The Insightful Troll

Rants and ruminations.

Why We March

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First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist

Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist

Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me

America - the Inspiration for Adolf Hitler?

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I know that title might come of as click bait (okay maybe it is), but Alex Ross makes an interesting observation in The New Yorker.

The Nazis were not wrong to cite American precedents. Enslavement of African-Americans was written into the U.S. Constitution. Thomas Jefferson spoke of the need to “eliminate” or “extirpate” Native Americans. In 1856, an Oregonian settler wrote, “Extermination, however unchristianlike it may appear, seems to be the only resort left for the protection of life and property.” General Philip Sheridan spoke of “annihilation, obliteration, and complete destruction.” To be sure, others promoted more peaceful-albeit still repressive-policies. The historian Edward B. Westermann, in “Hitler’s Ostkrieg and the Indian Wars” (Oklahoma), concludes that, because federal policy never officially mandated the “physical annihilation of the Native populations on racial grounds or characteristics,” this was not a genocide on the order of the Shoah. The fact remains that between 1500 and 1900 the Native population of U.S. territories dropped from many millions to around two hundred thousand.

America’s knack for maintaining an air of robust innocence in the wake of mass death struck Hitler as an example to be emulated. He made frequent mention of the American West in the early months of the Soviet invasion. The Volga would be “our Mississippi,” he said. “Europe — and not America — will be the land of unlimited possibilities.” Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine would be populated by pioneer farmer-soldier families. Autobahns would cut through fields of grain. The present occupants of those lands — tens of millions of them — would be starved to death. At the same time, and with no sense of contradiction, the Nazis partook of a long-standing German romanticization of Native Americans. One of Goebbels’s less propitious schemes was to confer honorary Aryan status on Native American tribes, in the hope that they would rise up against their oppressors.

Jim Crow laws in the American South served as a precedent in a stricter legal sense. Scholars have long been aware that Hitler’s regime expressed admiration for American race law, but they have tended to see this as a public-relations strategy — an “everybody does it” justification for Nazi policies. Whitman, however, points out that if these comparisons had been intended solely for a foreign audience they would not have been buried in hefty tomes in Fraktur type. “Race Law in the United States,” a 1936 study by the German lawyer Heinrich Krieger, attempts to sort out inconsistencies in the legal status of nonwhite Americans. Krieger concludes that the entire apparatus is hopelessly opaque, concealing racist aims behind contorted justifications. Why not simply say what one means? This was a major difference between American and German racism.

Which Country Has the World's Best Health Care?

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Ezekiel J Emanuel, oncologist & bioethicist, compares the outcomes of several countries’ health care systems in his book “Which Country Has the World’s Best Health Care”. While American politicians and ill informed US citizens pretend that the US is #1, we rank last in a tie with China. An our response to the Covid-19 pandemic is proof of our dysfunctional health care system.

The only thing the US is #1 in these days is military spending, gun violence, and number of Covid-19 patients of any country in the world.

The US spends more than any other nation, nearly $4 trillion, on healthcare. Yet, for all that expense, the US is not ranked #1 — not even close.

In Which Country Has the World’s Best Healthcare? Ezekiel Emanuel profiles 11 of the world’s healthcare systems in pursuit of the best or at least where excellence can be found. Using a unique comparative structure, the book allows healthcare professionals, patients, and policymakers alike to know which systems perform well, and why, and which face endemic problems. From Taiwan to Germany, Australia to Switzerland, the most inventive healthcare providers tackle a global set of challenges — in pursuit of the best healthcare in the world.

Just Wear a F'n Face Mask!

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Jason Kottke asking:

Why WHY WHY!!!! are we still talking about this? There’s no credible evidence that wearing a mask is harmful, so at worse it’s harmless. If there’s like a 1-in-10 chance that masks are somewhat helpful — and the growing amount of research suggests that both 1-in-10 and “somewhat helpful” are both understatements — isn’t it worth the tiny bit of effort to wear one and help keep our neighbors safe from potential fucking death? Just in case?

Japan is a great example. Japan is a country of megacities where most of the population uses public transport - but they have a total confirmed cases of Covid-19 of 17,382 with 924 deaths. The US has 2.12 million cases with 117 thousand deaths. You have to ask yourself what is Japan doing?

