patriotism

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.

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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

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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.

Consequences In One Long and Two Short Parts


Reading time – 5:36  .  .  .

Part 1. Healthcare Wake-Up

The Kaiser Family Foundation just reported that, “.  .  .  nearly 27 million people will lose health insurance as a result of being laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Some will go on the ACA exchanges; the majority will wind up on Medicaid; and 6 million poor Americans will have no insurance at all to cover the enormous expense of battling COVID-19 or any other malady and will have to figure out the impossible. Said another way, these folks are already struggling to stay financially afloat and a COVID-19 anvil may be dumped hard onto their little boat.

I know a fellow who commented on a different catastrophe, offering a Machiavellian (or Ayn Randian) comment that sounded like this: “It’s sad, but they made their choices and now they have to live with the consequences.” Is that our official attitude toward poor people?

We’re now being told to get out there, go back to work and go shopping, where we will encounter lots of nice people, some of whom will be disease carriers and may send us to the hospital. I worry what will happen in 2 – 3 weeks to those who are packing bars now and are not wearing face masks. Indeed, the CDC tells us that the likelihood of infection is growing greater in many parts of the country.

Wait, greater? And we’re supposed to go back to work and drive the numbers still higher?

Yes, because we’re warriors, wartime President Nero tells us. So, get out there and fight. Drive up herd immunity, which to the best of my understanding, means that those who manage to survive this deadly virus will probably have immunity. Or not. The experts really don’t know how that will work. And you have to get sick first to get that immunity but you might die from the infection long before you would have become immune. Further, well over 6 million Americans won’t be able to pay for their healthcare if they survive the disease.

Can we agree that we need to figure out the best way for all of us to be able to get healthcare when we need it? Actually, we don’t all agree about that, but the overwhelming majority of us do. If that’s the goal, then how do we get there?

What I see is that we’re about to pay for the healthcare, one way or another, for an additional 27 million Americans who got laid off due to the pandemic and who have little or no insurance. What if we just put on our big boy and big girl pants and face up to the facts that the bumper stickers are right, that shit happens, and that we think everyone should be able to get healthcare irrespective of their wealth? We’re paying for much of it anyway, so what if we were intentional and created a really good solution?

I can hear Libertarians wailing and can see Ayn Rand true believers bent over with cramps. I only have two problems with that rugged individualist philosophy. First, it only works for people who are young, healthy and strong. If you can’t check all three boxes, you’re screwed. Second, Ayn Rand wrote novels – fantasies – all of it was not-real, didn’t happen stuff. Doing so brought her fame, fortune and popularity with idealistic (mostly) young men during their formative years. Most of us grew out of believing in the made-up story not long after finding out that there is no Tooth Fairy. Sen. Rand Paul and members of the House Freedom Caucus, however, didn’t get the message and are still looking under their pillows every morning. Okay, that was snark.

We’re living in the real world where not everyone is young, healthy and strong – or wealthy. Not everyone had open to them the path to true free market enlightenment and success. Some are being cast adrift due to layoffs. Doing nothing while watching that little boat of theirs sink after the anvil crashes into it is a cruel consequence of our own design.

There is a Jewish imperative – Tikkun Olam – which means “repair the world.” The Boy Scout version of that is to always leave your campsite better than you found it. Pretty good ideas. No, actually they are imperatives. What repairs are we doing to leave things better than we found them? It is our obligation to our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and they are counting on us to do the right things right right now.

Which brings us to,

Part 2. Napoleon

There is no shortage of commentary about both what Joe Biden should be doing now and speculation about his relative lack of visibility. I’m reminded of a quotation from Napoleon, used by Theodore White in his book The Making of the President 1964. White wrote,

“Never were Republicans denounced [by President Johnson] as such; the opposition was involved in its own civil war, and the president obeyed Napoleon’s maxim: Never interfere with the enemy when he is in the process of destroying himself.”

That proved to be a big help in sending Johnson’s opponent, Sen. Barry Goldwater, back to Arizona and I’m wondering if that is the advice Joe Biden is following today.

In that light, you must read Frank Bruni’s piece from April 26, “Trump Self-Destructs.” He ends his essay this way:

“Americans who take any comfort from [Trump’s nightly coronavirus briefings] were Trump-drunk long ago. The unbesotted see and hear the president for what he is: a tone-deaf showman who regards everything, even a mountain of corpses, as a stage.”

Which brings us to,

Part 3. The Math Update

Our first reported death from coronavirus was on February 6; the next two deaths were on February 26. Things ramped up slowly at first and then, as you well know, the death count ramped up very quickly.

It has been 100 days since that first case and we now have a minimum of 89,000 of our fellow citizens dead from coronavirus. We’re losing about 2,000 of our friends, neighbors and family every day, which translates to a Pearl Harbor every 1.2 days and a 9/11 every 1.5 days. The White House tells us that things could get worse and predicts that 100,000 – 240,000 Americans will die from this disease.

Well, things are worse right now. We better be really careful how we “open up” our economy, including doing COVID-19 testing in numbers a couple of orders of magnitude greater than we’re doing now or we may find out that the White House finally got something right – the counting of our dead. And that is a disastrous consequence of our federal ineptitude.

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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. Refreshing when someone wants to get the facts right, eh?
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


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

Here’s Why We Don’t Do Widespread Testing


Reading time – 3:50; Viewing time – 5:28  .  .  .

