About Me

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Jack is a graduate of Rutgers University where he majored in history. His career in the life and health insurance industry involved medical risk selection and brokerage management. Retired in Florida for over two decades after many years in NJ and NY, he occasionally writes, paints, plays poker, participates in play readings and is catching up on Shakespeare, Melville and Joyce, etc.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Not Yet the Time for Economic Recovery and why has the Afro-Amrican Community been so Hard Hit

Covid19 and the Afro-American Community

Why are Afro Americans contracting Covid19, and dying, in greater numbers than other ethnic groups?   Two reasons, which unfortunately may be based on inaccurate stereotypes and generalizations, but nevertheless, do have some validity, occur to me. 

1.    Social distancing is more difficult in congested housing.  Compare the number of individuals living in a building in an Afro-American neighborhood with the number of individuals living in a similar building in a non Afro-American neighborhood.  Of course, there are exceptions, and some buildings are well-integrated, but as a rule, there are more people living together, as separate families or related to each other, encompassing several generations, in Afro-American housing.  Thus, practicing social distancing is more difficult in these situations.  There are more people in close proximity.

2.    Afro-Americans are also more prone to elevated blood pressure and diabetes, often accompanied by excess weight.  The virus has an easier time attacking people vulnerable because of such medical conditions.  This is probably due to diet, which only individuals and families can change.

But there are larger, more societal, issues involved.   The New York Times’ Charles Blow addresses them.  You must read what he says.  CLICK HERE TO READ HIS WORDS/


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Forget About the Economy.  Battle the Virus

Right now, every effort should be directed to dealing with the virus, and developing a vaccine.  Despite the President’s desires, economic recovery should not even come into the picture until we have a fiirm handle on Cofid19.  Till then, let the markets tumble, businesses at all levels fail and millions of unemployed not know where their next dollar is coming from!  There is no need to rebuild the economy yet when a mutation of Covid19 can destroy it in a month or less.  Of course, the President would like to get the economy rolling, even before Cofid19 is defeated, so he can use that as a part of his re-election campaign

Government should not give or lend a penny to large corporations.  Let them fail.  They all have "reserves." The only government economic acts needed are rental, mortgage payment, credit card interest forgiveness and the issuance of “scrip” in $100 denominations by the government, no questions asked, to anyone below certain current monthly income levels who asks for these benefits.  Such non-transferable “scrip” would be usable only in drug stores and in groceries.
If Mnunchin doesn't take this approach, he will figuratively be lynched eventually.  The people cannot be left to starve, especially those without a safety net, generous credit card reserves or a nest egg they could tap.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

The President Knew in January and February, But Lied Anyway, the "Deplorables" and Requested Resignations.

Why Do We Put Up With Him?

It has now been revealed that Peter Navarro, the President’s Trade Advisor, sent memos to the President and the National Security Council in January and February warning of the danger of a pandemic. That they were received and studied is evidenced by the fact that Navarro’s recommendation of a ban on travel from China was indeed implemented.

But the memorandums went much, much further, outlining how serious the effect of the Pandemic could be on the United States in terms of deaths.  This part was ignored by the President, who continually, even after getting these ominous memorandums, painted a rosy picture of the Coronavirus threat in this country.   In no uncertain terms, in view of his having received Navarro’s memorandums in January and February, THE PRESIDENT SUBSEQUENTLY LIED TO THE AMERICAN PUBLIC.  

It's Made of Green Cheese
Other than hinted at by some pointed questions from reporters (who were quickly shut down by the President) at the Covid19 briefings, TRUMP GOT AWAY WITH HIS LIES … AND CONTINUES TO ON A DAILY BASIS.

The New York Times article by Maggie Haberman tells you the story of Navarro's memorandums.  Read it by  CLICKING RIGHT HERE  or visiting 

This is just more factual evidence that the President must go!  (See recent postings regarding how this might come to pass.)

                                                        * * * * *

And today, after denying he ever saw Navarro's memorandums, claiming he cut off travel from China totally on his own, he defined his role as being the "nation's cheerleader!"  Zis, Boom, Bah, Allagaroo, Garoo, Garoo! . Just like he imagines FDR, Lincoln and George Washington were.  Cheerleaders!  That's why they're in the history books he never read.    That's when I shut off the TV and vomited.

