Archive for April, 2020

Damned fools

Author: admin

Things are supposed to be much better now, here in our adjoining desert retirement communities of 90,000 seniors.

Oh, we’ve had some Covid-19 illnesses and deaths. Several dozen, according to health department maps by zip codes. Still, some fanatic golfers have forced a reopening of our golf courses so there’ll be some additional fatalities. But, at least they’ll get infected in some beautiful, well-groomed surroundings..

With things loosening up, I decided to get a haircut. Of course, the barber had to stand six feet away. Did a lousy job. Barb needed a nail workover. Of course, the tech had to sit six feet away so she still has that damned hangnail. Took pup Skeezix in for a bath and the groomer told us she had to be at least six feet away while working. Funny how he still has “that smell.”

Craziness? Yes. But, not as crazy as the ending of rightfully enforced isolation conditions brought on by that damned virus. Governors – mostly Republican governors at this point – are ending bans on public assembly and allowing folks to go back to “normal” – whatever “normal” is or was.

This totally political decision – health care professionals be damned – reminds me of my basic training in USAF many, many years ago.

Our flight of “slick sleeves” was given rifles and told to crawl 50-yards. Fifty yards under barbed wire and live fire! Live fire of hundreds of real bullets about six inches above our heads. Anyone who didn’t crawl like snakes and looked up to see what was happening was considered to have “flunked the course.” I remember ending that 50-yards with dirt in my mouth.

That’s how I see these screaming idiots – the flu klux klan, if you will – demanding to be allowed to get haircuts, nails trimmed and visits to the pet store. Just like before. These damned fools are going to reverse “the curve” and reignite the spread of this damned disease!

One of the best descriptions of these cretins came via Facebook. “Odd how these people, who’ve been bragging about their stored provisions and multiple armaments to defend against some future calamity, are now faced with a deadly calamity and demanding to walk straight into it.”

They’ve cowed governors – mostly in the South – waving their Trump signs, Confederate flags, AK-47s and protest signs demanding their “freedoms.” Nothing spooks a politician faster than to see his supporters – read voters – “rioting” in the streets. Heartburn doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling in a political heart.

And, all of this madness is being encouraged by the worst president in our long history of presidents. Trump – turning his back on scientists and health professionals – has given tacit approval, further empowering this deadly activity.

It’s always amazed me how a minority – even a minority of one – can have a direct affect on the lives of the majority. Some demented soul tries to demolish a commercial aircraft using his shoes and, for years, millions of us have been forced to take off our shoes if we want to fly somewhere. A mental defective charges into a church or a synagogue or cathedral and opens fire with an assault rifle. So, now, many churches have either armed security or some members carrying concealed.

Today, we have a new minority of loud mouths and fools, forcing the majority to live along side them in our communities with renewed chances some in that innocent majority will become infected. Or die. Because of a minority.

These deranged voices, supported by cowardly politicians, are opening all of us up to new dangers. Regardless of the political cowardice, the majority of us will continue our “social distancing” and stay separated from our normal activities. Because of their abandonment of common sense and professional warnings, we in the majority will have to occasionally carefully venture out for supplies, faces masked and sanitary dispensers close at hand.

I’ve known, as I got to senior status, I’d have to expect change and accept it. But, change? CHANGE? Who the Hell could be prepared for the changes we’ve had to endure for the last three-plus years? We’ve had to live with massive changes – read political ignorance – cowardice, institutional destruction, presidential scams, politically created racial biases, outright presidential depravity. Who, in their best years, could have prepared for such “change?”

Now, a motley collection of uninformed, mindless fools, disregarding the best information from health professionals, is forcing more change. Change that’s life-threatening. Change that’s deadly. And, an entire country will be forced to live with our invisible killer for a much longer time. Even without this craziness and cowardice, we’ve been warned to expect a higher levels of Covid-19 cases for the balance of the year!

Well, here in the petri dish of some 90,000 oldsters, most of us will continue our cloistered existence until advised by people, who know what the hell they’re talking about, give us the “all clear.” Minus, of course, a few golfers.


Author: admin

Well, we’ve been cloistered for a couple of weeks now. Of course, being retired for about 20 years has been good preparation.

Barb, Clementine (cat), Skeezix (dog) and I going about our various rituals with minimal disagreements. A trip or two to the grocery store and a prescription now and then. Practicing careful “distancing,” masking and all that. Barb made masks using elastic from some old fitted sheets. They’re on the dashboard in the car for ready use.

