A Dangerous Double Standard

I’d like to ask those who are defending the former guy in everything he’s done, who claim he is above the law, to think about a few things.

  • What if, during the 2012 election season when President Barack Obama was running for re-election, it had been discovered that Obama had attempted to coerce a foreign nation to create a scandal about his opponent, Mitt Romney and threatened to withhold much-needed aid from that country if they did not do so? Would you have shrugged your shoulders and chalked it up to ‘just politics’?
  • What if President Obama had lost his bid for re-election in 2012? Do you think he would have decried the election to have been rigged?  Do you think he would have spent millions of our hard-earned tax dollars in a variety of attempts to de-certify or reverse the results of the election?  And if he did any of that, do you think the people of this nation would still have cheered him on?
  • What if President Obama had brought together thousands of thugs to storm the Capitol on the day the election was to be officially certified, and had called for the assassination of then-Vice-President Biden for doing his job as outlined in the U.S. Constitution? Would the people of this country be saying that he was within his rights to do everything possible, whether legal or not, to stay in the White House?  Would they have applauded his efforts?
  • What if President Obama had, upon leaving the White House with no further recourse open to him, taken with him documents that could very well threaten the security of this nation with regard to other countries who are not our allies, such as Russia, Saudi Arabia, or North Korea? Could you, would anybody, defend him under such circumstances?  Would the Courts be protecting him even in light of his dishonesty?

I think we all know the answer to all of the above questions … If President Obama had done just one of those things, he would almost certainly have been impeached and convicted in the first three instances, and charged within his first year out of office in the fourth.  Heck … remember how much flack President Obama was subjected to for having the unmitigated gall to wear … {GASP} a tan suit to a press conference on August 28, 2014?  Or the time First Lady Michelle Obama was equally ostracized for wearing {GASP again} a sleeveless dress!  And yet, Melania Trump’s nude modeling pictures were all over the internet and not a peep did you hear.  Now, ask yourself this … why is there such a difference between Obama and Trump?  Could it be … is it just possible that the difference in how they were treated, or would have been treated under similar circumstances, stems from something … something irrelevant like, say, skin colour?  Next time you are in a ‘discussion’ with some maga friends, pose these questions to them … watch them stumble and stutter while trying to devise an answer.

If … IF President Obama had done any of the things I mentioned above, such as attempting to blackmail a foreign nation to interfere in our election by providing false information against an opponent, stealing highly classified documents, or inciting an attempted coup, I would be all for charging him, convicting him, and punishing him with prison time, just as I advocate that result for Trump.  But the fact is that no other president in our history has been so brazenly corrupt and endangered the entire nation for his own self-interest, to feed his own ego (not to mention his bank account).  None.  Ever.

People can whine and cry all they want, but Trump must be held accountable for his crimes.  Period.  Two major reasons:

  • As a free ‘man’ who still has a voice and followers in this nation, he is a danger. The threat that he could run again in 2024 and even possibly win, is one that undermines the very principles of democracy in this nation.  His continued ‘voice’ incites and advocates for violence if that is what it takes to return him to the Oval Office.  And violence IS happening as a result. At a Dairy Queen in Pennsylvania, police arrested an armed man who said he was planning to “kill Democrats and liberals.”  And this is just one of many examples.
  • If Trump is not made to pay the price for his perfidy, his crimes, then how can we possibly hold any future president accountable for doing the same? That may well be the scariest part of this scenario, that it will set a precedent that basically says no president can ever be charged with a crime and that he/she is above the law both during their term and after!   Just NO.

There is a double standard in the minds of the maga-cult and it is a dangerous one to the fate of the nation.  I am truly curious to hear how some people would respond to my questions.

