Saturday, May 30, 2020

As Rome Burns

Another Black man killed by Police, following another Black man killed by White Vigilante men who were doing what they do, kill black me or whatever as one was a former law enforcement officer so it is clear where he learned that skill. Ahmaud Arbery did not realize that was to be the last run of his life.  When does anyone think that?

It always begins with a 911 call where an aggrieved person/victim has been robbed and of course seen, suspected or believed that a large black man is behind the action that has prompted the call. With George Floyd it was no different and it ended no differently with Mr. Floyd dead.

I can't breathe is a phrase we here in this area have heard before, Eric Garner was selling singles cigarettes outside a bodega so they called 911.Bystanders filmed the arrest on their cellphones, recording Mr. Garner as he gasped “I can’t breathe,” and his death was one of several fatal The federal civil rights investigation dragged on for five years amid internal disputes in the Justice Department, under both President Barack Obama and President Trump.


In the end, Mr. Barr made the call not to seek a civil rights indictment against Officer Pantaleo, just before a deadline for filing some charges expired. (the same Bill Barr, yes that one)


His intervention settled the disagreement between prosecutors in the civil rights division, which has pushed for an indictment, and Brooklyn prosecutors, who never believed the department could win such a case. between black people and the police that catalyzed the national Black Lives Matter movement.

 Then came the incident in Ferguson, Missouri that began when Michael Brown allegedly stole some Cigarellos he was shot and killed on Aug. 9, 2014, by Darren Wilson, a white police officer, in Ferguson, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis. The shooting prompted protests that roiled the area for weeks. On Nov. 24, the St. Louis County prosecutor announced that a grand jury decided not to indict Mr. Wilson. The announcement set off another wave of protests. In March, the Justice Department called on Ferguson to overhaul its criminal justice system, declaring that the city had engaged in constitutional violation

 On April 12th, 2015, a 25-year-old black man from the west side of Baltimore  was arrested for possession of a “switchblade,” put inside a Baltimore Police Department (BPD) transport van, and then, 45 minutes later, was found unconscious and not breathing, his spinal cord nearly severed.  His name Freddie Gray.  Following a seven-day coma, Gray died on April 19th; his untimely death and citizen video of his arrest, which showed Gray screaming in pain, prompted both the peaceful protests and headline-grabbing riots. The subsequent two-week police investigation ultimately concluded that Gray’s injury happened sometime during the van’s route – over six stops, with two prisoner checks, and another passenger pick-up.   On May 1st, 2015, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby stood on the steps of Baltimore’s City Hall to announce criminal charges against six police officers, an unheard of demand for police accountability. But over the next two years, four trials would end in defeat for the prosecution, the remaining charges would be dropped, and many leaders in Baltimore would retire, quit, or be fired.

January 2015, the day began with a swap: one boy’s cellphone for another’s replica of a Colt pistol.
One of the boys went to play in a nearby park, striking poses with the lifelike, airsoft-style gun, which fired plastic pellets. He threw a snowball, settled down at a picnic table and flopped his head onto his arms in a perfect assertion of preteen ennui, a grainy security video shows. Because of multiple layers in Cleveland’s 911 system, crucial information from the initial call about “a guy in here with a pistol” was never relayed to the responding police officers, including the caller’s caveats that the gun was “probably fake” and that the wielder was “probably a juvenile.”


Seconds later, the boy lay dying from a police officer’s bullet. “Shots fired, male down,” one of the officers in the car called across his radio. “Black male, maybe 20, black revolver, black handgun by him. Send E.M.S. this way, and a roadblock.”


But the boy, Tamir Rice, was only 12. Now, with the county sheriff’s office reviewing the shooting, interviews and recently released video and police records show how a series of miscommunications, tactical errors and institutional failures by the Cleveland police cascaded into one irreversible mistake

July 2016, it took just 40 seconds for an ordinary traffic stop to turn deadly -- from a police officer saying, "Hello, sir," to him firing seven shots at a seated motorist.

But the police dashboard camera video released Tuesday adds a visceral element to what police witnesses had described -- unnerving even in the context of other police shootings and after a video taken by Philando Castile's passenger went viral.

It was July 6 when Officer Jeronimo Yanez killed Castile in Minnesota. It was shown in court during Yanez's trial. and hew  was acquitted  of one count of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of intentional discharge of firearm that endangers safety.

A scant two weeks later July 15 in another city in another state a woman was arrested after a traffic stop.  Her name was Sandra Bland.  She  died three days after her arrest at the Waller county jail. It was ruled a suicide after she was found hanging in her cell.  But Bland’s family have long remained suspicious of the circumstances, and the newly released camera footage prompted calls for a new investigation.

I recall my first realization that there was a problem in 2008, with Oscar Grant at Fruitvale Station. His story was made into a major motion picture but even 10 years later more questions few answers and little change. 

There was a valid attempt to count the number of deaths at the hands of police officers and that was 1,000 a year.  The data is here in the Washington Post nor the first riot in the streets but this time will be any different? Well that depends. 

In  2017,  and unlike the stories above, and the many I have not listed, this ending was different. Mohamed Noor, who is black, Somali and Muslim, became the first Minnesota police officer convicted of murder in an on-duty killing, when a jury found him guilty in the fatal shooting of Justine Ruszczyk, who was white.

Legal action against police officers involved in fatal shootings is exceedingly rare. 

But there have been others in the Minneapolis area and we the same results as Mr. Castillo:  In 2016, ,Mike Freeman, the Hennepin County prosecutor, chose not to charge officers in the shooting death of Jamar Clark, who was black, saying Mr. Clark had grabbed one officer’s holstered gun.  The year prior he did not charge the officers who pursued and shot at Thurman Blevins, killing him; Mr. Freeman said Mr. Blevins, who was also black, had a gun and did not follow the officers’ commands. In the killing of Travis Jordan this January, the prosecutor said the police officers had faced a deadly threat because Mr. Jordan, who was Hawaiian, had a knife and was coming toward them.

Since 2005, 101 nonfederal officers have been charged with murder or manslaughter in shootings while they were on duty, according to Philip Stinson, a criminologist at Bowling Green State University. About 36 percent of those officers have been convicted, but only four of them on murder charges; the others were for lesser offenses.

Yes race matters, depending on who is holding the gun.  I end this comment with this:


Mustafa Diriye, a community organizer working in Minneapolis, said he had advocated vigorously for justice for Ms. Ruszczyk, just as he had for black victims of police shootings. He was pleased with the verdict, he said. 
Yet he could not help but be bothered that the system had worked so well for a white woman when it had failed so many black people, he said. 
“‘I fear for my life’ — that’s what all white cops get away with,” said Mr. Diriye, who is originally from Somalia. “That only works for white officers. They can fear for their life. But if you are black, no, no you cannot be fearful.” 
Mr. Diriye said he felt that if white people would demand justice for black police-shooting victims the way they did for Ms. Ruszczyk, things could be different. 
“The hypocrisy is there,” he said. “That is my frustration.”







Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Justice Served

As much as I loathe the members of the Medical Industrial Complex I can only say that the members of the legal one are equally repugnant and once again are revered for reasons that I assume is that they spent a shit ton of money on a JD degree that entitled them to feel, well, entitled.

This is another story about another Judge who was an asshole. And every now and again they actually do get removed from the Bench.  I like my Justice served on the side.

Jersey judge who told woman to ‘close her legs’ to avoid sexual assault removed from bench

By Theresa Braine
New York Daily News |
May 27, 2020 | 2:01 PM

A New Jersey judge who told a woman to “close her legs” to avoid sexual assault has been canned.

It wasn’t just the individual actions of state Superior Court Judge John Russo Jr. that got him removed from the bench. It was the pattern those actions demonstrated, the New Jersey Supreme Court found.

“His overall behavior reflects a lack of probity and fitness to serve as a judge,” state Supreme Court Justice Stuart Rabner wrote in the decision, according to the Asbury Park Press. “And his conduct breached the public’s trust. In light of respondent’s serious and repeated acts of misconduct, we are compelled to direct that respondent be removed from office.”

Russo, 57, a former mayor of Toms River and son of a now-deceased state senator, was already under a three-month suspension over the incidents that led to his dismissal, which included things like throwing a file at a law clerk, the Asbury Park Press said.

But the most telling incident was regarding a woman attempting to obtain a restraining order, alleging that her 5-year-old daughter’s father had threatened to kill her, sexually assaulted her and promised to burn down her house, the Asbury Park Press reported.

Then the judge lobbed his question.

“Do you know how to stop somebody from having intercourse with you?” he asked, according to the Associated Press. “Close your legs? Call the police? Did you do any of those things?”

Afterward he joked about the exchange to staffers, saying that the woman, who happened to be a former exotic dancer, “would know how to fend off unwanted sexual” advances, reported NJ.com. The remarks were picked up by the mic and became part of the record against Russo.

He ended up dismissing the woman’s attempt to get the order, as well, saying she was not credible, the Asbury Park Press said.

The state Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct (ACJC) had already imposed the three-month suspension, reported NJ.com, but a separate three-judge panel recommended in January that Russo be removed entirely.

Also in the three-judge panel’s report was a matrimonial matter that Russo did not recuse himself from, even though he knew one of those involved, AP said.

