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Category Archives: Politics

Wear the Damn Mask

From CNN.Com:

Why you need to wear the damn mask

Catherine Pearlman is a clinical social worker, associate professor at Brandman University and the author of Ignore It!: How Selectively Looking the Other Way Can Decrease Behavioral Problems and Increase Parenting Satisfaction. The opinions expressed in this commentary are her own. View more opinion on CNN.

(CNN)Go for a walk, visit any open establishment or public space, and you will note a disconcerting phenomenon: People without masks.

Catherine Pearlman

There is a pandemic. Tens of thousands of Americans are dead because of Covid-19, a disease that spreads in droplets that are expelled by infected humans, including as they talk or cough, and whether they show symptoms or not.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone wear a cloth face covering in public, especially where there is a high degree of community-based transmission (that is, when the source of infection is unknown). I live in California, where nearly 60,000 people have been infected. Across the country 1.2 million Americans have tested positive for Covid-19, with more than 73,000 lives lost– and projections for the future (another peak in the fall?) are really grim.
Meanwhile, hospitals and their staff are pushed to the breaking point caring for the sick, with medical staff working weeks without days off to treat the afflicted, risking their own lives and those of their family. And yet, so many people refuse to take warnings seriously to protect themselves and others by wearing a mask in public.
Trump doesn't wear mask to facility manufacturing masks
It’s hard to pinpoint how many of us are clueless and careless — maybe half of those who go outside? A third? Some other fraction? — but it’s certainly way too many.

Why you need to wear the damn mask

Trump doesn’t wear mask to facility manufacturing masks 01:04
It’s hard to pinpoint how many of us are clueless and careless — maybe half of those who go outside? A third? Some other fraction? — but it’s certainly way too many.
The lack of empathy is jarring. We need a shift.

We need our leaders — all of them — to get the message out loud and clear. If you are away from the closed system of your home, the message should say, you must wear a mask. That means, too, employers mandating that workers of all kinds mask up. Do they want the disease spread to subside; do they want business and the economy to eventually come back — or don’t they?
Masks of any kind are not perfect barriers for contagion. Wearing one doesn’t offer full protection and shouldn’t be thought of as a foolproof, safe way to interact. But experts report that wearing a mask does help protect against transmission by asymptomatic carriers. And note that data show — according to, among others, Robert Redfield, President Donald Trump’s CDC director — that likely one in four people infected with Covid-19 are indeed asymptomatic and unaware of their contagion.

Be prudent, be kind. One can think the government’s response to the virus is an overreaction and still wear a mask, just in case you might make someone sick. That’s reality.
Wearing a mask is cumbersome. It’s hot, and it’s uncomfortable. But it can save lives and ease the burden on those doctors and nurses facing unspeakable pain and suffering on the front lines.

Making personal sacrifices for the public good has not always been an American priority. We are an individualistic culture, and by nature we may find it more difficult to empathize with others when our own freedom and liberties feel like they are on the line. There is resistance to allowing the government or anyone else step in and require — or even strongly urge — Americans to cover their faces.

But surely we can all understand that sometimes regulations are in place to protect people from themselves, or to avoid suffering of the community. We require drivers to wear seat belts to protect the passengers and minimize the potential for serious injury. (Those injuries not only affect the driver, but also the emergency room workers and even taxpayers through disability and unemployment.)

Laws require children to have vaccines, not only for the child’s sake but to maintain herd immunity for all of us. We don’t have a vaccine for Covid-19. But we can all help until we do: we DO know about masks.

Back in the early 1990s, I was a social work intern in the HIV/AIDS unit at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. AIDS was still a death sentence, and every worker and visitor took “universal precautions” to avoid transmission with all patients. The prevailing wisdom then and now is that when it’s impossible to assess by looking if someone could be infected, wear gloves and masks. We protected ourselves. Yes, wearing gloves was uncomfortable. So was getting HIV.

Where are our universal precautions for Covid-19?

Wearing a mask in public is an act of respect for your fellow humans. This is the kind of empathy I try to teach my children. Our kids are watching the adults through this pandemic, and they are learning lots of lessons — intended and unintended.

