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GOP Reps Self-Quarantined After CPAC Coronavirus Scare

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Two Republican congressmen who recently interacted with President Donald Trump are placing themselves in self-quarantine because of potential exposure to the coronavirus.

Reps. Doug Collins of Georgia and Matt Gaetz of Florida have said publicly that they came into contact with a person at the conservative conference CPAC who has since tested positive for the virus.

"This afternoon, I was notified by CPAC that they discovered a photo of myself and the patient who has tested positive for coronavirus," said Collins in a statement. "While I feel completely healthy and I am not experiencing any symptoms, I have decided to self-quarantine at my home for the remainder of the 14-day period out of an abundance of caution. I will follow the recommendations of the House Physician and my office will provide updates as appropriate."

The Florida congressman made a similar announcement on Twitter:



Reporters quickly pointed out that the president has recently come into contact with both Collins and Gaetz.

The Daily Beast's Sam Stein noted:

Gaetz, meanwhile, was seen by the White House press pool boarding Air Force One to travel with the president on Monday.

Bloomberg's Justin Sink also reported that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who placed himself under quarantine on Sunday night for the same reason, also met at the White House on Thursday. He said that White House "officials have stressed that Trump has been religious about hand washing and other precautions."

There's no reason to believe that Gaetz, Cruz, or Collins passed the virus to Trump, since it has not been confirmed that any of them contracted it in the first place. But the totality of the contacts shows how easily such an outbreak could spread and can even impact top officials in the federal government. In Iran, where the outbreak has spiraled out of control, two officials have already died from the infection.

Trump, too, attended CPAC, though it has not been reported that he interacted with the person since diagnosed with the virus. But the Washington Post reported:

Trump was photographed shaking hands with Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, who confirmed that he had been in direct contact with the infected man during the Conservative Political Action Conference last month.

Gaetz was the subject of criticism after he wore a gas mask to congressional proceedings last week as lawmakers passed funding to fight the outbreak. Gaetz voted to approve the measure, even while voicing ridiculous concerns about paying for the funds:

Now his office is trying to say that he wore the mask not to mock the seriousness of the disease but to demonstrate "his concern … on the House Floor."

However, there was no sign at the time that he was taking the issue seriously. And if he was, wearing a gas mask is the last thing he should have done. Officials have urged the public not to wear face masks unless they are themselves infected, and Gaetz's actions could have muddled the message. And when he spoke to TMZ about the matter, he was clearly in a jocular mood:

When asked by TMZ where he got the gas mask from, Gaetz remained coy.

"I gotta keep that confidential…Top secret. You don't wanna know what underground lair I pulled this from. It's not made in China though," he said.

The congressman said he doesn't expect President Trump to follow his lead and get himself a matching gas mask, mostly "based on what it does to the hair."

Just before entering the office building and finishing the impromptu interview, Gaetz decided against advising spring break travelers to cancel their planned trips to Florida.

"In my experience, the things that you consume on spring break will typically kill the coronavirus."


This Week In Crazy: Anti-Gay Chick-Fil-A, Criminal Sexting, And Stormy

Chick-Fil-A causes a dean to dropout, teen sexting leads to anal sex, and paying off a mistress proves your family values.  No, you’re not in Kansas, Dorothy. It’s This Week in Crazy!

5. Ronald Beaty, Jr.

This county commissioner from Cape Cod, Massachusetts is known for putting out some idiotic tweets. However, he took the cake last month when he tweeted out the following:

Beaty posted this tweet, reacting to two LGBTQ members being granted leadership roles in his legislature. Clearly, this Barnstable County resident forgot that Provincetown (a gay Mecca) is in his county. Or perhaps the homophobe knows all too well. So, what did this closeted bigot do when the media scrutiny hit? He pulled his Trump card. “I pretty much only do what President Donald Trump does relative to his social media postings. If it is good enough for our president, whom I support 100 percent, then it is good enough for me as well.” Hear that? Golden showers for Beaty on his next trip to P-Town!

4. Cynthia Newman

Okay, what’s in the chicken at Chick-Fil-A? Chick-Fil-A has a long-standing history of donating millions to companies that push religious agendas…including conversion therapy for homosexuals. And they’re using chicken lovers to bankroll the operation. In fact, now some of their devotees are even willing to commit career suicide. Currently, ten universities have decided against allowing the bigots who own Chick-Fil-A to open up shop on their campus. One of these colleges is Rider University’s College of Business. Their decision not to do business with Chick-Fil-A had Dean Cynthia Newman crowing, “What the cluck!” Ms. Newman  stepped down as dean over what she perceived as an attack on religion. The cock-a-doodle-dean stated, “I endeavor every day to do exactly what Chick-fil-A puts forward as its overarching corporate value: to glorify God.” Newman added a touch of unintentional comedy when she added that all her accomplishments are “God’s working in and through me.”

