Here’s a good question, as asked by my friend Bill Mutterperl in the letters section of the New York Times:

I keep thinking back on Joseph Welch, a lawyer who was not exactly a household name, who precipitated the end of Joe McCarthy with two famous sentences: “Have you no sense of decency, sir. At long last, have you no sense of decency”? Is there anyone today who could utter similar words and actually make the impact that Welch had? Or are we facing a demagogue far more powerful than McCarthy, who will do anything to gut our democratic institutions to preserve his power, and a population who will go along with the destruction of the greatest democracy the World has ever seen because they don’t understand what is happening?


M.L.: “How about countering every mention of ‘Obamagate’ with an immediate reminder of the ongoing ‘Trumpocalypse’?”

→ I don’t like it: it implies both are real.

Atul Gawande in the New Yorker on how to reopen:

. . . Hygiene measures, screening, distancing, and masks. Each has flaws. Skip one, and the treatment won’t work. But, when taken together, and taken seriously, they shut down the virus. We need to understand these elements properly—what their strengths and limitations are—if we’re going to make them work . . .

Like everything he writes, this article is thoroughly engaging and informative.  Read it and “breathe easier.”

Mark L.: “Current data shows Sweden’s death rate at 361 per million versus 271 for the U.S. Not the same, as you stated.”

→ Fair enough, except it’s possible that we are under-reporting our deaths by more than the Swedes are.  So at the time I did my rough back-of the envelope calculation, accounting a little for that, it seemed as though they were sufficiently in the same ballpark.  That said, I take your point.  The official numbers are for sure worth noting.  Thanks, Mark.

S.F.T: “Joseph O’Neill thinks the Democrats need way better messaging to reach the persuadables. An intense advertising campaign. Loud, consistent, focused. Disparaging the GOP as a brand and boosting Democratic Party.  As in:  It’s terrible what’s happened to the Republican party. They can’t be trusted to govern anymore.  They’ve crashed the economy.  They’ve undermined our security.  DEMOCRATS ARE THE PARTY OF THE ORDINARY PEOPLE.”

→ From the New York Review of Books, in very small part:

. . . [Republicans have] a partisan brand advantage on “national security”—a concept with powerful connotations of strength, patriotism, and fear of the other.

How on earth is that advantage possible? The Republican administration of George W. Bush failed to prevent the September 11 attacks, ignoring warnings about the danger posed by al-Qaeda. Then, under false pretenses, it started a war of regime change in Iraq that resulted in the rise of ISIS, the near-destruction of Syria, and a refugee crisis that shook the global political order. The current Republican administration has rapidly undermined NATO; poisoned relations with Ukrainian, South Korean, and Kurdish allies; worsened the climate crisis; and fostered the authoritarian interests of Russia, Iran, Syria, Turkey, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia at the expense of America’s long-established relationships and strategic goals. As for the GOP–Russia scandal (“Trump–Russia” is an inadequate term) and the undue influence of a hostile Russian leader over a Republican president who is obviously temperamentally unfit to be the commander-in-chief—the damage caused and the world-historical risks created are scarcely amenable to conventional description.

Bill Clinton’s administration, meanwhile, expanded the NATO alliance while staying on good terms with Russia; forced the Haitian junta to step down; halted genocidal Serbian expansionism; helped bring peace to Ireland; and started no wars. Barack Obama started no wars, killed Osama bin Laden, established the United States Cyber Command, and made effective nuclear weapons deals with Russia and Iran. He did involve the US in a calamitous military intervention in Libya, but that did not result in a long-term military engagement. The Obama-Biden administration dealt effectively with two pandemics, and its National Security Council produced a sixty-nine-page playbook to prepare the Trump administration for future pandemics. Over the course of sixteen years the only real threat to American domestic security created by a Democratic president was, ironically, the Obama administration’s decision to do little as the Republican Party entered into a de facto (and ongoing) electoral alliance with Russia. . . .



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