Covid-19

Herd Immunity For Thee, Daily Tests For Me


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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on May 19, 2020

"There is no genius there, only a damaged human being playing havoc with our lives."

 ― Jay Rosen  


The Trump Administration has decided to embrace the herd immunity strategy as a means to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. Oh, they haven't told you. There was no formal announcement– nothing so honest. The same stratagem once presented as an option to Boris Johnson as a means for the UK to deal with the raging infection, then rejected as altogether too expensive in terms of human lives and strain to the NHS, has been embraced by the Trump administration as policy. Superseding their own previous public guidance, Trump has exhorted state governors to "open up" their states, and encouraged armed gaggles of low-T cosplayers to take to the streets to demonstrate for their own impending illness and demise.

Meanwhile, in the last weeks, a Trump valet and a spokesperson for Mike Pence were diagnosed as Covid-19 positive. Trump's primary concern was messaging: the idea that the notion of Covid-19 stalks the White House would undercut his message that the outbreak is waning and states should begin reopening. Re-election is job one, and re-opening the country is the foundation upon which that effort will be built.

Even though you still can't get a test after several months, the White House has been deploying rapid-result tests for the virus, including testing members of the press corps. Thus, testing for me but none for thee.

Thousands are dying each week, the economy is cratering, and the jackal in charge has no idea what he is doing. All that matters is his impending re-election campaign, and it doesn't really matter how many thousands of muppets have to shoveled into the incinerator to achieve that.

And Trumpsuckers love him for it. Quoted in The Guardian, here's Lee Snover, a Republican party chair a key Pennsylvania swing county, who lost her father to Covid-19, and whose husband was hospitalized with the disease:

“It spread through my entire family,” Snover said.

Trump stands accused of driving up the coronavirus death toll by downplaying the public health threat and urging the country to “reopen” too quickly. But Snover does not see the president as having failed her family.

“I don’t think people give him enough credit,” she said. “If you think about what a businessman he was, and how much he loved that booming economy, do you know how hard it was for him to shut the country down? That was hard. So I give him credit for that.”

At times it has appeared that the pandemic, which has already taken at least 90,000 lives in the United States and wreaked havoc with the economy, would also destroy support for Trump, and his chances for reelection. But interviews with longtime Trump supporters in Northampton county indicate the extraordinary durability of backing for the president among his base.

Trump has punted responsibility to state governors, saying they are "on their own." He has abdicated the roles of leadership, planning and unified purchasing that might be the useful functions of the federal government, while retaining the right to second guess any decision they make. 

Trump makes much of the fact that the US had administered the most tests (11.5M as of this writing), but only a little over three percent of the total population. We learned this week that, despite swaths of the country shutting down for two months, the U.S. is barely further along in terms of testing, and experts say that there's no realistic way to return to normal without doubling or tripling the number of tests administered every day.

So why are we not further along? Where are the tests? They went to Jared:

Kushner, it turns out, is reportedly one of the people directly responsible for the country's extreme delays in rolling out tests when the outbreak started. That's according to the Financial Times, which recently published a deep-dive into the Trump administration's chaotic and denial-plagued coronavirus response. One of Donald Trump's confidants, who's regularly in touch with the president, put the blame squarely on Kushner, saying, "Jared had been arguing that testing too many people, or ordering too many ventilators, would spook the markets and so we just shouldn’t do it. That advice worked far more powerfully on [Trump] than what the scientists were saying. He thinks they always exaggerate."

So if you are one of the numerous Americans who still can't get a Covid test, thank the smooth-cheeked porcelain-doll Dauphin and Trump scion. Jared's fecklessness is given proper shrift in an article by George Packer in the June Atlantic that details how this country's wan response to the pandemic has revealed a beggar nation in utter chaos:

Like a wanton boy throwing matches in a parched field, Trump began to immolate what was left of national civic life. He never even pretended to be president of the whole country, but pitted us against one another along lines of race, sex, religion, citizenship, education, region, and—every day of his presidency—political party. His main tool of governance was to lie. A third of the country locked itself in a hall of mirrors that it believed to be reality; a third drove itself mad with the effort to hold on to the idea of knowable truth; and a third gave up even trying…

And the "purest embodiment of political nihilism is not Trump himself but Jared the "Disruptor:".

