Childhood Poverty

Democracies cannot persist with the kind of income inequalities that we have, and the lack of economic mobility that we have, forever. It is true that children have no lobbyists in Washington D.C. and that may be one of the reasons why; you know, I’ve been there on the floor late at night when people are breaking their back at the end of the year before they go home for the holidays, to make sure rich people’s tax cuts are extended, to make sure that tax cuts for the largest corporations are extended.

When it came to children living in this country, Washington just went home.

Senator Michael Bennet
The Economist – How did America find the answer to its child poverty problem — and then abandon it?

LAST YEAR it looked like America had found the solution to child poverty: spend more. The expanded child tax credit is thought to have lifted around 3.7m children out of poverty. But the legislation expired and rates shot back up. How did America find the answer to a long-running problem, only to abandon it?

The Economist (still looking for a gift subscription)

We are 38th out of the 41 industrialized countries in the world when it comes to child poverty. Parents cannot work and raise children, they have to either work or raise children. I know because I lived in a single parent household from the age of 14 until I found a decent job and moved out of my mother’s house. I raised her children because she was at work all the time. That was 1977-1983, the longest six years of my life.

We treat children like an afterthought here in the US. We certainly don’t spend the time or money to make sure that they are fed, housed, clothed and given access to the educations that they need to thrive. Children are the future and the future is everyone’s problem, not just the parent’s problem. If we had half a brain in this country, we’d be spending far more than what the child tax credit gave to the poor children of America.

Remember this when you go to the polls in November. Republicans and that wannabe Republican Joe Manchin put 3 million children back into poverty. Vote to get them out of poverty again.

Featured image: npr.org/child-tax-credit-poverty

Ukraine. A Russian Civil War?

if the Russian leadership does not want to sit at the table with us for the sake of peace, perhaps it will sit at the table with you. Do Russians want war? I would very much like to answer this question, but the answer depends on you, the citizens of the Russian Federation.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy – Feb. 23, 2022

I’ve never been a fan of a foreign leader before. I have a fanboy crush on Volodymyr Zelenskyy (Who doesn’t these days?) I think I have to reveal my crush right up front in this article because I’m not thinking clearly right now. Or maybe I’m finaally thinking clearly for the first time in years. Who knows? What I know is that I love Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Despite all the odds, he stood up to Vladimir Putin’s aggression and has defined courage for the world in the current European crisis:

I need ammunition, not a ride

cnn.com

facebook

…and inspired the citizens of the world to come together in support of his country. I love the guy. If I was 20 right now I’d get on a plane and fly to Ukraine to fight beside him in defense of him and his people and their homes. His is a profile in courage.

Stonekettle asked the collective consciousness of Twitter back on February 19th:

twitter/Stonekettle

That is the essential question here; should we support Ukraine or not? We being the United States in this question means that there is no easy answer. Each individual can make that choice for themselves, certainly. However, this isn’t a question that can be answered with a single word, positive or negative when it comes to the participation of outside groups in what amounts to a regional power struggle.

Modern warfare is evil incarnate and this makes it hard to justify any action that isn’t self defensive in nature. Is it in our own defense to save Ukraine from Russian aggression? That is a difficult question to answer with anything other than a regretful no or a twenty page essay explaining why it should be yes but can’t be.

twitter

What follows will probably a twenty page essay. We’ll start with a grammar lesson. It is Ukraine not the Ukraine. It is a country, not just a place, no matter what Vladimir Putin says. You don’t go around saying “we’re going to the Texas” unless you’re going visit the battleship museum. It’s Texas or Ukraine. It is the name of a country or a state.

The United States of America is a union of states or nations. That’s why it was historically referred to as a union or The Union. The United States was never supposed to be the name of the country. They argued about the name for a long time, just like they argued about what to call the office of the president until just giving up and referring to him as the President (a practice that has spread widely) they gave up on giving the collection of states or nations another name, and just used the kludge of a name that was on the Constitution itself.

It’s quite possible that this was a signal of the imperial aspirations of the founders. They knew that there was a lot more land out there to conquer to their west, not to mention to the North and the South, before they ever needed to worry about the phrase of America in the name on the founding document.

Both the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and the European Union (EU) were styled after the founding ideals of the United States; principally, the enrichment of the powerful inside those unions, clothed in the garb of caring for the general welfare of the masses of its residents. Neither of those Unions bothered with popular direct elections for representatives for those bodies. The powerful within the United States have come to regret including those provisions in their documents.

