Sunday, October 4, 2020

"He never cared about us."

That stark reality comes from a quote from Trump's secret service.  They expressed their anger and frustration to the Washington Post on Friday, as the realities of Trump's infection were coming to light, revealing the pattern of behavior that has continued to put them at risk.  

Their words seem to echo a truth regarding Trump's view of the rest of America - he doesn't care about us. 

Beyond the extent to which he can use us.

This isn't really the topic I would like to be writing about, but it seems necessary, if for no other reason than to update and correct inaccuracies in Friday's blog post.  Over the past couple of days, several new pieces of information have come to light regarding the timeline of Trump's Covid-19 infection and the impact that it has had.

First, it seems that Trump was infected a lot earlier than we thought.  Trump's doctors revealed yesterday that he was 72 hours into his diagnosis.  This means he would have tested positive on Wednesday morning at the latest.  This means he would have knowingly traveled to his campaign rally Wednesday night and to his fundraising roundtable on Thursday while being positive for the virus.  He did not wear a mask or social distance at these events.

And again, this is the latest that the president would have shown to be positive.  There are indications he may have been positive before or at least believed he could test positive before.

Second, Trump was not tested before the first presidential debate by the event site.  Under the guidelines for the event, all other people in the hall had to be tested on site, but the candidates and their traveling parties could either be tested on site or could relay a test from their campaign.  The Trump family arrived too late to be tested on site from the Cleveland Clinic.  The Trump team instead relayed that they had their own negative test results obtained from their campaign.  

This is important, as it plays to the credibility of the Trump campaign.  Did they provide truthful information regarding the president's status?  This shouldn't be a question that is needed to be raised, but given the president's track record, it is one that we are left with.  

Further, this is especially important in light of the Trump family's refusal to wear masks at the presidential debate.  While everyone was expected to be on an honor code to wear masks and social distance, the Trump family refused.  Did their actions potentially expose many more to the virus?

Again, this matters because the likely root of the infections in the Trump team seem to stem from the Rose Garden announcement of Amy Coney Barrett as nominee for the Supreme Court on Saturday, September 26, 2020.  This event seems to be a super-spreader, with at least eight reported cases stemming from the event, including likely Hope Hicks, whose announcement started this process, and the president himself.  There were 180 people at the event; only 50 of whom were social distancing or wearing masks.  The others were packed into the event, with handshakes, hugs, and close chatting.

To put this in perspective, with Trump's announcement, twelve members of his team have also revealed their positive diagnosis for the virus.   Eight were at this event.  And this would put the president's potential infection much further back than revealed.

It is part of a continued pattern of misinformation, that is still occurring to date, with details on the president's current health status being particularly obscured. Saturday's briefing left a lot of people confused.  It contained references to 72 hours and 48 hours instead of Day 3 and Day 2 of treatment respectively.  The briefing reported that Trump was doing very well, but later was updated to say the next 48 hours would be critical for Trump's recovery.  Today's briefing revealed that Trump's temperature was high, that his lung scans show unexpected findings, Trump is on a steroid recommended for severe and critical cases only, and his oxygen levels had dropped on Friday and again on Saturday.  There are still no updates on fever or oxygen level and has been a refusal for additional information on his status, a refusal to answer questions.

It makes it very hard to know what to believe, as we truly enter into the unknown.  Will the president be quarantined or under intense care up to the election?  What happens if the president is incapacitated and the 25th amendment must be invoked during this time?  If the worst happens, what happens if he dies?

At such a critical time it would seem to be imperative we had a trustworthy presence.  A leader to emerge to remind us the process is under control.  A reassuring hand that reminds us that he cares.  A president who shows us the way to move forward.

Instead, we've seen the cavalier attitude that he had up to this point and we are reminded of one singular thought -

"He never cared about us."  

Friday, October 2, 2020

Trump Infected


President Trump and First Lady Melania have tested positive for Covid-19.  Just two hours after posting that advisor Hope Hicks had tested positive, Trump revealed the news on Twitter at 1:30 am ET this morning.   

If the timeline is to be understood correctly, the implications are a little troubling.  Apparently, Hicks had tested negative on Wednesday, September 30, 2020, before she boarded Air Force 1 with the president and most of his closest advisers, but had developed symptoms during the day.  A second test on Thursday morning, October 1, 2020, was positive.  This indicates that she was likely infected on Wednesday, though at a low enough rate to test negative.  Nonetheless, the president and his team flew to New Jersey on Thursday, where he attended a fundraiser, gave a speech, and attended a roundtable with supporters, all, of course, without a mask.  

This raises several questions.  We know Trump was tested Tuesday night before the debate and tested negative.  Could he have been in a similar situation as Hicks, where he was infected, though at a low enough rate to test negative?  Did Trump catch the virus from Hicks or vice versa?

