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IN MICHIGAN, STUPIDITY RULES, COVID-19 REIGNS: PART FOUR (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on April 15, 2021 at 12:05 am

On October 2,  2020, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that ruled Michigan’s Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer had no authority to issue or renew executive orders relating to Covid-19 beyond April 30.

On October 12, the Republican-dominated Court denied Whitmer’s request to delay the effect of an opinion that ruled her stay-at-home executive orders on the coronavirus pandemic were unconstitutional.

In its order, the Court wrote: “Our decision today….leaves open many avenues for our Governor and Legislature to work together in a cooperative spirit and constitutional manner to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Major cases likely to be decided by Michigan Supreme Court this week | Michigan Radio

Michigan Supreme Court

This ignored the fact that Whitmer faced an openly hostile Republican legislature—whose members acted in lockstep with the agenda of President Donald Trump. 

The Court also ignored that without significant changes in popular behavior—such as those mandated by Whitmer’s stay-at-home and wear-a-mask-in-public orders—the Coronavirus would run rampant through the state.

On November 16, Whitmer accused Republican leaders in the Michigan legislature of offering no answers for how to combat a new surge in COVID-19.

“When I see the criticisms, it just doesn’t seem particularly serious because they haven’t done anything and they haven’t offered up anything. In fact, I think that they have recklessly endangered their colleagues and all of you.”  

Essential credit union employees in Mich. eligible for education perks | Credit Union Journal | American Banker

Gretchen Whitmer

“The Senate Republicans still have faith in our fellow citizens and encourage them to protect themselves and others by adhering to the practices we know can help combat the spread of this insidious virus: washing hands, maintaining distance, and wearing a mask when it’s appropriate,” said Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey. 

This ignored the reality that, without significant penalties for irresponsible behavior, those who complied with such precautions would be at the mercy of those who refused to do so.

On March 11, 2021, the Republican-controlled Michigan Senate authorized a lawsuit against Whitmer, setting up a potential legal fight over millions of dollars in COVID-19 relief funds tied to limits on the administration’s power.

The lawsuit seeks to limit the state Department of Health and Human Services’ epidemic orders to 28 days and shift decisions on school closures from the state department to local health agencies.

Whitmer opposes the bills. 

It “defies common sense that the Legislature would try to block money from going to schools to help children learn in-person safely,” said Bobby Leddy, Whitmer’s spokesman.

“Governor Whitmer will do everything she can to ensure that funding is available to families, small businesses, schools and communities across the state because we can’t afford to wait.”

Michigan’s surge is a combination of two factors: The spread of the B.1.1.7 variant combined with people refusing to “mask up,” socially distance and keep businesses closed until enough residents are vaccinated. 

It takes about two weeks after the Pfizer and Moderna second doses and about two weeks after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine before people are immune. Meanwhile, the incubation period, which is the time from when you are exposed to when you are infected with coronavirus, is four to five days.

With the administration of President Joe Biden ramping up COVID vaccinations as that of Trump never did, Whitmer has pressed for more vaccine doses.

But on April 12, 2021, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that wouldn’t solve the problem:

“When you have an acute situation, extraordinary number of cases like we have in Michigan, the answer is not necessarily to give vaccine. In fact, we know that the vaccine will have a delayed response.

“The answer to that is to really close things down, to go back to our basics, to go back to where we were last spring, last summer, and to shut things down.”

Which is precisely what the Republican-dominated Michigan legislature fervently opposes.

On January 28, 2021, House Speaker Jason Wentworth said his caucus wanted students back in classrooms as quickly as possible. And Wentworth and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey criticized a 25% capacity limit Whitmer’s administration had put in place for restaurants and bars once they reopened for indoor dining on February 1.

By January 28, 83,240 Americans had died of COVID, surpassing the previous record set in December, 2020, of 77,486 deaths.

And what is happening in Michigan—the premature re-opening of businesses and the widespread refusal of citizens  to mask-up and socially distance—is happening throughout the rest of the United States. 

As a result, “The Fourth Surge Is Upon Us. This Time, It’s Different,” warns a March 30 story in The Atlantic.  Its sub-headline states: “A deadlier and more transmissible variant has taken root, but now we have the tools to stop it if we want.”

Several governors—such as Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas—have thrown caution to the winds and refused to mandate mask wearing and social distancing. In doing so, they have condemned untold numbers of their fellow citizens to an early death.

Other governors—such as Gretchen Whitmer and Andrew Cuomo of New York—have aggressively fought COVID-19 with all the weapons at their command. 

When the history of the COVID epidemic is written, it is the latter who will be remembered as heroes in a time of fear and loss.