Providence, Rhode Island is a city, county, state and nation all at the same time. Let that understanding sink in for a minute. All fifty states are nations tied together within a federal structure, yet retaining independent laws and governing structures. The only interests of the various states that were ceded to the federal government were the issues of interstate trade and the relationships with foreign governments. Everything else was and in a general sense still is an internal issue to be settled within the state itself. This arrangement has the advantage of hiding from view most of the politics that matter for governing inside the United States.

You don’t get a view of local politics unless you dig for it; ask any resident of any decent sized town whether they care more about their local infrastructure or their federal government’s policies. Anyone with an understanding of just how precarious our system is will know that the politics that really matters is local politics. It determines the priorities of all the levels above it that can interfere with its operation.

When that power structure is reversed the result is almost certainly catastrophic. Case in point; the recurring lack of preparation or understanding on the part of the whole state of Texas has led to individual suffering on an unprecedented level all across the state. Power outages, healthcare unavailability, etcetera. The city has to be able to act to protect itself or it becomes the victim of charlatans and demagogues. Governor Greg Abbott submitted as exhibition A for the court’s perusal.

All governmental requirements radiate out from the needs of individuals that go unmet; whether those requirements are more doctors or more police officers. More housing or more jails. Federal mandates almost always miss their targets because federal mandates almost never take the needs of the suffering into consideration. That level of granularity is almost beyond grasping from the distance of the White House whether the White House is at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or 1010 Colorado Street.

The problem of Ukraine being frequently referred to as the Ukraine is easily understood. I’ve done this too, refer to it as a place by putting “the” in front of it. This was a forgivable act when Ukraine and Ukrainians were inside the USSR or just a key part of the Russian empire. The Soviet Union was largely a face-saving measure designed to mask the hands of Vladimir Lenin and then Joseph Stalin controlling the daily lives of millions of Russian people directly. That was their desire. The leader of the Soviet Union couldn’t call himself a Czar and get away with it. After all, the whole revolution had been fought to get rid of the Czar, hadn’t it?

So Joseph Stalin took a different title after he arranged his ascension to power, but he held pretty much the same power as the Czar; and life went on in the USSR under different management, the lot of the common people possibly worse than it had been under the Czar but nobody being willing to say anything about it. Ukrainians no different than Poles, no different than Czechs no different than Kazakhs, Tajiks or Tatars. All suffering equally under the yoke of the new leadership.

Ukraine was a country though. The primordial Marxist state that Lenin and his Bolshevik’s created out of the ruins of the former Russian Empire engineered a compromise to maintain control of those lands. Granted them all a measure of cultural autonomy within the bounds of the Soviet Union’s authoritarian political control. Stalin gave the Crimea to Ukraine. That’s how Crimea came to be part of Ukraine (Crimean war, anybody? 1856 too far back in history?) Then Stalin died and not too long after he died his empire crumbled as empires tend to do without the leaders that created them.

reddit

Throughline – Ukraine’s Dangerous Independence – March 10, 2022

What the Bolsheviks and Lenin did really for the first time, they created a separate state, a separate institutions and a separate territory for Russia, which became known as the Russian Federation. Separating, at least symbolically, for the first time Russia proper from what used to be the Russian empire. Before that, there was no such separation.

Serhii Plokhii

Russia was a creation of the Bolsheviks, not Ukraine. What is the true Russian state? That’s a good question. A better question is, can there be a true Russian state and why does it have to be just one state?

As a typically educated person in the middle of the American West I was shocked and outraged while watching all the maps I had spent so much time trying to learn and understand change overnight. So many more countries to try to keep track of. Gone were the days when the Northern half of the Eurasian continent was engulfed in a sea of red with a yellow hammer and sickle on it. What was most puzzling to me, as an outsider, was the breakup of what I had thought of as traditionally Russian countries. How could there be three Russian governments?

That is what also seems to puzzle Vladimir Putin. He has done his best to preserve as much of the historical Russian empire under some semblance of Moscow control since he took control of Russia in the 1990’s. Crushing rebellions here, subverting elections there, the kinds of things that a leader with imperial aspirations engages in.

It seems like we’ve been on tenterhooks over the subject of Ukraine forever here in the United States. I know I’ve written several articles on the subject dating back to the release of Dan Carlin’s Common Sense podcast #270 Poking the Bear in 2014. When Putin-backed insurgents shot down a civilian airliner over Ukraine later that year, I was done listening to anyone who was sympathetic to Putin’s empire re-building effort. It was Obama’s reaction to Putin’s aggression in Ukraine in 2014 (too strong or too weak? it’s hard to say) that put us on the course to where we are now in history.

