Welcome to the revolution, comrade.
You might not have noticed with everything else that's going on, but Meghan McCain has gone full Bolshevik over the the past few weeks. That's what a pandemic will do to you. You're so bored stuck at home, you wind up re-evaluating all your previous "rah-rah capitalism!" beliefs.
Last week on “The View," while asserting her "fiscal conservative" credentials, McCain expressed a degree of sympathy for people who've lost their jobs because of the coronavirus
McCAIN: I think we need to start easing up on rents and loans in this country for the average American family as well. It's not that people can't go out and work, it's that they are unable to.
This is still a very conservative principle. It's rooted in the idea that there are the “worthy poor" and “unworthy poor." The government should deign to assist the “worth poor" if we believe they didn't bring their poverty upon themselves through sheer shiftlessness. It's easy for conservatives like McCain to see the millions of laid off workers as having “done nothing wrong." Their financial difficulties aren't reflective of a perceived moral failing.
The Defense Production Act is only for shooty stuff, not ventilators, silly.
Until last week, when he suddenly had a fit at General Motors, Donald Trump had said again and again that while he could use that Defense Production Act to order American companies to prioritize making medical supplies that are needed to fight the coronavirus, it would be a cold day in Caracas before he did socialism to America!
But you know, we're a country not based on nationalizing our business. Call a person over in Venezuela, ask them how did nationalization of their businesses work out? Not too well.
Now sure, there's the teensy detail that the Defense Production Act doesn't actually nationalize anything, as the smartypants fact-checkers all pointed out. But it does allow the US government to order companies to fulfill its contracts before others, and to loan money and do other fun financial stuff to get stuff done. It can even direct companies to sell their stuff to the government ahead of other customers. But the companies are still private, and they still get paid.
And as the New York Times explains in some detail, the law has been used once or twice during the Trump administration already. Once or twice? More like it's been used to "place hundreds of thousands of orders" during the Trump years, just as it has been during every other presidency. It's so routine that the military regularly invokes it in contracts:
The Defense Department estimates that it has used the law's powers 300,000 times a year. The Department of Homeland Security — including its subsidiary, FEMA — placed more than 1,000 so-called rated orders in 2018, often for hurricane and other disaster response and recovery efforts, according to a report submitted to Congress in 2019 by a committee of federal agencies formed to plan for the effective use of the law.
Oh. Well then, guess we're already Venezuela, so let's use the law to save some lives, please? And get some empanadas too, while we're at it.
Why aren’t striking workers grateful for the opportunity to die while delivering his groceries?
Ben Shapiro, who is Ben Shapiro's idea of a smart person, is very disappointed with Amazon workers who are striking for better pay and working conditions. They aren't patriots! The true patriots during this time of crisis are people like Ben Shapiro, who can remain comfortably at home while Amazon and Instacart magically deliver everything he needs for his survival.
Shapiro sees a moral distinction between striking because of “bad worker pay" and striking because you “want more money." He believes this is an intelligent point that he made.
SHAPIRO: I'm sorry. Everyone else lost their job. Everyone else lost their damn job.
Not you, though, Mr. Shapiro. You're still paid to perform this rightwing dog and pony act for us. Broadway theaters went dark. "The Flash" shut down production, but "The Ben Shapiro Show" keeps on trucking. It's the cockroach in our nuclear winter of entertainment options.
ARREST HOBBY LOBBY.
The Hobby Lobby is defying stay-at-home orders because presumably God wants people to die for arts and crafts supplies. How else are Americans going to make party favors for all the parties they can't have? The oh-so-Christian retailer is “quietly reopening" stores across the country, including in Kansas, Ohio and Wisconsin, whose governors have ordered residents to shelter-in-place. These orders close all businesses except for those that provide “essential services." Hobby Lobby does not provide “essential services."
Despite literally having the word “hobby" in its name, Hobby Lobby has tried to rebrand itself as an “essential" business. A hastily made sign on the window of one store claimed it's now operating as an essential business because it sells “PPE masks, educational supplies, office supplies, and various components for at-home small businesses." That's absurd. Bars and restaurants offer food, which is essential, but they're all closed except for takeout and delivery.
