"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"...doesn't philosophy amount to the sum of all thinkable and unthinkable errors, ceaselessly repeated?"--Jean-Luc Marion

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Saturday, March 28, 2020

The Tri-State Area...

...won’t vote for him anyway, right?


Like A Failed Souffle

Told ya!

And:  yeah, but I'm not holding my breath.

See?  Nothing really "unclear" about it.  It couldn't be enforced, legally or otherwise.

In Twitter veritas.

Will We Hear More About A Federal Quarantine?

Three guesses, first two don’t count.

Why'd he do it?

Yeah, I didn't think so, either.  So what did Trump say?

“As I said, I just spoke with [New York Gov.] Andrew Cuomo, I just spoke with [Florida Gov.] Ron DeSantis. We’re thinking about certain things. Some people would like to see New York quarantined because it’s the hot spot. New York, New Jersey, maybe one or two other places, certain parts of Connecticut quarantined. I’m thinking about that right now. We might not have to do it, but there’s the possibility that sometime in April we’ll quarantine.”

First, Gov. Cuomo has no idea what Trump is talking about, becuase Trump didn't mention it to Cuomo today.  Second, note who else Trump spoke to:  Gov. DeSantis of Florida.   Gov. DeSantis is blaming New Yorkers for the problems Florida has:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has called for closures of gyms and limited restaurants to takeout and delivery, but he has yet to issue a shelter-in-place order — and is now blaming New York for the state's coronavirus outbreak.

DeSantis spent a substantial portion of the 33-minute news briefing on Wednesday slamming New Yorkers for getting on flights out of the city, even though the state is under a shelter-in-place order.

Trump wants to win Florida.  More to the point, Trump wants to help out a fellow Republican who is a Trump supporter.  Ergo, Trump gets in front of cameras and surprises everyone in the White House (again!) by declaring he will quarantine states so as to save DeSantis' bacon from the fire.  And why not?  DeSantis, like Trump, refuses to take responsibility for problems under his jurisdiction.*  It's not exactly xenophobic of him to denounce fellow Americans; then again, it's very Southern to blame the "damn yankees" for your troubles.

Besides, Trump just moved to Florida, right?

QED.  The "police" power to quarantine (among other things) resides solely with the states.  Florida has a problem with travel from New York?  That's Florida's problem, not the federal government's.

*More like Trump than I thought:

"Because they kiss my...."

I'm pretty sure the source is you:
“Should anyone who lives in a state that has a governor that you’re not getting along with well be concerned at all?” asked NBC News reporter Kelly O’Donnell.

“No, I think most of the governors are very appreciative,” said Trump. 
And why was he asked such a question?

“I would say we’ll use [the Defense Production Act] again once or twice,” Trump told a reporter on the White House lawn. “We have a couple of little problem children, and we’ll use it where we have to. But overall, I tell you, the private, free enterprise system is at work like nobody’s seen in a long time.” 
Narrator:  he actually hasn't used the DPA yet.
I saw somewhere recently Trump described as an "authoritarian weakman."  He's not authoritarian.  He's just weak.

Does this mean Easter is postponed?  Or that the rest of the country can celebrate it without the northeast states?

No; because Trump doesn't know what the fuck the word "quarantine" means.

Signs of the times.

Friday, March 27, 2020

On the other hand....

He’s right. But it doesn’t mean what he thinks it means.

As CAP points out.

Why I am ignoring the daily “press conferences “

Times is weird when Joe Walsh speaks for me.
unfit to be in charge of a two-car funeral.
Partly because he’s so effing stupid!

'FAKE NEWS!'--A Twitter Timeline (Earlier today)

Trump still seems completely at sea in regards to his authority and responsibility.

Nothing about the cost, though.

No indication at all that anything has really changed.

Good morning, World!

Is it time to invoke "P"?

"Invoke P"

That was last night.

