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    One of many guiding principles
    "I find two opinions are better than one, particularly if one is mine,"
Sister Monica Joan, PBS Call The Midwife TV series

Trump Turns WH Coronavirus Briefing Circus Into Political Rants & Attacks

News networks stop broadcasting some of Trump's non-virus rants

Fox News covered the White House press briefing live yesterday.  CNN carried only limited highlights, avoiding Trump's political rants and attacks on journalists and democrats and anyone/anything associated with the previous administration.  MSNBC did much the same - alternating between live coverage, and fact-checking analysis.  I'm just glad to have a DVR to capture the daily campaign rallies, er, WH press briefings ... to view when time allows.

Trump has no evidence of election fraud

But that doesn't stop him from trying to brainwash his base of supporters into believing that mail-in-voting options are fraught with ballot-box stuffing.  “Where is the evidence?” asked Jim Acosta of CNN.  Trump: "I think there is a lot of evidence, and we will provide you with some,” the president replied, citing Judicial Watch’s settlement with the state of California “where they agreed that a million people should not have voted.”  Actually, no voter fraud or illegal voting was involved - it was a case of "cleaning-up" voter registration lists to remove names of deceased voters and others who no longer qualify to vote in a given CA district (perhaps the voter moved or is now incarcerated).   When Carol Lee of NBC News asked how he justified his own use of "mail-in" ballot in the latest election, the Donald says: "Because I’m allowed to."  Such a hypocrite.  [more info]

Attacks on W.H.O.

The World Health Organization has become Trump's latest foil for his on-going attacks on multi-nation peace bodies like NATO, and the United Nations - accusing them for a number of things that simply are not true.  Trump said he's considering withholding funding to the WHO ... which is such a stupid thing to do right when the world is wrestling with a pandemic.  [read more about this manufactured, factually challenged rant]

Trump Has ‘Financial Interest’ in Hydroxychloroquine Manufacture

It figures, given the way the Donald keeps touting an anti-malarial drug, hydroxychloroquine, as a “game changer” in treating coronavirus ...  news broke this week indicates his trust owns investments in Sanofi, the maker of hydroxychloroquine.  "I'm not a doctor," Trump repeats, and then reveals more of his twisted mind when he repeats (over and over) "but it may be something really powerful - what have they got to lose?"  Um, well, maybe their life, Mr. President.  Trump's Commerce Sec't Wilbur Ross holds investments, too, in the pharmaceutical firm.  [source]

posted 04.09.20

Trump Keep Trying To Re-write History ... Travel Restrictions

It's become his trademark.  When the Donald doesn't like the press he's getting he tries to submit his alternative facts. 

Case in point: “I cut off China very early.  And if I didn’t, we would have a chart that you wouldn’t believe. So how would I know to do that?  How would I know to cut off Europe? I cut off Europe very early.  I mean, you have to make a decision. People knew that some bad things were going on, and they got off to a late start.  And some others got off to a late start also. But we cut off China. If we didn’t cut off China, we would have been in some big trouble. And we cut it off.” — President Trump, remarks at a campaign rally described as a "news conference" April 2, 2020

Most of that is false or truth that has been greatly altered.  Read it for yourself:

  • Washington Post FactChecker: Trump’s claim that he imposed the first ‘China ban’
  • Mike's archived text of FactCheck.org summary ... preserved just in case the Donald tries to scrub the internet.

Trump Avoids Taking Responsibility ... "because we're just the back-up"

Much of the suffering and death coming was preventable. The president has blood on his hands.

No Mr. President, you are not just the "back-up".   When you declared a National Emergency (March 13th - see timeline below) ... you triggered two federal statutes that grant the executive special authorities and responsibilities in times of crisis: the National Emergencies Act and the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.  The law says: "coordinate all disaster relief assistance (including voluntary assistance) provided by Federal agencies, private organizations, and State and local governments".  Doubt me?  Read it for yourself

It's gotten to be quite tiring & sickening to hear Trump repeat, a dozen or more times a day at his Happy Talk Daily Press Briefing "the states were unprepared".  He may be right, but I'd suggest most all of us were not fully prepared - including the Federal gov't.  But it matters not ... 'cuz when he declared "it's a National Disaster" he was not just telling Americans the status of the pandemic or how serious things were across the globe ... no, he was engaging & enacting a legal step and course of action.  Hospitals across the country are experiencing shortages of supplies not limited to the protective equipment (masks, gowns, swabs) but also growing shortages of staff and medicine and other supplies required.  It's been a mess for more than a month and Trump refuses to take charge ... preferring to manage his Happy Talk Briefings and tell the nation he's just the "back-up".

Well, Mr. President ... much of what you and your administration is doing is not all that effective.  On Friday April 3 the Bureau of Labor Statistics told us that nearly 10 million people had filed for unemployment benefits (and millions more were unable to complete their applications due to technical glitches). Also on Friday Rachel Maddow reported on the above consequences of Trump's National Disaster Declaration ... you owe it to yourself and your family to view the streaming video clip of the show & share it with everyone you know.  As Rachel often says:  'these are difficult events to accept & swallow ... time to buckle-up'.   (The 11-minute mark of the program is most "on point" ... if you're pressed for time.)

Additional reading on topic: "Federal Executive Emergency Authorities to Address COVID-19."  Lawfare Institute

04.05.20 

Coronavirus timeline [helpful for those with selective recall]

The outbreak that began in China demanded a White House that could act swiftly and competently ... which we didn't do.  News reports indicate that US intelligence agencies reported frequent advance alerts of pending health & safety issues, but as we've come to know this president holds US intelligence agencies in contempt & in such low regard, he ignored the news. Trump typically avoids the traditional NSC Daily Briefing which all modern day presidents have relied upon.  That is until we elected our 1st reality TV star who views his role quite differently.  Suggestion: clip the following summary, laminate it if you must to preserve the facts of the timeline ... because guaranteed: this president will develop his own alternative facts ... which Fox News and One America News Network and Sinclair Media will quickly adopt as "truth". You need to be prepared. 

NOV. 17  The first case, a 55-year-old, may have been known, but not publicly acknowledged, according to the South China Morning Post, which tried to track the virus back to patient zero. 

