Trump L’Oeil

Eye by Tony Tasset

Trompe L’Oeil is French for “deceive the eye.” It is a term used to describe an artistic technique that uses realistic imagery to create an optical illusion. It is also a term that sounds like it includes the US President’s last name. In French tromper means to decieve. In English Trump means the same thing. Abraham Lincoln, the father of the Republican party is once supposed to have said, “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” After more than three years, I think that we have finally arrived at the last phrase/phase of that saying. The Washington Post has kept a running count of the number of Trump lies while he has been in office. That tally reached 18,000, at the start of last month. That’s a heck of a lot of lying.

Since then, more than 36 million Americans have lost their jobs and the country is on pace for 100,000 US Covid-19 deaths by the end of May. Numbers like these are too large to lie your way out of, not that Trump won’t try. He can lie, he has lied and he will continue to lie, but like in Lincoln’s affirmation, the truth eventually comes out. Just as the weekly totals of American carnage continue to rise, Trump’s poll number are now falling. As the carnival barker that he has always been, he will continue to distract, misdirect and lie, but more and more Americans are daily awakening to their own true situation and it is not a pretty sight. While the scale of unemployment dwarfs the tragic losses from the virus, one was caused by the other. You cannot fix the economy until you cure the pandemic and there is no way that either of these changes will occur in the time that we have until the election. I don’t care how much bleach you drink.

Just as pandemics come, they also always go. It is the way of such things. It is just Trump’s dumb luck that this one occurred in an election year. He could have listened to his advisors, the expert ones, not the sycophants and if still unable to get out in front of this thing, make it look like he was at least trying. Instead, he distracted, misdirected and lied. Inevitably causing the Covid-19 tail, not to be pinned on the donkey, but rather on his own fat ass. Now he is stuck with it and no matter of wiggling will get it off of him. All signs are leading to his and his party’s suffering an election defeat of historic and monumental proportions. I just worry about how many people will have to die to bring down this clown.

And Now This

Cranberries

Joanie visited us. So, if the need arises for us to do some contact tracing, we can start with her. The reason for her visit was to return some books that Anne had lent her, but I think that she really wanted to see us. I invited her in and we kept six-feet apart, mostly. It was foolish and in the future, I’ll setup chairs outside, because this is how disease spreads. I heard that New York Governor Cuomo has said that fully forty percent of all currently hospitalized Covid patients in his state claim that they had contracted the disease without ever leaving their home. 

I tried something new for our special Saturday breakfast—spiced fried toast that had been transformed with an egg in a hole in the center of each slice. This was a first attempt and as Anne observed, instead of an egg in the hole, what we got was more like French toast. Still, it was a promising start. Next time, I’ll know better to make the hole bigger and I have to work on flipping the toast, without letting the egg leakout in the process, but that will come with practice. It took me a while to obtain my practice perfection at making avocado toast. Anyway, it tasted pretty good. Starting with a loaf of Zingerman’s bread, probably made all of the difference and we still have plenty of that left over.

The Missouri legislators wrapped up their annual session yesterday. Not much seems to have happened this year, what with the plague all about. For example, they made statewide, what St. Louis County had already done. That is voting by mail. Their “new” law seems like a repeat of the current law, the one that the county has already acted on. At least their hearts are in the right place.

Also in politics, we got a mailer from the challenger who is running for mayor. I had guessed right, he is upset about Altair at the Heights, the new building of apartments that is going up. His flyer questioned several other local properties undergoing or about to undergo development that I’ll have to checkout. I still have time to decide, before we have to mail in our absentee ballots.

And now this, I finally got around to watching last Sunday’s episode of John Oliver’s political comedy show, Last Week Tonight. The central theme of this episode was the US Postal Service and the trouble that it is in now. Hint: It has nothing to do with the Internet, Jeff Bezos, Amazon or even the Washington Post. Rather a 2006 law has saddled the Postal Service with insurmantable debt and left it no way to right itself. As is often the case on this show, Oliver has offered his audience an opportunity to participate and help save the Post Office. Apparantly, one can commision the Post Office to print vanity stamps, which can be quite lucrative for the USPS. This is what he has done, with a set of four Last Week Tonight themed stamps. I ordered a sheet of stamps. After I had placed my order, I was informed that because of “heavy demand” my order will be delayed. Which, I took as a testament to the power of slacker activism. 

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. 

#COVIDIOTS

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.