Weird times

We are living in weird times.

A lot of nonsense is getting thrown around, mostly for political purposes. When lives are at stake, you’d think the politicos would dial back the baloney, but no.

Trump is hot to get back to business, whatever the cost.

The Centers for Disease Control offered new guidelines for reopening, but the White House stopped release of the report because the rules were so strict. But no state has met the much looser guidelines set earlier by the White House.

So now we have states reopening, each under its own guidelines. This may please defenders of state’s rights, but I doubt that the virus cares about state lines. Oh, I’m not in Kansas anymore? Guess I’ll have to mutate.

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Trump’s allies are pushing the narrative that more deaths are an economic necessity. That’s right, Grandma can die for her country. Helping the U.S. to “get back to business” makes her a patriot (and maybe helps get Trump re-elected, too).

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It’s a false choice between public health and the economy, columnist Maureen Dowd says, because they are the same thing.

Unemployment nationwide is near Depression levels. Nearly one out of every four workers can’t work right now. Probably many of those jobs are gone forever. Recover will be slow and sporadic. There will not be a “new normal” for a long time.

I especially feel for those who are afraid for their safety if they go back to their jobs but face firing if they don’t. Take all the precautions you want, you still may bring it back to the house and infect your family.

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A popular false comparison is with traffic deaths. We tolerate 39,000 traffic deaths a year, so what’s all the fuss about 70,000 or so deaths from the coronavirus? Use some elementary math. That’s 39,000 traffic deaths in a year compared with 70,000 deaths in two months. That works out to 234,000 deaths a year. There is no comparison. And who says 39,000 traffic deaths a year is OK?

And, oh yeah, some folks think we’ll reach that 234,000 figure long before a year is past.

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Some fun stuff:

When it was obvious that Kansas Gov Laura Kelly had gotten a haircut, one state legislator demanded to know the license number of the hair stylist who had violated the state shutdown order. The stylist was unlicensed. Kelly’s husband cut her hair. “Desperate times call for desperate measures,” she said.

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A retired farmer from Troy, Kansas, made national news when he sent an N95 protective mask to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for use by a front-line worker in that state’s battle with the coronavirus. Turns out that Dennis Ruhnke was two credits shy of a degree from Kansas State University when he had to drop out in 1971 to run the family farm, so K-State gave him an honorary diploma. Nice.

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Some observers note that media vibe has changed. At first, there were many stories about hoarding and ripoffs. That changed to stories about people helping one another. Don’t think the hoarding and ripoffs have stopped, though.

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The Kansas City Star had a story the other day about why people do or don’t wear face masks. Some of it, inevitably, is political. Trump won’t wear one, why should I?

Prairie Village is considering making it mandatory to wear masks in public. “It is not enough to strongly encourage people to wear masks,” one city councilman says, “because, as we have already seen, there are too many people who either are not self-aware or not considerate of other people and other people’s concerns and needs, or who just outright will do anything if they’re told not to do it.”

My masks protects you from my germs, but it doesn’t do much to protect me from your germs. So if you don’t wear a mask, you’re exposing me to risk. It’s all about personal freedom, I’m told. I guess that explains why rapists don’t bother to wear condoms.

“My health, my choice,” says the protest sign. But what about my health? Apparently you have rights only if you carry a sign.

“Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.” That quote has been variously attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., John Stuart Mill and Abraham Lincoln. Whoever said it, or didn’t, has it right. Your right to spread germs ends where my nose begins.

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What are the limits of personal freedom? Some people seem to think there are no limits, especially when it comes to guns. It is believed by some that the Constitution gives you the right to take a gun anywhere you want anytime and sling it around anyway you like.

About a dozen men with high-power weapons and flags marched through downtown Raleigh, N.C., the other day. (OK, one was not bearing a gun but a large pipe wrench.) I’m not sure whether the point was to intimidate people or just show off. Wow, that’s some pipe wrench you got there, dude.

When an armed mob invaded the Michigan capitol building recently, there was no doubt why they were there. They were there to intimidate. They were there to extort while armed. That is not legal in most places. They got away with it.

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Many of the workers at meat-packing plans have come down with coronavirus, and some racists are blaming the home life of workers rather than unsafe working conditions at the meat factories. Many of the workers are immigrants, don’t you know. They must have carried the virus with them from China, via Mexico or wherever they came from.

There is a sickness here so deep that you wonder if it can ever be cured. I think the only vaccine for it is the love of Christ.

There is a sickness spreading across this land that has nothing to do with the coronavirus. God spare us this plague.

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