Monday’s Forum

Come together for another week.

FILED UNDER: Open Forum
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    ‘Heads we win, tails you lose’: how America’s rich have turned pandemic into profit

    Some of the richest people in the US have been at the front of the queue as the government has handed out trillions of dollars to prop up an economy it shuttered amid the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, the billionaire class has added $308bn to its wealth in four weeks – even as a record 26 million people lost their jobs.

    According to a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive thinktank, between 18 March and 22 April the wealth of America’s plutocrats grew 10.5%. After the last recession, it took over two years for total billionaire wealth to get back to the levels they enjoyed in 2007.

    Eight of those billionaires have seen their net worth surge by over $1bn each, including the Amazon boss, Jeff Bezos, and his ex-wife MacKenzie Bezos; Eric Yuan, founder of Zoom; the former Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer; and Elon Musk, the Tesla and SpaceX technocrat.

    The billionaire bonanza comes as a flotilla of big businesses, millionaires and billionaires sail through loopholes in a $349bn bailout meant to save hard-hit small businesses. About 150 public companies managed to bag more than $600m in forgivable loans before the funds ran out. Among them was Shake Shack, a company with 6,000 employees valued at $2bn. It has since given the cash back but others have not.

    Fisher Island, a members-only location off the coast of Miami where the average income of residents is $2.2m and the beaches are made from imported Bahamian sand, has received $2m in aid.

    Ah, Fisher Island… You remember Fisher Island, don’t you? The rich MF’ers who headed straight to the head of the testing in air conditioned comfort line after one of their residents tested positive? While the rest of Florida sweltered in parking lots for hours on end just to be turned away because there weren’t enough tests for everyone? Yeah, that Fisher Island.

    Meanwhile, billionaires have been unable to put a well-heeled foot wrong. Billionaire wealth soared 1,130% in 2020 dollars between 1990 and 2020, according to the Institute for Policy Studies. That increase is more than 200 times greater than the 5.37% growth of median wealth in the US over this same period. And the tax obligations of America’s billionaires, measured as a percentage of their wealth, decreased 79% between 1980 and 2018.

    The reign of Ronald Reagan has been a plague upon this land, one we have never recovered from.

    Collins has been studying income inequality for 25 years and has seen the really rich win victory after victory. But even he was surprised by how quickly America’s billionaires have turned pandemic into profit. “I still get shocked,” he said.

    Long past time we “kill” the rich. Either thru a restructuring of the tax code and financial laws or guillotines. Their choice.

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  2. Scott says:

    A little factoid

    As of yesterday, the VA and US Military has 6860 and 6213 cases of COVID-19. If they were states they would be the 21st and 22nd most infected states.

    https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/

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  3. Scott says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Somewhat tangential but still in the same category:

    As frontline emergency doctors risk all to fight COVID-19, their pay is slashed

    As the nation cheers its emergency room physicians as warriors fighting a pandemic, the big-money firms who employ them are quietly slashing doctors’ income to make up for shortfalls in corporate revenue.

    In Texas and elsewhere, emergency physicians typically are not employed directly by the hospitals they work in, but rather by large national firms who forge contracts with local hospitals to supply staff and run the emergency rooms. The doctors usually are paid by those firms based on the hours worked and patients seen rather than a set salary.

    The largest of the companies, Envision Healthcare and TeamHealth, are owned by multibillion-dollar private equity firms, Kohlberg Kravis Robert, or KKR, and Blackstone Group, respectively. Together they are estimated to control about a third of all emergency physician staffing in the country, according to a recent analysis by health policy experts.

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  4. OzarkHillbilly says:
  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: The mind boggles. If it wasn’t obvious before how broken our healthcare is, by the time this is over I hope people will have finally noticed.

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  6. Teve says:

    @lyyratic

    I just saw a TikTok that called the stock market “a graph of rich people’s feelings”, and I’ve never seen anything more accurate.

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  7. MarkedMan says:

    Does anyone have any insight as to WTF is going on with testing in the US? This thing is months old now and we still don’t have an adequate testing setup and seemingly no coherent plant to get there. Birx made comments yesterday that implies there is no plan to deploy with our existing technology but rather wait for something new that she predicts is 2 or 3 weeks away. What’s up with that?

