Public health goes partisan

Did you ever think an issue concerning public health would cross into the realm of partisan politics?

If you answered “no,” then I venture to presume you’re in good company. Neither did I, nor I am reckoning did many of the nation’s public health or leading political figures.

But … here we are.

Governors around the country are pulling back on their reopening measures in the wake of the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in their states. They have empowered local officials to enact stricter regulations for citizens to follow.

The reaction from many Americans has been jaw-dropping. I see news reports of residents yammering about losing their rights as citizens, how the government has become tyrannical in their mandates, orders and edicts.

One dipsh** in Florida said that he has the right to act using his own “intelligence” in response to the pandemic. Oh, really? That means he is “intelligent” enough to infect his neighbors, his family members and even total strangers if he decides against wearing a mask or refuses to maintain social distancing.

The term “public health” by definition means we are dealing with matters that involve everyone. The public. Strangers. Our neighbors.

We are in the midst of a public health crisis. When a governor issues an order to wear a mask, he or she is doing so to mitigate the damage being done by the disease the nation is fighting to control and to eliminate.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has joined the growing chorus of governors to issue stricter rules and regulations. He has been getting beaten up over the tardiness of his order. I won’t go there, except to say I am glad he has awakened to the crisis and has broken away from the policies being touted by other Republican politicians, starting with Donald Trump. 

Public health requires everyone to climb aboard the same wagon, or so one would have presumed. Then again, we live in the most polarized moment in recent memory. If only we could set aside our partisan differences in pursuit of a sound public health policy.

Trump concocting a weird plan to stay in office?

I used to say of a man known in the Texas Panhandle as one of the region’s weirdest characters — the late Stanley Marsh 3 — that there was nothing beyond the realm of possibility where it concerned Stanley, that he was capable of doing practically anything.

I am left these days to think of Donald Trump in much the same way, that there is not a single thing beyond his quest to hold onto power, even if he were to lose an election.

A former Colorado U.S. senator has posited a notion that Trump might be concocting a stay-in-office plan even if he loses the election this November to Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Former Sen. Tim Wirth thinks Trump well might declare the election a fraud, rigged, fixed. That China interfered in order to defeat him. Thus, he would hold up the transition to a President-elect Biden. He could send the case to the Supreme Court. He would stall the election until Dec. 14, when the Electoral College would vote on who takes the oath of office in January 2021.

Were the court to toss out the election results, the matter would go to the House of Representatives, which then could — under the Constitution’s rules governing such a selection process — actually keep Trump in office for another four years.

Scary, yes? Damn right it is! It’s also not beyond the realm of the possible, given Trump’s addiction to power.

Oh, how I hope none of that takes place. However, with this narcissistic megalomaniac, anything is possible.

Wishing it away won’t do the job

I’ll be brief, Mr. President.

I just want to remind you — as if you should even need reminding — that wishing the COVID-19 pandemic will disappear won’t make it happen.

Nothing will make the pandemic vanish all by itself. We need presidential leadership that sends consistent messages to the people in the land. We need to develop a vaccine. We need to ensure that we test Americans who worry about catching the killer virus.

We need a whole lot more from you than we’re getting.

Most of all we need to hear a whole lot less of the mindless, brainless happy talk that foments the Big Lie about what a fantastic job your administration is doing.

Enough of the bullsh**, Mr. President!

Putin isn’t on the ballot, however…

Vladimir Putin just won’t go away.

The Russian president launched a campaign in 2016 — at the invitation of Donald Trump — to interfere in our presidential election. His aim was to disrupt our political discourse, to sow seeds of suspicion. He succeeded infamously.

Donald Trump benefitted from the Russian interference. The U.S. president hasn’t yet been willing to acknowledge the Russian dictator’s role in that political heist.

Now he’s at it again. He is injecting himself into the 2020 election, but in ways none of us saw coming.

We have these reports of Russians placing bounties on the lives of Americans fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Trump is dismissing the media reporting. He calls it a hoax. He is angry at the reporting, but is silent about the subject of that reporting.

There he is, Vladimir Putin is injecting himself into the American political process. He isn’t on the ballot, but his presence on our political landscape seems to all but guarantee that part of our voters’ calculation on for whom we cast our ballots will include Vladimir Putin.

To be clear, my mind is made up. Still, Putin’s presence in our political discourse is maddening. He has wormed and wiggled his way into our processes. Putin can declare “mission accomplished” from his 2016 electoral interference. It’s not enough, though, for Putin merely to win that first round.

He is going to interfere yet again this year, along perhaps with China or Ukraine or any other nation that has an axe to grind with the U.S. political system.

