Don’t Read Bolton’s Book

Donald Trump’s deep-seated and irredeemable racism, on full display for his entire life, is going to help pull him kicking and screaming out of the White House on January 20, 2021.  It is becoming more apparent every day that Trump is likely to drag enough Republicans down ballot out of office along with him, even as the party writ large continues their silence despite the growing list of lies and outrage that spews from Trump’s Twitter feed, to give power to the Democrats in ways that really matter.

Joe Biden is going to have his work cut out for him when he enters office (just undoing Trump’s executive orders will take days!), considering the hollowing-out of the executive branch Trump has managed during his time in office, but Biden has an advantage Trump never did – the experience necessary to know who to bring in with him to get things done for the American people and the desire to do what’s best for all of us.  Trump only knows how to do what he thinks is best for Trump.

The past week has been a shit show, as Trump’s ineptitude is made even more apparent while he pretends that Covid-19 is “dying out” while simultaneously forcing the cult to sign liability waivers in order to attend his narcissistic rally in Tulsa.  I am sorry that the non-cult citizens of Oklahoma are going to be exposed to these fools, who have been proud to tell reporters who were sensibly and thoughtfully wearing facemasks to protect those around them that they would not wear facemasks while at the rally unless they were required to do so.  Since Trump and his sycophants have managed to make protecting our fellow citizens political instead of normal, of course his cult refuses to wear masks.  The silver lining to this idiocy is that by doing so, they will be culling their own herd. 

The CDC was previously seen as the top of the heap when a contagious disease appeared anywhere in the world.  Trump and the Republicans have succeeded in just 3 ½ years to destroy the reputation of this and every other well-known and respected agency in our federal government.  Trump, in his infinite lack of wisdom and competence, sees the entire federal government as his own empire, a larger and much more powerful version of his personal organization, and he has used the levers of presidential power solely and completely as a means of lining his own pockets and maintaining his hold on The White House.  His inability to see beyond his own selfish needs has revealed in stark terms the huge lift that will be necessary to enshrine into law those ‘norms’ previous residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue have upheld during their own times in office.  The expectation that presidential candidates will reveal their taxes, put their assets into a blind trust, or any of the other myriad things all previous presidents have done to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest – none of these mattered to Trump, because Trump didn’t have a conflict of interest.  Trump’s interest has only ever been for himself and his money, so no conflict exists!  Holding a crowded rally indoors without social distancing or facemasks during a pandemic?  Not a problem, since Trump and his cronies get rapid tests on a daily basis.  Who cares if the people in the audience are the beginning of a super spreader event, so long as Trump gets his ego soothed by the cheering crowd.

Trump is trying to run his 2020 election as a do-over of the one in 2016 – he doesn’t even have the wherewithal to come up with a new platform, preferring to recycle the previous one that was centered on how awful the president in office was performing.  The thing is Trump’s refusal to hear anything from outside his media bubble makes him blind to how angry the majority of the country is at his rank incompetence and inability to perform even the most basic job of uniting the country during this time of social upheaval.  This is denial of the most obvious outcome of his behavior during these 3 ½ years, and it is going to result in what is possibly the largest repudiation of a sitting president in recent history.  At least, I hope it will, barring Republican voter suppression tactics and Republicans forcing their own citizens to vote in person.

Then there is the book John Bolton wrote while he was Trump’s national security advisor, taking notes on yellow legal pads under Trump’s nose, now pending release next week.  Trump told his lawyer William Barr to sue to keep the Bolton book from being published after it was printed and shipped all over the country (and likely the world), and was of course thwarted by a judge in his attempt.  I refuse to buy Bolton’s book – had Bolton testified during the House’s impeachment inquiry, maybe (although highly unlikely) he could have swayed some of the Republicans to do the right thing and remove this dangerous malignant narcissist from office.  At the very least, Bolton’s knowledge that Trump is incompetent to be president and incapable of performing the duties required for the position made public could have provided the Republicans in the Senate with a little cover to vote to impeach.  Surely a president Pence would have been less dangerous to the country and the world than this giant boy child now in office has been, right?  Certainly, he would not have been worse.

Now, Trump is having a temper tantrum as another book, this one by his niece Mary Trump, is set to be released in July.  Titled “How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” it is clearly not going to wax poetic about how wonderful it’s been being related to The Donald.  Trump is of course looking into suing his niece for violating an NDA, not that this is a surprise from the most litigious man to hold the office.  Another book released this month about Melania reports that her delay in moving to the White House was a result of her renegotiating the terms of her prenuptial agreement, while showing that in fact she supports the awful things Trump has done while in office (although not to her parents, who were brought here under ‘chain migration’ from Slovenia).

Never Trumpers continue to wave their bullshit flag, pretending that the world began in 2016.  Republicans outraged by Trump are gleefully telling us how the Democrats are screwing up their chances to vote Trump out in November, while pretending that they have no culpability for where the Republican Party has gone under their stewardship!!!  Listening to Bill Kristol on MSNBC telling us that John Bolton was ‘truthful’ despite his lack of patriotism and refusal to uphold his oath of office was infuriating, since Kristol and Bolton were friends for years.  Many of the senior Republican Senators were also friends with John Bolton and were likely privy to the same information Bolton withheld from the House in order to line his pockets with a $2 million book deal, yet still they voted to let Trump remain in office.  The Republicans have only one thing they care about, and they place that about all else – maintain their grip on the reins of power.

This is obvious in all the ways that Republicans work to keep those with whom they disagree from having a seat at the table.  They have used their time in office to prevent Democrats from voting, gerrymandered districts, purged voter rolls, and literally stolen votes (by forging mail-in ballots), all while pretending that they gave a damn about the people who voted them into office.  Using racial dog whistles, they’ve played on the systemic and pervasive racism they have continued to endorse in order to inflame their base, all the while knowing that the only people likely to benefit from their tenure in office are themselves and their donors.  They’ve lied to their constituents about their plans for improving their lives, fully aware that their regressive taxation puts those at the bottom of the income bracket at a significant disadvantage.  In fact, they continue to work to eliminate the social safety net in order to benefit the wealthiest among us, further exacerbating the wealth inequality to their own benefit.

Big changes are a-coming, and the first has to be a complete repudiation of the Republican Party and all who have supported it.  The Never Trumpers cannot be allowed to erase their own histories, and must be called to account for their part in getting their party to where it is – because they were and are part of the problem.  They are welcome to continue to produce and air their anti-Trump ads – since right now, getting Trump out of office has to take precedence – but that does not mean liberals should be embracing them as allies, as in “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”?  No – not when these political consultants did their jobs that guided the Republican Party to its present iteration – the party of Trump.  No, these people need to dig a hole, jump in, and pull the hole in on top of them. 

