Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Grateful

Daily I have to fight off a sense of complete depression. It was not enough to have to face daily the barrage of lies and other crap flowing out of the Oval Office daily.  Our pseudo-president is a one-man depression machine. And then we have this pandemic thingie. I’m old enough to remember World War II, but nothing, including that awful war, created this sense of foreboding of the pandemic plus Trump. Oh and then there’s that 85 thing.   Maybe were I 39 really, instead of in my 46th 39th year, I would be able to say, “oh, screw it, this too will soon go away”. But when old Father Time keeps creeping up to my front door and reminding me that the end is near, it is much more difficult to say, “to hell with this thing”.

But then I realize that our grandson and his lady love will soon be gracing our door, just to chat for a bit, since we no longer get to spend Sunday evenings at a nice family dinner with him.  It’s nice that our grandkids try to do just that with enough frequency that we are able to smile at the thought.  Or they call us from afar, again just to chat, to see how we are. 

And it is difficult to imagine how life would be were my wife (of 65 years) and I not here supporting and loving one another daily.  Many folks are not so blessed. After 65 years and counting, my wife and I are not merely lovers, but best friends.  And not in the Facebook sense of that term.  Best friends means that we finish each other’s sentences. That when one of us begins to want something, but the right word refuses to come out, we toss out the word and then we laugh.  Best friends means that in the morning, every morning, I make a nice cup of Cappuccino for each of us. Then we hold the cups up, click them, look into our eyes, and say, “To Us”.  And in the evening, we do the same ritual with a nice glass of wine.

We snuggle while watching TV together—Late night comedies and British TV mysteries, or comedies. Turns out snuggling is good for friends. Maintains that BFF character the way it was intended.

And then we have the anticipation. What anticipation you ask? Well, we have another Great Grandchild arriving soon. Yes, we have some Great Grandchildren, at least one of whom is now moving out of the “children” stage and into the adult stage. But a new Great Grand remains very special.  And so we look forward to late December or maybe early January to greet our new arrival into our extended family.  And that is very exciting.  Grandkids and now great grands are very special to us oldsters. They provide a source of love without really demanding anything, except some love in return.  Quite wonderful.

And so we continue to understand that love really does make the world this special place. Yes, we all need money and security, but mostly we need love.  Had Donald Trump been loved, ever, in his poor benighted life, he would not be this monster he became.  Because love provides security, a sense that you have worth, and that you have a special place in this world. Lacking love, many people opt for false power over others, and creates a need to demonstrate superiority over other people. With Love,  you know you are special and don’t need to devalue others.

And so, we are grateful. This awful period will actually end someday, even if not soon enough. Hopefully, our grandkids will be able to look back and understand that the world came close to devouring itself, but then we all stepped back from that precipice.  Hopefully, they will be able to open their eyes in the morning and say to a loved one, “Good morning. I love you and thanks for being here”. Or gaze at a glorious sunset and say, “thank you world for being so wonderful.”

Hopefully, Gratitude and kindness will then follow. So thanks world.



Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Conspiracy Theories

We are getting chocker-block full of conspiracy theories. Remember when Hillary warned us about a vast right wing conspiracy? Well, it turns out she was right after all. We all laughed about it at the time.  But then guess who claimed the presidency after losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton? You got it, Donald Trump.  So he claimed the presidency in a sort of republican coup d’état. Yeah, not clear who bribed those electors to cast their vital votes for Donald Trump, but bribed they were.  And now, Steve Bannon has taken on the job as chair of the Republican Conspiracy Machine, and he is hard at work trying to con the American people into another four years of Donald Trump, even if, this time, they have to use machine guns to achieve their ends.  Yeah, good old, Stevie. He knows no bounds.  It’s Donald or Armageddon. 

Now, it should be clear that, mainly, Stevie runs professional grifts. Take your pick. Yeah, he had stuff like Breitbart, but he was into the money mainly.  And apparently the right wing knows no bounds when it comes to grifting. Not long ago, he was charged with a species of penny-ante grift. Yeah, it’s the sort of grift the American right has been running on its own voters for decades, which makes this absolutely fitting. Federal prosecutors in New York a while ago now unsealed criminal charges against Stephen K. Bannon, and three other men they alleged defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors using an online crowdfunding campaign that was advertised as raising money to build a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico. Apparently, Bannon and another organizer of the campaign, Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage, claimed they would not take any compensation as part of the campaign, called “We Build The Wall,” but that was a lie. Bannon, prosecutors alleged, received more than $1 million through a nonprofit he controlled, sending hundreds of thousands out to Kolfage while keeping a “substantial portion” for himself. Yeah, they really love America, just as long as it continues to  finance their illegal ways. 

