I Voted

I have just returned to my headquarters from my first attempt to vote. Where I live, where I have lived for nearly ten years now, I have never waited long in line to vote. I figured I’d just take my ballot in and drop it off real quick just to make sure Louie DeJoy didn’t mess with my vote.

They were lined up around the block.

Suddenly, my faith in the United States Postal Service has been restored.

Regardless of how it was done, it is done: I have voted. Make sure yinz do, too.

***

I often wonder why some “conservative” friends are sometimes weird about attribution. One today in my facedbook feed began a post by claiming they’d found it “in the comments section of an on-line article.” This struck me as weird, so I did some painstaking legwork: I copied the first sentence of what they had posted, and I pasted it into a Googly search bar.

Wouldn’t you know that the piece was published on the Fox Business site and was authored by Andy Puzder. Who’s Andy Puzder? Why, he was nominated in December 2016 to be Impeached Preznit Carnage Dear Leader’s Secretary of Labor.

Here’s the lede in this little op-ed: “Released two weeks ago, the Census Bureau’s report on “Income and Poverty in the United States” for 2019 clearly shows that, pre-pandemic, President Trump’s economic success blew past that of any other presidency. First, the Census Bureau reported that real median household income grew to $68,703 in 2019, an impressive 6.8% increase over 2018. It was the largest one-year increase in median income on record going back to 1967.”

So. I googlied that, too. And I discovered a darned interesting article by Jonathan Rothbaum, chief of the Income Statistics Branch in the Social, Economic, and Housing Statistics Division at the US Census Bureau. Rothbaum wrote that there might be a wee bit of a problem with making comparisons to years prior to 2017, “…since recent estimates reflect changes implemented to the survey,” and also, ya know: Pandemic.

The article is called “Was Household Income the Highest Ever in 2019?” It wanders pretty far into the weeds, so your mileage may vary. As noted, however, the kernel of Rothbaum’s analysis is that Andy Puzder’s scratched-the-surface comparison and its slimy adulation of the Superspreader-in-Chief might leave us a bit short on truth.

Besides, there’s that trickly little qualifier in there, “pre-pandemic.” As in yeah, I was in terrific health before all the tumors. I don’t care if the fucker put a literal chicken in every literal pot before the pandemic. In fact, that’s a polling area I’ve never been able to understand, oh, Trump has been horrible on the COVID, but he’s our man when it comes to the economy! There is no economy with COVID. There’s only more and more people skewered via intubation in ICU beds.

I remember when it was explained to me what had to happen in order to conquer this pandemic. First, we have to stay home so as not to overwhelm the medical infrastructure. Next, we have to test people, test a lots of people. After that, we ask anyone who tests positive where they’ve been and who they’ve seen in the last two weeks or so, and we go to those places, and we find those people, and we test THEM. And so on, and so on, and scooby doobie doo.

Do you notice a part of that we’ve not done? The contact tracing? Like, not at all? We are EIGHT MONTHS into this pandemic now. There has been no federal push to do the most vital, the most aggressive thing that can be done to whack this virus down. And this Andy Puzder offers up an analysis that is no better, no more useful than the nostalgia one feels flipping through one’s high school yearbook. Remember before the pandemic? Wasn’t that neat?

Impeached Preznit Carnage Poopypants is still making fun of reporters for wearing masks; he just did this yesterday. He has not learned a single solitary thing not even after having experienced this illness himself. Another term will not cause him to improve. He is a worthless, shitty, no-good chief executive of this country, and he’s got to be voted out (since the Senate abdicated its responsibility earlier this year).

Joe Biden will encourage masks and will in fact mandate them where he can. He will mount a national effort toward testing and create an infrastructure for contact tracing. And, while mounting a response to the current crisis, he’ll proactively work to be prepared for future strikes. And I can bullet-point all of the other initiatives Biden has posted on his campaign literature, but there is one thing he has done and will do that really creates the fault between these two candidates regarding this plague:

Joe Biden wears a mask.

So, from this perspective, for me, this was a good day. I voted. I saw formidable lines for voting. And I have just watched Biden speak in Luzerne County, Pa., and it was a strong speech. I am feeling mighty good about this.

14 Days

Toby Ziegler believed in magic.

