Essential Services?

Governor Greg Abbott has fumbled the ball again.

Turner and others did express concern about Abbott’s decision to include religious worship as an essential service, leaving open the possibility of large gatherings at churches. At the news conference, Abbott encouraged churches to conduct their services remotely but said that if they must meet in person, they should follow the federal social-distancing guidelines.

“I’m unaware of a church that would want its constituents, its parishioners, to be exposed to COVID-19, and I think there’s enough public information right now for them to be aware of the practices that are needed to make sure that their members don’t contract COVID-19,” Abbott said in the interview.

There has been controversy, particularly in the Houston area, over church closures in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Pastors are in court challenging a stay-at-home order that Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced a week ago that restricts churches to online-only services.

To that end, Abbott’s latest executive order overrides “any conflicting order issued by local officials,” including those related to religious services. At the news conference, Abbott said local officials “still have flexibility to impose standards that they consider to be more strict” — as long as they do not conflict with his latest executive order.

There are at least 3,266 coronavirus cases in Texas, including 41 deaths, according to the most recent figures from the Texas Department of State Health Services. The cases are spread across 122 of the state’s 254 counties.

There have been 42,992 tests done in Texas, according to the latest numbers.

Texasstandard.org

Churches are essential services when schools are not? This conclusion says more about Texas than most thinking Texans are going to be comfortable admitting. It also says a lot about Gov. Abbott’s ability to be an effective leader; that he is more afraid of the religious right than he is of the plague that is sweeping across the country. He also continues down the path that he has set himself on, thinking his state government is more understanding of what Houston, Austin and Dallas citizens need than the governments we have put in place to govern our cities.

If Harris county leadership says the churches are closed, then the churches are closed in Harris county. Look to see that provision of the order reversed, along with a lot of the bullshit his Republican legislature has passed over the last year hamstringing local governments. It won’t happen soon enough to stop the landslide of coronavirus cases that will stem from letting people gather in churches because church services are essential.

The number of tests conducted in the state are pathetic. 42k? The number of asymptomatic carriers that will be at church spreading the disease to other parishioners will ensure that the wildfire of COVID-19 will continue to burn out of control in Texas until hopefully the summer months bring it to an end. If we are lucky.

…also. Women’s health is an essential service. This means that abortion services are essential services. Pretending that the procedures you don’t like are not essential and then banning its practice during this crisis is the essence of making something that shouldn’t be political, political. I want this on the record for the next time that Abbott and his Christianist cronies start tearing their hair and pretending that they want to avoid making this crisis political. Pot, meet kettle. Kettle, meet pot.

Sacrifices Have to be Made

I hate to be the guy who said I told you so, but I fucking told you so. This was inevitable. There was no way that…

Posted by Jim Wright on Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Facebook – Stonekettle

As the sailors aboard American military vessels at sea all start catching the coronavirus, and a predictable number of them start dying for lack of medical facilities, everyone should try to remember that we could have had a different president to handle this crisis if nine other Senate Republicans had the bravery that Mitt Romney had. Food for thought.

Twitter – Stonekettle
Twitter – Joe Garofoli
Twitter – Stonekettle

Daily Pandemic Deception, Foiled

If you're not watching Trump's nightly Coronavirus shitfest, here's the summary: He started out by accusing nurses of…

Posted by Jim Wright on Sunday, March 29, 2020
Facebook – Stonekettle

All news outlets should follow NPR’s lead. There is no other way to counter the harm the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) is doing to the country other than to shut him off at the source. Don’t air the coronavirus briefings live. Edit out his misleading bullshit, then air the medical people talking about real stuff later. Save the parsing of Trump’s bullshit for people who want to explain what he says to the people who actually listen to and believe the OHM when he speaks. His Stormtrumpers.

Save the Stormtrumpers? Sometimes it is best to let nature take its course; and letting the stupid people who believe the OHM die might be the only way to save democracy in the United States. This is a problem that they created. It is fitting that they pay the price for their own stupidity. Pay the price for relying on a single news source and never bothering to fact-check anything they hear.

FOX news is the common denominator. It is no wonder that FOX news is now worried about being punished for misleading the public at the beginning of the pandemic. Ya think? Maybe they should have thought a little harder about it earlier. Like in January, when it would have made a difference.