It was obvious to me then, just as it remains obvious to me now, that if the United States is a free country then its citizens can and should go where they like and agitate for change that some governments may or may not approve of. Even take up arms against governments against the sincerely expressed wishes of the United States government. If we are free, then we are free to do these things, too.

It is virtually impossible to discern the difference between a non-government organization (NGO) working for democracy and economic reform for its own unique purposes, and NGO’s that have been infiltrated by the CIA or any other nation’s intelligence service. If the intelligence services are doing their jobs properly, ALL OF THEM have been infiltrated by all of the intelligence services, and the various NGO’s should take this fact into account when they go about doing the business they are doing.

However, there remains a difference between acting in accordance with your government’s wishes, and acting on the orders of your government’s officers (where Buchanan’s predictions fail) Putin has had NGO’s working in the United States for every bit as long as any American NGO has been working in Ukraine, and it never started American’s thinking that Russia was trying to control its citizenry. We let Russia Today (RT) run unfettered promotions of Donald Trump for a year and never even thought to ask why RT loved Donald Trump so much.

The results of the NGO’s and the US government’s combined campaigns in Ukraine, stamping out corruption, un-rigging the electoral process, were that Viktor Yanukovych lost the Ukrainian Presidential elections that were called in 2014 after he acted against the expressed wishes of the Ukrainian people. In a huff, Vlad the Corrupter invaded and annexed Crimea, his preferred summer vacation spot. Queue the outrage from everyone who thought that Ukraine was Russian all along. Add to it the fearful outrage of people who will do anything to avoid a confrontation with Vladimir Putin on the international stage. Queue my exodus from Dan Carlin’s listening circle due to his clueless insistence that Pat Buchanan was some kind of a reputable psychic, as if that phrase isn’t an oxymoron in and of itself.

Vlad the Corrupter then sits and waits for the resulting storm to calm, rigging foreign elections and screwing up other governments all the while in hope of being allowed to do what he is doing right now. The invasion has taken longer to happen than I expected, that is the only surprising thing about it.

The Russian interference in the the 2016 election that put Donald Trump into the White House was one of the responses to the sanctions that President Obama imposed in 2014 after Putin annexed Crimea. We know this because Trump promised to get the sanctions lifted and then had to backtrack on the promise when it became public (the idiot never could figure out how not to say the quiet parts out loud) Fast forward to 2018 and Donald Trump’s attempt to blackmail Ukraine into playing dirty tricks in the 2020 elections lead to his first impeachment.

thebulwark.com

Ukraine just can’t seem to leave the front page. I’m sure they’d like to. Fast forward again to 2022. Putin continues his aborted invasion from 2014. He was always going to do this just like the United States was always going to invade Iraq under a Republican president. It was always the plan. Invading Ukraine was what he planned when his puppet (Paul Manafort’s buddy, Viktor Yanukovych. You remember Paul Manafort, right? Trump’s campaign chairman?) lost his election.

It is a sad historical truth that Ukraine was stupid to have ever given up it’s nukes. The preservation of Ukraine’s independence that all concerned parties signed onto (including Vlad himself) in exchange for Ukraine giving up the nukes stored inside of its national borders was just the initial move in an undeclared war. If Ukraine still had nuclear weapons we would not be seeing this invasion live on screens today. Is it really any wonder why Iran wants nuclear weapons? It should be obvious by now. If you have the ability to destroy life as we know it at your fingertips, people take you seriously. Weird how that works, isn’t it?

facebook

Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons in 1994, Zelensky said, in return for a security guarantee signed by the U.S., the U.K., and Russia. What happened to those guarantees? Ukraine had been told that the doors to NATO membership remained open, but Ukraine had never been invited inside. Because the Ukrainians are not members of NATO, they know they cannot count on allied forces to come to their support. And as for those “lessons of history” that Baerbock and other German politicians have referred to in recent days, Zelensky wondered aloud whether they had been learned: “I just want to make sure you and I read the same books.” And then, in defiance of everything that everybody else had said, he used the word appeasement, to describe not Munich in 1938, but Munich in 2022.

Anne Applebaum – theatlantic.com (gift subscription for the blog author still greatly desired)

At the end of the day, it’s going to be the Ukrainians and their bravery and their dedication to this very old idea, the idea of sovereignty, the idea of freedom. It will be their dedication to that that determines what happens.

Anne Applebaum – Rachel Maddow – Feb. 21, 2022

The fog of war has descended now. Nobody can have all the facts any longer and yet facts still remain facts and facts are generally indisputable.

