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Today — January 7, 2021 — serial loser Donald Trump finally finished first. His criminal mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic has now killed more Americans than any wartime enemy head of state in US history.

All-time top killers of Americans:

  1. US President Donald Trump, COVID-19: 371,278 US dead in 9 months
  2. Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Civil War: 370,000 US dead in 4 years
  3. Nazi Führer Adolf Hitler, World War II European Theater: 213,407 US dead in 4 years
  4. Japanese Emperor Hirohito, World War II Pacific Theater: 162,525 US dead in 4 years

FAQs

Is it fair to equate war deaths with pandemic deaths?


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Just after midnight on Monday morning, Twitter locked my account for spreading “misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19.”


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Detail from John Trumbull’s 1780 painting of General George Washington with an enslaved aide, Billy Lee (Image Credit: Wikimedia)

“Where am I?” George Washington sat up in his hospital bed, blinking.

“Good morning, Mr. President,” a young woman stepped forward. “It is an honor to meet you. You are in a time machine. We are scientists from the year 2241.”

“What is this?” Washington reached for the IV needle in his left arm.

“Please don’t touch that, Sir. That medicine is healing you.”

“I was dying…”

“Yes, Mr. President. Moments before your death, we brought you here.”

“But, why…?”

“We’re historians. Having learned all we could from documents, we now use time travel to bring major historical figures to the future for study. With our modern medicine, you’ll live in comfort and luxury for another 50 years, at least. …


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A racist mob harasses Elizabeth Eckford at LRCHS (Image Credit: Wikimedia)

Today in 1957, President Eisenhower sent federal troops to support the integration of Little Rock Central High School.

Ike did his job even though he disagreed with the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Rather than give into racism, the former general upheld his vow to support and defend the US Constitution.

Woodrow Wilson Mann, the Mayor of Little Rock, also opposed the ruling, but he directed the school board to plan for gradual integration, beginning with nine black students at LRCHS in September 1957.

Governor Orval Faubus dispatched the Arkansas National Guard to stop the Little Rock Nine from entering the school. The Guardsmen did not, however, prevent white mobs from harassing the nine teens and beating Alex Wilson, a black journalist from Memphis. …


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T. Dart Walker’s illustration shows Big Jim Parker moving to restrain the assassin, who conceals his pistol in a linen bandages while shooting William McKinley (Image Credit: Library of Congress)

On this day in 1901, President William McKinley stood in the Temple of Music at the Buffalo World’s Fair, gladhanding a series of well-wishers while an organist played a majestic Bach sonata.

To discourage assassination attempts, the Secret Service normally made sure everyone’s hands were empty before they approached the president. But on that hot summer afternoon, the president’s bodyguards let the crowd of overdressed Victorians clutch handkerchiefs and mop their perspiring faces.

So, few noticed when a man with “a short cropped heavy black moustache” stepped up to McKinley. …


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Yesterday, Franklin Graham disingenously decried “the absence of God” at the Democratic National Convention.

This bizarre claim is easily falsifiable: In fact, many speakers paid eloquent tribute to the deep faith of Joe Biden, the party’s presidential nominee.

Graham can lie so audaciously because he knows most of his followers get information exclusively from hard right propaganda echo chambers — none of which dared question or complicate the multimillionaire evangelist’s false narrative.

Of course, Graham knows few in his docile flock will ever encounter contrary facts, and that even if they did, nearly all lack the courage, decency, and intellectual rigor to reconsider their biases in light of new information. For five decades, Graham and other evangelical leaders have trained their followers to extend their habits of unthinking obedience from faith to politics, by preaching that voting Republican is a religious duty. Worn down by fifty years of fundamentalist fatwas, the right’s remaining critical faculties crumbled into dust during three decades of escalating lunacy, from Rush Limbaugh and Fox News to InfoWars, Teabaggers, Trump, and QAnon. …


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(Image Credit: August de Richelieu)

The virus is spreading; school will shut soon.
We’re teaching remotely, from March to June.
Old teachers scramble to learn online tools
From young colleagues so we won’t look like fools;
Virtual classrooms we build on the fly
And make kids log on before we say, “Bye!”

We send home school lunches, issue laptops;
Our district shines ‘gainst a gloomy backdrop.
State leaders promise a plan to provide
Some way to span the digital divide;
Too dumb to conceive something effective
They just say all spring learning’s elective!

Most of my kids have Internet at home;
I’m ready to teach about ancient Rome.
But teens who can code, Minecraft, and TikTok,
Program robots and pick digital locks
Say they can’t Zoom and can’t Google Classroom,
So they cut class and blast bad guys on Doom. …


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This meme is mostly false.

Viral Truths

COVID-19 statistics are far from complete, but the best evidence in hand suggests a survival rate of about 99%.

So, the meme gets that one fact right.

But a virus that kills 1% of the folks it infects is, in fact, “evil.” So, the meme’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” public health advice clearly rings false.

If the Coronavirus killed “only” 1% of the country, that would add up to 3.3 million dead Americans. Such a staggering, tragic loss would make the pandemic 333 times more deadly to Americans than the War on Terror, 33 times more lethal than Vietnam, 3 times deadlier than World War II, roughly equal to the American Revolution’s body count, and nearly half as deadly as the Civil War, which killed “only” 2.4% …


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William Jennings Bryan in 1896 (Image Credit: Wikimedia)

In 1896, William Jennings Bryan gave a speech that changed the US forever.

Democrats had always claimed to be the party of America’s poor majority, the common (white) man: farmers, urban workers, and immigrants. Its founders — Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson — assumed the wealthy would always dominate politics, abusing government power to exploit the impoverished majority. Thus, they believed the best way to protect the people was to keep taxes low and government small, weak, and passive.

Bryan’s dynamic speech at the 1896 Democratic Convention steered the party and the country in a new direction. He believed the impoverished majority had the votes to end the political domination of monied elites, that a powerful, activist government could reverse the exploitation of the many by the few, ensuring economic justice. His vision set the agenda for Progressives for the next two decades, has guided Democratic platforms since the New Deal, and has influenced Republican policies since the 1950s. …


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Florida has the longest marine coastline in the lower 48 (Image Credit: Wikimedia)

Like many readers of daily newspapers, I enjoy Ken Fisher’s Super Quiz — a syndicated trivia game—but today’s quiz on coastlines is rife with glaring errors and frustrating imprecision. Failing either to educate or entertain, it instead perpetuates geographical ignorance.

All of Fisher’s questions concern state and country coastline lengths. As an example, he asks which US state has the longest coastline, and supplies the correct answer: Alaska, with a whopping 6,640 miles of coastline — more than most countries.

For maximum enjoyment of this essay, I suggest you begin by taking today’s SuperQuiz to see how you do yourself:

  1. Longest coastline in the lower 48? …

About

Brian Scott MacKenzie

History, politics, education, music, culture. Award-winning high school teacher, former principal. College instructor. Seahawks Diehard. Twitter: @brian_mrbmkz

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