DEC. 31 China informs the World Health Organization it has detected unusual pneumonia cases in Wuhan, which has a population of 11 million. The cause, China says, is unknown.

JAN. 8  U.S. CDC urge physicians who treat patients with pneumonia-like sickness to consider a possible link to the Chinese outbreak and wear protective masks.

JAN. 9  China's state media reports the viral pneumonia cases are caused by a new type of coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, with no specific treatment or vaccine. Symptoms include fever, coughing and shortness of breath.

JAN. 20  China reports a third death and more than 200 cases, and acknowledges the virus can be passed from human to human. A 35-year-old man, examined in an urgent care clinic in the Seattle area after returning from visiting family in Wuhan, becomes the first American case.

JAN. 28  U.S. evacuates personnel and some private citizens aboard charter flights. The virus also has spread to Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal, France and Australia.  The U.S. confirms more cases in Chicago, S. California and Arizona. Stock market tumbles.

JAN. 30  The WHO declares a public health emergency of international concern as China reports thousands of coronavirus cases. The U.S. state department warns not to travel to China.

JAN. 31 President Trump restricts some travel of foreign nationals from China.  Americans traveling back to US however are screened but allowed to return to US.

Since Trump continues to tout his restrictions on air travel to portions of China as the cornerstone for his administration's feeble policies to manage the coronavirus spread into the US, it's important to not engage in revisionist history as the Donald has been doing.  Smart citizens will read and save the following FACTS:
   1.  "The Facts on Trump’s Travel Restrictions" by FactCheck.org or,
   2.  see Mike's handy text file captured to ensure the above information doesn't mysteriously vanish
.

FEB. 14  France announces first virus death in Europe.

FEB. 19  About 600 passengers disembark from the Diamond Princess in Japan. Chinese officials release data suggesting the virus could be 20 times more deadly than the flu.

FEB. 22  About 325 people in Michigan are monitored for coronavirus and self-isolating. There are more than 76,000 cases globally, with more than 2,200 deaths. There are 34 confirmed cases in America.

FEB. 23  A dozen towns in northern Italy go into lockdown as outbreak there surges to more than 150, and the U.S. braces for a pandemic. In the next few days, Univ of Mich football cancels trip, the Dow tumbles, and the president asks Congress for $1.25 billion to fight the virus.

MARCH 5  The public begins to panic, stocking up on extra food, cleaning products and hand sanitizer. The Fed cuts the federal funds rate to stimulate the economy.

MARCH 10  Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declares state of emergency after confirming the state's first two cases of the new coronavirus, an Oakland County woman and a Wayne County man tested positive.

MARCH 13  Trump declares a national emergency from the White House Rose Garden.  Confirmed cases in Michigan rise to 25.   Gov. Whitmer limits visits in hospitals & bans gatherings of more than 250 people.

MARCH 16   Gov. Whitmer orders bars, restaurants, theaters, and casinos to close and restricts gatherings to less than 50 people, while the CDC recommends social gatherings be limited to 10 or less. The governor expands unemployment benefits as the number of infected cases rises to 54.

MARCH 27  President Donald Trump slams Gov. Gretchen Whitmer as he weighs disaster request for Michigan.

MARCH 28  The president trashes General Motors & CEO Mary Barra. Using the Defense Production Act the Donald orders GM to begin making ventilators (which they have never done before, and had volunteered days earlier to explore the potential to help the nation). Go figure.

MARCH 31  Reversing course, Trump praises GM, says it's doing a 'fantastic' job.  ("Trump likely heard for his advisors that he'd never get re-elected without sweeping Michigan in Nov ... 'cuz he barely won in '16 when the majority of Wayne County voters sat at home," says Mike.)

APRIL 2  Gov. Whitmer cancels remainder of public school year. Grocery delivery and curbside pickup services are running days behind.

source: Detroit Free Press which I've subscribed since 1972.  posted 04.05.20

Must Read for All: "A president unfit for pandemic" says Boston Globe

Much of the suffering and death coming was preventable. The president has blood on his hands.

March 30, 2020 - Boston Globe editorial board:  "While the spread of the novel coronavirus has been aggressive around the world, much of the profound impact it will have here in the United States was preventable. As the American public braces itself for the worst of this crisis, it’s worth remembering that the reach of the virus here is not attributable to an act of God or a foreign invasion, but a colossal failure of leadership.

"The outbreak that began in China demanded a White House that could act swiftly and competently to protect public health, informed by science and guided by compassion and public service. It required an administration that could quickly deploy reliable tests around the nation to isolate cases and trace and contain the virus’s spread, as South Korea effectively did, as well as to manufacture and distribute scarce medical supplies around the country. It begged for a president of the United States to deliver clear, consistent, scientifically sound messages on the state of the epidemic and its solutions, to reassure the public amid their fear, and to provide steady guidance to cities and states. And it demanded a leader who would put the country’s well-being first, above near-term stock market returns and his own reelection prospects, and who would work with other nations to stem the tide of COVID-19 cases around the world.

"What we have instead is a president epically outmatched by a global pandemic. A president who in late January, when the first confirmed coronavirus case was announced in the United States, downplayed the risk and insisted all was under control. A president who, rather than aggressively test all those exposed to the virus, said he’d prefer not to bring ashore passengers on a contaminated cruise ship so as to keep national case numbers (artificially) low. A president who, consistent with his mistrust and undermining of scientific fact, has misled the public about unproven cures for COVID-19, and who baited-and-switched last week about whether the country ought to end social distancing to open up by Easter, and then, on Saturday, about whether he’d impose a quarantine on New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. A president who has pledged to oversee the doling out of the $500 billion in corporate bailout money in the latest stimulus package, some of which will go to the travel industry in which his family is invested. A president who spent a good chunk of a recent press conference complaining about how hard it is for a rich man to serve in the White House even as Americans had already begun to lose their jobs, their health care, and their lives. A president who has reinforced racial stigma by calling the contagion a “Chinese virus” and failed to collaborate adequately with other countries to contain their outbreaks and study the disease. A president who evades responsibility and refuses to acknowledge, let alone own, the bitter truth of National Institutes of Health scientist Dr. Anthony Fauci’s testimony: that the country’s testing rollout was “a failing.”

