Saturday, December 26, 2020

Everything old is new again: TV preview



Editors' Note: We could look back on the flaming train wreck that was 2020 but instead we thought we'd look ahead to sunnier times. We understand that in their latest desperate attempt to glue our eyeballs to the tube [It's a screen now, you old tosser – Ed.], the moguls of television are planning something truly daring: rebooting old TV shows in the hopes that your parents can be persuaded to watch them again, instead of the repeats themselves on Channel 25-7.  Already "L.A. Law" and "Night Court" are in production, but surely there are many more gems remaining to be unearthed.  Our Television Editor Frank Cross has been doing some digging and reports next year we can expect some or all of these oldies but goodies.  Happy Viewing!

The Drumppf Family

They're creepy and they're spooky/
They're altogether ooky!

Everyone remembers the zany adventures of the creepy Addams Family, the bizarre creatures who lived in a world of their own blissfully unaware of how crazy they were. 

Remind you of anyone?  

Sure it does, and they will all need a job and free media effective January 21.  

In this reimagined version of the 60's comedy classic, the creepy, crazy Drumppfs have retreated to their spooky Florida mansion but they remain as hilarious as ever, if perhaps a shade less credible and likable.  Of course Donald plays himself as the patriarch of the nutty family still raging about the late-night ballot dumps in Michigan.  And what a supporting cast!  It boasts, if that's the word, Melania Trump as Morticia, Rudy Giuliani as Uncle Fenster, Brad Parscale as Lurch, and Kimberly Guilfoyle as Cousin Itt.


Mayberry RPD (Redneck Police Department)

There was something so reassuring about this warm comedy about the hilarious misadventures of small town life in North Carolina.  No matter what happened, in the end everything turned out all white.  [Surely, right? – Ed.]  

The fun never stops in Mayberry RPD

But in this updated version, the Black citizens of Mayberry are no longer invisible.  They are brought into the police station every day for offenses like vagrancy, failing to salute Barney Fife, and just generally being uppity, and then locked up for months if they can't post the $1,000 bail, providing an endless parade of zany comic foils for the good citizens of Mayberry.  

Paula Deen stars as Aunt Bee, with Dog the Bounty Hunter as Sheriff Andy and Ben Shapiro as bumbling simpleton Deputy Fife.  

In the pilot, Sheriff Andy lets the Black prisoners out for an hour to celebrate Robert E. Lee's birthday, but when they try to take down the statute of the Great American Traitor, hilarious complications, involving buckshot, ensue! 


I Dream of Jeannie the Fugitive

Rebooting one show is good, but how about combining two 60's classics?


She's out of her bottle and on the lam!

In this mashup of two beloved shows, Jeannie the Genie escapes her bottle and her life of misery with horrible Major Anthony Nelson.  She hits the road accompanied only by her faithful retainer, Jaffir. But the evil Maj. Nelson pursues her across the country and every week she has to evade recapture and a life sentence in her bottle.  

It's not all suspense though, as each week she takes on a variety of disguises and jobs, including levitating hundreds of packages an hour at an Amazon warehouse, all of which end up falling on her boss!

The all-star cast is headed up by Kate McKinnon as Jeannie, Randy Rainbow as Jaffir, and Clint Eastwood as Major Nelson.    

The Untouchables

America was riveted in the 50's by the adventures of Treasury agent Elliot Ness and his band of Untouchables as they relentlessly pursued corrupt, vicious gangsters.

They thought they were above the law

This time there's a twist: the Untouchables are the corrupt, vicious gangsters who plundered the United States and sold our America to the Russians with absolute impunity before pardoning themselves and their henchmen.  

But they didn't count on dogged New York Attorney General Letitia Jones (Leslie Jones) who pursues them to the ends of the golf course with a fusillade of state law subpoenas and indictments. 

Although the odds are long, she has the secret guidance and counsel of a grizzled veteran ex-prosecutor (Preet Bharara) and the assistance of bright dedicated assistant DA's (Maya Erskine, Linda Cardellini, and Elliot Page) as she faces down the gangsters and the worst lawyers their money can buy (Jason Sudeikis and Will Forte).


Adam-18 USC 241

The LAPD will protect you from threats like these

Who doesn't have fond memories of “Adam-12,” the action-packed half hour in which you the viewer got to ride along with two typical officers of the LA Police?  Everybody at our diner sure does!  

In this new version, we join Officers White and Taser as they keep the peace in an increasingly violent LA in vintage LAPD style.  You can bet that that the cousins of Black celebrities living in Brentwood and Hollywood Hills will think again before failing to signal for a right turn!  The officers bravely and without fear or favor, stop, handcuff, and beat the Black or Hispanic malefactors who drive around with a busted tail light and then have the nerve to complain about their rights.  In a running joke, each week the two officers try to start their body cameras just before turning on the siren, but they never work!  

Great family fun!  Starring Ted Nugent and James Woods.  


The Millionairess with Mackenzie Scott

In the late 50's, “The Millionaire,” featured unseen tycoon John Beresford Tipton giving away a million dollars every week to some lucky bastard, with typically unforeseen consequences.  

Highlight of each episode:
Her ex-husband's reaction

Sixty years later, it's been reconceived as a reality show in which newly-liberated billionairess Mackenzie Scott, formerly known as Mrs. Jeff Bezos, hands out big bucks to lucky deserving people and institutions while the unlucky ones eke out a miserable existence delivering packages for her ex-husband.  

You'll laugh and cry at the lives she changes with her handsome checks, not to mention the enraged reaction of her creepy ex (Mike Myers) as he ponders his revenge while gulping 'roids in his secret rocket control room.  

Consistent with the 50's cult hit, the actual benefactress is never seen on camera and is represented by her suave check-wielding assistant, Gilbert Gottfried.  


[That's enough reboots – Ed.]

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Words: What Do They Mean? Why Do We Use Them?



By A.J. Liebling
Meta-Content Generator

Our nation is writhing in agony.  Over 3,000 new deaths a day from COVID-19, most of which could have been prevented by effective government.  The consequent economic collapse threatens millions with ruin, hunger, homelessness.

