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.

You Must Testify in the House, Dr. Fauci

From National Geographic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

not the few….

or the one.

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

Mask Maker, Mask Maker, Make Me A Mask!

I’ve been teased by my daughter Anna for years for saving things that, to her at least, had no real value.  Old sheets and pillowcases from a former waterbed, or the old queen-sized ones I can’t use on my king-sized bed, have been accumulating around my house for years.  Why?  Well, you never know when you’ll need a drop cloth to use when painting, or to protect furniture from dust, or, now, to cut up and use to make homemade face masks.  Why pay to buy something when you can just save another thing you already have until you need to use it later on?  My grandmother lived through the depression, so I learned early on about saving good things while discarding the useless ones.

Try to buy cotton fabric at your local craft store – assuming it’s even open – and you’ll find that there are none in stock you’d be willing to wear on your face.  I’ve placed an order on Amazon for a 70-piece bunch of quilting squares, just to make me feel less like I’m running a one-person assembly line in my kitchen.  I’ve reached a point where I now must await a different Amazon delivery to complete most of the masks I’ve already made with elastic bands.  I’m forced right now to use shoelaces, which I’ve also saved for years!  My house is the place to be in the event of an apocalypse!

I started out intent on making just a few masks for me and my family and friends, so I knew that my mismatched assortment of solid-colored pillowcases would be more than enough material to cover those faces.  My closest friends are all nurses, two of whom work in hospitals while the third works at an outpatient dialysis unit run by a national chain.  My friend who works in the Pennsylvania hospital has so far reported having sufficient PPE; I don’t know if my friend who works in a New Jersey facility is having issues, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that no news is good news.  The dialysis nurse, however, was working in a unit without N95 masks despite having at least five of their regular patients diagnosed with Covid-19;  now that he’s agreed (for significantly higher hazard pay) to go to a Covid-19 positive facility.  Although he’s now being provided with an N95 mask, he’s expected to use the same mask for an entire shift instead of changing the mask between patients, which is the standard of care for PPE. 

It shouldn’t be necessary, in the richest country in the world, for random citizens to have to make cloth face masks for healthcare workers to use in place of appropriate PPE.  The federal government’s purpose for being is to support us (the citizens who pay our taxes to that government) when the fecal matter hits the air moving device, and the Trump administration continues to let every one of us down.  The whole point of having the federal government run point during any crisis is to simplify the work the states and local governments need to do to support us, their citizens.  Having our federal government standing around with its proverbial thumb stuck up its butt is outrageous, and the administration’s lack of purpose and urgency is costing lives on a daily basis around the country!

Trump’s laziness, illiteracy and inability to care at all about anyone other than himself has been once again put on display for all to see.  The PDB (Presidential Daily Briefing) from the intelligence community that previous presidents actually read every morning might as well be used as fire starter for all the good it does us now.  Trump not only refuses to exert himself enough to actually read the PDB every day, he doesn’t even pay attention when he’s given an oral summary of the PDB just three times a week!  How is it that we are forced to keep this man in the presidency when he has made it so clear that he doesn’t have any intention of doing the peoples’ work, or really anything resembling work at all?  Why do the Republicans, who are so fucking on fire to push the citizenry back to work, remain silent as their president abrogates his duty to protect us while he wastes the majority of his time watching right-wing media and having Twitter tantrums?

Trump still refuses to use the DPA (Defense Production Act) to create the billions of tests we need throughout the country in order to safely return to something that resembles normal before a vaccine is widely available.  Instead, he chose to use it to force meat-packing plants that have been huge Covid-19 hotspots to reopen and recall their employees, clearly because the product is what is valuable, not the welfare of the workers.  Republican-led states are threatening their citizens with cutting off their unemployment if they don’t return to work because they fear catching the virus there.  Reasonable people should wonder why they don’t require employers to follow guidelines for social distancing and PPE. 

