Mind Boggling Event

Today was another absolutely mind boggling day for me. There have been many since the beginning of the Trump phenomena. On a Facebook group, I posted a picture of the front door of the Republican Party on Grand Ave. in Escondido with the comment that it reflected Republican attitude. Somehow I found the image amusing. To me, the welcome with the caveat that people were not welcome to use the restrooms was a self-apparent reflection of Republican disdain of people who were not “good enough”. What followed was an eruption of condemnation that I was totally unprepared for—but probably should have been. It is still amazing to me that people cannot see the Republican hypocrisy that is so evident to me.IMG_4316 (1)

Several people simply didn’t “get it”. They went into diatribes about how the public using restrooms in businesses was something that was often not allowed by signs. The entire conversation then disintegrated into something that the first critic of the photo railed against—partisan bickering. Well it did, and I am guilty. It was truly not my intent.

I was just as taken aback in July when a man, I greatly respect asked:

A hypothetical question to Trump uber critics. It is an honest non-rhetorical question searching for an honest answer: In our nation’s glorious past, there’s always been a “loyal opposition” to the POTUS holding office and his party. For the most part — with some exceptions over the years — the opposition has usually been civil, respectful to some degree to the person in office and directed at his policies and record, not him personally. Lemme restate there have been exceptions (JFK, Reagan, Bush43, Obama) but nothing anywhere the level of shrieking and even the hysteria against the current president. The hypothetical question is this: In a post-Trump era, will this level of incivility, savagery, and disinformation become the norm in future oppostion strategies? Will opposition parties return to some level of political normalcy in the future or will we continue to shriek, persecute our opponent’s supporters and maintain the societal and political grand canyon we’re carved out in our nation? As much as I pray that somehow we could do so now, I’m asking the question to see if these behaviors will be added to poltical tool kits against future administrations. Thoughts and please let’s keep the posts civil and even thoughtful.

I was astounded. This was after the Helsinki conference in which Trump basically sided with Putin against the FBI. I did not respond, but I will now.

As a proud “uber critic” of Trump I will say that this is not an unprecedented level of “shrieking and hysteria”. I remember going to a town hall meeting in 2009, hosted by Darell Issa. I wrote a letter to the Times Advocate at the time stating:

After attending the farce of a “town hall” meeting organized by Congressman Issa and the right wing radio host Rick Roberts  (760 AM, the same radio station that broadcasts the delusional Glenn Beck, who called President Obama a racist,) I was losing hope. Racism was rampant. A man behind me insisted we could clear out the prisons by sending home the illegal aliens. A blond beside me muttered as we were rising for the Pledge of Allegiance, that we’d better hurry “before they take away our flag.” During that Pledge the crowd loudly emphasized the words “under God,” suggesting agnostics like me weren’t good Americans. I’ll match my patriotism to the man who claimed to be a “domestic terrorist” any day. Issa did not reprimand that man; rather, he reprimanded patriots like me who booed.

Congressman Issa, when talking about the deficit, seemed to say “Mister we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again…” It was like being in a room filled with 1,500 Archie Bunkers—couldn’t wait to get home to wash off the excrescence.

The hatred of the Tea Party members towards Obama at the time seems as vicious as what I’ve observed against Trump. The difference is that now, a substantial part of the population is objecting to the incompetent, ignorant, buffoon now in office.

While he was running for president making ridiculous statements, I continued to think, time and again, that what he just said would be enough to end what seemed a charade of a campaign. I couldn’t believe anyone would take him seriously after his first incendiary speech upon announcing his candidacy, in which he branded Mexican immigrants as rapists, drug traffickers and “some…good people”.  This outrage was followed by “I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall.” I thought he would appall the voters when he belittled John McCain’s service saying “[h]e’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, OK?” Then there was his outrageous comment about Megyn Kelly: “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”And then there was his statement about his supporter, I now believe is probably true:  I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/11/the-155-craziest-things-trump-said-this-cycle-214420

I summarized my objection in a former blog: https://ablueviewescondido.com/2016/11/16/horrified-terrified-and-angry/

But nothing seems to move Trump’s supporters. His extreme behavior seem impervious to reason. I am continually astounded and surprised. Today, the New York Times has exposed his outrageous financial crimes and tax avoidance. Will this finally be the straw that breaks the back of the Republican true believers in this American Mussolini?