“Japan, I think a lot of people agree, kind of did everything wrong, with poor social distancing, karaoke bars still open and public transit packed near the zone where the worst outbreaks were happening,” Jeremy Howard, a researcher at the University of San Francisco who has studied the use of masks, said of the country’s early response. “But the one thing that Japan did right was masks.”

Is the Secret to Japan’s Virus Success Right in Front of Its Face? Motoko Rich

Lets not make wearing a mask yet another flash point in the culture wars. Wearing a mask is our cheapest, simplest and as of now most effective weapon against Covid-19. As our PINO once said - What have you got to loose?

So please, WEAR A F'N MASK!

The American Nightmare

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Ibram X. Kendi in The Atlantic:

To be black and conscious of anti-black racism is to stare into the mirror of your own extinction. Ask the souls of the 10,000 black victims of COVID-19 who might still be living if they had been white. Ask the souls of those who were told the pandemic was the “great equalizer.” Ask the souls of those forced to choose between their low-wage jobs and their treasured life. Ask the souls of those blamed for their own death. Ask the souls of those who disproportionately lost their jobs and then their life as others disproportionately raged about losing their freedom to infect us all. Ask the souls of those ignored by the governors reopening their states.

The American nightmare has everything and nothing to do with the pandemic. Ask the souls of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd. Step into their souls.

A Performance of Fascism

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When you use your own military to attack the citizenry’s constitutional right to assemble and protest, it is not a show of strength. It is a show of fascism.

Masha Gessen:

What I am seeing is the performance of Fascism. Donald Trump has told us before, but never quite as clear or frightening, he is showing us what he thinks power looks and sounds like. Troops on the steps of the memorial or guarding the White House.

We are seeing military force and display to refuse to be accountable in any way. The fact that the troops are refusing to identify themselves. The fact that they are unmarked terrifies me. He thinks power sounds like Blackhawk helicopters used to clear protesters. He thinks it looks like tear gas used to clear protestors. He uses words like ‘Dominate’ over and over in his phone call with governors. It is a performance of power and fascism. Everything we know about fascism. It is power that is concentrated in the hands of one nation, one race, and its brutality suppresses dissent. we see that now. He has chosen his road, whether he realizes it or not.


I don’t make predictions, but I can tell you what we are observing. A power grab always begins as a performance. A claim is made and then an autocrat sees if it is accepted - if the performance is believed. That is what we are asking right right now.

What Leadership Looks Like

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No police, national guards, helicopters, FBI, tear gas, rubber bullets, riot gear or military equipment. Just the US citizenry in a peaceful march down the street led by the POTUS.

I miss the good old days of 2015.

Trump Builds the Wall

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Donald ‘Bunker Boy’ Trump finally built the wall he has been dreaming about for years. Instead of building it along the southern border, he built it in Washington DC. Complete with concrete barriers and fencing. Paid for by your tax dollars - not Mexico

All he can do is run and hide like a little bitch

Tump on Tiananmen Square

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Donald ‘Bunker Boy’ Trump in a 1990 interview:

When the now-Republican presidential frontrunner was asked his impression of the Soviet Union, the then-43-year-old replied:

“I was very unimpressed… Russia is out of control and the leadership knows it. That’s my problem with Gorbachev. Not a firm enough hand.”

He was asked whether he meant a “firm hand as in China?”, to which Trump replied:

“When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak… as being spit on by the rest of the world.”

Trump has been a dictator wanna be since the 1990s. And he wasn’t smart enough to hide it. He definitely isn’t hiding it today. People weren’t paying attention in 2016, hopefully they are paying attention now.

James Mattis Denounces Trump

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From The Atlantic:

Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children. […]

We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution. At the same time, we must remember Lincoln’s “better angels,” and listen to them, as we work to unite.

General Mattis, by saying we can unite without the Commander In Chief, General Mattis is essentially giving the US military and its citizens a vote of no confidence of the US President.

