lies

I’m No Anti-Vaxxer


Reading time – 6:14  .  .  .

Conspiracy theories about vaccines abound. As well, reasonable, science based objections have made solid challenges to vaccines, too. Regardless, history tells us that blind acceptance of vaccines probably isn’t a good idea.

Take, for instance, the recent comments of FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn. He insisted that any Covid-19 vaccine would have to “adhere to standards” for safety and efficacy. Perfect. We want to know that a vaccine or med we take to protect us both works and is safe. That’s especially important reassurance now, given the enormous political pressure being applied to develop a vaccine by election day. That’s where this story grows dark.

Dr. Stephen Hahn, Commissioner, FDA

Trump is making fantastical claims that we’ll have a vaccine by the election. Sometimes he makes solid promises – “We’ll have 100 million doses by November.” Sometimes they’re typical Trump vacuous teasers – “might be,” “very soon,” “like you’ve never seen before,”  “I think in some cases, yes possibly before [the November election], but right around that time,” “It will be unbelievable,” etc. Side note: He uses the word “unbelievable” like a circus sideshow barker to describe nearly everything he is promoting or claiming as a victory for himself. When he does that I know that he is at last speaking truth: it probably is unbelievable; i.e. not worthy of our belief. Back to the main point.

Nearly every time Trump speaks about the pandemic, fiction comes from his mouth in an avalanche, as he struggles to paper over his abject failure to meet the challenge. Note that when he at last admitted in March that the pandemic is here and is a big deal, he said we’re fighting a war and that he’s a wartime president. If that’s so, then it’s fair to say that he’s lost nearly every battle and the enemy is winning this war decisively. That’s why he’s desperate to have a vaccine before the election. His eagerness has nothing to do with your health.

So, Trump is leaning hard on the doctors, scientists, epidemiologists, researchers and pharma company CEOs to bail out his sinking wartime command ship. The good news is what Hahn said about adhering to standards. What you probably didn’t hear is that he left the door open to “emergency use authorization” of vaccines that haven’t yet “adhered to standards.” It’s a bit like chancey, off-label use of a drug; for example, hydroxychloroquine.

As you likely know, it’s a drug used to treat patients with malaria. That, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are the sole FDA authorized uses of this drug. Fairly early in this pandemic somebody decided to try using it to treat Covid-19. In fact it was given FDA off-label authorization for that use – right up until our VA hospitals realized that they were killing our vets with hydroxychloroquine. That’s when the FDA rescinded the off-label use of the drug.

To be fair, there are reputable criticisms that suggest that hydroxychloroquine wasn’t used properly, in that it wasn’t used in conjunction with medically significant adjunctive treatments. Regardless, it was the government/FDA’s authorization that caused the problems.

Oddly, our president continued to recommend the use of hydroxychloroquine. He even said that he was taking it prophylactically, although he didn’t use that big word. The result was that there was enormous demand for the drug. People stockpiled it in case they got sick. There were two problems with that. First, people who had malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis couldn’t get their meds on time because production couldn’t keep up with the Trump-caused, artificially inflated demand. Second, hydroxychloroquine just might kill the stockpilers if they were to use it to treat their Covid-19 and did so improperly. Nevertheless, Trump continues to either promote the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19 or allows his prior nonsensical rah-rah for it to linger because he is incapable of admitting he made a mistake. And we pay the price for his limitations with our health and our lives. The key point is that the FDA allowed off-label use of hydroxychloroquine and that killed people.

Follow the money: Who benefits from the increased demand for hydroxychloroquine and why is Trump so invested in that?

Again, while Dr. Hahn promised that the FDA and manufacturers would “adhere to standards” for a Covid-19 vaccine, he left the door open for emergency use authorization of these as-yet unproven vaccines. That is expressly, intentionally not adhering to standards.

In other words, Hahn and his agency might succumb to political pressure and roll the dice with the lives of granny, your children and you so that Trump can get reelected. Wild guess: That probably doesn’t sound too good to you and you’re already doubting Covid-19 vaccines. It turns out this story gets worse.

AstraZeneca is one of the key players in Covid-19 vaccine development and their drug is in a phase 3 trial. They have selected 30,000 people to be vaccinated and then watch to see if they become protected from the virus or if they get sick and perhaps die. I’m wondering if they intentionally expose these human Guinea pigs to the virus to test the vaccine. How else would they know if the vaccine had successfully protected them against the virus unless they knew test subjects had been exposed to it? That makes me think of the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study.

There are two efficacy problems with the trial. The first is that they are only testing healthy, relatively young people. That means that if you have any underlying health issue, especially hypertension, diabetes or obesity, or are older or a child – any condition that is substantially different from the test group  – whatever the phase 3 trial shows, you won’t know if the vaccine will work for you as it did for those phase 3 trial subjects.

The second issue is that this phase 3 trial is being run without a placebo comparison; i.e. this isn’t a blind, much less double-blind test. That means that there will be no way to determine the true efficacy of the drug – whether it actually works. And we are expected to trust this vaccine with our lives.

The FDA’s mission is to protect the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy and security of human drugs and more (taken from the FDA’s Mission Statement). That’s why they have protocols and standards. And President Trump is leaning hard on Mr. Hahn to abandon those protocols and standards in order to win his election. Frighteningly, Hahn may be willing to cave in to the pressure and issue “emergency use authorization” of these non-adhering-to-standards vaccines before the election.

“Do you feel lucky?” Dirty Harry Click the pic.

This looks to me like they’re giving the anti-vaxxers big gun ammunition at a time when we desperately need confidence in something to protect all of us and stop the Covid-19 rampage.

I’m no anti-vaxxer, but as I said, blind acceptance of vaccines – especially a proposed, new generation, emergency-use-authorization vaccine, the use of which is entirely politically motivated – probably isn’t a good idea.

Makes me think of Dirty Harry. Like the guy in the car, my answer is no. Click the pic to the right and you’ll understand.

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Post Office Update

Stopping by the post office to mail a letter just in time for the last pickup of the day brought me face-to-face with Lizzy (not her real name), a postal service worker who was emptying the collection box. We chatted for a bit and I asked her about the reported slow down of the mail system orchestrated by the new Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy. He is a big Trump contributor and a complete postal system know-nothing. He has eliminated overtime, slowed the sorting process and done other things, which have resulted in reported mountains of undelivered mail, especially at the big sorting centers. That’s what I asked Lizzy about.

