Living Large In Carson City: Stupid People Got No Reason To Live

Never underestimate the power of stupid people in larger groups. George Carlin

Since well before the 2016 election, like most thinking Americans, I was a little confused by Donald Trump. To be sure, all Americans can be forgiven simply on the face of what the man had to say. And of course, his penchant for telling lies. Who in their right mind would speak out loud what most four year olds know should only be expressed in their private thoughts. Who says, “I could shoot someone on 5th Avenue, and nobody would do anything?” Or the old standby he pulls out to make polite conversation, “I grab ’em by the pussy.”  I mean honestly who says things like that in the real world.

Fast forward to April 2020 where Mad King Donald has morphed into a clinical lab for conspiracy theories, ego infused proclamations that can sear one’s eyebrows clean off one’s face, and delusions of grandeur that would shame Kim Jong Un (if he is still alive). Americans have officially moved beyond the realm on reality to something not even the Twilight Zone would air. Yet, whereas two weeks ago, America was holding its collective breath in hopes that the Coronavirus would quietly go away and spare the nation more senseless deaths, Trump has gone full metal jacket and life as Americans use to know it is gone.

It’s near the end of April and the virus continues to rage on with no end in sight. Trump is pushing for an end to  social distancing in some areas of the nation, and still not admitting that it is the healthcare experts who should be running this shit show as to when it would be safe to open the country back up. His logic is that the economy has to restart to get businesses back up and running before the economy falls apart. Oil has tanked buy slowly reviving. The Stock Market is limping along like a homeless person wandering the streets of LA. And good people are clamoring to be set free from governmental regulations. More on these people later.

This is where it gets weirder. Last week, he claimed some pretty extraordinary stuff, not the least of which is that he has absolute power over the states, and basically, he is above, or maybe, is the law. Constitutional scholars were quick to point out that he has no such power. Backtracking the next day, he backed off of that claim only to reassert it in the following few days. Most Americans have heard his proclamation, yet, where is the hue and cry to have the bastard committed to the nearest jail or loony bin? The silence from the masses is deafening and surprising. Three years ago, only his basest base would have stood by and let such an outrageous statement stand. Now, it seems like all of America is his base. Possibly, Americans have heard so much crap come out of his mouth that numbness has set in or maybe the country has gone a little insane along with him.

The question is what will Trump’s assertion that “When somebody is president of the United States, your authority is total” as he said in a press conference recently mean in the long run. Most Americans will shake their head and say there goes Mad King Donald playing Napoleon again. But there are those like the ones mentioned above who will take a totally different stance.

On opening up the economy, there will be more protests like those that happened last weekend where seemingly intelligent, non-basket of deplorables types, will petition state governments to open up the economy to gets paychecks flowing back into the pockets of the working class. If that were the sole concern, it would be understandable. People have to eat. Theys have to pay their bills and on and on. Americans are frightened right now and will grasp at any hope if it promises them a safe haven.

Of course, the issue here is America is only at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, and it is going to be some time before infections peak and level off. Reopening the economy could have the exact opposite effect if a month from now infection rates increase and the economy has to be shut down again. It is a dilemma only the health professionals can speak intelligently on, certainly not Trump.

Yet, Trump is pushing for phase 1 to begin as soon as possible. Why now? Why take the risk? An answer can be found in the fitness industry.

Their inclusion follows a last-minute lobbying push by an industry not known for flexing its muscles in Washington. While not every major company was part of the effort, conversations with 10 leaders in the fitness-club business reveal an influential network of relationships that kicked into gear over the past few weeks and helped move gyms to the front of the line — even to the surprise of many in the industry.

Noteworthy figures in the effort include a Trump-loving fitness-center owner in Pennsylvania, Rudy Giuliani’s son Andrew, billionaire real-estate mogul Steve Ross and the US Surgeon General. CNN

Gyms are like the worst possible establishments to reopen. As the article notes they are places where people sweat, breathe on each other, and share unsanitized equipment as a natural course of action. Yet, there they are on the frontlines calling for relaxation of the social distancing mandates. If, as the story notes, “an industry not known for flexing its muscles in Washington” can have an effect on the president’s decision making process, what power would industries like oil and gas, the restaurant associations, airlines, or worse yet, the National Football League be able exert on Trump to open the country  -safeguards be damned.

