Some Thoughts on the Election from Over There

I will offer more on this myself after I finish reading the entries from various writers. However, after reading the first by Annie Proulx and the next by Dave Eggers, I wanted to go ahead and post it so others could take a look for themselves. The Guardian offers a fresh view from the UK that I don’t get from the Times and the Post, my usual first stops in the morning.

I will get back to these essays later. In the meantime, enjoy them as YOU have the time.

Trump without Makeup

The president checked in this morning with this rambling message meant to put Americans at ease. He spent four minutes to say what he could easily have said in half a minute: that he feels pretty good, that he has benefitted from the miracle of modern medicine (didn’t he tell us there would be miracles?), that his spirits have been lifted by the well wishes he and Melania have received from, get this, people from both parties (a good example of bipartisanship, why doesn’t the democrat party try that?) etc. Then he said it all a few more times for emphasis. HE CAN’T DO ALL CAPS IN A VIDEO; PEOPLE TURN HIM OFF WHEN HE’S TOO LOUD. So he just meanders around and says it three or four more times.

At first I thought he looked terribly pale and my heart skipped – is my president’s life in danger? But as I recovered my composure, I slowly came to realize that he didn’t look ill; he looked humanly normal. I had become accustomed to an orange Commander-in-Chief. But today our Fifty Star General looked so natural. No makeup and no tie. I thought for a moment he was going to slip out of his coat into a soft blue cardigan and reach for a pair of Top-Siders and tell me that he’d love to be my neighbor.

But no. It’s my neighbor he wants to be the neighbor of. The one with the MAGA signs in his front yard. But he never said it. This was our tender moment of bipartisanship.

“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood … won’t you be my neighbor?” No, not you. That other guy over there. Next door – with the Trump-Pence sign.

So, in keeping with our tender national moment, allow me to offer thoughts and prayers to the president and his family. And also for all those maskless Republicans and other followers who gladly expose themselves to this life-threatening disease as an expression of their loyalty.

The president’s co-morbidities, such as age, weight and high cholesterol, have been widely reported. (There has been no mention of bone spurs but they apparently add no risk for sufferers of COVID-19.)

Less attention has been paid to the pre-morbidities and they, however, can be much more deadly. And they vastly enhance the virus’s transmissibility.

So, check yourself out for these dangerous conditions – pre-morbidities if you will – that can make you a victim and bring you down just as they have the president: 1. narcissism, 2. solipsism, 3. arrogance, 4. science illiteracy, 5. mammonism, and 6. (somewhat counterintuitively) germaphobia.

The latter is included as a pre-morbidity only because sufferers of the disorder tend to focus their entire disease prevention efforts on hand washing to the exclusion of other useful practices such as mask wearing.

So, before you go shopping or to a political rally (and now I borrow the style of a friend) put your mask on, dammit.

And of course, I would be remiss if I did not offer blessings to our president and his family. May they all recover and enjoy good health for many years to come. And may this experience encourage them to work on those pre-morbidities so that they may reduce their influence on their lives. And ours.

An Open Letter to Senator Cornyn

Lake Jackson, TX 77566

September 20, 2020

The Honorable John Cornyn, United States Senate

Dear Senator Cornyn:

I have written or called your office in the past, urging you first to support to removal of President Trump from office during his impeachment trial, and then to demand his resignation following his treatment of peaceful protestors in Washington, D.C.  Now, as a veteran, I take exception to having a commander in chief of the Armed Forces of the United States who constantly reminds us of how little he thinks of the men and women who commit their lives and blood to the preservation of our Constitution and democratic way of life.

Moreover, the president is corrupt. He shows no sign of caring about the rule of law, the freedoms of citizens, the circumstances of the people, or about our standing in the community of nations. He cares greatly, on the other hand, about the secrecy surrounding his finances and his once-desired project in Moscow. All his behavior since he came into office has been colored by his apparent wish to remain friendly with Vladimir Putin as a business partner and personal ally.

Now, with the death of Justice Ginsburg, the President has the opportunity to replace a tireless fighter for the oppressed and the weak with a defender of wealth, power, and plutocracy. As a United States senator, you should find a compelling interest, as I do, in assuring that voters are consulted before any presidential nominee is confirmed.

Fortunately, I recall that nearly the entire Republican caucus in the U. S. Senate is on record supporting the principle that presidents must not name new justices to the Supreme Court during an election year. Instead, the American people should first be given their chance to express themselves on the matter by voting in November. It surprises me that the Majority Leader has discovered exceptions to this principle. That the honorable senator and other members of his caucus will hold courageously to this principle of democracy, however, I do not doubt for a moment.

Thank you for serving the needs of Texas, and of the United States, by giving us all a chance to have our democratic voices heard in November, before proceeding in the new year to act on a new nomination to the Court.


Thomas H. Fowler

Another Mind-Boggling Day in the Trump Years and Day 177 in COVID19 Lockdown

Five days short of six months now in semi-isolation and I wake up to read that DJT thinks I’m a sucker and a loser for submitting myself to service in the US Army in 1968.

And the same day, my next door neighbor posts a Veterans for Trump sign in his yard.

