Alt-Right

Judgment


Reading time – 3:31  .  .  .

We all know that there are many people who refuse to wear a mask or social distance or wash their hands frequently. Each of them has his/her reasons, including  seeing these safety and health measures as government overreach, they don’t appreciate the danger, they’re angry about the intrusion on their liberty or they think it’s a hoax, a conspiracy. Here’s some clarity about those conspiracy believers.

From Anne Applebaum’s new book, Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism (read this book):

“The emotional appeal of a conspiracy theory is in its simplicity. It explains away complex phenomena, accounts for chance and accidents, offers the believer the satisfying sense of having special, privileged access to the truth.” (page 45)

I get that there is a sense of power and control in embracing conspiracy theories. So, I offer a “Well done!” to the cable blatherers, the talk radio babblers and the online conspiracy promoters for their excellent job of willfully stoking reality denial and hatred. Their work is powerful and it has an impact far beyond the TV and radio ratings and online Likes: it threatens all the rest of us.

We declare that we honor our front line troops, the nurses, doctors, techs, EMTs, ambulance drivers and the rest of the folks who are fighting this war against pandemic. We’ve seen the hospital scenes, watched the personal videos and get lumpy-throated in empathy for these people. We see that these heroes work absurd hours. They live with death all around, feeling they’ve failed, even as they are powerless to stop it. But I wonder if that honoring of these people is true for all of our mask refusers and deniers, especially the conspiracy types.

Click me for the story from The Onion.

It seems to me that the conspiracy embracers and the rest who refuse to do those 3 simple things to help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are more than a danger to those nearby. They hasten the spread of infection that horribly affects those same front line people by putting more sick people into their already over-maxed hospitals. It dumps more hard, overly-demanding work on top of already exhausted medical staff. It dishonors them in that way, even as over 1,000 of our front line medical people have died working to save others from this horrible disease.

That’s why I have some judgments about the conspiracy types and even for the rest of the people who knowingly refuse to do the 3 simple things that can help us all:

First, it’s clear that they put themselves and their individual rights above the rest of us.

Second, the harm they do makes circumstances far worse for people who have lost their jobs, whose kids can’t go to school, for our elderly trapped in nursing homes and for everyone who wants their life back. They push national recovery yet farther away into the future.

Third, it dishonors and penalizes the very people they themselves will meet when they show up at a hospital ER barely able to breathe, because our front line medical troops will nevertheless be standing by to serve them.

Click me for the full story.

In an insightful opinion piece in the New York Times last weekend entitled, “How To Actually Talk to Anti-Maskers” author Charlie Warzel makes the how-to of that conversation both clear and obvious. Even better, it has application for your conversations with any who are foolish enough to not agree with you.

It has to do with what Mom told you: be respectful, courteous and listen to others. And as you listen, just seek to understand how they feel and why they believe as they do – not preparing to tell them all the reasons they’re wrong. That’s because the instant you try to persuade them to your superior view, you’ll have nothing but confrontation. The only thing that changes that way is that each is even more entrenched in their bubble, certain that those who disagree are idiots. We remain polarized, perhaps even more so than before. Remember that each of us thinks we’re right and justified in the opinions we hold.

It can be most satisfying to be reactive – believe me, I know about this and sometimes I’m conscious and able to resist my knee-jerk behavior. When I fail,  I get a momentary rush from being “right.” Then not much good happens for anyone.

Finally

We have a very dangerous virus in America. It’s been in the newspapers, on TV and radio and clogging the webisphere since February. Because of that you already know that the U.S. has just 4% of the world’s population but it has spawned about 25% of its coronavirus infections and deaths. That’s happening right here in our first world, advanced medicine country even as we’re proud to be the leader of the free world.

Have you ever wondered how the rest of the world sees us, and specifically how we’re seen as we mishandle this pandemic? The New York Times brought the story of the virus in America to people around the world and video recorded their reactions. You need to see this.

When you go out, wear your mask and social distance. And wash your hands a lot. If you won’t do those things, please stay away from me. And everyone else.

Here’s a behavioral take on this from Paul Krugman.

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Pence


Reading time – 1:51  .  .  .
·
This is offered on the eve of our 3-millionth COVID-19 case, with over 130,000 Americans dead. Most of our dead would never have even become infected, much less have died, if we had bold leadership focused on our individual and collective welfare. (See the Dying for Leadership section of this post from June 21.)
·
Mike Pence is nominally leading our Coronavirus Task Force, the job of which is to say many things which have no connection to reality and are entirely misleading and unhelpful. It’s the administration’s pat on the back of our hand to keep us quiet as we die from this pandemic, gasping our last breaths from a ventilator hose in a hospital. Alone.
·
·
“Mike Pence will pray. He believes in the power of prayer not so much as a means to commune with Providence but rather to advance his political agenda. He believes prayer is a “cure” to homosexuality because he believes Gay Americans are less than. He Prays for no deaths in the
·
“same moment he knows the cause of death is now the policies of the Administration and the unforgivable negligence, idiocy, malfeasance and incompetence of Trump. Whatever it is, it has nothing to do with faith and everything to do with power and politics. Pence is a profoundly
“Cynical and insincere man. It is clear he has no regrets from his work with the Cigarette companies and their campaign to deny the health danger of smoking. He has risen on a tide of sanctimony and a talent for squinting with pious conviction in defense of the indefensible.
·
“Mike Pence will pray and America will suffer and die. This most obsequious of Trumps bootlickers and Vassals, Pence has shamed himself for four years defending all he once condemned. He is a political whore without equal. If only he loved his country a tenth as much as loved
·

“His position of power. [See point #4 of this post from June 28] He is Trumps faithful adjutant. The death, economic collapse, division, decline and chaos in our country are every bit as much his ignominious legacy as they are Trumps. @ProjectLincoln. No American should look at this contemptible man without scorn.

·

From The Onion, of course. Click the pic for the short satire.

“Prayer is not a strategy. Prayer is not an excuse. None of this had to be. It has come to be because of Trump/Pence. MAGA has turned to catastrophe. If there is to be prayer let it be that America be liberated from these miscreants and fools and that the rancid tide of division

·
“And racism they have stoked and nurtured begins to recede so the American nation can heal and recover. If Mike Pence is to pray let it to be ask Providence’s favor and forgiveness for the tragedy he has helped architect.”
·
End of Twitter Feed
·
Brothers and sisters, let me hear your AMEN! Sing it loud and clear on November 3.
·
Bonus question:

Who benefits from the human suffering and our national economic enfeebling caused by our bumbling pandemic response?