In his short lifetime, Kushner has been fraudulently promoted as both a meritocrat and a populist. He was born into a moneyed real-estate family the month Ronald Reagan entered the Oval Office, in 1981—a princeling of the second Gilded Age. Despite Jared’s mediocre academic record, he was admitted to Harvard after his father, Charles, pledged a $2.5 million donation to the university. Father helped son with $10 million in loans for a start in the family business, then Jared continued his elite education at the law and business schools of NYU, where his father had contributed $3 million. Jared repaid his father’s support with fierce loyalty when Charles was sentenced to two years in federal prison in 2005 for trying to resolve a family legal quarrel by entrapping his sister’s husband with a prostitute and videotaping the encounter.

Imagine that Thanksgiving dinner.

So when his father-in-law became president, Kushner quickly gained power in an administration that raised amateurism, nepotism, and corruption to governing principles. As long as he busied himself with Middle East peace, his feckless meddling didn’t matter to most Americans. But since he became an influential adviser to Trump on the coronavirus pandemic, the result has been mass death.

In his first week on the job, in mid-March, Kushner co-authored the worst Oval Office speech in memory, interrupted the vital work of other officials, may have compromised security protocols, flirted with conflicts of interest and violations of federal law, and made fatuous promises that quickly turned to dust. “The federal government is not designed to solve all our problems,” he said, explaining how he would tap his corporate connections to create drive-through testing sites. They never materialized. He was convinced by corporate leaders that Trump should not use presidential authority to compel industries to manufacture ventilators—then Kushner’s own attempt to negotiate a deal with General Motors fell through. With no loss of faith in himself, he blamed shortages of necessary equipment and gear on incompetent state governors.

To watch this pale, slim-suited dilettante breeze into the middle of a deadly crisis, dispensing business-school jargon to cloud the massive failure of his father-in-law’s administration, is to see the collapse of a whole approach to governing.

But for those of us who live out here in flyover country, it's back to normal. Open the beaches, open the bars, open the barber shops, and second wave be damned.


Writing in Pressthink, journalism observer Jay Rosen gets it exactly correct– Trump's plan is to have no plan:

The plan is to have no plan, to let daily deaths between one and three thousand become a normal thing, and then to create massive confusion about who is responsible— by telling the governors they’re in charge without doing what only the federal government can do, by fighting with the press when it shows up to be briefed, by fixing blame for the virus on China or some other foreign element, and by “flooding the zone with shit,” Steve Bannon’s phrase for overwhelming the system with disinformation, distraction, and denial, which boosts what economists call “search costs” for reliable intelligence.

Stated another way, the plan is to default on public problem solving,and then prevent the public from understanding the consequences of that default. To succeed this will require one of the biggest propaganda and freedom of information fights in U.S. history, the execution of which will, I think, consume the president’s re-election campaign. So much has already been made public that the standard script for a White House cover up (worse than the crime…) won’t apply. Instead, everything will ride on the manufacture of confusion. The press won’t be able to “expose” the plot because it will all happen in stark daylight. The facts will be known, and simultaneously they will be inconceivable

Not only is the plan to have no plan, but to question the objective reporting og events. Part of the non-plan to "prevent the public from understanding the consequences of that default" is to question the numbers. Last week Deborah Birx loudly said that 'there is nothing from the CDC that I can trust' in a White House coronavirus task force meeting. Hers was the first sortie in a wholesale assault on the methodolgy used by the CDC and others in tabulating the death toll. How long before Hannity, Limbaugh and the other attack dogs of the right join in the attack?

The truth seems to be that Birx and others fear that the CDC's data-tracking system was inflating coronavirus statistics like death rates and case numbers. Recent research indicates that COVID-19 deaths have been severely undercounted, both in the US and around the world, particularly in the early stages of the pandemic. Texas reported its highest single-day increase in new COVID-19 cases as restaurants, salons, and cinemas open to the public, And in other early-opening states, GOP Governors are actively cooking the books in their respective states. 

Even now, if you are one of the ghouls who checks the daily totals (and I am), a gap has opened up between the statistics reported by the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering, and the Worldometers web site. After tracking together for the last several months, the Johns Hopkins numbers are running behind the Worldometers numbers. Whether this is a momentary anomaly or represents a symptom of a greater discrepancy, I cannot tell.


