My 2021 Political Weblog

Stupid is as Stupid Does

     "Southern Republicans: You've been voting for Republicans for fifty years, and you're still the poorest part of the country. The problem isn't immigrants, or environmental regulations, or the media, or socialism, or Sharia Law, or people saying `happy holidays'. The problem is that you keep voting for people who care more about giving tax breaks to corporations and billionaires than about helping you obtain the basic necessities of life." Really! How wrong and stupid is this? Let me count the ways. First, fifty years ago the American south was Democrat, still fighting the Republican racial policies that eliminated slavery and got black people to vote, the George-Wallace side as opposed to the Martin-Luther-King side. Southern Democrats weren't about socialism and economic redistribution, that was the liberalism of the American north. As the south became less racist it became more Republican, simple as that. As for tax breaks, corporations, and billionaires, who produces basic necessities of life?

     "If you can scroll through your feed and you feel okay, even a little hopeful, then you don't have enough Black friends." Okay, which way is this not stupid? Is it not stupid because Biden is so terrible and the Democrats are so terrible with ANTIFA and BLM, and there's still hope of getting Donald Trump back as President? Is it not stupid because Black Americans didn't do better 2017-2019 than any other time in our history? Is it not stupid because my black, brown, red, and yellow friends tell me they're not feeling less racial tension than any other time? Is it not stupid because the anti-Jewish momentum of Democrat organizations ANTIFA, BDS, BLM, and the Mod Squad aren't far worse than anything Black Americans have faced since 1970?

     "The folks who burned Dixie Chicks merch in the streets, stopped watching NFL when players were kneeling, and are boycotting NASCAR for banning confederate flags want to caution you against cancel culture." Are you shitting me? Did any of those activities degrade or dilute the experience of those who enjoy those activities? One side criticizes the behavior of liberals and chooses not to buy their products, the other actually keeps postings and products like Parlar or Dr. Seuss off the market by controlling their sources. One is a political statement and the other is a book ban.

     All the Republicans voted against the $1.9 T COVID relief bill because they're mean and stingy. First of all, if we take $1600 per person times 330 M people we get $0.528 T, hell and gone from the $1.9 T total. Where is the rest of it going? I suspect it's going to Democrat causes, not any kind of relief, and I suspect the Republicans who didn't vote for it knew that. (Besides, wouldn't it be fairer to use the same government snooping liberals seem to be okay with to find all the people who supported COVID lockdowns, take half their assets and income until we have a total of $5 T, and distribute that to the victims of lockdowns? Wouldn't that be fairer and more just?)

     If your governer is telling you it's time to remove your mask, it may be time to remove your governer. How many governers are telling people to remove masks and how many are letting people make their own choices?

     Howcum Texas Republicans can't get renewable energy to work in the cold when Canada has been mostly renewable for years? Democrats pushed renewable windmills and solar panels on Texas as a primary source of electricity, not add-on displacement, and they didn't work in the cold weather, as predicted. Canada's so-called renewable energy is almost all hydro power generated by damming up fragile estuaries, not windmills and solar panels.

     These are my rambling musings about American politics. They're in no particular order nor have I spent a lot of energy avoiding overlapping ideas.

    

     Year End

     I'll close my 2021 weblog page with exhortations.

     First, live your life. Political issues are important, increasingly so recently, but most of us won't be remembered for our political affiliation. Unless you're in high political office or lead a major movement, what you do with family, friends, employers, customers, et cetera is going to be more important than politics.

     Second, don't base your friendships on politics. One of the big differences I notice between Us and Them is They "unfriend" their politically-opposed acquaintances. Please don't be that person. It's not right, it's not worth it.

     Third, keep a moral compass. Be faithful to good values in life as well as politics.

     Fourth, don't spend too much effort trying to convinced the unconvinced. If you're a sympathetic reader of my political pages, then most likely they're wrong and not just different, but you're not going to be the one to change them and the world likely won't be improved even if you do achieve the moral victory of converting a blathering liberal to a thinking conservative. "Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and it annoys the pig."

     "I'll wish my readers a merry winter solstice and a happy arbitrary increment." Happy New Year.

     Mask Tattle Tale

     I was in Phoenix Symphony Hall, one of the few venues that still requires masks to be worn. As I said earlier on this page, I don't like wearing a mask, I don't think the masks mandate stands up to science, I think it panders to fear, and it is uncomfortable. Whatever the story, Phoenix Symphony Hall belongs to somebody, that somebody requires a mask, and I wear a mask. (One could argue that it's publicly owned and therefore should be accountable to reason rather than fear, but the bottom line is I can stop going to concerts there if I really don't like it.)

     A fellow came up to one of the administrative people. He was clearly in a snit about a group not wearing their masks sitting near his seat. He had badgered them, they had refused, and he wanted something done about it. (I recall an Arlo Guthrie concert on 2018 March 29 when I was in a similar snit about some guy having a continuing conversation during a concert. I asked him to stop, he insisted it was his right to enjoy the concert his way, and I talked to the ushers about it, and he went so far as to say, "They won't do anything. They've never thrown me out for talking during a concert." I had discussions with Mesa-Arts-Center management, I don't know what they did, but I never saw him again.)

     My first take was he was petty because these people weren't ruining his Nutcracker-ballet experience in any way other than not pandering to his fear.

     My second take was that the rules are the rules and we should follow the rules unless there's a good reason to do otherwise. If they say we have to wear propeller beanies so we can turn them on to repel imminent meteor strikes, then we can wear the beanies or not go to the concerts. The same for masks.

