Trump and CORVID-19

As CORVID-19 transitions to being a huge issue in the US, it might be easy to forget how we arrived here. Below is an incomplete chronology of quotes, mainly from Trump. (Note some of the list I cribbed from reddit).

January 3: The CDC is first alerted to a public health event in Wuhan, China

January 8: CDC issues first warning.

January 18: Trump dismissed January coronavirus warnings from Health Secretary Alex Azar as ‘alarmist’. Was more interested in vaping ban.

January 22: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”

January 29: WH internal memo by Peter Navarro: “The lack of immune protection or an existing cure or vaccine would leave Americans defenseless in the case of a full-blown coronavirus outbreak on U.S. soil,” the memo said. “This lack of protection elevates the risk of the coronavirus evolving into a full-blown pandemic, imperiling the lives of millions of Americans.”

January 30: “We have it very well under control. We have very little problem in this country at this moment — five. And those people are all recuperating successfully”

February 2: “We pretty much shut it down coming in from China.”

February 7: “Great discipline is taking place in China, as President Xi strongly leads what will be a very successful operation. We are working closely with China to help!”

February 9: (Trump) shared with Fox News his view that “China is very, you know, professionally run, in the sense that they have everything under control. I really believe they are going to have it under control fairly soon.”

February 10:

February 13: “We think and we hope, based on all signs that the problem goes away in April.”

February 14:

  • “There’s a theory that, in April, when it gets warm ― historically, that has been able to kill the virus. So we don’t know yet; we’re not sure yet.”
  • “I think it’s going to work out fine. I think when we get into April, in the warmer weather, that has a very negative effect on that and that type of a virus.”

February 19: “I think the numbers are going to get progressively better as we go along”

February 20: Stock Market crashes

February 24: 53 Confirmed Cases

  • is very well under control in our country,” Trump told reporters, adding, “We have very few people with it, and the people that have it are in all cases [doing well], I have not heard anything other [than that].”
  • Trump tweets that the virus “is very much under control” and the stock market “starting to look very good to me!”
  • We’re really down to probably 10, most of the people are outside of danger right now.”

February 25: 57 Confirmed Cases

  • “CDC and my Administration are doing a GREAT job of handling Coronavirus.”
  • “I think that’s a problem that’s going to go away… They have studied it. They know very much. In fact, we’re very close to a vaccine.”
  • A senior White House official falsely claims the virus has been “contained”
  • Trump falsely claims Ebola mortality was “a virtual 100%”
  • Trump falsely claims “nobody had ever even heard of Ebola” in 2014

February 26: 60 Confirmed Cases

  • Trump wrongly says the coronavirus “is a flu”
  • Trump wrongly says the flu death rate is “much higher” than Dr. Sanjay Gupta said
  • You have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.”
  • “We’re going very substantially down, not up.”

February 27: “It’s going to disappear. One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”

February 28: 63 Confirmed Cases

  • Trump baselessly hints at an immigration link to the virus
  • At a rally in South Carolina – “They tried the impeachment hoax. That was on a perfect conversation. They tried anything. They tried it over and over. They’d been doing it since you got in. It’s all turning. They lost. It’s all turning. Think of it. Think of it. And this is their new hoax.
  • Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus, you know that, right? Coronavirus, they’re politicizing it. We did one of the great jobs. You say, ‘How’s President Trump doing?’ They go, ‘Oh, not good, not good.’ They have no clue. They don’t have any clue.”
  • “We’re ordering a lot of supplies. We’re ordering a lot of, uh, elements that frankly we wouldn’t be ordering unless it was something like this. But we’re ordering a lot of different elements of medical.”

February 29: Trump exaggerates Tim Cook’s comments about Apple and China

March 1: Azar wrongly says 3,600 people have been tested

March 2: 100 Confirmed Cases

  • Trump falsely claims “nobody knew” the number of US flu deaths
  • Trump says a vaccine is coming “relatively soon”
  • “You take a solid flu vaccine, you don’t think that could have an impact, or much of an impact, on corona?”
  • “A lot of things are happening, a lot of very exciting things are happening and they’re happening very rapidly.”

March 4: 158 Confirmed Cases

  • “If we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work — some of them go to work, but they get better.”
  • Trump falsely claims Obama impeded testing
  • Trump wrongly says as many as 100,000 people died of the flu in 1990
  • Trump says “the borders are automatically shut down”
  • Trump says he believes there was a coronavirus death in New York, though there hadn’t been one
  • Trump falsely claims the Obama administration “didn’t do anything” about H1N1

March 5: 221 Confirmed Cases

  • “I NEVER said people that are feeling sick should go to work.”
  • “The United States… has, as of now, only 129 cases… and 11 deaths. We are working very hard to keep these numbers as low as possible!”
  • Trump misleadingly describes a Gallup poll relating to his handling of the virus
  • Trump wrongly claims the virus only hit the US “three weeks ago”

March 6: 319 Confirmed Cases

  • “I think we’re doing a really good job in this country at keeping it down… a tremendous job at keeping it down.”
  • “Anybody right now, and yesterday, anybody that needs a test gets a test. They’re there. And the tests are beautiful…. the tests are all perfect like the letter was perfect. The transcription was perfect. Right? This was not as perfect as that but pretty good.”
  • “I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it… Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for president.”
  • “I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault.”
  • As the number of cases and deaths in Italy rises, Trump says the number is “getting much better”
  • Trump exaggerates the number of people on the Grand Princess cruise ship
  • Trump falsely says US coronavirus numbers “are lower than just about anybody”
  • Trump baselessly muses that “maybe” the coronavirus improved US jobs numbers
  • It came out of China… we closed it down, we stopped it.”
  • Azar wrongly claims there is no test shortage
  • Trump says he crisis is “an unforeseen problem” that “came out of nowhere”.

