COVID-19

An Historical Perspective


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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.

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*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.

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

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The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

It’s Just Another Week


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Reading time 3:11  .  .  .

We have endured an onslaught of one catastrophe or outrageous event on top of another. That both keeps us from focusing on individual events and seeing them through to the end, as well as dulling us to big events. That’s very bad for a democracy. Here’s a small sample from just the past 8 days.

Friday, September 18

Ruth Bader Ginsberg, progressive rights hero, dies. Less than 2 hours later Mitch McConnell promises to go full hypocrite, vowing to cram Trump’s replacement justice through the Senate.

Saturday, September 19

Emails are uncovered that “Detail [administration] Effort to Silence C.D.C. and Question Its Science.”

The Trump “drug pricing deal” is rejected by pharmaceutical companies. Trump had demanded that they supply a $100 prescription drug gift certificate to all 33 million Medicare beneficiaries before the election. The companies refused, so Trump now declares that they are to be called “Trump cards” and will be worth $200. They will be funded by the federal government and sent out before the election.

Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services, “barred the nation’s health agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, from signing any new rules regarding the nation’s foods, medicines, medical devices and other products, including vaccines.” That effectively makes the FDA a solely political agency, not a health agency, this in the midst of a pandemic and right before a national election.

At a rally in Fayetteville, NC Trump declares that the coronavirus, “affects virtually nobody.”

Sunday, September 20

U.S. surpasses 200,000 dead from COVID-19.

Approximately 6.7 million acres of the U.S. west coast have burned. Trump blames the Forestry Service for poor forest management – he says they didn’t rake the forest floor.

Monday, September 21

Attorney General Wm. Barr threatens, “to withhold federal funding from New York, Seattle and Portland, Ore., over their responses to protests against police brutality .  .  . “

Tuesday, September 22

Lindsay Graham asserts his sincere belief that Democrats are as hypocritical as he and Sen. McConnell regarding when to nominate a replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsberg on the Supreme Court. He declares, “I am certain if the shoe were on the other foot, you would do the same,”

Wednesday, September 23

The Kentucky Attorney General announces charges of wanton endangerment of the neighbors of Breonna Taylor against one officer involved in the police shooting death of Taylor. There are no charges filed relating to the death of Taylor against any of the three officers involved in the blaze of gunfire they aimed at Taylor and her boyfriend, as they executed a warrant against a third person already in police custody. There is a dispute about whether it was a no-knock warrant and also whether the police announced their presence.

Trump refuses to commit to a peaceful transition of power unless he wins, in which case he informs us that it will be a continuation of power.

Trump declares that a replacement Supreme Court justice will be necessary to determine the winner of the presidential election.

Thursday, September 24

Trump administration lawyers announce they will attempt to have Republican governors replace electors voted by the people with Trump electors. That would effectively disenfranchise all voters.

Trump  announces that in the upcoming election we must, “get rid of the ballots.”

CDC announces that the median age for people becoming infected with COVID-19 has dropped from 47 to 38 years. In their report they explain, “Given the role of asymptomatic and presymptomatic transmission, strict adherence to community mitigation strategies and personal preventive behaviors by younger adults is needed to help reduce their risk for infection and subsequent transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to persons at higher risk for severe illness.”

The FDA announces tighter safety protocols for vaccines. Trump attacks the FDA, claiming it is now politicized.

Friday, September 25

The Trump administration rescinds a Courage Award given to a Finnish journalist last year, this  after learning that she had criticized Trump in social media posts.

Trump gives up on repealing and replacing Obamacare, settling for nothing more than a re-branding, saying, “Obamacare is no longer Obamacare, as we worked on it and managed it very well.” “What we have now is a much better plan. It is no longer Obamacare because we got rid of the worse [sic] part of it — the individual mandate.” There is no claim made yet that it will now be called “Trumpcare.”

This is just a bit of the highlight reel of a typical week, a small part of the tsunami that makes Americans numb. This is why there is no accountability. The insanity is why our problems don’t get fixed, why we fail to meet our challenges and what stokes our anger.

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

Stomach Turning in 4 Parts and 5 Questions


Reading time – 4:49  .  .  .

1. Immigration Vile

We’re all appalled by the forced, medically unnecessary, inept and deceitful sterilizations of would-be immigrants at the hands of at least one doctor at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”),  Irwin County Detention Center. It is a privately owned (LaSalle Corrections), for-profit immigration jail in rural south Georgia. We don’t yet know if such things are happening in other ICE prisons.

First question: Why do we pay private corporations to run this and many other prisons, where they have incentives to lock up as many people as possible and perhaps perform stomach turning additional revenue enhancing acts?

The hideousness of these forced sterilizations – by some counts as many as 18 known and medically unnecessary, non-consensual surgeries – is now known and the full story isn’t out yet. This is a new chapter in American immigration cruelty. The good news, of course, is that this has never happened before.

Except it has. Many times.

In the 20th century alone (and it didn’t start there) tens of thousands of men and women were forcibly sterilized and it will come as no surprise to you who the targets were. From a report on this travesty (and here’s another report on this):

More than 60,000 people were sterilized in 32 states during the 20th century based on the bogus “science” of eugenics, a term coined by Francis Galton in 1883.

Eugenicists applied emerging theories of biology and genetics to human breeding. White elites with strong biases about who was “fit” and “unfit” embraced eugenics, believing American society would be improved by increased breeding of Anglo Saxons and Nordics, whom they assumed had high IQs. Anyone who did not fit this mold of racial perfection, which included most immigrants, Blacks, Indigenous people, poor whites and people with disabilities, became targets of eugenics programs. [emhasis mine]

But that was way in the past, right? Wrong.