3. Turning Point USA

I’ve been to a white party, but this past week, Turning Point USA threw a white privilege party. Turning Point USA describes itself as a “youth organization that promotes the principles of fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government.” Naturally, they invited Donald Trump, Jr., some Proud Boys, conspiracy theorist Jack Burkman, and a bunch of other deplorables. The invite to this soiree included a dabbing astronaut and concluded with the Shakespearean-esque, “Dilly dilly.” Things got even more crunk with a drink list that captured the rapey vibe perfectly:

https://twitter.com/jaredlholt/status/1101279663765245952/photo/

Come to think of it, This Week in Crazy regular, Laura Loomer, was there too. Yikes, hope she didn’t have a Kavanaugh along with those red pills she was talking about.

2. Mike Rounds

If you love your spouse, you will not let them know you cheated on them…by any means necessary. That is the marks of a true man and a true president. At least, in the eyes of Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD). Rounds is making the media rounds (see what I did there). The conservative senator is defending President Trump for arranging hush money payoffs with Stormy Daniels while he was on the job.

Rounds has a point. Trump paid off Stormy because he loves his family. It’s the same reason why he slept with her in the first place, right? The South Dakotan senator hit the nail on the head when he concluded, “it has as much to do with trying not to have public discussions about something that is, for him, a private matter that he didn’t want to have discussed with his family.”

1. Brad Klippert

If you thought hickeys leading to sex was a problem, well, sexting is a gateway portal to anal. So says Washington State Rep. Brad Klippert. Washington’s legislature passed House Bill 1742, decriminalizing sexts between minors. This set Klippert off on a rant that would make a gaggle of sailors blush:

Under HB 1742, a minor in possession of explicit content sent from another minor will be charged with a misdemeanor rather than a felony. This bill passed on the grounds that the underage sender knowingly distributed the photo to the consenting minor.According to Klippert, HB 1742 also subjects minors to “oral to genital, anal-genital, oral-anal, whether between persons of the same or opposite sex, or between humans and animals.” He concluded with a stirring rendition of the definition of sodomy. Was it from a text he picked up during his dinner date with Ronald Beaty, Jr. at Chick-Fil-A? Hopefully, they’ll have a lot more to talk about after appearing in This Week in Crazy!

Ramble On: At CPAC, Trump Rants Until Auditorium Starts To Empty

When Donald Trump showed up for his annual appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington on Saturday afternoon, he must have anticipated a happy ending to a very bad week. Here seated before him were thousands of buzzing cult followers, eager to rise and applaud repeatedly even as he rambled on inanely for hours. Scheduled to speak for 50 minutes, according to the CPAC schedule, Trump just couldn’t tear himself away from the “love” in that big hotel ballroom, as he put it. So he just didn’t stop for a long, long time.

Well before he finally did stop, however, people started to stream out of the ballroom — just around the moment when his meandering remarks turned to crowd size, one of his favorite topics. It was amazing to hear him boast that nobody had left while he spoke, even as he watched them walking out the doors — and then to hear him predict that the media would report people had left, as if it were untrue. (At that point, someone in the rear yelled, “Fake news!”)

That scary little moment showed again how Trump gaslights his base and how susceptible they are to his tricks. No doubt those who walked out while he was talking would later agree with the president that nobody had out. Anyone who laments the loss of presidential dignity would find no agreement among these fine people, bless their hearts. They jump up and cheer when they hear him scream “Bullshit!” and “We kicked their ass!”

As for the speech itself, we’ve all heard most of this guff before. Trump remains obsessed with many of the same matters that have preoccupied him for years, from the number of rubes who attended his inauguration to his theory that tariffs can make America rich. At first, the speech text focused on trade policy — with Trump hilariously claiming that he personally had “found” several dusty US statutes that justified his tariffs — but soon veered “off script.” He had won the presidency by going off script, he gibed, and he isn’t about to change.

Perpetually self-indulgent, Trump just lets it all hang out. And in recognition of that stream-of-consciousness style, let’s not pretend that he delivered a coherent speech at CPAC — and instead, simply note a series of moments:

Early on he reminded us that his election in 2016 “was the greatest of all time.”

He reasserted the wisdom of firing FBI director James Comey, a “bad cop” who “did a horrible job…Everybody hated him.”

He wanted to be sure we know all the reasons why Robert Mueller should not be investigating him, including that he wanted to be FBI director, that “Comey is his best friend…and those are a few of the conflicts.”

When the Supreme Court overturns Obamacare, he promised, “we will get together with the Democrats” to bring America “really great health care.” (That sounds very familiar.)

