Sunday, May 31, 2020

Our Sunday Pick...Jason Isbell Explains How He Wrote His 'Protest' Song.


It started with the riff, not the lyric.

Specifically, when Jason Isbell came up with a melody that had a funk groove underneath it he decided he had to treat it carefully.

And so, with the weight of the cultural appropriation world weighing on him, he wrote a tune about his own white privilege.

And then, as a Southern man of the kind that Mr. Young once sang about, Isbell went out and sold it to an audience that needed to hear it.

Even if some of them didn't want to.

Hear it I mean....

You can hear Isbell explain all this when he talks to Rick Rubin on the Broken Record podcast....Here.


Friday, May 29, 2020

What Force Is With Them, Exactly?

Why, 'Force Majeure', of course, which means:

"Unforeseeable circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract"

Recently, we noted that BC Hydro was setting itself up to blame the COVID19-induced economic slowdown for missing their consistently unrealistic power consumption numbers.

Anyway, it would appear that the good folks at Hydro have decided to use a rationale to stiff one IPP contractor, for real, at least in the short term:

Postmedia's Derrick Penner has that story:

B.C. Hydro has cancelled $20 million worth of electricity purchases from six private power facilities, the company that operates them said, and it is disputing the utility’s reasons for refusing delivery of the power.

Longueuil, Que.-headquartered Innergex Renewable Energy Inc. said last week that it had received notice that Hydro would refuse delivery of electricity from the six run-of-river generating stations between May 22 and July 20.

“B.C. Hydro cites the current COVID-19 pandemic and related governmental measures taken in response to it as constituting a ‘force majeure’ event,” meaning an event beyond its control that prevents Hydro from fulfilling its contract, Innergex said in a news release...

All if which got me to wondering if this, perhaps, is signaling a change in policy regarding those egregious  IPP contracts that we've been locked into pretty much forever at ridiculously inflated prices.

So I asked Norm Farrell, via the Twittmachine, what he thought:

Hard to argue with the guy who knows all, and I mean all, of the numbers.




Pot Calls Kettle Polkadot.


The Alberta division of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is steamed at one of provincial political parties.

And it is not the Alberta NDP:

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is calling on the United Conservative Party to pay back the federal wage subsidy in light of the fact that 20 provincial parties across Canada have turned down the money.

“The United Conservative Party ran on being the party that would look out for taxpayers, but now the UCP is helping itself to tax dollars meant to support struggling Albertans,” said Franco Terrazzano, the CTF’s Alberta Director. “Premiers John Horgan, Scott Moe, Brian Pallister, Doug Ford and François Legault all know that taking the wage subsidy is wrong and it’s time for Premier Jason Kenney to pay back the subsidy.”...


Does this mean that all those rabid Wrexiteers on the Twittmachine will now subtract the UCP's amount from the eleventy kabillion dollars they say they are owed from the federal transfer pool?

Interestingly, while the fine folks from the CTF note that the BC NDP didn't take the subsidy they assiduously avoid mentioning that the party still led by Rachel Notley also did not....Oh, and just in case you were wondering, the free enterprise party of BC has applied for the subsidy (pdf).


Thursday, May 28, 2020

Looks Like Someone From The Outside Is Suddenly Interested In Blogs About Local Online Gambling


Suddenly saw a big boost in traffic coming up from the land of the USians to land on old Casino Industrial Complex posts this afternoon and wondered why.

So I looked up the lead-in search term string...

Likely nothing, but....

Could be interesting, especially given that inquiry thingy that's going, right?


Looks Like There Will Be More Grant Reviewing To Do This Summer.


This is actually very good news:

CIHR is the federal government's  'Canadian Institutes of Health Research' that funds the operational aspects of the great majority of biomedical research in this country.

When the pandemic hit the CIHR cancelled their spring 'project grant' competition that had received more than two thousand grant applications from all over the country.

That put a whole lot of academic research labs under intense financial strain and worry.

Now, however, it's game (back) on.

Which means grant reviews for me in the dog days of summer this year (usually we're done all the reviewing, and arguing and ranking for the spring competition by now).

But I'm not complaining (although, I will likely be apologizing to my family, again, come August).

Many of us in the trenches are convinced that the reversal wouldn't have happened without the efforts of this guy.


Your Morning Audio For May 28th...Online Teaching?


It looks like, in my world at least, we will be pretty much all in with online teaching for the foreseeable future.

Will it work?

Maybe, maybe not....

Post-blatherscript tune is a way turned-down cover of John Darnielle's 'This Year'.


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Survey Says!


Earlier this week we wondered it it might turn out that a successful vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 might be given the thumbs down by a significant proportion of the population.

Well, it turns out that this just might turn out to be case in the United States:

Only about half of Americans say they would get a COVID-19 vaccine if the scientists working furiously to create one succeed, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research...

As you might expect, it turns out that USians of different political persuasions think somewhat differently about this (undecideds not shown below):


How could that possibly be?


...In previous years, (Donald) Trump has added his voice to the anti-vaccination movement in the United States, falsely linking vaccines with autism. The movement has contributed to outbreaks of measles in the United States and raised fears about the potential return of eradicated diseases such as smallpox...


It's almost as if cause is suddenly meeting effect at, like 'Warp Speed'.


Is That Bullsh*t?

With ApologiesTo

Buried inside an item on how the French have abandoned both the 'works' of Didier Raoult and hydroxycholoroquine as a COVID-19 treatment is the following bit of bizarrity:

...The president of El Salvador on Tuesday said that he is taking the drug in hopes of warding off the coronavirus.

“I use it as a prophylaxis, President Trump uses it as a prophylaxis, most of the world’s leaders use it as a prophylaxis,” Reuters quoted the Salvadoran president, Nayib Bukele, as saying on Tuesday...


Is that bullshit?