Their report said his responses to the allegations overall “lacked candor, fabricated after-the-fact explanations for events, and displayed a lack of integrity that is unworthy of judicial office.”

Hedges their bets


As I am from Seattle I am aware of the conglomerate that is now Providence Hospital Systems.  The below article again demonstrates why I am not cheering, sending donations, or actually giving a shit about health care providers at this time.  My experience not withstanding has only once again been confirmed as it would be sorely misplaced empathy and I have none to spare.

Providence has been investigated by the DOJ, and earlier this year as a pandemic was already brewing in the Northwest, threatened to lock out Nurses, has a very conflicting venture interest in pathology labs which has we know is a major issue in testing in the current climate. Its Swedish Hospital is riddled with complaints and problems and the Attorney General eventually began an investigation.  And had a massive layoff of over 600 regarding money, gee what?

I could Google Cleveland Clinic and am pretty confident I would find similar tales of woe but then I have been to Cleveland and it sits pretty in a city struggling to make it work and this is what led to Nashville's rebirth, Med and Ed.  The same with Pittsburgh.  The ACA was very very good to hospitals.

I am not sure what more I can say but see, I told you so.  The images of workers lacking PPE and the stories of endless shortages of equipment relates to the poorly funded public hospitals, here in NYC, Warren Buffett paid for a private plane to acquire said masks.  It was Cedars that requested the gay bashing Good Samaritan tent to set up in a public park to handle overflow, but I suspect that was a diversion to take the uninsured and needy and keep their pristine halls clear and clean.  So what is the cheering about and the free meals for?

Wealthiest Hospitals Got Billions in Bailout for Struggling Health Providers

Twenty large chains received more than $5 billion in federal grants even while sitting on more than $100 billion in cash.

By Jesse Drucker, Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Sarah Kliff
The New York Times
May 25, 2020

A multibillion-dollar institution in the Seattle area invests in hedge funds, runs a pair of venture capital funds and works with elite private equity firms like the Carlyle Group.

But it is not just another deep-pocketed investor hunting for high returns. It is the Providence Health System, one of the country’s largest and richest hospital chains. It is sitting on nearly $12 billion in cash, which it invests, Wall Street-style, in a good year generating more than $1 billion in profits.

And this spring, Providence received at least $509 million in government funds, one of many wealthy beneficiaries of a federal program that is supposed to prevent health care providers from capsizing during the coronavirus pandemic.

With states restricting hospitals from performing elective surgery and other nonessential services, their revenue has shriveled. The Department of Health and Human Services has disbursed $72 billion in grants since April to hospitals and other health care providers through the bailout program, which was part of the CARES Act economic stimulus package. The department plans to eventually distribute more than $100 billion more.

So far, the riches are flowing in large part to hospitals that had already built up deep financial reserves to help them withstand an economic storm. Smaller, poorer hospitals are receiving tiny amounts of federal aid by comparison.

Twenty large recipients, including Providence, have received a total of more than $5 billion in recent weeks, according to an analysis of federal data by Good Jobs First, a research group. Those hospital chains were already sitting on more than $108 billion in cash, according to regulatory filings and the bond-rating firms S&P Global and Fitch. A Providence spokeswoman said the grants helped make up for losses from the coronavirus.

Those cash piles come from a mix of sources: no-strings-attached private donations, income from investments with hedge funds and private equity firms, and any profits from treating patients. Some chains, like Providence, also run their own venture-capital firms to invest their cash in cutting-edge start-ups. The investment portfolios often generate billions of dollars in annual profits, dwarfing what the hospitals earn from serving patients.

Many of these hospital groups, including Providence, are set up as nonprofits, which generally don’t have to pay federal taxes on their billions of dollars of income.

By contrast, hospitals that serve low-income patients often have only enough cash on hand to finance a few weeks of their operations.

After the CARES Act was passed in March, hospital industry lobbyists reached out to senior Health and Human Services officials to discuss how the money would be distributed.

Representatives of the American Hospital Association, a lobbying group for the country’s largest hospitals, communicated with Alex M. Azar II, the department secretary, and Eric Hargan, the deputy secretary overseeing the funds, said Tom Nickels, a lobbyist for the group. Chip Kahn, president of the Federation of American Hospitals, which lobbies on behalf of for-profit hospitals, said he, too, had frequent discussions with the agency.

The department then devised formulas to quickly dispense tens of billions of dollars to thousands of hospitals — and those formulas favored large, wealthy institutions.
ImageAfter the CARES Act passed, hospital industry lobbyists reached out to senior Health and Human Services officials, including Secretary Alex M. Azar II, to discuss how the money would be distributed.

One formula based allotments on how much money a hospital collected from Medicare last year. Another was based on a hospital’s revenue. While Health and Human Services also created separate pots of funding for rural hospitals and those hit especially hard by the coronavirus, the department did not take into account each hospital’s existing financial resources.

“This simple formula used the data we had on hand at that time to get relief funds to the largest number of health care facilities and providers as quickly as possible,” said Caitlin B. Oakley, a spokeswoman for the department. “While other approaches were considered, these would have taken much longer to implement.”

Hospitals that serve a greater proportion of wealthier, privately insured patients got twice as much relief as those focused on low-income patients with Medicaid or no coverage at all, according to a study this month by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“If you ever hear a hospital complaining they don’t have enough money, see if they have a venture fund,” said Niall Brennan, president of the nonprofit Health Care Cost Institute and a former senior Medicare official. “If you’ve got play money, you’re fine.”

In a letter this month to the Department of Health and Human Services, two House committee chairmen said the Trump administration appeared to be disregarding Congress’s intent in how it was distributing the aid.

“The level of funding appears to be completely disconnected from need,” wrote the two Democrats, Representatives Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey and Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts.

It is the latest instance in which enormous and hastily enacted federal bailout programs have benefited those who don’t appear to need the money. A package of $170 billion in federal tax breaks, for example, will go overwhelmingly to many of the country’s richest people and biggest companies. A program to rescue small businesses initially directed hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to publicly traded companies while many smaller firms were frozen out.

That pattern is repeating in the hospital rescue program.

For example, HCA Healthcare and Tenet Healthcare — publicly traded chains with billions of dollars in reserves and large credit lines from banks — together received more than $1.5 billion in federal funds.

An HCA spokesman said the aid didn’t cover the expected lost revenue and higher expenses caused by the coronavirus, while a Tenet spokeswoman said the pandemic had suppressed the company’s profits.

The Cleveland Clinic got $199 million. Last year it had so much money on hand — its $7 billion in cash helped generate $1.2 billion in investment profits — that it paid investment advisers $28 million to manage the fortune.

Angela Kiska, a Cleveland Clinic spokeswoman, said the federal grants had “helped to partially offset the significant losses in operating revenue due to Covid-19, while we continue to provide care to patients in our communities.” The Cleveland Clinic sent caregivers to hospitals in Detroit and New York as they were flooded with coronavirus patients, she added.

The St. Louis-based Ascension Health, which operates 150 hospitals nationwide, has received at least $211 million from Health and Human Services. The company, with $15.5 billion in cash, operates a venture capital fund and an investment advisory firm that helps other companies manage their money.

Even if Ascension stopped generating any revenue whatsoever — a doomsday scenario — it would have enough cash to fully operate for nearly eight months.

Nick Ragone, a spokesman for Ascension, said the federal funds “facilitated our ability to serve our communities during this unprecedented time.” He said Ascension had not furloughed or laid off any workers and wouldn’t do so for “as long as possible.”

Critics argue that hospitals with vast financial resources should not be getting federal funds. “If you accumulated $18 billion and you are a not-for-profit hospital system, what’s it for if other than a reserve for an emergency?” said Dr. Robert Berenson, a physician and a health policy analyst for the Urban Institute, a Washington research group.

Hospitals that serve poorer patients typically have thinner reserves to draw on.

Even before the coronavirus, roughly 400 hospitals in rural America were at risk of closing, said Alan Morgan, the chief executive of the National Rural Hospital Association. On average, the country’s 2,000 rural hospitals had enough cash to keep their doors open for 30 days.

Many hospitals that primarily serve low-income people have received federal grants that their executives say may not be enough to see them through the current crisis.

At St. Claire HealthCare, the largest rural hospital system in eastern Kentucky, the number of surgeries dropped 88 percent during the pandemic — depriving the hospital of a crucial revenue source. Looking to stanch the financial damage, it furloughed employees and canceled some vendor contracts. The $3 million the hospital received from the federal government in April will cover two weeks of payroll, said Donald H. Lloyd II, the health system’s chief executive.

“This is just a Band-Aid,” Mr. Lloyd said.

The Harris Health System, which operates two hospitals in Houston, treats mostly uninsured patients. In a good year, it has a 1 percent profit margin, said Dr. Esmaeil Porsa, its chief executive.

The system has lost about $43 million in patient revenue during the pandemic, Dr. Porsa said. So far, it has received about a quarter of that in federal grants. It is unclear how it will make up the shortfall.

“I know there are hospitals out there that have some God-awful amount of money in reserve,” Dr. Porsa said. “We are not that, and we will never be that. Whatever cash we have we’re going to pour into services.”