This veteran, on the other hand, thinks Donald Trump owes it to us to resign. Tomorrow. Jump on his Trump Jet and fly to Moscow where he can build his hotel and casino. His friend Vladimir can offer him sanctuary where US prosecutors will not be able to reach him.

But he must always be nice to Vladimir. Vladimir plays hardball. No reality shows for Vladimir. With Vladimir there is just reality. And it can be frightening.

Twenty Weeks in Isolation; 144 Days, or, a Gross of Days. When Will the Rats Return and Liberate Us?

Call it isolation, quarantine, or lockdown. It all feels like a leash or a probation department ankle bracelet. We do this of our own choice, not by order of Dr. Fauci, George Soros, the Chinese embassy, County Judge Lina Hidalgo (wrong county but I would do anything she asked of me), or, heaven forbid, Gov. Greg Abbott.

The latter, Gov. Abbot, was a late comer to the mask mandating business. Per his order of a month ago, you are only required to mask if there are 20+ active cases in your county. Presumably if you had twenty positives living and three hundred formerly positive, now dead, your county would be exempt.

Hermiting (gerund form of the verb, to hermit) has allowed me to dig in and enjoy my inner obsessive compulsive drive. I do not consider it a disorder if I can channel it into healthy addictions.

I have directed my OCD into treadmilling since no one can walk outdoors in Lake Jackson’s heat and humidity in July and August. We regularly experience “feels like” temperatures of 110 F. plus in the daylight hours. Even in early evening when the sun is setting, it will often feel like over 95 degrees with the humidity over 60 per cent. But the treadmill lives inside in air conditioned space under a ceiling fan. I can walk as long as my bones will bear it.

So, I have made it my goal to abandon the sedentary life by walking a minimum of 7,000 steps a day. That is a modest amount of exercise but, done regularly, it keeps me from feeling like one of those vegetables left too long in the bottom drawer of the fridge. My goal, pushed along by my OCD, now has me up to 42 consecutive days. (I have permitted myself two “recovery days” that are included in the count. So, call it 40 if you are beyond OCD, maybe anal retentive.)

The side benefit of treadmilling is that I can read on my iPad Kindle app. Walking enables deeper concentration on my reading, which is to say that I can’t fall asleep while walking. Should I fall asleep I can pick myself up and go back to walking and reading. It hasn’t happened but I know I could do it if necessary.

Using this method, I have finally finished Albert Camus’ The Plague, and Pat Conroy’s The Great Santini. My brief reviews of those two: 1.) The end of a pestilence is greeted by the return of rats to the streets and gutters, not doves bearing olive branches, and 2.) Pat Conroy delivers more locker room talk than I have heard since junior high school and Army basic training. Ugh. Almost as repulsive as the joyous return of the rats to our daily lives.

My other compulsion has been Duolingo Spanish lessons. After five years of daily exercises, I have finally decided to reward them with my $7/month so I can enjoy the site free of advertising. Their advertising is not as annoying as Pandora‘s. The woman who serves as Pandora’s shrill shill and whom they drop like a cold dagger without warning in between Brahms and Bach makes you either want to quit going to the site forever or cough up the $5/month to make her go away. I blinked and gave them my credit card. Life without her has been a joy.

Duolingo, on the other hand, is much less intrusive and annoying with their advertising. I could have tolerated it forever and gone on with free Spanish lessons. I finally gave in because of my nagging conscience.

What they do at Duolingo has made me consider nominating the organization for a Nobel Peace prize. Their lessons seem expertly organized and thought out. There are people on their staff who know languages and language pedagogy. And, even better, they know some of the tricks of game-style motivators for online learners. My OCD feeds right into their trap.

By their count I now have 1,837 consecutive days of meeting my self-defined practice and instruction goals. That is just over five years of 30 minutes or more every day. And, ever so slowly, it works. After five years I can hold brief conversations with a few of the native Spanish speakers in my world. Well, so long as they answer without asking a question. I’m not quite that fast.

So, if you must have a mental health disorder during a pandemic, I suggest the obsessive-compulsive. It beats clinical depression for many reasons, not the least is the survivability rate. So, if you have a computer and want to learn a language, there is no better time than the present. Duolingo offers ninety-five courses in thirty-eight languages with over 300 million registered users.

If you came of age in the sixties like me, you may even want to take Esperanto. It may be the language humanity’s far spread remnants can use to make peace and start the process of rebuilding the world. You could be among the first to say, Ho gojo, la ratoj revenis.” Oh joy, the rats are back.

Pipophobia, the Epidemic that Seems to Affect Only Republicans

I have struggled to understand why United States senators with law degrees and postsecondary degrees from premier universities are so craven and timid when DJT threatens them with a tweet. Well, like most questions in psychology, if you fail to understand something, you can at least label it.

So I took to Google to get some help with labeling this condition. After finding the Latin word for tweet (pipo), I am prepared to announce my diagnosis: John Cornyn and Ted Cruz suffer from an extreme form of pipophobia.

I am sympathetic but unforgiving. Anyone whose integrity can be so easily intimidated by a semi-literate tyrant has no business presenting himself for public office in the United States. I have never run for office and never will. But I can tell you that I would be honored to be the subject of an insulting tweet from @realDonaldTrump.

But I guess even that is not worth getting a Twitter account for.