All posts by Ron Olsen

Another Troubling Detail Following The Assault On The Capitol

Following the assault on the U.S. Capitol, the New York Times is reporting that “some members of the mob carried weapons and zip-tie handcuffs.” In addition to the relative ease with which the protesters were able to take over the building, their apparent intention to subdue individuals or to take hostages, raises a whole new set of questions.

Photos would appear to indicate this was more than a mob of the usual suspects. It appears there may have been professionals mixed in with the misguided Trumpists wearing horns and hardhats – some carrying fistfulls of zip-ties.

It has been suggested that the incident merits a full investigation by a 9-11 type commission. Considering how close the insurrectionists came to taking things further than then did, that might be a very good idea.

Covid-19 Cure Ignored?

There’s a question about Covid-19 that’s been haunting me for months. A cure, is a cure. A vaccine, is a preventative, which does nothing for those already inflicted with a disease. A cure, however, will cure those already afflicted. Pretty simple, isn’t it?

As of this writing, more than 16-million Americans are ill with Covid. That’s the number who have been tested. The real number is thought to be much higher. They need an effective treatment, a cure, and not a vaccine.

On 12/15/20, the San Jose Mercury News reported that “Covid-19 now kills more than one American every minute.” They needed a cure.

It appears we have a cure but that it was largely ignored in favor of a vaccine, which may or may not work all that well. In fairness, it could work really well, but we won’t know for a matter of months, as there are no long-term studies, just “warp-speed” results. In addition, we can’t be sure how many of us won’t be able to take it because of adverse reactions to the vaccine itself because there have been no long-term trials.

First, what may be a cure for Covid-19. It’s the Regneron Pharmaceuticals antibody “cocktail” that’s been given to Rudy Giuliani. One source calls it “REGN-COV2” a combination of monoclonal antibodies made in a lab. The same “cocktail” that had President Trump back on his feet and ready to go just a few days after being rushed to the hospital via helicopter. He must have been pretty bad for his doctors to call in the chopper rather than risk a 30 minute drive over to Walter Reed, right? And he was up and around a day later? If I get sick, I want what he got. Chances are though, I won’t be able to get it, and neither will you. We aren’t important enough, and there aren’t enough doses available. By one guestimate, there are only about thirty-thousand doses out there even though it appears to be a cure for Covid-19.

Rather than concentrating on the Regeneron “treatment” to cure those already ill, rather than pursuing something that appeared to work really well against Covid, our medical establishment focused instead on a vaccine, which, at the time, did not even exist.

When questioned about why this came to be, during an appearance on “The View,” Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, said, “This is an area for a lot of frustration for a lot of us.”

I was stunned at what I was hearing. I’m no doctor, I don’t even know how to give somebody a shot, and yet here was this public health big shot on a national stage agreeing with me. When you’ve got a sure thing, it’s probably a good idea to go after it. We did not. The conspiracy-minded among us might wonder if the government and big pharma hadn’t sunk so much money and publicity into the search for a vaccine that other options were ignored? Big media was also very much on board, with outright promises that a miracle cure was on the way. They were wrong, it was a preventative and not a cure. The potential cure, was being overlooked.

“We should have made millions of doses and we didn’t,” the doctor said. “Now we’re at a point where we just have tens of thousands of doses – for the rest of us, that just isn’t an option,” he added.

In other words, the big guys, like Trump and Giuliani will be treated with it, possibly saving their lives, but there won’t be enough for the rest of us.

Isn’t there still time for the country to go to work on the Regneron Pharmaceuticals cocktail along with the vaccines? If we know it works, and since so much about the vaccines remains unknown, then why isn’t it happening? If I get Covid, I want the same treatment Donald got. I won’t even demand a helicopter. (And thank you Whoopi, for asking the question.)

Just A Political Hiccup

A Facebook friend in France posted a photo that really hit me. It’s a picture of a small group of U.S. ex-pats gathered around an American flag. The thirty or so people didn’t all know one-another, but they were all there for the same purpose. To honor another American, a veteran of WW II. They were all smiling and appeared happy to be there, regardless of their individual political persuasions.

It struck me that the photo is a portrait of the way we used to be, almost Rockwellian in nature, and I wondered if we might ever get back there again? Together in our support of the country, happy and smiling regardless of one political party or another? It led me to wonder if we have been so torn asunder by misinformation, disinformation, greed and anger that we’ll never be able to find our way back home?

