The Newsletter: Issue #15

A week ago, a friend messaged me late on Friday. She said “we made it through to the weekend!” And I was like “I mean yeah except those pesky kids and all their bullshit.”

Well folks, here we are on a Friday: you made it. You made it through the week. That is if you aren’t a parent, or you aren’t working odd jobs, odd hours, or multiple jobs.

But nevertheless… you made it. So let’s get to this week’s newsletter.

Around the World

Fascism is on the rise, folks. So much so that I talked about it in my podcast next week (you can preview it on Youtube, or below). I’m really starting to feel like I belong to Fox News though on this topic, because the more cancel culture grows, the more I feel that Democrats have just as much a tendency to fascism as Republicans do.

Think of it: every time they try and suppress viewpoints, suppress information, cancel someone for being against the “vote blue no matter who” mantra, or claim that anything they simply don’t agree with, don’t like, or haven’t read the up-to-date information on… they call it misinformation, or a threat to democracy.

But do you know what the biggest threat is to democracy? Suppression. Censorship. Cancel culture.

What is most disturbing to me is in the case of local media, at least where I live. There is an argument afoot that “both sides-ing journalism” is harmful to democracy because it gives a mouthpiece to an objectively grotesque underbelly of society. But at the same time, if journalists do not offer the perspective of all views, what is to be gained?

One, singular, view that then becomes suppression of other whatever-it-happens-to-be out there. This is not a reflection of America, as a whole.

And I hate this with my whole being, because it offers the perspective that racists should be allowed to spew their racist hatred; transphobia permissible in the public space… and so on. Is what they say right? No. But the principles upon which this country was founded allow for those hateful things to be said, no matter how grotesque or abhorrent.

The Constitution does not save anyone from consequences from their words and actions, this is for certain. So consequence-away. Combat with love, sue people… whatever.

But outright suppression? That shit is wrong. It is anti-democratic. It is fascism, defined.

More on my perspective in next week’s pod, again you can already listen to it in its entirety here:

Around My World

School is back in full swing over here. I’m taking a course in Public Governance, and growing more skeptical of the concept of the “national deficit” by the day as a result. My kids are back at it too. I designed three, entire curriculums over the summer for my five year old, all based around projects in history, STEM, and art. My high schooler is at it, and also dual enrolled in classes at the community college. And my oldest daughter deferred a year to have surgery later this winter, but is taking classes at the community college as well, and playing tennis for their team.

As it turns out, my kids are taking two of their classes at community together, and they invited me to take their painting class with them. Of course, they were probably just being polite; but I graciously accepted, and let them turn my office into their painting space for these 15 weeks. Because wasn’t that nice of them to humor me like that?

You Can’t Unsee This

I mean… is it entirely wrong?

STFU Fridays

My big pet peeve right now are people complaining about the ongoing availability of Telehealth services. I’ve heard it from a couple doctors, some family members that are nurses, and a hell of a lot of people on social media that work in a variety of areas of healthcare.

The complaints run the gamut, but very few of them have actually boiled down to actual serious reasons related to health. Most of them are things like “the wifi never works,” or “I cannot figure out how to do audio,” or – my favorite – “patients take it as an opportunity to spend too much time discussing their issues, because they’re in the comfort of their own home.” The audacity. The audacity of patients wanting to actually be able to have conversations with their doctors without being herded out like cattle.

The. Audacity.

I can certainly see there are some issues that are harder to address over Telehealth, like a rash or something that really does require a hands-on, fingers-up approach (barf). But there are so many things that can be addressed over Telehealth, and with the rapid expansion of it due to COVID it not only makes it safer for people while the pandemic still rages, and it gives access to people to see their doctors that otherwise do not always get to go.

For myself, I am a mom with very little support system, at times (most of the time). Because of this, I am rarely able to see my doctor; once a year if I’m lucky. The pandemic opening Telehealth, though, has allowed me to have regular visits with my primary care physician and really start addressing my allergies and asthma in ways I could only dream of doing with my 5 year old in tow at the office. Both issues are now much better off in terms of their management than they have been in over a decade (think about that for a minute), and I am able to see my doctor more frequently to do this simply because all I have to do is log in to Zoom. I don’t have to fight with my kid to wear his mask or stop opening and closing drawers, I don’t need anyone to drive my older kids to their school and sports activities… I can literally do the appointment from anywhere. This has been an absolute game changer for me, and I am certain it has been for others.

So to the people complaining about Telehealth without understanding the circumstances under which it really and truly has changed lives, and possibly lengthened them? Well y’all just need to shut the fuck up. Quit being lazy, quit being stubborn, and start remembering why you got into healthcare to begin with.

(And again, I recognize the instances where a hands on approach really and truly is needed… this is why both modalities need to be available.)

…on that note of availability, I do have to say that if appointments were more readily available in person, Telehealth may not be so widely needed still. Four times in the last couple of weeks I have called and been offered in person appointments literal weeks from the time I made the call. The Telehealth visit over Zoom? The next day.

Have a good weekend, everyone! That is… if weekends are a thing for you…

The Newsletter: Issue #13

Welp, it isn’t Friday the 13th, but it’s Friday and this is newsletter issue #13, and I also am pretty sure I saw a ghost yesterday, so let’s call this all a sign. A sign of what though? Not sure.

We’ll get to the ghost in a minute…

Around the World

So … monkeypox, huh?

Monkeypox has largely taken the stage, while COVID and its variants continue to absolutely ravage the world. The United States has more than 7,000 cases of confirmed monkeypox, with too many more than that suspected to count. As usual, we never learn from our mistakes, and are making the same ones we made with COVID. Among them have included stereotyping a group, being slow to act, and allowing misinformation to rule the public sphere.

We just do not ever learn from our lessons. Frankly, it’s embarrassing at this point.

On the note of lessons and never learning, COVID transmission around the United States remains at remarkably high levels. The vaccines are slow to be updated, and a 9/11’s worth of Americans continues to die every week against a disease that we know how to deal with at this stage. At least half of them from states reporting are in people fully vaccinated – the vaccines need updating, and urgently.

And yet, of course, economic interests come first, and so the CDC is moving to decrease mitigations even further, at the same time that they just released a report on the long term health effects of unfettered COVID infection in children and adolescents. Spoiler alert: it ain’t pretty, and will – I believe – go on to be among the largest marks of shame modern America has to bear.

Nancy Pelosi spent $90M of your taxpayer dollars to take a trip to Taiwan. I’m still unsure why that happened. And basketball player Brittany Griner was convicted and sentenced to 9 years in prison out in Russia.

Great times, amiright?

Around My World

So my big news right now is that I’ve started a podcast! I’m pretty excited, and you should be too – that is if you can tolerate the sound of my caustic and irritating voice.

I’m still working out the kinks, so if you do have a listen and have any thoughts or ideas, shoot me a message and give me your thoughts.

You can get a new episode every Monday on your preferred podcast platform, it’s on all of them. And in the days that precede that, the episode is loaded to YouTube where you can also listen to it in full. Your choice, let me know what you all think.

To that end, here is next week’s episode, available now on YouTube… or you can wait until Monday to listen to it wherever you listen to your pods.

You Can’t Unsee This

Have any of you seen the Dark Brandon memes? I still don’t understand them, one bit; and yet, they’re hilarious.

It probably only makes it more the strange that a few days after they went viral, a lightning strike injured two people and killed two others right outside the White House. Now I’m not the biggest believer in heavenly things (as with me and everything: it’s complicated), but y’all need to start paying attention to the Lord already.

STFU Fridays

Last night, it was very loud in my house and my husband was working late. My 5 year old could not get calmed down so as I always do when this comes up, I took him for a drive. He knocked out in a matter of minutes, but when I pulled into my driveway I decided that I should sit and wait a few just to make sure he didn’t wake back up when I carried him in.

I put the car in park and grabbed my phone, then looked down at it and immediately saw a white figure move rapidly right past my car window out of the corner of my left eye. No one was in my drive, on my street when I pulled up; so at first I thought it was one of my kids.

But the hairs on my neck were standing upright, and I got chills. So I texted my kids, because I thought: what if someone was trying to break in? They confirmed it was not either of them, it wasn’t my husband and wasn’t my dad… and the security cameras we have around our house showed no one.

To make things all the more creepy, when I got out of the car, it smelled strange. Like a dentist’s office – like the gases that you can smell when you walk in as you hear drills running and dental bills racking up rapidly.

So I’m pretty sure it was a ghost.

Naturally, I took to social media to share my story, and I told everyone in the house. The consensus was that I was full of shit: either I’ve gone insane, or am heading there. All of that may be true, but the insulting ones were the people saying I was just making shit up.