The good news: there's an inexhaustible supply of resources available to provide aid and succor.

The bad news: Republicans are blocking all such efforts.  This condition is known by all media as “gridlock” (more on that below).   What's the “snag” (as The New York Times likes to call it)?  There are a couple of them, but let's focus on the “snag”that has blocked aid since May.

About 100 years ago, in May 2020, the House of Representatives passed a comprehensive $3.3 trillion pandemic relief package.  It didn't even get a debate on the floor of the Republican Senate.  Why?

A liability shield seems like a good thing.
Mr. McConnell, who said he hoped to release a final version of his measure in the coming days, doubled down on his insistence that the package include liability protections for businesses, medical workers and schools — a proposal that Democrats fiercely oppose. 

“Liability protection?”  What's that?  And how can I get some?  We all want to be protected.  And who wants to be liable?  That's not good.  So why can't those Democrats get behind protecting us from all that terrible nasty liability that's floating around out there?

It turns out that what Republicans, led by Moscow Mitch McConnell, mean by “liability protection” isn't as comforting as it sounds:

Gee, when you put it like that, it doesn't sound too terrific.

And it's not as if the fears of workers are exactly theoretical:

Today, a little more than a month after the study came out, the federal government is finally responding: a bipartisan group of Senate and House lawmakers have announced legislation to shield corporations from lawsuits when their lax safety standards kill more workers.

In practice, the legislation, which is being tucked into a larger Covid relief package, is a holiday-season gift for corporate donors: it would strip frontline workers of their last remaining legal tool to protect themselves in the workplace – at the same time the unemployment system is designed to financially punish those workers if they refuse to return to unsafe workplaces during the pandemic.

The legislation comes not only as workers continue to die, but also as roughly 7- 9% of the total Covid-19 death count are “take home” infections traced to employees unwittingly spreading the disease to their families and friends. 

So a better way to describe the proposal to repeal ordinary legal rules protecting workers would be “work-or-die.”  Maybe that will catch on instead.  Or at the very least a journalist could use an expression like “limiting workers' rights,” which is hardly even debatable.

Let's see how the media are covering this latest effort to let corporate plutocracy endanger the lives of workers and their families:

Here's CBS News:

The Washington Post:

NPR (filed under Business, because protecting the lives of workers and their families isn't personal, it's just business):


You catch the drift.

But with coverage like this, what consumers of supposedly reality-based media catch is that Republicans are seeking something benign and those corrupt selfish Democrats are standing in the way.  Don't believe anyone would be stupid enough to fall for this crap?  Moral Mountain David Brooks, come on down:

two thorny issues: aid to the states and liability protection, which should, on the merits, be in the law.  This is how democracy is supposed to work! Partisans stake out positions, and then dealmakers reach a compromise.

As usual, ethical paragon David Brooks is wrong.  On the merits, businesses should not be free to endanger their customers, workers, and innocent third parties without taking reasonable measures to protect all of the above from a lethal virus.  We know these fears aren't preventing reopening because businesses are open to the full extent permitted by state law.  

So why should businesses, who are in the best position to protect their workers and the public, and have an economic incentive to purchase insurance against any residual liability, get to send their powerless workers back to the kill floor to chop up hogs until they sicken and die without accepting the consequences of their actions?

You don't have to climb to the top of the moral mountain or roger your research assistant to conclude that there's no valid economic or ethical reason to take away our rights.  

Of course, the use of the tendentious phrase “liability protection” is not the only abuse of English that redounds to the benefit of Republicans.  The accompanying narrative about the inexcusably delayed pandemic relief aid heavily stresses not the true cause of the delay – Republican obstruction – but rather the facially neutral (but untrue) term “gridlock.”

We don't need to hold forth at length about this verbal obfuscation because Mr. Eric Boehlert has kindly done the work for us:

A much-needed Covid-19 economic relief bill hasn't been passed in Congress for the simple reason that Republicans don't want to pass one. That clear-cut fact should define news coverage surrounding the ongoing inaction on Capitol Hill.

“It's just liability protection,
sweetie, don't worry your pretty
little head about it”
Instead, anxious for a Both Side story line, the press has spent months bungling the story, portraying Democrats, and specifically Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, as standing in the way of stimulus relief checks being sent out to struggling Americans. . . .

Leaning into a "gridlock" and "dysfunction" narrative, the Beltway media have botched the story for most of this year. Last summer, journalists claimed "Congress" was to blame for weekly $600 relief checks being cut off. Wrong — the payments ended because Republicans forced them to end. That kind of Both Side coverage has given Americans a skewed understanding of why the federal government under Trump isn't functioning properly in a time of national crisis.  

The point is that words matter. And the wrong words could persuade just enough adorable white suburban women in Georgia that there's no problem voting for Sen. Fembot and Sen. Finagler because they weren't mindlessly obstructing lifesaving pandemic aid.  Rather, the two crooked extremist hatemongers were simply seeking jolly “liability protection” for all of us but were victimized by "gridlock."

But the hungry, unvaccinated, evicted, and exploited will die if pandemic aid is not passed and powerless workers are forced to work in dangerous slaughterhouses without virus protection.

If you don't think words don't kill, stop by any ICU in America and see what happened after nine months of words that have buried the truth about the coronavirus pandemic and our country's non-response.

Spoiler alert:

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Problem Solvers ... to the rescue!

By Isidore Stone, Washington Correspondent
with Roscoe Arbuckle, Entertainment Editor

It's just like one of those radio or movie serials, where the heroine is tied to the train tracks by the villain and the train is approaching.  Then with a blare of bugles and a cloud of dust the U.S. Cavalry rides to the rescue, saves plucky Nell and foils the bad guys.

So in that spirit let's follow the latest exciting adventures of the Problem Solvers as they rescue the innocent, punish the wrongdoer, and bring justice to the lawless confines of Washington, D.C.

Cue rousing music.

Announcer: Boys and girls, gather round as the Red Network joins the Blue for another thrilling bipartisan adventure of the Problem Solvers.  I'm your host Mark Penn welcoming you to tonight's episode, brought to you by Big Oil, Big Pharma, Financial Finaglers and our continuing sponsor, America's billionaire elite.