I want my children to understand that being mildly inconvenienced for the greater good is not only right, it’s a moral imperative. It’s how we manage to live together in relative safety in our society.

It’s a no brainer. Wear the damn mask.

Yale experiment: could they turn conservatives into liberals?

Interesting article. I discovered it when the Freedom of Mind Resource Center posted it on Facebook. They are a cult recovery group. I read one of the books that the head guy, Steven Hassan, wrote, and it really opened my eyes…you can check them out at their web site:


From The Washington Post:

At Yale, we conducted an experiment to turn conservatives into liberals. The results say a lot about our political divisions.

November 22, 2017

(Getty Images)

When my daughter was growing up, she often wanted to rush off to do fun things with her friends — get into the water at the beach, ride off on her bike — without taking the proper safety precautions first. I’d have to stop her in her tracks to first put on the sunscreen, or her bike helmet and knee pads, with her standing there impatiently. “Safety first, fun second,” was my mantra.

Keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe from harm is perhaps our strongest human motivation, deeply embedded in our very DNA. It is so deep and important that it influences much of what we think and do, maybe more than we might expect. For example, over a decade now of research in political psychology consistently shows that how physically threatened or fearful a person feels is a key factor — although clearly not the only one — in whether he or she holds conservative or liberal attitudes.

Conservatives, it turns out, react more strongly to physical threat than liberals do. In fact, their greater concern with physical safety seems to be determined early in life: In one University of California study, the more fear a 4-year-old showed in a laboratory situation, the more conservative his or her political attitudes were found to be 20 years later. Brain imaging studies have even shown that the fear center of the brain, the amygdala, is actually larger in conservatives than in liberals. And many other laboratory studies have found that when adult liberals experienced physical threat, their political and social attitudes became more conservative (temporarily, of course). But no one had ever turned conservatives into liberals.

Until we did.

In a new study to appear in a forthcoming issue of the European Journal of Social Psychology, my colleagues Jaime Napier, Julie Huang and Andy Vonasch and I asked 300 U.S. residents in an online survey their opinions on several contemporary issues such as gay rights, abortion, feminism and immigration, as well as social change in general. The group was two-thirds female, about three-quarters white, with an average age of 35. Thirty-percent of the participants self-identified as Republican, and the rest as Democrat.

But before they answered the survey questions, we had them engage in an intense imagination exercise. They were asked to close their eyes and richly imagine being visited by a genie who granted them a superpower. For half of our participants, this superpower was to be able to fly, under one’s own power. For the other half, it was to be completely physically safe, invulnerable to any harm.

If they had just imagined being able to fly, their responses to the social attitude survey showed the usual clear difference between Republicans and Democrats — the former endorsed more conservative positions on social issues and were also more resistant to social change in genera

But if they had instead just imagined being completely physically safe, the Republicans became significantly more liberal — their positions on social attitudes were much more like the Democratic respondents. And on the issue of social change in general, the Republicans’ attitudes were now indistinguishable from the Democrats. Imagining being completely safe from physical harm had done what no experiment had done before — it had turned conservatives into liberals.

In both instances, we had manipulated a deeper underlying reason for political attitudes, the strength of the basic motivation of safety and survival. The boiling water of our social and political attitudes, it seems, can be turned up or down by changing how physically safe we feel.

This is why it makes sense that liberal politicians intuitively portray danger as manageable — recall FDR’s famous Great Depression era reassurance of “nothing to fear but fear itself,” echoed decades later in Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address — and why President Trump and other Republican politicians are instead likely to emphasize the dangers of terrorism and immigration, relying on fear as a motivator to gain votes.

In fact, anti-immigration attitudes are also linked directly to the underlying basic drive for physical safety. For centuries, arch-conservative leaders have often referred to scapegoated minority groups as “germs” or “bacteria” that seek to invade and destroy their country from within. President Trump is an acknowledged germaphobe, and he has a penchant for describing people — not only immigrants but political opponents and former Miss Universe contestants — as “disgusting.”

