Saturday, October 31, 2020

Minority Rule














It's been going on for a while now.  Most of us remember that dreary day in December 2000 when the Supreme Court of the United States instructed the state of Florida to stop counting votes as Bush's lead in the recount of the state dropped to 537 votes.  Thus, Albert Gore would win the popular vote that year by a half a million votes and yet  lose the election by five electoral votes 271 to 266; thus making him the first person since Grover Cleveland (another D) in 1888 to win the popular vote but lose in the Electoral College.

Republicans have lost the popular vote in six out of the seven last presidential elections.  Yet they now have a super majority in the Supreme Court. When Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the United States Supreme Court by a vote of 50–48,  Only one Democrat, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, voted with the  Republican majority, which represented just 44 percent of the country’s population

Indeed, when Americans last voted for their senators (over a period of six years), Democrats won the popular vote by more than 8 percent. It’s that disproportionality—and the reality that a majority of the country’s population is represented by just 18 senators that demonstrates that both the Presidency and the Senate can be dominated by a Republican minority.

Because of gerrymandering, even the House of Representatives no longer conforms fully to principles of majority representation. At least one report says Democrats need to win by double digits to gain a majority. By contrast, Republicans could win just 45 to 46 percent of the overall House vote and still hold on to the lower chamber.

 And they are a minority.

 As of May 2020, Gallup polling found that 31% of Americans identified as Democrats, 25% identified as Republican, and 40% as Independent.[3] However, polling showed that 50% are either "Democrats or Democratic leaners" and 38% are either "Republicans or Republican leaners" when Independents are asked "do you lean more to the Democratic Party or the Republican Party?

And we wonder why the R's want to suppress the vote?

And why Democrats want everyone to vote?

There is a general rule that turnouts of 60% or above will bring a Democratic victory.  Turnouts below 55% almost always bring a Republican President.  Between 55% and 59 % is a toss up. Turnout in 2000 was under 55%.  2016 turnout was 57%. Total votes in 2016 was over 130 million. (Hillary 66 M, Trump 63M)

As of tonight, is looks like the early vote will get close to 100 million, well beyond any other year -primarily due to the Pandemic.  In Texas, there are already more early votes than votes in all of 2016. This may make Texas actually in play as a battleground state.

This from the Austin Independent:

"Texas has burst into the national headlines over the last few days for something absolutely, totally unprecedented — high voter turnout. More Texans voted early this year than voted in the entire 2016 election — that is more than the 2016 early, mail-in and election day vote combined. As readers have probably seen, this transformed Texas into a swing state in the 2020 presidential election. Move over Florida and Pennsylvania. (clip)

Trump simply cannot win a second term without winning Texas. And, I simply cannot avoid pointing out that back on March 1, in the Independent’s first issue, I wrote

Imagine if Texas went blue: the networks would likely call the race right then. . . If and when it did happen, people all over the nation, all over the world, would burst into the streets to celebrate. The focus would then shift to whether Donald Trump will accept the verdict of American voters and peacefully vacate the White House come January 20, 2021.”

The Cook Report says that Biden is going to win. They even believe that the Senate will flip.

Michael Moore even says it.

Go vote and bring a friend.

Let's end minority rule.

Before it gets really scary.


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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Eight is Enough



 

 

 

 



It's hard to not notice how political our third branch of government has become.  True, the Chief Justice has ruled with the liberals several times this year, but this is a rarity.  Since the passing of  RBG last month, the R's are shitting all over themselves trying to get another far right judge to replace the lion of the left.

But do we really need a ninth justice? This from Politico: It argues that an even-numbered court would probably be more functional and less divided.

"As it happens, an even-numbered Supreme Court was good enough for the Founders and the first Congress. The Constitution does not specify how many justices should serve on the Supreme Court; it is up to Congress to determine the number. The very first Congress created a six-person court (one chief justice and five associate justices) when it passed the Judiciary Act of 1789.

The court’s path from six justices to nine was not a straight one. Two years after the nation’s first Judiciary Act, President John Adams and his Federalist allies shifted the court from six justices to five. Soon after, President Thomas Jefferson and Republicans returned the court’s size to six justices. Congress added a seventh justice in 1807. Congress again expanded the size of the court to nine justices 30 years later and to 10 justices during the Civil War. After the war, Congress reduced the court’s size to nine justices—where it stands today.

