Manipulation

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.

Nagging COVID Questions


Reading time – 3:21  .  .  .

On The Hunt

It makes good sense not to put all our eggs into one basket in pursuit of a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19. That’s why we have Operation Warp Speed, wherein we are stimulating the development of vaccines along several different avenues to find one that works and to do it as quickly as possible.

We just awarded $1.6 billion to Novavax to develop enough doses of a vaccine to treat 50 million Americans (2 doses each) by early 2021. If they can do that it will be quite an accomplishment, because the world record for vaccine development for a new virus is 5 years.

In addition, “.  .  .  an international group, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, awarded up to $388 million to Novavax in May to make its coronavirus vaccine available globally.” In addition, “In June, Novavax secured a $60 million contract from the Defense Department to guarantee the delivery of 10 million doses to vaccinate American troops for the coronavirus.”

That’s a lot of money to give to a company that has never brought a product all the way to market. Why would we do that?

The Trump Administration is doing its best to prevent transparency of where our taxpayer money goes in pursuit of a vaccine. What we know is that we have sent $4 billion to a total of 6 companies to produce a vaccine and we haven’t a clue how those companies were chosen, whether they have a track record suggesting they might succeed, if there are penalties for failing to produce a vaccine or where the money is coming from – i.e. which existing programs will become underfunded in order to pay these companies to develop safe and effective vaccines five times faster than such a thing has ever been done.

Because of Trump’s secrecy we also don’t know whether there has been favoritism or any other shady behavior involved in these significant public financial awards to private companies. This may all be on the up-and-up; maybe not. But the secrecy may well become damaging to our future health and the sleight of hand would be a scandal in any other administration. Today, it’s just another day at the White House.

Oh, and by the way, vaccines are only valuable to us if We the People take them, and there is considerable resistance to doing so. Only half of us say we’ll get the vaccine when it’s available; 30% are unsure what they’ll do; and 20% of us will refuse a COVID-19 vaccine. How will we deal with that in the absence of strong scientific, medical, social and moral national leadership?

Our Government and Your Health

The mission statement of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) begins this way:

The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for protecting the public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices;

Sounds great. We want them to ensure the safety and efficacy of the medicines we put in our bodies. That’s why they did the slow work to make sure that if you contract malaria that hydroxychloroquine will be both effective against the disease and safe for you to use.

They didn’t do all the same work looking into that drug when used to treat COVID-19. But they did review its use in VA hospitals and found that it was useless against the coronavirus and an all too likely side effect of that malaria drug used against the coronavirus was death.

Now a Henry Ford study is claiming that the FDA review was flawed and – surprise! – Donald Trump is using that claim to once again promote hydroxychloroquine as a preventative and a treatment for COVID-19.

In the absence of a standard FDA approval based on its guidelines and procedures for safety, efficacy and security, why would Trump promote this drug to fight COVID-19? He’s a total know-nothing about medical and pharmacological science and has no authority to prescribe medications. That leaves us wondering about his motivation for his outrageous insistence on using this drug that has the potential to kill Americans. What’s in it for Trump to do that? Who is benefiting? As always, follow the money.

Schools

Click me

Last week Trump told us that he will “put pressure on governors and everyone else” to fully open schools in fall.

  • Nobody knows how to safely open schools in the presence of this pandemic and no nation has ever tried to send kids back to school with a virus raging at the level this one is in America. Said one school nurse in New York, “It feels like we’re playing Russian roulette with our kids and our staff,”
  • Click me

    Shouldn’t we instead consider the CDC’s clearly and consistently outlined dangers from this disease and give strong consideration to its recommendations for “opening” as we make decisions for our kids? And doesn’t our own common sense scream in our ears not to do stupid stuff?

  • Gambling with our kids’ health just isn’t a great idea. And caving in to the unhinged and self-serving demands of Donald Trump is exactly as nuts as it sounds.
Where Do You Get Your Information?

This is for our rugged individuals who refuse direction that impinges on their individual freedom or who simply don’t trust easily.

Karen Hughes

If you were to receive your coronavirus advice from a conservative Republican and if the advice were strong, clear and consistent, would you be willing to set aside your personal desires in order to do your part for the welfare of us all, including you?

