Mother of all Choices

I don’t know about you, but I like to have choices.  This is one reason I tend to overpack when I travel, even for a weekend.  

I can barely decide on what I am going to wear each day, much less the day after tomorrow in a different city.  Given global warming and the toxicity of our environments, a forecast of 78 degrees FOR a Tuesday can mean 46 degrees ON that Tuesday.

If this reads like a flippant way to get into the #1 news story in American life, it is.

You knew where I was going…

How else can we right now treat the leaked draft of a new Supreme Court ruling that will overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade case and rescind a woman’s choice on whether to terminate HER pregnancy, even in the case of rape or incest, if a state so chooses?

Yes, we ALL need to demonstrate, fight, scream and, most importantly VOTE for pro-choice candidates if this draft becomes law once this ruling, or some variation of it, gets released in its final version next month.

Not now, not ever

But for right now the sheer hubris, audacity and basic on-the-record manipulative lies being perpetrated on the American public with this edict – basically because of three far right Trump appointed, judicial conservatives rammed onto the Supreme Court in order to purposely create this very majority opinion – should not to be treated with respect.

In fact, it should be treated for exactly what it is.  

That’s all.

A mountain of cleverly worded intellectual pretzel logic law horse traded by an orange-faced, aspiring dictator who still couldn’t win his re-election campaign.

A diarrhea of paragraphs meant to perpetrate a dogmatic, oppressive, religious agenda on a heretofore secular country. 

A betrayal by a small group of the most powerful judges in the land, the three most recent of whom committed moral perjury in their confirmation hearings so they could gain a seat to do exactly this – roll back our rights to those of half a century ago for the first time in American history rather than moving them forward.

The ultimate offensive, cynical stupidity of this move will haunt both the Court and the Republican Party for decades.

Please vote in November!

According to a recent Pew Research poll, 61% of Americans think abortion should be legal in all or most cases.  Support for abortion with restrictions would score far higher.

And the Guttmacher Institute, a respected organization that studies sexual health and reproductive rights, recently estimated that a whopping 24% of ALL U.S. WOMEN will have an abortion before the age of 45.

What this means is that the anti-choice Handmaid’s Tale movement is outnumbered, and by A LOT.  As a gay person it reminds me of the similar approval numbers right before the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed marriage equality – aka the passage of same sex marriage – seven years ago.

Did I mention VOTE IN NOVEMBER?

Of course, the difference is the equality ruling reflected where the vast majority of the country stood on civil liberties while this 2022 curtailment (Note: Or whatever you want to call it) of Roe v. Wade favors minority rule and taking away our long established freedom of choice.

I don’t usually read or promote the conservative leading Wall Street Journal, but this short opinion piece claiming that somehow these conservative justices didn’t lie in their confirmation hearings is a prime example of the level of hypocrisy the American public is being asked to absorb whole, and unlubricated.

Again, for the seats in the back!

Dodging questions that could expose them as anti-choice, the Trump judges all admitted that 1973’s Roe v. Wade fell into the legal category of stare decisis, a legal term which translated literally means to stand by things decided.

In fact, Justice Kavanaugh, that bastion of women’s rights, testified the issue of Roe had been reaffirmed many times, specifically noting legal precedent is critically important when it comes to judicial rulings.

But heavily implying you’re not touching that precedent and changing your mind about the case  is not the same as saying you absolutely won’t touch the case and change your mind!!

Who could have seen this coming??

That is the argument used by the WSJ editorial board, which is similar to the argument Lucy gave Charlie Brown before she moved the football.  Or the one that one grade school bully posed to me before he grabbed my tuna sandwich and left me with his hot lunch of rancid meatloaf, lukewarm beets and a teeny, tiny mini-carton of sour milk. (Note: Yes, this was the sixties.  And we shouldn’t go back).

Of course, all this wordplay does nothing for all the anger I have on behalf of young people – particularly women – who will now have to deal with this needless crap for the next, numerous decades.  The money spent, the energy expended on sheer dictatorial nonsense is enough for me to wish I could make every season of Hulu’s Handmaid’s Tale required viewing in each classroom and courthouse in red state America.

Their new favorite superhero

Not that the majority of them wouldn’t side with the Gilead powers-that-be or send out a posse led by a Ginny Thomas clone  (Note: Our real life Aunt Lydia) to land me on the WALL.

The salacious, infuriating side story in all this mess is the one President Pancake Makeup told to Howard Stern in 2004 when he found out his then girlfriend, Marla Maples, was pregnant with the unborn fetus that would eventually become his youngest daughter, Tiffany Trump.

As he tells it, his exact quote was, Excuse me, what happened?, followed by a sarcastic, Oh great, and the proclamation, Well, what are we GOING TO DO ABOUT THIS?

UGH

As a fellow guy who grew up in his hometown of Queens let me translate that for you.  It means, and I paraphrase, how soon can you get an abortion and okay, I guess I have to pay for it.  See Allen Weisselberg, give him the receipt and he’ll reimburse you on your way out.

Something like that likely would have happened if Ms. Maples didn’t speak up and say to him,  Are you serious?  It’s the most beautiful day of our lives.

To which Trump once again replied, Oh, great, either sarcastically or in a serious but placating manner.   I will leave it up to you to CHOOSE the line reading that makes the most sense.

But however you interpret it, this much is clear.   Those at higher income levels will always have the right to choose

Either way. 

I, for one, fully respect whatever choice a woman makes.  What I don’t respect, and reject, are a bag full or hypocrites in robes being propped up by a party full of foaming at the mouth conspiracy theorists, would-be dictators and immorally bankrupt, power hungry just–for-the-sake-of-it stooges.

