Category Archives: COVID-19

A Postcard From the Other Side of the Pandemic

Coronavirus

Hi. You guys missing me yet?

April 13, 2022

It’s a warm sunny day here in Northern California, the kind of day when you sit out on the porch with a cool beverage in hand, some tunes on the phone, and just marvel at the wonders of nature.

Hard to believe just two years ago we were hunkered down, fearful of going out into a public place, fearful of coming in contact with anyone else, fearful of even breathing without a mask on. Fearful, fearful, fearful.

It was all about the fear. And making sure to wash your hands.

Not that today we are without fear. I don’t see anyone clamoring to get on board a cruise ship or travel to any of the countries where the now downgraded to an epidemic COVID-19 still lingers. Shaking hands still occurs, but fist bumps are the standard now. You still see folks walking around with masks on, but I think that’s just going to be normal for years to come, especially since the report came out about how regular flu, stomach flu, hell even the common cold all dropped precipitously when everyone, or at least most of us, were masked up.

I guess we’re all turning Japanese.

There have been adjustments to the “new normal” which is a phrase as obnoxious as any Madison Avenue ad slogan ever was. There is no “new normal” just as there is no “old normal”. There is just normal, the usual for the time. Yes, back before COVID it was not common to work from home or do most of your shopping via the internet or talk to relatives via Zoom, but many people did all of those things. Now more people do.

And it’s normal.

That initial surge of people going to movies, concerts, sporting events, the theater, has slowed down a bit. It was natural there would be a rush to be with others once the pandemic was declared under control. Humans are by nature a societal species, we need contact with others of our kind to survive. Now it’s even hard to remember those days when the lady in line ahead of you at the supermarket barked to stay six feet away even though between your cart and hers there had to be a least a seven foot buffer zone.

Speaking of which, remember running to buy up toilet paper? Everyone bought so much of it now stores can’t give it away.

Some things that were a product of those times are now standard.

People seemed to enjoy outdoor dining so the parklets created from parking spaces in front of restaurants have remained making even the most Midwest American city look like Paris in the 1920’s (sans stinky cigarettes).

Retail mall parking lots have been redesigned to accommodate the surge in drive up/pick up services most retailers are continuing to offer. I do think there will be some rethinking of that idea once those same retailers begin to notice the drop in per ticket revenue, a factor of fewer impulse purchases at the register.

Zoom is still going great guns but now faces competition from the advent of specialized video meeting apps, from RomperRoomz for kids to BrideNGroom for wedding planners to Bloom for gardening enthusiasts to GloomNDoom  for depressives.

Of course one of the biggest changes was the advent of the Live/Work office building. Challenged by companies bugging out of downtown skyscrapers because their work forces were happy to trade in long commutes for virtual meetings and being able to spend more time with their families, developers worked to remodel their buildings into hybrid apartment-office spaces. Office workers can now have an elevator commute to their jobs, if they even need to go into the office at all. In addition it seems like every building has one floor or more dedicated to rent by the hour conference rooms, an easy and economical way for far flung work forces to occasionally meet face to face.

That has lead to a decrease in traffic, especially in once highway jammed metropolitan locations like Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. Not that anyone is complaining about the downturn in traffic accidents, air pollution, or noise but there is worry that this will lead to fewer auto sales, less gasoline consumption, and fewer auto insurance policies or in other words a possible hit to the economy. It hasn’t happened yet and there are still plenty of people driving cars but the signs are there.

One thing that happily went back to what it was before is school. Happily for parents that is. Also for kids if they want to be honest. After class activities have returned, sports, music, theater, and the feeling of community a school engenders will never be taken for granted again by any student who went through the pandemic. Not to say it’s completely the same. Virtual teaching brought about the end of absenteeism and truancy. No excuse to miss class is accepted since class can be beamed into your bedroom. And if you’re not signed on, you’re busted.

We still have the divide between those who took the precautions, believed the science, listened to the experts, etc. and those who didn’t. That rift is healing slowly but should be aided by the start of Trump’s criminal trial and, hopefully, conviction. Plus the benefits of the Biden rescue bill and infrastructure bill are now becoming so evident even the capitol insurrectionists still not in jail are having to admit they were wrong. Those combined with national polling that shows total disgust with Republican voter suppression laws has Democrats salivating over an increase in their congressional majorities this November.

It’s been a long two years that are unlikely to ever be forgotten by anyone who has lived through it. We mourn those we lost, but we look forward to the new world ahead. And we will remember that that world will have come from this one, good and bad.

Exene Cervenka, masked up even when it wasn’t fashionable.

Shapiro Out

 

 

The Trumpcine?

It’s been swell taking a Trump break. I made a conscious decision to reduce the number of former guy posts. All he’s done since leaving office is lie about the election and everything else. He hasn’t made any news, fake or otherwise until last weekend.

The RNC had its winter retreat at Mar-a-Doorn, if only they’d retreat from their 2016 and 2020 nominee. The joint was jumping with party luminaries and potential 2024 candidates who are Trumpier than the original model.

The keynote speaker was the Kaiser of Chaos. It was a litany of familiar grievances, attacks on fellow GOPers, and lies but he added something new:

The former president said, without saying who, that someone recently suggested to him that the coronavirus vaccine should be called the “Trumpcine.” He bragged about his handling of the pandemic, dismissing the widespread criticism of his approach and not mentioning the more than 500,000 who have died of covid-19.

The Trumpcine? Uh, Donald they name vaccines after living viruses, not living people or monsters in your case.

Just imagine people calling it the Trump Harumph instead of the Fauci Ouchie. Ugh, just ugh.

If the Kaiser of Chaos wants a vaccine named for him, it would be nice if he’d actively promote its use. Never gonna happen, my friend. I’m stealing Paul Reiser’s catchphrase since we’re rewatching Mad About You. I only steal from the best, my friend.

We could, however, use a vaccine against Trumpism and all the forces that former President* Pennywise has unleashed.

If only there was a jab that could cure white supremacy, anti-Semitism, QAnon delusions, and the other maladies that exploded during the Trump Regime. I’d love to jab away my memories of his presidency* as if it were one of those movies or teevee shows that turns out to have been a dream like St. Elsewhere. Now, that would be a happy ending.

In other Trump related news, the investigations in Atlanta and Manhattan are heating up. The Manhattan DA’s office seems to be mounting a full court press to flip the man who knows where Trump’s financial bodies are buried, Alan Weisselberg. Circling around his son, who seems to have lived large and largely tax-free on Trump’s dime, is a classic prosecution tactic. There are no pardons to dangle this time. Break a leg, y’all.

I have a dream that sometime this year, I will augment my original nickname for the former guy and call him the Indicted Impeached Insult Comedian. Make it so, prosecutors, make it so.

Let’s circle back to the Trumpcine with a last word from Roseanne Cash:

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes

(That’s my vaccination card.  Yes, it’s hot pink. I’m not sure why, although I will say it’s a great prompt to keep me from inadvertently throwing it away.)

When the pandemic began I was struck by the singularity of the moment. I studied history, after all, so while the United States was already in the middle of a historic catastrophe of a presidency, that event wasn’t immediately apparent to everyone.

The pandemic declaration wasn’t as easy to discount and it made its mark on our national consciousness. Early on my family was on a group call that was part of our effort to keep my 80something parents in good spirits when my middle sister started talking about how incredible it was to be living through something we had all learned about in history class.

I thought that since most of us were so keenly aware of being in a pandemic that as a nation we’d have a shared experience, and because we were all having more or less that same experience our conversations about that experience would reflect a common struggle. Boy, was I wrong, huh?

Now I did understand that people whose jobs were essential—medical personnel, police/fire/emergency services, grocery store workers, home improvement store workers, etc.—were not going to be able to shut themselves up at home. But what I failed to imagine was how many of the rest of us weren’t so keenly aware of being in a pandemic, and that national shared conversation never emerged.

But a national conversation has now emerged, and instead of being about the struggle of isolation, it’s about the promise of hope. We’re now finally talking about the same thing:  being vaccinated. Social media is full of vaccine selfies, vaccination cards, and everyone sharing information about where to get that elusive and lifesaving jab.

