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Decency: The contrast between liberal and conservative

David Brooks is bloviating about decency in the NYT ("Trump's Presidency Smashed the 'Decency Floor'" if you're interested).

Bless his heart.

No, really. I don't think he's deeply evil, the way so many GOPpies have revealed themselves to be. He probably thinks he's "finding common ground" or something, with all of us who have been expressing horror and outrage about America's devolution and the lack of decency in the Republican Party and its helots.

I imagine his thinking process (see? I think he's capable of thought, even!) went something like this: "Well, they are saying they are outraged by the lack of decency, and I can certainly agree that the vulgar bullying, rudeness, crude language, etc., are totally unacceptable in our nation's governance and public discourse! So we agree on something! I will express my outrage, and they will understand that I am a person of thoughtfulness and gravitas and perhaps they will be willing to agree on, or at least listen politely to, some of my other intelligent ideas and brilliant thoughts."

The problem here lies in a commonly-used (and sometimes over-used) word that has quite different meanings for liberals than it does for conservatives.

When a liberal shouts "Have you no decency?" they are generally referring to 'decency' in the sense of "respect for common humanity." Liberals tend to believe 'decency' is the ability to recognize humanity in all types of people, respond to it with empathy and compassion, and work to redress inequities and injustices against that humanity.

When a conservative tut-tuts about the loss of decency, they are generally referring to a set of behavioral norms promoted to make public discourse, negotiation, and compromise easier and smoother, with the ultimate goal of preserving a status quo that has privileged people like them since time out of mind.

Conservatives not only approve of that form of decency, they need it, to use as a stick to beat back the expression of outrage, the punching up with protest, satire, and fiery rhetoric, used by those seeking to disrupt and change that status quo. The status quo which has privileged all those mannerly and decent conservative old white guys.

So of course they are pissed off at [Redacted] for hauling that tool out of their box and smashing it to powder. Just don't be fooled that their regretful tuts and huffs about 'decency' bear any real relationship to visceral outrage about brown children in cages, women being returned to the status of semi-privileged livestock, or old peoples' lives being not worth protecting from a global pandemic.

They don't mind discussing that stuff with you, though. As long as you're decently polite about it.


They have sown the wind...

When I was a little girl, the GOP had a reputation for being planners, long-term thinkers. Slow to act, deliberate, cautious. The Democrats, on the other hand, were considered a bit on the hasty side, so anxious to advance their agenda that they often moved too strongly and abruptly before the electorate was ready for that much change.

How strange, that the roles have so thoroughly reversed in my lifetime.

The GOP now seems to have no memory, and no concept of a future that goes beyond a few days, weeks, months. Victory this minute, no matter what the cost.

But I have a memory. A very vivid memory.

I have a memory of a time when my older sister's classmate didn't show up for school one day. And then we heard she'd died from some mysterious, unnamed condition. And finally the truth was shared, only in whispers- she'd died from a self-induced abortion. She was 15.

I have a memory of a time when my mother was denied a mortgage because even though she had a stable full-time job and an income adequate to make the payments, she was a divorced woman and she did not have a man to co-sign the mortgage agreement.

I have a memory of a time when her delightful co-workers at the carpentry shop broke into my sister's locker and urinated in her work boots to hint to her that people who didn't have penises weren't supposed to be union carpenters.

I have a memory of being laughed at and shamed when the priest at the Catholic school I attended visited our class to ask for volunteers to serve at the altar during Mass, and I volunteered. I was too stupid to realize a penis was required to serve God.

I have a memory of being catcalled and hooted at when taking a walk with another woman, and holding hands, by a carload of pissant privileged adolescents who hollered homophobic slurs at us. (The woman I was holding hands with was my mother...)

I have a memory of being discouraged from enlisting in the U.S. Navy because women could not serve in the specialties I was interested in, and would not be allowed the sea duty required to qualify for promotions.

