this is not difficult; wear a mask

You know what the difference is between experts and fuckwits? I’ll tell you. Experts learn from their mistakes. Okay, there are other differences too, but that’s a big one.

Yesterday, in his FoxNEWS interview with Chris Wallace, Comrade Trump (not an expert) responded to a question about masks with this: “Dr. Fauci said don’t wear a mask. Our surgeon general, terrific guy, said don’t wear a mask. Everybody was saying don’t wear a mask. All of a sudden, everybody’s got to wear a mask.” He went on to say he believes masks are good, but clearly Trump’s intent was to discredit Fauci and the necessity of wearing a face mask in public.

Wear a mask in the cereal aisle.

Today the conservative online magazine The Federalist parroted Trump’s argument in an essay written by David Marcus (not an expert) called ‘How Have Our Scientific Experts Gotten So Much Wrong?’. The magazine, by the way, is privately owned, so it doesn’t have to disclose who the owners are or who funds the magazine; make of that what you will. Here’s an example of what Marcus (still not an expert) thinks the experts have been ‘wrong’ about:

Masks don’t make a difference. Remember that? It was about two months ago. The consensus of scientific experts who must be obeyed unless one is a Trump-loving troglodyte assured us that there was no need to don a silly mask. Today, masks are the Holy Grail of stopping the virus. How did that happen? What do we know in July that we didn’t know in May?

At least non-expert Marcus asked the right question: what do we know now that we didn’t know back in May? Sadly, he assumes the answer is ‘nothing’. He fails–or refuses–to understand two things. First, this is a novel coronavirus. It’s brand new; we’ve never seen it or dealt with it before, so nobody, including the experts, knows quite what it does, how it does it, or how to stop it from doing it. The experts hoped SARS‑CoV‑2 would act like similar coronaviruses (it hasn’t) and would respond to similar treatments (it doesn’t).

Wear a mask in the garden center.

To answer Marcus’s question, there’s a LOT we know now that we didn’t know in May. We didn’t know infected people could be asymptomatic for a couple of weeks. We didn’t know asymptomatic people could transmit the virus. We didn’t know the virus could be transmitted by talking loudly or singing, and not just by the more common forms such as coughing and sneezing. We didn’t know masks were an effective way to significantly retard transmission. That’s what we know now that we didn’t know in May.

This is how science works. This is what experts do that fuckwits don’t. They incorporate new information and allow it to revise their understanding of the problem in order to better shape their response to it. The fact that the experts were wrong at the beginning doesn’t mean they’re unreliable, or that they can’t be trusted, or that they’re not really experts. It just means they didn’t know as much back then.

Another example of the difference between experts and fuckwits. Marcus (very much not an expert) wrote:

[O]f all the blunders by our elite intellects that must not be questioned, perhaps the most significant is one that President Trump pointed out in March only to be jeered and mocked. On March 4, the president told Sean Hannity that he had a hunch that the World Health Organization’s assertion that 3.4 percent of people who contracted the Chinese Virus would die was wrong. He said he believed the actual number was closer to .5 percent…. Months after the mockery of him, it turns out Trump was right. It also turns out, and I know this is impossible so I can’t explain it, the scientific experts who must be obeyed were, how should I put this…um, (leans into microphone) “wrong.”

Maybe not. As I write this, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the US is 3,925,886. The number of confirmed Covid-19 deaths is 143,515. In other words, about 3.65% of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the US have died. That’s a tad more than the experts of the WHO estimate, but a LOT more accurate that the ‘hunch’ of Comrade Trump (not anywhere close to being an expert).

Wear a mask in the produce department.

Near the end of his editorial, Marcus (OMG not an expert) says this:

Let’s remember that the massive spikes in deaths predicted when Gov. Brian Kemp opened Georgia, or when Trump held a rally in Tulsa a month ago did not materialize. 