Here’s a fact; Putin is behaving like a new Hitler. Hitler’s bullshit excuse for claiming the Sudetenland and starting World War Two is exactly the same language that Vladimir Putin used to claim his right to invade and occupy Ukraine. There is no other conclusion that can be made when looking at that speech made by Vlad the Corrupter. He is Hitler, and he is bent on a reconquest of historically Russian possessions with majority Russian speakers.

That is what it looks like from the UK, it’s what it looks like from France and Germany and from the Balkan states that are right now very, very thankful that they joined NATO. Putin being a twenty-first century Hitler is what it looks like when you see any Ukrainian being interviewed; whether they are in the UK worried about relatives or in Kyiv worried about what’s going to happen next. If they are being interviewed on the BBC, maybe the BBC has an agenda, maybe they don’t, but they are interviewing ordinary, regular people; people who probably would be sitting at home watching TV at that precise moment and would prefer to not be interviewed by anybody except that a lot of shit is happening right now. Shit that has forced two million Ukrainians to leave their homes in fear.

(h/t to Stuart Surridge)

Ukraine was recognized as an independent state by Russia more than 30 years ago. The Charter of Paris, signed in November 1990 by the United States, Russia and 30 European countries, established essential principles for a post-Cold War era based on international law and global norms. Subsequently, Russia, the United States and Great Britain guaranteed the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine in 1995 in the Budapest Memorandum.

Moscow has no more legal basis to insist on any portion of the territory of Ukraine than Germany has the right to demand the return of Alsace and Lorraine from France. If the West accepts such Russian claims, it will not only undermine the sovereignty of all countries but also invite other nations to seek territory through military force.

nbcnews.com

I would prefer that there was never another war but that has no bearing on whether Putin is an aggressor or that Volodymyr Zelenskyy was heroic when he chose to stay with his people and fight to the bitter end. If the US had supported a real leader during our fiasco in Afghanistan the Taliban would not be in power there now. Volodymyr Zelenskyy is a real leader.

facebook

Ukraine has been an independent state for thirty years. It’s President will likely give his life for his country as will many thousands of it’s men, women and children. It is time and long past time to start treating it the way we do every other country; and with Ukraine, Belarus and Russia now being separate governments today, separate governments and distinctly unique peoples, it is long past time to admit that there is no longer a Russian empire. There are just the three countries who were once the core of the empire, two of which are lead by the same cruel little spider, Vlad the Corrupter in Moscow.

All of this is aside from the fact that we, the United States government, cannot be allowed to be seen as starting a war in Europe, which is what it will look like if we were to interfere in Ukraine directly now or in the near future. What is going on in Europe is a Russian or Eastern Slavic Civil War, no different than all the other uprisings that Vlad the Corrupter has put down in the former Soviet Republics. He saw all of them as the unwanted intervention of the United States and its allies and accomplices in strictly Russian affairs. Up to this point, he has been allowed to do what he wants with these places.

spotifyCommon Sense 323 – Gas Up the Cold War – March 1, 2022

I don’t like any of this in terms of how it worked out because I don’t want a more militarized Europe, I don’t want another cold war, I don’t want the massive defense spending, I don’t want everything that this is going to entail; but I’m not the one that invaded Ukraine. Sometimes it’s not up to us what we want.

Dan Carlin

If you grew up during the Cold War you can understand why most people don’t want to return to those years, and resuming hostilities with Russia because of Vlad the Corrupter’s actions feels a lot like the cold war is starting back up again. However, this isn’t a return to the cold war if we can keep Ukraine independent and opposed to Russian control.

…And we want to avoid a return to the cold war almost as much as we want to avoid a nuclear Armageddon. That outcome would be a setback for world peace and our need for mutual cooperation on limiting climate change. The world-wide antagonism that comes with a return to a cold war footing that might as well be read as the end of life as we know it on this planet, much the same as an all-out nuclear war will spell the end of life.

It isn’t a nuclear exchange that I fear. We are already in WW3 as far as I can tell and it may well end in a nuclear exchange for all that any of us can tell. What I fear is capitulation to Russia on the one hand and the resulting rise of authoritarianism around the world that would follow; as opposed to the standard American military response that will end in a nuclear exchange at some point.

On the other end of the spectrum from Dan Carlin’s handwringing about potentially starting a nuclear war we have this:

We must not only stop what’s happening in Ukraine, we must stop it before it happens here. 