I’m tired of hearing ‘Never Trumpers’, who did such a wonderful job of screwing up their own party, tell liberals what they should be doing.  They may have ‘left’ the Republican Party, but they are still deeply conservative and their beliefs about their conservatism are ingrained.  These folks have not shifted to the left, supportive of anti-racism, addressing climate change, real policing reform, and all the other things liberals hold high on their lists.  They are still devoted to their belief in small government and gutting the social safety nets, while giving tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy.  Unless and until they acknowledge their own responsibility in getting us to where we are now, they should be ostracized from any access to mainstream media outlets.  Their continued ability to use these outlets to pretend they are outraged by the party they have created only makes their ouster more unlikely, thereby leaving the door open for them to reclaim their places in the party after Trump has left office. 

They cannot have it both ways – either they take responsibility and work to undo the damage they have done to the body politic or they just go quietly into the ether.  They should not be given any platform to use to re-configure their culpability and pretend the past didn’t happen.  If these ‘never Trumpers’ really want to help, they should shut up and listen – to everyone their previous work has hurt, held back, criminalized, or locked in prison – until they finally understand the real damage their policies and support has wrought on the populace writ large… and small.   

No one should provide any financial incentive for any of Trump’s former officials to write tell-all books when none of them were patriotic enough to stand up under oath and reveal the things we all knew were going on when there was the slimmest chance their testimony could have made a difference.  It’s ironic that, today, my daughter texted me a link to Bolton’s book (now apparently no longer working!) that had been leaked, providing access to his words without lining his pockets.  Even for free; reading Bolton’s tome is not worth the time it takes to do so.  Life is too short.  I’ll wait for Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow to tell me the worst of it on Monday.

Trump, the Fascist Swine

John Bolton doesn’t have to publish a book to let the public know what he saw and heard during his time in the Trump Administration; all he has to do is contact a non-right-wing media outlet and agree to a no-holds-barred on-camera live interview or even just offer to make a statement.  Of course, those options do not successfully line his and his publisher’s pockets, so damn the damage Trump does to the country, let’s wait until we can charge people for the information!  No giving anything away for free, no siree!

Not that Bolton’s self-interest is anything new – this is the same man who refused to testify to the House to provide first-hand knowledge during the impeachment investigation, after all.   In fact, most of the revelations Bolton has made in public have been made during paid speaking engagements, not during media news interviews.  Bolton’s behavior is on a par with Trump’s, although with much less power to wield and he appears to share in the narcissism Trump is so clearly suffering from. The point is that John Bolton, in order to benefit his bottom line, is completely happy in his disloyalty to the United States.   His continued silence in the face of rising, brazen fascist actions and rhetoric from Trump is all the proof anyone should need to recognize that Bolton does not care about the country anymore than Trump does.  No one should spend money on his book; we’ll see the most inflammatory parts in the media anyway, so why line Bolton’s pockets?

I hope that more people now recognize that John Bolton, Jim Mattis, John Kelly, et al are not showing their patriotism now, as the world watches the United States turn into a tin pot dictatorship – they are trying to be let into the lifeboat.  They had a chance to make a difference during the impeachment, although we’ll never get to know if their information could have swayed the Senate Republican denizens to put country over party.  Their continued silence at that time means they now have ownership in the absolute abdication of responsibility or accountability that Trump has exhibited, this fascist bent including the most recent abuse of power, subverting the Constitutional right to peaceably assemble and protest by using excessive force to get a photo-op.

So again, thank you to all the former administration collaborators/employees/sycophants who have waited until now to tell us what most of us knew before the 2016 election – that Trump is a useless piece of shit who only got where he was by stealing his father’s money and abusing the legal system, the latter a skill he has continued to benefit from since taking office.  I’m unable to understand why, with the first-hand experience you have all had with this incompetent boob, it took so long for you to speak up, although there are still more of you who remain silent out of greed or what?  Fear?  Of Trump?  Seriously? 

Trump may be tall in height, but he is otherwise a very small, scared, shell of a man.  He has never, in his entire life, ever been required to do anything he didn’t want to do.  His ego is so fragile; he is utterly incapable of acknowledging his mistakes or obvious lack of understanding for so many things that they require their own blog post!  His opinion of himself is inversely proportionate to his actual knowledge base, making me wonder who he paid in order to graduate from college and graduate school.  There’s no question why he keeps all his school records hidden – it’s impossible to pretend you’ve always been all that and you’re a “very stable genius” if your post-secondary records reveal you graduated “summa cum prematurely”.

All who have kept silent, regardless of your reasons, have culpability in what comes next.  For those who served in the military, thank you for your service.  That said, when your country really needed you, this time to put only your reputation on the line, you refused to do so.  When you offered your life in service, you were one person out of thousands doing so, but when you were one of only a select few who could have averted at least some of the ongoing crises, you sat back and did nothing.  That’s not patriotism.  That’s greed… or cowardice.

The silver lining to this huge thundercloud of disaster we are now living through is this – we are now painfully aware that there is an overwhelming need for sweeping changes regarding things once considered ‘norms’ but not officially enshrined in statutes and laws.  No longer can we go blithely along, expecting that those with the power will do what’s expected of them without the force of law that provides for swift and fair repercussions when the executive branch refuses to submit to oversight, ignores subpoenas, or misappropriates money using bogus emergency declarations. 

It is now no longer acceptable for those in positions of power, including in the Senate and the House, to remain in their seats indefinitely; twelve years for either chamber, whether consecutive or not, should be the maximum amount of time anyone can serve, and maybe it’s time to change the House from two year terms to three years.  Along with this, there has to be huge election reform, particularly with regard to election financing.  Elections must be federally funded in an equitable way, while allowing actual people only (no companies, corporations, SuperPACs, or other entity) to contribute to those they wish to, using some type of voucher system so that everyone, regardless of income or wealth, can participate in this part of politics.  The time for only the most wealthy to have all the political power is over.

It is no longer reasonable for judges throughout the judiciary, up to and including the Supreme Court, to be given lifetime appointments.  When this was first written into the Constitution, the average lifespan was 35 years, so a lifetime appointment was only a few years.  Now, judges routinely sit on the bench for 25 years or more, leaving at an average age of 78!  There is no reason at this point in our development to continue with this outdated method of populating the bench.  All federal judges must serve for a limited period of time with every president given the opportunity to name two justices to the court during each term (see https://fixthecourt.com/fix/term-limits/).  Although there is always the possibility of an unexpected death of one of the justices, having a term limit means that death is not the most frequent reason justices leave the court.

It is no longer acceptable for lobbyists to have a place in Washington, DC.  The wealthy, including corporations, foundations, foreign governments, and who knows what else, should no longer be allowed to continue their unfair and undemocratic ability to influence policy that disadvantages the rest of us.  Corporate welfare at all levels must be eliminated; no more subsidies for giant agribusiness, the fossil fuel industry, the pharmaceutical industry, etc.  Once, monopolies were broken up into smaller companies, now they’re approved and allowed to overtake everything, concentrating the wealth at the very top.  This should never have been allowed, and must be undone ASAP.

