Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Last Call For The Bites Of Columbus

Columbus, Ohio needs a new favorite son after the city agreed to take the statue of Christopher Columbus down, and who's a better choice than the Mayor of Flavortown?

The city of Columbus, Ohio, has already vowed to bring down its statue of Christopher Columbus. But thousands are hoping to erase the city's connection to Columbus' legacy even further by renaming it Flavortown in honor of Columbus native Guy Fieri. 
As the widespread conversation around police brutality and racial inequality continues into another week, statues of Columbus are being brought down across the nation to bring awareness to the cruelty he brought upon Indigenous people. 
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther announced earlier this week that the statue outside City Hall would be removed and placed in storage. 
"For many people in our community, the statue represents patriarchy, oppression and divisiveness. That does not represent our great city, and we will no longer live in the shadow of our ugly past," Ginther said in a statement, according to CNN affiliate WTTE.
But for Tyler Woodbridge, who spent over seven years of his life in Columbus, the statue's removal wasn't enough. 
"Even though it's my favorite city, I was always a bit ashamed of the name," Woodbridge told CNN. 
So the 32-year-old started a petition to rename the city to Flavortown in honor of Fieri, the celebrity restaurateur who was born in Columbus. Fieri's use of the expression on his various shows on The Food Network has become his signature catchphrase. 
Woodbridge described Fieri as a very "charitable man," pointing to the fact that the famous restaurateur has helped raise more than $20 million for restaurant workers during the pandemic and that he's officiated more than 100 LGBTQ weddings. 
"That kind of optimism and charitable work embodies more of what Columbus, Ohio, is about rather than the tarnished legacy of Christopher Columbus," Woodbridge said. 
But the fact that Flavortown came from Fieri is a bonus and not the main reason why he's pushing for the name, Woodbridge said. Describing the city as a "melting pot" of different cultures and nationalities, Woodbridge said the name would honor the city's "proud heritage as a culinary crossroads and one of the nation's largest test markets for the food industry," according to the petition. 
As of Sunday afternoon, more than 17,400 have signed the petition and it grabbed the attention of Budweiser, which offered to give out free Bud Light Seltzer to all the city's residents if the name is officially changed to Flavortown.

Now I don't expect Columbus to actually rename itself to Flavortown anytime soon, but a "Welcome to Flavortown, USA" official nickname would certainly be a hell of a marketing opportunity, a way to honor Fieri, and a way to acknowledge the city's growing culinary scene.

Mr. Woodbridge should bring his petition before the Columbus Chamber of Commerce. I'm sure they'd be happy to accommodate him.

We'll Fry The Science Guys

The Trump regime has decided that the sacrificial lambs for the regime's now completely failed response to the nation's COVID-19 epidemic will be the sacrificial lab coats that the regime refused to listen to in the first place.

White House officials are putting a target on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, positioning the agency as a coronavirus scapegoat as cases surge in many states and the U.S. falls behind other nations that are taming the pandemic. 
Trump administration aides in recent weeks have seriously discussed launching an in-depth evaluation of the agency to chart what they view as its missteps in responding to the pandemic including an early failure to deploy working test kits, according to four senior administration officials. Part of that audit would include examining more closely the state-by-state death toll to tally only the Americans who died directly of Covid-19 rather than other factors. About 120,000 people in the U.S. have died of the coronavirus so far, according to the CDC’s official count. 
Aides have also discussed narrowing the mission of the agency or trying to embed more political appointees within it, according to interviews with 10 current and former senior administration officials and Republicans close to the White House. One official said the overall goal would be to make the CDC nimble and more responsive.
Politically, Trump aides have also been looking for a person or entity outside of China to blame for the coronavirus response and have grown furious with the CDC, its public health guidance and its actions on testing, making it a prime target. But some wonder whether the wonky-sounding CDC, which the administration directly oversees, could be an effective fall guy on top of Trump’s efforts to blame the World Health Organization. 
“WHO is an easy one,” said one former administration official. “It is foreign body in Switzerland. CDC will be tough to create a bogeyman around for the average voter.” 
The moves are among the White House’s efforts to deflect attacks on President Donald Trump and place them elsewhere in the federal bureaucracy. Protecting the president is seen as increasingly important by political aides as the general election approaches in just over four months and criticism mounts from former Vice President Joe Biden, other Democrats and even former national security adviser John Bolton who say the blame rests squarely on Trump himself. 
The efforts risk backfiring if they blame career health experts at the CDC whose warnings early in the crisis were dismissed by Trump and his top aides as fearmongering.

Juliette Kayyem, a former Obama-era Homeland Security official who aided the 2009 H1N1 pandemic response, said it can be valuable for agencies to revisit their performance following a crisis — but that there’s no reason to single out the CDC. 
“When the history books are written about this crisis, is anyone actually going to believe that America’s abysmal performance and its high death rate was because of some bureaucratic impediment at the CDC?" Kayyem said. “The core of America's problem is a White House that clearly was not pressed into action in January. And every flaw — from CDC and testing to FEMA and the stockpiles to the supply chain and the states — every systemic problem is rooted in White House malfeasance."

