Faux News: President Declares End to the Pandemic Crisis, Declares That All Businesses Reopen

In a press conference today, a smiling President Trump, flanked by Vice President Pence and Attorney General William Barr on one side and Senators Lindsley Graham and Mitch McConnell  on the other, declared that the Covid-19 pandemic crisis is over and that all businesses will reopen on the day after Easter. After the short announcement he turned the podium over to the head of the Coronavirus Crisis Team, the Vice President, who praised the President for the next 15 minutes crediting the President’s courage, wisdom, intelligence and good looks for almost single-handedly conquering the virus. The others on the podium nodded in response and interrupted the presentation by the Vice President eleven times.

The President then returned to the podium to answer questions. Here is the unedited transcript of his remarks:

Trump: “Thank you, Mr. Vice President, for the wonderful job you too have done. As the American people know, it is no fun staying home especially when it is not necessary, so now they all can go back to hugging, kissing and handshaking, riding on airplanes, spending their money in bars and restaurants, investing in the stock market, and attending my rallies. The economy and the stock market will come back like nothing you have ever seen. All of the agony the American people have gone through in the past couple of weeks is due to the Democrats desire to torture the American people and  blame it on me. The nightmare is over at last. I will be celebrating on April 15 with the largest rally ever held. And Hunter Biden will not have a chance in November.

Reporter 1: Did you say Hunter Biden? Did you mean Joe Biden?

Trump: Next question.

Reporter 2: Where are all the health professionals? Where is Doctor Fauci?

Trump: They are no longer needed since we are over the crisis. Actually, Doctor Fauci is on his way to Venice where he and his family had scheduled a vacation a long time ago.

Reporter 3: But there are thousands of more cases happening every day in the U.S. and around the world, and the numbers are increasing exponentially? So are the deaths. Why would you stop the lockdown now?

Trump: Look at what it is doing to the economy and the stock market. Do you have any idea how much money I have lost? Because of the unnecessary lock downs, my hotels have lost hundreds of millions. I myself have lost billions. Does that bother me? Of course not. I was a multibillionaire when the American people overwhelmingly elected me, and I will remain one. I have so much money that a few billion for me here and there is not that important, but I am thinking about the other hard working American people who have been ruined by the lockdowns, you know, the Fortune 500 CEOs, the bank presidents, hedge fund managers, the lawyers and tech entrepreneurs. They are all really hurting right now. I am doing this to help the American people.

Reporter 4: But the American people are dying, and the health experts say it is only going to get worse.

Trump: This is what gets me about the Fake Press. How many have died in the U.S. so far? What—maybe around 600? That is peanuts. Peanuts! Do you know how many people die in the U.S. from the flu every year? About 50,000! And we don’t shut everything down. And from automobile accidents? What, maybe 30-35,000 and we don’t keep people from buying cars. And along comes this Cartohona Virus, and all the Chicken Littles start saying the sky is falling, and all of a sudden, we see lockdowns. Then the economy tanks. And do you have any idea of how much that is costing me? I am telling you the lockdowns and the so called “distancing” are killing the economy and killing the stock market and killing jobs, all because of a handful of dead people who would probably have died anyway since most of them were old to begin with.

Reporter 5: Do you mean the coronavirus?

Trump: Whatever. Next question. Actually it is the China Virus.They started it and as far as I am concerned it is their fault so from now on I am going to refer to it as what it is–the China virus.

Reporter 6: But this is just the beginning. Look at what is happening all over the world. Almost 400,000 cases, 17,000 deaths so far, and the experts say that it will get much worse. So many countries are now in lockdown. They compare it to the flu epidemic of 1918 which killed millions world-wide and almost 700,000 in the U.S. They say that if we do not take drastic precautions now, it will be too late, and over two million people in the U.S. could die. Almost half the population could be infected. Your own health experts have said as much. Doctor Fauci for example.

Trump: He is now on vacation in Italy, thank you. Anyway, so what if two million people died in the U.S.? That is less than one percent of the population, no big deal, if you ask me, especially since most are old codgers anyway or have preexisting conditions. And besides there are Fake Experts like the ones at your failing newspaper, the New York Times, and then there are Real Experts like the ones on Fox News. The Fake Experts will try to make you think that climate change is happening and that we should move away from fossil fuels. They are the ones complaining about the so called pandemic. The Real Experts like those who are with me today on the podium and like those who come to my rallies, they know better. They know that all this pandemic stuff is much to do about nothing. So I am ordering all restrictions lifted on April 12, Easter Day, and I want to see everyone in church that day, no more of this tela-worshipping, and am telling the stock market and the economy that you are now free to recover. Go about your business. This will be a great day for the American people. And I will tell you, this will put a nail in Hunter Biden’s coffin.

