Minor Thoughts from me to you

“What Do I Do When Someone Asks Me For Money?”

Kevin Nye answers “What Do I Do When Someone Asks Me For Money?”. You should read the whole thing. His discussion on setting boundaries and on interacting with the homeless—rather than making them feel invisible—is spot on.

I found Kevin’s perspective interesting, because in homeless services. He knows the clients, the issues, and the daily struggles. As such, I wanted to quote from this section, dealing with our assumptions and our fear that “they’ll just spend it all on drugs”.

The assumption that a person experiencing homelessness will spend your generous donation on drugs or alcohol is pervasive in a way that absolutely does not align with data. The numbers of people struggling with substance use and addiction is lower than the general assumption, though it is still a major part of the conversation.

More to the point, addiction is such that it drives a person to pursue the substance they crave through any and every obstacle. While I’ve seen many people through recovery, and many who are far from it, I’ve never once heard of someone who kicked their addiction because they ran out of money. Even though this narrative affects so much giving behavior, I’ve not once heard someone say, “Yeah, I was about to give up and stop using heroin forever, but then that nice lady gave me $20 and I was able to score.”

Frankly, even if they are planning to spend your money for that, you might be preventing far riskier behavior in order to meet that perceived need. That feels “icky” to many of us, perhaps like we are enabling bad behavior. While this conversation exceeds the limitations of this piece, it is worth pointing out that the gift of money to a person has little to no effect on their ability to manage addiction. Only larger interventions like treatment, healthcare, and housing can interrupt something of that magnitude.

Sometimes, we wonder if giving cash is even helpful to the problem of homelessness. And to be fair, I’ve never seen someone lift themselves out of homelessness based on the money made from solicitation, (except when someone was trying to get a bus ticket or gas money back to a place they have refuge.) However, I have seen that money buy someone a clean pair of socks. I’ve seen it allow someone the dignity of a meal at their favorite restaurant after a hungry day. I’ve seen it buy someone a weekend in a hotel to get out of the rain, or just to take a brief respite before returning to the streets. These are not nothing. Your gift may not lift someone out of their desperate situation, but it might provide an immeasurable amount of solace and even joy in the midst of their despair.

Above all else, homelessness dehumanizes. It isolates, it discards, and it amplifies the fear we all have that maybe things aren’t going to work out for us. In your daily interactions with people experiencing homelessness, their homelessness is not truly at stake. Their humanity, though, is – whether you end up giving them money or not.

This entry was tagged. Charity Christian Living Drugs Homelessness Poverty

Trump’s Pre-Facism and The Big Lie

Donald Trump and his supporters need you to believe that he is the sole source of truth and that everyone else is untrustworthy, lying, and part of a plot against you.

The American Abyss

Timothy Snyder writing for the New York Times.

Post-truth is pre-fascism, and Trump has been our post-truth president. When we give up on truth, we concede power to those with the wealth and charisma to create spectacle in its place. Without agreement about some basic facts, citizens cannot form the civil society that would allow them to defend themselves. If we lose the institutions that produce facts that are pertinent to us, then we tend to wallow in attractive abstractions and fictions. Truth defends itself particularly poorly when there is not very much of it around, and the era of Trump — like the era of Vladimir Putin in Russia — is one of the decline of local news. Social media is no substitute: It supercharges the mental habits by which we seek emotional stimulation and comfort, which means losing the distinction between what feels true and what actually is true.

Post-truth wears away the rule of law and invites a regime of myth. These last four years, scholars have discussed the legitimacy and value of invoking fascism in reference to Trumpian propaganda. One comfortable position has been to label any such effort as a direct comparison and then to treat such comparisons as taboo. More productively, the philosopher Jason Stanley has treated fascism as a phenomenon, as a series of patterns that can be observed not only in interwar Europe but beyond it.

My own view is that greater knowledge of the past, fascist or otherwise, allows us to notice and conceptualize elements of the present that we might otherwise disregard and to think more broadly about future possibilities. It was clear to me in October that Trump’s behavior presaged a coup, and I said so in print; this is not because the present repeats the past, but because the past enlightens the present.

Like historical fascist leaders, Trump has presented himself as the single source of truth. His use of the term “fake news” echoed the Nazi smear Lügenpresse (“lying press”); like the Nazis, he referred to reporters as “enemies of the people.” Like Adolf Hitler, he came to power at a moment when the conventional press had taken a beating; the financial crisis of 2008 did to American newspapers what the Great Depression did to German ones. The Nazis thought that they could use radio to replace the old pluralism of the newspaper; Trump tried to do the same with Twitter.

Thanks to technological capacity and personal talent, Donald Trump lied at a pace perhaps unmatched by any other leader in history. For the most part these were small lies, and their main effect was cumulative. To believe in all of them was to accept the authority of a single man, because to believe in all of them was to disbelieve everything else. Once such personal authority was established, the president could treat everyone else as the liars; he even had the power to turn someone from a trusted adviser into a dishonest scoundrel with a single tweet. Yet so long as he was unable to enforce some truly big lie, some fantasy that created an alternative reality where people could live and die, his pre-fascism fell short of the thing itself.

Some of his lies were, admittedly, medium-size: that he was a successful businessman; that Russia did not support him in 2016; that Barack Obama was born in Kenya. Such medium-size lies were the standard fare of aspiring authoritarians in the 21st century. In Poland the right-wing party built a martyrdom cult around assigning blame to political rivals for an airplane crash that killed the nation’s president. Hungary’s Viktor Orban blames a vanishingly small number of Muslim refugees for his country’s problems. But such claims were not quite big lies; they stretched but did not rend what Hannah Arendt called “the fabric of factuality.”

One historical big lie discussed by Arendt is Joseph Stalin’s explanation of starvation in Soviet Ukraine in 1932-33. The state had collectivized agriculture, then applied a series of punitive measures to Ukraine that ensured millions would die. Yet the official line was that the starving were provocateurs, agents of Western powers who hated socialism so much they were killing themselves. A still grander fiction, in Arendt’s account, is Hitlerian anti-Semitism: the claims that Jews ran the world, Jews were responsible for ideas that poisoned German minds, Jews stabbed Germany in the back during the First World War. Intriguingly, Arendt thought big lies work only in lonely minds; their coherence substitutes for experience and companionship.

In November 2020, reaching millions of lonely minds through social media, Trump told a lie that was dangerously ambitious: that he had won an election that in fact he had lost. This lie was big in every pertinent respect: not as big as “Jews run the world,” but big enough. The significance of the matter at hand was great: the right to rule the most powerful country in the world and the efficacy and trustworthiness of its succession procedures. The level of mendacity was profound. The claim was not only wrong, but it was also made in bad faith, amid unreliable sources. It challenged not just evidence but logic: Just how could (and why would) an election have been rigged against a Republican president but not against Republican senators and representatives? Trump had to speak, absurdly, of a “Rigged (for President) Election.”

