☕️ Coffee & Covid ☙ Saturday, March 12, 2022 ☙ RUSSIAN DISINFORMATION 🦠
Biden's electoral vision; Florida creates election police; Ladapo demands the data; the gay lobby strikes back; Biden's sanctions don't amount to much; and Russia dis-informs the United Nations.
Happy Saturday, C&C! We have a nice weekend roundup for you today, including: news about the airplane mask mandate; Biden tries selling a vision for how Democrats can add seats in the midterms; Florida creates the first elections police team in the nation; Austria, one of the worst offenders, drops its population-wide vaccine mandate; Ladapo wants to see the data; the gay lobby comes after DeSantis and ropes in a giant ally; Florida ratchets back its Covid reporting; Biden’s pathetic Russia sanctions are exposed; Russia presents its Ukrainian biolab disinformation at the UN; and the White House gives a security briefing to TikTok influencers.
And, new Florida Covid numbers.
🗞*COVID NEWS AND COMMENTARY* 🗞
🔥 On Thursday, the Transportation Security Administration announced that it will extend the mask mandate on public transportation, including air travel, until April 18th. The mandate was set to expire on March 18th. The White House said the CDC will come up with a revised framework for when the mask rules can be lifted during this time, based on hospitalizations and local hospital capacity, similar to the CDC’s new national mask guidance.
Not everyone was happy with the extension. Senator Rand Paul said he plans to force a vote next week to end the unscientific mandate. “As the entire world is learning to live with COVID, the federal government still uses fear-mongering to stubbornly perpetuate its mandates, rather than giving clear-eyed, rational advice on how to best protect yourself from illness.”
My take: I think they WILL end the mandate on April 18th, after the CDC comes up with some insanely complicated rubric to confuse and distract mask lovers. The extra month is intended to give loyal mask enthusiasts time to work through the five stages of grief.
🔥 The Hill ran two articles this week trying to paint a more optimistic picture for Democrats going into the 2022 midterm elections, portraying Joe Biden as some kind of inspiring leader to the party. As best it could, under the unfortunate circumstances.
The first article, released Thursday, seemed a little more on the alarming side, featuring the headline, “Biden Warns Democrats It Will Be a ‘Sad Two Years’ if Republicans Take Control of Congress.”
Biden addressed the DNC Thursday evening, encouraging Democrats to work extra hard in the midterm elections to ADD seats. He should be worried about KEEPING seats. Biden rambled incoherently about how bad it will be if they don’t, babbling “If we don’t do that, don’t do that, it’s going to be a sad, sad two years. Think about Republicans if they controlled the Congress these last two years.” He’ll be sad. Frowny face!
Biden delusionally insisted that under his leadership things have been going terrific. Couldn’t be better. “I believe we have a record to be incredibly proud of … now what we have to do is we have to sell it with confidence, clarity, conviction and repetition,” he said.
It’s going to take a LOT of selling.
Biden rattled off a terrifying list of issues that he thinks are winning ones for Democrats, which bizarrely included Ukraine. In fact, the Hill unironically reported that “the president listed Ukraine as an issue for Democrats to run on.” Go ahead, run on getting us into a World War. Should go great. He also blamed gas prices and inflation on Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling it all “Putin’s price hike.”
I wonder if that will stick.
The second article, published Friday, suggests the Hill got some pushback from the White House over the previous day’s negative tone. Friday’s article seemed to take a smidge more of an optimistic route, with the slightly less negative headline, “Biden Seeks to Rally Democrats Ahead of Crucial Midterms.”
Biden was speaking at the House Democrat Caucus on Friday in Philadelphia. He repeatedly stressed that the midterm elections would be “one of the most important in modern history.” Really? Why? What’s he got under his hat now? What ELSE can he break?
“This off-year election, in my view, may be the most important off-year election in modern history because we know what happens, we know the fundamental change that shifts if we lose the House and the Senate. The only thing I’ll have then is a veto pen,” Biden explained.
Well, we can HOPE the only thing he’ll have then is the veto pen. Somehow it doesn’t seem like it could possibly be that easy. But we can hope.
The president said, incoherently, “I thought we had to unify the country because ultimately we are a democracy. And there needs to be, for it to work, there has to be a consensus. And consensus, you’ve got to get a majority. We’ve not been able to do that for a lot of the important things, that’s why we have to continue to maintain our majority.”
