As much coronavirus stuff as I can stand


Let’s get it all out of the way at once, OK? I’ll write a few things about the pandemic, and then anything else I write today will be exclusively non-plague related.

  • In David Brin’s The Postman (skip the movie, read the book), one of the things that struck me as true was that the thing you have to worry about most in the post-apocalypse is the people — especially the militias, the religious fanatics, the conspiracy theorists who make it their life’s mission to make the chaos worse. Well say hello to sick conspiracies endorsed by the likes of QAnon.

    A train engineer at the Port of Las Angeles was arrested on Tuesday after he deliberately derailed a train and crashed it near the Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy over his suspicions that the ship was part of a government takeover, according to a Justice Department statement about the incident.

    Or how about nurses being attacked by racists?

    “A man elbowed my rib, intentionally pushing me to the side, the female partner then shouted racial abuse saying: “at least we are whites you f***ing c***.”

    You might be wondering what the actual pseudo-military militias are thinking right now. It’s not good.

    If COVID-19 sticks around for a while maybe it will snap people out of this false sense of entitlement culture we live in, put your phones down and talk to one another, hold respectful interactions.. a real gut check into what is important, a snap away from our lemmings like existence on earth. a breath of fresh air amid the chaos.

    There will definitely be pros to this experience in addition to the cons. There has certainly been another uptick in new members on here since this has begun.

    Yeah, because the real problem is people spending too much time on their phones, when they should be strutting around town with their AR-15.

  • Would you believe that conspiracy nuts in the UK are claiming that 5G wireless causes COVID-19, and that when that network is activated, everyone is going to die? People are attacking cell phone masts over these baseless fears.
  • Just a thought here. We’re currently seeing a total failure of the supply chain producing PPE gear, and Boy Wonder Jared Kushner is making it worse with his penchant for grabbing at anything not nailed down, or things that are nailed down and committed to other buyers, and hoarding it and saying “mine!” He doesn’t seem to understand how to do the job at all.

    But wait a moment, I thought, I wouldn’t know how to do that job, either. For decades, Republicans have touted the virtues of electing people with business experience, and for once, I can see where someone who was familiar with the principles of keeping goods flowing in an efficient supply chain would be perfect to manage that kind of job, and ought to be appointed there.

    Except — and this is not something I often think about — “businessperson” is not a catch-all occupation. There are diverse roles within a business. And some roles are not at all useful in most situations. A slumlord doesn’t work with supply chains. Neither does a guy who runs casinos into bankruptcy. Neither do Wall Street bankers and insurance company executives. Those are actually the most useless possible qualifications for anybody to do anything other than leech off other people’s money. And who are we putting in positions of power in our country? You guessed it, the leeches and parasites.

  • Don’t read this story. A woman can’t see her dying husband in quarantine, so she has to watch him die over FaceTime. She plays their wedding song to him as he goes. He was only 42.
    And this is where we are.

  • Trump is still president.

I’m done for the day. I’m going to grade exams and listen to the birds sing outside my window.

Comments

  1. ShowMetheData says

    One weakness of conservative politicians and followers is they are not good at actual capitalism.

    For example, ads that show diversity offend them – like a bi-racial couple.
    But if you are selling actual products, you sell more if minority groups see themselves using the product. Diversity is an asset to making profits

    But the style that Republicans have is more like a rich, white guys club.
    Working the privileges and connections they have – this does make them money. So they can pretend they are doing the tough guy capitalism stuff.

    And what we end up with is ‘leaders’ who can do the politics and work the angles. But have no actual skills that make any system work – outside their little bubble of privilege.

  2. says

    Well, I was kind of waiting for one of the nuts to attack a military hospital. There was also this guy last week.
    https://www.kshb.com/news/local-news/investigations/fbi-terrorism-suspect-who-planned-to-bomb-hospital-visited-neo-nazi-chatrooms

    You think it’s bad now? Wait until they start making testing mandatory. You think these screwballs are going to quietly go to a military field hospital to get a “test” done by “The State”? It’s only a matter of time before one of them shoots up an ER ward. As if our hospital workers didn’t have enough to worry about.

