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.

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.

Magical Thinking Is Killing Thousands

Why aren’t more people outraged at the callous, nonchalant manner with which Trump repeatedly tries to justify the thousands and thousands of us whose lives will be lost as a direct result of his inaction, incompetence and complete lack of interest in anything other than securing his own reelection?

Trump keeps pushing Republican governors to “reopen” their economies, and every mitigation effort that is relaxed in this dangerous effort raises the likely death toll, so now Trump no longer “believes” the same CDC and University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) models he’s been fully on board with for months.  Not that this behavior is new for Trump, who recently flew into a rage and threatened to sue his campaign manager when Brad Parscall revealed polls showing Trump losing the election to Joe Biden.

Trump’s life experience has so far supported his magical thinking, and he prefers to rely on his ‘gut’ for management of everything, including the country, versus taking advantage of actual experts.  Certainly, for Donald Trump, rules and laws are just suggestions that he can follow or not as he chooses.  Consequences are not a thing for Donald Trump. 

  • Owe money to subcontractors for work completed as promised?  Refuse to pay, let them sue, fight them in court until they give up or settle for pennies on the dollar.
  • Demands from the House for documents and testimony?  Obstruct, delay, and make specious claims of “absolute immunity”, anything to run out the clock without producing anything.
  • Participation in your own impeachment?  Use questionable legal representatives willing to permanently tarnish their reputations and careers, to make unconstitutional and/or illegal arguments while trying to shift the focus to political opponent.
  • Perform the duties required as the President of the United States?  If said ‘duty’ benefits Trump and excites the base, then no problem.  If it’s going to benefit places he sees as Blue, he wants something in return.
  • Disband the Covid-19 task force while cases continue to rise?  Why not, it’s time to ‘reopen the country’.  “We can’t stay closed for five years.”
  • Protect the American people from all threats, foreign and domestic?  Where to start?

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” is a saying for a reason.  Trump has been doing the same thing since this pandemic was first brought to his attention in December (per the latest reports) – continuing to plow onward using the sheer force of his will to make  the coronavirus magically disappear.  Or now, by demanding that his toadies in governorship’s across the country do his bidding and “reopen”, as if doing so will make the rest of us lose our minds and go running out to go bowling or see a movie, unmasked and vulnerable, in large groups.

Trump has no problem saying on camera that people will die because of his focus on the economy instead of the health of the citizens for whom he is responsible, despite his inability to actual accept that he is responsible for anything.  He is doing this in such a chaotic fashion in large part to have a scapegoat upon whom he can lay blame for the resurgence of cases certain to occur in areas led by fools in the Fox media bubble.  He is not being forced to make this choice by circumstances; it is his intention to focus on the economy because it was the only thing pre-Covid-19 he hadn’t broken or grossly mismanaged, and his only concern is always and forever himself.  He has nothing else to point to during his time as president that did as well as the stock market, although what he really did was simply not fuck up what Obama had started – until Covid-19.  Trump’s refusal to first address the health crisis from Covid-19 will prevent any real economic recovery to happen because people aren’t nearly as stupid as Trump.  Personally, I don’t want to get sick from Covid-19, and studies have shown that 80% of the people wearing masks that are 60% effective can prevent the spread of the virus, so wearing a mask whenever we go out in public has to happen until a vaccine is widely available and administered to at least 60% of the population.  Trump will not require that we all wear masks in public, and is incapable of making the small sacrifice to his vanity that wearing a mask in public entails to encourage voluntary mask usage by example, despite the CDC recommendation to do so.  Viruses do not apply to Trump.

The testing that has been made available to Trump and everyone he has contact with has given him a sense of security that the rest of us have no access to, and again he’s being saved from the consequences of his own behavior.  When the person at the head of the government cannot find it within himself to don a mask when in a public setting for the benefit of the people around him, it incentivizes the selfish to skip the masks too.  I would have been more surprised if Trump had worn a mask, given his inability to acknowledge that he is not the only one who matters.

Trump’s lifetime ignoring the rules has convinced him that his magical thinking works, so here we are, with a leader whose number one go-to for everything is to just keep saying what he wishes were true until everyone believes him or moves on to the next scandal.  Unfortunately for us all, viruses care not what anyone says, they just multiply and transmit to as many hosts as possible as fast as they can.  We have about two weeks before the curve goes way up in all the places with leaders craven enough to kill their own constituents.