IN MICHIGAN, STUPIDITY RULES, COVID-19 REIGNS: PART THREE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on April 14, 2021 at 12:23 am

From the moment Michigan’s Democratic Governor Gretchen 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, 2020, 13 Right-wingers were arrested and charged in a terrorism plot to kidnap Whitmer. 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.

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. 

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.” 

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.

Bond unlikely for suspects in Whitmer kidnapping case

Right-wing suspects in Whitmer kidnapping plot

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.

The FBI learned of the plot in early 2020 through a social media group of individuals. Agents persuaded a confidential informant to travel to Dublin, Ohio, on June 6 for a meeting with about 16 plotters.

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

FBI agent injured in fatal Dexter crash - mlive.com

The FBI seal

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

On January 6, 2021, thousands of Trump’s followers would assault the United States Capitol Building—to stop the counting of Electoral College votes certain to elect former Vice President Joe Biden over Trump.

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.

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.

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.”

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 to express his sympathy 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 presidential portrait.jpg

Joe Biden

Having escaped death, Whitmer soon suffered a major defeat.

On October 2,  the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that ruled Whitmer had no authority to issue or renew executive orders relating to Covid-19 beyond April 30.

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling, handed down by a narrow majority of Republican justices, is deeply disappointing, and I vehemently disagree with the court’s interpretation of the Michigan Constitution,” Whitmer responded in a statement.

“Right now, every state and the federal government have some form of declared emergency. With this decision, Michigan will become the sole outlier at a time when the Upper Peninsula is experiencing rates of COVID infection not seen in our state since April.”

IN MICHIGAN, STUPIDITY RULES, COVID-19 REIGNS: PART TWO (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on April 13, 2021 at 12:16 am

On April 1, 2020, in response to the widespread calamities inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Democratic Governor Gretchen 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.

On April 9, 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 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.

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.” 

SARS-CoV-2 without background.png

Coronavirus

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 was on the advisory board for an official Trump campaign group called Women for Trump and was also the co-founder of Michigan Trump Republicans.

Another event promoter, Greg McNeilly, was a longtime political adviser to the wealthy DeVos family, which included Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her brother, Erik Prince, founder of the notorious Blackwater mercenary group.

On May 1, Trump aimed a tweet at Whitmer: “These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal.”

Also 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.

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 see 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. 

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 had 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.

IN MICHIGAN, STUPIDITY RULES, COVID-19 REIGNS: PART ONE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on April 12, 2021 at 12:08 am

Michigan is now battling the biggest surge of new COVID-19 cases in the nation.

The state has surpassed 100,000 active COVID-19 cases in the last week, the highest number since mid-November. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Michigan’s COVID-19 infection rate as No. 1 in the country—with 492.1 positive infections per 100,000 people.

Hospitals throughout Michigan are reporting a 30% increase in hospital admissions over the past week.

The culprit seems to be the B-117 variant, also known as the U.K. variant, a more deadly and transmissible mutant comprising 70% of new coronavirus cases in Michigan, according to state and CDC data. 

The state has the highest number of U.K. variant cases in the nation, according to the CDC.

Contributing to the meltdown: The refusal of Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer to roll back already loosened regulations for reopening the state, which now allows for 50% in-door dining at restaurants and public schools to reopen for in-class learning.

Seal of Michigan.svg

State Seal of Michigan

During an April 9 news conference, Whitmer urged residents to avoid indoor dining for two weeks and for high schools to consider going back to virtual learning for two weeks.

“To be very clear, these are not orders, mandates, or requirements. A year in, we all know what works and this has to be a team effort. We have to do this together. Lives depend on it,” Whitmer said.

“There’s light at the end of this tunnel, but the recent rise in cases is a reminder that we are still in the tunnel. That’s the nature of this virus, the second we let our guard down it comes roaring back.”

Whitmer had previously issued stringent stay-at-home orders and urged Michigan residents to wear masks when they ventured out in public. This won her opposition from the Republican-dominated legislature and President Donald Trump—and even made her the target of a Right-wing kidnapping plot.

On October 8, 2020, the FBI arrested 13 people for that plot.

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  Trump in March, 2020,. 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—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.”

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. 

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.

ALBERT SPEER MEETS DEBORAH BIRX: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary on April 7, 2021 at 12:10 am

From January to early March, 2020, President Donald Trump and his allies within the Republican party and Fox News Network repeatedly assured Americans they had nothing to fear from COVID-19.

Related image

Donald Trump

Barnstorming the country in a series of hate-filled political rallies, Trump told his supporters:

  • “We have it totally under control.”
  • “This is [the Democrats’] new hoax.”
  • “It will go away. Just stay calm.”