That part about 'most of the world's leaders', I mean.

Well, according to the fine folks at the Times, who are willing to fact check and state their findings unequivocally when it comes to at least one president in the Americas, it is:

...In fact, few if any other world leaders have said they take the drug...

And, just to be clear, there is no evidence that one president in the Americas called up another and offered him an inducement to just 'say it'.

At least not yet.

Sub-header refers to a regular segment that the writer does on Mike Pesca's podcast 'The Gist'.



They Knew...


I'm talking about the nurses.

Specifically, they knew that our long term care system was a massive tragedy waiting to happen.

And they tried their best to warn us about it five years ago.

Unfortunately, they were ignored, as David Climenhaga reports over at Alberta Reports:

...In 2015, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions published a paper called Before It’s Too Late: A National Plan for Seniors’ Care.

“We need a national plan for safe seniors’ care, with long-term, dedicated funding and effective enforcement mechanisms,” CFNU President Linda Silas wrote in the introduction. “In both home care and long-term care facilities, we need a stable workforce, adequate staffing levels and an appropriate staff mix.”

Of course, by definition it is too late now. A global pandemic is exactly why a plan like this needed to be implemented long ago. This is an emergency piled on top of an emergency and we need to get on with fixing it...


Who can fix it?

...There is really only one politician in this country who can make the change we need happen, and we all know who he is. Yes, this is a test...

I think all Canadians can pass that test and help force the correct answer to do the right thing.



Tuesday, May 26, 2020

They're Alive And They're Human...

...Therefore, They Must Be Stock Of A Capital Nature.




Monday, May 25, 2020

What If We Produce A Safe And Effective Vaccine Against SARS-CoV-2 And...

...Many Refuse To Take It?

The following is from Sarah Zhang writing in The Atlantic:

...There is no COVID-19 vaccine, but there are already COVID-19 vaccine conspiracies. Even as vaccines for the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 are being held up as the last hope for a return to normalcy, misinformation about them is spreading. A more fraught scenario for science communication is hard to imagine: a novel vaccine, probably fast-tracked, in the middle of a highly politicized and badly mishandled pandemic.

“I was initially optimistic that, when people felt the need for a COVID-19 vaccine, the anti-vaccination movement would undergo a period of retreat,” says Peter Hotez, a vaccine scientist at Baylor College of Medicine, who has himself become a frequent target of vaccine skeptics. “It’s actually had the effect of reinvigorating the anti-vaccine movement.”...


Like me until relatively recently, you may have thought that the anti-vaxxers are just a lunatic fringe group whose arguments do not really matter in the grand scheme of the thinking of the rational 'rest of us'.

Clinician-scientist David Gorski, who has bona-fides that I trust in this fight, begs to differ:

...I admire Dr. Hotez to death, but until recently he really was quite naïve about the antivaccine movement, as are many doctors and scientists. I even fell into that category several years ago, thinking that vaccines are the victims of their own success and that, because we don’t see the mass suffering now due to the diseases we now vaccinate against, the return of such an infectious disease (or diseases) would lead antivaxxers to reassess. However, this reaction of the antivaccine movement to COVID-19 should have been very predictable, just based on the experience from last year. As we saw then, with the return of measles in so many places due to low uptake of the MMR vaccine, the antivaccine movement was unmoved. In fact, it doubled down...

So, why should we be concerned about these folks and and their conspiratorial spewing of demonstrable falsehoods?

Well, as Gorski explains, one reason to be concerned is the fact that they have become very good at disseminating their 'messages' in a highly transmissible, essentially viral, manner on social media platforms. Additionally, they are one of the few groups anywhere that managed to forge  bipartisan political alliances that are now beginning to tilt rightward:

...Despite the image of antivaxxers being hippy dippy, granola crunching lefties, in fact, antivaccine views are roughly equally prevalent on the political right and the left, and this has been true for a long time. However, over the last decade (and in particular since the passage of SB 277 in California to outlaw nonmedical exemptions to school vaccine mandates), increasingly the antivaccine movement has been appealing to the right more than the left through the use of conservative-friendly rhetoric of “freedom”, “parental rights”, and the portrayal of school vaccine mandates as overweening government overreach...

It's a very worrying situation, indeed.

And it would seem that the sooner it is dealt with effectively, the better.

Kevin Roose also wrote an excellent Op-Ed piece on this topic recently in the New York Times.


Sometimes A Cigar Is Just A Cigar...

Michael Harris reports in The Tyee that the president of the CPC riding association in the bell weather riding of Pontiac Quebec has sent up a trial balloon:

...“Churchill was called out of retirement to take control of a desperate Britain in the autumn of 1939. Sometimes the man seeks the position. Sometimes the position seeks the man. Canadians need to draft Stephen Harper into service again.”...

Because......Austerity Uber Alles!

Good grief.



Sunday, May 24, 2020

Critics Say...


Back in the days when my former editor and I used to criss-cross the Western States looking for a place to hit dead ball fungos we had a saying that we first ripped off from the good Doctor Thompson and then mangled:

"When the going gets weird, the weird move to Oregon"

Who knew how right we would ultimately turn out to be...

...Oregon Republicans have nominated a high-profile backer of the QAnon conspiracy theory as their candidate for a US Senate seat.

Jo Rae Perkins, who defeated three other candidates in a primary contest to be the Republican candidate, said in a now-deleted video after her victory: “I stand with President Trump. I stand with Q and the team. Thank you Anons, and thank you patriots. And together, we can save our republic.”....


Just to be absolutely clear, this QAnon thing is filled to bursting with absolute falsehoods that are destroying the American body politic from the inside.

This is how Joan Greve describes it in the Guardian:

...The QAnon theory has been embraced by some of the president’s supporters and centers on an alleged government agent named “Q”, whose top security clearance has provided insight into a deep-state conspiracy involving everyone from Hillary Clinton to special counsel Robert Mueller.

