Ode to [De]Joy

The essay below by one of my friends appeared on my Facebook feed yesterday, and it broke my heart.

We read during the election of Louis DeJoy’s efforts to hamstring the post office in order to bolster the irrational claims of The Thermonuclear Bowel Evacuation Formerly Disgracing the Oval Office that mail-in voting would lead to massive fraud. It wouldn’t, and it didn’t. But the actions of this Trump sycophant and donor, a man who has no business as Postmaster General of our nation, are continuing to have repercussions down the line and will continue to do so as long as this waste of human cytoplasm is permitted to continue castrating one of our nation’s most important institutions.

This is a cry from the trenches.

There is a gravestone somewhere with the inscription:

When you go to work tomorrow, I will be going, too, but only long enough to turn in my ID and my laptop.

The GOP Ten-Year Plan To Rape The Postal Service took its first blood on Friday, with hundreds of postal employees and contractors getting the word that their position has been eliminated. As usual, there will be new jobs posted, maybe, at facilities somewhere far from home and at a lesser salary, but a job is a job, and there will be struggles for these positions that will be as entertaining as the old gladiator battles in the Coliseum. And with similar results.

This came about because Louis DeJoy, who ran a shipping company that competed with the USPS, and was a major GOP donor, was appointed Postmaster General during the last administration. The board that oversees the PMG is still a pack of GOP curs, and will not remove him until enough of them are removed to force a vote. By then, it will be too late to save much of the USPS.

In the past year, the IT office that I work in has gone from twelve people to five. The UNIX support group is perhaps 2/3 the size it was at this time last year. The workload has not been reduced at all. Overtime is strongly discouraged. If you think this is a recipe for a catastrophe, I will not contradict you. But it will SAVE MONEY. Just like trashing the sorting machines just before the 2020 election was going to save money. I didn’t notice any savings, because the O/T put in by the employees to take up the slack would have more than eaten it. Oh, wait, they weren’t allowed to charge O/T. So a lot of them did their work off the clock. What a savings!

It will also cripple the USPS even further, so there will be more pressure to simply disband it and give the work to private corporations. Sending a birthday card by FedEx will cost about $15, instead of $0.55. But, hey, small government, right?

And giving us the shaft on a Friday morning of a long weekend was THE morale-booster that we all needed.

Oh, and the USPS employs more veterans than any other government function. So the “We Support Our Troops!” boys have just screwed over the veterans. Again.

I’m a contractor, not a USPS employee. The USPS unit at Peraton is only about 6 months old, having just been acquired from NorthropGrumman. So the scramble for new jobs there will be at least as bad as the one at USPS, because they were still trying to fit us into the organization as it was.

Screw it. I’m six months from turning 66. I may just sign up for the dole, and Medicare, and let the people who are trying to support their families get the jobs. I’m sick of this. I’ve watched the front line get screwed at Kodak, Informix, IBM, and now USPS, and the old men who made the decisions that got us there walk away with fat wallets. This is not how I had thought of retiring, those 40+ years ago, but, as some profound thinker said, it is what it is.

So, tomorrow I drive to San Mateo (55 miles each way, and that I will not miss), turn in all my gear, and drive home to see what happens next. I’d like to thank all the people who voted GOP in 2016 because they were afraid they’d lose their guns, on behalf of the hundreds of us who just lost our jobs.

On behalf of my friend who lost his livelihood and the countless others who have or will, many of whom will not be in a position to retire and say “Screw it,” thank you, Louis DeJoy, for shoving a stake into the heart of our nation’s postal system in the name of ideology and personal profit. May you roast in Hell forever, you simpering, thermonuclear asstrumpet.

The Old Wolf has spoken

PS: Congress, please remove the insane requirement for the USPS to pre-fund its retiree health benefits. Adopting a traditional “pay-as-you-go” method would produce billions of dollars of desperately-needed additional cash flow.

A brutal summary of Trump’s Presidency

A tweet from Ethical American (@AmericanEthical) which deserves to be read and shared widely.

Edit: A comment made me aware that Ethical American is not the original author, but: Redditor u/techsinger posted it because the original author encouraged people to share it widely. Redditor u/GaterMachetteSr then posted it to r/copypasta. Hence Ethical American was reposting with implicit permission, rather than stealing it. I’m still trying to track down the OP for attribution.

Edit 2: The earliest instance of this that I’ve found was by user paddyC at the politics.ie forum, dated 16 Feb 2021. Still trying to determine if sir or madam is the original author.

Only slightly bowdlerized for a family-friendly audience.

Click to view the original thread.

For what it’s worth, every one of the items listed here has been documented with painful clarity. This isn’t “fake news.” This is the real deal.

I owe my Trump-supporting friends an apology.  I’ve been critical of the Trump presidency these last four years and am still exhausted from the experience. But to be fair President Trump wasn’t that bad, other than when he:

• incited an insurrection against the government
• mismanaged a pandemic that killed nearly half a million Americans
• separated children from their families
• lost those children in the bureaucracy
• tear-gassed peaceful protesters on Lafayette Square so he could hold a photo op holding a Bible in front of a church
• tried to block all Muslims from entering the country
• got impeached
• got impeached again
• had the worst jobs record of any president in modern history
• pressured Ukraine to dig dirt on Joe Biden
• fired the FBI director for investigating his ties to Russia
• bragged about firing the FBI director on TV
• took Vladimir Putin’s word over the US intelligence community
• diverted military funding to build his wall
• caused the longest government shutdown in US history
• called Black Lives Matter a “symbol of hate”
• lied over 30,000 times
• banned transgender people from serving in the military
• ejected reporters from the White House briefing room who asked tough questions
• vetoed the defense funding bill because it renamed military bases named for Confederate soldiers
• refused to release his tax returns
• increased the national debt by nearly $8 trillion
• had three of the highest annual trade deficits in U.S. history
• called veterans and soldiers who died in combat losers and suckers
• coddled the leader of Saudi Arabia after he ordered the execution and dismembering of a US-based journalist
• refused to concede the 2020 election
• hired his unqualified daughter and son-in-law to work in the White House
• walked out of an interview with Lesley Stahl
• called neo-Nazis “very fine people”
• suggested that people should inject bleach into their bodies to fight COVID
• abandoned our allies the Kurds to Turkey
• pushed through massive tax cuts for the wealthiest but balked at helping working Americans
• incited anti-lockdown protestors in several states at the height of the pandemic
• withdrew the US from the Paris climate accords
• withdrew the US from the Iranian nuclear deal
• withdrew the US from the Trans Pacific Partnership which was designed to block China’s advances
• insulted his own Cabinet members on Twitter
• pushed the leader of Montenegro out of the way during a photo op
• failed to reiterate US commitment to defending NATO allies
• called Haiti and African nations “shithole” countries
• called the city of Baltimore the “worst in the nation”
• claimed that he single handedly brought back the phrase “Merry Christmas” even though it hadn’t gone anywhere
• forced his Cabinet members to praise him publicly like some cult leader
• believed he should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
• berated and belittled his hand-picked Attorney General when he recused himself from the Russia probe
• suggested the US should buy Greenland
• colluded with Mitch McConnell to push through federal judges and two Supreme Court
• justices after supporting efforts to prevent his predecessor from appointing judges
• repeatedly called the media “enemies of the people”
• claimed that if we tested fewer people for COVID we’d have fewer cases
• violated the emoluments clause
• thought that Nambia was a country
• told Bob Woodward in private that the coronavirus was a big deal but then downplayed it in public
• called his exceedingly faithful vice president a “pussy” for following the Constitution
• nearly got us into a war with Iran after threatening them by tweet
• nominated a corrupt head of the EPA
• nominated a corrupt head of HHS
• nominated a corrupt head of the Interior Department
• nominated a corrupt head of the USDA
• praised dictators and authoritarians around the world while criticizing allies
• refused to allow the presidential transition to begin
• insulted war hero John McCain – even after his death
• spent an obscene amount of time playing golf after criticizing Barack Obama for playing (far less) golf while president
• falsely claimed that he won the 2016 popular vote
• called the Muslim mayor of London a “stone cold loser”
• falsely claimed that he turned down being Time’s Man of the Year
• considered firing special counsel Robert Mueller on several occasions
• mocked wearing face masks to guard against transmitting COVID
• locked Congress out of its constitutional duty to confirm Cabinet officials by hiring acting ones
• used a racist dog whistle by calling COVID the “China virus”
• hired and associated with numerous shady figures that were eventually convicted
• of federal offenses including his campaign manager and national security adviser
• pardoned several of his shady associates
• gave the Presidential Medal of Freedom to two congressman who amplified his [ ] crazy conspiracy theories
• got into telephone fight with the leader of Australia
• had a Secretary of State who called him a moron
• forced his press secretary to claim without merit that his was the largest inauguration crowd in history
• botched the COVID vaccine rollout
• tweeted so much dangerous propaganda that Twitter eventually banned him
• charged the Secret Service jacked-up rates at his properties
• constantly interrupted Joe Biden in their first presidential debate
• claimed that COVID would “magically” disappear
• called a U.S. Senator “Pocahontas”
• used his Twitter account to blast Nordstrom when it stopped selling Ivanka’s merchandise
• opened up millions of pristine federal lands to development and drilling
• got into a losing tariff war with China that forced US taxpayers to bail out farmers
• claimed that his losing tariff war was a win for the US
• ignored or didn’t even take part in daily intelligence briefings
• blew off honoring American war dead in France because it was raining
• redesigned Air Force One to look like the Trump Shuttle
• got played by Kim Jong Un and his “love letters”
• threatened to go after social media companies in clear violation of the Constitution
• botched the response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico
• threw paper towels at Puerto Ricans when he finally visited them
• pressured the governor and secretary of state of Georgia to “find” him votes
• thought that the Virgin islands had a President
• drew on a map with a Sharpie to justify his inaccurate tweet that Alabama was threatened by a hurricane
• allowed White House staff to use personal email accounts for official businesses after blasting Hillary Clinton for doing the same thing
• rolled back regulations that protected the public from mercury and asbestos
• pushed regulators to waste time studying snake-oil remedies for COVID
• rolled back regulations that stopped coal companies from dumping waste into rivers
• held blatant campaign rallies at the White House
• tried to take away millions of Americans’ health insurance because the law was named for a Black man
• refused to attend his successors’ inauguration
• nominated the worst Education Secretary in history
• threatened judges who didn’t do what he wanted
• attacked Dr. Anthony Fauci
• promised that Mexico would pay for the wall (it didn’t)
• allowed political hacks to overrule government scientists on major reports on climate change and other issues
• struggled navigating a ramp after claiming his opponent was feeble
• called an African-American Congresswoman “low IQ”
• threatened to withhold federal aid from states and cities with Democratic leaders
• went ahead with rallies filled with maskless supporters in the middle of a
• pandemic
• claimed that legitimate investigations of his wrongdoing were “witch hunts”
• seemed to demonstrate a belief that there were airports during the American Revolution
• demanded “total loyalty” from the FBI director
• praised a conspiracy theory that Democrats are Satanic pedophiles
• completely gutted the Voice of America
• placed a political hack in charge of the Postal Service
• claimed without evidence that the Obama administration bugged Trump Tower
• suggested that the US should allow more people from places like Norway into the country
• suggested that COVID wasn’t that bad because he recovered with the help of top government doctors and treatments not available to the public
• overturned energy conservation standards that even industry supported
• reduced the number of refugees the US accepts
• insulted various members of Congress and the media with infantile nicknames
• gave Rush Limbaugh a Presidential medal of Freedom at the State of the Union address
• named as head of federal personnel a 29-year old who’d previously been fired from the White House for allegations of financial improprieties
