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Politics

COVID-19 Coronavirus Update (International) – Monday/Tuesday, April 6/7

Balloon Juice - Tue, 04/07/2020 - 06:11


The post COVID-19 Coronavirus Update (International) – Monday/Tuesday, April 6/7 appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

On The Road – BigJimSlade – Getting Out For a Hike

Balloon Juice - Tue, 04/07/2020 - 05:00

Good morning all,

Another Tuesday, another day to be thankful for breath and good cheer.

 

Submitted March 6, in the beforetime.

Hello fellow Juicers,

Consider this part of the “On the daily walks” series. We are lucky enough to live near a handful of trails, so we only had to drive a few minutes to start this hike (but the drive cut out about 900 feet of elevation). This is in the Pacific Palisades area of the Santa Monica Mountains. Oh, regarding my nym (from the not-exactly-a-classic Kentucky Fried Movie), my real name is Mike, but I came up with that nym in a fit of divine, sarcastic inspiration while getting frustrated at having to come up with yet another username.

For the camera geeks, I’m using an Olympus O-MD E-M1, this time with their cheap, but decent, 40-150mm lens on it (it’s a micro four-thirds camera, so double those numbers for the full frame equiv.)

Enjoy and hang in there!

The post On The Road – BigJimSlade – Getting Out For a Hike appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

COVID-19 Coronavirus Update (Domestic) – Monday/Tuesday, April 6/7

Balloon Juice - Tue, 04/07/2020 - 04:57


Be very interesting to see something like this implemented, though:

Lisa D. Cook, a Michigan State University economist who worked in the Obama White House, said lawmakers should consider funneling $1,500 a month to individuals through mobile apps like Zelle in order to reach more people, particularly low-income and nonwhite Americans who disproportionately lack traditional bank accounts. Mobile payments, Ms. Cook said, would also make it “easier and faster to make onward payments to family members and friends in need.”…

IANAn economist, but I agree that getting money into the hands of the people who need it most, and who’ll spread it around most swiftly, is of prime importance at the current moment. (Yes, of course it won’t happen until the current Oval Office Occupant is booted.)


The post COVID-19 Coronavirus Update (Domestic) – Monday/Tuesday, April 6/7 appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Why Did the Supreme Court Refuse to Even Acknowledge the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Kevin Drum - Tue, 04/07/2020 - 00:29

I just read the Supreme Court ruling on the Wisconsin primary and it’s disturbing. The facts of the case are fairly simple. Normally, absentee ballots are counted as long as they’re postmarked by Election Day and received (in this case) by April 13. However, the COVID-19 lockdown overwhelmed the system: far more ballots were requested than usual, and the state was unable to get them all mailed out in time. What this means is that a large number of people who requested absentee ballots won’t get them before Election Day and therefore, through no fault of their own, won’t be able to cast a vote.

To remedy this, a district court ruled that absentee ballots should be accepted as long as they’re received by April 13, regardless of when they were postmarked. In practical terms, this provided three or four more days for voters to receive their ballots, which meant that many fewer would lose their vote.

It’s worth noting that this was not an easy case. In normal circumstances, it might have been correct to overturn the district court decision. But these aren’t normal circumstances, and what’s disturbing about the majority ruling from the Supreme Court’s Republicans is that it barely even mentions those circumstances. It says instead that the case hinges on a “narrow, technical” question about the absentee ballot process. At the very end of the opinion, here is the sole reference to the COVID-19 pandemic:

The Court’s decision on the narrow question before the Court should not be viewed as expressing an opinion on the broader question of whether to hold the election, or whether other reforms or modifications in election procedures inlight of COVID–19 are appropriate. That point cannot be stressed enough.

That’s it. In the main body of the opinion, you would never learn that a deadly pandemic even existed, let alone that it was the driving motivation of the district court’s decision.

This is cowardly. If you want to make a case that the law is the law and it needs to be followed even in the middle of a destructive plague, then go ahead. But at the very least, you need to have the integrity to make the case. You need to be willing to say forthrightly that legal technicalities need to be followed even if they will either (a) deprive thousands of people of their votes or (b) drive them to the polls, where they run the risk of contracting a deadly disease. If you can’t quite find the words to say that out loud, then you need to rethink your reasoning.

