Vernon Boardman. RIP My Friend.

It was early fall a few years ago when I met Vernon.  I was sitting alone at Breaking New Grounds having a coffee and he was sitting at the next table sipping his iced latte writing out cards. Never did I think that over that coffee that day I was going to make a great friend. 

Over countless coffees we carried on conversations about travel, politics, music and the people around town.  To me it seemed like everyone knew and loved Vern. Sitting with him at a coffee shop was like sitting at the cool kids table at lunch. 

I wish we had time for one more coffee. 

Vern passed away Wednesday March 3rd after a period of declining health. He had been in the hospital for a while and although  I was unable to see him in person, like many of you,  we often spoke on the phone. In our last conversation we joked about him coming to the gym with me. His final words to me were, “if something happens to me, will you remember me?”  I told him “Of course”. I thought he was just being dramatic. He knew his time was limited.  I would give anything to see his smiling face enjoying his iced latte at Cup of Joes.  All I want is just one more coffee with him. 

Vernon is a Portsmouth legend. When he walked down the street he said Hello to everyone.  He knew everyone in every store or gallery.  The last few years were difficult for him because of his neuropathy. Holding a pen was difficult, but he never missed a holiday to send out hand written cards. You knew you were somebody if you received one of the cards his sister Diana made! I have kept every card he sent me because I knew the time and energy it took him write them out.  Vern would tell you that it took time for him to walk from the bus stop to Cup of Joes because he walked with a walker. Yes, he walked slow.  BUT- he also stopped to talk to everyone. 

Vern had a love for music and travel. We spent hours talking about it. From Jazz to Disco to Rock and Classical. If you were talking about a musician, Vern probably had the CD, maybe 2 of them! He was so happy to share his music. I once mentioned that my son was a Jazz piano player. The next day when we met for coffee he handed me an Oscar Peterson CD and told me which track was his favorite. After a few days I went to return it and he said I could keep it. He had mistakenly bought two of the same a few years apart. I asked him how many duplicate CDs he had. He laughed and said, “Too Many.”  

Because of Covid restrictions his family doesn’t know when they will be able to have a grave side service for him. I will be organizing a “Coffee Party” some day later this spring where we can all get together have a coffee and share our best VERN STORIES. 

His sister has asked me to extend their sincere THANKS to everyone in Portsmouth for their Love and Friendship of Vernon.  I will share information as I get it. If you would like Vern’s Father’s mailing address to send a card please e-mail me. tretrosi@mac.com

I ask each of you today to make sure you have time to get a coffee with a friend. You never know when it’s going to be the last. 

I miss you Vernon. Rest in Peace. 

Gone From My Sight

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,

spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts

for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.

I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck

of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says, “There, she is gone.”

Gone where?

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,

hull and spar as she was when she left my side.

And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me — not in her.

And, just at the moment when someone says, “There, she is gone,”

there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices

ready to take up the glad shout, “Here she comes!”

And that is dying…

Vern and my cousin Alessia from Italy
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Songs To Wake Up To.

A song can get your day started on the right foot. I have a life where I do not normally need to set an alarm. It is a combination of age, a new puppy, and years of waking up at the same time. When I do have to set an alarm, I carefully pick the song to wake up to.

As a joke once, a gymnast I was working with in Italy left a voice memo on my phone and set it as the alarm. The look on my face when I woke up to ” Hi Tony, It’s Time To Get Out Of Bed” was probably priceless.

Through November and the b beginning of December, before we have snow on the ground my wake up song is HAZY SHADE OF WINTER.

When the snow hits the ground and my area of New Hampshire is covered I lean towards Valley Winter Song

As the snow deepens I may have to get up early and be the PLOW GUY. What song is better than Plow Guy Boogaloo

As winter turns to spring- No one said it better than the Beatles, “It’s Been A Long Long Lonely Winter” in their song HERE COMES THE SUN

The Work week in the late spring early summer can really take it’s toll. A song to get you up and ready for the day is another classic, MR BLUE SKY

And as summer hits and it is a little more relaxed A song that gets be jumping out of bed ready for the day is I AM THE SUMMERTIME. I live for those summer days!