♫ Let’s Stay Together ♫ (Redux)

A day or two ago, one of you mentioned Al Green and so I asked around and …

Al-Green… look folks, it’s our friend Al Green!  What you got for us tonight Al?  Ah yeah … that’s great …

Green was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. He was referred to on the museum’s site as being “one of the most gifted purveyors of soul music” He has also been referred to as “The Last of the Great Soul Singers”.  Green is the winner of 11 Grammy Awards, including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Let’s Stay Together … that tune turns me inside-out!  I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner!  Thanks Al!

Al Green wrote the lyrics to this song; the music was written by Al Jackson Jr., and Willie Mitchell. Jackson is a legendary soul drummer who recorded with Booker T. & the MG’s; Mitchell was Green’s producer. Green did about 100 takes before he got one he liked, and even then he wasn’t sure the song was any good. It was Mitchell who set him straight, telling him it “had magic on it.”

According to Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 500 songs, after Willie Mitchell gave Al Green a rough mix of a tune he and drummer Al Jackson had developed, Green wrote the lyrics in 5 minutes. However, Green didn’t want to record the song and for two days he argued with Willie Mitchell before finally agreeing to cut it.

Tina Turner’s 1983 cover of this song revitalized her career, returning her to the charts in both the UK and US for the first time for over a decade. Now, I am a big Tina Turner fan, but for this song, only Al Green will do.  However, since Tina Turner’s version was bigger in the UK, and I have a lot of UK friends, I will play her version too.

Barack Obama sang a couple of lines of the song during an appearance on January 19, 2012 at the Apollo Theater in Harlem for a fund-raising event. Al Green was the opening act and as the American president took to the stage, he noted the soul legend’s presence in the audience and surprised his staffers close by with an impromptu spot of crooning. “Those guys didn’t think I would do it,” he joked. “I told you I was going to do it. The Sandman did not come out.”  I have included that short clip just because … I wanted to.

I used to believe that someday, some guy would sing this to me.  Sigh.  🐺


Let’s Stay Together
Al Green

Let’s stay together
I, I’m I’m so in love with you
Whatever you want to do
Is all right with me
Cause you make me feel so brand new
And I want to spend my life with you

Let me say that since, baby, since we’ve been together
Loving you forever
Is what I need
Let me, be the one you come running to
I’ll never be untrue

Oh baby
Let’s, let’s stay together (‘gether)
Lovin’ you whether, whether
Times are good or bad, happy or sad
Oh, oh, oh, oh, yeah
Whether times are good or bad, happy or sad

Why, why some people break up
Then turn around and make up
I just can’t see
You’d never do that to me (would you, baby)
Staying around you is all I see
(Here’s what I want us do)

Let’s, we oughta stay together (‘gether)
Loving you whether, whether
Times are good or bad, happy or sad
Come on
Let’s stay, (let’s stay together) let’s stay together
Loving you whether, whether times are good or bad

Songwriters: Willie Mitchell / Al Green / Al Jackson Jr
Let’s Stay Together lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

Can Democracy be Saved, and what happens if it’s Destroyed?

Robert Vella of The Secular Jurist is a published author and political opinion writer who I have followed for a number of years. His post today is both thoughtful and thought-provoking and well worth the few minutes it will take you to read it, so PLEASE, if you read nothing else today, do read this from start to finish. I am especially drawn to the quote by Albert Einstein … truer words were never spoken. Thank you, Robert, for this well-considered post about not only our current situation here in the U.S., but around the globe.

The Secular Jurist

By Robert A. Vella – June 30th 2022

Now that the House Select Committee has begun public hearings on its investigation into the deadly and destructive January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol which attempted to forcibly overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election (see:  House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol), concern for the future of democracy has finally reached the crisis level.  What then-President Donald Trump, his Christo-fascist minions (which have seized control of the Republican Party), the white supremacist group Proud Boys, and the anti-government group Oath Keepers, among other factions, had tried to perpetrate was nothing less than a violent coup d’état;  and, that is precisely the terminology used by the committee on June 9th in its opening statements.