The district court decision is, admittedly, sort of ad hoc. But at least it engages with the unique circumstances, essentially recognizing that state election law is not a suicide pact. The Supreme Court decision, by contrast, avoids the facts on the ground entirely. If this were nothing more than a snowstorm or a transit strike, maybe that would be OK. But when it’s the deadliest pandemic in over a hundred years? That’s a little different.

POSTSCRIPT: The best solution would have been to simply postpone the primary. However, the Wisconsin Supreme Court nixed that.

Categories: Politics

Wisconsin Needs Our Help

Balloon Juice - Tue, 04/07/2020 - 00:25

Wisconsin Needs Our Help

(Iron Brigade Forward – 2nd Wisconsin Infantry Led By General John Reynolds – Battle Of Gettysburg painting by Mark Maritato)

Earlier today the US Supreme Court, which has cancelled oral arguments for the first time since the 1918 FT Riley flu pandemic and can’t figure out how to use Zoom, Google hangouts, or the secure system that the Intel Community is using to telework, ruled 5-4 that Wisconsin would not be allowed to extend the deadline for absentee/vote by mail votes to be returned. The 5 Republican appointed justices overruled two lower Federal court rulings. In conjunction with the partisan 4-2 ruling from the Wisconsin Supreme Court that Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers does not have the power to unilaterally move tomorrow’s presidential primary, as well as state judicial, other state and local elections, this means that Wisconsin’s elections will go on as schedule tomorrow. No matter how deadly that may be. And no matter how many voters might be disenfranchised because they are either too scared to go out and risk infection to vote or because election officials have had to close the vast majority of Wisconsin’s polling places.

Wiscon needs our help. Ben Wikler, the chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party has been doing yeoman’s work for months to prevent the created by an egregious partisan gerrymander Republican majority state legislature and state Supreme Court from screwing around with the elections for Republican partisan purposes. Both the presidential primary and state and local elections tomorrow and the general election in November. Wikler has put out an appeal for help. And you don’t have to live in Wisconsin to heed his call.

So if you have some time tomorrow and are willing to make some calls or texts, go to the links below and help out. The earlier the better would probably be most helpful.

This shouldn’t be partisan, but the Wisconsin Republican majority state legislature, the Republican state supreme court justices, and the Republican appointees on the US Supreme Court have decided that they, to quote President Lincoln from his Cooper Union speech, are only interest in ruling or ruining.

Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events.

To make phone calls, use this link.

To send texts, use this link.

What Wikler wants everyone to do who can make calls and/or texts is to tell Wisconsin voters:

If you have an absentee ballot in Wisconsin, you have to either put it in the mail so that it’s postmarked tomorrow, Tuesday 4/7, or drop it off in person by 8pm at your clerk’s office. It must arrive by Monday, 4/13.

Open thread!

The post Wisconsin Needs Our Help appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: Georgia ‘Christian’ Man

Balloon Juice - Mon, 04/06/2020 - 23:03

Maybe Erik ‘Voice of the GOP Gated Community’ Erickson really *is* that clueless! Or then again, given that he lives a short distance from the Stone Mountain Memorial, mabye he just felt a need to compete with all the other Repub racists now so prominent in the news media. Surely negative attention is better than no attention…

The post Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: Georgia ‘Christian’ Man appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Monday night owls: As the COVID-19 death toll rises, Trump's team pushes other priorities

Daily Kos - Mon, 04/06/2020 - 23:00

Night Owls, a themed open thread, appears at Daily Kos seven days a week

Heather Digby Parton at Salon writes—Team Trump won't let a little pandemic get in the way of its far-right agendaYes, thousands are dying and the Trump administration has massively bungled it. They've got other priorities:

There are many other reports that outline the administration's monumental response fiasco. It may seem as though all this White House does all day is create chaos and confusion. But in fact the Trump's administration is still busily "deconstructing the administrative state" one department at a time, even in the midst of an unprecedented public health crisis.