The force of a big lie resides in its demand that many other things must be believed or disbelieved. To make sense of a world in which the 2020 presidential election was stolen requires distrust not only of reporters and of experts but also of local, state and federal government institutions, from poll workers to elected officials, Homeland Security and all the way to the Supreme Court. It brings with it, of necessity, a conspiracy theory: Imagine all the people who must have been in on such a plot and all the people who would have had to work on the cover-up.

Trump’s electoral fiction floats free of verifiable reality. It is defended not so much by facts as by claims that someone else has made some claims. The sensibility is that something must be wrong because I feel it to be wrong, and I know others feel the same way. When political leaders such as Ted Cruz or Jim Jordan spoke like this, what they meant was: You believe my lies, which compels me to repeat them. Social media provides an infinity of apparent evidence for any conviction, especially one seemingly held by a president.

On the surface, a conspiracy theory makes its victim look strong: It sees Trump as resisting the Democrats, the Republicans, the Deep State, the pedophiles, the Satanists. More profoundly, however, it inverts the position of the strong and the weak. Trump’s focus on alleged “irregularities” and “contested states” comes down to cities where Black people live and vote. At bottom, the fantasy of fraud is that of a crime committed by Black people against white people.

It’s not just that electoral fraud by African-Americans against Donald Trump never happened. It is that it is the very opposite of what happened, in 2020 and in every American election. As always, Black people waited longer than others to vote and were more likely to have their votes challenged. They were more likely to be suffering or dying from Covid-19, and less likely to be able to take time away from work. The historical protection of their right to vote has been removed by the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, and states have rushed to pass measures of a kind that historically reduce voting by the poor and communities of color.

The claim that Trump was denied a win by fraud is a big lie not just because it mauls logic, misdescribes the present and demands belief in a conspiracy. It is a big lie, fundamentally, because it reverses the moral field of American politics and the basic structure of American history.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump January 6 Insurrection MAGA Cult

How Democrats Planned for Doomsday

There are two messages here. First, nothing Mr. Trump did was a surprise. He’d been telegraphing his plans for holding onto power for months. Secondly, the left actually managed to coordinate an effective response to counter it.

How Democrats Planned for Doomsday

Alexander Burns, writing for the New York Times.

By the time rioters ransacked the Capitol, the machinery of the left had already been primed to respond — prepared by months spent sketching out doomsday scenarios and mapping out responses, by countless hours of training exercises and reams of opinion research.

At each juncture, the activist wing of the Democratic coalition deployed its resources deliberately, channeling its energy toward countering Mr. Trump’s attempts at sabotage. Joseph R. Biden Jr., an avowed centrist who has often boasted of beating his more liberal primary opponents, was a beneficiary of their work.

Just as important, progressive groups reckoned with their own vulnerabilities: The impulses toward fiery rhetoric and divisive demands — which generated polarizing slogans like “Abolish ICE” and “Defund the police” — were supplanted by a more studied vocabulary, developed through nightly opinion research and message testing.

Worried that Mr. Trump might use any unruly demonstrations as pretext for a federal crackdown of the kind seen last summer in Portland, Ore., progressives organized mass gatherings only sparingly and in highly choreographed ways after Nov. 3. In a year of surging political energy across the left and of record-breaking voter turnout, one side has stifled itself to an extraordinary degree during the precarious postelection period.

Since the violence of Jan. 6, progressive leaders have not deployed large-scale public protests at all.

Interviews with nearly two dozen leaders involved in the effort, and a review of several hundred pages of planning documents, polling presentations and legal memorandums, revealed an uncommon — and previously unreported — degree of collaboration among progressive groups that often struggle to work so closely together because of competition over political turf, funding and conflicting ideological priorities.

For the organizers of the effort, it represents both a good-news story — Mr. Trump was thwarted — and an ominous sign that such exhaustive efforts were required to protect election results that were not all that close.

For the most part, the organized left anticipated Mr. Trump’s postelection schemes, including his premature attempt to claim a victory he had not achieved, his pressure campaigns targeting Republican election administrators and county officials and his incitement of far-right violence, strategy documents show.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump Elections January 6 Insurrection MAGA Cult President2020

Asymptomatic infection blunder let Covid-19 spin out of control

“Today, the best evidence suggests that about half of Covid-19 cases are caused by infected people who do not have symptoms when they pass on the virus.”

Asymptomatic infection blunder let Covid-19 spin out of control

Daniel P. Oran and Eric J. Topol writing for STAT.

At least one of three people infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, do not develop symptoms. That’s the conclusion of a review we just published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. It summarizes the results of 61 studies with more than 1.8 million people.

… But during much of the pandemic, fierce resistance — and even outright denialism — in acknowledging this not-so-typical disease pattern led to ineffective testing practices that allowed the pandemic to spin out of control.

In June, when we published a report of 16 cohorts with sizable proportions of asymptomatic infection and suggested that it might play a role in the progression of the pandemic, several researchers wrote letters to the editor demanding that our paper be retracted.

Today, the best evidence suggests that about half of Covid-19 cases are caused by infected people who do not have symptoms when they pass on the virus. These symptom-free spreaders are roughly divided between those who later develop symptoms, known as pre-symptomatic individuals, and those who never develop symptoms.

While the importance of asymptomatic infection in understanding Covid-19 has been surprising to some, infectious disease experts have long known that infection without symptoms is common in many illnesses. More than 90% of people infected with poliovirus have no symptoms. And about 75% of influenza infections have been estimated to be asymptomatic. Yet these important precedents have largely been ignored.

Asymptomatic coronavirus infection is not necessarily benign. Several studies have reported abnormal lung scans in those infected without symptoms, as well as myocarditis, a type of heart inflammation. The long-term health implications of asymptomatic infection aren’t known.

Even though knowledge about asymptomatic infection has greatly evolved, tactics for combating the pandemic have not. It is now obvious that testing only those with symptoms, as was common early in the pandemic, is a mistake because it ignores the invisible legions of infected people who have no symptoms.

This entry was tagged. COVID-19 Research Science

Trump and Justice Dept. Lawyer Said to Have Plotted to Oust Acting AG

Trump and Justice Dept. Lawyer Said to Have Plotted to Oust Acting AG - The New York Times

Katie Benner, writing for the New York Times.

The Justice Department’s top leaders listened in stunned silence this month: One of their peers, they were told, had devised a plan with President Donald J. Trump to oust Jeffrey A. Rosen as acting attorney general and wield the department’s power to force Georgia state lawmakers to overturn its presidential election results.

The unassuming lawyer who worked on the plan, Jeffrey Clark, had been devising ways to cast doubt on the election results and to bolster Mr. Trump’s continuing legal battles and the pressure on Georgia politicians. Because Mr. Rosen had refused the president’s entreaties to carry out those plans, Mr. Trump was about to decide whether to fire Mr. Rosen and replace him with Mr. Clark.

The department officials, convened on a conference call, then asked each other: What will you do if Mr. Rosen is dismissed?

The answer was unanimous. They would resign.

