Friday, November 13, 2020

Why Won’t the GOP Step-Up and Declare Biden the
Winner – Why Do They Continue to Appease Trump?
November 13, 2020 – 3:00 pm ET
By Rich Weissman, Palm Springs, California (www.richweissman.com)
 
The GOP accepts the Senate and House races, the various state races, and the Presidential races where Trump won. All of those ballots are deemed valid. But, they don’t accept the Presidential races where Biden won, even in states where the Senate, House and state races are accepted and were on the same ballot as the Presidential race. Trump is now busy in the courts, and thus far has lost every court case. Every one of them. He has no evidence of voter fraud, and not one state has claimed voter fraud. Not one. And the few instances in which fraud was suggested (e.g. the lone postal worker) were found to be themselves fraudulent claims of ballot stealing (and the postal worker admitted to he lied after having received over $130,000 in funds – now that’s fraud). The absurdity and insanity raises one simple question… Biden will be the next President in January; there are reports of GOP leaders secretly admitting to Trump’s defeat; so why is the GOP hell-bent on supporting Trump’s delusion, what possible benefit does this provide to the GOP at this point?

Any political science expert would point the GOP in the direction of moving on. Allow the winner to enjoy the honeymoon period so that the euphoria of the opposition wears off (and it typically does at a rapid pace), and then pick the next battle and prepare for upcoming elections and political disagreements. After all, the Georgia Senate races are upon us; COVID is still active, as is the weakening economy (and soon both will be Biden’s problem to solve), and the GOP should be focused on 2022 when the House is up for re-election, and on 2024 with Pence as a possible Presidential candidate. Add to the equation the distinct possibility that Trump and his family will be facing criminal charges in the new year, knowing it will get vicious. Wisely, the GOP should view Trump as history, understanding that his delusions and the need to appease him is now a path that leads to nowhere. The pathetic scene at the Four Seasons Total Landscaping lot (next to the porn shop and the crematorium) should have clearly signaled the end of Trump. The moment the Trump campaign allowed this absurd and pitiful press conference to happen should have marked the end.

Do they genuinely think they can somehow pull this off? Trick the nation into believing some grand scheme to undermine Trump? No. Biden won by a landslide (yes, his victory meets the definition of a landslide) in historic numbers and percentages of votes and voter turnout. He is the winner, and we can count and we know it.

For Trump, we can all understand his unwillingness to deal with realities. He never has shown an ability to engage in an adult and rational way that puts the best interests of anyone (or the nation) ahead of his own delusions of grandeur. He lives in his own narcissistic and sociopathic mind in which he cannot accept a loss even when it’s clear. In a few weeks, his casino in Atlantic City will be torn down, but he will still claim to be the winner. It’s his pattern. We get it.

But for almost everyone else in the GOP, what is their driver?

I believe that the answer is quite simple. The GOP is lost. Lost in the cold waters as they spin in their lifeboats and watch the ship sink, unable to process the event and unable to see a way to survive without the ship. They cannot see a future for the GOP without Trump; he is the party. And now they are unable to envision what lies ahead without him and without his base (aka cult) who continue to worship him. 

At this point, the GOP has long lost any serious ideology, vision, or strategy to differentiate itself from the Democrats. They have become the party of Trump, without any purpose other than to believe in and enrich Trump. He, his behaviors and fantasies became the core of the party. The party created Trumpism, they created and enabled Trump, and they now cannot figure out how to survive without him. He is their monster and they can't envision a political world where he is not at the top. The GOP has no platform. Remember, they decided this summer not to bother with developing one. All they represent is adoration for Trump. They have nothing else. To accept Trump's loss and move on would require seeing beyond Trump, and that is a bridge too far for them. They lack that ability, and their base simply cannot accept a Trump loss. For them, he is their god and their Trump religion cannot exist without Trump as lord.

Let’s unpack it further. What about Trumpism does his base and the GOP adore? Is it the specific policies? No, the GOP is not about any economic growth plans or monetary discipline through conservative ideology (they have created the largest budget deficit ever). The GOP is not about a balanced budget or fiscal responsibility (quite the opposite with the tax breaks for the wealthy). The GOP is not about education (they have cut it to the bone). The GOP is not interested in fighting COVID (they have politicized wearing masks and other safety measures). The GOP is not about American leadership in the world and a strong military and foreign policy (they have exited from key international agreements and organizations). Business leaders and conservative thinkers have abandoned Trump (including those who headed up the GOP and acted as key GOP strategists), and regardless of how one feels about these positions, the GOP has evolved into one in which positions and results are irrelevant. He failed at COVID, the economy, international relations, and all other aspects of managing the federal government. Except for the Mara Lago crowd who wanted tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and wanted to buy their way into power, the core principle of the party is unquestioning support for the idolized Donald Trump.

What about Trump keeps his followers in line? I believe it is about two things: First, unequivocable belief in conspiracies and a complete unwillingness to see realities. If Trump says it happened, then it happened. Second, unabashed supremacy. Trump started his political career with birtherism, claiming that the black President was not born in the U.S. and not a legitimate American worthy of the highest office. And Trump’s people got on board. Then, Trump’s campaign began with calling Mexicans rapists and murderers who were destroying the economy and need a wall to keep them out. “Build that wall” was the foundation of his primary run and 2016 election. He has supported Nazis, the KKK, Proud Boys and Q . He brought in the most reactionary and hateful Supreme Court justices who have demonstrated their commitment to supremacy. He portrayed black Americans as dangerous looters, and supported the continuation of the Confederate flag and other such racist icons as part of American culture. He dismissed Black Lives Matter. He even invited Patricia and Mark McCloskey, who pointed guns at peaceful black protesters, to speak at his convention. He demonstrated a complete disdain for women, and in the most vile ways spoke about and treated them as sexual objects to be used by men, including rape. He placed a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. He created a conspiracy that Democrats (including Biden) would take Christmas away. He signed the most virulent anti-LGBTQ executive orders. And he brought about the resurgence of the supremacist American Firsters and disassociated from the democratic nations of the world, while cozying up to the most hateful dictators. We have witnessed four years of horrific supremacy. Trump stands for nothing other than himself and American white, male, Christian, heterosexual supremacy. Period.

