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Off the Record (March 25, 2020)

TRUMP SAID LAST TUESDAY he wants to send cash to Americans suffering from the coronavirus crisis. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin added that "The payroll tax holiday would get money to people over the next six to eight months. We're looking to send checks to Americans immediately. Americans needs cash now and the president wants to give cash now.. And I mean now — in the next two weeks." 

MNUCHIN said he was previewing the plan with the Republican leadership [sic] and would reveal more details later, but he suggested the amount could be more than $1,000, but only indicated a one-time payment followed by maybe another later, not a monthly amount. There would also be some income cut-offs. "You don't need to send people who make a million dollars a year checks," he said in a most un-Republican aside. 

TRUMP RE-APPEARED on-screen to promise, "We're going big." Of all the big winds blowing west out of the White House it better be more like five grand a month per adult American to keep unregulated capitalism limping along.  But, as of Monday, bail out talks were stymied because Republicans have so far refused Democrat demands that bail outs to major corps attach a major string: The money must also go to employees, not just the suites and stock buy-backs.

PRESS RELEASE FATIGUE: How many pressers from how many doctors does it take to tell us to wash our hands a lot and stay home and away from crowds?

THE UKIAH SAFEWAY one morning last week was busy but the panic buying seemed to have preceded my visit. There were no oranges or grapefruit, no bananas, and even the crackers were down to a few boxes. I expected to see all the paper towels, toilet paper and Kleenex gone and they were. Paper towels? Why? What's wrong with rags? And the preoccupation with toilet paper indicates that traumatic toilet training is more widespread than anybody thought. Note to the anally preoccupied: your shower can serve as a bidet. Think of your tp savings!

SUPERVISOR HASCHAK convened a "virtual meeting" of the Supervisor last Friday morning at 9am. Excuse me, Supervisors, but with an average of 10 people attending, live and on youtube, all your meetings are virtual. 

WHY NOT save us the suspense and simply post on your also unvisited County website a blow-up of a glaring CEO Angelo brandishing a rolling pin as she says, "Every goddam thing is cancelled. Go in your house, sit down and shut up. Don't come out until I tell you to. Or else."

NOT FUNNY, but I laughed at the tv news clips of people, mostly men of course, lined up for blocks at LA gun stores as every psycho in the country arms up. Mass gun sales are a solid indication that a whole lotta people have zero faith in government to maintain order in a crisis, and this baby is shaping up as a whopper. (A local lib complained that all handguns seem to be sold out. Handguns are useless when the maniac crashed through your door with a machete. Think shotgun. It stops everything to your front.)

AS A SENIOR CITIZEN, I am sensitive to the complaints of my fellow wheezes. So there's this old lady in front of a super market that has just announced that they will open early for "Seniors Only" because, as the elderly woman explained, "Younger people are grabbing items right outta my hand and pushing me aside." But as the camera lingered on the old girl I couldn't help noting that she was not only built like a linebacker but there was nothing frail about her. Good policy, though, because in some of these toilet paper stampedes the elderly have no chance at the Charmin.

EVERY TIME I hear someone begin, "As a…", I remember a locally (Boonville) famous deadbeat who was forever getting up at public meetings to say, "As a mother of two, I…" Didn't matter what the meeting was about she always introduced herself as if motherhood somehow doubly qualified her to say whatever she had to say. Which invariably concluded with a pitch for the rest of us to fork over cash to her "because I'm doing good work." 

A HEDGE FUND BILLIONAIRE got big media play last week with hysterical claims that "hell is coming" and "America will end as we know it" if America and the rest of the world isn't shut down immediately for thirty days. Bill Ackman said that the big hotel chains like Hilton and Marriott are closing and will not re-open. Ditto for the Las Vegas strip. Why Ackman is regarded as an authority on apocalypse probably derives from the media's instinct to prostate itself at the foot of money. A lotta scare talk isn't what we need now.

HERE IN MENDOCINO COUNTY I noted some churlish comments suggesting that auslanders hunkering down, or planning to, in uncontaminated (so far) Mendo's many transient rentals be discouraged. Why? A little biz of this type might help support the many small County restaurants, which are already suffering, but hanging on by offering food to go. But don’t come north, refugees. Mendo is closed.

