…take a breath [DOT 3/1/21]

it's still the weekend...

…apologies in advance…it’s sunday…& there are no end of things that might be more fun to do than start thinking about the overflow from 2020’s cavalcade of shit that’s just itching to stink up that nice fresh new year we just got done opening…so feel free to skip past all this & just talk about something else in the comments?

It began with a pair of firsts, one hopeful and one grim: The most diverse Congress in the nation’s history was sworn in two years ago during the longest government shutdown.

And on Sunday, the 116th Congress will end much as it began — filled with anticipation yet bitterly divided — having lurched through a cycle of once-in-a-generation moments packed into two years under President Trump. The shuttering of the government for more than a month. The impeachment and trial of a president. The deadliest pandemic in a century and a multitrillion-dollar federal response. A Supreme Court confirmation rushed through in the final weeks of the election.

‘From Crisis to Crisis’: The Moments That Defined a Historic Congress [NYT]


It’s fitting that President Trump’s final days in office are offering a full display of the contradictions, follies, deceptions and plain uselessness of Trumpian Republicanism.

And to make sure that even the ending of the Trump Era is turned into a circus, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who hopes to inherit Trump’s constituency for a 2024 presidential run, announced on Wednesday he’ll object to the counting of the electoral college votes next week. Hawley won’t stop President-elect Joe Biden from winning; he seeks only to give Trump’s lies about election rigging one more run.

We are seeing the many layers of Republican hypocrisy. The GOP was unwilling to buck the most scandalous aspects of his presidency as long as he delivered on the core conservative agenda of tax cuts and right-wing judges.
But Trump’s threat [to veto the relief bill] turned out to be one of those attention-grabbing but ultimately empty gestures that have been his stock in trade. In effect he said, “Never mind,” and signed the bill on Sunday. Yes, it will be nice to have a president who measures success by results, not by ratings or retweets.

Still, by making an issue of the $2,000 checks, Trump called his own party’s bluff.

To maintain their Senate majority, Republicans need to hold the two seats at stake in next Tuesday’s Georgia runoff. Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler were no friends of a big economic relief package, and Perdue said he opposed stimulus checks on at least three different occasions.
Thus McConnell’s bind: He doesn’t want to approve the checks. But he doesn’t want Perdue and Loeffler to lose. And, to that end, he doesn’t want a big fight with Trump before next Tuesday.
What can we learn from this episode? For starters: If Georgia’s voters want serious legislating next year about the crisis we face, they need to elect Ossoff and Warnock. Biden’s decision to make another campaign visit on their behalf shows that, however much he hopes he can work with Republicans, he knows he’ll be far better off with a Senate not in the hands of the Grim Reaper, as McConnell has proudly called himself.

That’s because Republicans were only willing to embrace Trump’s “populism” as long as it was fake — or of a right-wing sort that elevated the politics of race and immigration. The moment Trump started talking about real money for non-elites, the GOP leadership threw its hands up in horror. McConnell’s maneuvers this week are the last gasp of his party’s hypocrisy, rooted in a burning desire for working-class votes unmatched by a will to do anything to earn them.


…not that they haven’t been happy to run up a hell of a tab for the taxpayer to settle

Over the past four years, President Trump and his allies in Congress have all but obliterated the Republican Party’s self-professed commitment to less spending and smaller deficits, pushing policies that have bloated the federal budget deficit to record levels.

Even before the pandemic ravaged the economy, the deficit — the gap between what the United States spends and what it receives in taxes and other revenue — had ballooned, driven by a $1.5 trillion tax cut and more generous government spending. Then Congress adopted two stimulus packages totaling more than $3 trillion, which will be financed with borrowed money. U.S. debt has grown so much that in 2020 it was projected to surpass the size of the entire annual economy for the first time since World War II.


…or keep flogging that poor, dead horse

Trump Calls Georgia Senate Races ‘Illegal and Invalid’ [NYT]


11 More Republican Senators Plan to Back Futile Bid to Overturn Biden’s Election [NYT]

…same shit


…different year



Republican plan to challenge election signals ‘cult of Trump’ will live on in Biden era [The Guardian]

Facts won’t fix this: experts on how to fight America’s disinformation crisis [The Guardian]

If, in the new year, pandemic vaccines aren’t available as promised, Americans can’t return to work because economic relief isn’t delivered or an adversary successfully attacks the United States because national security agencies couldn’t pay for new defenses, a hefty share of the blame should be placed on a man you’ve probably never heard of: One Russell Thurlow Vought.
But what Russ Vought is very good at is sabotage. He’s sabotaging national security, the pandemic response and the economic recovery — all to make things more difficult for the incoming Biden administration. That he’s also sabotaging the country seems not to matter to Vought, who has spent nearly two decades as a right-wing bomb thrower.

