Category: current events

Some Glimmers of Political Hope, Followed by Horror

I fully realize that there’s a lot going on in our country today, with many citizens convinced the election was rigged, others convinced Trump is doing his best to steal the election, and even more doubt being stirred up by the election in Georgia. Listening to Trump’s diatribe against the election and seeing all the protestors in DC right now really disappoints me, and would typically leave me feeling despondent.

However.

I also see some areas that actually give me hope. First, there’s the fact that Georgia held a run off election that essentially confirmed what had happened in the first election in that state (a state whose electoral votes are being accused as being rigged today). Sure, Trump tried to claim that Democrats just rigged the election a second time, because they got away with it the first time, and doubtless there will be a significant number of Trump supporters who believe him. But to me, the runoff election showed the country is still working and will continue to work after Trump is gone. (Though the process to have Trump leave is far rockier than I would like.)

But more than that election, I’m encouraged to hear Republican politicians finally speak out strongly against this charade of pretending the election is rigged. Mitch McConnell is far from my favorite politician. (Very, very far. I believe much of the harm Trump has done to the country couldn’t have been done without McConnell’s support.) But to hear him get up and call for this effort to be voted down was really encouraging. Toomey, Romney. and other Senators–seeing members of the party finally take public stances against all of this is at least something.

And yet.

Even as I was writing this, the debate on the Senate floor was interrupted as Trump protesters swarmed the Capitol. I literally watched as thousands of them flooded the grounds, with some of them even going into the rotunda itself. And sure, watching many of them makes them look like nothing more than bemused Americans, filming everything with their phone cameras and taking pictures of what they’re doing. But I also realize that all it would take in a situation like that would be for a few confrontations for it all to spiral out of control. It was deeply troubling to watch. Evacuating members of the House and Senate? Evacuating the Vice President?

Trump has consistently lied about the election, pushing people the believe things without any real proof. I worry what might happen today and even more what might happen tonight.

Can we just have this over with already? I don’t know what else to say. I’m speechless, and it’s happening on live television.

Keeping Things in Perspective

I’ve written in the past about the importance of taking a measured response to challenges in life. One essay I wrote about the importance of avoiding digging in too deep around certain arguments (particularly religious ones) still resonates today with me. (Though perhaps I wouldn’t say I’d like to backhand certain people these days . . .) I’ve also written about the danger of conspiracy theories. So I suppose it shouldn’t have surprised and disappointed me when I read about both those issues coming together the past few days in my own religion.

The inciting incident seemed (to me) to be fairly tame: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a message Monday congratulating Joe Biden on his win and thanking Donald Trump for his service. This is pretty boilerplate in terms of language, and they released similar messages in 2016 and 2012 (and another in 2009 right when Obama was sworn in.) Probably in recognition of how divisive this election has been, they waited to release that message until the Electoral College had voted, rather than doing it soon after the election’s end.

No big deal, right?

Except Donald Trump has continued to bang the “This election was rigged!” drum as hard as he can since the morning after the election. He has constantly claimed he had incontrovertible proof about it, and that he would ultimately prevail. However, in practice, that proof has failed to pass muster in practically every single courtroom it’s been heard. Let’s just say that for an election that’s supposedly so blatantly “rigged,” there’s a shocking absence of real evidence of that rigging. (Setting aside the absurdity of the Democrats going to the trouble of rigging an election and then failing to wrest full control of the government, though I suppose you can feed that into the conspiracy theory to say that’s what they’d do to make sure they didn’t get caught. There’s no reasoning with conspiracy theorists. Period.)

And I know people have claimed Trump should have his day in court, and that he was entitled to protest as long as there was some question about the result, but the fallout from the Church’s statement illustrates the sort of harm Trump continues to wreck on this country. You had church members on the Church’s Facebook page posting pictures of their ripped up temple recommends in protest. Things got so bad the Church disabled comments for the post completely, removing all of them. People accusing the leaders of being part of the conspiracy and saying they were done with any church that would support Biden in any way.

