Daily Blog February 2020

I like to think of February as the “humpday” of winter because it’s the middle of winter and we’re on the downhill slide to spring. That is if we can get thru the Brexpeachment Virus looming on the horizon.

On the bright side, the days are getting longer. I’ll take whatever joy I can get. ;-).

77 thoughts on “Daily Blog February 2020

  1. Ted Cruz tried to mock AOC’s scientific knowledge – it didn’t end well

    The Texas senator tried to pick a fight after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called out Mike Pence’s coronavirus credentials

    * Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: ‘Mike Pence literally does not believe in science.’ Photograph: Erin Scott/Reuters *

    If you were in search of a scientifically minded, steadying presence to guide the country through the potential fallout of the coronavirus, you could not do much worse than Vice-President Mike Pence. This being the Donald Trump administration, however, where qualifications and expertise are often seen as prohibitive factors for top jobs, that’s exactly who we’ve been given.

    Cutting to the heart of the matter with her characteristic bluntness, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez this week pointed out the absurdity of placing Pence in charge of a potentially looming health crisis.

    “Mike Pence literally does not believe in science,” she tweeted on Wednesday. “It is utterly irresponsible to put him in charge of US coronavirus response as the world sits on the cusp of a pandemic. This decision could cost people their lives. Pence’s past decisions already have,” she said.

    Ocasio-Cortez reminded people of Pence’s credentials for the job. While he was governor of Indiana, he oversaw an HIV crisis that was so severe that at its peak, 20 new cases of HIV were diagnosed every week.

    “As governor, Pence’s science denial contributed to one of the worst HIV outbreaks in Indiana’s history,” she continued. “He is not a medical doctor. He is not a health expert. He is not qualified nor positioned in any way to protect our public health.”

    Rushing to the defense of the administration the next day, Ted Cruz jumped into the fray.

    “As you are speaking as the oracle of science, tell us, what exactly is a Y chromosome?” Cruz responded on Twitter. “And at what age of gestation does science tell us that an unborn child feels physical pain?”

    He may have picked the wrong opponent – Ocasio-Cortez, it transpires, holds an award for microbiology from MIT.

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  2. The Coronavirus Is Trump’s Worst Nightmare

    How a serious epidemic could wreck his presidency

    Donald Trump is not known for his steely calm. In the face of a seemingly endless string of legal scrapes and existential crises—impeachment, a special counsel investigation, a potentially mortifying presidential election looming over it all—he has responded with his signature mix of rage and panic, spraying Twitter with cries of “fake news” and blaming his woes on enemies, real or imagined, in the Democratic Party, in the deep state, even in Fox News. This is what we have come to expect from the president, and the easiest, sanest response is to shut it out, to let the mad old man shake his fist at whatever shape he might see in the clouds crossing his ever-darkening sky.

    Yet there has been something particularly jumpy about Trump’s response to the coronavirus, which, having claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 people worldwide, has now gained a toehold in the United States. At a press conference on Wednesday, he said, “The risk to the American people remains very low.” He claimed that more cases in America are not “inevitable,” even though moments earlier, Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, had said, “We do expect more cases.” (The Washington Post broke the news of the first confirmed coronavirus case in California during the press conference.) He insisted that his administration is “very, very ready for this,” that Johns Hopkins had deemed America “No. 1 for being prepared” for epidemics, and that “this will end.” There was a strong whiff of wish fulfillment in all these strenuous assertions, just as when Trump earlier maintained, with zero evidence, that the coronavirus “miraculously goes away” when warmer weather arrives.

    You could argue that this is typical Trump, spreading disinformation and spin like so much ink from a startled squid. But his response also reveals a deep unease, a recognition on Trump’s part, through the apocalyptic swirl of his own paranoia, that the coronavirus represents a very real threat to his presidency.

    In a statement, Bernie Sanders attacked Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, a former Big Pharma executive who doubled the price of insulin during his time at Eli Lilly, for refusing to guarantee that a vaccine for the coronavirus would be affordable for all. “Under the Trump doctrine,” Sanders said, “if you are wealthy, you can buy a vaccine and not succumb to the sickness. If you are poor or working class, you may have to get sick and even die.”

