Meniere’s COVID First Timers

There has been research that points to SARS-Cov2 being found in the inner ear and Meniere’s symptoms being caused by the infection. I ran across a few articles on the NIH website discussing this potential problem:

A higher incidence of MD first diagnosis was calculated during COVID-19 pandemic; furthermore, MD patients presented with more vertigo attacks and higher DHI values. These could be associated with the higher state anxiety during COVID-19 pandemic.

nih.gov

The researchers identified ten patients with COVID-19 who developed hearing loss after infection. The hearing loss ranged from mild to profound. Nine of the patients also experienced tinnitus, a ringing or buzzing noise in one or both ears. Six patients experienced vertigo, a sudden spinning sensation. The timing of symptom onset suggested a correlation between COVID-19 infection and hearing loss.

nih.gov

reddit

It’s been well established that COVID has effects on organs throughout the body. It would be surprising if it didn’t also affect eyes and ears:

The virus may also able to get into the body through the eyes, studies suggest—either from eye rubbing and the direct transfer of tears or from respiratory droplets that happen to land on the eye.

Over the pandemic’s first year and a half, accumulated data have established that about 11 percent of people with COVID develop some kind of eye issue, according to a review of multiple studies.

scientificamerican.com

reddit

Oh, great. This probably explains the influx of new people to the r/Meniere’s sub looking for answers. I was wondering where all the new traffic was coming from. Welcome, friends. Come on in and have a seat. We’ll prepare a cup of hot green tea and then we can talk a bit. You don’t like tea? I’m sorry. You probably should try learning to do without caffeine though. Why? Oh, we’ll get to that don’t you worry.

Continue reading “Meniere’s COVID First Timers”

Sudafed Non-drying Sinus

I’m still seeing a lot of questions about ear fullness on Meniere’s Reddit.

I have a specific treatment regimen for ear fullness because I was certain that my symptoms were caused by allergies back in the 1980’s when this all started for me. I tried and then discarded every single allergy treatment commonly on the market between the years of 1984 and 2003, and the only real symptom that I had to judge effectiveness against in those years was ear fullness and sinus pressure. At some point after we moved to Austin the Wife and I settled on the medication that we decided worked best, and that was Sudafed Non-drying Sinus.

Continue reading “Sudafed Non-drying Sinus”

Dying From Preventable Disease

twitter.com/Stonekettle

These idiots saying “I told you so” right now act like COVID’s no worse than the flu. They still say this more than a year later. This is simply not true by any measure that you care to apply. There is Long Haul COVID:

Covid-19 appears to be one of many infections, from Ebola to strep throat, that can give rise to stubborn symptoms in an unlucky subset of patients. “It is more typical than not that a virus infection leads to long-lasting symptoms in some fraction of individuals,” Iwasaki said.

In this week’s episode of Unexplainable, we dive into what we know about long Covid and what other viruses can teach us about the condition, including the leading hypotheses for what might be driving symptoms in Covid long-haulers.

Vox

50% of the people who catch COVID-19 have symptoms six months later. The flu doesn’t produce a chronic Illness but COVID does. We won’t know if the Omicron variant produces a chronic Illness for at least six more months. It’s possible that it will not. That would be a blessing. But people still die from it at rates that surpass the flu.

twitter.com/calvin_maestro

…and we shouldn’t be tolerating passing the flu around like it’s a pair of comfortable old jeans either. We don’t have to do that. Just wearing a mask and getting vaccinated will break that cycle too.

By Jan. 31, there had been only six cases of flu diagnosed this season at Johns Hopkins hospitals, including The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Howard County General Hospital, Sibley Memorial Hospital, Suburban Hospital and Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. Those hospitals saw 4,805 cases in the 2019–20 season, and 2,846 in the 2018–19 season.

Vaccinations have also helped prevent infection. More Americans received the flu vaccine this season than in the previous four flu seasons, according to the CDC. By the end of January 2021, 193.2 million people had been vaccinated, compared with 173.3 million at that time last year.

hopkinsmedicine.org

So get your damn shots and mask up. Be thankful that we aren’t like several other countries that require you to get your shots before you are allowed to do anything in public. A large and growing portion of Americans think that these sorts of measures will be required to end this pandemic. Do the right thing before we make it the only thing you can do.

twitter

What Would Bunk Do?