White House Communications Director for fictional President Josiah Bartlet, Ziegler says he has written two speeches on election night. “I’ve got a speech if he wins. I’ve got a speech if he doesn’t,” he says. Despite apparently legendary poll numbers for Bartlet, Ziegler obsessively insists he won’t “tempt the wrath of whatever from high atop the thing.” Josh Lyman joins the meeting and, upon learning that Deputy White House Communications Director Sam Seaborn has somewhat mocked this, Lyman agrees with Ziegler’s prescription: Seaborn must go outside, turn around three times, and spit. Or curse. We’re not sure which.

I sure am glad I ain’t Toby Ziegler.

I’ve been saying “landslide” for a while now. When I say it out loud to other human beings, sometimes they make that same Toby Ziegler superstitious face, and I prepare for them to insist that I get myself outside to do some sort of skyclad ritual in order to please the whatever from high atop the thing. Don’t get complacent, says they. We can’t be complacent. Complacency. That stuff’s a killer.

And they’re not wrong. Whatever label you stick on your forehead, be it “liberal,” “progressive,” “Democrat,” “socialist,” “radical,” or “Abbie Hoffman,” no, we can’t be complacent. We can never be complacent. But I’m not being complacent. I’m being confident.

My voting plan is to awake early(ish) Saturday morning, the first day for early in-person voting in New York, and to traverse to the local mall that is .25 miles from my home, and to vote. From the looks of the reporting, many other Americans have made and stuck to voting plans around the nation. Look, NPR said so.

There are many reasons I think it’s wise for Democratic voters to shake off the putrid shade of PTSD that afflicts from 2016. This is a different year. It is a different election. Our nominee is running a great campaign. He chose a rock star running mate. Even the polling averages are looking good for Democrats. And the opposition, Impeached Preznit Carnage G. Fuckhead Not A Real Billionaire, keeps finding and triggering all the shit-packed frog-mines in his path. (I have many other reasons but am trying to write succinctly.)

Of course don’t be complacent. But please, find some confidence to wear in your hat. Stow at least some of that dread and loathing under your seat. Like my man James Carville used to say, we’re right. They’re wrong. And if Impeached Dear Leader Dances Like Elaine Benes has been good for something, he’s been good at demonstrating just how right we are. People are aware. And they are showing up.

::whispers:: landslide!

Now. Go vote. And let your little light shine.

A Brief Observation Regarding ‘Trumpcare’

This has been buzzing around in my head all day long, like the time my brain made a mashup of “Where Did You Go?” by Mighty Mighty Bosstones and “Lay Lady Lay” by Bob Dylan and kept playing it in a constant loop, or when it did the same thing with “All About that Bass” by Meghan Trainor and Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy, except this is an observation about Impeached Preznit Carnage Superspreader Not Really A Billionaire’s weird pronouncements that he’s going to announce a new healthcare plan someday, and why, in fact, Republicans generally have been all about the repeal but have not actually been able to do much replacing. It is simply because the Affordable Care Act did everything that can possibly be done to reform healthcare just short of an actual government takeover.

Think about it. What else are you going to do beyond Obamacare unless it’s just back to the draconian old days or moving forward with Medicare For All (which this particular amateur wonk doesn’t think is plausible). Look at everything Obamacare does, which I don’t think our Impeached Dear Leader could explain.

So each state creates an exchange. This creates a reasonable marketplace and a larger participants’ pool. The law mandates health care coverage, which will drive younger, healthier customers into the pool. In return, the law prohibits the exclusion of care based on pre-existing conditions, and there are funds available, called high-risk corridor payments, to keep insurance companies from going under while they have to cover more older sicker people while the younger healthier people are bulldozed into the pool.

Insurance plans were improved as well. This led to an unfortunate oversight by Preznit “Si Se Puede” Barack Obama, who mistakenly shouted to reporters once that everyone would get to keep their current doctors. I think he iterated this without factoring in that Obamacare threw shit insurance plans out of the airlock. Under Obamacare, coverage would mean coverage, not holy shit I’ve been paying into this for years and now it won’t cover X? Also, let’s let parents keep the kids on their policy until they’re oh, what, 26?

And it provided help to pay into the pool, in the form of expanded Medicare and subsidies for those who qualified. And it worked. It still works. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that ACA/Obamacare was responsible for 22 million persons covered via exchanges and Medicaid expansion in 2019.

The reason the Republicans can’t provide an alternative to Obamacare is that there is no alternative. Their dire looking choices are to beg the Supremes to do what Congress failed to do 70 times with no alternative available; to allow the ACA to stand and to thrive; or to jump to the end of all of this and do Medicare For All. If you are a Republican and you hate the Affordable Care Act just because of the fella whose signature is on it (which, let’s face it, is what this is really all about), you’re fucked.