"Timing is everything in pandemic response: It can make the difference between a contained local outbreak that endures a few weeks and an uncontrollable contagion that afflicts millions. The Trump administration has made critical errors over the past two months, choosing early on to develop its own diagnostic test, which failed, instead of adopting the World Health Organization’s test — a move that kneecapped the US coronavirus response and, by most public health experts’ estimation, will cost thousands if not hundreds of thousands of American lives. Rather than making the expected federal effort to mobilize rapidly to distribute needed gowns, masks, and ventilators to ill-equipped hospitals and to the doctors and nurses around the country who are left unprotected treating a burgeoning number of patients, the administration has instead been caught outbidding individual states (including Massachusetts) trying to purchase medical supplies. It has dragged its heels on invoking the Defense Production Act to get scarce, sorely needed ventilators and masks into production so that they can be distributed to hospitals nationwide as they hit their peaks in the cycle of the epidemic. It has left governors and mayors in the lurch, begging for help. The months the administration wasted with prevarication about the threat and its subsequent missteps will amount to exponentially more COVID-19 cases than were necessary. In other words, the president has blood on his hands.

"It’s not too much for Americans to ask of their leaders that they be competent and informed when responding to a crisis of historic proportions. Instead, they have a White House marred by corruption and incompetence, whose mixed messages roil the markets and rock their sense of security. Instead of compassion and clarity, the president, in his near-daily addresses to the nation, embodies callousness, self-concern, and a lack of compass. Dangling unverified cures and possible quarantines in front of the public like reality TV cliffhangers, he unsettles rather than reassures. The pandemic reveals that the worst features of this presidency are not merely late-night comedy fodder; they come at the cost of lives, livelihoods, and our collective psyche.

"Many pivotal decision points in this crisis are past us, but more are still to come. For our own sake, every American should be hoping for a miraculous turnaround — and that the too-little, too-late strategy of the White House task force will henceforth at least prevent contagion and economic ruin of the grandest scale. But come November, there must be a reckoning for the lives lost, and for the vast, avoidable suffering about to ensue under the president’s watch."

posted 04.05.20 - the preceding was written by the Boston Globe editorial board; I support the overall conclusion. - Mike

Facts Matter: Much of Trump's "War on the virus" is Happy Talk

And much of what the administration says it's doing is false

March 19: "We're not shipping clerks," President Trump says in an effort to defend himself from critique of his team's poor response to the virus.  Doctors and nurses, hospitals and clinics, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) and ambulance drivers from coast-to-coast all say the same thing: "we have inadequate supplies of masks & gloves & gowns needed to keep everyone safe & avoid spreading the virus further.  Help us, please."  The professionals have been saying it for weeks and the administration's response has evolved ... first, they were saying: "not our job ... call your governor."   Then team-Trump started getting attacked for not employing the Defense Production Act to force manufacturers into producing goods the country needs much like Roosevelt did during WW2 (Michigan famously became knows as the "arsenal of democracy" for producing planes & tanks needed in the war effort).  Then when he decides to invoke DPA to force General Motors to make ventilators ... the company said: "chill-out ... we already VOLUNTEERED to do this for the good of the world."  How can the president arbitrarily select a manufacturer and order them to make something they have no expertise making?  Why not tell the 'My Pillow' guy to make Trump's ventilators?  (Because it makes no sense to do so ... Trump was just continuing his assault on Mary Barra at GM.)

At the daily WH press briefings VP Pence has been saying things like this almost every day for weeks: "We've vastly increased the supply of medical masks, and we're going to continue to put a priority on making sure that we are calling on industry at every level, calling on major suppliers that the president met with this week, to make sure those personal protective equipment are there." Trouble is: its not happening ... and was unable to offer any specifics. Or, said another way, it's bull-pucky. Given the negative press they've received over the lack of coordination of supplies, if Pence HAD actually shipped the materials, he'd have details to share - like how many pieces shipped, dates, destinations, and even the signature of the receiving party. He had no such info to share because the Federal gov't HAD NOT shipped the items Pence mentioned.  They may have ordered the stuff ... or located the stuff ... but the needed materials had not been shipped to the medical people who needed it.  Doctors & nurses are using the same freaking, virus infused masks for days.  The same thing is happening with tests to determine who does or doesn't have the virus.  Just a total disaster.

posted in total disgust 04.02.20  [source for more examples of incompetence]

Only Voters Can Make America Normal Again

Even before coronavirus outbreak voters knew what they needed to do  

The polls have been consistent since the Donald's inauguration in 2017: the Donald would go down in history for having the lowest approval rating for any US President in modern history.  His penchant for exaggeration, and not being completely honest or truthful is legendary.  Several journalists immediately began tracking the incidents and details about each time President Trump inaccurately stated the facts or details on a host of topics ... over 16,000 lies & inaccurate statements have been documented in just the first 3-yrs of this disastrous presidency. [Doubt me?  Read the list: source]

Congress had an opportunity to take action which could have had a positive impact on our nation's response to this pandemic, but lacked the moral courage to remove Trump from office.  Only one Republican joined the Democrats (100% of 'em voted to dump Trump).  This failure will prove to be one of many reasons that tens of thousands of American lives will be lost that could have been spared with rapid, decisive action.  Our next election can not come soon enough.

Louise shared with me a cute slogan she read online: "watching Fox News to learn about history or politics ... is like watching "Green Acres" to learn about farming!"  And to the radical right-wing extremists who think I'm being unfair or unreasonable consider the Donald actually volunteered to appear in this hilarious video.

posted 04.02.20

Trump Commandeers WH Briefing & The Evening News Hour

Briefings take the place of the Donald's political rallies

It's not a coincidence the Trump administration has monopolized the evening news hour to present their politically charged press briefings and their version of manufactured facts.  They know the world is watching.  They also know local TV stations will likely broadcast the event live, thus controlling the narrative.  Trump is ensuring his story & his version of the "facts" are seen by his base ... which means the local newscast is shorter, likely abbreviated.  It also means there is a good chance his base of supporters will not hear the truth about what's actually going on.

