COVID-19 DIARY – THAT RAGGED OLD FLAG

February 11

At the same time I counted down the days until my trip to Sydney to attend a friends wedding, the second impeachment trial of Ballbag got under way.

I don’t know what to tell you that hasn’t already been said.

Ballbag was unique to me in the way he would talk, the actions he would take, the incompetence and laziness he displayed. The hypocrisy. The arrogance. The complete disregard for human life.

As a swing vote who believes that we are all nuanced in our ideologies and no politician is worth are unquestionable loyalty. That consensus is how we build good works.

Ballbag infuriated me in a way that I cannot deny.

And yet his supporters keep the faith and despite his unprecedented shames he holds the base of the Republican party.

So its’ worth remembering some of the information that came to light in the impeachment about the attack on the Capitol.

How well organised the rioters were, how terrifying it must have been for the police and staffers that were there on the day.

Republicans too were literally were under siege that day, some of them feared for their life and days later they have said, “The country needs to move on.”

Well no one is moving on to a better place while shit like this is acceptable in America.

Fortunatley there are Republicans like Congressman Adam Kinzinger who stand in stark contrast to so many of their cowardly peers like Mitch McConnell or Ted Cruz.

On the Australian Broadcasting Corporation‘s show Planet America there was Trump’s former impeachment lawyer Alan Dershowitza made a compelling arguement legally for why the Impeachment should not succeed.

I will always feel that it shouldn’t have come to this.

That the Republican party should have demanded his resignation. That his Cabinet led by Vice President Mike Pence shoudl have forced it. That it wouldn’t have even required courage on their part because the American people would have demanded it from them.

As always I felt the great comedian Dave Chappelle had an uncanny knack for summing up the current situatuion.

In the wake of the Democrats winning the Senate with two election wins in Georgia state authorites changed the law.

On the 25th of March Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed into law a restriction on voting rights.

There was a new ID requriement for those voting by mail mail and tighter deadlines for mail ballots. It restricted mail ballot drop boxes and allowed the sate to takeover over election administration from county election board if it deemed it necessary. The Presidential election showed certain pockets of a state will go one way over another and tip the balance. 

This followed the defunding of the postal service the previous year in the lead up to the election during a pandemic across the country and stock standard tactics like having less amount of voting centres in certain areas.

Stop the steal indeed.

Fifty five years after President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act the struggle continues.

I don’t pretend to have the answers but making it so that every American votes in every election might be a good place to start.

As for the impeachement, I didn’t hold my breath and when I heard the news I was sadly not surprised.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW

Viewpoint: What the Capitol riot means for US foreign policy - BBC News

January 7

On Thursday I was at work in Australia, I went home and watched nothing but news. What can I tell you that hasn’t already been said?

In the moment a few things came to my mind.

If you allow a leader to question the legitimacy of an election and the legitimacy of a government and its institutions then none of those things will be respected and they will be freely attacked.

When you have a President that holds nothing sacred then nothing will be.

I can’t pretend I knew this would happen. I watched experts ponder what would come of the instability that Ballbag was formenting. I said to a work colleague at the time of the election that secret service agents for both President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris and Ballbag’s had a tough few months ahead of them.

But I didn’t see this coming….

And yet in the moment it happened I thought sadly…I believe…-“Well of course this is what happened.”

How the Attack on the Capitol Happened, From Planning to Siege to Arrests |  GQ

I’ve thought about it in the days since.

There was anger and dismay but almost immediately news from the usual players told us Antifa was there, this was a small part of the crowd that marched on Washington, they brought the Confederate flag into the Rotunda and yet some helpful people wanted us to these weren’t even White Supremacists which to be fair that flag is not always carried by only white supremacists but you get the point.

Speaking of flags, the rioters took down the American flag and replaced it Trump/Pence flags.

They yelled we’re American but is that really what a true American does?

In the wake of January 6, we were also told that Ballbag was no longer a threat, that the numbers wouldn’t get up for an impeachment and that now was the time for the country to heal.

I’ve often wondered about 74 million Americans who voted for a man I hate so much.

I just can’t believe they’re all ignorant or full of hate.

Maybe I’m ignorant.

You could imagine some of the people there on the day feeling empowered. They were the people and maybe in their eyes they had come and fought for democracy.

The people who took back the people’s house.

The disenfranchised coming to the elites inner sanctuary and issuing a warning.