“Immigrants are like viruses” is a powerful metaphor, because in comparing immigrants entering a country to germs entering a human body, it speaks directly to our powerful innate motivation to avoid contamination and disease. Until very recently in human history, not only did we not have antibiotics, we did not even know how infections occurred or diseases transmitted, and cuts and open wounds were quite dangerous. (In the American Civil War, for example, 60 out of every 1,000 soldiers died not by bullets or bayonets, but by infections.)

Therefore, we reasoned, making people feel safer about a dangerous flu virus should serve to calm their fears about immigrants — and making them feel more threatened by the flu virus should cause them to be more against immigration than they were before. In a 2011 study, my colleagues and I showed just that. First, we reminded our nationwide sample of liberals and conservatives about the threat of the flu virus (during the H1N1 epidemic), and then measured their attitudes toward immigration. Afterward we simply asked them if they’d already gotten their flu shot or not. It turned out that those who had not gotten a flu shot (feeling threatened) expressed more negative attitudes toward immigration, while those who had received the vaccination (feeling safe) had more positive attitudes about immigration.

In another study, using hand sanitizer after being warned about the flu virus had the same effect on immigration attitudes as had being vaccinated. A simple squirt of Purell after we had raised the threat of the flu had changed their minds. It made them feel safe from the dangerous virus, and this made them feel socially safe from immigrants as well.

Our study findings may have a silver lining. Here’s how:

All of us believe that our social and political attitudes are based on good reasons and reflect our important values. But we also need to recognize how much they can be influenced subconsciously by our most basic, powerful motivations for safety and survival. Politicians on both sides of the aisle know this already and attempt to manipulate our votes and party allegiances by appealing to these potent feelings of fear and of safety.

Instead of allowing our strings to be pulled so easily by others, we can become more conscious of what drives us and work harder to base our opinions on factual knowledge about the issues, including information from outside our media echo chambers. Yes, our views can harden given the right environment, but our work shows that they are actually easier to change than we might think.

John Bargh is a professor of social psychology at Yale University and the author of “Before You Know It: The Unconscious Reasons We Do What We Do”

“The times they are a-changin'”

From CNN.Com:

A resolution denouncing neo-Nazis dies in 36 seconds



Pennsylvania church holds AR-15 blessing ceremony

by Avery Anapol – 02/28/18 05:07 PM EST

A Pennsylvania church on Wednesday held a blessing ceremony for couples and their AR-15 rifles.

The World Peace and Unification Sanctuary hosted the event, at which couples wearing white dresses and dark suits renewed their vows and received blessings on their unloaded firearms, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The religious group, considered to be a “cult” by many, is led by the Rev. Sean Moon, who prayed at the ceremony for “a kingdom of peace police and peace militia where the citizens, through the right given to them by almighty God to keep and bear arms, will be able to protect one another and protect human flourishing.”

The group views AR-15s as religious symbols, and has previously held events featuring the rifles. An AR-15 is the weapon police say was used to kill 17 people and injure 14 others in the school shooting at a Florida high school.

A small group of protestors gathered outside the sanctuary, with one calling the attendees “an armed religious cult.”

One attendee of the ceremony told the Tribune that she and her husband own an AR-15 to protect themselves from “sickos and evil psychopaths.”

“People have the right to bear arms, and in God’s kingdom, you have to protect that,” she said. “You have to protect against evil.”

A nearby elementary school closed in preparation for the event, instead taking students to a school 15 miles away as a safety precaution.

In the wake of the Florida shooting, lawmakers have grappled with how to act on gun control legislation, with some proposing a ban on assault-style weapons like the AR-15.

President Trump on Wednesday pushed lawmakers during a bipartisan meeting at the White House to raise the minimum age for purchasing such rifles from 18 to 21.


Democracy Dies in Darkness


Anything involving possible censorship should make everyone shudder, particularly when it consistently comes from a dysfunctional branch of the federal government. The Washington Post’s masthead says it all: Democracy Dies in Darkness.


From Politico.Com:

Trump suggests challenging NBC’s broadcast license

The veiled threat opens a new front in the president’s feud with the media.


