Category Archives: Uncategorized

Invisible Networks

Our modern world is interconnected by many largely invisible networks that we take for granted. No nation and no individual person can prosper without them. They are the physical manifestation of a simple truth: humans do best in collaboration with others.

The American myth of the Lone Ranger, aloof, independent and powerful is indeed a fiction. Putin is discovering that his authority is not absolute, and that his country is dependent on the goodwill of other nations.

Followers of Ayn Rand’s individualist philosophy might learn from this. Individual enterprise stands on the shoulders of networks of producers, educators, scholars, and ordinary working people who populate the social networks that prosper us all.

It’s all about community.

2/28/2022

To the point, this interview illustrates how even Putin and his supporters are deeply dependent on the financial networks of the rest of the world.

Back to Normal – Not

Our savvy about contagion has been heightened by our experience with Covid-19. Most of us now do the things that make the risk of increased social contact acceptable. We wear masks in high risk situations, we avoid some activities, we keep our resistance up with vaccine boosters.

Here’s a straight from the shoulder discourse that captures what I believe to be a sensible position to adopt.

Thanks to Doug Muder’s Weekly Sift for this link.

Better Blue than Dead?

Today David Leonhardt posted two tragic charts in his NYT newsletter, The Morning. They are tragic because they reveal the grim consequences of media illiteracy and politically motivated disinformation. Those who follow Donald Trump and believe in the GOP have sickened and died at much higher rates than those who don’t.

I think it was Stalin who said one person’s death is a tragedy, 100 deaths are a statistic. Leonhardt reveals the tragedy by focusing on a representative unvaccinated couple in New Jersey’s very pro-Trump Ocean County. The woman suffered for months in intensive care with Covid. Both are now vaccinated. The charts above show how much more likely people like them were to suffer the worst impacts of Covid-19.

Here in Bucks County, a “purple” county politically, Covid deaths have averaged five a day in recent months. It wasn’t front page news. I had to dig for the statistic. If the national trends hold true here, most were unvaccinated. Most unvaccinated people lean right politically. Many who lean right see compliance with mask requirements as a blue political statement.

If a serial killer was targeting five unmasked people a day, regardless of their politics there would be a massive mobilization of law enforcement to stop the carnage. So far I see no such reaction to our political mass killers, the ones who fuel anti-vax and anti-mask sentiment with the obvious lethal consequences. Nobody’s accusing those of railed against masks of murder.

What you believe can kill you. if you support Republican politicians, listen to what they say, what they avoid saying, and watch how they actually vote. Are they representing your family’s wellbeing? The public interest?

GOP Tells the Truth About Republicans

Well, yes. But not in the way they may have intended. Here is a “survey” they posted to their mailing list recently. I was registered as a Republican for a time, so I am on that list.

Those who know me well will recall that market research was one of my early careers. I know how to construct a survey intended to discover facts and opinions in an unbiased way. This one is carefully crafted to do exactly the opposite, and I doubt that the “results” are ever actually tabulated, except for the amount contributed.

Continue reading GOP Tells the Truth About Republicans

GOP Suicide Pact

As of November 163,000 preventable deaths were attributed to unvaccinated Americans succumbing to Covid. That is a staggering average of 900 people a day. While only 10% of those who identify as Democrats have not been vaccinated, 40% of Republicans haven’t. All the posturing and political theater by GOP leadership has fostered this tragic consequence of fear and ignorance.

If you doubt the statistics, check the source:

COVID-19 preventable mortality and leading cause of death ranking

Jared Ortaliza , Kendal Orgera Follow @_KendalOrgera on Twitter , Krutika Amin Follow @KrutikaAmin on Twitter , and Cynthia Cox Follow @cynthiaccox on Twitter
Published: Dec 10, 2021FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint

This updated issue brief examines COVID-19’s effect on mortality rates, and estimates that in November 2021, COVID-19 was number three on the list of leading causes of death in the U.S. As recently as January 2021, COVID was the number one leading cause of death, though COVID rank had briefly dropped to the 7th leading cause of death in July 2021 before the delta variant, relaxed social distancing and inadequate vaccinations led to a surge in new cases and deaths.

The analysis also estimates that nationally at least 163,000 deaths from COVID-19 between June and November could have been prevented with vaccines.

The analysis can be found on the Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker, an information hub dedicated to monitoring and assessing the performance of the U.S. health system.

