All Politics is Local

Voting Booth

Last month the St. Louis Board of Elections sent both Anne and I a letter. In these letters, were applications for absentee voting ballots. There were three applications, one for each of the three planned elections this year. Accompanying these applications was a letter that explained that in Missouri, a voter needs an excused absence, to be allowed to vote absentee. There are about half-a-dozen acceptable excuses. Anne routinely uses one of them when she works the polls as an Election Official. In the past, I’ve used another, when I was out-of-town on business travel. For all of these excuses, the voter must attest to the validity of their excuse and for most of these excuses, a notary must witness the voter’s signature. The one exception to this last rule is the excuse, “confined due to illness.” It was under the guise of this excuse that the election board sent Anne and I and all other county voters, sixty-years or older our letters. The letter went on to suggest that we share this idea with any friends or relatives that we thought would also benefit from this idea.

I expected some Republican pushback on the county’s action, what with their current animosity towards mail-in balloting, plus St. Louis county’s traditional Democratic political leanings. With Republican control of the state government it could be possible that they might take actions to scuttle this initiative, but Josh Hawley (R), our junior senator and a rising star in his party has signaled his acceptance of this move. So far that is all that I’ve heard on the subject out of the state capitol. The legislators probably have enough on their plates anyway.

This week, we both received our first set of absentee ballots. It is for the June election that had originally been scheduled in April. This is a municipal election and as such is not one of the Big ones. Still, it makes for a good trial run. About the only contested race is for our city mayor. The others that are for councilman or the school board are all uncontested. There are two propositions on the ballot. First, a school bond issue that asks to reissue old debit with today’s lower rates, meaning no new taxes and more money for the schools. I’ll let you guess how I am going to vote on that one. The other one involves the sewer district, but is now moot. If our ballots hadn’t been printed so early, it would’ve been removed.

So, what about the mayor? There is the incumbent, who I have met twice and his sole challenger, who I have not heard hide-nor-hair from. I suspect that this election’s big issue is the huge apartment building that is being built nearby. It is being constructed on the old grounds of a former public school and church. It includes a parking garage and about 187 units. There is some controversy about the impact on traffic that all of these new people will have in the neighborhood. This project is already well underway, such that the electorate’s only say at this point would be to throw the rascal out who approved it.

I am ambivalent on this issue. While the 187 new units in Altair at the Heights would make things more crowded, these new residents redress some of the people who were lost when the also recent nearby commercial development resulted in the condemning of other people’s homes. However, Altair’s rents that range up to $5,000+ hardly replace the kind of low-income housing that was lost. I find it hilarious that the relators are billing them as Clayton apartments. 


Marking Time

Another day,… Which day is it now? They’ve all run together as in a blur.

Today, Friday (I knew which day it was.), is the 75th anniversary of V-E Day. The V-E stands for Victory in Europe, this is the day that the Nazis surrendered on, after six and a half years of fighting and suffering in Europe, during World War II. We however, after only about six and a half weeks are ready to throw in the towel, get up off of the couch and return to the life that we all once knew. Quarantine be damned! Sorry, but it doesn’t work like that. Joking aside and comparing our “sacrifice” to those of the Greatest Generation, is laughable.

Still, some people are unable to even to do so little. The wimpiness being exhibited by these people is pathetic and no joke. With cries of live free or die, clueless of the irony of that statement, some “very fine people”, read gun toting thugs, Nazi sympathizers and generally deplorable, run around waving their Confederate flags and call themselves patriots and think that they are brave.

Of course El Stupido, the agitator-in-chief, has egged on these people, simply because he believes that their actions will help his reelection chances. His advocating the reopening of the country will not change the direction that our economy is heading. It’s going down, down, down. Today’s 20M+ jobless numbers for April, that gives us a 15% unemployment rate are not going to be reversed anytime soon. It is just magical thinking to believe this. You might as well be seeing unicorns. Through his bumbling inaction and mistakes we has wrecked the US economy and it won’t be put together again before November.

The worse part of his plan is that we will be squandering the efforts that we have already made. The virus will be again unleashed and all of the people who have died, will soon be joined by many more. It will get a whole lot worse than it has been, but the Donald may not be around long enough to see all of the damage that he has wrought. Yesterday, it was announced that his personal valet had tested positive and today a Pence staffer also tested positive. In a Whitehouse that doesn’t practice social distancing, how many more infections will there be?

I cannot believe that the President, such an epitome of physical fitness will fare well, when he gets infected. Of course there is plenty of bleach around. Watch his twitter feed over the next few weeks, if there is a halt to his telltale hateful tweets, then we’ll all know that he has gotten it. 

