AG Barr under scrutiny for role in ouster of U.S. Attorney in New York

Chuck Rosenberg and Frank Figliuzzi join Andrea Mitchell to discuss the weekend firing of U.S. attorney Geoffrey Berman, who’s office in the Southern District of New York had conducted investigations into some of President Trump’s allies.
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Lather, Rinse, Repeat Ad Infinitum

So about six weeks ago, we were waiting for something good to happen.

My husband David is in between bullet points on his resume – it’s set up like a very long leave of absence and we are fine, but it’s a frustrating and confusing process in the Trumpizoic-COVID19 Era. You may find out more about him at Geeky Ramblings.

If you look at my Twitter timeline, you’ll see a really long pinned thread that documents my day-to-day (or minute-to-minute) experience of the Coronavirus Crisis.

The most helpful link I could offer is the Illinois Department of Public Health page that updates daily with Gov. Pritzker’s updates on the state response. As of 5pm yesterday the state is on “shelter at home” status.

As of yesterday, Saturday March 21:

As of today, Sunday March 22:

Yikes. This week is going to be rough.

You should check your state’s health department page, or the CDC page. Pay no attention to the orange shitgibbon flinging dung from the White House press podium. He has nothing useful, let alone accurate, to say.

As the numbers increase, it’s important to keep track of how quickly the DEATH numbers DOUBLE. Research on your own, but the rule of thumb seems to be that doubling every 3 days or less is BAD and will steepen the curve of mortality. The goal of staying home, and sheltering in place, is to slow the rate of infection and increase the number of days it takes before the mortality rate doubles. This will help to #FlattenTheCurve and keep our health care system from being flooded out and overwhelmed.

We as a country are trying not to lose our shit, and there are signs that people are responding in creative and positive ways – online singalongs, sharing recipes for bread and making simple masks to donate to hospitals to save the medical-grade respirator masks for the front lines in this war. I read where shuttered Broadway show casts have offered spontaneous performances before the state of New York locked down, and some of the costume and fashion community is gearing up to make masks (hospitals have requested donations but they’re aimed more at the worried well for now, though they are washable and compliant with CDC guidelines).

I went out yesterday just to get out of the house, before the state-mandate to shelter in place took effect, and visited the local ALDI, which was interesting, along with da Jewel. No paper products, no bread, very little in the way of cleaning supplies. No flour, either (about that, see below). Who ARE these profiteering assholes? We were already set for at least a week, but I did get some “nice to have” nonessentials: honey, popcorn, CLIF nutrition bars, deli meats and cheese. We’re ordering takeout tonight (and will tip generously, a welcome trend).

I’m thinking about doing a vegetable garden for the first time in about 5 years, but would have to plan carefully to choose stuff that I could possibly can – like tomatoes. Or cucumbers? David LOVES “new” pickles. Maybe onions again. Carrots? Haven’t touched the compost bin, it’s probably a horror show.

Apparently, we’re on a war footing, as Trump can’t function without an adversary to deflect on. He delayed invoking the Defense Protection Act for requiring manufacturers to switch to making medical supplies? Why? And then when Trump finally invoked it, he declined to actually exercise the powers. WHY? Meanwhile, it appears that the feds are outbidding state procurement agencies as they make new bulk orders, while distributing expired equipment to states in lower amounts than requested. Except for red state Florida, which got everything it requested. WHY? The Washington Post and other papers are covering this, and more.

This Twitter thread has the timeline of the Trump administration’s inaction dating from when the Chinese government notified our CDC leadership on JANUARY 3.

The US Government, via the CDC and the National Security Council and the HHS, had the heads up on the “novel coronavirus” in early January, and could have passed the alert to the greater medical community, the various federal AND STATE emergency response entities, manufacturers of PPE (personal protective equipment) and manufacturers of equipment like ventilators and other breathing apparatus. Did it raise the alarm? #ItDidNot

Meanwhile, the entire country is trying to figure out new ways to work, struggling to find activities for children at home after school closures, struggling with sudden unemployment, and coping with illness of themselves or loved ones. It’s going to get unbelievably harder to handle this, with such an erratic and unstable “commander” in control of the ship of state. People feel isolated and are looking to find some kind of community.