If there is anyone out there who still believes that Trump and the Republicans care about anything other than their donors and their own reelections, then I hope that those deluded individuals have the foresight to prepare themselves for the “American carnage” that is going to follow as these knuckleheads throw their most vulnerable citizens forward as fodder for the virus.  If the federal government had done the right thing, we would have nation-wide, science-based orders that would avoid what is surely coming in the next couple of weeks, but we have the most incompetent leader in the free-world at this time of crisis, and the Republicans are fine with things going on the way they are.  This must be seen for what it is – the negligent homicide of thousands upon thousands of our fellow citizens, with a disproportionate number of those most affected in communities of color, on the altar of capitalism and profit for the wealthy.

The total absence of empathy towards those most affected by this pandemic is painful to observe, as Trump continues to whine about his perceived grievances, offering just 4 ½ minutes of time since the ‘task force’ news briefings began to express something he thought was sympathy to the survivors of those who have died.  His inability to recognize that he should not be forcing citizens to return to any workplace not prepared to keep them safe from this contagion is not surprising in this particular individual; his entire life has been spent in a narcissistic bubble, as he was raised by parents who never taught him that he’s not the center of the universe.

In order to give myself a feeling of control in an uncontrollable time, I keep making masks.  It’s the only thing I can do to help those I love, besides staying home without human companionship.  I haven’t seen my son or his wife since before this all started, and have no idea when I will.  I occasionally see Anna and/or Joey, but only for a couple of minutes and usually I’m masked.  I miss hugs. 

I worry about my friend Rosie, a psychiatrist who preferred to be isolated even in non-Covid-19 times.  I’d love to see her, but I couldn’t get her to make a plan without a pandemic, so I have no chance now.  I hope she knows I’m here if she needs me.

I offer my sympathy to the thousands and thousands who have lost loved-ones to Covid-19, although I know it offers small comfort.  I have to trust that the majority of us recognize that the threat from this pandemic is real, and that we will do everything possible to maintain physical distancing for the foreseeable future. That is really our best bet for avoiding magnitudes of death many times greater than we have already endured.  I have to believe that because one party in our country is doing the exact opposite, and the deaths that ensue will be on their hands. 

Mask the Republican’s responsibility for these deaths and you, too, become culpable.  Is that really who you are?

What the Hell, Dr. Phil???

My mom told me I should watch The Dr. Phil Show when it first came on the air, and I have been a faithful viewer ever since.  In fact, I often use Dr. Philisms when I write and speak, with my favorite and most used one being “When you choose the behavior, you choose the consequences.”  When Libby (my cat) and I took our cross-country trip in 2018, I was excited to go to the show in LA, where I sat about ten feet away from Dr. Phil’s wife Robin during the taping of two separate episodes.  The studio has flat screen TV’s on the knee walls between sections of the audience, and I found myself watching the show on the TV in front of me instead of looking up at the stage where the show actually was.  It was surreal.  I’ve enjoyed watching him because he usually dispenses common-sense advice (given that common sense isn’t so common anymore) to people willing to air their dysfunctional lives and families on national television.

Dr. Phil has mostly managed to keep his political opinions and affiliation separate from the show, as he should.  Honestly, knowing for sure that he’s a died-in-the-wool Republican who supports Trump will forever taint my view of him and make it harder for me to see past that knowledge.  Yesterday, Dr. Phil went on Fox ‘News’ and said things that force me to re-evaluate my high opinion of this man from Texas.

Here’s the rub, though.  If Dr. Phil, a 69-year-old male and a known diabetic who is a member of the demographic group most at risk of a fatal outcome from Covid-19, really believes that he’s being harmed by sheltering in his 5-bedroom, 6-bath, 6,170 square-foot home with an in-ground pool, more art than the Met, an entire wall of guns on a half-acre of property (my house is on more than an acre), then he should walk outside and mingle with the little people out in the rest of the world, sans PPE.