So, the right wing conspiracy machines are now hard at work trying to maintain The Donald in his appointed job as head of the Republican Coup d’état government we used to call America. Whether they succeed remains an open question, since The Donald still refuses to concede that he lost yet again this time to Joe Biden. 

Maybe The Donald should try to run against Donald Duck next time.  Oooh, I know, The Donald should have MaraLago recede from America, and he could appoint himself as Czar of TrumpaLago. I know, I know, MaraLago is part of Florida, but they won’t mind right??   And then the vast right wing conspiracists could all move into TrumpaLago and hold SuperSpreader events as demonstrations that this COVID left wing conspiracy is just junk.

 And on that COVIDIOCY theory about how there is no COVID virus, I had another idea. Why don’t we assume that all those folks who deny COVID—you know, the ones yelling it’s all a fraud, and all the millions more who won’t wear masks because COVID doesn’t exist—would never want to get the COVID vaccine? Of course not. Why would they get vaccinated against a fake disease, right? 

So, then we have a much simpler vaccine distribution problem. We only have to vaccinate the folks who understand that COVID is a real disease, currently killing real people. You know, the folks who actually think.  How’s that for simplifying a complex problem? Now we will likely have to invent a new disease state for the COVIDIOTs who die off or get very sick. Maybe, we can say that they contracted the GOPIFY disease. Very contagious disease that originated in a lab somewhere in Florida, you know, near MaraLago. Apparently some lab rats generated it and it just broke loose at a rally of guntoters.  Can’t be helped. These things just happen.

And meanwhile, back in the Land of Sanity, folks will be able to resume their normal lives, working, hugging their loved ones, eating and drinking at pubs and restaurants. Won’t that be nice?? Coming soon to a Land near you, sometime in 2021 . . . unless Bannon et al succeed in reseating Donald Trump in DC. 

Ta ta for now.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

The End of Our Nightmare

 So, the National nightmare may finally be coming to an end.  I do not expect anything gracious from the orange baboon. He is incapable of grace.  Instead, we should expect some temper tantrum, a final outbreak of Trumpspeak. Maybe even a TrumpTwitterati explosion at 3 AM.  It might be interesting to see what Pence finally utters. To see whether he continues to be driven to heights of absurdity.  It will be fun watching someone so religious deal with what God Hath Wrought.

I have been paying attention to presidents since FDR . . . remember him? And yes, I was conscious during WW II, and fully aware when he was taken from us in 1945.  Unfortunately he never got to see the final defeat of Hitler, something he had considerable responsibility for orchestrating. Yes, our military did the deed.  They were magnificent. But FDR was at the helm throughout that valiant fight, working daily with Eisenhower to bring it about.  Somehow, I cannot imagine Trump helping to achieve such a glorious conclusion to that awful conflict.  I cannot really even imagine whose side he would have been on.

And then Harry S. Truman came onto the scene. And Harry picked up where FDR had left off. America has been fortunate overall, even if we managed to elect a few duds along the way.  My first election where I was able to vote was the 1956 Ike-Stevenson race—I just missed voting in the 1952 event. But I really did pay attention early. Mostly, I think the American people exercised their conscience and received in exchange an OK result. Well, we did have that aberration in 2000, when Tony Scalia decided that SCOTUS should appoint the president, giving us Shrub instead of Al Gore.  Yeah, life might have been different, and probably better had Al Gore captured the White House in 2000. But Scalia decided that SCOTUS needed to intervene to give us a man of little substance.  Whatever we might think about Daddy Bush, he seemed a decent man, unlike junior.  We certainly would have avoided that Fake War in Iraq. Remember those fake WMDs?? Weren’t they fun? And the Middle East has been a true mess ever since.  So, yeah, Shrub was kind of an idiot who did more harm than good, sort of like St. Ronald of Reagan.

But none of these dudes even came close to Orangeman. Trump has really all the class of an actual baboon, with even less intellect.  Now to be fair, he is likely the product of his Nazi father.  Daddy, in dealing with his compleat narcissist son Donald, decided that giving Donald everything was the right course. He seems to have ignored that fact that Junior had no intellect, could barely compete in grade school and thus arrangements had to be made to get him through school at all. So, instead of  providing close supervision of him and perhaps placing him in some fully orchestrated position where he couldn’t do much damage, Daddykins seemed to have given him free rein, leading to the monster adult we all know today.  I guess Daddy would have been pleased that Junior made it all the way to the presidency. I mean, who would have guessed?  To be fair, I assume that junior making it all the way to The Apprentice would have stunned dear old dad.

