“Congress” Isn’t ‘Doing Nothing’

Grim Reaper Mitch McConnell – Happy to watch millions suffer

I read the Washington Post every day on my Kindle, and every time I come across an article like the one in Monday’s edition by Erica Werner and Seung Min Kim with the headline “Congress is doing what it does best: Nothing. Meanwhile, coronavirus ravages the country and the economy stalls” it makes me so mad. The entire article is based on the premise that the cause for the delay in another relief bill is that ‘bipartisan urgency’ has faded, which is disingenuous if not a baldfaced lie.

Nowhere in this article do the writers mention that the HEROES Act was passed by the Democratically-led House in mid-May and sent to the Senate, where Mitch McConnell sat on it while continuing to focus on approving judges. Not until July 28 did the Republicans in the Senate even attempt to come up with their own plan, which somehow found billions of dollars for construction of a new FBI building a block from Trump’s Hotel as well as funds to replace the money Trump stole from the military to build his ’emergency wall’ but not to continue the $600 per week of enhanced unemployment benefits. Somehow, these old wealthy white men in the Republican Party see this as a problem, claiming that people who are making more money on unemployment won’t return to work, when the whole point is to avoid a repeat of the Great Depression. That $600 per week payment is mostly being put back into the economy by people who would be homeless, starving, and completely unable to live without it.

This article doesn’t mention that Mitch McConnell shut the Senate down for a long weekend, or that the House has had it’s August recess put on hold until the relief legislation is signed by the idiot in chief, President Stupid.

It would be so much less while also avoiding misleading the less informed in the public at large to be honest when writing articles like this. It isn’t Congress that’s doing nothing. It’s the Republicans and the administration that are doing nothing. The White House offering to extend the unemployment benefit for a week while they continue to dither and complain just puts things off another week. Nancy Pelosi isn’t stupid – she and the rest of the Democrats know that they cannot let the Senate Republicans have their way in this legislation, because their goal is to withhold as much help from the rest of us as possible. This, from (mostly) old white men who are being paid $174,000 a year of our tax dollars are more worried about making sure that businesses can deduct 100% of their meal and entertainment costs from their taxes than they have ever been in making sure that the other 90% of us can remain fed and housed, with utilities on and healthcare coverage.

So please, when you see the next headline claiming that the entire legislative branch is not functioning in our best interest, take a minute and do a little research. It’s likely inaccurate, like so many ‘both sides’ arguments are, tossing the Democrats in the House who have been passing legislation for the past two years to benefit us in with the non-governing, non-legislating Republicans. They have decided that their only purpose is to approve right-wing, incompetent judges, cut taxes for themselves, their donors and corporations, and keep their minority hands gripped firmly on every lever of power then can. Every dollar cut from the social safety net has been tucked into their pockets.

Mitch McConnell and his cronies in the Senate have abrogated their responsibility to do their jobs – for which they continue to be paid $174,000 a year. Do you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth from them?

If You Plan a Viable Future – VOTE

There are multiple reasons for the embarrassingly low percentage of those eligible to vote who actually vote regularly in elections in the United States. There are things the federal government could do to encourage those who have chosen not to vote to exercise their franchise short of mandating that everyone vote in every election, but that won’t be considered until Republicans no longer have control in Washington.

Why is in necessary for us to register to vote in the first place? We have already given the federal government all the information they need (except for party choice) by applying for a Social Security card, something every parent has had to do for their children since at least 1980. There is no logical reason not to have national automatic voter registration in this country. The right to vote is written into the constitution. The federal government certainly knows enough about everyone in the country in order to add everyone eligible to vote onto the voter rolls on their eighteenth birthday and then share those registrations with the states where the individuals reside. The only ‘reason’ there appears to be for requiring individuals to register separately to vote is to put another roadblock in the way of those trying to vote.

In countries like Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Iraq (yes, Iraq!), voting participation increased between 76% and 81% once automated registration took effect. In a liberal (vs illiberal) democracy, the goal should be to get as many eligible voters as possible to get involved and cast an informed vote; automatic registration is the first step towards higher voter participation and engagement.

