don’t be a dick; wear a mask

I don’t mind wearing a mask. I don’t like it, but I don’t mind it all that much. I hate the fact that it’s necessary (and, yeah, it IS actually necessary), but it’s a relatively small inconvenience. I have maybe a half dozen masks, all of which were given to me by friends. When I have to put one on, it’s a reminder that there are folks out there who care about me. I like that.

That’s the reason we wear the masks — because we care about other people. Because we’re not selfish dicks. We wear masks because this is a public health issue; not a political one, not a religious one, not a cultural one. Comrade Trump and his followers seem determined to make it into all three.

Me, being a good citizen.

Politically, they say it’s about Democrats wanting to scare the public, wanting to hurt the economy in order to damage Trump’s chance for re-election. Which is profoundly stupid. Like everybody else, I want to go back to pubs and coffee shops. I want to go to the movies. I want to stroll through the crowds at the farmer’s market, and linger over the counter of the pastry shop, and spend a few idle hours at the art center, and wander through the aisles of the market. I miss all that.

But the only way we’re going to be able to safely do that stuff again is if we wear masks for a while — until we can get a handle on Covid-19. Which we are NOT going to do if we don’t do more actual testing, if we don’t do contact tracing, and if we don’t wear the goddamn masks.

In terms of religion, they suggest Democrats want to keep churches closed in order to…I don’t know what. Something Satanic, I suppose. But we’ve seen that houses of worship are now the most common source of new Covid-19 outbreaks. That’s true internationally. Prayer alone is a poor prophylactic against viruses. The only way folks will be able to safely return to church is — well, again, testing, contact tracing, and wearing masks. If a divine being exists, he or she or it should be able to hear prayers said through a mask.

Don’t be a dick; wear a damn mask.

Culturally, wearing a mask gets passed through a filter of absurd masculinity and phony notions of heroism. Those folks standing together in crowds, mask-free, shouting about tyranny and mocking mask-wearing reporters — they see themselves as heroes. They see themselves as William Wallace (or at least Mel Gibson and his hair in Braveheart) shouting ‘Freedom!’ (they seem to forget he’s beheaded immediately afterwards). They see themselves as a Band of Brothers (the television mini-series about WWII, not that poofy Shakespeare St. Crispin’s Day bullshit), courageously displaying their willingness to stare a virus down and show it who’s boss. Wearing a mask, they think, is cowardly. A mask is a white flag of surrender to…something. Mask-Nazis.

Burial at Arlington National Cemetery. You think these guys are cowards?

It’s not cowardly to wear a mask when you buy groceries. It’s not cowardly to wear a mask when you’re burying your brothers-in-arms. It’s not brave to wear a mask either. It’s just being respectful. It’s just being a good citizen, a decent person. It’s just looking out for other folks in your community. It’s just good public health and common sense.

Wearing a mask is about not being a dick. Don’t be a dick. Wear a mask.

the bluto party

You know what? It’s time we (and by ‘we’ I mean ‘anybody who is paying attention to what’s happening right now in the United States’) stopped thinking of the Republican Party as a legitimate political party — because they’ve stopped acting like one. A political party is just a collection of people who share the same general ideology and hold the same general political positions in regard to governance. The operative term there is ‘governance’. Based on their behavior, Republicans no longer believe in governance; they only believe in ruling.

Seriously. The folks who represent Republicans now have abandoned the notion that every political party should be subject to the same rules and laws. Since Trump took office, Republicans have gutted congressional oversight, they’ve perverted the advice and consent process, they’ve twisted the concept of judicial review. Worst of all, they’ve changed the executive branch from being just one of three co-equal branches of government into…well, Bluto. What Bluto wants, Republicans deliver.

In fact, Republicans have become the Bluto Party.

Bluto, if you’re not familiar with him, was Popeye’s nemesis. A loudmouthed, blustering, bully who tries to get what he wants through brute force and/or trickery. In the Popeye cartoons Bluto takes on a variety of guises — sometimes he’s a fellow sailor, but he’s also shown up as an evil professor, a wicked hypnotist, a lecherous lifeguard, a devious sheik, a generic thug.