Phil McGraw is a psychologist, and, although given the title of ‘doctor’, he is not a physician.  Psychologists do have to obtain a bachelor’s degree, followed by a master’s and doctoral programs, which Wikipedia shows Phil did, graduating in 1979, but he is not a medical doctor.  In fact, he is no longer a licensed psychologist, having voluntarily surrendered his Texas license to practice in 2006.  He has not hidden his unlicensed status from his viewers, and most of the guests on the show are offered actual mental health services with licensed personnel throughout the country paid for by the show.

His “I’m just an old Texas boy” character is a big part of his appeal, at least for me, and his show has occasionally aired subjects that seemed to reflect a right-wing perspective.  He doesn’t hesitate to let us know that he’s a Christian, although I would prefer he keep his personal faith, well, personal.  To those of us who have recovered from religion, there is no benefit to his talking about how he’s got a personal savior in Jesus.  In fact, I find it offensive when celebrities like Phil McGraw think we care one way or the other about their religious choices. If he doesn’t want to hear about my atheism, then he shouldn’t tell me about his god.

All those things were of no significance to my devotion to his show.  My DVR has been set to record every new episode for years – in fact, it’s the first show on my list – and I’ve watched them all, usually the same day they air.  It’s been frustrating during this pandemic, because the Philadelphia station that carries his syndicated show has been pre-empting portions for local Covid-19 news conferences, so his filmed-from-his-house shows haven’t been available in their entirety.  I find myself distracted by the stuff in the room behind him (what is that red thing in the corner of the counter over his shoulder???) and keep wondering how much countertop you have when you can cover so much counter with stuff.  Then I think about how much time someone has to spend dusting all the stuff in the kitchen alone.  Having seen photos of his eclectically decorated home, I also question his insistence that Robin is keeping that house clean.  There’s no way in hell that Robin is the one cleaning that stuff – she’d never have the time to do anything else, and would never be able to leave the house.  My mom used to tell me the way you know that a house is more than you can afford is when the first thing you think about is how long it will take you to keep it clean!  Those with money don’t have to worry about cleaning – they just pay someone else to do the work for them.  It must be nice.

Yesterday Dr. Phil revealed both his political ideology and his ignorance, two things that now force me to reconsider my devotion to his show.  I saw a clip of his Fox appearance on MSNBC last night, and today my daughter Anna made sure I didn’t miss him making an ass of himself.  At first, I tried to convince myself that maybe it was from a few months ago, before the fecal matter hit the air-moving device, but reality’s a bitch, so I was forced to acknowledge that Phil has revealed a part of himself by both appearing on Fox ‘News’ in the first place and then saying things that clearly have nothing to do with anything as it regards this highly contagious virus we are trying to keep from killing hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens.

For someone who purports to be wise and knowledgeable, his comparison of the Covid-19 pandemic to pool drownings, cancer or car accidents was beyond dangerous.  I’m not sure how Phil concluded that the loss of life from Covid-19, which has taken more than 33,000 Americans to date, can be equated to those lost by non-contagious illness and accident.  Surely, even though he never went to medical school, Phil McGraw can intellectually understand that a highly contagious virus with a significant mortality rate (especially among older men with comorbidities) that has no effective treatment or vaccine cannot be allowed to just spread unchecked throughout the population, overwhelming the healthcare system and leading to even more deaths because of a lack of ventilators and ICU beds in the interest of getting back to business as usual, right?  RIGHT?

The financial problems facing the citizens of this country could be addressed by a functional federal government led by a president who gives a damn about someone other than himself. Instead of pointing out how destructive this ‘lockdown’ is on people’s mental health and finances, maybe Dr. Phil could have pointed out how the Trump administration is failing to help out the neediest among us while they give more tax breaks to people in his own income bracket. Or maybe he could use his significant wealth and platform to help those most in need, instead of giving Trump’s state tv another sound bite to support their anti-science platform. Even better, he could use his private plane to fly around the world, gathering PPE for the healthcare workers on the front lines and flying it back to the US for distribution.

