pandemic

Proper Names


Trump has abandoned nearly all presidential duties since November 3. What’s missing from this list?

Reading time – 3:29  .  .  .

The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name. – Confucius

The Crash occurred in October of 1929 during Herbert Hoover’s first year as President. He had been successful in business and had held several high level government posts where he produced good results. He beat Al Smith in the 1928 presidential election, was sworn in and proceeded to bungle his presidency because of his grossly inadequate response to the Great Depression.

Hoover opposed efforts to provide federal relief measures for the millions of suffering Americans, which was quite odd. He had led the American Relief Administration to help European countries following WW I and also led the federal response to the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 to provide emergency relief. But he refused to do the things that were needed to help struggling Americans and to dig this country out of the depression.

Seattle Hooverville

One of the outcomes of Hoover’s intransigence was an enormous amount of homelessness. People were evicted for nonpayment of rent, but they didn’t just vanish. The had to go somewhere, so they found what materials they could and built ramshackle shelters. These hovels joined with others to create slums and there were hundreds of these miserable villages of homeless people all across the country. In a derisive gesture at the insufficient actions of the president they were called “Hoovervilles”.

Hoover wasn’t responsible for the crash, just as Trump isn’t responsible for the virus. Each of them, though, is accountable for their response to an American catastrophe that confronted them and each failed miserably. Hoover refused to do what was necessary. Trump blatantly said, “I don’t take responsibility at all.”

Click me

Trump proceeded to make a lot of noise about Covid-19, promising wildly impossible things (“It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.”), recommending treatments that are ineffective (hydroxychloroquine) or even toxic (Lysol and Clorox) and doing effectively nothing to protect the people. We’re nearly a year into the pandemic and we are still woefully short of PPE, Covid tests, contact tracing to create safety quarantines, and leadership to encourage the simple preventive measures that can minimize our suffering and deaths. There are vaccines, but Trump has refused to see the job through, making it impossible to get vaccines into American arms rapidly. Instead of helping the people, he’s still doing his “don’t blame me” dance. Trump’s refusal to take responsibility means that he put Harry Truman’s “The buck stops here” sign into locked storage and abandoned his post.

The old saying is that Nero fiddled while Rome burned, but of course that isn’t literally true. The violin wasn’t invented until 1500 years after his death. But, “His infamous reign is usually associated with tyranny, extravagance” and ruthlessness. He killed his own mother. Perhaps oddly, Nero was a populist, having captured the fancy of many commoners. Nevertheless, Nero was a cruel sociopath.

Most of those descriptors of Nero sound painfully familiar today. Instead of his fiddling, we can accurately say that Trump golfed while hundreds of thousands died. It’s projected that 700,000 Americans will be dead from this disease by the time 75% of us are vaccinated some time late this year. At 2,000 – 3,000 deaths per day over the winter, the math is pretty simple. If the vaccine distribution problem isn’t fixed quickly, the mortality numbers will be far worse.

Roughly 75% of all of the deaths from this pandemic would not have occurred with proper presidential leadership from the start (see this).  The number of excess deaths caused by Trump’s ineptitude and intransigence are staggering. Biden’s plan should help, but the momentum is baked in for producing a terrible total.

Vaccines stuck in warehouses or on hospital shelves don’t help a bit.

It’s crucial that we apply the proper name to Trump’s well-earned responsibility for our massive, preventable suffering and death. What shall we call that? Trump Fever? Death by Sociopath? Leadership Abandonment Syndrome?

And what is the proper name for the slums of today that are populated by people displaced by this pandemic? Trumpvilles? MAGA Motels? Trump Tower Slums?

History will record the craziness of these years and the great harm brought to our country by a madman. There will be headlined paragraphs in history textbooks with the proper names for these times. One will be American Supplication to Russia. Another will be The Massive Assault on Democracy. Still another will be When America Abandoned Reality. But the biggest, boldest headline of all will be Massive Death and Suffering By Presidential Abandonment.

Here’s hoping that we learn the painful lessons* before us and make 2021 the year we restarted America’s great march to form a more perfect union.

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  • * Try this on for a painful lesson we need to learn.
  • From a recent commentary: “the casualties to date are shocking and far in excess of what was expected  .  .  .” But are we really shocked?
  • Front line healthcare workers have been shocked. Families of the dead were shocked. The unemployed and food insecure are shocked. But a huge percentage of Americans – tens, perhaps hundreds of millions of us – go on with only minor changes to our lives, which doesn’t result in shock – only minor inconvenience. Worse, the numbers of the infected, hospitalized and dead are so large as to be mere statistics without an apparent connection to human beings and their suffering. It seems that there is no shock unless people are impacted directly. Perhaps we have a national empathy outage.
  • What shall we do with this lesson?
  • And millions of Americans oddly refuse to believe that Covid-19 is real. With the reality of suffering and death all around, they steadfastly hold to their claim that it’s a hoax and respond to calls for simple public health measures with refusal and scorn. Of course, that spreads the disease quite efficiently, which means far more people get sick.
  • What is the lesson begging for understanding in 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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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. Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, educate me and all of us. 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.

Freedom v2.0


Reading time – 3:01  .  .  .

