Liberty Denied

spotifyDigable Planets – La Femme Fetal – October 9, 1993
spotifyReina del Cid – My Country ‘Tis of Thee (Land of Inequity) – June 28, 2022
SpotifyLily Allen – Fuck You – February 4, 2009

h/t to NPR – Consider This – Songs of the Summer in a Time of Protest July 4, 2022

A Vaginal Dred Scott

The change in public opinion and feeling in relation to the African race which has taken place since the adoption of the Constitution cannot change its construction and meaning, and it must be construed and administered now according to its true meaning and intention when it was formed and adopted.

Dred Scott v. Sandfordsupreme.justia.com

Women were never seen as full, responsible citizens of the United States. They weren’t allowed to vote even after the results of the Civil War and the changes to the Constitution that invalidated the Dred Scott decision. Black men could vote, black women could not. No women could vote until the passage of the 19th amendment on August 18, 1920. Even today women are still seen as suspect, as not really capable of making informed decisions about their own bodies and their own futures. To this day there is no part of the Constitution that guarantees equality before the law to women.

This started to change after 1920. With the right to vote, women became almost full citizens. They were allowed to own property as early as 1848, seventy-two years before they were trusted with voting rights. In the 1960s women gained the right to open a bank account. They could vote forty years before they were trusted to handle their own finances at the bank.

There was one thing women have always been trusted with though, and that was the birthing and raising of children. Getting pregnant and producing the next generation of human beings was the only thing that was gladly left to them; the children and all the housework that came along with raising them.

Midwives and doulas were women, and they were the experts that were brought in to deal with births and the prevention of unwanted births, prior to the invention of modern medicine and the creation of the AMA. There wasn’t a thing called abortion before that point. They referred to it as restoring the menses, the return of the monthly bleeding that comes along with being a female of the human species.

Throughline – Before Roe: The Physicians’ Crusade – May 19, 2022

There were no laws in place to prevent abortions before quickening prior to the physician’s crusade lead by that one man, Horatio Storer. Because he wanted to push midwives out of the birthing room, to take away from women the one thing they had been entrusted to do throughout human history, he started the chain of events that has lead us down the long, winding road to where we are today. Had he not started his crusade against abortion practiced by anyone other than AMA doctors, none of the events we have witnessed in our lifetimes would have played out the way they have. He lit the fire of the pro-life movement that took over evangelical America.

Throughline – After Roe: A New Battlefield – June 16, 2022

The belief that separate and equal life begins inside a woman’s body and not once a baby is born may be the way that anti-abortionists frame their arguments, but their arguments amount to a denial of female equality no matter how you frame it. Forcing someone to do something with their body that is contrary to their will is involuntary servitude, especially when that something permanently alters the body in question and can last anywhere from a year to the rest of their lives. Slavery of the kind practiced after slavery was outlawed.

This kind of enslavement is worse than the chattel slavery that is practiced out in the open, is acknowledged and can be targeted for what it is. This type of immoral usage is a fraud, a trick at the expense of the other who is powerless to stop you from abusing them, hamstrung by the unequal laws that constrain them. If men, the law-creators, carried children then motherhood would be one of the most well-funded endeavors in human creation. On reflection, that is probably how it should be funded.

Forcing women to birth children that they don’t think of as people is dangerous to society itself. Children are not punishment and we cannot afford to treat them as punishment, nor can we justify the taking of them from their families as providing children for the adoption mills; institutions that were founded for racist and genocidal reasons in the distant past. Adoption mills that the newest Justice on the SCOTUS bench have profited from more than once.

Denying women legal equality was the platform on which the Moral Majority and the modern American conservative movement were founded. The antics of people like Phyllis Schlafly, Jerry Falwell and many, many others were the broadsides unleashed on the women’s rights movement, a movement that was set to establish women’s rights in the United States Constitution for the very first time.

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was the instrument that they used to whip their followers into line with in the late 70’s. This is an almost forgotten historical fact these days, but the ERA was what got them off their pews and into State Houses agitating for an end to women’s liberation. The ERA was the motivator, the last straw, but it was the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) Roe v. Wade decision that lit their hair on fire to start with.

