Best of 2020: Pandemic Journal

Everybody has their best-of lists, so let me be humility-free and offer Pandemic Journal for consideration. It compresses the ridiculousness of 2020 into an hour of reading/guilty pleasure that generated laughter, outrage and a small amount of misguided anger among readers.

If you haven’t yet, check it out.

Reader Update: The Fox-Con

Grifters often have a blind spot when it comes to detecting one of their own kind, so we shouldn’t be surprised to see the latest chapter of the Wisconsin-Foxconn saga leave the state’s citizens holding an empty bag while the politicos who summoned ruin look for a side door.

A company whose employees use threats of mass suicide as a bargaining tactic might not seem like an ideal partner for the wholesome Dairy State, but a few years ago they simply had to mention “high tech” and “13,000 employees” to get then-governor Walker, a man whose notions about economics arrive in a fat envelope from the Heritage Foundation, to strap on his kneepads and do whatever had to be done.

Even the Carnival Barker in Chief got in on the act, because there was credit to be claimed without actually doing any work besides shaking a hand and grimacing at a camera. And so it came to pass that Wisconsin ponied up $2.85 billion in tax credits in exchange for Foxconn’s promise to hire 13K workers who would make next-generation LCD screens. A wise man would question why a manufacturer of electronic commodities would choose to plop down a new factory in Wisconsin, the state’s sudden love of cheap labor notwithstanding, but no one has ever accused Scott Walker of being a wise man.

Similarly, history buffs might have spoken up about past examples of Foxconn playing bait and switch with rubes around the globe, but I guess the economic cheerleaders in the state don’t believe there’s anything to be learned from the past.

The train wreck that will forever be known as Fox-Con has happened in exquisite slow motion. An empty “innovation center” distracted curious eyes from the lack of actual manufacturing, while “someday soon” became less of a promise and more of a doomed dream.

Yet, some hold on to that dream and boldly believe, against all reason, that manufacturing activity will crank up and Foxconn will add the 12,719 additional employees needed to meet their commitment. But grifters know never to hang around one town too long. To paraphrase a famous movie about swindlers, I guess Foxconn will move on and won’t be getting a straight job anytime soon.

I Am Dr. Anthony Fauci and I Think I’m On To Something

Citizens, pundits and fellow scientists have watched in horror as President Trump returned to the campaign trail, unmasked and in close proximity to aides, supporters and Secret Service agents. How can he do this? I’m asked, and while at first I shared many American’s alarm at this apparently reckless behavior, I now understand the threat is overstated.

In a nifty bit of lateral thinking, I put aside science and turned to thirty years of tabloid history. What I learned caused a zen-like calm to descend over me as I realized that the man who I thought was a super-spreader of SARS-CoV-2 is, in fact, incapable of hosting the virus. There is a simple reason, demonstrated multiple times and documented in the pages of The National Enquirer, other supermarket weeklies and

Everything Trump touches dies, including:

  • Casinos.
  • Marriages.
  • Careers.
  • The USFL.
  • Reputations.
  • Relationships.
  • Alliances.
  • Economies.
  • Food and beverage brands.
  • Charities.
  • Jeffrey Epstein.
  • Real estate deals.
  • A search engine.
  • An airline.
  • Countless scams big and small.
  • And yes, SARS-CoV-2.

In the same way that an unstoppable money-printing enterprise like a casino can hemorrhage red ink and die after close contact with Mr. Trump, so has SARS-CoV-2 been brought to its metaphorical knees.

I have directed my subordinates to immediately start research into processing his unique qualities into a serum that can be administered to the entire population, I must warn Americans that this wonder cure will not be available immediately, as we must first put safeguards in place to insure that this essence of Trump doesn’t inadvertently kill the entire pharmaceutical industry.

