Jerks

Yeah, it’s all about Broadway but the situations apply to a lot of “real life” choices people are going to be forced to make soon.

Oh, scare quotes around “real life”. Even though I live in Stars Hollow and as I say New York is right over there and Boston about the same in the other direction, my involvement with live Theater is limited to financing off, off, off, off, off Broadway productions. I’ve never been to a Broadway show and probably never will be. I dunno, I might like Cursed Child because Harry Potter but it’s easily $250 considering food and tickets and transportation so… I’ll wait until the Movie version comes out on video if it’s all the same to you.

Poll Shows One Hurdle to Reopening Broadway: Fear of Jerks
By Julia Jacobs, The New York Times
May 26, 2020

New Yorkers are decidedly reluctant to return to Broadway shows in September, according to a new poll, but they are significantly more willing to go by the end of the year — as long as certain safeguards are in place.

And for the hesitant, their single greatest concern is their fellow audience members, who they worry will show up without masks or ignore social distancing rules.

A New York Times/Siena College Research Institute poll, administered to New York State voters between May 17 and May 21, sought to gauge how soon New Yorkers would be comfortable attending live performances like Broadway shows. It showed a wariness of attending live theater performances, and pop and classical music concerts if they were to resume around Sept. 1, as well as a high bar for social distancing at venues that some industry leaders say it would not be possible for them to meet.

Many of the nation’s biggest live performance producers and presenters have given up on the idea of fall shows, setting their sights instead on 2021, and the poll suggests that they have taken the right read on just how ready their audiences are to come back.

Charlotte St. Martin, the president of the Broadway League, a trade organization representing producers and theater owners, said she was not surprised that a core group of people were expressing an interest in returning by the fall.

“My inbox is full of people saying, ‘Hurry up, I’m ready,’” she said, then added, “But we won’t come back before it is safe.”

Creating that feeling of safety is the hurdle live performance producers must clear to get some people to return. And for many people, the main obstacles are their fellow audience members.

For Broadway attendees who say they aren’t likely to return any time soon, the reason, in large part, is a lack of trust that others in the audience will adhere to safety protocols: that a man in row M will refuse to cover his nose and mouth, that a woman standing in line at will-call would stand too close to the person in front of her.

According to the poll, 58 percent of New Yorkers who attended at least one Broadway show in 2019 but did not report that they were very likely to return this year said that they did not trust others to adhere to social distancing. Fifty-five percent gave as a reason that they did not trust others to wear masks. These concerns trumped two other concerns they were surveyed about: “getting there would not be safe for me” and “just being in the theater district is too much for me right now.”

Some 72 percent of those polled said that for them to attend a live performance this year it would be necessary for the venue to sell tickets so that audience members were separated by six feet. And the vast majority of people — 90 percent — would require professional cleaners to disinfect the theater or concert hall in between shows.

Arts organizations that are struggling financially because of the mass cancellation of programming will have to weigh whether these kinds of safeguards will make financial sense. For Broadway and opera, industry leaders have said that a socially distanced model would be untenable as it might require shows that are expensive to produce and often lose money in the best of times to sell only a fraction of their seats.

The challenge for theaters is, “How can they make those people feel safe and still be financially viable?” Dr. Levy said.

Ms. St. Martin said the Broadway League was exploring every safety protocol from temperature checks to drones that disperse disinfectant. Social distancing, however, “won’t work for Broadway,” she said.

The poll asked respondents to answer how often they attended a variety of live performance events in 2019 — with 55 percent reporting that they went to at least one or two pop concerts and 35 percent saying they went to classical music concerts, dance performances or operas that often. Some 43 percent said they went to see at least one or two Broadway shows last year.

Roughly 38 percent of New Yorkers who attended at least one live performance in 2019 said that they would be very likely or somewhat likely to return to those cultural events around Sept. 1. Fall was not as daunting a prospect for the sports fans who said that they went to at least one or two games last year. Some 48 percent of those fans said they would be likely to return around Sept. 1, perhaps because many of those venues are outdoors.

New Yorkers showed even more of a willingness to return to museums, which may have an easier time establishing a safe environment with timed ticketing and reduced capacity. Fifty-six percent of those polled said that they were very likely, or somewhat likely, to visit this year, assuming that museums were able to implement social distancing. Reopening dates for those institutions have been something of a moving target, but many upstate museums have been preparing themselves to welcome visitors as soon as the governor’s reopening plan allows.

It’s New York. If you live around there you kind of expect people to be assholes and are pleasantly surprised if they’re not.

Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news media and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Paul Krugman: In Praise of Fallible Leaders

We need a president who can admit it when he’s wrong.

Last week Joe Biden made an off-the-cuff joke that could be interpreted as taking African-American votes for granted. It wasn’t a big deal — Biden, who loyally served Barack Obama, has long had a strong affinity with black voters, and he has made a point of issuing policy proposals aimed at narrowing racial health and wealth gaps. Still, Biden apologized.

And in so doing he made a powerful case for choosing him over Donald Trump in November. You see, Biden, unlike Trump, is capable of admitting error.

Everybody makes mistakes, and nobody likes admitting having been wrong. But facing up to past mistakes is a crucial aspect of leadership. [..]