  3. says

    Oh, hey, not only is the Trump administration trying to force 3M to stop selling its respirators to other countries, but apparently American interests not part of the Trump administration are swooping in on shipments bound for other countries and offering cash up front at 2 or 3 times the original bid to send the masks to America, and succeeding in carrying away the masks. [Source]

  4. billseymour says

    I sometimes have a bit of a problem with some of the discussion on this blog, but it’s not a fundamental difference of opinion but rather a different definition of terms.

    When I think of “capitalists”, I think of profit-makers and wage-earners playing the positive-sum game that Adam Smith hoped for in The Wealth of Nations. I don’t think that rentiers like the Trumps, the Kushners, the Kochs, the list goes on, should get to call themselves capitalists. They strike me as feudal lord wannabees.

    This is what the Libertarians don’t get. If you just leave H. sapiens alone, you get feudalism, not capitalism. The lords have all the wealth and want to keep it. It’s their only source of self-esteem since they lack marketable skills.

  5. Porivil Sorrens says

    @6
    Extracting wealth disproportionate with the actual labor you perform by sheer virtue of owning land/property is literally how capitalist wealth accumulation works, though.

    You’re not wrong that it mirrors feudalism, but that’s because capitalism and feudalism are very similar. A significant portion of the world’s population are serfs all but in name and the ones in control of the businesses are no more deserving of their tithe than landed nobility.

  6. raven says

    PZ missed a few in our ongoing GOP led disaster.

    1. At least 70 people infected with coronavirus linked to a single church in California, health officials say
    By Stephanie Becker, CNN

    The fundie xians died in higher numbers during the Swine Flu pandemic of 2009.
    They are on track to do it again during the Covid-19 pandemic.

    2. Dr. Anthony Fauci forced to beef up security as death threats
    2 days ago – Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top medical expert on the … Birx, who also serves on the task force, had received threats of any kind or whether …

    The head doctor for the federal effort against the pandemic has received a lot of death threats and now has 24/7 body guards.

    This is classic fundie/GOP/right wingnut reasoning.
    When you are in an epidemic, people are dying all around you so fast that the bodies are piling up, then you…shoot the MD’s and bomb the hospitals.

    This is an example of social stress in our already dysfunctional society.
    Think it is bad now?
    Wait a month until the death toll is 100,000.

  7. says

    @#6, billseymour:

    The definition of a capitalist is somebody who makes a living by owning capital, rather than producing something or providing a service. If you are a working stiff, you are not a capitalist even if you personally support capitalism as a system. Rentiers are by definition the purest form of capitalists.

  8. says

    It’s also the case that I’m making the point that Republicans often make the case that their candidate is a skilled Bidnessman; he’ll make the gubmint run like a Bidness. It’s almost never true. Trump: parasite. Mitt Romney: parasite. None of them actually know how to do anything.

  9. whheydt says

    Eisenhower was picked as overall commander in the ETO, at least in part, because his specialty was organizing logistics. And if there is one thing you need when planning to invade Fortress Europa, it’s logistics.

    Herbert Hoover may have been a crappy president, but he was an excellent choice for organizing post-WW1 relief efforts in Europe. That’s possibly a credit to his background in Mining Engineering.

  10. consciousness razor says

    It’s also the case that I’m making the point that Republicans often make the case that their candidate is a skilled Bidnessman; he’ll make the gubmint run like a Bidness. It’s almost never true. Trump: parasite. Mitt Romney: parasite. None of them actually know how to do anything.

    There’s a hint of incredulity buried in the word “bidnessman,” but you’re also attributing to it positive qualities, like “skill” and “know how,” that capitalists don’t need to possess in the real world. If you run a business skillfully and with know-how, like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, etc., then it just doesn’t get more parasitical than that.

    The fact is, much of our government is privatized in one way or another. (No matter what you make of their promises about it or how well it’s going, that is true. That’s not the part which is a lie.) So what we need to do is socialize it, not push for a more competent set of fascists who can supposedly keep the trains running on time.

  11. Porivil Sorrens says

    I’m not sure running the country like a business would actually change much, especially not for the better.

    “Five or so privileged assholes with inherited wealth and power stuffing their pockets off of the hard work of millions of lesser people and operating at a constant loss unless subsidized heavily by an outside body with the exact same issues” is largely already the case.

