Worse Than Al-Qaida

Morgue Overflow Into Hospital Corridor

Today we commemorate the nineteenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack, in which some 3,000 Americans lost their lives in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington DC.

We are fighting another enemy now that has killed 200,000 Americans this year to date, and infected 6.5 million of our countrymen with a virulent disease which we are just beginning to understand. Many thousands of those dead from coronavirus died needlessly, and millions of those afflicted with the virus need not have suffered from it.

Solidly to blame is our leadership in the White House. President Trump persistently downplayed the seriousness of the outbreak (though now he claims he knew back then the danger). Millions of Americans did not know what to think. Many Trump voters now claim there was no pandemic, and that all this is false news. They refuse to wear face masks—largely because their President has sent mixed messages, frequently at variance with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Even people think less of Trump than I do (there must be some, somewhere) are confused as to what to do in the face of the outbreak.

I hold Trump responsible for thousands of deaths and millions of sickened Americans. One of the responsibilities of those in power is to make sure the right information gets to the people. It didn’t, with horrendous results.

Very few other countries had an experience as bad as ours, with so many needless casualties due to misinformation. To cover his ass, Trump lied that we had done better than any other country.

Why do people still believe his lies? I guess it’s a case of misplaced faith, as Mr. Spock explains below:

I’ll Go Along With That

 

It Goes Way Back…

The Roman Senate in Session

Lest you think that what is befalling the United States at present is of recent vintage, I urge you to consider the two great parties of the Roman Republic around 130 BC. There were two main political parties, the optimates (“the best ones”) and the populares (“favoring the people”). The former—consisting of members of the senatorial class and large landowners—were united in opposition to the tribunes Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus and his younger brother Caius Sempronius Gracchus. According to Wikipedia:

For about 80 years, Roman politics was marked by the confrontation of these two factions. The Optimates favoured the ancestral Roman laws and customs, as well as the supremacy of the Senate over the popular assemblies and the tribunes of the plebs. They also rejected the massive extension of Roman citizenship to Rome’s Italian allies advocated by the Populares.

How familiar it all seems today! The Republicans, whose entire political platform could be expressed in the phrase “I got mine,” are fearful and apprehensive that the unwashed Democrats and their immigrant allies want a share of their wealth. Like the Optimates, the Republicans are “the best ones,” so whatever they do to hold on to power is quite all right with them.

Yesterday, I ran into an elderly woman at the Farmers Market on Fairfax who was a virulent Trump supporter. She thought that the black and other unwashed Barbarian hordes were after her money. I didn’t bother to try reasoning with her, because she was beyond reason. So I merely insulted her, as did the Afro-American gentleman who was in line with me.

I always thought that the nice thing about having money is being able to spend it in interesting ways. Not necessarily so! At some point, this woman inherited some money, problem from her late husband and decided to build an impregnable fortress around the proceeds against me and my kind.

 

 

Takeaways from the Conventions

Wonderland of U.S. Flags

As your reporter for this month’s party conventions, I have been very remiss. To be exact, I have not even watched a minute of either convention. Why would I want to? What does it matter what they say, especially when there is such a disconnect between what they say and what they do. I did collect a number of impressions, however, mostly from the Internet.

First of all, politicians sure love the Stars and Stripes. Many of them sport flag lapel pins to boot. I don’t even own an American flag, which I guess proves that I am not a very patriotic individual. But then, as Dr. Samuel Johnson said in 1775, “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” And I’m no scoundrel, at least not THAT type of scoundrel.

I am surprised that Trump found so many people to say nice things about him. He must have something on them.

Does the Republican party even exist any more? Right now it’s an agglomeration of people who:

  • Hate the fact that there is a government over and above a transfer of moneys to the wealthy
  • Are drawn to absolute power
  • Follow a political platform that can be expressed simply as, “I Got Mine!”
  • Are frightened of having the President say to the, “You’re fired!”
  • Hate libtards and hoity-toity coastal elites

As a matter of fact, even the Democratic party doesn’t seem to exist except as an Anti-Trump party. They used to solve problems; now they just say that they can and will solve problems. I don’t know. It seems that no one cares for poor people any more.

The ultimate winner is the coronavirus, which seems to have perplexed everybody except the Republicans, who just ignore it. Didn’t it go away in April?

 

 

Strange Days

There Is a Late Roman Empire Feeling in the Air

VIGGO: What happened, John? We were professionals.
JOHN WICK: Do I look civilized to you?

John Wick Chapter 1

I get a very bad feeling about what is happening to our country right now. We have a president who is actively dismantling our country, even to the extent of deliberately destroying the mail system that was set up by our first Postmaster-General, Benjamin Franklin, just because he thinks it would stop mail-in balloting. (It would also destroy billions, possibly trillions of dollars worth of commerce.)

