Thursday, April 2, 2020

Republican Ideology Will Kill You

Deep within the lizard brain of every Republican official exists a fundamental disregard for science and the embrace of a paralyzing ideology:
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) undercut his own stay-at-home order by exempting religious services from that necessary step to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

DeSantis issued the statewide order Wednesday afternoon, telling Floridians to “limit movements and personal interactions outside the house” to only those deemed “essential.” The order followed mounting pressure on DeSantis to do something after he’d said days earlier that he was waiting for the White House coronavirus task force to recommend such an order. In March, DeSantis had resisted calls to shut down beaches as college students from across the country gathered in Florida for spring break.

If the governor had finally decided to take the threat seriously, his order carved out a large exception for religious services conducted in churches, synagogues and other houses of worship, which are deemed to be “essential business” and thus exempt from the stay-at-home mandate.

Florida has nearly 7,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The actual number of cases in the state and across the country is likely much higher than reported, but a lack of testing and a White House that has repeatedly downplayed the threat have led to insufficient data on just how many people are infected.
Megachurch pastors are the new embodiment of that old stereotype of a Typhoid Mary. They have lobbied Republican lawmakers to cut them some slack (not to mention the continuation of tax exemptions which makes no sense these days) when it comes to mass gatherings. They could very easily use the technology of television to reach their flocks but they refuse to do so because butts in seats equals cash in the collection plates. They preach the gospel of prosperity, dress it up in a cheap suit, and sell it like madmen. There is no theological basis for being chosen to receive the bounty of God's will in the form of a fat check. The whole hypocritical thing is designed to make you feel good about not bothering to do anything about anything that's wrong with yourself.

This is an insidious thing, and it has nothing to do with your local Presbyterian or Baptist church. To me, there are now two forms of religion in this country--the normal kind that involves actually creating a church of like-minded worshippers in a community (I will never have a problem with that) and the commercialized nonsense of for-profit, multi-million dollar ventures that require stadium seating and mass marketing campaigns designed to get people to buy into their feel-good bullshit.

Voting and thinking and being a Republican is bad for your health and never more so than right now. I guess preaching that it would be better to stay home and do something for the greater good loses out to the idea that GOP politicians don't want to suggest that this is all God's wrath on flocks of sinners who would otherwise have a very high opinion of themselves.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Mr. Irrelevant

Bernie Sanders has never been more irrelevant than he is today:
Bernie Sanders is making it increasingly clear that his presidential bid is far from over, even as he faces long odds of winning the Democratic nomination.
Less clear, however, is whether his game plan is to pursue victory or to continue promoting his progressive agenda as nearly all aspects of American life — including the election — are upended by the coronavirus crisis.

While some former top advisers acknowledge the difficulty Sanders has in overcoming Joe Biden's significant delegate lead, other allies of the Vermont senator note that his message and his agenda are well-suited to a moment when millions of people are filing for unemployment and losing their health care while large corporations seek billions in bail out funds.
When there is no path to victory--and Sanders should know because he's been in this position once already--a candidate is obligated to drop out of the race and support the eventual nominee of the party. A candidate is obligated to not harm or injure the party's chances for victory.

With Sanders and his toxic legion of supporters, there is no playbook. It's just shit flinging with this organization. Every day that Sanders stays in, he creates more problems for the Democratic Party. He clings to this because he probably feels that they'll need his vote in the Senate.

If it's a blowout this fall, and I hope to God that it is, then maybe Sanders won't be so important after all.

Monday, March 30, 2020

The Media is Failing America

Eric Boehlert makes some very important points here:
t’s time for journalists to stop expressing shock regarding his erratic and heartless behavior, because that unwarranted shock just helps normalize Trump's dangerous behavior. It plays into the idea that Trump at times behaves rationally, and picks and chooses when he should act like a leader, and when he does not need to — that Trump can mimic the actions of a sane person when the situation calls for it.

If we take a step back, the scale of government’s failure is so complete and so sweeping it borders on the incomprehensible. After a while, explaining this away as Trump being unfocused, or not having a plan, or being shortsighted just doesn't add up. The failure to protect has been so thorough, it's difficult to suggest it’s happened coincidentally.

Why is it taboo? The possible answers are too disturbing for the press to ponder, therefore they're deemed off-limits. Instead of addressing the reality, the press prefers to stick with the safe narrative that the White House is muddled and disorganized. To address the other possibilities would raise stunning questions about the President of the United States —the types of questions that have never been asked about any president in this nation's history.
I would agree that there is very little evidence that Trump's White House is "muddled and disorganized." I think the opposite is true. It is geared specifically for maximizing profit and advantage for Trump's business interests and it is organized to inflict maximum damage on the Americans who have expressed opposition for Trump's personal agenda. It's time to stop thinking of Trump's White House team as a bunch of stumblebums and recognize them for what they are--an anti-American hit squad that looks for any opening in which to shove a knife.

Yes, they are incompetent. But that's almost on purpose. If you want things to run smoothly, you hire qualified people who have experience. In Trump world, the only people considered for positions of responsibility are those who have been deemed sufficiently loyal to Trump. That usually means that they are hiring people who would never be considered for gainful employment anywhere else. They're putting the dregs into positions of responsibility. At this stage, Trump's regime has three college kids in positions that would normally go to people with at least ten years of government service. And we all know what a debacle it has been just trying to find appointees.

To properly run the government, you need to fill most of the appointed positions and Trump has refused to accept qualified individuals who would perform those functions. The next Congress needs to pass a series of laws that will force the Executive Branch to name qualified individuals to appointed positions or, more importantly, reduce the number of appointed positions and staff them with career civil servants.

There can be no question that Trump's personal agenda is funneling government money into his businesses and hiding this from the American people.  Not only is the media failing to properly assess how they are handling COVID-19 but they haven't even begun to wake up to the fact that Trump is dealing out insider information to business allies.

Don't fall for the idea that William Barr's Justice Department is actually investigating Republicans in Congress who have been involved in overt insider trading. They are going to carry out a sham investigation and purposefully foul the evidence against them so that the next Democratically-controlled Justice Department can't actually take three or four Republican Senators to the woodshed. The media used to be able to ferret out all kinds of criminal activities. They sometimes find an acorn in the mud, but a blind pig would still be able to do a better job.

If you begin to evaluate every facet of Trump's organization as a criminal conspiracy to defraud the government, it all makes sense. Trump has ties to people who are going to make millions in profits from COVID-19. They're appearing before the press every time he gives a briefing and lets them make self-serving speeches that are barely disguised as feel-good ads. The conspiracy is right out in the open. The crimes are happening as we speak. But a heavily-compromised media is still beholden to the idea that Trump is what drives their profits. They pretend to present information designed to outrage people but they never follow through on what is obvious. To do so would kill their ratings and frighten away advertisers who are able to handle a little truth telling but not nearly enough.