Trump’s pathological inability to admit error — and yes, it really does rise to the level of pathology — has been obvious for years, and has had serious consequences. For example, it has made him an easy mark for foreign dictators like North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, who know they can safely renege on whatever promises Trump thought they made. After all, for him to condemn Kim’s actions would mean admitting he was wrong to claim he had achieved a diplomatic breakthrough.

But it took a pandemic to show just how much damage a leader with an infallibility complex can inflict. It’s not an exaggeration to suggest that Trump’s inability to acknowledge error has killed thousands of Americans. And it looks likely to kill many more before this is over.

Eugene Robinson: An indelible image of this pandemic: Trump, without a mask, on a golf course

It was the murderous dictator Joseph Stalin who supposedly said that one death was a tragedy, one million deaths a mere statistic. One hundred thousand deaths are difficult to get one’s mind around. The toll in our nation from covid-19, as it reaches that horrific milestone, must be seen as a catastrophe — and an indictment.

The long Memorial Day weekend gave the pandemic an indelible visual image: President Trump, wearing a ball cap but no mask, enjoying himself on his Northern Virginia golf course. Last week, you will recall, Trump declared it was “essential” that Americans be able to spend Sunday at church services. He chose to head for the links instead. [..]

But the election is coming, Trump is in campaign mode, and the only political technique he has mastered is the driving of wedges. He has made it a political statement not to wear a mask or respect social distancing. According to polls, most Americans are willing to follow the advice of medical professionals. Enough may follow Trump’s lead, however, to guarantee that the rate of infection and death remains higher than it has to be.

The offense is not just that many of the 100,000 lost American lives might have been saved; it is also that more needless death is surely to come. Donald Trump stands indicted.

Greg Sargent: Trump’s war on reality just got a lot more dangerous

Coronavirus deaths in the United States are rapidly closing in on 100,000. The economic depression is stretching out ahead of us as far as the eye can see. Joe Biden is holding a steady lead in polls.

So President Trump has decided he has only one real chance at reelection: to bet mostly on his magical ability to create the illusion that we’re rapidly returning to normalcy, rather than taking the difficult concrete steps that would make that more likely to happen.

The signs of this are everywhere: in a new federal testing blueprint that largely casts responsibility on the states. In Trump’s new rage-tweets at the North Carolina governor over whether a full convention will be held under coronavirus conditions. And in demands for liability protections for companies so sickened workers can’t sue.

All these things, in one way or another, show that Trump’s war on reality has veered into a new place. Trump is responding to our most dire public health and economic crises in modern times with a concerted, far-reaching effort to concoct the mirage that we’re racing past both.

Paul Waldman: The GOP plan would increase coronavirus spread and slow economic recovery

“Our human capital stock is ready to get back to work,” said White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett on Sunday. Republicans, particularly Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), have a plan.

It’s not a plan to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, or a plan to give direct assistance to struggling Americans, or a plan to ensure that state budgets don’t collapse.

Instead, it’s a plan to make sure no one is allowed to sue businesses for what they did or didn’t do during the pandemic.

It’s called “liability protection,” the new incarnation of the old conservative goal of “tort reform,” the euphemism for chaining the courthouse door to prevent people from suing when they get harmed. Not only is it morally indefensible, right now it’s also the worst possible way to help the American economy get back on its feet. [..]

In the world Republicans want to create, most of us will be more reluctant to go out, because a situation where businesses have blanket protection and also aren’t being constrained by regulation is more dangerous for everyone.

Where’s the Beef?

I don’t often shop for Beef since I prefer Pork or Seafood and I don’t think a chunk of meat is a necessary part of a meal.

But I do notice things when I go to the Market and up until now the chief symptons of Coronavirus in the Meat Department is that prices have risen (though not as much as you might think) and there are spot shortages of certain items and purchase limits.

Your experience may be different, Stars Hollow is not exactly at the end of a precarious supply chain because New York City is right over there. If you can’t find it in the Heart of Acela it probably doesn’t exist.

Things could get worse though and very quickly.

‘Something isn’t right’: U.S. probes soaring beef prices
By LEAH NYLEN and LIZ CRAMPTON, Politico
05/25/2020

Supermarket customers are paying more for beef than they have in decades during the coronavirus pandemic. But at the same time, the companies that process the meat for sale are paying farmers and ranchers staggeringly low prices for cattle.

Now, the Agriculture Department and prosecutors are investigating whether the meatpacking industry is fixing or manipulating prices.

The Department of Justice is looking at the four largest U.S. meatpackers — Tyson Foods, JBS, National Beef and Cargill — which collectively control about 85 percent of the U.S. market for the slaughter and packaging of beef, according to a person with knowledge of the probe. The USDA is also investigating the beef price fluctuations, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has confirmed.

Ok, I’ll stop right there so I don’t step on the laugh. You and I both know there is exactly ZERO chance that any Corporation or individual is going to suffer a meaningful sanction even if found amazingly guilty.

To continue-

Meatpackers say beef prices have spiked during the pandemic because plants are running at lower capacity as workers fall ill, so less meat is making its way to shelves. The four companies didn’t respond to requests for comment about the probes.

