Category Archives: Uncategorized

How we went wrong

“Denial is not a river in Egypt.” This joke has become a cliche among those who understand addiction. But willful blindness to reality is not exclusive to addictive behavior. Reality has a way of biting those who deny it, as President Trump is demonstrating as he fights his personal infection with the COVID-19 virus.

Though few ordinary citizens think much about it, our government at all levels is big on being prepared. We have an Office of Emergency Management at city, state, and federal levels that seeks to anticipate what will be needed when emergencies arrive.

Detailed plans are made that establish the systems needed to coordinate first responders and mobilize needed resources before, during, and following an emergency. The COVID-19 pandemic was not unanticipated. Plans were made. But they were largely ignored.

Mail-in doublespeak

While he publicly disparages mail-in ballots, his mailings to GOP voters say something else: “Important Notice: Requesting your General Election Ballot is a safe and secure way to guarantee your voice is heard.” Yup, that’s right, if you are a Republican he wants you to know it your mail-in ballot is safe and secure, despite anything he may be saying on TV.


This is the third GOP sponsored mailing in three weeks that has provided an appliction form for the mail-in ballot.

Here is PBS’s excellent program on the reliability of the Mail in ballot.

Since the original posting of this article, Trump supporter Brian Fitzpatrick has added his mailer to the other three offering a mail-in ballot application.

Teflon Don no more


It didn’t need to be this way.

It doesn’t need to be this way.

The President is accountable, but the propaganda and disinformation coming from Fox News and Sinclair Broadcasting shield his base from reality.

In March, 63% of Fox News regulars, polled by the non-partisan Pew Research Center’s Election News Pathways Project said the president’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic was “excellent”. Just 23% of average Americans – and a mere 2% of MSNBC regulars – agreed.

The Guardian

Denial has been lethal for tens of thousands because the US did not and does not have a coherent strategy for limiting contagion. The economic cost will be many multiples of what is might have been limited to judging from the experience of more successful countries.

Source: Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Center

This cumulative curve of deaths per 100,000 population continuse to have a steep rise. Testing indicates a rising trend in positive results as a percent of those tested — and indicator of accelerating spread. Business and school openings will tend to increase contagion.

Political Violence

The violence that has marked the BLM protests is deplorable. Data shows that right-wing violence exceeds radical left-wing violence about two-fold, although DHS has attempted to suppress that fact in reporting on violence.

Now we see a coordinated effort by people close to DJT, and DJT himself, to incite violence.

I’ve been urging those I correspond with to look past the words at the actions.  I also urge that we look at the character of the people involved. Roger Stone in this instance.  He boasts about (and markets) his talent for lying to manipulate elections. And then there are all the Russian operatives.

God Save America.

Unthinkable? The Warnings Signs are here

Historians are seeing the parallels between authoritarian takeovers of european democracies, and what’s happening in America. It can’t happen here, we are inclined to think.

But those who study history aren’t so sanguine. They aren’t lulled into complacency by the normalcy of work, home life, entertainment, … all the stuff that remains routine, except for COVID-19 of course.

Timothy Snyder, the Levin Professor of History at Yale University, distilles his concerns into a short, punchy book. “Today our political order faces new threats, not unlike the totalitarianism of the twentieth century,” he warns.

Timothy Snyder

Historian Heather Cox Richardson echoes the same sentiment, most explicitly in this recent post on her blog “Letters from an American.”

Here is the article by Farhad Manjoo that Richardson opens with. Manjoo came to America from South Africa and he’s seen that the blessings of democracy can be lost more easily that most Americans think.

There are more authors concerned about authoritarian tyranny and the demise of democracy:

Lots of Laughs

An obscure story that DJT had mini-strokes and was rushed to Walter Reed was dismissed by most of us as speculation and rumor. When the story resurfaced with the embellishment that VP Pence has been alerted to be ready to assume presidential powers, DJT fired off a flurry of angry tweets that brought the story back into the mainstream.

When Bret Baier of the Fox News Channel asked Pence about the event, Pence said he didn’t “recall” if he had been asked to be on standby.

Does that ring true? When your main official job is to be prepared to assume the president’s duties and then, after three and a half years of staying informed and ready, you are actually alerted that the moment may be at hand, a hugely significant and dramatic event if it ever happens, wouldn’t it tend to stand out and be memorable?

Pence’s lie is transparent and laughable. Of course, the effect of DJT’s gratuitous tweets, and Pence’s obvious dodge, is to confirm beyond any reasonable doubt that the rumor was fact, not fake news.

It must be hard to live in that world of illusion, smoke, and mirrors, immersed in a perpetual fog bank where one needs to keep track of what the “alternative facts” are.

Are we now inured to mendacity?

To be inured is to become so accustomed to something negative that you no longer react.

Americans have become so accustomed to being lied to that they don’t react. No matter how flagrant or destructive, we don’t react. This makes us all the more vulnerable to being played. You say you don’t rely on anything politicians say. Yet the future of your children, your business, and what happens when you are old and frail depends on the actions of politicians.

