Tuesday Reads

 

Good Morning!!

Massachusetts, along with other states, is slowly reopening its economy. The numbers of deaths from and positive tests for Covid-19 have been dropping here in recent days, but it’s not at all clear that we are safe from a second wave of the virus. From The Boston Globe: With reopening comes the threat of a second wave of COVID-19, scientists warn.

It could start in a half-empty restaurant or a Sunday morning church service, with a stray cough or a joyful hymn. Public health experts warn that without a vaccine or a heavy dose of caution, Massachusetts could easily be hit by a second wave of COVID-19 infections that rivals the first.

Such a wave could come in the fall or sooner, as restrictions ease and people return to traveling and spending time in crowded, closed-in spaces. And, experts say, if the state’s tools for tracking the virus’s spread are not up to snuff by then, a second wave could go undetected until it’s too late.

The state began reopening some stores and offices on Monday, the latest step in the long journey back to something resembling pre-pandemic life. But the road to normalcy may prove to be a two-way street.

Built into Governor Charlie Baker’s reopening plan is something epidemiologists caution is not just possible but perhaps even likely: a return to the severe lockdowns of April and most of May.

The state opened a nine-lane COVID-19 drive-thru testing center in Lawrence last week.JOHN TLUMACKI/GLOBE STAFF

What experts say:

“The virus may be with us for a good part of the next year,” said Barry Bloom, a professor and former dean of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “The public has to be prepared that there will be continuous monitoring of the numbers.”

Bloom said that reopening may not be a straight path toward a new normal. Rather, restrictions may ease in fits and starts — or even backtrack, with all or parts of the state periodically relapsing into total lockdown.

“If [the number of cases] gets to the point where they threaten again to be a giant peak and even overwhelm the hospitals,” he said, “the state and the cities are going to have to have some re-installation or re-imposition of constraints.”

From the very start of the coronavirus outbreak, those inside and outside of the scientific community have feared a second wave. History shows that several pandemics have returned with a vengeance after months of seeming calm. The Spanish flu of 1918 lasted two years. Its second peak was its deadliest.

Now, as Massachusetts reopens before it has fully left the first wave of infection behind, epidemiologists say fears of a second are well-founded.

“The chances are pretty high that we’re going to see the number of cases come back up” as the economy reopens, said Samuel Scarpino, a Northeastern University professor who specializes in infectious disease.

The question, Scarpino said, is just how much those case counts will rise.

Read more at the Globe.

Meanwhile, lots of Americans are acting as if there is no pandemic.

The Washington Post: ‘An international example of bad judgment’: Local officials stunned by raucous Memorial Day festivities.

At a flashy club in Houston, dozens splashed around the pool and sipped on drinks on the patio. In rural North Carolina, thousands packed the stands shoulder to shoulder at Ace Speedway on its opening night, where face masks were the exception. And in Daytona Beach, Fla., even after an event called “Orlando Invades Daytona” was canceled, hundreds still danced in the street and on top of cars near the boardwalk.

Lake of the Ozarks on Memorial Day

“It looks like there are two people out the sunroof throwing money,” the seemingly perplexed pilot of a police helicopter said over his radio, flying over the wild scene near the beach to get a closer look. “They’re clearly throwing cash at the crowd.”

The raucous events across the country over the holiday weekend led some local officials to sound the alarm Monday, warning that consequences could be dire if such behavior continued unchecked.

Some, like Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (D), vowed to crack down on businesses failing to enforce capacity restrictions. Turner chastised the clubbers who may end up exposing responsible people “who chose to do the right thing” by staying home. In Missouri, viral images of pool parties at waterfront bars and yacht clubs in the Lake of the Ozarks even led St. Louis County officials to issue a travel advisory, calling the scenes an “international example of bad judgment.”

One Ozarks pool party at Backwater Jack’s featured live music under the theme “Zero Ducks Given,” while photos at another yacht club showed dozens of people crammed together beneath a sign that said, “Please practice social distancing.” On Monday, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, who is also a physician, urged employers to question workers about their recent travels, and recommended a 14-day quarantine for anyone who flouted social distancing.

“This reckless behavior endangers countless people and risks setting us back substantially from the progress we have made in slowing the spread of COVID-19,” Page said in a statement announcing the travel advisory.

Not surprisingly, these “bad examples” happened in red states.

More from the WaPo: Memorial Day weekend parties and crowds spark warnings from public health officials.

Beaches, parks, restaurants and churches were open for recreational use in many states over the holiday weekend – with restrictions for social distancing that were not always followed.

As coronavirus cases in the United States crossed 1.6 million, people mobbed boardwalks and oceanfronts in Maryland, Georgia and Florida. Crowds were sometimes dense from Newport Beach, Calif., to the Tampa, Fla., area, where law enforcement started turning away beachgoers and closed full parking lots.

Flocks of people sans face coverings packed the beach at Indiana Dunes National Park. And “more than 100 partygoers packed into a swimming pool area at a club in Midtown Houston Saturday and flouted social distancing orders to maintain space or wear masks a day after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) eased restrictions on bars and restaurants,” our colleagues report.

Videos of a packed pool party in Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri went viral online.

Read more and see photos at the link above.

Slightly different behavior at a Rhode Island beach.

Trump spent the long weekend playing golf and sending out vile tweets, and there has been some pushback in the media, as Dakinikat reported yesterday. Now the husband of a long-dead woman Trump tweeted about is fighting back and asking Twitter for some common decency.

Kara Swisher at The New York Times: Twitter Must Cleanse the Trump Stain.

“Please delete those tweets,” the widower begged in a letter last week to Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey. “My wife deserves better.”

Yes, Twitter, Lori Klausutis certainly does deserve better, nearly two decades after she died in a tragic accident that has morphed into a macabre and continuing nightmare for her husband, Timothy Klausutis.

The boogeyman plunging him and the family of his late wife into the very worst of memory holes is a conspiracy-theory-loving, twitchy-fingered and often shameless tweeter who also happens to be the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump.

“President Trump on Tuesday tweeted to his nearly 80 million followers alluding to the repeatedly debunked falsehood that my wife was murdered by her boss, former U.S. Rep. Joe Scarborough. The son of the president followed and more directly attacked my wife by tweeting to his followers as the means of spreading this vicious lie,” wrote Mr. Klausutis, in a letter sent to Mr. Dorsey on Thursday that I obtained over the weekend.

“I’m asking you to intervene in this instance because the president of the United States has taken something that does not belong to him — the memory of my dead wife — and perverted it for perceived political gain.” (You can read the letter in full here.)

Mr. Klausutis deserves an answer from Mr. Dorsey, who has the unenviable task of sorting out what is perhaps unsortable, which is to say, the ugly heart of Twitter’s most famous customer. While sources close to the company said executives had been trying to figure out what to do over the weekend, the company has at this writing been silent about this latest controversy involving Mr. Trump’s appalling and rule-breaking Twitter habit.

Trump tweeted about this conspiracy theory again this morning. You can go to his timeline to see the tweets if you’re interested.

It’s beginning to look like Trump is losing older voters because of his catastrophic failure to deal with the pandemic.

The Washington Post: Trump’s poor handling of the crisis may lose him the GOP’s most reliable voters.

One of the most durable political assets that Republicans have enjoyed throughout the 21st century is their edge among Americans 65 and older, who tend to turn out at the polls more reliably than any other group.

But with President Trump’s inept and erratic handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic, he is rapidly losing support among the age group most vulnerable to its ravages — which is a big warning sign to Republicans as they look to the fall. Trump has also been showing slippage in support among the next-oldest cohort, those 55 and older.

The shift has been showing up in a string of recent polls, reportedly including those that have been conducted by Trump’s own campaign. One of the most striking is a survey of 44 battleground House districts done by Democratic pollster Geoff Garin during the second week of May.

