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Archive for October, 2020|Monthly archive page

TRUST MUST BE EARNED, NOT COMMANDED

In Bureaucracy, History, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on October 30, 2020 at 12:17 am

“He’s got a very good approval rating,” President Donald Trump said of Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top expert on infectious disease, during a July 28 White House press briefing on the Coronavirus pandemic.

“And I like that, it’s good, because remember, he’s working for this administration. And he’s got this high approval rating,.

“So why don’t I have a high approval rating with respect—and the administration, with respect to the virus? Nobody likes me. It can only be my personality, that’s all.”

He made the remark on the same day that Coronavirus deaths in America reached 150,000.

The previous day, Trump had retweeted Twitter posts that accused Fauci, a member of the White House Coronavirus task force, of misleading Americans.

For months, Trump has been trying to sell the nation on the COVID-curing wonders of hyroxychloroquine, the malaria drug. He seems to be sold on the drug’s effectiveness by such members of his inner circle as trade adviser Peter Navarro and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani—neither of whom has ever practiced medicine.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has pointed out there have been no scientific trials of the drug for its effectiveness against Coronavirus. Given the medical condition of some patients, it could even prove fatal.

Green Bay Packers: While Dr. Anthony Fauci expresses concerns, NFL ...

Anthony Fauci

He has also subscribed to theories stemming from medical quackery—such as his belief that injecting disinfectant could prevent or cure the virus.

During his July 28 press conference, Trump refused to answer a question from CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins about a video Trump had shared on Twitter—and which Twitter subsequently removed.

In the video, Stella Immanuel, a Houston doctor, praised hydroxychloroquine as a cure for COVID-19 and maligned the wearing of face masks to prevent the spread of the pandemic. She has often claimed that gynecological problems like cysts and endometriosis are caused by people having sex in their dreams with demons and witches.

“Mr. President, the woman that you said was a ‘great doctor’ in that video that you retweeted last night said that ‘masks don’t work’ and there is a cure for COVID-19, both of which health experts say is not true,” said Collins.

“She’s also made videos saying that doctors make medicine using DNA from aliens and that they are trying to create a vaccine to make you immune from becoming religious—”

Image result for Public domain images of Donald Trump

Donald Trump

Trump cut her off: “I don’t know which country she comes from, but she said that she’s had tremendous success with hundreds of different patients. And I thought her voice was an important voice, but I know nothing about her.”

He then stalked out of the briefing room.

This has been one of his routine responses when confronted with unpleasant truths that contradict his lies or crackpot theories.  The other one is to label such truths as “fake news.”

Since COVID-19 struck the United States in January, Fauci has dared to speak the hard truth about the pandemic—and the Federal Government’s failure to combat it.

Trump, on the other hand, has offered a cascade of lies, ignorance and rosy predictions that “one day it will be gone.”

The result: Fauci enjoys high approval ratings from public polls on his efforts against the pandemic. Nearly two-thirds of the country has faith in Fauci, said a July Quinnipac poll.

Just over one-third of voters approve of Trump’s handling of the virus, that poll showed. 

A reason for Trump’s unpopularity: He has shown no sympathy for those who have died or lost loved ones to COVID-19. 

Leaders with a high Emotional Quotient:

  • Understand their own emotions, strengths and weaknesses;
  • Control their emotions and consistently act with honesty and integrity;
  • Have empathy for others;. and
  • Inspire enthusiasm and solve disagreements, often with kindness and humor.

In responding to the Coronavirus pandemic, Trump has shown none of these traits.

Contrast Trump’s egotistical, deceptive, anti-scientific and often dictatorial behavior with that of Fauci—and it’s clear why Fauci is far more trusted.

In 1946, Albert Speer, Adolf Hitler’s architect and minister of armaments, was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment for war crimes.

Albert Speer

Albert Speer

In Albert Speer: His Batle With Truth, Gitty Sereny wrote: “This was an erudite and solitary man who, recognizing his deficiencies in human relations, had read 5,000 books in prison to try to understand the universe and human beings….Empathy is finally a gift, and cannot be learned. So, essentially returning into the world after 20 years, he remained alone.”

Sereny’s words apply equally to Donald Trump: Empathy is finally a gift, and cannot be learned.

One day during his Presidency, Lyndon Johnson—notorious for bullying others—was forced to confront his own repulsiveness as a human being.

“I’ve passed far more legislation than [President John F.] Kennedy ever did,” he complained to former Secretary of State Dean Acheson. “But people still love him, and they don’t love me. Why is that?”

“You are not a very likable man,” said Acheson.

Approaching four years into his own Presidency, there is no evidence that anyone has dared speak that truth to Trump.

It’s a truth that he deserves to hear—and in as public a forum as possible.

FROM YOUR FRIENDS ON THE RIGHT: PART FOUR (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on October 29, 2020 at 12:12 am

From the beginning of his Presidency, Donald Trump has shown no interest in combating Right-wing terrorism.

“The President always wants to pick a side, and he wants to pick the side that supports him,” said Miles Taylor, a former Homeland Security official in Trump’s administration. “But Donald Trump has created, in my opinion, the favorable conditions that have allowed these domestic terrorist groups to rise.

“The White House wanted to cover its eyes and wanted to cover its ears when it heard about domestic terrorism because they didn’t want to pay attention to the Right-wing extremists that they saw as a potential base of support.

“As a consequence, the President’s rhetoric has served as a loaded gun for those groups who have since taken his words as sort of permission to do what they’re doing.”

In April, thousands of Right-wingers gathered at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing to protest Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders shutting down most of the state. Many of them wore MAGA hats, waved Trump flags and/or brandished AK-47s and other semiautomatic weapons.

