Mitch McConnell would make a lousy life guard. He won’t stay on duty. He doesn’t seem to care about all of those people drowning, calling out for help. The last time anyone saw Mitch he was on his way home for another summer vacation even though he was supposed to be on duty.
Nearly 30 million Americans would tell you that a lifesaver was the $600 per week federal unemployment benefit that ended this past Saturday. One day they were working and then, suddenly four months ago, they weren’t. They were cooks, dental assistants, retail salespeople, and bartenders. They ARE our neighbors. They worked in our schools and our offices. And now they don’t.
Many states were totally unprepared for the deluge of unemployment claims. Some have yet to get caught up. Unemployment doesn’t pay the bills, even in a state like Ohio. And it is taxable. One of my clients shared with me the details of her benefits. She made $19,200 in 2019. Her Ohio unemployment benefit is $172 per week before federal taxes, $155 net. That doesn’t nearly cover food, shelter, health insurance, and the rest of her bills. She is not alone.
The House of Representative passed the HEROES ACT, the bill to extend relief, on May 15th. Mitch McConnell and the Senate didn’t begin to craft a response till the last week of July. The Trump White House, hoping for miraculous cures to both COVID 19 and the economic woes, never bothered to prepare for the August 1st deadline. There were no cures.
A large part of the problem is that the Trump’s point men on this issue are Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and former-Congressman now White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. As reported earlier today on CNBC:
“There’s no question, in certain cases where we’re paying people more to stay home than to work, that’s created issues in the entire economy,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in an interview Sunday on ABC’s “This Week”.
Where are these jobs? Restaurants and bars are closing early, if they even opened, due to the pandemic. And retail, one of the largest employers in this country, is in dire straits. In the last two months we’ve seen the reports of major retailers going belly up. Signet Jewelers, LTD., will be closing another 400 stores. Some of those stores, Kay Jewelers, Zales, and Jared, never reopened after the national shut-down. Others will be closing soon. There will be little justice for the employees of the retail clothier, Justice, which announced two weeks ago that all 600 + stores would be closed. The Justice employees will join the soon to be unemployed from New York & Company. This economy cannot absorb all of these people. These individuals have talents, but what business is looking to grow in the middle of this mess.
I wanted to see for myself the status of our retail environment. Properly masked I visited Great Lakes Mall, Beachwood Place, and Aurora Farms Premium Outlets to survey the damage. To be honest, I was shocked.
There were plenty of vacant spaces in all three retail locations. Big names, like Brooks Brothers, were no longer at Aurora Farms. All of the kitchen and cooking related stores were gone. I saw parents schlepping their children to shop for back to school clothing and shoes. There were a lot of families at the outlet mall, but not a lot of bags.
Great Lakes and Beachwood were far more depressing. Beachwood had one bright spot. Carter’s, a children’s store, recently opened. It is next to the Microsoft store that has never reopened. Beachwood has another issue. Reduced Hours. The mall hours used to be 10 AM to 9 PM. The official hours are now 11 AM to 7 PM. It takes less employees to keep those stores open. Less people employed. I saw a number of stores open only noon to 5 or noon to 6. One of the jewelry stores is even closed two days a week. That store once employed six people. Now there are only two. These are our unemployed.
The moratorium on foreclosures and evictions has ended. The additional $600 federal unemployment relief is gone. And so is Mitch. The negotiations are between the administration in the form of Mnuchin and Meadows and the Democratic leadership, Pelosi and Schumer. McConnell and Trump said that this wasn’t needed when the House passed the HEROES ACT in May, calling it dead on arrival. Now Trump has a couple of underlings working on it while Mitch is on vacation. Will the bill get done? Sure, eventually, but some people have to drown first. But that is bound to happen you don’t have a very good lifeguard.
Pictures – Signs Of The Times – David L Cunix
There are heavily armed men invading Portland. Cleveland and other cities may be next. What is the proper name for these irregulars? What should we call them?
