Mass Conversion to Islam

Washington mosque

Only one day ago, I commented on a high school classmate’s Facebook post linking mask wearing to Islam. Only one day ago, I pointed out the Mike Pence, henceforth to be known as Mike ibn Hassan Pence, had undergone a religious conversion.

What a difference a day makes.

Now the whole Republican establishment—minus Trump—has declared that there is no god but Allah, and Mohammad is His Prophet. See WaPo, Republican leaders now say everyone should wear a mask—even as Trump refuses and has mocked some who do.

I understand that membership at the Islamic institute of Washington, depicted above, has grown exponentially.

The Confused Elephant in the Room: A Postscript

I should have added this to my immediately preceding post.

Notice how events are forcing—literally forcing—Republican empty suits to abandon some of the craziness of the ten to twenty percent of the country who make up the hardest of the hard core of the Cult of Trump.

Call me nuts, but I draw a connection between the March of the Masked and the fate of the Confederate flag in Mississippi.

No, I don’t claim that A caused B or that B caused A. I claim that both developments—and many other developments we have yet to see—illustrate how an unbearable, and an untenable, strain is being placed on the alliance of the plutocrats and the racists.

Now, as the Mississippi article shows, if you’re a Confederate flag embracer, you are an embarrassment to the plutocrats—you frighten away their other customers—and they flat out don’t want you on Team Plutocrat any longer.

Some of us were anti-racists when anti-racism wasn’t cool. Now, we welcome as many as possible into the big anti-racist tent.

With that thought in mind, here is some evening music for you to enjoy.

And, as Ms. Mandrell would probably admit, some where country when country really, really wasn’t cool.

David Frum Names the Elephant in the Room

Screen Shot 2020-06-30 at 9.38.25 PM

WaPo, Republican leaders now say everyone should wear a mask—even as Trump refuses and has mocked some who do

David Frum, This Is Trump’s Plague Now: The first coronavirus spike, in late April, can be blamed on the president’s negligence. The second spike, in June, is his own doing.

Axios, the political website, used to have its daily One Big Thing. I don’t know whether they are still doing that. But David Frum captures the One Big Thing of the present hour.

Lots going on, of course. More vigorous ass licking of Putin by Orange Man. Meanwhile, over at Stars and Stripes, the bounty on American soldiers is big news. Congress can’t agree on the next stimulus bill. Congress can’t agree on police reform. Over at Faux News tonight, an acress is apologizing for her topless photo. But, even there, some hint of reality seeps through: as Faux News reports, Confusion reigns as states claw back coronavirus reopenings amid surge.

Confusion indeed.

David Frum cuts through the confusion like a knife through butter. The first coronavirus spike was due to presidential negligence. The current coronavirus spike results from his intentional conduct.

The White Power Video

As you will see, the video begins with a mentally disturbed elderly dude loudly ejaculating the phrase “White Power!”

Greg Sargent thinks Trump’s tactic is to encourage acts of racial violence, to sow fear and  a sense of victimhood among his base. He is probably right. It’s a trifecta:

  • evil, seamlessly combined with
  • asininity, all rolled into
  • flop sweat desperation.

A Letter to My High School Classmates

I know that many of you have chosen, like myself, to live, intellectually, here in the early 21st century, not to live somewhere between the mid-20th century of our youth and the early 19th century pre-Darwinian intellectual world.

To you I send my greetings and salutations. You need read no further.

This letter is addressed to the others—the folks who belong to the ten percent of the US population who don’t “trust” generic “medical scientists” to give reliable information on the coronavirus. Or the 20 percent of the US population who “don’t trust” Dr. Fauci to supply reliable recommendations on public health.

I have three messages. One is a piece of advice. One is good news for you. One is bad news for you.

Protect Your Health

You are 73 or 74 years old. I hope that you enjoy rude good health, considering your age. Or maybe, like me, you suffer from some of those comorbidities we have heard so much about in recent weeks.