That is not how things work at the Providence Health System, which in some ways resembles a Silicon Valley powerhouse as much as a health care company. Providence owns 51 hospitals, including Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, and 1,100 clinics in California, Texas and others states.

Even with the federal grants, Providence lost $179 million in April, said Melissa Tizon, a company spokeswoman. She said the bailout money has helped the company avoid laying off staff or reducing their pay, although Providence has furloughed workers and told some staff to expect pay cuts beginning in July.

“Remember, the pandemic isn’t over,” Ms. Tizon said. “We need to be financially stable for the next possible wave.”

But Providence’s financial stability does not appear to be in jeopardy.

The hospital network has nearly $12 billion in cash reserves. It has invested that money in hedge funds, private equity firms and real estate ventures.

It also oversees two venture capital funds that manage about $300 million on behalf of the health care chain. The venture funds do deals alongside some of the country’s highest-profile investment firms, including Kleiner Perkins and Carlyle.

Last year, Providence’s portfolio of investments generated about $1.3 billion in profits, far exceeding the profits from its hospital operations. Like other nonprofits, Providence generally does not owe federal taxes on its earnings.

In 2018, Providence paid its chief executive, Dr. Rod Hochman, more than $10 million.

That would be enough to finance about a month of operations at the St. Claire hospitals in Kentucky.




The Collective

I feel we have become the Borg, a collective mind unit that is also much like the robots of Westworld, programmed to think and behave in a manner that is about preserving the status quo, pleasing the men who control the world and in turn follow our roles and parts to ensure preservation.  Sounds great.

Again my conversations are limited of late to a small microcosm of individuals within walking distance and despite my ability to walk great distances there is little dialog to be found when everyone is afraid.  Few read, few choose knowledge and few even ask questions as they fear being exposed as the idiot they are.  Funny I have never in my life thought anyone who asked questions was an idiot, in fact just the opposite. But then again this is now and now we are all experts on whatever we want to be experts on.

Today after a quick trip to a Whole Foods in Tribeca I was amazed at how there was not a single cleaning product or paper one on the shelves, but yes there was meat, chicken and tons of other food products, so much for shortages.  But again I find that here in Jersey City the same but I just wanted to ride the ferry and walk in the early fog for a change of pace.  There is only so much walking one can do looking at the same scenery day after day.

The news is of course bleak, stupid and useless but then buried in the headlines was Fauci declaring that a second wave is not inevitable. Funny yesterday I just saw a headline saying that a second bump was happening in States that had reopened. Sure since most of them had few cases to begin with, even less testing and now finally people are actually getting tested to be able to join the living it would be expected.   As for me I have steadfastly refused to test for a disease I have never had any symptoms of nor for antibodies as that would be well odd and it meant I was a carrier, how charming a thought.  Then again....

Today the dueling banjos of Cuomo and DiBlasio are playing the same song with oddly a different tune and Murphy the tres of the amigos is of course saying Jersey is the one state that will have the biggest second wave ever.  Pull out that dick there and brandish it about Murphy, show us what a man you are!

Meanwhile men need to prove their manhood by beating, killing and shooting people as that is how men do it.  The Cops in Minnesota decided to just kneel on the supine black man, George Floyd, as he suffocated to death.  (And again not a new or unfamiliar story here)  I saw that mode of death on Killing Eve, but Eve could not go through with it and the woman was Russian!  The same day was the infamous "Karen" story of the week where a woman calls the cops on a Black Man bird watcher.  The dude looked like Van Jones and just that hobby alone pretty much confirmed that he went to the Ivy League so this was not Bone Thugs and Harmony smoking a spliff in a wooded dense area.  And again if I stumbled on either I would wonder what world I had entered to find this.    It was broad daylight and she had a dog, run bitch run or not.  But I want to point out that a few months earlier a young woman had been killed by "thugs" in Morningside Park and they were minors who stabbed her death which led to much consternation here given that again it was young black males and the Central Park Jogger is a story that lives on in the great film, Then They See Us.

I am not sure how I would confuse an attractive bespectacled black man for "wilding youths" but okay and then if he is kindly asking me to leash my dog not shouting, "Hey whitey I'll cut a bitch" or whatever the youth are saying now, and offering a treat to my dog, at this point I would be right there trying to figure out if he was single.  Then likely I would be the one he would be calling the Cops on as I was not "socially distancing."  Its been a long quarantine.

I do think he was right to film her as well being a black man doing well anything is a red flag to be killed so he did the right thing.  But that was the end. No one was harmed nor any reason to continue this but nope it gets put on social media and "Karen" was outed.  She is clearly a troubled woman and I want to thank the media for endlessly covering crimes on young white women by black men and of course the endless police violence on the same does make one wonder what do you do anymore to resolve fear. Well try just getting the fuck out of there. This is personal responsibility folks pre-pandemic.

The end result is she now is unemployed, her dog has gone back to the rescue organization and what does any of this do.  She needs counseling and support and a job where she has no customer contact, her company could put on her on leave, get her the counseling she needs and in turn enable her to perhaps move to a less urban area where there are black people who she fears.  I hear Wyoming is nice.  Even the gentleman is regretting that it went that far, yes he should as well as that boomerang will come back in his direction and it will not be good.

Then later coming into my building the Concierge informed me that the second round of stimulus checks are coming and when would they be arriving? What? Uh no. Two of the workers have told him repeatedly that this is true and again this is not new here as another one told me that his friends had received "Trump Checks" even before the stimulus had been approved.  I again did the same thing, printed up the news stories from the Washington Post and the New York Times that discusses the second stimulus and the Republican position on that which is negative so where they are getting this shit is beyond me.  I am fucking sick and fucking tired of being the go to for people who simply refuse to hear truth.  The two workers walked out before I finished explaining this so I knew that they did not want to be shown up by a woman who actually knows something and that is why men sit in bushes and do more than watch birds.   Again, I get the fear but what that woman did was insane, falsifying a police report and the next time a sinister character is lurking in the park bushes the likelihood of someone coming in response drops.   Thanks "Karen."

And of course this all goes back to why having clear leadership, someone to explain facts, discuss fear in a productive way and enable people to be heard and try to reconcile the confusion that we face when a conflict, situation or individual confuses us in ways that do not allow us to respond in rational manners.  This pandemic is such a situation where people are so fucking confused they simply refuse to bother to learn facts, like the two workers here.  And today I read another historian who wrote a book on the 1918 Flu Pandemic and has two words about our Governments response:  Incomprehensibly incoherent 

That, I am afraid is a larger problem than Covid.




Carry? Sure

I have not regretted one day leaving Nashville, not one.  True I moved to the Hot Zone of the Covid virus literally months before and traveled during its nascent outbreaks right up until the day the States shut down, I truly feel fine in both health and sanity even during this pandemonium.

What I am is bored.  I am tired of looking like crap as I have no motivation to do otherwise, I have cleaned, re-arranged and re-designed my home. I have cleared my closets once again and spend some time reading and writing but far less than I used to as I am so bored I cannot concentrate.  I am a loner but I have always had random encounters that sustained me until the next so not having a coterie of family/friends that has again not been a problem as that is the norm not the exception.  But at this point entering month three even I am wondering what the end game is here? There seems none but some vague concept of a vaccine in the near, the distant, or some time in the future.  You know like all the rest of it when this first began and the endless bullshit that is supposed to inform us but does little more than inspire fear.

And that is where we are, afraid very afraid.  The Cops have gone back to business of killing black people and white people are back to calling cops on black people so we are almost back to normal. There are increased car thefts and Subway crimes are up back into those like the 70s! See everything old is new again.  Well that if you don't count the 35 plus million unemployed, the endless daily death counts and the never ending bullshit accompanied by your daily Amazon delivery, then no.

And while there are some issues regarding violence I again follow the motto of personal responsibility.  I don't venture out past curfew, which is 8 pm so there you go we are all seniors in the center waiting for our turn to die, I walk with no cell phone, no obvious money or any purpose other than to walk and yes I see some serious problems with the homeless among other non-compliant folks congregating but then as I am still mobile I move on. What other people do is not my business and I have no social media presence to concern myself with as that seems to be the great instigator in much of the drama.  And living in Nashville that was something that even I could not avoid. The folks of the South love drama like they love sugar in tea.   You saw a great deal of that in my last blog post about the issues regarding physical distancing while being socially less so. Boundaries are an issue there.   And so are guns.  In Nashville the preponderance of guns on the street, largely by young minors, have led to serious gun violence and crime.  The major amount of shootings are in the black community and often most guns are obtained via theft, from gun stores who seem to not know how to lock up a store with gates and shatterproof glass, to cars themselves.  Many car thefts and break ins start with a search for guns.  I had two rental vehicles broken into for that reason alone and I was not alone in that.