Reporter 7: Mr. President, Hunter Biden is not running for President.

Trump: That is what you think. Press conference over.

 

Movies To Help Get You Through the Long Ordeal

We have all been affected by great movies, an art form that combines music, acting and photography in ways that if done well (which is indeed rare) can take us to another realm.

Here are some of the ones that have had an impact on me. You probably have seen most of them, but if we are cooped up for a very long time, you may want to take another look. They all fall into the category of masterpieces in my view.

  • The Pawn Broker (1964), probably Rod Steiger’s best performance, both disturbing and hopeful.
  • Bergman’s trilogy (1961-1963), Through A Glass Darkly, Winter Light, and the Silence. Also my Bergman favorite, Wild Strawberries (1957).
  • The Killing Fields (1985), about Cambodia based on the life of Dith Pran during the takeover by the Khmer Rouge.
  • A Thousand Clowns (1965), first glimpse of the early 1960s. Jason Robards’ best performance.
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Spielberg’s finest but also I would throw in the first Indiana Jones (1981) movie too.
  • Star Wars I (1977) and American Graffiti(1973) by George Lucas.
  • Doctor Strangelove (1964), Kubrick’s anti war masterpiece. Still funny (and scary) after all these years. Also Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Full Metal Jacket (1987).
  • West Side Story (1961), Sondheim and Bernstein’s brilliant collaboration. Directed by Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise.
  • Doctor Zhivago (1965), a David Lean classic epic. Also his Lawrence of Arabia (1962).
  • The Graduate (1967), introducing Dustin Hoffman, directed by Mike Nichols.
  • Seven Beauties (1975), Italian film by Lena Wertmuller. Pretty hard hitting about pre fascist Italy.
  • Rebel Without A Cause (1955), introducing James Dean. Coming of age in the 50s.
  • The Grande Illusion (1937), by Jean Renoir. World War I French film.
  • Timbuktu (2014), sleeper and the only current film on my list of impact films. Director is from Mali. Very artistic. Beautiful Boy (2018) is also current and very good but emotionally draining as, I am afraid to say, are many on my list.
  • The French Connection (1971), fabulous crime thriller with Gene Hackman.

There are surely many more. Feel free to add your favorites in the “comments” section.

 

Pandemic Distraction: “Apple Cares”

During the past week while Embry and I remained in self-quarantine, due to our exposure to someone who had Covid-19,  I have done three things and only three things: first, worry about the coronavirus; second, via phone and computer, try to stay in touch with family and friends and stay involved with the nonprofit boards I serve on; and, finally, try to get my computer working properly. The last item is the subject of today’s blog post.

 I am an Apple devotee. I own an iMac desktop, a Mac laptop, an Apple Watch and an iPhone. I am all in. I also have had good experience with the help I have received from Apple Help on the phone. Someone calls you right back and these experts seem to know what they are doing. The dozens of Apple people I have talked to over the years have generally been courteous and understanding.

 “Betsy” (cannot remember her real name) was the Apple expert that I received help from yesterday. If I had to place her accent, I would guess Brooklyn, “LongGiland” or maybe “Jouesy.” The conversation started like they all do:

Betsy: “And to whom do I have the pleasure of speaking with today? First and last name, please.”

Me: “Joe Howell.”

Betsy: “So, Joe, how can I help you today?”

Me: “Well, you are the sixth Apple person that I have talked to this week regarding my computer problem. So far no one has been able to fix it. And I have a case number you can refer to, in fact five different case numbers. The problem started when the screen saver would not come on and the computer would not turn off by itself, and that began about a week ago, then it morphed into the computer locking up all the time, so I had to shut it down and restart it several times a day, and then it stopped getting emails. Yesterday I replaced my old operating system with Catalina, the latest operating system, and that was supposed to solve the problem, but it didn’t.”

At this point there was a pause while Betsy reviewed the case notes others had written. She then initiated the drill that her Apple colleagues had all followed in previous phone calls. First the screen sharing, then the pointing with a red arrow, directing the fool at the other end exactly where to click. This was followed by clicking the “sleep” option about a dozen different times to test if the problem had been fixed after making the changes, but no success. The computer screen remained on. Then the computer locked up. Restart. More changes. More lock ups. And on this went for close to an hour.