We haven’t heard one leader of the GOP admit that the party needs to move on and find a new path forward. We haven’t heard of any kind of introspection and need for serious re-assessment. We haven’t seen widespread outrage at Trump’s recent firings in critical Defense, Homeland Security, Intelligence, and other areas of the federal government, as if Trump is planning a coup. And we won’t. Trumpism is alive and the GOP is without a moral compass to redirect.

As I've always said, the issue isn't about how we remove Trump; the issue is about how we remove Trumpism. Fascism is always about the single leader, and when the leader is destroyed or pushed aside, the fascists are lost. Today, the Trumpians are lost, and their party is without leadership or direction. They have no other leader who can manipulate the Trump cult of supremacy in the same way, and the GOP knows it and is unwilling to fight the core supremacy values of Trumpism. That’s the danger. Biden is right. This is a battle for the soul of our nation.

Where do we go? Quite frankly, all we can do is call out the GOP for what they are: Trump apologists and supremacists. There is no strategy for coddling or rationally dealing with Trumpism and its basis in conspiracies and supremacy. Biden, Harris, and their team need to go forward, boldly, very boldly, and decisively, not waiting for the GOP (that’s futile) and not attempting to find a “middle ground” on supremacy. It’s not possible. This will be a tough next few months and some tough years ahead. This isn’t about the Democrats vs. the Republicans; it isn’t about disagreements on policy issues (and please, let’s not in-fight with ourselves over policy – we have a bigger battle to wage during these next four years); it’s about defining the moral core of America. That’s what the Biden-Harris Presidency will be about, starting now. Scary times ahead and lots of uglies that will surface. Trumpism won’t die easily, and even with Trump potentially in prison, his legacy will live on among the millions and millions who voted for him and among the GOP who refuse to confront who they are.



 

Miscellaneous Musings – Random Thoughts from April thru November, 2020

November 13, 2020 - 10:30 am ET
By Rich Weissman, Palm Springs, California (www.richweissman.com)

Here are some random posts I wrote from April thru November, 2020 (in date order going back)...

November 11, 2020:

Let’s be sure to pay serious attention to this incredibly important story: When Trump loses his ability to hire quality legal firms to represent his campaign for the next months, and later to represent him personally after January, the game changes significantly. Typically, the DNC is represented by the legal firm of Perkins Coie as their primary counsel (and that remains so, along with other top tier firms), and the GOP is represented by the legal firm of Jones Day as their primary counsel (also along with other top tier firms). These are both among the largest and top tier firms in the nation. I have a close friend who works at Perkins Coie (and he took the marriage equality case to the Oregon courts and won). They are top-notch. It so happens that Jones Day was the firm that represented the buyer that purchased my tech company, and they were on point in legal negotiations. I, too, had a top tier firm, and having quality attorneys on both sides made it easier and all worked out well. But in today’s NY Times (“Growing Discomfort at Law Firms Representing Trump in Election Lawsuits”), it is reported (and in other sources, too), that Jones Day is tiring of working with Trump. The same is true of Porter Wright Morris and Arthur, another large top tier firm that the GOP/Trump uses. And, it was reported today in the Washington Post that the Lincoln Project has developed ads targeting Jones Day and Porter et. al. shaming them into resignation from these cases. Trump has been reported “shopping“ attorneys, and has been unsuccessful in finding large firms of quality. They are turning him down. Trump is being forced to use low tier, more local attorneys, and that’s when they are unable to put together and execute a national legal strategy of value. Trump's people are saying they are now working more with “boutique” firms. Really! The debacle with Giuliani and the Four Seasons (the landscaping business parking lot situated between the porn shop and the crematorium, not the hotel!) shows the sophomoric level of the current legal activity in the Trump campaign. Nothing wrong with working with small and local firms, but not when you are the GOP and the President working on a national level. Without national firms with access to attorneys and a vast staff in all geographies with a wide range of experience and expertise, the legal staffing issue becomes a real barrier for Trump. Now just wait until January 2021, when he and his family will personally need their own cadre of attorneys, and Trump won’t be able to use the resources of Barr and the DOJ anymore. This aspect may not have been foreseen in the equation, but it is fascinating to watch it unfold. Karma.

November 7, 2020:

Let's all send a clear message... Mr. Trump, tear down that wall around the White House. In America, the White House is not a bunker for the fascists. Today, we defeated fascism (again) and returned to the values of truth, decency, compassion, fairness, equality, inclusiveness, respect of the law, democracy. Mr. Trump, tear down that wall - President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris won't be needing it.

November 5, 2020:

The nation has voted. Let’s not rush the counting.

1) National elections always take many, many days for votes to be counted. We are often unaware because we frequently know who has won before all the votes are counted. But they are ultimately counted and the final numbers take time.

2) In many states, typically few people vote-by-mail, and often these states wait until all in-person votes are counted before tackling the vote-by-mail ballots (including absentee, military, international, provisional, and ballots that need correcting). Some states have such a timing process embedded in their laws. It’s not that they are counting “late ballots,” but only starting to count all mail-in ballots when the polls close.