Trump and protesters pressure governors to start reopening the states

Trump-inspired Michigan protest

Some chanted “Lock her up!”-–echoing Trump’s call for the imprisonment of his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton during the 2016 Presidential campaign.

The protest was organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition, a group founded by a pro-Trump state representative and his wife, Meshawn Maddock, who is on the advisory board for an official Trump campaign group called “Women for Trump” and is also the co-founder of Michigan Trump Republicans.

Another group that promoted the event, the Michigan Freedom Fund, is run by Greg McNeilly, a longtime political adviser to the DeVos family, who are prolific Republican donors and have funded conservative causes across the state for decades.

McNeilly was campaign manager for Dick DeVos, the husband of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, during his failed bid for governor in 2006.

Asked about the protesters, Trump said: “They’re suffering. They want to get back.” He dismissed the health risks of ignoring state orders and potentially exposing themselves to the virus.

“I think they’re listening. I think they listen to me,” he said. “They seem to be protesters that like me and respect this opinion, and my opinion’s the same as just about all of the governors. Nobody wants to stay shut.”

One such protester was Melissa Ackison, the conservative Ohio state Senate candidate.

“It enrages something inside of you,” said Ackison of the stay-at-home orders issued by her own governor, Republican Mike DeWine. She has “no fear whatsoever” of contracting the virus, dismissing it as hype.

“As patriots, we put President Trump in office for a reason,” she said. “If he’s not able to give a convincing enough argument to these governors that they need to open up, then he needs to do something to take action.”

In short: This “states’ rights” maven would be fine if Trump forced governors to bring the states back on line.

Party foul: Local pastor running for state rep sued by state senate candidate

Melissa Ackison

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urged Americans to wear masks and keep at least six feet from their fellows. And most of the nation’s governors issued stay-at-home orders that banned large gatherings—including visits to parks and beaches.

Yet President Donald Trump openly encouraged defiance of those orders. On April 17 he issued a series of tweets to his supporters:

“LIBERATE MINNESOTA!”

“LIBERATE MICHIGAN!”

“LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!”

All these states have Democratic governors—and had been targeted for Right-wing protests. Large numbers of men and women stood closely together, with most of them not wearing masks. They claimed their “freedoms” were being infringed upon.

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Donald Trump

On May 1, Trump tweeted in support of the Michigan demonstrators. Just as German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler blamed his opponents for the violence he stoked, so did Trump. Aiming his tweet at Whitmer, he wrote: “These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely!  See them, talk to them, make a deal.”

In May, the protests at the Capitol continued, featuring signs with swastikas, Confederate flags and demonstrators who advocated for violence against Whitmer.

Also in May, a man was charged with threatening to kill Governor Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Referring to government-ordered closures and social distancing measures, Homeland Security analysts recently warned: “Anti-government groups and anti-authority extremists could be motivated to conduct attacks in response to perceived infringement of liberties and government overreach.”

Polling places or voter registration events were “likely flash points for potential violence,” warned the analysts, adding that Right-wing extremists “have heightened their attention” to the election.

Election administrators throughout the United States are taking steps to prepare, with some directing staff to undergo training sessions on extremist group tactics and even preparing poll workers for the possibility of someone showing up armed.

Anticipating the worst, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced on October 16 that residents will not be allowed to open-carry firearms “in a polling place, in any hallway used by voters to enter or exit, or within 100 feet of any entrance to a building in which a polling place is located.”

FROM YOUR FRIENDS ON THE RIGHT: PART THREE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on October 28, 2020 at 12:05 am

On October 8, 13 Right-wing men were charged with plotting to kidnap Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

At a press conference where the arrests were announced, Whitmer said: “Just last week, the president of the United States stood before the American people and refused to condemn white supremacists and hate groups like these two Michigan militia groups.

“When our leaders speak, their words matter. They carry weight. When our leaders meet with, encourage or fraternize with domestic terrorists, they legitimize their actions. And they are complicit.”

13 charged in plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Gretchen Whitmer

Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller attacked Whitmer for calling out the President.

“But why Governor Whitmer would go and start attacking President Trump, this is just—people can see right through it. They can see that Governor Whitmer is a complete phony and it is just disgusting that she would take a moment of unity to attack the President.”

In a CNN interview on October 8, Whitmer said: “You know, the fact that after a plot to kidnap and to kill me, this is what they come out with. They start attacking me, as opposed to what good, decent people would do, [which] is to check in and say, ‘Are you OK?’”

Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden telephoned her immediately after the announcement of the failed plot.

“I think that tells you everything that’s at stake in this election,” Whitmer said. “It tells you everything you need to know about the character of the two people on this ballot that we have to choose from in a few weeks.” 

Sleepy Joe : punchableface

 Joe Biden

Later on October 8—the date of the FBI arrests—Trump again attacked Whitmer in a series of tweets.

He falsely claimed she had called him a “White Supremacist” in her remarks earlier that day. And he whined that she did not thank him for saving her.

“Governor Whitmer of Michigan has done a terrible job,” tweeted Trump. “She locked down her state for everyone, except her husband’s boating activities.”

In another tweet, he demanded: “Open up your state, open up your schools, and open up your churches!”

Whitmer responded: “We know every time that this White House identifies me or takes a shot at me, we see an increase in rhetoric online, violent rhetoric, and so there’s always a connection and certainly it’s something that we’ve been watching. But this took it to a whole new level.

“I have raised this very issue with this White House and asked them to bring the heat down. I have asked leaders, Republican leaders in the state—let’s bring the heat down.”

Washington Governor Jay Inslee squarely blamed Trump as responsible for the latest threat to Whitmer: “It is very unfortunate that she has been troubled not just directly by these threats, but a constant barrage of, frankly, incendiary criticism from the president, and I think that’s been very unfortunate.” 

