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The Transition and the Pandemic

On Monday, Dec. 14, President-elect Joe Biden addressed the nation after the Electoral College officially rubber-stamped his win over President Donald Trump and proved he’s no Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who lifted up a Depression Era nation, carrying them on his back as he led the country out of the economic abyss.

Completely lacking any soul-stirring oratory, a bland Biden soothingly reassured all voters that the republic’s constitutional pillars were as stout as ever and that the outcome of the election was legitimate, just like a bevy of black robes had ruled in a multitude of court cases.

Routinely he thanked all the election workers for following the rule of law, said that President Trump was given every opportunity to contest the results of the election and got clobbered in the legal arena.

Biden said that it was time for “America to move forward” and “turn the page” on the election.

“In this battle for the soul of America, democracy prevailed,” Biden said. “We, the people, voted. Faith in our institutions held. The integrity of our elections remains intact. And so, now it is time to turn the page. To unite. To heal.”

On a positive note, and hopefully he’s up to the task, Biden vowed to be “a President for all Americans” and said he was ready to “get to work fighting the coronavirus pandemic and rebuilding the economy.”

Aside from those just-mentioned objectives, Biden’s number one priority should be getting the so-called “non-essential,” nearly forgotten millions of unemployed workers and rapidly failing small business owners (who employ the majority of the workforce) immediate and meaningful economic relief. Anything short of that accomplishment will reduce this country to an extended period of economic and social misery, and we’ve had more than enough of dealing with those conditions.

It appears that a temporary stop-gap deal may be worked out shortly as the Dems and GOP say they are close on a $900 billion package that would include aid for small businesses, the unemployed, schools, vaccine distribution and a one-time check of up to $700 for millions of lower-income Americans. Assuming they close the deal, it’s only a starting point for what needs to be a full economic recovery plan.

Transition news

While Trump remains obsessed on law-suiting (new phrase I just invented) to overturn his electoral loss, notwithstanding the fact that over 30 state and federal courts, including the Supremes, have ruled his claims lack merit and are devoid of any evidence, he even distracted himself with sour grapes “stolen election” ranting at this week’s White House “Vaccine Summit.” I’m sure the Summit was planned as an opportunity for him to take credit — mostly deserved, to be honest — for the vaccine breakthroughs with his Operation Warp Speed. But Trump being Trump, he could not resist the puerile urge to slight the Bidenites by not inviting anyone from the incoming Administration to the gathering, even though they’ll be ramrodding Pandemic public policy and vaccine distribution in 2021.

But while Trump appears to be sticking to his strategy of stink-bombing the transition process, word has leaked out that the White House Secret Service staff plans a thorough C-19 disinfect-deep-scrub of the 55,000-square-foot Presidential residence in the estimated five-hour interlude between Trump’s (presumed) exit and Biden’s arrival on Inauguration Day.

Jan. 20, 2021 may prove to be more than the grandly dignified star-spangled affair that we’re accustomed to, especially if Trump follows through with a proposed Counter-Inauguration at his Florida estate. It’ll be quite a show if he does, guaranteed.

Pandemic briefs

• Why we wear masks: Researchers using a military-grade infrared camera found how nearly invisible particles spread like smoke through the air every time we speak or breathe.

• Another good reason to mask up: New Hampshire’s newly appointed House speaker, Rep. Dick Hinch (R), 71, died of covid-19 a week after being sworn in at a ceremony where dozens of people wore no masks.

• On the other hand: The mayor of Dodge City, Kansas, announced her resignation this past Tuesday after getting death threats over the city’s mask order.

• According to Fish and Wildlife officials, California’s coastal waters are being polluted by discarded masks, gloves and disinfectant wipes. Come on people, we have enough problems with this damn Pandemic without folks acting like slobs.

• According to the Washington Post, the Trump administration is negotiating with Pfizer to secure more vaccines by spring, federal health officials said, after last week’s news that additional doses wouldn’t be on the way until June or July. This move comes after Pfizer’s report that other nations have rushed to buy its 2021 second quarter supply after the federal government turned down its opportunity to double its purchase of 100 million doses.

Idiot Selfies

I’m a free-style mountain and rock climber so it’s always astounded me when morons take selfies of themselves in dangerous environments and/or treacherous terrain. The first rule of climbing is mountains can kill you with no warning, so don’t do anything stupid to accelerate your demise.

Over the years, hundreds, if not several thousands of folks I call “Idiot Selfies” have killed themselves doing something stupid: Mugging and posing for what’s known as “extremist photos” that they post on social media.

Here’s an Australian report chronicling the latest extremist selfie stunt resulting in the untimely end of another idiot:

A 38-year-old woman fell to her death at Victoria’s Grampians National Park in Australia as her horrified family watched helplessly. Rosy Loomba reportedly climbed over a safety barrier to pose for a photo when she lost her balance and fell off the edge of the cliff.

When the police arrived at the scene, they planned to engage in a rescue operation but called it off after realizing that Loomba did not survive the 260-foot fall.

It took authorities six hours to rappel down the cliff-face and retrieve Loomba’s body.

Officials called Loomba’s death a tragic accident that could have been avoided.

“My message is: Stop this extreme photo taking for social media purposes,” Victoria’s Police Minister, Lisa Neville said. “Enjoy what we’ve got on offer. But you don’t need to do it in that extreme way. No photo is worth a life.”

Tourists routinely ignore the posted warning signs and take risky photos, a local tour guide told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“I don’t know how you can stop it happening, but maybe this incident will help,” Graham Wood said. “It’s a hard way to get people to adhere to what should be common sense.”

My final thought on the subject is as the old saying goes, “The curious thing about common sense is that it’s not all that common.”

(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live:

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