Fight for the Light

From a Google Image Search – Eyemouth Hippodrome

Sometimes it all gets confusing, contemporary politics I mean. Emotions get all mixed up with facts and I begin to doubt my stands on the issues. The aftermath of the violence at the US Capitol showed Americans who are convinced that they are the true patriots and that Donald Trump is the answer to all their questions. They are passionate and willing to look absolutely ridiculous dressed as comic book heroes. They must have known they would be arrested. They must have been willing to take the risk. But in my heart of hearts, I am convinced that they are wrong about everything. 

Are Democrats demons married to the stock market, elitists who only care about money? I always believe that it is Republicans who fit this mold. Many Americans feel that both parties are corrupt and need to morph or die. Republicans may have once been a party of reform, the party of abolition, the party of women’s rights, but they have not filled any of those roles since the sixties.

There are wealthy Democrats, but the party also has worked to wage war on poverty and has backed programs to foster equality such as Head Start and Educational Opportunity Programs. Republicans argue that these programs did not make the differences they were intended to make, but Republicans also added hoops people had to jump through because they were worried about cheating. How much did the extra bureaucracy affect the outcomes? 

My experience tells me that Democrats are not as married to money and economics as Republicans are. Democrats are Socialists these Trumpers say. The name calling starts. Which is worse: to be a Socialist or to be a Fascist/Neo Nazi? Being a Socialist is about equality. Being a fascist is about using physical threats to force people to comply with your wishes. Being a Nazi is about believing that skin color determines worth, or being a Christian determines worth, and everyone who is not white or not Christian is fair game for isolation or extinction. Even if Democrats do embrace elements of Socialism, that still seems preferable to what these Trump folks are espousing. I’ll take Medicare for All over forced labor any day. I’ll take alternative energy over turning all the beautiful places on this earth into oil wells or fracking operations for natural gas extraction.

We can see signs all around us that we are killing the earth wherever we live, and so many animal species. We can be the dead conquerors of the planet, plunder the earth for money which is a man-made resource that we stockpile at our risk. You can’t eat money. You can’t drink money. Right now, money will buy you food and drink, but if we turn earth into a wasteland money will be useless. So again, I throw my lot in with those who think mankind can do things to reverse man’s negative effects on our planet. Republicans do not believe this.

Republicans, Evangelicals, and some Catholics have decided that the right of a woman to end an unwanted pregnancy is a deal breaker. They define it as murder and they say that makes it a crime. But I still want women to have control over their own bodies. I still contend that no one is forced to have an abortion and that the freedom of religion our documents promise us makes it possible to have differing beliefs in this matter. If this right was not being opposed so rabidly, I would not even see this as one of our society’s big issues. These judgmental men and women are not God. They are humans who simply think they have some kind of access to God’s will that the rest of us do not have.

I don’t believe that there is a cabal of child traffickers, although I do believe there are men who traffic children. I just don’t believe they all belong to one worldwide organization, and I see this as a remnant of older tastes that arose from cultures of extreme male domination. I don’t believe that either Republicans or Democrats are part of such a cabal, although individuals in either party may be child traffickers. All the horrors of this world were invented by humans and may always be with us.

If it is true that some people are using the environmental guidelines of Agenda 21 and the even stronger guidelines of the Green New Deal already, I do not think the point of these activities is to turn humans into domestic animals whose behaviors are controlled by a climate dictatorship of some sort. This is what people who love Trump say he will save us from. He will save us from being herded into cities and into organic farming and other aspects of climate theory designed to make life on earth more sustainable. Authoritarianism is far more likely to result in mind control than a plan to sustain life on this planet.

It is entirely possible that Trump’s peeps are being used by billionaires and millionaires to keep the yachts full of dollars, and other currencies arriving at their offshore bank accounts. Do they realize that the end result of their efforts is that all of our noses will be glued to corporate grindstones in perpetuity or until earth becomes a blighted landscape which will not even support the lives of the billionaires and millionaires who insist that this must be the future of the world? Why? Surely we have more imagination than these people and are more far-sighted.

I read an article this morning about charismatic Christians who are sticking with their belief that God is on Trump’s side, that he is supposed to be the one to lead us. Who’s deluded; these people or me?