Phil McGraw is not a doctor – he’s a retired psychologist without any relevant experience or knowledge about infectious diseases – and he has overstepped his bounds with this Fox appearance.  Opinions are like assholes – everybody has one, and they should keep both of them out of the public eye!  Phil can be unhappy about the situation in which we now find ourselves, but he should not be publicizing his opinions in this atmosphere of political polarization and the demonization of experts.  His appearance last night on Fox has revealed that Phil McGraw’s common sense isn’t so common anymore.  So go on out, Dr. Phil.  Walk amongst the unclean, go to a homeless shelter or maybe an ICU full of Covid-19 patients, and breathe in the air, unmasked.  Then go back home and share what you’ve acquired without washing your hands or changing your clothes with your wife, your sons, and your grandchildren. Which one of them will you sacrifice to restart the economy?  If you’re unwilling to offer up one of your own on the altar of capitalism, shut the fuck up about getting everyone else back to work.  You’ve lost a devoted fan by revealing your callous disregard for your fellow citizens. 

I suspect I’m not alone.

When you choose the behavior, you choose the consequences.

When Did the Right Become the Party of Death?

It’s been clear for decades (outside of the Fox bubble) how little the Republicans really care about their own constituents, but never before has their distain been so blatant.  What is most outrageous about the present crisis is their cold & callous disregard for the lives of those most at risk from the Covid-19 pandemic as they try to justify “opening up the country” and “returning to normal” in order to boost the stock market to where it was a few weeks ago, before Trump revealed yet again his total incompetence at everything other than acting like a successful businessman on reality TV. 

A few weeks ago, I recognized that physical distancing would likely prove to be successful at flattening the curve of the sick and dying but that this success would prove to be anticlimactic in the view of some of our fellow citizens.  I worried that preventing thousands from dying from Covid-19 by mass quarantine would sooner rather than later lead some to claim that the demands to stay at home were draconian and that we need to get back to ‘normal’ (whatever that’s going to be for the next year or two) so that businesses stop losing money.  This has of course proven to be true with many conservatives on Fox ‘News’ and OANN (Trump’s new favorite state television network), Republicans in the administration, and the assorted wingnuts that Trump prefers to use as ‘advisers’ in place of the experts throughout his own administration he has no time for. 

Every day, we have these outrageous campaign events Trump inaccurately labels as ‘coronavirus task force press briefings’, during which he makes unfounded pronouncements, recommends anecdotal, unproven and possibly harmful medical treatments that his own agencies don’t support and outright conspiracy theories that Drs. Fauci and Birx and even Mike Pence have to counter with actual facts.  These ‘briefings’ are grievance-laden diatribes from Trump, whose malignant narcissism is on full display as he whines about how badly he’s been treated by the media while saying NOTHING about all our fellow Americans who are sick or have died under his watch.  He spends hours at these ‘briefings’, something no previous president has ever done, because he does next to nothing on behalf of the American people.  A full 60% of Trump’s time is unscheduled and he uses that time to watch right-wing media, send tweets and call his various non-expert friends to get their non-expert advice on all the things that matter to the rest of us.  Trump is known to be easily influenced; going with whatever the last person he’s spoken with said regardless of their lack of expertise. 

Trump’s most recent ‘briefings’ have  been full-out temper tantrums, one of them including a taxpayer-funded campaign video to convince us that this unmitigated disaster has been handled perfectly by Trump and his lackeys despite what we can see with our eyes and hear with our ears.  Trump’s inability to learn anything new is on full display as he attempts to refute how a contagion works by repeatedly telling the country that “we can’t let the cure be worse than the problem”, or “we have to open our country back up as soon as possible”, or even worse, “we don’t need no stinkin’ tests” (I’m paraphrasing on that last one!).  Trump’s inability to fathom that the states that presently haven’t had as many confirmed cases of Covid-19 (although the inability to do massive testing of all  the population on a regular basis makes it impossible to know how many Americans have contracted the virus) are at the bottom of the curve, not avoiding it altogether. 