“Oh, yeah, everything’s slowed down,” she said. “We hate that – we care about service.”

DeJoy claims to be a logistics expert and declares that he’s reducing costs. Sounds good. But our most mailed-in election balloting in history is already underway and he’s clogging the system. What do you suppose Donald Trump will say about the election when it appears he’s lost big and those mountains of undelivered mail are highlighted by him on November 4? Decide for yourself how much Trump election conspiracy to assign to that and let Professor Laurence Tribe be your guide:

Key Impact Point: Go to your secretary of state’s website, register to vote and request a mail-in ballot. The clock is ticking and soon you may run out of time to do that and make your vote count. Especially with DeJoy screwing up the system, you better move on this.
 

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Conservative Corner

Have you noticed how many things have gone on in the Trump era, like what’s covered in this post, that aren’t remotely conservative? As I’ve written so many times, we need the traditional Republican party to come back, to saddle up and hit the trail for America. Where are you guys?

Another 4 years of Trump won’t bring back conservatism. In fact, Trump will crush under his heel everything that conservatives hold dear and which he hasn’t already destroyed. It goes without saying that the things liberals/progressives hold dear are terminal, too.

Have you always voted Republican and cannot even imagine pulling the lever for a Democrat (I have such relatives and friends)? Now’s the time to imagine something bigger and for you to dare to go where you haven’t gone before while you still can. Remember that Trump has repeatedly threatened to cancel elections. That ain’t conservative.

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Finally

Leonard Cohen in 1988. Click the pic for his biography.

From poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen:

Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.

These are hard times and it’s difficult to know what to do and where to start. What is important is simply that we start. That we ring the bells that still can ring. Follow Leonard Cohen’s advice. Today is a good day for that.

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

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  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.

Judgment


Reading time – 3:31  .  .  .

We all know that there are many people who refuse to wear a mask or social distance or wash their hands frequently. Each of them has his/her reasons, including  seeing these safety and health measures as government overreach, they don’t appreciate the danger, they’re angry about the intrusion on their liberty or they think it’s a hoax, a conspiracy. Here’s some clarity about those conspiracy believers.

From Anne Applebaum’s new book, Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism (read this book):

“The emotional appeal of a conspiracy theory is in its simplicity. It explains away complex phenomena, accounts for chance and accidents, offers the believer the satisfying sense of having special, privileged access to the truth.” (page 45)

I get that there is a sense of power and control in embracing conspiracy theories. So, I offer a “Well done!” to the cable blatherers, the talk radio babblers and the online conspiracy promoters for their excellent job of willfully stoking reality denial and hatred. Their work is powerful and it has an impact far beyond the TV and radio ratings and online Likes: it threatens all the rest of us.

We declare that we honor our front line troops, the nurses, doctors, techs, EMTs, ambulance drivers and the rest of the folks who are fighting this war against pandemic. We’ve seen the hospital scenes, watched the personal videos and get lumpy-throated in empathy for these people. We see that these heroes work absurd hours. They live with death all around, feeling they’ve failed, even as they are powerless to stop it. But I wonder if that honoring of these people is true for all of our mask refusers and deniers, especially the conspiracy types.

Click me for the story from The Onion.

It seems to me that the conspiracy embracers and the rest who refuse to do those 3 simple things to help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are more than a danger to those nearby. They hasten the spread of infection that horribly affects those same front line people by putting more sick people into their already over-maxed hospitals. It dumps more hard, overly-demanding work on top of already exhausted medical staff. It dishonors them in that way, even as over 1,000 of our front line medical people have died working to save others from this horrible disease.

That’s why I have some judgments about the conspiracy types and even for the rest of the people who knowingly refuse to do the 3 simple things that can help us all:

First, it’s clear that they put themselves and their individual rights above the rest of us.

Second, the harm they do makes circumstances far worse for people who have lost their jobs, whose kids can’t go to school, for our elderly trapped in nursing homes and for everyone who wants their life back. They push national recovery yet farther away into the future.

Third, it dishonors and penalizes the very people they themselves will meet when they show up at a hospital ER barely able to breathe, because our front line medical troops will nevertheless be standing by to serve them.

Click me for the full story.

In an insightful opinion piece in the New York Times last weekend entitled, “How To Actually Talk to Anti-Maskers” author Charlie Warzel makes the how-to of that conversation both clear and obvious. Even better, it has application for your conversations with any who are foolish enough to not agree with you.

It has to do with what Mom told you: be respectful, courteous and listen to others. And as you listen, just seek to understand how they feel and why they believe as they do – not preparing to tell them all the reasons they’re wrong. That’s because the instant you try to persuade them to your superior view, you’ll have nothing but confrontation. The only thing that changes that way is that each is even more entrenched in their bubble, certain that those who disagree are idiots. We remain polarized, perhaps even more so than before. Remember that each of us thinks we’re right and justified in the opinions we hold.

It can be most satisfying to be reactive – believe me, I know about this and sometimes I’m conscious and able to resist my knee-jerk behavior. When I fail,  I get a momentary rush from being “right.” Then not much good happens for anyone.

Finally

We have a very dangerous virus in America. It’s been in the newspapers, on TV and radio and clogging the webisphere since February. Because of that you already know that the U.S. has just 4% of the world’s population but it has spawned about 25% of its coronavirus infections and deaths. That’s happening right here in our first world, advanced medicine country even as we’re proud to be the leader of the free world.

Have you ever wondered how the rest of the world sees us, and specifically how we’re seen as we mishandle this pandemic? The New York Times brought the story of the virus in America to people around the world and video recorded their reactions. You need to see this.

When you go out, wear your mask and social distance. And wash your hands a lot. If you won’t do those things, please stay away from me. And everyone else.

Here’s a behavioral take on this from Paul Krugman.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

“How Are You Doing?”


“When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to do something, to say something, and not be quiet.” John Lewis, veteran of the march on Bloody Sunday and so many other battles for the rights of people, died Friday at age 80.

Reading time – 3:24  .  .  .

