coronavirus

Potporri – v 13.0


Reading time – 5:44  .  .  .

Culture Wars

I vacillate. I go to boiling anger over what Republicans are doing, like voter suppression, stoking of hatred, flagrantly lying and supplicating themselves in spineless obeisance to the immoralities and anti-democracy molestation done by Donald Trump. In contrast, in my more enlightened moments I look for how we will move forward together in this country, even in the presence of millions who would rather make war than peace. So, if reading these posts gives you a bit of whiplash, that vacillation probably explains it. Send me your chiropractor bill.

Culture clash case in point

Read this from the Washington Post report on violence at the numerically misnamed Million MAGA March last weekend (the actual number of attendees was 1/100th of the claim):

“On stark display in the nation’s capital were two irreconcilable versions of America, each refusing to accept what the other considered to be undeniable fact.”

We’re bedeviled by divisions that run deep, fueled by our moral certainties, such that compromise feels like  an affront against God. In the face of these dueling, absolutist convictions, how will we find a way forward with one another?

I wish I had an answer to that question. Actually, I wish that anyone had an answer. Perhaps the Braver Angels folks can give us some direction.

I do know that hate begets hate and won’t help anything beyond a momentary but illusory jolt of feeling powerful. Maybe we can find some clarity from a review of this essay. It was offered by Jeffrey H. Smith, who recently found a letter his father wrote to him in 1945. It contains great wisdom and I recommend it to you.

Donald Trump had been in office almost one year when I penned my first post about our embattled culture. It’s worth another look, as we plunge headlong into a new administration that has pledged to begin to heal our vexing national divide. Our healing will be no small task and will not be for the feint of heart.

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Race In America, Year 401

Do you think you understand race in America? I think I do, yet I most certainly don’t.

Caroline Randall Williams is an author and writer in residence at Vanderbilt University. She has penned yet another stunning essay which I wholeheartedly recommend to you if you want to learn about race from someone who lives our national conundrum every day. Find it here.

As well, read her highly acclaimed op-ed, ‘My Body Is a Confederate Monument’: Slavery, Rape and Reframing the Past. She begins her essay,

“I have rape-colored skin. My light-brown-blackness is a living testament to the rules, the practices, the causes of the Old South.”

Williams gives a clarity about race that can help us to understand – or at least more fully appreciate – the truth. She is so bright and so clear that I would listen to her read the phone book – if we still had phone books.

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  • A Covid Vaccine and You

    Trump doesn’t get this, but you do: The problem won’t go away without taking the cure. Even if the cure is painful, at least it’s temporary. Without it, the pandemic is permanent.

    There was a time when education, knowledge and learning were considered good things. We believed in science, evidentiary facts, research and other things. President Kennedy told us that college is America’s best friend and we believed him. It was a time when we trusted science to eradicate diseases like smallpox and polio. We’re there on smallpox and nearly there with polio.* When experts talked we listened and we usually followed their advice because they knew a lot more than we did. Now, though, it seems we have no need for such expertise or education, knowledge, learning or even facts, which leads to vaccine refusal.

  • The recent announcements by Pfizer and Moderna of fabulous protection by their vaccines from COVID-19 are public announcements that make shareholders happy. But their products aren’t ready for prime time because we need our FDA to review them before these products receive approval for use. Therein lies the stumbling block.
  • Take a look at the chart below. It tells us that even if a vaccine were to cut the risk of contracting COVID-19 by 90%, fewer than 70% of Americans would get vaccinated and that would allow the pandemic to continue. What do you suppose is behind that apparently self-defeating attitude?
  • Confidence in a vaccine has been undercut by Trump’s politicization of the process, corner cutting and general dishonesty about medicine and science, as well as his months of promises of vaccines coming “very soon.” (Side note: If you wait long enough, “very soon” becomes accurate.)
  • The problem Americans have with vaccines now is that we have reluctance to believe in the efficacy of any vaccine, and we’re not sure we’ll be safe from potentially lethal side effects, all due to Trump having compromised the FDA with his pressure to take shortcuts. In other words, we have to hope our fine FDA folks will refuse to succumb to Trump’s pressure and instead do their usual excellent work. (See the sidebar below.)

Click me for the story

Of course, vaccine refusal will be exacerbated by millions of people refusing to wear masks, socially distance or do much of anything to curtail this pandemic. That intransigence has made us #1 in the world in infections, hospitalizations and death, which seems to be our official national policy. Here’s what is behind that.

Trump’s coronavirus expert is neuro-radiologist Dr. Scott Atlas, a true blue coronavirus ignorant. Atlas hasn’t practiced medicine for over 10 years, but he has frequently opined on Fox News, which was enough for Trump to hire him. That wasn’t snark; it’s literally true.

Click the sidebar and read at least the first paragraph of the Times article.

When Atlas was a practicing doctor his expertise was in reading CT and MRI scans. He had no training in and knew nothing about dealing with viruses or pandemics. He still doesn’t.

Until vaccines are widely available to all 320,000,000 of us (and they are proven to our satisfaction to be both safe and effective, such that we’ll take them), Trump and Atlas want to force us to rely on herd immunity for protection. That’s the coronavirus fighting strategy of giving up. Playing and then being dead.

Sweden initially tried this surrender technique, but they realized fairly quickly that all they were accomplishing was the eradication of the population of their country. Since then they’ve stopped that craziness and they are (don’t get ahead of me) wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands.

The experts (in contrast to Trump and Atlas) tell us that seeking herd immunity in the U.S. will result in 2 – 4 million dead Americans if allowed to run its course. Honk your horn if you love that plan. If you don’t love that plan, put on your damn mask.

