Saturday, March 28, 2020

Joe Biden goes sorta missing. Amazon tells an outright lie. Welcome to America!

Is this a cadaver purporting to be the living Joe Biden?
I have a slightly scary theory about Joe Biden. 

He died a week ago of the Corona Virus. He has been embalmed, stuffed, and equipped with some gears and wheels attached to a remote control device that enable his remains to wave to crowds and smile (although his jawbone still squeaks when he does.) There is a voice track that can make him utter some pleasant, utterly meaningless sounds, while his jaw swings up and down as if his lips are moving.

There seems to be no other explanation for his extremely low profile as the COVID-19 pestilence seizes the nation, kills off people, jams our hospitals, exhausts healthcare workers, crams morgues to overflowing with dead bodies, and spreads geometrically — even as Trump urges us to get out there and mingle, go back to work, and infect the living crap out of one another at church on Easter Sunday. 

Not to mention that Trump been practicing medicine without a license, all but writing an illegal prescription for "curing" the virus consisting of two parts quinine, one part Zithromax, and one ton of horse manure.

Joe, Joe, have you nothing audible to say about that? Have you no sense of outrage?  Or more importantly, have you no alternative plan?

Yes, I know you've been kvetching about something or other, albeit almost invisibly, from the safety of your home, where you've distanced yourself not only from the disease, but also from  American voters. If I wanted to find you on TV, I wouldn't know where to look. Or when.

For the love of heaven, do something Joe! Call a nationally televised press conference. Accuse Trump of treason and promise to hang him on television when you become President. Announce a 10-point virus containment program. Poop on your own dining table an invite Lindsay Graham over for lunch. Anything that will break through the miasma and let America know you're still there.

This is what we Democrats get when we choose the "safe" candidate instead of one with important ideas who stands for something beyond the obvious proposition, the proposition that Trump has to be beat. 

Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, even Amy Klobuchar, would have filled that bill, with considerably more conviction, drive, and energy. Of course Trump has to be beat, or we are all melted and charred marshmallows. But America needs something more, and Biden's remote control-animated cadaver currently isn't supplying it.

Lately there has been some talk about somehow or other substituting Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, for Joe Biden. I'm not entirely convinced that's a good idea, either. Cuomo has an inherent abrasiveness. He irritates even people who like what he's doing. And that could make him a one-term President, thus quickly returning power to the Republicans. But one thing's for sure.

Right now, Joe isn't cutting it. He's making sounds, but he isn't making any noise. And his failure to do so is just adding to the disaster that is the United States of America.

But on to another frustration.

Amazon tells an outright lie:
the thermometer follies, continued...

In a previous post I recounted how I was waiting, and waiting, and waiting for Amazon to deliver a thermometer, which I was notified had been shipped.

Well, the long wait is not over. The thermometer never arrived by the deadline that Amazon gave me for the thermometer to arrive, even though I received an e-mail from telling me "Your Amazon order...has shipped." That same e-mail told me that package would arrive between March 24th and March 27th.

 Instead, when I tried to track the package on March 28th,   I learned that "This product is being packed and will be shipped shortly." The same tracking page told me, "We're very sorry your delivery is late. Most late packages arrive in a day. If you have not received your package by April 2 you can come back here next day for a refund or replacement."

Umm Amazon? April 2 comes in seven days from March 28th, not one day. And you (or somebody acting on your behalf) lied to me and said it had shipped, whereas now you say its "being packed." Why should I believe you, when you've already lied to me? Besides, this is a thermometer, not a nuclear bomb. How long can it possibly take to pack it? I paid in excess of $9 for shipping and you can't seem to drop it in a mailbox.

If we had a functioning government in Washington D.C. I'd report this to the Federal Trade Commission, get them to roust Jeff Bezos out of whoever's bed he's in, and either credit my money back to me immediately or deliver the thermometer in person. (Yeah, sure, but you know what I mean.)  But since I have no confidence in any administrative branch under Donald Trump, I am instead reporting this matter to the entire planet, via the blogosphere.