The Republicans, however, know that the demographic group that has been most likely to register and vote with them is aging and leaving this mortal coil. Polls show that only 25% of eligible voters align with the Republicans, 31% with the Democrats, and 40% with Independents. Therefore, from the point of view of the Republican Party, encouraging a larger percentage of the eligible voter pool to cast a vote is demographically counter to their purposes. This is a major factor in the Republicans continued hold on power despite having a minority throughout the country as a whole, since fewer voters overall (of which 71% would NOT be Republicans) gives them a disproportionate share of votes cast.

This leads to the outrageous lies being made by the President of the United States spewing conspiracy theories about the security of mail-in ballots. Trump continues to claim for no reason except to scare his own base away from using mail-in ballots that there will be wide-spread fraud. First of all, there was a recent report from the conservative Heritage Foundation that found just 14 instances out of 15.5 million votes. Secondly, the most recent and egregious case of someone using mail-in ballots to commit voter fraud involved a Republican campaign operative in North Carolina. Third and most disturbing, there are actually thousands of mail-in ballots that are deemed ineligible compared with a minimum of in-person ballots, often for mistakes made by the voter or because of a questionable signature match. In order to have fewer legitimate votes disallowed, rules and regulations about verification of these ballots should be standardized across the country.

After Joe Biden is sworn into office in January, 2021, it would behoove all of us to do whatever we can to push for making it easier to participate in the electoral process throughout the country, in addition to all the other things needed to undo voter suppression and gerrymandering Republicans have used since the Nixon administration to keep those not voting for them from exercising their franchise.

The media has to step up, too. Media outlets not specifically designed to propagate right-wing disinformation and talking points must get off of their ‘both-sides’ soapbox. There is nothing consistent with fair coverage that requires any news outlet to give on-air time to anyone from either side when what they are saying isn’t even true. The opinions of party sycophants are of no importance, nor is their outrage at perceived offenses outside of the right-wing media bubble. If those on the ‘conservative’ side of the aisle cannot provide actual subject matter experts who have serious, fact-based information to bring to the discussion, they should not be provided with a platform from which to spread their crap. Climate change, for instance, isn’t a matter of opinion – it is happening, and it is man-made, and anyone who claims anything different without providing science-based hard evidence for their conclusion should no longer be offered the chance to speak. Ditto for those who want to argue about systemic racism, Covid-19, or any other subject which has been scientifically investigated and understood.

I think it should be mandatory for everyone eligible to vote to do so, but in order for that to be an accepted demand, it is also necessary for every obstacle currently placed between the eligible and the ballot be torn down. Automatic voter registration, Election Day as a national holiday and country-wide mail-in ballots would go a long way towards giving more of our fellow citizens the chance to vote without losing time from work, finding a babysitter, looking for a ride, or any one of thousands other reasons why everyone who can do so does not cast a vote.

The presidency and administration of Donald Trump should have opened the eyes of everyone, whether they have previously voted or not, of the importance for everyone to get informed and cast their vote. Everyone has something that they care about, whether it’s climate change, taxes, election security, money in politics, etc., and the only way to make sure that your government knows how you feel about those things is to vote. Social media could be a force for good, but not as it is currently configured. Print media has suffered mightily in this digital age, and broadcast media has been maligned for real and imagined offenses, making it the individual responsibility of every American to find actual facts about candidates, issues and policies from reputable sources upon which to base political choices.

This country has so much potential to life up to (sort of like both of my former husbands). It’s up to each and every one of us to put our big person pants on and do that which is required of every citizen – learn about the issues, decide which side of the issue you agree with, and vote in every election for candidates whose platforms and plans are what you hope to see going forward.

Vote as if your very future depends on the outcome of every election. Vote as if the life your children and grandchildren will be living will be determined by the election winner. Vote as if the continued existence of the very planet we all live on will be controlled by the next office holder.

It should be painfully obvious by now how very true that is.

Political Apathy is Unacceptable

I sent a few of my Facebook contacts an invitation to my page and didn’t think about it again until one of those invitees sent me a message to tell me that he wasn’t going to my page because he has “zero interest in politics”. Before the 2016 elections, I too thought of politics as something that other people cared about, despite voting the Democratic ticket starting with Jimmy Carter in 1976. I got most of my information from watching local and national news on the ABC affiliate WPVI out of Philadelphia along with listening to KYW 1060, the AM all-news-and-traffic radio station. All things considered, I got enough accurate information to know which party had my best interests at heart.

