COVID America

COVID-19 didn’t lay America low; it simply revealed what had long been forsaken. As the crisis unfolded, with another American dying every minute of every day, a country that once turned out fighter planes by the hour could not manage to produce the paper masks or cotton swabs essential for tracking the disease. The nation that defeated smallpox and polio, and led the world for generations in medical innovation and discovery, was reduced to a laughing stock as a buffoon of a president advocated the use of household disinfectants as a treatment for a disease that intellectually he could not begin to understand.

Wade Davis – rollingstone.com

h/t to my brother for his find of this article.

OHM GDP Shrinkage

This is the news that the Orange Hate-Monkey doesn’t want anyone to notice right now. This is what has his rapidly thinning hair on fire.

The Indicator from Planet Money – GDP -32.9%???!!! – July 30, 2020

The Bureau of Economic Analysis released second quarter gross domestic product data today. The number shows how much the economy has grown in a given quarter. And in the second quarter, the BEA says, the American economy grew at an annualized rate of…wait for it…negative 32.9%.

…this is why he is talking about postponing or cancelling the elections in November. It isn’t because of the COVID hazards. It isn’t because of any other reason that people might toss around in an attempt to obscure his motivations.

It’s the Economy, Stupid

The OHM knows that the economic success of the average American is what they will be voting on in November, those people who aren’t interested in politics, health or climate change anyway. Everyone else (the average wage-earner) is going to vote on their own economic status, and right now the average person’s economic status is not good.

They’ve been out of work since March. They have rent due. They are running out of food. They are terrified of catching the plague that is sweeping the nation. Too terrified to send their kids to school, with good reason. The economy is melting down all around us and the Party of Trump is busy trying to talk about budget overruns and how we can’t afford to keep paying people to stay at home as if they have any choice in the matter now.

The Democrats are rolling out election strategies in states they haven’t even bothered to contest in decades. They are campaigning all across the nation in ways that haven’t been seen before, their candidate running double-digit polling projections. Remembering 2016, the Democrats will not lay back and expect votes from average working people. They are going to go out and ask these people to support them, and they probably will.

The OHM has to know that this is not good news for him. He is smart enough to see that writing on the wall. That is why he is talking about postponing the election. Plain and simple. Nevermind that he can’t do it. He will try every trick that he can utilize to see that the election, when it occurs, is contested. This is why he is talking about the insecurity of mail-in ballots. This is why he will roll out the specter of brown people voting against him. Non-citizens voting. He will try to tamper with the counts, stop counts from happening, stop the mail service from delivering ballots.

None of this matters aside from the parlour game that it has been and will be. Oh, he’ll do any number of things to try to stay in office, but unless he can make the count go his way, he ceases to be president on January 20, 2021 anyway.

Why is this? Because the system is more than the election. Barring a winner in a contested presidential election, on January 20, 2021 the president of the United States will be Nancy Pelosi. He can’t stop this from happening. A majority holding for the Trumpists in the Senate can’t stop it. His term of office ends on that day, and the presidency will pass to the successor to the office.

Then the real work begins, for the first time in I don’t know how many years. New Year’s Eve can’t come soon enough to suit me this year.

Featured image: Screenshot from fred.stlouisfed.orgtwitter.com

It’s been three years now. In order to get a sense of the history of what OHM means, I will link a few crucial posts. I wrote The Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) when it became clear that the Republicans were going to nominate Donald Trump.  I wrote The GOP Cuddles Up To the NSDAP when the GOP refused to ostracize the OHM for his dangerously xenophobic populism. I wrote Caveat Emptor on the day Trump lied with his hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the US constitution. I wrote Bullshit is Bullshit on the day I stopped even trying to catalogue the blatant disregard of the truth by the OHM. It mystifies me why people still listen to him, and why the OHM still holds the office of the president. #MAGA means Misguided Appallingly Gullible Americans. Anyone who believes differently is a MAGA themselves, otherwise known as a Stormtrumper, h/t to Berkeley Breathed.

COVID-19 is Airborne

This Viewpoint suggests that infection control guidelines should be re-evaluated to account for the predominance of small particles within infectious aerosols. Protective devices available to health-care workers have a range of protection, increasing from surgical masks to filtering facepiece respirators to powered air-purifying respirators. Although these are indicated for close encounters, their limitations highlight the need for improved administrative controls, such as more rapid diagnosis and isolation, and the development of vaccines and treatments. These data support calls for the recognition of aerosol (ie, traditional airborne) transmission of SARS-CoV-2.144 This could facilitate the use of enhanced dilution and directional ventilation and other environmental control options—eg, air disinfection with ultraviolet germicidal irradiation,145 which might be especially helpful in congregate settings such as nursing homes. Implementation of improved infection control measures could prevent future morbidity and mortality among health-care workers.

thelancet.com

It is airborne. I wish they would just come out and say the word airborne in the media that is targeted at the general public. The average person isn’t going to care about the vagaries of the scientific definition of airborne. A reproduction rate over 5 (which COVID can have) means that the transmission is functionally airborne. Why quibble over the semantics?

