What Did They Think Would Happen?

Ok. Here it is— the day of no surprise. Coronavirus cases, and deaths from them are rising as bad as they were at the beginning of this whole mess, except in most of New England and New York State. Why is that? Not to put too fine a point of it, but it’s because we’re not stupid! Really, that is the answer. On March 28, I not a scientist, not an expert in any way wrote a piece called “Seriously, Don’t Be An Idiot, or Evil”.

I listened to the experts, I live with people who know enough to explain what was happening, and I talked to actual people I trusted to know what to do. Lastly, my state has a governor who did the same things. Ned LaMont, whatever you think of his politics , stepped up and led our state through the absolute hell of the period from March til now. People in other states saw what was happening. They saw Governor Cuomo give a daily briefing on how horrible or good things were. He told them “this is what you’re facing”. It was a learning moment/teachable moment and that should have been enough.

There were plans on how to cope with the virus. Most of our government didn’t follow the plans. Dr. Fauci did, or tried to describe what they were supposed to be, at the least.

We had a chance to stop this thing, and we didn’t. The government stopped believing in science. Then people played politics with it, and things got worse. The government kept protective gear away from certain states, possibly so they could make money off of the infighting between states, and things got worse here than they ever needed to be. But the rest of the country saw this happening! Did they not think it could happen to them??? I guess not. Meat packing plants kept opening against the advice of experts. Lots of people died.

Once we knew that asymptomatic people could transmit the virus, we here in the North understood that if we wanted to not kill others, we would have to wear a mask. A month later, the governor of Georgia, I think, suddenly discovered asymptomatic transmission was a real thing.

But putting aside the government’s response, people —individual people — with no particular institution they were attached to — decided that no one could force them to wear a mask. People were having anti-vax parties and now they were having “COVID parties”. They died, or they got really, really sick.

Back to people— regular people. They were told to social distance. They drank, and partied, and didn’t social distance. Surprisingly to no one they got sick. To prove that they knew what it meant to be free, people without masks brought guns to the State House of Gretchen Whitmer. I’m sure that some of them got sick. A state tried voter suppression by forcing people to vote in person. Worried for their lives, they went anyway. Some of them died. Then all hell broke loose and there were riots in the streets. Many of the protesters and rioters and the police wore masks. Still, rates of the virus went up. More people died or got sick.

Now Texas, Florida, and many other states have rising virus rates. Texas and Florida were warned time and time again (see above!) that this would happened. WHAT DID THEY THINK WAS GOING TO HAPPEN?!?!

Now, we’re here, at this place and this time, and we are back to square one. Do I care that people there will die? Of course I do. Do I care that idiots die of this thing? Kinda not so much!!! But here’s the problem: I have come to understand that you can’t separate the idiots from the innocent ones who had to put up with this insanity. They seem to live in the same place.

If there were a way to separate idiots and intentional killers out, I’d be happy to let them “take a long walk off a short pier”. I’d actually be ok with that. If you’re from out of state, and you did this, understand that now. I don’t want you here! Stay out! Deal with your own stupidity. You want to talk about personal responsibility and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps? Well, here’s your chance. Do it. Learn your lessons. Then, if you’re still alive, maybe you can come here. The problem is…

There are lessons to be learned here, things to take away from all of this. If you (or I) don’t learn these things, we are simply going to die. If you want to die, don’t listen to them. It is as simple as that.

1) Science really works. Listen to actual scientists. Learn from real experience.

2) The laws of science are bigger than politics. Since facts don’t care about politics, choosing politics over science is a deadly choice.

3) The laws of science are bigger than the economy. An unscientific world view kills economies. Ask the meat packers.

4) Because scientific facts apply everywhere , everyone is important. Inequality leads to death. Who was most hit by this pandemic? Senior citizens in nursing homes were. Those people we tried to forget about and throw away? They were the epicenters. The people who staff those places often don’t get paid enough, or there aren’t enough of them for the job. That person wiping poop off of your relative’s butt is just as important to society as the CEO who’s not. And all the deaths which will come from the protests , and the cheated-on voters? All of them would be less likely — unnecessary, in fact — if we valued Black lives as much as we do White ones. If we viewed poor people as at least as important as rich ones, meatpackers wouldn’t be dead. If we viewed immigrants as equal in value as citizens, they wouldn’t die in our fields, or in cages, with no way to distance. If we gave housing to the homeless, they wouldn’t be messing up the streets of Los Angeles, where another spread is happening.

5) Finally, because we all share air, and facts are for everyone there is no “least” of these. We actually are all in this together. If we don’t take care of each other, and have concern for one another, our society will die, and take all of us with it. If we don’t get that the unknown cashier is just as important as the famous celebrity, or the wealthy CEO, or the grandmother or the grandchild, when we tackle the climate issues we face (and we must do that, too) we’ll die again.

These are our choices. We can learn or we can choose not to. I pity us if we choose not to.

Resisting with Peace,

John

When Is Treason … Treason?

There’s a story that has people on Twitter going absolutely nuts. Because it’s a weekend, I want make sure it’s gets seen because it explains a whole lot about a whole lot of things. Someone in the Executive Branch, or maybe Congress, seems to have committed treason. Yes, I know we need another scandal/something else to worry about like a hole in the head, but, boy-howdy, this is a scandal.

Here’s the story: Apparently, Vladimir Putin, leader of the Russian state, put a bounty on American servicemen and women serving in Afghanistan. He paid members of the Taliban a fee for killing Americans. In war, this may or may not be a standard practice. I don’t know. Nothing surprises me anymore. That’s horrible enough, but that’s not where the issue ends. It seems to end in Washington D.C., with our government. That’s where the treason part starts.

