The WHO Wears Face-Masks

The World Health Organization (WHO) has led America on COVID-19 throughout the year. As new information and data poured in from across the globe, the WHO has been paying attention and adjusting guidelines appropriately.

President Trump has plenty of ‘fall guys’ for his flock to give him a pass on his COVID-19 failures. The WHO received their blame and bill at the end of May. 

For too many of the world’s developing countries, the WHO is the first and only line of defense against a pandemic/endemic threat like COVID19. Now that America has stepped backward from its a leadership role, its role is even more critical.

Of course, Trump has eliminated essential, vital funding and resources from the WHO when the world, including America, need it most. 

It is almost as if Trump is trying to sabotage the world COVID-19 response moving forward in order to increase world COVID-19 infections to make his failures not look so bad.

I am not going to be distracted by Trump, by haters, by anything. 

That is why when I saw Fox News sharing WHO guidelines, today of all days, regarding face-mask guidelines that are different from our CDC, I had to take a fresh look.

I have been busy inundating myself with scientific research, scientific journals, scientific commentary, public health data, public health commentary … I think you get the picture.

Also, for the last month or so, I have traveled while social distancing across central and southern Illinois, crossing into Indiana and Missouri. I was examining the way each community, municipality, each business and their employees as well as each individual interacts with the state and federal government response to COVID-19.

This face-mask issue is an essential piece in the public health fight against COVID-19 in this new phase of the endemic. It is a difficult pill for many to swallow.

That is why the intense over-politicization of this single issue has led to more political and divisive trenches being dug than new ditches to help with flooding along our waterways and rivers.

That is not how you nor elected officials should be making decisions about your health, the health and safety of your family and friends, the health and safety of your neighbors and community members, and especially the health and safety of the most vulnerable people in our society.

The WHO guidelines for healthy members of our community make the most sense to me given the breadth of all of the science, the public health data and all of the commentary on both sides, with a minor additon. 

We should be primarily be using face-masks when we are symptomatic and when we are in zones where social distancing is impossible. 

In this transitional period as outdoor socializing begins in public, use of face-masks would fall under ‘use at your discretion’ for customers.

Employees and employers would be wise to protect themselves, their customers and the public as much as possible.

Now, anyone who has worked in the restaurant industry, the bar industry or any customer service industry know how vital eye contact and facial interaction is with customers. 

Balancing employer liability, employee risk and access to healthcare, customer satisfaction and safety, and the public health risk with that vital customer interaction to me is a simple equation. 

Reports from Georgia, which completely ignored the CDC, the WHO, and any other intelligent source of information, have had many of their restaurants and bars close down permanently after opening way too early and with few if any precautions or mitigating strategies, economic or otherwise.

I’ve been happy to see business owners personally thrilled with the opportunity to open their doors to their loyal customers again while remaining vigilant and mindful of the COVID19 risk without losing their minds.

What most of us are doing is the best that we can do with the information that we have available to us from sources that we trust and rely on to protect the public from threats and real risks.

We have to remain open to new information, new experiences and to change course when faced with evidence. This principle has been largely missing in Americans for much of my life.

Personally, I know when I deliver information to people, I have sources for literally every bit of it and not just one source but multiple sources. 

I am elaborate, methodical and relentless in my pursuit for challenging the status quo, including my own.  We all are in this together. We cannot change that reality without each other and 64+% of the nation.

The political parties aim for 50% + 1 to win an election . . . not one percentage point . . . one person. America, as a nation, a government and as a people, are incapable of the transformational reforms necessary without an additional 14% not just agreeing but fighting for those transformational reforms.

(Roughly, 14% is the percentage size faction of the minority party in the House and Senate that can signal a major shift in direction without garnering the necessary votes for an override of the President’s veto)

When COVID-19 is classified as an endemic virus, we as nation need to have already prepared for it. The structural reforms necessary to successfully and consistently tackle a 5th endemic virus are extensive and should have been accomplished decades ago.

