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 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.

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.

What I Expect From President Biden, Part One

It may be an unreasonable ask, but I don’t want any inaugural balls.

Sorry, Beyonce, sorry Garth Brooks, sorry John Legend, sorry Courtney Barnett and Brandi Carlisle, in my version of 2021, there will be no stages for you, not even virtually.

I mean, don’t you feel like Joe and Jill taking the stage in tux and gown for a first box step would be pretty fucking in appropriate while that COVID death toll marches on; while we’ve watched the Impeached Preznit Carnage Butthole Mississippi golf through most of it in his weirdly tight-fitting white polos and his belt-strangled Dockers? Don’t you think President Biden and Dr. Mrs. Joe Jill Biden attending 17 inaugural balls would smack of tossing paper towels to the masses? I sure do.

Take your oath. Go check out your new digs. Have a few meetings. Go to bed. No time for inaugural dress-up time.

We have shit to do.

On day one, I want a fresh new pandemic response. I want so many pronouncements from this new White House that it feels like four weeks in a day. It has to be immediately razor-edge clear to everyone in the world that this is a change. That this president wears masks. I want a publicly televised roundtable with Dr. Fauci and Dr. Redfield and Dr. Birx, and I want Biden to be nodding his head a lot. I want an immediate, full-stop activation of the Defense Production Act, and I want clearly-stated benchmarks for that effort. I want a strong statement from the president encouraging governors—especially those in high-positivity states—to once again roll back on social interaction, on economic activity, on large gatherings, and to encourage masks and keeping a safe distance from other humans.

I want a federal commitment to contact tracing and announced partnerships with Apple and Google to create a single, cross-platform, universal contact-tracing app that is utterly intuitive for the end-user and yet robust enough to collect adequate data to contribute to widespread tracing and quarantine efforts. I want this and a universal test that delivers results in an hour, an antibody test that works, and honest, warts-and-all disclosures about the efficacy of a vaccine.

I want work started on day one to fix the Affordable Care Act, but with a new focus on public health. And that focus shouldn’t just be a domestic effort. The United States needs to repair its standing with the World Health Organization as the rubber meets the road and needs to reclaim its position as a global leader on public health. Even George W. Bush understood this.

I want words from the new president that anchor economic success to the eradication of SARS-CoV-2. And I want an unprecedented stimulus package to leave President Biden’s for consideration by the newly-minted Democratic Senate and the now-stronger Democratic House.

Then we can get to Jan. 22.

It’s the pandemic, stupid.

Vote Him Out

Sometimes, this blog is a challenge.

It’s always been that way to some extent. Some of the things one must type sometimes. It’s like there’s a curse of Captain Obvious, and I was feeling like that quite a lot even before the reign of Impeached Preznit Carnage Creepy Ghoully Fantastic.

Of course the most recent rout was Trump’s weaseling about his willingness to cede to a loss, and I’ve been sitting with this for some time, waiting for right way to say it. It finally came. Let’s review exactly what he said, including the question he was asked:

“Will you commit here today for a peaceful transferral of power after the election?”

“We’re going to have to see what happens. You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.”

Impeached Preznit Carnage was asked, specifically, if he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power.

The correct answer is “yes.”

That Trump cannot simply answer “yes” to this question is troublesome. If you do not also find discomfort with this, then you’re part of the problem.

Vote early, people. And, as they shouted yesterday from the steps of the Supreme Court, vote him out.

The Rose Goes In the Front, Big Guy

If you had to take municipal government where I went to college, I hope you had Gargan.

What a funny man. Middle-aged, always sporting Dockers that he was treading water in, funny looking mouth, cheap eyeglasses, and one of the most lasting impressions I had of college. Because on day one of his class, Gargan, who lectured in a spinny sort of Socratic method of his own device, laid out the thesis statement of the rest of our semester. He spoke of salience and made sure our young wet minds had a grasp of the word’s meaning. Ahem:

the quality of being particularly noticeable or important; prominence.

Then he went on to argue that people, Americans, tend to obsess incredibly over the goings-on of the federal government but pay little attention to what’s going on in Columbus or Albany or even in what they’re doing in your township hall down the street. Gargan argued that this was backward because, in truth, what they’re doing in that dingy little gymnasium, where they discuss the state of the roads and the water treatment plant, those government activities actually possess more in the way of

salience.

This particular lecture and its substance has always since girded my thinking about such matters, though it clearly does not affect my actions much because I could not tell you a single detail about how government works in Albany.

Regardless, the seeming counter-intuitiveness of this idea, I think, can also be turned on its side be 45 degrees to provide an interesting benchmark, almost a measurer of quality to some extent. I mean, ideally, then, the machinations of the federal government should capture as much awareness to you as, say, the new Hobby Lobby down the street (that’s right, gang, come on down, we got us a Hobby Lobby!).

By this mark, then, as by many others, the Trump Administration is an abject failure.

By its inaction to contain the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the federal government stopped being a faraway distraction of defense budgets and tax cuts and jumped right into your fucking lap. There is nothing right now that could possibly affect your individual life right now than the fact that you cannot freely walk about the country, you are reluctant to see your loved ones, and if you do, you are unable to give them hugs, or at least, you sure shouldn’t be. Me and Dad just do the ol’ hi sign.

President Obama’s presidency was pretty boring, I mean comparatively. I think that is one mark of a good presidency: When Obama did things like this

it made the White House Press Corps oooooooh and ahhhh (I think there was a WHOOOOOOO in there) and made their flashes shutter like crazy. I mean, they *applauded*. This asshole (I am referring of course to Impeached Preznit Carnage Meat LaLoosh himself) pulls this move every fucking day, at least when he’s not out holding massive covid-spreader event himself all over the country.

My point: That Donald John Trump is in our faces all the time is not a sign of a good presidency. It is, in fact, terrible. He should not be on your television screens more than Ryan Seacrest. He should not be tweeting more than @aplusk. And, certainly, his horrible nasty no good failure to rise to the current occasion should not be sitting in your lap like a bucket of plague.

Impeached Preznit Carnage’s salience to your life right now speaks volumes of the depths of his failures as Preznit.

Dude’s goin’ down.