Archive for November, 2020

Killing ourselves

Author: admin

As you read this, COVID-19 is killing one American every minute each 24-hours. One death each minute, 24/7.

Now, you may have known that already and didn’t need my reminder. In fact, you may not want to hear another word about COVID-19 and just want to tune out the whole damned thing. Not one more word!

Well, read on. Because I’m going to give you some more words. Words not from me but from Judi Doering, R.N., Woonsocket, South Dakota. An emergency room nurse for whom “tuning out” is impossible.

“I have a night off from the hospital. As I’m on my couch with my dog, I can’t help but think of the Covid patients the last few days. The ones that stick out are those who don’t believe the virus is real. The ones who scream at you for a magic medicine and that Joe Biden is going to ruin the U.S.A.. All while gasping for breath on 100% Vapotherm. They tell you there must be another reason (why) they’re sick. They call you names and ask why you have to wear all that ‘stuff’ because they don’t have COVID because it’s not real. Yes. This really happens. And I can’t stop thinking about it. These people really think this isn’t going to happen to them. And then they stop yelling at you when they get intubated. It’s like a f*****g horror movie that never ends. There’s no credits that roll. You just go back and do it all over again. Which is what I’ll do for the next three nights. But, tonight, it’s me and Cliff and Oreo ice cream. And how ironic I have on my ‘home’ hoodie. The South Dakota I love seems far away right now.”

Judi Doering, R.N., of Woonsocket, South Dakota. Her words.

Unlike you and I, Nurse Deoring can’t stop hearing the words. Night after night after hellish night, she not only hears the words, she lives them. And she lives with the crazy lies from the deathly sick who have bought into a world of other lies spun by politicians. Starting with the President of the United States. And her governor. And the governors on two sides of her beloved South Dakota.

And, if those words, and all the other words shouted from scared, sick patients don’t force her to quit her post for one not directly associated with COVID, she’ll keep hearing them, night after night after unworldly night in her ‘horror movie that never ends’.”

There are no masking requirements in South Dakota. North Dakota. Also Wyoming and Nebraska. Nor are there restrictions on church attendance, gatherings or a night on the town. Social distancing? No. That either.

I discovered something by accident the other day. Lay a map with the outlines of Trump voting states in our struggling country on your desk. Now, lay one the same size over that showing red states with the highest numbers of Coronavirus cases. See anything? If the maps are of the same approximate size, they nearly match up.

And, you’ll note on rereading Nurse Doering’s words, the reference to Joe Biden and how he’s “going to ruin the U.S.A..” Sounds like a Trumper, right?

I’d bet nurses in hospitals in the states named above read Ms. Doering’s words and found them similar to their own experiences. Our “cheerleader-perpetrator-of-lies-and-conspiracies” president has likely had the same effect on others who wind up on a gurney in intensive care wards.

Trump has blood on his hands. The blood of Americans dying even as he was being told in January of the deadly consequences of the virus and he chose to do nothing. Absolutely nothing! And, for months thereafter, while more citizens died, he pooh-poohed the deadly virus as little more than the “common flu.” But, he KNEW! He KNEW!

This month’s national election showed Trump got some 70-million votes. I believe it would be inaccurate to say all who voted for him were truly Trumpers. Many could have not liked Biden – some were probably stuck on the Republican brand – others may have been more influenced by our growing economy and didn’t want anything to change that.

Whatever the case, most of the states he won are at, or near, the top of charts of the deadly COVID numbers. Given the refusal of Trump, or the respective Republican governors in those states, to implement protective procedures, those are the places where we’re killing ourselves the most. With no leadership – or bad leadership – too many citizens are being exposed to the deadly nature of the disease. Some, like the Biden hater, have bought into Trump’s totally dangerous lies and are still in love with the great “orange leader.”

Yes, death rates have slowed when compared with total numbers of virus cases. That would seem to indicate health professionals have developed some effective protocols to deal with many situations. That’s the good news. That’s about the only good news in all this.

Still, Nurse Doering of Woonsocket, South Dakota, and all the other
“Nurse Doerings” in all the other “Woonsocket” ER’s, are still hearing the cries of anguish and fear, being called names and being belittled for the life-saving work they do.

You may not want to hear any more about the virus. But, THEY can’t stop hearing about it. Day after day after day after horrific day.


