Category Archives: Decline of the west

Distrust of Medical authorities


As the Washington Post reporters said, “a public health crisis made worse by many people’s distrust of medical authorities while they rely on often-faulty information from some of the country’s most influential people, which is amplified through social media.” The classic example has been ivermectin medication approved for animals like cows and horses, but not humans. Many of the anti-vaxxers now take that instead of vaccines that have been extensively scientifically tested in large, randomized clinical trials, and given to more than 170 million people in the United States and billions of  people worldwide. Is it an exaggeration to say the world has gone mad?

 Of course, it is not surprising that the media shilling the horse deworming medication were mainly conservatives, particularly conservative radio talk show hosts. As I have been saying, this pandemic of disinformation has been driven significantly by conservatives and evangelical Christians. As Hawaii Lt.-Gov Josh Green, who is a Democrat and an emergency room doctor said, “When people get fixated on inappropriate recommendations, then they unfortunately don’t get vaccinated,” said Hawaii Lt.-Gov. Josh Green, a Democrat and an emergency room doctor who blames conservative media for fanning unfounded hopes about ivermectin. “They don’t do the things that will actually help.”

 Now hospital ICUs in some hospitals are being overwhelmed by patients who took the horse medication, rather than patients who have Covid-19. As the Post reported,

 George Rutherford, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, spoke with more certainty: “This is a drug that does not work,” he said, comparing those pushing ivermectin as a coronavirus treatment to “19th century snake-oil salesmen.

Of course, as always, this madness is being driven by Conservatives and Evangelical Christians that distrust government. As the Post said,

“Ivermectin has gained particular traction in conservative circles alongside accusations that the government and the drug industry are stifling discussion about the medication… For some already distrustful of the government’s coronavirus response, state and federal health agencies’ latest alerts matter little.”


One of the physicians who refused to prescribe it to humans because it had not been approved for that purpose felt the sting of the Conservative and Christian wrath: “people started accusing him of denying study participants a lifesaving medicine by giving some a placebo — part of any randomized trial, which is considered the gold standard approach to determine whether treatments are effective. “Are you a reembodied NAZI Josef Mengele?” he said one email read.”

There is no fury like the fury of the ignorant.

Ivermectin is being polarized, just as hydroxychloroquine was earlier by Trump and his followers. And of course, wherever there is ignorance or stupidity on steroids Fox News won’t be far away. As the Washington Post said,

“Fox News hosts such as Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson have also promoted the drug to large audiences, even as they sow skepticism of coronavirus vaccines as “experimental.” Carlson, who hosts the most-watched show on cable television, declared falsely last month that the vaccines “do not work” and in late June featured podcaster and former biology professor Bret Weinstein, an advocate of deploying ivermectin against the coronavirus.”


And if you think I am exaggerating or being unkind to call this stupidity here is what the Post said:

“Lisa VanNatta, a 61-year-old Texas rancher, maintained that the animal medicine is safe in the small doses she said she’s been taking monthly. Many others at the county Republican Club, where she is president, are using the drug in some form, she said. “They’re taking jiggers of it, drinking it,” VanNatta said of the people getting sick from ivermectin. “There’s always going to be some form of stupidity.”


Here is another example of strange logic:

“In Louisiana, 33-year-old Kortney Asevedo said she also fears the longterm effects of the vaccines, even after her unvaccinated mother died while sick with COVID-19 and taking everything that doctors prescribed, including ivermectin. “Me and my mom are kind of the same,” she said. “We wanted to wait and just kind of see.”


So, let’s get this straight. They wait and see for Covid-19 but not when it comes to ivermectin!  They are ready for that just because pundits on Fox News recommend it! Why? As far as I can see that is only because the government is not recommending it! If the government recommends it, then it must be bad for you.


We are living in a strange world—the result of the sleep of reason.


Lessons from e-commerce



In e-commerce it took years for the kind of growth we have seen lately. It is astonishing. I hate what Amazon is doing to small businesses around the world. I hate the thought of giving any more money to the richest man in the world (or second richest) whose employees have to wear diapers to work because they are not given enough time to go to the washroom.

