Patterico's Pontifications

9/5/2020

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:55 am



[guest post by Dana]

Here are a few news items to chew over. Feel free to share your own in the comments. Please remember to provide a link.

First news item

Who dat?? I no longer recognize the Republican Party, Part 412…:

A Republican candidate for Congress in Georgia posted a photo to her Facebook page on Thursday in which she brandished a large firearm and declared conservatives need to go “on the offense” against the “socialists” pictured in the post alongside her…Marjorie Taylor Greene, a believer in the QAnon conspiracy theory, is the GOP nominee in Georgia’s 14th Congressional District. Endorsed by President Trump, she’s likely to be elected to Congress in November. The threatening photo says “Squad’s worst nightmare” as a gun-toting Greene poses alongside images of Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).

Untitled

Second news item

Sending a girl out to do a president’s work:

The White House on Thursday denounced the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and suggested that the United States might retaliate if the Kremlin is to blame, but President Trump has not repudiated the attack himself, prompting criticism that he is once again being soft on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany called the poisoning “completely reprehensible” but did not address a question about whether Trump has “made his voice known to the Russian government.”

It was the strongest U.S. condemnation yet of the attack two weeks ago using what a German military lab says was a banned chemical weapon. Navalny survived and is now under treatment in Germany.

Still, Trump himself has remained almost entirely silent about the attack on the most prominent domestic critic of Putin. Trump had said nothing on the matter since last Thursday, when he told reporters the United States was looking into the then-unconfirmed reports that Navalny had been poisoned.

Don’t make me criticize Putin! Anything but that!

Asked about his view on Navalny at a White House press briefing, Trump said, “I don’t know what exactly happened. I think it’s tragic, it’s terrible, it shouldn’t happen. We haven’t had any proof yet, but we will take a look.” He went on to apparently question why Russia faces so much scrutiny while China doesn’t. “It is interesting that everyone’s always mentioning Russia… but I think probably China at this point is a nation you should be talking about much more so than Russia,” he said.”

Third news item

NPR under fire for softball interview with batshit anti-Semite, pro-looting author who said:

“[Looting] gets people what they need for free immediately, which means that they are capable of living and reproducing their lives without having to rely on jobs or a wage — which, during COVID times, is widely unreliable or, particularly in these communities, is often not available, or it comes at great risk.” And “In terms of potential crimes that people can commit against the state, [looting is] basically nonviolent. You’re mass shoplifting. Most stores are insured; it’s just hurting insurance companies on some level. It’s just money. It’s just property. It’s not actually hurting any people.”

NPR now:

National Public Radio is scrambling to do damage control this week after it promoted the views of a dangerously ignorant pro-looting activist who is also a gigantic anti-Semite.

In late August, NPR’s Code Switch department published an interview with Vicky Osterweil, author of In Defense of Looting. In the interview, Osterweil was given free rein to spout several major falsehoods, drawing little to no pushback from NPR.

“This Q&A with a provocative author did not serve NPR’s audience,” the newsgroup’s public editor, Kelly McBride, said Thursday. “On top of being wrong about recent events, the author’s characterization of the Civil Rights Movement is a distortion and oversimplification.”

She adds, “In the interview, the author made several statements in support of her hypothesis that could be easily fact-checked.”

Fourth news item

White people gentrified BLM. What, you didn’t think that would happen??

Black Lives Matter was once shunned by the white establishment. But now, it’s chic. And that’s a problem.

BLM banners fly from homes in Silver Lake. BLM posters are taped to the windows of Portland coffee shops. BLM hashtags fill users’ bios on Twitter and Tinder…

[I]n broad terms, there is a distinction between the motivations of white and Black protesters.

Historically, when Black people protest, they are responding to intolerable and immediate injustice — say, the water crisis in Flint. In contrast…white Americans tend to protest over more abstract goals — like the Occupy Wall Street protests against economic inequality or the melting of Arctic glaciers — and are driven by the “fierce urgency of the future.”

“What you’re willing to sacrifice, demand and compromise is going to be different. There is a shared sense of the problem but your immediate objective is fundamentally different.”…

AJ Lovelace. The 28-year old activist filmmaker felt the marches over the summer started off coherent and then devolved into being performative.

“It was obvious to me that people were out there to say they were out there,” “White girls would agitate the police and then cry when they responded. This isn’t how a protest works.”

