We tend to focus on the losses, the outrages, the lapses, and the criminal behaviors of the federal and state governments’ responses to the Coronavirus pandemic. However, we ought to focus on the heroes, too. And we have a group of over 40 “heroes of the pandemic,” employees at a small-town manufacturing plant in Pennsylvania. We’re truly honored to be able to give back and support people we will never meet in some way. All the first responders, all the people on the front lines, we thank you. That’s what makes our job easy to do. –Shift supervisor Joe Boyce These workers stayed at the Braskem America plant in Marcus Hook, near Philadelphia, for 28 days straight to make material needed to construct PPE (personal protective [medical] equipment). The finally clocked out on Sunday, April 19. They volunteered to stay 28 days straight to make polypropylene, the raw material used to produce a non-woven fiber used to make N95 masks, hospital gowns and sanitary wipes. Braskem set up a rotation and facilities for employees to sleep, eat and bathe after working 12-hour shifts, never leaving the site. Braskem explains the rotation was “to help ensure the health and safety of our team members who are working as an essential service throughout this crisis to keep these key supply lines running. None of the employees left the plant during that time. They spoke to their families and friends via remote connections and occasional drive-by visits from loved ones who waved signs and honked their horns in support. The company gave them a wage increase and provided beds, food, kitchens, internet access and iPads. Some workers in Braskem plants in Texas and Virginia did the same. Shift supervisor Joe Boyce told a local reporter: “There’s been a glow in everyone’s eyes. We’re truly honored to be able to give back and support people we will never meet in some way. All the first responders, all the people on the front lines, we thank you. That’s what makes our job easy to do.” The employees are currently enjoying a week off before they return to their normal shifts. Boyce told the reporter: “We’ve almost been the lucky ones, I’ll say for the last 28 days because I haven’t had to stand six feet from somebody. I haven’t had to put a mask on.” I’d like to report more of these stories as I find them. Let me know in the comments if that’s something you’d like to read.
In this brave new world of near-mindless Trump fanatics who’d rather kill millions than go against their cult leader, it’s refreshing to see a high-ranking Republican go against Der Fuehrer’s orders on behalf of the people he governs. Governor Larry Hogan (R-MD) should never had had to do what he did. In a sane society, under a sane federal government, Hogan, like every US state and territorial governor, would have received as many Covid-19 tests and PPE items he could have asked for. That’s not what happened. Hogan had to reach out to South Korea for a “midnight requisition” of 500,000 tests, in a mission he titled “Operation Enduring Friendship.” On Saturday, First Lady Yumi Hogan and I stood on the tarmac at @BWI_Airport to welcome the first ever Korean Air passenger plane, carrying a very important payload of LabGun #COVID19 test kits which will give MD the capability of performing half a million coronavirus tests. pic.twitter.com/Elf0ADIRnJ — Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) April 20, 2020 (I learned about “midnight requisitions” from a wonderful book, Warm Bodies, which I read for the first time at about age 10. The senior officers on the lowly Navy LST would sneak aboard larger and better-provisioned destroyers, cruisers and the like while in port and “requisition” items they wanted or needed but couldn’t get through the usual labyrinthine logistical routes. Go find the book, if you can.) Hogan has been walking a tightrope on behalf of Maryland’s citizens, as so many others have done in times of crisis to avoid bruising Trump’s swollen and fragile ego — and suffering the consequences Trump will inflict upon said citizens. But his efforts were doomed to failure, and he knew it. Hogan endorsed Trump’s impeachment in 2019. After that, it was inevitable that Trump would look for an opportunity to hurt Hogan in retaliation. And what better way than to kill the citizens Hogan was elected to govern? So, a month ago, Hogan decided to take matters into his own hands. His wife, Yumi, is South Korean. She spoke in Korean with Lee Soo Hyuck, South Korea’s ambassador to the US. Yumi Hogan capitalized on her status as the first Korean-American first