(Now I know that there are a lot of people–too many people–who won’t get vaccinated. I know I’m supposed to say that people believe different things and we just need to let them be and to respect their choices. Well, I don’t respect their choice because I don’t respect things rooted in pure ignorance. These same people are going to be complaining when they are barred from movie theaters and other indoor spaces because they couldn’t make the smallest possible effort to fight Covid. That’s going to be my last mention of them because as the Polish proverb goes, “Not my circus, not my monkeys”.)

Beyond the hope, relief, and joy of being able to safely move in the world again, we are also united over a dominant question:  “What side effects did you have?” Getting the vaccine is a balancing act between the fear of a new kind of vaccine that is an incredible medical accomplishment but which can also make you feel awful, and a deadly disease.  OK, when I put it that way, I guess it’s not really a balancing act. But I do think that despite how safe and incredible all of the vaccines are, especially the exotic-sounding mRNA vaccines, in our small way we’re pretty brave for stepping up and doing our part to end this nightmare. Then again, I hate needles, so that could just be me talking.

And although all our stories of hope, relief, and joy are part of this uplifting national conversation, for me it’s the stories from the people who have been as locked down as much as I have been that resonate the most. My spouse has special risks and so I have been the front line person in our family. We will get our second shots Saturday. I have had to be extremely cautious since last February and so haven’t been anywhere except pressing medical appointments. He has had to completely shut himself away in the same way, and as he’s an extrovert this has been so much worse for him than it has for me (the rare female INTJ). I love him so much—being together for a year has brought us closer—and all our joint sacrifice has weirdly been an unexpected joy as well.

But I’m also going to look forward to other joys in the upcoming weeks:  my first haircut (and color!!) in 14 months, being able to do my own grocery shopping, eating a hot meal in a restaurant (well, outside dining only for the next few months), and eventually being able to see my 80something parents whom I haven’t seen in person in 2 years.

And while I write all of this I am accutely aware of all of the suffering caused by Covid here in the US–the deaths I mourn every day, the injustice that is our healthcare system (I was uninsured for too many years for my comfort), the risks so many people have had to take to keep businesses open because their jobs could not be done remotely, the toll on healthcare workers, and so many other sorrows. I am really hoping these important issues will be addressed both right now and in future pandemic planning.

I close with a song that I like for its Sondheim-borrowing, from a show I absolutely loathed all the way through when I saw it live. Joy be with you all.

Son Of Jab Talking

America loves sequels. I usually don’t but I’ll make an exception this time. This is NOT an April Fool’s joke.

I received my second Pfizer jab this morning. I’d already gotten an apology from the local medical behemoth for the needless confusion caused by one of their minions. As expected, there was plenty of space at the Morial Convention Center. I arrived early and they took me immediately.

One of the volunteers was offering to take pictures. I handed her my phone then this happened:

I never post pictures of myself, but I wanted to mark the occasion. I hadn’t worn that jacket since Carnival 2020. How do I know that? There was a koozie caught during the King Arthur parade in one of the pockets. Note the Krewe du Vieux lapel pin. One could call it my Carnival coat.

I crammed a lot of stuff into the pockets and thought I’d lost my CDC vax card, but it landed on the floor of my study. Is that a so it goes or oh well, what the hell moment? Beats the hell outta me.

I’m hoping that I won’t be Mr. Side Effects this time around. I’m glad that I got jabbed earlier than planned so I can be resurrected on Sunday. It’s just a joke. I’m a heathen but if I were a believer I suppose I’d be Greek Orthodox. And their Easter is late this year: May 2, 2021.

I always think of my favorite cousin at this time of year. She was simultaneously devout and irreverent, which is an unusual combination, but it explains why the favorite cousin thing was mutual. I miss getting a call from her every holiday. FYI, she loved Oscar the cat as much as our readers did.

My childhood memories of Easter Sunday center around food, not church. There was usually roast lamb and other Hellenic delicacies cooked by my blue-eyed Norwegian mother.

I recall decorating hard boiled eggs followed by an egg battle of sorts. I don’t know what else to call it, but it involved bashing your egg into someone else’s egg while saying, “Christos annesti.”

That’s Greek for Christ has risen; even as a kid I thought that was a fairy tale. It’s why it’s called faith.

Back to the original purpose, such as it is, of this post. I intend to keep my guard up until we reach herd immunity. I’m uncertain if that will happen in Louisiana because of all the Trumpers in other parts of the Gret Stet. Plus, we’re surrounded by the stupid sammich I wrote about last month:

Governors Hey Abbott, Edwards, and Tater Tot.

Freedom, man.

Another reason to keep one’s guard up is the latest update from Pfizer. Their vaccine is 91% effective for six months against COVID-19 and some of the other variants. If we don’t reach herd immunity by then, a booster shot might be in order.

A reminder that everyone should get jabbed when their turn comes.

Never underestimate the power of the Gibb:

Your American Healthcare System At Work

As a rule, I never use this forum to complain about something that happened to me in real life. Since it’s vaccination day here at First Draft, I’m breaking that rule. As I like to say, there’s an exception to every rule.

I received my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at the Morial Convention Center on March 13. It’s where the local hospital chain LCMC has been vaccinating people. My first visit went well, and I suspect my second one will too. There was, however, some weirdness last night and this morning.

I’ve been patiently waiting for my second jab, which was originally scheduled for the afternoon of Saturday April 3. I missed a call from LCMC who left a voice mail informing me that my appointment had to be rescheduled.

No reason was given but I suspect it had something to do with Easter weekend. New Orleans is a very Catholic town, and they might have had a problem with volunteers or something. I don’t know since communication is not the medical behemoth’s strong suit.

I returned the call in a matter of minutes last night only to learn that they were closed. Fair enough: it was after 6:30 PM.

The message gave me two options: April 1 and April 6. I prefer the former. I’m tired of waiting for my second jab. I want to get this over with.

I called early this morning and was informed that April 1 was unavailable. I asked why and was told “I only make the appointments.”

I pointed out that LCMC was accepting walk-ins at the Convention Center and that some vaccine had been wasted. Again, I was told “I only make the appointments.”

She might as well have said, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

I reluctantly accepted the later appointment, but I was fuming. I hate things that make no sense, and this was as arbitrary as it gets. I arrived 20 minutes early for my first jab and was taken immediately because they had the space.

Instead of getting mad, I decided to get even by calling back. I got a different operator who actually listened. It turned out that there *were* appointments on April 1, so I rescheduled after giving the second operator a piece of my mind. I did so without raising my voice.

The operators both sounded local so the first one should have gotten it. LCMC insisted that I move my appointment. All I wanted was some flexibility. I understood that it would have to be a specific date because I need a second dose of Pfizer, but they needed to work with me.

Operator #1 acted as if I was trying to reschedule a normal doctor’s appointment. The Convention Center is serving as a mass vaccination site: there’s built-in flexibility. I understand hating one’s job but taking it out on someone who just wants to be vaccinated during the pandemic is ridiculous. Oy, just oy.

There are two lessons to be learned from this incident:

  • The squeaky wheel gets oiled.
  • Our healthcare system needs change.

I know my experience with disembodied voices at the end of a telephone line is not unusual. To be told that I had to delay my second jab was too much. I’m glad I’m fought back but I shouldn’t have had to. Oh well, what the hell.

Let’s close on a lighter note and give the last word to ELO:

A Postcard From The Vaccination Line

Vaccination Card

Gives new meaning to “Don’t Leave Home Without It”

Like El Grand Heffe of First-Draft himself, I find myself in the netherworld of having had one, but not both, jabs of the COVID vaccine. My next jab comes in mid April, three weeks after my first cause that’s how Kaiser Permanente, my HMO, rolls.

Speaking of rolling, my jab, from entering the building to exiting, took a total of 30 minutes. 20 of them were spent sitting waiting to see if after the jab I went into anaphylactic shock. Surrounding me and my fellow jabbonees were a phalanx of nurses, nurse practitioners, and even a guy with an degree from an accredited medical school. They stood ready, just in case, all armed with recently price increased EpiPens (thanks Heather Bresch daughter of WV Senator Joe Manchin).

