I had a spare $15 to spend at the DFTBA store on stuff randomly selected for me. The acronym means Don’t Forget To Be Awesome. I’m familiar with it because I follow the Vlogbrothers, John and Hank Green (no relation).
Among the merch, besides a Pizza John mug and various pictures and postcards were two magnets that read; “The idea that some lives matter less is the ROOT of all that’s wrong with the world.” – Paul Farmer.
Of course, I needed to know who this guy is. He’s a physician and anthropologist. The statement is “shorthand for the mission statement of Partners In Health (PIH), the organization he helped found three decades ago to advance the belief that health is a human right.
“With a growing team of health care professionals, volunteers, and donors, Farmer is spreading his philosophy of social justice and quality medical care to the most destitute parts of the world.”
The Vlogbrothers are supporting the PIH initiative to A Bold Solution to a Maternal Health Crisis in Sierra Leone, where “1 in 17 women run the risk of dying in pregnancy or childbirth.” I had made a contribution to this specific PIH project last year, and will likely do so again in 2021.
There are PIH programs around the world, including the Navajo Nation. PIH “acts on the belief that the best way to guarantee high-quality, dignified care is to rely upon and invest in local health systems.
“What does building a health system look like? It requires–among many things–well-trained staff; proper and ample medications and supplies; health facilities with reliable space, electricity, and running water; and universally shared best practices that ensure patients receive quality care.”
I’m not suggesting that Partners In Health is the only vehicle for addressing health crises, only the one that appealed to me. I would however suggest that, before donating to any cause, check out the Charity Navigator. This link vets 900+ health-related organizations. PIH, BTW, received four stars.
The Quest to Unearth One of America’s Oldest Black Churches. First Baptist Church was founded in secret in 1776. It’s been hidden under a parking lot in Colonial Williamsburg for decades—a metaphor for the failures of archaeology and American history.
Republican House members who voted for impeachment: Liz Cheney (WY), Anthony Gonzalez (OH), Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA), John Katko (NY), Adam Kinzinger (IL), Peter Meijer (MI), Dan Newhouse (WA), Tom Rice (SC), Fred Upton (MI), David Valadao (CA)
In some way, there was no date more 2020 for me than December 7. I received three packages. All contained masks.
One was a package of 50 disposable items I had ordered about a week earlier. The second was a mask featuring the mustache of John Green, which I had ordered about a month and a half earlier. It was a Pizzamas thing; don’t worry about understanding that, because I don’t either.
The third, though, I had ordered so long before that I had forgotten about it altogether. Ten black masks with the letters UNITY in white silhouette. Within each letter, a message. all in caps.
Healthcare for all. Back Lives Matter. Save the Planet. Protect Dreamers. Ensure voting rights. The image description from Democracy for America: “We believe there is more that unites us than divides us. These issues are not just for the few, they are for all of us.” I hope so.
In my Christmas stocking, Santa brought two more masks. One was a woodsy scene. The other was a black mask with Day-Glo musical notes. I like these.
Finally, in the mail on New Year’s Eve, came a mask with a card, sent ostensibly from my church’s address. The lettering was intentionally designed to obscure the handwriting of the sender. The white mask had a pinkish rectangle that featured a white cross. In red letters: FIRST PRES CHOIR 2020
For the last few years, an anonymous benefactor had left the choir t-shirts and pens, both emblazed with messages about the church, left near the choir loft. Since we haven’t sung since March 2020 – haven’t even been in the building – I was particularly surprised by this largesse. I have a theory about who it might be; my wife thinks it’s someone else. Thanks to the choir Secret Santa once again, whoever you are.
I went to the local grocery store on Tuesday, moving through as quickly as possible. The cashier wore a Pittsburgh Steelers mask. I asked her if her team was going to win this weekend. She said, “I hope so. They only lost by two last week, and they rested some of their players.” I added, “And the Cleveland Browns needed that game. But what about that three-game losing streak?” She sighed, “I don’t know WHAT that was about.”
I mention this because, too often, the mask is a sign of less sharing. You can’t see people’s facial expressions. But at that moment, the mask facilitated a human connection that I too often miss.