He has blocked civil servants at OMB from cooperating with the Biden transition, denying President-elect Joe Biden the policy analysis and budget-preparation assistance given to previous presidents-elect, including Barack Obama and Trump himself. Transition figures warn that it will likely delay and hamper economic and pandemic relief and national security preparation (the Pentagon is the other key agency resisting transition cooperation with the incoming administration).
But when it comes to governing, Vought has been a loser. He ran the botched White House response to the 2019 government shutdown, issuing legally dubious decisions and, as one Republican budget expert told The Post, “making up the rules as they go along.” It became the longest-ever shutdown and ended in Trump’s surrender.

Now Vought is intentionally botching the transition, without regard for the dire consequences Americans could suffer. This is what happens when you put an arsonist in charge of the fire department.


it might be less obvious that shit like this


…but there’s a pretty good chance the damage is more significant

It’s been two weeks since U.S. officials launched what ought to be the largest vaccination campaign in the nation’s history. So far, things are going poorly.

How poorly? Untold numbers of vaccine doses will expire before they can be injected into American arms, while communities around the country are reporting more corpses than their mortuaries can handle.

Operation Warp Speed has failed to come anywhere close to its original goal of vaccinating 20 million people against the coronavirus by the end of 2020. Of the 14 million vaccine doses that have been produced and delivered to hospitals and health departments across the country, just an estimated three million people have been vaccinated. The rest of the lifesaving doses, presumably, remain stored in deep freezers — where several million of them could well expire before they can be put to use.

That’s an astonishing failure — one that stands out in a year of astonishing failures. The situation is made grimmer by how familiar the underlying narrative is: Poor coordination at the federal level, combined with a lack of funding and support for state and local entities, has resulted in a string of avoidable missteps and needless delays. We have been here before, in other words. With testing. With shutdowns. With contact tracing. With genomic surveillance.

We Came All This Way to Let Vaccines Go Bad in the Freezer? [NYT]

…so it’s sort-of-comforting to know that some of this shit they’re flinging isn’t going to stick


A federal judge in Texas has dismissed a long-shot lawsuit by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) that sought to overturn the presidential election, saying neither the congressman nor his allies have legal standing to pursue the case.






The Senate on Friday voted to turn a $741 billion defense authorization bill into law over President Trump’s objections, delivering the first successful veto override of his presidency in the waning days of his administration.


…but…not to be snide about it



…that seems like a lot to spend on a defense that apparently didn’t defend so well against one of the bigger threats to the increasingly online days we live in?

On Election Day, General Paul M. Nakasone, the nation’s top cyberwarrior, reported that the battle against Russian interference in the presidential campaign had posted major successes and exposed the other side’s online weapons, tools and tradecraft.

“We’ve broadened our operations and feel very good where we’re at right now,” he told journalists.

Eight weeks later, General Nakasone and other American officials responsible for cybersecurity are now consumed by what they missed for at least nine months: a hacking, now believed to have affected upward of 250 federal agencies and businesses, that Russia aimed not at the election system but at the rest of the United States government and many large American corporations.

Three weeks after the intrusion came to light, American officials are still trying to understand whether what the Russians pulled off was simply an espionage operation inside the systems of the American bureaucracy or something more sinister, inserting “backdoor” access into government agencies, major corporations, the electric grid and laboratories developing and transporting new generations of nuclear weapons.

At a minimum it has set off alarms about the vulnerability of government and private sector networks in the United States to attack and raised questions about how and why the nation’s cyberdefenses failed so spectacularly.

Those questions have taken on particular urgency given that the breach was not detected by any of the government agencies that share responsibility for cyberdefense — the military’s Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, both of which are run by General Nakasone, and the Department of Homeland Security — but by a private cybersecurity company, FireEye.


Russian government hackers engaged in a sweeping series of breaches of government and private-sector networks have been able to penetrate deeper into Microsoft’s systems than previously known, gaining access to potentially valuable source code, the tech giant said Thursday.

The firm previously acknowledged that it had inadvertently downloaded a software patch used by Russian cyber spies as a potential “back door” into victims’ systems. But it was not known that the hackers had viewed the firm’s source code, or the crucial DNA of potentially valuable, proprietary software.