No vaccine will arrive in time for the 1,300 healthcare workers who have died trying to save others. They died because of the official White House policy of foot dragging to achieve herd immunity. That denied these healthcare heroes sufficient PPE to protect themselves. What should we call that? Words like “betrayal” and “accessory to homicide” come to mind. Come up with your own descriptors.

Our dedicated healthcare professionals give their all – literally – in overlong shifts, working every overlong day trying to save us from ourselves. Have no illusions about this: We’re still denying them what they need in order for them to be safe.

Here’s a quotation from Abba Eban, former Israeli politician and ambassador. It seems perfect for our time of inept pandemic leadership:

“Men and nations behave wisely when they have exhausted all other resources.”**

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Divided Government

If you like it, no need to read further, except for the footnotes.

If you don’t want divided government, if you want the Ds to be marginally in control of the Senate, you better not sit on your hands.

I wrote about why Biden won while at the same time the Rs gained ground in state governments, the House and held their seats in the Senate. The Rs will win the two Georgia Senate seats still in contest if Democrats play their cards the same way for the January 5 run-off elections as they did for the general election. If you’re aligned with the Ds and want a better outcome, you must do three things:

  1. Don’t scare the poo out of moderate voters. Just shut up about far left policies and notions (Green New Deal, Defund the Police, etc.) because those extreme ideas are repugnant to moderate voters and they are the ones who are going to decide who gets those Senate seats.
  2. Contribute to the D candidates. This is going to be a stupidly expensive campaign. The most money spent doesn’t always win (ask Jamie Harrison in South Carolina), but it sure helps a lot when the other side is blanketing the airwaves, social media, billboards, bumper stickers and knocking on every door in the state multiple times. Either Ossoff and Warnock will have the weapons to win this battle or they will lose. Be a passive observer at your peril. Way better is to help out.
  3. Reach out to register and remind Georgia voters.
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*Except for a number of American anti-vax knuckleheads who have refused to protect their children from polio and who have consequently managed to give polio a resurgence in America. Be sure to ask someone who survived polio what they think of those people.

**I had originally heard a version of this identified as a Winston Churchill quotation and have subsequently learned that both the attribution and the quotation itself are incorrect. Since Churchill never said it, I’ll modify it slightly and claim it as my own. Feel free to quote me thusly:

“We Americans always do the right thing – after we’ve tried everything else first.”

  • —————————————-

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

    1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
    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 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Transcript of the Third Debate


Transcript of former Vice-President Joseph R. Biden’s closing argument at the imaginary 3rd and final Presidential Debate, 2020

Well, folks, we’ve gotta give credit where it’s due. It’s only right.

We’ve just heard the closing argument of President Trump, giving you his best story to get you to vote for him. It was so odd that he couldn’t give us a single reason to vote for him, like what he’d do in a second term. He just whined about how he was being treated so unfairly. He offers us nothing and wants us to believe he’s a poor victim. That’s pathetic. But still, some credit is due. Here’s the credit.

Never in at least the last 100 years of presidential contests have so many lies been told in just two minutes. He’s really very good at lying. That’s the credit he’s due.

Lots of his lying is just Trump trying to make himself look good, so he makes up total fictions hoping you’ll buy the nonsense and he does it in such a tsunami of lies that there’s no chance for you to say, “Wait  .  .  .  what?” But that’s dangerous, because it puts you and your family at risk.

Like his lies about the coronavirus. Folks, we’re not rounding the bend; one thousand of us are dying every day and it’s getting worse.

Trump surrenders to COVID-19, February, 2020

We’re in the midst of the biggest surge of infections yet, now over 80,000 per day. He tells us that he’s done an incredible job with this pandemic, but the truth is that he abandoned his post and let the virus attack. He’s literally done nothing to help you stay healthy. And every day he models the very behavior most likely to make a lot more people sick and for many of them to die, like his refusal to wear a mask and like his super-spreader rallies. And just last week his chief of staff announced that they waved the white flag of surrender and won’t do a thing to protect you. All they’re doing is counting on vaccines and treatments that don’t exist.

That’s why some of the kids in your child’s school got infected and were sick for days, perhaps for weeks. Maybe it hit your child. It’s why people’s grandparents – maybe yours – got sick and died alone. It’s why our doctors and nurses are so exhausted and our hospitals are so overcrowded that you can’t get help if you have a heart attack or are involved in a car crash. That’s what has happened because this president abandoned his post. He quit.

He lies to make it sound like he’s done something useful, but he hasn’t helped you at all. He even demeans the true experts who can help you.

And he’s cut way back on testing so that the number of cases reported will be lower just to make him look good. But that doesn’t lower the actual number of people who become sick and die. How dumb does he think you are?

Folks, his lying has made the greatest country in the world look like a helpless 3rd world nation. We’re leading the world in infections, suffering and death. That doesn’t fit too well with our notion of American exceptionalism, our can-do spirit.

Sadly, Trump will never be a real live boy because he lies all the time.

Have you heard enough lies from this president?

Folks, I’ll never surrender. I’ll never wave a white flag or give up on We the People. We’re going to beat this thing together.

How about his lies about the economy? Millions of our fellow citizens – maybe you – have lost their jobs and 42% of those furloughed won’t ever be rehired – and still he lies.

He tells you how great the economy is doing. The tax cut he’s so proud of was supposed to increase your wages and stimulate new jobs. That’s what he promised you. How’s that working out for you? Folks, it was never going to happen.