Blasting the “socialist” Democrats, he explained: “Socialism is only about one thing. Socialism is about power for the ruling class.” (But obviously it’s not socialism to appoint a cabinet of billionaires.)

He renewed his ridiculous claim that Mexican drug cartels flourish because ICE “doesn’t have a border wall behind them.”

Mocking Senators, including Republicans, he lispingly noted that they’re “concerned about precedent” set by his national emergency declaration. Well, he’s concerned about murderers and rapists flooding across the border.

By the way, we have to fix “our broken immigration system,” especially “chain migration.” Please don’t tell Grandpa Drumpf — or Melania’s parents.

He complained that media saw midterm election as “a humiliating defeat” for him, when it was truly a great victory. “I wasn’t running!” he cries. (Although he told everyone to vote as if he was.)

Never ever call those other people “the Democratic party,” Trump instructed. Always call them “the Democrat party” — because “it sounds bad.” (He’s really a “conservative” now, see?)

There can be no collusion, he argued, because Melania once said: “You never spoke to anyone from Russia, darling!” (OK, forget collusion. Does anyone believe she called him “darling”?)

The failed summit with Kim Jong Un was “very productive…And we haven’t given him anything yet.” (Except for exactly what the dictator wanted.)

We should feel sorry for Trump, not the Warmbier family, according to the president. Although he lampooned their suffering, he loves the Warmbiers, including their late son Otto. But he needed to suck up to Kim, whose regime tortured Otto to death. “I’m in a horrible position,” Trump said.

You can read the whole thing here, if you have those tendencies.

You’ll Never Think About Media The Same Way Again After Watching This Documentary

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

Nearly 30 years before President Trump’s press gaggle last Friday, Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman authored Manufacturing Consent, a book that radically redefined mass media’s relationship with the state.

Now, in the age of fake news and alt facts, Democracy Now! co-founder Amy Goodman and animator Pierangelo Pirak have teamed up to give new life to the world renowned linguist and media analyst’s famed work.

“Propaganda,” Goodman begins in her narration of the cartoon. “Many use the word when talking about countries like North Korea, Kazakhstan, Iran … countries viewed as authoritarian through the lens of the western media. Press freedom. Freedom of thought. People use those terms when talking about countries like the United States, France, or Australia. Democracies.”

In 1988, Manufacturing Consent “blasted apart the notion that media acts as a check on political power,” Goodman explains as a myriad of mouthy orange villains murmur ominously in a machine-like universe.

“That media inform the public, serve the public so that we can better engage in the political process,” Goodman continues. “In fact, media manufacture our consent. They tell us what those in power need them to tell us … so we can fall in line. Democracy is staged with the help of media that work as propaganda machines.”

The cartoon then shows a one eye monster instructing his minions in an assembly line process to churn out news.

“Media operate through five filters,” Goodman says, referencing Chomsky’s initial pillars in the book.

“The first has to do with ownership. Mass media firms are big corporations,” she explains. “Often, they are part of even bigger conglomerates. Their end game? Profit. And so it’s in their interests to push for whatever guarantees that profit.”

Naturally, critical journalism must take second place to the needs and interests of the corporation.

“The second filter exposes the real role of advertising,” Goodman tells us. “Media costs a lot more than consumers will ever pay. So who fills the gap? Advertisers. And what are the advertisers paying for? Audiences. And so it isn’t so much that the media are selling you a product — their output. They are also selling advertisers a product — YOU.”

The establishment then manages the media through the third filter.

Manufacturing Consent argues that “Journalism cannot be a check on power because the very system encourages complicity,” Goodman points out.

“Governments, corporations, big institutions know how to play the media game,” she notes. “They know how to influence the news narrative. They feed media scoops, official accounts, interviews with the “experts.” They make themselves crucial to the process of journalism. So, those in power and those who report on them are in bed with each other.”

In 1988, Chomsky and Herman offered a warning to journalists that has proven prescient in the age of Trump.

“If you want to challenge power, you’ll be pushed to the margins,” Goodman sums up. “When the media — journalists, whistleblowers, sources — stray away from the consensus, they get flak.”

This is the fourth filter.

“When the story is inconvenient for the powers that be, you’ll see the flak machine in action discrediting sources, trashing stories and diverting the conversation,” Goodman adds.

Hours before Friday’s press gaggle, President Trump heavily criticized anonymous sourcing in his CPAC speech, even though he’d repeatedly used the same tactics to discredit President Obama during his time in office.

“To manufacture consent, you need an enemy — a target,” Goodman revealed. “That common enemy is the fifth filter. Communism. Terrorists. Immigrants. A common enemy, a bogeyman to fear, helps corral public opinion.”

Watch:

Alexandra Rosenmann is an AlterNet associate editor. Follow her @alexpreditor.

IMAGE: Screenshot / YouTube