March 7: Asked whether he was concerned about the virus’s spread on March 7, the president said, “No, I’m not concerned at all. No, I’m not. No, we’ve done a great job

March 8: “We have a perfectly coordinated and fine tuned plan at the White House for our attack on CoronaVirus.”

March 9: 704 Confirmed Cases

  • Pence says Trump’s “priority” was getting Americans off the ship
  • “The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, is doing everything within its semi-considerable power (it used to be greater!) to inflame the CoronaVirus situation, far beyond what the facts would warrant.”
  • “This blindsided the world.”

March 10: “It will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.”

March 11:

March 13: 2,183 Confirmed Cases

March 14: “It’s something that nobody expected

March 15: “TODAY IS A NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER. GOD BLESS EVERYONE!”

March 16:I give myself a 10 out of 10

March 17: “I’ve felt it was a pandemic before it was called a pandemic. All you had to do was look at other countries…I have always viewed it as very serious.”

March 23: 43,781 Confirmed Cases

March 24: 54,856 Confimed Cases

March 25: 68,211 Confirmed Cases

  • The LameStream Media is the dominant force in trying to get me to keep our Country closed as long as possible in the hope that it will be detrimental to my election success. The real people want to get back to work ASAP. We will be stronger than ever before!”

March 26: 81,896 Confirmed Cases

  • The USA has the most confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world.

March 28: 123,578 Confirmed Cases

March 29: “My administration has done a job on really working across government and with the private sector, and it’s been incredible. It’s a beautiful thing to watch, I have to say.”

March 31: 163,788 Confirmed Cases

April 1: 188,639 Confirmed Cases, 4059 Dead

April 2: 240,344 Confirmed Cases, 5,807 Dead

April 3: 273,777 Confirmed Cases, 7,028 Dead

Some other useful links

“I’ve felt it was a pandemic before it was called a pandemic. All you had to do was look at other countries…I have always viewed it as very serious.”

Donald TRUMP (MAR 17 2020)

Wait. What? If we believe him, that makes the months of saying ‘it’s not a problem’ much much worse after all he ‘felt’ it was a big problem. If he’s lying (what’s new) then after realizing it really is a problem he’s lying through his teeth. So now we are supposed to believe this guy who has just flipped 180 and now ‘doing stuff’ is doing the right things for the right reasons and doing them well? No. He’s still the same corrupt, lying, incompetent, gas-lighting narcissist he was before.

We also can’t forget the playing the violin whilst Rome burns meme that Trump tweeted out. It’s hilarious aMiRiTe? No. If it makes sense – it means he’s laughing at your adversity. Or it doesn’t make sense because he doesn’t understand what it means. Maybe it’s both.

In the past Trump and his administration has been described as malice tempered by incompetence. There is some truth here perhaps in that if he wasn’t so inept the amount of damage he could have inflicted could have been far worse.

With CV-19 we are in an exciting new phase of ‘malice and incompetence’.

In a normal world he would resign. But we know that’s not going to happen not least, because if he does and some of his surrounding lackeys are likely going to jail.

One thing Trump and co put a lot of time and effort into is lies and covering up. Unfortunately because Trump, the Republicans and the surrounding entourage of grifters, sycophants and apologists, the ‘checks and balances’ have been broken and ignored. Even inept cover ups work surprisingly well. The population at large deals with this largely by a combination of ignoring it and excuses.

There may have been a slight shift, even some conservative pundits are now openly criticizing him. I wouldn’t hold your breath for Republicans to do anything meaningful. They are all in on driving off the cliff.

That impeachment acquittal is not aging well is it? It was obvious then and now – forgetting everything else (like obvious crime) – Trump is unwilling and unable to do the job.

There is plenty more that can and should be said about this. I wrote this post mainly to record the prior events. Who knows quite how this will play out – but hoping for the best and preparing for the worst is sensible. That the next danger, over and above the obvious is, how Trump and Republicans will use “never let a good disaster go to waste”?

Don’t panic. Be safe and careful out there.

Trump and Excuses

This post is about excuses. It is not really about the excuses made by Trump and the Republicans or their followers. Those explanations typically don’t make too much sense. No, this post is about excuses and explanations used to explain the inaction of people who are or you’d think would be against what Trump and Republicans are doing.

Post impeachment acquittal Trump is now openly and brazenly attacking his ‘enemies’. Otherwise known as people doing their job and trying to maintain the republic often at great personal risk. Some of which in the past might even have been called heroes. So you might think and hope you’d see large scale push back from the American population.

