John

LaBoyteaux 2020–Memorial Day Weekend

How many have given their lives to protect and maintain our country and democracy?  We remember and honor them all today.  “That this nation, under God, may have a new birth of freedom and the government of the people, by the people and for the people will not perish from this earth”  Abraham Lincoln.

This weekend President Trump appeared to order the reopening of churches contrary to Covid-19 restrictions in many states.  It is questionable that he can do so because he had previously ceded these authorities to the states, but that does not prevent political posturing.  A Federal Court in California ruled against a group of churches seeking to resume in person services, finding that the Covid-19 restrictions addressed all large gatherings and did not specifically discriminate against religion.

First I want to give a big shout out and thank you to those ministers and religious leaders who have found ways to conduct services which maintain social distancing.  Whether “on line” services or something as creative as renting the drive-in movies and placing church goers in every other parking place.  We are nearing 100,000 deaths from Covid-19 but for many Americans it seems distant.  If we were talking about something as lethal as the Ebola virus, we probably would not even be having this discussion.

My message to all Americans this weekend is do not let down your guard about Covid-19.  The virus is still out there.  It is still killing people.  It can be transmitted as easily as having a normal conversation with an infected person, even an infected person who is not showing symptoms.  Cases have jumped up again in some locations.  And I ask all Americans, if you are in an establishment that requires masks, take care of yourself and be considerate of others, wear a mask.

Speaking at the Ford plant in Michigan, President Trump declared that he would not shut down the country again even if there is a second wave of Covid-19.  More political posturing.  Again, he ceded that authority to the states, which is probably good since the individual states are very different and not equally impacted by Covid-19.  However his words are about leadership and minimizing the seriousness of this virus, as I mentioned previously, contains a calculus of death.  I urge all Americans to maintain your guard and shelter in place as needed, even as I work to safely reopen business and industry.

In another absurdity, President Trump this week claimed that states sending out absentee ballot applications were breaking the law and inviting massive voter fraud.  Voter fraud is very uncommon and the President, like the Russian bots, is pushing fear and lack of confidence in our election system.  The Republican Party is suing California to prevent voting by mail, Mitch McConnell is blocking vote by mail legislation, some locations are making it more difficult for people to vote in person (less polling places) and the continuing issue of redistricting.  Voter suppression is real and a political strategy.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by John, 0 comments

LaBoyteaux 2020–Witches Cauldron

In today’s witches cauldron of Covid-19 and partisan politics my thoughts are also with the families of Ahmaud Arbery, Calvin Monerlyn, the missing children in Idaho and countless other needless tragedies.

No one conspired to bring down the economy and cause massive unemployment but denial and trying to pretend Covid-19 is not still with us is a failure of leadership.  Avoiding more testing, not wearing a mask when others are asked to do so, refusing the reopening recommendations of the Center for Disease Control, firing inspectors generals, telling Dr. Fauci he cannot testify in the House of Representatives, the blame game with China, all a continuing and complete failure of leadership.

The Senate and House of Representatives are exactly the representatives of the people of the United States.  Refusing testimony and withholding information disrespects our nation, our people and is beyond failure of leadership.  President Trump and claimed executive privilege over the entirety of the Mueller Report, so how are we to know about the lies which Michael Flynn admitted.  What happened to John Bolton’s book?

Multiple states are trying to expand vote by mail options so people don’t have to risk Covid-19 by going to crowded polling places.  The Republican Party is spending millions to prevent this while Trump is claiming voter fraud.  We’ve had absentee balloting forever.  There is no widespread fraud, usually single digits if at all.  Voter suppression is part of the Republican strategy, to hell with democracy and encouraging people to vote.  And Mitch still won’t move legislation in the Senate to address foreign meddling in our election, which Trump still claims was a hoax.

There didn’t need to be any collusion, the Russians were doing the job for him anyway.  All he had to do was make nice with Putin.  His campaign staff knew it was happening, knew it might help them, did nothing to stop it while having multiple contacts with the Russians including Michael Flynn and the Russian Ambassador.

 

 

 

 

Posted by John, 0 comments

LaBoyteaux 2020-Thanks George

Yesterday former President George W. Bush called for a non-partisan response to Coronavirus, I’ve been trying to find the words.

Dr. Brix described the demonstrations at the State Capital in Michigan, with guns and Trump flags, as “devastatingly worrisome”.  It looked like a choreographed campaign rally to me and President Trump cannot or will not stop encouraging them while admitting this morning that Covid-19 deaths could go over 90,000.  Thank you George W for pointing out what presidential leadership should look like in this crisis.

Even if the assistance checks were enough, which they are not, the country cannot continue long with business and industry shut down. We have to find a way to gradually and safely move forward.  However the President cannot restrain himself and keep politics out of it.

This is a very contagious disease.  You can catch it just by talking to someone at a normal distance.  It can be spread by people who have no symptoms themselves.  It is not the flu.  65,000 have died in this country and not all have been old or infirm.  Some shake it off while others become extremely ill or die.

