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To re-open or not to re-open


Nobody wants to keep the economy shut down for one second longer than necessary, and I’m not unsympathetic to people who are demanding an end to shelter-in-place orders so that stores can re-open and people start working again.

The problem with the re-open demonstrations, from Michigan to New Jersey to Florida to California, is that the people participating in them aren’t simply demanding that normal economic activity resumes. No, to judge from their MAGA hats, National Rifle Association placards, anti-abortion shirts, religious sloganeering and other indicators of far-right extremism, these people are out there promoting a Trump agenda, which is not in the interests of most Americans. The organizers of these demonstrations are simply using coronavirus as a Trojan horse to hide their subversive agenda.

There seems to be pre-planned collusion between these far-right agitators and Trump himself. Is it a coincidence that his “Liberate” tweets coincide with those states in which the largest re-open demonstrations occur—and that they have Democratic governors? Trump politicizes everything he touches; his concerns are not with the average everyday American, but with his own personal goals of getting re-elected and enriching himself and his family. Anything to stay in power: that’s the mark of a banana republic tyrant.

By this time, we’ve become familiar with the people who go to Trump rallies: they’ve overwhelmingly white, and beneath their MAGA caps you see frenzied violence twisting their faces into smears of anger; you cringe at the craziness and hostility in their bulging eyes, their mouths black holes of incoherent rage. These are the same faces the world saw in Germany in the 1930s as Brownshirts and Hitler Youth stampeded through the streets. I saw one woman at a Michigan re-open rally holding an “I WILL NOT COMPLY” sign, as if she were Rosa Parks refusing to sit at the back of the bus, as if saving her own life were a Democratic plot.

When I see that I WILL NOT COMPLY sign, what I see is a confused, troubled brain. A brain that denies science. A brain that very probably feels superior in intelligence to people of color. A brain that thinks that homosexuals are going to burn in hell. A brain that thinks Donald J. Trump is a good role model for children. A Christian brain that thinks it has a special pipeline to God—as if God only speaks to Protestant Republicans. A brain that would rather scream and rant at people it disagrees with than sit and reason with them. These are the kinds of brains that elevated Hitler to power, and then sat back complacently as their government burned six million Jews. These are the brains that saw the ashes of incinerated bone falling down from the sky, and smelled the acrid smell of roasting bodies, as they drank their beer, ate their wiener schnitzel, and thanked Odin for having sent Adolf Hitler to them. These are pagan brains, although that’s probably unfair to genuine pagans.

I’m not happy being cooped up in my home. I want to get to the gym. I’m tired of facemasks: my glasses get all fogged up and my nose itches. I want to go to bars and have beer and pizza and to sushi restaurants again. I want my friends who have small businesses—the barber, the tattoo parlor, the wine shop—to make money, and I want their employees to make money. I want my city to have the taxes to pay cops, fire fighters, school teachers, garbagemen. I want my state of California to continue creating millions and millions of jobs, as they did for ten straight years until this coronavirus situation ended it. But what I can’t understand for the life of me is why and how these Republicans think that re-opening the country is not an incredible danger. How could anyone be that stupid? All I can conclude is that they want a massive die-off in America—even if it includes their loved ones—because as Steve Bannon promised, they want utter disruption, and this virus is made-to-order to bring about chaos. “You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs” goes the old saying; these Republicans are willing to break [i.e. allow to die] a few million Americans so that they can build their evangelical theocracy in my country. What a price to pay for an omelet.

Well, some states are going to re-open sooner than others, and the fact is that Democratic states are going to remain closed longer than Republican states. On my West Coast, Gavin Newson (California), Jay Inslee (Washington) and Kate Brown (Oregon) are going to protect lives; in states like South Dakota and Georgia, they’re going to re-open and keep their fingers crossed, hoping that a politically acceptable number of people die.

Yes, it’s come to this: the ultimate politicization of disease. It didn’t have to go this far, except for the perverted behavior of the current occupant in the White House. I’m old, but I want to live long enough to see three things (1) the end of coronavirus, (2) History utterly condemn Trump and his movement; and (3) the I WON’T COMPLY idiots who enable him brought to some kind of fierce justice, including getting really ill with COVID-19.

  1. Bob Henry says:

    From The New York Times “The Daily” (April 22nd) 30-minute radio show broadcast on NPR affiliate stations:

    “Who’s Organizing the Lockdown Protests?”



  2. Bob Henry says:

    Steve, the path forward is less sanguine than you might wish.

    According to a NPR radio report  I heard on Wednesday, a full capacity restaurant that seats (say) 100 diners would be reduced to 10 due to the 6 feet of social distancing guideline.

    Wait! What you say?

    Not, that is not a typo on my part.  Ten diners.

    By having everyone separated by 6 feet . . . including 6 feet of separation between members of your dinner party . . . by my calculation (based on the radio report) that’s about one person per table.

    How can a restaurant stay open with a “full house” seating of as few as 10 diners?

    Think about sushi bars.  The most acclaimed sushi bars comprise a single counter where everyone sits, personally attended to by a sushi master standing three feet away.  Does every counter-only sushi bar close?

    And then there is this: the coronavirus can be spread by the simple act of exhaling one’s breath. Doesn’t require forcefully expelling air from your lungs through coughing or sneezing.

    From Science Magazine (April 2, 2020):

    “You may be able to spread coronavirus just by breathing, new report finds.”


    And this from the New York Post (March 31, 2020):

    “Coronavirus could travel 27 feet, stay in air for hours: MIT researcher”


    27 feet? There goes your 6 feet of separation guideline.

    Consider: at a restaurant or bar, you have to take your face mask off to eat or drink.

    What restaurant or bar patron wishes to expose himself to someone else’s exhaled breath (possibly infused with the coronavirus), that is languidly hanging in the air as an aerosol cloud?

    Not to sound like Mr. Buzzkill, but I predict that city and county and state health officials will keep restaurants and bars closed — fearing transmission of the coronavirus by patrons’ exhaled breaths — until we have either an antibody treatment (6 months away) or a vaccine (12 to 18 months away).

    And finally this sobering news: yesterday April 23rd the distribution giant Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits laid off 400 salespersons tasked with calling on restaurant and wine bar accounts.

    That tells me SGWS sees no significant sales revenue coming from those establishments in the immediate future.

    “Essential businesses” still open — wine stores and grocery stores — are Southern’s new sales force priority.

    And don’t be surprised if other distributors follow suit, laying off their on-premise salespersons.

  3. Bob Henry says:

    A clarification, and an update.

    A note this morning from a sales rep friend in the industry informs me that SGWS on-premises salespersons calling on restaurant and bar accounts are “furloughed,” not “laid off.”

    To those SGWS employees, one doesn’t feel much different from the other.

    And this update: that same friend informs me that distributor Young’s Market will “furlough” both on-premises AND off-premises (i.e., wine stores and grocery stores accounts) effective in May. Notices to Young’s Market employees have already gone out.

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