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Repeating the Past

This article from the Daily Beast (so read it with a grain of salt) is supposedly about how Donald Trump claimed that he “didn’t know people died from the flu” when in fact his grandfather died from the Spanish flu. The article points out “The president’s grandfather, in fact, was one of the first domestic casualties of the world’s worst modern pandemic, which ultimately killed millions.” But is Trump lying about easily disproved things considered news anymore?

More interestingly, the article goes on to talk about president Woodrow Wilson, and how his efforts to downplay the virus was instrumental in helping the Spanish flu turn into the historic killer that it became. Not only did Wilson get the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918 passed, which made criticism of the government (including spreading “pessimistic stories” calling for peace, or belittling the US effort to win WWI) a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison, he also created a propaganda arm of the US government at the urging of Arthur Bullard. Bullard claimed “Truth and falsehood are arbitrary terms… The force of an idea lies in its inspirational value. It matters very little if it is true or false.” Sound familiar?

The government telling citizens that everything was ok and suppressing public health officials from telling people how to combat or even avoid the disease led to uncountable deaths, estimated at 50 million people worldwide, more than the total number of people killed by WWI, and estimated to be almost the total deaths from WWII.

Ironically, president Wilson himself was eventually hobbled by the flu in the midst of peace talks (of course, the government publicly lied, saying that it was merely a cold).

So now, we have a president who claims that everything is alright, saying there is nothing to worry about from the coronavirus, while slashing funding for the CDC and eliminating the government team responsible for fighting global pandemics. He doesn’t need to create a propaganda arm because he already has the right-wing media. He even put his vice president in charge of combating it, a man who claimed in 2001 that “smoking doesn’t kill” and, when he was governor, tried to deal with the worst outbreak of HIV in his state’s history by praying it away.

UPDATE: The US is dead last (no pun intended) in testing for the coronavirus. South Korea is first with 2,138 tests per million people, Italy is next with 386 tests per million, but the US has only tested 1 person per million. And the US has far more people without health insurance that most civilized countries.

What could go wrong?


Warren on SNL

This SNL opening reminds me why I love both Kate McKinnon and Elizabeth Warren.


Who are you going to believe? Me, or your lying ears?


During a town hall broadcast by Fox News on Thursday night there was a discussion about the national debt, which has soared during the Trump administration.

This, despite the fact that Donald Trump promised to not just eliminate the deficit (which was last accomplished by Bill Clinton), but also the entire national debt. Of course, as soon as he was elected, Trump cut taxes for the rich (like himself) and corporations, and increased military spending dramatically.

Republicans have never tried to hide the fact that they want the deficit to increase so they can cut entitlements like Social Security and Medicare. But it was still a surprise that Fox News host Martha MacCallum pointed out “if you don’t cut something in entitlements, you’ll never really deal with the debt.”

Even more surprising, Trump blurted out in response, “Oh, we’ll be cutting. We’re also going to have growth like you’ve never seen before.” Of course, instead we just had the largest drop in the Dow Jones index in history. That’s due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which Trump is pretending doesn’t exist.

But here’s the really hypocritical part. Immediately afterwards, the White House went into full spin mode, denying that Trump didn’t say what we all heard with our ears. Here’s Kellyanne Conway claiming that Trump didn’t say that, even though Fox News played the clip of Trump saying it (skip ahead to 2:30 for the relevant parts if you can’t stand to listen to Conway for very long):


Pandemic Humor

A selection of comics about the coronavirus:

Dr. Trump's Pandemic Prescription
© Brian McFadden
This Modern World
© Tom Tomorrow
Tom the Dancing Bug: Super Medical Force
© Ruben Bolling
© Lalo Alcaraz


Joe Biden has a huge opportunity staring him in the face. And it is the same opportunity that Obama utilized for his winning coalition, when he brought many of his competing Democrats (and some Republicans) into his administration.

Biden should announce cabinet level (or similar stature) positions for his now-vanquished competition:

  • Elizabeth Warren. Is it too much to hope for her as Biden’s VP? I know the conventional wisdom is that his VP will be a black woman, but he has demonstrated that he already has strong support from the black community. Instead, he really needs someone who can help him with the progressive vote, and Warren will definitely help with that. Plus Warren has shown that she was a great attack dog against Bloomberg, and that could really help against Trump.
  • Amy Klobuchar. She was one of the best debaters, but for some reason she never took off. She would be a great cabinet member, and a strong campaigner for Biden.
  • Pete Buttigieg. Super smart, young, and would help bring in the LGBTQ vote. And the Democratic party would benefit by giving this rising star a role that would provide him experience and attention.
  • Julian Castro. Sanders is strong with Latinos, and this might help blunt that.
  • Maybe even Mike Bloomberg, as Trump is clearly afraid of him, and he has shown he can attack Trump with impunity and do damage.

Comments? Anyone else? Any (presumably never-Trump) Republicans who would be a good addition?


Sick Humor

Does anyone else think that the reason Donald Trump is putting Mike Pence in charge of combatting the coronavirus outbreak is so that Pence can be blamed and thrown under the bus when the outbreak becomes a pandemic?

UPDATE: According to a report in the NY Times, Vice President Mike Pence was picked to lead the federal government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak because President Trump said he didn’t “have anything else to do”.


Sick Propaganda

It looks like the coronavirus is being weaponized as yet another element to bring down Donald Trump. I’m dead right on this. The coronavirus is the common cold, folks.

— Rush Limbaugh, claiming that the coronavirus is fake news and accusing the media of exaggerating its severity.

Yes, this is the same Rush Limbaugh who was just awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Donald Trump. I’m also amused by his bragging that he is “dead right”.