Author: admin

Not an ordinary word that. Certainly not one you’d usually find in a headline. But, it can perfectly describe your mental state when considering Republicans in the U.S. Senate.

Since the start of the Trump “era,” the men and women of the GOP in that body have been door mats for the demon in the White House. They’ve laid there on the floor while Trump’s walked all over ‘em.

With Mitch McConnell’s able assistance, using the whip hand of his majority numbers, the 53 remaining Republicans have been silent servants to Trump’s “bull-in-the-china-shop” rants and actions over the past four years. To a man. To a woman.

Let’s just consider one of that body: Jim Elroy Risch of Idaho.

I’ve known Risch for more than 50 years. First covered him in the Idaho Legislature in the ‘60’s. Risch has had the reputation of being a tough guy, a political climber, a pusher, a guy who’d run over resistance like a tank on the battlefield. Behind his back – most often – he was called “the little Nazi.” Not quite an apt description of his operating style. But close.

Earlier this month, Risch was re-elected to the U.S. Senate. A new voter-approved contract that was never in doubt He’s been there since 2009. Now, he’s got six more years of assured employment at the federal trough. Given his age- he’d be around 83 six years hence – this trip is likely his “last hurrah.” One can hope.

Risch hasn’t garnered much publicity during his elevated service. Which is sort of odd since he’s been chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for awhile. Previous holder’s of that select office – Frank Church (D-ID) – J. William Fulbright (D-AR) and others – have had more notoriety. But, Risch has laid pretty low.

Which is strange given our bottomless military entanglements in Iraq and Afghanistan. And, given Trump’s blustering and B.S. in foreign affairs by breaking treaties and pulling out of world organizations. You’d think the Senate’s appropriate committee head would have something to say or possibly undertake take some actions either supporting or decrying the President’s blunderbuss ways.

But, no. Not the case. Risch, like his 53 counterparts, has been a willing enabler for just about all things Trump.

Which raises the question in my mind, why? Why have Idaho’s Risch and the others been so subservient? So obsequious? Why haven’t some of them spoken up occasionally when the “Trump train” was leaving the rails on some issue or another?

During the Senate impeachment trial, some Republicans – if not all- knew Trump was guilty of one or more of the six charges. Yet they could muster nary a guilty vote to convict. Not one. Why?

During the past four years, Trump has given practitioners of the GOP brand many reasons to say “no” or to take a political or personal position opposing him. But they haven’t. Why?

I’m sick of hearing members of Congress are “afraid” of Trump. Afraid they’ll be”primaried” or directly threatened by him. Risch, for one, has routinely been characterized as someone with backbone – a stiff spine, someone not afraid of much, politically speaking. But, he’s rolled over to have his tummy scratched just like the rest. Even with the certainty of being re-elected. There he was. On the floor. Tummy up. Why?

It’s certain, there are other Senators known for stiff spines – for not allowing themselves to be rolled over. After all, the Senate is as very exclusive club. The word “Senator” is not taken lightly. With the lengthy history of a life spent in political office – like Risch – members of the Senate know how to “wheel-and-deal.” And to do so even when faced with resistance. Yet Trump walks in and everybody is on the floor, tummy up.

There is, in my mind at least, no real “one-size-fits-all” answer to the question: why. I suspect there are 54 individual responses – responses we’ll never know. Toeing the party line is one thing – being an “easy, cheap date” is quite something else.

There have been times in the last four years I’ve wanted to lean out the window and shout “C’mon, people, put on your big boy pants and do something for the folks that sent ya there. DO SOMETHING!”

Alas, all I’d do is irritate the neighbors.

One way or the other, Trump will be shown the door January 20. A Democrat will take up Oval Office occupancy at noon. After he cleans up the wreckage, there’ll be new legislation sent to the Hill for consideration. Legislation with a different political party name on it. What will be the Republican response? Rollovers? Tummy scratching? No resistance? Risch?

Not hardly. You can bet the farm. Democrats may have the House. They may have the Oval Office. But, those 54 hardy GOP folks will not be in a mood to get along. Progress will be slow in coming. Such progress, as there may eventually be, will be the result of some well-known backroom discussions, some wheeling-and-dealing, lots and lots of negotiations, maybe some Kentucky bourbon and branch water. It’s going to be some tough political slogging.