As the summer draws to a close there are 2 songs, both performed by the Atari’s that I like to wake up to. They do a cover of Don Henley’s BOYS OF SUMMER

and IN THIS DIARY

And as the September turns to October you MUST wake up to Greenday. Wake Me Up, When September Ends

And a song for all seasons. No matter they weather or my mood. BLITZKRIEG BOP

ENJOY! What do you listen?

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Humor Is Just Tragedy Plus Time.

I believe it was Mark Twain who said, “Humor is just tragedy plus time”. 

There is no better time than now to keep that in perspective.  We are in the midst of the second wave of the Covid19 pandemic.  We have a president who lost the election by more than 7 million votes and is ripping trying to rip the country apart on his way out the door all to sooth his ego. 

Someday, we may be able to laugh about this. Today just isn’t the day. 

I spoke with an old friend the other day. A guy I met when I was just 15 or 16. I am so blessed to still have friends like him in my life.  I was thinking about hime when I was walking out of the gym with one of my employees and I had a tremendous feeling of deja vu. I was remembering all the nights walking out of a gym in NY where we worked. A typical Tuesday night would find us stopping off for a beer after work. It was our way to catch up on the events of the day as well as plan for what needed to happen in the gym the next day. There was a feeling of camaraderie and of never being alone. Knowing that we had each others back.  

Now, as “the boss” there is a certain feeling of loneliness as I work to try to find stability in a turbulent society and a smooth financial path in a rough economy.  I hope that one day I will be able to laugh at this. I will be able to look back with the same fondness and think of the people who I have struggled with.  

When I explained to my friend that the subject matter of most comedy is tragic (pandemic, financial problems, accidents, etc.) he said, “Do you mean to tell me that the dreadful events of the day are a fit subject for humorous comment? The answer is “No, but they will be pretty soon.”

You see, Man jokes about the things that depress him. Otherwise we will go crazy. Our ability to laugh (in time) at tragedy is what makes us human.

Just some thoughts for today

December, 3, 2020

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Time Travel. Do You Believe?

I am not speaking of the ability to get into a time machine and transport back in time or forward in time. I am writing about that moment of magical moment when a song comes on the radio and you immediately get transported back to a wonderful time in your life. The song ends and you just stop. Time stops. Maybe a tear forms in your eye. Maybe you just sit in your car for a few minutes after you reach your destination.

These songs may remind you of something in your youth or maybe something just last summer. It may be a song that rem minds you of your first love, of a love lost, of a friend who you miss. It could be a song that helped get you through a dark time or a song you may have sung to your children or had sung to you by a parent.

As I get inevitably older there are more of those songs and moments.

Early this morning I was leaving our lake house in Northern New Hampshire to head to work. Given where this house is there are very few radio stations for the first part of the journey. I am an NPR junkie and no day is complete with out me catching up in the news or listening to a program. I found NPR on satellite radio and tuned in to a re-run of CAR TALK.

BOOM- I was instantly transported back in time. When I first started listening to car talk I was newly married. We had just bought our first house. Life was so exciting. So filled with possibilities.

I remember that excitement. As I sipped my coffee my mind was filled with memories and hope.

The Covid cases are on their rise again across the world. BUT- there is a vaccine that should be available before next summer. Some day in the future there will a day where you are driving and a song will come on and you will have a GOOD memory of life right now. There is always something good going on. You just need to look for it.

Maybe Time Travel is Possible

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5 Great Things We Should Never Forget About Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-2020)

Source: 5 Great Things We Should Never Forget About Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-2020)

5 Great Things We Should Never Forget About Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-2020)

 
 

A Supreme Court hero, and all-round wise woman, Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Friday at the age of 87 surrounded by family at her home in Washington, D.C.