The reality is far more muted.

The people actively doing something are dwarfed by the people doing nothing. Many are acting as if everything is normal, even if they think what is going on is bad or even terrible. So what’s that all about?

Well it’s hard to know 100% for sure, and there are perhaps enumerable reasons, but I think we can break it down and attempt to categorize it. The categories I’m going to use are

  • Nihilism: It’s going to happen anyway. I am powerless. Nothing makes any difference. “Burn it Down!”. Apocalyptic thinking.
  • It Doesn’t Effect Me: It doesn’t/won’t effect me. It will hurt “the other people” more.
  • Escapism: Moving abroad. Prepping. In the exciting culmination of a civil war, with guns and pluck I/we’ll beat the bad guys.
  • The Sign: Waiting for an unequivocal ‘sign’, that may never happen or even if it does it’s too late. Waiting for a never defined or constantly moving line to be crossed.
  • It’s “Fine”: Normalization. Trust the process (impeachment/investigations/democracy etc).
  • It’s somebody else’s problem: Things have worked out before. The ‘checks and balances’ will sort it. I’m too busy. Republicans will ‘realize’ and do something (they won’t).
  • Burnout: It’s too exhausting. It never ends. I can’t watch/read/hear any of it.

Below I talk a little more about how these different excuses manifest themselves, and hopefully persuade you that for most people most of the time they are empty in the face of the reality of what life will be like if we continue down this path

Nihilism

Many people it seems are nihilistic. They appreciate things are bad, and then use a form of false equivalency to claim that things have been bad in the past so… “It’s fine”.

A widely popular idea is “burn it down”. The thought here is that the government is so broken, that the whole thing must be destroyed and then rebuilt. The root of thought might be around the frustrations around politics. Nothing seems to change or improve. It could also be about similar frustrations around peoples lives, irrespective of it’s origins. If you believe government is not working for you, then the idea of burning it down is compelling. It’s a way to satisfy the frustration, to punish the politicians and ‘elites’, and because in this line of thought things are really bad, that somehow it won’t effect you, or it will hurt “the right people” more.

It would be easy to write pages on why this idea is terribly dangerous. In summary…

  • It will effect you and the people around you. Probably in profoundly bad ways. Ways that also might be hard to predict.
  • If you feel powerless now, you will likely be far more powerless. Not least because the rule of law and ‘checks and balances’ will be really broken. Arbitrary punishment for some. Crime and corruption unopposed for others.
  • There is no vision. “Burn it down” doesn’t provide any insight on what this better future will be, how it will work, or even why it will be better. Somehow something better will appear. Implying at a minimum a long, painful, dark transition. There is no need for the future to in any way be better for you. Most likely it will be worse.
  • If you have a leak under your sink, burning down the house and rebuilding it would be absurd.
  • “Burn it down” assumes it leads to some ideally better rebirth, but that doesn’t have to happen. You might have just just burnt down your home and have to now live in the rubble.

Some people take the position that there is nothing they can do – they are powerless. Clearly that’s not the case, and the last post I gave some fairly straightforward things that most anybody can do at least some of. Are you not willing to even try?

Other people are engaging in a overt and purposefully nihilistic plan. These people are part of the “evangelical apocalypse cult” – where they are trying to bring about the end of days, so that they will go to heaven and their enemies hell. Which is bizarre, as doing such a thing is expressly forbidden in the Bible. So even if they were ‘right’ (spoiler – they aren’t) they would at a minimum be going to hell and are certainly not engaging in Gods work. I realize this sounds absurd, because it is. This is more an issue with Trump followers, but I felt I had to include it because it’s such a blatant and extreme form of nihilism.

Some people may rationalize that they are waiting for “The Sign” and/or they will “Escape”. Well that’s probably not going to happen – and even if you were able to do that, have factored in the costs to yourself, your family, friends?

That because they claim they don’t have agency they can absolve themselves of responsibility and effort. That’s just lying to yourself. If you do nothing and the republic is lost to fascism/right wing authoritarianism/dictator, in not doing anything it will in part be your fault.

It Doesn’t Effect Me

The unfortunate truth is that people are generally poor at taking into account medium and long term effects. Things become real when something has an effect right now. On the flip side a fairly small negative change now can produce a huge response. Things that have a large or even huge impact in the future can and often are ignored. Somehow they are not real, there is time to do something about them, they may never happen or they don’t effect me.

It probably is effecting you. Having to deal with the daily chaos and stupidity surely has an effect. If you switch off, then that’s just a form of denialism.

That somebody reading this or other blog posts I’ve made might conclude that I have a problem with conservative policies or perhaps am a liberal booster. No, you misunderstand the problem. The big problem. The problem that is getting increasingly worse. That is the full on corruption of government itself. That Trump is obviously corrupt. He’s getting increasingly corrupt people to his dirty work. The checks and balances are being shown to not be able to deal with this. Republicans have no shame – they are all in. I’d point out many of the actions of Trump and the Republicans are certainly not ‘conservative’ – like off the top of my head the deficit, family values, law and order.