This was this morning.  "Invoke P"?  He explained that:

But who is he talking to?  He already signed the statement enacting the powers of the DPA.  Does he think this tweet is the directive to GM to comply with that law?  How?  What do they do?  Or did he know this last night, and was that why he told Hannity New York didn't need so many ventilators?

Nobody needs 'em, but praise us, we're gonna get 'em! Just can't say anything right now!  Tune in tonight for the big reveal!!!!

So New York doesn't need them, but some (how many?) have been delivered and New York is hoarding them?

We are in the hands of a complete moron.  And frankly, this is as scary as fuck:

Yeah, I know, we all hate "Big Oil."  But fracking made domestic production possible and spared us some of the vagaries of the world oil market.  Maybe that wasn't such a good thing, though, because it's the world market that's shutting down domestic oil production.  Which will only lead to even more unemployment, btw, so factor that into the future.  The scary part is Trump fails completely to understand that.  IF the entire country could go back to work tomorrow without spreading disease like a wind blows leaves, the domestic oil industry would still be crashing because the cause is not people staying at home, the cause is Saudi Arabia fighting with Russia.

We are so completely screwed.

“Sure, let’s run government... a business! Imagine how much better that will be!”

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Meanwhile, back in America

“You “ there is New York. Maybe if Gov. Cuomo was more grateful Trump would “believe “ differently. But of course reality is irrelevant; all that matters is what Trump believes.
Quick! Somebody tell Jared!
Did that yesterday.


Why Blame China?

“MAGA MARTYR Benefits Include”

So, let's put this in context:

There's a difference between "movie deaths" and death in real life.

In the movies, people "die," because they fall down and stop moving.  It's usually very clean.

In real life, people die slowly, especially if the cause of death is a disease process.

In the movies, dead bodies just vanish.  Sometimes, via movie magic, they dissolve or turn to dust or are whisked away in tiny fragments by a vagrant breeze.  If not that, then the scene changes and the clean up of bodies is not even necessary:  there is simply no more notice of them.

In real life, people leave corpses behind, which have to be cared for lest they lead to further problems, like cholera.  They are also the corpses of loved ones, and have to be treated as such.

In the movies, people die suddenly and easily, or they die a "beautiful death," and you can even pick who dies (if you're the screenwriter") or see it coming because Act 3 is drawing to a close.

In real life, death is absolutely unpredictable, and attention must be paid.  We don't tell people "You're odds are too low, go home and die, no treatment for you!"  And you don't know who is going to die, who is going to live; unless you simply refuse to treat people.  And then you are playing God, and literally deciding who lives and who dies.  In medical care this is called "triage," and it is invoked only under circumstances where care is limited and must be rationed.  Deciding the "old" should die so the "young" can go back to the movies and bars is not triage; it is brute savagery.  More importantly, it simply doesn't work the way the proponents of "let the old go first" imagine it does.  Because what they are calling for is not the cruel logic of implacable fate ("You're time is up!"), but the horrific illogic that a disease process will "cull the herd" like some kind of invisible hand from economic theory.  But the disease process is arbitrary and cruel and may well take the grandchildren instead of the grandparents.  Assuming we have control of this disease is one more act of hubris from people who imagine they control the fates themselves.

The other, of course, is deciding some lives are more expendable than others.

"Congratulations AMERICA!"

Is This a Great Country, or What?

Why We Have An Internet

I’m tired of being polite about it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Signs of the Times

I'll quit for four months, lose my benefits and seniority, and then get my job back! For all the free gummint money! Sweet! (Yes, that is what they think of you.)

As we say in Texas (and honestly, we do): "Thank Gawd for Mississippi!" It's always there to bring up the rear and make the most retrograde of states not quit hit bottom; because Mississippi will always set "bottom" just a little lower.

Damned liberal media!

I'm sure it'll all be over by Easter!

All the more reason to spread it far and wide!

When a man tells you who he is:

...believe him.

Forget the armchair psychoanalysis and the view from far away or the “real” reasons why Trump wants to restart the country on Easter.

