The Newsletter: Issue #14

This has been a weird week, for me personally and for the world. If you don’t think it’s weird, you are likely in the position of being both simultaneously privileged and unknowingly oppressed. Welcome to Capitalism.

Around the World

So how about that Trump raid?

I’m still weeding through all the details on why Mar-a-Lago was raided, and what the potential or definitive consequences of it will be. And I have a lot of mixed feelings about it myself. From an accountability-standpoint, anything that criminal has done should be held up against the law like any other citizen of the United States. But something I learned in my own personal experiences with family law, and our kids, is that oftentimes the law will not always err on what is morally right, but what is (a) prosecutable, and (b) not going to cause an undo burden on the public good. and there is something to be said for understanding the incredibly sensitive and delicate balance in this country right now. National security, and the possibility for an all out Civil War, is very likely a part of the conversation on this at some stage.

We should save this one for another conversation, perhaps a blog I’ll post next week on the topic, alone.

In the meantime, here are just a few of the thoughts circling around in my head, in no particular order:

  1. Andrew Yang is, yes, a piece of shit, but he is right in the sense that if nothing major comes as a result of all this news cycle, the FBI raid, and the investigation, then it will have been political and the consequences could be – not to be hyperbolic, but: catastrophic to the country. Is he trash for saying it when he did and the way he did? Sure. But he may not be wrong. We’ll see.
  2. Many high level Democrats, including Congressman Eric Swalwell (famous for telling Susan Surandon, a woman, to sit down and shut up about women’s rights…), were calling for Trump to release the warrant. When he leaked it to Brietbart, they began to complain because it was not redacted. Again, am I defending that the idiot didn’t think to redact names of agents on there before he leaked it? Maybe. But he did what they asked; that they expected the guy who suggested we inject bleach to cure COVID to know to redact names from a sensitive document before leaking it as they requested is… well…
  3. I honestly do not see this resulting in anything, and if it does I do believe the consequences will call into question if it was worth it. Back to point one, time will tell. To be clear: this is not a reason to withhold accountability. Trump, we all know, is a criminal, on many levels and for several reasons. But defining “accountability” in this case may require people to consider way more than just the people that did the crime, but the people who will suffer for the fall out. I don’t know, again maybe a conversation for another day (and again, to be clear, I am not defending Trump.
  4. Fundamentally, one of the main reasons I – like me personally – voted for Biden in 2020 was to not have to hear about Trump anymore. At this point, I don’t even care if he goes to prison, flees the country, runs for president again and loses, or simply bides his time quietly on his golf course. I just don’t want to hear about it. All the Jon Coopers of Twitter post daily, ad nauseam, about him. I think the Republicans are right: liberals are absolutely obsessed with him. Sometimes it feels like we are collectively checking our ex-boyfriend’s Facebook page to see what he’s up to; it’s exhausting and I voted to be rid of it.
  5. As is, there is already talk about Biden pardoning Trump in the name of unity. I wouldn’t be surprised at all, and in fact as I was talking to a friend about it, this popped up in my Instagram feed. So yeah…

Then, of course, there was the whole CDC COVID update, which made headlines even though it hardly changed much in the way of public health policy that was not already changed or observed, starting back in the beginning of the year in the middle of the Omicron wave. However, what distinctly sticks out to me is some of the language the CDC is using now. They’ve completely redefined not only disease, but everything, to being about personal responsibility; the individual’s obligation to themselves and themselves, alone. This is the antithesis of “public” health, but moreover I believe it sets the precedent to deny claims of public liability for injury caused. In other words: oh, you’re now permanently disabled by long COVID (as is happening to as many as 20% of people that catch it)? Well that was your fault for catching it, disability claim denied.

But it goes beyond that. Some of the language seems to cite numbers inconsistent with actual reality. Many many Americans continue to have avoided COVID infection, and both the vaccinations and previous infection are not useful against circulating variants, and yet the CDC claims that as many as 90% of Americans have “existing levels of immunity.” They also discuss avoiding punitive measures against students that choose to continue to mask, as if kids have been punished prior to now for wearing them. Something doesn’t seem right about anything that they cite, and to release the guidance in a time that 93% of the country is in areas of remarkably high transmission, and daily papers come out citing the profound and extensive damage reoccurring SARS infection is causing… well something just does not add up to me.

Again, maybe a conversation for another day.

Around My World

I’m trying not to get stressed out by the fact that our new property manager seems to be in it to get his money with as little work as possible Our move in walk through yielded several things that needed to be addressed. The excuses for none of them being done continue, a month and a half later.