I received some off-line comments (i.e., not posted in the Comments section) questioning the contention in my “Freedom” post last Sunday that if we don’t begin working together instead of fighting one another that eventually we will lose our freedoms. Here’s an effort to make that connectivity clearer.

China is in the process of building an economic colossus and a 21st century military that will rival and be able to dominate any other nation. As they trigger their tidal wave toward world domination, what do you suppose will happen to your freedoms if we continue fighting ourselves instead of dealing with this international treat? Where will your freedoms go when a totalitarian power is incrementally dominating the globe and there’s little we can do about it?

Vladimir Putin has made it exquisitely clear that he’s completely comfortable assassinating adversaries anywhere in the world. His functionaries have ripped into our national security apparatus and stolen our top secret information. At the same time, he’s had his hackers set him up to control our infrastructure. What do you suppose your freedom will look like when he shuts off your electricity and water and at the same time he knows our national security vulnerabilities?

Those AR-15s our militia members carry around won’t be good for much, nor will bombastic speeches in Congress, especially when we can’t agree on facts or whether science is good or if Hillary ran a child pornography and sex trafficking operation from the basement of a DC pizza shop. All that conspiracy crap will have done its job of making sure that we can’t work together, that we don’t and won’t trust each other and that will make us impotent.

We are in the depths of the worst pandemic in a century, but 38% of Americans think somehow it’s a hoax, even as Covid-19 is the leading cause of death in America. What happens to individual freedom when people can’t breathe? What happens if all this continues because a huge percentage of Americans refuse to believe the science and won’t take the vaccine?

What happens to your freedom when infected people are all around? You know the answer to that because that’s how you’re living right now. Worse, that’s how our millions of hungry unemployed people are living, but they’re doing it food insecure and in fear of eviction. Take a guess at what freedom feels like to them right now.

What happens when bands of militants with too many firearms, too much anger and too little accurate information storm all of our state capitols? That isn’t freedom; it’s insurrection. Sedition. Treason. And your freedom looks pretty limited in the face of those armed attempts at minority rule.

By the way, I’ve talked with some of those over-firearmed folks and asked why they’re carrying loaded firearms. The answer every time has been, “Because I can.” I’ve always tried to get a real answer by responding with some version of, “Yes, of course that’s true. But you could also stand here clucking like a hen, but you’re not doing that. Why the gun?” Commonly, the response is a repetition of “Because I can.” I’ve never been offered a real answer that approached the truth, like their needing to feel in control, their need to take some action against whatever it is they don’t like at the moment, or so they can feel like the toughest S.O.B. in the valley or to flick off authority figures. Side note: These people aren’t powerful. Their guns are powerful and deserve respect. That doesn’t transfer to them.

How do you feel walking down the sidewalk along with angry people carrying loaded hand guns and assault rifles? Do you feel safe, like they’re on the same side with you, that they’re the good guys like you, that they believe in patriotism just like you do? Can you work with them to build a better, stronger America? If your answers are no, then they’ve already trimmed your freedom.

And the more that happens the more we will sink into international irrelevance because we aren’t all pulling the American wagon in the same direction.

The reality deniers and the angry people itching for confrontation are killing our freedom. And if you’re calling them names, like stupid, racist, idiot or moron you’re making things worse. Our undeclared civil war is killing 3,000 of us every day and people with big mouths, limited information and selfish notions are the leaders in this parade to the end of the “free country” you think this is.

That’s why we’re going to lose our freedoms if we don’t start working together.

Not convinced? Then read this essay – all of it. Get over your wanting to be protective or accusatory and give serious consideration both to the facts presented, as well as the opinions.

On second thought, read the essay even if you’re already convinced. We’re living in a fraught age and a culture of peril, with our freedom at grave risk. We all need to understand well what’s happening. That’s the reason to read the essay.

Many thanks to MN for sending the link.

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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 and all of us. 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.

The Numbers


The Election

The electors have voted, the election vote totals are in and they are final.

The good folks at Quinnipiac have a detailed breakdown of this information, so have a look if you’re interested. Plus, updated vote totals can also be seen here. For our purposes, what’s important is in red, because it begs the question:

How can we govern ourselves when almost 60 million Americans prefer to believe lies and don’t trust what is in front of their eyes?

I’ll phrase that in another way, this time addressing the 60 million:

You’ve been fed lies for decades from elected officials, Fox News, conspiracy nutballs*, propagandists, Breitbart, and more. For the last 4 years (plus the campaign year of 2015) the President of the United States has stuffed your head with fantastical lies, lies claiming his greatness, lies demonizing hundreds of people who he didn’t think were sufficiently loyal to him (although their job was to be loyal to the Constitution), lies slandering millions of people, lies citing false statistics and made up facts. The President lied to you over 17 times per day for over 4 years – over 25,000 lies. Here’s your question:

How do you feel about being played for a sucker?

Perhaps you’ll hear it better this way:

How do you like being lied to?

Note that if you don’t care about being played for a sucker and you don’t mind being lied to, there’s nothing you need to do. Just go along as before, being fed lies that stoke your fear, that fire your anger, that make you distrust your neighbors and hate anyone who isn’t exactly like you. No need for that E Pluribus Unum stuff.

