Tuesday, March 31, 2020

It's Official

No recreational boating: Department of Natural Resources Issues Guidance on Governor Hogan’s Stay at Home Order
Governor Larry Hogan has issued an executive order on March 30, 2020, which institutes a Stay at Home directive and says that no Maryland resident should be leaving their home unless it is for an essential job or reason, such as obtaining food or medicine, seeking urgent medical attention, or for other necessary purposes.

While the order does allow for outdoor exercise recreation, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is reaffirming the need for members of the public who engage in outdoor recreation to follow all rules and guidelines in place to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Governor Hogan has stressed that safely practiced outdoor recreation time is essential to health and well-being. Most Maryland state parks and other public lands remain open, and residents may engage in safe, isolated activities.

Under the executive order, no Marylander should leave their home except for an essential reason. Therefore, recreational boating is not allowed. Subsistence hunting and fishing — limited hunting and limited recreational fishing and crabbing for sustenance — can continue, however social distancing must be adhered to strictly. No permits for fishing tournaments, including virtual tournaments, will be issued by the department until further notice. Commercial fishing is deemed essential and may continue since it is part of the food supply chain.

Anyone engaging in outdoor activity needs to follow social distancing and other CDC guidelines and state regulations. The department website includes a guide to social distancing and safe outdoor activity.
Some key guidelines include:

  • Only individuals, immediate family members, and people who reside together should engage in outdoor activities — these groups should be limited to 10 people or fewer, and distance of at least six feet from others should be maintained.
  • Extra soap or hand sanitizer should be packed for any activity.
  • Anyone who is sick or has been sick the past two weeks should stay home.

The department has been proactive in protecting public and employee health since Governor Hogan first declared a state of emergency on March 5, 2020. DNR has closed its offices and licensing centers and canceled public meetings and special events. State beaches, campgrounds, pavilions, playgrounds, and other facilities have been closed to prevent potential spread of the virus.

In recent weeks, department staff has reported that the vast majority of state park visitors are enjoying passive, solitary activities and complying with the governor’s orders on social distancing and avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people.

Maryland Natural Resources Police, an essential first responder force, and Maryland State Parks staff will continue to patrol these sites and other locations to enforce the orders, disperse crowds and protect the public.
I don't think this makes sense.

Staycation, Day 1 at the Beach

Low 50's, a bit breezy but not bad, and glowering clouds that threatened rain, but haven't delivered any so far. The tide was not good and we didn't get as far up as we often do. We did find a few good teeth, though.
Top is a Cow Shark upper tooth that Georgia found, and the experts have already identified the tooth I found on the lower left as a seal tooth and the right is, of course, a complete ray plate chevron.
 A closer look that the seal tooth.
And the Cow Shark tooth. My beach pictures didn't come out.

I Hate It, But . . .

It seems like I'll have to switch to WuFlu for my morning post. Obviously, I can't pretend to be canonical, as I have tried to be with Russiagate, and I have to pick and choose:

Alhouse: I returned to Joe Biden's website to see if the mystery of the "Daniel outbreak" had been solved.
Yesterday — here — we were talking about Joe Biden's new podcast, which I did not listen to but read in transcript form. The transcript was awful, but since I hadn't listened to the podcast, I didn't know how much of the awfulness was bad transcription, and it amazed me that the candidate's website didn't have an editor to make the text as coherent as possible. It could have been vastly improved simply with punctuation, but some things were just weird, possibly misheard.

If you go to that link to yesterday's post, you'll see that we talked about the line "we’ve grappled three crises from Daniel outbreak to the Iran nuclear deal to the auto industry rescue." What's "Daniel outbreak"? Many ideas were bandied about. Was Daniel a hurricane? Can you "grapple" (grapple with?) a hurricane? Was "Daniel" a mishearing of "ebola"?!

I went back to the website to see if they'd edited the transcript. And the transcript is gone! It was embarrassing. But they could have employed an editor... unless the raw audio itself is embarrassing. I know I didn't listen. Who will listen to a podcast of Biden talking? I don't see how Biden can win any new votes with this podcast.

At least with a transcript, we can search for interesting things to pass on in social media, but Biden's people have got to worry that his antagonists will look for the worst thing he said and use it to stir up contempt for their man. You know, like the mainstream media do to Trump every damned day.
There's no sport in making fun of a senile old man. But that brings us to this bit of The Five, via Ace's Presser Reactions: Trump v. Acosta, Gutfeld v. Williams, and All of the Leftwing Media Versus Mike Lindell from MyPillow.com. I missed the start of this with my afternoon nap:
.Lots more at Aces. Also, from Ace, Woman Who Gave Deadly Dose of Fish Tank Cleaner to Husband -- and Then Blamed it on Trump -- Is Prolific Donor to Democrats and Liberal "Pro-Science" Causes
It all just worked out so that you'd have an attack line on the Bad Orange Man, huh?
The Arizona woman who said that she and her 68-year-old husband ingested a substance used to clean fish tanks after hearing President Donald Trump tout chloroquine as a cure for the coronavirus has given thousands of dollars to Democratic groups and candidates over the last two years.

The woman's most recent donations, in late February, were to a Democratic PAC, the 314 Action Fund, that bills itself as the "pro-science resistance" and has vocally criticized the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic and held up her case to slam the White House.
It would be premature and irresponsible to call this a premeditated murder but on the other hand this is definitely a premeditated murder. This woman despised the Bad Orange Man but decided to take his advice and dose her husband? And then go on a Media Tour denouncing OrangeManBad as being a Bad Orange Man?

How much you wanna bet that a little bit of investigation would disclose the couple fought a lot?