The other day we woke up to a sprinkler that was broken, spraying everywhere. It took a while for the landscapers to show up and fix it (if you can call what they did “fix”), but in the course of all of this it has become all the more clear that gardening – included in the lease – is also not going to actually happen. Today we raked up probably years worth of begoniaville petals, many decomposed and putrid smelling. Tomorrow we’ll be cutting the grass and weeds out front as well.

How am I dealing with this stress?

Well, it’s past time for me to decorate so I started getting going with my fall decorations. Every year I have a system: August 1 – September 15 is for Fall decorating, with Halloween to follow. So – technically – I’m late. It’s already the middle of August, so finally yesterday and today I kicked it into gear. The great part about moving was that we had to get rid of so much, some needs replacing. So I guess that’s fun.

You Can’t Unsee This

In regards to that Trump raid, the memes have been on point, I will admit that.

STFU Fridays

Alright, this is a bit of an obscure one, but we need to talk about the bakery cookies at the grocery store.

You know those soft sugar cookies that start to pop up in the bakery section around this time of year. They usually vary the frosting and sprinkles for whatever holiday is coming up. Right now, because Labor Day is around the corner, they have blue with red, white, and blue sprinkles. In October it’ll be orange and the brown, yellow, and white sprinkles. Then it’ll be straight to Christmas, with Valentine’s Day colors in the new year, closing their annual stint at the grocery store off with Easter colors.

People are so divided on these cookies, but I have to say to both sides: shut up already. Honestly. The cookies are fucking good, and even if they’re not what is this thing people have where because they don’t like them, that means no one can have the pleasure of eating them? We live in a society that is so heavily controlled as is: we have to work where we’re told, live where we’re told, do what we’re told; stop trying to control what fucking sweets people have access to with your weird online petitions, and obsessive bitching at grocery employees. As if Bob who works in check out can fucking control the inventory, you pedantic, anti-cookie, fucks.

So have a good weekend, and leave people alone to their cookies. And by people, I mean me. I’m with Brian on this one.

This Is Living With COVID

A few days ago, I had an acute allergic reaction to either something I ate, or something blowing in the back window of our house. Many of you all remember, we recently moved from a mold-infested hell hole, so my body is still recovering and attempting to reduce the level of extreme inflammation that comes of living under those types of conditions. So… a bad allergic reaction was bound to happen…

When it was at its worst, I considered going to the emergency room, but when checking on the wait times found that the ER in my own town – the best option – had a 10 hour wait time. On a Tuesday, in the middle of summer. I couldn’t believe it, so we took a drive over, and sure enough: at 7 o’clock in the evening, with a line out the door and people sitting on the floor of the waiting room, four ambulances docked in the unloading area, the wait time appeared accurate. I decided to go home and just hope for the best.

The following morning, I called my doctor’s office and told them I had experienced this acute allergic reaction, and I wanted to make an appointment to see him since the ER wait times were so long. I had made it through the night, I thought surely they could get me in that day, even with a PA, a nurse practitioner, or another doctor.

They scheduled me for the following Monday.

Today, I woke up to an alert on my phone that my order from Home Goods – which was due to be delivered Tuesday – was delayed due to “inclement weather.” A quick look at the national weather radar proved that was, very likely, a lie.

No date it will actually be delivered.

The Federal Reserve reports that several million people are now out of the work force, due to what doctors coin “long COVID.” Long term symptoms of COVID 19 infection vary by person, in symptom and length; and at least 1 million people are permanently disabled from this post-viral condition (and estimated 4.4 million partially). And this is only two years in, with a virus that provides absolutely no long term immunity, and every reinfection showing to increase your odds of developing lifelong health conditions, possibly disabling, exponentially.

I’m no conspiracy theorist, but it seems a great way to resolve the growing crisis with funding social security is to either:

a. Kill everyone that is presently living off of it; and/or,

b. Cause the entire system to collapse from an unmanageable burden

So it seems, the US has decided to do both.

Nevertheless, this is what living with COVID looks like. Wealthy, elite members of our own communities, and oligarchs running the government, have access to paid sick time ad infinitum, ample healthcare, and access to care and treatments many in America cannot even dream of being able to access, while the rest of us hope for the best.

But it isn’t just about getting sick and dying that remains an issue; for many who have been lulled into believing that COVID is just a cold (to be clear: it is not), just as for those that still take precautions and engage in personal mitigations to prevent getting or spreading the disease, living with COVID is a matter of being delayed, hampered, inconvenienced, and otherwise endangered.

Living with COVID is maybe not having a police officer available to come if your house is burglarized.

