Today: a link to Tuesday night’s informative Zoominar on the budget crisis, and a first person report on Covid’s impact, examining those who care for & support victims. It underscores why Nov. 3 is so important; a call to action.
Good News! Really!
Before we begin, some good news. Monday, I spoke with someone who knows the ins and outs of NM election processes and is very aware of what is going on in primary races across the state.
The message was clear: We have a good shot at winning three key primaries where challengers face off with DINO Senators Gabriel Ramos, George Muñoz, and Richard Martinez, and victory is also within our reach in the races against Sen. Mary Kay Papen and Sen. John Arthur Smith. Even if we win half of those races and we replace two or three GOP Senators with progressive challengers, the 2021 Senate will be transformed.
If decriminalizing abortion, legalizing marijuana, forming a state public bank, enacting health security, implementing effective oil and gas regulation, and launching a just transition are important to you, then please find a few hours to make calls or donate a few dollars to the challenger of your choice. We are down to the wire.
In 2016, 215,000 New Mexicans voted in the primary election. As of yesterday, only 98,000 votes had been cast and 135,000 absentee ballots have been requested. So there are a whole lot of votes out there, and there are still four days to get out the vote for DINO challengers.
We write this blog to keep you informed and to motivate you to action. We have four days. Please click this link to get to contact info and links to endorsement statements for the candidates challenging these Senate DINOs. We will never get what we want and what we need as long as they rule the Senate. This is so damned important. Each of these races could come down to 20-30 votes. Make calls. Please. If we come up short by a few votes, we will live with the consequences for four more years.
Budget Crisis Zoominar Now Available on Video
Our Zoominar conversation with NM Voices for Children About the NM State Budget Crisis with Amber Wallin, Deputy Director; Bill Jordan, Government Relations Officer; Paige Knight, Research and Policy Analyst, and Rep. Javier Martinez, chair of the House Tax & Revenue Committee, is available on video. MLK Jr. declared that a budget is a moral document, and New Mexico faces a budget crisis that will force difficult choices. We want those decisions to be made with a strong economic justice lens focused squarely on each choice. But to advocate effectively for a budget requires understanding the choices. This discussion does an excellent job of framing the special budget session starting on June 18. Best line of the night, Bill Jordan: “We don’t have a budget crisis; we have a revenue crisis.” Find out what Bill meant. It will help you understand how we got into this mess.
At the bottom of the post you will find information about two important panel discussions, one today focused on indigenous efforts to combat the gas & oil industry in the northwest, connecting the dots between extraction and colonialism. Also, information on a panel discussion on how to create local jobs plugging orphan wells, something ever so relevant to NM. Read on.
A son’s first-hand account of his father’s struggle with Covid
As you can imagine, I scan dozens of online reports a day, many on Covid. Multiply that over three months and that means hundreds of Covid-related articles. Most shed light on the virus, the means of combating its spread, and the borderline criminal mishandling of the pandemic by the President.
CNN’s “‘Life or death still possible’: 31 days at my dad’s virtual bedside” was different. It reads like a page-turner thriller, and while it’s long, it provides a very powerful perspective from a son, Louis Foglia, caring remotely for a very sick father, 31 days in the ICU, most of the time on a ventilator. You read of Louis’ daily calls to the hospital, the horror of hearing his phone ring, the heavy responsibility of communicating with the strangers who care for your father.
You don’t just come to appreciate the harrowing experience of everyday life with Covid in your family, but through the Louis’ interactions with the nurses and doctors you see how passionately these heroes care about the fate of each and every patient. And given that you learn, not from data and statistics, but from Louis’ first-hand perspective, you appreciate in your heart the excruciating reality of Covid care and of one patient’s constant roller coaster from ER, to ICU, to being put on a ventilator, off the ventilator, back on and then, off again.
With each twist you see how Louis endures the harrowing responsibility of being the point person who communicates daily with the hospital, his family, and family friends. You experience how one day with all hope lost, Louis sits at his computer to write his father’s obit, then refuses to save it to his disk, only for the father to rally. You experience Louis reading his father’s health directive and realizing that it simply doesn’t pertain to what is happening with Covid. And you realize the heavy burden he carries. He must decide.
