Potporri – v 13.0

Reading time – 5:44  .  .  .

Culture Wars

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

Culture clash case in point

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

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

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

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

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

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


Race In America, Year 401

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

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

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

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

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


  • A Covid Vaccine and You

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

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

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

Click me for the story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Divided Government

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

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

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

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

*Except for a number of American anti-vax knuckleheads who have refused to protect their children from polio and who have consequently managed to give polio a resurgence in America. Be sure to ask someone who survived polio what they think of those people.

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

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

  • —————————————-

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

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    The Fine Print:

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


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

Transcript of the Third Debate

Transcript of former Vice-President Joseph R. Biden’s closing argument at the imaginary 3rd and final Presidential Debate, 2020

Well, folks, we’ve gotta give credit where it’s due. It’s only right.

We’ve just heard the closing argument of President Trump, giving you his best story to get you to vote for him. It was so odd that he couldn’t give us a single reason to vote for him, like what he’d do in a second term. He just whined about how he was being treated so unfairly. He offers us nothing and wants us to believe he’s a poor victim. That’s pathetic. But still, some credit is due. Here’s the credit.

Never in at least the last 100 years of presidential contests have so many lies been told in just two minutes. He’s really very good at lying. That’s the credit he’s due.

Lots of his lying is just Trump trying to make himself look good, so he makes up total fictions hoping you’ll buy the nonsense and he does it in such a tsunami of lies that there’s no chance for you to say, “Wait  .  .  .  what?” But that’s dangerous, because it puts you and your family at risk.

Like his lies about the coronavirus. Folks, we’re not rounding the bend; one thousand of us are dying every day and it’s getting worse.

Trump surrenders to COVID-19, February, 2020

We’re in the midst of the biggest surge of infections yet, now over 80,000 per day. He tells us that he’s done an incredible job with this pandemic, but the truth is that he abandoned his post and let the virus attack. He’s literally done nothing to help you stay healthy. And every day he models the very behavior most likely to make a lot more people sick and for many of them to die, like his refusal to wear a mask and like his super-spreader rallies. And just last week his chief of staff announced that they waved the white flag of surrender and won’t do a thing to protect you. All they’re doing is counting on vaccines and treatments that don’t exist.

That’s why some of the kids in your child’s school got infected and were sick for days, perhaps for weeks. Maybe it hit your child. It’s why people’s grandparents – maybe yours – got sick and died alone. It’s why our doctors and nurses are so exhausted and our hospitals are so overcrowded that you can’t get help if you have a heart attack or are involved in a car crash. That’s what has happened because this president abandoned his post. He quit.

He lies to make it sound like he’s done something useful, but he hasn’t helped you at all. He even demeans the true experts who can help you.

And he’s cut way back on testing so that the number of cases reported will be lower just to make him look good. But that doesn’t lower the actual number of people who become sick and die. How dumb does he think you are?

Folks, his lying has made the greatest country in the world look like a helpless 3rd world nation. We’re leading the world in infections, suffering and death. That doesn’t fit too well with our notion of American exceptionalism, our can-do spirit.

Sadly, Trump will never be a real live boy because he lies all the time.

Have you heard enough lies from this president?

Folks, I’ll never surrender. I’ll never wave a white flag or give up on We the People. We’re going to beat this thing together.

How about his lies about the economy? Millions of our fellow citizens – maybe you – have lost their jobs and 42% of those furloughed won’t ever be rehired – and still he lies.

He tells you how great the economy is doing. The tax cut he’s so proud of was supposed to increase your wages and stimulate new jobs. That’s what he promised you. How’s that working out for you? Folks, it was never going to happen.

Instead, he gave billions of dollars to big corporations to buy back their stock in order to increase their stock prices so that big shareholders would become even richer. And the money also went directly into the investment portfolios of other rich guys. Nearly nothing went to you, and still he lies to you about how great the economy is doing. C’mon man, gimme a break!

Have you heard enough lies from this president?

He lies to you about how great our international safety and security are, but he’s alienated all of our friends, the nations who partner with us to protect us all. And he’s sucked up to Putin and other brutal dictators, putting us all at risk and lying to you at the same time.

Have you heard enough lies from this president?

He said he was going to drain the swamp – maybe you wanted him to do that. But what he did instead was to get rid of the competent people who make the government work for us and he replaced them with industry insiders, lobbyists, big donors and incompetents. They’re all swamp creatures! Then he fired them and recruited even worse people and lied to you about that, too!