I thought about those old sci-fi movies, where the Earth comes under attack by men from Mars, with all us earthlings forced to cast off our differences , coming together for the common purpose of survival of our species. “Is that what it’s going to take?” At that same moment it hit me that we’re already there, with the ongoing threat of Covid-19. However, instead of uniting us in a common goal, Covid has has been turned into a political weapon to separate us even more.

I dunno, this might be the big one, the one we can’t dig ourselves out from under – not when we can’t agree on whether facts are facts or Covid-19 is for real, even while it claims some three-thousand American lives a day. It’s a KGB dream scenario, a national implosion, as a constant stream of disinformation turns reality on its head, causing Americans to distrust one-another to the point that they’re ready to ignore a pandemic and sell out the country to a tyrant who never delivered on a promise to release his taxes while snuggling up to Vladimir Putin at every turn.

Really? Could it get any worse? Well, it does.

With more than one-hundred Republican members of congress signing onto a motion to set the election aside and effectively kill our democracy in favor of a autocrat, you have to wonder. Sure, the Supremes said “no” to the proposal to discard democracy by throwing out our free and fair national election, but millions of Americans, 38% of all Republicans according to one recent poll, continue to believe the election was rigged. Crooked. That the fix was in. And it was, except that they’ve got it backwards. It was Trump and not the Dems who tried to shut down the Post Office, to hamper mail-in voting. The Republicans, in fact, were fairly tripping over themselves in an effort to keep people away from the polls, particularly in areas populated by people of color. Imagine that.

And so I have to wonder, when I see a photo of smiling Americans, united in purpose, regardless of political persuasion. I wonder if we’ll ever get there again? Of if we were ever really all that united to begin with, replacing reconstruction with Jim Crow, leaving the open wound of the Civil War just sitting there to fester. For decades. Until now. The present. With an entire party working to throw out an election because they, the Republicans, the party of white America, the party that weaponized a pandemic for political purposes, lost.

And we still can’t admit that it was mostly about race? How do we get past that?

Millions of Americans who have been duped into believing the election was rigged aren’t going away. The forces that led them to believe that up was down, fact was fiction and fiction was fact, will still be with us. As will unlimited amounts of dark money flowing into our political process thanks to the Supreme Court’s unimaginably bad decision in the infamous “Citizens United” case.

2024 is coming and we are still in trouble. More trouble perhaps, than many of us can, or are willing to recognize. An honest analysis of the past, admitting that it was our forebearers constant striving to live up to the ideals of the founders that made us great, is just too difficult to face.

For those who would destroy our democracy, those who seek to eliminate our self-determination, the election of 2020 was just a temporary setback. Nothing but a political hiccup. History continues to demand eternal vigilance.

Is “President Harris” Even Possible?

After four years of Trump, it’s okay to be a little giddy about the Biden/Harris win. That said, I worry that Kamala Harris, beloved by some on the progressive side of the party, might sink the Democrats in 2024 if the Republicans come up with a moderate like Mitt Romney to run against her.

Joyous as I was to see Joe Biden’s win, marking a return to sanity for our Federal Government, I was equally alarmed that the Dems chose Harris as his running mate. I fear she may be a little too happy, a little too far to the left for a great many moderate and right-of-center Americans. If a woman was mandatory for the ticket, then Susan Rice would have been a better choice. She projects an inner-strength that Harris simply does not have, and she does it on camera, which is all-important. Would Reagan have been elected were it not for his on-camera persona?

So, I’m happy Biden was elected, but feel the Dems blew it with regard to his running mate, who, it is clear, is already being groomed to take over in four years, if she can get elected. I doubt that she can. The possibility of another four years of Trump, makes me shudder.

The Dems need to stop making decisions based upon what would be “just wonderful!” and need to get closer to baseline reality regarding who will be electable in a politically volatile country.

Thanksgiving

I had just turned on the tv and settled into my favorite chair with a cup of coffee to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade when an ear-shattering alarm blasted out of my smartphone. As freaky clowns on roller skates paraded by I read the message, “Public Safety Alert – In PA Covid-19 rates are rising and hospitals could soon be at capacity. Stay home if possible.”

Feels like the Vietnam War all over again, except with a higher fatality rate. Good luck, everybody.