She was the second woman justice to serve on the highest court in the land—a pioneer in her field, when there were few females in the halls of legal offices or law schools. But there were other reasons we will always remember her.

1) She proved that mothers get things done—and then some. 

RBG showed that being a mother can prove an advantage and not an impediment to a woman’s professional life.

In a 2016 essay for the New York Times, she wrote that she believed her success at Harvard and Columbia Law School—where she graduated joint first in her class in 1959—was actually down to having an infant to care for.

“My success in law school, I have no doubt, was in large measure because of baby Jane. I attended classes and studied diligently until 4 in the afternoon; the next hours were Jane’s time, spent at the park, playing silly games or singing funny songs, reading picture books and A. A. Milne poems, and bathing and feeding her.

“After Jane’s bedtime, I returned to the law books with renewed will. Each part of my life provided respite from the other and gave me a sense of proportion that classmates trained only on law studies lacked.”

2) She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind.

Despite coming out of law school with top grades, no law firm in New York City would hire Ginsburg, who was, by then, a mother of two.

She began teaching at Rutgers and Columbia. Those positions gave RBG the opportunity to advocate for women’s rights. She forged a name for herself that led to her 1980 appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. Thirteen years later, President Clinton nominated her for the Supreme Court.

As one of nine, Ginsburg was known as the “Great Dissenter.” She had special neckwear that she donned, even calling one her Dissent Collar.

The cases on which Justice Ginsburg dissented weren’t trivial: She spoke up on matters of affirmative action, employment discrimination, access to abortion, and controlling political campaign spending.

She demonstrated how, when you believe something’s wrong, to use your voice.

3. She showed there’s value in stoicism. 

In an interview with legal academic Jeffrey Rosen, published in the Atlantic, she spoke of ignoring ‘useless emotions’.

“My mother’s advice was, don’t lose time on useless emotions like anger, resentment, remorse, envy. Those, she said, will just sap time; they don’t get you where you want to be.”

One way I coped with times I was angry: I would sit down and practice the piano. I wasn’t very good at it, but it did distract me from whatever useless emotion I was feeling at the moment. Later, I did the same with the cello. I would be absorbed in the music, and the useless emotion faded away.”

Perhaps that’s why RBG loved listening to classical music all her life—even during her famous workouts.

4. She lived by her morals.

The late justice was never interested in being the loudest, showiest person in the room.

In fact, those who knew her described her as a quiet, “almost retreating” woman with a soft voice.

So what drove her? Her advice to others gives a clue. “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

5. She had hope for the future. 

Speaking with Rosen in late 2019, she said, “Our country has gone through some very bumpy periods. But, I’ll tell you the principal reason why I’m optimistic: It’s the young people I see.

“My lawyer granddaughter, my law clerks, are determined to contribute to the good of society. And to work together. So the young people make me hopeful.

“They want to take part in creating a better world. Think of Malala. Think of Greta Thunberg in Sweden. What is she, 15, 16? Yes, I’m putting my faith in the coming generations.”

Posted in Current events | 1 Comment

WHY PEOPLE SUPPORT TRUMP

I find it funny that many so many enable Trump and follow him blindly when clearly Trump does not care about anyone but himself. Last night President Trump was asked if he was worried about his latest rally and the virus. He said he wasn’t worried because he was far enough away from everyone. He obviously didn’t care about his adoring fans who are now risking life to go and see him.

For decades Donald Trump has been a masterful marketer. He created controversy to keep his name in the news. His entire empire is based on his cult of personality. He viewed compassion as a weakness. If he was with just one woman it was unmanly. He brought the same attitude and bravado to the White House. The presidency is about him not about America. He is the boss who will take all the credit and none of the blame. Anyone who contradicts him is not around a very long time!

