Overcast and brown once again this late-afternoon Monday here in California’s Central Valley, the blowback/blow-around off wildfires burning south of us. Further proof of days like this of being normal.
In another overcast story in California today wasn’t with the weather, but the never-ending COVID pandemic, especially here in the Central Valley, but also surging in the northern part of the state. Same old shit: Areas of hospital ICU bed depletion due to the virus corresponds with a MAGA hatter, anti-vaxx crowd as it’s truly a pandemic of the unvaccinated, despite vast peoples statewide being vaccinated — per the Guardian this afternoon:
Although California has the lowest coronavirus case rate in the country, its agricultural heartland in the Central Valley and its sparse, rural north have case rates that are three or four times higher.
National guard medical teams have been deployed to several hospitals in the valley’s Bakersfield and Kern counties, and to two hospitals in Shasta county in the far north.
“This Delta-related surge has been far beyond anything I thought we would be dealing with, especially with the wide availability of the vaccine,” said Mary Lynn Briggs, an ICU nurse at Mercy hospitals in Bakersfield, where a team of 16 national guard have been deployed.
She and her colleagues have been beaten down by the constant surge of deaths, including the preventable deaths of unvaccinated younger patients — and a few have recently left, she said.
“I don’t know if I can even do this any more,” said Briggs.
A horrid condition so prevalent in so many COVID hotspots nationwide (with the same Red/Blue case/death rates as here), the situation could be considered ‘being normal.’ Horrible, dark humor, I know. And pessimistic as shit, too.
Anyway, and meanwhile back East in DC, Joe Biden didn’t mince words during a speech today throwing fault directly on the Republicans in the debt ceiling shitstorm — good, straight take on the reality:
Biden on the debt limit:
"Let's be clear, not only are Republicans refusing to do their job, they're threatening to use their power to prevent us from doing our job, saving the economy from a catastrophic event. I think, quite frankly, it's hypocritical, dangerous, disgraceful."
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 4, 2021
If the debt ceiling isn’t raised in a couple of weeks, reportedly some bad shit could hit the fan, eventually affecting just about all aspects of American life, from pay for federal workers, payments for Medicare benefits, salaries, tax refunds, Social Security checks and- overall it could mean job losses. In other words, a clusterfuck to the third or fourth power.
Strong pushback from Biden on how Republicans are just acting the shits while knowing the asshole stance they’re making — leaving Democrats holding the bag, and bullshit.
In a speech from the White House, Biden put the blame on Republicans for refusing to join with Democrats in raising the debt limit to pay for debts incurred in the past.
Congressional Republicans are steadfastly refusing to supply any votes to raise the debt limit, Biden said they should vote on bipartisan basis to pay for bills for which both parties are responsible.
“Not only are Republicans refusing to do their job, but they’re threatening to use their power to prevent us from doing our job — saving the economy from a catastrophic event. I think quite frankly it’s hypocritical, dangerous and disgraceful,” Biden said.
Biden said: “Republicans say they will not do their part to avoid this needless calamity. So be it. But they need to stop playing Russian roulette with the US economy.”
Congress has until October 18 to increase the country’s borrowing limit, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned lawmakers last week, a date that is now just two weeks away.
When asked by a reporter if he could guarantee the US won’t hit the debt ceiling, Biden said, “No I can’t — that’s up to Mitch McConnell. … I can’t believe that that would be the end result, because the consequences are so dire. I don’t believe that, but can I guarantee it? If I could, I would, but I can’t.”
Biden said part of the reason Congress needs to raise the debt limit is because of what he described as “reckless tax and spending policies” under the Trump administration.
“Republicans in Congress raised the debt three times when Donald Trump was President, and each time with Democrats’ support. But now they won’t raise it even though they’re responsible for more than $8 trillion in bills incurred in four years under the previous administration,” Biden said.
The President said: “They won’t raise it even though defaulting on the debt would lead to a self-inflicted wound that takes our economy over a cliff and risks jobs and retirement savings, Social Security benefits, salaries for service members, benefits for veterans, and so much more.”
The President said in the days ahead, the American people may see the value of their retirement accounts shrink, interest rates go up and their mortgage and car payments increase.