We continue to bumble along, seemingly unable to develop a reliable test to use in large quantities throughout the country to fight this awful disease. It isn’t because we don’t have access to the needed resources. Here and here are reports on testing options that have been available for months.

In contrast to our stumbling, Germany has the lowest death rate from coronavirus anywhere and it’s hard to understand why we don’t use what has been proven to be the best available testing technology and practices.  Here’s an excerpt from a report by The New York Times on how Germany is achieving relative success:

In mid-January, long before most Germans had given the virus much thought, Charité hospital in Berlin had already developed a test and posted the formula online.

By the time Germany recorded its first case of Covid-19 in February, laboratories across the country had built up a stock of test kits.

“The reason why we in Germany have so few deaths at the moment compared to the number of infected can be largely explained by the fact that we are doing an extremely large number of lab diagnoses,” said Dr. Christian Drosten, chief virologist at Charité, whose team developed the first test.

By now, Germany is conducting around 350,000 coronavirus tests a week, far more than any other European country. Early and widespread testing has allowed the authorities to slow the spread of the pandemic by isolating known cases while they are infectious. It has also enabled lifesaving treatment to be administered in a more timely way.

To test in the U.S. at a rate comparable to that of Germany we would have to do a minimum of 1.4 million tests every week, but we don’t have a sufficient supply of test kits even for as little as 10 days; then we’re out of kits. Further, the reliability of our tests has been suspect, although claims are being made that some are now reliable. Nevertheless, our ineptitude exists and continues in spite of three facts:

  1. The World Health Organization had test kits available for our use months ago, but for unexplained reasons, our government refused to use them and relied instead on a CDC test that proved to be faulty.
  2. The formula for the reliable test that Germany is using was posted online in January and was available for everyone to use, as were other kits, but we refused those, too.
  3. President Nero invoked the Defense Protection Act and could have forced many manufacturers and labs to ramp up to produce as many  millions of tests as we need. BUT HE HASN’T DONE THAT.

On May 5 Trump made things worse by having Vice President Pence announce that he is disbanding the coronavirus task force by the end of the month. He essentially said that he is giving up without firing a shot. We would be left to suffer and many to die due to a complete lack of coherent leadership.

One day later, and in typical Trump flip-flopping fashion, he reversed that. He had been stung by the very negative public response to his disbanding decision, so he announced that now the task force will continue. But we’re left exactly the same as before, wondering if Trump and his team of incompetents will ever actually do something to help the people. Here’s why they haven’t and why they won’t.

If Trump were to take clear, decisive action, like organizing massive, national testing, he would be putting a stake in the ground, making himself accountable for results. If the results don’t turn out to be good – and it’s obvious that outcomes from this coronavirus are dreadful and will only become worse – Trump’s culpability would be on display for all to see. But Trump never accepts responsibility for anything unless he can claim victory, so once again he’s set things up for him to skate,

and he’s doing nothing.

 

Click me for the story

You can depend upon Trump to continue to do nothing to fight this killer disease. You can depend upon him to continue to blame others when things go wrong. You can depend upon him to care nothing about the suffering and dying that is all around. You can depend upon him to focus solely on what’s good for Trump.

Turns out that’s a multiple whammy.

The lack of a robust testing protocol is why we don’t have accurate, targeted quarantines to prevent the spread of the disease. Lacking that testing information is why we’re all quarantined and why the disease continues to spread and why millions are out of work and out of money. And that financial nightmare for millions of Americans is why we are in a financial depression from which it will take years to recover. And that financial depression is why we will be at far greater risk from international bad actors for a long time.

In other words, our human carnage catastrophe, our economic peril and our future foreign vulnerabilities are largely self-inflicted injuries that are due to the cowardice, ineptitude and total self-focus of Donald Trump.

That is why we don’t do widespread testing to control coronavirus and protect the people.

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If you’d like to learn about the kind of leadership we truly need, my pal John Calia recently penned a post that provides that clarity. Read it here.

And watch this ad from The Lincoln Project. The message from these traditional conservatives has Trump apoplectic, so instead of focusing on our  dire national circumstances, he’s using his presidential time to rage tweet. Decide for yourself if someone telling truths he doesn’t like is justification for him abandoning his post.

NOTE – be sure to click the SKIP ADS button on the right side of the YouTube video.

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Looking for a way to make a difference? Check out the One Minute Activist list right here. Not in the Chicago area? Just substitute organizations in your area as appropriate and go make a difference. Yes, today.

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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.

Mom


Reading time – 4:12; Viewing time – 6:53  .  .  .

My mother was a teen during the Great Depression and came of age during WW II. She was from that generation. Tom Brokaw dubbed it The Greatest Generation and the label stuck, this for obvious reasons.

This was a generation without a sense of entitlement, who followed the rules and simply did what needed to be done, regardless of the risks and hardships. And one of the things that needed to be done was to stop Adolph Hitler from brutalizing  and enslaving the entire world.

From the late 1940s through early 60s the world repeatedly came face-to-face with the indescribable evil of the Holocaust, as Nazis were found and prosecuted. Most notorious was Adolph Eichmann, the architect of the Nazis’ “final solution.” The death camps were factories of his design, created to manipulate prisoners so the Nazis’ mechanized murdering would be efficient. Efficiency was a proud trait of the Germans, so they put a sign at the entrance to Auschwitz, the murder center in Poland where 1.1 million people were gassed and cremated. That sign still stands and you can see it in the picture on the left.