It's Susan Collins and
the Problem Solvers!
Our story begins right here in the good old U.S. of A.  Folks, the country that beat the two most infernal empires in history just 80 years ago and won the Cold War just by waiting out the varmints has fallen on hard times.

Yes, this once great nation has been ravaged by a pandemic that has killed almost 300,000 persons.  That's one 9/11 a day.  Hundreds of thousands more are suffering long-term health consequences or mourning loved ones they have lost.

Even worse, millions more are going to bed worrying where the next meal is coming from and whether they will be sleeping in the streets because they can't pay the rent or the mortgage.

Yet in Washington, D.C., the government is paralyzed by a months-long gunfight between the Blue Gang, led by stubborn ol' Nancy Pelosi, and the Red Gang, whose long-time mastermind we know as Mitch “Deadheart” McConnell.  For months, they've been firing away as millions of their fellow citizens sicken, die, and starve.

Stubborn Nancy wants to spend $3.3 trillion to help them.  She's so rigid and unyielding that she's reduced her demand first to $2.4 trillion, and then to $1.8 trillion.  Meanwhile Deadheart McConnnell has been holed up at the No-OK Corral with his 51 henchmen (sadly Arizona Martha was took a bullet for the gang).

What can be done to break up the gunfight and rescue the innocent victims?  Wait, boys and girls, what's that I hear?  Is it hoof-beats?  No it's the sound of a dozen sound checks at once.  Could it be?

Yes, it's the Problem Solvers to the rescue:

A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a coronavirus aid proposal worth about $908 billion on Tuesday, aiming to break a months-long partisan impasse over emergency federal relief for the U.S. economy amid the ongoing pandemic. . . .

While the negotiations among leadership and the administration were stuck, senators in both parties worked together for weeks on a proposal to break the logjam. Several centrist senators — including Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Angus King (I-Maine), Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) — as well as members of the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus held a news conference Tuesday morning to push their proposal as a template for legislation that could pass Congress as the economy faces increasing strain from a fall surge in coronavirus cases.

“Our action to provide emergency relief is needed now more than ever before. The people need to know we are not going to leave until we get something accomplished,” Manchin said, flanked by about half a dozen lawmakers at the Capitol. “I’m committed to seeing this through.”

Whew, that was close, boys and girls!  Logjam broken!  Aid on the way!  Food on the table!  No layoffs of first responders!  And all thanks to the moderate, bipartisan Problem Solvers!

Tune in next week for another thrilling episode as the Problem Solvers save the world from global warming.  Until then boys and girls remember to drink quarts of sugary sodas every day and share your personal information with Mark Zuckerberg!  This has been a Third Way Production.

Sadly, life, especially political life, doesn't guarantee anyone a happy ending, unless of course you are Bob Kraft.  

The townspeople hailed the arrival
of the Problem Solvers

Of course, the usual suspects hailed the great victory of the Problem Solvers.  Jennifer Rubin, whose idea of a Problem Solver used to be Bibi Netanyahu, nearly swooned over the dramatic arrival of the Problem Solvers: 

Conventional wisdom suggests Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his Republican cohort will stop at nothing to hobble President-elect Joe Biden, resulting in continued gridlock and partisan warfare. However, we saw a promising sign that such an outcome is not preordained.

A bipartisan group from the House and Senate put forth a compromise stimulus package of $908 billion this week. And, lo and behold, the proposal took off.

Did you look down the runway, Jen?

That inexhaustible torrent of Conventional Wisdom, Politico, said:

The Problem Solvers may have actually solved something. For once.

Fed up by months of inaction over coronavirus relief, House and Senate centrists are showing newfound force and influence, bucking their leadership this week in the hopes of finally clinching a stimulus deal. 

Force and influence?  Wowser. 

And the patron saint of Both Siderism and Younger Shikses, Moral Mountain David Brooks said, well, just guess:

The 2020 election results have powerfully strengthened moderates. After months of gridlock, the moderates took charge this week, crafting a bipartisan $908 billion relief compromise. Led by Sens. Susan Collins, Joe Manchin, Mitt Romney and Mark Warner and endorsed by a bipartisan group of House members from the Problem Solvers Caucus, it is big enough to make a real difference and includes two thorny issues: aid to the states and liability protection, which should, on the merits, be in the law.

This is how democracy is supposed to work! Partisans stake out positions, and then dealmakers reach a compromise. This is a glimpse of the sort of normal-functioning democratic process that has been largely missing since Newt Gingrich walked onstage lo these many decades ago.

That is how democracy is supposed to work.  And marriage is supposed to be for life.  But sometimes things don't work out quite as you thought.

This week, despite the breathless excitement that greeted the Invasion of the Problem Solvers, it turned out that Ol' Deadheart Mitch was still shooting:

Mr. McConnell’s office declined to comment, though he has made it clear that he was cool to the compromise, instead urging his colleagues to drop both the liability shield and the state and local aid in favor of a much narrower package.

Looks bad for our Problem Solvers
Surely the brave Problem Solvers weren't going to be stopped by an old varmint like Deadheart Mitch.  That's the whole point of being a fearless moderate independent Problem Solver – you don't care what the bad guys say, you just solve problems and get the hell out of Dodge.

Right?  Not so much:

“I think the question I have is, will we say, ‘Hey, look, we were successful in getting $908 billion, getting people together to that number,’” said Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah and one of the lawmakers involved in the current bipartisan discussions. “We’ve solved a whole series of elements — maybe on state and local, the liability, we wait, given the time frame, until next year.”

Hey, look, Ma, it's the Problem Solvers laying down their guns and running away like the good citizens of High Noon, leaving state and local governments to cut services and, um, defund their police.

