face mask

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.

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.

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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.

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* 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.”

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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.

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.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Fun With Numbers and The Trump CCC


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Fun With Numbers

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

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

Trump’s CCC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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