[Plura-list] Mar-a-Lago Virus, plutes cash in on stimulus, postal voting vs USPS collapse, "civility" and the Confederate playbook, Bojo has covid

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Fri Mar 27 13:25:44 EDT 2020

Today's links

* The US is now the epicenter of the pandemic: Trump has murdered millions.

* Plutes cash in on stimulus: $170B for real-estate tycoons.

* States prep for postal voting: But the GOP has all but murdered the USPS.

* "Civility" and the Confederate playbook: The right's call for
"civility" has a long, dishonorable history.

* Boris Johnson has coronavirus: He greenlit national pox-parties, now
he has it.

* Reasonable covid food-safety advice: Sanitize your hands and your
cart, practice social distancing, and…you're done.

* San Francisco cocktail delivery: Courtesy of the DNA Lounge.

* Flu pandemic photos: Mask-slackers beware!

* Free hi-rez covid stock art: Make your pandemic more visually varied.

* Warren campaign frees its software: Free, open and universal
campaigning tools.

* This day in history: 2005, 2010, 2015, 2019

* Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming appearances, current writing
projects, current reading


🍌 The US is now the epicenter of the pandemic

The US is now the epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic,
henceforth known as the Mar-a-Lago Virus. It has the highest number of
infections of any country in the world.


There have "only" been 1,000 US deaths so far. The "only" is there
because there are so many more to come, when the vast number of
incubating cases start manifesting symptoms and begin to die.

Trump wants the country to go back to work by Easter, because in his
version of the Trolley Problem, the most important thing is saving the


We had so much warning. But the president said it wasn't anything to
worry about.

Now, a lot of people are going to die.

Most of the dead will be old – from the demographic most likely to have
voted for Trump (which isn't to imply that only Trump voters will die,
or that they deserve to die – only that Trump chose to put his base at


Many will have contracted their infections by deliberately seeking out
crowded public places as the pandemic started spreading, because Fox
News told them that doing so was a way to own the libs.

Fox News viewers – who skew elderly, even by the standards of TV
watchers – are also disproportionately at risk from coronavirus. Fox
News is now a suicide cult.


But so many people will die because of this. Old people. Young people.
People with disabilities. People who just had very bad luck. Kids.

And that's before you get to all the people who have car wrecks or heart
attacks or slip-and-falls and can't get treatment in overloaded hospitals.

When Hoover fucked up by giving in to plutes and crashed the economy, he
got tent cities, or "Hoovervilles."

Trump's fuckup will end with mass graves. Trump Mausoleums?

We will get through this. But Trump will have murdered so many of us
before it's over.



🍌 Plutes cash in on stimulus

The stimulus package that the GOP Senate passed has the largest-ever
giveaway for real-estate plutes in US tax history: $170 billion in
tax-cuts over 10 years for couples with more than $500K in annual
capital gains.


The President who will sign the bill into law is a real-estate investor
who stands to make a fortune from it. His inner circle is packed with
similarly situated rentiers.

It's the second-biggest giveaway in the stimulus package, and it will
also give windfalls to wealthy oil and gas investors.

The House is expected to vote on it today.


🍌 States prep for postal voting

States are scrambling to prepare for a postal ballot-based election next


Postal ballots tend to benefit Democrats, whose voters are
disproportionately unable to get off work to vote, and who are more
likely to live in regions where GOP statehouses have closed polling
places, adding long drives and long queues for in-person voting.

That's why Red States often have state laws that prohibit unrestricted
postal voting, insisting that voters must provide a "good reason" for
their desire to exercise their franchise to a bureaucrat who gets to
decide whether or not they can participate in elections.

Of course, if Trump throws hundreds of thousands – or millions – of
(disproportionately GOP-voting) seniors into the coronavirus volcano to
appease the market-gods, the survivors may be gunshy about voting in
person, even if they continue as fully paid-up Trump cultists.

There are serious challenges to reorienting towards a largely postal
election, including mobilizing printing resources during a lockdown.

But even more challenging is the post office itself, which is on the
verge of collapse.


The USPS is a miracle of self-funding resilience, a universal, small-d
democratic institution that serves the whole nation. But its existence
is a thorn in the side of shareholders UPS and Fedex, who donate
lavishly to Congressjerks who fuck with the post office.