I will pay ten dollars to the first person who can translate that into normal English.
The Hill noted that Biden was doing his high-low yelling and creepy whispering act again: “The president yelled at points throughout his comments and spoke softly, at times no louder than a whisper, in other moments.” Hahahaha. I wonder if someone is telling him that is an effective speaking style.
“Make no mistake, inflation’s largely the fault of Putin,” Biden insisted lamely, after having gassed on about how he ALWAYS takes responsibility for stuff that goes wrong, unlike certain mean tweeting former presidents.
It didn’t seem like the democrats were buying what Biden was selling. The Hill — a left-leaning political magazine — reported that “lawmakers applauded sporadically and laughed politely at Biden’s jokes, but mostly the cavernous room was silent.”
Well. Can you blame them?
🔥 The Florida Legislature passed a bill creating an elections police force in Florida, albeit somewhat reduced from what the Governor originally requested. DeSantis first asked for about $6 million to hire 52 law enforcement officers to be stationed around the state. The officers would be tasked with investigating reports of election law violations.
Instead, the bill the legislature passed included only $1.4 million for just 10 police officers who will be assigned to Florida’s new Office of Election Crimes and Security, or OECS. The office — the first of its kind in the nation — will have a full-time staff of 25 folks, and will be an executive agency under the Department of State, which answers to the Governor.
It’s a start, and it’s another great move by Florida that hopefully provides an example to the rest of the country. At least to the Free States.
💉 Austria, the only country in Europe to mandate vaccination for ALL adults, said Wednesday it was suspending the mandate since the pandemic no longer poses the same danger — just a few weeks after the law took effect. People who refused to get the shots were threatened with fines up to €3,600.
Austrian minister Karoline Edtstadler explained the law’s “encroachment of fundamental rights” could no longer be justified by the danger posed by the pandemic. “We see no need to actually implement this compulsory vaccination due to the (Omicron) variant that we are predominantly experiencing here,” Edstadler said.
“Just like the virus keeps on changing, we need to be flexible and adaptable,” he added. Uh huh.
🔥 Florida’s Surgeon General was on Laura Ingraham’s show late this week insisting on SEEING THE DATA that jabs benefit kids. “Show me the data,” he said. Here’s a great clip for you:
🔥 Governor DeSantis is taking a significant amount of flak over Florida’s new law banning sex ed for grades K-3. But the sexual freedom groups are assembling a coalition of corporations like the ones who opposed Georgia’s voting reforms laws last year, threatening to pull their conferences out of Florida and otherwise punish the state somehow.
Late this week, the media piled on the Governor big time trying to get him to veto the bill, a pressure tactic that culminated with Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek demanding — and getting — a one-on-one meeting with DeSantis to express how just how unhappy the rodent-based entertainment giant was over what it sees as the Sunshine State’s interference with the gay agenda. DeSantis signed the bill anyway.
Disney’s gay employee groups went berserk, causing the media behemoth to try to placate them by announcing the end of donations to all Florida Republicans (some reports suggest the Mouse will not be donating to any campaigns in Florida this year at all). The gay lobby is not satisfied, though. They want blood.
Incidentally, I’m curious: was Mickey Mouse gay? Is that possible? True, he was dating Minnie for a while, but he never actually closed the deal. Lifelong bachelor and all that. Don’t cancel me — I’m just wondering.
Anyway. If this doesn’t blow over soon, which it should, because the bill does not ACTUALLY target sexual freedom groups, only groomers, then I’ll be spinning the C&C army up to help with the Governor’s defense. Stand by.
🔥 Triggering the media even more, if that’s possible, Florida announced yesterday that it will be shifting to bi-weekly Covid reporting. Media nearly lost its collective mind back when Florida shifted from daily reporting to weekly; this time, since we are post-Covid, Media — while extremely anxious — is largely keeping its mouth shut.
The less Covid reporting, the better, in my view.
🚀 *THE MINORITY REPORT* 🚀
🔥 The Ukraine narrative is already starting to crack. The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by Kim Strassel yesterday headlined, “Biden Is Failing the Sanctions Test.” She reports that, despite the rhetoric, Biden’s sanctions package against Russia doesn’t really amount to much.