In those districts, voters over 65 said they had supported Trump in 2016 by a 22-point margin — 58 percent to 36 percent.

But this year, those same respondents are practically evenly divided, with 47 percent saying they are planning to vote for the president and 43 percent expressing an intention to cast their ballots for former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee. That is an enormous net swing of 18 percentage points.

“They’re in real trouble if they can’t count on a strong showing with seniors,” said Garin, who did the survey for a client he declined to name. “Trump is blowing what had become an important Republican advantage.”

Also from the WaPo: In crucial Florida, some senior voters cast a skeptical eye toward Trump’s reelection.

Allen Lehner

Allen Lehner was a Republican until Donald Trump became his party’s nominee in 2016. The 74-year-old retiree says he couldn’t bring himself to vote for someone who lied, belittled others, walked out on his bills and mistreated women — but he also couldn’t bring himself to vote for Hillary Clinton. So he didn’t vote.

Trump has done nothing since to entice Lehner back.

Lehner, who now considers himself an independent, says he is frightened by the president’s lack of leadership and maturity amid the nation’s health and economic crisis. Several people in his gated community in Delray Beach, Fla., have gotten sick; at least one has died. He worries about his own health — he has an autoimmune disease — and also about his adult children, including a daughter who has gone back to work and a son whose pay has been cut.

He plans to vote for Joe Biden in November.

“Regardless of what they say about his senior moments, I think he would be good and take good care of the country,” said Lehner, who owned furniture and fireplace-supply stores in central Pennsylvania before retiring to Florida.

How did you spend your Memorial Day? What stories are you following today?


Memorial Day Reads: Unfit for Duty

Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent, Washington - Find A Grave Cemetery

Washington State’s National Cemetery (This is where my parents are buried.  Dad served in WW2) This national cemetary is in Kent, King County, Washington, USA

Blessings to you on this Memorial Day!

We used to picnic at the gravesites of our greats while cleaning the area and planting flowers when I was a kid.  Most of them were in Kansas and some in Missouri and some of them had paid the ultimate sacrifice to make all peoples free and our country whole. One of my favorite ones was in a very small town in Kansas and had a rather stunted version of a marble Egyptian obelisk and looked a bit like someone had the idea of copying the Washington Monument.  It was stunted because some time between its erection and the time we showed up to rake the leaves and twigs from around it a tornado had torn it in half and a shorter version was the result. It was on a raised bit of land that was just right for small feet to circumambulate it many times.

I always like to meditate a bit on those who gave the ultimate sacrifice because it seems like a noble, and brave, and somewhat reckless thing to do. But, if you’ve ever visited Arlington or any of the national cemeteries you can see the many headstones of those who do make that ultimate sacrifice as well as others–like my Dad–that signed on and  survived–and are proud to be buried alongside their many comrades. One of the members of his flight crew is also buried in the same place as Dad and my mom.

This brings me to Cadet Bonespurs who is undoubtedly out golfing again in Virginia.  You know, the Russian Potted Plant in the White House that tweets insane, ugly, mad things from atop his loo who some figured would make a great president.  This headline is all too poignant today on the day we recognize those who made that ultimate sacrifice so we could keep our republic.

From WAPO and the Plum Line: “Can we stop pretending Trump is fit to be president?”  Yes please!!! Can we just stop this now?  Paul Waldman writes what I’ve been thinking for years now.

At various times over the past three and a half years, many of us have asked what would happen if President Trump truly went over the edge or if his behavior became so frightening that his unfitness for the most powerful position on Earth could no longer be denied.

But the human capacity for denial is apparently almost infinite. Let’s review what our president has been up to in the past few days:

  • With the death toll from covid-19 about to top 100,000, Trump has offered almost nothing in the way of tributes to the dead, sympathy for their families, or acknowledgement of our national mourning. By all accounts he is barely bothering to manage his administration’s response to the pandemic, preferring to focus on cheerleading for an economic recovery he says is on its way, even as he feeds conspiracy theories about the death toll being inflated. This weekend, he went golfing.
  • In a Twitter spasm on Saturday and Sunday, Trump retweeted mockery of former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams’s weight and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) looks, along with a tweet calling Hillary Clinton a “skank.”
  • Eager to start a new culture war flare-up, he urged churches to open and gather parishioners in a room to breathe the same air, threatening that he would “override” governors whose shutdown orders still forbade such gatherings. The president has no such power.
  • He all but accused talk show host Joe Scarborough of murdering a young woman who died in 2001 in the then-congressman’s district office, bringing untold torture to her family from the conspiracy theorists who will respond to his accusation.
  • He has repeatedly insisted that the upcoming election is being “rigged” because states run by both Republicans and Democrats are making it easier to vote by mail, seeking to delegitimize a vote that has yet to occur, despite the substantial evidence that mail voting advantages neither party.

The truth is that Trump is not much more despicable of a human being than he has always been; it’s just that standard Trumpian behavior becomes more horrifying when it occurs during an ongoing national crisis. It is reality that changed around him, and he was incapable of responding to it.

Just go read it all.  The death toll from this Pandemic has surpassed the number of dead from the Vietnam War.  Please, can we get some one competent in before it surpasses that of many more of our wars.

Also from WAPO and Anne Gearin: “On weekend dedicated to war dead, Trump tweets insults, promotes baseless claims and plays golf”.

As the death toll in the coronavirus pandemic neared 100,000 Americans this Memorial Day weekend, President Trump derided and insulted perceived enemies and promoted a baseless conspiracy theory, in between rounds of golf.

In a flurry of tweets and retweets Saturday and Sunday, Trump mocked former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams’s weight, ridiculed the looks of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and called former Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton a “skank.”

He revived long-debunked speculation that a television host with whom Trump has feuded may have killed a woman and asserted without evidence that mail-in voting routinely produces ballot stuffing. He made little mention of the sacrifice Americans honor on Memorial Day or the grim toll of the virus.

In fact, Trump’s barrage of social media attacks stood in sharp contrast to a sober reality on a weekend for mourning military dead — the number of Americans whose lives have been claimed by the novel coronavirus has eclipsed the combined total of U.S. deaths from wars in Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Guide to Visiting Arlington National Cemetery | washington.org

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.

Yes, there’s more today on this than maybe any day I can remember and BB and I discuss this frequently. Why the fuck do so many in the media still try to normalize this madman?

Annie Karni / New York Times:
Trump Promotes Posts From Racist and Sexist Twitter Feed

Peter Baker / New York Times:

Tom Nichols  of The Atlantic writes this: “Donald Trump, the Most Unmanly President ” which seems a bit of an odd thing to write about on a day like today.

Not every working-class male voted for Trump, and not all of them have these traits, of course. And I do not present these beliefs and attitudes as uniformly virtuous in themselves. Some of these traditional masculine virtues have a dark side: Toughness and dominance become bullying and abuse; self-reliance becomes isolation; silence becomes internalized rage. Rather, I am noting that courage, honesty, respect, an economy of words, a bit of modesty, and a willingness to take responsibility are all virtues prized by the self-identified class of hard-working men, the stand-up guys, among whom I was raised.

And yet, many of these same men expect none of those characteristics from Trump, who is a vain, cowardly, lying, vulgar, jabbering blowhard. Put another way, as a question I have asked many of the men I know: Is Trump a man your father and grandfather would have respected?

The surprising history of Arlington National Cemetery

Young visitors to Arlington

Frankly, Trump is a man from which I would hide both daughters and silverware .  This essay that explores the white male psyche is just odd all over but go read it and let me know what you think.  It has the classic trope of the white working class man that Joe Biden carries with him so choke back the scream and read it knowing that at least its criticism and maybe it will hit the audience who needs to see this in another man in order to stop voting for Trump.  But, again, I’m just tired of idea of the noble working class man.