3) This year we have the highest level of voter participation in decades. And, because of COVID, so many people chose to vote by mail. Trump supporters didn’t because Trump frightened them into voting in-person.

4) The postal service deliberately slowed down the mail as an act of voter suppression, so valid ballots are still being delivered. We want them counted. The result of all 4 factors in close races means we need to wait. This is how the process works. So at this point, let’s be calm and patient, and let’s allow the poll workers to do their jobs correctly. We all benefit from a methodical ballot counting process.

November 4, 2020:

I’m a data scientist, a statistician, a researcher, a social, and am asked again how the pollsters can still be so wrong. Good question...

1) What people say they will do (poll) and what they actually do (vote) are two different things, and the greater the barriers between the intent and the behavior, the less likely the intent will prevail. Sure, at New Year’s I intend (and I believe it with my heart) that I will lose 10 lbs. That’s easy to say. But then I don’t. I join the health club meaning to go, and then I don’t. The public tends to equate intent to vote (and intent to vote and to do so in a particular way in a simple questionnaire) as an absolute measure (even taking into account +/- error) of what will happen. It’s not. It’s one thing to say I intend to get bread when I go grocery shopping and then write it on my list, because I am almost certain of that outcome. There’s little barrier to the purchasing behavior. But it’s an altogether different thing when assessing future voting. There are many barriers (including those self-imposed and those that result from voter suppression). I need to be registered and check that I’m still registered at my current address, and I need get my ballot in the mail or go to the polling location. If I am voting by mail, I need to be home during the election season to get my ballot, and I need to take the time to fill it out, to be sure to fill out correctly, to sign my ballot correctly and to either mail it or find a legitimate ballot box drop-off. I need to pay attention to timing of when I mail it or drop it off, and I then need to follow-up to make sure my ballot was received and counted. If I am voting in-person, I need to find out the polling locations and times, and I need to find a way to get there. I need to think about having valid ID just in case, and I need to find the time to stand in line to vote. I need to know what to do if I’m questioned. These are steps that remove the intent from the behavior. And, of real importance, I may very well change my mind in the process and vote for a different candidate or issue than I originally intended. And, people aren't always honest and give survey responses based on what they think is a socially acceptable response. Voting is complex, and polling assumes a simple linear connection between stated intent and behavior, and that’s simply not how most human behavior operates.

 2) In a more complex world of sampling and various sampling vehicles (text, online, cell phone, landline, etc.), with more demographic, psychographic, geographic segments and subgroups within, sampling becomes more complicated. The pure “random” sample is no longer viable, so pollsters rely on clusters, stratifications and known population segments to assess intent, utilizing a variety of weights and algorithms to combine them into population estimates. It’s flawed and makes the projections less certain. Even with “perfect” intent to behavior measures, the methodology of algorithmic sampling makes it highly variable based on the assumptions of the underlying model weights. And don’t confuse sampling error with the inaccuracies of the weighting behind the models (which is what caused the Hillary polling mess). It’s not the same. No longer are the days where researchers can conduct a random digit-dialing telephone landline sample of a population. Research sampling has become more complex, and with that comes lower confidence in the ability of the samples to project outcomes.

3) Fundamentally, research is about noticing trends, not predicting a specific outcome. Only fortune tellers can do that. Uncovering trends, projecting outcomes, and “predicting” the future are all quite different. The general population assumes that the research predicts the outcome. It doesn’t. It merely suggests where the population might be headed.

I know we all want certainty, and we aren't comfortable with nuance. Unfortunately, political polling does not provide that. And we need to live with this reality.

November 2, 2020:

Some things are time-specific, others are event-specific. It’s important to differentiate between them. Independence Day is always on July 4th and starts at midnight. It’s time-specific. When will COVID end? That’s event-specific, when there is a safe and reliable vaccine available to all. When will the election results be final? That’s event-specific, when all the votes are counted. You can be sure of the time of your next birthday, you can be sure of the time of your next teeth cleaning appointment. But you’ll have to think differently about when the final results of the election are known. It will only be over when every mail-in, absentee, military, overseas, early and day-of in-person, provisional and other ballots are counted. If that takes a few days or a week or more, then that is when the election results will be finalized. So everyone has to learn to appreciate that election results are event-specific. Not too hard to understand, as democracy is about counting all the votes, no matter how long it takes. Let’s be patient.

November 1, 2020:

On Tuesday, people just like those in the photos below will go to the polls and vote. The photos are from the 1940’s at Solahutte, a country resort just 18 miles from the Auschwitz concentration camp (the largest death camp in Europe). It was a quiet place for the Auschwitz staff to relax on their days off from the hard work of genocide. Over one million Jews and 100k other people (LGBTQ, Gypsies, political enemies, etc.) were gassed, killed and burned in the crematoria at Auschwitz in a short period of just a few years (including many from my family). These Solahutte guests were the 20th century deplorables, “innocently” following Hitler’s “make Germany great again” creed. And today, we have Americans who are truly no different – they relish in lies and conspiracies; they lack concern for the 230k+ who died from COVID; they don’t view all people as full human beings and they provide support for those who cause hatred and the deaths of black people, immigrants and other IPOC, and the disabled; they don’t care if children are separated from their parents and kept in cages; they openly deny LGBTQ people and women equality; they hate the Jews, Muslims and any religion that isn’t their own specific brand; they applaud those who run down and kill protesters (after all, there are “good people” on both sides); they engage in voter suppression; they support those who plot to kill Democrats who are leaders, and they even try to cause the bus carrying their opponent to crash on a highway. Yet, they seem to be like everyone else, no different from the people in the photos below, enjoying their day off, laughing and unwinding with their co-workers of death and destruction. Just think, the day before the photos were taken these people were lining up human beings in front of the gas chambers and then managing the process of moving the dead bodies to the crematoria. And the next day they are laughing and singing. The obscenity of these photos is alive in the era of Trump. Please, please vote and vote blue on every spot on the ballot. We need to outnumber those who in the last century would have enjoyed their visit to Solahutte.


