'Can she eat more kale?' Hordes of liberals want reassurance RBG's health is good - SFGate

Monica Hesse, The Washington Post|on February 2, 2017

On Tuesday evening, President Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch for deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's long-empty seat. On Wednesday morning, liberals woke up, did the math and realized it was time to be concerned about Ruth Bader Ginsburg's fiber intake. Also bone density. Also exposure to airborne viruses (Madame Justice, what is your flu shot status?), and salmonella, and slippery ice, and also: Has anyone heard how scientists are coming along with a Zika vaccine?

"I'm very interested in this." says Jeanette Bavwidinski, a community organizer in Pennsylvania. "I'm interested in what her daily regimen is. Like, what are you all feeding RBG? Is she getting enough fresh air? Is she walking? Is she staying low-stress? What is she reading? Is she reading low-stress things?"

"Can she eat more kale?" asks Kim Landsbergen, a forest ecologist in Ohio. "Eat more kale, that's all I can say. We love you. Eat more kale.

Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta, Associated Press

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In this 2015 file photo, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington. 

In this 2015 file photo, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington. 

Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta, Associated Press

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President Donald Trump's busy first week in the White House came with many executive orders. Click though this slideshow to see what they all were. 

President Donald Trump's busy first week in the White House came with many executive orders. Click though this slideshow to see what they all were. 

Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP

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Softening of the Affordable Care Act

Trump's first executive order as president called for the delay of the implementation of "any provision or requirement of the act" that places a "fiscal burden" on states and individuals. President Trump and congressional Republicans have made the repeal of the Affordable Care Act a top priority in their agenda. less

Softening of the Affordable Care Act

Trump's first executive order as president called for the delay of the implementation of "any provision or requirement of the act" that places a "fiscal burden" on states ... more

Photo: Evan Vucci, AP

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New regulation freeze

President Trump signed a presidential memorandum that implements a "freeze" on regulations until they are approved by the president or one of the new heads of his governmental agencies.

New regulation freeze

President Trump signed a presidential memorandum that implements a "freeze" on regulations until they are approved by the president or one of the new heads of his governmental agencies.

Photo: Evan Vucci, AP

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No federal funding for organizations that provide abortion servicesPresident Trump revoked a presidential memorandum by Barack Obama that ended a ban on funding to organizations that provide abortion services overseas. Ronald Reagan first implemented this ban in 1984, and since then Republican and Democratic presidents have taken turns de-implementing and re-implementing it.lessNo federal funding for organizations that provide abortion services... morePhoto: Pool, Getty Images

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Withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

One of President Trump's first executive actions was to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal Trump believes will hurt U.S manufacturing jobs.

lessWithdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

One of President Trump's first executive actions was to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal Trump believes will hurt U.S manufacturing

... morePhoto: Pool

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A "hiring freeze" for governmental employees

President Trump signed a presidential memorandum that temporarily prevents government agencies from filling vacancies or opening new ones. The military is exempt from this memorandum.

lessA "hiring freeze" for governmental employees

President Trump signed a presidential memorandum that temporarily prevents government agencies from filling vacancies or opening new ones. The military is exempt from

... morePhoto: NICHOLAS KAMM, AFP/Getty Images

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Pipeline approval

President Trump signed an executive order to clear the way for the Dakota Access pipeline. Trump moved assertively on Tuesday to further dismantle his predecessor’s policies as he signed a document clearing the way to government approval of the Keystone XL pipeline as well as for the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota.  less

Pipeline approval

President Trump signed an executive order to clear the way for the Dakota Access pipeline. Trump moved assertively on Tuesday to further dismantle his predecessor’s policies as he signed a ... morePhoto: DOUG MILLS, NYTQuicker environmental reviews of "high priority" infrastructure projects

President Trump signed an executive order calling for the chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality to establish faster deadlines for environmental reviews of "high priority" infrastructure projects. Trump is expected to work with Senate Democrats on an infrastructure bill in the near future.

Pictured: In this March 26, 2014 file photo, Infrastructure construction continues along Stratford Ave., which run through the Steel Pointe property in Bridgeport, Conn.

lessQuicker environmental reviews of "high priority" infrastructure projects

President Trump signed an executive order calling for the chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality to establish faster

... morePhoto: Ned Gerard

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Mandate for American-made steel in new pipelines

President Trump signed a presidential memorandum directing the Commerce Secretary to "ensure" that all pipelines built or repaired in the United States are made with American-made steel.

Pictured: In this Dec. 5, 2012 file photo, foreman Javier Garcia works with his crew as they lower a section of pipe into the ground with cradles, along the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline section two near Winona, Texas. less

Mandate for American-made steel in new pipelines

President Trump signed a presidential memorandum directing the Commerce Secretary to "ensure" that all pipelines built or repaired in the United States are made ... more

Photo: Sarah A. Miller, Associated Press

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Review of manufacturing regulationsPresident Trump ordered the Commerce Secretary to conduct a 60-day review of manufacturing regulations, in the hope that many can be repealed.

Pictured: In this Oct. 21, 2016 file photo, Susan Stacy moves a tube to sort recycled plastic bottle chips being processed at the Repreve Bottle Processing Center, part of the Unifi textile company in Yadkinville, N.C. less

Review of manufacturing regulationsPresident Trump ordered the Commerce Secretary to conduct a 60-day review of manufacturing regulations, in the hope that many can be repealed.