                                 (I recommend not eating before the daily Confid19 Task Force briefing.)


                                                                      * * * * *

Okay, it is Time for Resignations  

The “experts,” the physicians, the military people who share the platform with the President and the Vice President during his daily Coronavirus or Cofid19 Task Force report should start thinking of their reputations.

  What are Dr. Fauci and the other doctors going to be worth if they don’t stand up and tell the President, to his face, that he is wrong when he is and to stop talking about unproven medical approaches, overly optimistic projections of the supposed progress of the pandemic, bullshit about the supply chain of medical equipment and the need for  the public to wear masks?  Nothing!  Zip!  That is what these doctors will be worth. They took a professional oath of greater significance than their government oath of office. 

After all this is over, their reputations will be mud and all of them would be lucky to get part-time jobs in a Walk-In Clinic in Topeka.  This includes Dr. Fauci, Dr.Birx, the Surgeon General and the head of the CDC.  They are prostituting themselves by sharing a platform with Trump.   They know better.  They know they are destroying their careers.

Let them resign, accept their government pensions for what they are worth, go to work for a State or private agency fighting Cofid19 or go to work in a hospital and leave Trump alone, by himself, on the platform, without the supposed credibility of their presence, which he knows rubs off on his blunder-tarnished image.  

Let him stand alone and let the country see his nakedness.

                                              * * * * *

The "Deplorables" Should Have the Right To Vote

Don’t get the impression from this blog that I feel that all the “ignorant and gullible” voters who put Trump in the White House and elected many Republican governors and Senators who don’t know shit from shinola, should not have the right to vote.  Of course, they should.  Ignorance and gullibility do not justify disenfranchisement!  

But when these folks become the majority, or enough of a voting segment to swing a close election to the conservatives, we have problems.  That’s why it is important that everyone who truly understands the issues votes and works to increase the number of people voting in every way including and especially “vote by mail” procedures.  Conservatives do not like it when the number of voters increases.  Then, they lose. Even the President, in a rare moment of wisdom, proclaimed that if we had universal “vote by mail,” the Republicans would never win another election.  He is correct.

We cannot just sit back and take what is dealt to us from the ‘stacked deck’ resulting from the influence the “ignorant and gullible” voters had in the 2016 elections. As an example, that election’s results gave us the present dreadful “political’ make-up of the Supreme Court which will take decades and perhaps even generations to reverse.  It won’t be easy but a lot is at stake.  Their vote not delaying the Wisconsin election is an example.  Gorsuch and Kavanaugh are worthless political hacks who, after that decision, along with rest of the conservatives on the Court, should eventually be disbarred.

Get to work.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Do You Agree With Me? and Voting by Mail

In my last posting, I made the point that “the President must go,” illustrating and documenting his lack of leadership.   I now leave it to you to pick up a newspaper, any newspaper, or even check out a reliable news source on tv or on the Internet,and read about how we delayed, under Trump’s leadership, preparing for the pandemic.

 Find out for yourself.  Don’t take my word for it.  We are now paying the price for that delay in the numbers of deaths that need not have occurred.  Those deaths are the responsibility of Donald Trump, our idiot president who, even now, refuses to wear a face mask.

Read about how it was initially decided not to cancel cruises (there are still thousands of passengers at sea) when it was already evident that cruise ships were a breeding ground for the virus. 

Read all about it for yourself.  Don’t take my word for it.  Will you conclude that there is an absence of real leadership in the White House and agree with me that “the President must go.”?

In my last posting, I offered three choices as to how Trump must leave office.  Which do you prefer?   (Impeachment is not a choice so long as the pitiful Republicans, beholden to Trump for the votes of his followers, control the Senate.) 

His remaining in the presidency is not a choice any longer.

                                                *  *  *  *

Votlng by Mail

The President is AGAINST voting by mail.  That is reason enough for all Democrats and right-minded Republicans and Independents to be FOR it.  Call or write to your Congressperson and Senators to expedite voting by mail in all fifty States.  Read the President's views on this subject by CLICKING HERE.  They are disgusting.

