Monthly Archives: March 2020

From a Lone Perch Above the City

Two men serenade their San Salvario neighborhood of Turin, Italy, with a guitar and a flute on a balcony, on March 13, 2020. Photo by Nicolò Campo, LightRocket.

Some Italian citizens – as perhaps only Italians could – reacted to a recent COVID-19 quarantine with music and song.  Until March 26, Italy had experienced the most confirmed coronavirus cases outside of China.  Initially, Italian government shut down the northern half of the country – but eventually, the entire nation fell to lock-down commands.  Isolated in their homes, several talented individuals retrieved musical instruments and their voices to sing to the quiet air.  The results have been magical – and have been spreading faster than the virus.

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Retro Quote – Eleanor Roosevelt

“You have to accept whatever comes, and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

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Photo of the Week – March 27, 2020

Dr. Anthony Fauci, at a White House press briefing on March 22, reacts to the incorrigible Donald Trump.

“I’ve been telling the president things he doesn’t want to hear,” Fauci declared.  “I have publicly had to say something different with what he states,” explaining that he’s engaged in “risky business” but insisting that Trump is not and has not been “pissed off” at him to date.  “I don’t want to embarrass him,” Fauci added.

Thankfully, Fauci doesn’t have to worry about embarrassing Trump.  The President does a good job of that all by himself.

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Tweet of the Week – March 27, 2020

“How long is this social distancing supposed to last? My husband keeps trying to get into the house.”

Julie Banderas

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Worst Quote of the Week – March 27, 2020

“Am I crazy, or are they crazy? Could I be right, and Harvard and all these CDC guys be wrong? Yeah, because they’re all conventional. They don’t talk about how you can keep yourself from getting sick … Why don’t you just not get it [the coronavirus]? Why don’t you just stay healthy?”

Dr. Steve Hotze, a religious-right activist offering the view of a “medical professional who also has a Christian worldview” about how best to respond to the current COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

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Best Quote of the Week – March 27, 2020

“You’ve got to be realistic.  And you’ve got to understand that you don’t make the timeline, the virus makes the timeline.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, on CNN’s “Prime Time”, on suggestions by Donald Trump that businesses return to normal operations by Easter.

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Gang of Imbeciles

Woodall Rodgers Freeway, heading into downtown Dallas, sat nearly empty at 7:26 am on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 – the first morning after Dallas County’s “shelter in place”. This stretch of highway is normally packed with vehicles during morning rush hour. Photo by Lynda M. Gonzalez, Dallas Morning News).

“Greatness in the last analysis is largely bravery – courage in escaping from old ideas and old standards and respectable ways of doing things.”

James Robinson

Crises can make or break a leader.  The 1979-81 Iran Hostage fiasco decimated Jimmy Carter’s final year in office and assuredly caused him to lose his 1980 reelection bid.  The 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing helped secure Bill Clinton’s image as a stalwart president.  The Hurricane Katrina debacle, on the other hand, proved George W. Bush was incompetent and ineffective as Commander-in-Chief.

The current COVID-19 scourge is Donald Trump’s national crisis.  It could be the savior of his presidency; the one element that ensures his place in the pantheon of great world leaders.  Or it could be his death knell; the catastrophic event which will equate him with failure, except his most devoted followers.  As things appear now, it’s turning into the latter.

Yesterday, March 26, Trump signed a roughly USD 2.2 trillion stimulus package unanimously passed by the U.S. Congress.  Because the COVID-19 mess has created a new set of “social distancing” protocols aimed at subverting the virus’ spread, a large number of Americans have suddenly found themselves jobless.  Restaurants, nightclubs, gyms, and tattoo parlors have been forced to shut down.  History will determine if that achieved its intended goals.  But, as of March 26, the number of jobless claims set a record at 3.3 million.  Who would’ve thought an invisible microbe could wreak such havoc?

Amidst this cataclysm, our dear leader, Donald Trump, has openly considered easing restrictions to the practices of social distancing.  Earlier this week, he suggested the U.S. could return to normal by Easter.  “I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” he said.  That’s akin to the captain of the Titanic shouting, “Pool party!”

It’s almost painful to watch Trump and his band of clueless minions pretend this crisis will obey a presidential command.  Many conservatives tried to explain George W. Bush’s pathetic handling of the Hurricane Katrina fiasco by claiming his adversaries wanted him to stop the storm from terrorizing the Gulf Coast.  I heard a few actually say that aloud!  And I had the pleasure of telling them, ‘No.  The issue was RESPONDING to the hurricane!’  Bush and the Republican Party were quick to declare war on Iraq in 2003.  But, when a REAL threat emerges, they failed miserably.

If anything, the start of the AIDS epidemic in the U.S. some forty years ago proved how dangerous social conservatism can be to a health crisis.  Admittedly, thousands of people didn’t come down with HIV in a matter of days, as with the COVID-19 virus.  But the reality is that national policy should never be based on individual predilections or religious ideology.  Every time people make health-based decisions on their own personal religious beliefs, people die.  Every single time!

But the AIDS epidemic showed that a slow federal response to a health concern can be lethal.  I’m watching the COVID-19 pandemic unfold here in the U.S. in stark realism.  As of March 27, the U.S. has achieved the dubious distinction of the most number of COVID-19 cases in the world.  Meaning we’ve now surpassed China and Italy.  Trump always declared America is #1 – and what do you know?!  The old bastard has finally been proven right!

I really don’t want to see Donald Trump fail in this entire imbroglio.  It’s not good to wish your national leader stumble and falter as a national crisis of any kind grips the nation.  But, thus far, Trump has shown no real leadership, with the exception of the aforementioned stimulus package.

It doesn’t need to be this way for him – or for anyone.  This could be his golden moment to prove he’s an authentic leader, not the failed businessman / tax cheat others claim he really is.  Every country’s leader is forced to confront a national emergency of some kind or another.  It just comes with the territory.  The U.S. presidency, in this case, is not school a crossing guard-type of position.  It requires more fortitude and clarity than most jobs, when in fact, the presidency is not a standard job.  It’s more of a calling – kind of like human rights work, or teaching.

As I view it in this moment of national surrealism, Donald Trump is not listening to the tragic sounds of that call.

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