How about the costs? Meanwhile, New coronavirus cases in Germany almost tripled within 24 hours — less than a week after the country started reopening — as it considers an 'emergency brake' to reinstate harsher lockdowns. We are also told thst Texas is showing a spike in cases. Hard to tell what is happening in the New Confederacy, as Governors and state Health departments slow-walk the numbers and play statistical games to change the subject. But time will tell; it always does.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

A Journal of the Plague


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964From the keyboard of Surly1
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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on April 5, 2020

"The taverns are fair full of gadabouts making merry this eve. Though I may press my face against the window like an urchin at a confectioner’s, I am tempted not by the sweetmeats within. A dram in exchange for the pox is an ill bargain indeed."

— Samuel Pepys, 1665


Watching Covid-19 unfold is like watching the approach of a slow motion catastrophe. We cannot run, nor hide. We can only wait. The math is immutable, and inexorable. The confirmed infection counts and death tolls double every three days. Tick-tock.

We are told to practice "social distancing," to wear masks, to wash our hands continuously, to not touch our faces, and most of all to #Staythefuckhome. Most do. Some, including notorious ignorami, assorted MAGATs, and fundamentalist preachers whose addiction to positive cash flow depends on filling their megachurches, do not. These people should be treated as if they want you dead, judging from their actions, they do.

On a warm spring day last weekend they could be found packing cars going God-knows-where, on sidewalks with kids in tow, even going house-to-house to talk to neighbors! Amidst all the people on their bikes taking advantage of a sweet spring day to go out and provide disease vectors for the unsuspecting, I noted that a friend posted on Facebook that the parking lots down at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront  were absolutely packed. Leaving the cynical person to wonder, "what the hell is wrong with people?" 

We are linear thinkers; we do not do the exponential function very well. (Part of the reason Einstein, when asked to identify the most powerful force he had seen in a lifetime of discovery, replied, “Compound interest.")

The very next day, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued a stay-at-home order for Virginia in an effort to further stop the spread of the coronavirus. Better late than never. 

Being first to lock the state down seems to have worked for California. I saw a clip by Gavin Newsom on TV saying as much, that the lockdown flattened the impact. He/they just had the good sense to employ the only weapon available. California bought themselves time, and kept the outbreak from swamping their health system. The less the infection penetrates the population in advance of a vaccine, the better.

My inner hunchback is waiting for karma to arrive in Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, and the other states that insist on staying "open for bidness" in the face of the trump Plague. I wish I were a better person. I am not.

In a recent book review, Charles Baxter observes, 

Mania rules in many American classics. Like it or not, in what has been taken to be our national literature, the notable white male characters are often in the grip of obsession. From Captain Ahab, to Frank Norris’s McTeague, Fitzgerald’s Gatsby, Faulkner’s Thomas Sutpen, Nabokov’s Humbert Humbert, Philip Roth’s Portnoy, and James McBride’s John Brown, we are in the presence of men who want only one thing and have sold their souls to get it.

We are all maniacs now: maniacs to stay alive, to remain beyond the reach of a silent killer with near universal reach, and whose lethality will disproportionately affect the elderly and the infirm. And while we may not sell our souls, we have certainly turned our vigilance up to "10."


Samuel Pepys (pronounced: "Peeps"), a capable administrator of British naval affairs and Member of Parliament in the seventeenth century, kept a diary as a young man. He recorded his daily life for almost ten years, and his record is often regarded as Britain’s most celebrated diary.

Historians have for years been mining Pepys' insights about details of everyday life during the seventeenth century, as he documented the coronation of King Charles II and the Restoration, the Anglo-Dutch war, the Great Plague, and the Great Fire of London.  It is his descriptions of the London plague years of 1655-66 that we care about here.

The Great Plague of London killed between 75,000-100,000, roughly 20 per cent of the population. Pepys' diary is filled wth what might today be called, "hot takes:"

On hearing ill rumour that Londoners may soon be urged into their lodgings by Her Majesty’s men, I looked upon the street to see a gaggle of striplings making fair merry, and no doubt spreading the plague well about. Not a care had these rogues for the health of their elders!

As noted above, on a clear weekend day I noted cars filled with people leaving the neighborhood… going where, exactly?  And beheld the sight of a neighbor working out on another neighbor who had the good sense to hide behind a storm door while the sputum-deliverer held forth. I swear, had he crossed the street I'd have used a rake to oblige him to keep his distance.