• eliminated the White House office of pandemic response
• used soldiers as campaign props
• fired any advisor who made the mistake of disagreeing with him
• demanded the Pentagon throw him a Soviet-style military parade
• hired a [] ton of white nationalists
• politicized the civil service
• did absolutely nothing after Russia hacked US
• falsely said the Boy Scouts called him to say his bizarre Jamboree speech was the best speech ever given to the Scouts
• claimed that Black people would overrun the suburbs if Biden won
• insulted reporters of color
• insulted women reporters
• insulted women reporters of color
• suggested he was fine with China’s oppression of the Uighurs
• attacked the Supreme Court when it ruled against him
• summoned Pennsylvania state legislative leaders to the White House to pressure them to overturn the election
• spent countless hours every day watching Fox News
• refused to allow his administration to comply with Congressional subpoenas
• hired Rudy Giuliani as his lawyer
• tried to punish Amazon because the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post wrote negative stories about him
• acted as if the Attorney General of the United States was his personal attorney
• attempted to get the federal government to defend him in a libel lawsuit from a women who accused him of sexual assault
• held private meetings with Vladimir Putin without staff present
• didn’t disclose his private meetings with Vladimir Putin so that the US had to find out via Russian media
• stopped holding press briefings for months at a time
• “ordered” US companies to leave China even though he has no such power
• led a political party that couldn’t even be bothered to draft a policy platform
• claimed preposterously that Article II of the Constitution gave him absolute powers
• tried to pressure the U.K. to hold the British Open at his golf course
• suggested that the government nuke hurricanes
• suggested that wind turbines cause cancer
• said that he had a special aptitude for science
• fired the head of election cyber security after he said that the 2020 election was secure
• blurted out classified information to Russian officials
• tried to force the G7 to hold their meeting at his failing golf resort in Florida
• fired the acting attorney general when she refused to go along with his unconstitutional Muslim travel ban
• hired Stephen Miller
• openly discussed national security issues in the dining room at Mar-a-Lago where everyone could hear them
• interfered with plans to relocate the FBI because a new development there might compete with his hotel
• abandoned Iraqi refugees who’d helped the U.S. during the war
• tried to get Russia back into the G7
• held a COVID super spreader event in the Rose Garden
• seemed to believe that Frederick Douglass is still alive
• lost 60 election fraud cases in court including before judges he had nominated
• falsely claimed that factories were reopening when they weren’t
• shamelessly exploited terror attacks in Europe to justify his anti-immigrant policies
• still hasn’t come up with a healthcare plan
• still hasn’t come up with an infrastructure plan despite repeated “Infrastructure”
• forced Secret Service agents to drive him around Walter Reed while contagious with COVID
• told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by”
• [botched] the Census
• withdrew the U.S. from the World Health Organization in the middle of a pandemic
• did so few of his duties that his press staff were forced to state on his daily schedule “President Trump will work from early in the morning until late in the evening. He will make many calls and have many meetings”
• allowed his staff to repeatedly violate the Hatch Act
• seemed not to know that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican
• stood before sacred CIA wall of heroes and bragged about his election win
• constantly claimed he was treated worse than any president which presumably includes four that were assassinated and his predecessor
• whose legitimacy and birthplace were challenged by a racist reality TV show star named Donald Trump
• claimed Andrew Jackson could’ve stopped the Civil War even though he died 16 years before it happened
• said that any opinion poll showing him behind was fake
• claimed that other countries laughed at us before he became president when several world leaders were literally laughing at him
• claimed that the military was out of ammunition before he became President
• created a commission to whitewash American history
• retweeted anti-Islam videos from one of the most racist people in Britain
• claimed ludicrously that the Pulse nightclub shooting wouldn’t have happened if someone there had a gun even though there was an armed security guard there
• hired a senior staffer who cited the non-existent Bowling Green Massacre as a reason to ban Muslims
• had a press secretary who claimed that Nazi Germany never used chemical weapons even though every sane human being knows they used gas to kill millions of Jews and others
• bilked the Secret Service for higher than market rates when they had to stay at Trump properties
• apparently sold pardons on his way out of the White House
• stripped protective status from 59,000 Haitians
• falsely claimed Biden wanted to defund the police
• said that the head of the CDC didn’t know what he was talking about
• tried to rescind protection from DREAMers
• gave himself an A+ for his handling of the pandemic
• tried to start a boycott of Goodyear tires due to an Internet hoax
• said U.S. rates of COVID would be lower if you didn’t count blue states
• deported U.S. veterans who served their country but were undocumented
• claimed he did more for African Americans than any president since Lincoln
• touted a “super-duper” secret “hydrosonic” missile which may or may not be a new “hypersonic” missile or may not exist at all
• retweeted a gif calling Biden a pedophile
• forced through security clearances for his family
• suggested that police officers should rough up suspects
• suggested that Biden was on performance-enhancing drugs
• tried to stop transgender students from being able to use school bathrooms in line with their gender
• suggested the US not accept COVID patients from  a cruise ship because it would make US numbers look higher
• nominated a climate change sceptic to chair the committee advising the White House on environmental policy
• retweeted a video doctored to look like Biden had played a song called “[F] tha Police” at a campaign event
• hugged a disturbingly large number of U.S. flags
• accused Democrats of “treason” for not applauding his State of the Union address
• claimed that the FBI failed to capture the Parkland school shooter because they were “spending too much time” on Russia
• mocked the testimony of Dr Christine Blasey Ford when she accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault
• obsessed over low-flow toilets
• ordered the rerelease of more COVID vaccines when there weren’t any to release
• called for the construction of a bizarre garden of heroes with statutes of famous dead Americans as well as at least one Canadian (Alex Trebek)
• hijacked Washington’s July 4th celebrations to give a partisan speech
• took advice from the MyPillow guy
• claimed that migrants seeking a better life in the US were dangerous caravans of drug dealers and rapists
• said nothing when Vladimir Putin poisoned a leading opposition
• never seemed to heed the advice of his wife’s “Be Best” campaign
• falsely claimed that mail-in voting is fraudulent
• announced a precipitous withdrawal of troops from Syria which not only handed Russia and ISIS a win but also prompted his defense secretary
• to resign in protest
• insulted the leader of Canada
• insulted the leader of France
• insulted the leader of Britain
• insulted the leader of Germany
• insulted the leader of Sweden
• falsely claimed credit for getting NATO members to increase their share of dues
• blew off two Asia summits even though they were held virtually
• continued lying about spending lots of time at Ground Zero with 9/11 responders
• said that the Japanese would sit back and watch their “Sony televisions” if the US were ever attacked
• left a NATO summit early in a huff
• stared directly into an eclipse even though everyone over the age of 5 knows not to do that
• called himself a very stable genius despite significant evidence to the contrary
• refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power and kept his promise
• and a whole bunch of other things I can’t remember at the moment.