But the coronavirus crisis is highlighting how the American system of getting meat to the table favors a handful of giant companies despite a century of government efforts to decentralize it. And it’s sparking new calls for changes in meatpacking.

“It’s evidence that something isn’t right in the industry,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican who has spoken out against mergers in the agriculture industry. In April, Grassley requested federal investigations into market manipulation and unfair practices within the cattle industry. So have 19 other senators and 11 state attorneys general.

The average retail price for fresh beef in April was $6.22 per pound — 26 cents higher per pound than it was the month before, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the same time, at the end of April, the average price for a steer was below $100 per hundred pounds; the five-year average for that same week was about $135 per hundred pounds, according to USDA’s weekly summary.

Ed Greiman, general manager of Upper Iowa Beef who formerly headed the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, attributed the consumer price increase to plants running at lower capacity. At the same time, farmers and ranchers desperate to offload their cattle as they reach optimal weight for slaughter are cutting prices so they won’t have to kill the animals without selling them.

“I’m running at half speed,” Greiman said at an event hosted by the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association. “Cattle are backing up because we can’t run our plants fast enough. Nothing is functioning properly. We need to be careful not to put blame on any one thing or part of the industry because we can’t get these plants going.”

Exactly 100 years ago, after years of litigation, the five biggest U.S. meatpackers — which were responsible for 82 percent of the beef market — agreed to an antitrust settlement with the Justice Department that helped break their control over the industry.

The Justice Department’s efforts to reduce concentration in meatpacking led to decades of competition. By 1980, the top four firms controlled only 36 percent of cattle slaughters in the U.S., according to a report by the Government Accountability Office.

But during the next 10 years, meatpacking experienced a huge wave of deals, enough that the USDA dubbed the time “merger mania.” By 1988, the new four biggest companies again controlled 70 percent of the beef meatpacking market.

“There’s greater concentration in meatpacking now” than in 1921, said Thomas Horton, an antitrust professor at the University of South Dakota, who previously worked at the Justice Department. The first antitrust laws were “passed to take care of the Big Five. Now we have the Big Four. We’re going backwards.”

“You’ve got at most four bidders, but the reality is there are often fewer,” said Carstensen, noting that in some states, there are only one or two meatpackers with plants.

While the structure of the industry has remained stable since 2009, changes in how the meatpackers buy cattle have also had an impact. Before 2015, about half of all cattle was purchased via direct negotiation between a rancher and meatpacker, known as the negotiated cash market. Today, about 70 percent are purchased through contracts where farmers agree to deliver cattle once they reach a certain weight with the price to be determined later — usually a formula that takes into account how much cattle sell for in the cash market.

The increase in these contracts has some advantages for ranchers, because they know they have a buyer and don’t have to spend time on negotiations, said Ted Schroeder, an agricultural economist at Kansas State University. But fewer cash trades have made it harder to figure out the right price for cattle, he said.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, more than 14,271 meatpacking workers have been sick as of May 15, according to the nonprofit Food and Environment Reporting Network. Worker illnesses and temporary plant closures have led plants to operate at about 50 percent capacity, said Schroeder.

Schroeder, who has focused on cattle prices for more than three decades, said the rising consumer prices and falling cattle prices are consistent with normal supply and demand.

“It’s economics 101. There’s less meat around, but demand is still pretty strong,” he said. “We’ve got plenty of cattle but can’t get it through the system. We are pretty close to what I would expect to happen to wholesale and farm prices given the bottleneck.”

Not everyone is persuaded. Last year, ranchers filed an antitrust suit against the four meatpackers for colluding to depress cattle prices. The suit, pending in Minneapolis federal court, alleges that Tyson, JBS, Cargill and National Beef began coordinating in 2015 to reduce the number of cattle slaughtered while also limiting how many they bought in the cash market. Ranchers with excess animals on their hands were forced to sell for less or enter into long-term contracts beneficial to meatpackers.

“The Big Four simultaneously withdrew from the cash market with intent to reduce prices across the board,” said Bill Bullard, CEO of Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, one of the lead plaintiffs in the suit, in an interview.

The companies were able to coordinate by communicating through trade associations, said Bullard. The lawsuit is based in part on information provided by a confidential witness who worked for one of the meatpackers for a decade. The conspiracy drove prices down at least 8 percent, said Bullard.

If the meatpackers were communicating about prices, that would clearly violate criminal antitrust laws, said Carstensen. But if a company observes what a rival does and matches that behavior — sometimes called “tacit collusion”— that may not violate the law, he said.

“Coordination is not the same thing as collusion,” said Carstensen.

The Justice Department could, however, try to make a case that the meatpackers have monopolized the beef market. They could argue that the companies have engaged in “an anticompetitive set of industry practices, which taken together, violate antitrust law and require a broader restructuring,” he said.

The anti-monopoly Open Markets Institute has outlined a similar theory and pushed for breaking up the Big Four so no company controls more than 10 percent of the market. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) also advocated for breaking up meatpackers as part of her presidential campaign.