The We The People Presidential BS Detector

Have you heard enough lies from this president?

He loves to vomit out his strings of superlatives about himself, but they’re all just vapor. There’s no substance to them. They’re just more of his lies.

Folks, we all know how this works. Every one of us has a very sensitive BS detector and the big We The People BS Detector has been pegged out for 4 years. So, if you’ve had enough, if you’re sick of being lied to and cheated and put in harms way for no reason other than so Trump can grab more money, more power and more attention for himself, it’s time for you to take a stand and speak up. You do that with your vote.

This won’t cut it. If you’ve heard enough lies, you have to VOTE HIM AWAY!

Vote this liar out of office right now. Put on your mask and go to your polling place this afternoon or tomorrow morning at the latest. Get in line and stay in line to make your voice heard with your vote. Tell Trump you’re done with his lies.

Folks, this president has broken our country. Fixing it will require an end to his lies. Then we’ll put America back together again. We’ll Build Back Better and restore America’s health and honor and leadership in the world because this is the United States of America.

God bless you and God bless our troops.


Signs of Trump Insanity Affecting You

From STAT:

Three Western states join California’s Covid-19 vaccine review group

Washington, Oregon, and Nevada yesterday joined California’s Covid-19 vaccine safety review group, which will independently review any Covid-19 vaccine approved by the FDA. Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the initiative last week. The review panel is currently made up of California scientists who specialize in immunization and public health, and the governors of the three states who have joined the effort will also select and name their own experts to the panel. States are taking up this effort to verify a vaccine amid concerns about a politicized and rushed approval for a Covid-19 vaccine. In addition to these four states, New York last month also announced that any FDA-approved Covid-19 vaccine will be independently vetted by state health officials. [emphasis mine]

How insane is it that we can’t trust our formerly world leading Food and Drug Administration to ensure that our vaccines are safe and effective – this because of Trump’s lies and manipulations? There truly is nothing that Trump won’t lie about and ruin, including our confidence in those entrusted to protect us and even your health.


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.


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.


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

I’m No Anti-Vaxxer

Reading time – 6:14  .  .  .

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

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

Dr. Stephen Hahn, Commissioner, FDA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Post Office Update

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

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

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

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


Conservative Corner

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

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

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



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

From poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen:

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

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


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.


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.


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

Nagging COVID Questions

Reading time – 3:21  .  .  .

On The Hunt

It makes good sense not to put all our eggs into one basket in pursuit of a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19. That’s why we have Operation Warp Speed, wherein we are stimulating the development of vaccines along several different avenues to find one that works and to do it as quickly as possible.

We just awarded $1.6 billion to Novavax to develop enough doses of a vaccine to treat 50 million Americans (2 doses each) by early 2021. If they can do that it will be quite an accomplishment, because the world record for vaccine development for a new virus is 5 years.

In addition, “.  .  .  an international group, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, awarded up to $388 million to Novavax in May to make its coronavirus vaccine available globally.” In addition, “In June, Novavax secured a $60 million contract from the Defense Department to guarantee the delivery of 10 million doses to vaccinate American troops for the coronavirus.”

That’s a lot of money to give to a company that has never brought a product all the way to market. Why would we do that?

The Trump Administration is doing its best to prevent transparency of where our taxpayer money goes in pursuit of a vaccine. What we know is that we have sent $4 billion to a total of 6 companies to produce a vaccine and we haven’t a clue how those companies were chosen, whether they have a track record suggesting they might succeed, if there are penalties for failing to produce a vaccine or where the money is coming from – i.e. which existing programs will become underfunded in order to pay these companies to develop safe and effective vaccines five times faster than such a thing has ever been done.

Because of Trump’s secrecy we also don’t know whether there has been favoritism or any other shady behavior involved in these significant public financial awards to private companies. This may all be on the up-and-up; maybe not. But the secrecy may well become damaging to our future health and the sleight of hand would be a scandal in any other administration. Today, it’s just another day at the White House.

Oh, and by the way, vaccines are only valuable to us if We the People take them, and there is considerable resistance to doing so. Only half of us say we’ll get the vaccine when it’s available; 30% are unsure what they’ll do; and 20% of us will refuse a COVID-19 vaccine. How will we deal with that in the absence of strong scientific, medical, social and moral national leadership?