Their informal pact ultimately helped persuade Mr. Trump to keep Mr. Rosen in place, calculating that a furor over mass resignations at the top of the Justice Department would eclipse any attention on his baseless accusations of voter fraud. Mr. Trump’s decision came only after Mr. Rosen and Mr. Clark made their competing cases to him in a bizarre White House meeting that two officials compared with an episode of Mr. Trump’s reality show “The Apprentice,” albeit one that could prompt a constitutional crisis.

The previously unknown chapter was the culmination of the president’s long-running effort to batter the Justice Department into advancing his personal agenda. He also pressed Mr. Rosen to appoint special counsels, including one who would look into Dominion Voting Systems, a maker of election equipment that Mr. Trump’s allies had falsely said was working with Venezuela to flip votes from Mr. Trump to Joseph R. Biden Jr.

This account of the department’s final days under Mr. Trump’s leadership is based on interviews with four former Trump administration officials who asked not to be named because of fear of retaliation.

This entry was tagged. Corruption Donald Trump President2020

Military Veterans Overrepresented In Those Charged In Jan. 6 Capitol Riot

“Roughly one-third of active duty troops said they had "personally witnessed examples of white nationalism or ideological-driven racism within the ranks in recent months," according to a [2019 survey]…”

Military Veterans Overrepresented In Those Charged In Jan. 6 Capitol Riot : NPR

Tom Dreisbach and Meg Anderson, for NPR.

NPR compiled a list of individuals facing federal or District of Columbia charges in connection with the events of Jan. 6. Of more than 140 charged so far, a review of military records, social media accounts, court documents and news reports indicate at least 27 of those charged, or nearly 20%, have served or are currently serving in the U.S. military. To put that number in perspective, only about 7% of all American adults are military veterans, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Several veterans are charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. One of them is Larry Rendall Brock Jr. The Air Force veteran was photographed in a military-style helmet and tactical vest carrying flex cuffs inside the Capitol. He posted on Facebook that he was preparing for a "Second Civil War," according to documents filed in federal court. In the weeks after Biden's victory, Brock posted that "we are now under occupation by a hostile governing force."

"I see no distinction between a group of Americans seizing power and governing with complete disregard to the Constitution and an invading force of Chinese communists accomplishing the same objective," Brock wrote. (There is no credible evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.) He ended his post with a reference to the oath taken by members of the military: "Against all enemies foreign and domestic."

Some veterans who allegedly stormed the Capitol are still serving in some capacity. Jacob Fracker, 29, was an infantry rifleman in the Marine Corps and deployed to Afghanistan twice, according to the Pentagon. He now serves in the Virginia National Guard, according to widespread news reports, though he was not among the service members deployed to Washington ahead of the inauguration. He is also a police officer in Rocky Mount, Va. With him at the Capitol on Jan. 6 was his colleague from the Rocky Mount Police Department, Thomas Robertson, 47, who is an Army veteran also facing charges.

Federal prosecutors have also alleged that multiple members of the right-wing extremist group the Oath Keepers took part in the "incursion" at the Capitol. The group has been known to target and recruit active-duty members of the military and veterans, in part for their specialized skills. Among those charged in relation to the storming of the Capitol are Thomas Edward Caldwell, a Navy veteran and alleged leader among the Oath Keepers, and Donovan Ray Crowl, a Marine Corps veteran. They have been charged with conspiracy to obstruct the Electoral College vote, among other alleged crimes.

Roughly one-third of active duty troops said they had "personally witnessed examples of white nationalism or ideological-driven racism within the ranks in recent months," according to a 2019 survey conducted by the Military Times and Syracuse University Institute for Veterans and Military Families. Troops said they had seen "swastikas being drawn on service members' cars, tattoos affiliated with white supremacist groups, stickers supporting the Ku Klux Klan and Nazi-style salutes between individuals."

This entry was tagged. January 6 Insurrection Jesus and John Wayne MAGA Cult Military White Christian Nationalism

The Ignominious Deceits of Congressman Cawthorn

Now that I’m reading through Jesus and John Wayne, it absolutely doesn’t surprise me that a Republican representative would specifically lie about being: 1) really good at business, 2) military material, and 3) a great athlete. It hits the trifecta of masculine prowess and nationalist credibility.

The Ignominious Deceits of Congressman Cawthorn | The Nation

Sara Luterman, for The Nation.

Before January 6, 25-year-old Representative Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) was known for being the youngest member of Congress, an ardent Trump supporter, and one of the few wheelchair users in elected office. Now he is in the headlines for giving a speech at the “Stop the Steal” rally prior to the insurrection at the Capitol that left five people dead. Throughout his short but meteoric political career, Cawthorn has used his disability to tell a story of overcoming: Despite great adversity, he claims to have achieved excellence through grit and physical strength. Many of his campaign ads featured images of Cawthorn intubated and hospitalized alongside videos of him lifting weights and hurtling forward in a racing wheelchair. But his claims of sporting success—like his accounts of education and business acumen—have often been misleading.

Cawthorn became disabled after a 2014 car crash left him paralyzed from the waist down. By Cawthorn’s own telling, he was a successful business owner headed to the Naval Academy before his injury tragically reordered his life. As it turns out, neither claim is true. The Asheville Watchdog reported that Cawthorn had already been rejected from the Naval Academy before his accident. And Cawthorn’s real-estate investment firm, SPQR Holdings LLC, which he only formed in August 2019, reported no income on its tax documents, and Cawthorn was the sole employee.

But he has not only styled himself as Naval Academy material with a head for real estate. Multiple outlets reported that before he ran for office, Cawthorn was training for the 2020 Paralympic Games. There is little detail, but according to Micah Bock, Cawthorn’s campaign communications director, he intended to compete in the 400-meter dash at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. It would have been an incredible footnote in a politician’s biography: Paralympians are celebrated and accomplished athletes. But his hopes for the Paralympic Games, now slated for summer 2021, were allegedly dashed by his worsening disability.

Cawthorn frequently said on social media that he was “training” for the Paralympic Games. Technically, such a statement could be true—but only in the sense that I could be training for the Olympic Games. “It’s like a kid saying they want to play in the NBA when they’re on their fourth-grade basketball team,” said Amanda McGrory, a three-time Paralympian who has earned seven medals in track and field. Cawthorn stated on the Christian inspirational podcast The Heal, “I had an opportunity for the Paralympics for track and field.” He did not have that opportunity, nor does it appear he took any meaningful steps that would have led him there.

This entry was tagged. Corruption Jesus and John Wayne Olympics

Morality Over Money

It seems that America’s Christians want to remember the Trump presidency only as one that was financially rewarding. I saw them, as we got closer to Joe Biden’s inauguration, reminding each other how good they had it.

Seen on Facebook:

Remember this day. No wars in 4 years. Job security. Oil independence . Gas is at under $2.10 gallon. Stock Market above 30K.

Also seen on Facebook:

TodaysFacts

Copied to my timeline so it will come back up in my memories next year.

Let’s see what happens. I can’t wait to compare!

