Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Happy Kittens Fart Sunshine

It began with a fight on the Stonekettle Station Facebook Group.

Then moved to a direct message:

"It's impossible to have any kind of disagreement with your other followers without someone shooting Russian troll accusations around."

Well, maybe try not sounding like a Russian stooge then.

What’s that? Oh. You were expecting me to be polite after you opened with complains about my readers?

Sorry, please continue:

"Are you at all in favour [sic] of a debate or are we supposed to toe the line and show absolute unquestioning support to whoever the Democrats nominate?"

If you don’t want to be called a Russian stooge, maybe don’t use the foreign spelling of words either.

That said, have you ever seen me suggest or demonstrate "unquestioning support" for anybody? Ever? In any fashion?

No, you haven't.

I have said repeatedly and at great length "I don't owe any politician anything." And neither do you.

Go ahead, do a search on this blog, on my Facebook page, on my Twitter. See how many times I’ve said it.

Hint: It’s a lot.

A lot.

I guess you weren't listening.

But here's the really hilarious part: You're a Bernie guy. You are. Yes, you are. Bernie or bust, right? In point of fact, that's what this is about. Isn't it? This is about your guy losing to Joe Biden in the primaries. And now, you're all depressed and mad and upset and you've come here to register your protest as if I'm the Democratic National Committee's Complaint Department. That what this is about, right?

Sure it is.

Any minute now you're going to demand to speak to my manager about my poor attitude.

"You're a smart guy, Jim. Surely you can see the problems the Democrats have with nominating Biden?"

Yes. And?

It’s likely that I see more problems with Biden than you do.


What is it you expect me to do? Call up Tom Perez and read him the riot act? You think he’ll endorse your guy maybe? Think he’ll call up Michigan and tell them to change their primary results? That’s it, isn’t it? You bought into the conspiracy theory that the DNC diddled the previous election to favor Hillary Clinton, didn’t you? And you figure, what the hell, maybe if you complain to me, I’ll strongarm Perez into diddling 2020 for Bernie, is that it?

You slip me a $20 and I’ll see what I can do.

"How bad does a candidate have to be before you seriously question the integrity of the entire American political system?"

You’re kidding, right?

I seriously question the integrity of the American political system all of the time.

Like, pretty much every day.

Seriously question the American political system. And irreverently question it. And sarcastically question it. And pointedly question it. And profanely question it. That's essentially all I do nowadays. That. I question the integrity of the system, the morality of it, the wisdom of it, the foolishness of it, the fairness of it, the candidates, the politicians, the legalities of it, the voters, and what it ate for dinner last night and with who. 

Jesus Haploid Christ, man, where have you been?

"The Democratic Party holds its left wing hostage under threat that the GOP will usher in an era of fascism. How far to the right does the Democratic Party have to be before you begin to wonder if they're any better?"

Listen, Sparky, I don't give a fig how far right the Democratic Party moves.

Anything less than fascist is better than fascism.

What’s that? You don’t think “anything less than fascism” is enough?

Heh. Yeah. Me too. But that’s where we are.

Hang on, we’ll come back to that.

I’d love for there to be a party I could support 100%, that only promoted candidates that were the embodiment of my ideals, and that was imbued with honor, integrity, and absolutely truthfulness. Sure. Why not?

I’d also love to look like Jason Momoa and have the ability to breathe underwater and telepathically communicate with fish.

So long as we’re wishing for stuff, I mean.

Look here: as previously noted, I'm not a Democrat. I'm not a Republican. I'm not a liberal. I'm not a conservative. And I for goddamned sure ain't part of your fucking cosplay "Resistance."

I'm an American.

My oath is to the Constitution. I swore to give my life for my country, not some political party or ideology or some bullshit college dorm room argument by a bunch of drunken philosophy majors. My loyalty is to my friends and family, to my countrymen – even the ones I can’t stand -- to the human race in general, and especially to the future.

And I've said so enough goddamned times that you should have gotten the message by now.


So, let me spell it out:

The odds are very high Joe Biden is going to be the Democratic candidate.

Yeah, that’s right. Joe Biden is very likely going to be the candidate. Now, it doesn't matter if you like that or not. Very likely, that’s how it’s going to be.

If it’s any comfort, he's not my preference either. Not even in the top five.

And, since we’re being honest, frankly, I don't like Bernie either.

I’m sick and fucking tired of Bernie Sanders.

I’m tired of his mirror universe Angry John McCain routine.