Such practices are documented as occurring as recently as 2010. Over 1,400 forced sterilizations were performed in California prisons in just over 13 years. These were all state-sanctioned, non-consensual sterilizations.

To give you an idea of the cruelty of eugenics, the Nazis copied it, using the laws of Indiana and California as models for their 1930s laws that led to roughly 400,000 forced sterilizations. The Nazis weren’t the kind of people to whom we would want to be compared, and yet in this sense we can be.

Second question: Why do we tolerate this cruelty as part of our stomach turning immigration practices?

 

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2. COVID-19 Deaths

Trump’s cruelty and ineptitude remains exactly what the Oxford study said it was. Worse, he continues to do what is counterproductive to beating this pandemic and he avoids doing what would make things better. Nevertheless, there is more to this story and it’s likely not exactly what you think.

If you want to know why some countries have had relatively good results dealing with COVID-19 and why the U.S. has fared much poorer, read this.

Third question: Why have we tolerated a stomach-turning hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths?

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3. RBG’s Seat

Ruth Bader Ginsberg, progressive, civil rights icon of the Supreme Court has died. Separate from her loss and ours we must contend with Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader, promising to hurry Trump’s replacement pick through the Senate. He announced that less than two hours after the news of her death broke. His was truly astonishing disrespect.

This is the same Mitch McConnell who declared from a dark corner of his manipulative, power-grabbing mind that in the last year of his administration President Obama couldn’t refill the seat left empty by Antonin Scalia’s death. It wouldn’t be fair to the voters, McConnell told us. The next president should handle that, he said. Besides, he informed us that no president had ever nominated anyone for a Supreme Court seat in his last year in office.

And he was right. Except for Anthony Kennedy, who was nominated by Ronald Reagan in his final year in office. And William Rehnquist and Louis Powell, who were nominated in the last year of Nixon’s first term – you get the idea. But it was really important to the Grim Reaper to prevent President Obama from having a Supreme Court pick in his last year in office, so McConnell made up precedent and put a knee on the neck of Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland.

Now, though, we’re hearing from the other fork of McConnell’s tongue. Somehow his phony precedent doesn’t matter so much, now that Trump is the one doing the nominating. Now McConnell has promised to ram Trump’s pick through the Senate before the November 3 election.

Fourth question: What does that do to your stomach?

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4. American Wars

From Sheila Markin’s recent post:

Trump has called himself a wartime president. Yes, America is at war. Our country has been beset by 4 huge assaults at once.

First, there’s the pandemic which, because of Trump’s interference and mismanagement, has cratered our economy and devastated the lives of Americans, resulting in lost jobs, lost health care, lost health, lost homes, and food insecurity for millions of Americans.

Second, there’s climate change which has created huge raging fires in the West with smoke that turned into cyclones with their own embedded lightning, more powerful hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, and ice caps melting at a rapid rate which will cause sea level rise, imperiling coastal areas.

Third, there is social unrest and mainly peaceful marches to support the Black Lives Matters movement in response to the unfairness documented by cell phone footage proving that people of color are treated horribly and are killed by police in disproportionate numbers.

Fourth, our democracy and cherished “free and fair elections” are being attacked by Russia working in tandem with Trump and Republicans to suppress the vote, discourage Dems from coming to the polls and cast doubt on the reliability of mail-in ballots.

America IS at war and Trump is not on our side.

It’s time for we soldiers to report for duty, leading to the

Fifth question: It appears that we have perfected the art of complacency. It’s time to abandon that dark art in all of these issues before our stomachs go terminal. Are you ready?

From Rosh HaShanah commentary:

“If you want to see God save the innocent, you need to get off the couch and save the innocent. If you want to see God feed the hungry, you need to feed the hungry. If you want to see God stand by while the innocent suffer, all you need to do is stand by and do nothing yourself.” (emphasis original) – by Rabbi Brent Chiam Spodek and Ruth Messinger.

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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.

Here’s How To Fix This


Reading time – 6:15  .  .  .

Preface: Presidential Leadership In The Time of COVID-19

In Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward’s new book Rage we see the words of the President of the United States acknowledging the deadly danger of this disease. He says it will infect “through the air” and is five times more deadly than the “most strenuous flu.” Then he says that he wants to “play it down,” rather than marshal our national resources and the public to fight this pandemic. That’s what he’s done and continues to do, as Americans die.

We don’t have to take Woodward’s word for all of Trump’s deceit because Woodward has audio recordings of their conversations. They are as clear and as damning of this president as can be.

He’s lied to us over and over and put us all at lethal risk. He’s held election rallies that he knew would cause the spread of infections. You could ask Herman Cain about that, but he attended a Trump rally and then died of Covid-19.

Trump has ridiculed those advising and those practicing proper precautions, influencing millions of Americans to refuse those protections. That has unavoidably caused the massive spread of this infection. The result of that behavior is that a lot more people have suffered, a lot more will live with terrible debilitation that may last years and a lot more people have died.

In an Oxford study earlier this year they reported that between 70 – 99% of Covid deaths in the U.S. could have been prevented had this president provided proper leadership. We’ve suffered nearly 200,000 deaths from this disease, so in the most conservative estimate there are 140,000 dead Americans who would still be alive had the President of the United States not been intentionally derelict in his duty.

What is every bit as important is to recognize that the Republicans in Congress have never confronted Trump on this. They’ve said not one word about his intentional and deadly betrayals, even as the CDC projects that we’re headed toward 415,000 Americans dead of COVID-19 by the end of the year.

In fact, the Republicans in Congress have never confronted Trump on anything.

This package of lethal deceit and cowardice is our current reality. It should never happen.

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Here’s How To Fix This

I’ve been clubbing Republicans since the Gingrich Vigilante Inquisition in the 1990s, especially those in the age of Trump. Let me be fair and say from the heart that every bit of it is deserved.

