Super Bowl Sunday Cartoon Blogging – February 7, 2021

Buzzfeed reports that the right-wing social media platform Parler offered Trump a stake in the company if he would post exclusively with them:

“Talks between members of Trump’s campaign and Parler about Trump’s potential involvement began last summer, and were revisited in November by the Trump Organization after Trump lost the 2020 election….Documents seen by BuzzFeed News show that Parler offered the Trump Organization a 40% stake in the company.”

Parler was focused on building a social network that would serve as an alternative to Facebook and Twitter by taking a much more lax approach to content moderation. By late 2020, it had become a go-to online gathering place for hate groups, conspiracy theorists, and believers in the QAnon mass delusion. It also had attracted prominent Republicans, including Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Devin Nunes.

The deal was never finalized, and the discussion was derailed when Parler was deplatformed after the Jan. 6 coup attempt.

Still, some legal experts say Trump could have legal trouble. Scott Amey, general counsel at the Project on Government Oversight, said it warranted an immediate criminal investigation:

“A company’s mere act of offering a stake for the president’s participation looks unethical and deserves further scrutiny….If the offer included anything of value…that would almost certainly be illegal, and he should be held accountable.”

Trump “accountable’? Never happening. Enjoy the Super Bowl, if that’s your thing. On to cartoons.

New rules for this Super Bowl:

The snake charmer is about to lose:

The GOP just can’t quit her:

Republican logic:

More GOP hypocrisy:

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Trump’s Mass Radicalization of the Right

The Daily Escape:

Bentonite Hills, Cathedral Valley, Capitol Reef NP, UT – photo by BonsailLXIV

Donald Trump exits the presidential stage today, and not a minute too soon. In a sense, we’re very lucky that he was limited to one term. His mass radicalization of the far right of the Republican Party took just four years to become the Party’s mainstream, and to start an armed insurrection.

Throughout his term, he behaved as if Democrats, immigrants, Black Lives Matter protesters, Blue state residents, and the press had seized the country from Real Americans, the Trump voters. Since the election in November, he’s blanketed the nation with the Big Lie that the election was stolen.

Trump used mass radicalization to build a huge group of followers. The feedback loop was clear: Trump projects omnipotence, while the followers yearn for someone who has all the answers. Some would call it a “lock and key” relationship.

On January 6th, his followers stormed the US Capitol believing they were supposed to seize it for Trump. What is striking are two characteristics his followers seem to show. First, they display global grievance: They are angry at nearly everything outside of a fixed group of ideas and concepts like “freedom”, the Constitution, gun ownership and hatred of “socialism”.

Second, they have an overwhelming sense of entitlement: They alone are the arbiters of right and wrong. They have the right to be the judge and jury if something needs redress. If they commit a violent act, it’s the other side that’s responsible for inciting them.

Domestic terrorism analysts are concerned about the security implications of millions of right-wing Americans buying into baseless claims. The line between mainstream and fringe is vanishing, with conspiracy-minded Republicans now sitting in Congress and marching alongside armed extremists in their spare time.

These self-proclaimed “real Americans” are cocooned in their own news outlets, their own social media networks and, ultimately, their own “truth.” They support bogus claims like the November election was rigged, the coronavirus is a hoax, and liberals are hatching a socialist takeover.

Jason Dempsey, a military analyst notes that too many people are turning to force as a response to fears about political divisions:

“…they’re carrying guns and wearing body armor…We’ve got to get past that and be wary of the idea of militarism that doesn’t lead to a common conception of service, but leads to the kind of tribalism where we have to protect ourselves and our families by force against those we disagree with.”

Nobody expects this mass radicalization to go away when Trump’s out of office. As Arie Kruglanski, a University of Maryland professor who’s written extensively about radicalization says:

“We don’t trust the government. We don’t trust the Congress. We don’t trust the Supreme Court. We don’t trust now the science. We don’t trust medicine. We don’t trust the media for sure….So who do we trust? Well, we trust our tribe. We trust conspiracy theories that tell us what we want to hear.”