The political class and government bureaucracies, which had for years avoided any such…

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Only In ‘America’

Yesterday afternoon, just as I was beginning to work on a good people post for this morning, the breaking news update jumped onto my screen …

Texas school shooting leaves at least 2 dead

I stopped what I was doing and went in search of information … turns out that, as you all know by now, 19 students and one teacher, Eva Mireles, were killed … or let’s call a spade a spade … they were brutally murdered while in school, the one place our children should be able to feel safe!  The death toll may yet rise if some of the students taken to the hospital don’t survive, or if students still missing are later reported to have died.  Plus, the 18-year-old shooter shot his grandmother, who is in critical condition in the hospital, before setting out for Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

This, my friends, is what Texas Governor Greg Abbott proudly said just one year ago …

No license or training is needed. 🙄 YOU, Greg Abbott, have the blood of these children on your hands and you will never be able to wash it off!  Senator Mitch McConnell, who has an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA), claims to be “horrified and heartbroken” and yet time and time and time again he has had the opportunity to pass meaningful gun legislation that might have prevented the 18-year-old shooter from getting his hands on a gun.  YOU, Mitch McConnell, and every other Republican legislator who has blocked gun regulations, also have blood on your hands!!!  And U.S. Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz, sent thoughts and prayers and said he disdains any discussion on gun legislation.  YOU, Cancún Cruz, also have blood on your hands!!!

Days like today, I am so very thankful for a President who is compassionate and caring.  President Biden gave a speech yesterday evening where he said …

“Another massacre at a Texas elementary school. Beautiful, innocent second, third, fourth graders. As a nation, we have to ask: When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? Why? Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen? Where in God’s name is our backbone, the courage to do more and then stand up to the lobbies? It’s time to turn this pain into action. I am sick and tired of it. We have to act. And don’t tell me we can’t have an impact on this carnage. For God’s sake, we have to have the courage to stand up to the industry.”

And former President Barack Obama issued a statement …

“Nearly 10 years after Sandy Hook — and 10 days after Buffalo — our country is paralyzed, not by fear, but by a gun lobby and a political party that have shown no willingness to act in any way that might help prevent these tragedies. It’s long past time for action, any kind of action. And it’s another tragedy — a quieter but no less tragic one — for families to wait another day.”

I cannot help but share the pain of the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandparents and friends of those 19 children tonight.  Picture being a parent at work, getting that phone call …

Eleven days ago, ten people were murdered in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.  Yesterday, 20 people, 19 of them children, were murdered in school, just two days before the end of the school year.  Where are all those ‘pro-life’ people???  Probably out there carrying signs that read “You can’t take my guns!” or some such drivel.  My granddaughter, when I told her about the school shooting, asked what kind of country this has become.  Not a very nice one, I’m afraid.

Just as I was finishing this post, I saw one from John Pavlovitz that I hope you’ll take a moment to read, for he said it far better than I ever could.  I hope you can understand why this post replaced today’s ‘good people’ post.  I will try to get one out later this week, but if not, there’s always next Wednesday.

Meet The New Press Secretary!

I will miss Jen Psaki.  After the 4 years of the previous administration with such reprobates as the bumbling Sean Spicer, the nasty Sarah Huckabee Sanders, silent Stephanie Grisham, and the grand bimbo Kayleigh McEnany, Ms. Psaki has been as a breath of fresh air.  I shall miss her compassion and her intelligence, as well as her uncanny ability to put an antagonist in his place without missing a beat.  Would that we could make her position a lifelong appointment …

But Ms. Psaki said early in her tenure that she would not stay for the entire 4-year term of the Biden presidency, and in fact she expected to stay only a year or so, but a series of crises – the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the continuation of the pandemic, among other issues – convinced her to stay longer.  However, she has other fish to fry, and we owe her a debt of gratitude for bringing intelligence, humour and dignity back into the White House pressroom.