Living with COVID is not having reliable access to an emergency room for an emergency.

Living with COVID is being stuck somewhere on vacation because your flight was canceled.

Living with COVID is catching COVID on a cruise and being forced to be airlifted off for the pleasure of other passengers, even if you’re feeling relatively well (because no matter how well you feel, you could still harm someone – this is true).

Living with COVID is not being able to get in to see your doctor, or any doctor for that matter. A friend of mine recently went to the emergency room for ear pain; and while he was able to actually get in and be seen, when they recommended he see an ENT, he found out the next day that the earliest he could get in was … next year …

Living with COVID is having unqualified people teach your children, having your children learn over computer in an auditorium because there aren’t enough teachers in that week; having someone not even qualified to drive a school bus drive your child to school.

Living with COVID is packages arriving whenever they can, maybe. Definitely not on time.

And as it turns out, living with COVID is placing the burden of all of this more and more on the individual. With decreased mitigations and funding from the government, comes more emphasis on personal responsibility. People are told if they want to wear a mask, they can. There is, however, no clear and assertive guidance to the fact that masks work.

When it comes to items that are costly, this again comes down to personal burden. Individuals are asked to test, but at their own cost. Some are free, but only a couple times (at most, three batches, which should be long used up by now); some insurances will cover, others do not. Medicare covers them, if a senior wants to risk traveling from pharmacy to pharmacy until they find one that has the batch Medicare covers in stock.

Schools never upgraded ventilation, and have spent their American Rescue Plan funds ten times over on administration fees, so testing is cutting back, as is quarantines and the like. This is being done in the name of giving kids less disruption, as if being taught by a sophomore at the local college, learning your teacher just died, and having to go in and out of school because you’re always getting reinfected with the same virus over and over again is not disruptive to a child’s development… this is living with COVID.

Yesterday, we received a text message from the community college. Living with COVID for the last two years has been forcing my daughter to wait on having excision surgery for endometriosis; now that the surgeon has opened up her availability, my daughter has decided to defer college for one year to have the surgery. Of course the possibility for COVID to upend that happening as we all “live” with cancelations and inabilities to travel is there, nevertheless, while she does this she’s going to attend the local community college. The text message yesterday, though, stated that the board of directors for the community college system had decided to eliminate the COVID vaccination requirement.

Of course this is not about public health or the health of the students at all, and we all know that. Community college, and colleges in general, have increasingly been having a hard time with enrollment numbers – as students faced a variety of challenges through out this ongoing pandemic. Some students are no longer attend college because – surprise! – they have long COVID and are now permanently disabled. Many are now working full time and caring for a younger sibling, as over 200,000 children under the age of 18 have been orphaned due to COVID 19 in the last two years. Some learned the hard way that the president will not be forgiving student loans, that this was an outright lie; and the cost of living has been allowed to spiral out of control, the type of job you get after graduation will not pay the bills; that college in a very rapid period here has become attainable to only the wealthiest, who have the money and the ease with which to address housing, cost of living, travel, and tuition. Tuition programs even have been cut back, at our local community college they make it as difficult as possible for students to get their tuition covered with grants; because God forbid we make it easier for kids to navigate an education in these ongoing times where personal responsibility has forced them at a very young age to make tough choices.

So enrollment numbers have waned. Whereas it was a struggle to find a course with an open spot months before the class even started when I went to community college, now if you search open classes at the local community college, there are so many openings, it’s a little overwhelming. They’re even running ads, with classes for the fall starting tomorrow.

Far be it for them to admit that all of these problems are factoring in to lowered enrollment numbers, though; they instead point to vaccination requirements, and again – like everyone else – have decided that living with COVID will be to capitulate to the anti-vaxxers. The few out there holding out, will now be allowed to enroll in person in courses that previously had the requirement.

I don’t dispute that you can get COVID vaccinated. Not by a long shot. But even the very health department they claimed to have consulted admits that you are still significantly less likely to test positive for COVID 19 if you are fully vaccinated; and if you wear a mask, get tested, and stay home when sick.

The colleges though? Have decided that living with COVID will be much as in everything else: living with more disruption, with more personal risk, with more consequences to average people just trying to get by in life, while overall profits and financial considerations take precedence over the health of our community members.

Living with COVID. Frankly, I’m not sure who can call any of this living.

Get Your Germs Away From My Ass

<CONTENT WARNING: THIS ONE IS SWEARY>

We’re at the find out portion of the fuck around era, and I am not here for any of it. Get your germs away from my ass, both figuratively and literally.