He was known as Bunk to friends and family and he carried that nickname all his life. He earned that name fair and square at a very early age by retorting “that’s a load of bunk ” after being told something that he thought was bullshit. Bullshit was the kind of word he would reserve for private reflections on the bunk he encountered, but he knew bullshit when he smelled it all the same. You don’t have to be offensive in your rejection of other’s ideas. It was enough to simply dispute them, and he did that with emphasis.

He was a science man through and through. If you could prove a thing through trial and error, then that thing was a true thing and he stuck with it. His family grew to accept his judgements after awhile. What he said proved to be the thing that needed doing so often that most of them rarely bothered to disagree with him publicly. Sometimes when they encountered problems in their own lives and he wasn’t there to ask, they would even quietly ask themselves “What Would Bunk Do?”

He grew set in his ways, like most of us do as we get older, certain of many things that could not be proven. More and more of them as time went on. Not all experts are wise, and not all wise men are experts. The doctors that advised his last cancer treatment were of the first variety, and neither he nor they thought to look for men of the second variety to double-check their diagnosis. Blind faith in the practitioners of science can kill you just as surely as blind faith in anything else will.

The moral of this story is to always ask for a second opinion if not a third opinion and a forth one if necessary. Do not ask to find an opinion you agree with. Ask to find one that you disagree with, and then figure out why the disagreement exists. New technology can be a weapon when wielded by the wrong hands. Make sure you understand how it works, or at least that the experts you rely on understand it.

Bunk died in 1997 and so was spared from the insanity that has plagued this country he loved so much since that time. Still, I have little doubt that he would have declared today’s COVID vaccine hesitation a load of bunk given the situation we are in today. The science denial has gotten too obvious on its face. Its adherents too strident in their denial. The costs to the country and to the world are too high to not concede that vaccination is the way out of this mess.

I got my COVID booster shot today. I got my first dose as soon as the vaccine was available:

I had my doubts about mRNA vaccines at first. I had even more doubts that a vaccine created by Donald Trump’s (lack of an) administration could possibly create anything that worked.

Planet Money – Moonshot in the arm – November 5, 2021

It wasn’t until Dr. Fauci accepted the vaccine that I knew it was probably safe and that I could accept it for myself. I got second and third and forth opinions, too. Then I got my vaccination and tried to pretend that the world would go back to normal.

Unfortunately the Trumpists whose God-Emperor had decreed that the vaccines be made won’t allow themselves to be vaccinated because he also said the pandemic was a hoax and that the virus was no different than influenza or a cold. This is demonstrably untrue.

That all kinds of other treatments work against this hoax virus better than vaccines do. Why you need a treatment for a hoax is beyond me, but that hasn’t stopped dozens if not hundreds of people from poisoning themselves with the fake treatments that these con artists that work for and off of Trump are selling.

Six months have gone by since I got my first shot, which makes me eligible to get my booster shot.

Short Wave – How Long Does COVID Immunity Last Anyway? – September 21, 2021

This is the way immunology works. Some people get break-through infections after being vaccinated. This is what the percentage means when they say that a vaccine is XX% effective. the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were 90% effective against the SARS2 virus that was circulating a year ago. They are both going to be less effective against the mutations that are currently circulating.

Why? Because the unvaccinated give the virus a chance to bypass the protection a vaccine offers by carrying their mutations near the vaccinated and thereby giving the virus a chance to test itself against the vaccine. Each new infection of a vaccinated person brings us one step closer to a new virus that can bypass the therapies completely, and then we will be back to square one again. Locked in our houses and hoping that something will happen that will release us from this hell that science denial has brought on us.

I’m beginning to doubt that we deserve to be saved from our own stupidity. But I got my booster anyway because there is still a chance that we might beat this thing. If we grow up. If we accept that science is real. If we ensure that the virus can’t spread by making everyone on the planet get their vaccinations.

Don’t tell me you are afraid of needles because you can’t be more afraid of them than I am (see the vaccination article) Don’t tell me that you don’t believe in vaccines or that this is all political bullshit. Science is real and people are really dying. Bunk would say “get your shots” in spite of the fact that some other sciences in today’s world would give him reason to question their veracity. Vaccinations are proven technology and they work if you get them. So get them so we can put this pandemic behind us. Please?