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The Full Explanation


Reading time – 4:15  .  .  .

I’ve been clubbing Republicans for a long time. Let me be fair to them and say, in all humility and from the heart, that every bit of it is deserved.

I’ve called them things like “invertebrates” and “jellyfish” specifically for refusing the call from the very values they claim to hold. Instead, they have consistently knuckled under to Trump and allowed his evil doings to ratchet our country downward. What I saw was simple cowardice. It turns out the explanation for their behavior is far more complex and nuanced than I had imagined.

Anne Applebaum’s remarkable essay History Will Judge the Complicit, is a stunning and thorough analysis of collaboration with the Trumpian assault on our country. It’s published in the July/August edition of The Atlantic under the title.The Collaborators.

Applebaum unmasks what is at work to influence otherwise principled people to relinquish their values and submit to the will of this hateful, self-serving president. Her work is long and detailed and draws on clear historical parallels – yes, this has happened before. If you have ever asked, “How could otherwise good people sell their souls to a tyrant?” I urge you to read her piece in its entirety for the answer.

Here’s a summary of the rationalizations Trump collaborators use.

1. We can use this moment to achieve great things. This is the rationalization used by the true believers. They ignore the abhorrent to achieve something they think is important, like seating conservative judges.

2. We can protect the country from the president. This is the rationalization of people like Gary Cohn, Trump’s first economic advisor, as well as Gen. John Kelly, Trump’s umpteenth chief of staff and by “Anonymous,” the author of the New York Times piece describing Trump’s erratic behavior, his inability to concentrate, his ignorance and more. Cohn and Kelly are gone from the administration now, so they have no influence and can no longer protect the country. Worse, they have yet to speak out and, “their silence now continues to serve the president’s purposes.”

3. I, personally, will benefit. Nobody says this out loud, but Trump’s Cabinet heads and their staffs are full of self-serving industry insiders, lobbyists and incompetent drones. Think: Sonny Perdue and his vigilantes of industry association lobbyists now regulating their own industries.

4. I must remain close to power. It’s the “intoxicating experience of power, and the belief that proximity to a powerful person bestows higher status.” Applebaum wrote, “A friend told me that each time he sees Lindsey Graham, ‘he brags about having just met with Trump’ while exhibiting ‘high school’ levels of excitement, as if ‘a popular quarterback has just bestowed some attention on a nerdy debate-club leader.'”

“The Russian language  .  .  .  has a word – prisposoblenets – that means ‘a person skilled in the act of compromise and adaptation, who intuitively understands what is expected of him and adjusts his beliefs and conduct accordingly.”

5. LOL nothing matters. “If there is no such thing as moral and immoral, then everyone is implicitly released from the need to obey any rules.

If the president doesn’t respect the Constitution, then why should I? If the president can cheat in elections, then why can’t I? If the president can sleep with porn stars, then why can’t I? .  .  .  Nothing means anything, rules don’t matter, and the president is the carnival king.”

6. My side is flawed, but the political opposition is much worse. It’s about portraying the opposition as an existential threat and is seen in the accusations against liberalism and cultural degradation that they claim Hillary Clinton would have brought. It’s the flood of rationalizations to get the judges that conservatives want and the Evangelicals to get the path to salvation they hallucinate is needed.

“If you are convinced we are living in the End Times [included in the list of these believers are Barr, Pompeo and Pence], then anything the president does can be forgiven.”

7. I am afraid to speak out. This, of course, is the spinelessness explanation. It is what led Republican lawmakers to mock and whine and rail at Democratic House leaders during the impeachment hearings and to refuse to judge Trump guilty of the nefarious, unconstitutional acts they knew he had committed. They had to be playground bad kids to satisfy the biggest playground bully. It’s the extreme of refusing to speak against the president’s wrongdoing, the wrongdoing that violates their stated principles;  it’s hypocrisy at the highest levels.

In speaking of our economic catastrophe and the death of over 125,000 Americans to a pandemic we could instead have fought well and thereby protected the thousands who didn’t have to die, Applebaum writes,

“This utter disaster was avoidable. If the Senate had removed the president by impeachment a month earlier; if the Cabinet had invoked the Twenty-Fifth Amendment as soon as Trump’s unfitness became clear; if the anonymous and off-the-record officials who knew of Trump’s incompetence had jointly warned the public; if they had not, instead, been so concerned about maintaining their proximity to power; if senators had not been scared of their donors; if Pence, Pompeo, and Barr had not believed that God had chosen them to play special roles in this ‘biblical moment’ – if any of these things had gone differently, then thousands of deaths and a historic economic collapse might have been avoided.

“The price of collaboration in America has already turned out to be extraordinarily high.”

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Fun With Numbers and The Trump CCC


Reading time – 3:56; Viewing time – 8:42  .  .  .

CAUTION: CONTAINS SNARK. Sensitive readers should close their eyes while reading this post. You’ve been warned.

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I have never heard a Democrat or Independent make an accusation of voter fraud. Criminal voter suppression, yes, but  not voter fraud. That leaves Republicans as the sole finger pointers at the ballot box.

They use words like “rampant” and “pervasive” and “un-American.” They profess to be patriotically opposed to mail-in voting, claiming it will be an invitation to massive voter fraud, but they never seem to be able to present evidence of significant voter wrongdoing to substantiate their assertions, whether through the mail or any other way to vote.

No worries. The very conservative Heritage Foundation has come to the rescue to bring this voter poison to democracy to light. You can download their 390 page report here.

They document state-by-state “proven instances of voter fraud” – those are their words, whatever “proven instances” means. The report is not date stamped, but in a cursory review I found that it provides a listing of “instances” that cover roughly the period of 1997 – 2013 and they claim that the number of these “proven instances” is 1,088. For the purpose of examination, let’s accept their numbers and look at what they mean.

First, their data might have covered 1996, too; it’s not clear. We’ll include 1996 for our analysis because that appears to be the basis for the case the Heritage Foundation attempts to make.