Nashville is busy trying to do its best to keep the "it" mantra despite that a week before Covid a Tornado damaged parts of the city that was the most gentrified and of course selling point to attract new business that many incentives seemed to do just fine.  But then came Covid and the major industry of hospitals and hospitality (irony in the root word there) were also decimated and in turn the industries already at risk and on the fence began to shut doors and permanently close their doors as the city meanwhile was continuing to build mega buildings to attract the rich, the not so rich and the new residents that they keep saying are coming with little evidence to support that.  Amazon and their "Operations for Excellence" another irony as we are finding, and the white shoe financial firm, Alliance Bernstein, was to move part of their operations there which was giving the city powers there ultimate wet dreams.  Not surprisingly that moved seems rather prescient and they are moving forward, as of course many business located in Manhattan will likely also do outsourcing at home; However,  there are already well established hubs for that in North Carolina and even Texas, both hardly hit by Covid and they are red and friendly to business without being this bad, this sad and this grim.  Nashville was already falling apart and Covid did little to help that in being solvent, so what more can you do to a city struggling? Arm the residents!

So when I read about this new legislation today making the rounds in Tennessee, I knew what this was, again this is about black people and another way to exterminate them as pests. What massive incarceration did not accomplish, what Covid did not do will now be another means in which to legally kill black people.  You have seen it before under stand your ground and we are seeing it again only now we add the whole videography of it as some type of home movie in which to do what with.  Oh look let's film then out the person and get them fired, shamed and humiliated or if not that maybe assaulted or killed.  It will be evidence to exonerate us and prove our innocence, their guilt right?   Facebook live should call itself Facebook Dead.

Something tells me in a state where Domestic Violence is fifth in the nation, where crime is largely committed with guns by faces of color upon faces of color and where individuals believe in a Code of Honor that somehow validates defending that usually with guns then this is not going to end well.  Have a shot someone will ask and then they will twice. Once with liquor the other with a gun.  Think Covid is a problem? The cities devastated by a Tornado a problem?  That economic meltdown is a problem? That health care, education and voting are all serious issues that go ignored are problems? Sure but having a gun is not apparently as it will solve all of them.


House committee passes permitless gun carry bill, despite governor saying it is no longer priority

Natalie Allison, Nashville Tennessean; May 26, 2020

A bill initially backed by Gov. Bill Lee to allow for the carrying of a handgun without a permit advanced in a House committee Tuesday, despite the governor earlier saying it was no longer a priority.

While House judiciary committee chairman Rep. Michael Curcio, R-Dickson, announced at the beginning of the meeting that they would not take up the governor's pair of criminal justice reform bills, the committee still proceeded with a permitless carry bill Lee announced in January, passing it four hours into the meeting.

Curcio said the decision not to vote on the criminal justice reform bills was made in consultation with Lee.

The governor in recent weeks said his pre-coronavirus legislative initiatives, including permitless carry and wide-ranging abortion restriction legislation, "are not the priorities" he now has for the legislature this year.

"My priority is going to be on the state's budget and making sure that we make the decisions that are going to best serve Tennesseans through this next particularly challenging economic period," Lee said in late April.

The legislation, House Bill 2817, would allow for both open and concealed carrying of handguns for people 21 and older, as well as for military members who are 18 to 20. House members spent hours debating the legislation in between hearing testimony from several speakers against it and one in support.

The bill would also increase the crime of theft of a firearm from a misdemeanor to a felony, as well as mandate a six-month incarceration sentence for the crime, up from the current 30-day requirement.

It passed 16-7 and will advance to the House finance committee. A single Republican, Rep. Martin Daniel of Knoxville, voted against the legislation. He told committee members he did so because his district is largely opposed to the measure and supports the current handgun permitting process.

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, has said he is uninterested in the Senate taking up legislation not directly related to the coronavirus pandemic, making necessary changes to the budget or other bills that are time-sensitive and can't wait until next session.
Police, prosecutors continue speaking out against permitless carry

Leading law enforcement officials and prosecutors around the state have been among those also speaking out about the legislation, which former Gov. Bill Haslam opposed when it previously was filed.

Bill Gibbons, president of the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission and former commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security under Haslam, provided testimony against the permitless carry portion of the bill, but in favor of enhanced penalties for gun crimes. Gibbons is also the former district attorney in Memphis.

"Over time, you're going to see, basically, our handgun permitting system totally undermined, and there won't be any reason for the vast majority of citizens to seek a permit or to renew a permit," Gibbons said.

He and House Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland, quibbled over what the estimated fiscal impact of the bill will be, though Gibbons noted that the legislation comes at a cost of more than $20 million.

A portion of that estimated cost, just under $3 million, is attributed to the projected loss of revenue from handgun permits, though Gibbons argued that only a 20% reduction in permits was an "optimistic projection" if the bill passes.

An updated fiscal note for the legislation is not available on the General Assembly's website.

Gibbons said the local crime commission voted unanimously to oppose that portion of the legislation.

Memphis Police Department Director Michael Rallings also spoke against the legislation, which he said "makes Memphis less safe and our police officers more vulnerable."

"I am not against guns," Rallings said. "I am against illegal guns and guns being used against kids and to harm and kill law-abiding citizens."

He noted the ongoing increase in violent crime in his city. Rallings asserted that the state should instead focus on continuing to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic, and if lawmakers are bent on passing the measure, push it to the next session to allow time for more work on the bill.

"More guns, I've never seen it equal less crime," he said.

Lamberth repeatedly defended the measure, arguing that it would not result in an increase in crime.

Rep. Micah Van Huss, R-Jonesborough, carried the bill.

"The state of Tennessee has infringed on my constitutional right by requiring a permit," Van Huss said of the the state's established permitting system.

Carol Frazier and Linda McFadyen-Ketchum from Moms Demand Action, a gun control lobbying group, also spoke against the bill, as well as Stryker Warren, a health care executive from Nashville. DJ Parten, the Southeast regional director for the National Association for Guns Rights, spoke in favor of it.

Last year, the legislature passed a bill allowing individuals to opt to take a much shorter online class to receive a basic permit, rather than an all-day in person course.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Going Somewhere?

That was once a literal inquiry if someone was planning to go on holiday, leave a room or just plain leave.  Now today it is the million dollar question as many of us sit in wait wondering what is next and what will happen when we finally get somewhere.

The reality is no one knows anything about anything and that includes the virus we have come to know as Covid.   That much is clear as many man hours and labor has been spent on when did it get here and how did we know it did and more importantly who brought it here.  In other words, the elusive Patient Zero which means a whole hell lot of nothing frankly as this is now and now what do we do?

Much is made of the decision to NOT shut the country down sooner, or how it was done and the reality of the disease and its travels Asia, to Europe, to America and elsewhere as it travails across the globe leaving a wake of decimation be it physical  or economical as at this point it is hard to grieve as the losses are so great in both.

The New York Times posted a 1000 names of the dead taken from the random of 100K and climbing since Covid hit the shores sometime in 2019 - 2020. Again who the fuck cares as they are still dead and still dying.   Normally I love a good obituary but this time I passed as this is beyond even my level of empathy and compassion, I am just too angry to be anything else.

Then we had the Memorial Day holiday which I believed would lead to chaos if the powers that be did not lessen the leash we have been on these near three months and it shows that some of the pups are not well trained as they flocked to public places and ran amok.  This did not surprise me; however, I was surprised how the tri-state area seemed quite contrite and complacent but that may have been due to weather as it was not clear until the afternoon and for many it is just exhausting to think about doing more than organizing once again the shopping, the laundry and the rest of daily life to add a day/weekend trip to go somewhere else only to do the same there. Remember no restaurants nor shops are open for regular traffic/business so is that not the point of getting away, to get away from the routine?

Now was I shocked that in Arkansas a pool party went amok? That in the Ozarks it was a crazy ass party of drunks?  That in South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida shit and crazy hit the fan? No.  Have you been there, no wait, lived there?  After living in Nashville and traveling in the region no I wasn't and again these are areas that have not been as heavily affected by the virus and they are sure this is all bullshit and somehow about Trump.  If you met the great unwashed as I have you would realize they are just not screaming hillbilly racists.. well that they are.. but they are just like any part of America that has been relegated to the discount heap pile.  They are sorted over, picked apart and neglected and that rage has to be released in ways that have led to mass shootings, opioid addiction, violence and of course Trump.  To think that is exclusive to the region, think again and check the story about the Staten Island Shop Rite shoppers abusing a patron for not wearing a mask or anything in Jersey with regards to the Orthodox sect.

Again the idea that in bleak times we look to leadership to define heroism and in turn guidance we have somehow latched onto Cuomo who for whatever reason thinks he is the Big Covid Daddy of us all, regaling us stories about his daughters, their boyfriends and his brother and mother as if we too are all one family fighting the virus together. No we are not and shut the fuck up.  I have written about the Three Stooges here before and once again want to highlight that as Cuomo feigns dismay over the dead he carefully placed in the budget an amendment  absolving legal responsibility for those in the medical industry (the same ones he sent many Covid patients back to to their ultimate deaths as well as infecting others) was due to the one factor that explains it all money.  

And as New York tries to figure it out the expression goes: As goes California there goes the nation. If that is so then guess what we are fucked. The States have these odd panels comprised of former Feds, Private Industry and of course Billionaires who will do what I have no clue but the idea that private industry can rescue America is another one of the many bullshit screeds that have been exposed behind the pandemic curtain.  Americans have been slowly eroding their faith in Government (and this has not changed) but have been stable with regards to the State and Municipal entities and we can say well hello to the flying monkeys on that as well.