Our Easter Sunday church services were online. Pastor did a good job, even walking his wired-in “congregation” through communion. Since bread and wine were not immediately available at that time of the morning, Barb and I substituted coffee and cinnamon rolls. Not exactly “bread and wine” for the elements but close.

Lots of little businesses still operating. Noted a CEO of chain stores said “We are down to the hair color phase of hoarding.”

Speaking of hoarding, I overheard the manager of a local grocery outlet tell a customer a resupply truck was due late Saturday night and there should be some toilet paper onboard. I got to the store at seven Sunday morning. Of the 48 six-packs offloaded, there were only four packs left when I picked one up. One per customer.

While much has been said offhandedly about TP hoarding, some city sewer plants are now being clogged up by things in the lines other than TP. Seems some folks have already run out.

On our little, infrequent trips for necessities, one thing keeps bothering me. With a “Swiss cheese” statewide gubernatorial closure order for all but “essential” businesses, I see an awful lot of stores open for business that don’t seem “essential.”

A block from our house, a golf cart shop remains open. Now, golf carts in our large retirement community are considered second “cars” and run about our streets with abandon. Still, continued sales of such doesn’t seem “essential.”

But, effective this week, our seven public, beautifully groomed golf courses are closed “till further notice.” You can hear the screams of outrage clear to Las Vegas! Snowbirds, who live for winter golf, are supremely pissed. Many are heading “back home” early to Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and the Dakota’s. Patio’s bare, blinds down, everything turned off.

Pet stores still open. Selling nothing considered “essential” except animal food – which is essential – but can be bought at grocery stores.

The problem with all these “stay-at-home” orders is there’s no enforcement in too many cases. We’ve noticed a good number of small businesses selling this-and-that still peddling their wares. What police departments have the manpower or the time to nail each violator? Oh, there was one story out of California about the arrest of six guys who had to go from one town to the other for some late night booze restocking. Cops nailed ’em. But, that’s about it.

Now, Trump has formed an “advisory committee” to study all the facts and “advise” him when it’s time to reopen the country and how. Given the name of the committee you just know what the “recommendation” will be. Strong on abortion but willing to kill possibly thousands more of us to get business operating again.

Trump has been strongly advised to “stay-off-the-stage” during those daily COVID-19 updates. He’s managed to ignore that wise advice. But, it’s interesting to see various health professionals openly disagree with our “leader.” Dr. Fauci, more than once, has followed Trump to the lectern with statements of fact 180-degrees from our President. Dr. Birks also has openly expressed factual data refuting Trump’s statements made only minutes before.

Interesting bit of non-logic from Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson on one of the Sunday talk shows. Claimed his refusal to issue a stay-at-home edict was proving “successful.” Said his state has a small population and “social distancing just isn’t necessary.”

Well, Sir, we’ve got a long way to go before we’re nationally out-of-the-woods. Health professionals who know are talking about a possible “second wave” of COVID-19 and the likely need to extend our lock-down environments. Some of us are curious to know how many of your constituents have to die before you face the hard reality that “social distancing” is saving a lot of lives in other states.

For all of us, our current environment is something we’ve never known. Hundreds of thousands of us stricken by an invisible virus. Terrible death numbers each day. We’re urged to stock up and stay at home. Told to avoid others because they – or we – might be carriers of disease. Told by reputable medical professionals that today’s restricted status quo may last until 2021.

When all this ends – and it will – we will not be the same. Not even the same as we were three months ago. Our entire economy will need to be restructured. We may come to our senses and finally decide health care for all is a right of citizenship and not for just a few who can afford insurance. Our school systems will be forced to undergo changes. How we compensate those who are unemployed or who fall through the cracks because they aren’t eligible will have to be re-examined.

Health care providers and insurers will have to change how they do business and figure out how to include everyone with at least minimal qualification for pandemic and other health catastrophes.

As we sit in our isolation, we need to consider what we’ll face when this pandemic is over. Consider what conditions will be and how we’ll react to that new environment.

Missing in (re)action

Author: admin

Thomas Modly did not resign his post as Acting Under Secretary of the Navy. He was fired!

I was not present. I have no more information than most folks. But, I’ve had enough time in the military and the media to know a bit about comings and goings of civilian appointees and military thinking.

