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Monday, June 29, 2020

ARE THE REPUBLICANS PRACTICING A SCORCHED EARTH APPROACH TO THE 2020 ELECTION?

Just straight out of the gate the question has to be asked. Are Republicans letting Donald Trump do so much damage that a Democrat in the White House and in control of both chambers could not possibly succeed leaving easy wins in 22 and 24? The pattern of Republican/Conservative governments mismanaging the government leaving others to clean it up then getting back in promising the moon, is pretty common. But this feels different, and for sure is extreme in a way only 2020 could offer up.

Most have struggled to explain how and why the Republicans have become so bent down before an inexperienced obviously outclassed and incapable person. At times, only blackmail makes sense and it seems foolish to believe the Russians only hacked the Democrats. There is lots of material available to coerce Republicans who have a long history of yelling virtue while doing the opposite.  Jeffery Epstein's demise is not without questions, but evidence on it is in the conspiracy theory realm. All of that to the side, Americans are dying by the thousands due to an inexcusably negligent government response to COVID-19, evidence of corruption is obvious and apparently legitimate, and the Republicans November fortunes appear to be going up in flames.

People of all races in America are coming together to shout enough, to the endless parade of police killing people of color, without consequences, the military is being used to threaten US citizens while at the same time being targeted with bounties with no action from the White House. AND Trump's Attorney General is making a concerted effort to destroy the Rule of Law and the DOJ. We completely understand, there is far toò much to tackle at once, but there is a clear, "let it burn and roast a marshmallow" atmosphere coming from the Republicans.

It is more important to be vigilant now than ever, and not make this into a win/win scenario for the party that has stunningly allowed much of this to happen. If there is a cheat in with help from another group then American democracy is finished. If the scorched earth approach is truly what is happening, a return to Republican rule with a president who is not as inept could see a swift return to the road to dictatorship.  The GOP must be soundly defeated in November and then followed up with FAIR and JUST investigations and prosecutions where warranted. If there are no consequences for the last 4 years, the American dream was just a fairytale. 

Thursday, June 18, 2020

THE NRA AND SECOND AMENDMENT ARE JUST MORE AMERICAN RACISM

The astonishing silence of the NRA in the wake of George Floyd's murder at the hands of a white police officer and world wide protests condemning it and the plight of black people in America, speaks volumes. It speaks to the systemic racism in the NRA and to the validity of the NRA as an organization. It also screams volumes about the validity of the NRA's arguments supporting the interpretation of the individual rights afforded by the Second Amendment.

If the argument is, the Second Amendment is designed to ensure the American people have a right to maintain arms as a means of protecting themselves from government tyranny, then surely the NRA should be standing tall with the message that arming black Americans would be the best way to counter police violence. They should also be showing the constitutional protections in place to allow an individual to take action against a police officer or any other government official. They are not making this argument and, rightly, SHOULD NOT BE. It does though, lay bare both the obvious racism of the NRA and the obsolescence of the second amendment as it is currently flogged on Americans.

When multiple shooting incidents happen in the United States, the vast majority are carried out by white men. Each of these incidents spurs the discussion of implementing commonsense policies. You can always count on the NRA to stand up and argue against denying powerful weapons to white men who kill indiscriminately with them.
You can also count on desperate and pointless politicians to use the Second Amendment as a racist dog whistle. Jim Jordan did that on Twitter today when calling out Chief Justice John Roberts for doing his job fairly.

There are no provisions in the Constitution of the United States that allow for an individual to make a determination of tyranny, nor, for certain,  to act on it with lethal force. It's impossible, since one person may see speed limits in a school zone as a tyrannical interference instead of a reasonable rule allowing for the safety of children. Instead, as we are seeing now, the framers allow for "peaceable assembly" to redress greivince.

The NRA'S silence on the second amendment right for black Americans to arm and defend themselves against police brutality is not wrong. No such right exists, nor does it exist for white men arming themselves then protesting at Michigan's state capitol to intimidate state lawmakers, except the NRA pushes it and system allows it, in obvious racial bias. It's time to admit the NRA's racist bias and close it down. The Second Amendment, as it is currently pushed, is a relic that needs reform as well.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

IS IT DESPERATION BY DESIGN?