Great fears of the Sickenesses here in the City, it being said that two or three houses are already shut up. God preserve us all.

We are all shut up in our houses now. Aside, that is, from a few states in the south and west who wish themselves part of the Neo-confederacy. Persuading an entire country to voluntarily stay at home is not easy, and without clear direction from an unwilling White House, mayors, governors, and business owners have rolled their own.

Thus this month ends, with great sadness upon the public through the greateness of the plague, everywhere through the Kingdom almost. Every day sadder and sadder news of its increase. In the City died this week 7496; and all of them, 6102 of the plague. But it is feared that the true number of the dead this week is near 10000 – partly from the poor that cannot be taken notice of through the greatness of the number, and partly from the Quakers and others that will not have any bell ring for them.
As to myself, I am very well; only, in fear of the plague, and as much of an Ague, by being forced to go early and late to Woolwich, and my family to lie there continually.

The death toll in the US as of this writing is over 9100. The number of US confirmed cases is over 321,000. Look for these rates to double every three days until the disease peaks. Soon, most everyone in the US will know someone who has been infected. Like 9/11, the pandemic has already imprinted itself upon our psyche as a defining moment.

The pandemic has shattered the myth of American "greatness." As the first among equals of rich, strong, developed nations, the supremacy of American health care is held as an article of faith. That illusion has been shattered. In spite of months of advance warning as the virus tore through other countries, when America was finally tested by COVID-19, it failed.

Countries like South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong followed the playbook: develop a test, use it to identify the infected, isolate them, and trace those they’ve had contact with. Wash, rinse, repeat. As Alexis Madrigal and Robinson Meyer reported, the CDC developed and distributed a faulty test in February. No one could have imagined that as the American caseload shot into the tens of thousands, only hundreds of people would be tested. This created an epidemiological hole from which we have never emerged. Lack of a reliable test deployed early enough is the single point of failure that undermined every other countermeasure, and that has led to the immutable, exponential math.

Bet your mortgage that the impacts on economic, social and political aspects of our lives from coronavirus will be long lasting. And   compounded, given the chaos, corruption, and cronyism that heralded our blundered entry into this crisis. Few have ever seen anything like this, and only a few cranks and miscreants (aside from professional planners) have even bothered to contemplate it.

The London plague continued into 1666.

Thanks be to God, the plague is, as I hear, encreased but two this week; but in the country in several places it rages mightily, and particularly in Colchester, where it hath long been, and is believed will quite depopulate the place.

Italy and Spain offer grim warnings about an American future. Hospitals are rapidly running out of room, supplies, and staff. Health-care workers are already seeing dwindling equipment, growing waves of patients, with doctors and nurses themselves becoming ill. And they are operating without a gaunt, shiny-faced, porcelain-doll wannabe-Dauphin to bollix up supplies of medical equipment, and to MBAsplain coronavirus to the nation's Governors. Trump and Bolton terminated the Pandemic staff and have given the portfolio to Richie Rich for on-the-job training. God help us all.

By 1667 Pepys' plague had burnt out, but still lived in recent memory:

One at the table told an odd passage in this late plague: that at Petersfield, I think, he said, one side of the street had every house almost infected through the town, and the other, not one shut up.

During a time of "social distancing," we are reduced to staring off the porch or out the window. Like the denizens of Plato's cave, we watch the electronic shadows dance off the wall, while we attempt to make sense of them. Even more difficult is imagining how we might begin to recover from a virtual shutdown of economic life. As we try to restart an all-but-stopped economy dependent upon an engine of ceaseless consumption, we run the risk of renewed disease flareups as seen in China, Singapore, and other Asian countries that briefly seemed to have the virus under control. All it takes is one case to reignite fresh infections.

My best guess is that until a vaccine can be produced (probably 18 months), we'll continue to play a protracted game of whack-a-mole with the virus, stamping out outbreaks as they occur.


The slow response to the virus by some Trumpophile governors will be telling. Virus hot spots in are South poised for disproportionate suffering. With many Southern states only recently implementing stay-at-home orders, there is a chance that a later wave of infection could swamp local facilities. Even sparsely populated counties could soon have more cases than their health care systems can handle. 

“There is no city anywhere in the world that can withstand the outbreak that would occur if there isn’t rigorous social distancing,” said Tom Frieden, a former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director.

