Ready and waiting for an end … to the pandemic

Oh, brother. Let me count the reasons why I am so ready for the pandemic that has become part of our daily lives to be under control enough for it to no longer dominate every news cycle I watch.

The docs the networks trot out keep telling us that the current surge, the Omicron variant, will continue for a while longer. Then they tell us those who are stricken by it won’t be as sick as before, but that there will be more of them.

I am counting my lucky stars, my blessings and every little thing I can count for the fact that my wife and I have remained free of the virus. Same for our sons and their loved ones. One of my sisters got quite sick a year ago; her husband was asymptomatic with the virus. They’re recovering and I am thankful for that, quite obviously.

However, I am so-o-o-o-o ready for this virus to be controlled. The vaccines are working. They have those oral meds that prevent occurrences. I might stock up on the pills if I am able to find an outlet to acquire them.

It’s becoming clearer to me that we aren’t likely to exterminate the COVID virus. We’ll just need to corral it and keep a sharp eye on it.

I am OK with that. I just am ready to be free of the news barrage dealing with the COVID virus.

Tutu’s legacy towers over world

Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

Desmond Tutu

The great man did many “little bits of good” that indeed overwhelmed the world. Desmond Tutu died today at age 90.

He was arguably the world’s pre-eminent foe of the oppressive regime that kept most of South Africa’s population in a form of bondage. He fought to free the nation’s black majority of the apartheid philosophy that had governed that country since its founding.

He was an Anglican priest who embodied the kind of peaceful resistance that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. made famous in this country.

The great man retired from public life in 2010, but his legacy as a champion for freedom for most of those who lived in South Africa was well-established. He stood alongside the great Nelson Mandela to lead his country out of its oppression to a new era of enlightenment and freedom.

Desmond Tutu did not need to do one great thing to “overwhelm the world.” He lived by the thought he expressed. He was a champion.

Do your job, DOJ

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

When the U.S. House select committee assigned to investigate the riot/insurrection of 1/6 gets near the end of its mission, it likely will face a key decision: Does it refer criminal charges against the former president of the United States to the Department of Justice?

Then we will have another key decision — perhaps — from DOJ: Will it indict the former POTUS on criminal charges related to whatever he did to incite the insurrection?

Let’s be clear-headed about something that Attorney General Merrick Garland has said about what might lie ahead. He said he would “follow the law wherever it leads.” Garland said he would not be pushed toward any action or away from it on the basis of politics. I take him at his word. He served on the federal bench before getting the call to lead the Justice Department and by all accounts he did his job interpreting the Constitution with distinction, fairness and with integrity. Thus, I have no reason to believe he wouldn’t make any DOJ-related decisions using the same benchmarks that guided his decisions as a judge.

Garland does not strike me as a man who shies away from making history. He surely would do so if a federal grand jury under his watch were to indict a former president of the U.S.A. on criminal charges. It was President Nixon who once suggested that presidents were “above the law,” that whatever decision they made while serving as president were “legal” only because it was the president who was making them.

Garland has let it be known clearly and with ambiguity that no one — not even a president — is above the law.

The timing of all this remains anyone’s guess. Donald Trump is trying to run out the clock. He seeks to delay it all until after the midterm election. If Republicans, as expected, take control of Congress, then succeed in delaying any action further, then they will have given life to two dubious assertions.

One is that Richard Nixon’s misguided declaration of presidential power is correct, and that Donald Trump will be able to slip away — once again — from those who are demanding he be held accountable for the insurrection that sought to derail our cherished democracy.

If the U.S. Justice Department is going to indict Donald Trump, my fervent hope is that it acts with immediate dispatch.

What’s happening to me?

I cannot believe what is happening to me. I find myself actually defending Donald J. Trump, albeit on a limited basis and focused only on a single issue.

The 45th POTUS — the former Imbecile in Chief — is defending vaccines as a way to fend off the scourge of the COVID-19 virus that is still sickening and killing Americans. He took the vaccine in the final days of his single term as president; he has taken the booster shot, too.

Now there’s this conservative anti-vaxxer, Candace Owens, saying Trump is “too old” to know better than to contest the vaccine and the booster.

I am not that far behind Trump in age, so I kinda resent her remark.

Moreover, while I know that Trump has never actually been an anti-vaxxer, he was silent about the efficacy of the vaccines while he served as POTUS. So, for him to say now that he believes in the vaccine is a good thing. I am going to offer a timid golf-clap form of applause for his coming around.

Feeling a form of remorse

One of the things I never want to be able to say to a survivor of a horrific natural disaster is, “I know how you feel.”

And yet on this Christmas I feel the need to express my sincere sorrow and a bit of remorse over the suffering that so many of my fellow Americans are experiencing today so soon after Mother Nature delivered her killer blow.

My reference is to the tornadoes that tore through several states a few days ago. We have seen those horrifying pictures of Mayfield, Ky., a town that was virtually wiped off the map by a tornado that measured more than a mile across the ground as it ripped through the community.

I have been sitting in my comfortable living room watching the horror unfold as survivors pore through what is left of their homes. All I am left to say — mostly to myself, under my breath — is “My God in heaven, how do they recover from that?”

