Statewide Stay at Home Order and Cheap Gas.

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Like many other states, my home state (North Carolina) just ordered a statewide Stay at Home mandate until April 29th.    I got temporarily laid off due to the coronavirus (I do not have it) more than a week ago, for two weeks.  Obviously now that’s extended.  I’m glad to be getting the stimulus check (though it should be for more and it should be recurrent, like Canada is doing) and I also applied for unemployment, but I’m having problems with their website and also don’t understand why they’re still requiring proof that I’m looking for work.  That’s just stupid under these circumstances, for obvious reasons.  My boss thinks so too, but she thinks they just haven’t updated their site, which could be the case.   I tried to call but it’s not possible to get a real live person to help you.  I almost pulled all my hair out yesterday in frustration.

I didn’t realize how much I appreciated my job until now.  Not only because of the income, which I need (unemployment pays HALF of what I earned and it’s not nearly enough), but also because I’m getting stir crazy laying around the house.   When I’m not busy, my brain starts turning on itself and I start ruminating and worrying about things I have no control over.   I start imagining all sorts of crazy things.  I’d like to spring clean the house, top to bottom, but even though I have the time, I’m simply not motivated, not yet anyway.   Maybe soon I will be.   The stink in the fridge is starting to get to me, so I’ll probably start with that (and get it out of the way first, since cleaning refrigerators is the grossest household task I can think of).

It was very warm today (actually hot) so I went out for a drive and just looked at the spring flowers and blooming trees.   But as of Monday, it will essentially be against the law to be out for any reason other than buying necessities.  But I’ll go nuts if I can’t take the car and just drive, at least.  How is driving around spreading a virus?    It’s not as if gas is expensive either.  It’s the cheapest I’ve seen it since 2003.  Just for fun, here’s a list of gas prices from 1978 to 2017.

Speaking of low gas prices, I took these photos this morning.

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The silence, lack of traffic, and lack of necessary provisions (like toilet paper and pet food) in the stores is very surreal and creepy.  I feel like this is what it must have been like to live in the Soviet Union.   It’s hard to get used to this new lifestyle, especially after Monday when staying at home becomes the law in my state (we already are on curfew).

It’s too easy (especially under this current administration) to weave conspiracy theories about the “real” reason all these lockdowns and mandatory quarantines are happening, but the fact is, we haven’t done enough.   Trump may want everyone to “go back to work,” but these restrictive measures are necessary to stop or slow down the spread of this dangerous disease.

Look at the bright side.  Has there ever been any other time when you can sleep late every day and sit around the house doing absolutely nothing and know that you’re helping to save lives?  You can enjoy being lazy without the guilt!  And if you’re an introvert to whom social distancing comes naturally, can you recall any other time when wanting to be alone was not only socially acceptable, but your civic duty?

 

How’s everyone holding up in this pandemic?

manwithcold

It’s scary what’s happening around the world with this Coronavirus pandemic.  It doesn’t seem that America is handling things well at all.  Not nearly enough tests are available, the entire pandemic response team no longer exists (thanks, Trump), many people can’t afford to get tested or treated, and of course there are the constant lies from our own government about COVID-19.  There’s also just a lot of misinformation being spread around, as there always is in a crisis like this, but that makes things even worse than they need to be. Misinformation ranges from nutty conspiracy theories all the way to “it’s not as big a deal as the media makes it sound.”  It certainly is a big deal, but we can’t believe everything we hear either.  It’s best to stick with trusted sources like the CDC or WHO for pertinent information about this pandemic.

I haven’t seen any toilet paper fights yet (except on video), but it is hard to find in the stores!  I should be okay though.  What is the deal with toilet paper anyway?  I hear bidet sales are up, and America may finally be catching onto an idea that is both more sanitary and better for the environment than toilet paper.   I’ve stocked up on a lot of rice, beans, spaghetti and peanut butter.  Not exactly exciting, but they are nutritious and will last a long time without taking up a lot of space.

I’m not under quarantine yet, but it’s likely my workplace will close soon too, as it’s “nonessential” work.   My son self quarantined:  he was here a couple of weeks ago, and on his last day felt a tickle in the back of his throat.  When at the airport, he coughed and they wouldn’t let him board the plane!   He was okay after that, and managed to get a flight the next day, but decided to quarantine himself after that for two weeks.   I’m trying not to worry about how I’m going to pay my bills should we go under lockdown or should my workplace close.

