Trump and the Developing Coronavirus Crisis

As a regular reader of The Secular Jurist blog, I’ve found that Robert Vella frequently publishes some very informative posts related to current events and happenings.

As a general rule, Robert begins his posts with some personal commentary, then includes links to several news sources (including brief excerpts) that support his outlook.

I felt his most recent post — “Trump’s Pandemic Failure: First he denied it, then he tried to steal the headlines, now he’s covering it up” was too good not to share. In it, Robert discusses several events taking place in Italy and So. Korea related to the coronavirus pandemic, and also offers some observations on President Trump’s recent speeches and actions (or non-actions) within the U.S.

Feel free to offer your comments on whether you agree or disagree with Robert’s reflections. (A link to the actual post is provided at the end of the commentary.)

On January 20th to 21st 2020, the first reported COVID-19 cases were reported in South Korea and the United States respectively – virtually, on the same day.  Because of its proximity to China, the coronavirus outbreak in South Korea progressed much more rapidly.  However, the democratic government of that Asian nation took an aggressive response to combat the pandemic including massive testing and quarantines to stop the spread of the disease (see:  One chart shows how South Korea got its coronavirus outbreak under control in less than a month).  In the U.S., the Trump administration denied the impending crisis calling it a conspiratorial “hoax” and describing the new virus as nothing more than a seasonal flu.

As the reality of the pandemic became undeniable by late February in the U.S., President Trump was forced into a different strategy.  He appointed Vice President Mike Pence to lead his administration’s response, and soon after began holding daily press conferences where he could steal the news headlines by announcing optimistic breakthroughs and bold proposals.  It sounded reassuring, but Trump’s pronouncements were filled with numerous inaccuracies, outright falsehoods, and promises which could never be fulfilled in the near future.

Just as events overtook his denial early on, events are now overtaking his media strategy.  The developing crisis in the U.S. has become so acute that Trump is returning to tactics he used during the Mueller investigation and impeachment proceedings – that is, to withhold as much information as possible from Congressional oversight and from the American people in order to conceal his administration’s egregious failure on coronavirus ahead of the 2020 election.

For comparison, South Korea currently has 8,652 COVID-19 cases in which 100 people have died, but the rate of new infections is steadily declining.  Its government was able to “flatten the curve” which lessened the pandemic’s impact and prevented its healthcare system from being catastrophically overwhelmed.  In contrast, the U.S. currently has 16,607 cases and 219 deaths, but the rate of new infections is skyrocketing.  The U.S. curve looks identical to that of Italy‘s two weeks ago whose healthcare system is now being dangerously overwhelmed by sick and dying people.  It should be noted that the failure in Italy resulted from similar government inaction even though it has a highly rated (by the WHO) healthcare system.

The following stories help illustrate how big Trump’s failure on this pandemic really is.  They also factually refute his recent assertions that the coronavirus “caught everyone by surprise” and that his administration is doing “everything it can” to remedy the situation.  To put it more bluntly, Trump is blatantly lying to the American people;  and, that should surprise no one.

For the supporting news articles, please click this link, which will take you directly to Robert’s post.

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Image by Vektor Kunst from Pixabay

For Political News Junkies

I want to urge … nay, implore … every person who is interested in the political news-of-the-day to read Heather Cox Richardson’s “Letters from an American.”

Ms. Richardson is not a “blogger.” She shares her thoughts through a daily newsletter, which can be accessed here, and uses “facts and history to make observations about contemporary American politics.” She includes links to each and every source she references.

Of all the daily political news sources I read, I’ve found this one the most interesting. She often includes information not found in the regular media, plus she adds her own take on things (which I nearly always agree with).

Wikipedia describes Ms. Richardson as an American historian and Professor of History at Boston College.

Added Note: Her primary distribution source is Substack.com (click Free Publications). She also publishes on Facebook and Twitter. You can receive her newsletters through your email as well, but for the life of me, I can’t remember how to sign up! If anyone knows the steps, please share them in Comments.

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Image by Pettycon from Pixabay

Life in the White Lane

The following excerpt is part of a recent article published in our local newspaper. I have made several modifications to the original for easier reading and I have also removed identifiable names and locations.

Sheriff deputies contacted a male at his residence for multiple felony warrants. They parked near a woodshop on the property where they could hear loud music and a power tool being used. One of the deputies looked through a gap in the wall and spotted a male working on something and called to him.

The man saw the deputy, reached for his waistband, then stood up and walked to the corner of the shop. The deputy drew his Taser and told the man to hold up his hands. Instead, the man suddenly reached to the side and grabbed a firearm. (The deputy initially believed the firearm was a scoped rifle, but later discovered the gun was a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun that had been shortened.)