Modly is the cretin who used a Navy jet to fly halfway around the world. Navy spokesman said Modly’s aircraft was a Gulfstream which costs $6,946 per hour to operate. ($6,946 x 35 hours flight time equals $243,110). Nearly a quarter-million dollars.

Modly boarded the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Roosevelt in Guam, accessed the ship’s public address system and told the crew of more than 4,000 sailors their captain was “too naive and stupid” to command such a ship and fired that captain. Then, he flew halfway around the world again.

Just 24-hours later, former Acting Under Secretary of the Navy Modly was sitting on the curb outside the Pentagon with his personal possessions scattered about.

The current Secretary of Defense is Mike Esper, who previously was a defense contractor and congressional lobbyist. Under him, as advisors, are the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The makeup of the Joint Chiefs includes Army, USAF, National Guard Bureau, Commandant of the Marine Corps and Chief of Naval Operations.

That last seat is currently filled by Admiral Michael Gilday, a man of considerable years of honorable naval service. A man devoted to the chain of command from his office down to the lowest “swabby.” His record shows he’s the kind of guy you’d want in a very tough and demanding job.

My guess is you wouldn’t have wanted to have been in the same office with the admiral last week when he was told of Modly’s speech-making to hear his reaction.

Every commanding officer lives a career believing in his/her gut the most important job is concern for – and protection of – the troops. That’s a fundamental fact of command. Makes no difference the branch of service.

The chain of command starts with the President, then to the Secretary of Defense, then directly to field combatant commands. The Joint Chiefs are advisory but their chain of command flows from them to commanders within each branch, down to troops in the field.

Chain of command is the life blood of the military. It’s been so since before the Roman Legions.

But, there’s also a political side.

Guys like Esper and Modly come and go regularly. While members of the Joint Chiefs usually serve four-year terms, the consistency of military command outlives any presidential appointee. So, the Chiefs retain a lot of power within the Pentagon. There’s always been a considerable effort made to keep a balance between the transitions of civilians and the permanence of the military side. So, a wise Defense Secretary consults with the Chiefs regularly.

Based largely on published reaction by the crew of the Roosevelt and immediate reactions by the Chiefs, what Modly did was regarded as a threat to operations of a key naval ship. A ship already battling cases of Covid-19 as it sat in a distant port. Without a captain who had a record of accomplished command. Civilian Modly, acting in bone headed-ignorance, made a bad situation much worse.

What Captain Brett Crozier did was try to get the attention of the Acting Naval Secretary and the Joint Chiefs through the chain of command. There were active cases of Covid-19 aboard the Roosevelt and, if left unchecked, other crew members would be stricken and the Roosevelt would be unable to perform its mission. A threat to our national security and a distinct possibility in Crozier’s view.

When action wasn’t forthcoming, Crozier put his concerns in a letter to the higher-ups. Somehow, a copy of that letter was leaked. Publication of the letter, in former Acting Secretary Modly’s civilian mind, caused the dunderhead reaction that resulted in his quick exit.

Admittedly, much of this account is speculation. But, with nearly a decade of military experience, some dealing with generals and admirals, some years spent in the political environs of Washington D.C. and, with a significant amount of published military detail, the scenario of Modly’s exit from his post likely happened as written.

When an official holding a high political appointment is said to have “resigned” during such a debacle, it’s often an attempt to cover up the fact that the axe fell quickly on the offender.

Trump has used “acting” appointments to fill many high-level government jobs. He’s attempting to avoid a required congressional approval process while creating a cadre of mostly unqualified office holders who owe their continued employment to him. It’s a violation of laws and oversight which, so far, a Republican majority in the U.S. Senate has allowed to continue.

As you cast your vote seven months from now, keep the story of Captain Crozier in mind. His excellent naval career was ended by an idiotic presidential appointee who was placed in a position of great responsibility by someone who has also been proven to be supremely unqualified for great responsibility.

Fearful but hopeful

Author: admin

Well, here we are. Buttoned up. As the military says “confined to quarters.” Venturing out only to take the garbage, pull a few weeds and walk the dog. Essential activities.

At the moment, half-a-dozen states – nearly all red – have issued no such orders. Citizens are still congregating. Still churching. Still going to the movies. Still socializing. Closely. One governor says he will never issue orders of “confinement.” So, there!