One was a 94-year-old veteran of World War II who was the first of his 11 brothers to enlist in the military. One was a Vietnam veteran who lost his leg overseas and was always touched when people thanked him for his service. Another was drafted into the military at 18 and was awarded a Purple Heart.

They are among the untold number of veterans who served and survived during times of war only to die in recent weeks from the coronavirus.

This year’s Memorial Day will pay tribute not only to those who died on the battlefield but more recent fallen soldiers. And in a reminder of the way coronavirus has transformed American lives and traditions, many of the usual Memorial Day gatherings have been either canceled or curtailed — mindful of the pandemic that has already killed more than 90,000 people in the U.S.

It’s making the situation even more painful for the relatives of those veterans who have died from the virus.

Robert Hopp was one of at least 79 residents of a veterans home in Paramus, New Jersey, to die from COVID-19, making the state-run facility one of the nation’s worst hot spots for the virus.

He served two and a half tours during the Vietnam War and received a Purple Heart after he was hit with enemy fire while in a helicopter. Everyone else on board the chopper died, but Hopp managed to climb into the pilot’s seat and fly to safety.

After being hospitalized recently for diabetic complications, his health deteriorated quickly and he died in April. He was 70 years old.

His family is at a loss about how they will mark the occasion.

I am thankful for all of those who gave their lives in battle to make our a country a more perfect union.  I am saddened by the presence of a man in the white house so unfit for duty that he cannot take time away from twitter, politics, self aggrandizement, and golf to walk in one of the Virginia National Cemeteries and salute the sacrifice these folks made for our country. He doesn’t see how much he disgraces their memory and our lives every single day he breathes.

Strict rules in place for visitors to national cemeteries for ...

“Strict rules in place for visitors to national cemeteries for Memorial Day “in Hampton Virginia.

Families visiting Hampton National Cemetery and national cemeteries across the U.S. are asked to follow CDC, state, and local health and safety guidelines.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Sunday Reads: Say their names.

Click on the above picture of the New York Times Front page…to enlarge this image to see the names fully.

https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/1264312206914719745?s=21

And take note:

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This is the front page of the New York Times tomorrow.⁣ ⁣ It lists 1,000 Americans that have died from COVID-19.⁣ ⁣ This represents just 1% of the number (almost 100,000) who have died thus far in our country.⁣ ⁣ ⁣

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As it states above, that times page only list a 1,000 names…

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Actual footage of President* Virus Death Shrug chomping at the bit to reopen houses of worship this weekend. #dumptrump #trumpvirus #fucktrump #politicalcartoon #magaisformorons #thedailydon

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Day 1223: In which President* Body Count Enthusiast hopes to pack the pews with expendable evangelicals like it’s the federal judiciary. #dumptrump #trumpvirus #magaisformorons #politicalcartoon #thedailydon

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tRump was so bad last night on Twitter:

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Memorial Day is this weekend and I’m tired of being home too but that doesn’t mean I’m gonna be reckless. Stay Safe Y’all ☀️

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💫

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A positive message found in Brooklyn to brighten your Saturday feed ❤️

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#EidMubarak on Eid al-Fitr or "The Feast of Breaking the Fast," which marks the end of Ramadan. Calligrapher Mohamed Zakariya designed this 2001 stamp in our @nationalpostalmuseum collection. The calligraphy translates literally as “blessed festival” and can be paraphrased as “May your religious holiday be blessed." ©USPS; all rights reserved.

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Just a few thoughts this Sunday morning…


Lazy Caturday Reads

Good Morning!!

After several days of a media diet–reading and playing video games instead of following the news closely–I’m feeling a lot more grounded. The fake “president” is still insane and we are still living through a global pandemic that was made much worse by the actions and non-actions of Trump and his gang of evil thugs, but I feel more able to handle it today. It helps that it’s a long weekend and Trump might go play golf and leave us alone for some stretches of time.

Anyway, I hope all of you are doing well and staying safe in these crazy times. Please stay home as much as you can and take good care of yourselves and your loved ones.

Here’s the latest on the pandemic:

The Washington Post: Study estimates 24 states still have uncontrolled coronavirus spread.

The coronavirus may still be spreading at epidemic rates in 24 states, particularly in the South and Midwest, according to new research that highlights the risk of a second wave of infections in places that reopen too quickly or without sufficient precautions.

Researchers at Imperial College London created a model that incorporates cellphone data showing that people sharply reduced their movements after stay-at-home orders were broadly imposed in March. With restrictions now easing and mobility increasing with the approach of Memorial Day and the unofficial start of summer, the researchers developed an estimate of viral spread as of May 17.

It is a snapshot of a transitional moment in the pandemic and captures the patchwork nature across the country of covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. Some states have had little viral spread or “crushed the curve” to a great degree and have some wiggle room to reopen their economies without generating a new epidemic-level surge in cases. Others are nowhere near containing the virus.

The model, which has not been peer reviewed, shows that in the majority of states, a second wave looms if people abandon efforts to mitigate the viral spread.

“There’s evidence that the U.S. is not under control, as an entire country,” said Samir Bhatt, a senior lecturer in geostatistics at Imperial College.

The model shows potentially ominous scenarios if people move around as they did previously and do so without taking precautions. In California and Florida, the death rate could spike to roughly 1,000 a day by July without efforts to mitigate the spread, according to the report.

Nic Robertson at CNN: The pandemic could reshape the world order. Trump’s chaotic strategy is accelerating US losses.

London (CNN)Europe outright rejected US President Donald Trump’s vision of the world this week. Tensions between these historic democratic allies that have been simmering since Trump came to office three years ago have now come to a boil during the coronavirus pandemic.

Covid-19 has shocked the world by the speed of its spread, but it is also accelerating another global change in the balance of power — and not in America’s favor.
The extent of the divide became clear on Tuesday during a vote at the World Health Organization annual assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, backing Europe’s conciliatory approach to China relating to an investigation into the outbreak. Power had visibly ebbed away from the United States as its demand for a tougher approach was dismissed, a move that should sound alarm bells in Washington.

Vladimir Sichov, street portrait

Five months into 2020 and it already feels like a new era: now there is only BC and AC — before and after coronavirus. Suddenly the dynamics of almost every single geopolitical dispute are being exacerbated by the pandemic, sharpened by the complexity and urgency of the situation.

Chief among these is the perennial, three-way battle for dominance between the US, Europe and China. Despite Trump’s early hailing of Xi Jinping’s handling of the pandemic, he has since blamed the Chinese President for covering up the early stages of China’s outbreak. Beijing has consistently denied such accusations, and criticized the US approach to the pandemic.

Trump has tried to blame China and WHO for his own disastrous response to the pandemic, but Europe is sticking with China and WHO.

Despite deep concerns about China’s handling of the pandemic, European leaders backed the WHO resolution calling for “a stepwise process of impartial independent and comprehensive evaluation, including using existing mechanisms, as appropriate to review experience gained and lessons learned” from the global response to Covid-19.

The language is convoluted and hardly inspires confidence China will atone appropriately for its early failures, but it is a measure of the gulf opening up between Trump and his European allies that such a compromise could even be countenanced….

Europe’s decision to reject Trump’s confrontation with China and the WHO will affect both parties vying to win this year’s US election. Regardless of who wins that race, Trump and his handling of Covid-19 are weakening America’s global leverage.