I don't buy it. This was murder, with a weird bonus motive of political propaganda.
As Stacy McCain says, crazy people are dangerous,  Court records show the wife who fed her husband fish cleaner (poison?) has a history of mental illness (paranoia, depression) and had considered divorcing her husband as far back as 2012.

Via the Wombat's In The Mailbox: 03.30.20, Legal Insurrection: Flashback – Rachel Maddow Says It’s “Nonsense” That Hospital Ship Will Be In NYC Soon

and according to the Weather Undergound's WuFlu tracker, Calvert County is holding steady at 12 confirmed cases this morning.

WuFlu Sickens Plastic Bag Bans, Virtue Signalers Hurt Worst

Jessica Alba
Paper Or Plastic? Bans On Single-Use Bags Tossed Out Amid Fears Of Virus Spread
Reusable grocery tote bags across Massachusetts are idle these days, stuffed in the backs of vehicles and hanging on door knobs in homes.

That's because last week Gov. Charlie Baker issued a new public health order: "From now on reusable bags are prohibited and all regulations on plastic bag bans will be lifted."

Several New England states have also temporarily banned reusable bags or delayed implementing or enforcing new restrictions on single-use bags.
Olivia Wilde

The goal is to limit the spread of the coronavirus in food stores and pharmacies. But the scientific evidence supporting the prohibition of reusables is far from conclusive.

Over the past two years, 139 Massachusetts municipalities have instituted a variety of restrictions on single-use bags. A move to pass a statewide ban has failed in 10 legislative seasons.

The Massachusetts Food Association, which represents supermarkets and grocers, has supported a uniform statewide ban for environmental reasons but right now, it's pro-paper and plastic.
Emma Roberts

"During an emergency crisis, they're probably safer than reusable bags," says Brian Houghton, the association's senior vice president for policy. "There have been studies we've seen by the CDC and others that there are surfaces that this virus can live on."

But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers no specific recommendations about reusable bags and coronavirus. (Though they do say you should regularly wash reusable bags to prevent the spread of food-borne disease.)
Georgia tries to use reusable bags (peer pressure is a powerful thing), but the last time she went to the grocery store, she came back with the back of the car full of the old one use plastic bags. It seems the local store won't allow reusable bags in the era of WuFlu.

The Wombat has Rule Five Monday: Honor Blackman, RIP up on time at The Other McCain.

Monday, March 30, 2020

The Kennedy Center Kickback

Having sucked off the federal teat for a good portion of my professional life, I'm fairly forgiving of people taking advantage of government largess, but this pisses me off:
More at the WaFreeBee, Kennedy Center Tells Musicians It Will Stop Paying Them Hours After $25 Million Bailout Is Signed
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts informed members of the National Symphony Orchestra that they would no longer be paid just hours after President Trump signed a $25 million taxpayer bailout for the cultural center, according to an email obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Nearly 100 musicians will no longer receive paychecks after April 3, according to an email from the orchestra's Covid-19 Advisory Committee.

"The Covid-19 Advisory Committee was broadsided today during our conversation with [Kennedy Center President] Deborah Rutter," the email says. "Ms. Rutter abruptly informed us today that the last paycheck for all musicians and librarians will be April 3 and that we will not be paid again until the Center reopens."

The email went out to members on Friday evening, shortly after President Trump signed the $2 trillion CARES Act, a stimulus package intended to provide relief to people left unemployed by the coronavirus pandemic. Congress included $25 million in taxpayer funding for the Kennedy Center, a provision that raised eyebrows from both Democrats and Republicans, but ultimately won support from President Trump. The bailout was designed to "cover operating expenses required to ensure the continuity of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and its affiliates, including for employee compensation and benefits, grants, contracts, payments for rent or utilities, fees for artists or performers," according to the law's text. The arts organization decided that the relief did not extend to members of the National Symphony Orchestra, its house orchestra.

"Everyone should proceed as if their last paycheck will be April 3," the email says. "We understand this will come [as a] shock to all of you, as it did to us."

The Kennedy Center did not return request for comment.
Five million would pay a lot of musicians salaries.

The musicians will probably be able to claim unemployment, as well as receive the same CARES payments as every other citizen, (unless they're not citizens; a distinct possibility), but still, the money is being given to help the business to help retain their employees.

In truth, the Kennedy Center did not give 5 million to the DNC after the stimulus bill passed, but they have a long history of donating almost exclusively to Democrats. 

If the Trumps (and other political dynasties) are allegedly forbidden to have their businesses collect stimulus money, businesses that take stimulus money should be forbidden to give money to political parties.

A Day at the Beach

As I read Gov. Hogan's "shelter in place" order, it appears one can walk for exercise, and for the health of pets, so I think we OK. It's a gorgeous day today, bright and sunny in the mid 70s. It would be a shame to lose it.

Ironically, it's being reported, at least on Facebook, that "nonessential", i.e. recreational boating is forbidden under the new "shelter in place" order (I fail to see it, myself). I can't imagine anywhere you're less likely to contract the virus.

Hogan Issues "Stay at Home" Orders

New from the state: 

b. As used herein, “Essential Activities” means: -

3 - i. Obtaining necessary supplies or services for one’s self, family, household members, pets, or livestock, including, without limitation: groceries, supplies for household consumption or use, supplies and equipment needed to work from home, laundry, and products needed to maintain safety, sanitation, and essential maintenance of the home or residence;

ii. Engaging in activities essential for the health and safety of one’s self, family, household members, pets, or livestock, including such things as seeking medical or behavior health or emergency services, and obtaining medication or medical supplies;

iii. Caring for a family member, friend, pet, or livestock in another household or location, including, without limitation, transporting a family member, friend, pet, or livestock animal for essential health and safety activities, and to obtain necessary supplies and services;

iv. Traveling to and from an educational institution for purposes of receiving meals or instructional materials for distance learning;

v. Engaging in outdoor exercise activities, such as walking, hiking, running, or biking, but only in compliance with paragraph III below and applicable social distancing guidance published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) and the Maryland Department of Health (“MDH”);
Time to go for walk.