October 18, 2020:

If I bumped into the realtor listing the house for sale on my street, and I was told that the house had sold to black, or indigenous, or Latinx, or Asian or any other people of color, or an LGBTQ couple with children, or a single parent, or immigrants, or Muslims (or Buddhists, Hindus, etc.), or people with disabilities, or any combination, I would say, “Wonderful, we need more diversity, and let the new owners know that I’m here to help out if they need anything.” Once they moved in, I’d invite them over for a “welcome to the neighborhood” party and invite everyone on the block.

 But if a Trumpian moved in, I’d be worried. They might not believe that the law matters and the social rules of civil behavior apply to them; they might constantly lie and spread viscous and false rumors and conspiracies; they might believe they have the right to sexually assault people; they might think they can harm me for my same-sex marriage or the OBGYN down the street for abortions; they might call the police whenever I have black friends over; they might think they can stop people who aren’t Christian from celebrating different holidays; they might own guns and think it’s okay to walk around with guns and threaten people on the block; they (or their pets) might not be vaccinated against diseases and pose a threat to the health of the neighborhood; they might refuse to recycle or engage in other forms of mandated carbon footprint mitigation, and they might try to stop neighbors from getting solar panels installed; they might not pay their property taxes or HOA fees; they might take my morning newspapers (NY Times, Washington Post, etc.) which they view as fake news which should be banned; they might even steal my mail looking to take my voting ballot so I can’t vote.

And certainly, the property values would decrease if they fly confederate and/or Nazi flags, or have hateful signs in their yard or bumper stickers on their car. Having them for neighbors would be a nightmare and we would all be shaking our heads saying, “there goes the neighborhood.”

Humor aside, it’s time to articulate the dangers presented by the Trumpian culture and those who follow it. We need to see them for what they are.

October 5, 2020:

Look what just came out in the Desert Sun (local newspaper serving Palm Springs and the surrounding Coachella Valley in Southern CA):

Give Middleton Another Term

I live in Lisa Middleton’s district, and here’s why I support her re-election:

First, Lisa is an accessible listener. She begins to work on an issue by listening to her constituents, experts and other stakeholders. She starts with an open mind and gathers thoughts, ideas and information. She takes this step seriously so as to best represent the community.

Second, Lisa brings integrity to her position. She speaks openly and honestly, and always respectfully to those whom she represents. Her word means everything, and she can be counted on to deliver.

Third, Lisa focuses on the community at large. She always asks what the right thing is to do for the city, both short-term and long-term. She truly represents all of us, and no one is left out or viewed as unimportant. Lisa is a caring person, who genuinely brings compassion, empathy and inclusiveness to her position.

I have talked with Lisa about many issues. I have watched City Council meetings on TV, and I am always impressed with the depth, concern and thoughtfulness that Lisa brings to discussions. We are fortunate to have such a wonderful councilperson representing us, and we need her to be reelected.

Rich Weissman, Palm Springs

October 3, 2020:

With Trump having contracted COVID, we are now told to show compassion. Here’s a way to think about that request …

A wealthy man, with a long record of speeding in his collection of sports cars, drives 85 mph in a front of an elementary school where children are at the school crossing with red flashing lights, and runs down and kills 12 children and the 2 adult crossing guards, along with seriously injuring an additional 9 children. The man was seriously injured as well when he crashed into a tree after plowing down the children and the guards. He had previously been cited and warned about his speeding, and he had been forced by the court to take a course in safe driving (which he reluctantly took and then mocked). For whom do we mourn and feel sympathy, and for whom do we send our wishes for recovery? Pandemic ignored and dismissed, masking and social distancing mocked, and now millions of Americans infected and 210,000 dead, and my heart goes out for whom?

September 19, 2020:

On Rosh Hashanah, Trump tells American Jews, "we love your country" and asks for their vote. This is an age-old anti-Semitic trope in which Jewish people are considered to be "guests" of the "host nation," but certainly not citizens. No, J.D. and I, and my family, and all other America Jewish people are full citizens of the United States. We may love Israel, but we are Americans. Italian-Americans may love Italy, Irish-Americans may love Ireland, but Trump wouldn't think of saying to them "we love your country." The claim that Jews are somehow citizens of another nation other than the "host" is that which incited the Holocaust. And let's be clear - RGB was a true American and American leader. This blatant anti-Semitism is just another example of the hatred and divisiveness that Trumpism has engendered. BTW, the vast majority of American Jews won't be voting for Trump. We know how to read the tropes.

September 9, 2020:

The losers and suckers comments about fallen military men and women, the admission of knowing about the dangers of the virus, and the denial of climate change make it clear. Trumpism is about admiring one who relinquishes personal responsibility and duty, and who embraces selfishness and narcissism. It’s all part of a culture that relishes in lies, cheating, hatefulness, bigotry, ignorance, and that which is uncivil and lacking in empathy. It’s not about overlooking these behaviors; it’s about venerating them. That’s the key, and doing so as a religious experience, viewing these as somehow divine. No data, no fact-checking, no serious discussion changes the equation. It’s not about that which is moral and true; it’s about that which is self-absorbed and egotistical. And the more Trump and his cohorts engage and gloat in self-indulgence, denying that which we feel - the sadness for fallen soldiers, the fears of the pandemic, the anxiety about climate change, the disgust of the actions of bigots, the concerns for the economy, the worries of health care - the more the Trumpian followers worship him. No evidence, no science, no historical context will change any of this. No dialogue, no debate will matter. The Trumpians have managed to create a culture in which they are not responsible, in which they are not required to participate in society in a civilized way, where they can ignore the norms and the realities of the consequences of their behaviors, all under the guise of their religion in which they have no accountability nor need for personal or social conscience. This is what we are voting against in November; this is what is at stake - an election of the century, defining who we are as a people. We all must vote for a culture in which selfishness and narcissism are disdained. It’s that simple.