Maybe the problem that needs solving isn't gridlock in Washington between the conflagration and the fire department.  Maybe what we have to do is put out the fire.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Live Free Then Die



By Vincent Boom-Batz, M.D.
Medical Correspondent with
Nelly Bly in Washington

We are nine months into the worst pandemic in 100 years and the federal government of the most powerful nation on Earth did nothing to limit its spread.  In fact it did exactly the opposite: it opposed mask wearing (because masks smeared the Loser-in-Chief's greasy Brand X bronzer), testing (required too much government help) and limitations on public gatherings (because Republicans gotta have fun).

How'd that turn out?

As it happens, exactly as disastrously as predicted by real public health experts who knew what they were talking about:

But good news for defenders of American exceptionalism: we're exceptionally bad at this.  If we lived in Germany where the death rate is about 25% of ours, the total number of dead Americans would be only 73,303 and in South Korea it would be 3,436.   Quite a change from 1950, when both countries were in ruins and Americans were driving three-tone convertibles with whitewall tires.

If our government had been as united and effective as South Korea's, 276,000 Americans would still be alive.  That's why when Maureen's brother “Kevin” justifies his support for the Loser Superspreader-in-Chief on the basis of their shared love of country, we have to conclude that they must love their country a lot more than their fellow countrymen.

That's why they call it the Republican Party!

Actually, we knew that already, based on their lifetime opposition to ensuring that no American dies because they couldn't afford health care and future generations of Americans don't have to learn to breathe underwater because of global warming and consequent sea level rise.

But the good news is with the full outlines of the Republican-produced health care catastrophe clear to even the dullest among us, Republicans are at long last realizing they can't just sit on their asses and bloviate about the “freedom” to infect others with a fatal disease.

Nah, we're just f***in' with ya.  They still don't give a toss.

A bunch of future Congresspersons and Fox News talking heads partied maskless in Jersey earlier in the week, showing that they have the courage of their lack of conviction.

And in South Dakota, the death rate has reached 100 per 1,000, or almost 100 times the South Korean level,

The result is that the health care system in the richest, most advanced country in the world (so we are told) is at this writing collapsing:

Throughout that time, health-care workers have worried that hospitals would soon be overwhelmed. “The health-care system in Iowa is going to collapse, no question,” an infectious-disease doctor told our colleague Ed Yong early last month. The following week, a critical-care doctor in Nebraska warned, “The assumption we will always have a hospital bed for [you] is a false one.”

These catastrophes seem to be coming to pass—not just in Iowa and Nebraska, but all across the country. A national breakdown in hospital care is now starkly apparent in the coronavirus data. . . . .

Many states have reported that their hospitals are running out of room and restricting which patients can be admitted. In South Dakota, a network of 37 hospitals reported sending more than 150 people home with oxygen tanks to keep beds open for even sicker patients. . . . Some patients in Laredo, Texas, were sent to hospitals in San Antonio—until that city stopped accepting transfers. Elsewhere in Texas, patients were sent to Oklahoma, but hospitals there have also tightened their admission criteria.

Hospitals overwhelmed?  A 37% positive test rate in South Dakota?  How can this be? 

In one word: Republicans.

In one heartland kraal – Fredonia, Kansas, – a local physician has been working heroically for months to protect her fellow Kansans.  It's not going great:

According to MSNBC,

McKenney said community members have driven by her home and videotaped her, posted insulting messages about her on Facebook and pushed for her to lose her job.

"I think there's a lot of fear. And there's so much unknown," she said. "People want to blame something, and they can't blame a virus that is too small to be seen. So they blame people like me."

Resistance to public health measures has not been confined to social media or fringe members of the community. In late November, local leaders held a public hearing over a proposed 30-day mask mandate. Several residents stepped forward, comparing the proposal to abortion, the Holocaust and the loss of freedom of speech.

Leaders such as County Commission member Andrew Miller have been openly critical of masks and McKenney's suggestions. Miller did not respond to repeated requests for an interview.

McKenney, who was born and raised in Fredonia, is the daughter of Filipino immigrants, and she sometimes wonders whether race has played a role in her treatment. She added that many residents remain supportive.

"The person that is telling people to wear masks and social distance looks a little bit like the people they think manufactured this virus or caused the virus in the first place,"
she said. "We have people in the community calling it, still, the 'China virus.' They talk about how, you know, this was all a big hoax or a big ploy from the Chinese government."

Fredonia, since its successful rebellion against the Marx Brothers, is, as we all know, the seat of Wilson County.  You will be no doubt shocked to learn that last month 80% of the very fine people of Wilson County voted for the Republican candidate for President.  Looks like Joe Biden has a lot of reaching out to do!

In other hard-hit states, staunch Republicans are equally unmoved by grim reality.  South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem wants the remaining living citizens of her state to carry on and go shopping:

South Dakota set a new record for COVID-19 deaths on Saturday—and the state’s anti-lockdown governor tweeted a plea for people to go shopping. The Health Department reported 54 deaths, one more than the previous record set two weeks ago. And the state also tallied 819 new infections out of 1,892 people tested—a terrifying 43 percent positivity rate. Gov. Kristi Noem has repeatedly rejected calls for a statewide mask mandate and refused to warn people against gathering for the holidays.

In Florida, Republican Gov. and pride of Harvard Law School Ron Death Santis is living up to his name and his reputation for pandering to the Loser-in-Chief by not doing jack s***:

With Florida poised to notch its 1 millionth coronavirus case, Gov. Ron DeSantis held his first press conference in four weeks on Monday to declare that mask mandates and business closures in other states are wrong-headed and he alone has plotted the right course to combat the pandemic.

Offering blistering criticism of actions by governors in other states, epidemiologists and even the White House Coronavirus Task Force, DeSantis doubled-down on his long-held insistence that he won’t implement any measures to slow the spread of the virus among the general population. 

Texas COVID-19 policy: Party hearty, pardner!

Speaking of clueless Republicans who have Tweeted while their citizens suffered and died, what's Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott up to besides quibbling about how to interpret Texas's insanely lax reopening rules?

SAN ANGELO — On Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020, Tom Green County exceeded a 15% hospitalization rate for the coronavirus, a threshold state officials use to determine if Texas businesses can operate at normal or reduced occupancy.

The area has exceeded that 15% threshold consecutively for five days, Nov. 28-Dec. 2, according to state data.