For all of you worried about pain related to the jab all I can say is GROW UP YOU F**KING CHILDREN. Excuse me that was my inner voice. What I meant to say is that the nurse who injected me was putting on the Band-Aid before I even realized I had been inoculated.  Twenty minutes of staring at my phone later I was back in the warm sunshine.

Would that it were like that for everybody.

My wife (Cruella) for instance had a far less pleasant experience. She has a PPO or as I like to say, the healthcare hard way. When informed by her insurance plan that she was eligible to get the vaccine she went on line to see where they suggested she go for the quickest jab. Yuba City was the closest location nominated. Yuba City is 102 miles and two hours of driving away from our home. The actual closest medical office to us would have required a one month wait.

Never one to accept the ineptitude of the medical establishment and unwilling to trust a proper injection from the trained-this-morning teenager at the local outlet of the chain pharmacy, she opted to attempt a stratagem endorsed by some of our neighbors.

She bypassed her medical insurance gatekeeper, went online, and made an appointment at one of the local vaccine sites.

Ultimately it worked. Not as smoothly as I experienced, but it did work. Told to be there at 4:20pm and upon arriving hearing they were running “about 20 minutes behind” her actual wait in line was an hour and a half. Unfortunately she was standing behind a 19 year old who was working herself into a tizzy over how much it was going to hurt. Her tizzy process was the entire ninety minutes in line. If there is a hell this was surely the coming attraction for it.

At least we’re not in Georgia so they were kind enough to offer water to those in line.

Once at the registration table a quick glance at her driver’s license was all that was necessary for confirmation of her eligibility and she was on to the visiting nurse who jabbed, Band-Aided, and told her where to sit. On her way out she made a point to thank any health care worker she saw for their patience and care.

They were all floored at her kind words. No one else had thought to thank them before.

Really people, what would your mothers think?

I must point out at this moment that the morning after her injection my wife woke up with a tingling rash. When it did not go away she went to the doctor who diagnosed it as vaccine induced shingles. Medications have been prescribed and she will be fine. If you have a reaction to the vaccine please make sure to report it to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. She is the 121st person to report shingles from the Pfizer vaccine.

Why two such varying experiences when everyone in the country is being asked to get this vaccine? This hodge-podge of rules and eligibilities from not just one state to another but from one county to another and in some cases one city to another is a part of the reason people have their doubts about the efficacy and safety of the vaccine.

Sometimes you just have to admit there is a problem too huge for individual states to handle on their own. States don’t declare war, the federal government does because war is too big a problem for one state to handle on it’s own. This is a war against a disease that recognizes no human constructed borders or boundaries. It was the federal government’s job to wage this war. Like a war they should have come up with a strategy of fighting, from initial steps citizens could take on their own to juicing the pharma companies to produce a vaccine to having a plan in place and ready to distribute the vaccine and inject it into our citizens.

Ah but there’s the rub. Until a few weeks ago, the federal government was under the control of the Republicans, who believe in doing the least work possible.  So in typical Republican fashion they denied there was a war, then made noise about an Operation Warp Speed well after the pharma companies had begun research,  and then half assed a distribution plan which, surprise, turned out to be a wretched wreck from day one. Then because of the Big Lie they prevented the incoming Biden administration access to that plan during the transition, forcing the Democrats into having to work with a too far into the process half assed plan when they did take power.

It’s almost as if Republicans were trying to get even with the American people for voting them out because we want competence and trust in the federal government.

For almost 90 years now, ever since the New Deal, Republicans have told the original Big Lie that the government was your enemy, the great destroyer of freedom. Small “d” democratic government is not the enemy, it’s the greatest resource of freedom the world has ever known. Yes, it will happen from time to time that you will be inconvenienced by a decision of popularly elected officials but that inconvenience will be nothing compared to the hideous outcomes of dictatorial fiats or imperial disregard.

There should have been a federal mask mandate. There should have been a federal quarantine program. There should have been a definitive plan for the economy during the quarantine as well as another plan for after. And there should have been a federal plan for distribution and injection of the eventual vaccine.

The Trump administration did none of those things. Now we find out had they done them 400,000 of the over 540,000 American dead could have been saved.

At the very least they could have presented an orderly, fair, and competent vaccine distribution and delivery system. I don’t care what the criteria for getting the jab would have been, by birth date, by social security number, by original hair color, just something that EVERYONE was subject to. Of course that would have meant someone taking charge and making decisions or in other words, doing the work. Instead a large portion of the American populace is now inconvenienced, scared, and running to wherever they can in order to get vaccinated.

So go online, get in line, do what is necessary to stop this disease. COVID I mean. But if you want to think of the disease as Republicans….

 

I deny any resemblance to the above video.

Shapiro Out

Cuomo Family Values

The Linus of Empire State politics has done it again. Yeah, I know, Linus is sweet, and Andrew Cuomo is an asshole but he’s a blanket toting blankety blank like the Peanuts character. Now that I think of it, he’s more like Linus’ sister Lucy.

There’s even a dog in the cast of Cuomo Family Values: Captain who may be demoted to Private if his human is forced into the public sector. Sorry, Captain.

Let’s extend the Peanuts analogy. I knew Snoopy. Snoopy was a friend of mine. Captain, you’re no Snoopy.

Nepotism and cronyism have long characterized Andrew Cuomo’s political career. They’re back with a vengeance:

The administration of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) arranged privileged access to state-administered coronavirus testing for members of his family and other influential people last year even as a majority of New Yorkers struggled to access scarce testing, according to multiple reports.

Three people with direct knowledge of the effort told the Washington Post that the Cuomo administration sent a top state doctor and other state health officials to the homes of those who had access to the special treatment. The Times Union of Albany first reported the prioritization effort of Cuomo’s relatives.

Among those known to have benefited from the special treatment are CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, the governor’s brother who tested positive for coronavirus in March. The CNN anchor was swabbed by a top New York Department of Health doctor, Eleanor Adams who reportedly visited his Hamptons home to collect samples from him and his family, people with knowledge of the matter told the Post.

Not only did they get special treatment, they also got house calls, which doctors stopped doing years ago. Has anyone out there ever had a house call unless you have a doctor in the family?

I was something of a mama’s boy, so I don’t begrudge special treatment for the Governor’s elderly mother, Matilda, but his idiot CNN anchorman kid brother? Really, Governor?

That bit of shameless nepotism gives me an excuse to repost this image from a 2019 post:

This latest controversy will not lead to Governor Cuomo’s resignation, but it’s a big problem given how desperate people were in the early stages of the pandemic. There was a collective freak out over the lack of testing and Cuomo was giving special treatment to a select few. Not, cool, Governor, not cool.

I didn’t mean to mock Captain the dog. I’m sure he’s a good boy. I’d like to apologize for channeling Lloyd Bentsen at his expense by giving Blues Image the last word:

 

 

Ryne Hancock: Hope Is A Winding Road, But It Comes Eventually

My friend Ryne had a bad year even by 2020 standards. He’s feeling and doing much better now as you can tell from his latest post.

Hope Is A Winding Road, But It Comes Eventually by Ryne Hancock

Apart from my biking to deliver food, last spring wasn’t filled with festivals and social bike rides.

It didn’t include trivia nights at Tracey’s, open mics around the city, late nights at Igor’s, or being behind a mic at a radio station.

My socialization last spring was limited to the customers I had with my day job as well as the dumbass neighbors I had in my complex. The more time went on and the amount of tragedy piled up on my plate, the less hopeful I felt about the remainder of the year.

In a four-week span, from the time New Orleans went on lockdown to mid-April, I lost five relatives, all to this dreaded disease, including one of my favorite uncles, who had an encyclopedic knowledge of baseball.

“He just went in the hospital and didn’t come out,” my aunt told me on the phone.