If airborne transmission were shown to be a major factor, some experts have suggested it could be helpful to wear masks indoors, even in settings where social distancing is being enforced; that tighter regulations may be needed for ventilation and air conditioning to minimise recirculating air; and that it may even be appropriate to install UV lights in some buildings to guard against potentially infectious particles.

theguardian.com

This article from the New York Times details investigations into methods of transmission aboard the Diamond Princess back in January. Nothing short of a properly adjusted N95 mask or multiple layers of cloth over the mouth and nose will keep you from catching the disease when someone is standing next to you has it. This makes Trump’s fumbling of the supply chains even more damning than I initially thought it was. If masks had been mandatory and available early, a good portion of the deaths we have seen across the country could have been avoided.

nytimes.com

150,000 Dead

My not liking the OHM is perhaps the understatement of the century. I lack the words to describe the volume of revulsion that I feel when contemplating that piece of shit and the cost that he has inflicted on our country since he stole his father’s empire, bankrupted thousands of craftsmen and designers, shat in the heads of every person to watch his inane reality TV program, blustered his way into the office of the president and then killed a hundred and fifty thousand of my fellow Americans as effectively as if he smothered them all himself. If you could find a phrase that could summarize that much loathing and hatred in fewer words than I’ve used here, my hat is off to you.

Facebook (Twitter – Nathan McDermottEvan Brechtel)

There's a headline I bet you never expected to see. But, Goddamm, if it's not the perfect summation of the world we now live in.

Posted by Jim Wright on Wednesday, July 29, 2020
Facebook – Stonekettle Station

It’s been three years now. In order to get a sense of the history of what OHM means, I will link a few crucial posts. I wrote The Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) when it became clear that the Republicans were going to nominate Donald Trump.  I wrote The GOP Cuddles Up To the NSDAP when the GOP refused to ostracize the OHM for his dangerously xenophobic populism. I wrote Caveat Emptor on the day Trump lied with his hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the US constitution. I wrote Bullshit is Bullshit on the day I stopped even trying to catalogue the blatant disregard of the truth by the OHM. It mystifies me why people still listen to him, and why the OHM still holds the office of the president. #MAGA means Misguided Appallingly Gullible Americans. Anyone who believes differently is a MAGA themselves, otherwise known as a Stormtrumper, h/t to Berkeley Breathed.

July 4, 2020. American Carnage.

Twitter (I consider it a personal insult that these pieces of shit live in my house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I’ve endured this insult for almost four years. Patience is what is needed now. -ed.)

The post asked me to defend the words in the image when it appeared in the Facebook group. Defend the words in the image? Why? But then one of the Stormtrumpers asked the question.

What’s wrong with it?

What I see in the image is two guys standing at urinals talking trash. That’s what I see in that image. Oh, wait. There is a Spacex launch in the distance. Neither of them are Spacex employees. Not sure what they have to do with that. They have everything to do with the fact that there are 120,000+ Americans dead due to the Coronavirus pandemic rampaging unchecked across the American landscape, but they have very little to do with the success of private industry taking us back to the Moon.

Manifest Destiny? We are the children of the enslavers, the inheritors of the fruits of genocide. That is who we are, that is what Manifest Destiny meant. To conquer the continent and claim it as our own at any cost. Going to the Moon? Spacex is going to the Moon. Corporations will slice the Moon up and fight each other over the spoils if we continue on the current course.

Americans are the collected rubbish and cast-offs of every other continent, fueled by their own aggrandized image of themselves. That’s what is wrong with Manifest Destiny. Our destiny is what we make of it, and it certainly isn’t manifest. Don’t get me wrong. Humanity should spread throughout the solar system and explore all the places we can get to in order to discover everything we can about the universe that makes us what we are. I’m just not comfortable with the first and last White president and his Christianist cohort declaring that it is our destiny to own the moon.

Youtube – New Book Shows Depravity Of Trump Admin Family Separation Policy – Rachel Maddow MSNBC – Jul 7, 2020
Separated: Inside an American Tragedy by Jacob Soboroff

We cannot continue as we are. We cannot look toward the future while standing on the bodies of this many innocent people. To do that is inhumane and cancels any hope you might have for a brighter future.