Instead, he gave billions of dollars to big corporations to buy back their stock in order to increase their stock prices so that big shareholders would become even richer. And the money also went directly into the investment portfolios of other rich guys. Nearly nothing went to you, and still he lies to you about how great the economy is doing. C’mon man, gimme a break!

Have you heard enough lies from this president?

He lies to you about how great our international safety and security are, but he’s alienated all of our friends, the nations who partner with us to protect us all. And he’s sucked up to Putin and other brutal dictators, putting us all at risk and lying to you at the same time.

Have you heard enough lies from this president?

He said he was going to drain the swamp – maybe you wanted him to do that. But what he did instead was to get rid of the competent people who make the government work for us and he replaced them with industry insiders, lobbyists, big donors and incompetents. They’re all swamp creatures! Then he fired them and recruited even worse people and lied to you about that, too!

The We The People Presidential BS Detector

Have you heard enough lies from this president?

He loves to vomit out his strings of superlatives about himself, but they’re all just vapor. There’s no substance to them. They’re just more of his lies.

Folks, we all know how this works. Every one of us has a very sensitive BS detector and the big We The People BS Detector has been pegged out for 4 years. So, if you’ve had enough, if you’re sick of being lied to and cheated and put in harms way for no reason other than so Trump can grab more money, more power and more attention for himself, it’s time for you to take a stand and speak up. You do that with your vote.

This won’t cut it. If you’ve heard enough lies, you have to VOTE HIM AWAY!

Vote this liar out of office right now. Put on your mask and go to your polling place this afternoon or tomorrow morning at the latest. Get in line and stay in line to make your voice heard with your vote. Tell Trump you’re done with his lies.

Folks, this president has broken our country. Fixing it will require an end to his lies. Then we’ll put America back together again. We’ll Build Back Better and restore America’s health and honor and leadership in the world because this is the United States of America.

God bless you and God bless our troops.

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Signs of Trump Insanity Affecting You

From STAT:

Three Western states join California’s Covid-19 vaccine review group

Washington, Oregon, and Nevada yesterday joined California’s Covid-19 vaccine safety review group, which will independently review any Covid-19 vaccine approved by the FDA. Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the initiative last week. The review panel is currently made up of California scientists who specialize in immunization and public health, and the governors of the three states who have joined the effort will also select and name their own experts to the panel. States are taking up this effort to verify a vaccine amid concerns about a politicized and rushed approval for a Covid-19 vaccine. In addition to these four states, New York last month also announced that any FDA-approved Covid-19 vaccine will be independently vetted by state health officials. [emphasis mine]

How insane is it that we can’t trust our formerly world leading Food and Drug Administration to ensure that our vaccines are safe and effective – this because of Trump’s lies and manipulations? There truly is nothing that Trump won’t lie about and ruin, including our confidence in those entrusted to protect us and even your health.

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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 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Minority Rule


Reading time – 3:52  .  .  .

NOTE – read to the end for the key message.


60%  of Americans want stricter gun safety laws and regulations.

61% of Americans support a woman’s right to choose.

66% of Americans want a government health insurance plan for all.

70% of Americans believe most undocumented immigrants working in the U.S. should be offered a chance to apply for legal status.

That’s just a very small sample of what the majority of Americans want. But they either don’t have those things or they now realize these issues are mortally threatened by the new composition of the Supreme Court, as manipulated by Mitch McConnell. It can all be traced to the decades-long push for minority rule by monied interests and the Republican Party.

There is a huge story to tell and it is much too big for a 1,000 word post, but you already know some of the basics. For example, you know that in White areas of many of our cities the wait time to vote is about 15 minutes. In the poor and Black parts of town the wait time can be eight hours due to the closing of polling places, a limited number of voting machines and insufficient staffing.

In the 2018 election Democrats in Wisconsin got 205,000 more votes than Republicans, but the Republicans wound up with a 27 seat advantage in the state Assembly. It has been the same in North Carolina for many years.  And in those states, as in about 2/3 of the rest, it allowed the state houses to restrict voting rights for massive numbers of Americans. Say it with me: Gerrymandering.

Gerrymandering allowed states to remove a voter’s registration if the voter didn’t return a post card within 14 days. And those post cards were targeted at poor and minority people.

Gerrymandering allowed states to impose ID requirements in order to vote, something that is both relatively costly and burdensome to obtain for poor people. Note that the Constitution only requires citizenship to vote.

Gerrymandering allowed the secretaries of state of these discriminatory states to close polling places, locate polling places in difficult to reach areas, restrict voting days and hours and more.

Gerrymandering is what reduced mail-in ballot drop boxes to just one in all of Harris County, Texas (that’s the entire Houston metropolitan area).

Minority rule has also given us Republican governors who suck up to Trump and who have by fiat denied mandatory face mask wearing in their states – places like Iowa, South Dakota, Florida, Nebraska, Texas and more – this as the cases of COVID-19 are skyrocketing, with more than 70,000 new cases every day.

Republicans want very much to restrict voting rights. That’s because they will become an extinct species if We the People actually have a democracy – i.e. majority rule. Paul Weyrich, founder of the self-righteous Moral Majority and other right wing manipulation machines said it plainly, clearly and publicly in 1980:

“I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact our leverage in the election, quite candidly, goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

The leverage Weyrich was referring to is that of Republicans, not conservatives. There’s a difference, as exemplified by there being nothing conservative in most of what Donald Trump does or says. He’s all about not conserving what the Founders intended.