White co-optation can overshadow those involved in grassroots efforts, and it creates the illusion that “everyone was part of this movement the whole time,” he said. After the dust settled in the 1970s and public opinion shifted, everyone claimed to have been a civil rights activist.

[I]f history shows one thing to be true, it’s that white attention and sympathy for Black social justice is fleeting. It wanes when cameras disappear.

Wut??? White girls co-opting protests and bringing the performative bullshit?? Say it ain’t so!

Fifth news item

Adapation is about leaning into the chaos!

Sixth news item

South Dakota tempts fate…again:

South Dakota is one of the nation’s hot spots for COVID-19 infections. That didn’t stop another large-scale event from kicking off Thursday.

The rural South Dakota State Fair, which reported an attendance of 205,000 people last year, is set to run through Labor Day with more hand-washing stations, social distancing reminders and an encouragement — but not a requirement — for attendees to wear masks. It comes on the heels of the state’s two largest events: The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and the The Sioux Empire Fair.

In the weeks following those events, South Dakota has emerged as a virus hotbed, according to data analysis. State and national health experts say the rise in cases is likely fueled by a combination of factors, including school reopenings, small gatherings and major events.

Seventh news item

You learn something new every day:

According to the allegations in the criminal complaint and law enforcement affidavit, in late May of 2020, the FBI initiated an investigation into Solomon and Teeter, two members of the “Boogaloo Bois,” and a sub-group called the “Boojahideen.” The Boogaloo Bois are a loosely- connected group of individuals who espouse violent anti-government sentiments. The term “Boogaloo” itself references a supposedly impending second civil war in the United States and is associated with violent uprisings against the government.

The witness told FBI agents that Solomon and Teeter possessed firearms and substantial quantities of ammunition and that Solomon, Teeter, and other members of the Boogaloo Bois and Boojahideen discussed committing acts of violence against police officers and other targets in furtherance of the Boojahideen’s stated goal of overthrowing the government and replacing its police forces.

Eighth news item

No one said it was perfect, but I’ll take America every single time:

America’s real triumph has been its ability to adapt and change over the course of nearly two and a half centuries. The Founding Fathers did not come down from Mount Vernon holding the Constitution on stone tablets. They realized that they were fallible, and that their successors would be too. So they created an ingenious system to be run by imperfect human beings, not by an infallible god or monarch.

When they invented the constitutional republic from whole cloth, the Founders did something unprecedented: They created checks and balances, wrote the opposition into the government, and meticulously divided its powers and responsibilities. Then they complemented the Constitution with the Bill of Rights, a document that is all the more remarkable for focusing not on what the government is obliged to do for its citizens, but on what it may not do to its citizens.

Thus was launched the greatest nation on Earth.

Ninth news item

It doesn’t mean that only 9,200 Americans have died from coronavirus infections:

A retweet by President Trump last weekend set off a storm of misinformation about coronavirus deaths and takes advantage of confusion about the concept of “comorbidity” and how death certificates are filled out.

Trump retweeted a post from a QAnon supporter that claimed, “This week the CDC quietly updated the Covid number to admit that only 6% of all the 153, 504 deaths actually died from Covid, that’s 9210 deaths. The other 94% had 2-3 other serious illnesses and the overwhelming majority were of very advanced age.”

Read the whole thing.

Tenth news item

Most powerful man in America decries cancel culture except when something about him is said that he doesn’t like. Sad!

Miscellaneous Meanderings

It’s all about the heatwave here on the left coast:

And because it’s already a hundred and hell degrees outside, here’s a deliciously romantic clip from the old classic, Roman Holiday, to up the temperature even more:

She paints the season in languid strokes of poetry:

“Maycomb was a tired old town, even in 1932 when I first knew it. Somehow, it was hotter then. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon after their three o’clock naps. And by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frosting from sweating and sweet talcum. The day was twenty-four hours long, but it seemed longer. There’s no hurry, for there’s nowhere to go and nothing to buy…and no money to buy it with.”

It’s always been the calling and goal as much as it is possible on our end:

t absolutely kills me to say this, but we’re going to have to find the humanity in one another. In our quest to find the humanity in others, I don’t think we can start with people on the extreme fringes. We’re going to have to start with someone who’s just one click away from us and build some muscle.

Have a good weekend.

–Dana

8/22/2020

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:06 am



[guest post by Dana]

Here are a few news items to talk about. Feel free to share anything that you think might interest readers. Please remember to include links.

First news item

Gearing up:

Operation Warp Speed – the White House-led partnership for COVID-19 answers – is pushing its partners to be ready to begin distributing a coronavirus vaccine by Nov. 1.