Almost Back

The farther away from Trump we get, the better I feel.

It started yesterday, when the man who would be dictator finally gave the GSA permission to begin the official transition to the Biden Administration, providing an office and financing from the federal government to get it done. I don’t know why Trump finally caved, maybe because of all the Republicans admitting that our Constitutional Republic is worth saving and pressuring him to do so. Maybe the ghost of Washington, paid him a midnight visit. All I know is that for the first time in nearly four years I was able to take a deep breath.

Today, things improved even more, as my wife and I watched Joe Biden introduce his first cabinet picks to the country. The contrast between what we’ve been putting up with for the past four years and the people Biden is bringing in is almost beyond belief, a comparison between a political clown car threatening chaos on a daily basis on one side and a group of qualified professionals who promise intelligence and stability on the other.

I must admit to being moved by what I saw. Watching adults re-enter the room after such a lengthy absence was a somewhat emotional experience. It got to my wife as well. I noticed her wiping away a tear or two. Later, it was gratifying to know that a hard-bitten journalist friend, a former network correspondent, had the same reaction.

I decided to fly our flag, something I do only on special days. Today felt special. It felt like we were really and truly getting our country back.

It felt somehow appropriate that all of this would be followed by Donald Trump pardoning a turkey. The universe finally handing him something he was qualified to do.

Happy Thanksgiving. Wear a mask. It’s been one helluva ride, but we’re almost there. We’ve almost gotten our country back.

Another New Outrage

With each day comes another new outrage. Most recently it’s news that Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, is ending several emergency loan programs designed to help small business during the Covid epidemic. At almost the same time, Donald Trump emerged from the White House to proclaim the pharmaceutical industry spent millions to defeat him in the last election and that he is now researching ways to cut into that same industry’s profits.

At least I think that’s what he said. If not, just wait a while and he will. There’s a new word-salad about to tumble out of his mouth at any moment.

It would seem bizarre for Trump to wait until the very end of his Administration to go after big pharma, a move that will benefit millions of Americans, except that this is Donald Trump, a man who has been continually heralded for his mental instability and childlike need for revenge against those he perceives as enemies. Meaning, anybody who does anything other than lick his boots and send him money.

Mnuchin, denies the cuts he has ordered are another attempt to leave the country in the worst shape possible prior to the handover to the Democrats in January. So why do it at all, considering the state of the economy and the worsening pandemic? Could it be for the same reason the country has no uniform plan to fight the pandemic while weary healthcare workers say they feel abandoned and unsupported? Of course it is. It’s because Donald Trump continues to occupy the Oval Office, a continuing travesty promoted by the Republican Party.

It is nothing short of a modern miracle of digital subterfuge that there are still people who support this man in a country held hostage by Twitter. Unfiltered information provided free of charge to a dumbed-down cult of Trump, eagerly awaiting their next emotional fix.

If Donald Trump leaves us with nothing else, it will be our first presidency by Twitter and tweet. A certain sign that our very own technology has outstripped our ability to deal with what we’ve created, leaving unreason and chaos to take the day.

Without Shame

Just learned that yesterday’s Giuliani “news” conference, with hair dye (?) streaming down both sides of his face, was held at RNC headquarters in DC. Unbelievable and disgusting.

While so much of what DJT does is beyond belief, you have to wonder what his next move will be after a sufficient number of electors fail to throw the election for him? Years ago I read somewhere that the Electoral College was developed to keep the country out of the hands of a demagogue. You can be sure the founders never imagined it might be used to keep a demagogue in power. That said, who do you suppose is coming up with this stuff, as DJT clearly is not bright enough to have developed this strategy to bring down American democracy on his own.

What else do you suppose they have in mind between now and January 20th and who will defend us against it, with Republican Party leaders who failed to convict in the Senate, cowering in the shadows like whimpering idiots held hostage by DJT, threatening to bring them all down with a few keystrokes on social media?

History will clearly record the culpability of Republicans in congress for enabling a madman, keeping him in power while the threat to the Republic steadily increased, but how many will actually believe it? How many will be able to sort out the truth from bald-faced lies as we move forward into a new age of digital deceit, with growing numbers of Americans accepting any and all conspiracy nonsense thrown before them by a wave of new-age media, some of it social and without adequate constraint on the Internet and others on the far-right, masquerading as mainstream, but without shame or a sense of decency, feeling no consequence for the outcome of their actions, even if that means bringing the world’s greatest democracy to its knees.

