Misinformation is a tactic says Senator to aspiring medical students

Misinformation is as old as the spoken word. Especially, as it relates to obtaining or keeping power. I was made aware of the following reference from a speech made by a current US Senator that is as good example of why we must demand the truth as reported in a Newsweek article by Aila Slisco, earlier this week:

“Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said that ‘misinformation’ could be a ‘great tactic’ during a speech to a group of medical school students in 2013. In a video shared to Twitter by epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding on Wednesday, the Kentucky Republican can be seen telling students that ‘misinformation works’ during an Aug. 22, 2013, lecture at the University of Louisville School of Medicine.”

Sadly, the Senator is correct. But, he should not be. We must demand more from our elected officials. It is hard enough to govern with facts, but nigh impossible when we ignore them. What I also find appalling is the Senator shared this with medical students who take an oath before becoming doctors to do no harm.

We also must demand the truth from our news and pseudo news sources on various cable and radio shows. Some actually parrot disinformation, misinformation’s more evil twin. Since it is unlikely we will hear a consistently truthful message from some of these folks, our best bet is do what Fox News management said in court about one of its stars, Tucker Carlson. In essence, they said Carlson is not part of their news team, so his opinions should not be considered as news. I would agree with Fox management on this statement.

The truth matters. Misinformation is not the truth, in spite of whether it is a good tactic per Senator Paul. Taking this a step further, it means the Senator has just informed us it is OK not to believe him.

“It was obviously a mistake” is an oft repeated theme

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson seems to be in the newspapers for all the wrong reasons these days. It does not bode well for the PM with people calling for his resignation. The latest challenge for him is the revelation he socialized with gatherings of people on a couple of occasions during a country-wide lockdown for COVID. Things have gone so poorly for him with Brexit advisors quitting, that he is probably glad Prince Andrew’s alleged philandering is stealing his headlines.

“It was obviously a mistake” is an oft repeated theme. This quote actually comes directly from US Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. Cruz uttered said remark after vacationing with his family in Cancun, Mexico during a winter storm in 2021 that left millions of Texans without power and water. This was not the best of times to go out of the country with constituents down on their luck.

Cruz should have learned the lesson from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison who decided to proceed with a vacation in Hawaii at not the best of times back home. Some severe and large wildfires were burning with people losing their homes, animals and lives as he put more suntan lotion on to keep from burning his skin on the Hawaiian beaches. The press was none to kind. The fact that Cancun and Hawaii are exotic locations did not help their cause.

These stories rival the former US president who had several pep rallies during the COVID pandemic in 2020 where people got sick. In Tulsa, six of his staff members had COVID and it is believed former presidential candidate Herman Cain contracted it there and died. In the fall, the former president had a party in September where he himself may have contracted the disease among several others. But, the worst example is having pep rallies in February of that year without telling his biggest fans they were in danger, as he later confirmed he was aware of in an interview on February 7. Not only that, he naysayed the pandemic calling it a “Democrat hoax.”

We all make bad decisions. Yet, politicians are supposedly skilled at PR or have PR people to advise them not to do stupid things. To me, the worst examples are the last ones with the former US president as they were repeated offenses. And, they each trace back to assuaging a fragile ego with praise, in my view. He was tired of being criticized in Washington, so he wanted to bask in the glow of his biggest fans, who he placed at risk to hear their applause. Think about that.

As for the first three, these folks would crave a do-over. “It was obviously a mistake” is not something politicians like to utter.

I hear you talking, but I am not buying it

When a philandering husband tries to explain why he reeks of someone else’s perfume as he saunters in after working late, most wives are not buying it. They hear him talking, but they certainly are not buying it. The failure to communicate begins with a man who thinks the perfume smell will just go away when he leaves his working late partner.

President Bill Clinton actually has numbers to prove he was an effective president, but he still was a skirt chaser, always has been. When he famously said very slowly as he pounded the dais, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” we heard the words, but very few of us was buying his story. Sure, Bill.

President Richard Nixon liked to often say after the Watergate story became bigger than he could handle, “I am not a crook.” Running a burglary ring from the White House and trying to cover it up does not sound very lawful. Nixon was forced to resign by his own party leadership before he was impeached and convicted. Yes, he was a crook.

President Ronald Reagan said on national television that he was not involved in any effort to illegally sell arms to Iran to fund the Contra rebels in Central America. Known as the “Iran-Contra Affair,” Reagan had to go on TV later and say he lied. Per his own son, what his father did was an impeachable offense, but Oliver North fell on the sword and took the rap.