Basically, you’ve got people who, when asked to choose whether to believe their church leaders whom they’ve followed for decades or Donald Trump, chose to go with Trump. Although note that they weren’t really asked to follow their church leaders. It was just the low bar of “moving on with post-election life and conceding defeat”.

I do hope that after some time has gone by, cooler heads will prevail, and these dramatic stands and online diatribes will quietly be deleted and backed away from. Certainly there’s something to be said to waiting to make ultimatums until you’ve had a while to process whatever you’re wanting to ultimate about, if you know what I mean. Though I’m also fairly certain Trump will be conceding nothing and will continue to be an active force in politics for the near future. He was already into conspiracies with the birther movement, and that was before he’d had four years of being president.

So perhaps these church members really will decide to leave the church for good. I hope that isn’t the case. I’ve already had some people unfriend me on Facebook, I assume due to the stances I took over Trump and the election. (It was one of those “I thought we were friends” situation where I didn’t find out they’d unfriended me until I went to search for them and discovered that was the case.) I’m sorry to see them go. I may disagree with people around many issues, but it’s very rare that I’m ready to terminate a friendship due to a disagreement. (That only has happened when the disagreement has morphed into nastiness and name calling and continued sniping, which I don’t have time for.)

Time will tell, I suppose.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

A Tale of Two Pandemics: March vs. November

I’ve been reading accounts from doctors and hospitals about just how bad things are getting in many parts of the US (and the world), and it struck me today how stark a difference this November is compared to what we were looking at in March, and how that might affect our December, January, and February.

When the pandemic first really started ballooning out of control, there was a lot of panic. There were tons of unknowns, and so people responded as if it was the end of the world. Or at least the end of the toilet paper supply chain, in any case. Did we over-react in March? Well, yeah. Justifiably so, I’d say. The stories coming out of Italy and New York City were so bleak. We wanted to make sure that didn’t happen across the rest of the world. Remember what that felt like?

Compare that to today, where a lot of people are convinced the pandemic was just a big hoax, or at the least overblown. Where masks are viewed by many as more of a political theater as opposed to an actual safety measure. Where we’ve had plenty of time to acclimate ourselves to the concept that many people will die, and suddenly deaths are relative.

(I can’t imagine using the same rhetoric people use to dismiss COVID deaths to dismiss other events in history. 9/11 killed around 3,000 people. It affected just a couple of passenger planes. By COVID reasoning, we shouldn’t be worried about that at all. After all, way more people die of heart attacks or the seasonal flu. World War II? 85 million people. So what? That’s only about 14 million deaths per year. There are 40 million abortions every year, give or take.)

Now consider that on April 1st, the US had had 209,692 cases of COVID identified. We’d had 6,476 deaths. Total. (Even a month later, we were still “only” up to 67,229.) Italy? They’d had 110,559 cases and 13,195 deaths. Those were the numbers when so many people in the nation and the world were feeling hopeless and grim.

Compare those numbers to today. The US is averaging 1,170 deaths per day. We’ve had over 250,000 total. Italy is averaging 569 deaths. Its peak was 817 per day. Granted, those are across the entire country as opposed to isolated areas, but the trajectory is exactly the same.

Remember all the people cheering for the hospital workers on their way back from their shifts each day? These days, I don’t see nearly the same sort of respect for those people. Instead, I see more disdain for the demands people wear a mask. I see more dithering about the “right to not wear a mask.”

We can know with a fair degree of certainty how many people who get COVID in the US today will die in three weeks. 1.8%. Right now we’re averaging 158,000 cases per day in America. While our current death rate is 1,170/day, three weeks from now it will be around 2,844. (You can see all the math at the link I posted there.) That’s baked in. Statistically, those deaths have already happened, as bleak as it feels to say that. Our peak so far has been 2,259 deaths per day on average. So we’re going to blow right by that, no matter what we do. And it will get much much worse unless we all start really taking it seriously.