Well to all of them I say: shut the fuck up. Shut the fuck up with your skepticism that a world beyond exists, or questioning the validity of my otherworld encounters. The same as the existence or lack thereof of some omnipotent being striking the White House with lightning is no more disprovable than it is provable. You find out when you meet that ultimate human destination – we all do; everything until then is speculation. If we can believe in good vibes and prayers, it stands to reason we can believe in an afterlife where some resonating energy of people persists. Even if it’s just that: energy.

If anything this is a sign that Spooky Season is just around the corner, and I for one am ready.

The Newsletter: Issue #12

I wish I could write one, fucking newsletter without starting off with something like: welp, what a mess this world is. But we’re 12 issues in, and sure as hell nothing has gotten any better.

In fact, I’d wager, it’s gotten worse.

I’m starting to find myself looking at things going on in the world – shootings, violence, crime, and the like – more as evidence that people are starting to snap, than anything else. Sure, gun safety reform and legislation is absolutely necessary; so is more adequate access to mental health services. As are a host of other things that create an insurmountable amount of pressure that, for some, just ends up being too much.

I do not condone anything that is happening in that space, but I have to say that I understand. I really do.

People can just only take so much. So much pain, death, disease, hardship, and lack of care.

In any event, let’s get to it.

Around the World

Dr. Oz won his primary this week, in the same general vein and district patterns that Trump did.

In other words: we’re fucked.

Not that authoritarianism isn’t already kind-of sort-of going on already. To be more clear: it is. The Biden Administration has taken the road of doing what they think is best, even though it is antithetical to even some of the fundamental principals and mandates upon which they were voted in. And I’m not even just talking about areas in which they are strapped, and their hands are supposedly tied (which they are not, and we’ll get to in a minute). But when an Administration makes as many blunders as this one has, and keeps cow-towing to the Republican and corporate demands that are not in the best interest of the people, while having essentially a blank check for a foreign war that the majority of people did not co-sign…

Well Houston… we have a problem. This is how you invite hyper-nationalistic fascism to the dinner table.

It is my belief that the Democrats have rendered themselves impotent in the name of old-timey bipartisanship and, well, capitalism. Not only has Joe Biden failed to hold true to many of his campaign promises in 2020, his Administration has largely failed to meet the moment on a number of crises that have occurred around the country, and world, since. Have they been an abject failure? Well no, but on the areas in which they have had a mandate, they continue to fall short.

What does not make sense is being elected to do those very specific things and then just … not…

Democrats, and the Admin, are great at pointing the finger, except for when it comes to pointing it at themselves. As I see it, a number of factors are getting in the way of them achieving any of their promises, and securing enough wins in the fall to hold the majority. Oftentimes, they remind me of one of my old boyfriends who would defeat himself with inaction and procrastination; it was easier to point blame and feel sorry for himself than to actually try and be successful. Because once you’ve been successful, well how will you win the next round (in the case of the Dems, what will you campaign on?).

But, if we’re being frank here: I don’t see the Democrats doing anything with the majority anyway (they always, invariably, find an excuse not to). Now they’re on some grand campaign to gaslight America, to try and make people believe that their material conditions aren’t actually worse, that things aren’t really hard right now, that inflation and housing and jobs and everything in between isn’t really affecting them… that we all just don’t understand, which – in my own personal experience – is the D’s traditional line when they’re pinned up against the wall. And this is, sadly, exactly why the vast majority of people in America see them as elitist assholes who, frankly, do not serve anyone but themselves.

The bottom line that hardline Democrats are failing to understand is that average Americans – the people that vote only when they care about something – are not party line voters. They will not Vote Blue No Matter who if Blue doesn’t do anything for them before the next election. Republicans get it, they give their voters the things that they explicitly are elected to do (often times, judges and an elimination of government control). Numbers of non partisan or so-called Independent voters have grown in exponential numbers, around the country, for decades, and it’s why so many of our elections are unpredictable, and communities are largely a purple swath of people that sway with their conditions at the time the ballots are cast.

Blaming people is an ineffective tool if but only because of all those factors I mentioned getting in the way. Among them are: a refusal to reform the filibuster, a refusal to utilize the bully-pulpit of the Presidency, an Administration that is both ignorant and incompetent on important issues until it is too late (see: Omicron, baby formula), a President that is living in the past (the days of bipartisan deals and being good friends with Mitch), and, well, capitalism.

Even on issues like the economy, Joe Biden has a fiscal policy that is politically to the right of Nixon. Just think about that for a minute. President Nixon – a traitor to democracy – did more for economic stabilization to stave off inflation and recession than Joe Biden will. His plan for the economy is laughable, at best. Beyond the fact that average Americans are largely unaffected by the deficit (an arbitrary and made up concept to begin with), the bulk of his plan to deal with inflation and the economy is all the talking points of that failed piece of legislation – Build Back Beyond, or whatever it was called – that Manchin vetoed, they promised to break up, and haven’t talked about since. They’re empty promises, just like COVID funding and calling on Congress to do something about guns. Rather than flex the powers of the executive branch that Biden actually does have, he’s making remarks, letting his Administration correct them, saying he didn’t see pretty much everything coming (including the formula shortage, which is unforgivable as I see it), then heading home for a three day weekend in Delaware, seemingly just as much as Trump used to golf. It’s insanity!

(And I say this all as a Democrat, with absolutely no skin in the game. Think about that one too…)

Around My World

Welp, the lesson I’m learning now is that when you go through hard shit, you learn who your real friends and family are.

We’ve been looking for a rental since January, and shit just gets uglier and uglier by the day.

We’ve now spent $3,960 on non-refundable application fees, and the rejections are getting stupider by the day. Today, after being effectively approved on a home, we were then told “sorry, a military family contacted us we’re going with them.” This is the second time this happened in the last two weeks.

My daughter who is 14 went with my husband to one viewing, and the realtor showing the home thought she was his girlfriend. I guess not getting selected for that home was a blessing in disguise.

We are now at three homes that we are waiting to hear back on. This is how it goes. It’s 3 then 5 then down to 2; it got so confusing at a point that I had to make a spreadsheet for us to keep track, which is a depressing sheet of just strikes through addresses and notes like “probably not going to work for us too small,” and “has 117 other applicants.”

So as of now we’re at three, one is ideal for our family, another sort of ideal but outdated, and the third was a scene of a crime today when, three doors down, a man was arrested after the chopped up remains of his mother were found in the community dumpster.

Meanwhile, we’re still in our temporary rental. It has dampness and mold, no ventilation, an outdated circuit breaker that could catch fire at any moment with all the lights around the house flickering, and no emergency exit that will open. The dampness has caused me to have a sinus infection for 4 weeks now, and I am covered in hives; but God forbid I mention that in casual conversation, then – it’s becoming more and more common – I never hear from whomever I’m talking to again.

It’s not that I mean to just complain all the time. It’s just that this is a pretty big thing going on in our lives right now, and when people ask how things are going, I take that to mean they actually want to know…

Because that’s the real lesson in all of this. Not that California’s housing crisis is greater than anyone not experiencing it could ever imagine. Not that 45% of the state is a renter and virtually no one in public office on any level is doing anything to represent them with the urgency of this unprecedented crisis. Not that landlords are literal scum, and your house can literally harm you physically.

No, it’s that when these types of things happen, a lot of people in your life just… disappear. Because it makes them feel bad to talk about their vacations when they know you have to spend your spare cash on application fees, and an $800 a month gas bill so your kids can still go to their activities after you had to move out of town.

To them I just have to say: I am very sorry that my personal predicament makes you uncomfortable in your privilege.

There are also those that themselves contribute to the problem by hoarding empty homes, or subjugating the middle and working class into uninhabitable conditions as landlords. I’m not saying that all landlords are bad, just that if you are a landlord or employed somehow in this line of work, and find yourself justifying (or attempting to justify) ostensibly horrible conditions and situations… I don’t know, maybe you’re just a horrible person. I’ll never forget the conversation I had with a friend about mold in the kitchen cabinets; a friend who herself works as a property manager for a relatively large company in Los Angeles County. She said to me “well you know you can’t expect to have a home AND have it be livable all the time,” and that – ladies and gentlemen – was the end of our friendship.

Ah well…

You Can’t Unsee This

Sorry to burst your bubble. This is the current rate of COVID transmission in the US. You are being lied to if someone is telling you it’s over. It’s not. COVID is still very real. Living with it does not mean just infecting people all willy-nilly (more on that in a post next week…).

Get your masks back on, at least in situations where vulnerable people may be present. Consider scaling back on gatherings.

And if this monkeypox thing blows up…

STFU Fridays

I live in Southern California, but the truth to the matter is that all over the world people are experiencing the changing climate. A part of that is that droughts like we have never experienced are cropping up all over.