Take the laundry list of personal protective equipment (PPE) that our health care system so desperately needs to keep themselves healthy and not spread the virus further.  Masks, gowns, gloves, gowns.  The life sustaining machines like ventilators are in limited supply to meet the needs across the country.  The Trump administration has one excuse after another for the public to chew upon, as well as a mind-numbing list of materials that have either been ordered or shipped - it's difficult to say which ... and whatever the message - the reality in the field ... the reality in our hospitals from coast-to-coast are telling a different story.  But Fox News and One America Network viewers rarely hear the truth, and proceed eating dinner under the mistaken impression that all is fine and the gov't response is "spot-on" perfect, just like the Donald's phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky.  (The call was not perfect, nor are most messages the WH circulates.) 

posted 04.02.20

Resource: awesome searchable Coronavirus map and case count data

Revised 04.02.20 New York Times

Stumbled upon the mapping program above in the NY Times.  You can search by state, by county.  Check it out.

"At least 4,800 people with the coronavirus have now died in the US and more than 200,000 people are known to be infected, according to a NY Times database. The death toll has quadrupled over the last week and now exceeds the number of people known to have died from the virus in China, where the pandemic started in December," says the NY Times. 

Do you not find it to be strange that our Federal government response, as incomplete and disjointed as it is, really didn't begin until mid-March?  Well I do ... and hopefully at least 50.1% of American voters agree.  There's plenty of evidence supporting the removal of Donald J. Trump from office - replaced with a new, professional administration in November.

Access map and data for yourself: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html

posted 04.02.20 in memory of my aunt Dorothy


Trump's Glam Anchor Given 'da boot' on Fox News For Inaccurate Report

Will Remainder of Fox Personalities Face Similar Fate?

Trish Regan's ratings were not as rich and full-bodied as her radiant, luxurious locks ... nor as gleaming as many of her peers on Fox News.  It's typical: Fox needed to give the appearance of being 'fair & balance' by admonishing the weak link in their anchor lineup.  Regan was expendable even though her commentary was similar to the rest of the conservative fact-challenged network. 

"I’m setting the record straight," TR boasted on Twitter after the axe had fallen on her crumbling career.  One viewer responded: "Glad you ‘set the record straight’ as the virus spreads and kills his base. The record seems more important though."  Another viewer agreed & acknowledged: "The median age of Fox News viewers is 65. The irony is FOX viewers contain a lot of people in the highest risk group and they're glued to a network (and talk radio) that's telling them this virus is really no big deal.  CDC is telling people over 70 to stay indoors."  Let's face it: there are plenty of horny old men who are somewhat addicted to the Fox News eye-candy.

Options to salvage her career appear to be limited. CBS had given her a pink slip in '07, CNBC dumped her in 2012, as did Bloomberg TV.  The good news for Fox: they'll pocket Regan's estimated $7 million annual salary as the virus pandemic crushes advertising revenue.  Think of that, Fox viewers ... seven million dollars per year ... ninety-four times greater than the national average ... no wonder you're coughing-up, on average, $150/mo. for the privilege of seeing all the ads on cable TV.  "I am grateful to my incredible team at FOX and for the many opportunities the network has provided me," Regan said.  [one of many sources]

posted 03.29.20


Citizens Step-Up In Virus Response ... Trump Continues To Flounder

Goodness prevails over evil when it matters most

As promised yesterday for those who crave something positive, here are a few acts of kindness & general good news that caught my eye:

 ... like an iconic Ironwood, Michigan-based small manufacturer called Stormy Kromer ... makers of fine wool hats & more since 1903 "you can't fake your way to legendary" ... now making personal protective equipment (masks) for medical first responders.

... As a means of thanking school custodians for going the extra mile, making sure school facilities are kept clean and sanitary during the COVID-19 outbreaks, appreciative parents from all over the country have raised thousands of dollars for the janitors in their district. [story]

... as with past national emergencies, like 9|11, Americans have rallied around the president and given bipartisan support.  GW Bush saw his approval rating bump some 25-30% after the attack on Sept. 11th.   For Trump his response, or lack of, to the coronavirus has attributed to a 5-7% bump.  Not very impressive.  (Gallup says 49% of Americans approve ... sort of.  Read the full story.) 

 


Petty President Proves He's Incompetent In Time of Our National Crisis  

"Hey, President Trump: Her name is Gretchen Whitmer," says Mitch Albom / Detroit Free Press

It's become his trademark.  When President Trump perceives he is being disrespected or "not appreciated" he attacks.  Viciously.  Last week our reality show TV star president turned his venom on Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer for her unforgiveable sin of asking the Federal government for help in response to the COVID-19 virus outbreak.  “The governor of Michigan, she’s not stepping up,” Trump complained to Fox News. “I don’t know if she knows what’s going on, but all she does is sit there and blame the federal government."  Actually, I think Trump takes aim at Gov. Whitmer because she gave the Democratic response to Trump's State of the Union address.  Sorry Donald ... Whitmer's remarks were spot-on perfect.  [Those who missed Whitmer's Feb. 4th speech can view it now & decide for yourself.] 

While I realize Whitmer commands overwhelming support from native Michiganders there have been a few conservatives in the state legislature who resist some of Gretchen's policy actions ("fix the damn roads") ... but when it comes to handling matters related to the virus, her support seems to be nearly universal within the state.  So it's refreshing to see comments from some conservative-leaning voices like Mitch Albom, author & Detroit Free Press columnist. 

"We have come to tolerate an infantile person in a grown man’s job, a baby in a suit," writes Albom. 
Well said, Mitch.

posted 03.29.20


Dangerously Inept Federal Government Response

"Nobody in their wildest dreams..."  Trump falsely claims

"Nobody in their wildest dreams would have ever thought that we'd need tens of thousands of ventilators," President Trump repeats almost every day as he commandeers the WH briefing room microphone. "Nobody knew there would be a pandemic or epidemic of this proportion. Nobody has ever seen anything like this before ... Nobody ever thought of numbers like this."