For this reason, I am hopeful that with America’s renewed vision, we will lead the world through this endemic into a better, stronger and healthier future where the economy doesn’t work against the people but builds upon success and community.

This is a vision for a better future that propels me forward in innovative and challenging ways.

If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with COVID-19 or in an environment where social distancing is impossible.

  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • If you wear a mask, then you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly.
  • Before putting on a mask, clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • Cover mouth and nose with mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
  • Avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use masks.
  • To remove the mask: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

Picture: Action News Now

Killing George Floyd: Pleas and Protest

The video is far worse than I think the media has actually told the public in lead-ins, transitions and other major statements regarding the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police Department. 

When you watch the full video, be aware that it is deeply troubling, potentially traumatizing and you may need the number of someone supportive or a hotline number.

  • The officer is demanding George to get into the vehicle.
  • The officer is making these demands while George repeatedly gasps for breath, telling the officers he cannot breathe. 
  • The officer is making these demands with his knee in the back of the neck of George.
  • The officer is making these demands with George’s face in the pavement with the same force that is being applied to his neck.

I guess the officer got carried away with trying to slap on a “resisting arrest” charge.

Counterintuitive orders are often difficult to resist. This exposes the meaninglessness of ‘do what I say, even if I am literally stopping you from following my orders.’ 

Counterintuitive is a function of what this officer was attempting to accomplish, not some bug, not an accident and who knows how many others have not resisted and have been abused in this way. That is the lingering turth.

We know how important it is to have a felony charge on an arrest report. It increases the likelihood of conviction without trial of a lesser charge, but any plea will include the least charge.

Pleaing to a a greater charge than you are guilty of means more potential jail time, more fines and fees, more disruption in any work or family schedule. 

Part of probation is to have a job, to have a schedule, and to pay fines and fees. 

All of these are more difficult to do when you’ve just lost your job, you just missed appointments and now you have more bills to pay.

George lost his life. His life isn’t more difficult. It is over.

The people protesting the lost life of #George, at least they’re not protesting against public health guidelines that help protect the lives of other people, at least there is hard, cold and decaying evidence that real harm, real loss, real threat, and real trauma have actually occurred here.

And, there’s real hard, cold and mounting evidence that the line of lost lives, pinned to their ends with the knees of government, will never find an end, or even a working resolution toward that goal.

If someone doesn’t believe there is an element about this that is connected to race, let them believe what they need. 

You will note I have not mentioned race once, yet, for many, it is staring this murder directly in the face.

The murder of George is about many systemic, structural, marrow-poisoned issues, ranging from individual, to family, to group, to government, to authority, to systems and to nothing at all being done to fuse these together more effeciently and effectively. 

If you share any commonalities with George which separate you from the ‘majority,’ what should be clear is that this could happen to you whenever you walk out the door, or even when you can’t face opening that door at all.

Those commonalities, one of which is race, is something that millions of Americans simply don’t have an adequate education nor have any shared experiences that would assist in delineating a more than sympathetic connection to the heartbreak, the trauma and the ongoing struggle of those who feel they must protest and tear life down in the aftermath.

I feel like protesting. And, I have and will again.

When in doubt, generate patience. 
When confused, attempt understanding. 

As for compassion . . . at least have enough compassion that if both patience and understanding momentarily escape grasp, you have already begun to heal and forgive yourself for not always living up and out.

George, his corporeal life as he knows it, is over.

It is up to those who have enough understanding to connect their compassion directly to the suffering of people at the heart of the people’s struggle against it, and to have enough patience with both themselves and others to never relent or give up on finding those paths to resolution. 

We made some progress in Illinois on criminal justice reform. Not nearly going the distance, but at least taking some steps along that path.

For those who are currently witnessing, both progress and success are not always synonymous with awareness, acknowledgment and working together to strengthen, reform and refurbish both rules and guidelines to increase the longevity of that successful progress.