To make matters worse, instead of being able to fully communicate how I felt with my friends or find refuge in being at the WTUL studios, I had to deal with the people in my complex. The day my uncle was buried, I went off on one of my neighbors when we discussed the former occupant of the White House’s handling of the pandemic.

“What do you want him to do?” my neighbor asked me.

“Give a damn,” I replied.

“But we’re getting stimulus checks,” my neighbor retorted.

“I don’t want to hear any more about that. I’ve lost five relatives in a month’s time and the last thing I want to hear is something about a damn stimulus check.”

Safe to say I didn’t interact much afterwards with my neighbors. There was the occasional dart game here and there, but whatever joy I wanted to find in those games got snuffed away because people either got too rowdy or someone had a fight, which in turn made me feel even more isolated from my neighbors as the year progressed.

To make matters worse, one of my neighbors assumed that I was on meds for whatever reason, which made me retreat even more. A lot of times when I would return home from work, I’d just go inside and fall asleep, something that I would do when I lived in Memphis.

That was my life mostly for almost a year.

The day before Biden got inaugurated, some leftist dude said that nothing was going to change with him in office.

“Have you not seen the last four years?” I asked him.

For the first time in a year there’s actual hope. Instead of doom and gloom posts, you’re seeing people talk about plans for their summer and vaccine selfies.

You know, hopeful things.

Think about what would have happened if that orange dolt were still in office.

I guarantee you we wouldn’t be discussing hopeful things.

 

 

A Postcard From Sacramento

Sacramento Postcard

Welcome to Sacramento, state capitol of California. It’s got a bunch of really neat government buildings, a nice river, and um…let me see.. I think there’s a basketball team but that’s really more a rumor than a verified fact.

It’s a town better known for who has left it (Greta Gerwig, Brie Larson, Raymond Carver, LaVar Burton) than who actually lives here. If you live here it’s a 90% chance you work for the state government or for a company that depends on the patronage of those who work for the state government.

Even elected officials of the state don’t stick around unless they have to. Unlike the other large cities of the state there are no jokes about Sacramento traffic or the high cost of living here because traffic isn’t bad and it costs less to live here than any other major city in California. Yet any day they don’t have to be there most state officials skedaddle back to their home districts.

It’s a nice place to do business, but you wouldn’t want to live here.

And the business this past week was a legal insurrection against the duly elected governor of the state.

Governor Gavin Newsom will face a recall election despite the fact that he is currently polling at 52% approval, has the state’s vaccination program up and humming, and has begun to get the state opened up after the COVID blitzkrieg.

Apparently that’s not good enough for the people who are upset that he made them wear a mask in public and slowly, patiently, safely was reopening the state. Oh and back in November he went to dinner at a fancy restaurant and didn’t wear a mask.

So they have once again opted to go all in on a political coup to unseat a governor. Hey it worked in 2003, maybe it’ll work again.

Never mind that it didn’t work the eight other times it was tried. Yes, this will be the tenth recall election Californians have been forced to deal with. Why? Because it’s stupidly easy to get a recall election called.

To qualify a recall measure for the ballot only requires a petition to be submitted containing the signatures of registered voters that equal 12% of the total number of ballots cast in the last election for the position being recalled. 12.5 million votes were cast in 2018 for governor which means, hold on a sec I gotta get the calculator out, you only need 1.5 million signatures.

I could stand outside a Safeway Market in LA or San Diego and get 1.5 million signatures on a petition to bring back MANIMAL.

The point is in a state where the 2018 election was low in turnout, where 17.5 million people voted for president in 2020, where there are 21 million registered voters, allowing just 7% of registered voters to push through a time consuming, expensive, and unnecessary recall election is absurd.

So who’s behind this recall you ask. Well kids, we’re a state that encompasses many diverse communities and many cultures and…oh who the hell am I kidding you know who’s behind this, the Repugnican Party.

They can’t win elections the old fashioned way by appealing to the broadest number of voters thus getting the most votes. They don’t want to do the work to try and actually govern. So they flounder around, yelling and screaming that Demoncrats are stealing elections and forcing people to not die from a horrible contagious disease because you know FREEDOM!

Instead, pretty much since lockdowns began, they send the QAnon Qwazies to sit at folding tables in shopping centers and have them yell at people to sign their petition to recall the governor because they don’t like the way he’s handling the pandemic and ya know, stuff. If you ask how they would have handled the pandemic they yell about how COVID is no worse than the flu, masks don’t work, that this is just a conspiracy to steal people’s livelihoods, yada yada yada.

To be fair, they actually got a little over 2 million signatures on their petition which would be a good number in just about any other state, but here it’s not even HALF of the number of votes the LOSER of the 2018 election got.  Newsom got almost 8 million.

I know Repugnicans don’t believe in math (hence their love for the Electoral College) but I think 8 million is, hold on let me get the calculator out again, FOUR TIMES more than 2 million.

At a time when politicians should be working to help mitigate the damage from a virus which has killed 50,000 people in California, Repubnigans have chosen instead to try a backdoor, immoral way to undo a fairly won election. No need to storm the capitol, no need to incite violence, tell the QShaman to stay in jail, we’re gonna try this with millions spent on deceptive TV ads and playing to the COVID weariness of the voters.

In other words they are going to do what they do best, ignore the real problem and focus on a fictional one.

Recalls were put into the state constitution as a mechanism to oust corrupt politicians from office. That is the only reason they should happen. I’ve kidded around about the rationale for the recall, but of all the charges laid at Newsom’s feet, none of them involve corruption. They all involve dissatisfaction with his policies or his politics.

The mechanism for recall should be available, but the threshold for getting a recall election is ludicrously low. At least make it equal to the number of votes cast for the other candidates in the prior election. That would have meant the recall backers would have had to collect, hold on one more time for the calculator, three times as many signatures.

Recall is like impeachment. It should be used sparingly and only because serious CRIMES have been committed, you know like inciting a mob to attack the Capitol.  You don’t recall a state official because you don’t like his policies. You wait till the next election, try to convince a majority of voters that yours is the correct position, and vote him out. That’s the way democracy works.

The next gubernatorial election by the way would be exactly one year after this recall election.

Can you say pointless?

 

This is the Scottish supergroup Middle of the Road. They were ABBA before ABBA was ABBA. Why is a Scottish group singing about a California city while cruising down a canal in Amsterdam? It was 1971, that’s all I need to say.

Shapiro Out

Sitting In Half Vaccinated Limbo

In spite of the side effects, getting the first jab was exciting but my guard remains up. A friend let his down last month and spent 20 days in the COVID ward. Fortunately, he’s slowly but surely recovering but has some lingering brain fog. I regard him as a reverse role model as I feel impatient after a year in exile. Get well soon, mon frere.

Sitting in half vaccinated limbo isn’t easy but it beats the hell out of the alternative. Let’s cue our first musical interlude:

We did something social last weekend. It was outdoors on Bayou St. John with some close friends. I’ve posted about Half Pagan before, it was their vernal equinox show. I called it Half Vaccinated meets Half Pagan.

I heckled them at points and even sang high harmonies from the semi-comfort of a camp chair. The chair was appropriate because these are folks we see a lot of during Carnival. We hadn’t seen any of them since Thoth Sunday in 2020.

I’m a bit impatient for my second jab but for maximum efficacy the Pfizer vaccine requires a 3-week interval. I’m down with that. I want the damn thing to work, after all. I’ve got April 4th circled on every calendar as the day of my release from absolute exile, but my guard remains up.

Our second musical interlude is another Tormato tune:

This is advertised as a potpourri post, so I need some categories. I don’t want to dishonor the memory of the late, great Alex Trebek.

Headline Of The Week: It comes from Talking Points Memo:

Trump Wax Statue Put In Museum Storage After It Kept Getting Punched.

It took place at Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in San Antonio thereby proving that there are many fine people in Texas. That reminds me of another song that could be described as a waxing earworm:

That concludes the Punch & Trumpy segment of this post.

The Curious Case of the Biden Republicans: Pollster Stan Greenburg is the guy who coined the term Reagan Democrats. He sees the same thing happening in reverse. He recently sat for an extended interview with Politico Magazine’s Zack Stanton.