Here is what you need to do, and you know it.

Stay at home as much as possible. When you go outside, wear a mask and socially distance. Above all else, avoid large indoor crowds of people packed together, not wearing masks.

When your grandchildren show up at your door—some wearing masks, some not—put on your mask and invite them for a visit out on the patio.

Because the disease is out there.

Cases

And, if you get the disease, then you will probably die a fairly quick death, but not before suffering a lot of misery.

Deaths

If you are a Bible believer, then you believe that God sent the ten plagues to Egypt—and that He had a good reason for sending the plagues. God was trying to send the Egyptians a message.

If so, how can you deny that God is sending the plague of coronavirus to Red State America for some purpose as well?

Perhaps His purpose is to remind you to use the common sense and reason that He gave you.

One of our classmates recently suggested that Unnamed “They” are encouraging us to wear masks as a prelude to forcing us to become Muslim. She may be interested to learn that Mike Pence just converted to Islam.

Marco Rubio says “Wear the damn mask.” Rick Scott agrees. As does Mike Pence.

Mike “Ibn Hassan” Pence wants you to wear the mask because he hopes you live to vote for him some day soon. Donald Trump, by contrast, does not give a damn whether you live or whether you die.

It would be really wise of you to follow Mike Pence and Marco Rubio, instead of Donald Trump and Sean Hannity.

***

I now come to the good news and the bad news. Logically, the bad news should come first and the good news should come second. But what the heck? Let’s go with the good news first.

The Good News: Thoughts are Free—Die Gedanken Sind Frei

Thoughts are free. One of our classmates recently declared that he enjoys thinking “white thoughts.” And this attitude, may I say, is mighty white of him.

Good news: if you enjoy thinking white thoughts, then do sit in your mancave and think away. Like the song says, die gedanken sind frei. Nobody’s gonna stop you.

If you wish to live in the pre-Darwinian world, rejecting the foundation stone of modern biology, the theory of evolution, then that is your prerogative.

If you want to adorn your living room with portraits of Confederate heroes, be my guest.

If you want to believe, like another of our classmates, that nobody’s dying of covid-19, instead its tuberculosis brought in by all those dirty immigrants, then go right ahead.

Perhaps you enjoy humor. There’s great humor you can share with your like-minded friends. Here’s one of my favorites: you can have many hours of innocent amusement trolling the libtards with the ditty I’ve Got Friends in Safe Spaces. What a hoot!

Or this one—it’s even better: I Think My Dog’s a Democrat. And what about the lustrous shiny black sheen on that pooch, huh? That really shows to go you, even if you might be a little slow to hear the dog whistle.

Or, for times when you’re in a more serious mood, I can highly recommend God Bless Trump and the USA.

And then, there are all the whackadoodle conspiracy theories to share among your kind. You know, about George Soros and the You Know Whos.

Maybe you can enjoy yourselves making unkind observations about me and the horse I rode in on.

There is hardly an end to the variety of activities with which you can improve the shining hour, freely thinking whatever gedanken come to your mind.

***

Now for the bad news.

DUSTBIN

You are Losing

Trump is leading you off the cliff culturally. Look at what has just happened with the Confederate flag in Mississippi. In those golden days of yesteryear, Walmart, Sanderson Farms, the Mississippi Economic Council, and “C-suite executives at Fortune 500 companies” catered to you, in exchange for your votes in favor of their plutocratic agenda. No more. Now they have cast you aside like yesterday’s newspapers. You are no longer a help to the plutocrats, you are an embarrassment.

Trump is leading you down a cliff politically. 2020 is going to see a massive repudiation at the polls of Confederate monument huggers and Unmasked death defiers. Already, the Republican major of Jacksonville, Florida, has declared that masking will be required at the convention.

Trump is leading you down a cliff medically. I’ll say it again. The man does not care whether you live or whether you die.

I strongly recommend that you choose life.