Racial inequality and oppression must be addressed.  It requires all white people to work at it, since we are the ones with the problem; the black folks are the ones who suffer because of our problem.  Every one of us must work, every day, in all ways, to change not just our own misconceptions and biases, but we have to speak up when we see or hear them in the people around us.  That’s the only way we can begin what we’ve been pretending was done after the Civil War – treating people of color with the dignity and respect we have often only shown to fellow white people.  See White Fragility: Why it’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism at your local bookstore or ebook platform.

Finally, social media has to be brought to heel.  Jeff Zuckerberg does not care about the damage being done to our social discourse, so long as people keep clicking.  Jack Dorsey will keep letting Trump and others like him post false, misleading and inflammatory things in order to keep people coming back for more.  These and other social media platforms, while not the creators of the information posted, have a responsibility greater than that of the established media giants.  The ability of their platforms to spread in a nanosecond makes it more imperative that they be held accountable financially so that they are more likely to do what other media outlets have been required to since the beginning – prevent the dissemination of lies, propaganda, etc., and be required to prominently post retractions and corrections when something slips by. 

Vote the Democratic ticket – only by taking power from the obstructionist Republicans can we hope to see the changes we need.  Then hold those we vote into office accountable.

The Basket is Uncomfortable

Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. | Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo
Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

How is it possible that someone so completely lacking in the ability (or desire) to care about anyone other than himself continues to have the support of, well, anyone at all?  What does it say about the core values of everyone who still supports Trump and his minions, as we watch him further incite his base with his racist rhetoric? 

Hillary wasn’t wrong when she referred to most of the Trump supporters as a “basket of deplorables”, although I’m sad for what it says about the state of the country.  I’m sure that many of them would insist that they “don’t have a racist bone in their body”, reminding everyone about that black guy from work they have lunch with sometimes or the African American couple they see at church every week.  I would have insisted the same about myself, even though inside I knew it wasn’t really true.  I just hoped I was able to offset the racism I was indoctrinated into – via the environments at home, school, play, and especially, I believe, on television – and treat everyone as an individual.

Any president would have been overwhelmed by so many crisis at once, but no other previous occupant of The White House has worked so hard to eliminate the many experts throughout the entire federal government as Trump has over just 3 ½ years.  Add to this Trump’s unique and utter lack of relevant qualifications for any of the tasks a modern president of the United States is expected to be able to perform convincingly and without hesitation and here we are – with the president making every one of the current crisis we are living through worse with every Tweet and asinine pronouncement. 

It is Trump’s utter lack of empathy that undergirds every awful decision, statement and executive order throughout this Orwellian presidency.  I’ve read the DSM-5 Criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder, and I am NOT a psychiatrist or medical doctor, nor have I personally examined or interviewed Trump, but I am confident simply by observing Trump unscripted on hours of interviews that we are looking at the ‘real’ Donald Trump.  There can be little doubt that Trump has something very wrong inside his brain, not the least of which is an obvious personality disorder. 

And he now appears to believe that he his king of America.

In order to give himself a ‘photo-op’, Trump had the federal police attack peaceful protestors with flash-bang shells, tear gas and rubber bullets.  This unprovoked assault could be heard live while Trump was addressing the nation from the Rose Garden and lying about being “an ally of all peaceful protestors”.   After the peaceful protestors were forced away by these attacks, Trump stomped up to the front of St. John’s Episcopal Church (where he has darkened the door exactly one time) and held up an inverted bible (because he’s oblivious, not as a ‘sign’), because he’s only ever concerned for how his base of evangelical Christians see him.  As an atheist, I find his use of a bible as a prop ironic; he has no clue what is inside (remember “Two Corinthians”?) but still the religious right condone his performance in the presidency as doing ‘god’s work”?

Trump actually used military force against peaceful protestors in order to appease his own ego?  How can this be acceptable to anyone?  Why aren’t Republicans stepping up and doing something to stop Trump before he goes totally authoritarian?  Trump doesn’t care what Democrats say about his behavior, although there have still been many who have publicly rebuked Trump’s behavior and his inability to do what an actual president would do at a time like this.

Trump, who has never publicly admitted to any mistake because of his erroneous assumption that such an admission makes him look ‘weak’, is incapable of acknowledging his own inherent and learned racism.  He wants us to believe that he has never been racist and therefore of course nothing he’s said or done has ever negatively affected those of color more than white folks, no matter the evidence we’ve seen and heard with our own eyes and ears (“What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening”).  Trump’s inability to recognize his own faults make him incapable of correcting those behaviors going forward; when he acts surprised after his most recent racist statement provokes outrage, I think at some level he’s sincerely confused by his total lack of insight.

Trump’s racism is so much a part of who he is that he is incapable of even contemplating anything that could result a change in his current outlook on everything and everyone outside of himself.  He seems to lack anything that resembles depth inside him or outside, in the relationships he has with those to whom he is either related, married, or holds sway over.  Most of those in the latter category have a very transactional relationship with him – Republicans keep supporting him because of “judges, tax cuts and regulations”, while others do so out of greed or fear.  All have one thing in common, though – they do so in order to benefit themselves first and foremost. 

All those whose support has allowed Trump to remain in power do so in order to maintain their own positions – in and out of government, the entertainment industry (largely responsible for Trump’s fraudulent image of success), mainstream and right-wing media, evangelical leaders and leaders of countries not considered our allies.  All must be, to the extent possible, removed from those positions and forced out of the limelight forever.  No more should they be allowed to have their prior behavior whitewashed or be given positions on CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, New York Times, etc., from which they can pretend their history never happened.  There can be no chance to absolve themselves of their responsibility for the rise of Trump to happen. 

The country is now at a moral tipping point, and it looks very much like those of us on the side of what is right are stronger, louder and more engaged in the fight.  Those who say that Biden is too old to change are wrong.  We in the boomer generation (by chance of birth, not by choice) are not universally incapable of looking back on what was and, with fresh eyes and an open mind, acknowledging the truth – without our consent or awareness, we were convinced to believe that dark-skinned men in particular were an inherent threat to our well-being.  This racist lie has been used to manipulate us all for generations in an us-versus-them mentality that even now is an open secret in many parts of the country.

I am sorry for being oblivious and accepting things as they were.  It was hard for me to admit that I have always benefited from white privilege, and it’s even more difficult to be honest and admit that I can’t be sure whether or not I was at least somewhat aware of it back in the 1970’s.  I can admit that I did things that I knew were against the law (like smoking weed) but yet never once did I consider being less bold about when or where I did so.  I’ve always had a lead foot, and am almost always driving at least 5 miles over the posted speed limit, but somehow that hasn’t caused me to be worried about being pulled over and ticketed.

