The Newsletter: Issue #17

Ugh.

Around the World

The Queen died! I get it: everyone has a different relationship with the tabloid family. The memes, of course, have been amazing and on point. The British were colonizers, I think we all need to remember that. But I also can accept that a lot of people have a complex relationship with GB, and also many family that way so… if you’re sad, I’m sorry. If you’re glad, well that’s great.

For me?

Well we had a whole ass revolution to not give a literal shit who was Queen, when she died, and who followed her. I just don’t care.

What I will say, though, is that her address to the world at the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic was – I believe – one of her most important addresses. It urged calm in a time when people looked to baboons like Trump and Johnson to restore calm and order. I know I appreciated it, and many others did as well.

As for the tabloid family and what is next under Man Baby Big Hands? Only time will tell…

More around the world: today, in an interview, Trump apparently argued that he could declassify documents as president “telepathically.” And, in a similarly idiotic statement, Biden – with no qualifications or data to back his claim – said the pandemic is over.

Buzz kill: neither of those bone heads was correct.

Around My World

As I started this newsletter: ugh. I am feeling like absolute garbage, physically and emotionally. Physically the hay fever is hitting me hard. I sound like I have a smoker’s cough, spend all my time trying to itch my throat with my thoughts, I’ve gone through about 50 boxes of Kleenex, and there seems to be no end in sight. Other than that, my classes in college are relatively unfulfilling – including my 600 level Public Governance course which I am starting to think is taught by AI. No one ever responds to my discussion posts, I’m receiving an A+ for a grade, and the one time I communicated with the professor she responded “I do trust you…” and that was it.

Another pretty crazy thing happened in my world that probably has set all of this off: we found out that friends of family and family friends moved in to our old house. You know, the one we were effectively evicted from with no cause? After living there and caring for it as if it were our own for years? Yeah…

The short of it is that my daughter was on a long walk with the dogs, and we live on the other side of the same subdivision so she made it almost all the way there. She said the people were outside and they were in a big screaming match; so I finally looked up who is living in the house now. A couple searches over on Facebook and I discovered: it’s the family members of my soon-to-be-ex-sister-in-law’s step sister’s partner. Confused? Yeah I am too, but let’s boil it down to this: my brother in law, soon-to-be-ex-sister-in-law, family friends, our former nanny, the soon-to-be-ex-sister-in-law’s step sister and her entire family, also family friends, and a host of other mutual connections are “friends” on Facebook with the people and their extended family that now occupy the house.

Ouch.

Many of them believed that during my campaign I wanted to defund the police. Rather than act like civilized human beings who have known us forever and consider us family or close family friends and – oh, I don’t know – ask me about it personally, they instead decided to rip up my campaign signs, campaign for my opponent, and never talk to us again. Now, I guess I have to wonder if they were all instrumental in getting us the boot for some people not even remotely related to our former landlords moved in.

Or, at the very least, if any of them ever saw anything about these people moving in to our old house… on the Internet? In person? go to a 4th of July BBQ there and think “hey I know the people that used to live here…”? … and, what… just not say anything to us about it? Who else knows?

So. Many. Questions.

Pretty sure that’s also kind of illegal now in California, but that’s neither here nor there. Kick in the gut, and makes me feel even sicker about the tens of thousands of dollars this has cost us. Not to mention all the trauma.

In honor of that, I decided to do my podcast episode this week about Truth and Post-Truth. I didn’t really talk about my personal situation in the pod, but it’s still a fun philosophical listen. You can get it on any podcast platform, or just listen here:

You Can’t Unsee This

A literal representation of me at this time:

STFU Fridays

I was trolling the Internet the other day, looking for mom blog type posts to comment on and stir up some shit. For one, I was bored. For two, this is how I gain new followers. Every once in a while, someone clicks my profile and makes their way here, and *poof* I have made another connection in misanthropy.

Scary Mommy had posted this thing about kids budgeting for toiletries. I really don’t want to get into it, because I sense some of you will disagree with me (which is that I think that making small children budget for necessities like soap, regardless of the parameters, sets up an unhealthy relationship with money and personal care products early on… teach to budget with something else)…

ANYWHO, so I basically said that and boy did the mean mug mommies of the Internet go after me in the comments!

One thing that came up though was on the topic of small children squeezing out toothpaste, and how this budgeting technique would eliminate a small child from doing that. I remain skeptical on that, but I made the egregious mistake of saying I couldn’t relate – my kids have never done anything like that. And it’s true! We brush our teeth together, always have and always will. There’s literally no reason for anyone to go in to the drawer and get that toothpaste otherwise. Problem solved, no toothpaste wasted and squeezed out everywhere!