Please read Professor Heather Cox Richardson's comments on the travesty going on in Wisconsin.  In 2016, the nation's ignorant and gullible voters, choosing image over substance, put Trump in the White House, enabling him to appoint a pair of compliant conservative Supreme Court Justices.  It paid off last night. I won't go into the details but spend two minutes reading her analysis of this tragedy, another step in the nation's descent into autocracy.  CLICK HERE TO READ IT NOW.


Saturday, April 4, 2020

A Cat Has Nine Lives ... And a Hard Choice

It’s often said that a cat has nine lives, coming close to getting killed, but rescuing itself at the last minute about nine times in its lifetime.  But after that, the magic wears off and the cat is on its own and usually doesn’t survive very much longer.

Could it be the same with our President?  What happens when our “cat” in the White House runs through his magic of lying, conniving and substituting image for substance for the ninth time, and is completely on his own?  That’s where we are right now.

Trump’s Nine Lives:

1.   Over the years, he managed to get out of not paying in full those who did construction and building work for him, suggesting they sue him to collect, which they rarely did.
2.   He came out smelling like a rose when his casinos declared bankruptcy, leaving the investors holding the bag.
3.   He got away with bribing Stormy Daniels, one of his girlfriends, to keep quiet, even letting his own lawyer who managed the deal go to prison.
4.   He got away with bribing playmate Karen McDougal, his mistress during his wife’s pregnancy.
5.  He insulted the entire female sex with his candid remarks about letting them do whatever he wanted with them on the Access Hollywood interview tape.  And it didn’t affect his popularity.
6.    He bilked thousands through his phony Trump University courses.
7.   He used his family’s charitable foundation’s money for personal expenses, and only stopped when New York State caught him.
8.     He managed to dodge the Mueller Report’s accusations of his improprieties by hiring a compliant Attorney General who would do his bidding.
9.   Despite being impeached by the House of Representatives, he avoided removal from office through the votes of the pitiful Republicans in the Senate, beholden to him for support.

Well, the magic is no more and Donald Trump has exhausted his “cats’ nine lives” and he is on his own right now as the country faces the most dangerous and deadly opponent in its history, the Covid19 pandemic.   

Right now, he is busy blaming others for whatever goes wrong, and contradicting the nation’s and the world’s medical expertise.  Soon he will go the way of those other cats who ran through their nine lives and were left to their own devices.   

Ahab and Trump Face Challenges

Trump Must Go

I have written on numerous occasions on this blog and in emails to individuals that the President must go.  He has failed to show the leadership and inspiration needed for the country to unite to fight the Covid19 pandemic.   Today, in addition to criticizing some journalists who posed hard questions, he left it to individual Americans to decide what steps they should take to “mitigate” the virus’ spread, including the wearing of masks which he pointedly refuses to do.  He continues to tout an untested malaria/lupus drug as possible cure, against the advice of the medical people on the daily panel, saying to Americans stricken with Covid19, “I’m no doctor, but ask yours. Try it! What do you have to lose?”  This is the antithesis of leadership.  He is an ally of the virus.  The President must go.

Here is a dated summary of some of his comments, and events, showing his lack of involvement, early on, in the crisis.  It amounts to “fiddling while Rome burns.” documenting his abysmal ignorance and lack of leadership. The President must go.  

