SF Bay Area on Complete Lockdown

Mission Playground closed to the public on Tuesday, March 24, 2020.

Here we go again. In an effort to keep its citizens as safe as possible, and to help keep area hospitals from overflowing more than they already are, the counties of the San Francisco Bay area are instituting complete lockdowns beginning on Sunday – ahead of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s planned lockdown of the entire state. The lockdowns are in effect until 04 January 2021, and include bans on gatherings outside of your own household (not even a walk around the block with your neighbor).

This means absolutely no “cross-pollinating” during the Christmas and New Year holidays. Even if you agree to self-quarantine for two weeks prior, the order is strict on this matter.

The state really has no choice here. Family gatherings are one of the super-spreader breeding grounds for this virus, and the prohibition on gathering outside your own home must be followed if you have any desire to get through this winter without getting yourself or your loved ones sick. I, for one, have no desire to pass this on to my elderly mother-in-law – even if that possibility is relatively remote; and as someone with asthma and a history of hypertension, I most definitely do not want to expose myself to this willingly.

On her newscast last night, Rachel Maddow reported on how the current record-breaking daily COVID cases are impacting hospitals in Utah, Indiana, Missouri, and North Dakota. The firsthand reports, as told by the frontline workers at these facilities, should put a shitload of fear into everyone who watches. What is happening out there right now beggars belief: The intubated COVID patients who must be turned over every few hours, the two or three COVID patients who die at a single hospital during every 12 hour shift, the frontline medical workers whose care for these patients require heartbreaking changes at home.

Conservative media can say what they will about Rachel Maddow, but she gives it to you straight – the truth of the matter at hand, frankly and boldly. And as we head into the heart of the holiday season, this superb report should be required viewing for every American this week…

Throwback Thursday

The three prominent music trade magazines that published record popularity charts back in the day (Billboard, Cashbox, and Record World) based their national singles charts on a combination of record sales and radio airplay, with each magazine having their own statistical equations to rank the records.

A fourth publication, Radio & Records, published singles charts based exclusively on radio airplay; sales figures weren’t factored into their charts.

In the case of this single, the two sets of charts showcased the occasional disparity between a single’s sales and the airplay it received on the radio. The single peaked at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Record World Singles Chart and at #6 on the Cashbox Top 100, but the radio airplay it received was so strong that on the R & R singles chart, it was a #1 single.

Either way, it’s a gorgeous song. Released this week, 41 years ago…

“Sara” by Fleetwood Mac (1979)

Most Difficult Time in U.S. History

A drive-through coronavirus testing site in Bozeman, Mont., on Tuesday.

“The reality is December and January and February are going to be rough times. I actually believe they’re going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation.”
– Dr. Robert Redfield, CDC Director

And as Elizabeth Yuko reports, full distribution of the various vaccines will not take place until, if things go well, mid to late spring, 2021. Until then, we all need take this thing way more seriously than we have been.

I won’t go into another tirade, suffice it to say that everyone should practice social distancing and wear masks as if their lives depended on it, because they do! In fact, stay home this holiday. Family gatherings are a major breeding ground for this. If you do get together, then make mandatory two week quarantines mandatory for everyone.

Yesterday, COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths broke daily records. Don’t play around with this.

A Petty, Angry P.O.S.

Trump’s vile Facebook rant, posted yesterday, really isn’t worth anyone’s time. Don’t give his dangerous conspiracy theories any oxygen. The man is certifiable and needs meds in a serious way (and no, not those thrice daily doses of Adderall he snorts).

But Stephen Colbert’s take on the “speech” is most definitely worth a few minutes of your time…

Trump’s Rhetoric Will Get Someone Killed

In the video below, Gabriel Sterling, a Republican voting system official in Georgia, harshly criticized Donald Trump and his enablers for failing to condemn threats of violence against people overseeing the election in his state. He can barely contain his anger; as Americans, the rest of us should be just as angry.

If anyone gets hurt as a result of Trump’s rhetoric, if anyone gets killed, then Trump and his minions need to be held legally accountable. As it is, Trump should face Negligent Homicide charges for his role in the 260,000+ covid deaths.

