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Here’s how you and your family can stay safer

by Mike Zimmerman, AARP, November 9, 2020 | 

En Espanol We don’t need more proof of how dangerous the coronavirus is.

We know that more than 237,000 Americans had died of the disease as of early November, and 95 percent of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have occurred among people who were 50 or older. We know preexisting conditions such as obesity, heart disease, autoimmune diseases and type 2 diabetes make coronavirus infection even riskier. We know COVID-19 can cause blood clotting that can ravage your lungs and inflammation that can damage your heart and organs; a viral attack on your pancreas can even cause “COVID diabetes.” And infections can sometimes linger for months in so-called “long haulers.”


For the latest coronavirus news and advice go to AARP.org/coronavirus.


Yet we’ve isolated ourselves for more than eight months now, and the psychological toll of COVID is real. A study from early in the pandemic found “moderate” and “severe” depression symptoms had tripled.

Now the holidays are here, and we’re missing our friends and loved ones more than ever. Can we safely celebrate the holidays and the end of a long, lousy year?

“We’re not out of the woods with COVID-19,” says Michael G. Ison, M.D., infectious disease specialist at Northwestern Medicine in Illinois. “The virus is still there. It’s still dangerous.”

To help us cope with the coming holidays, we queried top experts about navigating the season safely and warmly.

1. A relative had COVID-19 several weeks ago. Can he or she still make me sick?

People who have had the virus generally stop spreading it 10 to 14 days after exhibiting symptoms. But the more we learn about the coronavirus, the more twists and turns we discover. For that reason, anyone who has contracted the virus, or thinks he’s been exposed to it, should be cleared by a doctor before seeing anyone, says Sten Vermund, M.D., dean of the Yale School of Public Health.

That said, “those people are largely safe,” Vermund asserts. “ ‘Totally safe’ would be a slight exaggeration, but the functional reality is that a recovered coronavirus patient poses a minimal risk to others.”

2. I tested positive for COVID earlier this year. Does that mean I’m immune now?

Unfortunately, we don’t yet know the answer to that. People who recover from the virus do have some level of acquired immunity, but it’s difficult to know how much or for how long. Research is conflicting: A study of 1,100 COVID patients in the New England Journal of Medicine found that patients had no decline in antibodies four months after diagnosis. But a separate study found antibodies peaking 60 days after diagnosis and declining thereafter. And, of course, there have been a handful of widely reported cases of people contracting the virus more than once.

“When we look at immune responses, we look at how much antibody is in the blood,” Ison says. “With most viruses, that level goes down slowly over time, particularly with older people.” But the coronavirus is a whole new beast. “We’ve only known about this virus for about nine months,” Ison says. “Even for the earliest patients, all we can say is that immunity may last for nine months. Whether it lasts any longer, we can’t know yet.”

The severity of one’s infection may determine subsequent antibody levels and how long they last. One study of COVID-19 patients in China who had zero symptoms found significantly lower antibody levels than in patients with symptoms. Common sense would point to asymptomatic people being more vulnerable to reinfection because of low or no antibodies. But we simply don’t know enough about what antibody level is required to protect people from COVID-19.

3. Is catching the coronavirus linked to how much time we spend together?

The amount of exposure you have to the virus — both in terms of how sick another person is and how much time you spend with him or her — does appear to determine your risk, says Thomas Fekete, M.D., professor of microbiology and immunology at Temple University. That’s why so many health care providers have gotten sick, especially at the start of the pandemic, when they had inadequate personal protective equipment.

While there are no established guidelines, Fekete suggests modeling how you handle indoor spaces on the policies in place at Temple’s medical school: More than 15 minutes of exposure to another person is “meaningful,” while fewer than 15 minutes of exposure is less worrisome. “We’re less concerned if someone rides an elevator with someone for 30 seconds than if he or she shares a small space with someone for an hour,” he says. “Our policy also mandates wearing a mask and eye protection. That said, there are no guarantees.”