September 10, 2020:

Why would Trump have given all those interviews (and on tape!) to Woodward? Really, why would he do that? It's simple - Donald is a narcissist and a sociopath, and these kinds of people are incapable of understanding future consequences of their behaviors. The believe in their own omnipotence and cannot see how they can lose. They genuinely cannot imagine a scenario where they cannot talk themselves out of any situation. Donald believes he can outsmart, outdebate and out-present "his side" without failure. He cannot image a script in which he does not win. And when such scenarii do happen, he blames others as he is incapable of seeing his role in any way other than positive. So he talks with Woodward, says it all, and he thinks that he will somehow look good in the end. No need for further analysis - it's pure narcissism and sociopathy. And when it goes wrong, blame someone else because he simply cannot see his role in a negative outcome. This is who he is (and not pretending to be), and all of his actions are grounded in this core personality disorder. It's that simple.

August 18, 2020:

I'm confused. We don't talk about the "dire" financial condition and revenue losses of the military, the secret service, the coast guard, homeland security, IRS, federal parks, highways, the branches of government, the courts, etc. These are costs, not revenue producers, so why is the post office viewed as product that needs to produce more revenue than it costs. Would we shut down the IRS because it doesn't generate sufficient fines to cover its costs? Would we shut down the White House because the gift shop doesn't cover the costs of the president and the administration? Would we shut down the courts because their fees are far less than the costs of running the judicial system? Of course not. Government is not in the business of making money. It's in the business of collecting tax revenues and distributing them as Congress mandates. This notion that the postal service needs to be a profit center, and cover its operating and retirement benefits costs, is an abomination. Let's call it what it is.

August 13, 2020

Great strategy and, of course, Trump takes the bait. Rather than ignoring the VP opponent (Kamala Harris), Trump's going after her and creating a debate between Trump and Harris. It elevates her and allows her to take him on in ways that Biden cannot. Whereas Pence is not a factor, it's now Biden AND Harris against Trump. Trump has allowed himself to be in a position where he is attacked from two sides by both opponents, each of whom can attack him and excite voters in different ways. Notice how silent Pence remains. It's Trump who is taking the lead against Harris. Mark my word, the Biden-Harris team will now be in a position to attack at a new level, and that seems to be their strategy (often called a flanking strategy), knowing that Trump is incapable of resisting the bait. So when you see Trump attack Harris, my thinking is that it's all good and all part of a smart Biden strategy. She will keep prodding him and he can't resist. In strategic terms, one never wants to be flanked, but Trump is who he is, and this may be one additional component in selecting Harris.

July 29, 2020:

I asked myself what I would do if BLM protesters were marching in front of my house. The first thing that came to mind would be to grab a folding table, a few cases of bottled water and boxes of protein bars, and set it up at the sidewalk. I would thank the protesters for speaking up about this important issue and offer them refreshments. Imagine how different things would have turned out for the McCloskeys if they had done that. But, the Trumpians only know the impulse of fear and violence, not the response of compassion and kindness; they see the protesters as the enemy, not as fellow human beings. And that’s the fundamental problem we face.

(Patricia and Mark McCloskey, the couple who wielded guns at Black Lives Matter protesters, St. Louis MO)

July 12, 2020:

I saw these numbers today, with a clear answer to those who suggest we should all “just get infected and get it over with, and only 1% to 2% will die.” First, it sounds low as a percent but not when put into numbers; second, it assumes that if one doesn’t die, then all is good.

The US population is 328.2 million people. If 1% die, that’s 3.3 million people dead. At 2%, 6.5 million people dead – imagine that!

What about the people who survive? For every one person who dies:

19 more require hospitalization.

18 will have permanent heart damage for the rest of their lives.

10 will have permanent lung damage.

3 will have strokes.

2 will have neurological damage that leads to chronic weakness and loss of coordination.

2 will have neurological damage that leads to loss of cognitive function.

So with “only” a 1% fatality rate:

3.3 million people dead, along with:

62 million hospitalized.

60 million with permanent heart damage.

33 million with permanent lung damage.

10 million people with strokes.

7 million with muscle weakness.

7 million with loss of cognitive function.

 Add up those with permanent damage (after those who died and excluding the hospitalizations), that’s 117 million people sick and disabled. If one includes deaths, over 37% of the US population will be personally devastated, not to mention the impact on their families, friends and communities. Almost four in ten people you know, including yourself, will either die or be physically and permanently disabled if this disease is not contained. 

And when Betsy DeVos says that only 1% of children will die if we open up the schools, we’re talking about millions of children facing death or permanent disability, not to mention spreading the disease to their families, teachers and communities. 

But Donniedeath and his cohorts don’t care. All they think about is the economy of the moment and the visuals between now and the election. But how can the US have a strong economy when over a third of our population can be so severely impacted? We can’t, and our nation is at risk of failure in economic, public health and social terms with these kinds of potential numbers. This is a crisis, and ignoring it to keep things going for an election (or because we’re “bored with the pandemic”) is heartless. If we don’t take immediate action we will regret it for years and generations to come, and the devastation noted above will become our new normal.