We Need More Sam

SAM IS BACK? How refreshing to see a guest appearance by Sam Donaldson on the Chris Cuomo show on CNN last night. It was equally refreshing to hear Cuomo invite him to return on a regular basis as a guest commentator. If he accepts, his appearances will serve as learning moments for young journalists and others, interested in how news is supposed to be done. Would love to see Sam one-on-one with Donald for just five minutes. They’d have to strap Donald to a chair to prevent him from leaving the room, but I’d love to see it.

One of my favorite Sam moments is from the 80’s, when I was working for KABC in Los Angeles. I had just finished an interview with some congressman (can’t remember who) on the tarmac at LAX. As he was leaving he turned and said, “…and you tell Sam Donaldson, that he’s a son of a bitch!” It was a moment for me, and that’s how much politicians feared and hated Sam Donaldson. The comment was a badge of honor. Sam, is one of the greats.

(For you purity test snowflakes out there, I am speaking figuratively about the chair-strapping. I do not approve of holding anyone against their will for an interview.)

The Dems Need To Dial It Down

Last night’s ” Bill Maher show was well worth watching, particularly the last ten minutes with his analysis of how badly the Democratic Party stands to get stomped in 22 and 24 if they don’t reign in their special interest purity test promoting extremists. In short, their wild-eyed push for “inclusion” stands to blow them right out of the electoral water. How many people even know what the hell that actually means, as though it has any standard meaning at all? People fear what they cannot understand.

I’m progressive. I’ve been in a”woke” mode since the 60’s. I was actually there, unlike so many younger people who now want to preach to me and others of my generation regarding what they think we should believe based upon what they naively think we do not know.

The 60’s were a bitch. Only those who were there can fully understand the scope of what went down . The threat to the Republic is now even greater. Somehow the Democratic leadership has got to get AOC and a few others to stand down and chill out, turning off their PC “purity test” meters to a degree that the party becomes more attractive to a broader base by appealing to, as Bill Maher put it, “common sense.” The alternative is to continue the infighting over PC/special interest issues and risk losing the country to Fascism.

How Could The Polls Be This Wrong?

We all deserve an explanation as to how so many reputable pollsters got this election so wrong. The same thing happened with Hillary, although not by such a wide margin. Is this a case of galloping incompetence (again), or is something more nefarious afoot? Seems to me the pollsters weren’t this far off the mark prior to 2016? They were occasionally off by one or two points but by nine or ten?

Dear Networks: Please Tell It Like It Is

Some solid political pros, including James Carville, are predicting a sizable victory for Joe Biden. Another poll-watcher predicts it will be an early call for the Dems.

If that’s the case, if Biden blows Trump away early on, how will the networks handle it? Will they have the nerve to do their jobs and “tell it like it is,” or will they play a pc game, cowering in a corner and making it sound as though whatever nonsense Trump spouts has actual value, trying so hard to appear fair to those on the right by giving credit to Trump’s obvious lies that they end up being unfair to the truth and shortchanging the Biden camp?

Nothing much at stake here, just the future of the country. Remember when the Ben Bradlee character said that in the movie “All The President’s Men?” It was true in the 60’s, and it’s true now. Tell it like it is, not the way Trump wants it to be. Deceit, is the enemy. It always has been. More than ever, we need the strength of some real Journalism to pull us out of this.

How The Cow Ate The Cabbage

What to do? Turn on the tv and deal with the inevitable rise in blood pressure or leave it alone and risk being ignorant of the next terrible pronouncement/development from the fascist lunatic in the White House? It’s a daily challenge here in 3rd world America. It wouldn’t be, except that about one-third of the electorate apparently thinks the way things are is the way they should remain.

How did we get here? How, if the Democrats take the Oval and the Senate, can we prevent this from ever happening again?

In my mind everything, well, almost everything, dates back to the end of the Civil War. It remains a giant scab on the nation’s body politic that never fully healed. Not since our two biggest political parties got together in a disputed election in 1876 and cut a deal to shut down reconstruction in the south.