I thought we were getting to higher ground with the pandemic. Sure, things are kind of still a shit show, but there is literally nothing left for the anti-COVID idiots to complain about, what with politicians abandoning all sense of responsibility and public health being bought off by the likes of the mRNA gods and goddesses. To be clear: I am pro vaccination, but the way in which we have been sold to the CEOs of major corporations, both in what’s available to us for therapeutics, treatments, and preventatives, as well as the various industries that saw mitigation measures correlative to decreased profits for them (I’m looking at you Delta…), well it makes my ass sick. Not COVID sick, just sick.

The problem with letting COVID rip, so they call it, is that it has done a remarkable job at mutating, infecting people multiple times, causing massive disruptions to public life, and hammering down our immune systems. I read the other day that 4 million people in the US, alone, now have long COVID, which is pretty fucking profound if you think about the number of people that represents that may have left the workforce.

In any event, now we are seeing all of these other diseases emerge, go buckwild you might say, and the result is of course that the government and public health professionals just… ignore that shit too.

In the last several weeks, we have had an onslaught of people not just getting covid, though. The UK announced polio cases, and a few weeks later news broke that someone had been paralyzed by polio in New York. Just yesterday, the New York State Department of Public Health announced that they detected polio in the waste water as far back as June. There is this mysterious hepatitis showing up in children (no largely mentioned correlation to COVID, though, even as over 75% of the kids had prior infection with the Omicron variant). Today, BNO news announced that some people had tested positive for dyptheria in Switzerland. A few days ago, it was scurvy.

And we all know about the monkeypox. Or do we?

Monkeypox was something we all should have been paying more attention to back in May, when it was clear that it was beginning to spread. But instead of – oh I don’t know – doing anything about it, we all sort of just sat around and chalked it up to being a gay thing. I’m not shy to the fact that the vast majority of cases are currently in the gay/bi/MSM community; however, this is a far cry from who can actually get monkeypox, which is anybody and everybody. Monkeypox just happens to be in an associated group right now, and of course that’s only perpetuated by the fact that as far back as May and, in many places, still today, the only people that can get tested are from that associated group (of gay men, mainly). To be clear, though, while monkeypox isn’t as transmissible as COVID, it can spread in a lot of ways – in the air if someone sneezes through a lesion in their nose, through – yeah – sex (though it’s not an STI), by touching something the other person touched, hotel sheets… you name it, monkeypox can even survive for long periods of time on your food.

And yet still, the government has sort of just ignored it as people begin to die from its effects around the world. Children have started to test positive for it as well, the more that testing has opened up; in fact, two have tested positive here in California, where I live.

I’ll say it again: get your fucking germs away from my ass.

I just don’t understand what fucking thinking we have going on in our heads right now. I read somewhere that COVID does affect some people cognitively, and so I’m wondering if everyone got COVID and we’re all just fucking nimrods now that cannot put two and two together.

So here, I’ll do it for y’all:

1. None of this shit is going to get under control if you all don’t start demanding more from your elected leaders – from the top, down. That first requires you all to give a shit, which I’m pretty sure may be a far cry from happening, but it’s worth saying. If you gave a fuck about each other again, maybe you’d have the impetus to contact someone – anyone – to demand they do better; I don’t know, just shooting that one from the hip. Congress should be funding more research, treatments, response. The White House should be sending out more tests. The CDC should be requiring masks in healthcare settings, at the very least.

2. As long as COVID is allowed to spread, people will continue to get infected over and over and over again. At some point the 4 million people that are disabled now as a result of long term symptoms (not to mention all the people that continue to fucking die, some quite young in fact), is going to grow to such an exponentially unmanageable number that social security will collapse and/or no one will be around to keep your favorite, local Applebees open.

3. Every time a new disease or new-old disease emerges as a problem, you run the risk of it mutating and wreaking havoc the likes of which we have not even yet seen; especially as a result of the aforementioned weakening of the immune system caused by repeated infections with COVID.

4. It is not normal for diseases like polio to show up in the waste water.

5. Monkeypox is painful and puts a higher percentage of patients in the hospital due to the lesions, the sites they are commonly found on, and the amount of pain they create. The United States’s healthcare system is already on the verge of collapse due to the ongoing COVID pandemic, adding this to their burden is – frankly – unforgivable. People can die from monkeypox because it also crosses the blood-brain barrier and can cause encephalitis. And, as if all of that was not bad enough, as many as 50% of cases end up with neurological or psychological issues.