Betsy was beginning to lose patience. Her tone of voice was never all that gentle to begin with, but now she sounded more like a drill sergeant. “Do this, do that, follow my instructions, watch the pointer for god sakes, pay attention.”

Nothing worked.

Betsy: “Joe, you have got to try.”

Me: “I have been trying for six days!”

Betsy: “Well, you have not been trying hard enough, Joe.”

Me: “So what do you suggest?”

After a long pause during which time I heard what sounded like Betsy taking several deep breaths, she directed me to hold down the “control” key, the “command” key, and the “r” key and the “p” key all at the same time. If you have an Apple keyboard, you can see where all those keys are. The first two are at the bottom left and the “r” and “p” keys are near the top and almost at opposite end of the keyboard. Holding all four keys down at the same time was actually not all that hard but could not have been accomplished without using two hands. Then came the hard part: turning on the computer while keeping the four keys pushed down. The on-off button on a Mac desktop is located on the back of the computer. The conversation continued:

Me: “That is not possible. I can’t reach the off-on button without taking my hands off the keys.”

Betsy: “Yes you can, Joe.”

Me: “I am trying. For goodness sake, it is located on the back of the computer!”

Betsy: “Try harder, Joe.”

For the next 15 minutes or so I gave it my best effort. Using my thumb and index finger I freed up my little finger, which I  stretched like a contortionist at the circus might do  so I almost could press down the on-off button; but every time I thought I had made it, my fingers on the keyboard slipped, and I had to start over. Each time I failed there was another sigh on the other end of the line.

Me: “Who designed this computer anyway? What were they thinking?”

Betsy: “Joe, Apple can only help those who help themselves.”

At this point I had a brilliant idea. Embry! She was in the other room working on a report. I told Betsy to hold on, rushed out of my office, and hollered that I was in the middle of a crisis and needed her help immediately. Looking bewildered she came in and then held down the four keys while I pushed the on-off button. Voila! We did it.

Whatever was supposed to happen next did not happen. Chalk up another failure.

Embry departed, shaking her head.

There was another sigh from Betsy, followed by another long silence.

Me: “Well, don’t worry about it. No one else at Apple could fix it either. I will just take it into an Apple Store.”

Betsy: “No you won’t.”

Me: “Why not?”

Betsy: “They are all closed and will remain closed until the pandemic is over.”

Me: “Does this mean the computer can’t be fixed?”

Betsy: “Not necessarily. You might be able to go to an independent contractor and I will give you the name of one near you. Where to you live?”

Me: “Washington, DC.”

Betsy: “Is that on the East Coast or West Coast?”

Me: “Washington, DC?”

Betsy: “Yes, that is where you said you live, didn’t you?”

Me: “Washington DC is the capital of the United States. It is on the East Coast.”

Betsy: “Thank you.”

When Betsy said the closest independent contractor was in Baltimore and not taking appointments for the next couple of weeks, I told her to forget it. I gave up. I did not keep track of the time I had allocated to this task but am sure it approached what used to be a full day’s work at the office each of the six days before everyone started working from home. Maybe that was a good thing. It took my mind off the coronavirus.

Her concluding remarks were decidedly more cheerful, “Joe, it has been a pleasure serving you today. Is there anything else you would like Apple to help you with today?”

I hung up the phone.

I stumbled out of the room, dejected, to catch the latest on the pandemic. When I returned about a half hour later, to my astonishment the computer had put itself to sleep. It has been working perfectly ever since.

I remain puzzled but am asking no questions. Hey, you take what you can get. Could this be an omen for the pandemic that it might not get as bad as we think and that in the end we will pull through? Life, you know, is full of surprises. You give it your best shot and then let the chips fall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 11, 2020

Like most of us who were alive in 1963, I can remember where I was when I learned of the assassination of President Kennedy. Like most people, I can also remember the time and place when I saw on tv the collapse of the World Trade Center in 2001. Both events were watershed moments when the world changed its course. The before and the after were different.

