Wasting everyone’s time

Apr 29th, 2020 3:17 pm | By

Trump is tired of all this pampering of children, he wants them to go back to school now.

President Donald Trump on Monday urged the nation’s governors to “seriously consider” reopening schools as part of his push to restart the economy, though many states have already recommended against resuming the school year.

“Some of you might start thinking about school openings, because a lot of people are wanting to have school openings. It’s not a big subject, young children have done very well in this disaster that we’ve all gone through,” Trump told the governors on a teleconference call, according to audio of the call obtained by CNN.

Huh? It’s not a big subject? It is if any of them are your kids, I bet.

He continued, “So a lot of people are thinking about the school openings. And I think it’s something, Mike (Pence), they can seriously consider and maybe get going on it.”

Trump, Pence and other task force officials on Monday’s call outlined the administration’s testing blueprint and then spent much of the hour-long call fielding praise and thanks, reopening plan updates, and a few questions from the governors. Trump repeatedly urged them to get in the queue to ask questions by dialing “hashtag two.”

In other words it was largely a waste of time.

The President, who owns a hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, asked Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, whether he had made a decision on opening his state “and the Strip, etc., etc., with all your hotels.”

Or rather…all Trump’s hotel.

A Las Vegas re-opening, Trump said, “will be a big thing.”

Yeah? I would say it will be about the smallest thing imaginable. Who cares? It’s not about food or housing or health or safety or education or anything else that matters – it’s just about gambling and “shows.”

Trump lamented media coverage at multiple times during the call, saying his efforts “probably will never be recognized, but maybe it will, you never know.”

If it does it will be a “big thing.”

Rilly rocking

Apr 29th, 2020 12:40 pm | By

Jared Kushner thinks he’s a colleague of Anthony Fauci’s and fully qualified to tell us when it’s safe to stop social distancing.

Jared Kushner took a bullish stance on the coronavirus during a Fox News appearance on Wednesday morning.

The White House senior adviser and President Donald Trump’s son-in-law said the goal was to have much of the US “back to normal” by June and for the nation to be “really rocking again” by July.

He described the country as being “on the other side of the medical aspect of this,” despite cases mounting in rural states.

“The federal government rose to the challenge and this is a great success story,” Kushner said on “Fox & Friends.”

He’s a predatory landlord who married Trump’s daughter; he knows nothing about pandemics or contagion or medicine.

“I think you’ll see by June a lot of the country should be back to normal and the hope is that by July the country’s really rocking again,” Kushner added.

Of course that’s what the hope is. The hope is that the whole thing stops right this second. That has nothing to do with the reality.

“Somebody asked me why [testing] took so long,” Kushner said. “I actually said, you should look at how did we do this so quickly.

“The eternal-lockdown crowd can make jokes on late-night television, but the reality is that the data is on our side.”

Oh yes the eternal-lockdown crowd – we’re doing this because we want to, we’re doing it to spite Trump, we’re doing it for no reason except making jokes on late-night tv.

Go home, fake-Harvard boy.

Not really a choice

Apr 29th, 2020 12:01 pm | By

So the plan is to starve those pesky workers into going back.

As states begin to reopen their economies after weeks of stay-at-home orders, some are warning employees that they will lose unemployment benefits if they refuse to return to their jobs, according to The Hill — even if they fear contracting the coronavirus.

In Iowa, Governor Kim Reynolds (R) said failing to return to work would be considered a “voluntary quit,” which would terminate an employee’s benefits.

Starve and be evicted and die or get the virus and die – your choice!

“If you’re an employer and you offer to bring your employee back to work and they decide not to, that’s a voluntary quit,” Reynolds said Friday. “Therefore, they would not be eligible for the unemployment money.”

Even during a pandemic. Even as new clusters keep being found. Even as testing remains drastically inadequate.

A similar situation is playing out in Texas, where Republican Governor Greg Abbott announced that businesses can reopen on Friday.

Cisco Gamez, a Texas Workforce Commission spokesman, told the Texas Tribune that employees who choose not to return to work will become ineligible for unemployment benefits.

They call it “choose” to make it sound free and voluntary and defiant, as opposed to a safety measure forced by the worst pandemic in the past century.

Mubarak Bala

Apr 29th, 2020 10:59 am | By

News via Sahara Reporters:

President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, Mubarak Bala, has started receiving death threats for ‘insulting Prophet Muhammad’ on Facebook, SaharaReporters has gathered.

Bala was arrested by men of the Nigerian Police in Kaduna for blasphemy.

His arrest followed a petition by a group of lawyers to the Kano State Police Commissioner to prosecute him for the act. 

Why don’t the lawyers and the police and everyone else trust their god to deal with the matter? Why do they think they have to do it instead?

One of Bala’s friends, who spoke with SaharaReporters on Wednesday, said a popular Muslim cleric and a policeman both in Kano have both vowed to kill him if found. 

Why? Why not let the god deal with it?

Findings by SaharaReporters revealed that Bala, who is an atheist, is already being moved to Kano where he could be executed if found guilty under Sharia law. 

It seems very unreasonable to apply religious laws to people who explicitly don’t subscribe to the religion.

Reacting to the issue, rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, said that Bala could not be subjected to Sharia law because he doesn’t subscribe to it.

He said, “It is only Moslems that are subject to Sharia law and that is the constitution because Sharia law is an Islamic law that governs lifestyle of Moslems who subscribe to Islam and followers of Prophet Muhammed. 

“I, as a Christian, have no business with Sharia law, I don’t believe in it, so there is no way I can be subjected to it.

“I have an ideological objection to blasphemy laws because more often than not, those laws mirror the civilisation of a society. 

“As much as people are encouraged to be responsible in their speech, I do not believe that in this age and time that people should be thrown in jail for allegedly insulting a god or a supreme being.”

Especially given the fact that if the god exists the god can simply do the punishing or rebuking or enlightening itself.

Trolls v Rowling

Apr 29th, 2020 9:14 am | By

This has been happening:

A British academic whose new book is about why women are blamed for crimes committed against them has been subjected to thousands of coordinated attacks from alt-right trolls over the last week, culminating in her personal computer being hacked.

Dr Jessica Taylor, a senior lecturer in forensic and criminal psychology, is due to publish her exploration of victim blaming, Why Women are Blamed for Everything, on 27 April. Looking into what causes society to blame women who have been abused, raped, trafficked, assaulted or harassed by men, the book has drawn increasing publicity, including an appearance on Woman’s Hour.

I listened to that conversation on Woman’s Hour; it was very good. She talked about the just world fallacy: thinking “if I do everything right it won’t happen to me” so if it happens to someone else you decide she must have done something not-right. I recognize the tic in myself: hearing of bad thing, wanting to avoid bad thing, making note not to do ___ that person bad thing happened to did. It’s unconscious, it’s knee-jerk, and I absolutely do it.

But since 17 April, Taylor has been targeted by what she describes as a “group of organised trolls” who align themselves with the “alt-right”, men’s rights activists, incel (involuntary celibates) and Mgtow (men going their own way) movements, who have posted thousands of messages on her public Facebook page, including rape and death threats. On 21 April, Taylor contacted police when the screen on her laptop was remotely accessed. The investigation is ongoing.

But today brings a bit of pleasanter news.

That should boost sales just a tad.

The real disrespect

Apr 29th, 2020 8:56 am | By

#PenceIsAnIdiot is trending.

Exactly. It’s wildly insulting to put them at risk so that they can gaze upon his holy countenance.

He felt it was his duty

Apr 29th, 2020 8:38 am | By

More on Pence’s insulting and potentially murderous refusal to wear the mandatory face mask on his publicity stop at the Mayo Clinic:

Vice President Pence responded to criticisms that he defied Mayo Clinic policy by not wearing a mask during his visit Tuesday to the campus, saying he complied with federal guidelines and felt it was his duty to speak to workers at the facility unencumbered by a facial covering.

He said he complied with federal guidelines – but if you’re entering a medical institution which mandates a face mask, you put on the fucking face mask, you don’t say “Wull I’m following the federal rules so you and your staff and your patients just have to suck it up. Literally.”

And how can it be his “duty” to speak to workers at the Mayo Clinic, who are all wearing masks, without a mask, which will put them at risk from him while he is less at risk from them because they are all wearing the masks? What kind of “duty” is that? If he wanted to speak to the workers at the Mayo Clinic his very first duty was to do as he was told, and to wear a mask.

“And since I don’t have the coronavirus, I thought it’d be a good opportunity for me to be here, to be able to speak to these researchers, these incredible health care personnel, and look them in the eye and say ‘thank you.’ ”

But, not to belabor the obvious, he could look them in the eye while wearing a mask. The mask covers the mouth and nose, not the eyes. He wanted them to look him in the mouth, even though he knew that they were more keen to avoid contagion from his mouth and nose than they were to look him in the mouth.

What ever happened to Baby Bunny?

Apr 28th, 2020 4:47 pm | By

The princess apologizes for wearing that weird pink plush bunny suit to a press briefing today…

Just kidding: actually she brags about it.

Also…you know…people are dying, and other people are out of work, struggling, desperate, terrified…why are they standing up there beaming as if they were opening a House of Love and Babies and Puppies? Why is Ivanka there at all and why is she wearing pink baby clothes? Why are Ivanka and Don smirking and grinning at “entrepreneurs” while millions of people are out of work and scared, and many are dying? Wtf is this for?


What happens is

Apr 28th, 2020 3:57 pm | By

It’s ok though, it’s going to go away. That’s all – just go away. Don’t worry.

Alotta progress has been made on a vaccine – but I think what happens is it’s gunna go away – this is gunna go away – and uh whether it comes back in a modified form in the fall, wull be able to handle it, wull be able to put out spurts [two “put out spurts” gestures to illustrate what he means] and uh wurr very prepared to hannle it – we’ve learned a lot, we’ve learned a lot about it, The Invisible Enemy [getting excited] it’s a bad enemy very tough enemy but we’ve learned a lot…[closes eyes for a brief nap]…it’s in a hunred n eighty four countries

…and on we proceed to a rant about China but never mind all that, it’s going to just go away. He said so. Everything’s fine. Have a scoop of ice cream.

No it’s not about the pink sleeper suit

Apr 28th, 2020 3:41 pm | By

“…and it will be, at the appropriate time, it will be down to zero, like we said.”

At the appropriate time.

So now is not the appropriate time?

There is something inappropriate about zeroing out the virus now?

What would that be, exactly?

What are the criteria by which Trump is deciding now is not the appropriate time for the virus numbers to be down to zero? Do we have any input in this? Do we get to tell them that we think now would be the most appropriate time possible?

Masks are…socialist?

Apr 28th, 2020 11:56 am | By

Also this happened today.

Not the indoor gun range!

Apr 28th, 2020 11:37 am | By

People are taking the hint from Barr and suing their states for the precious right to infect other people.

A judge in Illinois ruled on Monday that Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker cannot enforce his stay-at-home order against Republican state Rep. Darren Bailey. Bailey, who represents a rural area that’s been spared from the contagion, argued that the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act restricts a governor’s emergency powers to 30 days from the day he declares a disaster, which was March 9. “The governor was just clearly overreaching his authority and his powers,” Bailey told Meagan Flynn

Pritzker promised to appeal. “Rep. Darren Bailey’s decision to take to the courts to try and dismantle public health directives designed to keep people safe is an insult to all Illinoisans who have been lost during this covid-19 crisis, and it’s a danger to millions of people who may get ill because of his recklessness,” the governor said in a statement. 

In Virginia, a circuit court judge ruled on Monday that Gov. Ralph Northam (D) exceeded his authority by forcing an indoor gun range to close as part of his stay-at-home order. This marks the first victory by a business challenging the commonwealth’s restrictions, and legal experts told Justin Jouvenal that the case will spur others.

Cool cool cool. The right to go to a gun range is fundamental, pandemic or no pandemic.

Republican legislators in Wisconsin are suing to invalidate the governor’s stay home order. Two PatRiots in California are suing Newsome. Freedom freedom freedom!

How to liberate Michigan

Apr 28th, 2020 11:28 am | By

Barr is threatening states that take strong measures to slow the pandemic.

Attorney General Bill Barr directed all 93 U.S. attorneys on Monday to “be on the lookout for state and local directives” that curtail individual rights in the name of containing the novel coronavirus. 

Of course quarantines curtail individual rights, but you know what else does that? Death, and debilitating after-effects of damaged lungs and other organs. Sometimes individual rights have to give way to the rights of everyone else.

This new declaration by the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, who has heavily politicized the Justice Department during his tenure, should be read as a warning to governors and mayors that they may face challenges in federal court if they don’t move quick enough to relax restrictions.

On the other hand more people may die if they move quickly to relax restrictions.

To be fair…it’s not lotsa deaths versus zero deaths. The restrictions are bound to cause some deaths themselves – from domestic violence, from not being able to get medical help in time, from the heightened risks of extreme poverty, from risks taken to avoid extreme poverty, from suicide, and so on. It’s not risk v no risk, it’s x number of risks v y number of risks, with the informed medical opinion being that we need to slow the pandemic as a matter of urgency.

But Barr? Barr has proven himself such a shameless hack for Trump that it’s all but impossible to think he is weighing comparative risks now as opposed to being Trump’s consigliere.

Barr announced that his point men on “this important initiative” will be Matt Schneider, the Detroit-based U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, andEric Dreiband, the assistant attorney general who is best known for service as one of Ken Starr’s lieutenants during the investigation of President Bill Clinton. This seems notable because Trump has specifically decried restrictions imposed on residents by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), who has been mentioned as a possible running mate for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden and leads a top battleground state in the presidential election. “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!,” Trump tweeted on April 17.

Emphasis theirs. What a funny coincidence that he picked a Michigan one and a Clinton impeachment one.

Barr did not specify any policies in the memo, but he said the duo will review what’s going on and, “if necessary,” take corrective action. “If a state or local ordinance crosses the line from an appropriate exercise of authority to stop the spread of COVID-19 into an overbearing infringement of constitutional and statutory protections, the Department of Justice may have an obligation to address that overreach in federal court,” the attorney general wrote.

Do we trust Barr to decide fairly where that line is? No we do not.

A few weeks ago, Barr told Laura Ingraham on Fox News that he considers some policies “draconian” and telegraphed that a hardball approach was coming. “When this period of time, at the end of April, expires, I think we have to allow people to adapt more than we have,” he said, “and not just tell people to go home and hide under their bed, but allow them to use other ways — social distancing and other means — to protect themselves.”

But it’s not about “adapting.” We can’t “adapt” to this virus at this timescale – it won’t let us. Long term, maybe a race of immune-to-COVID-19 people would emerge, but lots of people who are alive now (and lots who have children and grandchildren) would like to avoid infection now.

Working 24/7

Apr 27th, 2020 4:25 pm | By

Well, you see, it was a very warm weekend.

Tens of thousands of people packed southern California beaches over the weekend, reigniting fears that large crowds in public spaces could reverse progress on containing Covid-19 in the US.

Photos of the gatherings in Newport Beach, Orange county, during a weekend heatwave sparked intense backlash and comparisons with Florida, where images of beachgoers raised alarms about the state’s coronavirus strategy. In recent days, beach and park reopenings have also prompted debates and public health concerns in TexasGeorgiaMississippiSouth Carolina and other regions looking to re-emerge from lockdowns.

But isn’t there some kind of magic thingy where crowded beaches don’t count? Because the sand scares the virus away? Something like that?

On Monday, California’s governor Gavin Newsom chastised those who crowded the beaches, saying “this virus doesn’t take the weekends off”.

“This virus doesn’t go home because it’s a beautiful, sunny day along our coast,” the governor, who last week urged beach-goers to practice physical distancing, said at his daily news briefing.

Ok it doesn’t go home but maybe it dozes while getting a tan, instead of infecting people?

People gathering on the beach north of Newport Beach pier on 25 April.
People gathering on the beach north of Newport Beach pier on 25 April. Photograph: Michael Heiman/Getty Images

Not very social distance.


Apr 27th, 2020 3:19 pm | By

I hope I never have to take any of that.

A challenge unlike any other

Apr 27th, 2020 11:25 am | By

Politico has a ridiculous piece about Hope Hicks (which many shockingly cynical people are suggesting is based on what Hope Hicks wanted them to say).

For Hope Hicks, it marked a challenge unlike any other — trying to develop a communications strategy for the president to carry with a wartime footing in an election year. As one of the few aides Trump implicitly trusts, the former White House communications director urged the president to act as a frontman for the coronavirus crisis — a leader who could offer calming messages, critical health information and important updates on the progress of the White House’s response efforts, instead of delegating those responsibilities to health officials or the vice president.

You see what I mean. What could be sillier? “a leader who could offer calming messages, critical health information and important updates on the progress of the White House’s response efforts” – IN WHAT UNIVERSE? In what universe could Donald Trump do any of that? A generic “leader” could, sure, but we’re not talking about a generic leader, we’re talking about Donald Trump. It’s as if they were reporting that Hicks urged a rabbit to write a brief on the virus for the New England Journal of Medicine.

It’s an approach in perpetual flux, thanks largely to a mercurial president who acts on his own instincts, prefers the spotlight in the crisis and offers up rhetoric often designed more for his base than the masses in the midst of an unprecedented situation.

Which Hope Hicks already knew, and that’s a very sanitized version anyway. Trump “acts on his own instincts” which tell him to talk about himself constantly, talk over everyone else 70% of the time, make shit up, get everything wrong, shout at reporters, repeat himself, and fail to talk like an adult.

[S]he has been a key figure in encouraging Trump to be front and center at briefings and events during the coronavirus response, viewing him as the voice that could break through and capture the most attention.

So she’s been a key figure in making everything much worse than it needed to be. It’s a bad thing that Trump has made himself front and center at briefings and events during the coronavirus response, because he’s ignorant and reckless, because he bullies reporters instead of answering their questions, because he burns up the time talking about himself and about his fatuous ideas on how to deal with the virus instead of giving the time to people who know something. All of that is bad, so Hope Hicks is not admirable or impressive for encouraging him to do it.

“Look, the briefings were clearly created and designed to try to fix the president’s political health and had very little to do with public health,” said Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary under President Barack Obama who now serves as senior counsel for Bully Pulpit Interactive Media. “Even before Thursday’s disinfectant fiasco, the level of misinformation and contradictory messaging at a moment when the country needs clarity has been jarring and dangerous.”

To put it mildly.

Sarcasm goes meta

Apr 27th, 2020 10:40 am | By

I wrote a column for The Freethinker yesterday, a play on freethinking and free thinking i.e. a joke about the fact that some thinking is a good deal too free, like for instance Trump’s.

What’s funny about that is that several of the people commenting are…how shall I put this…missing the fact that it’s a joke and that there are many sub-jokes within the larger joke…Which is particularly amusing because the column is partly about Trump’s very free thoughts about how he was being sarcastic and all you dopes missed it.

Also one person thinks it’s a good sign that “stalwart Trump supporters like Benson are getting critical of him.”


Apr 26th, 2020 3:32 pm | By

Oh he was just thinking aloud.

After several days in which state public health officials have rushed to issue urgent warnings to Americans about the dangers of ingesting disinfectants, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, sidestepped the opportunity to amplify that message Sunday.

Asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper what the American people should know about disinfectants and the human body, she instead defended the President’s tendency to muse aloud about his ideas as he processes new information, and suggested that the media had missed the point of the White House presentation.

Birx noted that when Trump made the remark Thursday, he was engaged in a “dialogue” with William Bryan, the acting head of science at the Department of Homeland Security, about a study detailing the use of light and disinfectants to help kill the coronavirus on surfaces. 

Now wait just a god damn minute here. Trump was talking to the press, on camera, with much of the country watching. That’s not the time or place for him to have a clueless “dialogue” with one dude about injecting disinfectants and “light” into our bodies. You don’t have a dialogue with Party B by addressing Party A even if Party B is still in the room, and you sure as hell don’t do it when you’re addressing the press and the country during a pandemic.

Ok who told Trump about the Nobles?

Apr 26th, 2020 2:44 pm | By



First of all journalists don’t get “Nobles” or even Nobels. There is no Nobel Prize for journalism. Second, spelling. Third…everything. Saying that out loud, and not just out loud but on Twitter. Acting like a spoiled toddler with a toothache out in public where we can all see you. Fourth – you do realize you’re telling us all it upsets you that nobody gives you a Noble prize for journalism? And that that looks kind of stupid coming from a head of state? In short that we’re all going to laugh at you? That all you’re doing is humiliating yourself? That we’re laughing at you (at the same time as we very seriously want you out of that office immediately before you do more damage)?

Three hours those have been sitting there, not even taken down to fix the spelling as someone did this morning. I guess the staff have given up.

Give him his blanky and put him to bed. Strap him in.

Updating to add: they did get taken down so I’ll add the screenshots.


He was wondering aloud

Apr 26th, 2020 11:53 am | By

Who’s this guy? What is CBN? His profile says ” Chief Political Analyst, CBN News” – so what’s CBN News?

Ah. Doctor Google informs us that CBN is Christian Broadcasting Network.

So Christians are all about the rapist serial adulterer serial marry-er who brags about grabbing women by the pussy? All about greed and pugnacity and cruelty and lying? All about sending refugees back to be killed, letting children die on the floors of prisons, demanding the death penalty for the wrongly accused?

I’m not a big fan of Christianity but I think it has some better values than that (along with some crappy ones).

Anyway his point is not as cogent as he thinks. It’s true that Trump didn’t say “People should be drinking disinfectant,” but that doesn’t exonerate him of babbling dangerous nonsense about the potential curative powers of somehow getting disinfectant inside the body, “a kind of cleaning.” He didn’t say “Drink this,” he said “Drinking this might work.” Since the “this” was disinfectants, the second is not massively better than the first.