No one, I repeat, no one has the Magic Crystal Ball in which to figure this out.  There can be all the speculating, posturing and of course my personal favorite, modeling on how and if and when and why if that is this then that could be this but if that x is not y then it becomes z and then all hell breaks loose.   I never want to see/hear/know about another model for anything, including homes, tops, bottoms, super or otherwise.   I love that if and or but somehow magically is able to predict and tell us what may, could of, might of and if or nor had this been done then, or maybe then or this time for sure.  Okay, thanks.

What we are seeing is fear and that is not measurable nor predictable.  We have people running amok here in two different directions.  One heading to the beach and beer ponging until Covid kills them or the ones running screaming that Covid is coming, Covid is coming in their best Paul Revere until that versus Covid makes them hoarse.  Either/or, Neither/Nor I am done with the daily digests of someone told me that I know of their friend on Facebook who told them about a BBQ with 13 families and they all work in a prison and then they all will go back to work at the prison and then more shit will hit the fan or not.  So do you know them and are they at your house? Did you go to the BBQ? To the prison? Do you live in the City? The State? Work with them or their family? No. Then why do you give a flying fuck? This is personal responsibility have some.

And that is why once again as we watch another Black person being killed as if it is okay to follow them, tape them and then wait and turn over the video to the Police but accept no responsibility as you watch men chase and gun him down sure what is the problem. Or the girl calling the Police as she was walking her dog off leash in an area where it is required and a man asked her to do so,  I see the sense of urgency.  Or the black man standing on the corner waiting for a bus is an issue as well the buses aren't coming as often so he is waiting longer than usual and therefore your fucking problem. Wow, just wow.  I don't give a flying fuck unless you come into my personal space and that is three feet, not even six and so when you are on the bus/train/rail don't but here is what I do, I MOVE.  Gosh that is not hard.  Well I can now call 1-844-WYT-FEAR and all will be solved.

No one knows shit so the prognosticating, the predicting, the forecasting is all for nothing or not as they get paid for their performance, like monkeys. Do they fly too?

No One Knows What’s Going to Happen
Stop asking pundits to predict the future after the coronavirus. It doesn’t exist.


The New York Times
Sunday Review
May 24, 2020

By Dr. Mark Lilla; Professor of humanities at Columbia.

The best prophet, Thomas Hobbes once wrote, is the best guesser. That would seem to be the last word on our capacity to predict the future: We can’t.

But it is a truth humans have never been able to accept. People facing immediate danger want to hear an authoritative voice they can draw assurance from; they want to be told what will occur, how they should prepare, and that all will be well. We are not well designed, it seems, to live in uncertainty. Rousseau exaggerated only slightly when he said that when things are truly important, we prefer to be wrong than to believe nothing at all.

The history of humanity is the history of impatience. Not only do we want knowledge of the future, we want it when we want it. The Book of Job condemns as prideful this desire for immediate attention. Speaking out of the whirlwind, God makes it clear that he is not a vending machine. He shows his face and reveals his plans when the time is ripe, not when the mood strikes us. We must learn to wait upon the Lord, the Bible tells us. Good luck with that, Job no doubt grumbled.

When the gods are silent, human beings take things into their own hands. In religions where the divine was thought to inscribe its messages in the natural world, specialists were taught to take auspices from the disposition of stars in the sky, from decks of cards, dice, a pile of sticks, a candle flame, a bowl of oily water, or the liver of some poor sheep. With these materials, battles could be planned, plagues predicted and bad marriages avoided.

In those places where the gods were thought to communicate verbally with humans, oracles and prophets were designated to provide answers on demand. The most highly revered oracles in the ancient Greek world were the high priestesses at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. When it came time to respond to a petitioner who had placed a question before her, the priestess would enter the inner sanctum and seat herself on a tripod erected over a crevice in the ground, out of which inebriating gases were thought to rise.

These fumes paralyzed her rational faculties and put her in a trance of receptivity that allowed the god Apollo to speak through her in cryptic remarks and riddles. These would be interpreted by a second figure, the prophet, who answered the grateful petitioner in poetry or prose. It was a very successful start-up and made Delphi a wealthy town.

Prophets today are less flamboyant. Former prime ministers do not, as a rule, sniff drugs before appearing on CNN. They sit meekly in the green room sipping mineral water before being called on to announce our fate. Augurs have given up on sheep livers and replaced them with big data and statistical modeling. The wonder is that we still cry out for their help, given that the future is full of surprises.

Professional forecasters know this about the future, which is why in the small print of their reports they lay out all the assumptions that went into the forecast and the degree of statistical confidence one might have in particular estimates, given the data and research methods used. But harried journalists and public officials don’t read or comprehend the footnotes, and with the public baying for information, they understandably pass on the most striking estimates just to get through the day.

Ancient augurs and prophets were in high-risk professions. When their predictions failed to materialize, many were executed by sovereigns or pulled apart by mobs. We see a

Take a banal example: snowstorms and school closings. A half century ago, when meteorological forecasting was less sophisticated, parents and children would not learn that classes were canceled until the storm began and it was announced on radio and television that very morning. We lived in harmless uncertainty, which for kids was thrilling. When snowflakes fell they even looked like manna from heaven.

Today, mayors and school superintendents, putting their faith in the meteorologists, routinely announce closings a day or more in advance. If the storm fails to arrive, though, they are sharply criticized by parents who lost a day of work or had to find day care. And if an unforeseen storm paralyzes the city, leaving streets unsalted and children stranded at school, the reaction is far worse. More than one mayor has lost a re-election bid because of failed prophecies, victim of our collective overconfidence in human foresight.

Our addiction to economic forecasting is far more consequential. Here the footnotes really do matter but politicians and the press encourage magical thinking.

The candidate declares, My plan will create 205,000 new jobs, raise the Dow 317 points and lower the price of gasoline 15 cents. Two years later, the gloating headline reads: The President’s Unkept Promises. Stagnant growth, a bear market and war in the Middle East make re-election unlikely.

Never mind that declining global demand slowed growth, that Wall Street is a drama queen and that a freakish tanker collision set off the war. A failed presidency is declared. And so the press and the public turn to fresher faces — who of course offer the same absurdly precise predictions. Not for nothing did Gore Vidal call us the United States of Amnesia.

The public square is thick today with augurs and prophets claiming to foresee the post-Covid world to come. I, myself, who find sundown something of a surprise every evening, have been pursued by foreign journalists asking what the pandemic will mean for the American presidential election, populism, the prospects of socialism, race relations, economic growth, higher education, New York City politics and more. And they seem awfully put out when I say I have no idea. You know your lines, just say them.

I understand their position. With daily life frozen, there are fewer newsworthy events to be reported on and debated. Yet columns must be written, and the 24/7 cable news machine must be fed. Only so much time can be spent on the day’s (hair-raising) news conferences or laying blame for decisions made in the past or sentimental stories on how people are coping. So journalists’ attention turns toward the future.

But the post-Covid future doesn’t exist. It will exist only after we have made it. Religious prophecy is rational, on the assumption that the future is in the gods’ hands, not ours. Believers can be confident that what the gods say through the oracles’ mouth or inscribe in offal will come to pass, independent of our actions. But if we don’t believe in such deities, we have no reason to ask what will happen to us. We should ask only what we want to happen, and how to make it happen, given the constraints of the moment.

Apart from the actual biology of the coronavirus — which we are only beginning to understand — nothing is predestined. How many people fall ill with it depends on how they behave, how we test them, how we treat them and how lucky we are in developing a vaccine.

The result of those decisions will then limit the choices about reopening that employers, mayors, university presidents and sports club owners are facing. Their decisions will then feed back into our own decisions, including whom we choose for president this November. And the results of that election will have the largest impact on what the next four years will hold.

The pandemic has brought home just how great a responsibility we bear toward the future, and also how inadequate our knowledge is for making wise decisions and anticipating consequences. Perhaps that is why our prophets and augurs can’t keep up with the demand for foresight.

At some level, people must be thinking that the more they learn about what is predetermined, the more control they will have. This is an illusion. Human beings want to feel that they are on a power walk into the future, when in fact we are always just tapping our canes on the pavement in the fog.

A dose of humility would do us good in the present moment. It might also help reconcile us to the radical uncertainty in which we are always living. Let us retire our prophets and augurs. And let us stop asking health specialists and public officials for confident projections they are in no position to make — and stop being disappointed when the ones we force out of them turn out to be wrong. (A shift from daily to weekly news conferences and reports would be a small step toward sobriety.)

It is bad enough living with a president who refuses to recognize reality. We worsen the situation by focusing our attention on litigating the past and demanding certainty about the future. We must accept what we are, in any case, condemned to do in life: tap and step, tap and step, tap and step ….

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Women Who Don't Work

I am enjoying Mrs. America on HULU right now as it covers the attempt by women's rights activists to get the ERA passed in the 70s.  Then they encountered a failed politician, Phyllis Schafly, who formed a PAC and using an army of housewives destroyed what may have prevented the #MeToo movement, the lack of equitable pay for workers and established family leave,  sexual and reproductive rights, child care and other issues now coming to an ugly head during the current Pandemonium.

Right now most women are filling the job as provider in the quarantine family home even when there is a partner there to assume some of the roles as cook, cleaner and teacher.  But fuck that, right men?!!!