I have always wondered, though, whether daddy would have been shocked to watch his son ascend into the heavens of politics. Surely, he would have known the potential for damage from such an event.  But, Daddy was a Nazi, and I guess Nazi’s don’t shrink from power.

And so, we have all been witness to the damage wrought by Junior.

And I think the damage caused by Trump is not limited to the actual direct damages, e.g., the excess deaths, perhaps in the range of 100,000 or more deaths caused by his entirely casual approach to his awful pandemic. He played it down, even making fun of it, and now we have 100,000 people per day coming down with this illness.  Had he been a real leader, we might have resembled other more effective nations. But no, it is always completely about him.  Even when he contracted the illness through his cavalier behavior, he did not stop and take heed. No, not him. He continued making fun of it, causing how many more thousands to become infected. But he also created damages in terms of the changes he created in the American people. Those people may never be the same.  And America is the worst for it.

And his America Alone policies causing America to withdraw from the world on climate, on Arms control, on simply getting along, have now left America as some leper colony. We are a pathetic nation, instead of a world leader.

So, we are not sad to see this cretin leave the stage. We still do not know how much more damage he will cause or attempt. Clearly, he is not finished with his game of life and death in America. He will try to attempt some last stage death dance, I would predict. We cannot let him succeed. We need our military, our government, and our people to hold fast and to move towards becoming a normal, decent nation again.  We must become sane again.

I expect that President Joe, and VEEP Kamala will begin to take the reins so as to reel him in.  Let us hope so.

And Joe and Kamala, thank you for being here just when we needed you so much. We, at least some of us, well most of us, are thrilled to have you as our next head of government. You bring joy beyond any known boundaries. America needs sanity and that is what you deliver. Send the cretin back to his wormhole, where he may lounge in the arms of his favorite mobsters.

Welcome President Biden and Vice President Harris. We wish you success.  We need your success. Welcome good people. Welcome to our world.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

VOTE!

 “Oh, Mr. Trump is a businessman, and I think the government should be run like a business.”

 “I’m a professional fisherman, and Obama has put me out of business” (no more fish because of overfishing by professional fishermen, so of course he is voting for Trump.

“I’m a coal-miner and Obama has put me out of business” (because he advocates for renewable energy).

And from a Jordan Klepper interview of a Trump supporter: “ Barack Obama had a big part in 9/11-- not being around, always on vacation, never in the Oval Office.” “Why do you think Barack Obama wasn’t in the Oval Office on 9/11?” “That I don’t know. I’d like to get to the bottom of that?”

So sayeth Mr. Trump’s supporters.

I don’t know what is more terrifying. The sheer stupidity of some of Mr. Trump’s supporters, or what it is they hope to see him achieve while in office—yeah, let’s run the government like Wells Fargo, or HSBC. That’s the ticket.  I keep hoping against hope that America really is better than this. That the 40+% support for him is some kind of statistical aberration, or folks just having fun with pollsters. The fact that he seems incapable of uttering a full sentence without inclusion of some lie seems to be, a) clear, and b) reason enough to conclude he is incapable of assuming the mantle of the US Presidency.

And now, I read articles that predict violence by the heavily armed Alt-Right should Mr. Trump lose. That group, neo-Nazi’s all, appear to form the right wing core of the Republican Party. We think of them more benignly as “The Tea Party”, but we now know they are both KKK and Neo-Nazi in origin.  And violence by that group would present an interesting challenge to our government. Would we allow a group of heavily armed insurrectionists to mount a serious challenge to the American Government? Let’s see, let’s see . . . do we have any precedents for that? Hmmm . . . think April 12, 1861. And that was lots of fun, wasn’t it?

So this election is getting more interesting by the minute. Day by day, we see idiocy generated over and over by our Republican Party, you know that party that used to be one of our two responsible political parties?  Well, we now seem to have only one party, the Democrats. Republicans have sold themselves to a lying Carnie Barker and his narcissistic family. The Libertarian Party, such as it is, is too strung out on dope to even understand what an election is all about, and the Green Party, well it’s a bad joke at best.

And so we have the Dems, and their candidate Joe.

And you don’t like Joe, you say?

Well, get a fucking grip on reality folks. He is at the least an experienced person, and a person with some sense of humanity applying for this god-forsaken job. And you claim you can’t vote for him?? Well, maybe it’s you who should be applying to leave this country. I’m sure Bashar Al Assad will welcome you with open arms, or maybe Vlad the Impaler, or maybe even The Donald’s BFF, Kim Jung whatsisname.

