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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 50
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 11,727

Journal Archives

How to turn Sean Hannity into food for worms

Rancid words can make excellent radishes. Just shred and compost.

The author has been composting right-wing culture-war books during the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Lawrence Downes)

I didn’t set out to compost Sean Hannity. It was something I settled on after considering several other options and rejecting them one by one. The first was leaving him in the basement indefinitely. That worked for a while. I could almost forget about him there, but then I would go down with a basket of laundry and see him and think, I have to do something.

I should explain: I don’t mean the man himself, but Hannity the book. It’s called “Let Freedom Ring: Winning the War of Liberty Over Liberalism.”

It’s part of a collection I have: right-wing culture war books from the Fox-News-angry-White-person’s superhero universe. Besides Hannity, I’ve got Lou Dobbs, Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Rudy Giuliani and Bernie Kerik. The list is not comprehensive. It includes Karl Rove and Hugh Hewitt but not Newt Gingrich, Tucker Carlson or Donald Trump.

Nourishing a vegetable garden. (Photo by Lawrence Downes)

I got them from the book sale shelf at my public library, for a dollar each. I would find them tucked in with the everyday discards — the cookbooks and gardening volumes, Michael Crichton and Tom Clancy, Nora Roberts, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” The Fox folks seemed so bilious and out of place in that pleasant company, like toadstools among the daffodils. So I’d buy them up and take them home.


Pelosi Is Playing Hardball on Coronavirus Relief. She Thinks She'll Win.

Emboldened by Republican divisions and a favorable political landscape, the speaker is refusing to agree to a narrow relief measure, unbothered by charges that she is an impediment to a deal.

As the clock ticked down Thursday on a self-imposed deadline for a breakthrough in coronavirus relief talks with no deal in sight, Jim Cramer, the brash CNBC host, had an on-air proposal for Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California.

Why not try invoking the memory of the late civil rights icon John Lewis to try to persuade Republicans to agree to help the most vulnerable Americans, including “minorities” struggling to weather a pandemic and a recession?

Ms. Pelosi flashed a forced smile. “Perhaps,” she deadpanned, “you mistook them for somebody who gives a damn for what you just described.”

The comment — unusually coarse for Ms. Pelosi, 80, who was educated by nuns — was part insult, part dare and part slogan for a woman who believes she has the upper hand in crisis negotiations and does not intend to lose it. And it reflected how, two weeks into stalled talks over another round of federal assistance to prop up a battered economy, and less than three months before Election Day, the speaker of the House is going for the jugular.


California to towns defying the COVID-19 shutdown: No cash for you

It was a boast heard around this Central Valley town of 30,000, courtesy of Mayor Paul Creighton.

Atwater had not just flattened the COVID-19 case curve. “We’ve smashed the curve,” he declared.

With just 12 confirmed cases, the City Council in mid-May declared Atwater a “sanctuary city” for business, allowing all businesses to reopen in defiance of California’s shutdown orders.

How times have changed.

Cases have surged past 800 in Atwater. Merced County is on the state’s coronavirus watch list. And federal officials have declared the rural, agricultural Central Valley one of the nation’s most worrisome hot spots for the spread of the virus.

What has not changed is Atwater’s defiance. City leaders refuse to rescind the sanctuary city resolution — despite the state’s withholding federal emergency coronavirus relief funds because of it.


Remember Senate Republicans who dismissed Trump's wrongdoing -- and show them the door

Val Demings, a Democrat, represents Florida’s 10th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

It has been six months since Senate Republicans voted to acquit President Trump in his impeachment trial. This November, voters have a remarkable opportunity to prove they have a stronger moral compass than those senators ― and show them the door.

There are lessons my parents taught me about America. They taught me there is dignity and honor in working hard and playing by the rules. That the Constitution and the law mattered. That voting was a civic responsibility and an obligation. That our nation and our family were worth defending against people who would take advantage. That I should treat others as I would want to be treated. That honesty, duty and integrity were inherently good and that to cheat, lie and steal was wrong.

I believe most Americans learned these same lessons.

Of course, there are exceptions. When I was in law enforcement, we called them “habitual offenders.” These are people with no respect for the law and no regard for the rules. These people spend their time trying to game the system and do so over and over.

We knew six months ago ― and I said at the time ― that the president is a habitual offender. Habitual offenders don’t sneak up on you. They telegraph their intentions. No one who has been paying attention can deny the true character of Trump. We know him. His lifetime of corrupt scams, outright lies, malignant racism and cheating the little guy is transparent.


We are only beginning to suffer the consequences of Trump's failures

“Elections have consequences.”

Republican leaders were enraged when President Barack Obama reminded them of this after his 2008 victory. But President Trump has given new and macabre meaning to the phrase. For now, five months after we put our way of life in mothballs, we see how much ruin and unnecessary suffering has been caused by his election and his attempt at reelection.

Former Trump national security adviser John Bolton, in an interview this week, said his former boss’s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic is a national security concern. “I think he’s failed,” Bolton told Public Radio International. “I think he, in the early days, did not want to hear anything critical of China, even though [National Security Council] staffers and the Centers for Disease Control staffers in early January were sounding the alarm, because he didn’t want to concede that the pandemic, as it turned out to be, could have a dramatically negative impact on the U.S. economy and therefore his ticket to reelection. I think we’ve all suffered the consequences as a result.”

Our suffering for Trump’s failures is just beginning. We have sacrificed half a year, $3 trillion of our treasure and 157,000 lives — and it has been squandered by one man’s incompetence. Not just incompetence, but incompetence in the misguided pursuit of his personal interests over the needs of the nation he leads.