Today is 1 days before Bidens inauguration... Gas is currently $2.15per gallon (Ivor, VA). Interest rates are 2.25 percent for a 30 year mortgage. The stock market closed at 30829.40 though we have been fighting COVID for 11 months. Our GDP growth for the 3rd Qtr was 33.1 percent. We had the best economy ever until COVID and it is recovering well. We have not had any new wars or conflicts in the last 4 years. North Korea has been under control and has not been testing any missiles. ISIS has not been heard from for over 3 years. The housing market is the strongest it has been in years. Homes have appreciated at an unbelievable rate and sell well. And let’s not forget that peace deals in the Middle East were signed by 4 countries—unprecedented!

Unemployment sits at 6.7% in spite of COVID.

Biden takes over on 1-20-21.

Lets look back next year...

These remembrances whitewash everything that was evil about the Trump presidency. For instance, here’s just a small portion of how I’ll remember Trump:

Remember this day. A racist, law-breaking sheriff pardoned. Children taken from parents. Refugees terrorized. Alliances shattered. 400,000 dead. White supremacists emboldened. Democracy undermined. The capitol attacked, Congress made to flee.

For Christians who claim to be Bible believing, this emphasis on money is unseemly. When measured against lives lost and people broken, who cares how well the stock market is doing, how cheap gas is, etc.? Morality means much more than money.

Jesus made it quite clear that it is far better to be poor and righteous than it is to be rich and unrighteous.

Matthew 6:19-24

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Matthew 16:24-27

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

Luke 12:22-34

Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life ? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Biden’s Covid-19 Plan Is Maddeningly Obvious

“Vaccines don’t save people; vaccinations do”.

Opinion | Biden’s Covid-19 Plan Is Maddeningly Obvious — The New York Times

Ezra Klein, in an op-ed for the New York Times.

I wish I could tell you that the incoming Biden administration had a genius plan for combating Covid-19, thick with ideas no one else had thought of and strategies no one else had tried. But it doesn’t.

What it does have is the obvious plan for combating Covid-19, full of ideas many others have thought of and strategies it is appalling we haven’t yet tried. That it is possible for Joe Biden and his team to release a plan this straightforward is the most damning indictment of the Trump administration’s coronavirus response imaginable.

The Trump administration seemed to believe a vaccine would solve the coronavirus problem, freeing President Trump and his advisers of the pesky work of governance. But vaccines don’t save people; vaccinations do. And vaccinating more than 300 million people, at breakneck speed, is a challenge that only the federal government has the resources to meet. The Trump administration, in other words, had it backward. The development of the vaccines meant merely that the most logistically daunting phase of the crisis, in terms of the federal government’s role, could finally begin.

In the absence of a coordinated federal campaign, the job has fallen to overstretched, underresourced state and local governments, with predictably wan results. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of the roughly 31 million doses that have been sent out, about 12 million have been used.

This entry was tagged. COVID-19 Donald Trump Joe Biden

‘I Answered the Call of My President’: Rioters Say Trump Urged Them On

‘I Answered the Call of My President’: Rioters Say Trump Urged Them On

Alan Feuer and Nicole Hong, for the New York Times.

In the two weeks since a raging mob stormed the Capitol, President Trump has shown no sign that he believes he shares responsibility for the worst incursion on the halls of Congress in more than two centuries. Shielding him further, his loyalists have started shifting blame for the attack to an array of distracting bogeymen: far-left anti-fascists, Black Lives Matter activists, even vague conspiracies of a setup involving Vice President Mike Pence.

But one group of people has already come forward and directly implicated Mr. Trump in the riot at the Capitol: some of his own supporters who were arrested while taking part in it. In court papers and interviews, at least four pro-Trump rioters have said they joined the march that spiraled into violence in part because the president encouraged them to do so.

In the past few days, a retired firefighter charged with assaulting members of the Capitol Police force told a friend he went to the building following “the president’s instructions,” according to a criminal complaint, and a Texas real estate agent accused of breaching the building told a reporter that by protesting in Washington, she had “answered the call of my president.”

A Virginia man has told the F.B.I. that he and his cousin marched on the Capitol because Mr. Trump said “something about taking Pennsylvania Avenue.” And a lawyer for the so-called QAnon Shaman — who invaded the building in a Viking costume — said that Mr. Trump was culpable, and he planned to ask the White House for a pardon.

“Does our president bear responsibility?” the lawyer, Al Watkins, told The New York Times. “Hell, yes, he does.”

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump January 6 Insurrection MAGA Cult

There is no COVID vaccine reserve. Trump admin already shipped it

The incompetence of the Trump administration continually surprises me. They’re constantly finding new depths to break through. This is, apparently, what happens when major cabinet departments are left leaderless and the President is more interested in overturning an election than in doing the governing that he was originally elected to do. I thank God that it’s only 5 more days until we get a new President and a new leadership team.

There is no COVID vaccine reserve. Trump admin already shipped it | Ars Technica

The Trump administration announced Tuesday, January 12, that it would begin shipping reserved vaccine supplies, raising hopes that states may see their vaccine supply potentially double as they work to accelerate the sluggish immunization campaign. But according to a report by The Washington Post, that promised vaccine stockpile doesn’t actually exist—it was already shipped out—and the limited vaccine supply available to states will remain as it is for now.

The news has not only left state health officials angry and confused by the false promises, they’re also left scrambling to sort out distribution changes. In addition to claiming they would release the (non-existent) stockpile, Trump administration officials told states to expand access to vaccines—now allowing anyone over age 65 to get vaccinated and people under 65 who have a documented underlying health condition that makes them more vulnerable to COVID-19.

… Amid the chaos, the Trump administration isn’t offering clear answers on what happened or why officials misled states. According to the Post’s reporting, the Trump administration stopped reserving second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at the end of last year, and the last reserves of Moderna’s vaccine supply were shipped out over the past weekend.

There was no stockpile to release on Tuesday when the Health and Human Services secretary said at a press briefing that "because we now have a consistent pace of production, we can now ship all of the doses that had been held in physical reserve.”

This entry was tagged. COVID-19 Donald Trump

Statement from Wheaton College Faculty and Staff

Wheaton College steps up and calls out White Christian Nationalism.

Statement from Wheaton College Faculty and Staff

The January 6 attack on the Capitol was characterized not only by vicious lies, deplorable violence, white supremacy, white nationalism, and wicked leadership—especially by President Trump—but also by idolatrous and blasphemous abuses of Christian symbols. The behaviors that many participants celebrated in Jesus’ name bear absolutely no resemblance to the Christian teachings or ethics that we submit to as faculty and staff of Wheaton College. Furthermore, the differential treatment displayed by those with a duty to protect in their engagement with rioters who trespassed on the Capitol grounds illegally, when compared to recent protests over police brutality in D.C. last summer, illustrates the ongoing reality that systemic racism in our country is tragically and undeniably alive and well. These realities are reprehensible. Our Christian faith demands shining a light on these evils and the simultaneous commitment to take appropriate action.

In the days and weeks preceding January 6, many more leaders, including many evangelical leaders, could have spoken truth to the disillusioned supporters of President Trump—diminishing the prospects for violence and bolstering the witness of Christian love and the call for justice in our civic life. Some did. However, many wittingly propagated lies, or were unduly silent in a just cause. Our Christian faith demands greater courage.