The danger of insurrection is here, and probably, thanks to Trump, will stay here for a long time.

QAnon, proliferated last year. The Q followers insist that Trump was all that stood between us and a “deep state” cabal that was running a global sex trafficking ring and harvesting a chemical from children’s blood.

The cherry on the top was the myth that the presidential election had been stolen: 33% of Republicans say they believe that the QAnon theory about a conspiracy among deep state elites is “mostly true.” And 36% of registered voters think voter fraud has occurred to a large enough extent to affect the election outcome.

The QAnon conversation online pivoted from taking down the global cabal to “Stop the Steal.” So when Trump invited supporters to Washington for mass demonstrations on Jan. 6, pro-Trump agitators and QAnon believers saw it as a demand for action.

Who believes in conspiracy theories? Those who have negative attitudes to authority, who feel alienated from politics, and who see the modern world as unintelligible. Conspiracy theory believers are often suspicious and distrustful, and see others as plotting against them. They struggle with anger, resentment, and other hostile feelings as well as with fear. They have lower self-esteem than nonbelievers, and need external validation to maintain their self-esteem. Belief in conspiracy theories often also goes along with belief in paranormal phenomena, and weaknesses in analytic thinking.

Trump, has created what James Meek calls “a self-contained alternative political thought space.” Loyalty to Trump is now a social identity for many people. So if Trump says that the 2020 election was rigged, why would a Trump loyalist disagree?

At the same time, Trump both sows and leverages a growing mistrust of institutions. Only 35% of Americans feel “a lot of trust” that what scientists say is accurate and reliable. Educators and media who try to tell the truth, aren’t useful weapons against conspiracy theories, because they simply become targets of the conspiracy theorists.

Let’s give the last word to Paul Krugman:

“Unlike the crazy conspiracy theories of the left—which do exist, but are supported only by a tiny fringe—the crazy conspiracy theories of the right are supported by important people: powerful politicians, television personalities with large audiences.”

When Richard Nixon resigned and Al Gore conceded, pundits and politicians smugly reassured us that things were fine because there were no tanks or soldiers in the streets, proving that the system worked.

How’s that working out for us this time?

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – End of an Error Edition

How about some good news for a change?

Flint Michigan may finally get some justice: Former governor Rick Snyder was charged with two misdemeanor counts of willful neglect of duty in his handling of Flint’s water crisis. Six others were also charged, including the former director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the state’s former chief medical executive. They were both charged with involuntary manslaughter related to the deaths of Michiganders.

Wrongo was delighted that Biden named Jaime Harrison as Chair of the DNC. His commitment to retail funds raising and voter turnout should help change the Democrat’s chances of winning in the southern states. Harrison has done what others haven’t — organizing and getting out the vote in marginalized communities, zip code by zip code. If Harrison can keep the Party’s energy high, we may have a chance to keep the majority and win more seats in both Houses in 2022.

Oh, and TRUMP’S PRESIDENCY IS OVER, very soon. On to cartoons.

The empty promises of the past four years:

Members of Vanilla ISIS are being brought to justice:

It shouldn’t be this way:

Even GOP Congresscritters were scared:

The impeachment game:

NOW you’re ready to heal?

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Saturday Soother – Trump Grifting Edition, December 19, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Shenandoah Valley, Browntown, VA – December 2020 photo by Renee Kuenster O’Connell

Business Insider (BI) reported (paywalled) that Jared Kushner helped set up a shell company that was a vehicle for secretly enabling Trump family members to spend nearly half of his 2020 campaign’s funds:

“The company, which was incorporated as American Made Media Consultants Corporation and American Made Media Consultants LLC, spent $617 million of the campaign’s $1.26 billion war chest, according to campaign finance records.”

The board of the shell company included Lara Trump, Vice President Mike Pence’s nephew John Pence, and Trump campaign CFO Sean Dollman says the Insider:

“Despite its $617 million spending through AMMC, the Trump campaign publicly disclosed little information about the company, including how it used the money.”

The nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed a civil complaint with the Federal Election Commission accusing the campaign of disguising about $170 million in spending “by laundering the funds” through AMMC. The CLC filed its civil complaint with the Federal Election Commission, which recently regained its powers to enforce and regulate campaign money laws after lacking enough commissioners to do so for 14 of the past 15 months.

BI reports that several sources from the Justice Department say that investigators may already be looking into the campaign’s activities. You can view a non-paywalled summary of the BI article here.

Two things strike Wrongo about this latest abomination. First, the Trump family is always looking for a loophole to extend the grift. Second, during the Trump era, we have slowly but finally lost our ability to be shocked and outraged by anything Trump, his family or his dead-ender supporters do.

We’ve been worn down by so much rule and norm-breaking that we no longer believe that outrage will stop the terrible behavior. To people like Wrongo who had extensive contacts in the NYC real estate market, this abominable behavior was knowable in advance. But Hillary’s emails put Trump in power. And he along with his minions have obfuscated, lied, and denied the reality of what we saw right in front of us for the past four years.

This is just the latest that we’ve learned about in a very long string of Trump and his team finding and exploiting loopholes. Imagine all that we don’t know yet.

Time to take a break from playing the game of what happened to the supply of the new vaccine? Or, why has the Pentagon stopped the Biden transition process? And focus on our Saturday Soother.

The snow that fell in Connecticut on Thursday has been plowed out of the Wrong driveway, and Wrongo shoveled a path in the dog run. Our tree has all of its lights, but only about 20% of its usual ornaments. That’s due to the clear absence of holiday visitors in this time of Covid.

Our annual note about the year has been sent to our overseas friends and some extra notes to local friends that we’ve seen only rarely. Later today, we’re having a Zoomtastic cross-country session with family and friends.

But there’s time right now to gaze on the winter wonderland (16.5” of snow) outside our windows. So settle back and brew up a vente cup of Columbian Supremo ($13.50/12 oz.) from Ini Sips, a New Britain, CT based coffee and tea brewer. It’s a small veteran and Black-owned business that, due to the pandemic, pivoted from being a local community cafe to online sales, with reasonable success.

They’re running a seasonal special: When you buy two bags, they give a free bag of their coffee to first responders, health care workers or community workers!

Now listen to the Celtic Women do their patented style on the Christmas classic, “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful”:

 

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Could Trump Be Attempting a Coup?

The Daily Escape:

Yosemite changing from fall to winter – November 2020 photo by kscwuzhere

Here’s another way of looking at the election: Joe Biden’s share of the popular vote is now 50.8% (77,126,066 popular votes). That will be greater than Ronald Reagan’s 50.7% vote share in 1980, vs. Jimmy Carter. It’s more than GW Bush’s margin over Kerry (50.7%), and more than Bush’s margin over Gore (47.9%). It’s larger than both of Clinton’s races: (49.2%) over Dole, and (43%) over GHW Bush.

Yet, the official position of the Republican Party, as put forth by the RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, is that Joe Biden and the Democrats stole the election:

“On Tuesday…McDaniel….told FOX News commentator Sean Hannity that she has 234 pages containing 500 sworn affidavits alleging 11,000 incidents of various types of voter fraud…..It’s been rigged from the beginning…and now you have a media that’s rigging it again by saying we’re not going to even listen to these stories.”

Republicans have been making excuses that Democratic presidents haven’t been legitimate leaders since FDR. Kennedy only won because of dead Chicago voters. Johnson only won because of sorrow about Kennedy. Carter only won because Nixon was framed. Clinton only won because Perot messed things up. And how did Obama win? TWICE??

The GOP believes that it has been the rightful winners of every presidential election since Eisenhower. The natural order requires that they win. Actual vote counts are irrelevant.