If you disagree, please list in the Comments section following this post the names of all the Republicans in the House and Senate who have done the right thing and stood up to any of Donald Trump’s horribles, be they illegal,  unconstitutional, anti-democracy, culture and values destroying, immoral or cruel. I’ll give you Mitt Romney as a part-time critic; very occasionally, tepidly, Lisa Murkowsky and Susan Collins have spoken up.

Former Senators Jeff Flake and  Bob Corker realized that their days as senators were numbered when they saw that their opposing Trump resulted in the rest of their colleagues hiding under their desks, so they left the Senate. Who are the others in Congress who did more than whisper in the cloak room? I must have missed them when the call to stand and be counted was sounded.

They all knew that Trump attempted to extort President Zelensky of Ukraine, demanding his unconstitutional foreign interference in our 2020 election. Trump pressured him by threatening to withhold from Ukraine desperately needed military assistance. These Republicans also knew that Trump obstructed justice in the investigation of that wrongdoing, yet on an almost complete party line vote (Romney voted yes to obstruction of justice), the Republican controlled Senate voted to acquit this criminal president in his impeachment trial.

Following that Republican disgrace, not one of these cowards has demanded that Trump confront Vladimir Putin about the bounties he’s paying to the Taliban to kill American soldiers. Are you seeing the pattern?

John Bolton outlined a lot of examples of Trump obstructing justice and these legislators knew about many of them even before Bolton’s book was published. The Mueller report outlined 10 specific charges of obstruction of justice (refer to Section II) and they knew about all of those, too. Still, Republican crickets.

These legislators know that Trump has manipulated the Justice Department, too, to get away with his wrongdoing. To put that in perspective, think of those westerns where the bad guy, the wealthy cattle and land baron, has the sheriff and judge on his payroll and in his pocket, enabling him to control and fleece the townspeople. You hated that bad guy, right? Well, now he’s in the Oval Office and Attorney General William Barr is that sheriff and judge in Trump’s pocket. He is yet another Trump crime enabler.

Trump has constructed his swampy Cabinet to benefit himself with no concern at all for ethics, like posting former lobbyists as “acting” department heads. And the Republicans in the Senate, which should have been vetting and rejecting these guys, instead has abdicated their duties and enabled Trump’s swamp to stink yet worse. Congressional Republicans know that he’s crashed through every guardrail of democracy that stood in his way and that he is consistently undermining our international safety and security. Still, these Republicans in Congress sit on their hands.

I ask again, who are the Republicans who have spoken out against Trump’s assault on American bedrock? Show me who has cast a vote against this child tyrant, sitting in his high chair, kicking, screaming and banging his fork and spoon on his tray. They cave in time after time. What happened to the courage of these Republicans? Their cowardice has earned them a Jellyfish Award.

Sadly, the cowardice doesn’t stop on Capitol Hill.

The state government of North Carolina was controlled entirely by Republicans until the 2018 election, when a Democrat was elected governor, although the state house remained in Republican hands. Just before the gubernatorial switch was made the Republican majority in the state house and the outgoing Republican governor (Pat McCrory, the guy who refused to concede and said he wouldn’t leave office) enacted laws to hamstring the incoming Democrat governor. They made it so that he would be unable to undo their horrific voter suppression acts – things like stripping voters’ registrations, closing polling places in college towns and in poor and non-white areas, and requiring IDs that are difficult for many poor people to obtain.

It isn’t just in North Carolina where the Republicans have done these things. They’ve done it in Wisconsin (why are there only 5 polling places – down from 180 – in all of Milwaukee?) and in Kentucky (only 1 poling place in Louisville – the same in Lexington), in Texas (how come it’s so hard to get a mail-in ballot for those under age 65, but for the likely Trump voters – those over 65 – it’s automatic?). And it’s just as cowardly and corrupt as that in yet more states.

Just as for the Congressional Republicans, these state Republicans have earned a Jellyfish Award, too.

We love our equivalencies, be they true or false, so let’s be fair and ask the equivalencies question: Don’t Democrats do such things, too?

Of course they do. Or, rather, they have. But Democrats haven’t tried to suppress anyone’s vote for a really long time. If you think I got that wrong, please note your examples below.

We’ve known since at least kindergarten that cheating must be punished or it will continue and become worse. Indeed, we’ve seen that worsening happen in the Trump administration every day since January 20, 2017, with Congressional Republicans remaining silent all the while. What is the proper punishment for our spineless, cowardly Republicans? Try this:

VOTE THEM OUT OF OFFICE – EVERY ONE OF THEM!

Okay, let’s be reasonable. We need traditional conservatives to repopulate the Republican Party into something that doesn’t look like it came from the House of Horrors. The ones who must go are the Trump Republicans, the Freedom Party wackos and every one who chickened out and refused to speak up. You know who they are. Give them the boot – every one of them.

Click me to hear a speech by a 17 year old kid that’s better than anything Trump has done.

I don’t know Emma Gonzalez, survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre and co-founder of Never Again, but I’ve seen her work. I feel confident she and her generation will call “BS!” to Trump and to our Republican jellyfish. The rest of us must do the same.

The past 4 years have been a most amazing demonstration of both fraud and Congressional cowardice. It’s time to put an end to this reign of terror.

NOTE: I’m not a registered anything and certainly am not a Democrat shill. I used to think of myself as an Eisenhower Republican, but that’s pretty much an extinct species. There are a few proud Republicans (mostly former) with starch in their spines and I’ll be publishing a list of some of them on September 30. We’re counting on those folks to resuscitate the Republican Party once our long national nightmare is over. Until they do, it’s up to us to fix this.

