Tuesday, March 31, 2020

trump's Gleeful Body Counting

This is how donald trump thinks he can defend his horrific performance in the White House, by downplaying the number of dead who are going to pile up because he failed to start prep work against the Coronavirus spread back when he was warned by our own people in January.

This is his sales pitch this week, trying to convince millions of Americans that "Hey It's Gonna Be Okay As Long As We Keep the Deaths To Under 200,000". I am not kidding, via Aaron Rupar at Vox:

Barely a month ago, Trump claimed the coronavirus would go away on its own. Then he said it paled in comparison to the 2009 H1N1 flu outbreak, which killed about 12,500 Americans. Now he’s saying that the estimates showing Covid-19 could kill 100,000 Americans — roughly equivalent to two Vietnam Wars or 38 September 11 attacks — actually reflect how effective he’s been.
During a news conference on Sunday, Trump said that a final US coronavirus death toll somewhere in the range of 100,000 to 200,000 people would indicate that his administration has “done a very good job.”

A VERY GOOD JOB?

Here's some perspective: When four Americans were killed in Benghazi, the Republican Party held 11 different hearings into all the crap Obama and Hillary did wrong. 200,000 Americans dying is now "a very good job."

Rupar points it out in that paragraph I quote above: The death toll for the COVID-19 outbreak is going to be costlier than most wars even IF we're good enough at containing and curing this pandemic. The number of dead Americans from this virus already surpassed today the tragedy of what happened on Sept. 11 2001. We're only beginning to comprehend just how widespread this tragedy is going to hit us.

And trump - the idiot who sat on his ass for two months doing nothing except accuse the outbreak of being a Democratic/Chinese Hoax, up until the point someone FINALLY convinced him the death toll will be in the millions by June if he remained inert - is trying to game the referees to convince them - to convince us down in the dirt fighting the pandemic and waiting for the worst - that letting 200,000 Americans die for his inaction and stupidity is "a very good job."

And during all of this, Republicans and conservative pundits, all trump's ass-kissers, were making noises about how tragic it was that up to 50,000 people die every year of normal flu - never mind the indictment of our broken health care system that underscores - and now they're turning around congratulating trump for keeping the upcoming COVID body count to just six figures.

This is gaslighting at its most lethal, America. The Son-Of-A-Bitch is going to want a parade for his "efforts" (more like lack thereof) before the 200,000th citizen dies from COVID-19. (Failing to consider, obviously, that his parade is going to make the spread of coronavirus that much more likely)

And in the meantime, we're getting more and more reports that the support the federal government is SUPPOSED to ship out - the ventilators needed to keep victims breathing, the respirator masks needed by our doctors and nurses to avoid infections - are in shoddy condition and in some cases useless. trump's ongoing excuse is that he inherited a "broken system" (IT WAS HIS JOB TO FIX IT IF IT WERE BROKEN THE LAST THREE YEARS) and that "nobody could have foreseen this" (BITCH EVERYBODY FORESAW IT, WE HAD A SYSTEM IN PLACE UNTIL YOU KILLED IT IN 2018).

None of this was "a very good job," you self-serving Shitgibbon.

We warned everyone, back in 2016. Every single one of us who voted Hillary, who voted against this failed businessman and financial fraud, we warned you. We tried to teach you a word for the kind of incompetence and ineptitude that trump was bringing from his enterprises to our national leadership, just one word. Kakistocracy. Leadership by the worst people.

Here we are, with a coronavirus that can kill upwards to 2 million of our nation, ripping across whole families and communities, and trump's fighting over the goalposts of what's acceptable losses to our families and communities.

Listen up, trump. Even ONE death from this virus is a tragedy. As much as those who died in Benghazi, as much as those who died in every war, as much as those who died in the wake of Katrina and as much as those who died in Puerto Rico (REMEMBER THAT FUCK-UP, donnie? Puerto Rico STILL hasn't recovered from that!). It should have been treated as the tragedy and crisis it is proving to be, instead of the annoyance you're viewing it as.

Goddamn him. God help the rest of us.

Friday, March 27, 2020

trump Cannot Comprehend A Damn Thing: COVID-19 Crisis Edition

Back to the "donald trump SAID WHAT" in the news again (via Allyson Chiu and Timothy Bella at the Washington Post):

President Trump cast doubt Thursday on New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s assertion that his state, which has become the epicenter for the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, will need 30,000 ventilators to properly care for the influx of patients anticipated to flood hospitals in coming weeks.
“I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they’re going to be,” Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity in a phone interview. “I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You know, you go into major hospitals sometimes they’ll have two ventilators, and now all of a sudden they’re saying, ‘Can we order 30,000 ventilators?’”

trump seems to genuinely think all you need is one or two ventilators per hospital. As though hospitals should have only one or two beds for patients to share, or one or two IV bags or... excuse me. I just need to scream for a second here JESUS GODDAMN CHRIST TRUMP IS A GODDAMN IDIOT WHAT THE EVERLOVING FUCK ARE WE... ahem, back to the report:

The president’s comments came shortly after the New York Times reported that the White House had abruptly called off a plan to announce this week that General Motors and Ventec Life Systems would be partnering up to produce as many as 80,000 ventilators, citing concerns with the deal’s $1 billion price tag.