President George HW Bush got in trouble for a campaign promise when he emphatically said “Read my lips, no new taxes.” When the deficit got larger, he ended up raising taxes and was not reelected. I think the emphasis on “read my lips” made it a bigger fall.

President Barack Obama did something similar promising with the Affordable Care Act, “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” He did not know enough about healthcare management to make such as claim. That would come back to haunt him and taint the roll out of the program.

President George Bush, the son, over saw the invasion of Iraq under false pretenses, that Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction. The WMDs story was a narrative that Hussein wanted his enemies to believe, but we used faulty intelligence to create a need to invade. An independent UK Commission several years later condemned both Bush and PM Tony Blair for misleading the British people. People died because of this.

President Donald Trump could fill a book with his assertions that turned out not to be true. All politicians are untruthful, but his numbers as president are tens of thousands of untruthful statements. The “election was stolen from me” will likely rank as one of the more devastating lies in our country’s history (the “Big Lie” as it is known). “COVID is a Democrat hoax,” said often and early during the start of the pandemic still echoes today even though it is terribly untrue. “China will pay for the tariffs” said quite often even though economists would add each time he said it that consumers pay for the tariffs as the cost is passed down to them.

What bothers me greatly is when sycophants perpetuate these lies even when they know they could be harmful to people. Pandemic studies of COVID-19 note that an additional couple of hundreds of thousands of people died due to our poor response in the US. There are people who have been sentenced and others standing trial for participating in an insurrection caused by the Big Lie. The truth matters. People get hurt.

The Pentagon Papers are likely the most famous example, which is why Nixon went to great lengths to keep them out of the newspapers. Yet, he wasn’t just covering for himself – he was covering for a fairy tale that hid the fact the US could not win the war in Vietnam, a fairy tale perpetuated by Eisenhower, JFK and LBJ as well. Too many more American soldiers died and huge numbers of Vietnamese citizens were killed as well.

Yet, Nixon’s biggest lie did not come out until years later, when recordings were found from a week before the 1968 presidential election. Nixon the candidate was heard in a recording before the 1968 election asking the South Vietnamese leader to stall the current peace negotiations and he would garner a better deal. The ultimate peace deal took four more years and more American and Vietnamese people died. What Nixon did was a seditious act, but LBJ chose not to publicize it, although he did speak with the Senate Majority Leader about his concerns.

We need politicians to tell us the truth. They owe it to us. I know they all embellish taking credit for good things they have little to do with and blaming others for things they have little to do with, such as the economy. But, today lying seems to be done with impunity. We need to make folks more accountable. We need to demand their sycophants stop covering for the lies or rationalizing them away. Followers will believe their BS not realizing they are being lied to. And, some will get hurt, even killed. We especially owe it to our troops to tell the truth as too many pay for the machinations with their lives.

Please remember a few things

On the anniversary of a horrendous day in America which occurred last year, we need to remember a few common sensical things. We can never let this happen again, especially when it appears a few lawmakers aided and abetted the efforts of the insurrectionists out of loyalty to a former president who has a well-documented history of being less than truthful.

  • when people who are in the know tell you not to look at the man behind the curtain, make darn sure you look behind the curtain.
  • when people who are decrying the investigative House committee is a sham, please remember two very important things – the same people voted down a proposed independent commission and nominated at least two people to be on the committee who are actually suspects in aiding and abetting the efforts, which at best is conflict of interest.
  • when people have gone out of their way to tell you what happened did not happen that way, in essence saying don’t believe your own eyes then you should be skeptical of those efforts.
  • when people who beat on their chest about law and order belittle the Capitol police force who testified under oath and at great consternation, what does that say?
  • when people seemingly ignore the former president’s inability to prove his false election claims after over 65 court cases (winning one small one in PA) and losing several recounts, reviews and audits in spite of all of his financial resources, you think these conspiracy minded people may begin to realize the REAL CONSPIRACY is being propagated on them by the former president of the United States.

As an old fart who once was a Republican and Democrat and is now an Independent voter, I am an American first. Our democracy is being further threatened because a seventy-year old person is pitching a hissy fit because his fragile ego cannot take losing. It truly is that simple. His niece Mary said her uncle “will burn it all down to avoid losing the election.” She said this just after the election and well before January 6, 2021.

We need a healthy dose of political courage in this country, especially in the Republican party. They must stop vilifying the truth tellers and start being critical of those who are not shooting straight with us. Republican Congresspersons Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, Pete Meier, et al are getting death threats, yet are still speaking up. Why is that?

