, at the southern border,

The American Civil Liberties Union sued the Biden administration, and a federal judge ruled that the government couldn’t send entire families back home under this edict, limiting its impact mostly to single adults trying to cross the border. In March, a federal court said the Biden administration could keep using Title 42 but couldn’t send people back to countries where they would face persecution, “citing ‘stomach-churning evidence’ that the U.S. government has delivered people to places where they face rape, torture and even death,” report The Washington Post’s Maria Sacchetti and Nick Miroff. 

To remedy this outrage, the Biden Administration is proposing to drop the illegal use of Title 42 and restore the status quo prevailing up to 2020.  This simple act of decency is causing conniptions:

Making it easier for migrants to cross the border is not a popular move on Capitol Hill. Senate Republicans blocked covid funding last week, to try to tack on a vote about keeping Title 42. Now some Senate Democrats up for re-election this year have joined them in expressing concern about the policy.

“The Biden administration was wrong to set an end date for Title 42 without a comprehensive plan in place,” Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), who faces a difficult race for his seat this fall, said in a statement. He and several other Democrats introduced a bipartisan bill to delay ending Title 42 restrictions.

“I think this is the wrong time, and I haven’t seen a plan that gives me comfort,” Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), perhaps the most vulnerable Senate Democrat right now, told reporters.

When a moral force as respected as Sen. and Rev. Warnock is uneasy, you know Democrats have got a big problem. Both Senators face tough re-election contests in marginal states. If the Republicans retake the Senate, we've got catastrophes that make Title 42 exclusions look like a flea bite. This is usually where we pronounce what should be done in our most overbearing tones, but here we're pretty stumped. Our friend Nick Machiavelli reminded us that in politics, sometimes necessity triumphs over choice.

Let's move along to rather clearer offenses against decency.  Calling London, Isabel can you hear us?

Isabel Archer reports from London:  Yes, Emma, I can hear you.  This week in London appalling lummox and pride of Eton Boris Johnson tried to distract what's left of the UK from his criminal liability for partying hearty during lockdown and then lying his ass off in the House of Commons by proposing to ship asylum seekers off to the only place he could find worse than Hartlepool: Rwanda.

The reaction was, um:

Gillian Triggs, the assistant high commissioner at the UNHCR, said the proposed arrangement would only accommodate a few hundred people a year, making it extremely expensive as well as illegal and discriminatory.

But government insiders said the expected torrent of legal battles could leave it costing substantially more, with some predicting it could take two years before anyone was flown to Rwanda.

Home Office sources said they were braced for judicial reviews and a wave of immigration tribunals over the lawfulness of attempts to offshore asylum seekers who arrive after travelling across the Channel on small boats.

The ever mendacious Tory leader claimed that this transportation-to-Africa scheme was made possible by Brexit, although in fact had Britain remained in the EU, it could have easily sent asylum seekers back to the first EU country they entered under EU law.

Sir Humphrey Appleby was not amused:


So far the plan is working great, if by working great you mean distracting attention from Boris's criminal record.  Back to you, Emma.

But for sheer buffoonish a**holery, you can't beat Texas and its ludicrously inept and slimy Governor Greg “Hell on Wheels” Abbott, who decided he would score a few political points with immigrant-hating mouth breathers by starting the Great Avocado War of 2022.

Having left Texans helpless during and after the collapse of their state's power grid and again during the raging COVID pandemic, ol' Hell on Wheels decided his only course was to distract Bubba by declaring war...on avocados.

His genius plan: sabotage the international commerce between Mexico and the United States by imposing fake “truck safety” inspections at the border on the transparently ridiculous grounds that he was thus protecting Texas from unauthorized immigrants hiding inside spare tires.  The resulting chaos illegally interfered with interstate commerce and caused $240 million of produce to rot, thus ensuring media-ready shortages and price hikes to be blamed on – Joe Biden.

Bonus: since neither Texas nor any other state has any power over immigration or interstate commerce, it did nothing to address his ostensible concern, which was stirring up even more anti-immigrant hatred and hysteria.

Unfortunately for the Law North of the Rio Grande, his own rich reactionary backers weren't buying in:

Know your enemy!

Adam Isacson, director for defense oversight at the Washington Office on Latin America, an advocacy group for human rights in the Americas, said Abbott may have made a political miscalculation with the inspections.

“This seems like it's not working out for him. His base is pro-business and anti-immigrant and he has just antagonized business while giving voluntary free rides to immigrants,” he said, referring to another Abbott order that has provided bus rides to Washington, D.C., to transport asylum-seekers who have been processed and released by federal authorities — if they volunteered to go.