And now, it’s time to move on.  But my sadness over Psaki’s leaving is offset by my joy at her chosen replacement!  Allow me to introduce Ms. Karine Jean-Pierre.  Jean-Pierre has been White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary since 2021 and served as the chief of staff for vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris on the 2020 United States presidential campaign.  Prior to that, she was the senior advisor and national spokeswoman for MoveOn.org and a political analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. She is also a former lecturer in international and public affairs at Columbia University.

Ms. Jean-Pierre’s educational background makes her a fine fit for the office of press secretary:  She is a graduate of the New York Institute of Technology. She received her MPA from the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University in 2003, where she served in student government and decided to pursue politics.

She brings a combination of education and experience that far exceeds any of the four from the previous administration.  Oh yes, and she adds something else to the Biden administration:  diversity.  You see, Ms. Jean-Pierre is the first Black woman and the first openly gay person to serve in this position.  Now, I’m thrilled about the diversity, happy to see that President Biden is keeping his promise to diversify the executive branch, but I don’t want that to be the sole focus, for Ms. Jean-Pierre is more than that.  It would be unfair to assume that she only got the job because of her skin colour or gender identification.  She is a well-qualified woman who will do an excellent job … and she has a big pair of shoes to fill!

In making the announcement, President Biden said …

“Karine not only brings the experience, talent and integrity needed for this difficult job, but she will continue to lead the way in communicating about the work of the Biden-Harris Administration on behalf of the American people. Jill and I have known and respected Karine a long time and she will be a strong voice speaking for me and this Administration.

Jen Psaki has set the standard for returning decency, respect and decorum to the White House Briefing Room. I want to say thank you to Jen for raising the bar, communicating directly and truthfully to the American people, and keeping her sense of humor while doing so. I thank Jen for her service to the country, and wish her the very best as she moves forward.”

Ms. Jean-Pierre and her partner, CNN correspondent Suzanne Malveaux, are the parents of one daughter.  As she said of her work in the Obama White House …

“What’s been wonderful is that I was not the only; I was one of many. President Obama didn’t hire LGBT staffers, he hired experienced individuals who happen to be LGBT. Serving and working for President Obama where you can be openly gay has been an amazing honor. It felt incredible to be a part of an administration that prioritizes LGBT issues.”

Welcome aboard, Ms. Jean-Pierre … we look forward to seeing you in action!  And Ms. Psaki – you will be missed, and yours will be a long-lived legacy, for you restored so much to the position.  Thank you for all that you did.

Jen Psaki (right) getting ready to hand over the reins to Karina Jean-Pierre

A Brit’s Point of View …

Apparently, someone asked the question on social media, “Why don’t the Brits like Donald Trump?”  Nate White, an articulate and witty writer from the United Kingdom wrote the following response:

“A few things spring to mind.  Trump lacks certain qualities which the British traditionally esteem. For instance, he has no class, no charm, no coolness, no credibility, no compassion, no wit, no warmth, no wisdom, no subtlety, no sensitivity, no self-awareness, no humility, no honor and no grace – all qualities, funnily enough, with which his predecessor Mr. Obama was generously blessed.

So for us, the stark contrast does rather throw Trump’s limitations into embarrassingly sharp relief. Plus, we like a laugh. And while Trump may be laughable, he has never once said anything wry, witty or even faintly amusing – not once, ever. I don’t say that rhetorically, I mean it quite literally: not once, not ever. And that fact is particularly disturbing to the British sensibility – for us, to lack humour is almost inhuman. But with Trump, it’s a fact.

He doesn’t even seem to understand what a joke is – his idea of a joke is a crass comment, an illiterate insult, a casual act of cruelty. Trump is a troll. And like all trolls, he is never funny and he never laughs; he only crows or jeers. And scarily, he doesn’t just talk in crude, witless insults – he actually thinks in them. His mind is a simple bot-like algorithm of petty prejudices and knee-jerk nastiness. There is never any under-layer of irony, complexity, nuance or depth. It’s all surface.