Today, I have no concept of how anyone with skin in the game (like my 61 year old diabetic smoking friend) can be indifferent about politics. This election is for all the chips, because if Trump and the Republicans are not soundly defeated and removed from power, we will be living in an authoritarian dictatorship during all future Trump terms. I want my friend will read this one post in the hopes of inspiring him to participate in the democracy that has been so good to both him and his family by voting for Joe Biden and the Democrats down ticket. I’m going to refer to my friend as “Billie” (not his real name).

Billie, I read your message declining my invitation to my Facebook page and was disappointed that you have no interest in politics. I don’t believe that’s true; I think that there are a multitude of places where your life, health, financial well-being and future comfort are directly and inextricably intertwined with the outcomes of elections, such as right now, in the middle of the worst pandemic in over a century. If the federal government was being led by a capable, competent, empathetic and caring leader who placed the good of the country over all else, the awesome power of the office of the President would have done everything to contain and control this virus, issuing national orders for staying home, social distancing and mask wearing while also putting a robust, nationwide testing and contact tracing system in place to find everyone spreading the virus and limit the spread. Instead, we have a person so incapable of ever admitting he’s made a mistake that he prefers to watch more than 150,000 of our fellow Americans die while he exhibits magical thinking by insisting that the virus will “just disappear”.

The Republicans have been laser-focused since the Affordable Care Act was passed on overturning it and stripping health insurance from millions of Americans while making those of us with preexisting conditions like diabetes, emphysema/COPD and osteoarthritis pay exorbitant premiums if we can even obtain health insurance coverage at all. Trump and his cadre of former fossil fuel executives, Wall Street bankers and right-wing media pundits have used his presidency to roll back rules and regulations to benefit corporate interests at the expense of all the rest of us and the planet. Trump’s delusional belief that he is the holder of all knowledge has made him incapable of accepting input from those in his own government with specialized knowledge of all manner of subjects versus taking the word of assorted hosts on Fox News and OANN. There are millions of Americans out of work because Trump is unable to do his job to put people in positions throughout the federal government with actual experience and skills to handle a crisis like the one we’re living through now. Instead, Trump appoints sycophants who agree that their first priority is to praise the dear leader no matter the reality on the ground, while their second priority is to allow Trump’s corporate donors to run rampant over everyone and everything in their paths.

Billie, you mentioned that your roommate has Covid-19 and that he’s still sharing the house with you. Your diabetes and smoking history make your chances of having a negative outcome if you contract the virus much higher than a healthier individual. The reason you’re in this position right now is because enough people in the right states decided that voting for the most prepared individual in history to run for the presidency wasn’t an option if that person also had a vagina, so they instead voted for the most incapable, incompetent, incurious, inept, undiplomatic and self-serving individual to ever seek the office. A lack of ‘interest’ in the actual issues combined with centuries-old, systemic misogyny led millions of voters to either stay home, vote third party, or actually cast votes for Trump because they thought Hillary was going to win and their individual vote didn’t really matter. Sadly, some 70,000 of those individual votes mattered way more than they should have.

I know you don’t have kids of your own Billie, and I’m sure that affects your attitude about ‘politics’, but your brother does have kids that I’m sure you love like they were your own. Think for a while about the world that will be left to them and their kids, and ask yourself if maybe the things that we’ve been doing to the planet for the last 100 years or so have helped or hurt the environment. I don’t know what the weather has been like in Vegas recently, but I can tell you without qualification that the heat and humidity here in New Jersey has been oppressive and unrelenting. We have always had our hottest days of the year in July and August, but I can’t remember in my lifetime having so many consecutive days of high humidity and high temperatures like the one we’re in the midst of now. Your brother’s offspring will have to deal with the climate disaster that our generation has been particularly loathe to address, given the propensity for the Republicans to claim that some climate ‘scientists’ don’t agree with the 97% of actual scientists that climate change is caused by humans releasing CO2 into the atmosphere. They don’t mention that their ‘scientists’ are actually employed by the fossil fuel industry to spread their bullshit, or that those same fossil fuel companies are full of their political donors.