Currently, models of those parts of the country that haven’t hit their peak, excluding the areas first hit (like the tristate area in the east, California, Washington), show cases are clearly trending upwards in those areas.  Some of those places never issued stay at home orders at all, while others closed late and relaxed orders too early, and none have come close to following the recommendations issued by the CDC and White House a few weeks ago, so it’s not surprising that they are still actively spreading the virus.  Many of the places with the highest number of cases voted for Trump in 2016.

While the majority of the country that has historically voted Republican gets to experience what the more densely packed areas on the coasts have lived with for weeks, their governors are doing the exact opposite of what they should be to get the disease under control and save lives.  Testing is still a huge problem all over the country, given Trump’s inability to do his job, and many states have tested only a small fraction of their population so have no idea how widespread the virus is in their own state.  Many rural areas of the country were already severely medically underserved, with fewer hospitals that are further apart.  Local community hospitals have limited or no ICU capacity, and ventilators are scarcer than in the cities as well, so it takes longer to get patients to the large facilities capable of caring for them with respiratory failure. 

The Senate Republicans continued refusal to send local and state governments’ stimulus funds to make up for tax income lost because of the pandemic is nothing short of willful negligence.  There will be massive job losses because municipalities all over the country will be unable to pay for police, fire, EMS, trash pickup, and other services funded by taxes, and adding all these workers to the unemployment rolls is not in the best interest of the country.  All of our municipal workers, many of whom are front-line essential for the usual functioning of our lives, have to remain employed and working in a safe manner.  Anything that the federal government has to do to ensure that this occurs isn’t a partisan thing, it’s an American thing.  People in Kentucky, Idaho, West Virginia, Tennessee, Texas and Utah all need to know when they call 911 for an emergency that someone will answer and come to their aid.  The same is true for those of us on the coasts, and our much larger populations have historically paid the taxes that have helped the states with the most need, such as Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee that have smaller, poorer populations because that is what Americans do – we lift up those who need the boost to help them move up the ladder.

I hate that there are Republican governors whose disregard for the lives of their own residents has resulted in the deaths of many of those residents, while my own Governor Phil Murphy extended the stay at home order for another thirty days to help keep New Jersians safe.  Using partisan politics as a metric for how to handle a deadly pandemic should permanently disqualify all who do so from ever holding any office of public trust again.  There is nothing about this that should be normalized – it is not okay to choose money over life, period.  Note that none who so cavalierly equate their stock portfolio with the life of any of the rest of us have offered to be one of those sacrificed to their cause.  Since they lack the will to put their own lives at risk, why are they forcing the most vulnerable of their constituents to choose between a paycheck and possible death?  Some are threatening their residents with cutting off unemployment benefits if they refuse to return to work due to fear of contracting Covid-19, rather than requiring that all employers ensure the safety of their workers using social distancing and the right PPE for the job. 

Where is the CDC in all this?  Rachel Maddow has been talking about what appears to be a silencing of the experts at the CDC around Covid-19, particularly with regard to worker protections in meat packing plants, protecting congregate residential facilities and their employees, detention facilities, jails and prisons – all places with significant viral outbreaks and almost no testing/tracing or real mitigation efforts.  Why has the CDC gone silent now, in the midst of the worst pandemic in our lifetime?  And why aren’t any of the Republicans in government at all bothered by the sidelining of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at this pivotal moment?   I can’t wrap my head around it.

Trump continues to strip from the administration any and all professionals, experts, and dedicated civil servants who have the audacity to do their job and speak truth to power and to the country, with the full support of the Republican Party.  They are complicit with the destruction of the structures of our federal government and its ability to do what it was designed to do.  They do this and then point to the failure they caused and say, “See, government isn’t good for anything and should be dismantled.”  Their ownership of the outcome will be nil, while they use the Fox bubble to convince the base that the Chinese, or the Mexicans, or Muslims, or Democrats, or some new ‘other’ not yet identified are to blame for all their pain and suffering.

The Republican Party has brought us to this place – their policies for decades have taken funding from education, public health, the social safety net, infrastructure, and basically anything to benefit the people in order to line the pockets of the super wealthy, the fossil fuel industry and the military industrial complex.  When in power, they cut taxes for the rich and big corporations, and then insist on taking money from the social safety net and public benefits when in the minority to make up for the ‘deficit’ they created with their tax cuts in the first place, forcing Democrats into untenable ‘compromises’.  Now they’re trying again to give more money to their donors while leaving millions without rent, mortgage payments, food money, utility payments, car payments, insurance payments, etc.  The right-wing media that refuses to expose this to those in its bubble should be held accountable for the damages its propaganda has caused. 