And that’s what makes holiday gatherings so problematic. An infected person will throw off more virus when talking than when breathing — and more still when singing Christmas carols or shouting to be heard.

4. We’ve already had a bad outbreak in my town. Have we reached herd immunity?

As the pandemic has progressed, you may have heard about getting the U.S. population to a point where enough people have been exposed to the virus — either by infection or vaccine — that it’s no longer a threat. This “herd immunity” is a real thing — the U.S. all but eradicated measles because an effective vaccine created herd immunity. Just don’t expect this to happen soon with COVID-19.

“Herd immunity requires somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 to 70 percent of the population having immunity,” Ison says. “The epidemiology studies have gone on to tell us that even in the worst areas like New York, it’s in the 20 percent range, and in most areas in the 3 to 10 percent range.”

A COVID-19 vaccine could change that, but again, we’re nowhere near that point. “As we’ve seen with other viruses, if people don’t get the vaccine, we get outbreaks,” he says. “So herd immunity not only takes an effective vaccine, but a willingness to get that vaccine.”

5. If I do host a holiday gathering, are there any rules I should put in place for my family?

Here’s a good one: Nobody gets to come to dinner unless he or she has had a flu shot. The reasons go far beyond the usual in 2020. Flu and COVID-19 symptoms are similar, so if you become ill with the flu, it could necessitate a trip to the doctor or even the hospital, which puts you at additional risk. And yes, it’s possible to get both, either one after the other, or simultaneously, Vermund says. Just imagine getting COVID after your lungs have already been dealing with the flu.

Vermund puts it bluntly: “It is essential for people to get the influenza vaccine. And I mean everybody: children, pregnant women, young adults, middle age, older adults, seniors, everyone.”

6. My whole family is in excellent health. Does COVID-19 really pose a threat to us?

The fact is, researchers cannot predict how sick any one person will get if infected by the coronavirus. Recent research out of Stanford suggests that patients with more severe COVID-19 symptoms tend to have higher levels of certain inflammatory molecules in their blood. This could help experts predict severity in the years to come. But right now?

“None of us are clear [about] what’s going to happen,” Fekete says. Which means even if you’re a “healthy” person, getting COVID-19 is a risk to yourself and everyone else.

“In the best of all worlds, [precautions] would reduce the impact of coronavirus, but also other respiratory viruses. If that’s the outcome, I think people will be relatively OK over the winter months,” Fekete argues. “Having said that, I’m expecting to see significant outbreaks in certain populations, such as nursing homes and adult living facilities, and also in immunosuppressed people.”



“We’ve had some terrible ageism creeping into politics and medicine,” Vermund says. “There are people who have an attitude, like, ‘Why should I suffer just to protect the elderly?’ And that’s a very unfortunate turn in American society.”

What can you do? Watch out for you and yours, of course, but set a strong example for others you know who may not be as enthusiastic as you are to prevent virus spread.

7. Are our holiday traditions ruined?

After more than six months of distancing and isolation, the pressure to gather for Thanksgiving and other holidays will be massive. But this is just one year, and it would be tragic to get even one family member or friend (or yourself!) sick. Remember: An August wedding in Maine was linked to 178 COVID cases and eight deaths — and none of those who died even attended the event.

“Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, but this year it can’t be done safely in the usual sense,” Ison says. “We won’t just have COVID-19. We’ll have the flu and other respiratory viruses as well. So it has the potential to be a perfect storm, and we can’t let our guard down. We’ll have to get creative with the holidays, which will require more virtual visits.”

The good news: It’s temporary. “We’re not condemning people to a lifetime of this,” Vermund says. “I do have a great deal of optimism for 2021 because we’ve got more than 400 clinical trials of new antiviral drugs, new biologic agents like monoclonal antibodies, and different steroid strategies. We’ve got 10 vaccines now in phase 3 clinical trials, which is absolutely remarkable. And we can avoid circulating the virus. So I’m just trying to remind people that 2020 is not 2021. We probably can be closer to normal by the end of next year.”