And a Final Word

I disagree with you, but I bear you no ill will, nor do I think you are bad people. I wish for you the same thing I wish for myself: about three decades more of continued decent health, followed by a painless and peaceful passage to the other side.

And I hope that, like me, you are blessed to enjoy sheltering in place with the one great love of your life.

Stay safe. Go with God. Choose life. And may the road rise to greet you, and may the wind be always at your back.

The Virus Doesn’t Care Whether You Live in Texas, Worship at First Baptist of Dallas, and Watch Fox News

Jesus and Trump

Things are rapidly coming to a head.

Gabby Orr, A new dilemma for Trump’s team: Preventing super-spreader churches: Courting religious voters, the president fought for churches to open up quickly after the shutdowns. The consequences include coronavirus clusters tied to churches.

Amy Davidson Sorkin, The Tragedy of the New Coronavirus Spikes: The pandemic’s epicenter is shifting, and Trump still refuses to act responsibly; Republican governors need to decide if they will.

Washington Post, With Trump leading the way, America’s coronavirus failures exposed by record surge in new infections

Margaret Sullivan, The data is [sic] in: Fox News may have kept millions from taking the coronavirus threat seriously

N.Y. Times, After Asking Americans to Sacrifice in Shutdown, Leaders Failed to Control Virus: As Covid-19 cases surge, it is clear many governors underestimated the coronavirus and rushed to reopen before their states were ready.

Whatever You Do, Stay Away from the Fan

the fan

Orange Man is Fine with Putin Killing American Soldiers

N.Y. Times, Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops, Intelligence Says: The Trump administration has been deliberating for months about what to do about a stunning intelligence assessment.

There ia big kerfuffle this weekend about whether and when Trump was “briefed.” The talking heads were all talking excitedly about “What did he know and when did he know it?”

Well, he bloody well knows about it now.

So, what is he going to do?

I expect it will come down to which part of Putin’s anatomy he chooses to kiss first.

 

Pollyanna Looks at the Coronavirus “Trust” Data

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The above is from new polling sponsored by the New York Times. A couple of takeaways.

Many Republicans Appear to be Suffering from Cognitive Dissonance. Bigly.

One may assume, I think, that the 25 percent of Republicans unwilling to confess “trust” in generic “medical scientists” make up a large portion of the 66 percent of Republicans who claim to “trust” Donald Trump on the coronavirus. Subtracting 25 from 66, we get 41 percent of Republicans who claim “trust” in BOTH Trump and generic “medical scientists.” That means that 41 percent of Republicans, i.e., 17 percent of the U.S. population, are seriously, seriously confused in their thinking.

There are many things one might say about this information. Pollyanna told me she concludes that Trump’s support has a ways yet to drop, as we continue to experience the ravages of the virus.

Others Remain Hard Core Cultists

Apart from the many Republicans suffering from painful cognitive dissonance, we learn that 25 percent of Republicans don’t have trust in generic “medical scientists,” 29 percent don’t trust the Centers for Disease Control, and 49 percent don’t trust Dr. Fauci. These percentages represent, respectively, 10 percent of the U.S. population, 12 percent of the U.S. population, and 20 percent of the U.S. population.

Further strong evidence on the portion of our population that is not confused, but is, rather, batshit crazy.

The Asymptote of Trump Support

The 20 percent cultists and the 17 percent who are very confused add up to 37 percent. That could turn out to be the asymptote of Trump support.

As I said, Pollyanna thinks it could go lower than that. But then, she is Pollyanna.

Meanwhile, Some Straws in the Wind

Mike Pence is bailing on previously scheduled virus-defying political trips.

And we have it on allegedly good authority that Trump knows he’s headed down the crapper.

Happy Pollyanna

 

An Emetic for the American People

emetic

The summer after we graduated high school, we watched—or at least many of us watched—the unfolding horror of the disappearance and murder of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner, near Philadelphia, Mississippi.

It has been 56 years since that day, 56 long and wearisome years for the oppressed.