- Trump’s Paramilitary Goon Squad
- Camo-shirted Stormtroopers
- The universally understood – Mercenaries
The first attack took place in Lafayette Park outside of the White House. Pictures revealed that the uniformed shock troops, which did not have any visible names, are from a number of federal agencies. Some of those agencies that make up the Protecting American Communities Task Force (PACT) utilize private contractors. Part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the Federal Protection Service which relies on private contractors. Those are not policemen. They are not National Guard. They are not military. They are not trained to interact with peaceful or even non-peaceful protestors. At best some of them are qualified to quell a prison uprising. The citizens of Portland, Chicago, or even Cleveland are not rioting maximum security prisoners.
Ted Wheeler, the mayor of Portland, has asked for them to go. Governor Kate Brown has asked for them to go. But this invading force isn’t going anywhere.
There is a fear of the “Other” that is being stoked by certain people in this country to our collective harm. Is this your view of right and wrong? Felipe Nystrom is an international cycling champion, court translator in the city of Portland, and a naturalized US citizen. He was accosted last week outside of the county courthouse. Below is his description of the encounter is his own words:
I had to sit on this for a couple of days because of how pissed off I was but here’s my rant. I am and always will be a Costarrican who happens to be a US citizen. I love my country and will always be a respectful guest in this one. However I will not stand for racism whether it is obvious or the person just doesn’t realize it.
Last Friday morning I went to the Multnomah County Court House for work. When I got there about 830 AM I saw a sign on the door that diaf it was court furlough day and that it was closed. So while standing on the sidewalk I called my agency to see what was going on since it was strange that I’d been given a grand jury appointment yo interpret for on a day the court was closed. While the phone was ringing I heard a firm, almost angry, voice from behind me say
“Put the phone down”
I ignored it since it couldn’t possibly have been directed at me since I wasn’t doing anything. Almost immediately a second voice in an even firmer voice said
“WE SAID PUT THE PHONE DOWN. NOW!!!”
At this point I turned around and saw to armed men standing very close to me. Then the first guy said again “Put. The. Phone. Down…Now”
So with confused look on my face I started to put my phone in my pocket and immediately one of them said
“Keep your hands where i can see them!” As he reached his hand closer to his gun.
I thought for a moment I was being pranked so I said
“Well guys make up your minds. You want my phone down or my hands up?”
To which one of them replied “Don’t get fucking cute with us”
Next that same guy asked for my name and I gave it to him. He asked where I lived and provided my address.
I at this point aksed who they were and what this was about. The reply was
“You don’t fucking ask questions. We ask the questions. You answer them. Got it?!”
While he was saying this the other guy was on his radio.
The next question was “Where are you from?”
I answered ” I live in Portland”
As this was happening, two more of these guys showed up so now there were 4 armed men surrounding me.
I have dealt with racist comments many times since I move to PDX and can very quickly notice when somebody is doing it. That question “where are you from” only happens in 2 forms. One of genuine interests to learn something about someone and the other way. To get me to say that i am from another country.
Next one of the recently arrived guys asked again “Where are you from?”
Again I said Portland.
“No no no! I asked where are you from?”
“Portland” I said again.
“This is my address..” and provided it again.
This all only took a matter of minutes but they kept getting closer and closer to me.
“Let’s see some ID”
I never carry my wallet with me. I think wallets are bulky and by not keeping cash or my card on me I save millions by not buying teas and cookies all day so i keep it in my car. Usually my work badge is good enough for anything I need to do at work. We were literally 5 ft from my car and I explained as much and that of we could just go to my car i could show them.
“It’s in my car. My car is right here”
To which they reply…
“So you’re saying you don’t have ID”
“It’s in my car, which is right there”
Another call on the radio and within seconds a pick up pulls up and 2 more of these guys get out. Now there are 6 armed men surrounding me. Every second that passes they keep creeping closer and closer.
“I am going to ask you one more time, where are you from?”