A 5.2 QUAKE off Petrolia last Wednesday. Don't even think what the Big One might mean at this time. But speaking of which, the very best on the subject of quakes remains, "A Dangerous Place" by the late Marc Reisner. Along with the basic facts, you get a lively capsule history of California and its misplaced metropolises, like Frisco and LA, plus a likely scenario of what will happen in the Bay Area when the Big One strikes.

IN PASSING, Reisner describes Father Junipero Serra's solution to vexing erotic dreams. The padre kept a nail-studded board over his bed for whenever the houris disturbed his sleep. He'd force himself awake and beat the eros clean out of himself. 

LOOKING GOOD SO FAR, MENDO! Our naturally dispersed population has so far seen only a single positive test in the Gualala area ,and that one in a young, healthy woman who has self-quarantined. 

THE PRESS RELEASE DELUGE continues unabated. We get it. Everything is closed. If you need specifics, well, simply assume shutdown unless it’s on the short list of “essentials” — food shopping, healthcare, medications, pets. And how about one daily press conference at, say, 5pm broadcast on KZYX? As is, way too much repetition and, occasionally, misinformation.

GOVERNOR NEWSOM'S projection of 25 million coronavirus illnesses in the state before the beast subsides may be in the ballpark and, I suppose, worth announcing if the intention is to scare people into social distancing. Otherwise, his guess is as good as the next guy's.

AN ACQUAINTANCE told me that his wife of many years suddenly challenged him, "Come to think of it, I've never seen you wash your hands." He says he replied, "You're welcome to accompany me on bathroom visits but I can't guarantee your safety."

SHERIFF MATT KENDALL addressed some rumors going around the County. He said he had heard that some people are not observing the Shelter in Place order, and that some people have come to Mendo to avoid shelter in place in other counties. He wants to avoid forcing compliance, but if he has to he will. So, just follow the orders, he said. Got that? Questions? Call the County’s call center at 234-6052.

DR. FAUCI, the nation's top infectious disease expert, diplomatically clarified, that "There isn’t really that much of a difference of what we we're saying. The president feels optimistic about something, his feeling about it. What I am saying is that it might be effective. I’m not saying that it isn’t. It might be effective. But as a scientist and as we are getting it out there, we need to do it in a way as while we are making it available for people who might want the hope that it might work, you are also collecting data that will ultimately show that it is truly effective and safe under the conditions of COVID-19."

THE MARIN COUNTY Board of Supervisors plans to consider a resolution on March 24 that would prevent residents and business owners from being evicted because of a sudden loss of income tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. The moratorium would last until May 31. We badly need that resolution here in Mendo.

CASHING IN on the crisis we find US Senators Kelly Loeffler, Richard Burr, Dianne Feinstein and Jim Inhofe, all of whom short-sold stock holdings a week before the stock market started crashing. 

MILITARY PLANNERS are looking at these “extraordinary circumstances” and are preparing for a range of dire scenarios, including the possibility of widespread domestic violence and the deaths of the country's top politicians. In a report published Sunday, Newsweek revealed that standby orders were issued more than three weeks ago to ready Above-Top Secret contingency plans if “all Constitutional successors be incapacitated” and martial law needs to be imposed across the country.” “We're in new territory,” one anonymous senior military officer told Newsweek.

NEW YORK'S GOVERNOR, Andrew Cuomo on Sunday: "There is a density level in New York City that is wholly inappropriate. You would think there was nothing going on in parts of New York City. You would think it was just a bright sunny Saturday. I don't know what I'm saying that people don't get. I don't know what they're not understanding. This is not life as usual. None of this is life as usual."

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told the New York Times that it's a tricky business telling Trump "things he doesn't want to hear. What you need to do is continually talk about what the data are." Which Fauci (Geppetto! Geppetto!) has done a couple of times during Trump's rambling presentations. 

FOR INSTANCE, when Trump went off on a riff about malaria meds as a cure for coronavirus, Fauci quickly asserted that the dear leader was actually trying to say, "The president is talking about hope for people and it's not an unreasonable thing to hope for people."

HANDI-WIPES and other cleansing paper products have fouled Novato’s sewage plant, and wouldn't you have supposed people would know better?

