Covid-19 is still active and deadly

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Illustration courtesy of Lincoln Agnew

On August 26th, the CDC published updated statistics on Covid-19 and its associated morality rate. There was nothing abnormal about this — as the site itself reports, the numbers are updated regularly as new data become available. Any careful observer who has kept up with the reporting on Covid-19 over the past few months is no doubt aware of such changes.

Conservative pundits, to borrow a phrase from their hero Rush Limbaugh, saw the stitches on the fastball that the CDC tried to throw. According to right-wing blog website Townhall,

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website disclosed the shockingly small number of people who died from only the Wuhan coronavirus, with no other cause of death mentioned. Hold on to your hat because here it is: out of the 161,392 deaths in the CDC data, just six percent, about 9,700 deaths, were attributed to the coronavirus alone. According to the CDC, the other 94 percent had an average of 2.6 additional conditions or causes of deaths, such as heart disease, diabetes, and sepsis. …

How Trump’s attacks on the USPS endanger democracy

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A United States Postal Service (USPS) truck | Scott Olson / Getty Images

As the Summer before the November elections winds down, President Trump finds himself in familiar territory: behind. Very behind. The current RealClearPolitics polling average has Biden leading Trump by 6.9%. Biden also has an advantage in several important swing states, including Arizona, Michigan, Florida, and Pennsylvania — a combination which could ultimately decide the race.

It is tempting to dismiss polls as inaccurate or irrelevant, as many of Trump’s supporters do, pointing to the greatly exaggerated and poorly-aged predictions of Trump’s eminent defeat back in 2016. But things are different now. Trump is no longer the outsider looking to take on the Washington political establishment — he is the establishment, and the incumbent president owns an historic recession with over 30 million out of work, a raging pandemic that has killed over 160,000 Americans, and ongoing civil unrest. …

Welcome to the ticket, Madam Vice President

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Former Vice President Joe Biden and his running-mate, Senator Kamala Harris | Adam Schultz/Shutterstock

When it comes to vice presidential choices, everybody certainly has their opinions and, as the old saying goes, most of them stink. It seems that the criteria people use to assess their personal favorite are often arbitrary. Seldom are “This candidate should pick X as their running mate”-type pieces grounded in rigorous social scientific evidence, and few of their authors show consistency when evaluating potential choices. And far too often, individual foibles serve as a convenient way for people to dismiss a candidate entirely without analyzing them in a holistic way.

Nevertheless, I’ll end this elongated throat-clearing to state that I acknowledge the above and fully recognize that I too am, to some degree, partaking in this futile endeavor as Joe Biden, the presumptive democratic nominee, has officially announced that Senator Kamala Harris will join the ticket as his running mate. …

Misreporting during a pandemic can cost lives

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Tucker Carlson, one of America’s most watched cable news hosts | AP Photos

Tucker Carlson seems to have an almost Trumpian immunity to scandal. A little over a year ago, Media Matters unearthed horrifying audio of Tucker describing a woman as “c*nty,” Iraqis as “semiliterate primitive monkeys,” Afghanistan as a place that is “never going to be a civilized country because the people aren’t civilized,” and Obama as not Black because he has a white parent. He used homophobic slurs and white nationalist rhetoric, claiming that white men need more credit for “creating civilization and stuff.” …

His campaign is crumbling, but it’s not over yet

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Donald Trump in the Oval Office | Susan Walsh/AP

The Trump campaign is in crisis.

Now, to be clear, I am not in the business of going deep into the horse-race aspect of the election — and I’ve previously written strong critiques of those who are. And many of you may remember one now-infamous prediction I made several months ago, something I had not done before and which I will never intentionally do again.

But it is important to recognize what has happened to the allegedly invincible juggernaut that is the president’s reelection campaign. Trump’s approval rating sits at 39% right now, a slight margin above his all-time-low of 35% (which he hit four times in 2017). His mishandling of three major issues— Covid-19, Civil Rights protests, and intelligence suggesting that Russia placed bounties on U.S. …

John Bolton, patriotism, and cowardice

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John R. Bolton, the former national security advisor to President Trump, served in

“It sounds to me like you don’t know much about impeachment!”