Our current state of temporary residence – Arizona – for purposes of politicking, has turned purple and may go slightly blue in November. But, we do have a Republican governor at the moment. Ducey, by name. Same as that guy on Faux Nues.

Our GOP Governor Ducey came late to the necessity of “ordering” people to stay home. After posturing and dragging his feet, he finally issued a gubernatorial proclamation the other day, calling it “holistic protection.” We Arizonans should “shelter in place.” But, the “order” is so weasel-worded, with guidelines akin to chalk painting, that we can still wander around pretty much at our pleasure. If we dare.

Of course, he stipulated “essential services” should remain open. So, quick lube shops, candy stores and bicycle repair operations are still in full swing. “Essential” to someone, I guess. And, he had to add continuing “Constitutionally protected activities” as he listed them. Speech, church, right to assemble, etc.. Not much in the way of real restrictions. Most businesses still open. Who’s going to enforce these “non-essential” decrees?

Funny thing about the red state governors who haven’t acted to protect the populace, like our resident Republican “head-of-state.” Looking at the map, they’re pretty much up the Midwest. Lots of rural territory. Florida finally acted when their “conservative” governor said he believed his friend Trump’s recent “come-to-Jesus” conversion about COVID-19 was real. But…Floridians have an “exemption” to go to church!

Idaho’s Governor Little must have looked at that map, too. A rather blue Boise with lots of red out there including Driggs, Mud Lake, Marsing, Hollister, Council, Bliss, Gooding, Post Falls, Hayden, Bonners Ferry, Buhl, et al. Trusty Republican voting areas. Not a lot of enforcement of state-ordered restrictions out there.

And so it’s been with many of the somewhat rural states with no clamp downs on the public. Seems those states with single, major, mostly blue large cities either don’t have gubernatorial restrictions or, if they do, there’s lots of wiggle room. You don’t want to restrict – read anger – those rural Republican voters.

Our White House Liar-In-Chief also came late to the realization that what’s happening is truly a deadly pandemic killing thousands of folk. I’m guessing Dr. Fauci, Dr. Brix, and a few other highly qualified health professionals, pinned Trump to the Oval Office rug and force-fed him graphs, charts and detailed descriptions of the invisible terror we’re facing. Thus, the abrupt about-face in his recent public comments.

As a skeptic of Trump’s daily TV appearances, it’s occurred to me these have replaced his coast- to-coast aerial wanderings to hold political rallies. All that chatter about “15 people sick” and “we’ll be out of this by the end of the month” business. Seemed to me he was trying to keep his base “fed.”

But, now, even he’s a believer. Much more somber appearances. I’m still not comfortable with the projection that if “only 100,000-240,000 Americans die” it’ll be a “victory.”

We, here in the West, behind the coastal states, are being told the COVID-19 wave will begin to be felt in about 10 days with the heaviest blow to hit toward the end of the month. We know of a few cases locally but I’d guess there are more than “a few.”

Local hospitals have locked doors. Lots of signs posted directing people someplace else. Barb badly needs knee surgery but her surgeon told her, pain or no pain, that’s “elective” and surgical suites are closed to him until all this corona virus business is over. Whenever that may be.

So, we wait. Sheltered in place. Cupboards and freezers packed with groceries. Plenty of dog and cat food for the next 90 days or so. Shelves for toilet paper and paper towels barren in the stores. Can’t find a can of baking powder or baking soda anywhere. Remember, we seniors know how to bake. Younger generations stocking up on frozen foods and package goods. So, while being quarantined, we oldsters will enjoy cakes and cookies while the kids have tater tots.

There’s no question the federal government has failed us in lack of leadership and extremely poor preparedness. Many governors – bless their hearts – have tried to use state resources to carry the load. Even as they have to compete against each other in the open markets for necessary supplies and equipment, there’s a spirit of cooperation in most areas.

Despite the claims of politicians, capitalism has failed in many ways. Because of that, when we emerge on the other side of this virus terrorism, there’ll be many changes in our systems. In just one very important case, there’ll likely be efforts to implement a government program to provide health care for everyone. Call it “Medicare for all” or “Universal Medicaid.” Whatever. We’re learning every day just how important it is to make proper health care coverage a right rather than a privilege while tying it to employment.

For now, most of us are buttoned up, fearful for the near future, wondering if we’ll be victims of this plague or if we’ll live to see more days. Fearful but hopeful.