It is no surprise that Elbert County, Colorado was the first case reported in the US of the ultra contagious variant strain of COVID 19 because the area has been at the forefront of anti-maskers and common sense anti-Covid actions. Its Congressman, Ken Buck, has been a high profile anti masker and anti-COVID vaxxer. Interesting that this case was in Elbert County, far from a ski area so that mad it of great interest because the assumption is that international ski visitors would bring this new COVID strain from the UK that appears to be 70% more infective. What it likely means there has been community spread since the patient had no record of travel. Elbert County is in Rep. Ken Buck's 4th Congressional District.. Buck has recently announced he will refuse to take the Covid-19 vaccine because he is an American. His comments made national and international news. The district has been at the forefront of fighting any requirements to wear a mask. In May, a Castle Rock restaurant made national news for defying state rules indoor dining and they were shut down by the state. Castle Rock town council also voted to opt-out of their local health mask-wearing ordinance. Castle Rock is a major urban area in Buck's district not far from Elbert County. It also contains a major factory outlet retail center. Also in Buck's district is the JBS meat processing plant in Greeley, Colorado,, also making national news for Covid-19 infections, one of the first of many plants elsewhere reporting major problems.. In particular, the plant refused to let workers wear masks and protective equipment. The plant was fined for failing to protect workers in September.
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
Thursday, December 24, 2020
A version of this was published in the Winter Park Times, Jan.1, 2021
American democracy was at the crossroads in 2020. Democracy won but it was a close call. Will it be at the crossroads again in the future? It is likely. In November, 81 million voters made a choice of Biden's route, but 74 million had hoped for the other one. With our votes in November, whether we were conscious of it or not, we were choosing between Trump’s autocratic, tyrannical model of governing by fear of his wrath, use of his presidential powers to take revenge on those who displeased him, and demanding loyalty to him personally instead of to the rule of law. In late December he rewarded those loyal to himself by issuing pardons to a long list of those pleading guilty or convicted of breaking the law on his behalf. The more democratic traditions we have tried to follow for years have been continued at least for the next four years. The other road, the losing one, would have given Trump four more years to consolidate dictatorial powers with purges and replacements in the judiciary and military with those loyal to him. What this portends is that Trumpism will be a force for some years to come because the numbers supporting his approach and Trump -the- person are significant. He is a media master and he will find ways for his voice to be heard.
Democracy will be in jeopardy in the near future from those who do not care if democracy survives because they have other priorities. A September poll conducted by Yale political scientists found that most Americans say they care about democracy, but only 3.5% would change support of a candidate who did not support democracy. A portion of Trump’s support was motivated by party loyalty and an economy they liked, including those who wanted low taxes and minimum government regulation. They had faith Trump’s prior economy would re-emerge after COVID 19 was beaten. I get that, but Trump's re-election was not the only way to bring back the economy. Polls were taken just before the election that showed Biden and Trump had equal approval in handling the recovery. Trump's earlier advantage had taken a hit as the depth of the pandemic's damage to the economy deepened. Even Trump's defeat did not change Wall Street's trajectory. In mid-October, both Goldman Sachs and Moody's predicted that the recovery would be stronger under Biden's plan than Trump's. More jobs would be created and Biden's plans for government stimulus would offset higher taxes and more regulation because it would increase sales.
However, hovering over all of those more traditional concerns was something sinister. Trump had exploited racism as no politician had done since George Wallace and the Dixiecrats, using rally dog whistles and praise of neo white nationalists. He launched a single-minded pursuit to throw out the African American vote and overturn the election results. Intimidation, inconveniencing, and a coup by 40 lawsuits alleging irregularities, failed to keep the African American vote turnout diminished and counted. If there were those in his party who objected to his strategy, their silence was deafening they were so obvious.