Yes, let’s do some remembering. Let’s remember that Georgia re-opened on April 30th. They had 693 new cases that day. Yesterday they had 2,453 new cases, a bit down from their seven-day average of 3,201. And let’s remember that on June 20, when Trump held his rally in Tulsa, they had 331 new cases. Yesterday they had 916, up from their seven-day average of 715 new cases.

And while we’re remembering that, let’s also remember that new Covid-19 cases lag a couple of weeks behind actual infections, and that Covid-19 deaths lag anywhere from two to four months behind diagnosis. Bodies are going to start piling up.

Don’t be one of those fuckwits without a masks.

Marcus (nothing like an expert) concludes by suggesting we should weigh the advice of all those experts who’ve been wrong against our own common sense. And hey, he’s right. We really should do that. But when we’re doing that weighing, our common sense should tell us to include the weight of the 143,515 dead Americans.

I your common sense tells you NOT to wear a mask, then you’re probably a fuckwit. Don’t be a fuckwit. Wear a mask.

everything would have been knocked down

Task force. Originally, it was a naval term. Specialized ships from different fleets and squadrons would be temporarily assembled to work as a group to perform a single defined task or activity. After the mission was accomplished, the various ships would return to their normal duties. The ‘task force’ concept has been widely adapted.

Comrade Trump signs an executive order creating a task force to protect…wait…statues?

It’s a great concept, an effective administrative tool, and if used wisely, a task force can be incredibly efficient. If used wisely is the operative phrase in that sentence. Here’s an example of the wise use of a task force. In 2013, the Obama administration created the Pandemic Prediction and Forecasting Science and Technology Working Group. It was comprised of members from eighteen different federal departments and agencies, including the National Security Council, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Office of Management and Budget, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Department of Defense.

Mass burial of Covid-19 victims.

Their job was to “mitigate large‐scale outbreaks by predicting more accurately when and where outbreaks are likely to occur, and how they will progress.” They did this by monitoring and analyzing a myriad of minor social disruptions which, on their own, might not be alarming, but when considered in context could indicate a potential disease outbreak. If, say, the price of pork in Country A suddenly increases, it could mean the hog farmers in Province X have been forced to slaughter a lot of their stock because of a localized swine disease. Taken in conjunction with an increase in Province X’s hospitalizations for flu-like syndrome, it could suggest the first seeds of an epidemic. Task force experts could then be sent to Province X to work with Country A to find out just what the fuck is going on. Then deal with it locally, and prevent the spread to Province Y — or worse, Country B.

Brilliant. By the way, if you’re curious, you can read a report on the PPFSTWG (which, I agree, is among the worst acronyms ever) here. And yes, this is the pandemic response team which the Trump administration disbanded because…well, who the hell knows why.

Let me repeat myself for a minute. A task for is an effective administrative tool, and if used wisely, a task force can be incredibly efficient. Here’s an example of a task force NOT used wisely. Comrade Trump has issued an executive order directing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to create a task force to “protect historic landmarks against vandalism and destruction” from “violent anarchists and rioters”. Homeland Security, you’ll remember, is the agency created in 2002 in response to the 9/11 attacks; its stated mission is to prepare for, prevent, and respond to domestic emergencies, particularly terrorism. Now, apparently, they have to redirect resources to preventing members of the public from painting ‘Black Lives Matter’ on statues of Confederate generals.

This statue of Andrew Jackson is now safe.

You may be asking yourself if it’s really necessary to create a federal task force to protect statues. Good question. Here’s what Trump had to say about it (and I am NOT making this up):