On February 27, 2020, Dr. Deborah Birx was appointed White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator for President Donald J. Trump.

On March 26, Birx reassured Americans in a press conference that “there is no situation in the United States right now that warrants that kind of discussion [that ventilators or ICU hospital beds might be in limited supply].”

A day earlier, The New York Times had run the headline: “Amid Desperate Need for Ventilators, Calls Grow for Federal Intervention.” 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, took a different tack. The coronavirus could become cyclical; a vaccine was still many months away; and therapeutic treatments—which Trump had pushed as a “game changer”—were still unproven.

Deborah Birx in April 2020 face detail, from- White House Coronavirus Update Briefing (49742678236) (cropped).jpg

Deborah Birx

Trump insisted that each state was responsible for securing its needed supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for its doctors and nurses aiding Coronavirus patients. This created ruthless competition and scarcity, with Americans not only fighting the virus but each other. But it ensured that Trump remained the final voice of authority. 

Birx did not publicly urge the Federal Government—i.e., Trump—to create a streamlined approach to providing these necessities. Nor did she protest Trump’s refusal to do so. 

On March 27, The New York Times reported: “Dr. Birx’s comments casting doubt on talk of ventilator and hospital-bed shortages, and praising Mr. Trump’s attention to detail in lavish terms, have raised questions about her independence as the number of coronavirus infections in the United States has soared past 100,000….

“Conservative commentators have praised her as a truth-teller, pushing back on coronavirus hysteria. Critics of Mr. Trump accused her of squandering the credibility she had developed as a health official in Democratic and Republican administrations.” 

In April, she asserted that COVID-19 infections had peaked and the virus was fading quickly. In fact, infections quickly surged. 

Birx helped create a reopening plan—presented by Trump on April 16, 2020—with voluntary standards for states to end coronavirus lockdowns.

On April 23, Trump, in a public press conference, recommended the use of ultraviolet light and disinfectant as possible cures for COVID-19.

Birx remained silent. 

The Internet—and medical experts—did not.

Trump’s critics—including many medical experts—believed that, by her silence, Birx forfeited her opportunity to confront the cascade of lies and crackpot theories Trump was promoting.

One of these was California’s Democratic Representative Ted Lieu: “The malicious incompetence that resulted in hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths starts at the top, with the former President and his enablers. And who was one of his enablers? Dr. Birx, who was afraid to challenge his unscientific rhetoric and wrongfully praised him.”

Political commentator Joe Scarborough said: “…And it’s been one scam idea after another, that people then promoted on other networks, scam doctors promoting these scam solutions, claiming that everybody who had taken this malaria drug had been cured in certain hospitals. This is just the sort of thing that catches up to Donald Trump.”

In July 2020, a working group convened by Birx ordered hospitals to bypass the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and send all COVID-19 patient information to a database at the Department of Health and Human Services. 

The continuing flood of alarming Coronavirus information was undermining Trump’s “everything-is-OK” assurances. Some public health officials warned that bypassing the CDC would allow Trump to politicize the findings and withhold them from the public.

In November, Birx stated in an internal report: “There is an absolute necessity of the Administration to use this moment to ask the American people to wear masks, physical distance and avoid gatherings in both public and private spaces.”

But she did not say this in public.

Trump had politicized the wearing of masks, dividing the country into his supporters, who didn’t wear masks, and “Never Trumpers” who did. He also called for the “liberation” of states that had ordered lockdowns to stop the spread of the virus.

Birx never publicly criticized Trump for creating this divisiveness. 

During Thanksgiving, Birx hosted three generations of her family from two households—after she had urged Americans to restrict such gatherings to “your immediate household.”

After her term ended on January 20, 2021, Birx said that she had often considered quitting her position due to the administration’s hyper-partisanship, especially during the 2020 Presidential election.

Perhaps the most damning verdict on Deborah Birx came from Birx herself.

On March 29, 2021, speaking with Sanjay Gupta, MD, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, she said: “The first time, we have an excuse. There were about 100,000 deaths that came from the original surge. All of the rest of them, in my mind, could have been mitigated or decreased substantially.” 

By mid-March, 2021, nearly 550,000 Americans had died from COVID-19.

ALBERT SPEER MEETS DEBORAH BIRX: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on April 6, 2021 at 12:07 am

Born on March 19, 1905 and trained as an architect, Albert Speer joined the Nazi Party in 1931. He met Adolf Hitler in 1933, when he presented the Fuhrer with architectural designs for the Nuremberg Rally scheduled for that year.