“This shocking development is the most disturbing of the increasingly violent threats being made against Democratic governors by some of the most extreme and violent fringes of the Right,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.

“Unless and until President Trump openly denounces such Right-wing extremism, groups like the Michigan Militia will continue to act as if they hold a permission slip from him to openly engage in such terrorist plots.”

On October 18, at a Trump campaign rally in Muskegon, Michigan, the crowd chanted “Lock her up!” against Whitmer.  Trump smiled, chuckled and said, “Lock them all up.”

“It’s incredibly disturbing that the president of the United States, 10 days after a plot to kidnap, put me on trial and execute me—10 days after that was uncovered—the President is at it again and inspiring and incentivizing and inciting this kind of domestic terrorism,” Whitmer said on NBC’s Meet the Press.

Not only has Trump refused to show any compassion for Whitmer, he has shown a total indifference to prosecuting her would-be kidnappers—or in combating Right-wing terrorism.

He blames rising crime rates on Black Lives Matter protesters and blacks who have looted and burned stores during nationwide protests against police brutality. And he claims that only he can save America from a civil war ignited by such protesters.

“Anarchy has recently beset some of our states and cities. My administration will not allow federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones,” Trump claimed on September 2.

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Donald Trump

But he has shown no interest in combating Right-wing terrorism, despite warnings from the FBI, Congress and groups such as the Anti-Defamation League that track extremism. White House officials have tried to suppress use of the phrase “domestic terrorism” altogether.

Trump defended a caravan of his supporters who drove into Portland, Oregon, and fired paintball guns at Black Lives Matter protesters, calling them “peaceful protesters” and claiming they were using paintballs as “a defensive mechanism.”

And he has defended Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old accused of fatally shooting two people during another Black Lives Matters protest: “He was trying to get away from them, I guess, it looks like. I guess he was in very big trouble. He probably would have been killed.”

FROM YOUR FRIENDS ON THE RIGHT: PART TWO (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on October 27, 2020 at 12:37 am

The FBI learned of the plot to kidnap Democratic Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in early 2020 through a social media group of individuals, according to a federal criminal complaint.

Needing reinforcements, one of the conspirators, Adam Fox, contacted a Michigan-based militia group.

”…Fox said he needed ‘200 men’ to storm the Capitol building in Lansing and take hostages, including Whitmer, said the criminal complaint.

Fox said they would kidnap and try Whitmer for “treason” before the November 2020 elections.

The verdict could only have been death.

On June 20, the conspirators met at Fox’s business in Grand Rapids. To ensure security, they entered the basement through a trap door hidden under a rug on the main floor. Attendees turned over their cell phones, which were brought upstairs to “prevent any monitoring.

Yet monitored they were—by an FBI informant among them.

FBI agent injured in fatal Dexter crash - mlive.com

The attendees discussed plans for assaulting the Michigan State Capitol, countering law enforcement first responders, and using ‘Molotov cocktails’ to destroy police vehicles.

They planned to meet again during the first weekend of July and conduct firearms and tactical training.

In a video Fox live-streamed to a private Facebook group, he complained about the judicial system and the state of Michigan controlling the opening of gyms.

Fox referred to Whitmer as “this tyrant bitch. I don’t know, boys, we gotta do something. You guys link with me on our other location system, give me some ideas of what we can do.”

The FBI monitored the kidnapping plot throughout the summer as the target narrowed to the governor’s personal vacation home.

During one meeting, Fox said: “Snatch and grab, man. Grab the fuckin’ Governor. Just grab the bitch. Because at that point, we do that, dude—it’s over.” 

“Have one person go to her house. Knock on the door and when she answers it just cap [shoot] her,” one of the men said in an encrypted group chat.

Bond unlikely for suspects in Whitmer kidnapping case

Right-wing suspects in Whitmer kidnapping plot

The group spoke of a “baker” and a “cake,” which FBI agents interpreted as code words referring to explosive devices.

“I just wanna make the world glow, dude,” the affidavit quoted Adan Fox as saying in a profanity-laced tirade. “We’re gonna topple it all, dude”

The plotters surveilled Whitmer’s vacation home on two occasions in late August and September. Barry Croft and Fox discussed detonating explosive devices to divert police from the vacation home area.

In early October, Fox told others in the group that he had bought a taser for use in the kidnapping plot.

Fox, Ty Garbin, Daniel Harris and Kaleb Franks planned to meet on October 6 to pay for explosives and swap tactical gear.

But the FBI moved in first.

At least seven FBI field offices around the country took part, owing to the complexity of the operation and the likelihood the suspects could be armed and dangerous.

Agents were dispatched to execute search or arrests warrants at approximately a dozen sites. Arrest details included SWAT agents, technical exploitation personnel and evidence technicians.

Immediately after the FBI learned of the threat to Whitmer, its agents alerted her security detail. As a result, security around the governor was greatly tightened. The FBI continued to update the governor’s security detail on the investigation’s progress.

At a press conference on October 8, Whitmer stated:

“When I put my hand on the Bible and took the oath of office 22 months ago, I knew this job would be hard. But I’ll be honest, I never could have imagined anything like this.”

US Marines charged in alleged kidnapping plot against Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer - ABC7 Chicago

Gretchen Whitmer

A week earlier, on September 29, President Donald Trump had faced off with his Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, in the first of three scheduled Presidential debates.

When Trump refused to condemn white supremacists, moderator Chris Wallace challenged him to do so.

“What do you want me to call them?” asked Trump. “Give me a name.”

Biden suggested the Proud Boys, a violent Right-wing group.

Trump’s response: “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the Left, because this is not a Right-wing problem.”