The words translate roughly to “Work makes you free,” suggesting an entirely false and cruel promise for the future, if prisoners would work hard. Both the manipulation and the death were complete.

I recall with frightening clarity a conversation I had with my parents when I was an idealistic teen about those death camp horrors. I was raised in red, white and blue America, land of the free and the home of the brave, so I said of the Holocaust, “It’s so good that that could never happen here.”

My mother gave a start and said (and this is word for word), “Oh yes it could. You better watch out.”

I had no idea how she could have said that. I mean this was the country of people wearing the white hats, who are forever the good guys. This is the country that fought and bled and died to kill that hate monster. This is the country of my dad, who, like millions of others, risked his life over and over so we would be free.

Yet now we have a president who proudly tells us that there were good people on both sides in Charlottesville, one side of which was composed of white supremacist Nazis. We have a never ending parade of angry citizens carrying assault rifles to intimidate our people over any and every imagined grievance. And we have protesters who want our entire economy “opened up,” regardless of the mortal consequences to tens of millions of us.

If she’s protesting the lockdown, why is she wearing a protective face mask? Where is the courage of her convictions?

They’re carrying Nazi flags and declaring how aggrieved they are, this to justify their demands and their hate. The president continues to tell us what good people they are, these swastika brandishing thugs. And not even a single Republican in Congress has the courage or decency to stand up and declare the obvious evil and hate these people are spewing.

There was an “anti-lockdown” protest in Chicago last weekend. It was clearly a temper tantrum aimed at those in government and the dedicated scientists who are working to keep us safe from coronavirus. One woman at that rally carried the sign you see to the right displaying the very words of the sign at the entrance to Auschwitz. Her bottomlessly sad and incongruous companion piece is that her coronavirus face mask is a U.S. flag.

Another Chicago lockdown protester with her hate on display.

The “JB” on that woman’s sign refers to J.B. Pritzker, Governor of Illinois. He’s Jewish. I’m thinking that her true message, as for that of the woman in the picture to the left who was at that same protest, has nothing to do with the lockdown and has everything to do with their hatred.

That first woman was asked about her sign and she invoked the “Some of my friends are Jewish” defense, as though that would fully relieve her of responsibility for the vileness of her bigotry. It doesn’t. In fact, that claim is proof positive of her hatred, as she carries a replica of the evil, hateful sign at the entrance to Auschwitz. And the President tells us she’s one of the “good people.”

Don’t lull yourself into passivity, thinking these are just fools carrying signs. It’s what is in their hearts that matters and we can be confident that they, along with the self-important militias all around the country and the online hate spewers and the Nazi wannabees in their brown shirt costumes and the people who assaulted the Michigan State Capitol building with weapons of war strapped to them as they shouted their hate – all of them long for a totalitarian state aligned with their bigotry. That’s the way genocide starts – every time, everywhere. In other words, we have the seeds of a holocaust right here in America right now.

It turns out that Mom was right. And I’m following her clear direction: I’m watching out.

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Finally,

New projections are in, as two events are happening simultaneously.

The first is that the number of deaths from coronavirus are heading sharply upward. The experts (epidemiologists, not blathering economists or law professors or self-serving politicians) tell us that by June 1 over 3,000 Americans will die every day from this disease (daily 9/11s, a Vietnam every 2 months)) and there may eventually be hundreds of thousands of us dead, all things being equal. But all things aren’t equal, because at the same time as death counts are skyrocketing, the second event is happening.

At the direction of the President, states are incrementally “opening up,” meaning that more people are being allowed to open their businesses, employees are going back to work and generally lots of us will be exposed to far more people, some of whom are undoubtedly asymptomatic carriers of coronavirus who will unknowingly infect many others. Maybe you.

So, while there is still a moment, I say au revoir to those who are in the coronavirus death bulls eye. Perhaps we knew one another – ’twas great; perhaps we didn’t. What’s for sure is that now we know that we won’t ever meet. One of us will have disappeared permanently. Maybe both of us.

And a large percentage of those who will die long before their time was due will depart thanks to politicians deciding that money and their elections are more important than your life. Too bad for you. And me.

Program note: Look for an explanation on Sunday, May 10 for why we don’t do the testing that is mandatory in order to beat this disease.

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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.

Absolute Power


Reading time – 4:36  .  .  .

It’s plain to see that the President of the United States is, at best, severely dragging feet to deal with our national health emergency. He was warned repeatedly (over a dozen times) in his President’s Daily Briefs as far back as January that this pandemic would happen. The CDC had reports from China and their own on-the-ground evidence of the imminent danger and they issued warnings as early as November of the catastrophe that was headed our way.

We have known all along that continuing, extensive testing was and would be mandatory to minimize suffering and death, yet Trump has done everything possible to avoid our having the capacity to do what is needed to protect us.

Trump has invoked the Defense Protection Act, but hasn’t taken any of the actions it enables except for forcing meat producers to continue operations. That means that our formidable manufacturing capabilities remain idle or focused elsewhere. Why would Trump choose all this and so much more counterproductive behavior? Here’s what I see.

1. Trump never shoulders responsibility, never admits mistakes, never acknowledges errors and always prefers a fatuous lie over simple truth. In a larger context, this sets up Trump to blame anyone and everyone else when things go bad.

In refusing to mobilize a massive national testing program and deflecting all responsibility to state governors, he allows himself to blame excess death on those same governors. And he helps to diminish governors in the eyes of the public by having the federal government snatch up PPE. That makes PPE unavailable to many states and their hospitals and doctors. That makes governors appear to be unsuccessful and they go to the bulls eye of Trump’s blame target.