Stonekettle

We cannot go into Ukraine and fight Russians directly. That is the conflict that every nationalist everywhere has been primed to fight to the death over. Being in the war should not equate to “running the war.” We must avoid that impression at all costs if we want any chance of victory for democracy and Ukraine. This has to be, first and foremost, Ukraine’s war against Russian aggression. Against Putin’s aggression, his denial of their own separate personhood as a nation. As individuals who don’t want to bow down to his criminal organization.

The United States needs to figure out how to assist Ukraine and the wider European theater of operation without making the conflict all about us. It ain’t about us. It’s about Ukrainians not wanting to belong to Vladimir Putin’s Russia. IF WE RUN THIS WAR we will lose this war. There is nothing that Russians want more than to make the United States suffer after all the suffering they’ve been through, suffering they’ve been told is at our hands for more than seventy years now.

We can not be the center. Ukraine has to be the center. More to come.


I get most of my news from NPR:

spotifyNPR – State of Ukraine

Even though I don’t link any of their podcasts in this article. Most of what they broadcast is transitory. The feeds mount up and the information becomes stale and the attempt to narrativize the information becomes unwieldy very quickly.

Dirty Tricks Squad

Poland announced it would send its jets to the U.S. air base at Ramstein, Germany. That caught U.S. officials off guard. Later in the day, the Pentagon issued a statement saying flying planes from a U.S./NATO base in Germany into contested airspace wouldn’t work.

npr.org

So why can’t Ukrainian pilots just steal MIGs that Poland has conveniently anonymized? I mean, Putin would just leave Russian markings on his planes were the roles reversed, I’m not sure why we’re being so overly cautious with a guy who blatantly worked to alter our last three or four elections. He’s already declared war on us, he’s just as much as said so.

We need to start thinking like the kleptocrat that Vladimir Putin is, try to understand how a kleptocratic government would act before it acts, and then counter their avarice in advance. Clearly the intelligence agencies knew what Vladimir Putin was going to do next because their predictions came true. So what do they think we should do next? Can they think like a kleptocrat or do we need to put together a dirty tricks squad of our own just to figure what to do next?

Leave weapons just laying around for Ukrainians to steal from us? Would that work? “Hey, we didn’t give them anything, they stole it!” I mean, why not?

Russia is, after all, a country that stripped the markings from its soldiers’ uniforms in order to invade Ukraine while lying about it, and assassinated a defector in London by putting polonium in his tea. But cheating at sport and hacking e-mails to sway an American election are serious offences too.

economist.com

facebook. Featured image from: economist.com

The Wisdom of the Crowd Represented in Government

That would be the ideal. Unfortunately the ideal isn’t graspable in the real world. We’ll have to settle for snap elections and diligent public polling in the meantime. Imagine if that could work in the US today, right now?

Do we join Ukraine in fighting off Vladimir Putin’s aggression, yes or no? Vote now! Imagine the clarity we could get from a vote like that, if only we were allowed that freedom, the ability to decide important issues directly when the time required it?

What would the wisdom of the crowd be in this instance? No one can say because no one knows.

Wildcat

wildcatter is an individual who drills wildcat wells, which are exploration of oil wells drilled in areas not known to be oil fields. The term dates from the early oil industry in western Pennsylvania. Oil wells in unproven territory were called “wild cat” wells from mid-1870, and those who drilled them were called “wild-catters” by 1876.

wikipedia

The oil industry is all up in arms over the demand that they produce more oil now to compensate for the loss of Russian oil on the markets. They just can’t do it, they say. It’ll take a year, they project. There aren’t workers to do the jobs we need done, they complain. All of it is bullshit. All of it.

Two years ago the oil producers were begging for money from the government to cap and plug wells in West Texas and New Mexico. They were desperate to get active wells reclassified as orphan wells because the wells weren’t producing enough to pay the royalties due on them. Not at the negative oil prices then in effect. Now that the price is back in the familiar territories of $100+ a barrel, they’re saying there’s not enough oil and gas and so they have to charge exorbitant prices.

spotifyacast.com/theeconomist

It is true, the oil industry lost billions of dollars during the pandemic lockdowns. They and all the other industries that made their living on people intermingling and traveling across the globe to enjoy their vacations, all of them have had a rough two years of it.

The fact that the world economy is stretched thin is probably why Vladimir Putin picked now to start a Russian civil war in Ukraine and thereby causing the energy panic that has now gripped the world.

Look, Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country,” McCain said. “It’s kleptocracy. It’s corruption. It’s a nation that’s really only dependent upon oil and gas for their economy, and so economic sanctions are important.”

