Nothing like endangering your colleagues' lives to make a point.
As the House of Representatives prepared to pass the Senate's $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill today, one Republican congressman, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, decided it would be the perfect opportunity to stand up for his principles by shutting down Speaker Nancy Pelosi's plan to pass the bill by "unanimous consent." There was overwhelming bipartisan support for the bill, but Massie insisted on trying to block passage of the bill through a voice vote. His gambit didn't work, and the House passed the bill with a voice vote just a short time ago.
Still, Massie got a minute in the national spotlight, saying he'd come to "make sure our Republic doesn't die by unanimous consent in an empty chamber," and demanding a recorded vote. CNN details the parliamentary procedure that put an end to his fun little trick, which required members of both parties to take flights to DC and come to the House, potentially exposing themselves to the virus.
To maintain social distancing, quite a few of the House members gathered in the gallery above the floor, so nobody would have to be too close to anyone else. To stop Massie, congressional leadership needed two things: a quorum of at least 216 members, and a bit of gamesmanship to block Massie's motion for a full vote from getting a second. A fifth of the members in the chamber would have had to stand up and be counted in favor of a second, and nope, that didn't happen, so the measure passed, and Donald Trump is expected to sign it into law.
But at least now Sen. Ted Cruz can probably rest easy, safe in the knowledge that for a little while at least, he's no longer the most hated member of Congress. Rand Paul already got him beat anyway.
Who's pissed at Massie? Pretty much everyone from both parties. Donald Trump literally called for Massie to be thrown out of the Republican party, possibly because Trump can't stand for anyone being a bigger asshole than he is:
Trump just wants to sing coronavirus backup and take all the credit.
Donald Trump claimed Thursday that he had a “terrific" meeting with the governors whose states he's failing to help combat the coronavirus outbreak. This wasn't true. During his conference call with about a dozen governors, he lavished unearned praise on himself. He said the federal government's response to the pandemic was at a level "that people find pretty impressive." Whoever told the president this is either dumb or just trying to flatter him enough so he'll do something, anything to keep people from dying.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said, correctly, that states are “desperate for supplies." He begged Trump yet again to use his presidential powers to mandate the production of medical supplies, which he can do under the Defense Production Act. Trump personally thinks this goes too far, even though he's literally ordered NFL players to stand for the National Anthem. Maybe it's just no fun for Trump to use his presidential powers unless he's abusing them.
Cruise Ships Ain't Getting No Stimulus Money Just Because They're Not Even American, Isn't That Sad?
You get nothing!
The coronavirus and resulting economic shutdowns have laid waste to such industries as restaurants, hotels, airlines, and, yes, cruise ships, those floating petri dishes where you go to fall in love and catch the measles. The Senate passed a hefty $2 trillion stimulus package this week, but cruise ships won't have access to $500 billion in aid for large employers. That's because they've previously spelled “relief" T-A-X-D-O-D-G-E.
From the Washington Post:
Language in the 883-page bill passed by the Senate says that to be eligible for aid from the $500 billion fund, companies must be certified as "created or organized in the United States or under the laws of the United States" as well as having "significant operations in" and a majority of employees based in the United States.
Major cruise companies like to base their primary headquarters overseas, so they can avoid pesky federal taxes and even more annoying US regulations, such as health and safety codes. They staff their ships with workers from the Philippines, Indonesia and India, which they don't do because they're big believers in the global village. No, they pay foreign workers around $2 an hour and work them plantation style. Business Insider reported that cruise-ship employees often work eight to 20 hours a day, seven days a week.
Reportedly, they had some chats about building IEDs.
On Tuesday, 36-year-old aspiring neo-Nazi terrorist Timothy Wilson decided that it would be a really, really good idea for him to go bomb a Kansas City medical facility currently housing COVID-19 cases. Having most of what he needed, he headed out to Belton, Missouri, to pick up what he thought was a car bomb, only to be greeted by FBI agents. Predictably, Wilson did not go gently, there was a shootout, and he suffered injuries he later died from. In a hospital.
It turned out that the FBI had been watching Wilson for over a year; he'd come up on their radar due to communications between him and Jarrett William Smith, another neo-Nazi who had been arrested back in September for his plans to bomb a major American news network and assassinate Beto O'Rourke. While the FBI was investigating Smith, they found discussions between him and Wilson on how to build an IED.
