Friday Post Zeta Reads: We’re all hanging on and the bumpy rides keep comin’

This is an old fish/seafood market turned woodshop across the street from me. It’s lost its old tin roof.

Good Day Sky Dancers!

It’s been a few overwhelming days for me and I’m quite exhausted.  New Orleans was very fortunate that Hurricane Zeta was a fast mover because she was like 1 mph off a Category 3 hurricane when she hit and hit she did.  We’re going to be digging out of shredded leaves, downed trees, and infrastructure messes for awhile.  Fortunately, only six families lost their homes and one person died.  It could’ve been way worse.

I was really fortunate that the city and the power company had done several things to stop tree damage on my avenue and in my neighborhood just a few weeks ago. The Tree Trimmers got the old oaks trimmed of dead branches and the power company reinforced the lines with brackets and and pole supports.  A large number of homes through out the metro area or still out of power.  Mine came back on Thursday morning.

However, both my phone and my cable tv and internet at the house are acting hinky.  I was about to check the weather channel one last time last night when I found that the only channel I had on the entire cable set up was MSNBC which was the last thing I was watching. Fortunately, the entire compliment of channels returned this morning.  The Wifi has been slow off and on.  I couldn’t get mobile data on my phone Wednesday night so I was completely cutoff from everything except texts and phone calls.  My understanding is that the Sprint Tower had damage and that network completely went down so something similar must’ve happened with the Verizon Tower.  My cable company still is showing a lot of outages and problems in the neighborhood so I’m just lucky I’ve got what I’ve got.

It looks like a leaf shredding bomb went off every where. Fortunately, our neighborhood kids decided to clean the avenue up for us old folks. They got some fresh bananas from my tree and some cash for their good work!

I spent Wednesday night reading the rest of a book on Kindle–which was amply charged for the event–by hurricane lamp light.  We were totally in the center of the eyewall when it came through which was the most ethereal experience I think I’ve ever had.  The city was texting us to stay inside but I wanted to get Temple out for a quick in and out walk.  It was quiet and the clouds to the west, east, and north of me were swirly dark grey clouds with an eerie purple tinge. To the south, over the river, the sky was a brilliant orangish gold.  I failed to bring my phone camera out with me but some others have captured the moment so I’m sharing some pictures I took but those were taken by others.

Today, I learned that a lot of polling places may not be up in time since about 70% of our schools are without power or damaged some how. I think my fire station is likely okay but I’m going to go check them out on Temple’s next Trot around the neighborhood.

And the final days of the 2020 presidential campaign look ugly.

I can’t really say I’ve been reading much or watching much TV on any of this because I’m rather traumatized enough from everything going on .  But, everything I’ve seen

My kitchen stairs or one of the sites of the leaf shredding hurricane debris

makes me glad I’ve been incognito for a few days. The desperation around the Trump campaign is just frighteningly damaging to every one including his cult.  I still can’t believe they abandoned a bunch of Omahans on an Airfield in freezing weather or let a group of Floridians pass out from heat exhaustion.  Both were finally rescued by actions of the local fire departments which the Kremlin Potted Plant in the White House wasn’t going to praise until he found out if it was a friend or a foe.  WTF?

The COVID 19 pandemic–despite Trumpist attempts to ignore and downplay it–is getting worse.  NPR reports that they’ve been hiding statistics also.  No surprise that!  “Internal Documents Reveal COVID-19 Hospitalization Data The Government Keeps Hidden”

As coronavirus cases rise swiftly around the country, surpassing both the spring and summer surges, health officials brace for a coming wave of hospitalizations and deaths. Knowing which hospitals in which communities are reaching capacity could be key to an effective response to the growing crisis. That information is gathered by the federal government — but not shared openly with the public.

NPR has obtained documents that give a snapshot of data the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services collects and analyzes daily. The documents — reports sent to agency staffers — highlight trends in hospitalizations and pinpoint cities nearing full hospital capacity and facilities under stress. They paint a granular picture of the strain on hospitals across the country that could help local citizens decide when to take extra precautions against COVID-19.

Withholding this information from the public and the research community is a missed opportunity to help prevent outbreaks and even save lives, say public health and data experts who reviewed the documents for NPR.

“At this point, I think it’s reckless. It’s endangering people,” says Ryan Panchadsaram, co-founder of the website COVID Exit Strategy and a former data official in the Obama administration. “We’re now in the third wave, and I think our only way out is really open, transparent and actionable information.”

Super Dome in the middle of the eye and yes these were the colors I saw.