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It is unfortunate that so many of us are single issue voters, this failing allows for the rise of poor performing legislators and leaders. The reduction of CIVICS instruction in schools is a possible factor but mass media is a greater mover of public opinion using “sound bites, dog whistles and tropes’ to explain or purvey ideas. Our job as voters is to gather information for ourselves and not leave it to other people or the media. MA

By Lauren Fox, CNN

Updated 8:15 PM ET, Tue July 21, 2020

(CNN)Despite severe shortages in coronavirus testing supplies and lags in results, the Trump administration is still sitting on billions of dollars in unused funding that Congress allocated months ago. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have questions about why the money has not been used as testing continues to fall well short of the national need.

“It’s probably a logistical problem as much as anything else, but yeah, it’s a concern,” said Republican. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas.

As negotiations have ramped up between the White House and Senate Republicans in recent days on whether to include more funding for testing in the next round of stimulus, the White House pushed against more money over the weekend, arguing that billions remain unspent. But lawmakers and aides — who estimate the remaining amount at about $7 billion to $8 billion — say they’ve been unable to get a clear answer to why that money hasn’t been touched in the first place.

In April, Congress passed legislation that included $25 billion in additional funds for testing and contact tracing. The money — which included $11 billion that went to states — was put into the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund at the Department of Health and Human Services. Months later, aides and lawmakers say they aren’t sure why so much still hasn’t been spent.

“They’ve never believed we should test,” Sen. Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, told CNN. “We’ve got to keep pushing.”

One Democratic aide familiar with discussions around the money said there was some speculation that it had been tied up at the Office of Management and Budget level, but there was no clear evidence whether the holdup had happened for any particular reason or was just a symptom of pushing billions out the door quickly.

Behind the scenes, lawmakers of both parties have asked the administration to explain why the money remains unused.FourDemocrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee sent a letter directly to President Donald Trump this week asking for answers.

“In April, Congress appropriated $25 billion through the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act specifically to expand testing capacity and conduct surveillance and contact tracing to ensure we were prepared for another spike in cases. Yet based on the latest information from the Department of Health and Human Services, three months later less than half of the money provided has been obligated by the federal government and gaps in testing capacity and contact tracing are pervasive,” said the Democrats’ letter, signed by Murray along with Sens. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Richard Durbin of Illinois and Jon Tester of Montana.

The letter also demanded that the administration explain why billions in funding to build up the Strategic National Stockpile hadn’t been used as reports show that states are once again struggling to find adequate personal protective equipment to weather the pandemic.

“Yet nearly four months later, the Administration has obligated only half of the funds Congress provided for the SNS (and only a portion of this was spent on PPE) and the Department of Defensehas informed us that it intendsto use nearly 70 percent of the DPA funding for shipbuilding, aircraft development, and other defense programs,” the letter reads, referring to the Defense Production Act.

Republicans have urged the administration in recent weeks to ramp up its response to the coronavirus as polls have shown the President lagging in key swing states and dragging rank-and-file Republicans up for reelection down with him.

“We have to up our game in testing. This is a worldwide problem,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who’s a close ally of Trump’s, told reporters Tuesday.

Republicans also strongly rebuked the administration’s argument that more funding wasn’t needed for testing and contact tracing in the next stimulus bill, saying that position not only put the country’s testing capabilities at risk, but also ignored the political realities of the situation.

“You would have to try hard to come up with a more tone-deaf position,” one GOP aide said over the weekend.

On Monday, members flat-out pushed back against the Trump administration’s position that more money for testing wasn’t needed.

“I just think that’s wrong,” said Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican.