Smith was an active Army soldier — though he did not join the military until after he had been radicalized and expressed his desire to go to Ukraine to fight along side the Azov Battalion, a far-right military group known for committing war crimes and being Nazis.
Wilson's goal was, essentially, to "capitalize" on the coronavirus outbreak — causing even more devastation by bombing a medical facility where people with the virus were staying. The FBI suggests that there may be more neo-Nazis out there looking to do this, but doubt that any are planning anything as severe as what Wilson was planning.
And then, the murders began.
Do you want to watch CNN's Brianna Keilar kick the White House's pet China loon in the dick this morning? Of course you do! It's the next best thing to wielding those steel tips yourself. And if there's ever anyone who deserved it, it's Peter Navarro, the economics crank Jared Kushner dug up by Googling "China + GRRRR + ARRRRGHH." Yes, really. (Well, mostly really.) The guy whose ideas are so mindbendingly stupid he had to invent a learned professor to endorse them, a professor whose name is an acronym of Peter Navarro. Yes, again, really. (Totally really.)
Keilar to Peter Navarro: You are wasting everyone's time www.youtube.com
"Peter, look, we know you are working with the private sector. It is heartening to see Hanes making thick fabric so apparel workers can make that into non-surgical masks. GM is partnering with Ventec. All of that is good news," Keilar began. "But why do you have prisons competing with the postal service and hospitals, and Kentucky competing with Illinois and Louisiana, FEMA, the VA, in order to get a lot of these supplies. The federal government is not stepping in to coordinate the purchase and allocation of this?"
As a threshold matter, no, they are not. Donald Trump has made it entirely clear he doesn't want to be the "shipping clerk" for the states, he's refused to actually use the Defense Production Act to conscript business, preferring to use it as "leverage" — whatever that means — and, oh, by the way, his administration spent weeks blocking states from using their own COVID-19 test kits.
Take it away, Ron Vara.
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.
All of this is so predictable.
We knew it was bullshit when Donald Trump, freelancing like he so often does, lied at one of his corona-pressers and said all kinds of companies were right now starting to manufacture much-needed ventilators for COVID-19 patients. We knew it was bullshit when, after being pressed by a reporter, Trump said, yes, well, General Motors is doing it! No, they were not.
We knew it was bullshit when he said it again a couple day later at another one of his Dow-killing "briefings." Turns out that, according to facts, and also common sense, you can't just retool an entire auto factory overnight to make an entirely different product. It takes months.
And we also knew that whatever plan the White House had for getting much-needed ventilators to over-run hospitals, the Trump administration would fuck it up, and that Jared Kushner would somehow be involved in fucking it up.
Right on cue, the New York Times reports on one way they're fucking it up. Turns out they were going to announce an Art Of The Deal on Wednesday with GM and a company called Ventec Life Systems, to make "up to 80,000 ventilators." But then they called off the announcement, because FEMA needed more time to find out if TOO 'SPENSIVE, because it was going to cost more than a billion American dollars! And they'd have to put hundreds of millions down too, you know, to actually retrofit a factory to manufacture them! No fair!
Now, maybe they will still make this Art Of The Deal happen, but they need to look at a bunch of other bids, which they definitely have.
No, it gets better, because guess who's directing FEMA?
Keep blowing that dog whistle, congressman.
Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida was miffed that Howard University, a known university for black people, got some scratch in the Senate's coronavirus recovery bill. He lamented this pork parade on Twitter Wednesday.
Gaetz concedes that “education is important," but Howard isn't worthy of coronavirus relief — certainly not $13 million big ones! Why, that money could house the houseless and feed the foodless. Howard is a historically black college, and Gaetz was probably worried that real American taxpayer money would be wasted on advanced Black Panther studies. Sen. Kamala Harris graduated from Howard in 1986, when we were free to gather in crowds. She pointed out that the "bill provides $30 billion to protect students and help schools, colleges and universities combat the coronavirus." She then dropped some of that math they teach us at black colleges when we're not learning how to properly season chicken.
HARRIS: This is $13 million. $13 million = .04% of $30 billion. Why do you take issue with money going to Howard, Congressman?