Check it out. It improved my mood. It could have the same effect on you too.

Border Blues: The MSM is in search of a new crisis. One would think they’d be satiated by the Trump years but they’re back to playing gotcha with the current administration.

Border issues between the United States and Mexico have been going on since the 1830’s. They were exacerbated by the Trump regime and continue as the Team Biden tries to clean up that mess. It’s what happens when a poor country and a rich one share a long border. There will always be border issues.

Perhaps we should look for a new scapegoat: how about this guy?

Asian Spring: Showtime Circus performer Alex Wagner has written a fine piece for the Atlantic about the current wave of anti-Asian bigotry as seen the through the eyes of her own family’s experiences. I love it when writers weave together the personal and political. It’s the goal of much of what we do here at First Draft.

Finally, keep your guard up. We all have COVID fatigue, but the virus does not care. Florida appears ripe for another spike as Spring Breakers hit the beaches. College kids think that they’re invulnerable but they’re not. There are some on Bourbon Street as well. That’s why I’m sitting here in half vaccinated limbo.

The last word goes to the Neville Brothers and Bryan Ferry:

 

Thank You For Your Stimulating Gift

Joe Biden And The Checks

Joe Biden and The Checks sing their #1 hit “Pay Me My Money Down”

 

Thank you Mr. Biden for the gift of the stimulus checks we received recently. It was very kind of you and the Democrats in congress to think of us in this time of need for the entire country.

Just as my parents taught me to always write a thank you note, they also taught me never to speak ill of the dead so I’ll forgo saying anything about congressional Republicans.

The wife (Cruella) and I are in the fortunate position of having been able to weather, so far, the COVID storm financially solvent. We don’t need to use our $2800 to pay past due bills or rent or mortgage or put food on the table as I know many others must. On their behalf I thank you for that small lifeline as well as the extension of unemployment benefits and supplemental aid.

As for us we intend to use that money to do what it’s name implies, stimulate the economy.

Our local economy.

We could go out and buy something big and fancy. Frankly our refrigerator and dishwasher are both on the edge of extinction but they still work and should they stop working we have the space on our credit cards to go out and make an emergency purchase.

The idea of just going on a mad shopping spree and buying “stuff” isn’t very appealing. We have reached the age that makes us think before every purchase “will our kids have to get rid of that when we’re gone?” and in any case the reality is that COVID has made it more difficult to buy truly local. By that I mean just because you bought something at the local Target or Wal-Mart doesn’t mean you bought local. Shopping at the local outlet of those companies doesn’t keep them in business, it just adds to the pockets of the Walton or Dayton Families.

Don’t even get me started on Amazon.

With restaurants beginning to open back up for indoor dining the idea of eating out every night was bandied about, but we’re still a little leery about being in small enclosed spaces with people we don’t know. Besides we both like to cook. Going out to eat every night would be like cheating on our kitchen, a momentary pleasure offset by feelings of guilt every time we put pan to stove.

We’d love to use it to travel, but, well, you know.

Then we had the perfect solution sweep into our laps. A friend told us about a woman he knew who, having lost her job when one of the local wineries had to close their tasting room, had started her own housecleaning business.

  • We get a clean house, she gets the money.
  • We support a new local business, she gets the money.
  • We don’t add to a pile of “stuff” we don’t really need, she gets the money.
  • We stimulate the local economy, she gets to be stimulated.

That last one didn’t come out right but you get the idea.

$2800 will buy us a year’s worth of housecleaning, three hours once every two weeks. Our hiring her will potentially get our neighbors to hire her. They can tell their friends. Pretty soon she can build a business that will purchase supplies, hire others, pay taxes, help send her kids to college, you know, all those things that contribute to what we call the American Dream. That’s what I call stimulating the economy, exactly what your checks were intended to do.

I hope others who are in similar situations to ours will do the same.

If they chose to buy something, I hope they will try and buy it from a local company. Need a new refrigerator? Go to the local appliance store, not the local Best Buy. Want something new to hang on the wall? Support a local artist. Even if they do use the money simply for food, going to the local market will be a better use of the money then forking over to Costco or Wal-Mart. The reality is that local merchants and service providers can’t just issue more stock or take on a higher debt to survive this crisis, their debt is already up to their nostrils. They need butts walking through the door, ie,  the local community to survive.

My economics professor in college put it best. “Remember, when you buy from them, they can afford to buy from the guy across the street, who can then afford to buy from the guy across town, who then buys from your company and you get to keep your job”.

Besides, everybody ought to have a maid.

I was going to use the Nathan Lane Broadway version, but how could I resist Zero Mostel, Phil Silvers, and Jack Gilford. Bialystock, Bilko, and Cracker Jack. 

Shapiro Out

The House Vax Refuseniks

It’s time for some more jab jabber but you knew that already because of the featured image of Richard Widmark with a needle. A friend asked me if I’d consider using the poster for The Panic In Needle Park but since that flick is about junkies, I told him to stick it. I suspect he’ll continue needling me. If you dish it out, you gotta be able to take it.

I’ve felt like a compendium of vaccine side effects since we last did some jab talking. Nothing major: just a bit of wooziness, soreness, minor swelling, and ennui, which is a fancy way of saying that I’ve slept a lot. I’m following my late mother’s admonition to sleep when under the weather. She was a smart woman.

The mere fact that I’m having side effects means the vaccine is working. It beats the hell out of one of the leading side effects of the virus: DEATH.

The vax news out of Congress is vexing. According to a piece in Axios:

Uncertainty about why only 75% of the House is confirmed as vaccinated against the coronavirus is fueling a debate about when the chamber can return to its normal rules of operation.

Between the lines: The other 25% of members have either refused to get the vaccine, have not reported getting it at home or are avoiding it because of medical conditions. Until the Office of Attending Physician is clear about this, it can’t make recommendations “regarding the modification or relaxation of existing social distancing guidelines.”

  • Congress has its own supply of the coronavirus vaccine. While it’s not certain which party is most to blame for any vaccine hesitancy, the phenomenon is higher among white Republicans than any other demographic group, as Axios has reported.

  • “I won’t be taking it. The survival rate is too high for me to want it,” 25-year-old Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) told Axios in December.

I yield the floor to my colleague from Gotham City to fire a bullet at those bullet points:

Is there really any doubt about which party is to blame? The GOP is the party of Mask Warriors as well as Dipshit Insurrectionists. And side effects of Trumpism include stupidity, malakatude, and COVID denialism.

It’s all about freedom, man. House GOPers also object to security measures adopted since the Twelfth Night White Riot. They impinge on their freedom, man. I suspect they concur with this nonsense from the stupidest solon:

Even though those thousands of people that were marching to the Capitol were trying to pressure people like me to vote the way they wanted me to vote, I knew those were people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, and so I wasn’t concerned,” Johnson said in a Thursday interview with conservative radio host Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo.

“Now, had the tables been turned — Joe, this could get me in trouble — had the tables been turned, and President Trump won the election and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned,” he added.

The Boy Wonder is feeling feisty today:

Racism is one of the nastier side effects of white privilege. Ain’t nobody whiter than Ron Johnson.

Anyway, y’all get jabbed ASAP. If you’re still not eligible, sign up pronto. It’s important: side effects be damned.

The last word goes to Pat Benatar:

Jab Talking

I’m half-vaccinated. They were dispensing the two-dose Pfizer vaccine at the Morial Convention Center here in New Orleans. The P is silent in Pfizer but I insist on pronouncing it just to be annoying. Puh-fizer has a ring to it, doesn’t it?

I also insist on calling a shot a jab as they do in woody old England. Does that make me as annoying as Bertie Wooster? A question for the ages.

The needle was larger than the one wielded above by Richard Widmark in Panic In The Streets, but the woman who stuck me was skilled. It didn’t hurt. I’m glad it wasn’t another early Widmark character, Tommy Udo in Kiss Of Death or this might have happened:

Yeah, I know, there were no stairs involved. What’s a little artistic license among friends?