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Prickly City Comic Strip for November 01, 2020
Doonesbury Comic Strip for November 01, 2020
Candorville Comic Strip for November 01, 2020
Candorville Comic Strip for November 01, 2020
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Opinion by  Max Boot Columnist

Oct. 26, 2020 at 8:54 a.m. CDT

For me, this election is intensely personal. I came to this country in 1976, with my mother and grandmother, as a 7-year-old immigrant from the Soviet Union. My family, like so many before and since, was fleeing poverty and oppression. Because the United States took us in and gave us dignity and prosperity, I have always loved this country. Americanism has been my religion, as it was for two of my heroes, Theodore Roosevelt and John McCain.

As I have grown older, I have developed a more nuanced understanding of the United States and its complex history — sometimes uplifting, sometimes shameful — noble and ignoble strands wound tightly together like a double helix. Historic wrongs have still not been righted — in particular, the poisonous legacy of slavery and segregation — but I thought we were moving in the right direction.

Then came 2016. I was devastated to see a dangerous demagogue rise to power by spewing hatred and promoting division. This was not the America I knew. This was the kind of thing that happened over there — in the old country — not on this “shining city upon a hill.” As our luster dimmed — as democratic norms shattered and body bags piled up — there were times when I lost hope in what Lincoln called “the last best hope of earth.”

How could President Trump be so awful and yet maintain the support of so many? This has been a terrible indictment, to me, of the country I love. But my faith in the United States, while battered, has not vanished. I continue to believe — to hope — to pray — that we are better than this. Aren’t we? We certainly should be better than this.

Americans have won nearly three times as many Nobel Prizes as the next-closest nation. We defeated diseases such as measles and polio, performed the first organ transplant and helped map the genome. We invented the airplane, harnessed the atom, landed on the moon and pioneered the personal computer and the Internet. How can we now turn our backs on science and reason and embrace a president who spouts nonsensical conspiracy theories?

Our Democracy in Peril: A series on the damage Trump has caused — and the danger he would pose in a second term

Racism is, of course, a defining feature of the American experience, but so is fighting for racial justice. America is the land of W.E.B. Du Bois, Rosa Parks, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis and other storied civil rights activists. Let their example inspire us today. How can we reward a president who employs bigotry for political advantage?

From Alexander Hamilton to Elon Musk, the United States was built by those born elsewhere. If the United States weren’t the land of immigrants, most of us wouldn’t be here — Trump included. How can we tolerate the president’s intolerable abuse of immigrants and even the separation of children from their families?

The United States was once notorious for the corruption of Boss Tweed, James Michael Curley and the Pendergast machine, but we have generally held the presidency to a higher standard. Not even Richard M. Nixon committed as many offenses as Trump — and he disclosed his taxes. Jimmy Carter placed his peanut farm in a blind trust, while Trump continues to promote his global business empire, complete with a secret bank account in China. How can we turn a blind eye to Trump’s blatant abuse of office for personal and political gain?

We have seen a peaceful transfer of power for more than two centuries — in peace and war, prosperity and depression. Generations of Americans have sacrificed for our freedom, from Valley Forge to Fallujah. They were not “suckers” and “losers.” They gave the “last full measure of devotion” so that “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Honor their legacy. How can we accept the president’s refusal to honor the outcome of the election and his thuggish demands that his opponents be locked up?

We are the land of the First Amendment and of fabled journalists and truth-tellers, from Thomas Paine to Woodward and Bernstein. How can we have a president who, borrowing a phrase from Joseph Stalin, calls the press “the enemy of the people”?

We have had presidents before who were dishonest and undignified, but nothing like this. Most presidents, following the example of George Washington, strove to elevate the office and inspire the nation. Remember when a big scandal was President Barack Obama wearing a tan suit? Those were the days. How can we overlook the president’s vile name-calling, vituperation and lies?

The United States has made common cause with illiberal regimes before (such as the Soviet Union during World War II), but no president has ever denigrated our fellow democracies and glorified dictators as Trump has done. From Woodrow Wilson vowing to make “the world safe for democracy” to Ronald Reagan demanding “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” U.S. presidents used to champion the cause of freedom. How can we reelect a president who kowtows to our enemies and treats our allies with contempt?