 I think what most people will remember from yesterday is the image that came on the screen around 4:00 PM of Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, with the caption that they both now have contracted Covid-19. Of course, other events also happened on March 11. The World Health Organization officially declared the novel coronavirus a world-wide pandemic. The stock market continued its collapse, putting the market into bear market territory, having lost almost 20 percent of its value since the collapse began only a few days ago. The NCAA announced that all tournament games would be played without spectators. The NBA halted all games. All Episcopal churches in the nation’s capital were ordered by the bishop to be shuttered for an indefinite period.  And President Trump in one of his few addresses to the nation read in a garbled, monotone voice from a teleprompter in an effort to comfort the nation. For the first time, perhaps, he was willing to admit that the pandemic is not fake news dreamed up by Democrats to make him look bad. As to a credible, reassuring, effective response to the crisis, however? Not so much.

But remembering these other actions and events  pale when  compared to remembering that photo of Tom Hanks and his wife and their tweet that followed. “Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach to it, no? We will keep the world posted and updated. Take good care of yourselves.”

Tom Hanks! How could this happen?  If it could happen to him, it could happen to anyone. Now  the pandemic has a face.

March 11, 2020 is the day we Americans got the picture. We—all of us—are at risk, and our whole planet is facing a catastrophe unlike anything we have experienced in our lifetimes. We are suddenly in a new place, in uncharted waters. We do not know where this is headed or where we will end up, but what we do know is that it is not going to be pretty.

In Washington just about everything that can be postponed or cancelled is being postponed or cancelled. Meetings are no longer in person but via teleconferencing. Anyone who can is working from home. People are stocking up on food and supplies. Most people are elbow-bumping instead of shaking hands, and we are washing our hands every time we think of it. We are avoiding crowds. Who knows? Maybe this will help. But still….

In fact, Embry and I are self-quarantined because we have been in close contact with someone who has been sick and who attended a conference a few weeks ago where a half dozen or so people have come down with Covid-19. He is now quarantined and awaiting tests results, which if positive, could impact us. We should know Monday.

The reason that I believe March 11 will go down in history as a pivotal day when the before and after are different is that this is the day that the facts all seemed to come together to confirm that the pandemic is now inevitable. In fact, it is breathing down our necks. Conceivably as many as 100 million could be infected in the U.S. and as many as two million could die. That would translate to about 5,500 deaths from this disease per day in the U.S. assuming that it takes a full year for the pandemic to run its course. How can our healthcare system handle this? What will be the economic consequences? What will be the human consequences? How many will lose their jobs or pay for the care they need?  Everyone who survives will know someone who had this disease, and many who survive will know someone who died from it. Everyone’s life will change.

Brace yourself.

 

 

The Address to The American People That You Will Never Hear

My fellow Americans, I am speaking to you from the Oval Office tonight because the world is facing a major health crisis, which according to many experts could be unlike anything experienced in our lifetimes. To be clear: this is not a time to panic. Rather it is a time to mobilize forces in order to reduce the potential harm that the Novel Coronavirus, the cause of the disease now called Covid-19, could do to people living in the United States and throughout the world. In the U.S. we have one of the best health systems in the world; and with proper leadership, planning, and all-out mobilization, we will prevail– but, still, not without challenges to overcome.

Throughout the world some countries are prepared and are taking the correct steps to try to contain the virus and prevent it from spreading. Others are not able to take the necessary steps due to limited resources. For this reason, the response needs to be global and coordinated, and the United States needs to a leader in this international effort.

First, a word on background. Why should we fear the Novel Coronavirus and why are people making such a big deal of it? Afterall, right now—March 9, 2020– there are only about 550 confirmed cases in the U.S, and just over 100,000 in the world. Only 22 people have died in the U.S, and only approximately 3,900 worldwide. This is a tiny fraction of the number of flu cases reported each year, which total over a  million in the U.S. and result in 30,000-40,000 deaths in a typical year in our country. So, what is the big deal?

There are several reasons that this is a big deal:

  • First, the Novel Coronavirus is spreading very rapidly throughout the world and is highly contagious. Some fear that this is just the beginning of a pandemic, which could affect hundreds of millions of people all over the world and could possibly rank up there with the infamous 1918 “Spanish Flu” pandemic, which took more than 50 million lives before it eventually petered out in 1920. It infected over 500 million people, more than a quarter of the world’s population, which was then only about 1.8 billion. Compare that to our world population today of 7.6 billion. If anything even close to the Spanish Flu pandemic were to occur, we could be looking at almost 2 billion infections worldwide including 92 million in the U.S. The number of deaths could be as high as 1.5 million in the U.S. and 200 million world-wide.

 Of course, no one is saying this is going to happen. What experts have been saying, however, is that we are    long overdue for a major pandemic. Some are saying this could be the Big One.