Now, referencing Trump’s shout-out to the Proud Boys, Whitmer condemned the President’s action:

“Just last week, the president of the United States stood before the American people and refused to condemn white supremacists and hate groups like these two Michigan militia groups.

“When our leaders speak, their words matter. They carry weight. When our leaders meet with, encourage or fraternize with domestic terrorists, they legitimize their actions. And they are complicit.”

But Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller attacked Whitmer for calling out the President.

“We’re all united standing against anyone who would conspire to cause such hatred and violence. And there is no place for that in American society in any way, shape, or form,” he said on Fox News.

“But why Gov. Whitmer would go and start attacking President Trump, this is just—people can see right through it. They can see that Governor Whitmer is a complete phony and it is just disgusting that she would take a moment of unity to attack the President.”

FROM YOUR FRIENDS ON THE RIGHT: PART ONE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on October 26, 2020 at 12:12 am

Donald Trump rode a wave of pure hatred into the White House. 

Trump had three major goals when he sought the Presidency:

  1. Obtain nearly absolute power;
  2. Obtain constant publicity; and
  3. Enrich himself even further. 

And he knew what his future constituents craved.

An August 30, 2017, article in Salon examined the base that Trump had appealed to—and captured. And it examined why that base supported him so fanatically: “Most Americans Strongly Dislike Trump, But the Angry Minority That Adores Him Controls Our Politics.”

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Donald Trump

It described these voters as representing about one-third of the Republican party:

“These are older and more conservative white people, for the most part, who believe he should not listen to other Republicans and should follow his own instincts….

“They like Trump’s coarse personality, and approve of the fact that he treats women like his personal playthings. They enjoy it when he expresses sympathy for neo-Nazis and neo-Confederate white supremacists.

“They cheer when he declares his love for torture, tells the police to rough up suspects and vows to mandate the death penalty for certain crimes. (Which of course the president cannot do.)

“…This cohort of the Republican party didn’t vote for Trump because of his supposed policies on trade or his threat to withdraw from NATO. They voted for him because he said out loud what they were thinking. A petty, sophomoric, crude bully is apparently what they want as a leader.”

Image result for Images of people giving the "Sieg heil" salute to Trump

Supporters giving the Nazi “Sieg Heil” salute to Trump

“President Trump and his supporters find community by rejoicing in the suffering of those they hate and fear,” read the theme of an October 3, 2018 story in The Atlantic: “The Cruelty Is the Point.”  

“The cruelty of the Trump administration’s policies, and the ritual rhetorical flaying of his targets before his supporters, are intimately connected,” wrote Adam Serwer. 

“We can hear the spectacle of cruel laughter throughout the Trump era. There were the border-patrol agents cracking up at the crying immigrant children separated from their families, and the Trump adviser who delighted white supremacists when he mocked a child with Down syndrome who was separated from her mother.

“There were the police who laughed uproariously when the president encouraged them to abuse suspects, and the Fox News hosts mocking a survivor of the Pulse Nightclub massacre (and in the process inundating him with threats), the survivors of sexual assault protesting to Senator Jeff Flake, the women who said the president had sexually assaulted them and the teen survivors of the Parkland school shooting.

“There was the president mocking Puerto Rican accents shortly after thousands were killed and tens of thousands displaced by Hurricane Maria, the black athletes protesting unjustified killings by the police, the women of the #MeToo movement who have come forward with stories of sexual abuse, and the disabled reporter whose crime was reporting on Trump truthfully.

“It is not just that the perpetrators of this cruelty enjoy it; it is that they enjoy it with one another. Their shared laughter at the suffering of others is an adhesive that binds them to one another, and to Trump.”

So it was inevitable that, on October 8, 13 men were charged with plotting to kidnap Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer. 

Whitmer had become a major target of Trump in March, when she tried to obtain urgently-needed medical supplies for Michigan hospitals coping with a flood of Coronavirus cases.

On March 27, Whitmer told a Michigan radio station: “What I’ve gotten back is that vendors with whom we’ve procured contracts—they’re being told not to send stuff to Michigan. It’s really concerning. I reached out to the White House last night and asked for a phone call with the president, ironically at the time” Trump was attacking her on Fox News for being “ungrateful.”

Six of the would-be kidnappers were charged federally with conspiracy to kidnap. Seven others associated with the militia group “Wolverine Watchmen,” were charged by the state. 

The scheme included plans to overthrow several state governments that the suspects “believe are violating the US Constitution,” including the government of Michigan, according to a federal criminal complaint.

Their chief grievance: Whitmer’s stay-at-home order to control the fast-moving spread of Coronavirus throughout Michigan. By no small coincidence, that happened to be the theme of Trump’s attacks on her.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (cropped).jpg

Gretchen Whitmer

Julia Pickett / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

The six charged by the federal government are Michigan residents Adam Fox, 37, Ty Garbin, 24, Kaleb Franks, 26, Daniel Harris, 23, Brandon Caserta, 32, and Delaware resident Barry Croft, 44.

The seven men charged by the state are Paul Bellar, 21, Shawn Fix, 38, Eric Molitor, 36, Michael Null, 38, William Null, 38, Pete Musico, 42, Joseph Morrison, 42.

They face a variety of firearm and terror charges. 

The FBI learned of the plot in early 2020 through a social media group of individuals, according to the federal criminal complaint.

The FBI persuaded a confidential informant to travel to Dublin, Ohio, on June 6 for a meeting with Croft, Fox and about 13 others.

“They discussed different ways of achieving this goal from peaceful endeavors to violent actions….Several members talked about murdering ‘tyrants’ or ‘taking’ a sitting governor,” according to the complaint. 

THE LIVES OF CHICKENS–AND COVID VICTIMS

In Bureaucracy, History, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on October 23, 2020 at 12:07 am

It was the night of March 5, 1836. For the roughly 200 men inside the surrounded Alamo, death lay only hours away. 

