Sunday, June 21, 2020

Last Call For The Millenials Go Viral

The effective end of social distancing now means that new cases are exploding in red states like Florida, Georgia and Texas, and as new COVID-19 cases rise above 30K for the first time since early May, more Millennials are testing positive for COVID-19, and casualties are rising as a direct result.

Officials in states across the South are warning that more young people are testing positive for coronavirus.  
The shifts in demographics have been recorded in parts of Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Texas and other states -- many of which were some of the first to reopen. 
And while some officials have pointed to more widespread testing being done, others say the new cases stem from Americans failing to social distance. 
In Mississippi, where one health officer called adherence to social distancing over the past weeks "overwhelmingly disappointing," officials attributed clusters of new cases to fraternity rush parties. 
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said last week that people under 30 made up a majority of new coronavirus cases in several counties. He said that increase in young infected people could be related to Memorial Day parties, visits to bars or other gatherings. 
And in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday that the median age was 37 for newly diagnosed coronavirus cases over the last week. In the state, 62% of new cases for the week of June 7 are under 45 years old, he said. 
"That is a big change from where we were at the end of March and the beginning of April. It was skewing much older at that time," he said. 
Coronavirus has more severe outcomes on older people, Blacks and Hispanics, and people with underlying health conditions, according to demographic data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. From the beginning of the pandemic up through May 30, the median age of positive coronavirus cases was 48, the CDC said. 

That 48 median age of new cases is dropping like a rock.

And so are Millennials.

Please folks, wear a mask in public.

Biden, His Time, Con't

Having grown up in such a family, I'd like to remind folks that there are liberal Democrats of faith out there in America, and while white evangelical Christians have increasingly sided with Donald Trump and the GOP, the shame of the state of that "Christianity" leaves the door open for a more liberal Catholic Joe Biden to make his case.

Biden, a lifelong Catholic, has performed better in recent polling among white evangelicals — and other religious groups — than Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton did in 2016, and is widely perceived as more religious than the current White House occupant. A Pew Research study conducted earlier this year showed that a majority of U.S. adults (63 percent) think Trump is “not at all” or “not too religious,” versus 55 percent who said they believed Biden is somewhat or very religious.
Many conservative evangelical leaders have argued that Biden’s positions on cultural issues — like abortion, judges and religious freedom — are disqualifying. Still, anxiety is growing inside Trump’s orbit about the former vice president’s ability to peel off Christian voters who supported him in 2016, including the 81 percent of white evangelicals he carried, according to eight administration officials, White House allies and people involved with the Trump campaign.

Such an outcome could deal a fatal blow to the president’s reelection, which largely hinges on expanding his support with religious voters to compensate for enthusiasm gaps elsewhere.

“Here’s the problem for Trump: he needs to be at 81 percent or north to win reelection. Any slippage and he doesn’t get a second term, and that’s where Joe Biden comes into play,” said David Brody, chief political analyst at the Christian Broadcasting Network. “In this environment, with everything from the coronavirus to George Floyd and Trump calling himself the ‘law-and-order president,’ Biden could potentially pick off a percent or two from that 81 percent number.”

“It would behoove him to take a play out of the Obama playbook in 2008,” Brody added.

Some of Biden’s campaign appearances and debate answers have been infused with religious undertones, and his campaign reportedly hosts a weekly call with faith leaders to crowdsource policy and personnel suggestions.

At a CNN town hall in February, Biden said his faith “gives me some reason to have hope and purpose” and praised the “ultimate act of Christian charity” shown by members of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., after they forgave a white supremacist who murdered nine members of their congregation in a 2014 mass shooting.

In an op-ed last December that included references to Scripture and Pope Francis’ second encyclical “Laudato Si,” Biden described “the core concepts of decency, fair play and virtue” that he learned through his Catholic upbringing as guiding principles in his political career.

A person familiar with the talks said the Biden campaign is also in the early stages of potentially scheduling an on-camera sit-down with Brody, who conducted several interviews with Obama during his 2008 campaign. The Biden campaign declined to comment on the record.

