Friday, April 24, 2020

SPONSORED CONTENT - An open letter from Jeff Bezos to his peons

The Massachusetts Spy is made possible by a generous grant from the 
Jeff Bezos Charitable Foundation

An open letter to my peons, from 
your boss and idol, Jeff Bezos

Hello down there!

It is I, Jeff Bezos, taking time from my busy schedule of hobnobbing with French Presidents and wranglin' dogies on my manly West Texas ranch, to reach out to you, my loyal workers (not to mention the many independent contractors who deliver for us without me having to be responsible for their health and welfare in any way, shape, or form)!

By the way, I am sending this important message to you as a blog post so that you can read it on your own time, not mine.  Waiting in line for mandatory security inspections (for which you are not paid) is an excellent time to read of my concern for each and every one of you!

I know that many of you will be relieve to hear that in light of the current crisis I have decided to return to day-to-day management of the company that I control absolutely.  Already the results are gratifying.  Since my return, the value of my controlling position in Amazon has increased by $25,000,000,000.  To which I can only say: thank you.

The reality is that I could not have trousered this truly insane amount of money (tax free, because we do not have a Communistic wealth tax in this great and glorious land of ours) without the help of each and every one of you.

You have made me the insanely rich plutocrat I am today.  You have allowed yourself to be placed at the bottom of a ruthless hierarchy of money and power, free from the protections that previous generations of industrial workers enjoyed, including labor unions and a government that believed it had a duty to protect workers from the rapacity of business owners like yours truly.

Thank God those days are over!  Today, I and my minions can fire any of you at any time for any reason (or for no reason at all) and you have absolutely no say in the matter.  I can drive down your wages and benefits below poverty levels.  I can work you like galley slaves until you drop from injury and exhaustion.  Had you voted for union representation and a Democratic President and Congress none of this would have been possible.  But you didn't and here we are!

And that was before the coronavirus pandemic, which is ravaging our country and my warehouses.  I know many of you are suffering.  I am too, despite the $25 billion I shoved into my manly jeans.  I can't lecture the President of France in person.  I can't eat at Carbone's and other swell restaurants.  I can't even get an interplanetary woodie watching one of my rockets take off in person.

But enough about me. Let's talk about you.  You're working harder than ever in my sweatshops [Surely, warehouses – Adv't Mgr.]  because our business is booming.

And because of all that money I'm making, we can't afford niceties like the social distancing prescribed by public health professionals and practiced by everyone I know personally, even those who are only modestly affluent.

I have personally instructed my executives to rustle up some masks for your churls, as reported in the competition (also known as The New York Times – but click here [Intern – insert link] for a great offer on digital subscriptions to my Washington Post!):

On March 21, Mr. Bezos sent a rare letter to all of Amazon’s employees, which the company immediately posted on its blog. He said the company had ordered millions of face masks for workers, though few of those orders had been filled.

Of course, our failure to provide those masks didn't absolve you of your absolute responsibility to show up for work no matter how unsafe the conditions.

That's why I was so surprised when I toured one of my grocery stores earlier this month and saw that you ignorant wage slaves were not wearing masks.  I ordered you to don them at once!  No need to thank me!

If you simple peasants don't know enough to wear masks, how can you expect me to treat you like sentient human beings?  Instead, I will ruthlessly crush and then smear anyone who dares to question the dangerous working conditions in which they work.  Hint: if the fired employee is described as “not that articulate,” “burly,” and “uppity,” you'll know what I mean!

You can rest assured that aside from requiring you to wear hot, uncomfortable masks as you race around my warehouses fetching crap, I will do nothing further for you.  I will, like my fellow Masters of the Universe, pursue farfetched schemes involving things I know nothing about, like medical research and epidemiology.

Just kidding!  I'm pleased to announce that all Amazon employees from this day forward will be entitled to a 25% discount, plus free shipping, on all body bags intended for personal or family use!  It's the Amazon way of saying Good-Bye!

