Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Cause

Before Science, treating the symptoms of an illness was all we had. Along our way, using trial and error, we found a few things that worked. The big breakthroughs came when we started to look for the causes of an illness. The association of an illness with toxins was deducible. Then, as we knew more and could see farther, we found that most of our physical illnesses were caused by such other things as bacteria, and viruses.

Still and yet, we see attempts to treat illnesses symptomatically. It wasn’t that long ago President Ford wanted to the nation to deal with the swine flu by treating the symptoms. Only yesterday, President Trump wanted us to treat the symptoms of COVID-19 with whatever occurred to him. At first look, it might seem that this approach could be cost effective. That look was 300,000 dead wrong. The most proximate cause of all these deaths was a Corona Virus, COVID-19. The cause next proximate was the refusal to acknowledge the first. The President didn’t want to acknowledge the reality of the pandemic. The people didn’t want to make the necessary changes to their lifestyles. Those 300,000 and more unnecessary deaths could have been prevented by acknowledging and addressing the pandemic, the cause.

Economics was the reason most often given for not addressing the cause of these unnecessary deaths. But good economics would have mandated the expenditures necessary to quickly produce one-billion N95 face masks, and install needed workplace safeguards. Just as good economics would mandate looking to the cause of our inequities and disparities in income and wealth.

Politics is another area where looking to the cause is of utmost importance. With such matters as the electoral college, the inherently unrepresentative Senate, and qualifications for the office of President; treating the symptoms of these flaws in the constitution isn’t even a short term solution. The Senate impeachment vote is a case in point: 34 GOP senators representing 34% of the Senate votes but just 14.5% of population could have blocked the conviction of a president who tried to violently overthrow American democracy. The flaws in the electoral college, not the people, selected Donald Trump in 2016.

The treating of social ills seems to bring out the worst in us. We are want to treat the consequences, the symptoms, of poverty, disparity, and injustice with increased policing, incarceration, …, when we should be looking to the causes.

If we are to successfully deal with climate change, we must address the causes of climate change.

Lil·li·pu·tians

The Slightly Less Than August

Back in the days of Adm. Rickover’s Navy, we were taught the technical term CRUD for the radioactive metallic deposits found in the reactor’s coolant system, that the word stood for Chalk River Undetermined Deposits, Chalk River being a river in Canada with a Nuclear Lab named after it, which was mostly true excepting maybe the part about heavy water. This was long, long before the Republican Party started sending the likes of: Richard Shelby, Tommy Tuberville, Dan Sullivan, John Boozman, Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio, Rick Scott, Mike Crapo, Jim Risch, Todd Young, Mike Braun, Chuck Grassley, Joni Ernst, Jerry Moran, Roger Marshall, Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul, John Kennedy, Susan Collins, Roy Blunt, Josh Hawley, Steve Daines, Deb Fischer, Tom Tillis, John Hoeven, Kevin Cramer, Rob Portman, Jim Inhofe, James Lankford, Lindsey Graham, Tim Scott, John Thune, Mike Rounds, Marsha Blackburn, Bill Hagerty, John Cornyn, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Shelley Moore Capito, Ron Johnson, John Barrasso, and Cynthia Lummis to the US Senate.

Crud sounds right, has that certain ring. This lot is also remindful of Swift’s Lilliputians, a small, mean people. Some of the synonyms for Lilliputian are: illiberal, insular, narrow, narrow-minded, petty, sectarian, small minded, … Speaking of sectarian, what does Trump have on Kevin McCarthy?

From the Idiots are Coming to The Idiots are Here. The invasion began with Gingrich’s War on America. Instead of capable representatives, some states began sending cultural representatives to deal with the governance of the Nation. Never mind that some of the cultures was suspect, nor that some of those sent weren’t genuine anything, excepting, maybe sorry. Their culture could be described as being Ignorant and Damned Proud of It. It has come to this; a majority of Republican Congress Members who are not of much account.

Yet, why would forty some US Senators vote to acquit a man they know full well to be guilty of inciting an insurrection against the US Congress? Never mind the CYA he’s out of office, it was settled early, constitutionally, by procedural vote; it is really only being used as cover. As in, cover me I’m going in? Hardly. These are neither people of good character, nor of bravery. These are those of the type who always think of themselves first. After all, their very careers were at stake. To hell with America.

Perhaps they were afraid of being primaried, of losing their job. The effectiveness with which the Tea Party, circa 2009, employed the art of Tyranny by Minority was not lost on one Donald J. Trump. With a small minority, one could crush a primary candidate. Trump saw that he could extort the whole of the Republican Party with such a threat; that neither the party nor a candidate could win without his minority of deplorables.