And someone wrote new words to an old hymn, and crowds sang it for the weeks it took to end the rotten regime. “Bring out your dead, there is no need for shame. Show every face and let us hear each name. Better to know, how many we have lost…than lie and say that no such deaths have cost…”

elizabethmoon.com
Addendum

The pandemic has cost more than 793,000 American lives to date and we can’t afford to allow the unvaccinated to continue to help this illness spread and mutate. The vaccine has been cleared for almost all ages, all health conditions and is by far safer than risking the effects of the disease.  The Winter holidays are happening as I write this. Prove that you love your family by ensuring their best possible chances of health and prosperity in the new year by being vaccinated and making sure your family is vaccinated.

Tell that uncle or aunt, grandmother, grandfather or even young nieces nephews and cousins. Tell them to get vaccinated or they are not welcome at family gatherings. I’ve listened to dozens of podcasts and read dozens of news stories about how to thread the conflicts of this time we find ourselves in. I don’t understand why opening the conversation with the truth is a bad thing. “Get vaccinated or don’t come to my home. Get vaccinated or I won’t go to your home.” This strikes me as a completely reasonable position to take, especially if you know that there are going to be people who could die from airborne diseases at the family gathering. State the rule clearly and right up front. Claiming any excuse to not be vaccinated is just a load of bunk.

Beware the Woo: Pox Party

Was mich nicht umbringt macht mich stärker

Friedrich Nietzsche

Back at the dawn of time, before there was modern medicine, there was the flawed notion that the thing that didn’t kill you made you stronger. A broken bone healed back stronger than the original bone. Surviving a childhood disease meant that you had a better chance of surviving being exposed to the disease as an adult.

None of this is actually true. A broken bone is more brittle at the point of breakage and will tend to break again. Childhood diseases can cause adult diseases that are even worse. Adversity can hone tenacity, but adversity also hardens hearts and warps desires. One does not walk causally into fire hoping to get scars. That would be stupid.

My mother was a Christian Scientist. She didn’t believe in science or medicine in a general sense. Medicine had killed her mother as far as she was concerned, and she never forgave it for doing that. This was also not true, but there was little point in arguing with her about the facts of health, disease, and the slow acquisition of knowledge. My mother went to her death denying she had cancer and refusing treatments for the cancer that she had been diagnosed with. This is what happens when you deny science. When you deny reality.

One of my earliest childhood memories is of staying a few days at a friend’s house for a pox party when he was infected with some disease or other that caused little red pustules to appear on your skin. This had been a common practice in generations previous to mine. In the time before vaccines were available for the many kinds of infections that can kill us. Some diseases, it was decided, were better to catch as a child because the disease caught as an adult could kill you much easier.

The people back in the early 1900’s didn’t know about Shingles or the fact that it was caused by the same virus that caused Chicken Pox because they had no tools that could discover these tiny bits of life code that float freely around us and in us. Not until the creation of more powerful microscopes could they see that there were infectious agents even smaller than bacteria, and it was decades after that before they could sequence the DNA and determine which viruses did what things to people.

They just knew that sickness was all around them, and that children were stronger than adults were. Sometimes these children died from the infections they were exposed to, but those were the weak children anyway. At least, that is what the parents of the surviving children told themselves. By 1968(ish) when I was taken to the pox party that I remember, there were vaccines for most of these infectious diseases, and the children around me had been vaccinated with the early versions of the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) That vaccination is on my shot record as being given to me and it would have been required of all the other children, too. There was no vaccine for Chicken Pox until long after I was too old to get it, though.

Ever anxious to engage in whatever alternative medicine that was being practiced around her, my mother dutifully surrendered me to the quarantined house and I was exposed to whatever it was that my friend was sick with. He had a pretty bad infection, and several of the children who stayed with him also had pretty bad infections. None of them seemed to lead to any complications, but it is hard to judge the harm of an action until some time afterwards. The virus that causes Chicken Pox is one of the herpes family of virus, it stays with you all your life once you have caught it and causes Shingles in old age.