lady in US history to ask for assistance. “We made a personal plea, in Korean, asking for their assistance,” Hogan recalls. “That call set in motion 22 straight days of vetting, testing, negotiations, and protocols between our scientists and doctors, eight Maryland state government agencies and our counterparts in Korea.” He says negotiations took place almost nightly, and “sometimes, it seemed like all night.” Hogan and his officials began securing — quietly — the necessary approvals from a variety of federal agencies so that the chartered Korean Air flight could land unmolested at the Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport. Why the secrecy? Hogan freely acknowledges that he feared the federal government would seize the tests and spirit them away to God knows where. Hogan declines to say what steps he took to keep that from happening. Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, harshly criticized Trump after Hogan’s story went public, saying the administration’s response to the pandemic has been “so slow, and so ineffective, that the Governor of Maryland — a Republican — had to turn to South Korea to get badly-needed tests.” Hogan later adds: “Each part of this international collaboration […]
Today this tweet popped up. Dear Cabinet Officials: Today’s #coronavirus briefing went from bad to worse. Deeply troubling. Some people are saying it may be time to invoke the #25thAmendment. Thoughts? — Hakeem Jeffries (@RepJeffries) April 18, 2020 So, why should we give a damn? This is probably the millionth time someone with sense has called for Trump’s ouster via the 25th Amendment. And Pence, who is the only one who can trigger it, will never, ever do it. Why is this important? For the simple reason that Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) is the Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, one of the main players in the House impeachment proceedings, and a House Democrat close to both Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff. He’s a rising star in Democratic politics, and a powerful voice in the black and progressive Democratic communities. And, most importantly, because Jeffries, a member of the House leadership, would have never issued such a damning tweet if Pelosi and the House Leadership weren’t behind it. I almost titled this “House Leadership Calls for 25th Amendment Invocation,” but that would be going further than Jeffries went. But not a lot further. In short: Nancy Pelosi and the House Democratic leadership are calling for the White House to consider kicking Trump’s ass to the curb via the 25th Amendment. So what in Bog’s name did the stupid son of a bitch say this time? Well, I didn’t watch it. I don’t watch any of his stunt “briefings.” The media pays people hazard pay to stick their heads in that rhetorical sewage pipe every day and extract…something…out of it. Here’s what I’ve gleaned from today’s Two-Minute Hate: I challenge you to try and make sense of this Trump rant pic.twitter.com/4umIOeHle2 — Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 18, 2020 I tried. I really did try to listen to all 39 seconds of it. I felt a blood vessel over my eye start to throb about ten seconds in, and I ceased-and-desisted. He told a blizzard of lies. Nothing new here. CNN has a breakdown of Trump’s daily breakdown. Apparently he tried to claim that having less casualties to COVID-19 than we suffered during World War I is a good thing. Or something. Trump left the poduim at 6:16. (No one reported if he left a trail of diarrhea leakage behind him as he stalked off the stage.) Jeffries posted his tweet 33 minutes later. I have no idea what specifically prompted Jeffries to issue his call to consider a 25th Amendment remedy for Trump today. Maybe Pelosi just had as much of his vitrolic spew as she could handle. Maybe Jeffries just threw his hands up and said “Fuck it, let’s light this candle.” Whatever it was, I guarantee he ran it by Pelosi before posting it. Twitter is a truly ephemeral flavor of social media. 99% plus of all tweets sink without a trace within minutes. This one may well sink right along with the rest of them. But I think it may not. It is a shot fired across the White House’s bow by the House Democrats. For the first time that I’m aware of, a senior member of the House Democratic leadership publicly suggested that the 25th Amendment — the removal of the sitting president because he is mentally unfit for the job — […]
Amash Running as an Independent Presidential Candidate? Okay, Should We Care? The Answer is “Maybe.”