     My third take is a little more uncomfortable. When the rule was that Jews had to wear yellow armbands, this fellow was the guy ratting out his Jewish neighbors for not wearing their armbands. It's the rule, we have to follow the rule, these people aren't following the rule, and it's important that he tell the authorities about it. The tattle-tale aspect of his demeanor and behavior bothered me. It wasn't an usher going up to patrons asking them to don their facewear, it was a third party unharmed by other people's errant action who felt the need to report them to authorities. (At least in my conversation case I can claim my own concert experience is diminished by having other people talking. My most-egregious example was Crosby, Stills & Nash at Chastain Park in Atlanta where two people on both sides of me were talking with each other over the song "Guinevere," one of my favorites. Just as they were reaching the crecendo of their conversation another fellow walked in front of me and stepped on my foot.)

     Why Do I Support Republicans?

     People ask me how I can support the Republicans today. I'm a Libertarian and both big parties are pushing bigger government, but there are other issues. There was a time when I was nearly neutral between Democrats and Republicans in the United States, but several things have changed since 2004.

     On one hand, the Democrats have changed. When I was a child John F. Kennedy was President of the United States. It may have been a stolen election, Illinois and West Virginia would have given the election to Richard Nixon without some ballot-box stuffing, but at least Kennedy was a leader who deserved pride. He dramatically increased our involvement in Vietnam, but he also dramatically increased our enthusiasm for space exploration. The Democrat President before was a Klan member and the Democrat after was both racially divisive and economically destructive, but Kennedy was a point of pride.

     Recent Democrats are far more shameful, economically devastating, violently racist beyond any level of decorum, culturally corrosive, and anti-semitic. Any façade of good intentions in the Democratic Party has been relegated to history.

     My picture of recent Republicans is Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump. I think of the Bush administrations as pandering to Democrats with a nicer R label on the ballot. Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford were better than the Democrats before and after on most issues, but not as much as Reagan and Trump. No question our economy has done quite a bit better with Republican in the three houses, Senate, Representatives, and White, but also racism has been reduced and general pride in America has increased.

     On the other hand, when Pete Seeger died I learned a lot about liberal, progressive, Democrat history. I learned that the Democratic Party was founded on slavery in 1854 and supported racism all along with their support of economic depravity and socialism starting with Woodrow Wilson. My short version is Democrats supported lashings and lynchings in the 1800s, gas chambers and gulags in the 1900s, and overall hate and poverty in this century. The three non-COVID years of Trump made the difference obvious and obviously in favor of the Republican side.

     Masks

     Most of the places I go don't require masks and I prefer not to wear a mask for several reasons.

• First, I have a hard time believing that a cloth mask with 100-micron holes is going to filter out a 0.1-micron dry virus. It's the equivalent of a chain-link mosquito net or a fishnet condom. Masks can filter out larger germs like bacteria or viruses that travel in droplets of water.

• Second, they fog up my glasses. Either I have to tuck them up under my glasses so the glasses are about to fall off or the air blowing past the mask on top fogs up my glasses so they get dirty.

• Third, snotty masks are sources of infection, maybe not corona virus, but all kinds of other things. Doctors wear masks in sterile operating rooms and even in their squeaky-clean offices. That's not the same as a bunch of elementary-school children wearing a cloth face cover all day.

Fourth, our faces are part of our humanity. We smile, we smirk, and we twitch our noses to communicate. One of the signs of control in oppressed countries is subjugated people having to cover their faces. One important challenge for those who seek to control Americans is to get them to cover their faces. So, yes, I mind that they used the fear of a disease to get us to do that.

• Fifth, I don't hear as well as I used to, masks muffle speech, and I can't lipread when faces are covered with opaque masks. (So howcum clear masks were quickly ruled out as acceptable by the mask-enforcing authorities?)

• Sixth, there are masks that seem to work. My doctor worked in the early COVID hospital wards around a lot of sick people, he wore a special high-tech mask, not regular cloth, and he didn't get a trace of COVID. That doesn't definitively prove the mask did anything useful, but it supports the hypothesis that his mask protect its wearer. It supports neither cloth masks nor the notion that people should wear masks to protect other people.

• Seventh, a clear plastic mask may filter out the most important thing, getting people not to touch their faces after touching things that may be infected. Fingers going between wet membranes and foreign surfaces really are vectors of infection and clear-plastic maps really do inhibit that behavior.

• Eighth, there are things we can really do to keep from getting sick. We can wash our hands more often, we can stay home more than usual, we can keep extra distance from other people, and we can avoid sex with strangers. All of these actually reduce the risk of infection.

• Ninth, finally, we can get whatever vaccinations are available.

I have no objection to other people masking up if it makes them feel safer. Seeing a driver alone wearing a mask with windows closed makes me wonder what that person could be thinking, but it's not my business to change the mask-wearing behavior. I know I don't like wearing them and I don't think I'm at particularly-greater risk not wearing a mask.

    

     Trump Character

     A few of my conservative friends seem to have a bug up their butts about Donald Trump. In spite of Donald Trump being part of my American culture going back to when I was in college around 1975 I wasn't too sure in 2016 about how he would do as President of the United States. His theme was the art of the deal, you don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate, so you negotiate the best deal and follow it. There's a certain kind of American-culture integrity about that.

     The three years of Trump's Presidency, 2017-2019, were the best in America's past six decades, in economics, in racism, in manufacturing, in energy, and in our national pride. Donald Trump's opponents are very good at smearing their opponents in ways not related to job performance. Look how well they turned Richard Milhouse Nixon into "Tricky Dick" with a five-o'clock shadow. It was almost enough to give John F. Kennedy (JFK) the election, it just took some voter fraud in Illinois and West Virginia to seal the deal.