Excessive loyalty

Anne Applebaum of the Atlantic has published the article that I would like to have written myself, but I just couldn’t quite piece my thoughts together as she has done so effectively. She lays out how Republicans’ loyalty is being played citing historic parallels. It’s clearer to us when we look at the distant past.

Good men and women, who at some point saw the danger can have their values gradually eroded when the stakes of not conforming to peer pressure are high. I’ve experienced it in business situations, and I’ve observed it in sports and religious communities. College professors study it in veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Groups can become cult-like in enforcing conformity and supressing dissent. Those on the inside lose perspective and, as the popular cliche goes, “drink the Koolaid.” If you think it couldn’t happen to you, think again. This article is long, but it is well worth reading. She’s nailed the problem both parties face.

Rights – Paying your dues

The news has featured certain people who defiantly refuse to wear masks because they say it infringes upon their God given rights. Here’s a frank rebuttal by a veteran who has paid his dues. Years of distinguished military service give his words weight that “flag-pin patriots” can’t shout down.

OP/ED – Stop being an Ugly American and wear a damn mask

JD Lock, Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (Retired), 17 July 2020

To my fellow Americans, what part about a pandemic do some of you not understand?!

Let’s start with the Pandemic 101 basics, a definition – “Pandemics happen when a new virus emerges to infect people with a disease and, because there is little to no pre-existing immunity or no vaccine against the new virus, it spreads worldwide.”

Fortunately, despite this lack of immunity and the fact that this virus is nefarious and more deadly than most, we are not defenseless against COVID-19.  Viruses are fragile.  They can be contained without vaccines or pre-existing immunity if we use common sense and are willing to make a minor sacrifice for the common good of all.

What’s this sacrifice I’m talking about?  It’s simple – wear a mask.  Per our nation’s leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, “Masks are not 100 percent protective. However, they certainly are better than not wearing a mask.”  Masks mitigate infecting others by limiting airborne virus droplets and vapors from those who’ve been infected, especially those who are asymptomatic and showing no signs.

Aside from a vaccine, masks are the most powerful, inexpensive and easiest weapon we have to confront this virus.  To wear a mask is an act of selflessness, courtesy and respect for others.  Wearing a mask is the act of a responsible, caring and empathetic American concerned about protecting others, protecting their families and protecting their community.

Yet, there are those who publicly pontificate and bellow about their “Constitutional rights” being infringed upon.  Really?  Your rights?  My father in law, Andrew ‘Ange’ McGirr, God rest his soul, was one of the most intellectually gifted individuals I’ve ever known, and I consider myself to be relatively smart, though not a “most stable genius.”  Ange was a B-25 Mitchell bombardier-navigator in the Pacific theater of operations during World War II.  He flew 71 combat missions, 68 as the lead aircraft, attacking the Gilbert Islands, Tarawa, the Marshall Islands, the Mariana Islands, Saipan and Guam.  He flew close air support during the invasion of Okinawa, bombed mainland China and Japan.  On 9 August 1945, his squadron watched as a mushroom cloud rose over Nagasaki.  He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, two Air Medals and a Presidential Unit Citation.  He lived in tents for years, he endured all sorts of deprivation and fear.  He lost four years of his early 20s fighting a war and, yet, never once in my talks with him, did he ever complain about the years stolen from his life or imply that his ‘rights’ had been trampled.

For those of you whining and sniveling about your rights being infringed upon for simply being told to wear a mask to protect others, you’re pathetic, selfish and as un-American as they come.  From what I’ve seen, I tend to believe that the vast majority of you who screech before the cameras earned your ‘Constitutional rights’ simply as a function of having been fortunate enough to have been born an American, not through any singular service or sacrifice to the nation.  To paraphrase the movie A Beautiful Mind, “Your rights are a luxury of those on the sidelines.”

Personally, I could care less whether you become infected.  Stupidity is also your right.  As Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol character Ebenezer Scrooge declared, “If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”  However, your stupidity and rights stop at the maximum range of your breath’s vapor.  At that point, you’ve crossed a line and have become a clear and present danger to me and my loved ones.  Let me ‘Trump’ your professed right with another recognized Constitutional right – that of self-defense.  You’ve been forewarned.

Like my father in law, I’ve served, twenty-eight years active duty Army – West Point graduate and professor, Ranger, Master Jumpmaster, etc.  My lungs were damaged at the WTC ground zero and I’ve already had one bout with COVID-19.  My bride of nearly three decades made me a mask from one of our grandchildren’s crib sheets.  Personally, I find it rather chic and stylish, and I’ve even been complemented on it – thanks Babe.  It doesn’t make me feel unmanly, and I don’t feel my rights being infringed upon wearing it in pubic.  In reality?  I feel I’m serving the nation in a small way, once again.

The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  Do not take advice from a reality show carnival barker who recommends drinking bleach as a vaccine while he cowardly hides behind layers of tax payer funded self-protection.  Follow the advice and recommendations of health care officials on the front lines, who have been doing this for their entire professional life.  Try to at least be a shadow of the Greatest Generation.  Stop being an Ugly American and wear a mask.  It doesn’t take big hands to put one on.

John Lock is the author of Rangers in Combat: A Legacy of Valor.