Susan B Glasser writes this at The New Yorker: Denialism, Dishonesty, Deflection: The Final Days of the Trump Campaign Have It All. The President is ending his reëlection bid with scandals that call into question the legitimacy of next week’s vote.”

Whether or not Trump once again succeeds in pulling an unlikely win out of a near-certain defeat, this fall’s campaign may well go down as one of the most scandalous periods of his norm-shattering Presidency. Trump in recent weeks has openly flirted with white supremacy and bizarre conspiracy theories. He has demanded that the U.S. government investigate and jail Biden—it is not clear for what—and he has publicly threatened to fire the F.B.I. director and the Attorney General for failing to do so. He has held rallies at which his supporters chanted “Lock him up,” and did and said nothing to stop them. He has broadcast so much misinformation that social-media platforms such as Twitter have, for the first time, regularly warned readers about the veracity of his posts. He has lied so much that the Times found seventy-five per cent of his statements during a single rally to be untrue. He has issued orders that threaten to politicize the government long after he is gone, including an executive order, last week, which would remove key protections from the professional civil service; the potential consequences of this move are so significant that, on Monday, the Republican Trump appointee who would have to oversee it resigned in protest, warning that the decision will “replace apolitical expertise with political obeisance” across the government.

In recent weeks, scandalous revelations about Trump’s corruption include the Times’reporting on hundreds of millions of dollars of debt that Trump is personally liable for. (He will not say to whom.) The Washington Post disclosed this week that Trump has used his power to direct at least eight million dollars from the U.S. government—–and his political supporters—into his personal businesses since he took office. The consequences of Trump’s Presidency, meanwhile, include the forcible separation of at least twenty-six hundred migrant children from their parents at the southern border, and last week the awful news came out that five hundred and forty-five of these children are now stranded alone in the United States, owing to the authorities being unable to locate their mothers or fathers.

And this parade of horrors, of course, also includes Trump’s record on the coronavirus, a disastrous performance that, as of this week, has left more than two hundred and twenty thousand Americans dead. Universal mask-wearing could prevent perhaps a hundred and thirty thousand Americans from dying, according to a study in the scientific journal Nature which was released earlier this month. Yet Trump not only refuses to issue a national mask mandate; he has repeatedly and publicly questioned the need for mask-wearing during the fall campaign and has held numerous White House events with packed crowds of unmasked attendees.

This is my friend Grace Athas’ photo of the center of the eye over her uptown home.

Then, yesterday, the NYTs dropped what would be an October Surprise that kills Trump’s chances if we still lived in what was the normal United States of America.  Here it is summed up by New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait: “Trump Corruptly Meddled With Probe Into Crimes by Bank in Turkey.” The MSNBC coverage of this is evidently what got my TV stuck on the channel.  I was glued to the screen.  This is like immediate impeachment material for Trump, Barrett, and the Goddesses know who else?

In 2016, Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked then-Vice-President Joe Biden to lean on federal prosecutors who were investigating a Turkish bank for financial crimes and to hand over a dissident cleric living in the United States. The requests seemed to be on Biden’s mind when he publicly addressed reporters and piously explained that, in the United States, the justice system doesn’t work like that. “I suspect it’s hard for people to understand that as powerful as my country is, as powerful as Barack Obama is as president, he has no authority under our Constitution to extradite anyone,” Biden explained to reporters. “Only a federal court can do that. Nobody else can do that. If the president were to take this into his own hands, what would happen would be he would be impeached for violating the separation of powers.”

Well, the justice system works like that now.

The New York Times has a comprehensive report on Erdogan’s successful efforts to recruit top Trump administration officials into his corrupt scheme.

Scandals tend to be complicated, especially scandals involving banks. But this one is extremely simple. The basic elements:

1) The Justice Department was prosecuting financial crimes by a Turkish bank.

2) Turkey’s president asked President Trump to quash the investigation.

3) Trump has personally received more than $1 million in payments from business in Turkey while serving as president.

4) Two attorneys general loyal to Trump, Matthew Whitaker and William Barr, both pressured federal prosecutors to go easy on the Turkish bank.

The Times adds plenty of new detail to the last point, which is yet another blow to anybody who hoped Barr might preserve some shred of respect for the rule of law. “In mid-June 2019, when [Geoffrey] Berman met with Mr. Barr in Washington, the attorney general pushed Mr. Berman to agree to allow the Justice Department to drop charges against the defendants and terminate investigations of other suspected conspirators,” the Times reports. When Barr subsequently fired Berman, who resisted his pressure, Justice Department officials cited his stubbornness on the Turkey case “as a key reason for his removal.”

If you read one thing today make it this article. It is imperative he be voted out of office and removed as quickly as possible along with his appointments at the DOJ.