Take him at his word.

Class Warfare

The people who say we must restart the economy, damn the cost in lives:

The billionaire Tom Golisano was smoking a Padron cigar on his patio in Florida on Tuesday afternoon. He was worried.

“The damages of keeping the economy closed as it is could be worse than losing a few more people,” said Golisano, founder and chairman of the payroll processor Paychex Inc. “I have a very large concern that if businesses keep going along the way they’re going then so many of them will have to fold.”

Are uniformly wealthy.  Which is not to say they have the most to lose:

Billionaires and other members of the elite have the luxury of social distancing while making money. The ones who want workers back in their jobs say they’re aiming to stop millions from suffering for years and falling further into debt. Officials are trying to accomplish that by restricting foreclosures and allowing Americans to defer mortgage payments.
Jim Conway was a server in an Olive Garden in Pennsylvania until it closed about two weeks ago. He’s been out of work and isn’t getting paid while his application for unemployment benefits gets processed.

“Being an older worker, I’m in no hurry to go back in the middle of an epidemic,” Conway, 63, said. “Being a server means you’re in contact with lots of different people, and puts you at bigger risk of getting infected. I’m kind of glad they closed when they did.” He wants the outbreak under control before the restaurant reopens, but worries that politicians and businesses tend to focus on their bottom line before people like him.

“They’ve never really had our interests at heart,” he said. “And now would be a weird time to start.”

But it's money that matters:

Dick Kovacevich, who ran Wells Fargo & Co. until 2007, wants to see healthy workers below about 55 or so to return to work late next month if the outbreak is under control. “We’ll gradually bring those people back and see what happens. Some of them will get sick, some may even die, I don’t know,” said Kovacevich, who was also the bank’s chairman until 2009. “Do you want to suffer more economically or take some risk that you’ll get flu-like symptoms and a flu-like experience? Do you want to take an economic risk or a health risk? You get to choose.”

When it comes down to it, for some people, money is life.  Don't lose track of that. To these people, life without money is simply unimaginable.  I live across a freeway (as in, immediately across) from some of the richest neighbhorhoods in America.  The general practice of people from the other side of the road is that everyone on this sides wants their money; not their lives, just their money.  But life without money?  They seem to think that a fate worse than death, and to imagine those of us with quite a bit less money than they have must be destitute, desperate, and greedy for what the other side of the freeway enjoys.

It's money that matters.  We're seeing that quite starkly.  I wonder if this will be what the coronavirus changes in America.

Church, State, and Public Health

When asked about religious organizations, Texas Governor Greg Abbott explained they were exempt from large gathering restrictions due to “freedom of religion.” While his rhetoric is more in line with the talking points the Christian Right has used to advance a theocratic agenda in recent years, both Whitmer and Abbot are essentially making First Amendment arguments.

Except Gov. Abbott forgot to tell Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo:

Faith leaders may minister and counsel in individual settings, so long as social distance protocols are followed.Religious and worship services may only be provided by video and teleconference.Religious institutions must limit in-person staff to those necessary for preparing for or conducting video or teleconference services, and all individuals must follow the Social Distancing Guidelines, including the six-foot social distancing.
That order went into effect at midnight.*  There may be some objection to it, eventually; but so far, not a peep.  Not even the Governor's office, calling to complain.

Lots of large Southern Baptist churches here.  I find, by and large, they are pretty sensible people.

*I should also clarify that Abbott is still leaving decisions on orders for public health to counties and municipalities, so he really has no room to complain, if he ever does.

"Context is All."

Yeah, about that:

Oh, THAT'S what the problem is!

250 tests per site, per day. I suppose we don't want people to get dependent on government reviewed medical tests, huh? I'm sure that's a moral hazard....somehow.

Serious Question

If Trump announces tomorrow "EVERYBODY GO BACK TO WORK!," how many of these states are going to say "Okay, fine, sure, no problem"?