Please, my fellow Americans, I beg of you: Do not let the Trump presidency define the United States for future generations. Electing Trump once can be written off as an aberration; electing him twice will leave an indelible stain on our history. Trump will see reelection as an endorsement of his first-term misconduct and a license for even greater abuses to come. The United States will cease to inspire hope — as it did for a young boy who came here in 1976 — and instead instill pity and fear. We cannot, we must not, turn our backs on the “better angels of our nature” in favor of hatred and division, irrationality and resentment.

We are better than this. Aren’t we?

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As an aside: The current administration has no issue committing the same crimes on native Americans as the first Europeans did upon landing on the shores of “the new world”. This seizure of sacred lands for an unnecessary and expensive wall is a blatant attack against ALL Americans. This is the time for better angels of this country to oust the current administration for another that we hope will correct the course of this country. MA.

United States Border Patrol agents and Arizona law enforcement officials violently repressed a peaceful action held Monday morning by roughly 30 land and water protectors.

By Kenny Stancil -October 14,

Image Credit: PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty Images

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Twelve people, including at least eight Native Americans, were arrested near an immigration checkpoint in Southern Arizona on Indigenous Peoples’ Day after United States Border Patrol agents and Arizona law enforcement officials violently repressed a peaceful action held Monday morning by roughly 30 land and water protectors.

The O’odham Anti Border Collective—a group of Akimel O’odham, Tohono O’odham, and Hia Ced O’odham tribal members that seeks to promote the cultural practices and protect the homelands of all O’odham nations “through the dismantling of colonial borders”—organized an Indigenous prayer ceremony to voice opposition to the cultural and ecological destruction caused by the construction of President Donald Trump’s border wall. 

According to a statement released by the group, O’odham families “sang traditional songs, prayed, and attempted to discuss the Freedom of Religion Act that decriminalized Native American religions and opened the path towards the protection of sacred sites.”

After telling them to clear the roadway, Border Patrol agents, Arizona state troopers, and officers from the state’s Department of Public Safety attacked participants with tear gas and rubber bullets. 

A video of the incident recorded by a witness and posted online shows the police march towards the protesters and remove several individuals from vehicles to make arrests. Tear gas is visible, and the firing of rubber bullets can be heard. https://player.vimeo.com/video/467449845

The O’odham Anti Border Collective said the police shot at least one O’odham man in the chest with a rubber bullet, an example of what the group called the “violence [and] extensive abuses” that O’odham communities endure as a result of “border militarization.” 

The collective stated that those who were ripped out of vehicles and tear gassed included “children and people with vulnerable health” who were attempting observe the ceremony from the safety of their cars.  

According to the group, the police “grabbed children who had been in vehicles and abducted them from their parents—stealing children from Indigenous parents for practicing their religion is a clear violation of the Freedom of Religion Act and the Indian Child Welfare Act.” 

“It’s obscene and offensive to us that local and state governments move to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day while the federal government blows up our sacred sites, steals our kids, militarily occupies our communities, and shoots at Native Americans praying to protect our land and ancestors from desecration,” said one O’odham tribal member who was present at the ceremony Monday morning. 

The O’odham Anti Border Collective made the following demands:

  • Immediate release of all who were arrested Monday;
  • Immediate release of all minors abducted by the state Monday;
  • Information about and reparations for all who were injured Monday;
  • End the checkpoints and remove all Customs and Border Protection agencies from O’odham lands;
  • Immediate and indefinite discontinuation of border wall construction at Quitobaquito Springs and throughout O’odham territories; 
  • Immediate removal of the white supremacist border wall and restoration of the land;
  • Immediate demilitarization of O’odham lands;
  • Remove the Integrated Fixed Towers;
  • End racial profiling and harassment of Indigenous peoples;
  • End incarceration and deportation of O’odham people from O’odham homelands by border patrol;
  • End sexual and gender violence by border patrol;
  • End white supremacist attacks, incarceration, and deportation of refugees and migrants on Indigenous lands; and
  • Support Indigenous autonomy against colonial borders.