The one thing the show does demonstrate that Ms. Schlafly (she would hate that moniker) was, was in fact a working woman.  She had domestic help, her husband was financially solvent to enable her to take the time away from the home, allowed her to attend law school and of course run the family business out of the home as she built her business of destroying equality for women.  And again let us remind ourselves that we are our worst enemy when it comes to seeking collaboration, cooperation and bridge building versus burning when it comes to climbing that proverbial ladder to "equality." It exists across gender, race and yes even political lines.  Once you grab that rung you will do whatever it takes to hold on and kick or stomp on anyone's hand rather than lend a helping one to bring them up to join you.  That is the American Way!

For a long while I used to believe that do unto others and then I sorta kinda didn't.  It comes from a Christian Ethos and after living in Nashville I thought that concept spread across the secular and non-secular lines and then I met the people who lived there.  Not one but many over my time there taught me that fuck you and fuck you again if you try to do the right thing when you are not a member of the tribe.  Again that tribe is be with your own kind and that is one fucking small tribe of one then. And so it set me on my current course which has been trying to explain to people that no, we are not in this together and yes we are alone when it comes to managing our own health, our wealth and all the rest during the pandemonium.  I had that discussion yesterday when the word afraid came up and I asked what he was afraid of.  And that was the virus.  Irony his partner had the virus, he contracted in a trip to China and was a nurse and immediately took the right precautions to protect his family and his employees from contracting the virus. The joke is I bet this very same person has it and has now the anti-bodies and had no idea he was a carrier.  But again until you test for both the virus and in turn the antibody you will never know if you are Covid "free." And that means a whole lot of nothing as we are nowhere near knowing if those tests are 100% accurate in either regard.  But hey it is better than nothing and companies across the globe are working towards finding ways to open their business  and keep both employees and customers safe. Some will never re-open.

But for now the reality is that if you are symptomatic regardless of any symptom even just one, get tested and then wait unit the results to resume work, joining the public and in turn practicing safe not-sex (well that always must be practiced) but all the other protocols established regardless, until a vaccine is created.

As for returning to work well that is not a light switch and viola you are back in the old job you had pre-pandemonium.  Banks, Insurance Agents, Hotels, Schools, pick one, name one, are not going to call you all back in and you are back behind the counter, at your desk, in an office, doing whatever you used to do.  As I fight with Wells over their lack of an open branch in Jersey City, they have had more than ample time to build screens, hire security guard to monitor crowd flow, isolate and set policies in motion to protect both staff and customers. NO you cannot get Covid from paper so now that has been declared we can handle money.    So I suspect branches will close, those employees from tellers to managers to other customer service agents, almost all women,  almost all faces of color will be joining the 30 plus million who will be long term unemployed.

This is my third major recession, the one in the 80s when I graduated college, the one in 2008 and now this.  I have been independent once my family hammered into me the idea of a fall back job and saving money, not owning anything unless I pay cash for it was a lesson well learned. Until the attempted murder of me in 2012 I was fine but the ultimate destruction it took on my health and savings I would have been fine.  That said I owe 10K in loans for my teeth and when Vanderbilt claimed I still owed them a 1,000 I laughed and said I will pay you $10 a month for a 100 months. They agreed and I laughed as that is now over eight years to do so. This is how idiotic this system is with regards to medical debt.  My credit card will expire in three so I look forward to that next contact when it happens.  But my intent is to actually pay it off much sooner as frankly just fucking with Vanderbilt was the only thing that mattered and that again it proved how desperate they are too to resolve medical debt.  This will on their end get worse post Covid.

We have the men issue that led to the charge of Trump, that men after 2008 were hired back into jobs that were paid less and in turn also contributed to the Opioid problems among others and it is laughable as that is the same cohort that uses the mantra, "up by your bootstraps" to prove your worth and then those straps break.  Whoops!  So again rather than look extrinsically to the system that contributed to it and of course demand change, strike, take to the streets, vote and actually demand change they turned to a fuckwit reality TV show host to do what he does best, sow chaos and let other people do the heavy lifting.  How is all that winning working out for you? And yes women you voted for the pussy grabber so how is that pussy?

If we are to change anything we need to change how we see ourselves and more importantly how we see each other.  We have to accept differences in behaviors and learn to accommodate those in ways that will enable us to see past the obvious - gender, race, sexuality and culture.  To say Europeans do it better is perhaps somewhat true but they too suffer from the very thing that makes them European, culture.  That is why you are seeing a resurgence to the right in many counties, such as Austria and England as evident by BREXIT. The idea that there is one Europe is crazy as unless you have been there you don't realize there are characteristics and qualities that make them well Swiss, German, Italian and French and so on.  It is fabulous, fascinating and complex all at the same time.  But you do see a better sense of identity when the shit hits the fan unlike here. We suck and until I lived in the South I did not get that idea of identity, tribalism and nativism.  The South sucks but whatever again my basis of this is the whole racism tied to religion so take that for what it is worth.  I did meet many kind people and great people but I did not tie that to the South I thought it was despite it not because of it. But we do the same with age, race, gender, sexual identity, political beliefs, cultural ones as well. We love the idea of Chinatown, of a Bodega and Hispanic area to go shopping, to taste and feel the flavors, as long as they stay there.  Good to know and I will never forget that is was a Black Woman in Nashville who asked me where I lived and when I told her South Nashville her response: "With all those brown people?" And mine: "Did they not say that about you once?"  And that was the marker for most of my conversations in Nashville, glad to be gone.

As for coming out of this once again minorities and women will get the shaft  And especially ones over 55, we are thought of as less, not worthy and too close to getting that Social Security and Medicare which is what it really is about. It is not about we are not thinkers, doers or creators it is petty jealousy that we are this close to free shit. And that is what fuels the racial divide that concept of getting free/low cost housing, affirmative action that enables some to get into schools over there less qualified but whiter cohorts, but did we not learn anything from the Varsity Blue scandal? It is about access and availability, money and name recognition.  Again, not knowing the Obama children, but get real they could spell cat with a K and get into an Ivy League school, that is the way it is.  Fly or buy as let's face George W was not  smart in any sense of the word, so again do you think he would handle this better. Think again.

Without an older more sophisticated workforce we will face a much more significant problem in getting back to business.   I think listening to my younger idiots when they say they are "afraid" that is the tip that they are fucking clueless.  We need to remind ourselves we are on the verge of electing another 70 plus white man, could Warren a woman and his age be worse?  She seems sharper and way more hip without a replacement, and that she lost her brother to Covid is an important marker. That said I also think Kamala Harris would be a brutal AG, and after Barr we need a sharp legal mind to untangle all that he did to establish such Executive Power.  Women, we can regardless of age or color, rule the world.  That is what really frightens you.  Watch Mrs. America and see what could have had a bunch of angry white women who were what? Afraid, and in turn stop women from doing what would have benefitted them all.

Women 55 and older who lose their jobs in the pandemic face greater risk of long-term unemployment

By Michelle Singletary
Columnist the Washington Post
May 22, 2020

The pandemic has pushed millions of people out of their jobs. One demographic that has been especially hard hit is women 55 and older.

Sarah Borenstein left teaching at 55 to start a second career in information technology. And she was doing well. The Denver resident was working from her home as a contractor for an engineering firm.

Then the novel coronavirus started spreading. Borenstein’s employer designated her an essential employee and assured her everything would be fine.

Then it wasn’t.

Her employer let her go. Now Borenstein, 58, is living off unemployment. With her teacher’s pension, she’ll be okay — but the loss of income disrupted her plans for a more secure retirement.

“I can live off my pension, but I won’t have a lot of extras,” she said. “The longer I’m out of work, the harder it will be to get back in the job market.”

The United States lost 20.5 million jobs in April, the highest monthly job loss on record. The unemployment rate for both young and older workers jumped to double digits. For women over 55, the unemployment rate increased to 15.5 percent in April, up from 3.3 percent a month earlier, according to the AARP Public Policy Institute. “The numbers were really devastating,” said Susan Weinstock, AARP’s vice president for financial resilience programming.

There’s a trifecta effect for older unemployed women, Weinstock said. They face age discrimination, are likely to be unemployed longer in downturns and — when they do finally land a job — they often have to take a significant pay cut.

When personal and job characteristics are held constant, jobless women are 18 percent less likely to find new work at age 50 to 61 than at age 25 to 34. At 62 or older, they are 50 percent less likely to be rehired, according to research by the Urban Institute.

With job opportunities and income reduced, the unemployed often tap their retirement funds if they have them — leaving less to live on when they decide to retire or are forced to stop working because of health issues. Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (Cares) Act, workers younger than 59½ can take coronavirus-related distributions up to $100,000 without incurring the typical 10 percent early-withdrawal penalty.

“If they’re having financial trouble, that’s a great safety net,” Weinstock said. “But if you’re an older worker, you have a lot less time to make that up than you do if you’re a younger worker.”

By the way, Weinstock pointed out, if you’re looking for work, AARP has a Job Board at jobs.aarp.org. Right now, the Small Business Administration is looking to hire loan specialists to process applications for the Paycheck Protection Program, created under the Cares Act to help businesses keep their workers employed during the pandemic.