June 22, 2020:

I leash my dog and clean-up after him because I want to live a healthy life in a healthy community. I take my garbage to the trash can because I want to live a healthy life in a healthy community. I use the bathroom in my house and then wash my hands because I want to live a healthy life in a healthy community. I stay home with the flu because I want to live a healthy life in a healthy community. We all do lots of things for our health and for our community's health, even if there are times we don’t want to. It might be easier to let my dog loose and not clean up after him, or throw my trash in the road, or go to the bathroom in the street and not wash my hands, or go shopping with the flu. But that wouldn’t be healthy for me and my community. And that’s why I always wear a mask outside my house and maintain social distance. Sure it’s uncomfortable and inconvenient, but I want to live a healthy life in a healthy community. That’s what civilized people do. Kinda easy concept.

 June 13, 2020:

Eleven southern states initially created the Confederate States of America in 1860, and it existed for less than 5 years until 1865. ONLY FIVE YEARS! And the Confederate (aka rebel) flag was created in 1863 and lasted less than 2 years. ONLY TWO YEARS! They declared themselves to be independent of the United States after Lincoln was elected, so as to form a separate nation with highly limited central government and with the institution of black slavery at its core. So let’s get real. Although based on centuries of brutal and horrific slavery and racism, the Confederacy itself was defeated and represented an ugly and short period in which an enemy of American democracy and the Constitution emerged and was vanquished. There is NO reason to celebrate it or its flag other than to continue to promote racism and treason. And let’s put it in perspective and list American periods which lasted longer than the Confederacy: Obama’s presidency, Shirley Chisholm’s Congressional seat in the House, Wanda Sykes’ career, Kwanzaa, tv shows “Good Times” and “The Jeffersons,”, and even RuPaul’s “Drag Race,” to name just a few. Let the south (and others) put up statues of these and take down anything and everything related to that which celebrates slavery and treason.

June 11, 2020:

I was thinking... Imagine being afraid to walk outside in your neighborhood or in a local park, imagine being afraid to drive your car, imagine being afraid to go shopping in a store, imagine being afraid of the door bell as it might mean danger, imagine being afraid of sending your kids to school or worrying about your spouse going to work. Imagine living like this every day. I'm not talking about COVID; I'm talking about being black in America and living one's life afraid because of the ongoing racism and injustices that make each day an anxious and potentially deadly one for black people. White people like me need to begin to try to understand. We'll never experience it; we'll never fully understand it; but we need to try to empathize and then get on board and fight for change, because black lives matter and black people should not have to live lives in fear. Racism is a white problem and we have to own it.

June 7, 2020:

Interesting idea that hit me today: It seems that almost all I see are white policemen who are brutalizing people of color and protesters. Not surprising, since among all police in the US, less than 15% are women, and over 75% are white. It is dominated by white men. With the recent talk about defunding police, how about cities/counties/municipalities require specific minimum levels of women and people of color in order for police to receive funding, where half the force must be women and half must be people of color. Perhaps approximately 25% women of color and 25% men of color, with 25% white women and 25% white men. This way, white men would be only a quarter of the force, and a minimum of half the force would be women and a minimum of half the force would be people of color. Otherwise, no funding. Until we change the composition of the police force, brutality and racist policies/activities will continue. I certainly trust women and people of color to more humanely and equitably provide policing to all communities. Mind you, we should also move many of the policing activities to social services (domestic disputes, drug usage, homelessness, etc.) that are not policing issues but are better served through social service intervention. Just a thought.

April 26, 2020:

Your car’s gas is near empty, and you’d like to go for a long drive. Question: Do you want to get gas or go on a road trip? Clearly, that’s a ridiculous question - it’s a false dichotomy. You can’t go on a road trip if you don’t first get gas, one action is dependent on the other. The same is true of the false dichotomy we are asked to select: do you want to get the economy moving or stop the spread of the pandemic? That, too, is a ridiculous question. We are a consumer-based economy (70% of our economy is consumer spending), and only when consumers feel confident in their personal lives and their futures do they spend money. That’s why the consumer confidence index is the key leading indicator for economic growth, and it’s down 46% since end of January, 2020, with over 60% of Americans now perceiving both the beginning of a long epidemic and economic recession/depression. If people don’t feel safe, healthy and on comfortable footing, then they spend less. We are seeing among the highest rates of savings, declines in credit card outstandings and loans, and other activities that typically represent a worried populace, making fewer purchases. Simply “letting” people go back to shopping, restaurants, travel, etc. without addressing the underlying issues of consumer anxiety will not ultimately help the economy recover. Dealing with the pandemic in a rational, proactive way with widespread testing, mandatory safety (e.g. masks/distancing/limited indoor activity) and confidence that the federal government is reliably and honestly reporting and handling the situation, and behaving in the best interests of the populace is what is needed FIRST. Otherwise, most people will not simply return to their old spending habits. People are worried about their jobs (with many now unemployed and without any income), declines in sources of income, loss of health insurance, inaccessible childcare, 401k and other retirement income losses, and most importantly, worried that they and their loved ones will get sick and potentially die. Not everyone - there are the crazies on the right who refuse to accept the current dangers - but most Americans are concerned. That is the issue that comes first. Just as you have to get gas before you can start your road trip, the American people need to be assured that the pandemic is under control before they will venture out and resume spending. Donniedeath doesn’t understand (he fails at the most basic economic and business concepts) and his cronies don’t care. So they present this false dichotomy. Don’t buy it; it’s ridiculous (and dangerous).