I have never understood why it is that Roe triggered them in this fashion. Abortion has always existed, even if we didn’t call it that. Roe was a perfectly acceptable compromise that took both sides into account. It would have been preferable if the legislatures of the various states and the federal government had cared enough for women’s health to do the right thing and make the procedure legal and available for poor women who didn’t want to have more children they couldn’t feed, but then being thoughtful and humane to those we exploit under capitalism isn’t the kind of behavior that comes naturally.

I distinctly remember accompanying my mother to a Planned Parenthood center in Dallas as a teenager in the late 70’s. We had to travel there from our hometown in Sweetwater because abortion services weren’t a thing you could find out in the hinterlands of Texas. You had to go into the cities for those types of services; and you didn’t tell anyone that’s what you were going there for if you did go there. So we made a side trip to Six Flags on that journey as a cover story, but we also went there to get someone an abortion.

That wasn’t the only time I went to a women’s health clinic for services like abortion. There were girlfriends and acquaintances that needed help, help that I was happy to assist them in getting. The Planned Parenthood center in San Angelo didn’t perform abortions but did conduct screenings for disease and provided access to contraception. Contraception, another bugaboo of the Moral Majority, one that they would prefer we didn’t notice they had a problem with.

Healthcare is Not a Popularity Contest

Roe wasn’t even the best vehicle that could have been presented as the case that would have secured equality, bodily autonomy, for women. The Notorious RBG thought that a different case should have been advanced:

On the Media – Instead of Roe: The Case that Could Have Defined Abortion Law – June 24, 2022

Who can say what a different case with a different, less medically obsessed, decision would have done for the cause of women in the United States.

As the morality laws across the country started to fall one by one. From interracial marriage to contraception and onwards, the Christianists watched from the sidelines and fumed as their religious beliefs enshrined into law were struck down, and they demonstrably grew more agitated as the country became more and more secular. Until Roe. Until it became clear that the country wasn’t going to adhere to their christian beliefs until they stepped forward and made their beliefs the basis for party loyalty.

…and so was born the Moral Majority, with the ERA as their first target. They were the force that got Ronald Reagan the Republican nomination and then the presidency. With that success under their belt, they then worked to infiltrate every bit of government that they could, altering the course of the American experiment with their meddling. With their need to see America be Christian first and foremost.

I really thought they’d never reverse Roe. They’d never be that stupid, that incapable of understanding what it was that Roe was part of. Incapable of understanding the intrusions into their own lives that reversing Roe would make possible. But the leaked Alito opinion proved how wrong I was. I had to finally admit that they did plan to reverse it and that they are every bit as stupid as I first thought they couldn’t be.

It’s quite possible that Alito leaked the draft opinion himself in an attempt to keep Robert’s watered down Dobbs opinion from gaining traction in the court. We may never know the facts of it. What can be said is that both the draft opinion and the SCOTUS Alito-authored decision are blatantly unconstitutional documents.

It seems weird to write those words about a SCOTUS decision, a SCOTUS that is supposed to be the maintainer of Constitutional law. However, Alito’s arguments completely ignore the ninth and tenth amendments to the Constitution and sets their intent aside in favor of conservative ideology.

We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely – the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. That provision has been held to guarantee some rights that are not mentioned in the Constitution, but any such right must be “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition” and “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.” Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U. S. 702, 721 (1997) (internal quotation marks omitted)

PoliticoText of initial draft, supremecourt.gov

Unenumerated rights are guaranteed under the Ninth amendment and the due process clause in the fourteenth is just the stick on which the unenumerated rights have been measured by the SCOTUS. Justice Alito focuses on the due process clause without answering the question of why the due process clause applies at all. A right to an abortion need not be mentioned anywhere or indeed required to meet the high bar that Alito sets in his decision because the Ninth amendment makes no requirements on what an unenumerated right is. It is the SCOTUS that applies this false rule.

Justice Alito handwaves several times about personhood in his decision but he never does justify his legal opinion on the subject of abortion in anything substantial. He can’t do this because there is no person present inside the person of the mother, no matter how hard you squint at the problem. There is no soul, no functioning brain and insufficient oxygen to make the brain function even if it is developed enough to function in the final weeks of pregnancy. There is no proof of the existence of the soul and so he can’t argue ensoulment at conception as his basis for rejecting abortion as a legitimate medical procedure, and there certainly isn’t a person present at conception if there is no soul present.