At the time of writing, 10am Sunday 22MAR, it’s supposed to be Sunday Eucharist at Holy Moly. We would be singing the first hymn (though to be honest we usually start late). But we’re all home on our own, coping with the oddity of a Sunday “off” in the normally busy season of Lent. According to the official announcement from the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, all in-person worship is suspended through Easter,

Later, Bishop Lee added a short personal video:

And last night, just before the official statewide order took effect, Father Manny offered a short prayer service via Facebook Live on the church Facebook page.

I managed to attend this along with about 16 others. It seemed to go well but I was admonished by my choir buddy Mike for not doing social distancing properly.

Earlier this morning I texted choir leader Mary to check in, as I knew she’d be listening to “With Heart and Voice” on WFMT:

Suddenly my entire social set has lit up every communication channel – my cycling friends are fretting at the thought of no group rides just as better weather is coming, but also brainstorming how to help a friend move next week, and noting that riding a bike solo is specifically allowed along with walking, hiking, and running outside. And we also reassured each other that bike shops are essential services and are remaining open (though maybe with reduced hours).

My friend who’s moving next Saturday is in a panic, because she thinks that she’ll get us all in trouble if we’re driving to her apartment next week. She’s Brazilian-American, so when she called me yesterday I greeted her with a cheery “Bom dia, my friend, what can I do for you?” The relief and delight in her voice was evident; everyone that can be there will be, with dollies and handtrucks – no more than 10 people. We even had someone check with a lawyer to ensure that helping a friend who’s moving is probably covered. Realistically, I don’t think any of us will be stopped by the STFH brigade. And it’s not going to take long: it’s from one part of the complex to another, though we may move big batches of stuff via car as it’s evidently a sprawling place.

After a long, long hiatus, I returned to Facebook just to share important and vetted news items, and then yesterday started reconnecting with friends and family all over. Suddenly, everyone is baking bread because of certain idiotic panic stockpilers, so I reviewed a couple of new recipes that were being passed around in the Highlander fan pages because Elizabeth Gracen, a former star of the series (and of a spinoff series, The Raven) passed this along:

This “Jenny Can Cook” is so fun to watch – and she adds some hilarious asides. I have ALL the equipment she uses and more – this looks incredibly easy and uses dry yeast (have a jar full in the fridge). Meanwhile, I brought my months-neglected sourdough starter back from the dead.

And since we have bread on hand (it freezes well) I will wait to use this until next week, or keep it fed weekly if I make Jenny’s recipe instead. And yes, that’s former talk show host Jenny Jones – who notes “This dough is very forgiving…unlike some people.” It’s worth subscribing just for that excellent content alone.

If anyone of my local friends wants some sourdough starter, hit me up. I have more inactive starter in reserve and can pass it along.

What else? In family news – everyone as far as I know is doing okay and dealing with the lockdown here in IL. I had some frustration with several someones, who shall remain nameless, who didn’t see the value in voluntarily limiting interaction and practicing social distancing. But now that the Guv has made the terms clear, it’s good. I’m a little concerned about family in other states who’s governors have been slower to adopt the notion of containment by staying put, but they seem to be alright. At least one family member is on the front lines, though, so I need to check in.

I found out that the public library was closed when I went to drop off the books I had borrowed. Sometime on the 12MAR, a patron or employee was there who was later tested positive for COVID-19. They closed the next day (probably unaware of the exposure the previous day, but the last time I visited was well before that.

I’ve been listening to A METRIC SHIT-TON of podcasts, streaming radio like WFMT and WBEZ and KUNC and WBUR, and watching live things on Twitter. Here are a couple of things that really got me through the day yesterday.

  • NPR’s Scott Simon hosted an effective, and very affecting, live video reading a children’s book, and his friend Rick Bayless called in on another phone via FaceTime or something, and became part of the show. Honestly, it was so life affirming.
  • Pod Save America is always good, but another of their podcasts, Lovett or Leave It hosted by Jon Lovett, was AMAZING as he was joined by his spouse, author and investigative journalist Ronan Farrow. It was so, so funny as he now calls people who leave messages about problems in a feature called “Love in the Time of Corona.” The video version should be archived as a classic.

In other entertaining entertainment news – we’re hooked on Picard, and got Dad hooked, but now we feel like we shouldn’t go over and bring the Apple TV and takeout along because we don’t want to risk bringing them the equivalent of the Romulan flu. It’s starting to emerge that many, many people are asymptomatic for a long time, or the whole time, when infected with COVID-19 so we don’t want to risk it. Until we can test, and they can test, clear of the virus, we’re hunkering down. My father-in-law Shel will just have to settle for the 1 free week with CBS Discovery and binge it after the last new episode airs Thursday. Thank God it’s been renewed.