 When I find my mind twisting, and my brain getting foggy and I hear these Trumpers and extremists making one iota of sense, I just sum up what they are defending using the same name calling techniques these folks use to remind myself of how wrong they are:  the words I come up with are racists, white supremacists, egomaniacs, authoritarians, vigilantes, fascists, sadly mislead humans. Does that make me judgmental and inclined to feel superior? It could, but I don’t think it makes me the same as them. To me they are the dark side perhaps holding on to gas and oil to use for barter when the whole earth becomes whatever future Mad Max lives in. We must all fight for the light. If the light is ‘socialism,’ sustainability, accepting our diversity, fighting for economic floors, and human rights, then I am in. I am human, so I certainly could be wrong but still I define what the ‘light’ is to me, and I choose the ‘light’.

David Brooks has this article in today’s NYT about Evangelicals and Jan. 6, 2021

America is Amazing

Ozark’s –

America is an amazing place. We are in the midst of a battle for control of our government, for living according to laws we accept as tradition, or throwing our history overboard to install an arriviste in a position of authoritarian rule in America. But if you look at our media you would never know this is an existential moment for our national governance. Life goes on. We discuss TV, movies, music. We gossip about our celebrities. We live in our COVID bubbles and privately mourn the deaths of thousands, the ruin of our economy, the closure of our favorite restaurant. But our emotions are so overexercised that we have difficulty distinguishing between what is possibly devastating and what is simply titillating. 

Was Joy Behar rude to Megan McCain?

Justin Beiber’s new song “Holy” is great!

What is Justin Beiber doing on Shark Tank?

What was that guy in the Capitol riot/demonstration intending to do with those zip ties?

Is the revolution over?

Are we running out of oxygen?

Was Megan McCain rude to Joy Behar?

The mail is really running late isn’t it?

All these things are discussed by Americans with the same intensity every day, a reminder of how big America is in terms of geographical area, and how diverse it is. For politics we may break into two segments, but for daily amusements our disagreements are far less tribal. There seem to be no other nations except America these days. The rest of the world has just sort of disappeared.

America almost lost its collective mind without sports. Now withdrawal symptoms are soothed by watching college children risk getting the virus with possibly serious outcomes so we can see those college basketball games or football games or soccer games. These are young healthy people we reason. They’ll be fine. We limp along with professional sports contests that are cancelled or rescheduled more often than they are played. But America is gleeful and tranquillized. Our sports are back! 

It seems likely that our government could change completely; that Trump’s troops could win out and he would govern once again, and America would hardly notice. If we all get vaccinated this will be even more true. Oh, our favorite restaurant reopened. Look, the real Academy Awards, in person, back on the red carpet. There will probably be a lot of political speeches but we’ll suffer through that. We can go to the movies again, in person. Movie theaters were in trouble before the pandemic and people will not save them in the long run, but they may go in droves at first, unless all the theaters are bankrupt. Terrorism at the movies – that will be a thing of the past. Maybe.

People will get the travel bug again and go cruising and driving and flying. Can’t wait, they all say. It will be difficult to make anyone take changes happening to earth’s environments seriously with all this normality happening. We are resilient. We are shallow people who enjoy our pleasures. Life will go on regardless of who is in the White House. Is this how we let 244 years of history slip through our fingers? After all, America will still seem the same in many ways (until it doesn’t). Can an entire nation blithely survive by simply ignoring serious things like pandemics and political coups as long as they can swim up to a bar? We might be the first nation in the history of the world to pull off anarchy. As long as the economy is doing well nothing else matters. What if you staged a revolution and no one noticed? We may find out.

US Capitol Breached

Reuters – Stephanie Keith

Trump’s troops descend on the Capitol Building in Washington where the House and Senate were holding a ceremonial certification by Congress of the Electoral College votes. This is an on-going situation which news media is treating as a minor obstacle to the certification process.

The Senate was breached and protestors were knocking on Senator’s doors. There have been shots fired and there is talk of the National Guard.

Many of us would say that Trump called these folks out and the news people are asking that Trump demand that these people leave the Capitol which he is not doing. Trump, and this is not news, is feeding his ego with the Americans who he has asked for loyalty. 

Protestors leaving the scene tell Martha Raddatz that they have every right to protest and that this is people’s House, which it is. Still it’s a violation of the principle of the “peaceful transfer of power.” Is this really America? How will this end?