I needed several seconds to fully process what had just been said to me. For one, it was simply untrue. I had been following the impeachment proceedings against President Trump more closely than most. I had watched almost all of the witness testimonies. I read the entire report from the House Intelligence Committee. …

Our Civil Rights are still under attack

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A pro-trans advocate holds the trans flag in response to counter-protestors at Atlanta’s Gay Pride Festival on October 12, 2019. | Image courtesy of Robin Rayne/AP

It seems to have been a while since J.K. Rowling spewed her ‘gender-critical’ Patronus on social media. But fear not. It is a law of nature that the authors of semi-political young adult novels must regularly voice their contrarian viewpoints online no matter how inappropriate a time it is. And so, amidst historic anti-racist protests, a worsening pandemic, and the president’s remarkable inability to handle either, Rowling tweeted this:

I must say, for someone whose life “has been shaped by being female,” Rowling has quite the proverbial ‘balls’ on her to think that now is the appropriate time to resume this discourse. June is pride month — and not just by custom, either: President Obama became the first US head of state to officially recognize it as such in 2016. To spew such venomous, transphobic nonsense in the middle of the monthlong commemoration of the 1978 Stonewall riots is more Slytherin than anything the Malfoys did in her books (and they killed people!). …

American fascism is here. We cannot deny it any longer.

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Police officers dealing with nonviolent protests | Scott Olson, Gettyimages

Many of us watch in disgust — in “shock and horror,” to use Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s words — at the brutality police are levying against people protesting those very acts.

Perhaps the most discussed example comes to us from New York, where two Buffalo police officers violently pushed a 75-year-old, unarmed demonstrator. A harrowing video of the event shows the two individuals and dozens of their colleagues, who had seemingly forgotten their sworn oath to protect and serve, walk by the man’s incapacitated body with not a modicum of regard for the blood pooling from his cracked head. Rest easy, though. …

Scapegoating China in the 2020 US Presidential Elections

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President Donald J. Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden | Image courtesy of USA TODAY Network

President Trump has shifted his campaign strategy in light of heavy, bipartisan criticism of his response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than make the election a referendum on his administration, he has decided to pin the blame for the crisis on China.

It’s a political strategy contingent on an angry electorate starved for revenge yet lacking answers from their national government. Unable to defend their record on policy, it seems, the White House has begun to attack their opponent for defending who they believe bears most of the responsibility for the spread of COVID-19.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, according to an April 9 ad from the Trump campaign, “stands up for China” while President Xi “cripples America.” Pro-Trump super PACs have propagated misinformation about the origins of the virus, suggesting without evidence that Chinese officials created it in a laboratory, and have flooded twitter with posts tagged #BeijingBiden. The aforementioned attack ad concludes by arguing, contrary to what Biden has said in the past, that it is not “in [The United States’] interest that China continue to prosper” but rather “Just Biden’s interest.”

On the limits of nonviolent protest

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Protestors in Minneapolis on May 26th, 2020 | Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

I approach this topic with caution. There are colleagues of mine who have written more about nonviolent protests than I will ever be able to read, who have approached the subject with an objective eye and a scholarly mindset, who have made significant contributions to the academic understanding of the politics of resistance.

I have no such goals here and I will not delude myself by proclaiming such expertise. Instead, I will write about what I, a white American, have observed in the past few days — and hope that it resonates with others.

Let us begin with a tweet from Tomi Lahren, who, for those fortunate enough not to be acquainted with her work, became famous after a mysteriously unhinged rant about Colin Kapernick’s protest against police brutality. Lahren called the NFL player a “whiny, indulgent, attention-seeking crybaby” for having the audacity to kneel during the national anthem. She proudly proclaimed that the First Amendment protects her right to “shred” him for daring to speak out, after which she berated Kapernick for three minutes in a red-faced barrage that would make Bill O’Reilly blush (a blotchy face, coincidentally, is actually something he is somewhat remembered for). …


Mark Weiss

Book lover, avid reader, and aspiring coffee addict. Confronting the world with evidence and empathy.

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