That obviously is false ... as the previous administrations of H.W. Bush, William Clinton, G.W. Bush, and Barack Obama all had detailed, written action plans with staff assigned to the tasks.  It turns out the Trump administration had practiced the government responses in the event something like COVID-19 actually happened.  Yep, the Donald's team "gamed out" an eerily similar pandemic over the first half of 2019 as reported in The New York Times.   The Trump administration even issued a report with recommendations in October that highlighted how unprepared the US of A was to deal with such a respiratory virus outbreak.  You too can have the facts to dispel silly Fox News reports by reading for yourself the .pdf written by Trump's staff: "Crimson Contagion"

Table A.1 (upper right) comes from page 44 in the Pandemic Influenza Plan which was just updated in 2017 by the US Dept of Health & Human Services ... look at the bottom-line "very severe" with 20% of the US population infected.  Dire.  

Was every issue the world faces today discussed or covered in the report?  Goodness no.  But the NY Times article and copies of these types of reports, along with the organization charts the Trump administration inherited, there were plenty of people assigned to, and working on, these critical matters such as the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (HHS).  But many of the positions were vacant.  Time magazine reports: "key roles at the State Dept, the US Agency for International Development, the Dept of Homeland Security, the Dept of Veterans Affairs and the Dept of Health and Human Services are being carried out by temporary, unconfirmed officials." 

Last week Reuters reported that "the Trump administration eliminated a key American public health position in Beijing intended to help detect disease outbreaks in China."  Doubt me?  Ask the Google: Linda Quick.  Or try researching Timothy Ziemer, he was a Director on Trump's National Security Council focused on Global Health - Security & Bio-defense ... Tim left team Trump in 2018 & was not replaced.  Ziemer's vacancy was just one of many failures highlighted in a November 2019 report ... back when there was still time to be proactive ... from a leading think-tank CSIS - Center for Strategic International Studies.  [read report]   And for the radical right-wing Trump supporters who may be thinking: "Yeah, sure, Mike ... another one of your progressive, liberal non-profit organizations?"  Hardly.  Current CSIS co-chair is former Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH).

Bottom-line: we're in a terrible mess and the lack of a coordinated, calm, effective response from the Federal government is a glaring failure that most Americans are just not used to.  America is country that turned the tide in two world wars and kept the world a bit safer for generations.   As I finish this article I am already thinking more positively and will include future notes about some amazing steps that people and businesses are taking all over the country to fill the void caused by Donald J. Trump. 

posted 03.28.20


Positive News Begins To Trickle ... States Take Charge As Trump Fails

Lives lost due to lack of coordinated Federal response

Our President insists he's not a "shipping clerk" which is causing states to compete with each other for dwindling resources and supplies needed to keep our first responders healthy & safe.  But last night Rachel Maddow interviewed Lt. General Todd Semonite, Chief Engineer with our fabulous Corps of Engineers who are tasked with helping expand a series of temporary medical facilities across the country in coordination with FEMA.

Finally.  A professional with a clear sense of urgency.  If you missed the interview, fret not ... I located a YouTube clip just for you.  Please share it with others!


Greed Destroyed Our Social Immune System. It’s Time to Rebuild It.

This crisis is about a lot more than a virus, says Mother Jones

I stumbled upon a quick article in Mother Jones (it's a magazine), and decided to put a link here to the full text.  The greed that I see is today's "win at all costs" strategy deployed by the GOP who seems to tolerate Trump just so long as he keeps packing the courts with conservative jurists and shepherds tax cuts for the wealthy thru Congress.  

The trick though for this retired, balding Midwestern "blogger" (wanna-be journalist) is to provide just hint of the Mother Jones article ... a snippet to whet your appetite:

"...We knew Trump would make the crisis about himself (and his family’s personal gain). We knew he’d soon look for scapegoats, and find them among people of color and the media. We knew it because that’s what he always does. What we don’t quite know yet is how much further the president’s allies will follow him into his narcissistic fantasy ... here is what gives me hope: So much of it is happening. People are sewing masks, giving blood, filling out census forms. They are building mutual aid groups to support neighbors and raise money for restaurant workers. And they are finding new ways to organize politically now that no one will knock on doors or go to meetings in person."  Mother Jones March-April 2020 issue

The magazine seems to really be interested in your opinions:  "What do you think Mother Jones’ biggest priority in covering the coronavirus should be right now?"

Hmmm.  Why not tell 'em what's on your mind?


Trump Ignores Early Warnings; Threatens Media Over Ad

(the ad is made using only words uttered by the Donald) 

Such thin skin ... our Commander in Chief has a hissy fit over an ad that summarizes his administration's pathetic response to the global pandemic.  Whoa fully inept.  Not removing the ad about rising U.S. coronavirus cases “could put your station’s license in jeopardy,” the Trump campaign warned in a "cease & desist" letter.  Trump's attorneys extended the threats which make him appear more & more like a lunatic mob boss: "... not removing the ad could put your station’s license in jeopardy with the Federal Communications Commission."  Oh really?  Is this the next example how he plans to deal with his enemies?  "Lock her up!" became the campaign rally cry.  What's your next move ... unleashing the IRS on your opponents?

Haven't seen it?  No problem-o ... try this link

After China reported the outbreak of a new coronavirus in December, U.S. intelligence agencies repeatedly warned the Trump administration in classified messages about the potentially devastating threat, The Washington Post reported Friday. Yet President Donald Trump largely ignored the warnings and delayed action that might have slowed the spread of the COVID-19 disease, according to the newspaper.  [source]

posted with pride 03.27.20

"We can't let the cure be worse than the problem," Trump

Trump administration has failed in virtually every aspect of federal government's response to crisis

Virtually no health official or medical expert agrees with President Trump that efforts to halt the spread should be relaxed to ease negative affects on the economy.  The Commander in Chief says decisions meant to combat the pandemic should not solely be left to medical professionals. "If it were up to the doctors, they may say, 'Let's shut down the entire world,'" Trump said, adding, "You know, we can't do that."  He argued much of this reasoning at the White House briefing on Monday and again later that day at a Fox News town hall which is why his lunatic base of supporters agrees with him.  Forget the data ... forget the fact that his administration's response to the virus has been an absolute failure.  Trump gives himself a perfect "10" - I say he has failed by not following the federal pandemic response plans.  Trump credits his decision to issue "travel ban" on China on January 31st for saving America.  Regardless what Trump says now in retrospect the travel ruling was not a complete ban - there were so many exceptions - the "ban" was close to worthless in containing the virus. The action was also not "bold" as Trump loves to portray - because he knows if he says if often enough, his base will believe it to be true, but even his Health & Human Services secretary Alex Azar said at the time, the decision stemmed from "the uniform recommendations of the career public health officials here at HHS." Trump also loves to create a villain in every issue he faces and complained Democrats “called me a racist because I made that decision ... they loudly criticized and protested.”   False.  As Factcheck.org points out "None of the party’s congressional leaders and none of the Democratic candidates running for president have directly criticized that decision".