Some Americans might see this as refreshingly upfront. Well, we don’t. We see it as having no inner world, no soul. And in Britain we traditionally side with David, not Goliath. All our heroes are plucky underdogs: Robin Hood, Dick Whittington, Oliver Twist. Trump is neither plucky, nor an underdog. He is the exact opposite of that. He’s not even a spoiled rich-boy, or a greedy fat-cat. He’s more a fat white slug. A Jabba the Hutt of privilege. And worse, he is that most unforgivable of all things to the British: a bully.

That is, except when he is among bullies then he suddenly transforms into a snivelling sidekick instead. There are unspoken rules to this stuff the Queensberry rules of basic decency & he breaks them all. He punches downwards – which a gentleman should, would, could never do and every blow he aims is below the belt. He particularly likes to kick the vulnerable or voiceless – and he kicks them when they are down.

So the fact that a significant minority – perhaps a third – of Americans look at what he does, listen to what he says, and then think ‘Yeah, he seems like my kind of guy’ is a matter of some confusion and no little distress to British people, given that:  Americans are supposed to be nicer than us, and mostly are. You don’t need a particularly keen eye for detail to spot a few flaws in the man. This last point is what especially confuses and dismays British people, and many other people too; his faults seem pretty bloody hard to miss.

After all, it’s impossible to read a single tweet, or hear him speak a sentence or two, without staring deep into the abyss. He turns being artless into an art form; he is a Picasso of pettiness; a Shakespeare of shit. His faults are fractal: even his flaws have flaws, and so on ad infinitum.

God knows there have always been stupid people in the world, and plenty of nasty people too. But rarely has stupidity been so nasty, or nastiness so stupid. He makes Nixon look trustworthy and George W look smart. In fact, if Frankenstein decided to make a monster assembled entirely from human flaws – he would make a Trump.  And a remorseful Doctor Frankenstein would clutch out big clumpfuls of hair and scream in anguish: ‘My God… what… have… I… created? If being a twat was a TV show, Trump would be the boxed set.”

In addition to finding it humorous, I found that I couldn’t disagree with a single word of it!  The Brits have far more history than the United States has, far more experience in humanity and governance. We are relative newcomers, still in the puberty stage of our growth as a nation and feeling the growing pains every day.  We might do well to listen to them on this one.  And then again … they have Boris!

Flag pins, anthems and sedition

It often amazes me how many in this nation have re-defined such things as ‘patriotism’. Our friend Keith shines a light … asks us a question … and his are words of wisdom as always. Short, sweet, and to the point … thank you so much, Keith!

musingsofanoldfart

About ten years and two presidents ago, a guy named Barack Obama was vilified for his temerity for not wearing a US flag pin. How dare he his critics resounded?

About five years and one president ago, a guy named Donald Trump made huge deal about the sacrilegious actions of Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the national anthem as he protested the maltreatment of African-Americans. As a result of his notorierty, Kaepernick remains unemployed even though he led his team to the Super Bowl.

Less than two years ago, the then president claims the 2020 election was actually won by him and it was stolen from him, even though he cannot prove his claims in courts of law (winning one case out of about 65), recounts, reviews and audits. At this person’s impetus, he invites “true patriots” to Washington to force the hand of Congress and declare him the victor…

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Black History Month — Carter G. Woodson

Today is February 1st and, as such, is the first day of Black History Month, celebrated in the U.S. throughout the month.  For literally centuries Black people have been sold into slavery, abused, brutalized, and murdered for no reason other than the colour of their skin.  The saddest thing of all is that in this, the 21st century, there are still large numbers of people who believe that Black people are somehow ‘inferior’ to whites.  We’ve abolished slavery, seen societal and legal strides toward equality, overthrown Jim Crow, and still … today in the United States, Black people face frequent barriers to equality and sometimes barriers to life itself.