Elizabeth White knows what it’s like to be 55 and unemployed. During the Great Recession, she lost lucrative consulting contracts that put her “solidly in the six figures.” She thought her experience working for the World Bank and advanced degrees from Johns Hopkins and Harvard universities would help her quickly find new employment.

She was wrong.

And to make matters worse, White had previously depleted her savings trying to run a retail business, which ultimately failed.

Now 66, White has gained tremendous perspective that can help other older workers trying to make ends meet during the pandemic. She wrote about her experience of having the “bottom fall out with no ladder to climb back up.” Her book, “55, Underemployed and Faking Normal,” is this month’s Color of Money book selection.

One of the first actions White recommends is forming a “resilience circle,” which is a small network of people with whom you can discuss honestly the challenges of living on a limited income because of a job loss. She talks about how important it is to downsize quickly. And she cautions that if you were a high earner with an impressive job title, “get off your throne,” meaning you may have to settle for work that you wouldn’t normally take.

“We’re going to have to let go of this notion that our values and worth are based solely on our titles, incomes, and jobs,” she writes. “We’re going to have to let go of our vanity and pride.”

White wrote the book before the pandemic hit, but the advice for older workers is timeless. She’s writing as a comrade in the struggle. It’s not a story of “doom and gloom” but of encouragement for older workers trying to make a living in a new normal.

I am hosting an online discussion about the “55, Underemployed and Faking Normal” at noon Eastern time on June 4 at washingtonpost.com/discussions. My guests will be White and AARP’s Weinstock. They will join me to take your questions about older workers dealing with unemployment during the covid-19 pandemic.

















Friday, May 22, 2020

Once in a Lifetime?

This pandemic is but the fall back on this is not.  I am not Okay are You? should be the next phrase Melania Trump put on the back of her next coat to wear as she escapes from her prison.  Funny Michelle Obama was told that it was much like one but a nice one when she became First Lady and undoubtedly that statement has taken on a whole new meaning.

The Daddies have given us a hall pass with the holiday weekend, expect that next week the scolding will begin anew as we have somehow failed to do good and we must go back on probation until the next phase of reward begins. They do this with dog training and clearly Westminster is taking notes for next years show.

I have decided to dedicate my time to write more and read more. I have failed on both counts. I have written two essays about what it is like to live in this time of Covid, one analogy to being punished as a child and another at being in attendance to the longest baseball game of one's life.  Both I submitted to contests and journals and my query letter was basically, hey I am in lockdown and we are in quarantine you may like it or not as that is yours to decide.  Honestly anyone who has done the routine of submit, write the requisite pleading query letter, wait, hear nothing and do it all over again knows that even with rejection you get not one clear critique or comment that would enable you to know how close to the mark you are or not. In other words, its like this bullshit we are experiencing now, the endless lather, rinse, repeat. The daily reading of numbers continues to demonstrate that all this social distancing, economic destruction, quarantining, isolation, waiting and wondering what is enough is anything ever enough to finally hear what we need to hear but never do is what writers go through on a constant basis.  Its exhausting, mind numbing and utterly useless.  If you cannot actually get solid feedback, honest truths and advice on what to do to make your writing work or even if you should write we will continue to just wait and wait and wait some more for the one day some invisible Editor, Agent, Publisher will throw you a bone.  And even then that bone is very picked over and with little meat left.  Its a great gig clearly.  Which gig I am not sure.

This is how we roll in America we think that this makes us stronger, better, brighter. We are sure that it meets the myth that defines the American ethic of up by the boot straps, work hard, play by the rules and do the right thing and all things will work. That is the fundamental principle of Meritocracy and that is the biggest load of shit ever shoveled in the history of American shit throwing.

I came of age in a major recession and launch of the go go 80s that I believe led to the subsequent crisis today.  The Voodoo President Reagan is so much like what I experienced, from the cuts to Government funding, the denigration of minorities with Welfare Queen, the political scandals and lastly the AIDS crisis is as if I am in a continual loop of a movie that I hated the first time and now for some reason cannot get out of the theater.

This week I read the below article in the New York Times, discussing how this pandemic and the economic meltdown which resulted from the chaos, lack of information, messaging and preparedness enabled a bunch of random white male Governors and a couple of women thrown in the mix who basically followed the cues in the dueling East Coast versus West Coast with flyover country trying to get their voices heard to show they too matter is perhaps the most distressing of it. From the DeWine fucker in Ohio, to the poor Governor of Michigan, to Texas and lastly the idiot in Florida and Georgia to show that the South is in this too.   I wondered is there any adult in the room other than Fauci?  He is like the little Igor to President Frankenstein who is sure if he is scary enough the Doctor will respect him. Well that clearly did not work.

An election is coming up and we have another doddering fool of a white man running on the back of a black man, not the first time but then again with white men they never change their agenda as they always do it on the backs of anyone who they can climb over to get to the top of the rung. I tried not to think of the mistakes I made in my life as I came of age in the 80s after finishing college and wanting to go to law school I found a job working in the King County Prosecutors office as a clerk. I learned right there that the justice system was a load of bullshit and folded that dream into the tent and never unpacked it again.  I have no regrets at all.  Coming back into that fold briefly in 2012 as a victim of it confirmed what I knew then, that white men run it, they bestow a modicum of power to black men who then go all Clarence Thomas on that to show they earned that and the women either fuck tother women over or the men to keep their jobs.  Face it that is what it is everywhere.

I worked in largely temporary office jobs, a Kelly Girl, for years and traveled as that was by far more interesting and educational than any college class I ever sat in. Well not true, as a Sociology and English major there were many courses I loved and look upon with great joy and appreciation but they were few and far in between. College in another predatory breeding ground of white male privilege with the same bullshit I saw in the King County Courts.  Education and Justice are institutions and they want to stay that way. And no wonder I loved being a Substitute Teacher more than one full time, it was ingrained from my early professional years. That system is as racist and classist as one can get but it pretends not.  But now that curtain is finally realized as one threadbare.

And this  brings me to the last industrial complex, medicine. We have now seen that curtain pulled back and the ugly truth of OZ that it is not some grand King but a sad hot mess of Doctors and Nurses who have spent their lives thinking they were in a noble profession only to be brought down to reality when a pandemic hit and then they had to beg for money, food and applause all while crying, "I didn't sign up for this!" Yes, yes you did. The Starbucks Barista, the Grocery Clerk, the Fed Ex dude no, no they did not.  So shut the fuck up and wipe that tear.

Truths are hard and ignorance even more so and that is what we have now, an immense amount of Americans utterly afraid, paralyzed with fear and with little or know foundation, aka intelligence. on which to ask questions, ask them again and again until they get a truthful answer. It is like the writing submission process where you blindly go in and never come out with an single response. Is there a point?  I guess if they don't want it you suck so go away. Well again don't even those who suck deserve to be told that.  Oh in the Education complex they do that, in the Justice one they do so as well and of course in Medicine that is a given. It goes by race, age, gender or any other visible methodology that makes it easy in which to do so.  Sexuality is added later when it can be and they certainly have tried as here in New Jersey an Assemblywoman wanted that info on the testing criteria. Really bitch you need one more factor to the already complex polynomial that is Covid?

When I read the article about today's graduates it was during one of my marathon walks I saw a young girl and her mother taking pics against the skyline of New York in the background and while still remaining physically distant I did stop, however, and was not socially when I congratulated her. And I told her one lie and two truths - that life is like that river water and that with it comes the good and it flows out and then the bad flows in. Right now we are in a bad flow and it will leave and in its place comes the good.  And in turn this is the worst of it and yet for you the best of it, choose which one matters and let that be your guide to navigate the water.  The truth is that I want to believe but I am not sure anymore what or who to believe. But I know now that I had no mentors, no history or family that knew how to navigate and they were working class but I never felt as if I fit and perhaps even when I entered Education it was a last resort but it also was the gig my Mother said to fall back upon and that was what it was and is. I loath politics and again a Pink Collar profession is no less politic than a white collar one, just the rules are different.

And as a truth teller and seeker of the same I ended up fucking lucky.  That is all it has been and I have never believed otherwise.  I liked working retail when I was allowed to simply just make money. I liked Teaching when I could simply teach kids.  I loved renovating houses but it was all with men and that was the catch and I did not have a mitt.  If I could do it all over I wouldn't as all of it made me a hell of a broad and that I am grateful. But I have paid an immense price for that as I have no family, no significant other and apparently that is not all that uncommon for my lot who was the class of 1981.  I certainly did not follow any conventional yellow brick road to OZ and while I tried the tennis shoe, bow wearing suits of the Women Who Worked, when I worked in a bank, that was ahead of the curve, People's Bank when it folded its doors after I soon left. Not one person I worked there with, well one, had any type of knowledge, intelligence and dignity so they treated their employees and co-workers the same.  I worked for two women, Janelle Keating and Wanda Judd. Wanda was just like the name one imagines and I liked her and respected her and I suspect she and I were cut much from the same cloth.  Janelle was a slut who fucked her bosses and had a husband already employed there so I suspect it was how she got her job in the first place and which she was unqualified for.   I can remember a few of the others and they are faces and names long forgotten but I am sure they found what they were looking for - just recognition.  I think that is all we look for in work, as respect is not coming your way.