The Lost Days of Bergamo

This essay is long but definitely worth your time. Jason Horowitz reports on the devastating early days of the COVID outbreak in Bergamo, Italy.

In certain ways, the U.S. finds itself in a similar situation this holiday season: Hospitals overflowing with nowhere near enough medical staff to treat patients, and with too many of those frontline workers getting the virus after working far too many hours.

Things here are worse now than at any point during the crisis, and it’s all due to the refusal of too many American public officials (mainly those on the Republican side of things, as well as their radical court appointees) to have the common sense to institute a multi-week lockdown and an accompanying mask mandate.

As a result, too many Americans are forced to show up for work, where masking and social distancing aren’t always possible or required. This dramatically increases the chances of getting the virus and passing it on to others.

Other Americans who can quarantine and who can follow social distancing and mask wearing protocols – but who don’t – have shown us their true colors during this pandemic, insisting that ignoring any preventative measures is their God-given right as an American, damn the consequences. ‘Fuck other people,’ they essentially say, ‘I’m not going to compromise my daily way of life or inconvenience myself in the least, even for a short period of time, in order to help my fellow Americans remain healthy’….proving themselves selfish beyond measure.

And so, because of this irresponsible (and, as I see it, un-American) behavior, I am stating right here, right now, I am not taking part in any holiday celebrations with anyone who refuses beforehand to follow basic COVID protocols: Wearing masks anytime they’re out of the home, a proper 2 week quarantine prior to holiday get-togethers, and, most importantly, restricting such get-togethers to less than 10 people (way less than 10, preferably).

I know it’s the holidays and we all want to spend them with family and friends and others we love so dearly. But if you really, truly love them, you’ll follow the protocol above. If not, then stay home and hope beyond hope that next year we’ll be back to some semblance of normal.

Because right now, the selfishness of others not to follow simple COVID protocols is literally killing thousands of moms, dads, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, and grandparents per day.

And for what, other than their selfish need to not be inconvenienced?

I’ll wait for an answer.

Yes, Prosecute Trump

In yesterday’s New York Times, Andrew Weissmann, a senior prosecutor in Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump’s devious 2016 presidential campaign and its relationship to Russia, argued that the next Attorney General has a responsibility to investigate Donald Trump and, if necessary, prosecute him for any federal crimes identified.

Key quotes: “I do not come to this position lightly. We do not want to turn into an autocratic state, where law enforcement authorities are political weapons of the reigning party. But that is not sufficient reason to let Mr. Trump off the hook. Mr. Trump’s criminal exposure is clear.”

“Being president should mean you are more accountable, not less, to the rule of law.”

Of course, we all know that Trump will make every attempt to pardon himself, including (in my opinion), if he is told he can’t self-pardon, resigning early in order to allow a “President Pence” to issue the pardon.

For his part, President-elect Joe Biden feels his administration should simply forget about Trump and let the states pick up the mantle of investigations (which aren’t effected by a presidential pardon).  His administration will have too much to focus on, he says, with the pandemic and its horrible destruction of our economy. 

I understand the argument, however I disagree with it whole-heartedly.  Donald Trump is the most corrupt president in the history of our nation, far and away.  He overtakes the likes of Andrew Johnson, Warren Harding, and Richard Nixon by hundreds of proverbial wide miles.   

A brief list of Trump’s criminal activity includes (but is far from limited to):

Tax Fraud – The New York Times earlier this year reported multiple instances of tax crimes on the part of Trump and his business dealings, including passing money off to his children without reporting it, and criminal activity around listing multiple personal properties as investment properties. Moreover, his company deducted $747,622 in “consulting fees” for various hotel projects. Meanwhile, a consulting company co-owned by his daughter, Ivanka Trump, paid her exactly the same amount (!!).  And I am quite sure investigators would unearth multiple crimes related to the millions of dollars in consulting fees that were paid to unknown people.
Bank and Insurance Fraud – Reports are that Trump provided banks and insurance companies with false information about his financial situation in order to receive lower interest rates on loans and lower insurance premiums.
Campaign Finance Law Violations – The $130,000 hush payment to his porn-star mistress, Stormy Daniels, is just the iceberg of the crimes committed here. Investigators are keen to look into a $10 million loan Trump made to his campaign in the last days of the 2016 presidential campaign.  A loan he made after receiving what is likely an illegal payment of $21 million from business partners in Las Vegas – illegal if, as is likely, it was made for no legitimate purpose.
Bribery – As president, Trump has most likely violated bribery laws by keeping up his normal sleazy business dealings around the world.  And God only knows what sort of threats international leaders received if they even tried to stay at any DC hotel property that didn’t have the name Trump above the door (and likely charged highly inflated room rates at those Trump properties).
Obstruction of JusticeOne thousand former federal prosecutors stated that if Trump were not president, his conduct as described by the Mueller Report, would “result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice.” 