Hobby Lobby is not an actual grocery, pharmacy, or hardware store. There's no gray area here, and billionaire owner David Green is choosing to endanger his employees, and the communities they live and work in, in service of his bank balance. How evangelical!
Why does the media keep falling for this?
Donald Trump has received some sobering news about the coronavirus crisis. No, it's not just the millions of Americans who could die if the virus is allowed to spread without mitigation or even the hundreds of thousands who could die in what passes for a “best-case" scenario. No, advisers have informed Trump that a lot of people dying painfully on his watch might cost him re-election, no matter how rosy the economic outlook is for the half-dozen billionaires and their selected mates who survive.
From the LA Times:
"Pay attention. You're going to lose the election," the former official said, summarizing the intervention.
There's nothing quite like a commander-in-chief you have to order to “pay attention" as if he's a bored teen during high school trigonometry, back in the old days when teenagers went to "high school." (Daniel Drezner hasn't added this to his "I'll believe Trump is growing into the presidency when his staff stops talking about him like a toddler" thread, but give him time!)
Still, the “intervention" worked and Trump appreciates that it's in his self-interest to at least look like he cares. This isn't really a change in Trump's personality. Terminal narcissism still guides his every move, but the media seems OK with bananas filling their tailpipes.
CNN's Jim Acosta declared Trump a changed man last night on "Anderson Cooper 360."
ACOSTA: I have to tell you Anderson, I've never seen President Trump like this. I know people may say, "well I can't ever trust him, he's a phony" and so on, people might say that.
We're very comfortable saying that. Whenever Trump reads from a teleprompter without pissing himself, some folks will insist he's suddenly Abraham Fucking Lincoln. Trump is stupid, but he can read words other people wrote for him. That doesn't mean he's no longer a monster. The day Trump killed a lot of Americans isn't the day he finally became president.
What are these 'hotels' of which you speak?
For some reason, people seem to think there's something outrageous about images of homeless people sleeping on bare concrete in a Las Vegas convention center parking lot, even though city and county officials insisted they were doing the very best they could. The temporary outdoor "shelter" in the parking lot of the Cashman Center was opened Saturday following the closure of a 500-bed shelter run by Catholic Charities when one of the people staying there tested positive for coronavirus. Photos of the parking lot, painted with a grid of sleeping spaces to maintain social distancing, prompted reactions like this, from former presidential candidate and Obama HUD Secretary Julián Castro, who knows a thing or two about housing:
There are 150K hotel rooms in Vegas going unused right now. How about public-private cooperation (resources) to temporarily house them there? And fund permanent housing!
That, however, would be socialism, and really those people just won't do anything to help themselves, according to several experts on homelessness in the Twitter replies.
And I think we'd all like to let them!
Last week, General Electric announced that they would be laying off about 10% of their aviation workforce — about 2600 aviation factory workers and half of their maintenance staff — in hopes of saving a little bit of money during this pandemic. This was despite the fact that Congress just passed a two trillion dollar corporate bailout, $100 billion of which will be going to — you guessed it — the aviation industry. Including General Electric.
General Electric workers, however, think that's a pretty bad idea. They think the company should keep them on and allow them to build the ventilators we so desperately need, so that people are able to survive the very pandemic that is causing them to lose their jobs. So on Monday, many of these workers got together and held a protest to demand that GE do this instead of the very stupid thing that they want to do. Union workers at the company's Boston headquarters held a march, and workers at their aviation facility in Lynn, Massachusetts, held a silent protest — both of which observed proper social distancing protocols.
Bet you didn't know the people picking your groceries didn't get hand sanitizer before.
One lesson we are learning (hopefully) during the COVID-19 pandemic is that, outside of people working in health care, the workers most necessary to our survival are those who are paid the least. Grocery store workers, Amazon warehouse employees, and gig economy workers like Instacart Shoppers have been on the front lines of this pandemic — and now, they wanna get paid like it. Or, you know, paid enough to survive and to make risking their lives every day so that the rest of us can shelter in place a little more worth it.
And today, in the first gig economy strike of the coronavirus era, Instacart workers are on strike for some extremely basic protections and not that much more money.