The effects this will have on crops, life in general, is a more serious conversation for another day. For now, I’d like to talk about people with grass lawns, and golf courses.

In So Cal, we have been restricted to only water once per day, and who-boy have the crazies come out.

One group is asking why we are building more apartments and houses if we don’t have enough water infrastructure to water our palatial lawns and take 2 hour showers every day. Well, first and foremost, all those people that are living in RVs, in homeless encampments, in tents in people’s backyards, in their cars, in local motels… they have a right to live in a home too. They exist. They are more important than your fucking grass yard and 1970s ol’ reliable washing machine, Janice. Unless they all just up and die (which, to be frank, I’m sure many of these NIMBY fucks would be fine with), they need a place to live. This doesn’t have a single thing to do with watering restrictions. So shut the fuck up to them.

But also, and this is going to blow all of your minds, the people defending the watering restriction and conservation guidelines need to shut the fuck up too. I know! Crazy, right?

Wrong.

In California, as an example, only 10% of water usage is attributed to people’s homes. Brushing your teeth a little less, taking shorter showers, washing your clothes less frequently, and only watering your lawns once or less a week, is not going to do a damn thing to really make the sizable dent in the water reserves that will be needed for the long term. So the people going after those complaining about grass lawns and their plants dying for real need to shut the fuck up. Because who you need to really go after are the golf courses, high schools, businesses, and agricultural sectors not doing their part.

There is absolutely no reason why golf courses and high school football fields should be exempt from water restrictions, and yet they are. More to the point: Big Ag could make substantial changes to their watering processes to irrigate more efficiently and with less run off, but they won’t because – duh – Big Money.

Rather than go after someone reasonably pissed that all the investment they’ve made in their yard – whether you agree with that investment or not – is about to die (because watering once per day is honestly not going to keep a damn thing alive), why not focus your anger at the politicians and the golf course and agriculture lobbyists that are passing the ultimate burden onto the rest of us? Because they are the enemy, and until you recognize that I think it’s time to just…

… well, you know…

Please Stop Making Roe About You

Unless you live under a rock, you know that Roe and Casey are about to be overturned.

If you do live under a rock, my apologies. Last night, a leak from within the walls of the Supreme Court was published in a Politico article, which included the opinion of the Supreme Court, which has effectively taken an internal vote to overturn both Roe and Casey. This will throw abortion and other healthcare rights back to the states, which will have an avalanche of consequences, including the return of back-alley abortions, and an elimination of privacy for everyone. It also, effectively, makes travel even through a state with outlawed abortion a non-option for millions of young women, as even travel through will be subject to criminal proceedings should a woman later terminate a pregnancy that was merely conceived in the state, in passing. Here is a link to that article; if you need to go read it, we’ll be here waiting when you’re done: LINK.

There is little less in this world quite as grotesque as the actions and words of many within hours of the publication of that article. I am sure more will come.

If I were to include an incomplete list, it would include:

1. Men, like Congressional Representative Eric Swalwell, making this into being about him:

2. Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and the DNC/Joe Biden fundraising off the issue:

3. People who have been promising to protect women for decades, only to repeatedly fall short of doing so

And the big one:

4. Men who believe they have a right to pontificate on how women are allowed to respond, react, feel, and vote/not vote on this issue

And that is, fundamentally, what I am seeing of the most. Men, and a few women as well, taking to Twitter and Tik Tok, Facebook, Instagram – everywhere really – to pontificate and bluster about how this is the fault of young people who didn’t vote in 2016, or this is the fault of people, especially women, that are critical of Biden and the Democrats now.

The problem with that is that it fails to acknowledge history, and the gift that Democrats have been given over and over again over the last 50 years, only to take that gift for granted, much in the way women are often used and abused and then thrown to the side when no longer needed in every day life.

Even if we just consider the last couple of administrations, since the Supreme Court evidenced itself to be a political body in Bush v Gore, you have to accept that:

-In 2009, Obama had a super majority in the Senate for 5 months. Prior to this, he had campaigned on codifying Roe into law, and yet as soon as elected, his agenda shifted and this no longer became a priority. With that super majority, nothing was done.

-In 2014, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was asked to retire, and she was either too selfish or senile to oblige. People claim that she wanted to wait until a woman was president, but this foolish viewpoint is a grim statement more (in my view) of why the Supreme Court should not be a lifetime appointment; that an age limit should be enforced.

-In 2019, as highlighted above, Biden campaigned on codifying Roe, much like Obama did. And while he has not been gifted a super majority, his weak leadership has only made the problem worse. When asked to expand the court, he created a commission to study it. After spending our tax dollars to research the issue, the group created a 300+ page document that simply provided a history of the Supreme Court, and issued no recommendation. Since then, the issue has been dropped, mentioned now only in passing when things get bad. Moreover, in fall of 2021, the House passed a bill that would codify Roe into law, and the Senate has remained in gridlock on the issue. Most notable though is that a handful of senators did not even show up to vote on the issue, Biden made no public moves to lead with an iron fist on the issue, and to this day he continues to take zero position in favor of nuking the filibuster – even for a carve out on this singular issue, which they have done before, on military spending.

And these last 24 hours, the people in power have again shown us who they are. Pelosi and Schumer issued perhaps the weakest joint statement they have ever issued; Biden did much of the same today. It was more “let’s wait and see what happens,” as if time is not of the essence in this issue, as if the clock is not about to strike midnight. Fundraising, because women’s rights are a big money maker; and moving on to their agenda for the day of passing more money for Ukraine.

In the end, the military and the economy is really what this is all about anyway. If women continue to stop having babies, the economy cannot grow. Right?

But all of that is neither here nor there, in the final analysis. The damage to this point is done, and now it is only a matter of time before women in this country are subjugated in ways we never even believed could happen. Interestingly, over the decades, abortion statistics have remained static, through illegal and legal times. The only difference, fundamentally, has been whether or not they are safe.

Then again, were we the ones foolish and senile on this issue? The people in power in this country – the elite oligarchy of Democrats and Republicans, and a handful of progressives who still have more cash on hand than the rest of us – have systematically shown women what they think of us for a long time. There is no universal childcare. No equal pay, truly so. No paid family leave. Women’s healthcare has been on the downslide for decades, with abortion being the final nail in the coffin.

And it’s more than that. It’s the rise in toxic masculinity that is pervasive to daily life. It’s people saying they don’t want to wear a mask to protect others because it makes them feel “weak,” and “feminine” to care about others, have compassion and express feelings like kindness. It’s feeling threatened when a strong or intelligent woman enters the chat. It’s being a woman and calling the cable company, only to have them ask if they can speak to your husband. It is exhausting to be a woman in America today, this decision by the Supreme Court is more of the same.

It’s a country of men mansplaining to women how they are allowed to feel and react, and – again – how to vote or not vote in reaction to their fundamental right to choose being taken away.

Please stop making Roe about you. Please stop posting your hot takes, turning it into your own issues, using it as a fundraising tool, and telling women their frustration with their supposed-allies is invalid. Even if you are an older women, consider that this only symbolically affects you. For young women – women under 50 all over this country – the stakes are much more dire; for you it’s posters and cries to resist, for them it’s life, death, and back alley abortions.

Consider this: when you tell a young woman who is now faced with the consequences of the world created for them, a woman who has to plan travel around not even going through states that outlaw abortion (unless they want to later on face possible criminal proceedings)… when you tell them that they cannot vote how they want, feel how they want, or react how they deem appropriate, because the Democrats said so and the two party system is just what we have:

You are doing the same thing that the Supreme Court did by voting to overturn Roe and Casey.

You are taking away a young woman’s autonomy. You are deciding for her what she is allowed to think, feel, and do.

Please stop making Roe about you.

Personal Responsibility Is Not Public Health

What kind of a shit show is going on over there at the White House, anyway? The new approach of people taking individualistic, personal responsibility, for whether or not they get COVID, and how they fair with it, is some wild ass horse shit I never saw coming.

Wild ass horse shit.

I feel like the Biden Administration, including his COVID Task Force, covered a piece of lumber with rusty nails and beat me over the face with it. Or they’re imploding. Or they’re just giving up and don’t give a fuck anymore.

Personal responsibility is not public health.

It’s quite literally antithetical to the word “public,” to the concept of public health. The scope of public health is, of course, to protect the community and the public, not cowtow to airline CEOs and Blue MAGAts that stopped caring the minute they were protected and found out it was just the Blacks and Browns, and the poors, mostly being affected.

A few problems with their Spring 2022 approach:

“We Have Solid Leadership”

No. We don’t.

We have people that tell us to live with COVID, while giving us no means to do so, or to spell out the risks of it so everyone understands.