While local officials — including Tom Green County Judge Steve Floyd and San Angelo Mayor Brenda Gunter — have publicly maintained that business restrictions imposed by the state would occur after the area reached a 7-day rolling average of hospitalizations at 15% or higher, the state said it's based on seven consecutive days.

"When a region’s hospital capacity is comprised of 15% or more COVID-19 patients for seven days in a row, there are protocols in place to automatically close bars and ratchet back openings to 50% occupancy," said Renae Eze, a spokesperson for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

Apparently not much.

But it's not just state and local Republicans.  It goes all the way to the Senate, where Moscow Mitch McConnell is still refusing to make a deal on pandemic aid even as the Democrats have retreated from their original $3.3 billion stimulus bill, to $2.4 billion, to $1.8 billion, to $908 billion.  But according to All Media, the stalemate is, wait for it, Nancy Pelosi's fault:

McConnell has held out for a miserably inadequate package including immunity for employers who risked their employees' lives to keep America in chicken nuggets, but no one is blaming him or his fellow spineless Republicans.

Actually, we don't know why anyone is surprised over Republican indifference to human suffering and death due to the raging COVID-19 pandemic.  It's been the Republican brand since the Hoover Administration.

What's the difference between refusing to pass laws and spend money to protect human life in a pandemic, and refusing to pass laws and spend money to protect human life from death and disease because the afflicted couldn't afford health care?  or food?  or housing?

To be a good libertarian, you have to be able to ignore immense amounts of human suffering, whether caused by a pandemic, racism, economic reverses, or just bad luck, like not being born or marrying into wealth.  

The next thing you know, staunch Republicans will be demanding a recount of the bodies. 


As Herman J. Mankiewicz learned in 1934 (at least according to Mank), sometimes you shouldn't make a sarcastic joke because someone will take it seriously:

Dr. Michaela Schulte works overnight shifts at St. Luke’s Health System hospitals near Boise, Idaho, treating some of the hundreds of critically ill Covid-19 patients filling hospital beds in her state during the most severe period of the pandemic so far. She, like many other health-care workers, faces yet another challenge in keeping up with the recent surge in coronavirus cases: A number of people in her community say the virus isn’t as bad as public-health and news reports indicate—and some say it isn’t real.

Outside the hospital—at the grocery-store checkout line after work, or through family friends—Dr. Schulte says she hears people calling the virus a hoax and saying medical professionals are exaggerating the severity. The disbelief, on top of the relentless physical and mental demands of their jobs during the pandemic, is draining many hands-on medical workers and making it even harder for them to provide care, they say. . . .

Covid denial, as some health-care workers call it, can take forms ranging from a belief that Covid-19 is no more serious than a routine cold, or a belief that face masks aren’t effective at slowing the spread, to the idea that the pandemic is an elaborate hoax.

An Axios-Ipsos survey in September found that 36% of people believe fewer Americans are dying from Covid-19 than the number of deaths reported, an increase from 23% who believed that was the case in May.

Oh hell no.

UPDATE: December 12.  Speaking of Live Free and Die, here's an item about the newly elected Republican Speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives:

New Hampshire Speaker of the House Richard "Dick" Hinch died from Covid-19. . . . [T]he state's chief medical examiner, Dr. Jennie V. Duval, had determined the Republican's death Wednesday was due to the disease caused by the coronavirus. Hinch was 71 . . . .  The late Republican speaker had been elected to the post on December 2.

How did that happen?  The usual way:

CONCORD, N.H. — A “small number” of Republican lawmakers who attended a recent caucus meeting have tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said Tuesday.

The development, first reported by WMUR-TV, comes a day before the 400-member House and 24-member Senate are set to meet outdoors at the University of New Hampshire to be sworn in and elect officers.

“We have a very small number of people affected and we have no reason to believe that the folks who tested positive will attempt to attend the event,” House Republican Leader Dick Hinch said in a statement Tuesday.

Republican House members gathered Nov. 20 at McIntyre Ski area in Manchester, where they nominated Hinch to become the next House speaker.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Tidings of Discomfort and Dread


By Political Correspondent Isidore F. Stone with
Leo Frank, Georgia Correspondent

As the fight to reverse the results of the Presidential election collapses into a black hole of paranoid conspiracy theories and dripping mascara, Democrats are slowly coming to the realization that in fact the Tangerine-Faced Loser will be chucked out of the White House on his ass on January 20 if he has not already retreated to Mar-a-Elba in a snit.

Some pundits have even gone so far as to claim that the 6 million plus popular vote majority constitutes a repudiation of not only the Soon-to-be-ex-Grifter-in-Chief but the evil for which he sits.  The data is sadly not so sanguine.  Not only did the Democrats fail to take the Senate or the many state legislatures where they could have stood as a bulwark against upcoming Republican efforts to steal future elections, they lost much of their House majority.

So what happened? Some of the House members were in heavily Republican districts where they were swamped by very fine people thrilled to be able to vote for the Loser-in-Chief.  But there may be another more distressing explanation, which also calls the Democrats' chances of taking the Senate into question:

Across the country, suburban voters’ disgust with Mr. Trump — the key to Mr. Biden’s election — did not translate into a wide rebuke of other Republicans, as Democrats had expected after the party made significant gains in suburban areas in the 2018 midterm elections. From the top of the party down to the state level, Democratic officials are awakening to the reality that voters may have delivered a one-time verdict on Mr. Trump that does not equal ongoing support for center-left policies.

. . . .Ms. Skopov, the losing candidate in suburban Pittsburgh, was quick to tell voters while knocking on doors before the election: “I’m a fan of our police. I’m not looking to defund police.”

Still, she was hammered in mailings by Republicans who portrayed her as having an anti-law-enforcement position, which her campaign manager, Ms. Remmert, said did great damage.

So can Democrats win over those crucial white suburban voters who delivered Georgia for Biden but seem inclined to go with more, um, wholesome Republicans like David Perdue and Kelley Loeffler? 