I’m tired of his hippy dippy promises of some new Age of Aquarius. I grew up in 60s, I wasn’t impressed.

Most of all, I’m tired of having to pull my punches around his supporters. Who, like you, lose their shit at even the slightest criticism of Bernie Goddamned Sanders.

So, anyway…



You’re mad now?

I said something mean about Bernie.

Yeah. Heh heh. What was that you said up above? Something about “absolute unquestioning support?”

If I can’t dislike your candidate without you getting mad, you’re not in a political movement, you’re in a cult.

You and your friends showed up on my Facebook page, on my Twitter, with an endless litany of what’s wrong with Biden, what’s wrong with Warren, and Buttigieg, and Klobucher, and all the rest of them, but goddamn, don’t be mean to Bernie, right?

But that’s the thing, isn’t it?

That’s it right there, I’ve never badmouthed Bernie. If he is the candidate, I’m going to support him 100% and I’ve said so, many times.

When you showed up on my timeline gushing about your man, while my choice was going down in flames and I was all disappointed, I didn’t tell you that you were wrong, or that you were a sellout, or a corporate whore, or unamerican, or determined to elect Donald Trump.

No. I didn’t.

I didn’t badmouth any candidate – with the notable exception of Donald Trump.

But today is a new day and since you brought it up: I don’t like Bernie.

Hey, don’t take it personally, I said I didn’t like Biden either.

The candidate I preferred – and didn’t openly endorse out of respect for your feelings – dropped out.

Now, you’re all depressed that you’ll probably have to vote for somebody you don’t like?

Me too, Bro.

Me too.

It’s a bummer.

But the universe doesn’t care what I want, and Joe Biden is still very likely to be the candidate.

And showing up on my timeline and complaining about how terrible Biden is or is not very likely won't change that.

Listing all of Biden's supposed failings over and over very likely won't change that.

Dire prognostications about what Biden might or might not do if elected President likely won't change that -- though the hypocrisy of complaining about how how dire prognostications of a possible Trump second term isn't enough to get you to vote for Biden is both amusing and incredibly irritating.

Complaining to me via DM and email because you are unable to change the minds of people, because you’re unable to bend the Democratic Party to your will, and you find that terribly disappointing likely won't change that, though the probability of you irritating me to the point you get yourself blocked will be dramatically improved.

Refusal to face reality, no matter how unpleasant it might be, likely won't change that.

I have no sympathy for your complaints in this regard. I had to make any number of decisions in war where there was no good choice. I still had to choose because it was my duty to do so. That's why it's called "Duty" and not "Happy Kittens Who Fly and Fart Sunshine."

Being assholes to each other, to me, most certainly won't change that.

All of you, you're going to have a choice to make.

And the probability is high that choice is going to be, for a lot of you, unpleasant.

That choice is going to require a certain degree of pragmatic compromise of principles on your part.

Refusal to choose is a still a choice -- one that shows a marked lack of principle.

Some of you need to start getting used to this idea because the universe doesn't give a good goddamn about what you want or about fairness or about your sacred principles. Doesn’t care.

You hate that these are your only choices?

So do I.

Too goddamn bad, those are the choices anyway.

You're mad and depressed because there aren't better ones?


You see, this -- THIS RIGHT HERE -- is where I remind you people that I warned you.

I warned you in 2008.

I warned you again 2010 when you handed the House to the fucking Tea Party.

I warned you in 2012.

I warned you in 2014, when you gave Mitch McConnel the Senate and thus the Supreme Court and, thus, everything else.

And I warned you in 2016.

I’ve been warning you all for a long time, what happens when you don’t show up.

I warned you what would happen if you didn’t grit your damned teeth and do your duty to the Republic.

I warned you sooner later we were going to run out of options.

I warned you.


You don’t listen because you don’t like the choices.

You told me you couldn’t vote for the lesser of evils.

And, so, here we are.

With more evil.

And, somehow, you’re surprised. Shocked. How did this happen? You were crying about free college, when fascism was marching in the streets.

I warned you. I did. But you didn’t listen.

And now you’re mad that you don’t have better choices?

Honestly, I’m out of patience with this. I’m out of patience with you. You’re not stupid. You know better. But you still won’t face it. You still persist in this argument despite knowing that this refusal to face reality is precisely what led directly to this very moment. And don't try to tell me that you don't know, because you damned well do. So, let's not pretend that either one of us is stupid by insisting otherwise.

The truth of the matter is this: You don’t really care.