10/11/2017 10:37 AM EDT
Updated 10/11/2017 12:07 PM EDT

President Donald Trump on Wednesday suggested that NBC’s broadcast license should be pulled as punishment for the network’s reporting on his national security meetings, opening a new front in the president’s long-running battle with the press.

NBC News published a report Wednesday morning stating that Trump had surprised his national security advisers by proposing a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during a July meeting. The meeting was what allegedly led Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to call Trump a “moron” — a comment that NBC first reported last week.

Trump lashed out at NBC, appearing to make a threat that is not even possible, given that the Federal Communications Commission doesn’t directly license networks.

“Fake @NBCNews made up a story that I wanted a ‘tenfold’ increase in our U.S. nuclear arsenal. Pure fiction, made up to demean. NBC = CNN!” Trump wrote on Twitter, equating the two TV news outlets he has most often lashed out against. “With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!”

NBC did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The FCC had no immediate comment.

The president’s willingness to potentially challenge the broadcast licenses of a media outlet whose coverage he objects to marked an escalation in rhetoric for Trump. The president has regularly complained about coverage he views as unfairly critical, labeling stories, reporters and entire outlets “fake news.”

As a candidate, Trump threatened to “open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.” He repeated that threat in a post to Twitter in March. He also floated the idea of canceling the long-held tradition of White House press briefings, which were moved mostly off-camera for weeks last summer.

It is the second time in as many weeks that Trump has attacked NBC News. The earlier attack came after the “moron” report, which also said Tillerson had been on the verge of quitting over the summer.

Tillerson has denied that he ever considered resigning, and a State Department spokeswoman later said the secretary doesn’t use language like “moron.”

Trump, meanwhile, said the network’s news division “is so knowingly inaccurate with their reporting” and had “low news and reporting standards.”

“NBC news is #FakeNews and more dishonest than even CNN. They are a disgrace to good reporting. No wonder their news ratings are way down!” Trump wrote on Twitter on Oct. 4.

It’s unclear exactly how Trump could directly challenge a media outlet’s broadcasting license, if he chose to follow through on his veiled threat.

The FCC, an independent federal agency, issues broadcast licenses to stations and oversees license holders. It does not license networks. NBC is owned by Comcast, which holds broadcast licenses for several stations. NBC also airs on affiliate stations owned by other companies.

Local residents or competitors can file a challenge to a station’s license renewal, but the basis for such a challenge is extremely limited — it must be a case where the station systematically violated the FCC’s rules or lacked the requisite “character” to hold the license. That is usually defined as a felony conviction, said Andrew Schwartzman, a communications lawyer with the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University Law Center.

“It’s an empty threat. The last thing that NBC is going to worry about is whether its broadcast licenses are in jeopardy,” Schwartzman said.

Schwartzman said the only time he could remember a large broadcaster losing its license was in the 1970s, after a New York station’s management was convicted of bribery. The license renewal issue surfaced in 2012, when Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. was facing controversy over a phone-hacking scandal in Britain, but Fox’s U.S. television licenses were not revoked over the issue.

Although NBC is currently in Trump’s cross hairs, CNN has most often been the target of Trump’s anger with the media. The president has sought to turn the network into something of a foil for him and his supporters, who have chanted “CNN sucks” at rallies. Trump has shared images viewed by some as encouraging violence against CNN, including a professional wrestling clip that shows the president attacking a man with a CNN logo superimposed over his head and a cartoon with a “Trump” train running over a man covered by a CNN logo.

The cable network’s White House reporters have sparred often with White House press secretaries Sean Spicer and Sarah Huckabee Sanders during briefings, while the administration has, at times, refused to put its spokespeople and surrogates on CNN.

Trump has lobbed insults and threats at newspapers, too, most often targeting the “money losing” New York Times and The Washington Post, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, the owner of online retail giant Amazon.

“The #AmazonWashingtonPost, sometimes referred to as the guardian of Amazon not paying internet taxes (which they should) is FAKE NEWS!” Trump wrote on Twitter in June.