He denied the threat, as Bolton noted, but he and his administration also botched the nation’s testing rollout, played down the disease, offered false assurances and bogus remedies, discouraged mask wearing, pushed the economy to reopen prematurely, concealed data, and disparaged testing. Now, he’s trying to force schools, and more industry, to reopen without adequate precautions.


Postal Service overhauls leadership as Democrats press for investigation of mail delays

Source: Washington Post

Lawmakers want the inspector general to examine Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s cost-cutting measures and investments

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy unveiled a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s mail service, displacing the two top executives overseeing day-to-day operations, according to a reorganization memo released Friday. The shake-up came as congressional Democrats called for an investigation of DeJoy and the cost-cutting measures that have slowed mail delivery and ensnared ballots in recent primary elections

Twenty-three postal executives were reassigned or displaced, the new organizational chart shows. Analysts say the structure centralizes power around DeJoy, a former logistics executive and major ally of President Trump, and de-emphasizes decades’ worth of institutional postal knowledge. All told, 33 staffers included in the old postal hierarchy either kept their jobs or were reassigned in the restructuring, with five more staffers joining the leadership from other roles.

The reshuffling threatens to heighten tensions between postal officials and lawmakers, who are troubled by delivery delays — the Postal Service banned employees from working overtime and making extra trips to deliver mail — and wary of the Trump administration’s influence on the Postal Service as the coronavirus pandemic rages and November’s election draws near.

It also adds another layer to DeJoy’s disputes with Democratic leaders, who have pushed him to rescind the cost-cutting directives that have caused days-long backlogs and steady the Postal Service in the run-up to the election. DeJoy clashed with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), in a meeting on the issue earlier this week.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/08/07/postal-service-investigation-dejoy/

Wonder if this is a big FU move by DeJoy.

The U.S. economy is on the verge of a 'lost year'

Workers and business owners are craving some certainty about the path forward. But the White House and Congress are failing to act.

Brian Hartman has spent a lot of time this summer pacing his restaurant, Bixler’s Lodge in Reading, Pa., with a tape measure. Whatever way he places it, he comes to the same conclusion: He can’t safely fit any more tables inside his small eatery.

Bixler’s Lodge is doing less than a third of its pre-pandemic business. The bar that Hartman spent years perfecting is now empty. The dining room has six tables, down from 15. He’s tried to become a takeout spot, but customers know it’s not the same. Hartman lives in constant fear that even this limping existence will be shuttered again.

“Right now you can’t plan more than a week ahead,” Hartman, who has run Bixler’s Lodge for three decades, said. “You don’t know if they will close you back up or if you will stay open or what.”

The U.S. economy is facing one of its most uncertain moments ever as the deadly coronavirus remains a constant threat. According to Pew Research, people are growing more pessimistic about how America’s leaders have handled the virus and the nation’s ability to contain it, which only digs a deeper hole for the economy. As soon as the virus flares in a part of the country, cellphone data show people immediately stay home instead of instead of venturing out to restaurants, stores and entertainment.


Fox's Chris Wallace: Trump Only Wants More Debates Because He's Losing

Fox News host Chris Wallace has no illusions about why the Trump campaign is suddenly demanding a fourth debate against former Vice President Joe Biden.

After Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade echoed the president’s stated concerns about the debates happening after early voting starts in some states, his radio show guest shot down the idea of either moving the schedule up and adding a fourth debate earlier in September.

“If they were to open it up and say, no, let's set another debate, I just think that it would jeopardize a lot of things,” Wallace, who moderated the third and final debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton in 2016. “If Donald Trump were leading, instead of trailing in the polls, my guess is he wouldn’t want it, so they'll have the debates.”

When Kilmeade suggested that Wallace should “get in the face” of the Commission on Presidential Debates and threaten to walk as a potential moderator if they don’t change the schedule, Wallace just laughed and said sarcastically, “Yeah, they’re really dependent on me.”


Cross-border tunnel appears to be 'most sophisticated in U.S. history,' officials say

An incomplete tunnel found stretching from Arizona to Mexico appears to be “the most sophisticated tunnel in U.S. history,” authorities said.

The tunnel intended for smuggling ran from San Luis, Ariz., to a Mexican neighborhood and had a ventilation system, water lines, electrical wiring, a rail system and extensive reinforcement, federal officials said Thursday.

“This appears to be the most sophisticated tunnel in U.S. history, and certainly the most sophisticated I’ve seen in my career,” said Carl E. Landrum, acting chief patrol agent with the Border Patrol’s Yuma sector.

Homeland Security Investigations found the tunnel in late July. A camera was sent 25 feet underground after federal agents discovered a sinkhole in the area of a tunnel investigation, authorities said.


After first being spared, rural California now being ravaged by the coronavirus

It was once said that California’s coronavirus pandemic was hitting dense urban areas the hardest.

Now, it’s rural, agricultural areas that are among the most severely affected.

“The epidemic is moving from urban Latino populations to rural Latino populations,” Dr. George Rutherford, epidemiologist and infectious-diseases expert at UC San Francisco, said Wednesday. The risk factors are the same: low-income essential workers who live in crowded housing and must leave home to work and earn money and who may be less likely to speak up to call attention to problematic workplace safety conditions.

Earlier in the pandemic, Los Angeles County was one of the hot spots for new infections. By June, it was Imperial County. The rural, agricultural and impoverished county east of San Diego soared up the list as California’s hardest hit county, in terms of new cases per 100,000 residents over the past two weeks. Imperial County hit its worst number on June 16, when there were 1,438 cases per 100,000 residents over the previous two weeks.


I'm wondering what the effect will be on produce prices with this increase in Covid cases in one of the primary agricultural centers of the country. I suspect it won't be good.
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