Well apparently, on the Internet, you are mom shaming others if you openly state a fact of your own household. The mean mug mommies then went after me for saying that my own children have never squeezed toothpaste everywhere – how could I shame them and their parenting styles and their little heathens like that?! HOW?!

You know: not everything people say about themselves is about you. I know that in this hyper-narcissistic and self-interested world we live in, it’s tempting to think that. And I certainly don’t want to turn into one of those people that comments on every single post another person makes, turning it all into an opportunity to talk about themselves. But really… sometimes when someone says something about themselves or their situation… that’s it. It’s not about you. It’s not an attack on you. It’s not meant to shame you. It’s not anything other than a simple statement that ultimately has nothing to do with you.

So you know what you can do if you take other people’s experiences personally?

Well, it’s Friday. You can just shut… the… fuck… up…

Better yet:

Anywho, happy weekend everyone! It’s not quite the weekend yet, but… close enough!

The Newsletter: Issue #16: We Need To Get Our Heads On Straight Here, Folks

I don’t typically title my newsletters, but for some reason this one felt necessary. For the last several days, the news cycle, and my own interactions with regards to it, have been a complete de-evolution into absurdism.

Yes, I’m talking about Biden.

Yes, I’m talking about Trump.

Yes, I’m talking about the ongoing pandemicS.

Yes, I’m talking about all of it.

We need to get our heads on straight here, folks. We are missing a once in a lifetime opportunity to undo all the wrongs of the last several years, and we’re unironically doing so by falling into the same traps and patterns that created the situation we find ourselves in today.

So let’s talk about it.

Around the World

Unless you live under a rock, you know that last night the President gave a fiery speech in front of Liberty Hall, on the problem of fascism and the MAGA culture. It was, unequivocally, a political speech. There’s no way around that.

I’m perhaps from a more old school thinking: that politics is politics, and government is administration of government services. There is a time and a place for both, but not together. That said, we should demand a number of norms when our government leaders go political; and more importantly we should hold them accountable for politicizing aspects of the government that should not be.

There’s also something to be said about governing by meme, and involving people that should otherwise not be involved in that.

This is why, after the president’s speech, several people went on to criticize the choice of backdrop: Marines, standing at attention. I’ve talked to a lot of people about this since, many in a variety of sectors of the military. Some thought it was gauche. Some didn’t see the big deal. Others said it was politicizing the apolitical. A lot of people highlighted the long time practice of Presidents doing so.

For me, it’s about the venue: it was a political speech using colloquialism and political rhetoric, invoking the Dark Brandon meme. So, pretty tacky to have the Marines involved. But, that’s just my opinion, and something I am *entitled to* without fear of personal attack.

Not what the biggest and loudest Blue MAGA Democrats believe, though, because immediately after CNN journalist Brianna Keilar Tweeted her own disappointment in the move – Brianna Keilar who is married to a man that has spent his entire career in the military, people went for the throat. And this is what I largely observed all over Twitter and other social media platforms as the night wore on: very strong and strident Biden supporters launching disgusting and vile attacks on anyone that is Republican, Centrist, Independent, Progressive, or simply had a disagreement with any aspect of the Biden speech, or frankly anything Biden has said or done.

This style of political and public discourse though? This was completely antithetical to the speech the President gave. While calling for unity he asked people to stand up to actual fascism, which includes the idea that dissenting thoughts and opinion should be tolerated and encouraged, and that nuanced conversation about the issues without personal ad hominem attacks and mudslinging should resume at the policy table of America.

What I’m saying is that the people ripping down anyone that even remotely disagrees with or criticizes any aspect of anything the current president does are just as fascist as the ultra right MAGA fucks that… well, do all the same shit. It isn’t less fascist if you’re doing what the fascists do, just because it’s for your guy.

I discussed this last week on my podcast, actually; so the timing is perfect. If you haven’t had a chance, you can listen to it here:

And to that end, there’s been another growing trend over on social media: the White House’s official government account being used for more political posts about MAGA. Here are two, recent examples:

Now to be clear: I am not saying I disagree with these statements. I’m again highlighting the venue in which they are being made.

Perhaps I’m more sensitive because I happen to be in a 600-level Public Governance class right now, and ethics in public administrations – of which the White House one – is at the forefront of our conversation. For decades, administrations at all levels of government have operated on a code of ethics. This is nothing new, and it is not a foreign concept. If the White House Chief of Staff actually paid attention to the replies he receives in these, he would know that my response was spot on: that ethics training is something they perhaps should get going, given the very fine ethical lines that whomever is in charge of this account is walking.