     From a racist history centered around economic tyranny, Democrats start riots and steal elections while Trump negotiates deals and follows his contracts. Somehow, even conservatives seem to feel Trump somehow has less integrity than the most corrupt politicians in American history, the Clinton-Obama-Biden crowd. Other than nice-vs.-nasty tweets on Twitter I can't think of any integrity or value or job-performance metric that compares Trump unfavorably with any Bush, any Clinton, or Trump's immediate predecessor, but the negative campaign still did its job. That real Republican conservatives find themselves being anti-Trump because of some perceived integrity issues says nothing of Trump, a little how gullible they are, and much about how effective Democrat propaganda has been.

     When somebody tells me how afraid he is to go out at night because the moon is so much brighter than the sun, when somebody won't go to the desert for fear of drowning, when somebody tells me he considered voting for a Democrat because Trump has less integrity, I really don't know what to say, or even what to ask.

    

     Alec Baldwin

     Okay, help me out here. A notoriously-liberal, anti-gun movie actor doing a shooting scene manages to shoot two people. If it weren't for the sadness of one killed and one injured, the whole scene would be funny. (My conspiracy-theory friend suggested it may not have been an accident since now-dead Halna Hutchins was supposedly looking into pediphiles in the acting community, but that would require Alec Baldwin to be skilled with a firearm.)

     Here's the thing. I don't spend a lot of time around guns, but the first time I held a pistol I got The Lecture. There was a sign quoting John Wayne, "Life is tough. Life if tougher if you're stupid." If it has a trigger and a barrel, then you never point it at something you really don't want to kill, never mind how confident you are that it isn't loaded. If I'm moving a gun from pointing north to pointing east and there are people northeast of me, then I move it over their heads or under their feet. It's that simple. (My point about a barrel and trigger is from those blue, solid-plastic mock-guns used for training security professionals, fake guns that we point at real people).

     While I've never made a movie or even been on a production set, and I apprecate that movie actors take risks to make movies that the rest of us would not normally take, pointing a real gun at somebody and pulling the trigger seems a bit extreme. Was Ms. Hutchins part of the movie? If not, then why was she in the line of fire? I just can't see this happening with Clint Eastwood or John Wayne. That's my two cents.

    

     Whose Fault Is All This?

     On 1994 March 15, the Ides of March, I was running in Afton, Minnesota, when a pack of dogs ran out onto the street and one of them bit me. ("Et tu, Fido.") Monty Python might have said it's just a flesh wound, but the notion of dogs biting me didn't appeal to me so I appealed to the local police who said the owners had to keep the dogs "under visual surveillance" when they were outside. The next time I saw the dogs loose I complained and the owners said, "What are we supposed to do? Watch them all the time?" Well, yes, that's what "visual surveillance" means, isn't it? The good news is I won a $3000 judgment against the owners, the bad news is they never paid a dime, and the good news was they went away and I never saw them or their dogs again.

     So what does this have to do with Democrats and Republicans?

     At no point in this process did it occur to me to go after the dog who bit me or the pack dogs who presumably goaded him into biting me. Whatever animus I may have felt towards the canine who drew my blood, not very much I admit, and sent me scurrying to the doctor for a tetanus shot, it never occurred to me to blame the dog for his, ahem, inhuman act towards me.

     As a community, the Democrats have committed and defended inhuman acts since their inception, officially in 1854, unofficially circa 1820. It was lashings and lynchings in the Nineteenth Century, it was gulags and gas chambers in the Twentieth Century, and it's a host of outrageous political stuff aimed at some very bad outcomes. Clearly the agents of these activities over two centuries have been far short of humanity.

     Yet most of the Democrats I know are decent people most of the time. There was a science-fiction story about a group of young scientists convinced of their feel-good drug enough to try it on themselves, horrible murders started happening at night, and it turned out the young scientists had become murderers at night from the drug. Similarly, I'm convinced that the animal who punctured the skin of my thigh was likely a super-nice pooch the rest of the time.

     I'll tell the next chapter because there's a good object lesson. About a year later a dog Tina whom I knew quite well ran out into the street and bit me. Her owner's response was to have a fence around her yard the very next day so there would be no repeat performance. Tina had been a good dog and a pleasant neighbor, I was sorry about her transgressions and happy her owners thought it was important to deal with what happened rather than to turn it into a character assessment of either Tina or myself.

     So maybe being a Democrat progressive liberal is "teratogenic" in mental development. Otherwise nice, decent, loving, caring people are comfortable doing and supporting horrors and equally comfortable with enormous ethical and moral deviations from decency.

     I have no problem with Democrat indecency here in this essay. We all know about that. I'm simply trying to put blame in the right place. I don't blame the Democrats any more than I blame the otherwise-nice dogs who sank their teeth into my flesh. The fault belongs to the people who knew better.

     1865 June 19, "Nineteenth," was the final victory of Republican abolitionism and the end of the Democrat vision of slavery. That's it, it's over, it's done, no more Democrats, the beast was dead. But the teratogenic vision did not die and the same mindset was reborn as vicious and violent racism in the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. The same hate spread to the pseudo-science of eugenics and Margaret Sanger's ignoble institution of Planned Parenthood.

     In the Twentieth Century the disease of socialism infected those same teratogenic victims with more horrible results in Stalin, Hitler, Castro, and Mao outside the United States and in FDR, LBJ, Carter, and Obama stateside. We can't expect Democrats to 'fess up to all this hate.