We repent of our own failures to speak and to act in accordance with justice, and we lament the failures of the Church to teach clearly and to exercise adequate church discipline in these areas. Moreover, we grieve over the inadequate level of discipleship that has made room for this type of behavior among those who self-identify as Christian.

McCarthy Grows a Sliver of a Spine

Axios Sneak Peek for January 11

“Sneak Peek”, anchored by Alayna Treene, Hans Nichols and Kadia Goba.

President Trump today privately — and falsely — blamed "Antifa people" for storming the Capitol, even though clear video and documentary evidence exists showing the rioters were overwhelmingly Trump supporters, Axios' Jonathan Swan reports.

Why it matters: Despite facing an impeachment vote for an assault he helped incite, the outgoing president is still sticking with his tried-and-true playbook of deflecting and reaching for conspiracies.

Behind the scenes: In a tense, 30-minute-plus phone call this morning with [Republican] House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Trump trotted out the Antifa line.

  • McCarthy would have none of it, telling the president: "It's not Antifa, it's MAGA. I know. I was there," according to a White House official and another source familiar with the call.
  • The White House official said the call was tense and aggressive at times, with Trump ranting about election fraud and an exasperated McCarthy cutting in to say, "Stop it. It's over. The election is over."

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump MAGA Cult January 6 Insurrection

The Roman Road From Insurrection

This entire newsletter is a forceful Christian response—a proper one, for once—to the insurrection that Trump’s supporters committed last Wednesday.

The Roman Road From Insurrection

Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the public-policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), writing the “Moore to the Point Newsletter”, for January 11.

The governing authorities do not have a choice as to whether or not to hold people accountable for inciting and carrying out insurrection. To do otherwise would be to cease to be a just society, and to empower future evildoers to do the same. Everyone who attacked our Capitol or planned or directed such a storming of the Capitol, should be arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

You will hear people saying that for the sake of “unity” we should quietly put such things away. God forbid. The unity of the people cannot come with a lack of accountability. The police do not have the option to ignore these mobs. The Congress does not have the option to ignore their constitutional obligations on high crimes and misdemeanors. The Vice President and the Cabinet cannot put aside questions of their responsibilities for fear of their futures. To hope that this all will just quietly go away and resolve itself is to incite future terrorists and is to do exactly what the Bible forbids—to “justify the wicked and to condemn the righteous” (Prov. 17:15).

Unity demands accountability. Justice demands accountability. Without such, all we are left with is “lawlessness leading to more lawlessness” (Rom. 6:19).

You don’t have to agree with me. I might be wrong. I don’t speak for anyone else, only myself. But you deserve to hear from me what I honestly think. If I were the President, I would resign. If I were the Vice President, I would assemble the cabinet in accordance with the 25th Amendment. If I were a Member of Congress, I would vote to impeach. And if I were a United States senator, I would vote to convict. And I would be willing, if necessary, to lose my seat to do so. As a matter of fact, I am willing, if necessary, to lose this seat.

Again, I might be wrong. But, if so, propose what can be done to make sure that justice is done and that this never happens to our country again.

Is that easy? No. Will people say you’re a “closet liberal.” Yes. Will people threaten “psychological warfare” or conduct endless investigations against you? Maybe. Will people send threats to kill you and your family or to destroy your reputation and ministry? Perhaps.

You can survive all that. Trust me.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump MAGA Cult January 6 Insurrection

Records show fervent Trump fans fueled US Capitol takeover

Records show fervent Trump fans fueled US Capitol takeover

By Michael Biesecker, Michael Kunzelman, Gillian Flaccus and Jim Mustian, for the Associated Press.

The Associated Press reviewed social media posts, voter registrations, court files and other public records for more than 120 people either facing criminal charges related to the Jan. 6 unrest or who, going maskless amid the pandemic, were later identified through photographs and videos taken during the melee.

The evidence gives lie to claims by right-wing pundits and Republican officials such as Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., that the violence was perpetrated by left-wing antifa thugs rather than supporters of the president.

“If the reports are true,” Gaetz said on the House floor just hours after the attack, “some of the people who breached the Capitol today were not Trump supporters. They were masquerading as Trump supporters and, in fact, were members of the violent terrorist group antifa.”

Steven D’Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office, told reporters that investigators had seen “no indication” antifa activists were disguised as Trump supporters in Wednesday’s riot.

The AP found that many of the rioters had taken to social media after the November election to retweet and parrot false claims by Trump that the vote had been stolen in a vast international conspiracy. Several had openly threatened violence against Democrats and Republicans they considered insufficiently loyal to the president. During the riot, some livestreamed and posted photos of themselves at the Capitol. Afterwards, many bragged about what they had done.

As the mob smashed through doors and windows to invade the Capitol, a loud chant went up calling for the hanging of Vice President Mike Pence, the recent target of a Trump Twitter tirade for not subverting the Constitution and overturning the legitimate vote tally. Outside, a wooden scaffold had been erected on the National Mall, a rope noose dangling at the ready.

So far, at least 90 people have been arrested on charges ranging from misdemeanor curfew violations to felonies related to assaults on police officers, possessing illegal weapons and making death threats against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

There were also current and former members of the U.S. military in the crowd.

Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Larry Rendall Brock Jr. of Texas was charged in federal court on Sunday after he was identified in photos showing him standing in the well of the Senate, wearing a military-style helmet and body armor while holding a pair of zip-tie handcuffs.

The insurrectionist mob also included members of the neofascist group known as the Proud Boys, whom Trump urged to “stand back and stand by” when asked to condemn them by a moderator during a presidential debate in September.

Nicholas R. Ochs, 34, was arrested Saturday after returning home to Hawaii, where he is the founder of the local Proud Boys chapter. On Wednesday, Ochs posted a photo of himself on Twitter inside the Capitol, grinning broadly and smoking a cigarette. According to court filings, the FBI matched photos of Ochs taken during the riot to photos taken when Ochs campaigned unsuccessfully last year as the Republican nominee for a seat in the Hawaii statehouse.

Proud Boys leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio was arrested Monday in Washington on weapons charges and ordered to stay out of the nation’s capital. Tarrio is accused of vandalizing a Black Lives Matter banner at a historic Black church last month.

The FBI has opened a murder probe into the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick, who was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher, according to law enforcement officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation publicly. He died at a hospital.

The Trump supporters who died in the riot were Kevin D. Greeson, 55, of Athens, Alabama; Benjamin Philips, 50, of Ringtown, Pennsylvania; Ashli Babbitt, 35, of San Diego; and Rosanne Boyland, 34, of Kennesaw, Georgia.

Boyland’s sister told the AP on Friday she was an adherent of the QAnon conspiracy theory that holds Trump is America’s savior. Her Facebook page featured photos and videos praising Trump and promoting fantasies, including one theory that a shadowy group was using the coronavirus to steal elections. Boyland’s final post on Twitter — a retweet of a post by White House social media director Dan Scavino — was a picture of thousands of people surrounding the Washington Monument on Wednesday.