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  3. Post Offices Are the Lifeblood of Rural America—Yet Bloomberg Dismisses Them as ‘Antiquated’

    The billionaire’s glib Obama-era speeches and interviews regarding rural issues are a political liability.

    Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. (John Bazemore / AP Photo)

    When then–New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke to the Economic Club of Washington a few years back, he delivered a typical billionaire speech that assigned equal blame to the Democratic Party of President Barack Obama and the Republican Party of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell for a “paralysis” in Washington that was “standing in the way of a full recovery.”

    Echoing the messaging of a number of billionaires at the time, Bloomberg preached an austerity-inclined gospel with a heavy emphasis on deficit reduction.

    But buried in the speech were references to rural America and to services that are vital to small towns and farm country, like the United States Postal Service. They ought to raise alarm bells regarding Bloomberg’s current quest for the president.

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  4. How to travel during the international coronavirus outbreak

    With Covid-19 cases surging in Italy, South Korea, and Iran, travel has become increasingly fraught.

    * People wear antivirus masks to protect themselves from Coronavirus infection in Rome, Italy. Italy has become the focal point of the outbreak in Europe. Matteo Nardone/LightRocket via Getty Images *

    The map of Covid-19 spread around the world looks a lot different than it did just a week ago. While new infections are slowing down in China, they’re rapidly picking up pace around the globe.

    Countries as far and wide as Bahrain, Kuwait, Austria, Spain, Brazil, and Afghanistan are now reporting cases. Newly discovered outbreaks in Italy, Iran, and South Korea have surged virtually overnight, suggesting the virus was already spreading widely within their borders and that the world is on the brink of a pandemic — or already in one. (To be clear, a disease outbreak can become a pandemic without being especially severe or fatal.)

    It’s impossible to predict with certainty where the virus will show up next or where it may die down, which makes planning vacation and business travel trickier than usual.

    Vacationers in Tenerife, Spain, certainly did not imagine their trip including a coronavirus hotel lockdown this week. People on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan could not have foreseen spending their holiday in quarantine. Austrians trying to get home from Italy by train last weekend probably didn’t anticipate their schedules getting disrupted because of the virus.

    That’s in addition to the border closures that have already happened around China and Iran, and the quarantines and travel restrictions in those and other countries that have often sprung up out of nowhere. These changes have had a significant impact on people’s lives and the global economy. And this may just be the start.

    With international travel becomes increasingly fraught, here are some basic questions about how to assess travel safety, answered.

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  5. Mike Bloomberg’s Identity Politics

    A Bloomberg presidency would be a return to normalcy for America—a daunting prospect for everyone who isn’t white and wealthy.

    Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

    Mike Bloomberg is a boss, and he’s got the hat to prove it. Ahead of the South Carolina primary, for which he will not be on the ballot, and the ensuing Super Tuesday elections, for which he will, Bloomberg has made his brand clear for voters: a rich man who gets shit done. (He is also not a socialist, according to the hat.)
    Bloomberg 2020

    The former mayor of New York City, rich even by billionaire standards, occasionally donates slivers of his inconceivably massive pile of money to decent politicians and causes. But his actual legacy is that of a politician and business owner who knows how to use his wealth to manipulate power and muddle media reporting. It’s stop and frisk and sweeping Muslim surveillance. It’s “Kill it,” and an untold number of nondisclosure agreements that insulate him from the consequences of his actions.

    Before launching his presidential bid, Bloomberg used his wealth to sanitize this record, and it worked. He was welcomed at elite conferences about “ideas” and “innovation,” became chummy with the mayors whose cities and pet projects he helped fund, and made himself—out of a long history of sexism and racism—into something marketable. A boss. He was, as my former colleague Megan Greenwell wrote of this particular type, one of the people who “genuinely believe that they are rich because they are smart and that they are smart because they are rich, and that anyone less rich is by definition less smart.”