One box will bury the whole family – Jeff

Friday, April 17, 2020

No more coddling: we take the advice of Moral Mountain Dave

By David Bloviator
Political Editor
with A.J. Liebling, Meta-content Generator

The news continues to be unendurably bleak.  The burdens on most Americans have become crushing, except for those lucky few white men who have cushy no-heavy-lifting jobs dispensing platitudes on the New York Times Op-Ed Page or lush carried interests from financial finagling, held harmless from the foreseeable consequences of their lust for risk thanks to unlimited backstops of cash and credit from the Federal Reserve.

So what does this guy offer our suffering nation?

 If you guessed solace, comfort, or even some sensible policy prescriptions for digging ourselves out of the current pit of disease Republicans have put us in, you lost!

What tf is Complete National Disgrace Brooks talking about?  Who's being coddled, other than overpaid liars on Schlox News, airlines and other huge businesses, and, of course, all Republican whackjobs?

We don't know and tbh we don't care.  We've got bigger worms to fry today.  Since CND Brooks never manages to mount anything that seems like an argument, we'll just run with the headline.

So who should we stop coddling today?

Come on down, The Lincoln Project.  What is the Lincoln Project, you ask.  Apparently it's a tiny bunch of Republican names who have decided that even they can't vote for America's #1 threat to public health and will therefore make the only logical, moral choice: Joe Biden.  They made quite a splash on The Washington Post Op-Ed page this week:

When we founded the Lincoln Project, we did so with a clear mission: to defeat President Trump in November. Publicly supporting a Democratic nominee for president is a first for all of us. We are in extraordinary times, and we have chosen to put country over party — and former vice president Joe Biden is the candidate who we believe will do the same. . . . .

Biden is now the presumptive Democratic nominee and he has our support. Biden has the experience, the attributes and the character to defeat Trump this fall. Unlike Trump, for whom the presidency is just one more opportunity to perfect his narcissism and self-aggrandizement, Biden sees public service as an opportunity to do right by the American people and a privilege to do so.

They have gotten a lot of good press for their position, as obvious as it would seem to any carbon-based life form.  But we take our ethical cues from Moral Mountain Dave, who showed us how it's done by dumping his first wife for his fruity research assistant whilst betraying his Jewish faith and people.

So we're going to apply the principle of “no coddling” to the Lincoln Project, as painful as it may be.

First who are these guys? (and they're almost all guys – who could have guessed?)   They admit they are all Republicans who proudly supported inadequate reactionary war criminals like George W. Bush, and in 2016, given the chance to save America from the reign of President PAB, whiffed it.

Well, there's noted U Bum hater and high-paid lawyer/pol George Conway, who describes himself as “ a lawyer in New York City and a founding member of Checks & Balances, a group of conservative and libertarian lawyers organized to defend the rule of law.”

In fact, in the same Washington Post you can read him defending the rule of law that prevented the Governor of a State from trying to permit his state's voters to cast a ballot without forfeiting their lives during an unprecedented pandemic.

He's best known, aside from his happy marriage, as being instrumental in concocting the perjury trap that led to the impeachment of Bill Clinton following his false testimony in a collateral matter arising out of the ridiculous Paula Jones civil action.

Then there's long time Republican fixer/mouthpiece/hatchet man Rick Wilson, who's also getting good notices for his we admit pretty funny attacks on U Bum and his hapless enablers.  But the laffs and applause can't quite drown out his past:

During the 2008 presidential election, Wilson was responsible for the creation of ads attacking then-Sen. Barack Obama (D) for his relationship with pastor Jeremiah Wright. According to Politico, Wilson began crafting the attack after a video was released showing Wright "damning the country, criticizing Israel, faulting U.S. policy for the Sept. 11 attacks and generally lashing out against white America."  Wilson created the ads for the National Republican Trust PAC. He told Buzzfeed that the ad was designed to change the tone of the election, saying, "That ad launched into the teeth of three very negative trends for the GOP: the markets had tanked, McCain’s campaign was collapsing and the American press was so deeply in love with Barack Obama that if they’d found a dead girl in the trunk of his car, they’d have shrugged it off. Everything was excused, every sin forgiven."
It's not like Steve Schmidt
has ever been wrong before
Then there's fellow Republican flack Steve Schmidt, who brought us, wait for it, Sarah Palin:

It was Mr. Schmidt who first championed Sarah Palin as Mr. McCain’s running mate, a bold move, he told Mr. McCain, that could win him the White House. Instead, her selection was widely viewed as one of the most calamitous political judgments in modern presidential politics. 

There's a man whose judgment you can take to the bank, although maybe not if you want an emergency loan.  He also was involved in the first of three farcical efforts to install a safe white male billionaire in the White House.

Let's not coddle the women of the Lincoln Project either, like New Hampshire's Jennifer Horn:

We could go on listing the greatest hits of these Bush apologists and flacks forever.  But let's pause for a moment to hear why the Lincoln Project brains trust support Joe Biden: “Biden will be the superior leader during the crisis of our generation.”

There's more inspirational gab about what a great guy Joe Biden is.  What there isn't is any mention of the policies that Joe Biden will carry out as President: expanding access to health care for all, taking strong action to address the coming crisis of climate change, restoring honesty, competence, and the rule of law to the Executive Branch, raising taxes on the rich, rebuilding our shattered infrastructure, addressing the historic racism and misogyny that have crippled the lives of a majority of Americans, and rebuilding our shattered foreign policy, not on bullying, lies, and fomenting war, but on respect for our allies, advancing human rights, and negotiating effective agreements with our adversaries, like the Iran nuclear deal.

We suspect that the worthies of the Lincoln Project didn't address Biden's policies for reasons other than lack of space.  The most likely explanation is that they don't agree with the policies that a President Biden and a Democratic Congress would put into action and enact into law.  It is equally likely that if Biden is elected, these same Lincoln Projectors will return to their historic advocacy on behalf of privileged white men, or in other words, the Republican platform.

In fact, we are willing to guarantee that if Biden is elected, the 0.0001% of the Republican Party represented by the Lincoln Projectiles will claim that their support was instrumental.  They will also claim that in exchange for that crucial support, Biden should abandon the policies on which he ran and support their program of tax cuts for the rich and bats*** crazy Catholic extremists and rapists for the Supreme Court.

Ultimately the Lincoln Logs are peddling the fantasy that President PAB is a shocking departure from Republican norms. Here's an example from Lincoln Penny Rick Wilson, op. cit.:

He's referring to a recent near-riot demanding that Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer be locked up for advocating science-based public health protections.  Notice that Wilson attributes that insanity to something call “Esoteric Trumpism.”

The uncoddled truth is, according to the real journalists at the Michigan Advance, um, less esoteric:

And let’s not be na├»ve about the politics involved. Team Trump clearly freaked out when they saw Whitmer (who you may have heard is on the VP shortlist) score 20 points higher than him in must-win Michigan on handling COVID-19. That’s when you saw activists start spreading memes lying that American flags and baby car seats were banned just to gin up stories in right-wing media and score political points.

Wednesday’s raucous protest may have been an astro-turf operation (shockingly, yes, a DeVos-funded group was involved), but this was no Brooks Brothers Riot. (Sorry, for folks who are not old, that was the protest during the the George W. Bush-Al Gore 2000 debacle in Florida where snappy-suit-clad dudes demanded votes stop being counted). [And Nicolle Wallace – Ed.]

Many Republican leaders and their wealthy donors didn’t show up to the one in Lansing — which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the safety risks involved. But why put yourself and your family in harm’s way when you can outsource protesting to folks who think conspiracy king Alex Jones’ “magic” remedies will keep the evil vibes away?

Yup, it's not esoteric at all – it's the Republican Party, powered by white bigotry and dark money.  Same as it ever was.