And that, with a few minor changes, was a small piece I wrote in 2016 (substituting Joe for Hillary). And that’s what I find tragic. See, we knew then, in 2016, that Trump was an immoral, incompetent person at everything he ever attempted—business, marriage, even his con games—think Trump University. We knew then that he was bad . . . terrible really. But we know now a great deal more. He is still incompetent, immoral and all that. But now we know his performance doesn’t stop at affecting just him or his family. No, now we have way over 200,000 dead people, people who used to have a life, and are now dead because Trump was so terrified of the pandemic, that he tried to lie his way out of our trouble. It’s what he always does when he is in trouble. He resorts to lying, mainly because he doesn’t know what else to do—he is incompetent remember—but also because he is a compleat narcissist and that’s what he does when he is trouble—“didn’t happen on my watch” is his favorite mantra.

And so we know. We know he was never even close to being “up to this job”.  He really isn’t up to almost any job.  Remember, he has failed at everything he ever attempted—EVERYTHING!

And now there is some question about whether people should re-elect him?? Really??  Really people??

Look folks. The United States of America may not make it through another four years of Trump. That’s how important is this election.  If you intend to vote for Donald Trump, then you are taking on responsibility for the failure of our republic.  And should you decide instead that you will just not vote, well, folks wake up. That’s how Trump was elected in 2016.  So, not voting is just like voting for Trump.

So, get out there, wait on lines if necessary. You must vote. And it really is vital that you vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. They are humane, and both still possess fully functioning brains.

VOTE!

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The Final Phase

 We have been treated to several stages or phases of the Donald Trump presidency.  Perhaps the initial phase was the most benign, we might call it the Apprentice Phase. Trump came into our lives as The Apprentice, a reality TV “star”. He tried to promote himself as the businessman extraordinaire, a multimillionaire, maybe even a billionaire.  He promoted this image, as well as the famous TV star. Both appealed to him, as they made him seem famous beyond limit.  And that’s the image he loves—the ultra-successful, handsome man about town. 

Next, he seemed to move without resistance into his World Leader phase.  That seemed to be a two-part affair. First, he cozied up with “Vlad the Impaler” Putin, followed by his BFF period with Kim Jong Un and the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping. He also seemed to at least admire that Bolsanaro idiot still busily destroying Brazil.  But then he eased into his American Triumphalism stage by opting out of our various global connections, including NATO, the Paris Climate Accord, the World Health Organization, NAFTA, the Iran Nuclear Accord . . . and the list continues.

I think maybe the Wall, and his “Southern Strategy” thing was perhaps part of that same MAGA strategy—Keep everyone not us (white) out of the country. Decry the “shithole” countries of the world and move away from any contact. We were being isolated from the World. During this second “America First” phase, Trump went out of his way to cater to his racist supporters, decrying everything Obama had accomplished, but most especially the Affordable Care Act.  If Obama did it, then it must be bad. He’s Black don’t you know, and from Kenya.

And then came the dreaded Pandemic. “It’s all China’s fault. Had nothing to do with me”. He was just sitting there minding his own business and then the damned Chinese, who were fooling around in their Wuhan laboratory, managed to release this nuisance virus. “Yeah, yeah, it’s a pain, but it’s really just another version of the Flu, you know that thing that comes around every Fall. If we ignore it, it will go away all by itself. By June, we will never see it again. It hates warm weather, you know.  So, everyone just go about your business”.

But that damnable thing refused to just go away. Folks started getting sick, and then dying for heaven’s sake. And they started dying here in the Good Old US of A in really big numbers.  But again, it had nothing to do with The Donald. He was managing the whole thing amazingly. Nobody has ever seen such a management style.  Brilliant. The Best. And we’re going to have a vaccine in a couple of months, so no one should worry. The Donald is on the case.

But of course, The Donald was never on the case. Essentially, he did nothing, even decrying the very basic public health principles that might have at least begun to reduce the wreckage.  Don’t wear a mask. Makes you look weak and stupid. You might die, but hey, Shit Happens.  And so, we are now approaching 220,000 dead, a number beyond comprehension when compared with other world states.

And then the Pandemic phase began the collapse of the Trump legend.  Suddenly, the news stories began emerging about how transparently incompetent was our President.  We knew, but had ignored his actual record, six bankruptcies, the complete failure of Trump University, Trump Airlines, his several ventures into foods, like Trump Steaks, even for heaven’s sake a gambling casino. He couldn’t make money with a gambling casino.