To be clear, it is confusing in the extreme for me to grasp how the Russian bounty story is going to benefit Donald Trump. To that end, Putin’s continuing presence in our political process sends a seriously mixed message.

Still, the Russian brute is there. He is part of our political discussion.

If only he would just disappear. Forever.

Lt. Gov. Patrick speaks to our worst instincts

Be advised, the next few words contains a term I dislike using without some form of disguise, but here goes: Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick really pisses me off!

Indeed, he’s been doing it ever since he got elected to the state’s second-highest public office.

Now he says that the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, “doesn’t know what he’s talking about” when he criticizes the state response to the coronavirus pandemic.

He recently said old folks wouldn’t mind dying if it means the Texas economy could get restarted in the wake of the pandemic’s impact on economic matters.

Patrick sought to push that ghastly bathroom bill through the 2017 Texas Legislature, the bill that would require folks to use public restrooms in accordance with the gender noted on their birth certificate; the idea was to discriminate openly against transgender Americans.

He has punished a state senator, who happens to be a friend of mine, who made a snarky remark about a Patrick aide. Thus, he stripped Kel Seliger, an Amarillo Republican, of influence by removing him from the chairmanship of key Senate education and finance committees.

I cannot stand that this clown serves in such a place of power in Texas. As Ross Ramsey writes in the Texas Tribune: But a lieutenant governor is a constitutional amphibian, a rare creature of both the legislative and executive branches of government. He’s the governor when the governor is out of the state. And he’s one of two or three state leaders with ready access to the bully pulpit — the ability to get in front of the public on short notice and try to steer opinion.

It seems to me that every time he steps into that “bully pulpit,” he says things that (a) are patently offensive and (b) speak to Texans’ base and crass instincts.

This clown needs to go … somewhere far away.

Listen, the governor’s order is lawful and sensible

I had an up-close view of an exchange today between a woman who was shopping at our local supermarket in Princeton and a young man who was filling the shelves with goods to be sold.

The woman doesn’t like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s order for everyone to wear masks while out in public. She thinks it’s an overreach. She believes Abbott is a tyrant for ordering us to wear masks that, in his view, saves our lives and, more to the point, prevents exposure of others to the COVID-19 virus that’s been in all the papers of late.

She said something about putting a message on the outside of her mask that in effect tells the governor to go straight to hell. 

I stood by waiting for her to finish her rant, as she was standing in front of something I wanted to put in my shopping cart. She shot me a glance a time or two, as if looking for moral support to the argument she was trying to make to the supermarket vendor. I didn’t provide it. Maybe she looked in my eyes and noticed I wasn’t buying the bullsh** she was peddling.

I so wanted to tell her: Ma’am, if you’re going to resist wearing the mask, then you can just go ahead and drive your car without buckling your seat belt and tell me how it goes when the cop pulls you over to write a citation for breaking the law. 

I didn’t go there. I am not a confrontational sort of guy. So I let her vent and rant and carry on as if Gov. Abbott had just ordered her to sacrifice one of her children.

I realize there are others who share this idiot’s view. That’s their call. Just stay the hell away from me and my family if you’re going to defy a lawful executive order.

Biden vows to read PDBs … hey, it’s a start!

A reporter asked Joseph Biden how he would respond to reports that Russians had placed bounties on the heads of U.S. service personnel.

The former vice president’s response? He said he would “read the briefing material” that comes to his desk in the Oval Office.

That’s where it starts and ends. Donald Trump has denied knowing about the bounty intelligence matter. How so? He famously told us he doesn’t need to read the “daily presidential briefs” that intelligence officials compile for him each day. They’re boring and repetitive, he said … as I’m sure you remember.

Well, he should’ve looked at the Feb. 27 material that ended up on his desk, as it contained information about the bounty that Russian goons had placed on our soldiers’ lives.

Therein lies what looks like one of the many fundamental failings of the current president. It gives me hope that the next president — and I want it to be Joe Biden — will follow through and read the material that lands on the desk where the proverbial buck historically has stopped.

I also hope the presumptive Democratic nominee for POTUS — were he to learn of such an atrocity — would call the offending hostile power immediately to read the head of state the riot act and to threaten him or her with swift and severe punishment.

That quite clearly didn’t happen in this instance. It must never be allowed to continue.

Immigrants, yes; also American patriots

The picture attached to this blog post is of three of my grandparents.

The woman on the left is my father’s mother, Katina; the gentleman is my mother’s father, George; the other woman is Mom’s mother, Diamondoula. I don’t know who snapped this photo; perhaps it was Dad’s father, John.