Categories: Politics

A Monday Quarantine Concert With Barenaked Ladies

Crooks and Liars - Mon, 04/06/2020 - 23:00

[embed eid="39882" /]

This wonderful song recorded for the Coronavirus quarantine reminds me very much of the band's bathroom sessions from 2007. Remember?

[embed eid="39880" /]

[embed eid="39881" /]

And on Twitter the band recommended this parody, which is great!

What are you listening to this evening? And it's an open thread...

Categories: Politics

Brad Mehldau - After Bach (Live at Philharmonie De Paris), Part 2

Little Green Footballs - Mon, 04/06/2020 - 22:28

Brad Mehldau performs the C Major Prelude from Book II of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier and an improvised response live in the Grande Salle Pierre Boulez of the Philharmonie de Paris on April 2, 2018.

Brad Mehldau's album 'After Bach' is available at https://smarturl.it/AfterBach

Categories: Politics

WI Supreme Court site says it's closed due to COVID-19, just above order saying election must go on

Daily Kos - Mon, 04/06/2020 - 22:04

At the top of the website for the Wisconsin court system right now, you’ll find this warning in a bright red box that you cannot miss:

In an effort to protect the public, attorneys, court staff, and judges from the health risks associated with COVID-19, the Wisconsin courts have issued orders temporarily suspending in-person proceedings statewide, with certain limited exceptions.

Just below that warning is a link to the court’s order—a 4-2 decision along strict ideological lines, with all four conservatives opposed by both liberal justices—ruling that Wisconsin’s election must proceed on Tuesday, in spite of COVID-19.

Categories: Politics

The Measure Of An Epidemic: New Coronavirus Units

Balloon Juice - Mon, 04/06/2020 - 21:18

Let’s review:

The first confirmed COVID-19 death on US soil occurred on March 1, 2020.   four p.m. EDT on April 2, 2020,  the United States’ cumulative coronavirus death toll hit 5,808.  Four days later, that number crossed the 10,000 line. There’s a long history behind the saying that while any one death is a tragedy many deaths —a thousand, a hundred thousand, a million— become statistics, but it certainly applies now:  the American pandemic has entered its statistical phase.

 New Coronavirus Units

This much is known about the tragic start to America’s  epidemic.  The first person to die  was a man in his fifties, who had been hosptialized in King County, Washington.  His name was not been released at the time, but it’s possible to reconstruct a part of his story: he was someone in the middle of a life who, only a week or two before its end, had no reason to think he faced his last days on earth. That’s a story we can tell ourselves; a loss we can recognize; a human being, however anonymous, we can mourn.

That one death is a marker in more than just timing.  Health officials noted one key fact about that particular case.  The dead man had no connection to the original coronavirus outbreak in China. He caught his disease here, from someone else in the United States who was already infected, in what is called “community transmission.” President Trump reacted to the news of his death within hours—by imposing travel restrictions on Iran.  That gesture was preceded by reckless inattention, to be followed by a disastrous series of performative decisions by the Trump administration that has produced the current best-case scenario of 100,000 to 240,000 Americans dead by summer.

It’s virtually impossible to grasp the losses implicit in such large numbers. When quantities break the bounds of ordinary experience they begin to disappear from view.  That’s the challenge: to see into what’s happening now, to extract from mere numbers both memory and meaning.

Here’s one way to do so: on September 11, 2001 2,996 people were killed in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington DC.  As I write this on April 3, the US has already suffered almost two 9/11s.

Another: between 1956, when the first American died in the conflict, and 2006, when the last American fatality attributed to the war was recorded—half a century–58,220 members of the US armed services died in the Vietnam War. COVID-19 has climbed to ten percent of that casualty count in a single month.

Looking forward, if the most optimistic current projections hold, coronavirus will bring between thirty and seventy 9/11s to the United States, or two to six Vietnams.  At those heights, the sheer scale of the misery again turns particular memories (where I was when the towers fell, what it felt like to run my fingers along the wall) into abstractions.

And beyond such numbers, should the best case scenarios fail to pan out, we’ll find ourselves in territory at the limits of national mourning. It took 405,000 American lives to defeat Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.  And should the US epidemic wholly overwhelms the still-patchwork effort to contain it, the only remaining national memory to measure our tragedy against will be America’s bloodiest conflict, the Civil War, in which an estimated 750,000 Americans lost their lives.