But look around. I just don’t see anyone taking it more seriously than they’re taking it right now. Not before Thanksgiving, at least. There will come a tipping point. There has to, right? A point where finally we as a country recognize this for what it is. But I’ve been reading both CNN and Fox News regularly since the election, just to see how two sides of the country might be viewing what we’re going through. CNN gives a fair bit of credence to this. Fox, much less. They’re much more concerned with Trump’s rallies, his legal challenges to the election, and what might happen in Georgia. Yes, they cover the vaccine news, but it’s presented in a “the cure is almost here” light.

I don’t want to take hope away from anyone, and I am very happy good vaccines are in the pipeline. But that’s all the more reason to take the next few months as seriously as we can. The pandemic is running on a big portion of individual exceptionalism right now. The thought that if I do something different, it’s not a big deal, because it’s just me. I can decide to not wear a mask or go to a party or have a Thanksgiving dinner with “just a few other families,” and it’s going to be fine. But you take that approach and magnify it millions of times, and you’ve got serious problems.

In so many ways, our past determines our future. I understand why people aren’t taking COVID as seriously now. It’s more familiar. It’s been around, and so it doesn’t seem as scary. But the numbers we’re facing now would have shocked us into much more action eight months ago. I’m hoping they spur us to more action today sooner rather than later.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

2020 Election: Rigged or Not?

So here we are. As someone who has been vocally against Trump since the Republican primaries in 2016, I’m naturally more than a little pleased that he lost the election. That shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. I’m also not shocked that he’s not conceding. That’s never really been in his nature, and I think it’s fairly likely that he will go to his grave insisting the 2020 elections were rigged, and that the Democrats cheated to get him out.

The real question for me is what Trump’s supporters will do about it.

Again, for many of them, I think they’re going to continue to believe the election was rigged, regardless of what happens. And let me be clear: I have no interest in having Biden win due to shenanigans. I believe in a fair and free election. I also believe that’s what we had in 2020, but I am open to any actual evidence that comes to light indicating this wasn’t the case. Note, however, that I’m looking for actual evidence. Not conspiracy memes. Not claims. Not hearsay. For Trump really to have lost due to a rigged election, what would have had to happen?

  • In Arizona, there’s a 20,000 vote difference at the moment.
  • In Nevada, it’s 35,000 votes.
  • Georgia has about 10,000 more votes for Biden.
  • Pennsylvania has around 45,000.
  • In Michigan, 145,000.
  • In Wisconsin, 20,000 votes separate them.

So let’s assume for the moment that the Democrats really did decide to rig the election, and that they conspired to turn multiple states against Trump using fake ballots or voting in the name of dead people. They’d want to do it in multiple states, mind you, because it’s not as if they’d know ahead of time just how many fake ballots they’d have to submit to overcome the deficit. Then again, I suppose they could have churned out new fake ballots to overcome the deficit after the fact? Do that in key states, and then voila! Biden wins.

I think it’s likelier that they’d rig the election after the fact rather than ahead of time. It would be simpler and more likely to succeed. So let’s say, as Trump is saying, that as the election results came in, the Democrats decided to submit phony ballots in just enough states to make Trump lose. It would have to be in the close states, since they were the ones that were still up in the air for days. The easiest would be Pennsylvania, right?

45,000 votes don’t just magically appear out of nowhere. That’s a substantial chunk of ballots you’ve got to fabricate. And then you have to do it in a way that you won’t get caught. Because all those voters are on record as having voted. You can go back after the fact and check to see if they’re, you know . . . living.

And from what I can see, the Trumpers are out in force, trying to find proof of just that. That’s their right. I’m skeptical they’ll be successful, for a couple of reasons:

  1. If the Democrats did, indeed, “fix” the election, they did a horrendous job of it. They fell short of controlling the senate in a few key races. If they have the wherewithal to influence the presidential vote, why didn’t they fix the senatorial vote while they were at it?
  2. All the claims of voter fraud that have come forward at the moment have been disproven. I have yet to read of a single case of it actually happening this year.
  3. All the claims of shady counting have been disproven as well. The Trumpers have brought the cases to court, and the cases have been uniformly dismissed. The closest they’ve come to a whiff of evidence is that counters in Philadelphia weren’t as close to the actual counting as the Trump team would have liked. Six feet away instead of closer. Why six feet away? I don’t know. Six feet apart. Where have I heard that before? Maybe the counters didn’t want to have to risk their lives more than they had to, just so they could process some ballots.
  4. The root of most of these allegations come from people who have generally played loose with the facts (to say the least) for the last four years. I see no reason to suddenly start giving them the benefit of the doubt.

