Amid the pandemic an election - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Amid the pandemic an election

Top photo is a YouTube screenshot of the second and final presidential debate
(https://youtu.be/bPiofmZGb8o)

How many days until Election Day? Seven, according to the calendar. A week until we start seeing the votes getting counted. Well, that’s not exactly true. Some states have already started to count early votes. Nearly 60 million people have already cast their ballots, either by mail-in voting or early voting. Lines in Texas and Georgia especially had people waiting six to 10 hours to get in their votes.

It isn’t looking good for the Republicans. Many of them, especially senators up for re-election, are beginning to put some distance between them and Donald J. Trump. “Sure, we enabled him for over three years, but you can trust us to right the ship!”

A recording of Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska was “leaked” in which he was bad mouthing Trump. “His family has treated the presidency like a business opportunity. He’s flirted with white supremacists. I mean, the places where we differed on COVID. He, at the beginning of the COVID crisis, he refused to treat it seriously for months, he treated it like a news cycle by news cycle PR crisis rather than a multi-year public health challenge, which is what it is.” He added a little tidbit claiming he was never on the Trump Train …

Gosh, that sounds authentic … but he still pushed through Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

The house where Tim Forkes lived growing up (Tim Forkes)

When I was a kid, going to St. Gregory Catholic Church every Sunday for Mass, we would also go to Confession every Saturday to atone for our sins because our souls could not be stained on Sunday when we would presumably take in the body and blood of Christ, i.e., Holy Communion.

Mainly we did all this under penalty of severe punishment from Mom and Dad, but — and this is/was important — after we told the kindly priest in the confessional our sins, we were absolved, but only if we went back to the pew, got on our knees and said our penance, usually the recitation of a few prayers, The “Our Father,” the “Hail Mary,” and if our sins were extremely egregious, the “Apostles Creed.” You knew you fucked up if the priest assigned three or more “Apostle Creeds.” It’s a long prayer and one I found difficult to memorize.

As much as I began doubting what I was learning in Catechism, I never skimped on my Saturday penance, and if I even caught myself rushing through the prayers, I would stop, slow down and start all over again because what the hell, if God was real I didn’t want to piss Him off. In other words we had to make a sacrifice of our time and thoughts, pay a price for our transgressions.

So Sasse wants us to believe he was never on the Trump Train, but in reality maybe Sasse isn’t as far away from Trump as he wants us to believe. If he wanted us to believe his claim, Sasse would have done his penance and tanked Barrett’s confirmation. Had he done that then maybe we would have believed his sad tale. Sasse is a hypocrite like the rest of his party in the Senate. We remember the Senate GOP’s heartfelt claim about  not confirming a Supreme Court nominee in an election year because the voters deserve to have a voice in the selection of a Supreme Court justice — your 2016 policy edict. 

Sasse went straight from the confessional, right out the front doors of the church to piss on his confession.

Moscow Mitch McConnell has no soul, he can’t even dance (probably never could) and if there’s a Heaven and Hell Moscow Mitch and I will be spending eternity together. In H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks, not the Good Place. The Senate GOP, led by Mitch and that cretin from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham, are going down the road to Hell, paved in bad intentions. I think some of my intentions are good. I could probably get a confirmation for that from my Godmother — she’s a saint, but not until the election is over.

YouTube clip of President Donald Trump
(https://youtu.be/bPiofmZGb8o)

When Trump insisted on leaving Walter Reed Medical Center after he and his family were diagnosed with COVID-19, we didn’t believe he was “cured” or that he had the coronavirus at bay. He just wanted to get out and continue his reality show presidency, He held super spreader events; his vanity, his insecurity, dictates he must get out so people, his cult, can fantasize he is okay, stronger than the coronavirus. A tough guy.

What a crock of shit. Captain Bone Spurs. “The Vietnam War: All gave some, some gave all and one had bone spurs.” If you’re on social media you have probably seen one of the many memes with that on it.

What were the optics of Donald Trump parading around Walter Reed Hospital in that SUV caravan? So his cult could wave at him and he could wave at them.

Every Secret Service agent on his detail was put at risk for that little joy ride, every hospital employee required to be without PPE around him in public because, you know, optics.

Everyone looks back to the super spreader event when Trump introduced his Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett. Dozens of White House staff and Trump acolytes tested positive, including former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. He spent a week in the ICU, hooked up to a ventilator. In a statement after leaving the hospital, Christie said, “I was wrong to not wear a mask at the Amy Coney Barrett announcement and I was wrong not to wear a mask at my multiple debate prep sessions with the President and the rest of the team. I hope that my experience shows my fellow citizens that you should follow CDC guidelines in public no matter where you are and wear a mask to protect yourself and others.”