‘Playthings of the gods’

From a Google Image Search – The New Yorker

We the people are merely ‘playthings for the gods’ on that tarnished Mount Olympus in Washington, DC. One day we are offered a relief payment of $600, that is then yanked away as too extravagant. When a deal is finally negotiated between the Democrats and the Republicans the one-time $600 payment is back on the table. It is not enough. It is not nearly enough for some of the people, but Republicans only give money to those who are wealthy. They are still trying to sell us ‘trickle down’ economics. With a few billionaires and millionaires holding more money than 90% of Americans, it is obvious to all that nothing is trickling down at all. 

Over the weekend after Christmas, Trump, from the golf course, refused to sign the relief bill. Now he castigates his troops in Washington for being stingy. Trump has not been a president who spreads economic bounty to the masses. The story in the media is that his golf partner, Lindsey Graham, talked him into asking for one-time payments of $2000. Did Graham have any altruistic motives for his largesse? I doubt it. Graham wants to keep the Senate with a Republican majority. He wants McConnell to remain as majority leader. In order to make this happen those two crooks (inside traders) in Georgia must win on January 5 th. Most likely Graham thinks that a bit of empathy on the part of Trump and the Republicans will help David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler (two very wealthy people) win the race. And, in fact, these two are already backing the $2000 one time relief payments.

The $2000 payments have already passed the House and are awaiting a vote in the Senate. Mitch McConnell may allow this to pass to save his majority but he will hate it. Can voters in Georgia be bought? Will they love McConnell and the stock market king and queen? Please don’t be fooled into thinking that Republican generosity will continue. This is still the Party that will not offer relief to red states because they would also have to offer relief to blue states. Trump hates Andrew Cuomo in particular. 

Perdue and Loeffler are already trying to buy voters in Georgia with this Trump money and it hasn’t even been passed by the Senate. They are telegraphing to McConnell that if he approves the money he will help them win the run-off election and he will get to stay in power. I can’t think of anything that would be worse for we the people. Contribute to the campaigns of Warnock and Ossoff if you can. If you get your $2000 then use it for whatever you need it for. It is not very generous at all. Some nations have given citizens $2000 per month. $600 is an insult but it may be all that is offered. Don’t let them convince you that you need to vote Republican or back Republicans to get the higher payment. They are just ‘playing you’ for political gain. 

They must think we the people don’t have any feelings. They must think our spirits don’t rise when we hear that we might get $2000 rather than $600. My friend told me she couldn’t sleep because she was deciding how she would use that check. Now we are back to the $600 dollar figure again and how do you think that affects the American people? We are not real to these people. We are simply pawns in a political game they are playing. Enjoy your check if you ever get it; don’t play their sick games.

Sad Christmas, Sad Nation

From a Google Image Search – ADDitude

The coronavirus did not kill millions (yet), but it has ravaged the world’s economy and left us trying to decide if there will ever again be normal, or even a new normal. We have all lost our footing it seems, at least for a while.

And 300,000 plus deaths in America is quite enough to make a nation grieve and there will still be more people who have to die. This is even less tolerable with a vaccine that cannot be delivered in time to save them. 

Knowing how our government has abdicated responsibility for fighting the virus properly by ignoring scientists, by ordering workers to work sick, thus increasing the spread and prolonging the reign of the pandemic, is sobering. Better policy would have been to tamp down the virus first, get back to some semblance of normal second.

Watching Congress make its stingy way to deciding that the American people deserve to receive financial relief from their own government and then offering up too little, too late to actually come to the rescue of Americans in these almost unprecedented times has been disheartening. In this blighted Christmas season generosity would have lifted spirits already laid low by being forced to choose between feeding loved ones or paying rents; seeing loved ones with all the accompanying guilt, or missing loved ones to obey health guidelines; and, along the way, finding ultimate proof that Trump broke the Post Office.

Republicans in Congress, and Trump, left the states saddled with managing a national emergency, even competing with each other for scarce resources, and then they refused to bail out the states because some state leaders did not whip Americans to lie to themselves about the seriousness of the virus, and make them go to work and school as ordered. States did try to comply with heartless and unhelpful orders, but many states did so while trying to keep their constituents safe. ‘Those bleeding hearts,’ said the GOP derisively.