Put that under your tongue, Bezos, and suck on it!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

THERMOMETERS ARE RED HOT! And other tiny tales of horror from Donald Trump’s dystopia

Paper towel and wet wipe hoarders are 
flushing their stashes — and it’s raising hell with
New York's plumbing. Okay, enough about that.
I ordered a thermometer from Amazon — the kind you stick in your mouth to take your temperature. I haven’t owned a thermometer for about 15 years (I’m not the feverish type) but what with Trump’s Plague threatening to zap every senior citizen in our tracks, it felt like it was time to own a thermometer again.

Ordinarily, I’d just pick one up from the drug store, but the drug store was plumb out. Seems that while cleaning out the toilet paper, the tissues, and the wet wipes, hoarders went for the thermometers, too. Hey, ya never know how much money you can get on the black market for a gross of thermometers.

Well, now I know. 

Briefly — only very briefly, but nevertheless — you could get $99 for just one of the old-fashioned glass kind with the little silver line of mercury inside. Meanwhile, cheap-looking digital jobs were also going for around a hundred bucks. 

No, I’m not talking about the kind that can take somebody’s temperature from across the street while it seizes his global coordinates, facial characteristics, and credit card numbers and forwards them to Attorney General Barr’s Dossier Cloud at Data Central. Just a crappy-looking digital thermometer.

Prices back down to 
98.6 degrees Fahrenheit

I had to scroll through three — or was it five, or was it seven? — pages of thermometers on Amazon before I found one for a somewhat reasonable price. Luckily, that all all has changed. Thank Bezos, I suppose. Either Amazon began policing its sellers, or I was hallucinating, but as of at least March 17th when I tried again, the black market seems to have been driven out of the thermometer business and Amazon is, for the most part, reflecting saner prices. Oh, and the glass thermometers were gone.

But back to St. Patrick’s day. I ordered a thermometer for $15.99 because that was the cheapest one I could find after more scrolling through more pages of thermometers than I cared to do. (There are even cheaper ones available on Amazon as of this writing. ) Amazon promised delivery “between March 24th and March 27th. That seems like a pretty wide window for a cheesey thermometer, but hey, thermometers are red hot these days. Oh, and there was a $9.25 shipping charge, which seems kind of steep for an itty-bitty thermometer, but as I said, it’s a red hot market.

Well, March 24th came and went. So did the 25th. And it’s getting pretty late on the 26th. Amazon has until tomorrow but meanwhile, would somebody please feel my forehead?

Donald has a meltdown — and
of course everybody gets fired

This story dates back to 1994. I’m bringing it up here merely to offer you reassuring evidence that Trump is not suffering from some terrible form of schizoid paranoia brought on by late stage dementia. 

On the contrary, he’s been suffering from whatever it is for more than 30 years.

According to a story that appeared in Bloomberg News, it all happened in 1994 when Trump was trying to sell the elegant Plaza Hotel in New York. Like some other major properties our very stable genius of a businessman has owned, he had managed to bankrupt it. He was frantic for a buyer. But not just a buyer. He wanted a buyer who might be willing to let Trump continue managing the business he had  just wrecked, I presume so that he could save face.

Abraham Wallach, described in the Bloomberg story as “Trump’s original fixer” finally found someone who fit that description, a crazy rich Asian family named Kwok. Walter Kwok, one of the Kwok Brothers, came to New York with his wife and kids to look over the property. Naturally he checked into the Plaza. I’ll let Bloomberg reporter Julie Satow pick up the story.
One morning, Wallach arrived to pick up the Kwoks for a day of sightseeing. He nodded to the private security guard who had been hired by the family to stand sentry outside the suite’s entrance, and then knocked on the door. There was no answer, so the security guard also knocked. 
When there was still no answer, the guard called on his walkie-talkie to another guard stationed inside the rooms. He radioed back to say that the family was stuck inside—the door had jammed. Wallach and the guard tried pushing and pulling the ancient door free from its sticky hinges. It refused to budge. As panic set in, Wallach called down to hotel security. Several men arrived with hatchets, which they used to break down the jammed door, after which the traumatized family rushed out in relief. 
Wallach took the shaken guests downstairs for tea. “We’re in the Palm Court, and there’s a violinist playing Viennese waltzes, and I started to talk to them, apologizing profusely,” Wallach told me. “I know what’s coming, so I’m listening to the Strauss waltzes, and I said, ‘I could start to cry right now.’   
Wallach held back tears as he watched his dream of selling the Plaza to the Kwoks evaporate. After he left the Kwoks, Wallach dejectedly walked the few blocks to Trump Tower to relay the bad news. 
Trump "was very calm at first. ‘A door jammed? What do you mean a door jammed?’  ” recalled Wallach. Then, “It was as if a tsunami and an earthquake had hit at the same time. There were loud shrieks from the 26th floor. ‘A door jammed? A door jammed?’   
Trump ran over to the Plaza, “and he started firing people: ‘You’re fired! You’re fired! You’re fired!’ He even fired people who didn’t work at the hotel, who were guests,” Wallach recounted.
There! I’ll bet you feel more reassured about the man in the Oval Office already.