I had been exposed to some form of herpes virus when I was born. Being exposed to its cousin may or may not have done anything to my immune system, it is really hard to say. What I do know is that I never had a rash like the other children had and I always wondered why that was. Knowing what I know now, I wonder if the previous encounters with herpes had primed my immune system to ward off its cousin, or if the same immunity blindness that allowed the one to persist would also allow the other to persist?

In any case, I wasn’t interested in experiencing the slow torture that Shingles wreaks on its sufferers so I opted for the Shingrix vaccine a month or so ago. I just wanted to see what the vaccination did to my system and whether it altered the symptoms of Meniere’s or not.

Contrasting that vaccination with the COVID vaccination and my previous experiences with other vaccines, I have to say that the pain levels came close to echoing the Pneumococcal vaccine without the golf ball sized lymph nodes that made the experience so weird and hard to endure. I can’t tell yet if the vaccine will do anything positive or negative with Meniere’s symptoms but at least I probably won’t be getting Shingles anytime in the future, knock on wood. (promptly bashes self in skull)

For all you young mothers out there I just want to say, don’t take your children to pox parties. Just don’t do that. You never know what the other children are sick with; and if you think you do know and trust the doctor’s diagnosis of the disease (this is the only way to be sure) then why don’t you trust his recommendations for treatment too? Get your children vaccinated and stop this insanity please.

Biden vs. Reagan

For the past thirty years, every single time we’ve had a new President, that first year of the new president, the president’s party lost both the Virginia governor and the New Jersey governor. Every single time.

Except this time Democrats didn’t lose New Jersey. In a rational world this would not be a cause for Democratic panic. Quite the contrary.

Democrats have beat the odds. They’ve done better than everybody’s done going back to the great communicator, Ronald Reagan, who’s the last president who pulled this off.

The last time a president managed to only lose one of those governorships in the first year he was in office, it was the great communicator himself Ronald Reagan.

Biden has done something that no other President has been able to do since Reagan. You would think this would be cause for celebration in the Democratic party.

Rachel Maddow – November 3, 2021
spotify

In the meantime, this is what has happened to the party of Reagan:

dallasnews.com

Scores of QAnon believers gathered Tuesday afternoon in downtown Dallas in the hopes that John F. Kennedy Jr. would appear, heralding the reinstatement of Donald Trump as president.

dallasnews.com

Libertarian Vaccination Lunacy

I was rooting through my email today looking for spam. I don’t mean the ads for prescription drugs that you can’t buy legally; no I mean the daily if not hourly emailers that you have unwittingly asked to send you messages, and then they drown you in more information than you could possibly synthesize.

I found quite a few of those. Then, at the bottom of the barrel, I see a note from the Travis County Libertarians letting me know that they’ve moved their newsletter from the old Yahoo!Groups site to the new Google Groups site. Well bless their little hearts!

Being bored, in the middle of a task that I had put off for months if not years, I decided to see what was on the latest issue of the newsletter. Ah, the usual. Chat and chews are scheduled. I’ll be skipping those. I’d skip them anyway but I’ll definitely be skipping being face to face with the unvaccinated. The kind of people who think this ad represents any kind of deep thinking:

twitter.com

We can’t force people to get vaccinated? Tell that to the TB-tine scar on my arm. Not only can we force people to get vaccinated, we have before and we should be doing it again. That is how you get to herd immunity successfully, for fuck’s sake. That’s how we wiped out small pox and polio. We could have wiped out the measles, but antivaxxers like the ones that the Libertarian Party is appealing to in that ad have set us all back decades on that goal.

I mean, if they want to thumb their noses at Biden’s policies, Abbott has them beat:

Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday issued an executive order prohibiting any entity in Texas from mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for employees or consumers, an expansion of a prior order limited to government entities.

Abbott also asked lawmakers to tackle the issue during the current special legislative session, ensuring that “no entity in Texas can compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine.”

statesman.com

Why does Abbott have them beat? Because he has the office of the Governor, that’s why. Something they will never have because they will never be serious about winning races instead of grandstanding during the race. The libertarians that were serious about winning races became the Tea Party back in 2008, and they have made the Republican party the lunatic fringe that we all know and love today. They are all Trumpists, almost to a man now. The kind of people who will have to be lead to the end of the pandemic at the point of a gun, apparently.