The reality is that the Presidents supporters are not as fond of him as he would like to believe. He is just a manifestation of their anger and sense of loss of status. I find it ironic that many of the same people who say that, “people should pull themselves up by their boot straps” and that “any form of a social welfare is going to make a person lazy” are the same people who blame Latin Americans for taking their jobs. Who blame undocumented immigrants for crime (statistically undocumented immigrants are the least likely to commit a crime). Any success they have is because they are hard workers. Any shortcomings they experience is someone else’s fault. Forget facts, they just need someone to blame. One of the favorite groups is “those damn liberals”. They are just coming to take our guns (has anyone on the last 40 years had a gun taken?!). They are coming to close our churches and make us follow sharia law (laws have to go through the court system). So, in my opinion, there is not so much love for Donald Trump, but a hate of Liberals.

I saw this on FB this morning and wanted to share.

“Dana” posed this question: “Why do people continue supporting Trump no matter what he does?” A lady named Bev answered it this way:

“You all don’t get it. I live in Trump country, in the Ozarks in southern Missouri, one of the last places where the KKK still has a relatively strong established presence.
They don’t give a shit what he does. He’s just something to rally around and hate liberals, that’s it, period.

He absolutely realizes that and plays it up. They love it. He knows they love it.
The fact that people act like it’s anything other than that proves to them that liberals are idiots, all the more reason for high fives all around.

If you keep getting caught up in “why do they not realize this problem” and “how can they still back Trump after this scandal,” then you do not understand what the underlying motivating factor of his support is. It’s fuck liberals, that’s pretty much it.
Have you noticed he can do pretty much anything imaginable, and they’ll explain some way that rationalizes it that makes zero logical sense?

Because they’re not even keeping track of any coherent narrative, it’s irrelevant. Fuck liberals is the only relevant thing.

Trust me; I know firsthand what I’m talking about. That’s why they just laugh at it all because you all don’t even realize they truly don’t give a fuck about whatever the conversation is about.

It’s just a side mission story that doesn’t matter anyway. That’s all just trivial details—the economy, health care, whatever.
Fuck liberals.

Look at the issue with not wearing masks. I can tell you what that’s about. It’s about exposing fear. They’re playing chicken with nature, and whoever flinches just moved down their internal pecking order, one step closer to being a liberal.

You’ve got to understand the one core value that they hold above all others is hatred for what they consider weakness because that’s what they believe strength is, hatred of weakness.

And I mean passionate, sadistic hatred. And I’m not exaggerating. Believe me. Sadistic, passionate hatred, and that’s what proves they’re strong, their passionate hatred for weakness.

Sometimes they will lump vulnerability in with weakness. They do that because people tend to start humbling themselves when they’re in some compromising or overwhelming circumstance, and to them, that’s an obvious sign of weakness.
– Kindness = weakness.
– Honesty = weakness.
– Compromise = weakness.

They consider their very existence to be superior in every way to anyone who doesn’t hate weakness as much as they do. They consider liberals to be weak people that are inferior, almost a different species, and the fact that liberals are so weak is why they have to unite in large numbers, which they find disgusting, but it’s that disgust that is a true expression of their natural superiority.

Go ahead and try to have a logical, rational conversation with them. Just keep in mind what I said here and be forewarned.”

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Why Masks Work BETTER Than You’d Think – Just Give Me Positive Good News

Source: Why Masks Work BETTER Than You’d Think – Just Give Me Positive Good News

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This is the End

This Is the End

There’s a simple reason why this election really is different. byNATHANIEL A. G. ZELINSKY  AUGUST 31, 2020 5:16 AM The Bulwork

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Until this election, I’ve never felt as if everything was on the line, that if my preferred candidate lost, something devastating and irrevocable would occur.

In the past, when I met people who felt this way, their mindset puzzled me. How could my conservative friends seriously have believed that four years of a Hillary Clinton administration could somehow end America as we know it? How could my liberal friends really have thought that Mitt Romney’s presidency could do the same? This impulse always seemed like a naivety that prized an artificially short-term view over the longer arc of American history.