Trump was watching FOX before he stumbled into the presidency, and he’s still watching FOX as a replacement for all his daily briefings before he goes out and repeats the same shit he heard on FOX, shit that they say because he wants them to say it, tells them to say it. The problem for both Republicans in general and their president in particular is that they get their information from a source that makes shit up. Once you realize this simple fact, it becomes plainly obvious that we cannot allow anything like FOX news to continue to exist.

Either your information service contains real, factual information, or it can’t be allowed to continue. If the creator’s intent is to mislead, then the content should be squelched somehow. At the very least it shouldn’t be piped into every American’s home through an infrastructure paid for and maintained by public funds. If they go out and make themselves victims on purpose, there is little we can do to protect them from themselves.

Facebook, Facebook, Twitter, Facebook


Here’s how to not be mislead. Let Stonekettle Station translate the OHM gibberish for you, then fact-check the parts you still aren’t clear on.

Did you watch tonight's Shitshow? No, of course you didn't. Because you're not a masochist. That's what you pay me…

Posted by Jim Wright on Monday, March 30, 2020
Facebook – Stonekettle

Here is the Stonekettle Station OHM pandemic digest from March 29th. The one where Trump accuses nurses of lying to make Trump look bad.

If you're not watching Trump's nightly Coronavirus shitfest, here's the summary: He started out by accusing nurses of…

Posted by Jim Wright on Sunday, March 29, 2020
Facebook – Stonekettle

Wednesday’s Trump dump.

Trump Shitshow SummaryI'm going to start here by saying: I honestly won't be surprised if this thing kills us all. I…

Posted by Jim Wright on Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Facebook – Stonekettle

Abuse of Power

What should outrage us is not what appears or is suspected to be Burr’s insider trading, but that any representative of the US government, and in this case a particularly high-ranking one, is permitted to own stock. It is as if there is no relationship between government decisions and market developments. The fact that this is possible, that a powerful senator like Burr can be deep inside of the government and yet play the market, exposes the exceptionally high levels of corruption permitted in our political system.

thestranger.com

#39 Quarantine Powers

Twitter

If you think #MAGA means anything other than Misguided Appallingly Gullible Americans, you are the person these tweets were written for.

Stitcher

RAnt(hony)-ings

I’ve skipped several podcasts in this series. I’ve listened to them myself, but I haven’t felt the need to put them on the blog since the treas… …er, impeachment trial of Donald John Trump began and then ended. The whole thing has sort of felt meaningless in the face of the treason of the American people by the members of the Senate.

I expected the traitors to act they way they did, but that doesn’t change the shock of what they did in reality do. For once in my life the thing I expected to happen, did happen. No one was more shocked by this than I was.

However, the quarantine subject is something that is probably bothering everyone right now, so I thought it warranted advertisement.

The episodes I missed on the blog (and on Twitter) were:

  • 38 – Prosecutorial DiscretionProsecutors recommended that Roger Stone, an associate of Donald Trump, be given a heavy penalty after being convicted of seven felony counts, including lying to authorities. But after intervention from Attorney General Barr, and tweets from the President, those recommendations were rescinded. What can his case tell us about presidential interference and prosecutorial discretion?
  • 37 – War Powers and Impeachment UpdateAfter Donald Trump ordered the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, many wondered if the two countries were on the brink of a major conflict. This incident is only the latest in the long-standing fight between Congress and the President over who has the power to make war, and if an act of violence against another state can be legitimate without Congressional approval. This episode also includes an update on the Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump, which began earlier this week.
  • BriberyBribery is one of the three offenses listed in the Constitution as grounds for impeachment. Even though that is attempting to bribe Ukraine is the act that precipitated to Trump’s impeachment, it’s not explicitly listed in the articles of impeachment. Why is that?
  • Confrontation ClauseSince the beginning of the impeachment proceedings against the President, Donald Trump has insisted he has a right to confront “the whistleblower,” the anonymous member of the intelligence community who set the whole thing in motion. There is a Confrontation Clause in the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which says a defendant in a criminal case has the right to face their accuser. But does this clause apply to the impeachment hearing against a president in Congress?
  • Foreign AffairsDonald Trump says he should not be impeached as President, since there was ‘no quid pro quo’ on a phone call where he asked the Ukrainian president to investigate a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. But does quid pro quo need to be explicitly stated to be a legal issue? And can private citizens like Rudy Giuliani represent America on foreign policy issues?