Gov. Lepetomane [Surely, Abbott? – Ed.] tried to cover up his humiliating climb down by touting supposed agreements with Mexican states to do something or another.  But as all Republicans are known for their devotion to strict construction of the Constitution they must know that Art. I, Sec. 10 states: “No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation;..” Abbott's treaties are as useful as, in words even a Texas Republican could understand, tits on a bull.

But Texas, Mexico, and the rest of us should count ourselves lucky at getting off so easily.  Sometimes anti-immigrant hysteria exacts a much higher price.

In Egypt, according to that ripping yarn we told you about, hatred against immigrants led to this: 

Every first born in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first-born of Pharaoh who sits on his throne to the first-born of the slave girl who is behind the millstones; and all the first-born of the cattle. And there shall be a loud cry in all the land of Egypt, such as never been or will ever be again.

And you're upset about a truckload of rotten avocados?

UPDATE: April 18 (Patriots' Day in these parts) - You don't have to take our word for it. Here's the considered judgment of a seasoned immigration lawyer, Ben Orlebke: 

In March 2020, Miller and Vice President Mike Pence successfully pressured then-CDC Director Robert Redfield to issue an order that applied Title 42 exclusively to noncitizens arriving at the border without documentation, expelling them near-instantly. They did so over the strenuous objections of CDC scientists, who reiterated that no public health justification existed for this hamfisted effort by a nativist cretin to weaponize a deadly pandemic against Black and brown migrants, eviscerating a human right codified in federal and international law since World War II.

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Supreme Court confirmations: a deep dive


Editors' Note: Our publication today wears reversed rules in memory of Eric Boehlert, who died suddenly this week at 57, after a long and brilliant career of press criticism. With wit, courage, judgment, and meticulous research, he trenchantly criticized our most self-important media outlets for their shortcomings, notably their devotion to propagating a false equivalence between America's center-right political party (the Democratic Party) and the fascist-revival subversives doing business as another major political party.  We dedicate ourselves to continuing his work as best we can.


By Scott V. Sandford
Law and Justice Correspondent

We got the happy ending to the nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court: she was confirmed 53-47 notwithstanding the antics of white Republican racists.  And pretty much on schedule, per the McConnell Rule.

Classless to the end, two of the loudest and most louche of the breed – Rand Paul and Lindsay Graham – were too shy to step onto the Senate floor to cast their votes in the light of day.  Instead, they voted no from the privacy of the Senate cloakroom.  The reason for their sudden stage fright (after years of preening in front of every TV camera on Capitol Hill)?  Wait for it: they supposedly forgot their ties, which are required for male Senators.  There were apparently none to be had anywhere in the U.S. Capitol complex, where thousands of men every day run around wearing ties.  Then guess what happened:



This performative contempt for a superbly qualified Black woman was the final squirrel dropping in the s**t sundae the Republicans whipped up in honor of Judge Jackson.  We don’t need to recount the many outrages and unforgivable insults offered up by Republican stooges like Cancun Ted, Fist of Fury Josh, and the gal with the “post-orgy” hair, Marsha Blackburn.   We’ll let Michelle Cottle do it for us:

Top showboaters this time around included Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, Marsha Blackburn, Josh Hawley and Lindsey Graham — a master of the self-righteous hissy fit. These folks really went the extra mile to turn the proceedings into a circus. So much performative outrage. So little interest in reality.

Surprising no one, Mr. Cruz was the most embarrassing of the lot. In a convoluted effort to paint Judge Jackson as a radical wokester...the senator whipped out a copy of the picture book “Antiracist Baby” and started tossing off bizarre, misleading questions, “Do you agree with this book that is being taught with kids that babies are racist?” (The book doesn’t teach that.)

We’re not always Ms. Cottle’s biggest fans, but when she hits it, we don’t have to.

Among the most ludicrous performances: when a bunch of Republican Senators, most of whom lacked any first, uh, hand experience in the question of lady parts, tried to grill Judge Jackson on what constitutes a woman. They got a lot of mileage over that bit, except the minute the confirmation was over they got a taste of their own medicine:

From "Never Have I Ever" to Justice

A question about defining “woman” – one that baffled Republicans last month during Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearings and was also labelled by Senator Marsha Blackburn as “fundamental” to being able to answer – is proving to be a stumbling block for GOP lawmakers to provide a succinct answer to.

One in particular, Sen Josh Hawley...seemed...genuinely confused about human anatomy works. In a series of hallway interviews, HuffPost asked Republicans who sat on the Judiciary Committee [to]...define woman....

...Mr Hawley boldly began by explaining that womanhood is inherently tied to a person’s ability to give birth, saying: “Someone who can give birth to a child, a mother, is a woman,” Mr Hawley said, before adding “someone who has a uterus is a woman. It doesn’t seem that complicated to me.”