The most likely outcome of the next two months is that Joe Biden will be sworn in as president in an orderly way, but there’s a chance it could go differently. Here’s a thought from Jared Yates Sexton: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“People keep asking whether Trump and the Republicans attempt to steal the election is legitimate, if it’s a coup, if it’s a fundraising scheme, if it’s posturing, if it’s actually all that dangerous.

The answer is yes. All of these things….

People like McConnell and Graham are giving voice to Trump for multiple reasons….they need to win the special elections in GA, the controversy creates passion, and it leads to fundraising. But…they’re also fine with a coup.

Trump and the GOP are playing a dangerous game. The coup might not work, but they see an advantage at flirting with a coup. The coup might work and they see an advantage with grasping power for themselves. It’s a win-win for them while we lose.”

Sexton’s most disturbing point, that Establishment Republicans probably don’t think the coup will work, but they seem to be 100% OK with it, if it does

Republicans believe that Democrats have no legitimate claim to govern, because Democrats only win elections when the wrong people vote for them, as opposed to Real Americans, who vote GOP.

The only question the press should be asking Republican officials is: “Are you on board with Trump’s coup?” The GOP really doesn’t want to answer questions about their actions, and won’t, even when asked. Charlie Pierce says this:

“So the president, the leaders of the Republican majorities in Congress, and the Secretary of State all are attached to the fantasy that Joe Biden is not the President-Elect….They are taking active measures in support of that fantasy, and the longer they do, the more real it becomes to the president’s 70 million followers. And, therefore, the more political power it gains, and the more poison is pumped into the political bloodstream of the country…”

This week, Trump replaced the head of the military, who had previously said that he was concerned about the use of troops against civilian populations. Then he replaced a number of senior military officials with known loyalists who have zero qualifications for their jobs.

People seem to believe that the (relatively) independent directors of the CIA (Gina Haspel) and FBI (Christopher Wray) are going to be replaced, soon.

If all of that happens, what is the innocent explanation for all of these moves? Pundits have said there may be simple explanations for them, but there’s a non-trivial chance that Trump is attempting to assert control over key parts of the government in advance of a destabilizing action to remain in power.

For decades, we thought that norms of behavior would prevent something like this from happening. Our respect for institutions, love of country, institutional guardrails, and separation of powers would prevail. But, those things only work as long as both sides informally agree to act like rules have meaning.

From the moment Trump declared his candidacy, he’s crossed those lines, over and over again. Even if he goes away or drops dead tomorrow, these lessons can’t be unlearned, no matter how badly Dems want to pretend things can go back to the way they were.

Because the GOP certainly isn’t forgetting any of it.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – 48 Hours to Go Edition, November 1, 2020

Just 48 hours to go.

Has anyone else noticed that since his impeachment, Trump has lost a step? He no longer speaks about fighting the system, or his accomplishments. It’s all about how he’s been ganged up on, and mistreated. Maybe impeaching him wasn’t a complete failure after all.

We’ll see in two days if the blame game was a winning strategy:

It may be hopeful news or maybe just a deep fake, but several outlets are reporting that Trump has canceled his election night party. The party was to be held at the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC, but instead, he’ll party at the White House.

But here’s a good reason to be nervous. Forbes reports that the Post Office is failing to deliver on time in key places:

“Battleground states in the presidential election are suffering from some of the worst ballot delivery delays in the country….and with state laws or court rulings requiring mail-in ballots to be received by Election Day, several states face a particularly high risk of voters having their ballots arrive too late to count, potentially impacting close races.”

Every Vote should be counted! Shouldn’t the Supreme Court support that?

Since January, the GOP has filed more than 230 lawsuits about voting:

Not all the gravestones are about Halloween:

The ghost of elections past:

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Trump Says: “What Coronavirus?”

The Daily Escape:

DH Day Barn in Glenn Arbor, MI photo by seedy_reedy_photos

From the WaPo:

“The presidential campaign was roiled this weekend by a fresh outbreak of the novel coronavirus at the White House that infected at least five aides or advisers to Vice President Pence….With the election a little over a week away, the new White House outbreak spotlighted the administration’s failure to contain the pandemic as hospitalizations surge across much of the United States and daily new cases hit all-time highs.