In Spite of Ourselves

Someone I care about: Singer-songwriter John Prine critically ill with Covid-19
Musician John Prine is in a critical condition in hospital after a "sudden onset" of coronavirus symptoms, his family says.

Prine, 73, was hospitalized on Thursday and intubated Saturday night and continues to receive care but "his situation is critical," according to a family statement posted on his verified Twitter account.

"This is hard news for us to share. But so many of you have loved and supported John over the years, we wanted to let you know, and give you the chance to send on more of that love and support now. And know that we love you, and John loves you," the statement said.

I know, I posted this video at least once before. It still holds up.

I Got Nothing

No Russigate anywhere in sight, and I don't want to dive into WuFlu. But if you do, here are some places that have aggregated  news:

From Ace's, J.J. SEfton has The Morning Report - 3/30/20

From Doug Ross, Larwyn’s Linx: The origins of the coronavirus: an interview with Sen. Tom Cotton

Also, you might be interested in Trump Was RIGHT: Chloroquine Works Against Coronavirus, Doctor Says and FDA Approves ‘Game Changer’ Drug, from The Other McCain.  Skepticism is still warranted, but there's hope.

Watching Chuck Todd try to play Gotcha with Dr. Birx, from Sundance at CTH: Dr. Deborah Birx -vs- Chuck Todd. She's a lot smarter than he is.

Via Alhouse,Stay safe, everybody!

Gritty Monday

It's going to be a rough week for our country, and the world.

Linked at Pirate's Cove in today's If All You See… The Wombat has Rule Five Monday: Honor Blackman, RIP up on time at The Other McCain.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Forget It Jake, It's Baltimore

Jazz Shaw at Hot keeps track of Baltimore so you don't have to. Baltimore’s Population Drops To Levels Not Seen Since The Great Depression
The 2020 census is underway and one place that’s paying particularly close attention to the process is the city of Baltimore, Maryland. They really need to make sure they count every last denizen of Charm City because they are steadily bleeding off their population (both literally and figuratively) to the point where the problem is too great to ignore. They just finished their initial census estimate and it turns out that the population has dropped below 600,000 for the first time in more than one hundred years. And the fewer people they count, the fewer federal dollars they are eligible for. (CBS Baltimore)
Estimated population figures from the U.S. Census show Baltimore’s count dips below 600,000 residents for the first time in more than a century.
Baltimore Mayor Jack Young said the Baltimore Census Complete Count Committee met virtually Thursday morning to strategize on how to make sure every Baltimore resident is counted.
“I have made boosting Baltimore’s completion rate for the 2020 Census a top priority for my administration. We can’t afford to undercount our population,” the mayor said in a statement.
He noted how federal funding tied to Census numbers help feed vulnerable children and seniors across the city.
This is a continuation of a historic trend. In 1950, Baltimore was America’s sixth-largest city with a population of nearly one million. But it’s been all downhill from there. It’s now the 30th largest city in the country.
. . .
But the biggest reason for the rapid decline is that people are moving away and not coming back. Between July of 2018 and July of 2019, Baltimore lost 7,300 residents. That’s slightly more than one percent of the total population in a single year. And that’s been going on for quite a few years. The reasons all of these people have for leaving could be debated all day long. Put a list of all the normal drivers that attract people to a given area, throw a dart at it, and you’ll hit a category where Baltimore is failing.

Virtually all of the factories are gone, so good jobs are few and far between. The infrastructure is crumbling and the city is littered with vacant lots and more than 16,000 uninhabitable residential properties that are collapsing. The schools consistently fail to meet state and federal guidelines for success. And the police remain completely overwhelmed by a plague of gang violence that drives the aforementioned murder rate skyward and guts the quality of life.

It also doesn’t help that the city government is better known for corruption and theft than for any sort of leadership. Prior to current interim Mayor Jack Young, two of the last three mayors left office on their way to jail. The other retired without seeking a second full term because the city has literally burned to the ground under her watch. All of the self-dealing going on has lined the pockets of elected officials and their friends more than it’s gone to help the residents.
Theodore McKeldin, the last Republican Mayor of Baltimore, left office in 1967. I was in high school.

Late Breaking Russiagate

I was afraid that none would break the WuFly barrier, but from one of my more reliable sources, just a bit. Just the News  reports that New Clinton scandal memos confirm FBI stalled a month to search Weiner's laptop
The FBI waited a month between the time it discovered Hillary Clinton emails on disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner’s laptop and obtaining a search warrant – as Clinton and Donald Trump were entering the closing weeks of their tight 2016 White House race, according to newly obtained records by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch.

The documents are communications between former FBI official Peter Strzok and former FBI attorney Lisa Page, who exchanged emails during the 2016 race that suggested they did not support Trump becoming president.

Weiner, at the time the emails were discovered, was married to top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. The emails were purportedly from when Clinton was Secretary of State. The Justice Department was already investigating Clinton using a private server to send official State Department information.

"These new records show how Hillary Clinton was protected from investigation over the Weiner laptop by the FBI for a full month during the presidential campaign ... No wonder the FBI is slow rolling the release of these documents," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

Judicial Watch obtained the records through a January 2018 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit.