…but maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that the ball got dropped on the complicated stuff when even the basics seem to be on thin ice


…& it’s hard to learn from mistakes when a bunch of those mistakes make it hard to learn

Clearing the Wreckage at the Education Department [NYT]

…not to mention that here & there it seems like stepping in to meet a need apparently comes with hidden charges

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, distilleries were among the businesses pivoting like ballerinas: Many of them switched from making booze to cranking out hand sanitizer. The bottles of virus-killing gel were at a premium, as shoppers cleared grocery aisles of them along with other necessities such as toilet paper and flour.

Now, hundreds of distilleries around the country are surprised to find out that their forays into the sanitizer business could cost them, as the Food and Drug Administration warned some that they owe more than $14,000 in fees levied on the makers of over-the-counter drugs. A notice that the agency posted this week — and emails to at least some distilleries — has the industry in a late-year state of confusion. And the FDA has indicated its hands might be tied when it comes to the waivers the distilleries are hoping for.


…sometimes you just wonder where the money goes

Profit and pain: How California’s largest nursing home chain amassed millions as scrutiny mounted [WaPo]

…that one runs a little longer than some but the gist of it is that a lot of money went to companies like Brius Healthcare (including $54 million in relief aid related to coronavirus) & it sure seems like the owners spend a lot paying other companies they own…while the costs per-resident seem to be 20-40% above those in “comparable” facilities…& that’s the less-unpalatable stuff the Post has to say about it…& it’s not just that firm…& it’s not just WaPo

A week after the outbreak near Seattle (and months after the first cases in China), C.M.S., run by Seema Verma, whose conflicts of interest outnumber her credentials, began to act. But some of the agency’s decisions merely amplified existing problems.

Under President Trump, C.M.S. had already cut monetary fines for facilities with health and safety violations. Now it called off regular inspections in favor of a narrow, superficial infection-control survey. It also allowed for “temporary nursing assistants” with little training to fill in for certified aides.

When Congress allocated $5 billion under the CARES Act to help struggling long-term care facilities, a dozen companies accused of labor violations and Medicare fraud received more than $300 million in no-strings-attached relief. It wasn’t until late summer that C.M.S. mandated testing for residents and workers.

Nursing home operators have long complained that Medicaid doesn’t pay them enough to provide adequate care, but the business is not, apparently, a bad one to be in. Two-thirds of nursing homes are for-profits, and the sector has been swallowed up by corporate chains and investment firms whose involvement correlates to lower staffing and worse care.

Now the industry is pleading poverty while paying lobbyists to seek protection from lawsuits. In more than half the states, long-term care providers are shielded from liability for Covid-19 claims brought by residents, workers or their families, and legislation that would extend such immunity nationwide is pending.

Proponents of the protections, like Mark Parkinson, a former governor of Kansas and the president of the American Health Care Association, which represents 14,000 nursing home and other long-term care entities, argue that “most of these facilities will end up going bankrupt” without them.

But if now is not the time, when, and under what conditions, should nursing homes and assisted-living facilities be held accountable for the welfare of their residents and workers?


…not that it’s just a problem with the nursing home industry

The pandemic has forced untold hardships onto many Americans, with tens of millions of families now reporting that they don’t have enough to eat and millions more out of work on account of layoffs and lockdowns.

America’s wealthiest, on the other hand, had a very different kind of year: Billionaires as a class have added about $1 trillion to their total net worth since the pandemic began. And roughly one-fifth of that haul flowed into the pockets of just two men: Jeff Bezos, chief executive of Amazon (and owner of The Washington Post), and Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX fame.

Musk has quintupled his net worth since January, according to estimates put together by Bloomberg, adding $132 billion to his wealth and vaulting him to the No. 2 spot among the world’s richest with a fortune of about $159 billion. Bezos’s wealth has grown by roughly $70 billion over the same period, putting his net worth estimate at roughly $186 billion as the year came to an end.
All told, the two men increased their net worth by a staggering $200 billion last year, a sum greater than the gross domestic products of 139 countries. A billion dollars — a radically life-changing sum in nearly any other context — becomes just “an entry in a database,” as Musk recently characterized his Tesla assets.
What does it mean, for instance, that two men amassed enough wealth this year to end all hunger in America (with a price tag of $25 billion, according to one estimate) eight times over? Or that the $200 billion accumulated by Bezos and Musk is greater than the amount of coronavirus relief allocated to state and local governments in the Cares Act?


…still, at least some stuff might be looking up…somewhat literally in this case

Researchers led by Oxford University have developed a strategy for creating jet fuel out of natural greenhouse gas, joining a growing list of firms and aviation organizations aiming to tackle mounting climate change concerns.

Last week, the research team in Britain published a study on a novel scientific process that would transform carbon dioxide in the air into an alternative jet fuel that could power existing aircraft.


