Get Ready To Vote. But When?

Well, this should be interesting. As though things aren’t bad enough in the USA right now, POTUS has floated the notion that we should delay the elections in November because of the pandemic.

Ah, dude. You’re the one that has prolonged this health crisis. And now that your poll numbers are sinking faster than my retirement savings account, it doesn’t appear to this citizen journalist that you should be rewarded for your ineptitude.

Of course, I’m sure there are others who would disagree with me.


Here’s from The Washington Post:

President Trump drew immediate rebukes from Republicans and Democrats alike on Thursday after floating the prospect of delaying the November election and claiming without evidence that widespread mail balloting would be a “catastrophic disaster” leading to fraudulent results.
“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” Trump tweeted. “It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”
Trump gave no indication that he will push for the date change — or that he thinks he has the power to do so. The U.S. Constitution gives the power to regulate the “time, place and manner” of general elections to the U.S. House and Senate, with Congress also empowered to alter the rules. States control the dates of primary elections. Nowhere is the president granted such power.

I’ll admit that fraud is possible no matter how you conduct an election — in person, by mail, or some other method. In Chicago, more dead people vote in every election than any other demographic. I made that up. But gee. Don’t you have to admit that it was kind of a presidential lie?

Anyway, it appears that the Republicans who are facing historic losses in the Senate, House and White House are determined to limit how many people can actually vote. And voting by mail — or online — is the red herring that the GOP is banking on.


Well, if nothing else, we all know that elections matter. As someone who wrote in Bernie in 2016 so I wouldn’t have to vote for the lessor of two evils, I’ll admit I have learned the error of my way.


So I encourage everyone to join me in voting this time around.

And maybe Trump has a point about changing the date of the elections.

Let’s move the election up to Labor Day Weekend — and vote his ass out as soon as possible.

Then perhaps we can actually Make America Great Again.

Back To School. Maybe.

Well, we’re about a month from when public schools and universities may or may not reopen. And at this point the only thing certain is that the USA is still recording around 1,000 deaths a day due to the virus and there is no end in sight.

I try not to get too pessimistic about all of this. Yet in an environment where government officials and public health experts are having a tough time agreeing on a common response, the Trump Administration is still pressuring state governors and local officials to get kids back into the classroom while basically hoping for the best.

Unfortunately, just about everything we have been told about the pandemic to date has proven to be wrong. So I’m not sure that I would want to risk the lives of tens of thousands (maybe more) — students, faculty, staff, family members and just folks in the community — by betting that this will work out well.

Of course, my view of the world these days is that neither Trump nor people like Betsy DeVos can find their asses with both hands in the dark. But what do I know? My son and daughter both teach so I’m not a disinterested observer in all this. But at least unlike many others I don’t have to agonize over whether or not to let my children return to school as students.


Here’s the issue, as reported this week by CNN:

(CNN)As he tried to rescue his reelection campaign this week, President Donald Trump seemed to be in full retreat on key coronavirus topics — from the efficacy of mask-wearing to the risks of holding the GOP convention in Florida. The one exception was school reopenings, which he has insisted must happen in person this fall.

Of all the mind-bending coronavirus decisions that Trump has made, the political risks of his back-to-school gamble are perhaps the greatest. At a time when he is struggling with shrinking support among women, moderates and seniors, he is urging parents to send their children back into the classroom even though much is still unknown about the long-term risks to their health and how rapidly they could spread it to vulnerable adults, including grandparents and teachers.

Pandemic’s spread and sagging polls prompt Trump retreat
It was nearly impossible to follow the President’s logic this week when he expressed fresh concern about the safety of convention-goers in Jacksonville, Florida, but in the same briefing argued that parents should not be worried about sending their children back to school or bringing the virus home.
He acknowledged Thursday that schools in some hotspots may need to delay reopening until infection rates come down, and said his administration was asking Congress to provide $105 billion in the next stimulus bill to schools that reopen, while in districts that don’t reopen, he’s requesting the money “go to the parents” so they can decide whether to send their children to private or charter schools.

I recognize that reopening schools is a tough, difficult decision. It involves safety and risk and potentially billions of dollars as our economy continues to stagger under the stress of the pandemic. I also recognize that not every child has access to the Internet or to a working computer — and I seriously question whether schools have the technical expertise to pull off online learning for any extended period of time. Although, in my view, this would be the right approach until a vaccine is widely available.