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  8. Tyrell says:

    “Washington Supreme Court denies release for serial killer and others in 5-4 vote over coronavirus”
    (Washington Examiner)
    This would set vicious criminals free to hit the streets again, including the infamous Green River serial killer!
    Is somebody kidding? Some nuts want to free these monsters, yet a father gets arrested for playing ball with his daughter!
    Let’s hope that the California leaders don’t get any ideas like that: imagine Charles Manson roaming around LA. And Norman Bates too if he was still around, wearing his famous dress!
    What is shocking is that four judges were in favor of letting these creeps out. I am not against letting people out who are in for things like parking violations, jaywalking, or unpaid library fines. We are talking about murderers, gang members, bank robbers, and serial killers here.
    Maybe those judges can put them up at their homes.

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  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: What’s up with that?

    trump.

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  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tyrell: (Washington Examiner)

    Tells me all I need to know about that.

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  11. Kit says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Long past time we “kill” the rich. Either thru a restructuring of the tax code and financial laws or guillotines. Their choice.

    I see little desire for this, and no path forward.

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  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Bill Kristol
    @BillKristol

    This video from Republicans for the Rule of Law has clocked more than a million views since we released it less than 24 hours ago. I’m re-posting it here in case you missed it, or if you might want to retweet or forward it. Or just to watch again and be, again, horrified by it.

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  13. Bill says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Does anyone have any insight as to WTF is going on with testing in the US?

    I have a Sister-in-law working as ER nurse in Manhattan, plus two nephews working as nurses in the Philippines. They are questioning the accuracy of swab tests. It seems there are a lot of false negatives.

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  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kit: There is a part of me that largely agrees with you. But hope springs eternal.

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  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Reese Waters
    @reesewaters

    WHO FLEW WITH CRABS?!

    If you haven’t laughed in a while and need to, these 41 seconds should cure it.

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  16. Kit says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    There is a part of me that largely agrees with you. But hope springs eternal.

    I understand, brother Hillbilly. But then I hear people say that they just want to forget about politics for the next four years, that they want a return to normality, and my heart sinks. Let’s just whip out the credit card and take a nice holiday from history. Let’s take a cruise back to the land that time forgot, when Republicans were sane. You know, back when whatshisname was president. But then I start dreaming that Biden might choose a progressive for a running mate. Or perhaps he’ll choose Kamala Harris and go after corruption. And maybe all the crap of these past years means that Old Joe gets elected in a landslide and the Senate follows in his wake. A Green New Deal. A plutocracy neutered. An attack on propaganda. Alliances reforged. The state rebuilt. An end to voter suppression. The bad guys behind bars. And then… And then… And then I wake up.

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  17. wr says:

    @Tyrell: “magine Charles Manson roaming around LA. And Norman Bates too if he was still around, wearing his famous dress!”

    I think Tyrell is on to something serious here. We need to organize immediately to prevent the release of serial killers who are either dead or fictional or both.

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  18. Teve says:

    @rudygiuliani

    Why did the US (NIH) in 2017 give $3.7m to the Wuhan Lab in China?

    Such grants were prohibited in 2014.

    Did Pres. Obama grant an exception?

    You’ve got to be Brian Kilmeade-level stupid to be a Republican at this point.

    ETA for anyone who doesn’t know who Brian Kilmeade is, he is the Fox and Friends anchor who once tried to roast a marshmallow by holding it over a flame on a plastic spoon.

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  19. gVOR08 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I am constantly reminded of a description of government I saw decades ago. I can’t find it (and I’d appreciate a pointer). Simplified, it was that government has two functions, to legitimatize and to subsidize. To do enough for the populace to legitimatize it’s existence, and to subsidize those who have the wealth and power to command subsidies. And liberal v conservative is just a dispute between those who feel they’ve pushed it too far and need to buff up legitimizing and those who think they can get away with more subsidizing.

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  20. KM says:

    @Scott:
    Not to mention they just had over two million masks stolen by FEMA “for the stockpile”. At this point, it’s straight up piracy what the government is doing and is making medical professionals have to act like drug dealers just to get necessary equipment. Things done the legit way are getting seized for “reasons” but if you get the Patriots to run your stash, you manage to smuggle it past the FBI!

    Here’s what I want to know: if the stockpile isn’t for use for states in crisis (mostly blue right now) and it’s not for the military (primarily in red states), who the hell is it for? Or more precisely, who’s it being sold to and just how soon can we get Jared in cuffs? He doesn’t have the nebulous shield Trump does by being President. When it comes out – and it will, one way or another – that during a crisis killing thousands of Americans he was overseeing the high-jacking of supplies for profit….. not even his GOP will be able to save him.

    Things like this have batch dates and production markers for quality control. People need to start checking what supplies they get in and recording this data. When a sane person is finally back in control, someone needs to survey the stockpile and check batch numbers against invoices and distributor records. I’m willing to bet the farm those seized masks are gone and never made it to the stockpile. They went straight to market and profit into someone’s pocket…..