Filosofa’s Word will publish several posts in the coming month highlighting some of the achievements of Black people and their struggle for equality and justice.  I’d like to start with an article I ran across on History.com about the renowned Carter G. Woodson.  Naturally, I had a vague notion of who Mr. Woodson was, as I’m sure most of you do, but I learned a lot about the man and the role he played in bringing Black culture to the forefront.


In 1915, Carter G. Woodson traveled to Chicago from his home in Washington, D.C. to take part in a national celebration of the 50th anniversary of emancipation. He had earned his bachelor’s and master’s degree at the University of Chicago, and still had many friends there. As he joined the thousands of Black Americans overflowing from the Coliseum, which housed exhibits highlighting African American achievements since the abolition of slavery, Woodson was inspired to do more in the spirit of celebrating Black history and heritage. Before he left Chicago, he helped found the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). A year later, Woodson singlehandedly launched the Journal of Negro History, in which he and other researchers brought attention to the achievements of Black Americans.

Born in 1875 in New Canton, Virginia, Woodson had worked as a sharecropper, miner and various other jobs during his childhood to help support his large family. Though he entered high school late, he made up for lost time, graduating in less than two years. After attending Berea College in Kentucky, Woodson worked in the Philippines as an education superintendent for the U.S. government. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Chicago before entering Harvard. In 1912, three years before founding the ASNLH, he became only the second African American (after W.E.B. DuBois) to earn a doctorate from that institution.

Like DuBois, Woodson believed that young African Americans in the early 20th century were not being taught enough of their own heritage, and the achievements of their ancestors. To get his message out, Woodson first turned to his fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, which created Negro History and Literature Week in 1924. But Woodson wanted a wider celebration, and he decided the ASNLH should take on the task itself.

In February 1926, Woodson sent out a press release announcing the first Negro History Week. He chose February because the month contained the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two prominent men whose historic achievements African Americans already celebrated. (Lincoln’s birthday was February 12; Douglass, who was formerly enslaved, hadn’t known his actual birthday, but had marked the occasion on February 14.)

As schools and other organizations across the country quickly embraced Woodson’s initiative, he and his colleagues struggled to meet the demand for course materials and other resources. The ASNLH formed branches all over the country, though its national headquarters remained centered in Woodson’s row house on Ninth Street in Washington D.C. The house was also home base for the Associated Publishers Press, which Woodson had founded in 1921. 

The author of more than 20 books, including A Century of Negro Migration (1918), The History of the Negro Church (1921), The Negro in Our History (1922) and his most celebrated text, The Mis-Education of the Negro (1933), Woodson also worked in education, as principal for the Armstrong Manual Training School in Washington, D.C., and dean at Howard University and the West Virginia Collegiate Institute.

Clearly, Woodson never viewed the study of Black history as something that could be confined to a week. As early as the 1940s, efforts began to expand the week of public celebration of African American heritage and achievements into a longer event. This shift had already begun in some locations by 1950, when Woodson died suddenly of a heart attack at home in Washington.

With the rise of the civil rights and Black Power movements in the 1960s, young African Americans on college campuses were becoming increasingly conscious of the historic dimension of their experience. Younger members of the ASNLH (which later became the Association for the Study of African American History) urged the organization to change with the times, including the official shift to a month-long celebration of Black history. In 1976, on the 50th anniversary of the first Negro History Week, the Association officially made the shift to Black History Month.

Since then, every U.S. president has issued a proclamation honoring the spirit of Black History Month. Gerald Ford began the tradition in 1976, saying the celebration enabled people to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Ronald Reagan’s first Black History Month proclamation stated that “understanding the history of Black Americans is a key to understanding the strength of our nation.”

In 2016, Barack Obama, the nation’s first Black president, made his last proclamation in honor of Woodson’s initiative, now recognized as one of the nation’s oldest organized celebrations of history. “As we mark the 40th year of National African American History Month, let us reflect on the sacrifices and contributions made by generations of African Americans, and let us resolve to continue our march toward a day when every person knows the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

UNCONSCIONABLE!!!