To be clear: Tweeting about political issues, even ones rooted in fact, using political colloquialisms and rhetoric, is not the job of an official government podium. This is not official government business, and we can accept that and hold them accountable for this while at the same time agreeing with the sentiments – the two are not mutually exclusive.

And last, but certainly not least, on this episode of Shit Show, America: this morning, the full list of items that were removed from Mar a Lago in the FBI raid was released by a federal judge, and it included the notations that several folders labeled CLASSIFIED were removed, although all that was found in them were newspaper and magazine clippings.

A lot of people jumped to ask where those documents were, and that may very well be the case – that the DOJ and Merrick Garland moved like the snails they are, and gave Trump et al more than ample time to sell it all off. Smoking gun is therefore gone, as are the prospects of ever holding them accountable. To be clear, that may very well have happened.

But it’s also equally as likely that this was all a well orchestrated stunt, combined with more of a grift. My thoughts?

Surely we all have not forgotten that time Mike Lindell left the Oval Office and was carrying a document in exactly the right angle so that the media could Zoom in and blow up its contents… these people are professional con artists, there’s no way around it.

And to be frank, I voted to never have to hear about them again. Let’s stop giving them oxygen until it’s either to announce the man is in jail, or dead.

Around My World

I finally decorated the outside of my house for fall the other day, and immediately got a ration of shit from people who neither pay my bills, nor do any other things for me. As I said above, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but there’s also something to be said about the concept of: if you don’t agree with someone’s personal choices that in absolutely no way, shape, or form affect you: keep scrolling.

Nevertheless, here are my outdoor fall decorations outside, and I put them up just in time for California’s unprecedented September heat wave:

Other than that, you guys know the drill… I’m just living the dream of every other stay at home mother who is expected to raise her kids, manage the house, keep everything looking Pinterest-worthy at all times, cook three meals a day and eat completely healthy, while also being charitable to others, help ailing and elderly family members, pursue their own dreams, undergo routine self care and physical and mental health, all while pleasing extended family and friends for the sake of keeping the peace, all on a strapped budget because – again – you are a stay at home mom and have no real steady income except your spouse’s… even if all of this is rapidly escalating to a total and utter mental breakdown from the pressure…

You Can’t Unsee This

Please take into consideration everything I said above, listen to my podcast on fascism, take a deep breath, and consider this meme I made:

STFU Fridays

There has been an increasing trend of doctors and people that should otherwise know better at this stage of the pandemic, downplaying the measures needed to end the pandemic.

I am by no means advocating for more lockdowns or ZERO COVID strategies. But there’s something to be said for paying attention to the governments that still do… they are, and have always been, the experts on SARS and all of its potential negative outcomes. And, to be clear, a lot of physicians and immunologist – epidemiologist types – understand too. What’s even more concerning are the number of other diseases surfacing, and easily spreading, as a result of the hit that our immune systems are taking on the whole to unmitigated coronavirus spread. The CDC and NIH know, and have published papers, on the impacts of SARS-COV-2 on our immune systems, and yet their policies or even their recommendations to others (not them, of course) do not reflect the realities of “new normal.”

And as the pandemic heads into its final stages of the third year, I get it that people are weary, and more than anything they’ve become compromised in their position on certain things. Bottom line is, though, that if you’re going to go on social media platforms and tell people to wear masks… you maybe just should be consistent in your recommendations. Wear a mask yourself.

Moreover, expect our leaders to.

Last night, I was doomscrolling through Tik Tok and came across a post making fun of Trump for his COVID infection versus Biden’s, posted by an immunologist. This woman is a prominent and well respected scientist, and she is also – sometimes – pretty funny. Of course it’s not exactly fair to describe the two infections – one was before vaccines were even available, and one was after the man had four doses of vaccine, with more treatment options, and with a more attenuated version of the virus… but I digress on that issue. It did point to the efficacy of time, science, advancement, and it was silly.

But one of the comments from another doctor on the platform stuck out to me, saying he would never forgive the former president for removing his mask and making a mockery of it. To that, I agree, but I will similarly not forgive the current president for doing the exact same thing. Biden has had more antimask rhetoric and moments, claiming he would wear a mask at all times after exposures and infection, himself, when he then was immediately seen having taken it off around others.

The whole point about living with COVID is that we have to actually learn to live with it and not act like selfish and ignorant fools. Our community members are depending on us to do the right things, including reducing their risk of harming them if we have COVID, have recently had COVID and could still be contagious, are otherwise feeling unwell, or have been exposed.

And we elected Biden to be the leader on this, to which he is failing. Instead he sets an ableist and anti-mask example, with absolutely no one – apparently – with any integrity left to expect better.

