Donald Trump

The Coronavirus Infodemic: Conspiracy theories are a coping mechanism

Never underestimate our capacity for foolishness:

“People are drawn to conspiracies because they promise to satisfy certain psychological motives that are important to people,” Dr. Douglas said. Chief among them: command of the facts, autonomy over one’s well-being and a sense of control.

If the truth does not fill those needs, we humans have an incredible capacity to invent stories that will, even when some part of us knows they are false. A recent study found that people are significantly likelier to share false coronavirus information than they are to believe it.

You don't have to be a full-fledged, New World Order-fearing nut-job to fit into this category. We're all susceptible to this piper if we're not careful. It's tempting to create monsters where they don't (necessarily) exist, because monsters can be slain. But a natural world that is inherently dangerous and uncertain, that can create a virus so small it's invisible to the naked eye yet kills tens of thousands, is simply terrifying:

Criminal or incompetent? Try all of the above

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Hat-tip to Thomas Mills for cutting through the chatter:

For those of you wondering whether you’re going to heaven or hell, you’re in hell. In the midst of the worst pandemic in a century, we’re being led by a family of incompetent grifters. While tens of thousands of Americans are about to die, they’re trying to figure out how to make a buck off the crisis.

If you had told me twenty years ago that we’d elect a shady real estate mogul turned reality star President of the United States, I might have laughed but I wouldn’t have believed it would happen. Today, not only is he president, he’s brought his whole family to the White House. It’s like the cast of Arrested Development is running the country but nobody’s playing the role of Michael.

Voters definitely jumped the shark when they elected him, but that damn fish has been circling our sinking rowboat ever since. If this isn't enough to get your blood boiling, you need to read it twice:

Not much Comfort: Navy hospital ship only has 20 patients

Symbolic of Donald Trump's entire Presidency:

On top of its strict rules preventing people infected with the virus from coming on board, the Navy is also refusing to treat a host of other conditions. Guidelines disseminated to hospitals included a list of 49 medical conditions that would exclude a patient from admittance to the ship.

Ambulances cannot take patients directly to the Comfort; they must first deliver patients to a city hospital for a lengthy evaluation — including a test for the virus — and then pick them up again for transport to the ship.

I must be getting slow in my old age. I had assumed the ship was going to New York to help with the overflow of COVID 19 cases, but that is apparently not the case. I'm trying to find a list of those other 49 medical conditions the ship is refusing to treat, but we may have to wait until somebody leaks it, because the Navy isn't releasing that info. It may (or may not) surprise you to find out the same damn thing happened when it "came to the rescue" of Puerto Rico:

Mark Walker wants to bill China for COVID 19 Stimulus

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Because that worked so well with Mexico paying for Trump's wall:

Walker voted last week for the unprecedented relief package, known as the CARES Act. The legislation’s scope includes direct one-time payments to Americans, financial assistance to struggling businesses, larger unemployment benefits and aid to health care providers.

Before the vote last week, Walker tweeted that he wants the U.S. government to pass along the costs to their Chinese counterparts. “China’s lack of transparency created this. Now we are asking American taxpayers to foot the bill?” wrote Walker in his tweet.

Even if we hadn't been in a complex and unnecessary trade war with China for the last year or more this would be a stupid idea. But with that in the picture, it's both moronic and delusional. Trump has pissed away any leverage we might have had to push such a policy, and we'd be lucky if China merely laughed at us for making such a demand. They actually hold over $1 Trillion in U.S. debt, and if they decided to sell those Treasury bonds off, it could cost us much more than just a Trillion:

Coal Ash Wednesday: Trump moves to deregulate bottom liners

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Because what's the problem with a little leakage?

The EPA's proposal would ease regulations for the liners that coat the bottom of coal ash pits in order to stop the cancer-linked substance from leaking into groundwater. It would also in some cases allow the use of coal ash in closing landfills.

“These common-sense changes will provide the flexibilities owners and operators need to determine the most appropriate way to manage [coal ash] and the closure of units based on site-specific conditions,” EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement. Environmentalists, however, said that the changes would weaken environmental protections.