In the eye of a hurricane
There is quiet
For just a moment
A yellow sky

So, we’ve got a bit further to go on our Country’s Bumpy Ride. Tomorrow is Halloween.  Sunday is All Saints Day. Tuesday the votes are counted and I take my soul to the poll. Wednesday I turn 65.  What a long strange ride this is.

Take care!  Check in !

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads

Good Afternoon!!

244896_rgb_768Dakinikat survived Hurricane Zeta and got her power back this morning. I heard the storm also hit Georgia pretty hard; its now headed for North Carolina. I hope you’re safe if you’re in Zeta’s path.

In just five days, voting in the long 2020 election will draw to a close. Joe Biden looks likely to win; but we still have to navigate voter suppression (AKA cheating) by the Trump campaign and the GOP, aided by the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as the possibility that Trump will try to use the Court to overturn the election results if he loses. Nothing less than the health and safety of the American people will depend on the outcome.

Ed Yong at The Atlantic: America Is About to Choose How Bad the Pandemic Will Get.

In the 2020 election, on top of every routine test of character and capability, the candidates must answer the challenge the coronavirus has brought to this country. Trump’s response has been so lax as to effectively cede the country to a virus whose spread is controllable. He has, by his own admission, repeatedly downplayed the threat after he became aware of how dangerous the new coronavirus could be. He caught the virus himself and seems to have learned nothing from the encounter….

As November nears, the coronavirus is surging again, with cases rising to record-breaking heights for the third time. To control the pandemic, changes are necessary, but Trump has proved that he does not learn from his mistakes—perhaps the most costly of his failings. If he is reelected, he will continue on the same path, and so will the coronavirus. More Americans will be sickened, disabled, and killed. Donald Trump is unchanging; the election offers an opportunity for the country to change instead.

Nick Anderson cartoonThe near-term future is already set. Trump has repeated the lie that numbers are spiking because the U.S. tests extensively; in fact, the climbing cases have far outpaced the rise in testing, and are due instead to the rapidly spreading virus. Thanksgiving and Christmas are approaching. Several generations of family members will gather in indoor spaces for prolonged periods of close proximity and spirited conversation—the very conditions in which the coronavirus most readily spreads….

As I wrote last month, there is a real risk that Americans will become habituated to this horror, and that COVID-19 will become another unacceptable thing that the U.S. learns to accept. That is all but inevitable if Trump wins a second term. His administration has given no indication that it will dramatically change its strategy. If anything, it has doubled down. It is allowing the virus to freely spread among younger people in the hopes of reaching herd immunity—an unfeasible strategy that has been widely panned by the scientific community. Such a strategy could leave millions dead, and many others with chronic illness.

It’s quite clear now that Trump has decided to let the virus run rampant, believing falsely that this will lead to “herd immunity.”

The Daily Beast: Trump’s COVID Advisers: He’s Now Pushing Herd Immunity.

Despite publicly downplaying it, President Donald Trump and his team of White House advisers have embraced the controversial belief that herd immunity will help control the COVID-19 outbreak, according to three senior health officials working with the White House coronavirus task force. More worrisome for those officials: they have begun taking steps to turn the concept into policy.

lk102820daprOfficials say that White House adviser Scott Atlas first started pushing herd immunity this past summer despite significant pushback from scientists, doctors and infectious disease experts that the concept was dangerous and would result in far more Americans getting sick and dying. Since then, various White House advisers have tried to play down the idea that the administration has implemented a strategy for COVID-19 based on herd immunity, which holds that if enough people contract a disease and become immune from it, then future spread among the broader population will be reduced.

Trump and Atlas publicly claim that they aren’t pushing this disastrous strategy, but it’s pretty clear that’s what’s happening. Experts say the policy could lead to between 2 and 5 million deaths in the U.S. In addition, many people who survive the Covid-19 develop long-term health problems.

Though Atlas insists he has not pushed “herd immunity,” another official said Atlas actually began advocating for the concept—and the president became receptive to it—at the same time as task force officials were being sidelined from conversations about how the administration planned to handle what many predicted would be a difficult fall season. Since then, officials said, the White House has been largely focused on getting a vaccine out to the American people and has left the fight against the community spread to one task force official: Dr. Deborah Birx. Birx, the White House task force coordinator, has been on the road for months trying to convince Americans to wear masks and social distance.In her absence, and with the task force meeting less regularly, Atlas has thrived as a presidential confidant.