Before the pandemic Jeff Bezos was earning $1 million every 50 minutes now he is doing much better than that and I have helped him out, as have millions of others. We have done that because we came to realize how convenient it was to shop from Amazon. For many things we don’t really have to go to a store to look them over. Ordering them from our homes for some of us is just easier, simpler, and cheaper.  Other businesses will have to learn that we have learned something during this pandemic and if they don’t change, we will change where and how we shop. Not for everything but for many things. Capitalists had better innovate or they will be left on the dust heap. Capitalist always say that is what they are good at. Let’s see if that’s true.

That does not mean all has been rosy. As Hari Sreenivasan pointed out to,

“It has been a boon for those who could afford it. There has been a blue collar pandemic and a white collar pandemic. For the white collar people it was great.  I can get everything from Instacard and Amazon. But if you’re an essential worker that doesn’t really apply to you.’

For others not so much. And some of us still care a little bit about fairness. Fairness and competition.

Scott Galloway is a professor Marketing who was interviewed by Sreenivasan on Amanpour & Company and he agreed completely:

“If you’re in the top 10% of income earners there is no change in employment. It means you’re no more vulnerable than you were before the pandemic. There’s a 60% likelihood you can work from home. You can spend more time with your family. You maybe got 10 hours back a week. If you make less than $40,000 a year, 40% of those people have lost their jobs and less than 10% can work from home. You don’t like to say this out loud, but if you’re in the top 10% and you’re blessed with good health you’re most likely spending more time with Netflix, your kids, and less time commuting, and by the way your stocks are probably up and I would argue that a lot of the stimulus unfortunately hasn’t been about arresting the pandemic, and helping our neediest, it’s been about flattening the curve for rich people. The savings rate in American has never been higher. The Nasdaq has never been higher. If you do a google search for covid and markets you’ll find more articles than if you do covid and mortality. It’s as if as a nation our priorities are reflected in our spending. The velocity of death is unprecedented. More people are dying every day from this than any crisis in history! And that’s meaningful. But what would be profoundly tragic would be if the Nasdaq declines! At least that’s what our spending seems to indicate. We want to save restaurants but not keep schools open. We seem to want to ensure that the markets are washed in liquidity and people are wanting stimulus, but we aren’t protecting people. We see infection rates rise. And we see our health professionals wanting for PPE equipment. It does definitely seem that we have decided that corporations are people and they are the ones that we have to save.”


And remember all of this is not coming from some crazy leftwing extremist. This is coming from a self-described enthusiast for capitalism. He is an insider. He likes the system. Perhaps not as much as Zwaagstra does, but he is no bleeding socialist. He just thinks the current system sucks. It sucks because the rich people are swimming in cash while those who are not are taking their chances serving the rich people. They are called essential workers, but they are not paid like it.

Fascism comes to America


It was not that long ago that I said, American is not fascist. That position is becoming more and more difficult to uphold.

Right now the Republicans are split between those who believe, based on plenty of evidence, that the rioters in the Capitol were guilty of sedition  and Trump’s fervent supporters, who think the riot was  justifiable as a way of denouncing Trump’s fraudulent defeat. In other words, they are split between people who believe what they saw in plain sight, and those who worship at the throne of Trump.

As Stephen Colbert said, “evidently, the only thing scarier to Republicans in Congress than a violent mob is the fear that the mob might not like you anymore.”

Perhaps the best example of impending fascism was the election of QAnon conspiracist Marjorie Taylor Greene to the American Congress in the last election. She was elected in one of the safest districts for Republicans in Georgia. It was another example of the America system that ensures the only way a person can win the Republican nomination is to move to the extremes and then when that is secured there is no contest in the safe ridings. It helps produce polarization. Republicans always win in her district in other words.  Sort of like Steinbach, that always votes Conservative, no matter what. Or at least has done so for many years.

Stephen Colbert said she has the “the homicidal vote on lockdown.” Recently it was revealed that she indicated  repeatedly on line that she  indicated support for executing Democratic politicians.  Here is a transcription of one of her engagements with a supporter on Facebook. One of her supporters asked Greene whether as follows about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama: “now do we get to hang them?” And Greene replied, “Stage is being set.  Players are being put in place. We must be patient.” Greene, like her mentor Trump, did not bother being subtle or discreet. Other posts indicated she thought Nancy Pelosi was a traitor and helpfully pointed out that treason was punishable by death.