April 20, 2020:

Last week on FOX News, Sean Hannity asked Dr. Oz (a FOX medical expert) what steps should be taken to restart the economy. Oz replied: "Schools are a very appetizing opportunity… Opening of schools may only cost us 2 to 3% percent in terms of total mortality… [which] might be a trade-off some folks would consider.” And Hannity was okay with that idea. They didn’t give the math, but I will: there are over 76 million children in schools in the U.S. (U.S. Census Bureau). A mortality rate of 2 to 3% would result in 1.5 to 2.3 MILLION deaths among children. Let me repeat, 1.5 to 2.3 MILLION children. And FOX and its GOP base see this as a reasonable “trade-off.” This is the depth of depravity which Donniedeath has brought upon this nation, where GOP supportive newscaster and medical expert (Oz is a surgeon, educated at Harvard and U of Penn!) talk casually about murdering 1.5 to 2.3 MILLION children. Oz later tried to explain and talk it back, but I for one cannot accept any explanation or forgiveness. I'd rather see my stock portfolio go to zero than to kill children. But these people are monsters and this, yes this more than anything else, has to unite us all against the Donniedeath regime. Let me repeat, 1.5 to 2.3 MILLION children are viewed as expendable for economic growth. This is what Nazism looks like. The horror of it all!



Monday, July 27, 2020

Black Votes Matter - Why This Is An Important Part Of The BLM Movement


July 27, 2020 – 4:30 pm ET 
By Rich Weissman, Palm Springs, California (www.richweissman.com)

BACKGROUND
The enslavement of African people was part of our nation’s beginnings, starting in 1619 in Point Comfort, Virginia with the arrival of the first 20 African slaves brought onto the shores of this continent. Indeed, this nation was built on the backbreaking work of enslaved black people for the following 250 years, and many of the nation’s founders and writers of the Declaration of Independence and subsequent U.S. Constitution were themselves slave holders, unwilling to recognize the horrors of slavery and the institutional persecution of black people, and they baked racial inequality into the Constitution. Racism has always played a fundamental role in the nation since its inception. By the 1860 U.S. Census, there were 4 million black slaves in the U.S. just prior to Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, and the passage of the 13th Amendment in 1865 following the end of the Civil War (1861-1865). Eleven southern states initially created the Confederate States of America in 1860 and began the Civil War. The Confederacy existed for less than five years until 1865. And the Confederate (aka rebel) flag was created in 1863 and lasted less than two years. These states declared themselves to be independent of the United States after Lincoln was elected, so as to form a separate nation with highly limited central government and with the institution of black slavery at its core. Although based on centuries of brutal slavery and racism, the Confederacy was defeated in those five years, thus ending hundreds of years of the horrific institution of black slavery in the U.S. The Confederacy itself, and the flag to which it pledged allegiance, represented an ugly and short period in which an enemy of American democracy, rejecting the Constitution, emerged and was vanquished. There is no reason to celebrate it or its flag other than to continue to promote racism and treason. The end of the Confederacy should have marked the beginning of the inclusion of black Americans into the concept of “we the people.”

But, institutionalized and systemic racism did not end with the Civil War and was not, and is not, restricted to the southern states. Slavery may have been abolished, but the disdain and cruelty towards black people immediately exploded following the passage of the 13th Amendment, with the formation of the KKK in 1865 in Tennessee, and years of continued riots of white people against black people, starting with those in New Orleans and Memphis in 1866. The following year, the Jim Crow laws era emerged and lasted 100 years until 1965, where denial of civil rights and horrific acts against black people, including mob lynchings and destruction of black homes and businesses, were the norm. As a part of it, came the destruction and massacre of vibrant black communities throughout the nation, including Greenwood, Tulsa (OK) in 1921 and Rosewood (FL) in 1923, to name just a few. Throughout the U.S., segregation, inferior housing and schools, lynching, redlining and ghettoization, economic subjugation, denial to medical access, political oppression through poll taxes and other forms of denying black people access to vote, and a deep-rooted cultural bias against black people and their ability to be free and equal remained and continues to be a part of the American experience. The modern civil rights movement of the 1960’s pushed the issue front-and-center and moved it forward. We saw black leaders being fire hosed and even murdered, including Medgar Evans (1963), Malcom X (1965) and MLK (1968). We saw children being attacked for going to school, and ordinary people being beaten or killed simply because they wanted black people to be treated not as lowly and dispensable, but as full human beings. And we saw the rise (and ultimate defeat) of Alabama Governor George Wallace as a serious national Democratic and then 3rd party presidential candidate, running on a segregationist platform. Although advances were made, the 1960’s civil rights movement did not eradicate the multi-faceted institutional and systemic racism that remains part of the American psyche. Certainly, a part of the Trumpian display of white supremacy and other racist beliefs are a reaction to having had an educated, eloquent, dignified and admired President Obama. And now, we see the ugly face of racism alive in our culture with the support of the current administration, with the increase in privatization of prisons and federal policing, and in the full support from its enablers in the U.S. Senate and in other government bodies throughout the nation.

As white people, we need to think ... Imagine growing up and being reminded daily that your life is not important to the larger white society. Image being viewed as an object to be used, with no intrinsic human value. As a close black friend said to me, the worst of aIl is being perceived as sub-human, as innately inferior to white people, as an animal or anything but a human being. Imagine how that feels to have white people look at you and not see a human being. And image the anger it engenders each and every day as black people confront a merciless white world that is unable to see or correct its racism at its core.

Imagine being subjected to racism at every turn, often having to live in poverty and inferior housing, attend poorly funded and often segregated schools, offered only menial jobs, and be denied access to so many parts of society that are somehow designated for whites only. And, imagine being disproportionately arrested and imprisoned, facing rigged policing, court and other practices which perpetuate racial inequality, through the racially biased systems of arrest, bail, court-appointed legal support, inequitable sentencing and incarceration, and post-incarceration fees. Imagine having your life or your life’s future extinguished because of a racially biased policing and criminal justice system practices.