The attack came one day after the Post reported that at least four Trump Organization golf properties had on display a fake Time magazine with Trump on the cover and flattering headlines about his reality TV show, “The Apprentice,” which aired on NBC.

Jason Schwartz contributed to this report.

The Jimmy Kimmel Test

From CNN.Com:

Jimmy Kimmel takes on new health care bill, says Sen. Cassidy lied ‘right to my face’

by Frank Pallotta   @frankpallotta September 20, 2017: 9:15 AM ET

Jimmy Kimmel didn’t pull any punches when it came to the Senate’s new health care bill and U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, saying that Cassidy lied “right to my face.”

(article continued below the video)

“A few months ago after my son had open heart surgery, which was something I spoke about on the air, a politician, a senator named Bill Cassidy from Louisiana was on my show and he wasn’t very honest,” Kimmel said opening Tuesday night’s show.

Kimmel then explained how Cassidy came up with what the senator called the “Jimmy Kimmel Test,” which according to the host was a test that said that “No family should be denied medical care, emergency or otherwise because they can’t afford it.”

“He agreed to that,” Kimmel said. “He said he would only support a healthcare bill that made sure a child like mine would get the health coverage he needs, no matter how much money his parents make.”

Shortly after Cassidy’s May 2017 appearance on Kimmel’s show, Cassidy spoke to CNN about a separate healthcare bill he had just introduced, and had co-sponsored with U.S. Sen. Susan Collins. Unlike the Graham-Cassidy bill, that bill would have avoided lifetime coverage limits, and extended protection to those with preexisting conditions.

In Tuesday’s show, Kimmel explained that a new bill proposed last week by Cassidy and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham “actually does pass the Jimmy Kimmel Test” in that with this bill “your child with a pre-existing condition will get the care he needs if, and only if, his father is Jimmy Kimmel.”

“Otherwise, you might be screwed,” he said.

Kimmel continued thrashing Cassidy, saying that the senator not only failed the Jimmy Kimmel test, but that “he failed the Bill Cassidy test.”

Cassidy, in an appearance Wednesday on CNN’s “New Day,” said of Kimmel: “I’m sorry he does not understand.”

He insisted that the bill provides broader health care coverage than now exists.

“There are more people who will be covered under this bill than under the status quo,” Cassidy said. “Everybody fears change. Even if it’s worse to better, they don’t want change.”

During his seven-minute monologue, Kimmel also made the point that those in congress trying to push the bill into reality are counting on the American people to be “overwhelmed with all the information.”

“Most of the Congresspeople who vote on this bill probably won’t even read it. And they want us to do the same thing,” he said. “They want us to treat it like an iTunes service agreement. And this guy, Bill Cassidy, just lied right to my face.”

Kimmel then showed a clip of himself asking Cassidy in May if he believed that every American, regardless of income should get regular checkups and maternity care in the same way that people who have health insurance receive the care. Cassidy responded “yep” in the clip.

“‘Yep’ is Washington for ‘Nope,'” Kimmel said.

Kimmel said he never imagined he would ever get wrapped up in an issue like health care.

“This is not my area of expertise. My area of expertise is eating pizza,” he said. “And that’s really about it.”

Kimmel then ended his monologue telling Cassidy that there’s a new Jimmy Kimmel test for him.

“It’s called a lie detector test,” he said. “You’re welcome to stop by the studio and take it anytime.”

In a statement, Cassidy did not directly address Kimmel’s monologue, but reiterated his commitment to the latest proposed legislation.

“We have a September 30th deadline on our promise,” Cassidy said in a statement, referring to some Republicans’ plan to repeal Obamacare. “Let’s finish the job. We must because there is a mother and father whose child will have insurance because of Graham Cassidy Heller Johnson. There is someone whose pre-existing condition will be addressed because of GCHJ.”


CNNMoney (New York) First published September 20, 2017: 12:17 AM ET

We Will Come Around

We are now in a low point in American history. But we survived Nixon, we survived George W. Bush. We will always survive. They can force us down, they can call the people protesting Nazis (Nazis!) the alt-left. They can force their god down our throats. They can ignore science. They can try to give tax breaks to the rich and leave roughly 15-20 million Americans without health insurance. They can try to pass draconian immigration laws in a country of immigrants. They can try to stop a woman’s right to choose or a gay couple’s right to marry.

