Political Beliefs Can Kill You

I and a group of friends took part in a “Ridin’ with Biden” campaign event last October in Florida. We came across a group of Trump supporters camped out in front of an early voting location and I put my large megaphone out the window of the car and yelled, “He’s going to kill you! He’s going to kill you!” The trumpers were oblivious to the way Trump’s Covid-19 policies were hurting and killing us. I get it, they love him and trust him with their grandmother’s lives. Why? It’s all part of a populism religion they decided to follow.

This sectarian concept has overtaken large portions of our country and our elected representatives. Sectarianism is a political or cultural conflict between two groups often related to their form of government. Prejudice, discrimination or hatred can arise in these conflicts, depending on the political status quo and which group holds more power within the government. One of the worst parts of America’s current populism is a constant war on science. By denigrating experts, big, strong-man populist leader Donald Trump first gets the attention of the downtrodden workers and eventually entices them to seek his advice rather than that of credentialed, knowledgeable experts.

Fareed Zakaria

Fareed Zakaria wrote in the Washington Post in March of 2020, “Trump, for his part, fuels fears by constantly talking about how the disease came from China and how he heroically saved American lives because he ‘closed the borders to China’ in late January, 2020. Thank goodness he doesn’t seem to know that the H1N1 virus was first detected in Mexico. If he did, he might close the border with Mexico, just to be safe.” Donald Trump has never trusted any opinion that is opposed to his own viewpoint.

Zakaria came back to that discussion on his CNN show yesterday morning. His experts were fair to point out that not all populist leaders in the world denied the danger of Covid, but they often tend to rebuke experts, disconnect from science and make decisions based on what they think their followers will swallow, rather than the truth. In the beginning of the pandemic, Indian’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi was rather draconian with the lockdown and those polices kept the virus at bay. Then, he made the same mistake Trump did by pushing to reopen the country too soon. This caused a crisis of pain and death that will probably destroy his political career.

Brazil has a leader who was in total denial of the coronavirus and mingled with people at rallies, shook hands and called Covid-19, “just a little flu,” until he got it himself. He then softened his misdirection but continued to blame everyone else for what was happening in his country. The more people listened to him the more people died. He repeatedly fired his national health directors and appointed replacements, believing mismanagement was causing the spread of the virus.

Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro

At this point, Brazil has more than 14.7 million people infected and more than 400,000 have died. Right now, India has more than 350,000 new cases each day and a total of 19.5 million infections with more than 215,000 deaths. We don’t know how many people have died in China or Russia, where dictators make policies. Some say that China, where the virus originated, has only 4,636 deaths. In a country of 1.4 billion that’s a totally unbelievable number.

Some sources say that Russia has 109,000 deaths, which makes more sense than the China statistic. Remember, Russia has a population of 145 million people. We know the case counts of democracies are more accurate. We also know that overzealous populist leaders, irresponsible state governors and state-run media have cooked the books on Covid-19. But as the World Health Organization puts more pressure on nations to cough up current statistics, we learn more about the effect of this virus on the planet.

The democracies of the U.K. and Israel had some rough coronavirus moments, but also amazing accomplishments. The U.K. was on the edge of disaster and Prime Minister Boris Johnson came down with a wicked case of Covid-19. In the U.K. currently, more than 34 million people have had a first vaccine dose and over 14 million have had a second. An average of 415,000 second doses are now being given daily. The National Health Service in the U.K. is very organized and thorough. For example, 98% of the people over age 50 in Scotland have received at least one vaccination already. The lowest percentage in that same category is London, with 87%.

Israel has done a fantastic job with vaccinations. As of May 2, 2021, Israel had fully vaccinated 87.3% of its population. Even with 900,000 people who contracted coronavirus in the country, they had only 6,363 known deaths. That is a particularly good outcome in a country of 9 million. Perhaps their general population has more awareness of science and medicine.

Populism attracts people who often reject things based on status or labels. If an intellectual in medicine is presented as an elitist by a populous leader, their followers tend to adopt the simple lie rather than the complicated realities of math, science and medicine. It’s interesting to note that a person doesn’t have to be less educated to take on a belief counter to well-known and proven facts. Steve Jobs denied conventional medical wisdom and it killed him. The word we should focus on is “wisdom.”

We all want our leaders to apply a sense of experience, knowledge and good judgment to their actions or decisions, but in some cases, they may not have enough knowledge or experience to act effectively. Where they lack knowledge, they must trust and depend on others for facts and guidance. If they don’t have good judgement, they might take advice from people who are totally full of shit. The quality of judgement is evaluated after the fact. Leaders talk of using their “best” judgement, but they cannot say it’s good judgement until their action bears fruit.

India’s Narendra Modi

India’s populist leader Narendra Modi made good choices in the beginning, but since the country was organized around a strict caste system the first wave of Covid-19 hit the lower classes and then slowed. When Modi began believing his own press, he opened the country to political rallies and large religious events, which was not only bad judgement but fatal to thousands.

Bad choices and ignoring science have consequences. This from Reuters, “The incumbent chief minister’s party in India’s West Bengal state has defeated Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party in a state election held as the coronavirus pandemic surged to crisis levels. Modi has been criticized for focusing on the elections instead of making the pandemic his top priority.” So, there’s another populist who cares more about power than people. Bye, Bye!

