Why should you wear a mask? Wrongo’s FB friend (an MD) explained it well:
“We don’t wear the mask to keep ourselves safe or even to make other people comfortable. We wear masks so the germs that spill out of the holes in our faces via water droplets and aerosols get caught in the mask and don’t get into other people’s eyes, nose or mouth or land on their wounds, clothes, hands or face….That way transmissions end with us. We stop the spread and can go about life almost like usual. Masks are also a great visual reminder of what’s going on…people stay back a bit. I actually wonder if that visual reminder is what so many people hate about masks. Do they want to pretend this is not happening or not a big deal or that they aren’t utterly failing society in every way?”
“Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are about twice as likely as Republicans and Republican leaners to say that masks should be worn always (63% vs. 29%). Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to say that masks should rarely or never be worn (23% vs. 4%).
Republicans also are less likely than Democrats to say they have worn masks in stores or other businesses always or most of the time in the past month.”
Fact Tank says that only 49% of conservative Republicans say they have worn a mask all or most of the time in the past month, compared with 60% of moderate Republicans.
All of this explains where the virus is expanding:
Wearing a mask is more threatening than an attack by terrorists:
Europe thinks we should wear masks:
A tough year gets tougher:
Times like these call for better drinking choices:
The presidential race is shaping up to be a real fight:
Mt. Rainer from the Whiteriver campground – 2020 photo by np2fast
Good morning fellow disease vectors!
Now that Florida and Texas have again closed their bars, you’re probably wondering: “Can Joe Biden’s lead in the polls get any bigger”?
Here’s your answer. On Thursday, the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to invalidate the Affordable Care Act. They did this without any plan for replacing it, at what appears to be the height of new cases of the COVID pandemic. From Charlie Pierce:
“Imagine, for a moment, you’re a Republican. You already know that your party has hitched its wagon to the biggest ass in the history of American politics, and that he has proceeded to bungle a response to the worst public health crisis in a century, touching off a deep recession in the bargain….Perhaps you’re thinking to yourself this morning, y’know, maybe this isn’t the best historical moment to take healthcare away from tens of millions of Americans.”
Political gurus say that timing is everything.
Trump is doing this despite the fact that 487,000 new people signed up with HealthCare.gov last month after losing their company-provided health insurance coverage because of the pandemic-induced recession. That was an increase of 46% in sign-ups compared to the same month last year.
And Trump’s trying this stunt in the week when the US hit a new record for the highest daily total of reported COVID-19 cases – more than 45,500! He’s picked the perfect time to try again to throw an estimated 20 million Americans off of their insurance coverage.
This has been the GOP plan all along: we’re trimming the rolls of people on entitlement programs. We’re doing it through the courts, through legislation and by allowing the COVID-19 infection to spread.
It’s no longer clear which is the greater threat to lives in America: The Coronavirus, or Donald Trump.
This should remind all of us that we need to make Medicare for All, or another form of single payer insurance, a top priority after the November election.
“Amazingly, he [Trump] still hasn’t grasped the most basic fact of this [COVID] crisis: to fix the economy we have to get control over the virus. He’s like a child who can’t believe this has happened to him. All his whining & self-pity…his job is to do something about it.”
We desperately need new leadership. Maybe we’ll get it next January.
Now it’s time to forget the Sahara Dust storm for a few minutes. You should also ignore the fact that the Dixie Chicks changed their name to “The Chicks”. How exactly does THAT rebranding improve our world, or their career?
Time to take our masks off, sit at an appropriate physical distance, and kick back: It’s time for our Saturday Soother.
Now find a comfortable lawn chair, and settle in to listen to “Summertime”, written by George and Ira Gershwin, and Dubose Edwin Heyward, in 1935. It’s performed here by George Winston from his album “Restless Wind”:
It was also memorably performed by the late, great Sam Cooke in 1957, released as the B-side on the single of Cooke’s big hit, “You Send Me”.
Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.
Last Tuesday, VP Pence rejected the idea that the country was seeing a second spike in coronavirus cases as the pandemic continued. He wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal, entitled “There Isn’t a Coronavirus ‘Second Wave’”.
Maybe he thinks that’s the case.
The US and the EU have comparable populations, but the current state of their respective COVID-19 outbreaks are vastly different. New data released by the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention show that there are around 3,000 new COVID cases in the EU each day.
