Pandemic Diary Entry 39

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May 4, 2020

Today Mitch McConnell is forcing the US Senators back to Washington, not to discuss additional coronavirus relief legislation but to ramrod his 194th and 195th judges into the judicial system and to vote on Robert Feitel to be the inspector general of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (Feitel’s vote is the only item calendered for today May 4th).

This is just the tip of the iceberg of the insanity of Covid-19 and our nation’s Capitol.

Did you wonder why Mike Pence felt comfortable walking around a Covid-19 ward with no mask? I did, and I found out that he and the president are tested daily, and yet we have front line workers in hospitals, police departments and veterans homes that are deprived of them because there are not enough to go around.

The aides that come into contact with the president and vice president are tested once a week. Visitors to either men are tested before any meeting, and any press that accompany either man is also tested.

I guess that explains the bombastic and egregiously bogus statement from Trump that “anybody that wants a test can get a test.”

Originally Congressional Doctor Brian P. Monahan told the Senate that there would not be enough tests to monitor the health of the 100 senators. The doctor also explained that the tests the White House uses are rapid-testing that give results in about five minutes. But Dr. Monahan has said he has no access to those tests, and the ones he would give if he had enough, have a two day turnaround. On Saturday morning May 2nd, HHS has said it “found” 1000 rapid-tests for Congress, (they refused to state where these tests came from).

The fact that HHS will not state where these tests are coming from is no small deal.

The federal government is quietly seizing orders for emergency supplies from states and hospitals around the country. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is not publicly reporting these “acquisitions” despite the fact that they were purchased with millions of state tax dollars. The federal government is also not being transparent as to where these “acquisitions” are actually going.

These “acquired” tests will not make any difference.

First, because of this joint statement by McConnell and Nancy Pelosi “Congress is grateful for the Administration’s generous offer to deploy rapid COVID-19 testing capabilities to Capitol Hill, but we respectfully decline the offer at this time,” “Our country’s testing capacities are continuing to scale up nationwide and Congress wants to keep directing resources to the front-line facilities where they can do the most good the most quickly.”

And secondly, Dr. Monahan has been adamant that he will not test anyone that does not show symptoms. He is holding true to the C.D.C.’s guidelines for testing. He has instructed the senators to social distance while in session, but masks are not required.

In California the first lock down was on citizens over 60, an intelligent decision based on the first findings that the elderly were the ones dying.

The US Senate is not young. In the United States Senate there are five senators in their 80s, eighteen in their 70s, and thirty-two in their 60s. If they were mere citizens of California they would not be getting on a plane and flying to Washington to do anything as trivial as Mitch’s Folly.

That is 55 senators over the age of 60, that is over one-half of the United States Senate! And yes, Mitch is one of them coming in at the age of 78.

The US House of Representatives has heeded Dr. Monahan’s advice of no large gatherings and will not be returning to Washington.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the oldest member of the US Senate, at 86, wrote a letter to McConnell stating: “The attending physician of Congress, Dr. Brian Monahan, advised House leadership that he recommends against resuming their session,”… “Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer did the right thing by heeding this public health advice and are setting the right example for the country.”

It obviously fell on deaf ears.

Even the United States Supreme Court, primarily due to the age of the judges, is now hearing sessions via telephone.

Another little odd piece in this story, the US Senate did not convene to discuss and vote for the Coronavirus Relief Package, they did that remotely.

It is important to also note that it is not just 100 senators returning to Washington. The senators bring staff with them, and the convening of the Senate brings reporters. Washington D.C. itself has not flattened its curve and has over 240 deaths amongst the 2,107 deaths and 47,001 cases confirmed in the D.C. region.

This is an ugly power grab, and political stunt, that supports the mixed signals to US citizens about shelter in place (SIP) that are coming out of our nations capitol.

The rioting against SIP have been spurred on by comments coming out of the White House. The Governors of most states are fighting to maintain SIP against this fringe element and now we have a Senate that instead of SIP, as they should, is demonstrating that maybe it isn’t actually necessary.

Millions of us are staying home, flattening the curve, and saving lives because of it, but our politicians are being called back to Washington to make sure two judges, (including one that was deemed “not qualified” by the American Bar Association) can get a job? Not only is this not leadership, but it is a procrustean move on the part of McConnell to pander to the press, partisan politics at its ugliest. This will not end well.

Trivial Things

My Horoscope for today: A hidden factor is unearthed as Mercury passes the Sun. It explains a lot. But don’t stand there gawking — put this information to good use!

The NYT Crossword Puzzle: I will no longer include this in my Pandemic Diary, since I have gone to posting on Monday’s only. The Monday NYT Crossword Puzzle is the easiest and rarely takes me but a few minutes.

San Francisco weather: 62 degrees and partly cloudy

NYSE DOW opened at: 23581

Italian word of the day: diretto (firsthand)

Spanish word of the day: el colegio (school)

OED word of the day: arte povera, (An artistic movement originating in Italy in the 1960s, incorporating elements of conceptual, minimalist, and performance art and characterized by the use of ostensibly worthless everyday materials, often in temporary installations; the art associated with this movement.) If you are interested in investigating this further there is a great article here.

A Special word of the day: The word quarantine comes form the Venetian policy of keeping ships from plague-stricken countries waiting outside its port for 40 days to assure no latent cases were aboard. From the word quaranta or forty.

Days under Shelter In Place: 50

Reading: Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Studying Dante’s Purgatorio

A Special Something: Unlike the present WH occupant George W. Bush has issued an uplifting, sobering and Presidental message. It was posted by the Bush Center on Twitter and then reposted in the NYT. It was also posted on Unite, but you will have to search for it on their site. I apologize for those that are unable to access the video.

My Black and White Picture of the Day

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Something Silly From the Internet:

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