There will always be folks that cannot absorb or accept reforms that primarily benefit someone that isn’t themselves. They will work mental and emotional gymnastics to demand others fight to overturn this progress. 

That is why we must always press forward with the understanding that we must never assume anyone will understand the importance of any idea, action and any person in the short or long term.

The effort, the struggle and the persistence of perseverance to protect, strengthen and make whole any such progress is vital.

The effort should be a true gift, given freely, as fighting to protect what we have achieved for others cannot be transferable.

The effort, the fight, and our awareness: may these always be in mind, assist in focusing the body, and free the spirit to tackle any and all obstacles that stand in our way.

Photo: Offices of Ben Crump Law, courtesy of NYT

Stardards Doubled, or How Many Asterisks Does It Take?

President Trump, like growing numbers of most elected Republicans and supporters of this administration I’ve been blessed to know, have extreme double standards when it comes to the U.S. Constitution and any form of definable ideology when it comes to government and how it interacts with the American people, business, the states and healthcare.

For those of us on the other side of a Republican talking point, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

These are the Republican tools of government when it suits their purposes:

‘Regulate it. Control it. Stamp it out. Starve it of resources. Deny it access to the markets.’

And, make sure that no one sees yourself as the double standard, few discernible values, questionable ethics, loose moral standing person, party and movement that you happen to be part of at this moment.

The Republican Party has only been heading in this direction my entire life. That’s not to say that y’all aren’t good people.

Good people like Republicans and Trump supporters are very willing to cut food stamps (SNAP) while increasing tax cuts for the wealthiest corporate farms in America.

When the economy literally goes where it hasn’t gone since the Great Depression, it’s a struggle to get food stamps back on the bargaining table for many Republicans. And, food stamps literally is the most successful government program in existence.

I don’t care about people whining and complaining about people buying whatever food they want with food stamps. Yes, listening to these people whine and complain is the biggest cost to increasing food stamps and feeding hungry people in America.

Imagine how lucky it is. At any moment, we could have a new administration take over the White House, and willy nilly cut the food that helps feed the family, all because someone has a shitty story about seeing someone use food stamps to buy something they could eat.

Imagine if I had a job, had the skills and the training to do that job, had the education provided not by public schools alone but by a family and community that actually made certain I knew what I needed to know after every year. Imagine that.

Imagine if I hadn’t been hungry when I went to school every morning, and to bed every night. Someone is always coming in to eat our food. Food is always shared by good people.

That’s what makes throwing it away so painful and such a loss when the government could pay these farmers and construct an efficient system that would transport that food to hungry people, since apparently the private sector cannot figure out something sensible on its own.

We haven’t paid to make an efficient government system in this country in decades. That’s why most agencies use such ancient computers. That’s why it often seems as if these agencies don’t work well with one another for our benefit.

And, yet, Americans love telling shitty stories about their neighbors, apparently.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we started giving a damn about them instead?

We care enough about farmers to give corporate farms nearly all the bailout money, and we should care about farmers. We should care more about farmers to get the bailout right.

There is no reason a corporate farm should get the same percentage assistance as a small farmer. It doesn’t make any sense.

Smaller farms have higher costs, can’t negotiate prices, can’t purchase suppliers, I could go on. It’s why small farms have been disappearing for decades. Income inequality comes in many forms. It’s not just about individuals. It’s about business.

Anyone else notice all the farm bankruptcies forcing auctions across our lands over the last 3 years? That’s new.

No one was looking for Rauner’s ass during all of that? Nor were they looking for Trump’s either.


But, a pandemic happens, and all of a sudden, everybody around here is a public health expert, a doctor and doesn’t need to respect the law, the order or each other.

I will not like when those lessons come back to bite us all. 
And, they will.

The problem with double standard living as a nation is that no one respects our word, no one respects our work, and no one respects our nation.

That’s what we have now.

It was never more clear than it was when Trump blew up because Twitter gave him an asterisk.