…so let’s hope this guy is right

The next few months will be hell in terms of politics, epidemiology and economics. But at some point in 2021 things will start getting better. And there’s good reason to believe that once the good news starts, the improvement in our condition will be much faster and continue much longer than many people expect.

Things Will Get Better. Seriously. [NYT]

…I mean…it sounds good…but sometimes things that sound good can be hard to believe?

In what is probably the definitive word on how little exercise we can get away with, a new study finds that a mere four seconds of intense intervals, repeated until they amount to about a minute of total exertion, lead to rapid and meaningful improvements in strength, fitness and general physical performance among middle-aged and older adults.


…still…gotta be better than brexit, right?





  1. Seventeen more days. Just 17 more days. Since the current maladministration is being so obstreperous I hope there’s a large cadre surrounding Biden who, being denied the opportunity to do traditional transition planning, are filling their days taking copious notes and writing up things for Biden to sign. I wonder if he’s started signing them already, like you can with predated checks that can only be cashed on or after the date you assign to them. Imagine muted-by-covid Inauguration Day 2021, where appointees who don’t have to go through the Senate confirmation process are gathered in the White House (probably not safely habitable, so maybe the Executive Office Building across the street). “OK, X, we have 517 directives for you. Y, here’s your 313, including the 152 you’ve countersigned, good work. And you, Z, I hope you’re ready for a long night on the phone, you’ve got close to 1,000 but we’ve arranged them in order, from most pressing on top to get to it it when you can on the bottom.”

  2. The fact that Jeff Bezos/Elon Musk have made that kind of money while republicans have allowed over 300,000 people to die – there really are no words. 

  3. I can’t imagine how huge of an asshole you have to be to have that kind of money and do nothing, I don’t need the $600, I’ve been trying to figure out who to give it to.

    • …the article does note that in effect most of that money only exists on paper (or I guess technically “on a balance sheet somewhere tjats almost certainly digital these days’) as it’s tied to the value of stock that would take a hit if they sold enough to realise a substantial proportion of it as cash

      …but when the amounts are so huge it beggars belief that there isn’t a way to put some of that value where it could do some good to someone besides themselves…so I’m inclined to agree about the asshole thing

        • …too true…& I believe that (for example) you’d still only need to turn a fraction of that into spendable money to cover the tab so that nobody had to go hungry in the US this year

          • My dad plays the lottery, it’s the closest thing he has to a religion (besides Canadian Club). He always says insane shit like “I’d be happy with $500k, I don’t need to win the mega lotto.”
            UM HELLO. YOUR ONLY CHILD NEEDS YOU TO WIN THE MEGA LOTTO. He doesn’t understand what I’d do with $400 million dollars. Oh I dunno, donate to the animals, solve world hunger, cure AIDS, yknow Bill Gates shit!!! I don’t personally need it any more than he does, but fuck, I will probably be around a lot longer.

    • Last stimulus check I diviied up between Campaign Zero, Feeding America, and Fair Fight. I’ve also donated to the National Immigration Law Center periodically. 

  4. Rainy, raw Sunday morning. The news cycle is a constant head shake. 
    Makes me pine for the sundays of youth spent sipping hot chocolate and reading a physical newspaper with a 4 full page comics. 

  5. i still dont get why everyones so worried iran might make nukes one day….worst thing their going to do is blow up israel (and realistically…all they are going to do is threaten)
    really…only one country on this planet crazy enough to actually use nukes….and they have most of them

    • …I think (unless it’s just me) that to a bunch of folks it’s basically not-really-ok that there are nukes…but since you can’t put the atomic toothpaste back in the tube it’d just be better if there weren’t more places with the capability in a better-safe-than-sorry way?

      …particularly places liable to equate we-have-nukes with we-don’t-have-to-listen-to-anybody…& your irans & north koreas would certainly be on that list

      …but it’s also true that as long as in some sense there’s a table you only get a seat at if you have the things the countries that don’t are liable to feel that puts them at a disadvantage even in the hopeful event that nobody would ever actually use the things ever again

      …opinion seems kind of divided as to whether the fact Israel has the things is the reason iran won’t let go of the idea or the reason there’s still an israel to have much of anything…but it’s notoriously difficult to prove a counterfactual so I don’t claim to know the answer to that one

      …either way I have a hard time believing that the world would be safer if more places could render swathes of it uninhabitable for generations…so I confess in iran’s case I find it uncomfortable to contemplate

      • eh..i kinda figure as we already let the most unhinged players at the table have nukes
        we might as well let everyone have them
        fuck it….not like anyone can use them and not end the world anyway
        sooo as i see it….its perfectly safe
        till we get stupid enough to actually push the button….and by then ill still be amazed we got this far

          • not really
            untill someone finds a way around MAD we are safe
            soooo….basically we are fucked the minute america or china figure out a foolproof missile defense system
            no other country has the resources to even come close to pulling that off

            • …I hear you…& I do pretty much get it…but it only takes one hypothetical-nutjob-with-nukes to prove wrong in the worst way…so on balance I’m still happier with less nukes being available since it seems like historically-speaking there’s always another nutjob with power just around the corner?