Dec 18th - House Impeaches Trump
Jan 8th - First CDC warning
Jan 9th - Trump campaign rally
Jan 14th - Trump campaign rally
Jan 16h - House sends impeachment articles to Senate
Jan 18th - Trump golfs
Jan 19th - Trump golfs
Jan 20th - first case of corona virus in the US, Washington State.
Jan 22nd - “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. It’s going to be just fine.”
Jan 28th - Trump campaign rally
Jan 30th - Trump campaign rally
Feb 1st - Trump golfs
Feb 2nd - “We pretty much shut it down coming in from China."
Feb 5th - Senate votes to acquit. Then takes a five-day weekend.
Feb 10th - Trump campaign rally
Feb 12th - Dow Jones closes at an all time high of 29,551.42
Feb 15h - Trump golfs
Feb 19th - Trump campaign rally
Feb 20th - Trump campaign rally
Feb 21st - Trump campaign rally
Feb 24th - “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA… Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”
Feb 25h - “CDC and my Administration are doing a GREAT job of handling Coronavirus.”
Feb 25h - “I think that's a problem that’s going to go away… They have studied it. They know very much. In fact, we’re very close to a vaccine.”
Feb 26th - “The 15 (cases in the US) within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.”
Feb 26th - “We're going very substantially down, not up.” Also "This is a flu. This is like a flu"; "Now, you treat this like a flu"; "It's a little like the regular flu that we have flu shots for. And we'll essentially have a flu shot for this in a fairly quick manner."
February 27: “One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”
Feb 28th - “We're ordering a lot of supplies. We're ordering a lot of, uh, elements that frankly we wouldn't be ordering unless it was something like this. But we're ordering a lot of different elements of medical.”
Feb 28th - Trump campaign rally
March 2nd - “You take a solid flu vaccine, you don't think that could have an impact, or much of an impact, on corona?”
March 2nd - “A lot of things are happening, a lot of very exciting things are happening and they’re happening very rapidly.”
March 4: “If we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work — some of them go to work, but they get better.”
March 5th - “I NEVER said people that are feeling sick should go to work.”
March 5th - “The United States… has, as of now, only 129 cases… and 11 deaths. We are working very hard to keep these numbers as low as possible!”
March 6th - “I think we’re doing a really good job in this country at keeping it down… a tremendous job at keeping it down.”
March 6th - “Anybody right now, and yesterday, anybody that needs a test gets a test. They’re there. And the tests are beautiful…. the tests are all perfect like the letter was perfect. The transcription was perfect. Right? This was not as perfect as that but pretty good.”
March 6th - “I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it… Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for president.”
March 6th - “I don't need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn't our fault.”
March 7th - Trump golfs
March 8th - Trump golfs
March 8th - “We have a perfectly coordinated and fine tuned plan at the White House for our attack on CoronaVirus.”
March 9th - “This blindsided the world.”
March 13th - [Declared state of emergency]
March 17th - “This is a pandemic,” Mr. Trump told reporters. “I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”
March 18th - "It’s not racist at all. No. Not at all. It comes from China. That’s why. It comes from China. I want to be accurate."
March 23th- Dow Jones closes at 18,591.93
March 25th - 3.3 million Americans file for unemployment.
March 30th - Dow Jones closes at 21,917.16
April 2nd - 6.6 million Americans file for unemployment.

We must rid ourselves of Donald Trump in one of three ways.  (1) Resignation … which he won’t do, (2) Defeat in the November election … which is uncertain in view of Joe Biden’s benign temperament and lack of debating skill on top of the Fox-viewing, talk radio-listening, gullible and ignorant people who will always support Trump or (3) a military coup d’etat, when it becomes clear to the Joint Chiefs of Staff that the President’s lack of leadership has so weakened the country’s position, should military action involving China, Russia or Iran become an additional threat, on top of Cofid19, that they must act to save the nation


Thursday, April 2, 2020

More from Professor Richardson, Another Trump Lie and some Advice.

And here is today's "Letter from an American" from Boston College professor Heather Cox Richardson.   Again, it says it all.  (I left off her footnotes which document every word she writes!)  I wonder for how long she can keep it up.  

Meanwhile, I suggest you sign up to receive these directly in your own Email.  CLICK HERE TO DO SO.   Or if that doesn't work, just visit https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/WhctKJVqstSJnzVJcVvHxFTcLNrQbqRPxKLzPFFkjFNMgtdSkkxBVZtxZRQvkknLnmGQRdq  as often as possible.