Most people I know do not like being lied to. Please ask more questions of sources and think about the statements above. What happened on January 6 started well before that date and we need to see that clearly to stop it from happening again.

Retired General urges folks to stop listening to baseless election fraud claims (and the MyPillow CEO) in CNN interview

While Congresswoman Liz Cheney got most of the press yesterday saying it is time for Republicans to choose between the truth and Donald Trump, another retired military person has shared his concerns about the baseless election fraud claims of the former president. Per a summary of a CNN interview, here are few excerpts.

Retired Brigadier General Steven M. Anderson urged Donald Trump supporters to stop listening to baseless claims about 2020 presidential election fraud and suggested measures to avoid a potential insurrection in 2024.

The former general spoke with CNN host Pamela Brown about solutions that would address the ‘extremism that has gone on within the military.’ He also warned against listening to conspiracists among many Republicans promoting baseless claims of election fraud, including MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.

‘We need to do what we can do now to identify those people [within the military], get them out of our ranks, and train the rest of the force on civics one on one about how our country is supposed to work, how elections work, stop listening to the pillow guy [Lindell] and start learning about our country and how it’s actually supposed to run,’ Anderson said during his recent interview with CNN.

There is a threat within [the military]. We’ve got some people that just haven’t been educated. They haven’t been found out, and they’ve grown in power through perhaps inaction on the parts of some of our key leaders,’ he added.

What continues to bother me is the open attacks on the truth tellers in the Republican party who are calling out the overt lies of the former president, while those covering for the ex-president get elevated status in the party and media ranks. It should matter that these folks know they would be vilified,yet speak out anyway. Why is that? These lies led to an insurrection against a branch of government and people died and many were in danger.

We can never forget what happened leading up to that day a year ago and the fact the former president continues what his former attorney general William Barr told to his boss’ face – the election fraud claims are BS.

Opportunity missed – a revisit

Happy New Year. This is a repeat of an old post from five years ago. Its message is still apt.

One of my favorite quotes about opportunity is “Opportunity is missed because it is often dressed up as hard work.” To me, this speaks volumes. Too many look for easy answers, when success comes from doing some heavy lifting.

Along these lines, in his book “Outliers,” two of Malcolm Gladwell’s four traits of successful people involve opportunity. I should mention the other two are being smart or talented enough and putting in 10,000 hours or more of practice. But, the two pertinent to this discussion are recognizing opportunity and seizing opportunity.

A quick example illustrates this point. By the time he was age 21, Bill Gates was one of the top programmers in the world. Why? He had the opportunity to work on the mainframe computer after 1 am at the University of Washington. As Gladwell points out, it was recognizing this opportunity and getting up or staying up to program while others slept or had fun. He was learning.

Gladwell points out that even the smartest of people sometimes overlook opportunity. In a genius grant project, money was given to watch these geniuses flourish, but many of them were not successful. The reason is they missed opportunity. The ones who were successful either saw opportunity or had someone who brokered opportunity for them.

Some very smart people fail to see that they are in competition for people’s time, interest and money. By waiting until something is perfected or their schedule frees, that opportunity may be gone.

So, what conclusions can be drawn from this brief discussion. First, don’t be frightened of hard work. A man will never be shot while washing the dishes.

Second, keep your head up, network, ask questions and just be involved in your surroundings. Connect dots by looking for or asking about things you see in someone’s office or something you saw online.

Third, be prepared for these moments. Do your research on companies and people that you are meeting with. This will help in making those connections.

Fourth, seize opportunities. If you are driving and see an interesting shop – stop the car and pull in. This is a metaphor for business, volunteer or investment opportunities. Since the average person has had eleven jobs by the time they’re forty, take a chance on something that interests you. But, honor that interest and invest your time in it. These life experiences will build your wisdom.

Opportunities abound. Look for them. Seize them. Work them.

Hard Truths

Since our pseudo news outlets and social media pot-stirrers capture the imagination with stories that are largely untrue or focus on the wrong things, we seem to be ignoring hard truths. This concerns me as dialogue over factual information is greatly needed. Otherwise, we address the wrong problems.

America no longer is a country of upward mobility. We have fallen in the ranks of people climbing the socio-economic ladder and to whom and where you were born matters more than merit.

America ranked in the twenties in terms of science and math in world educational ranking the last time I checked. It may be worse now. That is not American Exceptionalism.

America has the most expensive health care system in the world but ranks around thirty-eight in quality outcomes. We have one of the hjghest maternal mortality rates in first world countries.