First, Strassel noted that the administration was slow in applying sanctions in the first place. Initially, Biden completely refused to impose sanctions in the lead-up to the invasion, citing ‘multilateralism’ and blaming European allies’ reluctance. On Friday, the Treasury Department quietly clarified that the new sanctions won’t even start applying to most energy transactions until June 24th — meaning Wall Street can keep buying and selling Russian oil and gas for now.
June 24th. Wait, what month are we in today? Oh, that’s right. MARCH. Nice sanctions. That ought to scare ‘em.
Next, the sanctions that have been passed lack real teeth anyway. The fine print on the Treasury Department’s website explains, “The energy sector of the Russian Federation economy itself is not subject to comprehensive sanctions” — a minor point to Treasury but one that Strassel describes as “a scandalous caveat the media largely ignored.” When asked about it, Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland admitted that the Administration “did agree to a phase-in” because of energy-dependent “European allies.”
In other words, the sanctions are not very burdensome, but it’s not Biden’s fault. Again. It’s our allies’ fault.
Finally, Strassel also points out that the White House is actively WORKING AGAINST any real sanctions. This week, Biden demanded congressional Democrats stand down on a bipartisan bill that would have suspended Russia’s preferential U.S. trading status. Strassel further notes that the White House is also blocking a Republican bill that would impose tough sanctions on Russia’s oil, gas, mining and mineral sectors.
She ends the piece with this comment: “Mr. Biden can talk all he wants about his plans to cripple Mr. Putin’s economy. He has yet to take the steps that might actually do it.”
Let me ask you a question. I’m not saying that Biden is really working WITH Russia because the sanctions are trivially light and are not even in force for about four more months. I’m not even asking whether this whole war is just a pretext to setup a massive transfer of wealth from the U.S. to Russia and Ukraine. What I’m wondering is whether this thing is going to end with Russia and Ukraine getting huge U.S. aid packages that just enrich a bunch of bad guys. That could never happen, right? Somebody tell me I’m crazy.
🦠 That’s not all. Last week Russia was accused of spreading disinformation about fake, made up biolabs in Ukraine — wait, sorry, the totally exaggerated non-U.S. involved biolabs in Ukraine — wait, sorry, okay so maybe there ARE biolabs in Ukraine and maybe there IS U.S. involvement in them but it’s still totally fake and made up because science.
Anyway. After being accused, like many of us, of being disinformers, Russia insisted on having a hearing at the UN Security Council on Friday to present evidence of the totally fake and made up U.S.-involved biolabs in Ukraine. And on Friday it presented evidence to the UN Security Council allegedly proving that it is possible or even likely such labs do exist.
Oh no they don’t. ”We’re not going to let Russia get away with gaslighting the world or using the U.N. Security Council as a venue for promoting their disinformation,” Olivia Dalton, the spokesperson for the U.S. mission to the U.N., told ABC News Thursday.
Since then, there has been a blitzkrieg of anti-Russian propaganda about the presentation. It’s almost impossible to find U.S. media reporting about it at all. But a long CBS article about the presentation was headlined, “Russia Escalates False Chemical Weapons Claims About US, Ukraine by Bringing Them To UN.”
CBS doesn’t even say Russia ALLEGED claims about the labs, which how they usually make things sound sketchy. CBS comes right out and literally labels the claims as FALSE, right in the headline. And it gaslights readers by referring to Russia’s claims as “chemical weapons claims,” which is deliberately misleading, since the thrust of Russia’s claims are about BIOLOGICAL weapons not chemical weapons.
Now. Do you suppose, in its long article about the presentation, that CBS News reported on the evidence Russia presented and then debunked that evidence piece by piece? Haha, of course not. Read the lengthy piece all you want and you won’t find one single reference to whatever was said at the UN. Instead you’ll read a long, rambling denial that looks like a State Department press release, and includes “straight news” like this:
“Ukraine does not have biochemical weapons laboratories. Instead, there are public health and veterinary health labs operated with U.S. support in Ukraine.”
Haha, dummies, they’re just biosafety level 3 veterinary clinics. You believe that, right?