It also posits that Donald Trump is leading a behind-the-scenes fight against powerful forces protecting satanic paedophile rings, and that Q leaves clues for followers to decipher on internet forums...

So, how does this garbage continue to get spread far and wide, and legitimized to the extent such that a proponent can win a major party US Senate seat primary?

Well, here is how the nice polite republicans (a.k.a. NPR) describes QAnon at Oregon Public Radio:

...Critics of QAnon say followers have promoted a number of baseless and sometimes dangerous conspiracy theories...

Do you see the problem there?

Our comment about Oregon wasn't meant to be derisive, it was just that things seemed so weirdly polarized in Oregon depending on which side of I-5 you found yourself on...
And just to be clear about all demonstrable falsehoodspreaders...There is absolutely no good reason to pay any attention to a certain  Ms. Coulter whatsoever...OK?


Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Gaslighter-In-Chief.


From the New York Times:

As the United States continues its advance toward 100,000 coronavirus deaths, a grim milestone the country is expected to reach in the coming days, President Trump and members of his administration have begun questioning the official coronavirus death toll, suggesting the numbers are inflated.

Most experts say the opposite is likely the case.

In White House meetings, conversations with health officials have returned to similar suspicions: that the data compiled by state health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include people who have died with the coronavirus but of other conditions...

So, according of these finest of the fine folks...

Up is down.

Black is white.

Two plus two equals Fifth Avenue.


Death is what, exactly?



Friday, May 22, 2020

Just Wanted To Check...

....To Make Sure I'm Still Ticking, Day 67.


Because even if the two kids from around the corner really are on permanent hiatus, if this still gets you going things are probably alright.


Will The Data Finally Kill The Treatment Zombie?


From Derek Lowe's latest, titled: Hydroxychloroquine: Enough Already?

At this point, it’s getting hard to see how the idea of a hydroxychloroquine (or hydroxychloroquine/azithromycin) therapy for coronavirus infection can be taken seriously....

First there is this:

...I reviewed some of the recent studies here, but missed a May 11 preprint from France that had claimed benefit for the combination. No matter, though: this was just withdrawn by the authors, who say that they are revising the manuscript...

And then there is this:

...This morning brings this paper from The Lancet. It’s a retrospective look at registered patients across 671 hospitals around the world, and it covers four patient groups: treatment with chloroquine, chloroquine plus a macrolide antibiotic (azithromycin, doxycycline), hydroxychloroquine, or hydroxychloroquine with a macrolide. All of these patients were started on these treatment regimens within 48 hours of diagnosis. The study specifically excludes those patients whose treatment started later, anyone whose therapy was started while they were on mechanical ventilation, or anyone received remdesivir as well. Early treatment in less severe patients only, in other words...

That last part is important, because a concern with some of the earlier studies that showed a lack of efficacy was that the treatments were started too late in the course of the disease

But what about sample size, cohorts, and confounding variables?

...96,032 patients were registered in these hospitals with the coronavirus during the study period (December 20, 2019 to April 14, 2020); this is a large data set. The mean age of the patients was just under 54 years, 54/46 male/female. 14,888 of them were in the treatment sets defined above: 1868 got straight chloroquine, 3783 got chloroquine with a macrolide, 3016 received hydroxychloroquine by itself, and another 6221 got HCQ with a macrolide). That leaves 81,144 patients as a control group getting other standard of care. Let’s note at the start that the authors controlled for a number of confounding factors (such as age, sex, race or ethnicity, body-mass index, cardiovascular disease and risk factors, diabetes, lung disease, smoking, immunosuppressed condition, and overall disease severity)...

Clearly, solid on those fronts. 

So, outcomes?

...The mortality in the control group was 9.3%. The mortality in the chloroquine group was 16.4%. The mortality in the chloroquine plus macrolide group was 22.2%. The mortality in the hydroxychloroquine group was 18%. And the mortality in the hydroxychloroquine plus macrolide group was 23.8%...

And, when you factor in the increases in cardiac arrhythmias, things get even worse for the treatment groups.

Thus, it would appear that, with data like these, this Zombie, errrrr, treatment is likely often contraindicated.


So, given all that, what will certain non-medical enablers do no now?

My prediction is a double-down on the prophylactic card.

Gosh, I wonder how that will turn out?

As we have mentioned in the past,
Dr. Lowe has both the bona fides and the track record to rigorously assess this stuff.



Thursday, May 21, 2020

Anti-Shelter-In-Placeism Is Not A Good Thing.

The above graphic is from Norm Farrell on the Twittmachine and he has been using it to pushback, hard, against people that spew shite about how strict shelter-in-place (i.e. lockdown) policies are pointless.

It now turns out that Sweden, which has no such policy in place, actually compares badly not just to its Scandinavian neighbours as shown by Norm above, but also to the entire world.

Very badly, indeed:

Sweden has now overtaken the UK, Italy and Belgium to have the highest coronavirus per capita death rate in the world, throwing its decision to avoid a strict lockdown into further doubt.

According to figures collated by the Our World in Data website, Sweden had 6.08 deaths per million inhabitants per day on a rolling seven-day average between May 13 and May 20.

This is the highest in the world, above the UK, Belgium and the US, which have 5.57, 4.28 and 4.11 respectively...



It Would Be A Real Shame If....Something Were To Happen To Your Federal Funding.


From the New York Times, unbylined:

Mr. Trump visited Michigan on Thursday, paying a visit to a key swing state where the virus has become a polarizing flashpoint just a day after he threatened to withhold federal funding from it for taking steps to make it easier to vote by mail amid the pandemic...


When everyone votes mobsters lose.

Or some such Breitbartian thing.

Meanwhile,  the latest hired liar breaks both of the truth's legs in 58 seconds flat.


Subsidy Signaling?