Nor is it really a right to an abortion that most women seek but rather the right to the same kind of medical care that is provided to men. Medical care that includes treatment of all of their internal organs as if they are just like the internal organs of a man. This treatment would necessarily include abortion when she and her attending physician, doula or midwife deemed it necessary. That’s it. No refereeing by the government on any level. Her body, her choice.

The decision in the Dobbs case is nothing more than conservative ideology and it contains no legal or historical merit of its own aside from the fact that its author sits on the SCOTUS and is empowered to make these kinds of decisions for all of us. Sits on a court hand-crafted by Donald Trump and the Federalist Society to do what this opinion does, stop abortion from being performed in states that don’t want to grant bodily autonomy to women. The Moral Majority has finally gotten exactly what it asked for. I doubt they will enjoy having it as much as they thought they would.

The Dog Only Thinks He Wants to Catch the Car

This is hardly the first time this kind of ideological judicial activism has been performed, either. Casey was itself a meddling in the judgement of Roe, an attempt to loosen the rules so that the states that wanted to restrict abortion into the second trimester of a pregnancy could do so. This rigged SCOTUS has also neutered the Establishment Clause with the Carson v. Makin decision, clearing the way for governments to promote whatever religion they like by supporting them with tax generated funds. They have endorsed public prayer in schools in yet another reversal of established law. It seems that conservatives are completely okay with judicial activism if the judges do things that they agree with.

Amicus – Just Doing the Job They Were Put on the Court to Do – JUNE 25, 2022

Clarence Thomas has stated the goals of the conservative majority on the court quite clearly. If they are going to be ideologically consistent, then all the decisions he mentions in his concurring opinion in Dobbs (Griswold, Lawrence and Obergefell) also must fall. Whether they will get to tell us which orifices we can have sex with, whether we can use contraception while having sex or marry the same-sex partner of our choice is uncertain, but we should definitely not assume they won’t try and come for those previously established rights. What about wet dreams, Justice Thomas? Can I still enjoy my wet dreams?

Chief Justice Roberts wanted to head off the blatant declaration that Alito penned on the subject of abortion, that much is clear. The court bears his name as Chief Justice and consequently he is obsessed with trying to maintain the court as a relevant fixture in the US Government and not have it relegated to the backwater it was at the time of the founding. Perhaps he and his conservative cronies should have thought about the possibility of the Court becoming a tool of religious zealots before they pimped themselves out to the religious right in 1979. It’s a little late to worry about the Court’s reputation now.

This court has shown its true allegiance. Its allegiance isn’t to the Constitution that they swore an oath to uphold, it is to their own Christianist ideology, and nothing will sway them from their path. They are as certain of their moral superiority as the Taney court was certain of theirs when they authored the Dred Scott decision.

What a difference five years makes. In 2017, I feared that the court was ‘lead[ing] us … to a place where separation of church and state is a constitutional slogan, not a constitutional commitment’.

Today, the court leads us to a place where separation of church and state becomes a constitutional violation. If a state cannot offer subsidies to its citizens without being required to fund religious exercise, any state that values its historic antiestablishment interests more than this court does will have to curtail the support it offers to its citizens.

Sonya Sotomayor dissent from Carson v. Makin  (Amicus)

Just like Dred Scott and any other American with black skin was back in 1857, women have been remanded back into the custody of the men that they have sex with, or are raped by, to be their property once more. That is the effect of making it impossibly expensive to raise children on the one hand, providing no safety net for those women who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant; and forcing those same women to take years out of their lives to raise the children that they didn’t want, weren’t planning on and have no established support system to lean on. They will turn to the people who put them in this position and be forced to rely on them indefinitely.

It’s worse than that even. No one ever talks about ectopic pregnancies. No one wants to talk about anencephaly or other equally tragic birth defects that aren’t found until the third trimester.

Those women will also need to get abortions or face trauma or possible death from the pregnancy. An abortion is far safer than giving birth, even in the most advanced country on the planet, which isn’t the United States anymore. It also isn’t murder or whatever else you might believe about it based on things you have heard. Abortion is a medical procedure, a chemical result, as natural a course of events as a successful live birth is. We occasionally still call it a miscarriage, but that’s just an abortion by a different name. In the case of chemical abortions, its probably the same cause as a miscarriage. How do you plan to investigate that and tell the difference between the two?