Twice now we have seen a Senate Trial of Donald Trump. Twice now we have seen almost half of a jury refuse to consider the evidence; needn’t bother, their minds were already made up. Believe is something you choose to do. Nothing hard about that; any child could manage. This was a task for statesmen, people of good character. This lot simply wasn’t up to the task.

Bipartisanship

Dear Judy,

I just want to let you know that I’m here for you on your problem with bipartisanship, and to apologize for not being there for you when you were struggling so with your problem with her emails.

As far as I’ve been able to determine, to date: Partisans were a subspecies of humans found mostly in the forests of middle-europe during the mid-twentieth century. I did use were, but, to be honest, it isn’t known for certain whether or not they are extinct. Skeletal remains of both male and female adults, and partial skeletal remains of what are thought to be teenagers, are still being found today. Here’s the thing, breeding pairs of partisans were known as bipartisans. Isn’t that exciting? There is no historical record, at least none that I could find on Google, of how and where they reared their young. So, this remains an unknown at this time.

I hope this helps. Again, my apologies for letting you down on the her emails thing.

Sincerely yours,

A. Viewer

N95s

Turns out that the best weapon against the COVID-19 virus was, and still is, the N95 face mask. If this wasn’t known from the start, it should have been. We, the greatest nation on earth, the greatest nation that has ever been, were, and still are, dependent on China, and South Korea, for N95 masks. Couldn’t even get enough N95s in those early days of the pandemic for our front-line healthcare workers. During those early weeks, doubling 1,000 new daily infections meant 2,000 infections could be expected soon. We have just watched November 2020’s 67,000 become January 2021’s 260,000. Yet, we haven’t tooled up. Still, we aren’t self-sufficient for N95 face masks. Yet, we are not handing out free N95 face masks. How many lives would have been saved if we, the greatest nation ever, had tooled up and produced enough N95 masks for every one of us by last April? And, if we had required their wearing? How many front-line healthcare workers’ lives could have been saved? How many American lives would be saved if every American had access to free N95s and wore them?

Now, one year in, it seems obvious that it is better to be self-sufficient when it comes to vaccines. Looking back, it is obvious that we would have been better off to have been able to produce our own N95 masks in sufficient quantities.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/02/05/us/covid-peak-comparison.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

Shades of Greene

Even Scalia said that there could be restrictions, so how is that someone as certifiable as Marjorie Taylor-Greene got that gun permit? Anywhere? Even Milledgeville, Capital of Georgia, 1804 to 1868? Too bad that the founders didn’t see fit to keep someone so unfit out of Congress. “No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.” Never mind the he, surely and who shall not, when elected, be of good mind must be at least as important as be an Inhabitant?

What are we to make of the newly elected Congresswoman who is a believer in QAnon, a disproven and discredited far-right conspiracy theory alleging that a secret cabal of Satan-worshiping, cannibalistic pedophiles is running a global … , and posts a video of herself harassing David Hogg, a Parkland Shooting survivor? What are we to make of the people who sent her to Congress?

We’ve no evidence that Walt Kelly ever went to Georgia, but he did work for Walt Disney and did draw comics about swamps. However it came to be, Walt Kelly was one prescient son of a gun. Indirectly, we owe him for Doonesbury, Bloom County and Opus, and Sherman’s Lagoon. But his biggest gift of all was his Pogo’s “WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY AND HE IS US.”

What is to be done about these states that send the likes of Majorie, Lauren, Lindsey, Marsha, Tommy, Mo, … to represent them in Congress?

Transcript of MJT’s speech on House floor on 2/4/2021

https://www.rev.com/blog/transcripts/marjorie-taylor-greene-house-floor-speech-transcript-hearing-to-remove-greene-from-committee-assignments

How We Got Here

From the lowest common denominator down

The unbound political ambition we see in the likes of Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Nikki Haley, Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio, …, reminds those of us old enough to remember of Richard Nixon. It was but a small step from Nixon’s whatever it takes ambition-driven politics to appealing to the lowest common denominator. A step he took; the first Presidential Candidate to do so in a while. FDR, HST, DDE, JFK, and LBJ; none of them did. But, from Nixon on, all Republican Presidents have. Appealing to the lowest common denominator has become the Republican Party’s political stock and trade.

Back then, the lowest common denominator was seen as being those who got their news, if they consumed any news at all, from the National Enquirer, People, Entertainment, …, the Sports Page; that great swath of the public who were ill informed and poorly educated. Nothing wrong with that. Some of them were racist, bigots; so was much of the rest of the Nation. This, the racism and bigotry, was something the Nation together was working on. We are after all a democracy; and, in the main, other some of their Archie Bunker tendencies, they were good, honest, hard-working people. But things were changing for them, for the whole of the working class. They may not have understood what was happening, (Who did?), but they could and did sense it. The factories with the good-paying jobs were beginning to close. They were having to compete harder for the remaining jobs, maybe take less pay. More and more, the husband and wife both needed to work to support a household. Worse, their children’s future wasn’t as bright as their own had been.