It is little wonder that on January 27, 2021 the Department of Homeland Security, still with its acting head appointed by Trump, and  not exactly a left-wing organization, issued a bulletin for the first time of “a heightened threat environment across the United States…from homeland violent extremists.”  The extremists are driven by “objections to…the presidential transition, as well as perceived grievances fuelled by false narratives.” The Department made it clear that they see violence aimed at overturning the election of Biden as terrorism. That should not be  surprising.

Colbert asked: “will the GOP finally take a stand against the man who legitimized fascism?” Colbert has not been shy about using the F word to describe Trump. Those are strong words. Are they over blown?  In the light of what happened in the American Capitol who can say that?

That is not all. Newly elected Greene has for awhile denied the school shootings in places like Newtown. Guess what?  She was recently appointed by the Republicans to the House Education Committee. That is like the Gaddafi regime in Libya being appointed to the UN Committee on Human Rights. Only yesterday she was voted out of that post  with only 11 Republicans voting in favor of her ouster.

In 2018, before she became a Congress woman, Greene posted this on Facebook during the California wild fires that devastated that state:  “the real and hidden  culprit behind the [California fire] was a laser from space triggered by some nefarious groups of people.” Not only that but they were Jewish. Greene and other QAnon supporter are resurrecting the old Nazi conspiracy theory that the world is run by a cabal of Jewish bankers. This longtime QAnon adherent is now in Congress and Trump has said she is a “future star of the Republican Party.”

Who continues to think that saying Fascism is on the rise in America is far-fetched? Who continues to think that because Trump has left the White House all is in order?


When Reason sleeps tyranny follows


Goya, the famous Spanish painter was well known for dark art.  No one ever accused him of seeing only the sunny side of life. Goya inscribed one of his works with the following words: “The sleep of reason brings forth monsters.” I find that profoundly true. If we give up reason, we open ourselves up to nightmares, and much worse.

Voltaire, the father or the child of the Enlightenment, and one might say a Fundamentalist Enlightenment thinker, said it best when he said,: “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” I would put it this way, “If I can get you to believe something without any evidence it is true, I can convince you to kill your friend.” Voltaire also understood that when truth was no longer respected there was a slippery slope to tyranny. That is why reason is so important. Reason is our best defence against tyranny. Credulity is our worst enemy.

 Historian Timothy Snyder, an expert of European fascism recently said, “Post-truth is pre-fascism.”

Tyranny is one of the worst monsters born out of the sleep of reason. The tyrant knows he is safe when he can convince people to believe the absurd.


F bombs

F bombs


For quite some time I was reluctant to call Donald Trump and some of his followers fascists. That was then; this is now.

After the attack on the Capitol when after Trump’s urging the mob invaded the Capitol and while chanting “Hang Mike Pence” over and over again, I started to re-think.  When CNN reported that many of the rioters were intent on catching police officers and killing them, I began to change my mind. Some of the rioters in the Capitol said, they “were invited here by the president.” Now, that I see Republican leaders in Congress sucking up to Trump again and once more endorsing his phoney claims of a stolen election in order to keep his base of supporters fired up, I think “fascist” is the right word to describe them.

It reminds me of what happened in Germany in the 1930s when the Nazis who had been elected used the fire in the Reichstag to begin hunting Jews and curtailing freedoms. We must always remember Hitler and the Nazi’s were elected.

Fascists is what they are. The only question is how many of the Trumpists would go that far. It seems to me a lot of them were willing to go that far.

Fascism with a Flag and a Cross

It was either Huey Long or Sinclair Lewis who said, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.

Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951), was one of America’s many great novelists. They included, classics such as Main StreetElmer Gantry, and Babbit. But he also wrote one about fascism coming to America. Sadly I must admit I have not read it, but I have heard it discussed so often I know a little bit about it. As faithful readers of this blog will know, ignorance on a subject has never stopped me from blogging about it. So why start now?

The book is called It Can’t Happen Here, and was published in 1935 when populist and authoritarian demagogues were achieving a lot of popularity in Europe. I intend to blog more about that era because I think it was very important for the birth of fascism. Americans, always thinking (wrongly) that this could never happen in the land of the free, were grossly overconfident that they had nothing to worry about. Until the invasion of the Capitol by rabid Trumpists that is. Now some people know better.

