The Divide Between Aware and Unaware 

I just came back from a tour of four western states. Yes, it was a vacation, but driving over 900 miles opened my eyes to some things about this country. Besides the native Americans living in abject poverty on valueless deserts and plains, we saw the rich ski lodges of the Rocky Mountains and the challenge of military families forced to live in underserved small towns. We have a lot to cheer about in this country, including the purple mountain majesty and a thing called democracy. I saw the bumper stickers reminding me that “freedom is not free,” and wondered what that actually means. Democracy gives us a say but freedom doesn’t mean we can do any damn thing we want. We have a responsibility to not intrude on the freedom of others.

I read the “My body my choice” signs held high at the anti-mask rallies by the same women who will be screaming against liberal women holding the same sign at Pro Choice rallies. The Covid-19 global pandemic has taught a lot, and now we know that Covid-19 can kill children. If Johnny doesn’t wear a mask it places Suzy at risk. Sean Penn, the actor and pro second amendment guy, says not wearing a mask is the same as pointing a gun at another. Covid-19 has the potential to hurt, sicken or kill our students and we must deal with this reality.

I am starting to think that the division in America is not political but a chasm between “aware” and “unaware” people. It’s all too easy to put a person down without understanding their personal knowledge base. Consider this. I hold a hammer and ask the person standing next to me to put their hands on the table. They quickly pull back, thinking I want to hit their hands with the hammer and knowing how badly that would hurt. Over our lifetimes, we have gained knowledge of hammers and hot stoves and we automatically avoid them. Those people screaming “enough is enough” at school board meetings claiming that little Bobby shouldn’t have to wear a mask are asking for the hammer to come down on their hands. They are unaware of what Covid-19 can do because they haven’t taken the time to understand it.

While the Sarasota school board here in Florida was debating mandatory mask requirements for students, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law forbidding mask mandates in public places, schools and businesses. The rich irony of those who carry signs that say “We Don’t Co-Parent with the Government” is they don’t realize that the government is telling them what they CANNOT DO. It’s the exact same kind of powerful government overreach they are protesting. Why are these folks helping the government be more powerful and overbearing in their lives? Do they derive pleasure from the pain of the hammer?

The early figures from our school district here on the west coast of Florida are disturbing. In the first week of class, 166 staff members and 683 students tested positive for Covid-19. 69 staff members and 1,421 students were required to quarantine after contact with an infected person. Governor DeSantis forced the Florida Department of Health to slow the release of coronavirus data. What was he thinking? Oh, yeah, he wasn’t thinking. He even admitted during a press conference a week ago that a once- weekly release of Covid statistics was not in the public interest. I guess he did it to underscore his authority.

We’ve had a long history of the term “anti-American” activities. Donald Trump was quick to use the trope against anyone who disagreed with him or his policies. Any chance that the Donald could be a good president was dashed by his inability to see beyond his beliefs. He has a strange isolationist strategy. If you like him, he likes you and he gives, but if you are not a hundred percent with him then you are his enemy. Baby-Trump DeSantis has threatened to cut off education funding and the salaries of those who teach our children if they vote in mask mandates for their schools and students. He’s being anti-American by saying the state government should control local governments and school boards. Ron DeSantis is a vindictive son-of-a-bitch.

I heard lots of complainers on my trip. The conversations were anti-this or anti-that. Biden messed up Afghanistan, I don’t want my kids to wear a mask. One father demanded his kids be home schooled because the elementary school had a mask mandate. Another guy whined about bad roads and, in the same paragraph, said he was against the infrastructure bill because Biden was robbing the people. Being against something seems to be more popular than taking the time to be aware, to investigate and understand what is really going on. It’s so much more fun to be against something. Americans became more “anti” over the last four years because they were taught that being a complainer, a putdown artist and an outrageous personality wasn’t a disorder; it was a valuable attribute. Yes, it’s Donald Trump’s fault. Sorry to complain.

Motoring over stretches of barren land last week, it dawned on me that we Americans waste so much time on insipid conversations, unimportant social media rants, likes and dislikes that we no longer have awareness of what we are doing and what is happening all around us. We are melting our planet with emissions, burning our forests with raging fires, and creating strange weather pattens that will wash away our homelands. Did we want another whack of the hammer so badly that we elected a climate change denier?

We stood down and took foolish advice from a craven lunatic instead of fighting the pandemic. We should have shut things down and started wearing masks at the very beginning. Sadly, we had no one to lead us, no one to cheerlead us to victory. We simply had an unaware anti-American in the White House.

And those deeply loyal Republicans in power, who cling to a fantasy that things were oh so good with President 45, are just as much part of the problem. They, too, are anti-American. When Rand Paul claims that masks do nothing, I wonder what he would say if a doctor about to operate on him refused to scrub up and wear a mask. About 20% of us are anti-science, anti-mask and anti-vaccine. “I don’t trust anything from the government” may be an interesting bumper sticker, but we will tread on you if you stand in the way of our kids’ safety and health. You can be a drunken driver in your backyard, but as soon as you take your vehicle to the road you are on GOVERNMENT LAND. Follow the rules.


We knew that the great divide in America would have a major effect on the presidential election in the year 2020, but something else was lurking that we didn’t anticipate. The world suffered a global pandemic of Covid-19, and everything changed. The lockdown motivated one author to write MASHED POTATOES: Covid, Cancer & Comfort Food. The cover ironically claims the book is a “humorous” recollection of 2020, but one might ask, “Where was the humor?” This is a work of survival to motivate those who desire to get beyond Covid-19, beat cancer and defend our precious Democracy.  The world got Covid, the writer got cancer and we all ate copious amounts of comfort food. It’s time to swallow the truth, survive the madness, take a large spoon and savor some delicious MASHED POTATOES. Get some here. 