  12. robro says

    Would you believe that conspiracy nuts in the UK are claiming that 5G wireless causes COVID-19, and that when that network is activated, everyone is going to die?

    Oh yes, I would believe it, and as another pointed out above, right here in the good ol’ U S of A. I’ve been fielding warnings about 5G for months posted to a presumably liberal FaceBook group I spot check.

  13. robro says

    Re “businessperson” — I’ve worked for businesses for years. Big, medium, and small. “Businessperson” was not and is not a job title in any of them.

  14. Dunc says

    capitalism and feudalism are very similar

    Not really. Feudalism was a system of mutual obligations, whereas capitalism is a system of unidirectional exploitation. While feudal obligations were certainly asymmetric, they weren’t entirely one-sided, and the feudal dues owed by an inferior to a superior were often not very onerous.

  15. wzrd1 says

    @8, fundies were overrepresented in the death tool in the 1918 influenza pandemic. Oddly, Roman Catholic priests and nuns also suffered from an atrocious death toll, but were lauded and thanked, as most of those who died were helping those sick and dying in our treatment facilities.
    It’s rare that this individual says something good about the RCC or any other sect or faith, but there are times some have earned a kind word.

    We’re also at 8k and climbing dead, I suspect the glue will begin to fail an order of magnitude lower than your estimate.

    @10, the problem with a Bidnessman in government trying to fuck government up by making it act like a bidness is, businesses exist to make a profit, governments are the polar opposite due to their nature.
    When Perot did that stupidity of claiming to want to run the government like a bidness, well, I tuned his stupidity off. Selling mainframe computers isn’t something to qualify one for well, anything other than selling mainframe computers or used cars.

    I’ve also been tempted to saw down wireless service towers, but that was due to shitty coverage beyond the first lobe where reception is impossible (loads of math behind it, the easiest way to explain the first lobe is that the signal is passing overhead and missing the ground within that first lobe).

  16. wzrd1 says

    Well, I should thank the deceased wannabe hospital destroyer. I’d forgotten that I need to pick up some seeds.
    Gotta get some tomato, cucumber, basil, radish and chili pepper seeds. A pack of each should do.

    Still trying to figure out how the idiot with the train was going to effect a hospital ship that was nearly a half kilometer away.

    Saw a few individuals wearing scrubs when picking up some odds and ends for meals, don’t get me started on traveling with scrubs that you’re going to wear at work, then returning home to bring MRSA and VRSA home with you. It’s about as dim as an OR chief, who stated he’d fire anyone working in his OR that wore their scrubs and foot covers to get food from the gut truck, then returned with them unchanged.

    As for militias, I’ve had my conversations with quite a few members of such rabble. Suffice it to say, few ever repeated notions of taking up arms against their nation and claiming that the military would side with them.
    They STFU when I showed my military retiree ID card and explained that I work with the military and their opinions haven’t changed much since I retired. Then I explained that their dinky AR’s and AK’s aren’t really worth much against gunships, artillery, smart bombs, iron bombs, white phosphorus and napalm, not to mention pissed off infantry.
    Infantry are always pissed off when you cut into their drinking time for bullshit…

    Well, off to plan out my planting. Hmm, might as well pick up some bell peppers and some cubanella pepper seeds as well. Can’t beat cubanella peppers diced into one’s morning eggs!

  17. billseymour says

    The Vicar @9:

    The definition of a capitalist is somebody who makes a living by owning capital, rather than producing something or providing a service. If you are a working stiff, you are not a capitalist even if you personally support capitalism as a system. Rentiers are by definition the purest form of capitalists.

    Citation needed.

    Dunc @16:

    Feudalism was a system of mutual obligations, whereas capitalism is a system of unidirectional exploitation. While feudal obligations were certainly asymmetric, they weren’t entirely one-sided, and the feudal dues owed by an inferior to a superior were often not very onerous.

    Citation needed.

    Basically all of recorded history up until maybe a century and a half ago gave us some art, but almost nothing else; and I don’t believe that the folks who were living then were somehow more stupid than we.

    I’m no economist, so maybe I’m using the words incorrectly. So what should I call what Adam Smith had in mind? IIRC, it was precisely the rentier economy that he was railing against. (It’s possible that I didn’t understand The Wealth of Nations:  I confess that my eyes glazed over when he was going on about the value of rents expressed in units of corn.)