At The Atlantic, Charles C. Mann on “What history can tell us about the long-term effects of the coronavirus”: Pandemics Leave Us Forever Altered. I hope you’ll read the whole thing; here’s just a brief excerpt:

Americans may have forgotten the 1918 pandemic, but it did not forget them. Garthwaite matched NHIS respondents’ health conditions to the dates when their mothers were probably exposed to the flu. Mothers who got sick in the first months of pregnancy, he discovered, had babies who, 60 or 70 years later, were unusually likely to have diabetes; mothers afflicted at the end of pregnancy tended to bear children prone to kidney disease. The middle months were associated with heart disease.

Other studies showed different consequences. Children born during the pandemic grew into shorter, poorer, less educated adults with higher rates of physical disability than one would expect. Chances are that none of Garthwaite’s flu babies ever knew about the shadow the pandemic cast over their lives. But they were living testaments to a brutal truth: Pandemics—even forgotten ones—have long-term, powerful aftereffects.

The distinguished historians can be forgiven for passing over this truth. Most modern people assume that our species controls its own destiny. We’re in charge! we think. After all, isn’t this the Anthropocene? Being modern people, historians have had trouble, as a profession, truly accepting that brainless packets of RNA and DNA can capsize the human enterprise in a few weeks or months.

The convulsive social changes of the 1920s—the frenzy of financial speculation, the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan, the explosion of Dionysian popular culture (jazz, flappers, speakeasies)—were easily attributed to the war, an initiative directed and conducted by humans, rather than to the blind actions of microorganisms. But the microorganisms likely killed more people than the war did. And their effects weren’t confined to European battlefields, but spread across the globe, emptying city streets and filling cemeteries on six continents.

Unlike the war, the flu was incomprehensible—the influenza virus wasn’t even identified until 1931. It inspired fear of immigrants and foreigners, and anger toward the politicians who played down the virus. Like the war, influenza (and tuberculosis, which subsequently hit many flu sufferers) killed more men than women, skewing sex ratios for years afterward. Can one be sure that the ensuing, abrupt changes in gender roles had nothing to do with the virus?

We will probably never disentangle the war and the flu. But one way to summarize the impact of the pandemic is to say that its magnitude was in the same neighborhood as that of the “war to end all wars.”

What societal and health changes will follow the coronavirus pandemic? Read Mann’s speculations at The Atlantic.

Some presidential election news:

The Guardian: Barack Obama poised to add his star appeal to Joe Biden’s campaign.

Former president Barack Obama has dipped his toes into the 2020 presidential campaign recently and is positioned to do more in the coming months as Joe Biden’s effort to defeat Donald Trump gathers steam.

Interviews with about a dozen Democratic strategists, party officials and people close to Obama want the popular former president utilizing his powerful online presence and focusing on rallying key Democrat constituencies that are critical to a Biden victory.

Obama is regarded as one of the most popular politicians in American politics and a huge asset within the Democratic party. He left the White House with a near-60% approval rating. His endorsement for any candidate is the political campaign equivalent of an oilman and hitting a gusher.

Obama would be most effective, interviewees said, in highlighting his former vice-president’s résumé, rallying key Democratic voting groups like African American women, and pushing voters to register.

The situation is unique. There hasn’t been a popular former two-term president eager to hit the trail for his former running mate for years. On top of that, the coronavirus pandemic limits in-person campaigning and rallies. Still, the strategists interviewed say Obama is valuable and should be used everywhere.

“You rarely have a former president that is more popular than the now-sort-of-nominee,” Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher said. “Barack Obama is the most popular political figure in America right now.”

Read the rest at The Guardian.

Trump may be losing some evangelicals. Politico: Behind Trump’s demand to reopen churches: Slipping poll numbers and alarm inside his campaign.

A sudden shift in support for Donald Trump among religious conservatives is triggering alarm bells inside his reelection campaign, where top aides have long banked on expanding the president’s evangelical base as a key part of their strategy for victory this November.

The anxiety over Trump’s standing with the Christian right surfaced after a pair of surveys by reputable outfits earlier this month found waning confidence in the administration’s coronavirus response among key religious groups, with a staggering decline in the president’s favorability among white evangelicals and white Catholics. Both are crucial constituencies that supported Trump by wide margins in 2016 and could sink his reelection prospects if their turnout shrinks this fall.

The polls paint a bleak picture for Trump, who has counted on broadening his religious support by at least a few percentage points to compensate for weakened appeal with women and suburban populations. One GOP official said the dip in the president’s evangelical support also appeared in internal party polling, but disputed the notion that it had caused panic. Another person close to the campaign described an April survey by the Public Religion Research Institute, which showed a double-digit decline in Trump’s favorability among white evangelicals (-11), white Catholics (-12) and white mainline protestants (-18) from the previous month, as “pretty concerning.”

To safeguard his relationship with religious conservatives, Trump on Friday demanded that America‘s governors permit houses of worship to immediately reopen, and threatened to “override“ state leaders who decline to obey his directive. The announcement — which came days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention omitted religious institutions in new guidance about industry reopenings — featured clear appeals to white evangelicals, many of whom have long supported Trump’s socially conservative agenda.

Read more at the link.

According to The Daily Beast, Trump wants an in-person convention despite the pandemic, and his advisers are afraid to tell him it might not happen: Trump Plows Ahead With His Convention Planning, Virus Be Damned.

President Donald Trump has been adamant that the 2020 Republican National Convention—or some version of it—go on. For months, he’s demanded that back-up options for less crowded gatherings be fully explored by his staff, if a full-blown convention isn’t ultimately possible or safe, according to three people familiar with his private insistence. But he has scoffed at the notion of a virtual convention in recent weeks, saying that it sounds like “something Joe Biden would do from his basement,” said a source who heard Trump mock the idea.

Trump’s desire to have some sort of coronation moment fits his love of pageantry and spectacle. But various staffers working on plotting the Republican gathering aren’t quite so optimistic that it’s doable, knowing that they are entirely at the mercy of the virus and that the convention may end up even sparser than some expect.

“I don’t want to be the one to tell the president,” the White House official said, envisioning a scenario in which a disappointed, possibly angry Trump is informed he would have to be livestreamed into his own convention.

More stories to check out, links only:

The New York Times: Trump’s Press Secretary Displays One of His Checks in a Little Too Much Detail.

The Washington Post: Trump administration discussed conducting first U.S. nuclear test in decades.

WJC CBS Baltimore: Baltimore Mayor Jack Young On President Trump’s Memorial Day Fort McHenry Visit: ‘I Think He’s Violating The Law’

New York Magazine: That Office AC System Is Great — at Recirculating Viruses.

NBC News: Jeff Sessions stands up to former boss Trump on Twitter.

Business Insider: Roughly half the Twitter accounts pushing to ‘reopen America’ are bots, researchers found.

Now it’s your turn. What stories are you following today?


Friday Reads: Know where you Stand

Good Day Sky Dancers!

There are times when knowing where you stand is difficult. I chose the pictures today from the Know Where You Stand campaign because they’re very cool but they are also very telling. “Seth Tara’s “Know Where You Stand” series of photos inspire us never to forget our history”.

“Know Where You Stand” is a series of photos created by the American, self-taught artist, Seth Tara for the History Channel. The idea behind these images is pretty clear: the beach where you’re now relaxing and having a good time with your friends may be a beach where our ancestors fought and died in the World War II. So, don’t take everything you have for granted and always remember that your grandparents or great-grandparents fought and died for your freedom!

The images are quite powerful. Tara mixes historical photos of a certain place with modern pictures of the same place. So you see a group of lovers in front of the Eiffel Tower and Adolf Hitler morphing in the same picture.

Those of you that have known me know that I have an affinity for history.  It was my major in college.  It was my favorite subject throughout school. My mother’s passion for travel was  planned based on getting here to there while taking in every historical site and national park possible.  She carefully plotted and planned our vacations for years to include houses, forts, ruins, ghost towns, native american sites, battlefields, and presidential libraries.  I’m probably leaving something out but I have about 20 scrap books with photos of it all or I did last time I stuck them in the closet above the refrigerator and yes my ceiling is that tall because that’s what they did back in the 1860s.

