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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 06:39 PM
Number of posts: 22,309

Journal Archives

There is no "Gotcha" contradiction in Biden's stance regarding "believing" women who come forward

Both Joe and Mika tried so hard on Morning Joe today to prove that Biden was guilty of a double standard because of his public comments about Dr. Ford's testimony at the Kavenaugh hearings. Here is what Biden said then that they think supposedly traps him in a contradiction:

“For a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus, nationally, you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she’s talking about is real, whether or not she forgets facts, whether or not it’s been made worse or better over time,”

Epic fail for Joe and Mika. The truth is staring them in the face but they refuse to look it in the eye. It's found in the words: "start off with the presumption" In scientific terms that is called a hypothesis, a preliminary assumption that then must be tested to see if it holds up under scrutiny. It is the rationale for investigating, not the conclusion of an investigation. Scientists don't establish facts through plausible conjecture. They use plausible conjecture ( a hypothesis) to justify making the effort needed to investigate whether it actually pans out in reality. Frequently a hypothesis proves to be correct. Often it does not.

Joe Biden believed then (at the Kavenaugh hearing) and he still believes today as an article or personal conviction that a woman who submits herself to the glare of national publicity by making an allegation of sexual misconduct against a prominent man deserves to be taken seriously. Being taken seriously means to conduct an investigation that searches for evidence supporting her allegation. But "presuming" that "at least the essence of what she's talking about is real" is a starting point, not a final resolution. It doesn't establish anything without evidence to support it.

In Tara Reade's case it is fair to assume that Joe Biden has first hand knowledge whether or not her allegations are true. He doesn't need any investigation to determine the truth, he already knows the truth. Why should he pretend that, when all is said and done, "the essence of what she's talking about is real" in this case if he knows for a fact that it isn't? Joe Biden is not telling anyone not to take Reide's allegations seriously, he is not condemning anyone for wanting to determine the facts. He welcomes a fair investigation. But it would be nonsensical for Biden to pretend that he doesn't know whether Tara Reide is telling the truth regarding him. Joe Biden doesn't need to investigate to find out what he already knows.

My best spin for Birx

Well, for starters, she is an actual scientist so she doesn't spout babble and total lies that directly contradict the real science and known evidence. OK, that's a fairly low bar for someone who works in public health, but some times she does actually communicate facts. Maybe of greater significance, she has now positioned herself to retain credibility not so much with folks like us here, but with Trumpster FOX viewer types, and that matters because there are tens of millions of them. And my body will not politically differentiate between potentially getting infected from exposure, directly or indirectly, to an environmental activist Covid-19 carrier rather than from a Trump loving gun hugging racist Covid-19 carreir. Either way my life will be equally at risk. So someone has to be able to make the case to Fox viewers that the threat from Covid-19 is real and exists now in real time, regardless of how she may fudge about the future, without them muting the volume when they see someone with actual knowledge about the virus talking on their screen.

Could nursing home deaths skew our age related risk assessment of Covid-19?

I don't doubt that advancing age is a very relevant variable in assessing who is most at risk of dying from Covid-19. But as I have come to appreciate how disproportionately high a percentage of Covid-10 deaths involve residents of nursing homes, I am starting to wonder if more nursing home deaths should be understood as resulting from a variable other than age: concentrated viral load exposure from close quarters work and/or habitation. The living conditions generally present in most nursing homes are conducive to viral incubation: Large numbers of people living in closed and close proximity with a rotating crew of staff moving from one to another between them, along with group dining etc.

When we look at Covid-19 lethality charts broken down by age, they include nursing home deaths concentrated in older age groups. As a result of the proliferation of nursing homes in our society, a higher percentage of the elderly are in group living situations compared to most other age groups. Again, I do not doubt that the elderly are on the whole much more susceptible to Covid-10 death than younger age groups, but could nursing home deaths be magnifying that conclusion for reasons not always age related?

Clearly viral load (degree of concentrated exposure) is a contributing factor to Covid-19 deaths, as reflected in the relatively high number of health care workers of younger ages who have succumbed to Covid-19. i would be interested in seeing a statistical study of the number of deaths from Covid-19 of prison inmates and/or navy sailors (both demographically younger age groups living in confined quarters) compared to nursing home residents on one hand, and the general public on the other. College dorm students could be another study group, except that most dorms were emptied at an early stage of this pandemic.