Our Government and Your Health

The mission statement of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) begins this way:

The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for protecting the public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices;

Sounds great. We want them to ensure the safety and efficacy of the medicines we put in our bodies. That’s why they did the slow work to make sure that if you contract malaria that hydroxychloroquine will be both effective against the disease and safe for you to use.

They didn’t do all the same work looking into that drug when used to treat COVID-19. But they did review its use in VA hospitals and found that it was useless against the coronavirus and an all too likely side effect of that malaria drug used against the coronavirus was death.

Now a Henry Ford study is claiming that the FDA review was flawed and – surprise! – Donald Trump is using that claim to once again promote hydroxychloroquine as a preventative and a treatment for COVID-19.

In the absence of a standard FDA approval based on its guidelines and procedures for safety, efficacy and security, why would Trump promote this drug to fight COVID-19? He’s a total know-nothing about medical and pharmacological science and has no authority to prescribe medications. That leaves us wondering about his motivation for his outrageous insistence on using this drug that has the potential to kill Americans. What’s in it for Trump to do that? Who is benefiting? As always, follow the money.


Click me

Last week Trump told us that he will “put pressure on governors and everyone else” to fully open schools in fall.

  • Nobody knows how to safely open schools in the presence of this pandemic and no nation has ever tried to send kids back to school with a virus raging at the level this one is in America. Said one school nurse in New York, “It feels like we’re playing Russian roulette with our kids and our staff,”
  • Click me

    Shouldn’t we instead consider the CDC’s clearly and consistently outlined dangers from this disease and give strong consideration to its recommendations for “opening” as we make decisions for our kids? And doesn’t our own common sense scream in our ears not to do stupid stuff?

  • Gambling with our kids’ health just isn’t a great idea. And caving in to the unhinged and self-serving demands of Donald Trump is exactly as nuts as it sounds.
Where Do You Get Your Information?

This is for our rugged individuals who refuse direction that impinges on their individual freedom or who simply don’t trust easily.

Karen Hughes

If you were to receive your coronavirus advice from a conservative Republican and if the advice were strong, clear and consistent, would you be willing to set aside your personal desires in order to do your part for the welfare of us all, including you?

Then read this essay by Karen Hughes, counselor to the president and undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs during the George W. Bush administration. Yes, that kind of conservative Republican. Then put on your mask whenever you leave home, because we can defeat this pandemic if at least 95% of us take this simple step.

And send along a link to Hughes’ essay to your friends and family who have found reasons not to wear a mask. Surely, they don’t want to put us all at greater risk, so help them to get the message.

Separate and Timely Issue: Voting By Mail

The president, vice-president and a significant proportion of senators and congressmen vote by mail. So do most of our military personnel, as do citizens who travel. Millions of people routinely vote by mail and there isn’t even a whisper of voter fraud to be heard, except what comes from the fraud-spouting mouths of politicians who are afraid for their jobs should the people make their voices heard and the majority at last rules.

Click me to learn about voting by mail in your state.

Because you don’t want to stand in line for hours with unmasked voters, you need to learn what to do to ensure you can vote by mail. Here’s a link if you live in Illinois and here’s a link if you’re a Wisconsin resident. Every state has its own website and procedures, so check for yours. I recommend doing a search on “vote by mail in ______” replacing the underscore with the name of your state. And don’t include the quotation marks in your search. Or you can click on the logo to the left and they’ll direct you. Pay careful attention to the instructions for your state because you’ll have to apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot within a defined and limited time range. Then VOTE!

Bonus Question

There are 195 countries in the world. For 10 points, list each country that erects statues to and names their military bases for traitors to their country. Submit your answer below.

Special hint (we normally don’t offer hints): This list is very short.


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.


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.


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

Science and The New Police Squads

CAUTION TO SENSITIVE READERS: This post contains snarky descriptors that include a couple of words Mom told you not to say. Reader and viewer discretion is advised.


Reading time – 4:05; Viewing time – 6:27  .  .  .

We’ve had many years of various people denying science:

It’s Sen Marco Rubio (R-FL) denying global warming, even as the tides rolled across the streets of Miami Beach, flooding the sandals and pants legs of tourists and the businesses of his constituents.

It’s Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) speaking from the well of the Senate and displaying a snowball as proof that there is no global warming .

It’s Donald Trump not only denying global warming, but blaming the entire controversy on the Chinese, saying they created a hoax designed to harm our economy. He makes his phantasmagorical claim, even as Pacific islands are swallowed by the waves.