The Affordable Care Act is irreplaceable. The reason the Republicans can’t present an alternative is that there are no alternatives. I think that, like so many other fiascos Trump gets his party into, the Supreme Court effort is going to backfire. It’s gonna be splendid. Difficult, but splendid.

A Twilight Zone Treatment

It started when Melania had commented that he didn’t quite look like himself.

She didn’t often comment on his appearance because she had long ago given up, as had he. She took an odd solace in entertaining that many women end up with their fathers. She certainly had, with this stout, stubborn man who even wore a tie like her Dad did. Well, her Dad could eat crow for all she cared because he did not wake up every morning in the White House.

Donald was feeling fantastic, as he was revealing to his audiences every night. He felt virile, happy, energetic; far from the beat-down man he’d been just weeks ago. He had tried many different ways to play down the Chinavirus to the American people, and he had been roughly criticized for it, but he had just been trying to assuage the nation. I’m a patriot, Donald told himself as he peeped in the mirror, preparing for his hour or so of ablutions that would include the fine mist powder that gave him that healthy glow he enjoyed and the meticulous hair styling.

He swore he saw some bumps there. But he did not have time to worry about a little acne that was probably the result of his treatments.

Marine One had transported a terrified president to the hospital that day; he was feeling every wretched symptom that he’d heard about, the shortness of breath, the fatigue, the congestion, the heart palpitations. There were even weird ones he hadn’t heard about. His fingers tingled. He kept feeling like he had to shit real bad. Not to mention that while on the chopper, he hallucinated a long conversation with former wife Marla. He was in a bad way, real bad, and he thought he was a goner.

Publicly, Donald’s treatments were reported to include an experimental cocktail of two monoclonal antibodies, a treatment that had only faced a single, small clinical trial; remdesivir; and dexamethasone, a corticosteroid that mitigates inflammation in the lungs and tempers the patient’s immune system. What was not publicly reported was that there was an additional treatment that Donald was receiving, even more highly experimental than the antibody treatment, a full infusion given once every three days. This treatment had just been discovered the previous month and so had received no clinical trials whatsoever. But Donald felt fantastic.

Newly energized, this Commander-in-Chief would let noting stand between him and reelection. “I want a rally a night for the next 20 days, folks,” he told his staff. Some expressed worry about this plan, of course, and suggested a safer approach. After all, the suggested quarantine period for a person actually hospitalized with COVID was 20 days.

“Nonsense,” he said. “I feel great. I feel like a billion dollars. I have to go out and see the people.” He would add that he was quite the opposite of contagious. He would insist that he had achieve immunity, a kind of glow. And yet, sometimes if they caught him in the right light, it seemed that his face was changing.

He had brought on a new adviser regarding the pandemic, one he’d seen on the TV, one who espoused a “herd immunity” approach. As more tenured medical professionals got squeezed out into the corners, the herd immunity guy got more of Donald’s ear. He in fact began to reference it in interviews and touted his own fresh vigor to his audience: “I feel so powerful,” he told his supporters at one rally. “I’ll walk into that audience. I’ll walk in there, I’ll kiss everyone in that audience. I’ll kiss the guys and the beautiful women – everybody.” *

He continued to have rallies, continued to pack Americans closely, as it was discussed in the most secluded of back rooms; if herd immunity is the key to resolving this issue in the United States, then the president can help achieve this for us and reclaim the stage at the same time. It seemed like a boon to his team, who had now been convinced that herd immunity should be the actual policy.

The next day, Donald gathered with his medical staff for his next infusion. He had taken off his jacket, he was preparing to remove his tie, but he noticed that the nurses were not prepping the formula. His doctor took a stool in front of him and said, “Mister President, there’s something we’ve got to tell you about this treatment.”

“As you know, this treatment we’ve been giving you has not even been tested via clinical trial. Now, usually, a clinical trial is done to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the drug. Due to your insistence and your persuasiveness, sir, we administered you the drug.

The thing is, sir, there is a rather clear side effect, one we believe you are suffering. You may have noticed changes to your appearance, sir?”

Donald replied that he had, and that he had written it off as a bit of acne due to the treatments.

“Here’s the thing. We’ve discovered that this treatment can severely alter one’s appearance. You’ll notice some bumps beginning to protrude from above your temples. Your face will elongate, and your nose will become longer. You will begin to resemble, well, sir, let me show you a mirror.”