I can remember being in the car with my Mom while she waited to make a left turn.  After she was waved ahead by a driver on the other side of the road, she remarked to me something about black drivers being so much more courteous.  “Black drivers almost always let you go,” she told me, without ever offering any explanation of why she had come to that conclusion.  It’s only in my more recent past that I’ve put two and two together – of course, black drivers are extremely courteous behind the wheel – they don’t want to do anything that might attract the attention of the police because of their fear of a fatal encounter!  I have no idea if my Mom knew back in the 60’s why she was always yielded to on the road, and lost my chance to ask when she died in 2006. 

The Republicans have calculated their most likely path to remaining in power, and that path has intentionally played white grievance as its trump card (no pun intended).  The party was given the choice to go down a different path after the election of Barack Obama in 2008, but chose instead to double down on their platform of white-supremacy.  The party’s claim that racism was no longer a thing stood in stark contrast to the open and obvious racism Trump has made such a part of his political brand.

Trump’s twisted view of ‘strength’ involves ordering others with weapons to fight on his behalf.  Trump’s emotional vacuity is so complete he is psychologically incapable of even the slightest whiff of understanding, sympathy, empathy, compassion, or any other feeling that involves caring about someone else.  He is uniquely and completely unqualified for the role he has been called on to play, and the Republicans complete refusal to acknowledge and address this clear and present danger to our democracy is unforgivable. 

They will not change, because they refuse to put country over party.  Jim Mattis’ rebuke of Trump’s stunt in Lafayette Square is welcome, but why did he remain silent now?  His statement makes clear that he has always known who and what Trump is, yet he justified his continued silence for 3 ½ years.  Thanks, Jim – better late than never, I supposed.

Their lack of character allows them to continue to put party over country, particularly all those who continue to maintain their silence despite knowing personally how dangerous Trump is in the office of the presidency. All who continue to support the Republican Party must be made to admit that they know what that support means.

Vote them out.  Anything else is complicity.

Both-Siderism Is BullS**!

driftglass.blogspot.com

Mainstream media outlets such as The Washington Post and The New York Times, should not continue to allow both-siderism to take up space anywhere in their publications, including within the opinion sections.

While all media outlets should do everything possible to ensure that their reporting is fair, there is no reason to provide space to right-wing nut jobs to spout their lies and conspiracy theories, like Hugh Hewitt did in The Washington Post recently.

In Hewitt’s opinion, the bogus ‘crime’ committed by the Obama administration that Trump has decided to call Obamagate (because following any word with ‘gate’ makes it a scandal) was the “intentional interference with the peaceful transition of power” in an effort to “cripple President Trump’s ability to govern…”

Let’s be really clear here – President Trump’s ability to govern has been crippled by his own lack of any coherent strategy to do so, under any and all circumstances.  Trump’s only plan throughout the last three years has involved destroying everything that Obama did that benefitted the citizenry, the environment or the world while making bullshit claims of success.  Instead of working for the American people, Trump’s sole focus has been to make himself and his cronies richer at our expense, with complete disregard for the future of the country and the planet. 

Now, after spending billions of our tax dollars by stealing the funds appropriated by Congress for other purposes to build his stupid wall along the southern border, along the way stealing private property and destroying sacred sites of native Americans and wildlife sanctuaries, he’s tanked the economy and cost the lives of almost 100,000 Americans by virtue of his complete refusal to listen to anything that does not meet with his own preconceived notions about almost everything, regardless of the accuracy of his beliefs.  His mind is so small, he simply lacks the basic self-awareness to admit that no one person can know everything.

As thousands of Americans die every day as a direct result of Trump’s refusal to listen to anyone with actual information (that now has been shown by a Columbia University model could have saved 83% of those who have died had social distancing and stay at home orders been put in place a mere two weeks earlier), Trump and the Republicans focus on everything except addressing this pandemic in a thoughtful, rational manner.  Republicans continued refusal to legislate relief efforts that benefit the public on the basis that it will “discourage people from going back to work” are beyond outrageous and an outcome of their years of robbing the poor to finance the rich. 

Instead of investigations about the mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic, Republicans in the Senate are ginning up nonsense about Hunter Biden.  Instead of working on passing a stimulus that doesn’t help just their corporate donors but the people, they focus their time pushing unqualified, Federalist Society freaks into lifetime appointments throughout the Federal Judiciary. 

We deserve having representation that cares about something other than maintaining their status quo.  The time for complacency is over. 

Vote.

Vote – For the Sake of Your Children

Today, I had an interesting conversation with a 30-something young man I’ll call Jim, who told me that he does not vote.  This young man has volunteered for the armed forces, but does not think he has any need to participate in the democracy for which he was willing to sacrifice his life in the Middle East, and I still don’t really understand his lack of interest in voting.  He has a young daughter who will have to survive in the world after we’re all gone, so why does he not feel the need to cast a ballot? 

The fact that he (like me), lives in New Jersey, where the only likely outcome in November will be for Joe Biden, doesn’t excuse his lack of participation.  He told me he’d been a Bernie supporter in the 2016 primary against Hillary, and has come to the conclusion that no matter who we cast our votes for, the system is rigged, sounding more like Trump than Bernie.  It sounds to me as though Bernie may need to step up to a microphone to try to put this conspiracy theory to bed and disabuse his followers of their cynicism about voting. 

This is not my first conversation with Jim about voting.  Previously, we discussed the Democratic primary, and I encouraged him to vote with his heart for the candidate he most wanted to see as the candidate, but that, in the general, we all need to vote for the winner of the primary to get rid of Trump.  Even then, before Biden became the presumptive nominee, he wasn’t willing to agree to do that.  Now, it seems, his decision has become refusing to exercise his franchise at all, including at the local level, where things that matter to us happen, too.

I’m not sure what I need to say to Jim to help him to understand that his refusal to vote ensures that his voice is not heard at any of the levels of government that influence his life on a daily basis.  Sure, one vote out of millions may not matter much at the national level, but he isn’t the only one with this attitude in his cohort group.  His cousin, my daughter’s partner, hasn’t even registered to vote since returning to the state in 2018 (although I did print a registration form for him last week).  He too was in the army in Afghanistan; he too joined after 9/11.  I’ve tried to talk to him about politics but had to stop when he kept insisting that things wouldn’t have turned out any better if Hillary had beaten Trump in 2016.  I don’t want to alienate him by arguing when I’m unlikely to succeed in changing his viewpoint.  

I’m saddened by both these young men’s lack of interest in participating in the democracy that both of them fought for.  I know that both of my adult children learned from me that voting is something we as citizens should view as our duty, and they both accompanied me to the voting booth when they were young.  I’ve always felt that voting should be mandatory, not optional, although in order to do that it must be easier for everyone to do, whether by making the time available to vote longer than one weekday or by using universal mail ballots, and it’s interesting that now, during Covid-19, mail-in ballots are the one way we have of keeping everyone safe from the virus while allowing votes to be cast. 

