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April 15, 2020 06:21 AM UTC

Wednesday Open Thread

  • by: Colorado Pols

“Learn to be indifferent to what makes no difference.”

–Marcus Aurelius


34 thoughts on “Wednesday Open Thread

  1. This makes a difference…

    Trump's Treasury Department gives banks green light to seize individuals' $1,200 stimulus checks

    The Treasury Department's encouragement to big banks slammed as "beyond predatory"

    "The Treasury Department is pointing out opportunities for banks and debt collectors to steal Americans' relief checks out from under them."

    President Donald Trump's Treasury Department has given U.S. banks a green light to seize a portion or all of the one-time $1,200 coronavirus relief payments meant to help Americans cope with financial hardship and instead use the money to pay off individuals' outstanding debts—a move consumer advocates decried as cruel and unacceptable.

    Anyone surprised?

    1. Meanwhile in Wisconsin farm bankruptcies are at an all-time high after first barely enduring the devastating trade war with Jyna, the collapse of the corn and soybean market, and domestic policies that are gutting the iconic Wisconsin family dairy farms to the tune of two-a-day. Only to now have to deal with the bungled response by the Sadministration to the deadly COVID pandemic. 

      So while the Whitest House has been taken back by the grubbing the WI Republicans got last week at the polls….is anyone else surprised that greater-Wisconsin is waking up to the realities of this presidency? 

    2. The checks will be a bit late as well, as Treasury has decreed that the checks cannot go out until Captain Fat Fuck's name is printed on them.

  2. WOTD from Quinta Juresic and Benjamin Wittes at the Atlantic: “The Lazy Authoritarian

    (Hat tip to Mahablog)

    The current crisis brings out Trump’s stark ambivalence toward his own political power. On the one hand, he loves the trappings of dictatorship. He famously envied the way Kim Jong Un’s people ritually revere the North Korean leader, at one point commenting that Kim “speaks, and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.” Likewise, Trump loves declaring that he has the “absolute right” to do things. Shows of authority clearly float his boat.

    But wielding actual authority is hard work for a lazy man. And while crisis response can sometimes have an element of glamour—think of Cuomo’s success in winning over critics with his combination of decisive pandemic response and bomber jackets—the federal government’s role in addressing a plague spread out across 50 states is largely managerial, the life-or-death equivalent of fixing potholes. It involves tasks such as keeping track of supply chains and distributing ventilators and protective equipment.

    This is not the kind of work that Trump enjoys. At a March press conference on the coronavirus, he complained, “Governors are supposed to be doing a lot of this work … The federal government is not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items and then shipping. You know, we’re not a shipping clerk.”

    Even worse, if you wield actual authority, you become accountable for outcomes. The nature of executive power—embedded in the word “executive”—is that it is the power to do things: not to vote or to appropriate money or to deliberate, but to actually do. And if a leader does things, it follows perforce, particularly in an electoral system, that he can be held accountable for the things he did, or didn’t do, or did badly. Trump hates accountability beyond all things. This is the man, after all, who said only a few weeks ago of the federal government’s catastrophic response to the coronavirus, “I don’t take responsibility at all.”

    A warning:

    In the view of [Carl] Schmitt—notorious in political-theory and legal circles for his membership in the Nazi Party—any liberal constitutional structure will eventually be swallowed by a state of emergency, when law recedes and dictatorship emerges to counter a crisis. For a sovereign willing to seize the opportunity provided by a state of emergency, a pandemic would certainly seem to provide one.

    1. Mahablog’s comment:

      I believe that in Trump’s mind, his daily briefing/reality show is his response to the pandemic. It’s him going through the motions of being in charge, or being what he thinks a leader is supposed to be. He either doesn’t understand there is any more to do, or else he simply can’t bring himself to do it because he might be criticized for it. But neither does he let underlings take initiative; they seem to be frozen in fear of pissing him off. So instead of leadership we have a black hole of emotional neediness sucking all effectiveness out of the executive branch.

      It’s telling also that oversight enrages him, either because he’s never in his life had any or because his father, the only boss he’s ever had, was a hardass. And, of course, it’s hard to get away with grift when people are watching. It’s all about the show; nobody is to look behind the curtain.

      So Trump will continue to flop around and put on The President Show, and he will do nothing useful, and the states must somehow get through the crisis without federal coordination.

  3. Saw this yesterday on a Yahoo News! thread (when I'm tired of working; and I have a ton of projects; I visit Yahoo for some laughs). I was impressed and wrote it down.

    "Trump is a cranky, old, snake bit, con man from New York City. He rode in on the perfect economy, falling budget deficits, rising employment, and a great outlook. And whammo, the wheels came off the bus. This is Trump's MO. He's been snake bit for decades with terrible business deals, even worse marriage decisions, and a trail of pathological lies and lawsuits that will send him to his grave broke, alone, and reviled."

  4. Interesting read of the morning: 538 What if the Nominee Can No Longer Run for Office?

    This is quite possible as Covid-19 often leaves patients in a very weakened state if they recover and this is more often the case with men over 70. Given the demographics of congress I would be surprised if someone in government does not die or have to resign before this is over. Though at least with congress we generally have a clearer set of rules of how to deal with vacancies due to death or incapacity after nomination but before election.


    How about this for a farce?


