Well, This Should Inspire Confidence in the Virus Czar

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And then he had his hands all over his face.

But, all seriousness aside, I was down at the clinic this morning, getting my periodic confirmation that I am yet alive. My favorite nurse was wearing a mask. She said the last week or so has seen a big influx of people with flu-like symptoms. And she reminded me that we have a great big international airport, where lots of people fly in, and then have a golden opportunity to infect the mobs of people moving through the airport.

I said that I assume they have no way, at the clinic, to identify those with the coronavirus. She said that’s right.

Dr. Aardvark and I are both feeling a little dodgy. Hypochondria, most probably.

Paranoia

Uriah Heep

Will Trump Dump Sycophant-in-Chief Mike Pence?

Trump privately asking aides if Pence is loyal: report

Why is Trump Freaking Out About Pence?

The latter article asks, among other things, whether

Trump is worried about whether he’ll survive whatever is coming from Robert Mueller and wants to know if Pence might be inclined to give him a quick shove out the door if the opportunity presents itself. It would not shock me, actually, if there is a pro-pence cabal forming in the aftermath of the midterm elections, so this is perhaps not that far-fetched.

And if you have any doubt whether there is any fire producing this smoke, this will infallibly answer the question: Trump, Pence Dismiss NYT Report That Trump Questions Pence’s Loyalty.

I think we have all figured out by now that Trump and Pence do not randomly lie, sometimes,  and tell the truth, sometimes. No, they pretty much lie all the time. Which makes things simpler. If they took the trouble affirmatively to deny the story, then it must be true.

Significantly, however, they lie in different ways. Trump lies like the drunken kook on the stool down at the end of the bar, with whom it’s impossible to have anything remotely resembling a rational conversation.

Pence lies like Uriah Heep—with insincerity, cloying humility, obsequiousness, and sycophancy. Pious Pence looks you straight in the eyes and lies with the straightest of straight faces.

But Trump knows this. And Trump knows that he is that most laughable of laughing stocks, the paranoid who actually has enemies. Trump doesn’t buy Pence’s act. Not even for a New York minute.

Que Probablemente Sera

It’s likely—not certain but, at this point, likely—that Trump will be hit with serious criminal charges. That will have lots of effects, one of which will be a further deterioration in Trump’s already fragile mental state, likely to the point that even the numerous Baghdad Bobs who surround Trump will have a really hard time pretending things are normal.

At that point, the more sentient among the Republican professional class will grasp that they can go down with the ship. Or not.

After that, events are likely to take one of two courses. One is a prolonged national agony—and a further split in the Republican base. In California the Republican Party has been wiped out. (RIP, California GOP.) A drawn out fight would bring about much the same thing in lots of other places.

The other possibility is successful action to take Trump out of the picture, and that right quickly. To accomplish that, the “evangelical leaders” would have to join the conspiracy, with a well laid plan to persuade their gullible followers that God has now chosen Mike Pence as their earthly savior.

As a former antitrust lawyer, I know much about conspiracies. One thing I know—and you won’t be surprised to learn it—is that your chances of success are greatly enhanced if not too many people know about the plot.

I think Mitch McConnell, Mike Pence, Jerry Falwell, Jr, and a few others among the publicly pious would be enough to do the job.

The pundit I quoted above allowed as how he would not be shocked to learn that the cabal has already been formed.

I, myself, would be shocked to learn that the conspiracy is not already in its initial planning stages.

One of These Articles is Satire

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Honoring Pittsburgh synagogue victims, Pence appears with ‘rabbi’ who preaches, ‘Jesus is the Messiah’

Appearing with the vice president on Monday, Jacobs invoked “Jesus the Messiah” and “Savior Yeshua” — another name for Jesus — as he offered a prayer for the dead and wounded in Pittsburgh. “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, God and Father of my Lord and Savior Yeshua, Jesus the Messiah, and my God and Father, too,” he intoned.

Trump Strips Citizenship from Children of Immigrants, Thus Disqualifying Himself from Presidency

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Donald J. Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order stripping the children of immigrant mothers of their citizenship, thus disqualifying himself from being President of the United States.

The constitutional crisis came to light moments after the signing ceremony, when a fourth grader visiting the Oval Office on a school tour pointed out the far-reaching legal ramifications of the order.

“Hey, wait, wasn’t your mother from Scotland?” the student, Tracy Klugian, asked. “That means you’re not a citizen and you can’t be President.”

Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to Trump and the author of the executive order, quickly grabbed the document from the Oval Office desk, panic spreading across his face as he reread it.

“Oh, my God,” Miller gasped. “What have I done?”