Your loyalty isn’t to the country. Or the future. Or the people you daily tell me you care about. No. The only thing that matters to you is some pie-in-the-sky ideology. Some hippy dippy dream from the Age of Aquarius. The truth of the matter is that you just love the argument. Bunch of drunken frat boys debating philosophy in your dorm room as if people’s lives are just some hypothetical fantasy that doesn’t affect you. It's nothing but masturbation and you’ll still be jerking off as the goons are pushing the rest of us into the ovens.

I’m out of patience with it.

I’m out of patience with you.

We’re down to it and it’s more important than one person, more important than Bernie or Biden, more important than you. Than me. This is about the country, about the future, about the world we leave for our kids.

You don’t want to be called a Russian troll? Then stop acting like one.

You don’t like how my readers treat you? Then stop throwing handfuls of your own shit at people.

You don’t want to be talked to like you’re a fucking child? Then grow up and face reality. Stop complaining about how the world isn’t what you want it to be and face what it is.

You don’t like my attitude? Then don’t come to me and pretend like I haven’t been warning you of this exact eventuality for more than a decade.

You don’t like your choices? Too bad. Neither do I.

And so what?

You want a better nation? Then you need to start by being a better citizen.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Paid Content

As previously noted, every once in a while I have to ask for money.

I don’t have to do it very often these days. But, this has been an expensive year and I’ve got bills to pay and people to take care of.

Having given up military consulting work and having shut down my woodworking business and art studio (hopefully temporarily) when I left Alaska, I subsist for the moment primarily on income derived from my social media sites and this blog – including the various merchandise I sell under my brand.

A few years back, I wouldn’t have believed this possible.

A few years back it wouldn’t have been possible.

But despite the sneering complaints of certain vocal critics, it is possible for a writer to make a reasonably decent living this way.

Yes, writer.

It used to be “writer” was defined as somebody who assembled words and ideas into books, short stories, articles, and perhaps screenplays, fact or fiction, and submitted those efforts via various means to editors at publishing houses or various presses or various media outlets, and then lived on cheese sandwiches hoping a check of some modest amount would come back. Traditionally the profession of “writer” meant you repeated this cycle without healthcare or adequate hygiene or presentable clothes until you died, or gave it up for a real job.

That model, that definition of writer, still very much exists.

And a lot of writers make varying degrees of living from it.

If you’re a Stephen King or a John Scalzi, you might make millions and live in a golden mansion high on a landscaped hill in the middle of a private island waited on hand and foot by an army of nubile olive-pitters (this is totally true and I heard it directly from one of George R.R. Martin’s gardeners). But more likely you’re a stringer for the local paper, and you might make enough to buy a cheese sandwich or two providing you’re not particular about the definition of “cheese” or those weird green spots on the bread.

Various degrees of success exist between those poles.

Me? I wanted to be a writer since I was kid. It’s a sickness, writing. A weird mental disorder that makes you sit in front of a keyboard for hours, daydreaming and playing with ideas and wondering why anybody would read the blather on the screen. But my grandmother gave me a Hardy Boys book (#8; The Mystery of Cabin Island) for Christmas one year when I was about 8 or 9. I’d been an indifferent reader up to that point, but that book captivated me and my lifelong obsession with words began right there. Somewhere shortly thereafter, in a staggering moment of epiphany, I realized there were actually people out there who got paid to sit in front of a keyboard and daydream and those people didn’t have to put on pants every day. Hell they might not even own actual pants – unless you consider pajamas legitimate work apparel.

I knew then that’s what I wanted to do.

I’d always intended to go the traditional route, cheese sandwiches and all.

I’d never intended to write about politics. But evidence would suggest that’s where my talent lies – if you’re charitable and agree that it is indeed an actual talent and not just something you could train a chimpanzee to do (they taught ‘em to fly spaceships, so I imagine political pundit wouldn’t be that difficult).

But by the time I was free to write what I wanted (upon my retirement from the military) and I started writing in earnest with the idea that someday somebody would give me actual money for it, the world had changed. How we connect to it had changed and continues to evolve at a rapid pace and a new type of “writer” became possible – well maybe not new new, but perhaps a more modern version of the political broadsides and pamphlets penned by the likes of Thomas Paine.

It’s amazing to me how fast this has gone.