I know that my kids vote, especially for the president, although my son Chris doesn’t necessarily vote the same way I do.  In 2016, he cast his presidential ballot for Jill Stein because he too thought Bernie had been treated unfairly by the Dems; as a resident of Pennsylvania, his third-party vote was essentially a vote for Trump, and we have had several heated discussions about it in the interim.  I hope he sees his way clear to voting for Biden in November, since doing anything else is, per Bernie, “irresponsible.”

I have cast a ballot in almost every election since I voted for Jimmy Carter for president in 1976.  Some of my votes have gone to the winner, while others have not, but I haven’t let that keep me from voting during subsequent elections.  When the younger members of society abdicate their responsibility and leave voting to those in my age range, they end up with representatives who in fact do not necessarily represent them in government.  Climate change is happening at an alarming rate, economic inequality is worsening, and things can only improve if everyone is fighting on the same side.  Having a swath of the population choose to stand by and do nothing is unacceptable. So please – REGISTER AND VOTE.  It’s your responsibility as both a citizen and a parent.  Your kid deserves better.

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Nothing Trump says makes sense, like the claim at an Allentown, PA PPE manufacturer that “testing is over-rated”.  He has been so effectively brain-washed by the propagandists on Fox/state TV that he just blurts out things he hears them say without ever considering that what he’s hearing is not just incorrect, but downright dangerous for his base to hear from the President of the United States.  Of course, he made it clear last week that he doesn’t understand how someone who tested negative could convert to positive after contracting the virus, and maybe he’s saying this because the specific test being used exclusively at the White House, from Abbott, has been found to incorrectly show as negative 40% of the time. He told us the real reason during that speech in Allentown – more testing = more positive cases = Trump loses the election.

We have been taught since we were old enough to understand the concept that, when the President speaks, what he’s saying must be both true and important, so it’s understandable to a point that there are folks around the country who still follow along under this assumption.  However, it is no longer reasonable for anyone to believe a word that leaves Trump’s mouth without first verifying that it’s got some basis in fact and reality.  Otherwise, all that’s happening is further division and confusion of a significant portion of the population that will no doubt lead to illness and death not just in the Trump base, but throughout the entire populace.  His continued lack of shits to give about the country is stunning.

Listening to the testimony of Dr. Bright, formerly the head of BARDA until he was demoted for disagreeing with Trump about hydroxychloroquine (and being proven correct, by the way), I found myself unable to comprehend why those in positions of power simply refused to listen and react in a fashion that reflected the urgency he was so clearly expressing.  How does the head of the Department of Health and Human Services justify his negligence to the families of all the healthcare workers who have died because of insufficient PPE, or after being supplied with foreign-made PPE from factories the US failed to verify were meeting our standards for N95 masks.  Those masks are visibly the same as those made here, but are not sufficient to prevent the virus from being breathed in by those wearing them, leading to healthcare professionals getting sick and dying despite their own attempts to protect themselves.

Yet what did the Republicans in that hearing yesterday keep focusing on?  Hydroxychloroquine, because of course they did, since that is what the right-wing media keeps spouting on about.  There has been reporting that there are some in the White House taking it prophylactically, despite there having been studies stopped because of the deaths of subjects likely due to side effects from its use, since apparently no one involved in such a stupid plan can read.  THERE ARE NO STUDIES THAT SUPPORT THE MAGICAL THINKING THAT HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE CAN CURE OR PREVENT COVID-19!

During this crisis, the federal government with Trump at the head should be laser-focused on following the science by listening to the professionals who actually have a clue, but Trump and the Republicans have no capacity to do that.  Instead, they prefer to follow along behind the dear leader, regurgitating whatever he said last about the situation sans facts/reality.  Trump tries to convince his base that the number of cases and lost lives are going down when the rest of us can see, based on actual numbers, that they are rising throughout much of the country, most notably in those places where Republicans have decided to ‘open up’ all the businesses without any attempts at social distancing or requiring face masks.  Obviously all the fools turning up to rub elbows and share respiratory secretions in enclosed spaces with other brain dead nitwits are unwilling to accept that they are in fact neither immune to the virus nor less likely to die if they catch it in that bar or restaurant from an asymptomatic super spreader.

Instead of Trump focusing solely on the country and making up for the mess he’s so far made of this pandemic, he has now decided to make up a scandal he claims occurred during the previous administration.  Clearly, he doesn’t understand that his repeated attempts to make Obama the bad guy in regards to Michael Flynn’s admitted lying to the FBI is having the opposite effect – reminding us repeatedly what a real president sounds like and does when the fecal matter hits the air moving device.  No one who is outside the right-wing media bubble believes any of Trump’s conspiracy theories, and in fact his total and complete lack of interest in doing something, anything that would actually help us through this pandemic and the economic devastation it’s caused should be enough to push even some in his base to acknowledge his total incompetence and malignant narcissism.  How is it possible for the President to spend so much of his time either on Twitter or watching television?  I don’t spend that much time with the idiot box on, and I’m no longer part of the workforce.  He’s supposed to be doing the work of the American people, not wasting most of his day watching how he’s being covered on television.  What difference does it make, when there are almost 2,000 of us dying every day because of his inability to function in any recognizable way as a leader?

Daily, we are reminded, in big and small ways, that nothing that happens to the rest of us matters to either Trump or the Republicans.  The Republicans in the Senate have made it abundantly clear that making sure we survive not just the virus but the financial devastation we are all feeling isn’t their priority.  They keep refusing to address the upcoming presidential election in order to keep us safe, given the high likelihood that Covid-19 will re-surge in the fall along with the seasonal flu, insisting that mail-in ballots are prone to fraud.  Given that the only cases of mail-in ballot fraud in recent memory was performed by the Republicans, that’s a real hoot. 

While we all focus on staying alive and paying our bills, Trump and Bill Barr are politicizing the Department of Justice in order to help Trump’s friends while simultaneously digging far and wide for anything they can find to use against Trump’s enemies.  We can see you.  There will be time once you’re no longer in office to hold you both accountable for the crimes you’re committing in plain sight, and we will pursue you using all options available.  You will not be allowed to go off to some cushy corporate gig or to start your own television network scot-free. 

I’m lucky – New Jersey allows mail-in ballots without onerous rules that make it harder to than it needs to be, and have utilized it to vote since 2018 because I can.  Republicans refusal to move forward with all mail-in ballots for November due to a mistaken belief that doing so will cause them to lose more of their elections are making it clear that the only thing they care about is remaining in office.  The health of their constituents, which they’ve made their least-important issue with continued attacks on the ACA, is still at the bottom of their list at this unprecedented time in our country.  I fail to comprehend why anyone who is presently being ‘represented’ by a Republican who refuses to address this right now would reelect said person.  Do they have a death wish?  Do they really want more of the last four years?