US Representative Justin Amash (I-MI) is considering a run as a third-party independent. You’d be forgiven by asking, “Who?” You’d also be forgiven for adding, “Why should I care?” Well, the answer to the second question is, “Maybe you shouldn’t, but…” Amash is a former Tea Party darling who entered Congress as part of the sewage tsunami that overran Congress in 2010. He’s more libertarian than most of the right-wing bottom feeders, and in his own way, he has some integrity about him. Position-wise, he’s hard to pin down. He’s 100% against abortion in any form, but is also against the death penalty in federal prisons. Then, in February 2020, he was one of the four Congressional members to vote against a landmark anti-lynching bill. He opposes the EPA, doesn’t believe the government should take any actions to mitigate climate change, and even voted against providing funding for water provisioning to Flint, Michigan. There’s more, but you get the idea. He encapsulates the ideal of the far-right libertarian, actually better than libertarian darling Rand Paul (R-Thug), who is just a white supremacist who has Atlas Shrugged downloaded to his Kindle app. At any rate, we don’t want him in government at all, even if he does have a sense of integrity that most of his (former) GOP colleagues totally lack. His ideology and policy stances are 175.2 degrees away from ours (that figure is a rough estimate, of course). But he did win some fans when, in mid-2019, he began telling anyone who would listen that he believed Trump had committed impeachable acts. No one in the GOP was surprised: Amash was always a Never Trumper, and has been targeted as one of Trump’s innumerable “enemies” since at least 2017. Amash supported the conclusions of the Mueller Report, and left the Republican Party shortly thereafter. He was the only non-Democrat in the House to vote for impeachment. At least five Republicans are running to unseat Amash, so it’s no surprise that he may want to do something to either revitalize his House campaign or step away from Congress altogether. On April 13, he tweeted that he was considering a run for the White House because “Americans who believe in limited government deserve another option.” Americans who believe in limited government deserve another option. https://t.co/c7P2vOTyOe — Justin Amash (@justinamash) April 13, 2020 Well, Americans deserve better than Trump, that’s certain. But they also deserve better than Amash. Regardless. It’s pointless to analyze Amash’s potential for good or bad as president, because he won’t win. He may not choose to run. Certainly the Never Trumpers at The Bulwark (the conservative site headed by William Kristol and Charlie Sykes, among others) don’t want him to. They are very clear on their reasoning: they love everything about Amash and would wet themselves in glee if by some electoral miracle he could gain the White House, but since that won’t happen, his “run could help reelect Donald Trump.” Yup. Authors Sarah Longwell and Tim Miller are very clear: This isn’t an easy call. On one hand, we want to be for him — to have the joy and satisfaction of getting behind the constitutional superhero of our dreams. But on the other hand, there is a downside risk to his running and the price of a second Trump term […]
Let’s acknowledge right up front that the people we’re welcoming to our bosom today are not our friends. George Conway III is a corporate lawyer and a proud member of the Federalist Society. Reed Galen is a veteran political consultant who helped inflict George W. Bush on the Oval Office. John Weaver is another political consultant who tried to give us John McCain and John Kasich as presidents. Steve Schmidt is the political consultant who thought the best choice for vice president in 2008 was Sarah Palin. Rick Wilson, another political consultant, gave us a truly brutal campaign ad that tried to tie war hero Max Cleland to Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. In normal times, we would be pillorying them for the damage they helped inflict on our country. These are not normal times. These five are board members of The Lincoln Project, the “hive mind” of what the mainstream media has giddily dubbed the “Never Trumpers,” a loose coterie of Republicans who have taken what they say is a principled stance against the modern GOP, because it “has abdicated” the responsibility of serving the people and respecting the Constitution, “and instead pledged their loyalty to one person.” I agree completely, but damn, y’all. Sarah Palin? George W. Bush? Sarah Palin? Let’s let them explain a bit: Patriotism and the survival of our nation in the face of the crimes, corruption and corrosive nature of Donald Trump are a higher calling than mere politics. As Americans, we must stem the damage he and his followers are doing to the rule of law, the Constitution and the American character. … Congressional Republicans have embraced and copied Mr. Trump’s cruelty and defended and even adopted his corruption. Mr. Trump and his enablers have abandoned conservatism and longstanding Republican principles and replaced it with Trumpism, an empty faith led by a bogus prophet. … [Between now and November], our efforts will be dedicated