So death, depression, grief, poverty stalk the land while rich pols get the first vaccine shots, ostensibly to prove how safe they are, but mainly because they can.

Of course there has been concern, caring, generosity, innovation, support and hope, but very little of it came from the top down. All good flowed from the bottom up. We have certainly seen the folly of becoming a loose collection of autonomous states with an almost authoritarian strength, anything but benign, central government. What a travesty this has all been, a very devastating one at that, all because the wrong man was in the White House and his henchmen and women were in Congress and the judiciary (he thought).

There is an American spirit that can be called upon to defeat enemies, even tiny ones. Our leaders could not inspire that spirit because they are broken people who cannot comprehend the power of unity. They can only divide us and our divisions make our griefs even harder to bear. We cannot take pride in Americans who refused to do the necessary; who in the name of liberty trampled all over the best practices of liberty. 

Americans were just beginning their ‘mea culpas,’ to come down from the heights of our hubris. Can a nation that has fallen so low rise from the ashes? We elected a new ticket of leaders which might give us a chance. However, we didn’t back them up with a Congress to speed them on their way. 

Ironic that our greatest humiliation came from a man who said ‘America First’. What he should have said is ‘Americans First.’

Where will we be when this pandemic is cut down to a size we can live with? That depends entirely on ‘we the people’ and the prognosis is not good.

Greatest Challenge

Blue Marble – The Atlantic

I get sad when I think about America as we enter the religious holidays in 2020. I feel worried about our blighted, divided, well-loved, occasionally despised, and currently chaotic nation. Are we having a mid-life crisis, or will we turn into something other than what we have been for the last 244 years? This is not the first time America has been faced with a killer pandemic. Many of our parents or grandparents were alive in the 1918 flu that afflicted the country. Many were alive during the Great Depression, which must have seemed like the end of the world. It was followed by World War II.

For most of boomers lives it seemed as if we would not be faced with the disasters our parents lived through. Not that we didn’t have strife and separation. I doubt there is any nation that ever existed where all the citizens lived in communal bliss and absolute agreement. We are contentious beings who may never escape being of two minds about everything under the sun. We lived through the Vietnam War, which tore the nation in two, and female contraception, also fiercely discordant. Roe v Wade has created a vehement religious divide that may never heal because if the church wins, women will lose a right that offers them a freedom that no other right offers – freedom to choose, freedom to leave an abusive marriage or relationship, freedom to choose when and how many children they will have. 

Compared to what our parents went through these things seemed less traumatic, of shorter duration. When the war ended and the Civil Rights bills including the Voting Rights bill was passed, boomers turned their energies to working and raising families, dealing with AIDS and trying to grope for answers to why we were shrinking away from gay rights and gender issues. However compared to the scope of the Great Depression and two World Wars our problems seemed minor. 

America has been divided since our founders tried to patch together an industrial north and an agricultural south that depended on slave labor. Only a desire to be free of the British king, to be a sovereign nation rather than a colony kept everyone together. This division remained until it caused America to fight a Civil War. This division intensified after the war through resentment and aversion to change. 

The southern way of life, outrageous as it seems to the modern world was already dying, however, it seems that losing it so abruptly in a bitter war apparently was intolerable. The animosity continues to this day. Last night in Washington, DC, American citizens, already in denial about this deadly coronavirus pandemic, also denied that the current President lost his reelection bid. They insist that he should be returned to office despite losing in a free and fair election. They even deny, against all evidence, that the 2020 election was a free and fair election. Four people were stabbed in Washington, DC last night and one person was shot. Will this take the pressure off the steam valve of dissent, or is this just the beginning.

From a Google Image Search – NBC4

This week Bill Gates posed a thought exercise on ‘Linkedin’ and on his website ‘Gates Notes’. He asked people to speculate about how they would spend $20 million dollars so that it would have the greatest effect on reversing climate change. It may seem like I am changing the topic but, if we are talking about modern dilemmas, and issues that divide us, that might have the greatest chance of changing life as we know it, no other issue is as important or as divisive as the matter of what we should do about climate change. These divisions are not only part of the fabric of America; they are part of the global fabric at this moment in time. Is mankind a sort of parasitic race that will kill the planet on which it depends for its existence? How many species have had to move aside as humans changed from a nomadic species to a settled species with farms and cities? 