Donald took the mirror and examined his face. For the first time in a week he really paid attention, and he realized that he was looking back at a goat.

Donald Trump had a face like a goat, one of the most primary herd animals on the planet.

He made a braying noise as if to say NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

But the transmission was complete. Donald’s “herd mentality” mentality would continue to direct his thinking for the rest of his life.

Melania patted his head.

#30#

*An actual quote from Impeached Preznit Carnage Superspreader

Well. That was weird.

I watched today on the television images of the Impeached Preznit Carnage Superspreader Not Really A Billionaire walk in his stupid suit toward his car, released from Walter Reed Hospital one can only assume against all cogent medical advice, actually wearing a mask; I witnessed a news reporter ask him how many of his staff had been infected, heard him choke out a denial “thank you,” witnessed the reporter then ask him if he is a super-spreader. The early-evening pundit on my beloved MSNBC speculated that the Impeached Preznit was not “happy with the questions.” I perceived that he was so winded he was unable to speak, though he did give the camera a thumbs up and an awkward double fist pump before he sidled into the vehicle.

I watched the pool cameras follow his chopper cutting through the lovely mid-Atlantic autumn air. It was a surreal scene, knowing full well that this person, full of monoclonal antibodies, Remdisivir, the steroid Dexamethasone, aspirin, tail-of-newt, vitamin D, and NOT hydroxychloroquine, but still so full of drugs and probably full of lung-sputum as well that it’s likely being released from the hospital is such a horrible idea that only the Impeached Preznit Carnage Superspreader could have expressed such a wish, knowing this, I watched Marine One haul his dumpy ass back to the White House.

I watched the chopper land, and the camera angle afforded the pool report was faraway, so the twilight aspect of the sun provided what appeared to be a fumey curtain, and this was the stage set when the small looking, familiar figure exited the chopper and ascended the stairs to the Truman balcony. Despite the strained visibility of the picture, one could see that the figure was masked, because rather than saunter directly into the White House, the figure turned toward the South Lawn, toward the chopper, and just stood there for a while. Then, he removed his mask, put it in his pocket, and then I think there was a thumbs-up gesture, and then, he saluted.

I know there are some who may have found the display inspiring, and I am trying to spin up in my head how I might explain to them why it made my skin crawl. Because for starters, this person is carrying a deadly toxin and is still likely to infect others, returning to a home that employs hundreds of people. Because we had witnessed the day before this person plot a scene that would have fit comfortably in Paddy Chayefsky’s The Hospital, where the zany patient flees to get one last drive around the block to wiggle his palm at his onlookers from inside a hermetically sealed automobile, because these are just top stacks on a whole career of wanton recklessness on this issue that resemble a sure death wish. Or because of the one last hope that actual infection by what Impeached Preznit Carnage has called the “invisible enemy” would cause him to actually change course and lead. [ Narrator: It didn’t ]

But I think what struck me most as the Impeached Preznit Carnage Superspreader Not Really a Billionaire stood on the balcony where presidents tend to oversee the Easter Egg Roll, and ripped off the mask and saluted; I merely felt like I really don’t care if he keeps the trains running on time. We do not need our own Il Duce. And I tire of the constant images this reality television star keeps creating that remind us that this White House resident thinks that is what presidents are supposed to do, to salute from the balcony, to hold up the Bible, to roll tanks through the city, to spell out his own name in fireworks over the National Mall. That is what he thinks presidents look like. That is what he thinks presidents do.

I do not agree.

Positively Sad

So I just said that, and that was snarky. But I feel like I have to be a bit more truthful than that to be real.

I don’t like President Trump. I think his presidency is a sham. I do not think he intended to win in the first place. I think his guiding light through his presidency has been an unabiding resentment and hatred of the previous office holder. I think he is the most unqualified person to have ever have been in the office. I think he is dangerous. I think he has destroyed our democratic republic.

But I feel a great sadness seeing our President airlifted to a hospital.

Part of it is that I just wish well to the office, to the office holder, and to the future of our fragile nation. We are suffering enough now. We do not need an absent executive to get us into further trouble. Nor does this uncertainty bode well for nearly every aspect of our nation.

But I am mostly torn apart by a simple fact: This did not have to happen.

The inner circle of the President of the United States did not have to be a superspreading incident. Taking that further, superspreader events did not need to happen at all. 205,000 American corpses did not need to happen. Pretty pretty Hope Hicks did not need to be infected. This did not need to happen.