It is as if we are living in the days of the late Roman Empire as depicted by such historians as Ammianus Marcellinus and Gregory of Tours. Our “Emperor” is little better than Elagabalus AD 204-222). According to the Ancient History Encyclopedia:

It did not take long for his family, as well as others throughout the empire, to realize that Elagabalus was completely unsuited for the imperial title, spending more time dancing around the altar of the temple and purchasing gold chamber pots and exotic foods than attending to the matters of the empire. Uprisings within the army occurred throughout the provinces, and there was even a failed attempt to replace him on the throne.

The whole world is weakened by the coronavirus outbreak, else our weak leadership would invite attempts by other countries or stateless terrorist groups to wreak havoc. The only reason a coup d’état has not been attempted is that the Democrats are afraid of the gun-toting rednecks. No worries there, those cowardly mofos are actually more likely to shoot their dicks off than organize any real resistance. In any case, if Trump loses the election—if there is an election—we just have to be prepared to escort him and his family someplace where they can’t do any harm. Perhaps Somalia.

 

Mount Trumpmore

Oh Great, That’s All We Needed!

If our current president were to get his face of Mount Rushmore, as he has urged, it would be tantamount to painting over the Sistine Chapel with a convocation of demons.

It is the opinion of most right-thinking Americans that Trump deserves no more than a footnote in the history books, similar to the contribution of Aaron Burr (who actually made it to the vice presidency in Thomas Jefferson’s first term) and Benedict Arnold and perhaps the fictional Man Without a Country. Will there be a Trump presidential library? (If there were, it would consist mostly of Tweets and executive statements of dubious legality.) When George W. Bush was in office, I mused that his Prezidenchul Lie-Berry wouldn’t amount to much. Trump’s would be even more laughable.

Think about it: What would be the legacy of Trump? Once you get past the corruption, the braggadocio, the conspiracy theories, and the outright lies, there wouldn’t be much else left. So sad.

When the Emperor Nero was forced to commit suicide by his enemies, he is said by Suetonius to have exclaimed “Oh what an artist dies in me!” I cannot help but think that sounds like our man in Washington, or is it Mar-a-Lago?

 

On Taking Surveys

’Tis the Season

Now that we are coming up on another presidential election, my telephone is ringing with invitations to join “Town Halls,” whatever those are; and my inbox is full of invitations to participate in political surveys. In my old age, I have become skeptical to the nth degree. When people in front of supermarkets approach me with clipboards in hand, I wave them away.

To me, participating in a democracy means voting—but not necessarily submitting to a whole slew of ancillary events whose main thrust is to change my mind. Today, I received an e-mail that let me know right up front that I might be too quick to support Joe Biden. Thank you, Mr. Putin!

I know for a fact that the Orange King (no names, please!) is going to be in big trouble when he no longer has access to the power of the presidency. Strange things are happening: The U.S. Postal Service is being gutted to discourage mail-in ballots. That, despite the fact that the Donald himself has voted by mail in the past. Now it is too subject to fraud. Well, yes, everything is subject to fraud that that man touches.

Why do I feel that we have all taken democracy for granted? All one has to do is to elect a corrupt megalomaniac to office before the ground appears to disappear from under one’s feet.

 

 

Rewriting History

Still Standing Statue of Saint Junipero Serra

I have written before about attempts by mostly leftist protestors to rewrite history by attacking monuments commemorating Confederate generals, Christopher Columbus, and now Father Junipero Serra, recently declared a saint by Pope Francis. I get very uncomfortable by anyone attempting to mess with the past. People believed and behaved differently in the past, and, yes, they were frequently racist. In fact, before a certain point in the Twentieth Century, everyone was a racist. That included my Mother and Father, whose memory I revere.

The current attempts to punish past racists remind me of a scene from Luis Buñuel’s film The Milky Way (La Voie Lactée), my favorite among his films. In one scene, the religious pilgrims view the exhumation of the body of an archbishop who, because it was discovered he had been a heretic, is to have his body burned. I sincerely doubt that the heretical bishop was discommoded in any way by the firing of his remains; and I doubt that the religious zealots viewing the exhumation and fire received any benefit therefrom. I feel the same way about the renaming of Fort Bragg, the pulling down of statues of Robert E. Lee and Junipero Serra.

Over the years, Martine and I have visited several of the California missions founded by Father Serra. We found them to be places of peace. We know for a fact that many of these missions included barracks for Spanish troops. If there were any depredations against native aborigines, they were conducted by soldiers and not Franciscan priests and monks. Were any of these Franciscans racists? Of course, they were Spanish—and that racism was endemic during that historical era.

Father Junipero Serra, Recently Sainted

Perhaps we should burn all our history books, after first admitting that all previous generations were tainted. Instead of rewriting history, perhaps we should burn all the books and create a mythical Edenic portrait of people who lived in the past and condoned slavery while admitting that all men were created equal. Maybe we should burn the people who who are toppling the statues. It makes me disgusted that I have liberal leanings!