We are ostensibly fighting about the future makeup of the America nation, politically, religiously, racially, in terms of gender, in morality, all the ways some have defined our nation in the past, and whether America will atrophy and die in order to remain “pure,” however phony that definition of pure might be; or whether America will become its authentic self, will survive and change; accept a new version of itself. It will not be a totally new vision. We always took a certain amount of unwarranted pride in being a ‘melting pot.” Since 9/11 we have been reconsidering and pulling back. We have been closing our doors and those ‘purists’ have been having their day. We want the world’s money, just not the world’s people. We imagine that America will be problem-free if we shut out the rest of the world.

However, in a way climate change may be at the bottom of almost all of our grievous and disordered contemporary state. Switching energy sources is hard, it’s disruptive, it’s economically scary. There is really no way to prove to everyone’s satisfaction that carbon is our biggest problem until it is too late to change, too late to prevent the deluge. What if this pandemic is just a rehearsal for what the planet is in for if we don’t mend our ways? What if this will herald decades of grief and turmoil? How do we get billionaires and millionaires to stop raking in fossil fuel profits and end the race to stockpile the most money on the planet? Is all the anger and fear, the political bubbles, and fringe conspiracies all part of a syndrome that tells us in our guts that life as we are living it is unsustainable? 

What if we are able to put all our negative energies and our big brains towards cooperation in achieving the unimaginable? Wouldn’t we be proud if we learned how to live more lightly on the planet and remove the threats of climate changes so consequential that our lives will turn to misery and eventually extinction? We are so lucky. We have managed to bring every nation into the twenty-first century, for good or ill. We still are surrounded by so much natural beauty. We have become, for the most part, a well-educated nation; a well-educated world. We know every corner of our world and have now begun to stretch out to the planets. All we have to do is quit our carbon addiction. All we have to do is clean up our oceans. All we have to do is find new ways to farm and preserve whatever wilderness is left. All we have to do is stop fighting each other, face the future, and create it anew. Whenever Americans are inspired by a common goal, we become one, and we are unbeatable. We owe it to our children. However, some of you will have to give up Trump. Look where he has brought us. We have been brought very low. Do it. Kick the Donald habit and reimagine the way we live. It will be amazing.


While Bill Gates often talks about climate change the thought experiment mentioned in this article was offered by Azeem Azhar whose podcasts are called Exponential View. I conflated two articles that I read on the same day. Sorry Mr. Azhar.

Republicans Did Their Homework

Photo from a Google Image Search

I’m angry at the Republicans for their concerted campaign to destroy what they feel is the America that liberals made, and replace it with America as they feel it should be, as they believe our forefathers imagined it. If it feels like they are tearing down our legacy of laws and traditions that is because they are. Who could they get that was more suited than Trump to the task of deconstructing America? Republicans are calling their reset ‘originalism,’ ‘federalism’ – names that conjure images of our revolutionary roots and which sound patriotic. ‘Originalism’ is impossible to channel, so, unless you have a time machine, what we have is someone’s interpretation of originalism, most likely originalism as defined by the Federalist Society. George Washington was a Federalist. He fought for a strong central government. The modern Federalist Society says that States Rights have been given to the Federal government and should be returned to the states. They have a Libertarian guarding their views. Libertarians do not favor strong central government. They basically favor a very small central government, the smaller the better.

Republicans have done their homework and that is why we find ourselves subject to their will regardless of who we want to elect. That is why we have a Supreme Court and Federal District Courts stuffed with Conservative judges approved by the Federalist Society. They had help doing their homework. They sat around plenty of meetings with Evangelicals who wanted America to specify that our forefathers expected America to remain a Christian nation, who wanted to teach Creationism in schools, and who wanted Roe v Wade overturned.

Why do we have a crook for a President who gets once-respected government people to say that Presidents have unlimited power? Because Republicans did their homework.

What homework did they do? They created a media propaganda mill, perhaps at first by accident, but later by design, that turned half of Americans into a cult with lockstep opinions, a cult that loves the crook-in-chief, thinks he is one of them, although he clearly isn’t. That is his base of support and it is brainwashed, loyal, and aggressive. Trump didn’t create the right-wing media but he knew how to use it.