But the point is right now we do not know. The prudent thing to do is to hope for the best and to plan for the worst.

  • Second, the virus appears that it can be transmitted by people who show no symptoms, which is making it much more difficult to contain.
  • Third, while we are continuing to gather information regarding the virulence of this virus, it appears that the fatality rate is significantly higher than that of the typical flu, where about .1% of the affected patients die. The fatality rate associated with Corvid-19 is estimated to be between 1.0% and 2.0%. In other words, while it is still relatively low compared to the Spanish Flu of 1918 or the SARS virus, it is still potentially deadly for some—especially the elderly and those whose immune systems have been compromised. It is serious business.
  • Fourth, the world is a very different place from what is was in 1918. The world population is over four times larger, more interconnected, and more people travel, making the spread of the disease potentially much faster and broader.
  • And finally, it is already having a profound impact on the global economy. The U.S. stock market is volatile and unstable, and global commerce and productivity are affected, as we are already witnessing. If not addressed aggressively and wisely, the Novel Coronavirus could trigger a world-wide depression.

The news is not all bad, however. We can lick this monster. We have the intelligence and expertise to do so. But we must act now, and we must act aggressively. Every day lost makes it harder to get ahead of it and to stop it in its tracks. Frankly, we have already delayed decisive action too long and have had serious missteps such as not getting the testing kits out in a timely manner or devoting the substantial resources required. The $8 billion recently authorized by Congress is a start but only a start.

In other words, we are starting late, but not too late.

We can do this, but not without an aggressive, quick response similar to what we have done in the past with regard to armed conflicts. This is why I am proposing the most ambitious response that our nation has ever undertaken to address a health crisis. I will need the support of Congress to do this. I will need the support of the American people.

Keep in mind that the first line of defense in containing and treating the symptoms of Covid-19 are the state and local community clinics and healthcare delivery systems, local hospitals, physicians, and health care professionals. The role of the federal government is to get them the resources they need to fight and contain this disease in their communities, to coordinate the effort on the national level,  to fund the costs associated with programs designed to contain and treat the disease, and to fund  the research to develop a vaccine.

Here is what I propose:

  • First, to pass legislation which makes it possible to reduce the exposure and risk associated with the coronavirus and to help contain it. The first initiative would be for a period of time to require all workers to receive sick pay. This is important because most hourly and minimum wage workers who miss work for any reason do not get paid for the time they miss. This encourages people living on the edge financially to go to work regardless of how they feel. We do not want any people with the Covid-19 disease working or taking public transportation where they would infect more people. Details will need to be worked out along with time limits, but the point is if you are sick with the disease caused by the Novel Coronavirus, you should stay home or go to the hospital and  get the help you need without a big  loss of income. The federal government would fund this program.
  • Second, and related to this, is removing the barrier related to the costs associated with getting medical attention. In consultation with experts, I am proposing to establish for those who do not have direct access to a physician or a community healthcare professional, a 24-hour hotline, which persons who may be experiencing flu or severe cold-like symptoms can call to determine whether to go to a doctor, hospital or pandemic care center for a test or to remain home. Associated with this effort will be setting up an advanced telemedicine communication system where the patient can obtain advice as to treatment and next steps. This service will be free of charge. In addition, those who are admitted to a hospital or quarantine center who lack insurance will not have to pay. Those having insurance will not be subject to copays or deductibles.
  • Third, we need to stabilize the world economy and calm the financial markets with appropriate subsidies to businesses affected by the Novel Coronavirus. A detailed plan for economic recovery will need to be worked out to assure that certain business and business activities are not wiped out and are given the opportunity to recover. This also will be funded by the federal government.
  • Fourth, we need to provide the necessary test kits to be able to determine quickly if the person has the disease, and we need to support and assist the medical “first responders” at the local and state level by assuring they have access to best practices and have an opportunity to share and learn from the experiences of others. The federal government will require states and localities to produce “emergency pandemic response plans and budgets” and will assist in providing resources to develop quarantine facilities, temporary hospitals and similar infrastructure to help contain and treat the illness. Funds will also be available to assist in staff recruitment and staff training. The federal government also will help get the word out to all Americans using advertising and social media reminding the American people of your role in fighting this disease by frequent hand washing, avoiding large crowds, temporarily ceasing hand shaking and hugging, avoiding opportunities for exposure, and using your common sense.  We will provide detailed guidelines for best practices by families and individuals and update this information on a regular basis.
  • Fifth, the United States will work closely with other nations and with the World Health Organization and the United Nations to share information and best practices and to provide resources to help contain the disease in foreign countries as may be appropriate.
  • Sixth, the federal government will oversee and coordinate the national effort and keep the public apprised and up to date on the conditions on the ground.
  • Seventh, the federal government will issue guidelines for school closures and cancellation of major conferences and events.
  • Finally, I will replace those currently in charge of coordinating this effort with seasoned health care experts, epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists. Anthony S Fauci has agreed to be in charge of this effort as the newly created position of  “Pandemic Czar.”