I sure as hell don’t.

I Find Myself Crying…

Frankie
Liberty (LIbby for short)

I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older that I cry more easily, often over things that honestly are strange to be brought to tears over.  For instance, when I took my big cross-country trailer trip in 2018 with Libby in the passenger’s seat, I found myself crying over everything I saw.  I cried at all the National Parks multiple times per location, on the road to the next stop at the vista surrounding me, at animals seen only on TV before – just think of the National Geographic or Discovery Channel shows – I cried at all of them.

Since then, I’m still finding myself brought to tears more often, and it’s definitely gotten worse since Covid-19 hit us.  I’m relieved that I let my nursing licenses lapse more than four years ago because if I’d kept them active longer I may have felt obligated to volunteer to help.   Although I needed to be a licensed RN to do my case management jobs, I didn’t consider myself a ‘real’ nurse.  When I graduated from school in 1994, the nursing shortage that had been raging when I started in 1991 was over, and I wasn’t able to get a job in any of the hospitals in my area, forcing me to work in long-term care facilities, AKA nursing homes.

Of all the specialties we rotated through in nursing school, the one I liked the least was geriatrics/nursing homes.  I almost lost my lunch during one of my clinical days, when the instructor was showing us how to measure tunneling in a decubitus ulcer/bed sore.  In an effort to shield the squeamish, let me just say this:  the smell of rotting flesh is cloying, clinging to the hairs in your nostrils and lingering on your clothes, so even if you dart out of the room to avoid throwing up you can’t get away from the smell.  After that day, I started carrying a small container of Vick’s Vaporub to smear under my nose the next time, so I could remain in the room and learn what I needed to know should I have a patient with a similar issue later.  From 1994 until 1997, I worked mainly in nursing homes, essentially passing medications, providing wound care, and writing notes for anywhere from thirty to sixty patients at a time, depending on the level of care of the unit.  My point is that now, twenty-three years after my last patient care experience, I lack the practice and updated educational information to really feel I could safely return to nursing.

Nonetheless, I find myself with tears running down my cheeks multiple times a day now, whether over the pride I feel as the health care workers all over the country continue to do their jobs, despite insufficient or no PPE, too many patients or coworkers sickened by the virus, or at the overwhelming loss of life all over the country, or when someone who has survived Covid-19 receives a standing ovation from hospital staff as they’re being discharged home.  I wish it was more of the latter.

Yesterday I found myself teary-eyed when Frankie, my Timneh African Grey, sang “Good morning, good morning, good morning” to me.  I’ve been singing that part of the Beatles song to her almost every morning since I brought her home last June, so finally hearing her sing it back to me really made my day.  At least this little cry was a happy one.

Am I the only one?  I don’t think I’m clinically depressed, although the anxiety meter has ticked up quite a bit.  Certainly I feel overwhelmed by what I perceive as my inability to do anything to make the federal government perform its role; that’s why I started writing this blog.  The only way I can think of to untie my thoughts and feelings is by writing them down, and I hope my PCP will find my blood pressure has responded by going down at least a little now that I have this safety valve.  I’m sure that this need to bring us as a nation to a better place for everyone is what drives many bloggers to share their work.

It’s funny – I’ve spent the better part of the time since I came back from my trip alone in my home, with just Libby, and now also Frankie, for company, and I’ve always had a pretty small list of friends, so I thought this stay-at-home thing would be a breeze for me.  I’m finding it harder than I expected to, in part because it’s human nature to want the thing you’re not allowed to have and we are a social species.  Mostly, though, I’ve recently done what people my age do, and started reaching out to reconnect with some old friends that I haven’t seen for a long time, and now I want to spend time with them because we’re not getting any younger…and now, Covid-19.

I hope that we become a stronger, more egalitarian and equal society on the other side of this.  It’s the only thing that keeps me sane right now.

President Obama Will Always Be a Class-Act

barackobama.com

Listening to Mitch McConnell whine in a Trump campaign video that Obama showed a “lack of class” labeling Trump’s response to the Covid-19 crisis as a “chaotic disaster” made me see red.  After three plus years of Trump saying and doing things that in another time would have caused both Republicans and Democrats to speak up in the interest of common decency, it is unbelievable that McConnell said this with a straight face.  Those of us outside the right-wing media sphere see Moscow Mitch’s  con job for what it is – a blatant attempt to normalize everything Trump and the Republicans have done and continue to do while claiming that the one whose behavior is beyond the pale is actually Obama.  Here’s the thing, though:  all over the country, in both red and blue states, people are getting sick and dying from an epidemic that continues unabated because of Republican sycophants’ unremitting support of President Idiot.  Of course neither of the Bush’s (41 or 43) had anything negative to say about the Democratic Presidents who followed them, since both Clinton and Obama left the White House with the country in much better shape than it was in when they entered at the start of their terms.  Clinton’s big scandal involved an extramarital affair, and Obama, despite millions of tax dollars wasted on multiple Republican-led investigations, left office having had NO scandals at all.  Credit that in part to his credo, “Don’t do stupid shit.”  McConnell’s false assertion that the lack of preparedness by the Trump administration was because Obama didn’t leave “any kind of game plan for something like this” is beyond ridiculous.  History, no matter how hard Republicans try to remake the past, shows that the pandemic response team put in place during the Obama administration was in fact disbanded after Trump took office.  Trump’s claim during a presser that he didn’t have anything to do with the removal of the team was ludicrous. 

Like most Republicans in positions of power, the fact that the IHME models have rapidly increased the number of Americans we’re going to lose by early August to 147,000 means nothing to Moscow Mitch.  McConnell and his Senate cohorts also have no interest in the suffering of the vast number of citizens and residents who have lost their jobs and employer-sponsored healthcare because of Trump’s incompetence.  Neither he nor his donors are members of the social class that is being forced to choose between a paycheck and Covid-19 for themselves and their families, so they have no ‘urgency’ to legislate additional financial stimulus payments even after Jerome Powell made a public plea for just such that.  It is unconscionable that Republicans as a group find it not just acceptable but necessary for thousands more to die to improve the financial status of the wealthy – as long as the people dying on their altar of greed are the rest of us.  What I still cannot fathom is how there are still people supporting them, especially now.

Listening to Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, Jeanine Pierro or Britt Hume (whose willingness to spread propaganda wasn’t apparent during his tenure at ABC News) spewing outrageous conspiracy theories and outright lies has to be leading to thousands of their own viewers getting sick and spreading the virus to others, yet their survivors still they keep watching and believing the bullshit.  If those who consume right-wing media lived in isolated communities of only Fox News meat bags then sure, let them go about their business while Covid-19 culls the herd.  That is unfortunately not the way it works – these selfish, ignorant fools don’t just infect other like-minded people, they infect everyone they come in contact with, including those of us who understand the reality as it is.  Wisconsin, a state I will now avoid like the plague in my future travels, has a Republican-majority supreme court that once again placed partisanship over science and good sense when they overturned Governor Evers safer at home orders; today they’re having their second in-person election since the start of the pandemic.  WTF????