Then read this essay by Karen Hughes, counselor to the president and undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs during the George W. Bush administration. Yes, that kind of conservative Republican. Then put on your mask whenever you leave home, because we can defeat this pandemic if at least 95% of us take this simple step.

And send along a link to Hughes’ essay to your friends and family who have found reasons not to wear a mask. Surely, they don’t want to put us all at greater risk, so help them to get the message.

Separate and Timely Issue: Voting By Mail

The president, vice-president and a significant proportion of senators and congressmen vote by mail. So do most of our military personnel, as do citizens who travel. Millions of people routinely vote by mail and there isn’t even a whisper of voter fraud to be heard, except what comes from the fraud-spouting mouths of politicians who are afraid for their jobs should the people make their voices heard and the majority at last rules.

Click me to learn about voting by mail in your state.

Because you don’t want to stand in line for hours with unmasked voters, you need to learn what to do to ensure you can vote by mail. Here’s a link if you live in Illinois and here’s a link if you’re a Wisconsin resident. Every state has its own website and procedures, so check for yours. I recommend doing a search on “vote by mail in ______” replacing the underscore with the name of your state. And don’t include the quotation marks in your search. Or you can click on the logo to the left and they’ll direct you. Pay careful attention to the instructions for your state because you’ll have to apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot within a defined and limited time range. Then VOTE!

Bonus Question

There are 195 countries in the world. For 10 points, list each country that erects statues to and names their military bases for traitors to their country. Submit your answer below.

Special hint (we normally don’t offer hints): This list is very short.

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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  .  .  .
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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.
·
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“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
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“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.
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“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

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“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.”
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End of Twitter Feed
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Brothers and sisters, let me hear your AMEN! Sing it loud and clear on November 3.
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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.

Emergency – Break Glass


Donald Trump has declared martial law in DC.

No, this isn’t a reality TV moment. This isn’t hyperbole. This isn’t a prank. This is actually happening. And he’s threatened to declare martial law in any state where he wants to deploy our military personnel to “dominate the streets” against our citizens, regardless of governors’ objections.

I wrote about and warned of this kind of dictatorial takeover here (see especially the last point) – also here and here and as far back as 12/31/16 here. It is no longer a theoretical construct. Now it has started for real.

Trump has been clear all along that he admires autocrats – dictators – and he wants to be like them. That’s exactly what he is in DC right now.

One thing we know about Trump is that he will keep pushing the limits unless somebody stops him. The attorney general is worse than useless to us in reining in this President. So somebody else better stand up immediately with a big legal STOP sign in hand.

If that doesn’t happen, there will be no election and our democracy will be gone.

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Here’s what’s behind this, other than Trump’s obvious sociopathic dysfunctions.

Trump knows that he’s protected by that damned Justice Department memo that says that a sitting president may not be indicted or prosecuted for any crime. Note that the memo is just that: a memo. It is not law. What needs to happen is for it to be tested in court, struck down as the poison to democracy that it is, and then put through a powerful Justice Department paper shredder.

But with that memo effectively acting as a shield to protect him, Trump can hide right there in the White House. And he needs to hide, because once he’s out of office he will be indicted for money laundering, fraud, tax evasion and more by the SDNY, the State and City of New York, the State of Virginia and some other states. An honest Attorney General will prosecute him for crimes while in office, including emoluments, the insane Ukraine quid pro quo extortion deal and much more. All of that will keep Trump in court and in prison for the rest of his life and will consume the rest of his ill-gotten fortune.

That’s why he’ll do anything to stay in office.

He knows that Biden will whip his obese ass in November, so all that’s left to him are cancelling the election and declaring martial law. It’s already begun.

——————————

Click me

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.

Counting Just For Fun


Reading time – 97 seconds  .  .  .

I received a Trump fundraising letter today – no clue how I got on the Trump/RNC mail list. Perhaps they read these posts. Nah, not likely.

This packet is like so many, in that it includes a clumsily skewed questionnaire designed to appeal to the confirmation bias of true believers. To be fair, the Ds send the same kind of thing and for the same purpose: fundraising.

What’s special about this one is how genuinely Trumpian the RNC has become and how Trumpian the letter is. That’s where Counting Just For Fun comes in.