“I live in Portland. “
It is my belief that in that moment they were going to take me into custody as an illegal immigrant. But by sheer luck a deputy district attorney who i had interprered for earlier in the week for a dofferenr grand jury, happened to be coming into work and as he walked by
sar me and asked if I was ok.
One of these men immediately turned to him and said
“This is official business move along right now… keep walking.”
The DDA replied “hang on. I’m a DDA. What’s going on here?”
As soon as he said “DDA” I saw an immediate change in all six of their faces. They looked at eachother so as to ask with their eyes, what they were going to do. At this point one of them said let’s see your ID and two of them walked me to my car. I showed it to them. One of them took a picture of it with his phone. He gave it back and just like that they left.
If there could be any doubt that racism alive and well in this country currently fueled by the president this is yet another example of it.
I want to leave this picture here because for those of us that are not white there is a ver real possibility that when we leave home we may very well not come back and this way there’s a nice picture for the record.
For doing nothing more than going to work while being a US citizen but brown I was very close to being taken and the worst part is that I have no idea by who or where I would have been taken. That is the fear that I get to live with for no other reason than BREATHING WHILE BROWN IN THE USA.
Are you next? Are you white enough? Could someone mistake you as being “Other”? Don’t be so sure. Is this martial law? Where will you be safe once the invading force arrives?
Picture – Playing With A Pretend Army – David L Cunix
Quick Note – Mr. Nystrom was obviously shaken by the experience. I see no reason to correct his grammar or spelling. I wonder if any of us could do any better under the circumstances.
A different Parshah or Chapter of the Torah (Five Books of Moses) is read each week in synagogue. It is a time-honored tradition for scholars to look at a Parshah and find a particular point to highlight. This is called a D’var Torah. What lesson can we learn and apply today from a book that is thousands of years old? Different scholars would/could find different lessons. And then others who might not be scholars, such as you and I, have the opportunity to read both the Chapter and the work of the learned to craft our own opinions and analysis. All of these questions and studies are good and encouraged. The Torah will withstand scrutiny. We grow from the exercise.
A young Rabbi wrote a brilliant D’var Torah about this week’s Parshah Matot-Masei (Numbers 30:2 – 36:13). I am purposely omitting the Rabbi’s name because he would be distressed if he thought anyone would perceive him to be political or choosing sides. And though I don’t want today’s post to be viewed through a partisan lens, that may not be possible in today’s environment.
The young Rabbi noted that this week’s Chapter discussed, in part, the preparation of the Jewish people to conquer and then divide the Promised Land. Two of the tribes asked to have their portions on the east bank of the Jordan instead of west of the river. These two tribes, Reuben and Gad, had lots of livestock and viewed the land suitable. The Bible says that they requested this land “Pens for the flock we shall build here for our livestock, and cities for our small children.”
“Immediately, Moses chastises them and corrects their mistake”, wrote my friend. He cited Moses response, “Build for yourself cities for your small children and pens for your flock”. The lesson to be learned was (and is!) to put the children ahead of the animals and possessions.
The Rabbi’s lesson went on to explore the workaholic who is a business success but a failure as a parent and spouse. And though that is valid and important, my mind flew in a different direction. I thought about the current debate about the opening of our schools.
Should we reopen our schools to in-person instruction? Don’t just tell me Yes or No. Tell me WHY. I believe that we all agree that children need both the education and socialization of the school environment. But are we moving to open the schools now for the benefit of the children or to help the economy? If it is for the children, what is your plan to make schools safe for the children and all of the adults in the school community? If it is for the economy, how do you propose to balance the risks vs. the reward?
There is no national plan for the schools. There are no guidelines and no financing to retrofit the buildings. We are no more organized or prepared now than we were when the schools closed four months ago. We have politicians demanding that the children are returned to the buildings. Many of these same politicians have been diverting the public’s money to for profit online schools that specialized in remote learning. It is reasonable to be skeptical of their motives.