John McCain – JANUARY 8, 2015

More sanctions on oil? Americans were already complaining about high oil prices:

I would have sworn that everyone was onboard with oil prices rising so as to save the oil industry? That seemed to be the mantra under the last president. Now we can’t bear to pay too much for gasoline? Pick one, people. You can’t have it both ways.

NPR – State of Ukraine – Americans on low incomes are hit harder by high gas prices due to the war – March 9, 2022

I get it, the oil companies are posting record profits for the first time in two years. Great. Maybe they should suck up some of the increased cost instead of raising prices at the gasoline pumps? Sure, that sounds good. I’m sure the investors won’t squall about not getting their larger checks in the mail. Maybe they should squall. Maybe they should get out of the investment business if they think investment should be a certain bet. They aren’t and they shouldn’t be.

I guarantee you that if the US government lit a fire under oil company CEO’s asses they could go find some more oil tomorrow, not in a year. You might not see an increased flow of oil for a few months, but then we shouldn’t see a serious tightening in oil and gasoline availability for a few months, either. It won’t do much good for the political maneuvers that need to be conducted right now, but that is how things work out in the real world.

As for there not being workers, that is a flat-out lie. There are plenty of people willing to work if you’ll pay them. That is the catch, after all. The cost of living has gone up in cities across the nation. You can no longer work for even fifteen dollars an hour and be able to afford a place in most major cities. You should pay no more than 30% of your wages on housing costs and apartments average out around 1500 in Austin. One person living alone might be able to swing the cost of an apartment, but that is a dead-end life of no love, no children and no fun.

My grandfather was raised in Kansas. He used to tell me stories of working on his Uncle’s farm just outside of Scott, Kansas. When he decided it was time to go out and make his mark in the world, he moved to Texas and started working in the then newly discovered oil patch. Over the course of ten or fifteen years he made enough money to buy a large spread of land in the next county over from his Uncle’s. That is what being well-paid looks like. Workers who put in their time and then leave to go do the things they really want to do. Nobody wants to spend their life working the rigs in the oil field. Nobody should spend their whole life doing it unless they want it to be a pretty short life.

These days employers pay only what they are required to pay and then complain about how they can’t find quality work anymore. Why not try offering more money? There is a thing that every corporate leader expects these days, and it is a crime that this thing even exists. They call it the golden parachute. These benefits are paid out in addition to the outrageous stacks of cash that they are paid for every day they hold their jobs.

Oil executives should make less money than the roughnecks that work for them. This is a plain fact that can’t be stated baldly enough. Unless these guys are willing to get out on the rigs and do the dirty work along with their crews, they should be paid office scale for comfortable office work. Their benefits should include not being killed on the job. Not being maimed on the job. Not being forced out of work by repeated injuries that leave you disabled, but not disabled enough to earn disability benefits.

If you started paying the roughnecks the wages that they deserve, I guarantee you that you will get the workers you need to get oil out of the ground faster than we can use it. It has happened before and it can happen again. It just takes a willingness to put the chips on the table and force the play. Are you in, or are you out?

Featured image: Dallas Morning News – The Railroad Commission does what?

Postscript

I hate to break it to Fran Hart but substack is the blogger of 2019. Give it time. “I have a substack” will be derided like blogs are today in a very short order, especially with people like her publishing on the platform. If people come to my blog it’s because they think my writing is worth reading. I don’t have to force people to wade through my spam every day to get to what they want in their inboxes.

The oil price spike happened at the time that it did because the glut ended and the demand went up and the need to drill more became evident, not because of some mystical handwaving thing having to do with people not being willing to work. It is the boom/bust or profit/loss cycle. That’s all. No mystery to solve here.

The spike hit because American automakers stopped making cars and switched to monster trucks for morons who didn’t believe gas prices would go up again.

Dan Tolliver

Abbott’s Child Abuse

Abbott and his Trumpist cronies know no depths to which they will not descend:

As District Attorney of the most populous county in Texas, I oppose attempts by Gov. Abbott and Attorney General Paxton to designate life-saving care for transgender children as ‘child abuse.’ As a member of the LGBTQ community myself, I am particularly sensitive to the invidious nature of this order—it turns family members against each other at the expense of their children. It is a remnant of a hateful past that I had hoped our society had matured beyond. I will not prosecute any parent, any facility, or anyone else for providing medically appropriate care to transgender children. I will continue to enforce the Constitution and the state’s criminal laws to assure the greatest degree of freedom and order that we can achieve.

click2houston.com

I’ve gotten a couple of notifications now from people who make some sort of “Oh yeah? Well take this!” comment, and then they block me so I can’t see it. It’s cool, I do that too sometimes. Usually I make the abandoned reply a warning sign for like-minded people who think they know what the argument is about. There is little point in saying anything to the person that you will block because they won’t see it anyway.