The Republicans have crossed that line in the sand, they have gone too far, and it’s high time to stop them, even if it requires emergency procedures that defy their “constitutional rights”.  They are costing us our lives and I for one am sick and damn tired of it!  Jamelle Bouie writing for the New York Times sums it up in his most recent column … guaranteed to make you growl and stomp your feet.


Do Republicans Actually Want the Pandemic to End?

Aug. 31, 2021

By Jamelle Bouie

Opinion Columnist

President Barack Obama promised unity. In his 2008 campaign, he said he would heal the nation’s political divides and end more than a decade of partisan rancor.

To keep this promise, Obama needed allies, or at least partners, in the Republican Party. But they said no. If they could block Obama — if they could withhold support on anything significant he planned to do — then they could make him break his promise. Republicans would obstruct and Obama would get the blame. Which, you might remember, is what happened. By the 2010 midterm elections, Obama was a divisive president.

Joe Biden, in his 2020 campaign for president, promised to get the coronavirus pandemic under control. With additional aid to working families and free distribution of multiple effective vaccines, he would lead the United States out of its ongoing public health crisis.

I think you can see where this is going.

Rather than work with him to vaccinate the country, Biden’s Republican opposition has, with only a few exceptions, done everything in its power to politicize the vaccine and make refusal to cooperate a test of partisan loyalty. The party is, for all practical purposes, pro-Covid. If it’s sincere, it is monstrous. And if it’s not, it is an unbelievably cynical and nihilistic strategy. Unfortunately for both Biden and the country, it appears to be working.

Naturally, some of the loudest vaccine-skeptical Republicans are in Congress. “Think about what those mechanisms could be used for,” Representative Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina said of the Biden administration’s plan for door-to-door vaccine ambassadors. “They could then go door-to-door to take your guns. They could go door-to-door to take your Bibles.”

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia has similarly criticized the president’s effort to reach the unvaccinated. “People have a choice, they don’t need your medical brown shirts showing up at their door ordering vaccinations,” she tweeted. “You can’t force people to be part of the human experiment.”

Cawthorn and Greene are obviously fringe figures. But these days, the fringe is not far from the center of the Republican Party (if it ever was to begin with). Their rhetoric is not too different, in other words, from that of their more mainstream colleagues in the Senate.

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has attacked vaccine mandates — “There should be no mandates, zero, concerning Covid,” he said in a recent interview with the Fox News host Sean Hannity — while Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has urged Americans to “resist” efforts to stop the spread of the virus. “It’s time for us to resist,” Paul said in a video posted to Twitter. “They can’t arrest all of us. They can’t keep all of your kids home from school. They can’t keep every government building closed, although I’ve got a long list of ones they might keep closed or ought to keep closed.”

Republican rhetoric in Washington, however, is a sideshow to the real fight over Covid, in states like Florida and Texas.

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis rejected vaccine passports and launched an aggressive campaign against mandatory mask-wearing in schools. “It is very important that we say, unequivocally, no to lockdowns, no to school closures, no to restrictions and no to mandates,” he told a gathering of conservative activists in Utah last month. DeSantis has suspended city and county emergency orders, put limits on future mitigation efforts and signed a law that “shields nursing homes, hospitals and businesses from legal liability if employees and patrons contract the virus on their premises.”

All of this, even as the state has been ravaged by the Delta variant of the virus. Florida has been reporting more than 20,000 new infections a day and has averaged 262 Covid deaths — the most of any state, at least in absolute numbers. More than 16,000 people are hospitalized and thousands have been taken to intensive care units. Who does DeSantis blame for these outcomes? Biden.

“You know, he said he was going to end Covid. He hasn’t done that,” the Florida governor told the Fox News host Jesse Watters last week. “At the end of the day, he is trying to find a way to distract from the failures of his presidency.”

