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.

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.

Did You Sign Up For This?

Today’sMilitary.com

I am not a ‘warrior’ in Trump’s battle against the poorly-paid, people of color, immigrants, meat packers, nursing home residents, prisoners, the detained, the disabled, and the elderly.  Trump is no warrior either.  He is a whiney little bitch (as Bill Maher says), incapable of doing his job to protect the American people, and the submission of the Republicans as Trump goes further and further out on a limb in an effort to save his reelection has left me at a loss for words to effectively express my outrage.

Republicans remain silent while William Barr’s lackey in the ‘Justice’ Department tries to get Michael Flynn’s case dismissed, despite repeated statements under oath that he was freely pleading guilty.  The years of work by previous Attorneys General to repair the damage done to the Justice Department during the Nixon administration have been tossed out by Barr’s repeated kowtowing to Trump. 

Barr’s politicization of the Justice Department is just the beginning of the destruction.  What is making it so much worse are the continued lifetime appointments of unqualified, right-wing dingbats to federal and appeals courts by Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans.  McConnell forced the Senate back to Capitol Hill this week, not to work on another relief package to address the current pandemic and economic crisis, but to nominate an unqualified federal judge put on the bench just two months ago for an appeals court position that won’t even be available until September.   But try to get the Senate to help the American people and that’s another matter entirely.

Lindsey Graham said that he and Tom Scott would extend the $600 per week unemployment benefit beyond July “over our dead bodies.”  As more and more Republicans reveal who they really are to the voters who put them in office, their constituents are being sickened and killed by a pandemic that at least some Republicans knew was coming while millions have lost their jobs.  Despite this knowledge, they did absolutely nothing to prepare for the inevitable or to let the public know the truth.  Now, while the country is suffering through the worst pandemic in modern history along with an associated financial crisis that may be greater than the Depression, the Republicans in the House refuse to consider moving the body into the 21st century because of “200 years of precedent”.  If Parliament can learn to vote remotely, why can’t the Republicans in the House?  Because they don’t want to legislate, they want to obfuscate and obstruct, not because that helps the American people in this time of such overwhelming misery and need, but because remaining in power is all they care about. 

Why do Republicans believe that their refusal to do their jobs for the people is beneficial to them in their reelection campaigns?  The Fox/right-wing media bubble’s propaganda and lies enrages the viewers and distracts them with extraneous bullshit.  I have several people in my life who appear to be getting their information from right-wing sources, and I still can’t figure out how to snap them out of the trance.  Those who complain about “big government” and profess “fiscal conservatism” don’t seem too bothered by all these Republican representatives getting paid taxpayer money while refusing to do their jobs, yet they worry about people on welfare because they’re ‘lazy’ and getting ‘free money’.

For those who have never had the pleasure of applying for public assistance, let me enlighten you.  I know what a pleasure it is to be on “the dole”, and I can tell you for sure that there is nothing about it that anyone with another choice would pick as a means of support.  I was forced by circumstances to apply for assistance in the early 90’s, and there was nothing about the experience that I would choose to repeat without dire circumstances forcing my hand.

I was approved for all the assistance – Medicaid, cash welfare and food stamps – ‘awarded’ around $450 in cash and $265 in food stamps to support myself and my two kids for a month.  Even in ’91, $265 wasn’t even close to enough to buy food for three, and $450 per month didn’t cover my monthly expenses (electric, gas, car insurance, homeowners’ insurance, real estate taxes, cable), and having a paid-for home wasn’t the benefit you might think it was.  Fact – food stamps/SNAP doesn’t pay for toilet paper, laundry detergent or other cleaning products, soap, feminine hygiene products, or really any other non-food necessities.

Housing subsidies are only available for renters – for reasons I don’t understand, people who have a home they own outright who have hit a rough spot and need assistance aren’t able to do anything to offset things like real estate taxes.  If I’d had to pay a mortgage payment on top of the taxes, I never could have stayed here, but even without the loan I was still not getting enough to keep my bills paid.  The common but mistaken impression that people who are on welfare and food stamps/SNAP are somehow living their best lives is ridiculous.

Did I buy lobster tail using that first book of food stamps?  I did – since I was given two or three months’ worth of benefits all at once (it took that long to process the application) and couldn’t retroactively pay for the food we’d already eaten during that time, why not?  I didn’t do it again, because I couldn’t justify using so much of my benefit for such a costly item, but of course the other customers in the store when I bought that lobster tail had no way of knowing it was a once and done event.

My point is this – Republicans have chipped away at benefits meant to keep us out of poverty when times are rough, and now, when so many are in such need, hearing people like Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell flat-out refusing to use our own tax dollars to keep us going is beyond cruel.  They all seem to forget that the money they’re refusing to spend to keep the American people out of despair is our money, not theirs.  We all pay taxes willingly with the expectation that we can depend on the government to be there for us when we need the help.  Republicans who so gleefully voted to give tax cuts to their donors and big business have no shits left to give for the rest of us.

The crickets are singing while Republicans watch minorities die in disproportionate numbers from Covid-19 and the CDC and experts are silenced by Trump.  Why would anyone refuse to publish the CDC recommendations for reopening businesses safely except that they prove that Trump continues to press governors to put their own residents at risk?  The Republicans continued silence while the Trump administration limits, silences, reverses and de-legitimizes its own agencies and professionals in sole pursuit of a reelection victory is proof that, as a party, they are no longer capable of governing anyone, anywhere.  Period.

Trumpism isn’t separate from the Republican Party.  It is the inevitable outcome since the party decided that Newt Gingrich, the Tea Party, and the Freedom Caucus were the way to go.  Instead of changing their platform to attract new voters, they have spent years working towards disenfranchising Democrats, or those they believe will vote for Democrats, via gerrymandering, voter ID laws, and now, refusing to push for all eligible voters to obtain mail-in ballots.  They have stood in the way of anything that will make it easier for everyone to vote, although there is no proof that making voting more accessible benefits one party over the other. 

We welcome all Republicans who have seen the light and want to vote with us.  For those who still support Trump and the Republican Party, know that you are truly putting your lives on the line by following this cult.  Since only 45% of Republicans think wearing a face mask in public is a good idea, and the party base is old, it is likely that more of them will be adversely affected by Covid-19 and may not survive the disease.  Their media bubble continues to spew lies that are detrimental to their health and well-being, and I am finding it more and more difficult to feel empathy or sympathy for those viewers while the people they’ve put in office do nothing to help.

Magical Thinking Is Killing Thousands

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A girl can dream.

You Must Testify in the House, Dr. Fauci

From National Geographic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

not the few….

or the one.

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

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?