Luckily, we have the numbers on this. 

And come June they can kiss our collective asses. 

Hairspray – “You Can’t Stop the Beat”

CoVid Star Power

We are all the stars of our own lives.  This applies to each of us, whether we choose to luxuriate in the spotlight or are repelled by the mere thought of being noticed.

All of this is to say we have the ultimate say on every choice we make because at the end of the day we are the person taking the action.  It’s not only our name and reputation, but it’s our decision that keeps the entire project that is US afloat.

And nowhere has this been more apparent than in the recent uptick of COVID-19 cases across the United States.

Oh god

New COVID-19 cases are increasing in all 50 states in the US at an alarming rate.  Sure it’s worse in Florida, Missouri and the Arkansas border than it might be than where you’re reading this, but rest assured cases are also UP where you are.

Thanks Delta-Variant.  Thanks mask refusers.  Thanks pandemic deniers.  And most of all, thanks TO THE NON-VACCINATED.  They are all truly the STARS of their OWN SHOW.

Me, 24/7

The above sentence is meant to be read and/or said aloud with sarcasm.  You can also throw in a dollop of anger, impatience and even hate on my part on any given day or if the mood strikes you.   And given the news lately, it likely will.

CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on Friday that this is becoming the pandemic of the unvaccinated.  This is because that population accounts for over 99% of recent COVID deaths.  However, that doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t get a mild case of sick with perhaps lingering  lifetime effects from this disease.   

Nor does it mean that kids under 12 years old, who right now don’t even qualify to get a shot, won’t soon be in danger.  In fact, doctors tell us that if virus keeps surging the youngest members of our population will be the most affected.  Even now in Mississippi, a state with one of our lowest vaccination rates, seven children are in intensive care with COVID-19 and two are on ventilators.

Never more relevant

I won’t bore you with too many figures but just know that new cases are up 10% over what they were a week ago and 38 of our 50 states have seen a 50% increase. 

Across the US there were an average of 26,448 new cases per day over the last week. 

That might not seem scary in a country with 328 million people until you realize this figure was 67% higher than the week before.

If you take into account where we were in COVID-19 cases in, say, January 2020, and then look back and do the math of just a few months later, you’ll catch my drift.  Meaning we could be moving into deep sh-it once again if we don’t get our acts together.

Translation?  The answer is not to run to the nearest bar or local Med Men outlet (Note:  Google the latter) to not deal with what’s happening.  Instead, it’s to act like the best star in the world (Note: Think Tom Hanks or Meryl Streep) and step up, do your homework and carry the entire production on your shoulders if need be).

If we lockdown again, I’m ready for my Wilson phase

I live in Los Angeles, the most populated county in the country.  Because we’ve had a FIVE HUNDRED PER CENT increase in cases in the last month, an indoor mask mandate has been reinstated  as of Saturday night this weekend. 

What does this mean?  It means that if you go inside a supermarket, a workplace, a gym, a theatre or ANY INDOOR PUBLIC SETTING YOU HAVE TO WEAR A MASK.

It’s said that L.A. is leading the fight against the Delta Variant of COVID-19.  But, well, are we?

Or is it more like this?

I was fully vaccinated at the end of February and since then have always worn a mask at indoor public settings.  Except, well, a couple of times where I sat indoors at a restaurant when there was social distancing and I had to take my mask off to eat.  And then slowly decided to keep it off while I was inside because it seemed easier and no one else had one on.

Translation:  Truth be told, I never felt totally comfortable being unmasked in an indoor public space after I was vaccinated, even when I was six feet apart from others.  But I did it a few times (Note: Okay, maybe even more) anyway.

As a guy who used to lean towards the hypochondriacal, until I got older and realized there is truly NO escape from death, I figured that with the vaccine I could drop a shoulder strap or two at a socially distanced indoor restaurant. 

The Delta variant’s best friend

Still, there was no way I’d be doing a full strip indoors, even in L.A., at the movies or the, well, supermarket.  At this point, I no longer have any desire to prove just how comfortable I am onstage or center stage EVERYWHERE, even though, living in Hollywood, there is ALWAYS a chance you can be discovered, or rediscovered, at any moment and at any given age.  Or so the legend goes.

Nevertheless, it seems far too many Americans do see themselves as the center stage star of their own burlesque routine in towns big and small all across the country.  Rather than recognize they are part of a cast of millions in a daily blockbuster production called real-life, they see themselves as the spoiled pampered star at their local dinner theatre doing the same old thing in the same old way to less and less and FAR LESS success.  But, I mean, why change now, right?

Keep tellin’ yourself that, Norma

Those who’ve spent their adult lives in the entertainment industry realize at some point there is no reasoning with certain of these types.  They believe it is their right to act and strut and sing out exactly as they always have even if they put the entire rest of the cast and crew, in fact the entire show or project, at risk.

There is no shared responsibility. There is only the wants, needs AND DESIRES of the STAR. The star’s only real life are those moments that they are center stage and, for stars like these, those moments are every second of every waking hour of every single day. Consequences for all others be damned.

By the way, that kind of star doesn’t always have to be the performer.  It can be the director, the producer, the writer or the financier in the background.  It can even be, um, a former president of the United States.

HE WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED

Or it can be the person staring back at you each morning in the mirror, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.

We all have the final say on what we do individually.  It’s our names, our reputations and our decisions that keep us afloat and, en masse, it is all of those things that keep the entire project that is the U.S. afloat.

Or sink it quicker than a summer stock production of The Sound Music in Atlanta featuring the Trump family.

Carly Simon – You’re So Vain