In Trump’s rush to reopen the country, there is a calculus of death, some of us will have to be sacrificed.  If we cannot stop more deaths we can damn well try!  Stop talking at cross purposes.

 

 

 

Posted by John, 0 comments

LaBoyteaux 2020–Testing and Restarting the Economy

In order to restart the economy, we need to be able to quickly detect and stamp out new Covid-19 brush fires and that depends on widespread testing.  Otherwise we risk, almost assure, another widespread outbreak, hundreds of thousands of lives lost and further collapse of economic activity.  Even if the relief payments were enough to keep families going, which they are not, we cannot support our population on borrowed money, so the path forward requires we do two things at once, carefully reopen key businesses while keeping tight control of the virus.  The states need Federal funding for sufficient medical materials to do greatly increased testing.  We should not be arguing about this.  It is most distressing to hear, argument in some quarters that the economy is more important than increased loss of life.  Some groups are at greater risk from the disease, who should be sacrificed?  We must do both and we must come together as a nation to do it.  Childish blame gaming and political posturing don’t get it done.  As president, if I gotta eat crow, I eat crow but we get on with expanded testing to get Covid-19 under control until treatment and cure can be found.

A national shout out to all our hospitals and care providers, some working under difficult and dangerous conditions, treating cases of Covid-19.  A shout out to those research institutions working 24-7 to find effective treatments.

And lastly, blaming the Chinese and de-funding the World Health Organization is just senseless at this stage.  Human error is inevitable.  The World Health Organization is also working to prevent so many diseases in poorer nations.

 

 

 

Posted by John, 0 comments

LaBoyteaux 2020–The Most Difficult Decision??

The most difficult decision of his Presidency?  About reopening the country,  is this another one of these teasing games, who are we kidding here?  All 50 states have declared an emergency.  It is clearly too early to relax shelter in place requirements.  The curve may be flattening in New York and Seattle but Covid-19 is still expanding into rural areas.  And if the death toll is less that 100,000 he did a good job!! Who needs this garbage??

And continued firing of career civil servant Inspector Generals for doing their jobs.  The intelligence IG who reported suspected wrong doing (Ukraine) to congress.  The Department of Defense IG with oversight over virus relief spending.  The HHS IG who surveyed hospitals across the country to determine their needs.  None of this makes any sense other than vendetta and a desire to avoid any oversight or criticism.

Wisconsin and the primary election, the decisions of our Supreme Court seem to me more and more removed from the people on main street.  Surely they could have found some way to extend vote by mail balloting in this time of national emergency.  There is no widespread voter fraud or threat of such fraud.  Only very small numbers of people try to cheat and seem to get caught.

We need to redouble our efforts at social distancing until Covid-19 is clearly under control.  The disease can be passed just by talking and associating with other people, even people who have no symptoms.   I am thankful for religious leaders all over the country to have found ways to conduct Easter Services on line, or on television in order to maintain the social distancing needed to protect the country at this time.

Posted by John, 0 comments

LaBoyteaux 2020–Covid19

President Trump has doubled down on his belief that Hydroxychloroquine is effective against Covid19.  There appears to be no proven medical data to support his belief.  Hydroxychloroquine is used to treat Lupus patients.  The drug has serious side effects for some people and at least a couple have died taking too much or without a doctor’s prescription.  Just learned the FDA has issued emergency approval for doctors to prescribe Hydroxychloroquine for Covid19 patients.

We’d all like to find a quick cure for Covid19 and numerous drugs are being evaluated with the plasma treatment, based on blood from persons who have recovered from Covid19, being tried on a few actual patients.  I have a close relative with terminal lung cancer and we have tried some off-label drugs.  I understand the desire to try unproven treatments.

So what of Presidential leadership in this situation?  How to provide hope without raising unrealistic expectations?  I would talk, or better ask those with more knowledge to talk, about all the research being done to find a cure and ask that research be accelerated.  I cannot place my personal belief about a silver bullet above that of all the medical professionals.

Also in the news this morning, Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly has said the captain of the aircraft carrier was “naive or stupid” in asking for help with a Covid19 outbreak on his ship.  Sailors live in very close quarters with specific duties that do not allow social distancing.  Chain of command is very important in the military but the captain was not wrong in concern for the health of his crew.  At most, some corrective discipline after the fact might be appropriate.  The Navy is removing all the sailors from the ship.  In my opinion Secretary Modly is more concerned about how this is playing in Washington.

 

 

Posted by John, 0 comments

LaBoyteaux 2020 – No Witnesses

From a thousand points of light to near darkness, a trial is supposed to search for truth but only Mitt Romney and Susan Collins were willing to do so.  And one other glimmer of integrity, Chief Justice Roberts would not read a trick question to expose the identity of the whistle-blower.

I can’t say now if the Democrats were right or wrong to bring Articles of Impeachment.  I was worried about more inflamed division of the country but no one wants foreign countries interfering in our elections.  But Mitch McConnell is still sitting on the legislation that would address Russian interference.