to defeating President Trump and Trumpism at the ballot box and to elect those patriots who will hold the line. Yes, indeed. I agree absolutely. And in normal times, I would continue with a “But” or a “However,” and qualify this new-found resistance to Republican criminality and excess with a reminder of how they were involved and complicit with the high crimes and misdemeanors of the Bush administration and other nests of GOP wrongdoing. I’m not going to do that for today. In fact, I’m not going to do it between now and November. Because these are not normal times. The five members of the Lincoln Project wrote an op-ed published on April 15 that reads in part: This November, Americans will cast their most consequential votes since Abraham Lincoln’s reelection in 1864. We confront a constellation of crises: a public health emergency not seen in a century, an economic collapse set to rival the Great Depression, and a world where American leadership is absent and dangers rise in the vacuum. Today, the United States is beset with a president who was unprepared for the burden of the presidency and who has made plain his deficits in leadership, management, intelligence and morality. So they’ve taken a step unprecedented in modern American history. They, prominent Republican movers and shakers all, have turned their backs on their party and endorsed Joe Biden […]
If, like me, you’re torn between supporting many progressive policies but not supporting Bernie Sanders and many of his “Our Revolution” candidates, there’s a very good reason for that. It’s never been about the policies. We’ve always supported some version of the Green New Deal, or Medicare for All/single payer/something similar, rectifying economic inequality, and the like. And it isn’t about hating Bernie. But there was something off about Bernie and his progressive warriors. David Atkins has put his finger on it. It wasn’t all Sanders’s contentious, “my way or the highway” approach, or even the toxicity of his “Bernie Irregulars.” It was what Atkins calls his old-school Marxist electoral policies. As Atkins points out, he and his fellow leftists have lost, and lost big, four times in recent years. He got paddled in 2016 (all conspiracy theory bullshit notwithstanding), his progressive candidates lost their shirts in the 2018 US House elections, UK soulmate Jeremy Corbyn got stomped in 2019, and Sanders lost in 2020 to an aging centrist who, until he clobbered Sanders on Super Tuesday, was running a fading campaign. So what did everyone get wrong? Let’s let Atkins explain it: What did lose unequivocally, however, was a certain brand of anti-partisan class revolutionary electoral politics rooted in industrial-era Marxist theory. … [R]egardless of leftist policy, a strain of Marxist theory since the late 19th century has posited that the left can usher in a socialist utopia by uniting the workers of the world — and that any cultural divisions within the working class that get in the way are the product of false consciousness and manufactured consent to prevent the proletariat from arising together to overthrow their capitalist chains. In keeping with this tradition, leftists who subscribe to this ideology see the hyper-partisan divides of the modern era as the ultimate artificial divisive construct, and are adamantly hostile to a political reality in which suburban middle-class professionals (regardless of race, gender or culture) dominate the party of the “left” while blue-collar rurals (again regardless of race, gender or culture) dominate the “right.” For the readers munching Cheetos, trying to keep the dog off the couch (good luck with that), and trying to watch a rerun of Forensic Files while reading this on your phone, let’s do that again in simpler language. Bernie and the candidates like him lost because they ran on a set of assumptions that were fundamentally wrong. (Hang on, let me help. “Down, Rover! Who’s a good boy?”) The “workers of the world,” for all of their differences, are, as the assumptions go, tied together by their class status. The cultural divisions — race, ethnicity, gender identity, religion, you name it — are just false and should be fought against. Are you still wrestling with Rover? Come on, just let him stay on the couch. He won’t hurt anything. Let him have the Cheetos. It’ll be okay. See how this is a failure? Race, ethnicity, gender identity, religion, all of it, are hugely important to us. LBJ knew it because he lived in it: If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you. But Sanders, with […]