They're really not asking for much. They're asking for hazard pay of just five dollars more per order, hand sanitizer (which I think we'd all like them to have), sick pay (which, again, would benefit us all), and for the default tip amount in the app to be 10 percent rather than five percent. That doesn't mean that this is what customers will actually pay, just what will come up first before they make any adjustments. That's nothing! I regularly adjust my tip amount in apps (to tip more, not less) and I assure you it takes all of five seconds. Starting out with a 10 percent tip will simply make customers more likely to tip that amount or above, by making it look like tipping five percent is for cheapskates, which it is.
No checks for many college students, adult dependents, and even teenagers.
Everyone's looking forward to getting their $1200 coronabux check soon. It's one of the central parts of the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill that Donald Trump signed last week, in a display of terrible social distancing. Problem is, not everyone's going to get a check, as the Wall Street Journal explained Saturday. The checks, which will come to a total of $292 billion, will go to most adults with income under $99,000, with an extra $500 per child, including people with little or no income, so that's great. But the plan excludes a significant number of people who are likely to be hit just as hard or harder as the bottom falls out of the economy:
[The] plan excludes anyone who isn't a child and who can be claimed as someone else's dependent. Who is in that group? Some high-school students, college students and some disabled and elderly people, many of whom show up on the tax returns of the people they live with who provide most of their support.
They won't get money directly, and no one will get money for them. In all, that is about 21 million Americans, according to the Tax Policy Center. Immigrants who don't have Social Security numbers also aren't eligible.
Twenty-one million Americans sounds like a heck of a lot of people to us! There's talk of a fourth stimulus bill that would include these folks, among other ongoing needs the previous bills haven't addressed, but Republicans want to wait and see whether this is really an emergency that we should spend money on.
They’ll pay for their own security, thank you very much.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are coming to America. The one-time royals are currently self-isolating in Los Angeles with their son, Archie, having left their rented home in Vancouver, Canada, shortly before the borders closed last week. The move is reportedly permanent, and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have already received a gracious welcome from the president.
Because yes, that's what the president of the United States was focused on yesterday. That and his ratings. But of particular note is that nobody asked him to.
Republicans Perplexed That Nancy Pelosi Might Want More $$ For Workers, States, Paid Leave, Pensions
How are 'paychecks' supposed to help the economy?
The Senate's $2.2 trillion-with-a-t coronavirus economic relief package is heading for a vote in the House of Representatives today, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi predicted at her weekly press conference the bill would pass with a "strong bipartisan vote." But Pelosi isn't done yet — she's already calling for a fourth relief package, possibly because she can read a record-setting unemployment graph as well as anyone else. Like for instance the team that laid out the front page of today's New York Times, which is so instantly iconic we're certain it'll be reprinted in history books for years to come:
Image: New York Times on Twitter
Pelosi explained Thursday,
The bill that was passed in the Senate last night and that we will take up tomorrow is about mitigation. There's so many things we didn't get in any of these bills yet in the way that we need to.
Republicans are already griping that it's far too soon to be talking about further spending to offset the crisis, because of course they are; some are already clutching their pearls at the idea that some laid-off workers may be spoiled rotten by emergency unemployment spending. The party that made opposition to the New Deal an article of faith isn't about to embrace helping people merely because the economy appears to be headed off a cliff. (That, apparently, is Wonkette's job.) Not even when that cliff is visualized as dramatically as on the front page of today's Times.
Three point three million lucky new duckies!
The Senate last night passed that $2.2 trillion stimulus package, but not before some DRAMA from the expected bunch of rightwing numpties. Republican Senators Lindsey Graham (South Carolina), Ben Sasse (Nebraska), Rick Scott (Florida), and Tim Scott (South Carolina) held a press conference to protest that the bill's temporary unemployment benefits were far too generous, because the extra $600 a week (for no more than four months) would amount to more than some low-wage workers even get in their regular pay, and wouldn't that be terrible during a massive economic crisis? Calling the unemployment provision a "drafting error," which it damn well was not, the four offered an amendment that would limit emergency unemployment benefits to no more than 100 percent of recipients' wages. Fortunately, the amendment failed, and the bill went forward, but at least now conservatives can tut-tut about all the lucky duckies who'll be whooping it up and maybe not becoming homeless as the unemployment rate explodes due to the coronavirus pandemic and the world's economy peeks out from a scenic overlook at a new great depression.
