Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing everyone a blessed feast in what for so many has been an extraordinarily difficult year.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

New York mass wedding organized in secret

A Hasidic synagogue in Brooklyn planned the wedding of a chief rabbi’s grandson with such secrecy it was able to host thousands of maskless celebrants without the city catching on.

Despite a surge in COVID-19 cases, guests crammed shoulder-to-shoulder inside the Yetev Lev temple in Williamsburg for the Nov. 8 nuptials — stomping, dancing and singing at the top of their lungs without a mask in sight, videos obtained by The Post show.

Organizers schemed to hide the wedding of Yoel Teitelbaum, grandson of Satmar Grand Rabbi Aaron Teitelman, from “the ravenous press and government officials,” says a detailed account in the Yiddish newspaper Der Blatt, the publication of the Satmar sect.

Read the rest here.

The arrogant and callous disregard for the public safety on display here is simply breathtaking. It is clear that these people believe they are somehow special and above the law, and free to endanger their neighbors and fellow citizens at will. If I were a New Yorker I would be furious. This is not a minor infraction of indoor accommodation limits or failure to space adequately between tables in a restaurant. Criminal charges should be filed. And if somebody dies as a result of being infected via this event, those charges should include negligent manslaughter.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Patriarch Irinej is seriously ill

Word from the Serbian Orthodox Church that H.H. Patriarch Irinej's condition has deteriorated as a consequence of Covid 19. Details.

Reversing years of cuts, Britain announces sharp increase in defense spending

The U.K. government announced its biggest increase in defense spending since the Cold War in a bid to secure its position as the U.S.’s main military ally in Europe after Brexit.

The U.K. will spend an additional 24.1 billion pounds, equivalent to $32 billion, over the next four years compared with last year’s budget. That is £16.5 billion more than the government had already pledged, securing the U.K.’s rank as the second-highest spender on defense in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization behind the U.S.

“I have done this in the teeth of the pandemic amid every other demand on our resources because the defense of the realm and the safety of the British people must come first,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Parliament on Thursday.

The U.K. shouldn’t be “content to curl up on our island and leave the task to our friends,” he said.

“Britain must be true to our history, to stand alongside our allies,” he said. “To achieve this, we need to upgrade our capabilities across the board.”

Read the rest here.

Worries are rising over COVID deniers and anti-vaxxers

Story here.

This could be a problem, but I think it's manageable. There are some people who subscribe to pseudoscientific beliefs and or conspiracy theories regarding vaccines and others who simply deny that Covid exists at all or if they concede its existence, they claim it is being overblown and that the reports of mass infections and deaths are false. Happily those subscribing to these delusional views are not huge in numbers. But there are enough that in some situations they could pose a serious health risk if you get a bunch of unvaccinated people in large groups.

On the one hand I dislike direct coercion in matters of conscience. So I would be opposed to laws mandating vaccination under pain of fine or jail. But on the other hand it is a well established principle of law that society does have the right to impose reasonable regulations to protect the public health. So my response would be to take steps to limit the ability of vaccine resisters to pose such a threat.

* Require all persons booking commercial airplane flights anywhere in the US, or overseas if bound for the US, to affirm under penalty of perjury that all those booking have been vaccinated. No vaccination... no plane trip.

* Ditto interstate bus and train tickets and all cruise ships/ocean liners.

* Require affirmation of vaccination as a condition for applying for or renewing a US passport.

* Hotels should be encouraged to require registering guests to affirm that they have been vaccinated.

* States should require students registering for schools and university to provide evidence of vaccination.

None of these measures are unreasonable as a public health response to a dangerous pandemic. People will still be able to refuse vaccination, but there will be consequences that for many will be inconvenient. They could still travel by private vehicle and children could be home schooled. Obviously, any such regulations should not be imposed until a vaccine has been available to the general public for a sufficient amount of time that anyone wanting one will have had the opportunity to get the jab.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The Most Corrupt President in the History of the United States Strikes Again

President Donald Trump on Tuesday fired the director of the federal agency that vouched for the reliability of the 2020 election.

Trump fired Christopher Krebs in a tweet, saying his recent statement defending the security of the election was “highly inaccurate.”

Read the rest here.

It is time to state something very plainly. Donald Trump is a liar. By which I mean he is a congenital liar. Some with more qualifications might call him a pathological liar. If Harry Truman were still alive, he'd just call Trump a lying son of a bitch. I'm comfortable with any of those characterizations. 

But however you choose to frame it, any claim of fact that might emanate from Donald Trump's mouth or Twitter feed should be treated as a presumptive lie until verified by an independent reliable source. That includes the correct time of day and the weather. Speaking of which, he has actually lied about the weather. He lies with an ease and frequency that most people would associate with breathing.

Never, in the 54 years of my life, did I expect to have to write such things about a sitting President of the United States. God save us.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Armenians torch their homes on land ceded to Azerbaijan

 KALBAJAR, Azerbaijan (AP) — In a bitter farewell to his home of 21 years, Garo Dadevusyan wrenched off its metal roof and prepared to set the stone house on fire. Thick smoke poured from houses that his neighbors had already torched before fleeing this ethnic Armenian village about to come under Azerbaijani control.

The village is to be turned over to Azerbaijan on Sunday as part of territorial concessions in an agreement to end six weeks of intense fighting with Armenian forces. The move gripped its 600 people with fear and anger so deep that they destroyed the homes they once loved.