We have people who lead by gaslighting; who say that COVID can be managed safely, while showing the world how they do it without disclosing the vast privileges they have above and beyond what average Americans have access to.

This is not leadership, and more and more we’re now hearing stories about people getting very sick, because they simply didn’t know any better but to listen to the President of the United States, whose primary focus is to keep you spending money and working more.

Perhaps the most disingenuous aspect of COVID in the US right now is in the vaccinations. Beyond the lie that we would have an Omicron vaccine by now, or that we could tweak the vaccines quickly, is the scandal of letting data sit for other vaccines while people die. Novavax has been on the FDA’s desk since January, Covaxin pediatric vaccine was denied with no reason; parents are being forced to wait for Moderna so Pfizer has an equal shot at getting product in arms. Did you all know that in the UK they have 6 vaccines? In Canada they have 8. Why do we deserve only a couple, and why are we not getting some honesty with the American people that for the vast majority, they’re as good as not vaccinated at this point?

Oh I know. Because corporations and the economic outlook.

Less than 50% of Americans are boosted. 30% of Americans boosted over 6 months ago. The vaccines don’t last forever, Karen… in fact, they don’t even last a year, which means that many people have zero protection; and Omicron BA 1 conferred no protection.

Did you get that? None.

We don’t have leaders warning people, telling people that now the question isn’t have you gotten COVID, but how many times have you had it? We have no one out in front being frank about the risks of getting long COVID, or a more serious case, with each successive infection.

If you all read nothing else I have to say, read this: the President of the United States does not give a fuck about you. They tell you you can take off your mask without knowing your personal health status. They tell you it’s safe because they want you spending money, and because some political consultant with his head up his ass thought it would help with the Midterms. They tell you “we have the tools” without funding those tools so that you can have them too.

And now they make jokes about it, as they did Saturday night. 1 million Americans are dead, millions more disabled; but the White House Correspondence Dinner was a good time to crack jokes at the expense of those victims, at an event held amidst unprecedented springtime community transmission nationally.

“We Have the Tools”

No. We don’t.

They do, and I guess for them that’s all that matters. But in many communities, Paxlovid and other treatments, including the preventative monoclonal Evushield, are still just… not widely available.

(And also, the United States is urgently studying whether or not Paxlovid and Mulnipovir have a widely observed infection rebound effect, which is fucking great if you want the drugs to be worthless by the fall/winter surge.)

There is no vaccine for the variants currently circulating, either.

No improved ventilation, pretty much anywhere.

But it isn’t even just that. In many areas, testing and vaccinations are gone for the uninsured. The free at home tests have run out, so have the masks you can pick up in the pharmacy. Congress has failed to pass funding for COVID, which we all saw coming when they gutted it from their omnibus budget (more than 50% of which was for military spending) earlier in the year. They always say “we’ll do it later, as a separate bill.” But as with their social spending bill that was burned to the ground by a single Democratic senator from West Virginia: it’s all smoke and bluster up the bum.

We also don’t have a CDC with integrity, an FDA free of special interest, and a White House COVID Task Force with an actual strategy.

“We Know What To Do”

No. We don’t.

At the same time the White House was hosting a poorly ventilated, mask-less, super-spreader this weekend, Amazon was making the announcement that they would no longer be offering 5 days of sick pay to employees who test positive for COVID 19. As a replacement, they offer 5 excused, unpaid days.

Personal responsibility as a response to a public health crisis.

Companies have already been doing this, but Amazon’s official change in practice will be the opening of the dam for the rest of the water to break. COVID protections in the workplace are over.

If an employee tests positive, they don’t know what to do. Go to work? Or stay home? If they stay home, how will they pay the bills?

They don’t know.

If a coworker tests positive, and you have an immune-compromising condition or comorbidity, are you protected? Don’t know. Should you wear a mask? Not sure. Should you get tested? Where?

No substantive public policy was ever made to address ventilation in the workplace, nor guarantee sick pay to protect others. We have the tools? We know what to do? We have leadership on this? The fuck we do.

But it isn’t just that. An important tool for people to assess their personal risk – given their own health conditions and vaccination status – is to know conditions on the ground in their own communities. But by and large, states and counties have cut further and further back on reporting. In California, we now only get numbers twice a week; in my county, it’s only on Mondays. Moreover, the CDC completely redefined their levels of transmission, and COVID ACT NOW has eliminated the rate of transmission on any portion of their website (while claiming it’s still available).

Information is another kind of tool, and it’s being intentionally restricted. Why? I have my suspicions, and I’ll meet you at Applebees to discuss it. (See what I did there?)

We can talk later until we are blue in the faces about why this is happening, and the real crisis of morals America – nay, the world – finds itself in. For now, we need to focus on the fix. What is the solution at this point? For myself, I’m not sure. I’m doing everything I can to keep my own family safe, but finding it increasingly more difficult to do so when I don’t even know what is lingering on the other side of our front door.

The Biden Administration has made themselves abundantly clear, and beyond just being about economic interests, I believe it’s about election prospects this year as well. But letting the pandemic reach it’s most fucked up point yet, with more people than ever saying that at least with Trump we had funding (I would be one of them), it’s hard to see how the Democrats can expect to do anything but lose this year. Bigly.

The consequences of this of course will be disastrous, but what do we do? Sit and lie, gaslight even ourselves and say everything is fine? Or do the opposite: advocate louder and harder for a reverse course, even if it means Blue MAGA cancels us as radical and “anti-vax” (an absurd accusation unto its own that has grown among elite, neoliberal Democratic circles in recent weeks).

But I am still an optimist on this, probably to a fault. It’s never too late to fix this. To admit mistakes, take responsibility, and kick COVID in the balls.

There’s that word again though. Responsibility. The government is making damn sure to demand it from us, while making it impossible for anyone to really and truly do so in a way that is ethical and fair.

And, at the same time, they are running away from any of it themselves.

You can’t point the finger forever though. At some point, you’re left with no one to point at but yourself. I just hope we change course before that’s all that’s left.

The Newsletter: Issue #9

Welp folks, I’m 40. Fuck everything.

I can say in all honesty that I never in a million years expected to live this long. I’m not sure why. I feel 100, and also 12. Who knows what’s next? It’s just a number, and to be honest this doesn’t really change anything at all or mean anything.

Still…

Around the World

Not all of you live in California, or the United States, so I imagine this needs a bit of primer.

In America, we like our United States Senators to be old. And I don’t just mean old… I mean these fucks could drop dead any day. It’s sad, because they should be enjoying their Golden Years watching TV and doing crafts, but these folks have a tendency to get into office and then hang onto it with the life force of Skeletor’s death grip.

This week, the San Francisco Chronicle published a piece in which several colleagues (as in Democratic Senators) and former aides to United States Senator Diane Feinstein attested to her cognitive decline over the last several months. Those of us in California for whom she is one of our two senators know that her husband recently died, so she may arguably be a bit distracted. Nonetheless the woman is in her 80s (88 to be exact), and as with many of them… aging fast.

This calls into question not only her ability to serve in her office now – making major decisions on behalf of the American people, but until her term is over, still years from now. She has since issued a statement that she plans to – and claims she is capable of – continuing her tenancy in office; but the rest of us are left wondering… why? Why does a United States Senator choose to spend every last breath of their lives in office for a little over $100K a year and a good parking spot at the airport?

Especially one like Feinstein, whose net worth now stands above $87 million.

I – for one – am all in favor of term limits for holding public office. Nancy Pelosi is another, who is 82 years old and running for another two years. These people play games with the lives of over 340 million Americans – from choices about war, to how social spending is (or is not) to be had. And when it comes of an appropriate time to retire, to head to Florida to live out the lives of the Golden Girls (or some similar retired folks anecdote), they instead choose to hang on to office for as long as they can.

I have my own thoughts, and a lot of others have theirs. On one hand, I do believe you have some politicians who have been doing it for so long that they just don’t know what they’d do in retirement. Or, they had an agenda when they first got elected, and because government moves so slow have yet to finish it.

But I think the real crux of it, especially in cases like Feinstein and Pelosi, can be found in what they block while in office.

Nancy Pelosi, as one example, has been opposed to bills that would limit what types of, if any, investments elected officials can make while in office. Unlike our Governor – Gavin Newsom, who placed all of his investments and businesses into a blind trust when he entered public office – many other elected officials go on to hold robust stock portfolios. And whether anyone will admit it or not, they cash in when they are privy to information that will affect the stock market before it happens.

For people like Martha Stewart, or average schmucks like us, this is called insider trading, and comes with hefty prison sentences. But for people like Feinstein and Pelosi, or the same on the other side like those two Republicans from Georgia that lost in the January ’21 special election, it’s a blip in the news, and no one is ever held accountable.