It’s starting to seem as though we have somehow teleported, or time traveled, back to the days when people just died of random diseases all the time. Women lived to the ripe, old age of 32, and then died of period pain in the middle of the cobblestone street. The callousness with which we approach the lives of each other has perhaps normalized massive amounts of pain, suffering, and death, after two years of people replying to COVID deaths on Facebook with laughing emojis, I suppose because it’s easier to just accept this new life?

I for one do not accept it. I want none of it.

It is the 21st century and science has advanced us to a point where a vaccine could be created against a deadly viral disease in under a year, and y’all motherfuckers brought back polio and diphtheria as a response.

There is, of course, the obvious plot twist in it all as well: that this is just a necessary consequence of a changing climate. Anyone arguing still today that climate change is not real lives further down than under a rock. Everything going on – monsoonal pressure on the West Coast, all time heat in Spain and the UK, the storms, the fires… all of that is just the tip of the iceberg of climate change. Scientists have also been warning for years, decades in fact, that another aspect or potential of climate change would be that zoonotic diseases would cause more spill over resulting in human epidemics; that viruses would be able to mutate and adapt more quickly because of the changes to the ecology of our planet; and, that as permafrost melted, old shit would resurface.

Well here the fuck we are, I hope you all are happy.

Whatever the case may be, I – for one – am tired of this shit. I don’t get people that have absolutely zero problem being sick all the time. I do not get it. I’m not saying crawl in a hole and hide forever. I’m not saying seal yourself in a bubble, like Bubble Boy. I’m just saying to get your germs away from my ass. Stay the fuck home when you are sick.

Since y’all cannot even seem to reliably do even that – the absolute bare minimum – maybe I will get a bubble after all…

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.

This Mask Shit Is Ableist AF

Do I need to say more than that?

Yesterday, some Trumpkin in a judge’s robe gave the death blow to the CDC’s mask mandate for public transit. This includes planes, trains, and publicly shared automobiles like Uber and Lyft. Within minutes, companies jumped on board and removed the requirements, Delta even announcing that in its omnipotent authority, COVID had officially transitioned to a seasonal, run of the mill cold bug.

(Newsflash: the CEO of Delta Airlines has zero fucking qualifications to make that call… we are still very much in a pandemic; you don’t get to just declare that shit over because you feel like it one day. But I digress…)

Naturally, the true ghouls of the United States celebrated en masse. Within an hour, I saw copious amounts of videos go viral on the Internet, of airline pilots announcing over the loudspeaker that people could oft their face coverings mid-flight; and celebratory chants went wild as flight attendants walked through the aisles of packed-in passengers, holding trash bags so that these oppressed people, woefully miserable with thin strips of covering over their gentile and delicate faces, could trash the vestiges of pure authoritarianism once and for all.

You ghoulish cowards. You make me sick.

Here’s the thing about the masks, which I guess more than two years into this y’all still don’t get: the mask is not to keep you safe, necessarily. It’s to protect the vulnerable around you. I thought everyone got this around the time Biden was elected but then what hit me like a brick were all the Democrats that also ripped their masks off and raw dogged the air like the GQPers that thought it was some sort of grand scheme to restrict their freedoms. And today, when asked if people should continue to wear masks on public transportation, Biden said “that’s up to them.”

That’s up to them.

You can still get and transmit COVID even if you are vaccinated or boosted. With the variants of sublineages, it is now the most transmissible virus in recorded human history. There are people that cannot be vaccinated too, like little kids and people with severely compromised immune systems may as well not be vaccinated even when they are. The shots plum don’t work on them.

We all get it: you feel protected. I even feel protected, but the bottom line is that there are people that do not. That isn’t their fear; it is not their rationality hedging on thin ice. It’s their own situation, and it is just as valid and worthy of protection or care as everyone else’s.

Imagine a kid that needs to get chemotherapy across town, and his parents are too poor to afford a car to get him there. The medical bills are too much. That kid deserves to have everyone on public transit masked. For him.

Imagine a father of five who had a kidney transplant due to a rare disease as a child. He’s immunocompromised and still has to fly for work. He can’t just phone it in or work at home. That man and his family deserve everyone on that plane masked.

Imagine a child with cancer traveling Amtrak for her Make a Wish, or across the country to get to Saint Jude’s for treatment. That kid deserves everyone on that train masked.

Of course we all should not ignore the proximity of this to people booking their travel for summer vacations, as well as Midterm elections – where the Democrats and Biden in particular are polling so poorly, it’s a little shocking. At the same time, though, is it really? When you make very specific commitments and are elected on those, and then you fail to follow through on them – preferring to bait and switch with a different, arguably neoliberal and rigidly corporation-focused, agenda, this is the result.