It’s the same with modern Republicans. They take on various guises, but they all behave like Bluto. You can put Bluto in a suit and a tie, but he’s still Bluto. You can put him in a drawing room or an orchestra pit, but he’s still Bluto. You can spray him with a gentleman’s cologne, he’s still Bluto. You can dress him in judicial robes, still Bluto. There is absolutely nothing you can do to unBluto him. He’s Bluto to the bone.

“You’d better lock up your doors today.
‘Cause Abu Hassan is on his way.
Go in hiding when I come riding
from me and my forty thieves.

Your wife and children, your money too,
I’ll steal them from you before I’m through.
I’m out gunning, so start in running
from me and my forty thieves.

My gang’s the roughest,
But I’m the toughest,
and that’s no lie.
You’ve got to hand it
to this bad bandit,
because I’m a terrible guy.

Comrade Trump, of course, is the bull goose Bluto. All lesser Blutos must bow to him. He’s released the inner Bluto in every Republican in government. For example, Bluto says it’s perfectly okay to ignore subpoena if it’s issued by congressional Democrats. Bluto argues (in front of Bluto-dominated courts) that a congressional subpoena MUST have a legislative purpose. But Bluto Republicans in congress have a long (long, long, long) history of issuing subpoenas for purely investigative purposes — even when those investigations have repeatedly turned up nothing.

I’m basically saying ALL Republicans in government now are Bluto. Republicans in Congress — Bluto. Republicans in the Justice Department — mad Bluto. Republicans who’ve been place in federal courts even when rated unqualified — totally Bluto. You may say that it’s not fair to paint all Republicans with the same brush, and I suppose you’d be right. But I’m of the opinion that if they’re benefiting from Bluto Republican behavior and not calling it out, then they’re Bluto too, and just as guilty as every other Bluto.

The only comfort to be found in this is that Bluto always gets his ass kicked in the end. I mean, it works that way in the cartoons. So I’m sending spinach to Joe Biden and every other Popeye motherfucker running a campaign against Bluto.

mawkish memorial day metaphor

Did my bit yesterday. You know…the ritual of tending the graves for Memorial Day. It’s supposed to be a holiday created by a grateful nation to honor the men and women who died while in military service. Some folks are grateful enough to visit cemeteries, large and small in every corner of the nation, to plant a flag on the grave of every veteran. It’s a pretty idea, isn’t it.

But let’s face it, the nation really isn’t all that grateful, and it’s been years since the holiday was about dead veterans. Modern Memorial Day is more a celebration of consumerism than anything else — like most American holidays. But it’s also expanded beyond its original purpose. There’s still a lot of tending to graves, but it’s no longer limited to veterans.

I’m fine with that. It’s nice to have a day set aside for remembering the dead, whoever they are, however they died. That’s especially true now, when the butcher’s bill for Covid-19 will almost certainly top 100,000 in the next week. Maybe next year somebody will plant a flag on the grave of every Covid-19 victim. I think we, as a nation, will need to find some way to express both our horror and our collective grief at the loss of so many lives. Right now it seems we’re either in shock or denial of the enormity of what’s happening. The fact that it’s still happening — that the pandemic is ongoing — makes it difficult to process. Some events are too catastrophic to comprehend until after they’ve finished, until we know how they end.

Yesterday I visited half a dozen different cemeteries — some in the city, some in the burbs, some in the middle of farmland. Some were nicer than others, some better tended, some busy with other Memorial Day caretakers, some weren’t. I helped tend to graves of family and friends, even those of a few strangers, only about half of whom were veterans.

As usual, I shot a few photographs. I generally delete most of the photos I shoot, especially on Memorial Day.  How many photos do you need of gravestones and flags?

This morning I looked at the photos I shot yesterday. I deleted all but a few. Two of them struck me. One, shot in an urban cemetery, was of the rows and rows of flags — a reminder that there was a time when it was common for American men to do a few years of military service, that it was seen as an honorable thing to do. The other photo was of the farmland just outside a rural cemetery, rows and rows of seedlings growing.