I’m asked that question often, sometimes as a now-standard greeting –  perhaps some of your conversations begin like that, too. My progressively more common answer to friends is that I’m feeling the losses.

I haven’t hugged my kids or grand kids in months. We haven’t sat at a dinner table with friends or family for just as long. Travel to do my leadership keynotes and workshops stopped – everything is virtual now – and I’ve stowed my suitcase in the attic. We love going to the movies, but that fun has been put on hold. In short, all the standard stuff of life has been put into long term storage and I’m feeling the losses. Weirdly, I’m so hungry for ordinary human contact that I’m looking forward to my annual physical exam.

I’m feeling more than that. I’m feeling enormous frustration over the cavalier indifference to human suffering and death demonstrated by those who are supposed to lead us in the best of ways and whose charge is to promote our general welfare. I’m angry at them for being the only ones with all the tools in the toolbox needed to beat this pandemic and their callous refusing to use them. They have abandoned us and that has consequences. See the table below.

Back when the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) was being debated and even after its passage, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) was a loyal Republican loudly decrying the act. One provision of the act is the requirement for medical insurance coverage for consultations with doctors about end of life considerations. Grassley brayed his criticism, idiotically saying (and I’m not making this up), “They’re gonna pull the plug on Grandma.” The Republicans told us there would be death panels. O’, for the good old days.

Grassley wailed his morbid prediction and now it has come true. Because of the astonishing lying and indifference, the refusal to take preventive actions, the misdirection and the stumbling blocks put before our medical people, all from White House political hacks, they really are pulling the plug on granny, because she’s been on a ventilator for weeks and her lungs are toast.

I’m not doing well at all about granny’s suffering and dying, nor that an estimated 70 – 99% of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. happen because of our incompetent leadership and we’re headed for over 200,000 dead friends and family.

Kayleigh McEnany, WH press secretary, said that “the science should not stand in the way” of reopening schools. Click the pic – it’s even dumber than it seems. Note that her justifications were factually wrong or at least egregiously misleading.

I’m really not okay with political hacks who will only meet via Zoom, but think we should send our kids, teachers and staff back to school for 8 hours a day. Tell you what: let’s send those political hacks to do their jobs together in a school classroom for just one week. Then let’s see how many of them aren’t in an overcrowded hospital 3 weeks later.

I’m sad about the nearly 1,000 front line healthcare workers who have died from this disease while working to save the lives of others. I’m worried about the long term effects on an entire generation of our young ones, as they are taught to stay away from others and to fear so many things. And I’m worried about how our workers will feed their families with their place of employment shut down for the duration and perhaps closed forever.

Dr. Lorna Breen – another casualty of COVID-19. Click the pic for the full story.

I long ago gave up hope that Trump would take the right steps to curb and defeat this pandemic. He is truly incapable of leading us in this war and too insecure to get out of the way and let the right people lead us to do what must be done. Instead, he remains focused on his own welfare and thus, continues to be our biggest obstacle. He truly is Incompetent Individual #1.

What if he had used the Defense Authorization Act to ramp up our testing capabilities and had recruited laid off workers to do contact tracing? What if he had possessed the courage to extend lock downs long enough to trim the infection rate down to nearly zero, as other countries have done? What if he had responded to the pleadings of governors and mayors for help, instead of blowing them off? And it’s even worse than that.

We have some galactically incompetent governors whose states are practically radioactive with the virus. These governors – Republicans all – refuse to listen to the scientists and medical professionals who tell them the steps to take to protect their people and the economy. Some are even hobbling mayors of cities with COVID catastrophes, prohibiting them from mandating the wearing of masks in public places.

So, how I’m doing can be described as not too well. Does that connect at all with the way you’ve been feeling?

How many more of us have to die needlessly before we take the necessary actions to beat this pandemic?

 

Just 13 days ago 1 in every 106 Americans was infected. As of 7/19/20 it’s 1 in every 90. Click the graph for the story.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Pence


Reading time – 1:51  .  .  .
·
This is offered on the eve of our 3-millionth COVID-19 case, with over 130,000 Americans dead. Most of our dead would never have even become infected, much less have died, if we had bold leadership focused on our individual and collective welfare. (See the Dying for Leadership section of this post from June 21.)
·
Mike Pence is nominally leading our Coronavirus Task Force, the job of which is to say many things which have no connection to reality and are entirely misleading and unhelpful. It’s the administration’s pat on the back of our hand to keep us quiet as we die from this pandemic, gasping our last breaths from a ventilator hose in a hospital. Alone.
·
·
“Mike Pence will pray. He believes in the power of prayer not so much as a means to commune with Providence but rather to advance his political agenda. He believes prayer is a “cure” to homosexuality because he believes Gay Americans are less than. He Prays for no deaths in the
·
“same moment he knows the cause of death is now the policies of the Administration and the unforgivable negligence, idiocy, malfeasance and incompetence of Trump. Whatever it is, it has nothing to do with faith and everything to do with power and politics. Pence is a profoundly
“Cynical and insincere man. It is clear he has no regrets from his work with the Cigarette companies and their campaign to deny the health danger of smoking. He has risen on a tide of sanctimony and a talent for squinting with pious conviction in defense of the indefensible.
·
“Mike Pence will pray and America will suffer and die. This most obsequious of Trumps bootlickers and Vassals, Pence has shamed himself for four years defending all he once condemned. He is a political whore without equal. If only he loved his country a tenth as much as loved
·

“His position of power. [See point #4 of this post from June 28] He is Trumps faithful adjutant. The death, economic collapse, division, decline and chaos in our country are every bit as much his ignominious legacy as they are Trumps. @ProjectLincoln. No American should look at this contemptible man without scorn.

·

From The Onion, of course. Click the pic for the short satire.

“Prayer is not a strategy. Prayer is not an excuse. None of this had to be. It has come to be because of Trump/Pence. MAGA has turned to catastrophe. If there is to be prayer let it be that America be liberated from these miscreants and fools and that the rancid tide of division

·
“And racism they have stoked and nurtured begins to recede so the American nation can heal and recover. If Mike Pence is to pray let it to be ask Providence’s favor and forgiveness for the tragedy he has helped architect.”
·
End of Twitter Feed
·
Brothers and sisters, let me hear your AMEN! Sing it loud and clear on November 3.
·
Bonus question:

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

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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.