Grassley, meanwhile, said he’s not ready to call for the breakup of major meatpackers, but he has “a great deal of questions about whether they’re operating within the law.”

Some other angles-

The meat industry is trying to get back to normal. But workers are still getting sick — and shortages may get worse.
By Taylor Telford, Washington Post
May 25, 2020

Tyson Foods, the largest meat processor in the United States, has transformed its facilities across the country since legions of its workers started getting sick from the novel coronavirus. It has set up on-site medical clinics, screened employees for fevers at the beginning of their shifts, required the use of face coverings, installed plastic dividers between stations and taken a host of other steps to slow the spread.

Despite those efforts, the number of Tyson employees with the coronavirus has exploded from less than 1,600 a month ago to more than 7,000 today, according to a Washington Post analysis of news reports and public records.

What has happened at Tyson — and in the meat industry overall — shows how difficult it is to get the nation back to normal, even in essential fields such as food processing. Meat companies have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on measures such as protective gear, paid leave and ventilation systems since they were forced to shut dozens of plants that were among the top coronavirus hot spots outside urban areas.

But the industry has still experienced a surge in cases, and some companies say they are limited in just how much they can keep workers separated from one another. Only a portion of the labor force has gone back to work — some workers kept away on purpose — and the nation’s meat supply remains deeply strained as barbecue season gets underway.

A May report from CoBank, which specializes in serving rural America, warns that meat supplies in grocery stores could shrink as much as 35 percent, prices could spike 20 percent and the impact could become even “more acute later this year” as the knock-on effects on the U.S. agriculture supply chain are felt.

What’s clear is that the industry’s efforts so far, though they may have lessened the virus’s spread, have not come close to stopping it. Over the past month, the number of infections tied to three of the country’s biggest meat processors — Tyson Foods, Smithfield Foods and JBS — has gone from just over 3,000 to more than 11,000, according to the Post analysis.

Throughout the industry, worker deaths have tripled, surging from 17 to at least 63, according to the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, which is tracking outbreaks through local news reports.

Four of the plants that reopened saw outbreaks, with more than 700 positive cases, according to the center: Tyson Foods operations in Logansport, Ind., Perry, Iowa, and Waterloo, Iowa; and a Smithfield plant in Sioux Falls, S.D.

In Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota, coronavirus cases linked to meat workers represent 18, 20 and 29 percent of the states’ total cases, respectively, according to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit advocacy organization.

Many plants that have reopened are operating at reduced capacity, either because of widespread absences or to reduce the number of workers on a shift to allow for social distancing. Closures have affected 45,000 workers, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, the largest organization representing meatpacking workers.

Tyson’s biggest pork plant, in Waterloo, reopened May 7 with new safety precautions and social distancing policies. “Our top priority is the health and safety of our team members, their loved ones and our communities,” Tom Hart, the plant’s manager, said in a news release.

Tyson had just finished running a national ad campaign warning, “The food supply chain is breaking.”

But the Waterloo plant reopened the same day that health officials in Black Hawk County, where it is located, reported that more than 1,000 employees out of 2,700 there had tested positive for the coronavirus.

“Tyson did not go above and beyond,” said state Rep. Ras Smith (D), who represents Waterloo. “They did what they already should have done.” He called Tyson’s handling of the outbreak “appalling.”

Smith and fellow state Rep. Timi Brown-Powers (D) said they suspect that President Trump’s executive order encouraged Tyson to reopen faster, a point the company disputes. The plant shuttered April 22 after weeks of resisting calls from local officials. The lawmakers said they met with the plant’s human resources director on May 1 and were told that the facility was weeks away from reopening.

Four days later, they said, they were told that production would resume May 7. They said there was no explanation for the new timeline.

“It really doesn’t feel like our local Tyson was in this big of a hurry to reopen,” Brown-Powers said. “It became a hurry for them because of the pressure they’re getting from above.”

“Now that Trump issued that executive order, it gives plants this insurmountable feeling that they are invincible,” said Kim Cordova, a local union president in Greeley, Colo., where a JBS beef plant was shuttered in April amid a coronavirus outbreak that has killed at least seven workers.

In practice, the order was more narrow, legal experts said. It designated meat producers as critical infrastructure and ordered them to follow federal guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. It also enabled Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to take steps to get meat companies federal contracts and access to protective gear.

OSHA — the federal agency in charge of worker safety — has not issued enforceable guidelines for protecting employees from the coronavirus, as it did during the H1N1 outbreak in 2009, instead opting for voluntary guidance. The agency has said it plans no enforcement action so as not to overly burden companies during the pandemic.

Smithfield cited the Trump executive order in federal court in Missouri, arguing that it meant local and state authorities no longer had authority over meat processors. It was part of the company’s defense in a lawsuit filed by an unnamed employee alleging that Smithfield failed to protect workers by not accommodating social distancing and by discouraging sick employees from staying home.

“The president has identified state interference with meat and poultry processors as ‘undermining critical infrastructure during the national emergency,’ ” Smithfield’s attorneys said in court documents. “State law, whether statutory or through private lawsuits, cannot be used to regulate the subject matter covered by the EO. This task belongs exclusively to the federal government.”