Pandemic Journal Shares Favorite Holiday Recipes

Columbus Day finds the Pandemic Journal staff gathering in the lunchroom to raise a toast to a few hundred years of unfettered genocide. As is our custom, staff members are invited to share their favorite recipes. These range from elaborate dishes to fare you might find in “Microwave Dinners for One.” I would say we don’t judge, but we do, with the advertising team assigning scores on a ten-point scale to each dish. And now it’s my pleasure to share with you, dear reader, a few time-tested favorites.

Publisher’s Punch (from yours truly)
Pour a fifth of pure grain alcohol in a Swarovski Crystal bowl. Add a splash of bottled, processed lemon juice. Stick a curly straw in the punch and drink until the sweet relief of unconsciousness overcomes you.

Cabbage, Just Cabbage (from Frank in Accounting)
Take the only vegetable your wife left you in the divorce. Season with tears. Stab it with a sharp knife. Eat it. Or not. Who’s hungry, anyway?

Crab Cakes a la Sue (from Sue in Research)
Lump crab masks the taste of drain cleaner, so add plenty of both along with bread crumbs, Old Bay Seasoning, and two egg yolks. Mix well, form into patties, bake and serve to those jackasses in HR while quietly reminding yourself that you make 30% less than your co-worker Dale, who is an idiot.

Hot Pockets and More! (from Chuck in the Motor Pool)
Inject Ghost Pepper concentrate into frozen Hot Pockets. Microwave per Jim Gaffigan’s instructions (frozen on the outside, molten in the middle). Pop popcorn and watch the fun.

Let Them Eat Cake (that’s right, another one from me!)
My lifelong pursuit of privatizing gains and socializing risk means that sometimes the axe has to fall on a career. And if it happens during our company lunch the bad news comes complete with a luscious chocolate cake. Who says a life-upsetting event can’t be sweet!?

A Pandemic Journal Edition Completely Free of Bad Words

I’m feeling chastened to think that maybe my use of salty language is getting out of hand. So I’ve sworn-without-actually-swearing to tone it down a bit and only use words that will make a nun smile.

This new leaf also has me rethinking my attitude about various topics. “Smile and the whole world smiles with you,” an old friend used to say, and I look forward to reconnecting with him on Facebook so I can tell him how that worked out after I grinned at a Neo Confederate who was loudly asserting his belief that the South’s 0-1 wartime record is merely a historical quirk that will be corrected.

In the same manner, I vowed to test drive certain beliefs that haven’t sat well with me, wondering if a change of heart could turn my perpetual frown upside down.

I decided to first confront my fear of notions that “science” tells me are harmful. “Don’t fear gravity,” I said to Dave as I casually pushed him over the third-story railing of a parking garage. I count this experiment as inconclusive thanks to Dave’s inability to form sounds or facial expressions, and thus give me any useful feedback.

Pressing on, I put aside my fear of sharp objects, open electrical sockets and fire. An afternoon of fearless experimentation was painful but showed me that a little scarring is a small price to pay for having an open mind.

Fortified by pain, I sauntered among the many homeless in our community and reminded them that they didn’t have to go hungry if they could only summon up some pluck and expand their understanding of what makes objects “edible.”

But a life well-lived is about more than overcoming fear and helping others beneath us expand their horizons. It’s about seeing the world as a reflection of one’s own untroubled perspective. I’m learning to get there, but in the meantime I’ve covered my windows with plywood and play choral music at high volume to shield me from any ugliness that might come my way.

I’ve got to say it’s working for me. Alone with my happy thoughts, I feel a new peacefulness.

I Am Governor Whitmer’s ASL Interpreter, and I Am Sick of America’s Bullshit

Hello America, that’s me standing behind Big Gretch’s left shoulder, translating her words while communicating righteous anger. I am woman–I can fucking multitask. And I am sick of America’s bullshit.

Let’s start with you Wolverine-Watchmen-Red-Dawn-Cosplaying-Halfwits. That’s some tiny dick energy, boys. Your answer to gym closures is to meet in a vacuum cleaner shop and plot to kill elected officials and cops? That’s a fucked up notion of liberty. Think about that while you rot in federal prison.