The Founders, and members of the first Congress, like Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, would not be familiar with our reliance on today’s nine-member Supreme Court to resolve our most controversial issues. In Federalist 78, Hamilton observed of the court that it “is beyond comparison the weakest” of the three federal branches. 

This is not true in our present world.  And the R's have been the most aggressive in making it so.

Ruth Ginsburg was confirmed with 90 votes.  But since the Republican majority changed the rules in 2017 to allow for filibusters of Supreme Court nominations to be broken with only 51 votes rather than 60, confirmation has been highly partisan. The precedent for this action had been set in November 2013, when the Democrats, who then held the majority, changed the rules, lowering the threshold for advancing nominations to lower court and executive branch positions from 60 votes to a simple majority, but they explicitly excluded Supreme Court nominations from the change.  McConnell changed that.

Consequently with that critical change, the Senate ultimately confirmed Gorsuch's nomination to the Supreme Court by a 54–45 vote on April 7, 2017. One year later, the Senate voted 50–48 to confirm Kavanaugh's nomination. And the vote for our newest justice will be just as close as 2 R's say that we should wait until the election to appoint a new justice.  

All of us remember the callous lies that were spawned as the Republican McConnell led senate refused to hear President Obama's nominee in the last 10 months of his term because it's "only right to let the voters decide". And remember, Harry Reed changed the rules because the R's had blocked  hundreds of Obama's lower court judges for six years. Consequently, Trump inherited over 100 vacancies when he was sworn in.

In less than four years Trump has appointed about 200 judges, where Obama appointed  just 300 in 8 years.

 Now with the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the court is about to fundamentally change with the announcement of Amy Coney Barrett.

This from the NYT:

WASHINGTON — President Trump introduced Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court on Saturday, presenting her as a champion of conservative judicial principles and igniting a partisan and ideological battle to confirm her before the election in just 38 days.

During an early evening ceremony in the Rose Garden with Judge Barrett at his side and her husband and seven children in the audience, Mr. Trump said she would make decisions “based on the text of the Constitution as written” much as her mentor, Justice Antonin Scalia, the icon of legal conservatives for whom she once clerked, had done.

“She is a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials and unyielding loyalty to the Constitution,” Mr. Trump said, making his third Supreme Court nomination in his nearly four years in office. At stake in her nomination is the future of gun rights, religious liberty and public safety, he added, as he pressed for historically rapid action by the Senate. “This should be a straightforward and prompt confirmation,” he said.

What he didn't say was that she had Covid this summer. And the super spreader event that arose from that maskless, zero socially distanced show of Republican exuberance and greed now counts over 25 top level folks from the administration, including the POTUS himself who now have Covid 19.  

He also didn't say that Judge Barrett is a Catholic. But did you know that including Gorsuch who was raised Catholic, that will mean seven catholic justices? Catholics are only 23% of the population. I remember the day when JFK couldn't be elected because he was beholding to the Pope.  Now, a super majority of the highest court in the land is beholding to their Catholic faith.  The  remaining justices are of Jewish faith.

But, Amy Barrett is not just a Catholic.  She is a full Gospel, tongue talking, faith healing, Pentecostal light Catholic. They call themselves People of Praise.

From the Nation:

"Barrett’s religious views themselves would not be of concern, if we didn’t have ample evidence that they influence her legal views. And it’s important to note that People of Praise is significantly more restrictive than Catholicism. Cult experts say it’s not a cult. (clip)

But there is no denying that the group opposes abortion and gay marriage and bars “out” LGBT people from membership. Its South Bend school, Trinity, where Barrett was on the board for several years, teaches male and female students separately and prohibits dating. In 2017, The New York Times reported that while group members confirmed that Barrett and her husband were part of People of Praise—in fact, both their fathers had been leaders—she didn’t disclose her membership in Senate confirmation"

Considering it was RBG's last request  that we wait for the next president to appoint her replacement, it seems that adding Judge Barrett to an already Catholic heavy court with less than a month before the election is a moral sin

Maybe the Pope would agree.