U.S. District Judge David Gregory Kays dismissed the case 12 days later, citing the “significant steps” Smithfield had taken to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection at its plant in Milan, Mo.

In a news release, the company praised the outcome of the case, which it said was “frivolous, full of specious allegations that were without factual or legal merit.”

Less than two weeks after the case was dismissed, voluntary testing at the Milan plant revealed an outbreak at the facility, according to local news reports and the worker behind the lawsuit. She told The Post that fearful employees have been staying home, and those who do show up for shifts are working overtime to keep up production.

On April 16, the JBS beef plant in Greeley was forced to shut down after roughly 100 workers contracted the virus and three died. Another worker died during the closure, and four others since the facility reopened April 24.

Coronavirus cases at the plant now exceed 300, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment records show.

“We are raising hell because the numbers continue to rise,” said Cordova, the local union president. “People are scared to go to work because people keep getting sick. There are hundreds of workers who have not come back. We don’t know if they have moved on, if they are on ventilators. We can’t find them.”

Deny and pretend.

As Meatpacking Plants Reopen, Data About Worker Illness Remains Elusive
By Michael Corkery, David Yaffe-Bellany, and Derek Kravitz, The New York Times
May 25, 2020

The Smithfield Foods plant in Tar Heel, N.C., is one of the world’s largest pork processing facilities, employing about 4,500 people and slaughtering roughly 30,000 pigs a day at its peak.

And like more than 100 other meat plants across the United States, the facility has seen a substantial number of coronavirus cases. But the exact number of workers in Tar Heel who have tested positive is anyone’s guess.

Smithfield would not provide any data when asked about the number of illnesses at the plant. Neither would state or local health officials.

“There has been a stigma associated with the virus,” said Teresa Duncan, the director of the health department in Bladen County, where the plant is located. “So we’re trying to protect privacy.”

Along with nursing homes and prisons, meatpacking facilities have proven to be places where the virus spreads rapidly. But as dozens of plants that closed because of outbreaks begin reopening, meat companies’ reluctance to disclose detailed case counts makes it difficult to tell whether the contagion is contained or new cases are emerging even with new safety measures in place. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there were nearly 5,000 meatpacking workers infected with the virus as of the end of last month. But the nonprofit group Food & Environment Reporting Network estimated last week that the number has climbed to more than 17,000. There have been 66 meatpacking deaths, the group said.

And the outbreaks may be even more extensive.

For weeks, local officials received conflicting signals from state leaders and meatpacking companies about how much information to release, according to internal emails from government health agencies obtained through public records requests by Columbia University’s Brown Institute for Media Innovation and provided to The New York Times. The mixed messages left many workers and their communities in the dark about the extent of the spread in parts of Iowa, Nebraska and Colorado.

The emails also reveal the deference some county officials have shown toward the giant meatpacking companies and how little power they have in pushing the companies to stem outbreaks.

There’s more like that but I commend your patience for reading this far.

This is a big deal and it’s not going to get fixed soon.

Cartnoon

I’m not sure if I’ve highlighted this before. I don’t remember it and I can’t find it in my archives but I might have missed it.

Anyway you can’t deny it’s on topic so watch it again.

The Breakfast Club (Liar Tweets)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

This Day in History

Allied troops begin their evacuation from Dunkirk, France; President Andrew Johnson’s impeachment trial ends with his acquittal; Actor John Wayne; Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley’s daughter Lisa Marie marry

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Nature never makes any blunders, when she makes a fool she means it.

Archibald Alexander

How we do it downtown.

I have visited Staten Island (great free Ferry ride) and most of my interactions have been very pleasant, the place has a fascinating History, and some really excellent Restaurants.

But there’s not a Hotel or a Motel on the Island that hasn’t seen a murder and Fresh Kills has it’s own special Chernobyl section where they piled up all the Radioactive Waste from the Medical Devices.

They also have Deer which people get all sentimental about because Bambi.

They’re really not much more than big disease ridden Rats.

I’m anxious to visit again when it’s possible.

(h/t Crooks and Liars)

Staten Island grocery shoppers drive out woman who refuses to wear a mask in the store
By Brad Reed, Raw Story
May 25, 2020

A group of angry shoppers at a Staten Island ShopRite were captured on video driving out a woman in the store who refused to wear a face mask.

The 20-second video clip shows masked shoppers swarming around a shopper who is pushing her cart around without any kind of face covering.

“Get out!” one of the shoppers yells at the woman.

“Get the f*ck out of here!” yells another.

While the woman is initially defiant, she eventually relents to peer pressure and leaves the store.

Staten Island has been hard hit by COVID-19 and has recorded more than 13,000 coronavirus infections and nearly 1,000 deaths from the disease.

I’ve been in that store.

Of course it just proves we’re intolerant politically correct assholes.

Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news media and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Robert Reich: No, Donald Trump, Americans are not dying to work – work may cause them to die

The president, the Republican party and their Fox News cheerleaders care only for corporate profit

Most of Europe and all 50 US states are in various stages of “reopening”. But why, exactly?

The pandemic is still with us. After the first tentative steps to ease the lockdown in Germany – the most successful large European country in halting the spread of the virus, thanks to massive testing – the disease has shown signs of spreading faster.

