To my Trumpist friends

By Erik Dolson

The election was called a few minutes ago, finally. Trump lost.

You are bitterly disappointed, and believe the election was “stolen” from you. That is not true. You believe that people unlike you voted for Biden. That is partly true. But every vote counts, that’s the American way.

You believe undeserving people will benefit from this election. Probably true. But undeserving people benefitted from Trump. That is definitely true.

So now what? Where will your disappointed anger lead?

It’s probably futile, but I’ll ask you to listen: You have legitimate grievances, you face difficult decisions, you suffer hardship. You have also been misled by people who profit by feeding you outrage.

I am not your enemy. I am your neighbor. We have been friends. And I will work as hard to improve your situation as I did to defeat a man I believe was destroying the foundations of our country. Believe that or not, and I know you don’t believe it now and possibly never will, because fear is much more persuasive than truth.

I don’t know how we will come together in a future where social media, the Russians, the Chinese, and Fox talking heads have such an investment in keeping us divided. And you’d have to be willing to meet me part way. But the invitation is there.

Now, it’s time to get to work creating an affordable social safety net that still assures freedom of choice, creating opportunities for ALL Americans to build a future, including you who feel like you’ve just lost the America you love, recreating a country where freedom walks hand in hand with responsibility and success, and fighting together against those who use and then discard you.

Please help, whenever you’re ready.

Republicans think Trump will lose

By Erik Dolson

Much has been written about why Republicans have refused to approve more pandemic relief for the unemployed, small businesses and state governments.

It’s not about “blue state bailouts,” and it’s certainly not about fiscal prudence after the GOP promoted $2 trillion dollar deficits to pad the incomes of the top 1% long before the pandemic struck and 215,000 people died (about 60,000 as a direct result of Trump’s incompetence).

The actual reason Republicans in Congress are not helping Americans? They know additional relief is needed to avoid national misery. They want that misery, not relief, to be identified with the administration of Joe Biden. The Republicans in power do not believe Trump will win.

Yes, this is callous nearly to the point of incomprehension, but Republicans in Congress have become the party willing to sacrifice the institutions of democracy and welfare of Americans to achieve their goal of hanging on to power at all costs for as long as possible. Which means ignoring the plight of the American people in the midst of a pandemic and economic meltdown.

The surging stock market means nothing to working Americanss. The waitress with two kids doesn’t have a 401K, she doesn’t even have a job. The guy stacking apples at the market is not investing in Apple. The 70 year-old breathing hard while struggling to help customers at the hardware store is as likely to own Amazon stock as he is to paddle down the Amazon.

Republicans know this. Republicans in Congress know they could help the people of America, they know that Americans need help as millions have lost jobs and with those jobs, lost health insurance. They know Americans need health care.

But Republicans in Congress do NOT want relief to come during an administration with a Democrat in the White House. They want the misery to stick to Democrats, they want to be able to blame “socialism” (which is a lie), and they sit on their hands rather than do what they can to help Americans because they believe Trump will lose.

Does ACB change the real equation?

By Erik Dolson

The nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the U. S. Supreme Court has ignited commentary across our society, from Fox News to the Washington Post.

My favorite conservative writer, Ross Douthat of the New York Times, is Catholic, brilliant, and meticulous in his arguments. Douthat, who feels feels society lost its equilibrium as it embraced liberal values, wrote a piece grandly titled “The Meaning of Amy Coney Barrett.”

In “Meaning…” he tries to describe what a “conservative prescription” might look like:

“…professional women across the country (and, by extension, many husbands in their dual-earner homes) whose life courses generally resemble the rest of their class, but with certain choices that seem somewhat more eccentric or askew. That means shorter dating lives and earlier marriages, four or five children instead of two or fewer, and other more traditionally coded choices — more frequent churchgoing, denser social networks, living closer to extended family, work lives designed more around home life than the reverse.”

I know families like those Douthat describes, and my love and envy for them are both deep. But there’s more to think about in Douthat’s ideal than I have thought about, though a few ideas float immediately to the surface. 

First, different women want different things, and there would have to be some form of coercion — legal, social, or economic — to arrive societally at the place he describes. Telling a woman she should have five children instead of two would result in some interesting conversations, at least with the women I know.

