Minneapolis burns as COVID-19 rages on

Listen to this article
G.D. Spradlin in the film “Apocalypse Now” (YouTube)

“… because there’s a conflict in every human heart between the rational and the irrational, between good and evil. And good does not always triumph.”

••• •••• ••••• •••• ••••

Let me get this off my chest: Donald J. Trump is a soulless douchebag. Because Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski constantly criticize Trump, calling him out for his lies and boorish behavior, Trump has been tweeting about a conspiracy theory involving a young woman who died in Scarborough’s congressional office in Florida.

In an open letter the deceased woman’s husband asked Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to remove the president’s tweets as it was causing emotional harm to him and the deceased woman’s family. As a result, the social media giant said it will start adding a fact-check on Trump’s tweets to let people know if it’s bullshit or not. My guess is Twitter will be using it quite a bit.

Courtesy of Twitter

It’s not an infringement on free speech. The First Amendment says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Congress isn’t involved in making the editorial decisions on Twitter. It’s a private company that can (and does) make the rules governing the use of their platform. Each user can either agree to the terms of service or go use some other platform.

What’s disappointing about Twitter, and that might be too polite a term, is that they have allowed Trump to break those rules consistently, day after day, without any consequence for his words. Trump has received treatment that isn’t afforded the rest of us. Now, 3.5 years into Trump’s presidency they decide to add a fact check to his tweets? Twitter is many years too late.

How many lies has Trump spread, how many conspiracy theories has he pushed into the open, how many people has Trump harmed with his bullshit? I guess we should be happy Twitter is doing something about it now, but Trump continues to traffic in lies and conspiracy theories, and it’s causing great harm to a woman’s grieving family.

Donald John Trump is a douchebag and the Republican Party that continues to support him is a collection of spineless fucks that don’t deserve to hold public office.

A couple weeks ago I said I don’t care how many F-bombs I write. Get used to it.

Two things Trump did on Thursday: He signed an executive order telling the FCC to look into changing a 1996 law that shields tech companies from lawsuits about content that appears on their sites. Apparently Trump doesn’t realize that if that law wasn’t in effect people would be suing the pants off him — and that would be a horrible sight. The second thing he did was explain how ballot harvesting happens in California. Kids! Kids steal the ballots from mailboxes and give them to people down the street who sign them and mark them up. And all this time I thought it was the undocumented aliens, like he first claimed, who were voting illegally. You learn something new every day.

Towards the end of my last post I mention Joe Biden had said something stupid on the Morning Show with Charlamagne the God. Man, for days there as some self-righteous outrage from many of the usual corners, including some lefties. I get it, Biden isn’t allowed to make jokes when he’s campaigning, especially when they are about minorities.

Former V.P. Joe Biden (YouTube)

What pissed me off most about Biden’s really bad joke was that all the usual lefties got outraged, reminiscing about what could have been if Bernie Sanders was the presumptive nominee for the Democratic Party.

We all agree Biden said something stupid. He apologized immediately. And yet there is this minority of people on the left who don’t want to forgive Biden and believe Bernie should be the standard bearer. Sorry Bernie bots, I like Senator Sanders and agree with just about all of his policies, but he doesn’t have the trust or support of a large part of the Democratic voters. There’s a very good chance he would not win against Trump, at least not the Electoral College.

Bernie and his small army of fellow progressives need to have strong seats at the table when the party puts together the platform for 2020. The Green New Deal, for instance, needs to be in the platform. If they want more influence in 2024, even a candidate they support, then build that support from the grassroots, win over the major constituencies of the party that prefer Biden to Sanders. And then convince the young people who complain to show up and vote.

The United States has now reached the grim milestone of over 100,000 COVID-19 deaths. And it hasn’t stopped. People are still dying amid the various hotspots around the nation, where governors are opening their state economies wide. Yuma, Arizona, just across the river from California and just a few miles from Mexico, is now out of beds to care for COVID-19 patients. They are sending patients to other facilities.