It looks like a second US wave is on its way, regardless of what Pence or Trump says. Everything out of the White House on the pandemic has been bullshít. The pandemic has revealed that we have no leadership, no self-control, and no willingness to sacrifice for the common good.
The federal government’s response to the virus has been misguided. We could have undertaken a national effort to produce N95 masks for every person. With those masks, which reduce the chances of inhaling the virus by 95%, along with proper instructions on how to wear and handle them, the country could have remained open, and people remained safe. Of course, that assumes mask wearing isn’t considered an affront to our freedoms.
Now, the country has opened back up. We are almost as ill-prepared as when the pandemic started. Many of us have gone back to our former ways, pretending the virus is gone. Yes, we can go back to work, but we need the protection of high-quality masks.
(Blogging for the rest of the week will be light and variable, as Wrongo and Ms. Right embark on our first trip since COVID entered our lives)
Wrongo’s initial reaction to the smaller-than-expected crowd in Tulsa on Saturday was that quite a few Trump supporters actually had common sense, despite what they might have said to the press about COVID.
“Mary Jo Laupp, a 51-year-old from Fort Dodge, Iowa, said she had been watching black TikTok users express their frustration about Mr. Trump hosting his rally on Juneteenth. (The rally was later moved to June 20.) She “vented” her own anger in a late-night TikTok video on June 11 — and provided a call to action. ‘I recommend all of those of us that want to see this 19,000-seat auditorium barely filled or completely empty go reserve tickets now, and leave him standing there alone on the stage’….When she checked her phone the next morning…the video was starting to go viral. It has more than 700,000 likes, she added, and more than two million views.”
This will be spun many ways over the next few days, but a few days ago, the campaign claimed the equivalent of a quarter of Oklahoma’s population had requested a ticket. Today, they blamed invisible Antifa’s for both the cancellation of the planned overflow outdoor speech, and that the indoor venue was not even half full.
This shows how far the Trump campaign has to go in the next 132 days.
Today’s real topic is AG Barr’s firing of the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), Geoffrey Berman. First, Berman was asked to resign, and he refused to comply. Then Barr said that Trump had fired Berman, so Berman then agreed to leave.
Wrongo has no position on Berman’s worth as a federal prosecutor. He was the Assistant US Attorney for the SDNY while Rudy Giuliani was the US Attorney. He later became a partner at the law firm, Greenberg Traurig. Still later, Rudy Giuliani also joined Greenberg Traurig.
Berman’s dismissal seems to be either questionable judgment, or an effort to obstruct ongoing investigations. We’re way past the point of optics. Trump and Barr are in a scramble to do ANYTHING to get re-elected. Their hope is to keep the conspiracy going for four more years.
And their latest effort, to short-circuit the ongoing criminal investigations of Trump’s affiliates and associates, is only the most recent evidence. If Barr continues down this road, he will make John Mitchell, Nixon’s disgraced attorney general, who did time for his transgressions, look like a man of principle.
When Barr was up for Senate confirmation, he was the old Washington hand everyone respected and who, we were assured, had nothing but respect for the law. Now it’s clear that he’s someone who had a pedigree and the right connections, but no moral center.
Time to Wake up America! None of Trump’s people have a moral center. We have a few weeks remaining to register and turn out voters in such overwhelming numbers that these bastards are thrown out of office.
Tulsa, Oklahoma, June 20, 2020: Come because you love Trump. Leave with the Trump virus. Wrongo isn’t a futurist, but as this is written on Saturday, there’s reason to be concerned that there may be an increase in COVID-19 infections in Tulsa:
“Six of President Trump’s staffers, who were part of the campaign’s advance team for the president’s Saturday rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, have been quarantined after testing positive for the novel coronavirus…”
Wrongo has a bad feeling about the aftermath:
People are coming from several states, some with rapidly-rising hospitalizations
It’s indoors, with no way to effectively distance
There will be cheering, singing, and chanting
Some attendees will have spent hours, possibly days interacting with each other outside the venue, and will spend an hour or two in line just to get in
These aren’t people who have a belief in masking and distancing
Morning surf casting, Nauset Off Road Beach, Orleans MA – May 2020 photo by Chef Bob
Happy Summer Solstice fellow disease vectors!
The political scene remains in flux. There are 135 days to go until the November election, and while things look encouraging for Biden, there’s plenty of time for Trump to mount a successful counter-attack. We’ll see the start of that effort tonight in Tulsa.