And imagine being afraid to walk outside in your neighborhood or in a local park. Imagine being afraid to drive your car or to go shopping in a store. Imagine being afraid of the doorbell as it might mean danger. Imagine being afraid to send your children to school or to worry about your spouse going to work. Imagine living like this every day. Imagine being at the mercy of white people and having to explain it all to your children so that they understand the dangers. I'm not talking about overcoming hardships or difficult circumstances which many people face. I'm talking about being black in America and having to overcome challenges that only black people face, and then living one's life afraid, making each day an anxious and potentially deadly one.

White people like me need to begin to try to comprehend white privilege and black oppression. We'll never experience the oppression; we'll never fully understand it on a visceral basis. But we need to try to empathize and get on board and fight for change, because black lives do matter and black people should not have to live lives unfairly and in fear. No child, no adult should feel that their lives are of lesser value because they are black. And racism is a white problem and we must unequivocally own it.

And we have a profound question to answer. Black people have been raising these issues for decades and decades. We’ve seen the violence; we’ve heard the most horrific stories of the pain the black community suffers. Why have we the white community not listened to the black community and taken these events and issues to heart? What have we been waiting for? So much of white America has been at best indifferent and at worst complicit. For shame. But it’s time for change.

So, what do we do? How does the current environment give us reason to rise up and make a difference?

BLACK LIVES MATTER AND BLACK VOTES MATTER
Fighting police brutality against black people, demanding a complete overhaul of the racist policing and judicial systems, and removing all icons and vestiges of the atrocity of slavery, the Confederacy and the Jim Crow brutality are clearly important. Black Lives Matter is a call to action we all need to hear, embrace and support. It is, at its core, an issue that white people (like me) need to own and correct with honesty, humility and an understanding of history.

But it’s only a start. We need to fight more than systemic and institutionalized racism in the policing and justice systems, and we need to topple more than statues and flags. We also need to topple the foundations of systemic and institutionalized political racism as another component to the BLM movement, and get behind what I now call Black Votes Matter. Until every black person has an equal vote, we will not make serious change in removing racism in the nation. Much of the direction our nation takes is a result of the ballot box, and we need to ensure that black voices are equally heard in every election in the nation.

What does Black Votes Matter mean to me? Three things …

1) Eliminate the electoral college which denies black people equal footing. Let’s be clear, it was created in 1787 and is embedded into our Constitution so as to give greater power to the slave states through the “three-fifths compromise” in which black slaves would be counted as three-fifths of a person for the purpose of allocating representatives and electoral college votes, but would have no rights to vote themselves. Even with the granting of voting rights to black people, the electoral college remains a mechanism by which the former slave states and other often conservative states throughout the nation now retain greater power. They receive disproportionate votes for electing the U.S. President and Vice President. It is a vestige of slavery that needs to be abolished.

2) Eliminate voter suppression which denies black people equal access to the voting booth and end the vestiges of the Jim Crow era. The inability for black people to vote on equal footing minimizes their voting impact in elections, through barriers to register and remain registered, requiring fees and petitioning for those with previous criminal records, inadequate polling locations for black communities, barriers to vote-by-mail, barriers for expanded voting periods and other insidious tools utilized by those who wish to suppress black votes.

3) Eliminate gerrymandering which, among other goals, disempowers and disenfranchises black people through racially designed districts to diminish black representation. Gerrymandering is a pernicious method of creating districts that often disproportionately takes power away from black communities. Mind you, it has been used for a host of other reasons to provide the majority party with greater power, and it must end, particularly because it devalues the power of the black vote.

These three structural forms of political racism must be toppled along with ending the racist police and judicial activities, and the racist icons of slavery and the Jim Crow era. If black votes are worth less than white votes, then we are not a democracy and we cannot effectuate true change. To fight racism at its core, we need to embrace Black Votes Matter and fight for changes in these three destructive forms of systemic and institutionalized racism, and I’m starting to think that America may be on the cusp of being ready to finally face the inequality in our political system and ready to fight for genuine equal voting rights. Black America deserves to have these racially and deceitfully designed activities put into the history books so that black Americans can become equal participants in the political process.

Here’s how we start …

1) Ensure that Trump and the GOP are soundly defeated in November. This is a beginning point to allow for the start of Black Votes Matter. We need an administration, Congress and other government bodies throughout the nation to reject Trumpism and its basis in white supremacy. We need to work hard and financially support Biden and Democratic candidates at all levels and not assume that it will be an easy election.

2) Fight against voter suppression and support the organization that Stacey Abrams has put in place to work towards ending voter suppression (fairfight.com). We must ensure that black people have equal opportunity to vote, and Abrams is on the right track, taking the lead on this critical issue. We must support her organization’s efforts.

3) Start a serious effort towards the elimination of gerrymandering and the electoral college (which will be difficult and require a change to the Constitution) once Biden is in office.  These two vestiges of slavery and racism need to end, and we must make Black Votes Matter a top priority in the new administration and Congress.

Black Lives Matter isn’t just a slogan. It’s not simply a social media posting. It’s a call to action, and we need to act and include Black Votes Matter as an important component. Why? Because America cannot be a free nation without the 43 million black Americans having equal freedoms, and not until every black vote equally counts. It’s important that we fight all forms of racism, including justice system, economic, housing, education, employment, healthcare and other avenues of systemic and institutionalized racism. Black Lives Matter and Black Votes Matter has handed white America a long list of issues to tackle and we must be prepared to take them on. No excuses.