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The Simple, Clear, Non-negotiable Marching Orders To Beat Covid-19

 

  1. Wear a mask in public.
  2. Socially distance.
  3. Wash your hands often.
  4. Put your damn mask on.

——————————

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.

A Critically Important View From Europe


Reading time – 7:15  .  .  .

Presidential Befoulment of the Military Update

It has been 3 days since the foul statements of Donald Trump about our military were exposed. To date, not a single Congressional Republican has spoken out against his cruel, disparaging words and behavior. Not one.

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The G7 Summit is scheduled to meet virtually in November or perhaps later. In anticipation of that and our mail-in ballot season, some notion of how the rest of the world sees America is crucial, because America’s world leadership is on life support. That makes our election choices and actions critical.

A friend forwarded the opinion piece below from The Irish Times (many thanks to JS) and it gives us a view into what America looks like from a European democracy. Consider it in the context of my piece last April, Absolute Power, as well as the closing section of Potpourri v11.0 – The “How Can We Be This Stupid?” Edition.


Donald Trump Has Destroyed The Country He Promised To Make Great Again
The world has loved, hated and envied the U.S. Now for the first time, we pity it.

Irish Times-April 25, 2020 – By Fintan O’Toole

Over more than two centuries, the United States has stirred a very wide range of feelings in the rest of the world: love and hatred, fear and hope, envy and contempt, awe and anger. But there is one emotion that has never been directed towards the US until now: pity.

However bad things are for most other rich democracies, it is hard not to feel sorry for Americans. Most of them did not vote for Donald Trump in 2016. Yet they are locked down with a malignant narcissist who, instead of protecting his people from Covid-19, has amplified its lethality. The country Trump promised to make great again has never in its history seemed so pitiful.

Will American prestige ever recover from this shameful episode? The US went into the coronavirus crisis with immense advantages: precious weeks of warning about what was coming, the world’s best concentration of medical and scientific expertise, effectively limitless financial resources, a military complex with stunning logistical capacity and most of the world’s leading technology corporations. Yet it managed to make itself the global epicenter of the pandemic.

As the American writer George Packer puts it in the current edition of the Atlantic, “The United States reacted … like Pakistan or Belarus – like a country with shoddy infrastructure and a dysfunctional government whose leaders were too corrupt or stupid to head off mass suffering.”

It is one thing to be powerless in the face of a natural disaster, quite another to watch vast power being squandered in real time – willfully, malevolently, vindictively. It is one thing for governments to fail (as, in one degree or another, most governments did), quite another to watch a ruler and his supporters actively spread a deadly virus. Trump, his party and Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News became vectors of the pestilence.

The grotesque spectacle of the president openly inciting people (some of them armed) to take to the streets to oppose the restrictions that save lives is the manifestation of a political death wish. What are supposed to be daily briefings on the crisis, demonstrative of national unity in the face of a shared challenge, have been used by Trump merely to sow confusion and division. They provide a recurring horror show in which all the neuroses that haunt the American subconscious dance naked on live TV.

If the plague is a test, its ruling political nexus ensured that the US would fail it at a terrible cost in human lives. In the process, the idea of the US as the world’s leading nation – an idea that has shaped the past century – has all but evaporated.

Other than the Trump impersonator Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, who is now looking to the US as the exemplar of anything other than what not to do? How many people in Düsseldorf or Dublin are wishing they lived in Detroit or Dallas?

It is hard to remember now but, even in 2017, when Trump took office, the conventional wisdom in the US was that the Republican Party and the broader framework of US political institutions would prevent him from doing too much damage. This was always a delusion, but the pandemic has exposed it in the most savage ways.

What used to be called mainstream conservatism has not absorbed Trump – he has absorbed it. Almost the entire right-wing half of American politics has surrendered abjectly to him. It has sacrificed on the altar of wanton stupidity the most basic ideas of responsibility, care and even safety.

Thus, even at the very end of March, 15 Republican governors had failed to order people to stay at home or to close non-essential businesses. In Alabama, for example, it was not until April 3rd that governor Kay Ivey finally issued a stay-at-home order.

In Florida, the state with the highest concentration of elderly people with underlying conditions, governor Ron DeSantis, a Trump mini-me, kept the beach resorts open to students travelling from all over the US for spring break parties. Even on April 1st, when he issued restrictions, DeSantis exempted religious services and “recreational activities”.

Georgia governor Brian Kemp, when he finally issued a stay-at-home order on April 1st, explained: “We didn’t know that [the virus can be spread by people without symptoms] until the last 24 hours.”

This is not mere ignorance – it is deliberate and homicidal stupidity. There is, as the demonstrations this week in US cities have shown, plenty of political mileage in denying the reality of the pandemic. It is fueled by Fox News and far-right internet sites, and it reaps for these politicians millions of dollars in donations, mostly (in an ugly irony) from older people who are most vulnerable to the coronavirus.

It draws on a concoction of conspiracy theories, hatred of science, paranoia about the “deep state” and religious providentialism (God will protect the good folks) that is now very deeply infused in the mindset of the American right.

Trump embodies and enacts this mindset, but he did not invent it. The US response to the coronavirus crisis has been paralyzed by a contradiction that the Republicans have inserted into the heart of US democracy. On the one hand, they want to control all the levers of governmental power. On the other they have created a popular base by playing on the notion that government is innately evil and must not be trusted.

The contradiction was made manifest in two of Trump’s statements on the pandemic: on the one hand that he has “total authority;” and on the other that “I don’t take responsibility at all”. Caught between authoritarian and anarchic impulses, he is incapable of coherence.

But this is not just Donald Trump. The crisis has shown definitively that Trump’s presidency is not an aberration. It has grown on soil long prepared to receive it. The monstrous blossoming of misrule has structure and purpose and strategy behind it.