Rob Stutzman, a Republican strategist who has argued that Biden has an opening to make inroads with Christian conservatives, said the candidate should invoke his faith more often, as opposed to constantly referencing his accomplishments from his time as vice president and a member of the U.S. Senate.

“He would be well-served to talk more in those terms, instead of telling people to check out his record,” Stutzman said. “There are a lot of themes that fit the moment related to justice, authority and loving your neighbor and not in a way that would necessarily make white evangelicals uncomfortable if Biden could speak to them.”

Even Trump allies recognize that Biden has an opening to strike the empathetic and compassionate tone that Trump eschewed in many of his comments about the coronavirus pandemic and nationwide protests over racial inequality.

I don't expect a national shift in the evangelical vote away from Trump. The conservative religious establishment has made their bed with a man who gets them what they want and have decided his own plethora of personal sins are necessary in order to serve "the greater good" of transforming America into the theocracy of Gilead.

But if Biden knocks that Trump 81% of white evangelicals number down to even 75%, he wins. Biden's belief that the teachings of Christ require service to your community and to those less fortunate instead of the purpose of being Christian meaning punishing those who have differing views is what I was taught growing up.

I think that's entirely possible, if not very likely that he gets enough that Trump loses spectacularly.

Sunday Long Read: The Cult Of Orange

Trump's Tulsa rally this weekend is exactly what his slavering fanatics want, to bask in his glory (and COVID-19) and to get their marching orders to engage the backlash against the last four weeks of Black Lives Matter protests. He is nothing less than their God of White Supremacy, and they want bloody vengeance from his lips and his deeds.

Yusif Jones, standing in front of a long row of porta-potties, slides his plastic Trump mask over his face. “I’m him!” he exclaims. He puffs up his chest in his homemade Trump shirt. It’s a short-sleeved American flag pullover, onto which he has ironed black felt letters across vertical red and white stripes: GOT TRUMP? Then he flashes the O.K. sign, a silver ring on his pinky. “I’m him, dude!”

For Trump supporters like Jones, the O.K. sign—thumb meeting index finger, three fingers splayed—is a kind of secret handshake. It began as a joke—a “hoax” meant to trick liberals into believing that the raised fingers actually represent the letters WP: white power. The joke worked so well that it became real. Now, in certain circles, O.K. does mean white power—unless you say it doesn’t. Jones, a big, vein-popping, occasionally church-going white man burdened with what he calls an “Islamic” name by his hippie mother, revels in this kind of coded message, a sense of possessing knowledge shared only by a select few. It’s Möbius strip politics, Trumpism’s defining oxymoron: a populist elite, a mass movement of “free thinkers” all thinking the same thing. They love Trump because he makes them feel like insiders even as they imagine him their outsider champion. That’s what’s drawn Jones here, to the CenturyLink Center in Bossier City, Louisiana, two weeks before Thanksgiving. Like many of the president’s 14,000 followers waiting for the rally to begin, Jones believes that Trump is on a mission from God to expose (and destroy) the hidden demons of the deep state.

To attend a Trump rally is to engage directly in the ecstasy of knowing what the great man knows, divinity disguised as earthly provocation. Jones tells me about Jesse Lee Peterson, a right-wing pastor and talk show host who calls Trump “the Great White Hope.” He doubles over and slaps his knee, signaling to me that it’s another joke. “He’s black!” says Jones, meaning Jesse Lee Peterson. “I love that dude,” he says. He considers Peterson, like the White Hope himself, awesomely witty. Jones straightens up. “But it’s true!” he adds. Which is how racism works at a Trump rally, just like the president’s own trolling—signal, disavowal, repeat; the ugly words followed by the claim that it was just a joke followed by a repetition of the ugly words. Joking! Not joking. Play it again, until the ironic becomes the real.

Later, I listen to Peterson’s show. He calls Trump the Great White Hope because, he says, “Number one, he is white. Number two, he is of God.” Peterson does not mean this metaphorically. Trump is the chosen one, his words gospel.