Like everyone else, I’m trying to practice social distancing (not too hard for an introvert like me!) and a lot of handwashing and using hand sanitizer.  I’m also attempting to avoid eating out, and learn to like cooking.

I wonder what’s going to happen.  The trajectory doesn’t look promising; there are no signs that it’s going to “flatten out” here in the USA.   I don’t want to speak of my fears of what could happen and put that out there.   I’m just taking things one day at a time, and trying to remain calm.   It’s incredible how we can be an advanced society one day, and revert back to Black Plague like conditions mere days later, scrounging for food and toilet paper.

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Coronavirus cases worldwide.  The US trajectory shows no signs of “flattening out.” 

I’m impressed with Italy, which has been very hard hit due to its elderly population and a lot of tourism (which has now stopped, of course).    People are dying so fast that families can’t even hold funerals for their loved ones.   And yet,  Italians still know how to find joy, even though the situation there must be terrifying.   I’m sure most of us have seen the video of people singing out their apartment windows in the midst of mandatory, nationwide lockdown.

I think when all this is over, we are going to learn some hard lessons and change the way we live.  We will relearn such old fashioned concepts as community and being good neighbors to each other.  We will learn to appreciate the simple things again.  Most important, we may come to value empathy, compassion, and service to others again, over the greed and selfishness we have come to lionize in recent decades, and with any luck, this will spill over to our government, if we don’t become a dictatorship first.

This Blows

This is so well stated.

Please leave comments on the original post.

claytoonz

cjones02062020

If there’s one point where you give up, it’s after you learn that no matter how much you fight, you’re going to lose. That’s the danger of this time.

The United States Senate is saying Trump is guilty. The House Managers proved their case. But none of it matters because they like Trump’s policies or the fact he gives them conservative judges. They’ve given us the same answer over the past three years as to why they accept his behavior, racism, sexism, stupidity, vile ugliness and failure as a decent human being.

If the Senate allows Trump to cheat in an election, does that mean we should just give up on there being a fair one in 2020? Are the results already in? Is the election just an empty practice like they are in autocratic states like Russia or the ones Saddam Hussein ran in Iraq?

The Senate has proven…

View original post 336 more words

My thoughts about Elijah Cummings’ emotional closing speech and the Cohen testimony.

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Credit: CNN.com

I stayed glued to my television during the Michael Cohen testimony today.   I honestly think that although Cohen made some bad choices and became the shady “fixer” for Trump (and ruined his own life in making the choices he did), he is essentially a good guy who was seduced by Trump’s fake glitter and false promises of wealth.

I believe Cohen redeemed himself today.  He showed deep remorse for his past actions and a sincere willingness to change, especially for the sake of his family, who he acknowledges have been hurt by his past actions.

The broken, sad faced Cohen having a chance at redemption and handling himself so well under the intense questioning (and sometimes bullying) he had to endure today was moving enough, but Chairman Elijah Cummings’ emotional closing speech made me lose it completely (Cohen was wiping away tears himself).

Watch and share this video (contained in the linked article).   This is destined to become a historic speech and today will prove to be a historic day.  Cummings’ powerful words give me hope that not just Cohen, but America too, can be redeemed and we can return to our former greatness.   (He’s wrong that there can be a “better Donald Trump” though — malignant narcissists like him can’t change).

https://thehill.com/homenews/house/431911-dem-chairman-closes-cohen-hearing-with-emotional-speech

My biggest takeaway from the midterm election.

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I’m condensing and editing this from a Twitter thread I wrote the day after the midterm elections.  

Now that the midterms are finally over (although they aren’t really:  there are still votes coming in in some places, and there may even be recounts in states like Florida and Georgia),  my biggest takeaway is this: we can never, ever take democracy for granted.  We can’t assume it’s a gift that once given, just stays.

Because that is not the way democracy works.   It must be constantly maintained, not by politicians, not by pundits on TV, not by activists.  It must be maintained by regular people like you and me.  Unfortunately, for many years, we took democracy for granted and thought we could stay uninvolved in politics and let others do the hard work.  But once a large percentage of the population ceases to care to the point that they don’t even vote,  democracy is in trouble.   The very term democracy indicates that its existence depends on The People.   It depends on us.