This one got started before the protests surrounding the curbside execution of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The point was always going to be simple:

YOU CAN'T PUT PEOPLE IN DESPERATE SITUATIONS AND BE SURPRISED WHEN THEY COMMIT DESPERATE ACTS.

It's really easy, people who have hope and a way to make that hope reality will work within the system available to make their situation better. Stack the system against them, kill them randomly without recourse or consequence and they will come up with the consequence on their own, and that is what we are seeing now in the United States. It is particularly evident in the lives of people of colour and first nations people in North America.

Whether it's lack of access to education or testing criteria that is slanted to favor a particular type of person or group. Setting aside the issue of systemic racism which can have some innocent participants; ("it's just how we've always done it...") and consider the way, primarily Republican and conservative controlled jurisdictions keep people on the edge. Programs that can help people survive and move forward have long been proven to help people back on their feet and make society safer. They don't though, offer as much opportunity for control.

The conservative preferences is to keep people desperate, focused on survival, stressing about their day to day, leaving the conservative/Republican power brokers free to continue manipulating the system without thoughtful oversight from an informed public. 

This blog was always intended to shine facts onto discussions all too often dominated by feelings, and far too often misinformation, or as we like to call them LIES. But this goal has become insufficient. The lies and outright fraud being pushed as news and all overtly intended to fraudulently manipulate the choices people are making need to be countered. It is not ever appropriate to 
Outright lie, but we MUST get more aggressive in confronting the tactics being used to take over the world. 

All the campaigns and organizing voters means nothing if obvious REPUBLICAN VOTER SUPPRESSION AND FRAUD are not aggressively countered and exposed. Voter suppression is perhaps the most egregious crime committed against a democracy.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

TRUMP WEAPONIZES CORONAVIRUS AND RELEASES IT ON HIS OWN CULT FOLLOWING.

The virus has NOT been modified or lab created, nor has it been concentrated or redistributed. Trump
and FOX#### have though, dampened down the science and understanding of the virus and the pandemic to the point where their following almost gleefully put themselves in danger in a way they would not if they were given proper information. The motive is hard to understand. Do they completely take for granted the loyalty of the millions of people following them, that they are willing to sacrifice themselves and their families to prove a point, that is false on its face?

Millions of Americans,  primarily Trump supporters crammed into bars, onto beaches and tourist sites this holiday weekend. People are understandably eager for some sense of what we have all come to know as normal life. Through crafted messaging though,  these people are being misinformed that this event is rather on the way to being finished or never really was all that bad, 100,000 deaths be damnd. In doing this the Trump Administration is politicizing and weaponizing the pandemic response. 

The irony in all of this, the weaponized response is being aimed with laser-guided precision on Trump's own power base. It seems ironic, but it could also be exactly to plan. It has always been unclear who in the Trump Administration is calling the shots. As cases in the south continue to rise and hospital capacity falls will the willing followers finally being to look at the reality around them and compare it to the stream of lies and misinformation from Trump, FOX#### and AON? The people are dying and sooner or later have to draw the conclusion that the picture they are being asked to believe isn't the same as where they are.
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Any way you look at things in the USA right now there is a single common DESTABILIZED reality, growing harsher and harsher, day by day. The every day running of America is more unstable every day. We all know who benefits most from this reality, and it seems certain that Trump will continue to weaponize this situation as long as Putin continues to work on his campaign from the back rooms.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

TROUBLE FOR CHINA, AS THE WORLD NOW KNOWS THERE CAN'T BE ONE SUPPLIER OF EVERYTHING.

As the world was getting settled into the system of almost everything being made in China, COVID-19 sends a wakeup. There can't be just one central hub for manufacturing, no matter how convenient or enriching. The ramifications of this are enormous economically and geopolitically. 

China has long sought a position of global influence more in line with being not only the largest nation by population but also being able to track its national story for millennia. As the world's one stop shop for almost everything manufactured they were looking at, soon, being able to assume that mantle. Economic power has been shifting toward China as the market for cheap consumer goods turned their capacity for production and lower labour cost into a siren call to western corporations eager to sell high volumes, repeatedly to consumers eager for the low cost and throw away convenience. China also offered a means of moving production away from, in particular, North American production facilities in favor of the lower cost, lower regulated Chinese environment. COVID-19 has exposed the problems with focusing too much reliance on one economy for the production of what would become essential supplies.