Why don’t Republicans care if our entire health care system crashes and burns under the weight of this pandemic? Why do they think that convincing their cult members not to wear masks is owning the libs, when it is really ruining the lives of our health care workers and crashing our hospitals? They want to destroy our healthcare support systems, our Medicaid and Medicare. They want private insurance if you can afford it, and no insurance if you can’t. Have you tried to see your doctor recently? You were probably shifted to telemedicine unless you were seriously ill. Why are Republicans telling their cult that this is no more serious than the flu, and why does their cult believe them? Because they did their homework.

Why is Trump still trying to find a way to overturn the results of the 2020 election? Because Republicans know they are a minority party and they want to hold on to power anyway. Because they not only want America to be a Christian nation, they want white men to control it in perpetuity and on behalf of Capitalism and fossil fuels. They have powerful allies in the Koch web and in the NRA. They did their homework. They all did their homework. They took the pre-clearance section out of the Voting Rights Act and they began suppressing the vote all over America, in small ways, ways that could only be challenged in courts, courts which often upheld the least egregious voter suppression activities because the courts they fought in had Conservative judges. 

The Supreme Court turned a case about a movie and Hillary Clinton into Citizen United v The FEC and allowed unlimited unidentified contributions to campaigns and made corporation people. So, given all this groundwork, it was no great matter for Trump to turn voter suppression into fraudulent voting and make a nontruth into something real. He is trying to use all that voter suppression homework to turn absentee and mail-in voting into a brand new form of voter suppression. It is insulting to the America election system which works very well and is very trustworthy, to broadcast that it is a broken system, because it implies that American voters and our Boards of Election cheat. If Americans can be made to doubt our voting apparatus then  an election no longer has any reality and the President can easily stay in power through obfuscation. But Trump’s machinations might not have worked if Republicans had not done their homework.

Why are we still stuck in obstruction territory with Mitch McConnell still at the head of the Senate? Well, you know what I am going to say. It is because Republicans did their homework. And Democrats kept saying, ‘no, this is not unique – all of this has happened before in American politics.’ Democrats kept normalizing all of this, perhaps because they did not want to blow up our Republic/Democracy. And Dems could always cite historical examples to prove their point. But, none of this was normal if you put all of the pieces together and saw through each individual action to the overall plan. 

Well here we are with a central government run by the GOP ‘fool’ with a love of power for his own sake, and a nation that is sick, desperately ill, exhausted, and demoralized, and a Republican Party that seems to be a powerless pawn of Trump. They do need him. He is the head of the cult, but they also have no reason to reprimand him as the bad boy he is. They did their homework and he was the twisted answer to their twisted equation. The purity tests are endless and noone is allowed to compromise. They still have the Senate, their plan is still on track and that’s why they are callous and unbending, or laughing at liberals like the Joker.

Democrats have not done their homework. Can we catch up on our assignments? Can we save American government, the American economy, the American healthcare system, and the American people against a political party whose plan is to win through deconstruction and disinformation? Is it too late in the game to make America respond to Americans, instead of to a right-wing cabal? The world may not be able to be on pause forever.

If anything happens to keep Joe Biden out of the White House perhaps we can have two governments: the blue government and the red government, with a blue Congress, and a red Congress and taxpayers will pay the government they believe is genuine. Then we can see who gets the best bang for their buck. Remember, at one time Europe had two Popes, one in Avignon and one in Rome. Of course, it was a hot mess.

Here is a link to an article that appeared in The Washington Post on 12/6/2020:

Mask or No Mask

From a Google Image Search – The Conversation

Wear a mask, don’t wear a mask – there are Americans who think this is a personal choice. But what if it’s not? What if wearing a mask is about the future of healthcare in America.