In Virginia, the governor is both a Democrat and a physician, so he imposed social distancing earlier than some. But some children of privilege and exception haven't taken it seriously.

The Columbia University model also identified the area around Hampton Roads and Newport News, Va., at risk of having its health infrastructure swamped. Though the number of cases in those counties is currently low, Virginia is not expected to experience peak conditions until late May, and has so far received just a tiny fraction of the medical equipment requested from the federal government.

On Friday, state leaders confirmed that the tidewater region has some of the highest community spread in the state, and that it would be one of three areas designated for a field hospital to take pressure off the local medical system. The “alternate care” site in the Hampton Roads Convention Center will be able to hold up to 360 acute care beds or 580 non-acute beds, Gov. Ralph Northam said.


This Week in Doom:

Like the pandemic itself, the economic effects are just getting started. Strap in. Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman sees unemployment soaring to 20% in a matter of weeks.

WE'RE NUMBER ONE!  The US just recorded the highest single-day death toll in the world

Just when you thought it might be safe to peek out off your bunker… this asshole, again. Robertson Blames Coronavirus On Oral Sex, ‘Lady Chemicals’

Amid reports that the federal stockpile of medical supplies is “nearly exhausted” and production of new equipment is unlikely to come soon enough, it now appears that the Trump administration may be playing favorites, distributing supplies to political allies and states important for the president’s reelection campaign. How bad will the fallout be? Frank Rich: Trump’s Potemkin Recovery

Karma Comes to Cousinfuck Country. Mississippi Now Has the Highest Rate of Coronavirus Hospitalizations in the United States

Are there no lampposts? No nylon rope? New disclosure reveals Sen. Kelly Loeffler and her husband dumped retail stock and bought shares in a company that manufacturers medical supplies. Loeffler and her husband dumped hundreds of thousands in stocks before the market dropped over the coronavirus outbreak.

Trump's budget director stands by plan to cut CDC budget by 15 percent during the coronavirus pandemic  The acting director of the OMB seemed unperturbed when asked about if it was wise to cut the CDC during a pandemic.

Karma, your table is ready. Liberty University Brings Back Its Students, and Coronavirus Fears, Too

Americans are doing what they do best: buying guns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For unbiased information, Just found this. No interpretations, no politics. Just data, visualized: https://covid19.healthdata.org

Stay informed and protect your own. 


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

A Pox Upon Us


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on March 22, 2020

“Stupidity has a knack of getting its way; as we should see if we were not always so much wrapped up in ourselves” 
― Albert Camus, The Plague 


During the incursions of the Black Death, the bubonic plague that attacked Europe in waves during the 14th and 16th centuries, the rich have always taken pains to insure that sickness remains the province of the poor. Some things never change.

Plague doctors wore a beaked mask and carried a stick. During the 16th century, French royal physician Charles de Lorme is credited with having invented the bird-beak plague mask. The long, beaked mask was typically filled with sweet or strong-smelling herbs, such as wormwood, the main ingredient in absinthe, which were believed to filter out miasma, or bad air, thought at the time to spread plague.

 As Jezebel reminds us, Rich People Have Always Been Assholes During Plagues​. In the 14th century Black Death, which wiped out somewhere between 30 to 50 percent of Europe’s population, those who could afford were told “cito, longe, tarde:”  “flee soon, go far, come back late.” As servants were left behind to clean the houses of an absent aristocracy, the swells and grandees got the hell out of town. Reports abound of those left in cities screaming while being enclosed alive in body bags bound for the plague pits.

The 21st century version of retreating to one’s Italian villa seems to be barricading oneself in a Hamptons mansion. The new court physician is the concierge doctor, and the new plague mask is the high-end, sold-out Urban Air Mask 2.0, miasma-blocking herbs replaced by “cutting-edge filter technology with timeless Scandinavian design,” the company’s website reads Gwenyth Paltrow recently posted a selfie wearing the $65 modern-day plague mask en route to Paris, though doctors say they’re likely ineffective, as the masks are intended to prevent sick people from spreading coronavirus, not protect well people from catching it.

Our own rich are following the advice to flee and stay away, hiring private planes to avoid the miasma emanating from those who fly coach. The Rich Are Scrambling To Escape COVID-19 On Private Jets. And money is often no object.