Sinclair Lewis showed in his persuasive book that this confidence was not justified. He believed, as do I, and as did Philip Roth in his book, the Plot to Destroy America, which I have blogged about, that the United States could easily slip into fascism.

I learned this about the book: The main character, Buzz Windrip, appeals to voters with a mix of crass language and nativist ideology. Once elected, he solidifies his power by energizing his base against immigrants, people on welfare, and the liberal press. The novel has been called “frighteningly contemporary” in the wake of the Trump campaign and election.

Does this not sound eerily familiar?

It is not easy to define fascism. Many definitions have been proposed. A friend of mine told me a number of years ago that the US was infested with fascists.  I thought he was exaggerating. I did not think Trump was a fascist. I thought he was an authoritarian—sort of a fascist light.  Now I think he was right.

As Bill Maher said on his television show, “Yes there are many definitions of fascism, but if you can’t call the people who wanted to undo an election that even a lot of judges appointed by Trump said was basically fair, then I don’t know what fascism is.” When you not only try to undo the election but encourage your supporters to storm the Capitol to overturn the election by force—that is fascism.

A while ago, I said fascism was the philosophy of the bully. You could say it is the philosophy of might is right. Is that not exactly what we saw on January 6, 2021 at the insurrection of the Capitol in Washington? People who don’t accept a democratic election. That is what all fascists have in common. A lot people forget that Adolf Hitler was originally elected, before he destroyed democracy in Germany.

And don’t get lulled into a false sense of security that this problem has gone away because Trump is ensconced in Mar-a-Lago. Right after it happened, 45% of Republicans approved of the rampage! After the riot was quelled, a large majority of Republican Senators and Congressmen and Congress women voted for exactly what the rioters were demanding—i.e. that the election be ignored!

Did you notice all the flags and signs that referred to Jesus and Trump? Maybe Sinclair Lewis or Huey Long were right? And this battle is not over.

Fascism is alive and well in America.



A president spirals out of control


On January 4, 2021, the day before a crucial run-off vote to determine which party would control the Senate for at least the next 2 years, Donald Trump appeared at a rally in Georgia ostensibly to assist two candidates for the U.S. Senate, but the rally was marked by lying that even by Trump standards wildly overshot his own standards. He did this because on January 6, 2021 the joint houses of the American Congress were to meet to approve or reject the votes by the Electoral College, which gave Biden the victory. Trump’s minion, Mike Pence would have the job of “presiding” over the joint meeting of both Houses, but the job is ordinarily ceremonial. At this rally Trump said he would like Pence “a lot less” if he did not do what Trump wanted. Somehow he thought Pence could manipulate things so that the votes of the Electoral College could be overturned in his favour.

Trump may also be desperate to avoid becoming the subject of numerous House of Representatives or Department of Justice investigations that are being contemplated.

These two forces seem to have driven Trump completely out of control. Here is what Daniel Dale, CNN’s Trump fact-checker who probably rarely sleeps, had to say about Trump’s speech the day before that meeting after Don Lemon asked him what stood out about that speech:

“What stood out was that the speech was like from an alternate universe. The president is not even remotely connected to reality. Either he’s lying, his brain has been completely captured by internet weirdos, or both. And frankly as a fact-checker I’m bored. Like have you ever sat at a family gathering or at a bar or on a date that had someone just talk your ear off with complete nonsense like for an hour and you feel like you can’t escape? That’s all of us right now because that’s the president right now. He said over and over that he had won the election by a landslide. He lost the election. He said over and over that the other side engaged in mass cheating, stealing, forging, ballot dumping, none of which happened. He stood there and read, this is not ad-libbed, this is reading from a teleprompter, imaginary statistics about voting in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin. It’s all wrong. It’s all debunked by fact-checkers. It’s all dismissed by the courts. On and on. It hardly feels worth it to get into the details of this, though it’s actually my job and I get paid for it. I do think it’s worth getting into some of the false claims he made about the Democratic Georgia candidates. Of course we have an election tomorrow. For example, he claimed that Raphael Warnock talked about ‘opening up the jails.’ If you go back and watch that full clip in context when Warnock last year talked about releasing prisoners who were arrested for marijuana offences in particular, not just letting all criminals out. Jon Ossoff is part of the crusade to defund the police. John Ossoff is on record for months over and over saying he opposes defunding the police, he wants police reform. This was just a wildly dishonest speech. One of the worst honestly I have ever heard from the president.”