Trump is too much of a capitalist screw up and fearful of his reelection prospects not to take some action to open things up on some level. The group that should strike fear in the hearts of Americans are his whacko base. The question should be asked why is it that some right wing protestors show up armed to the teeth simply to stand around on governmental building steps and look awkward and a bit unhinged. Still, these people are a growing concern to most thinking Americans.

While many Americans have been concerned that Trump’s base might turn ugly if he isn’t reelected, now with the onset of the virus and his reelection prospects in doubt, some in the psychiatric field are taking a more serious look at what his base might be capable of in times of crisis.

In an article by Igor Derysh for Salon titled “Trump’s lockdown protesters resemble ‘child soldiers’ and ‘urban gangs’”, he interviewed Dr. Bandy X. Lee, a forensic psychiatrist at the Yale School of Medicine, about her findings. Derysh also notes,

Lee is also “a project group leader at the World Health Organization Violence Prevention Alliance. She told Salon that Trump’s recent call to “liberate” Democratic-led states was a dog whistle to his core supporters.”

“Subconsciously, it is a loyalty test for the people,” Lee said. “In Africa, where I did some ethnographic work, child soldiers would be recruited and made to kill a family member to demonstrate their allegiance to the government and not to the family. Similarly, in urban gangs in America, one may be challenged to kill a police officer to prove one’s willingness to uphold gang rules over societal rules.

“When Donald Trump suggests that the virus be taken as a ‘hoax’, that people gather in churches or that people protest for their own sacrifice, he is actually testing people’s loyalty to the ‘laws’ of his mind over the laws of nature, or even impulse for survival. The more he abuses them, the greater their devotion grows, since the psychological cost of admitting their mistake is ever higher — and so it becomes easier to dig a well of unreality than to see the obvious truth. Salon

In recent days Trump has spoken from the podium at his daily press conferences about gibberish that makes him look totally deranged. Yesterday, he suggested his medical team look into injecting disinfectants or light into people’s bodies to eradicate the virus to the horror of medical staff looking on. As President Andrew Shepherd noted in the final scene from American President,

“America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight.”

In the error of Trump, those words could not be more true.

Whacko Doodle of the Week

Las Vegas Mayor, Carolyn Goodman, in her interview with Anderson Cooper of CNN.

Living Large In Carson City: “When I woke up this morning, things were lookin’ bad” Edition

Now he’s Gone
Lord he’s gone
Like a steam locomotive
rolling down the track
He’s gone
He’s gone
and nothing’s gonna bring him back
He’s gone

Grateful Dead Europe ‘72

Some days just don’t pan out the way you hoped. In these days of sadness and foreboding of what is going to happen in the future, the last thing Americans wanted to hear was more bad news. When you consider the omnipresent and omniboring hogwash coming out of Washington daily in the form of Mad King Donald’s “press conferences”, one would think that the Fates would have mercy on mortals and let things slide for just a little while. But no.

Avoiding politics for a moment, it was with heavy heart that Fiona Prine announced earlier today that John Prine was dead. For the past three weeks or so, America has waited with bated breath in the hope that John would somehow beat the virus as he had cancer twice before. Those bouts with the big C took part of one of his lungs and a portion of his throat. Still, he was able to produce, write, and release a new album last year. The man was as one pundit called him “the Mark Twain of his era.” There are few compliments better than that a human could hope to be remembered by.

I last saw John at Red Rocks about ten years ago. I’ve always known that John was a giant among musicians, but even I was surprised by his opening act, Emmy Lou Harris. Most musicians probably never have the chance to meet a star on the level of Emmy Lou. To have her as your opening act, well, it speaks to the magnitude of the man and his influence on the music world. He was one of the great ones. One of his last high profile appearances was on Austin City Limits last year. Worn and battered, buffed up like a bull frog, he didn’t just play his new and old tunes, he attacked them, and I am sure, added millions to his already considerable fan base.