After a very long day of teaching on-line (which I find exhausting) and celebrating the new book’s publication date (woo hoo!) I fell deeply asleep on the couch early this evening and awoke hours later to read the news. In that quiet clarity of being newly rested in the middle of the night, reading the news felt very much like history research, when you are dropped into the sources and getting a sense of what the world looked like at a certain moment in time.
If I were looking back at today from the vantage point of a hundred years from now, I would write that the government, whose systems for handling a crisis have been dismantled, is faltering badly as inexperienced officials are trying to respond to a pandemic by relying on the private sector.
Hardly a novel interpretation, but it really jumps out when you spend a couple of hours reading the day’s news all at once.
Here’s what I saw:
The news broke that the United States has been sending medical supplies to other countries while our own health care workers don’t have masks or PPE (personal protective equipment). Politico revealed that an administration official called counterparts in Thailand to ask for PPE only to be told by a confused official on the other end who said that the U.S. was shipping those very supplies to Thailand. One shipment had already arrived, and another was on its way. Vice President Mike Pence, who is in charge of the administration’s coronavirus task force, immediately halted the shipment. It appears that there has been no coordination between the administration and USAID, the United States Agency for International Development, so we have apparently been exporting the very supplies we need at home.
This created a furor over the fact that we also sent 17.8 tons of medical supplies, including masks, gowns, gauze, and respirators to China in February, after the severity of our own impending crisis was already clear. The administration has said these supplies were “donated,” but I have not been able to track down by whom.
Politico also broke the story that since March 12, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has been in charge of his own coronavirus response team to get the private sector on board to fight the crisis. Trump has been reluctant to activate the Defense Production Act, a law that enables the government to encourage manufacturers to produce vital equipment and protects them from losses when they do. Bizarrely, the Trump administration—like all others since the law went into effect in the 1950s—uses this act all the time to respond to natural disasters, to move supplies around during emergencies, and so on, but refuses to do so now. Instead, it appears Trump has tapped Kushner to coordinate with private industry. In that capacity, he and his outside experts—including a number from the consulting firm McKinsey—are acting as a sort of independent cell without government oversight and are overruling the teams already in place.
We learned that the Obama administration tried five years ago to address what it perceived as a lack of ventilators in case of a pandemic, paying $13.8 million to a Pennsylvania manufacturer—a subsidiary of a huge Dutch appliance and technology corporation-- to create a cheap, easy ventilator to stockpile. The FDA cleared the device in September and the Department of Health and Human Services, which had provided the $13.8 million, ordered 10,000 of them for $3,280 each. Instead of providing those ventilators, the company instead hiked its prices and sold them overseas. Trump has declined to use the DPA to get the company to produce the ventilators it developed for the U.S. Instead, Kushner’s team is negotiating with it to build 43,000 more expensive hospital ventilators for the U.S.
Pence tried to suggest that the administration’s slow response was because China had been slow about admitting the full extent of the disease and that the Centers for Disease Control had initially mischaracterized the danger from it as low. (While China did try to quash information about the disease, the CDC was clear about it.) Pence continued: “I don’t believe the President has ever belittled the threat of the coronavirus.” (There is overwhelming evidence Trump did exactly this.)
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has not wanted to take the responsibility for closing down his state and has been trying to get Trump to do it. But Trump doesn’t want to do it either. So the two of them have been trying to get the other to do it as the infection and death rates in Florida climb. Finally, today, DeSantis made the call, but he exempted churches, synagogues, and houses of worship from its provisions, calling them essential businesses. This will permit religious leaders like Rodney Howard-Browne to keep his megachurch open. On Monday, sheriff’s deputies arrested Howard-Browne for unlawful assembly and a violation of health emergency rules.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has finally issued shelter-in-place order for Georgia, too, as the state reported 4,748 cases of Covid-19 and 56 deaths. He said a key change was the recent news that people could transmit the virus without showing symptoms, but of course that news is not recent; we have known it virtually since the beginning.
DeSantis has another crisis on his hands, too. A cruise ship with infected passengers is sitting off the coast of Florida, and he doesn’t want it to dock in the state. Trump is not taking responsibility for that, either. So DeSantis has finally announced he will take off the ship the 49 people on it who hail from Florida… but not the others, including those from other countries, who continue to float on a ship with disease on it. This situation needs an immediate solution.
The federal government had a similar problem aboard the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier where Covid-19 was spreading. Tired of waiting for his superiors to get his people to safety, the ship’s commander wrote a scathing letter claiming that keeping the sailors on the ship was “an unnecessary risk and breaks faith with those Sailors entrusted to our care.” After the letter was made public, Navy officials agreed to offload sailors to quarantine in Guam to keep the disease at bay.
Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler, appointed by Kemp and married to the CEO of the company that owns the New York Stock Exchange, revealed more stock trades today that took place after she had attended a Senate briefing on the severity of the coming epidemic. She sold stock in retail stores and bought stock in a company that makes PPEs. She maintains she has done nothing wrong.
And Devin Nunes (R-CA), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee and associate of indicted political operative Lev Parnas said on the Fox News Channel today he thought that closing schools was “way overkill” and that it was hurting the economy unnecessarily. California has more than 6,900 cases and at least 150 people there have died from it.
Finally, it appears that Trump will continue golfing despite the crisis. Although staying mum about who the “dignitary” they need to protect is, the Secret Service has signed a $45,000 contract to rent golf carts in Sterling, Virginia, where Trump has a golf course that remains open despite Virginia’s stay-at-home order.
It’s important to note that any of these stories might have good explanations. Maybe shoring up USAID was worth losing our PPEs, or there’s a good reason not to use the DPA to get more ventilators from the company who contracted to produce them. But if so, we are not hearing those explanations. Instead, what jumps out at this hodge-podge of stories is the lack of organization and expertise, and the apparent every-man-for-himself attitude at the highest levels of government.
That attitude sure doesn’t seem to be producing an effective response to the global pandemic that is threatening our lives.
                                                    *  *  *  *