Greg Abbott doesn’t have the power to stop Biden’s orders. Only the Republican delinquents in the Senate stand between effective governance and the anarchy that libertarians crave, and they hope like hell that the citizenry is dumb enough to keep voting Republican so that the government will finally crumble. Here’s hoping they are denied their wish, or if not, that they turn out happier with the results than the anarchists were who backed Stalin’s bid for power in Russia. They didn’t seem too pleased with being sent to the gulag for all their troubles.

Draconian Voter Restrictions

And Draco himself, they say, being asked why he made death the penalty for most offences, replied that in his opinion the lesser ones deserved it, and for the greater ones no heavier penalty could be found.

Plutarch, Life of Solon (wikipedia.org)

As we headed into summer of 2021, Democratic Texas senators fled the state in protest of Greg Abbott’s drive to stop people from voting for Democrats in the state. This isn’t the first time that Texas legislators have broken quorum, and it didn’t end any better this time than it did last time. Which is too bad because being a good citizen in Texas is already hard enough to do. We don’t need more laws keeping people from the polls and that is what this latest effort from the Trumpists who run Texas amounts to.

In the 2020 general election 60% of Texans showed up to vote, and the Republican oligopoly that runs Texas came closer to loosing control of the state than it has since Rick Perry took the Lt. Governor’s office from Bob Bullock in 2000 and flipped the last statewide office to Republican hands. 60% is one of the highest ever modern turnouts for Texas voters, and yet that is just barely over half of eligible Texans taking the time and the risk to go out and do their basic civic duty. Barely over half, and still the Republicans think that is too many people voting.

Finally facing the long-predicted blue wave surging across Texas, a blue wave fueled by young people of color swelling the ranks of minorities across the state, Republican leadership panicked. They panicked just like any threatened dictatorial regime would, and they passed even more restrictive laws to keep even more people from voting for their opponents in the next election. They passed these new laws over the steadfast opposition of the entire Democratic caucus; Democrats who are finally waking up to what it is that they will have to do to win in the South.

They have to win at the ballot box with new voters, and Republicans are dead set against allowing the formerly oppressed minorities the liberty of the ballot box, raising legal threats against anyone who dares to vote against them:

Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday called for Texas lawmakers to increase the penalty for illegal voting — less than a month after he signed a bill that lowers the maximum punishment.

texastribune.org

The reduced penalties were part of amendments that Democrats negotiated with Republicans to get into the bill in an attempt to soften the impact on citizenry who are caught up in the draconian new laws Republicans put in place this summer. Mercifully, the Democrats managed to get the provision to allow the Texas State legislature to reverse the will of the voting public removed from the bill, as well as softening punishment.

This was Texas voting law before this summer:

It’s harder [to vote in Texas] than in 49 other states, according to a “cost-of-voting index” compiled by political scientists at Northern Illinois University, Jacksonville University and Wuhan University in China.

texastribune.org

Now there are whole new classes of illegal voting created by the new laws demanded by Greg Abbott and his Trumpist cronies in the Texas state government, and the few things that Democrats managed to get changed in order to soften the burden on Texas voters are now being targeted for reversal.

Make no mistake here, Greg Abbott wants to force Texans to reelect him. That is his goal right now in pandering to the Trumpist voters that make up the majority of Texas Republicans. “Don’t primary me, I’m on your side. Nominate me again and we’ll stick it to those softy Democrats by hook or by crook.” This drive to increase penalties is just another attempt to terrorize Texans into voting for him. Vote for me or face punishment. Vote for me because I will make sure your voice is not heard no matter what you do:

“The story in Texas is very similar to the story across the United States. You’ve got urban areas that are increasingly disproportionately Democratic. And you’ve got rural areas that are disproportionately decreasing,” said Stephen Klineberg, a demographer at Rice University.