So, he is something of a business legend, perhaps the most incompetent, unsuccessful business person on the globe. . He is currently in hock to DeutscheBank to the tune of $400+ million. That’s a big number. But since he refuses to release any of his financial records, we the “suckers and losers” of the world, are left to speculate and to swim in the cesspool of his business empire.  A major question remains here on why a big bank like DeustcheBank would agree to loan him this much money, when nobody else would so agree. It seems worthy of some research.

And then, at some point, timing is uncertain, Trump acquired this COVID19 disease, you know, the fake disease doubtless invented by Hillary or Obama. How he could possibly have gotten it is anyone’s guess. I mean, he was so careful, was he not? And surely none of his darling supporters, or those closest to him would have dared extended their reach to deliver this foul blow to his ego, if not his health. But with the help of a multimillion dollar team of medical experts at the Walter Reed hospital, coupled with the introduction of experimental drugs not available to you and me, and doubtless including direct injections of bleach into his forehead, Trump responded quickly, did a Onzi around the park in his Secret Service Limo (thereby exposing each of them) and then returned to the White House where he re-emerged maskless to greet his faithful.

And then we seemed to enter a last phase of his dubious presidency, the Manic Phase,  Whether it was the blow to his ego caused by acquiring this fake disease at all, or the continued blows to his ego by the press and public because of his obviously inept handling, Trump seems to have entered his manic stage. In it, he seems to be completely off the rails of sanity. He refuses still to agree to leave if he loses the election. He refuses to denounce Nazi terrorists. He openly says that both Obama and Hillary should be arrested and charged with something for screwing with him.  He has opened discussions with republican governors about appointing new “electors” in swing states controlled by republicans. Those electors would agree to vote for Trump—essentially to appoint him—should there be a lot of delayed mail-in ballots.  So, he is basically moving to destroy our entire election system in order to assure his “victory”.  I cannot even imagine any other president in my lifetime trying something so destructive of the American system of Government.  And as he makes his various manic moves, often via Twitter, his actions and talks are giving rise to conclusions by the medical profession that he is mentally deranged and is a threat to the American Nation.  On more than one occasion, it has been suggested by knowledgeable medical observers that he be removed from office.  Now, to be fair, his personal physician, Dr. Sean Conley, asserts that Trump is in fine condition.  But many observers now simply do not believe Dr. Conley. He has given contradictory information, and his assertions simply do not ring true, about Trump’s physical and mental well-being.

And so the election proceeds amidst massive confusion as to the outcome of the election, regardless of the actual vote.  And the people are understandably confused. For reasons I now fail to understand, there seems to remain great confusion within the voting public as to whether Donald Trump should be re-elected.  I no longer understand why anyone is confused. Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to the very existence of our Nation. He is a proven incompetent, and now may also be mentally deranged. We know almost to a certainty that he is also totally corrupt, although it would take many months of investigation to reveal just how sordid is his total record of corruption.  So, just why anyone should be confused is utterly beyond me.

I can only hope that people will come to their senses when they are confronting the task of marking that ballot. If they vote for Donald Trump, then each and every person so voting is fully complicit with whatever happens to our Nation. If it fails, and it will under Trump, then they will be partners in crime.

So think carefully folks. The State of the Nation is literally in your hands.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Zombification of America

 And what you might ask is a Zombie, exactly? Well, Merriam defines it thusly: “a will-less and speechless human (as in voodoo belief and in fictional stories) held to have died and been supernaturally reanimated”.  So, “speechless” Hmmm. Not so much. “Will-less”? Hmmm, yeah, seems right.  The main point, though, is the absence of thoughtful actions, people who seem to be no longer capable of independent thinking.

I recently looked at a little U-Tube video showing hordes of people running towards and jumping off a cliff into a raging fiery inferno down below. And that seemed a perfect metaphor for what we can see in America, almost every day. But why, what happened that caused people to rush headlong towards oblivion?

I have been around for a while, so I have seen America drawn to presidents who were less than perfect. George W. Bush??? Really people, we elected George W. Bush? But Molly Ivins used to have a lot of fun, making fun of Shrub. She even wrote an amusing book: “Shrub: The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush”. Molly is the person who convinced me that comedy is the best approach to commentary on truly stupid politicians.  Comedians, on average, seemed smarter than your usual Joe, and they “tell it like it is”, but we are able to laugh instead of crying.  But, despite his less than stellar track record, Shrub is an intellectual dynamo, compared with Trump. Even Reagan looks competent compared with Trump. Ahhh, Molly, we need you.  