I also recognize that schools provide more than just an education. Schools provide day care for thousands of parents who must work outside the home. Schools make sure that students who need it receive at least one meal a day. And schools provide a social environment that nurtures development and relationships.

So saying all that, what concerns me is that this issue like many others has become a political chess match, with Trump gambling his presidency that schools can reopen and things can return to normal prior to the elections in November.

So here is the administration’s plan, as best I can tell:


Oh, boy.

Clearly, schools are not like restaurants and retail outlets where wearing a mask and social distancing may work to negate the virus.


And given the events of the past few days and weeks, why should we be optimistic that we can reopen schools safely?

The Republicans canceled their nominating convention in Florida, scheduled for a week before schools are set to reopen in that state. Too dangerous for the elite pooh-bahs to attend. And Major League Baseball, which was benched until a week or so ago, already has had to suspend play as players on several teams have contracted the virus. Remember that these are professional athletes playing a game outside with all the proper precautions of wearing face masks and social distancing. Good luck to Miss Jones and her kindergarten class sitting nose-to-nose in a classroom where you might not even be able to open the windows.

So unless common sense prevails in the next few weeks, it looks like our schools are going to be ground zero in our battle against the virus. And at a time when the so-called patriots among us refuse to wear a face mask or take other precautions, it sure seems like we are asking a lot of students, parents and teachers.


So it goes.

A Year Of Wild Pitches And Curve Balls

Well, Tony Fauci was able to get back into the game yesterday. After being benched by the Trump Administration, the good doctor was invited by the Washington Nationals to throw out the first pitch at their home opener yesterday.

Alas, Fauci’s pitch went more to first base than home plate, a wild pitch that I’m sure won’t be lost on POTUS and his gaggle of infectious disease experts.

Here’s fromYahoo Sports:

The most famous person on the field before Thursday opening night game between the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals wasn’t Aaron Judge, Max Scherzer or Gerrit Cole. It was Dr. Anthony Fauci, the infectious disease expert who has been so prominent in America’s response to the coronavirus.
During his time in the public eye, Fauci has made no secret of his baseball fandom, particularly his fandom of the Washington Nationals. So Fauci was picked by the Nats to throw out the first pitch of the delayed 2020 season — and he probably wants a do-over.
Fauci took the field in a Nats, jersey and cap. He had a mask covering his face, of course. He stretched out his arm a bit and then uncorked a wild first pitch. Probably a good thing there were no fans there to see it.


Of course Fauci’s wild pitch pales by comparison to the curve balls Trump has been hurling since the virus pandemic season opened in this country in February.

So if you consider that Trump has been and is the manager of this country’s response to the crisis, then I think you have to concede that in worldwide standings he has led us to first place in terms of cases and deaths. Sad.

Maybe even with all his shortcomings as a hurler it’s time to call Dr. Fauci in from the bullpen.


No Mask. No Service. It’s Simple

No mask, no service. It’s simple.

Those were the words Colorado Gov. Jared Polis used yesterday when he announced that people throughout the state are now required to wear a face mask when in indoor public spaces.

Good for Polis.

And good for Colorado

Here’s from The Colorado Sun:

Gov. Jared Polis on Thursday, facing pressure from the medical community and Democratic state lawmakers, issued a statewide mandate requiring Coloradans to wear a mask when in indoor public spaces.

The mask order takes effect on Friday and lasts through at least Aug. 15. It applies to anyone older than age 10.

Masks must also be worn by people who are waiting outdoors for a taxi, bus, light rail, car service, rideshare or other mass transit or similar transportation service.

Violators may be “subject to civil or criminal penalties, including but not limited to prosecution for trespass,” the order says.

Businesses must post signs about the mandate and “must refuse entry or service to people who are not wearing masks,” the governor’s office says.

“No mask, no service. It’s simple, ” Polis said as he announced the order at a news conference at the governor’s mansion. “… This is a law like any other.”

If only it were that simple.

