Late Night Horrorshow: Zika Is Coming, Ready or Not

I’m probably gonna get dinged for chicken-littling, because hey, no Ebola outbreak happened in America, right? And yet… “White House Ebola response coordinator from 2014 to 2015” Klain’s Washington Post article:

The good news is that both the House and Senate have finally passed bills that would provide some funding to combat the Zika virus. The bad news is that this action comes more than three months after President Obama requested the aid. Moreover, the House bill provides only one-third of the response needed; pays for this limited, ineffective response by diverting money allocated to fight other infectious diseases; and necessitates a conference committee to resolve differences with the Senate bill, meaning we still do not know when any money will finally get through Congress to fund the response…

As befuddling as Congress’ refusal to approve funds for the Zika response is, perhaps even more of a mystery is why such approval is needed in the first place. If nature was threatening us with serious injury and evacuations via fire, flood or hurricane, the president could use his authority under the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to provide immediate aid without waiting for Congress to act. The fact that epidemic “natural disasters” are the result of disease and not an earthquake or tornado should not constrain the federal government’s ability to provide a timely, comprehensive response…

Speaking of those damaged babies? Once the Zika virus gets established in “our” mosquitos, microcephaly is going to become yet another standard prenatal test for women in the afflicted areas. Or who’ve visited those areas. Or whose male partners were exposed to Zika, even months before the pregnancy. And by the time microcephaly can be diagnosed, it’s too late for a quiet ‘medical abortion‘ — women will need full surgical services, and most will have been visibly pregnant. It’s not going to be easy for ‘fundamentalist’ anti-choicers to find reasons to blame good married Christian white ladies in the Sunbelt for having been bitten by the wrong mosquito… but I’m sure they’re gonna try their damndest.
Read more

Lest We Forget: “The Disaster of Richard Nixon”

There are pundits already lathering themselves up about how this is the most seriously dangerous inflection point in all of American history — which is, thankfully, untrue. It’s probably not even the most dangerous time in living memory, among other reasons because things have changed in response to earlier crises. In the New York Review of Books, Robert G. Kaiser reviews a new batch of Nixon studies:

Thanks to his gross abuses of presidential power symbolized by the Watergate scandal and to his own decision to record the details of his presidency on tape, Nixon seems destined to remain an object of fascination, amazement, scorn, and disgust for as long as historians pay attention to the American presidency. When the subject matter is their foreign policy, Nixon’s sidekick, Henry A. Kissinger, will be right there beside him…

Vietnam was the defining issue of Nixon’s presidency, as he knew it would be. Months before he became president, Nixon assured H.R. “Bob” Haldeman, his closest aide, that “I’m not going to end up like LBJ, Bob, holed up in the White House, afraid to show my face on the street. I’m going to stop that war. Fast.” Antiwar protesters had driven Lyndon Johnson into early retirement, which allowed Nixon to become president. Nixon played to the country’s war weariness in his 1968 campaign, implying that he had a plan to end the war.

But he had no plan. Ironically, even before he took office Nixon personally sabotaged an opportunity he might have had to avoid Johnson’s fate. The books under review suggest that this is one of the stories that will continue to stain Nixon’s reputation.

In late October 1968, when Johnson’s negotiators in Paris finally reached an agreement with North Vietnam to end American bombing and begin negotiations on a political settlement, Nixon took an enormous personal risk to derail the peace talks before they could begin. At the time, polls showed that Hubert H. Humphrey, Nixon’s Democratic opponent and Johnson’s vice-president, was rising fast—so fast that Nixon feared he might lose the presidency because of the peace deal. So he performed a dirty trick that foreshadowed many more to come.
Read more

Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Gonna Have to Face It

This badly Photoshopped image was inspired by a comment from Corner Stone last night, in which he noted that Trump’s victory speech tableau resembled a Robert Palmer video:


It’s not the fault of Trump’s spouse and female relatives / hangers-on that they seem to form a phalanx of interchangeable backup singers whenever they gather behind the presumptive Republican nominee. But it is funny in an OMG-a-strutting-pageant-maestro-has-a-significantly-lessGREATER-than-zero-chance-of-becoming-POTUS kinda way.

Good Christ, Hillary and Bernie — don’t fuck this up!

We are having a hellacious storm this morning in West Central FL, complete with frequent lightning and sideways rain. One bolt of lightning struck so close that it propelled my hard-sleeping teen from her bed to the hallway before she was even fully awake.

As for me, Imma get more coffee; the adrenaline shot wasn’t sufficient. Open thread!

Open Thread: There’s Always A Market for Food Faddism

When the ancient appetite for hummingbird-tongue pie and pearls dissolved in vinegar filters through childhood memories of Captain Picard demanding “Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.”… From the NYTimes article:

Is it a juice-ordering app? Is it just another kitchen-counter contraption? Or is it a 111,000-square-foot food processing factory, staffed by dozens of hourly workers, washing and slicing up fruits and vegetables in Los Angeles?