Believing in liberal democracy means accepting a very particular bargain: that your team will lose some, win others, and that by and large, the world won’t end either way.

Sure, you might not love what happens to your marginal tax rate. You might favor stricter or looser environmental regulations. You might like or dislike certain judges appointed to the federal bench. But you also get to make a course correction two or four years later. Nothing can be fundamentally broken from one election to another.

And the truth is that adopting a sky-is-falling view undermines the every-day workings of politics. When you view your policy opponents as the devil, you refuse to engage in the compromises necessary for liberal democracy to function. Instead, you buy into a mindset that you must stop at nothing, adopt any tactic, and make common cause with any ally, no matter how noxious, in order to defeat evil.

Liberal democracy depends on a give-and-take across parties. But when you see the other side as inimically opposed to each one of your values, how can you possibly trade horses with them?

It’s not entirely the voters’ fault that they tend to see every election as monumental: We’re a country that brands anything as “historic”—from the Super Bowl to Labor Day car sales. Most of the time, though, presidential elections aren’t “historic” in the sense of defining events for years to come. They’re just referendums on a particular set of policies that, give or take, will nudge the polity in one direction or another.

I know all of that. I believe all of that.

And yet, this time, I can’t shake the feeling that the election has us on a looming precipice that’s pretty important. Historic, even.

I have a sense that if Donald Trump wins, the American project as we know it may not fully recover. The Republic will limp along, some pale echo of former glory, but it won’t ever fulfill the promise of offering “the last best hope of earth.”

So why is it that this time seems different?

The reason is actually pretty simple:

After his acquittal in the Senate, Donald Trump has fully internalized just how much the American constitutional order runs on the honor system.

And Donald Trump couldn’t care less about honor.

So he’s willing to torch the basic bargain of liberal democracy, just to get reelected: He has openly mused about postponing the election and acknowledged that he would like to defund the Post Office in order to prevent people from voting by mail, which would disenfranchise large swaths of Americans. He has said, over and over, that the election is rigged against him. He has refused to say that he will accept a loss. He’s figured out that, though he can’t use the military domestically, he can deploy various federal law enforcement agencies to assault protestors.

From his official perch in the White House, he has toyed with the idea that the opposing vice presidential nominee can’t legally run for office. He has dismissed the intelligence community’s conclusions that Russia is interfering in this election on his behalf. Meanwhile, if the lastgo around is any guide, his campaign will eagerly seek assistance from Moscow or other foreign powers. (Actually, they already have.)

Put another way:

Trump finally knows that he really does have a free hand to do whatever he likes because 40 percent of the country will support him, whether or not it’s legal.

And his responses to breaking the law have devolved from dissembling evasions or shaky rationales into—this is quite literally what his own chief of staff just said—“nobody cares.”

On top of all of this—and I didn’t even imagine this was possible—Trump and his surrogates have somehow managed to lean even further into a strategy of dehumanizing his opponents, making it all the easier to convince his supporters to permit extraordinary measures against ordinary Americans. Repeatedlychanting that Biden will “destroy suburbia” with an “invasion” doesn’t even pretend to hide the ball.

In truth, I shouldn’t be so surprised. Embracing bigotry has been Trump’s modus operandi from “Mexicans are rapists” through “ban all Muslims.” I honestly just didn’t realize it would reach this level of constant dehumanization so quickly.

These are authoritarian impulses, plain and simple, and they are dangerous precisely because they seek to undermine the social compact at the heart of liberal democracy: Even when you lose, you obey the result because the process was fair and you can try again the next round. You know your fellow Americans, your neighbors, have just as much of a right to govern the nation as you do.

But now one side is not-so-quietly saying, “Maybe not.”

With this election what’s at stake isn’t policies so much as the basic bargain that governs our political system. And for the first time in my life, I’m genuinely fearful that, should the other side win, I might not be able or allowed to right the national ship in the next election.

That’s new. That’s different.

And it’s why this really is a defining moment for the country.