The outbreak around Pence, who chairs the White House’s coronavirus task force, undermines the argument Trump has been making to voters that the country is “rounding the turn,” as the president put it at a rally Sunday in New Hampshire.

Further complicating Trump’s campaign-trail pitch was an extraordinary admission Sunday from White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows that the administration had effectively given up on trying to slow the virus’s spread.”

The WaPo reported that one of Trump’s top staffers acknowledged on Sunday that he (Trump) had tried to avoid disclosing these new White House cases to the public. Some in the VP’s office suggested that White House doctors should release a statement saying that [Marc] Short [Pence’s Chief of Staff] was positive, and that Pence was still okay to travel. But that idea was scuttled by Meadows and others. Meadows later said:

“We’re not going to control the pandemic,” Meadows said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations.”

There is no plan, and no strategy. Trump again said on Sunday in New Hampshire that the country is “rounding the turn”, but there’s no truth to that. Here are the 7-day average Covid statistics as of October 26: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“Yesterday there were 60,789 new confirmed cases, 16,222 recoveries, 340 deaths. The current 7-day rolling average of 68,768 new cases/day grew 38.8% from 14 days ago, while the average of 794 deaths/day grew 13.3%…”

If cases continue to grow at those rates, the number of cases will look like this:

9,221,976 cases in 7 Days; 9,888,654 cases in 14 Days; 12,042,648 cases in 30 Days

Even if you accept the view that: we can’t stamp out the virus, so we’ve just got to live (or die) with it, this just leads you to the other big idea: We knew back in March that even if we couldn’t stop the virus, we had to slow it down enough so that it doesn’t overwhelm our so-called “Greatest Health Care System in the World”.

If the GOP invested as much energy into fighting COVID as they do in voter suppression, we would have fewer cases and they wouldn’t need to suppress votes. Everyone expected that the virus would spread. But the least we should have been able to expect from Trump was an honest effort to inform the public; to do whatever it would take to contain it like the majority of other countries did; and to stop trying to blame someone else for it.

The Covidusa web site says that we’ve already reached a quarter of a million deaths (225,495) in this country. It’s clear that we’re being led by a pack of liars who think it’s more important to win an election than it is to save American lives. And they have the gall to call themselves “pro-life.”

And remember, there are 78 days after the election for Trump to fumble the Coronavirus before he leaves office.

Here’s another Trump delusion: This sheet was left on the seat of every member of the press on Airforce One yesterday. (Hat tip: Automatic Earth)

This suggests that the Trump camp expects a Red tsunami on Election Day. That may be true, but it will be very difficult to undo the massive early voting that is already in the books in all the battle ground states.

Every four years we say “this is the most important election of our lives.” This time, it’s true.

Why? Because if Trump wins again, we may see the freedoms we’ve long taken for granted curtailed, or in some cases, eliminated. You may think that Wrongo is well, wrong, and an alarmist. But do you REALLY want to take a chance that this isn’t the most important election of your life?

Your job is to vote for Biden, and to elect Democrats to the Senate.

There are seven days to go until the election. It’s certainly possible that you may never cast a more important ballot in your life. We have no control over what may happen in the future, but we can control what happens in seven days.

We can elect competence, sanity, and a reaffirmation of our democracy, but only if we all vote.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – October 25, 2020

Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana is the state’s Democratic candidate for the US Senate. He’s running slightly behind the incumbent Republican, Sen. Steve Daines. Daines is a first-term Senator with few accomplishments, while Bullock is a sitting governor ending his second term. Bullock has high approval ratings for his handling of the pandemic, but his principled stand on masking may cost the Dems a chance to flip the Senate, since Montana happens to be a state where anti-maskers are vocal in their opposition to Bullock.

Bullock issued a mask mandate in the summer, but as the NYT reports, politicians and law enforcement in Montana’s Ravalli County opted not to enforce the order, citing individual rights. Another county, Flathead, has also been somewhat hostile to masking.