Or at least be agnostic about it. 

Let's leave it at eight.

Eight is Enough


 






 

 

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Monday, August 31, 2020

Monsters Fall


 


I was driving my new Tesla down a quiet street when all of a sudden out of nowhere a large black suburban pulled up behind me.  Then the lights went on, but they weren't normal police lights, they were blue with flashes of white.  I figured at first that I was being stopped because my temporary paper plates from Tesla were now a month out of date.  It's weird, Elon Musk and his bunch can land a spent booster rocket on a tiny platform on the ocean, but they can't seem to get me license plates.  They build great cars, but their customer service doesn't just stink, its dead.  Some day it will catch up to them.

Well, it turns out that it wasn't my out of date license plate.

Two cop like guys come up to my car and look down at me through the glass roof.  Then one comes around to the driver side.  I push the window button.

"Are you Oz" the voice asks?

"My friends call me that."

"Step out of the car please."

When I do, someone puts a bag around my head and then I feel a little zing in my back.


I wake up really groggy in a king bed in a nice high rise hotel suite.  I think it may have been the Adolphus based on the 100 year old architecture and what looked like that new A T and T  World Headquarters across the street behind the drawn shear curtains.  There were two chairs with a room service dining table in the middle of the room.

I hear a commotion in the adjourning room and then this brooding, overweight high school football coach looking guy with a 50's haircut walks into the room favoring his right leg just a little.


It was the Orange POTUS.

"Are you OZ?"

"My friends call me that."

"You know I have the best words, the best people, the best ideas, the best...And my people tell me that both little Bush and "I can't say his name" had meetings with you before being re-elected.  They were both secret meetings, but we found them in the SS logs, so I told them to pick you up.  Sorry for the bag, that's just the way it has to be you know".

"I'm listening."

"So why did you meet with them?"

"It was their call, I think they read my writings and they decided they wanted my honest opinion about things."

"I don't read."

"I know."

"Well they both got re-elected after talking to you, so I want what you got."

"Are you paying?"

"I don't pay."

"I know"

So tell me, how do I get re-elected?

 I thought for a moment.

"Do what you are doing.  Double down on the White Power, continue to deny the pandemic, and racial injustice.  Keep attacking the press and continue to deny Climate Change. Bring those Q anon quack jobs into the White House.  Learn to make that little sign with your hands with just them noticing.  Keep calling Biden a left wing socialist.  Keep filing lawsuits in all the swing states to suppress voting.  Remember, D's win when the turnout is over 60%.  R's have a chance in the high 50s and win when its lower.  You squeaked by with a 58% turnout. It's like the law.

"Do you think I am a racist"

"No, you are an ass-hole."

He seemed to like that; I think a little crack of a creepy smile came across his puffy face.

"I see why the others have sought you out.  Should I start a war?"

"Your people won't like that, besides many of them would die and those that don't will come back damaged with the horrors they witnessed and perhaps committed."

"How about a race war?"

"Remember when Richard Nixon wanted to bomb the holy crap out of Laos and Vietnam and he asked Mr. K about it?"

"No, I don't read."

"Well, Kissinger told Nixon that he didn't think he would want to be remembered as a Butcher. It will definitely keep you off Rushmore."

"But the whites have most of the guns. The war will be over in weeks."

"That's what the South thought in the last Civil War.  Besides unlike Nixon, you won't be remembered as a Butcher, you will be remembered as a MONSTER."

I saw his eyes roll up to the ceiling, as if he was thinking.

After a moment he looked at me like he had heard enough. But I could tell that he was going to keep me alive.  He might need some more from me some day.

"Do you want some chicken tenders?"

"I'm good."

I got to go home without a bag over my head or a dart in my back. When I walked into the house,  Janelle asked me where I had been.

"Nowhere"

Are you lying?

"Pretty much."


Later that evening I remembered Monster's Ball, and how the movie depicted Hanks' amazing journey from high prison tension to sublime peace; how one can go (in the view of one movie reviewer) from death, misery, hatred, failures, superficial vigor and loneliness to a new worldview of compassion, sharing, faith, intense perceptions, hope, love and togetherness.