Christie is the only person in the Trump orbit to not only admit not adhering to the CDC guidelines is a grave mistake, but to actively put into practice those guidelines. Others, like the press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who went through quarantine after testing positive, just went back to Trump business as usual, i.e. it isn’t that serious.

In a tweet and then a recorded video announcement, Trump said, “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”

It was a slap in the face to the 225,000-plus families that are now missing someone who died from the disease. A slap in the face to the millions that have “recovered” from COVID-19, only to have long-term or lifetime complications as a result.

He scorns Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer for the COVID-19 precautionary rules she has put in place, even after the FBI and and Michigan law enforcement broke up a kidnapping and assassination plot by a group of right wing, anti-government terrorists that targeted Whitmer. One of the anti-government groups mentioned in the charging documents is called the Wolverine Watchmen. Seriously. People taking their cues from graphic novels — glorified comic books — for their fantasy military clubs.  I wonder which one of them glows blue in the dark … 

On “Meet the Press” Whitmer said, “The president is at it again, and inspiring and incentivizing and inciting this kind of domestic terrorism. It is wrong. It’s got to end.”

Whitmer also said, “It is dangerous, not just for me and my family but for public servants everywhere who are doing their jobs and trying to protect their fellow Americans. People of goodwill on both sides of the aisle need to step up and call this out and bring the heat down.”

Trump says her lock down is “Draconian” and “unscientific” and when the crowd in Muskegon, Michigan began chanting “Lock her up!” Trump replied, “Lock’em all up.” Leadership, Trump Reality Show style. He loves it when, after inciting his rally crowd to violence, they respond in kind. Where’s retired Gen. Mike Flynn when you need him to lead a chant? Oh yeah, he’s still trying to weasel out of his guilty plea after agreeing to a plea deal when he was caught lying to the FBI about talking to Russian agents.

•••• •••• ••••• •••• ••••

“There’s nothing like a Catholic girl at the CYO when they learn to blow …”
— Frank Zappa, “Catholic Girls” from the album Joe’s Garage.

Amy Coney Barrett is about to be inducted into the Supreme Court Hall of Shame. After Brett Cavanaugh cried his way into a lifelong appointment, we have Amy Coney Barrett getting ready for the U.S. Senate vote on whether to confirm her to the court or not.

Supreme Court Associate Justice
Amy Coney Barrett
(https://youtu.be/Lzl0n5Tsg4I)

A brief historical note before I continue: Cavanaugh was nominated by Trump after Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy was pressured by the White House and their allies, including Kennedy’s son Justin who was global head of real-estate capital markets for Deutsche Bank at the time, to retire from the court. That’s how the Republicans roll. During the Obama Administration some Democrats tried to convince Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to retire so Obama could nominate someone who could sit on the court for another 30 years. Ginsburg declined and now … Amy Coney Barrett.

“They’re learning to blow …”

She claims to be a Constitutional originalist. None of the Democrats thought to put her to the “originalist” test by asking if she believed only landowners could vote, as the Founding Fathers did when they ratified the Constitution. Did she believe, as the founders did when they ratified the Constitution that black people were 3/5 human compared to whites? Should women to be excluded from full citizenship based on their gender? One is either an originalist or they are not.

The truth is constitutional originalism didn’t exist as a legal philosophy until the 1980s when conservatives were looking for arguments to bolster their positions on issues like abortion and civil liberties, which were (and are) becoming more liberal and inclusive with each new generation. And they need a Supreme Court that will be on their side if the November 3 general election winds up in the courts.

What has happened since February 2016 is a definition of “court packing.” Using a never before claimed Senate rule — not nominating a Supreme Court justice during an election year — to reserve a seat for the next president, pressuring a sitting justice to retire and then going back on that afore mentioned rule to jam yet a third nomination through the Senate confirmation process.

It actually started before 2016. McConnell stopped Obama from placing over 100 people in the federal court system in the hopes of having a conservative president — or Donald Trump — put those judges in the courts.

Very little stood in the way of Amy Coney Barrett joining the Supreme Court. Moscow Mitch saw to that by eliminating rules like needing a super majority to get cloture on a nomination so the confirmation vote can take place. Democrats on the judicial committee boycotting the vote to move the confirmation from the committee to the full Senate for a vote. Court packing at its lowest.

Talk about abuse of power. Moscow Mitch, lapdog to Presidents Putin and Trump. Hey Senator Sasse, so much for your little speech.