Senator Kelly Loeffler
Privately Democratic strategists fear that
Sen. Kelly Loeffler may be hard to beat

You may have difficulty seeing the distinction between the corrupt bigoted Loser-in-Chief and someone like David Perdue, a grifting venture capitalist who delights in fluffing the white racists of his state by pretending he can't remember the first name of the Vice-President-Elect, with whom he served in the Senate.  But nice white suburban ladies do.

Now there isn't, to use an expression favored by a legendarily astute Southern politician, a dime's worth of difference between the views of the two white Republican plutocrats running for Senate in Georgia and those of the Soon-to-be-Ex-Bigot-in-Chief.  

A nation felled by a pandemic and the consequent economic collapse cries out for financial help for those who have lost the livelihoods (like restaurant proprietors) or their access to food and shelter.  Yet Kelley Loeffler (estimated net worth: north of $250 million) and David Purdue (a pauper by comparison at $43 million) have consistently followed the Republican line of no serious stimulus, a position that tickles the Republican sweet spot: not only is it cruel in itself, but it helps cripple the incoming Democratic Administration so that Republicans can hold it responsible for the dud economy.

Our Constitutional order was almost felled by corruption and subversion at the top.  You don't hear the two Republican candidates saying boo.  

We are running out of time to get a grip on global warming yet with sea water sloshing over the streets of Miami and California aflame, they don't dare speak up.

And of course in a country where persons of color fear that they or their children will be killed either by racist police or vigilantes (as happened in . . . Georgia), these two clowns offer the usual racist bromides about law and order and supporting our shooters in blue.

What then might persuade a rational voter to oppose the Tangerine-Faced Loser and yet support unprincipled Republican goons who support everything he does?  We have a theory, which has the advantage of being supported by the facts on the ground.

It might be that what nice Republican suburban voters didn't like wasn't the incompetence, corruption, racism, and cruelty of the Corrupt Loser.  Maybe they just didn't like his style.  Maybe if he hadn't been credibly accused of 26 acts of sexual violence, spread batsh*t crazy conspiracy theories, mocked the disabled, or smeared anyone who dared to cross him, they might have voted for him because they liked what he had to say

Indeed, it's possible that these white suburban voters like the racism and the anger of threatened white privilege, and don't care about the corruption, the subversion of democratic values, the climate catastrophe, or the other 21,980 terrible policies endorsed by the Republican Party.

Good news: Kevin Dowd's back!

Let's ask a typical white Republican voter, Maureen Dowd's undoubtedly real brother “Kevin,” why he's still loyal to the Loser-in-Chief and all he represents.  We've met “Kevin,” before, so we're not going to dilate too long at this fire pit of white rage.

Despite the Corrupt Loser's inept handling of the pandemic that has led to the preventable deaths of 200,000 or more Americans, his divisive and racist opposition to the idea that Black Lives Matter, his ignorance of the real danger of global warming, his embrace of tax breaks for the rich and tormenting the poor, and his use of the Presidency solely as a tool to enrich himself and feed his vanity, Kevin sums up the undying loyalty of angry white bigots: [no link to racist drivel; this isn't Facebook]:

Democrats have been quick to dismiss any Trump supporter as a racist, homophobe or redneck, but they all shared a common trait with him, an unapologetic love of America.

This love finds its expression in the Cowardly Loser's successful avoidance of military service in the defense of his country on the basis of a phony medical deferment claim and his 40 years of cheating on the taxes that keep America functioning.  His supporters show their love by defacing the flag as a sign of their support for racist, homophobe and redneck politics, threatening lawfully elected public officials for carrying out their duties of counting votes and certifying the winner, and supporting the subversion of the American Constitution.  

“Kevin'”s hate filled cry of threatened white male privilege does contain one true claim: the 73,980,000 who voted for this catastrophe are unapologetic. 

Another possibility is that the fine suburban white Republican base believes that there is some huge gap between the screaming Tangerine-Faced Loser and prim and proper real Republicans like Loeffler and Purdue because they have been told that repeatedly by media savants eager to lionize Republicans whose conduct has cleared the one-inch bar of total disgrace.  For example, the same New York Times that told us about the continued romance between white suburbanites and Republicans asked us to admire the heroism of Republicans who bravely – allowed election returns to stand:

In Key States, Republicans Were Critical in Resisting Trump’s Election Narrative

They refuted conspiracy theories, certified results, dismissed lawsuits and repudiated a president of their own party.

Gee, thanks, fellas.  Of course if you read down to paragraph 9, you learn that maybe the Republican Party generally didn't heroically take a stand for democracy and Constitutional order:

Unfounded as it is, the president’s campaign against the results may leave lasting scars. With much of the Republican establishment endorsing or staying silent on Mr. Trump’s claims, and polls indicating that tens of millions of Republicans believe the election was somehow rigged, faith in American democracy, the fundamental tenet of the social contract established by the framers, has eroded in a dangerous way. And Mr. Biden, the incoming president, now faces a country where many of his constituents consider him illegitimate. 

Many of his Republican constituents, that is.  

And it's not just the media, but superannuated Democratic gasbags eager to spread the glad tidings that there so many good Republicans out there if you know where to look:

Wilfred M. Romney? The Republican who stood up and bravely did nothing when Republicans refused to take up a bill to rush emergency aid to Americans in agony during a pandemic? Who boasted about sneaking on to the Supreme Court an insane cultist after millions of American had already voted?  Who loyally supported burying the John Lewis Voting Rights Act? Who built his entire fortune on stripping and flipping companies and shipping American jobs overseas?  Who tied his crated dog to the roof of his car?  That Mitt Romney?

If we're going to peddle the ridiculous fiction that there's a meaningful difference between lethal plutocrats like Romney, Loeffler, and Perdue and corrupt bigots like the Tangerine-Faced Loser, we shouldn't be surprised if very fine white suburban voters believe us.  

So let's not.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

The monster is burning the village!

By Nellie Bly, Political Correspondent and
Roscoe Arbuckle, Show Business Correspondent

A few weeks ago, we opined that there were few movie climaxes as riveting as the bunker scene, when the demented madman rages against the inevitable as the walls close in upon him.