How many of his team are likewise infected?  There were eighteen others from his team aboard Air Force One on Wednesday, including all his children and their spouses, with the exception of Barron.  At the debate on Tuesday, this entourage, including Hicks and four older Trump children, refused to wear masks despite the mandate that they do so.  What are the transmission implications of their actions?

This is all extremely frustrating from an administration that has refused to take this virus seriously.  From a President who has refused to be seen wearing a mask in public, who admitted to underplaying the severity of the virus in order to prevent a panic, who even as recent as the debate on Tuesday stated that "It affects virtually nobody."

It is this background that creates a bit of concern as to whether this is a "boy who cried wolf" scenario.  This president lies so frequently and so readily, that it is hard to trust that he actually means what he says, especially on serious issues like this.  Twitter users in particular noted that someone had suggested this very scenario back in September as a way for Trump to steal headlines with an "October surprise."  This would allow him to take the spotlight away from Biden, to avoid further potential embarrassment and damage at the next debate, to emerge victorious over the virus as a show of strength, and then to claim credit for a new treatment that had cured him, likely hydroxychloroquine, in which he is over-invested.

Because of his record, it's not hard to imagine Trump doing exactly that.  Cornell University studied more than 38 million articles regarding the coronavirus pandemic between January 1 and May 26 that were published in English and showed that Trump was "likely the largest driver of...Covid-19 misinformation."  37.9% of misinformation regarding the virus mentioned Trump.

So we have a president, in the at risk categories for the severe form of the virus, who has not taken it seriously to date, infected with just weeks to go before the election.

"Surprise"

Although, I guess not really.

This should serve as a reminder to everyone:

  • Wash your hands
  • Wear a mask
  • Socially distance from others
  • Take care of yourself

and most importantly,

VOTE

  • Vote now
  • Vote early
  • Research and be prepared to vote fully down ballot

VOTE

We often say vote as if your life depended on it.  This time, it might actually be literally true.

I wish the president and all a speedy recovery.   I pray they do not suffer the major infections that have been seen with this virus.  They will have the best medical care possible.  

Hopefully, this time, they will heed that advice.


Thursday, October 1, 2020

"Proud Boys, Stand Back and Stand By"


Those seven words should be all that anyone needs to know.  

They should send a chill down the spine of every American.

They should represent the end of a political career.  There have been campaigns lost because of an over-enthusiastic "Yeehaw," an over-exaggerated sigh, excessive eye rolling.  Those pale in comparison to the statement made above.  

And yet, I have no delusions. 

This won't be the end of President Trump.  It's another tick in a long list of offenses that would have ended the careers of any other politician.  

Instead it merely represents the lowest point in the worst debate in presidential history.  

The debate in and of itself was an awful reflection of modern America society.  It was not a debate.  There was no reasoned discourse.  There wasn't even an opportunity for either side to present their vision for America.  Instead, it was a night of potshots and interruptions, of distortions and outright lies.   - Please don't mistake this for me "both-siding" the debate.   This was an hour and a half of one side repeatedly haranguing the other forcing an outright fight just to keep up.

In what was the worst offense, the President was given an opportunity to knock a softball question out of the fence.  He was given the opportunity to outright denounce alt-right and white supremacist groups.  And he started to indicate that he would. "Sure" he said, then asking for more clarification in the question.  When Wallace offered the Proud Boys as an example, Trump's response was staggering.

"Proud Boys, Stand Back and Stand By."

That's not a denouncement, that's a call to arms.  

And the Proud Boys are certainly taking it as one.  Leadership for the Proud Boys has responded that they are proud of the President's mention and have seen a surge of interest in joining.  Social media was ablaze in mentions, with the Proud Boys enthusiastically joining in.  They've even adopted "Stand Back and Stand By" as a slogan, to the point that Amazon has halted sales of merchandise with the phrases.

If you are unfamiliar, the Proud Boys are a right-wing, neo-fascist group with a dozen chapters in Idaho, Washington, and Oregon, where they are particularly known for a readiness to fight Antifa.  They claim to be "Western Civilization Chauvinists," not white supremacists, pointing to their inclusion of some Asian American, African America, and Hispanic members.  "Western Civilization Chauvinists" should be looked at as "Western Civilization Supremacists" - read "White Civilization Supremacists."  And while they may not outwardly proclaim white supremacist beliefs, their ties to white supremacy are hard to ignore.  White supremacists are inextricably lined at their events.  Their de facto uniform, the black and yellow Fred Perry polo shirt, is historically linked to the white supremacists movement in England in the 1970s.  They have been designated as a general hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  

If it walks like a duck.

The sad thing is Trump's language is not as shocking as it should be.  It's part of a pattern of discourse, part of saying there are "very fine people on both sides."  A pattern of repeatedly refusing to call out alt-right groups because they make up a part of his base.  Lincoln appealed to the better angels of our nature.  Trump is appeasing our worst demons.