On reflection, our presidents have indeed bounced about hither and yon in terms of competence and intellect.  But Trump really stands out.  He seems dumber than your standard pet rock. And his lack of intellect reveals itself when you examine his record. Molly once offered this advice on judging a politician: "The first is to look at the record. The second is to look at the record. And third, look at the record." And Trump’s record is there for all the world to see and judge.  He has been married three times, and all three seem disasters. He keeps starting businesses, and then crashing those businesses into bankruptcy—six times by last count.  And, because he isn’t too smart, he lies all the time-20,000 so far into this term, but who’s counting?  And then we can see why Trump did not want his taxes revealed for all to see.  They are beyond shameless, revealing him to be a con man. I guess pretend-wealthy folks have different standards for the IRS than us ordinary tax-payers. Apparently, he is so bad at the business of business that he paid no taxes for over ten years running. And the republican response to this debacle? “Oh, it shows how smart Trump is.” Reminds me of that cartoon I posted on Facebook: 



But why, why do his supporters act with such rampant stupidity? I now assume it is a combination of power and stupid people.  Apparently, when power is acquired by stupid people, they act stupidly, and commit destructive acts.  Just note the reaction of Trump and his gang of thieves to the Pandemic.  Did he/they stand up and mount a defense against the virus, so as to contain its worst effects? Well, no, they sat on their asses, played the blame game (it’s all China’s fault), and also Let’s Pretend (as soon as it warms up, it will disappear).  They basically kicked aside all of the Nation’s expertise on this subject, as well as withdrawing from any international efforts—see the World Health Organization. As a result, the United States has one of the world’s worst records for containment. Over 200,000 people have died as a result. That’s the direct result of stupid people being in charge of a catastrophic event.

And then his supporters observe these effects, and do they withdraw? Hmmm, nope, they double down on their support.  How/Why? Well, they assert that the pandemic is a myth, a fiction created by the Liars of the Left. “People aren’t really dying of COVID.  They are dying of more ordinary conditions. People on the left are apparently lying about the causes of death. The COVID19 is just like the ordinary flu. Yeah, people will get sick, but thousands are not dying from COVID.  That’s a Deep-State conspiracy”.  They actually assert such stuff.  Now to be fair, Trump says such stuff, so they can either believe him, or not.  It’s the same with all of his 20,000+ lies. People have the option. Believe him when he lies, or ask yourself, “Why is he saying such obvious untruths?” I think, even when his supporters understand that he is lying, they still support him, because his statements are like slapping other smart people in the face. And that’s what they actually like.  Turns out that thinking is often hard, and believing fantasies is much easier, and somehow more satisfying because you don’t have to do anything.

But how is all of this madness possible? It was not like this when Reagan was President, or when the Bushes were presidents. Even Nixon was more straightforward.  And when Shrub lied about Sadaam’s WMDs, although he tried to escape, his lies eventually caught up with him. As I remember, his supporters didn’t gather and shout “Fake News”.  Nixon was finally done in by his lies and ineptitude, as was Bush. Reagan simply timed out. He lied, he committed stupid acts, and then he left.  But they were more ordinary corrupt/stupid leaders. They seemed not to be about destroying America, as is President Stupidhead.  So, are Trump’s supporters actually all in line with destroying America?  It would seem so.  They maintain his greatness (“Best president we have ever had”) despite all the evidence to the contrary.  Is it possible that Trump actually knew something, when he famously asserted that he could take a gun out on Fifth Avenue, shoot someone, and his support would increase? I now think he is right. His supporters would jump up and down with glee, and even more would be drawn to his side.  The Zombies are apparently here in great numbers.

Thinking is hard and filled with consequences. Typically, when you think about serious issues, you are forced to actually have to do something. Maybe Vote, perhaps join a resistance movement, volunteer at some cause near and dear.  But you may not be able to change a Zombie back into an ordinary, thinking human. Only they can do that, so perhaps stop trying to argue with your neighbor.  Instead, buy him a beer, or a nice glass of wine and talk about how nice his lawn looks.  Even Zombies like to be complimented.

So, however annoyed or amused you are, it is likely that you can’t really change the whole world of ZombieLand. The best you can hope for is perhaps to neutralize it.  You can Vote. You can help at the Polling places, assuming you can stay safe (wear a mask). You can help an elderly neighbor to vote, either remotely, or by helping them get to a polling place. You can respond to folks who ask questions, but respond calmly and rationally.