“You can’t prevent it. So redistricting becomes one of the major mechanisms by which the party that is in control of the senate, the house, and the governorship has really free rein now to redraw the districts to minimize the power of non-Anglos for the Republicans.”

theguardian.com

Greg Abbott say support him and his boss Donald Trump, or else. Support him the twice-impeached insurrectionist that created the pandemic we are still suffering under and currently is directing the actions of our Texas state government from his hideaway in Mar-a-Lago Florida. Are we Floridians now? Are we New Yorkers who must bow to the will of the corrupt land developers that own the government?

No. We are Texans and we have made it our mission to resist government in all forms since the day we told Santa Anna what he could do with his demand that we declare allegiance to him. Therefore, it is our patriotic duty to kick Greg Abbott and the rest of the Trump-loving fraudsters out of our state government. Wake up Texas and see just what the hell is really going on here.

reddit.com

Regression to the Mean

Republicans:

facebook.com/Stonekettle

facebook.com/Stonekettle

They have made their way for so long on the mantra of resistance and regression that they can’t comprehend a change that is necessary for thier own survival. They would rather die than admit that a tradition was wrong.

The tradition in this case being that the individual is paramount. There can be no such thing as a legitimate public health concern if the public is subservient to the individual. This is the error in accepting individualism as your only ideology.

Vaccine mandates are how this civilization will survive this crisis. It is the only way we will survive and not be swallowed up by the other societies who are instinctively capable of subsuming the individual to the will of the group.

We either force the insanely individualistic to submit to majority will in this instance, or we will devolve into small islands of localized authority that will be gobbled up by the next society to gain dominance in the new reality. The new reality that Donald Trump and his Republican party have made necessary by failing to stop the SARS-COV2 virus from spreading across the world.

This isn’t just about vaccine mandates, either:

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has signed a bill that aims to stop social media companies from banning users or nixing posts based solely on political opinions — the latest salvo by Republicans, who claim that these tech giants are censoring conservative users.

cbsnews.com

The Trumpists that run the Republican party are intent on seeing that their particular brand of insanity can’t be removed from the public arena. They have now given up on the idea of businesses being allowed to go their own way, the unbridled worship of the free market.

Businesses must now strictly conform to Republican views or they will face dire consequences:

If these companies comply with the Democrat order to turn over private information, they are in violation of federal law and subject to losing their ability to operate in the United States,” McCarthy said in Tuesday’s statement. “If companies still choose to violate federal law, a Republican majority will not forget and will stand with Americans to hold them fully accountable under the law.

Kevin McCarthy via politico.com

This is terrorism, no different than the terroristic threats issued by violent extremists and dictatorial governments elsewhere in the world. Republicans have proven themselves over and over again to be the kind of vicious bastards that would do the things that they threaten to do. Which is exactly the reason why the United States government should act to protect itself now, not wait for the next Congress or the next President to be elected from the Republican party to act in the manner they have already promised to act, and then have the gall to feign surprise at the promised retribution being delivered.

They are threatening us with violence, have been threatening us with violence for decades. These are the same people whose grandparents and great-grandparents joined the KKK and terrorized minority communities in order to get their way. The same people who filibustered against civil rights legislation and voting rights legislation before they switched parties and became Republicans.

They are the direct descendants of terrorists, and we cannot allow them to compete for power in this country any longer unless they are willing to renounce terror as a method of governing. Either they submit to the current government and its completely legitimate concerns for public health, for civil discourse; or the government should use its equally legitimate control of the use of force to ensure that they comply with the needs of society.

Enforced compliance, up to and including the disenfranchisement of the Republican party itself in favor of a party-less system that makes no allowances for party affiliation in the rules of government. The way that representative government in the United States should have been arranged for in the first place. The least amount of party interference in active government that can be achieved; through conscious, objectively designed rules that minimize factional disfunction in favor of just getting the necessary shit done.

The House passed a bill Tuesday that would both prevent a government shutdown and suspend the debt limit in a step toward preventing possible economic calamity.

The chamber approved the plan in a 220-211 vote. All Democrats voted for it and all Republicans opposed it.

As the bill heads to the Senate, Republicans are threatening to block it, which could leave Democrats scrambling to find another way to avoid a federal funding lapse — or even a first-ever default on U.S. debt. Worries about a looming default and the economic damage it would cause contributed to a U.S. stock market drubbing on Monday.

cnbc.com

Conservatism has now resumed it’s traditional place in the United States. It has regressed to its mean; blind support of tradition for tradition’s sake. Pursuit of power for power’s sake. The Republican party has ceased to function as a party that can govern and so consequently should be relegated to the back bench. We should allow some other party to take its place, or allow a combination of parties vie for the prime opposition spot.