Peterson is hardly fringe in this belief. Many followers deploy a familiar Christian-right formula for justifying abuses of power, declaring Trump a modern King David, a sinner nonetheless anointed, while others compare him to Queen Esther, destined to save Israel—or at least the evangelical imagination of it—from Iran. Still others draw parallels to Cyrus, the Old Testament Persian king who became a tool for God’s will. “A vessel for God,” says former congressman Zach Wamp, now a member of The Family, the evangelical organization that hosts Trump every year at the National Prayer Breakfast. Lance Wallnau, a founding member of Trump’s evangelical coalition, dubs him “God’s chaos candidate”: “the self-made man who can ‘get it done,’ enters the arena, and through the pressure of circumstance becomes the God-shaped man God enables to do what he could never do in his own strength.”

In Trump’s case, divine backing is more about smiting than healing. When Rep. Elijah Cummings died last October shortly after sparring with Trump about Baltimore, Peterson declared on his radio show, “He dead”—like Trump enemies John McCain and Charles Krauthammer, Peterson noted. “That’s what happens when you mess with the Great White Hope. Don’t mess with God’s children.”

Jones only recently became one of those children. “I’ve been on the side of evolution my whole life,” he confesses. Not so much the science end, he wanted me to understand. His had been the partying wing of agnosticism. Then his fiancé persuaded him to start attending a fundamentalist church, not long before Trump was elected, and the veil was lifted. For instance, he says, now he can see the “gay agenda” of the Democrats. “Actually, they’re pedophiles."

The Trump cult isn't going anywhere. They will crawl over broken glass, through COVID-19, past scary non-white people, to vote for their messiah of darkness. And should Joe Biden pull off the miracle and win, they will never accept Trump's loss for a moment.

My second-greatest fear is that a Biden win will almost be certainly followed by a series of white supremacist terrorist attacks that will leave thousands dead, maybe more. My greatest fear is that Trump is still in charge when the attacks start.

America Goes Viral, Con't

We're at the point where the rest of the world is rightfully worried about America's rampant, unchecked COVID-19 spread harming efforts to protect their own citizens after Europe, Asia, and Australia have successfully flattened the curve.

As coronavirus cases surge in the U.S. South and West, health experts in countries with falling case numbers are watching with a growing sense of alarm and disbelief, with many wondering why virus-stricken U.S. states continue to reopen and why the advice of scientists is often ignored.

“It really does feel like the U.S. has given up,” said Siouxsie Wiles, an infectious-diseases specialist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand — a country that has confirmed only three new cases over the past three weeks and where citizens have now largely returned to their pre-coronavirus routines.

“I can’t imagine what it must be like having to go to work knowing it’s unsafe,” Wiles said of the U.S.-wide economic reopening. “It’s hard to see how this ends. There are just going to be more and more people infected, and more and more deaths. It’s heartbreaking.”

China’s actions over the past week stand in stark contrast to those of the United States. In the wake of a new cluster of more than 150 new cases that emerged in Beijing, authorities sealed off neighborhoods, launched a mass testing campaign and imposed travel restrictions.

Meanwhile, President Trump maintains that the United States will not shut down a second time, although a surge in cases has persuaded governors in some states, including Arizona, to back off their opposition to mandatory face coverings in public.

Commentators and experts in Europe, where cases have continued to decline, voiced concerns over the state of the U.S. response. A headline on the website of Germany’s public broadcaster read: “Has the U.S. given up its fight against coronavirus?” Switzerland’s conservative Neue Zürcher Zeitung newspaper concluded, “U.S. increasingly accepts rising covid-19 numbers.”

“The only thing one can say with certainty: There’s nothing surprising about this development,” a journalist wrote in the paper, referring to crowded U.S. beaches and pools during Memorial Day weekend in May.

We're in absolutely dire trouble.

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We're in as bad of a shape now as we were on April 1.  The EU has gotten things under control, and remember here the numbers are far worse than this graph indicated due to abandonment of testing protocols in many states.

We never should have reopened in the first place.

Now, we will pay dearly for it.  This summer will be a nightmare.
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