Somehow, we all need to let go of the anger, because anger won’t solve our collective problems. Only thoughtful, rational acts can do that.  So, remember, Be Kind. But always look for truth, and facts. Trust science, and behave rationally and kindly.

And have another glass of wine. Drink on me hearties!

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

We’re All In This Together

 Sometimes I am drawn back to the 1940s. I was still a little kid, but the World was in crisis. And that fact was not lost on me, despite my tender age –6-11.  I was aware that the world at large—not all, but most nations—were united in their efforts to defeat Totalitarian Fascism.  Europe had largely collapsed. Britain fought on, with the Channel separating them from the worst of Nazi Germany’s horrors. Germany of course continued bombing Britain, but the Brits never conceded. And then we entered the horror. Finally, civilized nations prevailed. They prevailed because they worked together, and because they knew they had to succeed, or the world was finished. Civilization itself was at risk.

And, now my mind springs forward to 2020, to another horror show.  Oh, I don’t mean the horror show that is politics in the 21st century.  Well, partly I do, but I was actually thinking about the Pandemic and the horror show of COVID19. This virus didn’t creep up on us in the dark of night. Nope, it sprang full blown in bright daylight, first a little bit in a place called Wuhan, and then rapidly, it was everywhere. And we seemed to just sit on our collective asses, sucking our thumbs, and drinking our beer, while the world descended into viral madness.

Could there ever have been a clearer signal that World War X was upon us?  Because I am not quite old enough (quiet you, no I’m not old enough to remember the 1918 Flu Pandemic), I have no memory of that awful 1918 pandemic.  

According to the CDC, “The 1918 influenza pandemic was the most severe pandemic in recent history. It was caused by an H1N1 virus with genes of avian origin. Although there is not universal consensus regarding where the virus originated, it spread worldwide during 1918-1919.  In the United States, it was first identified in military personnel in spring 1918. It is estimated that about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with this virus. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States.

And also, we seem to ignore the fact that we have experienced other pandemics, even if not as deadly as today’s or 1918’s. “Since 1918, the world has experienced three additional pandemics, in 1957, 1968, and most recently in 2009. These subsequent pandemics were less severe and caused considerably lower mortality rates than the 1918 pandemic.2,3,4 The 1957 H2N2 pandemic and the 1968 H3N2 pandemic each resulted in an estimated 1 million global deaths, while the 2009 H1N1 pandemic resulted in fewer than 0.3 million deaths in its first year.3,4 

It is thought that the War and the movement of troops contributed to spreading the 1918 flu virus. In any case, spread it did, and millions died as a result.

Enter 2020, and the COVID19 virus. Now I regard this virus as a global enemy, every bit as dangerous as was Nazi Germany in 1940.  We are not even close to containing it. And not until we have a working vaccine will we be able to contain it.  But we can “manage” its worst effects. How? Well, by all of us working together as a unified force. And who do I mean by “all of us”? Well, I mean really everyone in the world.  This pandemic presents us with the best opportunity the world has seen in nearly a century for an integrated global defensive force, operating single-mindedly to defeat this virus.

Instead, what do we see?  We are playing the Blame Game.  And by “We” I mean the United States, under the pseudo-leadership of Donald Trump.  President Trump’s first reaction to the Pandemic was to deny its existence. It was ephemeral, it would disappear as soon as the weather warmed a bit. He seemed to liken it to the normal flu. He continued making light of it, even as it began to spread rapidly around our country, and even as people began dying in the thousands.

Instead of joining forces with our own public health scientists and the scientists around the globe, he shifted into his second standard game—the Blame Game. It’s all China’s fault.  But really, what does it matter if it is all China’s fault? We still need to contain it.  Even now, the actual origin of this virus is unclear. It seems to have originated as a virus among bats, and then transferred to other animals. The Wuhan province first ID’ed as the origin is at least in doubt, now, although somewhere in China seems to be the origin. But again, although that question will be important to research scientists looking to the future, and ways to prevent such outbreaks, the immediate tasks seem clear:

1.       Work on developing a vaccine; and,

2.       Combine global forces to contain the worst effects.

Instead, our President seems to have decided on ridiculing those people who are most likely to lead us to a cure—our scientists. He who seems to have learned almost nothing since about the 2nd or 3rd grade seems to get his rocks off by making fun of other people smarter than him (which seems to be almost everybody).  He seems unable to stand anyone who might be credited with giving sound, scientific advice.  Instead, he wants everyone to listen to him. But he has no advice. He just wants to imagine it away.  And he doesn’t just defame our own scientists. He has spent the last six months of this awful pandemic period moving us away from any global connections.  Of all things, he whacked away at the World health Organization.  He has slammed our own Centers for Disease Control. In fact almost everyone who has any actual expertise in this field has been tossed aside by this President.

