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Zorro's Journal
Zorro's Journal
March 24, 2020

The Coronavirus Bailout Stalled. And It's Mitch McConnell's Fault.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky failed to do his job this weekend. As the economy spiraled downward, Mr. McConnell, the Senate majority leader, said he would produce a bipartisan bailout bill authorizing an infusion of desperately needed aid.

Instead, Mr. McConnell emerged on Sunday evening with a bill that would provide a lot of help for corporate executives and shareholders, and not nearly enough for American workers. It would let the Treasury Department hand out hundreds of billions of dollars to corporations — potentially including businesses owned by President Trump — without requiring a binding commitment to preserve jobs and wages. And the bailouts could remain secret for six months.

Senate Democrats, refusing to play along, blocked the bill in a procedural vote on Sunday night and again on Monday afternoon. But responsibility for the deadlock rests squarely on Mr. McConnell’s shoulders.

The Federal Reserve unveiled a new set of needed programs to support the economy on Monday morning, expanding its “whatever it takes” crisis response. The operational independence of the central bank is once again proving its value, but Congress must resist the inclination to treat the Fed’s actions as an alternative to fiscal policy. Instead, senators must emulate the Fed’s urgency and authorize a set of supersize economic rescue programs.


March 23, 2020

Self-Isolated Woman Going So Crazy She's Started Talking To Her Spouse

BEAVERTON, OR—Confined to home as her second full week of social distancing began, local woman Stephanie Kunath was going so crazy in self-isolation that she had started talking to her spouse, sources confirmed Monday.

“Quarantine is definitely making me a little unhinged, like earlier today when I was thinking about what I was going to make for lunch and suddenly realized I’d been speaking out loud to [her husband] Jeff the whole time!” said Kunath, who admitted it was “kind of nice, in a way” to have someone to chat with, even if she knew no one was really listening.

“Then a while later, I blurted out, ‘It’s a pretty day today,’ and before I knew it, I was talking to him about all kinds of things I’d normally just think silently to myself. Clearly, I’m losing my mind! I should go on a walk before I really snap and start talking to the kids, too.”

Kunath added that she would know it was time to get professional help if she actually started hearing her husband say things back to her.


March 23, 2020

Nation Close To Getting Videoconferencing Software To Work

WASHINGTON—Explaining that they almost had the online communication application fully figured out, the nation reportedly announced Monday that they were close to getting their videoconferencing software to work.

“Hello, hello, okay, I can see you now, but I can’t hear you—is there something else I need to do?” said 327 million Americans in unison while trying to figure out how to unmute themselves as they combed through their computer’s system preferences trying to locate their audio settings, unsure if they needed to disconnect their bluetooth headphones or download a new plug-in.

“Wait, I clicked on the icon on the bottom left, but now all of you are frozen. Sorry, now I don’t see anyone, but I hear a dog barking. Is that right? Do I need to click something else? Actually, I’m just gonna try restarting my computer and hopefully that will fix it. Make sure to re-invite me after I leave, though.”

After successfully connecting to the call, the U.S. populace immediately pivoted toward asking how they could change their backgrounds so it looked like they were on a beach.

March 23, 2020

The GOP just smuggled another awful provision into the stimulus

With coronavirus cases in the U.S. mounting into the tens of thousands and our economy sliding into recession, Washington is locked in a brutal standoff over a $1.8 trillion economic rescue package. Democrats are outraged by a measure that budgets $500 billion for corporate bailouts that the administration could administer with little transparency, which they call a “slush fund.”

That provision is bad enough. But there’s another one hidden in the massive stimulus bill, which was drafted by Senate Republicans, that Democrats also see as a major sticking point.

And the battle that’s brewing over this particular provision says a great deal about the stark divide between the parties’ priorities over how to help the country through this crisis.

The provision in question is a limitation on funding that the GOP stimulus bill has built into the measure that sets aside $350 billion to provide loans for small businesses. That money would be available to small businesses that don’t lay off workers.

According to language in the bill forwarded to me by a senior Senate Democratic aide, this provision excludes “nonprofits receiving Medicaid expenditures,” which would not be eligible for those loans.


March 23, 2020

Dr. Fauci Reports That Alcohol May Help People Survive Coronavirus Briefings

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Calling it a “promising development,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Sunday that alcohol may help people survive the most severe effects of coronavirus briefings.

Noting that millions of Americans have been exposed to the daily briefings of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Fauci said that he had voluntarily submitted to a preliminary trial of the alcohol-based therapy.

“What we have found is that a single dosage before the briefing and as much as a double dosage after the briefing do much to alleviate the most acute suffering,” Fauci said.

The esteemed virologist said that if Americans are able to administer additional doses during the briefings, “Consider yourself lucky.” But, even as Fauci hailed the benefits of the new treatment, he sounded a note of caution. “The effect of this medication is temporary,” he said. “Sadly.”

Fauci’s findings are in line with anecdotal reports indicating that Americans have been alleviating symptoms in a similar manner since November, 2016.