886,000,000 votes were cast in that period. Simple math tells us that the 1,088 “proven instances” of voter fraud sprinkled among 886,000,000 voters, means that the cases of voter fraud are just 1 in 814,338 votes cast. That’s 0.0001227%. More simply, it’s one ten-thousandth of a percent.

If we are to correctly understand Trump, the decades of flaming Republicans and the Heritage Foundation, they passionately believe that fraud at the rate of one in 814,338 votes cast constitutes “rampant” voter fraud. It is because of this “rampant” fraud that they are certain that they’re justified in their voter suppression programs in North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Wisconsin and elsewhere. They’re certain they have it right when they close most polling places in poor areas, remove voters from voter rolls for not returning a post card within 2 weeks and require voter ID that is difficult for many poor people to secure. Isn’t it just the oddest coincidence that nearly all of that goes on in poor and non-white areas?

If one in 814,338 incidents of claimed fraud qualifies for being labeled “pervasive” and “un-American” as they declare, we have to catch and punish that one guy in 814,338 who cheated. Lock him up, I say! And if we’re to have fraud-free elections we must suppress voters, too, because we can’t tolerate our basic democratic right being polluted at the rate of one in 814,338 votes.

For some clarity about protests, white privilege and Trumpian cluelessness, watch this. Thanks to JS for providing the link.

Besides, if fewer people vote (translation: no poor people or non-whites), Republicans can then win. We know that, because Trump just said that very thing. Paul Weyrich, co-founder of the Heritage Foundation, made that clear a long time ago and said that was why he didn’t want everyone to vote. So, for just a smidgen of integrity for just a moment, next Trump rally I want to hear those true believers chanting, “SUPPRESS THE VOTE! SUPPRESS THE VOTE!”

Republicans make their fatuous claims of voter fraud and they suppress the vote wherever they can. Theirs is a most perverse claim of protecting democracy, but one vote in 814,338 is enough for them to do their dishonest best to make sure aging, soon-to-be minority white guys stay in power.

More Fun With Numbers

Courtesy of KL, watch this video to get a perspective on the flyovers performed by the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds to honor our healthcare workers. They have flown over at least 29 cities so far. Apply that number to the math per Dr. Bill in the video to get an idea of the good we might have done instead to help people in more concrete ways.

Most of us love watching those guys and appreciate the honoring of our front line people, but after doing the math, check how you feel about those flyovers.

Trump’s CCC

The Republican National Convention was scheduled to be held in Charlotte, NC from August 24 – 27. I say “was” because it will not be held in Charlotte.

Donald Trump is desperate for the visual of thousands of MAGA hat wearing zealots thundering support and heaping praise upon his orange head. He detests the optics of N95 masks (did I mention that it’s all about the optics?) and needs a packed stadium of bare faces as a visual of the adoring, fervent love and support he knows he so rightly deserves. He won’t tolerate masks or social distancing. Bad optics. That’s why he told Roy Cooper, the Democratic governor of North Carolina, that he wants his packed stadium and he wants it his way. But that’s now a problem for Trump.

Call him crazy, but Cooper thinks it’s a medically bad idea to pack thousands of yelling, sweating, coughing, non-masked people shoulder-to-shoulder for hours, this in the face of the world’s worst pandemic right here in the world’s most highly infected country. It’s an “out there” notion, I know, but Crazy Roy Cooper is just that way, thinking that protecting his people is more important than another hate-fest Trump rally in North Carolina.

So, Trump and the RNC jellyfish are shopping for a new venue in another state. There’s lots of talk that Jacksonville, FL is the likely site for Trump’s infection rites. Makes sense. There’s a compliant Republican governor there – Ron DeSantis – and Florida is a swing state with a lot of electoral college votes. Besides, they still haven’t taken the coronavirus seriously in Florida.

1. Yes, Hizzoner did say that following the violent Chicago Police riot in Grant Park. 2. This is included for all those who can’t tolerate a little disruption in times of change and who are willing and even eager to suppress others in order to tamp down their discomfort and regain their fragile sense of being in control. See Sen. Tom Cotton’s op-ed for an example.

Recall that this is the state whose governor welcomed thousands of spring breakers as the body counts of the pandemic dead were mounting at the rate of 2,000 per day. Florida pretty much never “shut down” and was among the first to “reopen” and enable full coronavirus transfer. Pandemic, schmandemic. Who cares?

So, let’s pack Jacksonville’s TIAA Bank Field with thousands of sweating, yelling, sneezing, non-masked MAGA hat wearing Truckers for Trump, The WWWDCABG For Trump (White Women Who Don’t Care About Being Groped), White Supremacists for Trump, The IHOSIHB for Trump (I Hated Obama, So I Hate Biden) and, of course, TOTBG for Trump (The Only Two Black Guys). Let them thunderously chant to lock up Hillary and Biden. Let them pump muscled, Confederate flag tattooed arms as they chant their demand to, “PAR-DUN FLYNN! PAR-DUN FLYNN!” O’ the rush of it all!

So, let the spittle fly and the sneeze and cough mist spew unrestrained in the sublime reverie of the cult. Right there in Jacksonville at Donald Trump’s Coronavirus Contagion Convention (The CCC).

Many thanks to Donald Trump for making massive infection possible through his complete abdication of his responsibility as President.

Last thought about this: If we were to go full Machiavellian, we might say that a massive MAGA rally is a most effective way to suppress the Republican vote. That oughta battle that “rampant” voter fraud they whine about constantly.

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

What Have We Done?


Reading time – 5:29; Viewing time – 9:32  .  .  .

[Ed. note: Be sure to read the “Finally” section at the bottom, which was added after the video was recorded.]

It’s the Economy, Stupid

The White House announced (love that phrase – as though a building could talk) that it won’t update economic projections this summer. Think about that for just a minute.

Trump and his economic geniuses have proclaimed proudly and often that our economy would be chugging along at over 3% annual growth rate, what with Trump having ridiculed President Obama for his 2-something rate following our total economic collapse of 2008-2009. Now we’re in a [soon to be officially declared] depression, which is not compatible with Trump’s puffery. He can’t brag as the economy contracts 5.6%. So, to combat the impossibility of such bragging, the president will go on a Trump victory offensive: he’ll just refuse to talk about it. Forget that the President’s review of the economy is required by law. This is the Trump administration and he don’ care ’bout no stinking law. And who would hold him accountable anyway? That’s a problem.