No tummy’s up then. Not one. Not even Idaho’s Sen. Risch.

So …

Author: admin

O.K. We have a new president. What now?

A long, bruising, nasty campaign. An over-long “birthing” process to name the winner. Now, that winner can walk down the street, knowing nearly every other person he passes voted against him. A terrible feeling, I’d guess. It also sets the stage for a continuance of the animosities we’ve been living with.

I’m not sure we’ve won a lot. Yes, we ended the reign of a corrupt immoral, evil man. He now faces the likelihood of years of legal problems with a very real possibility of prison somewhere along the way. Unlike you or I, his future is not his to control. For the first time in his misbegotten life.

If we’ve “won” anything, it’s that we’ve pulled the nation back from the brink of institutional collapse. No president in our long history has done so much to sow distrust, hate, sorrow and division as the guy about to exit, stage right. The wreckage he leaves behind is a once-proud nation that’s been divided into political and economic communities, each with little seeming regard for the other.

Our new chief executive faces an almost certain future of stalemate, distrust, animosity in a terribly divided Congress. Though he’s known as an achiever, getting disagreeing factions to work together, he faces a Senate Majority Leader who may be the most intransigent politician in modern time.

Given his age, Mitch McConnell’s re-election this month will certainly be his last “hurrah.” So, he settles into his accustomed role with nothing to lose. On the personal side, he’s a multi-millionaire. In his legislative role, his power is reliable and certain. He can push the legislative envelope on all sides without personal or political repercussion. And, I’ll bet he does.

If there is any sunlight in the expected undertaking to rebuild trust and reliance in our nation’s governance, it may boil down to this. The president and his party control two-thirds of the legislative machinery. With that power in his pocket, the new president, known for his “working-across-the-aisle” abilities, may have to deal only with the Senate Majority Leader. If they can generate a relationship of comity, of trust, of acknowledgment of their long histories in politics, it may be possible to achieve a balance of power.

Such an understanding is absolutely necessary if there’s to be achievement in the next four years. Without it, we face stalemate, division, continuing mistrust and a “no man’s land” where nothing is done, charges and counter-charges being the norm and the needs of the people go unmet.

A relationship of trust. between just those two men, may make possible a regeneration of confidence and solidarity this nation so badly needs. We’ll see.

And our new vice president? What of her? What’s to be her role?

This new president comes to the office with impeccable credentials in foreign relations, which is, after all, the primary role of any president. Because his predecessor had no such skills, there’s a lot of building and fence-mending to be done with other nations. The new guy has unimpeachable personal knowledge of nearly all of his counterparts and can call many of them by their first names. This is his “long suit.”

So, it would seem the primary job description for the new lady down the hall would largely encompass legislative relations. She, too, knows the majority leader very well. She, too, is something of a peacemaker. She, too, has the political chops and a record of being a negotiator, albeit a tough one who has the necessary teeth to get a job done.

If she, also, can develop a relationship of trust and respect with the majority leader, provide the necessary give-and-take required of successful politicians, the chances of stalemate and division are much, much less. Her importance in that role can not be overstated.

While the nation is deeply divided, as shown in the election, there are many who want healing – want to end disagreement and discord. We have, among us, peacemakers. People of all stripes who want cohesion and peace. Blessed is their tribe and may their numbers increase.

Significant change may not be ours in the short term. Much work has to be done to clear away the wreckage to restore normalcy.

But, a year or so down the road, when naysayers see a Democrat in the White House doesn’t automatically mean vast socialism, doesn’t mean lawlessness or pose challenges to individual rights, I’d guess things will settle down a bit.

Many folks who voted for the loser did so out of fright, frustration and believing a faithless, totally dishonest political derelict. His presence – his scent – must be overcome. Quickly.

A lie – often a single lie – can destroy a previously trusting relationship. It will take some time to rebuild faith. Time to reach out. Time to welcome. Time to bring us together.

Some will refuse to participate – to rejoin – to reunite. They will continue the old ways of listening to false prophets – following false paths – stoking their anger. They’ll always be there.

But, for the rest of us, there is reason to hope again – to belong again – to enlarge the community of the willing. And to trust.

A sign of hostility

Author: admin

Walking the dog a few days ago, I came upon what we here in the desert euphemistically call a “yard” (yards here are crushed rock – not grass) with three Trump signs.