On the other hand, if you’re sick of being played for a sucker and you’ve had it with being lied to, welcome to Planet Earth #1. Glad to have you aboard.

Regardless of Trump’s vacuous claims, even his attorney general couldn’t find any evidence of voting fraud. The same is true for the guy who protected our election from cyber hackers. There isn’t even one state election official who could find illegal voting activities – that includes all 50 states. The election was clean. Joe Biden won fair and square. The number of frauds committed in the election is zero.

To be clear, there was cheating. There were tens of thousands of voters purged from voting roles when they should not have been. Polling places were closed, making voting difficult for many thousands of voters. There were dirty tricks to confuse voters into not voting. But all of that was done by Republican operatives for the benefit of Trump. There is no “both sides” argument. There is no room for whataboutism. That number is zero, too.

Back to the original question: How can we govern ourselves when 60 million Americans prefer to believe lies and don’t trust what is in front of their eyes? Those 60 million people are largely angry, resentful, certain theirs is a just cause, believe they are the true patriots and oh, by the way, they own most of the guns in private hands. Did I mention that they’re angry? Plus, their elected representatives in both Congress and the state houses are terrified of them, so the number of Republican legislators those folks both listen to and who will provide leadership in the direction of the aforementioned E Pluribus Unum is zero.

Those are the numbers. President Biden, how will you govern?

The Pandemic

Here is how this killer pandemic stacks up against events we have universally called tragedies, monstrous killers and national disasters. The charts below are from December 10.

 

 

 

 

 

Those are, indeed, awful numbers. Day after day, week after week we’re given nothing from any of our Republican national leadership (the President and those in Congress) to indicate even a little concern over our massive suffering and death. Instead, we get over 50% of Republican House members signing onto the gigantically stupid lawsuit filed by the pardon-seeking attorney general of Texas, seeking to invalidate the votes of millions of citizens of four states in order to give the election to Trump. That was their focus, instead of the suffering of the American people.

Thanks, Melania, for explaining this administration and the Republicans in Congress.

As for how we’re doing relative to other countries, we already know that we’re just 4% of world population and but we have 19% of worldwide Covid deaths. It’s noteworthy that densely populated India has the second highest number of Covid deaths. Their number is 38% fewer deaths from Covid than the U.S., yet India has over 4 times as many citizens. This is not a good way for the U.S. to be number one.

Now vaccines are beginning to be available, but at least 25% of Americans are either skeptical of them or outright hostile to them. If you have reservations about taking a vaccine, given the manipulation, lying and grandstanding of the President about vaccines, given the pressure he’s put on the FDA to approve vaccines without any reasonable review, even for an Emergency Use Authorization, there is some hope.

It comes in the form of a clear explanation of what’s gone on to make it possible to develop a vaccine so quickly. It wasn’t done by cutting corners or succumbing to political pressure. It was done by years of hard work borne of developing vaccines for other pandemics, like Ebola, MERS and SARS. For some confidence building and satisfaction of your curiosity, read this piece from the BBC News. It explains the good things that happen when we trust facts, knowledge and science, instead of populist rage and manipulation.

As for interim relief for Americans suffering from personal economic devastation, Republican leadership in the Senate continues to refuse to help We the People. We have the means to alleviate much suffering, but Republicans, who couldn’t wait to give $1.5 trillion to rich people and corporations, are suddenly horrified that we might run up some debt feeding our hungry and protecting our soon-to-be-homeless people. Help was created over half a year ago, but these programs all go away within a few weeks. There are rumors that McConnell has come out of his shell and that there may be a little relief coming. But right now those are just rumors. If you have a Republican senator, be sure to lean on him/her to refuse to be stingy and instead take proper action to relieve suffering. Even if you’re doing okay, millions of others are not.

Finally, that swelling of passion you feel when you see vaccines being delivered to our heroically courageous front line healthcare workers is testament to how gut wrenching this pandemic has been. Still, the number of available vaccine doses is small and it will be months before you and the people you love will be able to be vaccinated. So, boring as it may sound at this point, keep that mask on, socially distance, wash your hands, avoid all but small gatherings and sanitize everything. We’re starting the last lap of this marathon race. This isn’t the time to stop running.

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*No, there wasn’t a child trafficking scheme operated by Hillary in the basement of a pizza parlor in DC. The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School did happen. There is no plot for Jews to control the world. The Denver International Airport does not sit above an underground city housing The New World Order. The moon landing wasn’t faked. There is no evidence to support the notion that Jesus and Mary had offspring, many generations of which have been hidden in Europe. George Soros doesn’t fund Antifa and it is not a single far-left militant group. Democrats aren’t molesting and selling children. Global warming is real. The Israelis don’t use animals to spy or attack. Fluoride in our drinking water isn’t a communist plot to poison us. The earth is not flat. Elvis and JFK really are dead and are expected to stay that way for a while.

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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 and all of us. That’s what the Comments section below is for. Please use it to help everyone
  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.

Stuff I Just Don’t Get


Reading time – 3:29  .  .  .