What’s Most Important


Reading time – 2:12  .  .  .

Let’s see if we can zero in on what’s most important about the Russian bounty on the heads of American military personnel in Afghanistan.

What’s most important actually isn’t that Vladimir Putin set up this incentive to the Taliban to murder our troops. And it isn’t a bit surprising that Putin has denied what our intelligence people have found and about which they are 100% certain. Lying and killing is what Putin does. Just ask his political rivals. Oh, wait; you can’t do that because he killed them.

And what’s most important isn’t that Trump wasn’t told what has been happening. There isn’t even the remotest possibility that our intelligence people, including the DNI, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, director of the CIA, National Security Advisor, Secretary of Defense and others weren’t aware of Putin’s incentive to murder months ago. And their being aware of it and understanding the lethal implications for our troops and our national security means that there isn’t a chance that this slightly indirect act of war wasn’t brought to the president a long time ago.

It was in the PDB – the President’s Daily Briefing – but, of course, Trump doesn’t read and rarely reviews any PDB and refuses to hear bad things about Russia. However, our security types know that he doesn’t read and would have brought this critical issue to this president in various other ways that would get his attention and focus. There would have been walk-in meetings; short PowerPoint presentations using only single-syllable words; crayon and coloring book narratives; and Choose-Your-Own Adventure comic books. They would have had a beautiful model in a tiny bathing suit and heels parade past the Resolute desk waving pictures of dead American personnel with captions reading “PUTIN’S BOUNTY.” Our national security people would have used whatever it might take to get this president to absorb the key information.

In other words, there isn’t even a small possibility that Trump didn’t know about this until the past few days, as he has hollowly claimed.* Even that isn’t what’s most important.

Here’s what’s most important about this scandal:

Our military people are being murdered and Commander in Chief Trump has done nothing about it.

Click this pic and watch the video. Then  send this to independents and Trump supporters you know.

No threats of military action. No sanctions. No “Back off!” call to Putin. No coordination with NATO partners. No counter measures at all. Trump has sold out our military people.

I really don’t care what Putin has on Trump – pictures and videos, evidence of money laundering, fraud, tax evasion, whatever – except when it results in traitorous actions against our people and our country by the President of the United States.

Our people and our country are what’s most important and Trump is betraying both.

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*From Congressman Brad Schneider’s (D, IL-10) newsletter of June 30, 2020:

“.  .  .   yesterday it was reported that as early as April, 2019 [emphasis mine – ed.] U.S. officials were aware of evidence of a Russian effort to pay bounties for the killing of U.S. and British troops in Afghanistan. Further reports indicate that President Trump received written intelligence on the Russian actions as far back as February. I spoke about this issue on the House floor this morning.”

Finally, a curious comment

The mayor of Tampa, Florida reported on Juiy 1 that they are experiencing a significant spike in coronavirus cases among 20- & 30-somethings. This comes just a few short weeks after the bars and restaurants in Tampa were re-opened.

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA

 


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

The Full Explanation


Reading time – 4:15  .  .  .

I’ve been clubbing Republicans for a long time. Let me be fair to them and say, in all humility and from the heart, that every bit of it is deserved.

I’ve called them things like “invertebrates” and “jellyfish” specifically for refusing the call from the very values they claim to hold. Instead, they have consistently knuckled under to Trump and allowed his evil doings to ratchet our country downward. What I saw was simple cowardice. It turns out the explanation for their behavior is far more complex and nuanced than I had imagined.

Anne Applebaum’s remarkable essay History Will Judge the Complicit, is a stunning and thorough analysis of collaboration with the Trumpian assault on our country. It’s published in the July/August edition of The Atlantic under the title.The Collaborators.

Applebaum unmasks what is at work to influence otherwise principled people to relinquish their values and submit to the will of this hateful, self-serving president. Her work is long and detailed and draws on clear historical parallels – yes, this has happened before. If you have ever asked, “How could otherwise good people sell their souls to a tyrant?” I urge you to read her piece in its entirety for the answer.

Here’s a summary of the rationalizations Trump collaborators use.

1. We can use this moment to achieve great things. This is the rationalization used by the true believers. They ignore the abhorrent to achieve something they think is important, like seating conservative judges.

2. We can protect the country from the president. This is the rationalization of people like Gary Cohn, Trump’s first economic advisor, as well as Gen. John Kelly, Trump’s umpteenth chief of staff and by “Anonymous,” the author of the New York Times piece describing Trump’s erratic behavior, his inability to concentrate, his ignorance and more. Cohn and Kelly are gone from the administration now, so they have no influence and can no longer protect the country. Worse, they have yet to speak out and, “their silence now continues to serve the president’s purposes.”

3. I, personally, will benefit. Nobody says this out loud, but Trump’s Cabinet heads and their staffs are full of self-serving industry insiders, lobbyists and incompetent drones. Think: Sonny Perdue and his vigilantes of industry association lobbyists now regulating their own industries.

4. I must remain close to power. It’s the “intoxicating experience of power, and the belief that proximity to a powerful person bestows higher status.” Applebaum wrote, “A friend told me that each time he sees Lindsey Graham, ‘he brags about having just met with Trump’ while exhibiting ‘high school’ levels of excitement, as if ‘a popular quarterback has just bestowed some attention on a nerdy debate-club leader.'”

“The Russian language  .  .  .  has a word – prisposoblenets – that means ‘a person skilled in the act of compromise and adaptation, who intuitively understands what is expected of him and adjusts his beliefs and conduct accordingly.”

5. LOL nothing matters. “If there is no such thing as moral and immoral, then everyone is implicitly released from the need to obey any rules.

If the president doesn’t respect the Constitution, then why should I? If the president can cheat in elections, then why can’t I? If the president can sleep with porn stars, then why can’t I? .  .  .  Nothing means anything, rules don’t matter, and the president is the carnival king.”

6. My side is flawed, but the political opposition is much worse. It’s about portraying the opposition as an existential threat and is seen in the accusations against liberalism and cultural degradation that they claim Hillary Clinton would have brought. It’s the flood of rationalizations to get the judges that conservatives want and the Evangelicals to get the path to salvation they hallucinate is needed.