And still, and still, over at the high school Facebook page, some of my classmates blather on .. and on .. and on, speaking of the glorious Confederate monuments and their glorious Confederate heritage. Others, I am happy to say, push back.

And the Mississippi Legislature decides this would be a fine and opportune time to change its damn flag. And down at Ole Miss, the Confederate monument is going to go.

As I sit here this evening, I am reminded of Washington and Jefferson and that crew. They were Deists, espousing belief in a watchmaker God, a God who did not make it her business to intervene in human history. But their success in the American Revolution seemed so miraculous, so divinely inspired, that they came to question their Deist views—or, at least, one might put it, to hedge their opinions.

I, myself, will not take this occasion to change my theology. I will not declare that it is God who has made us drop the scales from our eyes, and who has make the Mississippi Legislature reconsider its views.

And yet something miraculous is happening. How can we explain it?

My theory is that Donald Trump has so wallowed in narcissism, cruelty, and stupidity that it is as if he has forced 80 percent of the country to force down a powerful emetic.

About 20 percent of us—including my classmates who, like the Bourbon Dynasty, have learned nothing from history and forgotten nothing—enjoy wallowing in the mud along with Trump.

About 80 percent of us feel the need for a nice long trip to the bathroom. A need to stay there until we have vomited the poison from our system.

Cruelty is becoming decidedly unpopular.

Bigotry is losing its good name.

And now, in the fulness of time, at long last, the answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.

 

Mississippi, Yes, Even Mississippi: “We’re not Destroying our Heritage, We’re Fulfilling It”

Cheney etc

Washington Post, Mississippi lawmakers pass resolution paving way to remove Confederate logo from state flag:

Amid ongoing national protests against racial injustice, Mississippi state lawmakers have paved the way for legislation to remove the Confederate symbol from the state flag.

On Saturday, the Republican-led House of Representatives and the Senate voted by a two-thirds majority to clear the path for a measure that would remove the current flag and replace it with a new design free of Confederate iconography.

After the votes were announced in each chamber, applause broke out. Earlier in the day, Gov. Tate Reeves (R) indicated that he will sign the bill to change the flag if one reaches his desk, a shift from his previously held position that voters should decide whether to change the flag via referendum. …

House Speaker Pro Tempore Jason White (R) also argued forcefully against keeping the flag, saying that “whether we like it or not,” it had come to be viewed as a symbol of hate.

“By changing our flag, we don’t abandon our founding principles,” he said. “We embrace them more fully by doing what is right. We’re not moving further away from our Founding Fathers’ visions. We’re moving closer to them. We’re not destroying our heritage; we’re fulfilling it.”

Why They Didn’t Socially Distance in Tulsa

Do Not Sit Here

6,200 people fitted themselves into 19,200 seats. There was plenty of room to social distance. Why didn’t they do it?

Because Trump staffers ordered the removal of the 12,000 “Do Not Sit Here, Please!” stickers that the arena management had purchased and placed on every other seat.

WaPo has the story.

Splitting the Masked from the Unmasked

exempt card

So, let’s say that 41 percent of our fellow Americans identify themselves as Republicans. (See, e.g., fivethirtyeight.com, showing, as of today, that 40.7 percent favor a generic Republican for Congress over a generic Democrat, while 40.6 percent still “approve” of Trump.)

I checked on the mask wearing stats. As of a month ago, 58 percent of Republicans say they wear a mask when they leave their homes, and 38 to 48 percent of Republicans think Trump should wear a mask. I can’t explain why more Republicans wear masks themselves than think Trump should wear a mask. Be that as it may, clearly about half of Republicans are mask wearers. And, I have a strong suspicion that their numbers are increasing in Texas and Florida.

By simple arithmetic, the Unmasked represent right around 20 percent of the US population. I would bet you a nice steak dinner that these 20 percent correlate very closely to people who would say no to this question: “The theory of evolution is the foundation of modern scientific biology. Do you believe in the theory of evolution?”