I don’t get “pro-life.” Republicans overwhelmingly call themselves pro-life, perhaps to make anyone disagreeing with them get labeled “pro-death.” Good sloganeering, but  .  .  .

They are overwhelmingly anti-abortion. Okay, if a fetus is considered a person, that’s understandable. But the anti-abortion thing – we’ve always had abortions. Before they were legal they were mostly done in alleys and filthy rooms equipped for little more than spreading disease. Complications and possible death awaited a woman having an abortion. Women at severe risk of dying from complications due to pregnancy were kept from having an abortion and some of them died, too. Is any of that pro-life?

Republicans are also overwhelmingly in favor of capital punishment – the death penalty – killing bad guys. I have trouble seeing how our state sanctioned murder is pro-life. That’s made more poignant by the huge number of innocent people released from prison and death row through the marvelous work of The Innocence Project. Nevertheless, the current President is rushing to get half a dozen people executed before he leaves office. I don’t suppose those people would view that as very pro-life.

And what about our concentration camps on our southern border that were built at the direction of the President and tolerated by meek Republicans in Congress? People in those camps have died from heat, malnutrition and more and we’ve been stingy with our healthcare for them. Are those camps pro-life? Is our indifference to the suffering and death of our concentration camp prisoners pro-life?

From a CR report about the Safe Water Drinking Act of 2005 (AKA “The Halliburton Loophole” – you’ll want to read both of these reports), passed during the Bush-Cheney administration:

[The act] “exempts industry from having to disclose the chemicals it uses in fracking and prevents the EPA from regulating fracking fluids.

“’The purpose of the [Safe Drinking Water Act] is to protect our drinking water, and the industry that is pumping toxic chemicals, carcinogenic chemicals underground doesn’t even have to tell us what those are’.”

Those toxic chemicals are consistently leaked into the drinking water resources for human beings. And, “The oil and gas industry is also exempt from federal EPA hazardous waste regulations and Superfund regulations,” meaning they can make a toxic mess and never have to clean it up, leaving pollution and the health dangers to the rest of us. Does any of that sound very pro-life to you?

I don’t understand those pro-life Republican legislators who refuse to provide relief to hungry Americans, including 1 out of every 6 children in the country. Is that pro-life? Is the refusal to prevent upcoming evictions caused by unemployment due to the pandemic pro-life? It sure isn’t going to look that way in January when millions may be tossed out of their living quarters and onto very cold streets. That’s going to look very pro-death.

Is it pro-life to enact legislation that protects Monsanto from accountability for their product, Roundup, that has poisoned people, given users cancer and killed them?

Is it pro-life for the Republican President of the United States to refuse to lead and only do minimal things to protect Americans from the pandemic? Several studies have shown that between 75 – 99% of death from Covid could have been prevented by strong federal leadership, but that leadership never showed up and more people died unnecessarily – at least 200,000 more. That doesn’t sound very pro-life to me.

During this lame duck period the President hasn’t even mentioned the pandemic that is killing 3,000 Americans every day. And there hasn’t been a peep from Republican lawmakers calling for desperately needed leadership to mitigate the worst of this pandemic. That doesn’t sound very pro-life to me, either.

Our government repeatedly turned down opportunities to secure another 400 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, leaving us with a huge shortfall of protection for Americans and only fingers crossed that other vaccines will prove to be safe and effective. That doesn’t sound pro-life at all.

In fact, from what I can see, once a baby is born our pro-lifers don’t seem to care much about life. Perhaps they should make an honest attempt at accurate labeling and call themselves “pro-fetus only.”

Something else I don’t get  .  .  .

Literally, millions of Americans think that the pandemic is a hoax. I’m not sure what they mean by that. I have my own definition of the word “hoax” and it’s pretty much in accord with Webster’s: an act intended to trick or dupe. But I don’t get how that fits with our medical crisis.

Frank Bruni detailed this claim of Covid hoax in his piece, “Death Came for the Dakotas.” He told the story of a nurse working in a South Dakota ER. That’s South Dakota, the place with the third highest rate of death from Covid in the world. He wrote,

“She was reeling from tending to dying Covid-19 patients who continued to insist that the coronavirus was some kind of hoax.

“‘They ‘scream at you for a magic medicine’ and warn that Joe Biden will ruin America even as they’re ‘gasping for breath,’ she wrote. She added, ‘They call you names and ask why you have to wear all that “stuff” because they don’t have Covid because it’s not real.’

“‘They stop yelling at you when they get intubated,’ she wrote. ‘It’s like a horror movie that never ends.'”

That doesn’t sound to me like the pandemic is a hoax.

Click me for the story

I have asked dozens, perhaps hundreds of people to help me understand how Americans can call this pandemic a hoax, even with death all around. My question became almost silly upon hearing about people denying coronavirus even as they themselves were dying from it.

I wonder what the reaction of the deniers might be to hearing what this looks like from the point of view of a few more nurses. My notion is that if you can read that piece of reality without tearing up, if you can read it and still deny this wicked sickness, you should check your pulse immediately, because something is terribly wrong.