Back on the first of March, just one man lay dying of this awkwardly named new disease. Those who knew him could mourn him in his human singularity. Glimpsed now, through the lens of almost six thousand more dead, he is the unknown soldier in this viral campaign.

More than three 9/11s.

And counting.

Image: Pieter Breughel the Elder, The Triumph of Death, c. 1562

The post The Measure Of An Epidemic: New Coronavirus Units appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Peter Navarro Plays A Doctor On TV: 'I'm A Social Scientist!'

Crooks and Liars - Mon, 04/06/2020 - 21:00

The internal White House coronavirus task force battle over hydroxychloroquine, Donald Trump’s favorite unproven COVID-19 treatment, burst into the news over the weekend when Trump refused to let Anthony Fauci answer a question on the medical evidence for the treatment. That moment came out of a major blow-up between Fauci and economic adviser Peter Navarro in a Saturday meeting.

Fauci has repeatedly tried to tamp down expectations about hydroxychloroquine, pointing out that there are no good studies of the drug and that “There have been cases that show there may be an effect and there are others to show there’s no effect, so I think in terms of science, I don’t think we can definitely say it works.” But a source told Axios that, in Saturday’s meeting, “the first words out of [Navarro’s] mouth are that the studies that he's seen, I believe they're mostly overseas, show 'clear therapeutic efficacy.’” When Fauci pushed back, Navarro became confrontational, raising his voice and lying about Fauci’s past positions on administration actions around coronavirus.

read more

Categories: Politics

COVID-19 news: Wisconsin elections back on; acting Navy secretary faces calls for removal

Daily Kos - Mon, 04/06/2020 - 20:00

In Wisconsin, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers issued an executive order postponing in-person voting for tomorrow's state elections until June 9 due to the dangers presented by the ongoing pandemic. The archconservative state Supreme Court followed by blocking the move, demanding the election (which includes the reelection effort of one of its own conservative justices) go forward despite the risks.

In today's other pandemic-related news:

• Lawmakers and retired military officials are calling for the removal of acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly after an audio recording of Modly's offensive address to the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt was made public. In the rambling and seemingly contemptuous remarks, Modly defended his firing of Capt. Brett Crozier after Crozier's four-page request for emergency quarantine quarters for his crew was leaked to the press, calling Crozier "either too naive or too stupid" to command.

Categories: Politics

Republican Sen. Perdue bought a boatload of PPE stocks the same day he was briefed on coronavirus

Daily Kos - Mon, 04/06/2020 - 19:31

Say what you will about Georgia’s Republican leadership team: They are corrupt and incompetent and terrible. That’s mostly what I wanted to say. First you had Republican Gov. (and anti-democracy cheerleader) Brian Kemp dragging his ass on doing anything proactive to help his constituents during the beginnings and middle of the COVID-19 outbreaks in the country. Now, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Republican Sen. David Perdue of Georgia seems to have made sure he was able to wet his beak before the proverbial shit hit the fan.

According to the AJC, Perdue was a busy little bee on the stock market last month, with 82 transactions dated to March 3, 2020. This came a couple of weeks after the Senate Intelligence Committee was given a closed-door briefing on the potential of a COVID-19 pandemic. Sen. Perdue seems to have been following the lead of North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr and fellow Georgian and Republican junior U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, both of who dumped millions in stocks in the days and weeks proceeding the security briefing.

Categories: Politics

Conservative WI Supreme Court blocks Democratic governor's order to delay election over coronavirus

Daily Kos - Mon, 04/06/2020 - 18:14

On Monday, Wisconsin's conservative-majority Supreme Court ruled 4-2 along ideological lines to block Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' executive order that had canceled in-person voting in Tuesday’s presidential primary and competitive state Supreme Court election, reversing Evers' decision to postpone the election until June 9 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The court's decision means voting will proceed on Tuesday even as hundreds of polling places around the state won't be open and the state has ordered people to shelter in place to and avoid public gatherings to stop the spread of the virus.