US: Impeachment Not Enough | Human Rights Watch

A woman who served in Afghanistan was killed on January 6.

She was one of the rioters.

I think anybody who reads this blog knows of my respect for those who have served. I know that not all those who served are good people worthy of our respect and love. But many are. You could certainly make the argument that this veteran who was killed assaulting her nations capital was a patriot at some point in her life. 

If not all of it.

So I think its worth remembering a couple of things.

There was an election.

Ballbag lost it.

The votes weren’t there for him. The kind of rigged result he espouses by all accounts has received no evidence and would be so large that it would be highly unlikely nothing turned up from it.

I’ve worked in elections, through his actions, supporters showed up in states protesting to continue the count and in others to stop the count based on trends. That is clearly them pushing an agenda. It created security concerns and stress for non-partisan vote counters just doing their jobs.

Next time he talks about stealing an election. Remember it was him calling state officials to “find” the votes needed and pressuring them to overturn results.

I could go on but you know what happened.

On January 6, he stood in front of a crowd and talked about Vice President Mike Pence needing to defy the constitution and overturn the election results of over 150 million Americans because of his own wishes and encouraged a mob to march on the capital and not let them steal the election.

Of course Ballbag was never going to march with them and of course he didn’t.

But the damage was done.

After weeks of refusing a peaceful transition, of insisting he won, of saying the election was stolen and they would fight on.

Trump’s mob let loose.

You ever been intimidated at work, had somebody step into your space and endanger you and people you care about.

Imagine for a second you huddled under those desks or chairs.

The following timings are referrenced from the excellent video from The Washington Post.

At 2:12pm the rioters entered the Capital building.

Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman all by himself faces off against a group of rioters. He runs up two flights of stairs, is positioned outside the entrance to where Mike Pence’s office is and where the Vice President is inside with his family.

The police officer shoves a rioter to make himself a target and calmly moves away up the hall leading the mob away from the sheltering family and towards more police.

His quick thinking and actions avert what would surely have been a disaster.

Police Officer Eugene Goodman is an American hero.

Meet Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman, captured in viral video facing  down mob - The Washington Post

2:15pm the Senate Chamber is locked.

Senator Tina Smith from Minnesota in the moment recalled her husband advising her to be careful the day before. He was worried. She assurred him the Capitol building has to be one of the safest places in the country.

But like the purpose of a terrorist attack the events of the day would undermine such notions for the future.

At 2:16pm the House of Representatives is still working but over the police radios it is announced, “The Capitol Has Been Breached.”

THE CAPITOL HAS BEEN BREACHED.

House Majority Leader is evacuated, the house goes into recess, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has already been evacuated.

At 2:25pm the Crypt and the main entrance of the Rotunda are overtaken by rioters against hopelesssly outnumber police.

Inexplicably session has resumed at 2:26 in the house as Congressman inside can hear the rioters.

In Nancy Pelosi’s office, her staff hide under a conference table as rioters take over.

At 2:30 the Senate is evacuated, Senators pass within feet of the rioters protected by a few police, a few of them carrying the election results.

That’s how close it was!

Twenty-two minutes after rioters have entered the call out for reinforcements is made.

Please be advised all the U.S. Capitol. All sworn and military officers to come due to a breach of the Capitol.

Will Jawando on Twitter: "I get more emotional as today's violence sets in.  Growing up as a staffer on #CapitolHill, we were taught to revere the House  & Senate floor. When we

The House Chamber is barricaded and plain clothes police officers draw their firearms. Congressmen and women inside can hear the rioters banging on the doors as their evacuation begins at 2:41pm.

Representative Daniel Kildee from Michigan calls his wife while still in the House Chamber.

“As soon as I hear her voice, I realise oh man you know am I having that call? When the plane’s going down or the building’s on fire, is this that call?” he ponders.

At 2:44pm rioters have entered the Senate chamber.

Over near the House Gallery, rioter Ashli Babbitt is shot climbing throwing a smashed window in a door.

The war veteran later dies of her wounds.

At 2:49pm the House Gallery is evacuated, representatives walk past insurrectionists lying on the floor surrounded by police.

Think these people were for the most part well behaved revolutionaries?

Put their feet up on desk, the common man in a seat of power.

That’s all!

No that’s not all!

They charged down police they outnumbered, smashed windows and furniture, smeared shit on the wall and called out threatening catcalls to individuals they targeted their hate towards.