Thousands of years ago we learned how easy it was to confuse our priorities, to forget that our children are more important than our possessions. It is a lesson that we need to learn, as a country, today.
Picture – They Will Return – David L Cunix
Sheila Buck wanted to attend the Trump rally in Tulsa. She had a ticket. The venue was less than half full. There was plenty of room for Sheila Buck and 1000 of her closest friends. Actually, according to the Fire Marshall, 10,000. But Sheila was alone as she cleared the security checkpoint this past Saturday. At some point, whether overcome by her need to attract attention or the spirit of her G-d, she unveiled her “I can’t breathe” shirt, fell to her knees, and began to pray. Offended by the shirt and unsure which god she was evoking, the Trump campaign had the Tulsa police forcibly remove her from the venue. It was a win for everyone involved. Ms. Buck made the national news. The Trump campaign got to have a protestor roughed up, but not too much. And Trump wasn’t forced to hear a disparaging word. Everyone won but the rest of the country. We didn’t get anything positive out of any of this ongoing show and embarrassment.
I am reminded of a different rally, one that took place 28 years ago in Cleveland. I was helping with security the day before the presidential election. Bill Clinton was going to stop at airports across the country. The crowd was huge and in good spirits. The future president was late. The campaign theme song, Fleetwood Mac’s Don’t Stop, was on a loop for several hours. We knew history was about to be made.
The Bush campaign had held a rally in Strongsville a few days earlier. Strongsville High School students were taken to the rally on public school buses to the event. Kids were stopped at the entrance and forced to remove Clinton campaign buttons. It made the news and resulted in a lawsuit. And, it was silly. We were aware of that debacle as we waited for Mr. Clinton’s plane. One group of young men got my attention. They stayed together closer to the back of the crowd. They had on heavier coats than most of us. As the plane taxied to our area, I got a group of equally big guys to come with me. The event started and our friends threw open their coats, revealed their Bush shirts and signs, and were surprised that the guys now standing right in front of them had bigger Clinton signs and made them invisible. No fuss. No fight. They put down their signs and walked away.
Did the Trump campaign need the Tulsa police and the Oklahoma National Guard to hold a rally? Probably not. There will always be dissenters at political events just like there are always hecklers at a comedy club. The pros know how to handle the moment.
My post-election wrap up in 1992 included a paragraph about the Clinton rally:
Burke Lakefront Airport was the scene of Governor Clinton’s last campaign stop in Ohio. I took Phillip, Jennifer, and my new step-daughter Andrea to not only hear the candidates, but to also work as volunteers. I had a great time, but my experience paled beside Phil’s. He not only shook the eventual winner’s hand, he also shook hands with the future First Lady and exchanged pleasantries. Energized, Phillip volunteered to work the balance of the campaign. He learned more about the election process in two days than in all his previous schooling
By the way, Andrea was disappointed that Phil and I had the opportunity to shake hands with the future President and she hadn’t. I told her that it wasn’t that big a deal. After all, more people shook hands with Bill Clinton than had seen Madonna naked.
I lied. It was a big deal.
Political rallies should be a big deal. They should be POSITIVE, motivating, and family friendly. I’m looking forward to returning to those simpler times.
Picture – My Tag – David L Cunix
The 60’s were an era of cultural upheaval and activism. It was a time of change in music, politics, and personal expression. Some say that the 60’s began on November 22, 1963, the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I have always thought that the 60’s began on February 9, 1964, the night the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. What followed was a musical and fashion revolution, the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr, and Senator Robert Kennedy, the Vietnam War protests, the Summer of Love, and Woodstock. And when did the 60’s end? The History Channel says that the 60’s ended at Altamont, December 4, 1969. Others site Kent State, May 4, 1970. I believe that the 60’s ended on August 8, 1974 with the resignation of Richard Nixon, proof that our country needed both activism and the rule of law. Both were important.