    What Bloomberg promises is a sense of political seamlessness and technocratic efficiency that many liberals and moderates mistake for justice. That’s how it worked in New York City under his leadership—as Black and Latinx men and women were terrorized by police, as the number of people living outside swelled, and public housing crumbled, wealthy white New Yorkers largely saw order and tranquility. A mayor who knew how to get things done.

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  6. Who Really Owns Spotify?

    According to a flurry of new SEC filings, financial giants now claim big chunks of the streaming service

    *Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images *

    Long-term investors in Spotify required nerves of steel in 2019. Last year saw Spotify’s public valuation on the New York Stock Exchange rise as high as $28.34 billion ($157.66 per share on August 8th) but sink as low as $19.65 billion ($112.52 per share, October 1st) during a tempestuous third quarter. That market cap recovered, at year end, to $27.57 billion ($149.55 per share, December 31st).

    Reading these observations about Spotify, which went public on the NYSE in 2018, might conjure visions of millions of amateur investors gritting their teeth as their bet on audio streaming’s biggest company shows signs of paying off … and then not paying off … and then paying off again. But the truth is, according to a flurry of new SEC filings I’ve scoured in the past month, at the close of 2019, more than a third of the streaming firm was actually owned by institutional investors such as Morgan Stanley — with each of these commercial giants holding stakes of more than five percent each.

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  7. As I posted previously most of the reaction to Sanders is based on the hyperventilating by pundits/show hosts on the corporate media fearful of losing their 7 figure salaries that has been granting them access to the world of the elites.

    The reality of Sanders’ political views is not what they are regurgitating on cable news. The reality is Sanders’ spin on democratic socialism would be mainstream in say France or Germany where it’s just accepted as a component of the political landscape, but Sanders’ views are his own and in no way align with communists or radical socialists.

    Are these views too radical for you?

    • Putting an end to foreign wars
    • Reduce the military budget
    • Expand Medicare for everyone
    • Abolish the Death Penalty
    • Eliminate mandatory minimum sentences
    • Eliminate private prisons
    • Cancelling student debt
    • Eliminate the Electoral College
    • Ban fracking
    • Break up agribusiness

    This is not a radical revolutionary agenda. It is revolutionary in that it would take control of our government out of the hands of the uber rich.

    Sanders is not a radical socialist, radical socialists want to:

    • nationalize the banks, Sanders does not
    • nationalize the fossil fuel industry, Sanders does not
    • nationalize the arms industry, Sanders does not
    • criminally prosecute the financial elites who trashed our economy, Sanders does not
    • prosecute the politicians who lied us into preemptive wars which were anything but and resulted in the death of millions costing us $5-7T, Sanders does not
    • call for worker ownership of factories and business, Sanders does not
    • call for an end to capitalism, Sanders does not

    Also it’s good to know Sanders:

    • Does’t promise to halt the govt’s wholesale surveillance of the public
    • Will not punish companies who move manufacturing overseas
    • Believes the political system, including the Democratic Party can be reformed from within
    • Does not support sustained mass civil disobedience to bring down the system as the only hope of halting climate change

    When you take in all of this, Sanders is not radical at all, he’s more of an enlightened moderate making all the vicious attacks against him absolutely disingenuous. That’s because they are. Be smarter than they are, argue the facts not the fears of those in the media of losing a very cushy lifestyle.

    Source: https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-new-rules-of-the-game/

  8. Sinn Féin to hold public meetings around country to rally support for government efforts

    Meetings aim to rally public support for Sinn Féin’s efforts to get into government

    Over the next fortnight, meetings are planned for Dublin, Galway, Cavan and Newry, but with the first taking place in Cork on Monday night. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

    Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has announced plans to hold a series of public meetings over the next two weeks, starting in the Cork South Central constituency where Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin is a TD.

    The meetings aim to rally public support for Sinn Féin’s efforts to get into government. Over the next fortnight, meetings are planned for Dublin, Galway, Cavan and Newry, but with the first taking place in Cork on Monday night.