But alas, POTUS and his cadre of incompetent lackeys (yes Betsy DeVos, I’m thinking about you) have managed to make wearing a face mask (or not) a political statement. You would think that common sense in the midst of a worldwide pandemic that has already claimed north of 130,000 American lives would prevail. But I guess not.


Oh, boy. Remember that most of these people (if not hospitalized or worse) will be voting in November. I digress. And I guess we are in a country where you still have a right to your own opinion, regardless of how misguided it might be.


Still, I have a hard time understanding the opposition to wearing a mask. It seems to me to be a relatively minor inconvenience that could protect me or others from contacting the virus. It’s that simple.

And it’s not like we are completely free to do whatever we want whenever and wherever we want. For instance, I can’t imagine that I would be welcomed in the local grocery store if I decided it was my constitutional right not to wear pants.IMG_0022Good grief.

And I imagine some people have it way worse than being required to wear a face mask.


Walmart, in fact, announced recently that it would require that everyone entering or working in a store would be required to wear a mask. That’s a good start, although I expect the policy will not be without its glitches.


Oh, well. I guess it won’t be that simple after all.

A Nation Of Liars

Wow. We have more than 130,000 Americans (and counting) dead as a result of the coronavirus health crisis — and yet we have a game show TV host opining that it is all a conspiracy. Apparently everyone from the nation’s top public health experts to emergency room doctors and nurses are lying about this in a masterfully conceived plot to deny POTUS a second term.

Folks, you can’t make this shit up.

But amazingly — although I guess not unexpectedly — Trump appears to agree.

Here’s from The Washington Post:

With tweets, impromptu interviews and unscripted remarks, President Trump has increasingly undermined the public health message of his own government, adding a sense of confusion to what has been a disjointed and ineffective response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Public health experts say Trump’s efforts to deflect blame for the surging virus have become yet another distraction making it harder to slow the spread of covid-19, the highly contagious disease caused by the virus now infecting Americans at a record clip.
On Monday, Trump retweeted a message from Chuck Woolery, a longtime game show host and conservative commentator, that accused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of “lying” to the American public about the virus.
Trump in recent days has also accused Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, of making “mistakes,” blasted CDC guidelines for opening schools as “impractical,” and repeatedly undercut public health officials’ recommendations by questioning the efficacy of masks and social distancing.

Here’s what Woolery said, via Yahoo News:

During a flurry of activity on his Twitter account, Trump retweeted a message from game show host Chuck Woolery that claimed “everyone is lying” about the coronavirus as part of a plot to sabotage the economy and hurt Trump’s reelection campaign.

“The most outrageous lies are the ones about Covid 19,” wrote Woolery in the message promoted by Trump. “Everyone is lying. The CDC, Media, Democrats, our Doctors, not all but most ,that we are told to trust. I think it’s all about the election and keeping the economy from coming back, which is about the election. I’m sick of it.”



I take it Woolery, and many others, get their infectious disease creds directly from social media, and not the real world.


Well, I’m not big for conspiracy theories. Especially those being advanced by a TV game show host — Chuck Woolery — and by a realty TV star — Trump — who somehow managed to con his way into the most important job on Planet Earth.

So call me naive but I believe the pandemic is real. It’s a big threat to lives and to our economy. And it’s not going away until we have some national leadership — of which we currently have none.

Here’s the problem in a nutshell, as shared by a group of conservative anti-Trumpers via The Lincoln Project:

When I was still working, I had the privilege to teach journalism at Kent State University. We taught the mechanics of journalism: writing, editing and so on. But we emphasized the ethical imperatives of honesty,  transparency and building trust.

All of those qualities have kind of been flushed down the toilet by a President and his supporters who have worked hard for the past several years to convince us we have become a nation of liars.

I don’t share that belief.

And come November, let’s hope we return honesty and leadership to the White House.


Reopening Schools. Oh, Boy!

Well, let’s see. We’re into about month five or six of the coronavirus pandemic that has already killed tens of thousands of Americans and crippled our economy. And let’s be honest about it. The advice that members of the administration — and this includes the good doctor Fauci — has given us since the beginning has been misleading or in many cases just plain wrong.

Wait. I have to go wash my hands. While I’m gone, let’s check in on POTUS and see what he is doing to protect Americans and solve this crisis.


Oops. I digress.