Second, there would be an absolute irony, if not outright contradiction, for those on the right who favor individual responsibility and self direction in almost every other facet of personal, political and economic interaction to coerce — call it what you will — a particular form of behavior in a free society.

Third, Douthat’s argument is about “professional women.” The vast majority of women in today’s world find themselves without many of his “eccentric choices,” but overwhelmed by circumstances beyond their control in an internet society that does not or can not reenforce these choices (see first point).

So even if I did not disagree with Douthat’s “conservative prescription,” I am uncertain we could ever get there from here.

Trump the Betrayer

by Erik Dolson

Let’s wrap our heads around this: Trump says he supports the military, uses the military to show he is “strong,” yet privately calls veterens who died in war “losers” and “chumps,” confirmed by a Fox reporter that Trump is now trying to “cancel.”

Trump knew last January, certainly by February 7, that COVID-19 was a particularly serious disease, far worse than the flu. But over the last six months, Trump lied to the country that the coronavirus wasn’t serious. At first he said it was “one person, from China.” As it got worse, he blamed others: “It’s Obama’s fault, it’s China’s fault, it’s WHO’s fault, it’s New York’s fault… “

We still don’t have enough masks. Whose fault is that?

For the last six months, Trump encouraged behavior by his supporters that made our country one of the sickest in the world: Don’t wear masks. Protest governors trying to contain the virus. Hurry and open bars and schools, the virus is no big deal, it will magically disappear.

As a result, tens of thousands of Americans died needlessly from the disease.

My Trump-loving neighbors, Trump has said that he does not respect you. It’s your loyalty he craves, your vote, that’s all, and he said as much even before he was elected:

“You know what else they say about my people? The polls, they say I have the most loyal people. Did you ever see that? Where I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay? It’s like incredible!”

Translation: “It doesn’t matter! I could be a murderer and those chumps would vote for me! It’s like incredible!” This is a man whose moral compass points only at himself.

Evangelicals? Here’s what Trump thinks of your Christian faith: “Can you believe that bullshit? Can you believe people believe that bullshit?” How can Christians support a man whose entire life is a repudiation of Christ, who mocks your Bible when not holding it up pretending he’s a Believer?

Please, Trumpers, see this awful man for who he is. He sits in palaces lying to you while at the same time laughing at you. See the contempt so obvious in his words and his belief that you will accept anything he says, everything he does. Understand that he has killed tens of thousands of us with his lies, and could not care less about that.

Turn your back, finally, on this fake president.

Portland’s been dying for decades

By Erik Dolson

I spent my first 18 years of life in the Portland area, and seven years after that until my early thirties when I came to Sisters, Oregon to publish the local newspaper.

I loved Portland. For years I said Portland was like a well-worn leather jacket I could slip into any time and it still fit just fine.

That hasn’t been true for more than a decade, and certainly not in the 2020s. At the beginning of June I visited the city, taking 405 downtown and exiting at Everett Street, close to where I used to live in Northwest Portland when I waited tables at a couple of the finest restaurants in town, The Ringside and Jakes Famous Crawfish.

The scene at the Everett Street exit hit me like a bucket of water thrown from a second floor window. The tents, the trash, the squalor were like nothing I’d seen in person since I travelled through India. Portland had become a third world experience. I was devastated.

I started to write a letter to the Willamette Week newspaper that began, “Seriously, Portland?” But I didn’t finish it because I didn’t have anything to offer beyond my shock and disappointment, really. I had no solution, besides, “Don’t do this to yourself! You’re beautiful! You have a future!” The same advice I’d give a friend sliding back into addiction, sores on her face and angry, dripping lesions in her arm.

Then came the death of George Floyd, and more than 50 days of protests, what some call riots, and the abdication of leadership by city managers that has been taken advantage of by punks. And now, that has been followed by the invasion of Portland by federal agents using what are probably illegal tactics, pulling innocent people off the street without cause and beyond the stated mission to protect federal buildings.

But I’ll let others, who know far more than I about the law, debate the constitutionality of those actions. I think sending in federal agents, whether Trump’s idea or Barr’s, is a bad move for other reasons, and they should clear out and let Portland be Portland, let the city find its own level, let the policies of the mayor and city council play out to their conclusion.