Requiring the post office to fund pension liabilities for workers who
aren't born yet is transparent fuckery. Combine that with a sharp
decline in mail usage during the lockdown and the service is now on the

That would be bad news, and not just for elections. The USPS is key to
America's emergency preparedness, and has been since the Cold War, when
it was projected to serve as a survivor-counting/corpse-hauling service
after nuclear armageddon.

It's the only institution that could deliver covid meds to every
household in America in a single day.



🍌 "Civility" and the Confederate playbook

You may have heard conservatives insist that the reason they stick up
for eugenicists and other cryptofascists is that they're standing up for
"civility" against the "social justice mobs."

This rhetoric isn't new: it's literally the same thing that slavery
apologists said in the runup to, and aftermath of, the Civil War: "we're
not in favor of slavery, we're just opposed to the shaming and social
exclusion of slavery advocates.


When we learn about the antebellum slavery debate, we hear about
slavery's defenders – but the mainstream debate over slavery wasn't
about its merits, it was about the incivility of abolitionists, and how
that compromised the free speech of enslavers.

Slavery advocates were cast as a disfavored minority, shouted down by
mobs who refused to hear them out. But discrimination against slavers
was a funny kind of discrimination: half the millionaires in America
were slavers in a single southern town.

Likewise, the right-wing figures who today claim that they are censored
and cast out by the intolerant left are millionaires who fill arenas and
appear regularly on Fox News, the most popular cable network in America.

They publish books with Big Five publishers and go on multicity tours.
They're courted by "progressive" news outlets as paid on-air
commentators to provide "balance." If that's discrimination, sign me up.

John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln, professed love of Black
people, and claimed he was animated by anger at the suppression of
honest debate on racial politics, unable to share "my thoughts or
sentiments" about slavery in polite society.

Slavers cast anti-slavery rhetoric as "orthodoxy" and cast themselves as
realists who were willing to speak truth to power.

Does that sound familiar?

The abolition movement – including Lincoln – focused on these slavery
apologists, understanding that they provided the cover for the
continuation of slavery.

Lincoln insisted that Douglas go beyond lamenting the angry rhetoric of
abolitionists and instead describe what he stood for – beyond his
support of slavers' right to "choose how they wanted to live."

He demanded that Douglas go beyond his campaign speeches against "mob
rule" and state plainly whether he wanted an America with or without

In her Washington Post op-ed, Eve Fairbanks suggests that we do the same
for the "reasonable right" – pin them down. Sure, you don't like "cancel
culture," but what do you stand for? What kind of world do you want?


🍌 Boris Johnson has coronavirus

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has coronavirus.


Under Johnson's leadership, the UK pursued a month-long plan to turn the
nation into a giant pox-party, hoping to attain quick "herd immunity."

He was following a promising strategy devised for less-lethal,
less-contagious flus, which was manifestly unsuited to coronavirus, as
experts argued at the time. As a result, infections now rage out of
control in the UK.


During the planning of this "herd immunity" strategy, Johnson's chief
advisor Dominic Cummings acknowledged that it would likely murder
elderly people: "if that means some pensioners die, too bad."


After Johnson tested positive for coronavirus, Cummings was seen fleeing
Number 10 Downing Street at a dead run.



🍌 Reasonable covid food-safety advice

There's a viral (ugh) video going around in which an MD in scrubs (at
home!) shows you what you should do when you come back from the grocery
store. It's frankly terrifying. It's also wrong.

As Don Schaffner, a food microbiologist, notes in his thread, not only
is this advice wrong, it could make you very sick — either because you
ate the soap that you washed your food in, or because you left your
groceries on your stoop for 3 days.


There's no evidence that washing your food with soap will kill
coronavirus, and even less evidence that you can get the virus from
eating. There is, however, millennias' worth of evidence that you can
die from food poisoning.

Schaffner's advice for groceries boils down to: wash your hands before
and after grocery shopping. Wipe down the cart handle. Shop efficiently.
Keep your distance from other shoppers.

You know, common sense.


🍌 San Francisco cocktail delivery

Hey, San Francisco! Craving a cocktail? The DNA Lounge will deliver a
mason jar's worth (~3 servings) of Black Manhattan (w/Slow and Low honey
& orange infused rye), Sazerac, brown sugar margarita (w/a little
orange) or lavender lemonade gin cooler.