We are all suffering from some level of anxiety while this pandemic continues to spread around the country unchecked by any efforts from the federal government to protect us.  Clearly, Trump is completely incapable of doing anything that does not directly benefit his reelection chances, no matter the cost to the country and its people.  Anyone who believes that Trump has done anything at all try to focus on the pandemic in order to contain, control and eliminate it must immediately see a physician to surgically address the severe case of cranio-rectal inversion from which are clearly suffering.  Obviously, it’s really difficult to understand the full scope of negligence by Trump and his administration if your head is stuck up your ass.

Trump’s one go-to is distraction, and he has the cooperation of people like Barr and McConnell to further his plan.  Dropping the charges against Mike Flynn, making up something called “Obamagate”, pushing governors across the country to relax Covid-19 mitigation efforts required because of Trump’s mistakes – all are happening in large part to distract the media and therefore the rest of us from the ‘chaotic disaster’ that we are all living through because of Trump.  His lack of empathy and complete self-absorption has led him to the mistaken impression that we’ve been fooled into believing his lies, despite the devastation this pandemic has brought to the entire country.

Trump lacks the capacity to do what is best for the country, because he is incapable of putting anyone other than himself first, no matter what the outcome.  Trump does not care how many Americans die as a result of his ‘leadership’ of the entire federal government, mismanaged by a cadre of lackeys so unqualified for the positions they hold that their only purpose is to destroy the agencies they occupy.  Trump does not care how many Americans lose their small businesses, homes, livelihoods, cars, or future prospects, because these people and their lives are insignificant to him.  When he reports the number already lost, it means nothing to him, and the racial disparity of the effects of this pandemic does not matter to him, either. 

This is what the Republican Party has wrought – an administration filled to the brim with greedy, scum-sucking nihilists whose only interest is to remain in power in order to bleed the system dry.  They do not care about the planet.  They do not care about the country.  They do not care about us.

They must be removed from ALL positions of power.  Forever.

Negative….Negative….Positive

Vox

Trump and Pence get a rapid Covid-19 test every day, along with everyone who comes into contact with him, while refusing to social distance or wear a mask.  The rest of us can go pound sand, as far as he’s concerned, including the health care workers who take the chance every day that they might become infected and bring it home to their families.  Worse still, Trump in his idiocy tried to claim that finding two White House employees had converted from negative to positive on their weekly Covid-19 tests that “this is why testing’s not necessarily the answer because we were testing them.”  Clearly, his pea brain is incapable of understanding that this is the purpose of testing – to find out that someone who doesn’t appear sick is infected and contagious as soon as possible after they catch the virus in order to quarantine and contact trace.  If testing isn’t necessarily the answer, then Trump and Pence should immediately stop testing everyone in their orbit.

The CDC provided detailed guidance to the White House to be made public to facilitate a safe resumption of economic activities by providing specific metrics for various types of businesses, schools, etc., to use to evaluate whether, or when, they can move forward or must pull back.  These metrics were based on science and facts, not fantasy and wishful thinking, so the CDC’s guidelines were ignored by the White House, which advised that it “would not see the light of day”.  Reportedly, this is because Trump thought it was too specific in its recommendations, making it harder for the “reopening” to move forward at a pace that Trump thinks will bring the economy back and lower the unemployment numbers in order to make his reelection more likely.

The silver lining in this debacle is that the Pence press secretary who tested positive, Katie Miller, is married to racist asshole Stephen Miller, so maybe she’s given the virus to him, too.  I generally wouldn’t wish a possibly fatal infection on anyone, but I have no problem making an exception for Stephen Miller, whose single-minded focus on preventing anyone not white and rich from immigrating to the country has been instrumental in the obliteration of our immigration policy.  I don’t know what his parents did to him when he was a child to make him such a loathsome human being. 

The Monday press conference at the White House was just the latest display of idiocy from Trump, with him first claiming that President Obama broke some law prior to Trump’s election, although he refused to respond to Philip Rucker’s request to specify what crime he’s accusing Obama of committing.  This is apparently Trump’s latest attempt at diverting attention from is complete inability to manage this crisis in any way that benefits the American people.  Since Obama left office, the obvious differences between the two has succeeded in increasing Obama’s stature in the eyes of the country.  My eyes actually well up with tears every time I hear Obama’s voice.  I think I’m suffering from POSD – Post-Obama Stress Disorder.

Trump’s press conference ended abruptly, after he was pressed by two female reporters to explain why he told an Asian-American reporter from CBS, Weijia Jiang, to “ask China” her question (why does Trump keep comparing testing here to other countries while Americans keep dying?) and then called on CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins, who waited while Jiang asked Trump again, “What does it matter?”  Trump, unable to answer Jiang, then attempted to ignore Collins, who pushed him to let her ask her questions.  Trumps response, like a spoiled child, was to abruptly end the press conference and walk away.

He lies, dissembles, conflates, and now, apparently, is so incapable of coherent thought when asked a legitimate question that he finds it necessary to storm off in a huff.  What an example!  He still refuses to wear a face covering in public out of vanity, certain that it makes him look ‘weak’ and shows he’s ‘worried about health instead of the economy’.  Sure, that’s what we want – a president so detached from reality that he believes following the CDC recommendations for face coverings ‘isn’t a good look’ for him.  His concerns are always and only about himself, so the wearing of a face mask to protect everyone else does not even cross his little mind.  Even when interacting with WWII survivors, all men in their 90’s, he refused to cover his face. 

Maybe Trump has begun to realize that the American people recognize the truth about Covid-19 despite his repeated attempts to convince us otherwise.  No matter how many states he’s bullied into defying his own recommendations for relaxing mitigation efforts, nothing he says or does can force the public to patronize places when they don’t feel safe without adequate testing and contact tracing.  The importance of these things is made more apparent by the outbreak within the White House, the most highly-tested workplace in the entire country.  If they couldn’t keep the virus out, how can anyone else return to work and feel safe?  They can’t, and they shouldn’t be forced to, either. 

Maddow says all the time, “Don’t listen to what they say, watch what they do.”  What they do is show the American people that we are of no importance to them, except as a source of income.  Beyond that, we might as well be cannon fodder.  I, for one, have no intention of doing so. 

Maybe the meat bags protesting the stay-at-home orders, armed with AR15’s and AK47’s and refusing to social distance or wear face masks, will have their own day of reckoning with the virus, along with the White House.  Blindly following Trump’s refusal to acknowledge the facts and do what is best for all is a recipe for disaster.  It’s disturbing that the physicians who participated in the task force briefings went along with this foolishness, but the fact that all three have now self-quarantined gives me hope that they’ll be more vigilant going forward.