Inside a house in San Antonio, Texas, Mexican dictator Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was holding a council of war with his generals.

For 12 days, his army had bombarded the old mission. Still, the Texians—whose numbers included the legendary bear hunter and Congressman David Crockett and knife fighter James Bowie—held out.

Now Santa Anna was in a hurry to take the makeshift fortress. Once its defenders were dead, he could march on to sweep all American settlers from Texas.

One of his generals, Manuel Castrillón, urged Santa Anna to wait just a few more days. By then, far bigger cannon would be available. When the Alamo’s three-feet-thick walls had been knocked down, the defenders would be forced to surrender.

The lives of countless Mexican soldiers would thus be spared.

Santa Anna was eating a late-night chicken dinner. He held up a chicken leg and said: “What are the lives of soldiers but those of so many chickens?”

Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna

Santa Anna ordered his generals to prepare an all-out attack on the Alamo, to be launched the next morning—March 6, 1836—at 5 a.m.

Hours later, the attack went forward. Within 90 minutes, every Alamo defender was dead—and so were at least 600 Mexican soldiers. 

“What are the lives of Americans but those of so many chickens?”

That could well be the slogan of President Donald Trump in his approach to COVID-19. 

The United States has become the country worst-affected by Coronavirus—with more than 8.38 million diagnosed cases and more than 222,000 deaths. 

SARS-CoV-2 without background.png

Coronavirus

Americans are living through their tenth month with the virus, and still the Trump administration cannot—or will not—design a coordinated plan to combat it.

Trump started out 2020 by dismissing COVID-19 as a threat. On January 22 he said: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China.”

By February 28, he had termed the disease the Democrats’ “new hoax.”

By March, he was making it clear that each state was responsible for securing its needed supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for its doctors and nurses aiding Coronavirus patients.

This has resulted in a dog-eat-dog atmosphere of cutthroat competition and scarcity, with Americans not only fighting the virus but each other.

Even worse: Trump didn’t simply refuse to provide states with vitally-needed medical supplies—he ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to illegally seize those supplies that states had ordered.

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Donald Trump

When states’ governors issued stay-at-home orders, Trump was forced to cancel his campaign rallies. Starting Easter weekend, he held almost 50 daily press briefings at the White House.

Their official purpose: To update the country on the administration’s ongoing response to the Coronavirus pandemic. Their real purpose: To serve as a substitute for Trump’s hate-filled political rallies, which have been likened to those staged by Germany’s Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, at Nuremberg. 

Eager to return to his mass rallies and reignite his support from Right-wingers, he began furiously campaigning to end social distancing and the wearing of masks. Both of these had been mandated by such governors as California’s Gavin Newsom and New York’s Andrew Cuomo.

He also demanded the reopening of businesses across the nation—although no vaccine nor even adequate testing and contact-tracing facilities existed. This led many states—especially in the South and Midwest—to reopen prematurely, with a resulting rise in COVID infections and deaths.

He urged his Right-wing supporters to flood into the capitols of such states as Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia—whose governors were Democrats—and demand an end to mask-wearing and social distancing. This was in direct defiance of the laws legally in force in those states.

And they did as he ordered—massing shoulder-to-shoulder, most of them not wearing masks, and with many of them carrying automatic rifles.

On April 23, at a White House press briefing, he suggested that UV light and disinfectant—such as Clorox—might prove an effective preventative or cure for Coronavirus. This prompted alarm from medical professionals—even as some Americans believed him and swallowed disinfectant to prevent COVID-19.

Unable—or unwilling—to effectively attack the virus, Trump chose to attack the medical professionals desperately trying to save lives. He accused them of hoarding scarce medical supplies and lying about the number of COVID cases they were treating.

As fall approached, Trump demanded that Americans risk the lives of their children by sending them back to school. This would allow their parents to return to work. Then Trump could claim that he had “saved” the American economy—and be re-elected.

His chief target: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. There were two reasons for this:

  1. Fauci repeatedly warned about the dangers of the virus—and criticized the failures of the Federal Government to effectively combat it; and
  2. His warnings repeatedly proved correct—while Trump’s rosy predictions proved wrong.

Finally, Trump wants Americans to simply ignore the virus—and re-elect him.

With about 910 Americans dying every day from COVID-19, neither of these seems likely.

WHEN HOAX MEETS HOSPITAL

In Bureaucracy, History, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on October 22, 2020 at 12:06 am

Well, come on all of you Right-wing men
Donald Trump needs your help again.
He’s got himself in a terrible jam
He’s spread a virus throughout the land.
So throw off those masks, give a big cheer
Your Coronavirus-in-Chief is here!

“I think I made a mistake. I thought this was a hoax, but it’s not.”

So spoke a 30-year-old patient who died at Methodist Hospital in San Antonio, Texas. His last words came after attending a so-called “COVID party,” according to the hospital.

Methodist Hospital announced today that... - Methodist Healthcare ...

Methodist Hospital

According to Dr. Jane Appleby, chief medical officer for Methodist Hospital and Methodist Children’s Hospital: “Someone will be diagnosed with the disease, and they’ll have a party to invite their friends over to see if they can beat the disease.

“One of the things that was heart-wrenching that he said to his nurse was, ‘You know, I think I made a mistake.’ And this young man went to a COVID party.. He didn’t really believe. He thought the disease was a hoax. He thought he was young and invincible and wouldn’t get affected by the disease.”

And it’s one-two-three
What are they dyin’ for?
Don’t ask em’, they don’t give a damn
Right here in COVID-land.
And it’s five-six-seven
Open up those graveyard gates
Well, there ain’t no time to wonder why
Whoopee! They’re all going to die.