What do they have in common? For starters, they were immigrants. They came to this country from southeastern Europe. Dad’s parents came from southern Greece, while Mom’s parents came here from Turkey. They all were Greeks and proud of their heritage.

They had something else in common. They all loved the United States of America.

I want to honor them today to remind you about an immutable fact of this country: The U.S. of A. was built by immigrants. Whether they came her voluntarily, as my grandparents did, or were rounded up and transported here aboard slave ships, they all built this nation.

My grandparents were the proudest Americans you ever would want to know.

Dad’s parents brought seven children into the world, four of whom served in the military. Dad served in the Navy during World War II; one of his brothers fought for the Army during the Korean War, while his other brother saw Army duty in Europe between the Korean and Vietnam wars; one of his sisters served in the Navy. Mom’s parents produced three children; her two brothers both served in the military; one of them fought with Army Air Corps during World War II; the other served as an Army reserve colonel.

I want to salute my grandparents because they were Americans by choice. They forged a good life in this land. They honored the nation by flying the flag proudly. My maternal grandmother adored Presidents Roosevelt and Kennedy, keeping pictures of JFK in her home.

The current political discourse contains an unhealthy dose of anti-immigrant dogma. One of the president’s closest advisers is known to be anti-immigrant and has infused the president with the notion that we need a “merit-based” immigration policy that allows only those identified as potential high achievers into the country. Under that policy, none of my grandparents would have qualified … and the United States would have been made immeasurably poorer by their exclusion.

This weekend we’re going to honor the founding of this nation. We’ll celebrate it under a cloud brought to us by the pandemic. Still, we will honor our founders’ genius in crafting the framework that put together the world’s most indispensable nation.

I intend to honor — and recall with great fondness — the contributions that my grandparents made after arriving here from far away places.

They became the greatest of Americans … and played a major role in making America great.

Less on Trump, more on Biden

I have made a command decision regarding this blog.

As I have stated already, I intend to use this forum to do what I can to defeat Donald John Trump this coming November. To be candid, I am approaching the end of the line concerning my rage at this individual. I am running out of ways to express my anger and fear at the prospect of this moron getting another term in office.

So I want to start focusing more on Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democrats’ presumptive nominee.

If we’re going to defeat Trump, we’ll replace him with someone with different ideas, a different approach to the presidency, someone with a vast knowledge of the U.S. Constitution, someone with many years of experience serving the public.

I won’t turn totally away from trashing Donald Trump when opportunities present themselves; heaven knows Trump will provide them. I just intend to speak well of Joseph Biden rather than speaking only ill of Donald Trump.

There will be times when this blog will need to refer to Trump while saluting a policy pronouncement from the former vice president. If we’re going to make a choice — and I hope it is Joe Biden over Donald Trump — then it would serve me well to expose the reasons why Biden has earned my support at a time when the nation’s future is being imperiled by the Moron in Chief.

No, Mr. POTUS, this isn’t a time to cheer

I am fed up with Donald John Trump.

I have had enough of his happy talk. I have heard all I can stomach from the cheerleader in chief, who ignores the reality that presents itself daily.

The nation is getting sicker by the day from the pandemic that has swept around the world. It is killing thousands of Americans daily. Our infection rate is setting dubious records each day.

We need a leader, not a cheerleader. We won’t have a leader as long as Donald Trump reports for work in the White House.

Bloomberg News reported: More than 128,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus, and on Wednesday, the country eclipsed 50,000 new cases in a single day, a record high. In 45 states, the seven-day average of infections is higher than it was a week ago. As a result of the country’s high infection rate, more than two dozen European countries have banned Americans from traveling there.

And yet …

There was Donald Trump this morning declaring that the economy was roaring back stronger than ever. He was crowing about the jobs report that came out today. He said he now understands the gravity of the “terrible disease” that has killed so many Americans.

But does he? Does he understand anything? Or does he care sincerely about the misery that has befallen so many Americans?

Trump doesn’t acknowledge the hideous consequence of Russia putting bounties on the heads of our men and women in uniform. He calls reporting of it a “hoax,” saving his anger for the media that are reporting it while giving Vladimir Putin a pass on what has now become known.

Each day I hear Donald Trump lie to us about the impact of the pandemic, each day that he dissembles and deceives us fills me with rage at the notion that this unfit carnival barker got elected to the most exalted office in the nation if not the world.

I just have to vent and I will continue to do so on this blog for as long as this clown continues to sit in the Oval Office. This clown needs to be stripped of the power he possesses.

Commentary on politics, current events and life experience

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