Ten years ago, hell five years ago, I would never have guessed that Facebook would become my primary platform for day to day short form.  Facebook is a horrible platform for the kinds of things I write. It’s a bastard cross between a blog and public forum and doesn’t do either very well. It’s subject to arbitrary and random censorship. There’s no protection for intellectual property at all. It lacks the most basic of editing tools and formatting functions, its search capability is ridiculous and all but useless. Facebook’s interface, timeline management, and display are one of the single most infuriatingly horrible experiences in an age of limitless customization – limitless to everybody but Facebook users that is. It’s impossible to get any kind of help from the operators and it’s subject to every kind of cyber-abuse from bullying to trolling to sexual assault.

And Twitter, where I spend many hours every day, is – if anything – worse.

If Facebook is a dysfunctional community, then Twitter is Monkey Island in that community’s horrible zoo, a screeching riot of flying shit and bared fangs. Twitter is a chemical plant for distilling out the absolute worst elements of human existence, like some sort of highway where every driver is armed and in the throes of howling road rage and they don’t care if they die if they can take everybody else with them.

And yet – and yet – these platforms do one thing very, very well.

They do the one thing that traditional publishing venues cannot do.

Facebook and Twitter (and Instagram and Snapchat and CoSo and so on) connect writers to people in an organic, viral, geometrically expanding manner that is completely impossible anywhere else.

Now, interacting with readers on a real time basis for hours upon hours every single goddamned day isn’t for every writer. It takes a certain degree of masochism to do it, see my previous comments about road rage and flying monkey shit.

In point of fact, a lot of writers become writers because they are anti-social bastards who enjoy living on moldy fake-cheese sandwiches and sitting around all day in dirty pajamas and who tend to break out in a cold sweat when they actually have to put on pants and go outside where all the other people are.

So real time interaction with their audience isn’t something they consider a feature.

And that’s okay. “Writer” is a loose enough definition that it accommodates the gregarious right alongside the hermit.

But, if you write well, if you write the things people are interested in, and if you’re willing to interact with your audience directly and in real time, then social media makes it possible for your work to spread far beyond the size of audiences normally available to traditional writers. For example: A few years ago, when I started doing this full time, Stonekettle Station averaged maybe 20,000 visitors per month – and that was after 8 years of writing every single day.  Maybe 3,000 people followed me on Facebook, maybe another 1000 or so on Twitter, and like one weird guy on Instagram.

Five years later, with some considerable effort, my daily Facebook audience is coming up on 200,000 subscribers, 150,000 on Twitter, and a single long form essay on Stonekettle Station can exceed 100,000 unique pageviews in a few hours.

That’s not connectivity traditional publishing, even things like newspaper columnist, can do.

Social media, for all its ills, has created new opportunity, an alternative to traditional writing models. Not a replacement, a supplement.

And that’s where I ended up.

I admit that in my case there is some degree of luck. I happened to be in the right place just as opportunity opened with the right experience and skillset and enough free time to take advantage of it.  It suits me. It’s not easy. Really it’s not. It sometimes (often) takes 14 to 18 hour days, research, writing, swearing at the screen, it can be incredibly frustrating at times for reasons you never imagine or anticipate. It requires constant attention, a constant presence, and everything becomes grist for the mill, making much of your life public – something that is often less than thrilling to your spouse.

It’s work.

And it is … writing.

I’ve had a number of critics sneer at me, you’re not a real writer! Well, okay. Fair enough. I’m not particularly put out by that and I’m willing to go with whatever description you want to call it.  Sincerely.

But what do you call it?

I sometimes crank out a quarter million words in a month for a dedicated audience larger than that of many highly successful novelists. Hell, news sites steal my work on nearly a daily basis, and publish my stuff as their own for profit – that’s got to mean something, right? Now, I’m willing to accept any label you want to slap on that, but before you do, I’d like to suggest you try it. Start a blog, social media sites, assemble words every day, build an audience without gimmicks or tricks solely on the basis of what you write, and then tell me what you call that effort.

As a cautionary note: no matter what you call yourself, no matter how much adoring admiration you manage to inspire in your audience, no matter how many people send you fan mail and messages of respect, no matter how successful you eventually manage to be and how full of yourself you become as a result, your family and friends still think you’re a putz and remind you of it as often as possible.  Ideally this keeps you grounded and from turning into a complete ass. Ideally.

And every day, every single day, no matter how well you’ve done, everyday, you’re sure that’ll be the day it all falls apart and you’ll have to go get a real job again.

I’ve been invited to a number of writer’s conventions to talk about this with other writers – or those who want to become writers under this new paradigm. That’s something I’m happy to do. I’ve been pretty lucky and I’m glad to pay that forward. The world is a big place, there’s plenty of room for many, many more writers – or whatever you call ‘em – in this new arena. More on that as plans firm up.