Trump has attempted to distance himself from his comments at the debate. Yesterday, he lied and said he did not know who the Proud Boys are, but they should stand down.  This might be more convincing if he did not have Proud Boys leadership at his rallies.  They appear in his official campaign videos.  They are the leaders of local Trump groups.

We should all take this as the call to action it should be. VOTE.  Vote them out of power.  Vote early, raise your voice.  Let them know this is not acceptable.

It's sadly going to be a long 34 days.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

First Day of Fall


"Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay."
Robert Frost, 1923

Fall is my favorite season, and I'm so looking forward to celebrating here up north.  We've noticed that we have a maple tree in our front yard, so we are definitely looking forward to the leaves changing color, the cooler weather, the crispness in the air.  It already has started to feel like fall, and I am all in for it.  

We're going to seek out corn mazes, covered bridges, hayrides and the like.  We're going to celebrate this season in our new environment. 

I hope you are able to do the same.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Mitchuation Update: Off the Road, Again

Thankfully.

We're back home from a flying trip to Texas for the wedding.  It was great to see family and to spend time with them.  To see friends at the wedding and take a part.  The only downside there is that everything moved too quickly.

The part that I do not miss is the drive.  I am so glad that is behind us and that we will not be making a substantial drive again for a while.  We did both legs straight: 14 hours going, 13.5 coming back.  Add in losing an hour yesterday coming back home and we're a family of just plain worn out people.

I've told Jamie I think I'm getting too old for that long in a car.  Especially, as I'm not one who gets to sprawl out in the back seat anymore.  We were near loaded to the brim both ways, so everyone stayed in their seat.  I only got to swap back and forth from driver to passenger seat, and neither really allows one to stretch out at all.

My back can't take it and I'm definitely looking forward to the chiropractor this week.

The next trip back I think we are flying.  And then Christmas, I think I've convinced her to break up the return trip at least. 

It's funny how we change.  I'm one who has made more 4-5 hour trips in the car than I can count.  Went home from Austin to Buna a lot.  Went from Baylor to Buna a lot.  Went from Wills Point to Buna and to Austin.  And while those could start wearing on you, I could generally keep up.

I loved long road trips as well.  We generally could spread out, just the three kids.  Taking turns as to who got the back row all to themselves to lay down and spread out.

I understand now why those were not as fun for Mom and Dad.  Driving or just being a passenger in the front seat does not carry near the fascination.

At any rate, we're back home for a while.  Next month, family is coming our direction, so we'll look forward to having them here and showing them around.

Posts should pick up a bit more regularly, including one this week about why it is so hard to write in 2020.

Hope you are all having a great start to the week.

As always, thank you for reading.


Sunday, September 20, 2020

Officiant

Yesterday marked a personal first - I performed my first wedding ceremony.  One of Jamie's students, and the daughter of her best friend, had requested that I officiate her wedding.  She made the request over a year ago, while we still lived in Texas.  I was to officiate, Avalyn was to be the flower girl, and Jude was to carry a sign.  Much has changed over this past year, but this request remained, only Jude got upgraded to ring bearer.  

It is for this reason I recently got ordained by the Universal Life Church.  Non-denominational online church primarily designed for ordaining wedding officiants.  Ideally, I would have found a way to be ordained through our denomination.  I have been ordained as a deacon a couple of churches ago, and have filled in giving a message a couple of times, but am not ordained as a minister.  This at least got me legal as an officiant.

Last night was a beautiful ceremony.  For my part, I was short and sweet, keeping my thoughts/message very brief, and moving right into the vital parts of the ceremony.  Having Jude and Avalyn a part of the ceremony made it an even more special night for our family.

I don't know when I'll ever put this to use again.  I don't see when I'll be asked, especially with the now near 12 hour distance between us and most family and friends.  But for a once in a lifetime opportunity, it was pretty special.

Congratulations John and Ashlyn!  Many blessings on you as you continue forward in your marriage! 

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Talk Like A Pirate Day

In honor of National Talk Like a Pirate Day, a bit of poetry, from Robert Louis Stevenson.


Three of us afloat in the meadow by the swing,
Three of us aboard in the basket on the lea.
Winds are in the air, they are blowing in the spring,
And waves are on the meadow like the waves there are at sea.


Where shall we adventure, to-day that we're afloat,
Wary of the weather and steering by a star?
Shall it be to Africa, a-steering of the boat,
To Providence, or Babylon, or off to Malabar?


Hi! but here's a squadron a-rowing on the sea—
Cattle on the meadow a-charging with a roar!
Quick, and we'll escape them, they're as mad as they can be,
The wicket is the harbour and the garden is the shore.

Pirate Story, Robert Louis Stevenson


A fun and silly holiday to divert our attention from the doom and gloom that seems to be this year.  Hope you get to enjoy today however you talk, and drink up me hearties yo-ho!