Where’s Fauci?

On March 20th, this blog noted that Anthony Fauci, the physician and immunologist who keeps upsetting and annoying Donald Trump by telling the truth about the Corona Virus seemed to have disappeared. Then I had to append an asterisk with a line saying that he had reappeared. 

Well, now you can probably take odds he’s going to disappear again, according to some reports. No doubt that’s because he’s what a way-off-the-right-wing website called American Thinker endearingly calls“A Deep-State Hillary Clinton-loving stooge.” Or in other words, somebody in the Trump Administration who can and will actually tell the truth. No wonder they hate him.

Monday, March 23, 2020

I remember when this was hysterically funny...

...but trust Donald Trump to ruin a good laugh.

 I can forgive Donald Trump for undermining democracy, wrecking the economy, sandbagging the very notion of fact. Or of science. Or of normalcy. Or of history.

But when he spoils a great skit by making life in America more like Monty Python than Monty Python is, he's gone too damn far.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Your weekend mental illness break — and a reminder about washing your hands from William Shakespeare

No mistakes here. I meant mental illness, not mental health. These are unhealthy times, starting with the sick-o in the Oval Office.

Bye the bye, has anybody noticed that for the past three days, when the White House Corona Virus "team" addressed the nation about the plague, straight-talking Dr. Anthony Fauchi was not among the group of bobbleheads standing behind President Trump?* Perhaps it's because Fauci's head would not bobble. And thus, one might gather, it is about to roll.

That too, might be symbolized by what you are about to see. As might quite a few other things that have happened recently.  But what the hell do I know?

*He showed up in a group photograph again some time on Friday. So maybe he only had to go sit in the corner for a while.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Memorandum concerning the Great Plague of 2020

Mmm, boy! Pandemic bat for lunch!
Think about it. Some wannbe chef in Wuhan, China, decides to get creative and cooks up a wok-fried bat. The next thing you know, all of humanity is having a health crisis.

Who but a divine presence could dream up a scenario — much less make it happen — in which a diseased bat in China creates a global pandemic?

The concept is raising hell with my continuously lapsing atheism even as it simultaneously scares me witless and tickles me to pieces. It tells me that God is neither a vengeful God nor a loving God.  What we have here, friends, is a malign God with a weirdly sadistic sense of humor.

Oh, and before somebody jumps in to contradict me on the matter of the bat:

Bats, pangolins, whatever

There are probably some persnickety fusspots who will try to get technical on me and say although Corona is a bat virus, the virus somehow got transmitted from bats to pangolins — disgusting-looking animals that resemble a cross between an anteater and an armadillo — and that therefore it must be wok-fried pangolin that caused the pandemic.

Have it your way. If you ask me, somebody who’d cook and eat (or serve) a pangolin is in precisely the same category as somebody who’d do that with a bat. Or for that matter, with three day old road kill armadillo grilled on a hot automobile engine block. He or she is an idiot. Kind of like Donald Trump but without the trappings of wealth, the followers on Twitter, or the power of the United States presidency.

But enough of that. 