You, in the White House: Our great nation doesn’t run on favors and praise. If a governor of any party is threatened, the president picks up the phone and calls to express sympathy and offer support. He doesn’t whine about how he didn’t get a thank you note. Grow a pair, child.

All of you people screaming to reopen the economy? Here’s a clue: Test, track, trace and wear a damn mask. The only ones offering false choices about getting the economy revving again are ideologues who hope you’re as mindless as them.

America, get your shit together. You’re pissing me off.

The Vice Presidential Debate Causes Us to Fear for America’s Future

We come to you today as scientists, engineers and researchers in the fields of robotics and artificial intelligence. And we have a confession.

Years ago, we intentionally released an early stage research project, a simulacrum of humanity, into the wild. Our intentions were noble: We simply wanted to observe how an obviously artificial “human” would relate to people around him and acclimate to society. In retrospect, dropping off our robot in rural Indiana was a mistake. Unlike New York, where anyone who encountered our cyborg would have immediately seen through its bullshit, Indiana presented a welcoming environment where its sleek appearance wasn’t off-putting and it could adopt a folksy demeanor that went over well with locals.

Even when Mike-bot, as we refer to it, was elected governor we viewed the results as inconclusive and expected our experiment to run out of momentum.

Fast forward to last night and the terror in our hearts that motivated this guest editorial. We’ve watched with growing alarm as our mechanical spawn has adopted and regurgitated a long list of repugnant ideas. Whether the subject is the administration’s coronavirus response, immigration, tax policy, the growing White House rap sheet, or diddling porn stars, our creation speaks in the calm manner of a serial killer who is busying himself with preparations while you watch, bound and gagged on an operating table. The effect is oddly soothing–like knowing with absolute certainty that you’re going to die but also knowing that your killer is untroubled by what he’s about to do.

We bear some responsibility for this, having installed only rudimentary morality and memory circuits in Mike-bot. But we can all agree that at this moment, it’s America tied to that operating table and we should be shitting ourselves in fear.

Before we return to constructing our cyborg-proof panic chamber, we’ll address the fly-shaped elephant in the room. This early edition robot is not equipped with kinesthetic sensors and could not “feel” the fly that perched on his head for two minutes and three seconds. If Kamala Harris leapt over the barriers and pummeled him with a two-by-four, his pallid, shiny face would have shown the same lack of reaction. This is also why sex with Mother is, to her eternal relief, out of the question.

Stephen Miller, who found pleasure in putting children in cages

Editor’s note: Pandemic Journal staff has found it challenging to keep pace with the news. But some stories demand coverage, and word that White House Advisor Stephen Miller contracted Covid-19 is one of those. That’s why we’re running a fill-in-the-blanks preview edition of this ghoul’s obituary for your edification and pleasure, even as we send him our sincerest thoughts and prayers.

August 23, 1985-________

White House advisor Stephen Miller, who rose from the dead and used his vampiric powers to promote policies that did many a tinpot authoritarian proud, has left this earthly realm and returned to his underworld lair where his presence is undoubtedly giving Satan the heebie-jeebies. Covid may have been the cause, but for all we know he may have just decided hell suits him better.

Miller was born and attended school for many years in California, where his classmates regularly administered parking lot beat downs in response to Miller’s penchant for turning every tragedy into a right wing talking point. Ejected from the state for being a complete dick, he continued his studies at Duke University, where he was best known as a promoter and fundraiser for noted neo-Nazi Richard Spencer, as well as a first-class asshole.

Miller, who had every trace of his humanity removed in a groundbreaking surgical procedure in 2001, gained the attention of Nazi enthusiasts and casual fascists worldwide for his embrace of policies that wink at the notion of white superiority without saying it out loud too often.

Following graduation, he won an OAN reality show in which he strangled kittens for a continuous 72 hour period without stopping to eat or drink. The show remains the highest rated in OAN’s history.