The group said Monday that they are still trying to obtain information about the condition of the man who was shot in the chest as well as others who were shot at. 

The Arizona Daily Star, a Tucson-based newspaper, reported that about 35 supporters gathered outside the Pima County Jail to demand the respectful treatment and release of those arrested during the protest earlier in the day. 

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I’m cured of the Covid. I’m totally immune. Who you gonna believe, me or some scientific test results? Regeneron is great. Every senior’s gonna get some and Mexico’s gonna pay for it!-Donald Trump

Trump’s evil has shifted into hyperdrive. Pushing an unproven drug he’s financially invested in to seniors. Calling for the unlawful arrest of Joe Biden. Expect a catastrophe soon (his doing) so he can declare martial law and cancel the election. Till then…see you Sat night

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Ted Cruz, Hellbound Class of 2020

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Lindsey Graham, Hellbound Class of 2020Image

Mitch McConnell, Hellbound Class of 2020

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TOTUS aptly named Senator Ted Cruz: “LYING TED” as shown in the article below. MA

By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR, Associated Press 2 days ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senators examining Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court heard a wildly inaccurate statement from one of their own Wednesday about how much health insurance premiums have risen since the inception of “Obamacare.”

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas scrambled the statistics on premium costs and took an errant swing at insurance company profits as he inveighed against the “catastrophic failure of Obamacare.”

Republicans are on defense over the Affordable Care Act — or Obamacare — because the Trump administration is asking the Supreme Court to overturn the 2010 law in its entirety. Obamacare provides coverage to more than 20 million people and protects those with preexisting medical conditions from being denied an individual policy, or charged more.

From the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Barrett’s nomination:

CRUZ: “Obamacare has doubled the profits of the big health insurance companies, doubled them. Obamacare has been great corporate welfare for giant health insurance companies at the same time, according to the Kaiser foundation, premiums — average families’ premiums — have risen more than — have risen $7,967 per year on average. That is catastrophic that millions of Americans can’t afford health care. It is a catastrophic failure of Obamacare.”

THE FACTS: No, family premiums for health insurance have not risen by $7,967 per year, as Cruz asserted. Nowhere close.

That figure comes from the Kaiser Family Foundation but it captures the increase over 11 years — 2009 to 2020 — not per year, as Cruz put it. In addition, the figure applies to the cost of premiums for employer-provided coverage, not for Obamacare or for health insurance overall. Employer coverage is in a totally different health insurance bucket from Obamacare.

Kaiser’s Larry Levitt says the cost of employer coverage wasn’t much affected by the ACA and “the increase in premiums is largely due to changes in underlying health care costs over this period.”

Obamacare premiums for a standard “silver” individual plan purchased by a hypothetical 40-year-old went up from an average of $273 a month nationally in 2014, to $462 this year.

Levitt said there’s not a clear equivalent for a family premium in the ACA marketplaces; what a family pays is the sum of each member’s individual premiums.

Cruz’s take on insurer profits also missed the mark.

Some major insurers lost money for a time selling Obamacare coverage, and several companies exited the health law’s markets. The ACA actually has a provision that in effect limits insurer profits, requiring consumer rebates if companies spent less than 80% of the money they collected from premiums on health care bills and quality improvement.

___

EDITOR’S NOTE — A look at the veracity of claims by political figures.

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Lincoln Project Refuses to Tone Down Trump Attacks, Says Romney’s Plea Is ‘Call to Surrender’

Jacob Jarvis  29 mins ago


Lincoln Project Refuses to Tone Down Trump Attacks, Says Romney’s Plea Is ‘Call to Surrender’

The Lincoln Project is not looking to moderate its attacks on President Donald Trump, despite calls for civility from figures such as former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: President Donald Trump waves as he arrives for a Make America Great Again campaign event at Des Moines International Airport in Des Moines, Iowa on October 14, 2020. He and rivals have been urged to "lower the heat" amid trading insults in the run up to Election Day.© Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images President Donald Trump waves as he arrives for a Make America Great Again campaign event at Des Moines International Airport in Des Moines, Iowa on October 14, 2020. He and rivals have been urged to “lower the heat” amid trading insults in the run up to Election Day.