Video EVIDENCE Trump underestimated COVID-19 threat in late Feb/early March though Congress didn't

On March 6th President Trump signed into law Public Law No: 116-123, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020, when it reached his desk after being passed by Congress.

Here is how that legislation was described in the preface to that bill:

This bill provides $8.3 billion in emergency funding for federal agencies to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

...This division provides FY2020 supplemental appropriations for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the State Department, and the Small Business Administration to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

The division funds programs that address issues such as

developing, manufacturing, and procuring vaccines and other medical supplies;
grants for state, local, and tribal public health agencies and organizations;
loans for affected small businesses;
evacuations and emergency preparedness activities at U.S. embassies and other State Department facilities; and
humanitarian assistance and support for health systems in the affected countries.

Further details are provided in the text of the legislation which can be found here:

Below is a video of Trump's signing ceremony. In it he says some damning things, such as:

"It's an unforeseen problem, what a problem. It came out of nowhere."

But the most damning quote comes at the front end of his brief comments.

"So, we're signing the $8.3 billion. I asked for two-and-a-half and I got 8.3 and I'll take it."

Boom. Trump literally asked for less than one third of the money that Congress insisted on appropriating to provide "emergency funding for federal agencies to respond to the coronavirus outbreak." Trump didn't think nearly that much money would be needed. Congress had to force him to accept almost 6 Billion more than he requested, to respond to what was then being called "the Coronavirus outbreak." Congress was ahead of Trump on this. Fortunately he allowed them to lead him that time, saying "and I'll take it." We owed that to Democratic leadership in Congress, though ultimately the legislation passed was broadly bipartisan.

Here is the video:

Each day a part of me reflexively looks at the latest death charts

and without any conscious ability to restrain myself, I look for upticks in infection rates in Red parts of our nation where social distancing either has not been embraced or is actively being undermined by Republican officials. I wince with soul wrenching intensity when I realize I'm experiencing a trace of "disappointment" if the disease still seems constrained in those areas.

This is not who I want to be. I don't wish this death on anyone. I don't want to see any part of our nation brought to its knees by Covid-19. I don't want hospital staff overwhelmed anywhere. I don't want for any first responders to have to risk their lives, and I don't want any of our nation's children to be shut out of their classrooms. On this issue, and on this issue alone, I wish Donald Trump were right. I would rather it were the health officials and the elected officials who follow their advice who were "over reacting" rather than some right leaning public and elected officials who were severely "under reacting" to the crisis we are in. But "under reacting" is putting it charitably. The ugly truth is that some powerful economic interests are more concerned about the risk to their profits than to the risk to our lives.

I understand that we can't stay locked down tight forever. That would kill tens of thousands of Americans as surely as does Covid-19. So I am desperate that we get this right the first time before more Americans are encouraged to prematurely venture out of doors. What is leading toward our fucking this up now is Donald Trump, and those in bed with him, with their repeated siren calls of "a return to normalcy" while America remains in the teeth of this deadly pandemic. They have to be stopped. They have to be discredited so fully that no more than a small fraction of those possessing three active brain cells ever heeds their words again. Unfortunately those false prophets have already cast the die. They loudly interpret the success of shut downs at slowing the spread of Covid-19 as the reason to lift those shut downs, without sound plans in place to stop the plague from rushing back.

As long as those voices are capable of spreading falsehoods our best efforts get thrown against us. Rather than using every moment to prepare for the disease spread that physical distance from urban centers has granted to some less cosmopolitan parts of our nation, too many have proclaimed its slower arrival as a "the coast is clear" signal in order to downplay the pending threat. That is exactly what Trump did on a national level as Covid-19 ravaged Asia and Europe before it exploded on our shores. We are dying now because of that.

It seems that the only thing that will stop the racket of false assurances is reality itself, the reality of pestilence arriving full force at their own doorsteps. If that is in fact the case, if nothing else can quiet them, then in the long run the sooner that happens the better off we all will ultimately be. And it hurts like Hell to even think that.