We cannot allow public health to be treated as just another thing that we should expect the government to argue with itself about. The average American just wants to be allowed to live their life, and enforcing minimal public health standards will let that happen. Can we all just be allowed to go outside again, please? Get your damn shots.

Graveyard of Empires

I remember those days like a nightmare that you can’t seem to escape. I was walking to work from my remote parking space. I had been loaned out as a draftsman to another firm while working for Graeber, Simmons and Cowan back in 2001. I don’t recall the name of the firm, but I can point you to the building it was in on Congress Avenue if I happen to be driving with you downtown.

A plane had struck the North tower of the World Trade Center at some point during my drive to work that morning. I was late to work as usual when I was under a deadline and working late nights. The second plane struck not too long after we had all settled down to work that day, and I believe we were dismissed early because there was no use in pretending we were going to get anything done on the project with the kinds of things that were happening in the world that day.

I remember the second plane strike most vividly because it was one of the first times that I was forced to use the internet to get essential news updates, there being no television in the office I was working at. We watched the video of the crash over and over that morning, before leaving to go home and contemplate what we had just witnessed.

When the Travis County Libertarians convened later that week to try to pass an antiwar resolution, declaring that Travis County Libertarians were opposed to the war in Afghanistan that the President was proposing, I motioned to table the declaration. With a second and a majority vote, we did table it. The majority of us at that meeting that day knew that blood called out for blood. It was inevitable and probably right for the United States to seek vengeance against the instigators of the plot that destroyed those towers in New York City. I don’t regret doing that; even today, twenty years later I don’t regret it. I regret that we violated parliamentary procedure to get the resolution tabled, but not that we refused to say that the United States had no right to seek vengeance. Blood called out for blood.

By October 7, 2001, when the war against the Taliban started:

The U.S. military, with British support, begins a bombing campaign against Taliban forces, officially launching Operation Enduring Freedom. Canada, Australia, Germany, and France pledge future support. The wars early phase [PDF] mainly involves U.S. air strikes on al-Qaeda and Taliban forces that are assisted by a partnership of about one thousand U.S. special forces, the Northern Alliance, and ethnic Pashtun anti-Taliban forces. The first wave of conventional ground forces arrives twelve days later. Most of the ground combat is between the Taliban and its Afghan opponents.

cfr.org

I was actively planning to go overseas to help rebuild Afghanistan. They needed engineers and experienced construction personnel, and I wanted to put my money where my mouth was, my expertise to work at something that would hopefully inspire a lasting change in the country that had fostered so much hatred for the United States. This was a radical change from the teenager I had been a scant decade earlier. I was ready to go to jail rather than even register for the draft when I turned 18 in 1980. I was that opposed to war.

I knew that if we wanted to avoid a quagmire in Afghanistan, the Graveyard of Empires, it was going to take finesse and a deft hand on the tiller, and I hoped that the former Texas Governor was up to the job that he had signed himself up to perform as President of the United States. I wanted to be part of the success of that effort. I wanted the cycle we were caught in to end.

My hopes were soon dashed, though. By the middle of 2002, before I had made any headway in deciding if it would be smart to involve myself in Bush II’s ill-begotten war on terrorism, he was already taking his eye off the ball and had begun flirting with conducting a war against his daddy’s nemesis, Saddam Hussein:

There’s an old line: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” And so it was with the Iraq war. Bush and Clinton and Powell and Blair knew quite a bit that wasn’t true. As Robert Draper shows in his book “To Start a War: How the Bush Administration Took America Into Iraq,” they were certain Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Only he didn’t. They were also certain, based on decades of testimony from Iraqi expats, that Americans would be welcomed as liberators.

nytimes.com

We ultimately squandered the opportunity handed to us by our allies in Afghanistan. Instead of pursuing a limited campaign that would destroy Al Qaeda and kill Osama Bin Laden, George W. Bush betrayed the needs of the nation and instead pursued imperial goals, trying to bring more countries under the direct control of the United States military through a permanent troop presence and a widening field of battle that essentially encompassed the entire globe, much less all of Afghanistan.