Rows of flags, rows of crops. There are metaphors in those two photos. They’re mostly trite, mawkish metaphors, almost embarrassingly sincere, but they’re also honest. Which is more than I can say for a lot of what we see on Memorial Day. 

defending america against bill gates and chicom viruses

Okay, let’s be honest now. This poor guy wouldn’t have had to exercise his Second Amendment rights if Bill Gates hadn’t paid the Chinese Communist government of China to release the Wuhan Virus to infect all of the Republicans in the United States so he could develop a ‘global vaccine’ which is actually a Human Implantable Quantum Dot Microneedle Vaccination Delivery System (patent #060606) that injects quantum dot microneedles, a digital identification mark, AND a device for buying and selling cryptocurrency. They want you to believe a mask will protect you from the vaccine, BUT IT WON’T. So of course, he had no choice but to open fire on his third visit to the Waffle House.

Actual Waffle House where the 2nd Amendment Remedy was exercises (probably, you can’t prove it’s not, so shut up).

Where in the Constitution does it say you have to wear a mask to order a damn waffle? Tell me that. We didn’t fight a war in Europe and Southeast Asia just so China can make us wear masks to buy a damn waffle. We have rights and freedom, so they hate us and our damn waffles.

Who is the real victim here? WHO?!!11? Also, only pussies wash their hands. Keep American Great Again Still.

really well

I’m old enough to remember this:

Washington state officials confirm first coronavirus death in U.S.

I remember it like it was yesterday. It wasn’t yesterday, though. It was 78 days ago. The first reported Covid-19 death, according to the news reports, was “a man in his 50s who had underlying health conditions.” This article also included this stunning news:

“This marks the first virus-related death in the U.S. amid an outbreak that has exceeded 85,000 confirmed cases around the world.”

Let me repeat that. 85,000 confirmed cases around the world. NOT deaths, just confirmed cases. NOT in Washington state, NOT in the United States, 85,000 cases in THE WORLD. 78 days ago. The United States had 22 confirmed cases.

When I started writing this, there were 90,203 confirmed Covid-19 deaths in the US. Let me repeat that as well. In the last 78 days, we’ve had an additional 90,202 confirmed Covid-19 deaths. Deaths, not cases. Deaths. By the time I finish writing this, we’ll likely have another thirty or forty more.

This morning, Comrade President Trump tweeted this:

More than 90,000 Americans dead in 78 days. That’s more than 1,100 Americans every day. Almost 50 Americans dead every hour. We’re doing REALLY well, medically? What the fuck does that even mean?

Just 78 days ago, Trump said this:

“Additional cases in the U.S. are likely, but healthy individuals should be able to fully recover and we think that will be a statement we can make with great surety now that we’ve gotten familiar with this problem. They should be able to recover should they contract the virus. So, healthy people, if you’re healthy, you will probably go through a process and you’ll be fine. Since the early stages of the foreign outbreak, my administration has taken the most aggressive action in modern history to confront the spread of this disease.

There’s no reason to panic, at all.”

No reason to panic. Healthy people will probably be fine. Probably. Unless they’re one of the 90,000 Americans who died in the last 78 days. I know I keep repeating that, but Jeebus on toast, we’re talking 90,000 dead in 78 fucking days. And it’s not stopping. There were 90,203 when I started writing this; now there are 90,311 (although, in fairness, I did take some time to play with the cat and make myself a late breakfast, but Jesus suffering fuck that’s still a hundred more dead folks in just the last hour or so).

You’ll probably be fine. We’re doing REALLY well, medically.

Yesterday 38 of the 50 states reported more deaths. Despite that, Comrade Trump is encouraging every state to relax pandemic precautions in the name of ‘the economy’ (whatever that means). You know that question folks always ask — your house is on fire, you only have time to grab one thing, what do you grab? Most folks say they’ll grab something of irreplaceable sentimental value. Family photos, something like that.

The United States is on fire. Trump grabbed the economy and he’s leaving the rest of us to burn.

One more time. 78 days. 90,332 dead. We’re doing REALLY well, medically. Nothing makes sense anymore.

 

fifty ways

— I’m confused. I don’t understand. I just don’t get it.
— What’s the matter, pookie?
— I really really don’t understand why people are reacting to a pandemic this way.
— Oh. It’s because they’re assholes.
— They assert their right to protest a legal order from their governor, but they were outraged when a black football player took a knee to protest racial police brutality. Don’t they see how illogical that is?
— No, because they’re assholes.

These people are assholes.