7 Days of Trumpcrap

Trump’s standard playbook is to constantly throw crap at the wall and see what sticks as a distraction. He does this both to keep everyone else off balance so that he feels in control and to make you look away from his obvious failures. Most common are character assassinations, eye-googling innuendo, baseless accusations, outrageous policy shifts, stupid proclamations, repetitions of phrases as though he’s not sure he said them, and of course, general air head stuff with no apparent meaning. He never backs down from anything he says, no matter the idiocy he’s initiated or how harmful it is to others.

Here are some of the Trumpcrap distractions from just the past 7 days.

  1. Trump baselessly accused Joe Scarborough of having murdered a Congressional aide in 2001 at a time when Scarborough was 900 miles away from the aide. The aide was known to have had a serious medical problem and she fell, hit her head and died. That is in the coroner’s report. However, that did not prevent Trump from trying to smear a tough Trump critic with odious Trumpcrap lies and the media focused on that for days.
  2. Trump didn’t like that Twitter appended to his Scarborough smear several links to fact checks. He immediately threatened an Executive Order to attack Twitter, Google and FaceBook and released the EO on Thursday. He wants to regulate speech on the internet so that it’s to his advantage, an obvious violation of the First Amendment. For this president, violating the Constitution is commonplace. Doing so always manages to attract major attention and redirects eyeballs from his ineptitude and criminal behavior.
  3. Trump has commenced a full-mouth-press against mail-in ballots. He makes the same false claims that Republicans have been spewing for at least two decades, whining that our elections are rife with voting fraud. It does happen – about once in every 125,000 votes cast. See my upcoming post on Wednesday, June 3 for more on that. He claims that allowing voting by mail will exacerbate this non-existent problem. That Trump himself votes by mail doesn’t seem to him to be evidence against his claim, nor do the years of clean experience of mail-in voting in many states make a dent in his baseless accusations. But the Trumpcrap does distract.
  4. Trump called for an expansion of his useless border wall – he wants another 500 miles of it. You do the guessing about which Congressionally mandated programs will get cut to pay for his ego project.
  5. He reiterated his total ban on immigration, or at least his blatherings about it. He has been consistent in his disdain for non-white people who want to come to America, including those from “shit hole countries” and Muslims from anywhere. That’s always good for shifting eyeballs away from his failures and crimes.
  6. In the aftermath of the brutal murder of fellow citizen George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer and that officer’s indictment on 3rd degree murder charges on Friday, the president held a press conference. He spoke from a Tel-e-Prompter about the China/Hong Kong situation. He had no comment whatsoever for the family of the murder victim, the aggrieved citizens of Minneapolis or the nation, for the police, the mayor, the National Guard or the Staties who arrived to help. Nothing for any of them. And he took no questions from the press. Just another distraction, a blow off of Blacks and perhaps a concession to the “good people on both sides.”
  7. From “Stat”: “President Trump said Friday the U.S. would halt its funding of the World Health Organization and pull out of the agency, accusing it of protecting China as the coronavirus pandemic took off. The move has alarmed health experts, who say the decision will undermine efforts to improve the health of people around the world.” And that Trump idiocy has citizens distracted by yet another bright, shiny object of Trumpcrap.
  8. Trump issued a vague invitation to AR-15/Glock carrying “MAGA nation” to protest the protests across the nation over the murder of George Floyd. When these thugs show up, what could possibly go wrong?

All that and more in just 7 days.

This pile of Trumpcrap certainly does distract us from keeping an eye on the over 102,000 U.S. COVID-19 deaths and that over 30,000 of them were caused by Trump’s bumbling. It takes a big pile of Trumpcrap to cover that many corpses.

All of this is a huge problem that can be distilled by answering the question,

What Have We Done?

Donald Trump is the problem, for sure, but it isn’t just Trump.

Yet another unarmed black man has been murdered by police, this time in Minneapolis (again). The old semi-joke was about the crime of driving while black. That seems to have devolved, what with Breonna Taylor having been gunned down by police while she was asleep in her bed and Floyd having succumbed to a cop’s knee on his neck for 9 minutes. Now it seems the crime has shifted to breathing while black. Nationwide, we consistently refuse to do anything to make things better, so this story continues to repeat itself. That’s the driver of the protests in nearly every major city.  And some wonder why people riot.

We have allowed Donald Trump to break laws and we have not only let him get away with them, but we have allowed a corrupt attorney general to make outrageous claims of power for the president, to lie repeatedly to protect Trump and to use the power of the Justice Department to undermine justice in order to favor Trump’s felonious friends. Compare that to the justice for George Floyd and Eric Garner and Freddie Gray and Trayvon Martin and the rest. Cops killed 1,099 people last year; 24% of them were Black, even though Blacks make up only 13% of our population. Still wondering why some people riot?

What have we done?

We have decided that Black lives really don’t matter.

We have normalized Trump’s petulant tweeting and treated his rages as official presidential communication – even as policy proclamation.

We have tens of thousands of Americans so upset over having to stay home for a couple of months that last weekend they just had to race to a pool, a beach, a bar, a resort town and restaurants, leaving their face masks at home. Clearly, these weren’t destitute people who were desperate to get back to work to earn a paycheck so they could feed their families; these were people who had money to spend and who were aggrieved over having to endure a period of home confinement, what with their having had to order out pizza and play video games. Where did the American backbone go? Oh, right. Our leadership encouraged us to behave stupidly.

We have a government that is the very embodiment of George Orwell’s nightmare, where lie equals truth, up is the same as down and manipulation to benefit the few is taken for granted.

Big money interests have taken control of our governments (federal, state and some local) to the point that they can buy massive voter suppression and laws to their liking.

Roughly 40% of our country thinks Trump is just fine and they don’t at all mind his racism, his admitted violence against women, his law breaking, his abandoning of our poor, his cruelty toward anyone who isn’t a suck up, his having made us the laughing stock of the free world and his continuing demolition of our own democracy. It’s blind obedience leading us to self-destruction.

We did all of this, you and I and all the rest of us, either through ignorance or apathy or self-indulgence. Now we are paying the price in huge numbers of avoidable deaths, massive wealth inequality, such that millions more live on an economic precipice and we no longer trust ourselves to govern ourselves.