For those of us not fully informed to what a ventilator is and why they can get a bit pricey, here's our NIH government website about it:

A ventilator (VEN-til-a-tor) is a machine that supports breathing. These machines mainly are used in hospitals. Ventilators:
* Get oxygen into the lungs.
* Remove carbon dioxide from the body. (Carbon dioxide is a waste gas that can be toxic.)
* Help people breathe easier.
* Breathe for people who have lost all ability to breathe on their own.
A ventilator often is used for short periods, such as during surgery when you're under general anesthesia (AN-es-THE-ze-ah). The term "anesthesia" refers to a loss of feeling and awareness. General anesthesia temporarily puts you to sleep.
The medicines used to induce anesthesia can disrupt normal breathing. A ventilator helps make sure that you continue breathing during surgery.
A ventilator also may be used during treatment for a serious lung disease or other condition that affects normal breathing.
Some people may need to use ventilators long term or for the rest of their lives. In these cases, the machines can be used outside of the hospital—in long-term care facilities or at home.
A ventilator doesn't treat a disease or condition. It's used only for life support.
Simple explanation for why a ventilator is needed: Without a ventilator, the patient is going to drown in their own lungs.

Given how such a machine is working on keeping the lungs going, it's kind of hard to imagine forcing more than one person to get plugged into such a machine. So if a state is BEGGING for 30,000 to 40,000 ventilators at one time, it's because that state is realizing they're going to have 30,000 to 40,000 people needing it at one time.

/headdesking

Given what the ventilator does, it has to manage the flow of oxygen in and carbon dioxide out, so it needs a number of sensors and computers monitoring all of that, upping the price. There needs to be backups installed to avoid any part of the ventilator failing at any given moment. Ever notice in the medical TV shows that tall stand of digital equipment next to each hospital bed? That's the ventilator. Don't think something like that can get put together for $100 each.

There's more than one state needing ventilators, by the by.

There's supposed to be a law called the Defense Production Act that a President can activate to get manufacturers to redirect efforts towards making specific equipment. There's supposed to be a DPA order in effect right now... except President the Loser of the Popular Vote trump is delaying and tying up the orders to make more ventilators and respirators (fancy word for masks). Without that law, states are fighting with each other over resources becoming more scarce by the minute.

Again, trump does not understand, does not comprehend the forces at play here. He can't comprehend the scope of the crisis, he refuses to admit to earlier missteps which leads to making even more missteps now.

trump CANNOT COMPREHEND A GODDAMN THING IF IT'S SOMETHING HE CANNOT PERSONALLY PROFIT FROM. And unless you're a hoarder you cannot profit off a plague.

And that means the rest of us are screwed.

Addendum: Peter Wehrer's article in the Atlantic is a must-read:

...But in this instance, Trump isn’t facing a political problem he can easily spin his way out of. He’s facing a lethal virus. It doesn’t give a damn what Donald Trump thinks of it or tweets about it. Spin and lies about COVID-19, including that it will soon magically disappear, as Trump claimed it would, don’t work. In fact, they have the opposite effect. Misinformation will cause the virus to increase its deadly spread.
So as the crisis deepens—as the body count increases, hospitals are overwhelmed, and the economy contracts, perhaps dramatically—it’s reasonable to assume that the president will reach for the tools he has used throughout his life: duplicity and denial. He will not allow facts that are at odds with his narrative to pierce his magnetic field of deception...

Again. We're screwed.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

trump's Literal Easter Deadline

Tonight in WHAT THE EVER-LOVING FCK IS trump SAYING NOW:

trump wants to speed up the "Stay at Home" efforts to flatten the curve on Coronavirus infections and have everybody back at work and school and every other place of catching the damn bug by the time Easter Sunday rolls around, which is in three weeks.

Even though a ton of medical - and even a few economic experts - are screaming that we're nowhere near the end of this crisis, and that re-opening everything can make things worse. Via German Lopez at Vox:

In recent days, Trump has been walking back previous suggestions from public officials — including his own remarks at earlier press briefings — that social distancing will be required for months. He said on Monday, “America will, again, and soon, be open for business. Very soon. A lot sooner than three or four months that somebody was suggesting. Lot sooner. We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself.”
But experts are clear about the massive risk that ending social distancing early — in weeks instead of months — could pose.
“Everybody living through this wants to not be in this situation,” Jen Kates, director of global health and HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told me. “But the call to end it soon — and saying that’s his intention — is not based on public health. There’s nothing to suggest that ending it soon will have any good impact at all.”
Instead, ending social distancing prematurely could cause more deaths. “More people will become infected. More people will get sick. More people will die,” Kates said.
Epidemiological models back this up. They indicate that coronavirus cases will rise if social distancing measures are relaxed, potentially causing hundreds of thousands if not millions of deaths in the US alone...

trump does not know nor does he care to know that the Christian churches he's hoping to pack can be vectors for infecting tens of people at a time, if not hundreds. We've already got evidence across the globe that religious gatherings as well as any other gatherings like business conferences, music concerts, bar nights, what have you will be places where COVID will show up as well and go from one person to three (or six, or fifteen, or 34, or...)