•••• •••• ••••• •••• •••• 

On Thursday we saw the second and final debate between President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Remember, Trump chickened out of the second debate because it was going to be virtual and therefore more under the control of the moderator. Trump is a coward with absolutely no grasp of any issues and I thought of the possibility of punking him with a question about a fake study that supports one of his salacious claims, from a fake university in London. You know he would answer, citing fake statistics, claiming he read the study that doesn’t exist … No chance of doing it now, but damn, that would be funny.

NBC News reporter and
debate moderator Kristen Welker
(https://youtu.be/bPiofmZGb8o)

Anyway, the major take aways from the debate: moderator Kristen Welker was clearly the winner. She came out and introduced herself with such joy and humble gratitude to have the opportunity to moderate a presidential debate, she just won over a majority of her TV audience. Of course the Trump cult members were convinced by a week of anti-Welker rhetoric from Trump that the NBC news reporter and Weekend Today Show host was bought and paid for by Joe Biden, the DNC and George Soros. The beauty of Kristen Welker moderating a presidential debate is that she is there for every young brown and black girl to see, a woman who has worked hard at her profession and reached the pinnacle based on her talent and accomplishments. 

Welker controlled that debate with “poise, substance and authority,” according to the NBC news icon Andrea Mitchell and was a “consummate pro on a big and difficult stage,” according to CBS news icon Dan Rather.

She put both candidates in their places when they tried to get out of hand. One of the moments that stands out for me is when Biden wanted to reply to something Trump said and Welker told him he had 30 seconds and then she was going to ask him another question. Biden complied.

Officially, Welker’s day job is White House reporter for NBC News. 

The next big take away from the debate is this: Trump still has no plan for fighting COVID-19 and has no plans of forming a plan. He thinks we should just get to “herd immunity,” which means at least 220 million people getting infected and 3-5 million people dying from the disease. That’s his plan, as directed from his COVID-19 expert — who has absolutely no experience with infectious diseases — Dr. Scott Atlas, a California radiologist. Atlas told Fox News conspiracy theorist Brian Kilmeade, “When younger, healthier people get the disease, they don’t have a problem with the disease. I’m not sure why that’s so difficult for everyone to acknowledge.”

Maybe it’s hard for people to acknowledge because it is simply not true. People under the age of 65, young people with no discernible risk factors, are getting severely ill, some recovering with lifelong health complications as a result,  and with over 25,000 dying from the disease.

If only 5% of the 220 million infected under this herd immunity nonsense need hospitalization, that’s 11 million people. Hospital capacity in the U.S. could not handle such a load, on top of what they are already dealing with. The hospital system in at least 32 states are now at full capacity with COVID-19 patients. And Dr. Scott Atlas suggests we should add 11 million more.

Some people are born to be stupid. Some go to medical school and insist on being stupid anyway to spite their medical training.

In the debate Trump said we are learning to live with COVID-19. Biden replied, “We’re learning to die with [COVID-19].”

As was expected Trump lied his ass off, especially about the Rona. He said, “It will go away and as I say, we’re rounding the turn, we’re rounding the corner. It’s going away.” Apparently he hasn’t read the news lately. The coronavirus is surging in 32 states and is predicted to get much, much worse as it dovetails with the flu season. And of course he lied about the availability of a vaccine, claiming we would have one by the end of October. Every expert says the earliest we can expect a vaccine that will be available to the general public is summer, 2021. And that’s being extremely optimistic.

On the economy Trump claims we’re doing great, despite the roughly 25% of American workers being unemployed. Despite the high number of businesses that have closed permanently because of the coronavirus.  The famous question right now is, “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” The vast majority of Americans say no, they are not.

Trump’s campaign keeps telling us Trump will make things better as if the current occupant of the Oval Office is doing a shitty job.

The other big take away from the debate, which many other mainstream media outlets don’t include in their lists of major take aways: Trump lying about the family separation program which he claimed started under the Obama Administration. It didn’t. The Obama Administration built the family holding facilities, but they didn’t engage in a policy of taking the children away from people seeking asylum in the United States.

Recently reported in several major publications: 545 children are still separated from their parents and the Trump Administration cannot reunite them with their parents. As we knew for the past two years and was recently confirmed, through the media, the Trump Administration had no plans to reunite these families.

We well remember former Attorney General Jeff Sessions proudly standing at the beach in San Diego, close to the border with Mexico, announcing the administration’s Zero tolerance policy, April 6, 2018. They were actually engaged in the family separations before that date, but were doing it in secret. 