I have a memory of being told that it was okay for me to do badly in math, because I was a girl and girls just weren't good at math. I was not allowed to sign up for the summer remedial courses, as they were already full. Of boys, apparently.

I have a memory of being date raped.

I have a memory of being called "whore", "bitch", "slut", "skag", "hosebag", "dog", and other epithets and told that I was too ugly to be any kind of a success.

I have many, many memories of being told to keep quiet, not to be 'aggressive', not to be 'unladylike', not to be "bitchy", not to take offense when men commented crudely on women in my presence.

I have memories of teachers and bosses letting me know in ways subtle and not-so-subtle that if I would gratify them sexually I would be considered for better grades, promotions, etc.

I have a memory of a good friend's mother committing suicide some months after being given a hysterectomy without her permission, to cure her "mental dysmorphia" and mood disorders.

I have a memory of the woman two houses up knocking at our back door and asking if we had any burn ointment because she'd had a "terrible accident" with the stove. The "terrible accident" also blacked her eye and sprained her wrist.

I have many, many more memories of what it was like before Roe v. Wade, before women like Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought for equal rights under the law for human beings born without a penis.

I am not the only one with those memories.






The GOP has NO idea what it is awakening.


Because between the time of those memories, and now, millions of women have experienced a small modicum of equity... a little freedom, a little control over our choices and destinies.

And millions of girls have grown up expecting nothing less. Millions.

No, we will not go quietly.

The GOP has somehow believed it could oppress "minorities" with impunity... there would always be enough powerful white men with privileges to protect, to enable them in their evil.

But women are not a "minority."

If they thought we were uppity back in the seventies....?

They ain't seen NOTHIN' yet.

The whirlwind is coming.


Dear Lincoln Project...

Dear Lincoln Project,

I'm grateful to you.

We share a few values: Love for our country. Respect for the Constitution. Belief that a government should not wantonly disregard its responsibilities to its citizens and our neighbors in the world community. An understanding of the power of unity, humanity, and shared sacrifice to achieve great things. Maybe some others.

We both recognize some existential threats to our nation: A would-be authoritarian fascist dictator who desperately wants to retain his grip on the levers of power and continue destroying the democratic institutions of our nation, and a major political party that has traded its responsibility to govern in the broader interests of all citizens for the support of a toxic minority that enables it to retain its grip on the levers of power. (There's a theme here, right?)

In the face of these existential threats, you have stepped up, and put your not-inconsiderable talents at the service of our country to meet them. And you have done so at some personal sacrifice- as you noted, none of you are likely to get the kind of satisfying, lucrative employment you formerly enjoyed from Republican Party sources. You have walked your talk with amazing grace, and I respect that.

There are some things we will probably always differ on: It concerns me that although you see the roots of the Republican Party's devolution in its tolerance of racist opportunism and willful embrace of disunity and division as a tool for retaining power, you don't seem to make a connection between this and movement conservatism's definition of "freedom" as "people (including corporations) should have the least possible restraint on their choices regardless of how much that puts the well-being of their neighbors, communities, and posterity at risk."

But let's put that aside, for now. I think we have some opportunities to continue to achieve the things we do agree on, and advance the values we do share, without putting too much strain on the places we will probably always differ.

Should we succeed in electing, and installing, a Biden Administration, I hope you might be willing to discuss the challenges that Administration will face in communicating with our painfully-divided citizenry. Your experience and skills could be valuable in helping restore the trust of Americans in our government- and without that trust, we will face continual and costly challenges in healing the fabric of our nation.

Checks and balances are critical, but so is that trust. Government earns the trust of citizens by acting in their interests, but also by being transparent, honest, and communicating effectively. I am pretty sure that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have bedrock commitment to that transparency and honesty in their governance, and they will need plenty of skilled help in communicating effectively.

If you don't feel able to provide active assistance to a new Administration in building trust, might you be willing to simply refrain from working against it?