What have we done?

We better get to work to fix this stuff before it’s too late.

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Finally,

In that vein – we have to fix this stuff – try this thought experiment.

If the vast majority of protesters in our cities are peaceful as they vent their fear, their sadness and their rage, and if “outsiders” are burning down buildings, inciting looting and violence and inviting police crackdowns, who are those “outsiders?” To identify them, consider who benefits from their violence. Who benefits from inciting police and military action against civilians? Who benefits by being able to claim the need for crack downs? Who benefits by having an excuse to demonize Blacks?

There’s nothing random going on.

From reader and opinion writer Steve Sheffey:

If you don’t channel your anger into political action, if you don’t understand the nexus between rhetoric and reality, between politics and policy, then you are part of the problem, not the solution.

——————————

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The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Update to Consequences


Update to Sunday’s Consequences post:

From author John Scalzio in an interview for the New York Times Book section, May 17, 2020:

“Maybe people might look at me askance for “Atlas Shrugged” [being on my bookshelf], since I’ve written about how Ayn Rand valorizes a genocidal sociopath in John Galt, and I think it’s a really bad sign when ostensible adults take her “philosophy” seriously (and even worse when they’re elected to office). But I’ll tell you what, Rand could make a pot boil; there’s a reason her brand of nonsense sells.”

Even John Wayne was a fictional construct and he wasn’t as tough as the movies made him seem. When he was no longer young, strong and healthy he succumbed to disease. Lucky for him that he was rich, so he got great healthcare along the way. For the rest of us Ayn Rand’s “we’re all on our own” craziness really doesn’t work well. Few of us can tolerate being prevented from getting basic needs met just because we’re not young, strong and healthy. There has to be a better way.

Here’s how our present system is working, this from the Economic Policy Institute:

With the jobless tally rising quickly by the millions, as businesses struggle to keep people employed during the pandemic, the absurdity of having our health care linked to jobs becomes painfully clear.

EPI research determined 16.2 million Americans have likely lost their health care due to pandemic job losses. Linking health insurance to employment has always been problematic. The pandemic is highlighting and exacerbating those issues. Medicare for All, while a hugely ambitious policy undertaking, could be one way to remedy this situation.

Watch their 2-minute explanation of how Medicare For All would affect jobs. It isn’t what the naysayers tell us.

Apologies, but I don’t remember who posted this. Nevertheless, good on them!

This pandemic has made it abundantly clear that our highest-cost-in-the-world medical system isn’t providing the best care for most of us. And the layoffs/furloughs/firings/loss of employment caused both directly and indirectly by this disease have illustrated the folly of healthcare tied to employers and employment.

Perhaps you’re high on Maslow’s heirarchy and you’re asking the question, “What is it that we are supposed to learn from this pandemic, the lesson that we have steadfastly refused to learn any other way?” Here’s the answer:

It’s all about how we care for and care about one another.

It’s plain that this is no time for “rugged individualist” thinking to prevail. Embrace the “together” part of “We’re all in this together,” because if we refuse that, all of us are condemned to suffering that doesn’t have to happen, as though we plugged our ears when the answer to the question was given to us.

You don’t know it yet, but you want to read “9 ways Covid-19 may forever upend the U.S. healthcare industry.” The intense pressure that’s been brought to bear on every part of our healthcare system by this pandemic, including how we pay for it, is going to change everything about it. Let me know what you think.

——————————-

 

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

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The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Rights


Reading time – 4:11; Viewing time – 6:20  .  .  .

There are small mobs clogging our streets, attacking our state capitol buildings and protesting inside those buildings with menacing assault rifles in their hands. They are carrying Confederate flags and Nazi flags and they’re egged on by the President of the United States. They are yelling and frothing and spitting – no face masks. They are demanding their rights, dammit. What’s theirs is theirs. No stinking governor or healthcare professional can tell them what to do.

Others are protesting less pugnaciously, like the Cleveland barbershop owner who’s shop is in financial peril, who needs to provide for his family and wants his workers to have paying jobs so they can care for themselves and their families, too. He has a right to earn a living, he tells us. And he, like the violence threatening protesters, is willing to risk contracting coronavirus in pursuit of financial stability and personal independence. It’s impossible to argue with the barber’s motivation or his willingness to take that risk. Except for one thing, which I hereby offer first to the swaggering, gun-carrying protesters, and then to all self-quarantine protesters.

The right to own firearms has been expanded greatly from its original intent, greased by the lubrication of the NRA’s millions of lobbying and campaign contribution dollars. What is true concurrently with Second Amendment rights is that while you may have the right to bear arms, I have a right to not get shot by your guns, whether they’re concealed or menacingly brandished. Your right stops at the tip of my nose. And, silly me, I think my right to safety and staying alive supersedes your right to own killing machines.

It works the same way in dealing with this worldwide pandemic. Your right to get out and protest – even with your AR-15 in your hands – or open your barbershop or any other shop seems clear, and your willingness to risk illness and even death in pursuit of whatever it is you’re pursuing is your decision to make. Where your right stops is at that same tip of my nose: I have a right to not be infected by you and that supersedes your right to ignore the dire health warnings that are all around. I have a right to not get sick and die of the coronavirus that you contracted during your protests and that you could pass along to me. It doesn’t matter whether you took that risk of illness solely because of your financial needs or because you were having yet another temper tantrum against authority. Either way, you’re unfairly putting me at risk.

I feel for that barbershop owner. But while he may clear-headedly embrace the risk of contracting coronavirus by opening his shop too soon so that he can feed his children, when he’s in an ICU with a breathing tube down his throat and then dies, exactly who is going to feed his kids?

I’d rather not have to admit that I don’t feel for the gun toting protesters, but there it is. Right now I can’t find room in my heart for those who threaten others so they can feel powerful for a few moments.

My heart instead is focused on the front line troops, the doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and EMTs and the people who clean and disinfect our hospitals and clinics so that they’re ready to care for us, as well as the restaurant workers bringing your takeout to the curb for you, the delivery people and grocery store staffs who bravely show up and work so that we can get the things we need. All of them are risking their lives for the rest of us, risking even for the angry, gun-toting protesters who at last show up at our hospitals with coronavirus drowning their lungs. That’s why all those front line troops are in my heart. And the people who are suffering financial deprivations due to this pandemic, like that barbershop owner, are in my heart, as well. That doesn’t leave much room for the threatening AR-15 mobs.