The more sparsely populated regions of the country took longer to start spreading the virus around because their citizens don’t run into as many of their neighbors as we on the coasts do on a regular basis.  The lack of a federal stay-at-home order allowed the governors of Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota (why are there TWO Dakotas???), Iowa, Arkansas, Utah, & Wyoming to refuse to issue such orders while others waited weeks before doing so, often while still permitting large groups of people to meet for religious services. 

The federal government is supposed to be there when the shit hits the fan – hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, wildfires, pandemics – are all things that the federal government is supposed to help us with and are what we expect in return for the regressive federal taxes we pay.  The Republicans’ efforts at tearing down the functional portions of our government to lower the taxes of the wealthiest in the country supporting their political campaigns had already done significant damage to the infrastructure supporting the agencies we most need to be able to function before Trump took office unprepared and clueless. 

Trump’s lack of preparation for the job he now holds has continued to reverberate throughout the entire federal government since he took office, appointing rank partisans completely lacking in relevant experience throughout the federal government into only a small portion of the positions needed to staff our agencies to full capacity.  Instead, he’s placed people with ill-intent towards the agencies they now inhabit into positions that have allowed them to destroy those very agencies.  He has eliminated crucial positions because he has no capacity to understand that being prepared for an emergency includes keeping people whose expertise will be necessary in an emergency in positions that matter. 

The Republicans in the House and the Senate, as well as all those working in his administration, remain silent while tens of thousands of our fellow Americans die because of Trump’s incompetence.  After the citizens of the states that voted for Trump in 2016 have lost friends and family members to Covid-19 because of everything Trump did and didn’t do over the last several months, I hope they’ll begin to harass their Republican representatives and senators to do something for them instead of for big corporations.  Better still, I hope they see the light and recognize that their faith in the Republicans has been misplaced; we on the left will welcome them into the fold!  I want my Republican friends and family members (and you know who you are!) to see that their continued support of the Republican Party has brought us to brink of an economic and healthcare catastrophe and to agree that the only way to move forward as a country is to realign behind the Democratic Party. 

There is no other option.

Trump’s Ineptitude is on Full Display

How can the people who are supposed to be leading the fight against Covid-19 make the ridiculous statements about how wonderful Trump has been during this crisis out loud and in public?  Have these idiots really gotten so far into the cult of Trump that they think that their bullshit won’t be called out as this virus does what viruses do – spreads to as many human hosts as it can no matter how many lies this administration disseminates to the contrary?  Trump is so fixated on keeping the number of reported cases as low as possible as a means of protecting his re-election that the truth of what is going on is being kept from the rest of us.  The inability of anyone within the executive branch to make Trump understand the reality of the situation as it is right now is stunning, yet there is no interest from the Republicans to do anything that could prevent the unmitigated catastrophe that is looming over the country because of the unprecedented incompetence of the Trump administration from top to bottom. 

If there was anyone in the Republican Party that hasn’t drunk the Kool aid, they’re too intimidated by Trump’s bullying to do the right thing during a real crisis that will have lasting repercussions for a significant portion of our population.  Trump lacks any ability to acknowledge that his refusal to listen to the experts about Covid-19 prevented us from preparing for this pandemic, and he never interests himself in learning anything.  Somehow, he has been allowed to think that knows all he needs to know about everything there is, period.  This may be acceptable behavior when you own your own company, but it really sucks for the rest of us when it’s our president who is never able to admit his ignorance about any subject.

“Who knew healthcare could be so complicated?”

“Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for president.”

Seriously??? 

The frightening thing is that I’m afraid he believes it when he says things like that, which is what makes him so much more dangerous, especially with the Republicans choosing Dear Leader Trump over their oath to uphold the constitution.  We have never had an entire political party make the decision that supporting their president no matter what he does was their number one priority, and the founders never even considered this a possibility.  I suspect, however, they would have been vehemently opposed to the power that the office has accumulated since WWII in no small part by the legislative branch’s acquiescence to having its powers eroded by presidents of both parties.  Now, the federal government is under the direction of the most incompetent person ever to win the presidency and we are being put at significant risk by the lack of anyone capable of knowing the right action right now.  Trump’s fragile ego has somehow become the most important thing to Trump’s appointees in charge of our federal government. 