So what does a future increasingly corrupt America look like? It’s hard to know precisely. There will be a lot of unintended consequences, most of which will be bad for most people. There might be a few arbitrary ‘winners’ – probably some subset of the already super rich and super corrupt. Needless widespread suffering. No easy way to do anything about it. Continuing and worsening chaos, scandal, frustration. No resolution. It is unlikely to be temporary it could go on for decades. All whilst America declines into corruption, inefficiency, non-competitiveness, arbitrary suffering, insignificance and malaise.

Look to Putins Russia for an idea. This could be a gross underestimation. It doesn’t take much imagination or history to see where this dark path can lead.

If you think living in a society like that won’t effect you then you are seriously deluding yourself

Escapism

One of my personal ‘favorites’ at the moment is escapism. People taking this line of thought think things are bad. They are worried that things could get worse. But they imagine if things get really bad they will escape, typically to another country. Canada turns out to be a popular choice, so you might wonder if Canada is ready for this huge influx. There’s elements of “Nihilism” as well as “The Sign” here. Some observations:

  • Not every country will want you
  • It might take a long time to accept you even if they do
  • You may have to leave everything whilst it sorts out. How confident are you that it will still be yours?
  • When is “The Sign” to leave? Will that be too early or too late?
  • It is difficult, time consuming and expensive to move to a different country
  • Many will need to get a new job. Find new friends. Perhaps learn to be part of a significantly different culture.
  • If “The Sign” has happened, presumably lots of other people will try and do something similar.. making probably much more difficult
  • You may not be able to leave
  • Presumably this is all about you and maybe your family. What about your friends? Neighbors? Community? Country?

I don’t bring up these issues to say it’s impossible. It’s possible of course – but it will take a lot of money, effort and time. That I would predict for most people “The Sign” will be much too late, and then it might be really difficult or even impossible. The argument can be made if you are serious about this solution, you should start your move right now.

I’m a fan of the show Doomsday Preppers. Most of the peoples reasons for their prepping seem very unlikely. That said the ‘break down of society’ seem more plausible the way things are going. That there is an allure to prepping, in that you see the threat and you are doing something about it – for you and your family. If you aren’t doing anything about the actual threat though, it seems like a huge amount of effort to combat the symptoms. Even with all that effort realistically it can only be a band aid on a very dark time. The other perplexing aspect is that many preppers probably do not see Trump and his corruption as an existential threat at all. It’s as if they are blind to an actual “Sign”.

Doesn’t at least trying to stop the rot seem like a much simpler and option? Not only will it be cheaper and better for you – it would be for your fellow country folk. You can still try and “escape” nothing is particularly lost.

The Sign

The sign is the tendency for people to wait for some clear signal that they should do something.

The first thing to say about this is that we are in a frog boiling scenario. What is acceptable and normal is changing every day. What people would have thought is outrageous in 2016, is now out there and ‘normal’ – like Russian interference, obvious and direct abuse of power, open and clear corruption and the eroding of ‘checks and balances’ system such that it largely doesn’t work.

In things happening this way, “The Sign” never happens until it’s too late. Perhaps you get “The Sign” when it effects you or someone you know directly. When there are jackboots in the street (which might never happen but we are no longer in a democracy). That there is a civil war – as if that is a good thing so people realize the republic is in trouble.

We are arguably cued to “The Sign” being the “oh shit” moment from a Hollywood block buster. For a lot of people this seems to be akin to a “Red Dawn” moment, where we are clearly under attack. There is full scale civil war. Part of this fantasy is that with their pluck, heroism and most likely guns the “good guys” will somehow win. The main point I’m trying to make here, is that “The Sign” is unlikely to happen in such a clear and blatant way. We will stumble into tyranny by many small, unexciting stops.

Point is there have been many clear signals, but the goal posts are constantly moving so you can convince yourself it appears “It’s Fine”. The fact there aren’t millions of people in the street is also taken as an opposite sign, that it’s a problem. Then most people are waiting for most people to create a Sign. So nothing happens.

That being the case we could be in full blown autocracy, kleptocracy and people still haven’t seen “The Sign” and if they have, well it will likely be too late.

It’s “Fine”

“It’s fine” is the tendency to constantly re-normalize the situation.

The Mueller report came out. It said he should be impeached – because next steps could not take place through the legal system (a debatable assertion). That didn’t happen, even though there were 10 counts that were believed to be strong enough to do so. He is impeached on obvious abuse of power and obstruction of congress. The senate Republicans hold a sham trial, and then shamelessly acquit. Bar and Trump coordinate – corrupting justice. Pardoning criminals. A member of the supreme court says it’s broken.

Where are millions of people on the street? There were people on the streets of course – but not enough to be ‘the Sign’.

Nothing happens. When there is obvious obstruction and criminality there are rarely and consequences. When there are implications – such as in the Roger Stone case, the rule of law is pushed to be reversed. Trump is happy to pardon anybody if it helps him in some way, or irritates his ‘enemies’.

You might say ‘it can’t happen here’ – this is America! The land of the free! The constitution! To which I’d just say look around – it is happening. That at each point it had a chance of being stopped (like Impeachment/Mueller trial and many other points) it failed. It’s slipping away. It can happen here. It may well happen unless people like yourself take action.