At least Germany is opening slowly and carefully, as is the rest of the EU.

By contrast, the US – with the highest number of deaths and most haphazard response to Covid-19 of any advanced nation – is opening chaotically, each state on its own. Some are lifting restrictions overnight.

Researchers expect the reopenings to cause thousands of additional deaths. [..]

In truth, there is no good reason to reopen when the pandemic is still raging: not getting the economy moving again, or workers clamoring to return to work, or the cost of extended income support, or because workers should be “free” to endanger themselves.

Let’s be clear. The pressure to reopen the economy is coming from businesses that want to return to profitability, and from Trump, who wants to run for re-election in an economy that appears to be recovering.

Muchael H. Fuchs: Mike Pompeo is the number one evangelist of Trumpism in the world

When it comes to foreign policy, Pompeo’s penchant for undermining America’s credibility is top-notch

Donald Trump’s disdain for the people, country and values his office is supposed to represent is unmatched in recent memory. And he has found in the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, a kindred spirit who has embraced his role as Trumpism’s number one proselytizer to the world.

Pompeo doesn’t wield nearly as much power or have the jurisdiction to inflict damage on as wide a range of issues as the president. He’s not as crass or erratic as Trump, and his Twitter feed seems dedicated more to childish mockery than outright attacks. But when it comes to foreign policy, Pompeo’s penchant for undermining America’s credibility is top-notch. [..]

The fish, they say, rots from the head. And Pompeo, like his boss, is actively undermining the values embodied by the state department, its professionals and the Americans they represent.

Paul Waldman: Can we stop pretending Trump is fit to be president?

At various times over the past three and a half years, many of us have asked what would happen if President Trump truly went over the edge or if his behavior became so frightening that his unfitness for the most powerful position on Earth could no longer be denied.

But the human capacity for denial is apparently almost infinite. [..]

The truth is that Trump is not much more despicable of a human being than he has always been; it’s just that standard Trumpian behavior becomes more horrifying when it occurs during an ongoing national crisis. It is reality that changed around him, and he was incapable of responding to it.

We all know this. In public, Republicans may say that the real villain in the pandemic is China, or that all those deaths — and the tens of thousands yet to come — were inevitable, or that it is essential to get the economy moving. But they know as well as the rest of us do what a catastrophic failure Trump has been.

They must own the moral choice they now make. In 2016, they said Trump would grow serious and sober once he was faced with the awesome responsibilities of the office. There was little reason at the time to think it would happen, but it was at least possible.

No one can say that now. Not only do we know who Trump is, we know who he will always be. And we know that reelecting him will be disastrous in a hundred ways.

Donna F. Edwards: Americans want to vote, and they want to be able to do it by mail

Today I did something that I haven’t done in 20 years — I voted by mail.

I did not request the ballot. It was sent to me courtesy of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who decided after postponing the primary election because of the pandemic that every registered voter would receive a ballot in the mail. Filling in the ballot was quick and easy, the instructions were clear and I did it in my pajamas over a cup of coffee. When I finished, I sealed the postage-paid envelope and signed a statement saying I understood that if I violated the state elections law, I would face a $1,000 fine, two years in prison or both.

So, what is all the fuss? President Trump is making outrageous and unfounded claims of “tremendous” voter fraud with vote by mail, while some Republicans and the conservative media are parroting the same. Trump’s recent threats to withhold federal funding from Michigan in light of its secretary of state’s move to expand vote by mail comes as Texas Republicans make a hard charge in federal court to stop efforts there.

Here’s a fact for the president: More than one-quarter of voters cast their ballots by mail in the 2018 election, and that number is likely to increase in the novel coronavirus era. As evidence, the April primary in Wisconsin, in the midst of the pandemic, saw the voter turnout among the highest in 40 years, with more than 70 percent of votes coming from absentee ballots. Another fact: A recent survey by Pew Research Center found that 70 percent of Americans believe that anyone who wants to vote by mail should be allowed to do so.

Richard Wolffe: Trump’s hydroxychloroquine habit is the triumph of rightwing quackery

The president’s anti-science cult represents the nadir of a long tradition of conspiracy-loving wingnuts from the fringes of American conservatism

What kind of buffoon brags about taking a drug that could kill him?

Among the many ailments Donald Trump has inflicted on his own country – not to mention the rest of the world – there may be something even worse than hydroxycholoroquine.

Yes, it’s bad that he claims to be taking an anti-malarial that his own Food and Drug Administration says is unsafe and ineffective to treat Covid-19.

Yes, it’s astonishing that Trump’s tools forced out of office an actual vaccine expert because he dared to question the president’s love of an unproven drug.

But it’s even worse that he is a one-man delivery vehicle for a dunce cult that denies science.

We’re not just talking about the presidential brainwaves that bounced around the world, hitting bodies with very powerful light or bleaching patients “by injection inside or almost a cleaning”.

Trump’s anti-science cult does not begin with quack remedies for a pandemic, and it does not even begin with him.

Examples Of Constructive Behavior

Not.