Frankly, I would add Negligent Homicide to this list.  Trump’s horrid, irresponsible, and incompetent handling (or, really, lack thereof) of the COVID-19 crisis is, as I said in my endorsement of Joe Biden earlier this month, directly responsible for a tremendous majority of the 266,000 COVID-related deaths in the United States to date.

Finally, let’s not forget the Authoritarian bent of Trump’s presidency.  He has checked each of the ten markers for that dangerous, far-right political ideology:

Taking sides with a foreign power against domestic opposition.
Detention of journalists.
Loss of press access to the White House.
Made-up charges against those who disagree with the government.
Use of governmental power to target individual citizens for retribution.
Use of a terrorist or other incident to take away civil liberties.
Persecution of an ethnic or religious minority, either by the Administration or its supporters.
Removal of civil service employees for insufficient loyalty or membership in a suspect group.
Use of the Presidency to incite popular violence against individuals or organizations.
Defying the orders of courts, including the Supreme Court.

If federal or state investigations lead to criminal charges which in turn lead to prosecution, my belief is that so much would pour out about this man’s absolute desire to obtain and retain power for power’s sake, and that testimony from witnesses would overwhelming show his attempts to subvert the Constitution in efforts to impose a sort of dictatorial form of government on the United States. 

The list of probable crimes and the authoritarian checklist… no lawmakers of any political stripe, of any political office, should opt for reasons of political expediency to ignore Donald Trump in the name of turning the American page.  This is a dangerous man who almost destroyed the United States of America, and may still if we don’t completely kill the ideology by by cutting off the orange, spray-tanned head. 

Barack Obama made a huge mistake, in my opinion, for not letting his government prosecute George W. Bush administration officials for the war crimes they committed in Iraq.  The new Democratic administration needs to pay attention to Mr. Weissmann: “Being president should mean you are more accountable, not less, to the rule of law.”

The precedent that would be set in not prosecuting Trump would green light this sort of behavior in future administrations; and before we know it, likely in our lifetimes, the “American experiment” of a constitutional democratic republic form of government will come to an end.  

National Popular Vote Update, 29 November, 11:00am, PT

There are still votes to be counted, largely mail-in ballots that need to have signature issues sorted out, as well as the last of the provisional ballots that require final investigation before determination is made that they’ll be counted. But the totals will change slightly, as well, due to the various ongoing recounts.  In Georgia, Trump picked up a handful of votes that hadn’t been counted the first time around; the same for Biden in Wisconsin.

The presidential, House, and Senate vote numbers from all 50 states and the District of Columbia need to be final and certified by Tuesday, 08 December 2020.  In the presidential contest, the official election takes place on Monday, 14 December 2020, when the 538 members of the Electoral College meet in the state capitals and cast their votes.  If each member votes as per their state’s dictate, Biden will receive 306 votes and Trump will receive 232.

The Electoral College votes, of course, make the national popular vote non-binding; however, in my opinion, those national numbers give us an indication as to the sort of mandate the winning candidate has been given by his or her fellow Americans.

The Democratic ticket has, to date, received well over six million more votes the Republican ticket:

Biden/Harris: 80,259,147 (51.1%)
Trump/Pence: 73,967,466 (47.1%)

While not a landslide by any stretch, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have won a comfortable national victory in which a solid majority of Americans have rejected the toxic, dangerous, Authoritarian Republican incumbents – at least at the executive level; their choices in House and Senate races are a bit more perplexing.  More on that in a separate post.