Let’s make a reasonable assumption that the people who deny the disease, or whatever it is that they think is a hoax, are reasonably functional adults in other aspects of their lives. They made it through school, they care for themselves and their families and are law abiding folks. Still, they deny what is right in front of their eyes and perhaps what is right in their veins and their lungs. Somewhere, somehow they are seeing a hoax. I don’t get that.

Of course, there are lots of other things I don’t get, like quantum physics, the meaning of life and whatever happened to tongue-shaped Saf-T-Pops, the ones on a loop of rope instead of a stick. Root beer was the best flavor.

But those topics are for another day. For the moment I’m more interested in explanations for the pro-life and hoax issues. Can you help?

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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 and all of us. 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.

Food Insecure


Reading time – 2:37; Viewing time – 3:30  .  .  .

I’ve been a dad for a long time and for some time my children have been adults for years with children of their own. I’ve been so very fortunate to never have had serious worries about providing for my family.

But I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve become semi-numb to statistics. 200,000 new cases and 2,800 dead every day – these are statistics. It became a little easier to understand the meaning of those numbers when I heard someone say that we are having a 9/11 every day.

I can still see those awful pictures in my head, the airliner crashing into and through the second tower and exploding in a huge orange fireball, people jumping out of the towers to their death, the collapse of the buildings, the smothering fallout of dust and debris and the disoriented, confused New Yorkers wandering in the streets, and the shuffling, stunned, silent foot parade across the Brooklyn Bridge. You have those same pictures in your head, too. I know you do.

That’s when I finally got it. That we’re doing that every day. Our friends and family are dying every day in numbers as large as the 2,977 who died on 9/11. We were right when we called it a tragedy then. What do we call it when this happens every day?

They talk about Americans who are food insecure and just after seeing those images in my head is when I finally got what that means, too. I projected back years ago to when my kids were little ones and I imagined the horror of not having food for them. My babies could go to bed hungry and go to school hungry. That’s what “food insecure” means.

We’re on our way to 50 million Americans, including 17 million children – 1 in every 6 kids – who are hungry. That means there are 33 million moms and dads who aren’t able to feed their kids. Moms and dads who, just like you and I, want to protect their kids and who surely are horrified that their kids are hungry. Just like you would be. Just like I would be.

You have to see that in your mind’s eye: children; toddlers; 10-year-olds; teens who are growing fast and have voracious appetites – all now food insecure. Hungry. And those moms and dads are frustrated and humiliated because things were okay just a few months ago, but they cannot properly care for their kids now. That’s not how it was supposed to be.

The big picture talk about the pandemic, the economy and unemployment statistics isn’t about the numbers we’re shown. It’s about real people like you and me, with real kids like yours and mine and for whom hunger long ago passed the point of being just a concept. It’s an every day reality for them. So is the threat of homelessness. So is the threat of death by pandemic.

The president has gone totally AWOL and Congress has gone demonically stingy and glacially slow. But, no worries. None of them will be going without a  meal. 50 million others will.

Contact your local food bank. Today. Ask them for at least 3 ways you can help.

Hurry. Our kids are hungry.

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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.

Stomach Turning in 4 Parts and 5 Questions


Reading time – 4:49  .  .  .

1. Immigration Vile

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

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

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

Except it has. Many times.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

——————————

2. COVID-19 Deaths

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

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

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

——————————

3. RBG’s Seat

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

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

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

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

Fourth question: What does that do to your stomach?

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4. American Wars

From Sheila Markin’s recent post:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Rosh HaShanah commentary:

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

—————————————-

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA

 


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

Questions For the August Town Halls


Reading time – 2:56  .  .  .

The House of Representatives remains in session this month. In contrast, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called a recess for the month of August for the Senate. That means that August town halls are solely with senators. Feel free to ask any of these questions of your Republican senator, as they don’t apply if s/he is a Democrat.

From constituent #1:

Senator, thank you for taking my question.

There is a pandemic in our country that is taking down millions of Americans. Over 158,000 of our friends and family have died from it and the disease is extending its reach and accelerating its spread.

Our economy is cratering, as GDP has fallen more in one quarter than at any time in the past 150 years.

Tens of millions of Americans are out of work, with a million more joining the ranks of the unemployed every week. The supplemental aid package ran out at the end of last month and millions are facing the inability to pay for their housing, which will lead to foreclosures and evictions. Millions of Americans will be unable even to feed their families.

Congress is willfully paralyzed over extending a hand to our people. Sen. McConnell called a recess of the Senate and you and your colleagues dutifully vacated the premises as directed.

It’s your job – we pay you – to represent us and promote our welfare, but instead you’re here politicking for your next election, working for yourself. My question is simple:

Why aren’t you back in Washington working for us?

From constituent #2:

Senator, you’ve been in Congress for a long time and have been a staunch promoter of American values around the world. You’ve been a forceful opponent of Russian aggression and a plain spoken critic of Vladimir Putin.

President Trump fails to confront Putin for his paying bribes to the Taliban to kill Americans; he failed to forcefully oppose Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and occupation of the Crimea; he fails to confront Putin over the ongoing Russian cyber-espionage on the U.S. and now is pulling a large percentage of our military from Germany, weakening our position throughout the region and further damaging our  relationships with NATO allies. There is nothing conservative about any of those failures.