They weren’t revolutionaries, they were thugs.

They left peacefully?

No they left with everyone from the houses evacuated knowing reinforcements were coming and swiping stuff on their way out.

President-elect Joe Biden went on national television at 4:06pm calling out the rioters and calling on Ballbag to act.

Let me be very clear – the scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect a true America, do not represent who we are. What we are seeing are a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness. This is not dissent. It’s disorder, it’s chaos. It borders on sedition and it must end now. I call on this mob to pull back and to allow the work of democracy to move forward.” President-Elect Joe Biden said.

At their best the words of a President can inspire. At their worst they can incite. Therefore I call on President Trump to go on national television now. To fulfill his oath and to defend the constitution and to demand an end to this siege.

More than two hours after rioters attacked the Capitol, Ballbag posted a video to call on the rioters to go home. Channel Nine in Australia reported Vice President Mike Pence ordered the clearing of the nation’s capital by police that night.

No one who disagrees will be convinced by my post but consider this, the disgraced Nixon resigned, LBJ wouldn’t even run after the Tet Offensive.

Trump though…

Nixon was a great a foreign policy President and Vice President. A Quaker he may very well have had a come to Jesus moment when his corruption was laid bare.

Maybe he just was savvy enough to begin a long rehabilitation campaign there and then for his legacy as his political career ended.

Maybe he was a very bad man through and through.

The thing is, the country had caught him lying and they would not let him get away with it.

Nixon's resignation, 40 years later

The Republican party would not let him get away with it.

How far we have fallen.

That we could not even find common ground here, that Republicans have simply given their party over to Trump.

This is not a problem only faced in America.

Here in Australia the Senate has become more and more full of minority fringe dwellers who reflect troubling beliefs in pockets of the populace.

But it was in America on January 6 that flames were lit up around the seat of power in the country by nothing more than thugs.

The sooner the majority of Americans can agree on that, the sooner better days ahead will come for us all

The momentary anger at Ballbag in this moment made me angry, the symbolism of the attack on the Capitol was horrible as were the four deaths.

But four deaths pale in comparison to 400,000 dead and I will always hold Ballbag accountable for those deaths.

Not for COVID-19, not for the inevitable deaths that would follow but his failure of leadership in combating the pandemic, in trying to communicate effectively with people, putting in place restrictions and closures, measures that proved successful in other countries that he failed to even try to implement.

Strong leader my arse!

I won’t pretend to know American constitutional law.

But this happened because Trump incited it.

Impeachment?

Should never have even been on the table.

Trump should have been taken out of the equation long before that.

On the 6th of January, the World Health Organisation reported in the United States of America there had been 20,643,544 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 173,375. There had been American 350,753 deaths with a daily increase of 1,791.

At 8:06pm the same day the Senate confirmed Joe Biden as the President-Elect.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – CHOCOLATES

U.S. Coronavirus Deaths Per Day

As the phoney week came to a close the Australian government had taken the unprecedent step to shut down international travel. We were closing off from the world and the sense of threat was only growing.

20 March

On Friday in Australia there were 873 cases with well over an eighth coming from that day alone. The daily increase was 164. The number of deaths was seven with a daily increase of one.

In the United States of America there were 15,219 cases with a daily increase of almost a third at 4,777. There were 201 deaths with a daily increase of 51.

President Trump at White House briefing that day was asked by NBC reporter Peter Alexander “So, what do you say Americans who are scared, I guess? Nearly 200 dead and 14,000 who are sick and millions as you witness who are scared right now, what do you say to Americans who are watching you right now who are scared?“.

Trump replied “I say that you a terrible reporter, that’s what I say.

Trump continued to rant insulting Alexander and his network NBC and saying that he was doing sensationalist journalism.

Just prior Alexander had asked about an anti malarial drug Trump was touting as a possible cure and has continued to do so. This follow-up question was intended as a softball one.

It would be unfair to pull out quotes made by public figures earlier in the outbreak. Public figures also need to reassure the public and point to a rosy vision for the future.

For the experts who had a knowledge about this they could see clearly what was happening. Certain Asian countries responded faster having living through the SARs epidemic.

Yet until the outbreak in Italy I think some understanding has to be given to our leaders for the unprecedented nature of events.

However as the crisis escalated Trump’s quotes become more and more a rebuke to what was actually going and the advice that his experts staff and other state leaders in the country have been saying.

