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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. 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?

Choosing Party over Country

As we go about the ordinariness of our lives, making breakfast, chatting with friends, shopping for groceries, and watching Netflix, our government is under attack by a political party that holds its power to be more important than our democracy. The GOP, for more than 20 years has been on the attack, and the end game grows more clear with each passing day.

Historian Heather Cox Richardson in her “Letters from an American” chronicles the events. The post below cites some of the current actions that should alarm all of us. But it is the inaction of GOP leadership that signals where the GOP is headed.

Some will say that HCR is an alarmist, others that she is partisan. Ask yourself this, “What behaviors do you see in the GOP leadership that suggest that we should NOT be concerned?”

Here is what I see:

  • Actions to foster distrust of our elections.
  • Years of strategic work to disenfranchise opposition.
  • Support of secretive gerrymandering.
  • Pandering to fringe elements of the GOP base.
  • Inaction on obvious corruption.
  • Near total partisan obstructionism.
  • Purges of moderate leadership.
  • Improper courting of foreign propaganda support.
  • Desperate efforts to prevent investigation of January 6th.

And this is only an off-the-cuff partial list.

Abandoned Values

Once upon I time, I considered myself a Republican. I believed that the GOP provided a critical check on the financially irresponsible and overly idealistic social theories of Democrats. I was, in those days, a fiscal conservative who believed that the government should only do those things not practical for the private sector: defense, highways, postal service, and the appointment and regulation of certain public utilities.

But today’s GOP does not represent the interests of our public welfare. It serves a tawdry amalgam of self-serving and short-sighted mostly deplorable interests. My long-time friend and fellow blogger, John Graham speaks my mind in the following post:

John’s life and writing speak his commitment to the transcendent values that have sparked America’s bravest and best moments – values that are enshrined in the world’s great religions and philosophy’s most celebrated thinkers. These are the values we wish our politicians would hold to be paramount, values that take precedence over personal or tribal power.

How bad must it Get?

For decades our best and brightest have warned of the disasters that we now grapple with. Those who knew better spent millions on media to dissuade us from doing much about it lest corrective action hurt profits. (They still do! Politicians exploited resistance to reform. (They still do).

Americans are being played. Reality is catching up with the big lies and it is grim indeed.

Wear it anyway

It seemed too good to be true, that once vaccinated we could return to life as before — maskless and carefree. It now seems clear that vaccinated people can carry the virus without getting very sick, meaning that it spreads in crowds despite most individuals being vaccinated. Herd immunity may elude us; the vaccine may only prevent mortal illness in those who get it.

We all should wear masks when indoors where conditions for contagion prevail. Click the article below to read more.

This news makes it all the more evident that vaccine resistance and hesitancy is a suicidal chance to take. Russian roulette comes to mind.

Unvaccinated people risk a horrific death. Period. Full stop.

Jarring Reminder

Friday night I remarked to Marguerite about how nice it was not to have had some gut-wrenching news bomb dropped by our President late Friday afternoon and how good it was to go to bed confident that the ship of state was in competent hands.

This morning the L. A. Times reminded me not to go to sleep…

Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, May 15, 2021.

Let’s take a look back at the week in Opinion.Two weeks ago, judging by your emails, I upset a number of readers by writing this in the newsletter: “At best, today’s Republican Party is a dwindling reactionary faction bereft of workable ideas; at worst, it is a nationalist, race-baiting, Trumpist sect that threatens American democracy.” The observation then was pegged to news that the movement to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom had gathered enough signatures to force an election, but now it applies just as neatly to the spectacle that played out in Washington this week over Rep. Liz Cheney’s (R-Wyo.) unremarkable yet heretical honesty about Donald Trump’s dangerous mendacity.

Cheney, as you may know by now, was removed from her House Republican leadership position because of her continuing insistence that Trump is lying about the 2020 election being stolen and that he deserved to be impeached for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection. Your mileage may vary on whether it was Cheney’s embrace of the truth or her inconvenient stridence in telling it that got her removed from leadership — a topic explored by former GOP operative Scott Jennings. But there should be no mistaking what this means for the party: It is a movement devoted not to an ideology or an approach toward governing, but almost solely to Trump. It is a party about its leader and not about any ideas. In other words — and to borrow Masha Gessen’s phrasing — the Republican Party is an autocratic party.

Some have found different ways to say this; many L.A. Times readers prefer to describe today’s GOP as a cult, language that was used in a Times editorial referring to a Trumpist cult within the party. I prefer Gessen’s language here, mostly because cults tend to direct their predatory energy inward and close themselves off to the world (except to gain new followers). Describing the Republican Party as an autocratic movement acknowledges the cultishness that exists while also conveying the threat to democracy it poses.

For all its ideological degradation and self-delusion, the GOP is certain to govern again soon, and in its current state it will do so as a fully Trumpist, openly autocratic party.

How fortunate we are to live in California.

If you love truth, justice, liberty, and American democracy, don’t get too relaxed. Those who thirst for power and those whose interests are not aligned with the common good are busy at their nefarious work.

At least forty percent of us are being played with great success. Paul Thornton’s opinion is well grounded.