    FWIW, I see two proper functions of government:

    – Pass laws and regulations intended to keep competition open, fair and reasonably transparent. It’s the “competion” part of capitalism that keeps us moving forward.

    – Provide common goods in those cases where competition does not work well. Law enforcement (no, not shooting guys with darker complexions) and national defense (no, not stupid wars) come easily to mind. I also think that things like infrastructure, education, and health care are such common goods, but I don’t think that makes me a socialist. (I’m also totally happy with giving some help to folks in need; but I don’t see that as an economic argument, just basic human decency.)

    Are we maybe in violent agreement?

  18. stroppy says

    @17

    “businesses exist to make a profit, governments are the polar opposite due to their nature.”

    Indeed, different incentives, different organizational structures. And there’s nothing about government that makes it stupid in ways that “business practices” can fix (as if big corporations don’t have inefficient bureaucracies). And there’s nothing in unfettered magic markets (social Darwinism) that necessitates them operating for the public good.

    Ironically businesses complain when government tries to set up profit centers that would end up being in completion with them.

    Scratch the surface of all the business school mumbo-jumbo, and you find contempt for both law and democracy.

    See Trump, the shinning dumpster fire on the mountain top.

  19. says

    I know this is ghoulish-boy do I know this is highly reductive and gross-and I don’t know if it will help but I have taken to saying that if Trump course corrects and he manages to keep deaths to “only” 40-45k (low end of the projections) I will be so grateful I won’t vote against him in Nov. I immediately ask how many American dead before my interlocutor will refuse to vote for him. Like if we blow bast the 240k will they admit someone-anyone-could have done better? If they refuse to answer the question or say none I simply move on.

  20. says

    @#19, billseymour:

    Have you ever checked a dictionary, you ridiculous parody of a Democrat? Even the online ones show what I’m talking about. Here’s dictionary.com:

    a person who has capital, especially extensive capital, invested in business enterprises.

    It’s been really obvious since 2015 that when somebody professing to be a Democrat says “citation needed”, 99.9% of the time what they really mean is “I have already made up my mind that I support the DNC’s right-of-center candidate, and I refuse to accept your statement that they have done something terrible, even if this is common knowledge”.

  21. jrkrideau says

    As a follow-up to Akira MacKenzie @ 3 we even have cartoons mocking the idea.

    Wake Up Sheeple

    @ 10 PZ

    he’ll make the gubmint run like a Bidness.

    Oh yes, the famous businessman to to rescue government from incompetent politicians trope.

    The problem is that a government is totally different from a business. Businesses actually have things very simple. They produce a good or service; they make a profit. That’s how you know if it is working.

    Governments are not intended to make profits. they are intended to provide security and services for the population. There literally is no profit and loss statement in government and you don’t you don’t have one set of customers, instead you have any number of different groups all of them were advancing their own competing agendas that need to be balanced.

    The thing that a chief executive coming from Private Industry suddenly learns is that he’s not really the boss, that is he cannot set the price or decide whether or not he wants to close the deal. When you’re running a government it just does not work that way. You just can’t take your marbles and leave the game. If you have a hurricane or a pandemic show up, you can close up shop or move to another country.

    The level of complexity of running a government is many times greater than running even a very large and complicated business and the rules and skills required are totally different. The last thing one wants is a successful businessman trying to run a government that he does not understand and for which he lacks the skills.

  22. logicalcat says

    @The Vicar

    That’s called the dictionary fallacy.

    @Billseymour

    Some of the people responding to you are idiots who think Joe Biden is a fascist, so I don’t think you’ll get decent or accurate conversations regarding economics here.

  23. says

    Also @#24, logicalcat:

    The last time Joe Biden ran for office, his reelection campaign in 2012, there was criticism that in the preceding 4 years the administration had done very little of what they had said, in 2008, that they would do. The response from the campaign, possibly straight from Biden himself although I do not specifically recall it being so, was that: (1) only promises made in the specific form of “I promise that if elected I will ___” count at all, and (2) only idiots think a politician will actually abide by promises and platforms.

    Okay, so it’s pretty clear that camp Biden thinks you’re an idiot if you believe in his statements and promises and platform. Who’s believing that stuff? His supporters, including you.