Palm Sunday

Celebrity edition, for some values of celebrity:

Tiona Fernan
Linked at Pirate's Cove in the weekly Sorta Blogless Sunday Patriotic Pinup and links. The Wombat has Rule Five Monday: Honor Blackman, RIP up on time at The Other McCain.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Social Distancing Need Not Be a Waste of Time

From Facebook:

Believe All Women, Except #HerToo

BPR, Explosion of leftist hate aimed at Dr Birx after she demolishes media’s panic narrative
Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, has proven to be a voice of reason in a time of crisis — much to the angst of the hostile, anti-Trump media.

The hair-on-fire media is pushing a panic-inducing worst-case narrative in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak, focusing on predictions of alarming increases in those who contract the Chinese virus while reporting on dwindling hospital supplies and do-not-resuscitate orders allegedly being discussed to free up more beds.

(Reports out of New York claim hospitals are being overrun with patients.)
Yet, Birx stands calmly before the American people at the nightly press briefings and reminds agenda-driven journalists of a little thing called facts, beseeching them to be more responsible in their reporting.
“There is no situation in the United States right now that warrants that kind of discussion,” she implored. “You can be thinking about it in a hospital… but to say to the American people, to make the implication that when they need a hospital bed it’s not going to be there, or when they need that ventilator it’s not going to be there, we don’t have evidence of that right now.”
This, of course, doesn't sit well with the media determined to paint a worst case scenario, with the Trump administration taking the blame.
On schedule,

And more, from people whose only knowledge of medicine came from their high school sex ed classes.

Meanwhile, poor Italy, Stacy McCain: Italy Takes a Turn for the Worse
After five days of apparent improvement, Italy’s coronavirus outbreak worsened Friday, when the country reported more than 900 deaths:
. . .
The previous highest number of daily coronavirus deaths in Italy was 793 last Saturday, and by Monday, they had fallen to 601. However, the daily number of new Wuhan virus cases, which also peaked last Saturday at 6,557, has since remained below that mark. Italy’s caseload is still very high, and increasing, as the number of new cases reported daily greatly exceeds the number of patients reported as recovered from the disease.

Meanwhile, in the United States, 18,691 new cases of Chinese coronavirus were reported Friday, and 401 deaths. Here are the latest state-by-state numbers, according to CNN:
New York ………………….. 44,635 (519 deaths)
New Jersey …………………. 8,825 (108 deaths)
California …………………….. 3,801 (78 deaths)
Washington …………………. 3,723 (175 deaths)
Michigan ……………………… 3,657 (92 deaths)
Massachusetts ……………… 3,240 (35 deaths)
Florida ………………………… 3,192 (45 deaths)
Illinois …………………………. 3,026 (34 deaths)
Louisiana ……………………… 2,746 (119 deaths)
Pennsylvania ……………….. 2,218 (22 deaths)
Georgia ……………………….. 2,198 (65 deaths)
The top 10 states account for 81,261 cases, which is 80% of the total of 101,241 coronavirus cases reported in the United States. Two states, New York and New Jersey, account for more than half the U.S total. The situation in New York is bad and getting worse:
More than a third of the country’s cases are in New York — which has been in a partial lockdown for a week as officials try to slow the spread of the virus and hospitals scramble to keep up with the patients streaming in.
The state’s healthcare system is already overwhelmed. One hospital was forced to create a makeshift morgue and another reported 13 patient deaths in 24 hours. New York and its National Guard are now assembling four 1,000-bed temporary, overflow hospitals in existing buildings.
If you look at the state-by-state numbers, you’ll see that, as a percentage of population, the Wuhan virus has had much less impact in California and Florida, compared to New York, while Texas, with only 1,731 cases, has been particularly fortunate thus far. Dig down a little deeper in the numbers, and you discover that in Florida, for example, their COVID-19 cases have been highly concentrated in three South Florida counties — Dade (869), Broward (631) and (241) — which combined account for nearly 55% (1,741) of the statewide total of cases. These counties have a combined population of about 6 million, which is less than 30% of Florida’s total population of about 21 million. What this suggests is that people living in Florida’s urban centers face substantially higher risk from the virus, and this is probably true nationwide.

Of course, there is no such thing as 100% safety, but during a pandemic of contagious disease, rural life is much safer than city life.
So far, our Calvert County, a relatively rural place by Maryland standards, has 9 confirmed cases in a population of about 90,000.

Linked by EBL in Swing In Place: Tess Mohr: Call Me,  Macbeth: Anna Netrebko 🎭, Les Pêcheurs de Perles: Diana Damrau 🎭, Don Carlo: Marina Poplavskaya 🎭, Free Chanel Rion and OANN 🎙️🇺🇸, Nixon In China 🎭🇨🇳🇺🇸, Swing In Place: Ariana Savalas: Bad Guy, Il Barbiere di Siviglia: Joyce DiDonato 🎭, Dialogues des Carmélites 🎭, Tannhäuser: Eva-Maria Westbroek and Michelle DeYoung 🎭, If you need something to stream check out Tiger King 🐯🤦🏻‍♀️😬🐅, Oklahoma! : Catch Her While You Can 🎭 and Badland: Mira Sorvino.

Cardinal Virtues

I get these letters once in a while; I suppose every blogger does, and I ignore most of them. But this time I'll bite.
Garth here from WorldBirds.org, online publication dedicated to sharing the beauty of birds and nature.

I’m reaching out to you because I read your article here http://fritz-aviewfromthebeach.blogspot.com/2011/03/winters-last-gasp.html and wanted to see if you’d be interested in a small collab.

We recently created a practical guide on how to attract cardinals to your backyard - thought it would make an excellent addition to your piece.
Perhaps you’d be interested in linking to it because it’s a practical resource that helps your readers enjoy nature in their own backyard?

I wouldn’t ask unless I was sure it would add real value to your piece.
I’ll let you be the judge though, check it out here:

What do you think?
So what are his tips for attracting Cardinals?