Hitler was thoroughly impressed.

From then on, Speer became Hitler’s “genius architect” assigned to create buildings for the Third Reich, meant to last for a thousand years.

In 1937, Hitler appointed Speer as General Building Inspector for Berlin. This made him responsible for the Central Department for Resettlement that evicted Jewish tenants from their homes in Berlin. The vast majority of these men, women and children ended up in extermination camps.

Adolf Hitler

Speer had nothing to do with their imprisonment; that was strictly the province of SS-Reichsuhrer Heinirich Himmler. Nevertheless, he knew the end results of his evictions. 

On September 1, 1939, Hitler ordered the invasion of Poland—unintentionally igniting World War II.

In 1943, Hitler appointed Speer Minister of Armaments, charged with revitalizing the German war effort.

As Hitler’s architect, Speer had stayed aloof from the political intrigues of such power-driven men as Himmler, Luftwaffe chief Hermann Goering and Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels.

But as Minister of Armaments, Speer thrust himself into the currents of intrigue surrounding the Fuhrer. It was this role that earned him 20 years in Spandau Prison for war crimes.

Albert Speer

 Albert Speer

With millions of able-bodied German men drafted for his endless wars, Hitler turned to slave laborers to keep his arms factories going.

“Speer joined in planning and executing the program to dragoon prisoners of war and foreign workers into German war industries, which waxed in output while the workers waned in starvation,” charged chief United States prosecutor Robert H. Jackson during the Nuremberg war crimes trials.

Speer’s attorney, Hans Flächsner, presented Speer as an artist thrust into political life who had always remained apolitical. 

Both at Nuremberg and for the rest of his life, Speer claimed that he was unaware of Nazi extermination plans. But in a letter dated December 23, 1971, Speer wrote: “There is no doubt—I was present as Himmler announced on October 6, 1943, that all Jews would be killed.”

If Speer’s extensive involvement in the Holocaust had been known at the time of his trial he would have been sentenced to death. Twelve of his fellow defendants were so sentenced—and died by hanging. 

Speer was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, principally for the use of slave labor and forced labor. He was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment, and was released from Spandau Prison on October 1, 1966. 

He spent the rest of his life portraying himself as “the good Nazi” who, as an apolitical technocrat, deeply regretted having failed to discover the monstrous crimes of the Third Reich. Out of this came his bestselling autobiography, Inside the Third Reich, published in 1969. 

He died of a heart attack on September 1, 1981—42 years to the day his Fuhrer had plunged the world into war.

British historian Hugh Trevor-Roper considered Speer an administrative genius whose basic instincts were peaceful and constructive. Nevertheless, he assailed Speer for failing to recognize the immorality of the Hitler regime—and called him “the real criminal of Nazi Germany.” 

Specifically:

“For ten years he sat at the very centre of political power; his keen intelligence diagnosed the nature and observed the mutations of Nazi government and policy; he saw and despised the personalities around him; he heard their outrageous orders and understood their fantastic ambitions; but he did nothing.

“Supposing politics to be irrelevant, he turned aside and built roads and bridges and factories, while the logical consequences of government by madmen emerged. Ultimately, when their emergence involved the ruin of all his work, Speer accepted the consequences and acted. Then it was too late; Germany had been destroyed.” 

Germans are not, however, the only ones to clinch a deal with the Devil.

Eighty-seven years after Albert Speer began his rise to power—and infamy—Deborah Birx, an American physician and diplomat, reached her own height of power—and infamy. 

Born on April 4, 1956, Deborah Birx served from 1980 to 1994 as an active duty reserve officer in the United States Army. From 1994 to 2008, Birx was on active duty regular Army, achieving the rank of Colonel.

From 1980 to 1989, Birx worked as a physician at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. In 1981, she completed a one-year internship and did a two-year residency in internal medicine. From 1983 to 1986, she completed two fellowships in clinical immunology in the areas of allergies and diagnostics.

From 1985 to 1989, Birx was the assistant chief of the Walter Reed Allergy/Immunology Service. Birx started her career as a clinician in immunology, eventually specializing on HIV/AIDS vaccine research. 

She served as the United States global AIDS coordinator for Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump (2014-2020). She also served as the country’s special representative for global health diplomacy between 2015 and 2021.

On February 27, 2020, she was appointed White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator for President Donald J. Trump.

The virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, in December, 2019, quickly spread around the world. 

Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that affect birds and mammals. In humans, they can cause pneumonia and may cause bronchitis.

SARS-CoV-2 without background.png

Coronavirus

On February 29, 2020, the first American died of Coronavirus. 