If you want more power for yourself, undermine others who have power.

2. Trump has consistently removed the most qualified and effective people from positions of power, having fired most experts, and replaced them with Trump sycophants. A recent example is the removal of Dr. Rick Bright from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. Removing the smartest, most capable people is a very effective way to ensure sub-optimal results, but that’s not Trump’s concern. He’s after something much bigger and more personal to him.

His next step was to place Brian Harrison in the position of senior lead on the Health and Human Services (HHS) coronavirus task force. Harrison is an expert in his field. The problem for us is that his field is breeding Labradoodle dogs. Harrison replaced Peter Urbanowicz, who had decades of experience of healthcare leadership.

If you want more power for yourself, get rid of all expertise.

3. Trump has consistently demeaned allies who lead democratic nations, like Trudeau, Merkel and Macron and has consistently praised murderous, tyrannical dictators, like Putin, Xi, Duerte, Erdoğan and Kim. He’s told us repeatedly how beautiful it would be if he had absolute authority and has even claimed it for himself.

If you want more power for yourself, attack everything democratic and align yourself with autocrats.

4. Trump began his campaign to be president with racial and nationalist slurs and foreign policy lies. He repeatedly attempted a Muslim ban, in violation of the First Amendment. He has cruelly treated asylum seekers, separating children from their parents, such that we are now housing over 1,500 children in cages, kids for whom we have no method to reunite them with their now-deported parents.

He spent years taking counsel from Steve Bannon, who unequivocally promotes that we “tear it all down,” meaning our institutions that make for a solid society and a stable nation. It appears that Trump learned well.

He has demolished the guardrails of our democracy everywhere and has used his constant Twitter feed to intimidate those with the power to stop him. And he has made a mockery of our most cherished values and institutions.

If you want more power for yourself, tear down everything else.

5. This pandemic is not just a national emergency, but a worldwide emergency. Paraphrasing Rohm Emanual, autocrats never let a pandemic go to waste, and Trump certainly isn’t wasting this one. Envision this.

With the world in crisis and our country medically, economically and militarily hobbled, grabbing extra executive powers to deal with the crisis may play well with millions of Red state, MAGA hat wearing Americans. Anyone in charge who had megalomaniac tendencies would do exactly that. This is a moment made for someone who thinks he should be President for life, an idea he has suggested more than once.

He would declare a national emergency. Checked that box. Stronger still would be to wait for the next domestic attack, like a white supremacist attacking a temple or mosque or church, or a deranged, angry loser gunning down children in school, or a sicko in a hotel window murdering concert goers. That’s all going to happen again, and in the midst of this coronavirus pandemic, that will be the opportunity to declare martial law. He’ll claim it’s for the protection of the American people, but that won’t be true. What will be true is that our democracy will officially be gone.

If you want absolute power for yourself, use a crisis to grab all of it.

Does all that sound unbelievable? If so, you better have another look at the obvious tracks on our national path. The place to look further is George Packer’s remarkable essay in The Atlantic, “How to Destroy a Government.” It is a frightful and accurate narrative of what has happened and is continuing to happen to our country and is a must-read.

And read Sheila Markin’s post to see what President Nero is doing. It’s all about aggregating power for himself. The question for us is whether we are and will be ready to do whatever it takes so that our democracy endures.

——————————-

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. Refreshing when someone wants to get the facts right, eh?
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


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

Potpourri v11.0 – The “How Can We Be This Stupid?” Edition


Reading time – 3:41  .  .  .

Yeah, I know this sounds like conspiracy craziness, but .  .  .

Dr. Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, has been kicked out of his post. Reports STAT, “Bright’s career has largely centered around vaccine and drug development. His work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention focused on influenza viruses, antiviral drugs and tests.” Sounds like the kind of guy we need right now.

But reports are that Dr. Bright and Bob Kadlec, the current HHS assistant secretary for – get this – preparedness and response, had a little conflict. In fact, Bright foolishly pointed out the homicidal stupidity of recommending hydroxychloroquine to treat patients with COVID-19. That’s the drug prescribed by Dr. Trump and recommended by the prime time Fox News clueless hysterions and which hasn’t been shown to be effective against this virus but has been shown to kill patients.

Let’s see: A doctor, an expert scientist in his field, had the temerity to say something truthful and important that Trump didn’t like. Rather than listening to this guy who actually knows something, Trump and his know-nothings instead did what they always do. They always purge the best people – in this case, a really Bright one, in both senses of the word – and replace them with Trump hacks, like the know-nothing former Labradoodle breeder who is now the senior lead on the Health and Human Services (HHS) coronavirus task force. In this hour of our desperate need, what could possibly go wrong?

Actually, it sounds like a conspiracy to ensure things really do go wrong. Truly stupid.


No matter what the President says, DON’T drink me.

A reader wrote to me,

I’m reading about the latest bill passed to send $ to “SMALL” businesses. Every article mentions that the prior bill ran out of money in 3 weeks because the majority of money was sent to “LARGE” corporations. So, my question is: why is there no one in public office demanding that the government require the large corporations to return the $ so that it can be redirected to the smaller businesses, which were the intended recipients of the $ in the first place? What am I missing here?

If those large businesses fell within the program guidelines (guidelines that were created to support small businesses), then where was the oversight among all those professionals when the guidelines were created? Surely, someone should have been charged with assuring the money would go to the right companies. Seems like a slam dunk job to me.