But to the masks…

It’s such a simple thing to do for other people, and not being willing to do so speaks volumes about people – either they don’t care what people think, or they’re too stupid to understand what they’re doing to the fabric of their community. Community is not all about you, so this individualistic approach doesn’t fly. I know that when I, and others I have spoken to, see people unmasked indoors in high risk situations, it’s like a neon sign is blinking over the person’s head saying “I DO NOT GIVE A FUCK ABOUT ANYONE BUT MYSELF.”

It’s narcissistic and albeit as fuck, all wrapped up in one.

The worst comments I see on the Internet are the ones that justify the deaths of the vulnerable by saying “well they were almost dead anyway.” No. They weren’t. If it weren’t for COVID, they would still be here, and many more will die unnecessarily for that same reason. It’s fucked up, genocidal in fact, to talk like that about other people. I’ve heard it in person too: early in the pandemic, our neighbors were talking unmasked, and one quipped “shouldn’t we mask up.” The other – a doctor, at the local hospital – said “hey as I see it, the people that are going down with this ship were already headed there anyway.”

A fucking doctor. What a nightmare this country has become.

There has to be some middle ground between COVID Zero and COVID is King. But in this increasingly polarized country, is that even possible anymore?

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…

I See The Circus Is Back In Town

With neither a medical nor scientific degree to speak of, I still feel confident enough to say with some authority that things in America have gone sideways on COVID. If you’re getting some real March 2020 vibes, you aren’t alone. Since all of our Thanksgivings were marred with the news of Omicron, and the existential dread of this immune-escaping variant – that happens to also spread like wildfire – has hovered over our collective heads as we waited “to see,” things in the United States seem to have gotten a little … well, hopeless and nihilistic.

Perhaps exacerbating it all has been the utter silence of the American government. Even today, when Biden wanted to give his “stark warning” to the American people, it was no more than three or four sentences, it was not broadcast live on television or any streaming social media, and it included the unsubstantiated claim that if you are vaccinated and boosted you’ll be just fine.

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. Even knowing what the Delta variant could do, our government and national public health had their own Mission Accomplished moment back in May – declaring vaccinated Americans good as gravy, boosters “likely unnecessary,” and masks a thing of the past. Before any child under the age of 12 could be protected, they implemented a foolish and sloppy “let her rip, Serg” plan that – for whatever reason – they thought would encourage people to get vaccinated. It was then that they revealed for us who they really are: the same circus that was in before, just with different faces, more clever catch-phrases, and varied ideologies on all the identity stuff. And by the same circus, I mean the one in way over their heads, but – in the end – privileged, beleaguered by American exceptionalism, and careless.

We all know how that went, and while we can quibble about responsibility until the sun burns out: from the Delta surge, the United States came out with tens of thousands of breakthrough deaths, over 1,000 children dead, and even less appetite by, welp, anyone to do anything about it. “Pandemic of the unvaccinated” or not, that is on Biden’s watch. The Biden that held a vigil for ‘400,000 souls lost’ the night before he was inaugurated could barely be burdened enough to have a staffer post a Tweet after the country passed double that just this week.

The truth of the matter is that just as the White House is silent now, the actions then were timed duplicitously in conjunction with several things insidious. Most notably: media and Republican pressure to get rid of masks, and, the beginning of summer. There is no way ulterior motivations were absent here. Among them could have been: of getting Americans back to work well before the September expiration of pandemic unemployment, off-year elections to focus on, to appease Republicans and incentivize vaccines under the pre-dystopian rulebook, and, quite obviously: the economy, baby. The full picture, we may never know.

And yet even understanding that politics and the economy is top priority for the neoliberals in our present-day capitalist dystopian hellscape, many of us continue – weeks later, and as Omicron literally explodes all over the United States – to feel bewildered by the Administration and its total lack of communication on what is to come, and what we can do. To be frank, though, I’m not sure why we should have expected anything different.

The promises made last year of always giving it to us straight, no matter how hard it would be, were lies. The pandemic game plan published to the Biden- Harris 2020 website was just that: a game. It was all talk, all a show; and one that effectively stopped shortly after the inauguration. In reality, besides throwing a lot of money people’s way, “challenging” Americans to wear masks for a couple months, and overseeing the roll out of vaccines (which continues to have bumps and hurdles in many ways), Biden hasn’t really actually done much on COVID.