     Whatever moral corrections should have been imposed then and should be imposed now have to come from Republicans. The job is to excise the demon without retribution to those possessed by it. That job was not done. It wasn't done in 1865 and we got the Klan and segregation, it wasn't done in the 1880s and we got eugenics, it wasn't done in 1912 and we got Wilson's Progressive agenda, it wasn't done again and again and we got Stalin and Hitler et al, it wasn't done in the 1960s and we got the Marxist racism we saw in the Black Panthers, it wasn't done in 2009 and we got ANTIFA, BDS, BLM and the Mod Squad, it wasn't done in 2019 and we got an overblown pandemic panic that likely killed a lot more than the disease, and it wasn't done in 2020 and we got from a blatently stolen election to an inauguration.

     I don't know what the answer is, but we pay a lot of politically-savvy Republican people to come up with a way of dealing with the beast without damaging the hosts, a way to purge decent, loving, caring people of whatever they had within them to do the horrors they did.

     I don't blame the dogs, I blame the owners. I don't blame the Democrats, I blame the Republicans.

    

     We Can't Have This Conversation

     So often when I reveal my conservative views to liberals I get a response, "We can't have this conversation. We can't talk about this." The liberal in this interchange is too busy being offended to realize there are points of view to talk about and issues to be discussed.

     I can respect withdrawing from a dialogue as an alternative to losing one's temper. I've done it myself as an alternative to engaging and getting into a heated argument. "Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig." Yes, I get that.

     But if one is trying to convert conservatives to a liberal point of view, then one should be willing and able to express those ideas. Once one has started a political conversation and noisily insisted on a point of view, it seems cowardly, and a bit creepy, to respond immediately with complete withdrawal. It's the attitude of a crybaby to start a fight and then to burst out crying about it. For example, finding I'm from Arizona one liberal asked me about the election fuss there. I responded that I think we all know Trump got two-thirds of the votes and the issue is what our country should do going forward, and my liberal friend loudly insisted we could talk about anything else but we couldn't talk about that. While I appreciate his social restraint to shut down rather than to get into a heated argument with me, why bring up a subject where you know more than half the country disagrees if he's only willing to discuss it with people who completely agree?

     I've gotten this response on several issues, mostly since 2020. One person ranted on Facebook about the tragedy of COVID deaths, I suggested that other deaths including flu were just as tragic, and he "unfriended" me in a huff rather than try to make his point. I don't know what that point could be, that somehow a COVID death is more terrible than flu, but I wasn't going to find it out from this high-school classmate.

     For example, I am genuinely curious how liberals resolve the election. Do they believe the statistical impossibility that Biden got move votes than Trump or do they believe that it doesn't matter, a Biden presidency is somehow right and elections are only there to restrain conservatives? Enquiring minds want to know, but we're not going to learn it in peaceful, intelligent discourse.

     My Own Take on COVID-19

     These are my technical assessments of the recent corona virus without the politics.

     I tend to communicate by analogy and comparison. In this case I'll use comparisons. For example, the San Francisco Bay Area is similar to the Phoenix Valley of the Sun in that both have somewhere around five million people but the Bay Area has a big body of water in the middle and more-severe geographical limits to growth, two differences that make a difference in demography and lifestyle in the two places.

     We joke using comparisons. When AT&T spun off an especially-inept and poorly-planned consumer-products division called American Bell, we asked two questions: How is American Bell like and unlike the Titanic? Both are sinking but the Titanic had paying customers. How is American Bell like and unlike the Boy Scouts? Both are non-profit, but the Boy Scouts has adult supervision.

     Let's get serious about COVID-19 compared to other diseases. (It says here that COVID-19 stands for COronaVIrus Disease of 2019. (That suggests the C doesn't stand for China.) "COVID-19 is the name of the disease caused by the SARS-CoV2 virus. Viruses and the diseases they cause have different names. For example, AIDS is the disease caused by the human immunodeficiency virus, HIV.") Like recent flu outbreaks it's a respiratory disease where most people get sick for a few days and then get better. Unlike flu a significant fraction get a lot worse and more die of it. On a statistical distribution of how sick people get, the mathematician in me would say, "COVID has a thicker tail" on the bad end. Compared to flu in 2019 I believe about three times as many died of COVID in 2020. Another interesting difference is that COVID often takes away the senses of smell and taste. In my own case, it was the loss of my sense of smell in 2020 July that sent me scurrying to my doctor for a COVID polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

     Similarly, most people who get dengue get sick for a few days and get better while some get much worse and some of those die. The method of death is quite different, COVID patients gasp their last breaths while dengue becomes "hemorrhagic" where the patients have severe bleeding. In their worst forms, neither COVID nor dengue is much fun. Often enough to be scary, COVID-19 is more than a bad cough or the flu. (I have known people who had smallpox and polio. They weren't fun either.)

     While SARS attacked young, healthy people, the victims of COVID-19 appear to be older, already-sick people with respiratory disease. Once one gets the bug, various social-medium pages say obesity and low Vitamin-D levels are risk factors for having a worse COVID-19 experience. While I'm older and mildly asthmatic, I almost never get sick, I engage in respiratorily-challenging exercises about ten hours per week, I had the disease in 2020 July, and I got the Pfizer vaccine in 2021 July.

     I worried more about dengue than COVID-19 in 2020. Dengue is carried by mosquitoes which are prevalent in the parts of Argentina I visited during late spring, 2020 December. My trip put dengue on the top of my medical-worry list in 2020, still less dangerous than a crash on my bicycle or in a car. Long term, I believe cancer is my most-likely path over "the rainbow bridge."

     So how many Americans died of COVID-19 in 2020?