Trivia time: It was the same hall that the Antique Roadshow used when they were in town. That was when I learned that my vintage autographed Giants baseballs were stamped, not signed. I was mildly crushed since Carl Hubbell himself gave them to me. Oh well, what the hell.

My left arm is a bit sore post-jab. I’ve also had some mild side effects including lethargy and dizziness.

Speaking of dizzy, let’s move from film noir to bubblegum with this musical interlude:

I’m not sure that the world needed a 6:31 remix of Dizzy but who am I to argue with DJ Disco Cat and Bubblegum Purrfection. I am a cat person, after all.

I am, of course, making light of the vaccination process because I want everyone to relax and get jabbed as soon as possible. It’s what I do, making light, not jabbing.

I am, however, a bit nervous about the After Times and you may be too. That’s why I commend to your attention a WaPo piece by Dr. Lucy McBride: I’ve been yearning for an end to the pandemic. Now that it’s here, I’m a little afraid.

McBride captures the anxieties and apprehension many of us feel. I have them too I just hide them with a flurry of jokes and musical interludes.

Finally, I wrote this about my vaccination appointment in Saturday Odds & Sods:

I’m a bit nervous and uncertain as to which vaccine I’ll be getting. I’m fine with any of them. The one-shot J&J variant has considerable appeal because I hate needles. Here’s hoping I get jabbed by someone with a light touch. Just don’t give me a smiley faced Band-Aid. I hope that’s not too much to ask.

They did fine with the vaccine, the jabbing, and the Band-Aid, but they gave everyone smiley face masks. I hate anything with a smiley face. It’s off-brand. A friend of mine said that he tried wearing it upside down, but it fell off. Oh well, what the hell.

Anyway, y’all get jabbed ASAP. If you’re still not eligible, signup pronto. It’s important. Try watching some knockabout comedy before and after like I did. Did I just propose myself as a role model? A scary thought indeed.

The last word goes to the Bee Gees. Just substitute jab for jive and Bob’s your uncle:

Shouldn’t that be Barry, Robin, or Maurice is your uncle? And why do the Brits pronounce Maurice, Morris? Another question for the ages.

Today on Tommy T’s obsession with the Freeperati – Darwin or lose edition

This is going to be a short one this week, people. With the only Trump news being his showing up at a dog charity to announce that  he loves dogs (sorry) wants to siphon off the charity money for his daughter-in-law  (I guess they haven’t found out about THIS yet)  that his daughter-in-law is running for Senator in NC, they’ve just been moping about.

A rudderless ship.  A headless chicken.  It’s boring as hell.  So :

Nearly Half of Trump Supporters Won’t Take the CCP Virus Vaccine: NPR, PBS, Marist Poll
Epoch Times ^ | 03/12/2021 | Samuel Allegri

Posted on 3/12/2021, 7:35:04 PM by SeekAndFind

Almost half of former President Trump’s supporters don’t plan to take a CCP virus vaccine according to a poll by NPR, PBS, and Marist.

The poll indicates that 47 percent of people who identified themselves as Trump supporters would not want to be vaccinated when the doses became available to them.

Upon widening the demographics, the survey found that 41 percent of Republicans would not take the vaccine, compared to only 11 percent of Democrats saying they wouldn’t take it.

In total, about two-thirds of Americans polled said that they’ve already taken a vaccine or would take one when they can.

Thirty-eight percent of white evangelical Christians said that they would not take the vaccine. Thirty-seven percent of Latino Americans would refuse to take the shot, along with 28 percent of Caucasian Americans and 25 percent of black Americans.

Some data about lockdowns were also collected, showing that nearly three-quarters of Republicans think that the states should open up in order to restart the economy.

In contrast, 78 percent of the polled Democrats said that the lockdowns should be prioritized to contain the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.

A former advisor to Bill Clinton said the United States is becoming a “totalitarian state” due to COVID-19 lockdown orders.

Former Democratic adviser Naomi Wolf, who aided former President Clinton during his second reelection bid, told Fox News in February that the nation is “moving into a coup situation, a police state” as a result of lockdowns.

“The state has now crushed businesses, kept us from gathering in free assembly to worship as the First Amendment provides, is invading our bodies … which is a violation of the Fourth Amendment, restricting movement, fining us in New York state … the violations go on and on.”

1 posted on 3/12/2021, 7:35:04 PM by SeekAndFind
Well? Is it true?
To: SeekAndFind

This poll is a lie. The number of those of any political leaning who are willing to take the vaccine is MUCH lower than they want to admit.It’s not a coincidence that the propagandists at NPR, PBS, and Marist promote these fallacies.

4 posted on 3/12/2021, 7:37:28 PM by T.B. Yoits
So it’s NOT true?
To: SeekAndFind

I think I’ll wait awhile to see if any longer term side effects pop up.

7 posted on 3/12/2021, 7:39:40 PM by servantboy777

So it IS true?
To: SeekAndFind

Aside from a sore arm and Bill Gates knowing your every thought, there are no side effects.

10 posted on 3/12/2021, 7:43:42 PM by Meatspace

Heh.
To: SeekAndFind

If the left truly believes that the shot is the answer and without it you could die from covid (we all know many of the deaths were because of mismanagement like Cuomo’s stick um in a nursing home)…..then why is it the(sic) are not happy Trump supporters are not getting the shot ………they would love to be rid of us

11 posted on 3/12/2021, 7:43:49 PM by blueyon (`nt to be a nothing burger)

Not entirely accurate. I don’t mind if YOU die choking to death with fluid filled lungs.
It’s the innocent people around you (and the members of your immediate family who are non-political and regard you as a nutjob) that we’re concerned about.
You want to blow yourself up in your car? Knock yourself out. You want to blow yourself up in your car as you crash it into your house full of innocent people, House MD-style?  We’ve got a problem with that.
To: SeekAndFind

Count me as one who won’t be getting the vaccine shot!

I don’t trust them or their so-called medicine!

15 posted on 3/12/2021, 7:48:04 PM by SoConPubbie (Mitt and Obama: They’re the same poison, just a different potency)

You and your newfangled so-called “mede-cine” can go to the Devil! (p-tew!)
To: Ken H; All

LOL!

I’m fine with those that are ‘at risk’ getting the shot as long as it’s NOT mandated and they are doing it of their own Free Will. Their body, their choice and all that rot.

I don’t need one at my age, and I’ve NEVER had a flu shot of ANY kind in my entire life. I’m certainly NOT starting now!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I LOATHE Mother Government. I never DID trust her, and she’s certainly NOT gained ANY points with me in this past year, and especially NOT during President Trump’s first term, and his STOLEN second term.

You’re on my list, Beotch! 😉

29 posted on 3/12/2021, 8:22:39 PM by Diana in Wisconsin (I don’t have ‘Hobbies.’ I’m developing a robust post-Apocalyptic skill set. )

When you die, can I have your car?
Oh, and your “post-apocalyptic skill set” is gonna be kinda worthless, considering that you’ll die in agony.
.
Continue reading at the “continue reading”…

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Hope Is The Thing With Feathers

When I returned home earlier this week after my weekly super-exciting grocery trip (aka, what is missing from my order this week?) I was startled to hear a bird call I’d never heard before. This bird meant business with his ear-splitting song. I bustled inside singing the song over and over so I could immediately google possible suspects. I couldn’t find it and I have since forgotten it. But because he was so aggressively marking his territory with sound, I bet I’ll hear him again (and this time I’ll make sure I have my binoculars with me).

I got my first Covid vaccine shot yesterday, a year after the World Health Organization declared the Covid outbreak to be a pandemic. I freaked out a little the night before because I didn’t know how the vaccination site was structured, and I said so on social media. Reassurance was immediately forthcoming:  2 friends who had been vaccinated there reached out. One let me know that the site was very well-organized and efficient, and the other let me know it was staffed with people who understood we are all freaking out. (Well, she actually said, “The true welcoming, friendly, helpful, down home spirit of West Virginians really shines here,” but those are the same things, right?) And when I got there, I found I had worried for nothing as there were volunteers everywhere so you didn’t have to worry about where to go next.