My first job was a museum docent in a restored Civil War General’s house in Iowa where my mom led the restoration and purchase drives. So, that was even history of all sorts.

Also, there were always the stories from the family about growing up in the depression, fighting in the various wars, being there with someone when something happened.  I was always surrounded by history but never felt I was ever going to live any of it because I was stuck in Omaha, Nebraska which nearly every sit com used as the home for their hayseed friends and relatives or the location of absolutely nothing.  I used to just dream I would live some real history.

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And, then I moved to New Orleans where I really was surrounded by tons of history from the past and can very much see this series of photos being successfully done here.   However, first came Hurricane Katrina and living through that piece of history was something else altogether. My Dad opened way up with his war stories when I started calling him from here and describing what I was living through.  It was, he said, the only thing  that helped him relate to it.   But, now, here we all sit in stewpot of a disintegrating democracy, an insane, wicked, corrupt and highly incompetent president, with a Global Pandemic stemming from a virus with no known cure or vaccine.  Mix on top of that the strong likelihood of a very long depression all made more likely and much worse but a mad king left unchecked and my kids may be the next greatest generation of American History.

From New York Magazine and  Eric Levitz today: “Why Our Economy May Be Headed for a Decade of Depression” has an interview with Dr Doom. Nourielle Roubini earned this title by being the real Cassandra in our Great Recession stemming from the crash of the Housing Market.  He’s even full of more gloom about the state of today.

At the time, the global economy had just recorded its fastest half-decade of growth in 30 years. And Nouriel Roubini was just some obscure academic. Thus, in the IMF’s cozy confines, his remarks roused less alarm over America’s housing bubble than concern for the professor’s psychological well-being.

Of course, the ensuing two years turned Roubini’s prophecy into history, and the little-known scholar of emerging markets into a Wall Street celebrity.

A decade later, “Dr. Doom” is a bear once again. While many investors bet on a “V-shaped recovery,” Roubini is staking his reputation on an L-shaped depression. The economist (and host of a biweekly economic news broadcastdoes expect things to get better before they get worse: He foresees a slow, lackluster (i.e., “U-shaped”) economic rebound in the pandemic’s immediate aftermath. But he insists that this recovery will quickly collapse beneath the weight of the global economy’s accumulated debts. Specifically, Roubini argues that the massive private debts accrued during both the 2008 crash and COVID-19 crisis will durably depress consumption and weaken the short-lived recovery. Meanwhile, the aging of populations across the West will further undermine growth while increasing the fiscal burdens of states already saddled with hazardous debt loads. Although deficit spending is necessary in the present crisis, and will appear benign at the onset of recovery, it is laying the kindling for an inflationary conflagration by mid-decade. As the deepening geopolitical rift between the United States and China triggers a wave of deglobalization, negative supply shocks akin those of the 1970s are going to raise the cost of real resources, even as hyperexploited workers suffer perpetual wage and benefit declines. Prices will rise, but growth will peter out, since ordinary people will be forced to pare back their consumption more and more. Stagflation will beget depression. And through it all, humanity will be beset by unnatural disasters, from extreme weather events wrought by man-made climate change to pandemics induced by our disruption of natural ecosystems.

Roubini allows that, after a decade of misery, we may get around to developing a “more inclusive, cooperative, and stable international order.” But, he hastens to add, “any happy ending assumes that we find a way to survive” the hard times to come.

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I have no issue with his analysis and I find that thought quite unnerving. As I spend my day trying to be securely in the now, my economist mind keeps trying to take me down  “what if” lane.  Today, I go there.

You cannot read history without finding out about Food Riots. This has been lurking around my mind too. I signed up for the LSU Ag college extension today for an online class to become a certified home gardener. I’ve been sending Michelle to all the friends I know that are into sustainable farming to gather up free seedlngs from their community tables.

There is a Victory Garden growing in the backyard of the Kat House.  I’ve already found myself giving out fruit to homeless that have once again taken over the closed down Navy Base on my street. I’ve always been quite connected to my Dad’s mom because of her stories and how much she taught me about cooking meals with absolutely nothing in the house or feeding yourself based on a few staples.  She lived the Great Depression in Oklahoma with three small children, her mother, and my grandad who was fortunate to have a job as a Fireman for the Santa Fe railroad.

She always fed the hobos coming by their house to get to the railroad tracks.  My dad said there were days when every one got mayonnaise sandwiches and that was about it.  He also would tell me stories of the Cherokee Chieftain that let him and his Dad come chop wood from his property so they’d have wood to keep the house warm.  Folks take care of folks.  The last few weeks have me feeling like where I stand is where I was born in Oklahoma surrounded by all my family that grew up in the Dust Bowl times fighting hard to keep their farms and homes.

From The Nation and Michael T Klare: “Covid-19’s Third Shock Wave: The Global Food Crisis.Many people are already going hungry in the United States; many more will face hunger or starvation in other parts of the world.”  What is the likelihood of Civil Unrest?  What is the likelihood that the President of the United State will cause and encourage it?

Covid-19’s assault on global food availability is coming from two directions: On the supply side, farmers and distributors are cutting back on production as major customers—schools, restaurants, hotels, airlines—cease operations and as food industry employees become sick; on the consuming side, poor and unemployed households are running out of money and are unable to buy food, even when it is still available in local markets.

As is true of other key commodities, such as oil and iron ore, the availability of food products is highly reliant on global supply chains, with most countries depending on imports for at least some vital foodstuffs. This is true even in large countries with extensive agricultural industries of their own, such as Canada and the United States. These supply chains are vast and well-organized, but nevertheless vulnerable to disruption from storms, wars, droughts, and other systemic shocks—pandemics included.

“The continued globalisation of modern food networks is introducing an unprecedented level of complexity to the global food system,” insurance giant Lloyd’s of London observed in a 2015 report on global food insecurity. “Disruptions at any one point in the system would be likely to reverberate throughout the food supply chain. Volatile food prices and increasing political instability are likely to magnify the impacts of food production shocks, causing a cascade of economic, social and political impacts across the globe.”

Lloyd’s drew this conclusion from a “food system shock” exercise its analysts conducted, akin to a Pentagon war game, and from its analysis of the Arab Spring protests of 2011, which were triggered, in part, by rising food prices across North Africa and the Middle East—a phenomenon widely attributed to severe droughts over previous months in Russia, China, and Australia that sharply reduced global grain supplies. As one producing country after another banned wheat and rice exports, worldwide grain prices soared—causing misery for poor families in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and other countries that depend on bread for a large part of their diet.

Although current conditions have not yet reached this degree of distress, it appears as if such a breakdown is beginning. “The self-defeating drive by countries to impose export controls on medical gear in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic has spread like an infection to foodstuffs,” noted Cullen Hendrix of the Peterson Institute for International Economics on April 6. So far, Russia, Kazakhstan, Thailand, and Cambodia have banned the export of processed grains, and Vietnam has put a moratorium on new export contracts for rice. Such steps, Hendrix warned, “augur poorly for global hunger and political stability.”

The curbs on international trade and travel imposed by governments around the world in response to the pandemic have also played havoc with global supply lines. Many ships and planes remain idle because of such restrictions (or because key employees are sick or afraid to show up for work), slowing the delivery of vital supplies and adding to a surge in food prices. In East Africa, international efforts to combat a historic plague of crop-devouring locusts are being hampered by a slowdown in the delivery of pesticides.