Earlier in the day, Evers had issued an order to postpone in-person voting and call the Republican legislature into another special session so that they could expand alternative voting methods such as voting by mail. However, Republicans have consistently opposed any effort to make it easier to safely vote, and they quickly filed a lawsuit before the sympathetic state court to stop him.

Categories: Politics

Republicans To Wisconsin: You Vote, You Die!

Crooks and Liars - Mon, 04/06/2020 - 18:00

Like many other states, Wisconsin's elected leaders were befuddled about what to do, if anything, regarding the general spring elections and presidential primary, which is scheduled for tomorrow, April 7. However, thanks to the Republican-controlled legislature, the election has become a full-fledged clusterfuck.

Weeks ago, Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat, started pushing for the election to be held as scheduled but asked for the Republicans to change the law to allow it to be all done with mail-in ballots.

The Republicans refused, stating that they didn't wan't think that COVID-19 was all that contagious. Despite the Republicans official stance, officials and politicians of both parties started pushing for voters to request an absentee ballot. The system became overwhelmed with more than a million people asking for their mail-in ballots, and counties ran out of ballots, creating a backlog where several people have not received their ballots weeks after making the request. (My wife and I made our requests early on and have already returned the completed ballots.)

In the meantime, the County Clerks for both Milwaukee and Dane Counties, in an effort to make voting even safer, ruled that people didn't need to have a witness sign the ballots. Predictably, the Republicans had a meltdown about this because both counties are Democratic strongholds and sued to stop this. After a series of hearings, it was decided that the witness signature was indeed needed but they had an extra week to return the ballots.

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Categories: Politics

Cartoon: Whistleblowers

Daily Kos - Mon, 04/06/2020 - 18:00

Enjoy my cartoons? Buy me a coffee.

Or, you can support me on my Patreon Page so I can continue creating these.

Categories: Politics

A Memo From A Grocery Store Manager

Crooks and Liars - Mon, 04/06/2020 - 18:00

Wapo is reporting that grocery workers are beginning to die of Coronavirus.

This, from a grocery store manager, is getting heavy shares on social media:

I manage a grocery store.

Here's some things everyone should know

1. I don't have toilet paper
2. I don't have sanitizer
3. I run out of milk, eggs and meat daily
4. I promise if it's out on the shelf ... it's not in a hidden corner of our backroom.

Those are the predictable ones, now for the real stuff

5. I have been doing this for 25 years I did not forget how to order product.
6. I did not cause the warehouse to be out of product/
7. I schedule as much help as I have, including many workers working TONS of overtime to help YOU.
8. I am sorry there are lines at the check out lanes.

Now for the really important stuff:

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Categories: Politics

Austria and Denmark Announce Timetable to End COVID-19 Lockdowns

Kevin Drum - Mon, 04/06/2020 - 17:32

Hmmm:

Austria and Denmark on Monday became the first European countries to announce concrete plans to reopen their societies after coronavirus lockdowns, hoping they may have already weathered the worst of the first wave of the pandemic….In Austria, small shops are slated to reopen April 13, with larger stores to follow on May 1….In Denmark, the plan is for nursery and primary schools to reopen April 13, while companies will resume business gradually.

Both countries say that because they began lockdowns relatively early, they’ve avoided the worst of the pandemic. And that’s true: their per-capita death rate from COVID-19 is fairly low. Still, it’s only been three weeks since their first case and neither country looks like it’s definitively out of the woods:

Austria might be past its peak—though the sample size is too small to say for sure—but there’s certainly nothing in Denmark’s trendline that looks like they’re in any shape to start reopening soon.

Jumping the gun because the public is getting antsy is a blunder. A seductive blunder, but a blunder nonetheless since it opens us up to the possibility of wasting weeks of effort. I sure hope Austria and Denmark know what they’re doing.

Categories: Politics

Monday Evening Open Thread: Neighborhood Watch

Balloon Juice - Mon, 04/06/2020 - 17:14


(I’m meh about the Big Lebowski, but Walter Sobchat is a great name for a big burly bicolor cat!)

The post Monday Evening Open Thread: Neighborhood Watch appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

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