So if we are being true to the ol' Perfesser's sublime moral imperatives, we have to stop coddling the Lincoln Memorialists who are at root peddling a false narrative about the relationship between U Bum ideology and Republican principles.  The true nature of that relationship is identity.

And if truth in advertising is important, we suggest that these Lincoln Continentals brand themselves honestly.  They should call themselves The Hoover Project, in honor of the man whose principles they reflect and embody.

In 1932,  President Herbert Hoover, campaigning for re-election when America was as paralyzed by depression as it is now by pandemic, said that Mr. F. D. Roosevelt and the Democrats were “proposing changes and so-called new deals which would destroy the very foundations of our American system.”

Do the Lincoln Projecteers disagree with Mr. Republican?  Nothing in what they have ever said or advocated for now or then suggests that they do.   And that's why they don't deserve coddling now.

If all is right with the moral universe, I expect that this faithful application of his principles will incite Complete National Disgrace Brooks to treat me to a sopprassata sub for lunch as soon as it is safe to do so.  Onions and hot peppers only please.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Coming up next on the Celebrity Idiot Apprentice President: Live Free and Die

By Ida Tarbell
Spy Washington Bureau

President U Bum is threatening to reopen America without adequate testing and contact screening.  The inevitable result, according to people who actually know what they're talking about, would be catastrophe: hundreds of thousands of needless deaths, following by even worse economic calamity:

Rather than ramping up a massive national testing regime, the federal government has been signaling to states that they’re soon going to be on their own. And as for contact tracing  . . .  to track down every contact of a person who tests positive — well, there’s simply no sign whatsoever that either project is even in the works, let alone ready for an early May rollout. And if the government doesn’t have the capacity to quickly identify and isolate new cases, relaxing social distancing will simply lead to renewed outbreaks.

So is the Grifter-in-Chief starring in a Washington version of the road to Jonestown, when hundreds of clueless cult followers committed mass suicide at the direction of their charismatic evil leader, Jim Jones?

With an Administration this demented and malicious, you don't want to dismiss any possibility no matter how terrifying or repugnant, but we think something else is at work.  Let's start with the stupidest explanation, which is the Occam's Razor for the Tangerine-Faced Grifter.

Keep in mind that to President PAB, there is nothing besides the performance.  This has been true of his entire wretched, failed career.  It didn't matter how many times his crapcan casinos went bankrupt or he had to be bailed out by his father, as long as he could play the role of real estate tycoon/swinger/B list celebrity.

One thing about Republican Presidents: 
they're consistent
Today, it doesn't matter how many thousands die, how many doctors and nurses are needlessly exposed to a potentially-fatal disease due to his inept handling of protective gear, how shambolic his government's response to this public health crisis is, or what qualified experts are telling him.  All that matters is the next episode of his current smash reality-TV hit, The Celebrity Idiot Apprentice President,  weeknights at 6 Eastern (check local listings to find which stations owned by Sinclair or Fox are still broadcasting this crap).

Since he has nothing useful or newsworthy to say, President Tiny Toadstool has to offer a cliffhanger to get the rubes to tune in tomorrow.  What better than when can you attend your favorite monster truck rally?  Will it be Easter?  May 1?  June?  Tune in tomorrow and find out!  Of course, if you do, you still won't find out because then you would stop watching.  So watch anyway and find out that the Grifter-in-Chief has punted the decision (supposedly) to an all-star panel including his gormless daughter, his incompetent son-in-law, Sean Hannity, Kid Rock, and an exciting surprise panelist!  You won't believe who it is!  Maybe they'll come out in a mask and make us all guess.

So that's the first reason.

The second reason also aligns perfectly with every past disaster the Bankrupt-in-Chief has ever been involved with, from Trump University to enlisting Russian help in stealing the 2016 election to obstructing justice by extorting the Ukrainian President.  His response to every failure: blame it on someone else.  Why did real President Obama who left office in January, 2017 fail to order tests for a virus that didn't spread to humans until 2019?  Why didn't Governors buy ventilators they didn't know they would ever need when they were cheap?  Why did a pair of dallying FBI agents allegedly create the irrefutable evidence of his campaign's involvement with Russian agents?