“She would text me some things, and I would be like, ‘Let me fact-check that.’ And I’d sit there and I’d be like, ‘Well, I don’t think that’s actually right,’” Lonna Cave, Boyland’s sister, said. “We got in fights about it, arguments.”

The AP’s review found that QAnon beliefs were common among those who heeded Trump’s call to come to Washington.

Doug Jensen, 41, was arrested by the FBI on Friday in Des Moines, Iowa, after returning home from the riot. An AP photographer captured images of him confronting Capitol Police officers outside of the Senate chamber on Wednesday.

Jensen was wearing a black T-shirt emblazoned with a large Q and the phrase “Trust The Plan,” a reference to QAnon. Video posted online during the storming of the Capitol also appears to show Jensen, who is white, pursuing a Black police officer up an interior flight of stairs as a mob of people trails several steps behind. At several points, the officer says “get back,” but to no avail.

Jensen’s older brother, William Routh, told the AP on Saturday that Jensen believed that the person posting as Q was either Trump or someone very close to the president.

“I feel like he had a lot of influence from the internet that confused or obscured his views on certain things,” said Routh, of Clarksville, Arkansas, who described himself as a Republican Trump supporter. “When I talked to him, he thought that maybe this was Trump telling him what to do.”

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump MAGA Cult January 6 Insurrection

Debunking the Conspiracy Theories Claiming That Antifa Led the Attack on the Capitol

Debunking the Conspiracy Theories Claiming That Antifa Led the Attack on the Capitol - The Dispatch

Alec Dent, writing for The Dispatch. (A conservative publication, although not a pro-Trump one.)

While it is, of course, possible that a crowd of tens of thousands of individuals included troublemakers with ties to Antifa or other left-wing groups, there is no evidence to suggest that Antifa members were among those who stormed the Capitol. There is, however, an abundance of evidence demonstrating that Trump-supporting radicals participated in the siege. A number of pro-Trump accounts livestreamed the attack on Congress on social media platforms, including prominent far-right figures Nick Fuentes and Tim Gionet (better known as “Baked Alaska”) who livestreamed themselves breaking into Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. Derrick Evans, a Republican member of West Virginia’s legislature, broadcast himself breaching the Capitol. A Proud Boy “elder” was among many who shared a selfie from Congress on social media.

Other people who participated in the attack on Congress have been identified as well. Noted QAnon and Trump supporter Jake Angeli drew lots of attention with his face paint and horned hat. Kristina Malimon, a Turning Point USA ambassador who gained notoriety for organizing a Trump boat parade that sank a non-participating boat, was arrested along with her mother for unlawful entry due to her alleged participation in the storming of the Capitol. Ashli Babbitt, who died after being shot while breaking through a window in the Capitol, was an ardent QAnon believer and Trump supporter. Many others openly identified themselves to reporters, such as Richard Barnett, who bragged about a letter from Nancy Pelosi’s office. Barnett is a member of the pro-Trump group 2A NWA Stand and has posted white nationalist comments on social media. A number of participants were identified after sharing videos and pictures of themselves from the storming of the Capitol. After the names of those arrested for their participation in the siege were made public, news outlets looked through social media platforms and interviewed those who knew them, identifying them as Trump supporters.

Even if there were Antifa members present—again, a claim lacking proof—all evidence still points to Trump supporters as the ringleaders of the attack. After Trump encouraged his supporters to come to D.C. on January 6—and after he had spent weeks making the false claim that the election had been stolen—plans were crafted on fringe right-wing media platforms and discussion boards in the weeks leading up to the siege, with plans for sneaking weapons into the rally openly discussed.

All available evidence indicates that Trump supporters, not Antifa members or liberals in disguise, were responsible for the violence and destruction that took place on Capitol Hill Wednesday. There is no current evidence to support claims to the contrary.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump MAGA Cult January 6 Insurrection

Impeach President Trump

The President must be impeached and removed from office.

President Trump spent the last 2 weeks calling his supporters to Washington D.C. This morning, he held an outdoor rally in the capitol, riling up his supporters. He and his personal lawyer talked about fighting for the Presidency, having a “trial by combat”. Then he spent hours silently watching from the Oval Office as his supporters left the rally, marched to the Capitol Building, fought their way inside, and prevented Congress from tallying the electoral votes that would finalize his loss.

This is insurrection and an attempted coup. No American president should ever be allowed to incite violence. Even less should a president be allowed to incite violence in the furtherance of their own power. Condemn this action now, in the strongest way possible, or America will be forever weakened. Possibly fatally.

Palm Oil, Child labor, Evil, and Deliberate Decisions

This story breaks my heart and makes me angry.

Child labor in palm oil industry tied to Girl Scout cookies

10-year-old Ima helped harvest the fruit that makes its way into a dizzying array of products sold by leading Western food and cosmetics brands.

Ima is among the estimated tens of thousands of children working alongside their parents in Indonesia and Malaysia, which supply 85% of the world’s most consumed vegetable oil. An Associated Press investigation found most earn little or no pay and are routinely exposed to toxic chemicals and other dangerous conditions. Some never go to school or learn to read and write. Others are smuggled across borders and left vulnerable to trafficking or sexual abuse. Many live in limbo with no citizenship and fear being swept up in police raids and thrown into detention.

The AP used U.S. Customs records and the most recently published data from producers, traders and buyers to trace the fruits of their labor from the processing mills where palm kernels were crushed to the supply chains of many popular kids’ cereals, candies and ice creams sold by Nestle, Unilever, Kellogg’s, PepsiCo and many other leading food companies, including Ferrero – one of the two makers of Girl Scout cookies.

… Ima led her class in math and dreamed of becoming a doctor. Then one day her father made her quit school because he needed help meeting the high company targets on the palm oil plantation where she was born. Instead of attending fourth grade, she squatted in the unrelenting heat, snatching up the loose kernels littering the ground and knowing if she missed even one, her family’s pay would be cut.

She sometimes worked 12 hours a day, wearing only flip flops and no gloves, crying when the fruit’s razor-sharp spikes bloodied her hands or when scorpions stung her fingers. The loads she carried, sometimes so heavy she would lose her footing, went to one of the very mills feeding into the supply chain of Olivia’s cookies.

“I am dreaming one day I can go back to school,” she told the AP, tears rolling down her cheeks.

Child labor has long been a dark stain on the $65 billion global palm oil industry. Though often denied or minimized as kids simply helping their families on weekends or after school, it has been identified as a problem by rights groups, the United Nations and the U.S. government.

Let’s look closer at what’s going on. Above the story says that Ima’s father made “her quit school because he needed help meeting the high company targets”. The same thing is mentioned again, later in the article.

Indonesia is the world’s largest palm oil producer and, with a population of 270 million, there is no shortage of strong backs. Many laborers migrate from the poorest corners of the country to take jobs that others shun, often bringing their wives and children as helpers in order to meet impossibly high daily quotas.