How much of Trump’s most passionate support in 2020 was driven by racism is hard to measure since those polled do not always tell the truth to a stranger when the truth is not noble and motivations are mixed. Estimates by those who tried to attach a figure to it call it a "significant part of his coalition,." and" more influential than just the numbers". What is a fact is those who have ruled for 250 years as a white majority will see black and brown emerging from minority status to the majority of the population by 2040. Those who fear the change see Trump as the strong man to come to their rescue in many issues, not just white nationalism, In any case, he has melded his touted effectiveness of an autocrat’s fist with the dark side of American history in his attempt to fight off the inevitable nature of demography’s march. Cloaking Trumpism in terms of “populism” as some have called it is too kind. Call it what it is. It is an attempt of one segment of the population to dominate and suppress another in a time of enormous demographic changes. That is a formula for more social disruption.
The democratic road will also not be free of conflict, dangers, and challenges. In 2020, over 51% of the voters supported the traditional democratic path of the rule of law instead of the rule of a person, fairness and equality in a diverse society, and self-governance through the ballot box. What about the future?. With such a large body of voters enthralled with Trump’s persona, will he rise again? Will his movement of Trumpism carry on?
Demography will be the gasoline on the fires of conflict but also it may save democracy. A new generation is ascending into power as the white nationalists and self-serving interests inspired by Trump’s action and words age out of the scene. The younger generations themselves are more multicultural through intermarriage and social integration and they are steeped in the ethics of diversity They are already politically awake. Their vote in 2020 impacted results in several states. Millennials and Gen Xers turned out to vote in 2020 for Joe Biden in greater numbers than for the Democrat candidate in 2016. The youth vote turnout was 53% of those eligible in 2020 compared with 46% in 2016 per a Tuft's University study. I am placing my hope in them for the long term survival of democracy.
In the meantime, those who care have got to keep fighting for democracy and those who did not care need to begin caring. Once the evil genie of a dictatorship is out of the bottle, getting it back in is nearly impossible. Votes in opposition to the Leader are not counted, and the judiciary, media, and the military are controlled by the dictator. The legislature rolls over and plays yes man to the will of the strong man, much as the Senate has behaved now. This is how a minority can control and suppress the majority and the majority can dominate the minority.
A fascinating account reported by TIME magazine about a secret campaign to save democracy...labor and big business conspired to do it. https://time.com/5936036/secret-2020-election-campaign/
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-raffensperger-call-georgia-vote/2021/01/03/d45acb92-4dc4-11eb-bda4-615aaefd0555_story.html Tape of Trump trying to get Georgia's Secretary of State to fix the vote
"Nearly all Americans say democracy matters. But how many will actually punish their preferred candidate and withhold a vote when that candidate does something undemocratic?
Graham and Svolik’s answer: About 3.5 percent of voters will defect from a candidate whom they otherwise support, but who does something destructive of democratic norms. Those 3.5 percent come from the right and the left in equal proportions, but they tend to be moderates. (Self-described “independents”—those mysterious, yeti-like creatures who profess to have no political preference at all—vote slightly more like extremists.) If you value democracy, hug a moderate."
From an earlier posting: January 15, 2018 "If Donald Trump is not a racist, what is he? A demagogue?"
Wednesday, December 16, 2020
We learned during a December 16 House committee hearing that in June and July Trump's political appointee, Dr. Paul Alexander, pushed HHS Health and Human Services) to adopt herd immunity as a policy. The scientists continued to advocate to wear maks and social distance but the message coming from the President was very different. The scientists' voices were played down or shunted aside or ridiculed.. In August Trump appointed TV herd immunity advocate, Dr. Scott Atlas, as his COVID-19 adviser in the White House (He resigned Nov. 30).