It would seem that a lot of folks, including at least one Wachowski sister, are upset about a recent tweet from Mr. Elon Musk, he of the Fremont Factory virus incubator:

Sure, taking that particular pill in the movie was about choosing to take the journey, eyes wide open.

But, as Nelly Bowles notes in the New York Times, the act, or making the statement at least has come to mean something different in the not-so-real internet world of deep statery:

...The idea of taking the red pill later grew to mean waking up to society’s grand lies. It was embraced by the right, especially by members of its youngest cohort who organized and spent their time in online forums like Reddit and 4chan.

The truth to be woken up to varied, but it ended up usually being about gender. To be red-pilled meant you discovered that feminism was a scam that ruined the lives of boys and girls. In this view, for a male to refuse the red pill was to be weak.

Red Pill forums were often filled with deeply misogynistic and often racist diatribes. The more extreme elements splintered into groups like involuntary celibates (“incels”) or male separatists (Men Going Their Own Way, or MGTOWs). Conferences like the 21 Convention and its sister convention, Make Women Great Again, sprang up to gather red-pilled men. Being red-pilled became a sort of umbrella term for all of it.

As these conversations seeped into the mainstream, pulled along by a host of other internet language from message boards to establishment Republican conversations on sites like Breitbart, the meaning broadened and got watered down. To be red-pilled can now mean being broadly skeptical of experts, to be distrustful of the mainstream press or to see hypocrisy in social liberalism...

But what about that red rose in the tweet?


...Musk’s tweet also appeared to align him with the Democratic Socialists of America — thanks to the red rose emoji which is a symbol for the organisation...


Is it possible that the good Mr. Musk was signaling that, despite the fact that he wants to do whatever he wants whenever he wants to do it that he still wants to keep on keepin' on getting those sweet, sweet government subsidy billions?

Los Angeles entrepreneur Elon Musk has built a multibillion-dollar fortune running companies that make electric cars, sell solar panels and launch rockets into space.

And he’s built those companies with the help of billions in government subsidies.

Tesla Motors Inc., SolarCity Corp. and Space Exploration Technologies Corp., known as SpaceX, together have benefited from an estimated $4.9 billion in government support, according to data compiled by The (Los Angeles) Times...

A whole lot of the decidedly non-viruous signal amplification of this thing originated with the blundesttrumpenkinderkleist.


Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Boss, Boss, The Brand!


Remember this:


It turns out all that strong 'n free 'n proud stuff is up and running, full bore, on all the platforms.

Michael Harris had the story recently in The Tyee:

...As one former Harper Conservative caucus member told The Tyee on background, “I just can’t see Harper letting MacKay take it. He will never let a moderate take the reins of his creation, especially with no western candidate in the (CPC leadership) field.”

The first sign that there could be some truth in that assessment was Premier Jason Kenney’s endorsement of Ontario MP Erin O’Toole for leader.

Kenney didn’t just endorse O’Toole, he took MacKay to the woodshed. He publicly trashed the former Harper cabinet minister for talking about the “stinking albatross” of the party’s socially conservative values during the last election.

“No one will have their deeply held beliefs dismissed as stinking albatrosses under Erin O’Toole’s leadership,” Kenney bristled. “Erin O’Toole respects the breadth of our big tent coalition.”

Is Kenney speaking for himself, or echoing the views of the man behind the curtain, that Wizard of Odds, Stephen Harper?...


...There is certainly evidence that O’Toole’s team is capable of playing something beyond hard-nosed campaigning at MacKay’s expense. The Post Millennial, a digital news website, recently reported that MacKay’s support was “plummeting,” and O’Toole had taken the “lead” in the race.

The evidence? Leaked polling data from an “independent” poll. Both claims qualify for five Pinocchios.

What the article did not say was that Jeff Ballingall, the Post Millennial’s chief marketing officer, is digital director for O’Toole. He is also the founder of right-wing groups Canada Proud and Ontario Proud, both of which reposted the article



It looks like longtime reader Keith was right...

The good Mr. Harper, self-declared leftist slayer and Ricardo Montalban think-alike, has decided to work the levers behind the curtain, hard, for the duration.


Tuesday, May 19, 2020

He's Baaaack!


It would appear that Stephen Harper's latest wall of (fiscal) fire, published last week in the paywall-protected portion of the WSJ goes all in on 'Austerity Baby!'.

Brian Platt, doing a little follow-up stenography in the National Post delivers the good Mr. Harper's kicker:

...In the column he takes aim at “leftists” who see the pandemic measures as a sign that bigger government spending should be the new normal, and that taking on high levels of public debt will be easily manageable down the road...


...“‘Modern monetary theorists’ will prattle on about how with low interest rates and monetary expansion this does not matter,” Harper writes. “Their core belief — that governments can never really run out of money — is nonsensical.”...


...“Governments that resist restoring free enterprise and fiscal responsibility will experience recession and stagnation,” Harper says. “Those that do the right things will lead their countries to a far more prosperous future.”



Our Tuesday Pick....You Will Only See This One Time.


I've been blathering on in this space for a long time now.

So much so that, essentially, I've become one of the last of the single-shingle linear type dinosaurs in the Lotuslandian bloggodome.

And in all of the last fifteen years I have never, ever linked to a cat video.

Until now...


I mean, this makes that soccer play-by-play guy with the dogs look like a piker.


Monday, May 18, 2020

Return Of The Turd Blossom.



Is it possible that the very fine folks at FOX News  put up the wrong backdrop behind the good Mr. Rove.

I mean, wouldn't Willie Horton's mugshot have been more appropriate?

Or, how about a photo John McCain's adopted daughter?