There is malice being expressed as a result of the emergence of COVID-19 out of mainland China, but it is at best uninformed, and, also, unfortunately, it comes as faux blaming for political cover, by the always faux, Trump Administration. The reality is its a system that is not workable, globally. The truth is we can't have manufacturing capacity all tied to one country, or region for that matter because some supplies can't be interrupted. 

Malicious or not, the necessary reduction of reliance on China for all things manufactured has the same effect on China. A reduction of its global power just as it was about to assume the mantle of a true global superpower. There is going to be frustration and true angst in the power lines in China as its economic outlook changes. How well it adjusts will depend on the ambitions of the leadership and the attitudes of the world around us. 

If we turn to an atmosphere of blame and politically convenient bashing, the capacity that exists can be quickly turned to arming a hostile cornered feeling China. The world, by necessity will be a different place as a result of COVID-19. What that difference looks like, is up to all of us to craft.

Friday, May 15, 2020

WHAT'S HAPPENING TO THE ECONOMY ISN'T A DOWN TURN.

There is a lot of talk and concern about a depression or recession associated with the COVID-19 Pandemic. This is not the reality of the current situation.  As I said in a tweet, calling this a down turn is like calling Hurricane Katrina a housing shortage. This disaster is blowing the economy over, but that is not the primary issue. The primary issue is 10s of thousands, to hundreds of thousands of Americans dying. While the hurricane is still blowing is no time to send out some kid to start the coffee and put out the donuts for the morning rush.

There should be a simple common sense path forward. First you deal with the disaster, then you worry about the financial impact. Note, the word simple does not mean the same as easy. The game of Golf is simple, get the little ball into the hole in as few shots as possible. The simple goal is not easy.
This pandemic is a hurricane of a disease causing virus. As long as they are circulating there is going to be infections, illness and death. There are other illnesses out there causing sickness and death, but the Coronavirus causing COVID-19, according to qualified experts, is unique in its ability to spread and its wide range of targets then it attacks the human body.  It comes from a family of viruses that include most if not all strains of the common cold. The family also contains the SARS virus, which this one, by my reading at least, is most directly related to.

By my non-expert understanding, one of the differences between this and the SARS outbreak of earlier this century was the severity of illness. SARS didn't have a range of illnesses, to say, if you caught SARS you became very sick, period. (There were a very few exceptions) So it was relatively easy to contain. If you had it, you were in the hospital, likely ICU, you weren't in the grocery store sneezing on a shopping cart. That is not the case today. People have a wide range of illnesses from deadly, to zero symptoms at all. The zero group is what makes this one so hard to control. People with zero symptoms are able to infect large numbers of people around them and not know its happening.  Many of those people will get ill, some will die, others will without symptoms be new spreaders. THAT is the howling pandemic wind blowing down the economy.

As in a hurricane we should not, cannot, ask people to risk the howling wind for non essential purposes to keep money moving. No one needs to go bowling in a howling hurricane and no one needs to go bowling in howling pandemic. First things first, deal with the disaster we have little control over, THEN we can deal with the new economic reality without turning the pandemic into a much deeper crisis than it already is. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

TRUMP'S REALITY CAN'T CHANGE NATURE'S

As the reality of the COVID-19 Pandemic continues to descend on to the White House and its staff it is becoming clear that Trump's reality can't avoid it. This, though, doesn't mean that he will accept what is happening, literally in his own back yard. 

The deaths of over 80,000 American citizens to this pandemic has not phased him and there is no let up in sight. There can't be a let up without definitive action from his administration, and he clearly has little interest in that. Unable to field questions from a press conference on the Rose Garden and constant tweeting about Obama make it clear that Donald Trump is out of the game.

Testing in America remains a shambles everywhere but the White House. Now that there is an increasing number of staffers testing positive for the virus there is no shortage of kits and supplies for tests there. The other place testing is supplied and run well is in Donald Trump's immigration. As is required, the staff and others around him are seeing and propagating the Trump Testing Myth. The reality on the ground, reported by the front line workers is vastly different. There is nothing shocking about disconnect between the real world and Trump's reality. Trump sold his image effectively for years in an environment where the "behind the scenes" reality really was behind the scenes and you could choose what happened in front of the audience.  The presidency isn't supposed to work that way; que Mitch McConnell. 