• But other than that…

If there is any justice in the world, they will be.

Oh, and don’t forget when he

• evilly mocked a disabled reporter¹
• told America that if he didn’t win in 2020 the election was rigged
• insisted that he won the 2020 election (The Big Lie)
• incited a mob of followers to attack the Capitol on January 6th, and promised that he would be there with them (he wasn’t)
• watched with glee as the events of January 6th unfolded
• continues to this date to insist that the election was stolen and that he is the legitimate president of the United States

The Old Wolf has spoken


¹ Of all the horrors that The Thermonuclear Bowel Evacuation Formerly Disgracing the Oval Office perpetrated upon America, this is the one which early on showed me that he is nothing but a cruel, pathologically-motivated third-grade schoolyard bully from a terminally-corrupt family, one who should never have been allowed within 10,000 miles of any seat of government or power or influence.

Where were the adults in the room?

I wrote this post on August 25, 2020, but never finished it simply because life got in the way. I’ve updated it a bit to reflect recent events.

Clearly, there were none.

America is not Liberia, where in 1927 “the most rigged ever” gave Charles D. B. King 243,000 votes despite the existence of fewer than 15,000 registered voters.

America is not Ukraine, where results were contested, candidates were poisoned with dioxin, the media was biased, and voters were intimidated.

No, this is America, where even in the most hotly contested and controversial of elections, the result was a peaceful transfer of power.

Until now.

Now we have an individual in the White House, an impeached president who was elected despite losing the popular vote by a margin of at least 3,000,000, who has been dog whistling to his base that “the only way he will lose is if the election is rigged;” making loud noises on Fox News that he won’t commit to accepting the results of the 2020 election and ensuring a peaceful transition of power; and doing all he can to disparage mail-in voting and make it difficult or impossible for countless millions of underserved Americans, who tend to vote dominantly Democratic. to vote.

This is unheard of. It has never happened in our history. It’s an absolute disgrace. It’s shameful. And there’s not a single person in this administration who has big enough balls to shout into the *president’s face, “You can’t do that! If you lose an election, you’ve lost, and you accept it with good grace!”

Of course, “good grace” is not something compatible with this administration. But it’s truly one of the most frightening things I have encountered in my lifetime here on American soil. And given that we are currently living in one of the most challenging years ever, what with Covid, BLM, police overreach, a tanked economy (oh, it’s great if you’re rich – not so much if you’ve lost your job, your business, or your insurance), and the most polarized political climate I’ve ever seen, that’s saying something.

I tremble to think what could happen if the Orange Screechweasel loses the electoral vote and calls on his base to rise up against the “liberal, radical, Communist” horde who rigged the election so he could not win – despite decades of Republican gerrymandering, voter suppression, roll purging, and most recently, dismissing mail-in balloting and hamstringing the US Post Office. This could be an absolute catastrophe.

Here ends what I had written before the election.

And it was.

(AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

It was worse than could have imagined. People died, including one Capitol police officer who was beaten to death by “protestors.” They were not protestors, they were armed thugs. They were not “Antifa,” they were almost exclusively Trump cultists.

But even today, more than 2 months after this disgraceful event, there are no adults in the Republican party who are willing to shout into the faces of their brainwashed, “Stop the Steal” colleagues, “You can’t do this! You are destroying American democratic traditions, and wiping your feet on the Constitution!” Nobody. Any opposition comes across like someone whispering in a hurricane, and it’s just as disgraceful as the events of January 6th, just as shameful as a year-long trumpeting of “The Big Lie,” just as destructive to our nation’s political landscape as the 4 years of the most heinous *administration the White House has ever seen.

America is a wonderful land, full of storied, honorable traditions and good people who want nothing more than to provide a good living and a safe place for their families, people who would reach out to each other and give the shirts off their backs and their lives if need be for those around them.

But Congress is full of some of the most repugnant individuals I have ever encountered in my life, and I’m counting people like George Wallace, Richard Nixon, Strom Thurmond, Spiro Agnew, and Joseph McCarthy in that assessment. Our nation has a deep-seated illness, and these people are the symptoms. The illness was born of 50 years (at least) of Republican gaslighting and disinformation, designed to marginalize people of color, Democrats, and anyone they considered “other.”

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people,” former Nixon domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman told Harper’s writer Dan Baum for the April cover story published Tuesday.

“You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities,” Ehrlichman said. “We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

Harper’s Magazine, April 2016 “Legalize It All

This quote was backed up five years later by another Nixon aide:

“[President Nixon] emphasized that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to.”

–H. R. Haldeman (quoted in Christian Parenti’s, Lockdown America, p. 3. Unsourced quote.

People of good conscience cannot allow this madness in our government to continue. We need to elect more people like Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, young, fiery progressives who have the courage to stand up to the exclusionary, white, evangelical, xenophobia of people like Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, MTG and Lauren Boebert. These people are those of whom John the Apostle wrote, “Yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.”

We need Medicare for All. We need election reform (H.R. 1). We need corporate reform (repealing Citizens United). We need equality of economic opportunities and the elimination of such great financial inequality in society. We need so many things to heal the illness that festers at the heart of our nation.

Only adults in the room can make that happen.

Let it be so.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Lessons from a Danish Hearing

We could learn from other nations… if we were willing to listen. It seems that’s what a “hearing” is supposed to be about.

The following text is from a Twitter thread written by Michael Grunwald (@MichaelGrunwald), and I thought it was important enough to share here in a more readable format. I originally saw it posted on Imgur and then a friend of mine on Facebook shared the same link with me. If something shows up a few times in succession in my life, I take it as a sign that it’s worth looking at, and this one definitely is.

I went to an obscure hearing today in the Danish Parliament. It blew my mind, not because of the substance, but because the US Congress has totally warped my view of hearings. And I’m just dorky enough to do a thread about it.

First of all, there was a dais in the hearing room, just like any congressional hearing, except the politicians weren’t on the dais. The six experts who were testifying were on the dais. Can you imagine? As if the hearing was about them and not the politicians?

The politicians were sitting in the front row of the audience. They all stayed in their seats for the entire hearing. And do you know what they did? They listened! I was in the second row and I didn’t see any of them look at a phone or talk to an aide at any time.

Actually, there was one politician on stage, the committee chair. She welcomed everyone, told the witnesses they would each have 10 minutes, then didn’t say anything until one witness asked for an extra minute. She said no. I swooned. ❤

Oh, did I mention this obscure hearing was simultaneously translated into English? They gave me cool high-tech headphones. I think everyone else in the audience spoke Danish but they take this stuff seriously.