And trump is latching onto Easter Sunday weekend because, obviously, it's a date on the calendar he can't forget, even as he himself ignores going to church while he stumbles to his own damn golf courses every weekend.

trump - along with a scary number of Republicans and Far Right pundits - are more terrified of a consumer-driven economy shutting down than they are of the COVID outbreak killing hundreds to thousands of our loved ones. CHRIST, the Texan Lt. Governor openly claimed older people would rather die than let the economy tumble, we've got Glenn Beck offering himself up like a "noble sacrifice" as though he'll ever truly risk crawling out of his studio safe place and expose himself to any poor infected soul.

There's a level of sociopathy - Go Ahead And Kill Grandma! - to the Republican fears of an economic downturn during an election cycle that chills the bone. Remember when the "Tea Party" Republicans were all screaming about Obamacare "Death Panels" for our grandparents back in 2010? They turned out to be wrong about that... and here they are willingly lining up our grandparents in 2020 as a Death Panel unto themselves.

Say again: CHRIST, this is evil.

And if trump does this, orders all the states to end their Shelter-In-Place orders, force restaurants and bars and public places to open during Good Friday through Easter itself... we will be doing it while the medical predictive models still have us with tens of thousands carrying the virus and infectious enough to spread COVID even more.

We are so Honest-To-God fucked right now.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Some Thoughts This Monday Night March 2020

Images, by Tyrone Green Witty Librarian:

Look, I have a lot of schadenfreude watching the Dow Jones drop like a stone over the last month, but we're at the point - probably way past it - where a lot of middle-class 401k and mutual fund portfolios are getting nuked. Isn't there a way to close down the markets for two weeks, let things cool off, like the banking holiday FDR ordered back when he took office at the height of the Great Depression? Those trading floors will be one less place for people to pick up the COVID19.

My library closed to the public back on March 17, we spent the remainder of the week getting our holds into Books-by-Mail for those we could contact, the rest are stuck here until late April when we *hope* to re-open. We're still coming to work until further notice, depending on what the state does, and in the meantime we're using the closed time to re-arrange office space and catch up on paperwork. We DO have ebooks available through Overdrive...

Most libraries - public and college - have closed, almost all the schools have closed here in Florida... and yet our governor DeSantis, obsessing over the economic hit that would happen, isn't doing anything to get the state to block off the beaches and reduce public gatherings there. He's resisting calls for stronger "Shelter In Place" emergency orders to get more residents to stay at home and not spread contact by infectees. Even as we're getting a shitton of New Yorkers fleeing a locked-down New York City and bringing more infectees with them.

For all my science fiction/fantasy and horror readings, for growing up on Stephen King's The Stand, for all the zombie apocalypse movies I've seen, I still can't believe that when a global pandemic finally hit the first thing to go was all the toilet paper. (I kid. Hand sanitizer and eggs disappeared just as quick)

I just found out today that the TV show Supernatural predicted it back in 2009!

We're looking at a possibility of the number of people filing for unemployment - due to layoffs at a lot of tourism, travel, retail, education, restaurant/bar, luxury service jobs because we HAVE to avoid these places of business now - jumping into the 30 percent range during this month. We need to remember a few things: 1) unemployment figures relied a lot on people claiming that, which was lower than actual numbers that can no longer live off-the-books as it were 2) we're looking at a collapse of several industries that will take YEARS to recover meaning those numbers are going to stay up well into 2021 (and 2022 for that matter).
We are looking at both funding unemployment and other social aid services way more than we already are (which wasn't all that great to begin with), AND we are looking at the reality of a Universal Basic Income - a monthly payout by the federal government to help cover the basics like rent/mortgage and food - getting implemented for a long period of time (if not set up permanently). THIS means one thing: The Federal government has to pay for this, and our nation is going to HAVE to raise taxes on upper incomes to balance this out.

None of this would be happening if trump took his job seriously, recognized the warning signs from JANUARY, and prompted both Congress and the Executive branch into funding and manufacturing the medical supplies - not just masks and gloves but also ventilators and respirators - so that when we got to here in March we'd have the bare minimum of those supplies to keep our hospitals functioning. Instead for reasons of his own - either sheer laziness, ignorance of the severity, some twisted idea this crisis would work to his advantage this year of election - trump fiddled while Rome got burned.

Gods help us, this is where we're at tonight.


Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The Post-Florida Democratic Primary Blues

For Sanders supporters, I mean. There were three states this mini-Super Tuesday although they're three major states: Illinois, Arizona, and my home of Florida.