In the United States, food delivery has been deemed an essential activity, and state and federal authorities are doing what they can to keep supply lines intact. Nevertheless, significant disruptions are already beginning to occur. Food processing and packaging—a key step between farm production and delivery to local markets—often involves close interaction among numerous (and typically low-paid) workers, and so is at high risk for the spread of the coronavirus. Large meat processing plants employing hundreds of workers are at particular risk: As of April 25, coronavirus outbreaks at 30 such plants had sickened over 3,300 workers and killed at least 17.

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Tonight, I will do what my Nana used to do and say back in her day.  “Time to set yeast and go to bed”.  I’ve got my supply of yeast and flour now and I plan to relearn the skill of bread making.

And here’s another reason to plan a little bit more than usual:

The Lanclet basically put out a study “Hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine with or without a macrolide for treatment of COVID-19: a multinational registry analysis”.  Its findings were pretty much what I had expected know that its side effects were pretty awesomely horrid from an old SVU episode.  No Seriously. That’s where I first learned about how its use on our soldiers was problematic and could be deadly to a rather disturbing number of folks.

So, the study found this:

COVID-19: Hydroxychloroquine linked to an increased rate of mortality, new study finds:
A new study of nearly 15,000 COVID-19 patients published on Friday in the medical journal The Lancet found those being treated with the antimalarial drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are at a higher risk of death and irregular heart rhythms than those not receiving it.

And of course, the mad king is doing this: “Trump lashes out at scientists whose findings contradict him”  which is a headline like way too many I keep reading that makes my stomach churn .

“A Trump enemy statement,” he said of one study.

“A political hit job,” he said of another.

As President Donald Trump pushes to reopen the country despite warnings from doctors about the consequences of moving too quickly during the coronavirus crisis, he has been lashing out at scientists whose conclusions he doesn’t like.

Twice this week, Trump has not only dismissed the findings of studies but suggested — without evidence — that their authors were motivated by politics and out to undermine his efforts to roll back coronavirus restrictions.

First it was a study funded in part by his own government’s National Institutes of Health that raised alarms about the use of hydroxychloroquine, finding higher overall mortality in coronavirus patients who took the drug while in Veterans Administration hospitals. Trump and many of his allies had been touting the drug as a miracle cure, and Trump this week revealed that he has been taking it to try to ward off the virus — despite an FDA warning last month that it should only be used in hospital settings or clinical trials because of the risk of serious side effects, including life-threatening heart problems.

The Lancet, one of the world’s oldest and most well respected medical journals, published a new study Friday that echoed those findings.

“If you look at the one survey, the only bad survey, they were giving it to people that were in very bad shape. They were very old, almost dead,” Trump told reporters Tuesday. “It was a Trump enemy statement.”

He offered similar pushback Thursday to a new study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. It found that more than 61% of COVID-19 infections and 55% of reported deaths — nearly 36,000 people — could have been been prevented had social distancing measures been put in place one week sooner. Trump has repeatedly defended his administration’s handling of the virus in the face of persistent criticism that he acted too slowly.

“Columbia’s an institution that’s very liberal,” Trump told reporters Thursday. “I think it’s just a political hit job, you want to know the truth.”

Trump has long been skeptical of mainstream science — dismissing human-made climate change as a “hoax,” suggesting that noise from wind turbines causes cancer and claiming that exercise can deplete a body’s finite amount of energy. It’s part of a larger skepticism of expertise and backlash against “elites” that has become increasingly popular among Trump’s conservative base.

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But,  back here on Main Street or Bourbon Street or my own Poland Avenue it is different. We’re noticing things and beginning to adjust accordingly.  Johnny White’s–which coincidentally was the first place in New Orleans I have had a drink and a bit to eat over 25 years ago–is doing something it’s never done. It’s closing and it’s closing down for good.

For years, two French Quarter bars bearing Johnny White’s name didn’t close, ever. They stayed open 24/7, hurricanes be damned.

But closing time has finally arrived for Johnny White’s on Bourbon Street.

Johnny White’s Corner Pub, Johnny White’s Hole in the Wall and Johnny White’s Pub & Grill, all housed at 718-720 Bourbon, have shut down permanently.

The White family is scheduled to close on the sale of the three-story building at the southwest corner of Bourbon and Orleans soon.

The deal has been in the works since late last year, before the coronavirus pandemic shuttered New Orleans nightspots.

We’ve got a growing list of “Ain’t Dere No More” including some from a long time ago. So, change is inevitable but some times it goes faster than usual or does it just seem that way?

However, one good daily bike ride around the quarter will show you a rising number of stores closing permanently.  Just as true with the ever growing list of big stores going bankrupt.  Covid just sort’ve put this trend on the fast track.  So while Amazon and other big time on line retailers are having record years,  say good bye to the ol familiar department stores of yore.

Retailers that were already struggling before the coronavirus pandemic started are beginning to crumble.

Fashion chain J. Crew Group and luxury department store retailer Neiman Marcus Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the first week of May as they faced mounting losses with their stores temporarily closed.

While both companies are planning to remain in business, bankruptcy poses the possibility of permanent store closings or outright liquidation as COVID-19 throttles sales.

J.C. Penney, which was facing declining sales and several years of losses heading into this crisis, is also considering filing for bankruptcy and hoping to avoid liquidation.

Of the 125 restaurant or retail companies tracked by S&P Global Ratings, about 30% now have a credit rating that indicates they have at least a 1-in-2 chance of defaulting on their debts, which is often a precursor of bankruptcy or liquidation.

And yes, both Face Book and Amazon are delivering big gains.  The stock market is on some kind of drug again like it was right before the last big adjustment to reality.

And, adjusting to the new reality is just about what it’s going to be about these days.

Here’s a good piece from a friend of mine.

Maybe what I’m detecting is a bit of every thing old is new again.

So, while I cannot sleep well or relax much at all and concentrating is difficult and did I mention I really can’t do TV these days?  So, I’m just trying to do what I can to adjust and I hope you’re able to do that too.

Be kind and gentle with yourself and others.  Be safe!  Stay your ass at home!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads

Woman reading a newspaper by Partosh Sen

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I’m still not handling the news very well. I’ve pretty much tried to tune it all out since my last post on Tuesday. It was probably a mistake to start reading The Stand, by Stephen King; but now I’m hooked, and I was already freaked out by the pandemic in real life anyway. So this post is going to be a quick one so I can go back to trying to maintain my sanity in this time of Trump and Covid-19.

Massachusetts is starting to open up, and people will be allowed to go to beaches beginning on Memorial day. I don’t think that’s a very good idea, but I have nothing to say about it. We are still seeing more than 100 deaths a day here. I’m planning to keep on staying home except for grocery shopping. I’m considering getting my hair cut in June. The hair salons are opening on the May 26th, with lots of restrictions. I got an email from my hairdresser explaining all the rules:

APPOINTMENTS
We appreciate your patience as some service providers may have limited availability. Due to the scheduled shifting of the Service Providers, your scheduled appointment may not stand as it was previously scheduled, however, you will be notified. We have limited phone staff that will be working to accommodate the many changes that have occurred.

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms; Fever (>100.4) or Feverish, Cough, Sore Throat, Shortness of Breath, Unusual Fatigue, Chills, Body Aches, we ask that you stay home and call us at 617-489-7733 to reschedule. Let’s all stay healthy.

UPON ARRIVAL
We ask that you arrive for your appointment at the time of your appointment and no earlier. Please wait in your car outside the salon for your appointment. We will text/call you when to enter. Please limit personal belongings to payment methods and cell phones. Please do not bring any guests with you and please do not bring children to your appointment at this time.

CONTACTLESS CHECKOUT
Before you arrive for your appointment, we ask that you call and provide a credit card for us to securely store on file – the same way you might store it with Amazon or Netflix. After your appointment, we can simply charge your card through our system – no buttons to press, no screens to touch, no unnecessary physical contact required. Just safe & healthy service.