So I responded with this comment, and the immunologist – the original poster, the woman who constantly asks people to wear a mask and to be the example for others… she told me to get a grip.

Get a grip.

The most disturbing thing to me, again the overarching theme of this newsletter and why I decided it was important enough to give this one a title, is this idea that people cannot hold anyone accountable for their actions now, simply because the other guy did it first. We should be demanding better of our leaders, and holding them accountable.

And it’s a simple fact that if someone was elected to handle COVID and is now outright refusing to handle COVID, even in his own actions that directly influence the behaviors of millions of Americans (including vulnerable ones)…

Get a Grip?

GET A GRIP?

GET A GRIP?!?!

Get a FUCKING GRIP?!

I get it. We all experienced a lot of trauma with Trump. But it is a fact that the current president is doing worse on COVID at a time when he should and can have opportunities to do better. He preached up and down during his campaign about being a leader and setting an example. And now, he’s doing anything but. We could all live with this if he would do better – it would, at the very least, convince some (and would go a long way to getting more funding for needed tests, treatments, and vaccines from Congress who have all but capitulated to the virus and its ongoing damage).

Instead, it’s easier to look the other way, point fingers, and tell people that have a higher standard of accountability to “get a grip.”

You know what the real grip is that we need though? The one where we are sober to the fact that we have entered this absurdist and morally bankrupt daily reality where everyone thinks standards be damned, norms be fucked, and fascism – even if it’s the lighter version – is the way to go.

The only way out, folks, is if we hold them all accountable for every mistake, all the time. If we get our heads on straight, again. If that is what it means to need to “get a grip,” so be it. In the meantime: if you can’t take the heat of a dissenting opinion, shut the fuck up.

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.

The Newsletter: Issue #10

So much is going on in the world, and in my world: it’s a little bit of a whirl wind. I’ve been trying to post more in general, keep up on my social media following; and to keep up on this newsletter too. So let’s get to it.

Around the World

Somehow I got sucked into the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial. I’m never into these types of things – like ever – but then I see it streaming live on my For You page on Tik Tok, and I’m hooked.

One thing I think that I’ve noticed above all the details, the commentary, the cutting off the middle finger thing – all of it; is how authentic Johnny Depp is. Between his clarity on specific details of conversations, his bizarre hair dos, facial hair, and attire/accessories, to his remarkable pride in having quit using opioids, Depp – in all his weirdness and classically Depp deadpans – is unapologetically himself. Does that make sense? Regardless of the trial, or how it all turns out, that is what I take away from this.

Of course the other big obvious going on in the world is that COVID is going masks off-balls out, and yet the government is scaling back its efforts and funding in ways we probably never saw coming, no matter how bad things have been. (Just remember: it can always get worse, right?)

With variants upon variants cropping up that are just, to many of us, terrifying, it’s hard to really know what to believe. And yet, the doctors of Twitter and the mainstream media seem to have also flown the coop. Some, like Leana Wen from CNN, have gone batshit crazy, blocking major figures in public health, and even Marked by Covid (the largest national advocacy and lobby group for survivors and families of victims from COVID 19) from viewing and reacting to her comments on social media, all the while accusing the world of bullying and harassing her for having unpopularly eugenic views; while others, like Jeremy Faust, have decided it’s time to monetize.

I find the latter to be, frankly, stunning. This guy started writing a newsletter less than a year ago, and has fewer email subscribers than little old me, and yet he’s still thinking it’s a good time to grift. For $5 more a month than your favorite 99 cent game app on your iPhone, or regular emails from WaPo, you can get, as Faust describes it: “…after I publish, I realize that there are more considerations worth sharing for people who want to go deeper…”

Whenever I criticize this, people say “running a website isn’t free, Heather.” Sure, yeah, I definitely know that. As evidenced by the website I run, here. But if you are doing something for the sake of public health, monetizing a website that can be thrown together, maintained, used to host your email server, and give you a unique domain, for around $100 a year or less, when you’re a doctor that also makes high dollar media appearances… well, I don’t know… monetizing your very important medical information and advice seems sort of grossly capitalistic.

But America is a capitalism, and our healthcare is for those with the means only, right?

One more thing that is absolutely bananas to me going on in the world, of course, is this:

Around My World

It’s a bit of a shit show in my personal life. We really are not adjusting to the new house well at all. My kids and their entire communities are around 30-45 minutes away from home (depending on the day and traffic). This isn’t a situation where we are like the military, where moves and changes are expected and a part of life. We will continue to get our kids back to our old city to be with friends and their sports and social stuff, it’s just … really really stressful to juggle it all (and the cost of gas doing so).