“If you are convinced we are living in the End Times [included in the list of these believers are Barr, Pompeo and Pence], then anything the president does can be forgiven.”

7. I am afraid to speak out. This, of course, is the spinelessness explanation. It is what led Republican lawmakers to mock and whine and rail at Democratic House leaders during the impeachment hearings and to refuse to judge Trump guilty of the nefarious, unconstitutional acts they knew he had committed. They had to be playground bad kids to satisfy the biggest playground bully. It’s the extreme of refusing to speak against the president’s wrongdoing, the wrongdoing that violates their stated principles;  it’s hypocrisy at the highest levels.

In speaking of our economic catastrophe and the death of over 125,000 Americans to a pandemic we could instead have fought well and thereby protected the thousands who didn’t have to die, Applebaum writes,

“This utter disaster was avoidable. If the Senate had removed the president by impeachment a month earlier; if the Cabinet had invoked the Twenty-Fifth Amendment as soon as Trump’s unfitness became clear; if the anonymous and off-the-record officials who knew of Trump’s incompetence had jointly warned the public; if they had not, instead, been so concerned about maintaining their proximity to power; if senators had not been scared of their donors; if Pence, Pompeo, and Barr had not believed that God had chosen them to play special roles in this ‘biblical moment’ – if any of these things had gone differently, then thousands of deaths and a historic economic collapse might have been avoided.

“The price of collaboration in America has already turned out to be extraordinarily high.”

——————————

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

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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.

My Weekly Reader


Reading time – 3:57  .  .  .

We’re taking a break from the gigantic stories of the day, the pandemic, racism, our teetering economy and our perennially incompetent government to have a look at other vitally important stories that belong on the front page but have been pushed back to Section B beneath the fold.

Bully Barr

Did you ever wonder why Attorney General William Barr is such an immoral creep? Turns out it’s a lifelong obsession of his. Read about his commitment to being a bully here.

Popeye Point

There is a never-ending commentary on the Sociopath-In-Chief and the anti-democratic, self-serving and illegal things he does. So, it isn’t the slightest shock to learn that Trump begged President Xi of China to buy more farm products from the U.S. so that Trump could win farm states and get reelected. Hint: That’s the same kind of presidential election tampering that got him rightly impeached.

Meanwhile, there are the moral and ethical perversions of President Caligula that by now seem almost normal. Here’s a smart analysis by someone who knows a bit about such things. Rabbi Wolkoff has reached his Popeye point, where it’s all he can stands, he can’t stands no more.

Foreign Danger

Perhaps you think international affairs and national security are important things. I have warned about the danger to the U.S. (here’s one example) when weakened by things like a pandemic, a ravaged economy, deeply damaged alliances with friends, civil unrest and, of course, our sucking up to tyrants. But that was just me talking. How about the view from an expert with decades of experience and keen insight? Have a look at what Richard Haass, now President of the Council on Foreign Relations, has to say.

Anti-Corruption Wins!

Just taking a chance here, but you might care about corruption in government. I’ve done countless presentations on the corrosive impact of big money in government because it is both damaging to the Constitution and it’s anti-democratic.

For example, since those kids and teachers at Sandy Nook Elementary School were massacred 8 years ago 90% of Americans have wanted universal background checks on the sale of any firearm. Since that atrocity there have been mass shootings at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, Mother Emanuel AME Church, the Pulse Nightclub, the Las Vegas outdoor concert, the Sutherland Springs, TX church, Ft. Hood, the El Paso Walmart, Tree of Life Synagogue and more and we still don’t have those background checks. (BTW – had those Sandy Hook kids not been gunned down they’d be entering high school this fall.) Watch this video (scroll down just a bit to find it) by the remarkably clear-headed and hugely effective folks at Represent.us. They’re successfully fighting the corruption that drives Congress to ignore We the People.

Migrant Health

Trump has waged a war on immigrants, regardless of their documentation, ever since the abhorrent escalator rant against Mexicans in 2015. That war went on to include his baby and child cage farms, his ripping babies from their mothers’ arms and separating them for life, his slandering all people from “shit hole countries” and far more. For those who have made it to our shores there is nothing easy, including healthcare during this pandemic, especially for migrant workers, many of whom are immigrants.

Download and read this piece of advice from Diane Harrison at HealthPSA.info and pass it along to those in need, because they’re pretty well forgotten otherwise. Like you and me, they want to live and they want their children to live, and that’s much harder for migrant workers in the age of coronavirus.

Dying for Leadership

It turns out that the Columbia University study that I reported to you on May 24 showing that approximately 30% of American COVID-19 deaths were preventable was right in concept, but things are far worse than they calculated.

A new Oxford University study detailed in “STAT” shows that 70% – 99% of American coronavirus deaths could have been prevented. That would have required early, aggressive, responsible, competent national leadership. We didn’t have that. We still don’t. One could argue that the avoidable death of 84,000 – 118,000 Americans is in the past – nothing we can do about that now. One would be right – and completely missing the point.

That same inept or completely absent leadership continues to allow and indirectly encourage massive numbers of unnecessary deaths of Americans. Read about it here.

Weekly Snark

Surely you’ll recall that President Trump proudly proclaimed following a visit with the brutal, murderous North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in 2018 that they, “fell in love.” That suggests a solution to several issues.

Since Trump and Kim love each other, Trump should move to North Korea to live with his lover. Maybe Kim will allow Trump to build Trump Tower Pyongyang or a golf course at Mar-a-Demilitarized-Zone. Of course, since it’s a closed society and nobody from the rest of the world vacations there, both properties would go bankrupt. That would be okay, though, because for Trump that’s just another genius day at the office.

Also, each year the Darwin Awards recognize those who have done the most to improve the human gene pool by removing themselves from it. Could it be that last night we had 6,100 applicants in Tulsa?

Trump had bragged it would be 19,000 or 100,000 or a million, but he couldn’t fill the place – gobs of empty, appropriately blue seats in the arena – and there was no overflow crowd to watch him on the outdoor look-at-me big screen. Still, there were 6,100 Darwin volunteers. Thanks go to MSA for the Darwinian insight.