1. Use Cardinal Specific Feeders . . .

Our Droll Yankees YCPT-360 021964205300 Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder, Yankee Tipper, seems to work, and squirrels try, but don't beat it.

2. Tempt With Right Treats . . .

Sunflower and safflower seeds seem to work.

3. Place Feeder to The Right Location . . .

We must have gotten lucky. We just hung off ours off the back deck.

4. Offer a Water Source (Preferably Moving) . . .

We do have a water bowl nearby, but it's not moving.

5. Keep Your Feeders Full at All Times . . .

We're just lucky we remember to eat.

6. Encourage Ground-Feeding for Variety & Security . . .

The birds knock the seed around onto the deck, and the ground beneath, and the Juncos really seem to like that better than the feeder.

7. Offer Protective Shelter . . .

Plenty of trees nearby, although we did take down a nearby apple that wasn't doing much.

8. Provide Nesting Material . . .

Does Husky underfur count? Because we have gobs of it. We hang up small basket stuffed with it. I've never seen a Cardinal take any, though. Chickadees love it.

9. Prevent Frozen Water . . .

Nothing really fancy, but we break it up if it freezes on top. Hasn't been much of problem this winter though.

10. Remove Reflective Surfaces . . .

Not getting rid of our windows, and big glass door. Sorry.

11. Avoid Predator-Accessible Feeding Areas . . .

The dog keeps most predators out of the yard, although hawks occasionally hang out in the woods nearby.

12. Keep the Feeders Clean . . .

They can do their own damn dishes (but Georgia does clean the feeder once in while).

Russiagate: Ready for Lindsey 3.0

As Americans are preoccupied with staying afloat amid a coronavirus-related shutdown, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has finally begun delivering on an investigation he promised months ago.

The origins of the FBI’s politicized “Spygate” counterintelligence operation against the 2016 Trump campaign.

With uncertainties over how badly the coronavirus shutdown will harm the economy and how long that harm will last taking up most of our time and the oxygen in news cycles, what Graham’s doing is important because the objective is to ensure that what happened to President Trump does not happen again. Ever.

Investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson interviewed Graham this week and asked, among other things, how the probe was going and what his objectives were. She notes:
Amid the coronavirus panic, a quiet investigation has begun on Capitol Hill led by Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham. He’s already begun interviewing unnamed government officials. It involves accountability for the FBI’s improper wiretaps against a government citizen who happened to be affiliated with the Trump campaign.
Sharyl: What can you tell me about the closed door interviews that you’re doing or planning related to the surveillance court and the FBI’s alleged abuses?
Sen. Graham: Well, what I’m trying to do is get to the bottom of how it happens. So we don’t do it again.
Lindsey 1.0 was basically a null program, unable to do much or say much while his close friend John McCain was there to  disagree with. With McCain's death, Lindsey 2.0 was free to talk a good game. But it's time to update the software to something that actually does something worthwhile.

Rule 5 Saturday - A Stranger Thing - Winona Ryder

For some reason or another this week's Rule 5 designee is Winona Ryder
Winona Laura Horowitz (born October 29, 1971), known professionally as Winona Ryder, is an American actress and film producer. She is the recipient of a Golden Globe Award and has been nominated for two Academy Awards, a BAFTA Award, and four Screen Actors Guild Awards.

After Ryder's film debut in Lucas (1986), she gained attention with her performance in Tim Burton's Beetlejuice (1988). She further rose to prominence with major roles in Heathers (1988), Mermaids (1990), Edward Scissorhands (1990) and Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992). She garnered critical acclaim and two consecutive Academy Award nominations for her portrayals of socialite May Welland in Martin Scorsese's The Age of Innocence (1993) and Jo March in the film adaptation of Little Women (1994). Her other films during this period were Reality Bites (1994), How to Make an American Quilt (1995), Alien Resurrection (1997), and Girl, Interrupted (1999), which she also executive produced.

That's quite a string of stranger things.
Winona Laura Horowitz was born in Winona, Minnesota, on October 29, 1971, the daughter of Cynthia Palmer (née Istas) and Michael D. Horowitz. Her mother is an author, video producer and editor, and her father is an author, editor, publisher and antiquarian bookseller. He also worked as an archivist for psychedelic guru Dr. Timothy Leary (who was Ryder's godfather). Her father is Jewish (his family emigrated from Russia and Romania), and Ryder has described herself as Jewish. Most of her family on his side were killed in the Holocaust. Her father's family was originally named "Tomchin" but took the surname "Horowitz" when they immigrated to the United States. Named after the city of Winona, she was given her middle name, Laura, because of her parents' friendship with Laura Huxley, writer Aldous Huxley's wife. Her stage name derives from Mitch Ryder, a soul and rock singer  of whom her father was a fan.  Ryder's father is an atheist and her mother is a Buddhist

I'm sure glad my parents didn't name me after Culver City.
Since 2016, Ryder has starred in the Netflix science fiction-horror series Stranger Things, created by The Duffer Brothers and released to stream online on July 15, 2016.
Some NSFW pics.

Linked at Pirate's Cove in the weekly Sorta Blogless Sunday Patriotic Pinup and links. The Wombat has Rule 5 Sunday: Elle MacPherson and FMJRA 2.0: Back In The Saddle For One Night Only! up at The Other McCain on time and under budget. Linked at The Right Way in the weekly Rule 5 Saturday LinkOrama and at Proof Positive in the weekly  Best of the Web*.

Friday, March 27, 2020

EPA Bay Program Jealous of Attention to WuFlu

Bay Journal,  Coronavirus hinders Bay cleanup efforts, seafood industry
Tree plantings, school field trips, citizen oyster restoration activities and the region’s largest litter cleanup event are all being postponed or altered as environmental groups struggle with the sweeping disruptions.