The discussion is ongoing about the best way to revamp an agency White House aides view as distant from the West Wing — and filled with government career officials who do not respect or follow the Trump agenda.

It's a trifecta for the regime: they get a scapegoat, they clear out the experts and civil servants from yet another federal agency and replace everyone with yes men, and they can then cast doubt on the CDC's virus statistics and say the numbers of deaths and cases are wrong and that really everything's fine (and future numbers would be guaranteed to be "fine".)

I'm honestly surprised the CDC hasn't been wiped clean to begin with.  I guess with Senate Republicans facing the very real possibility of losing control of the chamber in January, suddenly stopping Trump from putting people in the CDC who will make tens of thousands of COVID-19 deaths go away seems like a bad idea.

Oh, and Trump's declaration at his Tulsa rally over the weekend that he wanted COVID-19 testing slowed down in order to "stop the numbers from going up" wasn't a joke, like the White House is trying to pass off.  It's real, as the regime is ending federal testing in Texas and 12 other states this month.

The Trump administration is ending funding and support for local COVID-19 testing sites around the country this month, as cases and hospitalizations are skyrocketing in many states.

The federal government will stop providing money and support for 13 sites across five states which were originally set up in the first months of the pandemic to speed up testing at the local level.
Local officials and public health experts expressed a mixture of frustration, resignation, and horror at the decision to let federal support lapse.

Texas will be particularly hard hit by the decision. The federal government gives much-needed testing kits and laboratory access to seven testing sites around Texas. But in the state, which is seeing new peaks in cases, people still face long lines for testing that continues to fail to meet overwhelming demand.

In Dallas County, Texas, the federal government will end support on June 30 for two testing sites it has been been supporting since March, Rocky Vaz, the director of emergency management for the city of Dallas, confirmed to TPM.
“Cases are continuing to rise in Dallas County, and we want to continue with the testing,” Vaz said.

The city of Dallas asked the federal government for an extension beyond June 30, but was refused, Vaz said.

“They told us very clearly that they are not going to extend it,” Vaz said. “We are not expecting it to continue beyond June 30, but things change.”

And on the circus goes.

Our Little White Supremacist Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

The main problem with the armed terrorists that continue to use the threat of violence to disenfranchise black and brown voters and to terrorize local and state lawmakers in order to get their way is the fact that Republicans keep openly siding with the terrorists.

Under the Idaho Constitution, only the governor can call a special session of the Legislature — but the Idaho Freedom Foundation and an unregistered political action committee are calling one for Tuesday morning aimed at overturning the governor’s executive orders on the coronavirus pandemic, and roughly a dozen far-right House Republicans reportedly plan to participate.

Ammon Bundy says a group of his armed supporters will provide “crowd control” for the event, set to kick off at 9 a.m. at the state Capitol.

“We’re going to make sure that legislators don’t have any trouble and everybody is good and peaceful,” he said, adding that Idaho State Police likely will be there as well. Asked why additional security is needed if ISP will be present, he said, “What if they put their knee on someone’s neck? Who’s going to stop them?”

ISP Chief Kedrick Wills didn’t respond to a request for comment on Monday.

Asked if an armed takeover of the state Capitol was possible, Bundy, who led the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in 2016 but was acquitted of all charges related to the 41-day occupation, said, “I sure hope it doesn’t have to go to that level.”
No senators are planning to participate, and the Senate GOP leadership sent a memo out to all Republican senators dated June 6, signed by all four of its leadership members, saying the proposed “special session” is both illegal and unconstitutional.

The Idaho Freedom Foundation, whose president, Wayne Hoffman, didn’t respond to a reporter’s inquiries on Monday, commissioned a legal opinion by two Arizona attorneys that was issued June 11, theorizing that a combination of Cold War-era state laws about the continuity of Idaho’s state government after a nuclear attack and viewing the COVID-19 pandemic as an “enemy attack” on Idaho by China justify legislators calling themselves into a special session — and ignoring the Idaho Constitution’s requirements for a quorum and other rules for legislative sessions.
Bruce Skaug, former Nampa City Council president and a personal injury attorney, was the Idaho attorney who consulted with the two Arizona lawyers. He’s also currently running for the Legislature.

Skaug said he found the legal arguments “plausible,” and he supports the idea of a special session. “But we do not need armed people showing up at the Capitol,” he said. “I had not heard anything about that happening.”

In a Facebook video, Bundy called for crowds to turn out at the Capitol starting at 8 a.m. “You need to take the day off,” he told supporters in the video. “We’re going to try to get in the building and get the legislators in there so they can hold their session in the building.”

“We want 500, 600, 1,000, 2,000, we want that many people there,” Bundy said. “This is something that will affect Idaho and will transpire all throughout the country.”

Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, has been touting the self-called special session idea in legislative newsletters, and has even espoused using such a session to impeach the governor.

Never mind the fact that Gov. Brad Little is also a Republican.

But these guys are out of their minds.  Justifying a fake special session of the legislature because COVID-19 was an "enemy attack" and then showing up with rifles? This is exactly the type of idiocy I've been warning about for years now, and this could get ugly fast if the Bundy clan decides examples need to be made of insufficiently loyal Republicans.

We'll find out how this goes, but I don't expect things to be pretty this morning.


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