Even CBS doesn’t believe that, not really. The network got its wires crossed and later in the article described a comment by CIA Director Bill Burns during a Senate hearing Thursday, when he answered a question about whether deadly pathogens were stored in those Ukraine labs: “In any public health system around the world, there’s going to be work done in the interests of wider public health, to ensure that we have a grip on issues like that. But that’s in no way threatening. That’s not something that can be weaponized in the way that the Russians have clearly demonstrated — by their own actions against their citizens and people outside their country — their willingness to use.”
The U.S. government’s position is that Russia is just saying all this because IT has biolabs and probably Russia is going to use those weapons and try to blame it on US. Which is a kindergarten argument.
I wish we had some adults around in our government who could answer questions directly, respond to the Russian allegations, and not talk in word salad. Wouldn’t that be nice for a change?
Now, I know some of you are going to be all like, Jeff, how could you print that Russian disinformation in your blog and not denounce it as completely fake and made up and evil and so forth? I’ll tell you how. Because I just spent the last two years being called a disinformer by the exact same people who are now calling the Russians disinformers — about very similar issues, like whether the US was or is involved in dangerous pathogen experiments that it shouldn’t have been. Cough, Wuhan, cough.
I’m not naive. I totally see the possibility of Russia taking advantage of my well-founded mistrust. But Russia didn’t cause the mistrust. So, if the same liars who called me and other people I greatly respect “disinformers” for 24 months, if they now want me to just take their word for it, that ain’t happening. They’re going to have to come clean and open the books. Let’s see ‘em. Show me the evidence.
🔥 In the bottom story of the day, MSN ran an article yesterday headlined, “The White House Is Briefing TikTok Stars About the War in Ukraine.” Yes, you read that right. I am not joking or making that up.
The article reports that on Thursday, National Security Council staffers and White House press secretary Jen Psaki personally briefed “30 top TikTok stars” on a Zoom call, providing them with “key information about the war unfolding in Ukraine.” I was like, this HAS to be a joke. I checked to make sure I hadn’t lost track of the date again. But no, it wasn’t April 1st. And I found the story widely reported.
MSN said speckled Jen Psaki briefed the social media influencers about the United States’ strategic goals and answered influencers’ questions.
Our strategic goals. With TikTok stars. TikTok.
An article in The Washington Post this week said that TikTok announced that, under pressure from U.S. and Ukrainian officials, it would begin adding warning labels about misinformation to Russian TikTok accounts and canceling offenders. “We continue to respond to the war in Ukraine with increased safety and security resources to detect emerging threats and remove harmful misinformation and other violations of our Community Guidelines,” TikTok spokeswoman Jamie Favazza said in a statement.
You may recall that in 2020, President Trump tried to shut down TikTok over concerns about Chinese communist espionage and propaganda. But on his first day in office, Biden revoked President Trump’s TikTok ban, and TikTok has been happily streaming along ever since.
Here’s the bottom line for me. I would prefer that the government just completely stay out of the “influence” business. Just tell us the facts and let us make up our own minds. We don’t need the government to tell us what to THINK. It seems like they got all happy with the giant pandemic propaganda hammer they made and now everything looks like a nail. War in Ukraine? Activate the network! Bam!
📊 *COVID IN FLORIDA AND ALACHUA COUNTY* 📊
Florida released the last of its weekly Covid reports yesterday. Until the next change, they’ll now be released bi-weekly. Hopefully soon Florida will stop reporting altogether. As you can see from the new chart, all the numbers are bottoming out again, just as they did at the end of the previous wave. We are about two weeks away from finding out if these numbers will hold or begin their seasonal spring escalation again.
I know some of you are worried that rising Spring case rates could result in the replacement of mandates. Do not worry about that. They have made structural changes that will end the pandemic (at least, this one). For example, they’ve really wound down the testing. Most hospitals in Florida are no longer testing for Covid at all unless a patient shows symptoms. One of my relatives was in the hospital for eight days this week in Central Florida. He’s in a high-risk category, maybe several. But he was never tested for Covid.
Ending testing will lower both case rates AND death numbers, since so many death statistics arise from the bare existence of a positive test anytime before death.
They’re also re-defining how deaths are counted, and how hospitalizations are counted. So that means they are already planning for cases to rise again and making sure it won’t matter. They know cases will go up again. Just like flu. That’s why the structural changes. So don’t worry. For now, the pandemic is over.
Have a terrific weekend! I will see you guys back here on Monday to kick off the week the Coffee and Covid way.
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