Republicans were able to seize so much power because we let them.  Although other factors played a part in Trump winning, in 2016, we didn’t turn out in sufficient numbers at the polls to overcome everything that was stacked against us.   But those things were never insurmountable.   There are just too many of us.   Yes, Hillary won the popular vote (and I’m one of those people who think the electoral college should be abolished), Russians may well have influenced the results, gerrymandering and voter suppression  in some states is out of control, etc.  But, in spite of all the obstacles the GOP tried to set against us, the results in 2016 were still close.   Had we all voted (and not voted for third party candidates like Jill Stein), Trump would have lost and instead of becoming POTUS, today he’d be just another washed up and forgotten reality TV star who once ran for president.

But he is president, and now that we are stuck with him (for now), we are all learning an extremely sobering lesson in just how fragile democracy is, and just how easily one despotic man with too much power can start to dismantle all our checks and balances, and destroy democracy itself.   Many Americans, including myself, used to think about Nazi Germany and wonder how it could have happened.    We are now seeing in real time how it happened:  specifically, how seemingly normal people could come to support a murderous fascist tyrant.

We woke up, perhaps at one minute before midnight, but still not too late to flip Congress back to Democratic rule, which will mean there will be some vital checks put back on this presidency.  As a result, Trump, though he will still rage and threaten and bully the free press, our institutions, and everyone he doesn’t like, won’t be able to push through his tyrannical and cruel policies the way he has been able to over the past two years.  We will be able to relax just a little.  But we can never again become complacent.

Were it not for the efforts of the Resistance, and even more importantly,  regular folks of all races, creeds, religions, income levels, and lifestyles, turning out in record numbers to vote (many voting for the first time because they realized democracy itself was on the line) and had this election drawn a tepid turnout like other recent elections, we would have lost the House.   Instead of feeling hopeful and relieved, we’d be staring down into a black abyss of unfettered tyranny right now.

Had we lost, we would now be freefalling into fascism and Trump would have unchecked power, free to do anything he wanted to do. We would have lost our democracy and would soon become a dictatorship.

Things are far from perfect. We still have a heavily Republican Senate and a Judiciary that is moving further to the right and will most likely continue to do so as long as Trump retains the presidency.  But the good news is, Trump can no longer just do anything he wants, and he can’t break the law, because the new Congress will hold him accountable if he does.  The Russia investigation will continue, and the new Congress will make sure Trump doesn’t get to run away from or obstruct justice, unlike our current GOP Congress, which enables his crimes and lack of ethics.  He can also be forced to show his tax returns.  So even though Republicans are still top heavy in the Trump White House, we are in much better shape than we were before the election. Trump can scream and toss insults and threatens all he wants, but at the end of the day, he simply  won’t be able to get much done.

A Democratic Congress can also start impeachment proceedings. Before last night, Democrats had no power to do anything. The only power we had was our vote. And we exercised it in record numbers. Had it not been for us using that hard won right, and sitting at home, democracy would have died.

We’re not out of the woods yet though.   This isn’t over.  We still have a lot more work left to to do. Trump has done incredible damage which may take generations to repair.  Republicans (which has become a fascist party since Trump) still have too much power. But we, the People, took back some of that power with our votes, and that is a good beginning.

I hope we all learned a lesson that democracy takes WORK.  We have the right to vote, and we need to use it — or possibly lose it!   Losing our right to vote can happen much more easily than you think.  There are people in high levels in government that would love nothing more than to take away our right to vote.   We can never assume others will do the work of democracy for us. The responsibility falls on us.  A government run by the People requires the input of the People.   There’s no way around it.   Voting in record numbers is essential.

If we continue to vote in the kinds of numbers we had on Election Night, we can eventually overturn this entire sorry regime  and finally have the kind of inclusive, compassionate, prosperous, caring, honest, and fair government WE, not the oligarchs and religious extremists, want: one that works for the People, not just the ultra rich and corporations.

If you voted, you should feel proud that you helped to save democracy. I think last night proved that no amount of voter suppression or GOP cheating is enough to overcome huge numbers of people voting.

We still have a long road ahead of us and a country to save.  Let’s get going!

Rest in peace, John McCain

ripjohnmccain

John McCain finally lost his battle with brain cancer and passed away today.

While I disagreed with much of John McCain’s platform,  I never doubted that he was a good and noble man with integrity, a dedicated American, a war hero, and a true patriot who deserved to be treated with respect and dignity by the party who went rogue and abandoned him and his legacy in favor of the corrupt politics of Trump.