But here’s the thing: The disappearance of huge amounts of Arctic and Antarctic ice and the commensurate rise in sea levels don’t care whether anyone believes in them; they just continue to be the stark reality.

Storms are becoming more frequent and more severe. Rainfall distribution is drastically altered, creating both zones of flooding and expanded zones of drought where those never existed. The changes are impacting food production, health and habitability. Reality denial doesn’t affect any of that.

It’s the same reality thing with gravity. It will continue to glue us to the ground and will make the Earth continue to do laps around the sun instead of flying off into the cosmos regardless of whether anyone thinks gravity exists. We know that because scientists who have studied this, who are really smart and really knowledgeable have drawn valid conclusions from facts that are irrefutable. That’s the reality, whether we like it or not.

It’s both remarkable and wondrous that each of us is free to believe whatever stupid, short-term, self-serving crap we want to believe. There are no Police Dumb-Ass Squads to lock up wingnuts who reject observable reality. But we’ve reached a new low, however impossible it may seem that there is someplace lower, and it involves the denial of science and reality.

At his hastily called press conference on Wednesday, the President of the United States gave us a verbal pat on the hand that was devoid of both reality and science. He told us not to worry because Coronavirus (COVID-19) is no biggy. He told us that we’ll have a vaccine to deal with it “very soon,” even though everyone from our government healthcare agencies to the healthcare industry itself, the people who are working to develop a vaccine, have told us flatly that it will take a minimum of 12 – 18 months before a vaccine is available, and that’s only if all goes well.

Trump continued with his reality denial, telling us that the risk of Coronavirus to Americans is small. He told us our 15 cases (actually, there were 60 when Trump spoke) would be down to 1 or 2 soon and the virus would disappear almost magically. And you can believe that’s all true only if you block your eyes and ears so that you can’t detect the lightning fast spread of this killer disease around the world.

To be clear, “risk” involves not what exists, but what may be coming. Trump ignored and continues to ignore the reality of the risk we face and he put us all in greater danger with his false words. We should be alarmed by this risk of pandemic. Not panicked; alarmed.

Trump has put VP Mike Pence at the head of our response team to deal with Coronavirus, explaining that he made that decision because of Pence’s expertise and great success when he was governor of Indiana dealing with HIV. That’s when Pence took 2 months to do anything at all. Then he refused to implement a needle sharing program that would have limited HIV infections. Then he declared the cure was to pray away HIV. That was his great success in Indiana. Seriously.

In addition, Trump has muzzled our healthcare experts, the very people we need to hear from regularly. That leaves us to decide whether we can trust whatever dribbles out of the mouths of our healthcare ignorant politicians. Putting Pence in charge and muzzling the people who actually know something about disease are yet more Trump reality denial and are likely to harm Americans.

Because as John Pavlovitz wrote, You Can’t Gaslight a Pandemic, Donald. It’s that pesky reality thing. It just won’t go away, no matter how many lies and misleading statements are spewed. And reality denial isn’t limited to politicians.

Shockingly, a group of anti-vaccine activists in Maine got an initiative called Question 1 onto their ballot, seeking to repeal a law requiring schoolchildren to be vaccinated. Their slogan is “Reject Big Pharma.” I think instead they should be honest and use the slogan, “We don’t care if our kids infect your kids.”

There’s no vaccine for Coronavirus, but when there is, the reality is that we’re going to force-vaccinate everyone in order to stop this pandemic. And we damned well will be thanking Big Pharma for saving our lives. To the anti-vaccine activists in Maine: Just shut up.

Reality tells us that we are facing an existential threat from Coronavirus, regardless of Trump’s or anyone else’s denials of science and reality. This pandemic is coming soon to a community near you and there is precious little any of us can do about it, other than to be sensibly defensive. Don’t let “He Who Lies When the Truth Would Do” lull you into passivity. His lying and misleading are now more than moral outrages; they are life threatening if we allow them to be. It’s time to prepare and to take extra healthcare measures.

And it may be time to recruit Police Dumb-Ass Squads to arrest the reality deniers, who will harm us unless we stop them. Come to think of it, we can do that on November 3rd. And we must not get this one wrong.*


*This is important: Read Tom Friedman’s astonishingly sensible post, Dems: You Can Defeat Trump in a Landslide from the Feb. 25 New York Times. Click this link to view it online or click here to download a PDF hard copy.


Quote of the Week

“Mike Bloomberg wants to buy the election with his own money. Bernie Sanders wants to buy it with ours.” – courtesy of R.M.


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.


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.


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

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