Somewhere there has to be a breakthrough in reality, but with the GOP enabling Trump's fantasy it seems sadly unlikely. 

Monday, May 11, 2020

125 THOUSAND AND COUNTING. STOP REPEATING THE LIES

This blog started off as fact-checking and presenting factual information in a way that I hoped people would understand. I soon acknowledged the resources involved were too great. People needed to understand what was happening to them and that they were being fooled. Pieces talked about trying to understand how you can be manipulated, like "Are You Being Informed Or Inflamed". Discussing how emotion is used to override your critical thinking and make you feel a certain way about an issue instead of knowing about it and then making up your own mind about how you feel. We discussed recognizing bias and opinion as opposed to facts in something you are reading, We've asked the question, "Does Donald Trump Lie?", or is he just relating what he sees from a point of view that is not based in the reality we all live in.

 It has also been raised on this blog that we should not be repeating Donald Trump's lies and views over and over again to "fact-check" them because that is not what we are really doing. When we do this we are click-baiting to try and get clicks from people trying to feed on our collective rage against Trump. It is purely a money making ploy, and it further distributes his messages of division and hate. We have watched over time as the handlers and manipulators behind the scene have been tearing down the institutions that protect the United States from sliding into dictatorship, and therefore protect the world from having a dictator with the power of the American military and nuclear forces wondering what their long term game is. Are they colluding with a foreign power or clearing the way for a future autocrat to ascend to power using the doors that are being left open now. It's a scary time, without the pandemic, but the pandemic has laid bare the urgency of the moment in immediate terms. What is taking place around the botched response to the real and immediate crisis of COVID-19 in the states is undeniable. It stark and immediate terms, the actions of the White House is directly costing the lives of 10 of thousands of Americans. The world has become accustomed to, maybe too much so, American leadership in times like these. Her might, ingenuity and sheer power have helped guide, or even just push the international community through some tough times. What is going on, now. will seemingly drag us down for far longer than what may be needed.

To be clear and upfront, this blog is located outside the United States, but only the most naive look at American politics and believes its influence is restricted to the borders of the USA. We all have a stake in what goes on in Washington, as did the rest of the world have a stake in what was going on in Berlin Germany in the 1930s. With this in mind, it seems like it is time to become a little more offensive in the approach. Launching a few twitter missiles at this guy, to change a few minds is now in order. To be clear, no misinformation. Just putting some truths out there in a way that may get some attention, MAY open a few minds.




Sunday, April 19, 2020

DON'T LET CONSPIRACY BE YOUR COMFORTER.

There are plenty of reasons to question the motives of governments but the prevalence of conspiracy theories has become invasive. Speaking only of the current pandemic I have some thoughts.

I'm not speaking as an expert, since I am not, but I am not without experience. I have been a part of pandemic planning meetings on both a provincial and national level in a previous career path. What I bring from that is a lack of surprises in the current situation.  Pandemics are cyclical, have a reasonable predictability of occurance, and a particular hallmark of being new enough that there is no herd immunity in the general population.

At the time I was involved we were almost exclusively discussing novel influenza. It had the most historical prevalence and at that time we were a good 15 to 20 years overdue.  I had responsibility for managing the volunteer group that deploys the field hospitals we have heard so much about lately. Planning and training sessions covered many scenarios on macro and minor levels. Who was essential and may get access to medicine in limited supply,  what role military can fill, what can be done to reduce transmission, what makes a good location, etc...

We live in an era controlled by humans, so of course there are those who may seek to take advantage of the situation. There isn't clear evidence that this virus didn't form in nature as has been happening for eons, and in my understanding is not acting in a way or being responded to in a suspicious or surprising way.

Conspiracy can be comfortable because it hints at control. The notion that there is a process in nature that seems to have, as it's main purpose, developing ways to kill us is scary as hell. If we lump it on unseen human villains then we can defeat it and make it stop. In the end a pandemic becomes no different than other natural events like hurricanes,  earthquakes or wildfires.  All you can do is heed the warnings,  prepare as much as you can and take shelter.

WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER

STAY SAFE AND NURTURE YOUR SANITY

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

ARE YOU SEEING RED?

The battle against propaganda and fraudulent misinformation is of key importance, and not just in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. From the election of Donald Trump to BREXIT and other issues, misinformation is a tool being used by governments, extremists and criminal organizations for a lot of reasons and with a lot of success.

Extremist views are fostered and deeply implanted in memory by overriding critical thinking with emotional responses. Fear and anger are the most effective tools for this as they tie directly into eons old fight or flight instincts. We remember very little detail of an hours long trip on the freeway compared to what we recall of the big crash in front of us, we only narrowly missed being part of. Adrenaline is very effective at imprinting memories when we are startled. In the past if you walked around a big tree and a lion was there, the fear imprinted the memory so you would recall that a lion may be on the other side of that big tree.

No matter the subject a person can't have their views challenged if we can't prove the argument against the view. The problem is not that there isn't enough evidence to prove the argument, but rather its getting people to accept the evidence supporting the truth. This brings us to the opening question,  "do you see red?". The colour red is simply red. If I was converted by an extremist and no longer accepted red as red, how would you try to prove red is red?

I am not a cult deprogrammer so have no idea how this concept fits into that scenario, but I do know from discussions with family and friends that winning over someone has to do with them believing the correct information. Immigration is an example. The argument is that we support immigrants with our tax payer dollars and they are on support forever. In Canada for sure, broadly, this is untrue. There are bad examples for sure, but on mass, the data and experience on the street confirm that immigration brings in hard working and industrious people, who, after a little help getting settled become very productive members of our communities paying substantial taxes in support of our government services. That is the red people have been told is blue, (or green, etc. pick your colour) but we can't prove it because they have been conditioned to set aside the facts.

Let's be clear, this issue exists on both sides of most ideological issues. Religion,  Capitalism, Socialism, Feminism, Misogyny, pick your ism and you will find blinded activists and supporters unable to see red as being red when it doesn't support their position. How do we alter this dynamic? Is it enough to simply make people aware of the manipulation at play? This very much seems to be something that has been tried. We all have our blind spots, this writer included. Belief gets in the way of a ton of facts.

Somehow we need to become able to look at things and trust our senses. If it swims like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, for the love of human kind, it's a duck, darn it. You can't change it into a swan by ignoring the fact it's a duck. Taking us back to the original point, if you want it to be a swan, how can I prove it's a duck, how do I prove red is red?

Thursday, April 9, 2020

WHAT IS THE "DEEP STATE"?

So as near as I can understand the conspiracy theory of the "deep state" is something like this. There is a group of unelected people that control everything going on in government sabotaging everything the elected leaders try to do in order to keep control of the country and the people.

What is the real deep state?

Dedicated professionals who have made a living and a commitment out of protecting and serving the people of their country. They are not just in America but in nations around the world. These professionals are working harder than ever and are at risk more than ever. As you listen to the conspiracy kooks and propaganda frauds take a few minutes to think about where you would be without the hard work and continuity these public servants provide.


Tuesday, March 3, 2020

COVID-19. FACTS MATTER, NOW MORE THAN EVER.

More than ever before, at least the last several years, facts matter.  They matter on a global scale and even more directly they matter at the level of you and your family. Covid-19 is a real emergency,  though exactly how big of an emergency, we don't fully know. I live in the Canadian prairie in a medium size city. For us, as far as we are aware, at this moment, there is minimal risk. The cases in Canada are currently on the west coast and our main population center in and around Toronto. Theses are literally in the thousands of kilometers away from me.

Do I need to be concerned? Yes.

Do I need to prepare? Yes.

Do I need stockpile supplies? Yes, well sort of.

Do I need isolate from the world? Maybe?

Answering these questions and making decisions requires accurate information and FACTS. We can act based on the opinions of recognized experts, but even there, the opinions they give us need to be informed based on the best FACTS. Fringe politics uses lies and propaganda to convince followers of vast conspiracies. Autocratic leaders mix truth and outright fiction to muddy the reality and keep people in line and the Trump administration appears to be employing these tactics around Covid-19 to cover up their mistakes, misjudgments and outright incompetence on a number of fronts.