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  21. Bill says:
  22. Sleeping Dog says:

    Is Putin attempting to rehabilitate Stalin? Here and here.

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  23. OzarkHillbilly says:
  24. beth says:

    @KM: Yesterday South Carolina received 1.5 million surgical facemasks, procured by a Clemson businessman and delivered by Boeing. The unloading of them was hyped in advance, covered live on the news stations and attended by the Republican governor, both Republican senators and a few Republican congresspeople. Now I’m glad the state has them even though we’ve only got about 5000 cases of CV and I’m sure other states could use them more right now. It’s just funny how this shipment made it through with no problems.

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  25. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR08: Yep.

    @KM: Well, trump has offered to help Russia any way he can. It would be irresponsible NOT to speculate.

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  26. Kingdaddy says:

    Over the weekend, we had a long conversation across front porches with some Trump-supporting neighbors. They’re eager for our state to re-open. Their nod to safety is, if someone transgresses the state rules, they should have whatever privileges they enjoy under the re-opening revoked.

    These are the same people who, five minutes earlier, bemoaned how our little suburb has only one building inspector, so it’s impossible for the city to keep up with violations in new construction. (There’s a lot of new construction here.) They don’t believe in the efficacy of government regulation in other circumstances, too.

    My obvious question was, given their low opinion of local and state government regulation, who’s doing the oversight during the re-opening? Who’s discovering the violations, pulling the privileges, and making sure that they stay pulled?

    “That’s a problem,” one of them said. Slight pause before diving into further arguments why re-opening is an urgent priority.

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  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    If you read one thing today, read this:

    Richard Phillips is a tall man with broad shoulders and a habit of singing to himself, usually without words, a deep and joyful sound that seems to rise from his soul. He began singing when he was a boy, and kept singing in prison, and now sings in the car, and at the dinner table, sustaining that one long note, as if nothing in the world could stop the music.

    Two days after he was sentenced to life in prison in 1972, Phillips wrote a poem. It may have been the first poem he ever wrote. He was 26 years old, and had left high school in tenth grade, and now, with plenty of time to wonder, he took a pencil and set his wondering down on the page. He wondered about the color of raindrops, the color of the sky, the color of his heart, the color of his words when he sang aloud, and the color of his need for someone to hold. He missed holding his children, missed lacing their shoes and wiping away their tears, and he knew the only way he’d ever return to them was to somehow prove his innocence.

    One appeal failed in 1974, another in 1975. Phillips thought he might win with a better lawyer, so he took a job at the prison’s license-plate factory, in the inking department, catching freshly inked plates as they came out of the chute and sending them by conveyor belt to the drying oven. The wages were bad by civilian standards but good by prison standards, maybe $100 a month plus bonuses, and Phillips opened a bank account and watched the money accumulate.

    About four years later he had enough to pay one of the best appellate lawyers in Michigan, so he sent in the money and waited for freedom. All the while he thought of his children, and remembered the taste of homemade ice cream, and wrote love poems to women, both real and imaginary, featuring beds made of violets and warm baths made of tears.

    He waited, and waited. On January 1, 1979, a date confirmed by his journal, Phillips was in his room when another inmate walked in with some news. He’d just seen Fred Mitchell in the chow hall. It was a cold gray Monday at the Jackson prison, and Phillips had not seen his children in 2,677 days. Fred Mitchell? Phillips knew what to do.

    On his way he stopped to tell a friend.

    I’m coming with you, the friend said.

    The prison was home to several factories. This meant easy access to raw materials, including scrap metal, which also meant an abundance of homemade knives. Phillips and his friend each held one under a sleeve as they stood outside the chow hall, waiting for Mitchell to emerge. Here he was, walking across the yard, unaware of the two men walking behind him.

    Phillips could see it all in his mind. He would wait until Mitchell reached the Blind Spot, a well-known location the guards couldn’t see. He would plunge the shank into Mitchell’s neck. And he just might get away with it.

    This would feel like justice.

    I don’t know where all this dust came from.

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  28. Jax says:

    @beth: It’s possible it made it past the Kushner blockade BECAUSE it was so well publicized. Bad optics to seize their pirate booty in front of television cameras, they’ll wait til the next shipment’s arrival somewhere else isn’t so well documented.

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  29. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jax: And yet the only way a shipment can get thru to a blue state is thru the utmost secrecy. I suspect a different factor at play here.