The most wealthy among us are trying to get around flight bans with private jet flights as they are desperate to get into or home from Caribbean countries, many of which have partial or full international travel bans. .. These countries are home to many affluent expatriates. The money some of them spend on private jet flights is staggering. One round trip to Europe in a Gulfstream 550 jet from the United States with five passengers can easily cost the client six figures.

With the world being crippled in many ways by the COVID-19 pandemic, the ultra-wealthy still have places to be and airline options are not only becoming restrictive, they are dwindling. Rumors currently abound of private jet pilots, both from charter operations and private flight departments, being offered large bonuses to get into and out of Caribbean resort countries undetected and bypassing customs and port of entry requirements.

Yes, I know you have your so-called "rules," but this is ME we're talking about. And I'll pay you handsomely.

And you might wonder: Why are the rich and famous getting coronavirus tests while we aren't? It occurs to a couch-surfing peasant to wonder how elite athletes on NBA teams, rich actors and well-connected swells can get tested, when first responders and many presenting with obvious symptoms have been turned away.

Just kidding.

While the evasions and lubrications by the rich may stink as much as the flesh of rotting buboes, we'll need a plague mask to mask the stench of corruption emanating from Washington, DC this week.


Virus Vultures

On Thursday, Senators faced a massive scandal after multiple members revealed in public filings that they had sold large stock holdings after private briefings on the coronavirus outbreak.  Senator Richard Burr Sold a Fortune in Stocks as G.O.P. Played Down Coronavirus Threat to the mere public. And Sen. Kelly Loeffler, she of the half-billion dollar net worth (the richest member of Congress), sold off seven figures worth of stock holdings  after the same, private, all-senators meeting as Burr. Then, she bought stock in a telework software company. Later, as March unfolded, fear of the virus hammered U.S. equities for its largest loss in decades.

After they were briefed that the coronavirus crisis would be far worse than was publicly known, they dumped their personal stock market holdings while publicly insisting that things would be fine. Even while privately telling wealthyt constituents that it was going to be ugly.  From the Times:

Senator Richard M. Burr sold hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of stock in major companies last month, as President Trump and others in his party were still playing down the threat presented by the coronavirus outbreak and before the stock market’s precipitous plunge.

The stocks were sold in mid-February, days after Mr. Burr, Republican of North Carolina and the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, wrote an opinion article for Fox News suggesting that the United States was “better prepared than ever before” to confront the virus. At least three other senators sold major stock holdings around the same time, disclosure records show.

No less a noted socialist than Fox News host Tucker Carlson, called for Burr’s resignation.

“He dumped his shares in hotel stocks so he wouldn’t lose money, and then he stayed silent,” Mr. Carlson said during his show on Thursday night. “Maybe there is an honest explanation for what he did. If there is, he should share it with us immediately. Otherwise, he must resign from the Senate and face prosecution for insider trading.”

Three other senators also sold major holdings around the same time.

It makes perfect sense to believe, does it not, that the richest single member of Congress, a former investment banker CEO worth $500M and married to the NY stock exchange president, a Senator with inside knowledge and ability to manipulate markets,  has no idea what her portfolio is doing. 

These moves place Burr and Loeffler in direct violation of the STOCK Act of 2012, which specifically made it illegal for members of Congress to trade equities based on any secret information received as part of their jobs.

For their parts, Burr and Loeffler have asked for Ethics Committee investigations to, wait for it, "clear their names." Which, since the secretive committee meets behind closed doors, means waiting until the shitmist from the scandal settles and it's time to start pounding the phones to raise money for re-election.

No idea at all. Baseless attack.

The Times article continues:

In a series of posts on Twitter, Mr. Burr accused NPR of twisting his comments into a “tabloid-style hit piece.” He argued that the report made him look duplicitous for sharing information at a publicly advertised event that was consistent with the message members of the Trump administration were then trying to promulgate. He did not address his stock sales.

Of course he didn't.


You Can't Have One.

This is the above-referenced selfie of Gwyneth Paltrow, actress-cum-celebrity goopifier, who has built a second career positing that illness can be prevented by cold baths, energy healing and making better lifestyle choices, wearing a ventilator. And not just any ventilator. From the looks of it, an Airnum in Onyx Black. And don't ask, peasant: sold out.

