Trump, the Fascist Swine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

I Wish I Had a Lawn Service

I love spring – in fact, it’s my favorite season.  What I like is weather that’s warm enough to work outside without a jacket and cool enough that I’m not dripping sweat (and I really sweat), and for sure that time is now.  I enjoy planting annuals in the beds I’ve made, getting my pond ready for the warm weather, and hopefully completing the repairs to my above-ground swimming pool so that I can actually use it this summer.  I’ve spent years slowly adding ground covers, planting beds and other projects throughout my property for both my ongoing enjoyments as well as to improve the final value of the place when I sell it.  I get personal satisfaction from using my own labor to accomplish these changes and the physical activity is beneficial to my overall health.  My friend Mike helped me get my garden tractor running for the season (although I’ve been doing it by myself since 1985!) last week, and it’s been raining almost every day since, so today was my first real chance to jump on the tractor for that first cut of the season.  I have to admit it – I hate mowing the grass!

We (my first husband and me) moved to my current home in 1984, when our kids were both under the age of five.   I was fortunate enough back then to be able to stay at home with the kids while their father was at work, and I made the mistake of offering to do the grass cutting that could be done with the tractor because of the novelty of it all.  This of course resulted in my being the one responsible for the inside of the house as well as more than an acre of ground on the outside, the kids all day and, much of the time, a part-time job in the evening after my husband came home from work and could take over the care of the kids.  What he did, to be honest, was babysit his own children, often acting as if he were an irresponsible teenager rather than a parent.  It’s bad enough having two kids to take care of, but adding a grown man who acts like a kid to the mix was more than I could stand.  “If this is ‘til death do us part,” I thought, “Then one of us better die soon!”  But I digress.

My first spring, with the new tractor and spreader, I drove all over the property spreading weed and feed, like the books I’d been reading recommended.  I was so frustrated a few weeks later as I surveyed my domain, which had gone from being sparsely covered with something green to a more consistent dirt covered with dead stuff.  I hadn’t even considered that none of the stuff I’d had growing all over the place was in fact grass – it was all weeds – so what I was left with were really hard to kill weeds that I’m still dealing with more than thirty years later.  Mental note to self….

I’ve been the primary landscaper/gardener and all that entails for thirty-six years, and every year I try to postpone that first mowing in the spring, as if watching the ‘grass’ grow taller will slow it down somehow (it doesn’t!).  I really hate having to go all over the back yard, where the majority of the trees are, to pick up all the branches that the winter and wind knocked to the ground but haven’t yet come up with a way to stop gravity inside the fence.  Fortunately, I do have a dump cart for the tractor, so I move it around the back yard to collect the twigs and branches.  Today’s experience was the worst to date.

I started out, as I have for the last two seasons, by firing up the compressor to inflate three of the tires on the tractor.  Sure, I could have bought new wheels last spring, but that would have cost around $400, and I do have a compressor and hose that makes inflating the tires every time I use the tractor quick and relatively painless, so I’ve kept my cash while filling the tires.  Last season, I could use the tractor all day (or as long as I usually used it on a day) without a problem, and I expected things to remain the same this year.  Apparently, I did not take into consideration that the tires might have another plan.

In preparation of that branch and twig clean-up in the back yard, I inflated the tractor tires and pulled the dumpcart around to hook to the back, discovering along the way that one of the tires on the cart was also flat on the bottom.  Of course, when Joey and I replaced the tires on the cart a few years ago, we managed to put both of them on backwards, so I have to tip the cart up onto its side in order to access the tire valve, so definitely an empty cart endeavor.  As I was spinning the tire around to find the valve, I saw why it was flat – someone (who knows who it could be?) had driven over something that made an L-shaped hole in the tire.  Not one to be stopped by minor inconveniences, I went into my newly organized laundry room and found some contact cement and extra-sticky duct tape.

With the glue along with a scrap piece of rubber pond liner, I patched the tire, and then used the duct tape to temporarily hold the patch on until the glue dries.  It may not have completely fixed the problem, but it did slow down the air escaping the tire enough that I was able to use the cart for a few hours, until it was almost dark and I was done with it for the day.  I still had enough light to mow the grass, and the tractor does have headlights, so I dropped the cart and climbed back on the seat of the tractor to cut more grass.  As I did so, I noticed the mower deck moving out of the corner of my eye.  I decided I’d imagined the movement and started the mower blades as I accelerated forward exactly nowhere.  It felt as if something was preventing my mower deck from moving ahead, so I shifted gears and reversed without a problem.  When I still couldn’t drive forward, I got off and discovered that the clip that’s been holding the mower deck up since I got the tractor had apparently decided to shelter at home.  I have no clue where that home is.  

I tried to use my giant magnet on a handle to locate the hardware in the grass, and quickly determined that I would be dragging it all over the place for days, so instead I grabbed the metal detector I’d borrowed from Joey’s stepfather when I lost my keys in the yard (it’s a long story for another day) and walked back out, following the newly mowed grass tracks swinging the detector side to side like a weirdo, but I didn’t find what I was looking for before it was too dark to tell where I’d been from where I hadn’t been.  No wonder I hate the first cut of the season!

I’m pretty sure I have reasonable facsimiles of the parts I’m missing to let me use the tractor until my parts order arrives.  All my apocalypse supplies, you know.

Day 2, First Mowing of the Spring

I decided to order four new tires (without rims) for the tractor on Amazon for $147, because it’s really a pain having a tire that simply can’t hold air. 

My plan, when I ordered the tires, was to keep doing my inflate-as-I-go plan until the new tires arrive, then take the tires and drive the tractor to my mechanic, about a quarter mile away.  I can stay off the street for a good part of the ride, and I firmly believe that there’s no one in town here who would bat an eye at me even if I was on the asphalt.  I’ve seen stranger things all over town.

Anyway, I was driving around the property, trying to mow as much of the property as possible that didn’t have winter debris still to be removed, so I returned to the part of the back yard that I’d cleared off the previous day.  By that time, it was around dusk, and it gets dark pretty quick now because the trees are leafier, so I flipped on the headlight.  I began to notice that it was getting harder to turn the wheel, but I know I need to add some grease so I attributed it to that.

Nope – the front tire had not only lost all its air again, it had lost its connection to the rim, making it impossible to inflate.  I had to give up trying to fix it because of darkness, and I’m possibly going to have to utilize a slightly dangerous but effective means of resealing the tire to the rim that involves a small, contained explosion.

What could go wrong?