“I took out an old act, the statues and monuments. And we’re going to have thousands of people in Washington last week. And nobody showed up because they get a 10-year jail term now. They pushed down a statue. They — they even touch anything. It’s a very tough act. You couldn’t get a thing like that approved today. I took it out and we used it and you see the difference. You haven’t seen any rights. You haven’t seen people doing things lately. And the reason is 10 years in prison. If they knocked down a statue, now it started with Confederate soldiers, and then they started hitting George Washington, Abraham Lincoln. And they started hitting Thomas Jefferson. And you know, I’m going to a very special place this weekend, as you know, very beautiful monuments called Mount Rushmore, and somebody said they want to see that come down, that’s never coming down. And we’re going to, uh, run it the way I’ve been running it. Very tough. Now, we had to see what was going on for a period of a week, week and a half. Once we saw what was going on, I did this act last week, a week ago, a little more than a week ago. And it’s been very powerful because people don’t want to go to prison for 10 years for knocking down a statue. And most of these people they’re anarchist or they’re agitators, most of them don’t even know what they’re knocking down. You know, whether it’s Andrew Jackson, they were doing Andrew Jackson the week ago. Almost got it down but I had people go in that were very strong and they went and did a good job. The ropes were up, everything was ready, we got just in time. Andrew Jackson was a great general and a good president, very good president and probably two term and we did a good job. If I weren’t here, this all of Washington would have been knocked down. That’s what would have happened. You would have had Washington knocked down with somebody like a Biden where there’s no law, there’s no order. Everything would have been knocked down, but I’m here.”

There you go. Trump’s here, with a task force. Otherwise everything would have been knocked down.

Yesterday, there were 51.097 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the U.S. and a butcher’s bill of over 130,000 dead. But at least Trump has saved a statue of Andrew Jackson, the president who signed the Indian Removal Act (which resulted in at least 15,000 native American deaths — or about 11.5% of a pandemic).

killed by indifference

A lot has been written about the way George Floyd was killed. I think most of what I’ve read gets the story wrong. People have called it a deliberate murder. They’ve said it was a result of racial animus. They’ve described it as a hate crime.

I don’t think that’s entirely correct. I think it was something even worse. I think it was an act of casual indifference.

I don’t know what motivated Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer who kept his knee on Floyd’s neck. How could I? But from watching the video, my sense is that Chauvin wasn’t angry. He wasn’t scared. He didn’t feel threatened. He wasn’t nervous or alarmed or even annoyed. Chauvin, to me, seemed unconcerned, not just about what was he was doing, but also to what was taking place around him. He seemed unmoved by it all.

That’s what I saw in the video. Chauvin just didn’t care. He was unmoved by Floyd’s pleas for help. He had no concern about Floyd’s well-being. Floyd simply didn’t matter; not as a suspect in a crime, not as a citizen of Minneapolis, not as a member of the public Chauvin was sworn to protect, not even as a fellow human being. Chauvin just didn’t care.

I’ve heard folks use the phrase ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ when talking about this killing. I’m not seeing that. I’m not convinced Chauvin saw Floyd as a fellow human being, as a person with the same thoughts and passions and feelings and dreams and concerns shared by every other human being.

Elie Wiesel, a Romanian Jew who survived the Nazi Holocaust — who survived being interned in the Máramarossziget ghetto, who survived both the Auschwitz concentration camp and the death camp at Buchenwald — had this to say:

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of beauty is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, but indifference between life and death.

Would Chauvin have done the same thing to a white person? I don’t know; maybe. Possibly. Probably, depending on the social status of the person. But it’s hard to imagine racism not playing a role in the killing. Certainly, racism was involved in the police response to the inevitable protest afterwards. We didn’t see any tear gas or rubber bullets used against any of the lockdown protesters, did we.

The face of indifference.

In the end, it comes down to callous disregard for George Floyd. Floyd just didn’t matter. His suffering didn’t matter. His pleas for help didn’t matter. His civil rights didn’t matter. His life didn’t matter. Nor do the lives of his family and friends and, in an ever expanding circle, the lives of people of color in Minneapolis, in Minnesota, in the United States.

It’s not just George Floyd who didn’t matter. Of the 100,000 American deaths from Covid-19 over the last four months, 56.5% have been non-white. Only 28% of the US population is non-white. This is no coincidence. Apply that same metric to incarceration, to wealth, to general health care, to arrest rates, to infant mortality, to employment, to just about any social criterion in the United States.