(Texas does have a statewide order in place, but it's a directive aimed at setting guidelines for counties and/or municipalities.  So even if the Governor decides to follow the leader, the counties probably won't follow.  Just saying that this is a real checkerboard, or minefield if you prefer, despite the view from 30,000 feet.)

D'ya think comprehensive testing is going to be even available by Easter Sunday?

Neither do I.

The GOP is a death cult: a continuing series

Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are approved for malaria, so doctors can prescribe them for other illnesses. Some are trying them on patients with covid-19 based on anecdotal reports that they are sometimes helpful. The Oracle technology is meant to help the government collect data “in real time” and faster than in traditional Food and Drug Administration clinical trials, said one person familiar with the discussions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

We don' need no steenken' double blind studies!  Ship 'em out!  What harm can it do?

(That sound you hear is medical malpractice insurance carriers clenching their nether regions in unison.)

We don' need no steenken' randomized tests, either!  We have Oracle!

While the anti-malarial drugs are also being tested in clinical trials, the primary purpose of Oracle’s new website and mobile app is to help gather information on patients prescribed the medications outside of trials and more quickly assess whether the drugs — or any others that may emerge as possible treatments — are effective against covid-19, for which there is no proven treatment. The company plans to donate the site to the government.

This is only going to get worse, isn't it?

Love in a time of Unemployment

When local governments are shutting down businesses as a public health measure, where is the moral hazard in providing higher unemployment compensation?


Lost in the black hole of innumeracy:

South Korea quickly got tests out, which is being credited with helping flatten the country's curve of its coronavirus outbreak; the United States moved far more slowly, taking weeks to ramp up testing.

Now, the United States has tested more than 300,000 people, government officials touted Tuesday, noting it had passed South Korea in the raw number of tests conducted.

"In a short period of time, we've done more testing than South Korea," President Trump said on an appearance on Fox News Tuesday. Trump added, "We're going up proportionally very rapidly."

But South Korea has a population of just 51 million people; the United States has 327 million.

At about 300,000 tests in each country, that means South Korea has tested 1-in-170 people; the United States: 1-in-1,090.

That's more than six times less, per capita, than South Korea.
Nothing has changed in Harris County, third most populous county in the country.

Light at the end of the tunnel!!!!

Even Incompetence Has Its Purpose

More Light at the end of the Tunnel

GOP Logic

Hey, that means fewer carriers, right? And fewer hospital patients!

Light at the end of the tunnel, bay-bee!

(Dan Patrick and Glenn Beck approve of this message.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Jeremiah 17:9

And God said: “Even I didn’t know he’d be that incompetent!”

“God damn the pusher man!”—Steppenwolf

Tracking usage of a drug for a purpose prohibited by law. Isn’t there a term for such drugs?

Occam’s Blunted Razor

We would have also accepted: “You can’t fix stupid.”

Asking for a friend....

(Drinking has no real effect on your immune system, btw) Which parts of the country are ready to go back to work, again?


We start with the fact that Liz Cheney (!) is the sensible one here.  Then we move to media coverage, and the idiotic assumption that whatever the President says must be passed along without comment or context:

And then we must note:

Like this?

But first he has to say "Pretty please with sugar on top."

Yeah, that's where we are; it's where we have been for three years.

Fortunately, we have governors:

Of course, it's still gonna be a shitshow, no matter what:

Except those restaurants won't be open in the first place.  So there's that.  Trump supporters may scream and yell about it, but restaurant owners aren't going to defy local bans, and their employees aren't going to be anxious to work in conditions that might make them sick; if it doesn't kill them.

Trump is simply going to corkscrew himself right into the ground on this one.

That's a terrible silver lining, but it still is one.  It's about all we'll have for awhile:

Yeah; nothing to look forward to here; except we have to stand together, despite the "opposition."  Even they don't deserve this virus.  Nobody does.

Once More, With Feeling: "I don't take any responsibility at all."

"More gasoline for the dumpster fire, sir?"

That is pretty much what I was hearing from Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo this morning.