Dear Reader,

And DON’T inhale me. No, really.

Thanks for your comments. I have no satisfactory answers. Nevertheless, I offer this:

  1. I have not heard of anyone in a position to do anything about it say a word suggesting a give-back.
  2. To the best of my knowledge, those larger businesses fell within the guidelines of the federal program – even the hedge fund operators who sucked cash from the trough. It’s crazy that these folks who clearly don’t need help could do that legally. Where, indeed, was the oversight?
  3. The larger companies commonly have a strong relationship with their bankers and they have the in-house professional expertise to apply for money from the program. Not so much for the mom and pop shops or small manufacturers. That effectively aced a lot of them out of the program.
  4. The whole thing was chaos, because the program was suddenly dumped on banks with very little in the way of direction to process these loans. Like so much during the Trump era, it was ready, fire, aim, only this time it was Congress that did it. They were in such a hurry to get money to businesses that they failed to be more clear in the process to ensure they’d help the little guys and not the hedge fund managers.

Gotta give Congress credit for earnestly wanting to help small businesses. But there was something stupid about the guardrails for the program. Do you suppose that’s fixed in the next tranche of funding?


In this time of crisis, we need the President standing a post on that wall. Instead he’s playing a constant game of Top That Lie.

On Thursday of last week Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested, ”  .  .  .  that states hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak should be allowed to seek bankruptcy protections rather than be given a federal bailout.” This was specifically aimed at diminishing Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and pension obligations of the states. From reader John Anderson ([email protected]):

Today Mitch McConnell suddenly got concerned about government spending.

He was not concerned after the so called tax cut bill.

He was not concerned after the recent stimulus bill.

He was not concerned when the Senate passed another stimulus bill yesterday.

Today, he WAS concerned. He talked about the need to cut spending. For him that means cutting Social Security and Medicare. Not cutting Defense Spending. He’s said that before. Only a partial scare there.

Now the SCARY part.

He suggested that maybe, just maybe, states should be allowed to declare bankruptcy. He didn’t suggest that states could default on bonds. For him, bankruptcy of the states means they would reduce or completely default on the pensions for all people who earned those pensions – millions of police, fire, state parks employees, road crews, teachers, librarians, city employees and all others drawing state or local funds. If you’re one of those people who had to forego pay increases for the promise of future income (a pension) and who kicked in their own money to the fund, THIS IS SCARY.

I mentioned this a few years ago when Illinois attempted to change the pension terms. The Illinois Retired Teachers Association sued (Quinn v. Hearon) and won in a unanimous decision. When I wrote about this, some responses to my article were hostile, but consider this.

After WWII, Stalin took care of the USSR’s war debt by declaring that the USSR was going to write those war bonds off and thanked the Soviet citizens for their contributions. That’s essentially what McConnell wants to do to those on Social Security and Medicare and clearly thinks that the states should declare bankruptcy and default on the pension obligations to their former employees.

Responding to John, per IllinoisPolicy.org, “In fiscal year 2019, state estimates of Illinois’ total unfunded pension liability rose to $137 billion.” That’s just for the state pensions and doesn’t include city or county obligations; furthermore, the state is broke. And dealing with coronavirus is digging an even deeper hole.

Of course, this is all the result of kicking the can down the road for many decades – generations, really – refusing to fund the liability and stealing from the fund when desired. This is equal opportunity stupidity, proudly done by both Republicans and Democrats and Illinois isn’t the only state where this is happening.

Nevertheless, this bankruptcy thing is stupid on a world class level. Congratulations are due to Mitch McConnell for cavalierly flipping off 50 states and their present and former employees. On the other hand, he’s inadvertently helping to turn red states blue.


© Joshua A. Bickel/The Columbus Dispatch, via Associated Press. Protesters gathered at the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio.

Finally, we have to pay homage to the many rugged individualist Americans who, with AR-15s and testosterone proudly on display, proclaim we mustn’t tread on them. They bellow in thunderous voices that we can’t tell them what to do, as they ascend the steps of our state capitols to loudly proclaim their demands.

They’re insisting on an end to our punishing stay-at-home orders and that we “open up” our economy and let them get back to work to earn their pay and re-assert control of their lives. Let us all raise a vinyl-gloved fist in solidarity with these true descendants of the original Revolution, as they wave their Nazi and Confederate flags on the sidewalk.

There is a powerful message in their behavior, as they make a mosh pit of protest, absent masks and gloves. The message is their nomination of themselves for the 2020 Darwin Awards.

These awards are given annually to people who have helped the most to improve our gene pool by removing themselves from it. And surely many of these angry protesters will fall in the Battle of the Daft, having been infected by contagious fellow protesters. Sadly, we soon won’t be able to identify these COVID-19 volunteers from others, because once a ventilator tube goes down a throat and a plastic mask covers a face, everyone looks pretty much the same.

How can we be this stupid?

——————————-

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. Refreshing when someone wants to get the facts right, eh?
  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.

You Need To Understand This


Reading time – 5:19  .  .  .

Sure, you’re sick of coronavirus 24/7, but it’s killing so many of our family and friends that we need to know the truth. For that, read Sheila Markin’s post and you’ll understand both what’s happened and what needs to happen.

The president can’t tell the difference between reality and a reality TV show, but you know what he doesn’t know, that when people die from coronavirus they’re permanently dead. They won’t come back for the next episode. That’s why you and I need to understand reality, including what must be done.