Osama Bin Laden left Afghanistan while we were distracted and took up residence under the protection of one of our purported allies, Pakistan. He lived in hiding there for another decade while our President’s dreams of empire were pursued at our nation’s expense. At the cost of nearly a million lives. Iraq’s government was destroyed and the entire region was destabilized because of the War on Terror. President Bush played right into OBL’s hands and attempted to colonize not just Afghanistan but Iraq as well.

We betrayed our allies, the Northern Alliance, the people who should have been the tip of the spear in everything we did in Afghanistan so as to keep our footprint in the country to a minimum, and instead tried to occupy the country. Time and again it was shown to us that this effort was doomed, and yet we kept doubling down on the investment of blood and treasure, with no one in leadership willing to admit that we were never going to be able to leave the country that we stupidly thought we could control.

We know now what that error has cost us. Has cost the people of Afghanistan. Twenty years later, the United States lead war in Afghanistan has finally come to an end, and the war between conservative governing factions in Afghanistan is set to begin. No one knows how long that war will rage, or what the ultimate outcome will be, but there is little doubt that the next war in Afghanistan is about to begin. Begin without our presence for the first time in a generation.

Donald Trump, the only president in history worse that George W. Bush, was left in charge of the United States when it came time to cut a deal to get us out of Afghanistan. President Obama could have done it, should have done it, but he thought he could turn that sow’s ear into a silk purse (the same hope of every leader left in charge of a debacle in the making) and kept us fighting an unwinnable war for the entire eight years of his Presidency.

Barack Obama, to his credit, did finally see to the death of the architect of the attacks on our country, but he failed to realize that with the death of OBL we no longer had a reason to stay in Afghanistan. We should have gotten out then, at least. Instead we kept lying to ourselves about what the ultimate outcome of the boondoggle would be. Another ten years went by.

Donald Trump, in his infinite lack of wisdom, decided the smart thing to do was hand the country of Afghanistan back over to the people we had fought for twenty years. He released the prisoners of war that we had captured and had them sign his peace deal, tying the hands of Joe Biden to the August 31st deadline that we have just gone through.

The Ezra Klein ShowThe Foreign Policy Conversation Washington Doesn’t Want to Have

Make no mistake, Joe Biden understood what needed to be done when he was Barack Obama’s Vice President. He opposed the surge. He wanted us to get out of Afghanistan sooner rather than later. As Ezra sums up in his article in the NY Times, it was always going to end this way. President Biden knew this just as well as Ezra’s guest in the podcast embedded above knows this.

There was never going to be a time when the coddled, corrupt Afghan puppet that we installed as leader of the country was going to be willing to risk his life for the country that we created. The same clearly went for all of the military personnel that we meticulously trained alongside us for twenty years in-country. Without leadership that would stand firm beside them they would melt away, leaving all the technology we had left in their hands in the hands of the enemies that Donald Trump put in charge with a stroke of his pen.

The Northern Alliance might have been up to the task if we had allowed them to lead, to put their blood and treasure on the line as the cost of not supporting the central government in Kabul. We’ll never know, because that eventuality never occurred. Instead we colonized and set up a puppet government just like we did in Vietnam; and the entire façade collapsed without our constant support, also just like Vietnam.

Now. Now we need to be working with Afghanistan’s neighbors to insure that it doesn’t devolve into the hellhole the Taliban made of it before. If we don’t do this work then we will find ourselves once again drawn into conflict there sometime in the future. Drawn into conflict or attacked by terrorists that found safe harbor there just as they did before. This outcome can’t be allowed to occur; and the only way to stop it is to help make Afghanistan the place it should have been all those years ago when we decided to continue being an empire instead of being a republic of fellow humans that needed to see past wrongs righted and the guilty brought to justice.

How can we, the country that still can’t come to peace with its own slave history, its own genocide of the original population of the land our country was founded on, how can we hope to ever show others how they can move past the point were blood calls out for blood? Who else is there that will do this work if we don’t?

facebook.com/Stonekettle

Featured image from: warfarehistorynetwork.com