There was a buzz in the building (grandly known as the town’s civic center, but just a gigantic metal building), and there was also something I haven’t see a lot of over the last year—a lot of smiling. Even the people like me, who are always anxious, were smiling. One of the volunteers was telling us she was now fully-vaccinated and that she just could not believe it yet.  She said she’d been living in so much fear and now she wasn’t. “We’re not just giving people vaccines here,” she said. “We’re also giving hope.”

Last night Joe Biden went on TV and once again delivered a pitch perfect address to the American people—to us. He reassured people that there would be enough vaccine, that there was a plan to make sure everyone who wanted a vaccine could have one in the tangible future, and told us that if we just held on a little longer, we could have our summer back with a real Independence Day (hey, I’m from New England—it’s not warm enough to swim in any natural body of water until then, so that’s when summer begins). He was giving hope, too.

I watched the address with my life-long Republican, anti-trump spouse. He had been on the Biden bandwagon from the very beginning (me? Warren all the way). And once again I had to say that even though Joe Biden wasn’t my first choice (or second, or third), he was the right person for the job.  Good job, America. Now let’s start planning that birthday party.

 

 

Finding Light In The Darkness

On the 50th day of his administration, President Biden delivered his first prime time speech and delivered on his promise to sign a COVID relief package into law. Anyone who knows anything about the legislative process, knows that this is a remarkable accomplishment. Complex bills such as this typically take much longer to reach the president’s desk. Kudos to Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer for making this possible.

The speech was a strong one. It was vintage Joe Biden complete with Truman-like plain speaking and soaring Humphrey-esque rhetoric. Unlike Biden, Hubert Humphrey’s timing was off, but he remains the American politician most like President Biden. That’s high praise indeed: HHH was the best president we never had. Joe Biden has a shot to be one of the best. As the man himself would say, “that’s not hyperbole.”

In addition to plugging his achievements, Biden displayed the sort of humility that his predecessor was incapable of. Joe Biden is all about we, former President* Pennywise is all about me.

The President warned us that beating the pandemic won’t be easy but that if we stick together, life will return to something approaching normality by Independence Day. Given the amount of vaccine in the pipeline, I think he’s right.

It’s refreshing to see the return of the can-do attitude that reflects America at its best. Happy Warriors are back in style. Whiny Impeached Insult Comedians are out.

I took the post title from one of the soaring passages of Biden’s speech:

Finding light in the darkness is a very American thing to do. In fact, it may be the most American thing we do, and that’s what we’ve done. We’ve seen frontline and essential workers risking their lives, sometimes losing them, to save and help others. Researchers and scientists racing for a vaccine. And so many of you, as Hemingway wrote, being strong in all the broken places. I know it’s been hard. I truly know.

It’s been one year since an international pandemic was declared. It shouldn’t be odd to have a president who cares if we live or die: Donald Trump did not, Joe Biden does. As the man himself would say, “that’s a big fucking deal.”

Americans are a restless, impatient people. We’ve seen that time and time again in the last year. Patience is called for as we round the homestretch and head towards the finish line. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, let’s not blow it America.

Finally, I’m tired of people damning Joe Biden with faint praise. As I said on inauguration day, this is his time. Who cares if he wasn’t your first choice in 2020? Politics is about helping people, not pleasing the cool kids of the Twitter left. Joe Biden has moved left with his party. Hopefully, we can nudge the nation in the same direction. We’re off to a helluva good start.

The last word goes to George Harrison and Leon Russell with Beware of Darkness:

 

Things Are Looking Up

I made a Magritte joke this morning in my album cover art post. This time it’s a sight gag: the featured image is a Magritte painting called The Therapist, which is, in turn, a joke on the surrealist movement’s passion for psychologically provocative images. And some think Francophones have no sense of humor.

The lockdown phase of the pandemic began a year ago. It’s been tough. We’ve all despaired and been distressed. Things began to improve with the presidential election. There was a major setback with the Dipshit Insurrection, but things got better after the inauguration.

In my last 13th Ward Rambler column for the Bayou Brief I declared February to be the 14th Month Of 2020. That’s NOT how I feel about March 2021. It feels like a new era has begun. In the immortal words of the Brothers Gershwin, Things Are Looking Up.

The first verse of that song says it all:

If I should suddenly start to sing
Or stand on my head or do anything
Don’t think that I’ve lost my senses
It’s just that my happiness finally commences
The long long years of dull despair
Are vanishing into thin air
And it suddenly seems that I’ve
Become the luckiest man alive

Congress is on the verge of passing the most important piece of progressive legislation since the ACA in 2010. I would argue that it’s even more important because it was done without giving an inch to Republican “moderates” who sought to water it down. The MSM is obsessed with that point but they’re wrong. History will see that as a footnote and a minor one indeed. In the immortal words of Joey B. Shark, “This is a big fucking deal.”

I’m hoping that the COVID relief bill is a sign that Democrats have got their mojo back. The dual Reagan landslides in 1980 and 1984 were traumatic. They were really based on Reagan’s persona and extraordinary communication skills, but Democrats care about policy, so they convinced themselves it was about the prose of governing, not the poetry of campaigning. Are we still allowed to quote Mario Cuomo despite his jerk son’s malakatude?

Ronald Reagan was fundamentally a salesman. He gave his party the gift of messaging; something they still excel at, which can’t always be said for Democrats. Our mojo may be back, but our branding remains shaky. Repeat after me: The label on the package is just as important as the contents.

And now for a brief musical interlude:

In other optimistic news, things are looking up on the COVID front. It helps to have an administration that believes in government.  Team Trump dropped the ball on handling the pandemic, but Team Biden has recovered the fumble and done a helluva job at getting the vaccines out there.

The several states are ramping up their vaccination efforts thanks to the administration’s hard work on distributing the vaccine and ensuring adequate supplies. The Merck-Johnson & Johnson agreement is another big fucking deal. It shouldn’t be smercked at…

On the personal front, I got my first haircut in a year last weekend. Not much grows on top but the back gets bushy and curly. Who the hell wants this guy on the back of their head:

I don’t have that shocking contraption on my head. It was the weirdest GIF I could find so I went there. Poor Curly. I bet it was Moe’s fault.

Back to the real world. I’m getting vaccinated at the Morial Convention Center on Saturday. I qualified under the Gret Stet’s phase-2 guidelines since I’m old and overweight. Not long after I made my appointment, the governor loosened the requirements since the vaccine is flowing like wine. I’m not sure what that means, but it’s better than spilling it:

Now that there’s adequate supply, the several states should jab anything that moves. It should be like Word War II era draft boards who inducted anyone that could stand up even if Mr. Potter rejected Slacker George Bailey.

We need to vaccinate 75% of the population before things can get back to Gamalian normalcy. We’re finally on our way but there will likely be speed bumps ahead. Shorter Adrastos: DON’T SPIKE THE BALL.

One more quote from Ira Gershwin:

Bitter was my cup
But no more shall I be the mourner
For I’ve certainly turned the corner
Oh, things are looking up

The last word goes to dueling divas: Billie was a bit subdued whereas Ella was exuberant. I’m somewhere in between.

Impossible Things Are Happening Every Day

(That’s our cat Rey. She has just–and finally–figured out how to get into the empty bookcase space her (bigger and stronger) brother Finn has been obsessed with getting into for months.)

I had planned to write about the filibuster, but I had a rough couple of days. Nothing bad actually happened; I just had the Covid blues. I would say that I don’t have any right to have the Covid blues since our disruption has been minimal—I had already mostly been using my preferred grocery store’s pickup option for several months prior to Covid’s arrival, my husband transitioned after a week in the office at his new job to a 100% virtual setting where he was able to work seamlessly with his European counterparts despite never have being onsite (so there is one Covid casualty in our family:  the trip to France to visit that facility will never happen as it’s not needed now), and I was able to complete a big project despite social distancing. But the reality is that Covid disruptions are about a lot more than your bank account and how you get the goods and services you need. We’ve all been cut off from so many people we love. I haven’t seen my parents since May 2019. I miss them. I miss a lot of people and I really miss singing in my choir, but it’s not being able to be with my parents that has been bringing me down. They’re both in their 80s, easily living on their own, and completely with it mentally. They’re fun and funny, and they’re precious to me. We all have people we miss. All of our hearts have holes in them and that affects how we see the things happening around us. So yeah, I had a few rough days.