I looked up into the stars.

And I thanked them.

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Friday, July 31, 2020

The Way We Were



 

It seems like a year or maybe more since this dang Covid stuff started.  It hasn't even been six months.  My partner said it was a little like Ground Hog Day.  I said Ground Hog Day is good.  That's what we want.  We're alive, relatively content, and we are even beginning to see a few people in the flesh instead of on Zoom.  We've convinced ourselves that we can eat outdoors with another couple that's as insular as we are.  We run a fan across the table between us.  We toast with arms fully outstretched.

Almost always we cook outside too.  We've honed our skills to start cooking the corn or the sweet potatoes early, then we add the meat and the other vegetables the last 15 minutes or so.  Only rarely do folks even come into the house. We drink good wine, sip good tequila, and enjoy a $500.00 meal for about $100.00.

I've written two songs over the last few months.  One is "Corona Virus".

Corona Virus
It wants to eat you
Corona Virus
It wants to teach you
Corona Virus
it wants to bring your town down.

The bridge goes,

We have got to learn to live together
We have got to see that all is one
We have got to  be and grieve together
Till the killings done
and the Earth is one.  

There are several verses but you get the idea.

The other song is "And Time it rolls On"
It's a love song with a very melancholy chorus.
Corona is guttural and scraping... Sounds like a Tom Waits song.
"Time it rolls on" is actually very pretty.

Several months ago, instead of just looking at the ceiling dealing with all the uncertainty in my head, I started writing another book. When I finish it, it will be my fifth.  Now, I get up 3 to 4 nights a week and work on it.  Much of it is written at Four in the Morning.

Meanwhile, we've started converting our carport into a nice screened in porch that connects with the outdoor dining room.  I think it's reasonable to say that we will be seeing our friends outside for quite a while longer and it will be nice to have a large screened in area with nice couches and even an outdoor fireplace.  We are also converting some outdoor closets into sleeping lofts just in case someone needs to spend the night.

Later this week, Dana will once again be on the hospital service.  This is the scary part of her job. Here, she is on the front line.  Her picture with all her garb on looks just like all the other pictures we see of health care workers risking their lives and families during this time we thought would never come.

She comes home, tosses her clothes into the washer, detoxes her shoes, and takes an outdoor shower down at the guest house on the creek.  Only then does she come into the house. Last week, I bought a $45.00 UVC bulb for the return air of our air-conditioning system.  I called around looking for one and only found one.  The guy at the AC supply store told me that as soon as he gets a pallet of them, they fly out the door in a day.

Texas surpassed New York just this weekend in total cases.  Most of last week, Texas had the most deaths of any state.  Here in Austin, where R's are outnumbered 2 to 1, we wear mask without mumbling mind numbing inanities about our rights.  Still the governor says they are optional.  Why don't we just go ahead and make stop signs optional too?

My purpose here is not some version of Tammy Wynette, where I feel like crap and I just want to share it with you.  Actually, it's just the opposite.  It's to point out that we are changing.  You are changing.  "Corona Virusit wants to break you, it wants to bake you, it wants to bring you to ground."

We are changing our thoughts on justice.  And Black lives must Matter!

We are changing the way we work.  How much we go out.  How much we drive.  Where and how we eat. The way we conduct business.  The way we go to the Doctor.  The way we shop.  The way we buy what we want.  The way we have it delivered.

As the poet says, The Times they are a changing:

Come gather 'round, people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin'
And you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'

About 46 years ago, I woke up and came to the conclusion that humankind was on a collision course with itself.  For whatever reason, I got myself together and made a life of trying to stop it. And somehow I divined that the big year would be 2020.  When it came, I was in San Francisco with my family. I hoped I would be wrong.

I'm not.

Noam Chomsky said it well on "Democracy Today" yesterday.

I mean, at every level, we are racing madly towards total catastrophe under the leadership of sociopathic fanatics. It’s as if some evil demon decided to take over the human species and drive them to self-destruction.

We can't return to the way we were.