Indifference is the key to inhumanity. George Floyd was killed by indifference. He simply didn’t matter.

defending america against bill gates and chicom viruses

Okay, let’s be honest now. This poor guy wouldn’t have had to exercise his Second Amendment rights if Bill Gates hadn’t paid the Chinese Communist government of China to release the Wuhan Virus to infect all of the Republicans in the United States so he could develop a ‘global vaccine’ which is actually a Human Implantable Quantum Dot Microneedle Vaccination Delivery System (patent #060606) that injects quantum dot microneedles, a digital identification mark, AND a device for buying and selling cryptocurrency. They want you to believe a mask will protect you from the vaccine, BUT IT WON’T. So of course, he had no choice but to open fire on his third visit to the Waffle House.

Actual Waffle House where the 2nd Amendment Remedy was exercises (probably, you can’t prove it’s not, so shut up).

Where in the Constitution does it say you have to wear a mask to order a damn waffle? Tell me that. We didn’t fight a war in Europe and Southeast Asia just so China can make us wear masks to buy a damn waffle. We have rights and freedom, so they hate us and our damn waffles.

Who is the real victim here? WHO?!!11? Also, only pussies wash their hands. Keep American Great Again Still.

fifty ways

— I’m confused. I don’t understand. I just don’t get it.
— What’s the matter, pookie?
— I really really don’t understand why people are reacting to a pandemic this way.
— Oh. It’s because they’re assholes.
— They assert their right to protest a legal order from their governor, but they were outraged when a black football player took a knee to protest racial police brutality. Don’t they see how illogical that is?
— No, because they’re assholes.

These people are assholes.

— They insist they’re pro-life, that every potential life is sacred, but at the same time they say it’s permissible for some folks to die in order to strengthen the economy. Not just permissible, but necessary. I don’t understand that reasoning.
— It’s asshole reasoning. The reasoning of assholes.
— They argue that they have the absolute right over the integrity of their bodies, that if they don’t want to wear a mask, they shouldn’t have to. But they also want to deny women the right over the integrity of their bodies, saying they shouldn’t be allowed to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. I mean, they feel imposed upon if they have to wear a mask, but it’s not an imposition for a woman to carry an unwanted fetus for nine months? Explain that to me.
— The explanation is that they’re assholes.

A few more assholes.

— And armed protests? What’s with that? Not just protests against stay-at-home orders, but armed protests. Why do they need to bring guns?
— It’s because they’re assholes.
— They call themselves patriots, but they keep waving Confederate or Nazi flags. I mean, flags of peoples who fought against the United States. How is that patriotic?
— They’re assholes.
— They say President Obama was corrupt, even though nobody in his administration was ever charged with a crime. Eight years and constant ongoing Congressional investigations, not one person charged with a crime. But they insist Trump is the best president ever, despite the fact that at least seven members of his administration or transition team have pleaded guilty or been convicted of felonies. And who knows how many were fired or resigned in disgrace. How does that compute?
— Dude, they’re assholes. I don’t know what else to say.

Assholes with guns.

— They claim to respect law enforcement, but they also say the FBI tried to derail the Trump presidential campaign. They say they believe in the rule of law, but they don’t want the rule of law to apply to themselves. It doesn’t make any sense. I don’t get it.
— Yes, you do. They’re assholes.
— I just can’t wrap my head around all of this. It’s like…it’s like…I don’t even know.
— Sit back, pookie, and allow me to quote the poet Simon.

“The problem is all inside your head”, she said to me
“The answer is easy if you take it logically
I’d like to help you in your struggle to be free
There must be fifty ways to say they’re assholes.”

— So you’re saying…it’s because they’re assholes?
— Ah, day dawns in the rock garden.
— What?
— You have seen the light.

 

really most sincerely dead

Well, that’s it then. The rule of law is dead. Officially dead. Medically dead, legally dead, dead in every meaningful way. Stone dead. Dead as Marley’s ghost. Deader than that, in fact, since Jacob Marley at least came back in an attempt to set things right. That’s not going to happen here. The rule of law in the United States is as dead as the Wicked Witch of the East. Not only merely dead, but really most sincerely dead.