Just like that, Harris has put Congressman Florida Man on trial. Gaetz should've just broken down on the stand and confessed or tried to take a plea, but instead, he doubled down and insisted Howard received a “carve out" that other institutions didn't. This is when it got embarrassing and people had to explain to a US House representative that Howard has a hospital that's a 300-bed, level 1 trauma center, which is now a COVID-19 treatment facility in Washington DC, just a couple miles from where Gaetz allegedly works.
On the other hand, no name is probably better than ‘Pocahontas’ or ‘Horseface.'
Donald Trump received a long-distance tongue bath from Sean Hannity Thursday night, during which he expressed his contempt for all the governors who keep wanting him to do stuff, like it's his job to care about Americans. He went off on them like they were spoiled college kids asking their parents for more money.
TRUMP: When you talk about ventilators, that's like buying a car! It's an expensive, very intricate piece of equipment ... heavily computerized and good ones are very, very expensive. And Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo and others, they say, “We want 30,000 of them." 30,000! Think about this. You go to a hospital. They have one in a hospital.
That was before the coronavirus, you stupid fucking moron! This virus is turning people's lungs into jelly. Hospitals need more ventilators or patients will die. New York hospitals have already resorted to sharing ventilators.
TRUMP: Now, all of sudden, everyone's asking for these vast numbers ... But remember, we're really the second line of attack. The first line of attack is supposed to be the hospitals and local government and the states. We have people like Gov. [Jay] Inslee, he should be doing more. He shouldn't be relying on the federal government. Gov. Inslee, that's the state of Washington. He was a failed presidential candidate. He's always complaining.
And your governor of Michigan! She's not stepping up. I don't know if she knows what's going on, but all she does is sit there and blame the federal government. She doesn't get it done, and we send her a lot.
He couldn't even bother to say her name. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer introduced herself to the so-called president on Twitter. Dig the “wave" emoji.
Give La Peste the slip.
I asked for an assignment, and for my sins, Yr Editrix gave me one: "Dok, you should do WARBLOG on the Stranger's Book Club reading of The Plague. Just lead a whole bunch of wonkers over there and DO INVASION." Well, I am nothing if not a toady, and so I said yes of course I will do that, although I added that I hadn't read Albert Camus's examination of humanity trapped inside a world gone weird and deadly since college. I'm not even sure I had a very good translation, since I'm not entirely sure Charlie Brown and Linus were even in that book. Though Linus certainly fits.
So here's the deal: Seattle alternaweekly The Stranger (actually, its blog, the Slog), is doing a Quarantine Club book club where they're reading The Plague. It's The Plague at the Slog, which is part of The Stranger, which is not the other famous novel by Camus. And we are going to go over there and raid their book club in the politest possible way, possibly bringing some of our cakes we like. We're excellent guests.
Yes! Sixteen thousand dollars worth of cakes so far!
First the good news! Since we started our WONK NATION SLUSH FUND GOFUNDME two (2) days ago, y'all have contributed, carry the one, thirty-two THOUSAND one hundred and fourteen dollars! And now the other good news! So far, we have put $16,650 in cash into the hands of 31 Wonkers and their families, in amounts ranging from $200 to $1250! Very few questions asked!
We don't ask for proof of bills. We don't ask for proof of wonkerdom (though we can tell if you haven't heard of us before, which is its own Ethical Dilemma; do I tell a homeless mom sorry because she's not in the club? Because that's what I've been doing so far and FUUUUUUUCK). You, our Wonkette community, tell us you need money, and how much, we give you money, hopefully how much you asked for plus a little bit more. Because it's important to have a treat.
Here are a few of the people we've helped so far today (and here's the list of people we helped Tuesday and yesterday):
No, you disgusting ghouls, you cannot have my mother for ECONOMY.
Congratulations to Texas's Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick whose BIG IDEA to lick this coronavirus by killing Grandma is getting a real life trial run.
"No one reached out to me and said, 'As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?'" Patrick derped to Tucker Carlson Monday night, as he urged Americans to get their lazy asses back to work. "If that's the exchange, I'm all in."
DAMN THE CORONAS, FULL SPEED AHEAD!