“As soon as this week, your savings and your pocketbook could be directly impacted by this Republican stunt. It’s as simple as that,” Biden said.
Joe punched not only Republicans, but also made apparent note on a couple of asshole Democrats:
The President defended the lack of a deal on his economic packages and appeared to single out two moderate Democratic senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
“I’ve been able to close the deal with 99-percent of my party. Two, two people, it’s still underway,” Biden told reporters Monday.
He continued, “It’s a process, it’s a process. We’ll get it done.”
Pressed on whether he was specifically calling out Manchin and Sinema, Biden said: “I need 50 votes in the Senate. I have 48.”
And in a contextual scenario, with at least one of those, ‘Two, two people,’ per Biden’s reference, Sinema caught in the toilet, apparently the only place her constituents can face her:
the handwringing over Sinema's bathroom saga misses the point https://t.co/YQ3Mp9hV7j
— Sarah Jones (@onesarahjones) October 4, 2021
Restroom encounters could be a sign of shit coming upon our democracy — Sarah Jones at New York Magazine, also this afternoon:
As senators Kysten Sinema and Joe Manchin hold up passage of the Build Back Better Act, protesters are getting inventive.
In Washington, D.C., several West Virginia natives kayaked up to Manchin’s famous houseboat, seeking an audience with the senator. Arizona activists were even bolder.
In a controversial incident, members of Living United for Change in Arizona, or LUCHA, followed Sinema into a bathroom on the campus of Arizona State University.
“Yesterday’s behavior was not legitimate protest,” Sinema said in a statement released on Monday.
“It is unacceptable for activist organizations to instruct their members to jeopardize themselves by engaging in unlawful activities such as gaining entry to closed university buildings, disrupting learning environments, and filming students in a restroom.”
Sinema has her allies. “Definitely getting $3.5T now,” sniped journalist Bill Scher.
Sinema, wrote Charles Cooke in the National Review, was “pursued by a rabble” of activists “wielding camera-phones and speaking in declarative slogans.” He added, “Where I come from, ‘avoiding’ others while using the lavatory is standard procedure. Being followed into the lavatory by angry crowds is not.”
But Cooke is a columnist, not a senator. The distinction matters.
Sinema and Manchin are accountable to the public, at least in theory, and protesters wanted an audience. People offended by LUCHA’s tactics could argue, credibly, that the group changed nothing; Sinema probably won’t capitulate on trillions of dollars in spending just because protesters followed her into a bathroom.
It’s far too easy, though, to condemn protesters while ignoring a bigger and more important question: If a senator ignores the public, how should voters hold them responsible?
This doesn’t necessarily mean that an activist has to follow an elected official into a bathroom.
Manchin’s protest encounter, for example, was different; nobody cornered him, and the West Virginia senator offered activists a few crumbs of engagement from the deck of his yacht.
Sinema was trying to avoid protesters altogether. Nor is her argument just about the bathroom. It’s much more sweeping.
As articulated in her statement, the campus is — forgive this — a safe space, a “learning environment” that had been “disrupted” by activists.
Even if you think the bathroom should be off-limits, it’s harder to argue that protesters somehow erred by tracking her down on campus.
Call it a learning experience for her. Choose public office, then block your own party’s transformative progressive policy, and people will eventually get mad at you.
Aggressive protest tactics like the one that so incensed Sinema tend to be a symptom of a much larger problem. When people are shut out of a supposedly democratic process, they have no choice but to agitate.
The Senate is a broken institution, one that is hidebound by archaic rules like the filibuster. It is an increasingly expensive proposition to run for office at all, which keeps the Senate in the hands of those who can afford to be there.
Activists aren’t wrong to think that democracy is in decline — and that it is threatened, further, by elected officials like Sinema, who attend expensive fundraising dinners while holding up bills their donors despise.
That anger is valid, and it has to have somewhere to go.
There are options that don’t involve a bathroom stall, but, frankly, there aren’t many, and time is short.
If you’re feeling outrage, reserve the largest share for Sinema.
All Republicans should feel the toilet-room face-off. Piss or get off the can.
And here we are, once again…