Work is for fools and horses my Mother used to say and we have a lot of both standing in the field.  I am not sure this is something that we will come out of in the same way we did in the 80s. It is going back in time and with that I hope the 70s follow as that was the great awakening and reality of that protest, organization, shock, horror and dance all came together after the endless killings of men who tried to make a difference and perhaps that is why men now are so afraid and want to keep people oppressed and afraid, that way then they won't get shot.  What.the.fuck.ever. Cowards.  Funny no women were ever murdered, well after the Salem Witch Trials who is going to do that again, black magic and all that! No thanks!

But today we should be asking ourselves how did we get here and why are we letting the days go by without demanding the answers from those who claim to have them. Fuck them and find someone who does.





Facing Adulthood With an Economic Disaster’s Lasting Scars


By Eduardo Porter and David Yaffe-Bellany
The New York Times
Published May 19, 2020


Matthew Henderson couldn’t be entering the job market at a worse time. As a senior at Loyola University, he spent the spring semester interning as a trade policy analyst at the British Consulate in Chicago. But his chances of turning that opportunity into a permanent job after graduation ran headlong into the coronavirus pandemic.

Now Mr. Henderson is at home with his family in South Bend, Ind., unemployed and considering jobs at Costco and Target to help pay off $24,000 in student loans. “I’m in this bubble of anxiety,” said Mr. Henderson, who just turned 21. “I have to pay these, but I have no money to pay them.”

Saddled with debt, and entering a job market devastated by the pandemic, he and millions of his contemporaries face an exceptionally dicey future.

Young adults, especially those without a college degree, are particularly vulnerable in recessions. They are new to the job market — with scant on-the-job experience and little or no seniority to protect them from layoffs. A large body of research — along with the experience of those who came of age in the last recession — shows that young people trying to start their careers during an economic crisis are at a lasting disadvantage. Their wages, opportunities and confidence in the workplace may never fully recover.

And in the worst downturn in generations — one with no bottom in sight — the pattern is beginning to play out with a vengeance. From March to April, employment dropped by a quarter for workers 20 to 24 years old, and 16 percent for those 20 to 29. That compares with about 12 percent of workers in their 50s.

In an article for Lawfare, a blog about law and national security, the historian David Kennedy and the retired general Karl Eikenberry likened the current crisis to wartime, when elders send the young to fight and die. “It is the young — indebted students and struggling mortgagors, parents supporting families paycheck to paycheck, precarious recent graduates and anxious first-time job seekers — whose lives will be most deeply scarred,” they wrote.

For some younger workers, this is the second blow in barely a decade. An analysis by the McKinsey Global Institute noted that “the generation that first entered the job market in the aftermath of the Great Recession is now going through its second ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ downturn.”

Molly Zerjal, a 32-year-old in St. Louis, lost a communications job at Wells Fargo during the last downturn. Now, Ms. Zerjal works in marketing at a different financial firm, and she’s afraid it could happen again.

“I’m not an essential worker: marketing and communications is a ‘nice to have,’” she said. “Every day, I’m like, ‘Oh, God, what could happen today?’ It’s like P.T.S.D.”

The question is what kind of scars this will leave in the hearts, minds and pockets of younger people.

Jordan Haggard, 33, graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2009 in the depths of the recession. The job market was dire: When she applied for a job at McDonald’s, she never heard back.

Ten years later, Ms. Haggard works as an office manager for a small publishing company in Seattle. She has kept her job during the pandemic, even as some colleagues have been furloughed. But she still feels the effects of 2009.

“I know I will never be able to afford a home in Seattle or even live by myself without a roommate or two,” Ms. Haggard said. “Life is different from the one I was told about or imagined.”

Indeed, Jesse Rothstein of the University of California, Berkeley, followed college graduates who entered the labor market after the 2008 financial crisis. By 2018, those who had landed jobs in 2010 and 2011 had a lower employment rate than people at the same age who graduated before the recession hit, and those working earned less.

The effects are likely to persist. Lisa B. Kahn, an economics professor at the University of Rochester, tracked young white men who graduated from college from 1979 to 1988, a period that included the double-dip recession of the early 1980s. Over the next two decades, she found, they got stuck in low-quality, low-pay jobs. Even after the economy recovered, they had a hard time moving into better jobs.

The causes seem varied. Recession graduates, with limited opportunities, will start in jobs that are a worse fit. Once the economy recovers, they will compete for jobs with people who have more experience. In addition, Ms. Kahn noted, recession graduates seem more risk averse. “People that graduate into a recession don’t change jobs as often as people that graduate into booms,” she noted. And these job changes are one of the best ways to get a raise.

The difficult start shadowed many through their careers. Till von Wachter of the University of California, Los Angeles, and Hannes Schwandt of Northwestern University followed Americans who entered the labor market in 1981 and 1982, during the largest postwar recession up to that time.

They not only earned less in midlife. They were also less likely to be married or to have children, and more likely to die young, recording higher mortality rates starting in their 30s — driven by heart disease, lung cancer, liver failure and drug overdoses — what two Princeton scholars, Anne Case and Angus Deaton, have called “deaths of despair.”

And, of course, young workers without a college degree are likely to fare even worse. “Recessions, in general, widen inequality,” Ms. Kahn said. “The more disadvantaged groups — minorities, the young, those with less education — are the hardest hit.”

In the coronavirus pandemic, the lopsided impact of business shutdowns on the young risks opening a generation gap with their elders who are more likely to die of the disease.

The diverging interests could affect policy as soon as this summer. In a research paper published last month, Dirk Krueger of the University of Pennsylvania and three colleagues estimated that people past retirement age would choose to close a much larger share of nonessential businesses and keep them closed, while younger workers in those shuttered businesses have the most to lose. “The conflict between the old and the young is severe,” Mr. Krueger noted.

The asymmetric aftershocks of this pandemic are likely to ripple across society far into the future.

“You work for years, you go through school, and you get to this point where you’re preparing to get a job,” she said. “And now I can’t do that. It’s very frustrating.”

“It’s not something I feel like any of my professors, my parents or really anybody has any knowledge about,” she added. “They never had to deal with it.”

Ms. Meier’s parents finished college in 1988, married and settled into fairly stable careers and a comfortable middle-class life. Her father attended graduate school and then got a job as a software analyst for Overland Park, Kan. Her mother got a series of accounting jobs. She was laid off in the last recession, but found another position soon after.

“There’s a big difference between finding a third or fourth full-time job and finding your first job,” Ms. Meier said.

It would be unsurprising if this economic upheaval changed the young’s perception of the world, justice and the role of government.

Ms. Haggard, the office manager who graduated in 2009, was a Republican in college. She voted for John McCain in the 2008 presidential election. But the recession changed her worldview. Now, she’s far more liberal, and she voted for Bernie Sanders in this year’s Democratic primary in Washington.

“A big Republican thing is, ‘Pick yourself up by the bootstraps,’” she said. “Well, we don’t live in a world where that’s possible, at least in America.”

Paola Giuliano, a U.C.L.A. economist, and Antonio Spilimbergo of the International Monetary Fund studied how economic setbacks affect personal ideology.

Looking at data from the General Social Survey from 1972 through 2010, they concluded that people who experience a recession in what social psychologists call the “impressionable years,” roughly 18 to 25, were more likely to believe that success in life depends less on effort than on luck, support redistributive politics to help the less fortunate and mitigate inequality, and vote more often for left-wing parties.

Among those directly hit — young workers who have lost their jobs — the ideological shift could be even stronger. “This, in principle, should create a divide between generations,” Ms. Giuliano said.

Alicia Munnell and Wenliang Hou of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College have documented how millennials, born from 1981 to 1999, hit particularly hard by the recession of 2009, are less financially secure than young adults from preceding generations. They have more student debt and less money in their retirement plans. Their net worth is lower than that of boomers or Gen Xers. Fewer own homes. Fewer are married.

This is the generation that gave rise to Occupy Wall Street and propelled two presidential campaigns by Bernie Sanders. It is the generation voting for candidates like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, pushing the Democratic Party to the left.

And as it moves to the left, elders are moving in the opposite direction. In one recent study, Vivekinan Ashok and Ebonya Washington of Yale, with Ilyana Kuziemko of Princeton, found that even as income inequality has intensified, Americans 65 and older have become more resistant to redistribution. The old, they suggest, worry that new programs to help the poor will come at the expense of cuts to Medicare.

“The disproportionate gains to the American elderly in terms of social spending over the past several decades may make them wary of further extending redistributive programs,” they wrote.

There remains a crucial bond between generations: family. The young care for their parents, and don’t want them to die of Covid-19. The old care about the financial well-being of their children and grandchildren, as well as about the balance in their 401(k). They don’t want the economy to go into free fall.

For much of her adult life, Brenda Michael-Haggard, the 59-year-old mother of Jordan Haggard, has felt that people who lose jobs or face other forms of adversity should persevere and simply “find another way to make stuff happen.”

Now she has seen her daughter’s generation experience two economic crises in a little over a decade and tens of millions of people lose their jobs practically overnight. It has changed how she looks at the world.

“As the mom, golly, it’s too bad,” she said. “It’s something that I wish any one of us could prevent. With all of the Covid, you can’t just pick yourself up and find something different.”