A correction:

In my last post I said Abed referred to the 2000 units in the parking lot area–that was incorrect. He was referring to the downtown area, not the parking lot, where  only 100 or so units are planned.

Some Observations about the Mayoral Forum

Except for the 45-minute late appearance of a candidate for the 2nd District Escondido City Council Seat, there were no surprises at the September 25th forum held the First United Methodist Church.

The forum started with the mayoral candidates, Paul McNamara and Sam Abed. McNamara thanked the church for hosting the event and stated his belief that the city’s potential was not being reached, and that it was known as “for lease Escondido”. Abed chided McNamara for tearing the city down—the city was excellent, and he had no idea what McNamara was talking about.  Abed made his usual boast that $2 billion had been invested in the city. Well, not sure where that $2 billion was spent—but it definitely wasn’t spent on Grand Ave, where 356 – 340, 249, 141, and 101 East Grand, and 101, 102-106, and 138-142 West Grand are all available for lease. http://www.loopnet.com/california/escondido_retail-space-for-lease/. With the proposed building and (at least temporary) loss of Parking Lot 1 across from the City Hall, the number of Grand Ave. vacancies will probably snowball  Abed boasted that “over 2,000 new businesses”, and “over 1500 new jobs” had been brought to Escondido. So, evidently, quite a few very small businesses. The only expansion of businesses I’ve noticed seems to be that of coffee houses—not exactly a font of high-income jobs.

When asked about the homelessness problem, McNamara observed that there could be no one size fits all solution, noting that the police were at the forefront of handling the problem. He advocated partnering with faith groups. Abed agreed that it was a complex problem, then went into to his usual “blame the state” game saying that recent laws had released hundreds of thousands from prison, thus the increase in the homeless population, as usual offering no data to support his premise.

The sale of the city’s parking lot was the next question. Abed insisted that nothing had been decided. Well, actually, the city has entered escrow on the sale of that property for “fair market value.” The decision to add 2,000 units where the parking lot was, was approved by the public when they approved the new general plan in the November, 2012 election Abed insisted. McNamara noted that Abed was again not listening to the people in Escondido, and he would stop the project if possible—arguing that what was needed was more parking, not less.

McNamara felt that the city should reopen a library in the East Valley Pkwy area, and did not think that outsourcing the library services was a good idea. Abed again insisted that the city had to outsource the library services to save $400 K a year in library expense and $10 million over ten years in pension expense. Of course during the period the city outsourced the library the city also hired new people in the city manager’s office, as well as hiring someone to oversee the city’s recreational and library services, making that $400 K savings very debatable.

Abed insisted that developers have to mitigate for any traffic impact their developments bring—yes, all of us who have lived in Southern California for more than a few years know how well that works out, not! McNamara noted that Abed and his colleagues had wanted to use the city’s parks to develop waterparks or bike racing parks—talk about traffic increase!

McNamara cited the success he had on the Palomar College Board in seeking other revenue sources to help solve the threatening pension deficit problem. Abed noted that he had been able to get the city employees to agree to the minimum pension benefits allowed under California law.

Both candidates agreed that housing was too expensive.

Abed railed against SB54, and how the city police cooperation of ICE had deported 2,700 illegal immigrant criminals. McNamara noted that SB54 did on prohibit cooperation with ICE on immigrants who had committed one of 800 crimes. Left unsaid was the lack of trust by the immigrant population that may very well lead to unreported crimes.

When asked to describe a time when they were able to bring a group of diverse people together, McNamara spoke of responding to 9/11 while an officer in the Marine Corps. Abed spoke of how much he and other businessmen on East Valley Pkwy. were able to improve the area.

Abed got a bit defensive when asked if public officials should profit from city business. He avowed he and his colleagues always abstained from any decision where they had a conflict of interest—to say otherwise was simply political grandstanding. McNamara answered with a simple “no”. There should never be any suggestion of a “pay to play” situation.

McNamara said that the solution to gang problems had to include looking at what caused the problem. He felt the police did not get enough credit for what they did. People should be given an alternative to gang life, many joined gangs because they felt they did not belong anywhere else. Abed felt illegal immigration contributed to the problem.