Social media meme

Arkansas we’ve known for some time. They are seeing daily cases rise every day for nearly a week. The governor of Iowa, Kim Reynolds, is trying to dance around questions about the rising daily infections. In Buena Vista County, Iowa, population about 20,000, 3.4% of the population is infected. Could it be that there is a food processing plant in the county that is generating the spread of the disease? She won’t let anyone know until 10% of the workforce in the plant is infected. She doesn’t want to report the numbers because, gosh darn it, she’s trying to get her state’s economy on!

Iowa is fucked. But they are not alone. There are 19 other states that are seeing a daily triple digit rise in reported cases, many of which are in the South and Southeast, most of which are Trump supporting states. As Trump pushes for states to reopen their economy, the cases continue to rise and as some states ramp up their testing, we are beginning to see the larger scope of this disease, which is now the deadliest pandemic in history. Think about it: 100,000 deaths in just four months. What will the next four months bring, especially if this “new” wave continues to blossom in these hotspots outside of the New York Tri-State area, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Michigan and California?

Which brings up this news from Los Angeles. Unlike other parts of the state, Los Angeles County continues to be a hotspot. For Wednesday, May 27, 933 new cases, 53 deaths. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reports there are 48,700 total cases and 2,195 deaths.

Our Hispanic community has the most infections and deaths, followed by whites, Asians and African Americans.

A testing site in Los Angeles County (Claudia Gestro)

The county health department updates its numbers once a day and you can see the infection rate where you live and plan accordingly.

Exactly two weeks after the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned Governor Tony Evers “Safer-At-Home” order, the state set a record for new cases and deaths, due to coronavirus. Only 3.3 percent of the state’s infected have died — 539 — so what they hey, if one of those 539 isn’t somebody you know, it ain’t bad.

Now we find out Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida has been hiding coronavirus deaths. Scientists watching the numbers across the nation see a spike in pneumonia deaths in Florida. Turns out the governor and his office have been pressuring the state’s medical examiners to change the cause of death from COVID-19 to pneumonia.

Dr. Rebekah Jones was fired from the Florida Department of Health on the day DeSantis started rolling out his plan to open up the state’s economy. Apparently she didn’t want to cook the numbers for DeSantis.

With all the cooked numbers coming from the states, like Florida — and Georgia where Governor Brian Kemp was forced to apologize for cooking the numbers in his state to show a downward trend in COVID-19 deaths — with all these cooked numbers it’s quite possible the U.S. hit 100,000 COVID-19 deaths a few days earlier than reported.

Here’s one little factoid, reported by Business Insider: the news organization did some research and found that of all the Twitter accounts pushing for the U.S. to open the economy about half of them were bots.

“Please! I can’t breathe.”

George Floyd being killed by a Minneapolis police officer
(Darnella Frazier/YouTube)

For the past three days the coronavirus crisis has been a backdrop to the drama coming from the Twin Cities in Minnesota. A man named George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police officers, in front of witnesses who were recording the murder with their mobile phones. We can hear on the videos Floyd begging for his life, telling the police officers kneeling on his neck and another kneeling on his back, “Please! I can’t breathe.”

We can also hear the witnesses imploring the police to stop because they could see they were killing Floyd, who was on his stomach and handcuffed behind his back.

The four officers involved were immediately fired and the mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Fry, is demanding the officer that was kneeling on Floyd’s neck be charged with the crime.

Now Minneapolis is burning. For three nights protestors have been in the streets demanding justice for George Floyd. The first night they were peaceful and the police responded with tear gas and flash bang grenades. Since then the protests have been marked by arson and looting.

To be clear, I am angry about seeing the destruction at the hands of some protestors. Then I remember what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “… a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity. And so in a real sense our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.”

King didn’t advocate rioting, quite the contrary. But he understood it. These people aren’t rioting because they can’t go to the beach or get their hair cut, it stemmed from the murder of another black man at the hands of police officers.

Social media meme

The police — and the National Guard — will retake control of the streets, by force, and it won’t be pretty. They can’t let the rioting continue, but they, city officials, cannot let the police officers responsible for George Floyd’s death escape from justice.