Throughout all of this and worse from this president you’ve remained silent, without so much as voicing a single objection, much less mounting opposition to Trump’s dereliction of duty to protect and defend. In your silence you have been an enabler of his sell-out of America, meek as a lapdog. Why aren’t you speaking out, senator?

From constituent #3:

Senator, you voted against the PPP program and every other measure to help working Americans during these perilous times. In contrast, in 2017 you voted for the tax cut bill that sent 83% of its benefit to the richest people and corporations in the country. You vigorously promoted it, saying it would generate wage increases, but that didn’t happen and the economists told you that’s what would happen. But corporations did buy back their stock, which boosted stock prices solely to the benefit of rich people.

Tell us why you like rich people so much and clearly don’t care about middle class or poor people.

From constituent #4:

Thank you for being here today, senator, and for taking our questions.

My question is about the anonymous federal troops that President Trump has sent to 7 of our cities and who have brutalized and terrorized largely peaceful protesters. We’re told that these troops are from the Department of Homeland Security, the purview of whose policing force is solely to defend federal property. However, nearly all of the actions of these troops has taken place well away from federal property.

These troops are heavily armed and anonymous, as they wear no agency or unit identifying insignia, police star numbers or name badges and they drive unmarked SUVs. They have kidnapped our citizens without warrant, have failed to Mirandize those they have kidnapped and have held them without cause and without charge.

Please don’t claim that the demonstrators were violent, because we have amateur video and press coverage that plainly shows that’s a lie. My question is simple: Why have you remained silent as our friends and family are being beaten, gassed, shot and pepper sprayed? Where is your voice to stop this brutality?

From constituent #5:

Thank you for taking my question, senator.

The manufacturing facility where I’ve worked for 14 years is shut down because of the pandemic. The extra help I used to get from the federal government made it possible for my family to hold on, but that’s cut off now. And you’ve opposed financial aid to laid off workers, saying that providing that aid is a disincentive to working.

I’ve played by the rules all along and am now in a really tough spot because of a disease over which I have no control, and you’ve essentially called me and millions of other Americans bums. I invite you to apologize to us all right here, right now, and then go back to DC and do your job to work for us. Otherwise, you can come to my house and explain to my kids why there not only won’t be any birthday presents, but that they should be happy with just 1 or 2 meals a day. And you can explain to my wife that she’ll have to do without her insulin that we can’t afford.

So, what’s your choice, senator: my house or DC?

——————————-

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

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

How We Became This Way


Reading time – 4:52; Viewing time – 9:15  .  .  .

This pandemic showed up and we citizens had two different takes on it. Some of us saw a clear and present danger, so we followed the directions of the medical professionals, the governors and the mayors to hunker down.

Others heard the claim of pandemic and were certain that it was liberal whiny-baby carping at best and a political ploy to undermine President Trump at worst. “What risk?” they asked. “Grow up!” they said.

Then the virus infiltrated the home ground of the deniers and at last most of us figured out that this thing is real. So, finally there seemed to be – dare I say it? – a consensus.

Writes McKay Coppins in The Atlantic,

“The consensus didn’t last long. President Trump, having apparently grown impatient with all the quarantines and lockdowns, began last week to call for a quick return to business as usual .  .  .  [T]he comments set off a familiar sequence—a Democratic backlash, a pile-on in the press, and a rush in MAGA-world to defend the president. As the coronavirus now emerges as another front in the culture war, social distancing has come to be viewed in some quarters as a political act—a way to signal which side you’re on.”

Social distancing – staying clear of people in order to avoid a deadly virus – is now a political act? Strangely, disappointingly, yes, it is. This anti-medical craziness is just another casualty of our national war on fact and reality that some are waging, and it’s a deadly casualty, too.

Lawrence Glickman, professor of history at Cornell University, asks,

“How did we get to the point where ministers, the president, many Republican politicians and a variety of media outlets are calling for people to risk death to save the economy?”

How, indeed!?!

I am of an age that places me firmly into the edge of the coronavirus bulls eye of those who will die if they contract the disease. Apparently, according to the aforementioned ministers, the president, many Republican politicians and a variety of media outlets, I should stop being such a wimp. I should be willing to risk death for the sake of the economy. So should all the older boomers. If you’re a WW II generation holdout, please just go die, because as Trump tweeted on March 22, “THE CURE CANNOT BE WORSE (BY FAR) THAN THE PROBLEM.” Read Glickman’s piece linked above. It’s an astonishingly clear reveal of the idiotic reality of misplaced, misused testosterone.

Dick Altschuler, 1943

My father risked death on each mission he flew in WW II. Everyone understood then that our millions of fighting men lived in that world of risk and danger and that anything else was suicidal for all of us. It seems that now some Americans, including some with a big megaphone and an even bigger mouth, see protection of the economy in a similar way. That means that they believe that older Americans are now expendable in pursuit of an election-worthy economy. That’s quite a homicidal opinion.

Every president has a bully pulpit, that big megaphone, the loudest voice. Just the job position gives heft to his words and persuasion power affecting millions. Dangerously, Trump has used his position to say and do things with lethal implication for innocent people. So, to be clear and to paraphrase Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York, I am not expendable. I will not go quietly into that dark night for the sake of Trump’s investments or his reelection. Neither should anyone else, including those wearing MAGA hats.