One way of coping with all this is to pretend it’s not that bad. To pretend that it will all be sorted in the election. To say all politicians are bad (so false equivalency if nothing else). To say it doesn’t really effect me, or perhaps claiming the worst of it is happening to Trump/Republican supporters. As if that’s ok.

Well it isn’t fine. If you can’t see that right now – there isn’t perhaps much I can add to try and push you out of your warm cozy bubble. But here goes.

It’s not fine. Trump is a Right wing Authoritarian, who openly and vocally wishes to be a dictator. He is corrupting everything and everyone around him to make that happen. That if it does it will effect you, your family and people around you. Your excuses are a warm cozy empty illusion.

It’s Somebody Else’s Problem

You might realize things are really bad. That they can get much worse and there is a good probability they will, but then think why do I have to do anything about this? It’s not my fault.

For most people they haven’t in their lifetimes had to do anything other than vote. Perhaps they didn’t even do that. But on the whole everything was “fine”. Or if not fine – that even their vote didn’t make a difference – therefore they have no agency. So shrugs.

Perhaps they feel they don’t need to do anything because the 2020 election will sort this out. I’ve already covered this. There’s no certainty that Trump will not win 2020. He may legitimately win. He may cheat to win (the Republicans are doing this in the open with Gerrymandering). He may be helped by other parties/countries to win (cough Russia, Facebook, cough). He may lose, but claim he won. He may lose and say it doesn’t matter – it wasn’t real, it’s Fake news. So at a minimum it would be huge risk to put all your eggs into that basket.

Perhaps they are too busy to do anything. They have work. Maybe they have kids. So nameless other person needs to sort this out. Really? People typically have lots of time for other non essential things. You would make time if your child was hurt or sick. You presumably wouldn’t go to work if you were sick or hurt. Are you telling me that 100% of all of your time is selflessly doing stuff for other people that only you can do and that you have no time to do anything else? It’s not impossible, but for the vast majority of people it’s not true. How do you think things will be for you if Trump stays in power? Do you think then you’ll have loads of time? Then to really jump on board stopping the dictatorship? Because it’s going to be way harder and more time consuming then.

In the spirit of “The Sign” many people are waiting for other people to give them “The Sign” that they should do something. Which amounts to the same thing.

If you think other people should be doing something, you should be asking yourself “why am I not doing anything?” and “what can I do?”.

Burnout

Out of all the excuses in some way this is the most understandable. It is exhausting. Every day something new and terrible and/or stupid happens.

Occasionally something works out, but often efforts just dead ends. All the while more and more corruption happens. Keeping up with it all is easily a full days job. All the while you hear a constant stream of lies and bullshit from Trump, Republicans, Fox News, talking heads and his supporters.

I hear you. For your sanity it makes sense to limit how much you look into the dark heart of the Trump Republicans crime project. It is important to stay informed, but you don’t need to know about every thing going on or all of the details.

Don’t get exhausted by the shit stream. Spend 10-30 mins a day knowing what’s going on. Spend the majority of your available efforts and sanity on doing something to make it stop.

Fascism and Trump: What to do?

Summary:

This post aims to provide a non exhaustive list of ideas of things people can do. Doing nothing is no longer an option.

Each item is discussed more below, but in order of importance:

  1. Vote
  2. Protest
  3. Organize/Volunteer
  4. Donate
  5. Contact Your Representatives
  6. Stay Informed
  7. Blog Post
  8. Social Media
  9. Wildcard
  10. Petitions
  11. Addressing symptoms

The time for action is now. Imagine how much harder it will be if/when he is a dictator? Then you are going to leap into action and sort it all out? Now that it will be really hard and probably more dangerous?

You cannot wait and hope somebody else is going to sort it out. You can’t sit on your hands and hope the ‘checks and balances’ are going to fix it. If the last few years, and especially the last few months have taught you anything, that those processes are largely broken.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

Edmund Burke

Why Now?

We live in dangerous times. Post the impeachment a few things have happened. Trump has attacked individuals who he sees as enemies – like Vindman. He has also attacked people who have nothing to do with impeachment, such as sacking Vindmans brother. How very mob. Trump and Barr have put pressure to reduce Roger Stones 7-9 year likely sentencing to something much less.

What does this mean?

1) That the rule of law and constitution no longer applies to Trump and his cronies. Barr is directly working to subvert the law in plain sight with Trump.
2) That the argument used in the impeachment that ‘the President can do whatever he wants’ – is now de facto true.
3) That interference in future elections is unrestrained (Republicans block bills to improve election security after all)
4) After impeachment he has admitted to the accusations – election interference, abuse of power and obstruction of justice are apparently not actionable.
5) Whatever the result of the 2020 Election, Trump will claim that he won.