Election reform, again, would go a long way to correct this. But then that would require the elected officials to vote for the types of reforms that would stop them from doing all of this, so… I guess we shouldn’t hold our breath on that one.

Around My World

Things are getting pretty grim around my neighborhood. The new one, that is.

We are at war with our duplex neighbor, who is psychotic and has come banging on our door in the middle of the night more than once. She complained to our landlord about alleged noise, and rather than come to our defense and talk to her about her crazy behavior, the landlord decided instead to take her side, warn us about noise (our 5 year old giggling…), and say they were going to do nothing about it.

So we’ve also had several maintenance issues come up with, what appears to be, just years of neglect of the home. The circuit breaker is outdated, and so our lights all over the house intermittently flicker if more than one light or appliance is on at a time. When we told the landlord, they sent out an electrician and then tried to blame it on us. So we just deal with that and hope no one has a non-epileptic seizure. The duplex neighbor has also made damn sure that our kids don’t play out back by encouraging her elderly mother to chain smoke in the backyard. After one asthma attack by my little guy, that sealed off use of the backyard for us.

The real kicker is in the pedophile down the street. I thought this guy was a little off, if you know what I mean. His wife pumps iron in the garage like a body builder, and he shuffles around smoking a pipe all day and all night. One night, my 14 year old daughter was just walking the dogs up and down the street, and he started following her. So this guy is a … creep…

Last week, my husband was heading out on a run one day when all of a sudden he came running in screaming my name. Our house was completely lined with sheriffs and unmarked cars full of guys in suits. My driveway was blocked, and the neighbors all around pretty much acted like it was your average day around here. We saw a K9 unit go in and then come out with a black bag.

No one left. No one was taken away. Just… the black bag…

So we’re looking for a way out. Frankly, I’m not sure how much longer we’re going to be able to do it. At least it’s good for some stories?

You Can’t Unsee This

I’ve been thinking there’s some haunted presence in this entire neighborhood since we moved here two months ago. I even wondered if the flickering lights through out our duplex unit are actually just a ghost.

Two nights ago, I fell asleep on the couch in the living room and around 4:45 in the morning woke up to what sounded like someone knocking on the back patio sliding glass door (which runs parallel to the couch I was sleeping on). I dismissed it and went to sleep again, too tired to go to bed; only to wake up in the morning to see that shortly after I had woken up, our front door camera (titled “Christine Watch” for our psycho neighbor) had pinged my phone with a “Human Detection.”

Except, as you can see, there was no one there.

STFU Fridays

I think I’ve said this before, but for real this time: shut the fuck about “COVID is over.” It isn’t. Every time you dumbasses rejoice and rip off your masks and start having parties, and shit, COVID comes raging back.

If you are paying attention, the cases in the United States – as in other places around the world – are beginning again to increase. As are hospitalizations, and the deaths will follow (in fact, in some places deaths are increasing more quickly than cases, indicating woefully inadequate and faulty testing). This is all happening probably because of a relaxing of protection; or more of that seasonal bullshit (although I don’t know any other specific virus that circulates seasonally as in all the time, unpredictably, in every season…). There was also recently a huge outbreak at a political event in DC, in which more than 11% of attendees contracted the virus. That is an alarmingly high number of people to be infected as a part of an outbreak, and to make matters worse the management of the venue refused to disclose how many employees got it to.

There’s also a new variant, which has mainly gastrointestinal symptoms, so I’ve really enjoyed the dozens of posts in the Facebook moms groups about this “crazy stomach bug going around that also has a cough.” I mean come on, get tested and stay the fuck home.

And while we’re at it, maybe stop with this “we have the tools” horse shit. Yes, vaccines and antivirals are available, but available is not equal to effective tools that everyone can avail themselves of. Vaccines have limits, too; we know this now. The efficacy of them wanes, even the second booster and even with protection from hospitalization. And antivirals… maybe if you’re a wealthy elite, you have access to them readily. But a lot of people have no access, or limited access; and hardly any insurance companies are planning to cover them (this includes ours, which has it marked as Non Formulary).

The problem is that the more y’all don’t shut the fuck up with these trite and dismissive comments is you give our leaders no reason whatsoever to continue doing anything, ie funding, the effort. So stop. Even if things are looking better.

To me it’s like: why tempt fate? Why call it over, say we’re good now, when you just do not know? No one knows, this is a pandemic! A once in a lifetime event! Maybe have some humility and accept you don’t know everything, err on the side of caution, and realize that people exist on this planet other than you.

That, and shut the fuck up.

The Newsletter: Issue #8

Well anyway, we are getting settled in our new home. I hesitate to call it a home, because when you do that you get attached and if I learned one thing at our old place it’s: do not get attached. Nevertheless, we are settling in at least for now. We aren’t sure how long we’re going to stay here, but we’re making it work in the meantime.

World’s still gone crazy while my move was going on, so let’s get to it.

Around the World

Okay folks, so y’all decided to fuck around with loosening of COVID precautions, and now we are all going to find out.

Cases in other places of the world – in particular Southeast Asia, Europe, England and Scotland, and Canada – with the new sub variant of Omicron BA 2 are exploding, but what is particularly alarming to me (beyond the US again thinking we’ll go by unscathed) is that hospitalizations in some of those countries are at their highest points of the last two years. This is not good. With symptoms more severe than Omi 1, absolutely no prior infection with Omi offering protection, an R0 estimated by some between 22 and 38… and no one – and I mean no one – giving a literal shit whatsoever about any of us… welp friends…

What’s so chilling for me is that corporations and the political elite have completely ripped off the veil. Like really, they have shown all the cards in their hand. They do not give a fuck about any of us. At all. They have the tools, so now fuck all of us. Eat Lord Omi and die, right?

Not this lady, if I can help it. I hope you all are taking adequate protections too.

The other thing going on still, obviously, is the situation with Ukraine and Russia, but there are two things about that I would like to highlight:

First is that the Democratic Party has failed to fund COVID, has failed to secure any social programs – including the continuation of the Child Tax Credit, failed to fulfill campaign promises (in particular that student loan forgiveness one), and has, for the most part, failed to adequately protect us from whatever COVID had to offer… but now they’re all contemptuous of us all for (rightfully) asking just what in the fuck they’re doing for us, while they send literally billions in aid over to Ukraine.

This is and has always been my problem with the Democratic Party: they are elected to do very clear and specific things, and they instead do what they want (which also happens to not be those specific things). They were elected to deal with COVID, provide the working class a better quality of life, and address voting rights and systemic racism. Instead it’s economy, police budgets, and military spending that comprises more than 50% of the entire fiscal year budget.

Think about that for a second. 56% of the budget is for military drones and soldiers to fly around in jet packs. The other day, whatever dumbass is running Biden’s Twitter account tweeted something about how his father always said that to know a man’s priorities, look at his budget. Fucking shooting people and playing big dick around the world as a military superpower appears to be this administration’s priority. The people? Fuck us.

Now I suppose I need to preface this by saying that I totally and completely support helping Ukraine and, by extension, keeping America safe. Putin is a monster, and the war was totally unjustified (in my opinion all war is – for the most part – unjustified); and we are in a pretty scary moment of world history, what with fascism rising all over the world. Nevertheless, it is fair to ask why the American people are being asked to sacrifice, struggle, deal with rising prices brought on by sanctions, and watch billions and billions of our tax dollars being sent overseas, when we can’t even get any fucking healthcare. My daughter needs an MRI on her knees right now, and our share of cost on our insurance (that we pay $1300 a month in premiums for) is 7% of our monthly take home pay. So sure… do all your military spending and big dick drones and jet packs and shit… but can you throw us a fucking bone too? Anyone?

To make matters on this worse: today, a study showed that the sanctions have actually not even done anything to harm the relationships between Russians and Putin. In fact, in his closest circle (the oligarchs)… it strengthened their ties to the country and that fascist fuck. So basically bread and pasta now costs half your paycheck, and you have to wonder how to drive to work tomorrow amidst soaring gas prices from gas and oil company CEOs taking advantage of the situation to make a profit… welp, for nothing.

Well done Dems. Well done. Now, thanks to this incompetence and corruption, the entire world is staring down the barrel of Trump outpolling Biden in 2024 by 6 points. Well. Fucking. Done.

Around My World

Over the years, I have gotten so many requests from people for merch. You guys know what I’m talking about; if you’re reading this, you may even have been one of the people to ask. I’m not talking about merchandise that has something dumb, like my name or my photo; rather has all the dumb shit I say.