That's what the White House is saying.  Who has more credibility?

I've said it before, I'll say it again:  Trump has no power to re-start the economy, no power to order ordinary life to resume, no power to override the decisions of governors and county officials and mayors, and his attempts to do so will only make the problem worse.  I really didn't think it was possible to find a way to do that, but never doubt Trump's ability (and the GOP, apparently) to throw gasoline on the fire.

I mean, not ever.

Repeat after me: it's not about the death toll

Bad as it is to treat the deaths of others (never anyone we know!) as literally a cost of doing business, the situation is really as simple as this:

Well, and this:

It's not the number dead, it's the number sick, and the healthcare they will need, and won't be able to get.  Italy is deciding now who gets a respirator and who doesn't, because they don't have enough to go around.  They are enacting Dan Patrick's solution, not to save the economy, but as a simple and horrible matter of triage.

We are next, if we don't do something about it now.

"Don’t believe anything that the President says and his people because they don't know what they're talking about."


Trump has latched onto the chloroquine story since it's the fantasy road back to a roaring economy and his reelection. I suspect the sudden excitement to pump stories on how chloroquine is a straight up cure (my brother in law's cousins sister with coronavirus took chloroquine and was completely cured four days later!) is an effort to create a narrative to justify dropping quarantine initiatives and reopening what he can. When people then die of the virus he will blame the states and doctors for not using his perfect cure. It really feels like it will be this awful.

Just gonna add this here:

So at best anecdotal evidence, tech companies and uninformed flacks (Kushner et al.), no scientific rigor, but it will generate "data" that will support the conclusion not doubt. Oversight, review boards, Phase I,II and III trials, efficacy, rigor on side effects? Who needs all that, computers and data!

"Mr. Trump has repeatedly pressed for optimism on treatments, and counseled that medical efforts not be wedded to traditional drug trials.

He has described chloroquine — a drug that has been used to treat malaria for nearly a century — as a “game changer.”"

Game changer!!

One of these drugs (hydroxychloroquine) is used for treating lupus, and lupus patients are already having trouble getting prescriptions refilled.  And it isn't just old people drinking fish tank cleaner; doctors are writing themselves prescriptions to "treat" their families with drugs not approved for that treatment, which is a violation of federal law.

Game changer!!!!!


I hadn’t watched this, though I’ve seen it all morning, everywhere.

I’ve dealt with small children who weren’t this self-obsessed.

My death is not possible; but yours is, and that's fine with me

Dan Patrick doesn't think he's going to die; but he's okay with it if you do.  He plans to be around to enjoy a rebounding economy.  He's quite happy to sacrifice you to get that.

Don't doubt for a minute Dan Patrick doesn't plan to die; but he's quite comfortable with others dying instead of him.  Nobody who's agreeing with him is going to commit suicide for the sake of their grandchildren's 401k's.  But they're quite happy for others to die for their convenience.

Same as it ever was.

Mexico and Canada Are Going To Close Their Borders

But Trump will get to go back to his rallies, so it's all good.

Harris County Is Shut Down

Harris County, the largest (by population) county in Texas, is now closed.

County Judge Lina Hidalgo (highest political office in the county) is on the radio now announcing the shut down.  She is citing the CEO's of the hospitals of the Texas Medical Center, that if the rate of increase of cases in Houston (Harris County) is not relieved, bedspace and most importantly ICU space is going to run out and Harris County "will be like New York City and Italy." She spoke repeatedly of hospitals and hospital workers as those on the "front line."

This order is in effect until at least April 3.

At no point has Judge Hidalgo cited Donald Trump, the White House, or even the CDC.

Nobody is going to listen to Trump, even if he announces "All Clear, Go Back to Work!" next Monday.

Can I Work This Into My Banner?

Future’s So Bright

Greg Abbot has already defaulted decisions on closures to counties and cities. Does he take that power back to dance as Trump’s puppet? Not likely. And if he did, he’d have a fight on his hands from all the largest cities and counties in the state.