Weyrich was right. If the roughly 100 million eligible voters who typically don’t vote, many of whom are unfairly prohibited from voting, suddenly showed up to vote, no Republican would win, because most of those 100 million citizens aren’t rich people. They are minorities and poor people and, of course, tens – perhaps hundreds – of thousands of disaffected, frustrated middle class people. Most of them would vote for Democrats, which is why Republicans don’t want them to vote.

What that means is that a small minority is ruling this country. It’s how the Supreme Court wound up looking as it does. It’s how the Republicans have controlled the Senate. It’s how the House has been largely under Republican control for decades. And it is why we are now in this insane election process that threatens to be decided by our lopsided, contorted Supreme Court, instead of by We the People.

We can’t change our current insanity instantly, but we surely can start the process and it’s up to you to do that.

Samuel L. Jackson has laid it out plainly for you. Watch his YouTube video, because he’s very smart. Do as he says.

If you haven’t voted yet, you have only 6 days left. It may be too late for mail-in voting, although you may be able to drop off your mail-in ballot at your precinct voting place, your city hall or in a ballot drop box. In-person early voting is ongoing and it’s your best opportunity to ensure your voice is heard and to vote this horrid minority out of office.

VOTE NOW!

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Resources
  1. Read John Pavlovitz’s great clarity in “No, I Won’t Agree To Disagree. You’re Just Wrong.” He’s right.
  2. This Is Not Normal, by Amy Siskind in The Washington Post
  3. The entire “Sunday Review” of The New York Times, October 18, 2020: Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, and Here.
VOTE NOW!

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Idle Speculation of the Week

Rudy Giuliani is spending his days and nights in Ukraine, digging for dirt to help Donald Trump. He’s unleashed volumes of anti-Biden, pro-Trump Russian propaganda repeatedly. Even his daughter opposes his behavior.

He tells us he’s Trump’s lawyer but that he’s not being paid. Does that combination make any sense to you? Speculate on this: What does Giuliani get out of being Trump’s muck-making slime bag? My idle speculation is that Trump has promised to make him Attorney General if Trump is re-elected.

Scientific Speculation of the Week

From STAT:

“A new modeling study finds that there could be half a million Covid-19-related deaths by the end of February next year, but universal mask use could save 130,000 of those lives.”

Just wondering which group the fiercely independent face mask refusers want to be in, the 130,000 who could live or the rest who will be dead. There’s a really big cost for them stomping feet and yelling, “You can’t tell me what to do.”

Scientific speculation: The rest of us pay a huge price for refuser selfishness.

Unintentionally Revealing Quote of the Week

From the New York Times:

”  .  .  .  Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, essentially offering a verbal shrug on CNN on Sunday: ‘We’re not going to control the pandemic.’

‘We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations, because it is a contagious virus — just like the flu,’ Mr. Meadows said.”

Mark Meadows is co-founder with insanely rabid Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) of the patriotically misnamed Freedom Caucus. Apparently, Meadows wants us to be free to get sick and die.

What he’s telling us is that our top national leadership is not focused on protecting the American people. They are doing nothing to prevent our exposure to a killer virus that is most definitely not like the flu. Instead, these public servants (supposedly serving We the People) are focused on vaccines and therapeutics that don’t exist! That’s minority rule as a cruel, manipulative, homicidal refusal to act and to lead. And it’s killing us.

Watch this 1-minute video.

Did I mention,

VOTE NOW!
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Quotes for Today

From Rachel Maddow on October 27, 2020: “If you’re standing in line waiting to vote, know that you are pulling a thread through a lot of history. Stay in line.”

From Admiral (Ret.) William McRaven in his 20-minute 2014 commencement address at the University of Texas: “Don’t ever, ever ring the bell.” [i.e. quit]

From me: Get in line, stay in line and vote to change our country and change the world.

From Yoda: “On you, everything depends.”

From me again: I like Joe Biden, but if the Democrats had nominated a box of rocks to run against Trump, I’d vote for the rocks.

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There might not be time to mail in your vote and have it arrive in time, so DROP IT OFF in a drop box.

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 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. & Democracy


Reading time 5:16; Viewing time – 8:35  .  .  .

BREAKING NEWS  .  .  .

In the second and last presidential candidate debate last Thursday President Trump set a new International Prevarication Record – the coveted IPR – by lying more than once per minute with peak gusts to 3 per minute for multiple extended periods of time. The record had been held by Pinocchio since 1883, but Trump obliterated Pinocchio’s record in just 90 minutes. Said one of the judges, “Boy, that guy sure can make up total crap really fast.”

Many of his lies were about the coronavirus. His lies have and will continue to prove to be lethal to Americans. More on that in the Health Statistic of the Week section below.

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The Main Point

In looking for a particular quotation, I recently had occasion to revisit Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter From the Birmingham Jail (download a copy here). I wound up reading the entire document again and found that much of what he wrote in 1963 applies to today.

This isn’t the 1950-60s segregated South or the middle of the 19th century before the Civil War, but we are once again at Robert Frost’s metaphorical point where two roads diverge and the choice we make for the path moving forward will have profound consequences. This road is both about race in America and whether we will continue go be a democracy and we must decide which path to take.

Dr. King wrote his letter to a group of clergy with whom he was quite disappointed because of their lack of support and outright criticism of the peaceful, nonviolent demonstrations he led for racial justice. With that in mind, here are some quotes from his letter. Decide for yourself if his words feel uncomfortably applicable to today.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.