The first reaction, of course, by many will be to ask what the cost will be and how we plan to pay for it. These are very good questions and will be worked out with Congress in the weeks ahead. We will also get this information to the American people. Surely there will be give and take in order to  get the best bang for our buck.

However, my response to the question of whether we can afford a major anti-pandemic initiative is this: Would these questions be asked if the United States were invaded by a hostile adversary threatening to take over and destroy our country? We would not surrender. We would do what it takes to survive and to win. Experts are telling us that we could very well be faced with a similar choice. We do not have all the information yet, but if this pandemic could turn into anything like the flu pandemic of 1918, the impact on our nation and the world would be catastrophic. We must act now, and we must act decisively. We will proceed prudently and adjust spending as action on the ground warrants, but we must move forward.  I am confident that we will and that we will succeed.

Thank you and good evening.

 

–The President of the United States

 

** Contributor Steve Marcus provided important help in preparing this presidential address to the American people.

  

Faux News: President Assures Worried Nation

In answering reporters’ questions before boarding the Presidential Helicopter today, the president assured reporters that the major crisis affecting the nation will end: the volatile stock market will improve. He said the market drop is due entirely to anxiety about “the two woeful candidates” vying for the Democratic nomination.

“That is the only reason why the stock market is down,” the president said, “And if the Democrats would simply concede now, the market would bounce back. Take my word for it. These two low-lifes scare the hell out of the American people.  One is a Communist and the other a crook.  If either Bernie or Hunter Biden get elected, the stock market will go down to zero.”

When corrected by a reporter that actually Joe Biden was running for president, not his son, Hunter, Trump pointed a finger at the reporter and exclaimed, “That is what you think. When we get through with him, the nation will know the truth that it is really Hunter who is running.”

Several reporters asked the president about the coronavirus that is now spreading rapidly across the country, to which Trump answered, “Buy stock and buy it now! Lots of it.”

When reporters continued to press the president about the coronavirus, the president reluctantly responded, “Pence is on it. Most of the people who are dead are Chinese anyway, and that is good, and besides we know that this whole thing is basically a hoax started by the fake press to try to make me look bad. It is all a lie. It is all a fake effort to try to keep people from coming to my massive rallies. But the massive rallies will continue. The American people demand it. They love me. No one who comes to any of my rallies will get sick. They can touch anyone they want to. You have my word. The whole thing is a hoax, a big hoax. The people who are telling you to be afraid of the carcatona virus here in the U.S. are the same ones spreading lies about climate change and global warming when we know there is no such thing. They are all a bunch of wimps who are crying wolf and should be locked up.”

When corrected by one reporter that the virus is not the “carcatona virus” but the coronavirus, the president said “What difference does it make what you call it since it is all a lie? It is now time to go out and buy stock. Buy it now. Buy lots of it. If you do, I—I mean the American people– will come through this financial crisis caused by Barak Obama, Hilary Clinton and by the Democrats.”

 

Faux News, Letter to the Editor: Thank You, Mister President

Thank you, Mister President, for your assurances that the coronavirus is nothing to worry about and just another effort by the liberal, fake press to discredit you. You were right to gut the resources of the CDC for fighting global epidemics by 80%. A waste of taxpayer’s money. And I agree that the 12% decline in the stock market over the past three days is due exclusively to the Democratic debates. The very idea that any one of these fools could one day be President of the United States would cause anyone to sell off whatever stock he or she had. And I agree with you and Rush Limbaugh that the coronavirus is just another version of the common cold.