From the ‘Hood

10-year-old Elisa asks, “What’s orange and ugly?”

You supply the answer.

Closing question:

Trump is notoriously ignorant on even the most basic things. For example, John Bolton reports in his new book that Trump asked if Finland is part of Russia. Yes, really. That kind of demonstration of his boundless ignorance goes on every day.

He’s clueless enough that he couldn’t pass even a middle school geography test, much less succeed at a top university. Plus, payoffs are in his blood (think: Stormy Daniels). Given his boundless, bottomless ignorance and reliance on pay-to-play, how much did he or his daddy pay for his Wharton diploma?

Far more important: how much are we paying for his constant fraudulence?

——————————

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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.

What Have We Done?


Reading time – 5:29; Viewing time – 9:32  .  .  .

[Ed. note: Be sure to read the “Finally” section at the bottom, which was added after the video was recorded.]

It’s the Economy, Stupid

The White House announced (love that phrase – as though a building could talk) that it won’t update economic projections this summer. Think about that for just a minute.

Trump and his economic geniuses have proclaimed proudly and often that our economy would be chugging along at over 3% annual growth rate, what with Trump having ridiculed President Obama for his 2-something rate following our total economic collapse of 2008-2009. Now we’re in a [soon to be officially declared] depression, which is not compatible with Trump’s puffery. He can’t brag as the economy contracts 5.6%. So, to combat the impossibility of such bragging, the president will go on a Trump victory offensive: he’ll just refuse to talk about it. Forget that the President’s review of the economy is required by law. This is the Trump administration and he don’ care ’bout no stinking law. And who would hold him accountable anyway? That’s a problem.

7 Days of Trumpcrap

Trump’s standard playbook is to constantly throw crap at the wall and see what sticks as a distraction. He does this both to keep everyone else off balance so that he feels in control and to make you look away from his obvious failures. Most common are character assassinations, eye-googling innuendo, baseless accusations, outrageous policy shifts, stupid proclamations, repetitions of phrases as though he’s not sure he said them, and of course, general air head stuff with no apparent meaning. He never backs down from anything he says, no matter the idiocy he’s initiated or how harmful it is to others.

Here are some of the Trumpcrap distractions from just the past 7 days.

  1. Trump baselessly accused Joe Scarborough of having murdered a Congressional aide in 2001 at a time when Scarborough was 900 miles away from the aide. The aide was known to have had a serious medical problem and she fell, hit her head and died. That is in the coroner’s report. However, that did not prevent Trump from trying to smear a tough Trump critic with odious Trumpcrap lies and the media focused on that for days.
  2. Trump didn’t like that Twitter appended to his Scarborough smear several links to fact checks. He immediately threatened an Executive Order to attack Twitter, Google and FaceBook and released the EO on Thursday. He wants to regulate speech on the internet so that it’s to his advantage, an obvious violation of the First Amendment. For this president, violating the Constitution is commonplace. Doing so always manages to attract major attention and redirects eyeballs from his ineptitude and criminal behavior.
  3. Trump has commenced a full-mouth-press against mail-in ballots. He makes the same false claims that Republicans have been spewing for at least two decades, whining that our elections are rife with voting fraud. It does happen – about once in every 125,000 votes cast. See my upcoming post on Wednesday, June 3 for more on that. He claims that allowing voting by mail will exacerbate this non-existent problem. That Trump himself votes by mail doesn’t seem to him to be evidence against his claim, nor do the years of clean experience of mail-in voting in many states make a dent in his baseless accusations. But the Trumpcrap does distract.
  4. Trump called for an expansion of his useless border wall – he wants another 500 miles of it. You do the guessing about which Congressionally mandated programs will get cut to pay for his ego project.
  5. He reiterated his total ban on immigration, or at least his blatherings about it. He has been consistent in his disdain for non-white people who want to come to America, including those from “shit hole countries” and Muslims from anywhere. That’s always good for shifting eyeballs away from his failures and crimes.
  6. In the aftermath of the brutal murder of fellow citizen George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer and that officer’s indictment on 3rd degree murder charges on Friday, the president held a press conference. He spoke from a Tel-e-Prompter about the China/Hong Kong situation. He had no comment whatsoever for the family of the murder victim, the aggrieved citizens of Minneapolis or the nation, for the police, the mayor, the National Guard or the Staties who arrived to help. Nothing for any of them. And he took no questions from the press. Just another distraction, a blow off of Blacks and perhaps a concession to the “good people on both sides.”
  7. From “Stat”: “President Trump said Friday the U.S. would halt its funding of the World Health Organization and pull out of the agency, accusing it of protecting China as the coronavirus pandemic took off. The move has alarmed health experts, who say the decision will undermine efforts to improve the health of people around the world.” And that Trump idiocy has citizens distracted by yet another bright, shiny object of Trumpcrap.
  8. Trump issued a vague invitation to AR-15/Glock carrying “MAGA nation” to protest the protests across the nation over the murder of George Floyd. When these thugs show up, what could possibly go wrong?

All that and more in just 7 days.

This pile of Trumpcrap certainly does distract us from keeping an eye on the over 102,000 U.S. COVID-19 deaths and that over 30,000 of them were caused by Trump’s bumbling. It takes a big pile of Trumpcrap to cover that many corpses.

All of this is a huge problem that can be distilled by answering the question,

What Have We Done?

Donald Trump is the problem, for sure, but it isn’t just Trump.

Yet another unarmed black man has been murdered by police, this time in Minneapolis (again). The old semi-joke was about the crime of driving while black. That seems to have devolved, what with Breonna Taylor having been gunned down by police while she was asleep in her bed and Floyd having succumbed to a cop’s knee on his neck for 9 minutes. Now it seems the crime has shifted to breathing while black. Nationwide, we consistently refuse to do anything to make things better, so this story continues to repeat itself. That’s the driver of the protests in nearly every major city.  And some wonder why people riot.

We have allowed Donald Trump to break laws and we have not only let him get away with them, but we have allowed a corrupt attorney general to make outrageous claims of power for the president, to lie repeatedly to protect Trump and to use the power of the Justice Department to undermine justice in order to favor Trump’s felonious friends. Compare that to the justice for George Floyd and Eric Garner and Freddie Gray and Trayvon Martin and the rest. Cops killed 1,099 people last year; 24% of them were Black, even though Blacks make up only 13% of our population. Still wondering why some people riot?