THE TEARS OF FASCISTS

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary on April 5, 2021 at 12:37 pm

t’s natural for a losing political party to look for scapegoats.

And after Democratic President Barack Obama defeated Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney for a second term in the White House, Republicans did exactly that.

As political columnist Mark Shields said on the PBS Newshour on January 25, 2013:

“As far as the Republicans are concerned, they are simply going through the terrible stages that every defeated party does.”

And one side says we lost because we didn’t stick enough to our principles. And the other side we lost because we were too dogmatic and didn’t reach out to the undecided.

“And so the first inclination is always to blame your own candidate. You blame Al Gore if you are a Democrat in 2000, or John Kerry in 2004. You blame John McCain.”

“The Republicans want to blame Mitt Romney. That’s fine. But Mitt Romney is more popular than the Republican Party. I mean, he got 47 percent. The Republicans are dead in the water right now.”

Consider the reaction of Ann Coulter, the Republican version of the Miss America Nazi.  Speaking on the November 6 defeat of Mitt Romney, Coulter whined:

“People are suffering. The country is in disarray. If Mitt Romney cannot win in this economy, then the tipping point has been reached. We have more takers than makers and it’s over. There is no hope.”

And what did she hope to see Romney do as President?

“Mitt Romney was the president we needed right now, and I think it is so sad that we are going to be deprived of his brain power, of his skills in turning companies around, turning the Olympics around, his idea and his kindness for being able to push very conservative ideas on a country that no longer is interested in conservative ideas. It is interested in handouts.”

Note the chief reason for her regret: Romney would have been “able to push very conservative ideas on a country that no longer is interested in conservative ideas.”

Or, as the Original Nazis would have put it: “You vill love it—or else!”

Unfortunately for Coulter, a majority of Americans rejected this mentality–and the repressive measures that would have accompanied it.

So, naturally, Coulter and her fellow Rightists feel dejected.

Comedian Bill Maher, appearing on the November 7, 2012 edition of “Hardball With Chris Matthews,” offered his own explanation for the Romney defeat: The Republicans fell victims to their own lies.

BillMaherSept10.jpg

Bill Maher

Angela George, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

MAHER: But, you know, I think it gets to a bigger point, Chris, which is that Republicans have to start getting their information from a better source than FOX News. I’m not kidding about this….They believed it right up until the end. They were shocked by this election.

They have to somehow fix the way they get information, because they only talk to each other. And they don’t know what’s going on in the real world. And they were rudely awakened last night.

MATTHEWS: What do you think it was like to be in that bubble with Mitt Romney in that time after it really–I called it the knockout, like the sixth round?

MAHER: I mean, I think they were still saying, “Yes, Mein Fuehrer, you have 12 divisions on the Eastern front.”

MATTHEWS: Anyway, Donald Trump took to Twitter last night, trashing the election returns. Here’s what he said.  On Twitter, in real time, to use your phrase. “He lost the popular vote by a lot.

“He’s talking about the president and won the election. “We should have a revolution this country.”

“This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy.”

“We can’t let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty. Our nation is totally divided.”

MAHER: I mean, it doesn’t deserve thoughts because these aren’t thoughts….This guy only two years ago was like apolitical, right? I don’t even know what party he was.

I don’t know if he knew what party he was.  Now he wants to march on Washington?  This is democracy–so it’s not democracy when your candidate loses?

* * * * *

Almost seventy-six years ago, another fanatical, right-wing woman concluded: “There is no hope.”

She was Magda Goebbels, wife of Joseph Goebbels—Propaganda Minister for the rapidly-collapsing Third Reich.  

Magda and Joseph Goebbels, with their six children and a uniformed friend

“I do not wish to live in a world without National Socialism,” she said.

And to make certain her six children didn’t, either, she gave each of them a powerful sleeping tablet.  Then she crushed a cyanide capsule between their jaws.

Finally, she and her husband died by their own hands–he shot her, and then himself.

Fortunately, Ann Coulter has no children.  Nor even a husband who would willingly shoot her.

So if she truly believed she cannot live in a world where fascists don’t rule absolutely over America, she’s had ample time to let history to repeat itself.

THE NEWS MEDIA: FACING SOME PAINFUL TRUTHS

In Business, History, Humor, Politics, Social commentary on March 26, 2021 at 12:10 am

On September 27, 2020, The New York Times broke the unprecedented story of President Donald Trump’s tax returns, which he has long held secret. 

Among the revelations: He paid no federal income taxes at all for 10 of 15 years. And he paid only $750 in taxes in 2016 and 2017.