Let's look at those earlier questions along with some links to the experts so you can access the information without having to rely on a guy from the Canadian prairies whom you have never met.

Do I need to be concerned?

Yes, we all do, but concern is not panic. Concern m
eans there is an issue or event that can affect you in a negative way and you are aware of it. Being aware and concerned gives you the motivation to take required actions to prepare you and your family.

www.hc-sc.gc.ca Health Canada
www.cdc.gov U.S. Center for Disease Control

Do I really need to prepare?

Yes we need to prepare, and prepping is not only smart it is patriotic as well. Being prepared is calming as well. When you have a plan and resources ready, it is far easier to take a breath and assess what is going on around you.

When we take the time and expense to prepare for a situation that we know is possible, if not certain, we reduce the load on the support systems. These support and response systems are very likely to be pushed to and often passed the breaking point. Not having to respond to issues that could have been prevented with citizen preparedness will be huge in managing a developing crisis. Don't forget, the rest of the natural world is not stepping aside to give COVID-19 the disaster monopoly.  There is still going to be floods, fires, earthquakes and storms along with other disaster events. So PLEASE prepare in a reasoned and responsible way.

Do I need to stockpile supplies?

Yes, but stockpiling is not hoarding. You need, primarily, to be able to know you can comfortably last in your house or apartment for two weeks,  without going out, if you are required to self-isolate. That is literally two weeks inside the waĺls of your place without leaving. Food, water, cleaning, toiletries, pet supplies, medication, snacks, hobbies, beverages etc.

Hand sanitizer and products like household bleach are valuable in controlling viruses and bacteria in your home. Authorities are trying to get across an important message. STOP BUYING MASKS! The type of cloth, "surgical" mask at most stores is not effective for this purpose. Save your money, don't drain the supply for professionals who can make effective use of these masks.

You will also need to pack the right attitude. If this is the request made of you it is not punishment,  it is the protection of you and your community. Being prepared makes this possibility easier to deal with.  I said easier, not easy. It will put significant strain on you and your family, but it is vital to manage the impact of COVID-19 in our communities.

www.hc-sc.gc.ca Health Canada
www.cdc.gov U.S. Center for Disease Control

Do I need to isolate from the world?

Maybe, but not forever,  and not walking dead style.  As mentioned above you may be requested or even required to self-isolate. That is up to your local health authorities. They will base this on the situation on the ground where you are.

FACTS MATTER, you can't expect to make good decisions without good information. Check with your local health and emergency preparedness departments for your local situation.  More broadly check with national health and disease prevention authorities. There is a ton of bad information swirling around, make sure you are getting the good stuff. If anything you have read on here conflicts with your local health authorities, for God's sake listen to them.

www.hc-sc.gc.ca Health Canada
www.cdc.gov U.S. Center for Disease Control

Friday, February 28, 2020

COVID-19 IS REAL. PREPARING IS IMPORTANT AND PATRIOTIC.

Preparing for Covid-19 and the increasing likelihood of a pandemic is key to avoiding the growing fear becoming panic. The fear is reasonable and frankly justified, panic is not.

So much can circle around the internet on any subject that it's hard to know what is real and what is fake, what is true and what is innocently false. There are bad actors out there who are trying to make political gains, and obviously con artists will be trying to take advantage the situation.

First and foremost commit yourself to getting correct information. You may not like it, it may be uncomfortable to hear, but it is key to correctly planning your response. Don't rely on a single source of information, for sure not this single source. Conditions and realities will vary from town to town, nevermind in different states, provinces and countries.

There will be a broad spectrum of experience ranging from almost no impact on daily life to extreme disruption of routine or even normality. If more people are reasonably and rationally prepared, the weight on the system,  from local through national will be eased and they will be far more responsive. It can be frustrating getting ready for a crisis that doesn't turn out as bad as expected, but if it happens to you, get over it. Being prepared makes emergencies less severe, that's the point.

www.cdc.gov U.S. Center of Disease Control
www.hc-sc.gc.ca Health Canada

Remember, commit yourself to getting correct information. The links above are a good start, local health and emergency preparedness organizations should also be looked at.