Of course those lies had consequences. Trump was not able to fire up enough Georgian voters to get his candidates elected. He may though have fired up the Democrats enough to come out in droves to vote against them. As well he may have been effective in getting his supporters to show up on January 6 for a rally in front of the White House from where he would “lead” them to the Capitol. He turned out he led them from the rear, but he they were fired up enough to wreak havoc. The Capitol was invaded by his followers. Lies have consequences. Sometimes those consequences are serious.

More Brave Defenders of the Truth

Before the riot in the Capitol, and after Brad Raffensperger the Republican Secretary of State for Georgia stood up to Trump, another Republican also did himself proud. This was Gabriel Sterling the Georgia Voting System Implementation Manager. One day after Trump unsuccessfully failed to bully Raffensperger to do his illegal bidding, based on a basket of lies, Gabriel Sterling patiently and methodically went through Trump’s lies line by line, demolishing each Trump claim about voter fraud and voting irregularities. Sterling is another Republican official who stood up for the truth.

Sterling also made it clear that he believed the Trump team was intentionally trying to mislead the Georgia State Senate and the public. They had all the information to know that their claims were false but continued to make them in order to try to keep Trump in office. Clearly the Trump team, with their bosses agreement, was trying to undermine public faith in the electoral system. That is often the first step toward fascism.

CNN asked their fact checker Daniel Dale to review the famous telephone call Trump and his chief of staff and legal team made to Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

Here is what Dale said about that call and others:

“Nothing the president of the United States is saying about the election is true. I’ve said over and over again on CNN that the president is a serial liar, but he usually sprinkles in some truth amid the lies. Since election night it has been all nonsense. It true about Georgia, it true about Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Arizona. He’s spouting conspiracy theories either deliberately or because his brain has been captured by weird people on the internet, I don’t know. The media likes to describe this as a debate or a feud. There is no 2 sides here. One side we has facts and other side we have lies.”

The key issue of course is what will the Republican Party, and even more importantly the American people, do about Trump’s slide to untruth and fascism? Steve Schmidt a former Republican and advisor to Republican John McCain has described the modern Republican Party as “an American autocratic movement with Fascistic markers.” Stuart Stevens another Republican has said this about his own party:

“The bottom line is that the @GOP has become a threat to democracy. I spent decades helping elect members of the party and it’s painful to admit. But it’s a clear and present danger and should be treated as such.”

Finally and most importantly what about the American public. 70 million or more Americans voted for Trump in 2020. Are they prepared to put up with  this tsunami of lies? There is significant evidence that they will. Most of us don’t want to believe it. But we have to beware of the truth of this statement made by John Cassidy: “This is primarily Trump’s work, but it’s not just Trump’s work. Not by a long shot.

Even if Trump leaves the Oval office, this is far from over.

A Call to Arms: Inciting Violence


I prepared this post last night (January 5, 2021) in anticipation of the Joint meeting of the 2 houses of the US Congress and Trump’s comments I heard on the television):


Trump appeared at a rally in Georgia on January 4, 2021 ostensibly to support 2 Republican candidates for the US Senate, but, of course, he could not hold back on efforts to promote his own special cause of overcoming his defeat in the election in November. In fact Trump went so far it seemed like he was inciting his supporters to get violent to support him. At least it certainly could be characterized that way.

Here is what Amy Davidson Sorokin said in an article in the New Yorker,

“Trump is not fighting for his legacy but to unconstitutionally and criminally hold on to a position that he has already lost. In typical Trump style, he is doing so, in part, by calling his opponents the real crooks: “The Democrats are trying to steal the White House—you cannot let them!” he said in Dalton.