MY FAVORITE Not-Handling-The-Crisis-Well was the obese couple flipping out at a checkout stand because they were only allowed one case of Mountain Dew. Second: the mysterious woman at Ukiah's Safeway who bought out the store's entire stock of bananas.

THE BIGGEST virus irony of all are the emergency socialist measures to shore up free enterprise. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Sunday it looks like every family is going to get a check for three grand, which won't be enough. Better up it to five, Steve, or there's going to be trouble. Remember Senator Grassley's famous remark that "Any society is only 9 meals away from a revolution." Or a can of Mountain Dew or a banana. 

WHEN MILLIONS MORE AMERICANS file unemployment claims this week, it will represent the highest level of unemployment in American history, much greater than the Great Depression. And Trump has warned that he may throw the entire nation into lockdown for two weeks, shutting all businesses across our unprepared 52 states.

FROM TOM ALLMAN, former Mendo Sheriff: "I have had well over 100 messages regarding Facebook rumors that we will soon be under Martial Law. Please do what you can to stop the scare mongers. Mendocino County is following the guidelines and the National Guard isn’t coming in. People have enough stress right now, without these horrid rumors. Thanks."

ANYWAY, if the Guard were to be called out they would be needed in the major population centers, not the outback. Get used to it, Mendo, we're not high priority. We don’t have enough people to even throw a decent disorder.


[1] This morning I went to my local Wal-Mart here in central Illinois. I think I saw a people in transition; not yet hysterical but aware something very bad was happening. Food riots soon would not surprise me.

Days earlier there had been some bare shelf space here and there. Now the toilet paper, paper towels, kleenex were all gone. Milk 80% gone, mostly skim and 1% left. The only eggs left were a few cartons of small brown free range chicken eggs selling at 4 times the price of normal eggs. Cold medicines 90% gone. Bottled water all gone, some soda left. Meats and canned goods were about half gone. Noticeable empty space in the freezers. Only fresh produce mostly in good supply.

I heard people complaining about not finding baby formula or diapers anywhere in town. (My mother in 1955 washed diapers by hand. This no doubt motivated her to implement an early and strict Germanic regimen of toilet training which has left me psychologically scarred to this day. But I digress.)

Welcome to dystopia world. Come for the epidemic; stay for the financial breakdown. When the banks can no longer finance trade, and the trucks stop rolling, and no one restocks the shelves, will we disappear like Ozymandias with the sands of time, – unwiped and unmourned?

[2] BIDEN? This is the same tired bullshit list that gets trotted out every election cycle to keep us in line with the centrist, republican lite corporatist fuckhead that the DNC chooses for us to vote for. Looking at Biden’s voting record doesn’t give me the slightest bit of assurance that many of these items won’t go the opposite way anyways. He voted for war. He voted for reductions/cuts to “entitlements” i.e., shit we pay for — he is not a Democrat. He lies as much as Trump does. Difference is he smiles more so we feel all warm and fuzzy inside while our liberties get stripped away and our tax dollars get wasted on complete horseshit. Sorry, but not sorry. Your candidate wants my vote? Come and earn it. Otherwise, kick rocks. If the DNC insists on this modus operandi they will lose again. This time worse than 2016. Wake up and stop falling in line with this piece of shit Democratic Party. It’s wholly owned by the donor class. For them a loss in 2020 is a win. They still get your money and you still get jack shit.

[3] That’s the way it is in a capitalist system. No business because of the virus? Fire staff and send them home to shelter in place. So the working class is without money, without a way to pay basic expenses. That is a failure showing the inhumane face of capitalism.

That is not the way it is in a social democratic country like Denmark. The president of Denmark said to the employer, yes send them home because of the virus, but you cannot fire them, and the government will pay 75% of their salary. A more humane way to treat people, because people in Denmark are not just cogs in a capitalist market, not widgets. They are recognized as human beings and are treated with dignity and they are supported economically by their Social Democratic government. Denmark is one of the most egalitarian societies in the world. The Danish welfare model ensures a healthy work-life balance as well as free education and healthcare for all. That is possible in a market economy where the Government redistributes wealth equally instead of allowing for a huge gap of wealth inequality.

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