The US has to find a new way now. Better to fail than to spread these corrupted beliefs any further than our shores. We need to accept that not only are we the conquerors and the enslavers, but that we are the conquered, the oppressed and the descendants of slaves. We need to liberate ourselves from our own history, and we do that by rejecting the racist notion of Manifest Destiny right now. Today. We can do it if we try.

Facebook

Youtube NPR.org – Frederick Douglass Descendants Read His Fourth Of July Speech

Oh, you think I’m piling on now? You think this negative attitude isn’t warranted on Independence day? Listen to the voices of those children recite the words of their father from over a hundred years ago and realize that we haven’t done anything to deliver justice for these people. Don’t point to the Civil War as proof of doing something. We restored the nation and then turned our backs on the former slaves. A hundred years and we still have cops killing them in the street over a minor provocation. We trample on the poor and the homeless and leave the refugee starving on our doorstep.

ranthonyings.com

We don’t deserve to go the Moon. Maybe the next country to raise its head above the level of shit we’ve left floating in the common pool will be worthy of escaping this planet. But not us, and not now.

That is what is wrong with Manifest Destiny.

The Ezra Klein Show – Bryan Stevenson on how America can heal – July 20, 2020

I’m just so worried that my grandfather might have been one of the people that lynched that man.

Editor’s note. This was the first article written for ranthonyings.com.

Viral Testing Failure

Chris Hayes: "They try to prevent [President Trump and VP Pence] from getting sick by implementing an incredibly robust…

Posted by All In with Chris Hayes on Saturday, May 9, 2020
Facebook – All-in with Chris Hayes

That observation is similar to my first comment on reading the story earlier today.

Hey, isn’t it nice to have access to trillions of dollars and millions of man hours just so you two bozos can feel safe in your bunker in Washington D.C.? Too bad you couldn’t swing getting that kind of safety net out for the rest of us regular folks.

They still don’t have enough tests to pull of effective tracing and quarantine of the infected in the United States. Not even after three months.

RAnt(hony)-ings

…I wrote that on February 29th, back when the pandemic wasn’t even officially a pandemic yet. They knew they would need tests then and they’ve been promising them for the entirety of the time between now and then. They were two months late on getting tests out then, and now they are 5 months late and people in their inner circle are starting to catch it. So now they have tests available to test all the people around the president, the kinds of intensive testing and tracking that will be required to locate and isolate all of the people who are currently sick with this virus, but we won’t be getting that kind of security blanket.

That kind of security is only for the special people. The leadership. The authority figures, no matter how shady their path to authority was. They get the gold star treatment. The rest of us have to hunker down in our houses for the fourth month in a row, and be thankful that we still have houses. Those who had houses in the first place and weren’t already living in the streets of the major cities in North America. Never mind the poor immigrants and refugees that will be the real victims in this crisis. The people confined in camps all over the face of the globe. Packed together with minimal or no hygiene, poorly fed, they are the people who will bear the brunt of the suffering now just as they always do.

Next in line will the the essential workers. The people who have to work to survive. Those places are already becoming hotbeds of infection. Never mind the hospitals that no one would dare go to today without already feeling sick with the virus. Those places are the obvious nexus of infection that we all will avoid if we can. No, the essential work that is being done on farms. The meat packing plants. The grocery stores and other retail outlets.

It is totally laughable to me that the hair salons and barbershops are opening back up. I spent three haircuts worth of money to buy a Wahl self-cut set and I plan on cutting my own hair for the next six months at least. Social distancing goes out the window when one person touches the hair of even ten people in one day, and that would be a slow day in a hair salon.

<black kid murdered by self-appointed neighborhood patrol while walking home from a store with some candy>Well, he…

Posted by Jim Wright on Saturday, May 9, 2020
Facebook – Stonekettle Station

…Ted Cruz getting his hair cut by the woman who lead the revolt against common sense regulations. Another scofflaw directly rewarded by the Canuckian reject that we stupidly let represent us in Washington D.C.

Texas? Your fly is open. You might want to turn around and fix that. The Trump coronavirus response has been a complete joke. I only wish it had been a funny joke. We could all use a good laugh right about now.

How will I be when I get out of this?

I shared a room with a homeless person, a Colombian cleaner, and a man from Bangladesh—all three diabetics, incidentally, which is consistent with the known picture of the disease. The days and nights were lonely because no one had the energy to talk. I could only whisper for weeks; even now, my voice loses power in the evening. But I always had that question going around in my head: How will I be when I get out of this?