So in a couple of weeks I’ll be launching a shop where you can get all of those things on t-shirts and masks and mugs and such. If you have requests, put them in. Here is my favorite one related to the pandemic (but point of clarification: they are not all related to the pandemic):

Other than that, you guys know I turn forty this month. 15 days. I’m staring at it with bags under my eyes and creaks in my bones. Like literally, every year I get more creaky; today I was walking up the stairs and my knees sounded like a bowl of Rice Krispies. TikTok says I look like a teenager, so I guess I have that going for me. Whatever the case may be: it’s coming, and it’s coming fast.

My kids and now my mom keep asking what I want to do for my birthday. Thinking about it is exhausting; but also, all of their ideas kind of don’t sound very fun. Fundamentally, I’ve been a student in higher education for so long that I’ve not really taken any time to identify with my interests beyond that and being a mom for decades. Now that I’m no longer a student, and I’m just a mom, I still need time to figure out what I really am… in to? I just don’t see figuring all of that out in two week’s time.

You Can’t Unsee This

So we live in a duplex. The lady that is attached to ours is a crazy ass bitch; like not a good crazy bitch – like “you crazy bitch get over here and do shots with me.” Like this bitch is so crazy we bought an outdoor security system and named the camera for the front door after her: Christine Watch.

On the other side of our front door, though, is another front door that we share the walkway with. This couple lives in Texas for most of the year, but uses the house when they come to visit their adult daughters. These people are the squarest fucking people I have ever met. The husband’s name is Bert, and I’m pretty sure this guy invented high wasted khaki pants for men. Not even joking.

Bert and Betty’s house had water damage to it, and they’re doing all kinds of mold remediation and renovating as a result. So today the French doors were open and these guys were pulling up the flooring, and I look out my window to see into their courtyard (because the doors are open), and what do I see other than a life-size statue of a fucking samurai.

So Bert in his high wasted khaki flood pants, and Betty with her weekly trips to Applebees with the girls, who live in Texas and only live here (here: a gated community in the town that invented the Karen) when visiting their adult daughters, have a life-sized samurai staring at them from their courtyard in the middle of their duplex. Don’t get me wrong, I think the samurai is really cool. But it doesn’t fit their quilts and mallard duck nicknacks aesthetic, if you know what I mean.

This place gets stranger by the day.

STFU Fridays

Today’s STFU Friday is a little tangential; nevertheless, it’s something that’s been bothering me. People that refer to Trump as “tfg.”

I’m sure many of you are among them. Maybe this is the final straw for you and I, and to that I bid you adieu.

Honestly, though, what is the deal? Is it that you have some sort of PTSD when you hear his name? Is it that you don’t want to give him any more airtime? What is it?

“TFG,” which – for those that didn’t know – is what many people colloquially refer to Trump as, ie “the former guy,” is such a bizarre trend. I get that it’s playing allegiance to Biden, who refers to him as “the former guy,” and so in that sense it’s a cute little Biden fan club thing, but FUCK THAT, you guys.

First of all, I can see that it’s a part of not wanting to give that deranged Cheetoh in a toupee any more airtime, but y’all are failing whether you call him “Trump,” “tfg,” or “Almighty Orange One.” The point is that talking about him but changing what you refer to him as does not change the fact that you are still fucking talking about him, and honestly – really – it’s time to stop. I see all these Biden Stan accounts on Twitter that are fan-girling the President so hard, but at the same time they are bitching and griping about Trump like he’s still in fucking office. He’s not. He lost. I don’t care if he thinks he won; he lost. Focus on the people in power, holding them accountable, and making sure they don’t fuck up (which they are doing while y’all still bitch about Trump).

This is why you are giving Trump exactly what he wants: no matter what you call him, you’re still talking about him. Just. STAHP.

And anyway, it’s not like he’s some super villain with magic powers who grows more powerful the more you say his name. This isn’t Peter Pan where you have to say you believe in fairies for them to be real, and for Tinkerbell to survive. Literally Trump is real whether you say his name or call him The Goya Buttplug Salesman. The more y’all act like calling him tfg will change the very real and certain danger he poses to all of us, the more of a danger he becomes because you are missing the point, and being distracted with stupid, pedantic nonsense.

There’s also this sort of collective trauma I’ve noticed, where we’re all just supposed to be so grateful that he’s not president anymore, that any time anyone points out a failure or flaw in Biden’s policy, or the Democrats at large, a whole slew of “Vote Blue No Matter Who” bros come out of the woodwork, and say dumb shit like “at least he’s not tfg.” Yeah, no shit Debra, we fucking voted for him to not be like Trump, so maybe it’s time to start calling people by their actual names and holding all of them fucking accountable for what they’ve done these last several years.

I don’t know maybe try that.

So to them, the Biden Stans, the hardcore Dems, the people that think saying his name will somehow give him more power… I have to say grow up, and shut the fuck up.

The Newsletter: Issue #7

So…

Does anyone know just what the fuck is going on in the world? I sure don’t.

In any event, let’s try to dissect it.

Around the World

So admittedly, I was really busy in January and February looking to secure housing for myself and my family. I mentioned in Newsletter #6 that we had been served a termination of tenancy (let’s call it what it was: an eviction without cause). And so I had to really get that all sorted and was a little busy to pay much attention to the two things in the world that went completely sideways whilst I was largely occupied.

First, COVID has gone even more bananas than around Thanksgiving, when Lord Omicron took the reigns and unleashed unprecedented and largely unmitigated fury through out the United States (and the better part of the world). Now, Omi is still everywhere, but even more toxic and deadly are the pollsters advising the Democrats and Republicans alike that COVID can’t just be controlled… it has to be forgotten, or it’s goodbye Midterms.

So now, when community transmission levels are largely at the same level they were when my husband contracted COVID back in December 2020, as well as at the peak of the Delta surge over the summer, the CDC and Biden folks have decided that they now have the power to redefine what words and figures mean, and what was high before is now low. The economy is public health, actually… didn’t you know? Take off your masks folks! Get back to work! Get back into the restaurants and spend, spend, spend!

But it didn’t end there. On the same day that the CDC released their updated guidance and community transmission levels, it was reported that hundreds of children actually died of COVID during the last two months, and that the efficacy of the vaccine for ages 5-11 comes in after only a few months at an abysmal 12%. Moreover, kids under 5 still do not have a vaccine, and while the Biden Administration’s forward-going plans include a massive effort to vaccinate that age group when it’s approved, no such timeline has been offered for it. (Oh yeah, and there’s that pesky little detail that they’re out of money, all this depends on them getting more money from Congress, and they haven’t even ordered more than 10% of the planned Paxlovid treatments yet.) Still…

Also, the CDC Director in a very purposeful statement correlated masks not just to an object of sound and proven public health mitigation that acts as an astoundingly effective Non Pharmaceutical Intervention when done properly, but to one that was at the same time a mark of shame. This lady – who, along with all of her other colleagues at the CDC continue to work remotely at least until April (according to the internal memo released just last week) – branded masks a mark of shame, calling them publicly “a Scarlet Letter.”

For those unfamiliar with the book, The Scarlet Letter is about a woman back centuries ago in New England who had an affair with a priest, got pregnant with his baby, but kept the secret so was branded as the town ho, forced to wear a red letter A on her clothing for the rest of her life to make clear that she was a woman of ill-repute, an Adulterer who should be scorned and shamed.

Masks. A scarlet letter.

Second, of course, is the Ukraine situation, which is just a fucking nightmare and so evident to me about a bigger plan by Putin to restore the Soviet Union and – I don’t know – destroy the world. More on that next time I suppose, maybe I’ll be calm enough to talk more about it when my Potassium Iodine is delivered.

Around My World

So I did end up securing housing for my family of six, and what a wild adventure it has been.

And by adventure, I naturally mean I’m surprised I lived to tell the story.

We did have to relocate to a neighboring city, which is unfortunate and pretty overwhelming still for my kids. But, as all moms do, I’m figuring out how to completely change my own life – yet again – to make it work out so they can spend a large bulk of their time every week still back in the community from whence we came with their social groups and friends and such.

Otherwise, the house is pretty nice. We have it all set up. I’ll share a post about it later, actually – the house itself; and the strange parts about the neighborhood… but what’s big is that I’ve decided to use our own experience as a catalyst for another blog series, in which I share my own story, as well as interviews with other renters, experts, and advocates in the housing apocalypse that is going on in California right now. You won’t want to miss this, it’s coming April 1st – and both I and many of my interviewees are naming names on this one.

So consider this your official announcement, and if you still haven’t signed up to get these babies in your email box, now’s the time!

You Can’t Unsee This

I just love this new feature of the newsletter because it’s deliciously horrid and hilarious – all wrapped up into one.

Admittedly, I did not watch the State of the Union earlier in the week. For one, those are historically boring speeches loaded with lies and propaganda; and I knew I would get the highlights from my dad and Twitter.