The company executives who set those high daily quotas, will wash their hands of the child labor saying that “it’s the parents choice to bring their children to the fields” and “we can’t stop that”. Of course, they could. Lower the daily quotas to a level that one person can meet on their own. Keeping the daily quotas high isn’t about preventing laziness or motivating hard work or incentivizing creative ways to increase efficiency. It’s about forcing people into impossible choices, all for the good of your own bottom line. It is, in short, greedy and evil.

I wonder if the Bible has anything to say about giving people high daily quotas.

So the Egyptians made the Israelites their slaves. They appointed brutal slave drivers over them, hoping to wear them down with crushing labor. They forced them to build the cities of Pithom and Rameses as supply centers for the king. But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more the Israelites multiplied and spread, and the more alarmed the Egyptians became. So the Egyptians worked the people of Israel without mercy. They made their lives bitter, forcing them to mix mortar and make bricks and do all the work in the fields. They were ruthless in all their demands.

… But Aaron and Moses persisted. “The God of the Hebrews has met with us,” they declared. “So let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness so we can offer sacrifices to the Lord our God. If we don’t, he will kill us with a plague or with the sword.”

Pharaoh replied, “Moses and Aaron, why are you distracting the people from their tasks? Get back to work! Look, there are many of your people in the land, and you are stopping them from their work.”

That same day Pharaoh sent this order to the Egyptian slave drivers and the Israelite foremen: “Do not supply any more straw for making bricks. Make the people get it themselves! But still require them to make the same number of bricks as before. Don’t reduce the quota. They are lazy. That’s why they are crying out, ‘Let us go and offer sacrifices to our God.’ Load them down with more work. Make them sweat! That will teach them to listen to lies!”

These workers end up in a repeating cycle of poverty, because they’re kept out of school as children.

But the biggest obstacles faced by Alex and other child workers in the two countries are lack of access to adequate, affordable education and medical care.

Some companies in Indonesia provide rudimentary elementary schooling on plantations, but children who want to continue their studies may find they have to travel too far on poor roads or that they can’t afford it. In Malaysia, the problem is even bigger: Without legal documents, tens of thousands of kids are not allowed to go to government schools at all.

It’s such an extensive problem that Indonesia has set up learning centers to help some of its children on plantations in the neighboring country, even sending in its own teachers. But with such heavy workloads on plantations, one instructor said he had to beg parents to let their sons and daughters come for even just a half-day of classes. And many children, especially those living in remote, hard-to-reach areas, still have no access to any type of education.

“Why aren’t companies playing a role in setting up schools in collaboration with the government?” asked Glorene Das, executive director of Tenaganita, a Malaysian nonprofit group concentrating on migrant issues for more than two decades. “Why are they encouraging the children to work instead?”

And, yes, I use “kept out of school” deliberately. When children are prevented from going to school because they don’t have legal documents, presumably because no one will give them legal documents, someone is making a choice to deny them that which they need to get an education. And when companies are happy to pretend that they don’t see child labor even as they avoid setting up schools for the children that they know are on their plantations—well, that’s a choice too.

Are the companies which are buying and using palm oil acting responsibily?

The [Girl Scout cookies] bakers’ parent companies – Italian confectionary brand Ferrero and Canadian-based Weston Foods – would not comment on the issue of child labor, but both said they were committed to sourcing only certified sustainable palm oil.

Weston Foods, which owns ABC Bakers, would not provide any information about its palm oil suppliers, citing proprietary reasons, so the AP could not determine if its supply chain was tainted.

“Proprietary reasons”. I’m going to make my own decision. Weston Foods is guilty of using palm oil made by child laborers. That’s the most plausible explanation for why they won’t tell AP who their suppliers are.

Weston Foods is owned by George Weston Limited. It, in turn, is owned by the Canadian branch of the Weston Family. Galen G. Weston is the current chairman and CEO of George Weston Limited.

He sounds like a man who places profits far above people.

Weston has faced frequent criticism from the Canadian labour movement, including from unions representing his companies' workers and from organizations promoting workers' rights and poverty reduction more generally. On December 31, 2017 Galen Weston Jr. "won" labour organization RankandFile.ca's 2017 Scumbag of the Year award. The organization holds Weston responsible for opposing a $15 minimum wage, engaging in tax avoidance via offshore holdings, firing 500 workers and closing 22 stores in response to an increase in minimum wage, and being caught in a 14 year bread price fixing scam.

In June 2020, Weston confirmed the cancellation of an hourly $2.00 CAD wage premium to Loblaw workers, earning criticism from Unifor President Jerry Dias. The premium was paid to low-wage grocery store workers, who were deemed "essential" and required to attend work in dangerous conditions while most of Canada was shut down in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Why do I bring all of this up? Because evil is perpetuated by real people, specific people, who make specific decisions that make the world a worse place. And I may not be able to do much to change a man like Galen Weston, prick his conscience, or cause him discomfort. But I can do my tiny part to tell the truth.

Galen Weston runs a company that knowingly purchases palm oil that is produced with child labor. Galen Weston has the power, authority, and clout to make a real difference in the fight to stamp out child labor, to stamp out child illiteracy, to make the world a better place. And he chooses not to do it. He is not a good man.

Likewise, Girl Scouts of America chooses to contract with ABC Bakers, owned by Weston Foods, to make their Girl Scout cookies. They could make a different choice. So far they have chosen not to. They also share the blame for the child labor in Indonesia and Malaysia.

If you’ve read this far down, you now have a choice to make. Will you continue purchasing Girl Scout cookies? Or will you do your tiny part to make the world a better place?

“Dave Ramsey Fired my Daughter-in-Law”

Two weeks ago, we learned that Dave Ramsey doesn’t care about the health of his employees. Last weekend, we learned that he’s thin-skinned and vindictive.

tom_stephenson tweet thread from Sat, December 26, 2020 at 06:12 PM.

My daughter-in-law has worked for @DaveRamsey for 5 years. She loved her job and has been a model employee. It has been difficult this year with the Covid situation but she hung in there and did her job without complaining.

Last week my son made some comments to someone he did not know at a non-Ramsey dinner about the Covid situation at Ramsey and how crazy this year has been. The next day @DaveRamsey fired my DIL because my son expressed his opinions to someone who apparently called Ramsey.

It was apparently reported to Ramsey that my son said Dave was an idiot but my son confirmed with the person he talked to that was not what he said or even suggested. Not sure why the person felt compelled to call anyone about their conversation.

There was no discussion or questions about what her husband said or why- just "see you later". For a company that claims to be a Christian based organization and claims not to tolerate gossip and as a former CEO, I struggle to rationalize this intolerant, cult-like behavior.

As much as she loved her job, I for one am thankful she is out of there. She didn't deserve to be fired and I just needed to vent a little. P.S. The day after she was fired, she test positive for Covid after being exposed to it by at least 2 co-workers at Ramsey.