Most people have no clue what the argument is about, just like this public debacle that is Abbott’s targeting of transgendered children. These children exist and the evangelical base that supports Abbott and Trump (Trumpists) would like to pretend there is a wave of medical and parental malpractice that must be countered by governmental action.

This is as much a figment of their overactive imaginations as any number of other things that I might mention here; but that is just another conversation I don’t want to have. It is sufficient for me to say that it is evil for Abbott to use these children as pawns in his reelection campaign. They are already suffering enough. They don’t need to be used this way by politically motivated religious zealots on a crusade.

Shame on all of you for doing this.

reddit

Parents of a trans child who reached out to Attorney General Ken Paxton over dinner are now under investigation for child abuse. from texas

There Are No Sides in Public Health

I said this the first time to a close friend of mine that I hadn’t contacted since before the pandemic started. To be honest, I’d pretty much stopped talking to him since Trump was elected. We’d gone to see a few movies in the intervening years, but it was clear that my road and his road had diverged at some point, and he has never been willing to tolerate differing ideas. I’m not exactly the tolerating type myself. In both cases this intolerance can probably be chalked up to too much Ayn Rand and not enough social conscience.

We were having a conversation about architecture that strayed into the subject of plague avoidance and that is when he said “looks like we’re on opposite sides of the coin about covid.” There are no sides to public health. It is regrettable that Republicans have decided that there are sides.

The wife chastised me about this exchange when I related it to her later. “Don’t you want to have friends?” Sure I want to have friends. I’d like to have family too. I’d prefer they were friends and family that had a clue about public health and critical thinking, but I don’t appear to have a lot of choice these days when it comes to friends and family.

There isn’t a side when it comes to public health. This isn’t a controversial statement; or rather it shouldn’t be controversial if what you value is science and health and you want to conserve those two things. If what you value is instead capitalism and unfettered freedom, then what you will get is the kind of plague spreaders that are running rampant around us today in the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Joe Rogan is the poster child for these magical-thinking, plague-spreading zombies around us all today. This bit of news trivia showed up in my inbox the other day:

Spotify said on Wednesday that it had begun removing [Neil Young]’s music from the streaming service, two days after he briefly posted a public letter calling on Spotify to choose between him and Joe Rogan, the star podcast host who has been accused of spreading misinformation about the coronavirus and vaccines.

Young’s challenge to Spotify has become a high-profile, if unexpected, flash point in the battle over misinformation and free speech online. It also raised questions about the power of performing artists to control where their work is heard.

In a statement posted to his website on Wednesday, Young called Spotify “the home of life threatening Covid misinformation.” He added: “Lies being sold for money.”

nytimes.com

I hate to break it to Neil Young, the choice was always going to be clear to Spotify. Neil Young is a great artist, but he’s not as popular as Joe Rogan. Spotify would be feeding its rivals if it were to abandon Rogan’s podcast. He’d still have the podcast available on public feeds everywhere and it would only be a matter of time before some other audio platform would snap his content up. Sure, they shouldn’t have given him a million dollars for exclusive first rights to new podcasts, and many skeptics of the plan said this at the time. That’s water under the bridge now, that million dollars is gone like our chance to stop COVID-19 from becoming endemic in the population is gone. Hindsight is always 20/20.

I’ve listened to several episodes of the Joe Rogan Experience over the years. The title of the show is itself an unwanted finger jabbed in the metaphorical eye since it is a ripoff of one of the all-time guitar legends the Jimi Hendrix experience. The content of the podcast is basically the ramblings of a drunken buffoon and whatever guest that he’s invited onto the show to get drunk and embarrass in front of his audience. Everyone laughs and the audience loves it and he has millions of subscribers, I just don’t happen to be one of them. If I want to listen to drunken ramblings, even above-par drunken ramblings, I can just get drunk with friends or family and the ramble occurs naturally.

It is a common refrain of mine when asked why I don’t get autographs from stars when I go to conventions that the signature doesn’t mean anything. Now, if I could sit down across from whoever it is and have a cup of whatever to drink while we talk, that would be an experience that I would relish. I want to have those conversations though, I don’t want to listen to Joe Rogan have those conversations. It is a pointless exercise in jealousy to listen, thinking I’m part of that conversation. It would be like watching football thinking you are part of the game. You aren’t, but feel free to think you are anyway.

