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Later Trump December 3, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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In the last few weeks of the Trump administration I was struck by the following comment on Slate.com.

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump 10:31 AM

The “Republican” Governor of Georgia, @BrianKempGA , and the Secretary of State, MUST immediately allow a signature verification match on the Presidential Election. If that happens, we quickly and easily win the State and importantly, pave the way for a big David and Kelly WIN!

As the person who quoted that said:

Meanwhile, in other news, over 700,000 Americans filed for unemployment and 2,800 Americans died of COVID-19 yesterday.  But poor Mr. Trump can’t be expected to deal with that while people are being mean to him.

Is it not genuinely bizarre how there is next to no evidence that the issues the comment writer notes seem to concern the political leadership in the White House? It’s not as if nothing could be done – indeed those last few weeks will be crucial in the run-up to Christmas to dampening down the pandemic, as best as is possible. And yet…

Revisionism December 3, 2020

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A very interesting question asked here in this comment at the weekend.

Fergal

Revisionism … all good history needs it, digging up new sources/documents, questioning certain myths… Napoleon – History is but a myth we all agree on
In an Irish context what is the aim of revisionist History?
Nationalist…ultimately see a unified country
Republicans… a unitary Republic etc
Socialists… the primacy of class
What is the endgame for Irish revisionism? And let’s not think academic or professional historians don’t have an opinion…
Is it a return to all the country back in the UK?
A two nation solution forever and ever amen?
???

Some useful responses but any other thoughts on the question?

Always watching December 3, 2020

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Thought this hugely depressing, from the Guardian, the news that:

Microsoft has been criticised for enabling “workplace surveillance” after privacy campaigners warned that the company’s “productivity score” feature allows managers to use Microsoft 365 to track their employees’ activity at an individual level.

And:

The tools, first released in 2019, are designed to “provide you visibility into how your organisation works”, according to a Microsoft blogpost, and aggregate information about everything from email use to network connectivity into a headline percentage for office productivity.

And:

But by default, reports also let managers drill down into data on individual employees, to find those who participate less in group chat conversations, send fewer emails, or fail to collaborate in shared documents.

But as noted by some critics, the metrics are ‘highly arbitrary’. For example, email use and network connectivity are not necessarily indicative of productivity. Quite the opposite, the might indicate the opposite.

And this is concerning:

Employee surveillance “has really ramped up” alongside remote working during the coronavirus pandemic, as companies seek more oversight of workers away from the office, Dr Claudia Pagliari, a researcher into digital health and society at the University of Edinburgh, told the Guardian in September.

Sick pay December 3, 2020

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Excellent piece by Owen Jones in the Guardian on the utter detachment of the Tory high command from reality in relation to working lives and the pandemic. He notes:

It should be impossible to be shocked by anything in 2020, let alone the latest example of ministerial chutzpah tossed on to a Mount Everest of Tory shamelessness. Yet this week Matt Hancock, secretary of state for health and car crash interviews, pondered: “Why in Britain do we think it’s acceptable to soldier on and go into work if you have flu symptoms or a runny nose, thus making your colleagues ill?” He went on, blaming those who believe that “as long as you can get out of bed you should get into work”.

As Jones says, the attitudes he frets about are a direct result a ‘derisory level of sick pay’. As he continues, the OECD figures reveal the UK has the lowest mandatory sick pay of the industrialised nations as a proportion of average earnings. This isn’t something that fell out of the sky during the pandemic, its no glitch for the Tories – it’s a feature. And the means to combat it, political action of course, but also unionisation, and a greater sense of the vulnerability of workers when they are isolated. And look at the effects of the lack of these safeguards:

Britain has the worst Covid death toll in Europe, in large part because our government locked down too late, and reopened the economy with a disastrously malfunctioning test and trace system. But the fact so many British workers cannot afford to self-isolate is yet another toxic ingredient in a fatal brew. As the Trades Union Congress points out, 2 million workers don’t qualify for statutory sick pay, including more than a third of workers on zero-hours contracts, one in 10 female workers, and over a fifth of the youngest workers.

I’ve noted before how amongst the creatures cohort some parents are taking Covid very seriously indeed, because some are single parents, generally women, often non-national, in jobs where they are in exposed by dint of the nature of the workplace to greater potential infection. These aren’t high paying jobs, almost needless to say. And these are real workers at the coalface day in day out.