The settlement — called Karvachar in Armenian — is legally part of Azerbaijan, but it has been under the control of ethnic Armenians since the 1994 end of a war over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. That war left not only Nagorno-Karabakh itself but substantial surrounding territory in Armenian hands.

After years in which sporadic clashes broke out between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces, full-scale fighting began in late September this year. Azerbaijan made relentless military advances, culminating in the seizure of the city of Shusha, a strategically key city and one of strong emotional significance as a longtime center of Azeri culture.

Two days after Azerbaijan announced it had taken Shusha, Armenia and Azerbaijan signed a Russia-brokered cease-fire under which territory that Armenia occupies outside the formal borders of Nagorno-Karabakh will be gradually ceded.

Read the rest here.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Minneapolis violence surges as cops quit in droves

A longish article worth the read. There are real world consequences when you use the people of your city as guinea pigs in left wing sociological experiments.

Read it here. (If you don't have a subscription you may need to open the page in an anonymous browser.)

Thursday, November 12, 2020

It's Over

WASHINGTON — Hours after President Trump repeated a baseless report that a voting machine system “deleted 2.7 million Trump votes nationwide,” he was directly contradicted by a group of federal, state and local election officials, who issued a statement on Thursday declaring flatly that the election “was the most secure in American history” and that “there is no evidence” any voting systems were compromised.

The rebuke, in a statement by a coordinating council overseeing the voting systems used around the country, never mentioned Mr. Trump by name. But it amounted to a remarkable corrective to a wave of disinformation that Mr. Trump has been pushing across his Twitter feed.

The statement was distributed by the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which is responsible for helping states secure the voting process. Coming directly from one of Mr. Trump’s own cabinet agencies, it further isolated the president in his false claims that widespread fraud cost him the election.

Read the rest here

Donald Trump, being Donald Trump, is unlikely to ever admit that he lost the election. But he did. The lying and the crying will continue. But the farcical claims of a stolen election have been indulged for long enough.

It is somewhat ironic that a few posts below this, I had thrown out a few presidential trivia questions, one of which was to name the handful of presidents who did not attend the inauguration of their successor. I am guessing that the answer to that will need to be expanded in the near future.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Monday, November 09, 2020

Quote of the day...

 "A lawsuit claiming statutory or constitutional violations without evidence, is just a tweet with a filing fee." -Original author unknown, but currently enjoying widespread circulation

Mr. Trump and his supporters are certainly entitled to ask questions and challenge any possible irregularities in the election. However, to date no credible evidence supporting these allegations has been produced and Mr. Trump is batting zero in the courts. Further, the right to ask pointed questions and insist on a close look at the results does not extend to making incendiary claims aimed at undermining public confidence in the integrity of a national election, merely to assuage the wounded ego of a narcissist, who for months has made it abundantly clear that he would never accept any election results that did not name him as the winner.

It is difficult not to conclude that Mr. Trump is determined to go out the way he came in, with no class. 

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

The Blue Ripple; some thoughts on the election

 So much for the blue wave.

* The election has not yet been called but realistically Biden has won. Based on his behavior, President Trump seems to realize this as well. As of the moment Biden needs only one more state to put him over the top.

* But... his victory is going to be a very narrow one.

* The Democrats had hoped to substantially pad their majority in the House. Instead it looks like they will actually lose seats, albeit only a few.

* Democrats had hoped to take control of the Senate. As of right now they are going to pick up just one. There are still a few opportunities for some pick ups, but realistically the majority is no longer within reach. 

* Once again, most of the 'reputable' polls blew it. The vast majority were well off the mark. In many cases their performance was worse than in 2016. Trump's supporters who have been shaking their heads at the polls for the last six months have by and large been vindicated. Yeah, Biden is probably going to win. But by a popular vote margin of around 2%. That's a long ways from the 8-9% that was averaged out from the major polls on election eve. And some of the polls weren't just off; they were not even in the same plane of reality. To cite just two; there was the Washington Post/ABC News poll from Oct 28 that put Biden ahead by 17% in Wisconsin. And then there was the election eve poll of the same state from the NY Times that put Biden up by a more reasonable 11%. Holy crap! The final result has Biden carrying the state by just a tick over .5%. (Note the decimal point.) The major polling entities and news orgs have some serious egg on their face today, especially after their failures in 2016 and the repeated assurances that they had learned from the experience and made adjustments. Tonight there are more than a few Trumpists and conspiracy theorists who are suggesting that the polling errors were deliberate. I'm not buying it. But I don't blame people for wondering when you look at the error margin. These were by and large not near misses. They were epic failures. The lonely exception was Rasmussen which consistently defied all the major news orgs and more reputable pollsters by publishing data showing a very close election, with Biden holding a super thin majority nationally and most of the battleground states being basically a coin toss that would be decided by turnout in what they predicted would be a long election night. As for the others; they need to take this seriously and offer some sort of public explanation. Because right now their reputation, already poor among right leaning voters, is, or should be, in serious question among people of every political persuasion. 

In conclusion, the firm rejection of Donald Trump and what he stands for has not materialized. He has probably lost the election, but by a margin that can hardly be called a national repudiation. The GOP is unlikely to see any reason to distance itself from him. In fact, and assuming his health permits it, I would not be at all surprised if Trump attempted a Clevelandesque comeback in four years.