But, here’s the downside – or at least the part I like least.

Every once in a while I need to ask for money.

I don’t like this. I really don’t like this. I don’t like asking for money.

I’m getting more used it, especially since it doesn’t seem to bother readers at all – well except for that one guy who shows up periodically to call me names and generally make an ass of himself. But ideally, I write something and if you like it enough, you’ll kick in.  And thankfully, you do so often enough that I can mostly survive on that part. Mostly, but not quite.

So when I began this I found a way to assuage my conscience.

Any subscriber who donates any amount via the donation button or as a Patreon during the period of March 1st, 2020 to April 15, 2020 will be put in the running for a giveaway. Every few days over the next month, I’ll give away loot. I’ve got at least a hundred of my handmade ink pens, engraved with Stonekettle Station. I’ve signed copies of books that my work appears in. I’ve got signed copies of my photography – and given that I generally don’t sign those prints, these will be unique. And randomly, I’ll give away a couple of Stonekettle Station T-shirts (If you win one of those, I’ll have it made to your requirements, size, color, sex, etc).

Winners will be announced every few days until I run out things to give away.

To donate, click on the “Donation” button on the upper right side of this screen and follow the directions or click on the Patreon link for additional options.

Edit: Readers viewing Stonekettle Station on mobile devices sometimes can’t see the side-bar. As such, I’m attempting to embed the donate function code here in the text.

My Patreon is here

You may enter more than once. Each donation will be counted as a unique subscription.If you’ve already donated to Stonekettle Station this month, you’re already on the subscription list.

Those of you who already donate via an automatic monthly payment, you’ll be entered automatically in the giveaway.

I’ve discovered that winners sometimes, often it seems, do not want their names made public. I’d like to tell readers who got the various art pieces, but if you want your name kept private I will certainly do so. Last time I did this, the first person I selected to receive a prize refused because they lived on a boat and had no room for addition items. The alternate also refused for personal reasons and requested that the artwork go instead to a charity for auction to raise money for a cause important to them. They wanted it kept anonymous. So, that I did. I will honor any reasonable request when it comes to such things.

Legal Disclaimer: To be clear, this is not a lottery or a raffle.  Donations are voluntary subscription fees specifically in support of this blog and the associated social media feeds and conducted in accordance with state and federal requirements.

That is:  you’re paying for content not a chance to win something.

I am not claiming any tax-exempt status or charity. Donations are considered business income and I pay all applicable state and federal taxes on that income and I have the records to prove it.

The items I give away are my artwork, created and paid for by me.  As such I chose to randomly give them away to supporters, just as I gave away my custom made pens to my fellow writers.  The giveaway list is generated from voluntary subscriptions, since I have no other way to determine who readers are.  You are not donating for a chance to win a prize, you’re paying for the content of this blog and my associated social media feeds and I’m using this opportunity to give something back other than just my usual blog essays, Facebook posts, and Tweets.

As always, thank you for your support.


No science is immune to the infection of politics and the corruption of power.
Jacob Bronowski, British Mathematician, Historian

I hate talking about this fucking virus.

But it seems like that’s all I’ve done for the last few days.

I'm not trying to add to your anxiety.

Or mine, for that matter. But I have people who are going to die if they get it. Friends going in for surgery tomorrow. Friends with cancer. Elderly members of my family.

I’m not special in that regard, of course.

We all have people we care about who are at risk.

The thing is, I live in an impoverished part of the country.

A hell of a lot of people here don't have healthcare, and if they do it's lousy. They have plans with high out-of-pocket costs that they can’t afford even under the most dire of circumstance. Their plans don’t cover anything but the bare minimum, they’re difficult to use (by design), and expensive. That’s the kind of health insurance plans poor people get.

If they get anything at all.

A significant number of the people who live in this little Southern town, they're sick all the time already.

Because that’s how life is here.

That’s how life has always been. It’s a fixture of this place – and many other places in America.

The medical infrastructure here is, charitably speaking, mostly crap. Much of it is for-profit, or run by religion. People don’t have family doctors, they go to those lousy little pay-as-you-go clinics when their kids get strep throat or step on a rusty nail. Everything else they treat with discount over-the-counter meds they get from the Dollar Store.

I'm surrounded by people who can't afford the flu vaccination.

Now when I said that on Twitter, can’t afford a flu shot, naturally social media went immediately down the rabbit hole and spent the next 24 hours telling me how I could get “free” flu shots at any pharmacy.

Of course, it was never about the flu shot.