Billie, I know that Whitey was your grandfather by blood, but you only saw him occasionally. During the ten years that my Mom and I lived with Whitey and my grandmother, I spent every day with him, and I think I can say with some degree of certainty that he was NOT just interested in the Phillies and the Eagles. Whitey knew that politics wasn’t just about the people in Washington; it’s about all of us, and what we want for ourselves and our families as part of a functioning democracy to which we pay taxes for services that said government is supposed to provide to us all when things happen that affect a large swath of us here in the United States. There is no way that Whitey would have remained completely uninformed and uninterested in the damage being done throughout our government and around the world by a lawless, incompetent president and the complicit Republicans. I know that he watched the evening news on a daily basis, because we all watched the evening news together back then, and I used to watch him reading the entire paper – not just the sports section – so I know he had a pretty good idea of what was going on in the government and the world before he exercised his right to vote.

The Republicans’ goal for decades has been to prevent as many people of color as possible from entering the US from anywhere else; had they been successful back in the fifties, it’s quite possible that you and your brother wouldn’t even exist. Your Mom marrying a man from the Philippines back in the fifties was a big deal back then, and I’m sure that your parents were on the receiving end of a lot of racist crap during their marriage. The point is that the people who win elections get to make the rules about who to let in and who to keep out. It is abundantly clear that leaving Republicans in charge of anything related to immigration or equality for all is very much like the fox watching the hen house. Electing a person uniquely unqualified for any of the tasks a US president must address along with keeping Republicans who have not interest in governing or legislating in office leaves all the rest of us subject to Trump’s whims and his inability to ever let any real or perceived insult or negative opinion go without a fight. Trump has never cared at all about the country; he entered the 2016 election in order to get free publicity so that he could start his own cable network; then, the unimaginable happened.

This is NOT the face of a happy person!

Trump didn’t want to win; he’s spent his whole life not working at a job he couldn’t get fired from that he didn’t have to apply for – just like his three older children have done – and the last thing he wanted was an actual job that required him to focus for more time than he ever had to in his entire life on someone other than himself. The look on his face in the photo above says all that and more.

Billie, right now the Republicans in the Senate, after refusing to consider the HEROES Act that the House sent to them May 12th to provide additional stimulus during the pandemic have taken two whole days to ‘legislate’ the Heals Act behind closed doors that gives businesses, hospitals and schools five years of liability protection retroactive to 2019 while cutting the weekly emergency unemployment payments from $600 to $200, because of course Republicans have to insist that it’s the $600 weekly benefit check preventing people from going to work, not the pandemic raging through a country without any plan to stop it or even slow it down. Apparently, these professional politicians don’t understand that the only reason that the “economy” has done as well as it has through the pandemic so far relative to the number of people out of work has been that $600 bonus, which has permitted millions to remain in their homes, buy groceries and other necessities, and keep their heads almost above water. Republicans also fail to see the irony when they indignantly point out that some people are making more money now than when they were working – because of course the answer to that wouldn’t be increasing the pay for those workers, right? The moratorium on evictions, foreclosures and other legal actions due to a lack of payment are going to expire, and who knows how many families will be forced our of their homes in the midst of a pandemic; state and local governments are going to have to significantly reduce services to help their citizens because the HEALS Act includes only funds for schools, although just a tenth of what the House proposed. Student loan deferments are also ignored in the HEALS Act.

The HEROES Act addresses state, local, tribal and territorial governments and provides stimulus funds for them all; along with the HEALS Act, it recommends a second $1,200 stimulus payment to every adult, but that is the only major similarity in the two. The House bill expands paid sick days, family and medical leave, nutrition and food assistance programs, housing assistance, unemployment, and payments to farmers. It also eliminates cost-sharing for Covid-19 testing and treatment in addition to a range of other policies. The bill passed because of the Democrats – only one Republican supported the bill.

Elections have consequences, Billie. An uninformed electorate distracted by social media posts that often have no basis in fact while they avoid any of the actual journalism still available in multiple formats is a large part of how we ended up here. Once upon a time, when it was unthinkable that someone so completely lacking in ability, restraint or a willingness to follow norms and laws could be elected to the highest office in the country, it may have been acceptable to proudly proclaim yourself to have “Zero interest in politics…” The last forty years or so have demonstrated that those among us who have chosen to abdicate their civic responsibility by simply ignoring everything political including refusing to vote is somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 million. It is unacceptable in the time of viral social media posts and massive disinformation from the president’s Twitter account for anyone eligible to vote to remain on the sidelines, or to stay ignorant of the facts before they cast their votes.