All of them contained information that I didn’t know about constitutional law, but none of them made me jump up and say this episode will change everything. Well, the bribery episode almost got me tweeting. Almost. The rest of them made me shrug and say I don’t see how spreading this around changes anything. So I didn’t bother. I’ll move the introduction post up to the front of the list again, eventually. Until then it will remain linked here.

Fascism in America

The only constitutional freedoms ultimately recognized may soon be limited to those useful to wealthy, Republican, White, straight, Christian, and armed males— and the corporations they control. This is wrong. Period. This is not America.

James Dannenberg

Like Mussolini, Trump can’t even make the trains run on time. He certainly can’t protect us from a virus.

Hat/tip to:

March 14, 2020 (Saturday)The reality of the novel coronavirus pandemic is sinking in as our infections continue to…

Posted by Heather Cox Richardson on Sunday, March 15, 2020
Facebook – Heather Cox Richardson

Virus Targets Senators

The name comes from the ancient Roman Senate (Latin: Senatus), so-called as an assembly of the senior (Latin: senex meaning “the elder” or “old man”) and therefore allegedly wiser and more experienced members of the society or ruling class. Thus, the literal meaning of the word “senate” is Assembly of Elders.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

They are the people who should not be exposed to the coronavirus. The senex/Senate/older people. It’s too bad that half of them are too dumb to know that COVID-19 is virtually designed to kill them, specifically. Or maybe that is a good thing. We do need fresh young blood in the Senate. In any case, the Republicans who attended CPAC were all exposed to COVID-19 because a big-dollar donor was diagnosed with the disease shortly after attending the conference.

Science denial comes at a cost. I’m pretty sure I’ve made this observation before, and Donald Trump continues to meet and shake hands with people even though he too was exposed to the virus, just like his HHS employees who spread the virus after bringing it back home with them. Congratulations Mr. Trump. You are the new typhoid Mary.

RAnt(hony)-ings

Hat/tip to Chris Hayes All-In for March 9th, 2020

Daylight Swearing Time

It’s that time of year again. That time of year where you exclaim “Fuck! How did it get to be 4:30 am already?” It isn’t. Except it is now.

RAnt(hony)-ings

…And it will go on being 4:30 am at this time of night until after 2:00 AM on Sunday, November 1, 2020. Then it will be 3:30 AM again. At least I have that to look forward to in November.


Imagine just for a few minutes, what it would be like for your GPS to calculate time variance based on degrees of longitude rather than twenty-four one hour time zones. In the same way your phone can change times for daylight savings, it can change time to keep up with your actual position on the globe. The device that you already rely on to tell you what time it is could just do the time calculation for your location and actually tell you what the local time is. The satellites that control GPS already perform these calculations just to be able to talk to each other and establish UTC for themselves.

 I’m just not going to comply with Daylight Savings Time until somebody in authority can explain to me what we’ve been doing with all the daylight we’ve saved for the last 200 years.

I mean the interest alone on all those photons should be enough to power every solar panel in the country for the next decade.

I’m just saying, somebody owes me some sunlight here.

Stonekettle Station

The Power of Oil

“I’m like a corporate political prisoner,” Donziger told me as we sat in his living room recently. The attorney, who is 6-foot-3, graying, and often used to be mistaken for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio when he was able to walk the city streets, was surprisingly stoic and resigned about his predicament during my two visits to the apartment he shares with his wife and 13-year-old son. But on this particular Wednesday, as the winter sunlight in his living room was dimming and the charger for his spare ankle bracelet battery flashed on a nearby shelf, his optimism about his epic battle against one of the biggest oil companies in the world seemed to be flagging. “They are trying to totally destroy me.”

The Intercept

…when you read stories like this one, It is easy to see why Glenn Greenwald thinks the US is behind all the bad things that happen in the world. I wonder if Chevron will ever be made to pay for the damage they’ve done?

Representative Wisdom

Certainly, Gentlemen, it ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; their opinions high respect; their business unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasure, his satisfactions, to theirs,—and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own.

But his unbiased opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure,—no, nor from the law and the Constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.