And oh Lord was Florida a bloodbath for Bernie. Via John Whitesides and Ginger Gibson at Reuters:

Joe Biden coasted to a blowout victory over Bernie Sanders in Florida’s Democratic presidential primary and was projected to win Illinois on Tuesday, edging closer to the nomination to face President Donald Trump in November’s election.
Biden rolled over Sanders by nearly 40 percentage points in Florida, the largest of the three states voting on Tuesday, and beat Sanders in every county in the traditional political battleground state.
Edison Research and television networks projected Biden also won in Illinois, where he opened a huge lead of more than 20 percentage points over Sanders with 41% of the precincts reporting...
The easy Biden wins appeared to be a sign Democrats were ready to unite for the campaign against Trump, and could increase pressure on Sanders, 78, to end his presidential bid. Democrats have worried about a possible repeat of 2016, when they believe his long, bitter primary battle with Hillary Clinton played a role in her upset loss to Trump, 73.
In somber remarks broadcast from his home in Delaware, Biden, 77, said the coronavirus outbreak demanded leadership from the White House and appealed to the many young supporters drawn to Sanders, a democratic socialist U.S. senator.
“Let me say especially to the young voters who have been inspired by Senator Sanders: I hear you. I know what’s at stake. I know what we have to do,” he said. “Our goal as a campaign and my goal as a candidate for president was to unify this party and then to unify the nation.”
Young voters between ages 18 and 44 were the only major demographic that backed Sanders in Florida and Illinois, the Edison polls showed...

Thing about Florida was, Bernie didn't do so hot back in 2016 either, but he at least won 33 percent versus Hillary and a number of counties. This time, he was under 23 percent and every county went for Crazy Uncle Joe.

And while Bernie is doing his best to appeal to young voters, a strong and growing demographic for liberal-leaning votes, his turnout is still meager at best. It's not enough to foment the revolution in the Democratic Party he's hoping to achieve.

Also, Bernie, it really doesn't help you to say nice things about Fidel Castro in Florida, even to Democratic voters. It's just not sane. But that's Bernie for you, sticking to his ideals but not out of practicality more like ego...

Twitter is awash of Bernie supporters screaming about the unfairness of it all, how Biden is a lying monster, how the Dems are backing a loser when it will come time to stop trump. However, it's not convincing anybody I know. It's all petulant sour grapes now, and it's the kind of self-harm that this nation doesn't need. And yet... sigh.

Personally, I was hoping Warren would still be in the race by now, but she wasn't and there's my Blues for you.

I'll have more to say later, but for now I have to cope with the Coronavirus crisis my own way. Translation: My library finally closed to the public and we've got a lot of cleanup work to do.

Monday, March 16, 2020

The Thing About Wall Street

It is in the nature of the stock markets to go up.

I'm not a full-on economic expert, I barely got out of college Econ 1101 with a C plus, but ny dad worked awhile as a broker and still invests to this day, so I have a small inkling of how it all works.

For starters, "Buy low and sell high."

/rimshot

Seriously, my observation about stock markets comes from even a cursory glance of any market chart. The Dow Jones, the one on Wall Street, the one most news services keeps an eye on, shows a near constant, relatively slow uphill climb going from left (past years) to right (current year).

From the Business Insider Markets site, tracking from 2010 to 2020

For what I know, it's a combination of factors.

The constant addition of startup companies and IPOs (Initial Public Offerings) as companies add themselves to the list, that a certain amount of investment gets pumping into the markets right there. The market goes up because the market is adding more publicly traded companies, that simple.

The ever-changing and growing industries, such as the entire Information Technology industry that overwhelmed the markets in the 1990s, expands the number of companies out there, creating a diverse investment field to build a portfolio that won't fall apart if just one industry has a bad year or overall downturn. A smart investor can use the minuses to balance out the pluses and keep boosting the values of the pluses.

Upon all that, a major shift of upper incomes directly using the capital gains on investments as their own income, increasingly separate from the original purpose - well, one of them - of the markets as a means to invest in capital and business growth. All a rich person has to do is put enough money into stocks, let the corporations boost their values through buybacks, and let those markets keep generating more money that quite honestly never existed before and isn't based on anything other than the hopes and predictions of the markets themselves.

It's all a wonderful illusion, when you look at it that way.

And it's an illusion that despite all the wealth and power that's tied into it, the stock markets are vulnerable to outside forces that can turn a steady uphill chart into a cliff of eternal peril.

That chart above is from the past ten years of the market from 2010 to 2020. Here's a chart from the past month:

Also from Business Insider Markets site, tracking from February to March
We've been witness to one of the greatest collapses in stock market history, not so much from trump's meddling with tariffs since 2018 that began the wobbly status the Dow is in now. Despite all of trump's worst efforts, the markets kept rebounding once they figured how to adjust to the Orange One's conniptions against China, Europe, and other trading markets.

No, this collapse is from the now-unavoidable Coronavirus pandemic, something that's been out there since December 2019 and something that trump's administration has been mishandling - through avoidance, lying, blame-shifting, and nonexistent planning - the government's response to a flu outbreak that is already disrupting every aspect of human life. Above all, trump's failure to prepare for trade to break down, medical supplies to dry up or run out, businesses to close due to declining patronage, people losing jobs as workplaces close, all of that.