Billie, you owe it to your country, your fellow citizens, and the next generation to take some time out of your life (maybe every time you go outside to smoke) to learn why you should care about these things.

I hope you understand that I’m only telling you this because I have been paying attention to ‘politics’, not because I like them, but because what those people do matters. No one should sit back and let others make the big decisions, because everything that the government does and does not do has an effect on every one of us. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the cars we drive, how our homes are built, how efficient our appliances are…. All that and more than I can write in this post are affected by the government, and how much or little you are personally touched by those things is also a function of some part of government. You have no legitimate excuse for remaining uninformed and disinterested in the political landscape while your country literally burns around you.

The price of apathy is to be ruled by evil men.

Plato

What are the People Around Trump Thinking?

I spent twenty-three years as a registered nurse and had occasion to administer the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) to patients who were residents in the long-term care facility where I was employed.  The various tasks assigned to the patient are part of a very rudimentary screening tool designed to determine if there is a need for more specialized evaluations and scans for diagnosis and treatment.  The questions are therefore not meant to be ‘hard’, as they do not require any actual knowledge of anything, only the ability to follow directions and remember things someone just told you to remember.

Trump challenged Fox’s Chris Wallace to take the MoCA, particularly the last 5 questions.  Wallace recalled the one calling for “counting backwards by 7 from 100”, and Trump repeated his claims that the person administering the test was impressed by Trump’s ability to answer those questions correctly.  Wallace is heard saying “93…” while Trump speaks over him as he usually does.  The point is the last portion of the test after the animal drawing identification section are:

  • Memory (No points here, see below)
    • Read subject list of 5 words (face, velvet, church, daisy, red), have subject repeat list twice to reinforce retention.  Do recall test in 5 minutes (see Delayed Recall below)
  • Attention (6 points total)
    • Read list of digits at 1 per second (0-2/2)
      • (2 1 8 5 4) – subject to repeat in forward order (0-1/1)
      • (7 4 2) – subject to repeat in reverse order (0-1/1)
  • Read list of letters.  Subject must tap hand at each letter “A”. (0-1/1, no points for ≥ 2 errors)
  • F B A C M N A A J K L B A F A K D E A A A A J A M O F A A B
  • Serial 7 subtraction (4 or 5 subtractions) starting at 100 (4 or 5 correct = 3/3, 2 or 3 correct = 2/3, 1 correct = 1/3, 0 correct = 0/3)
  • 93           86           79           72           65
  • Language (3 points total)
    • Repeat the following:  “I only know that John is the one to help today.” (0-1/2)  “The cat always hid under the couch when dogs were in the room.” (0-1/2)
    • Name maximum number of words in one minute that begin with the letter “F”. (1 – 10 words = 0/1, ≥ 11 words = 1/1)
  • Abstraction (2 points total)
    • Identify the similarity between two words (i.e., broccoli – asparagus = vegetable): 
      • train – bicycle (0-1/1)
      • watch – ruler (0-1/1)
  • Delayed Recall  (5 points total)
    • Recall words from Memory above (face-velvet-church-daisy-red)
      • With no cue (0-1/5)
      • With category cue (0/5)
      • With multiple-choice cue (0/5)
  • Orientation (6 points total)
    • Date (0-1/1)
    • Month (0-1/1)
    • Year (0-1/1)
    • Day (0-1/1)
    • Place (0-1/1)
    • City (0-1/1)

I’ve had issues with the day and date since I stopped working; after all, if you don’t have to be anywhere in particular ever, what difference is it what day or date it is?  I have an iPhone that reminds me when I do have somewhere to be, and I’ve gotten lazy about actually knowing without looking at my phone the day or date.  It’s the same with phone numbers – I can still recite from heart ALL of my previous telephone numbers, and I used to be able to call anyone I knew simply by dialing their numbers from memory, but not anymore.  In fact, the only telephone number besides my own that I can dial without looking it up first is my daughter’s cell which I had to dial into the phones I used at work.  Now, I only use my cellphone and so never actually punch in the numbers anymore, and I know that it’s no longer necessary for me to remember them, so that information is now lost to me.  It seems that the information I no longer keep top of mind is that which is easiest to outsource to my technology, and I think that makes sense.  Also, anytime I’m being checked by medical professionals for my cognitive status, I’m there because I have an appointment, so have had the present day/date information brought to my attention and have no trouble remembering it if asked.