There are very powerful interests who demand “freedom” in order to do as they like with the environment, society and the economy. They have infused a very large part of American culture with the belief that “freedom” is literally more important than life. My freedom to own assault weapons trumps your right not to get shot at school. Now, my freedom to go to the barber (“I Need a Haircut” read one banner this week in St Paul, Minnesota) trumps your need to avoid infection.

Usually when this kind of outlandish idiocy is displaying itself, there is the comforting thought that, if things were really serious, it would all stop. People would sober up. Instead, a large part of the US has hit the bottle even harder.  And the president, his party and their media allies keep supplying the drinks. There has been no moment of truth, no shock of realization that the antics have to end. No one of any substance on the US right has stepped in to say: get a grip, people are dying here.

That is the mark of how deep the trouble is for the US – it is not just that Trump has treated the crisis merely as a way to feed tribal hatreds but that this behavior has become normalized. When the freak show is live on TV every evening, and the star is boasting about his ratings, it is not really a freak show anymore. For a very large and solid bloc of Americans, it is reality.

And this will get worse before it gets better. Trump has at least eight more months in power. In his inaugural address in 2017, he evoked “American carnage” and promised to make it stop. But now that the real carnage has arrived, he is reveling in it. He is in his element.

As things get worse, he will pump more hatred and falsehood, more death-wish defiance of reason and decency, into the groundwater. If a new administration succeeds him in 2021, it will have to clean up the toxic dump he leaves behind. If he is re-elected, toxicity will have become the lifeblood of American politics.

Either way, it will be a long time before the rest of the world can imagine America being great again.

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If this report seems far-fetched; if the perspective seems far too narrow; if you’re inclined to dismiss this as just one disgruntled Irish guy opining, then I urge you to have a look at Tom McTague’s essay from London in The Atlantic entitled “The Decline of the American World.” Be clear that Trump is engineering that very thing. E.g. last week Trump announced that we won’t participate in the worldwide effort to develop a vaccine to battle Covid-19. What do you suppose that looks like from abroad?

From McTague’s post:

Bruno Maceas, Portugal’s former Europe minister, whose book The Dawn of Eurasia looks at the rise of Chinese power, told me, “The collapse of the American empire is a given; we are just trying to figure out what will replace it.”

You can check with the folks at Gallup for more. Here’s a recent graph of how Europeans view American leadership. The charts for how Asians and people in the Americas see American leadership look the same. Be clear that the rising black line on the right represents increasing disapproval of U.S. leadership over the past 3 years.

On the left of the graph you can see the high disapproval of the leadership of George W. Bush. Then there were eight strong years of approval for American leadership during the Obama administration (the green line). Now Trump has managed to achieve the highest leadership disapproval of America by our global neighbors. Ever. This is what Trump’s destruction of alliances and his sucking up to tyrants have done to our place in the world. Click the chart and read the report for yourself.

Consider if you were accosted by a street tough. You likely wouldn’t respect him. On the other hand, you’d be keenly aware of have and great respect for the assault rifle and semi-automatic pistol he carried and you would be exceedingly clear about the destruction and chaos they can cause. It’s quite the same for the the way the world views the United States of Trump.

Finally, five years ago the offices of the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo were attacked and eleven of its staff were murdered by Islamist terrorists affiliated with al Qaeda. The trial of some accomplices to those murders began last Wednesday and Charlie Hebdo once again published the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed and Islam that triggered the attack. Once again they’ve put a stake in the ground to declare freedom of the press will not be stifled. So, once again we can all declare, Je suis Charlie.

——————————-

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.

Compare and Contrast – Guest Essay


Reading time – 4:39  .  .  .

Immediately following the DNC convention and Joe BIden’s speech, regular reader and sometimes commenter Dan Giallombardo felt the need to put his reactions in writing. He gave me permission to show you his offering in this guest essay. It’s being posted today both so that you can appreciate his message and to see it in contrast to four days of the RNC/Trump hatefest. Keep in mind that Dan is a veteran of decades of political contests, so he knows what he’s seeing. Many thanks to Dan for his essay.

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Over the past three years and eight months a dark, sinister veil has fallen over the United States. Once our prestige in the international community was unchallenged. Now we are viewed as a “has been,” and “fools in the marketplace.” We have a president who is viewed as an amoral clown, a carnival barker for the Big Con.

Tonight, Joe Biden accepted the Democratic party’s nomination for President of the United States and the first small beams of light came through the darkness – the first small rays of light in a long, dark and bitterly cold night. Tonight, Joe Biden reminded us of what hope looks like. In 1972, RIchard Nixon won the election with 60.7% of the vote. Were the election held today, based on his acceptance speech, Biden’s victory would make Nixon’s win a Presidential footnote.

But the election is still 73 days away. A lot can happen in that amount of time. We must not be given to the illusion that because Biden is ahead in the polls that this election will be an easy, dignified one. It’s not going to be. It will be an alley fight wherein we will scratch and claw for every vote we can find.

Donald Trump is not a man of graceful action. He will fight for this, and he will lie about everything. I worry that he and Barr have cooked up some “October surprise” for us. We must be vigilant and guard against that.

Biden’s Thursday night speech reminded me of the title of the  book by President Barrack Obama: The Audacity of Hope; that’s what Biden was offering us. His vision of hope and the confidence he has in the American people—all of us—black, brown, yellow white, red, we are all  members of this Great Republic in which we are so fortunate to live. But Joe Biden also reminded us of the gravity of President Obama’s words the night before: if we re-elect Trump, it will be the end of our democracy. Not an idea to be taken lightly, but neither is Trump.