We must evolve to the way we will be.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Dark Enough


 
Boris Izrailovich Anisfeld



I heard Willie Nelson say on NPR the other day that these times are the worst he's ever remembered.  He is older than most of us,  but he was too young to go the War.  And he was a little young to remember the great depression given he was born in 1933.

Things have been bad before.  The so called Spanish Flu, which probably came from American soldiers, was pretty rough. This from the CDC:

"The 1918 influenza pandemic was the most severe pandemic in recent history. It was caused by an H1N1 virus with genes of avian origin. Although there is not universal consensus regarding where the virus originated, it spread worldwide during 1918-1919.  In the United States, it was first identified in military personnel in spring 1918. It is estimated that about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with this virus. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States.

The US at 135,000 deaths is 1/5 of the way towards that number.

Mortality was high in people younger than 5 years old, 20-40 years old, and 65 years and older. The high mortality in healthy people, including those in the 20-40 year age group, was a unique feature of this pandemic. While the 1918 H1N1 virus has been synthesized and evaluated, the properties that made it so devastating are not well understood.

With no vaccine to protect against influenza infection and no antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections that can be associated with influenza infections, control efforts worldwide were limited to non-pharmaceutical interventions such as isolation, quarantine, good personal hygiene, use of disinfectants, and limitations of public gatherings, which were applied unevenly."

I used to know Willie back in the old Armadillo days.  As the owner of an advertising agency that catered to the 18 to 30 demographic, I promoted hundreds of shows and I sold thousands of pants through my Pants South account.  We even promoted Willie's first big picnic. I remember standing on the stage looking out at the crowd.  I had only about 30,000 tickets sold but my boy scout measurement of the crowd seemed to indicate twice that amount.

Someone was selling counterfeit tickets out on the road to the event.

Even so, those were great days.  We actually took the two suit cases of money to the Austin National Bank in the back of a red pick up truck bed.  I notified my banker that I was coming in and walked into the lobby with about a quarter of a million dollars.  We were nervous about the same hombres that set up shop out on the road, so the transfer was totally secret in the wide open.

That was about 47 years ago.  Willie was 40 and I was almost 24.

And we had a bad president then too.  Richard Nixon had just won a second term, totally destroying George McGovern.  This from Wikipedia:

Nixon emphasized the strong economy and his success in foreign affairs, while McGovern ran on a platform calling for an immediate end to the Vietnam War, and the institution of a guaranteed minimum income. Nixon maintained a large and consistent lead in polling. Separately, Nixon's reelection committee broke into the Watergate complex to wiretap the Democratic National Committee's headquarters, a scandal that would later be known as "Watergate". McGovern's campaign was further damaged by the revelation that his running mate, Thomas Eagleton, had undergone electroconvulsive therapy as a treatment for depression. Eagleton was replaced on the ballot by Sargent Shriver.

Nixon won the election in a landslide, taking 60.7% of the popular vote and carrying 49 states while being the first Republican to sweep the South. McGovern took just 37.5% of the popular vote.

It was about the time of Willie's picnic that Nixon's misdeeds were coming home to roost.  Things were bad, especially for Halderman and his colleagues:

Several major revelations and egregious presidential action against the investigation later in 1973 prompted the House to commence an impeachment process against Nixon.[9] The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Nixon must release the Oval Office tapes to government investigators. The tapes revealed that Nixon had conspired to cover up activities that took place after the break-in and had attempted to use federal officials to deflect the investigation.[10][11] The House Judiciary Committee then approved articles of impeachment against Nixon for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress. With his complicity in the cover-up made public and his political support completely eroded, Nixon resigned from office on August 9, 1974.  (Wikipedia)

Now, we have the pandemic of 1918 and the corruption of 1973 and Willie probably is right. This is about as bad as it gets. Well hold on there partner.

1918 was at the tail end of the Great War. You know, the one where we were taught that "The spark that ignited World War I was struck in Sarajevo, Bosnia, where Archduke Franz Ferdinand—heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire—was shot to death along with his wife, Sophie, by the Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip on June 28, 1914. Princip and other nationalists were struggling to end Austro-Hungarian rule over Bosnia and Herzegovina."