The date is the first concrete goal set for companies working with Operation Warp Speed be prepared to deliver vaccines to doctors and hospitals, said Wes Wheeler of the delivery giant United Parcel Service.

Wheeler said UPS and other partners will be conducting test delivery runs in September. “We’ll be ready. We have to be ready,” he said. “The world is watching. We can’t fail.”

Operation Warp Speed is comprised of federal agencies such as the CDC, the FDA and the Department of Agriculture. The initiative aims to expedite the rapid production of COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines. Its goal is to produce and deliver 300 million doses of vaccine by January.

Related, sadly:

Second news item

No one could have possibly seen this coming, right???

Fifteen Minnesotans who attended the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally this month have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, including one state resident hospitalized with COVID-19, state health officials say.

…Minnesotans who tested positive visited multiple campgrounds and bars at the South Dakota event, Ehresmann said, so cases apparently can’t be connected to any one location.

Seven residents of North Dakota also have cases connected to the Sturgis event, a government spokesman told the Star Tribune.

“Thousands of people attended that event, and so it’s very likely that we will see more transmission,” Ehresmann said.

At least seven Covid-19 cases in Nebraska’s Panhandle region have been tied to the rally, Kim Engel, director of the Panhandle Public Health District, confirmed in an email to CNN.

South Dakota reported 193 new cases on Friday. It’s one of several states that have seen an increase in new cases this past week compared to the week prior, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Third news item

Seattle’s Mayor Durkan says NO:

Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Friday that she will veto a rebalanced budget approved recently by the Seattle City Council that included a controversial plan to slash funding to the police department, which would sharply reduce pay for some of the agency’s top brass and eliminate an outreach team for the homeless.

But the budget plan was approved by a super majority of council members, which if it stays intact, will have enough votes to override the mayoral veto.

“There’s no plans, for example, on how the city will address encampments and RVs that pose public health and safety risk without the Human Services staff who coordinate and lead these outreach efforts that were cut by this budget,” Durkan said.

She also objected to the council’s 40 percent salary reduction of SPD command staff and the lack of plan to remove the 100 officers, which the council budget suggested.

Fourth news item

Biden talks Covid-19:

Former Vice President Joe Biden said…on Friday that as president, he would shut the country down to stop the spread of COVID-19 if the move was recommended to him by scientists.

“I would shut it down; I would listen to the scientists,” Biden told Muir Friday.

“I will be prepared to do whatever it takes to save lives because we cannot get the country moving, until we control the virus,” Biden said. “That is the fundamental flaw of this administration’s thinking to begin with. In order to keep the country running and moving and the economy growing, and people employed, you have to fix the virus, you have to deal with the virus.”

Fourth news item

No, he doesn’t want to defund the police:

“President Trump says that you want to defund the police. Do you?” asked “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts in an interview conducted Friday in Wilmington, Delaware.

“No I don’t,” Biden said, laughing.

Biden said that while he doesn’t want to “defund the police,” he does want to eliminate misconduct and discriminatory practices.

“I don’t want to defund police departments. I think they need more help, they need more assistance, but that, look, there are unethical senators, there are unethical presidents, there are unethical doctors, unethical lawyers, unethical prosecutors, there are unethical cops. They should be rooted out,” Biden later added.

Fifth news item

Unfortunately, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey puts his money where his mouth is:

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced on Thursday that he was donating $10 million to Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research, a project recently launched by the antiracist scholar Ibram X. Kendi.

Kendi is the author of the 2019 book How to Be An Antiracist, one of two books that attracted renewed attention following the death of George Floyd. (The other is Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility.) In a tweet, he thanked Dorsey for the grant, which came with “no strings attached.”

Here is the outrageous proposal to amend the Constitution:

To fix the original sin of racism, Americans should pass an anti-racist amendment to the U.S. Constitution that enshrines two guiding anti-racist principals: Racial inequity is evidence of racist policy and the different racial groups are equals. The amendment would make unconstitutional racial inequity over a certain threshold, as well as racist ideas by public officials (with “racist ideas” and “public official” clearly defined). It would establish and permanently fund the Department of Anti-racism (DOA) comprised of formally trained experts on racism and no political appointees. The DOA would be responsible for preclearing all local, state and federal public policies to ensure they won’t yield racial inequity, monitor those policies, investigate private racist policies when racial inequity surfaces, and monitor public officials for expressions of racist ideas. The DOA would be empowered with disciplinary tools to wield over and against policymakers and public officials who do not voluntarily change their racist policy and ideas.