Like a wounded animal he will try everything to win. And like a wounded animal, he doesn’t care who gets hurt in the process. As long as Donald is on top, which brings up another point.

Over 170,000 Americans have died from Covid-19. Joe Biden mourns with them; he has a far too intimate experience with the kind of grief that comes from having one’s family torn apart. He mourns for them; he mourns with them. It’s called empathy. The current occupant of the Oval Office dismisses these deaths with a glib remark: “It is what it is.” Nowhere near my idea of leadership.

The man who tonight began to show us the light in the darkness, took to task the “bone-spur-cadet” in the White House. For five months the US has battled for its life against Covid-19, as the man in the Oval Office has used braggadocio and lies to con the American people into believing that he’s very effectively dealing with the crisis and “We’re making great progress with a vaccine.”

Joe Biden addressed that issue in his speech; he spoke of what he would do to stop the virus. Biden has a plan; not bragging, not lying; a plan to fight and beat the virus. A virus that has killed over 170,000 Americans; ONE-HUNDRED-SEVENTY-THOUSAND AMERICANS. No matter how you present that number it comes out obscene.

In a speech that pushed back some of  the darkness, Biden rightly raged at the indifference shown by the current administration to the bounties placed on the heads of American soldiers in Afghanistan. He pointedly referred to the current occupant of the Oval Office—just in case there was ever any doubt about who he was rightly accusing.

For those of us fortunate to have been alive during the administration of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, we have the memory of how he made us feel. He brought vigor, vision and leadership to the office of the President, not cheeseburgers and Cokes. When Kennedy spoke the world listened. When Trump speaks the world places its collective hand over its mouth so as not to be seen laughing.

John Kennedy was blessed with eloquence. In his inaugural speech, he made reference to “the torch;” he was referring to the torch of liberty; the same one that is held high by the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. His words still ring out: “Let the word go forth, from this time and place, that the torch has been passed  .  .  .”

Today we are the bearers of that torch. It is incumbent upon us to keep it burning, up to us to pass it on to those who follow us. We are creating their tomorrow right now.

Finally,

Motivational speaker Les Brown used to say, “You have to know what you stand for, or you’ll fall for anything.” He was right of course, and these times are just like all others, in that we are always being tested. The world challenges us to know what we stand for. In these dangerous times, it’s especially important to be clear.

Jacob Blake, a Black father in Kenosha, WI, was gunned down at point blank range; the White officer had a grip on Blake’s shirt as he fired his gun. The cop shot Blake in the back seven times. Blake was unarmed and posed no risk of violence, yet was shot right in front of his three children. What would you do if Blake were a friend of yours? What would you do if you were horrified that one of yours – a fellow human being – had been maliciously gunned down?

The NBA playoffs are ongoing, but the players know this injustice and they just wouldn’t have it. They walked out, refusing to play game 2 on Wednesday night, this as a statement of protest, as well as showing solidarity with the victim of this police violence, as well as with his family and against racial injustice. These men know what they stand for and they’re telling us about it publicly.

Ignore for the moment the galactically cynical, mean spirited comments of presidential whisperer Jared Kushner that somehow managed to conflate the NBA players’ statement of principle about racial injustice with their salaries. And ignore Mike Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short’s whataboutism, whining that the NBA players didn’t protest things China has done. Yes, he really did say that. Clearly we know what those two stand for. Let me put this into proper context for them and all who are objecting to protests by sports figures.

People are being shot and strangled and beaten by cops and vigilantes every day. Some people of principle are speaking out – and you’re whining because you can’t watch a basketball game. Get a grip on reality and try to imagine that the world is not solely about you.

We are each called to know what we stand for and to stand up and be counted over and over. We know that there’s nothing new in cops killing unarmed Blacks. What’s new is video showing the true horror of what goes on regularly. We cannot unlearn what we have learned. George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and now Jacob Blake are real people, not some ink on a newspaper page or a brief mention on the 10:00 o’clock news. It’s time for all of us to stand and be counted, like the NBA players and the crowds of protesters in every city in America and around the world in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, lest we fall for something terribly sinister and awful.

—————————————-

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.

Desperate To Look Like a Winner


Reading time – 1:44  .  .  .

Trump gambles with American lives so he can brag

As suggested in an interview with Dr. Stephen Hahn, head of the Food and Drug Administration, he was under extreme pressure from our “Public Health”First” president to issue emergency use authorization for treatments and preventives for Covid-19. Emergency use authorization (“EUA”) means giving the okay to meds or procedures that have not been fully vetted to ensure they are safe to use (i.e. won’t kill the patient) and that they actually do some good (efficacy). And now it’s happened.

The FDA has issued an EUA for convalescent plasma therapy. That’s a procedure where the blood plasma from a person who has had Covid-19 and recovered is injected into a patient suffering from the disease. The theory is that the antibodies in the plasma from the donor will fight the disease in the recipient. There was a statistically small beneficial effect for a narrow band of patients from this procedure in a trial at Mayo Clinic. So far it appears to be safe, but that’s not proven, and its efficacy has not been fully tested. In other words, according to the FDA’s guidelines, it isn’t ready for prime time. But it’s approved now, thanks to Dr. Trump’s manipulation. Recall his success in prescribing hydroxychloroquin and how that worked out for patients.

In the face of the scientific clarity that this procedure is chancy at best, Trump has pressured Dr. Hahn into authorizing this procedure right before the Republican National Convention. Without reality to support her, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has already announced that this procedure is a “major therapeutic breakthrough.”

Expect to hear waves of superlatives from Trump about himself as the protector of the people and some form of “Only I can beat this pandemic.” Expect this treatment to be described by Trump as “like nothing you’ve ever seen before,” “the greatest thing medicine has ever developed,” “We’re now winning the battle against the pandemic thanks to my strong leadership,” and more.