And leaving aside the part where a lot of people obviously don’t read the fine print when it comes to “Free Flu Shots (with most insurance),” I used that example only to illustrate a point about poverty.

Poor people don’t get vaccinated, they get sick. 

Sure, there are programs to get poor kids the mandatory vaccinations they need to attend public school, but optional vaccinations are a luxury most can’t afford. You can sometimes find the flu shot for $25 or so at places like Costco or a local pharmacy, but for a lot of people that’s a tank of gas or food for a week. So they get the flu, and shingles, and pneumonia. And they go to work with it. Because that’s just how it is when you’re poor.

Another example: In any impoverished area, a lot of people have bad teeth. Or missing teeth.

It’s one of the first thing you notice.

Why? Because it's a hell of a lot cheaper to get a tooth pulled than it is to get it fixed. Poor people can’t afford crowns or fillings or even routine cleanings if they don’t have dental coverage. They also tend to have lousy diets, because proper nutrition and the education to recognize it are also out of reach when you’re on the bottom rung. All the brushing in the world won’t help when you diet is mostly sugars and you’re drinking unfluoridated well water and can’t afford to the see the dental hygienist.

What’s the point of these examples?

What’s the point of talking about poverty in a pandemic?

Because when the government tells you to buy a couple weeks worth of supplies and just stay home if you think you might have been exposed, well it demonstrates that those in charge are profoundly ignorant of reality.

Poor people can’t just stay home.

People who live paycheck to paycheck can’t just stay home.

People here go to work sick, because they can't afford not to.

They send their children to school sick, because they can’t afford not to.

People here get the flu, because it's cheaper than the vaccine. And most of the time it doesn't kill them. They get teeth pulled, or let them rot out of their heads, because it’s the only option they have. People here just live with health issues, until they don't. Because they can't afford anything else.

The point of my comment about flu shots was to illustrate the larger issue.

And I used the flu as an example because the president himself brought it up during his coronavirus press conference two days ago:

Trump: You look at flu season.  I said 26,000 people?  I’ve never heard of a number like that.  Twenty-six thousand people going up to sixty-nine thousand people, Doctor — you told me before.  Sixty-nine thousand people die every year — from 26 [thousand] to 69 [thousand] — every year from the flu.  Now, think of that.  It’s incredible.

So far, the results of all of this that everybody is reading about — and part of the thing is you want to keep it the way it is.  You don’t want to see panic because there’s no reason to be panicked about it.

But when I mentioned the flu, I said — actually, I asked the various doctors.  I said, “Is this just like flu?”  Because people die from the flu.  And this is very unusual.  And it is a little bit different, but in some ways it’s easier and in some ways it’s a little bit tougher.

Think of that. That’s incredible, Trump says of the people who die from the flu.


He didn’t know.

He didn’t know. That’s the incredible part.

Trump: I want you to understand something that shocked me when I saw it that — and I spoke with Dr. Fauci on this, and I was really amazed, and I think most people are amazed to hear it: The flu, in our country, kills from 25,000 people to 69,000 people a year.  That was shocking to me.

And, so far, if you look at what we have with the 15 people and their recovery, one is — one is pretty sick but hopefully will recover, but the others are in great shape.  But think of that: 25,000 to 69,000.

Over the last 10 years, we’ve lost 360,000.  These are people that have died from the flu — from what we call the flu.  “Hey, did you get your flu shot?”  And that’s something.

Trump didn’t know how many people die from the flu every year.

Why would he? Because the majority of the people who die from the flu are poor, elderly, infirm, immunosuppressed, etc.

These are the very same people who are vulnerable to the Novel Coronavirus – a disease with a significantly higher mortality rate.

And Trump is using the flu to tell them not to worry, right?

I mean, you see it, right?

Of course, this really wasn’t about the flu. Or even about the coronavirus.

It was about how the privileged profit from poverty.

If you're a selfish greedy predatory asshole like Rush Limbaugh, you tell those poor people the coronavirus is just the flu, just a cold, because anything else makes Trump look bad. Because if Trump looks bad, then Rush looks bad. And trust me, every confederate flag waving son of bitch who doesn't have a pot to piss in down here listens to Limbaugh like he's the second coming of Dale Earnhardt Jr. 

And Trump himself?

Trump daily demonstrates that he’s more worried about how this pandemic will affect his reelection campaign, how it will impact the stock market and thus the 401Ks and the profits of those who might blame him for the disaster.

Poor people don’t have 401K retirement plans and stock portfolios.