For most newspapers and TV networks, such investigative reporting is a rarity. Most media outlets are little more than “happy news” or propaganda organs.

Two years earlier, on April 28, 2018, comedian Michelle Wolf had hosted the annual White House Correspondents Dinner in Washington, D.C. There she skewered high-ranking Trump administration officials and members of the nation’s elite media.

Most of here jokes were focused on Trump administration officials—especially then-Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Michelle Wolf in 2016.jpg

Michelle Wolf

Erin Nekervis, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

But Wolf threw a series of sharp-edged zingers at some of the Nation’s most prominent media. And these comments have gone largely ignored.

They are, however, well worth examining—for the uncomfortable truths they reveal about much of the “news” being served up under the guise of fearless objectivity.

On CNN—where “news” now largely consists of a series of “talking heads” pontificating about stories that other journalists have dug up:  We’ve got our friends at CNN here. You guys love breaking news, and you did it. You broke it. Good work. The most useful information on CNN is when Anthony Bourdain tells me where to eat noodles.

On Fox News’ sexual harassment scandals involving such prominent (and former) members as CEO Roger Ailes and commentator Bill O’Reilly:  Fox News is here. So, you know what that means, ladies: Cover your drinks. Seriously.

On Fox News’ actual role as the propaganda organ of the Republican party:  People want me to make fun of [Fox News commentator] Sean Hannity tonight, but I cannot do that; this dinner is for journalists.

News Media

On weak-rated MSNBC, which is the liberal version of Fox News:  We’ve got MSNBC here. MSNBC’s news slogan is, “This is who we are.” Guys, it’s not a good slogan. “This is who we are” is what your mom thinks the sad show on NBC is called. “Did you watch ‘This Is Who We Are’ this week? Someone left on a Crockpot, and everyone died.”

On Megyn Kelly, who rose to fame and fortune as a Right-wing propaganda shill on Fox News:  And, of course, Megyn Kelly. What would I do without Megyn Kelly? You know, probably be more proud of women. 

And, by the way, Megyn, Santa’s black. The weird old guy going through your chimney was Bill O’Reilly. You might want to put a flue on it or something.  

[This last jibe centered on Kelly’s infamous December 11, 2013 Fox broadcast where she claimed: “I kind of laughed and said this is so ridiculous.  Yet another person claiming it’s racist to have a white Santa. For all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white….Just because it makes you uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change. Jesus was a white man too.”]

On the continuing demise of newspapers—on which TV “news reporters” depend for their information:  There’s a lot of print media here. There’s a ton of you guys, but I’m not going to go after print media tonight because it’s illegal to attack an endangered species. Buy newspapers.

On the media’s—especially the television media’s—morbid obsession with Donald Trump:  There’s a ton of news right now; a lot is going on, and we have all these 24-hour news networks, and we could be covering everything. But, instead, we’re covering like three topics. Every hour, it’s Trump, Russia, Hillary and a panel of four people who remind you why you don’t go home for Thanksgiving.

On the media’s responsibility for the rise of a President they now detest: You guys are obsessed with Trump. Did you used to date him? Because you pretend like you hate him, but I think you love him. I think what no one in this room wants to admit is that Trump has helped all of you. He couldn’t sell steaks or vodka or water or college or ties or Eric, but he has helped you.

He’s helped you sell your papers and your books and your TV. You helped create this monster, and now you’re profiting off of him. And if you’re gonna profit off of Trump, you should at least give him some money because he doesn’t have any.

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Donald Trump

[This last joke was probably the most painful the assembled media bigwigs had to endure. Because it’s undeniably true.

Trump’s campaign was saved from spending millions on TV advertising because the major TV news networks covered his every word. This was especially true when he was attacking women, blacks, Mexicans, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama—and even beauty pageant contestants.

Trump was “good for the news media” in the same way that Mike Tyson was “good for boxing.” 

Both Trump and Tyson were seen as freaks—and thus guaranteed to lure viewers eager to find out: “What outrageous thing has he done now?”]  And more viewers meant higher ratings–which meant money.

“HAPPY NEWS” DIDN’T SAVE HITLER–OR TRUMP

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on March 22, 2021 at 12:07 am

THE WHITE HOUSE IS PROPPING UP A DEPRESSED TRUMP WITH TWO FOLDERS OF PROPAGANDA A DAY

So read an August 8, 2017 headline on the PoliticusUSA website.

The story opened:

“Donald Trump receives two folders of screen grabs, transcripts, and pictures of himself looking strong each day as the White House using the communications office to compile propaganda that makes Trump feel better.”