Of course you guys all got my email yesterday about Hello Kitty Toaster coming back for a pop in.

Meanwhile, at our new house, I’ve recently discovered that across from our house is a home that I am 90% sure is occupied by squatters.

The people that own the home live in Texas for the bulk of the year. They just keep this home to use casually when they visit their adult children in town. Now we’ll save the fact that people that own multiple homes only for one to sit empty most of the year, while the rest of us scramble for any slum we can find to pay 46% of our monthly take home pay to live in, are making me more upset by the day, because these types of practices (their right, or not) have irreparably harmed my family, I still feel something of an obligation to … at the very least investigate.

I’m finding myself become more and more like Tom Hanks in The ‘Burbs, by the day. I’ve camped out on the living room couch for about two weeks now, waking up in the middle of the night, taking photos of the lights on, searching around the gated and upper-middle income community in which we live for any signs of something amiss… I even considered buying binoculars.

I’ll keep you guys posted.

You Can’t Unsee This

Presented without comment:

STFU Fridays

Again, with the masks.

I know, I know, but hear me out: even if you don’t give a shit about masks, you only care about yourself and what you feel in terms of protection, and you are just done with this whole pandemic…

… you could still keep your fucking mouth shut to those that still mask.

Monday the mask mandate for travel and public transportation was lifted by some dumb-dumb judge with no public health experience or expertise whatsoever, and the world cheered. (I wrote about it HERE.)

Within a day, accounts of people being shamed and bullied for still wearing masks cropped up.

The highest profile person I saw post about it was Trump’s Surgeon General, Jerome Adams, who has – oddly enough – become the voice of reason these last several months. You really know things are bad if any of Trump’s folks are the voice of reason, but we can save that conversation for another day. Adams went to board a flight, and a Delta pilot made some snarky comment about how he should take off his mask and breathe the fresh air. Adams posted about it on Twitter, and the anti-maskers went WILD on him.

Really? Just shut the fuck up. The fact that these people got what they wanted, but did not stop it there, indicates – at least to me – that it was never really about freedom or their personal choice. It was about an ideology and what the masks represent: weakness, fear, and probably a little bit of racism towards cultures in which face coverings are the norm.

Gross.

So to them, I say: shut the fuck up. Just shut your fucking mouth, and cough all over people all you want. You won! At least for now. We’ll all still be there to empathize with you when COVID bites you in the ass, because the data doesn’t lie on the promise that sooner or later, it will.

One more thing…

If you haven’t signed up yet, please subscribe for this bitch to be sent directly to your inbox:

Happy Weekend!

Stop Calling This A War

The global pandemic we currently find ourselves in is, without a doubt, not a war. It is not. Analogizing it to one is both incorrect, and irresponsible.

Let’s walk through this.

Credit: Classic Art Memes @Facebook

Donald Trump Is Not A War Time President

Early on, after finally admitting that the virus causing COVID-19 infections and deaths around the world was actually a problem (and not just a hoax brought on by the fake news and Democratic party), Donald Trump switched gears and decided this was “the unseen enemy.” He was to be our honorable Commander in Battle.

While it is tempting to label this virus an enemy, as we do with a lot of medical maladies, really it’s just a talking point. A talking point for the victims who fall ill with it to feel empowered; a talking point for those who swoop in with remedies to claim victory.

But Donald Trump is not a war time president, and this is not a war. It’s is a global pandemic of a highly communicable virus, that in rare instances causes mortality. Unfortunately, at the present, enough instances are proving to occur on the whole that the mortality rate is quite high for us, in a healthcare system that was taxed going in.

Allowing Donald Trump to overshadow the egregious and flagrant wrong-doings in the prior days, weeks, months, and years of his Presidency – including, but certainly not limited to, the fact that only months ago he, a sitting President, was Impeached on counts of Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress – to overshadow all of that, and come out of this spinning the inevitable success of modern medical science into his position as a war hero (conveniently in time for the 2020 Presidential election) would make every person that ever likened this to a war complicit in the necessary election win that would come with that honor.

Donald Trump is not a war time President. This is not a war.

Credit: Chris Murphy CT @Twitter

Frontline Workers Are Not Soldiers In Battle

This is probably my point that will flare the most feathers, but before jumping to conclusions, hear me out.

The sacrifices and risks associated with working in any quote-unquote essential line of work right now are, unmistakably, great. In particular, those that work in medicine, pharmacy, even janitors in the hospital setting; and especially in light of the on-again off-again relationship they have with adequate and complete personal protective equipment – well, those people are by and large in hot water from now until the time a vaccine is readily available.