In summing up, Abed said he was very proud of his record and the city was on the right track. McNamara said the city had enormous untapped potential, the downtown could become a thriving community. Its leaders must not continue to regard recreation as an unnecessary expense.

More on the City Council Forum in a few days.


I attended tonight’s forum for the mayoral and city council races at the First United Methodist Church in Escondido tonight, and will write my impressions of the event later this week. But tonight’s appearance by newcomer to the race for the councilmember for Escondido District Two, Nicole Downey, brought back memories I would like to share. I don’t know what John Masson ever did to Downey, but I don’t think she likes him very much. I wrote a piece that was published in the North County Times back in November of 2012 when Masson was first appointed to the City Council. The one who accused him of being drunk and jumping into a pool, naked, was Nicole Downey. She made similar accusations tonight. But this was one of my better efforts—would like to refer you to the original piece in the North County Times, but all the old issues of that paper were “disappeared” when the San Diego Union Tribune took over, and dissolved it. So here is my copy:

Except for the accusation that one applicant for the council seat vacated by Marie Waldron had once, while drunk at a party, stripped naked, flipped off his audience, and jumped into a swimming pool, things went pretty much as expected at Wednesday’s Escondido City Council meeting.

Fateful agenda item 13, “Discussion and possible action or appointment to fill council vacancy,”  began with statements from the applicants, even though Mayor Sam Abed and Councilman Mike Morasco preferred to get the bothersome comments from the public out of the way first.  Councilwoman Olga Diaz was able to point out the logic of starting with the applicants.

Their comments about their backgrounds, concerns, and views included: strengthening Escondido’s infrastructure, praise of the current Council, need to increase revenue, praise of the current Council, eligibility due to being a 10th generation American, praise of the current Council, view from a new resident, being a third generation Escondidan, praise of the current Council, and need for graffiti removal. Several had strong resumes, including the two favorites, John Masson, the anointed Chamber of Commerce candidate, and Don Greene, the third highest vote getter in the November election. But, I found the most compelling speaker to be someone who wasn’t a candidate, Miranda Griffith, who spoke for her mother, Carmen Miranda. I’d like to see Griffith on the City Council.

Then the public spoke. The speakers who pleaded for either a special election for filling Waldron’s seat or the appointment of Don Greene, were intermingled with the “suits” who spoke for John Masson. The one surprise was a comment from highly respected Escondido historian, Carol Rae, that perhaps the appointment of Don Green would balance the Council between the interests of the business community and ordinary citizens.

Mayor Abed quoted the laws giving the council the right to select Waldron’s replacement.

Diaz suggested that the law was the minimum of what the civic obligation of their council should be. She urged her colleagues to suspend their haste, glean the most eligible from the list of applicants, hold a public forum where these applicants could be questioned by Escondido’s citizens, and then decide.

Morasco smugly asserted that any vote for him was also a vote to fill Marie Waldron sainted seat with someone with her values. It was Marie Waldron who initiated Escondido’s infamous proposals to make landlords immigration agents, and to restrict parking in order to discourage extended (read Latino) families from occupying a single family houses.

Councilman Ed Gallo argued that never before had an appointed council member been the third highest vote getter. Diaz noted that mindless adherence to the past meant that there could never be change for the good.

Gallo moved to appoint Masson. Hearing no second, Abed seconded the motion. The motion carried with Diaz voting no. The good ole boys won again, but for how long? Latino citizens have begun to organize. The times they are a changing, and the good ole boys aren’t going to be ready.


Parking in Escondido? “Someday it will get done.”


If you’ve ever been discouraged by the lack of convenient parking in Escondido, you will not be too heartened by City Councilman Ed Gallo’s prediction that “someday it will get done.” He was commenting at last Wednesday’s council meeting’s Item 8: DISPOSITION OF PROPERTY: 137-151 WEST VALLEY PARKWAY. Yes, that is correct, the city, with the current council majority’s approval, has entered into an agreement to sell the parking lot across from city hall. A lot that I have always found most convenient to downtown. If you’re interested in the details, you can see some of them on the city’s website: https://www.escondido.org/Data/Sites/1/media/agendas/Council/2018/09-19-18CCAgendaPacket.pdf .

