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(Permanent Musical Accompaniment To The Last Post Of The Week From The Blog’s Favourite Living Canadian)
The White House Task Force on the coronavirus pandemic re-emerged from its hyperbaric chamber and met the press again on Friday morning. If you watched the whole thing, you might have noticed that none of them were adhering to CDC guidelines, including wearing masks, and that HHS Secretary Alex Azar tried a little of the old okey-doke involving the Ebola outbreak in the Congo, and that Dr. Anthony Fauci now sounds like a man who has been hauling a barge through the Erie Canal. But all you really needed to see was the last question and the last answer.
Paula Reid of CBS asked this question of the Poser-in-Chief regarding the superspreader events in which his re-election campaign is now engaged.
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You could see Pence visibly reach the absolute frontier limits of his intellect in trying to craft an answer that was not admitting that Reid was absolutely right, and that also would keep Pence from offending the angry toddler for whom he works. What emerged from that frontier was a rhetorical critter unfamiliar to most political taxonomists. Neither fish nor fowl, nor really English, either.
I want to remind you again freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assemble is in the Constitution of the U.S. Even in a health crisis, the American people don’t forfeit our constitutional rights and working with state officials as we did in Oklahoma and as we did in Arizona, we are creating settings where people can choose to participate in the political process. We will continue to do that. I think it is really important that we recognize how important freedom and personal responsibility are to this entire equation but allowing younger Americans to understand, particularly in the counties most impacted by the challenges we are facing. Their age group, we think is important but it is so important that we recognize that as we issue guidance to reopen America two months ago and has all 50 states are opening up our country again, people are going back to work, everyday life is being restored one step, one day at a time.
Note how quickly Pence, dancing as fast as he can, runs through his stock of conservative Republican cliches. He apparently is unaware that one can speak, laugh, cheer, chant “Lock her up!” and “Build the wall!” and “USA!”, and otherwise exercise one’s First Amendment rights through a mask. You can talk through a mask. (Ask Batman.) Also, you can peaceably assemble while standing six feet apart. You can model behavior for your fellow citizens. You at least can say the word, “mask.” Pence asked us repeatedly to pray, but refused to ask us to wear masks when we do. God will not understand this at all.
The House passage of a bill making the District of Columbia a state is a fine statement and that’s all it is. The Senate won’t even take it up and it would lose there if they did. It rocks the comfort zone of far too many people. Allowing it would put into stark relief the institutional failure of the Senate as a vehicle for self-government. Particularly piquant are the Republican complaints that this is merely a vehicle for two cold-lock Democratic seats. Leave aside the fact that a Republican desire for more Senate seats is the reason we have two Dakotas. By making this argument, the Republicans admit that they have no intention of doing anything for African-American citizens now or in the future. It’s just…too…hard. All of this, of course, makes DC statehood a very good idea.
Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: “I’m Goin’ In The Valley” (Silas Hogan): Yeah, I pretty much still love New Orleans.
Weekly Visit To The Pathe Archives: Here are some young British women playing baseball in 1930. Looks like they’re pretty good, despite the weird headgear and the severe lack of basepaths. History is so cool.
Holy hell. This is amazing. From The New York Times:
American intelligence officials have concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops — amid the peace talks to end the long-running war there, according to officials briefed on the matter. The United States concluded months ago that the Russian unit, which has been linked to assassination attempts and other covert operations in Europe intended to destabilize the West or take revenge on turncoats, had covertly offered rewards for successful attacks last year. Islamist militants, or armed criminal elements closely associated with them, are believed to have collected some bounty money, the officials said. Twenty Americans were killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2019, but it was not clear which killings were under suspicion.
Pretty clearly, somebody in the intelligence community wants the administration* to get off the dime here and is using the NYT to raise the heat.
Any involvement with the Taliban that resulted in the deaths of American troops would also be a huge escalation of Russia’s so-called hybrid war against the United States, a strategy of destabilizing adversaries through a combination of such tactics as cyberattacks, the spread of fake news and covert and deniable military operations.
The dime remains under the presidential* keister.
Is it a good day for dinosaur news, New York Times? It’s always a good day for dinosaur news!
A new study published Wednesday in Nature, showcasing baby dinosaur remains from Mongolia and Argentina, offers a reason: The very first dinosaurs laid soft eggs like turtles do today, and their eggs decomposed long before they could ever turn into fossils.In a second study also published in Nature, paleontologists announced the first known fossil egg found in Antarctica. The egg, also soft-shelled, looks like a deflated football. It’s bigger than any dinosaur egg ever found, and the team that unearthed it thinks it might be the egg of a mosasaur. These rocket-size marine reptiles patrolled the ancient oceans during the dinosaur era and, until now, were thought to give birth to live young, not lay eggs.
Both studies scramble scientific understanding of ancient reptile reproduction. The dinosaur find explains a gap in the fossil record. But it also reveals how natural forces most likely guided the evolution of dinosaur reproduction over time, ultimately leading dinosaurs to evolve a completely different kind of egg-laying ability. At the same time, the Antarctic egg find expands the known size limits that life can reach at birth, inviting questions about how big living things can truly grow.
The phrase “rocket-size marine reptiles” was enough for me. I’ll read any story about rocket-size marine reptiles—even if the story is about the stock market, because rocket-sized marine reptiles lived then to make us happy now.
I’ll be back on Monday, socially distant though I am. Be well and play nice, ya bastids. Stay above the snake-line, and wear the damn mask.
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