It then quoted Vice News as stating:

Twice a day since the beginning of the Trump administration, a special folder is prepared for the president. The first document is prepared around 9:30 a.m. and the follow-up, around 4:30 p.m.

“Former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and former Press Secretary Sean Spicer both wanted the privilege of delivering the 20-to-25-page packet to President Trump personally, White House sources say.

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Donald Trump

“These sensitive papers, described to VICE News by three current and former White House officials, don’t contain top-secret intelligence or updates on legislative initiatives.

“Instead, the folders are filled with screenshots of positive cable news chyrons (those lower-third headlines and crawls), admiring tweets, transcripts of fawning TV interviews, praise-filled news stories, and sometimes just pictures of Trump on TV looking powerful.”

Anonymous sources told Vice that Priebus and Spicer created this “happy news” smorgasbord to boost their own standings:

“Priebus and Spicer weren’t in a good position, and they wanted to show they could provide positive coverage. It was self-preservation.” 

But it didn’t save  Priebus and Spicer. On July 28, 2017, Priebus resigned—after suffering repeated humiliations by Trump—such as being ordered to kill a fly that was buzzing about.

And, on July 21, 2017, Spicer angrily resigned after Trump chose Anthony Scaramucci as White House Communications Director. Trump kept Spicer in the dark about events that he needed to know. 

At 6 a.m. every weekday, three staffers arrived at the Republican National Committee’s “war room.” Their mission: Scour newspapers and the Internet and monitor MSNBC, Fox News and CNN. About every 30 minutes, they sent the White House Communications Office an email with tweets, screenshots, interview transcripts and news stories.

“Maybe it’s good for the country that the President is in a good mood in the morning,” one former RNC official said.

Creating folders of “happy news” to prop up Trump’s fragile ego was a practice unique to the Trump administration.

“If we had prepared such a digest for Obama, he would have roared with laughter,” said David Axelrod, the senior adviser to Barack Obama during his first two years in the White House. “His was a reality-based presidency.”

Barack Obama

Trump devours praise like a sugar addict consumes candy. He frequently tweeted his thanks to cable television hosts like Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, and the hosts of “Fox & Friends” who lavishly praised his administration.  

But Trump is hardly unique among world leaders to listen only to “happy news.”

During World War II, as his armies were forced to retreat on all fronts, Adolf Hitler increasingly demanded that his ministers refrain from “defeatist talk.”

Hoping for victory and stating that it was inevitable became the key to saving one’s job—if not life—in the steadily-declining Third Reich. Countless Germans who refused to embrace Hitler’s fantasies were executed for “defeatism.”

Adolf Hitler

This was best illustrated by the case of Albert Speer. Hitler had often proclaimed him “my genius architect” before appointing him Minister of Armaments in 1942. As Speer revved up the production of military hardware, Hitler continued to hail his “genius.”

But as Allied bombing raids increasingly devastated Germany’s industrial plants, armaments production began to fall. This forced Speer to tell his Fuhrer the unpalatable truth: Germany was losing its capacity to wage war.

Hitler didn’t want to hear it, turning instead to those who fed him a diet of “happy news.”  When Speer’s deputy, Karl Otto Saur, told Hitler, “By Christmas, we’ll have air superiority!” Hitler was ecstatic.

At a meeting with his generals, the Fuhrer announced: “We have the good fortune to have a genius in our armaments ministry.  I mean Saur.”

The promised air superiority never materialized.

As even Hitler came to realize that the end was near, he blamed Germany for losing the war he had started.

“If the war is lost,” Hitler told Speer, “the nation will also perish….This nation will have proved to be the weaker one and the future will belong solely to the stronger eastern nation.”

He ordered a massive “scorched-earth” campaign throughout Germany.

All German agriculture, industry, ships, communications, roads, food stuffs, mines, bridges, stores and utility plants were to be destroyed.

It would have deprived the entire German population of even the barest necessities after the war.

Fortunately for Germany, Speer dared to sabotage the “Nero Order,” thus ensuring a future for those who survived the war.

Hitler’s demands for only “happy news” did not save him—or his regime.

As the COVID-19 casualties increasingly rose among Americans, Trump demanded ever more “happy news” from Federal health officials charged with combating the disease.

It didn’t save him from the anger of 80 million voters fed up with his lies and criminality.

And it will not save those Americans who substitute wishful thinking for reality.

TWO VIRUSES, ONE CATASTROPHE: PART EIGHT (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Politics, Social commentary on March 19, 2021 at 12:15 am

SACRIFICE YOUR CHILDREN FOR ME

On July 10, Paula Reid, White House correspondent for CBS News, warned on the PBS program, Washington Week.