Sixth news item

Dear Japan, this is why God gave us wine and Netflix and online shopping:

Finding the pandemic scary? A Japanese group is trying to take people’s minds off COVID-19 – by putting them in coffins surrounded by chainsaw-wielding zombies.

Customers this weekend in Tokyo can lie in a 2-metre (6 1/2-foot) windowed box, listening to a horror story, watching actors perform and getting poked with fake hands and squirted with water.

“The pandemic is stressful, and we hope people can get a bit of relief by having a good scream,” said Kenta Iwana, coordinator of production company Kowagarasetai – “Scare Squad” – which is putting on the 15-minute shows.

Seventh news item

Just. Stop. It. God is not amused by your foolishness:

Eighth news item

Props to anyone willing to face their particular struggle head-on, and do the necessary hard work to know victory. No matter how small or how large the win, it will inspire the individual to keep on keeping on and inspire us to cheer them on.

Have a great weekend.

–Dana

8/10/2020

Covid and the Closing Window of Opportunity

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:58 am



[guest post by Dana]

In a new report at STAT, health experts are becoming increasingly concerned about Covid-19 and the window of opportunity closing on us before we can get a handle on the spread of the virus. After all, the cold and flu season will be upon us soon enough, and there is no end in sight for the pandemic – save for the hopes of an effective vaccine in the future:

…which is all but sure to complicate the task of figuring out who is sick with Covid-19 and who is suffering from a less threatening respiratory tract infection. It also means that cherished outdoor freedoms that link us to pre-Covid life — pop-up restaurant patios, picnics in parks, trips to the beach — will soon be out of reach, at least in northern parts of the country.

Unless Americans use the dwindling weeks between now and the onset of “indoor weather” to tamp down transmission in the country, this winter could be Dickensianly bleak, public health experts warn.

“I think November, December, January, February are going to be tough months in this country without a vaccine,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

While pharmaceutical and biotech companies are involved with vaccine development, the US Dept. of Health and Human Services projects that even with Operation Warp Speed (OWS) in effect, a vaccine will likely not be available until January 2021.

As greater Europe and Asia are currently braced for a second wave of the disease, the US is still in the first wave. States are showing no change in infection rates, a decrease in infection rates, and even some increased infection rates. To put it another way:

[M]ore than 50,000 Americans a day are being diagnosed with Covid-19. And those are just the confirmed cases.

To put that in perspective, at this rate the U.S. is racking up more cases in a week than Britain has accumulated since the start of the pandemic.

While there was hope that the virus would abate during the hot weather, that has not been the case. Experts agree that there is less risk of transmission outdoors, but heavily attended events like the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and Minnesota’s three-day rodeo demonstrates that far too many Americans still don’t take the virus seriously, are tired of the restrictions on their lives, and are throwing caution to the wind.

Public health officials are puzzled by the refusal to take the virus seriously. Kristen Ehresmann, director of infectious disease epidemiology, prevention, and control for the Minnesota Department of Health shakes her head in disbelief:

Just this idea of, ‘I just don’t want to believe it so therefore it’s not going to be true’ — honestly, I have not really dealt with that as it relates to disease before.

More concern:

Epidemiologist Michael Mina despairs that an important chance to wrestle the virus under control is being lost, as Americans ignore the realities of the pandemic in favor of trying to resume pre-Covid life.

“We just continue to squander every bit of opportunity we get with this epidemic to get it under control,’’ said Mina, an assistant professor in Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and associate medical director of clinical microbiology at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

“The best time to squash a pandemic is when the environmental characteristics slow transmission. It’s your one opportunity in the year, really, to leverage that extra assistance and get transmission under control,” he said, his frustration audible.

Meanwhile, in an effort to encourage more Americans to wear a mask, the CDC will be participating in the World Mask Week campaign, the goal of which is to encourage people around the world to embrace the use of face masks until a vaccine is available.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Pandemic Action Network are partnering with more than 40 organizations to host World Mask Week which began Friday in an effort to increase the use of face coverings across the globe.

Wearing a mask in public spaces has been stressed by medical professionals as a primary way of slowing the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Dr. Ali Nouri, President of the American Federation of Scientists, said the event will help normalize wearing a face mask.