Anyway, when the witnesses were done the politicians got their turn to speak. And none of them made speeches! They asked questions! Not leading questions designed to make a point. Thoughtful questions designed to get information!

This part really got me: The pols had to ask all their questions first, which took maybe 5 minutes, and then all the witnesses got to answer all of them, which took 20 minutes. The experts did the talking and the pols did the hearing. Is that how these things got their name?

I couldn’t tell which pols were in which party or what biases any of them had about the topic being discussed. It really seemed like they were there to learn. And by the end it was clear they had.

This thread is really about process, not substance, but I will say the topic was related to climate change, and everyone there took it seriously. One legislator told me only 4 or 5 of her 178 colleagues are deniers.

Anyway, the weirdest thing about this mostly banal experience was how weird it seemed. The lack of speechifying, grandstanding, partisanship or fake umbrage. How seriously they all took their responsibilities. The absence of bullshit.

In conclusion, we suck. Sometimes it’s good to be reminded how much we suck, and how it’s possible to suck less.

A Twitter thread by @MikeGrundwald.

I agree with every single word of this mini-essay, but I would like to add a bit of my own additional perspective on Mr. Grunwald’s conclusion.

  • As a nation, we don’t suck. Despite the fact that over the last 50 years or so we have lost our way in some areas and owe it to ourselves and to our global neighbors to improve¹, there are a lot of things that America has gotten right since its inception.
  • Our Constitution is unmatched in the history of the world. In 1835, French diplomat Alexis de Tocqueville toured America with a view to seeing if our democracy was worth of emulation by the French. In his book Democracy in America, he declared that our Constitution was “the most perfect federal constitution that ever existed,” but also warned that it would be “profitless in other hands.” In other words, the guarantees and protections and checks and balances written into our Constitution only work if the people desire democracy; any piece of parchment can be trodden down by the feet of a lawless mob.
  • We are still a welcoming nation. The growing xenophobic right-wing movement in our country still accounts for a minority of our population, and most people understand that America has always been a nation of immigrants. It is the exquisite blending and adapting of countless cultures that makes the United States a vibrant, thriving place.
  • The citizens of our country are, in the grand scheme of things, a very giving people. In many parts of the country – even those who tend to be politically conservative – people will reach out to neighbors and even strangers and literally give them the shirt off their backs. As the song Proud Mary by Creedence Clearwater Revival says, “If you come down to the river, Bet you gonna find some people who live; You don’t have to worry cause you have no money, People on the river are happy to give.”
  • Bagels. Blueberries. Hot dogs. Pizza. Jazz. Lobster rolls. NASA. Our National parks. Rolling plains and prairies, purple mountain majesties, redwood forests, beaches, fireflies, public libraries, road trips (at least, when there’s not a pandemic going on), Jewish deli sandwiches, Hollywood, Broadway, musea, and countless other things that make me grateful to be a citizen of this nation.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


¹ The things that need work in our country (areas in which we do suck) are also many, but they are subjects for other discussions. In the meantime, this is something good to remember as we contemplate ways to make our country better:

A new day dawns in America

For the first time in over five years, I awoke this morning without a crushing sense of dread to read the news and find out what indignities our former administration had inflicted upon our country and upon the world. It was a literal sense of physical relief, and I still revel in it as I write this.

Over the last half-decade, political cartoonists have had a literal heyday. Never in my life has there been a president or an administration that was more thoroughly or more deservedly pilloried. If anyone wanted to anthologize all the cartoons that were done about the Orange Screechweasel and his abortive presidency, I suspect it would look like this (Volume 1): ¹

I collected a few of these over the years, more as a pressure valve than anything else and to reassure myself that it was not just me that felt these things, but I think the one that impacted me the most was this one that appeared on the morning after the 2016 election:

David Rowe of the Australian Financial Review

The eyes said it all. And although Mr. Rowe caught a lot of flak from American Trump Cultists among others, here on the morning of January 21, 2021, when the White House is occupied by President Joseph Biden, Jr., and Vice-President Kamala Harris, and a fresh, clean breeze of hope is blowing over our nation for the first time in far too long, it becomes clear that – as the saying goes – we had no idea. Mr. Rowe’s cartoon was spot-on, but dramatically understated. The horror would be far worse than anything any of us could have imagined.

There are a handful of online comics that I follow, less than a dozen and far fewer than in days past (I was always a fan of the daily funnies from my earliest days of reading The Herald Tribune in New York City), and one of the is “The New Adventures of Queen Victoria” by Pab Sungenis. The writer’s political satire has always been a favorite of mine, but the last two days of his strip pretty much say it all:

We survived. Sadly, some 400,000 of us did not – and counting – and while not all of those deaths from the Novel Coronavirus could have been avoided, a significant percentage could have been had there been functioning adults in the White House.

Well, now there are. And while no administration of either party is perfect, I feel more hope for the future now than even I did with the election of Barack Obama, whose campaign slogan was Hope and Change. He began the trend, and with this unwanted and hideous interlude behind us, I look forward to the reparation of as much damage as possible and forward motion to a nation that works for all of us, with no one left out, and a nation that can re-assume its position at the global table as a functioning, adult equal.

The inauguration yesterday morning was breathtaking in its honesty, in its beauty, and in its hopefulness. I literally wept tears of joy and release as I listened to the speeches, the poetry, and the music. It was exhilarating and cathartic.

May the 46th Administration of our great but suffering nation bring healing and progress. May we undertake effective new steps to protect our populace from the depredations of the current pandemics, one of a new and relatively unknown virus, and a second of ignorance and brainwashing by 50 years of spite and disinformation.

Our nation awakens to a fresh, new morning of hope. May we see that hope fulfilled more abundantly than our previous fears were.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


¹ Not to mention all the wonderful video parodies by people such as Randy Rainbow, late-night segments by John Oliver and Stephen Colbert and so many like them, and serious critical essays by the likes of John Pavlovitz, Heather Cox Richardson, Dan Rather, Jim Wright, and countless others. Just had to add this because they shouldn’t be forgotten.

Benedict Arnold was bupkis

Joseph Biden, Jr. won our latest presidential election, the most secure in our history. It’s a confirmed fact.