The reporter then ...ask[ed] if a woman has had her uterus removed, a procedure that the CDC estimates 20 million people in the country have done, then would that disqualify them from being included in Mr Hawley’s definition?

Mr Hawley responded to the question by asking another question: “Yeah. Well, I don’t know, would they?” When pressed further by the reporter about whether or not a woman would still be defined as such if she, for instance, lost her reproductive organs to cancer, he again answered with a question: “I mean, a woman has a vagina, right?”

You tell us, Fist of Fury.  By the way, Ladies’ Man Josh may be interested to know that many trans women (whom he is eager to exclude from the definition of woman) have vaginas.  Isn’t that the point of gender-affirming bottom surgery?

But when we said we wanted to take a deep dive into the confirmation process, that’s not where we wanted to go.  What we have to do is take issue with the effort of Republican Both-Siders to frame the problem.  Here’s Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who had no problem putting a sex offender on the Supreme Court four years ago, saying her vote “also rests on my rejection of the corrosive politicization of the review process for Supreme Court nominees, which on both sides of the aisle is growing worse and more detached from reality by the year.”  

Republicans accuse a superbly qualified judge with an exceptional and spotless record of supporting pedophilia?  Democrats listen to a victim of a sex crime at the hands of a hack perjuring nominee and want an investigation?  Both Sides!

But the problem runs deeper than equating disgusting smears with inquiring into evidence of a nominee’s attempted rape.

It’s the notion that somehow in our glorious past, confirmation hearings were bipartisan kumbayah sessions in which the only issue was the nominee’s “qualifications” by which Republicans meant graduating from Harvard or Yale Law School, unless it was a month before the election in which case Notre Dame would do just fine.

Or Ruth Marcus mythologized it:

Time was (starting with Robert H. Bork), the Senate debated whether a nominee was in or outside the judicial mainstream. That assessment was in the eye of the beholder, of course, but at least it was a nod at deliberation.

As a reminder, that’s how we got Nino Scalia and Bill Rehnquist, both of whom voted to stop counting ballots in 2000 and install George W. Bush as President.  And that turned out great!

The nomination and confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice, a lifetime appointment whose future decisions will be forever out of the control of the democratic branches, has to be a political act.  All this crap about how Congress should only review the nominee's “qualifications” (by which Republicans most certainly do not mean their propensity for committing sex crimes) is an abdication of their responsibility.

Bork, who did well on his law school exams, was “qualified,” but no one who thinks that the Civil Rights Act is unconstitutional has any place on the Supreme Court.  And it's the job of the Senate to make sure the Supreme Court doesn't try to void the Civil Rights Act.  (Spoiler alert: it might!)

Sometimes a nominee comes along who presents both repellent legal and policy views and disgusting personal conduct that should disqualify him from federal office regardless of the political views of the Senate.  Today we call such a nominee Justice Brett “Watch It Grow!” Kavanaugh.

Even if he had not been a repeat sexual criminal and perjurer, his terrible views on abortion rights and executive power were ample grounds to disqualify him.

Sure Amy Coney Barrett was qualified...

I hear you saying but what about Ruth Bader Ginsburg?  Weren't Republicans who wanted to bring back the days of back alley abortions right to oppose her?  Well, they were right to take into account their policy preferences.  However, those preferences are horrible and wrong.  Opposing Ginsburg's nomination was not some perversion of the role of the Senate.  It was just plain immoral.

Does this mean that a President of one party will never be able to fill a Supreme Court vacancy when the Senate is controlled by the other party?  It might.  But guess what: if Moscow Mitch McConnell and his fellow seditionists get a majority next year, they'll block any nominee no matter what.  They're not interested in pious lectures about non-partisanship.  They're interested in packing the Court, or, more accurately, continuing to pack the Court.

And if in the future there is a horrible Republican President and a Democratic Senate, that Senate should block any nominee who does not reflect the political judgment of the Democratic majority, even if they can keep it in their pants.  I'm sure there are some Republicans out there who do not regard the Supreme Court as a vehicle to enact the partisan Republican agenda.  Gerald Ford found one: John Paul Stevens. 

Where does this leave us?  It leaves us where we have been for the past 50 years: if you care about the issues likely to come before the Supreme Court, then you need to vote for every Democrat for President and for Senate, whether they give you a thrill deep inside your soul or not.  

If you want to know who to thank for the imminent loss of the right to legal abortion and a whole bunch of other good stuff, it was anyone who voted for Ralph Nader and Jill Stein. 

Here's your coat hanger; take a bow.