How in the world did we ever allow ourselves to become this way?

BTW: Once in the ICU with ventilator tubes shoved down their throats, it’s hard to tell the difference between MAGA hat wearers and never-Trumpers.


Threats

I wrote here about possible long term threats caused by this coronavirus and the associated economic toll that would weaken this country. Now we find that the USS Theodore Roosevelt, a nuclear powered aircraft carrier in the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet, has over one hundred sailors with coronavirus. They put in at Guam to get these people to a shore hospital for treatment and immediately overwhelmed it. The rest of the crew members still on board that ship have likely been exposed. That has to impact the ready condition of the ship. What does that say about the likely ready condition of any of our military, living as they do in close quarters?

By implication, we have to wonder what our world adversaries are thinking about as they see us weaker now. Let’s hope that people in the Pentagon are focused on that and that they’re making appropriate plans and taking appropriate action.

To be clear, something put us in this compromised condition and there’s an historical pattern.

George W. Bush and his National Security Advisor were warned repeatedly by our intelligence community that a major Islamist attack was coming. They were told that commercial airliners might be involved. They did nothing and 9/11 happened. Then that pattern repeated itself.

President Nero is at least 2 months behind in every positive action he might take to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. That’s because he was fully briefed by the NSA in January that the epidemiologists had the facts on this looming disaster, but he did nothing. He still isn’t forcing manufacturers to make critically needed PPE (personal protection equipment) for our medical workers or the test kits that are mandatory if we’re to get ahead of the virus by knowing who’s infectious before they infect others (click here for a report on that). He still hasn’t issued a national shelter-in-place order. Again, he was told in January that the coronavirus pandemic was imminent and he did nothing. Now thousands are dead.

How in the world did we ever allow ourselves to become this way? Oh wait  .  .  we didn’t elect either of them. Both Bush and Trump lost their elections.


Now, For a Welcome Bit of Hope

President Nero has stopped fiddling long enough to call out the reliable guys, our military.

The Army Corps of Engineers has put its shoulder to the wheel and is setting up hospitals all across the country. They’re fitting convention centers with beds and equipment, populating sports fields with tents, beds and HVAC hardware. They’re converting hotels and barracks and stadiums and everything else that can be used to care for our sick, hobbled and wounded. Gen. Todd Seminite and the Army Corps of Engineers are the right people for this assignment and they are at last on the job.

The Navy’s two massive hospital ships were hauled out of maintenance berths with lightning speed. The USNS Mercy is now docked in Los Angeles and the USNS Comfort is docked in New York, each bringing 1,000 surge capacity beds to care for non-coronavirus patients. That will free beds in full service hospitals to focus on those with the viral infection.

Once the Comfort was docked in New York, Rear Admiral John Mustin spoke to a welcoming public and finished his remarks with words to make us all stand a little taller. Watch the 4-minute video to the end. Then feel free to salute.

It is utterly astonishing what we can do when we make the decision to be our best.


Oh Wait  .  .  .  I Just Got It!

I figured out how we became this way.

Like millions of us, I’ve been trying to understand why Trump has been so dim-witted, so counter-productive, so consistently focused on himself as Americans are dying. Now I have an answer.

Trump spent 14 seasons on The Apprentice, where contestants were incrementally eliminated. That’s how the game was played.

He would sit in his big, expensive chair, puffing himself up and demeaning others, and always he was leading a parade of people competing with everyone else to win. He never did anything to help.

That sounds idiotically like hospitals now competing for ventilators and PPE. Trump could help, but he doesn’t because to him our hospitals are nothing more than the current set of contestants vying for survival.

HE THINKS THIS COVID-19 PANDEMIC IS JUST ANOTHER ELIMINATION COMPETITION REALITY SHOW,

BECAUSE REALITY SHOWS ARE ALL HE KNOWS.

And that’s how we become this way.


Finally, the Quote of the Week
“We have this thing ass-backward. Putting the economy first instead of the people is what got us into this mess.  Fix the pandemic first. Then it will be possible for the economy to rebound.” – DZ
——————————-

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Consequences


Reading time – 3:55  .  .  .

Caution: There’s just a little bit of snark at the very end. Please practice safe snark.

We’re still in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, although if they were able to speak for themselves the over 5,800 people who have died of the illness might describe this stage a bit differently. Nevertheless, all healthcare professionals have made it clear that this is going to get far worse before it gets better. What you need to know is where we are and how we got here. That will be instructive for knowing where we must go.

To become clear about where we are with this disease you can view a regularly updated global tracker at the Johns Hopkins CSSE site. The acceleration of the numbers is most alarming, as we’re seeing a doubling of cases every six days. Click here for a most useful analogy that explains that.

As for how we got here, start with this: we knew about this virus as far back as December 2019 – a quarter of a year ago. The epidemiologists were clear at that time that this was going to be a very big problem and advised immediate preparation; however, their cautionary recommendations were ignored. Perhaps as bad, had we taken their advice, there would have been a huge obstacle to overcome in order for anything helpful to happen. Here’s why.