You deplore the demonstrations that are presently taking place in Birmingham [feel free to apply this statement to today by substituting Portland or Kenosha or St. Paul or Ferguson or  .  .  . ]  But I am sorry that your statement did not express a similar concern for the conditions that brought the demonstrations into being.

Birmingham’s [or substitute the name of another city] ugly record of police brutality is known in every section of this country. It’s unjust treatment of Negroes in the courts is a notorious reality. [See this post for confirmation.]

I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. History is the long and tragic story of the fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily.

We know from painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

  • For a contemporary look at this and to truly understand what is going on in America right now, watch author Kimberly Jones’ 7-minute video. Before watching you need to know that her words are hard. They are rough. If all you can tolerate is a Kumbaya moment, this isn’t for you. This is only for you if you really want to know the truth, if you really want to know the “why” of what goes on and not just the “what” and if you really want to see what our country steadfastly refuses to look at. Many thanks to Amy Tucker for highlighting this video.
  • Be clear that race is an issue where choice and consequences demand our immediate action. At the same time we are dealing with the destruction of much of what had been believed to be our national bedrock, the rules, practices and guardrails that have allowed us to be a democracy since the Constitution was ratified.
  • There’s big trouble right now, leaving us with the ongoing challenge to both issues and the requirement to answer the questions: What will we do? And what will we be?
  • The principles driving our choices and the consequences they produce in both race and for our democracy itself are interchangeable.
  • That road diverging into two paths and the choice about which we follow is upon us. We are facing the choice between destruction and hope. We are deciding whether we will continue to hate or whether we will find reconciliation. We are deciding whether might makes right or whether right makes right. We are deciding if we truly believe that all men and women are created equal and whether the call of the Pledge of Allegiance for liberty and justice for all means anything. It is a profound moment in America. History and our children’s children will be a brutal judge if we choose poorly. Choose wisely right now.
  • VOTE IN PERSON EARLY**

  • WEAR YOUR “I VOTED” STICKER WITH PRIDE

  • ————————–
Health Statistic of the Week
  • There are over 70,000 new cases daily and
  • OVER 700 COVID DEATHS EVERY DAY IN THE U.S.
  • Click the graph for the WaPo article.

President Trump told us clearly and in no uncertain terms that “We’re rounding the bend” on the coronavirus and that “it affects virtually nobody.” Just to prove him right, over the past 7 days more than 5,600 American nobodies rounded that bend and are now dead.* According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the actual number is almost certainly far higher than the official count.

We send our deep, heartfelt condolences to all of our dead American nobodies.

Dr. Scott Atlas is a radiologist – an MRI, x-ray guy. He’s an infectious disease and epidemic imbecile. He’s heading Trump’s program of avoidance of doing anything positive to protect Americans from the pandemic. Atlas recommends herd immunity to beat the coronavirus. That consists of waiting for infection to sweep the nation and for millions to die. After that we’ll just carry on with the few of us remaining. Trump has talked about this method of national suicide at times and, by his lack of action, appears to favor it. Why would he do that? Try this.

The elderly are the ones most likely to die from this disease, so doing nothing to protect people will cull the herd of millions of those whose tax dollars funded Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid but who are now a financial drain from the system. Neither George W. Bush nor Paul Ryan could get those programs privatized, but Trump may accomplish the same tax dollar savings by getting millions of our people killed. Genius.

So, we chant, Trump lied, people died.

  • ————————–
Quote of the Week

This is for all the hissy fit people who refuse to wear a mask because it infringes on their freedom.*** And for those whose liberty has been squashed and want the schools to reopen, regardless of how many teachers, staff and grandparents become infected and die. And for all those so desperate for a drink that they need their favorite bar to open so they can have a Covid party. And for the mega churches in Denver whose rights were so horribly stomped on that they sued and won the right to jam mask-less people into their amphitheaters in weekly super-spreader events. And for all the self-proclaimed keepers of the one true vision of America, the daddy issues militia morons, whose rights are somehow more important than those of the rest of us.

“Liberty doesn’t mean freedom to infect other people.” – Paul Krugman, NY Times

  • ————————–

*Worldwide the number is over 1 million dead.

**You really need to read Ira Leavitt’s take on this.

***Read Paul Krugman’s love letter to Libertarians here. My view is that any Ayn Rand is too much.

  • —————————————-

    There might not be time to mail in your vote and have it arrive in time, so DROP IT OFF in a drop box.

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

    1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
    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 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

An Historical Perspective


Join the Disambiguation Gang right over there (scroll down just a bit) →

Reading time – 3:18 .  .  .

COVID-19 has at last caught up to our science-denying President. Of course, it was inevitable, given his flaunting of all protections, other than getting tested, which isn’t protection at all. By the time someone tests positive they’re already both sick and contagious.

In President Trump’s case, he did what he always does: He thought only of himself and managed to knowingly infect many others, including hundreds at his Bedminster club. The next episode of his contagion spreading happened Sunday at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He went for a joyride to greet the crowds lining Rockville Pike at the western edge of the hospital campus. He rode in the President’s armored, hermetically sealed SUV, along with his Secret Service detail of 2 agents.

In a sealed vehicle.

As he exhaled clouds of coronavirus containing droplets.

They were all wearing masks, but that isn’t complete protection for the Secret Service agents from Trump’s viral fog in that sealed space. The extra bad news is that whatever infection was passed from Trump to those agents they’re going to take home to their families.

On the other hand, I’m sure Trump appeared to be the strong warrior to his fans on the sidewalk. Being a tough guy is very important to all of them, Trump included. Knowing that helps to explain the schoolyard bully behavior of demeaning others and name calling. For them, putting others down is a strength of character thing. King of the mountain. Manly man. Macho. Puff-up stuff.