This is the way things turned out to be for almost everything Biden ran on. Let’s face it: in absence of a robust spending economy and all time low in jobless claims (more likely a product of people either being kicked off pandemic unemployment, or – simply – dying), the Democrats don’t have much to tout this coming election season as having accomplished this first year. Sure, they have their infrastructure bill, and lead pipes being replaced are great and all. But what they have failed to do is glaring: lower prescription prices, substantive climate policy, immigration reform, paid family leave, an extension of the Child Tax Credits, student loan forgiveness, a higher minimum wage, expanded Medicare benefits, Roe codified into law, student loan repayment extension, consistently lower gas prices, a solution for record high inflation, answers and accountability on the insurrection on January 6th, voting rights, a robust COVID 19 testing program, public pandemic preparedness, universal preschool… I’ll stop there.

You may be asking yourself: how? How the hell could we be here? Only a year after elected, the guy who was “made for this role” is watching as America burns, and his entire caucus seems to be standing right there with him.

The answer is simple: we showed them who we are too.

When the Biden Administration and his CDC ripped off the masks in late spring, but people kept dying, we still went to Hawaii in droves. When we learned that Delta infections could breakthrough easily, and that the vaccinated could spread, the phrase “I got my vaccines, I’m protected, I’m tired of feeling sorry for the unvaccinated” became a normalized trope. Within weeks, stories of single moms being infected after being forced back into the service economy made the news. We still demanded our party of 15 be seated inside at Chili’s. When the CDC Director coined the phrase “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” full-knowing the issue was far more nuanced than that and that the unprotected included children and many vulnerable fully vaccinated adults, we lapped it up like dogs and used it to justify 4th of July parties, more vacations, and an obscene amount of finger pointing.

Similarly, as Delta has begun to surge again, and Omicron has exploded seemingly overnight, we’ve still kept spending. We’ve still kept traveling. In one breath public health tells us we’re in for a hard winter, in the next “but enjoy the holidays.” Our concern this winter isn’t whether we have enough ventilators or testing reagents, rather if toys and clothes would be delivered in time for Christmas. If it sounds bananas, it’s because it is; but the Administration is the ring leader, and we are the monkeys they’re feeding them to.

Admittedly, the return of pandemic restrictions are frustrating. Things closing, the expected fall out of a global pandemic – like product shortages and inflation – are annoying. But the more we all complain about it, the less likely Biden is to do anything about it. Because this normalcy: the vacations to Europe, and the ability to cram as many people into the movie theater to see Spiderman as possible, or to sit inside an Applebees and gorge ourselves on chicken fingers… these are the priorities of the American people that matter: the ones spending money, the only thing tangible Biden and his Democrats can show for their time in the majority thus far.

As we stare into the Nietzschean abyss of hopelessness, with a pandemic raging, and some still caring about each other -even those that don’t seem to care for themselves – it’s hard to see much different now than this time last year. I have always said that the Democrats are just another side of the same coin the Republicans are on. But it isn’t so much a coin as it is a side show. A side show in the most hopeless and dark circus that exists.

But hey, at least we can still cope through memes, right?

It Is Never Too Late To Defang This Stupidity

I feel as though we have really reached peak bullshit in this pandemic. It is exhausting to even just get up in the morning, let alone live, breathe, and witness the rampant stupidity that seems to now be at the wheel in controlling this thing.

I’m here today to say: it is never too late to defang this stupidity and change course.

You Can Still Get Vaccinated

I am by no means asserting that all people unvaccinated are morons. Let me be abundantly clear on this: that is not what I am saying. I. Am. Not.

There are a host of reasons people are not vaccinated still in the United States, as well as the rest of the world: poverty, access, eligibility… you name it. Even here in the United States, it’s estimated that a fair percentage of those unvaccinated would like to be, but work seven days a week and simply just are unable to afford any time off to do so. Also, no one under the age of 12 is currently eligible for vaccination; and I think we are grossly underestimating how many people that truly represents in this country.

But there is also that lawless group of mouth breathers who have the access, have the ability, and who have just folded up and said: NO. These are the morons, the mouth breathers, the plague rats that are keeping this going in an endless circle of chaos, destruction, and death – because this is what they live and breathe by.

These are the people that have covered their Facebook profile photos with banners that say “proudly not vaccinated,” who respond to news articles about the death of a child from COVID with the laughing emoji, and who walk into stores coughing all over everyone without a mask on and say really stupid things like “I identify as having an immune system.”

Morons.

You Can Still Implement NPIs

NPIs – for those unclear – are non pharmaceutical interventions. Things like social distancing, stay at home orders, masks… these are the things that are tried, tested, and proven to be effective in mitigating and slowing the spread of epidemic diseases.