But these days our thoughts turn to classic climax of the horror movie: when the monster turns on the evil humans who created him.  Perhaps that's because of this heart-rending story in Friday's New York Times about the assault on that plucky innocent and fish-fingers heir, Tucker Carlson, after he attacked the Tangerine-Faced Loser's batsh*t crazy mouthpiece, Sidney Powell, for making wild accusations of election fraud without any evidence:

“What Powell was describing would amount to the single greatest crime in American history,” Mr. Carlson said on Thursday night, his voice ringing with incredulity . . . . “Millions of votes stolen in a day. Democracy destroyed. The end of our centuries-old system of government.” But, he said, when he invited Ms. Powell on his show to share her evidence, she became “angry and told us to stop contacting her.”

The response was immediate, and hostile. The president’s allies in conservative media and their legions of devoted Trump fans quickly closed ranks behind Ms. Powell and her case on behalf of the president, accusing the Fox host of betrayal.

“How quickly we turn on our own,” said Bo Snerdley, Mr. Limbaugh’s producer, in a Twitter post that was indicative of the backlash against Mr. Carlson. “Where is the ‘evidence’ the election was fair?” [Except the unanimous testimony of election officials of both parties – Ed.]

The backlash against Mr. Carlson and Fox for daring to exert even a moment of independence underscores how little willingness exists among Republicans to challenge the president and his false narrative about the election he insists was stolen. . . .

The same fear that grips elected Republicans — getting on the wrong side of voters who adore Mr. Trump but have little affection for the Republican Party — has kept conservative media largely in line. And that has created a right-wing media bubble that has grown increasingly disconnected from the most basic facts about American government in recent weeks, including who will be inaugurated as president on Jan. 20, 2021. 

Also Russia from her house.

. . . . Roosh Valizadeh, a writer and podcast host who supports the president, summed up the anger aimed at Fox by many on the right, saying, “As long as Tucker Carlson works for Fox News, he can’t be fully trusted.”

. . . . Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review and sometimes critic of the president who called his refusal to concede “absurd and sophomoric,” said that . . . breaking the will that many Trump supporters have to believe he is the rightful winner was extremely difficult.

“They want it to be true,” Mr. Lowry said. “On top of that, there’s an enormous credibility gap and radical distrust of other sources of information. And that’s compounded by the fact that the president has no standards and is surrounded by these clownish people who will say anything. It’s a toxic stew.”

Mr. Lowry added that he thought Mr. Carlson’s words were “admirable” and had told the Fox host so himself. “It’s one thing for people who’ve been opposed to Trump all along, or mixed, to say something like that,” Mr. Lowry said. “It’s another thing for a leader of the populist wing of the conservative movement to call it out.” 

Another thing, indeed.

But to understand why Republicans provocateurs like Fish Fingers and the editors of the National Review were subject to such abuse at the hands of the Trumpublican monster, we need to be unkind and rewind.  [No one under 40 will get that reference – Ed.]

The Times piece itself sketches in the backstory:

Mr. Carlson is no ordinary Trump critic. He has been one of the president’s most aggressive defenders in prime time, especially when it came to standing up for Mr. Trump as he attacked African-American politicians, athletes and the racial justice activists in the Black Lives Matter movement. He has also generally bought into the disproved notion that voter fraud is a widespread problem — a popular position with Mr. Trump and on Mr. Carlson’s network. 

But to understand how the Trumpublican angry white supremacists have come to accept lies over truth, you'd have to look back about sixty years or so to review the diet of increasingly strident lies they have been fed – by the exact same gasbags who are shocked, shocked to discover that the base actually believed what they told him.

First, is Fish-Fingers Carlson actually a fearless crusader for truth?  If you believe that, you're probably constructing an outhouse for the neighborhood wild bears.  According to Media Matters, Carlson has been called out in hundreds of deliberate falsehoods, all of which were devoted to fanning the flames of unjustified white racist grievance:

And that's just since October 1.  

The Media Matters file on this hatemonger, like the known universe, has no observable end.

You might surmise that fed a steady diet of this crap 24/7 Trumpublicans might start to believe it.  They then might regard any deviation from these hate-ridden fictions as explicable only as a deliberate lie.

As for the National Review's Rich Lowry, let's remember his publication's greatest claim to fame, which was its consistent opposition to civil rights in the 1960's on the grounds that white goobers in the South were superior to Blacks.  For those of you just tuning in, this is a racist lie.

Here's a taste of this Southern fried bigotry: 

Consider, for example, this National Review editorial from 1957 (cited in Paul Krugman’s recent book The Conscience of a Liberal):

The central question that emerges—and it is not a parliamentary question or a question that is answered by merely consulting a catalog of the rights of American citizens, born Equal—is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes—the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race. National Review believes that the South’s premises are correct. If the majority wills what is socially atavistic, then to thwart the majority may be, though undemocratic, enlightened. It is more important for any community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority. Sometimes it becomes impossible to assert the will of a minority, in which case it must give way; and the society will regress; sometimes the numerical minority cannot prevail except by violence: then it must determine whether the prevalence of its will is worth the terrible price of violence.

The equanimity in that last clause is particularly chilling when you consider that it was published only two years after Emmett Till’s murder.

But tell people, especially white racists, what they want to hear long enough and they're going to be mighty surprised and disappointed when you try to tell them you were making it up along.  So perhaps ol' Fish Fingers shouldn't have been so surprised to find out that the monster he did so much to create has come after him.  And his moneybags, the amazingly alive Rupert Murdoch, might want to consider whether he has to pay huge bucks for supposed stars like Tucker.  Anyone willing to shovel the racist lies the monster demands will do just fine.  We're sure someone will remind the old Aussie that Kayleigh McEnany will be available in 62 days and she works cheap.

In any event, Tucker and Rick and all the others who have strayed from the white supremacist party line should remember what happens when you rile up the Trumpublican monster.