At the end of last week, Montana had 25,640 cases of Coronavirus, with 278 deaths. On Friday, Montana tallied a record for new cases at 932, so Bullock announced the state is cracking down on businesses in Flathead County that have refused to comply with masking and social distancing mandates.

That the outcome of a Senatorial election may depend on voters who won’t wear masks in a pandemic says much about what America has become. Many people say that they’ll do anything for America. Some of them even carry their guns in the supermarket. But when they’re asked to take simple protective measures, keep their distance, show patience and courtesy, they just can’t.

There are nine days left until the election. Nine days. Remember that in 2016 in Wisconsin, Hillary’s loss averaged out to just two votes per precinct. Help get your friends to vote. On to cartoons.

The criterion for debate success has fallen too far:

What you get when you do nothing:

In-person voting won’t be easy this time:

Let’s hope the swing hits fast and hard:

Rudy shows a laptop:

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Saturday Soother – Post Debate Edition, October 24, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Lone Cypress, Pebble Beach, CA – October 2020 photo by cookdog1117

Was there any joy in Trumpville after Thursday’s debate? Predictably, those on the right said Trump won decisively, while most mainstream media said Biden held serve. All but the right agreed on one thing, that Trump lied his way through the hour and a half debate. As Eric Alterman noted afterwards:

“One of Trump’s (and the Republican Party’s) greatest victories in their efforts to undermine our democracy is how little attention is being paid to the fact that virtually everything he said last night was a lie.”

But did Trump help himself? Probably not enough. Jonathan Last at The Bulwark reported on a new poll from Gallup that asked: “Does President Donald Trump deserve to be reelected?” The answer:

  • No = 56%
  • Yes = 43%

Only 1% had no opinion. Last correctly says that this should spell electoral death for Trump. He also points out that in the same poll, 60% of respondents said that their member of Congress deserves reelection while just 35% say their member doesn’t deserve reelection. So for the two federal offices that every American can vote on in two weeks, the average member of Congress is +25 on reelect; while Trump is -13 points.

Finally, Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight is now predicting a total turnout of between 144 million and 165 million votes, with their most likely being 154 million votes. It’s worth remembering that turnout in 2016 was 137 million votes. In 2004, 122 million people voted. In 2008, the number was 130 million. So, it was up eight million from 2004 to 2008, and then up another seven million from 2008 to 2016.

Imagine a 2020 election where turnout rises by 17 million over 2016! If 154 million voters actually turnout, Trump will be looking at the most resounding defeat of an incumbent president in at least 40 years.

When you take those two numbers together: Trump down by -13 on “deserves reelection” with turnout in the vicinity of 154 million, the only open question is the magnitude of Trump’s loss.

Your pre-election anxiety is no longer warranted.

So relax on this October Saturday. The leaves keep falling on the fields of Wrong, but the weather is unseasonably warm. Most of our yard work is done, the Bluebird houses have been taken in for another winter. Next, the Meyer lemon tree must come inside, where our Christmas cactus has already set its buds. It should be in bloom by Thanksgiving.

So today, take the morning off. It was another tough week in Covid-raging America. Start by brewing up a vente cup of Hawai’i Puna Anaerobic Washed ($19.95/4 oz.) from Paradise Roasters, located in Hawaii and Minneapolis, Minnesota. This cup is said to be fruit-and honey-toned, with flavors of Lychee, tamarind, and almond brittle. That cup seems to be doing a lot of work!

Now settle back and listen to “The Love” by the Black Eyed Peas and Jennifer Hudson. This is the third version of a song released by the Peas. It is an updated version of the Black Eyed Peas’ 2003 hit, “Where is the Love?’ Lyrics include:

“I think the whole world is addicted to the drama.

Only attracted to things that’ll bring the trauma.”

This version interweaves parts of Joe Biden’s acceptance speech with the lyrics of the Black Eyed Peas song. This is among the most powerful videos you will watch this election season:

Have a soothing Saturday.

