Archive | September, 2020

213. Re Virus: Expert Timely Action Was Needed

22 Sep

If our current president had acted early and thoughtfully, many lives lost to covid-19 could have been saved. Nations that worked very seriously on virus control had very few cases and deaths. Below, is a list of significant US actions and inactivity.  Our President was a businessman, with many business failures, and no government or medical experience.  How could he be expected to deal effectively with an extremely complicated issue like a major pandemic. 

The Global Health Security and Biodefense Unit was established by
President Obama in 2015 to deal effectively with problems such as viruses, like covid-19. Apparently, with little consultation and analysis, Trump abolished this unit. Just imagine how different our response to the danger could have been if this unit was in effect and Trump followed its recommendations. 

Trump failed to make early preparations for fighting this virus. Instead, he told everyone not to be concerned and the virus would soon be gone. The US could have been working on this problem early in January, instead, there were at least two months of  little activity. The only thing Trump did early, was to stop travel from China. If he had worked with experts, they would have discovered that travel from Europe was much more dangerous. Initially, New York was under very serious attack.

An effective US leader would have encouraged research and organized necessary supplies. We could have developed very effective methods, and we could have helped other countries in their use. It seems that Trump does not understand that helping others will also help the US.

IGNORING THE DANGERS.  From January 2020 to present (September) Trump has mostly minimized the dangers; presumably to make himself look better for the upcoming election. Journalist Bob Woodward presented to the public, tape recordings of his interviews with Trump. The recordings showed that he was very aware of the virus dangers, but “downplayed” them to avoid “panic.” An experienced leader would have concluded that it was much more important for the public to take the threat seriously, than to be concerned about panic. Trump stated numerous times that the virus will simply “disappear,” without any authoritative justification for this conclusion. He spoke of the development of a “herd mentality.” He actually meant “herd immunity,” which occurs when a high percentage of the population can no longer be infected.  Most experts believe that to quickly achieve herd immunity would result in too many deaths and so would be unacceptable.

FAILURE TO SUPPORT MASK USE AND DISTANCING.  With only a few exceptions, Trump has discouraged the use of face masks, social distancing, and avoidance of crowds. For a while, he was chiding people that wore masks. A responsible president would know that leadership and setting a good example is expected. Yet, for a long time, Trump would never wear a mask and often was too close to others. But what was more egregious, he held several large rallies where most were without masks, and people were crowded together.  Note that the Woodward tape recordings showed that Trump was aware of the airborne spread of this virus.

FAILURE TO PROVIDE EQUIPMENT.  Fighting a virus like covid involves the manufacture of massive amounts of equipment, including: advanced masks, hospital gowns, ventilators, etc. Trump refused to use the Defense Production Act, which could have forced the production of essential items. He could have organized the production of supplies, but instead said that governors would have to be responsible. It was several months before adequate equipment, such as PPE (personal protective equipment) was available. Meanwhile, doctors and nurses were being infected. 

RUSHING THE VACCINE.  Trump has often been in conflict with his medical experts, such as Anthony Fauci, MD. The experts say that it will take several more months before a vaccine is approved and that it will be at least six more months before it is generally available. Trump wants to rush the vaccine because it will help with his election. There are several problems with rushing.  The first is that it could take considerable testing time before harmful side effects are discovered. Safety has been a primary concern after the 1961 thalidomide tragedy, in which thousands of babies had birth defects or died. The second is that if the vaccine effectiveness does not reach a certain level (ranging between 50 and 70%), it is useless — and large quantities created at great expense would have to be destroyed. A third consideration, is that with all of the controversy associated with rushing approval, many folks will simply refuse to take it.

Early in the year I noted that medical experts estimated that it would take  at least a year or a year-and-a-half before a vaccine would be available. Current population of the US is 328 million.  At the assumed two-doses per person, this would require the manufacture, bottling, storage and application of about 500 million doses (some would not need it).  It is a huge project, and such projects usually take longer than expected because there are unanticipated difficulties. Developing virus testing methods will have similar problems. 