Here is a list of COVID patients hospitalized on Dec. 2, 2020 by state:

Alabama 1,801, Alaska 164, Arizona 2600, Arkansas 1088, California 9365, Colorado 1995, Connecticut 1202, Delaware 273, DC 165, Florida 248, Georgia 2044, Hawaii 54, Idaho 446, Illinois 5764, Iowa 462, Kansas 1196, Kentucky 1768, Louisiana 1288, Maine 138, Maryland 1578, Massachusetts 1259, Michigan 4266, Minnesota 704, Mississippi 1135, Missouri 2651, Montana 478, Nebraska 869, Nevada 1652, New Hampshire 162, New Jersey 3287, New Mexico 940, New York 3924, North Carolina 2039, North Dakota 316, Ohio 5208, Oklahoma 1782, Oregon 620, Pennsylvania 408, South Carolina 911, South Dakota 931,Tennessee 2744, Texas 9109, Utah 584, Vermont 33+, Virginia 1860, Washington 981, West Virginia 622, Wisconsin 1780, Wyoming 234

Those numbers are just current hospitalizations as of Dec. 2 but go to the article and look at the cumulative numbers. That’s 85,128 hospital beds full in America. Every bed requires a team of medical professionals, more if the bed is in the ICU.

*Will our doctors, nurses, and staff be “burned out”? There is not a factory turning out more health professionals unless we get really good robots really soon. It takes time to train healthcare professionals. Would you trade in a flesh and blood nurse or doctor for a virtual presence? Perhaps in addition to, but not instead of. Healthcare workers have been amazing but will they suffer PTSD when this is all over? Will they decide to find a less emotionally draining profession, or even just a job? 

*What will happen to the back-up of patients who couldn’t get hospital treatments they needed, except in extreme emergencies, or perhaps not even then?

*We may have learned more about what hospitals need in terms of PPE, equipment, and disinfecting. Will we continue to stockpile this stuff once a couple of years have passed?

*Many small hospitals were almost ready to close before they temporarily were restored to hectic life. Won’t these smaller hospitals breathe their last when this pandemic is over?

*This government’s accounts of procedures, preparations, an index of equipment and hospital supplies necessary for future pandemics cannot be very complete or helpful. Who will do that new pandemic instruction manual?

*What kind of bills will patients be left with for things government or private health care refuses to cover? How many bankruptcies will result from hopelessly big medical bills?

*Can we think of any meaningful, tangible ways we could reward healthcare workers to thank them and make it worthwhile to stay in the field? Will we make funds available to workers who need help with their mental health? I’m sure I haven’t thought of everything. Feel free to add your thoughts.

*We owe a great debt to so many.

Joe Biden and the Swamp

From a Google Image Search – Middle East Eye

President-elect Joe Biden just announced his picks for his advisors and people are already complaining. They are not happy that he chose known pols, people who were in the Obama government. Americans are moaning about the swamp being recreated. Honey, (sorry, now that I have white hair everyone calls me honey, just returning the favor) we have been to the swamp and these people weren’t there. Anyway, when the Democrats decided to stay at the moderate end of the spectrum clearly we were going to see folks who knew what our government used to look like and could help resurrect it. 

Biden already has a far less friendly Congress than we could have wished for. He cannot really afford to pull people out of either the Senate or the House unless he is sure they are in a safe district. It is also possible that once things are right side up again these people will be able to move left, or Biden can adopt a fluid style that will allow him to plug in the right people as needed. He knows that he must govern as far to the left of moderate as he can because of the pressing concerns about climate change and education, the pandemic and the economy. He also knows that you don’t lock up the bank just when money needs to flow. 

Suddenly everyone is worried about China, and Russia, and Iran and even Israel because of Trump’s interesting and passive-aggressive transactions occurring at this very moment. Isn’t it better to trust a career foreign relations guy than Trump’s ‘burgerific’ gut. Can’t we at least wait until we see if the inauguration goes off without a hitch? Can’t we take a moment and breathe, outdoors in an isolated space, at how far we have come already. We are faced with an existential need to spend money and our own soulful desire to tamp down consumerism, along with empty pockets. Can we give the economy the lift it needs in this quarter? It looks like the economy is in our hands right now, those hands that have been washed raw. Will an artificial act like turning the page on a calendar change our reality? 

This may be our chance to see if the Democrats are just the Republicans Lite, as so many say they are, or if they can pave a path to a future that looks nothing like the last four years. The obstructionism may be still make it too difficult to accomplish very much at all. This is why Georgia is the center of the political universe right now. So, I am willing to shut up about Biden’s cabinet/advisor picks until after those first 100 days at least. In terms of the economy I’m afraid I will not be of much use in rescuing it. I like Capitalism that isn’t rapacious, that doesn’t insist on keeping toxic politicians in office so that money can continue to roll in from fossil fuels to line the pockets of the wealthy. Kamala is certainly a comforting presence. Our new government has so much work to do.

Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow – Book

From a Google Image Search –

Ron Chernow has written biographies of historical figures such as Hamilton, Grant, and now George Washington, in Washington: A Life. Of course there are many biographies of these men, but his biographies are particularly valuable because Chernow has access to such a complete library of Washington papers and letters. Chernow has a talent for making material that could be dense and pedantic interesting and engrossing. He does not keep himself out of his writing. Whatever he concludes about these great men as he studies their documents informs his opinion of who they are and he shares that view with readers. Lucky is the age that has a chief biographer like Ron Chernow, although, of course, he has his critics.

In these days when we are so immersed in the roots of our nation, and whether we should try to be originalists and channel what the founders meant when they wrote our Constitution, in particular, and the Federalist papers which followed, or whether we should deal with the Constitution as we have lived with it and changed it, it seems appropriate to go back and study the roots of our nation. Although this book tells the story of our beginnings it does not necessarily help with our twenty-first century dilemmas regarding the Constitution. We do learn that political parties were not a part of our founders republic but they developed almost as soon as the government first convened under George Washington’s guidance as our first President.

The George Washington that Chernow presents us with is both heroic and human, with all his own flaws, often overshadowed by his assets. He paints a picture of a man with passions that he keep firmly under control. Washington is ambitious but not aggressively so, he is vain and often oversteps his finances to keep up his style. He is a Southerner who keeps slaves although he also professes to hate the practice. He loves owning property and he has a number of farms, or plantations. He has 200 slaves of his own and some as a dower from his wife, Martha. He could downsize his farming operations, which suffer terrible loses from his long absences and from bad soil and bad weather, but he could never imagine changing the lifestyle that he feels offers him privilege and social standing. He’s not comfortable with owning slaves but he cannot see a way to maintain a life without them. He does free them in his will but he cannot free the slaves that belong to Martha. Abolition was already an issue and Washington only scraped by without much pushback because he lead the Revolutionary War and we won it. He became a hero, recognized and celebrated everywhere, which is apparently not as much fun as it sounds. After the war people stopped in at Mount Vernon all the time and he extended hospitality and often feed and provided beds for favored guests. Washington worried constantly about money but he lived like a wealthy man.

Washington lost a lot of income during the eight years of the war. He started the war with rough men who were ragged troops. But he came to feel for his men and they for him. He knew that they suffered without proper uniforms or even proper clothing for the weather, without enough food, in winter shelters they had to build themselves and he often suffered with them, although not to the same extent. The colonies never sent enough money to support the soldiers and they had high expectations of the outcomes. These soldiers eventually became a regimented army. There were both black and white soldiers. Washington took no pay as Commander of the Revolutionary Army. He had to appoint relatives to oversee his farms and he always longed to go home but he felt so strongly about the need to be a free country that he persevered although often criticized as lacking in military strategy. Considering the trials of his army it is a wonder that America happened at all.

After Washington was persuaded to be the first President things were at first productive but soon the split between North and South became apparent. The Northerners were known as the Federalists, led by Hamilton, and the Southerners as the Republicans, led by John Adams, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson. Although Washington was from the South, the programs designed by Hamilton for financing the new nation made sense to Washington even as they alienated the Republicans. The Republicans did not want strong central government because they were frightened that it would become a monarchy. Washington did want strong central government because he worried about fights between the colonies/states. Republicans did not like the idea of a central bank, but Washington feared that the new nation would always be in arrears without it. This did not just amount to squabbles in the legislature. There arose a press that was vehemently opposed to Washington. He served a second term when implored to do so, but it was a rough one.

It will be hard to leave the Father of our Nation and move on as I have spent so much time with him. Usually after I read such a long book I like to choose a few lighter books, some amuse bouche. What will serve as a chaser to Ron Chernow’s Washington: A Life I have not yet decided, but here I have only scratched the surface of the Washington depicted in Chernow’s book. Washington did not help much with the writing of the Constitution but he had clear ideas about how he felt it should be implemented. How different our nation might be now if Thomas Jefferson had been our first president we will never know. Washington set up the practical, everyday working bones of our government with his first Congress and Cabinet and that got the government off to a sound beginning.