I am getting really sick of these Orwellian statements coming out of Trump's Kakistocracy. Wheeler is a former lobbyist for coal giant Murray Energy, and this is not his first effort to undermine safety when it comes to coal ash:

Liberty University now has a COVID 19 problem

And Jerry Falwell Jr has a lot to answer for:

“We’ve lost the ability to corral this thing,” Dr. Thomas W. Eppes Jr. said he told Mr. Falwell. But he did not urge him to close the school. “I just am not going to be so presumptuous as to say, ‘This is what you should do and this is what you shouldn’t do,’” Dr. Eppes said in an interview.

So Mr. Falwell — a staunch ally of President Trump and an influential voice in the evangelical world — reopened the university last week, igniting a firestorm. As of Friday, Dr. Eppes said, nearly a dozen Liberty students were sick with symptoms that suggested Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. Three were referred to local hospital centers for testing. Another eight were told to self-isolate.

Considering the nature of this virus, there are likely many more students infected by now. We all knew this was going to happen when Falwell made this decision, and so did the government leaders in Lynchburg:

Grifter-In-Chief: Trump's efforts to gain control of COVID 19 vaccine

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Because blackmailing the rest of the world is apparently good business:

According to the German newspaper Die Welt am Sonntag, which first reported the story on Sunday, Mr. Trump offered CureVac roughly $1 billion in exchange for exclusive access to the vaccine. The newspaper quoted an unnamed German government source who said Mr. Trump wanted the resulting vaccine “only for the United States.”

White House officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment. But two senior American officials said that some of the German news accounts first reporting the story were overblown, particularly with regard to any effort by the United States to secure exclusive access to a vaccine.

In this day and age, when verifiable facts are described as "fake news" by the Trump administration, calling something "overblown" is a tacit admission of guilt. Trump simply has no ethical boundaries, and I don't doubt for one minute that he would use that exclusive control of a vaccine as a lever to get other things he wants. To put it bluntly, Germany is pissed off:

Looming restrictions on SNAP benefits due April 1st

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For many, hunger is just around the corner:

The analysis notes that if the policies had been implemented in 2018, an estimated 3.7 million fewer people and 2.1 million fewer households would have received SNAP benefits in an average month. According to the study, the combined impact of the policies would have been to reduce overall SNAP participation by at least 15 percent in 13 states and make almost three-quarters of households with gross incomes above 130 percent of the federal poverty level ineligible for the program.

Losing much-needed food benefits would cause millions of individuals and families to lapse into food insecurity—defined as “the uncertainty of having, or unable to acquire, enough food due to insufficient money or other resources.”

Aside from the sheer cruelty of tightening restrictions on food stamps, it also represents sheer ignorance of economic forces. Instead of bailing out farmers, an expansion of SNAP would inject capital into not only the agricultural sector, but others, as well. But that is apparently way too complicated for the Liar-In-Chief. Here are the changes that are coming in a couple weeks:

Judge will allow offshore drilling case to move forward

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Apparently Trump isn't the legal eagle he thinks he is:

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel of Charleston has denied the Department of the Interior’s motion to dismiss lawsuits filed by several groups, including the South Carolina Attorney General’s office.

What it means is that the case will continued to be tried, said attorney Amy Armstrong with the South Carolina Environmental Law Project, one of the drilling opponents. Meanwhile, the department at any time could issue permits to start the work anyway — a possibility that opponents say they are ready to fight.

Whales and dolphins have incredibly sensitive hearing, and can communicate with each other at vast distances. Their tympanic plate/membrane is in direct contact with sea water, and they use echolocation to defend against predators and avoid obstructions (like the rising shelf of landfall). Seismic blasting by oil companies looking for deposits can do permanent damage to their abilities, but even a short period of confusion can disrupt their migration and eventually prove fatal. Back to the lawsuit:

Queen Aldona picked to be Canadian Ambassador

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We really should not insult our Northern neighbor like that:

In the 2018 election cycle, Wos gave more than $760,000 to Republican candidates and causes, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Wos led the state Department of Health and Human Services for about 30 months.

While her boss, former Gov. Pat McCrory, gave her high marks for controlling Medicaid spending, her term was marked by threats from the federal government to sanction the state for food-stamp failures, a temporary shutdown of food benefits to low-income women and infants, and questions about no-bid contracts and the hiring of an executive from her husband’s firm to a high-paying, contract position as her assistant, The News & Observer previously reported.

In her defense, she had her caterers box up what was leftover from her bi-weekly dinner parties and gave that food to her housekeepers and landscapers. Except for the Flan. She kept the Flan.

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