Those who would “Make America White Again,” are living in a world that no longer exists. A world most of us would never return to. This is no longer a battle between liberals and conservatives. It’s a fight between decency and something else. Each day brings a new reminder of how much better than this most of us truly are.

A solution remains a work in progress.

Perhaps it’s time to stop denying how things really are, or as that late great Texan, Ann Richards put it, “Friends, it’s time to talk about how the cow ate the cabbage.”

Trump vs. Biden – 1876 All Over Again?

CBS Sunday Morning, ran a wonderful piece today about the presidential election of 1876. Rutherford B. Hayes of Ohio, was the winner even though a guy you’ve probably never heard of from New York, Samuel Tildon, won by a huge margin of the popular vote. Tildon, won the popular vote by 250,000 ballots but lost the electoral college after three southern states threw their electors at Rutherford B. Hayes.

The thing to keep in mind here, is that Hayes was a Republican, and at that time, the Republican Party was still the actual (real) party of Lincoln, the man who just a few years before had signed the Emancipation Proclamation and got the Civil War fired up. Tildon, was a Democrat, who opposed the party of Lincoln.

For years to come the south would be known as the “Solid South,” in that it would be solidly democratic, opposed to the party of lincoln which freed the slaves and set the south on a path to reconstruction. The “Solid South” remained that way for decades, all the way up to Lyndon Johnson signing the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts in the 1960’s. At that time, millions of white southerners, still stinging from losing the Civil War, left the Democratic Party and became Republicans, something Republican candidates would use in years to come, employing race-baiting to drive whites to the ballot box, while using voter-suppression to keep Black people away. You might know it as “The Southern Strategy.”

So what does this have to do with Rutherford B. Hayes and the election of 1876? A great deal, perhaps.

Tildon’s supporters demanded that the election be given to him, because he had won the popular vote by a wide margin. Hayes and the Republicans said that would never do, because they had won the electoral college, so by law, Hayes had won the election, regardless of the popular vote.

There was considerable consternation, even talk of another civil war to settle the matter. Instead, a small group of powerful political movers and shakers got together in a smoke-filled room and came up with “The Compromise of 1877.”

The deal they made was that Rutherford B. Hayes, the Republican, would be given the election. In return, Tilden’s supporters were promised an end to reconstruction in the south, calling out federal troops and stripping away the protections reconstruction afforded Black people, who, not long before, had been enslaved.

Got that? The “Solid South” got approval for the overtly racist policies of Jim Crow while the party of Lincoln, got the White House. And here we are today, with the Solid South having flipped from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party after JFK and Lyndon Johnson came along and tried to restore some of what the death of reconstruction had taken away.

Voter suppression, race-baiting, one side threatening to refuse the outcome of the election unless their side wins, with a system that is still no less confused in some respects than it was in 1876.

We have been here before. Thanks to CBS Sunday Morning, for casting some light on the subject and bringing up the point that the country was founded by a clubby group of wealthy landowners. It’s not much of a leap to understand that the electoral college was established to protect their best interests. Just imagine what might happen if the ignorant, unwashed masses should be bamboozled into electing someone who was running just to gin up publicity for himself and make as much money as possible? Someone who cared nothing for the people or the general welfare of the country? Someone without the intellect to understand the Constitution, provided he would ever take the time to actually read it?

That’s where the electoral college would enter the picture, overriding the misguided popular vote, throwing the bum out and saving the country from treachery and possible ruin. Which is exactly what it failed to do in 2016 after nearly opening the door on a second civil war in 1876.

Wouldn’t we be better off without it?

Many years ago someone told me that “This is a democracy. What most of the people want, is the way it’s going to be.”

Really? Not with the Electoral College in play.

Feels Like Los Angeles

Dog bites man, man bites dog, dog starts fire?

Hot off the wire…. Our local Patch reports that a dog inadvertently turned on the stove in a house here in Bel Air, starting a kitchen fire at 4:40AM. Lots of smoke, but all the occupants got out uninjured. Damages are estimated at $50,000. Fire officials say the house had a smoke detector but that it failed to go off.

Not to be outdone, some guy opened all four doors and the trunk of his car, turned on the wipers and started dancing with himself on the I-95 here in Harford County. It’s reported he slammed his fist down onto the hood of another vehicle. The man was taken to a local hospital for observation. Could be pre-election stress? Feels like one of those “Only in Los Angeles” stories. Except that it’s here.