One has to ask what motivates the party solidarity that tolerates so many flagrant affronts to values we once thought to be sacred: character, integrity, respect for other’s lives, and the principles of democracy. The GOP fancies itself to be the party of law and order, conserving and protecting the national interest. Where is the evidence in recent events that either GOP leadership or the rank and file care a whit for anyone but themselves?

750 A Day Dead

They waited too long. They believed the wrong people. They didn’t take it seriously. They exercised their right to be wrong. They procrastinated.

And then they died!

Ninety thousand (90,000) over four months, that is the estimate of how many have suffered needlessly and died horribly because they didn’t get a Covid-19 vaccination.

 Approximately 90,000 covid-19 deaths could have been avoided over four months of this year if more U.S. adults had chosen to be vaccinated, according to a study published Wednesday, as the disease caused by the coronavirus became the second-leading cause of death in the United States.

The estimate by researchers backed by the Peterson Center on Healthcare and the Kaiser Family Foundation focused on deaths of U.S. adults from June 2021 — when the report says coronavirus vaccines became widely available to the general public — through September.

But around half of those preventable deaths occurred in September because of the spread of the more contagious delta variant, easing of social distancing rules, and the lower vaccination rate among younger adults, according to the study.

In September, covid-19 was the leading cause of death for adults ages 35 to 54, while it was the second-most common reason for mortality among the larger population, even when including data for children under 15, the study showed.

“The overwhelming majority of covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths continue to be preventable,” the authors said.

  During the January-February period, the worst days of the pandemic so far in terms of the number of fatalities, covid-19 was the most common cause of death for Americans, the study showed, surpassing the usual culprit — heart disease — during that period.

Washington Post Oct. 14, 2021

750 a day is tragic. And then there is the collateral damage of spreading the curse of Covid-19 to those they love and to others close enough to share a few of their final breaths.

News We Trust

How to know what information is trustworthy has grown in importance since Sue Mehrtens and I wrote our books on the topic. Political propaganda is now openly fostered. It’s not just spin, it is deliberate campaigns of tactical disinformation that target vulnerable groups in our electorate.

The national media also skews left or right to segment the market for their “product” — the shows that command big advertising revenues. Regrettably, journalistic integrity suffers.

On Tuesday, September 28, I hosted a panel of local journalists who spoke about how they know the truth. I was expecting to get stories about tells of the sort that poker players look for. You know, a nervous flutter of the eyelids, the use of phrases like “let me be perfectly clear,” and such.

I got much more. The three journalists spoke candidly about how very hard it is to get to the truth, and what it costs them in emotional energy and stress. I’m sharing the video here because I think you will find it both inspiring and reassuring to know that local news has people of this level of integrity.

Subscribe to a local paper, contribute to public radio and TV, donate to organizations that do investigative reporting without political motive — in doing so, you defend democracy and the independence of the working press.

BIG Round Numbers

The US National Debt grows ever faster. Now it is $28 Trillion dollars. The deficit (increase in debt) during the last presidency was 7.8 Trillion, or just shy of two trillion a year and double the one trillion rate of the Obama years.

Our lame-duck US Senator Pat Toomey would like you to think that the present administration is profligate. Here’s what he says:

Yes, $3.5 trillion is big. But we also need perspective here. If this is a spending spree, then what was the GOP’s thought in cutting taxes? That’s about $3 trillion in lost revenue. But the GOP also left us a legacy of future debt. FactCheck.org quoted the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget as follows:

By September 2020, CRFB estimated the legislation and executive actions signed by Trump would be responsible for $3.9 trillion in higher deficits through 2026. The bulk of that — $2.3 trillion — was attributed to lowering taxes, while increases in defense and veterans spending ($950 billion) and nondefense discretionary spending ($700 billion) made up the rest. “It is important to note that this debt was also approved by Congress, about half on a broad, bipartisan basis,” CRFB said.

These are significant numbers, and Toomey over his many years in politics has been complicit. Both parties spend our money on a grand scale, the difference is who and what they spend it for.

Business people say, “You have to spend money to make money.” Biden wants to build back better. The GOP says, … hmm I can’t recall. I think it was eliminating the national debt that they promised. Well, have they actually proposed anything? Or did they just spend reactively, with little or no real plan except for the tax cut?