Goofus and Gallant for modern times

My goodness. We have a child in the White House. It’s made of glass. And the adults are locked outside watching the baby in chief melt down with daily temper tantrums.

Here’s a modern day Goofus now:

Followed by a starkly contrarian named Gallant:

How did it come to this? A virus a thousand times smaller than a dust mote has humbled and humiliated the planet’s most powerful nation. America has failed to protect its people, leaving them with illness and financial ruin. It has lost its status as a global leader. It has careened between inaction and ineptitude. The breadth and magnitude of its errors are difficult, in the moment, to truly fathom.

In the first half of 2020, SARS‑CoV‑2—the new coronavirus behind the disease COVID‑19—infected 10 million people around the world and killed about half a million. But few countries have been as severely hit as the United States, which has just 4 percent of the world’s population but a quarter of its confirmed COVID‑19 cases and deaths. These numbers are estimates. The actual toll, though undoubtedly higher, is unknown, because the richest country in the world still lacks sufficient testing to accurately count its sick citizens.

Read on

The voice of reason is the enemy of the people? The adults in the room know the answers, but they are codling the child who stops sucking his thumbs long enough to tap out these inane, insane, bullshit tweets.

wandering around current events

Like most anyone right now, my mind wanders around all these current events. Politics. Covid19. MeToo. Black Lives. Racism. Weather. Climate change. Ghislaine Maxwell. The “Defund the Police” hullabaloo.

I watched about two hours of yesterday’s congressional hearing with Dr. Fauci, Dr. Robert Redfield, Adm. Brett Giroir. It’s stupefying that Republicans like Jim Jordan are smoke screening the effort with power house, machine gun style word storms of inducing panic. They want to insert themselves and their politics into justifying government violence against protesters. I understand they have a talking point that they want to guide a pointy finger away from gross negligence of states reopening too fast to BLM protestors. I don’t believe it’s Dr. Fauci’s responsibility to insert himself into that arena. But he handled Jordan’s word blitzkriegs with dignity and strength.

I get it. Millions of protestors are marching, most often with masks. And he had to point out that the protestors of any movement need to keep distance and wear masks. While so-called republicans were marching to re-open the economy whilst not masking is a flagrantly terrible tactic.

The story of Covid is a distinctly intriguing story. The more you look into it, the easier it is to become scared by the unknowns. If lifelong compromised organs are on the docket, I wish more people were doing their part to slow the spread.

Herman Cain. Man. What a sad story. The guy railed against wearing masks. Egregiously and ignorantly refused them. And he died because of it.

I was talking to some conservative friends and I barely reached the N sound in Cain before they interrupted, “Well, he also had cancer.” I didn’t want to jump off the phone and run do a fact check. But the man had cancer battled and beat colon cancer in 2006. It wasn’t part of his or his family’s concern regarding Covid.

They’re also quick to say, “Tina’s asymptomatic of Covid. She’s going to be fine. We’ll all be fine.” But we don’t know enough about the disease to “know” she’ll be anything.

And now Louie Gohmert has it. Will it take him? He’s 66. So maybe he’ll make it. But he was in a meeting the day before he was diagnosed, getting reprimanded by Gerald Nadler because he, Matt Gaetz and Jim Jordan refused to wear a mask when they weren’t talking during the hearing with Bill Barr.

Then there’s the story of Pastor Perry Cleek at a round table with President Trump who a day later tested positive for Covid. He was sitting directly next to Bill Barr and across from Trump. No masks.

My understanding of Defund the Police is likely very ignorant, but I am for the possibility that more can be done to help police in their ongoing battle to help keep the streets safe, people safe and the roads monitored. I think “Defund the Police” is a poor way of describing it, and perhaps the better way of looking at it is Expanding the Police with more of a wider arsenal to combat issues in states, counties and the nation.

Tina and I know some police personally and they seem to think it would be great to have a better staff of knowledgeable professionals. Police are already segregated into different groups (eg homicide detectives, uniformed officers, etc.) Maybe the police net needs to widen. So stop saying “Defund” and think Expand.