I was afraid that success at mitigating the spread of the virus by maintaining stay at home orders and strict social distancing would be so anticlimactic that those in charge who lack the insight to acknowledge their own deficits would be unable to recognize that the thing to do next would be to stay the course until everything needed for the next step is in place.  Without adequate, highly accurate testing and contact tracing, it will be impossible to isolate the virus as it flares up in places all over the country until it has spread far and wide, leading to spikes as bad or worse than this first one has been and is still around the country.

Polls show that some 80% of respondents recognize that the virus does not answer to Republicans, and that continued isolation and containment is the only way to manage Covid-19 until a widespread vaccine is available, and I hope that’s representative of the population as a whole.  Since it is apparent that we cannot rely on the federal fucking government to do what it should in a crisis like this, each of us has to do the right thing for everyone else.  That means everyone wearing masks in public, maintaining physical distancing of at least six feet from everyone else, and staying away from others not in your family bubble by remaining at home. 

I left work on long-term disability a few years back and live alone (with Libby and Frankie), so I’m accustomed to being by myself most of the time, but I miss my family and friends too.  My hair is pretty scary after two missed haircuts, and I’ve had to reschedule my PCP visit three times so far.  I’m waiting for deliveries of mask making materials and other items for projects around my house and property.  My canister vacuum and my steam iron decided they’d had enough this week and are now sitting in the trash for pickup tomorrow, but I’m really not too put out by staying at home.  Sadly, the people whose jobs are most important to the daily lives of many of us do not have the option of staying at home to avoid the virus, and they all should be given hazard pay as well as paid sick time and healthcare coverage.  This pandemic has made the idiocy of employer-based healthcare painfully obvious.

In his closing arguments in the impeachment ‘trial’ in the Senate, Adam Schiff said, “…you know you can’t trust this President to do what’s right for this country. You can trust he will do what’s right for Donald Trump. He’ll do it now. He’s done it before. He’ll do it for the next several months. He’ll do it in the election if he’s allowed to….”  Representative Schiff hit the nail on the head, and we are all paying the price for the Republican Senators’ inability to hold Trump accountable for his own behavior, as Trump has grown accustomed to during his lifetime.  A lack of consequences in response to bad behavior leads inextricably to escalating outrageous and destructive behavior.  Trump was assured by the Senate that there is nothing he can do for which he will pay the price, and he has no reason to worry that this will change.  His only concern now is ensuring his own reelection, and he couldn’t care less how many Americans die in the pursuit of that goal, because the lives of everyday Americans do not matter one bit to Donald Trump.

Trump knows that his only hope of avoiding legal jeopardy in January, 2021, is to be reelected and outlast the statute of limitations for the crimes we already know he’s committed.  Each and every life lost to Covid-19 is Trump’s responsibility, and in the best outcome possible, he will lose the election and Attorney General Kamala Harris will find a way to charge him with negligent homicide for all of them.  At his trial, he’ll be found guilty and thrown in jail for the rest of his miserable life.

A girl can dream.

You Must Testify in the House, Dr. Fauci

From National Geographic

I just can’t understand how there are people anywhere in the country right now so brainwashed by right-wing media propaganda that they cannot see what is being foisted onto them by the wealthy donor class.  While the ones making all the noise in the Fox media bubble about “opening up the economy” and “give me my freedom” are fully insulated from any fear of catching Covid-19 by virtue of their wealth and status, they are funding “Astroturf” demonstrations in cities all over the country by people armed with assault rifles and other firearms who are almost entirely white and still employed.  The ones who are most at risk by a “return to normal” are the lowest-paid, mostly minority citizens or immigrants with the least to gain by being forced back to a job without adequate protections or sufficient testing to keep them from getting the virus.  I haven’t seen anyone like that at any of those stupid protests.