Comrade Donald Trump killed it. Attorney General Bill Barr helped. Trump pushed it out the window and left it crippled and bleeding in the gutter; Barr finished it off by dropping a cinder block its head. 

I’m not a fan of the FBI, although I recognize their dedication and, to some extent, their sincerity of purpose. What they did to Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn was no different from what law enforcement officers at all levels–federal, state, county, and municipal–do every day. They gathered their facts, they interviewed the suspect, they gave him a chance to tell the truth. He didn’t.

That’s routine interviewing technique. Say you arrest a kid for shoplifting. You have him on the store’s CCTV sliding a pair of expensive sunglasses up his sleeve. You detain the kid and say, “Tell me what happened.” If the kid fesses up, that tells you something. It shows some contrition and you take that into consideration when deciding what to do. If the kid lies, that also tells you something. You know he’s still hoping to get away with it, and you take that into consideration.

Flynn got caught. He was given a chance to tell the truth, and he lied. He pleaded guilty to lying. Then he tried to take it back. Then he re-affirmed his guilty plea. Then he tried to take it back again. That tells you something. He was still hoping to get away with it. And hey, he did.

He betrayed his country, and thanks to complicit political appointees in the Department of Justice, he got away with it. Never spent an hour in jail. Nor will he.

The only hope this nation has of returning to some semblance of the rule of law is if voters turn out in massive numbers–numbers large enough to overcome whatever barriers are put in place to hamper voting. Because if we know one thing for certain, it’s that Trump will cheat. He’ll lie, cheat, steal, connive, do anything he can get away with to win. Because he’s learned there’s nothing to stop him–not the Department of Justice, not Congress, and certainly not his conscience.

Ain’t nothing going to stop him. Unless it’s us.

Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Stay alive. Vote your ass off.

 

honoring their sacrifice

— Ordinary People: Just curious here, but how come y’all didn’t arrest those two guys who shot and killed Ahmaud Arbery a couple of months ago?
— State of Georgia: Well, we were busy.
— Ordinary People: Busy?
— State of Georgia: You know…dealing with that Cabronivirus hoax thang.
— Ordinary People: Coronavirus?
— State of Georgia: That’s it.
— Ordinary People: But y’all re-opened Georgia for business on April 21st.
— State of Georgia: Don’t it make you proud to be an American? Freedom, baby.
— Ordinary People: So why haven’t those two guys who shot and killed Ahmaud Arbery been arrested and charged with murder?
— State of Georgia: We will, we will. You just hafta be patient. We gotta wait until a grand jury can be held to consider the evidence.
— Ordinary People: When will that happen?
— State of Georgia: Oh, probably by mid-June.
— Ordinary People: Why can’t we do that now?
— State of Georgia: Courts are closed. That Wooham Cabronivirus thing.
— Ordinary People: Are you fucking kidding me?
— State of Georgia: Nope.
— Ordinary People: You opened barbershops and nail salons.
— State of Georgia: Yes, we did. Free enterprise is what makes America great.
— Ordinary People: You opened gyms, for fuck’s sake.
— State of Georgia: Got to get our exercise. A fit nation is a free nation.
— Ordinary People: But you can’t open the courts?
— State of Georgia: Well, we got to be careful and be sensible about this.
— Ordinary People: Those two guys hunted Ahmaud Arbery.
— State of Georgia: Well, now, that hasn’t been proved.
— Ordinary People: They admitted it. They admitted they saw him running in their neighborhood on a Sunday afternoon, they admitted they thought…they thought…he looked like somebody seen on security camera footage committing a break-in in their neighborhood, so they grabbed their guns, hopped in their truck and went hunting for them.
— State of Georgia: All Americans got the right to protect their property.

Another unfortunate Cabronivirus death.