This is important, because even if the virus fades during our warm months, it will be back next autumn and winter and will kill many more of us unless we do the right things all along. That’s why it is not hyperbole to say that the general election this November 3 is the most important of your lifetime. It really will be a life or death choice.

——————–

Connected to that, you also need to understand the devolution of our welfare, our politics and our democracy.

In 2016 you saw enthusiastic Trump supporters chanting at every campaign rally, “Lock her up! Lock her up!” It was all about some unsubstantiated accusation that Hillary Clinton had broken some unnamed law at some unidentified time according to some unknown evidence and some unavailable accusers. Nevertheless, the hate chanting was enjoyed by all in attendance. What a power rush for them!

Now it’s back.

Click me

Nancy Kohn, Just Cause

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has Michigan on lock down against the spread of coronavirus and, of course, nobody likes being locked down. The far right hair-on-fire types don’t just dislike that: they rebel violently against anyone telling them what to do.

They organized a rally on the steps of the capitol building in Lansing to protest and demand that Michigan be “reopened.” They invoked Revolutionary War era slogans to amplify their aggrieved insistence. Clearly, their individual wants are more important to them than that they may be killing others by passing their asymptomatic  infection – like to you or to your granny or to your children. And their self-focus stands in gob-smacking contrast to the over 2,000 Michiganders who are now dead from coronavirus, as though that never happened.

Bear in mind that LESS THAN 1% OF ALL AMERICANS HAVE BEEN TESTED FOR CORONAVIRUS. That means that WE DON’T EVEN KNOW WHO’S SICK AND INFECTING OTHERS AND WHO WILL INFECT MANY MORE OTHERS IF EVERYONE IS SET FREE TO COUGH AND SNEEZE CLOSE TO ONE ANOTHER. But no matter, Governor Whitmer. the Michigan protesters are telling you plainly that you can’t tell them what to do.

© Joshua A. Bickel/The Columbus Dispatch, via Associated Press Protesters gathered at the Statehouse on Monday in Columbus, Ohio.

Of course, there was no social distancing among the protesters as they marched and shouted, nor was anyone wearing a mask or gloves. Perhaps they think the power of their dark side is so dreadful that the virus can’t touch them. Sadly, they almost certainly have a nasty surprise coming. Some of those protesters surely were infecting others and the virus will spread among them and likely to yet others, too.

They were carrying the de rigueur symbols, the Don’t Tread On Me flag, the ultimate victim symbol, and a Confederate flag, the ultimate anti-patriotism flag. There were Nazi flags, too, yet they think of themselves as true patriots. And, as you already suspect, without any evidence of Michigan gubernatorial wrongdoing, they were chanting, “Lock her up! Lock her up!” What a power rush for them!

This is what now passes as Republicanism.

This is what now passes as conservatism.

This is what now passes as patriotism.

This is what now threatens our lives, our democracy and our entire republic.

I believe we are reaching an inflection point, the path to which was instigated by Ronald Reagan’s intentional demeaning of government, with his repeated mantra that, “Government is the problem.” He began a cascade of attacks and criticism telling citizens not to trust government (and gave them reason with his Iran-Contra lawlessness), and led us to despise the commons. The Newt Gingrich crazies, the Tea Party crazies, the alt-right crazies and the Freedom Caucus crazies were and are ego power trips for the angry and all about destabilizing government and even overthrowing it. Steve Bannon, Trump’s anarchy whisperer, was and is all about “tearing it all down” – his words. These blatherers are all big megaphones for selfish anger.

If you’re angry at government, perhaps filled with rage over perceived betrayal, tearing it all down sounds pretty good. You believe that the Second Amendment is foremost a message from the Founders to arm yourself against your own government, rather than its original meaning, to be a substitute for a then-unaffordable standing army in case the British came back, which they did. You believe that the Declaration of Independence says, “.  .  .  whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it  .  .  .” and that it means we should tear it all down because you’re not happy about some things and, of course, it’s all about what you want. In Jefferson’s 1787 letter to the son-in-law of John Adams he wrote, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” You quote that, finding justification for insurrection and violence. Of course, it’s always about someone else’s blood.

If you’re angry at government, perhaps filled with rage, you have guns, concealed carry, flag symbols so that you feel connected to some imagined noble cause of the past and you don’t play well with others. You insist that your rugged independence is more important than our collective welfare. So, you show up on the steps of the Michigan capitol building and you yell and you spit and cough and sneeze with your fellow coronavirus protesters. “You have to disobey,” you declare, with your Uzi strapped to your back and your Glock in your holster. What a power rush for you!

Just like all of us, these people want to go back to work. They want their old normal lives back. We all get it. The only thing that’s missing is their having any concern whatsoever for anyone else. It’s an astonishingly selfish stand to say, “My individual rights are more important than yours, even when I infect you and others, some of whom will die. I’m more important than all of us.”

Philadelphia didn’t cancel a parade during a 1918 pandemic. The results were devastating. Click the pic for the story.

All of that is bolstered by a president who doesn’t clearly call for individual sacrifice for the welfare of us all. Instead, he stokes division, telling us to follow the direction of our governors, then he encourages protesters to refuse to comply. Instead of leading a healthcare Manhattan Project, he seeks to set up others for blame when the whole thing explodes, as it’s doing right now. Indeed, the protesters are led by a president whose only interest is in what serves him, which is to say, selfishness is what is most important. This is the same president who has warned of violence by “his people” should he be removed from office. Read more about our ongoing “Wartime President’s” dysfunction here.