It’s amazing to me that it is still possible for propaganda to convince such large swaths of people of outright lies that are easily debunked with just a few Google searches.  A virus has no interest in the political leaning of the human host that it infects, and a lack of belief in the virus does not provide immunity.   It is not the wealthy donors/corporate leaders that incite these Tea-Party-esque protests who are out in the streets spreading Covid-19; many of the armed protestors were members of militias, along with extremist groups and conspiracy theorists attracting in-kind attention.  These are a loud, vocal but statistically insignificant section of society encouraged to expose themselves to Covid-19 by groups supporting the presidential reelection.  The vast majority of us agree that it is too soon to relax social distancing guidelines or to go back into enclosed spaces with large groups of people.  Nothing the Republicans and their donors are doing now in any way is meant to benefit the vast majority of us, and anyone who tries to tell you anything different is lying to you. 

Every one of the loudmouth idiots on right-wing media claiming that getting the “economy” going again is worth a loss of some lives continue to keep themselves and their loved ones safely sheltering at home, away from the masses that includes the rest of us.  Our lives are of no importance to them in the big picture, as they see the rest of us as expendable and of little use if we’re not promoting a cause that benefits their corporate line.

Everyone who died after contracting Covid-19 mattered to someone, and their deaths are being mourned by loved ones all over the world.  It is notable that there have been few publicized cases of Covid-19 in the Republican Party higher echelon.  There were a few representatives, and of course Senator Rand Paul (who continued to expose everyone with whom he had contact while he waited for his test results) who tested positive early on, but all of them had an uneventful disease course and recovery.  To the best of my knowledge, none have lost family members or close friends to the virus, what with their white privilege and higher net worth versus the population at large.  Trump, Pence and everyone with whom they come into contact are getting tested regularly, while those of us in the real world can only access tests that may take days to return results if we’re hospitalized and symptomatic, so no one knows who among us are asymptomatic carriers.  Still, Trump keeps pushing to “reopen our country” while regularly but insufficiently raising the expected number of Americans who will not survive his negligence while trying to convince his base he has no responsibility for those unnecessary and totally preventable deaths.

Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York said, “They want to fund corporate America.  That’s who puts money in their pockets.  And I say let’s fund working Americans.  That’s the choice.”  The Republicans in power at the federal, state and even local levels are parroting Trump’s reelection politics and also focusing foolishly on the economics of the pandemic, rather than sensibly addressing the pandemic, which is the only way the economics will improve.  I don’t care how many beauty shops, massage studios, tattoo parlors or restaurants are approved to reopen – if customers don’t feel safe enough to come in, there will be no recovery.

This is the bottom line for the Republican Party – keep the money flowing to their donors so it can find its way into their reelection coffers.  They have sold their voters a real bill of goods using dog whistle politics.  Trump’s xenophobic attack on the “Chinese” or “Wuhan” virus – like he used immigration from Central and South America during the 2016 election – and a debunked conspiracy theory that the virus was 1) man-made in a lab in Wuhan and released or 2) released accidentally from a Wuhan lab where they were experimenting with virus in monkeys, are just the start.  Republicans all over the country have jumped onto the bandwagon with Trump, including (no surprise) Jeff Sessions, Tom Cotton, Kris Kobach, Josh Hawley, John Cornyn, Lindsey Graham and Martha McSally.  They and many more are utilizing this rhetoric in their campaign ads, and they have no problem saying so out loud in public.  These things strike a chord in voters with a tendency towards racism and xenophobia, and they have learned to manipulate their constituents by tapping into this underlying inclination.  Birtherism, confederate flags, “illegal aliens” – all are used to inflame racial tensions and divide us.

When right-wing media – particularly Fox – supports this skewed and highly prejudicial messaging, it makes it easier to keep their viewers tuned in to their propaganda.  Who doesn’t want to have their own biases confirmed by the host on your favorite “news” channel?  No one questions whatever garbage comes at them from their screens; confirmation bias keeps the bullshit meter quiet, and using this xenophobic rhetoric helps to distract from Trump’s utter failure to protect us.

Trump is getting tired of Dr. Anthony Fauci and his inconvenient facts and realistic predictions for what’s likely coming in the next year, and he’s starting to do what he always does when someone with a brain disagrees with his own “feelings” – he’s pushing Dr. Fauci off the stage and out of sight of his base.  Trump refuses to let Dr. Fauci testify before the House Appropriations Committee, claiming he has to focus on Covid-19 and doesn’t have time to waste on pointless oversight, but he’s approved Fauci’s appearance next week in the Senate.  Trump has stated out loud that this is because “Trump-haters” are in the House. 