It’s understandable that this patient believed COVID-19 was a hoax. He was, after all, from Texas, which overwhelmingly gave its votes to Donald J. Trump in 2016.

And it was President Trump who infamously said, on February 28: “Now the Democrats are politicizing the Coronavirus….We did one of the great jobs….One of my people came up to me and said, ‘Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia’….They couldn’t do it. They tried the impeachment hoax….It’s all turning, they lost….And this is their new hoax.”

“Hoax” is one of Trump’s favorite words. 

He called the well-documented ties between Russian Intelligence agents and his 2016 Presidential campaign “a hoax.”

Ditto for the efforts of the House of Representatives to remove him for trying to extort Ukraine into smearing former Vice President Joe Biden: “The impeachment hoax.” 

Climate change, for Trump, is “an expensive hoax.” 

Image result for Public domain images of Donald Trump

Donald Trump

“Trump is trying to undermine the trustworthiness of any source but himself,” said Margaret Levi, professor of political science at Stanford University. “The point is to make himself the only credible authority, to be fully trusted as a ‘war-time’ president.”  

Well, grifters and traitors throughout the land
Pack yourselves off to COVID-land.
Don’t be shy, don’t hesitate
Satan is ready, so don’t make ‘em wait.
Just be glad that Donald Trump’s your man
As you’re dyin’ off as fast as you can.

By July 11, there were 8,332 new confirmed Coronavirus cases in Texas, according to a New York Times database. More than 886,000 cases and more than 17,739 deaths have been recorded in Texas so far.

Nationwide, COVID-19 has infected 8.7 million Americans and killed 222,000.

Yet for those attending the Coronavirus party, such facts meant nothing compared to the assurances of Donald Trump—a proven serial liar—that there was nothing to fear.

“People will come in[to the hospital] initially, and they don’t look so bad,” said Appleby. “They don’t look really sick. But when you check their oxygen levels and their lab tests, they’re really sicker than they appear on the surface.” 

Among the COVID-19 danger signs to look for, advised Appleby: If you’re not feeling well, have a high fever, cough and severe muscle aches.

Well, come on Republicans, let’s move fast,
Your big chance is here at last.
It doesn’t matter that Trump is Red
As he walks on the bodies of Americans dead.
Just be sure Vlad Putin knows your name
Treason’s just a part of your game.
 

Meanwhile, Trump is trying to discredit Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease expert.

The reason: Fauci has not hesitated to warn about the dangers of COVID-19—and the failures of the Federal Government to effectively control it.

Green Bay Packers: While Dr. Anthony Fauci expresses concerns, NFL ...

Anthony Fauci

Trump sees the virus not as a danger to Americans but to his chances for re-election. Among his “efforts” to “deal” with it:

  • Denying the dangers of the virus
  • Lying about the extent of its spread
  • Pitting states against each other for scarce medical supplies
  • Seizing medical supplies ordered by states
  • Demanding an end to governors’ “stay-at-home” orders so the country can “reopen”—before proper safeguards can be installed.

For tyrants, truth is always the most dangerous enemy.

As World War II went increasingly against Nazi Germany, those who dared to say “The war is lost” were strung up with piano wire—often on lamp posts, as a warning to others.

Trump would clearly like to employ the same “solution” to those who dare to disagree with him.

And it’s one-two-three
What are they dyin’ for?
Don’t ask em’, they don’t give a damn
Right here in COVID-land.
And it’s five-six-seven
Open up those graveyard gates
Well, there ain’t no time to wonder why
Whoopee! They’re all going to die.

“STAND BACK AND STAND BY”—FOR A KIDNAPPING: PART THREE (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on October 21, 2020 at 12:26 am

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer was born on August 23, 1971. She earned a BA degree in Communications from Michigan State University in 1993 and a Juris Doctor from Detroit College of Law at Michigan State University in 1998.

In 2000, she ran for the Michigan House of Representatives and was elected to represent the 23rd legislative district. She was reelected in 2002 and 2004. In March, 2006, Whitmer won a special election to the Michigan State Senate. She was elected to a full term in November, and reelected in 2010. Owing to term limits, she couldn’t run for reelection in 2014 and left office in 2015.

On June 21, 2016, judges of Michigan’s 30th Judicial Circuit Court unanimously selected Whtmer as Ingham County Prosecutor. Outgoing prosecutor Stuart Dunnings had been arrested on March 14, 2016, and charged with 11 counts of involvement with a prostitute. Whitmer served the remaining six months of his term, which expired in December, 2016.

On November 6, 2018, Whtmer was elected to a four-year term as Governor of Michigan. 

Standing five-feet-eight-inches tall and with a slender physique, Whitmer bears a striking resemblance to Bridget Moynahan, who plays District Attorney Erin Reagan on the CBS police drama, “Blue Bloods.”

Governor Whitmer Headshot

Gretchen Whitmer

She has two daughters from her first marriage. In 2011, she married dentist Marc P. Mallory, who has three children from his own previous marriage. They live in East Lansing, Michigan, with their children. 

From the moment Whitmer issued her stay-at-home order to stem the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan, she became a target for President Donald Trump.

On September 29, Trump faced off with his Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, in the first of three scheduled Presidential debates.

When Trump refused to condemn white supremacists, moderator Chris Wallace challenged him to do so. 

“What do you want me to call them?” asked Trump. “Give me a name.”

Biden suggested the Proud Boys, a violent Right-wing group.

Trump’s response: “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the Left, because this is not a Right-wing problem.” 

President Trump's Proud Boys comments stir up Kalamazoo residents | WWMT

Donald Trump

On October 8, 13 Right-wingers were charged in a terrorism plot to kidnap Whtmer. The terrorists intended to overthrow several state governments that they “believe are violating the US Constitution,” including the government of Michigan, according to a federal criminal complaint.