Of note, I was disturbed to see that weird clip of tipsy Pelosi standing and rubbing her knuckles together like some fucking weirdo; and I was confused to hear the president refer to the Ukrainians as “Iranians” (like is reading from a teleprompter that difficult?). And naturally, all the bragging and praising of the maskless crowd infuriated me. Why? Because all the praise by Op Ed pundits at the Washington Post failed to be clear with average Americans that the only thing that actually made that safe was that PCR testing was required, and had identified a number of cases in advance. Quick and convenient PCR tests are still – after all this time – not readily available to all Americans.

What really got me was hearing about, and later seeing this photo from Reuters make the rounds, of Boebert and the other one heckling the president. Now look, I’m not always a fan of him, and I think his COVID response in the end was a total fucking joke… but heckling the President of the United States at the State of the Union? Just trash. Take it to the junk yard, ladies.

This meme I saw perfectly encapsulates that moment though, and is now all I think about when I hear someone mention those two:

STFU Fridays

So as I said, we’re in a new home and it’s a duplex. I kind of figured that it would come with the territory that we would hear some of what goes on over there, and they’d hear some of what goes on over here.

The first day we were moving stuff over, the neighbor came over and introduced herself. Her name is Christine and the first words out of her mouth were “are you generally quiet people?”

Depends on what you mean by quiet.

In reality, we are generally quiet people, but I do have kids and – you know – some things that just have to be done. Like dishes; which I assume most people do. But lo and behold, last night Christine came over at 11:15 at night to complain about noise she heard. The only thing I can think is that we were doing dishes… but honestly also, who comes over at 11:15 in the evening and rings another person’s doorbell?

The bottom line, of course, is that when evaluating whether or not you should actually say something, to anyone about anything actually, is that you should first shut your fucking mouth, open your fucking brain, and consider whether or not you should shut the fuck up about the topic permanently. It would have been one thing if we were blaring music, having parties, screaming and slamming furniture into the walls in the middle of the night – all things, ironically, we have heard Christine do repeatedly (in particular on nights when her gentleman friend that drives a Tesla comes over).

But just asking “are you quiet people”? Or having the audacity to come over to a person’s house in the middle of the night to demand they stop doing chores?

I mean… shut your fucking mouth, open your fucking brain, and consider whether not you should just…

Part 5: The Infection Was Initially Mild

Welcome to the 5th part of my 5 Part Series: The Infection Was Initially Mild: My Small Town City Council Run, the Toxic American Pandemic Response, and What Both Mean For the Future Of the Country. 

You can also read the entire series now, download it in entirety in PDF format, catch the disclaimers in the Introduction, listen to it on Text to Speech (I have to warn you it’s a little awkward), or watch the Text to Speech on YouTube.

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CLICK HERE for The Infection Was Initially Mild Landing Page

So this is the thing about politics: the wound started out incredibly small. The infection was initially mild. 

The coronavirus pandemic, and everything that came with it, quickly put on display everything that is wrong with this country. Our politics are too local. Our response is too rooted in money. Personality has become too much a part of policy making. Messaging  – not policy, or simply right or wrong – is a make or break tool, which is absurd when you really get down to it. What begins as something minor can explode into a big problem, a crisis, in a matter of just days. This is exactly what has happened.

Politicians on every level showed themselves to be incapable of handling the crisis before them. On my city council, we had so many people that couldn’t see past years of just saying what sounded best; and they failed to anticipate that this would result in a rapid erosion of trust in the community. 

When COVID first hit the United States, two of the residents of our city were on that first cruise that returned with the illness. The patients – Patients 0 and 1 for our community – were ill for a week or more before they were even tested. When we all finally found out that they had, in fact, come back with SARS-COV2, naturally the public had questions. I asked several of our city council members if we knew the locations the people had been: when I come home from a vacation, I’ll do things like take an Uber, go grocery shopping, if we came down with a cold or flu we’d go to the pharmacy. One city councilmember replied to me “well we should hope that the community helped them get what they needed so they could isolate.” Except they didn’t even know they had COVID yet, and so the trust began to erode in those earliest days for many of us. Unfortunately, and on every level, it didn’t take long before it was all lost. 

My city council race was nothing particularly unique; in fact, it was exactly what every other race in America is like. It is exactly what the future of America may end up being. People that run for water boards and school boards today get into the same type of toxic political wielding that the president does. We would be foolish to believe this is not intentional.

In fact, I know it is; as do many within the upper echelons of the two, major political parties. When I was interning at the end of my undergraduate degree, I went to the California Democratic Party’s annual convention in Sacramento as the denouement of my internship. I still vividly remember meeting with my academic advisor afterwards where I described to him the talk I attended by some group presenting what they called The Red Takeover. This was the Republican Party’s plan to takeover American politics by filling in every non partisan seat they could with party line favorites. It didn’t even matter if the people were qualified or had experience in government or public policy; all that mattered was that they were allegiant to the party and its ideologies, at all costs. My advisor’s face filled with horror as we talked about this, and – as idealistic as every other college student – I giggled and said “but that’ll never happen.” 

At the retirement community’s candidate’s event – the one where the moderator was an ardent supporter of my opponent – one question came up about what our political affiliations were. A non partisan seat in name only, it was still well known that he and I had both taken Party endorsements, and yet he had claimed on his campaign signs to be Independent, so someone was trying to draw out of him the truth. In his answer, he admitted his allegiance to the right-wing faction of the GOP, and then went on in a whisper of a voice, leaning in to the microphone, about how the thing to remember about me – me, remember he was campaigning on not being me, rather than his own merits – was that the Democrats had an insidious plot to install puppets in non partisan seats all over the country. Projecting as many good Republicans do, he slithered this accusation into the microphone, while I realized that he was also probably right. Not that I was some Blue puppet going to takeover the council with the Democrats’ agenda. But the plot he described was quite clearly real overall. It was over 15 years ago that I saw that presentation at the California Democratic Party’s convention, and the truth was that I had left halfway through it. I didn’t even stay to hear the part I should have stayed to hear: that the Democrats were planning to align their strategy with the Republican’s, to fight fire with fire. They both planned to do it, and today it appears that they’ve been successful.

This, surely, is how in my own city we could have a nurse sitting on the city council, in the middle of a pandemic, doing absolutely nothing for public health and nurses. When the nurse’s union approached me about an endorsement, it was mainly to air grievances about how they did not feel protected while working in our community when a secondcity council member (my opponent) sits or sat on the board of the local healthcare district. After the election, this clear preference to party politics and staying in office superseded what was right – with the pandemic, as well as a host of other measures that came before the city council that would impact the quality of life, health, and safety of our residents. With all of them, and not just in this city council. Once it became so evident to me that all of our non-partisan seats were simply puppets installed with wads of cash and a familiar name, it was easy to identify just who landed on which side, and why so much had gone wrong.

This isn’t to say that there’s anything particularly wrong with people choosing a side – so to speak – and then running for office. It’s what I did. But they have to be allowed to deviate from the Party on certain issues, and there still has to be some core aspect of them that is fundamentally qualified to lead independently. This, I feel, is like antibiotics to an infection that left otherwise alone would become deadly. 

Instead of this though, what has happened, is that Party leaders have taken up the practice of handpicking who will run; they groom their candidates. This happens in big Party leadership – where the Party decides and elevates high profile figures to run for big ticket offices. And it happens, probably more prevalently and dangerously, in local political party-affiliated groups. People in my community have handpicked and installed – either by genuine and well funded elections, or by appointment after someone retires mid-term or dies – a handful of puppets to take seats they are otherwise not qualified for. 

This has only been made worse with the rise of influence of social media, and culture wars stoked by both Parties meant to politicize otherwise non-politically divisive issues. Examples of this would be masks in schools and what textbooks are used to teach middle schoolers sex education or history. Critical Race Theory, Black lives matter, and the concept of systemic racism. False flag and rallying around a cause have always been used as political rhetorical devices, but thanks to class Party politics and growing divisions, stoking the flames of these cultural divisions only stands to make it all the more easy for political parties to hijack these hot button issues to win non partisan elections. Even though none of them truly believe in any of it. 

How this relates to a real crisis – be it the pandemic, or something more long term like homelessness – is that then you have these bodies in place of leaders that are simply ill-equipped to handle what’s been put before them. 