Beyond that, testing protocols have been an abject failure - forget the fact that his administration opted to produce their own tests rather than use the COVID-19 diagnostic tests produced by the World Health Organization (WHO).  Heck, why not reinvent the wheel, Donald?  Why pass on testing that had proven to work in China, Korea, and throughout Europe?  Critical weeks have been lost, and most likely American lives ... and testing is still one of the largest problems.  Add the issues of limited supplies: masks, gowns, gloves, shields, ventilators - and we have problems, Houston.  And to compound those problems, we have a president who longs for the days when he could embrace the adulation of his supporters at his MAGA constant-campaign rallies ... so he has been commandeering the podium at the WH Press Briefing Room that had been mothballed prior to current crisis because Trump press briefings typically generated little more than additional controversy & negative news.

Instead of communicating calm and reassurance to American citizens, Trump has used the briefings to attack the media and Democrats. Nothing new there.  But experts say the notion that world and the U.S. government has been blindsided by the pandemic is "an onion of layered lies."  So says Max Brooks, an expert on planning for pandemics and other disasters.  Brooks has lectured at the US Naval War College and a nonresident fellow at the Modern War Institute at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.  Brooks appeared on NPR's Fresh Air hosted by Terry Gross [yep, the link leads to a podcast of the program and for those who love detail as much as I, there's even a freaking transcript].

Brook debunks the Donald's misunderstanding of the Defense Production Act, and offers local & state governments with a road map to help resolve some of the equipment shortages.  Brooks also offers the facts that could have been used at the water cooler to dispel Trump's claim that use of the DPA is the equivalent of nationalizing private industry in America. No, it's a process, Donald, to ensure that needed resources actually produce material & goods that are needed in this moment crisis.  "what you can do is identify a supply chain in order to make it work," Brooks says.  There are also numerous tips to the military who could and should be playing a more vital role - and that involves more than commanding 2 medical ships to report for duty "in the not too distant future" as Trump likes to say when asked for specifics.  It could be worth your time to listen to the podcast.

posted 03.25.20

Trump Supporters Put Lives At Risk - Over & Over

Like no other US President in history, Donald J. Trump puts lives at risk ... and his base of supporters allow it to happen.  Most likely America has never seen a political leader more focused on his approval ratings then our reality TV show president ... and what he sees is a disappointing but consistently low approval rating somewhere in the mid-forties.  Just think: of the 10 registered voters who live closest to you - four or more still support Trump.  And that is after numerous documented evidence that the Donald has lied thousands of times in the past 3-yrs* and he's repeatedly put human lives at risk.  Lives of Americans and our allies, jeopardized due to his or his administration's incompetence and bad decisions on his part. 

* Two of the best Trump fact-checkers have not updated their lists in months likely because the volume of inaccurate, false information that spews from Trump & his administration has become so voluminous and consistent its become a full-time job for many.  Washington Post is stuck at 16,241 false or misleading statements and hasn't updated the list since January 20, 2020.  Daniel Dale, Washington Bureau Chief for The Toronto Star listed 5,276 false statements through May 2019 ... Dale continues to frequently post his current fact-checking analysis on Twitter but I can not locate Dale's comprehensive 3-yr list ... given the daily volume of inaccurate things Trump says it's gotta' be a challenge. Dale posted over 60 Tweets identifying specific Trump gaffes just Sunday (03.22.20).

Trump has a long history of destroying careers, reputations, and putting lives at risk which is disgusting since most past presidents and most Americans would say he's not fulfilling his oath of office: "I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."   (Just remember: Trump does much of this crap because he thinks a huge chunk of Americans support him - which I will counter and say: Trump supporters are too lazy to keep up with the truth and seem to buy-into the argument that the media is unfair in their reports, and his own intelligence agencies are staffed by Never-Trumpers.  Same with the Justice Department, the FBI, and the CIA ... all have conspired against Trump, or so he says ... and "money-honey" Marie Bartiromo has proof ("tune in to Mornings with Maria on Fox Business and learn more about the shocking evidence from Devin Nunes...").  How on Earth are we ever going to convince the lunatics who support Trump of the facts if they don't believe journalists or career government employees throughout our justice and intelligence communities?  It's really quite absurd that the "law-and-order" party - the GOP - would be trashing our law enforcement & intelligence officers.  Need a quick refresher of the facts? 

  • family separation policy - Southern border - snatching babies from their mother's arms
  • drastic cuts to LEGAL immigration & increases to deportations within the US of A
  • canceling US participation in Iran nuclear agreement (which was working)
  • terminating US involvement in Paris Climate Change Accord ("its all a hoax")
  • Trump cuts provisions in the Affordable Care Act without advancing his health care "plan"
  • reneged on DACA Deal with Democrats just hours after saying: “My positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with,” the president said [see video if you doubt me].
  • increase in white supremacist rhetoric & hate speech ("He's done everything he can to stir up racial conflict and hatred in this country," says Senator Elizabeth Warren.)
  • Trump's solution to end school shootings? Let arm the teachers ... what could go wrong?
  • manufactured trade war (China, Canada, Mexico) & tariffs - especially hard hit: farmers
  • mangled hurricane response & rescue (Puerto Rico, Bahamas, Atlantic Coast)
  • entered into agreements with Kim Jong-Un of N. Korean without consulting his own State Dept staff
  • fractured NATO ally confidence in US of A
  • added trillions (and counting) to national debt ... for future generations to resolve
  • abandoned Kurds in Syria 2019 & put remaining US forces in Middle East at risk
  • withheld Congressional aid for Ukraine - blackmailed Pres. Zelensky to manufacture "dirt" on Joe Biden - meanwhile Ukraine soldiers killed by Russian attacks which the funding was supposed to safeguard
  • dismissal of gov't employees Trump views as "disloyal" (such as Lt. Col. Vindman, Marie Yovanovitch, Gen. H.R. McMaster, Omarosa Manigault Newman, and dozens more)
  • ignored early national security intelligence reports four months ago about potential pandemic
  • dismissed importance of early reports of the coronavirus - blamed the media & Democrats
  • delayed official US Gov't response to virus testing (and lied about & continues to do so)
  • Trump mentions chloroquine was being tested as possible a COVID- 19 therapy: man dies [news link]

posted 03.23.20 - updated 03.25.20

Fox News is evil (as if more proof is required)