I may haul out a really horrific Puzz-3D puzzle later if things get d//esperate. I used to enjoy doing 2D puzzles, but honestly I don’t think we have the patience or skill right now to put the Millennium Falcon together.

In the meantime, please follow the rules of social distancing, washing hands with full lather for 20 seconds, and trying not to touch face/mouth/eyes. Stay safe and be as healthy as you can manage. Think good thoughts for the sick, and be kind and generous. We will get through this as long as we stay strong and #FlattenTheCurve.

Ampersand! Ampersand! Ampersand! My Life Is One Big “And…”

We’re in a holding pattern here at Chez Gique, waiting for something to happen – a good thing, just hasn’t happened yet. And it’s hard to be patient, and it’s hard not to hyperfocus on “when will we know happens next,” and it’s hard to keep spirits up and positive.

So in the meantime, other than the fact that a narcissistic madman is running the country, what else is going on?

Well, it’s currently hard to type words like “currently,” “hard,” or “words,” because the “R” key on my iPad Mini Rugged Zagg book is missing a keycap, and as it’s a really old Mini, it’s not worth buying a whole new one. I’m making do for now, rather than using either my (elderly) laptop or my (not as elderly) desktop. The Mini is way more comfortable for lounging on the couch, on the bed, or keeping nearby during the day.

I sent away for a repair kit from that finally arrived today, and I has a sad: I did NOT order an exact match for the little doodads that go under the keycap. There are a lot of ZAGG keyboards on their page and I thought I had narrowed down the best match, but no. Thanks for playing. So I sent off an email to the seller, not expecting a refund, just to see if they have a suggestion. I already tried a low tech repair that did not work, so will make do for now.

In other news of interest to nobody but me, the family seems to be okay here; my extended family back in the Intermountain West is doing well and growing, friends are okay. It’s hard to be more specific than that, because in the winter we don’t get together as often – especially my cycling friends, though we have an active chitchat always going in Facebook Messenger. There may be something going on Sunday for an outdoor activity in the cold, but (fortunately) I’m committed for Sunday mornings until after Easter over at Holy Moly.

I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts and news via TuneIn and Stitcher lately. I’m currently listening to “Catch and Kill” by Ronan Farrow, which is a companion to his book of the same name – which I haven’t read yet. It’s still interesting because it uses Farrow’s audio files of some of his interview subjects, and in some cases, people that he went back and spoke with after the fact to get their reaction to the story. It’s fascinating, and parts of it are harrowing. Voice after voice after voice, women talking about being victimized and then silenced by Harvey Weinstein – thank God he was convicted of at least a couple of the charges against him, and is in prison awaiting sentencing.

I often listen to Pod Save America – in this era I find its snarky yet informative tone helpful. As it turns out, Ronan Farrow is the spouse of one of the PSA hosts, Jon Lovett. Apparently it’s a small world.

Another podcast is really just the audio recording of The Rachel Maddow Show (TRMS) – most nights I watch the show, some nights I watch it via DVR, other times I just listen to audio. Why? Again, I find it comforting in this era. Sometimes TRMS delves deeply into a story, every now and then it goes a little too deeply into the weeds (as in the notorious night when “Trump’s NY State Tax Returns” were sort of released). I appreciate the way Maddow treats guests – it’s one on one, whether they are physically in the studio or via “remote.” Other news show hosts opt for the “panel” approach and they call on people one by one, and sometimes there’s a lot of backchat and jockeying. It can be annoying.

Maybe I watch cable news too much lately – again, due to our current predicament with an actual bully occupying the Bully Pulpit. But I feel this compulsion to be informed, or maybe it’s an obligation to be a witness to history.

For instance, yesterday was History – an impeached president* was acquitted by the spineless bootlickers of the Republican Senate (yes, I’m jaded, and this blogpost was started a few weeks ago and I’m behind). In a pleasant surprise, the junior Senator from Utah, Mitt “Mittens” Romney, voted to convict. For me, as a former Utahn (and scarred by the experience of growing up non-Mormon in Utah) I was actually shocked, and grudgingly had to give Romney props for adhering to his sacred oath of impartialism for the impeachment trial.