    Today in the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that there are approximately 3.2 Million “Orphaned or Abandoned” Oil & Gas Wells and that number is growing each and every day!

    Unfortunately, these Oil & Gas Wells are simply not going to plug, abandon and restore the surface themselves.  The time to take a proactive position and “own” this story on behalf of Montana’s Oil & Gas Industry, the Environment and our Communities is Right Here, Right Now!


    In case the reader hasn’t quite figured out what is going on here…

    Well Done Montana is an LLC that arranges for the public to adopt and clean up old wells that have been abandoned. In every case, an oil company deserted their responsibility, walked away with their profits, and left the mess for someone else to clean up.

    Well Done Montana is owned and operated by an oil company. They want you and me to pay for cleaning up after them. I don’t know if there is a similar con job going on here, but since there are 20,000 abandoned wells in Colorado, there probably is. C’mon, citizens! Let’s pitch in and clean up the multi-million dollar mess left by our beloved Oily Boyz.

  6. Yesterday’s report said Colorado had COVID-19 cases in 56 of 64 counties. Exceptions: 

    county ….. Pop July 2018
    Bent County ……….5,821
    Cheyenne County ..1,861
    Conejos County …..8,138
    Dolores County ……2,054
    Jackson County …..1,392
    Kiowa County ……..1,373
    San Juan County …….760
    Sedgwick County ….2,276

    Total population of the outlying 8 counties… 23,675. 

    Anyone know of a source of how many tests have been given that goes down to the county level?  I’m wondering if those 8 simply don’t have tests being given.

  7. Anyone know when a therapeutic drug will be available that reduces the effects of contracting COVID-19?  I understand that it could be available much faster than a vaccine.  For example, a tuberculosis shot may activate our immune system to mitigate the COVID effects, and that it would be available very soon.  Something like that could allow us to get infected without dying.  Anyone know the status of a therapeutic drug??

    1. My understanding is that a drug to reduce Covid-19 is wishful thinking. In normal times it takes 12 years to find a drug to treat a disease.

      Even cutting out all the normal safety guidelines and cost saving measures getting a drug that will treat the disease would be incredibly lucky. All the “promising treatment” news stories are the usual bad science reporting. Taking highly preliminary results and hyping them like computer game vaporware.

      1. These are some of the things I was referencing:

        The last one is from the World Health Organization that seems to say the TB vaccine does not "protect people against infection".  But, it does not say whether it minimizes the effects of COVID if you do get infected.

        As you say, there is no hope for a vaccine (or testing, or contact tracing, etc.) in any reasonable time that would allow us to end this madness.  But, anything that reduces the effects would be significant.

        1. That WHO update is really measured in what it says.

          “There is experimental evidence from both animal and human studies that the BCG vaccine has non-specific effects on the immune system. These effects have not been well characterized and their clinical relevance is unknown.”

      2. One thing gives me some hope in that direction, DenE. 

        Artificial Intelligence may be helpful here. The ability of creatures like Watson from IBM and the google ai entities are getting pretty fast. Watson has made huge strides in our understanding of oncology. As I understand it, much of the recent progress in genetic cancer therapies has been with Watsons' help.

        I'm sure there are experts hereabouts who can add more pertinent information, but I admit to having at least as much confidence in our non-human partners as I do in my human brethren.

        1. We could get lucky. It is entirely possible. But it would be like betting on Lorena Garcia to beat Hickenlooper for the Democratic nomination for Senate. It might be as likely as Romanoff winning, but no more than that.

          And unlike with an election there is no timeline. This is also a question of when results might come in.

    1. He’s waiting for his next talking point, before he can spew his next vapid screed.  Maybe he’s upset because Pols did a post insulting State Attorney General George Brauchler.

      All that said, apologize to the Pigeon. Pigeons deserve better than to be compared to morons like Nutlid.

  8. I freely admit I am not the norm.

    I like rats. I admire them; rats are cool.

    The first time I heard someone call a pigeon a flying rat I was thinking that is effing awesome!
    Sadly it's not true – but still.

    BTW  – we do we have sea gulls in Colorado?
    Talk about your flying shitfactories.

    1. True. What your average citizen sees as a pigeon is really a Rock Dove. Actually, a beautiful bird.
      I know we have pelicans and I am pretty sure I have seen seagulls once or twice over here on the ws.

    2. I've never understood why we have gulls in a landlocked state like Colorado, but they were thick as hops at my high school out in Aurora and it was still largely farm country then.

  9. This from Chase Woodruff at Westword:


    With More Cutbacks Announced, Colorado’s Oil Industry Is in Free Fall


    The most severe budgetary effects will be felt in Weld County, home to over 90 percent of the state's oil production, where the county and local school districts receive hundreds of millions of dollars annually from property taxes assessed on oil and gas assets. The total assessed value of the county's oil and gas property crashed by nearly 50 percent year-over-year amid the Great Recession a decade ago, according to state tax data, and local officials are bracing for an impact that could be even worse this time around.

    The crash could also raise environmental and safety concerns as companies slash costs, wells are shut in or change hands and smaller operators potentially go under, leaving drilling sites or other facilities abandoned. Fears over an increase in "orphaned wells" as bankruptcies mount could add urgency to a push by anti-fracking activists to increase bonding requirements — essentially, security deposits made by operators to cover cleanup or abandonment costs — through a planned ballot initiative later this year.


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