Joe Rogan just wants to be an entertainer, he doesn’t want to be a source of information. I think we’ve heard that line a few times now. Joe Rogan may not want to be a source and yet he is a source of disinformation especially when he has people like Robert Malone on the show. He just wants his conversations to be interesting, following a standard media model of interviewing the people on the fringe of accepted norms. He may not know it, but he’s using an editorial algorithm that renders the result of giving the platform for the world’s largest podcast audience (millions of streams) to the people most likely to be wrong; and not just wrong, but people who are wrong and actively seeking to spread their wrong ideas to more people. (SGU #865, Neurologica)

With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, JRE, which is hosted exclusively on Spotify, is the world’s largest podcast and has tremendous influence,” the letter reads. “Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, though the company presently has no misinformation policy.

An Open Letter to Spotify from Health Experts

Joe Rogan’s guests are just asking questions about COVID? They don’t buy the bullshit? They think public health isn’t important? They don’t understand public health and how it keeps all of us alive day in and day out. Public health information is where you get your understanding of what kinds of foods are safe to eat, unless you are one of those brave souls picking mushrooms for yourself in the forest. Public health is how you understand to wash your hands regularly. Public health is the reason to clean sidewalks, mow parks, spay and neuter pets, etcetera, etcetera, ad infinitum. Public health is how we get access to the vaccinations that have saved countless millions of lives.

The difference with COVID-19 is that the federal government has not chosen to write laws that would mandate enforcement of public health guidelines. This problem should be rectified immediately as far as I’m concerned. Mandate the COVID vaccine. Mandate staying home if you are sick. Mandate masking up if you go out during elevated public health alert times. Put it down in law so that there isn’t room to argue about it anymore. Do it or stop pretending you are doing anything to help the current crisis we find ourselves in.

In the meantime, devoid of convictions or leviable crimes, Joe Rogan can’t justifiably be removed from Spotify’s streaming service unless Spotify itself deems it prudent to distance themselves from him. Considering the growing artist boycott, they might want to think seriously about that. The one thing that would make me stop using Spotify would be not having the music there I want to listen to. I go somewhere else for my podcasts anyway. If there was government enforcement of public health guidelines then Joe Rogan might have a problem. So long as there isn’t enforcement and he continues to entertain the masses, he’s safe in the general sense. Highly liable to die from a preventable disease, but otherwise safe, apparently.

Conspiracy Fantasies

These are arguments that were thrown at me as counters to the observation that there are no sides to public health.

  • Coronavirus was created in a lab/leaked from a lab – The lab leak theory was and is racist if the person saying it (like Trump) is a racist. SARS-CoV-2 didn’t leak out of a lab. It might have been contracted and spread by a lax technician gathering samples. It definitely was not created in a lab.
  • Masks won’t stop SARS-CoV-2Masks are effective. Some masks are more effective than others. The confusion about masks arose from public officials who didn’t want to alarm the public by saying the virus was airborne. They did more harm than good with their foot dragging. Saying masks aren’t effective is misinformation. There is no legal penalty for spreading misinformation. Yet.
  • The vaccines don’t stop COVID – The vaccines will stop the spread if everyone gets a vaccine. The vaccines have saved millions of lives. Getting all your vaccinations will save your life unless you are in the 0.01% that are adversely affected. Only medicine can inform you of this physical deficiency. Your pastor can’t do that for you. Saying that vaccines don’t stop COVID is misinformation.
  • There absolutely is more than one side. The official narrative has changed so much, it’s head-spinning to keep up with their nonsense. Sane people realize this. – That is a faulty or hasty generalization and a thinly veiled ad hominem. It isn’t an argument I can take seriously. The title remains uncontested.

Some of this was written on Facebook first. Featured AP image found here

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”

These Ideas Can’t Be Fought

I have no patience for defeatism.

There are people who are saying, “I have been speaking up, it doesn’t make a difference.”

Bullshit.

You don’t know if it’s making a difference or not. No pebble ever understands the magnitude of the avalanche.

For decades, the reich-wingers have been shifting the Overton window (the window of normalization) to the right. We have to speak up to shift it back.

We have to speak up for standards of behavior, for intelligence, for rationality, for the weight of evidence, for transparency in government. We have to speak up for empathy and compassion and that the true purpose of government is to serve the people. We have to speak up and speak up and speak up —

Because silence is not only surrender, it is death.

facebook/david.gerrold
Continue reading “These Ideas Can’t Be Fought”

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”