As I write this I am eighty years old, with an immune system as likely to be as scrambled from eight decades of wear and tear as a the brain of a prizefighter who has taken a few punches too many to the head. It’s only a matter of time — and a random cough exploding from some shmuck in the street who doesn’t know to cover his mouth with his elbow — and I’m a goner.

Meanwhile, a few random
thoughts, observations, and reports.

My brother in San Diego called me to complain. He usually does his shopping in a weekend, out-of-doors, farmers market. But in response to the Corona Pandemic, the farmer’s market has been closed. Now everybody has to go to the crowded supermarket where anybody at all could have touched, squeezed or coughed on the tomatoes, not just one farmer. And of course, shoppers have to stand practically on top of one another, breathing down each others' necks on the checkout lines in an enclosed place.

Phew! Glad we solved the stay-healthy-while-shopping problem.

Got pain? Good!
Now live with it.

Not to be outdone by San Diego freezing out farmers, the powers here in New York have ordered local hospitals not to do any elective surgery until the plague passes. That’d be fine if the rule was about tummy tucks and wrinkle lifts. Uh uh. They’re also talking about knee and hip replacements. So people in agonizing pain who can barely get around will have to suffer for some unknown length of time, losing productivity, mobility, and even the ability to get to the supermarket. 

But hey, it’ll probably be great for the opioid business.

Cash flow? No no!

The no elective surgery rule makes me wonder about the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) here in New York, the nation’s leading orthopedic and joint replacement hospital. Aside from fixing the broken and crushed bones of people who on intermittent occasions get hit by a truck or fall off a ladder, most of the work done at HSS is joint replacement. It’s a big, big hospital. What’re they going to do with all those empty beds?

Without patients, the hospital’s going to have a cash flow problem of a magnitude that causes comptrollers to jump out of windows. Maybe they can stuff the beds full of Corona Plague patients. But the hospital, to my knowledge, has no ICU, because it’s not in the intensive care business. It's in the joint replacement business. So unless there’s some sudden heavy duty renovating, the really, really sick plague victims who get brought there will essentially be brought there to die. Just sayin.’

Wow! There’s bread!
Ouch! The price!

Yesterday, finally, I was able to buy a loaf of bread. It was at my local D’Agostino supermarket. It’s a small loaf of egg challah, admittedly a specialty bread, but not all that special. It was marked up to $7.99. There were no other choices. I took it. The detergent and soap aisles shelves were still mostly empty. Not to mention toilet paper. I wonder if people are going to get charged $15 for a roll of toilet paper?

But my heart 
belongs to Brooklyn

At 8 PM this evening (Monday) all gyms, casinos and restaurants in New York State were closed, in the interest of virus containment.  (However, you can still order takeout.) In recognition of the closings, our city’s mayor, Bill DeBlasio, fired up two SUVs, one for him and one for his security detail one last time and drove all through Manhattan to his old Brooklyn neighborhood to use his favorite gym at his favorite Y. Thus he added one final unnecessary blast of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere, while contributing to the congestion that he habitually decries. He has been arrogantly unrepentant about his lengthy and very regular morning SUV travels from the Upper East Side, to Brooklyn, and thence back to lower Manhattan since he became mayor —demonstrating in yet another way that he is the very model of a modern rectal orifice.

From a column by Robin Wright
The White House announced on Saturday that President Trump’s test for the coronavirus was negative. Yet, from Brasília to Paris, Tehran to Ulaanbaatar, government officials on six continents—cabinet ministers, lawmakers, military leaders, senior policymakers, and health officials—have been infected with numbing speed by the virus. Dozens have gone into quarantine.  
Why do I have the feeling that the sadistic God with the malevolent sense of humor is saving up Donald Trump for something extra special? 

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Panic, hoarding, and profiteering in the time of the plague

One of the techniques used to discourage a range of crimes from
collaboration with the enemy to black market profiteering during WWII
I first noticed it Thursday night when I went to my closest supermarket, around the corner and just down the block, here in Manhattan. 

I was looking for a quart of milk that I could use with my breakfast Cheerios and my coffee the next morning. And a loaf of bread so that I could make sandwiches for lunch. And a bottle of Shout, the laundry stain remover, so that when I did my laundry again, I could get out the splotches I’d accidently caused on one of my polo shirts when I distractedly waved a spoonful of tomato soup.