Women Will Die

With this decision by Justice Alito and his fellow conservative SCOTUS conspirators, women are reduced once again to being baby-making machines. They are a walking uterus, worth nothing if they cannot produce viable children. They might as well be axolotl tanks, machines that do nothing but turn out new people. Machines without brains, without desires, without thought. They are slaves, just as black people were once slaves. Slaves to their biological processes.

Short Wave – The Turnaway Study: What The Research Says About Abortion – May 9, 2022

Being unable to have children is the only way to be free in this society. To be a natural, normal human being is to be a slave if you are a woman. This status will eventually be transferred to the men who get them pregnant, too. I talk about the consequences of reversing Roe at length in the linked article on the subject here and above.

MeidasTouchGOP Handmaid’s Tale: SCOTUS Overturns Roe v. Wade – May 2, 2022

John Cornyn said the quiet part out loud when he suggested that Brown v. Board needs to be targeted next. It’s not about his personal racism when he says this, not directly anyway. It’s about using racial inequality to make us all pay for unwanted pregnancies since it can be shown that there are unequal medical outcomes that will be made worse by striking down Roe.

Learn ConLaw – After Dobbs – 06.28.22

The cost that the Dobbs decision will inflict on poor women will be almost incalculable. I brushed over several obvious costs and curtailments of rights that women will experience in both of my articles that I’ve linked other places in this article. I see no reason to go through the list of bad outcomes that I’ve already produced there save this one thing; miscarriages happen. Miscarriages happen frequently (about a third of pregnancies) Will we prosecute these unfortunate women like murderers? If history is any judge, we will.

(Criminal Prosecution Of Pregnancy Loss Expected To Increase Post-Roe)

After they’ve strapped these poor women down and successfully forced them to have children, someone is going to have to pay those costs. Absentee fathers will be targeted first. This is not news to poor fathers whose wages have been garnished for quite some time for this purpose. They will be further demonized in the coming years, with calls for punishment that I don’t even want to think about, much less try to predict.

The taxes on everyone will have to be raised eventually, even if rulings like Brown v. Board are reversed. Raised to help fund the increased burden that the thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of unwanted children will create. Children and then adults that will swamp most of the red states in the country. The cost of schooling or the cost of prison. The cost of food and shelter or the cost of healthcare. Red states that will deny to their last breath that this economic crisis, this glut of uneducated, unwanted people was caused by their delusions about abortion and the sanctity 0f life and they will look to the Blue states to save their asses one more time.

The Things You Own End Up Owning You

All of this might have been avoided, some of it could still be avoided. Laws should be based not on ideology but on best principles objectively proven through trial and error. Bronze-aged morality does not work when coupled with instantaneous communication across the entire world and world-wide next-day shipping.

The circumventing of state-maintained abortion laws is already taking place. This creates black markets in drugs and medical procedures which are essential, black markets defended by people who normally would never think about breaking a law. The destruction of the rule of law follows on the heels of the average person’s willingness to simply look the other way in order to save a loved one’s life or future. You thought the drug war was expensive? Get ready for a drug war 5 to 50 times more expensive depending on how seriously you want to take this sanctity of life thing.

In order to stop this erosion of trust in the law it is essential that we take back control of our government from these ideologues who have taken the power in our absence. We have sat too long behind the Roe decision and congratulated ourselves too early on our enlightened society. The barbarians are well beyond the gates now because they are in control of the Senate, the SCOTUS and most of the States.

We the People can fix this, if we understand the priorities that must come next. Go to your local party precinct meetings. Let them know you are there to help. Get out, canvas your neighborhood, and vote. Vote to throw out Republicans and anti-choice, misogynist leaders of every stripe (yes I’m looking at you Joe Manchin) more importantly, let your representatives know your mind about what they are expected to do as your representative in the State House and in Washington D.C.

The ERA has been approved by enough states now. It needs to be confirmed as having been ratified, and it needs to be encoded into US law immediately. The ERA may not be enough to fix this problem all on its own, but it will be a start. Restart and expand the child tax credit immediately. These funds will go directly to where the problems will appear first, families with dependent children. Children they weren’t planning on having but now will be forced to have. Get the government out of the process of determining health outcomes for individuals. Just like the law everywhere else should be, objectively determined best practices should be what occurs in medical clinics unless the individual insists on being treated differently.