I have recommended a good many articles over the past four years, but none have come close to conveying a reality that can’t be captured by news clips and data. The importance of this piece is underscored below.
I don’t know exactly how we became such a divided, mistrustful nation, although it is clear that Fox, Trump, and the sycophants who abide and abet his egocentric lunacy certainly play an enormous part. But as this piece reveals so well, the cost of our national blundering is almost unfathomable.
After finishing the piece, multiply Louis and his family’s experience 100,000 times. Click here to read the CNN piece, “Life or Death Still Possible: 31 days at my dad’s virtual bedside.” Please read it.
Why the “31 Days” Piece Matters and
What We Can Do About It
We have a President who doesn’t want to dally in inconvenient truths, science, facts, or anything that could undermine what is obviously a pathologically fragile ego. He can’t abide anyone in his circle who challenges his version of reality. It is painful to watch health leaders with integrity stand beside him while he makes proclamations that defy science and endanger all of us.
Now, we are approaching 100,000 American deaths, and yet this president accepts no responsibility for his actions, fails to assume any leadership, shovels responsibility for bad news onto heroic governors, the WHO, or Democrats, or dismisses that news as fake. In abdicating the federal government’s responsibility for leading the battle to contain Covid, Trump leaves the states to fend for themselves. And with states operating in competition with each other, the price of every contract escalates many fold. For example, on May 26, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported that:
“New Mexico’s Department of Health purchased a half-million respirators this spring at a significantly higher cost than the normal list price for such products. The agency bought the Chinese-made N95 masks in April and May for a total of $1.63 million, with each respirator [mask] costing $3.25, according to an invoice and purchase order obtained by The New Mexican. That’s anywhere from two to four times the list price for surgical N95 masks made by U.S. manufacturer 3M, which lists its models at 68 cents, $1.27 and $1.78 each, depending on design and level of resistance.Santa Fe New Mexican: “State Department of Health bought masks at far above normal price”
New Mexico paid that price because they were bidding against other states, perhaps some who needed the masks more than we did. We can’t know that, as there is no coordination of resources. What we do know is that this is happening all over the country. If Trump had assumed leadership, he could have used the immense leverage of US purchasing power and driven the price down. What’s more, the CDC could then gauge the relative needs of states across the country. Recall that while NY was reeling from the virus, other states, like NM, were bidding against them for scarce resources. For the manufacturers, it was a capitalist’s dream: desperate customers willing to pay any price. It didn’t have to be this way. And this lack of leadership has consequences.
Epidemiologists estimate that if Trump had called for mitigation efforts just one week earlier than he did, we would have saved 60,041 lives as of yesterday at 4pm, a number that rises daily. From TrumpDeathClock.com:
“In January 2020, the Trump administration was advised that immediate action was required to stop the spread of COVID-19. According to NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, “there was a lot of pushback” to this advice. President Trump declined to act until March 16th. Epidemiologists now estimate that, had mitigation measures been implemented one week earlier, 60% of American COVID-19 deaths would have been avoided.”TrumpDeathClock.com
Not only did he not call for social distancing and closing businesses until March 16, but from day one he effectively shifted responsibility to states for implementing all social distancing measures, while failing to implement any of them at the White House.
Worse, he began baiting Governors who were in the midst of soaring rates of infections, praising protesters who called for Governors to be lynched in Michigan, Kentucky, and here in NM. He has threatened to withhold aid from states with sanctuary city programs; he has threatened to withhold aid from states that fail to reopen according to his latest impulse; he has threatened to limit aid to states promoting vote-by-mail; he has threatened the Governor of North Carolina that he will move the Republican National Convention if he isn’t allowed to pack 50,000 people into a jammed arena where there would be no chance of any kind of social distancing. This is criminal. This is murder, most foul.