“We’re in uncharted territory,” said Willy Agee, vice president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, as his group, as well as the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, have been forced to delay environmental field work.
Bay Journal, Chesapeake seafood industry suffers as coronavirus closes restaurants
Watermen say they’ve given up on the final weeks of the oyster season, as restaurant and raw bar closures have deprived them of lucrative markets for their catch.

“It’s very drastic,” said Robert T. Brown Sr., president of the Maryland Watermen’s Association. “I’ve seen things bad, but I’ve never seen them like this before.”

Oyster farmers say they’re idled for the same reason, though some are trying to eke out some direct sales to consumers. Ted Cooney, founder of Madhouse Oysters on Hooper’s Island on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, said sales suddenly stopped at a time when they’re usually selling 100 or more boxes of bivalves every week.

The oyster shutdown extends Baywide, as Maryland and Virginia have both limited food establishments to takeout or delivery.

“With no restaurants, there are no sales,” said Mike Oesterling, executive director of the Virginia Shellfish Growers Association. “The industry is pretty much at a standstill right now.”
I doubt WuFlu will restore the Chesapeake Bay oyster population, but having the market dry up for a while won't hurt.

So Build the Effing Wall Already!

Coronavirus: Mexicans demand crackdown on Americans crossing the border
Mexican protesters have shut a US southern border crossing amid fears that untested American travellers will spread coronavirus.

Residents in Sonora, south of the US state of Arizona, have promised to block traffic into Mexico for a second day after closing a checkpoint for hours on Wednesday.

They wore face masks and held signs telling Americans to "stay at home".

Mexico has fewer than 500 confirmed Covid-19 cases and the US over 65,000.

The border is supposed to be closed to all except "essential" business, but protesters said there has been little enforcement and no testing by authorities.

The blockade was led by members of the group Sonorans for Health and Life, who called for medical testing to be done on anyone who crosses from the US into Mexico.

Jose Luis Hernandez, a group member, told the Arizona Republic: "There are no health screenings by the federal government to deal with this pandemic. That's why we're here in Nogales. We've taken this action to call on the Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to act now."
Meanwhile, back in the USA,  Democrats Discover Border Security – Rhode Island Governor Orders National Guard Checkpoints To Protect Against New Yorkers… (Sundance at CTH)
You know it will never work, they'll crawl in under the bridges, climb walls and fences, dig tunnels to escape de Blasio's shithole.

Sorry, Not Sorry

No Russiagate today! Instead, a reminder of how Nero de Blasio fiddled while Rome New York caught the WuFlu. WaEx, De Blasio haunted by weeks-old tweet urging people to 'get out on the town despite coronavirus'
On March 1, the first case of the coronavirus was announced in New York City. At the time, more than 80,000 people worldwide had confirmed cases of the virus, and President Trump had issued travel warnings against South Korea and Italy. However, de Blasio wasn't as concerned.

"Since I’m encouraging New Yorkers to go on with your lives + get out on the town despite Coronavirus, I thought I would offer some suggestions," de Blasio tweeted on March 2. "Here’s the first: thru Thurs 3/5 go see The Traitor [at Lincoln Center]. If The Wire was a true story + set in Italy, it would be this film."

As of Wednesday morning, New York had more than 25,000 confirmed cases and 210 related deaths from the virus. Many Twitter users condemned de Blasio for his nonchalance at the beginning of the outbreak.

Fish Pic Friday - Yellowtail Snapper

Luiza coordinates colors with her catch
 The fish of the week is the Yellowtail Snapper:
The yellowtail snapper (Ocyurus chrysurus) is an abundant species of snapper native to the western Atlantic Ocean including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Although they have been found as far north as Massachusetts, their normal range is along Florida south to the West Indies and Brazil. This species is mostly found around coral reefs, but may be found in other habitats. They occur at depths of from near the surface to 180 metres (590 ft), though mostly between 10 and 70 m (33 and 230 ft). This species can reach a length of 86.3 cm (34.0 in), though most do not exceed 40 cm (16 in). The greatest weight recorded for this species is 4.1 kg (9.0 lb). It is a commercially important species and has been farmed. It is sought as a game fish by recreational anglers and is a popular species for display in public aquaria. This species is the only known member of its genus.
Darcizzle with a pair

In certain reefs, most notably in the Florida Keys, this beautifully colored fish is commonly spotted among divers and snorkelers. Yellowtails feed on shrimp, crabs, worms, and smaller fish. They spawn in groups off the edges of reefs from spring to fall, but heavily in midsummer.

Yellowtail snapper are typically caught in 30–120 ft of water on and around reefs and other structure. The most common method of catching them is with hook and line, and the use of frozen chum, typically leftover ground fish parts, to attract the fish. The chum is placed into a mesh bag or metal basket in the water, and as the chum slowly melts, small pieces of fish drift out and down towards the bottom, where the yellowtails typically feed. The chum keeps them near the boat for extended periods of time, as well.
Brandi Metts in basic black
Light tackle is the generally accepted means of catching yellowtail snapper. Typically, the fish are relatively wary of higher-test or thicker line, and larger hooks. Most fish caught by anglers range from eight to 14 in, although catches to 16 in are not uncommon. Yellowtail snapper can be caught on a variety of baits, including both live and frozen shrimp, squid, and a variety of live and frozen minnows or smaller baitfish. Yellowtail tend to be wary fish, and the appearance of larger predators, such as dolphins or sharks, can scare off schools until the predator leaves the area.

Most anglers pursue yellowtail snapper during the warmer months, but they can be caught throughout the year. Yellowtail snapper is highly prized for its light, flaky meat and is considered by some to be one of the best of the snapper family.
I think I caught one once in Florida.