              • cant argue there
                nutjobs a plenty in this world
                but still…i figure we should either get rid of them all together…or let everyone have them
                its not like the current holders of nukes have proven to be entirely hinged…
                sides…it’d be a hellova lightshow….beats this lockdown shit
                (self preservation has never been my strong suit)

                • …I guess I’d like for nobody to have them but accept that it’s basically an impossibility…but I lean against the idea of everyone having them for pretty much the reasons bryan already suggested…I feel like the odds against anyone using them don’t go down if there are more rolls of the dice involved…but maybe I only feel that way because I’ve mostly lived in countries that do have the things & have managed not to use them for longer than I’ve been alive

                  • eh..tbh…it mostly boils down to me believing in equality… a fair world if you will
                    i realize thats not the one we live on currently..but it could be
                    and the first step would be having the same fucking rules for everyone
                    same job same pay…you have nukes i have nukes..
                    but tbh…other than the ideal…and leveling the playing field…i havent figured out how to get to my fair world yet…people are selfish and greedy…havent yet worked out how to get past self interest

    • That’s kind of the gun argument, though, isn’t it? We’ll all be safer if more people have guns. Once everyone has one, nobody will ever shoot anybody. Except in cases of:
      1. Accidents
      2. Mental illness
      3. Errors in judgment
      4. Mistaken identity
      5. Theft or loss
      6. Improper storage
      7. Improper use
      8. Improper disposal
      There’s probably 50 more I didn’t think of, but you get the point. The more guns there are, the more people die from them. The more nukes there are, the likelier it is that one or several of the above scenarios occurs. 

  6. Meanwhile Pelosi’s house got vandalized by someone blaming her for the lack of 2k checks, because people are stupid. I’d say conservatives are stupid, but it was alongside anarchy symbols, so it’s more likely stupid teenagers.
    There are plenty of reasons to dislike Pelosi, but that’s not one. 

    • …I believe mcconnell’s was also given a graffiti upgrade

      …but they didn’t tag it with either “move, mitch – get out the way” or “mitch better have my money”…so I feel like that was a missed opportunity…& I suspect I’m not alone?

      • McTurtle’s supposed house did get tagged but after seeing the picture of the house I can guarantee that house is only an address to allow him to be elected in that state.  No WAY he lives there.

    • At this point, I’m slightly more likely to think the graffiti was there attempt at a “false flag” to put the blame on “ANTIFA”
      I feel like the various nazis have been threatening to pretend to be antifa lately for whatever stupid reason…

  7. Last night I made Ellie’s Shrimp Linguine recipe.  All of you should make it, too.  I made a few changes, such as substituting the sun dried tomato pesto for the pesto that is in our freezer, and I also added shredded a bunch of leftover ricotta salata that was sitting in our fridge, but the core of the recipe–the garlic, shrimp and spinach–are what make it shine.

  8. The NY Times article on supposed deficit hawks was nauseating. Saying people like Ron Johnson and Josh Hawley care about deficits shows how badly the Times wants to return to stupid narratives, regardless of facts.
    I’ve said it before but the Times elevating their former Broadway critic to top politics editor is a perfect sign of how rotten their political coverage is. Not only is there a desperate search for old tropes to print, they are too ignorant of the facts to see what the real story is. Johnson and Hawley are flipping from giveaway addicts as soon as a Democrat is elected president for cynical political reasons.
    The reason has nothing to do with pageviews or clicks. This kind of tired, repetitive pseudo analysis is the opposite of revenue generating content. It’s because the Times’ leadership has no idea what the facts are, or what makes a story, and they’re happy treading water.

    • …it’s a fair point…but I guess I have some interest in what the papers consider to be “all the news that’s fit to print” as a starting point for what passes for the conversation of the day…& it’s at least true that there was a shift from bitching about deficits to expanding them (& now doubtless back the other way) so it seemed worth including?

    • Hopefully (although I’m NOT counting on it!🙃), felonies for violations of GA election laws!!!
      buuuuuut, knowing the D’s penchant for “getting along,” it won’t….
      And we’re FUCKED, when someone as evil as Trump,but who’s actually *competent* comes along, because now they KNOW how to run the board.😕

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