The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!

I think that’s a problem that’s going to go away.

— Donald Trump, expressing confidence that the epidemic will not seriously harm the global economy.

Yes, this is the same Donald Trump who slashed funding for the Centers for Disease Control, National Institute of Health, and the Agency for International Development, while dismantling the entire global health team in charge of handling pandemics.

The Trump administration recently overruled the CDC’s advice and put 14 Americans infected with the coronavirus on a plane back to the U.S. with others who were not infected. Trump was reportedly shocked and upset by the move. But if he didn’t know about it that is strong evidence of how ill-equipped the administration is to handle an outbreak. And if he did know about it, he simply lied, and thinks he can use PR and propaganda to make the problem go away, at the cost of American lives.

It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen in this country any more but a question of when this will happen.

We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad.

— Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Even Republicans are concerned that Trump is just sticking his fingers in his ears and pretending that this will go away. The Senate held a hearing Tuesday morning to address the outbreak, and it did not go well for the administration.

Senator Joe Kennedy (R-LA) castigated the Acting Homeland Security Director Chad Wolf for being unable to answer basic questions about the potential of an outbreak in the U.S., saying “You’re the secretary. I think you oughta know that answer.”

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) told Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar that the Trump administration’s coronavirus $2.5 billion emergency funding request “is lowballing it, possibly, and you can’t afford to do that.” He added, “If you lowball something like this, you’ll pay for it later.”

© Jen Sorensen

Rudy Giuliani, Security Threat

Like his boss, Rudy Giuliani loves Twitter, but he has a problem. Rudy is a poor typist, and often mistypes URLs in his tweets (along with inserting other spelling errors). A director for a cybersecurity company noted that Giuliani creates these bad URLs regularly. His mistyped URLs have become so common that hackers have started buying up the erroneous URLs and redirecting people unfortunate (or stupid) enough to click on those links to fake pages designed to spread malware.

For example, Giuliani meant to tweet a link to his own website, but by mistake inserted a space after Rudy. This created a link to, which didn’t exist until a hacker set up a website for it. That website redirects about six times through websites that collect tracking data on visitors, and then lands on an unsecured website that prompts visitors to download a Google Chrome extension that steals their browsing history and changes their default search engine.

In another example, Giuliani tweeted a link to his website (again), but left out one letter to make it In this case, the hacker who created that domain merely used it to redirect the visitor to the Wikipedia page about Trump’s impeachment.

In yet another example, he left out a space between “G-20” and “.ln”, and Twitter mistook it for a URL and created a link out of it. Just fifteen minutes later a Twitter user had registered the domain and pointed it at an anti-Trump website.

These fat fingered typos can have serious consequences. New York Daily News editorial board member Laura Nahmias admitted that she had clicked on a link in a tweet that was supposedly to Giuliani’s website, but instead was sent to a website that installed malware. Once her computer was infected, she started receiving constant pop-ups for fake antivirus software.

As a high-level journalist, Nahmias takes extra precautions to avoid malware. She brought in the Daily News IT department, who tried several times to remove the bad software, but to no avail. Without any way to stop the malware, she ended up buying a new computer.

Apparently Giuliani doesn’t care about his dangerous mistakes, because he keeps making them. What makes this truly ironic is that at one point, Giuliani was named the Trump administration’s cybersecurity advisor. But of course, Donald Trump hires only the best people.


Supreme Leader?

© Ruben Bolling


Axios sums up the magnitude of this year’s election:

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg is duking it out with Billionaire Donald Trump, often on Billionaire Jack Dorsey’s Twitter and in ads on Billionaire Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook, all chronicled in Billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post. 

And it isn’t just Democrats:

60% of Republicans say they rely on Billionaire Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News for political news.


Going Low

Whether or not you agree with this or even like Bill Maher, it is pretty funny.

(I know this is a little old, but I just saw it. And it is just as true now as it was a couple of weeks ago.)


The Day Democracy Died

This is actually pretty good. I love the animations.

The bigger catastrophe?

Ahead of today’s primary election in New Hampshire, UMass Lowell polled Democratic voters in NH and asked them the following question:

Which of the following outcomes would you prefer occur on November 3, 2020?
– Donald Trump wins re-election
– A giant meteor strikes the earth, extinguishing all human life

You can see the question on page 11 of the poll results, which were that 62% would prefer a meteor extinguishing all human life, compared to 38% for a Trump victory.

Apparently, women are more angry at Trump, voting 68% for the meteor, versus men who are 53% for the meteor.

Likewise, voters who consider themselves moderates were more likely to vote for the meteor (69%) compared to either liberals (59%) or conservatives (28%).


SNL on Acquittal

This is one of the funniest Weekend Updates I’ve seen for a while.


The Cult of Trump

I reminded folks that I’m a conservative, but I said conservative policies aren’t good enough. Decency, honesty and compassion matter, too. But they wanted nothing to do with it. There was more booing, more yelling, and I caught a middle finger or two. I’m a big boy, and I can take a tough crowd, but leaving the caucus that night, I realized once and for all that nobody can beat Trump in a Republican primary. Not just because it’s become his party, but because it has become a cult, and he’s a cult leader. He doesn’t have supporters; he has followers. And in their eyes, he can do no wrong.

They’re being spoon-fed a daily dose of B.S. from “conservative” media. They don’t know what the truth is and—more importantly—they don’t care. There’s nothing that any Republican challenger can do to break them out of this spell. (Thanks, Hannity.)

— Joe Walsh, who ended his primary challenge to Donald Trump for the Republican nomination yesterday, and apparently gave up on the GOP as well.