When Trump arrived back at the White House on Monday evening he stood on the Truman balcony and saluted Mussolini-style. The last thing he did before turning and walking inside was to strip off his mask, heedless of the infection he was almost certain to spread to others in the always heavily-peopled White House.

From the New York Times Tuesday morning newsletter,

“’Don’t be afraid of Covid,’ President Trump tweeted, on the same day that the White House outbreak spread further and another several hundred Americans died from virus complications.”

This is just the latest series of incidents to generate this question: What would the hair-on-fire Republicans be saying if instead it had been President Obama going for that joyride and entering the White House mask-less?

They’d be apoplectic. They’d be maniacally blurting and frothing. They would be all over cable news and on the Sunday talk shows with their eyes bulging and the veins in their necks throbbing in self-righteous indignation and rage. We know that because we saw that almost weekly for the 8 years of the Obama administration. They even went berserk over Obama wearing a tan suit.

If you close your eyes and listen carefully, you can almost hear their wailing today:

“O’ the fecklessness!” (They liked to use that word when speaking about President Obama.)*

“O’ the betrayal of our brave Secret Service agents!”

“O’ the abandoning of our national security!”

“Woe be unto us from this reckless, feckless Black president!” They’d leave out “Black” but everyone would hear the dog whistle just the same.

That’s not what’s happening in reaction to President Trump’s joyride and his restarted campaign to infect White House staff. The Republicans are absolutely silent about what Trump has done. I guess fecklessness, the lives of Secret Service agents and the White House staff and Trump’s ditching of our national security just don’t matter as much now as they did back in the Obama years.

Or perhaps this is just another Republican spineless moment. Time for an additional Jellyfish Award. And time to vote these invertebrates out of office before they do yet more damage.

Numbers of Note

7.4 million Americans have been infected by the coronavirus. That’s 2.2% of our total population. Of those infected, over 211,000 have died.** That’s a COVID-19 mortality rate of 2.8%. Roughly 200,000 more are predicted to die by the end of the year.

The seasonal flu is not a reportable disease, so the CDC doesn’t have perfect numbers for it. Their best estimates are that in 2019-2020 between 39 – 56 million Americans became sick from seasonal flu (that’s between 11.8% and 17% of our total population) and between 24 – 62 thousand died. That’s a seasonal flu mortality rate of 0.06% – 0.11%.

That means the mortality rate of COVID-19 is at least 25 times worse than seasonal flu.

This pandemic  is not “no worse than the seasonal flu.” It’s deadlier. And it hasn’t and it won’t “miraculously disappear,” especially if we continue to refuse to do what is necessary to beat it.

—————————-

*Feckless: lacking initiative or strength of character; irresponsible.

**It’s likely that approximately 80,000 additional people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S., based on several analyses. Precise reporting is quite difficult in the middle of a pandemic; plus, there have been many deaths at home or otherwise away from reporting centers due largely to an overwhelmed medical system.

—————————————-

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

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  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 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Potpourri – v12.0


Reading time – 5:15  .  .  .

BREAKING NEWS!

Hope Hicks, President Trump’s closest aide, has tested positive for coronavirus. Hours after the announcement of her infection we learned that both the president and Mrs. Trump had tested positive for coronavirus, too. So have some senators and White House staffers, with more surely in the Covid queue. That isn’t the breaking news.

The important story for America is that even after learning he had been exposed to the infected Hicks, Trump continued his normal schedule, including a round-table with supporters and a fundraiser reception, both at his Bedminster, NJ club. He did all that without wearing a mask.

There have been subsequent unverified reports that he didn’t know he had been exposed prior to the Bedminster events. Regardless, Trump remains a one man super-spreader event and a totem, a roll model for the third of this nation that is in denial about this disease.

Also note that Trump was in close proximity to V.P. Joe Biden and Chris Wallace at the debate on Tuesday night. And the president was talking loudly, projecting clouds of his spittle, necessarily putting the others at risk.

I am steadfastly resisting the enormous urge to send a “We told you so” tweet to our now hospitalized president and am proud that instead I’m wishing him and the rest of the infected good health. I’m proud, too, of Joe Biden for withdrawing criticizing ads of Trump while he’s down. It’s a visible demonstration of the decency Biden has promised to bring to the White House, even though, as of this writing, Trump has continued his attack ads against Biden. As I’ve said, there is no low that is so low that Trump won’t go there.

For now, I fervently hope the leaders of the Democrats are devising a plan for the election if Biden goes down sick due to Trump projecting his infection at him and he can no longer run for office. And, because it would be unseemly to kick Trump while he’s down, Kamala Harris and her team better be retoolng her V.P. debate focus.

Going after Pence won’t take long. Everyone knows he’s smarmy, disingenuous and plainly dishonest. Indianans were in the process of throwing him out of the governor’s office when the V.P. gig lifeline was thrown to him. He really isn’t worth much attention. That leaves the rest of the 90 minutes for Kamala to go after Trump, now having to do it gently. Bummer for the former prosecutor.

————————

It’s So Taxing

Trump claimed hundreds of millions of dollars in profit while at the same time claiming a $47 million loss on his IRS tax form, so he paid no taxes. Imagine if you tried such a deception.

He has hundreds of millions of dollars of loans – debt – money owed – coming due within the next four years and he has no way to pay it back. Plus, we don’t know to whom he owes that money – could be Vladimir Putin or Mohammad bin Salman, which would raise enormous national security issues.