Guess what? We always win in the end. The religious right, the alt-right, the Nazis, the climate deniers – they will end up in the dustbin of history, just like those that opposed the Civil Rights Act and the traitors that made up the Confederacy. Why? Because Americans, down deep, realize that in order for the truths of the Declaration to be “self-evident” and “unalienable,” they have to be true for EVERYONE. There was a time when blacks were slaves and Native Americans were slaughtered and women couldn’t vote and certain churches, mosques, and temples were not protected as promised and African-Americans were separate but not equal and gays and lesbians couldn’t marry. See, we as a country, we come around (often slowly). You may not like or agree with an idea or a law, and you have the absolute right to petition your lawmakers. But down deep, to love this country is to love the ideas it was founded upon. And, yes, some of our Founding Fathers were flawed men – but we are not here to speak of individual flaws. We are here to revel and rejoice in their ideas. To be an American is to look around and realize that that the people at work, in your neighborhood, at the mall, are different than you, yet the same. They are Americans, and they deserve the chance to fully understand what that means. The rights are for all or the rights are for none. There is no in between. Not here. Not ever.

Michael-Patrick Harrington
Ambler, Pennsylvania



DC’s Lincoln Memorial vandalized with spray-painted expletive
Miranda Green

By Miranda Green, CNN

Washington (CNN)The National Park Service is actively working to remove graffiti found spray-painted in red on a pillar of the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall early Tuesday morning.
The graffiti was discovered around 4:30 a.m. ET Tuesday and appears to say “[expletive] law,” according to a statement provided by NPS. NPS also found indecipherable graffiti in silver spray-painted over a map of the Smithsonian museums in another area of the National Mall.

Both sites of vandalism are already being actively cleaned up by a National Mall and Memorial Parks monument preservation crew. Cleanup will continue until all evidence of the graffiti is gone, according to the NPS statement. The United States Park Police is currently investigating the incident.

This is not the first time that national monuments in DC have been tampered with. In February, the World War II, DC War Memorial, Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial were all vandalized with conspiracy-filled graffiti.

The graffiti consisted of text written in sharpie or magic marker, officials said, and included the words “Jackie shot JFK” and a message related to the September 11 attacks, according to US Park Police spokesperson Sgt. Anna Rose.

Back in 2013, the statues of Abraham Lincoln inside the Lincoln Memorial and Joseph Henry, outside the headquarters of the Smithsonian Institution, were also vandalized with green paint

Conscience not Party

I’ve tried to stop making political posts. Too many trolls. No debate – just name-calling. But I have to say, for the first time in a long time, I respect John McCain. I always liked him. My dad did too. Vince was a lifelong Republican who despised Bush II. We agreed there, but we also agreed on McCain (and I’m a lifelong Democrat). But when McCain ran for president, he called himself a maverick too many times to count, then said he wasn’t, then pulled Sarah Palin out of the obscurity in which she so clearly belonged. (Thank god for Tina Fey!) While I didn’t want McCain to win, I thought he was a great candidate – until he plainly wasn’t. He became wishy-washy. But last night’s Senate vote earned him the mantle of maverick once again. In the twilight of his time in public service, he served the public by following his conscience, not his party.

O Happy Day

Friday’s Supreme Court decision in favor of same sex marriage is the culmination of so many people fighting to be recognized, struggling to have the same rights as everyone else, while hate groups and the Christian Right bit at their heels and compared them to animals. Yesterday, I was with two of my favorite people on the planet, two little boys named Søren and Silas (sons of Margaux Kent and her husband Walter). We were playing with action figures and looking for Chewbacca’s head when Margaux brought her laptop into the room. To listen to our President and watch the people on the steps on the Supreme Court celebrating while two little people positioned the Hulk and Iron Man, I realized that there is a possibility that we have just made this planet better for the next generation and that superheroes come in all shapes and sizes.