Stutter Steps

Panic Attack, Sherri Grob, 2013

When in danger or in doubt,
Run in circles, scream and shout,
Panic, Panic!

I’ve posted this photo before, but I’m reposting it here because its graphics are reminiscent of the Coronavirus and what I am calling its antibodies. This image was taken from a quilt that was part of the 2013 Paducah quilt show, called Panic Attack, by the artist Sherri Grob. In light of the ongoing pandemic, Ms. Grob seems almost prescient with her artistry, if I do say so myself.

So, we’ve reached the end of month two of lockdown from this pandemic and many people are saying enough is enough. Or are they? That remains to be seen. Missouri, my state, is poised to lift many, but not all restrictions that have kept us sheltering in place. Some other states are doing this even more aggressively, while others are hanging back, watching and waiting.

Anne and I walked yesterday. It was cold, blustery and there was a wee bit of precipitation along the way. Not the warm eighty plus of the day before. We did our long neighborhood walk that took us through the De Mun neighborhood, where we had first lived, forty years ago. There is a small business district there that up until a couple of months ago was doing quite well. All of its store fronts are still occupied. When the lockdown was initiated some stores shutdown. Kaldi’s was one of these. Others plowed on. Apparently, laundromats are essential services. Most chose a middle road, by offering takeout, but as of yesterday, most of those places had also given up.

Next month the governor will relax statewide restrictions. Locally, Saint Louis city and county will maintain their closures, leaving the De Mun businesses still shuttered. Around 80% of all of Missouri’s COVID-19 cases have been in the Saint Louis metro area, with the county and the city being hit hardest. Metro East will still be closed under Illinois statewide ban, but the three Missouri counties that surround Saint Louis plan on relaxing their restrictions.

What will these relaxations really mean though? Pretend that the county had followed the governor’s lead and relaxed its restrictions, then those shops and restaurants could be open the next time we walked by them. The buildings that house these stores are all old, likely straddling the century mark. That means that my modern standards they are also quite small, with not a lot of room for social distancing. Seating patrons safely would severely limit the number of tables that could be run. Can a restaurant still make a go of it with only a fraction of their tables being usable? Most restaurants don’t have the margins to operate at these reduced capacities. It is cheaper for them to just shutdown. And what about their staff? Is it really worth the risk of working, for hourly wages? Then there is the liability issue. What if one of your employees gets sick? Reckless endangerment suits seem like a loss leader in this time of Corona.

Sure, some businesses will reopen. Their reopening will garner all kinds of press and be blown way out of proportion to their actual economic impact. Then a few weeks or months will pass and incidents of infection will rise again. Politicians are betting that they can manage this rise. These are the same politicians that have done such a great job so far at managing this crisis. (Testing anyone?) The problem is that what these politicians are betting are people’s lives. Is that a bet that you would be willing to take? I certainly would not. It is too soon.

Rainy Day Blues

Lake McDonald, Glacier on a Rainy Day

I was going to post about going to post about the medical stylings of the Bleach Bum in the Whitehouse and even went so far as to create not one, but two pics for this purpose. Here they are, one and two. The first one is an entirely original creation, with an extra dollop of Photoshop. The second one is a mashup from two open source photos. The Clorox hand sanitizer came from the free photo website Unsplash and the caricature was created by the artist Donkey Hotey. Anne didn’t want to see his image on the blog though. This way you don’t have to look at them, if you don’t want to.

It has been a pretty blah Saturday. It was already raining before I got up this morning and it will likely still be raining after I go to bed tonight. Looking at the weather radar, a rain storm has been parked over Saint Louis all day and night. Its only motion is a slow cyclonic rotation, whose center seems parked right overhead. The sump pump will be running all night long. I don’t think that we’ll even get a walk in today. Oh well, into each life a little rain must fall. 

Beauty of the Game

Beauty of the Game

Hey Big Boy, let me see you swing that bat… This pictured poster is from the Negro Baseball League Museum in KC. Speaking of baseball, we are now moving into late April and the Cardinals have yet to lose a game. Even better though, the Cubs have yet to win one. I’ve also noticed that my YouTube feed of recommended videos has classic ball games featured now. That’s new. I guess this year is the season of past glories. Speaking of past glories there is a new  gigantic replica of the 2011 Cardinals World Series trophy that I want to see.

It is downtown and I think we can safely do a drive by, to check it out. Thinking of baseball, I am of course reminded of our biggest baseball fan, Carl. On our daily walks there is a new yard sign that has garnered amazing currency and also reminds us of him. It reads, thanks to everyone who is working in harms way.