And what happens to anyone who dares to counter this assault on the safety of millions of Americans? He fires them.
In the car yesterday, on my way to pick up curbside groceries, I heard a radio report describing how in the past eight weeks President Trump had fired five Inspector Generals. To put this in context, since the US created the role of Inspector General in 1976, forty-six years and eight presidents ago, a sum total of one Inspector General had been fired. Yet that didn’t stop Trump from saying:
“I think every president has gotten rid of probably more than I have.”FactCheck.org: “Trump Twists Record on Inspectors General”
Let us return to our opening comment. We can abide this tyranny no longer, and so we must set aside any lack of enthusiasm for the presumptive Democratic nominee and devote serious time to ensuring that a landslide evicts this horror. We will have to endure ten weeks of tantrums from Nov. 4 to Jan. 21, but then we can turn the page.
Look for Retake Our Democracy to offer an array of options for making an important impact in the November election. We have work to do here in NM to Fix the Senate, but that work will be done in just four days. We’ll want to rest up briefly, and then dig in. After you’ve read the CNN report, “31 Days,” you’ll feel in your bones just how important it is that we send Trump off into the sunset, or far better, to prison.
Paul & Roxanne.
TODAY: “Land & Water Protectors Webinar: Fighting fossil fuel exports in the Pacific Northwest.” Thursday, May 28 from 3pm-4:30 PM MT. The webinar describes the indigenous battles with the extraction industry from Wet’suwet’en territory to the Klamath River and beyond, including Jordan Cove LNG, Tacoma LNG, Trans Mountain Pipeline, and the Coastal Gas Link Pipeline. They also discuss how these battles to protect communities from the harm of the fossil fuel industry are directed connected to colonization. The panel will share stories from their struggles against the fossil fuel industry & colonization, examine the connections between these battles throughout the region, and tell you how to take action in solidarity with their communities.
Speakers include Ka’ila Farrel-Smith (Klamath-Modoc Artist), Kanahus Manuel (Secwepemc and Ktunaxa), Brook Thompson (Yurok Tribal member), Thomas Joseph (Hoopa), Dakota Case (Puyallup Water Warriors), and a representative from the Gidimt’en Camp. Click here to register. bit.ly/05282020.
“Reclaiming Orphaned Oil and Gas Wells – Creating Jobs and Protecting the Environment by Cleaning Up and Plugging Wells,” a virtual Forum on Orphaned Oil & Gas Wells – Monday, June 1, 2020 at 11:00 am. Hosted by the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources,this forum will be streamed on Facebook live and YouTube. Panelists: include:
- Lynn Helms, Director of the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources
- Adrienne Sandoval, Director of the Oil Conservation Division New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department
- Daniel Raimi, Senior Research Associate, Resources for the Future
- Sara Kendall, Program Director, Western Organization of Resource Councils
Thinking about a dear friend from college, whose wife had to have surgery for a brain tumor during COVID-19. She is still in and out of the hospital. Their insurance tried to pull the plug on coverage in the midst of treatment, and her surgeon sent him a bill for over $300,000, claiming he was “out of network.” What he has been through, apart from the COVID-19 crisis, shows just how terrible our healthcare system is, and how people not ill with COVID-19 are also suffering hugely in the hospital environment.
He has been unable to see his wife for most of the time she’s been in hospital and rehab, and she has suffered memory loss from the surgery, such that phone and iPad were also not options for an extended period – she couldn’t remember her passwords. It’s an absolute nightmare for their family. Yet Joe Biden says he will not support Medicare for All.
Our society has lost its way on so many fronts – it is heartbreaking, as Paul and Roxanne Report with this man caring for his father remotely, that human beings are facing such terrible situations with healthcare in this country. We’re the only one in the developed world in which the population accepts the unacceptable, and people are bankrupted every day by for-profit insurance companies, hospitals, and Big Pharma.
As Omar from THE WIRE says, “Indeed”. A beautiful tribute “31 Days” from a loving family. Every life lost to COVID19 fills me with sadness.