What have we done?

We have decided that Black lives really don’t matter.

We have normalized Trump’s petulant tweeting and treated his rages as official presidential communication – even as policy proclamation.

We have tens of thousands of Americans so upset over having to stay home for a couple of months that last weekend they just had to race to a pool, a beach, a bar, a resort town and restaurants, leaving their face masks at home. Clearly, these weren’t destitute people who were desperate to get back to work to earn a paycheck so they could feed their families; these were people who had money to spend and who were aggrieved over having to endure a period of home confinement, what with their having had to order out pizza and play video games. Where did the American backbone go? Oh, right. Our leadership encouraged us to behave stupidly.

We have a government that is the very embodiment of George Orwell’s nightmare, where lie equals truth, up is the same as down and manipulation to benefit the few is taken for granted.

Big money interests have taken control of our governments (federal, state and some local) to the point that they can buy massive voter suppression and laws to their liking.

Roughly 40% of our country thinks Trump is just fine and they don’t at all mind his racism, his admitted violence against women, his law breaking, his abandoning of our poor, his cruelty toward anyone who isn’t a suck up, his having made us the laughing stock of the free world and his continuing demolition of our own democracy. It’s blind obedience leading us to self-destruction.

We did all of this, you and I and all the rest of us, either through ignorance or apathy or self-indulgence. Now we are paying the price in huge numbers of avoidable deaths, massive wealth inequality, such that millions more live on an economic precipice and we no longer trust ourselves to govern ourselves.

What have we done?

We better get to work to fix this stuff before it’s too late.

————————

Finally,

In that vein – we have to fix this stuff – try this thought experiment.

If the vast majority of protesters in our cities are peaceful as they vent their fear, their sadness and their rage, and if “outsiders” are burning down buildings, inciting looting and violence and inviting police crackdowns, who are those “outsiders?” To identify them, consider who benefits from their violence. Who benefits from inciting police and military action against civilians? Who benefits by being able to claim the need for crack downs? Who benefits by having an excuse to demonize Blacks?

There’s nothing random going on.

From reader and opinion writer Steve Sheffey:

If you don’t channel your anger into political action, if you don’t understand the nexus between rhetoric and reality, between politics and policy, then you are part of the problem, not the solution.

——————————

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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.

Who Will Lead?


Reading time – 2:43  .  .  .

It has been clear from the start that the leadership of Donald Trump is of himself, for himself and by himself. Where does that leave the remaining 328.2 million of us in this time of worldwide pandemic?

Many of our governors are doing a good job with the limited tools they have. I’m thinking of Andrew Cuomo (NY), Gavin Newsome (CA), Jay Inslee (WA), Mike DeWine (OH), J.B. Pritzker (IL), Gretchen Whitmer (MI) and more. Some others are brainless tools, like Kay Ivey (AL), Pete Ricketts (NE) and Doug Ducey (AZ). Regardless of their competence, purity of intention (if any) or skills, these governors are unable to do what a president can do. Our problem is that this president isn’t doing those things either.

He lies about all facets of dealing with this pandemic, including denial that it exists and later denying his denial. Worse, he recommends dangerous remedies, like ingesting disinfectants and taking hydroxychloroquin, which has a proven potential to kill people. More worse is his absolute refusal to do the critical things needed to combat this killer disease, including (but not limited to) fast response, massive testing, tracing and quarantining and securing abundant PPE for our healthcare workers. And most worst, his total abdication of proactive leadership has led us to 100,000 dead Americans, 30 – 60% of whom were avoidable fatalities of his self-absorbed failure of leadership. He has disgraced the office of the Presidency to the point of our deaths.

Meanwhile, we hear messages about dealing with coronavirus from various other leaders, often couched in terms of criticism of Trump. What we don’t hear is clear, consistent leadership to get through this crisis. Who is beating that most important drum? Who is showing up on podcasts, in automotive plants, in press conferences, in meat and poultry plants and more with the exquisite focus and the clarity of vision we need right now?

My notion is that Joe Biden should be leading that parade and I wrote about it here. But Biden and we are months past prime time for this. And, no, a one-off statement doesn’t come remotely near to satisfying the requirement for the consistent message of leadership we need.

I’m in the “anybody but Trump” camp. Well, nearly so. I require a candidate who wasn’t fabricated in a plastics factory, and flamers need not apply. But if I am to put my faith in whoever runs against Trump, I want some demonstration of ability and worthiness to lead right now when we need it.

My pal John Calia writes a leadership post with the overarching message and title, “Who Will Lead?” and I think he’s spot-on with that question.

We are suffering nationally from the better part of a few decades of inept or counter-productive leadership both in the White House and in Congress. The reasons are as dispiriting as they are complex, but in the final analysis it comes down to things like integrity, accountability and actually giving a damn about this country and its people.

Trump is killing us and Biden is essentially AWOL.

Back to Calia’s question: Who will lead?

——————————

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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.

Sacrifice


Reading time – 3:39 + 1:43 .  .  .

Tomorrow is Memorial Day – a formal day of remembrance for those who did their duty, put their lives on the line and died defending America. The flag-draped coffins continue to arrive at Dover, Delaware and, with the healthcare mess we’re in, it will take extra effort to remember those who sacrificed everything. Do it anyway.

—————————–

My friend Sheila Markin writes an excellent post and asked a question in her most recent offering. Here’s the background information.

Trump is now directing his campaign people to fire up the Trump raucous rally machine to drive numbers for his re-election effort. That means thousands of people will be jammed together with everyone joyously chanting for some Trump opponent to be locked up and doing that without a mask, flaunting their disdain for science. They’ll show the world they’re tough, rugged people and nobody’s gonna tell them what to do.

I’m just wondering how they’ll be doing 14 days after each rally. I get that Trump isn’t worried about that, because doing so would require empathy and you know the professional analyses of his ability for that. But there is obvious risk to these fellow Americans.

That’s what Sheila wondered about, ending her post with this question:

“Could it be he is so desperate he would sacrifice any number of his followers to insure his own re-election?”

