Georgia

The Chinese Century via Bioweapon


Reading time – 4:10  .  .  .

I’ve written many times about the likelihood of this becoming the Chinese century and the many things we’re doing (or not doing) to make that a reality. We pay a huge price for our shortsightedness and small thinking.

We’ve been complacent since our 1950s dominance of the world economy, riding our then-intact manufacturing base, the only country in the world to have one. Then we pretended for decades that the world economic power it created for us still existed. But it didn’t and it doesn’t and we’ve actually enthusiastically created the path for our economic demise through short term thinking and behavior. That’s why so many millions of manufacturing jobs disappeared. And our constant kicking the can down the road instead of rebuilding and enhancing our infrastructure has left us weak. Now, though, there’s another more urgent threat to our world leadership.

Bob Woodward’s book Rage includes an examination of Covid-19 and it details comments from Robert O’Brien, National Security Advisor. Before you dismiss him out of hand because he is just another of Trump’s revolving door cavalcade of advisors, read what follows, lifted directly from Woodward’s book (p. 333), referencing comments by O’Brien on June 11, 2020:

O’Brien continued, “It appears that they closed down travel all through China so that this disease couldn’t get to Shanghai or Beijing and other key cities. But at the same time they’re letting other folks travel from Wuhan to all over Europe and infected Europe and infected the United States. That’s not good. But whatever happened the Chinese have repurposed it into a bioweapon. And they’re using it, they’re attempting to take advantage of Covid to gain a geopolitical advantage over the United States and the free world, and to displace the United States as the leading power in the world.” [emphasis mine]

O’Brien said since Covid “hit the whole world, they’re using it with what they call their wolf diplomacy and for a long time they were attempting to trade PPE to get access for Huawei [5G provider with systems that allow the Chinese government to spy on users, including us] into countries. They were bullying countries into thanking them. They were bullying countries into saying things about the U.S. But overall, the theme is that they, as an authoritarian government, with all their surveillance state and their concentration camps and all that sort of thing, offer a better alternative for the world, a more efficient alternative, a kind of weird nationalistic, technocratic alternative to the world that’s better than liberal democracy. And Covid is an example of why the world should embrace China and Chinese values, and the Chinese form of hybrid capitalistic-mercantilist-communist government.

O’Brien said, “they’re taking every measure possible during this crisis to displace the United States. And we’ve got a hell of a fight on our hands.” [emphasis mine]

O’Brien concluded the consequences were dire. “If we lose our economic edge and we lose our economic might and stay closed for too much longer, we might be in a position where we couldn’t stay ahead or maybe we’d get behind and couldn’t catch up.”

CDC chief Dr. Robert Redfield had something to say about this, too (p. 332):

“It was difficult to understand how China had aggressive travel restrictions within China, and yet did not move to any travel restrictions” for people who wanted to leave China and go abroad, Redfield said.

“They really locked down Wuhan at one point. I think they quarantined over 11 million people. You couldn’t go from Wuhan to Beijing, but you could go Wuhan to London.”

Trump has done little to deal with the Chinese efforts beyond childish name calling. There have been no aggressive steps to lead Americans to safe behaviors to counter the pandemic; worse, he has given dangerous advice and helped to spread the disease. Nothing has been done at the federal level to make it safe to “reopen” our economy or begin to rebuild our economic might, which puts us further behind.

We are in the international fight of our lives – for our lives. We either face the reality of Chinese economic, military and political might or we will become a second rate nation.

This is the challenge the Biden administration faces on day one, even as we’re hobbled by disease. We’re all going to have to learn to walk and chew gum at the same time and we’ll have to stop fighting ourselves immediately, or the consequences for us will be terrible. We’ll have to face up to the danger before us and stop whining about a little inconvenience or even large personal impacts and instead support one another through our health and economic suffering and recovery. Prosperity and international leadership will require universal sacrifice for our common good. The question that will stay with us is whether we still have it in us as a nation to do that.

Some of the cost of complacency is incremental, like the chipping away at our industrial base; some happens faster. Regardless, complacency is a guarantee of our demise. I’m reminded of Hemmingway’s words in The Sun Also Rises, when his character is asked how he went bankrupt. He replied, “Gradually, then suddenly.”

We love to think of ourselves as extraordinary, that we are blessed with American exceptionalism. As gratifying to us as that may feel, we undermine ourselves with our self-congratulation. As I wrote in one of the essays referencing this becoming the Chinese century,

The problem with American exceptionalism is that we assume a superiority that isn’t always warranted. That doesn’t make us exceptional.

But we could be.

We’re already late in building 21st century America. It’s time to take action, to accept the necessary sacrifices and get on board that train to the future. And it better be a high speed train. The chief obstacle to that will be obstructionist Republicans in Congress who may rediscover the awfulness of deficits, now that a Democrat will be in the White House. They are in the way of our exceptionalism.

Mitch McConnell is the leader of the Republican wall of obstruction to progress. His Senate filibustered nearly everything Obama tried to accomplish for the first six years of the Obama administration, including efforts they themselves had championed before January 20, 2009. They effectively eliminated a fundamental tenet of our society: majority rule. For the two years after that McConnell was the majority leader in the Senate and he refused to bring most legislation proposed by Obama or any Democrat to the floor of the Senate for a vote.

We are paying the price for that wall to progress right now and McConnell’s obstructionism is going to continue during the Biden administration. There’s only one way to limit the damage he and his Republican agents of despair can do to America and the pain they inflict on you and me. It is to put Senate leadership into the control of Democrats so that the obstructions to progress can be minimized and we can begin to build our 21st century.

The January 5 double Senate run-off elections in Georgia give us the opportunity to create a 50-50 headcount in the Senate, which will strip Senate leadership and much of the power to obstruct from McConnell. For that to happen we have to do everything in our power to remove the two corrupt sitting senators from Georgia and replace them with honest brokers for We the People. Your part is to help to make that happen.

Go to this link and do all you can. If you’d like to understand this more, I strongly suggest that you read Sheila Markin’s excellent post.

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Ed. note: It has been said that the soon-to-be former president has lived in our heads rent-free for over 5 years, starting with his birtherism slander. That is what constant outrageousness and sensationalism can do, as every circus sideshow barker knows. But our national eviction notice has been posted. The squatter will be gone on January 20 and there’s a permanent

sign for him and every other ego-maniacal tyrant. I recommend that you post a similar sign for your own head.

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

Potporri – v 13.0


Reading time – 5:44  .  .  .

Culture Wars

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

Culture clash case in point

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Race In America, Year 401

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

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

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

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

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

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  • A Covid Vaccine and You

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

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

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

Click me for the story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Divided Government

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • —————————————-

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

    1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
    2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

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

    JA


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

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