“But one of the most significant things out of the administration this week is the fact that Dr. [Deborah] Birx [Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force] said that we really don’t have that much data on COVID in children because the under-10 set is really the least tested.”

Just as the ancient Canaanites sacrificed their children to the god Moloch, so President Donald J. Trump expected his followers—and opponents—to risk their children’s lives for him.  

Molech: Then and Now

A child sacrifice to Moloch

On August 10, CBS News reported:

“Nearly 100,000 children tested positive for the Coronavirus in the last two weeks of July, a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics finds. Just over 97,000 children tested positive for the Coronavirus from July 16 to July 30, according to the association.”

By October, no vaccine had been invented. Nor had a national system of testing or contact tracing. 

Hospitals began overflowing with COVID cases. Doctors and nurses were overwhelmed with fatigue. Many of them had become COVID victims.

On October 20, more than 70,450 new coronavirus cases were reported in the United States in a day for the first time.

On October 25, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union”: “We are not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas,”

By October 28, more than 8.8 million Americans had been diagnosed with COVID, and at least 227,673 had died from it.

Meanwhile, Trump kept barnstorming the country in a relentless re-election effort. Although infected with COVID-19 in September, he refused to wear a mask in public. His rallies reflected this same contempt for public health, with most attendees refusing to wear masks and/or socially distance.

Critics dubbed these rallies: “Super-spreader events.”

DECLARING VICTORY OVER CORONAVIRUS

In an October 27 press release from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy., “Advisor to the President” and First Daughter Ivanka Trump noted her father’s signature achievement:

“ENDING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC. From the outset of the COVID019 pandemic, the Administration has taken decisive action to engage scientists and health professionals in academia, industry, and government to understand, treat and defeat the disease.” 

Ivanka Trump has absolutely no scientific or technology background.

* * * * * * * * * *

Donald Trump has spent his life trading on the greed or fear of others. For example: 

  • Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi personally solicited a political contribution from Trump around the same time her office deliberated joining an investigation of alleged fraud at Trump University and its affiliates.
  • After Bondi dropped the Trump University case against Trump, he wrote her a $25,000 check for her re-election campaign. 
  • According to an April 14, 2019 story by ABC News, a nationwide review uncovered at least 36 criminal cases where Trump was invoked in direct connection with violent acts, threats of violence or allegations of assault.
  • In nine cases, attackers hailed Trump in the midst or immediate aftermath of physically assaulting victims. In 10 more cases, perpetrators cheered or defended Trump while taunting or threatening others. And in another 10 cases, Trump and his rhetoric were cited in court to explain a defendant’s violent or threatening behavior.

But in January, 2020, Trump confronted an enemy—to his re-election—that he couldn’t bribe or intimidate.

Unable to apply his trademark solutions, he was forced to improvise one attempted remedy after another. Chief among these:

  • Denial
  • Lies
  • Extortion
  • Propaganda as news
  • Attacking science
  • Reopening the country 
  • Resignation.

Ultimately, the virus—far more than Democratic nominee Joseph Biden—proved his fatal enemy.

Millions of Americans didn’t care that Trump had criminally fired an FBI director and tried to coerce the president of Ukraine to smear Biden. Nor that he had antagonized America’s closest allies while paying homage to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

But when COVID-19 wiped out their jobs, their children had to stay home because schools were closed, and they couldn’t pay their mortgage, Trump’s “President-for-Life” ambitions were doomed.

One of the harshest—and most poignant—attacks on Donald Trump came on August 17, 2020. It was delivered at the Democratic National Convention by Kristin Urquiza—the daughter of one of Trump’s 2016 supporters.

That supporter, Mark Anthony Urquiza, had died—from COVID-19.

Kristin Urquiza, MPA (she/her) on Twitter: "Yes, I'm boiled over. Thanks for sharing my dads obit. 💔 @MarkedByCovid… "

Kristin Urquiza

In early June, he contracted the disease, shortly after Arizona lifted its stay-at-home order. He visited a karaoke bar with friends—and died, alone, after five days on a ventilator.

“My dad, Mark Anthony Urquiza, should be here today, but he isn’t,” Kristin said during a televised segment. “He had faith in Donald Trump.

“He voted for him, listened to him, believed him and his mouthpieces when they said that Coronavirus was under control and going to disappear; that it was OK to end social distancing rules before it was safe; and that if you had no underlying health conditions, you’d probably be fine.

“My dad was a healthy 65-year-old. His only preexisting condition was trusting Donald Trump, and for that he paid with his life.”   

That, ultimately, will be the real Trump legacy to America.

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