I will tell you what’s not working. What’s not working is poking at the Black Lives Matter movement like it’s a bee’s nest. What’s happening with the Law and Order option is exacerbating the issue. The powers on both sides need to sit down and listen to each other. Fighting is only causing more strife.

But isn’t that what President Putin wants us to do?

The race issue is fucked up. You have the republican wearing their badge of honor for being the Party of Lincoln, while they are fighting to preserve the very institutions that Lincoln and the country went to war for. Which is it? You want to be the Party of anti-racism or the party of egregious reveling in applauding the confederacy? Monuments are to be looked on with honor and adoration. They are large and reminders of the past that is so horrible to consider.

But I’m no fan of crucifixes and what they represent either. So I’m biased.

Oh my tittles tingle when I think of Ghislaine Maxwell spilling the beans on all these horrible monster men who associated with Epstein and her over the years. I want them ALL taken down. Bill Clinton to President Trump. Wipe ’em out. Go, thee, MeToo into battle with scorched earth and no bodies left un-harmed. That level of immorality needs a reckoning.

Thursday afternoon, I had a zoom meeting with my friend Ryan. He’s an artist doing graphics for Veterans at a top government level. We spoke in depth about our atheism and how we both feel we’re better “christians” now because being moral, good and just is more important knowing there are real consequences to one’s actions. But we use that moniker lightly, because we no longer believe that the reason for the season is Jesus. It’s humanity. And humanity should be who we honor as the savior. As humanity’s web of individuals creating the body of diversity is truth. And when we disparage a group, we amputate a necessary limb from our being.

That’s why globalization and neighborliness were the keystones to Jesus’ message. We need everyone to fight for everyone. It is the religious people’s right to tell people they are going to hell, that they shouldn’t have abortions, that they should worship god. But that doesn’t mean the non-religious need to agree. We should all agree to let everyone determine their own views. Abortion is troubling to me, because I do not advocate for it. But I advocate for one’s right to employ it in situations that need it. That includes poverty, health, and even birth control if need be.

Damn. I just wish we could all get along. Why do opinions on topics cause tension when they really don’t need to? I know I’m guilty of getting bent out of shape on topics that I disagree with. But why? So much of these things are way out of my control. They are built into a patchwork of ideas that are out of almost all of our collective reach. We can bitch and moan about many topics, but our voices are soft whimpers in the vacuum of ability to do a damn thing about it. So why fight?

Anyway, just wanted to jot some thoughts down about these events.

I often recognize my views as deluded and ignorant. I don’t claim to have all the knowledge and I’m fully aware that the very definition of “opinion” is: a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

I do however feel that opinions are best expressed long form and not embodied by a meme. But we live in a bumper sticker world. As if the smaller the expression the more profound.

I think back to when I let go of religion and faith. It was a long arduous process. It’s ongoing. The thing that helped me the most was vocalizing doubts. Writing them out. Once I really jumped into the actual expressions of my internal dilemmas, it created a level of discovery that led me out of faith.

But I was taught to hold doubts to a minimum. Use Jesus to crush those sinful thoughts. Once I stopped agreeing that the behaviors devoted to sins were, I could free myself from their shackles and open my mind to ideas that held much more weight and luster.

I have to broach one more topic and it was a discussion I had with a loved one about Trump. She had asked me, “Are you a fan of our president.” And I responded no. She clearly is. I thought about it long and hard and finally I asked her, “I’m curious. Tell me what you admire about the president. Her response:

1. He’s not a politician.
2. He says what he thinks 
3. I trust him

Unsolicited, she followed that with this line:

Obama to me was so fake!

She asked me why I didn’t admire Mr. Trump and I wrote out a thing about his comments on McCain, that he made fun of a disabled man and that he boasted about grabbing women by their pussies. That his wealth and power gave him that right.

Her response was, “Well all I can think of is Jesus saying he who is without sin  throw the first stone. He’s a man behaving like a man.”

I responded, “Well, I was taught not to behave that way.”

She wrote, “I’m relieved.” I think it was sarcastic.

But let me go back to her admirations for Trump: He’s not a politician. He’s not? He plays one on TV. His influence in politics has been a focus of his his entire career. Just because he wasn’t in an office, didn’t mean he wasn’t engaged in politics.