Here’s hoping that in 2022, I won’t need the masks anymore. But I keep seeing those newspaper headlines. LA Times, Jan 1.: Spiraling COVID-19 deaths leave morgues overflowing and funeral homes turning away grieving families. And even around here. Times Union, Jan. 1: In Albany County, the mark of 346 new infections in one day is 77 more than the prior record. So know I’ll still have those masks available in 2021. It’s good to have a variety…
I woke up in the morning, and suddenly, it made sense, in a Bizarro world sort of way. Many pundits said there was no October surprise in 2020. I would disagree. The surprise was djt getting COVID.
He flies on Marine One to the hospital on a Friday. By Sunday, he’s riding around in a limo, waving to supporters. And on Monday evening, he’s back at the White House, defiantly ripping off his mask, saying “Screw you, COVID.” A week or so later, he’s off doing dozens of his rallies before tens of thousands of his adoring acolytes, including five events in four states in one day.
Now, you and I may see this as grossly irresponsible behavior, creating a bunch of possible super-spreader events. But to his fans, he is portraying Strength and Resilience.
It’s like in that old Saturday Night Live skit. He is the Arnold clones, Hans and Franz. He’s going to “Pump you up.” Meanwhile, the other guy, he says, is hiding in his basement like a “girly man.”
Never underestimate the appeal of toxic masculinity, especially mixed with half-truths. My gut says that the big blue wave didn’t come because those mysterious undecided voters leaned red. And possibly because his supporters lie to pollsters.
“The unhinged, dangerous, Democracy-destabilizing thing”
He gave a speech at the White House around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday in which he prematurely declared victory. This despite the fact that “millions upon millions of legitimate votes were still being counted. As Vanity Fair noted: “The goal, in all of its authoritarian bluster, was to get out in front of a result that might not land in his favor.”
Now, “the networks quickly and aggressively called bulls**t on Trump’s remarks, either breaking away from the speech or butting in with fact-checks. ‘We are reluctant to step in but duty-bound to point out when he says, ‘We did win this election, we’ve already won,’ that’s not based in the facts at all,’ said MSNBC’s Brian Williams.
His colleague Nicolle Wallace put it this way: ‘It’s straight-up autocratic malarkey, and what we have to keep in mind is that he’s not the boss of the counting…”
“CBS threw up a graphic stating, ‘CBS NEWS IS NOT PROJECTING A WINNER IN THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE,’ and Norah O’Donnell described Trump as ‘castrating the facts…’
“But perhaps the most noteworthy analysis was that seen on Trump’s frenemy network, Fox News… At a historic and uncharted moment like this, it was crucial to have a respected veteran newsman like anchor Chris Wallace telling the viewers what they needed to hear.
“‘This is an extremely flammable situation, and the president just threw a match on it,’ Wallace said. ‘He hasn’t won these states. Nobody is saying he’s won the states. The states haven’t said that he’s won.’
“The question is, did the viewers believe him?”
Where he leads, they will follow
Apparently not. Because the media, he keeps telling them, is fake. This despite the fact the shift in vote count was predictable.
“Dozens of [his] angry supporters… converged on vote-counting centers in Detroit and Phoenix as the returns went against him Wednesday in the two key states. The folks pounding on the Plexiglass in Detroit chanting “Stop the Count” made the NBC News on Wednesday. I feared for the wellbeing of the election workers inside.
Demonstrators, some armed, gathered at the government office in Maricopa County, AZ yelling, “Kill Fox,” and “Count the Vote.” Reportedly, the group became so threatening that the work of counting the vote had to be ended for the evening.
But djt apparently overcame the COVID. So he must be America Strong, even if he leaves it to his idiot son-in-law to “Let the Markets Decide America’s COVID-19 Fate.”
His fans appreciate his disdain for “political correctness.” He orchestrates his rallies as places to express their anger: “Fire Fauci,” “Lock Her Up.” Yet they’re OK with him lying to them about the seriousness of the pandemic, pushing conspiracy theories, dismissing climate change, pandering to racists, using the government for personal gain, and ruining our international reputation.
Yes, he suggests he’s for individual liberty, but it’s for those who agree with him. Lower taxes but really for the rich. Smaller government when it involves human services or the environment, but not the military.
My rational brain says his fans are crazy. But I also have to admit I’m just not experiencing his persona the same way as they do. And it’s not just the one person but Trumpism I just don’t grok.
Public is or Public are: “British English tends to see either a plural or singular verb, pronoun or noun as acceptable, depending on the context in which the collective noun is used. American English, however, is considerably more rigid in sticking with the singular. Though they too may reconsider occasionally, based on context.”