Miller rose to become a White House policy advisor after demonstrating his abject cruelty to an administration that thrives on it. While he was known for separating migrant families and caging children, a lesser known fact is that these were not his official duties, but hobbies he joylessly engaged in for much of his life. In addition to his duties as liaison to the less savory elements of society, Miller was primary White House speechwriter despite his requirement that his overwrought screeds, which lacked any connection to reality, be translated from their original German.

Miller leaves behind his wife, also a horrible person, and no friends.

I Was a Candy Striper at Walter Reed and Now I Have the Nuclear Football. AMA.

I became at volunteer Candy Striper at Walter Reed Hospital in 2019 because of my love of humankind and unflinching belief that I can make a positive difference in this world. Despite the personal risk it represents, I’ve upheld that commitment during the pandemic, serving a shift from 7 AM to 3 PM five days a week, without fail. And without pay.

While it’s not unusual for the president to appear at my workplace, the other day was a bit different. Perhaps it was his labored breathing and sweaty, panicked countenance. I don’t judge, though, and set about giving him the best care I could. Even when he, profanely and for far longer than necessary, demanded to know why he was there and whether his pal Vladimir sent me to rescue him.

Patients can become disoriented so I chuckled at his outburst, which set off another of what my mom calls “adult tantrums” and an uncontrolled coughing fit.

That caused a commotion and the president’s handlers and aides and all the doctors and nurses jumped into action and wheeled him toward the ICU. And I found myself alone. Typically, I would turn to comfort the spouse but in this case I think she was still sore about the “porn hooker” and didn’t come along.

I busied myself tidying up after the president and his entourage and immediately spied a black briefcase, which I recognized as the Presidential Emergency Satchel or what some folks call the nuclear football.

There was no one to hand it to and the end of my shift had long passed, so I figured I would take it home for safekeeping and bring it back the next day. I showed it to mom and she laughed and said the world would be a lot safer with the nuclear codes in the hands of any random juvenile than the president. She’s a kidder.

Anyway, I’ve been perusing pages of retaliatory options, teaching my parrot the nuclear launch codes, and prank calling Domino’s with the bag’s super cool satellite communications device. But I’m bored, on Reddit and have the nuclear football. Ask me anything.

Kimberly Guilfoyle Stuck Her Tongue Down My Throat and Now I Believe I Have the White House Virus

Six cocktails deep at a Rose Garden ceremony isn’t where you want to be in the perilous times, but there I was and it is what it is. I had just ordered cocktail number seven, hoping to suppress my despair, when I turned and found myself masked face to mask-less face with Kimberly Guilfoyle. I tried to engage her in conversation about her journey from attorney to tabloid fodder-slash-lesson for Toastmasters everywhere, but she ripped my tall pure grain alcohol and lemon from my hands, downed it in one gulp, and forced her tongue down my throat while simultaneously demanding I view compromising photos of her cat sitter.

As I felt her serpent tongue penetrate my medical grade mask and plunge toward my tonsils, one thought was fixed firmly in my noggin: There’s no telling which Trump has been partying with that tongue, and in any event it’s likely awash in SARS-CoV-2.

I hit the eject lever on our unanticipated tete-a-tete and made straight for Pandemic Journal HQ, where I am currently quarantined with a shit-ton of Clorox and Beefeaters gin.

Never fear, I’ve reallocated budget for our staff’s 401k match to a helicopter that sits outside, ready to whisk me to a hospital at the sign of the first sniffle. I considered checking myself in as a precaution, but Chris Christie needed both beds in his room so none were available.

I’m an optimist by nature, but watching the dominoes fall, one by one, is cause for concern. I thought we could count on Kayleigh to never lie and that SUV joyride we all witnessed was a bit too Weekend-at-Bernies for my comfort, so I’m hunkered down, alternating between doomscrolling for news about another senator getting the vapors and writing detailed instructions for my Viking funeral.

I’ll need your thoughts and prayers, please.