After fighting viruses all over the world for more than 40 years, I have become an expert in infections. I’m glad I had corona and not Ebola, although I read a scientific study yesterday that concluded you have a 30% chance of dying if you end up in a British hospital with COVID-19. That’s about the same overall mortality rate as for Ebola in 2014 in West Africa. That makes you lose your scientific level-headedness at times, and you surrender to emotional reflections. They got me, I sometimes thought. I have devoted my life to fighting viruses and finally, they get their revenge. For a week I balanced between heaven and Earth, on the edge of what could have been the end.

sciencemag.org

Hat/tip to Eric Buck

Face Covering

Got a Minute? –Monday, April 27

New state directives are coming… Want to know how Austin is planning to reopen safely? Join us at 7pm to learn what the state and local orders mean for you.

Posted by Austin Mayor Steve Adler on Monday, April 27, 2020
Facebook – Austin Mayor Adler

I resisted wearing face covering for as long as I could. I did this not just because I have a hard time reading faces and so want to make myself more easily read by people I might talk to, but also because I have a hard enough time breathing while out on a walk or doing any strenuous activity without having a barrier between me and the air I so desperately need. Austin made face covering mandatory, so I finally gave in and started wearing something to cover my mouth and nose.

I wear a bandanna tied in the classic bandit style to go along with my straw hat and tinted prescription glasses. I’m sure I strike a menacing appearance in this getup, or would if it wasn’t for the bright blue sweatpants and bright yellow walking shoes. The bandanna does seem to reduce the amount of pollen that I am exposed to, even if it doesn’t remove all of it, so I may have to keep wearing the damn thing on high allergy days even after all this coronavirus madness is nothing more than an almost forgotten nightmare.

Me and my new walking buddy getting ready to sally forth.

I don’t care what Governor Abbott or his lunatic Lieutenant Governor, Dan Patrick, think about anything. They are taking marching orders from the madman in the White House, and so consequently what they might say or do is pretty much irrelevant if not downright harmful or possibly fatal in the long run. Don’t listen to the madman in the White House. That is the best advice I can offer to anyone. I have no idea why anyone does listen to him anymore.

I’ll continue wearing my bandit mask for as long as it suits me. If they make me go physically to the polls during the runoffs and then in November, I will go there wearing the thing as well. I will wear the mask and vote all of them out of office. This is proof positive that real criminals don’t wear bandannas and straw hats. Real criminals wear business suits and ties and they lie right to your face with not a hint of insincerity. “I have a great deal for you!” Sure you do.


I have been experiencing some deep depression lately. It came to me last night what this depression probably stems from. I don’t know what to write about in this time of coronavirus that isn’t somehow related to the coronavirus. All of my podcasts are going full-on coverage of the subject, and most of the news is also about it.

I’ve been deleting most news podcasts for weeks. Over the last week I have finished two books on tape rather than listen to any of the podcasts that I usually spend time listening to. I have no use for more news about this disease. I know what I need to know to stay healthy, and most of what is being said is correction of the misinformation that the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) has been spreading about the disease on a nightly basis, with the help of the media that can’t seem to stop spreading his lies for him. The WaPo ran a piece today title Trump has played the media like a puppet. Ya think? I’ve only been trying to say this for four years now. Nice that you’ve finally noticed that you are being used. Maybe you should fix that problem before it gets out of hand.

The Wife came to me today and said she had a revelation. “The blame game is about to start.” I tried to be patient with her, but this really isn’t a revelation to me. The OHM has been engaging in the blame game for four years now. He and his cronies are clearly gearing up to start blaming the Democrats for cracking down on the populations under their control, imposing restrictions that the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (Covid-19) did not require. They’ll say people aren’t dying at greater rates than previously. The cities and states will point to the elevated numbers of deaths. The OHM will say those aren’t coronavirus deaths. The cities and states will say they were coronavirus deaths. The OHM will say they weren’t because they weren’t tested for coronavirus. The cities and states will object and point out that there aren’t enough tests to test all the dead people. The OHM will shrug and go back to golfing. Just like he has always done.

ALL IN – Trump hits 108 days at his own golf properties – April 20, 2018

It’s important to remember that this guy complained bitterly about all the time that Barack Obama spent on the golf course. What he hates most about Barack Obama on the golf course (other than he is a black man on a golf course that isn’t a caddy) is that Obama is a better golfer than he is, and Barack Obama spent less time getting there than the OHM has already spent on the golf course during his joke of a presidency.

Donald Trump wants to open the country back up so he can get back to golfing and get back to charging people to golf with him. It hasn’t got anything to do with the deaths and the suffering, or how much worse it will all be after we end social distancing. He just wants to keep doing what he has always done. Screw people and steal their money.