On the last point you might think – oh that’s a bit much, what happens if Democrats win, or even win big? Well…

1) What if they don’t win big? Look at polls and net approval recently went up to -8%, around the impeachment(!)
2) Trump contested the 2016 election that he won claiming he won by more. Not withstanding he lost by 3 million popular votes. That there was extensive election interference (as outlined in the Mueller report and elsewhere).
3) If he loses, who/how is he going to be removed? If the law/constitution doesn’t apply (as we just witnessed), why all of a sudden is it going to start working?
4) He and his cronies are between a rock and a hard place. If he loses his presidential protection – he and others are likely going to jail.
5) He has said multiple times that he wants to be a dictator. Both directly and via his admiration for dictators. He is not joking.

The point I’m trying to make here is that Trump and co, are not playing around. They are all in. They have everything lose. Like a cornered animal, they will do whatever it takes. If nothing else the impeachment was useful in making clear that this is the reality.

I’m going to put these into an order of what I believe are most important first. That’s not to say things lower down the list are not worth doing – not at all. What I’m really arguing is YOU SHOULD DO SOMETHING.

Even if the worst case scenario does happen, your future self will thank you that at least you got off your ass and had the guts to do something. Just to be totally clear – I don’t consider ‘voting’ as getting off your ass and doing something. It’s the absolute minimum anybody should do in a democracy.

Vote

The single most important thing you can do is vote. This might seem surprising, this is the top item in this list based on previous points that voting might not be enough. There is no contradiction though – voting may not be enough, but it is the mechanism that ideally will take us back from the brink. If Democrats win big in the 2020 election, that will make it significantly harder to deny it. Hopefully if Democrats win, there is enough mechanisms in place so a transition takes place – but if the past few years have taught me anything, that we cannot rely on this. Again and again processes, ‘checks and balances’ and the enforcement of the rule of law have failed us.

So to be clear, JUST voting is not enough.

That you should vote Democratic, even if you don’t agree with all of their platform. Even if you are not mad about their candidate. Why? Because we must revert to the constitution and the rule of law. Since there are only two parties, the Democrats are the only choice if you care about democracy in America.

Protest

Protesting works. To be clear I’m talking about the out in the streets type protesting. If you have never done it before it can at first feel a little strange and awkward. That said persistent protesting works. Protesting with large amounts of people works. Ideally you have both.

If you go to a protest, and there aren’t many people – that’s fine keep protesting. Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd. Every big thing starts from something small.

There are people who are protesting in your area. Find like minded people and organize. Some organizations…

https://indivisible.org/

https://front.moveon.org/

fhttps://refusefascism.org

There are studies and articles that claim that protesting in the streets isn’t very effective. I’m not pretending they are all wrong.

Historically speaking all the major changes – abolition of slaves, civil rights and women’s right to vote happened because of people protesting. When protests are large, persistent and have good leadership with clear goals things can happen. There is certainly a clear near term goal – remove Trump. At a minimum meeting with other like minded and motivated people has a better chance of determining what will work than most other options. Given the circumstances I believe it remains one of the most important things you can do.

Organize/Volunteer

Go out and find other like minded people. Canvas for the Democratic party in your area. Talk to people, try and persuade them. Persuade them about the severity of the situation. That they need to do something. That they should persuade other people.

That if you are talking to a Trump supporter, I’m not suggesting you should endlessly argue with them. On the other hand it is worth talking with them to try and understand where they are coming from. If your careful you can nudge them. That said it’s not uncommon when directly confronted Trump supporters engage in infuriating bad faith arguments which are largely pointless. I recommend the ‘alt-right playbook’ as a good source to understand bad faith arguments.

https://democrats.org/

The Alt-Right Playbook

Donate

There are a few ways to approach Donations from the point of view of combating Trump. When donating to a Charity I generally do a background check on them…

Charity Watch

Charity Navigator

This gives you a quick summary of how effective and transparent an organization is.

https://www.consumerreports.org/charities/best-charities-for-your-donations/

Organizations directly opposing Trump

https://indivisible.org/

https://front.moveon.org/

https://refusefascism.org/

Quality Journalism

Committee to Protect Journalists

https://cpj.org/

Subscriptions (digital or physical) help pay for journalists and investigative reporting

https://theweek.com/
https://www.independent.co.uk/us
https://www.theguardian.com/us
https://www.washingtonpost.com/

Democracy

Protect Democracy

Upholding the law

American Civil Liberties Union

Policy

Planned Parenthood

The Natural Resources Defense Council

Sierra Club

Political

State Democratic parties

National Democratic Party

Anti-hate/Fascism

Southern Law Poverty Center

Contact Your Representatives

Contact your direct representatives often. Contact them if you think they are doing something good. Contact them if you think they should be doing something or doing more. If your representative is a Republican, you can and should contact them about their ongoing shameless fascist enablement. I think it is also very worthwhile to contact them if you think they did something good.

That because most people do nothing, your just doing something puts you above the fray. It means you have more influence than you think.

You can contact via a webpages: This is quick and easy. The email will be read by someone in the representatives office. When I do this I always tick the ‘I want a response’ not because the responses add up to much, it just implies a bit more effort on their side.

Calling by phone: This has the advantage that you will speak with someone who will have to listen to you. That takes time and effort – more than just scanning a mail and deleting it. On the other hand this may take more of your time to do. Even if you only speak for a couple of minutes it is worth it.

Sending a physical letter: On the one hand it’s something real. On the other hand it can be ‘thrown on the pile’.