Then there is the Supreme Court of the United States. The court has been treated as a final authority on Constitutional law since Marbury v. Madison in 1803, but there is no basis for the court being treated this way written into the constitution itself. That is the precise belief that Roberts hoped to preserve, that the court has any say over what can be enforced as law in the United States. We may not be able to change the way the court is used by the people who are there already, but there is nothing that says we can’t make the court as big as we want it to be. Twenty, thirty, even fifty justices, whatever the number is that we decide is enough to make sure that the views of the American people are part of the deliberations of the Court itself. Large enough to make sure that a tiny group of judicial activists can’t just decided to change a half century of established jurisprudence in the blink of an eye with one flawed ideologically driven decision.

The last time that unconstitutional, unpopular, far-reaching opinions like Dobbs were handed down by the court, the Civil War broke out. We are about to enter those turbulent waters for a second time, driven there by the same backwards mindset that gave us the Dred Scott decision in 1857. No matter what the SCOTUS says, women will demand their independence. They will fight for it and they will die for it as well as die from the lack of it.

We envision a world where every reproductive decision, including abortion, takes place in thriving communities that are safe, peaceful, and affordable. We envision a world where all people have the power and resources to care for and affirm their bodies, identities, and health for themselves and their families—in all areas of their lives. As we shift the conversation about abortion, it will become a real option, accessible without shame or judgment.

abortionfunds.org

Featured image screencapped from: nwlocalpaper.com/our-summer-of-rage

Postscript

July 3 – The original text of this article contained several hasty legal arguments that I have since excised, and I have expanded on some other thoughts as well. I apologize for the misinformation that I might have passed on earlier. I also added in the Meidas Touch ad.

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”

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

Fuck Around & Find Out

Government so small it could fit inside a woman’s uterus.

Texas has a woman problem. There is no other way to describe it. Texas is misogynist beyond all proportion. You want proof? Texas is the first state to make prostitution a felony. A felony for selling sex? The hypocrisy of Texas Republicans knows no bounds. They preach about liberty and freedom constantly, and then turn around and pass draconian laws to attempt to force women back into subservience to men. The only liberty that Texas Republicans think matters is the liberty of white men. This has always been true of Texas, the state was founded on it.

Texas leading the charge to make abortion illegal should therefore not be a surprise to anyone paying attention. The drive to make abortion illegal is also contrary to ideas about liberty. Women’s liberty, anyway:

We have a saying in Texas. “Fuck around and find out.” Someone fucked around:

Murder is not liberty. Just because its the brand of killing you like doesn’t change that.

reddit

If I was a murderer then it would be child’s play to instruct the people who matter in these kinds of situations, the people who learn from the experience of the fucker in the phrase fuck around and find out. I’m not a murderer, and therefore abortion is not murder, but then most things in life are not as simple as they might seem on the surface.

If I were a murderer, thought that murder was acceptable, it would be child’s play to set up a situation where the target of my ire expired and either vanished or seemed to die of natural causes. Nearly half of US murders go unsolved today. These are real murders of real people, not the fantasies of anti-abortionists who see people who don’t exist.

Real people who are dead or just missing, and these statistics don’t include the people that no one notices went missing in the first place. So, yeah. If you really think the person you’re talking to is a murder, it would be better to keep quiet and let that sleeping dog lie than it would be to tell them that you’re onto them. They might decide it was in their interest to make you disappear. Just a friendly reminder.

Abortion isn’t murder; not because I’m not a murder, but because there is no person there to be murdered. The above linked article explains why a fetus doesn’t meet the high bar required to demonstrate the existence of a unique human life. Read it if the caution about accusing people of murder doesn’t sway you into keeping quiet about your delusions.

I do understand where anti-abortionists are coming from when they say that abortion is murder. Where they think they are coming from when they try to adopt the label pro-life, and then fail utterly at being pro-life. I have two children of my own. When I say that people who oppose abortion fail to grasp objectivity on this subject, I do this with my own subjective, anecdotal experience with my own children to back me up.

That is the opening paragraph of this article:

Read the rest of it if you want to know why abortion is necessary.

Postscript

Texas is not alone in its woman problem, the United States and possibly the entire world outside of the European Union has a woman problem. However, the United States has just volunteered to illustrate the problem for everyone else. Maybe the rest of the world will learn from the lesson that US women will now teach to US men. Hope springs eternal.