But the thing is, as Dr. Ian Malcom said, “life, uh… finds a way.” Here in far eastern West Virginia, my daffodils have buds, and my summer daylilies have peeked up to remind me they’ll soon be on the job. I haven’t heard my beloved peepers yet, but I think I will this week. Our political life is showing those same signs of life. Late Friday night, after the poor clerks had finished reading the text of the Covid relief bill, Senate Democrats, taking advantage of the complete lack of Republicans in the chamber, reduced the debate on the bill from 20 hours to 3. Then on Saturday they took advantage of Joe Manchin’s need to explore all of his options once the Democrats offered an amendment that differed from what the moderates had worked out with President Biden. To be honest, this completely mystified me. Why did the Democrats offer a different amendment? Why did Manchin agree to support 2 competing bills? Why did it take 11 hours to resolve this? The answer only became clear later:  because Senate Democrats had made the Republicans hang around all day and then started the Vote-A-Rama late in the evening, the Republicans gave up earlier and left the chamber before the Senate had been adjourned. And Senate Democrats remained so Schumer had his 3/5ths majority vote to invoke cloture and move Merrick Garland’s nomination to be Attorney General to a vote this week.

Then, on Sunday morning, after making all the liberals angry the day before, Joe Manchin let it be known that while he wouldn’t get rid of the filibuster, he wasn’t opposed to making it painful for Senate Republicans to use it, tossing out the idea that the minority party would have to stay in the chamber the entire time they were filibustering. The same Senate Republicans, who got outplayed twice over the weekend because they didn’t have the simple discipline to sit in their seats, were blind-sided. And he did it on FOX News!  All of those Republican senators crowing about how Joe Manchin was a bad Democrat pushing his colleagues into disarray got to feast on the sight of Joe oh-so-casually noting that he wouldn’t mind if obstructing the majority required discipline and creativity. There is crucial legislation in the congressional pipeline; legislation that will be our best, and maybe only, chance to keep our democracy. Maybe fundamental rights and justice find a way, too. I’m feeling more hopeful today that our foes will be defeated by the boring combination of hard work and perseverance.

Oh and my husband and I just got word that we are going to be vaccinated this week. Impossible things are happening every day.

Day In, Day Out

Some days I want to make like Paul Douglas’ cop character in Panic In The Streets and shake some sense into people. In reality, I’m more like Richard Widmark’s doctor character, looking on before we nail Zero Mostel and Jack Palance in the last act of the movie. That only makes sense in the context of a post featuring random thoughts and ramblings. Some call it madness, I call it First Draft Potpourri.

I hate the culture wars. I’m sick of the right seizing on every momentary story, blowing it up, and giving it more significance than it deserves. This time, it’s the announcement by the Geisel estate that they’re pulling some of the Dr. Seuss books because of “hurtful stereotypes.” That’s not cancel culture, it’s keeping up with the times. Dr. Seuss would get it. He was a liberal, but he was a man of his time and place. Context is everything. For more on this inane dust-up, check out this interview with Dr. Seuss scholar Philip Nel at Slate.

Senate Republicans are getting dumber by the day. The dimmest bulb in the GOP caucus is Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson. He wants to delay the COVID relief bill by any means possible. He insisted that Senate clerks read the entire bill to slow things down. It took 10 hours and 44 minutes but it’s over.

Johnson is as dumb as Hey Abbott and Tater Tot. It’s scary that he beat Russ Feingold not once but twice. This was the biggest senatorial downgrade since J. Danforth Quayle beat Birch Bayh. Bayh was a distinguished senator and Quayle was the guy who couldn’t spell the plural of potato.

Speaking of potatoes, the right is trying to turn the Mr. Potato Head thing into a culture war issue. Really? Are they that intellectually bankrupt? That was a rhetorical question: the answer is a big YES.

I’m sorry that Don Rickles, who voiced Mr. Potato Head in the Toy Story movies, isn’t around to mock the whole mishigas. Oy just oy.

And now for a musical interlude from the Kinks:

“Boiled, French fried, any old way that you want to decide.” That Ray Davies knows from taters.

I commend your attention to an op-ed piece in the WaPo by the great Norm Ornstein who has forgotten more about Congress that most of us will ever know.  He has some productive thoughts about how to reform the filibuster in a way that will get the Man of La Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema’s votes.

The senior senator from Arizona is an odd case. She’s bisexual and used to be a leftist. She morphed into a Blue Dog Democrat in order to win elections in the land of Goldwater and McCain. I’d call her an opportunist, but we need her vote. Read Norm’s piece to learn how that may be possible. That’s Norm Ornstein, not this guy:

Finally, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is a charter member of the Freedom, Man club. In his case, it comes with a dose of corruption. He’s taking care of his donors by making sure that they get vaccinated earlier than the cheapskates who didn’t pony up. That’ll show them who’s boss. For more on this Florida Man moron, check out this piece at TPM by Matt Shuham.

The news cycle is relentless. I had hoped that it would ease up when the Kaiser of Chaos “retired” to Mar-a-Doorn, but it hasn’t. It reminds me of the opening lyrics to the Johnny Mercer song that gives this post its title:

Day in, day out
The same old hoodoo follows me about

The last word goes to the Chairman of the Board:

We’ll hear more from Sinatra and Mercer later today. Cheers.

Freedom, Man

Greg Abbott, John Bel Edwards, Tate Reeves.

The Party of Trump specializes in diversionary tactics. The Governors of Texas and Mississippi announced yesterday that their states are wide open for business. Not only that but all mask requirements have been lifted. Why? Freedom, man.

It’s not just freedom, man. Both states are still suffering mightily from winter freeze related issues. You’ve all heard about the mess that messed with Texas and its Governor Greg (Hey) Abbott. Wintry shit hit the fan in Mississippi as well. Parts of Jackson, MS have been without potable water for two weeks. Jackson is the state capitol where Governor Tater Tot plays at governing. Both Hey Abbott and Tater Tot needed to distract attention from their failures so why not declare victory over COVID? Freedom, man.

That makes the Gret Stet of Louisiana the meat in a stupid sandwich.  John Bel Edwards is the only Democratic governor in the Deep South and he too loosened some restrictions but we still gotta mask up.

Repeat after me:

It’s all so stupid and short-sighted. Now that we have a competent national administration, there’s good news on the COVID front. President Biden announced that there should be sufficient vaccines for the entire adult population by the end of May. We just have to hunker down and be patient.

I, for one, don’t confuse recklessness and impatience with freedom, man. The majority of us have made sacrifices to limit the spread of the virus. Selfish dipshits like Hey Abbott and Tater Tot are exasperating and irksome. Hey Abbott is also guilty of the Republican sin of hypocrisy: he’s been vaccinated. Freedom, man.

I’m trying out a new nickname for the dumbass Texas Governor. “Hey Abbott” was something that Lou Costello said to Bud Abbott in all their movies. It was often a sign that Costello was in trouble and needed help. Sounds like Texas in 2021. Freedom, man.

Here’s an image from one of Bud and Lou’s weirder movies, Abbott and Costello Go To Mars:

The rocket misfired and the boys landed in New Orleans during Carnival. By analogy, that’s why New Orleanians are so alarmed about Hey Abbott and Tater Tot’s actions. We’re concerned that unmasked morons from their states will visit and leave a new COVID spike in their wake. That’s a price of freedom, man that we’re unwilling to pay.

For the featured image, I memed a picture of the Governors of Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi with lyrics from the venerable song, Stuck In The Middle With You, which was revived by Quentin Tarantino for Reservoir Dogs. It sums up how I feel today: “Clowns to the left of me. Jokers to the right. Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.”

The last word goes to Stealers Wheel:

Freedom, man.