So are the grocery workers, who have every cough, sniffle, and sneeze effectively sprayed all over them several times a day. So are a lot of people that continue to work to allow the rest of us to afford such luxuries as food, water, and electricity.

But they ain’t soldiers. We will not be erecting a monument to them that looks like doctors, nurses, and janitors Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima. They may receive additional compensation and pay for risk assessment and to incentivize them to work, but it is not hazard pay.

This isn’t a measure to disrespect or discredit the work they are doing, and the sacrifices they are making. Do not mistake me: they are heroes.

Infectious diseases happen, and while COVID-19 is new and a lot about it is unknown, it is a part of the job. It is a part of the call to duty that came well before that person in the wet market in China even thought about eating the undercooked bat. Every time you step foot in a medical facility, there is always the element of the unknown. Sure, this time it is higher of a probability that you could catch it. But even I wonder to myself whenever I’ve had to take my kids to the emergency room for a sports injury or high fever: you know, I wonder if the person in the room next to us has bacterial meningitis and here I am exposed to it. Because it is a very real possibility, and that possibility is always there.

And there are two things most dangerous about likening the “frontliners” as we now like to call them with warriors in the trenches of something like WWI, or possibly worse: it sets a dangerous precedent for their own personal actions that could, in effect, result in even more death.

For one, in continues on this dangerous “take one for the team” mantra we Americans like to espouse. Arguably, this mantra is one of the things that got us here in the first place. We don’t feel well. We have chills, body aches, maybe a cough. But your [insert workplace] needs you. You are so essential that if you call in sick, the ship will go down. So you go to work, and infect several more people, putting more stress on the system than what would have come of you just staying home for a few days until you got the all clear from your immune system.

A more dangerous one:

Early on in the worst of Italy’s days, a nurse committed suicide because she started feeling a little punky, and decided to swab herself. She tested positive for COVID-19, and rather than just recover as 98% of other people do, she committed suicide to prevent spreading the disease to anyone else. Dangerous does not even begin to describe the precedent that we set when we then venerate this poor, clearly unwell, woman as something like a kamikaze doing the right thing by her country.

Tangential to this as well is the fact that the vast majority of people working in these essential jobs deserve a recognition of their own. Like the firefighters and many police after 9/11, or actual soldiers that have fought and won wars for centuries, their position in this is unique and should be treated accordingly. (Perhaps a monument would be appropriate, somewhere and at some point… but to replicate Iwo Jima would be a discredit to both today’s and yesterday’s heroes.)

Credit: Classic Art Memes @Facebook

The Messaging Is Blinding Us With Fear

In World War II, the messaging and propaganda was so profound, particularly in European countries in opposition to the allies (mainly, Germany) that people were so blinded by fear of the war, that they largely did not see what was going on right in front of their faces. The same went for Americans: blinded by the fear of another costly and deadly battle, Americans resisted involving themselves in the war – in spite of the humanitarian crisis that had unfolded in the Jewish and “undesirable” communities in Europe.

This is what happens in a war: diplomatic and political messaging is so critical for the community to get on board with whatever the agenda of the leadership of the time happens to be. Everyone does it. Now, in treating this like a war, our community leaders and politicians are doing it again.

Every week seems to have some sort of a theme to it. The first was all about the exponential growth charts, and statistical analyses, and the Johns Hopkins interactive website. The second were 45 paragraph letters from Emergency Room physicians who are really so busy they aren’t sleeping much, but also have the time to write lengthy explanations of exactly why we should be concerned about COVID-19. The third week was the rash of viral posts from Italy. Warnings to Americans. Rising death tolls. And that horrible video of the woman leafing through the obituary pages that went on and on and on, as if we weren’t sad enough about this already. The fourth week started the stay at home campaign, which continues today; coupled with a lot of mixed messaging coming from all sides of the political spectrum. Take the hydrochloroquine, but don’t. It works, but Trump touted it so probably skip it. Listen to your doctor, question him. Bill Gates is a hero, I don’t trust what he says. Open the economy, no don’t. Go for a walk to get exercise, just kidding that’s a bad idea. Dip your groceries in bleach, wait just kidding soap and water is fine bleach will kill you.