The DNA is a San Francisco institution, one that runs on a shoestring
and is continuing to pay its employees, even as other SF venues (snapped
up by predatory corporate behemoths) shut down.


They've also got a bunch of livestream events coming up, including a
benefit for the Gay Gaming Professionals, a Death Guild set, and Hubba
Hubba Revue's Burlesquerpiece Theatre.


🍌 Flu pandemic photos

During the 1918 flu pandemic, California went on lockdown. The governor
ordered statewide shutdowns, and "mask slackers" who refused to wear
masks faced arrest.


The California Sun has rounded up an amazing set of images of California
life during the 1918 flu from libraries, museums, and other sources," in
gorgeous hi-rez.


🍌 Free hi-rez covid stock art

If this image seems familiar, that's because it's one of the only
open-licensed images of the novel coronavirus, courtesy of the CDC. It's
been used millions of times in just a few weeks.


An effects house called Covert has stepped in to fill the visual gap
with a collection of gorgeous,crazy hi-rez covid renders: "No licensing,
royalties or any credit is required for their use."



🍌 Warren campaign frees its software

Elizabeth Warren's campaign has released seven of its sophisticated
campaigning tools as free/open software.


The Warren campaign had a large cohort of software developers and
created a suite of outstanding tools, as well as making improvements to
standard tools, including improvements to the texting tool Spoke that
reduces the cost of using it by ~97%!


The projects are hosted on Github:


This isn't just an opportunity for campaigns, but also for small shops
that provide integration and support to them. Obviously election
campaigning is in a mess at the moment, but this is seismic.


🍌 This day in history

#15yrsago Nepali media crackdown thwarted by bloggers

#10yrsago LibDem MPs won't fight for debate on Digital Economy Bill

#5yrsago Top homeland security Congressjerk only just heard about
crypto, and he doesn't like it

#5yrsago NSA-proof passwords

#5yrsago Welfare encourages entrepreneurship

#5yrsago Here's the TSA's stupid, secret list of behavioral terrorism

#5yrsago San Francisco Sheriff's Deputy ring accused of pit-fighting

#1yrago Elizabeth Warren's latest campaign plank is a national
Right-to-Repair law for farm equipment

#1yrago Mystery solved: why has a beach in France been blighted by
washed-up parts for toy Garfield phones for more than 30 years?

#1yrago McDonald's will drop opposition to increases in the federal
minimum wage

#1yrago Front-line programmers default to insecure practices unless they
are instructed to do otherwise

#1yrago Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez schools Republicans on the true costs
and beneficiaries of the Green New Deal


🍌 Colophon

Today's top sources: Naked Capitalism (https://nakedcapitalism.com/),
Slate Star Codex (https://slatestarcodex.com/), Kottke
(https://kottke.org), Advertising Pics
(https://advertisingpics.tumblr.com/), Fipi Lele.

Currently writing: I'm getting geared up to start work my next novel,
"The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and reconciliation.

Currently reading: Just started Lauren Beukes's forthcoming Afterland:
it's Y the Last Man plus plus, and two chapters in, it's amazeballs.
Last month, I finished Andrea Bernstein's "American Oligarchs"; it's a
magnificent history of the Kushner and Trump families, showing how they
cheated, stole and lied their way into power. I'm getting really into
Anna Weiner's memoir about tech, "Uncanny Valley." I just loaded Matt
Stoller's "Goliath" onto my underwater MP3 player and I'm listening to
it as I swim laps.

Latest podcast: Data – the new oil, or potential for a toxic oil spill?

Upcoming appearances:

* Quarantine Book Club, April 1, 3PM Pacific

* Museums and the Web, April 2, 12PM-3PM Pacific https://mw20.museweb.net/

Upcoming books: "Poesy the Monster Slayer" (Jul 2020), a picture book
about monsters, bedtime, gender, and kicking ass. Pre-order here:

(we're having a launch for it in Burbank on July 11 at Dark Delicacies
and you can get me AND Poesy to sign it and Dark Del will ship it to the
monster kids in your life in time for the release date).

"Attack Surface": The third Little Brother book, Oct 20, 2020.

"Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new
introduction by Edward Snowden: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583

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*When live gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla* -Joey "Accordion Guy"

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