News reports tonight are claiming that Dr. Fauci will be loudly protesting the premature ‘reopening’ during the Senate hearings tomorrow.  We’re counting on him to do the right thing.

Did You Sign Up For This?

Today’sMilitary.com

I am not a ‘warrior’ in Trump’s battle against the poorly-paid, people of color, immigrants, meat packers, nursing home residents, prisoners, the detained, the disabled, and the elderly.  Trump is no warrior either.  He is a whiney little bitch (as Bill Maher says), incapable of doing his job to protect the American people, and the submission of the Republicans as Trump goes further and further out on a limb in an effort to save his reelection has left me at a loss for words to effectively express my outrage.

Republicans remain silent while William Barr’s lackey in the ‘Justice’ Department tries to get Michael Flynn’s case dismissed, despite repeated statements under oath that he was freely pleading guilty.  The years of work by previous Attorneys General to repair the damage done to the Justice Department during the Nixon administration have been tossed out by Barr’s repeated kowtowing to Trump. 

Barr’s politicization of the Justice Department is just the beginning of the destruction.  What is making it so much worse are the continued lifetime appointments of unqualified, right-wing dingbats to federal and appeals courts by Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans.  McConnell forced the Senate back to Capitol Hill this week, not to work on another relief package to address the current pandemic and economic crisis, but to nominate an unqualified federal judge put on the bench just two months ago for an appeals court position that won’t even be available until September.   But try to get the Senate to help the American people and that’s another matter entirely.

Lindsey Graham said that he and Tom Scott would extend the $600 per week unemployment benefit beyond July “over our dead bodies.”  As more and more Republicans reveal who they really are to the voters who put them in office, their constituents are being sickened and killed by a pandemic that at least some Republicans knew was coming while millions have lost their jobs.  Despite this knowledge, they did absolutely nothing to prepare for the inevitable or to let the public know the truth.  Now, while the country is suffering through the worst pandemic in modern history along with an associated financial crisis that may be greater than the Depression, the Republicans in the House refuse to consider moving the body into the 21st century because of “200 years of precedent”.  If Parliament can learn to vote remotely, why can’t the Republicans in the House?  Because they don’t want to legislate, they want to obfuscate and obstruct, not because that helps the American people in this time of such overwhelming misery and need, but because remaining in power is all they care about. 

Why do Republicans believe that their refusal to do their jobs for the people is beneficial to them in their reelection campaigns?  The Fox/right-wing media bubble’s propaganda and lies enrages the viewers and distracts them with extraneous bullshit.  I have several people in my life who appear to be getting their information from right-wing sources, and I still can’t figure out how to snap them out of the trance.  Those who complain about “big government” and profess “fiscal conservatism” don’t seem too bothered by all these Republican representatives getting paid taxpayer money while refusing to do their jobs, yet they worry about people on welfare because they’re ‘lazy’ and getting ‘free money’.

For those who have never had the pleasure of applying for public assistance, let me enlighten you.  I know what a pleasure it is to be on “the dole”, and I can tell you for sure that there is nothing about it that anyone with another choice would pick as a means of support.  I was forced by circumstances to apply for assistance in the early 90’s, and there was nothing about the experience that I would choose to repeat without dire circumstances forcing my hand.

I was approved for all the assistance – Medicaid, cash welfare and food stamps – ‘awarded’ around $450 in cash and $265 in food stamps to support myself and my two kids for a month.  Even in ’91, $265 wasn’t even close to enough to buy food for three, and $450 per month didn’t cover my monthly expenses (electric, gas, car insurance, homeowners’ insurance, real estate taxes, cable), and having a paid-for home wasn’t the benefit you might think it was.  Fact – food stamps/SNAP doesn’t pay for toilet paper, laundry detergent or other cleaning products, soap, feminine hygiene products, or really any other non-food necessities.

Housing subsidies are only available for renters – for reasons I don’t understand, people who have a home they own outright who have hit a rough spot and need assistance aren’t able to do anything to offset things like real estate taxes.  If I’d had to pay a mortgage payment on top of the taxes, I never could have stayed here, but even without the loan I was still not getting enough to keep my bills paid.  The common but mistaken impression that people who are on welfare and food stamps/SNAP are somehow living their best lives is ridiculous.

Did I buy lobster tail using that first book of food stamps?  I did – since I was given two or three months’ worth of benefits all at once (it took that long to process the application) and couldn’t retroactively pay for the food we’d already eaten during that time, why not?  I didn’t do it again, because I couldn’t justify using so much of my benefit for such a costly item, but of course the other customers in the store when I bought that lobster tail had no way of knowing it was a once and done event.

My point is this – Republicans have chipped away at benefits meant to keep us out of poverty when times are rough, and now, when so many are in such need, hearing people like Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell flat-out refusing to use our own tax dollars to keep us going is beyond cruel.  They all seem to forget that the money they’re refusing to spend to keep the American people out of despair is our money, not theirs.  We all pay taxes willingly with the expectation that we can depend on the government to be there for us when we need the help.  Republicans who so gleefully voted to give tax cuts to their donors and big business have no shits left to give for the rest of us.

The crickets are singing while Republicans watch minorities die in disproportionate numbers from Covid-19 and the CDC and experts are silenced by Trump.  Why would anyone refuse to publish the CDC recommendations for reopening businesses safely except that they prove that Trump continues to press governors to put their own residents at risk?  The Republicans continued silence while the Trump administration limits, silences, reverses and de-legitimizes its own agencies and professionals in sole pursuit of a reelection victory is proof that, as a party, they are no longer capable of governing anyone, anywhere.  Period.

Trumpism isn’t separate from the Republican Party.  It is the inevitable outcome since the party decided that Newt Gingrich, the Tea Party, and the Freedom Caucus were the way to go.  Instead of changing their platform to attract new voters, they have spent years working towards disenfranchising Democrats, or those they believe will vote for Democrats, via gerrymandering, voter ID laws, and now, refusing to push for all eligible voters to obtain mail-in ballots.  They have stood in the way of anything that will make it easier for everyone to vote, although there is no proof that making voting more accessible benefits one party over the other. 

We welcome all Republicans who have seen the light and want to vote with us.  For those who still support Trump and the Republican Party, know that you are truly putting your lives on the line by following this cult.  Since only 45% of Republicans think wearing a face mask in public is a good idea, and the party base is old, it is likely that more of them will be adversely affected by Covid-19 and may not survive the disease.  Their media bubble continues to spew lies that are detrimental to their health and well-being, and I am finding it more and more difficult to feel empathy or sympathy for those viewers while the people they’ve put in office do nothing to help.