The Works of the Right Honorable Edmund Burke (1899), vol. 2, p. 95

….this quote was paraphrased by the newly elected representative from Georgia (Dr. Lyman Hall) in the play and the movie 1776 (1972)

I offer the above quote in response to this podcast from NPR’s Morning Edition,

Morning Edition – U.K.’s Labour Party Offers Lessons Learned To Democrats In U.S. March 4, 2020

I can’t speak to why the Liberal Democratic party allowed Jeremy Corbyn to run their party. I wouldn’t have, but then I’m not a Lib-Dem. They suggest that Bernie Sanders is too liberal and we should toss him out in favor of Joe Biden. I know why Joe Biden is winning, and I will vote for him in the general if he secures the nomination.

Since they had the temerity to offer suggestions to NPR as to what the US should do to fix our politics, I have some pointed observations to offer them in response. If the Lib-Dems wanted to stand a chance in the last election, they should have come out 100% against Brexit. They should have said “we aren’t leaving, and we aren’t holding another election. We are going to do what David Cameron should have done in the first place and are simply going to say NO. No Brexit because it is suicidal and probably racist to think that we should leave the European Union.” They should have said that, and left the subject at that.

The original Brexit vote was tainted by interference from outside of of the UK. Tainted by the interference of Vladimir Putin. The referendum results can just be set aside for this reason, and no other vote needs to be held on the subject.

I have some bad news for the Lib-Dems, the Tories and Biden supporters all three. There is no past to return to. Not for Britain and their Brexit dreams, and not for the Democratic party hoping to just bury the last four years in more Obama/Biden platitudes.

The United Kingdom is done for. I know this because it isn’t UKexit that Britain screams for, but Brexit. Northern Ireland and Scotland will likely leave the UK because of Britain’s folly. Ireland isn’t going to leave the European Union in any real sense, because it is a separate island, and one county on that island is part of the UK. Scotland will do their best to seperate themselves from the suicidal behavior of their brethren in Britain, hoping against hope that they will see what kind of hell leaving the EU will inflict on them. I think their hopes are in vain. I think Scotland will have to re-erect Hadrian’s wall to keep the Brits out, once they start to suffer.

Joe Biden represents a similar desire in Americans. He represents a return to normality in the minds of the people who are voting for him, in the same way that a renewed British empire attracts a questionable majority of Britain. Joe Biden represents a return to the days of Barack Obama, the days before we knew our friends and relatives were raging xenophobes willing to destroy our country to make themselves feel safe. Those days are over, and they aren’t coming back.

Elizabeth Warren was angling to put herself in the position where Joe Biden forced himself onto the stage. Elizabeth Warren had already moderated her healthcare plan so as to distinguish herself from the hardline stance that Bernie Sanders insists on, to his own political detriment. Elizabeth Warren represents the future. New ideas, new plans, a fresh approach to old problems. She would have made more moves toward moderation if Joe Biden not decided to take over the moderate wing of the Democratic party. Joe Biden, who pushed the woman out of the way so that he could appeal for a return to the good old days.

The Republicans have tried to recapture the days of Ronald Reagan with every single presidential candidate they have offered since Reagan left office, including the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) The OHM who stole one of Reagan’s soundbytes, make America great again. It isn’t a Trump tagline, it is a Reagan tagline, and Trump is a poor man’s idea of who and what Ronald Reagan was. They’re wrong, as stupid people are wrong about so many things, but that’s what they think Trump is.

The Democrats cannot erase Trump or the suicidal and openly criminal behavior of the Republican Party leadership. Not with Joe Biden, not with anybody. Trump will always be the forty-fifth president of the United States. As much as I would like to think we could pull an Akhenaten with him, even the ancient Egyptians couldn’t completely remove the pharaoh they wanted to forget. They didn’t have the internet to contend with, or half of the country bent on preserving the memory of the last four years in the hopes of continuing the trend of xenophobia and sociopathy that the OHM embodies.

Biden will fail to live up to the memory of what the Obama years were, because we can’t turn back the clock to 2008. We can’t unring the bell that the OHM rang, summoning the ghost of the Confederate South to his side. If we’re lucky the best he can do is delay the confrontation with them for another four to eight years. In the end, we will have to face down those demons and my kindly Uncle Joe isn’t going to have it in him to do that job.

Elizabeth Warren could do that job. She has attacked Trump in the past, and she has scored points on him that Joe Biden has not. After her losses on Super Tuesday, I don’t know if she can pull out a win now. But she deserves the right to take on Trump and prove that she can win against him. That women can win against the naked misogyny that is Donald John Trump. I hope she gets that chance.


Twitter h/t to Stonekettle