To be quite blunt he has failed as a leader to rally the entire nation behind a cause, to create bipartisan participation between states and federal levels and to show an empathy for the suffering of others.

Whenever you hear Trump talk, it’s always about him.

One of his tactics too is to go on the attack, to lay the blame on others. Early on he attacked state leaders, tweeting New York Governor Cuomo has to do more.

That may be a fair criticism in terms of the early days of the crisis but since then I cannot think of how Cuomo could have done more.

He’s given daily briefing, stayed calm, communicated consistently in an ever changing situation and fought for what his state has needed to combat this virus.

Trump on the other hand is a terrifying sight to behold almost on a daily basis.

That is not to say the administration hasn’t done some good things but compared to other countries it has often been behind the curve and there is a constant push to get back to re-opening the economy partly based on what appears to be political motivations.

It is also true a lot of Americans want to do the same but I suspect this is because there is no effective welfare for them like there is in other developed nations. I worry a great deal about the plight of the American people with this President in charge.

These quotes even if they were part of a larger context are jarring in the face of what is happening in the country.

And again, when you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.” 26FEB2020

It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.” 28FEB2020

It’s going to go away. … The United States, because of what I did and what the administration did with China, we have 32 deaths at this point … when you look at the kind of numbers that you’re seeing coming out of other countries, it’s pretty amazing when you think of it.” 13MAR2020

I’ve always known this is a real — this is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.” 17MAR2020

🐣 25+ Best Memes About Slaps Trump | Slaps Trump Memes

As the working week ended on the 20th of March in Australia I had faced the possibility of starting the next week working from home.

On Friday came I was advised I would be in the office on Monday but to be flexible as the situation continued to develop.

As the crisis had escalated I had wondered how it would affect the world in terms of social habits that were dying off with new technologies.

Would more working offices move to hot desks and working from home? Would cinemas die? Would globalisation be altered? Would there be a push for more national agriculture or manufacturing? Would we practice better hygiene?

Would we slow down and appreciate the little things more?

It seemed digital connection would be hastened by this crisis and as the week drew on it appeared this would be very much the case and I was suddenly struck by a realisation having spent most of my working life being in no working place more than two years full time.

I knew I liked working in the office. I knew the routine offered me a discipline and motivation that I benefited from and I liked the air conditioning. I knew I liked my desk and I liked getting my large mocha from my local café Stellarossa.

That week though I felt very keenly what I would miss the most and it was the people around me.

Cadbury Favourites Party Pack 570g - The Australian Food Shop

In a moment of lunacy that Thursday night I bought four packets of Cadbury Favourites  Party Edition and placed them around the office in different work areas after most people had gone home. With the packets was a printed out note.

These days often we can be heard saying the phrase “Interesting times.”
It’s a shorthand that suits for a variety of purposes.
What we mean is we are living in changing times; we are living in challenging times and yes, we are living in scary times.

Being scared makes sense.
Our way of life is changing for the moment, sports teams are playing to empty venues if they’re playing at all. Shop shelves are bare of things we use on a daily basis. Businesses are closing down and people are losing their jobs. A disease has criss-crossed the globe at a rapid pace and while thousands have thankfully recovered COVID-19 has exacted a death toll and will.

Being scared makes sense but it is not who we are.

Over the recent bushfire season over 18 million hectares of the country was burned. That is 186,000 square kilometres. The bulk of that fire was fought by a handful of rural firefighters and local residents making do under the circumstances. Millions of dollars were raised for the recovery efforts in a matter of days.
Close to 25,000 official Mud Army volunteers responded to the Brisbane floods in 2011 without a care or thought for personal safety or WHS considerations.

There wasn’t as much sports being played in the early 1940s either or during the Great War. There was rationing back then too and a global pandemic to follow.

When the times are interesting…people – all people from around the world are not found wanting.
This is certainly true of the staff here.
Things are going to be different in the coming weeks and it is not always going to be easy. But we’re going to get through it together…. standing at a suitable safe distance from each other…sometimes at home. Hey, I told you it was going to be different okay.
So be there for each other, for your loved ones, spare a thought for those who are going to be doing it tough, help those who are vulnerable, thank our health care workers who will be the most exposed and overworked in the coming months to keep us healthy.

We are living in interesting times, but we will get through them together.

Also, chocolate.

-Lloyd Marken

No photo description available.
Copyright Micah Reynolds.