It is exhausting just listening to all of this: the analysis and the arguing and the incessant viral postings about what this politician did wrong and what that politician said, and who is complicit in this and who is a hero, and PPE and bats and … and … and …

This is the point of propaganda, and while I’m not likening what Trump, his “task force,” and more local governments are doing right now to what the Germans did in WWII, there is definite messaging going on here. If there weren’t, we wouldn’t have new buzz phrases, like “in these unprecedented times,” and “we are navigating through unchartered waters,” and – my newest favorite, “we are here to meet this moment.” You also wouldn’t have gotten probably 600 emails from every place you have ever shopped or spent money at, in an effort to let you know what increased measures they were doing to keep things safe and clean – all the same copy and pasted letter full of buzz words and messaging that was meant to calm your nerves, but only – instead – piqued your fears.

What happens when we are afraid in times of war and stress is we act irrationally. We fight with our community members, we shutter our hearts to those in need. A nursing home in my community got flack a week ago for telling a patient he could not return because he had suffered from COVID-19, even though he had recovered and tested negative two subsequent times before being released from the hospital. A homeless man a town over was unable to get a propane bottle for his camping stove, that allows him to cook his food and keep himself warm, because it is now considered a “non-essential good.” One woman in a Mom’s Facebook group I am in locally sparred it out with me about this, when I commented on a post about it asking how we could help him. The defining moment of our argument was when she said that because we live in California – “no one is going to freeze to death!”

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The Social Contract In Times Of War

Few people realize that what is going on right now in our own communities from a public policy perspective is a matter of the social contract that we all live in as American citizens. The basic premise of our structure in society and government is that in exchange for the protection of our overarching body of government and government leaders (and all the services that come with it, including public hospitals, police, and fire), we are willing to in effect sacrifice certain freedoms and liberties in exchange for that protection. The idea comes from the great political philosopher Thomas Hobbes, whose writings inspired our revolutionary forefathers when he said:

“Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of war, where every man is enemy to every man, the same consequent to the time wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such condition there is no place for industry… no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” (see: The Leviathan, by Thomas Hobbes)

It’s a bit wordy, so I’ll break it down for you: if left to our own devices at certain times in society, life would be unnecessarily awful and painful; and would end quickly, whether we liked it or not. Sometimes, let us help you. You just have to give up a little for us to be able to do that – in times of war, mainly. But pandemics are also times that it could be argued we have to retain less to be able to live more.

As soon as Trump started declaring National Emergencies, Major Natural Disasters, and referring to himself as a wartime president, the road was paved for every Tom, Dick, and Harry politician, from big time national leadership, all the way down to Mo, your local City Councilman who shows up for the council meeting drunk and in his swim trunks every week, the diplomatic and political power to chip away at those freedoms and liberties we hold so dear to us, in the name of the social contract and protection in times of turmoil.

Do I think that there are a lot of measures that do – absolutely – need to be taken to curb the spread of the novel virus that causes COVID-19? Absolutely. Shutting down bars, movie theaters, churches… that all makes sense. Social distancing and increased hygiene and safety measures – absolutely.

But locally, at least where I am, we have gone far afield from just shuttering non-essential businesses and asking people to stay home as much as possible. Now, here in California, cities are requiring by law that people wear face coverings, even when just driving down the street to get their mail. Alone. They’ve shut down sections of stores that disconnected and privileged city officials think can wait a while, like the clearance clothing racks at a local Wal Mart – in a community that houses thousands of migrant workers who are low income and do not have access to computers to simply order online.

Overreach doesn’t really describe what is going on here. And while I get it: we need to stay in, we need to physically distance, we also have to live our lives.

In recent days, I have talked to several seniors that are either family, or friends of family. They all sounded the same, exact resounding chord: they appreciate the community trying to protect them, the most vulnerable; but at this point, quality of life is an issue, and this is not a life worth living. One where you cannot go for a walk in the warm sun, or have the smallest of gatherings with less than 10 people seems cruel.

Perhaps the most striking thing told to me, which I then heard a physician – a medical doctor – echo on television about his own 87 year old mother’s sentiment: what if I die in isolation here, and I have never had the opportunity to hug my grandchildren one more time?

Certainly, the social contract is a necessary part of what keeps us alive. But only in war should it be evoked to such the degree that it is being evoked in communities through out America right now. And this is not a war.

It is tempting to liken this global pandemic to a battle. It requires strength, perseverance, and fight within all of us to get through whatever effects we feel from it – be they physical illness, economic hardship, or mental health belaboring as a result of the physical and social restrictions placed on us. But it is not a war. And we are not warriors.

Credit: Heather Christena Schmidt @HeatherChristenaSchmidt.com

If This Is America, It Is No Longer My Country; Or, Trump: the Anti-American President

If you are like me, you are overwhelmed by the news and events of the last 48 hours. America, in all its glory, elected a racist, homophobic, sexist, bigot to the White House. A man accused of sexually assaulting dozens of women. A man whose very campaign premises were based in the most anti-American tenants ever run on a major ticket in the history of the United States. Who was described by major economic and global organizations as one of the greatest threats to national and global security, on par with ISIS. Whose campaign promises actually and literally spit in the face of the Constitution of this once great country – the very Constitution that gave him the ability to rise to power to begin with.