Here’s my answer.

Years ago I had to deal with an individual who was a cruel man. His great joy lay in verbally abusing others and laying false charges against them, including me. Happily, that was a short assignment, but cruelty hasn’t gone away.

Today’s cruel man is the president and his cruelty isn’t just verbal. He’s allowing the preventable deaths of our people through his bumbling. And, with his claim of taking hydroxychloroquine, the drug with demonstrated, potentially lethal consequences, he’s setting a dangerous example that others might follow and which might kill them, just like his proposing that people ingest disinfectants. Clearly, he thinks our people are expendable, or he doesn’t think about them at all.

There are analyses showing how many more people have died and will die because of Trump avoiding doing what is needed to protect us – swift action, robust testing, tracing and quarantining, adequate protective equipment, leadership to influence people to distance, etc. It’s approximately 60% of our total COVID-19 deaths (more information here and here and here)  The numbers of excess deaths caused by Trump’s ineptitude are staggering. If you want to begin to grasp the magnitude of this, have a look at today’s New York Times front page.

But of course, they’re just numbers, statistics – until we realize that Granny is one of those people who died an avoidable death. So is nurse Sally. And cousin Jamie. And the pizza delivery guy and the EMT who answered the call and brought my elderly neighbor to the hospital, and the sanitation worker at that hospital, and the high school senior who was excited about her acceptance to West Point. These are metaphors for those actually afflicted. And they weren’t just numbers. They were very real people who died avoidable deaths. Over 60,000 of them so far.

Let’s make this even more personal with the closing words of John Donne’s poem, “For Whom the Bell Tolls:”

Each man’s death diminishes me,

for I am involved in mankind.

Therefore, send not to know

For whom the bell tolls,

It tolls for thee.

That notion hasn’t found its way into the Oval Office since January 20, 2017. Indeed, it’s an odd and cruel trip from “I alone can fix it” to “I don’t take responsibility at all.”

Now the cruel man insists that we “open up” everything, everywhere, as though that might be safe. 10 days from now let’s see if last weekend’s happy Milwaukee bar revelers are still well. They were crammed together, shoulder to shoulder, with nobody wearing a mask. And the meat packers in Sioux Falls and in Greeley similarly stand shoulder to shoulder. What do you suppose is in their near-term future?

I desperately want to be wrong about this, but I’m pretty sure there is a looming, now unavoidable catastrophe on the way. “Opening up” will temporarily goose the Dow and the economy, which is good for Trump’s re-election prospects, but the price for that may be found in body bags.

Back to the mirage of minimizing the infection and death numbers to make Trump look better to his believers.

This is not about the actual health of our people. All he cares about are the published numbers and how they make him look. Indeed, he has said – even seemed to boast – that more testing would make the count higher, which would be bad for his re-election prospects, so he keeps the count inaccurately, artificially low by keeping the country orders-of-magnitude short of doing the testing we need to do. That gets Trump his sick numbers, but makes us sicker.

To compound Trump’s dishonesty about this, we now have 3 states with Republican governors refusing to release infection and death counts. That’s a big help to Trump’s suppressing-the-numbers game. You don’t suppose those Republican governors received a call from the White House, do you?

So, Sheila asked, “Could it be he is so desperate he would sacrifice any number of his followers to insure his own re-election?” They’re about to be crammed together at rallies, because that’s what’s good for Trump. What do you suppose will happen to some of them 14 days later? Do you have even a whisper of a notion that Trump has entertained that question? Or whether he’s willing to sacrifice them if doing so helps him?

Sadly, it isn’t just his followers Trump would sacrifice. There’s a Trump-branded human sacrifice alter ready for every one of us whenever he hallucinates that it’s in his best paranoid, sociopathic interests to use them.

You’ve known since at least 2015 that the only thing Trump cares about is Trump. That leaves you eligible for sacrifice on one of his alters. If that’s not to your liking, there’s something you can do about it. Roll up your shirtsleeves and get to work to put Trump’s human sacrifice alter company out of business on November 3, 2020.

And follow President Obama’s clear direction: Vote.

Click here for a 37 second demonstration of how COVID-19 spreads.

Click here for Timeline: Trump’s Coronavirus Response. It will tell you all you need to know about what has caused us to have less than 5% of the world’s population and 30% of the world’s deaths from coronavirus. And it will show you why the majority of American deaths from coronavirus were preventable.

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Compare and Contrast

This is a true, current story.

British Capt. Tom Moore, the 100-year-old World War II veteran who raised over 32 million pounds ($39.1 million) to support the U.K.’s health workers by walking 100 laps in his garden, will be knighted in recognition of his fundraising efforts.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the recommendation on Wednesday, and Queen Elizabeth II has agreed.

“I have, exceptionally, recommended to The Queen that he be awarded a knighthood, in recognition of his extraordinary fundraising achievements, and as a signal of the kind of contributions we will want to mark in the months to come,” Johnson said in a statement.

The centenarian launched his charitable campaign in late April as his 100th birthday approached. Wearing a coat and tie as well as his military medals, he pushed his walker lap after lap around his garden in the hope of donations.

He was trying to raise 1,000 pounds (over $1,200) for National Health Service (NHS) charities to show his appreciation for the medical treatment he received for cancer and a broken hip.

Donations gathered pace after his fundraising effort received national and, before long, international attention amid the increasing severity of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am certainly delighted and overawed by the fact this has happened to me,” said Moore, who will be known as Captain Sir Thomas Moore after he is knighted.

The award is expected to be formally presented in the fall, with details of the ceremony, where the Queen will officiate, still to be worked out.

“I’m looking forward to that,” Moore said, adding, “I hope she’s not very heavy-handed with the sword, because by then I might be rather a poor old weak soul.”

After the fundraising effort, Moore released a charity single, “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” with singer Michael Ball, which became a hit, reaching number one on the charts and making him the oldest singer ever to have a number-one single in the U.K.

Moore fought in Burma, now called Myanmar, and went to Sumatra with his regiment following the Japanese surrender.

It’s clear that this gentleman is still the upright man of service he has always been. He sees his duty and does it. That’s quite inspiring in a time when we can use all the inspiration we can find.

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