In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott has banned mask mandates, signed legislation that would deny state contracts or licenses to businesses that require proof of vaccination and — after recovering from a breakthrough Covid infection himself — barred local governments from requiring the vaccine for any public agency or private institution. In a statement, Abbott said that this was to avoid a “patchwork of vaccine mandates across Texas.” But in a message to the state legislature, the governor appeared to be asking lawmakers to consider an outright ban on vaccine mandates. On Aug. 25, the day Abbott sent his message, Texas reported more than 23,000 new cases of Covid, along with 14,000 hospitalizations and 245 deaths.

Abbott and DeSantis are not alone. Earlier this month, the Republican governor of Arizona, Doug Ducey, created two new grant programs that would give funds to families and school districts that rejected mask mandates. And in South Dakota, Gov. Kristi Noem once again cheered the Sturgis motorcycle rally, a year after it contributed to a Covid outbreak throughout the region and into the Midwest. This year, health officials have already linked the rally to cases in Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

The effect of all of this for the country is a pandemic that won’t die. The effect of it for the Republican Party is a substantial part of its base that won’t take the vaccine. According to data collected by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Republicans lag behind most of the rest of the country in vaccine uptake; 54 percent said they had received at least one dose at the time of the survey, compared with 67 percent of all adults. And the effect of this for Biden is a sharp drop in his approval rating; a Reuters poll conducted mid-month found the president down 21 points among all Americans for his handling of the pandemic.

What amounts to a Republican effort to prolong the pandemic shows no sign of abating. It may even get worse, as powerful conservative media personalities spread vaccine skepticism and embrace dubious miracle cures like ivermectin, a drug typically used to treat parasitic worms in livestock, not viruses in humans.

If Biden does not want the kind of backlash that his Democratic predecessor faced, he needs to act aggressively to push the United States off its vaccination plateau. Republicans might be setting him up to break his promise to stop Covid, but the president should understand that he’s not actually at their mercy.

Profit Over People — The “American” Way

Sure, go ahead, blame President Biden.  Blame George W. Bush, blame President Obama, blame the former guy … there’s plenty of blame to spread around.  Blame the military advisors who advised Bush and Obama (the former guy took advise from nobody, believing he actually had a functional brain).  Blame your Aunt Mabel for all I care.  The bottom line is that there was only one winner in the entire U.S.-Afghanistan fiasco:  private military contractors.

If you purchased $10,000 of stock evenly divided among America’s top five defense contractors on September 18, 2001 — the day President George W. Bush signed the Authorization for Use of Military Force in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks — and faithfully reinvested all dividends, it would now be worth $97,295.  Not a bad return on investment, eh?  Defense stocks outperformed the stock market overall by 58 percent during the Afghanistan War.  Those top five biggest defense contractors?

  • Boeing – $8.2 billion profit in 2017
  • Lockheed Martin – $2 billion profit in 2017
  • Raytheon – $2 billion profit in 2017
  • Northrop Grumman – $2 billion profit in 2017
  • General Dynamics – $2.9 billion profit in 2017

People’s lives don’t really matter to the CEOs of these companies whose eyes only light up when they see $$$$$$$$$$.  Not Afghani lives, not U.S. or British lives, only profit matters.

It is right and proper that we leave Afghanistan – we never should have gone there in the first place and for damn sure shouldn’t have stayed 20 years, but … all those lovely profits!  How the withdrawal came about and how it was transacted will be questioned for many hears henceforth and fingers will be pointed, blame will be dispersed, and at the end of the day, nothing will have changed.  The U.S. will not have learned a lesson from this, but will continue to display its extreme arrogance in believing that they have all the best solutions and eventually, perhaps sooner than later, there will be another Afghanistan.

Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing every single defense contractor in bankruptcy by the end of next year and the U.S. defense budget for new military hardware reduced to zero.  I would far rather my tax dollars be spent helping people with such things as education, food, shelter, job training, than spent on killing machines.  However, mine is a humanitarian viewpoint, or one of a snowflake liberal as I’m often told, who cares more about people and animals than I care about profit and power.