We’ve seen it so often around the nation: Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, shot eight times while sleeping, her boyfriend charged with attempted murder for trying to defend himself when the police entered their home at 1 a.m. on a “no-knock” warrant. Turns out the police had the wrong address. Then there was Ahmaud Arbery who was murdered by two white men while he was jogging near his home. The most interesting — important — part of that story is that local officials didn’t press charges against the father and son responsible for the shooting until the video went viral. Authorities didn’t act until the public saw how Arbery was chased and gunned down.

The man who shot the video thought it would exonerate his two white friends. He too has been charged.

Freddie Grey killed in police custody, in Baltimore, Maryland, Eric Garner killed while a police officer on Staten Island choked him for selling individual cigarettes. It was the first time we heard — on video — a victim of police brutality begging for his life, saying “I can’t breathe.”

And there in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, a suburb of St. Paul, Philando Castile shot by a police officer after he was pulled over. The officer involved was charged, tried and acquitted.

Will Smith on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” (YouTube)

We as a nation have to do something to stop this senseless violence by law enforcement on people of color. It’s been going on since the beginning of this nation. As actor Will Smith noted in 2016, “Racism isn’t getting worse, it’s getting filmed.” He was on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert talking about the racism during the years Barack Obama was president.

Ordinary people have become citizen reporters, recording these incidents of police brutality. There will come a tipping point when this sort of behavior, this institutional racism, this endemic national abomination — the original sin of America — is erased from our society. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr said over 50 years ago. It’s just as true today.

As day breaks in Minneapolis I hope we see a return to peace and an end to the rioting and burning. I have family in the Twin Cities, very nice people. My Godmother Jeanette lives in Minneapolis — she’s a saint.

Omar Jimenez of CNN getting arrested by Minnesota State Patrol (YouTube)

Early morning update: a CNN reporter, Omar Jimenez and his camera crew were arrested on air just after 5 a.m. Central Time today (Friday May 29) as the team reported on the Minneapolis protests. Jimenez can be heard telling the state police, “We’re getting out of your way” and “Put us back where you want us. Just let us know.”

It happened live, as Jimenez was reporting for CNN’s New Day program. Apparently the state police had no idea the camera was still on as they were dragging it, Jimenez and his production crew away. CNN says it’s a violation of their First Amendment rights. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz later said, “They clearly had a right to be there. We want the media there to cover this. It is never acceptable for that to happen.” I hope they are all safe. None of what is happening is okay.

Our douchebag president tweeted Thursday Night, “I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right…..”

Then in the attached tweet he talks about the military being with the governor, the rioters dishonoring the memory of George Floyd. Do you think, Mr. Douchebag, saying some white supremacists are very fine people dishonors all people of color? The tweet also advocates more violence, saying, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” You can get to that second tweet, which now has a warning from Twitter, from the first.

But I digress.

California Governor Gavin Newsom (YouTube)

As for COVID-19: We have over 1.76 million confirmed cases in the U.S. with more than 103,000 confirmed deaths. Jeeze, I didn’t even get a chance to talk about the 9th Circuit Court upholding California Governor Gavin Newsom’s ban on large church gatherings. We will see the restrictions easing in the state, but it will be gradual, based on the science, which changes with each new discovery, each new crunching of the numbers.

Nor did I get a chance to talk about the Democrat assemblyman in Pennsylvania going off because his Republican colleagues knowingly walked about the Pennsylvania State Capitol after being tested positive for COVID-19. The Republicans told themselves about the infected members, but they didn’t tell their Democratic colleagues. Brian Sims went off in a Facebook video. Good does not always triumph.

••• •••• ••••• •••• ••••

Top quote is from the 1979 film by Francis Ford Coppola, Apocalypse Now. General Corman (G.D. Spradlin) explaining to Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) why he had to terminate Major Kurtz (Marlon Brando). Here’s the clip.

Top photo is a YouTube screenshot by MSNBC of the Minneapolis Third Precinct on fire