We Must Fight COVID Aggressively Right Now And Avoid Getting Too Lax Too Soon

3-6-21
   The COVID pandemic has been raging for over a year now. People are getting tired of wearing masks, social distancing, not seeing friends and family in person, not attending gatherings, and so on and so on. A great number of people are hurting financially due to jobs being lost or hours being severely curtailed because of the economic impacts of the pandemic. Many businesses are suffering and quite a few sadly have closed permanently.
   So I understand why people are so eager to try to get life back to a more normal level.
   But, the pandemic is still raging. While in a number of areas, cases have slowed down to some degree compared to during the holidays, the numbers of new cases are still dangerously high. And in many states and cities, the rate of new cases right now is higher as compared to the spring of 2020 when states went into total lockdown.
   I’m not saying we should to go into a total lockdown again. But we must continue to fight the pandemic.
   Texas has rescinded its mask wearing mandate and is allowing businesses to open to full capacity. This is dangerously premature and in my opinion will absolutely cost lives to be lost unnecessarily and tragically. It’s way too soon to open businesses at 100% capacity, and rescinding mask wearing mandates is grossly irresponsible.
   The COVID virus has mutated as viruses due. Currently, there are multiple variants spreading around the country and the world. Several have shown to be more contagious than the original strain. We also can’t say how efficacious the current vaccines will be against all these new variants. This is why mask wearing, social distancing, and restrictions on how many people are allowed inside businesses are still vitally important in fighting this virus.
   What we need is for everyone around the country and the world to continue wearing masks and social distancing in public. Businesses will have to find ways to function as best they can with restrictions such as limiting the number of customers allowed inside. We also need as many people as possible to get vaccinated as soon as they are able. If we do this, we will get control over the COVID virus much sooner, which in the long run will save lives and help businesses get back to more normal levels sooner than otherwise.
   But fully reopening and relaxing mask wearing/social distancing rules too soon will prolong the pandemic and cost more lives to be lost, lives which could have been saved otherwise. The other thing that would prolong the pandemic is if too many people refuse to get vaccinated. In order to reach herd immunity, we need as much of the population to get vaccinated as possible.
   So please, continue taking precautions. Wear masks and social distance in public. And when your turn comes, unless your doctor has a genuine legitimate reason not to, get vaccinated against the COVID virus.
   By working together we can get through this and get through it sooner. But it’s up to all of us.

The United States Badly Needs The COVID Relief Bill Passed

3-1-21
   People all around the country are hurting badly during this pandemic between health concerns, tragic deaths, and economic impacts.
   A great number of businesses are seriously hurting, and as a result, many people have found their hours being cut or their jobs lost completely. Even places that have been around for decades with devoted customers have had to shutter their doors permanently. Many people are on the precipice of potentially being kicked out of their apartments and homes. Millions of Americans are barely hanging on.
   But the thing is: this pandemic is still raging. People are still getting sick and too many are dying, so various restrictions are still needed to try to control spread of the disease and save lives.
   It’s a terrible dilemma. We have to balance fighting the virus while trying not to devastate the economy at the same time.
   This is why we really need Congress and the White House to pass the COVID relief bill as soon as possible. Everyone’s not going to get everything they want in the bill. This is a democracy in a time where partisan divides are often extreme and bitter. But we have to find ways to work together and get something passed to help people and businesses who are struggling economically as well as provide strategy and coordination in the effort to battle the devastating virus.
   Come on DC. Please get it done.

Everyone Needs To Do Their Part In Battling The COVID Pandemic

3-1-21
   I know people are sick and tired of the pandemic. They want to get out and do things. They miss restaurants, family gatherings, bars, movie theaters, the list goes on and on.
   People are getting impatient. They want their lives back to the way they were before.
   But folks, the COVID Pandemic is still raging.
   People are still dying. As a matter of fact, people are dying at a daily rate that is higher than was seen back in early 2020 when strict shut down measures were first instituted.
   We must all do our part to fight this deadly disease, and that means keep wearing masks and social distancing in public. It also means that when your turn comes to get a vaccine, get it! Unless your doctor has genuine legitimate reasons not to, get a COVID vaccine when your turn comes because it’s not just about protecting yourself. It’s about protecting everyone. In order to gain herd immunity in the population, we need as many people as possible to get vaccinated. That’s how it works. If a bunch of people refuse to get vaccinated, the pandemic will continue and people will keep dying needlessly, tragically, and before their time.
   So please, please, please: do your part.
   Practice social distancing and mask wearing in public. Avoid large gatherings especially when indoors. And when your turn comes, get vaccinated!
   Together, we will get through this.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/

Donald Trump Clearly Incited The Angry Mob That Stormed US Capitol Building.

