Political Apathy is Unacceptable

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is NOT the face of a happy person!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plato

What are the People Around Trump Thinking?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Biden Doesn’t Have to Overcome Misogyny

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m a Mask-Making Fool

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

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

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

Both-Siderism Is BullS**!

driftglass.blogspot.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vote.

Vote – For the Sake of Your Children

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I sure as hell don’t.

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.

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.