— Ordinary People: He was just running.
— State of Georgia: He grabbed for their gun.
— Ordinary People: Because they were pointing it at him.
— State of Georgia: He thought his life was in danger.
— Ordinary People: Exactly!
— State of Georgia: No, I mean the white guy.
— Ordinary People: The white guy with the gun thought his life was in danger by the black guy jogging?
— State of Georgia: The law says you got the right to protect yourself.
— Ordinary People: Didn’t Ahmaud Arbery have the right to protect himself?
— State of Georgia: That’s why we got to have us a grand jury. To figure out what happened.
— Ordinary People: We know what happened.
— State of Georgia: It’ll all come out in the testimony.
— Ordinary People: Ahmaud Arbery is too dead to testify.
— State of Georgia: And that’s unfortunate, but the law’s the law. We’ll get to that grand jury just as soon as we can.
— Ordinary People: It won’t help Ahmaud Arbery.
— State of Georgia: And that’s a shame, sure is. That Cabronivirus, it’s killed a lot of good Georgians.
— Ordinary People: Jesus suffering fuck.
— State of Georgia: We need to honor their sacrifice by letting decent folks get back to work at the chicken processing plants.

it stinks

I’m trying to remember when I hit that point where I stopped trying to keep track of each and every awful thing that happened that day.

I mean, there was actually a time when I could read two or three news sources and feel like I had a solid grasp of all the awful things that happened on any given day. Later I found myself focusing on the primary awful things that happened, because it would take a spreadsheet to keep track of the picayune awful things. But over time, every day became a muddle of major corruption, lying, gross incompetence, vindictiveness, and venality, all of which existed in a melange of Trumpian hate-rage. And it was impossible to keep track even of all the massively awful things that happened in a given day.

This guy is awful in so many ways you need a quantum computer to keep track.

It’s hard to imagine a president who in the course of a single day would 1) shirk his duty during a pandemic that has cost more than 65,000 American lives, 2) lie about the availability of testing necessary to know the extent of that pandemic, 3) encourage states to re-open their economies even though NONE of those states have met the guidelines issued by the president’s own task force, 4) try to extort political favors from states in desperate need of federal financial aid as a result of that pandemic, 4) try to undermine the 2020 presidential election by claiming vote-by-mail is risky, 5) find ways to threaten the unemployment benefits of the nearly 20% of the US workforce that’s unemployed because of the pandemic, 6) use his presidential emergency powers to force workers in the meat industry to continue to work despite the alarming number of Covid-19 cases appearing in meat-packing plants, 7) block the nation’s most trusted information source from testifying in front of the Democratic-led House while allowing his testimony in the Republican-led Senate, 8) encourage armed insurrection against the legitimately elected Democratic governors of states he doesn’t like, 9) float the idea of pardoning his former National Security Advisor whom he’d fired because the man had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI (and the Vice President) about his dealings with Russian intelligence (not to mention his failure to register as a foreign agent of Turkey OR his involvement in a plot to kidnap a Turkish dissident cleric), 10) denigrated and undermined the leadership and line staff of the nation’s primary national law enforcement agency, 11) promoted a number of conspiracy theories, including one about the origins of the pandemic, and 12) tried to pressure US intelligence agencies to substantiate that conspiracy theory.

That’s just what I can recall of the major awful stuff Comrade Trump engaged in one a single day. There’s bound to be awful stuff I’ve missed.

Gov. Kim Reynolds and Comrade Trump ohmyfuckinggod I can’t even look killmenow.

All of this horror is compounded by state governors who are willing (or actually eager) to curry favor with Trump for their own political reasons. Like so many other Republican governors, the governor of Iowa, Kim Reynolds, refused to issue a state-wide shelter-in-place order. She’s not only supporting Trump’s executive order to require workers at meat-packing plants (a large proportion of whom are immigrants) to report for work regardless of Covid-19 outbreaks, she’s also informed low wage workers who are reluctant to return to work because of pandemic fears that if they refuse to return to work, they will be denied unemployment benefits.

The result of this monstrous cascade of really, truly, awful stuff from Trump and his supporters is a sort of numbness. It’s like living downwind from a paper mill or a hog containment farm — you sort of get inured to the stink. Some days stink more than others, but every day stinks horribly.

And it will continue to stink horribly until we get rid of the hog farm.