“He says what he thinks.” What a tired, boring statement. I say what I think too. And it gets me in trouble. And I pay the consequences. Trump says what he thinks and racists and ignorance is rewarded because he’s giving voice to those who feel stifled by the educated.

“I trust him.” How does one trust a man who rarely tells the truth? I don’t get it.

And finally, “Obama was so fake.”

Really? Really?

Trump wears self tanner. Eye makeup. His hair is nothing short of a horse mane of a toupee or plugs. And he devotes his time to endless tweet streams of madness. He uses violence to give himself a photo op holding up a book he’s never read.

Meanwhile Obama is fake. Trump is the poster child of anything but.

Okay. I get it.

I never idolized Mr. Obama. But I felt he did his best to fight for what he cared for, but he also failed miserably at times. I never wore an Obama hat. Or shirt. Or poster. Or paid homage to him with endless repetitions of his campaign slogans.

The chanters. The congregations. The mindless revel in their adoration for a man who boasts his delusions. He cheated on multiple wives. He paid off hookers. He has been accused over 20 times of sexual assault. I’m not throwing stones. I’m pointing out his flaws.

Who have people become that they are immune for scrutiny? How are we to improve if we do not learn by the flaws of others and are open to pointing them out?

And isn’t it ironic that throwing a stone to give up an unsolicited defamatory comment on the previous president? I didn’t ask her about him. Clearly she needed to get that off her chest.

So, yeah, I guess that’s the man for those people. He’s not for me. I was taught not to behave like him, and I wear that like a badge of honor.

if covid ain’t enough, welcome the vampire bees from the pits of hell

On Tuesday evening, a super-pissed-off wasp, or bee, or hornet or miniature black vampire stung me on my neck in the front yard. 

This miniature vampire had my number. I’m convinced he or she attacked me because the day before I destroyed a mud nest being built on our front windows with big-ass waspy looking things buzzing in and out. Their long bodies were nauseating. 

I imagine that when it saw me wielding my clippers, it saw red. His PTSD kicked in, because his house was destroyed by me, a Godzilla. A big, ignorant Godzilla. “Karma’s a BITCH!” it must have screamed in Bee language as it kamikazed my neck in the place it knew it would do the most damage. And if he lived long enough to get away, he sped off screaming, “Die, mother fucker! Die!!!”

Then laughed and laughed a high pitch version of Dr. Evil’s menacing chuckle as it sped off to slap high fives with its best friends and family.

It struck my neck, right near my jugular focusing its poison to do the worst damage quickly sending poison straight up into my head, curving back around, out to my finger tips and down to my legs. 

I screamed madness. “I’ve been stung! I’ve been stung” followed by blood curdling screams. Tina noticed I was already swelling up. Rashes blanketed my arms and face. 

I ran inside. Tina googled a few things to do, like shower and to concoct a baking soda and water mixture to rub on the wound. While I waited for the shower water to warm, I looked through blurry tears, my eyes were closing up. I looked away thinking that if I didn’t see myself, it would just go away. But ignorance was not bliss. I was in pain. A lot of it. 

Out of the shower, Tina was on the phone with my mom, our goto for immediate health care advice. She said she and my dad would come get me and take me to the hospital. Then she heard me in the background screaming and she said, “No, call an ambulance or rush him to Wake Forest Baptist.” 

Tina drove me as fast as possible to the hospital. Upon arrival, she couldn’t go in. Because Covid. 

I checked in and was called back immediately. They interviewed me quickly, then started me on an IV to give me fluids and a steroid. They stuck my shoulder with a syringe full of epinephrine, an adrenaline hormone that would speed recovery, but make me feel like I’d just run 15 miles, making my heart pound harder, a feeling I’ve felt often as a long distance runner. 

I also took two Benadryl. 

Over the four hours in the hospital, I started feeling better within a couple hours. But I kept complaining my throat felt swollen. They decided they needed to drop a camera through my mouth to check my vocal cords. After two tries and lots of gagging, they tried my nose. It hurt. I cried as they rammed the back of my nasal passage like Austin Powers struck in that narrow hallway trying to turn around in that golf cart. 