The item was on the Consent Calendar. This is a group of items that usually don’t need much discussion by the council or public, e.g. approval of minutes, second readings of items that have been approved, but by ordinance, have to be covered twice in council meetings, minor budget adjustments, etc. Putting this item under the Consent Calendar seemed odd, but it was pulled from that calendar by the public.

Assistant City Manager Jay Petrek made a presentation about the proposed purchase. The buyer, Touchstone Communities, will pay the city “fair market value” (yet to be determined) for the lot. Another strange feature of this proposal. What they will build on the lot is also undetermined—another unusual facet. On Touchstone’s website they have a picture of a six-story building which they describe as  “two brand new residential projects, which will bring additional parking to the area.” http://touchstonecommunities.com/portfolio-posts/downtown-escondido-redevelopment/  Well, actually, in the proposal they are only required to provide 76 public parking spaces to replace the 118 spaces now available in the lot. To me, the suggested design looks like something you would build with Legos—very out of step with the buildings on Grand Ave.

After Petrek’s presentation, Councilwoman Olga Diaz had some questions. Was there ever, in the city’s history, an example of the city entering into a contract without knowing the sales prices, or what would actually be built? She wanted to be consistent in her decisions and felt this proposal was totally inconsistent with prior city policy.

City Manager Jeff Epp answered that their sales agreement of the old police department building had been entered into without a complete plan for what would be built. Diaz responded that agreement had some structure to it—this proposal had none. Mayor Sam Abed interrupted with the assurance to Diaz that the city wasn’t selling the property with this agreement. City Attorney Michael McGuinness explained that, actually the city was selling the property, but could back out of the deal if they did not approve of the appraisal—as could Touchstone.

Five members of the public spoke about the proposal. Robert de Fillippi, owner of the restaurant on Grand by that name, noted that his restaurant added many thousands of dollars in sales tax to the city’s budget. Taking away that parking lot, would kill his business as well as others. Jim Crone, who owns a lot of Escondido’s business property, including two buildings on Grand, concurred, noting that Mike Morasco would not be happy if Dennis Snyder were to preempt some of his parking for Morasco’s physical therapy clinic for Snyder’s school. A member of the Downtown Business Association agreed with de Fillippi and Crone. Maria Bowman said she would be very happy to see such development. David Ferguson, representing Touchstone, went into some of the details of the agreement, including a reference to a selling price of around $1.4 million.

Diaz said she did not like the item being placed on the Consent Calendar. In the initial discussion about the project there had been talk of a parking structure being built on the city’s parking lot at the corner of Kalmia and 2ndhttp://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/communities/north-county/sd-no-escondido-touchstone-20170630-story.html That was no longer on the table, apparently. She was opposed to the way the project was being approached, reiterating her comments on the lack of precedent for approving an agreement without much information about what the end product or sale price would be. She felt there should be much more allowance for public comment. If there were problems with the project later in the process, the developers would use the argument that they had done so much it would be unfair to deny them a chance to finish.

And then she pointed out what she felt was a big hurdle against the project, Councilman John Masson’s engineering firm’s participation in the project. Now Masson had recused himself from the discussion and vote on the project, and had done so in previous closed session meetings where the project was discussed. But, Diaz pointed out, in the ethics class she had just taken, as recommended by the city staff, that very scenario was discussed and concluded to be unethical. This could leave the city open to a lawsuit and invalidate every action the council took on the matter.

Gallo allowed that anyone who was involved with real estate knew that the buyers first determined the entitlements on a parcel before trying to build anything since they didn’t want to buy a pig in a poke. He did not explain why that process required the actual signing of a sales agreement before determining the feasibility, or why an appraisal and price couldn’t be determined before opening escrow. He then philosophized about the parking problem in the city, noting that in his own tracking of parking availability, he had never observed a time when there wasn’t plenty of parking in the lots. He then expressed his belief that a lot of the parking problem was due to the usurping of good parking by the retail stores’ owners and employees.

Councilman Mike Morasco didn’t think that the process had been “the opposite of transparent.” The council was not trying to “slip one by”. He elaborated on this “not clandestine” theme for a bit, and said that putting something on the Consent Calendar was not trying to hide it—since it could always be pulled. Then he echoed Gallo’s sentiment that parking was always a problem, maybe diagonal parking?