My own notes:

I am a frequent international traveler. I have spent extensive amounts of time in Iceland, Italy and Germany as well as Canada. I have spent time working in Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica.

When I was traveling it was obvious that the USA was the envy of the world. Many people wanted to know how we would handle a situation. How our government worked. They wanted our help.

Covid19 has exposed the mean and ugly truth about our country. We have no working healthcare system. A large part of the country is not intellectually curious and denies scientific evidence when it is inconvenient.

We have seen the frustration with the authorities and the police because it is those authorities which have broken our social contract.

This all became evident today when I had a phone call from a friend in Iceland because he is worried about us.

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COVID cases top 5 million as Trump and his base reject experts, science

On average I spend about 3 months each year working in Europe. Mostly Italy.  I am not used to Europeans expressing concern about events in USA.  Honestly, the last time was when my wife and I were in Italy days after the 9/11 terrorist attack. Now, I am getting calls and messages from European colleagues and friends checking in. Making sure we are OK.  They do not understand how this happened to us.

  • How did wearing a mask become a political issue
  • How did social distancing become such a hot topic

Covid19 did not break our healthcare system. It exposed the cracks in it.

I have written before that it is the lack of power that some parts of society feel that pushes them to rebel against wearing masks.

Source: COVID cases top 4 million as Trump and his base reject experts, science

ROME (AP) — With confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. hitting 5 million Sunday, by far the highest of any country, the failure of the most powerful nation in the world to contain the scourge has been met with astonishment and alarm in Europe.

Perhaps nowhere outside the U.S. is America’s bungled virus response viewed with more consternation than in Italy, which was ground zero of Europe’s epidemic. Italians were unprepared when the outbreak exploded in February, and the country still has one of the world’s highest official death tolls at 35,000.

But after a strict nationwide, 10-week lockdown, vigilant tracing of new clusters and general acceptance of mask mandates and social distancing, Italy has become a model of virus containment.

“Don’t they care about their health?” a mask-clad Patrizia Antonini asked about people in the United States as she walked with friends along the banks of Lake Bracciano, north of Rome. “They need to take our precautions. … They need a real lockdown.”

Stephanie Grant, left, and Tiffany Barker joins others during an anti-mask rally Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020, in Orem, Utah. (AP

Stephanie Grant, left, and Tiffany Barker joins others during an anti-mask rally Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020, in Orem, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Much of the incredulity in Europe stems from the fact that America had the benefit of time, European experience and medical know-how to treat the virus that the continent itself didn’t have when the first COVID-19 patients started filling intensive care units.

Yet, more than four months into a sustained outbreak, the U.S. reached the 5 million mark, according to the running count kept by Johns Hopkins University. Health officials believe the actual number is perhaps 10 times higher, or closer to 50 million, given testing limitations and the fact that as many as 40% of all those who are infected have no symptoms.

“We Italians always saw America as a model,” said Massimo Franco, a columnist with daily Corriere della Sera. “But with this virus we’ve discovered a country that is very fragile, with bad infrastructure and a public health system that is nonexistent.”

President Donald Trump prepares to sign four executive orders during a news conference at the Trump National Golf Club in Bed

President Donald Trump prepares to sign four executive orders during a news conference at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. Seizing the power of his podium and his pen, Trump on Saturday moved to bypass the nation’s elected lawmakers as he claimed the authority to defer payroll taxes and extend an expired unemployment benefit after negotiations with Congress on a new coronavirus rescue package collapsed. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza hasn’t shied away from criticizing the U.S., officially condemning as “wrong” Washington’s decision to withhold funding from the World Health Organization and expressing amazement at President Donald Trump’s virus response.

After Trump finally donned a mask last month, Speranza told La7 television: “I’m not surprised by Trump’s behavior now; I’m profoundly surprised by his behavior before.”

With America’s world’s-highest death toll of more than 160,000, its politicized resistance to masks and its rising caseload, European nations have barred American tourists and visitors from other countries with growing cases from freely traveling to the bloc.