After Trump December 2, 2020

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Jason O’Toole had two very interesting points in this slightly tongue in cheek column on Trump. Firstly that ‘He unintentionally held a mirror up to the American way of life in a way that made it look a much nastier place than the one we Irish love to idolise’. This resonates, certainly just as Brexit made many on this island take a rather cooler and critical view of our nearest neighbour – albeit nowhere near the extent the likes of Eoghan Harris and others have been saying about anti-Britishness – similarly Trump I suspect forced some to consider certain aspects of the experience in the United States that have been sometimes ignored. For one example consider not just the emptiness of Trump’s rhetoric about the working class, but how the broader political systems in the US had for decades ignored the working class under various administrations of whatever stripe. How indeed structurally the US had tilted sharply away even from a rhetorical egalitarianism in that regard.

Another point was that we cannot be too self-regarding either. As O’Toole notes:

We argue it could never happen here – but three Dragons’ Den stars ran for the Aras last time. I shudder to think who’ll throw their hat into the ring next.

Covid false claims rebutted December 2, 2020

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An excellent overview in the most recent edition of Scientific American on ‘the most insidious false claims about the pandemicOctober 12, 2020The Coronavirus Outbreak

This doesn’t simply debunk the myths, but attempts to provide explanations as to why people hold them. So, for example:

COVID-19 is no worse than the flu.

Why It’s False:The precise infection fatality rate of COVID-19 is hard to measure, but epidemiologists suspect that it is far higher than that of the flu—somewhere between 0.5 and 1 percent, compared with 0.1 percent for influenza. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the latter causes roughly 12,000 to 61,000 deaths per year in the U.S. In contrast, COVID-19 had caused 200,000 deaths in the country as of mid-September. Many people also have partial immunity to the flu because of vaccination or prior infection, whereas most of the world has not yet encountered COVID-19. So no, coronavirus is not “just the flu.”

Why People Believe It:Their leaders keep saying it. In addition to his repeated false claims that COVID-19 is no worse than the flu, Trump has also said—falsely—that the numbers of deaths from COVID-19 are exaggerated. In fact, reported deaths from COVID-19 are likely an undercount.

And:

Herd immunity will protect us if we let the virus spread through the population.

Why It’s False:There is a fundamental flaw with this approach: experts estimate that roughly 60 to 70 percent of people would need to get COVID-19 for herd immunity to be possible. Given the high mortality rate of the disease, letting it infect that many people could lead to millions of deaths. That tragedy is what happened during the 1918 influenza pandemic, in which at least 50 million people are thought to have perished. The U.K.’s COVID-19 death rate is among the world’s highest. Sweden, for its part, has had significantly more deaths than neighboring countries, and its economy has suffered despite the lack of a shutdown.

Why People Believe It: They want to get back to normal life, and without a widely available COVID-19 vaccine, the only way to achieve herd immunity is to let a substantial number of people get sick. Some have speculated that we may have already achieved herd immunity, but population-based antibody studies have shown that even the hardest-hit regions are far from that threshold.

I think framing this in regard to why people might be inclined to believe a falsehood is sensible. One can completely understand the distress and concern at the manner in which 2020 saw many many aspects of normality fade away, almost overnight as it were. And it’s key to keep in mind that people can sincerely hold misguided beliefs. But it’s also absolutely essential to push back against these beliefs because they have a political power that can, as we saw in the US in respect of mask wearing, exacerbate the very real impacts of the virus. Going with the science was never more important.

Other issues tackled include falsehoods around mask-wearing, and the idea that increases in cases are the result of increased testing amongst others.

A walk in the park. For Jeremy. December 2, 2020

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Thanks for this from Michael Murray who published the following in Labour Affairs this month. 

Last Sunday, on a socially distanced, responsibly masked up march in Finsbury Park, London, in support of Jeremy Corbyn, I met a man who had been suspended indefinitely from the Labour Party sometime last year. On the march, jointly organised by rank and file members of Hackney North & Stoke Newington and Islington North Constituency Labour Parties, we talked about his case.  He said, at first, he had been officially cautioned not to discuss it – except with the Samaritans. Bollocks to that, I said: another  made up “rule” to suit the exigencies of the moment that can’t be found in the Labour Party’s Rules and Constitution, 2020 edition.

I joined the Labour Party, he said, in the early days of Corbynism. His motivation was to access a political education and be involved in what, he felt, was a party intent on righting the wrongs of inequality and unfairness – at home and abroad. Instead, just a few years later he found himself outside the Party, not quite knowing why; not allowed to attend his branch or the wider constituency party: missing out on  the banter of the “meeting after the meeting” in the pub or the cafe. Not able to participate in, or vote on policy matters or vote in elections: disenfranchised – indefinitely. 