     I don't trust government numbers. They might lie high, they might lay low, but they lie. Pick whatever hot-button issue you like and ask yourself if you believe the politicians when they cite numeric quantitative figures.

     I don't believe news-media. Look at the range of numbers of just about anything in printed, broadcast, and Internet news media. In case you're tempted to believe the news numbers, check out The New York Times 2020 May 24 headline, "U.S. DEATHS NEAR 100,000, AN INCALCULABLE LOSS," where people checked out the deaths listed and they died of cancer and car crashes. (Did they die of COVID between going through the windshield and hitting the pavement?)

     I don't trust the medical establishment. Even if doctors are honest, I'm not sanguine about hospital administrators knowing that checking the COVID-19 box on a death certificate gets a $35K payout from the government.

     Sometimes even an honest effort to measure something goes awry. A friend had a challenge from our American Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the people who collect our income taxes. They wanted to know how overloaded their help-desk phone lines were. The temptation is to ask people on the call how many times they tried to get through and failed. We know what's going to happen if we try that. There will be a string of honest answers averaging ten or twenty or maybe more and about ten percent (10%) will say, "Dammit, I've tried a million times," so the average will be over one hundred thousand (100K).

     My friend's answer was to measure something less mathematically informative but trustworthy to measure. Instead of asking the number of call attempts, he suggested asking if this caller had tried to call before. The response might be an angry tirade or it might be that this is the caller's first attempt, it won't discriminate between two and ten attempts, but it will be honest and there are algebraic, statistical formulae converting the percentage of first-attempt callers to the average number of attempts.

     So what can I measure that may not be super accurate but will be relative unbiased? The statistic I choose to use is excess deaths. I figure it's harder to lie about how many died than it is to lie about how they died. It can still be corrupt, but it's less likely to be corrupt and the magnitude of any lie is likely to be smaller than the other sources I mentioned. As I reported elsewhere that comes out to 319940 excess deaths.

     So how many of those deaths are from COVID-19? Let's ask the question from the other side. How many of those deaths are not from COVID-19? In a speech I attended on 2021 February 18, Scott Atlas of Stanford University estimates the lives lost from lockdowns at close to a million. "The unemployment shock from the lockdowns according to a recent NBER study will generate almost 890 K official U.S. deaths mainly in minority and poor families over the next fifteen years. That's the lockdown alone. We know we have not seen the full extent of the damage because it will last for decades." Is this surprising given that the lockdowns put 50 M (fifty million) of American's lowest wage earners out of work for nearly six months? The medical side is similarly devastating. "A recent study confirms that up to 78 percent of cancers were never detected due to missed screening over a three-month period. If one extrapolates to the entire country, 750,000 to over a million new cancer cases over a nine-month period will have gone undetected." If lockdowns and hospital closures each took about 100 K lives in 2020, a reasonable estimate from where I sit, then the resulting COVID-19 death count for 2020 would be about 100 K.

     So how do we put 100 K COVID-19 deaths in perspective? Well, the plain-jane flu kills somewhere between ⅓ and ½ of that number each year. The Hong Kong flu in 1969 killed about 100 K when the United States had half as many people. Given a national death rate of 3 M per year, 100 K represents about three percent (3%) of the total deaths, significant but not overwhelming. Heart disease kills 700 K per year, cancer kills 659 K per year, accidents kill 173 K per year, and chronic respiratory disease kills 157 K.

     It's not silly to worry about COVID-19, but it's also not silly to go on with our lives and not to worry about a disease that killed 0.03% of our population and spared 99.97%. Being young or thin or fit makes the disease less threatening. Taking Vitamin D and spending time outside or at home also reduce COVID-19 risk.

     My own take is that washing hands and keeping social distance are reasonable precautions. In my more humorous moments I add avoiding sex with strangers to the list of precautions. I got the Pfizer vaccine, I'm a "vaccine junkie" who just got another rabies booster, but the risk of COVID-19 is so low and the vaccine is so new that I have no problem with somebody deciding not to get the vaccine.

     While I'm good on hand washing, social distancing, staying home and outside, and vaccination, I don't get into the mask scene. A 0.1-micron virus is going to get through 100-micron holes in a piece of cloth about as easily as air. It's like a chain-link-fence mosquito net or a fishnet condom. Maybe there's an argument why a cloth mask is more effective than wearing a propeller beanie to protect from meteors, "just to be safe," but that argument has somehow been elusive in the mask-promotion postings I've seen. While COVID-19 probably isn't mitigated by masks, there are times, places, and other reasons to wear a mask. On the no-mask side, we communicate with our faces, we understand speech better without them and we can read lips when hearing fails. Burkas and masks are dehumanizing, probably deliberately so. I've gone out of my way to avoid institutions requiring masks and plan to continue to do so.

     So here's my understanding. On the whole, COVID-19 was fifth on the list of 2020 causes of death, enough to take reasonable precautions, not enough to merit being the dominant topic in conversation. Older, sicker, fatter, and less fit people should worry more than young, healthy, lean, fit people. Personally, for myself, I avoid masks and don't worry about social distancing, but I wash my hands more frequently and got the Pfizer vaccine. I respect people making their one choices. I enjoy living my life, traveling, and being social with my friends, preferably face to face.

    

     Respect

     There aren't a lot of people who know less about Peruvian government than I do. I suppose they're some kind of formalized democracy like most western countries, but I don't know. I certainly don't have strong feelings about it.

     I was in a bar with two British friends in Cusco when the soccer championship between Brazil and Peru was on the television set. Rabid fans were wearing Peruvian soccer outfits having fun in this festive, sports-fan atmosphere. When the Peruvian anthem came on they all stood up. My two British friends and I stood up as well.