Moving on—It is not often that I get verklempt while reading the mail. At the risk of TMI, I routinely get the mail wearing only my boxers. I’ve read that in some communities, men fetching the mail, without wearing pants is a problem and that the police have been alerted to this issue. Rest assure dear people there is no public lewdness involved in our mail delivery. The mail person places the mail in the mail slot, in the front wall of the house and upon hearing this, after waiting a minute, I get up off of the couch and retrive the newly placed mail through our interior mail slot door. It is really all quite proper, so don’t worry.

Anyway, back to my verklempt moment with the mail. Bill, junk, bill, a letter to Anne from the county election commission. Oh, no. Previously, I had implored Anne not to work the polls. Our next election is scheduled for June. It was originally scheduled for this month, but well, you know. So, my heart sank, until I turned to the next piece of mail. It also was the election commission’s, but was addressed to me. Opening it, I found a letter and accompanying documents that explained that since I am over sixty, I was being sent applications for absentee voting. My heart soared like an eagle. Blue, pink and yellow forms were there to apply for mail-in absentee ballots for the June, August and November elections.

In Missouri, a voter needs a valid excuse to absentee vote. Anne usually uses the excuse that she is an election official and I have sometimes in the past used the excuse that I would be out-of-state, on business travel. But the golden ticket is the medical excuse that includes “confinement due to illness.” I think that that fits perfectly here and apparently so does the election commission. The beauty of this excuse is that it is the only excused absence that does not require a notary. One only needs to testify to it. In the letter is the statement, “Please feel free to copy these applications for any friends or family who qualify.” I am no longer verklempt, but rather giddy with the prospects of this opportunity. I can already hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth from out-state Republicans, as the full weight of the Saint Louis electorate comes to bear in November. Here, the political game has just got real and that is the beauty of this game.

American Zombies

Protesting Zombies—Brains! We want brains. Give us some brains.

Ever wonder if you were surrounded by zombies? This picture from this week’s news shows two women doing their impression of Edvard Munch’s The Scream, two men donning Trump paraphernalia and some joker in a Guy Fawkes mask. Are these the faces of the resistance? Or are they deplorable signs of the coming next pandemic—The zombie apocalypse. It is no wonder that this photo went viral, they’re comical looking, like some B-movie extras, moaning and yelling.

I could while away the hours
Conferring with the flowers,
Consulting with the rain;
And my head I’d be a scratching
While my thoughts are busy hatching
If I only had a brain.

In zombie movies, brains always seem to be in short supply. People who were once people hunger for them and not having any of their own want other’s. This week, anti-social distancing protests erupted in the Midwest. Protesters who displayed no fear for their own health or safety and no concern what-so-ever about the health or safety of others, gathered in Michigan and Ohio, six feet separations be damned. What could go wrong? It is only a pandemic after all. You can take away my life, but you can never take away my freedum!

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Abby who?
Igor: Abby… Normal. Yes that’s it, Abby Normal!
Frankenstein: You put an abnormal brain in a 7′ tall, 54″ wide gorilla?

Meanwhile, the man who has never taken responsibility for anything, ever, eggs on these brainless fools with tweets like, “Liberate Michigan!” Except he shouts it in all caps, because nothing makes a point clearer than simply shouting your idea louder. Why are these people demanding that we reopen the economy, by Easter, by May 1st, immediately? Correct me if I’m wrong, but was it not only just yesterday that some 4,591 Americans died from the Coronavirus? Our largest single day death toll, at least so far, but go ahead throw open the barroom doors, we’ll party like there is no tomorrow, which for all too many will be true.

Calling Dr. Howard, Dr. Phil, Dr. Howard!

Last night, Fox News’s Laura Ingraham had on her show our nation’s eminent epidemiologist Dr. Fauci, but because she couldn’t maneuver him into any gotcha quotes, she chose to seek a second opinion. Enter Dr. Phil, who is not a real doctor, but plays one on TV. The gist of Mr. Phil’s argument was, people die all the time and life goes on. So, let’s get on with it. Let’s reopen the economy now. Sure people will die as a result, but they were going to die anyway. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon enough, at least for Phil.

Sometimes in life, you have to do what you should do, not what you want to do. Sometimes in life that means making tough decisions, sticking to them and then doing it all over again tomorrow and the day after that. Sometimes life is all sunny and bright, but sometimes it is stormy. This is one of those stormy times. Don’t be stupid and stand outside howling at the rain. Come inside, where it is warm and dry. Take up a hobby. Read a book. Relax and chill. Eat some brains.