The idiot currently in the White House, in my lifetime’s greatest display of pettiness, infantile spite, and breathtaking narcissism, has continually refused to honor our nation’s traditions and concede his spectacular loss – both in the popular vote and the electoral college – and continues to claim that he won the election by “a lot,” that millions of votes were cast illegally by democrats and dead people, and that the election should be overturned in his favor. Legal scholars could debate this for a lifetime, but from where I sit this is not just arrogance and megalomania, it’s an attack on American institutions and the Constitution, and hence rises to the definition of treason.

But that’s not unexpected from this incompetent, unqualified clown. In fact, given the daily outflow of lies, conspiracy theories, misrepresentations, insults, and heart-stopping displays of abject stupidity seen on this con-man’s Twitter feed, it’s exactly what many people predicted would happen. So it’s not exactly astonishing.

What is astonishing is the number of people in positions of power and influence – almost exclusively Republicans – who have hitched their wagon to this pathetic, dying star and are supporting both the man and his insane attempt to stay in a position of power that he has for too long disgraced and abused.

They have filed lawsuit after lawsuit on his behalf, the vast majority of which – over 59 as of December 13th and counting, according to a running tally on Twitter – they have definitively lost in front of judges and courts, many of which were appointed by the Buffoon-in-Chief himself. Their claims have been absurd and frivolous, and all of them (except one or two about minor procedural matters) have been appropriately dismissed by these jurists and indeed, by the Supreme Court.

Now comes Louie Gohmert, Republican congressman from Texas, who has filed a suit against Vice President Mike Pence, demanding, in the words of Jim Wright, the author of Stonekettle Station,

“that the Court give Pence the “Exclusive Authority” to decide which Electoral College votes to count and which ones to ignore during the upcoming congressional session on January 6th when the House certifies the election. The lawsuit LITERALLY demands that Pence be given the exclusive authority to decide the election.”

Breathtaking doesn’t cover it. Heart-stopping doesn’t cover it. Mind-raping doesn’t cover it. The abject stupidity and un-Americanism of all these attempts to overturn a United States presidential election, not only by juridical means but also by loudly and repeatedly trumpeting the lie that the election was stolen by Democrats, is absolutely impossible for me to fathom. In the words of a certain segment of a previous generation, “I just can’t even.”

And the saddest part of it all is that I don’t see any consequences forthcoming for this army of sycophants and followers of our modern-day caudillo¹, all of whom have disgraced themselves in the eyes of the world and of history. Certainly, on January 20th The Thermonuclear Bowel Evacuation Currently Disgracing the Oval Office will either walk out of the White House (or be frogmarched out by the Secret Service, which I have to admit would be a more satisfying spectacle), and fade into obscurity to become an ignominious footnote in history, along with the rest of his corrupt clan and hangers-on.

Image by Cathygraphics.com

That’s an indisputable consequence. And it pleases me to think that despite any executive pardons either already issued or forthcoming, many states are lined up at the starting gate with indictments and subpœnas in hand, waiting to delve into the personal and political corruption that has been on public display for the last four years. But for many of the people who have foolishly attached their names to lawsuits, or signed on as friends of the court, or done anything to try to subvert a constitutionally-conducted election, I fear that our nation is simply too complex, and the issues facing us at the present time – not the least of which is the Covid pandemic – are so pressing that things will simply return to business as usual and there will be neither punishments nor repercussions.

And there should be. There must be. From the Republican Senate’s refusal to hear evidence or witnesses during the impeachment trial, issuing a verdict based on political ideology rather than facts, to the current insanity of a disputed election, there must be consequences or our nation’s political process will remain forever tainted. Every senator who stated – in advance! – that they would not be an impartial jurist during the impeachment trial; every senator or congressperson who joined lawsuits to try to keep a drooling cretin in power for four more years despite the will of the American people – should not be seated in January or should be immediatly recalled. They have disgraced themselves, disgraced their legislative bodies, and disgraced the Constitution of the United States. If they are attorneys themselves, as so many of them are, local or national bar associations should sanction or disbar them. What they have done and continue to do is virtually inexcusable.

That’s what I demand, as a citizen of a once-great nation which has been made decidedly less great by a harlequin in a red hat. I hold out a faint glimmer of hope that in some cases, elected officials will be voted out during their next run for office, and retire in disgrace. I hope against hope that there will be legal consequences for some of them. But whether or not these things happen, I am content to have said my piece to the world. To my children and grandchildren and whatever posterity I am blessed with, know that I stood against this raging tide of folly, I voted my conscience, and did what I could to end the madness.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


¹ If you’re not familiar with the term,

“Historian John Lynch states that “Before 1810 the caudillo was unknown. … The caudillo entered history as a local hero whom larger events promoted to a military chieftain.” He gained in power by his success as a military leader. In a rural area that lacked any institutions of the state, and where the environment was one of violence and anarchy, a caudillo could impose order, often by using violence himself to achieve it. His local control as a strongman needed to be maintained by assuring the loyalty of his followers, so his bestowing material rewards reinforced his own position. Caudillos could also maintain their position by protecting the interests of regional elites. A local strongman who built a regional base could aspire to becoming a national caudillo, taking control of the state. In this situation, caudillos could bestow patronage on a large retinue of clients, who in turn gave him their loyalty. In general, caudillos’ power benefited elites. But these strongmen were also mediators between elites and the popular classes, recruiting them into the power base, but also restraining them from achieving power themselves.” (Wikipedia)

If there were justice in the world

Recently the Washington Post conducted a survey of every Republican member of congress, asking who they thought won the recent election and if they would support the winner. The results are below:

Of the individuals surveyed, 27 correctly stated that Joe Biden was the winner (with 306 electoral votes, of which over 270 have been officially certified as of this date, and over 7 million more votes in the popular vote count.) Many of those in this category declined to respond directly to the survey, but their positions have been made clear in other public statements.

Two (Mo Brooks of Alabama and Paul Gosar of Arizona) stated flat out – and incorrectly – that Trump won the election, because it was fraudulently conducted.

The remaining 220 legislators refused to comment one way or another.

Now it is unheard of in my lifetime and longer that the results of a democratically-conducted election should be disputed in this way. Election night happens; one individual wins; the other individual concedes; and an administration continues or there is an orderly transition of power. That’s the way our system has worked for as long as I’ve been alive.