At some point this year, the CIA informed the White House about this. As near as I can tell, the response was… crickets. During the time the White House (and some Senators? The Gang of Eight? Unknown) the Trump administration sold PPE to Russia, Mr. Trump pushed for Russia to rejoin the G-7talks, and, in general, acted buddy-buddy with Putin’s Russia.

What seems to infuriate military folks is that Trump made a big deal of speaking at the graduation ceremony of cadets at West Point and talking about his support of our troops while knowing this information. You may remember that Trump forced the cadets to get together in the midst of the pandemic so he could tell them how proud he is of his own work in getting them the things they need. As Commander-In-Chief, he had both the right and the ability to make that happen, even against the protestations of his generals. He made it happen. They did what they were ordered to do. If he actually knew this at the time, then having bounties on their heads wasn’t something he saw as conflicting with what he was saying.

So, what is the White House saying about this? The White House Press Secretary has just today said that “the President and Vice-President knew nothing of the ‘alleged’ incident”. So, there it is. The New York Times said that the White House was briefed on this “in late March”.

There are a bunch of problems with this. 1) Did the briefing happen or not? 2) If it did, why was there no response against the Russians? 3) If the White House knew and did something about it, why not say so? 4) If the President was briefed and did nothing, did the CIA tell Congress? 5) If they told members of Congress, who were they and why didn’t they say something? 6) What did our Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, who used to run the CIA, think of all of this?

The bot/spin wars are already starting. Most people on Twitter seem to be calling this treason, but one guy split hairs by saying, “no it’s not. We’re not officially at war with Russia, therefore, it’s not treason”. We’ve heard enough splitting of legal hairs in the last 3+ years to know that this might actually be legally true. Still, if cozying up to a regime that you know is actively trying to kill our troops isn’t “legally” treason, what is?

The chaos brought on by this has just begun. I just don’t want it swept under the rug on a weekend in June. Yes, Black Lives still Matter. Yes, there still is a pandemic. But our President may be a traitor. He may be pursuing policies that actually hurt Americans, while helping our enemies, enemies who want to sow discord among us. Does that sound like Donald Trump to you? And if it does, what should we do about it?

Resisting with Peace,

John

Simple Ideas About Justice

I’m getting old, so every once in a while, I like to go back to my roots. These are simple sayings/ideas that I have gotten along the way, mostly from my mother and my grandfather. Jesus in the gospels seem to make simple statements. Educators and authors along the way, politicians, and yes, even Republicans in the past, have said things that we haven’t heard for a long time.

From my mother: “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember what you said”. Why do people in the news not get this?

Also: “If you didn’t do anything wrong, you don’t have anything to worry about”. Why does our justice system not share this value? Innocent people go to jail while awaiting trial and can’t afford bail, while heinously guilty and repeat offenders people never even have a trial because they have lawyers.

From Jesus: “Love your neighbor”. “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you”. Why are laws — any laws — written which prevent this from happening?

From Leonard Nimoy, as Spock: “Nothing unreal exists”. Either something is true or it isn’t. Climate change, the coronavirus, people’s experiences, and inner reality, gravity, all exist. They just do. Whether you believe they exist doesn’t make them any less true. Oceans still rise, objects still fall. People People die. People know when they are being hurt. People experience all kinds of things that you and I can’t imagine. If you don’t want those things to happen to you, you have to acknowledge that they exist, and plan accordingly. If those things never happen to you, it doesn’t mean they don’t happen to others. Which leads me to…

From an old client in recovery: “90% of your life is none of your business”. This is the thing that I find missing in our political world, and our social world, and have for years. Libertarians like the former Governor of Minnesota, (a former pro wrestler) believe this. When asked about denouncing gay rights he said, “What does this have to do with me?”. No, he did not come out and support gay rights as I would have preferred, be he didn’t make life worse for anybody either”. I’m not sure this belief will hold up in modern society, nor am I sure it always should. Perhaps a better way to say it is what my grandmother used to say, “If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all“.

From Spiderman, words by Stan Lee: “With great power comes great responsibility” If every single member of Congress, the Executive Branch, and the Supreme Court believed this, we would not have the corruption that we have in government today. It goes with Jesus’ “do unto others…”, but it specifically deals with the issue of power. In fact, if police forces used this rule, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

From Mavis Staples and the Staples Singers: “People walking around, talking ’bout air pollution. Put your hand over your mouth when you cough. That’ll help the solution”. Prescient? About the coronavirus? Nope. This is another example of old beliefs that we all know, that can simply make life easier for everybody. This is not rocket science, folks. Before COVID, this was just plain kindness. Now, people on videos are taking off their masks and coughing at people. What happened? When did kindness and civility become “politically correct” and to be mocked? They did when we went crazy. Can we be sane again? Please?

From Robert Kennedy: “Some men see things as they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.” For years and years and years, politicians have said, “Why do we need to fund arts programs? Why do we need to give people welfare or food stamps? Why do we have to guarantee women’s rights, or why should we fund voter rights efforts, or why should we protect the environment? These all seem like good ideas to most people, but we can’t seem to find the money for them because we have to save a few dollars in tax money or balance the budget… we just can’t, they say. They say, “be realistic”, so we try that. Then hope gives way to cynicism, when we suddenly have a war, and we can suddenly find all the money necessary to destroy things and people’s lives. The whole Medicaid for All aka Universal Healthcare is a prime example of people telling us what we can’t do as a society, right after 20 years of non-stop war and a $3 Trillion deficit! It is right for people like Alexandria Ocassio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders to say “let’s try!”. Faux- “realism” and cynicism have gotten us here. It’s time to think about what we can do, and try to make it happen, about things other than destruction.

Resisting in Peace,

John