Linked at Proof Positive in the weekly Best of the Web* and at The Right Way in Rule 5 Saturday LinkOrama. The Wombat has Rule 5 Sunday: Elle MacPherson up at The Other McCain on time and under budget.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Media Finds Something Scarier than WuFlu

Ace: Andrea Mitchell: The Most Frightening Thing About This Pandemic Is Trump's "Skyrocketing" Approval Ratings
Yes, we understood that this was the only thing that mattered to you.
During her 12:00 p.m. ET hour show on Wednesday, MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell revealed her greatest fear amid the coronavirus pandemic -- Donald Trump's approval ratings going up. She fretted over likely Democratic nominee Joe Biden "having difficulty" getting his message out during the crisis and support for the President "skyrocketing."
Turning to former Obama administration official Jim Messina, Mitchell anxiously noted: "There is politics involved. We’ve heard very little from, for instance, the more likely, most likely nominee of the Democratic Party, Joe Biden. He's having difficulty getting -- projecting through this crisis as the campaign goes totally on hold."
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the MSNBC host referenced positive poll numbers for Trump:
"We're also seeing some polls indicating the President’s approval ratings among Democrats and independents skyrocketing to their highest levels yet. Some 60% approval ratings for the way he’s handling this crisis as he continues to hold these briefings. The briefings are working for the President."
In frustration, she added: "No matter what he says, people seem to be seeing him as a leader, at least more people do."
In the Real Clear Politics aggregate, Trump's approval rating is now the highest of his presidency, pushing past his numbers of the first few days in office, before the media really went to work. . . .
More examples follow.

Remember this the next time they try to pull the "objective" media gas lighting on you again.

Another Day at the Beach

Spring is getting along. The maples have lots of red winged seeds (samaras), and other trees, like the Tulip Poplars, are just starting to get green leaves.
Social distancing is still working out pretty well at the beach. Only a few people aside from us. Sunny and 50 F, with a light wind from the south.

A slow day for fossils. I had 6, but one was this nice White Shark. Too bad a bit of the tip is missing.

Believe All Women, But Not #HerToo

She formerly worked in Biden's Senate office, and says he's retalliated against her since the penetrative sexual assault. (Alleged.)

Penetrative. Not just squeezing and stroking and sniffing up on teenagers this time.
In the interview excerpt, which is posted to Soundcloud, Reade described a graphic 1993 incident where a superior asked her to take a gym bag to Biden "down towards the capital." Then she recalls being called towards the "side area" where Biden greeted her.
"We were alone and it was the strangest thing," she said. "There was no like exchange really. He just had me up against the wall."
Reade went on to say that she was wearing a business skirt with no stockings because it was hot at the time. While up against the wall, Reade says Biden's "hands were on me and underneath my clothes."
"He went down my skirt but then up inside it and he penetrated me with his fingers," Reade emotionally continued.
Reade also said Biden was kissing her and saying multiple things to her. She remembered a couple of the comments.
"I remember him saying first, like as he was doing it, 'Do you want to go somewhere else,'" she said. “And then him saying to me when I pulled away, he got finished doing what he was doing, and I kind of just pulled back and he said, 'Come on man, I heard you liked me"’ And that phrase stayed with me because I kept thinking what I might've said and I cant remember exactly if he said'‘i thought' or 'I heard' but he implied that I had done this."
 Come on, man!
This sounds credible to me. I have a feeling that Fake Jake Tapper won't see it the same way.

You can listen to the interview here.

The organization Times Up routinely funds lawsuits by women who claim sexual harassment or assault by men.

But in this case -- they said, "Goshdarnit, we just can't fund you, Tara!"
The Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund was the recipient of an outpouring of donations over the past two-plus years, and is set up as a 501(c)3 nonprofit housed within the National Women’s Law Center. It was launched in December 2017 and was the most successful GoFundMe in the site’s history, raising more than $24 million. Among the accusers backed so far by Time’s Up are some of those assaulted by Harvey Weinstein, as well scores of others with allegations against executives in male-dominated industries. The group has committed more than $10 million toward funding cases.. . .
H/T Locomotive Breath

When reached for comment by The Intercept, Driscoll referred questions to a NWLC spokesperson, Maria Patrick, who said that the organization has legal constraints. “As a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization, the National Women’s Law Center is restricted in how it can spend its funds, including restrictions that pertain to candidates running for election,” Patrick responded, when asked why the organizing declined to provide funds to Reade. “Our decision on whether or not to provide certain types of support to an individual should not be interpreted as our validation or doubt of the truthfulness of the person’s statements. Regardless, our support of workers who come forward regarding workplace sexual harassment remains unwavering.”

Ruling out federal candidates marks as off-limits any member of Congress running for reelection, as well as President Donald Trump. Ellen Aprill, a professor of tax law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said that Time’s Up’s analysis is too conservative, and the group wouldn’t be putting its tax-exempt status at risk by taking a case involving a candidate for federal office as long as it followed its standard criteria for taking on cases. “As a legal matter, if the group is clear regarding the criteria used as to whom it is taking to court, show that these are long-established neutral criteria, and they are being applied to individuals completely independent of their running for office, it would not be a violation of tax law. Groups are allowed to continue to do what they have always done,” she said.

The public relations firm that works on behalf of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund is SKDKnickerbocker, whose managing director, Anita Dunn, is the top adviser to Biden’s presidential campaign. A spokesperson for Biden declined to comment. The SKDK spokesperson assigned to Time’s Up referred questions back to the NWLC.
How convenient.

The Wombat has Rule 5 Sunday: Elle MacPherson up at The Other McCain on time and under budget.