Like any addict, eventually the city will hit bottom. Those in charge at that time will have to make hard decisions about what to do about homelessness, loss of opportunity, eratic law enforcement, financial ruin and finally, whether to look up, buck up, or give up. Portland is not healthy, and will soon be on life support.

A friend of mine was once powerful in the Portland area financial scene, and later a major developer of the Pearl District. The last time we met, he was lamenting the anti-business bias in Oregon in general and especially the city he called home, and said there would eventually be an exodus of investment and talent.

More than 50 days of protests, what some have called riots, have likely accelerated that process. It does not matter if the vandals, arsonists, and thugs are merely a small minority creating chaos within a legitimate protest movement. In a free society, those who can move eventually will move to places where streets are safe, where stores don’t board up windows or shut down in bankruptcy.

Yes, the death of George Floyd should be a catalyst for change. Yes, police brutality is a fact and the culture of Portland Police could use a thorough cleaning. That might more quickly be solved by pay raises, higher standards and accountability, as opposed to defunding the police. We’ll leave that conversation to another day.

But violence is not the answer to any social discord, whether in protest or counter protest. Violence and destruction are too damn easy, not sustainable, and turns people you need against your cause.

Trump sending in federal troops in anonymous uniforms and unmarked vans will end in failure and they should leave, by court order if necessary and damn soon, hopefully before death and more destruction. Protesters need to focus on their message, learn from Martin Luther King and Gandhi, and show responsibility to the community whose attention they are trying to attract.

The 50 days of protest, what some have called riots, is Portland’s problem in the final analysis, and fittingly a liberal’s problem, in my opinion. But Portland has sores that have been festering for a number of years. We now simply see a bit of gangrene that could have been prevented by better interventions a long time ago.

Hopefully it’s not a fatal condition for a city I still want to love.

This is NOT a drill

by Erik Dolson

Another day lost to the coronavirus, another week gone by.  We’re in a row boat, Republicans have the only oar. They row on their side only and around, around we go.

“The states will do testing,” Trump says (on Monday, could change any time). Mitch McConnell says “blue” states should be punished for past spending by withholding money needed to pay cops, nurses, firefighters. “Let them go bankrupt,” he says.

It’s one thing if McConnell’s Kentucky opens up for business today or tomorrow. Agreed, that’s up to their governor. But then, do we restrict travelers from Kentucky because they can’t afford to test? How do we know if Kentucky is a hotbed of virus? If some states test and others do not, do we build walls between them?

Once again: The coronavirus is a national problem, affecting national health and the national economy, and requires a coherent national response. Here is a minimum national strategy, suggested by someone who knows, Paul Romer, a 2018 Nobel laureate in economics and former chief economist for the World Bank, as reported in the Washington Post:

“… federal government should test every American once every two weeks to reestablish national confidence and jump-start the economy — an effort he estimated at $100 billion, all told.

That cost, he said, pales in comparison to the amount of lost economic activity the pandemic has caused. Romer, an expert in economic modeling, estimates that the United States is losing at least $500 billion a month in domestic production; other economists have suggested the figure is larger still.

‘Every month of delay makes the recovery slower — and take longer,’ Romer said.”

This is not a drill. As Trump flounders, American’s die and prospects for the future grow dim.

Give Trump a break!

By Erik Dolson

God, it pains me to say it.

The press is being unfair to Trump.

His missteps last Thursday at the coronavirus update were serious. Talking about using light on people to kill the virus in a minute, or wondering if there was some way disinfectant could be used internally to destroy the virus, was not his best moment.

But if I usually try to look at what Trump means, as opposed to what he says, I have to do the same here. In his own way, Trump was asking if these things might be possible, not advocating that people mainline Clorox or stand outside, mouths open, facing the sun.

Of course, it’s Trump, so he got in this trouble hoping to take credit if a cure was discovered that could even remotely be tied to his questions. Great leader stops the volcano!

It was only Trump’s fundamental inability to express himself clearly (reflecting education and mental ability) that made it seem like he might have been making a recommendation. Which makes it no less dangerous, just less stupid.

But Trump’s inability to acknowledge shortcomings or mistakes made the situation much worse the next day, when he claimed his comment was made sarcastically as a way to trap a hostile press. There’s a lot of video out there that shows this was clearly not the case.