Anyway, my point in bringing all this up is, once again…

What is wrong with the people around Trump who are willing to let him display his rank incompetence and questionable cognitive status on camera?  Are they also delusional?  Doesn’t anyone in Trump’s circle of suck-ups have the insight to acknowledge that this ship is going down in a big hurry, taking all of them with it?  Or are they so craven in their greed that they intend to hold on to power until they are forced out in January when Biden is inaugurated?  How can any of these cult followers claim to care at all about the country, its citizens, or our democracy?  Each new breach of the Constitution Trump and Barr perform in full view of the world takes our reputation further into the gutter and our ability to right this mess harder.  Apparently, no one in the Republican Party has any shits left to give about any of the rest of us, especially their own constituents, as they refuse to do what’s best for us all to stop this pandemic.  I’ve said before that thinning the herd of cultists may not be so bad, especially when it’s due to their own stupidity.

Someone who has to keep ‘boasting’ about how well they did on a screening for dementia isn’t showing how smart or cognitively intact they are – they are revealing their massive insecurities in their own mental abilities.  Trump has used misdirection, hyperbole and repetition since he was a child under Fred’s tutelage to force those around him to treat him like the successful real estate tycoon he was convinced by his father he was, despite having copious proof to the contrary.  His tactics are ineffective and outright dangerous, to us as individuals and as a collective democracy, when faced with a pandemic and his own upcoming election.  Trump cannot lie or perseverate away more than 144,000 dead Americans, and his refusal to recognize that nothing he has done while in the White House has earned him another four years of destroying our government and our place in the world at large is yet another example of his inability to function within the reality that face everyone else on the planet. 

Trump’s behavior since he was inaugurated, facilitated by his cadre of sycophants and lackeys, has caused so much damage throughout not just our country, but the entire world, will take generations to roll back.  During his tenure, he has wasted TRILLIONS OF OUR TAX DOLLARS on vanity projects and lawsuits, defense of his own illiberal and illogical ‘executive orders’ and of course, by paying outrageous sums of money to his own company by visiting them at every possible chance on our dime. 

Everyone who has in any way supported this lawless administration and executive should find no doors open to them when they are removed from office in January.  No corporate offices should be welcoming any of them into the suites; no institutions of higher education should provide them with the platform to spread their propaganda to impressionable young minds.  The Republican Party as a whole must be firmly and effectively frozen out of all possible opportunities to do anything except make a middle-class income for the rest of their lives, since they have proven themselves completely lacking in the qualities necessary to actually run anything meant to benefit others beyond themselves. 

I have to believe that this is the administration that will finally put to rest the practice of ‘moving on’ and refusing to address the illegal actions of the preceding administration, often one of the opposite political party.  This is not meant to encourage specious, illegitimate ‘investigations’ like those now being sought in the Senate and Barr’s ‘Justice’ Department; rather, it is to hope that those who were responsible for so much of the corruption during the Trump administration will be investigated, tried and convicted of their misdeeds, especially Trump and his family. 

Biden Doesn’t Have to Overcome Misogyny

Why is it so surprising to anyone how well Joe Biden is doing pretty much every legitimate poll there is? We all know that the reason Hillary isn’t President of the United States right now had nothing to do with her ability to do the job and everything to do with her lack of male genitalia. That’s the reason why so many people hated her, since there was actually no logical reason for those who never met her to be so vehemently opposed to her being in the highest office in the land. Consequently, Joe Biden’s white male persona doesn’t elicit the same intensely negative feelings, and Trump finds it difficult to trash talk Biden the way he still does Hillary. Trump believes men belong in charge, specifically white men, so he’s now limited himself to a dangerous comparison – Biden’s cognitive and linguistic abilities compared to his own. Somehow, Trump still believes his own bullshit; that he has the capacity to debate Joe Biden on camera and somehow come out looking like he has one functioning brain cell. Seriously, how can his family (excluding his cousin Mary, whose new book I’m halfway through) who are purported to love him not convince him to resign instead of continuing to make a fool of himself live on camera every time he opens his mouth to speak?