The truth will come out.

 

 

Posted by John, 4 comments

LaBoyteaux 2020-One Hundred and Seventy-Six Dead

Iran has admitted that in fear of an attack by the United States, they accidentally shot down a Ukrainian civilian airliner.  That they admitted this is good but since it took three days, was it the overwhelming public evidence, internal political struggle or something else?  Russia has still not admitted the shoot down of the Malaysian airliner, flight 17, even after the Dutch investigation found shrapnel from the rocket in the bodies of the crew.  And don’t forget the shoot down of an Iranian airliner by the USS Vincennes in 1988 and Korea airlines flight 007 shot down by Russia in 1982.  In all these cases there was plenty of coulda-shoulda about precautions that might have been taken.  In the end it is the insanity of war.

No one in the Trump administration has been able to provide evidence of an imminent threat to justify the assassination of the Iranian general which brought us to the brink of war with Iran and indirectly the death of one hundred and seventy-six innocent people on a civilian airliner.

As president, I don’t want to kill anyone and will do my best to avoid the need to do so.  If we are attacked, defend against the attack and punish the immediate attacker.  The Middle East is complicated and we cannot tolerate attacks by proxies.  However President Trump is making it worse though the extreme economic sanctions and campaign of maximum pressure on Iran.  It will take generations to repair the damage done and the historic animosities in the region.  Our effort should be directed to getting all involved to live within the boundaries of their individual nations.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by John, 0 comments

LaBoyteaux 2020-Assassination in Bagdad

Regardless whether one believes the Iran nuclear deal was badly crafted, the Iranians were keeping their end of it.  A foundation of trust in one area can be used to address other problems.  I last discussed Iran in my “The Morning News” post last June.  In my view the Trump administration has been trying to bait Iran into a conflict with extended sanctions and Iran has been conducting, directly and through proxies, asymmetric attacks on U.S. interests and allies.  Overnight President trump ordered the assassination of the highest ranking Iranian general with a rocket attack on his motorcade at the Bagdad airport.  So two questions, plenty of opportunities to kill this guy before so why now?  And, supposedly he was planning some wider attack on U.S. interests, so if we knew about it, why not act against the attack rather than assassinate a high ranking leader?  A sound defeat is a far greater deterrent to future attacks than making a martyr.

 

 

 

Posted by John, 0 comments

LaBoyteaux 2020–Impeachment?

Richard Nixon was a Republican president.  When he tried to cover up involvement in the Watergate break-in the Republicans lead the inquiry and were near impeachment when he resigned.  What happened to the integrity of the Republican party?  Bribery and extortion are serious crimes and there is evidence this may have occurred.  A fair and serious hearing is needed.

In 2017, meeting with Russian officials in the Oval Office, President Trump told them he wasn’t concerned about their meddling in the 2016 election.  In my view, this was the first treason.  Recordings of this conversation have been hidden perhaps not unlike taking the translator’s notes after the closed meeting with Putin in Helsinki.

As the recent article by Joe Lockhart observes:

“Perhaps the most significant testimony, though, was about US foreign policy. Both Kent and Taylor warned against abandoning our commitment to Ukraine as an important strategic ally. To do so would be the latest example of the President tilting US foreign policy in the direction of helping Russia at the expense of our traditional allies. Whether it was Trump’s servile turn at the Helsinki press conference with Vladimir Putin last year, or his abandonment of our Kurdish allies in Syria or his trying to bully our allies into readmitting Russia to the G-8, the message has been clear.”

At this time, I do not believe the House of Representatives should move to an Impeachment vote, censure perhaps, but not Impeachment yet.  There must be a compelling case, so while a majority of Americans believe President Trump is guilty of wrong doing in Ukraine, the country is still closely divided about Impeachment.  New revelations could change my mind and I believe there is still much to be revealed.  The blocking of witnesses and attacks on those who do testify looks like obstruction of justice to me.  I would like to know, as some reporting has suggested, if President Trump lied in writing to the Mueller investigation.  I would like to see the tax returns because I wonder about foreign loans and investments, Russia especially.

As the week begins, the Democratic led House of Representatives has developed Articles of Impeachment and appears ready to move to an Impeachment vote.  This is not a hoax.  There is strong evidence of wrongdoing by the President.  The Democrats are correct that foreign intervention in our elections was foreseen by the Founding Fathers and is a great danger to our Nation.

Although the evidence is strong, I would still like to see some testimony so compelling that most all Americans could put aside their partisan feelings and look at what happened with Ukraine as they would their responsibility in jury service.  That we would all be compelled to put country above self interest.

With Impeachment now coming as soon as Wednesday I am now firmly of the view that Impeachment and Trial in the Senate is not good for our County and will further inflame our divisions.  A simple and plainly written resolution of censure will underscore what the President did and cause great caution should he try to do it again.  That the Republicans (Mitch Mc Connell) continue to block legislation that would make it more difficult for foreign actors, Russia in particular, to meddle in our elections, is to forsake our Country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by John, 0 comments