Living Large In Carson City: Not the Same As It Ever Was, Not the Same As It Ever Was Edition

“Life in the Time of the Coronavirus”

The chickens have come home to roost. I’ve always loved that saying. It carries with it both a sense of comfort and foreboding. Kinda of like sheltering at home and social distancing. Certainly, life in America, well hell, the world is not like it was at the turn of the New Year. Some things haven’t changed though. Trump continues to lie, but his lies now have an almost melancholy ring to them. In recent days he has been admonished for exaggerating his response to the Coronavirus to almost Herculean heights. I mean he is lying about shit that doesn’t exist, and get this, the media continues to allow him to get away with it.

Now, he has decided in his superior brain that he is smarter than the scientist and medical profession, and that he understands the Coronavirus better than they do. Currying favor to the “I believe in a fairy tales” crowd (most of his base), he wants to end social distancing, so the churches can be full on Easter Sunday. WTF? I won’t degrade my intelligence by asking if this guy is being honest on this one. How can someone who claims to to be a “stable genius” form those words and let them slip out of his pie hole? Of course, America gave up trying to make sense out of what our president says sometime around the “Grab them by the pussy” video back in 2015 or 2016.

Let’s be honest with each other, the shit has hit the fan, and there isn’t much America can do but grab the sides of the roller coaster car and scream like wild banshees. The coaster is heading for the apex of the track, and all of America is about to go over the big hill headed for the bottom. Who knows at this point if it will be Armageddon at the end or will the nation bottom out and continue on down the track to better days. The people at Odds Watch (yes, there is a handicapper for everything) predicts there is a 94 percent chance of a recession in 2020. If you ask Trump, however, everything is fine. Rearrange those deck chairs over there, please.

Speaking of people lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut, some of America’s finest (not) Congressmen and women got that little extra in their paychecks that you and I weren’t offered. Ahead of the coming pandemic a couple of weeks ago, the Trump administration briefed a select few of our legislators who then went out and sold off stock that appeared to be vulnerable if things went south, and we all know they did at this point. That paragon of virtue,

Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, who as the Intelligence committee chair was sitting in on regular confidential briefings about the novel coronavirus, sold his stocks even as he publicly downplayed the risk of the outbreak to voters. Burr sold as much as $1.72 million worth, records show, with large amounts in companies that later would be slammed in the market sell-off.

. . . . . .

Among the stocks Burr sold was $150,000 worth of shares in Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, which has since shed two-thirds of its value. Burr also unloaded $100,000 worth of shares in Extended Stay America, whose stock price has been cut in half since then.  LATimes

It appears, however, that Burr was a bit hasty and left money on the table.

Similar stock sales were also disclosed in the public records by Georgia Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, whose husband is the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange. Loeffler, who also sold shares in companies that took a big hit, has denied any wrongdoing.

Loeffler and her husband began selling stock Jan. 24, the day she joined a private briefing for lawmakers by the Senate Health Committee that included administration officials leading the response to the outbreak. Her stock sales, totaling $1.2 million to $3.1 million, were first reported by the Daily Beast. In addition to the sales, Loeffler and her husband also bought between $100,000 and $250,000 in Citrix, a firm that makes teleworking software and has seen its value go up as Americans are directed to work from home. (my italics) LATimes

Americans have to admit that Trump has done one thing right. He has given the nation the best oligarchy that money can buy. I am over asking rhetorically or otherwise, “Do these people have no shame?” Okay, so I do still ask, but I don’t expect an answer. It’s pretty obvious at this point.

So, my wife and I are social distancing and pretty much sheltering at home. This morning I went out for the first time this week to be at Trader Joe’s when they opened. As I stood outside for five minutes waiting for the doors to open while a crowd of twenty or so fellow citizens milled around keeping our safe six foot distance from one another. As the countdown drew near to the doors flying open, the tension and anticipation was nearly palpable. Shoppers ahead of me and directly behind literally started leaning toward the doors. It occured to me that I should step aside and watch how things played out.

Sure enough, as an employee inside the store approached the door, bodies started vibrating all around me. It reminded me of those zombie movies where the undead are so drawn to human flesh they are literally pulled forward by some unseen force. When the doors opened, and these are grown people mind you, all pretense of social distancing went out the window as the group surged forward into a wad of teeming flesh jockeying for baskets and hand sanitizer provided by the store. In that one action, all plans of escaping contamination went out the window. I stood and waited for, literally, two minutes as the indoor crowd grabbed their baskets and flooded into the aisles. I strolled in alone and grabbed a cart and beelined towards the egg and dairy section first then on to the vodka aisle. A senior has to have his priorities after all.

One final note, I am an avowed news junkie. I get up every morning and read the AP Wire and RawStory. com. Interspersed during the day, I check in with CNN and various email posting from news outlets around the world. Granted, it’s a sickness, but one that gives me purpose.

The Coronavirus has upended my solemn routine. How much sadness and pain and suffering do the media outlets think America needs? Obviously, a lot if the cable news shows are any indication. Granted, Americans need to stay abreast of the changing environment as the virus progresses. However, I’ve found myself sitting down with my evening cocktail to watch the news only to change the channel to American Pickers or some other bland cable show within ten minutes. I know the virus is killing people. I know it is only going to get worse. I know Trump is a lying son of a bitch who will exploit this tragedy for his own benefit. It is just hard for me to watch it unfold hour after hour with no end in sight.