“Social distancing” 
for the hungry

I stepped into the supermarket, one of the many in the D’Agostino chain here in New York. It looked like the day before Thanksgiving in there. The lines stretched roughly ten shoppers deep at each of the five checkout counters. Social distancing to avoid catching the Corona Virus? Hah! Not if you want to get food here in New York.

I picked up the last of the available shopping baskets. All of the others were evidently in use. Then I started making my way up the crowded aisles. They were crowded with people, not products.

Fortunately, I wasn’t shopping for meat, because there didn’t appear to be any. When I got to the milk refrigerator, I discovered there was no milk. Well, there were a few containers of pricey New Age-y stuff — oat milk, almond milk, soy milk. But real milk? 

Gone! All out. Not a quart, not a half gallon, certainly not a gallon of the real stuff. (A gallon jug would overcrowd my own refrigerator anyway.) There was no whole milk. No two percent or one percent or fat-free. Nothing. Nada.

Bread? Also gone. This particular D’Agostino has two bread sections — one for artisanal stuff like brioche loaves and uncut loaves of crusty whole wheat, and one for what the French call “industrial bread” — you know, the mass produced stuff from places like Pepperidge Farm.

Bare shelves and old symbols

Didn’t matter. The shelves were empty. Bare. All you could see was naked enameled steel, resembling the shelves I used to notice in photographs when I was a kid back in the 1940s and 1950s. They depicted supermarket shelves on a typical day in the Soviet Union, where workers stood in line for hours in the hope of finding a loaf of bread. Our own politicians and propagandists waved the photographs about, almost gleefully. 

Empty shelves were the symbol of a failed system overseen by an uncaring and incompetent government, like a Communist government. But this was the good old U.S. of A. Couldn’t happen here!

But I figured I’d at least pick up a spritz bottle of Shout. Even if I couldn’t eat my cereal or make a sandwich, I’d be able to get the stains out of my shirt.

No such luck. In the household products section everything was gone. The hand soap was gone. The bar soap was gone. The laundry detergent was gone. The bleach was gone. The toilet paper and paper towel and even paper napkin shelves were empty. And yes, the Shout was gone, too. We may all die of the Corona Virus Plague, but at least they’ll be able to bury us in spotless clothes. Whoops! Correction on that. At least they’ll be able to bury the lunatics who grabbed up all the Shout in spotless clothes.

The giant milk
storage conundrum

Will somebody please explain something to me? Where the hell — especially in the city of New York where most of us are living in fewer than 450 square feet per person and a 12-cubic foot refrigerator is borderline humongous — where the hell are these people going to store all that milk? And even if they’re living on Park Avenue with a kitchen big enough to house a Sub-Zero, stainless steel, walk-in closet of a refrigerator, how the hell are they going to drink it all before it sours?

Friday morning I got on the Internet and went to Fresh Direct, the big grocery delivery site in New York. I spent a half hour "shopping" items. Then I went to the checkout page, where I was asked to pick a delivery date. The first available date was in seven days. Seven!

So nuts to that. But seven blocks away from where I live there’s a big — no girnormous — supermarket called Fairway. Whenever I’m in there, they’re constantly stocking the shelves. And they always seem to have everything, from luxury brand soups in exotic flavors, to prime rib, to at least ten varieties of artisanal bread baked on the premises. So later on that day, I went to Fairway in search of a loaf of bread.

I might as well have searched Mars. At the artisanal bread counter, I asked where all the loaves were?  The baker shrugged. “Sold out,” he told me, walking away. The commercial bread shelves were also completely bare. 

I did notice a woman who had six one gallon jugs of water in her cart. I stopped her. I asked her, “Why are you loading up on water like that? Even if the stores run out, tap water’s perfectly safe in New York.”

“What if the virus gets into the water system?” she said. “When things get real bad, they’re gonna turn off the water.”

First of all, in order to get this particular virus into the water system, they’ll have to start drowning infected people in the reservoirs.

“What makes you think they’re going to turn off the water?” I asked her.