The markets have been in shock since February, when it was clear the federal government wasn't prepared to handle the long-term implications of the pandemic. We've borne witness to some of the worst drops in the Dow Jones since 1987 (Black Monday) and 1929 (the first Big One)... almost all of them in the past ten days.

When trump took an Oath of Office he wasn't prepared to run back in January 2017, the Dow Jones was around 19,488 points, give or take an 8. As of tonight, it's at 20,188, to where we're one more bad trading away of watching every stock market gain made between 2017 to 2019 - where it reached the highs of 29,000 points - completely wiped out. For a man who brags about how the stock markets were doing thanks to the Republicans Tax Cut of 2017 - which turned into a sugar/cocaine/meth/steroid boost of greedy proportions - finding himself back to Obama levels (or falling even further) has to be a blow to that narcissistic Id of his.

And while the Futures are pointing to an up day tomorrow - because investors will try to buy stocks in companies while their values are lower, and they are desperate to make the markets go back up again - there's every sign the markets will keep dropping another day later because nearly every action trump's White House has done up to now hasn't helped. Every spike on that last month's chart was followed by more drops.

And things are poised to get worse.

What's happening to Wall Street right now hurts a bit, especially for people who ARE investing towards things like retirement and a modicum of personal fiscal stability. But this is just a sideshow to the rest of the world coping with a global pandemic.

The worst things are going to be happening to our families and those most vulnerable to the COVID19 virus (our kids and our grandparents), the worst things are going to be happening to our hospitals and medical workers and our emergency responders. The worst things are going to be happening to those forced to keep working in public, exposed to vectors, trying to keep the power on and the water running and the toilet paper shelves at the stores restocked.

This stuff with Wall Street is just one sign of how bad it's been and how bad it's going.

I don't want to show the charts of the infected and the dying. THAT'S too horrible to review...

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Ides of March 2020: Good Things Coming Out of Italy (w/ Updates)

With all the craziness this year for the Ides of March, I didn't want to rehash the whole Roman Civil War thing or any other historical/Monty Pythonesque madness.

Instead, one of the things cropping up on social media is how Italy has been coping with the pandemic that has hit their nation real hard the past month. With most everything shut down, and people ordered to stay at their homes, what the neighborhoods and cities have done has been heartwarming. Just watch and listen:







Humanity at our best.

We love you, Italy. Stay healthy, and virtual hugs to your loved ones in need.

Update: Did I get this one?


Oh here's another!


I swear, it has something to do with having 2,000 years worth of balconies to your living spaces.

I want to know if the other countries have something similar. I know there's little news getting out from some of the hardest-hit like Iran, and stuff out of China I would question because of their censorship rules, but how are all the other nations coping?

Saturday, March 14, 2020

The trumpian Failure at Presidential Accountability

(update 3/16/20: dammit as always when I least expect it, Batocchio adds me as a link to Crooks & Liars' Mike's Blog Round-Up. Sigh. I DID NOT HAVE CAKE OR PIE READY... nevermind, just hope you enjoy the site, please leave valid and life-affirming comments, and learn the Vulcan greeting salute because handshakes are no longer safe)

Still dealing with a number of real-life issues - things are changing at work, not to mention how my work at a public library is going to get affected by the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic - to where the best I can blog about right now is WHAT THE EVERLOVING F-CK DID trump SAY NOW???

This past week we witnessed trump's White House try to control the messaging on the likely spread of COVID-19 while doing little to nothing about pressing for more testing kits and isolation policies to reduce the risk of that spread. He performed a televised speech to allay fears... during which he ad-libbed falsehoods that caused more panic than calm.

By trying to play to the concerns of Wall Street, trump actually caused two of the greatest stock market crashes in financial history within three days of each other. And as this all went on, most Americans went on a panic run at the grocery store buying up all the hand sanitizer (they should have bought more soap, that helps better) and toilet paper on the shelves (to be fair, if you end up stuck at home for more than two weeks if a quarantine becomes necessary, you'd want the security of reliable bathroom trips too).

So for this Friday, in order to present himself as in charge and in control, trump scheduled a big televised press conference, timed exactly just as the stock markets were closing... just so he could end up showing how little control he had and even worse openly admit he was in charge of nothing.

Think I'm exaggerating? Here's the ABC News clip about it:


"I'm not taking any responsibility at all." Doesn't matter what he's avoiding responsibility for, the fact that he's AVOIDING responsibility ought to anger every American living and past.

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, RESPONSIBILITY FOR SERVING AND PROTECTING THIS NATION IS IN THE JOB DESCRIPTION.

Let's look back at all the Presidents confronted with the demands of responsibility.

Harry S. Truman, a personal fave, famously had a desk sign:


This photo of Harry S. Truman Library and Museum is courtesy of Tripadvisor

"The BUCK STOPS HERE!" This is now a required meme for anyone sitting in the Oval Office (except of course for the cowardly current occupant who dares not utter it).