For both groups of protesters my message is simple: There are hundreds of millions of Americans who don’t want to be infected by you or by others whom you infect and who unknowingly pass it along. Those who have survived the disease don’t want to learn that you’re setting it up for others to suffer the way they suffered. And if the dead could talk, they’d say, “Your selfishness is going to kill my family and my friends.”

So, grow up. This is not all about you. And you don’t get to wave the red, white and blue until you learn to behave as a patriot.

The Greatest Generation suffered rationing, 405,000 deaths, about 8 times that number of injuries and far more deprivations. All we’re being asked to do is to stay home for a while. Have we become so soft that we can’t do even that? Have we become so self-centered that we can’t sacrifice for others? If the answer to those questions is “yes,” then it’s long past time to drop the self-congratulatory platitudes and our certainties about exceptionalism and do a national gut check and recommit.

————————

Follow up report

In a recent post, Potpourri v11.0 – The “How Can We Be This Stupid?” Edition, a reader lamented that a lot of the money from the Payroll Protection Program intended for small business operators had instead gone to large corporations. Turns out he was right and The Washington Post reported on that.

The money from the Payroll Protection Program was supposed to provide money to small businesses to enable them to retain their employees, to pay them, even as our economy is “shut down” due to this pandemic. Instead, more than $1 billion went to large public companies. The result: “After the first pool of [money] ran dry, [that left] more than 80 percent of applicants without funding,” WaPo reported. This happened even as the CEOs of some of the large companies that received money from the Program are being paid millions of dollars.

It’s truly astonishing that in a time of national crisis the greed machine of the already wealthy keeps spinning along. Download a PDF of the WaPo article here, or read it online here.

——————————-

Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
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Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections. Refreshing when someone wants to get the facts right, eh?
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA

 


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Mom


Reading time – 4:12; Viewing time – 6:53  .  .  .

My mother was a teen during the Great Depression and came of age during WW II. She was from that generation. Tom Brokaw dubbed it The Greatest Generation and the label stuck, this for obvious reasons.

This was a generation without a sense of entitlement, who followed the rules and simply did what needed to be done, regardless of the risks and hardships. And one of the things that needed to be done was to stop Adolph Hitler from brutalizing  and enslaving the entire world.

From the late 1940s through early 60s the world repeatedly came face-to-face with the indescribable evil of the Holocaust, as Nazis were found and prosecuted. Most notorious was Adolph Eichmann, the architect of the Nazis’ “final solution.” The death camps were factories of his design, created to manipulate prisoners so the Nazis’ mechanized murdering would be efficient. Efficiency was a proud trait of the Germans, so they put a sign at the entrance to Auschwitz, the murder center in Poland where 1.1 million people were gassed and cremated. That sign still stands and you can see it in the picture on the left.

The words translate roughly to “Work makes you free,” suggesting an entirely false and cruel promise for the future, if prisoners would work hard. Both the manipulation and the death were complete.

I recall with frightening clarity a conversation I had with my parents when I was an idealistic teen about those death camp horrors. I was raised in red, white and blue America, land of the free and home of the brave, so I said of the Holocaust, “It’s so good that that could never happen here.”

My mother gave a start and said (and this is word for word), “Oh yes it could. You better watch out.”

I had no idea how she could have said that. I mean this was the country of people wearing the white hats, who are forever the good guys. This is the country that fought and bled and died to kill that hate monster. This is the country of my dad, who, like millions of others, risked his life over and over so we would be free.

Yet now we have a president who proudly tells us that there were good people on both sides in Charlottesville, one side of which was composed of white supremacist Nazis. We have a never ending parade of angry citizens carrying assault rifles to intimidate our people over any and every imagined grievance. And we have protesters who want our entire economy “opened up,” regardless of the mortal consequences to tens of millions of us.

If she’s protesting the lockdown, why is she wearing a protective face mask? Where is the courage of her convictions?

They’re carrying Nazi flags and declaring how aggrieved they are, this to justify their demands and their hate. The president continues to tell us what good people they are, these swastika brandishing thugs. And not even a single Republican in Congress has the courage or decency to stand up and declare the obvious evil and hate these people are spewing.

There was an “anti-lockdown” protest in Chicago last weekend. It was clearly a temper tantrum aimed at those in government and the dedicated scientists who are working to keep us safe from coronavirus. One woman at that rally carried the sign you see to the right displaying the very words of the sign at the entrance to Auschwitz. Her bottomlessly sad and incongruous companion piece is that her coronavirus face mask is a U.S. flag.

Another Chicago lockdown protester with her hate on display.

The “JB” on that woman’s sign refers to J.B. Pritzker, Governor of Illinois. He’s Jewish. I’m thinking that her true message, as for that of the woman in the picture to the left who was at that same protest, has nothing to do with the lockdown and has everything to do with their hatred.

That first woman was asked about her sign and she invoked the “Some of my friends are Jewish” defense, as though that would fully relieve her of responsibility for the vileness of her bigotry. It doesn’t. In fact, that claim is proof positive of her hatred, as she carries a replica of the evil, hateful sign at the entrance to Auschwitz. And the President tells us she’s one of the “good people.”

Don’t lull yourself into passivity, thinking these are just fools carrying signs. It’s what is in their hearts that matters and we can be confident that they, along with the self-important militias all around the country and the online hate spewers and the Nazi wannabees in their brown shirt costumes and the people who assaulted the Michigan State Capitol building with weapons of war strapped to them as they shouted their hate – all of them long for a totalitarian state aligned with their bigotry.

That’s the way genocide starts – every time, everywhere. In other words, we have the seeds of a holocaust right here in America right now.

It turns out that Mom was right. And I’m following her clear direction: I’m watching out.

———————-

Finally,

New projections are in, as two events are happening simultaneously.

The first is that the number of deaths from coronavirus are heading sharply upward. The experts (epidemiologists, not blathering, know-nothing politicians, economists or law professors) tell us that by June 1 over 3,000 Americans will die every day from this disease (a daily 9/11; a Vietnam every 2 months)) and there may eventually be hundreds of thousands of us dead, all things being equal. But all things aren’t equal, because at the same time as death counts are skyrocketing, the second event is happening.