For anyone else, that much debt from any source would disqualify him/her from even the lowest security clearance, because anyone’s knowledge of the debt is kompromat and the enormity of it is financial leverage. In the absence of seeing Trump’s financial documents we’re left wondering who has Trump’s privates in their vice.

Trump was facing financial disaster in 1990, so he did what any enterprising fellow would do: he attempted to grab all of his father’s wealth for himself. He sent a lawyer and an accountant to the elder Trump’s home to get him to change his will. He did that as his father was falling into dementia. With that kind of self-serving pathology as his guide, what do you imagine Trump would do to the United States over four more years and with all that debt hanging over his head?

This is President Flim-Flam and, sadly, Lincoln was right about being able to fool some of the people all of the time. None of Trump’s malfeasance means a thing to his ardent, information refusing supporters. Many of them are prepared to use violence against fellow Americans in support of him, as they wave their American flags and misuse Thomas Jefferson’s Tree of Liberty quote, imagining themselves to be patriots in their flagrant law breaking. And all the while Trump eggs them on.

Perhaps some of the independents, the folks in the middle, will figure out they’ve been victims of the biggest scam in our history and will act accordingly in this election to stop the madness.

————————

From Peter Strzok’s book COMPROMISED

Page XXIII

Speaking about having lived in 4 countries that each went through revolution by a strongman dictator, Strzok writes, ”  .  .  .  all shared common characteristics, and all taught me lessons about dictators and authoritarians and their hunger to consolidate power and obtain – or at least convey – legitimacy. That quest for legitimacy played out in a host of ways. One was the desire to manipulate, control, or discredit media. A relentless distortion of reality numbs a country’s populace to outrage and weakens its ability to discern truth from fiction.

“Another way dictators sought to secure power and legitimacy was by co-opting the power of the state – its military, law enforcement, and judicial systems – to carry out personal goals and vendettas rather than the nation’s needs.

“Still another was by undermining dissent, questioning the validity of opposition and refusing to honor public will, up to and including threatening or preventing the peaceful transfer of power.”

Page 307

“Authoritarian leaders and tin-pot dictators don’t tolerate dissent or criticism, and when they hear it, they smear their critics in outlandish terms, as traitors, as enemies of the people, as saboteurs and spies. If they can imprison or execute their critics, they frequently do. If they can’t they call for their imprisonment [think: “Lock her up.”] or execution instead, or demand mob retribution against them. Corrupt and compromised, with no moral center and no ethics and only their own self-interests to guide them, such leaders see criticism as a challenge to their legitimacy and, when challenged continuously, rage louder – ruining lives, destroying careers, and worse.”

“One of [the pipe bomber, Cesar] Sayoc’s attorneys would later explain in court that his client’s ‘blind admiration for the president’ [much like MAGA hat wearers] had fed his spiral toward violence. ‘It is impossible, I believe,’ the lawyer said, ‘to separate the political climate and his mental illness.'”

Strzok continued, speaking of “[Trump’s] impact on the vulnerable fringes of American society, on troubled people susceptible to suggestions and inflammatory rhetoric.”

Somebody please tell me what the violence-prone Trump supporters will do when Trump loses and continues his ranting about a rigged election, fake news, lock somebody up and dog whistle calls to violence.

Read traditional conservative David Brooks’ eyes-wide-open comments about the chaos debate last week, the immoralist who created it and the threat it signals for America.

————————

Coronavirus – Again

We’ve known all along what to do to stop dying from COVID-19. And how to stop suffering debilitating illness from it. And the way to prevent long term lung and heart damage. I wrote about that here.

We haven’t done those things.

Leadership has lied about proper protocols, waffled on protections, recommended lethal cures and valueless treatments and refused most positive actions to stop this pandemic. Left to the states, failure was certain. That’s because some states imposed serious measures to protect the people, while neighboring states blindly, spinelessly followed the President’s lead, claiming COVID-19 was like the flu that would “magically go away”, or some other excuse for inaction. And then people traveled from infected areas to non-infected areas, which spread the disease very quickly. Now, over 210,000 Americans are dead. It was all predictable and avoidable.

We chose not to avoid.

We have a temper-tantrum narcissist, responsibility-refusing president. He sits in his highchair, pounding on his tray and screaming his fantasies, while his enablers say, “Whatever the president wants, it’s his. I’ll do whatever he says.” Republican senators and governors knuckle under, as though they’ve lost all higher brain functioning. They are all children, acting as though there are no consequences to anything, focusing only on what they can imagine they’d like to have and thinking only as far as the immediate future for themselves. They abdicate all responsibility and refuse their accountability for the consequences of their actions on others.

Exactly like misbehaving, disobedient children.

Together, these irresponsible leaders instruct large portions of the population to distrust reality, to flaunt their bravado and to continue to spread the disease and death. Then our citizens act exactly as their leaders do, like misbehaving, disobedient children. And all the while people die for lack of responsible leadership.

This disease won’t go away until we all start acting like adults, conscious of our responsibility to ourselves and one another. What do you suppose that will require?

Read How America Lost 200,000 Lives to COVID-19 – even better, watch the video – for more.

—————————————-

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

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  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 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Update – v1


Join the Disambiguation Gang right over there (scroll down just a bit) →

Reading time – 4:48 .  .  .

Update To The Trump Election-Rigging Show

This is an occasional feature of these posts to and through the November election, as Trump attempts to manipulate, lie and cheat* his way to staying in office.