I think also of the fairly obvious need for at least a national effort to manage the worst effects of the Pandemic.

1.       Supplies—the country, the world really, desperately needs supplies of medical protective equipment—masks, gloves, ventilators, all manner of PPE. So, instead of mounting a national effort to obtain such supplies for the entire country, Trump basically backed away and forced the states to compete with one another to get the supplies, a monumentally stupid approach.

2.       Education – because the best approach to protecting one another is to enforce separation –social distancing—education has become problematic. School classrooms are crowded, and like little Petri dishes. The initial approach has been to cancel school and begin a grand experiment—education via the Internet, using a new system called Zoom.  Small problem: guess what? Not all kids are equal in the world of technology. The various underclasses have less access to both computers and to Wi-Fi Internet connections.  Plus, we really have almost no clue how to actually educate our children, especially our youngest kids, and those kids with learning problems.  So, the issue practically screams for a national, i.e., federal approach.  But our President is simply ignoring this issue altogether.  I guess he “doesn’t do” education, since it seems to have been lacking almost entirely in his own childhood.

3.       Working Environments – the world of work has altered dramatically. Some jobs can be converted into computerized Zoom laboratories, but not all.  Again, Federal, and even Global development efforts seem to be needed to develop new ways to actually work together. We cannot just sit on our asses, drinking the liquid of your choice at home until the virus goes away.  But our President remains at home watching Fox News—the Nazi News Network-- or on one of his many golf courses, sucking his thumb and occasionally hitting a golf ball. He is playing no part in solving the many problems associated with getting work done while we cannot physically/safely work together in the same room.  Once again, he seems to be steady on course with his main strategic approach in life—blaming someone for his own shortcomings.

I have never seen anything quite like this pretend-president. In my many years of life, I have at least been able to observe presidents dating back to Franklin Roosevelt. Never have I observed a president so lacking in the attributes we require of presidents. He cannot manage anything or anyone. He seems incapable of actually thinking, but he also seems to be unable to work with other thinking humans. Whenever he manages to come into contact with someone who has a working brain, he generally tries to fire that person, or drive the person to quit the job. We have never seen such turnover in important positions in our government.  While I understand that republicans seem to value anarchy over organized government, this particular crowd of republicans seems to excel at the game of destroying everything resembling order and/or intelligence.

And so we approach an election, the Election of our lifetimes, perhaps the most important election in the history of America.  And what are we seeing? Donald Trump is spending much of his public time decrying the notion of people voting at all, but especially voting by mail. And in the midst of a pandemic, and an unwillingness of people to want to stand in close proximity in long lines, voting by mail seems a reasonable alternative. But with Zero evidence, our President tells us that voting by mail is filled with fraud. This despite the fact that he votes by mail routinely.  And now, he has begun to argue that he may have to act so as to cancel the election should he actually lose.  Some source report, "[T]he Trump campaign is discussing contingency plans to bypass election results and appoint loyal electors in battleground states where Republicans hold the legislative majority.

With a justification based on claims of rampant fraud, Trump would ask state legislators to set aside the popular vote and exercise their power to choose a slate of electors directly. The longer Trump succeeds in keeping the vote count in doubt, the more pressure legislators will feel to act before the safe-harbor deadline expires."

A Trump campaign legal advisor elaborated:

"The state legislatures will say, 'All right, we've been given this constitutional power. We don't think the results of our own state are accurate, so here's our slate of electors that we think properly reflect the results of our state ... If you have this notion that ballots can come in for I don't know how many days—in some states a week, 10 days—then that onslaught of ballots just gets pushed back and pushed back and pushed back. So pick your poison. Is it worse to have electors named by legislators or to have votes received by Election Day?"

How accurate is this report? I don’t know, but it seems a small jump from what Trump has been saying for months. He claims fraud in absentee voting, yet he has zero evidence, and most knowledgeable observers report no serious fraud in absentee voting.

And so our Nation approaches this election with some serious issues before most folks have even voted.  We have a president who has done almost literally nothing to resolve the worst effects of this pandemic, in fact he has arguably made it worse by his arguments against the need to protect ourselves. He is a disaster in the making. He has already proven himself to be a disaster. We cannot afford another four years.

BUT, should the American people vote him back into office, we will have no one to blame for the ensuing chaos but ourselves.  It is all on us now. Everything from this day forward will be determined by the American people. We will soon see what this nation stands for.