Opinion is somewhat mixed on how best to contact your representatives. The most important is that you do contact them and regularly – say aim for once every month.

Visiting in person: This is going to have the most impact, but also requires the most effort.

To contact Virgina representatives

Tim Kaine (Democrat) : Senate

Mark Warner (Democrat) : Senate

Denver Riggleman (Republican/Trump Enabler/Public Avoider): House

You can also contact the House and Senate leaders too:

Nancy Pelosi (Democrat/House Majority Leader)

Chuck Schumer (Democrat/Senate Minorty Leader)

You can contact the army of darkness too

Mitch McConnell (Republican/Senate Majority leader/ Trump & Fascism enabler)

Kevin McCarthy (Republican/House Minority Leader)

More generally

https://www.house.gov/

https://www.senate.gov/

Stay Informed

It is important to know what is going on. That it can be depressing and tiring because there are so many terrible things happening. But you need to put the effort in. So you understand the situation. So you can talk intelligently with people. You can’t persuade people if you don’t know anything. How can you know how this may effect you, or your children and family now and into the future? How can you combat it?

Moreover we also live in an age where a lot of reporting is terrible. From straight propaganda, to click bait, to just weak reporting. If you are going to be able to figure out what’s real and fake you are going to have to put the effort into knowing what’s going on and why.

So first off I’ll say you are not informed if you get your news from social media. Social media is inherently a bubble built around you, to exploit you. That bubble might be a soft fluffy bubble that just has puppies. Or it might be full of stories that wind you up and make you constantly mad, whilst missing all the subtle goings on. It might be a stream of lies and memes – that you like as they make you laugh and prop up your current views. None if this is really informing you though. If you want to be informed it can’t be from social media.

It’s also worth saying that you should probably never read You Tube comments. Around things that are political in nature they are typically a cess pool.

I like reddit politics. You might argue it’s ‘social media’ – but the big difference is that it’s not a bubble around me. As it turns out the majority of people on r/politics seem to think Trump is a bad idea, but if you want to see what Trump enablers are pushing, you can go to the ‘New’ posts which are typically less filtered.

https://www.reddit.com/r/politics/

You can also go to other reddit groups (like r/conservative or worse r/the donald). I’ll warn you though that it’s not pretty.

If you want to have a more rounded picture of whats going on I would suggest ‘The Week’. I have a yearly subscription. The Week is a magazine, which takes articles from sources all across the spectrum – right to left, and distills what they say. By paying for a subscription you are giving some money to real journalism. I personally really liked distillation it means I can get the gist without having to trudge through the broadsheets.

https://theweek.com/

There other news sources out there which are generally good such as

https://www.independent.co.uk/us

https://www.theguardian.com/us

The BBC news seems to have lost it’s way a bit, but is still generally reliable for world news

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news

Some others…

https://www.washingtonpost.com/

Hopefully it’s obvious that Fox ‘News’ is not news, it’s propaganda. There is a huge right wing media machine that is just spin, stupid conspiracies and feels over reals. If you find and article/site that says something explosive – it’s always worth looking at their about page, or look them up on wikipedia. Equally looking up the authors of articles often provides insight into where they are really coming from.

Blog Post

If you have a blog post, especially if it has some reach you could do some good posting about this stuff. How you do it is up to you, and depends on who your blog is for, what kind of audience you have and how you get persuade them.

If you think such a post might offend some of your readers – I’d argue that is more the reason to do it. That you shouldn’t be cowered into not speaking up. That many of the people who would be offended, need to be subjected to what’s going on outside their bubble.

You may get nasty comments. If you don’t want that turn off the comments, or delete the ones you don’t like. Do not feel you need to respond. You are making your point. It’s your blog and you control it.

Social Media

As you can probably tell, I’m not a big fan of social media. On the other hand lots of people use it regularly, and you can reach a sizeable amount of people through it. It could be argued that Social Media should be higher up on this list and that might be hard to argue against. There are several problems with it as I see it…

  • Shouting into the void
  • Getting caught up in the fight
  • Addiction
  • Arguing with bad faith actors

So before going into a little more about what those are about, I’ll first give the advice.

  • It is worth talking about this stuff on social media
  • It is sometimes worth getting into an argument – but you should consciously limit yourself, and only do so when it seems worthwhile
  • It is worth writing comments on other peoples post – but keep it short and factual and if appropriate use a link to back it up.
  • Do not get caught up writing long complicated explanations. The alt-right playbook explains why.
  • Do not get caught up in a thread argument. Make your point. Do NOT go back and look at other peoples replies. It’s a waste of time.
  • Do not use this as an excuse to get more addicted to Facebook!
  • Limit your time on social media.

That speaking and being with real people is better. Better for your health in general. Better for such discussions. Better for making your point. A better use of your time.

If you feel that you can’t keep responding to a comment thread, then perhaps this is not worth doing at all, as the dangers may outweigh the benefit. If you find yourself seeing red when you are posting – then it has got out of hand. The reason for not even looking at other peoples responses is so you do not fall into the trap of expending a huge amount of effort and time on people who are often not arguing in good faith. That is not an argument worth having.