So why are things different now?

Because one man, with an ego the size of Jupiter and living in an artificial reality refuses to believe that there is a world where he could lose at anything.

Long before the election was held, the incumbent was telling people right and left, day and night, “If I lose this election, it was rigged.” Mail-in and absentee balloting has been a part of our electoral system; per the History Channel, “Voting by mail can trace its roots to soldiers voting far from home during the Civil War and World War II.” But in the mind of this pathetic, infantile clown, mail-in ballots are simply a channel for millions of people to vote illegally: the dead, illegal immigrants, people of color (their votes don’t really count because they’re not really Americans), and (gasp!) Democrats and Liberals. He even installed a Postmaster, a Republican party fundraiser, to make sure that the mechanism for delivering absentee ballots was crippled, so that it would be easy to claim (as Trump did) that any ballots received after election day were invalid. This, however, is simply untrue; states decide how to deal with absentee ballots, and many allow them, particularly if they were postmarked before the actual election.

Trump hammered on these lies again and again. Lies that have no basis in fact, no basis in history, and no basis in the results. The fact that he did so is a thundering disgrace. And he lost, soundly.

But 222 Republican legislators either believed the lies, or – despite seeing the writing on the wall about what had been happening to our government over the last 4 years – were unwilling to step up and accept the results of the election for fear of losing their power and their position. And this is equally disgraceful, and in my mind it approaches the standard of sedition and treason.

The president himself will be going back to the business world after January 20; that’s a foregone conclusion, although in his mind he still thinks he won and that somehow, there’s going to be a Hail Mary play in Congress or the Supreme Court that will reverse the clear results shouted by the American people. Ain’t gonna happen. And many of the 222 who bought in to his fantasy are businessmen themselves.

If there were any fairness in the world, no one would get involved with these people ever again. Trump, or his sycophantic, spineless enablers. People of good conscience would say to them, “No, thank you. I have no desire to do business with someone who has demonstrated a total disregard for the history and traditions of our nation. I have no desire to do business with someone who has no honor. I have no desire to do business with someone who is guaranteed to stiff me.

Sadly, as everyone knows, there are many people in the world who are not of good conscience. Personal interests and the desire for gain take precedence in their lives, and in the years to come we will see many who are more than happy to conduct transactions with the ex-president (at their peril!) or with other GOP members of Congress who have shown that lies and fantasy are more profitable than principles or good governance. But Americans who believe in honor will take note, and it is my hope that they will speak at the ballot box at the next possible opportunity and replace these people with others who can see past the duplicity and corruption.

I don’t want conservative tears

In 2016 when 45 won the election, one of my overseas friends posted on my wall that the most delicious thing he had ever tasted were the liberal tears.
That saddened me deeply, but it essentially reflected the attitude of 45’s supporters over the last four years. Everything about the GOP has been focused on making liberals sad or angry, whether it was good governance or not.

Now the pendulum has swung the other way. The small, petty part of me that festers in darkness wants to post snarky comments on the Facebook walls of everyone who smugly told me that 45 was going to win by a landslide, but that would be emulating the morally bankrupt, tinsel-coated con-man who will soon fade into the mists of ignominy.

I don’t want conservative tears. For the duration of this administration, many Republicans have been shoving their middle fingers in the faces of Democrats, chanting “He won, get over it.” It’s time for them to take their own advice. For eight years, Mitch McConnell did everything he could to stymie and block any legislation proposed by President Obama; it’s time for that to end. America deserves better, and if Republicans want to spend the next four years making sure that no progressive legislation is even considered, let alone passed, they will be obstructing themselves into irrelevance.

I don’t want conservative tears, I want conservative coöperation for the benefit of all of us. I want people to be able to reach across the aisle and craft legislation important to Americans the way Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch did in 1997 to provide healthcare for half of America’s 10 million uninsured children. We need this, and we deserve it.

I don’t want conservative tears. The simple fact that Joseph Biden will be president doesn’t mean that conservative values are suddenly irrelevant; it doesn’t mean that liberals all of a sudden will come for your guns, make you all have abortions, close your churches, put everyone on welfare, open our borders to every conceivable immigrant or make your children change their gender. It does mean that – as ever it has been – America consists of people with similar hopes and dreams for themselves and their families but different viewpoints about how to get there. I want to see us make America a nation (and by extension, the world) a place that works for everyone, with no one left out.

If you truly believe that certain segments of our population don’t deserve to prosper, don’t deserve to be healthy, don’t deserve equal opportunities, don’t deserve to feel safe from abuse or oppression, don’t deserve a living wage, or don’t deserve to be happy… by all means, shed as many tears as you want. There is no room in the America I believe in for viewpoints that oppress, diminish, or sideline others just to keep others feeling good about themselves. But it is my hope that you will come to see that conservatism does not mean Trumpism or authoritarianism or fascism or brutal oppression of differing viewpoints or lifestyles, and conversely that being a liberal does not equate to Soviet-style socialism or a communist ideology.

What Americans of all stripes want is jobs to support their families; safety in their neighborhoods; and national security. That’s really about all that’s important. The freedoms that so many people are screaming will be taken away by this party or that are guaranteed in the Constitution – freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, freedom of religion (or from religion), and even the freedom to bear arms. That document is so frightfully difficult to amend, by design, that it’s unlikely those freedoms will ever be abridged regardless of who is in power. If they are, then the great experiment wrought by our founders will truly have failed.

Let us work together. This election was legitimate, despite the hateful lies spewing forth from the White House. There was no cheating. There were no dead people voting. Mail-in balloting is not rife for fraud. It just happened that more people voted for the Democratic ticket this time.

Now, to my Republican friends and family, I say this: If you want to see another Republican in the White House in 2025, put forth a candidate of good character, one who can represent all Americans even if they don’t happen to agree with everything (s)he believes in. Craft a platform that shows all Americans that you care about their welfare. Campaign on achievable goals that will raise the standard of living and the quality of life of all Americans… and you will stand an equal chance of winning. Not by voter suppression, not by gerrymandering, not by hateful lies and smear campaigns, but by virtue of honesty, dignity, and human decency. But please don’t ever again nominate an evil clown like the one we’ve all had to suffer with for the last four years.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Don’t vote for Trump just because you think he’s “pro-life.” He’s not.