For all those old white people, particularly men, who just couldn’t hold their noses in 2016 to vote for Hillary to keep Trump from winning are now perfectly content voting for white, male Joe Biden. This is unsurprising and yet still so sad. How can it be that in the 21st century there are still men too insecure in their own masculinity to find it palatable to have a woman as commander-in-chief?

I’m happy to have all of them vote for Joe Biden in November; anyone with the common sense to recognize that the most important thing in this election is to remove Trump from the White House is welcome onto our bandwagon, but there is one caveat to that welcome. If you want me to be excited because you finally realized what’s happening in the real world, outside the Fox media bubble, then I need to hear you acknowledge that this is exactly where the Republican Party has been heading since the Reagan years, that Trumpism was the only next step the GOP could take given it’s trajectory. I need to hear you admit that none of the awful things Trump has done since being turned loose in the Oval Office in 2017 were a surprise, that they really didn’t bother you all that month, because the main concern of your Republican Party was always to keep all the goodies for yourselves while essentially starving all the rest of us out of the country. I insist that each of you look me in the eye and tell me that your party, so focused on maintaining male white supremacy without regard for the consequences of your actions, has participated without fear of reprisals or a scintilla of empathy for all those you’ve hurt with your regressive policies for decades because it benefited you and helped you maintain your grasp on the power at the highest levels. I don’t want to listen to your false claims that Trump was an aberration, or that your party’s refusal to actually govern since the Reagan administration has been anything other than what it so clearly has been – outright greed, both for money and for power.

Nothing the Republican Party has done during it’s time in power over the last forty years has been on behalf of the actual people of this country – the tax breaks, regulation roll backs, judicial nominations were all done to benefit themselves and their donors while simultaneously hurting everyone else, including their own voters who for reasons I will never understand continued to support these greedy bastards. They have touted their supposed ‘faith’ as a reason to withhold reproductive healthcare from more than half the citizens of this country, because of course women lack the ability to decide what to do with their own bodies and for sure the continued existence of a parasitic being not yet born is ALWAYS more important to them than actual living, breathing beings. That has been brought home to roost during the raging Covid-19 pandemic that Trump and his cronies have so successfully allowed to spread without check throughout much of their voting base.

Brian Kemp, the scumbag who as the Georgia secretary of state oversaw his own election for governor and stole said election from Stacey Abrams, has passed a rule preventing all local officials in his state from mandating the use of face masks to help mitigate the spread of the virus. Greg Abbott, governor of Texas and fellow Trump sycophant, refuses to mandate masks in his state or allow local leaders to put out their own mitigation efforts as well while the largest hospital system in the world is overwhelmed by coronavirus patients. And then there’s Ron DeSantis, another Trump ass leach whose stupidity is on display every day as he continues to refuse to address the pandemic raging through his state that may have the highest percentage of white elderly people in the country. They and they ilk clearly have no interest in preserving the lives of those already born, many of them in their twilight years and a disproportionate number of whom are black and brown skinned, since they, like Trump, don’t believe that most of those people are ‘their voters’. This is what the Republican Party has come to, after decades of public policy almost laser focused on their white supremacist ideals. Trump’s birtherism during the Obama presidency fit right in with their plans; Mitch McConnell’s complete obstruction of anything to benefit the public proposed by the Obama administration only served to further their cause, and Trump determined to do everything he could to erase the legacy that Obama and his scandal-free eight years in office accomplished for the good of the people.

For his entire life, Donald Trump has been able to repeat his lies over and over until everyone else accepted them as the truth, even when they knew it wasn’t. Because he never had to get a real job anywhere other than at his daddy’s company, Donny was never required to follow rules or listen to anyone outside his own head. Thus, we are living in a pandemic as though we were a third-world country. Because he was deprived of love or affection by his father’s sociopathy, he lacks any ability to feel empathy for anyone. He has never been able to care about anyone except himself, despite his three marriages and numerous children. Trump recognized that a beautiful woman and children on his arm and trailing behind him made him look more successful, so he made sure to find women equally interested in his money. Not that I blame them for being mercenary – Trump is just a complete asshole to be around, self-absorbed and selfish, and would never have had a wife or any kids if he’d been broke. I can say that with confidence even though I’ve never met him in person; beauty may be skin deep, but assholery goes all the way through to the bone!