Remember that we pissed away two months of lead time because Trump didn't want "the numbers" to harsh the stock market and thus his re-election chances. For months, Trump has his band of grifters and right wing media enablers have said that it was nothing to worry about, and they had it contained.

Pete Hegseth said “the more I learn about this, the less there is to worry about.” Jeanine Pirro asserted that mainstream-media coverage “doesn’t reflect reality.”  Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham accused the non-cult press as “panic pushers” stirring up “mass hysteria.” And Trish Regan at Fox Business accused the “liberal media” of using the coronavirus “to impeach the president. That last outburst was apparently bad enough to rouse Rupert Murdoch from his crypt to take her off the air.

What a difference a few days, and a few thousand active coronavirus cases in the U.S., can make. Both Trump and FNC have changed their tune regarding the significance of the virus. And Trump, prevented from staging his Nuremberg rallies to bathe in the adulation of his cult, has taken his act of vindictiveness, press attacks, and racism to the White House briefing room. It is a failing of the corporate media that they continue to live broadcast these exercises in propaganda. During a pandemic, disinformation costs lives.

 It’s certainly true that health workers and those who have already contracted the virus should be getting masks before celebrities, considering we’re entering into global mask shortage that will make it even more difficult to contain a rapidly spreading public health crisis.

But Paltrow isn’t modeling a mask out of deep concern for public health; she’s posting because she’s beginning to panic. Covid-19 definitely isn’t the end times, but it’s a useful indication of what end times might look like: All our favorite celebrities, like the rest of the idle rich, tossing away their public postures and scrambling to spend as much money as necessary to make sure that they stay safe.


Latebreaking News:

Coronavirus updates: Angela Merkel quarantined, Rand Paul tests positive, Ohio on lockdown

Germany is banning gatherings of 2 or more people to slow coronavirus outbreak

US states report price gouging

A top New York surgeon warns that the coronavirus has 'breached' hospital walls and infections could peak in 22 to 32 days

Italy Tightens Quarantine as It Battles World’s Deadliest Coronavirus Outbreak

In strategic shift, doctors in America's two largest cities are told to skip some coronavirus testing​.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

Panic at the Costco


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on March 15, 2020

 “Who needs four horsemen when one will do just fine?”  ― Charlotte Hale, Westworld  

 


There are two schools of thought as to the consequences of the current coronavirus pandemic:

1) This is the BIG ONE.  The US is still in "no data, no problem" mode. Ten days behind Italy. Watch for a near-vertical spike when testing begins and denial ends.

2) This is NOT the BIG ONE. While the "infectabliity" factor oif the disease is ten times greater than the flu, its lethality is relatively low, aside from the elderly, the sicks, and the poors. Making the disease a gift to the capitalists by way of reducing overhead. "Buy the fucking dip, 'cuz nothing matters."

Most of us who frequents sites like Doomstead Diner would agree that whether you’ve been personally touched by coronavirus or not, one is well-advised to  be prepared with essentials to weather an interruption of several weeks in business-as-usual (BAU.) But many people do not, and have neither the interest nor means to prepare for much except tomorrow.. Homeland Security’s emergency and disaster prep site, ready.gov, suggests: “Store a two-week supply of water and food,”  Prepper types think in terms of months– two, six, 12 months. The site also advises checks of any prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply and a refill of nonprescription drugs, which is Prepping 101.

So with my son-in-law arriving and our household down to its last sixpack of TP, I decided to make a Costco run– one of the most desperate actions of my life. It was absolutely shithook berserkers. I had no idea I was about to take my life in my hands until an overweight woman on a motorized shopping cart decided that I was an unnecessary obstacle between her and the tinned chicken. I escaped with my skin intact, but a couple of old folks left in my wake may have be hurt.

I didn't look back.

When people fail to develop a plan about what they actually need in advance, a natural response is to snap up things they don’t need and will never use as a hedge against future uncertainty. So there is a great deal of unplanned panic buying.  Costco is crowded on weekends, and I had been there amidst crowds, but had never seen it as crowded as March 13. Many cleaning supplies were also completely plundered and not on offer. There is also sheer price gouging opportunism, as you'll see below.

Now I have a better idea why.

After six weeks of denial, dithering and deception, Fat Orange has found that you can't bully, intimidate or gull a novel coronavirus as easily as, say, a US Senator.