Think about it.


Biden Administration To-Do List: Somewhere Near the Top

Start with this article. And then this one. And then maybe this one... I could go on. I have dozens.

(For those too lazy to click and read, the links go to an article about a boy in Roswell, NM who walks to his (closed) school so he can use its wi-fi to do his online school classwork; a report on lead in the water of New Orleans shaping up to look like a Flint redux; and a story about a crumbling highway bridge in eastern Washington state.)

Yes, there will be a LOT of urgent priorities for an incoming Biden Administration to address- saving American lives by dealing effectively with the pandemic, unfucking the voting system, setting up a judiciary review commission to expose, impeach and/or remove Federal judges who lied to the U.S. Senate during their confirmation and/or who are manifestly unqualified for their responsibilities, restoring needed functions of government, etc.

So I don't say this one should be at the very top of the list.

But somewhere near the top, this should be ready for a roll-out:

Massive deficit spending on vast public-works projects to transform and restore the physical infrastructure that once enabled the greatest economy in the world to expand and flourish. Millions of jobs bringing high-speed bandwidth to rural areas (think the REA) and working with cities to rebuild sustainable clean water and safe power grids.

Millions of jobs restoring both mass transit and safe highways to deliver goods such as PPEs, medical supplies, essential food and other gear.

Oh, yeah, and millions of jobs in public/private partnerships to restore the whole supply chain of critical equipment and materials for health care, education, and public safety, from building and repurposing factories to incentive programs for union workforces, to a carrot/stick program of regulations and incentives for moving goods and supplies in the most sustainable and carbon-neutral possible way.

And millions of jobs transforming our power grid to deliver sustainable energy, secure from hacking, vandalism, or other attacks.

And millions of new, accessible training and education programs to teach essential skills to anyone wanting to work in a new economy based on sustainability and equity.

And millions of jobs administering available grants and subsidies and assistance teams to help America's farmers restore the ability of our arable land to provide a sustainable, diverse food supply rather than Big-Ag welfare producing monocrops for industrially-producing foodlike substances with minimal nutritional value and maximal "shelf life".

Get Americans back to work building a sustainable, equitable economy for our grandchildren and we will have less time for doomscrolling through Russian propaganda sites working to divide us and spiral our economy further into a death spiral. Less time for Call of Duty cosplay in the woods. Less time for sitting in front of Fox and OAN.

In the long run, this will do much to unfuck things.

I hope they're already at work on the deets and have a few potential bellwether projects getting ready for rollout.


It's crystallized into something very simple for me:

Joe Biden has learned, and learned a LOT, from every mistake he's ever made. And he's had the long experience to make many, and learn from every one of them.

[Redacted] believes he's never even made a mistake, and he's the same person now as he was in first grade.

There is no starker contrast in terms of whose hand I want at the helm of this nation.


I just did the most important thing I will do all year.

The most important thing I have done since November 8th, 2016.

The most important thing I have done in a lifetime of political participation.

I completed my absentee ballot and took it to the County Clerk's office, where I turned it in. My partner was with me, turning in a completed absentee ballot.

We were not the only ones. There was a steady trickle... two people just leaving, a lady coming up the walkway toward us as we left, another man getting out of a car with a ballot envelope in his hand as we drove out of the county building parking lot.

And what came to mind was a book read to me when I was very small. See if you recognize the excerpt:

"'This,' said the Mayor, 'is your town's darkest hour!
The time for all Whos who have blood that is red
to come to the aid of their country!' he said.
'We've GOT to make noises in greater amounts!
So open your mouth, lad! Every voice counts!'"

If you haven't done it yet, do it. Help someone else do it. Every voice counts.

Because a person's a person... no matter how small.


Breathing Difficulties and Their Effects

I've had asthma most of my life. Since we moved to the high desert with its clean, dry air it has generally been well-controlled, but that doesn't mean it's "gone" and it can flare up any time with a variety of triggers: mold, stress, dust, pollen, infection, too much of certain foods, etc.