Trump was caught in a trap of his own making: he said something kinda dumb, then obviously lied about it. At that point, he couldn’t explain away his earlier statements without being caught by the classic lawyer’s checkmate: Are you lying now, or were you lying then?

No wonder the press briefing the next day was so short.

Since then, the story that Trump was advising people to treat their insides with antiseptic has been elaborated on and joked about (this writer guilty). Which simply reenforces the idea on the right that the Left is incapable of being fair to Trump.

The episode has deeper meaning, however. It is not just that those believing every Word of Trump is Gospel are put in danger by his inability to recognize that the office of President of the United States is an obligation greater than Trump. What the country needs right now is a leader to inspire during a true crisis that affects us all, to unite us, to bring out the best in us, to create a plan of action based on sound professional advice.

But since the coronavirus crisis struck, Trump has shown over and over again he is not that man.

Everything coming out of his mouth has been intended to serve his ego and preserve his power. From dismissing the virus as one person coming in from China, to blaming China and the World Health Organization for not giving him information he already had, to blaming impeachment as a distraction, to saying an obviously bungled program to test and provide protective gear was not his doing, to saying he was in control of virus strategy and then saying instead it was up to governors, and then undercutting governor’s orders, Trump has proven that a presidency founded on serving his interests fails when we need leadership the most.

So the press should lay off on the light / antiseptic miscommunication of last Thursday, and give the man a break. We all make mistakes when speaking, and there was a lot of pressure to seem like he was in command. Instead, we should focus on the real issue: Trump is simply unfit for the office.

What will survive the virus?

By Erik Dolson

The coronavirus is a once-in-a-generation event. As it has ended many lives, going forward it will define many others. It will perhaps define our country, what we have become and who we will be.

The virus is an insidious enemy, spreading among people who do not appear to be sick. It can attack in terrifying ways, causing blood clots and strokes in young and seemingly healthy people, invading the lungs in a way that does not cause shortness of breath until there is too little oxygen for life.

But the damage is not suffered just by individuals with the virus, and their families. Our economy teeters on the edge as we try to limit a death toll that reached 50,000 in this country alone in about one month. We have had to change how we live. The coronavirus and its aftermath are threats to the whole country, a threat to the whole world.

One argument against the U.S. going to war against the Nazis was they were “over there,” on the other side of a great moat that separated America from Europe. That was a false argument then, too, but there are no moats any more, if there ever were, against disease.

Diseases like this are wars between species, and ours is under threat. It’ s the type of threat that requires us to come together as a people, as humanity. It is a threat that should unite us in a battle where our collective will can overcome an alien species that takes individual lives and may destroy whole nations.

Others here know history far better than I, but phrases from past crises come to mind. “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” “United we stand, divided we fall.”

America has excelled when faced with this type of challenge. Acknowledging  Winston Churchill’s back handed compliment, “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing — after they’ve tried everything else,” we have done the right thing, and we prevailed. We saved countless lives, we saved nations, we saved democracy, we saved freedom.

But we did it together.

Trump’s strategy of spreading fear and loathing, divide and conquer, winning is all that matters, has been shockingly successful in this Age of Facebook where ideologies are reenforced and common interests buried. The strategy helped Trump take over the Republican party and helped Republicans capture the debate of what it means to be an American.

But over the last several weeks, it’s been obvious that strategy is the wrong way to fight the coronavirus. The virus is not contained in New York. The Midwest is not a separate world. Louisiana is not south of the border. We can’t shrug and let each state take care of their own. We are in this together.

We can’t let urban states go bankrupt, as if they didn’t support rural states with money and expertise as they do. We can’t let rural states suffer as if their culture wasn’t a crucial strength of America, as we have in the past. We can’t turn our backs on anyone. If the virus hides out in a pocket in Kentucky, or in Africa, it WILL escape and come for the rest of us.

I am not advocating action as a liberal. There are many liberal agendas I do not support, and there are left wing interests I feel are destructive. But now is not the time to take sides. Despite two generations of depletion by liberals and deconstruction by conservatives, America united still has the ability to lead the world in this fight against an enemy that could kill any of us, and destroy all of us.

But only if we stand shoulder to shoulder.