In 2018 the Justice Department’s inspector general’s report on the family separation revealed that the former attorney general said we had to take the children away from their parents as a deterrent to others seeking entry to the U.S. through the Southern border. Sessions was proud of the policy and Trump advisor Stephen Miller ranted that the policy wasn’t cruel enough to the Hispanic immigrants.

Former Vice President Joe Biden
(https://youtu.be/bPiofmZGb8o)

During the debate former Vice President Joe Biden called the policy “criminal.”

Fact checkers had a difficult time trying to keep up with Trump’s lying during the debate. One of those lies came when Trump claimed he did more for African Americans than any president other than Abraham Lincoln. He’s made that claim before and it’s so absurd on its face most people laugh it off.

So many lies connected to the pandemic, from lies about possible vaccines to lies about testing and contact tracing in the U.S. We do not have the best testing in the world. Per capita, we are at the bottom, which is why our nation, which makes up about 4% of the world population has 20% of the infections and COVID-19 deaths in the world.

The New York Times has a nice list of some of the lies told by Trump and a few false claims by Biden.

Trump continues to have his super spreader events he calls campaign rallies, with large number of people crammed into areas, many of them not wearing masks.

Most recently White House Chief-of-Staff Mark Meadows said the Trump Administration was not even going to try and control the coronavirus. As we have surges in 40 states (it’s expanded since I first began writing this), over 6.7 million cases in the U.S. and more than 225,000 COVID-19 deaths. We are recording 70,000 new COVID-19 infections per day — and it isn’t just because of testing. All three numbers continue to grow in what is now considered the worst spike of the disease. We haven’t even got deep into the worst of the flu season yet. Infectious disease experts predict we will have close to a half million COVID-19 deaths before the end of the year. A half million before the inauguration for sure.

Now we know that a large number of Vice President Pence’s inner circle have tested positive for the coronavirus and yet Pence is not in quarantine. The White House is taking few, if any, precautions and by their actions and words are encouraging dangerous behavior. 

This election has set records for early voting, despite the voter suppression tactics by GOP-controlled legislatures like in Texas. Senator John Cornyn is bracing for the possibility he will lose his re-election. He’s been in office since 2002. Many Texans want a change. Senate seats in Iowa, Arizona — two in Georgia — Lindsey Graham in South Carolina, Colorado, Susan Collins in Maine is on her way out, and Montana. The Big Sky Country is up for grabs and the popular Democratic Governor Steve Bullock could replace Steve Daines — who? Exactly.

There are 35 Republican Senate seats up for election/re-election on Tuesday. Many of them are considered “Solid Republican” or “Leaning Republican,” but this is a change election and some of those states, like Kentucky, which is still reeling from the Breonna Taylor murder and rigged investigation, could flip due to increased turnout due to social injustice. Moscow Mitch isn’t likely to lose his re-election, but wouldn’t it be nice?

I started writing this a week ago. updating and rewriting along the way to take in the quickly roiling events, like former President Barack Obama speaking in Philadelphia, PA. he slammed Trump a little and then asked the Pennsylvania voters to help, saying, “Man, it is good to be back in Pennsylvania. What beautiful weather we got here. Little Indian summer. I know the president spent some time in Erie last night, and apparently he complained about having to travel here. And then he cut the event short, poor guy. I don’t feel that way. I love coming to Pennsylvania.  You guys delivered for me twice. And I am back here tonight to ask you to deliver the White House for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.”

Obama talked about how Trump was using the presidency like a reality show and said, “But the thing is, this is not a reality show, this is reality. And the rest of us have had to live with the consequences of him proving himself incapable of taking the job seriously.”

It was a beautiful speech, more impassioned than we’ve ever heard Barack Obama, because he knows the stakes if Trump gets another four years, more Republican control of the U.S. Senate. CNN has the transcript of the speech right here.

If you go to the San Diego Zoo, you’ll have to wear a mask, keep social distancing and pass through this security phalanx (John Smith)

Obama has been speechifying around the country, but in Florida he mocked Trump’s complaining about the coverage COVID-19 is getting as it gets really bad around the nation. “What’s his closing argument? The people are too focused on COVID. He said this at one of his rallies, ‘COVID! COVID! COVID!’ He’s complaining, he’s jealous of COVID’s media coverage.”

Just over six days left to vote. My ballot is in and counted. California is going blue again. Trump and the GOP wrote off this state years ago. Trump did stop in Orange County for a fund raiser and short rally, but he would never come here just to whip up GOP voters. It’s a waste of time. If you haven’t done so yet, get out and vote like our lives depend on it. Quite literally, our lives do depend on it.