Russiagate Just Us, For All

A single article from Eric Felten at RCP, Accused in Justice Dept.'s Upper Echelon, and Innocent Until Scot-Free
The Department of Justice OIG does not keep complete public records on the number of prosecutions that result from its investigations. But the office does keep track of certain cases – those involving wrongdoing by senior DoJ managers and officials that Justice declines to prosecute.

In 2019 the Justice Department’s Inspector General’s office issued 27 such reports of alleged wrongdoing by senior Justice Department officials and employees that went unprosecuted – everything from nepotism in hiring, to making false claims on mortgage documents, to “lack of candor” with federal investigators, to sexual assault. RealClearInvestigations reviewed the OIG’s summaries of its investigations and found that in at least a dozen of those cases the inspector general determined that the wrongdoing was serious enough to be criminal. Even so, the Department of Justice declined to bring criminal charges. The sticky-fingered FBI attorney was one of the more strictly treated – she had to agree to 125 hours of community service to avoid prosecution.

The OIG also makes public the outcomes of “cases involving high profile investigations” such as those into former FBI Director James Comey and former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

“By not safeguarding sensitive information obtained during the course of his FBI employment,” the OIG found, “Comey set a dangerous example.” The Inspector General’s office provided its “findings to the Department for a prosecutorial decision.” But, “After reviewing the matter, the Department declined prosecution.”

As for McCabe, the OIG found he repeatedly lacked candor while being questioned under oath. Justice chose not to bring charges against him either.

It’s much harder to find cases of senior officials who are found by the OIG to have committed wrongdoing and are subsequently prosecuted. An example is Barbara Zoccola, who was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Memphis until the OIG caught her falsifying her time and attendance records.

But there are reasons to believe such prosecutions are rare. For example, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia – who would have jurisdiction over misconduct committed in Washington – puts out press releases announcing indictments and convictions. In 2019 there were press releases regarding any number of murders, robberies, and molestations – the all too common crimes of any big city. But Washington being the seat of government, there were announcements of indictments and convictions of government employees, including cases of bribery at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and at Veterans Affairs, as well as espionage at the departments of State and Defense. But none of the 2019 releases involved wrongdoing by senior DOJ officials.

Another advantage DOJ officials apparently enjoy is that those alleged to have committed wrongdoing – even criminal wrongdoing – are rarely named publicly.

This leniency is drawing new scrutiny in the wake of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian collusion, which repeatedly used the full force of the law to convict associates of President Trump of process crimes, especially the crime of making false statements to government investigators.

Many of the 27 cases of senior official wrongdoing reported by the Justice OIG last year were resolved by the resignation of the misbehaving employee. “Federal employees facing potential disciplinary action do often resign instead,” says Sean Bigley, who practices government employment and security clearance law. “So the fact is that a lot of senior officials found culpable of misconduct escape accountability.” Government employees have job protections that few in the private sector enjoy. Officials who have gotten themselves in trouble “can frequently negotiate their exit in lieu of punishment,” Bigley says. “These types of arrangements are, indeed, undertaken with an eye toward avoiding the time and hassle of litigation.”

But even when an official is already long gone from federal service, the DOJ instinct is to treat its own with a generosity that has not been on display in the cases involving associates of Donald Trump.

A former deputy assistant attorney general was not happy that his brother was sharing a hospital room with another patient. A January 2019 OIG report states that he called the hospital claiming he was “the No. 4 person with the Department of Justice.” Leveraging that falsehood, the former Justice official demanded his brother be moved to a private room. The hospital complied.

When questioned by agents of the Department of Justice Inspector General, the former high-ranking attorney readily admitted he had committed “an ethical violation.” He “also agreed that his conduct amounted to the impersonation of a government official.”
I suppose the point of the article is that the "kid gloves" treatment of FBI, DOJ and other high government officials is not unique to the Russiagate saga, but widespread though out the government.

Where is Bill Barr when we really need him?

Thursday Tans

To hell with the lines:

Here's hoping we'll see the sun today.

The Wombat has Rule 5 Sunday: Elle MacPherson up at The Other McCain on time and under budget.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

So, What Else is New?

From Stacy McCain, New Yorkers Are Infecting America
Yesterday, we took note of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis imposing a two-week quarantine on visitors arriving from New York-area airports. New York City is the epicenter of the Chinese Bat Soup Flu pandemic, with more than 17,000 reported cases — including more than 3,000 added in just the past 24 hours. Two states, New York and New Jersey, account for 65% of reported cases. This is a risk to the rest of America:
The White House’s coronavirus response coordinator said Tuesday that anyone who has recently left New York should self-quarantine for 14 days in an effort to slow the spread of the virus in the US.
“To everyone who has left New York over the last few days, because of the rate of the number of cases, you may have been exposed before you left New York,” Dr. Deborah Birx said at a White House press briefing, adding that “everybody who was in New York should be self-quarantining for the next 14 days to ensure that the virus doesn’t spread to others.”
“No matter where they have gone, whether it’s Florida or North Carolina or out to the far reaches of Long Island,” Birx said.
So, this disease that began in Communist China because people eat bats there has now moved to New York and is spreading across America. We’re destroying our economy — spending trillions of dollars for an emergency rescue bill — because of bat-eaters and New Yorkers.
Densely packed, extremely progressive New York City leads the way with many things. Not all are good.

Also,  ‘Chinese Bat Soup Flu’ Update

Hat-tip to Kurt Schlicter for giving this pandemic a memorable name. It’s going to get worse — perhaps a whole lot worse — before it gets better, but in the meantime, we can figure out what went wrong, and caution about what’s still going wrong. The first and most important thing President Trump needs to do now is to halt domestic flight departures from New York City-area airports. . .
I gonna stick with WuFlu