So, Reagan’s starting point has led us to where we are now, this inflection point, where mob behavior is our standard. In the 1960s conservatives contorted themselves into pretzels condemning protests against the Vietnam War, calling the protesters nothing less than a mob and other considerably less savory names. Now our self-defined patriotic conservatives are on the steps of our state capitol buildings as frothing mobs themselves, and somehow they now think that’s good.

The conservatives we elected to Congress drove our lobbyist-funded redirection of the Second Amendment, making it legal to take your AR-15 to your kid’s school or to the grocery store. After all, you never know when a threat might appear and assault weapons might be needed in the toilet paper aisle. And these protesters brought their heavy armor to the rally in Lansing, thinking they’re were making their point stronger. Actually, all they did was to threaten our domestic tranquility and make it clear that it’s their way or it’s violently their way.

This worldwide pandemic will have effects that will last decades and will impact everyone in ways not yet contemplated. An absolutist mind won’t tolerate that well. These people have been trained for decades by leaders teaching them that government is the enemy. Right now their lives, as for all of us, have been turned upside down, they’re more angry than usual and they aren’t about to tolerate that disruption, that abridgement of their individual rights, without making a lot of noise and threats. And this president has stoked their violence for years.

And they have guns.

——————————-

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.

Royal Leadership


Reading time – 2:53  .  .  .

It’s so difficult seeing the President of the United States bumbling us to death.

First he ignored the experts because, as in all things, he believes that he knows better than any of them. That caused two months of delay in taking action to minimize the spread and impact of this highly contagious and deadly disease. Then he lied to us over and over, claiming there is minimal risk from COVID-19, as though his words would make things so. Then he blew off our governors who knew they would be facing healthcare disasters in just a short time and he let us know that he would favor states and governors who had been “nice” to him. He made no mention of our sick and dying people. That’s Trump leadership.

Compare that to the leadership offered to the children of Britain during the darkest days of the Battle of Britain. Princess Elizabeth was 14 years old in 1940, when she provided a clear, caring radio message, offering understanding and hope to the children of those besieged islands. Listen to her here and imagine receiving her message in that world gone mad.

She is now 93-year-old Queen Elizabeth, the same person who spoke to and comforted children back in that awful time. On Sunday she was once again called upon to bring her calm resolve to offer reassurance and hope to all the world, a place that has once again gone mad. Listen to her here and imagine you’re a front line healthcare worker or you’re quarantined at home as a loved one lies on a gurney in the hallway of a vastly overcrowded hospital ER. This is what you need to hear. This is what great leadership looks and sounds like.


One of the most difficult parts of this pandemic is a sense of helplessness; it feels like there’s nothing we can do to make things better. Sitting passively in our homes is frustrating, in part because we are human beings, so we are wired to solve problems, to fix what’s broken. So, if there weren’t enough anxiety already driven by this life threatening disease, our anxiety is amped up by seeing no way to contribute to a solution. But there are things we can do.

Many people are sewing face masks. Just try to buy 1/4″ elastic and you’ll find it out of stock everywhere because so many people have purchased it to make masks at home to donate to our heroes who risk their lives for us. And yes, that includes the healthcare workers, as well as the cleaning and maintenance workers in the hospitals and clinics. And it includes workers in the grocery stores who keep showing up so you can get food – and yes, TP, also. And it includes the people who deliver your online purchases so you don’t have to go out and risk exposure. Some people have figured out ways to construct full face shields and are delivering them to hospitals by the thousands. And there are more ways to help.

Contact the Red Cross and make an appointment to donate blood. They will soon be desperate for it, so let’s head that off at the pass. The earliest I could get an appointment to donate was April 26. I’ll be  there and I’ll be looking for you to lend the inside of your elbow, too.

——————————-

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 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
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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.

Thinking About Long Term Ramifications


Reading time – 4:33; Viewing time – 7:08  .  .  .

Ed. note: Read to the end – there are two treats waiting for you there.

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First, a heads up.

I talked with a woman who is involved with supply at our local hospital. I offered supplies I have on hand, including a handful of masks and a couple of large boxes of vinyl exam gloves. She said that they are in the process of setting up a receiving station for donations and will be posting on their website what their needs are expected to be. It’s not too big of a leap to expect that all 6,146 hospitals in the country will need that kind of help. So, call your local hospital or clinic or look at their website and find out what they need. You just might have it.

As this woman told me,

“We can see the train is coming fast and we’re still laying tracks.”

If they are going to be able to help others – perhaps even you – they need our help NOW. Pick up the phone.

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Everyone is stressed both by the immediate changes in our lives due to the coronavirus and by the unknown that seems to be all around us. It certainly is waiting for us up ahead.

I’ve been thinking about possible longer term ramifications of this pandemic on levels beyond our day-to-day lives. There are a lot of areas to explore and right now I want to have a look at how some might exploit this upheaval-by-pandemic for their own benefit and to the detriment of us.

First to come to mind is Donald Trump. Given that his sole focus is on what is good for himself, I can easily imagine him using this national emergency to cancel the general election in November and make himself king. Congress and the courts are going to have to grow a spine in order to stop such an outright theft of America and I have my doubts about whether they’re up to it. Trump-Republican legislators have shown conclusive proof that aren’t capable of the task and we have to wonder if the Trump-stuffed Supreme Court would would have the courage to decide against him. Trump has toyed with this idea of never leaving office and that was before there was a pandemic he could use as an excuse.