Actually, World War 1 started because the Germans were building a railroad through the Turkish Empire to the newly discovered riches of the middle east.   By the end of that war, not only did we have a pandemic, we had a completely reorganized Turkish Empire that had been carved up by French, British, and American diplomats so that all that new found oil would be available to us all.

The empire came to an end in the aftermath of its defeat by the Allies in World War I. It was officially abolished by the Government of the Turkish Grand National Assembly in Ankara in November 1922.

Throughout its more than 600 years of existence, the Ottoman Empire has left a profound legacy in the Middle East and Southeast Europe, as can be seen in the customs, culture, and cuisine of the various countries that were once part of its realm. (Wikipedia)

Things could get worse....way worse

And another Empire might be at stake.  As the Worst President in American history faces defeat, what mischief will he and his Maga hats initiate?

Willie might sing Turn out the Lights

I say, "Let's leave the Light On".

It's Dark Enough.




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Sunday, May 31, 2020

The Fire Devil



























Memorial Day this year was particularly poignant.  There was a keen sense of sadness and regret in the pungent political atmosphere.  By the end of May, in less than 60 days, over 100,000 Americans had their walk on this earth cut short because of the ineptitude of the UNPOTUS.

But days before, on May 25th, George Floyd, a 46 year old Houston raised black man died in Minneapolis after Derek Chauvin, a white Florida born police officer who votes Republican by mail in Florida even though he lives in Minnesota, assisted by three other officers, pressed his knee onto the neck of Floyd, depriving Floyd of oxygen to his brain for almost nine minutes while he was handcuffed and lying face down on the street. His pulse was gone by the 8th minute.

It had been reported by a merchant that Floyd passed a bad 20 dollar bill.

Video taken by onlookers was both terrifying and excruciating.

Within days, this video became viral, and with other shootings of innocent black men and women in recent weeks, the spark of outrage found the dry kindling of despair, and the great flames of injustice and anger  arose from the streets and souls of all men and women of conscience.

As the protest spread from Minneapolis to LA, Atlanta, Houston, and DC, peaceful daytime protests morphed into nighttime looting and burning as right wing white power groups sought to infiltrate and exacerbate the anger and tension in order to fulfill their mission of fomenting the coming race war they zealously anticipate.

And then on the 29th, the UNPOTUS pulled his tweeter out.  This from the National Post:

U.S. President Donald Trump threatened on Friday to stop looters in Minneapolis with deadly military force, after that city weathered a third night of arson and rioting over the police killing of an unarmed black man.

Some congressional Democrats denounced as racist Trump’s Twitter threat, which called the looters “THUGS” and warned “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Twitter for the first time hid the Trump tweet behind a warning banner that accused the president of “glorifying violence.”

Readers could not like or share it either.

As former Republican operative Steve Schmidt said, "never has a leader failed history's test" as this president has.

“He is calling for violence against American citizens during a moment of pain for so many. I’m furious, and you should be too,” Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden said.

U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib, one of the most liberal voices in Congress, took a harsher tone: “The Impeached President is a violent white supremacist.

If you don't read German, our allies across the Atlantic at Der Speigal have another name for him.

The Fire Devil.

The translation is: “The Fire Devil: A president sets his country on fire.”

Here in America, cartoonists drew the obvious caricatures of Trump pouring gasoline on a fire. Military Generals, including the former Secretary of Defense have come out from hiding. James Mattis describes him as a threat to the Constitution:

“I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled,” Mattis writes. “The words ‘Equal Justice Under Law’ are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.” He goes on, “We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.

When asked about it, the Republican enablers in the Senate remarked that they were Late for Lunch.

I've been reading a little book called On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder. It's an easy read but hard on the digestion.  In his twenty lessons from the 20th century, he reminds us to Do Not Obey in Advance; To Defend Institutions; to be Wary of Paramilitaries; to Take responsibility for the Face of the World; to Investigate; to Believe in Truth; to Establish a Private Life; to Listen for Dangerous Words, and to Be Calm When the Unthinkable Arrives.