France and Germany are now imposing tests on arrival for travelers from “at risk” countries, the U.S. included.

“I am very well aware that this impinges on individual freedoms, but I believe that this is a justifiable intervention,” German Health Minister Jens Spahn said last week.

Passengers queue at a Corona test center at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany, Friday, Aug. 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Probst

Passengers queue at a Corona test center at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany, Friday, Aug. 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

Mistakes were made in Europe, too, from delayed lockdowns to insufficient protections for nursing home elderly and critical shortages of tests and protective equipment for medical personnel.

The virus is still raging in some Balkan countries, and thousands of maskless protesters demanded an end to virus restrictions in Berlin earlier this month. Hard-hit Spain, France and Germany have seen infection rebounds with new cases topping 1,000 a day, and Italy’s cases inched up over 500 on Friday. Britain is still seeing an estimated 3,700 new infections daily, and some scientists say the country’s beloved pubs might have to close again if schools are to reopen in September without causing a new wave.

Europe as a whole has seen over 207,000 confirmed virus deaths, by Johns Hopkins’ count.

In the U.S., new cases are running at about 54,000 a day — an immensely high number even when taking into account the country’s larger population. And while that’s down from a peak of well over 70,000 last month, cases are rising in nearly 20 states, and deaths are climbing in most.

In contrast, at least for now Europe appears to have the virus somewhat under control.

Utah school teacher Emily Johnson protests with other teachers at the Utah State Capitol, Friday, Aug. 7, 2020, in Salt Lake

Utah school teacher Emily Johnson protests with other teachers at the Utah State Capitol, Friday, Aug. 7, 2020, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

“Had the medical professionals been allowed to operate in the States, you would have belatedly gotten to a point of getting to grips with this back in March,” said Scott Lucas, professor of international studies at the University of Birmingham, England. “But of course, the medical and public health professionals were not allowed to proceed unchecked,” he said, referring to Trump’s frequent undercutting of his own experts.

When the virus first appeared in the United States, Trump and his supporters quickly dismissed it as either a “hoax” or a virus that would quickly disappear once warmer weather arrived. At one point, Trump suggested that ultraviolet light or injecting disinfectants would eradicate the virus. (He later said he was being facetious).

Trump’s frequent complaints about Dr. Anthony Fauci have regularly made headlines in Europe, where the U.S. infectious-disease expert is a respected figure. Italy’s leading COVID-19 hospital offered Fauci a job if Trump fired him.

President Donald tours the Whirlpool Corporation in Clyde, Ohio, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Donald tours the Whirlpool Corporation in Clyde, Ohio, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Trump has defended the U.S. response, blaming China, where the virus was first detected, for America’s problems and saying the U.S. numbers are so high because there is so much testing. Trump supporters and Americans who have refused to wear masks against all medical advice back that line.

‪“There’s no reason to fear any sickness that’s out there,” said Julia Ferjo, a mother of three in Alpine, Texas, who is “vehemently” against wearing a mask. ‪Ferjo, 35, teaches fitness classes in a large gym with open doors. She doesn’t allow participants to wear masks.

‪“When you’re breathing that hard, I would pass out,” she said. “I do not want people just dropping like flies.”

And health officials watched with alarm as thousands of bikers gathered Friday in the small South Dakota city of Sturgis for an annual 10-day motorcycle rally. The state has no mask mandates, and many bikers expressed defiance of measures meant to prevent the virus’s spread.

Dr. David Ho, director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, who is leading a team seeking treatments for COVID-19, decried such behavior, as well as the country’s handling of the virus.

“There’s no national strategy, no national leadership, and there’s no urging for the public to act in unison and carry out the measures together,” he said. “That’s what it takes, and we have completely abandoned that as a nation.”

When he gets on Zoom calls with counterparts from around the globe, “everyone cannot believe what they’re seeing in the U.S. and they cannot believe the words coming out of the leadership,’’ he said.