Trump's path had been to polarize the electorte, and then energize and mobilize the pole backing him

His hard core base is fanatical, and up until now their utter devotion to following him anywhere, coupled with generalized voter suppression, has given Trump a tactical edge that has kept him electorally competitive despite most Americans giving him negative job approval ratings. Trump had one last chance to revise his strategic approach with this current pandemic, an opportunity to attempt to reframe himself as a unifying leader of all Americans. No way it would have worked with me, but for some others out there, who knows? Clearly Trump did not make that choice.

Now I believe he is locked into a tailspin. In order the keep the fierce loyalty of his hard core base he has to keep the polarizing flames hot. But it isn't news that polarizing behavior always strengthens the opposing pole also. Here's the thing though. Small a group as it may be, there are always some who somehow still manage to float between those poles.Trump is now on an irrevocable path toward losing almost all of those. In a time of a true national crisis, people seek a unifying leader to pull us together and to rally us to work together. No one, not even those under the influence of a mind altering substance, will ever mistake Donald Trump for a unifying leader now.

Through intensifying propaganda and mind fuckery Trump may well hold onto his hard core base. But in the current social climate of crisis that we find ourselves in as a people, this will cause him to lose everyone else. Trump can no longer pull off divide and conquer, He still can divide, but the rules have changed. Now it is divide and lose.

The U.S. now has 119 deaths per million citizens. Germany has 55, Japan 2. Israel 19. Norway 31

We are by no means the worst nation as ranked by Covid-19 deaths per million. The UK is at 241, France is at 288, Belgium is at 497 etc. But the U.S.has NOTHING to brag about when nations like those in the subject line above, and Canada at 40 deaths per million, Portugal at 69 deaths per million, South Korea at 7 deaths per million, and Singapore at 2 deaths per million continue to do substantially better than America does at holding down fatalities from this novel Corona virus.

I skipped right past nations on th chart that seemingly have lower infection rates than the U.S. if there may be cause to doubt the accuracy of reporting. So China, Iran, and Russia etc., all of which report significantly fewer deaths per capita than the U.S., are not included here for comparison. But I think a comparison to Austria which now has 50 deaths per million is legitimate. So is a comparison to Denmark which has 61 deaths per million.

The U.S. is solidly in the middle of the pack of nations in regards to preventing citizen deaths from Covid-19. But we have "the best scientists in the world", and "the best health care system in the world", according to Donald Trump, and we also had the advantage of watching this disease run rampant through China and then Europe before case loads in the U.S. began to explode. We have had more time to prepare but have suffered worse outcomes than many other nations faced with similar challenges. So what then is lacking in the United States? The facts clearly point toward our not having the best national leadership in the world. Trump can spin and bluster for hours every day but he can't erase facts that indict his leadership. The truth lies in the coffins.

Here is the source chart I referenced. You have to click below the first sampling of nations to get to the fuller list:

Could the Evangelists actually be onto something?

Granted they appear to have their cast of characters a little bit confused, but Donald Trump has consistently been playing a pretty convincing representation of the Anti-Christ.

We might be forced to live (if we are fortunate enough) with "unacceptable" mortality rates.

We can do what we can, or we can do what we are willing to, but nature ultimately reigns supreme. The Plague once decimated Europe (actually that's not severe enough a term to use since decimate literally implies 10% casualties). Indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere were almost wiped out by Small Pox. Humans have more tools now to combat pandemics than we did in prior centuries, but we are far from being all powerful as Covid-19 clearly demonstrates.

Society can not stay in near total lock down indefinitely without increasingly negative consequences beginning to cascade out of control, ultimately posing alternate severe threats to our health and safety. I hate that, but I get that. We will lose loved ones one way or the other, and some of us will perish ourselves. There are no ideal choices to make, not before an effective vaccine is developed or quick acting dependable treatments are developed anyway. Could we "accept" one or two or three percent mortality rates from Covid-19? We will have no choice but to do so if we have no choice other than to do so..

When all is said and done, people will rise to the occasion, no matter how horrific it may be. History shows us that. The only real question then is how horrific must it be? This is where the wisdom of Niebuhr's prayer applies: "Father give us courage to change what must be altered, serenity to accept what cannot be helped, and the insight to know the one from the other (the original version.)"