    Ms McDonald said Sinn Féin had not only obtained the largest number of votes in the general election but received more votes for the position of taoiseach than either Mr Martin or Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar when nominations were sought for the position in Dáil Éireann on Thursday.

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  9. Bloomberg Money Manager Steven Rattner Uses Media Appearances to Attack His Boss’s Rivals

    Rattner and Blloomberg embody the rigged system Sanders and Warren are fighting

    On November 4, financier Steven Rattner published an op-ed in the New York Times headlined “The Warren Way Is the Wrong Way.” An Elizabeth Warren presidency is “a terrifying prospect,” Rattner wrote, for “she would extend the reach and weight of the federal government far further into the economy than anything even President Franklin Roosevelt imagined.” Warren might call herself a capitalist, but her “panoply of minutely detailed plans” shows that she would “turn America’s uniquely successful public-private relationship into a dirigiste, European-style system. If you want to live in France (economically), Elizabeth Warren should be your candidate.”

    The Times identified Rattner thus: “Steven Rattner, a counselor to the Treasury secretary in the Obama administration, is a Wall Street executive and a contributing writer.” It did not mention Rattner’s current position: chair and CEO of Willett Advisors, which manages the personal and philanthropic assets of Michael Bloomberg. At the time, Bloomberg was very publicly considering a run for president. With Rattner attacking one of Bloomberg’s rivals, readers deserved to know of his financial relationship to him. (Since November 24, when Bloomberg entered the race, two columns by Rattner have mentioned the Willett connection.)

    Rattner also appears regularly on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” (and, from time to time, on “Hardball With Chris Matthews,” “All In With Chris Hayes,” and “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell”). Only recently has Morning Joe begun to mention Rattner’s Bloomberg connections, and then but briefly. On January 28, Rattner went after Bernie Sanders on “Morning Joe.” While Elizabeth Warren’s Medicare for All plan had been closely scrutinized, Rattner said, Sanders’s version — though even more expensive — had not. He displayed a chart showing how much federal spending would (by his estimate) increase under each candidate over 10 years: 1.5 percent for Joe Biden, 2 percent for Pete Buttigieg, 12 percent for Warren, and 20 percent for Sanders. No one was discussing this, Rattner complained. The main reason, he ventured, is that Sanders is “like everybody’s eccentric uncle. We all have an eccentric uncle. Not a lot of people thought he was a serious contender for the nomination and so he has not been subjected, I don’t believe, to the same dissection of his plans and policies.” Rattner’s role as Bloomberg’s money manager was fleetingly noted.

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  10. Nevada caucuses: Bernie Sanders wins in resounding victory

    *Sanders solidifies status as national frontrunner
    *Centrists trail behind
    *Biden declares: ‘We’re alive’

    Bernie Sanders celebrates thunderous Nevada caucuses win – video

    The Vermont senator Bernie Sanders won the caucuses in Nevada, solidifying his frontrunner status in the race for the Democratic nomination.

    “We’ve brought together a multigenerational, multiracial coalition that is not only going to win Nevada, it’s going to sweep this country,” Sanders told supporters in San Antonio, Texas, after the Associated Press and several US networks projected his win.

    With almost half of precincts officially reported, Sanders held a large lead on Saturday night. At this stage of results, the former vice-president Joe Biden appeared to be in second place, with the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Elizabeth Warren trailing behind.

    The Nevada caucuses come at a critical moment in the Democratic primary, a week before the South Carolina race and just before Super Tuesday, in March, when 14 states will vote. In a state that is nearly 30% Latino, 10% black and has a rapidly growing Asian American community, the Nevada results were a compelling sign of Sanders’ strength in diverse states that more closely reflect the demographics of the Democratic party.

    The victory for the self-proclaimed democratic socialist follows strong results in Iowa and New Hampshire this month and his momentum comes as the support of more centrist Democratic voters remains divided among his rivals. With none of those moderate Democrats indicating they’ll drop out anytime soon, Sanders has a solid lead in the race to win the nomination and take on Trump.

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