And most of all, Mister President, I want to thank you for putting Vice President, Mike Pence, in charge of the campaign to prove to the American people that we have nothing to worry about. Mr. Pence is known for his charismatic and courageous leadership, his independence, and his honesty and wisdom. He fought courageously for years against those who believed that smoking was a cause of cancer. He continues to stand up for the truth that evolution is a hoax and will  fight with  anyone who denies that  the universe was created in seven days. He is a strong believer that climate change is not happening. When he was Governor of Illinois or Indiana or wherever it was, he successfully blocked efforts to help AIDS victims, arguing that prayer is the answer. He will be a great leader in this effort to fight the liberal, fake press for spreading lies and encouraging panic. That any government statement about the fake disease must be approved by the Vice President in advance brings comfort and assurance to the people of the United States that we have nothing to worry about. This will cause us to buy back the stock we just sold, to spend more money, to travel more, and to work even harder for your reelection. Thank you, Mister President.

Mitch McConnell

Cat Nipped

One of the first important decisions made following the marriage between Joe Howell and Embry Martin, now approaching its 55th anniversary, was our decision in 1966 to adopt a cat. She was a cute little kitty we got from the pound in New York City, who, alas, died on the second or third day with us. I do not even remember if we had given her a name and do not remember what her illness was.  The only saving grace, if you can call it that, was that the tragedy happened so soon we had not become too attached to her.

 Not to be dismayed we immediately started looking for another kitten, this time avoiding the pound and heading to a pet shop on the Upper East Side, where we fell in love with a bluish, gray kitten who was part Siamese and part Russian Blue. We named her Minette (French for “kitten”), and she lived for almost 20 years. She could leap effortlessly from the floor to the top of an open door and was so smart that you thought she might be part human. You might even call her our first “child.” Her most extraordinary feat was surviving on the streets of  New York City by her own wits for over a week when our apartment sitter accidently left the door open, and she disappeared. We were traveling in Europe and did not learn of the incident until our return a few weeks later when we heard about the ordeal. After giving up hope, ten days after Minette’s disappearance, our apartment sitter happened to stumble upon the animal in the apartment lobby, pawing at the front door, trying to get in.

Minette was our favorite of all the six cats we have owned over the years—Maggie (short for “Magnificat”), then litter mates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and, finally, poor little Balaysa, (Portuguese for “beauty”) a tiny, black, shy creature that could not have weighed more than a pound or two, whom we adopted from our daughter, Jessica, when their pit bull terrified the animal so much that she spent most of her time hiding in a closet. Balaysa died in Embry’s arms when we were watching the Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination hearings  on TV. The cat was fine until Kavanaugh started his testimony following that of Dr. Ford. It was too much for the animal. She went into convulsions and was dead on arrival when Embry rushed her to the vet. We have no idea how old she was or what the actual cause of death was.

After being catless for about a year, this year, we were ready to adopt again, surely our last time. We  missed not having a furry creature around to hear purr and snuggle up with. Since years ago we started with a Russian Blue, we thought it would be nice to complete our cat companionship with another Russian Blue. We found a beautiful one on the internet, filled out all the forms, and were visited by the adoption agency social worker. Two days later Embry delivered the news:

“Just got an email from the cat adoption agency.”

“Great,” I said, “When can we pick this beautiful creature up?”

“We can’t.”

“What do you mean, ‘we can’t’?”

“We have been turned down. We are not qualified to adopt a cat.”

“What do you mean? We have owned six cats. Four of them out lived their life expectancy. In fact when you think about it, there have only been one or maybe two years that we have not had a furry, purring creature in our house or apartment. Are we too old?”

“No. It does not have to do with our age. We haven’t taken our cats for annual check ups.They called our last veterinarian and they spilled the beans. They said that we had not taken Belaysa in for annual check ups plus it is a law in D.C. that you have to.”

“You have got to be kidding! We never even took our kids  for annual check ups!”  

  She was not kidding.  Embry had answered honestly the social worker’s question  that we had not taken every one of our cats for an annual checkup, and the last veterinarian confirmed the truth.  

Matters could be worse, I thought. We could have been thrown in jail.

Since the agency is part of a larger network of animal adoption agencies, our name is now on their list of disqualified applicants. We are blacklisted. Our cat owner days would appear to be  over. I protested to the agency pointing out that four of our cats lived to be over age 15, with an average age of 17 when they died. I even offered to sign a sworn statement to take the cat for annual checkups.

Not sufficient. 

Keep in mind that the cat we were hoping to adopt  had been a stray and that if the agency  cannot find a suitable home for her, she will be put to sleep. If you go to the internet you will find hundreds of cats up for adoption in the Washington area. How many of these animals are not allowed to live because the agency rules out people like us? 