     It wasn't any kind of approval, just good old-fashioned respect for their country. Similarly, when the "Star Spangled Banner" comes on, for example when the Phoenix Symphony opens their season with it, I get up and put my hand on my heart.

     I'm disappointed that our athletes can't show the same respect.

    

     Party Names

     When I was in primary school we were taught that the United States of America is a republic with rules of conduct rather than a democracy where majority rules all the time. We were also taught this was one of the most important things for a responsible citizen to understand about our country. (I was in a room in 1991 where a local arts group forgot this about their own organization with dire results for themselves.) So isn't it prophetic that the party that doesn't understand this basic part of a civic education would call themselves "democrats" while the party that does get the message calls themselves "republicans"?

    

          Initiated by Liberals?

     In case you were thinking there's an intellectual meeting of the minds between liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, check this one out. Assuming "Liberals" here refer to progressive, left-wing Democrats and "Conservatives" refer to right-wing Republicans, it's pretty obvious whoever wrote this was seriously ignorant of just about everything in American history. Let's look at the most obvious ones. (Some will claim that Republicans supported these, Democrats were against them, and there was a big switcheroo. Note that there was no time when there was a significant community changing parties with each other and several of these principles go back to 1776 and before.)

     The American Revolution was about a free, armed society able to protect its lives, liberty, livelihood, and property against invasive government like the progressive left wing. There has been a continuous path from then until now from our Declaration of Independence and Constitution to today's Republican support, especially the Bill of Rights. The few times Democrats mention the Constitution they point out it's a "living document" subject to change to match the whims of their own politics.

     Slavery was the foundational reason for the Democratic Party. When "Juneteenth" (1865 June 19) was the final blow by the abolitionish, anti-slavery Republicans against the Democrats, the Democrats scurried like roaches in two directions. One faction kept slavery's violent racial hate in the White Knights through the Black Panthers to ANTIFA and BLM (Black Lives Matter) while the other faction kept slavery's claim of one group of Americans using the political system to claim the productive effort of another group. The Republican right has stood for racial equality of opportunity and treatment and individual claim on individual effort going all the way back.

     Women's right to vote was a Republican initiative just as Black people's right to vote. I'll give Democrats credit for offering much less resistance to women than Blacks getting the vote.

     The Interstate Highway System was an Eisenhower initiative, Republican.

     The National Parks system came from Theodore Roosevelt, also a conservative Republican.

     The Civil Right Act was promoted by Republicans while Democrats were represented by George Wallace and Lyndon Johnson (LBJ). The last Democrat president before John F. Kennedy (JFK) was Harry Truman, a member of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

     These are the big items on this list, all wrong. I'll point out that Social Security, definitely a Democrat initiative with Franklin Roosevelt (FDR), has taken untold trillions of dollars of productive equity and turned it into unproductive annuity for the same people, a huge economic loss for those participants.

    

     Chauvin Trial Riots

     Help me understand this one. Two guys who have known each other and worked together for seventeen years appear in a video with wrong lighting and changing hair style where one kills the other. Assuming you can get past the obvious that nobody killed anybody in this fake video, ask yourself the obvious question: If a person kills a friend and work colleague of seventeen years, then what is the likelihood that race has anything to do with it?

    

     What I'd Like to Hear

     "Hey, Adam, I'm a Democrat, I'm a liberal, I've been wrong before, but I'm right this time and I have my reasons.

     "Today we claim to condemn racism in all forms. Back a few years we Democrats supported slavery, Jim Crow, and the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. More recently we supported the Black Panthers and the marginalizing prejudice of Affirmative Action. Many of us supported Martin Luther King while the core of our party supported George Wallace's `separate-but-equal' segregation. Our recent action group with the sanctimonious title `Black Lives Matter' has degenerated into the same violent racism as the White Knights and the Black Panthers. We liberals were wrong.

     "We have rejected capitalism and free enterprise. I realize these are the core values of this country and that these have produced wealth and comfort at all income levels that no other economic philosophy has come near. I realize that the fascism, socialism, and communism that I support has caused human poverty, misery, and death. Specifically we Democrats created the New Deal that prolonged a government-caused depression another eight years and the Great Society that created a permanent poverty class in America. We liberals were wrong.

     "We have stifled free speech wherever we could, especially our educational institutions. Adam, when you had a chance to hear Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir speak at Princeton, we were outside protesting loudly enough for her to comment on it. More recently we have created an atmosphere of violence around conservative speakers and banned them `for their own safety.' We use our distribution channels and political pressure to ban books and web postings we don't like. We liberals were wrong.

     "We promoted human suffering through pseudo-science and fear from eugenics and an impending ice age through acid rain and the ozone layer to global warming and climate change. By overstating the COVID-19 threat it took less than three months to make American afraid to gather freely and willing to have laws to restrict movement. We liberals were wrong.

     "We have promoted hatred of all things Jewish going back to our White Knights and Black Panthers. The Obama legacy is four anti-semitic factions of the Democratic Party. ANTIFA, BDS, and BLM have promoted violence against Jews and the four Mod Squad Democratic leaders have been openly anti-Jewish as well. We liberals were wrong.

     "Okay, Adam, we did all those bad things with the same goals and ambitions as Democrats today with the same lack of principles and values. In every case what we did turned out horribly wrong. But, Adam, we're right this time and you should support our programs and our current agenda. Here's why you should believe us now."

     At this point I would like to hear why those who promoted all this terrible history are going to do a better job next time around. I would like to have a coherent, collected, clear conversation where my Democrat, liberal, left-wing friend explains how their logic, idiology, and practice can guide us to a better future than the conservative vision that, historically, has done so well for so many, especially those not well off.