Moving on into March, which is already full of madness…

So we’re still waiting for Something Good to Happen, and it’s been a long and bumpy month with ups and downs. Today was a good day, with some good signs and at least an update that one option was not going to work out. More options are still out there and there is positive forward movement.

Meanwhile, Happy Coronavirus Crisis, everybody! I’m in corporate travel and it’s been wild lately with major corporations (some of them our customers) cancelling huge domestic and international meetings, and airlines canceling flights. And we’re still being “led” by a certifiable idiot who’s doing his level best to muddy the water, obscure lines of communication, and push blame on anyone (Obama!) and anything (cruise ships not yet in America!) that he can.

I am reading 3 different books and it’s slow going because I keep getting distracted by current events, workplace stresses, family doings, and anything on TV that has a sexy bald ex-admiral or treasure hunters with more money than sense. I’ll add them in later as I had to update my books plugin the hard way. But I’m reading Rachel Maddow’s book Blowout, Ronan Farrow’s book Catch and Kill, and I may or may not get to a third book that I haven’t even cracked yet.

It’s finally getting closer to spring and I need to get out on my bike. But it’s been cold off and on. Yes? No? Maybe? More & more & more & excuses needed!

Why Was Suleimani Killed? Deep Dive By BBC World Services Adds Surprising Details In Only 23 Minutes

I highly recommend this short 23-minute radio documentary – it covers a lot of surprising details to round out the portrait of Lt. Gen Qasim Suleimani, the commander of Iran’s QUDS force. His assassination via US drone-fired missiles at Teheran’s airport set off a cascade failure of tragedy: Iran fired missiles at US bases, and then  a passenger airliner was shot down in error by Iranian defense forces.

The BBC World Services pulls a lot of narrative threads together, including the surprising fact that just after the 9/11 attacks, the US and Iran were actually cooperating against a mutual enemy in Afghanistan…and Suleimani provided crucial tactical information. But this short respite in the two countries’ contentious relationship ended abruptly in 2003 when Pres. George W. Bush named Iran as a part of his “Axis of Evil” in a speech. No more cooperation. 

Imagine what might have been if we had left that door open instead of slamming it shut. Even all this time later, GWB’s disastrous presidency is still causing human misery.

There’s plenty more covered in the doc – it’s a very thorough look, up to and including the current US presidential campaign, and Trump’s likely motivation for strengthening his position ahead of next week’s impeachment trial in the Senate.

It’s so tragic. Now that Iran has admitted human error, families and governments in Canada, Ukraine, and many other countries will have to mourn, demand compensation, and try to move on. I’ve been trying to avoid news stories showing the aftermath of the crash; a short clip showing a burned stuffed animal absolutely devastated me.

It’s easier to listen than to see, in this case.

I’m better informed on the back story of Lt Gen Suleimani now – he was a very, very, very bad guy. But at one time, for a short year or two, his political aims aligned with ours; the enemy of my enemy is my friend, and that sort of thing. But we Americans made the typical mistake of lacking nuance in how we viewed Iran, maybe filtered by the old dispute over the hostage crisis during the Carter presidency (which we now know was used to Reagan’s advantage). 

What a damn shame. We almost went to war over a stupid mixture of Trump’s ego, his impeachment woes, and posturing on both sides. And 176 innocent people died (plus more that were not so innocent).

Lt Gen Qasem Soleimani of Iran QUDS force

Lt Gen Qasim Suleimani


President Trump’s decision to assassinate Qasem Soleimani came as a shock to America’s foes and allies alike. He was Iran’s top general and has been described as one of the country’s most powerful figures, second only to the Supreme Leader Ayotollah Ali Khamenei. He was, effectively, head of Iran’s foreign policy. He’s been credited as being instrumental in the fight against ISIS but has also been accused of arming and supporting terror groups. But why did Donald Trump order his death?

— Read on

This Is Bad. Really Bad. And Also A Great Distraction

Imagine! A third war about to begin as a distraction from impeachment, polls, North Korea, and everything else that’s going wrong.

Meanwhile, did anyone think to check on whether there were big, mysterious purchase of futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exxhange in the last few days? Just sayin’.

U.S. strike killed Iran Quds Force chief Soleimani: U.S. official

Please Don’t Pardon Blago

Disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich rang in the new year by penning an editorial for a conservative website arguing that current House Democrats who have impeached President Donald Trump also would have tried to impeach Abraham Lincoln.
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