“Oh, I heard,” she said. In other words, who was I going to believe? Science and common sense, or her lying ears?

So much for the sophistication of my fellow New Yorkers.

Meat was nearly gone at the same Fairway. Hallelujah — there was milk! So I grabbed a bottle. 

Yes, we have no eggs

“Looking for eggs?” one sympathetic shopper said, smiling wanly. “Forget about it. They’re out of eggs.” Fortunately, they did still have a few containers of liquid egg white. I bought one.

This morning I made myself an egg white omelet and ate my last slice of bread, while reading the New York Times online. I happened to stumble across a story about some guy in the South who drove around two states buying up all the hand sanitizer a he could get his hands on at every Dollar Store and convenience outlet he could find. He emptied out the shelves. That way, nobody in his area could buy hand sanitizer at retail. Then he started selling dollar bottles of the sanitizer on Amazon for as much as $70 each, until Amazon dropped him.

“They shoot black marketers
   don’t they?”

During WWII, people like that in the United States were called black market profiteers and went to prison. Meanwhile, in parts of Europe, partisans lined them up against a wall and shot them.

There’s a lesson in there for what has to start happening in this country. While the plague lasts  people should be limited to buying a loaf or two of bread at a time. Issue ration stamps, if necessary, for everything from white bread to Clorox to toilet  paper.

As for the profiteers who are doing this stuff? Well, this isn’t wartime Europe. We can’t put them in front of firing squads.

On the other hand, where are all those defenders of waterboarding now that we need them?

Thursday, March 12, 2020

If you really want to make America great again, vote out the worst president in U.S. history

It isn't easy to be simultaneously an incompetent leader and a corrupt crook,
 but this idiot hits the all the marks as he makes America $6 trillion poorer
—and counting
So Wednesday night, reading as if he were sounding out the letters in some foreign language of which he had no comprehension, Donald Trump "reassured" the nation.

His sentences, read in a near monotone, ran into one another as if there were no punctuation between them. He projected the conviction and the confidence of a pebble.

With reassurance like that we don't need a global plague. But we've got one. And not only isn't he helping, he's hurting. This morning (Wednesday) the stock market took yet another turn south. Where the Dow a short while ago was in the 27,000 area, it was at 21,550 the last time today I could look at it without vomiting.

The financial markets are, shall we say, not pleased?

"Sell signal: Trump's shallow virus plan blows floor out of markets," reported the apolitical financial wire of Reuters. Feel free to read the whole horror story, but here are a few choice excerpts:

That [Trump's announced efforts] fell way short of market expectations for relief from an outbreak that has spread to 122 countries, infected more than 126,000 people, sowed fears of a world recession and wiped about $6 trillion off the U.S. stock market. 
Even expectations that Trump would try to fix the delays in getting U.S. virus testing up to speed were dashed. 
“I am just left speechless for Trump to say this is the most comprehensive plan,” said Rob Carnell, chief Asia-Pacific economist at ING in Singapore. 
“Without all the additional testing and tracing and containment measures that certainly aren’t taking place in the United States, it’s just a PR stunt.
White House tries to criminalize
reporting on what it's up to

Of course, when you're doing the lousiest job of President in the history of United States Presidents, your first instinct might be to try to bottle up any information that demonstrates how awfully you're doing. 

Yup. Charlie Warzel of the New York Times noticed that, too.
On Wednesday, Reuters reported that the White House told officials at the Department of Health & Human Services to classify coronavirus deliberations, adding a layer of secrecy to the government’s response
Right. Are hundreds of thousands of people getting sick? That's classified. Does the Trump Administration have no credible plan to deal with the matter? Say too much about it and you might go to prison for revealing classified information. There, that'll fix the problem!

But you can still play
golf on a Trump course

At first, one of the most puzzling aspects of Trump's address to the nation was why he banned travelers from the parts of Europe called the Schengen Area, but excepted travel to and from England, which is having plenty of Corona Virus problems of its own, and Ireland. Fortunately, Politico cleared up that matter.
The United Kingdom, which is home to Trump Turnberry and Trump International Golf Links, and Ireland, which is home to another Trump-branded hotel and golf course at Doonbeg, do not participate in the Schengen Area. Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania are also not part of the Schengen Area. All three of the resorts are struggling financially.
Any questions?