The herd immunity theory is that if enough got the disease, the disease would go away. After all, that was how the medieval bubonic plague (black death) killed 10% to 20% of the population of cities and the Spanish Flu ended with over 675,000 estimated dead by 1919 in the US that was one-third the population size of 2020. Either the population was made immune by surviving the disease or they were dead. Any number of experts believe herd immunity in COVID-19 would result in two million dead plus Americans. By June, Sweden had tried herd immunity and so many died, they had to abandon their policy. Their experience was no secret. I had been following the issue in early summer and the advocates for herd immunity policies ignored the Swedish experience. It was widely reported worldwide. December 17 in his annual address, the King of Sweden said their approach "has failed". Coronavirus: Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf says coronavirus approach 'has failed' - BBC News
This Trump-backed initiative, in action and mostly in podium and tweet words explains so much why Dr. Anthony Fauci was demonized and sidetracked for advocating mask-wearing and social distancing, that wearing a mask became so politicized, why Trump held super spreader events, and how it happened that the US had the highest death rate in the developed world. President Trump will go down in history for his great lies. It was "just like the flu" and we "are rounding the corner" it will "go away in the spring". This was not due to his ignorance. It was intentional because in February he admitted on tape to journalist Bob Woodward it was air born and more deadly. If the purpose was to keep business open and the economy viable, Trump succeeded with stimulus checks and warm weather until then did not. Now in the fall and early winter, it was not just hot spots that had to close down, but nearly every state is facing a resurgence and shutting down again. It will be until late June 2021 that herd immunity will be achieved with enough of the population getting the shot. The more who are immunized, the death rate should slowly decrease. That is the sad good news.
From my blog posting about Sweden's experience in May 2020 updated :
Sweden has received great praise from the anti-stay at home activists in the US. Let them get herd immunity. No stay at home rules., they demand. Those advocates look to Sweden as a model of no required rules to stay at home, schools are open, and it is open for business,. It is an apple to oranges comparison with the US. Those on the right should consider what makes Sweden different than the US. It is socialized...no one goes without good health care; there are no really poor people living cramped in rooms because they have a tax policy that accomplishes far less income disparity.. If you want to stay at home because you fear you may get the virus, you get 100% of your salary. What part of this would the right-wing in our country like to adopt.if they want that outcome. because they have a tax policy with still accomplishes little income disparity. If you want to stay at home because you fear you may get the virus, you get 100% of your salary. In spite of that, they still have 6 times the deaths as their neighboring Socialist countries who instituted stay at home and other strict.rules and not great economic gain.
Per Financial Times in early May, Sweden will likely feel little benefit to its economy. Current growth figures are about the same as Norway and 10% better than Finland. https://www.ft.com/content/93105160-dcb4-4721-9e58-a7b262cd4b6e?fbclid=IwAR21e-GeSCoC6Yhiu-EHMKAI6EXTaOs15VrR071QGtprqcKEfmFSyGOZFoA
Per Reuters,“The healthcare system is under great pressure,” said Per Follin, the head of infectious disease control in Stockholm. “We need to keep going with the measures we have so this ends quickly.”
As predicted by nearly all legal experts not associated with Murdoch controlled media, the Supreme Court summarily rejected the Texas attempt to force four other states to throw out Biden votes.. The 126 may have known this was a fools' errand in advance of their signing on. They were warned and if they did, double hex on them. This list of fools included two from Colorado, Ken Buck, and Doug Lamborn. The 18 GOP states attorneys generals had no excuse for ignorance of the law and Constitution but signed it anyway. They all may have been motivated by fear for their political futures in their gerrymandered safe districts or the deep red color of their states. Donald Trump had announced he would continue his whipping supporters in line with fear of being primaried and revenge in order to keep himself in the political game and to keep his core supporters loyal for the next four years when he intends to run again. They may not have intended it, but the signatures they put on the support of the Texas suit was not just putting their pledge of allegiance to Trump on record. They have laid the groundwork for some other wannabe tyrant with more talent and cunning than Trump to go and do likewise more successfully. That tyrant may not be Trump, but it could come from the radical left as well as from the right.. Tyrants come from either wing. In short, those signators of the Texas foolery will be expected to support more abuse of the system when Congress certifies the Electoral College vote on January 6. Like the sham of an attempted coup by court, the 126 will also be expected to mount a Quixotic attempt to overturn the election and challenge the electoral college vote. This is another fools' errand. Their barrier is impossible to surmount because approval by both Houses of Congress is required and one of those Houses clearly has the majority of Democrats.