Abed said he wanted to address the trust issue. According to the City Attorney, Masson’s actions were perfectly all right, and putting McGuinness on the spot by asking for his agreement. An obviously uncomfortable McGuinness said that was true as far as he had observed. At one time or another, Abed continued, everyone on the council had a conflict of interest including Diaz, whose husband had worked on the police force. He admitted that there were issues with parking, but there would need to be a transitional parking plan.

Diaz said again that she disagreed with the process, and that elected officials making a profit on a project was a problem, as she learned in her ethics class. She was not accusing anyone of wrongdoing, but felt the situation was one that could lead to future litigation for the city. She noted that when her husband had worked for the police department and she was on the council, the situation had been reviewed by the legal department in depth, and it had been decided that there were so many layers between her position, and the position her husband held, there would be no conflict. In this case, there were no layers between Masson and Touchstone.

As expected, the motion was passed with “three yes votes, Diaz voting no, Masson abstaining.”

Notes from the National Parks of the West


Banff Springs Hotel

Tuesday, September 4, 2018


We arrived in this beautiful spot around noon today from Calgary. We’re half way through our trip.

We flew from San Diego to Salt Lake City last Wednesday, and spent the night in Ogden. The next day we drove up to Teton National Park. On the way, near Soda Springs, Idaho, we visited an historical site where you can still see the path of the Oregon Trail immigrants. My great-grandfather, William McCown and his extensive family, traveled over that trail in    1852.20180830_114436

I like believe that the Grand Tetons probably got their name from the branch of Sioux by that name rather than a French work for a part of the female anatomy, but that may be my feminist prejudice showing. They are overwhelming. We spent the night, and a considerable fortune staying at the Four Seasons. That was underwhelming. The last time we had splurged on a Four Seasons was about 18 years ago in Istanbul, Turkey. That had been a fantastic experience. In the Teton Village branch, every time you turned around, they charged for an upgrade. The food was very good, but about four prices.

There were no bears to greet us when we drove into Yellowstone the next day. The last time I had visited the park, I was about six years old, in 1951 (?), and I can still remember all the bears begging for food as my father drove our Desoto station wagon into the park. The only other think I remember from that first visit was the herds of buffalo and Old Faithful. Well, Old Faithful is still there, but we saw only to young male bison, and no bears. I’m sure the bears are much healthier now that people are no longer allowed to feed them.

We started our visit to Yellowstone at the West Thumb Geyser Basin. The West Thumb is a portion of the Yellowstone Lake. There is no East Thumb, but there is a South Arm and a Southwest Arm. The West Thumb is thought to be a caldera from one of the many volcanic explosions in Yellowstone’s geological past. We learned that the thermal hot springs pools varied in color due to a variation in their temperatures. The most beautiful clear blue pools, aare that way because their temperatures are over 140 degrees Farenheit, and nothing can live in them.20180831_131113_001 (1)

We traveled around the northwest shore of the lake, then north to see the mud volcano, then back to the lake and west to Old Faithful. We too a ranger led tour about the history of Old Faithful, the Old Faithful Inn, and Yellowstone Park as we traveled around Old Faithful, which faithfully went off about halfway through the tour. I have a new phone, and was having a disagreement with it, evidently, while I tried to take a picture of the geyser spouting, so didn’t get a picture. The phone has a good camera, but it changes setting if I hold my tongue wrong or something.

We spent that night at the Old Faithful Inn in the older of the two wings—1920’s sometime. We ate dinner at the Inn, and the food was good and prices reasonable, and the wait interminable. As we were leaving the Inn the next day, the Steamboad Geyser went off—much bigger than Old Faithful, but not nearly as predictable.

The next day we traveled to the Mammoth Hot Springs, stopping along the way at many varied hot springs and geysers. The Mommoth Hot Springs terraces were one of the highlights of our visit.

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We then traveled east to Tower Fall and then south through the Dunraven pass to Canyon. The scenery was spectacular, and from the pass we caught another glimpse of the Tetons. In the foreground of this picture, you can see the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.20180901_155315_001 (1)

We spent the night at the new hotel in Canyon, and again had a good, reasonably priced dinner.