Sen. Romney (R-UT) recently spoke of his concern over the state of politics and discourse surrounding the issue in the U.S., calling for people on all sides to “tone it down.”

“I respect Mitt Romney and his appeal to civility,” Fred Wellman, senior advisor for veterans affairs at The Lincoln Project, a group largely made up of Republicans but who do not wish to see Trump re-elected, told Newsweek.

“I look forward to a day when we can all do that.”

But despite this call, Wellman said he does not believe Trump will look to temper his comments, continuing: “However, we can’t have any illusions that Donald Trump will do so himself. In fact, he has ratcheted up his pushing of conspiracy theories, disreputable attacks on Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and encouraging efforts to undermine the election. Asking organizations to stop their attacks on Trump while he continues his abominable behavior is a call to surrender.”PauseCurrent Time 0:33/Duration 2:17Loaded: 36.48%Unmute0HQCaptionsFullscreenWhat Is The Lincoln Project, The Republican-led PAC Working To Take Down Trump?Click to expand

In regards to continuing actions, he said: “We must continue to show the nation who Donald Trump really is and the horrors he has inflicted on this country for the last four years. If civility in politics is what Mr. Romney and his colleagues want then they should help us rid the White House of Donald Trump not tell us to accept his disgusting behavior.

“The high road won’t work when your opponent is digging a massive hole right through the middle of the mountain underneath you.”

The Lincoln Project has frequently hit out at Trump in ads, and also criticizes him over social media. It is not the first time the group has insisted upon continuing their attacks despite questions over doing so, having rejected the idea of pulling attack adverts about the president when he was diagnosed with COVID-19. The president has previously reacted to ads from the group, branding those involved “losers” in retaliation.

With The Lincoln Project set to continue the critiques of Trump, Political Director of Republican Voters Against Trump Tim Miller also said his group was “proud to be fighting aggressively” against Trump.

Miller said he did not necessarily think Romney’s comments were a call to tone down attacks on Trump—so said his comments were not a critique against him.

But he said he felt the president is the main driver behind the negative political discourse in the U.S.

“The perpetrator of dehumanizing political rhetoric in our country is Donald Trump, that’s where our focus is and should be,” he told Newsweek. “His grotesque and divisive behavior has resulted in thousands of republicans and former republicans joining our cause and it’s one we are proud to be fighting aggressively.”

Romney, in his statement, said that the world was looking on at the U.S. with “abject horror.”

“I have stayed quiet with the approach of the election,” he said. “But I’m troubled by our politics, as it has moved away from spirited debate to a vile, vituperative, hate-filled morass that is unbecoming of any free nation—let alone the birthplace of modern democracy.”

While a focus has gone towards supporters and opponents of Trump, independent candidate and rapper Kanye West also recently tweeted that there was a “crying need for civility across the board,” while he sent a message of support to Trump and the first lady after their COVID-19 diagnoses.

Newsweek has contacted the Trump campaign and Romney for comment.

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“I chair the council for King County, Washington — an area larger than 14 states — and we have been voting exclusively by mail since 2009 with virtually zero problems.”

Claudia Balducci

Guest Writer 10/07/2020 01:00 pm ET Updated 6 days ago

In the upper left corner of the United States resides an inconvenient truth for President Donald Trump and his followers: A highly successful mail-in voting system.

Amid a pandemic that has made in-person interactions dangerous, Trump and his allies have attempted to sow fear and uncertainty around mail-in voting even as he attends in-person rallies and events that we now know may have exposed hundreds to COVID-19. But his dangerous tall tales of fraud and tossed ballots are readily dispelled against the backdrop of Washington state’s entirely by-mail voting system. 