Living Large In Carson City:

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” 
― Aldous Huxley

Greetings from the West, Carson City and beyond. Last week was a whirlwind of air flight, subway mayhem, hordes of people, and the screaming yodel of cop cars, the beep, beep, beep of construction equipment backing up, and the general low hubbub of the City That Never Sleeps. Yes, New York, or more specifically the neighborhood of Bushwich in central Brooklyn. I would never call going to NYC a vacation. No, more like an invasion both on the city and on one’s person. Let’s just say, it’s so good to be back home in the Sierras away from miles and miles of Brownstones that block out any hope of seeing the horizon much less the grandeur of Mother Nature. 

Of course, Bob Mueller’s report came out while I was gone, and Bob Barr’s hopelessly ineffectual spin on its contents left much to be desired. Last Thursday, Congress got its chance to see the “redacted” version that sanitized the worse parts of the report but still left Mueller’s intent fairly clear. The mother-fucker, disdainfully called our president, is a low- down shady character who is unfit to serve the nation or the people who live here. We all knew this on some level, but to see Mueller list 10 times when Trump tried to obstruct justice was sobering as it was audacious. 

Over the past two weeks Trump and his minions have engaged in the age old Washington Two Step in an attempt to spin the report in the administration’s favor. Trump has alternately praised the report as an exoneration and proof of no collusion or obstruction when the report first came out then flip-flopping to denial and abusive language over the report when Congress finally got the chance to read and react to the parts that were left basically intact. This morning Trump’s approval rating dropped six points to 37 %. As we have seen time and again, the Republican spin machine, the White House, and his loyal staff are working overtime to put a bit of lipstick on the pig to make things seem rosier than they actually are today. Yet one has to wonder, What next? Tom Toles the insightful Pulitzer Prize winning Washington Post editorial cartoonist wrote an opinion piece for the paper and put it this way,

Who knows where we go after the Trump era ends? Maybe the damage will be fixable, and maybe it won’t. What we need to know now is that the Trump era is still waxing, and we are letting it happen. We are dancing the Trump Two-step with him. Do we enjoy his arms encircling us? His moist little hands sliding about our waist? His warm breath and nuzzle on our neck? The lacerations on our forehead from the leading edge of his hair-sprayed chisel wedge of golden hair filaments? Apparently we do. Tom Toles

“Apparently we do . . . ” The old adage “You can’t shit a bullshitter” seems oddly appropriate here. Just when you think Trump is on the ropes, he comes back with a barrage of nonsensical clap trap that twists reality and puts a spin so devastating on the issue at hand that most Americans finds themselves in journalistic punch drunk state of mind that is hard to get past. It incapacitates us for days until the next oh-my-god-did-he-just-do, say, act or assert what I think he did moment when the scenario begins again. 

Honestly, I thought I had heard every outlandish excuse for Trump’s actions from every source that he employs. Then Rudy Giuliani took to the Sunday talk shows and came up with this dunder-headed defense of the man he worships. On Jake Tappers’ State of the Union, Rudy said this,

Giuliani defended the Trump campaign accepting help from Russians by stating, “Any candidate in the whole world in America would take information,” causing Tapper to ask, “From a foreign source? From a hostile foreign source?” Giuliani shot back, “Who said it’s even illegal?”

A few moments later when pressed again by Tapper on a presidential candidate getting help from Russians in the 2016 campaign, Giuliani responded adamantly, “No, no, there’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians! It depends on where it came from.” CNN

Uh, Rudy, it came from Russia. Our sworn enemy. The one that swore to bury us under Nikita Khrushchev. The nation that the United States was embroiled in a Cold War with most of my life. You know Rudy, the country where Vladimir Putin is president. The nation that meddled in our 2016 election and quite possibly helped elect your ass clown friend who is now hell bent on destroying our democracy. The gall of this little gangster is breath-taking. This from a man who was the face of Ground Zero in the days after the 911 attack. Rudy, Rudy, Rudy . . . we hardly knew you. Now, I wish we didn’t.

Inexplicably, when pressed by Tapper, Rudy revealed a bit of the twisted logic he was using to justify his statements. It all goes back to campaign contributions. From the article cited above, Rudy had this to say,

Giuliani then suggested the “dirt” the Russians offered to the Trump campaign would not be considered a “campaign contribution” as defined by federal law. In support, he argued that the Mueller report “says we can’t conclude that [it’s a contribution] because the law is pretty much against that.”

But yet again, Rudy is flying under the reality radar. The article continues

Giuliani is incredibly wrong. First, it’s election law 101 that a federal campaign cannot accept “a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value” from a foreign national.

In fact, the Mueller report explains the rationale for this law, noting that “the United States has a compelling interest in limiting the participation of foreign citizens in activities of democratic self-government, and in thereby preventing foreign influence over the U.S. political process.” CNN

This reminds me of a quote by Neil Gaiman from his book American Gods, (I paraphrase), “The morning came on like a migraine after a three day drunk”. Trump and his crew of merry sociopaths have the country by the balls and are squeezing like the little bitches they are. There really is a syndrome in this country called Trump Fatigue. How much does one have to hear, see, or experience of this administration before people begin to throw their hands up and say “Enough!” And not in a good way. When people get so disgusted they stop paying attention and resisting from the sheer overload of lies, deceit, and Tomfoolery afoot in the country, that is when America is truly fucked. Not just the garden variety of fucked, but serious democracy destroying, life-altering fuckdom of the worst kind. 

Or as Kynna Claire once said, “You can’t keep dancing with the devil and ask why you’re still in hell.”