Some of us carry the 60’s with us to this very day. We remember the marches and the speeches. There were a lot of both and I confess that I delivered a few of them. I still owe apologies to the youth groups and scout troops my friend John and I bored with our environmental presentations. Some of us remember key moments, events that impacted us and motivated us to action. For me, the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago was my wake-up call. I watched Dan Rather being assaulted by the security thugs on the floor of the convention. Mayor Richard Daly said, “The police are not here to create disorder, they’re here to preserve disorder.” It was time to choose sides and the choice, for me, was easy.
My volunteer work, my leadership in not-for-profit organizations, and even my choice of occupations are directly attributable to growing up in the 60’s when you were given the option of being part of the problem or part of the solution.
It was just after noon on Tuesday, May 26th that my friend Felicia posted a video on Facebook. To my shock and horror I saw a policeman with his knee on a Black man’s neck. He was nonchalantly snuffing the life out of a man. His hands were in his pockets. He didn’t have a care in the world. I asked, “How is this acceptable? What will be the excuse this time?”
This time there were cellphones. Lots of them. We will never know If George Floyd, lying there on the street for the last 8 minutes 46 seconds of his life, could hear the pleas of the witnesses to his murder. People were pleading for the police to let him breathe. People were offering to help. He did not die alone. And those cellphones recording everything from multiple angles.
In the days that followed, the entire world has had a chance to see some of these videos. There was no denying, this time, that a miscarriage of justice had occurred. We have become witnesses to a murder.
George Floyd’s death will not be impacted by what happens next. He will still be dead whether the four policemen are successful prosecuted and convicted or if there are no consequences for their actions like the men who killed Trayvon Martin, Philando Castile, and Tamir Rice. George Floyd’s death isn’t impacted, but YOUR life can be.
Right now millions of young adults, high schoolers, and yes, even 12 and 13 year olds are watching this unfold on TV. Many have had the opportunity to march in the streets and listen to speeches. Some may have even addressed the crowds. Will this moment result in a lifetime of action? 50 years from now will they cite this past week as their wake-up call?
The 2020’s can be a time of change, a time of growth, an era of personal expression. We can make this a better country. Our founding fathers said that all men are created equal, but they didn’t mean it. Now is the time to commit to making it a reality.
One thing hasn’t changed. You are either part of the problem or part of the solution.
Picture – Are We Stuck On The Wrong Side Of Liberty? – David L Cunix
We had a couple of Fortune Cookies left over from the other evening. Our tradition is to crack open the cookie, take a brief look at the fortune, and then to make up something on the spot. I opened mine and stopped. The message was, “There are no ordinary moments”. That was better than anything I would have imagined.
I have lived in Greater Cleveland most of my adult life. I negotiated a transfer here in 1982. This is home. I live in a suburb, one that doesn’t appear on most maps and that wouldn’t thrive if it wasn’t part of the greater whole of Cuyahoga County. The moment I am more than 30 miles away from home, when asked I answer that I’m from Cleveland. When Tamir Rice was killed by the police, that was my neighbor that was gunned down. When the CAVS won the championship, that was my team parading through my downtown. And this weekend, those were my neighbors on the streets of Cleveland protesting the murder George Floyd. And when things got ugly, those were my neighbors’ businesses being vandalized and looted.
The pain is palpable.
My daughter is in Seattle. She watched the city she loves trashed from the vantage point of her apartment window. Her building is in lock down for 48 hours. There is nothing she can do. There is nothing I can do.
I told her earlier today how odd it is to feel so powerless in both this and COVID 19. I am trying to not be a victim of either, but cannot be useful in a meaningful way.
I want to know who is destroying our cities. Who is the Umbrella Man, the guy who unabashedly broke the windows of the AutoZone in Minneapolis early in the initial demonstration. I want to know who brings a sledgehammer to a peaceful protest. Who is the guy jumping on a police car in downtown Cleveland? I confess that it has been a couple of decades since I have marched in protest. There are protesters marching in our cities, but they are not alone.