2-10-21
   Okay folks, let’s get one thing abundantly clear: Donald Trump absolutely encouraged, instigated, and incited the angry mob who stormed the US Capitol Building on January 6th.
   He did.
   Trump started attacking the election months before the first ballot was even cast. Think about how he began assaulting mail in voting before the first ballot was even sent out to people. He made outrageous claims like his saying that the only way he could lose the election was if it was stolen from him. And this was before any voting actually occurred.
   Then we come to the election itself. Joe Biden won, and Donald Trump lost. Fair and square. Every single state, including those run by Republicans, certified the election. There were also international observers from multiple countries who monitored the process. On top of this, in all the ballot counting rooms in all the states, there were Republican, Democrat, and Independent monitors overseeing the counting process and who were present to answer questions if any arose. Trump and his people lost over 60 lawsuits that were based on their false claims about the election, and many of the judges who ruled against Trump were Republicans themselves.
   The fact is that this was a free and fair election. There was no widespread fraud or irregularities. Joe Biden was the elected legitimately and honestly by winning the popular vote as well as the electoral college vote.
   Yet Donald Trump’s outrageous, false claims and rhetoric with regards to the election got worse and worse. He repeatedly told his followers with fury and anger how the election had supposedly been stolen from him. He kept making these ridiculous and utterly false claims over and over which got his followers more and more outraged.
   Then we arrive at the fateful day, January 6th.
   Trump gave a fiery speech making his sickeningly false claims about the election and further inflaming the angry audience with comments like “our country has had enough” and referring to Joe Biden as “an illegitimate president.” He called the election itself “a catastrophe” and claimed that he had won states that he had clearly lost. Trump made outrageously false accusations that had no basis in reality throughout the speech, but the crowd of devout Trump followers believed every word and got more and more infuriated with every passing minute.
   Then he said, “And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” Soon after this, he told the angry mob to go to the Capitol.
   If you don’t believe me, listen to the speech itself or read the transcript. It’s out there word for word.
   So here’s the thing folks. The months of lies and sickeningly outrageous rhetoric making false claims that had no basis in reality set the stage for the tragedy that unfolded. All that was needed was to light the match, which is exactly what Donald Trump did in his speech on January 6th.
   Donald Trump undermined and attacked our democratic values throughout his tenure in office, and the events on January 6th were a culmination of this abhorrent and repugnant behavior.
   It is clear that Trump is threatening our democracy and should be found guilty by the Senate. He should then be barred from holding federal office ever again. The big question is will enough Republican Senators finally grow some spines and do the right thing to find Donald Trump guilty.
   Time will tell. But whatever happens, people know the truth, and History is going to treat Donald Trump very harshly.

Getting Beyond The Vicious Toxicity Of The Trump Era Will Be Challenging.