At the direction of the President, states are incrementally “opening up,” meaning that more people are being allowed to open their businesses. Employees are going back to work and generally lots of us will be exposed to far more people, some of whom are undoubtedly asymptomatic carriers of coronavirus who will unknowingly infect many others. Maybe you.

So, while there is still a moment, I say au revoir to those who are in the coronavirus death bulls eye. Perhaps we knew one another – ’twas great; perhaps we didn’t. What’s for sure is that now we know that we won’t ever meet. One of us will have disappeared permanently. Maybe both of us.

And a large percentage of those who will die long before their time was due will depart thanks to politicians deciding that money and their elections are more important than your life. Too bad for you. And me.

Program note: Look for an explanation on Sunday, May 10 for why we don’t do the testing that is mandatory in order to beat this disease.

——————————-

Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Absolute Power


Reading time – 4:36  .  .  .

It’s plain to see that the President of the United States is, at best, severely dragging feet to deal with our national health emergency. He was warned repeatedly (over a dozen times) in his President’s Daily Briefs as far back as January that this pandemic would happen. The CDC had reports from China and their own on-the-ground evidence of the imminent danger and they issued warnings as early as November of the catastrophe that was headed our way.

We have known all along that continuing, extensive testing was and would be mandatory to minimize suffering and death, yet Trump has done everything possible to avoid our having the capacity to do what is needed to protect us.

Trump has invoked the Defense Protection Act, but hasn’t taken any of the actions it enables except for forcing meat producers to continue operations. That means that our formidable manufacturing capabilities remain idle or focused elsewhere. Why would Trump choose all this and so much more counterproductive behavior? Here’s what I see.

1. Trump never shoulders responsibility, never admits mistakes, never acknowledges errors and always prefers a fatuous lie over simple truth. In a larger context, this sets up Trump to blame anyone and everyone else when things go bad.

In refusing to mobilize a massive national testing program and deflecting all responsibility to state governors, he allows himself to blame excess death on those same governors. And he helps to diminish governors in the eyes of the public by having the federal government snatch up PPE. That makes PPE unavailable to many states and their hospitals and doctors. That makes governors appear to be unsuccessful and they go to the bulls eye of Trump’s blame target.

If you want more power for yourself, undermine others who have power.

2. Trump has consistently removed the most qualified and effective people from positions of power, having fired most experts, and replaced them with Trump sycophants. A recent example is the removal of Dr. Rick Bright from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. Removing the smartest, most capable people is a very effective way to ensure sub-optimal results, but that’s not Trump’s concern. He’s after something much bigger and more personal to him.

His next step was to place Brian Harrison in the position of senior lead on the Health and Human Services (HHS) coronavirus task force. Harrison is an expert in his field. The problem for us is that his field is breeding Labradoodle dogs. Harrison replaced Peter Urbanowicz, who had decades of experience of healthcare leadership.

If you want more power for yourself, get rid of all expertise.

3. Trump has consistently demeaned allies who lead democratic nations, like Trudeau, Merkel and Macron and has consistently praised murderous, tyrannical dictators, like Putin, Xi, Duerte, Erdoğan and Kim. He’s told us repeatedly how beautiful it would be if he had absolute authority and has even claimed it for himself.

If you want more power for yourself, attack everything democratic and align yourself with autocrats.

4. Trump began his campaign to be president with racial and nationalist slurs and foreign policy lies. He repeatedly attempted a Muslim ban, in violation of the First Amendment. He has cruelly treated asylum seekers, separating children from their parents, such that we are now housing over 1,500 children in cages, kids for whom we have no method to reunite them with their now-deported parents.

He spent years taking counsel from Steve Bannon, who unequivocally promotes that we “tear it all down,” meaning our institutions that make for a solid society and a stable nation. It appears that Trump learned well.

He has demolished the guardrails of our democracy everywhere and has used his constant Twitter feed to intimidate those with the power to stop him. And he has made a mockery of our most cherished values and institutions.

If you want more power for yourself, tear down everything else.

5. This pandemic is not just a national emergency, but a worldwide emergency. Paraphrasing Rohm Emanual, autocrats never let a pandemic go to waste, and Trump certainly isn’t wasting this one. Envision this.

With the world in crisis and our country medically, economically and militarily hobbled, grabbing extra executive powers to deal with the crisis may play well with millions of Red state, MAGA hat wearing Americans. Anyone in charge who had megalomaniac tendencies would do exactly that. This is a moment made for someone who thinks he should be President for life, an idea he has suggested more than once.

He would declare a national emergency. Checked that box. Stronger still would be to wait for the next domestic attack, like a white supremacist attacking a temple or mosque or church, or a deranged, angry loser gunning down children in school, or a sicko in a hotel window murdering concert goers. That’s all going to happen again, and in the midst of this coronavirus pandemic, that will be the opportunity to declare martial law. He’ll claim it’s for the protection of the American people, but that won’t be true. What will be true is that our democracy will officially be gone.

If you want absolute power for yourself, use a crisis to grab all of it.

Does all that sound unbelievable? If so, you better have another look at the obvious tracks on our national path. The place to look further is George Packer’s remarkable essay in The Atlantic, “How to Destroy a Government.” It is a frightful and accurate narrative of what has happened and is continuing to happen to our country and is a must-read.

And read Sheila Markin’s post to see what President Nero is doing. It’s all about aggregating power for himself. The question for us is whether we are and will be ready to do whatever it takes so that our democracy endures.

——————————-

Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections. Refreshing when someone wants to get the facts right, eh?
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Potpourri v11.0 – The “How Can We Be This Stupid?” Edition


Reading time – 3:41  .  .  .

Dr. Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, has been kicked out of his post. Reports STAT, “Bright’s career has largely centered around vaccine and drug development. His work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention focused on influenza viruses, antiviral drugs and tests.” Sounds like the kind of guy we need right now.

But reports are that Dr. Bright and Bob Kadlec, the current HHS assistant secretary for – get this – preparedness and response had a little conflict. In fact, Bright foolishly pointed out the homicidal stupidity of recommending hydroxychloroquine to treat patients with COVID-19. That’s the drug prescribed by Dr. Trump and recommended by the prime time Fox News clueless hysterions and which hasn’t been shown to be effective against this virus but has been shown to kill patients.