So far, it's worked just fine for him.  To a mind as primitive as his, that can mean only one thing: let's do it again!

Start with the fact that despite his vision of himself as the Great and All-Powerful Wizard, in fact the decision to end stay-at-home orders rests not with him but with the Governors of the several states.  That's insane enough when you think about it but, given the incompetence of the current occupant of the White House, probably a blessing:

 In actuality, the decision on when and how to reopen is not entirely Mr. Trump’s to make because he never ordered it closed. The stay-at-home edicts that have kept the vast bulk of Americans indoors were issued by governors state by state.

In reality, the clueless celebrity apprentice President is contemplating the following scenario:

1.  Set a ridiculous date for the reopening, based on sage advice from Jared, Art Laffer, and Francis the Talking Mule.  Just kidding – it turns out President U Bum is getting advice from hedge fund grifters and finaglers:

Paul Tudor Jones made an impassioned push to reopen the economy on a conference call organized by Mr. Kushner several weeks ago, these people said, and the investor Nelson Peltz was said to be influential in Mr. Trump’s since-aborted plan to begin reopening by Easter.

2.  Forty or more Governors ignore him, except for the ten or so southern and plains-state Republicans who have drunk the hydroxychloroquine.

3.  The country remains on lockdown.

4.  The economy remains stagnant.

Would she lie to you?  Ask the IRS!
5.  President U Bum now blames the economic crises not on his own incompetence (which would be correct) but on those coastal elite Governors keeping people home for no reason.

6.  This absurd line is propagated night and day through the Schlox News disinformation cannons.

7.  A majority of white people buy it.

Add a collapse of the electoral system like Wisconsin, a Supreme Court determined to extend Republican power, some half-assed third party pinko spoiler (like Jill Stein), Russian subversion, and, presto, you've got a re-election!

You've also got plenty of death and suffering.  To find out how the Celebrity Idiot Apprentice President handles that, tune in tonight!

 It's entertainment to die for!

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Dr. Brit Hume's good news: everybody dies of something!

By A.J. Liebling
Meta- Content Generator
with Vincent Boom-Batz, Medical Correspondent

You might think from reports like this in The New York Times that things are looking, well, bleak out there:

New York, the increasingly battered epicenter of the nation’s coronavirus outbreak, on Friday reported its highest number of deaths in a single day, prompting state officials to beg the rest of the United States for assistance and to enact an emergency order designed to stave off medical catastrophe.

In the 24 hours through 12 a.m. on Friday, 562 people — or one almost every two-and-a-half minutes — died from the virus in New York State, bringing the total death toll to nearly 3,000, double what it was only three days before.

The reports from those on the front lines included in Times coverage are truly frightening:

It is hard to put fully into words what we are all grappling with as we navigate our way through this pandemic,” Vicki L. LoPachin, the chief medical officer of the Mount Sinai Health System, wrote in an email to the staff on Friday. “We are healing so many and comforting those we can’t save — one precious life at a time.

But fear not, because ex-reporter and full-time U Bum shill and Schlox News disinformation cannon Brit Hume will show you the error of your ways, not to mention those of credulous news outlets like the Times or hysterical (well, she is female) bleatings of health care bureaucrats attempting to line their pockets with N95 masks.

Yep, things aren't as bad as you have been led to believe (as Schlox News has insisted consistently since President PAB first dropped the coronavirus ball):

The correct number of coronavirus deaths isn't as the Times would have you believe isn't close to 3,000, it's, according to Dr. Hume, more like 14.  His unimpeachable source: some guy on Twitter.

Wait until Dr. Hume finds out that the death rate for people not infected with the virus is . . . 100%.  Sooner or later.