2-1-21
   The toxic rhetoric, hate, and lies from Trump and others continue to haunt us. Thousands of National Guard troops are still in Washington DC in order to help protect the US Capitol Building and other important sites from far right extremists.
   Think about that.
   Right now, the biggest terror threat to our country is from home grown, domestic terrorists. Far right extremists who have been encouraged and galvanized by Trump’s outrageous lies and rhetoric.
   It’s seriously disturbing and sad that our country has sunk to this level. And it’s clear that Donald Trump along with those enabling him and blindly following him are major factors in bringing our nation to this twisted, deeply troubling state of affairs.
   Divisions, lack of understanding, intolerance, hate, prejudice, and so on were already problems in the United States when Trump started his campaign for the Presidency back in 2016. The thing is: Trump took advantage of these problems, encouraging and exacerbating them, with his outrageous, hurtful, vicious, and often totally false rhetoric, actions, and lies. Instead of trying to unite people, he worsened divisions creating a toxic, hateful atmosphere so that prejudiced hate groups felt emboldened to become more brazen and vocal.
   Then came the 2020 election, which overwhelming evidence shows was free and fair. There was no widespread fraud or irregularities.
   But Trump began attacking the election before it even had a chance to get started as he viciously went after mail in voting for months prior to a single ballot being sent out to anyone.  Once he lost the election, he quickly began spreading ridiculous, totally false claims and conspiracy theories in his quest to try to stay in office, even though Joe Biden clearly and legitimately won.
   The years of lies, intolerance, xenophobia, and outrageous rhetoric from Trump and others in addition to all these false claims about the election incited these far right extremists to storm the US Capitol Building in an effort to stop Congress from certifying the free and fair 2020 election. Fortunately, these domestic terrorists failed, and Congress did its Constitutional duty and certified the election.
   Troubling still is how throughout all of this, numerous Republicans in important positions as well as millions of every day Americans are still enabling Trump’s horrendous behavior by always going along with him, not standing up to him, and flat out blindly following him. It appears that a significant amount of Republicans in Congress are still bowing to Trump’s whims, even after everything that has happened.
   It’s disgusting, horrifying, sickening, and disturbing seeing how low things have sunk to. It’s also scary how many people are still blindly following Trump despite the fact he incited insurrection and is still undermining (I would say attacking) our democracy.
   For things to get better, we have to be strong and stand up for decency, honesty, compassion, science, caring, and democracy. While Donald Trump and a number of other people should be held accountable for their despicable actions, we also need to put the hate, narrow-mindedness, intolerance, and viciousness of the Trump era behind us and strive to make this a better place for all. People must relearn how to open their minds, listen to one another, and work together where possible.
   It won’t be easy. We as a society and a country are battered and bruised. Healing will take time as will bridging the deep divides that have been tearing this nation apart.
   But we will get through it. Our democracy will endure and if we work at it, the United States will get closer to being the shining beacon that we want it to be.

The Toxicity Of The Trump Era Needs To Be Put Behind Us

1-16-21
   25,000 National Guard troops are in (or on the way to) Washington DC in order to protect the transfer of power from the Trump Administration to the Biden Administration.
   Think about that.
   Thousands of soldiers needed to protect the Inauguration of President Elect Joe Biden.
   It’s disturbing and sad that our country has sunk to this level. And it’s clear that Donald Trump along with those enabling him and blindly following him brought our nation to this twisted, deeply troubling state of affairs.
   Divisions, lack of understanding, intolerance, hate, prejudice, and so on were already problems in the United States when Trump started his campaign for the Presidency. The thing is: Trump took advantage of these problems and exacerbated them with his outrageous, hurtful, vicious, and often totally false rhetoric, actions, and lies. Instead of trying to unite people, he worsened divisions  and hate creating such a toxic atmosphere that prejudiced hate groups felt emboldened to become more brazen and vocal.
   And then we come to the 2020 election.
   He began attacking the election before it even had a chance to get started as he viciously went after mail in voting for months prior to a single ballot being sent out to anyone.  Once he lost the election, he quickly began spreading ridiculous, totally false claims and conspiracy theories in his quest to try to stay in office, even though Joe Biden clearly and legitimately won.
   And throughout all of this, numerous Republicans in important positions as well as millions of every day Americans have enabled Trump’s horrendous behavior by always going along with him, not standing up to him, and flat out blindly following him. And now we are having to endure the results of this sickening situation. We watched in disgust and horror as an angry mob of Trump supporters (incited by Trump and others) literally assaulted the US Capitol Building with the purpose of trying to stop Congress from certifying the free and fair 2020 election. This was clearly a form of undemocratic insurrection seeing how they used violence to attempt to stop Biden from becoming President.
   It’s disgusting, horrifying, sickening, and disturbing seeing how low things have sunk to. It’s also scary how many people are still blindly following Trump despite the fact he incited insurrection.
   We have to be strong and stand up for decency, honesty, compassion, science, caring, and democracy. It’s time to put the hate, narrow-mindedness, intolerance, and viciousness of the Trump era behind us and strive to make this a better place for all.
   It won’t be easy. We as a society and a country are battered and bruised. Healing will take time as will bridging the deep divides that have been tearing this nation apart.
   But we will get through it. Our democracy will endure and if we work at it, the United States will get closer to being the shining beacon we want it to be.