Trump has spent $28 billion of your tax money propping up the very farmers he screwed, solely to ensure they keep voting for him. But do you see a single penny for poor people? Do you see the Trump administration offering up emergency flu shots or money for food or a week’s wages so that these people might be able to stay home if they’re exposed? Do you see Trump pushing for emergency regulations that would prevent businesses from firing those who stayed home, as instructed by the government?

Do you see Rush Limbaugh pushing for such?

No, you don’t.


Why indeed.

The point here is this: when the virus finally does hit that population, what do you think is going to happen?

These are people who get medical advice from Alex Jones and Rush Limbaugh and I’ll tell you with 100% certainty what’s going to happen, they're going to keep going to work until they can't.

And they're going infect everybody around them, because that's just how it is. The poor, the elderly, the infirm, the immunosuppressed, the weak and the most vulnerable.

This whole "Don't go to work if you think you might be coming down with something" is privilege talking, the kind of thing people with wealth say. The kind of thing people with Stage 3 Lung Cancer, a person most vulnerable to something like the coronavirus, say when they don’t personally ever have to worry about being exposed, when there is no risk to them, when they value profit over people.

People on the bottom don't have that luxury.

They go to work, no matter what, because there isn't any other option.

They can't afford to buy a month's worth of supplies and bunker up. They can't even afford a $20 flu shot or a teeth cleaning. And conservative pundits are busy telling them it’s all a hoax anyway. Nothing to worry about.

And where do these people work? What jobs do the working poor do? Do you know? Because they’re fixing your fast food and waiting your tables and pushing carts at the local Walmart.

You maybe starting to get the picture now?

And so, the government’s primary preventative measure will fail right out of the box.

If you don't understand this, then you've never seen actual poverty up close.

That’s my point here.

The point isn’t how many people the disease kills or doesn't kill.

Citizens are worried. Right, wrong, it doesn't matter. Americans are worried and it's our leaders’ job to address those concerns sincerely, not call them a hoax and complain about the stock market.

And when it does come?

When the virus spreads into the local population, the ones too poor not to get sick?

Here, the local government can't handle an epidemic. They can't even afford to fix a fucking pothole.

And the state is run by science denying religious nuts who think hurricanes and diseases are punishment from their shitty miserable god for gay people or some such nonsense.

When it happens, with this outbreak or the next, there won’t be enough medical resources and competence to go around.

Those in charge know it.

They know.

This morning there was a press conference here in Florida. Turns out, the Florida Department of Health waited 24 hours after finding out about two emergent cases of coronavirus before informing the public.

Because they don’t know what to do, they don’t have any kind of plan, and they they can’t stop it.

This morning, Washington State is reporting five dead from the virus.

Meanwhile, in Texas, a patient infected with COVID-19 was accidentally released from the Texas Center for Infectious Disease and … went to the mall. She spent two hours there in the food court, then went to a hotel, before doctors managed to track her down. Officials say the risk that she infected others is low.

But then, they’d have to, wouldn’t they?

I don’t know, maybe we’ll get lucky and the virus will die out and we won’t get widespread infection.

Maybe we’ll get lucky and researchers will develop a vaccine, get it approved, and get it to the market in the next few weeks – as Trump has repeatedly claimed.

Just a very quick update on the countermeasure development in the form of vaccines and therapeutics.  I had told this audience at a recent press briefing that we have a number of vaccine candidates and one prototype, to give you a feel for the timeframe of a vaccine and what its impact might be now and in subsequent years — is that I told you we would have a vaccine that we would be putting into trials, to see if it’s safe and if it induces a response that you would predict would be protective in about three months.

I think it’s going to be a little bit less than that.  It’s probably going to be closer to two months.  That would then take about three months to determine if it’s safe and immunogenic, which gives us six months.  Then you graduate from a trial — which is phase one — of 45 people, to a trial that involves hundreds if not low thousands of people to determine efficacy.  At the earliest, an efficacy trial would take an additional six to eight months.

So although this is the fastest we have ever gone from a sequence of a virus to a trial, it still would not be any applicable to the epidemic unless we really wait about a year to a year and a half.
-- Dr. Antony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH, at the Trump Press Conference.

Maybe we’ll get lucky and there’ll be enough vaccine for everybody and everybody will be able to afford it and the most vulnerable will get it first instead of the rich and powerful. Sure. Maybe.

But, if this goes sideways, well, then just like everywhere else, there’s not going to be enough resources to save those at the bottom.