It is true that we did not bring Balaysa in for annual checkups.  We only brought the cat in twice.  But there is also a reason for this. The only thing they could find wrong with Belaysa the first time was her “bad teeth” and insisted that we have her teeth cleaned immediately, a somewhat bizarre request, which I reluctantly agreed to. After the cleaning I was scolded and directed to  brush the cat’s teeth every day–and floss them! And most important, teeth cleaning by a cat dental hygienist should occur quarterly.

I dismissed the absurd idea immediately; but when the bill came in a week or so later, I got the picture. The charge was something like $750.00: $250.00 for the hygienist and $500.00 for the anesthesiologist. And that was on top of the $150.00 bill for the routine visit. If we had followed the veterinarian’s instructions, we would have ended up in the hospital with hand lacerations and would eventually have had to declare bankruptcy.

So this is the world we live in today, I thought. There are way more animals put up for adoption than are able to be placed in loving homes. The ones that do not get adopted are put to sleep. And here is a loving, admittedly elderly, couple, but with a track record of owning cats who lived a very long time and, I might add, were happy. And that couple is now blacklisted from ever adopting a cat again because they missed an annual visit or two (ok, or three) to a vet who directs customers to brush and floss their cats teeth every day?

Oh, my goodness!

And over a week later as I post this sad account, the cat is still listed as up for adoption.

But don’t count us out yet. I am wondering that since we want a Russian Blue, maybe we could get one over there. We know several people who have adopted Russian humans.

 

 

 

Faux News: Democrats to Drop All Future Scheduled Primary Debates

Faux News has learned that the National Campaign Committee of the Democratic Party will cancel all future debates in the primary process for the Democratic nominee for president. When asked why at such a critical time the party is going to drop debates completely, a spokesman responded that careful analysis  has shown that Trump’s approval rating goes up by an average of three points after every Democratic primary debate. The recent debate that occurred in Las Vegas on Wednesday, he said, is expected to result in a five point jump for Trump. Six more debates would give Trump a 20-point advantage at the time of the campaign for the general election. It is a risk the Democrats are not willing to take.

Faux News has conducted a number of focus groups and interviews with people who viewed the Las Vegas debate and learned that most viewers were shocked and dismayed at the vitriol and name calling that went on between and among the six candidates on stage. One participant summed it up as follows: “They obviously despise each other and think that all the other candidates are either corrupt or incompetent or both. The only way they can score a point is to demolish an opponent, and they are doing a pretty good job at that. After two hours of hearing how terrible each opponent is, I have come to the conclusion that Trump is actually starting not to look so bad.”

Other people interviewed by Faux News expressed similar observations and concerns. Half of those interviews volunteered that they were leaving the Democratic Party. One said, “How could anyone remain in a party where there are such incompetent, corrupt, and evil people, who are supposed to be our leaders? Plus they all hate each other. Just look at them: Bloomberg is worse than Harvey Weinstein and likely to end up in jail for illegal stop and frisk orders in New York and from stealing money to make his fortune. Elizabeth Warren, whom I was going to vote for, is a hopeless academic who is going to take away my health  insurance and who screams at her debate opponents. Bernie is a communist who is going to build gulags and jail billionaires. Mayor Pete is a light weight who takes money from rich business people whom he will sell out to in the end plus he is still a kid. Good ole Joe tries hard but can’t get his act together and he is showing his age, and Amy is too conservative to get any votes from progressives like me plus she screams at her staff and can’t remember the name of the head of Mexico. We Democrats are doomed! Just look at what they said to each other, how they treated each other. Would you vote for anyone that is half as bad as any of the candidates on the stage has been portrayed to be by their peers?”

Recognizing the debacle that occurred on Wednesday evening, the Democratic leadership is in the process of inviting proposals for moving forward in a manner that does not permit the candidates to trash their opponents on stage and nudge more former supporters into the Trump camp. The most promising idea presented thus far is to abolish the debates altogether and, in their place, add a mud wrestling contest. There would be two groups, one for men and one for women, and all aspirants to the Democratic nomination could participate provided they signed a pledge, win or lose, not to verbally trash an opponent.  The winner of the men’s mud wrestling contest and the winner of the women’s contest would be the party’s nominees for president and vice president. They would draw straws to determine who gets to run for which office. The short straw holder would get to run for president.

A formal announcement regarding how the beleaguered party will proceed will be forthcoming by the end of the week.