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  30. Blue Galangal says:

    I ask this question in all seriousness, seeing the news that SCOTUS is signaling a refusal to intervene in lawful subpoenas:

    What will it take? Why are they burning it all to the ground for Trump?

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  31. Jay L Gischer says:

    Since you maybe don’t trust the Washington Examiner, here’s a local Seattle TV station reporting on the WA Supreme Court decision to keep some prisoners in prison.
    https://www.kiro7.com/news/local/wa-supreme-court-rejects-plea-release-thousands-inmates-immediately/NELJN77TXBBCLKRFK6ARZFL24Y/

    They were answering a lawsuit from a private non-profit that advocates for prisoners.

    The lawsuit filed by Columbia Legal Services named five plaintiffs, including a pregnant inmate, and sought the immediate release of all Washington State prisoners 50 or older, those who have serious medical issues, and those who are within 18-months of release.

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  32. Sleeping Dog says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    Except for the unborn, we’ve always known that the modern rethug party hated children, now they hate seniors who regularly vote for them.

    @MarkedMan:

    Over the weekend, Cow Hampshire’s rethug governor, who is doing a good job during this, ripped the Feds over testing. He said the state has sufficient test kits, to begin large scale testing but not the supplies that make the kits usable. Appears that the Feds have turned their hearing aids off about this.

    @beth:

    Here in the north country, the state has received 2 shipments of PPE from China, facilitated by Segway guy, Dean Kaman. When the planes arrived they were greeted by the gov and at least on senator and one congressman, backing those folks up were a contingent of state patrol and national guard troops, all, shall we say, well equipped. FEMA was no where to be seen and the equipment passed through customs and has been distributed.

    It appears that the secret to having a states, privately procured PPE shipment not confiscated is have high profile receivers and your own army.

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  33. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Blue Galangal:

    Why are they burning it all to the ground for Trump?

    Sir Thomas More: It profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world … but for Wales?

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  34. reid says:

    Maria Bartiromo, who has apparently drunk deeply of the kool-aid, posted on twitter that General Flynn is going to be completely exonerated this week. Also, that the whole case against him was a fraud. I obviously am extremely skeptical about any of that, since his case seemed open-and-shut at some level, but I’m wondering what is going on behind the scenes. Are Trump and Barr subverting justice for him? Disturbing.

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  35. MarkedMan says:

    @Blue Galangal: Because they are not burning it down. Once a Democrat holds the presidency they will revert.

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  36. Mister Bluster says:
  37. gVOR08 says:

    @Blue Galangal: It isn’t for Trump. It’s for the Republican Party and for the Billionaire Boys Club for which it stands. Bad as he is, he’s still their best shot at holding the presidency. What else can they do, impeach him and nominate Pence? And if investigations are allowed to go forward their slim best chance turns into no chance. And who knows who goes down with Trump.

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  38. Mister Bluster says:

    CNN just reported that we have not seen the President since Friday at his 22 minute, no questions allowed, bloviation.

    Where is he?

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  39. CSK says:

    The Daily Beast reports that Trump is very, very unhappy that Michael Cohen is being released from prison to serve the rest of his time at home.

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  40. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mister Bluster:
    He’s having another Twitter meltdown at the moment, toilet tweeting in all caps. You know, using the Bully Toilet.

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  41. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster:
    Communing with Kim, perhaps.

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  42. Jackouttathebox says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Bully Toilet
    You might want to trademark that one

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  43. wr says:

    @Teve: “You’ve got to be Brian Kilmeade-level stupid to be a Republican at this point.”

    Brian Kilmeade is paid a lot of money to be this stupid. It’s the followers who do it for free who are truly pathetic.

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  44. Mister Bluster says:

    More Fake News from the BBC

    El Paso mass shooting victim dies after nine months in hospital
    Guillermo “Memo” Garcia coached a local football team and was shot while selling lemonade with his wife in order to fundraise for the team’s children.
    The death toll in the 3 August attack, which officials say was a hate crime against Hispanics, now stands at 23.

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  45. reid says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Bully Poopit?

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  46. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster:
    My God, this is sad. The poor man: slaughtered while trying to do some good.

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  47. Mister Bluster says:

    People kill people with guns in this country because they can.

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  48. Kathy says:

    So I’m on my first day working form home.

    A lot of what I do gets done online, so that was just a matter of sending myself a file with the necessary links. I can access my work email online, too. But for the rest I was given a laptop with software to connect remotely to my work PC.

    That’s where things got complicated.

    The image of the work desktop was too small, and I am not used to the touch pad on the laptop. After switching the mouse from my home PC tot he laptop twice, I thought: can’t I download the remote desktop software to my home PC and use the ID number and password to hook it up? It turned out I could.