America was put on watch list for democracies around the world. That sentence speaks volumes. When people believe a former president who is known for being untruthful when he says the election was stolen, that gives me concern. The fact he cannot prove any of his wild contentions should be informational. He has won only one out of 65+ court cases and no recounts or audits. It is hard for him to lose any more than this, but he was still at it earlier this week.

That climate change thing is real and it is here. Storms are more severe and impactful. Drought areas are dryer. Wild fires are more intense. And, coastal areas are seeing more sunny day flooding. What is less discussed is the warmer weather pushes further north wreaking havoc on flora and fauna. The Maine lobsters are migrating north and we are seeing more tropical disease carrying insects up this way.

And, there are many other things we are not discussing.

Good economic news per Jennifer Rubin and Wall Street Journal

In an editorial by Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post called “Opinion: Biden gets an early Christmas gift: Good economic news,” she discusses the good economic news hearing into 2022. In excerpts below, she cites The Wall Street Journal and The Conference Board to support her claim.

“Presidents have some control over fiscal policy, but markets, the Federal Reserve and, yes, the state of the pandemic have a lot more say on how the economy is performing. Nevertheless, if President Biden can be bashed for bad economic news during his presidency (e.g., inflation), then he also should get some credit for successes. And right now, there is plenty for him to crow about.

Heading into the new year, the economy looks in better shape than Biden’s legislative agenda. The Wall Street Journal reports: ‘A booming U.S. economy is rippling around the world, leaving global supply chains struggling to keep up and pushing up prices. The force of the American expansion is also inducing overseas companies to invest in the U.S., betting that the growth is still accelerating and will outpace other major economies.

With a projected 7 percent annualized growth rate for the fourth quarter, the United States is running circles around Europe and China. That relative strength against the rest of the world, reflected in a strong dollar that lowers the cost of imports for U.S. consumers, matters greatly.

The economy grew 2.3 percent in the third quarter (higher than the expected 2.1 percent). Moreover, for all the talk of inflation and the pandemic, consumer confidence is through the roof. ABC News reports: ‘The Conference Board, a business research group, said Wednesday that its consumer confidence index — which takes into account consumers’ assessment of current conditions and their outlook for the future — rose to 115.8 in December, the highest reading since July.

…Furthermore supply chain woes are showing signs of abating. As Biden said at a meeting on Wednesday with his supply chain task force, “Packages are moving, gifts are being delivered and shelves are not empty.” He was also able to point to concrete steps his administration has taken to address the issue, such as obtaining the ports’ agreement to operate 24/7.

The full editorial can be linked to below. Rubin’s first point about presidents getting too much credit and blame for the economy is a good one. Yet, they do provide headwinds and tailwinds, usually a little of both. Biden’s predecessor inherited an economy that was in its 91st consecutive month of economic growth in January 2017 with six consecutive years of 2 million plus annual job growth. To his credit, it continued and was lifted some by a temporary sugar rush of the corporate tax cut in 2018, before falling back to previous levels after the sugar rush waned. Once the pandemic hit, all bets were off and we retrenched.

Biden and Trump invested in stimulus payments to get the economy going providing money to spend. And, it helped tide us over until more of us started working. Was it the best use of funds? Arguably. Some contended we should have provided the subsidies to employers to keep people employed. I would preferred to have seen that, as people would still be tethered to their job. The recently passed Infrastructure Bill will provide some additional tailwinds as would the Build Back Better bill that is still waylaid.

Inflation is of course a concern. Yet, politicos like to highlight bad news when their tribe is not in charge and lessen the focus on good news. In addition to the new COVID strain, what gives me pause is the stock market continues to remain at record high levels. The question is how long can it remain there? If you know that, you are way ahead in the game.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/12/22/biden-gets-an-early-christmas-gift-good-economic-news/

Holiday wishes for politicians, candidates and voters (ten years later)

Happy holidays to all. I wanted to close the year with a few holiday wishes to various constituencies – politicians, candidates and voters – as we move into a full campaign year. Please note this piece was written ten years ago, but still holds true.

For all parties, I strongly encourage you to read “That Used to be Us” by Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum. The subtitle is ” How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We can Come Back” and I think it should be required reading for all politicians and candidates. The voters would be benefit greatly as well as it will help us keep the first two groups honest and focusing on the right things.

I wish for politicians and candidates to focus on things of import and less on platitudes. The 2012 Republican presidential debates have tended to focus on less important things and we need to ask tough questions about where we are as a country and how do we do what is needed on the major issues of the day. We have tended to dumb down the debates about issues that have been decided (abortion) or that run counter to what is actually happening (global warming). It is hard for me to take someone seriously who wants to do away with the EPA or will choose which judicial rulings he will obey.