So it’s going to be pretty complicated. But I’m getting desperate.

Here are the news stories that caught my attention today.

This one isn’t really news to anyone, but it’s a reminder of Trump’s limited cognitive abilities and his deteriorating mental condition. The article is a response to Trump’s claims that intelligence briefers didn’t warn him adequately about the coming pandemic.

Man Reading Newspaper c.1918 – Hugo Scheibe

The New York Times: For Spy Agencies, Briefing Trump Is a Test of Holding His Attention.

Mr. Trump, who has mounted a yearslong attack on the intelligence agencies, is particularly difficult to brief on critical national security matters, according to interviews with 10 current and former intelligence officials familiar with his intelligence briefings.

The president veers off on tangents and getting him back on topic is difficult, they said. He has a short attention span and rarely, if ever, reads intelligence reports, relying instead on conservative media and his friends for information. He is unashamed to interrupt intelligence officers and riff based on tips or gossip he hears from the former casino magnate Steve Wynn, the retired golfer Gary Player or Christopher Ruddy, the conservative media executive.

Mr. Trump rarely absorbs information that he disagrees with or that runs counter to his worldview, the officials said. Briefing him has been so great a challenge compared with his predecessors that the intelligence agencies have hired outside consultants to study how better to present information to him.

Working to keep Mr. Trump’s interest exhausted and burned out his first briefer, Ted Gistaro, two former officials said. Mr. Gistaro did not always know what to expect and would sometimes have to brief an erratic and angry president upset over news reports, the officials said.

The simple truth is that Trump is a childish, narcissistic jerk with no interest in serving the American people. He’s never been particularly bright, and now he’s sinking into dementia. But the media continues to try to normalize him. It’s frightening how hard they work at it.

Woman reading a newspaper, Todros Geller, 1944

Mother Jones on the person who is supposedly leading the administration’s response to the pandemic: Jared Kushner Had One Job: Solve America’s Supply Crisis. He Helped Private Companies Instead.

On March 29, President Trump held a press briefing to tout “Project Airbridge,” the administration’s new effort to organize and pay for airlifts of personal protective equipment and other medical supplies from abroad. The first of Project Airbridge’s “big, great planes” coming from Asia had landed in New York that day, Trump said, bringing in “2 million masks and gowns, over 10 million gloves, and over 70,000 thermometers,” which would be distributed to virus hot spots across the country. The heads of some of the country’s biggest medical supply distributors joined him at the podium to pay tribute to the administration and talk about the project. “They’re big people,” Trump declared of the executives working together with the administration to deliver “record amounts of lifesaving equipment.”

The origins of Project Airbridge lie with MIT experts, who originally proposed a government led and funded airlift of supplies, according to the Washington Post. But it was seized upon by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who ran a volunteer shadow coronavirus task force that included his former roommate and people from private-equity companies and consulting firms like McKinsey. (“Young geniuses” Trump called them.) Unhappy employees at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) dubbed them “the children.”

Yet less than two months later, after many glowing PR hits, the administration decided to put an end to Project Airbridge as members of Congress and the media started demanding answers about how the supplies were being distributed, who received them, and whether the White House was making distribution decisions based on politics rather than public health. On April 21, 10 Democratic senators, led by Elizabeth Warren, asked the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services to investigate the project. “The novelty and complexity of this arrangement demands heightened scrutiny and transparency,” they wrote in a letter. “However, the administration’s implementation of Project Airbridge has been completely opaque.”

The short-lived Project Airbridge is an example of how the Trump administration has taken advantage of the pandemic to boost some of the country’s biggest companies while doing little more than offer hard-hit states photo ops and the chance to compete against each other to pay exorbitant prices for PPE. And while the project did little to ameliorate national shortages of PPE, it may have a lasting impact on everything from health care costs to the consolidation of corporate power.

Read the rest at Mother Jones.

Jeffrey DeVore, Woman reading newspaper

Gabriel Sherman on Trump’s “Obamagate” obsession: “With Obama He’s Going for the Jugular”: As Trump Goes After Obama, Some in Trumpworld See a “Big Risk.”

On May 7, Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, tweeted a GIF of the Death Star firing its planet-destroying laser to announce the start of the campaign’s war on Joe Biden. Parscale’s choice of pop-culture ephemera was widely mocked. But the meme’s biggest weakness was that it bore no resemblance to the campaign’s messaging, which so far has been all over the place. During a week when America’s COVID-19 death toll approached 90,000, Trump allies floated smears that Biden was a tool of China, an invalid eating from a spoon, and even a pedophile, none of which caused damage. Sources close to Trump said the president has vented to friends about the lack of focused firepower coming out of the campaign. “There is deep frustration that there is no overarching message,” an unofficial campaign adviser told me. (The White House and Trump campaign did not respond to requests for comment.)

According to sources, Trump believes the answer to the message weakness is to declare all-out war on Biden’s former boss: Barack Obama. “Trump knows Biden is only popular because he was Obama’s V.P.,” a prominent Republican told me. Which is why, a few days after Parscale’s Death Star tweet, Trump accused Obama of unnamed crimes under the umbrella of “Obamagate.” “Obama is going to be on the campaign trail in a big way. He’s the most popular Democrat of the past four decades. Trump knows you have to neutralize him, and he’s frustrated Brad didn’t think of that,” the campaign adviser said. “Trump feels he’s doing it all alone.”

But Trump’s targeting of Obama has been causing consternation among Republicans, who fear he is pursuing a base-incitement strategy when he needs to appeal to crucial suburban voters in must-win battleground states. “Going after Obama is a big risk,” a former West Wing official said. “Obama is seen as trustworthy and reasonable. If you attack him and people don’t buy it, then you have a huge swing and a miss in front of the entire country.” Another prominent Republican agreed: “Trump cannot draw Obama into this. Obama can’t be ‘softened’ up. American people know him and like him.”

Read the rest at Vanity Fair.

Painting by Armand Schönberger (Hungarian, 1885–1974)

It looks like Trump country is soon going be in deep trouble from the pandemic. The Daily Beast: White House’s Own Data Crunchers: Southern Counties About to Get Hit Hard.

A new analysis being reviewed by the White House shows southern states that moved too quickly to relax social distancing guidelines face significant risk for a resurgence of the coronavirus over the next several weeks. In several cases, counties will see hundreds of additional cases by June 17.

The study, which was put together by PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, is part of a data set being reviewed by top coronavirus task force officials and people working with the team, The Daily Beast reported earlier this month. A previous model by the PolicyLab predicted that if officials moved too quickly and too aggressively to reopen in mid-May, individual counties could witness hundreds, if not a thousand-plus, more coronavirus cases reported each day by August 1.

The new model shows that in southern counties, particularly in Texas, Florida, Alabama, and Virginia, the risk for resurgence is high over the next four weeks. These states have moved to reopen, at least partially, since the team published its last model in April.

The data set now takes into consideration current levels of social distancing rather than projections about what would happen when local communities reopened. It also includes data for more than 200 additional counties across the country. The findings indicate that the risk for large second waves of outbreaks remains low if communities continue to implement cautious, incremental plans to reopening that limit crowding and travel to non-essential businesses. Doctors working on the study said that without vigilance in masking, hygiene, and disinfection, certain southern counties will remain high risk.

The new data, which has been presented to members of the White House’s coronavirus task force, is likely to validate fears by doctors and scientists, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease official in the administration, that opening states too soon could have disastrous health consequences.

That’s all I have the strength for today. I’m going to spend the rest of the day trying to pull myself out of my current funk. It’s hard not to feel despairing when the world is upside down and we have zero leadership on the national level.