It's not pretty:


Sunday, November 15, 2020

Chasing Unity


By Emma Goldman
Social Affairs Editor
with Andrew Goodman on assignment in the South

With the election of Joe Biden now unmistakable to all but the meanest intelligence, and his 73 million diehards, the incoming President has called for unity.  Today The New York Times rounded up the usual diner patrons and reported that it wasn't going to be easy:

More specifically,

Towering before him is a wall of Republican resistance, starting with Mr. Trump’s refusal to concede, extending to G.O.P. lawmakers’ reluctance to acknowledge his victory and stretching, perhaps most significantly for American politics in the long term, to ordinary voters who steadfastly deny the election’s outcome. 

Who saw that coming?  Perhaps anyone who has been awake this century or learned anything about American history, but you don't have to open a dusty book to suspect that the drive for unity has already broken down in the ditch of a country where most Republican officeholders and many if not most Republican voters can't unite around the fact that Biden was elected:

On Monday in Dallas, hundreds of Mr. Trump’s supporters gathered outside the city’s election office in a “Stop the Steal” protest promoted by the state Republican Party. The message from speakers and attendees went further than expressing fears of election fraud, amounting to a wholesale rejection of a Biden presidency and of the Republican elected officials who acknowledged it. One speaker said of the Republican lawmakers who had called Mr. Biden the president-elect, “Remember who they are when you go to the polls next.”

Now portraying the incoming Democratic President as somehow illegitimate has been the Republican playbook since at least 1992, so who really can be surprised when Republicans take it to the next step and claim in the face of all those pesky facts (including statements of  Republican election officials) that the election was somehow “rigged?”  And if one political party is basing its claim to power on paranoid lies about the other, it's hard to know how to unify around that.  

So that's one problem.  But the road to unity is littered with tank traps, as these very fine diner diners will tell you:

Ms. Smith, 67, and her husband, Dennis, 69, tied their unequivocal support for the president — even in defeat — to larger cultural concerns.

Like Mr. Biden and his supporters, the Smiths saw this election as a battle for the country’s soul. To unify with Mr. Biden would be an admission that the battle is lost, and that the multicultural tide powering his victory will continue its ascension.

“Everything I worked for, Biden wants to give to the immigrants to help them live, when they don’t do nothing but sit on their butts,” Mr. Smith said.

“And if those protesters come here, if they go tearing up stuff, I guarantee you they won’t be in this town very long,” he added. “We’ll string them up and send them out of here — and it won’t be the same way they came in.”

If you were hoping we could unite around our shared revulsion of lynching protesters (or indeed anyone), sorry!  By the way, have you ever met an undocumented immigrant who sits on their butt, like this guy?  We bet you haven't because they're not eligible for any cash assistance or food stamps, so if they don't work, they die.

And here's another grumpy old white man spouting insane crap that we're having a hard time unifying with.  This superannuated tosser claimed that the effort to fight the lethal coronavirus

“has resulted in previously unimaginable restrictions on individual liberty.” “I am not diminishing the severity of the virus’s threat to public health,” he said. “All that I’m saying is this, and I think that it is an indisputable statement of fact: We have never before seen restrictions as severe, extensive and prolonged as those experienced for most of 2020.” 

We haven't seen a pandemic take 235,000 American lives in quite a while either, gramps.  By the way, the speaker wasn't some fat duffer slurping pie in a diner, he was, wait for it, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, who has decided he does not want to be known as The Great Unifier. 

This bats**t crazy sentiment from yet another distinguished Republican graduate of the Harvard Law School reminds us that we can't even achieve unity on what our old friend Tom Hobbes thought was something everyone agreed on: the absolute priority of self-preservation.

While South Dakota has been crushed by COVID-19, viz:

and the Governor of North Dakota (which apparently thanks to Pres. Harrison is another thing entirely) has finally admitted that masks must be worn, his colleague in the stricken South, Gov. Kristi “Choose Death” Noem has, to promote her future in the Republican Party, taken a different approach:

Death before Democrats may be a principle, but it's not likely that we will be able to rally around it, at least until Gov. Noem's loyal supporters are all in the ground.  If Republicans want their voters to die rather than making them taking sensible temporary public health precautions for the duration of a pandemic, it's hard to see a single f***in' thing around which we can come together as a nation other than Nacho Cheez Doritos.

There's a peculiar thing about all of these divisions: on one side is white supremacy, usually financed by plutocratic big bucks.  On the other side are non-crazy people.  Nor should this be a surprise: this fault line runs through all of American life and history.  Atop this dispatch is an illustration by our old pal Tom Nast.  It's entitled “Compromise with the South,” in response to pleas for unity from Copperhead Democrats who wanted the United States to lure the Confederacy back into the United States by allowing them to continue to enslave Black men, women, and children. 

The cartoon shows a triumphant Confederate, whip in hand, leaning over the grave of Union dead to accept obeisance from a crippled Union soldier and a grieving nation while in the background cities burn and Black men and women are in chains.  The epitaph over the Union grave reads “In Memory of the Union Heroes Who Died in a Useless War.”  President Lincoln yearned for Unity, but he knew it was no substitute for Victory. 

As we write this, we're listening to unity-yearnin' Yuval Levin, a well-paid flack for the right-wing American Enterprise Institute, who recommends we build unity bottom up at the local level rather than worry too much about whom we elect to national office.  Let's just say his past experience on building unity gives his views a great deal of – validity.  He doesn't teach a course at Columbia on Media, Movies, and National Unity, but he has “served as a member of the White House domestic policy staff under President [and Great Unifier] George W. Bush.”  So there!

Now some things (like preventing local police from brutalizing Black citizens) could be addressed at the local level, although we don't see much progress there, despite the undoubtedly hard work of the Massachusetts Legislature.  But ensuring health care for all, addressing a national pandemic, reversing the lethal effects of climate change, and protecting the nation from corrupt politicians nobbled by Russian subversion can't be fixed by building campfires on the town common, can they? 

And aren't those national goals more pressing and important than Unity?  Unity may be appealing and even cute, but if you're spending all your time pursuing it with help from the Bush Administration geniuses at the Acme Enterprise Institute, you're likely to find yourself noticing that, like Wile E. Coyote, there's nothing beneath your feet but air.