Next on the list is Russia. I don’t know what Vladimir Putin might try, but he’s all about self-enrichment and restoring his country to USSR status on the world stage (read: ego puffing). His methodology doesn’t much include growing Russia or the welfare of his people, but instead he’s all about taking down other countries. It’s the classic inferiority-complex bully tactic – making someone else less-than in order to be on top. Perhaps he’ll have Russian tanks invade neighboring countries while we’re weak. There’s nothing new about Russia doing that sort of thing. Maybe he’ll extort European countries by withholding Russian gas and oil next winter. I’m not clear what he might do to take down western democracies including the U.S., other than stealing elections using his cyber thugs, but I bet he is.

China is entirely about world domination and the U.S. is both its biggest obstacle and its easiest tool. They will come out of the pandemic months before the U.S. with a billion and a half workers who are healthy, hungry and subservient to their manipulative, diabolical government. China has issued government subsidies to help Chinese companies under-price American goods and they took over 3.7 million jobs from the U.S. just since 2001. Plus they’re holding $1.1 trillion of U.S. debt, about a quarter of our total foreign debt. That’s a lot of leverage. Would they crack down on Hong Kong or swallow Taiwan during America’s time of weakness? As with Russia, I’m not clear what they might do to harm others for their benefit, including harming the U.S., but I’m confident President Xi is.

What about North Korea? The coming months might be just the time when Kim will make a move on South Korea to annex it, to create “One Korea,” knowing that the U.S. is only hobbling along in a weakened state and can’t or won’t do much about it.

Here are the key questions:

  1. Who in our government is thinking about such things? Given the bumbling, reactionary, transactional nature of this administration, is anyone thinking strategically and beyond next Thursday?
  2. Are there plans on the shelf to deal with these threats and are they up to date? If not, who will do something about that and when?
  3. Will anyone pull the trigger on these plans if one outcome of doing so is unfavorable to Trump’s personal welfare (e.g. no Trump Tower-Moscow)?

Who and what else do you think might be in position to seize advantage over the U.S. in the next 1 – 3 years? Put your notions in the Comments section to help us all see clearly.


Now, a Long Term Ramifications Mini-Feature

There’s something about we human beings that, whatever the issue, we typically don’t really get it until it’s relatable to us personally.

So it was for Pharaoh enduring the plagues, Exodus tells us. He wasn’t motivated until the 10th plague, the slaying of the firstborn, which took his own son. Then it was personal enough for him. That’s when he got it.

That same inability to get it without feeling a personal impact is with us today.

Mark and Heaven Frilot of Kenner, LA weren’t much moved by claims from our medical community of the coming and rapidly spreading pandemic and many in their town scoffed at warnings, believing them to be just political ploy. They did that right up to the moment when Mark wound up in the hospital and was diagnosed with COVID-19. He hasn’t been able to breathe on his own since then and friends and colleagues are wondering if contact with him has caused them to be infected. Heaven and her neighbors aren’t scoffing at the virus now, but it had to come up close and personal for them to really get it.

As the author of the report about Mark and Heaven Frilot writes, “Crises are political only until they are personal.” And people scoffing and refusing to believe the experts until they themselves are touched by this disease will inevitably be cavalier or worse about transmission. Their flip disregard will make it spread faster and farther. This age of disbelief in science, learning, experts and provable fact is fertile ground for enormous suffering and unnecessary death. And that’s a very long term ramification.

You can  read the full story about the Frilots here.

* From Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889):

“Words realize nothing, vivify nothing to you, unless you have suffered in your own person the thing which the words try to describe.”


Finally, from the “I wish I were making this up” file  .  .  .

At his press conference on Monday, March 23 President Trump explained that George Washington kept two desks and implied that one was used to run his personal business, the other for Presidential duties. He compared himself to Washington and whined that nobody complained about what Washington did.

Then he reminded everyone for the umpteenth time that he has refused the presidential salary and whined yet again that no one has thanked him for doing that.

In other words, in a time of worldwide sickness and death and economic hardship, a time of disruption and fear when all in this nation are looking for leadership, someone to trust to have their welfare in his heart, someone with clarity to lead us out of this darkness, instead it’s all about Trump and how he’s a poor victim.

Yes, many of our governors and mayors are stepping up and providing wonderful leadership, but there are some things only the federal government can do. We need reason to have confidence that they’re being done to the very best of our ability as a nation. We’re still looking for that.

Leadership is a peculiar thing and it’s most necessary in times of crisis. If it doesn’t show up soon, what are the long term ramifications of that?


P.S. #1 – Read Elizabeth Warren’s requirements for the proposed government bailout. Then see P.S. #2.

P.S. #2 – From the “How Does This Make Sense?” file: Does it make any sense to you that Congress is preparing to spend $2 TRILLION of our money – I mean yours and mine – without so much as a single public hearing or floor debate? That everything is being done in secret? That 80% of Americans don’t trust or approve of the job performance of the very people working in dark corners to spend us into unfathomable debt? What are the long term ramifications of that?

P.S. #3 – How ’bout something to make you smile? In this time of great stress, watch this. It will brighten your day. Many thanks to JA for the tip. And for sure listen to Neil Diamond sing Sweet Caroline, adjusted for our current circumstances. You supply the descending “bum-bum-bum”.

————————————


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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

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