It is all of these things. “It’s the most complicated business that I’ve ever funded,” said David Krane, a partner at GV, formerly Google Ventures. “It’s software. It’s consumer electronics. It’s produce and packaging.”

Many of the tycoons who inhabit Silicon Valley are obsessed with health and longevity while harboring the conviction that technology can improve anything, even one of nature’s most elementary foodstuffs — in this case, juice. And they believe that niche trends, if properly disrupted, can become billion-dollar markets. Juicero is the latest expression of these techno-utopian impulses…

The machine itself is a white plastic slab roughly the size of a food processor. To get some juice, you insert a pouch that resembles an IV bag and press a button. A couple of minutes later, a thin stream of vividly colored liquid squirts into a glass.

For health nuts willing to pay a premium, Juicero promises the platonic ideal of juice. Plus, the machine never needs to be cleaned.

But getting from farm to glass involves a daunting mix of hardware, code and food processing. The arrangement relies on a smartphone app, always-on Wi-Fi, QR codes, high-tech packaging and an army of workers slicing fruits and vegetables in very particular ways…

How long after it hits the market will it take for some tv comedian to bait C-list celebrities with a fake Juicero dispensing doses of V8?

For that matter, how long before Ronco comes out with a $19.95 ‘Youceroo’ that sits on your kitchen counter and dispenses V8, Welsh grape juice, or Motts from ‘convenient storage paks’?

Horror Movie Open Thread: Teach Screen the Controversy!

Zombie lies, they’re not just for economics any more! Per the NYTimes:

In a decision that has dredged up the widely debunked link between vaccines and autism, the Tribeca Film Festival plans to screen a film by a discredited former doctor whose research caused widespread alarm about the issue.

The film, “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe,” is directed and co-written by Andrew Wakefield, an anti-vaccination activist and an author of a study — published in the British medical journal The Lancet, in 1998 — that was retracted in 2010. In addition to the retraction of the study, which involved 12 children, Britain’s General Medical Council, citing ethical violations and a failure to disclose financial conflicts of interest, revoked Mr. Wakefield’s medical license…

On Friday, Robert De Niro, one of the festival’s founders, said in a statement issued through the festival’s publicists that he supported the plan to show the movie next month, although he said he was “not personally endorsing the film,” nor was he against vaccination.

Mr. De Niro’s statement seemed to suggest that this was the first time he has expressed a preference that a particular film be shown at the festival.

“Grace and I have a child with autism,” he wrote, referring to his wife, Grace Hightower De Niro, “and we believe it is critical that all of the issues surrounding the causes of autism be openly discussed and examined. In the 15 years since the Tribeca Film Festival was founded, I have never asked for a film to be screened or gotten involved in the programming. However this is very personal to me and my family and I want there to be a discussion, which is why we will be screening VAXXED.”…

The plan to show the film has unnerved and angered doctors, infectious disease experts and even other filmmakers…

According to the festival’s website, “Vaxxed” will be screened only once, on April 24, the festival’s closing day. A talk with the director and the film’s subjects will follow.

An earlier version of this article suggested that perhaps Mr. de Niro intended to rebut the film during his talk, but that doesn’t seem to be what he’s planning, per Deadline:

[T]he TFF promotional material could easily be taken to endorse Wakefield’s cause. “Digging into the long-debated link between autism and vaccines, Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe features revealing and emotional interviews with pharmaceutical insiders, doctors, politicians, parents, and one whistleblower to understand what’s behind the skyrocketing increase of autism diagnoses today.” Also this: “The most vitriolic debate in medical history takes a dramatic turn when senior-scientist-turned-whistleblower Dr. William Thompson of the Centers for Disease Control turns over secret documents, data and internal emails confirming what millions of devastated parents and ‘discredited’ doctors have long-suspected.”…

One happy effect of De Niro’s statement, according to the LA Times: “The De Niro news does quell reports that actor Leonardo DiCaprio was involved in backing the film — as Wakefield apparently told reporters on a promotional cruise — and even may have been orchestrating its Tribeca screening.”

Late Night Open Thread: Encouraging the Two-Bit Racists

One can only hope Bill Bratton is correct about Ted Cruz. And that Donald Trump similarly fails.

Pictures Are Worth A Thousand Words

I’ll have actual analysis on today’s bombing in Brussels either tomorrow or Thursday once more solid information has been reported out. In the meantime, and in response to some of the responses from elected officials in the US regarding today’s bombings in Brussels, I’m going to simply post these pictures. They say far more, and speak far more eloquently than I could, about what happens when we respond to challenges, crises, and threats in an emotional and politicized manner and attribute guilt by superficial association.




Heart Mountain Internment Camp***


Kooskia Internment Camp****


Minidoka Internment Camp*****


Dining Hall at the Fresno Assembly Center******

* Image from here.

** Image from here.

*** Image from here.

**** Image from here.

***** Image from here.

****** Image from here.