Let’s see: A doctor, an expert scientist in his field, had the temerity to say something truthful and important that Trump didn’t like. Rather than listening to this guy who actually knows something, Trump and his know-nothings instead did what they always do. They always purge the best people – in this case, a really Bright one, in both senses of the word – and replace them with Trump hacks, like the know-nothing former Labradoodle breeder who is now the senior lead on the Health and Human Services (HHS) coronavirus task force. In this hour of our desperate need, what could possibly go wrong?

This sounds like a conspiracy to ensure things really do go wrong. Truly stupid.


No matter what the President says, DON’T drink me.

A reader wrote to me,

I’m reading about the latest bill passed to send $ to “SMALL” businesses. Every article mentions that the prior bill ran out of money in 3 weeks because the majority of money was sent to “LARGE” corporations. So, my question is: why is there no one in public office demanding that the government require the large corporations to return the $ so that it can be redirected to the smaller businesses, which were the intended recipients of the $ in the first place? What am I missing here?

If those large businesses fell within the program guidelines (guidelines that were created to support small businesses), then where was the oversight among all those professionals when the guidelines were created? Surely, someone should have been charged with assuring the money would go to the right companies. Seems like a slam dunk job to me.

Dear Reader,

And DON’T inhale me. No, really.

Thanks for your comments. I have no satisfactory answers. Nevertheless, I offer this:

  1. I have not heard of anyone in a position to do anything about it say a word suggesting a give-back.
  2. To the best of my knowledge, those larger businesses fell within the guidelines of the federal program – even the hedge fund operators who sucked cash from the trough. It’s crazy that these folks who clearly don’t need help could do that legally. Where, indeed, was the oversight?
  3. The larger companies commonly have a strong relationship with their bankers and they have the in-house professional expertise to apply for money from the program. Not so much for the mom and pop shops or small manufacturers. That effectively aced a lot of them out of the program.
  4. The whole thing was chaos, because the program was suddenly dumped on banks with very little in the way of direction to process these loans. Like so much during the Trump era, it was ready, fire, aim, only this time it was Congress that did it. They were in such a hurry to get money to businesses that they failed to be more clear in the process to ensure they’d help the little guys and not the hedge fund managers.

Gotta give Congress credit for earnestly wanting to help small businesses. But there was something stupid about the guardrails for the program. Do you suppose that’s fixed in the next tranche of funding?


In this time of crisis, we need the President standing a post on that wall. Instead he’s playing a constant game of Top That Lie.

On Thursday of last week Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested, ”  .  .  .  that states hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak should be allowed to seek bankruptcy protections rather than be given a federal bailout.” This was specifically aimed at diminishing Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and pension obligations of the states. From reader John Anderson ([email protected]):

Today Mitch McConnell suddenly got concerned about government spending.

He was not concerned after the so called tax cut bill.

He was not concerned after the recent stimulus bill.

He was not concerned when the Senate passed another stimulus bill yesterday.

Today, he WAS concerned. He talked about the need to cut spending. For him that means cutting Social Security and Medicare. Not cutting Defense Spending. He’s said that before. Only a partial scare there.

Now the SCARY part.

He suggested that maybe, just maybe, states should be allowed to declare bankruptcy. He didn’t suggest that states could default on bonds. For him, bankruptcy of the states means they would reduce or completely default on the pensions for all people who earned those pensions – millions of police, fire, state parks employees, road crews, teachers, librarians, city employees and all others drawing state or local funds. If you’re one of those people who had to forego pay increases for the promise of future income (a pension) and who kicked in their own money to the fund, THIS IS SCARY.

I mentioned this a few years ago when Illinois attempted to change the pension terms. The Illinois Retired Teachers Association sued (Quinn v. Hearon) and won in a unanimous decision. When I wrote about this, some responses to my article were hostile, but consider this.

After WWII, Stalin took care of the USSR’s war debt by declaring that the USSR was going to write those war bonds off and thanked the Soviet citizens for their contributions. That’s essentially what McConnell wants to do to those on Social Security and Medicare and clearly thinks that the states should declare bankruptcy and default on the pension obligations to their former employees.

Responding to John, per IllinoisPolicy.org, “In fiscal year 2019, state estimates of Illinois’ total unfunded pension liability rose to $137 billion.” That’s just for the state pensions and doesn’t include city or county obligations; furthermore, the state is broke. And dealing with coronavirus is digging an even deeper hole.

Of course, this is all the result of kicking the can down the road for many decades – generations, really – refusing to fund the liability and stealing from the fund when desired. This is equal opportunity stupidity, proudly done by both Republicans and Democrats and Illinois isn’t the only state where this is happening.

Nevertheless, this bankruptcy thing is stupid on a world class level. Congratulations are due to Mitch McConnell for cavalierly flipping off 50 states and their present and former employees. On the other hand, he’s inadvertently helping to turn red states blue.


© Joshua A. Bickel/The Columbus Dispatch, via Associated Press. Protesters gathered at the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio.

Finally, we have to pay homage to the many rugged individualist Americans who, with AR-15s and testosterone proudly on display, proclaim we mustn’t tread on them. They bellow in thunderous voices that we can’t tell them what to do, as they ascend the steps of our state capitols to loudly proclaim their demands.

They’re insisting on an end to our punishing stay-at-home orders and that we “open up” our economy and let them get back to work to earn their pay and re-assert control of their lives. Let us all raise a vinyl-gloved fist in solidarity with these true descendants of the original Revolution, as they wave their Nazi and Confederate flags on the sidewalk.

There is a powerful message in their behavior, as they make a mosh pit of protest, absent masks and gloves. The message is their nomination of themselves for the 2020 Darwin Awards.

These awards are given annually to people who have helped the most to improve our gene pool by removing themselves from it. And surely many of these angry protesters will fall in the Battle of the Daft, having been infected by contagious fellow protesters. Sadly, we soon won’t be able to identify these COVID-19 volunteers from others, because once a ventilator tube goes down a throat and a plastic mask covers a face, everyone looks pretty much the same.

How can we be this stupid?

——————————-

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Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections. Refreshing when someone wants to get the facts right, eh?
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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