I treat it with great respect. It can kill me. It makes me more vulnerable to other problems (including, emphatically, the coronavirus infection) and can turn a mild URI into pneumonia.

For a number of years when I was younger, I assumed that the times when I wasn't conscious of an acute episode of bronchial spasm meant that I was "fine" and could ignore my asthma.

It took some serious bouts of pneumonia and persistent, serious bronchitis to teach me otherwise.

See, asthma isn't just about the acute bronchial spasms. You can be having an "attack" of mild bronchial spasm without realizing it, if you are not paying attention. You're not gasping for breath. You're not wheezing.

It can sneak up on you. You're not even aware that your breathing is growing shallower, unless something happens to make you suddenly try and draw a deep, full-chested breath, and you end up hacking up half a lung. An attack of pollen-related hayfever may seem all about the nasal passages, the snot and the sinus congestion, the itchy eyes, and you lose track of what's going on in your lungs until suddenly a sneeze turns into a cough and you're hacking up some nasty stuff and still not able to get to the "bottom" of a really satisfying breath.

When this happens you're already more than halfway to the major problem zone, which is a nasty place to be, involving a breathing mask with corticosteroid mist, trying to sleep sitting up, and occasionally even an epinepherine injection. No, you don't wanna go there.

The smart asthmatic learns to be alert for the symptoms of breathing difficulties before they get to that point. They're a bit subtle, but once you're aware of them, they're quite easily recognizable.

Basically, you're experiencing a chronic, low-level oxygen deprivation, "hypoxemia". Symptoms include headaches, changes or irregularities in heart rate, anxiety and confusion, a dry, shallow cough, and various aches and pains you don't even notice at first, but are the consequence of you holding your body in ways that compensate for the breathing difficulty you don't even notice.

I check blood oxy when I feel a headache, a little dizziness, mild nausea, etc. Or when my hayfever acts up. If I see a drop, it's a signal to pay attention. Am I doing something I should stop doing? (The wind is blowing dust around... stop gardening and go indoors. Drink some extra caffeine- a mild bronchodilator that sometimes helps arrest a developing episode. And so on...)

I treat my breathing with respect, and I'm maybe hyper-aware of how my own breathing difficulties can have an impact on my work performance, my mood, my interactions with other people.

This is only part of why I'm so diligent about avoiding potential coronavirus infection vectors.

If I were an obese seventy-something male with hypertension and signs of dementia/diminished mental capacity, I would hope very much that there were people around me who cared about me enough to help me notice and deal with my breathing difficulties.

Because prolonged hypoxemia can end up doing (even more) damage to the brain.


Take the joystick away from him. NOW.

FFS, have the staff at Walter Reed NO professional standards? No competence? No awareness of the importance of their own responsibility?

I don't give a rat's ass how [Redacted] "feels" or what his prognosis may be.

They should have called Pence and Pelosi as soon as they started administering the cocktail of drugs that included steroids, dextromethorphan, and god-knows-what-all, because THAT STUFF WARPS YOUR JUDGMENT AND PERCEPTIONS while you are on it.

The person occupying the most powerful public office in America, with all kinds of national security implications, is on JUDGMENT-WARPING DRUGS.

Never mind that he's never had anything that could pass under the most lenient circumstances as "good" judgment to start with. That can be called a matter of opinion. Being drugged-up is NOT a matter of opinion, it is a fact. The medicos owed it to both their professional ethical standards, and, in the case of the military docs, their oath of service, to invoke Amendment 25 when those drugs were administered.


Why doesn't anyone else see this? Why is no one hanging a bell on this 800-lb. tiger?

This is not a partisan issue.

This is the controls of America's economy, public health, infrastructure and national security in the hands of someone who is seriously impaired by pharmaceutical intervention.

FFS, people! Take the damn' joystick AWAY.

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