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Trump’s Classroom Conundrum

I could open today’s post with a wise crack about the commander in chief not knowing the meaning of the word, “conundrum,” but I won’t. We are at a fork in the road with two possible routes, and both are challenging.

Our kids have been out of school for more than five months. Some districts and families created robust, online programs to keep the students up to speed, but no one would argue that non-teacher interactions are better than real schools. Most children would also agree because they want to see their friends and learn. Yes, once a kid gets into the discovery mode they want more.

In my recent book, Gold, God, Guns & Goofballs – A Collection of Essays on America, I included two chapters that focused on education in America, 165 Doors and Charter Vs. Public. Public schools are both taxpayer-funded and managed by an array of political people and structures, which can keep a good district down. While teachers’ unions and bargaining agents were created to get teachers better deals, some believe their draconian rule making interferes with community budget planning and any contraction attempts. Our future has always depended on education of the next generation and no one wants to go backwards.

I can’t imagine many mothers and fathers returning to work without the publicly funded babysitter program. Sorry, but that is what some people call it. However, I am sure we all can agree that getting our offspring back to school will make America better. The person who inflicts the most damage to American schools is not Donald Trump. It’s his Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, who is a totally unqualified Republican donor promoting a 21st century segregation scheme under the cloak of “vouchers” and “school choice.” By funding religious and private schools with public money, DeVos is helping to disenfranchise those who cannot afford private education. It’s a policy that divides people from their very first day of school.

Unfortunately, people are focusing on the kids, assuming school administrators and teachers can remain safe at work. Sure, one can scrub down those facilities, but will the schools do this five times a day? Unlikely. The theory that children can deal with the virus better than adults may be the biggest flaw in a rush to get back to school. If a school infection breaks out and a student dies from COVID-19, it it will reflect very poorly on Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos. Of course, Trump will simply blame or fire DeVos for anything bad that happens.

The burden of school districts to clean the structures and test their teachers will demand more money from the federal government and state leaders. Keeping kids safe and smart is paramount. Because the President of the United States has diabolically made the global pandemic personal and political, we will never know what could have been if we had taken careful and scientific steps. We tend to go overboard in protecting our children, and the rush to open schools violates the thoughts and feelings of most parents. Some don’t even let their kids be vaccinated, so why would those same PTA members want to take such a risk? No parent wants their child to be the lab rat in a government experiment.

Most school districts take their guidance and funding of safety measures from their state, not the federal government. Yes, all schools get money from the national budget, but most school boards believe Washington doesn’t know how to run their schools. The President dictates that schools open on his command, but only teachers and administrators understand the stark implications. School districts are currently calling on their administrators to craft a plan, while teachers are seeking a strong strategy to stay safe. Teachers unions are asking important questions that I am sure have never been considered by the village idiots, Donald and Betsy. And of course, the states to open first have the highest percentages of positivity rates.

The most frustrating thing about the coronavirus is the lack of proven and reliable information. One day we are told it spreads six feet, then we are told it doesn’t stay on surfaces, then we are told it that it does stay on surfaces, for hours, then we are told that small droplets can stay in the air for a long time and infect more. Could our indoor social distancing guidelines not be based on exact science? Our slow uptake on mask wearing means we have lost an advantage in this fight. We are playing catch-up ball.

I want to ask Donald Trump why he is pressuring schools to open after saying that decision is up to the state governors? He’s been rebuked for not issuing a national order of mask-wearing and was told directly that he doesn’t have the power to make governors do his bidding. He might want to ask the local leaders what they think is best and stop being a bully.

The misinformation and lies by our President have made the pandemic worse. He forced his sycophant governors to open early, and they are paying the price. The skyrocketing number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Texas, Georgia, Florida and Arizona show the power of this virus and the biggest reason NOT TO OPEN SCHOOLS until we are certain it is safe to do so.

The large orange ostrich with his head in the ground needs a good swift kick in his fat ass so he can pull his head out of his partisan hole. The conundrum of reopening schools should not be a global endeavor. Each school and district are unique. Private schools, even with some sense of immunity from prosecution, will shutter their businesses rather than going through a wrongful death lawsuit, and that places the public schools directly in the crosshairs of this virus. What a terrible way to run a country.

Trump has now tweeted that those states ignoring his arbitrary demand to open their schools will lose federal funding. The Department of Education in every state should be happy they are being treated the same way Trump treats Ukraine. It’s a big, fat quid-pro-quo! Trump’s deal is simple, “You make me look good, and you get the money.” What a horrible President!

During Wednesday’s presser Dr. Robert Redfield didn’t answer the question whether he would change the latest guidelines because Trump didn’t like them. Then a minute later, the large white puppet Pence said the CDC will be revising and publishing a new guideline next week. What a dodge.

The big news out of the COVID Task Force press conference was that there has been very little, if any, testing of kids under 10 years of age. They admit they don’t know the dangers, especially with those with pre-existing conditions. This is another failure of leadership that could be a catastrophe for our kids.

The book that tells it like it is…

Gold, God, Guns & Goofballs: If you only read one chapter of this book, try “Take a Knee for America” and think about our never-ending conflicts between minorities and the police. I’m not asking you to take a stand but having a deep and honest conversation about why some people think the way they do would be productive. This is a book for the moment which seeks to start a conservation about peace. And if you are worried about social media, you really should check out the chapter called “Social Media Menace.”

Get the Kindle Version HERE. Or order your paperback edition HERE.