•••• •••• ••••• •••• ••••

SPORTS NOTE: The Green Bay Packers are 5-1 after their win over the Houston Texans and the Los Angeles Dodgers are just one win away from winning the World Series. If so it would be 32 years after their last World Series championship, and the second time to win it in the same year the Lakers won an NBA championship.

•••• •••• ••••• •••• ••••

2020 World Series MVP
Corey Seager (Claudia Gestro)

UPDATE: The Los Angeles Dodgers are now the 2020 World Series champions. Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager was named the series MVP.

Two big controversies from this World Series: (1) Why did Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash pull starting pitcher Blake Snell out of the game in the 6th inning, when Snell was having a great outing? He pitched 5.1 innings, giving up just two hits and one run; plus no walks and nine K’s. Nine strikeouts in less than six full innings. Blake Snell was locked in and winning the game, throwing just 73 pitches. Yet Cash pulled him and now the Dodgers are World Series champions once again — after 32 years.

Personally, I’m all for saber metrics. There’s no denying statistics and even the probabilities that one can extrapolate from those metrics. That’s why we saw what looked like very ridiculous shifts in the defense throughout the postseason. Nine times out of ten those shifts work. Of course that one time the metrics get it wrong can be devastating to a team. One good swing of the bat will change the momentum of the game, ignite the extra burners in the players watching their team start a rally. Then we think, “That stupid manager! What was he thinking!” He was thinking the shift would work like it did nine times before.

But the problem with saber metrics is this: front office people getting involved in the dug out decisions. You know, they hire a manager to manage the team. Why get involved in game time decisions? They hire the manager to make the tough decisions so let them manage! Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will tell you, after three trips to the World Series in four years, a manager makes those tough decisions and stands by them, win or lose. And it’s the manager who gets the blame and second guessing when things don’t work out, even if there is a general manager or front office boss sitting in the dugout making the decisions on who pinch hits and when to pull pitchers. Roberts knows how to take his lumps and now he gets to be a championship-winning manager. Good on you brother! He’s from Sunny Sandy Eggo by the way.

Dodgers Third Baseman
Justin Turner (Claudia Gestro)

The second controversy: In the 8th inning third baseman and series MVP candidate Justin Turner disappeared from the dug out and line up. He was replaced by the young Edwin Rios who did a credible job at third. After the game we found out Turner had tested positive for COVID-19 and was pulled away from the game. Then we found out he had tested positive on Monday, which was then called “inconclusive,” so he was tested again Tuesday. The result came back positive in the second inning, over an hour before Turner was pulled out of the line up. But after all of that Turner showed up on the field celebrating with his teammates, his mask off for the team picture. Outfielder Mookie Betts said, “He’s part of the team. We’re not excluding him from anything.”

Huh … over time we will know if Turner infected any of his teammates, front office people and their families by joining the unmasked crowd on the field. With the contact tracing going on now to try and find out how Turner was infected, we may find out who else has the bug. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said the league was taking all precautions to insure no one from either team leaves the Arlington, Texas bubble and infects the larger communities where they came from. Everyone in those dugouts and on that field, or even near the nets separating players from their families needs to quarantine for at least 10 days now that one player has tested positive.

Let’s hope Game 6 of the 2020 World Series doesn’t become a super spreader event. We are seeing enough of those already, from Trump’s super spreader rallies to the Lakers and Dodgers fans celebrating in the streets after winning their championships. COVID-19 is no joke, is not a hoax, and can lead to lifelong suffering and death.


About the author

Tim Forkes

Tim Forkes started as a writer on a small alternative college newspaper in Milwaukee called the Crazy Shepherd. Writing about entertainment issues, he had the opportunity to speak with many people in show business, from the very famous to the people struggling to find an audience. In 1992 Tim moved to San Diego, CA and pursued other interests, but remained a freelance writer. Upon arrival in Southern California he was struck by how the business of government and business was so intertwined, far more so than he had witnessed in Wisconsin. His interest in entertainment began to wane and the business of politics took its place. He had always been interested in politics, his mother had been a Democratic Party official in Milwaukee, WI, so he sat down to dinner with many of Wisconsin’s greatest political names of the 20th Century: William Proxmire and Clem Zablocki chief among them. As a Marine Corps veteran, Tim has a great interest in veteran affairs, primarily as they relate to the men and women serving and their families. As far as Tim is concerned, the military-industrial complex has enough support. How the men and women who serve are treated is reprehensible, while in the military and especially once they become veterans. Tim would like to help change that reality. Contact the author.
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