If Trump didn’t know he deserved the asterisk, then the 25th Amendment should be invoked.

It’s a difficult world for a lot of people, including President Trump. He’s got a tough job, many jobs, actually.

Especially after getting rid of the pandemic response team in 2018 didn’t work out so well for so many.

One of Trump’s jobs shouldn’t be lying to us.

Our top job should be to make sure we’re not lying to ourselves.

(Image: Graphemica)

Illinois: What Has Gone Missing

There has been one person in the state legislature that has received more ink than just about any person in state government and one person that has received more attention than any single issue facing Illinois residents during this difficult and conflicted time.

Yes, this person is State Rep. Darren Bailey, the likely next state senator for the 55th district in Illinois,.

He’s got more ink than the special session has bills. 

Am I correct? 

DPI, that is the Democratic Party of Illinois, could be mobilizing a petition drive; they are not. 

County parties and interested individuals are doing this work instead. Would have been far easier during the primary.

DPI could be mobilizing a fundraising drive based on this highly predictable behavior; they are not. 

How is it that Republicans can roll into a fundraising extravaganza nearly the next day after someone does something embarrassing?

DPI could unload the double standard canisters; they do not. 

It’s not like there aren’t countless videos online, statements made on social media and in the press, as well as votes made during the short time he has been in office to expose him for what he is.


Maybe, they figured they might have underestimated his ability to mobilize groups of politically, economically and informationally isolated folks across the State of Illinois.

I doubt that’s the isasue. 

He flaunts disrespect of others, of rules, of authority. Demands total respect by everyone else for his position.

It is not stunning that more folks would join him in these behaviors.

He’s done this for years. Most of the new brand of Illinois Republicans are all in the same vein.

Without any real Democratic voices, consistent messages and messengers for decades, Central and Southern Illinois have cross-pollinated their Republican strains into what we see today.

Darren Bailey is just one distillation from this destructive process only made possible by the vacuum created by the Democratic Party.

Democrats applauded retiring state senator Dale Righter’s rebuke of his likely successor, not realizing that this letter was obvious evidence of how out of touch Righter had become with the Republican electorate.

Likely, Righter felt or was forced to retire after overriding a Rauner veto, just like his colleague former state rep. Reggie Phillips appeared to do so two years prior.

And, who replaced Reggie in the 110th? 

It wasn’t the small business owner with answers to questions at debates. 

No, it was the Oakland farmer, Chris Miller, whose wife from Oak Park and Naperville, is poised to walk into the open seat from retiring 25-year incumbent U.S. Rep. John Shimkus. And, she will do so without much of a fight from the Democratic Party, either.

It’s not like Bailey and the Millers are unknown quantities. The threats they pose to American tradition and to the respect of all of our rights and all of our people are very real. 

Yet, the Democratic Party did not manage to get someone on the primary ballot to challenge the open seat left by a retiring state senator. 

That’s not just a failure in strategy, even as citizens band together to muster the signatures necessary on petitions to get a candidate on the ballot.

That is what we call a failure in believing.

This failure in believing is that the 15th District and any and all of our people are worthy of having someone and any political party fight for and with them by their side.

The Democratic Party of Illinois just is not with us. 

Now, the Republican Party isn’t either. 

Republicans have had decades to muster some form of economic, education, and healthcare policy to benefit rural residents. 

They completely failed.

They completely abandoned any sense of responsibility and accountability for their own failures. It is easy to point fingers in a binary system.

Voters completely abandoned any sense of holding these elected officials accountable.

How could they when there was no one consistently on the other side of any issue raising the debate, sharpening the ideas, and making the policy and the legislation better for our rural communities?

If any candidate was on the ballot, would local media even have the resources or will to cover a challenger responsibly?

Finally, as the legislature and many Democrats applaud kicking out a proclaimed hater of taxpayer bailouts, subsidies and tax-breaks . . . someone who receives all of the above in numbers that tick into the millions . . . 