I first heard John when he put out his first album title simply John Prine. Some of his most memorable songs came from that first offering. “Sam Stone”, “Paradise”, and “Hello in There”, “Illegal Smile”, “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore”, “Donald and Lydia”, and of course, “Angel from Montgomery” would pave the way for a career that forged a path of fame and reverence for an army of dedicated fans.

I was 21 in 1971 when the album came out and about to graduate from college. My draft number was 40 with a bullet. Something about the songs on that album spoke to me like few songs ever had. As a budding hippie, “Illegal Smile” struck a chord in me on the lighter side, but “Sam Stone” spoke to me of the reality of the Vietnam War and the future that I faced. But it was “Paradise” that sealed the deal for me. I had never heard of a singer/song writer that could speak through his lyrics with such raw emotion and sorrow.

Fiona Prine sent out a message to his followers on Facebook. In part it read,

From Fiona Whelan Prine…

Our beloved John died yesterday evening at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville TN. We have no words to describe the grief our family is experiencing at this time. John was the love of my life and adored by our sons Jody, Jack and Tommy, daughter in law Fanny, and by our grandchildren.

John contracted Covid-19  and in spite of the incredible skill and care of his medical team at Vanderbilt he could not overcome the damage this virus inflicted on his body.

I sat with John – who was deeply sedated- in the hours before he passed and will be forever grateful for that opportunity.

Unlike the lyrics to Same Stone which state, “Sam Stone was alone/When he popped his last balloon, /Climbing walls while sitting in a chair.” John Prine was never going to die alone. Millions of fans woke up today having lost a psychic connection to an old friend and sadder for the knowledge “he’s gone”.

Peace and Happy Trails John

Living Large In Carson City: Helter Skelter/Look Out, ‘Cause Here She Comes Beatles Edition

Turning and turning in the widening gyre. The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. William Butler Yeats

The time is now. Helter skelter. Charles Manson

Maybe it is a sign of the times when one of the world’s greatest poets and one of history’s most vile madmen can be quoted together and the outcome makes perfect sense. As Americans face a long, lonely haul before the end of the coronavirus outbreak can even be accurately predicted, all patriotic citizens should take a moment to reflect. Working through the haze of self quranteening, furtive early morning runs to Costco in search of the elusive toilet paper roll, and late night cocktails and snacking, most of America is too stupefied to take note of the state of the U. S. government, much less make sense of it. Such are the times.

Ground zero at my house is relatively calm, if not, with a fine pall of worry and concern hanging over our humble estate about how this is all going to play out.  Nevada is ranked number 23rd in the nation with just over a 1,000 cases diagnosed and 17 deaths. Of course, most people don’t understand just how lopsided the population concentration is across the state. Consider at this time, the megapolis of Las Vegas accounts for 753 of the diagnosed cases and 15 of the 17 deaths. The numbers are growing, of course, with yesterday accounting for 48 of the diagnosed cases since Monday, March 30. I digress.

Underneath all of the folderol and wacky miscommunication coming out of Washington and Trump’s mouth, serious shit is happening. Serious shit that the president and his minions would be happy for the rest of the country to ignore. In case America has forgotten, there is a presidential election coming up in November, and ready or not, the federal government and the states need to be prepared for it. This is where it gets complicated and nasty.

For all my life, there has been one truism that has held true through every election, presidential or otherwise: Republicans will do everything in their power to suppress the vote, which skews the election in their favor. Of course, over history there have been times when the issue swung to the other side like during the Jim Crow era, but in our modern world, Republicans have been the culprits. It doesn’t matter if was the Poll Tax, tricked out gerrymandering, throwing people off the voter rolls for no apparent reason, or simply, as we see today, closing down polling places at the last minute leaving voters to fend for themselves. The poor are disproportionately affected by this in a negative way, well hell, all Americans are to some degree.