What those 125 Representatives have done approves a template for another challenge to democracy mounted by Trump or some other wannabe dictator.. What were they thinking? The silliness that the Texas attempt, if the Court had approved it, would have set a precedence that would have permitted a state like Texas to attempt to sue Colorado on the same theory that all mail-in ballots were fraudulent. Colorado has had universal mail-in ballots since 2013. Thanks, Buck and Lamborn, for your lack of caring about some basic states' rights enshrined in the Constitution to control their own elections.
The far more serious implications of the de facto loyalty pledge to the rule of Trump the signers on to Texas suit were these 126 House fools and 18 AGs just showed how someday there was a path that some other wannabe destroyers of democracy and a demagogue from another extreme wing could exploit and abuse the rule of law, the Constitution, and overthrow the vote of the people. That wannabe tyrant representing a minority of voters could easily seize control of the majority through such similar abuse unless stopped by those upholding the rule of law and the Constitution are vigilant and determined in future years just as they were this year.
December 20, 2020 update
One more fools errand bites the dust: Judge skewers GOP over suit targeting newly registered voters in Georgia (yahoo.com)
Tuesday, December 15, 2020
After November 3 we came very close to the beginning of the end of democracy. Oh, that would never happen in the US. . Stop hyperventilating you say? Joe Biden's victory in the Electoral College vote on December 14 signaled democracy survived a critical challenge. 126 House members and 17 state GOP attorneys general signed onto the hail Mary attempt by Trump's sycophant Texas Attorney General to overturn the certified November 3 vote of the people in four key states. His goal: throw out 20 million votes so loser Trump could become the winner.
Fortunately for democracy, Biden's victory was too widespread across many states for there to be a repeat of the 2000 Florida experience where one state's hanging chads punch-card ballots were evidence enough for the Supreme Court to decide against Al Gore. Trump lost the popular vote by 7 million and lost the electoral college by the same number he had won four years earlier. No losing candidate in our history attempted to overturn such a decisive vote. In the period between election day and electoral vote, Joe Biden stood by with muted objection and let Trump's attempted coup by court run its course. Most recently, there have been reports that a deranged and angry Trump is talking with close cohorts calling in the military in swing states to seize ballot boxes. So far it is talk. Numerous times the Joint Chiefs have made it clear the federal military would not get involved in domestic politics or act against their oath to protect the Consitution to which they swore allegiance. In an immediate response the US Army issued a statement reaffirming prior statements they will not get involved in domestic politics.\
From the onset, Trump's attorneys publicly stated that the goal of their lawsuits was to overturn the vote. It was no secret nor was it couched in ambiguous terms. It was to be a coup by court action. The goal failed because it was based on false hopes in advance of the election that there was indeed going to be widespread fraud. Trump and his followers drank their own cool-aid, but the evidence and proof did not emerge, more than a few states swung to Biden, the popular vote was too large for Biden, and judges demanded evidence. There were hopes, too, that all of the judges appointed in the Trump presidency from lower federal courts to the Supreme Court would put loyalty and gratitude to Trump over judicial judgment. They were wrong on all assumptions. No evidence emerged that the count was fraudulent. Judges and justices of any party affiliation and many appointed by Trump honored the rule of law and the Constitution. Legions of local vote counters and officials likewise performed their sworn duty faithfully They knew in advance their actions would be scrutinized.