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Awesome) was a guest judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race Friday night. The episode, filmed before everyone not named Thomas Massie or Florida Guy had to go into isolation, featured a Drag Race classic, the “Rusical.” (Full disclosure: I like Drag Race. My wife loves Drag Race.) As guest judge along with series regulars Michelle Visage and Carson Kressley and fellow guest judge Winnie Harlow, she critiqued the performances of the nine remaining queens. She isn’t stupid; she knew every single word and facial expression she made would be scrutinized and used against her by her political opponents. So she remained relentlessly positive, leaving the tart comments to Carson, Michelle and Mama Ru. Backstage she really shone. Aficionados of the show stay the extra thirty minutes after to watch Untucked, the “behind the scenes” show where the queens hit the “werk room” and engage in fun banter and not-so-fun spats. (All reality shows have to have a requisite amount of drama. Untucked does not disappoiint.) Ocasio-Cortez joined the ladies backstage and was luminous: winsome, humble, and extraordinarily supportive of the queens and their personal anxieties and shortcomings. The show highlighted her in a short clip on Twitter: “The people who change what people think are artists and drag queens, and let’s not forget who threw that first brick at Stonewall.” ✊???????? – @AOC #DragRace #Untucked pic.twitter.com/vrfFFzZP9j — RuPaul's Drag Race (@RuPaulsDragRace) April 11, 2020 We already knew AOC is a funster from way back. We already knew she is an extraordinarily smart representative who excels in pinning sleazy administration officials and Trump minions down with incisive questioning. This episode of Drag Race highlighted her innate humanity and deep empathy. Many progressives, from Bernie Sanders on down the line, are good at making powerful speeches about noble abstractions and policy initiatives. AOC has a street-level humanity and warmth about her that the others generally fail to show. More than just about any of her fellow progressives, she connects with people on a fundamental, human level. Maybe she learned to do that while helping her mother eke out a living for their family, or while tending bar to pay for her college education. Maybe she was born with it. I don’t know. But I can say with all confidence that it is precisely because of the humanity, her humility, and her sense of fun that we saw on display in this episode of a show about drag queens, that she can elevate herself to the highest levels of American leadership. I take a certain pride in describing myself as an irascible old bastard, but Friday night I guess I was just another fanboi. Whoda thunk it?
“You know why the Democratic Party is going more centrist? Because the ‘progressive’ movement is fully of pouty little bitches who’ll take their football and go home if Bernie isn’t anointed King. We end up having to try and peel away some disaffected Republicans who might vote for a Biden or God forbid, a Bloomberg, but would never in a million years vote for an avowed socialist. You want to affect the party? You want to reform the party? Get over your little snit and work for it.” — former Sanders supporter J.D. Rhoades, April 2020 People ask me, “Max?” they ask. “How is it that you are as big a leftist as you are and you never supported Bernie Sanders?” Okay, no one actually asks me that, but it reads better. Bear with me. I’ve taken these tests that show where you fall on the liberal-conservative, libertarian-authoritarian axes. If the resulting chart was a dartboard, my result would be what would happen if my drunken Uncle Luther flung a dart in its general direction: barely striking the board in the lower left corner, less than an inch away from the guy who’s passed out on the jukebox. I mean, I kick Bernie’s ass on that chart. I’m actually further left than Noam Chomsky! How does that happen? (My scores: Economic Left/Right: -9.5 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -8.05) And don’t get me started on where Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton are on that chart. But I voted for both of them over Sanders. (Okay, I actually voted for Sanders in 2016, but that was a strategic vote to persuade Clinton to move further left. I didn’t want Sanders to win the nomination in either year.) Max…you got some ‘splainin’ to do. Maybe this will help. So often, stories of transformative change start with a beautiful girl and a guy shuffling his feet and trying not to let his tongue loll out. In my case it was a girl named Terry. 8th grade. She was beautiful, outspoken and I don’t think she wore a bra, though there was no way inarticulate, foot-shuffling me would ever address that. She was just so goddamned leftist. I loved it. She walked the walk and talked the talk. We visited Washington, DC that year, where our US Senator, Jesse Helms (R-Lynch Mob, if you don’t recall him) formally welcomed us to the seat of the federal government. Terry told me not to stand up when he entered the room. We didn’t. We got in trouble. I didn’t care. I was Standing Up (or Sitting Down, in this case) To The Man. She moved after that year, but I kept going, reading Armies of the Night and articles in The Nation along with what I later divined were vastly contrasting views in Robert Heinlein and Jerome Tuccille, who taught me that Ayn Rand was full of marinated horseshit (an excellent lesson for a precocious 14-year old to learn). In college (UNC-Chapel Hill) I briefly hung out with members of the Communist Workers Party after the 1979 Greensboro Massacre, and met a young New England woman whose name absolutely escapes me. She dressed and did her hair like Honey from Doonesbury (think pretty young Chinese girl in Mao outfits). I thought she was interested in me as a friend and […]