Saturday, March 07, 2020

Elizabeth Warren still can be President. Hear me out.

Elizabeth Warren — or some other woman — can still be President of the United States. And she can hold that office before 2024. Here's why.

Of the three most likely Presidential candidates — Sanders and Biden for the Democrats, Trump for the Republicans — all three will be in their late seventies or early eighties before his term ends in 2024.

Trump, currently 73, is obese, lives on ingested cholesterol, and is often in a blood pressure-raising rage. 

Sanders, currently 78, has already had a heart attack. 

Biden, who is 77, utters attempts at sentences that lurch down the garden path, tripping over syntactical rocks and logs as they rush head-on toward the gaffe pool. 

Given the stress of being president, what are the chances that any of these guys will be alive and in possession of all his marbles by 2024?

If there ever was a presidency when the man in the White House was likely to be succeeded by the vice-president before the end of his term, the coming one is it. It’s not guaranteed. But you could probably get stupendous odds on it.*

At this point it looks like Biden is the likely Democratic nominee. Democrats should get on Biden’s case to name Warren as his Vice-Presidential running mate. No ifs, no buts, no maybes. We should insist on it. Demand it. Reason with Joe that Elizabeth can bring along the left wing of the party. Or bully him into it if he won’t listen to reason.

And then we’d better work like hell to get that Biden-Warren ticket elected. Otherwise, the next President of the United States, after Donald Trump, will be Nikki Haley, probably in 2022 or 2023.

And by the way, Mike Pence, you read that right. You can save everybody some time and effort if you lie down in the middle of the road now. Donald Trump’s bus, with Nikki behind the wheel, will be along to run you over any minute.

*I hasten to add that you are not reading the ageist sputtering of some wet-behind-the-ears junior pundit.  I am older than any of these guys. I was in fine shape at 76. Even at 78. Trust me, all of a sudden I became very much aware of my own mortality, and also of  a slew of physical limitations that came into my life without bothering to knock. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

If you see something, you’d better be a Republican. Plus: virus-brained beerheads! Plus: Sonofabeach! Isn’t that your house washing into the ocean thanks to Donald Trump?

Current poster in New York City, encouraging anonymous crime tips. Note that 
tipsters are not required to be “unbiased.” 
True story to set the scene: In 1952, a 24-year-old clothing salesman named Arnold Schuster was found shot to death in Brooklyn. Well, not merely shot to death. He had been shot twice in the “groin,” as the somewhat prudish news media of the day delicately put it, and then once in each eye. 

It was clearly a revenge killing. Schuster had spotted a prison escapee, the bank robber Willie Sutton, and had phoned in a tip to the police. Willie got caught. Alas, Schuster’s name wasn’t kept secret. From evidence that emerged some years later, it appears as if Albert Anastasia, a Mafia capo ordered the hit to deliver a message: The underworld doesn’t like whistleblowers. So if you don’t want to lose your testicles, and then your eyes and your life, zip it. If you see something, say nothing.

The mafioso in the White House

This brings me to Donald Trump, his little lickspittle legal lapdogs, and their followers. They are  demanding, in contravention of Federal law, the public exposure of the whistleblower who tipped off an Inspector General about Donald Trump’s extortion of Ukrainian President Zelensky. The extortion was an attempt to pressure Zelensky into announcing an “investigation” of Joe Biden.

What’s upsetting the Trump followers? I quote from the comments section of one of the right wing blogs that I peruse from time to time spy on the other side.
By the time that the members of the House were getting together to vote on impeachment, the whistle-blower should have been identified long since (while of course being under protection — if deemed necessary) and be subject to questioning, friendly or otherwise.
 Why should one call witnesses when the first, and the main, witness is not allowed to testify and be questioned?
 Here’s why. The whistleblower does not function in this case as a witness. He is merely a tipster, somebody who, like Arnold Schuster, saw something and said something. Same as you might do if you saw a bank robbery or mugging in progress and called 911. Or if you noticed an abandoned and suspicious looking package in an airline terminal. 