Public opinion has not caught up with reality. Polls taken near December 14 after nearly every one of the 50 lawsuits were thrown out of courts attests to how effective Trump's lies and demagoguery were when 70% of Trump voters still believed Biden was not the legitimate winner. It is difficult to say who is more at fault...his willfully gullible core supporters or Trump's tweets and oratory. A lawsuit against FOX by a voting machine vendor has forced the station to rectify statements made by FOX personalities and debunk them.( After legal threat, Fox airs news package debunking election fraud claims made by its own hosts (msn.com) Irresponsibility has a price but no amount of money could compensate for the damage some of these opinion hosts have done to the faith in our democracy. For the majority of voters who suspected Trump was a not-so-secret autocrat, his attempted coup confirmed Trump's desire to become a dictator who ruled by his persona and not by the rule of law or the intent of the Constitution for government to be of, by and for the people expressed in the ballot box. Special hats off to those who refused to be intimidated by threats of murder and violence by white nationalist terrorists and their supporters who tweeted threats, torched signs on Black churches, demonstrated violently, and parked themselves in front of the houses of public officials while wielding guns, chants, and racist rants. If the true guardians of democracy in 2020, judges, justices, and public election officials, are replaced in the future with political subterfuge by those who do not respect or honor these pillars of democracy, the end of democracy has arrived. The second term of Trump would have moved us in that direction. The new litmus tests for any future candidates, regardless of the political party, ideology, or public policy issue, should be their record and support of democratic institutions and traditions. No pious lip service allowed, please. Ask them where they were and where they stood in December 2020.
Trump is leaving his presidency with nearly half of the country giving him a good or ok approval rating. Trumpism will continue as a force even without an official bully voice in the White House. His loyal supporters are facing a choice. Keep up their goal of attempting to hold on.to. the governance by their racial cohorts even when they cease to be the majority as long as they can. Or they can learn to tolerate and live with a diverse society. The temptation will be to embrace dictatorship and to hold on by force and oppression of "others.", History has shown us, that eventually, dictatorships end in blood and death when the majority uprises against them.
Why worry about the rule of an autocrat, a tyrant, or a dictator anyway? Here is the way dictators govern. as I have seen them as a foreign student and married to a refugee, in post-war, pre-wall Berlin to Yugoslavia under Tito. Dictators, Communist, fascists, or the just plain power-hungry say what the law is and how it's interpreted, who gets prosecuted, and why, including using it to discipline disloyalty to the dictator himself and suppression of the opposition press. Dictators can be as corrupt as they want, including committing bribery and extortion and padding an extravagant, privileged lifestyle. Their tools to maintain power are the use of fear, revenge, punishment, murder, and imprisonment as well as rewarding loyalty with position and privilege. No one is reporting about corruption in the press or is the legislature looking over their shoulders. Legislators would have passed the great Leader's test of loyalty to get their position in the first place. Only approved media outlets are allowed and permitted so long as they report the Leaders' version of the truth. Those who would like regime change can count on elections being rigged, really rigged. Forget free and fair elections. The judges and justices they appoint are in the great Leader's' pocket who expect favors returned. In extreme cases, your citizen's words of criticism of the great Leader uttered in private or in public are considered treason and will make you unemployable and feel lucky if you do not end up in jail. You live in constant fear of an informant outing you and a knock at the door in the middle of the night. The only recourse is to take to the streets at best or a bloody civil war at worse. Goodbye, peaceful transitions. Expect the military to intervene to suppress demonstrators because their generals have already sworn their loyalty to the great Leader and their ranks have been purged. In short, individuals are not free to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.
Sunday, December 13, 2020
The two Supreme Court justices who did not join in to dismiss the Texas case made it clear they approved of the procedural right to bring the suit, but disapproved of the substance of the case. For those who take comfort in that, you would have lost in any case if a SCOTUS vote had ever happened.
The idiocy of the substance if it were upheld means the precedence would have been set for Texas to sue Colorado for having years of universal mail-in voting. Their case: would have to be on the basis that Texas was harmed someway. Perhaps it was because they opposed the electoral college vote results and all Colorado's mail-in ballots de facto were fraudulent?