Here's somebody that trump won't like to hear from: President Barack Obama taking responsibility for intelligence failures back in 2010. Via Josh Gerstein at Politico:

President Barack Obama on Thursday accepted responsibility for intelligence shortcomings that led to a failed Christmas Day bombing plot on a Detroit-bound airliner, saying, “Ultimately, the buck stops with me.
“As president, I have a solemn responsibility to protect our nation and our people, and when the system fails, it is my responsibility,” Obama said...
Obama’s buck-stops-here message marks a change in tone from earlier statements in which Obama and other officials repeatedly noted that the watch-listing system that failed to flag the suspect, Umar AbdulMatallab, was put in place under the Bush administration.
But while Obama promised to bring more accountability into the counterterrorism system, he indicated he had no plans to fire anyone involved in the missteps prior to Christmas.
“It appears this incident was not the fault of a single individual or organization but rather a systemic failure across organizations and agencies. … I am less interested in passing out blame than I am in learning from and correcting these mistakes to make us safer,” Obama said...
Want more?

While this isn't a quote that happened during his Presidency, Dwight D. "Ike" Eisenhower spoke of responsibility serving as the Allied Commander overseeing the Western European theater. For the Normandy Invasion he wrote two letters. The First Letter congratulated the Allied troops and exhorted them to victory. The Second Letter was in case the landings failed (given the harsh weather and stout German defenses, this was a legitimate concern):

"Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops... My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone."

The letter wasn't needed: D-Day was a bloody but successful landing and led to the Liberation of France within months. Less than a year later, the Nazis fell between the pincers of Ike's forces in the West and the Soviets to the East. However, that letter highlighted character of the man: Eisenhower accepted the responsibility of leadership... and the people knew it. That's one reason "I Like Ike" worked as a slogan, that's a reason why Americans elected him President.

So here comes trump, facing a global pandemic health care crisis that requires bold thinking, getting out ahead of the problem, staying in touch with all players to make sure things get done properly and to the good of all.

Unfortunately, trump's spent the last three years dismantling the government systems, understaffing agencies if not outright sabotaging them. Redirecting efforts towards projects that won't help in this crisis or any other. He oversaw the dismantling of a National Security panel tasked with coordinating pandemic responses, which left much of the federal and state agencies in the dark on who was in charge during the first months of this crisis (starting back in December 2019).

trump's response to all of this? Shifting blame on Obama instead of admitting his own involvement. Arguing that it's Obama's fault there's not enough test kits for this crisis when it should have been something trump's administration ordered done the minute it became clear - mid-January - that the coronavirus was going global. Like Obama would have known back in 2016 this particular virus was going to erupt three years after he left office.

"I'm not taking any responsibility at all."

This isn't even the first time trump has shifted blame in his life. He avoided accountability for his many bankruptcies, he avoided accountability by settling out of his many fraud trials, he avoided accountability for his destruction of a sports league, he avoided accountability for every broken promise and every theft made. And these were all before he ran for the Presidency.

"I'm not taking any responsibility at all."

Here's the one thing required by law in the Constitution, written out as the Oath one must take when entering the Oval Office:

"I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Those words REQUIRE the oath-taker to execute the office of the Presidency, to preserve protect and defend the Constitution of the United States which means ensuring the safety of the People - all of US - who keep that Constitution standing. These are words, this is an Oath that REQUIRES responsibility out of the person who swears to it.

trump won't take that responsibility. he's openly admitting to it now, something a lot of us knew for years and we saw this moment coming.

We're in a major crisis this month and the person most responsible to lead us through it won't be responsible at all.

We are so very royally extremely sickeningly fucked.

Monday, March 09, 2020

With Warren Out, Seeking Shelter on This Thin Raft

I think I know why I'm having a problem blogging lately.

It's that, more and more, I am not writing anything remotely close to good news to share with the rest of you. The same overwhelming nightmare of crazy trumpian disasters day after day, combined with a paltry and thinned-out sense of relief we need to find at the end of all this madness.

The craziness of the Coronavirus pandemic notwithstanding, the thing that's been troubling me since last week - something it's taken me this long to write about - has been Elizabeth Warren's ending of her Presidential campaign.

It's heartbreaking for me. Above all, she was the only major candidate I viewed as an Active-Positive character with Adaptive and Gameplanning (all those plans!) skills. She showed better organizational skills than Bernie or Biden or Harris - Warren's campaign had events in Florida months ago, something I still haven't seen out of the remaining two big names - and she was giving inspirational speeches and appearances wherever she went.

As the candidates thinned out across a large - was it like 22 or 24 people running at one point? - stage, Warren remained one of the few who represented a shrinking diversity for the Dem party to support. We went from a number of Black candidates (Harris, Booker, even Deval Patrick) and Hispanic (Castro) and Women (Harris again, Klobuchar, Williamson (yeah I know), Gabbard (sigh), Gillibrand (yes for like one week), and Warren) among the White Men (Biden, Bernie, Beto, Inslee, Bennet, Hickenlooper, Bullock) and even a Gay White Man (Buttigieg) as the most diverse field ever to... well, almost no minorities and two (okay if you include Gabbard which you shouldn't, three) women candidate alongside the White Guys Biden Bernie and Buttigieg. Still...