The whistleblower has given no testimony in the impeachment proceedings. He or she merely let let it be known where the people who enforce the law, ultimately Congress in this case, might look for evidence. The whistleblower is not an accuser whom Donald Trump has a right to confront. Adam Schiff, Jerold Nadler and their Congressional committees are the accusers, and Trump was too chicken to confront them under oath.

Nor is a tipster a member of jury, required to be impartial. I don’t have to like crooks and terrorists, or even be neutral on the topic of crooks and terrorists, to let the cops know where a crook or terrorist is hiding. All I have to do is to be a good citizen and, having seen something, to say something.

Like a mafioso capo — in fact, precisely like the mafioso in the Arnold Shuster case — Donald Trump is furious that a tipster ratted him out. He and the right wing ranters want the poor whistleblower’s testicles shot off, plus a bullet in each eyeball. Or some high tech equivalent of that.

Please explain to me again, Republicans, why it’s such a good thing to have a Mafia thug in the White House?

But on to another subject.

Viruses, beer, brainlessness, and Bernie

You can’t make this stuff up: 

A PR agency claims that a lot of people are cutting back on Corona beer because it shares the same name as the Corona virus.

The agency is called 5W Public Relations. It is insisting that “38% of beer-drinking Americans would not buy Corona under any circumstances now.”

Do I believe this? More or less. Was it P T Barnum or was it H L Mencken who declared that nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public?

So let this be the final warning to Bernie Sanders: Lots of people are too dimwitted to know the difference between a label and the thing the label is pasted to. A significant majority of people want Medicare for all, free tuition at public universities, a living minimum wage, forgiveness of crushing college loan debts, and on and on. But if you keep on labeling this stuff “socialism” much of the public won’t swallow it. For that matter, they wouldn’t drink any beer that said “Socialism” on the label, either. Or accept free tuition to a university named Virus State.

You’ve got two choices, Bernie. Find another name for what you believe in. Or drown.

Incidental note: Forty percent of Americans are with Trump, do or die. Thirty-eight percent won’t drink a beer called Corona. That’s pretty much the same percentage, within a reasonable margin of error. Not that I’m saying anything about the intelligence of Trump voters. Or saying that Trump voters are necessarily the same people who won’t drink Corona. I’m just saying.

How come Donald Trump has
your sand in his shoes?

Fire Island is a long, long, very long sand bar of a barrier island that runs parallel to the south shore of Long Island. There are several small communities of beach loving homeowners on Fire Island, who congregate there in the summer to enjoy the ocean surf and the salt air. These are not, for the most part, the multi-millionaires and billionaires who populate the Hamptons, on the other side of the bay that Fire Island creates. Some of the homes on Fire Island aren’t even heated. The Fire Island communities consist mostly of middle class people. They are for the most part prosperous, but a long way from filthy rich, and they’ve sunk a big hunk of their net worth into shaky beach houses.

And I do mean shaky. A good many of the houses are built on stilts, to prevent flooding and destruction when hurricanes and powerful waves suck up the sand under the houses and drag it out to sea.

So periodically, the Army Corps of Engineers has to dredge sand out of the ocean and put it back on the beach for the protection of Fire Island’s homeowners, and even more importantly, for the sake of preserving this barrier island. If the Fire Island barrier goes, billions of dollars worth of property and infrastructure on Long Island itself would go next, and millions of suburban lives would be interrupted or ruined.

Little wonder that back in January, the Army Engineers dredgers were hard at work replacing Fire Island’s sand. But suddenly they stopped cold. Before they were finished, the dredging machinery got towed away to….why Palm Beach, Florida, of course. The dredging spot is reportedly very, very close to Mar a Lago, Donald Trump’s private property, which may be having some erosion problems of its own.

Will the dredgers come back to Fire Island? Who knows? Even if they come back to their interrupted job, will they be back before hurricane season, in time to save the small homeowners? That's anybody's guess. What’s really, really important about this, you middle class beach house owners, is this: 

You wouldn’t want salt water ruining the grass around the ninth hole at Mar a Lago, would you?