At a Mother’s Day gathering yesterday I overheard conversations repeated in backyards and pool decks across the land: the restaurant workers on whom we depend to wear the masks we don’t and who catch COVID in exchange for cooking, bussing, or delivering our food get better money from taxpayers in the form of relief packages. Moreover, they don’t want to go back. Continue reading
Counting on Florida (the state with the prettiest name!) to match or surpass the limits of human imbecility should be a spectator sport. A Miami-Dade private school has made clear it will not keep employees who have gotten jabbed and who preach the Gospel of Fauci-ism:
Leila Centner, who co-founded the school with husband David Centner, warned that vaccinated persons “may be transmitting something from their bodies” that could harm others, particularly the “reproductive systems, fertility, and normal growth and development in women and children.”
Centner acknowledged in the email that the information is “new and yet to be researched.” Still, she asked employees who have not taken a COVID vaccine to wait until the end of the school year. She also recommended that faculty and staff hold off on taking the injection “until there is further research available on whether this experimental drug is impacting unvaccinated individuals.”
“It is our policy, to the extent possible, not to employ anyone who has taken the experimental COVID-19 injection until further information is known,” Centner wrote in the email to parents.
Behold the fruits of federalism; also, the fruits of living in an at-will state. At some point the Biden administration will have to enforce vaccinations lest we allow rural counties to consign unfilled vaccines to the rubbish bin. Meanwhile the virus does not pause for bereavement. Florida reported 3500 cases yesterday. Keep in mind: weekends are slowest for reports. Our average has hovered between 5000 and 7000 cases a day since late February. Unacceptable. Meanwhile the political press covers Ron DeSantis by taking him at his word about his success to Keep Florida Open.
Loath as I am to treat this thing as a deadline or as if it set to a metronome, I became fully vaccinated at 12:01 a.m. this morning. The CDC’s guidelines kick in. Not much will change. I won’t freak out during rare moments when a jogger or another walker crosses my path in the mornings (risks were minimal anyway). I’ll likely resume careful outdoor dining, mostly lunch so as to avoid crowds. I would like to figure out a dating protocol that doesn’t require me to say, “Hi! Show me your vaccination card, please” (if it comes down to this, readers, I won’t object). My grandmother won’t ask for the hundredth time why I mask. To her credit the ninety-six-year-old has kept her wit. “From the nose up it’s Alfred,” she said when asked if she recognizes me. “From the nose down I don’t know who the hell you are.” Continue reading
Fought in Virginia’s Dinwiddie County, the Third Battle of Petersburg resulted in nine thousand casualties days before Robert E. Lee surrendered Confederate forces to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox. The Southern traitors knew defeat was imminent, yet sent these young men to die regardless.
None of the attack lines seemed to resonate with voters, who began receiving stimulus checks as early as last weekend and appear overwhelmingly supportive of the law. A CBS-YouGov survey released on Sunday showed 71 percent of adults believe the American Rescue Plan will benefit the middle class more than wealthy Americans. The bill’s passage coincides with an uptick in vaccinations and recognition from Democrats and allied teachers unions that schools need to reopen soon — which together have the potential for improving the electoral landscape for Democrats as they try to keep both chambers of the Congress.
That’s left the GOP with little left to do but bank on the possibility that voters will, over time, simply forget the ways in which the law impacted them.
“I think once the sugar high of the stimulus checks wears off — as much as they are needed and are important — the bill is going to sink itself over time, if it’s remembered at all,” said another Senate GOP aide. “It’s at the peak of its popularity right now and the more it becomes unpopular we’ll pound against them,” added another.
Inside the White House, the absence of a sustained GOP pushback to the bill did not come as a particular shock.
Aides had long felt that Biden had the upper hand and that Trump had tied his own party in political knots. The former president had pushed for Congress to pass $2,000 direct checks in December and blasted Republican leaders, like then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, when they declined to include them in a relief package. He had also added trillions of dollars to the deficit through a mix of tax breaks to the wealthy and Covid-related legislation with little pushback from his party. What credible argument could Republicans attempt to put forward that would resonate with Americans and enough Democrats to block the package, Biden aides wondered.
Hoping the bill gets unpopular is like hoping Ronald Reagan got dropped off at Capitol Hill. The bill will not get unpopular. Last night I got my stimulus check deposited in my account; I plan to stimulate the economy by paying for long-delayed home repairs. Meanwhile the Tallahassee Lickspittle, after telling predecessor and rival Rick Scott to shove it, has no qualms about accepting COVID relief dough so long as he crow about Fiscal Responsibility:
DeSantis on Tuesday outlined $4.1 billion in spending he has proposed to House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate President Wilton Simpson for the current and next fiscal years. Money also would go toward issues such as boosting state tourism marketing efforts and bringing in new recruits to the Florida National Guard. “We are certain that appropriations are eligible to be made to deliver meaningful relief to Floridians and businesses and to protect the state’s fiscal health,” DeSantis wrote to the legislative leaders. “Florida’s fiscal outlook has improved from the worst-case projections during the pandemic.”