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Gold, God, Guns & Goofballs: If you only read one chapter of this book, try “Take a Knee for America” and think about our never-ending conflicts between minorities and the police. I’m not asking you to take a stand but having a deep and honest conversation about why some people think the way they do would be productive. This is a book for the moment which seeks to start a conversation about peace. And if you are worried about social media, you really should check out the chapter called “Social Media Menace.”

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Blame-demic Infects White House

I have no hesitation sharing my thought that Donald Trump has no moral grounding and is far from being the Christian he portrays on TV. I am totally ashamed of not only our President, but those of the faith who have fallen for this conman. I will stop short of calling him the antichrist, but some of his vindictive actions and far-fetched lies really do put him in league with the devil.

Fingerpointer vs. Whistleblower

Yesterday, the President of the United States stood in the Rose Garden and spewed an elaborate, convoluted propaganda that blamed the COVID-19 totally on the World Health Organization. His words were wasted. The WHO is not going away, see here. Oh, Trump will huff and puff and hold back the next payment, but the WHO will not stop working on investigating and disseminating information to help all nations. Trump needs an enemy or he dies. He has decided to cover up his inaction and delinquent policies by blaming others for his own malfeasance. Once we pull out of W.H.O., China will be their biggest donor. What is Trump doing?

Someone I hardly agree with, until he decided to run against Donald Trump for President, is that conservative talk show guy, Joe Walsh (not the guitarist). This was his Tweet today: “It’s not Obama. It’s not CNN. It’s not Pelosi & Schumer. It’s not the deep state. It’s not China. It’s not impeachment. It’s not Dr Fauci. It’s not the World Health Organization. It’s Donald Trump. HE ignored the warnings. HE refused to prepare. HE lied to the American people.” Just when Trump was moving forward with his rhetoric on reopening the country, he threw the WHO under the bus and attempted to walk away from his guilt. He cannot hide and we will never forget. We must honor those who have died.

There is a great video clip of Donald Trump being interviewed by CNN’s Anderson Cooper, where Anderson says to Trump, “That’s a childish argument.” Trump’s comeback? “He started it first.” That says it all. The first thing a young child learns is to place blame elsewhere to avoid punishment or pain. Donny Trump is just a 7-year-old trying to blame others for his glaring inadequacies. The defects of the Donald are far more ingrained than what any doctor could imagine. There must of have been significant amounts of harassment or abuse from his mother or father in his early childhood. His competitive nature is off the rails and not at all natural. He not only wants to win; he must make someone else pay for any negative, personal criticism.

People will kick up a lot of dust because Trump demanded that his signature be on all the stimulus checks going to Americans during these “uncertain” times. WHO CARES? I spend paper money with Steven Mnuchin’s signature on it and I think he’s a pencil-necked elitist pig! Get the check, cash the check and shut up. More than 80 million people have direct deposit anyway. By the way, don’t thank Donald Trump for the money. It’s coming to you because of a bi-partisan bill voted for by both chambers of Congress and signed into law by Donald Trump. It’s not his money, it’s YOUR MONEY, and when it’s all used up, you can blame Donald Trump for all the future problems. After you pay the rent with the one check, what will you do next month?

People in high places blaming other people promote more blaming, and that circle of finger pointing is so unproductive. I just watched a TV spot where the son of Billy Graham, Franklin, was trying to comfort us with the words of a preacher. Then he asked us to pray by opening with an admission to God that we are all sinners. REALLY? While people are suffering and dying, Mr. Graham wants us to take some blame for the pandemic? This is no time for Old Testament blame, Franklin. Even in the Bible, where you cannot blame something on another person or God, you can blame the construct of a devil. Evil vs. Good. World Health Organization officials are now blaming China for not telling them the truth. I guess shit rolls downhill. While our Defense Department hints that a bat in a laboratory might have been the source of the pandemic, all we get is Blame, Blame, Blame.

Could you image if Donald Trump stood before us and said that it wasn’t his fault that we waited six to eight weeks to get serious about the pandemic; it was the devil’s fault? Like the husband caught cheating on his wife starts his defense with, “The devil made me do it.”

A Great American President

Of course, Trump has already answered the question of why America wasn’t prepared for a pandemic and our inadequate testing abilities, “I don’t take responsibility at all!” And there it is. Harry Truman famously had ae sign on his desk with the phrase “the Buck Stops Here,” meaning that if things don’t work right, it’s his responsibility. The phrase “my responsibility” is not same as “my fault.” That might seem like a nuanced word play, but either way Trump doesn’t understand his own job description.

The other countries in the world will continue to fund the World Health Organization and, if you hate Trump, you could send them a donation. If you care about virus and sickness and helping people, go here and give them some money directly. If you want to confront Donald Trump’s lies and deceitful policies, you can tweet and scream and yell, but in the end, you must vote the asshole out of office. And if you believe the WHO is the last receiver of blame from Trump, don’t hold your breath. Tomorrow he will have someone or something else to blame for everything that has and will go wrong. Now that he has taught me how easy it is to do, I BLAME DONALD TRUMP FOR EVERYTHING BAD THAT HAS HAPPENED IN AMERICA. There, that felt good!

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