The 2020 Senate races are the most important to Wrongo. If Biden wins, Democrats need to pick up just three seats to control the Senate. If Biden loses, they need four seats, actually five, since Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) is likely to lose his seat.
The Cook Political Report just moved Montana Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock’s race against incumbent GOP Sen. Steve Daines to toss-up status from “leans Republican”. A race of the two Steves. Daines won the seat in 2014 by 18 points.
Montana has become competitive in part due to Bullock’s successful handling of the COVID-19 issue, and because the pandemic has limited campaigning. Bullock has seen his approval ratings rise to 75% in one poll. Montana has one of the lowest per capita infection rates (49th out of 50), with only 20 deaths as of June 17, and Bullock has gotten credit for closing the state early. From Cook:
“Recent private Democratic polling in the contest gives Bullock a small lead and finds that Bullock’s approval ratings are more than 20 points higher than Daines…”
That’s fine, but Cook also reports that:
“GOP polling also shows that it’s a close race, but one where every internal poll for them has still shown Daines leading. “
Remember that Trump won Montana by 20 points in 2016. Democrats argue that Biden isn’t as toxic in Montana as Hillary Clinton was in 2016, and that Obama only lost the state by 2 points in 2008, so if Biden could get close, he’ll help Bullock.
Bullock has outraised Daines by about $2.1 million in the first fundraising quarter, and again outraised Daines ahead of the June 2 primary by a nearly two-to-one margin. But Daines retains a $1.6 million cash on hand advantage.
The national state of play: There are now five GOP Senate seats rated as toss-ups: Daines, Susan Collins in Maine, Cory Gardner in Colorado, Thom Tillis in NC and Martha McSally in Arizona.
There are another four Republican seats in play, albeit where they have leads in the polls. Both Georgia senators (Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue), Joni Ernst in Iowa, and Kansas’s open seat could swing to the Dems. That totals nine Republican Senate seats within reach.
Notice that Mitch McConnell (R-KY) isn’t in the Dem’s competitive column.
If you gave money to centrist Democrat Amy McGrath, she’s trailing progressive opponent Charles Booker in the polls for the chance to go against McConnell despite raising $41 million.
It’s nearly certain that the GOP picks up Jones’s (AL) Senate seat. They’re expecting to hold on to the four seats above, so the Dems would have to win all five of the toss-ups to gain Senate control if Trump won reelection.
That could be a heavy lift. Remember that the GOP gained two Senate seats in 2018, despite the Democratic wave moving control of the House to the Democrats.
Enough calculating about what may be happening in a few months. It’s time for our Saturday Soother!
The summer solstice is Wrongo’s least favorite day of the year, since the days start growing shorter tomorrow. Temperatures at the Mansion of Wrong look to be in the high 80s to low 90s for the next week, so summer seems to have finally arrived.
In honor of summer let’s make a cold brew. Try The Dredger ($16/12oz.) from Jersey City, NJ’s Modcup brewers. The Dredger is said to have a deep toffee like sweetness and a slight fruity undertone. Note that Modcup refuses to sell any coffee 18 days after its roast date.
Now take your cold brew, settle back at an appropriate physical distance, and enjoy the hot sun. Today, you can hear a classic pop song that speaks about the power of “dreamers” in honor of the Supreme Court’s decision on DACA.
Here is Carly Simon’s “Let the River Run” from the 1989 soundtrack of the movie “Working Girl”. Simon won an Oscar and a Golden Globe for it. At the link, you’ll see throwback haircuts and shoulder pads on women’s clothes from the 1980s and a few poignant scenes of the WTC:
We’re coming to the edge
Running on the water
Coming through the fog
Your sons and daughters
Let the river run
Let all the dreamers
Wake the nation
Come, the New Jerusalem
Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.
A few distressing stories about police and their relationship to our society came up in the past few days. First, the NYTreported on a claim that anti-police employees at a NYC Shake Shack restaurant had “intentionally poisoned” three officers who ordered milkshakes.
The story was initially broken by the Detectives’ Endowment Association in New York, who claimed on Twitter that the officers had been targets of an attack:
“Tonight, three of our fellow officers were intentionally poisoned by one or more workers at the Shake Shack…”
The NY Police Benevolent Association (PBA) chimed in, insisting that the attack was part of a larger, nefarious anti-police crusade:
“When NYC police officers cannot even take a meal without coming under attack, it is clear that [the] environment in which we work has deteriorated to a critical level. We cannot afford to let our guard down for even a moment.”