No doubt he will take credit for responsible stewardship during his 2022 reelection campaign and inevitable presidential run two years later. He must understand that, although he’ll try, he can’t denounce the Biden administration’s wantonness without covering himself in drool.
Look, count me among the leftists disappointed if not angered at the casualness with which Joe and the Manchins swatted away the $15 minimum wage from the American Rescue Plan. Even a “compromise” at eleven bucks an hour does little to nothing for a languishing service sector, to quote that ubiquitous COVID-era martial metaphor, “on the front lines” as much as doctors and nurses. Continue reading
At the end of the aisle, over which a dingy sign announced the location of eye care products and an uncomputerized product called a cough cold tablet, this Navarro Pharmacy had set up a vaccine waiting area. A rent-a-cop rather sourly flipped through a periodiquito. I settled into my socially distanced lawn chair ready to wait, for although I’d read COVID vaccination appointments are punctual — a rarity in South Florida, where punctuality is as uncommon as arctic air — I brought Walter Kempowski’s Marrow and Bone as a precaution. I caught the last third of Taylor Dayne’s “I’ll Always Love You” over the PA system. Continue reading
Approximately a year ago, I filed the last of my preview blurbs as Miami Film Festival prepared to cancel the rest of its programming six days early. Then we disappeared in the COVID fog. Here we are again, and while the festival has returned for its 38th year to restricted screenings many of its movies will screen virtually. I’m not comfortable yet with the in-person stuff unless I can guarantee only a handful of viewers, which, well, isn’t going to happen (my last theater experience: late February 2020). This means I’ll miss The Human Voice, Pedro Almodóvar’s brief adaptation of the Jean Cocteau play. Continue reading
I’ve seen arguments online based on social media posts that advocate for denying the COVID vaccine(s). In Miami-Dade County, where parents have the option of keeping kids at home, teachers who’ve been stupid enough to post photos at the beach or eating indoors have gotten shamed and, worse, started arguments about who “deserves” the vaccine. To quote Clint Eastwood’s William Munny in Unforgiven, “‘deserve’ has got nuthin’ to do with it.” Citizens with the most exposure to the public should get vaccinated first, insofar as anyone should go first. Continue reading
Addressing reporters in the Oval Office alongside newly confirmed Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Friday, Biden emphasized the urgency of taking sweeping action. “There is no time to delay,” he said. “We have learned from past crises that the risk is not doing too much. The risk is not doing enough.”
Later, asked whether he backed Democratic congressional leaders’ plans to use a fast-track budget process that wouldn’t require Republican votes, Biden said, “I support passing COVID relief with support from Republicans if we can get it. But the COVID relief has to pass. There’s no ifs, ands or buts.”
Democrats, running the Senate with a 50-50 majority made possible only by the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris, are worried that no amount of negotiation will produce a bill acceptable to Democrats that will garner the 10 Republican votes needed to pass. Under ordinary procedures, 60 votes are required to bypass a filibuster.
“Democrats are worried” — few subject-auxiliary-verb structures recur as often in Beltway reporting. This story and others I’ve read suggest, though, that Mr. Bipartisan has no fucks to give. He was, after all, among Barack Obama’s chief negotiators with a GOP that would rather burn their homes down than admit a Democrat visited them:
Haunted by what Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, referred to as the “mistake” of 2009, when the Democratic Party was in control of both chambers and the White House but was “too timid and constrained in its response to the global financial crisis,” top Democrats are pushing to avoid settling for a small package.
“If our Republican colleagues decide to oppose this urgent and necessary legislation, we will have to move forward without them,” Mr. Schumer said, adding that he planned to press ahead with a budget resolution as early as next week.
Don’t tell the NYT editorial board, though.
But in the week’s most chilling news we learn Alex Jones and — get this — Publix supermarket heiress Julie Jenkins Fancelli paid for what the Wall Street Journal calls “the lion’s share” of the Jan. 6 rally that turned into insurrection. Learning that Fanceilli is an evil moron who believed in Stop the Steal is bad enough; Publix’s sweet deal in Palm Beach County to be sole dispenser of the COVID vaccines makes me wish Jupiter would strike us dead already. The supermarket has rescinded the deal and returned the vaccines to county health officials, but
I counted more bodies on campus in the last ten days than in all of Fall 2020: clumps of students basking in the crispness of a January morning, few of whom dicknosed their masks. Following a fall term held mostly online, the university, perhaps fearing a smack from Governor Ron DeSantis, increased the number of undergraduate in-person classes, though not as much as University of Florida upstate: more than 600 percent this semester, even as Covid-19 conditions in Florida (and across the nation) deteriorate. Continue reading
I was supposed to be in Italy last summer, not living Death in Venice. Besides travel, remodeling my kitchen ranked high on my list of priorities for a year that looked in January like a culmination. Now, although I’m lucky enough to have kept the nest egg I’d saved for the job, I can say I’ve read more books than ever, written hundreds of thousands of words, and learned the value of daily walks. Six short stories, 6.2 miles, and War and Peace — not bad for this Age of Anxiety. Continue reading