In the absence of clear leadership frorm an administration who views the pandemic as a distraction from its re-election marketing message, the states have taken the lead. We've decided to Cancel Everything. The effort is to limit exposures, meaning avoiding crowds and preventing the sort of spike in exposures and sicknesses that overwhelms hospitals and health care systems, as in Italy. "Social distancing" is the new watchword, and it overlays perfectly with my preferred lifestyle, which is heavy on "leave me the fuck alone."

Here's a reasonably complete list of Coronavirus closures: List of events, sports, and more canceled amid COVID-19 fears. Even NASCAR postponed a couple of events, which may sink in with the doorknob-lickers.

Covid-19 is everywhere. It will be everywhere it has not yet reached. As a "novel" virus, we have no built-in "herd immunity." And it will change our lives in ways we cannot predict.


How did it come to this?

The approach of the Trump regime to date has been, "no data, no problem." Trump's approach from jump has been to minimize the problem, mock the sufferers, game the numbers, and blame Obama. (If you'd like to check that assertion, someone already has: A Complete List of Trump’s Attempts to Play Down Coronavirus. You're welcome.) You are quite correct to note that any lead time the US may have had has been squandered in fecklessness. Countries from Singapore to South Korea are managing to test large portions of their populations, but in the US we've administered 11,000+ and turned away God knows how many more.


The other day, I heard the governor of Ohio say they probably had 100,000 active cases working in that state alone. Today, the Ohio Department of Health believes 100,000 Ohioans are carrying coronavirus, confirmeing that. In Virginia, within a week we've gone from two reported cases to 45 reported cases and one death.  There is even a case now in RE's Alaska, The Last Great Frontier.

For his part, Trump tells a nation terrified of coronavirus that none of this is his fault. At a news conference last week, Trump lied, insulted reporters, and explicitly refused to take responsibility for his own actions when directly asked.

.At one point, Trump was asked about the admission of Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, that our lag in testing was “a failing.” And he was asked if he takes responsibility for this failure.

Trump’s response: “I don’t take responsibility at all.”

The president claimed that “we were given a set of circumstances and we were given rules and regulations and specifications from a different time,” and this existing legal infrastructure “wasn’t meant for this kind of event with the kind of numbers that we’re talking about.”

It’s an astonishing claim, and it’s astonishing because Trump has spent the better part of his term dismantling the federal government’s pandemic fighting infrastructure.


And why can't you find your bleach, wipes, and cleaning supplies? The Hand Sanitizer You Can't Find Is In This Putz's Garage. Because someone decided to make a market out of your misery.  "Retail arbitrage" has created individuals who have found in this global panic a route to becoming real jerks, inspired by news of the potential for over 1 million American deaths to turn a handsome profit.

The current pandemic isn’t one specific person’s fault, but there are individuals who have found in this global panic a route to becoming a real jerk.

Chief among them is Tennessee’s Matt Colvin who, with the aid of his brother Noah, was inspired by news of the potential for over 1 million American deaths to turn a handsome profit.

The retired Air Force technical sergeant is the new face of price gouging, thanks to a profile in Saturday’s New York Times. Beginning March 1st, Colvin, whose primary income is reselling collected goods on sites like Amazon, hit the road and bought as much hand sanitizer as he could find. For a while, the money was rolling in. But when his prices soared, Amazon, eBay and other marketplaces rightly shut him and his fellow panic profiteers down. He estimates he now has 17,700 bottles of the virus-killing ooze, as well as hand wipes and all the other highly sought after materials you can’t find in a store right now. The cleaning products are collecting dust.

This is the kind of behavior you get when so-called "conventional morality" is replaced by worship of the free market. "Retail arbitrage" sounds so much classier than "rapacious price gouging" and "disaster capitalism."

Karma, your table is ready. 


#StayTheFuckHome
A Movement to Stop the COVID-19 Pandemic

The absence of Federal leadership and the resultant blamestorming has failed us in preventing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Slow reactions, public appeasement policies, and an urge to stabilize the economy to preserve re-election prospects (to say nothing of the need to impose "message discipline" via Mike Pence on the experts) are keeping them from taking the measures it takes to protect millions from this disease. It is time for us, and up to us, as citizens to take action now and do our part to "flatten the curve" and fight COVID-19.

Putting it bluntly: #Stay The Fuck Home! Wash your hands frequently! And stay away from Costco.

Stay safe.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

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