     Instead I get the same answer, "We can't have this conversation. We can't communicate about these issues." They're too busy being offended by my views to try to establish a reasonable discouse.

     I have more to say about that more recently.

     Democrats and Mass Killings

     I suppose there are Republicans doing mass killings and I suppose there are mass killings that don't involve guns. I don't seem to see either making the news. The correlation between Democrats and mass killers seems at least as solid as the correlation between guns and mass killers. Which should we ban?

    

     Arson

     I have my own analogy. On 2020 November 4 a bunch of arsonists spread fire accelerant all over and set a timer to go off on 2021 January 20. One that timer goes off, the game changes from disconnecting the timer to fighting the flames or letting our country burn down. That's the choice we faced.

     I can think of all kinds of reasons why different factions of the Republican Party didn't act, mostly based on figuring somebody else can get their hands dirty and fight the arsonists. In any case, it went to an inauguration and the damage was significant within hours and terrible within days.

     What did you think was going to happen?

     Whose fault is it? Do should we blame the arsonists (Democrats) who don't respect our country or its founding principles, who don't have values, who don't know right from wrong, who think it's okay to hurt millions upon millions in their cause, who don't know any better? Or should we blame the firemen (Republicans) who didn't turn off the timer (inauguration) and clean out the accelerant (corruption)?

    

     Get Out and Vote?

     I'm getting emails raising money for the 2022 election with exhortations to get out and vote.

     Whom are they kidding? With a Republican President, a Republican Senate, and Republican Supreme Court, and a landslide majority of the vote the other guys won.

     So there is no election in 2022 any more than there was in 2020. The guys who stole the election are making sure whatever risks there were in 2020 won't be there next time. They have all three houses, Senate, Representatives, and White, they're going to pack the Supreme Court, they're going to grant voting rights to all kinds of people who aren't citizens as we know it and they're going to double count the District of Columbia, which I understand already counts as part of Maryland. The election game is over.

     I don't know how those of us who believe in America can restore it, but it's not going to happen because we raise money to get Republican votes in 2022.

    

     Health Insurance and Pre-existing Conditions

     I have a thought experiment to consider. I buy car insurance from State Farm with a $500 deductable. On Monday I come back to the parking lot to find my door dented and nobody else in sight. It still drives okay, well sort of, so I drive carefully to the State Farm office where they give me an estimate for $1500, a cheque for $1000, and a list of shops that will do the work for $1500. I'm $500 "out of pocket" for my deductable.

     Allstate offers me a lower, better premium rate and on Wednesday I change insurance companies.

     Now, on Friday I get a call from the shop where I took the car and they found there was $2000 of frame damage also. Who should pay for the extra damage?

     I call Allstate for the $2000 and they tell me I have a pre-existing condition, that this damage was done before I signed up with them. Fine, I go back to State Farm and get them to pay the $2000 for the damage that occurred while I was insured with them. In neither case am I expected to pay the extra money myself. I was covered the entire time and one of the insurance companies should pay.

     Change the story to health care. I have Aetna, I get diabetes, it costs money to treat, and they pay their part of the bill for that treatment. I change health-insurance to Blue Cross and I still have diabetes. Somehow Aetna and Blue Cross should duke it out between themselves over who should pay for my insulin and other treatment going forward. Now I can see Blue Cross charging me extra for my new policy because my care is more expensive with diabetes.

     Somehow the health insurance companies managed to get out of paying for the care they signed up to pay for when we change companies. One of the provisions of the otherwise-totally-evil Obamacare was the gem that insurance companies should have to pay for the care they agreed to pay for even when we change companies.

    

     The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.

     Hulu made a television series from The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. In this story there is a loss of fertility and the reaction is the government immediately denegrates the role of women to fertility only. Levels of bureaucracy are created with younger women becoming handmaids who are held down and raped monthly in their confinement. Those who don't get pregnant are shipped out as forced labor in biogically-dangerous areas where they don't live long.

     What is scary is how quickly it happens and how easily it happens as Americans acquiesce to the new nation of Gilead that deals with the problem. It's what happened in progressive-supported regimes in Russia, Germany, Cuba, China, and Venezuela. (Of course the progressive liberals who supported these changes are the ones who say this story is a vision of conservative values being imposed on America. Go figure.)

     We smugly read the book or watch the show and say, "Well, that couldn't really happen here, could it?" A disease that nobody knew and nobody saw and nobody knew anybody who knew anybody who had it appeared in 2020 January and within two months the country was in lockdown, more in the Democrat-controlled areas, with restaurants, services, and performing arts closed down. Tens of millions were put out of work. By government decree, hospitals were turning away all but the most-serious cases in anticipation of a flood of this new disease that did not appear. People were forced to wear masks in public that doctors told us were of little use against this new disease and would harbor other sources of infection. (Remember, until 2020 July there were very few actual deaths from this new disease with no reported excess deaths in the first half of 2020. It wasn't until later that any of us started seeing people sick from this disease.)

     This all happened within a month. Experts looking back point out it was all wrong, but no apologies have been forthcoming. Interestingly enough, my conservative friends were skeptical of both the disease threat and the overreaction response while my liberal friends, even now when it's obvious government lockdowns were wrong and evil, still stand by those decisions. The lesson of The Handmaid's Tale seems forever lost on liberals.

    

     Republicans versus Trump.