The problem, the Great Minds declared, was that at a time when the pandemic can only be fought by keeping people home from work, some people might actually get paid to stay home from work, and they'd become so lazy after getting four months of higher pay that they'd never return to work once the crisis is over. Especially if the crisis is over before those four months are up! (Which isn't a likely scenario, but what if it happened?) The idea that unemployment benefits cause people to avoid work is kinda bullshit in normal times, but in an economic crash like we're trying to avoid, it makes even less sense than ever.
Here's the video if you're a masochist:
Sen. Graham addresses problems in coronavirus relief bill youtu.be
Landlords might have to make a deal.
The coronavirus-related shutdowns began just a couple weeks ago, but we're already seeing the dramatic fallout in astronomical unemployment numbers — 3.3 million as of this morning. March might've felt like it lasted forever this year, but April is less than week away. Bills are due, including the pesky rent that permits you to shelter in place under a roof. Many landlords have been understanding of this unique situation. There's Mike Shelley in Portland, Oregon, who has agreed to reduce tenants' rent by $200 indefinitely. We all have to get through this together! Also, it's not worth it to just repeal and replace tenants who fall behind on rent.
SHELLEY: Then I have to clean the place, re-paint it, put in another ad, find another tenant, screen them, move them in — it's a hassle and it's a lot of my time.
Other landlords have been less understanding. Allentown, Pennsylvania, developer Nat Hyman took the “fuck you, pay me" approach. Hyman Properties sent a letter to tenants acknowledging that times are tough but there's still no room at the inn for deadbeats.
A deeply moving apology.
The coronavirus crisis has brought with it some striking acts of kindness as people around the world do what they can to help each other. And then there there's this landlord in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Nat Hyman, whose property management company sent out a letter last week telling tenants that, coronavirus pandemic or no, they had to pay their rent on time or their asses would be evicted, damn it. The letter was all over social media this week, and by Monday, Hyman was backtracking and apologizing, explaining that an underling had sent out the letter without showing him first. But wow, look at this letter:
Superficially, the letter attempts to follow one of the maxims taught in business writing classes: There's a sorta-kinda attempt to address the reader's concerns before getting to the sender's goal. Which is why superficially following a formula doesn't necessarily equal good communication.
All of us, Katie!
The Wonkette Nation of Terrible Ones is being terrible again, as usual, throwing our entire goal of $20,000 into our SLUSH FUND GOFUNDME to help Wonkers with rent and such as in less than a day.
This morning, Gofundme emailed us like "um, this is a huge gofundme and it's also sort of vague, please explain who you are and what you are doing with this money exactly?"
I am thrilled to oblige!
It includes some oversight for the slush fund, so that's something.
After a couple extra days of negotiations, Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have agreed on a $2 trillion stimulus bill aimed at offsetting some of the worst economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the deal in the wee hours this morning, around 1:30 a.m., and the Senate is expected to pass the bill later today after McConnell has had a nap and a nice lunch of iceberg lettuce sprinkled with human misery.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was included in the negotiations and said the bill had the approval of Donald Trump, almost as if Trump had been briefed on and/or understood the details. Mnuchin said he had "spoken to the president many times today; he's very pleased with this legislation and the impact that this is going to have."
Trump, for his part, spent the morning grudge-tweeting, with tweets attacking Joe Biden and sarcastically expressing happiness that Mitt Romney did not test positive for the virus, while saying Romney was "a terrible presidential candidate and an even worse U.S. Senator, but he is a RINO, and I like him a lot!" Trump also retweeted the usual bunch of rightwing idiots who praised him or mocked his enemies, so he's probably finished thinking about this dumb pandemic. Trump didn't tweet his own statement on the deal, but did retweet this fascinating gif depicting McConnell as some sort of wizard or superhero with electric eyes.
He is a very serious president, our Dear Leader.
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