Before we ask why on earth any unit of government or health care institution would inflate the number of deaths (probably for the same reason that real reporters like Maggie Haberman and Lizzie O'Leary report in horror that the sirens never stop on the streets of densely-populated Brooklyn), let's think about the, um, merits of his position for a minute.

If someone is brought into the Mount Sinai emergency room with a gunshot wound to the chest and is also positive for coronavirus, is that person's death attributed to coronavirus?  Of course it depends.  If that person bleeds out in 20 minutes, it's death by trauma.  If that person is sewed up and six days develops acute respiratory distress and dies, wouldn't you categorize the cause of death as the virus?

It also turns out that the virus is taking an especially lethal harvest of the elderly (who being elderly may have other health problems) and the poor (whose lack of access to health care and other social goods leads directly to exacerbating conditions like diabetes and asthma).  The human among us might consider whether this justifies greater expenditures on health care, including preventive care.  The U Bum kissers like Hume seem to think that if you died, having already suffered from poverty and asthma, you're not even worthy of being a statistic.

And wouldn't you trust harried hard-working medical professionals risking their lives every day to mark the cause of death based on their best judgment at the time?  Not if you're Brit Hume, who's been carrying the can for Republican disinformation for decades.

As it turns out, the likelier possibility is that the death toll has been undercounted:

The Wall Street Journal analyzed data from Italy and concluded that as the virus stretched the health care system to its breaking point, “many people who die from the virus don’t make it to the hospital and are never tested,” and thus are not included in the official count. By comparing the number of deaths in particular communities to the same period a year ago, the Journal concluded that the true count is “far higher” than the recorded one. Evidence from Spain and anecdotal reports from the United States suggest that the Italian experience is not an anomaly. 

The very old among us (well, not quite as old as Bret) remember that he started out as a legitimate legman for legendary columnist Jack Anderson.  But decades of white male privilege and arrogance, not to mention those handsome paychecks from Rupert Murdoch, took their toll.

So it's important to the current Schlox News/Trumpublican disinformation campaign to minimize the death toll.  First, it makes President Pussy Ass Bitch look less clueless and incompetent.  Moreoever, as commentators like Greg Sargent have pointed out repeatedly, sowing distrust of media and all other institutions not beholden to President U Bum creates a fog of uncertainty in which U Bum can create his own reality and feed it to his white bigoted faithful (through lackeys like Hume):

But [President Tiny Toadstool] has crossed over into a form of autocratic disinformation that is designed to render fact-based deliberation and argument impossible.

If U Bum and Hume and his other enablers can cast doubt on apparently reliable medical statistics published by institutions that have no reason to lie, they can supply their own false narrative – it's only a problem in blue states, Governors are stealing ventilators, it's not your national stockpile, it's ours – and thereby avoid ever being held responsible for their incredible ineptitude, incompetence, and prejudice that has led to thousands of needless deaths.

What would Dr. Hume say to front-line health care workers like New York surgeon Cornelia Griggs (whose parents were classmates) risking their lives due to Trumpublican incompetence who wonder if they will ever see their children again?

Would he tell her not to worry because caring for the sick is just another underlying condition?

UPDATE, April 5:  Of course Dr. Hume got it exactly wrong.  From today's Washington Post:

The fast-spreading novel coronavirus is almost certainly killing Americans who are not included in the nation’s growing death toll, according to public health experts and government officials involved in the tally.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counts only deaths in which the presence of the coronavirus is confirmed in a laboratory test. “We know that it is an underestimation,” agency spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said.

A widespread lack of access to testing in the early weeks of the U.S. outbreak means people with respiratory illnesses died without being counted, epidemiologists say. Even now, some people who die at home or in overburdened nursing homes are not being tested, according to funeral directors, medical examiners and nursing home representatives.

Postmortem testing by medical examiners varies widely across the country, and some officials say testing the dead is a misuse of scarce resources that could be used on the living. In addition, some people who have the virus test negative, experts say.