FINAL THOUGHT.  I am guessing that it will be two or three years before the virus will be at an insignificant level. The money spent in developing and applying vaccination and virus testing for most of the population will be colossal. We spend it, in order to save many lives, a worthwhile goal.  However, I fear that much of the money will be spent unwisely and wasted. Consider that many will refuse the vaccination and the virus testing. Both the vaccination and testing may have high error rates. Many will always refuse masks, distancing and washing. 

But I have had this thought, which may be way off base. What if we spent less money on the virus and used the savings for effective research and solutions to the climate-change dilemma, which also costs many lives, and in addition, the destruction of homes and property. My feeling is that we will waste huge amounts of money related to the virus, when more lives might be saved by increasing our efforts on the climate. As the years go by, the climate will be much more of a problem than the virus.

What do you think?

 

212. Trump Corruptions of the 2020 Election

14 Sep

Trump often complains that US elections are rigged. But it appears that most of the rigging is done by Trump himself or his associates (including Russian Vladimer Putin). Here are examples of this rigging:

In speeches, Trump has made numerous statements designed to scare or discourage voters. It is the clear duty of a President to encourage voting as a part of the democratic process. He claims that mail-in (same as absentee) ballots are not safe, which could discourage some from voting. He claims that if he is not elected, the process was rigged and therefore invalid. Note that Trump himself, uses the same type of mail-in ballot that everyone else uses, and lies that his are special. He hopes that if rigging can be established, that he can stay in office. In the end, it might take the Army to get him out of the White House, but foolishly, he recently insulted the military leaders.

Trump has discouraged or ignored attempts to make US voting safer from foreign attack. Major government efforts to fight foreign influence have been ignored by Trump.

The Trump impeachment was about a corruption of funding for Ukraine, in its fight against Russia. Funds appropriated by Congress were delayed until the Ukrainian President would agree to declare an investigation of the Joe Bidens son.

Post Office: Trumps man, Postmaster General DeJoy, slowed down mail delivery, through the elimination of sorting machines, variations in scheduling, and changes in personnel. Slowdown could benefit the
President in several ways. In one way, fewer Democrat mail-in ballots would be counted. In another way, the election would never be completed and presumably Trump would stay in office longer. Postmaster DeJoy is now under investigation.

Census. He attempted to cut down the time for Census completion so that fewer poor people would be counted. This would allow more federal funds and other benefits to go to Republican areas. The Census is provided for in the US Constitution and its corruption distorts many government functions.

Attorney General Barr meddled in the prosecution and sentencing of Trump criminal staff. Trump wanted his staff to look less criminal, better for election. Commuting sentences and hinting at pardons was used to discourage testimony against him.

Attorney General Barr undermined the Mueller Report by misrepresenting its conclusions. Barr stated incorrectly that there was a complete exoneration of the President, making him look better for re-election. Note that the investigative work of Mueller was limited to certain safer subjects and that Trump never gave actual testimony.

Intelligence Agencies. He forced the modification of intelligence reports to obscure Russian election interference. A whistleblower claimed that reports needed to change to be consistent with his policies.

CDC and Medical experts: Trump minimized the dangers of the virus. See Woodward’s voice tapes in which he confessed to downplaying the virus to prevent “panic.” But obviously it is not about panic, which he promotes in many other ways.* Virus deaths reflect poorly on his time in office and would harm his election success. He has downplayed the virus from its onset to today. It is reported that Trump associates have pressured scientists to alter reports so as to support his election needs

In many instances, scientists have been pressured or fired in an effort to improve Trumps election chances. For example, a report on climate-change would be altered to indicate less danger.

The use of the White House as a GOP convention backdrop is a violation of tradition and may violate laws (like the Hatch Act). The White House is supposed to be used for government purposes and not for any political functions. There are numerous violations in this area.


*Examples of Trump promoting panic: He tried to scare suburban people with the possibility that low-grade housing would be built in their neighborhoods; which only he could prevent. He tried to scare people by emphasizing violence, riots, and destruction of property. He falsely claimed that Democrats were responsible for the riots and that only he could prevent riots.