Our infrastructure has been systematically dismantled over the last few years. Anarchy, whether by design or through a lack of leadership, is still anarchy. No one is safe, not my friends in the newly developed downtown and not those of us in the suburbs, once the norms of society have been forsaken.
The reporters are bravely broadcasting from the front lines. The front lines are here, in Cleveland, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Chicago, and, of course, Minneapolis. There appear to be three groups. There are protesters. There are opportunists, looters who see an opportunity to rob stores and restaurants. And there are provocateurs who are inciting the crowds and confronting the authorities. It is a toxic mix. Add to this over-militarized police forces and the results, days and days of destruction, are inevitable.
And with luck, peace, as we understand it, will return. Our neighbors will need our help to rebuild. Our city will need our help. Whether that it tomorrow or a week from tomorrow, George Floyd will still be dead. We can hope that he will be the last unarmed Black man who dies at the hands of the police. That message has been delivered. Is anyone listening?
One thing is for sure. The illusion of normalcy has been pierced. There are no ordinary moments.
Picture – A Peaceful Protest In Seattle Last Summer – David L Cunix
It is no accident that Bart Simpson is forever 10 years old. Ten year old boys believe that they are the rulers of their world. Ask any parent of a 10 year old. But there are times when we, as parents, must assert our right to protect and help them. Often it is about stopping them from doing something dangerous or stupid. Sometimes it is just reminding them to wear a hat or coat because of the weather. “But dad, the guys with laugh at me!” And it is our job to tell them that their friends will also be wearing coats or will soon be cold and wish that they were, too..
Peer pressure can be a real problem for a 10 year old.
The State of Ohio does not mandate bicycle helmets. According to the Bressman Law website, “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) notes, “Bicycle helmets are 85- to 88 percent effective in mitigating head and brain injuries, making the use of helmets the single most effective way to reduce head injuries and fatalities resulting from bicycle crashes.” Bicycle helmets save lives. President Obama wore a helmet when he rode his bike. Sean Hannity had a total melt down on his March 5, 2014 radio show. He was embarrassed. There was Putin, bare-chested!, swimming the butterfly stroke in cold water and our president was wearing a helmet. Oh the shame…
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has specific recommendations for the wearing of masks in public:
CDC continues to study the spread and effects of the novel Coronavirus across the United States. We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with Coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
The site even has instructions to show you how to make your own mask. When you hear about someone who won’t wear a mask, especially someone in a leadership position, you know that you are dealing with just another 10 year old worried about what his friends will say.
Picture – It’s A Cover Up! – David L Cunix
Working from home has allowed me to do more cooking. Even though everything I make is both low-carb and Kosher, Sally and I still have a fair amount of variety even here at home. In the last week I’ve made chicken burritos, Pho, chicken soup with kneidlach (matzo balls), and a pasta with pesto. Yes, I’ve been cooking American.
It seems like the word American tends to confuse some people. They hear the word and they immediately have an image in their minds of someone who looks a particular way, prays a specific way, and has a collection of beliefs that define who and what is American, or at least, a real American. To be clear, I do not fit any of their imagined definitions of an American. Most of my friends don’t either. And a hundred years ago or so when the families of these so-called real Americans came to this country, there were some already here who would have been happy to have seen these people go back from whence they came.
Since we were seated a proper social distance apart and both wearing masks, it is not an exaggeration when I tell you that I could see in my friend’s eyes that he was distressed. The rest of his faced was covered. Mark (name changed) is a young guy, handsome, a doctor! His family came to the United States when he was still a toddler and settled in Greater Cleveland. This is the only home he has ever known. But his last name isn’t Smith, or Jones, or even a Cleveland acceptable name like Russo or O’Malley. His last name doesn’t end with –ski or -ovich. We talked the other day about being “Other” in this current toxic culture.