Interviewed on TV that afternoon, Whitmer said: “I knew this job would be hard, but I’ll be honest, I never could’ve imagined anything like this.

“Just last week, the President of the United States stood before the American people and refused to condemn white supremacists and hate groups like these two Michigan militia groups.

“‘Stand back and stand by,’ he told them….Hate groups heard the President’s words not as a rebuke, but as a rallying cry, as a call to action. When our leaders speak, their words matter. They carry weight.” 

Trump’s response to the kidnapping plot swiftly followed: “Governor Whitmer of Michigan has done a terrible job,” he tweeted. “She locked down her state for everyone, except her husband’s boating activities.”

Trump claimed credit for the arrests: It was “my Justice Department” that foiled the kidnapping. The credit actually belongs to the Michigan Justice Department, the FBI which Trump is attacking, and local police.

In an interview on CNN on October 8, Whitmer said: “You know, the fact that after a plot to kidnap and to kill me, this is what they come out with. They start attacking me, as opposed to what good, decent people would do, [which] is to check in and say, ‘Are you OK?’”

Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden telephoned her immediately after the announcement of the failed plot. “I think that tells you everything that’s at stake in this election,” Whitmer said. “It tells you everything you need to know about the character of the two people on this ballot that we have to choose from in a few weeks.”

Joe Biden's Next Big Decision: Choosing A Running Mate | Voice of America - English

Joe Biden

The plot had been known to the FBI for months. The agency arranged for a confidential informant to travel to Dublin, Ohio, on June 6 for a meeting with about 15 of the conspirators.

“Several members talked about murdering ‘tyrants’ or ‘taking’ a sitting governor,” according to the federal criminal complaint.

In several recorded conversations, plotter Adam Fox said he needed “200 men” to storm the Capitol building in Lansing and take hostages, including Whitmer. He explained they would try the governor of Michigan for “treason” and would execute the plan before the November 2020 elections. 

Immediately after discovering the plot, the FBI warned the governor’s security detail. Whitmer’s security was greatly tightened. 

In April, Right-wing protesters had rallied at the state Capitol, gridlocking the streets and demanding that Whitmer lift her stay-at-home order. Armed demonstrators entered the state capitol—where it is legal to openly carry firearms—and demanded an end to Michigan’s state of emergency.

Having learned from this near-tragedy, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced on October 16 that residents will not be allowed to open-carry firearms “in a polling place, in any hallway used by voters to enter or exit, or within 100 feet of any entrance to a building in which a polling place is located.”

“STAND BACK AND STAND BY”–FOR A KIDNAPPING: PART TWO (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on October 20, 2020 at 12:04 am

On April 9, Democratic Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer extended the anti-Coronavirus measures set forth in her March 10 Executive Order 2020-4. Among these:

  • No person or entity shall operate a business or conduct operations that require workers to leave their homes or places of residence unless those workers are necessary to sustain or protect life or to conduct minimum basic operations.
  • “Essential workers” were defined as those “necessary to sustain or protect life.”

KXAN Austin

Governor Gretchen Whitmer

Individuals were allowed to leave their home and travel as necessary to:

  • Engage in outdoor physical activity, so long as they stayed at least six feet from people from outside their own household.
  • Perform their jobs as critical infrastructure workers after being so designated by their employers.
  • Perform necessary government activities.
  • Obtain necessary services or supplies for themselves, their family or household members, their pets, and their vehicles.
  • Care for a family member or a family member’s pet in another household.
  • Care for minors, dependents, the elderly, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons.
  • Visit an individual under the care of a health care facility, residential care facility, or congregate care facility.
  • Attend legal proceedings or hearings for essential or emergency purposes as ordered by a court.
  • Work or volunteer for businesses or operations that provide food, shelter, and other necessities of life for those who are poor, disabled, or suffering because of the COVID-19 emergency.
  • Attend a funeral, provided that no more than 10 people are in attendance.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urged Americans to wear masks and keep at least six feet from their fellows. And most of the nation’s governors issued stay-at-home orders that banned large gatherings—including visits to parks and beaches.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Yet President Donald Trump openly encouraged defiance of those orders. On April 17 he issued a series of tweets to his supporters:

“LIBERATE MINNESOTA!”

“LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” 

“LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!”

All these states had Democratic governors—and had been targeted for Right-wing protests. Large numbers of men and women stood closely together, with most of them not wearing masks. They claimed their “freedoms” were being infringed upon.

Whitmer, who had defied the Republican legislature by extending her stay-at-home order, was denounced as a Nazi, with protesters displaying signs like “Heil Whtmer.” 

(It is a hallmark of Right-wingers to accuse their opponents of being what they are themselves—Fascists.) 

On April 30, a protest at the Michigan Capitol Building featured treasonous Confederate flags and hangman’s nooses. Some signs displayed swastikas. Many of the demonstrators were armed with AK-47s.

That protest was organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition, a group co-founded by a GOP state representative and his wife, who is on the advisory board for an official Trump campaign group called Women for Trump and is also the co-founder of Michigan Trump Republicans.

Another of the event’s promoters, Greg McNeilly, is a longtime political adviser to the wealthy DeVos family, which includes Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her brother, Erik Prince, founder of the notorious Blackwater mercenary group.

On May 1, demonstrators—many of them heavily armed—again descended on the state capital in Lansing, protesting Whitmer’s extension of her emergency declaration that kept some businesses closed amidst the plague. And, once again, President Trump sided with the protesters.

On May 1, Trump tweeted in support of the Michigan demonstrators. Just as German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler blamed his opponents for the violence he stoked, so did Trump. Aiming his tweet at Whitmer, he wrote: “These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal.”