I tell you, Christians are a cult that worships death (more than Kali who is also a Fertility Goddess who battled at the side of Brahma and Vishnu though she is commonly associated with Shiva, Destroyer of Worlds). Pay attention. It’s all there will be Pie in the Sky, bye and bye, bye and bye, on Big Rock Candy Mountain. Pay no attention to your sucky life and your oppressors.

Act IV, Scene 4

To be, or not to be, that is the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them?

To die, to sleep– no more– and by a sleep to say we end the heartache, and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to. ‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.

To die, to sleep…

To sleep– perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub, for in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil must give us pause.

There’s the respect that makes calamity of so long life.

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, the oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely, the pangs of despised love, the law’s delay, the insolence of office, and the spurns that patient merit of the unworthy takes when he himself might his quietus make with a bare bodkin?

Who would fardels bear, to grunt and sweat under a weary life, but that the dread of something after death, the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveller returns, puzzles the will and makes us rather bear those ills we have than fly to others that we know not of?

Thus conscience does make cowards of us all, and thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought, and enterprise of great pitch and moment with this regard their currents turn awry and lose the name of action.

Soft you now, the fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons be all my sins remembered.

Hell is worse than that because you are permanently separated from Yahweh. Oh, and that Lake of Eternal Fire thing.

So if you consider yourself among the Elect you don’t fear Death at all. It brings you closer to God.

This is why venomous snake handling is popular among certain variations of Pentecostalism. It proves your faith by denying fear of death.

Don’t tell me you haven’t seen this work itself out over the last month or two with the mostly manufactured clamor to reopen Churches. While most of the Pastors are motivated by the collection plate (because they’re shameless Elmer Gantrys) their idiot congregants actually believe this stuff.

To which I say “Darwin”. Unsurprisingly Churches in defiance of Social Distancing, Masks, and Gloves have become new Coronavirus Superspreaders.

Want to prove you’re tough? Get out there and catch a bullet or two for me.

Morons. I live in a World of Morons.

Crowds pack venues in Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks, ignoring social distancing
By Derek Hawkins, Washington Post
May 24, 2020

Vacationers flocked to the Lake of the Ozarks over the holiday weekend, flouting social distancing guidelines as they packed into yacht clubs, outdoor bars and resort pools in the Missouri tourist hot spot.

Images of the revelry rippled across social media, showing people eating, drinking and swimming in close quarters. In one picture shared by the news station
KSDK, dozens of people could be seen crammed on an outdoor patio underneath a sign reading, “Please practice social distancing.”

The scenes underscored how some have interpreted the loosening of coronavirus restrictions ahead of the Memorial Day holiday as an invitation to return to a pre-pandemic version of normal. Amid varied and sometimes conflicting orders from state and local officials, people across the country have been left to decide on their own how strictly to follow the rules.

The images elicited a barrage of criticism from people angered by the open disregard for the guidelines that public health experts have spent months promoting.

“I don’t even know what to say anymore,” Meghan McCain, co-host of ABC’s “The View,” tweeted.

Like most of the country, Missouri has allowed some businesses to reopen and rolled back pandemic-related bans on nonessential activities, even as researchers warn the virus is still spreading at epidemic rates in Missouri and 23 other states.

After Missouri’s stay-at-home order expired May 3, Gov. Mike Parson (R) said a range of businesses, including large venues, could resume service as long as seating was spaced out to enforce social distancing. State guidelines mirror those issued by the federal government, instructing people to stay six feet apart when they are outside their homes.

Many businesses around the Lake of the Ozarks closed in the spring when the pandemic hit. But as the state moved to reopen, they allowed guests to rebook reservations. Several hotels and resorts
told local media last week that they were fully booked through the weekend.

In videos shared widely on social media, people could be seen lined up outside Backwater Jack’s, waiting to enter the already packed bar and grill.

“Corona-free,” one man in line shouted in as the camera panned to him.

The waterfront establishment hosted a pool party Saturday called “Zero Ducks Given” that featured DJs and live bands. A Facebook page described the event as a summer kickoff party and showed nearly 400 people had attended.

A representative from Backwater Jack’s did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday. The event organizer said in a May 7 Facebook post the venue had “worked with and taken the advice of government officials and management teams and will be following social distancing guidelines,” adding, “extra precautions and safety measures will be taken.”

Missouri has reported more than 11,700 cases of the coronavirus and 676 deaths. A study by researchers at Imperial College London said it was one of 24 U.S. states that had yet to rein in the coronavirus and risked a second wave of infections.

Thick crowds also were seen at beaches and other attractions on the East Coast, including the Ocean City boardwalk and a beach on the reopened Jersey Shore.

Actually Clorinated Water is pretty disinfectant and it was mostly because of Ick Factor that we would go through a 45 minute to an hour test routine when kids would take a dump in it, but take a look at the people on the deck!

That does not excuse you from doing your Civic Duty to prevent killing others no matter how much you personally want to die.

Buy a Gun. Use a Knife. Find something poisonous to drink, like Clorox. Take a long dive off a short pier. Put your head under three times and pull it up twice. It’s the sudden stop you know, bridge abutments and sidewalks are your friends, just like they are for Sperm Whales and bowls of Petunias.