Even the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, has taken the unusual step of criticizing the U.S. when she urged Washington to reconsider its decision to break ties with the WHO. She also issued veiled criticism of U.S. efforts to buy up stocks of any vaccine that might prove effective, vowing the EU will work to provide access to everyone “irrespective of where they live.”

Many Europeans point proudly to their national health care systems that not only test but treat COVID-19 for free, unlike the American system, where the virus crisis has only exacerbated income and racial inequalities in obtaining health care.

“The coronavirus has brutally stripped bare the vulnerability of a country that has been sliding for years,” wrote Italian author Massimo Gaggi in his new book “Crack America” (Broken America), about U.S. problems that long predated COVID-19.

Gaggi said he started writing the book last year and thought then that the title would be taken as a provocative wake-up call. Then the virus hit.

“By March the title wasn’t a provocation any longer,” he said. “It was obvious.”

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COVID cases top 4 million as Trump and his base reject experts, science

Source: COVID cases top 4 million as Trump and his base reject experts, science

As America tops 4 million COVID cases, the cult of Donald Trump has become a death cult

People who refuse to wear a mask are bolstering their sore egos. Their national motto is not ‘E Pluribus Unum,’ it’s ‘You’re not the boss of me.’

Tom Nichols
Opinion columnist

America has now passed the milestone of 4 million COVID cases, and we’re still arguing with doctors and epidemiologists about masks and school closures. I expected some of this, because I literally wrote the book over three years ago on why so many Americans think they’re smarter than experts. What I did not expect is that this resolute and childish opposition to expertise would be hijacked by the president of the United States and an entire American political party, and then turned into a suicide cult.

It did not take a lot of foresight to know, even before the coronavirus arrived, that the United States was leaving itself vulnerable to a crisis that would require the public to trust experts. We long ago became a narcissistic nation whose citizens believe they can become competent in almost any subject by watching enough television and spending enough time on the internet. But I was certain that a true national crisis — a war, a depression, or yes, a pandemic — would snap people back to reality.

I was wrong to be so optimistic.

Endangering others as empowerment

Some states (including Rhode Island, where I live) have had great success in asking their citizens to cooperate for the common good. Other communities, unfortunately, have had to endure shouting matches with bellowing ignoramuses who think it is intolerable that they be asked to wear a mask while shopping or ordering food — two things people in other countries would gladly do wrapped in aluminum foil and with prayers of thanks on their lips if they got to do it in the United States of America.

There is no one more responsible for this particular moment than President Donald Trump, but all he has done is play to a gallery whose seats were already full by the time he ran for office. Trump appealed to a powerful sense of narcissistic grievance among millions of Americans, nurturing it and feeding it. An entire claque of enablers joined in, knowing there was plenty of money to be made feeding this self-centered, anti-social nihilism.

When the pandemic arrived, these enablers in the conservative media and among the cowardly Republican political class took their cues — masks, no masks, closing, opening — from Trump, whose statements for months were a fusillade of nonsense that reflected only his own pouty anger that Mother Nature had the sheer brass to mess up his presidential grift.

Michigan United for Liberty protesters at the state Capitol in Lansing on April 30, 2020.

Not all of those who have been reckless and irresponsible are Trump supporters. There are, as always, young people who believe they are invincible. And some experts inflicted a huge wound on themselves right in the middle of this crisis by blessing the Black Lives Matter protests rather than repeating stern warnings they gave to other Americans that such events are dangerous.

But the Americans who are now driving the pandemic are not sudden skeptics about masks or distancing or expert opinion because of street protests. Some of them reject expertise because of the previous “failures” of experts. This is always one of the reflexive explanations for the refusal to listen to the educated and experienced. Expert failures are real and happen every day, but the people who sullenly refuse to wear a mask during a pandemic are not doing so because the United States failed to find Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, or because the housing market crashed in 2008.

Non es dominus meus,

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