Writer Steven Pressfield summed up the immorality of these protests: “Why are we asked to wear surgical or face masks in public, to practice social distancing and to observe self-quarantining? Because these practices are not for the individual alone but for the protection of the whole [community].”

Washington Governor Jay Inslee tweeted: “The president’s statements this morning encourage illegal and dangerous acts. He is putting millions of people in danger of contracting COVID-19.

“His unhinged rantings and calls for people to ‘liberate’ states could also lead to violence. We’ve seen it before.”

Trump had two hidden agendas for ending “stay-at-home” orders.

First, from the moment he took office on January 20, 2017, he had claimed credit for a booming economy—even though this was largely the creation of his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Now, with thousands of businesses closed because of Coronavirus, that economy was essentially dead.

SARS-CoV-2 without background.png

Coronavirus

Trump knew that Presidents who preside over faltering economies usually don’t win a second term. And Trump not only lusted to win a second term but—as he has repeatedly “joked”—become “President-for-Life.”

Second, Trump was desperate to return to his Nuremberg-style rallies. There he could hurl insults at virtually everyone and bask in the fanatical worship of his followers. These rallies acted as fuel to his campaign.

So now he went to any lengths to “reopen” the country–including soliciting violent resistance to the laws of governors he didn’t like.

“STAND BACK AND STAND BY”–FOR A KIDNAPPING: PART ONE (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on October 19, 2020 at 12:08 am

It could have been the plot for a Frederick Forsythe novel.

It was Forsythe who wrote The Day of the Jackal, the fictional account of a Right-wing plot to assassinate French President Charles de Gaulle. 

Another Forsythe novel, The Dogs of War, focused on a group of mercenaries hired to overthrow the ruler of a small African country and install a brutal dictator in his place.

So Forsythe was probably not surprised when he learned, on October 8, that 13 people were charged with plotting to kidnap Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

The scheme included plans to overthrow several state governments that the suspects “believe are violating the US Constitution,” including the government of Michigan, according to a federal criminal complaint.

Six people were charged federally with conspiracy to kidnap. Seven other people, associated with the militia group “Wolverine Watchmen,” were charged by the state.  

“The individuals in (state) custody are suspected to have attempted to identify the home addresses of law enforcement officers in order to target them, made threats of violence intended to instigate a civil war, and engaged in planning and training for an operation to attack the capitol building of Michigan and to kidnap government officials, including the governor of Michigan,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said at a press conference.

Whitmer had become a major target of President Donald Trump in March, when she tried to obtain urgently-needed medical supplies for Michigan hospitals coping with a flood of Coronavirus cases.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (cropped).jpg

Gretchen Whitmer

Julia Pickett / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

On March 26, during an interview on Fox News, Trump blamed the failures of his administration’s response to Coronavirus on Democratic state governors like Andrew Cuomo (NY), Jay Inslee (WA), and Gretchen Whitmer (MI).

On March 27, during his press briefing, Trump said he told Vice President Mike Pence—who’s officially in charge of the White House’s Coronavirus response effort—to not call Inslee and Whitmer because they weren’t “appreciative” enough of his efforts.

Trump said this even as hospitals in each of their states were being overwhelmed with Coronavirus patients.

“I tell him—I mean I’m a different type of person. I say, ‘Mike, don’t call the governor in Washington, you’re wasting your time with him. Don’t call the woman in Michigan,’” Trump said. “If they don’t treat you right, I don’t call.”

Echoing French King Louis XIV’s boast, “I am the State,” Trump said that when people criticized him, they were criticizing the federal government: “When they’re not appreciative to me, they’re not appreciative to the Army Corps, they’re not appreciative to FEMA.  It’s not right.”

Trump also attacked Whitmer on Right-wing Fox News’ “Sean Hannity Show”: “I don’t know if she knows what’s going on, but all she does is sit there and blame the federal government.”

Image result for Public domain images of Donald Trump

Donald Trump

That same day—March 27—Whitmer told a Michigan radio station: “What I’ve gotten back is that vendors with whom we’ve procured contracts—they’re being told not to send stuff to Michigan. It’s really concerning. I reached out to the White House last night and asked for a phone call with the president, ironically at the time this stuff was going on.”

A March 29 story in the Washington Monthly sheds light on what lay behind Whitmer’s inability to secure desperately-needed ventilators from her longtime vendors. Its headline ran: “What If Trump Decides to Save Republicans But Not Democrats?”

And it was followed by a sub-headline: “He’s providing vital resources to red states and ignoring blue states.”

Florida submitted a request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency on March 11 for 430,000 surgical masks, 180,000 N95 respirators, 82,000 face shields and 238,000 gloves—and received a shipment with everything three days later.

It received an identical shipment on March 23, and was awaiting a third.

On March 10, 2020, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services identified the first two presumptive-positive cases of COVID-19 in Michigan. On that same day, Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-4, which declared a state of emergency across the state of Michigan. 

Seal of Michigan.svg

State Seal of Michigan

In the three weeks that followed, the virus spread across Michigan, bringing deaths in the hundreds, confirmed cases in the thousands, and deep disruption to the state’s economy, homes, and educational, civic, social, and religious institutions.

On April 1, 2020, in response to the widespread calamities inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-33. This declared both a state of emergency and a state of disaster across Michigan.

By April 8, 2020, COVID-19 had infected 20,346 Michigan residents and claimed 959 lives. 

As a result, on April 9, Whitmer reaffirmed and extended the measures set forth in Executive Order 2020-21. Her order stated:

  • Michigan residents must stay at home or at their place of residence.
  • All public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring among persons not part of a single household were prohibited.
  • All individuals who leave their home or place of residence must adhere to social distancing measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including remaining at least six feet from people from outside the individual’s household to the extent feasible under the circumstances.
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