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How Republican Use of the Term “Freedom” Hurts Our Coronavirus Response

The Daily Escape:

Fall turning towards winter, Capitol Peak near Aspen, CO – October 2020 photo by campsG

Following up on yesterday’s column on our failing response to Covid, we know that many on the right refuse to wear a mask to help their towns and states stop the growth in coronavirus cases. They say it’s their right to refuse to wear a mask, because the mask requirement impinges on their personal freedom.

They are wrong. Refusing to wear a mask doesn’t mean you are free. It means you are limiting the rights of your fellow citizens to be safe and secure. Axios reported on Monday that Coronavirus hospitalizations are increasing in 39 states, and are at or near their all-time peak in 16 of the 39.

We’re not at a panic point, but rising hospitalization rates are a sign that we’re losing control, and things are getting worse.

Michael Tomasky wrote an interesting op-ed for the NYT on how the right in America seemingly own the use of the term freedom. He quotes Mike Pence at the Amy Coney Barrett coming out party:

“We’re about freedom and respecting the freedom of the American people…”

Tomasky also quoted John Stuart Mill: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“In ‘On Liberty,’ he wrote that liberty (or freedom) means ‘doing as we like, subject to such consequences as may follow, without impediment from our fellow creatures, as long as what we do does not harm them even though they should think our conduct foolish, perverse or wrong.’ ”

Tomasky points out that freedom doesn’t include the freedom to make someone else sick. It does not include the freedom to refuse to wear a mask in the grocery store, or sneeze on someone in the produce section. How is that freedom for the person who is sneezed upon?

For the sneezee, the sneezer’s “freedom” potentially leads to illness, and in a few cases, even to death. Society has lost its social cohesion if that action is part of the definition of freedom.

Ralph Nader, who wrote “Unsafe at Any Speed”, the book that launched America’s national seat belt law, says this about the anti-maskers:

“The same people who don’t want to do social distancing and face masks get in their car and put their seat belt on….Nice irony, huh?”

Nader thinks mask wearing will just take time. Tomasky says that politicians on the right have appropriated “freedom”:

“Freedom belongs almost wholly to the right. They talk about it incessantly and insist on a link between economic freedom and political freedom, positing that the latter is impossible without the former. This was an animating principle of conservative economists in the 20th century like Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman.”

That linkage ignores that other western economies, like the Scandinavian countries, would have had limited economic success instead of their realities of great economies. These countries all have state-controlled economies, but still enjoy political freedom.

If Von Mises, Hayek and Friedman were correct, advanced democratic countries that had state-controlled economies would experience bad economies, along with little political freedom. There are no examples of this outside of the former Soviet Union. China has a robust state-planned economy, while lacking political freedoms.

So why do Democrats let Republicans own freedom as a concept? Why do they allow Republicans to use the concept to defend spreading the Coronavirus, potentially killing other citizens? A last thought from Tomasky:

“Democrats….aren’t very good at defending their positions on the level of philosophical principle…..they’ve been on the philosophical defensive since Ronald Reagan….Well, it’s high time they played some philosophical offense, especially on an issue, wearing masks, on which every poll shows broad majorities supporting their view….Freedom means the freedom not to get infected by the idiot who refuses to mask up.”

Biden has been pretty good at showing the alternative viewpoint on personal freedom. At his Miami town hall, he said:

“I view wearing this mask not so much protecting me, but as a patriotic responsibility. All the tough guys say, ‘Oh, I’m not wearing a mask, I’m not afraid.’ Well, be afraid for your husband, your wife, your son, your daughter, your neighbor, your co-worker. That’s who you’re protecting having this mask on, and it should be viewed as a patriotic duty, to protect those around you.”

Without social cohesion we’re doomed as a society. Coronavirus should be helping bring us together, but Trump keeps using it to drive a wedge deeply into our social fabric.

Just 14 days remain until the election. Help heal America by voting!

Let’s end Trump’s tired act.

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