Mark grew up an American. His family became citizens and the flag flew outside their home. And yet there are some who would question his status. It is as if some of us are here, some of us are Americans, as long as we don’t get in the way. As I said to Mark, there is an advantage to being “Other” to be able to observe how some in this country behave. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. The people who would attack a Black Church are the same people who would attack a Mosque. The people who would attack a Sikh Temple are the same people who would attack a synagogue. The people who would turn away refugees from South America are the same people who turned away boatloads of Jewish people fleeing the Nazis. There is no difference. Hate and bigotry simply change targets, but the results are the same.
The pandemic has given us way too much time in front of our computers exposed to social media. The memes, many of them created in foreign countries with the goal of dividing us, can be the most disheartening. One of my Facebook “friends” recently posted a truly disgusting meme. There was a picture of President Obama and a symbol of Islam. The caption was “My plan was to destroy America and to convert you to Islam. And then, your Christian God sent Donald Trump to ruin it”. Honest. I couldn’t make that up. I had to read it a couple of times to fully grasp the hate it took to both create and repost such drivel.
There is a constant theme on Facebook that Democrats in general and Obama in particular have an agenda to destroy the United States. Sixty years ago there were some who questioned whether a Catholic could be president. Would Kennedy answer to the Constitution or the Pope? There are enough Catholics in government that that question is now moot. In 2012 we had some of the same people question Mitt Romney, a Mormon. And Barack Obama has been a constant target. The fact that a Muslim, a Jew, or even an atheist could serve as our president eludes these people. The fact that Obama is a self-professed Christian shouldn’t be important, but since he is, the constant barrage of claims that he isn’t says more about those leveling the charge than about him. It seems important to them to stress President Obama’s middle name, as if the name Hussein defines the man. And maybe it does, for them. Or maybe because he’s Black, visibly “Other”.
There also seems to be a need to label Donald Trump as some earthly savior of Christianity. Not being Christian, I find it odd that such a major religion would need a protector, and if I was picking one, he wouldn’t be it. Comparing a family man who has never had a hint of scandal, a guy who embodies what was once called the American Dream with a guy who used to seek publicity from the tabloids for his elicit sexual exploits, multiple marriages, and questionable ethics seems like an odd practice. And yet, I see this daily.
I fully understand policy differences. But the attacks on Obama and Democrats have long stopped being about the mundane. One Facebook “friend” recently posted something from Franklin Graham, the son of the late, and far more apolitical, Reverend Billy Graham. “Unless Christians Vote We’ll Lose’ the Country”. What followed was twenty-six comments. Most of them conflated a particular type of Christianity with the Republican Party with America as they know it. To be clear, there is a place for Mark and I in their America, as long as we keep our mouths shut and let them have their way.
Mark’s America celebrates people who have chosen to come here from all over the world, people who bring their heritages, their cultures and their religions. My America celebrates their diversity and their foods. And it turns out that you can make a really delightful Kosher, low-carb Pho.
Picture – An All American Dinner – David L Cunix
The retired teacher was practicing proper social distancing while she cleaned her golf clubs and talked with her neighbors. She was excitedly preparing for the beginning of her golf league, an opportunity to both play the game she loved and to experience a bit of normalcy. There will, of course, be concessions to the illness. Each golfer will have her own cart and the flags will be sitting on top of the greens. She was also hoping that some of her golf friends, unlike her neighbors, will agree that this whole COVID 19 thing might be overblown and that President Trump is doing a great job.
There is a vast array of opinions on TV and online. Some in the medical field express real fears about the Coronavirus. Some, mostly those getting their medical information from political pundits, may not be nearly as concerned. They are ready to tell you that xxxxx kills far more Americans. At the very least, they will tell you that it is no worse than the flu. That comparison doesn’t fly with the doctors and nurses working in the hospitals. One of my friends, after a difficult shift, was clear that he didn’t want to hear, “this is just like the flu”.