Trump’s Assault On Democracy Should Enrage All Americans

1-10-21
   We’ve seen over and over how unfit for the Office of President Donald Trump is with repeated examples of his inappropriate, outrageous, and disgraceful behavior. He’s ridiculed people with disabilities, lied more than any other modern president, regularly undermined his own government officials and policies, insulted valuable allies while going out of his way to avoid saying anything bad about Vladimir Putin and Russia. Also consider how horribly the Trump Administration has handled the COVID Pandemic so that in many ways, states have been left largely on their own to deal with the devastating crisis. This alone has undoubtedly cost many lives to be lost tragically, needlessly, and unnecessarily.
   Then we come to the 2020 Presidential election. This was a free and fair election. Every state has certified the results. There were Democratic, Republican, and Independent observers in all the ballot counting rooms. International observers from multiple countries were even present monitoring the election. There was no widespread irregularities or fraud. But Donald Trump has been attacking the election making totally baseless and completely false claims of fraud that he has no evidence for. He has lost over 60 lawsuits because of his lack of evidence. And many of the judges who ruled against Trump were conservative. The fact is that there was no widespread fraud. It was a free and fair election, yet millions of people, who have been blindly following Trump, seem to believe his disgusting lies. He has been purposely spewing out these false claims of fraud, getting his followers angrier and angrier, as he has tried to stop Biden from becoming President. Trump has become dangerously unstable, unhinged, and obsessed with the election which has culminated in his inciting an angry mob to storm the US Capitol Building.
   Think about that. The President of the United States incited a mob to assault the Capitol Building. The clear intent of the insurrection was to try to interfere with Congressional certification of Joe Biden’s victory.
   The horrendously undemocratic and frankly unAmerican effort failed, for Congress reconvened within hours and finished it’s Constitutionally mandated duty.
   Joe Biden will be inaugurated on January 20th as President of the United States.
   Now the question is what to do about Trump. In my opinion Trump’s behavior has been so clearly unstable and wrong on so many levels that he should be removed from office as soon as possible. Since voluntary resignation almost certainly will not happen, I feel that it’s time for Vice President Pence and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office for being unfit to serve. Unfortunately, since the Cabinet is full of Trump loyalists who have been going along with and enabling Trump’s terrible behavior for a long time, it doesn’t appear likely that enough of them will the courage to do the right thing.
   That leaves Impeachment. It looks like this will happen quickly in the House of Representatives. And Trump must be held accountable. The problem is that Mitch McConnell is most likely not going to call the Senate back to session early. As a result, the Senate wouldn’t be able to even start a trial until the day before the Presidential inauguration of Joe Biden. Once Biden is in office, he understandably wants to immediately start dealing with important legislation, such as getting economic relief to the country and organizing a national strategy to fight COVID-19. A Senate trial right after the inauguration would delay such action. Plus, there is the concern about whether enough Republican Senators have the guts to be willing to vote to convict. One option would be to delay a Senate trial for a few months. This would let Biden and Congress focus on immediate issues that need to be dealt with as soon as possible. It would also allow more thorough investigations to occur into what happened, including the events leading up to the attack. A big positive of Trump being successfully convicted would be preventing him from running for office ever again. But would enough Republican Senators be willing to convict Donald Trump.
   We are going through unprecedented times. I truly hope Donald Trump is held responsible for his horrendous and disgusting actions in attacking our democracy. It is also time for people, who have been following Donald Trump, to open their eyes and recognize how bad, undemocratic, and unAmerican he is.

A Number Of Congressional Republicans Are Threatening US Democracy

1-2-21:
   In a few days, January 6th, Congress is due to certify the 2020 Presidential election. Normally, this is a simple formality, but this time, it has become much more complicated.
   There was no widespread fraud in this election. As with all elections, there were a few isolated problems here and there (which is normal), but nothing systematic or widespread and nothing that would change the outcome of the election. State government officials (both Democrat and Republican) have certified the election. There were Democratic, Republican, and Independent observers in all the ballot counting rooms.  There were even International Observers from multiple countries monitoring the election as well. The conclusion from all these people is that it was a free and fair election.
   Joe Biden won, and Donald Trump lost, fair and square.
   But dangerously and pathetically, Trump is making totally baseless accusations of fraud that he has no evidence for. He has lost lawsuit after lawsuit because he has no evidence.  It’s clear that his claims of fraud are completely false and self-serving, yet he continues spewing out this utter nonsense, apparently for his own twisted reasons.
   Trump will not steal this election as he is apparently trying to do. Joe Biden will be inaugurated January 20th.
   But it is extremely disturbing how numerous Congressional Republicans are going along with Trump’s disgusting, unAmerican behavior. Some are threatening to object to Congressional certification of the election despite the fact that the election was free and fair. This terrible, cowardly behavior is undermining our democracy.
   And you know what: History is going to treat the actions of Trump and those going along with him very, very harshly. And they will deserve the harsh treatment because they are going against (and even trying to overturn) the will of the American people who have already spoken by voting.
   Think about it. The actions of Trump and those going along with him are threatening the very foundation of our country, Democracy.
   We must never forget what is happening.
   We must never forget that elected officials are knowingly and willfully hurting our democratic way of life.
   We must remember who these individuals are and vote them out of office when they come up for reelection themselves.
   And we must all strive to do better in the future in upholding and defending our democracy.