The Democratic field even included the one ethnic group Democratic voting base doesn't like: Rich White Guys with Steyer and Bloomberg. Granted, Steyer is reasonably okay (he actually donates to charities!) and Bloomberg *is* still willing to put his money where it matters (helping the down-ballot races), neither of them were going to win over a party base that wants those billionaires to STFU and pay their damn fair share of taxes.

When Bloomberg finally made a debate appearance just before the Super Tuesday vote he had put all his hopes into, Warren was the one who gutted him onstage and finished him off Mortal Kombat style with a Flawless victory. It should have made her more popular with the Democratic voters, it should have translated into more support...

And yet when the actual primary voting happened, Warren could barely get enough voters from enough Democratic voters to qualify for delegates. Super Tuesday alone she couldn't even get past third place in her own state of Massachusetts (given how I ragged on Rubio in 2016 for being perpetually in third place, this was a painful karmic blow).

Unable to gain enough traction to play dealmaker at all for the Dem convention, Warren had no choice but to drop out. And it was just... hard to accept.

And it's not just me. My circle of friends - the socio-political bubble I admit I live within - both online and at work were mostly Warren fans, and they were broken up by it as well (is it telling that nearly every librarian I knew was cheering Liz forward?).

One of those in the circle was Emily L Hauser, who's been a published writer/pundit here and there over the years. She'd been the biggest fan for Warren since the start of her campaign, practically lived for every daily tweet and motivational message. The day that Warren announced the end of her campaign, Emily wrote this op-ed for the Chicago Tribune. It's a must-read, people, please check it out.

When Elizabeth Warren announced her 2020 candidacy, I was immediately all in, because she was the single most extraordinary candidate I’d ever seen. I’ve been a Democrat and activist my whole life, volunteering, protesting and organizing since high school, around myriad issues and across countless election cycles. I had been deeply moved by the opportunity to vote for Clinton.
I can’t say, however, that I found Clinton particularly inspiring. Warren, on the other hand, brought to American politics both a depth of knowledge and what race studies and constitutional law authority KimberlĂ© Crenshaw has termed “intersectionality” unlike anyone I’ve ever seen. Able to identify and articulate the ways in which, for instance, racism informs maternal mortality rates and sexism informs student debt, Warren understood that the problems facing our republic didn’t begin with Trump, and the aftermath of his presidency will require careful policies that grapple with all of it, all at once. She had a plan...
But Warren’s campaign — for which I have canvassed across state lines, made calls, live-tweeted speeches and raised more than $10,000 — faltered and finally ended Thursday. Despite her wisdom, compassion and proven success in establishing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, unseating an incumbent Republican in Massachusetts and destroying the campaign of a billionaire with a history of sexual harassment complaints (bye, Mike Bloomberg) — Democrats, the ostensible party of progressive values, have decided they prefer one of two near-80-year-old men: Joe Biden, who oversaw the shameful railroading of Anita Hill in the 1991 Clarence Thomas hearings, or Bernie Sanders, a man who was unaware that his 2016 campaign had been roiled with complaints of sexual harassment and gender pay disparities and when later asked about it by Anderson Cooper, responded that he hadn’t known at the time because he was “a little bit busy running around the country...”
But as we attempt to salvage our republic from the destruction wrought by a president actively seeking to unspool our democracy and placed in office by an electorate that didn’t care that so many women have reported suffering at his hands, I am consumed with grief and anger that my party rejected a woman of such unassailable caliber as Elizabeth Warren...

I'm with Emily on this. Warren was a great choice. She was intelligent, articulate, motivational, charismatic, humorous, focused, dedicated. The worst scandal on her was that she mislabeled her ethnicity as Native American in her college days, and she'd already explained that and apologized for it (of course, Republicans and trump especially still take to calling her "Pocahontas" as an insult). She took every policy issue seriously, she took every greeting and selfie line with grace, she did everything you'd expect from the candidate that ought to win the damn nomination.

And yet it was still not good enough. As hard as she worked at appealing to the Democratic voters, she still had to work past the problem of "she."

There is a stark realization as the Democratic nominating process narrows down to two main choices of Biden (Old White Male moderate) and Bernie (Old White Male socialist) that no matter what the Dems are bound to put an Old White Male at the top of the ticket. Having broken the barrier of African-Americans reaching the White House with Obama, the Dems are now terrified of "diversity" against arguably the worst Old White Male of all time in donald trump. As though the Dems are convincing themselves that Old White Men are the only offerings to win over enough American voters to win in November.

Never mind the reality that a woman Hillary Clinton WON the Popular Vote in 2016. Never mind the reality that Democrats are going to need voter turnout among minorities AND women to exceed last cycle's numbers.

I'm a guy, White Male, getting to be 50 years old, and yet goddammit I have no problem with a woman as President. I've worked alongside enough women, had women bosses as much as men bosses, met women smarter than me (my high school valedictorian and salutatorian were both women!) and met women more spiritual than me. Women have brains and souls and heart and ambition just like men. Why the hell aren't other White Guys able to accept that?