I braced my hands against the bed rail and another doctor grabbed my right hand. “Keep going,” I muttered. “I’ll be okay.” 

After seeing what they needed, I was green lighted to go home. Come to find out, they needed to make sure my throat wasn’t closing so they’d have time to intubate me before it closed up completely. 

Phew. 

All’s okay. I’m $1000 lighter. Our insurance deductible for ER visits in the hands of Wake Forest staff for saving my life. 

Today, I’m on a fast track of steroids that makes my hands shake as I’m typing this. 

I ponder how privileged and lucky I am to live in a time when science is advanced enough to alleviate something as simple as a bee sting that could have killed me if I lived too far from a hospital, or if I lived in a different country with no access to such advancements, or was born a time when relief for a severe allergic reaction wasn’t developed yet. My parents, friends and family all showered me with love, support and prayers. 

What a day. That dirty little beast got his revenge. And now I have PTSD to go in the yard. But now I have epipens, $130 remedies, should it happen again. 

Stay safe y’all! 

inside i see

Inside, I see

marched feet, clinched fists, muscly sinews flexed to raise a cardboard sign

Are these tears real or canned?

Are these fears legit or deluded? 

Are these swears loud or tamed? 

Are these bears simply asleep or hibernating 

So many voices imprisoned in skull that will never reach the ears of another. 

I can’t count the expletives that will never pass over vocal cords. 

Rage detoured to a dead-ended synapse road. To a suburban cul-de-sac where happiness moved in, lounge in front of a glowing box, mounted to a wall, blinking the signals from the same frequency for untold trips around the sun. 

to protest or not to protest …

Lately, I’ve struggled with the idea that I’m not marching in protests. I see, hear and read what’s going on, and I feel it’s my American duty to stand with those who agree that there’s a great race divide in this country, and sitting on our hands is not okay. But yet, I don’t do anything, but think about it.

What a liberal hypocrite.

During the initial lockdown to shelter in place, Tina and I spent our days painting our house. And when a close friend was served with divorce papers, we took him in, gave him carte blanche to prioritize his divorce, essentially heaping a level of stress on us that became unimaginably challenging.

It’s driven me to a helluva destructive headspace.

I’ve been reading poetry more lately. Reading more in general. Because the news will drive a person to insanity and beyond. But it doesn’t really work to eliminate all the stress revolving around these trying times.

Tina and I got tested for Covid when we arrived in North Carolina last week, because many of Tina’s allergy symptoms are similar to Covid symptoms. So we scheduled appointments at a pharmacy.

Our results came back yesterday. Mine was negative. Tina’s was positive. I can’t be positive without an antibody test, but I assume that I had it first, because I came down with several symptoms back in early June. I called my doctor and she gave me advice on how to proceed as if I had it, but she didn’t tell me to get tested because at the time, they weren’t as abundant.

We immediately got on the phone to tell everyone we’ve come in contact with.

Of those people were many in Chicago and many in North Carolina. The Chicagoans immediately made arrangements to get tested, and they called or texted Tina with well wishes. These are trying times and to test positive for something we know a lot about and so little at the same time … that’s scary.

But our North Carolina friends and family all reacted differently. Only one phone call arrived from my Sister-in-law to set Tina’s mind at ease. But not one of my inner family members so much as provided a good wish or prayer, but seemed to deny the legitimacy of the claim.

Insert head scratch and a bit of anger.

This shit is scary. We don’t know what’s going to happen. And we don’t know what’s going to happen with people we’ve come in contact with.

Either I’ve had it, and convalesced, or I am about to get it and no one called me to say, “Shit man, we got to make sure we all do everything we can to help you should you get it in a way that is challenging and difficult.”

The responses were, frankly, weird and uninformed.

One person told me they had Covid19 twenty years ago, so don’t worry about him.

Other people said they’d wait to experience symptoms to get tested. And yet the science shows that you’re contagious within a few days of exposure.

People are willfully becoming carriers because they want to remain blissfully ignorant. All the while, they are carrying on their schedules.