But fine. They claim fraud. I say prove it. Voter fraud is illegal. If it’s happening, there will be evidence, and they can (and should) take the weasels to court. In the meantime, we’ve got a pandemic that’s raging even more out of control. One that didn’t disappear magically when the election finished. So excuse me for being a bit more concerned about the future of my country than I am about something that so far is nothing but hot air.

We’re getting over a hundred thousand COVID cases a day in America, with a positivity test rate of 8% nationally, with some states over 15%, and some way higher than that, according to Johns Hopkins. South Dakota is at 53%! The fatality rate worldwide for identified COVID cases is around 3%. (Yes, some have pointed out it’s actually lower than this, because we don’t find everyone who has COVID, but that goes both ways. The fact is, 3% of the people who tested positive for COVID and had an official “result” have ended up dead. If those numbers hold for America, then 3,000 of those 100,000 people are going to die in a few weeks. Each day. Yes, there’s positive results coming out about some of the vaccine potentials, but remember, those are months away from being widely available.

We don’t have time to be dilly dallying with more puffed up accusations. If there’s such rampant voter fraud, then drag out the evidence and let’s move on. But remember, Trump claimed millions of people voted illegally in 2016. He created an advisory commission to look into it. They ended up finding nothing.

Democrats have (most likely) lost their shot at controlling the Senate. They performed much worse in many races than they hoped to. And yet all these Democrats are accepting defeat, acknowledging their losses, and moving on. There are no claims about illegal votes in Florida or other places where the results were surprising.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Things More Worthwhile than Refreshing the News

This might be more a post for me than for you, though I’m guessing some of you could use the reminder as well. As I sit here fighting the urge to compulsively refresh the voting totals in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Nevada, I’m reminded that up until today, most people would scoff at anyone who became seriously invested in watching a snail race. And yet here I am, doing essentially that and somehow feeling like if I turn away, I’m going to miss some thrilling action.

I might as well start watching paint dry, for all the good this is doing me. What good is knowing what happens five minutes before my friends if it comes at the cost of being glued to results for three solid days or more?

Of course, it would be easier for me to step away from the results if I didn’t have a job that required me to be online most of the time. Especially since we’re still in the middle of a pandemic, and I’m still working from home as we wait for Tomas to get out of precautionary quarantine.

Think about how much good we could get done as a nation if we stopped worrying about the results and instead devoted all that time to something else. It’s been around 42 hours since the polls started closing. In that amount of time, we could have

  • Binge watched the extended Lord of the Rings trilogy more than three times
  • Read the whole Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit around 1.5 times
  • Be three quarters of the way through all the James Bond movies, in honor of Sean Connery
  • Hiked almost a sixth of the Appalachian Trail
  • Baked more than 3,000 chocolate chip cookies (a dozen at a time)
  • Eaten more than 5,000 chocolate chip cookies. (Then again, I might have done that and watched the results at the same time. Don’t judge.)
  • Done more than 84 crosswords
  • Stacked about 42 cords of wood
  • Gotten the majority of the country to understand how to pronounce Kamala Harris’s name. (It’s Comma-la, folks. Comma-la. Think of the punctuation mark, and you’re halfway there.)
  • Listened to Stairway to Heaven over 300 times

And those are just off the top of my head. The bottom line is that maybe I should cut back from refreshing every minute to something more healthy, like refreshing once an hour, or even once every couple of hours. (The horror!)

Then again, I also recognize it would be in my best interest to floss every day, get a full night’s sleep, avoid candy all the time, and sit up straight instead of slouching. My track record with those hasn’t been stellar either, so maybe I just need to lower my expectations.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s been at least fifteen minutes since I checked the tallies in Georgia. They might have counted four more ballots already, and I won’t know until I go check!

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

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