Dave Ramsey, Christian personal finance guru, defies COVID-19 to keep staff at desks

Dave Ramsey, noted Christian financial guru, is an unkind, abusive employer. How else do you describe the fact that he freely admits that COVID cases are out of control at his company, but that employees are not allowed to work from home? The only choice he gives his employees is coming to an infected workplace or quitting their job. He’s also suing a hotel for trying to institute safety measures at one of his conferences.

Ramsey has the audacity to say that “fear is not a fruit of the spirit” and “I do not let my behaviors be — dictated by fear unless it involves getting out of the way of a car that is coming toward me.” His statement is profoundly silly. COVID can mess you up just as bad as a car. Or worse. So why are you “getting out of the way of a car that is coming toward [you]”, but not getting out of COVID’s way? After all, most drivers will swerve around you. And if God wants to “call you home”, who are you to interfere with God’s plan by leaping aside? Or by wearing a seatbelt while driving?

After suggesting that staff members quit their job if they were worried about COVID, Ramsey’s HR director said “It is harsh and hard for me to say this”. Surprisingly, he didn’t seem to question whether or not he should be saying harsh things. I would suggest that Christians should be thinking long and hard before criticizing people’s fear and saying “harsh and hard” things about where to work, especially during a global pandemic. I don’t know what kind of a business Ramsey is running, but it’s not one that Jesus would claim.

Here are some of the actual fruits of the spirit: “love, forbearance, kindness, goodness, gentleness”. Too bad no one ever told Dave Ramsey that those fruits of the spirit apply to running a business and interacting with one’s employees.

Dave Ramsey, Christian personal finance guru, defies COVID-19 to keep staff at desks

by Bob Smietana, for Religion News.

Ramsey Solutions does not require masks at its offices — Dave Ramsey himself has been a vocal opponent of mask-wearing and other COVID restrictions. In a clip from his daily radio show, posted on YouTube in November, Ramsey railed against what he called “totalitarian” government restrictions and mask mandates, saying he wanted to “start a crusade” against them.

The Dave Ramsey Show is known for its host’s folksy financial advice balanced with a moralizing disdain for debt. One of the show’s highlights is a listener’s call featuring a “debt-free scream” to mark their liberation from consumer debt using Ramsey’s methods.

Since March, Ramsey Solutions has had about 100 cases of COVID-19 among its employees, according to a recording of a mid-November staff call obtained by Religion News Service.

Among that number were about 50 cases in mid-November, Ramsey Solutions Executive Director of Human Resources Armando Lopez told staff on the Nov. 13 call.

“There are 50 people that are somewhere in the neighborhood who are either positive or returning to work,” Lopez said.

Ramsey Solutions did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Lopez or other leaders.

During the November call, Lopez acknowledged the entire country — including suburban Williamson County, where Ramsey Solutions is located — was seeing spiking COVID-19 numbers. “Williamson County has seen a huge increase in COVID cases. And so have we. Ramsey Solutions has seen a huge spike,” said Lopez.

The human resources director also said he feared the numbers were higher, admitting the company lacked an accurate system for tracking COVID-19 cases.

Despite the number of positive cases, Lopez told staff in November there were no plans to allow remote working. The company allowed staff to work from home during the initial weeks of the pandemic but has required them to return to company headquarters since May.

Lopez said Ramsey Solutions leadership had decided it was not “a work from home employer.”

“Can we be a work from home employer for a short period of time?” he said on the Nov. 13 call. “We have proven for five weeks it works. Can we? Yes. Are we? No.”

That message was repeated in a company newsletter sent on Nov. 20, which reported 32 positive cases among staff and another 17 staff awaiting tests. The newsletter encouraged staff to report any COVID-19 test results to human resources but maintained that the company would continue operating out of headquarters.

“We know that many of you have felt pressure from family and friends, some of whom think you are ‘weird’ for still going in to work,” said the newsletter.

“Fortunately we work in a place that is used to being called weird,” the newsletter continued, then highlighted Ramsey Solutions’ “countercultural approach to business.”

“And now we are weird for following common sense and using logic in providing for our families and our customers,” according to the newsletter.

During the mid-November call with staff, Lopez said company leaders were not able to keep up with requests for exemptions to work from home, and employees were the best people to judge what is the right thing to do for their health. Some might decide they need to choose to quit their jobs, he said.

“We know we are going to lose some people through this,” he said. “It is harsh and hard for me to say this.”

The company has advised workers to social distance if possible and to stay home if they feel sick. In staff newsletters, the company has encouraged testing for COVID-19 but has also shared articles claiming the threat of COVID-19 has been exaggerated by the media.

“We are all adults here,” Luke Lefevre, a creative director at Ramsey, told employees in the Nov. 20 newsletter. “If you want to wear a mask, wear a mask. Give yourself healthy space from others. Use the stairs if you can. Don’t be careless.”

The company has also continued to hold large events during the pandemic, including its “EntreLeadership Summit” in July. That event was scheduled to be held at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Kissimmee, Florida, near Orlando, but Ramsey moved the event to its Franklin offices after the Gaylord informed the company of significant COVID-19 restrictions, including mask checks, according to a lawsuit filed by Ramsey Solutions.

The summit was one of a series of “high-end experiences” put on by Ramsey, attracting thousands of business owners and other attendees, “each of whom spends between $5,000 and $15,000 to attend, inclusive of hotel,” according to the amended complaint in the suit.

The COVID-19 restrictions at the hotel, which included no buffets or other self-service food along with limited use of the pool or other amenities, made having the conference there untenable, Ramsey Solutions stated in the complaint.

In court documents, Ramsey Solutions claimed the change of venue cost the company $10 million in lost revenue.

During a July staff meeting after the summit, Ramsey accused the hotel’s leadership of breaking their word to him and the company. The mask requirement in particular irked Ramsey. He ridiculed the idea that hotel staff would enforce a mask requirement on guests.

“As you guys are well aware we don’t require masks but if someone wants to wear a mask we don’t mind,” according to a recording of the meeting obtained by RNS. “Everybody gets to choose what you want to do. This is America — a voluntary thing, you choose what you want to do. But we’re not going to have someone pay $10,000 for a ticket to have some $8 an hour twerp at Marriott giving them a hard time about wearing a mask.”

At a staff meeting after Thanksgiving, Ramsey continued his criticism of those who are ruled by “fear” of COVID-19 and are “freaking out” due to the pandemic.

“They have got fear, they have trepidation on the COVID, they are scared to death about whether or not they are meeting all the social cues on fear and masks and temperature controls,” he said on a recording of the meeting obtained by RNS.

By contrast, he said, staff at Ramsey Solutions would spread Christmas cheer and joy during the holidays — as well as courage, which he said was contagious.

The company, Ramsey said, would not be ruled by fear.

“Fear is not a fruit of the spirit,” he told his employees in the meeting, while rallying them to step up their performance during the holiday season. “It is not on the list. And so, while sometimes I am afraid, I do not make decisions — and I do not let my behaviors be — dictated by fear unless it involves getting out of the way of a car that is coming toward me.”

This entry was tagged. COVID-19 Christianity Dave Ramsey Jesus and John Wayne White Christian Nationalism