There wasn’t a single incident that caused this, but instead a straight-driving reign of thought. This will just disappear, he said. Young people don’t get sick from this, he said. You should eat hyrocloroquine tablets, he said. Just try it. It’ll be gone by Easter, he said. Shut up and go to church. Shut up and go to school. Shut up and go to work.

And now, he has it, as does now like a dozen of his inner circle. KellyAnne Conway has the fucking thing. None of this had to happen.

None of this had to happen.

Anyone now who intends to vote Trump in the upcoming election is voting for a man who was in a position to save many lives, and who didn’t do that. He chose not to save lives. He chose not to wear a mask. He chose not to eschew large crowds, in fact, he gathered large crowds on purpose and cajoled them if they wore masks. As recently as Tuesday, he made his competition out to be an asshole for wearing a mask.

The next week and this stupid asshole is in the hospital and who the fuck is running the country.

None of this had to happen. What an irresponsible, reckless, horrible, stupid, unthinking presidency. Brought to you by the Republican Party.

I’m so upset I could piss on public property.

Positive

If we believe the reports, Impeached Preznit Carnage Slantybutt Not a Real Billionaire has at long last achieved his goal of contracting the virus called SARS-CoV-2. I say congratulations are in order because nobody in these Untied States of America has worked more diligently to catch this disease.

Just on Tuesday, when he was locked in an impassioned and eloquent debating battle with his political foe Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., the Impeached Preznit Carnage Slantybutt Not a Real Billionaire masterfully lobbed a hilarious burn across the room:

I don’t wear a mask like him. Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from him and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.

In my many years of observing political debates, I do not think I have experienced such an expert zinger, especially since it elicited such a pansy-assed retort from this obviously mentally insufficient, socialist snowflake, where he started goin’ on about “CDC recommendations” and “saving lives” and all kinds of pansy-assed crap like that. What a fuckin’ pansy man, it just pisses me off.

So now, the Impeached Preznit has the COVID, as does his wife and several key advisers, including now I’m seeing on the TV Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, another guy who was recently seen breathing all over Supreme Court nominee Amy Corny Barrentt. Meanwhile, both Biden and his wife Dr. Jill Biden, as well as Campaign Energizer Bunny Sen. Kamala Harris have tested negative somehow, as if wearing masks and keeping a distance between you and other human beings somehow actually works.

Well. It is what it is.

Talking to the Chair

MSNBC personality Joy Reid, who I think is partly made of sunshine, raised a point a couple of times before last night’s debate between Impeached Preznit Carnage Not Actually a Billionaire and Captain Scranton of Scranton Scranton: Why is the Trump team working so hard to lower expectations regarding their opponent?

That’s not the normal strategy, that’s for sure. Yinz usually want to talk up your opponent, talking about oh, we’re working real hard to prep our guy, cuz he’s sure gonna need it. Then, when your opponent turns in a ho-hum performance, they have not even come close to the high bar you’ve set in the meeeeeedia. But hey, leave it to the Trump team to eschew conventional wisdom. Again.

That and Impeached Preznit’s entire approach to the debate I think is informing. Do you remember Clint Eastwood at the 2012 Republigoat Convanshun? Eastwood made up a pretend Barack Obama who he said was sitting in this chair, and then he really told imaginary President Obama off!

Republicans love to talk to the chair. Impeached Preznit apparently loves to bully and growl at the chair. See, Impeached Preznit’s strategy seems to have been to unsettle a mentally unstable Joe Biden who they had convinced themselves was mentally unstable and who would, under any slight pressure, start pulling at his sweater and humming Louis Prima songs while bobbing back and forth like a little girl.

They invented a Joe Biden who doesn’t exist and prepped to bully that Joe Biden into a stupor. But that Joe Biden doesn’t exist. The Joe Biden who showed up last night was wearing a blue suit and big red cape under there.

And not only was Joe Biden swinging like Superman, he was also drawing in like an everyman. His pained grimaces, his pointed barbs; Joe Biden got to tell Impeached Preznit Carnage Not a Real Billionaire things to his face that I’ve been barking at my television for months. You’re the worst president America has ever had. You wouldn’t know a suburb unless you took a wrong turn. Why don’t you just shut up. Clown. Irresponsible fool. Putin’s puppy. Those were cathartic words. And I don’t think that was the Joe Biden the Trump campaign expected to encounter.

Because Republicans prefer to talk to the chair rather than to actually do the work.

I smell a landslide.