And yet the horrifying thing: The Democratic base might be right. There's still far too much misogyny in the mainstream media, still too much fear of women in power across our culture and boardrooms and homesteads.

It's just... it's painful to watch a party that's SUPPOSED to stand for diversity to succumb to that pressure and not fight the good fight. I understand the fear: trump is too dangerous to gamble on appealing to the better angels of our nation's nature right now.

But it's going to prolong the problem. We're going to run into this roadblock NEXT election cycle, and the one after that, and so on. At some point, we as a nation HAVE to address the reality that women can be capable as men when it comes to leadership.

Emily argued this too:

Anyone who hasn’t had those experiences, or known what it’s like to plan an entire day and an entire life around the possibility of sexual assault or harassment, or what it’s like to be the only one of your gender in a room marked by power, or what it’s like to have your reproductive freedom legislated by people with different reproductive organs — simply brings a different sensibility to the issues that shape the lives of 164 million Americans. It matters that women are so often absent from the halls of power, and it’s well past time for one to be in the White House.

At some point, the legacies of Victoria Woodhull and Margaret Chase Smith and Shirley Chisholm and Hillary Clinton and Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren ought to lead to a woman candidate standing there on Election Night celebrating the broken glass ceiling to end all glass ceilings.

I'm tired of the heartbreak. I'm tired of running into stuff like this. I'm not the only one, I know, and this isn't going to hurt me the way it's hurting millions of women still lacking that representation. Where would my compassion and hope and humanity not be while there is something as painful as this still happening? This doesn't help me (other than competent leadership for the United States again), it would help all of them, and that would have been something happy to root for.

I wish I had better, happier things to write about anymore.

Monday, March 02, 2020

We Are Facing a Pandemic Catastrophe

Granted not on the scale of Captain Tripps, but one that Randall Flagg is sure to enjoy. With a current update (as of March 2, 2020) via CNN:

Six people have died in Washington state as the United States grapples with more than 100 cases of the disease caused by the novel Coronavirus.
Four of the people who died were residents at the Life Care Center nursing care facility in Kirkland, in suburban Seattle, King County health officer Jeffrey Duchin said Monday. Four other Coronavirus cases are also linked to the Life Care Center.
"Current residents and associates continue to be monitored closely, specifically for an elevated temperature, cough and/or shortness of breath," officials said in a statement on the Life Care website. "Any resident displaying these symptoms is placed in isolation. Associates are screened prior to beginning work and upon leaving..."
There are 102 cases reported nationwide, according to the federal and state health officials, including:
* 45 former passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, the site of a recent outbreak and quarantine
* 3 Americans recently repatriated from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak
* 17 people believed to have contracted the virus through travel
* 37 people who got sick from another person in the United States, including some who don't know who the source was...

This is a problem that had been building up ever since the Coronavirus popped up in China a few months back. Given the global reach our transportation can get now - by airplane, by boat, by train - the spread of this new flu variance isn't a question of "when" it will spread, it's more "how fast will it spread?" This was something our nation should have been preparing for since the news first broke back in December 2019.

This is a problem for the United States because donald trump had been using the three years of his tenure demolishing the civil service under the White House, decimating our health care system by a thousand cuts, slashing the budget for the CDC (a major agency tasked to fight infectious diseases), and firing - through then-NSA head John Bolton - a White House pandemic response team back in 2018 that could have been managing this situation from Day One if they were still in place.

Wanna know how bad a problem this is?

Friend of mine from high school is a lawyer on the West Coast, travels a bit, was overseas when this all started, and she tweeted out recently her observations about the difference in responses between Singapore and the U.S.:




Part of this is the political culture, I'm sure. Singapore for example has a government-backed universal healthcare system, something that would encourage most residents to get checked out the second they get ill. They have a lot of incentives to organize and fight these outbreaks.

The United States, meanwhile, is still struggling to get the medical industry to mass-produce the tests needed to check a majority of residents, most Americans can't afford the time away from work to get checked, and the ones who do are getting hit with bills in the thousands of dollars, a serious discouragement against getting checked at all.

It does not help one damn bit that trump's response to this entire crisis has been to make sure HIS White House controls all messaging, that most of the response team are on board to keep the Stock Markets happy (because the last thing trump wants is the Dow to drop more than 5,000 points in a week), and that the messaging itself falls under the "All Is Well Never Mind the Increasing Numbers of Sick People" category of misinformation and underselling the severity of the pandemic.

We're about to face one of the biggest flu outbreaks in the U.S. since the "Swine Flu" (H1N1) of 2009, and possibly the most lethal one since the "Spanish Flu" of 1918. At a two percent fatality rate - compared to the regular flu we get that kills at less than a percent - we are looking at about 6 million Americans facing dire ends.

And right now, there's little evidence our government - supposed to be the ones protecting us from such health threats - is organizing well enough to fight this battle.

We are so fcking screwed.