I tend to read books and articles about government, insurance, and politics. I don’t subscribe to Scientific American and wouldn’t have seen this article had a doctor friend not shared it on Facebook. Comparing COVID-19 Deaths to Flu Deaths Is like Comparing Apples to Oranges makes a clear case about the differences. For one, when was the last time you saw refrigerated trucks used to remove the deceased from a hospital? When was the last time we saw so many health care workers fall victim to an illness? Minimizing the condition puts you, the first responders, and our medical providers at risk.
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One of the things I noticed this year during my annual trip to Washington DC this past February was the high level of security. Heavily armed, some on horseback, they were on street corners and at the entrance to many of the buildings. I told a friend that it reminded me of a trip to Paris in 1999 during a time of unrest. I have been going to the US Senate and House of Representatives offices for years. I visit the Ohio Statehouse annually. Regardless of the weather, you stand in line until you access the checkpoint. There you empty your pockets, remove your coat, and walk through a metal detector while your personal items are run through a scanner. Pat downs are not uncommon. So I have to express my shock of seeing armed terrorists threatening Michigan lawmakers in their Senate chambers. How does that happen? Who let them in? The internet and TV news have identified some of the participants as known provocateurs from other states. Here’s a few questions:
- The pictures showing them threatening law enforcement officers and the elected officials. Why were they not arrested?
- Who paid for the people from as far away as California to attend? What organization has “terrorism” as a line item on its budget?
- Was anyone surprised that these protests in various state capitols included Confederate flags and anti-Semitic signs?
There is a sickness infecting our country. It has resulted in the deaths of over 70,000 Americans. It has manifested itself in armed thugs storming our statehouses. Please don’t say it is just the flu.
Picture – The Hospital Parking Lot Is Full – David L Cunix
Dusty, the main character in Alex Bevan’s song Gibson Mandolin, looked up too soon. Spoiler Alert: It does not end well for poor Dusty. Letting your guard down too early can have dire consequences.
We are working hard to earn a solid B in this pandemic. We haven’t locked ourselves in the condo, covered ourselves in bubble wrap, and limited ourselves to occasional trips to the balcony. We are being careful and listening to the medical experts.
Our first masks were abject failures. Sally attempted one from a bathing suit top. It was stylish, Sally is always stylish, but it was too big and of little value. I tried to make one from an old blue t-shirt. The ear loops made from her ponytail holders were of little value. Rubber bands hurt. We were doomed. We finally found a couple of masks for sale at Fresh Thyme. We were on our way. We scored a dozen organic cotton non-medical masks from Naturepedic. The elastic ear pieces fit much better. Having the basics covered, I even ordered two masks from our friend, New York fashion designer Michael Kaye. We’ve got masks and we’ve got gloves.
The next step, once you’ve got protective gear, is to wear it. I recently saw a post on Facebook from a guy laughing at people wearing masks while driving alone in a car. Well of course we do! I put on the mask and gloves before I leave my home. There is a chance that I will come into contact with someone in the garage, at the store, or on my way into my office. The goal is to put this on once, not to take the mask on and off. Every time I put the mask on I am touching my face. The gear is most effective if left on and kept on. Is it comfortable while wearing glasses? No. Do my glasses fog at times? Sure. But these are small prices to pay for safety and safety is the goal.
We have limited our trips outside of our home. I haven’t cooked this much since the kids were little. The side benefit is that we are eating well and may even lose a pound a two. We are walking a couple of miles around the condo complex almost every day. Our neighbors have been doing a good job of social distancing. We’re all trying.
The malls are opening up this week. Some states have decided that this is pretty much over. I could use a haircut. You could, too. I miss eating out, and traveling, and meeting with my clients in person. These are small sacrifices. Will the barber, the store clerk, or the waiter universally practice social distancing? Can they? And can you get a test to find out whether you or they have or have had COVID 19? The answer to all of these questions is no.
Dusty looked up too soon. I hope to not repeat his mistake.
Picture – Butterflies – David L Cunix