....Most famously, when (George W.) Bush was fighting for his life against a surging John McCain in (the) South Carolina (Republican primary) in 2000, fliers, emails, and push polls accused McCain of having fathered an African-American “love child” (he had actually adopted a girl from Bangladesh) and of suffering from mental instability as a result of his incarceration in Vietnam. McCain staffers, and McCain’s daughter, have accused Rove of orchestrating the rumors; Rove denies any involvement.

Why does Rove allegedly smear his opponents this way? Because it works...

It would appear that the current strate(r)gy of the wizards behind the curtain, a curtain that was first soaked in racism decades before Mr. Trump arrived in the Kingdom of Republicana, is to go negative on Mr. Biden by proxy.


Mr. Black's Bloviating Biliousnous Billows Over.


Idiot Blogger, errrrr, Big Corp Legacy Media Columnist, Mr. Black, formerly of Cross Harbour, thinks his fellow British and Canadian corp media types have gotten Mr. Trump, formerly of Atlantic City, all wrong:

...The British and Canadian media are even more hopeless than usual reporting about America, as I have remarked before. The Financial Times this week, with almost impenetrable obtuseness, declared that the Justice Department’s withdrawal of charges against Gen. Michael Flynn is the “politicization of justice.” Last Saturday in the Globe and Mail, my accomplished and politically centre-left friend of over 50 years, historian Margaret MacMillan, lamented in an opinion piece about the coronavirus that President Trump is too incompetent to deal with any crisis, a widely held but uninformed opinion. On Thursday in the same paper, John Ibbitson quoted Canadian academics who claimed that Trump has “given up,” and that “irrational” people had taken over the Republican party in a “fearful, angry, insular, nativist … coup.” This is just drivel...

And why have Mr. Black's fellow media types gotten things wrong?

Well,  because something, something, something, jungle, 'technical insolvency'!

...In the American jungle, justice has always been politicized, going back to President Thomas Jefferson’s spurious charge of treason against Aaron Burr, his former vice-president, in 1807. The magnificent National Gallery was created and endowed by former treasury secretary Andrew Mellon as part of an arrangement by which Franklin D. Roosevelt withdrew questionably motivated charges of tax evasion against Mellon. The America of Walt Disney and Norman Rockwell exists, but it doesn’t represent much of America. In 2016, the “OBushinton” post-Reagan coalition of the relatively think-alike bipartisan establishment was represented by the Bushes, as president and vice-president, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama for nine straight terms (in the previous nine terms there had been eight unrelated presidents). Trump, having made billions of dollars in a very tough industry, having come back from technical insolvency, having become and remained a great television star for 14 years in a format he devised and having been one of America’s great sports and entertainment impresarios, and after changing parties seven times in 13 years, became the only person never to have held any public office or military command to be elected president of the U.S...

Somehow,  I reckon that if we were to stop propping up the hedgefund vampires sucking the life out of Postmedia tomorrow, the former Lord-In-The-Crosshairs would very likely fail the sign-up test for a blogspot account by Wednesday.



Sunday, May 17, 2020

And What About That Other Thing That Dr. Henry Warned Us About?


Awhile ago, while talking about the fantastic local Lotuslandian podcast 'Crackdown', we mentioned that the federal and the provincial government shad, at least partially done the right thing when it came to making it possible for folks who need it to get a 'safe supply' during the COVID-19 crisis.

But what will happen when the COVID crisis abates?

Will we go back to the bad old days with its rising crime and death rates?

Or will our leaders let Dr. Henry take the lead on this one too?

The following is a CBC story from February...

February 2019 that is:

There were 1,489 suspected illicit drug overdose deaths across British Columbia in 2018, and health officials say the province needs new approaches to the problem before the numbers will start declining.

That number from the B.C. Coroners Service is up slightly from a year earlier, but the 2018 total is expected to grow as the coroner wraps up its investigations. Already, more people died from overdoses last year than from homicide, suicide and car crashes combined.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, said the numbers make it clear that drug users need a safe, regulated supply of opioids.

"If we're going to turn the corner on this complex crisis, we need to find the ways to provide safer alternatives to the unregulated and highly toxic drug supply and to end the stigma associated with criminalization of people who use drugs," Henry said in a press release.

"We need options to provide people at risk of overdose with low-barrier access to a regulated supply of opioids, and we need to connect people who use drugs with the supports they need rather than sending them to the criminal justice system."...

Here's hoping our leaders let Dr. Henry take charge on this one also.


Tip O' The Toque to MoCo North guy Andrew Kurjata on the Twittmachine.


Proving Mr. Wilkinson Wrong, Again.

Remember this, from mid-April...

Apparently, the leader of the the B.C. Liberal Party, Andrew Wilkinson, has a problem with John Horgan leaving things to the competent professionals.

Here is the good Mr. Wilkinson asking a question on Mo Amir's local Lotuslandian podcast recently:

"Where's John Horgan?" 

Interestingly, as soon as he asks said question Mr. Wilkinson immediately answers it.


"Well, about once a week they trot him out with something that seems to be almost marginal. And yet, every Premier and Governor in North America is on TV, radio, the Web every day talking about the status in their community and talking about what needs to get done."


Well, now, just one month later, the following is from a piece in Bloomberg by Natalie Obiko Pearson about B.C.'s COVID-19 success story so far and why it matters that both the decisions and the daily briefings were left to our most competent professional.

...B.C. stuck to old-fashioned basics, alerting primary care doctors by fax about how to be on the lookout for the novel pathogen and tracing potential transmissions through interviews. Data compiled on May 13 show the province’s Covid-19 death rate was 3 per 100,000 residents, better than almost anywhere in North America and much of Europe...


...(Provincial health officer Bonnie) Henry has become the public face of the crisis. A former military doctor who helped track down Ebola infections in Uganda earlier in her career, she also personally handled the contact tracing of Patient Zero’s family in Toronto’s SARS outbreak.

“She’s really been trained for this,” says Perry Kendall, her predecessor. “She’s not scared of giving orders.”