And New York, California, Colorado and Washington are going to tell him to pound sand. Denver just shut down, with 700 confirmed cases in a population of 500,000. Indeed, how many governors would follow Trump? Who wants to be the outlier now?

These decisions are not being made by Trump, and he can’t reverse them. The more he rails, the more impotent he will be.

It’s the best outcome possible right now.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Where Do They Keep Getting the Shovels?

(My daughter would thank me if I offed myself so Denver could lift its lockdown. Aside from the fact she’s as much at risk as I am. Younger people don’t have any more immunity than I do. Idiot.)

(to rustypickup:  thanks for the link.  I saw this tweet just before I read your comment.)

(Further correction:  I didn't edit the sentence, but I was speaking sarcastically about my daughter wishing my imminent death.  My point, lost in my lack of eloquence (or punctuation; that sentence should have ended in a question mark), is that death is not a choice we make for ourselves.  Suicide is never not an act of selfishness, because of loved ones left behind.  Patrick acts like we'd all thank him for a sacrifice he has no intention of making (and how could we, he wouldn't be there to hear), and his grandkids would be glad Grandpa was dead so the stock market would recover.  I dare say they don't agree with him, and it's an appallingly selfish thing to claim, especially since it doesn't cross his mind to get sick and refuse treatment to be a martyr to the Dow Jones.)

“Follow the Money.”

“I Don’t Take Any Responsibility At All”

The POTUS needs to be isolated NOW

His delusional state is dangerous.

The Surprise Would Be He Was Right

According to AP, car manufacturers would need months to retool; even if they want to produce ventilators.

Again and again Trump thinks saying it is so is all that’s required. Maybe it’s a god complex, but saying it doesn’t create it. Most likely he doesn’t care. It sounds good on TV, that’s all that matters.

Continuing the Argument a Moment

Because while human beings see numbers like this and commiserate with the mourners, people like Stephen Moore look at these numbers and argue a death rate of 1.2% is not enough to destroy an economy over.
But the number of cases cited by Jake Tapper today, represents a jump of almost 9000 cases since yesterday:
Now let's make that rise steeper and faster by telling people to go back to work.

This is a numbers game in terms who will be affected, not in terms of who is going to die.
Yeah, thanks, I really feel the love.  But my Millenial daughter is at high risk, too.
You gonna tell me she is non-productive and is too expensive to maintain?

We cannot lose this fight to assholes.

Death is not the worst outcome

The worst possible outcome right now of Trump's "send 'em back to work!" policy is not a massive death toll, as truly bad as that would be.

It's the flooding of hospitals with the sick, and triage being performed at every health care facility in the country as the injured and ill continue to pour into those facilities, side by side with all the infected who need at least palliative care (which is all we can offer now), but may need ICU care (which we don't have enough of).  And what of non-covid19 patients who need ICU care, too?

Trump would essentially turn the entire country into a disaster film, where demand literally outstrips supply.  I just came from the grocery store where shelves are emptying out of things you wouldn't think they'd run low on:  milk; cleaning supplies; sugar; flour; laundry detergents.  Have the trucks stopped running?  Or are people panicking more and more, and hoarding for fear the shelves will be (as they are now) empty, and remain that way?  I was reassured the toilet paper manufacturers could meet the demand.  I haven't seen a roll of toilet paper in a store in 10 days.

Now stretch that out over months, as the people who literally make and transport and deliver and shelve that stuff, fall ill and crowd the hospitals.  Houston has the Texas Medical Center, and still doesn't have that kind of hospital capacity.

As bad as death is, the enormous suffering Trump would inflict on the country, all in the name of keeping his job and raising the flagging stock market, is worse.  And yet there's nothing we can do, short of ignore the President.  Now, more than ever, that's precisely what we need to do.

But that's not going to solve anything, either.

(well, and yeah, these people are monsters.  But focussing solely on deaths is not to focus on the problem.)