What has gone missing are the countless citizens of Illinois that have less food on the table . . . less money to spend on that food . . . because prices at the stores have been increasing throughout the pandemic . . . and the U.S. Congress will not take up increasing food stamps because Republicans cannot cross punishing people that are hungry and out of work.

What has gone missing are the countless workers of Illinois that have less ability to find new work . . . less comfort in the job they do have . . . and more concern for the future of their families. 

What has gone missing is any hint of a strategy by either political party to build change in America for her people and her workers. #DemandBetter


A Lot of Work Left to Be Done

It is clear the voters will have the first woman Representative to Congress in Southern Illinois come 2021. I congratulate Erika Weaver on a hard fought campaign to win the Democratic nomination for the 15th Congressional District. As I’ve expressed to her personally, I will provide any advice, expertise or personal effort that I can to help to make this a Democratic Party victory in November. 

There is a lot of work to be done throughout the 15th District, and I am dedicated to push forward our efforts to reform government, programs and policies that promote our economy, our communities and our people. 

As we trudge through this ongoing and unfolding coronavirus pandemic and response, you can make certain that we will continue to provide leadership on our priorities of healthcare, education and an economy that works for everyone. 

Now, more than ever, we must rely on facts, science and each other, holding elected officials and candidates accountable for their actions, for their words and for the consequences from what they’ve both said and done. 

We’re in this together. However, we must not be silent when confronted with facts and bad faith. 

I certainly won’t be. 

Thank you for your vote, for your support and your strength that keeps our district, our communities and our country alive. 

Endorsed, Our Values

Last night, Dennis Austin, the county chair of the Hardin County Democratic Party, asked me to attend their county meeting in Cave-in-Rock. I jumped at the chance to visit with voters, and if anyone hasn’t been down to this part of the state, you definitely should make it a priority. 

As on nearly every drive I ever take in the 15th, something blessed happens. Right outside Norris City sat a glorious bald eagle in the middle of the brightest green grass you’ll ever see. Such a sight of strength, elegance and serenity.

I would have stopped to take a picture, but I had zero seconds to spare. 

Literally, I arrived at 6 in Cave-in-Rock. 

It stunned me when I walked into the room and Dennis shakes my hand and tells me they had endorsed our campaign for the 15th Congressional District. #Gaither15IL

I don’t take that lightly. It is a honor and with deep respect that I accept their endorsement. 

Hardin County is one of the toughest counties I’ve ever been through, and it has a special place in my heart. 

I’m thrilled that the Rosiclare Public Library will be receiving a contribution from Appellate Court Judge Judy Cates after hearing some of the stories I’ve told on the campaign trail. She’s running for Illinois Supreme Court. You’ll never find anyone more fair than her. 

The other night when I was up in Bond County at a Democratic BBQ, I sat down with some voters after we all got done speaking. They asked me if I was the only Democrat running in this race. I just might be. #Gaither15IL

I believe strongly in supporting American workers, that America prospers when American workers are paid more. #Gaither15IL

I believe strongly in reforming the American healthcare system, because America prospers when Americans are healthier and don’t go broke when they’re sick. #Gaither15IL

I believe strongly in rebuilding America, because when we invest in American infrastructure, those are union jobs that can’t be outsourced. #Gaither15IL

I believe strongly in educating and training Americans, because a highly educated and trained workforce promotes a strong Middle Class and more informed voters. #Gaither15IL

I believe strongly in supporting our American seniors, veterans and people living with disabilities, because living in poverty makes us more unhealthy which is more costly in the long run. #Gaither15IL

We’re not going to get to a better future for our children without funding our priorities and ignoring the tough realities staring us directly in the face.

That is why I continue to show up in community after community, listening and learning, and then doing something about it.

Call Dennis Austin and ask him why the Hardin County Democratic Party endorsed our campaign. We’re similar in how we answer questions. Directly. We’ve also been endorsed by the Chicago Tribune.