Have a look at the letter. Ignore the completely out of date complaints about impeachment as though it were still ongoing and topical today – I counted 3  instances of that. And also ignore the equally out of date claims that people are, “getting back to work and they are starting to believe once again that America’s best days are ahead of us.” And ignore the declaration that Trump will be traveling across the country to hold rallies, too, because that ain’t gonna happen any time soon.

Just read the letter to see if you can spot more instances than I did of:

    • Claims of victimhood (total 13), including from Democrats in general (4) and as socialists (2), those with demonization of Chuck Schumer (1), Nancy Pelosi (2) and Adam Schiff (1), plus general “they hate me” and “it’s not fair” whining (3).
    • Whining about the biased, liberal fake news (all their words – I counted 4 instances)
    • Claims of winning – so much winning! – laced with great fantasy (7)
    • Appeals to “real Americans” (2) and desperation over the future of the country if Trump doesn’t win (1)
    • Begging for money (5), not counting the begging in the manipulative survey.

Go ahead and download the Trump/RNC miserable manuscript of manipulation here. That’s when the fun starts. See if you can you find more examples than I did in my once-through. What are your counts? Put ’em in the Comments section.

The winner of this first ever Counting Just For Fun contest will win an all expense paid trip to your mailbox to see if you receive the next flagrantly dishonest fundraiser from the Whiner in Chief. If you do, please send a copy to me at [email protected] and we’ll all have another round of contest fun.

Extra Credit Opportunity!

For extra credit see how many outright lies you can spot. I found 12.

——————————-

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.

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.

Get Real


Reading time – 2:21  .  .  .

The Gallup Organization published a new poll looking at how we view the performance of various groups responding to coronavirus. The information is, well, a bit nuts.

Have a look at the chart below and note that roughly 4 out of 5 of us approve of the job being done by pretty much everyone except for the federal government and the news media. High state government approval is spot on, except for the 9 state governments, all with Republican governors, that don’t have the cojones to take a stand that will be unpopular with some of their constituents but which would save many lives. Perhaps that’s the 17% disapproval number.

The roughly 60% of Americans who approve of what Trump, Pence and Congress are doing must not be paying full attention. As I wrote here, in a time of crisis, people latch onto the leader, even if he’s a buffoon.

The Congressional disapproval rating makes sense, if you read that to be a report card on “Who Cares Mitch” and the spineless Republicans. Meanwhile, kudos to the people who disapprove of Pence, the Plastic Drone, as well as the 38% who see plainly that Trump is the biggest obstacle to healthcare solutions. He’s the only one who can do the big things we so desperately need and about which he lies every day. He simply refuses to do the big things. We continue to need millions of kits to test us for coronavirus and the number of tests performed so far would be laughable, were it not tragic. Same for our need for ventilators, so,

Q. Why doesn’t Trump aggressively pursue testing?

A. More tests would show the reality that we have much higher infection numbers than we’ve recognized, which would be bad for Trump’s public image and approval ratings.

Q. Trump has invoked the Defense Protection Act (DPA), which allows him to compel manufacturers to immediately shift production to the things we urgently need to fight this plague, but he hasn’t made them do that. Why not?

A. Because if he were to take action he’d have to accept responsibility for the terrible things that are happening and will continue to happen and he wouldn’t be able to blame others.

The most disappointing numbers on this chart are those for the news media. Only 44% of us approve of how those folks are handling this crisis, with 55% disapproving. If those saying they disapprove are Fox watchers and New York Post readers, that’s understandable. Otherwise, we’re in big trouble.

The news media is called The Fourth Estate because they are the watchdogs over the Constitutionally mandated 3 estates, the Executive, Congressional and Judiciary Branches of our government. If we collectively lose faith in our news media, there will never again be accountability in government and, unless you are a rich donor, you can expect to be ignored and even abused by government.

Further, Trump knows how to exploit distrust in our news media for his own benefit and can get away with homicidal negligence, as in the case of response to COVID-19. And he has used that distrust to undermine both our Constitution and national security, as in the cases of the Ukraine scandal and Russian subversion of our elections, with Trump even protecting the Russians from our intelligence agencies.

So, get real. We’re at risk, sick and dying because of Trump’s lousy federal action to deal with COVID-19. And our democracy is at risk and sick because of fake Fox news and Donald Trump’s lies.

——————————-

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.

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