They have, in other words, been conditioned, more or less from birth, to believe that biological science is bogus—and the work of the Devil.

By his words—and, even more importantly, by his deeds—Orange Man is doing everything in his power to drive an immovable wedge between the Masked half of his base and the Unmasked half of his base.

Let’s just stand back and let him do his work. If he wants, we can even hold his coat. Bring him a nice refreshing glass of iced tea–sweet or unsweet, as he prefers. As long as he keeps on dividing the Masked from the Unmasked.

Embracing Confederate monuments? Yeah, that’s significant, and that’s unpopular.

Embracing police unions and police brutality? Ditto.

But a Confederate monument is not going to kill you. And, if you are a Trump supporter, you are very probably not going to get stopped, not going to get frisked, and not going to get brutalized by the cops.

So, Confederate monuments and police brutality represent somebody else’s experience and somebody else’s problem.

Facing grave health risk at the hands of the Unmasked? Guess what? That’s YOUR problem.

The Wall Street Journal Would Like Its Plutocratic Audience to Know that the Jig is Just About Up

Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, The Trump Referendum: He still has no second term message beyond his own grievances:

President Trump may soon need a new nickname for “Sleepy Joe” Biden. How does President-elect sound? On present trend that’s exactly what Mr. Biden will be on Nov. 4, as Mr. Trump heads for what could be an historic repudiation that would take the Republican Senate down with him.

Mr. Trump refuses to acknowledge what every poll now says is true: His approval rating has fallen to the 40% or below that is George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter territory. They’re the last two Presidents to be denied a second term. This isn’t 2017 when Mr. Trump reached similar depths after failing to repeal ObamaCare while blaming Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. He regained support with tax reform and a buoyant economy that really was lifting all incomes.

***

Now the election is four months away, voters know him very well, and Mr. Trump has reverted to his worst form. His record fighting the coronavirus is better than his critics claim after a bad start in late February and March. He mobilized federal resources to help hard-hit states, especially New York.

But he wasted his chance to show leadership by turning his daily pandemic pressers into brawls with the bear-baiting press and any politician who didn’t praise him to the skies. Lately he has all but given up even talking about the pandemic when he might offer realism and hope about the road ahead even as the country reopens. His default now is defensive self-congratulation.

The country also wants firm but empathetic leadership after the death of George Floyd, but Mr. Trump offers combative tweets that inflame. Not long ago Mr. Trump tweeted that a 75-year old man who was pushed by police in Buffalo might be an antifa activist. He offered no evidence.

Americans don’t like racial enmity and they want their President to reduce it. Mr. Trump has preached racial harmony on occasion, but he gives it all back with riffs that misjudge the national moment. His “law and order” message might resonate if disorder and rioting continue through the summer, but only if Mr. Trump is also talking about racial reconciliation and opportunity for all.

Mr. Trump has little time to recover. The President’s advisers say that he trailed Hillary Clinton by this much at this point in 2016, that they haven’t had a chance to define Mr. Biden, and that as the election nears voters will understand the binary choice. Perhaps. But in 2016 Mrs. Clinton was as unpopular as Mr. Trump, while Mr. Biden is not.

Mr. Biden hasn’t even had to campaign to take a large lead. He rarely leaves his Delaware basement, he dodges most issues, and his only real message is that he’s not Donald Trump. He says he’s a uniter, not a divider. He wants racial peace and moderate police reform. He favors protests but opposes riots and violence.

Some Democrats are literally advising Mr. Biden to barely campaign at all. Eliminate the risk of a mental stumble that will raise doubts about his declining capacity that was obvious in the primaries. Let Mr. Trump remind voters each day why they don’t want four more years of tumult and narcissism.

Mr. Trump’s base of 35% or so will never leave, but the swing voters who stood by him for three and a half years have fallen away in the last two months. This includes suburban women, independents, and seniors who took a risk on him in 2016 as an outsider who would shake things up. Now millions of Americans are close to deciding that four more years are more risk than they can stand.