The next day, before setting out to our next destination we took the Canyon Rim Road, and caught a view of the Lower Falls with a rainbow.20180902_083906

Now our next destination was to have been Whitefish on the west side if Glacier National Park. However, we found out that our Glacier National Park was closed due to the fire, so we made reservations in Great Falls, Montana instead. That way, we could visit the Canadian part of Glacier National Park, which was open.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Chateau Lake Louise

Great Falls Montana is a very pleasant city, with a definite western flavor. The stores in the strip mall near our hotel were very much like those you find in Escondido, but then, so did the stores in the strip mall in Airdrie, a town, really a suburb, north of Calgary, where we spent the next night.

From Great Falls we traveled northwest to the east side of Glacier National Park, and actually went through Saint Mary, the eastern entrance to the park. On the way we had some beautiful views, but then it clouded over, and was raining by the time we got to the Canadian Park, which was very beautiful, even though we couldn’t see very far up the mountains. Our best views were from Highway 17 towards the park.

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The drive from Airdrie to Banff was really spectacular, but our drive yesterday, through the Icefields Pkwy. northwest of our marvelous hotel at Lake Louise. The sun was in the wrong direction to take really good pictures, but I was able to get one that gives some idea of the magnitude of the beautiful views.

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This view is but a sample of the views along the parkway—they were all pretty amazing,


And this is a view from our hotel window here in Lake Louise.




More Fear-mongering from the Right

I’m sure that the Paul McNamara campaign would be surprised to learn that he is going to build a detention center in Escondido and declare it a sanctuary city if elected mayor. That was what Melinda Santa Cruz, the first speaker under oral communications at last Wednesday’s city council meeting, claimed she had heard—adding that one would have to be really stupid to support that.

She began her comments with a strange anecdote about a friend who had a girlfriend who worked for the San Diego City Schools. Very few of her students spoke English, so therefore when this friend developed a case of bacterial meningitis it must have been due to his indirect contact with his girlfriend’s students? She said he wasn’t diagnosed until six hours before death. Did he die? Before she had made this outrageous statement, she referenced Dr. Michael Savage’s Diseases Without Borders, listing a long list of diseases brought by immigrants into the country, including chicken pox, T.B., malaria, as well as lice and scabies (which she did not differentiate as infestations.)

I would like to write-off the woman as a nut case—but I think that there are many in Escondido who have similar fears about immigrants, and Mayor Sam Abed and company are only too happy to stir up that fear. Abed is not shy about breaking the rules and responding to those who are critical of anything he does during oral communications from the public, but in the case of this woman’s outrageous statement about McNamara’s intentions, he remained silent. The fact that a detention center would be a concept that is totally contrary to a sanctuary city seems not to have occurred to this woman.

Just a few weeks before, at a City Council/Mobilehome Rent Review Board meeting, a man, representing the residents in a mobilehome park, during the discussion of a request for a short-form rent increase item, began his complaints about the maintenance of the park by thanking Abed for keeping Escondido from being a sanctuary city. Here’s a mobilehome owner subject to rent increases that are almost automatically approved by the Escondido City Council in their role as the Mobilehome Rent Review Board, still supporting Abed, even though Abed receives lots of campaign donations from mobilehome park owners, and consistently votes to support the park owners’ interests. His fear of immigrants evidently outweighs his fear of rent increase.

No matter how you look at the current political situation, here and abroad, the rise of extreme anti-immigrant rightwing political movements is basically about racism, and fear of “the others”. Rightwing politicians know that increasing fear of immigrants by outrageously exaggerated claims of their bringing disease and crime will increase the number of people who support their politics, as I pointed out in more detail in my last blog.

How can we overcome this fear? Education? There were two cases of meningococcal disease in San Diego County in 2017—was this woman’s friend one of them, or one of the three cases so far this year? https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/dam/sdc/hhsa/programs/phs/documents/Monthly_CD_Report_March2018.pdf   I’m sure this woman’s convinced that there is a major epidemic caused by immigrants. Never mind that it might very well have been an endemic source. It is spread by droplet infection—was her friend’s girlfriend sick too—or was her friend in his girlfriend’s classroom?

It’s been my experience that you can provide tons of empirical evidence to people who still support Trump, or Abed, but it’s like talking to a brick wall. Facts don’t seem to matter anymore—they’re written off as fake news. But I will continue to try.