Recall that Trump must win the election in order to avoid criminal indictments for fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice, Conspiracy Against the United States and more**. Those indictments will land in his lap the moment he leaves the protection of the Justice Department “no-criminal-indictments-while-in-office” memo. Let’s just say that he’s motivated to be “creative” in order to stay in office.

  1. Trump installed Louis DeJoy as postmaster general. DeJoy is no joy, as he has removed 600 high speed mail sorting machines, removed hundreds of mail drop boxes, eliminated overtime for postal workers and he makes postal trucks run around empty. The result is a hobbling of the Postal Service, such that it advised 46 states that mail may not be delivered in time to meet state requirements for the election. That will effectively throw millions of ballots into dumpsters. Trump wants to see that happen because more Democrats vote by mail than Republicans.
  2. Trump has accelerated his attack on the FDA. At first it was just blatantly disagreeing with the science around the pandemic. Since then it has become pressure to approve treatments that aren’t fully vetted and even more pressure to produce a vaccine, whether vetted or not – and he’s promised that it will be delivered before the election.
  3. He’s cut funding and recommendations for testing for COVID-19 in an effort to reduce the apparent number of cases. Of course, reducing testing won’t reduce the number of people infected and, in fact, will increase the number of Americans who get sick and die, since we won’t know to self-quarantine or be able to trace contacts.
  4. He’s attacked the FDA and now, ”  .  .  .  the administration recently installed a gun-rights advocate and right-wing journalist as the FDA’s chief spokesperson, allowing for partisan communication from an agency that has historically put out apolitical messaging. Now Trump has baselessly claimed that the FDA was part of a “deep state” conspiracy to harm his reelection campaign.
  5. He repeats his completely fact-less accusations of in-person and mail-in voter fraud.
  6. Trump used the White House, National Mall and other federal properties for his nomination acceptance speech. Looked great, if a bit over the top. But that ain’t kosher.
  7. He had Attorney General Wm. Barr’s Justice Department investigate the investigators of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Look for the release of Barr’s dishonest Trump-suck-up summary in mid-October, just as Barr did with the Mueller Report. He will then withhold its distribution so that there isn’t time to get the truth out before the election. Sadly, there is no law against the Attorney General, the top law enforcement official in the country, lying to the public.
  8. At Trump’s direction, The Office of the Director of National Intelligence will no longer give in-person briefings to our legislators, leaving them semi-ignorant at best. This is another Trump dirty trick to keep us in the dark about Russia’s involvement to help him win re-election and his conspiracy to defraud**.
  9. September 2 – From the Times: “Senior officials at the Department of Homeland Security intervened to prevent the publication of an intelligence report raising alarms about Russian interference in the 2020 election, according to a report by ABC News last [Wednesday].” That effectively prevents you and all of us from knowing about the breadth of Russian interference in our current election.
  10. Trump urged supporters in North Carolina to vote by mail and then attempt to vote in person on November 3. He later claimed that was how they could determine if their mail-in vote had been counted. Actually, Trump solicited fraud, a felony.
  11. September 11 – “President Donald Trump threatened Thursday to ‘put … down very quickly’ [protests and] riots on election night should aggrieved Democrats take to the streets in the wake of his potential victory.” Politico No word on whether he’d do the same if there were protests and riots by right wing hotheads when Biden wins.
  12. September 12 -“Political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services have sought to change, delay and prevent the release of reports about the coronavirus by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention because they were viewed as undermining President Trump’s message that the pandemic is under control.” Washington Post
  13. September 13 – Trump signed an Executive Order in a last-ditch drug pricing plan to force pharmaceutical companies to charge Medicare no more than the lowest prices charged in other countries. While that sounds attractive: first, it isn’t clear he has the power to do that; second, a lawsuit is on the way to stop this; third, other than flap his lips about phantom victories over drug pricing for 3.5 years, why do you suppose this is happening just 50 days before the election? Could it be that the election is more important to him than the health of American seniors?
  14. Michael Caputo, the assistant secretary of public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, accused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of harboring a ‘resistance unit’ determined to undermine President Trump, even if that opposition bolsters the Covid-19 death toll.” He accused CDC scientists of sedition and predicted left-wing violence if Trump loses the election and refuses to leave office. Perhaps worst, he’s in charge of warping CDC communications to the public into what Trump wants us all to hear.
  15. ”  .  .  .  first Politico, then The New York Times and other news media organizations published accounts of how Mr. Caputo and a top aide had routinely worked to revise, delay or even scuttle the core health bulletins of the C.D.C. to paint the administration’s pandemic response in a more positive light.” New York Times

That’s just top of mind stuff. With 40 days to go, we can be sure of an October surprise. What needs to be included? Provide links if you can. With your help we’ll keep a running tally until and beyond this election, showcasing the most brutally ANTI-DEMOCRATIC acts of this most ANTI-AMERICAN president in U.S. history.

——————————

* Read Frank Bruni’s clear take on this.

** 18 U.S. Code § 371. Conspiracy to Commit Offense or to Defraud United States

If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

18 U.S. Code § 2383. Rebellion or insurrection

Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

Just getting started on the list.

——————————

From RepresentUs:

“With just 2 weeks until voter registration deadlines across the country, don’t let National Voter Registration Day pass you by without confirming that you can vote this fall. 

“Our voter registration tool powered by VoteAmerica makes it easy. So register to vote – or confirm your registration today.”

Click this sentence and confirm your right to vote.”

—————————————-

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

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  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 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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.

——————————-

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 2021 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 2021 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
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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.
·
“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.”
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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.
·
Bonus question:

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

——————————-

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 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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