“If you’re not masking, you’re not just putting yourself at risk but you’re putting other people at risk,” said Nouri. “The more people that understand that and realize that their well-being depends on other people doing the right thing, that’s going to generate more pressure, more momentum and more acceptability of masks.”

With that, the state of Kansas just released information about the efficacy of face masks. The results were unsurprising:

The state’s 15 counties with mandatory mask orders — including Wyandotte and Johnson counties in the Kansas City area — have seen a greater decline in coronavirus cases than the remaining 90 counties that don’t mandate them.

Since July 12, not long after counties were given the option of accepting or rejecting Gov. Laura Kelly’s mask mandate, those with mask orders have seen cases decline from about 26 to 16 per 100,000 population. Cases in counties with no mask mandate have stayed relatively flat.

In a state as geographically diverse as Kansas — the 15 mandatory-mask counties contain about two-thirds of the state’s population — there are plenty of variables. Density of population is only one of them. Still, an armchair comparison tells you that masks have made a marked difference in the Sunflower State.

All of the decline in cases, says Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Dr. Lee Norman, “comes from those counties wearing masks.”

“Masks work,” says Dr. Sanmi Areola, director of the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment. Johnson County’s average number of cases has leveled off and even declined under the mask mandate — “from a high of 116 cases per day the week of July 12 to 90 cases per day last week,” Areola told The Star Friday.

Anthony Fauci points to the need for everyone to take the virus seriously if our country is to get a handle on it:

Everyone has to work together to get cases down to more manageable levels, if the country hopes to avoid “a disastrous winter,” he said.

“I think we can get it under much better control, between now and the mid-to-late fall when we get influenza or we get whatever it is we get in the fall and the winter. I’m not giving up,” said Fauci.

But without an all-in effort “the cases are not going to come down,” he warned. “They’re not. They’re just not.”

Good luck to us.

–Dana

8/4/2020

Pandemic Or Not, Famed Motorcycle Rally Is A Go

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:18 pm



[guest post by Dana]

This just doesn’t seem like a good idea. The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is on:

More than 250,000 people are expected to rumble through western South Dakota, seeking the freedom of cruising the boundless landscapes in a state that has skipped lockdowns. The Aug. 7 to 16 event, which could be the biggest anywhere so far during the pandemic, will offer businesses that depend on the rally a chance to make up for losses caused by the coronavirus. But for many in Sturgis, a city of about 7,000, the brimming bars and bacchanalia will not be welcome during a pandemic.

In non-pandemic years, the famed rally at Sturgis usually sees around 500,000 people. But while this year’s numbers are estimated to be half that amount, we’re still talking about a quarter of a million people coming from any number of places throughout the country and descending on a small city during a ten-day period in the midst of a pandemic. Apparently, while a majority of residents were against hosting the event this year, local business leaders pushed for it, pointing to the incredible amount of money that is spent by rallygoers – especially the affluent riders with loads of cash burning a hole in their pockets:

Rallygoers have spent about $800 million in past years, according to the state Department of Tourism…

The attorney for a tourism souvenir wholesaler in Rapid City wrote to the City Council reminding that a judge found the city does not solely own rights to the rally and threatening to sue if the city tried to postpone it. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Chip, which is the largest campground and concert venue that lies outside the bounds of the city, made clear that it would hold some version of the rally.

Rod Woodruff, who operates the Buffalo Chip, said he felt he had little choice but to proceed with the rally. He employs hundreds of people in August and a smaller full-time staff.

“We spend money for 355 days of the year without any return on it, hoping people show up for nine days,” he said. “We’re a nine-day business.”

Woodruff felt he could pull off a safe event, allowing people to keep their distance from one another at the outdoor concerts at his campground. He said he was emboldened by the July 3 fireworks celebration at Mount Rushmore, where 7,500 people gathered without any reported outbreaks after the event, according to health officials.

(For comparison: the July 3 fireworks celebration was a single-day event which saw 242,500 fewer people than are expected during the 10-day Sturgis rally, which will include poker tournaments, drag races, concerts, rides, etc.)

In spite of the event being greenlit, there can be no doubt that the city recognizes that this year is like no other:

When the rally is over, every year the city weighs all the trash generated to estimate how many people showed up. This year, they will also conduct mass coronavirus testing to see if all those people brought the pandemic to Sturgis.

The City of Sturgis rally website provides attendees with instructions regarding travel restrictions on tribal lands due to Covid-19, as well providing instructions for temporary vendor and liquor license holders.

South Dakota’s current Covid-19 numbers can be found here.

–Dana


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