Not an unusual sighting hereabouts – those Trump signs. Except one was very different from the other two which were the standard versions. The unusual sign said “MAKE CHRISTIANITY GREAT AGAIN – VOTE FOR DONALD TRUMP.” A garland of flowers was woven – photographically – across the top.

“Make Christianity Great Again!” I damned near lost my breakfast! For the first time in my long life, I was overcome with a heated desire to grab that sign and rip it to pieces. Even the dog – Skeezix – could feel my sudden anger.

Donald Trump is going to “make Christianity great again?’ Trump? The guy who had dozens of peaceful protesters tear gassed and shoved off public streets so he could stand in front of a church he doesn’t attend, to hold up a Bible (backwards) so he could have a photo op? That serial-lying, mean-spirited, grossly incompetent and incredibly dangerous human being? The guy who pays porn stars thousands of dollars to keep quiet about his sexual activities. Him?

No, my foolhardy and incredibly ignorant neighbor! No, not him. Not him ever! Trying to link that political disaster of a presidential aberration to anything Christ-like is absolutely impossible. That sign says more about your out-of-touch political knowledge and your lack of understanding of the Christian way of life than trying to show your neighbors your political presidential preference.

Trump has put this nation through dozens and dozens of political indignities and lowered standards in nearly everything he’s touched. Christian?

New evidence of how low Trump will go – and how unlike Christ the man is – came several days ago when an April, 2020, conversation between ace reporter Bob Woodward and Trump’s “in-over-his-head” son-in-law, the young Jared Kushner came to light.

You don’t have to listen to the entire thing. You need only 30 seconds or so to hear Kushner’s – and Trump’s – depravity. Their plan – when our COVID-19 deaths at the time stood around 40,000 souls – was to make a large government push to open everything back up. Right now! Schools, businesses, manufacturing, airlines, etc. Trump would be the self-proclaimed economic booster. “Open everything up!” “Things will be O.K..” But, if – if – coronavirus cases continued to mount, blame governors! Blame the governors!

That’s about the most devious, heinous political thinking I’ve ever heard. And I’ve been around a lot of politicians and political conversations for a long, long time.

Imagine. To please his backers – his political “friends” – he planned to reopen a then-shuttered economy so those folks could profit – no matter how many Americans died – then blame the nation’s governors for “acting too soon!”

Over the last several years, I’ve not hidden my feelings about Trump. From the git-go, he’s been a political accident, receiving fewer popular votes but winning several key electoral college states. So, the “winner” became the “loser” while the “loser” became the “winner.”

From day one, he’s exhibited how lacking he is in leadership qualities, empathy, compassion, knowledge of government, ignorance of the working side of the presidency, how to conduct himself as leader of the world’s most powerful nation.

His walk-away from political disasters has mirrored his personal conduct as a private businessman. If you lose, disassociate yourself from the loss, declare you “won” and go on to some other doomed venture. Except, in government – especially at the top of government – it doesn’t work that way.

The longer he’s been in office, the more his dangerous qualities are displayed. Un-friending our historic world partners, our treaties and other agreements with them, while cozying up to some of the world’s worst dictators. Openly admiring Vladimir Putin and all things Russian while being told by his own security professionals of the extreme dangers represented by Putin.

Now that we’ve had four years of his version of the presidency, we’ve come to know him. Really know him. His complete ignorance of business and ethics – long-known to people who’ve had dealings with him over many years – are now known by other world leaders.

And, by us. The governed. His ignorance of the office he holds, his “bull-in-the-china-shop” attitude about relationships and world dealings, his lack of understanding the Constitutional roles of the presidency versus the other two branches of government, the inability to relate to citizens of this country – all this and more has marked his tenure.

I guess, given the knowledge of Trump’s publically-known failings, the danger he poses for all Americans, his abuses of power and seeming lack of common values, combined to set me off when it came to someone publically believing he could have a positive affect in matters of Christianity. And, I suspect that sign would bring a lot of laughs in the Vatican. Trump to” make Christianity great again?”

Now that I’ve had a few hours to calm down, the anger is less. But, what’s left of it is directed at me for forgetting my own Christian values and the tolerance we’re expected to have for others. “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Put THAT on a sign in your gravel yard. In my yard.