How odd, then, that over the weekend Trump tweeted that the FDA is part of the “deep state” that only he can crush. Odd, too, that economist Peter Navarro, Assistant to the President, Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, would confront FDA officials, pressuring them with, “You are all Deep State and you need to get on Trump Time.” Exactly how would he know a thing about what it takes to ensure safe and effective meds? Would you trust your life to Peter Navarro?

Don’t expect to hear from the FDA about its abandoning its own rules and ethics, as yet another department of government caves in to Trump in yet another of his epic tantrums to make the entire world about him and to get what he wants.

Too bad for the Covid-19 patients who learn that they were given false hope in Trump’s campaign to manipulate the election.

Be sure to read this post from Mike Murphy, a sane, formerly Republican consultant, on what can happen.

—————————————-

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.

Gaming Out the Election


Reading time – 5:25  .  .  .

Friend Mel passed along a link to a USA Today article which reported an exercise that was conducted by both red and blue pundits who gamed out the upcoming election. The report said:

“After gaming out various scenarios, the group said its conclusions were ‘alarming:’ In an election taking place amid a pandemic, a recession and rising political polarization, the group found a substantial risk of legal battles, a contested outcome, violent street clashes and even a constitutional impasse.”

Click through and read the frightening essay after reading this post. It is guaranteed to keep you awake at night. On the other hand, it’s highly likely that nothing in the essay will surprise you.

With any luck, Biden’s team is gaming this out for themselves and is prepared both to defend against Trump’s anticipated outrageous malfeasance and to go on offense to protect the election and the nation.

Trump knows no boundaries, so expect more strategy-free actions to promote himself, like sudden and complete U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan with absolutely no plan for or consideration of consequences. He would do that just so that he can claim a bigly win right before the election. That’s the kind of thing that has to be gamed out by Biden’s team, because Trump would do even worse. That’s especially important in light of the 20th anniversary of Bush v. Gore. There’s a history lesson from that mess of an election that applies to today.

The question was what to do with the very problematic intermediate Florida election results, a decision that would determine the winner of the presidential election. Have a look at this piece of the dissent to the 5-4 Supreme Court decision in favor of Bush:

“What must underlie petitioners’ entire federal assault on the Florida election procedures is an unstated lack of confidence in the impartiality and capacity of the state judges who would make the critical decisions if the vote count were to proceed. Otherwise, their position is wholly without merit. The endorsement of that position by the majority of this Court can only lend credence to the most cynical appraisal of the work of judges throughout the land. It is confidence in the men and women who administer the judicial system that is the true backbone of the rule of law. Time will one day heal the wound to that confidence that will be inflicted by today’s decision. One thing, however, is certain. Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law. [emphasis mine]”

That was written by Justice John Paul Stevens, with Justices Breyer and Ginsburg concurring.

They were right. Confidence in the judiciary in general has fallen precipitously since that decision. Confidence in the Supreme Court itself dropped 15% following the Citizens United debacle in 2010. That was predicted by Justice Stevens in his blistering dissent and no amount of Justice Scalia’s arrogant certitude could stop the loss of respect for the Supreme Court. Making things worse, Trump has delivered a regular drum beat of infantile tantrums attacking the courts when he doesn’t get his way, further undermining confidence in our judiciary.*

The point of inserting the Bush v. Gore reference is concern about public acceptance of any judicial decision affecting our upcoming election. Indeed, Bush v. Gore was an enormous trust killer for millions of Americans. By extension, it raises concerns for our 2020 election if a judicial decision goes against what Trump supporters want. Indeed, in 2016 Trump predicted violence in the streets if he were to lose the Republican nomination, almost giving permission to his supporters to be destructive.

Bear in mind that he has been undermining the judiciary and stoking violence since 2015. He announced that he would pay the legal fees for supporters at his rallies who physically attack protesters. He told us there were “good people on both sides” in Charlottesville, even as one side was threatening violence. And he had his goons attack Black Lives Matter protesters in 7 cities. Clearly, he encourages violence.

The point is that those dissenting justices in the Bush v. Gore case were right. Judicial decisions that are adverse to Trump are almost certain to be disrespected and rejected by his supporters. That’s driven in large measure because of the loss of confidence in our courts and the disrespect for our system of justice that has been building for years. Trump has orchestrated the worsening of this, fanning the flames of anger and violence.

Speaking to the despair, anger and self-hatred in America, Anne Applebaum wrote in her new book, Twilight of Democracy, quoting Donald Trump:

“You know what solves [this]? When the economy crashes, when the country goes to total hell and everything is a disaster. Then you’ll have  .  .  .  riots to go back to where we used to be when we were great.”

And here we are with a crashed economy and so much is a mess, a disaster even, while at the same time respect for our institutions, including the judiciary and the rule of law, is at such a low ebb. Note, too, how frighteningly close Trump’s prediction of violence is to that of the folks who recently gamed out our upcoming election (see above).

We aren’t just in strange times; we are in times that may transform into physically perilous times. Whatever firmament we used to have has become a leaky boat in a hurricane.

Back to Bush v. Gore for a moment:

In a later full counting of all votes cast in that election as tracked down by numerous investigative reporters Gore won Florida by 537 votes. But Chief Justice Rehnquist had announced the Supreme Court’s decision to stop the counting of votes in Florida, which gave the state and the presidency to Bush. It is accurately said that elections have consequences. So do judicial decisions.

That Gore wasn’t sworn in as president brought us 9/11 (Bush ignored multiple warnings of an imminent attack); two continuing, fraudulently crafted wars (justified by lies too numerous to list); Bush’s refusal to capture Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora, which led to the invasion of Afghanistan and an episodic backward march of the goal posts; the effectively homicidal Katrina response; the financial meltdown of 2008; a decimated State Department and alienated allies; and the grossly expanded national debt through starting two wars and cutting taxes at the same time. All of that and more hinged on a judicial decision.