British Columbia’s top politician, Premier John Horgan, has taken a back seat in the public eye; it’s Henry who presides over daily briefings.

That has been key, said Peter Berman, a public-health expert at the University of British Columbia. “The same scientist who was empowered to lead this effort also has the authority to issue instructions.”

Henry is the first to caution against complacency. “We don’t know what is going to happen with this virus,” she said at a recent briefing, where she underscored how the province could quickly lose all the gains it’d made by easing restrictions too far. “We need to hold the line.”

Enough said?


Friday, May 15, 2020

There Is A Plan...


In the wake of fired vaccine maker-in-chief Rick Bright's whistle-blowing, many USian commentators are increasingly suggesting that the Trumpublicans are incompetent and have no plan to seriously deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

Mike the Mad Biologist, who has demonstrated his hard-headed, but progressive, bonafides to us many times over the years has a different perspective:

"...To me, it’s become clear during the last week that the issue isn’t solely incompetence. They are capable of competence (not perfection, but competence) when they want to do something. They have been very effective at shredding lots of regulations (the EPA is a hollow shell of what it was, at best), getting tax cuts, and funneling money to large businesses. They also have been pretty good at treating immigrants like sh*t. They are perfectly capable of planning things they want.

So the Trump administration, along with many of its Republican collaborators, has a plan. It’s just that the plan is so horrifying that many people don’t want to believe the administration would do something like that. The plan is simple. Restart businesses, and let the American Carnage ensue. It will disproportionately affect minorities and lower-income people–and if those people were better people, they would have been wealthier and whiter, so f*ck ’em anyway. I think they also believe–likely incorrectly–that the carnage will be confined mostly to urban, Democratic areas. Meanwhile, TEH STONKS! will be doing well, so all is good.

That’s the plan.

Before you make a counterargument, consider this: the Republican Party has spent the last forty years undermining worker protections and environmental protection. Why would they suddenly change their ways? This is what they do because they believe it’s the right thing to do, as horrifying as that is. Sure, this isn’t some toxic sludge, it’s a virus. But they have never cared about workers or public health, so why would they start now?..."

Of course it's banal.

Of course it's evil.

But is Mike wrong?

Speaking of the 'reason' Dr. Bright was 'allegedly' fired....Yet another peer-reviewed dagger to the heart of magical hydroxychloroquine/azithromycin thinking.


Thursday, May 14, 2020

Do Not Buy The Coming Avalanche Of Fluff-Puffery That Will Blame BC Hydro's Financial Woes On COVID-19.


Financial shenanigans at BC Hydro is a story that Norman Farrell and other bloggodome adjacent folks, including the late, great Rafe Mair, have been following for a long, long time now.

The fine folks at the Lotuslandian legacy media organs, not so much.


One of Norm's recent takes was posted first at his blog and is now up over at the Tyee as well.

While you are likely familiar with how much Site C is going to cost us, there is also the matter of all those gold-plated, risk-free 'Independent Power Producer' (IPP) contracts that are a long time running already and will run for much, much longer before they're done:

...The (IPP) choice was made not for the benefit of electricity consumers or B.C. taxpayers, but to satisfy the (BC)Liberals’ preference for private enterprise over public. That preference was almost universally shared by editorialists, media commentators and political writers. Government energy policies were roundly applauded.

But an important aspect went unmentioned. The new power deals assigned financial risks to BC Hydro and guaranteed revenues and profits to IPPs.

Indeed, the provincial utility has lost massive sums because of these contracts.

Since (then Premier Gordon) Campbell’s friend Larry Bell promised to assist private producers, BC Hydro has purchased almost $14 billion in power from IPPs — most at two to four times the market price.

BC Hydro is committed to buy more than $40 billion worth of additional electricity under contracts that run for 15 to 60 years...


Why have we been 'forced' to buy all this additional power, which is often produced at times of the year when run-off is highest and we need it least, at ridiculous prices?

Why, because, of course, demand has been rising, rising, rising over the last fifteen years as we have been told over and over and over again.



...Unfortunately, sales to BC consumers have been flat since 2005. Domestic sales by kWh units were 1% lower in 2019 than in 2005 although the amount charged consumers increased by 89%, which is more than 3x the rate of inflation.

I expect the coronavirus calamity will be blamed for a financial predicament that has been developing but largely ignored for years. For that, heads should roll at BC Hydro’s boardroom and executives suites...

That is all.

Rafe used to stop by here occasionally, sometimes to agree, sometimes to whack me up the side of the head (but usually in a nice way)....He sure did hate the way I used a courier font with italics for the pull quotes...I ignored him on that one.....Sure do miss the old curmudgeon.


Does The MLA From Chilliwack Also Have An Issue With Gravity?

Awhile back there was this...

“I'm not naturally inclined to believe in the science of global warming,” said Laurie Throness, (BC Liberal) MLA for Chilliwack-Hope. “The steps we should take should be careful steps, steps that won't prove to have been wasting time and energy and money if it so happens that climate change turns out not to be global, not to be long term, not to be changeable.”...

And now....


Just one more, if somewhat small-minded, reminder of why that 2017 provincial election actually mattered.

As for  Thronessian economic theory, well, we're pretty sure that Ms. Vander Zalm's headband would agree, as long as, of course, he were to add a dash of chemtrails.

Or some such thing.

Tip o' the Toque to reader Lew for the heads-up.


Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Fauci Pulls A Reverse Trump.

As anyone who has been paying attention knows Donald Trump's modus operandi is to say the most extreme stuff possible one minute and then pull back the next all in an effort to get maximum short-term deflector spike spin.

Case in point - bleach injections one minute, just joking the next.

Well, it looks like Tony Fauci may have just pulled a reverse Trump.