Excuse Trump's Latest Lie .. He is Just Plain Ignorant

Our idiot president keeps claiming that “There’s never been anything like this before” when he gets near a microphone to explain what he’s doing (or not doing) about the Covid19 Pandemic.  That’s just another example of his abysmal ignorance.   The 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic (called Spanish Flu because Spain, a non-belligerent in the First World War, reported on it while those at war did not) killed 675,000 people in the United States Our president does not know that. 

Right now, the Administration predicts from 100,000 to 240,000 Covid19 deaths if we follow 'stay at home' and social distancing rules, which is far less than the 1918 numbr.  If we don’t, though, we might exceed the 1918 number.  But Trump doesn’t know that.  His education at the ”fine institutions” where I doubt he ever showed up for class apparently missed that.  Americans have to learn to be more careful for whom they vote, especially Republicans.

The quicker Trump is removed from the White House by resignation, military coup d’etat (not impossible) or by the ballot in November, the closer we will be to defeating the virus.  He does not help.  His ignorance is an ally of the virus.

                                       *  *  *  *

Stay at home.  Leave only for short walks near home, and trips to grocery or drug store, and try to limit them to once a week.  Again, stay at home, but when outside (we know you will cheat a little), observe social distancing, regardless of what local, state or national government says.  Wash your hands again, and again.  Use disinfectant on anything you touch before you touch it.  And after, as well ... because you may be carrying the virus.

And where is it written that "six foot distancing" is sufficient to avoid infection?  When breezes blow, that distance may be inadequate, and no one really knows how long the virus survives in open air.  Stay away from people.  If you can talk without hollering, you are too close!  You don't know with whom they have been in contact.

And it is logical that if you have a mask, use it when outside.  It cannot hurt.  But it can help others!  If you don't have one, a kerchief, like a bank robber in an old movie western wore, covering their mouth and nose, will suffice.   El Presidente, contrary to Dr. Fauci's advice, does not recommend, and won't wear, a mask.  The purpose of such masks is to prevent those who are carrying the virus, BUT MAY NOT BE MANIFESTING ANY SYMPTOMS, from unknowlingly spreading the virus to others.  

But Donald J. Trump, former shady real estate peddler, is too dumb to understand how this can reduce the number of people who contract the virus.  It is a disgrace that he sets such a poor example for the American people.  Somewhere in this country, someone who doesn't show any symptoms of Covid19, but who is unaware that he or she has contracted it, and is stupid enough to follow the advice of our idiot president to not wear a mask when outside, will spread it to someone else who gets sick and perhaps even dies.