And now an entire nursing home is being evacuated because all the residents have coronavirus. But "protectively & lovingly," just as the president promised!
This is how you run a country like a business, guys.
The Texas grocery chain H-E-B is named after its founder Howard E. Butts, but for many logically apparent reasons, the initials have instead come to represent the grocer's slogan: “Here Everything's Better." Epicurious raved about HEB back in 2016. It's like Trader Joe's crossed with Whole Foods but you won't need a second mortgage to shop there. It's now currently a model of running a modern supermarket during the coronavirus crisis.
While other supermarkets are struggling to keep their supply chains intact and inventing policies on the fly for socially distant shopping, H-E-B has been ahead of the curve. In early March, it started limiting the amount of certain products (e.g. toilet paper and hand sanitizer) customers could purchase. It quickly rolled out social distancing protocols and expanded its sick leave policy. It proactively gave a $2 raise to a staff that would soon be on the front lines providing essential services during the pandemic. H-E-B even has a coronavirus hotline designed to guide employees through this unprecedented period. But even more? Texas Monthly reports they literally did the due diligence on coronavirus, back in January, that the Trump administration didn't.
Governor Tater has issued a new executive order to 'protect' Mississippi from coronavirus.
Time for an update on GOP Mississippi Governor Tater Tot Skeeter Bite Reeves, known on his birth certificate as simply "Jonathon Tate Reeves," and what he is not doing to fight coronavirus. He's been readin' Bible to Mississippi, and he's been sayin' for extra damn certain AIN'T MISS'SIP' GON' BE SOME KINDA ROOTIN-TOOTIN' HIGH-FALUTIN' DICK-TATER-SHIP LIKE CHINESE NORTH KOREA, BET YOUR BOTTOM DOLLAR, WOOOOOOOO-EE!
At least we think that is what he is saying, he's so stupid-looking we can't bear to unmute the sound when we watch him on video.
But you know that thing where Republican governors and state legislatures hoot and holler to anybody who will listen about small government and the tyranny of the federal government, but when bluer (smarter) cities in their own states try to exert local control, and in so doing offend the governor's sensibilities, their commitment to small localized government just goes out the window? Happens a lot when educated southern cities try to get rid of their fucking Confederate participation trophy statues and monuments.
And it's happenin' with coronavirus, and TATER AIN'T GON' HAVE IT. Out of one side of his mouth, he's saying Mississippi ain't gonna be no goddamn North Korea, but out of the other, he is saying "MAH TRUCK, MY RULES!" like that other absolutely darling GOP Mississippi gubernatorial candidate. And in this case, his "truck" is the entire state of Mississippi.
As in other GOP-controlled states, the mayors in Mississippi have been mostly going it on their own. If you're not familiar with the state, it's actually lovely, and there are lots of more liberal college towns with smarter people in them, like Oxford. Tupelo, where Elvis was born, is charming as southern-fried fuck. Tupelo's mayor issued a stay-at-home order to protect the citizens of that town. Oxford, Vicksburg, Clarksdale, they've all taken action in the absence of any leadership from the state government.
Well, Tater is not about to have his authori-tah questioned — but not like in that Chinese North Korean way! — so he has issued a superseding executive order that is the weakest-ass most pissant thing you ever have seen. Does it null and void orders from Mississippi's city mayors? It sure is written that way!
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
We can always count on Earhardt to be ridiculous.
"Fox & Friends" continued its gripping coverage today of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The panel was literally discussing the 3.28 million new jobless claims filed this week, when the pride of Spartanburg, South Carolina, Ainsley Earhardt, broke in to make sure viewers weren't losing sight of what's truly important right now.
EARHARDT: All the bills that are stacking up at my apartment. We gotta think about that kind of thing.
Not really. Earhardt is still receiving her absurdly large salary. She didn't suddenly lose her job in the gibberish-making industry. Presumably, she can still pay her bills online. If she cared about the environment, she'd have gone paperless long before this.
EARHARDT: If you bought clothing before all this happened, if you want to return it. Are stores going to waive that 30-day period when you can get your money back if you need to return something?
Don't worry, some stores have extended their return dates. However, many others think you can just keep your coronavirus-infected blouse. A store clerk doesn't need to die because you had second thoughts.
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