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.