It is of no benefit to the country for us to have to hear these lackeys while they sing their obligatory praise of the Donald.  Unfortunately for all of them, we will not forget these repeated scenes of their fealty to this idiot in chief they continue to protect.  I can only hope that the Republican Party as a politically influential organization ceases to exist. 

We expect our federal government to step in to protect us in times of crisis like the current Covid-19 pandemic, but Trump and his administration have so severely gutted our preparedness out of a mistaken belief that the experts fired earlier in his term would be happy to return immediately in the event of a problem.  There is no reasonable expectation that this lack of foresight will ever be acknowledged, as Trump has already said he “has no responsibility” for any of the failures of his administration’s handling of the coronavirus.  Trump is clearly incapable of empathy because he fails at it every time he’s been called on to offer comfort to the country.  He keeps giving speeches that include multiple easily-verifiable errors because his insistence on placing total loyalty at the top of the job requirements for every position in his administration could not have resulted in anything else.

But none of this has caused anyone in the Republican Party to stand up and say the quiet part out loud – that Trump’s refusal to employ experts in numerous vital areas in the federal government has resulted in the most bungled response to a highly contagious disease since 1918.  Their continued silence will be directly responsible for many of their own followers contracting the disease because they think it’s a “democrat hoax”.  The thing is that the virus is apolitical, and it’s going to infect people regardless of whether or not they ‘believe’ it’s really a problem.  This is where the Fox ‘News’ bubble becomes downright dangerous.  It’s time for all the right-wing media, particularly Rupert Murdoch, to insist that that all their media outlets immediately cease spreading disinformation and outright lies about the pandemic while simultaneously providing actionable facts to their viewers.  The viewers who think they are being informed actual facts by these and similar outlets believe these fools, and are the people most likely to discount the facts and ignore recommendations to limit public interactions that can ‘flatten the curve’ & keep our healthcare system from being overloaded by the very sick.

I’ve never seen my local Wegmans or Whole Foods stores with empty shelves and produce bins.  Apparently people in Cherry Hill buy tons of root vegetables during a crisis, and I wonder if there’s an underground spinach thing I haven’t heard about yet???  I don’t understand the stocking up of fresh dairy products, either, since by virtue of its freshness it has a limited shelf life.  I have to wait until Tuesday or Wednesday before I head to a different Whole Foods and Wegmans to locate the rest of my weekly groceries.  That’s the problem when people are uncertain about what to do – they do what they can think of to do instead of doing what would be most useful for the times.

We must agree to unite under the nominee….

I’ve been busy living life the last week or so, watching while the Trump administration shows the world further proof of its ineptitude as it faces a crisis of monumental proportions – the coronavirus and the pandemic now in progress. 

Trump has made it clear that his number one concern, as always, is himself.  He’s so worried about how this will affect his re-election that he cannot see past himself.  The fact that he’s spent more time worrying about the status of the stock market than about how many people already in the country are carrying and transmitting the virus should be all the proof needed for all citizens to rise up and demand his removal from office. 

Trump’s inability to absorb basic facts about anything not directly affecting him personally are on stark display when he repeatedly insists that vaccines will be available “rapidly”, that there won’t be more cases of the virus here over time, or that belatedly trying to restrict travel to and from countries that have reported the highest number of Covid-19 can make a difference in the worsening spread already happening here.  Anonymous sources within his administration have been quoted saying they can’t figure out “what the fuck is going on.”   

Trump has designated his lackey Mike Pence, who as governor of Indiana refused to consider needle-exchange programs to reduce the spread of HIV, to head the government’s charge to address the pandemic instead of choosing a healthcare professional because, after all, Pence will keep the election uppermost in his mind.  This is a recipe for disaster, and Pence’s requirement that all information released to the public by the CDC and NIH must be funneled through him only serves to further delegitimize anything that the administration says about the pandemic. 