Specifically, he first somewhat surreptitiously signalled to the NY Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg that he was going to say something extreme and accusatory on Monday:

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and a central figure in the government’s response to the coronavirus, plans to deliver a stark warning to the Senate on Tuesday: Americans would experience “needless suffering and death” if the country opens up prematurely...

Then on Tuesday, Fauci toned down the extreme language to essentially say the same thing, in front of the cameras, to the US Senate:

...“If we do not respond in an adequate way when the fall comes, given that it is without a doubt that there will be infections that will be in the community, then we run the risk of having a resurgence,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, an infectious disease expert and the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

He added that “there is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control” if the economy opens too quickly, “leading to some suffering and death that could be avoided.”...

Of course, Fauci's reverse Trump is actually based in fact and reality. Here's hoping his strategic message lasts more than one news cycle and that the original language becomes embedded in the public psyche.

Meanwhile, Mr. Musk is pushing ahead with his experiment on the workers who build his cars in Fremont California.


Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Is The Tide Washing Away Tony Fauci's Line In The Sand?

Earlier, we noted that Tony Fauci appeared to have drawn a line in the sand just yesterday:

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and a central figure in the government’s response to the coronavirus, plans to deliver a stark warning to the Senate on Tuesday: Americans would experience “needless suffering and death” if the country opens up prematurely...

Today, it appears that said line might be washing away:

...Dr. Fauci on Monday said he would tell the panel that there could be “needless suffering and death” if the country opens prematurely, but steered clear of that language during the early part of the hearing, instead saying, “the consequences could be really serious.” Mr. Trump has pushed for states to reopen and at times has encouraged people to defy governors’ orders...



Has Tony Fauci Finally Drawn His Line In The Sand?

From the New York Times Sheryl Gay Stolberg last night:

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and a central figure in the government’s response to the coronavirus, plans to deliver a stark warning to the Senate on Tuesday: Americans would experience “needless suffering and death” if the country opens up prematurely...


....(Fauci) made his comments in an email to a New York Times reporter late Monday night.

“The major message that I wish to convey to the Senate HLP committee tomorrow is the danger of trying to open the country prematurely,” he wrote. “If we skip over the checkpoints in the guidelines to ‘Open America Again,’ then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks throughout the country. This will not only result in needless suffering and death, but would actually set us back on our quest to return to normal.”

It is a message starkly at odds with the things-are-looking-up argument that President Trump has been trying to put out: that states are ready to reopen and the pandemic is under control...

Will he really go through with it and stop any and all enabling as we argued he must do awhile back?

Time and, presumably tomorrow's story from Ms. Stolberg, will tell.

Update: It would appear that, in the end, Dr. Fauci pulled a 'reverse Trump'.



Monday, May 11, 2020

The Bit You May Have Missed In The Story Of The Gaetz/Carlson/OAN/Trump Admin Takedown Of A Top Coronavirus Hunter.

Last night  CBS' 60 minutes aired a story about how coronavirus hunter Peter Daszak's highly rated, peer-reviewed US-National Institutes of Health funding was rescinded by the Trump Administration, apparently because Dr. Daszak's research group has the audacity to go to where the viruses actually are.

In my opinion this is a well-researched blockbuster that everyone should take the 13 minutes and twenty-three seconds to watch.

However, one slightly tangential bit that I would like to highlight, mostly because it slays the hysteria dragon dead, is the following from Can-Am epidemiologist Elodie Ghedin who is currently at NYU:

The (Trump) administration has offered no evidence of an accident or genetic engineering (of the SARS-CoV-2 genome). Dr. Elodie Ghedin is studying the genome of the virus in her lab at New York University.

Elodie Ghedin: "People have been saying that's an engineered virus. And it's not. And we know that by looking at the genetic information, looking at the code. And the code tells you a lot.

Human-engineered viruses have common and obvious genetic components, including the virus's overall molecular structure called its backbone."

Elodie Ghedin:
 "If a virus had been engineered, it would've used the backbones that we know. And there's none of that in that virus. And let's say it was a brand-new backbone. Well, it wouldn't look like what it's looking like, because we can find every piece of that virus. We can find these pieces in other very similar viruses that circulate in the wild. From the genetic information, it's clearly not an engineered virus."



This conspiracy story crap, especially crap that has the potential to kill people, has to stop.

And anyone who knowingly trumpets and/or wurlitzers said crap must be dismissed, disdained and descredited, forever, by all responsible collateral media organs everywhere.

Put another way, neither Matt Gaetz nor Tucker Carlson should ever (and I mean forever and ever) be on my TeeVee again.

Unless, of course, it is being done to brand them as the liars and prevaricators that they clearly are.



The CCRAP Removal Project Revisited.


When in doubt, re-brand.

Even if the very finest of the fine (mostly) men behind the curtain never change...

And, while there are no real silver linings to the plague book we are all currently reading there may be a few folks who are not  upset that the plot line kept this from happening....


Friday, May 08, 2020

Mission Accomplished: Daily Testing For (Not) Everyone!


Yesterday it was a personal valet to Mr. Trump that tested positive for the SARS-CoV2 virus:

A member of the military serving as one of U.S. President Donald Trump's valets has tested positive for COVID-19, the White House said Thursday. It said Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence have since tested negative and "remain in good health."

It marked the latest coronavirus scare for the president, and the first known instance where a person who has come in close proximity to the president has tested positive since several people present at his private Florida club were diagnosed with COVID-19 in early March. The valet tested positive on Wednesday, the White House said... 

Today it was Mike Pence's press person:

A member of U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence's staff has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, briefly delaying his Friday flight to Iowa and prompting some fellow passengers on Air Force Two to disembark, according to a White House official...


...U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday said the person who received the latest positive test was Katie Miller, 25,Pence's press secretary...