Senate Trump Committee

If ever there was a time for a Senate, and a House, Investigative Committee on anything, it’s now. The Nation needs, the world is waiting, history is begging, for such. This Nation, the world, wants and needs to know, to understand, what happened, how did it happen, and what should be done to prevent its happening ever again? What in the hell is going on in America?

Oh ‘twould be nice to find another Senator Sam Ervin, a Lowell Weicker, … before beginning the hearings.  Nice, but it’s not at all necessary. Senators Whitehouse, Durbin, Klobuchar, Blumenthal, et al will do nicely, and, anyway, the both, Ervin and Weicker, will be there in spirit; wouldn’t miss it for anything. As for the House Committee, who can ever forget Barbara Jordan? Peter Rodino? For sure, no one who ever heard and saw them. The likes of those two will be difficult, maybe impossible to find in the House in this year of our world. But, the both, too, for sure, will be there in spirit.

The Less Than Supreme Court

How Recent Supreme Court Decisions Have

Damaged Both the Court and the Constitution

There’s a pattern:

In November of 2000, immediately following the very close, highly contested, presidential contest between George W. Bush and Al Gore, John Roberts, a lawyer in private practice who had clerked for Chief Justice Rehnquist, rushed to Florida to be legal adviser to then Governor Jeb Bush during the to be decisive Florida recount; a recount decided not by the counting of ballots but by Reagan Appointee Justice Scalia’s bullying the court into its halting. Six months later, now President George W. Bush nominated the aforementioned John Roberts for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals only to be rebuffed by a Democratic Senate Majority. When Republicans regained Senate Majority in January 2003, Bush renominated Roberts; this time, he was confirmed. In 2005, President Bush successfully nominated John Roberts for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. After all, he owed him.

Justice Thomas was chosen by George H. W. Bush to replace the retiring civil rights icon, Justice Thurgood Marshall. Clarence Thomas was chosen because of his ultra-conservative republican bona fides, his being black, and the unlikeliness of his being another Justice David Souter.

Justice Alito was chosen by George W. Bush because of his ultra-conservative republican bona fides; and the unlikeliness of his being another Justice David Souter.

Unity

“Unity,” they cried. “First, we must have unity.” “Whose unity shall we have, yours or mine,” I asked?

Knowing there was a Unitarian Church nearby, I stopped by and asked the minister. This ordinate tells me that theirs is all about a god of one; a unity god. Always wondered.

Is there such a thing as unity of minds? A singularity? Called up an old physicist friend; says it’s something to do with essence, he thinks.

This unity you are demanding, can you please tell us what you mean by unity?

David Graham at the Atlantic on The matter:

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/01/why-are-republicans-being-so-divisive/617648/

About Time

About Time

Stacey Abrams on Biden’s leadership, Georgia’s election and challenging voter suppression, PBS New Hour January 21, 2021

Judy Woodruff:

And, in fact, what we saw in 2020 and at the end of the election, President Trump and the people who support him making almost the opposite argument, that too much has been done to go out and to make sure minority voters can vote, people who may not be citizens can vote, they claim.

How — I mean, there’s a wave of belief out there today that something went wrong in this election. They’re coming at it basically from the opposite direction.

  • Stacey Abrams:

I wouldn’t put this in terms of opposite direction. I would put this in terms of truth and lie.

We know that it is true that voters have been purged from the rolls, thousands of whom should never have been removed. We know that there are communities that experience multihour lines, when communities that are better situated and whiter have a faster attempt and a faster capacity.

We know that the issues of voter suppression played out in plain sight when we saw state after state try to force people to go to the polls in unsafe conditions, rather than allowing them to use the safety of voting by mail.

Then you have the lies that were told by Donald Trump and by his adherents. We had more than 60 lawsuits where evidence could not be produced. We saw Donald Trump himself at the outset of his administration convene a voting fraud task force and dismantle it because they could not find proof.

There has been absolutely no proof of widespread voter fraud. It did not happen. And, this year, Republican leaders acknowledged that that was true.

And so the moment we create this false equivalence between voter suppression, which has been baked into our nation since its inception, and voter fraud, which largely in the 20th century and 21st centuries has been a figment of imagination, then we cannot give them equal time and equal measure.

We have to dismiss and push back against voter fraud, so we can focus on ensuring that every eligible citizen in the United States of America has the same ease of voting, no matter who they are, where they live, or the color of their skin.