It’s bad enough when people like Trump and Fauci flounder, but when the most incompetent member of the administration, Betsy DeVos, joins the fray, it should be enough to send even the most naive mask-adverse patriot to get in the queue for a ventilator.

Devos, who somehow made enough campaign donations to get appointed Secretary of Education, wants the schools to open pronto — and risks to students, teachers and staff be damned.

Here’s what she told Fox news:

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told “Fox News Sunday” that public schools that don’t reopen in the fall should not get federal funds, and that the money should be redirected to families who can use it to find another option for their children.

Why it matters: The Trump administration is engaged in a full-court press to reopen schools this fall, despite warnings from some public health officials that the coronavirus outbreak is out of control in many states and that it will be difficult for many schools to reopen safely.

Grilled by Fox’s Chris Wallace on what the administration is doing to make to make it safer or more feasible, DeVos repeatedly stressed that “kids cannot afford to not continue learning” and that she’s not talking about places where the virus is “out of control.”
“We’re talking about the rule, not the exception. And where there are hot spots in the future and in the fall, of course that has to be dealt with differently,” DeVos said.
On CNN’s “State of the Union,” DeVos was asked whether schools around the country should follow the CDC’s guidelines for reopening. She appeared to indicate there would be room for flexibility, stressing that the guidelines are simply recommendations.

“Every situation is going to look slightly different. And the key for education leaders, and these are smart people who can figure things out. They can figure out what is going to be right for their specific situation. Because every school building is different, every school population is different,” DeVos said.
President Trump has called the guidelines “very tough and expensive,” and Vice President Pence said the agency will put out a set of new documents about schools this week.

Oh, boy.

Reopening schools under these conditions seems to me to rely on a strong measure of wishful thinking, just like Trump’s belief that the virus will somehow magically disappear.

And it doesn’t appear that there is a universal consensus that opening schools now is the right thing to do.

Here’s from CNN:

Internal documents from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that fully reopening K-12 schools and universities would be the “highest risk” for the spread of coronavirus, according to a New York Times report, as President Donald Trump and his administration push for students and teachers to return in-person to classrooms.

The 69-page document obtained by the Times marked “For Internal Use Only” was among materials for federal public health response teams deployed to coronavirus hotspots to help local public health officials handle the outbreak, the newspaper reported.
The document was circulated this week, the Times reported, as Trump slammed the CDC guidelines around reopening schools and he, Vice President Mike Pence and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos increased their pressure on schools to fully reopen by the fall.
It is unclear whether the President viewed the CDC document, according to the Times.

And it appears that even the American Academy of Pediatrics is having second thoughts:

The American Academy of Pediatrics on Friday flipped its position on reopening schools in the fall, distancing itself from the Trump administration, which cited the organization’s initial stance in order to bolster its push to reopen all K-12 brick and mortar schools.

“Returning to school is important for the healthy development and well-being of children, but we must pursue re-opening in a way that is safe for all students, teachers and staff,” the AAP said in a statement. “Science should drive decision-making on safely reopening schools.”

The AAP added that public health agencies “must make recommendations based on evidence, not politics” and said “schools in areas with high levels of COVID-19 community spread should not be compelled to reopen against the judgment of local experts.

“We should leave it to health experts to tell us when the time is best to open up school buildings, and listen to educators and administrators to shape how we do it,” the AAP said.

” We should leave it to health experts…”

Well, in this environment, good luck with that.


Well, as with most things, I don’t have a solution to this. It is a complex challenge with plenty of lives and money at risk. But shouldn’t it be a decision based on science and not politics?

So if I were still teaching at Kent State, would I show up in the classroom in another month or so?

Yes. It was my job. And I guess if people can work 40 hours or more a week at Walmart to make sure we have toilet paper then I could spend time in a classroom. But you can be sure I would take whatever precautions — social distancing, wearing a mask and so on — that I could.

And I would want to make sure that schools were being reopened after a careful study by health experts and administrators who have my best interests — and the interests of students, faculty and staff — at heart.

Fortunately I no longer have to make that decision.

But here’s the rub.

Schools aren’t like grocery stores, bars or retail outlets. You’re talking about young people who most likely won’t adhere to safety and health precautions.

So would you send your children back to school this fall?