I have adequate wisdom to know this. Our nations response to the Covid-19 pandemic under the Trump Administration must be altered and it can be changed. Our nation's resources have NOT been fully marshaled to quickly identify infections as they occur, nor to aggressively pursue through contact tracing all who might have been exposed to any infection carriers so as to inhibit further transmission..

Therefore this is not the time to call for serenity to accept what can not be helped. It is time for raging at and countering Trump's willful ineptitude that is senselessly sentencing tens of thousands of Americans to unnecessary deaths. After we get this thing right then I will accept that we can't just seal ourselves away from this disease indefinitely, and then I will pray for the serenity to accept the human sacrifices that we inevitably will endure.

OK, I'm willing to start buying Barilla Pasta again

Maybe I'm just seriously out of the loop on this, but I was completely unaware of the sustained efforts that company has made to atone for the homophobic remarks that it's Chairperson made in an Italian radio interview back in 2013. That triggered an international boycott of the brand by Gay and Lesbian activists and those who stood behind their efforts, with me among the millions who fell into the latter category. It's been years since I bought a Barilla product, but a friend just forwarded me this article:

Barilla Pasta’s Turnaround From Homophobia to National Pride.
After chairman Guido Barilla rebuked gay families on national radio, his CEO spent five years cleaning up the company’s reputation.

Bloomberg Businessweek

It is a very long and interesting read that doesn't at all whitewash the implications of the interview that Guido Barilla gave in September of 2013. But it is an in depth study of all the resulting consequences of that interview, both negative and positive. Here are some excerpts from it. Claudio Colzani is the CEO of Barilla, who had been on the job for less than a year before he was blindsided by the radio interview that Guido Barilla made:

Colzani implemented diversity and inclusion training and unconscious bias courses for the entire workforce. Now employees are asked every 18 months whether they feel their leaders are committed to building more-diverse teams. (In the latest assessment, 72 percent of participants said yes, up from 65 percent in the previous one.) Almost 1,000 workers have formed and joined employee resource groups, each focused on a specific theme, such as refugee training or gender and sexual identity. Beatrice Burlenghi and Martina Olivola, the leaders of the latter group, nicknamed Voce, distributed Barilla-branded rainbow bracelets to employees after meeting with a similar group at General Electric Co. that had done the same.

... Colzani’s request for a separate board of external advisers was tougher to deliver on, because most of the potential candidates Barilla approached didn’t want to be affiliated with the company, Anderson said. David Mixner, a civil rights activist, author, and playwright once named by Newsweek magazine as the most powerful gay man in America, refused four times to meet with Guido Barilla before finally agreeing to it as a personal favor to a friend who worked in public relations.

“I joined the boycott and said I wouldn’t meet with him, because I’m so sick of going to these things and hearing nothing but apologies,” Mixner said. He finally relented and met the chairman for lunch at the Glass House Tavern near Times Square. Before sitting down at the restaurant, which has a crispy chicken salad named after him, Mixner instructed the waiters to speed up the service so he could leave within the hour. He and Barilla ended up spending four hours at the table, during which the 72-year-old Mixner spoke of the pain he’d suffered for being gay. He’d spent three years estranged from his family, lost jobs, and been the target of a hate crime. Barilla said his family had a long history of combating injustice, with his father having been involved with members of the resistance against Italy’s fascist regime in the 1940s.

Further in the story

(in October 2018) "at the Pasta World Championship in Milan, Barilla did exactly what its chairman had promised would never happen: It unveiled a limited edition of its most popular product, Spaghetti No. 5, wrapped in a box illustrated with two women holding hands, a single strand of pasta held between their lips in a nod to Walt Disney Co.’s Lady and the Tramp. It was designed by Olimpia Zagnoli, an Italian artist who had advocated for boycotting Barilla in 2013.

Anyway, I found this story to be both fascinating and encouraging. It talks about the larger social climate in Italy and elsewhere also and does not focus solely on Barilla. I thought it worth sharing here for others, like me, who do not always follow the world wide fight against homophobia as closely as I should
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