The challenge for headline writers is to be thought provoking & concise, using the fewest words possible.  I don't have that finely tuned skill.  I actually wanted to say: "Fox News and everyone who religiously watches Fox News are evil."  I might even go so far as to say Fox News viewers ARE the problem.  Not but six or 7 yrs ago Fox News and the opinions expressed by their "news analysts" and guests and their staff were on the fringe.  A bit whacky.  Not a crowd to be taken seriously.  Flash forward a bit and the Tea Party emerges, though tiny and still considered to be fringe.  We survived Freedom Works and the Koch Brothers.  But they've become mainstream now: Steven Miller, Steve Bannon, Mick Mulvaney, Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan & more. 

Then Donald & Melania Trump glide down their golden escalator and claim the GOP nomination for President and a cast of Republican "Never Trumpers" emerge.  Literally everyone in the GOP establishment were card-carrying members opposed to the Donald ascension to the White House ... Lyin' Ted, Little Marco, Low-energy Jeb, Truly weird Senator Rand Paul.  Even Trump's so-called insiders were victims of the Donald's juvenile name-calling.  Jeff Sessions became Mr. Magoo, long-term Apprentice aid became Wacky Omarosa. He called his eventual VP as Mike Pounce

Gradually, the establishment Republicans see the courts being packed with conservative fire-brand judges they'd only dreamt of in the past, and see virtually every advance made during the Obama administration now over-turned & nuked.  Even things that were working and keeping the world safer like the Iran nuclear agreement, and the Paris Climate Change initiative from 2016.  Gone, erased.  [doubt me? read this article: "How Trump is rolling back Obama’s legacy"] 

So Republicans and especially Fox News viewers have drunk the Kool-Aid and now claim they support they Donald ... because "winning" is more important than any of the issues the nation and the world face.  And, those who prove to be disloyal face Trump's wrath & retribution.

Sean Hannity says Dems & "media mob" are weaponizing COVID-19 against Trump [read for yo' self]
Hannity says: "They want you to believe that the spread of corona is the president's fault and he's not doing enough to protect you."  No Sean, that's typical of you and other Republicans to make things up, but no reasonable Democrat or the "media mob" are saying the virus is Trump's fault ... but they'll repeat that line so many times that faithful Fox News viewers will have it memorized and will repeat it at Trump rallies or other public venues.  What Democrats and the media are saying is that Trump's his own worst enemy ... he contradicts his health experts daily and does not state the facts accurately.  'There are only 15 cases,' he essentially says, 'and 10 or those are better, so we're down to 5, and we'll be at 0 in a few days - we're fine - we'll have a vaccine in a few months & then the virus will just vanish.'  False.

FACT CHECK: Trump makes 14 false claims at Fox News town hall  [read & absorb truth]  I won't bother to repeat the list here ... serious readers will have already clicked-the-link and read the CNN story.  Trump's base will see that source and say: "CNN is fake news" ... even though nearly 17,000 documented, substantiated lies, misstatements, & exaggerations have been recorded.  Suffice to say, anytime the Donald appears before a camera he can not help himself ... he wants to make himself look good - he wants to stamp all issues with his hunches and his brand, his version of "reality" which is rarely accurate.  [more proof on Trump's lies]

posted 03.07.20

Super Tuesday reveals Joe Biden, hiding in plain sight

USA Today editorial board writes this morning:

Most important, Biden is the one thing that Trump is most conspicuously not: a man of good character. That is no trivial matter for voters looking to restore a sense of decency to the White House.  For Democrats desperate for someone with a fighting chance to beat Trump, they may have found their guy, hiding in plain sight.

Personally, I'd edit the above comment ... replace "Democrats" with "Americans" ... so that it reads:  "Americans desperate for someone with a fighting chance to beat Trump, they may have found their guy, hiding in plain sight."  Yep.   You go, Joe!

posted 03.06.20

In Search Of Joy (or, maintaining my sanity in these crazy times)

The past several months I'll admit, I've been on the brink of losing it.  I am referring to what's going on in Washington DC and all across this once great land in the midst of an election year.  Rather than re-hash all that has happened in past three years I decided to archive previous articles written here and just pick up with the impeachment hearings in the House of Representatives - which built a compelling, but incomplete case against Donald J. Trump.  His administration was blocking every reasonable attempt to secure documents & testimony, and fighting them in the courts would have extended the battle past the November general election.  Trump and his Republican defenders were essentially running out the clock ... so Democrats & Independents had little choice but Impeach the President.

Disagree with my assessment?  Prove it.  Actually, I'd say you likely have watched far too much One America TV or too much Fox News ... because the facts are quite clear.  And no, Trump never released a real transcript of his call with the Ukrainian President ... just an incomplete summary.  Have you read it?  You oughta'.  We can pause here while you dash off and do that.  And while you're at it, try reading some of these fact-checking articles:

  • Opening statements from President Trump's legal team at Senate trial:  fact-check link
  • Trump's attorneys claim he was locked out from participating in impeachment proceedings. That's false. fact-check link
  • Trump's false claim that US is the only country providing aid to Ukraine  fact-check link
  • Did Trump really care about corruption in Ukraine? The evidence suggests no  fact-check link
  • Breaking down Adam Schiff's account of Trump's Ukraine call  fact-check link

Even though many Republican Senators admitted that the Democrats made their case and proved Trump was guilty, they claimed there was no need for further testimony & evidence 'cuz the infractions didn't rise to the level of an impeachable offense.  What kind of nonsense is that???  Only Mitt Romney of all people, displayed an ounce of integrity, voting to remove Trump from office.  But the GOP "won" and they kept the most dangerous man ever to hold the nuclear football to remain in office.  "Winning" is all Mitch McConnell & today's Congressional Republicans care about ... which is why all of them need to be voted out of office (except Mitt). 