This is par for the course. This is how every single embarrassing event has been played since Trump blundered onto the political stage and demonstrated that he has no capacity to feel shame for his shameful behavior. There is a fly in this ointment though. There are records of his malfeasance.

For weeks, the PDB — as the report is known — traced the virus’s spread around the globe, made clear that China was suppressing information about the contagion’s transmissibility and lethal toll, and raised the prospect of dire political and economic consequences.

But the alarms appear to have failed to register with the president, who routinely skips reading the PDB and has at times shown little patience even for the oral summary he now takes two or three times per week, according to the officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified material.

The advisories being relayed by U.S. spy agencies were part of a broader collection of worrisome signals that came during a period now regarded by many public health officials and other experts as a squandered opportunity to contain the outbreak.

The Washington Post

The OHM was ignoring all the signs that COVID-19 was going to be a problem until he couldn’t ignore it anymore. Then he blamed the CDC, the WHO and the Chinese government for the things he had every right to have known months previously if he had only bothered to pay attention.

He tried to blame the Democrats for not giving him the funds that he needed to combat the disease until Nancy Pelosi handed him a check for two trillion dollars. A check that the OHM then promptly put in his and his closest buddies pockets. That bit of malfeasance will be coming back to bite him right about the time elections roll around in November.

Texas may open back up on Friday or Monday. Austin won’t be following the governor’s direction. Neither will Houston, Dallas or any other city that understands what the real problem is here. The real problem is that these Republican morons think they can bluff a virus. That they can lie to mother nature and she won’t punish them for it.

I feel bad for those people who can’t afford to stay home any longer. Those people who have purposely been kept poor by the system they are part of in some ill-gotten belief that you have to keep people hungry, homeless or on the edge of homelessness, in order to get them to work. We have all be stolen from over the course of our lives by these people in suits and ties who think they are better than we are because they have money and we don’t. They don’t understand, any more than the poor do, that they are rich because the system allows them to be rich.

The system could be adjusted so that everyone is at least comfortable with some pretty minor tweaks. The two trillion dollar coronavirus rescue package? The country’s entire population could be granted a guaranteed minimum income for an entire year for that amount of money (Andrew Yang’s Freedom Dividend) What are the benefactors of most of that money doing with it right now? Driving the stock markets up with all this extra cash they just stumbled into. Pretty much the same thing they were doing before the pandemic hit with all that free money that Trump gave them in his tax bill.

So instead of making sure that no one has to work that isn’t constitutionally set up for the kind of risky work that is required right now, instead of making sure that no Americans are homeless and have enough food to eat, we’ve given billionaires even more money to play around with. Now the poor feel compelled to return to work having burned through the $1200.00 pittance that was allowed to them.

People are going to die. Most likely a lot of people are going to die. I’m going to do my best to not be one of them. I’m not planning on going anywhere (other than to vote as I noted previously) until right about January the 20th of 2021. I might not even go out then other than to abandon this hellhole that we’ve made, heading for greener pastures if there are any of those left by then. We’ll just have to see whether the tide turns or not.


Editor’s note: July 4, 2020. Governor Abbott swerved to miss the oncoming train today. He has reinstated the statewide requirement for masks, with several very large exceptions. Too large, according to Mayor Adler. Weirdly, I never stopped wearing a mask outdoors even though I didn’t have to wear one and still don’t have to since I won’t go into a crowded public space so long as the pandemic rages. Hopefully I will get my ballots by mail as I requested. Hopefully there will be people present at the vote counting that will ensure that mail-in ballots are not simply thrown in the trash. There are some very thin shoe-strings of hope weaving the future of the country together. That is not a reassuring thought.

Two Steps Forward

When this is over this country is going to need more than bandaids. It’s going to need fucking surgery. Things need to change and not go back to normal. Ctrl-Z us back to how we were in 2016 is simply not going to cut it, and honestly it shouldn’t have taken a pandemic to prove our unemployment system is a mess, that we need universal healthcare and that workers need benefits, the right to organize and wages that reflect how essential they really are.

John Oliver – Apr 12, 2020
HBOCoronavirus IV: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver – Apr 12, 2020

Proning

At Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx, Dr. Nicholas Caputo followed 50 patients who arrived with low oxygen levels between 69 and 85 percent (95 is normal). After five minutes of proning, they had improved to a mean of 94 percent. Over the next 24 hours, nearly three-quarters were able to avoid intubation; 13 needed ventilators. Proning does not seem to work as well in older patients, a number of doctors said.

NYTimes – What Doctors on the Front Lines Wish They’d Known a Month Ago
Twitter – DrArnsten