Pictured: In this Oct. 21, 2016 ... more

Photo: Chuck Burton, Associated Press

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Mexico border wall moves forward

President Trump signed executive actions to jumpstart the construction of an U.S.-Mexico border wall. Trump also blocked federal grants from immigrant-protecting "sanctuary cities." Trump has continued to insist, through unspecified means, that Mexico will reimburse the U.S. for the cost. Meanwhile, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto insists Mexico will not pay for the wall and is planning to meet with Trump next week. Pictured: In this Nov. 10, 2016 file photo, workers raise a taller fence along the Mexico-US border between the towns of Anapra, Mexico and Sunland Park, New Mexico. less

Mexico border wall moves forward

... morePhoto: Christian Torres, AP

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Strengthening ICE, deportation instructions and cracking down on sanctuary cities

President Trump signed an executive order that calls for the hiring of 10,000 more Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. Also included in the order is a mandate for federal agencies to "step up" and deport undocumented immigrants who have been convicted of a crime, charged with a crime, committed a chargeable offense, misrepresented themselves to the government, abused a welfare program, are under deportation order and who may “in the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security." The order also calls for the U.S Attorney General and Secretary of Homeland Security to block federal grants to "sanctuary cities" that do not follow federal immigration laws.

Pictured: In this Aug. 17, 2015 file photo, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers arrest a man in San Antonio, Texas.

lessStrengthening ICE, deportation instructions and cracking down on sanctuary cities

President Trump signed an executive order that calls for the hiring of 10,000 more Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. ... more

Photo: John Davenport, Staff / San Antonio Express-News

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Reconstruction of the United States MilitaryAlongside Defense Secretary James Mattis, President Trump signed an executive order that calls for "new planes, new ships, new resources, new tools for our men and women in uniform." lessReconstruction of the United States MilitaryAlongside Defense Secretary James Mattis, President Trump signed an executive order that calls for "new planes, new ships, new resources, new tools for our men and ... morePhoto: Susan Walsh, AP

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"New vetting measures" for immigrantsPresident Trump signed an executive order calling for "new vetting measures" in an attempt to keep "radical Islamic terrorists" out of the United States. "I'm establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America. We don't want 'em here," Trump said. "We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas. We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people." less"New vetting measures" for immigrantsPresident Trump signed an executive order calling for "new vetting measures" in an attempt to keep "radical Islamic terrorists" out of the United States. "I'm establishing ... morePhoto: MANDEL NGAN, AFP/Getty Images

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The White House said Obama's 2014 executive order prohibiting LGBTQ workplace discrimination would remain intact "at the direction" of Trump.

The White House said Obama's 2014 executive order prohibiting LGBTQ workplace discrimination would remain intact "at the direction" of Trump.

Photo: Stephanie Zollshan, Associated Press

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'Can she eat more kale?' Hordes of liberals want reassurance RBG's health is good

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The facts in play: Ginsburg is 83 years old, the oldest justice by more than three years. She is one of the four reliably liberal jurists on the Supreme Court, and a mascot and hero to the left. There is one swing vote on the court, Anthony M. Kennedy, and there are three staunch conservatives. Adding Gorsuch would maintain the balance that existed when Scalia was alive: conservative replacing conservative.

But what if Ginsburg retires? What if Ginsburg gets sick and needs a leave of absence? What if Trump ends up replacing Ginsburg? In a week that has seen a relentless churn of White House news, liberal residents of the nation funneled their worst fears into a tiny, elderly woman.

"I kept thinking, you know, I could organize a bunch of gays," says John Hagner, a consultant for Democratic campaigns who lives in Washington. "I could organize the gays, and we would just make a protective circle around her at all times. We could help her get up and down the stairs. We got this."

With a rainbow phalanx protecting the justice against potential slips and falls, Hagner would then feel free to turn his attention away from external dangers, and toward microbial pathogens. "At that point," he says, "what I'm mostly concerned about is the cancer. Is she getting her checkups? Do her doctors realize how important it is for her to get her checkups? Do they? The woman is 98 pounds."

Ginsburg, appointed to the bench 23 years ago, has the endurance of a "Law & Order" franchise, but there are those YouTube clips of her nodding off during the State of the Union address, and she has already survived both colon and pancreatic cancer (a death sentence to many, though Ginsburg was back at work two weeks after surgery). And there are those people who remain furious that she didn't step down during Barack Obama's presidency: "Looking back, it was seriously dumb (and, frankly, selfish) of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer not to retire from #SCOTUS in 2013," fumed a user on Twitter shortly after the Gorsuch announcement.

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But! Bygones. Now was the time for liberals to work with the reality they had. Now was the time to channel the energy of thousands of anxious supporters into a solution for the Ruth Bader Ginsburg problem.

"I was just talking to a friend about this," says Michael J. McClure, an associate professor of art history at the University of Wisconsin. "Like, what could we do? What could we do to help Ruth Bader Ginsburg? Could we protect her with packing peanuts? Then it turned into, 'I need to become a vampire. Like in 'Twilight.' I need to become a vampire so I can make her a vampire with eternal life.' If I'm damned to eternal life myself, so be it. It's a sacrifice worth making."

BREAKING NEWS: In the middle of all the Wednesday fretting, a Ginsburg sighting! She took to the stage for a livestreamed Q&A at Virginia Military Institute. She wore a gray suit, matching gray gloves, and a lace jabot, as has become her trademark. A questioner asked about her health.

She regularly does push-ups, she told the crowd, as well as situps and "something called a plank." She can do more than 20 push-ups. She does the full push-ups, not the knee variation. She has a personal trainer. This personal trainer also now works with Justices Elena Kagan and Stephen G. Breyer, too. "He does his best to keep us all in shape," Ginsburg reports.

So. Whew. That's settled. She's good. She's good, right?

Still, "I have O-negative blood that she's welcome to at any time," offers Mikayla Thatcher, a lecturer at the University of Michigan. "I feel like this is getting a bit post-apocalyptic - no wait, that's not the right word. Dystopian. I feel like this is all getting a bit dystopian. But she's welcome to my O-negative blood at any time."

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