"On Feb 27th, 1933, at about 9:00 PM the building housing the German Parliament, the Reichstag, began to burn.  Gazing with pleasure at the flames that night, Hitler said: "this fire is just the beginning."  The next day a decree suspended the basic rights of all German citizens allowing them to be "preventively detained" by the police.  On the strength of Hitler's claim that the fire was the work of Germany's enemies, the Nazi Party won a decisive victory in the March 5th elections.  On March 23, the new Parliament passed an enabling act, which allowed Hitler to rule by decree. (Clipped)

Germany then remained in a state of emergency for the next 12 years until the end of World War II and the destruction of the regime and much of the World.

So, it's easy to see how the German viewpoint on setting things on fire would have some merit.

Snyder's last chapter is to Be As Courageous As You Can.

We will need to work on that.




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Thursday, April 30, 2020

The Measure of Success















how to use a logarithmic graph to flatten a curve




One of the truly useful sites I have used over the years is Worldometer.  If you are writing a speech and you want to quote how many computers were made that day or that year, or you want to talk about how much energy was used by humankind and how much was given to us by the nuclear reactor located on the other side of Venus and Mercury, this site is for you.  So, you may not know this, but a few weeks ago, somewhere around April 14th, the number of people living here on earth hit 7,777,777,777.

Now I knew this was happening, and being a bit of a numbers nut, I really wanted to see it happen.  I looked at the counter on Sunday and saw that it was 7,777,300,000 something and knew that since humankind grows about 250,000 a day it would be a couple of days yet.  I told my cousin in Seattle that Seven Day was coming, but at that time Seattle was patient ground zero for Covid 19, so I doubt if it made much of an impression on her. Somehow, I missed it by about 100,000.

It took a long time for us to get to a billion folks.  According to Wikipedia:

"It is estimated that the population of the world reached one billion for the first time in 1804. It would be another 123 years before it reached two billion in 1927, but it took only 33 years to rise by another billion people, reaching three billion in 1960. Thereafter, the global population reached four billion in 1974, five billion in 1987, six billion in 1999 and, by some estimates, seven billion in October 2011 with other estimates being in March 2012.[3]

It is projected to reach eight billion by 2024–2030.

According to current projections, the world's population is likely to reach around nine billion by 2035–2050, with alternative scenarios ranging from a low of 7.4 billion to a high of more than 10.6 billion.[4]  Long-range predictions to 2150 range from a population decline to 3.2 billion in the 'low scenario', to 'high scenarios' of 24.8 billion."

Obviously, projections vary a lot because of fertility models.  But it also depends on resources too. Most contemporary estimates for the carrying capacity of the Earth under existing conditions are between 4 billion and 9 billion. Depending on which estimate is used, human overpopulation may have already occurred. But using the 9 billion number, we have perhaps 15 years before we reach our so-called carrying capacity.

Perversely, that's about the date when climate change mitigation efforts will need to be in place if we hope to have a chance of avoiding significant disruptions.  It's estimated that about 250,000 humans will lose their lives from Climate Change every year in the very near future. 

This from Live Science:

"In the coming decades, more than a quarter-million people may die each year as a result of climate change, according to a new review study.

In 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that climate change would lead to about 250,000 additional deaths each year between 2030 and 2050, from factors such as malnutrition, heat stress and malaria.


But the new review, published Jan. 17 in The New England Journal of Medicine, said this is a "conservative estimate." That's because it fails to take into account other climate-related factors that could affect death rates — such as population displacement and reductions in labor productivity from farmers due to increased heat.

In the last 50 days or so, we have lost almost 250,000 humans to the Pandemic.  On the 2nd of April, I posted on Facebook that if the United States doesn't get its act together, the current global numbers for Covid 19 of 1,000,000 cases and 50,000 deaths will be our numbers before May Day.

Now, 27 days later, the US mortality numbers for April 29th are 1,064,000 cases and almost 62,000 deaths.  Meanwhile,  the models for the future are all over the place.

Yet our leadership spouts this:

"On a day when the nation’s death toll of covid-19 neared 60,000 and 26.5 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits, President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner called the administration’s response a “great success story."

“The government, federal government rose to the challenge,  and this is a great success story."

I'm wondering what challenge old puss face is referring to.

And what is his measure of success.

For these are not just numbers,

Statistics are people without the tears.




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