You can find out more about bad faith actors in ‘the alt-right playbook’.

Wildcard

There are other ways to protest than in the streets. You can boycott a Trump supporting company. If the company you work for is enabling you can contact the management. This can be effective – but I have low on the list as it’s not clear how effective, and typically requires a lot of people to do it, although probably less than you’d think.

You can strike. Striking can be very effective as seen with airport TSA strikes in the US. Striking is very effective but requires significant support, good leadership and direction to make it happen. Striking on your own isn’t going to get results. If you have the right combination this might be the top of the list.

I’ve put striking under wildcard as I don’t know where to place in the list. It could be the most important thing you can do. But depending on your circumstances it might not be possible.

Petitions

Real world petitions can be important – with people signing an actual document. One concrete example is signing a petition to get a candidate you like on the ballot.

Online petitions… hmmm. I don’t know. They probably aren’t that effective. They are often easily gamed. The results are often ignored (say for example the FCC net neutrality petition).

Doing it might make you feel like you’ve done something, but in actuality it’s probably not very effective. It would be better to expend your effort on something further up the list.

Addressing Symptoms

Another line of thought is to try and address the symptoms. For example the Trump administration is in the process of removing millions of people from food stamps, so you might want to help in a soup kitchen. You want to do something about climate change and so you buy an electric car, or get solar panels for your home. These are all really great things to do – and no doubt will help with some of those problems in the long term. Unfortunately they do not address the near term problem of a Trump enabling corrupt government devolving into Fascism.

So you cannot and should not use them as an excuse for not engaging in trying to get Trump removed.

Other Resources

These are probably part of the wider picture of being informed. The films of Adam Curtis give a broad backing of how we got here. You can see them online for free at thought maybe.

Oh Dearism II and Non-Linear War

All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace

The Power of Nightmares

HyperNormalisation

Thought Maybe : Adam Curtis

Trump: The List

This list, even on the day I’m publishing it, I could add multiple new things. (Say like the retaliation against Vindman). Pretty much every day there is something worthy of his removal.

I believe impeachment was necessary. The Democrats had no other alternative in the face of abuse of power in interfering with the election. It was also necessary for Republicans to go on record on their position. No weaseling out of it. With one exception they showed they are the party of Trump. That there is no depth they will not sink to, to support their obviously corrupt leader. Including holding a sham trial presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court no less. This shows several disturbing things – that our government and it’s checks and balances are no longer working. The rule of law does not apply. That the constitution as an amazing document as it is didn’t foresee this degree of bad faith actors across different parts of the government.

Some people may think – “okay it’s really bad, but voting in 2020 will fix it”. There are so many holes in this view. With the Senate Republicans disgraceful actions something that was a possibility is now being spoken about openly – that even if Trump loses it is quite possible he won’t step down. Whatever the outcome it will be contested. Why is this now plausible? Republicans have shown via the Impeachment they are shameless. They do not care about the constitution, the rule of law, or pretty much anything else except their own power and/or hiding dirty secrets. Secondly if Trump gets removed there is a good chance he’s going to go to jail without the protection of being president. That being the case what do you think he’s going to do?

The list was cribbed from a post on reddit. I repeat it here to remind myself of how bad things are. Some items are worse than others for sure. In normal times a tiny percentage of this list would be enough for somebody to be removed.

Setting Up OpenVPN on Linux

There are lots of ways to do this – but this is more a reminder for myself of the steps to take. I’ve been using NordVPN and you can download a configuration file to connect to a VPN server. Many VPN providers provide apps or installers to set up the VPN. Given the choice I prefer to set up the VPN without having to use a 3rd parties installer or app.

I’ve been using OpenVPN over TCP/IP as the protocol of choice. And the config file I download from NordVPN for this has a .tcp.ovpn extension.

We need to make sure we have both the underlying OpenVPN software, and the user interface installed to do this use

% sudo apt install openvpn
% sudo apt install network-manager-openvpn

You can now use the config file to set up the connection. Go to Network Connections (typically the wifi signal symbol) and then Configure Network Connections. Click ‘Add Connection’ ((often just a + sign next to a list of connections) scroll down through the list of options and at the end there should be under ‘Other’ ‘Import VPN Connection…’. From the file selector that appears select the .ovpn that you previously downloaded.

Now all that is in principal needed is for you to set the username and password. Click Ok to save everything. To use the VPN,you must first be connected to the internet. Next click on ‘Network Connections’ and your new OpenVPN connection should now be in the list. Click on that and you will hopefully get a vpn connection. If nothing appears to happen it probably didn’t work – you can verify from NordVPN page or from a page showing your your systems IP address – it should have changed.

To trouble shoot you can use from a terminal…

% sudo tail -f /var/log/syslog

Then try and make VPN connection and see what appears in the log.

I’m setting up a Pinebook, and the syslog has lots of junk in it appearing regularly like…

localhost /usr/sbin/irqbalance: GUESSING AARCH64 CLASS FOR

Which makes the syslog hard to read. To get rid of it I did ..

% sudo vi /etc/systemd/journald.conf

Then changed the lines

MaxLevelStore=info
MaxLevelSyslog=info