— They insist they’re pro-life, that every potential life is sacred, but at the same time they say it’s permissible for some folks to die in order to strengthen the economy. Not just permissible, but necessary. I don’t understand that reasoning.
— It’s asshole reasoning. The reasoning of assholes.
— They argue that they have the absolute right over the integrity of their bodies, that if they don’t want to wear a mask, they shouldn’t have to. But they also want to deny women the right over the integrity of their bodies, saying they shouldn’t be allowed to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. I mean, they feel imposed upon if they have to wear a mask, but it’s not an imposition for a woman to carry an unwanted fetus for nine months? Explain that to me.
— The explanation is that they’re assholes.

A few more assholes.

— And armed protests? What’s with that? Not just protests against stay-at-home orders, but armed protests. Why do they need to bring guns?
— It’s because they’re assholes.
— They call themselves patriots, but they keep waving Confederate or Nazi flags. I mean, flags of peoples who fought against the United States. How is that patriotic?
— They’re assholes.
— They say President Obama was corrupt, even though nobody in his administration was ever charged with a crime. Eight years and constant ongoing Congressional investigations, not one person charged with a crime. But they insist Trump is the best president ever, despite the fact that at least seven members of his administration or transition team have pleaded guilty or been convicted of felonies. And who knows how many were fired or resigned in disgrace. How does that compute?
— Dude, they’re assholes. I don’t know what else to say.

Assholes with guns.

— They claim to respect law enforcement, but they also say the FBI tried to derail the Trump presidential campaign. They say they believe in the rule of law, but they don’t want the rule of law to apply to themselves. It doesn’t make any sense. I don’t get it.
— Yes, you do. They’re assholes.
— I just can’t wrap my head around all of this. It’s like…it’s like…I don’t even know.
— Sit back, pookie, and allow me to quote the poet Simon.

“The problem is all inside your head”, she said to me
“The answer is easy if you take it logically
I’d like to help you in your struggle to be free
There must be fifty ways to say they’re assholes.”

— So you’re saying…it’s because they’re assholes?
— Ah, day dawns in the rock garden.
— What?
— You have seen the light.

 

really most sincerely dead

Well, that’s it then. The rule of law is dead. Officially dead. Medically dead, legally dead, dead in every meaningful way. Stone dead. Dead as Marley’s ghost. Deader than that, in fact, since Jacob Marley at least came back in an attempt to set things right. That’s not going to happen here. The rule of law in the United States is as dead as the Wicked Witch of the East. Not only merely dead, but really most sincerely dead.

Comrade Donald Trump killed it. Attorney General Bill Barr helped. Trump pushed it out the window and left it crippled and bleeding in the gutter; Barr finished it off by dropping a cinder block its head. 

I’m not a fan of the FBI, although I recognize their dedication and, to some extent, their sincerity of purpose. What they did to Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn was no different from what law enforcement officers at all levels–federal, state, county, and municipal–do every day. They gathered their facts, they interviewed the suspect, they gave him a chance to tell the truth. He didn’t.

That’s routine interviewing technique. Say you arrest a kid for shoplifting. You have him on the store’s CCTV sliding a pair of expensive sunglasses up his sleeve. You detain the kid and say, “Tell me what happened.” If the kid fesses up, that tells you something. It shows some contrition and you take that into consideration when deciding what to do. If the kid lies, that also tells you something. You know he’s still hoping to get away with it, and you take that into consideration.

Flynn got caught. He was given a chance to tell the truth, and he lied. He pleaded guilty to lying. Then he tried to take it back. Then he re-affirmed his guilty plea. Then he tried to take it back again. That tells you something. He was still hoping to get away with it. And hey, he did.

He betrayed his country, and thanks to complicit political appointees in the Department of Justice, he got away with it. Never spent an hour in jail. Nor will he.

The only hope this nation has of returning to some semblance of the rule of law is if voters turn out in massive numbers–numbers large enough to overcome whatever barriers are put in place to hamper voting. Because if we know one thing for certain, it’s that Trump will cheat. He’ll lie, cheat, steal, connive, do anything he can get away with to win. Because he’s learned there’s nothing to stop him–not the Department of Justice, not Congress, and certainly not his conscience.

Ain’t nothing going to stop him. Unless it’s us.

Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Stay alive. Vote your ass off.