America: you had one job.

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Just under half of Americans that voted said that those policies and beliefs were OK. Either because they aligned themselves with those anti-American tenants, or because they could tolerate all of that in exchange for something else Trump offered.

To say I am in shock is an understatement.

Now, the aftermath has begun to unfold and – so it seems – we are in turmoil. Our president has asked for a peaceful transfer of power, and in response people are taking to the streets and beating and attacking people under this new mantra that to make America great again we need to get out anyone that isn’t just like us. Trump’s win was validation of the deeply seeded racism and sexism that has plagued our country since the days of Jim Crow, and before. Less than 100 years since women earned the right to vote, and “grab her pussy” is more socially acceptable of a phrase than “she deserves to be treated equally.”

To say I am sickened is also an understatement. A gross understatement.

And through all of this, I have learned a lot.

I have learned that very few people actually have an understanding of the Constitution of the United States. They have a general idea of the things they like about it, like the 2nd Amendment and its whole thing about gun ownership; but they seem to have cherry picked those bits and pieces that are convenient for them, overlooking the other parts equally as important and valid and right and what it is to be American.

I am assuming, based on his campaign rhetoric and behavior during the election; in addition to his unprecedented silence now in the face of the violent election aftermath, our president-elect is one of those people completely unaware of what abilities and protections the Constitution Articles hold within them.

Like the ability to worship whatever the fuck God you want without having to worry about being beaten at your local 7-11 over those beliefs.

Or the ability to live your life without hate crimes and discrimination being enacted against you, especially if you are in kindergarten and just want to get your goddamned lunch without having the taunting of “build a wall, build a wall” shouted in your face because you happen to have brown skin.

The list is seemingly endless of people and classes that Donald Trump doesn’t understand are protected under the Constitution. Not only people of all religions and race, but those with disabilities. Women. People of varied sexual orientation… All of those people are protected under the Constitution and our incoming president doesn’t understand that.

There’s also the whole thing about freedom to protest and freedom of speech, which I get is why all the Trump supporters felt they had a right to enact their hate crimes over the past several months of his campaign. But then to turn around and say that the people protesting the bigoted policies of the most anti-American president elect is “wimpy,” “shameful,” “pointless,” or “wrong,” completely misses the very definition of what it means to be an American.

I was raised to believe, and have degrees in political science and philosophy to back those beliefs up with facts and rational discourse, that America is the place where you can come and be whomever you are and, to put it bluntly, not have to take shit for it.

If you are gay, you get to be gay. If you are a woman, you get to be a woman. If you are black or Hispanic, you get to be a black or Hispanic.

You do not have to be subjected to discrimination or hate crimes. The Constitution guarantees that you are free from those things for just being you.

The Constitution also ensures that you get to voice your opinion, which I understand goes both ways. You get to voice your opinion, for example in a public speech, in a Facebook post, or in a peaceful protest, regardless of whether or not anyone sees it valid or worthy.

You do not get to beat your beliefs into someone until they are so bloodied and bruised that they have to take a trip to the emergency room.

With great sadness, it seems that with the Trump presidency, that all seems to be out the window.

Where this leaves me is with the understanding and acceptance that at least half of America, and America’s next president, is actually not American.

At least half of America, and America’s next president, believes that freedom from discrimination and racism and sexism, and that freedom of religion, is not a thing.

At least half of America, and America’s next president, believes it has the right to beat you if you look different or you love someone of the same gender.

At least half of America, and America’s next president, believes it can tell you what to do with your body just because you are a woman.

If this is America, it is no longer my country.

People keep crying out on Facebook – “get over it!” “This is democracy!” “The Republicans felt like this when Obama was elected!” and “He won, we have to deal with it!”

Actually no. No, we don’t.

And this isn’t an issue of Democrat versus Republican, but rather right and wrong.

That’s the beauty of being an actual American. You get to not accept things that you know are actually, factually, wrong. You get to say “this is not the principle of our country” and you get to call for an action that is both Constitutional and fair.

You get to say that a man who runs to be an anti-American president cannot take office, if this is going to continue to be the Constitutionally abiding America we once prided ourselves on being.

Otherwise, it is no longer America.

No president in history has ever been as anti-American as Donald Trump. Up until 48 hours ago, I would have never considered saying the words “he is not my president,” or “this is not my country.” But it isn’t, and he will never be.