Voting by mail is the safest, most secure way to get this election done and to restore trust in a bedrock of our democracy.

I know this because I chair the council for King County, Washington, which has run vote-by-mail elections for over a decade. We are the largest jurisdiction in the United States to conduct all elections by mail. Our nonpartisan regional government represents 2.2 million people who live in Seattle, Bellevue and dozens of other cities and surrounding communities. And we have been voting exclusively by mail here since 2009, and statewide in Washington since 2011.

This means that our elections — for president, Congress, governor, county and city councils, school boards, special districts — are all conducted fully by mail. And I can tell you without any doubt whatsoever that Trump, and those repeating his propaganda, are wrong about voting by mail. 

Voting by mail is simple. It works. It’s convenient and secure. It has bipartisan support. In fact, Washington state Republicans overwhelmingly support the system, including our Republican Secretary of State, who herself was elected by mail-in ballots, in our increasingly blue-trending state. Even after being inundated with months of the president’s outright lies, a new poll released last week by the respected western states research, public affairs and communications firm Strategies 360 found that a majority of conservatives in our state still support it. 

Our system has been reviewed and found to be very accurate. In the 2018 election, Washington state found just 142 cases of improper voting out of 3.1 million ballots cast, an error rate of 0.00004581.

A well-designed vote-by-mail system is at least as secure ― and far more inclusive ― than voting in person. In Washington, we take a multitude of steps to ensure that neither ballots, nor ballot drop boxes, are tampered with. Ballots are tracked and verified. Votes are not dumped or double-counted. Only ballots from confirmed registered voters are counted. Our system has been reviewed and found to be very accurate. In the 2018 election, Washington state found just 142 cases of improper voting out of 3.1 million ballots cast, an error rate of 0.00004581.

In King County, the effect of our robust vote-by-mail system means voter turnout in record numbers. We saw 82% voter turnout in the 2016 general election, and 76% in 2018. Compare that with the national turnout of 61.4% in 2016 and 53.4% in 2018, according to U.S. Census Bureau records. Indeed, an August study published in Science Advances found that mail-in voting increases voter participation, often significantly. We are so confident that our system is accessible to everyone that our county’s nonpartisan elections director has credibly set an audacious voter turnout goal of 90% in this year’s general election.

Voting by mail also reduces the opportunity for voter suppression through intimidation or other factors and it offers a physically distant way to vote as the COVID-19 pandemic wears on. Voters cast their ballot from the privacy of their home and then mail their ballots (no postage necessary in Washington state) or drop them in a ballot box without interacting with anyone. 

President Trump seems to fear this ease of voting. During the first presidential debate last week, he told his followers to go out to the polls and “watch very carefully,” a suggestion that could amount to illegal voter intimidation. Earlier this month, Trump supporters blocked voters from entering a polling place in Virginia. But with mail-in ballots, neither he nor his henchmen can stand in the way.

So, what can we do? First, make a plan for how and when you’ll vote. Check your registration, be sure your ballot will be mailed to your current address or update it if you need to. If you are traveling away from home, request a ballot be sent to you if your state or county allows it. Talk to your friends and family about voting and how you can be sure your voice is heard. Vote early if you can. Once you cast your vote, track your ballot. You can track your ballot in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

This pandemic-year election will chart the course for the future of our country. Voters must be given every opportunity to take part in it. Vote-by-mail is the best way to give all voters every opportunity to take part in it. We must ignore the fearmongering and attempts to suppress our vote and instead embrace this safe and easy method that allows everyone to have a say in our selecting our government leaders.

Claudia Balducci serves as Chair of the Metropolitan King County Council, the governing body for King County. With Seattle as the seat, King County is home to Amazon, Zillow, Starbucks and Microsoft, among others, and is one of the largest jurisdictions in the nation, as well as one of the fastest-growing. Follow her on Twitter at @KccClaudia.

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Correction: An earlier version of this essay included an error regarding the error rate of voting in King County, Washington. This has been corrected.

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