Here in North Carolina, I’ve seen the most people not wearing a mask even when inside of a store that politely “requires” masks inside. Yesterday, I grocery shopped for over a week of provisions, and I glanced up while opening a plastic bag for produce to spot a maskless woman. I looked back down only to do a quick shot back at her to verify her lack of face covering.

At Home Depot last week, there were all sorts of so-called patriots defying mask requirements. These man’s mans. These t-shirts that claimed “Vietnam Veteran” and “Trump 2020. Keep America Great!”

And yet what separates us from the rest of the world is how we’re winning the war on accumulating the most Coronavirus cases and the most Coronavirus deaths.

To be a patriot, you must be free from face coverings. Because that shit would obstruct their face and make it hard to breathe. Or you might get sick

Or there are people like the one pictured above who think they’re doing “good” by wearing a face shield without a mask. They’re just breathing the air that we’re all trying to avoid. How fucking stupid are people?

It’s almost as if I need to go on full on offensive against the locals who are expressing their American freedom to flaunt blissful ignorance.

AOC wrote the book on how to respond to a shitty apology

Above is AOC’s response to Republican Representative Ted Yoho’s non apology for calling her a “fucking bitch” on the Capital steps after verbally assaulting her earlier in the day.

After having a personal falling out with a dude that — despite all evidence to the contrary that the #MeToo movement is disappeared — and repeating without irony or conviction that Rush Limbaugh said it’s magically disappeared, I can fully comprehend what it feels like to get a non-apology. People who don’t listen and who fall for conspiracies are very difficult to talk to.

People who claim they’re too old to learn because they’re stuck in their ways: this is horse shit.

“I’m sorry,” just doesn’t cut it. It’s a pathetic excuse for behaving badly and saying, “Fuck you, your evidence-based response is not valid.”

This response from AOC is gold. She is the embodiment of the person I was raised to be, disciplined, thoughtful, mind-crushing goodness and accurate tactics for approaching a perceived enemy.

I’m not saying I’m carry the attributes mentioned above with any level of consistency. And neither is AOC. She’s saying that people have bouts of weakness. They fail, and when they do, they should make an apology. A heartfelt one. They should careful listen to their accuser and respond with humility and support.

Her response is likely crushing the minds of conservatives who populate the forums at Brietbart and the like. She’s hated, because she’s a woman of color with a strong attention to morality and ethical behavior. And people who claim morality but are immoral, hate to be reminded that there are people who can do it without issue.

I read Jason Kottke’s response to AOC and loved that he referred to a post he made on how to make a proper apology. Here’s what he posted:

Apologizing is as simple as saying “I’m sorry”, right? Well, not quite. In a piece by Katie Heaney for Science of Us, here are the six components of an apology from Beth Polin:

1. An expression of regret — this, usually, is the actual “I’m sorry.”
2. An explanation (but, importantly, not a justification).
3. An acknowledgment of responsibility.
4. A declaration of repentance. 
5. An offer of repair.
6. A request for forgiveness.

And also, for what it’s worth, Jason Kottke is an artist whom I look up to for someone searching the universe for the best way to be, well, an artist, a human and a genuinely good person.

Republicans for the empowerment and betterment of America

I was appalled yesterday that our president decided that flooding money into “law and order” is somehow more important of a topic than coronavirus. “Look at all the murders in Chicago!” Meanwhile, he drug his feet for how many weeks on a somewhat controllable issue that has killed over 140,000 Americans in less than five months.

Kansas City is confused about Bill Barr’s statement that there have been 200 arrests by the new Operation Legend, only to find out there’s only been one arrest, but 200 since January.

There’s a disconnect.

Yes, protests have been an issue. But it’s a bigger issue than defund the police, coronavirus, or politics. Mr. Trump is blaming protests on the surge of coronavirus cases, yet that’s not the full picture either. Simplistic minds search for simplistic answers to confirm bias. It’s much more complicated.

I am in full support of republicans against this president. I think it’s a best possible way to proceed. I would give my vote to any number of republicans who would work to lead rather than divide. But that’s the same old talking points that the media brainwashed me to think … so the debate continues.