Take care of yourselves Sky Dancers!


Wednesday Reads: Grace and Helens

My Mama always loved these flaming azaleas…to see them in bloom makes me miss her.

Today, let’s look at a few memories and birthdays from this week.

First, this powerhouse of a woman… who turned 72 yesterday. (The same age that my Ma would have been this year.)

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY #GRACEJONES! You are everything and then some and then some 🍰 .

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We all have a little bit of her living inside us. And when you let yourself unleash her it feels SO damn good. Thank you Ms Grace Jones !! #unapologetically #unapologeticartistry #findingyourvoice #gracejones #performancepower #owningthestage #ownthestage #divinefeminine

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If “who’s in charge of the girls?” was a person. Happy birthday to the incomporable style icon @gracejonesofficial #gracejones • • • • • • #gracejonesrealness #gracejonesinspired #80s #80sfashion #pulluptothebumper

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Mood 2020 | Happy Birthday 2 #MUSIC #FASHION #ICON Grace Jones 5.19 🌀 #GraceJones 🌀 Pull Up To My Bumper [1980] . 🌀 Powered by iDJ Chaz | Island Records (promo only/ncii) #80s #80sMusic #1980 #Studio54 #clubmusic early #housemusic #housemusicallnightlong #hbd #Newark #ClubZanzibar #NYC #ParadiseGarage #LarryLevan #rnb #oldschool #clubbing #clubmusic #boomerangmovie #Boomerang #dj #djs #bass @gracejonesofficial @halleberry

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"I believe in individuality, that everybody is special, and it's up to them to find that quality and let it live." -Grace Jones . . To the queen diva of my lifetime, thank you for always being true to yourself & for kicking down the doors & paving the way for others on their own journeys towards self expression & self acceptance. To one of the many living gems of this earth, an ICON, & true visionary, happy 72nd birthday Beverly Grace Jones! 📸: Unknown . #lessonsinselflove #loveyoselfmovement #thernrnurse #gracejones #womenwhorock #icon #80s #musicforwellness #queendiva #liveoutloud

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What an icon!

Another birthday? Of course…

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Happy 95th Birthday to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz! – #MuhammadAli #MalcolmX #HappyBirthday #Brothers #Friends #Legends

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“I pray that God will bless you in everything that you do. I pray that you will grow intellectually, so that you can understand the problems of the world and where you fit into, in that world picture. And I pray that all of the fear that has ever been in your heart will be taken out.” — Malcolm X #HappyBirthday #MalcolmX #philaprint

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A couple of days ago, it was the 40th anniversary of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens. So here are several items about that.

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40 years ago, Mt. St. Helens erupted in Seattle's backyard. Photographer Dick Lasher spent the night before packing gear, figuring he'd head out first thing in the morning to get a look at the mountain before it blew. His plan involved hitching his Yamaha IT enduro bike to the back of his Pinto, driving up to Spirit Lake, then exploring the area via dirt forest roads on the bike. He'd leave before dawn and arrive at the lake right at daybreak.⁠ ⁠ Tired from packing, Lasher slept in an hour or two past his planned departure time. Sleeping in that morning saved his life. Had Lasher made it past the next ridge in the foreground, the blast would have killed him.⁠ ⁠ At 8:32 the mountain blew.⁠ ⁠ He pulled over and attempted to turn around seeing as the ash cloud was heading his way fast. In his hurry, he bent the forks on his motorcycle. He jumped out of the car and ran up the hillside to get a pic, thinking he might just die for it. The first picture he took was this one, with the Pinto cocked in the road, toting the bent motorcycle with a MASSIVE plume cloud shooting into the sky.⁠ ⁠ He made his way back down the mountain. He was completely blinded, after being quickly overtaken by the ash cloud. Lasher had to drive on the opposite side of the road steering by hugging the shoulder on the uphill side of the road, heading into oncoming traffic. He encountered nobody going up. The car choked out after a while and he rode his bent motorcycle out of the mountains back to the room he had rented.⁠ ⁠ The next day, he rode his motorcycle back up into the now hot zone with his camera to get what pics he could. He was well into the red no go zone when a helicopter saw him and landed in his path. Dick was arrested on the spot and flown out in the chopper to jail. They left his motorcycle on the mountain. They kept him in jail for a few days. When he finally got out, he again went back up and was able to get his motorcycle and car back. Later heat maps would show that temperatures where Lasher took this original pic rose to 680 degrees Fahrenheit. Good on ya, Dick.⁠

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Same picture but better image…

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Mount St Helens erupting on May 18, 1980 – 40 years ago today🏔 — This photo, the story of which was a mystery until just last year, ‘shows the beauty and the horror’ of that moment 📸 Photo by Richard Lasher, who would have almost certainly died had he not overslept on his way to ride his motorcycle around Spirit Lake. Pretty incredible… . . . #MtStHelens #Washington #volcanoeruption @willametteweek #pnw #pacificnorthwest #explore @wastatepks #cascades #CascadeVolcano

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Geez…right?

On this next one, look at both pictures:

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40 years ago today. Mt. St. Helens eruption as seen from Mt. Adam's. Incredible.

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40 years ago today, Mount Saint Helens erupted with the force of 26 megatons of TNT, killing 57 people and causing several billion dollars worth of damage to southern Washington. May 8th, 1980. #history #volcano #eruption #mtsthelens #washington #eighties #disaster #volcaniceruption

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Posted @withregram • @noaasatellites On this day 40 years ago, Mount St. Helens erupted in a massive blast that was famously visible from space. Here's the original imagery from NOAA's GOES-3 satellite. * * Learn more about this event and how satellites continue to track eruptions around the world by following the link in our bio. * * #GOES3 #Satellite #Satellites #SatelliteImagery #MountSaintHelens #MountStHelens #MtStHelens #Volcano #Eruption #VolcanoEruption #AshCloud #Space #Washington #WashingtonState #NOAA #OnThisDay #OTD #ThisDayInHistory #TodayInHistory

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Mount St. Helens – Before and After 🌲🌋🌲 • 40 years ago today, the elevation of the summit changed from 9,677ft to 8,363ft. The eruption left a mile wide horseshoe shaped crater. • I can’t wait to go back and visit again with the hubs. Rest quiet beauty💗 • #mtsthelens #pacificnorthwest #washingtonstate #nationalmonument #volcano #pacificringoffire #cascademountains

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40 years ago today #mountsainthelens erupted. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit and have two photos handed down to me. The first photo was commissioned by my Great Uncle Jack McKamey when he was the Project Engineer for Yale Dam taken circa 1950. The second was taken in 1980 during the eruption by the friend of a coworker. The third was taken by me from the summit of Mt. Rainier in 2005. The fourth was taken by me in 2012. The last was taken by a fellow hiker on the summit in 2012. | #oldphotos #mtsainthelens #hiking #mtsthelens

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New York City is just a little bébé in comparison to Mt. St. Helens! For scale perspective & more info, check out this infographic I made to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the historic May 18, 1980 eruption. 🌋 #volcano #mtsthelens

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40 years ago today. This was my world when Mt St Helens blew her top! #mtsthelens #yakima #volcanicash

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Image of Mt. St. Helens present day:

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Here’s another favorite from Mt. St. Helens. Excited to get back there soon. #mtsthelens ##sthelens #volcano

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Now some odd tweets and stuff…

This sign is disgusting:

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The Long American Night ….

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Be sure to read the rest of that thread…That is all I wanted to post about that.

Y’all may have seen this one:

No, it’s not the onion…

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Visit link in bio for full story.

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Visit link in bio for full story.

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And ending it all with a message from the one and only, Samuel L Jackson:

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🗣A reminder 🗣 RG @samuelljackson

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Stay the fuck home…and be the fuck safe.