Following the impeachment trial Trump proceeded to act as if he was vindicated of the charges (he was not) and proceeded to embark on a shameful "victory lap" as he began to feel embolden to further attack and punish anyone who he perceived to be "disloyal".  His factually challenged, highly partisan State of the Union address was indeed “a manifesto of mistruths” as House Speaker Pelosi explained after the red-meat speech was delivered. 

Yet through it all some 40+ percent of American adults continue to support the guy.  That's just insane ... and its the reason I have to pull back from this craziness and find joy elsewhere.  Oh, sure, I'll still watch more news & read more government reports than the average buffoon, but I'm going to post fewer comments here about politics for a little while as I attempt to not go bonkers and shall immerse myself & flood my brain with material other than cable news ... Rachel Maddow, Brian Williams & Nicole Wallace ... who you may recall worked in the Bush-2 W.H. as communications director ... a Republican. 

step 1:  explore diversions based on decency

One source of joy for Louise & I is music.  The other day I mentioned that Harry Nilsson's classic production: The Point  turned 50-yrs old.  "Impossible," my brain responded.   So naturally, I've been playing more of Harry's tunes & through this fun diversion I've re-gained my appreciation for his music and even formulated a connection with our activity the past 2-years: exploring vintage sports cards from the golden era of sport.  Goodness, you may be thinking ... that's quite a stretch.  What does Oblio & The Point have to do with my beloved 1933 Babe Ruth baseball card?  Or, Red Grange? 

Glad you asked.   Take the 3rd song from the Point for example ... Poli High.  (Yeah, it's best to listen to the tune while reading this little thought.)

Poli-high, Poli-Technic, Poli-Technically High
Poli-high, Poli-Technically High
Valley Low, Valley Low, Valley so low
Valley Low, Valley Low, Valley High

Poly Tech.  It's a technical name.  Technically high.   A school?

Had a game, had a game, had a technical game
By the name, by the name, called a technical game
Valley High, Valley High, Valley High
Poli, Low

Alright, now we're getting somewhere. We have a game ... with a technical name. (Triangle Toss: the object is for participants to catch the triangle on the point of their heads ... or in Oblio's case, on Arrow's pointed snout.)  But the tune can easily be adapted to most any contest, especially when good vs. evil is involved.  Kinda' like: Decent Americans vs. Donald J. Trump.  Valley high ... valley so low.

Then de whistle blow
Then de whistle blow
Second half, second half, Poli come from behind
Hold that line, Hold that line, Hold that line

The lyrics suggest sport ... whistles blowing, 2nd half ... but also optimism:  Biden comes from behind.  Boy how I love rooting for the underdog.  And of course we need a strong defense - 2nd half, 2nd half ... to the next phase.   Hold that line, hold that line ... quit caving-in to the wingnuts who want to re-create the national education system with faith-based charter schools.  Hold that line, hold that line!  Send Betsy DeVos packing.  Oh, but wait ... are there charges that need to be brought against these criminals as their reign of terror on America comes to an end?

Far to go, going, slow, Poli come from behind
Running out of the time
Number Two, dressed in blue
Make a run with the ball

The effort never ends - its a battle: sometimes slow.  Far to go but it's worth the effort to preserve freedom and not accept the radical red-meat arguments or rolling back regulations simply because they were passed by the nation's first black president & his administration.  Dressed in Biden blue, #2 (like the Veep he was).

Hurry up Poli, pass Valley by
Then the rain start to fall
Making fools of them all
And so it ends in a technical tie

The struggle ends in a tie?  How unsatisfying ... the rain, fools.  Reminds me of the nonsense line in MacArthur's Park: "... someone left the cake out in the rain ..."  That can't be good.  But as depicted in the graphic above, Oblio & Arrow's victory over the bratty Trump-like son* of the Count was well-received by the citizens.  (* yep, another confession: in my mind's eye I do see Donald Trump, Jr. when I hear reference to the evil Count's Son.   It's a sickness; I admit it, but it'll be over soon.)
 

step 2:  let history be a guide


The moral or larger lesson gleaned from The Point is that while everything has a point ... a point in all directions is the same as no point at all.  Yes, I borrowed that analysis directly from Nilsson's story.  "He's got a point there!" said one observer.

So the references to sports & games is part of the joy for me.  The vintage cards have lead to books & articles, and life-long learning, and a sense of better understanding people and past generations.  Sports can help one develop personal goal setting and striving to achieve and do your best.  Poli High ... then de whistle blows ... reference to the second half suggests a football contest ... which I can not watch now without hearing Nilsson singing: "hold that line" and "come from behind!"   

The kids who collected these cards back in 1933 may have had access to a radio - my father didn't.  Information about the Babe's latest home run, or the other Babe's latest track & field victory at the Olympics out in L.A. could be found mainly in the newspapers or on the news-reels at the Bijou (theatre).

Sport Kings was a collection of cards that spanned multiple sports: football, hockey, golf, track, baseball, basketball, tennis, wrestling & boxing and more.  And, get this: two of the cards were girls!  Imagine a bratty, snot-nosed little freckled face boy with a penny burning a hole in his pocket, racing down to the local Sugar Emporium & Tobacco Shoppe to fetch a wax-sealed pack of Goudey's Sport Kings which had a card and a slab of bubble gum ... hoping to get a Jim Thorpe or a Carl Hubbell card ... only to find they got a girl.  Aaaaugh! Eeeuw!  The two girls?  1. Babe Didrikson, track star & future professional golfer; and 2. Helene Madison, gold medal Olympic swimmer.  "Say, maybe I can trade it to Roy," the little conniver says as he hatches his scheme.

-- see more of Mike's limited sports card collection (link).   -- The Point the movie ... streaming link.

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04.09.20 - many articles published earlier are being sorted - I may have a new "archive" soon ... or not.