These people, these political drones that run on slogans and pep rallies, are so tuned in to suiting only the interests of their donors and their ideologies, that this is how they approach a crisis that affects everyone. With the pandemic, we saw it on the local county and city level with small businesses. Small businesses make up such a large percentage of campaign contributors in my community that this became the default beneficiary of CAREs funding when it was time to doll that out. In a public health crisis, public health was a mere afterthought; county supervisors were mostly concerned with when weddings would again be allowed, and how soon the malls could be back to full capacity. FEMA-funded programs, like meals for seniors and free hotels for COVID positive isolations, quickly were shut down the first chance they could as well, because while seniors were still hungry and people in multigenerational households still had a hard time isolating from vulnerable family members, the interests of restaurant and hotel owners came first. As things began to open up, community leaders branded those that still stayed home as selfish and hurting small business. This is how far afield we’ve gone in our thinking: that as community members, if we don’t support their donors, as we support them, we are in the wrong. 

Moreover, it’s become even more evident over the years that on some level, many of the people both in elected and appointed office don’t even believe in the principles on which America was founded. 

The GOP so clearly does not believe in representative democracy; while the Democrats have stopped pandering to the idea that there is such a thing as a social contract. Now in office for over a year, some interviews of White House staff and advisors include comments from these people outright saying as such. And in local Democratic groups and more Conservative organizations just the same? Talk to any of them and they don’t even know what a social contract is. If the two political parties do not even believe on some level in the government they are elected to run, what – really – is left? When we entrust them with our lives, as the social contract dictates, and they in turn do not even attempt to keep up their end of the bargain, we know that America’s disease has raged so far beyond a point, it may not be possible to bring it back from the brink. 

Perhaps the evidence of just how deadly our infection in American politics truly is can be found in the politicization of the pandemic response. When I say this though I don’t mean things like “masks are for Democrats,” or “Republicans are antivaxxers.” Beyond the fact that statistically speaking, neither of those is an entirely true statement, rather the issue of each is nuanced and rooted in a variety of issues (some political, while others socio-economic and racial), those are not the real sentiments that have politicized the pandemic. 

It’s been in how decisions at all levels of government have been made.

At some point, it became evident that pandemic policy was going to be dictated not by what was right or wrong, but how people would react. This alone is the very definition of politicization. Mask policies were not a blue state or red state thing, rather an issue of whether or not polls came back stating people would wear them or thought they were useful. Critical voter blocks were polled, rather than scientists and doctors. Mandates for vaccines or vaccine verification were made, or not made, on Party line philosophies, as well – not on the truly empirical evidence that showed the efficacy of vaccines (the shots, not the mandates). 

My problem as a candidate, and an organizer and advocate since, is that I have failed to jump in on that Party line. In return, I’m accused of being everything: a socialist, a communist, a radical, an idiot, an anti-vaxxer, a conspirator, a Trump apologist, a CCP agent, a demon sent from hell to inject people with COVID vaccine. Everything. My status as just as much not a puppet for the Democratic Party as not a puppet for the GOP became clear to many of them when, quite some time after the election, I criticized a decision of Joe Biden’s on Twitter. Suddenly I was seen as a liability to the Democrats, too “progressive” in my thinking. Some thought it was a sign I was a Republican plant (I can assure you all, I am not that interesting). It really doesn’t matter in the end who I was with, though; the point was that I was not blindly allegiant to any of them, which we see now – on both sides – gets you kicked out. And this is the real crux of the argument: the Democrats and the Republicans are just one club of infected political ideologues. Blue MAGA, Red MAGA – both are fundamentally MAGA.

And as Carlin says: “it’s a big club, and you ain’t in it.”

The truth is, I advocate for what I think is right. I really, and truly, believe simply in improving our material conditions and quality of life. I really, and truly, believe this can be done from the standpoint of public health. At the end of the day, almost all things can lead you down that road. Typically, I can argue for this from the perspective of facts and reason; unfortunately, though, those are two things that come as a threat to those unable to easily use them when those very things confront the sycophantic drones of either Party. 

When I was running for city council, early on, another candidate who was deep into the local Democratic Party contacted me to lecture me about FEC laws and my campaign materials. In it she offered to bring another Dem Party “insider” to help me out. Having worked on so many campaigns in my life, as well as for the labor unions, I knew how it all worked already. Should I have been insulted that she didn’t know this? Maybe, but then I didn’t have time to be offended. The truth is, I barely had the time to run the campaign, let alone do that and play extraneous personality politics. I thanked her and politely mentioned that I was aware so wouldn’t need the help. Perhaps that was my mistake; but with the little time I had to run my city council campaign, I didn’t prioritize humoring local political party “insiders” (if you can call them that) on my schedule. 

I rarely heard from any of the local Democrats again after that. So I stopped worrying much about what they thought, stayed true to myself, and in turn got into a lot of trouble with the locals. 

When a local mom blogger, who is in local politics insofar as she’s on committees but is too narcissistic and unhinged for me to pay much attention to, was drunk-posting on Facebook about another mom not tipping enough to her Instacart driver, I commented “maybe she simply didn’t have the money but still needed the service? Could she be COVID positive?” This became her rallying cry to consider me the loose cannon that other Democrats had “warned” her about. She’s had a target on my back since.

But those were more personality politics than they were policy politics. Of course on those I got into trouble too.

When locals that had called on the community to stay home, social distance, and do the right thing all along, were suddenly having parties, going to work sick, and bragging about going into stores mask-less because they had been vaccinated, while children out in the community still were not, I called them out and asked them to please hold the line to protect kids. 

Another rallying cry.

I wrote our city council, asking them why they broke from the state’s mask guidance, making masks optional even as children in our community were being hospitalized from COVID. Later, I wrote them again, begging them to have mobile vaccination clinics at community events. When they didn’t respond to either, I called them out in the local paper.

Another rallying cry.

When Democrats and Republicans alike started to back further into their corners, openly suggesting retaliation towards their political opponents on school boards and neighborhood councils (one even suggesting that a school board member be evicted from her home so she could no longer represent the district, something that has since initially writing this happened to me and my family), I spoke up. 

Another rallying cry. 

Ultimately, I’m just a mom. I write. I post on my blog. I take graduate courses. I advocate for others. I spend a lot of time talking to people that are in the community that want better material conditions. And I spend the bulk of my days just being with my kids. 

On the campaign, and every day since, I have come into contact with so many people just like me. Many volunteered for my campaign, many have continued to contact me to this day. Just average people sick of the disease that is running our community; sick of the infection that runs unabated in city hall and beyond.  

The infection was initially mild. It was a wild plot to takeover America, but that nobody ever thought would happen. It was some infighting in just one, toxic Congressional district. It was one, unqualified Party favorite council member, on a board of otherwise entirely qualified and impartial individuals.  

Today it is all of them. It is all of them, and they are in control of everything. 

As time goes on since my failed bid for city council, I’ve become more worried about both my community, and America on the whole. It would be one thing if this was just isolated. But quite clearly, it is not. Politics has always been cutthroat and nasty, always in the state of nature; but never has it been so toxic that the host body joins the mild infection in destroying everything in its path – friend or foe.

The solution, of course, is that we inject the body politic with massive amounts of medication – antibiotics, steroids, anti-inflammatories; the works. 

We reform elections so that money becomes less of a driving factor, so that lobbyists cannot control so much of our public policy. Who reforms elections is as important as the reforms themselves, though; reform must be done by the voters. Not the mom bloggers, committee members, and each board or council doing it their own way, but the voters. All of them. Universally. 

We take limits a step further than number of terms, and apply them to election spending. We publish campaign contributions for each candidate in the election pamphlets that come with the ballots. Because who you elect is never just the personality you click at the polls, it’s everyone that donated to their campaign too.

We hold leaders accountable for their failings. We have more oversight. In a municipal government, we allow voters to take part in appointments and have hiring hearings that the public can view. In higher levels of government, like Congress and the Presidency, we do the same, only more so. 

Perhaps the boldest move would be that we institute ranked choice voting. Ranked choice voting, combined with very systemic election reform created by voters (not politicians) would go far to break up the two party system, and level the playing field so that more qualified candidates may come to the surface. 

Because let’s be honest: both the Democrats and Republicans are equally, in their own ways, the source of the infection to begin with. And representative government does not work if the representatives see who they represent by how much money they’ve donated, or don’t believe in the government they’ve taken an oath to uphold.

Doing this, and more, would go far in changing America. In curing the infection, and in restoring us to a place that can do the work of representing people on every level, these reforms must be had to restore integrity. As high as the Presidency, and as low as a sanitation board, if we do not stop this infestation from plaguing us, it’s hard to see how we will come out the other side of it.  

Remember that we can always go back from whence we came. The infection was initially mild. It may never be completely gone, but it can be controlled to be mild again.

Thank you for tuning in to my 5 part series on running for city council in my small town So Cal community. If you feel so inclined, please click the link to PAY WHAT IT’S WORTH. This is so much better of a way to sell my books than to go through the process of publishing them; and it allows me to offer my writing for free to those that haven’t the means.