Trump has caused so much destruction, both intentionally and through his ignorant negligence of the way the federal government works, that it will likely require more than two continuous terms of Democratic administrations to put things not just back to the way they were, but more importantly, better in ways that help bring financial, social and legal equality to all the marginalized communities while also enshrining into law requirements for those holding higher office in this country to prevent someone like Trump, whether on the right or the left, from ever taking advantage of our system of norms again. It should not be possible to allow a clearly lawless individual like Trump to continue to break the law simply by virtue of winning an election – no one should be above the law, especially the person in the most powerful position in the country!!! It should not be acceptable for the Attorney General to politicize the workings of the Justice Department to benefit a lawless president without fear of recriminations. And the time has come to put into place requirements for some realistic prerequisites for everyone who wants to run for president in this country, including comprehensive psychological evaluations and cognitive testing that verifies that everyone trying to get the job has the ability to handle the responsibilities and evaluate the information necessary using written words (not just pictures) to make actual informed decisions versus our current straits with an ignoramus who consults with his own brain. No one who lacks the basic ability to express empathy for others should be able to throw their hat into the electoral ring regardless of their political leaning; ditto for those without compassion or who have a known history of repressive behavior towards minorities, people of color or women.

My son, who turned forty this past May (I know – I was an infant when I had him!) has fallen into some kind of cynical hole that has convinced him that almost everyone involved in politics does so for personal financial gain. He is still unable to even lie to me by assuring me that of course he’ll be voting for Joe Biden in November. He continues to insist that Hillary as president would have done a better job handling the pandemic only because it would have helped to get her elected to a second term, not because it was the right thing to do, and I can’t figure out what to say to him that will help change his mind. A few weeks ago, I asked him to forward to me his ‘news sources’, since last I’d heard he was listening to some guy on YouTube, which honestly is no different than reading this blog and assuming everything I opine about is true. Yes, I try to fact check the things I can, but much of what I’m writing here is my opinion, which, like assholes, everyone has. He sent me a couple of links, which I found were commentary and not fact-based, and I disputed his sources by advising he seek out those with actual journalism. After that first attempt, I’ve received no new links and still he insists that his skewed perceptions are reality. It’s disturbing, to say the least.

I don’t know if I’ll succeed in convincing my son to cast his single vote in Pennsylvania for Joe Biden, and I think it’s unlikely to matter by then as Trump continues to be ignore that hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens are dead because of his sociopathic incompetence and millions are infected with Covid-19 and may have lifelong health problems as a consequence. Even Trump’s repeated lies cannot outpace the virus, and his own followers have found themselves forced to make an existential choice….

Is sticking your thumb in the Democrats eye worth risking your life?

I’m a Mask-Making Fool

When Covid-19 first hit and PPE was scarce, I read online that pillowcases and sheets were good material to use for making face masks. My habit of keeping items I’ve stopped using for their intended purchase but are still good for something around the house was justified when I was able to go upstairs and grab several pillowcases, which I immediately ripped apart at the seams to use as a flat piece of cloth to cut out face masks. After I made multiple masks from the same boring, solid-colored red, blue, white and tan pillowcases I had to work with, I went online and ordered a pack of ‘quilting squares’ that were 11″ x 11″, just big enough to get one mask from each square. Then, I waited. And waited. And waited.

Late last month, the package of fabric squares finally arrived, and I picked through my assortment way more excited than I should have been, given the point of the whole thing. I took the patterns I wanted people to see and cut them for the outer layer, then cut the flowery ones I wasn’t inclined to wear anywhere and used those to line many of the masks, falling back on my old solid-colored pillowcases when I ran out of the squares.

Over the course of about two weeks (during which time I also worked on an attempt at re-opening my above-ground pool (a horror for another day!) and other outside chores common to many homeowners around the world during the summer months, I made forty-seven unique face masks. Thanks to my friend Mikey (who donated some funds to my purchase of a replacement sewing machine), I’ve now got a gently-used sewing machine that I expect will last the rest of my life to make, hopefully, something more than face masks. That remains to be seen.

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.

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.