I’m not so sure I would.

But I’m sure I would base the decision on medical experts were telling us — and not on the mostly faulty advice of politicians like POTUS and Betsy DeVos.


Trump And The Beanstalk

Well, I knew that Trump had a strategy for combating the virus that has crippled our economy and taken as of now more than 120,000 American lives. So yesterday, POTUS opined that the pandemic will simply just sort of disappear.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Clearly we have reached the point where people are getting anxious about a potentially fatal illness that doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.


So in the midst of all this we have a President who believes that this virus is just going to magically disappear.

Here’s from Forbes:

With the coronavirus pandemic taking a turn for the worse in the United States, with record daily new case counts and rising hospitalizations and positivity rates in Southern and Western states, President Trump on Wednesday continued to profess the belief that the disease will “sort of just disappear” during an interview on Fox Business.


For the fourth time in a week, the country set a fresh daily high for new confirmed coronavirus cases on Tuesday, with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease official, telling a Senate committee that, “Clearly, we are not in total control right now.”

Nonetheless, Trump told Fox Business, “I think we’re gonna be very good with the coronavirus, I think at some point that’s going to sort of just disappear, I hope,” similar to assertions he’s been making since February 27, before declaring a national emergency in March.

Wow. Wishing and hoping. What a great strategy.

And I know this is a stretch since POTUS apparently doesn’t read, but I wonder if he developed this viewpoint based on the Jack and the Beanstalk fairy tale.

A children’s story. Jack, a poor country boy, trades the family cow for a handful of magic beans, which grow into an enormous beanstalk reaching up into the clouds. Jack climbs the beanstalk and finds himself in the castle of an unfriendly giant. The giant senses Jack’s presence and cries, “Fee, fie, fo, fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman!” Outwitting the giant, Jack is able to retrieve many goods once stolen from his family, including an enchanted goose that lays golden eggs. Jack then escapes by chopping down the beanstalk. The giant, who is pursuing him, falls to his death, and Jack and his family prosper.

Oh, boy.

Still, I suppose that many Trump supporters are willing to disregard the advice of medical experts and roll the dice with Trump and his magic beans.


To Mask Or Not To Mask?

With all due respect to the musings of Shakespeare, it appears that wearing a face mask (or not) during a global pandemic has become the moral and political question of our time.

And I’ll admit that I’m not thrilled about wearing a face mask whenever I leave the relative safety of home. Yet I’m also not enthusiastic about the prospect of getting ill with a virus that has killed more than 120,000 Americans and counting.

Yet the face mask dilemma pretty much illustrates the administration’s fatally flawed response to this crisis.

Clearly, months ago the medical experts — including the good doctor Fauci and his cohorts at the CDC — didn’t understand the seriousness of the virus or how it spread or even to whom. So we entered the fray with an abundance of messages that as it turns out didn’t move the ball forward even an inch: masks don’t do any good, only the old and seriously ill could get the virus and so on.

Now the messages have changed, and everyone is being urged (in some cases required) to wear a face mask and we are told younger people are just as likely to get the virus as their elderly parents or grandparents.

I worked in communication related jobs for nearly 40 years, and I can say from personal experience that there is nothing worse than giving your audience a mixed message. Once someone grabs hold of information that supports their own beliefs, changing that message and getting them to believe something else is almost impossible.

And then add into the mix POTUS, someone who defines the Peter Principle and is so inept that he can’t find his ass with both hands in the dark. But at some level you have to give him credit. He managed to turn wearing a face mask into a political issue, and if you a caught wearing one in public you are a wuss while the true patriots are out there bare faced and protecting their constitutional rights and personal freedoms.

Good grief. If we took that approach during WWII, we would all be speaking German or Japanese today. I digress.




Okay. I get it. As Patrick Henry said: “Give me liberty or give me death.”

Still, I’m not convinced that these modern day patriots have given this all the thought or study that they should. Again, some mixed messages.


So I guess I’ll take the advice of the medical experts. And realistically, I don’t know if wearing a face mask does any good or not. But if nothing else, wearing one seems to say that I care enough not to want to contract the virus myself or pass it along to someone else.

That seems to be a rather straightforward message.

To mask or not to mask?

That is the question.