“Oh no. Not again.”

Cartnoon

lindybeige

Summer

Winter

The Breakfast Club (Remembering Heroes)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

This Day in History

“Star Wars” — the classic sci-fi movie written and directed by George Lucas — premieres; Former Enron execs Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling are convicted of conspiracy and fraud; Comedian Jay Leno begins his run as host of N-B-C’s “The Tonight Show .

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Continue reading

Not a Rant

They’re running the Turn Left Bumper Car Flaming Chunks of Twisted Metal 600 today and good luck with that. No Infield, no spectators, social distancing in the Pit (they already wear masks and gloves for safety).

Up until last week or so they’d been running Video Game Races and they suspended one guy for real because he broke the Fourth Wall and started ramming people for fun (have I ever told you about Carmageddon?).

Anyway it’s not very satisfactory but nothing is unless you’re a fan of Borussia Dortmund but it put me in mind that this weekend is also Lime Rock (postponed until at least September) and Monte Carlo, a race I particularly hate because although it’s very important to the tradition of Formula One it is an archetypical display of excessive wealth and boring because unless people break down or drive into a wall nothing ever happens.

I’m disappointed Formula One has followed Turn Left Bumper Cars into espace but then, there is a market for Fortnight League Tournaments so what do I know?

An Update from Sores and Boils Alley

How are things in the Land of Steady Habits (that’s right, we’ve been swindling you since Colonial times)?

Thank you for asking. Seriously.

My Oximeter came in and my base line is between 94 and 98% which is good enough for the most part given my underlying Anemia. I feel much more confident about my ability to get help if I need it now that I can tell the difference between Anxiety driven Hypochondria and actually being sick.

Though I understand the Headaches are life changing and hard to miss.

Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Wear a Mask and Gloves if only as a courtesy to others and STAY THE HELL OUT OF MY PERSONAL SPACE!

Actually I have personal space issues unrelated to the current conditions.

My Sister the Health Insurance worker dropped by for a visit. Second time she’s been out of her house since the Ides. She’s feeling ok too, very, very busy.

My Nephew still has a job which I find rather surprising since the Company where he works has been going out of business for two or three years now.

Richard and Emily have failed to kill each other yet and my Brother still has his job which is another surprise since he works for a Government sub-contractor and a lot of contracts have been canceled.

My personal observation is that no one is anxious to re-open. Crowds are sparse and many restaurants and other storefronts are still shuttered. Supermarkets? I’ve been to a few with mixed results, they still have spot shortages of odd items which is usually what I want. That’s why I was not at all surprised by this-

Lamont surprised at lukewarm reopening of retail, restaurants in coronavirus pandemic
By Ken Dixon, Connecticut Post
Thursday, May 21, 2020

Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday that flexibility will be the key to the state’s deliberate, summer-long reopening process, and depending on how the coronavirus proceeds – along with Connecticut’s reaction to its unfolding freedoms – he may slow down or speed up future segments of the public recovery.

While Lamont admitted surprise – during a late-morning Hearst Connecticut Media webinar – at how small the response was to retail and restaurant openings on Wednesday, he said that consumers and corporations alike need to establish some confidence. “Slow and steady is fine with me,” Lamont said.

“I think that the people of Connecticut have been cautious,” the governor said, noting that a month ago, Georgia allowed many businesses to reopen, and customers there remain reluctant as well.

“It’s not like the governors are closing down the economy,” Lamont said. “The consumers have to feel a sense of confidence before they go back. That’s why, for example, maybe they’re going to walk by the restaurant once or twice and see if the waiters are wearing masks and gloves. I feel like the restaurants have done a very good job. I think they’ll slowly be getting back to those restaurants and stores, not overnight.”

David Lewis, CEO of OperationsInc, a Norwalk-based human resources outsourcing and consulting company, said that many fewer people have returned to offices and most continue to work remotely from home, as they have since mid-March.

Judith Roll, the owner of Tabouli Grill and Judy’s Bar & Kitchen in Stamford, said Wednesday’s outdoor dining-only reopening was quiet at her two restaurants.

“Look, COVID is changing everyday,” Lamont told the webinar audience. “It is fast-moving. I wish I could tell you exactly what the world is going to look like in August, so you could plan on it accordingly.” He said “hundreds and hundreds” of hair salon owners and workers told him they were unprepared to reopen this week, so he pushed back hair-care shops until June 1.

The governor said he’d keep an open mind on possibly allowing summer sleep-away camps to open in July, despite the current plan to let only day camps convene at the end of June.

“A key piece of that is testing,” Lamont said. “We can test everybody going into that camp, because then they’re in residence, in a tent and they’re all over each other. We’re going to cautiously be looking at that and give you guidance in a couple of weeks.” He said there’s still “a chance” they may be allowed to open this summer.

“A month is a lifetime in COVID years,” Lamont said during the webinar, hosted by Columnist Dan Haar. Lamont called the reopening guidelines provided by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “incredibly vague.”

Hurray for local investigative reporting.

I’ve met Ken Dixon, he’s a nice enough guy. When he started his beat was Town Meetings and High School Sports.

Load more