    So, fine, let’s take away all of that — it’s just rhetoric, and talk is cheap. What’s left? His behavior over the course of a multi-decade career. What can we say about him based on that?

    He was to the right of Ronald Reagan on crime and drugs, which is quite a doozy, since Reagan was already borderline-fascist in those respects.

    He was a racist crony of people like Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond, who tried hard to keep segregation going.

    He was a hardcore anti-abortion hack, who famously said that he didn’t “think that a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body”, and as late as 2010 was demanding that the ACA had to specifically ban abortion with federal funds.

    As Senator, he voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, the Iraq Invasion (and bragged about it for 9 years afterward), and the creation of ICE and DHS. He actually introduced the bill which created the student loan debt crisis (in 2005 — until that time, it was possible to discharge student loan debt by declaring bankruptcy; his 2005 bill made that impossible), and he himself bragged that the omnibus security bill he introduced (and which was defeated) in the 1990s was the basis for the authoritarian USA PATRIOT Act. (And yes, “USA PATRIOT” is the acronym. Look it up.)

    He’s a budget hawk who championed austerity before the word gained currency with the public, and there is video of him on the Senate floor bragging about how he has voted to cut Social Security 4 times.

    Maybe you have a better term for “social, fiscal, and foreign policy right-winger who is extremely authoritarian” than just “fascist”. If you do, then trot it out and if it isn’t too contrived, I promise I’ll give it a try.

    Otherwise, stop wasting everybody’s time by pretending that that lying sack of excrement is anything worth supporting.

  24. logicalcat says

    @ The Vicar

    If you are here, striking up a conversation, then your not asking for a dictionary definition. Especially when he brings in literature to back up his point. He’s asking for expansive definition that can be discussed. That’s why what you did is a fallacy. Notice that its called the dictionary fallacy, not the definition fallacy.

    As for the rest of that garbage, none of that is still fascist. And guess what? Reagan wasn’t either. If that’s how you define fascism then America has been a fascist nation since inception (or at least since Nixon). So no. Your definition of fascism seems to be “anyone whose not as left as I am”.

    Are you going to start calling Biden voters fascist enablers if we vote for him?

    And how many times do I have to say that I voted for Sanders? I’m not a Biden supporter, but I am voting for him against Trump and will do so gladly. Not the same thing.

    What do we call Biden other than fascist (which he is not)? We call him a Neo-liberal, which is what he actually is.

    Is he worth supporting? In the general yes. That doesn’t mean you have to give up your leftist values. It means that now you have work to do. In building coalitions to put the pressure on Biden. In participating in state and local elections. But then of course that would require you actually gave a shit.

    Hey I’m just saying, MLK made a racist Dixiecrat pass the civil rights act. And he did through effectual protesting, building coalitions, and organizing. He did it through work, not through passively distancing yourself from the system so that you can sit back and declare yourself morally superior from afar.

  25. billseymour says

    The Vicar @22 makes an obvious, and offensive, straw man argument. I was a Bernie Bro in the primary; and I most definitely do not “support” Biden, although I will certainly vote against Trump in the general election because even Biden will be marginally better on what are called “social issues” (which I understand to be basic human decency).

  26. unclefrogy says

    . The last thing one wants is a successful businessman trying to run a government that he does not understand and for which he lacks the skills.

    well the way things look right now you history will right the header for the last chapter US history “they finally got the last thing they wanted”

    uncle frogy

  27. unclefrogy says

    it’s late and I am getting addled with all of this (an excuse) that should be “well the way things look right now when they write the history this time the header will read “they finally got the last thing they wanted”
    uncle frogy

  28. DanDare says

    I’m also totally happy with giving some help to folks in need; but I don’t see that as an economic argument, just basic human decency.

    People have networked relationships. A person in need taxes a local community that may soon itself begin to struggle. This ripples outward. Helping people in need indeed has an economic argument to be made.

  29. Porivil Sorrens says

    @27

    If that’s how you define fascism then America has been a fascist nation since inception (or at least since Nixon).

    Whoa, you mean the racist slave owning settler state that committed genocides less than a century into existing while implementing ethno-nationalist laws and massacreing Innocents all over the world is fascist?

    It is, by the way. You’re finally starting to get it. :)

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