The conservative Supreme Court justices got their way in the Bush v. Gore case. They also got their way in disemboweling the Voting Rights Act and by supporting states’ actions to create massive voter suppression. Those decisions, complemented by Citizens United and other decisions harmful to We the People undermined confidence in the rule of law. And for the past four years that’s been joined by Trump’s cheating, lying, stoking violence and hatred and even insurrection.

All of that is why it’s so important that Biden’s team is gaming out everything so that they are ready.

We can’t change public trust in the judiciary in just the next 75 days, so there is literally only one way to ensure we protect against further deterioration of our democracy and create a hedge against violence in our streets:

We must vote to create an overwhelming defeat of Donald Trump in November.

If you doubt that, just recall the mobs of angry people who stormed the Michigan and Ohio state houses in May. Many were carrying guns. Many were brandishing semi-automatic weapons. The threat of violence if they didn’t get their way couldn’t have been clearer. And those demonstrations were just to protest efforts to stop Covid-19. In the absence of an overwhelming defeat of Trump in November, what do you think those people and others similarly inclined will do?

The pundits reported in the USA Today piece were gaming out the upcoming election. But this is no game. This is life and death for people in our streets and for our democracy itself.

———————-

Covid Corner 1-2-3

1. From STAT, reporting on seemingly random distribution of face masks by the Trump administration:

“A 140-student charter school in Florida received 37,500 masks [from the Trump administration], for instance. A beekeeping company got 500 masks as an “emergency services” provider, and despite reports of Covid-19 cases in hundreds of facilities, few poultry producers received any masks. ‘If you can’t find a method to the madness a few months later, it may mean it’s all madness,’ Juliette Kayyem, a former Obama administration-era homeland security official tells STAT. “Where did those masks actually go?” Read more here.”

2. Be sure to print last Wednesday’s post; then cut out and tape the face mask graphic to your refrigerator and front door, per instructions.

And check out this from “STAT.” It’s a confirmation and update of what you learned from your Required Reading about the spread of the pandemic in the July 15 post.

3. Headlines of the Week

Dumb story:

‘This is no longer a debate’: Florida sheriff bans deputies, visitors from wearing masks

Tragic Story:

Finally,

Admiral (Ret.) William McRaven was the top guy of our Navy Seals and the head of all of our Special Operations Forces worldwide when they captured Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden and when they rescued Captain Phillips. He is a greatly decorated veteran and scoffs at the title “hero;” nevertheless, that’s what you’ll call him when you read his book, Sea Stories. Better yet, get the audio book and listen to him tell his stories in his own voice.

Further, click here to take in his commencement address at the University of Texas (Austin) in 2014. Then go make your bed. You’ll understand that last after you watch his 19 minute video.

Most important for right now, read Admiral McRaven’s essay in The Washington Post regarding our upcoming election. He gets this right.

———————-

* From the apolitical University of Denver Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) blog last September:

James Lyons, a longtime lawyer and one-time diplomat, offers the view that President Trump’s attacks on our judges and the rule of law undermine the legitimacy of the legal system in unprecedented ways.

Here’s a link to Lyons’ paper, “Trump and the Attack on the Rule of Law.”

—————————————-

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.

Covid-19 Safety – In Pictures


Reading time – 1:17  .  .  .

This is for all 250,000 bikers returning from the Harley Davidson festival in Sturgis, SD. And for the people who just have to attend a Covid-19 party in a bar. And those who want to walk the school hallways the way they used to. And the people who feel put upon by public officials. And the science deniers. And the frustrated, self-focused people in stores which require they wear a mask, so they have a temper tantrum and trash others’ property. And for the other deniers, rebels and over-proud Americans with a chip on their shoulder. And the Trump suck-up governors who not only won’t mandate mask wearing, but prohibit city mayors from doing so. Who am I missing?

                 Better <<<<<<<           >>>>>>>Worser

                                          Mask Type

The safest masks are on the left; the chancier ones are on the right. Here’s the science for these charts. Read it and wear.

To make this mask business easier to understand, please refer to the graphic below. Then print this post twice, cut out the graphic and tape one copy to your refrigerator and the other to your front door.

“If everybody [wears a mask], we’re each protecting each other,” says Dr. Anthony Fauci, the United States’ leading infectious disease expert.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAUTION: Snark lurks below.

 

Thanks to JHA for the colors and shapes snark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We all want the economy to come back, but that simply and absolutely cannot happen until we defeat this pandemic and feel safe enough to go back to work, go back to school, go shopping and go traveling. So, focusing on the economy or any of the other critical issues that we face is of secondary importance because we can’t tackle them successfully when we’re medically hobbled. If we’re to beat this pandemic we must follow the

Simple, Clear and Non-negotiable Marching Orders
  1. Wear a mask.
  2. Socially distance.
  3. Wash your hands often.
  4. Put your damn mask on.

Pretending these rules aren’t mandatory is a trip to fantasy land, where all your worst nightmares come true. If someone you’ve been exposed to comes down with Covid-19, trust me when I tell you that your world will be turned upside down in ways you cannot now contemplate. I know this because we just lived it. So, unless you want to spend the rest of your life in your awful nightmares, follow the

Simple, Clear and Non-negotiable Marching Orders
  1. Wear a mask
  2. Socially distance
  3. Wash your hands
  4. Put your damn mask on.

Click me

Nobody wants your cooties and you don’t want theirs.

Many thanks to Rick Rochelle of All American Leadership for the graphics.

——————————-

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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