The deputy sprinted away, running about 200 feet away to a wood shed and ducked behind a truck. During that time, the man managed to crawl up into a narrow loft area. Multiple law enforcement agencies responded to the scene and began to negotiate with the man, eventually sending a police robot into the shop to observe the area.

Shortly before 3 p.m., police threw a flashbang and a canister of tear gas into the shop in an attempt to flush the man out. When he didn’t respond, police threw a second round of gas into the shop, which sent the man running out of the building.

Police shouted at him to stop, but when he didn’t, a police K-9 was sent after him.

Police caught up to the man and placed him in handcuffs. During a body search, they found the man was wearing a pouch containing about nine 12-gauge shotgun shells. The shotgun was loaded with four additional rounds.

The man was arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct, third-degree escape, resisting arrest, menacing, being a felon in possession of a firearm and multiple arrest warrants. He was lodged at the local jail.

What do you think? Did the actions of the deputies fit the crime? Can you think of any circumstances where they might have handled things differently? Do you feel the charges were appropriate?

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Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Fact? Or Opinion?

From NYTimes Morning Briefing, 11/18/19 (via email):

“Now more than ever, the lines between fact-based reporting and opinionated commentary seem blurred for people,” said Evette Alexander, research director at a journalism foundation. “That means they trust what they are seeing less. They are feeling less informed.”

Details: According to one recent poll, 47 percent of Americans believe it’s difficult to know whether the information they encounter is true. About 60 percent say they regularly see conflicting reports about the same set of facts from different sources.

I think this is a very real problem in today’s political news environment. Unless people take the time — and make the effort — to read or listen to more than one source (even if it’s contrary to personal leanings), they are going to “swear” that what they’ve read or heard is 100% true and accurate.

And I daresay, nearly all of us are guilty. We tend to believe (and agree with) the sources that go along with our personal perspectives.

I admit it’s difficult to enter into the world of diametric information. It can often raise the blood pressure a notch or two. But if we truly want to judge a situation (or individual) without prejudice, it’s important to look at all sides.

As many have expressed, the news sources of today are greatly influenced by corporate dollars, which means they often focus on the events and happenings that will draw in the most readers/listeners. This is all the more reason why we need to consider all sources … even those with “low” ratings.

In one of my recent postings, I encouraged researching various news sources to determine how biased your favorite is. While you’re at it, take a look at the ones you find at the other end of the spectrum from yours. Most likely you won’t agree with their reporting, but it will help you to see and understand why your neighbors/friends/work associates disagree with your political views. And it just might open up an opportunity to share something they weren’t aware of. Perhaps you might even change their viewpoint!

Is Your News Source Biased?

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

I daresay most of us read or listen to “the news” most everyday. In fact, some might even describe themselves as being a “news junkie” — while others simply keep up with with current events via headlines in the local paper or TV newscasts.

I would describe myself as being in the middle. I do check the latest headlines on my computer a couple of times each day, and I also read entire stories or articles that either affect me personally or that I find interesting. Or upsetting.

One of the news sources that I especially like is NPR. According to this website, they have one of the highest ratings in factual reporting (VERY HIGH). However, I must be totally honest. The website also states NPR leans slightly left.

Overall, we rate NPR (National Public Radio) Left-Center Biased based on story selection that leans slightly left and Very High for factual reporting due to thorough sourcing and very accurate news reporting.

Even so, in a nation with news sources that are notably either hard-left or hard-right in their reporting, it’s refreshing to find one that only leans slightly left.

But beyond their (slight) partiality, the really important part to me is NPR’s reputation for accurate news reporting — meaning they aren’t coloring the news to promote their bias.

We all know that partisanship is a major factor in politics — and when it comes to what we read and/or listen to, most of us tend to choose the news source that supports our personal position.

As a result, it can sometimes be a bit unnerving when we come across a news story that goes against our leanings … only to discover what we’re reading or hearing is not only accurate, but neutral. In other words, the news source has not “taken sides” but is simply sharing something they believe their readers will find interesting …or “newsworthy.”

Of course, in order to have confidence that what we’re reading is truly neutral, we need to do a bit of research. This means being open to other sources of information that may (or may not) coincide with our personal opinion.

I urge readers to visit the Media Bias/Fact Check website and take a look at a listing of news sources that are considered to be the “least biased.” Then while you’re there, check out the news sources that you tend to favor and see where they rank.

If you’re up to it, share with the rest of us the news source(s) you personally prefer.

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Image by torstensimon from Pixabay