Police Warrior Training

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The Minneapolis Police Department’s motto is “To Protect with Courage, To Serve with Compassion!”. However their training is the antithesis of that honorable goal. Melissa Segura for BuzzFeed:

More than a year before a Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, pinned George Floyd to the ground in a knee chokehold, Mayor Jacob Frey banned “warrior” training for the city’s police force.

Private trainers across the country host seminars, frequently at taxpayer expense, teaching “killology” and pushing the notion that if officers aren’t willing to “snuff out a life” then they should “consider another line of work.” Frey explained that this type of training — which has accompanied the increasing militarization of the police over the last few decades — undermined the community-based policing he wanted the city to adopt after a string of high-profile killings in the region.

But then the police union stepped in.

The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis worked out a deal with a company to offer warrior training. For free. For as long as Frey was mayor.

People Pushed to the Edge

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in an oped for the LA Times

Yes, protests often are used as an excuse for some to take advantage, just as when fans celebrating a hometown sports team championship burn cars and destroy storefronts. I don’t want to see stores looted or even buildings burn. But African Americans have been living in a burning building for many years, choking on the smoke as the flames burn closer and closer. Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air.

You Are Not Seeing Socialism

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The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed that American democracy and our economic system is extremely fragile. Ok, unless you’re wealthy, in which case you will do fine - you will most likely come out with even more wealth. Of course, that is part of the plan.

Paul Field’s Facebook post says it best

You are not seeing Socialism. What you are seeing is one of the wealthiest, geographically advantaged, productive capitalist societies in the world flounder and fail at its most basic test. Taking care of its people.

What you are seeing is a quarter century of technological brilliance being reduced to a narcissistic popularity contest. You’re seeing the folly of basing the health and welfare of an entire society on personal greed. You’re seeing all the necessary tools, for us to shrug off this crisis, go unused while people argue over who should get the credit and profit. Even worse, you’re seeing vital help withheld because recipients might not, “deserve it…”

You’re seeing a lot of things nobody thought they’d ever see, but you’re not seeing Socialism…

U.S. Deaths Near 100,000

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In the past five months - since March, more Americans have died from Covid-19 than in the decade-plus of the Vietnam War and the death toll is a third of the number of Americans who died in World War II.

Putting 100,000 dots or stick figures on a page “doesn’t really tell you very much about who these people were, the lives that they lived, what it means for us as a country,” Ms. Landon said. So, she came up with the idea of compiling obituaries and death notices of Covid-19 victims from newspapers large and small across the country, and culling vivid passages from them.

Alain Delaquérière, a researcher, combed through various sources online for obituaries and death notices with Covid-19 written as the cause of death. He compiled a list of nearly a thousand names from hundreds of newspapers. A team of editors from across the newsroom, in addition to three graduate student journalists, read them and gleaned phrases that depicted the uniqueness of each life lost:

“Alan Lund, 81, Washington, conductor with ‘the most amazing ear’ … ”

“Theresa Elloie, 63, New Orleans, renowned for her business making detailed pins and corsages … ”

“Florencio Almazo Morán, 65, New York City, one-man army … ”

“Coby Adolph, 44, Chicago, entrepreneur and adventurer … ”

The magnitude of loss is incomprehensible. The fallout of this will echo for decades, and touch each of us. When we get past this, the one thing we cannot do is forget all of these people. Each of these people was someone special, who in their own way, was contributing to make this nation great. And we owe to them to make this mean something. We owe it to them to rethink our supply systems, our health care system, and how we view each other.

Billie Joe Armstrong - Manic Monday

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“Manic Monday” performed by Billie Joe of Green Day with the help of Susanna Hoffs from The Bangles. By the way, this is yet another song written by Prince. Billie Joe is an absolute beast - he should make an album of him doing covers of the 80s. I can’t believe Susanna Hoffs is 61 – still rock'n as ever!

Math Magic

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Mathemagician Arthur Benjamin explores hidden properties of that weird and wonderful set of numbers, the Fibonacci series. Could you imagine if high school math classes were taught with the same excitement?

Dr. Seuss in the Pandemic

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Designer Jim Malloy has reimagined the books of Dr. Seuss for the coronavirus age and changing the author to “Dr. Fauci”. You can check out the results on Instagram and in this Instagram Story.