Trump also took the opportunity during the daily Pandemic briefing to attach "voting by mail" as something very vulnerable to cheating.  There is no evidence to justify such a statement. He knows that keeping as many Americans as possible from voting in November is the only chance he has of being re-elected.   The combination of Donald Trump, the Coronavirus Pandemic and the gullibility and ignorance of too many American voters is the most dangerous challenge the nation has every faced!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Two Things Well Worth Your Time

Back in the nineteenth century, a Frenchman wrote a series of "Letters from an American Farmer."  Taking that as a point of departure, Professor Richardson, a historian on Boston College's faculty, writes this "Letter from an American."  I am proud to include it on the blog.  It says it all.
Our coronavirus numbers continue to climb. Today America has more than 185,000 known infections and Covid-19 has killed 3,768 people, more than those who died on 9/11. Coronavirus continues to weaken the economy as well. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 400 points today, ending the worst quarter in stock market history, despite more than $2 trillion in relief measures and actions by the Federal Reserve to inject money into the economy.
Today, the White House warned Americans to expect 100,000 to 240,000 deaths over the course of the pandemic; more—as many as 2.2 million-- if Americans do not strictly self-isolate.
This best case scenario is close to the numbers of US Army soldiers-- 235,000—who died in battle in World War Two.
Trump is trying to spin this appalling disaster as a victory. He has declared that if we are able to keep the deaths in the lower range “we all together have done a very good job.”
The president and his team are eager to absolve him of responsibility for America’s slow and erratic response to the pandemic, a response that will cost the lives of thousands more of our friends and family than the disease otherwise would have claimed. Trump has repeatedly said that it was “nobody’s fault,” just one of those “things that happened.” Kellyanne Conway, an advisor to the president, recently expanded on this line, saying Trump “is presiding over the country’s response to an unanticipated, unprecedented pandemic of global proportions, and he is getting credit for his handling of the pandemic … In due time, he will preside over the great American comeback, which is more likely to be in the summer or fall, depending on the effectiveness of mitigation and relief efforts and the uncertain path of the virus itself.”
This is gaslighting, designed to absolve the president of blame for this disaster and to pave the way for the crisis to be redefined as a victory before the 2020 election.
Who could possibly have known that a pandemic was coming? Every White House official. In preparation for taking over in January 2017, outgoing Obama administration officials worked through a pandemic emergency with the incoming officials, but the administration did not make epidemic preparedness a priority. It cut more than two-thirds of the staff at the Centers for Disease Control in China, from about 47 people to 14. It cut the pandemic response team from the National Security Council in 2018, leaving no epidemic disease specialist on the NSC. It had a playbook for managing a pandemic, prepared in 2016 by officials in the Obama administration after the Ebola crisis; Trump’s people ignored it.
More specifically, after reports of the disease developing in China emerged at the end of December 2019, U.S. intelligence agencies repeatedly warned Trump in January and February in classified briefings what was coming; he continued to downplay it. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) asked the administration to declare a public health emergency in late January to free up money to fight the coronavirus. But as late as February 24, Trump tweeted: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”
“Donald Trump may not have been expecting this,” one official said, “but a lot of other people in the government were — they just couldn’t get him to do anything about it…. The system was blinking red.”
Today Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tried a different argument for Trump’s frittering away two months that would have protected us from the worst of the pandemic. McConnell told radio host Hugh Hewitt that the impeachment trial of Trump had distracted the president from paying adequate attention to the coronavirus.
This was too much for George Conway, founder of the anti-Trump super PAC the Lincoln Project. In an op-ed for the Washington Post, he called it “gaslighting of the highest order.” “Look at the calendar,” he wrote. Impeachment was pretty much over on January 31, when Senators killed the idea of testimony, although the final vote wasn't until February 5. Trump went to Mar-a-Lago at least four times in the first two months of the year, held frequent campaign rallies, and repeatedly went golfing. And he commented often on the coronavirus, telling reporters and tweeting that “we have it totally under control.”
From a political standpoint, as well, this argument doesn’t hold water. If Trump and his advisors were focusing at all on the coronavirus in those crucial weeks, they would have deployed then the argument that impeachment was hurting their ability to respond adequately to the crisis. It was a winning political argument that would have played well across the country (in addition to promoting our ability to fight the epidemic).
For his part, Trump seemed torn between having an excuse and having to admit he hadn’t done a bang-up job. During today’s press briefing, he said: “Did it divert my attention? I think I'm getting A+'s for the way I handled myself during a phony impeachment, OK? ... But certainly, I guess, I thought of it and I think I probably acted -- I don't think I would have done any better had I not been impeached, OK?”
I am belaboring this point tonight because this deliberate effort to change the public perception of what really happened is a profound attack on our democracy. While this disinformation is designed to absolve Trump of blame he deserves, it is far more than that. We are seeing government officials rewriting our history in real time. And in October, if campaign officials for the Republican candidate are telling voters that Trump was a hero for his handling of the unanticipated coronavirus despite Democrats’ impeachment witch hunt, I want to have laid down this marker so that there is a record of when that story began.
As late as February 26, Trump said, “This is a flu. This is like a flu.” “I mean, view this the same as the flu.” Today he said: “’A lot of people’” said “’ride it out. Don’t do anything, just ride it out and think of it as the flu.’ But it’s not the flu. It’s vicious.”
Today the editorial board of the Boston Globe wrote: “the president has blood on his hands.”
Ride it out:

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Mike Francesa, New York City sportscaster, up to now a Trump supporter, sees  the carnage going on in New York up close and went on a righteous tirade on Monday  Here's what he said ... (found on Kos)

"We’re watching one thing happen in our city on the 11 o’clock news every night. We’re watching people die, and now we know people who died. And we’re not seeing one or two people die now in our neighborhood. We’re seeing them die by the tens and twenties by the day.  So don’t give me the *MyPillow guy doing a song-and-dance up here on a Monday afternoon when people are dying in Queens. Get the stuff made, get the stuff where it needs to go, and get the boots on the ground! Treat this like the crisis it is!

In response to Trump’s suggestion that the media should look into the baseless and preposterous theory that health care workers are stealing vital medical supplies, Francesca lit into POTUS:

“You go investigate that! You have your military, your FEMA investigate that! That’s your job! You’re in charge of this! If this is a war, they’re stealing your supplies, what do you do? You tell the media to go investigate it? What, and get back to you in six weeks or two months, as more people die on a daily basis? That’s what’s wrong here. There’s a disconnect.”

As for Trump’s suggestion that his administration will have done a good job if the final death toll is between 100,000 and 200,000, Francesca wasn’t having it:

“How can you have a scoreboard that says 2,000 people have died and tell us, ‘It’s OK if another 198,000 die, that’s a good job’? How is that a good job in our country? It’s a good job if nobody else dies! Not if another 198,000 people die! So now 200,000 people are disposable?”

Francesca was an early supporter of Trump’s, going back to spring 2016, out of the same kettle of urban New York pseudo-patriots which spawned Sean Hannity, back when supporting the Don was the macho thing to do.  But it sure sounds like he’s not a supporter anymore.

It’s probably significant that Francesca is in New York, the state that’s been the hardest hit so far. If other states follow suit, we may see Trump’s base of support begin to go away in April, with the heat.  Maybe Trump will too, like the Wicked Witch of the East ultimately did.
* The"MyPillow guy, besides peddling pillows, is a notable Trump supporter, and heavy advertiser on Fox.\

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Nothing Good to SayChange the Subject!

When it came time for the daily White House update on the Coronavirus Pandemic on Wednesday, it was apparent that the President had nothing good to report.  In fact, the numbers of Covid19 cases and deaths, and the latest projections of the best case scenario numbers, already reported elsewhere, were even more pessimistic than what had been reported the day before.

So not having anything good to say, Trump decided to change the subject and talk about something else.  He then went on to describe a massive civilian and military effort to fight the importing of drugs into the country, an important issue, but nowhere near the import of the Coronavirus Pandemic.   

After a few minutes of this intentional diversion, CNN and MSNBC and the network newscasts went back to other news programming. Fox, of course, stuck with whatever Trump and those he brought with him were saying.  There was some attention paid to fighting the Pandemic, but today, it clearly was secondary, small potatoes, compared to fighting the drug lords.