President Donald Trump fired the U.S. Pandemic Response Team in 2018, calling it a cost cutting measure. I don’t buy it.

The Pandemic Response Team had been instituted by President Obama following the successful battle against the Ebola virus in 2014. It included sub-teams at the CDC, the Defense Department and at the National Security Agency so that we would be ready in all those areas when – not if – the next pandemic arrived. Based on so many other episodes of Trump, in his boundless insecurity, deleting Obama’s programs regardless of their value to the nation, my belief about his motivation to disband this critical unit is that it was yet another effort to erase everything bearing Obama’s name.*

Regardless, the professionals were removed. Those firings left us with no immediate expertise or mechanisms to deal with a new pandemic. None. And Trump accepts no responsibility for that. Further, “Trump also cut [overall] funding for the CDC, forcing the CDC to cancel its efforts to help countries prevent infectious-disease threats from becoming epidemics .  .  .  Among the countries abandoned? China.”

COVID-19 was first identified in Wuhan City, China. Had we helped to mitigate its spread then, world conditions might be far better right now.

This story gets worse, as you know, because we still don’t have one tenth of one percent of the testing capability we need. The CDC’s kit was fouled by a bad reagent, making it essentially useless. Our commercial labs are still ramping up and we haven’t sourced test kits from abroad. The resources we do have are not just insufficient in quantity, but are also slow and cumbersome. There are other proven options ready to go now, including a machine made in Germany that can produce accurate results in 1 hour instead of 4 hours or even a day or two. However, the FDA is bumbling through authorization to use these machines. Here’s a link to a full report on how this COVID-19 testing ineptitude happened.

The truth is that we don’t know how many people in America have the virus because we are unable to test any but extreme cases due to our lack of test kits. That’s an impediment to our knowing who needs to be quarantined so they don’t infect others, where the virus is spreading, the extent of its impact, where to deploy resources like ventilators, protective gear for hospital staff, oxygen generation equipment, surgical masks and so much more.

During Trump’s Oval Office talk on March 11 he told us, “Testing and testing capabilities are expanding rapidly, day by day. We are moving very quickly.” None of that was true. That is a key problem, not just because of our inability to know what’s going on, but because as Trump continues to spew happy talk and magical thinking, he isn’t firmly addressing our very real challenges or providing the leadership we need. Almost as bad, he contradicts the experts who, unlike Trump, are knowledgeable. That leaves all the rest of us not knowing what to believe. That’s a potent way to spread fear.

In my day job I deliver keynotes and workshops on great leadership and I know when I don’t see it.

The point of all of this is not to pen yet another diatribe about our incompetent President. Rather, it is to illustrate how we got to where we are. We must be clear about what can happen when we aren’t careful in our political choices, because this pandemic, which could have been minimized, is in the process of killing hundreds, thousands or even millions of Americans who could have been protected had we been prepared.

Elections do have consequences and what’s happening right now is one of them.

It didn’t have to be this way.**


Links to Resources

There is a cost to getting people tested and to help those who need treatment. Watch the entire clip – ALL THE WAY TO THE END – of Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) making sure we’ll get what we’ll need.

Advice For the Public – World Health Organization – WHO

Nine Charts that Explain the Corona Virus Pandemic – Vox

CoronaVIrus (COVID-2019) – What You Should KnowCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Download and read this. It is a PDF format of an email received yesterday from a local shop and contains the comments of four doctors, two of them in Italy. It is long – please read all of it.

Beware of those who poo-poo the threat of COVID-19, claiming far more people die annually from the flu and other terrible things. Every year the flu starts with small numbers; that’s how it was with the terrible Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918; it was the same for Bubonic Plague, which eventually killed 25% of the people in Europe. The disease number comparisons are meaningless until it’s all over. Right now we can’t even see to when this corona virus will be over. Worse, these comparisons can lull people into carelessness. Ignore them.

Fun Facts

We’re already running out of respirators and, as mentioned, the patient load doubles every six days.

It is expected that between 75 – 150 million Americans will contract COVID-19 and 15-20% of those affected will require hospitalization. That’s between 11,250,000 and 30,000,000 hospital patients, nearly all of whom will need to stay a while. Those numbers don’t include patients suffering from other maladies requiring hospitalization.

There are 924,107 staffed hospital beds in the U.S.

Do the math.

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Finally, stay well and don’t do medically foolish stuff. Help your family, friends and neighbors, the old lady across the street – and do it carefully. We’re all in this together. Because Hillary Clinton was right: It takes a village. And we are that village.


  • *President Trump has repeatedly insisted that he’s not to blame for our medically threatening conditions. His having disbanded the Pandemic Response Team puts the lie to his words.
  • ** “This way” – As Granny struggles in her hospital bed, gasping for just a little more air from her respirator for her pneumonia-soaked lungs, her MAGA hat wearing family is gathered around her. They know this is the end and they weep for their love of her and for their looming loss. Then the walls shake, as the ceiling speakers boom in Darth Vader’s voice: “It is your des-ti-ny.” And they tremble in their horror and their fear, because all at once they realize that this is what they chose.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

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