Then my remorse is assuaged a bit by the sight of all those folks rushing to help each other. Bear in mind that the neighbors, too, have endured tremendous suffering and pain with their own loss. Yet they roll up their sleeves and lend a hand where others need it.

Do I know what they are feeling? Do I understand their pain? No and no.

All I have is my heartfelt sorrow while wondering: How in the world do you wish someone who grieves in this manner a Merry Christmas?

May all of them keep — and embrace — the faith.

Dear … Whomever

Whenever I receive one of those “Dear Friends and Family” holiday greetings each Christmas, my memory is drawn immediately to my late mother-in-law.

Why? Well, because she was a relentless writer of letters to what she called her network of “pen friends.”

I want to stipulate something up front: I don’t toss those “Dear Current Resident” letters away when they come from loved ones. I read them. Some of them are rather interesting. For instance, I learned this week that one of my cousins has moved from Denver to North Carolina and that another of my cousins is now what he calls himself a “grand dude.”

However, my memory of my mother-in-law makes me smile when I get these letters.

She insisted on writing original compositions. She also insisted on receiving them. If she got anything that smelled like a “form letter,” she would toss the letter into the trash and scratch the individual from her “pen friend” network.

Her motto, and I paraphrase it broadly here: If you don’t care enough to send me an original letter in return for those I send to you, then you are not welcome to be a pen friend to me.

Her letter-writing kept her mind alert for many years after she retired at age 72 from her job at a Portland, Ore., newspaper. Indeed, the time she would take to write the letters — with her own hand, I hasten to add — kept her active and engaged in her surroundings.

We need more of that these days. Not less of it.

Dr. Fauci: national hero

People who weaponize lies are killing people.”

That wise phrase came from Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has been the target of “weaponized lies” for about, oh, the past couple of years. The lies are coming from right-wing critics who refuse to accept the truth he is telling about the disease that continues to kill Americans every day.

Some of the more strident critics have talked openly about fitting Fauci with an “orange jump suit.” They want to lock him up. They want to charge him with criminal acts.

This is absurd, ridiculous. It is utter trash.

I am fed up to here with the gutter talk that comes from the right-wingers who are fabricating reasons to oppose the doctor, who happens to be the nation’s foremost infectious disease expert. Donald Trump brought him on board ostensibly to assist the administration in developing an anti-COVID strategy; Fauci sought to do what the president asked, only to have Trump undercut him.

Trump lost the 2020 election and the new POTUS, Joe Biden, came on board. He retained Fauci and has since allowed the learned physician to talk openly to us about what we need to do to escape the clutches of the virus. President Biden has stayed the hell out of the way!

None of that has silenced the critics.

The Fox News blowhards — led by Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity — have led the phony amen chorus calling for Fauci to be charged with some dubious criminal act.

They have allies in Congress who say the same thing. One of them, a Republican who represents the Texas Panhandle, is a former physician and Navy flag officer. Ronny Jackson has picked up the falsehood weaponry and is firing it at Dr. Fauci.

Jackson is a disgrace to the office he occupies.

As for Fauci, I consider him to be a national hero.

Speak up, Jim Jordan

Jim Jordan is the latest target of prime opportunity in the sights of the U.S. House select committee examining the events leading to the 1/6 insurrection.

The Ohio Republican U.S. representative cannot seem to get straight whether or when or how many times he talked to Donald Trump on that day. The House committee wants him to take an oath to tell the truth and then … tell the panel the truth about what happened that day. I mean, my hunch is that is probably knows what he said to Trump that day.

Jordan is likely to stonewall the committee, just like other Donald Trump loyalists have done. One of them is facing prosecution by the Justice Department; another is likely to face the same charge of contempt of Congress; still others have hidden behind the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, protecting them from saying something that would incriminate them.

Jordan is a loudmouth lawmaker. He has shown no bashfulness in proclaiming his loyalty to Trump. So, let’s hear it from the Ohio gasbag what he said to Trump on 1/6 and what Trump said to him in return.

We need to know all the details of that terrible day.

Yes, Virginia …

I have shared this editorial with you before. I am doing so again today. And maybe next year and the year after that.

It is an iconic piece of writing by Francis Pharcellus Church, editor of the New York Sun. He wrote it in 1897 in response to an 8-year-old girl’s plea for him to dispel what her friends had told her.

Here is his response.


DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Trump angers the cultists?

Now comes word from the hinterland that Donald Trump’s praise for vaccines to fight the coronavirus pandemic is drawing the ire of the cultists who continue to cling to some phony suspicion about whether the vaccines work.

Of course they work! Donald Trump recently has stepped up his support of the vaccines in the wake of President Biden’s praise over his predecessor’s work to make them available.

Some of the diehard Trump loyalists, though, ain’t buying the notion that the former POTUS is pushing, that they are doing the job they are intended to do.

And that only the unvaccinated are the remaining Americans who are “getting really sick” from the pandemic and its assorted variants.

They are mistaken. The former president is correct.

There. I said it.