 In Limbo, that state of non place, and non being between Hell and Heaven, I thought I’d left behind me with the rest of my discarded Catholicism. But no. Limbo may be dead in Catholic Ireland, but it’s alive and well in the 2020 Labour Party. And if you can’t hack it, well, there’s the Samaritans. Or turning up to a demo like this one – in support of Jeremy Corbyn, in the same boat as you now: suspended.  Your torment began, before Starmer, on Jeremy’s watch. (That should not  be forgotten by us, who remember those “thrown under the bus” in the name of “antisemitism.”)  Both you and Jeremy victims of the weaponisation of a customised antisemitism designed to stop Corbyn and Corbynism dead in its tracks. 

I’m of a different generation of the labour movement to you, I said. Where an injury to one is the concern of all; where a person is innocent until, after due process, he or she may or may not be found guilty as charged and a condign sanction applied if appropriate, be it an informal “pep talk” – or expulsion. Or something in between. Where the emphasis is on personal improvement, not punishment. Where the transformative power of redemption is allowed to work its magic. High trust, participatively managed organisations do exist which embody such values and not only in truly cooperative organisations.  A democratic socialist party without them can neither be democratic nor socialist. 

Justice delayed is justice denied. It rots the soul.  Those who inflict the delay know that. That’s why they reference the Samaritans in every letter of suspension sent out. If those who sent these letters had any integrity, they would refer those suspended to the free legal aid of their trade union – or a solicitor.  But recommending the Samaritans is no more than a cynical, arse-covering acknowledgement of the psychological damage that may be done.  

I’m glad. I said, that, for a couple of hours, on this beautiful, sunny day, amongst the animated crowd with its Labour movement’s colourful historical banners and imaginative impromptu placards you could rediscover some of the comradeship of which you are being deprived. Keep the faith, hard and all as  that is these days under the Labour Party “New Management” of Keir Starmer, Party Leader. And the unelected Dave Evans,  General Secretary, who does the hatchet work. 

Extract from – Diary of an ex-Corbyn foots soldier (Labour Affairs, December, 2020)
Dictionary definition of a “foot soldier” ….”a dedicated low level follower…”Michael Murray: murraymicha@gmail.com Facebook Michael Murray London

Podcast – The All Night Party / Sligo Leitrim Society for The Prevention of Cruelty to Constituents by Lying and Cheating Politicians December 2, 2020

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The episode covers Noel “Flukey” Gorman and his outing in November 1982 for the “Sligo Leitrim Society for the prevention of cruelty to constituents by lying and cheating politicians” and 1987 and 1994 outings for “The All Night Party” .

Interesting poll December 2, 2020

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Thought the RedC/SBP poll at the weekend was worth further comment.

As noted on RTÉ, this is the highest that SF has gone in RedC’s polls, ever. Quite an achievement in itself, but much more so if it can be sustained through to the next election. Richard Colwell of RedC had some thoughts on that noting that:

How secure are these gains? Well, support for the party is no longer dependent on a specific section of the population. Instead, it is now widespread, and across all demographic groups in the population.

But there are other aspects that are fascinating. Colwell argues that the fears of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael that a coalition of the two would lead to increased support for SF are coming true, and while FG is still at a solid 33%, it has dipped. Moreover FG is not guaranteed to remain ahead of SF in perpetuity.

Fine Gael’s position, clearly having shipped some damage, is problematic for them. But what caused that damage? Colwell points to the Woulfe controversy. Perhaps there’s more. Perhaps Varadkar’s curious playing both sides of the NEPHET issue has also alienated some.

The real curiosity though is that – of course – Fine Gael is not leading the Coalition. He writes:

Given that Fianna Fáil has not had any major negative issues to deal with directly in the recent past, and that Fine Gael is hardly having an easy time over the controversial appointment of Mr Justice Séamus Woulfe to the Supreme Court, it is hard to know how the party can regain a strong brand position among the electorate.

But he’s more food for thought. He notes that it is ‘a long time’ since two parties in this state were vying for 30% plus of the vote. And this is likely not simply to swamp FF but all others. He points to the GP shrinkage as evidence. But consider the broader trends, a much reduced LP, and indeed a much reduced social democratic cohort even if one includes the SDs with the LP.

What you want to say – 2 December 2020 December 2, 2020

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As always, following on Dr. X’s suggestion, it’s all yours, “announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose”, feel free.

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