    The image is still small, but tolerably so given the much larger screen I’m using now.

    But I still need to have a talk with IT about it.

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  49. CSK says:

    The White House has uncanceled the coronavirus press briefing it canceled earlier today. I guess Trump couldn’t do without his fix.

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  50. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @reid: trump and Barr have nothing to say about it. It’s all in the hands of the judge, who knows that in either earlier hearings or the later ones, Flynn lied under oath. To the judge. Judges don’t take kindly to people lying in their courtrooms.

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  51. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @reid: That’s a winner.

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  52. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    Maybe if he doesn’t tell millions of people how great he is, he stops believing it and begins to realize what a fraud he’s been perpetrating on himself all these years

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  53. An Interested Party says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Thank you for sharing that story…incredible…and yet another story of an innocent person being treated so horribly, so shabbily by the “justice” system…heartbreaking…this man’s resilience though…wow…

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  54. CSK says:

    @Kathy:
    One of the only times I ever heard Trump say anything remotely introspective was when he remarked that he didn’t like to look too deeply into himself for fear he wouldn’t like what he saw.

    On some level, he knows what a loathsome creature he is.

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  55. Jax says:

    @Kathy: I use Teamviewer a lot to work on client computers, and access my home computer when I’m away. It works pretty well.

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  56. Liberal Capitalist says:
  57. Monala says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: Coal and Cotton, snort!

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  58. Teve says:

    Zirconia and Burlap, I’d heard. 😀

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  59. Kathy says:

    @Jax:

    In the end, I have to use what IT installs on my work PC.

    On the plus side, small image or not, at least now I have a remote desktop at home, and in the future, pandemic or not, I can use the accounting software for expense reports (which I affectionately call BLUESCREEN II*), and no longer need to go to the office on Saturdays.

    About working less, well, there’s much less work right now that we’ve finished all the major projects. But I took a short nap after lunch (it’s nice to have the bed just two meters from the “office” 🙂 )

    I also advanced about 25% of one of the two remaining projects. But that one’s due for May 15th.

    * BLUESCREEN I had the habit of crashing whenever I tried to upload an invoice file, hence the name. It did so less often when usage was low, as on weekends. BLUESCREEN II doesn’t crash as often, regardless of usage, but the name stuck.

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  60. inhumans99 says:

    That pesky name again, but Kevin Drum has a super brief blurb up on how Trump has lost a startling amount of ground with female voters.

    Pretty soon he really is only going to have the support of straight up White Supremacists and incels (along with a smattering of the truly ignorant of all shapes and sizes as we can see when he used to hold his rallies), and I just am starting to feel that as much stock as we put into being frightened of Trump supporters taking up arms against society I really believe there is evidence that there is so much more of us (liberals, just sane rational people in general) than there are of them if they take up arms…so long way of saying not worried about these critters.

    Honestly, between his latest poll numbers and reports like this one if I were Brad Parscale and Mitch McConnell I would be dealing with a serious case of heartburn.

    I remember reading that McConnell wanted to remain politically relevant which is why he bent the knee for Trump but the whole of the GOP will be scarily irrelevant about 6 months from now if they do not course correct.

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  61. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    A friend sent this to me…

    Mike Larsen, Progressive Democrat taking on Jim Jordan for Ohio’s 4th District: “Say what you will about Donald Trump, but injecting bleach and shining sunlight up our butts is the most detailed Republican replacement for Obamacare I’ve heard so far.”

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  62. Mister Bluster says:

    Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Trump commenting on the physical condition of the love of his life North Korea Madman Kim Jong-un.

    “I can’t tell you exactly,” Trump said when asked about Kim’s condition at a White House news conference. “Yes, I do have a very good idea, but I can’t talk about it now. I just wish him well.”
    “I can’t tell you exactly,” Trump said when asked about Kim’s condition at a White House news conference. “Yes, I do have a very good idea, but I can’t talk about it now. I just wish him well.”
    Reuters

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  63. flat earth luddite says:

    Quote of the day from Mike Larsen, a Progressive Democrat, taking on Jim Jordan for Ohio’s 4th District.

    “Say what you will about Donald Trump, but injecting bleach and shining sunlight up our butts is the most detailed Republican replacement for Obamacare I’ve heard so far.”

    Wa!

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  64. Gustopher says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    Diamond & Silk … now a step closer to Coal & Cotton.

    I get where you’re coming from, but… maybe don’t refer to black people with the words coal or cotton?

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