If we can own our individual responsibility to America, and to humanity, we will defeat the coronavirus and future generations will look upon America with appreciation, and perhaps incorporate the principles on which she was built of value to each of us.

If our efforts are driven by selfishness, pettiness, and discord, if divided we will fail. The great American experiment will have been nothing more than a great American Dream unfulfilled, American exceptionalism will have been an exception we never meant it to be.

(Virus photo DAVID MARCHAL/SCIENCE SOURCE)

Just shut up

By Erik Dolson

Shut up! Just shut up, you Cheeto-colored, fat-headed blowhard! Shut up and quit using coronavirus updates to put your ineptitude on display, as if you were proud of it like a five-year-old holding up a drawing done in kindergarten. You are embarrassing America.

Your ignorance, your cluelessness, your egotistical grandstanding, your obvious floundering, are making the Pretend President Show painful to watch. And dangerous. More popular than “The Bachelor,” you say? Bigger audience than “Monday Night Football?” Are you kidding me? What kind of inane, insane monster are you? Turn it off.

Shut up, because we all know English is a foreign language to you, and that you’ve never been that bright, and that adults who still monitor your White House play pen should talk directly to America about the virus. I don’t mean Pence, either, that mealy-mouthed lick-spittle.

Shut up about your “perfect” early response to the virus, about how you prevented diease carriers from coming in from China, because  the virus was already here! People in the White House knew it! Shut up about the World Health Organization too, because for all their faults, they did a better job than YOU.

Shut up about “liberating Michigan,” after you turned virus response over to governors who are making agonizing decisions every damn day. Shut up about disapproving the opening of Georgia for business after you suggested they do exactly that! God, you are such an asshole.

Shut up about your greatness in testing, you pouting, soft-lip scum sucking incompetent, because it’s not true. Testing? We would be testing ourselves but there isn’t an oxymeter to be found in Oregon, nor a bottle of disinfectant, by the way. Why not? Why aren’t there gallons of alcohol disinfectant for sale in every damn drug store in the nation? Because that is clearly something you could do, if you’d stop putting it in our gasoline.

Shut up about your miracle cures, because they aren’t real and YOU ARE KILLING PEOPLE with your ignorance. You have the power of the U.S. government at your fingertips, and you promote bullshit from Rudy Gulianni? Just shut up.

Shut up about how great it’s going to be, real soon, because we are still mourning loved ones we have lost, more deaths to the virus than anywhere in the world, including CHINA!

You don’t think it’s that bad? How many friends have you lost to the virus, how many relatives? None?

Maybe that’s because you are just better than the rest of us, cleaner, more virtuous, you pig-faced grifter, you fake businessman, you shill, you flatulence-exhaling con man. Or, maybe you haven’t lost anyone, and maybe you don’t worry about disinfectant or tests or deaths, beause you live in a bubble of gold plated bathroom fixtures cleaned by servants after every crap you take.

Maybe you don’t care because you don’t have to, and you never did, you silver-spoon-fed pile of twisted  lies, damaged ego and disgusting selfishness.

So just shut up.

Narcissist strategy

By Erik Dolson

Donald Trump  does not care how many die of the virus. He does not care about the economy, either, except how it affects his own wealth. He only wants to be reelected, and rich, and prove he is the greatest man in the world.

On Monday, realizing the economy is getting ugly, he panics. He wants to reopen the country for business, now!  He says he has total control over the nation.

Somebody points out this isn’t true, and actually makes him responsible if things don’t work out. Deaths don’t matter, reelection does.

So on Thursday, he bellows that he’s giving governors the right to open — or not —their individual states. That he had no such power doesn’t matter — he gave himself cover if opening businesses too early results in more deaths. Not his fault! Deaths don’t matter, reelection does.

On Friday, he tweets support for those protesting restrictions, undercutting the governors he “allowed” to act just the day before. So if the economy falls off a cliff, he tried to prevent it! Not his fault! Deaths don’t matter, reelection does.

It’s a perfect strategy for the narcissist. If deaths go up, it’s not his fault! If the economy tanks, he tried to prevent it! And, who else is better qualified to lead the country out of a pandemic depression? Why, it’s Donnie Wonderful to the rescue! Four more years!