I’m not advocating for “lockdowns” (which, let’s be clear, we never by definition had in any corner of the United States, with perhaps the exception of the Navajo Nation for a couple of weeks last year). I’m not even really advocating for stay at home orders, with vaccines and more medical treatments becoming available, of course some mitigation can/should loosen.

But limitations on capacity in indoor public spaces and masks seem very reasonable solutions to the newest surge of COVID being seeing in virtually all of the United States. And the misrepresentation by politicians and public health professionals that they were gone for good was, frankly, irresponsible.

So why won’t governments, private businesses, and public health agencies do them more assertively now?

Well, for one, they screwed up. If I know anything about contemporary American culture, it’s our unique inability to ever admit when we have done something wrong.

The newest rash of idiots taking center stage at this shit show we call life though are politicians, public health officials, and corporate stakeholders making the argument against the assertive and targeted use of NPIs in public spaces because: “we can mandate masks all we want, we will still have people refusing to wear them., so therefore we are choosing to do nothing”

[crickets]

“We can’t make seatbelts a law because some people will still not wear them” is what y’all dumbasses sound like when you say you won’t make public health guidance that is consistent with tried and true, evidence-based science, because a couple of hillbillies that probably have the collective IQ of a salad bar won’t follow said guidance.

You Can Still Open Schools Safely

Let’s be clear on this: the opening schools plan in the United States is not safe. This is the problem with stateside rugged individualism, and the inability of our government and broader community to rally around doing at least this is perhaps the blackest of marks that will go on our permanent record. Why is this what I believe? Because it is going to kill innocent children.

The refusal by some states to put in place any and all safety measures, and others to not offer alternatives, hybrid, and synchronous off campus instruction for students uncomfortable with returning to the classroom is something I continue to have a difficult time wrapping my head around.

Now those of you that have been around a while know that I have homeschooled my own children for more than a decade at this point. But the fear, terror, and abject horror of so many friends and family members – scattered all over the country – as their kids are being given virtually no options, or being sent into the classroom with masks optional, ventilation a joke, and distance an idea that never crossed anyone’s minds – is really starting to get to me. It is unconscionable, and for most of the summer I just could not understand.

Until I realized it was all about the money.

If kids are still given the option to stay home and still have access to an accredited teacher and all of their materials, yes you will still have a lot of parents (1) claiming unemployment every week, and (2) not returning to the physical office, continuing to work from home instead. I can see wanting to avoid this scenario before the current surge that involved a more transmissible variant affecting kids.

But the silence and the refusal to revisit school reopening plans now that cases and hospitalizations in kids are seeing their own exponential growth – both in heavily vaccinated and uvaccinated… masked and unmasked communities – is a level of ignorance on the part of policymakers, teachers unions, and education administrators that borders on criminal negligence. And it pokes holes in their previous arguments that any measures last year were about anything other than protecting only themselves.

I am not even sure who everyone seems to think will stay with the kids at home as they go in and out of quarantine from exposures, outbreaks, and positive tests themselves. 14 days is a long time to take off work unpaid, and the disruption our children have in store for them to their learning is perhaps even more profound than at any other point in this pandemic.

You Can Still Take the Politics Out of the Pandemic

I keep hearing people say the real shame in all of this is that the virus and the pandemic have been politicized. In a voice that sounds like the village idiot, or Sheriff Barney Fife on Andry Griffith, everyone just says “well I dunno what to do now that this whole thing has been politicized.” [shrugs shoulders and picks nose]

The real simple solution is that we stop using that excuse. Just stop. Stop politicizing it. Stop using the politicization of it as an excuse.

Policymakers can stop determining their policy by whether or not it’s favorable.

Local politicians and public health officers can stop tying what measures they take to whether or not their constituency polls favorably on it, or if there is a segment of societal mouth-breathers that won’t comply.

We are at what I believe to be the most dangerous point of this pandemic. It is the most chaotic, the most unhinged. This is the time when we have the most unknowns of what is to come: where projections are proving themselves wrong in all directions, and the science is continuing to change rapidly, while policy is not changing along with it.

Overarching all of it, though, is that our collective idiocy has taken the forefront of the conversation, or rather it’s taken over. Remember what Einstein said about the next World War: “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” Everyone keeps on calling this a war, and at this stage I do believe this could be argued as our third World War. It is unrelenting, it is resulting in mass casualties, and the enemy is literally everywhere. But if this is a war, we are fighting it with stupidity, and that is why it is taking us all down. When all of this is over, if it’s ever over and if any of us are left standing, we will have to have some very serious and broad conversations about education, and our failure in it over the decades to adequately prepare ourselves to defang this stupidity.

That is if it doesn’t eat us alive first.