 

Plague Diary 28: The Great MAGA Virus

Does Trump Really Want to Kill Off His Supporters?

With the coronavirus rising again, especially in the Southern states that have formed the core of the president’s base, I seriously wonder if the Donald is trying to kill off his staunchest supporters? While eating lunch, I happened upon an article by Fintan O’Toole in the May 14, 2020 issue of the New York Review of Books entitled “Vector in Chief” from which this quote is excerpted:

We must bear in mind that Trump’s “real people,” the ones who make up his electoral base, are disproportionately prone to the chronic illnesses (“the underlying conditions”) that make Covid-19 more likely to prove fatal. A 2018 Massachusetts General Hospital study of more than three thousand counties in the US reported that

poor public health was significantly associated with the additional Republican presidential votes cast in 2016 over those from 2012. A substantial association was seen between poor health and a switch in political parties in the last [presidential] election.

For every marker of the prevalence of poor health (such as diabetes, obesity, days of illness, and mortality rates), there as a marked shift roward voting for Trump. Trump has acted in relation to Covid-19 like the God who tells the Jews to mark their homes with a sign so that the plague he is inflicting on Egypt will pass by their doors—with the malign twist that he has marked out his own chosen people for special harm.

How ironic! Following the example of their Great White Hope in the Whitest of White Houses, the voters attending his rallies in Tulsa and Phoenix are mostly not masked, and sneezing and coughing and shouting streams of coronavirus throughout the crowd. So far, Trump appears to be immune, but that is helped by the fact that he is a germaphobe who washes his hands incessantly with hand sanitizer.

Politics and Resentment

Robert E. Lee 30¢ Stamp Issue of 1957

My posting the day before yesterday entitled “Bulldozing the Past” ran into some opposition from two old friends of mine. I have a slightly different point of view toward figures of the past such as Robert E. Lee and Christopher Columbus. Both have become, as it were, figures of myth. I have two questions to ask:

  1. How dangerous are these myths today? —and—
  2. How dangerous is it to attempt to bury these myths as if they never existed?

Now I could see wanting to eradicate even the memory of Nazism, the Khmer Rouge of Pol Pot, the massacres between to Hutus and Tutsi, the racism of Slobodan Milosevich and Ratko Mladic, and any number of other episodes in the last several hundred years. One does not want to be associated with mass murderers.

Both Columbus and the generals of the Confederacy were associated with death on a large scale. Probably the quote that Lee is most famous for is the following: “It is well that war is so terrible. Otherwise, we would grow too fond of it.” As for Columbus, most of the death that came in his train was from diseases lurking in the Spanish caravels that laid low the native population of the New World by the millions.

The Italians of America, however, revere the memory of Columbus: The Genoan Admiral of the Ocean Sea was one of them. As for the Confederacy, the myths relating to the War Between the States relate to the Lost Cause beliefs that the South was right to secede from the Union. There were decades of resentment prior to the Rebellion as the South tried vainly to balance their slavery-based agrarian culture against the more industrial North. These resentments still abound today, so it is tempting to want to wipe the slate of history clean at several key points.

But didn’t Trump get elected because a number of flyover states felt resentment at being slighted by the Democrats, by the bi-coastal mafia, even by Hillary Clinton, who assumed she didn’t need their votes to win the presidency?

Erasing still active myths is a dangerous business.

 

More Evil Than Trump

Yes, There Are Forces in America Even More Evil

I have friends who think that all that needs to happen for the good times to come again is for President Squid Lips to be ignominiously defeated and face a lifetime of legal actions arising from his grotesque corruption. But there are worse things to fear.

Most particularly, the people who support Trump are still around. These are the Ayn Rand followers, the ignoramuses of Flyover Country, the rich who want government to make them more rich, the racist haters, the sociopathic gun-lovers, and Confederates who refuse to recognize the surrender at Appomattox. Worst of all are the billionaires and millionaires, the heads of corporations whose sole political principle is self-aggrandizement. Even if the Trumpster dies in office from Coronavirus or STDs or just plain rotting from the inside just like Herod, the people who put him in office are still around. People like the “My Pillow” guy or the various criminals who occupy seats in the cabinet, the Barrs, the Mnuchins, the DeVoses.

Whatever happens to Trump, the United States is in for a long fight to protect their voting rights and their livelihoods and—in the case of African-Americans—their lives.

Election day is only a few months away. The Current Occupant will resume his red-hat rallies in Tulsa (scene of a 1921 massacre of blacks) on June 19 (or Juneteenth, commemorating the emancipation of slaves in Texas). With luck, his cohorts and co-conspirators will dwindle away between now and November—but don’t count on it!