The above was first published as a revised opening section of the linked abortion article. As usual with changes made in the heat of the moment, the changes were ill-conceived and required abortion. Err, required their own article and not be the brash opening of an article that I routinely use as a reference for the subject of abortion. So here they are in their new home, made with the modest investment of a few minutes of effort and no money down. Exactly like the beginnings of the vast majority of lives currently being lived on this planet. Beginnings are cheap and easy. Maintenance is expensive and time consuming.

Featured image by Anne Lesniak; society6.com, bananarampage.com.

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.

Touring Texas

I ran across a question from some Brits who were going to be driving from Houston to Austin on Reddit. They wanted to know about bars being open, and anything specifically to do on the drive between Houston and Austin. Having only been that way once or twice, I have little to say about the span of distance between those two cities.

The bars in Texas are open. All of Texas is open because our Governor wants to make his Trumpist base believe that he agrees with the lies told by the former President and his supporters. That COVID is a hoax and we don’t need to be vaccinated or worry about anything except what scam cure for the hoax (explain that one) they are supposed to buy this week.

My advice to foreigners coming to Texas? If you have to come, get vaccinated and wear a mask. I’d pick a better vacation spot if I were you though.

In the comments that followed there were dozens of people offering up various eateries all over the state, most of it ethnic food. I’ve always found this tendency to be quite humorous. “What’s the best thing in my city? Something brought here from another place.”

People who live in an area routinely think that the best thing in the area is the thing that isn’t from there (Like suggesting getting Kolaches or other ethnic food that is widely available in Texas) If you can get brisket every day (the staple food of Texas) brisket isn’t the thing that you suggest others eat. A tourist sees things differently. This is why I try to think of the things I would do while visiting a strange place, and then find those kinds of things around me. Things that have merged into the background noise for residents.

Knowing what people who don’t live in Texas might find interesting while visiting Texas is the foundation of at least one person’s fame and livelihood:

https://thedaytripper.com/ (this is not displaying correctly on the published article. I don’t know why. -ed.)

It would be foolish for me to attempt to outdo someone who makes a living trying to bring attention to the little-known parts of Texas. Even the Texas Standard has a weekly weekend trip tip to keep Texans and visitors apprised of what is going on around us in Texas each week. That segment usually airs on Thursdays. The archive for the show has become neglected in the COVID years.

However, I have traveled in Texas myself and I have a particular bent towards the kinds of things that I think visitors might overlook. I drove between Austin and San Angelo for years, and the Texas forts trail was always worth the time following when I had the time to devote to it. Fort Concho in San Angelo has Christmas events. Usually.

As someone with architectural/archeological interests that sort of thing is fascinating to me. I stop at roadside markers and explore almost any abandoned structure that I can access from the road. I’ve found neglected churches, abandoned schools and country courthouses just driving down old roads looking for places to explore, when I’ve been required to travel long distance through unfamiliar country.

When I have guests in Austin I always take them to tour the Texas Capitol complex. I don’t know if it’s open now with COVID, but the historical tour combined with the modern underground expansion is a unique bit of architecture to experience. The same goes for shopping at the Domain or visiting the new stadium for the soccer team. Driving out to the F1 track. If you are from Austin you probably never want to go to these places. If you aren’t then it’s probably something that you might find interesting.

If it’s nature you are after here, there is the Wildflower Center or Zilker Botanical Gardens (renovation) McKinney falls is lovely, but then so is Hamilton Pool. If you go to Zilker park you might want to go through the lights at Zilker, walk around under the moon tower that they turn into a christmas tree.

After all of that you will want food. The Salt Lick is where most people go or know about if they think about Austin and brisket. When I worked downtown I would walk over to Franklin‘s or the Ironworks. I haven’t been there in years, but both places are still in business so they probably don’t suck as places to go to eat. Places that serve brisket in Texas have to be good if they want to stay in business.

https://www.instagram.com/elarroyo_atx/

No matter where you go, you’ll still be in Texas unless you drive for more than a day. Do your best to enjoy yourself while you are here.

reddit

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 in 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.

The Experiment Podcast: The Original Anti-vaxxer – SEPTEMBER 23, 2021

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.

Regression to the Mean

Republicans:

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-CoV-2 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 to 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.