All of which got me wondering just how often the fine folks of the Trumptourage are being tested now that the caller is inside the (mostly) mask-free house:

...Trump said that some staffers who interact with him closely would now be tested daily. Pence told reporters that both he and Trump would now be tested daily as well...

And then, there was this, in which Mr. Trump seems to conflate being a little bit infected with being a little bit pregnant, or some such thing:

Enough said?


Our Friday Pick...Drug Discovery Guy Derek Lowe On The Radio.


Well, on WNYC's 'On The Media' podcast at least.


We've leaned heavily on Dr. Lowe's writing at his 'In The Pipeline' blog given his careful and thorough analysis of clinical trial data of potential COVID-19 treatments, including hydroxychloroquine and remdesivir.

Now you can hear him talk about his process with Bob Garfield of WNYC. It's not long and it's well worth a listen:


The Flynn Affair....The Judge v. The Trump/Barr Department Of Justice.


You've probably seen, read or heard about how the currently misnamed USian Trump/Barr Department of Justice has exonerated the USian Trumpian former national security advisor Michael Flynn, a fine fellow who previously pled guilty to lying to the FBI about his secret conversations with the Russians.

And you may have seen all the breathy talk in the biggest of the bigtime media about how this latest outrage is unprecedented in legal terms, all of which makes for blood pressure-raising headlines that will likely all be gone by Monday when the next unprecedented outrage blossoms.

However, what you may not have seen/read/heard anywhere is analysis of how the judge in the original case has already refuted the 'new' arguments of the USian Trump/Barr DOJ.

The place to get that is from Marcy Wheeler over at Emptywheel.

Here is her latest kicker:

...Just six months ago, (judge) Emmet Sullivan examined the substance of the arguments that (USian Trump/Barr) DOJ claims are new. He not only found that they did not affect Flynn’s guilty plea, but he reminded Flynn that Flynn already stated, under oath, that none of the things DOJ raised yesterday change that he was guilty of lying to the FBI...

So, the real question now is....

Will the judge overrule the USian Trump/Barr DOJ's brazen attempt to grant Mr. Flynn a pardon/not pardon and uphold the guilty plea, regardless?


If you're at all interested in keeping track of what is really going on here, and what is likely to come with the Roger Stone case, I highly recommend you keep tabs of what's going on over at Emptywheel, and not just for the posts because the comment threads, which are ruled with an iron fist by excellent comment mods (meaning they don't suffer fools or misinformative garbage spew), are informative as well.


Thursday, May 07, 2020

The Real Problem Is Much Larger Than 'Innocent Endeavours' In Walla Walla Washington.

Like many, I was appalled at the early reports that there were apparently parties going on in Walla Walla Washington where people had decided that SARS-CoV2 is essentially the same, in terms of risk to life and limb, as varicella zoster, the virus that causes chickenpox.

Well, you can relax (but not really) because the public heath officials in the very fine county of Walla Walla who originally raised the alarm have retracted/called back their original claim according to Mike Baker of the NYTimes:

...Meghan DeBolt, the director of community health for Walla Walla County, said county officials were learning more about the cases that have emerged from the recent social gatherings. She said they were still hearing reports of parties where infected people were present but do not have evidence that the people who became ill after the gatherings had attended out of a desire to be exposed...

Of course, there is a whole lot in the statement from Walla Walla County community health director Ms. DeBolt, above, to be concerned about, regardless.

But the much bigger origin story that may be contributing to the planning and execution of  'social gatherings' where 'infected people' may or may not be present is the very likely the following, as reported by Aaron Blake of the Washington Post:

It’s the notion that some Trump allies and conservative media figures just can’t kick: The idea that the official death toll from the coronavirus is being inflated. They use the argument to suggest, as Trump has, that outbreak is being politically weaponized against him. They also use it to argue for a swifter reopening of the economy.

Unfortunately, their latest theory is just as specious as its predecessors.

Over the weekend, this quest for an inflated-death-toll smoking gun focused on one page on the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Web page, which relays data from death certificates, currently shows the coronavirus death toll at 37,308 — far lower than other estimates, which have it around 66,000 or 67,000.

This led to allegations that the CDC had suddenly revised its death toll significantly downward or that the death toll is dropping off in recent weeks, as the week-by-week data on the Web page would appear to suggest. While it shows more than 12,000 coronavirus deaths for the week ending April 11, that drops to about 10,400 the following week and about 3,200 the next week.

Just The News, a website recently launched by Trump-friendly journalist John Solomon, ran with this headline: “CDC: Coronavirus, influenza deaths fall for second straight week.”

A tweet from right-wing media personality Tim Young went viral, stating, “Did I read this wrong or did the CDC just revised the national COVID-19 deaths to 37,308?!?!” Other right-wing media posts suggesting as much were widely shared.

The claim was also made on “Fox and Friends" this weekend via actress Sam Sorbo, with no pushback from the hosts. And Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Sunday night promoted an article from a random website called that alleged the CDC had suddenly cut the death toll “Nearly In HALF.”...


...Even a cursory look at the Web page at issue should disabuse anyone of this particular theory. At the top, the page clearly says these data are based upon death certificates and are thus a lagging indicator of the death toll...


...The whole things harks back to another easily debunked theory floated by a Fox News personality. A month ago, some conservatives pointed to other data on the CDC website — for pneumonia deaths — to argue that the coronavirus death toll was inflated. The apparent drop-off in pneumonia deaths, they argued, suggested pneumonia deaths were being wrongly coded as coronavirus deaths to juice the numbers.

Fox News’s Tucker Carlson even did a segment on it. The only problem? The data was, again, lagging. And it didn’t even account for the time period in which coronavirus deaths began to rise significantly.


Cleary, every single possible viral shark has now been jumped in the still highly-populated shallow end of the American public discourse pool.

Which, all snark aside, is a very, very dangerous thing from a public health perspective, indeed.

'Innocent' or otherwise.