Numerous media outlets then reported that NYC officers had been poisoned on purpose.
But, the story was misleading. NYPD found that no crime had been committed. The problem may have been that the milkshake machine wasn’t properly cleaned. Eric Boehlert:
“The false story played right into a right-wing fantasy portrayal of police critics and the Black Lives Matter mindset — the idea that activists are plotting ways to poison and kill members of law enforcement….the mainstream media is too quick to buy into the false portrait and to embrace bogus stories that support that characterization.”
So much paranoia. Who knew police are such snowflakes?
The WaPo reported that Vince Champion, the southeast regional director of the International Brother of Police Officers said:
“This is not an organized thing, it’s not a blue flu, it’s not a strike, it’s nothing like that…What it actually is, is officers protesting that they’ve had enough and they don’t want to deal with it any longer.”
The “blue flu” is a de facto police strike in which a large group of officers simultaneously call in sick. Essential state employees, like police and first responders, are legally forbidden from actually walking out on the job in many jurisdictions.
These police are protesting about no longer being automatically above the law in Atlanta. This is a form of extortion by some police who fail to perform their duty; it is another form of abuse that is being shown by elements of the police in our nation. Trump gave them air support on Fox News:
“I hope he [the former officer] gets a fair shake because police have not been treated fairly in our country…”
Once again, the myth that police are the real victims persists. The road to reform will be long and torturous. We will not succeed in reforming the police by calling it “defunding”, or “reimagining” them. We have to start by taking away their military style weapons and by holding them accountable for their actions.
In other words, we have to defang the police.
Law enforcement has simply been allowed by towns and cities to rot. The problem has lasted because people of color are the police’s primary targets. White people aren’t harassed by the police anywhere near as much as people of color. So if something doesn’t affect you, you tend to ignore the problem, or do nothing to eliminate it.
Cops and their supporters keep going on and on about the supposed “good apples”. Yet those supposed good cops seemingly keep protecting the “bad apples”. How is it possible for them to be “good cops” when they keep protecting the bad guys.
We have to start by DEFANGING the police, but it won’t be easy.
Let’s remember that the last person to successfully break up the police was Sting.
Genesee River, Letchworth State Park, 60 miles southeast of Buffalo NY – photo by Donnelly585
Trump’s crusade against Vote by Mail is hard to explain. He of course, votes by mail. And, there’s every reason to believe that in the battleground states, he might benefit from it. From the Washington Monthly: (brackets by Wrongo)
“According to the Florida Department of State’s Division of Elections, [in 2016] 1,080,808 Republicans cast their votes by mail compared to 1,053,254 Democrats– a net advantage of 27,554.”
Trump ultimately won Florida by about 113,000 votes, not a truly significant margin going into 2020.
Trump world is taking what their leader says about vote by mail very seriously. The Detroit News reported that this happened last Friday:
“People burned letters informing them that they can vote by absentee ballot in future elections during a protest near Grand Rapids. The applications were burned…during an event called Operation Incinerator….Many people had flags, shirts and signs showing support for President Donald Trump and Republicans.”
The protestors were offended that Michigan’s Secretary of State mailed absentee ballot applications to all registered voters. They may have been misled by Trump’s false claim that actual ballots were mailed instead of what was mailed: applications for ballots.
But, it’s widely believed on the Right that making voting easier benefits Democrats.
At stake for both Parties is what an expansion of mail-in voting this summer means for the November election. If more people vote by mail now, they will likely prefer to vote the same way in the fall. Trump has said:
“Mail ballots, they cheat. People cheat.… Mail ballots are a very dangerous thing for this country because they’re cheaters.”
Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania are all vital to Trump’s reelection, and he is sabotaging himself in each of them. It’s important to remember that Trump won those states by a total of just 77,000 votes. Those states all have subsequently amended their election laws to be more permissive for absentee ballots.
Floridians may be less influenced because so many there are already used to voting by mail.
It seems to be an article of faith on the Right that voter suppression is a key to victory, but that seems to have backfired in Georgia. Urban polling stations were subject to serious problems. So you’d think that making urban voters wait several hours to vote would discourage them, that many would give up and leave.
“Democratic turnout in Georgia’s primaries skyrocketed — with three times as many votes cast in the Senate primary as in 2016. With 91 percent of the vote in as of Friday, nearly 960,000 voters had cast ballots in the Democratic Senate primary race won by Jon Ossoff, compared to 310,000 who voted in the Senate primary in 2016.”