Considering Trump’s manic thirst for power, the states need to take the lead on this pronto. Since there is no way to predict when the coronavirus will abate, or that it might go away during the warm summer months only to rekindle in the fall, the November 3 election date is iffy at best. Conventional wisdom holds that given Trump’s authoritarian tendencies, it isn’t a stretch to see him executing an executive order cancelling the election in light of the virus’s toll on the economy and the country.

The only way to possibly avoid such an action is for mail-in voting to be in place when November rolls around. The problem is that state’s are going to be cash strapped for the conceivable future due to outpouring of funds to prop up the medical profession as the virus takes its toll. Normally, the states could turn to the federal government to subsidize a project like this, but not in Trump world. Hell, he’s reluctant to send funds and equipment to state’s whose governors he sees as as not being appreciative enough of his actions.

For Trump, the virus is a wet dream that not even he could have imagined. In it he will see the perfect excuse to cancel the election and declare himself the grand poobah for four more years. Does anyone think that a court challenge wouldn’t go all the way to the Supreme Court? Does anyone have faith in the justices coming to  a fair and impartial verdict that puts the country first ahead of Trump’s wishes? I don’t think so.

In an article titled “How the coronavirus pandemic could soon explode into a constitutional crisis” by Cody Fenwick writing for Alternet, Fenwick quotes Davie Daley author of the new book UNRIGGED: How Americans Are Battling to Save Democracy who is sounding the alarm about just what could happen if conservative Republican governors follow Trump’s lead to suppress the vote later this year. Here he talks about recent events in the Democratic primary in mid-March,

. . . it gets harder and harder to imagine how a normal election might take place. As the crisis was ramping up, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced that he was canceling the March 17 election, in which Democratic primary voters were primed to go to the polls. He made this announcement the day before in-person voting was to take place, citing the danger posed by the outbreak, only to be ordered by a judge to proceed with the vote. He defied that order and kept the polls closed anyway. RawStory

Speaking of the polls, the article goes on to point out some obvious and serious concerns. Fenwick notes that the virus is especially hard hitting when it comes to seniors. Seniors are the primary source of people power that run most elections. What if there just aren’t enough poll workers to open the polls, or they are too frightened to show up at an event where hundreds if not thousands of people file in off the street to stand three feet away from them as they get their ballots. Fenwick also points out, how will voters exercise safe distancing when standing in line while queueing up to vote. Daly says it best,

“There are solutions, which all revolve around early voting, expanding vote by mail, expanding drop off centers and no-excuse absentee balloting,” said Daley. “All of this needs to be done in an effective way, and all of it costs money.” RawStory

Why are Republicans so afraid of mail in voting. Well, first of all, they can’t control the turnout. Second, if they can’t control the turnout, they can’t inhibit onsite polling places from dismissing voters as they show up to vote. This would mean they would have to turn to more nefarious means of suppressing the vote, further exposing their underhanded actions to skew the will of the American people. Old folks, minorities, and disabled voters would suddenly become a force to be reckoned with. In their own words, the issue comes down to this,

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Georgia State House Speaker David Ralston became the latest GOP official to warn about the perils that vote-by-mail initiatives would have on his party.

“This will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia,” he said. “Every registered voter is going to get one of these. … This will certainly drive up turnout.” RawStory

And now famously, Mad King Donald,

Trump earlier this week similarly told “Fox & Friends” that Democrats were pushing for initiatives that would generate “levels of voting that if you ever agreed to it you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”RawStory

And so it goes.

Wacko of the Week Award

On Tuesday afternoon, a train engineer named Eduardo Moreno, apparently with great deliberation, derailed the freight train he was manning in Southern California, nearly killing occupants of three nearby cars. His target? The USNS Mercy, a Navy medical ship that’s been assisting nearby hospitals with COVID-19 patients.

“I had to. People don’t know what’s going on here,” Moreno reportedly told the officer who arrested him. Apparently, Moreno believes in a conspiracy theory that the coronavirus crisis is a hoax being deployed to cover for a shadowy takeover of the government. RawStory