The public needs to be able to believe the things that officials say regarding this crisis, and no one who has paid attention to the Trump administration has any reason to expect that they will provide us with real, actionable information or even basic facts.  Why would anyone believe they have the ability to put steps in place that will lead to a resolution before thousands have sickened or died as a result?  Both Trump and Mick Mulvaney have claimed that there is nothing to worry about, blaming the media for inciting panic or trying to say that it’s a “Democrat hoax”, that Democrats want millions to die to damage Trump’s re-election.  Somehow, this is now acceptable political speech in America, at least for Republicans, and it reveals yet again that, for Trump and his minions, nothing matters if it helps keep them in power.

Trump has put Richard Grenell, an unqualified political sycophant in place as his “acting” DNI while nominating another incompetent and (hard to fathom) even less qualified fool, Representative John Ratcliffe again as the official DNI.  This is likely a ploy by Trump exploit a loophole in the law governing Cabinet vacancies that would have required Grenell to leave as acting DNI by March 11th, allowing him to keep Grenell as acting DNI for up to seven extra months while Ratcliffe’s nomination flounders in the Senate.  Trump’s previous attempt in 2019 to put this clown in the position was opposed by Senate Democrats and Republicans because he’s not only unqualified for the position, he’s also lied about his prior record.  Trump doesn’t find him unqualified, because the only qualification that matters is loyalty to Trump on Fox.  That law governing Cabinet vacancies now forces the Senate to choose between two idiots for a position that was created to keep us safe.  There is nothing about either of these men that should make any of us feel safe.

I do not know how we as a democracy are going to survive the Trump presidency.  The damage done in the first three years of his time in the White House has been so overwhelming that it’s been impossible to keep up with it all.  He’s put bad actors in positions of power to successfully roll back wide-ranging regulations to benefit corporate benefactors going back fifty years.  His administration’s corruption is truly unprecedented, and the Republican Party is all in on the continued abuse of a system never designed to have someone so totally unethical in the seat of power. 

The primaries now underway are concerning, too.  Senator Sanders, an Independent who is now running for the second time for the Democratic nomination, has garnered massive numbers of supporters who seem willing once again to throw the presidential election to Trump if Bernie doesn’t win the nomination.  If ever there were a time for all of us who recognize the existential threat to both our democracy and the planet of a second Trump term that time is now.  Vote with your heart in the primary, but for the sake of the future of all of us and our children and grandchildren, once a nominee has been named, it is imperative that we all get behind whoever that nominee is and vote the ticket. 

If we cannot hold the house while taking both the presidency and the Senate to send Mitch McConnell back to Kentucky, the country we will be left with will be unrecognizable.  Continuing to leave the Republicans in any position of power will ensure that a generation will be adversely affected by their racist, misogynistic and reprehensible policies designed to keep them in charge while preventing the rest of us from moving forward with policies that the majority of citizens believe should be enacted.  No one who really wants things to change for the better should be willing to do anything except vote for the Democratic nominee for president, because the changes that will occur during another four years of Trump include the very real possibility of autocratic rule overtaking democracy completely.  The likelihood of the positive changes we all hope for would be none, at least for our lifetimes.  That’s something I cannot bear to consider.

So talk to your friends and family, and tell them how important it is for them to do what’s best for our democracy for the long-term.  I don’t plan to vote for Bernie in the primary, but I will throw my support behind him one hundred percent if he wins the nomination, because that is what we have to do to take our country back from the Republicans who have gerrymandered and voter suppressed their way into power.  We must vote for Democrats up and down the ticket in order to undo their minority grip on the system; only by doing that do we stand a chance at implementing the fundamental changes that we all want to truly make our democracy live up to the “One person, one vote” standard we all want it to be.  Minority control was baked into the Constitution to manage the slave population on whose suffering our country was built, the original sin of America.  It is past time to make foundational changes that ensure we are no longer forced by that minority to be held down by their repressive and backwards policies.