     Remember in elementary school when we nominated and elected classmates for class president? It wasn't clear what a class president does in fifth grade, but we had to elect one by nominating candidates and then voting, either by show of hands or by secret paper ballot. With fierce rivalry between the boys and the girls, each would nominate as many of their own sex figuring if it were three boys against one girl on the ballot, then a boy had a 75% chance of winning the actual election. Of course it had the opposite effect as the boys divided their vote among the three boy candidates while all the girls voted for their only choice. After the election the boys all looked at each other wondering what went wrong and how one of them got elected class president. This logic may be acceptable for elementary-school students, but not for party election strategists.

     We had a Republican Supreme Court and two Republican houses, Senate and White, with the House of Representatives having a Republican state-count majority, which is what counts in a run-off election. With a clear landslide majority of popular and electoral votes going for Trump, an obvious election theft on 2020 November 4, and plenty of time to plan before 2020 January 6 when Congress would confirm the theft and 2020 January 20 Inauguration Day, how on earth could the Republican Party do so little? How could this get all the way to a Biden inauguration?

     I think it's back to the boys-versus-girls thing, not exactly the same, but the same kind of goofy logic. The anti-Trump Republicans figured they would go-along-get-along with the Democrats, Trump would win anyway, and they wouldn't appear to be Trump sympathizers.

     Well, it didn't work and now I don't see a lot of choices to restore our country that don't involve guns and violence.

    

     The 2020 U.S. Election.

     First, we have the Big-Board map from Germany, before the data were altered, with 410 Electoral votes for Trump. Given the relative levels of enthusiasm I saw myself and heard from people I trust, it's about what I expected. Throw in the usual bias that more liberals than conservatives show up at rallies and demonstrations (we have jobs) and this favors Biden more than I expected. Somehow, this Trump-favoring election got all the way to a Biden inaugeration even with a Republican Supreme Court and a Republican House of Representatives counted by state, as it would be in a presidential run-off election. You gotta wonder, you do.

     Here's what I think happened. Like Bob Dole in 1996, John Kerry in 2004, and Mitt Romney in 2012 the Democrats put up a sacrificial non-candidate in 2020. In case being a Democrat from the George Wallace, anti-civil-rights faction and being a pedophile wasn't enough, in case his running mate who was a prostitute wasn't enough, "Sleepy-Joe" Biden clearly lost his mental function. (If you don't believe it, listen to him on Law & Order SVU in 2016 compared to his speeches and advertisements in 2020.) Then somebody in the Democratic Party said, "We can steal this election. We'll make 2020 the most chaotic year ever, we'll impeach Trump over and over again, we'll turn a minor pandemic into a frenzy, we'll rig the voting machines, and we'll have this election won before anybody notices it." It all worked fine except that Donald Trump had such a large majority that he still got 410 Electoral votes even with the skewed machines. The folks planning the coup looked at each other and realized, "We're all going to jail if we don't end up winning this." So, at three o'clock Wednesday morning, they added hundreds of thousands of Biden votes in several key states to tip them to Biden.

    

     The Capitol 2021 January 6.

     For the last seven months, since 2020 May 25, when ten or more Democrats gathered outdoors shops were looted, buildings were burned, cars were blown up, and people were killed. The first of those riots was two blocks from one of my work colleagues and another was five miles from my own home. In addition to the party hate of their representative "Mod Squad" the Democrats have three racist, violent, and anti-Jewish action arms, Black Lives Matter (BLM), ANTIFA, and BDS. During the months before the election there were Trump-rally gatherings all over the United States with tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands, with no rioting and no violence, just a lot of noise. The contrast has been utterly clear.

     On 2021 January 6 there was a rally at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. There are videos of people being let in through open doors and there were a few incidents of vandalism and violence. Given the history, who do you think did the damage? The first person actually arrested turned out to be a registered Democrat. Are we surprised that a few liberals would show up to create the ugly Democrat style of gathering for the news media to show?

     Look, picture you're a police officer arriving at a bank robbery with lights and sirens and there are three guys running from the bank turning and shooting at the bank doorway and now at the arriving police. Just to make the analogy more complete, there were two other robberies where you saw these same three guys shooting but they got away. Is your first move to run into the bank to arrest the receptionists and tellers? Or maybe, just maybe, you should follow good instincts and arrest the three guys who were shooting both in the past and in the present. Similarly, we should expect whatever violence happened 2021 January 6 came from the same Democrats that did all the other recent violence.

     Still, when I bring up the excess Biden votes, some of my liberal friends bring up the Capitol incident on 2021 January 6 as an explanation for voters choosing Biden over Trump two months earlier on 2020 November 3. Are these the same people who still claim global warming mostly in the 1920s and 1930s was caused by fossil fuels burned in the 1960s and 1970s. I would hope it doesn't require four semesters of honors physics at Princeton to understand why that doesn't make sense.

    

     COVID-19 in 2020.

     While the United States showed no excess deaths for the first half of 2020 compared to 2019 and 2018, a slight decrease in fact, the second half of the year does have higher death numbers here in the U.S.A., about 320 thousand higher than last year. As about 1.4 million died in that six-month period, that's an increase of about twenty-two percent (22.5%). Figure one third of those died from tens of millions out of work from pandemic panic and one third of those died from hospitals turning away legitimate cancer and heart-attack patients to make room for anticipated COVID cases, that leaves about 110 thousand dying of COVID. That's enough to suggest taking precautions that actually work, like washing hands frequently, staying home more than usual, and avoiding sex with strangers. These numbers are of the same order as the Hong Kong flu in 1969, also a serious pandemic.

    

    

    

    

    

    

    

    

If you like what you read here (Hah!), then here are my other American-issues essays.

Today is 2022 August 18, Thursday,
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