But what does that injunction mean for Trump supporters who are not elected officials or judges? What plate does Trump expect them to step up to? He wanted them to vote for Perdue and Loeffler, but that wouldn’t be enough. In the course of the rally, he warned that if “we don’t do something fast,” there will never be another free election and the United States will succumb to “communism.” “If you don’t fight to save your country with everything you have, you’re not gonna have a country left,” he said. He appeared to be past caring whether anyone listening heard that as a call to violence. The system is corrupt, he said, it is rigged, his supporters have a mission. “We have to go all the way, and that’s what’s happening,” Trump said. “You watch what happens over the next couple of weeks, you watch what’s going to come out, watch what’s going to be revealed.” The crowd cheered, and did so again a moment later when he said, “They’re not taking this White House; we’re going to fight like hell.What else did they need to hear?”


To people who love their country and hate communism with passion, this is a call to save the country from people who are trying to steal it. Would such people, if properly coached not be willing to join a war to defend it? Is this not a call to war?

A Bully against a Brave Defender of Truth


By now everyone has likely heard about the hour long phone call between Donald Trump, his chief of Staff Mark Meadows, a bunch of his lawyers, and Brad Ratffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state together with his General Counsel.   I listened to most of the telephone call and it really did sound as Michael Bromwich, a former inspector general at the Justice Department,  described it commented on Twitter as reported by John Cassidy in the New Yorker,

“The entire call is astonishing, the bullying, the threats, the insults, the credulous embrace of discredited conspiracy theories. Like a crime boss, Trump occasionally says that all he wants is the truth. But he doesn’t—he wants the win.”

Trump wanted Raffensperger to kick the election his way. Simple. Find the votes—somewhere. So Trump leaned on Raffensperger.

President Trump rambled on for many minutes, as he tends to do, urging Raffensperger the Republican Secretary of State, whose job it was to certify the election results in Georgia, a state that Trump narrowly lost by to find the 11,780 votes he needed to overturn Biden who beat him by a measly 11,779 votes. Trump and his allies were trying to get the Secretary of State to override the will of the voters of Georgia in his favour based on dubious discredited claims of various irregularities.

As Cassidy reported,

“Raffensperger and his general counsel, who was also on the call, calmly pointed out that his office had investigated all of these claims and found them to be false. (Georgia’s state supreme court and a federal judge appointed by George W. Bush rejected the Trump campaign’s claims as well.)”

Raffefsperger quietly  and repeatedly told the president he was not telling the truth and the truth would come out. The “facts” Trump was relying on where not true. But Trump was not deterred by the truth coming out. He never is. It doesn’t even phase him. Instead he reverted to bullying. Again a typical Trump response.

Trump responded like a true wanna-be despot: Trump wasn’t to be put off. “So what are we going to do here, folks? I only need eleven thousand votes,” he repeated. “Fellas, I need eleven thousand votes. Give me a break.” Find me the didn’t matter where. Raffensperger could admit he made a mistake or whatever. It didn’t matter how he explained it. What mattered was that he found 11,800 votes. The crime boss was pleading. But, he did not stop there. He strongly suggested to the Secretary of State that the people of Georgia would be angry with him and the act of refusing to do what Trump asked for was illegal and he and his General Counsel could get in trouble for that. Nothing like a little muscle when asking nicely doesn’t work.

Yet bravely, Republican Brad Raffensperger stood up to the President of the United States to uphold the truth. Americans should be proud, but there are still a lot of people who support Trump in his efforts to defeat the will of the majority of the people of Georgia. That is the real issue here.

To say that Trump is a wanna-be autocrat is not interesting any more. It is too well known. What is scary is that so many Republicans agree with this. So far more than 100 Congressmen and 11 Senators have said they will support Trump in his plan to overturn the election on January 6, 2020 when the two houses of the American Congress will be asked to ratify the electoral college vote. Normally that is a mere formality. Not this time. Vice-president Mike Pence will be presiding. Ominously this is what Pence has already said, as reported by John Cassidy:

“Soon after this news emerged, Vice-President Mike Pence, a politician who gives invertebrates a bad name, issued a statement saying that he “welcomes the efforts of members of the House and Senate to use the authority they have under the law to raise objections and bring forward evidence before the Congress and the American people on January 6th.”

It could be very interesting to see how far down the slope to fascism the Republican Party will go on January 6, 2020. Keep watch. We should all do that. Who said the price of liberty is eternal vigilance?