The medical system will have to do battlefield triage, save the ones they can and to hell with the rest. We won’t have any choice and the medical experts have as much as told you so.

Don’t think so?

Two days ago Trump held a press conference.

The message was repeated over and over by Trump and the various medical types he pushed at the podium: if you're healthy, you're probably okay. You'll survive. If you're healthy. But if you're not, if you're old, or have cancer, or a compromised immune system, then without significant medical care, you're gonna be in trouble.

Right now, that medical care is available.

But once the virus is widespread, once thousands are infected, once the system is saturated, then what? What’s the plan then?

I'm at ground zero if this thing goes sideways.

Sure, my immune system is still pretty good, reasonably robust, but all the people I care about are at significant risk.

Trump: I think you have to always — look, I do it a lot anyway, as you’ve probably heard.  Wash your hands, stay clean.  (Laughter.)  You don’t have to necessarily grab every handrail unless you have to.  You know, you do certain things that you do when you have the flu. I mean, view this the same as the flu.  When somebody sneezes — I mean, I try and bail out as much as possible when they’re sneezing.  I had a man come up to me a week ago.  I hadn’t seen him in a long time, and I said, “How you doing?”  He said, “Fine.  Fine.”  And he — he hugs me, kiss.  I said, “Are you well?”  He says, “No.”  (Laughter.)  He said, “I have the worst fever and the worst flu.”  And he’s hugging and kissing me.  So I said, “Excuse me.”  I went and I started washing my hands.  (Laughter.)  So you have to do that. You know, this is — I really think, Doctor, you ought to treat this like you treat the flu, right?  And, you know, it’s going to be — it’s going to be (inaudible). Wait.  I want to have — I loved — that was so nice of you to say “thank you very much.”

ReporterWell, thank you, Mr. President.

TrumpGo ahead.  Give me a nice question then.  Don’t ruin it.  Don’t ruin it with a bad question.  Go ahead.

And fucking Nero is up there fiddling conspiracy theories over the stock market and his reelection instead of doing his job.

Trump: Yeah, sure.  Sure.  I think Speaker Pelosi is incompetent.  She lost the Congress once.  I think she’s going to lose it again.  She lifted my poll numbers up 10 points.  I never thought that I would see that so quickly and so easily.

I’m leading everybody.  We’re doing great.  I don’t want to do it that way.  It’s almost unfair if you think about it.  But I think she’s incompetent, and I think she’s not thinking about the country.  And instead of making a statement like that, where I’ve been beating her routinely at everything — instead of making a statement like that, she should be saying we have to work together, because we have a big problem, potentially.  And maybe it’s going to be a very little problem.  I hope that it’s going to be a very little problem.  But we have to work together.

Instead, she wants to do that — same thing with Cryin’ Chuck Schumer.  He goes out and he says, “The President only asked for two and a half billion dollars.  He should have eight and a half.”  This is the first time I’ve ever been told that we should take more.  Usually, it’s we have to take less.

And we should be working together.  He shouldn’t be making statements like that, because it’s so bad for the country.  And Nancy Pelosi — I mean, she should go back to her district and clean it up, because it’s the number one — if you look at percentage down, that was one of the finest in the world, and now you look at what’s happening.

And I’m just saying, we should all be working together. She’s trying to create a panic, and there’s no reason to panic because we have done so good. 

We have a government of corrupt, incompetent, greedy fools. Science deniers, religious nuts, hacks, flacks, goons, loons, and poltroons. Trump daily tells you he doesn't give a fuck about half the country and would just as soon see us eliminated.

This is a guy who can't work a toilet or an umbrella. Who thinks it's the light bulbs making him look orange and not the actual orange goop he smears on his face every day.

This is a guy who thinks wind turbines cause cancer and coal can be burned cleanly so long as you’re voting for Trump.


Worse, all the people in charge of this crisis, a) don't think it's a crisis, and b) think medicine first and foremost should be for profit and are right now figuring out how they can make bank off the plague.


So, yes, I'm a bit concerned.

I’m concerned because all the people I care about are at risk.

So, forgive me if I don't have the greatest confidence in these greedy ass-kissing Rapture monkeys to manage anything but their own stock portfolios with any degree of competency.

This plague or the next, sooner or later, America is going to pay the price for not having a universal healthcare system.

Sooner or later, we’re going to pay the price for putting profit over people.

We’re going to pay the price for electing fools to run our country.

The bill is going to come due.

Nobody is capable of really thinking about anyone, even in the worst calamity.
-- Albert Camus, The Plague