2021 Is Here

1-1-21
   It’s a new year!  The twisted, tortuous, brutal year of 2020 has finally drawn to a close which is a huge relief to people around the world.
   While we all hope that 2021 will be better than 2020, the reality is that it will take time.
   In the United States, COVID case numbers are scarily high with death tolls often reaching over 3000 in a 24 hour period. Many experts expect January to get particularly bad with a surge upon a surge occurring as the effects of people, who disregarded medical experts’ pleas to avoid big holiday gatherings, are felt.
   In addition to the COVID situation, Trump and his people are undermining American democracy with outrageously false claims about the election. While Trump’s attempts to steal the election away from the American people will fail, it appears he is going to try to hold as much power over the Republican Party, after he leaves office, as he can get away with. This is disturbing to say the least. Even though he will no longer be an elected official, he will likely try to control what Republicans (who are in elected positions) do by threatening to turn his followers against them. This is a form of authoritarianism that is dangerous and damaging to democracy.
   Thus, 2021 will not be a walk in the park. But hopefully, it’ll get better. Perhaps with time, some of the Republicans who have been going along with Trump’s outrageousness (even when they know he’s in the wrong) will finally grow a spine and turn away from him, but time will tell if that actually happens. Hopefully, the COVID vaccination program will pick up steam so that the majority of the population can get vaccinated as soon as possible, that way we can start reaching herd immunity. With herd immunity, we can begin getting life back to a more reasonable, enjoyable state.
   So, hang in there. People need to listen to medical experts and work together in combating COVID-19. We must stand up for our democratic values. People need to stop enabling Trump’s abhorrent, unAmerican behavior and recognize that the election was fair and that Trump legitimately lost. It’s time to put the toxic divisions and hate of the Trump years behind us and strive to help one another and work together in creating a better future.

The Border Between North And South Korea Is One Of The Most Tense And Heavily Fortified In The World

12-26-20
   On May 3rd of this year (2020), North Korean soldiers fired across the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) towards a guard post on the southern side. South Korea says its soldiers then issued a warning broadcast and fired two shots back in return. No one on the southern side was injured.
   Did you know that the Korean DMZ is probably the most heavily fortified border in the world?
   It is.
   The Demilitarized Zone was established in 1953 when the Korean War came to end and runs across the Korean peninsula separating the Communist North from the Democratic South. It’s approximately 150 miles long and 2.5 miles wide running along the 38th parallel. An estimated 2 million mines are dispersed in or near the DMZ which is in addition to all the guard posts, fences, barbed wire, tank traps, artillery, combat vehicles, and hundreds of thousands of troops that line the entire border area.
   And guess what? This isn’t the first incident to occur there. Oh no. There have been scattered clashes occurring between the two sides since the end of the war which have included helicopters being shot down when they accidentally strayed across the border, engagements on water, and guard posts having firefights against each other.
   Panmunjom is a village that straddles the border itself. Here, North Korean and South Korean soldiers stare at each other day in and day out, sometimes with just feet separating them. There are 5 one story buildings, 3 of which are painted United Nations blue, that stand directly on the border line so that half is in the South and half is in the North. These buildings are where delegates can sit down at a table (that is also bisected by the border) for talks. When South Korean soldiers open the door to the North, they do so in pairs. One opens the door while the second holds on to him. They do this because there is genuine fear that North Koreans might try to grab and abduct the first soldier. That is how tense things are.
   Considering how dictatorial and ruthless the North Korean regime is, it doesn’t look like there will be any significant easing of tensions at the Korean DMZ anytime soon.