244866_rgb_768“This is all Atlas,” said one of the officials who spoke with The Daily Beast. “I find it disturbing… bordering on ludicrous. Everything that comes out of Atlas’ mouth is geared towards letting it rip and then just worry about protecting the vulnerable. Everything he says points to the fact that he believes herd immunity is a good option. Yet he denies he’s pushing herd immunity as a strategy saying ‘No that’s not what I’m doing.’ But he is.”

The New York Times: Trump’s Closing Argument on Virus Clashes With Science, and Voters’ Lives.

As an immense new surge in coronavirus cases sweeps the country, President Trump is closing his re-election campaign by pleading with voters to ignore the evidence of a calamity unfolding before their eyes and trust his word that the disease is already disappearing as a threat to their personal health and economic well being.

The president has continued to declare before large and largely maskless crowds that the virus is vanishing, even as case counts soar, fatalities climb, the stock market dips and a fresh outbreak grips the staff of Vice President Mike Pence. Hopping from one state to the next, he has made a personal mantra out of declaring that the country is “rounding the corner.”

Mr. Trump has attacked Democratic governors and other local officials for keeping public-health restrictions in place, denouncing them as needless restraints on the economy. And venting self-pity, the president has been describing the pandemic as a political hindrance inflicted on him by a familiar adversary.

“With the fake news, everything is Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid,” Mr. Trump complained at a rally in Omaha on Tuesday, chiding the news media and pointing to his own recovery from the illness to downplay its gravity: “I had it. Here I am, right?” [….]

cb102720daprAs a political matter, the president’s approach amounts to an Obi Wan-like attempt to wave his hand before the electorate and tell voters that they are not experiencing a pandemic that is tearing through their neighborhoods and filling hospitals. His determination to brush aside the ongoing crisis as a campaign issue has become the defining choice of his bid for a second term and the core of his message throughout the campaign’s endgame.

This kind of insanity only works with Trump’s brainwashed cult followers. It really does look like Biden will win by a lot, although I won’t be able to let myself believe it until the votes are counted.

Vox: Exclusive: Biden leads Trump by 12 points in a national UT Dallas poll.

Former Vice President Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump by more than 10 points in a national poll by researchers at the University of Texas Dallas. Fielded a few weeks prior to Election Day, the poll is among recent ones finding Biden with a steady lead.

The results, which are part of UT Dallas’s Cometrends survey, found Biden with 56 percent support and Trump with 44 percent support.

The poll — which included 2,500 respondents — is one of several recent surveys showing Biden ahead of Trump at the national level. It was fielded online between October 13 and October 26, with many of the responses coming in by October 17. The survey has a sampling margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points, and its results included a broad sample of respondents that have not been weighted for likely voters.

Overall, the survey finds broader support for Biden from some demographic groups than former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton received in 2016 exit polls. Among both men and white respondents overall, in particular, Biden’s backing in the UT Dallas survey is stronger. Fifty-four percent of men in the poll say they back Biden, compared to 41 percent who said they supported Clinton in a 2016 exit poll. Similarly, 44 percent of white respondents say they back Biden, compared to 37 percent who said they supported Clinton.

Read the rest at Vox.

244698_rgb_768Toluse Olorunnipa at The Washington Post: As Election Day nears, Trump ponders becoming one thing he so despises: A loser.

Trailing in the polls and with little time left to change the trajectory or closing themes of the presidential race, President Trump has spent the final days of the campaign complaining that the coronavirus crisis is getting too much coverage — and openly musing about losing.

Trump has publicly lamented about what a loss would mean, spoken longingly of riding off into the sunset and made unsubstantiated claims that voter fraud could cost him the election. He has sarcastically threatened to fire state officials if he doesn’t win and excoriated his rival Joe Biden as someone it would be particularly embarrassing to lose to.

“If I lose, I will have lost to the worst candidate, the worst candidate in the history of presidential politics,” Trump said at an Oct. 17 campaign rally in Janesville, Wis. “If I lose, what do I do? I’d rather run against somebody who’s extraordinarily talented, at least, this way I can go and lead my life.”

The president, who said at the same rally that “we’re not going to lose, we’re going to win,” has certainly not abandoned his showman’s approach to the campaign trail. But his unscripted remarks bemoaning a potential loss — and preemptively explaining why he might suffer one — offer a window into his mind-set as he barnstorms the country in an attempt to keep himself from becoming the one thing he so derisively despises: a loser.

Trump has told rallygoers he had the presidential race won until the pandemic hit, and he has accused media outlets of focusing on the ongoing health crisis to hurt him politically.

Read more at the WaPo.

Trump has also suggested at his rallies that he might have to leave the country if he loses. This is pretty wild but, at this point, anything is possible: