Dorothea and Will discuss the meaning of life

Mar 22nd, 2020 10:58 am | By

We need something non-pandemic-related, or at least I do. A tweet by a philosopher reminded me of a passage in Middlemarch, so seeing as how it’s long out of copyright I’ll just share it. From chapter 39:

Dorothea felt wretched. She thought her husband altogether in the wrong, on more grounds than Will had mentioned.

“It is better for us not to speak on the subject,” she said, with a tremulousness not common in her voice, “since you and Mr. Casaubon disagree. You intend to remain?” She was looking out on the lawn, with melancholy meditation.

“Yes; but I shall hardly ever see you now,” said Will, in a tone of almost boyish complaint.

“No,” said Dorothea, turning her eyes full upon him, “hardly ever. But I shall hear of you. I shall know what you are doing for my uncle.”

“I shall know hardly anything about you,” said Will. “No one will tell me anything.”

“Oh, my life is very simple,” said Dorothea, her lips curling with an exquisite smile, which irradiated her melancholy. “I am always at Lowick.”

“That is a dreadful imprisonment,” said Will, impetuously.

“No, don’t think that,” said Dorothea. “I have no longings.”

He did not speak, but she replied to some change in his expression. “I mean, for myself. Except that I should like not to have so much more than my share without doing anything for others. But I have a belief of my own, and it comforts me.”

“What is that?” said Will, rather jealous of the belief.

“That by desiring what is perfectly good, even when we don’t quite know what it is and cannot do what we would, we are part of the divine power against evil—widening the skirts of light and making the struggle with darkness narrower.”

“That is a beautiful mysticism—it is a—”

“Please not to call it by any name,” said Dorothea, putting out her hands entreatingly. “You will say it is Persian, or something else geographical. It is my life. I have found it out, and cannot part with it. I have always been finding out my religion since I was a little girl. I used to pray so much—now I hardly ever pray. I try not to have desires merely for myself, because they may not be good for others, and I have too much already. I only told you, that you might know quite well how my days go at Lowick.”

“God bless you for telling me!” said Will, ardently, and rather wondering at himself. They were looking at each other like two fond children who were talking confidentially of birds.

“What is your religion?” said Dorothea. “I mean—not what you know about religion, but the belief that helps you most?”

“To love what is good and beautiful when I see it,” said Will. “But I am a rebel: I don’t feel bound, as you do, to submit to what I don’t like.”

“But if you like what is good, that comes to the same thing,” said Dorothea, smiling.

“Now you are subtle,” said Will.

“Yes; Mr. Casaubon often says I am too subtle. I don’t feel as if I were subtle,” said Dorothea, playfully. “But how long my uncle is! I must go and look for him. I must really go on to the Hall. Celia is expecting me.”

When a briefing is not a briefing

Mar 22nd, 2020 9:02 am | By

Margaret Sullivan at the Post reminded us yesterday that Trump isn’t issuing health information, he’s campaigning and vanity-pumping.

More and more each day, President Trump is using his daily briefings as a substitute for the campaign rallies that have been forced into extinction by the spread of the novel coronavirus.

It must be awful for him. He loved those rallies – you could tell by watching him for a few seconds (all a sane person can stand). He’s different when he’s performing at those things: he’s no less stupid, of course, but he’s far more fluent and relaxed. He’s at home there, the crowd gives him a high. They assure him that he’s funny and truth-telling and tuff, kind of a mix of Don Rickles and Clint Eastwood. It’s nauseating to watch, his comfort and elation, but it sure does explain a lot about him.

The press briefings don’t do that to him, so clearly they’re far from an adequate substitute, but that doesn’t mean they’re harmless.

These White House sessions — ostensibly meant to give the public critical and truthful information about this frightening crisis — are in fact working against that end.

Rather, they have become a daily stage for Trump to play his greatest hits to captive audience members.

His greatest hits are bragging, attacking journalists, and lying.

Trump is doing harm and spreading misinformation while working for his own partisan political benefit — a naked attempt to portray himself as a wartime president bravely leading the nation through a tumultuous time, the FDR of the 21st century. 

FDR would have him summarily and permanently banished, just as he did to the loathsome Joe Kennedy.

It’s important to remember how much Trump’s tune has changed on the coronavirus, from blithely dismissive to self-importantly serious. 

This is what he was saying about the virus in public as recently as Feb. 27: “It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.”

We know, without any doubt, that Trump was ignoring intelligence reports that warned about the likelihood of a pandemic at the same time he was cooing these baseless reassurances. But now he’s claiming that he knew the problem was a pandemic long before others did, and that he took every step possible.

He can lie and brag at the same time. It’s a gift. Mind you it would be pretty difficult for him to brag and tell the truth at the same time.

The fundamental human right to go to a restaurant

Mar 22nd, 2020 7:56 am | By

Trump is retweeting like a rabid squirrel – he’s helping! he’s doing things! he’s busy! – and this is one of the things he saw fit to retweet during this developing pandemic:

Emergency measures during a pandemic threaten our sacred FREEDOM!

I didn’t do it, they did it!

Mar 21st, 2020 3:40 pm | By

If this is true it’s the craziest thing yet. The Daily Beast:

The White House is launching a communications plan across multiple federal agencies that focuses on accusing Beijing of orchestrating a “cover-up” and creating a global pandemic, according to two U.S. officials and a government cable obtained by The Daily Beast.

The cable, sent to State Department officials Friday, lays out in detail the circumstances on the ground in China, including data on coronavirus cases and deaths, the local business environment and transportation restrictions. But it also issues guidelines for how U.S. officials should answer questions on, or speak about, the coronavirus and the White House’s response in relation to China.

The “guidelines”=blame China.

“Chinese Communist Party officials in Wuhan and Beijing had a special responsibility to inform the Chinese people and the world of the threat, since they were the first to learn of it,” the cable reads. “Instead, the… government hid news of the virus from its own people for weeks, while suppressing information and punishing doctors and journalists who raised the alarm. The Party cared more about its reputation than its own people’s suffering.”

In other words they’re accusing China of doing what Trump and his goons did.

I have little doubt that China did fail to put its people first, but I have zero interest in hearing about it from anyone who works for Trump.

Two U.S. officials working on the administration’s coronavirus response said the White House is pushing federal agencies to stick closely to the national security council’s talking points, especially when senior officials take to the podium, to ensure continuity with President Trump. 

And by “ensure continuity with Trump” they mean “not expose Trump as a liar by not echoing his ‘talking points.'”

“These talking points are all anyone is really talking about right now,” one official said. “Everything is about China. We’re being told to try and get this messaging out in any way possible, including press conferences and television appearances.”

That’s the urgent thing! Blaming China! Not doing anything for us, just covering Trump’s gangrenous ass.

But the administration isn’t just focusing on criticizing China, it’s also painting America’s response to the global pandemic as “extraordinary humanitarianism”.

“The United States and the American people are demonstrating once again that they are the greatest humanitarians the world has ever known,” according to the cable.

Bollocks. We’re not. Trump and his goons are some of the worst liars of all time though.

Trump says the single-use masks can be re-used

Mar 21st, 2020 11:31 am | By

Next part of the press conference rally:

Why? Why is that preferable? If that’s preferable why have a Defense Production Act at all? The whole point is that in an emergency it’s not preferable. In an emergency some things have to be mandated.

He’s not an expert in medical hygiene.

No he hasn’t, and no they aren’t.

“Contrary to what the useless bozo on my right keeps saying.”

It doesn’t matter what he “feels.”

Imagine being Tony Fauci and having to put up with this.

Walmart’s ok

Mar 21st, 2020 10:44 am | By

Daniel Dale also taking notes.

He had a call with the hospital system. Cool.

That’s the important thing. That’s what we want to know about.

Is the man an encyclopedia?? He knows about everything! Walmart – Hanes – miracle cures – the works!

Fauci Shmauci, Trump feels good about the medicines, that’s what matters.

Nooooooooooooooooooooooo they’re not.

Once we’ve buried all the bodies, that is, those of us who aren’t buried.

I.e. none.

All right not exactly none – it no doubt is comforting for a lot of people. But part of that comfort rests on the fiction that prayer makes things happen beyond comforting people, and it doesn’t. Political figures should stick to the real world.

What things? What things happening? What very positive things? What are these very positive things that are going to replace people’s paychecks?

If only he could read

Mar 21st, 2020 10:27 am | By

Trump is doing another press briefing – not because we’re in a crisis but because he can’t do rallies and he needs his attention fix.

The “wut” is: “an example of the…pair no rickard, which…”

Yeah, no idea.

Because what we need right now is more religion.

Earlier today…

Murderous fool

Mar 21st, 2020 9:16 am | By

I guess Bonehead is really mad that Fauci dared to set him straight on how drugs are tested yesterday.

He wants us to understand that he knows better. Fauci is just a pen-pusher, Trump has INSIGHT.

“But sir, it hasn’t been tested yet and – “


Holy contagion

Mar 21st, 2020 9:08 am | By

Well there’s another several thousand people infected.

Luvvies eating media people at the gastro lunch

Mar 20th, 2020 5:52 pm | By

Brendan O’Neill must be parodying himself.

The pubs are being closed. Oh noes, the backbone of Britain, remember the Blitz, where were you when the old King threw the first football/cricket ball/crumpet.

The barmaid tells us she isn’t sure if they will close at 8 or 10 this evening. ‘We are awaiting government instructions’. I can’t believe what I am hearing. I feel like I am in North Korea. British governments don’t close down pubs, right? Not pubs.

North Korea. Self-parody; has to be.

It is almost too depressing for words. I know that media people and luvvies for whom pubs are just places you go to for a hip gastro lunch consisting of overpriced dirty burgers will think this is over-the-top. Well, then they don’t know the centrality of the pub to life in this country.

Oh come on, that’s too broad even for parody. “media people and luvvies for whom pubs are just places you go to for a hip gastro lunch” – that has more clichés than it has words. It’s staler than ten-year-old bread. Parody is better if it’s a little subtler.

2500 refugees

Mar 20th, 2020 3:24 pm | By

World Central Kitchen posted on February 3:

WCK’s Chef Relief Team first opened a kitchen at the US southern border in Tijuana, Mexico in November 2018. Families, including many children, are fleeing violence, poverty, and instability in places like El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Once the refugees get to the border to apply for asylum, they can be forced to wait up to a year for their case to be heard. Due to financial challenges or safety concerns, many families are unable to return home, leaving them stuck at the border while they wait.

More than a year after setting up our first kitchen in Tijuana, we have opened a second location to cook for and serve refugees living at the border in Matamoros, Mexico. Nearly 1,500 miles from Tijuana, Matamoros lies just across the border from Brownsville at the southernmost point of Texas. There are currently about 2,500 refugees living in tents in a camp.


Prior to our Relief Team arriving, local organization Team Brownsville had been providing daily meals to the refugee camp. Now, we have partnered together to continue ensuring all families at the border have access to fresh, hot meals while they wait.

Each day, our team in Brownsville prepares a meal from our new Relief Food Truck. Here, Chef Elyssa is sautéing apples, sweet potatoes, and carrots in milk and buttermilk to serve with pulled pork and salsa verde!

Once the food is ready, our team fills up Cambros – the insulated boxes we use to keep hot food at the proper temperature – with trays of dinner and takes them to the bus depot where we meet with our lead from Team Brownsville. With the help of many dedicated volunteers, it’s time to walk the food across the border. We cross the Rio Grande to get to the dining tent where we serve dinner to the families.


Good people doing a good thing.

Once we get to the refugee camp, we work closely with the families living there. Many of the kids like to help with cleaning the tent before and after dinner, as well as assisting us with handing out food during service.

Our team will continue to cook every day in Brownsville for families stuck at the border. These refugees have endured so much in an attempt to seek a better life for themselves and their children and they deserve the dignity of a delicious plate of food.

If you are in the Brownsville area and would like to volunteer with WCK, sign up here. Please note, we cannot provide transportation or accommodations for volunteers from out of the area.

If you would like to donate to support our efforts, please visit here.

When they say a delicious plate of food they mean it – World Central Kitchen is the brain child of José Andrés, that chef we’ve been hearing about using his closed restaurants in DC and NY to feed people.

Now for the bad news: the border is closing at midnight and WKC and Team Brownsville and all those volunteers are forbidden to cross the border. No more delicious plates of food for the people stuck in that camp in Matamoros.

We don’t know it yet

Mar 20th, 2020 2:40 pm | By

Sixty EIGHTY years ago the US had Roosevelt. Now we have an evil egomaniacal clown.

In an extraordinary exchange on Friday, President Donald Trump viciously attacked an NBC News reporter who asked what his message would be to Americans who are frightened by the coronavirus pandemic that is spreading across the country.

Moments later, Kaitlan Collins, a White House correspondent for CNN, asked Trump if it was appropriate to embark on tirades against members of the news media during a public health crisis.

“You see yourself as a wartime President right now, leading the country through a pandemic that we are experiencing,” Collins noted. “Do you think going off on Peter, going off on a network is appropriate when the country is going through something like this?”

Roosevelt he ain’t. A decent human being he ain’t. A wartime president he ain’t.

Alexander said in a statement that he was “trying to provide the president an opportunity to reassure the millions of Americans, members of my own family and my neighbors and my community and plenty of people sitting at home, this was his opportunity to do that, to provide a positive or uplifting message. Instead, you saw the president’s answer to that question right now.”

“The bottom line is, this is a president whose experiences in life are very different than most Americans across this country right now,” Alexander said. “Not a person who likely worries about finances or had, not a person who in the course of his life is worried about his future, not a person who is worried about where to find a paycheck for his bills or for his rent and as evidenced by the president suggesting that an opportunity to provide for American some reassurance about how they should feel right now, the president instead took it out on me.”

He makes a point. Trump has no idea what it’s like to be vulnerable in the way the vast majority of people are vulnerable…and he spends zero time thinking about what it’s like. He spends zero time caring about it.


Essential care

Mar 20th, 2020 11:37 am | By

Possibly worst tweet of all time:

The answer, Fauci said, is no

Mar 20th, 2020 11:23 am | By

I found I needed to watch the whole sequence that led to that rage-fit at a reporter, so I found the complete video and watch-stop-watched until I got there.

It starts at 1:36:47. A reporter asks Fauci about the anti-malaria drug chloroquine and if there’s any evidence that it can be used as a prophylaxis against the coronavirus. Fauci says no, and explains that the evidence the reporter is talking about is anecdotal, and why that doesn’t count. So then Trump speaks up and – from his great pool of expertise on this subject, which is that he “feels good about it” – contradicts everything Fauci just said.

That’s the context in which Peter Alexander asked his question about giving the public false hope.

The guy who is there to provide the medical science says there is no genuine evidence that remedy X works, Trump babbles about feelings and who knows and it might or it might not and we’ll see and he feels good about it, the reporter asks, indirectly, if that kind of pie in the sky bullshit might give people false hope, and Trump erupts in a rage.

Youghta be ashamed of yaself

Mar 20th, 2020 9:51 am | By

We’re in the flailing hands of a lunatic.

Full-on tantrum over a perfectly reasonable question.

Updating to add a better clip, with split screen.

There’s so much in that one minute.

There’s the way that during a press briefing on a fast-growing pandemic, he uses one of his snide pejoratives and then takes the time to tell the reporter he’s screaming at that it is one of his pet pejoratives. “…Concast – I don’t call it Comcast, I call it Concast – “

That’s everybody’s boring self-important right-wing cousin or neighbor or co-worker, so boring and self-important that they tell you what they’re doing in addition to doing it.

And then his idiot epistemology at the end:

Let’s see if it works. It might and it might not. I happen to feel good about it, but who knows. I’ve been right a LOT, let’s see what happens.

He happens to feel good about it (that “I happen to” is always a tell: that’s a self-important jerk you’re talking to, take evasive action) and he’s been right a LOT so you do the math.

First I’d like to thank The Great Leader

Mar 20th, 2020 9:23 am | By

I’m sensing a theme here.

Complete with tell-tale pause

Mar 20th, 2020 9:02 am | By

Nobody’s going to tell HIM not to be a racist shit.

A small group of well-connected constituents

Mar 19th, 2020 6:09 pm | By

NPR reports:

The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee warned a small group of well-connected constituents three weeks ago to prepare for dire economic and societal effects of the coronavirus, according to a secret recording obtained by NPR.

Note what’s missing here: the word “everyone.” He didn’t warn everyone, he warned a small group of well-connected constituents.

The remarks from U.S. Sen. Richard Burr were more stark than any he had delivered in more public forums.

On Feb. 27, when the United States had 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19, President Trump was tamping down fears and suggesting that the virus could be seasonal.

“It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle. It will disappear,” the president said then, before adding, “it could get worse before it gets better. It could maybe go away. We’ll see what happens.”

Trump wasn’t “tamping down fears,” he was lying to us about an imminent danger which we could have been preparing for.

On that same day, Burr attended a luncheon held at a social club called the Capitol Hill Club. And he delivered a much more alarming message.

“There’s one thing that I can tell you about this: It is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history,” he said, according to a secret recording of the remarks obtained by NPR. “It is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic.”

But he didn’t see fit to tell us that. Peasants can always be replaced, I guess.

The message Burr delivered to the group was dire.

Thirteen days before the State Department began to warn against travel to Europe, and 15 days before the Trump administration banned European travelers, Burr warned those in the room to reconsider.

“Every company should be cognizant of the fact that you may have to alter your travel. You may have to look at your employees and judge whether the trip they’re making to Europe is essential or whether it can be done on video conference. Why risk it?” Burr said.

He predicted school closures. He said the military would be involved.

“We’re going to send a military hospital there; it’s going to be in tents and going to be set up on the ground somewhere,” Burr said at the luncheon. “It’s going to be a decision the president and DOD make. And we’re going to have medical professionals supplemented by local staff to treat the people that need treatment.”

But he never told us.

But despite his longtime interest in biohazard threats, his expertise on the subject, and his role as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Burr did not warn the public of the government actions he thought might become necessary, as he did at the luncheon on Feb. 27.

NPR sent him some questions but he hasn’t responded.

But wait, there’s more.

Whether it’s insider trading or not…it’s scummy af.


Mar 19th, 2020 3:16 pm | By

Of course he did.

Corona CHiNESE

Remember that pause, and the sly sideways look? Before he said “Chinese”?

Screeching and screaming and being vile

Mar 19th, 2020 2:43 pm | By

Oh dear, fallen down a wildly unpleasant rabbit hole.

That’s a lot of clashing figurative language for one tweet, isn’t it – overrun, dogpile, high ground, rabbit hole, fall down. Orwell would have a good laugh, because it’s exactly the kind of lazy reaching for a stale phrase that he was objecting to.

But the substance came later.

Well we don’t “screech,” we type, and saying we screech kind of gives away his misogyny – see there you go, lazy figurative language tripping him up again. But much more to the point, saying Xs are not Ys is not saying Xs don’t exist. It’s not the same thing. Not the same; different. Rabbits are not coconuts; that is not saying that rabbits don’t exist.

Now if rabbits had a noisy activism that insisted they are coconuts if they say they are, maybe they too would claim that saying rabbits are not coconuts is saying rabbits don’t exist…but they would be wrong too. Description is not existence. I exist but I can be wrong or dishonest about how I describe myself; so can you, so can they, so can anyone. We still exist even if we’re wrong or dishonest about how we self-describe.

This is a good thing, if you think about it. It means we don’t snap out of existence just by making a mistake on a form. Some angry dude can inaccurately call us screeching vile bigoted TERFs but we go on existing all the same.