I have recently seen claims that Democrats support “abortion on demand up to the point of birth – and beyond – in some states.” This is a complete falsehood; not just a dogwhistle but a foghorn. Democrats do not believe in infanticide. Doctors do not believe in infanticide. People like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are simply lying when they claim otherwise.

Joseph Biden believes that Roe v Wade is the law of the land and supports it, feeling – just as Hillary Clinton does – that “abortion should remain legal, but it needs to be safe and rare,” but he has never said that he supports elective, late-term abortions unless a pregnancy has gone catastrophically wrong. This is another gross Republican misrepresentation.

It is important to understand that Donald Trump is not pro-life. He simply echoes the views of his evangelical supporters, the part of his base that he can most easily manipulate because of this single issue. And they themselves are not pro-life, they are only pro-birth, without any regard for surrounding circumstances.

If the GOP were pro-life, they would be providing increased government support to Planned Parenthood, which prevents far more abortions on an annual basis by providing family planning services than they ever facilitate.

“Roughly half of the more than six million pregnancies in the United States each year are unintended. And many of them are to young mothers: according to the Guttmacher Institute, the rate of unintended pregnancies among sexually active teens is double that of all women. Despite opponent’s claims, the vast majority of Planned Parenthood’s work is devoted to the organization’s more central goal—helping people avoid unwanted pregnancy altogether.”

(Michael Specter, the New Yorker)

If the GOP were pro-life, they would all be wearing masks and supporting a national, comprehensive plan to fight the pandemic instead of being “maskdebaters,” waving Confederate flags and screaming about “muh freedom!”

If the GOP were pro-life they would be marching in the streets protesting the horrible conditions immigrant families are subjected to, in cages, their children cruelly torn from them (and Stephen Miller has said out loud that cruelty was the point).

If the GOP were pro-life they would be immediately voting for Medicare for All instead of trying to take healthcare away from millions of Americans and dismantle the ACA – a plan they hate only because it was put in place by a “black, socialist president”, the thought of which still galls them – and maintain a status quo that favors profit and “maximizing shareholder value” over health and well-being.

If the GOP were pro-life they would be enacting reasonable gun-sensibility laws like banning the insane high-power, high-capacity rifles and other weapons that no one needs to hunt deer, supporting universal background checks for every gun sale public or private, and treating guns and gun owners with exactly the same kinds of regulations required to own and operate a car (which, it may be noted, almost everyone does regularly and abundantly, mostly without complaining about the “draconian government control” of education, licensing, inspection, insurance, registration and taxation that are part of that privilege.)

If the GOP were pro-life, they would immediately get us back into the Paris accords and work as a global leader with the rest of the world to control anthropogenic climate change. The National Bureau of Economic Research predicts that if climate change is left unchanged, higher temperatures could lead to 85 deaths per 100,000 people globally per year by 2100. Calculating from today, that comes to a half-billion lives lost. That’s not pro-life in anyone’s book.

No, the GOP and by extension Donald Trump – who has no other values than his bank account and his galactic ego – are not “pro-life.” They only use this term to court the evangelical right and make sure that their political opponents are demonized for being “baby killers.”

You may believe – as I do, parenthetically – that all life belongs to God and should be treated sacredly. I don’t fault you for this belief. But a huge percentage of our nation doesn’t share your values, and decisions of government should never be based on religion, as enshrined in the First Amendment.

A real pro-life stance is far more complicated than that.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Great Barrington Crime Against Humanity

I just saw something come across my newsfeed about the “Great Barrington Declaration,” a document which essentially recommends against any Covid-19 protections, like social distancing and wearing masks, and promotes the development of herd immunity by exposing less-vulnerable people through living normal lives.

But consider this, from Wikipedia (emphasis mine.)

The World Health Organization and numerous academic and public-health bodies have stated that the proposed strategy is dangerous, unethical, and lacks a sound scientific basis.

They say that it would be impossible to shield all those who are medically vulnerable, leading to a large number of avoidable deaths among both older people and younger people with underlying health conditions, and they warn that the long-term effects of COVID-19 are still not fully understood. Moreover, they say that the herd immunity component of the proposed strategy is undermined by the limited duration of post-infection immunity. The more likely outcome, they say, would be recurrent epidemics, as was the case with numerous infectious diseases before the advent of vaccination. The American Public Health Association and 13 other public-health groups in the United States warned in a joint open letter that the Great Barrington Declaration “is not a strategy, it is a political statement. It ignores sound public health expertise. It preys on a frustrated populace. Instead of selling false hope that will predictably backfire, we must focus on how to manage this pandemic in a safe, responsible, and equitable way.”

The Great Barrington Declaration was authored by Sunetra Gupta of the University of Oxford, Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University, and Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University.

The costs were paid for by the American Institute for Economic Research, a libertarian think tank that is part of a Koch-funded network of organizations associated with climate change denial.

These social inconveniences – and that’s what they are, not oppressive, draconian measures – are admittedly not fun. It is a pain not to see people’s smiling faces. It is difficult to not go places we want to go, see people we want to see, travel to other cities or countries, gather in restaurants and bars for fun and celebrations, enjoy blockbuster movies in theaters, see Broadway plays, be at the side of loved ones who are going through difficult times, attend weddings and Bat Mitzvahs and funerals and Christmas parties and all the things we used to take for granted. Yes, it’s a massive pain in the tuchus.

But it’s the only way we will continue to fight the spread of this very evil, very nasty virus that kills across all spectra and leaves countless others with reduced quality of life forever, until the healthcare researchers can understand this virus and develop effective treatments and viable vaccines.

If you have never worn a mask in public because you think the government is oppressing you, or that the liberal left is promulgating a hoax, and you’re exercising your rights as a free American, or something else equally inane, you’re not a patriot. You’re an asshole. You may be maiming or killing people. And you need to go home and re-examine your life.

This restaurant in Las Vegas has the right idea:

The supposed “FTBA Mask Exemption Cards” are bogus and carry no legal or social weight of authority. If someone gives you one of them, give them back one of these:

For the love of all that’s holy; for the sake of decency and caring about your own health and that of your fellow humans around you, wear a mask and practice social distancing until this pandemic is under control and treatments and vaccines are available.

The Old Wolf has Spoken.