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 are 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 are 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.

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.

Delta Breakthrough Infections Are Transmissable

Delta breakthrough infections are transmissable should have been the headline on the new Coronavirus/SARS-2 masking rules. It should be a phrase in every leading paragraph in every news story about new CoVID-19 outbreaks.

If you are vaccinated and you catch the SARS-2 virus (and a small percentage of people, including the partially vaccinated, can catch mild versions of the infection) the Delta variant is still transmissable, not to mention the new Lambda variant and whatever comes after that. If you are infected and you pass that virus on to other people, you have created a new variant that could possibly bypass the vaccination in other people and start the entire pandemic all over again.

TRMS – Fauci worried about delta variant spread ‘if we don’t do the right thing’ – Aug. 10, 2021
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I’d like to thank Texas Governor Greg Abbott for leading the way towards making the SARS-2 pandemic a two-year flirtation with complete social collapse. He is the apple in the eye of anarchists everywhere. It is no surprise that Abbott and Texas conservatives don’t believe that they are committing acts that are tantamount to treason in their negligence of public health issues like this pandemic we are still in.

They reject the findings of science. This includes the veracity of vaccination programs and the need for public health action, and even the basic understanding that viruses evolve based on the pressures we subject them to. If evolution is a myth then of course everything that follows from it, including genetically engineered vaccinations, have to not only be false, but dangerous flirtations with the devil.

It is important to understand what it is that your enemies believe; and if you are a thinking person then today’s conservative movement is your enemy.

Postscript

Greg Abbott is potentially a superspreader. He has been infected under the exact conditions I just mentioned. Vaccinated, now testing positive for infection. How ironic would it be if he was the one infected Texan who starts the pandemic all over again? Would the average Texan recognize that this is a sign from their god that they should stop voting Republican, if what they say about every other act of god is also true here? I doubt it.

He’s also an idiot. He is attempting to take on the US government in the form of dictating that no government offices under his control will be allowed to mandate vaccination or masking requirements. He is working hard to make sure that the SARS-2 death toll in Texas is as high as possible.

As if we aren’t already the laughingstock of the nation. As if the US isn’t the laughingstock of the world over the Trump fiasco and his handling of the pandemic. Any Texan that isn’t outraged at our governor right now doesn’t understand a thing about public health. Greg Abbott is showing the world just how stupid the average Trump supporter is; and since that group represents the majority of Texans who voted in 2020, he is also proving just how stupid the average Texan is. Think about that when you go to the polls in 2022.

Repairing Pandemic Damage Not All That is Needed Now

To repair the damage done by these people in these times will not be easy. I may not see the wounds mended in my lifetime. It may take a generation or more. The social damage of the pandemic itself, the fear of our old social lives, in bars and restaurants and dance halls and sports stadiums, will take time to heal (although a percentage of people seem to know no fear already). We will hug and kiss again. But will there still be movie theaters? Will there be bookstores? Will we feel okay in crowded subway cars?

wapo/salman-rushdie

I would say that the lack of workers volunteering to die for minimum wage across the United States today in what is rapidly becoming a post-pandemic world says volumes about the actual rethinking that is going on right now. Whether we will turn these things we’ve learned about ourselves and our world into real world changes remains the question. I will say that if we don’t make the changes, heal the breaches in our lifetimes, those ills will fester and re-emerge the next time society hits a breaking point.

It wasn’t the name of the black man that police killed that made last summer’s protests a fulcrum to leverage change. It was simply the fact that the policeman killed another black man while the rest of the world was forced to watch him do it. The pandemic made change possible by forcing the entire world to become passive observers of what the rest of the world was doing in their lives and in their essential work. Essential work that appears to include killing random black people in every corner of the United States.

The next time we are strapped down and stretched thin like we were last summer, there might be some other breaking point that appears and fulminates the last great war, rather than just a call for the equal justice we all were promised. We really can’t afford to keep kicking the can down the road. We need to step up and make the changes now while the motivation is fresh and our intentions pure. I’m becoming deathly afraid that we don’t know how act of pure intention anymore, or even act at all.

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Salman Rushdie: I’ve seen dictators rise and fall. Beware, America.

These “audits” don’t have to find anything; the fact that they exist at all is enough to do what they are designed to do: undermine voters’ faith in the system at the same time they indicate that no election result that elects a Democrat is legitimate.

heathercoxrichardson/june-3-2021