I wish for politicians and candidates to think more before they speak. Our problems are complex and deserve well thought out answers. Herman Cain was toast long before his personal crises, as he had not done any homework in preparation for the most important job in the world. I also wish for politicians to tell the truth or use meaningful information to support a cause. Not all data is equal and biased survey data needs to be identified and ferreted out. I have taken a survey gleaned by Newt Gingrich’s team and, frankly, it was biased from the outset and I told them so.*

I wish for politicians and candidates to collaborate with others. They do not have all of the answers and some don’t have a good hand to begin with. So, it is imperative they collaborate with others across all spectrums. This is a major reason I am an independent voter. Collaboration is the key to our success.

I wish for voters to take everything a politician says with a grain of salt. With the infamous words uttered by Senator Kyl earlier this year when he was caught in a lie, “please don’t interpret my comments as being factual,”  he gave us the proper advice. Senator, we will take that advice to the bank. We will not believe anything you say from this point forward. The Democrats should not gloat as they have tended to misrepresent a fact or two, as well.

We voters also need to keep the politicians and candidates between the white lines. We should consider all portrayed facts or survey data in the right context. Who conducted the survey? Where did the facts come from? Does this person have a history, both good or bad, with the subject? Some congressman are supported by lobbying groups and they will vote 100% of the time on issues in favor of the lobbyist’s cause. Their opinions should be discounted as being overly biased.

Our problems need serious people and serious discussions to address them. Going back to the book noted above, we have wavered from our mission, but we can rectify our problems if we think long term and approach our problems together. If we continue our partisan bickering, we will likely fail in these endeavors.

Thanks for reading. I wish for each of you and all of us, a prosperous New Year.

*Note: Herman Cain, the pizza chain tycoon, got early press in his presidential candidacy for his simple 9-9-9 tax plan, as he called it. The problems started appearing when he could not explain what it meant and he started contradicting himself. Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House, started out strong in 2012 in his presidential run, but he fell by the wayside when his over-confident manner rubbed too many the wrong way. People forget his own party removed him as Speaker for similar reasons in the 1990s.

Minimum wage continues to increase in many places

The minimum wage continues to rise in a number of places. Effective next year,81 jurisdictions will see tangible increase to amounts already above the nationwide minimum wage. Per a USA Today article yesterday called “Minimum wage is about to rise in 21 states, 35 localities as more embrace $15 an hour,” the national minimum is of less importance in more places.

A few paragraphs from the piece follows, with a link to the entire article below:

Twenty-one states and 35 cities and counties are set to raise their minimum wages on or about New Year’s Day, according to a report provided exclusively to USA TODAY by the National Employment Law Project (NELP), a worker advocacy group.

Base hourly pay will climb from $11 to $12 in Illinois; from $9.25 to $10.50 in Delaware; from $9.50 to $11 in Virginia; from $12 to $13 for most workers in New Jersey; and from $10.50 to $11.50 in New Mexico.

Since some governments will act later in the year, a total of 25 states and 56 localities – a record 81 jurisdictions – will lift their pay floors sometime in 2022, according to NELP….

Besides California and New York, nine states are headed to a $15 pay base over the next four years – Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Virginia. They’ll join 50 localities at or on the way to $15, including Chicago, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C.

All told, by 2026, about 40% of the U.S. workforce will be covered by $15 minimum wage mandates, NELP figures show.

Separately, at least 100 or so mostly large companies already have raised their pay floors to $15 or higher, including Best Buy, Costco, Wayfair, The Container Store and Southwest Airlines, according to the NELP study.”  

With living wages for individuals, two-person and greater families at a higher rate than the national minimum wage, it is good to see these jurisdictions and employers recognize this. Right now, retailers, restaurants, customer service jobs are available. Just check out the signs for hire when you walk in the door. People have been voting with their feet doing other jobs instead. Some have decided to do a compilation of independent contractor jobs to get by, rather than work on someone else’s schedule.

Having worked as a volunteer to help working homeless families, these wages increases are good to see. Too many of our clients were working at insufficient wages at multiple jobs to meet the rent demands. The demand for workers is also good to see as people will have more choices. With any job, but especially a customer facing one, do yourself a favor and make yourself valuable. Do these things and you will see some success – show up, show up on time and show up dressed with a helpful attitude.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/markets/minimum-wage-is-about-to-rise-in-21-states-35-localities-as-more-embrace-15-an-hour/ar-AARYykL?ocid=msedgntp