Trump immediately called Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh for help in voiding the executive order, but Kavanaugh was unable to take the call because he was “sleeping off a rough night,” an aide to the Justice said.

I May Have Been Unfair to our 46th President

From the European member of Aardvark’s posse comes this comparison of Pence paean to Stalin’s Cult of Personality:

Thank you, Stalin. Thank you because I am joyful. Thank you because I am well. No matter how old I become, I shall never forget how we received Stalin two days ago. Centuries will pass, and the generations still to come will regard us as the happiest of mortals, as the most fortunate of men, because we lived in the century of centuries, because we were privileged to see Stalin, our inspired leader … Everything belongs to thee, chief of our great country. And when the woman I love presents me with a child the first word it shall utter will be: Stalin.

In Fifth Shades of Orange, Michelle Goldberg argues that Pence’s humiliating song of praise to Trump may not be the insincere mountain of bullshit that it appears to be.

It was a neat summation of where the Republican Party is at the end of the first year of Trump. There’s been a synthesis, in which Trump and establishment Republicans adopt one another’s worst qualities. Trump, who campaigned as a putative economic populist — even calling for higher taxes on the rich — will soon sign into law the tax plan of the House speaker Paul Ryan’s Ayn Randian dreams. The majority of elected Republicans, in turn, are assuming a posture of slavish submission to Trump, worshiping their dear leader and collaborating in the maintenance of his alternative reality.

Some of this might be strategic; everyone knows Trump is susceptible to flattery. But in many cases — certainly with Pence — it seems sincere. In a recent Atlantic profile of the vice president, McKay Coppins wrote that Pence’s faith mandates obedience to temporal as well as heavenly authority. When he accepted the vice-presidential nomination, Coppins wrote, “he believed he was committing to humbly submit to the will of Donald Trump.” From a secular perspective, Pence, like many other Republicans, appears to be a person inclined to authoritarianism. …

For the past year, a lot of us have assumed that Republicans are putting up with Trump out of fear of their base or lust for tax cuts. We’ve imagined that beneath our mutual partisan loathing lies some remaining shared commitment to liberal democracy. Maybe that’s true, and Republicans will display new independence once tax reform is signed, particularly if support for the president keeps dwindling.

But there’s another possibility, which is that a critical mass of Republicans like being in thrall to a man who seems strong enough to will his own reality, and bold enough to voice their atavistic hatreds. Maybe Trump is changing Republicans, or maybe he’s just giving men like Pence permission to be who they already were.

And Now, A Message from the Next President of the United States

THE PRESIDENT: Mike, would you like to say a few words?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I appreciate it Mr. President. As I told you last night, shortly after the Senate vote — I know I speak on behalf of the entire Cabinet and of millions of Americans when I say, congratulations and thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you for seeing, through the course of this year, an agenda that truly is restoring this country. You described it very well, Mr. President. From the outset of this administration, we’ve been rebuilding our military, putting the safety and security of the American people first.

You’ve restored American credibility on the world stage. We’re standing with our allies. We’re standing up to our enemies.

But you promised economic renewal at home. You said we could make this economy great again, and you promised to roll back regulations, and you’ve signed more bills rolling back federal red tape than any President in American history. You’ve unleashed American energy. You’ve spurred an optimism in this country that’s setting records.

But you promised the American people in that campaign a year ago that you would deliver historic tax cuts, and it would be a “middle-class miracle.” And in just a short period of time, that promise will be fulfilled.

And I just — I’m deeply humbled, as your Vice President, to be able to be here. Because of your leadership, Mr. President, and because of the strong support of the leadership in the Congress of the United States, you’re delivering on that middle-class miracle.

You’ve actually got the Congress to do, as you said, what they couldn’t do with ANWR for 40 years. You got the Congress to do, with tax cuts for working families and American businesses, what they haven’t been able to do for 31 years. And you got Congress to do what they couldn’t do for seven years, in repealing the individual mandate in Obamacare.

I know you would have me also acknowledge the people around this table, Mr. President. I want to thank the leaders in Congress once again for their partnership in this. I want to thank your outstanding team, your Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, for Gary Cohn, for Ivanka Trump, for your great legislative team — all the members of this Cabinet who partnered to drive your vision forward over the past six months after you laid out that vision for tax reform.

But mostly, Mr. President, I’ll end where I began and just tell you, I want to thank you, Mr. President. I want to thank you for speaking on behalf of and fighting every day for the forgotten men and women of America. Because of your determination, because of your leadership, the forgotten men and women of America are forgotten no more. And we are making America great again.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mike. That’s very nice. I appreciate that.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mr. President, and God bless you.