RIP, John McCain.  You lived a life of service to us all.  Thank you.

Earth Day 2017 — March for Science

Today is almost a year since the first March for Science. Here’s an article from USA Today about this year’s March:
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2018/04/14/march-science-2018/517294002/

It doesn’t seem like a lot has changed in a year, as Trump and his minions continue to dismantle the EPA from within, destroy laws that protect us against pollution, push fossil fuels over sustainable clean energy, and double down on their climate change denial even as our polar ice caps melt and our weather becomes more extreme and dangerous.

I’m reblogging the post I wrote last year when I attended the March for Science in my city.

Lucky Otters Haven

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In these days of dangerous lies called alternative facts and facts touted by our leaders as fake news,  the celebration of Earth Day has never seemed more important.  All over the nation today, people in cities big and small gathered to defend science and scientific research.  Scientific knowledge and education is important to keep our water and air clean, our food healthy and safe, and keep our young people educated instead of indoctrinated in ignorance.

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The organizations that sponsored our event.

In one important sense, the Trump presidency is the best thing that could happen to our country, because it’s forcing people to wake up and finally take a stand for the things that really matter.   I doubt there would be this level of activity had Hillary won the election.   People would remain stuck in their apathy and cynicism.

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It’s encouraging that so many cities had such a big…

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March for Our Lives!

There is a new Moral Majority in America. And it isn’t white evangelicals, the NRA, or the supporters of Trump. It is the majority of the country who believe in integrity in government, compassion, the rule of law, and justice. They are raising their voices daily. Especially today. — Matthew Dowd

Millions of people gathering to peacefully march against gun violence in every city in the country, and across the globe.  The enthusiasm and passion of the kids leading the movement gives me hope that maybe America will be okay after all.

Listen to 11 year old Naomi Wadler.   Hear this young woman roar.   THIS is what democracy looks like.

Here is Emma Gonzalez’ powerful speech and 6 minute moment of silence.  If you aren’t moved by this, you don’t have a soul.

Watch out, GOP, you old dinosaur.   The new generation is going to change things, and they are NOT going to vote for you.

 

#044–Why don’t they call white male mass shooters “terrorists”?

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The Chatty Introvert

(Photo Credit: nbcnews.com)

I am so sick of this crap.

I’m sick of these killings.

I’m sick of these “woe is me” stories of a guy who can’t hack it and says “screw the world, I’m taking you all down with me.”

I’m tired of white men (NOT BOYS, DAMMIT!) who haven’t figured out that sitting on your ass and being a white male isn’t going to get you very far anymore, be it job related or dating related.

And I’m really sick of the media and government not calling it like it is. I’m tired of them not calling these white male shooters “terrorists.”

I think its a simple formula: if your object is to maim or kill complete strangers that mean nothing to you and have never personally wronged you, because of some supposed belief you hold (whether nurtured, cultural, religious, etc.) and you find a way to…

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The insanity of being a news junkie in the age of Trump.

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Every day when I wake up, I check the news headlines. Maybe it’s just hypervigilance and wanting to reassure myself that Trump hasn’t started nuclear war yet.   This presidency makes me feel like I’m back in an abusive relationship and as a result I feel on guard all the time.

But at the same time, there’s a certain thrill I get from reading stories that seem like they would have been headlines from The Onion just a year ago.   It’s not a good kind of thrill, but the kind of thrill you get from doing something you know might kill you but feeling compelled to try it anyway — like, oh, maybe sky diving or trying methamphetamine.    Only the sick thrill is always accompanied by that awful, sinking, helpless feeling you get when you realize you are totally fucked and there’s not a thing you can do about it.    Maybe it’s a familiar feeling to me and somehow comforting, but I know people who didn’t come from narcissistic families or abusive relationships and report they feel exactly the same way about this presidency and the endless stream of unthinkable news that it’s unleashed.

I want my news to be boring again.

On the plus side, more people than ever before are getting an education in basic civics (now that civility is a thing of the past) and how government works (now that it doesn’t).

I think we’re also learning to be more discerning about which news is fake and which is not.  Sometimes it’s hard to tell, especially when the president is waging war on truth.

If you can get angry and stay angry instead of allowing the news to make you depressed or emotionally numb, then there is  hope.    Every revolution in history began because a lot of people were mad as hell and weren’t gonna take it anymore.