It appears that for every Georgia vote the Republicans tried to suppress through active and passive means, they somehow created several more actual votes! This result doesn’t make their tactics any less odious, but it calls into question whether as constituted, they actually will work in November.
Bright Angel Trail, in the middle foreground, Grand Canyon NP – photo by glowrocks
The chickens are coming home to roost. Michael Flor was originally the longest-hospitalized COVID-19 patient. Somehow, he survived. He came close enough to death that a night-shift nurse held a phone to his ear while his wife and kids said their final goodbyes.
Today, he’s recovering at home in West Seattle, WA. That’s the good news. The bad news is that he just got the bill. From the Seattle Times:
“The total tab for his bout with the coronavirus:…$1,122,501.04, to be exact. All in one bill that’s more like a book because it runs to 181 pages.”
More from the Seattle Times:
“…the charge for his room in the intensive care unit was billed at $9,736 per day. Due to the contagious nature of the virus, the room was sealed and could only be entered by medical workers wearing plastic suits and headgear. For 42 days he was in this isolation chamber, for a total charged cost of $408,912.
He also was on a mechanical ventilator for 29 days, with the use of the machine billed at $2,835 per day, for a total of $82,215. About a quarter of the bill is drug costs.”
Those charges don’t include the two weeks of recuperating he did in a rehabilitation facility.
Since Flor has Medicare, it is unclear how much he will actually have to pay out of pocket. Further, since Congress set aside more than $100 billion to help hospitals and insurance companies defray the costs of the pandemic, it’s possible that Mr. Flor may not have to pay even the out-of-pocket charges normally billed by his Medicare Advantage policy, but that remains to be seen.
The insurance industry has estimated treatment costs of COVID-19 could top $500 billion, so unless Congress steps up with more money, co-pays for COVID will soon become injurious.
One outcome of the pandemic may be that America takes a closer look at universal health insurance. There are many detractors in Congress, but the sticker shock that so many families will see from COVID-19 cases may restart the discussion. Medicare for all could work: A single payer with a set system of prices would be good for employers and employees alike.
It will be hard. Universal health insurance is such a tough problem to solve that only 31 out of 32 developed nations have managed to do it.
“Officers were called to the restaurant after receiving a complaint about a man asleep in his vehicle, which forced other customers to go around his car to get their food at the window. The man, Atlanta resident Rayshard Brooks, was given a field sobriety test, which he reportedly failed…”
Brooks grabbed a cop’s Taser. More:
“…surveillance footage from the Wendy’s appeared to show Brooks turn toward the police and attempt to fire the Taser as he ran away. That’s when the officer chasing Brooks pulled out his gun and shot him…”
Tasers are a form of de-escalation instead of using firearms. The Taser momentarily incapacitates, but ultimately doesn’t threaten life. So shouldn’t it follow that if a suspect steals a cop’s Taser and threatens to use it, the cop can’t just shoot him dead since he’s being threatened by an ultimately harmless weapon?
The cops had his car, it’s likely they knew where he lived. They could have picked him up at any time. Instead, they killed him. The police tried to do something, the suspect resisted, and in the heat of the moment, the cop escalated to show that he’s in charge. It was a terrible reason to kill someone.
Time to wake up America! We have both out-of-control policing and out-of-control capitalism harming our society. To help you wake up, listen to Sly and the Family Stone’s 1969 song, “Everyday People”. This is Playing for Change again, along with Turnaround Arts students. Trust Wrongo and watch:
Sometimes I’m right and I can be wrong
My own beliefs are in my song
The butcher, the banker, the drummer and then
Makes no difference what group I’m in
I am everyday people, yeah, yeah
And different strokes for different folks
And so on and so on and scooby dooby doo-bee
Ooh, sha sha
We got to live together
I am no better and neither are you
We are the same whatever we do
Of course there was racism back in 1968, but the musicians were preaching integration. Despite the racism back then, people were optimistic. Compare that to today.
Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.
Is “Defund the Police” a gift, or a curse for the GOP?
Irony is lost on the police:
The fight continues:
Wrongo is somewhat conflicted about the statues. OTOH, the Confederacy only lasted for five years. It isn’t Ireland where families lived and died fighting for their freedom from England for centuries. The band Nirvana lasted two years longer than the Confederacy. People who say they’re proud of five years of an ancestor’s life really are just white supremacists. They should stop pretending there’s something else they like.