***

As of now Mr. Trump has no second-term agenda, or even a message beyond four more years of himself. His recent events in Tulsa and Arizona were dominated by personal grievances. He resorted to his familiar themes from 2016 like reducing immigration and denouncing the press, but he offered nothing for those who aren’t already persuaded.

Mr. Trump’s advisers have an agenda that would speak to opportunity for Americans of all races—school choice for K-12, vocational education as an alternative to college, expanded health-care choice, building on the opportunity zones in tax reform, and more. The one issue on which voters now give him an edge over Mr. Biden is the economy. An agenda to revive the economy after the pandemic, and restore the gains for workers of his first three years, would appeal to millions.

Perhaps Mr. Trump lacks the self-awareness and discipline to make this case. He may be so thrown off by his falling polls that he simply can’t do it. If that’s true he should understand that he is headed for a defeat that will reward all of those who schemed against him in 2016. Worse, he will have let down the 63 million Americans who sent him to the White House by losing, of all people, to “Sleepy Joe.”

No Trust in Antitrust

Sherman Act

This afternoon, I want to lift up an op-ed by Bill Baer headlined Think the DOJ’s Antitrut Division is immune from political meddling? Think again. In a world that seems to be headed rapidly to hell in a handbasket, political meddling with the Antitrust Division may seem like small beer. And it probably is, all things considered, in today’s world. The last time it happened, though, back in the Nixon Administration, it was a full-scale three-alarm fire.

I wish to draw attention to the author, in order to put his remarks in their proper context. Bill Baer is, among many other things, a senior partner at Arnold & Porter, a consummate antitrust lawyer, and an insider’s insider. I have known him since the 1980’s, when we sometimes joined forces (as counsel for the buyer and seller, respectively) to get anticompetitive mergers and acquisitions through the government review process. During the last years of the Reagan Administration, our task was much akin to taking candy from a baby.

Later, as George Bush the Elder restored sanity to antitrust enforcement, the game once again reverted to what it should have been.

I commend Bill for speaking out. The tale he has to tell is worth a listen. Because willful pursuit of clearly meritless claims, undertaken to punish companies that don’t toe the line politically, is something that should not be tolerated.

Not Roosevelt, Not Reagan, But Late Elvis

First off, if you want to know how American politics stands as of the morning of June 15, 2020, then watch the clips. If the topic does not interest you, then feel free to go back to the sudoku game.

Secondly, I would like to say that I am grateful beyond measure that the arc of the universe seems to be bending a little more toward justice—that many more of us melanin-deprived Americans are waking up to racial injustice. I am glad that we have to wear hard hats to dodge the Confederate monuments toppling around us. To use language common among us heretics, I give praise to the Spirit of Life, and I am grateful that I have lived to see the day.

But does the racial awakening have much, if anything, to do with the state of Trump’s popularity and electability? I doubt it very, very seriously.

Every day, in every way, Trump has decided to lie, gaslight, and spin his way out of the pandemic. And worse, much worse, every day, in every way, he has encourage his peeps to defy public health advice and to place their lives in imminent danger to show their loyalty to the Cult of Trump.

Some of the base have bought the gaslighting, and many have not. The mask wearers are being separated by a higher and higher wall from the death defiers.

The mask wearers may have had trouble understanding what Ukrainegate was all about. They may have found the Muller Report too hard to read. But they have figured out that they don’t want to die.

The consequences? With 270 electoral votes needed to win, Trump currently leads in states with 142 votes, Biden currently leads in states with 307 votes, and states with 89 votes are considered tossups. And new polling shows Trump sinking like a stone in six key “battleground states.” See Philip Bump, A massive shift away from Trump in six key states indicates serious trouble for his reelection bid.

And what is Trump’s plan to turn this all around? As Morning Joe observed, his plan is to give ‘em a show.

He’s not Roosevelt. He’s not Reagan. He’s Late Elvis.