March 23, 2020

As coronavirus spreads, so do doubts about America's ability to meet the moment

As the novel coronavirus spreads through communities across the country, it poses a critical question: Can America’s people, institutions and government collectively rise to the occasion to defeat a once-in-a-generation crisis?

With a global pandemic testing the country’s political, financial, social and moral fabric, there are growing signs that answering in the affirmative has become increasingly difficult.

Bureaucratic missteps have led to a shortfall in tests needed to determine the true scope of the virus. Hospitals are pleading for more medical equipment as doctors resort to using homemade masks. Financial markets have lost a third of their value in less than a month. Reveling spring breakers have hit the beaches in defiance of a nationwide social distancing campaign.

Companies, some of which celebrated tax cuts by rewarding shareholders with record stock buybacks, are preparing to lay off millions of workers while pleading for a government bailout.


I think it's only a matter of time before Trump tries to shut down all criticism of his response to this crisis. We are governed by an incompetent nincompoop supported by a party of criminals, cowards, and traitors.

March 22, 2020

Trump poses, while these governors actually lead

When the president fails America, we often turn to state governors in a desperate search for leadership.

This is what happened at the start of the Great Depression. When President Herbert Hoover failed to adequately acknowledge and confront the crisis, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was then the governor of New York, took aggressive steps at the state level, setting up an emergency relief program, for example, to help the unemployed.

This is exactly what is happening now. Millions of Americans have already upended their lives. While the coronavirus pandemic claims an increasing number of lives and cripples our economy, President Donald Trump continues to spread disinformation and attack the press, which is working to get accurate, timely information to the public.

For those who were hoping Trump might rise to the occasion, it's likely that turning point may never come. Fortunately for the country, others are stepping in to fill the void.


March 22, 2020

This wouldn't have happened if Hillary Clinton had won

The coronavirus is the most foreseeable disaster in history — and so is President Trump’s inability to rise to the occasion.

There were scattered warnings before Pearl Harbor and 9/11 of what was to come. But nothing like this. My Post colleagues report that throughout January and February, the U.S. intelligence community was warning Trump that the pandemic was going to hit America. “The system was blinking red,” one official said.

But Trump wasn’t paying attention. “It will all work out well,” he blithely tweeted on Jan. 24 while credulously thanking Chinese President Xi Jinping for “working very hard to contain the Coronavirus.” (A British study suggests China could have eliminated 95 percent of its cases if it had acted three weeks earlier, when a doctor first called attention to the epidemic in Wuhan.)

Because of Trump’s negligence, the United States lost two months of response time — precious days that should have been used to test the population, produce more N95 masks and ventilators, and build new hospital beds. This past week, the Pentagon finally announced that a Navy hospital ship would be heading to New York — but it will take at least two weeks to get ready. Why wasn’t the deployment order given sooner? Even now, with the crisis upon us, Trump hesitates to use his full authority to order wartime production of ventilators needed to keep thousands of patients alive.


March 22, 2020

The Coder and the Dictator

Just after midnight one Tuesday in early 2018, the vice president of Venezuela commandeered the nation’s TV airwaves. Looking composed despite the hour, in a blue suit and red tie, he announced that the government was about to make history by becoming the first on Earth to sell its own cryptocurrency. It would be known as the Petro.

Three blocks away, in the vice president’s sprawling offices, Gabriel Jiménez was sitting blearily at an enormous glass conference table, pounding away at a laptop. Powerful air-conditioners chilled the air to a crisp. Lanky, with big black glasses set between a scruffy beard and a receding hairline, Mr. Jiménez had spent months designing and coding every detail of the Petro. Now, alongside his lead programmer, he was racing to make it operational, despite the fact that basic decisions had still not been made.

Just after the vice president signed off the air, his chief of staff burst into the office, furious. Mr. Jiménez couldn’t understand — something about typos on a website, an embarrassment to the nation. The chief brought in two guards, armed with military rifles, and told Mr. Jiménez and his programmer that they were forbidden to leave. If they made any attempt to communicate with the outside world, they would be on their way to El Helicoide. It was a distinctly Venezuelan symbol of terror: a futuristic mall project, with car ramps between stores, converted into a political prison and center of torture.

Below the table, Mr. Jiménez furtively texted his wife. Although she had recently left him, he asked her to send him a hug and to tell his father that he was in trouble.


March 22, 2020

A Boom Time for the Bean Industry

Tim McGreevy has worked in the bean business for more than 30 years. But when he scanned the bean aisles at a grocery store in Pullman, Wash., on Sunday, he saw something he had never seen before: empty shelves.

“In one sense, this is like my best dream,” said Mr. McGreevy, who runs a trade group for producers and packagers of pulses, a category of legumes that includes beans. “In another sense, you go, ‘Wow, this is pretty serious.’”

As the coronavirus pandemic upends daily life across the United States, Americans are filling their pantries with long-lasting essentials — pasta, rice, canned meat, even oat milk.

But amid all the panic shopping, the growing demand for beans has stood out as an especially potent symbol of the anxious and uncertain times. At supermarkets, shoppers are stocking up on canned beans from familiar brands like Goya Foods, as well as thick bags of dry beans that usually lie largely untouched on store shelves.


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