I know that Dr. Fauci has devoted his professional career to the NIAID/NIH, where he began as a clinical associate after completing his residency in 1968.   He worked his way up to director in 1984, and was instrumental in HIV/AIDS research.  I applaud his service to the country over all those years, and thank him sincerely for choosing a career in public health instead of the more lucrative private practice route.  I appreciate his desire to continue on after this has passed, but desperate times really do call for desperate measures.  This desperate time calls for Dr. Fauci to make the ultimate sacrifice for the good of the country, maybe even the world, and resign from NIAID so that he can appear before the House and testify freely about all that he knows regarding the federal government’s response (or lack thereof) to this pandemic.  Trump knows that his inability to do what is best for the country will once again be on full display if Dr. Fauci is able to enlighten us, but his ability to quash Dr. Fauci’s testimony drops to zero once Dr. Fauci leaves the NIAID and becomes just another private citizen. 

Dr. Fauci is seventy-nine years old, and (as my dad used to say), has more years behind him than he does in front.  It is time for him to pack up his desk and head off into the sunset of retirement, freeing him to testify in the House.  I’m sure that Dr. Fauci believes he can do more good by remaining in his position to push the science to manage the pandemic, but I think he’s fallen victim to the same magical thinking that has spread like a virus throughout the entire executive branch.  Remember Jim Mattis, Rex Tillerson, Reince Priebus, John Bolton and John Kelly?

Trump does not listen to anyone with expertise in any field.  The fact that Trump himself is singularly, incredibly and uniformly uninformed, under-informed and misinformed about everything that he needs to do or manage in his role as president is obvious to anyone who takes a few minutes to fact find.  It never ceases to astound me that Fox viewers, who have listened to Trump ramble on for hours and hours, bouncing from one subject to another while making almost no sense, still cannot put together his incoherence and incompetence as the existential threat to our very existence as a democracy and as humans that has been so apparent to the rest of us.  This is why Dr. Fauci has to stand up and speak out now.  Otherwise, the preventable deaths that follow will weigh on him for the rest of his life.

Dr. Fauci must resign his position at NIAID and provide the House with any and all documentation they have requested in their investigation of the response to Covid-19.  He should also include unrequested information if it addresses the matter at hand.  Dr. Fauci’s testimony should be public, and the Republicans on the committee should be prevented from propagandizing – although how you accomplish the latter is beyond me.  We have already lost more than 65,000 citizens due in large part to the denial, down-playing and inaction of Trump and his administration.  To limit further loss of life, Dr. Fauci must speak out and elucidate what the president knew, when he knew it, what was recommended by the experts, and what he chose to do instead.  Dr. Fauci needs to clarify why the US didn’t utilize the WHO tests already proven to be effective instead of tasking the CDC with a job it was not designed to do, and any information he can provide with regard to the millions of PPE that was sold to China shortly before it was discovered that our own stockpiles of these items was beyond insufficient should be enlightening.  

Trump continues to purge the executive branch of all who dare to do their jobs, since most of those jobs entail the honest and public reporting of Trump’s wildly erratic and incoherent leadership, and Dr. Fauci’s time is drawing neigh.  Trump has never admitted wrongdoing or mistakes, whether intentional or unintentional, as his malignant narcissism completely avoids any introspection or contemplating the possibility that something he did was wrong or caused harm.  He lacks empathy, or even the ability to pretend to be empathetic, never failing to make everything, including the deaths of tens of thousands of us whose protection he is expected to foster, all about him.  Since starting these stupid coronavirus rallies (which is obviously what they are in Trump’s head), the Washington Post last week reported Trump had spoken for at least 28 hours over 35 briefings, more than two hours attacking opponents and the media, an hour praising himself and his administration, around nine minutes touting the use of unproven drugs as treatment for Covid-19, and a big 4 ½ minutes expressing sympathy over the dead.  A quarter of the things he said from prepared remarks were either false or outright misleading, culminating in his off-the-cuff suggestions to inject disinfectant or get “really powerful” light inside the body.  He later tried to claim he was being sarcastic.  We have eyes, Donny, so no.

Dr. Fauci, we love you, and under other circumstances, we would support you remaining at NIAID for as long as you want to be there.  This presidency and administration are something never before considered as an actual threat to our society, and your work at NIAID is superseded by your duty to protect Americans from the negligence and incompetence that Trump has spread throughout the administration in a deliberate strategy to destroy government as we know it.  I know that this isn’t how you expected to end your time at NIAID, but rest assured that doing this now is necessary for the good of the many…

not the few….

or the one.

History will remember your choice.  We will owe our lives to you.