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

Traitor Trump

Just like the time he twisted the arm of the Ukrainian government. Just like all the times it has been demonstrated that he pressures people to alter the truth so that he can be seen as a winner. Over and over and over again since he started trying to gain the office of President of the United States, not to mention the entire time he has been in business, Donald Trump has been shown to be more than happy to bully people into telling lies on his behalf.

This recording is no different than the dozens if not hundreds of other pieces of evidence of Trump’s strong-arm tactics to make the machinery of the government serve his personal interests and not the interests of the people of the United States. (full audio and transcript of the phone call)

Washington Post – Audio: Trump berates Ga. secretary of state, urges him to ‘find’ votes – January 3, 2021

Coup d’etat. That is what this recording is evidence of. An attempted coup by the sitting President of the United States. The word we are looking for here is not coup, however, but traitor. Donald Trump is a traitor to this country and should be treated as such. He should have been treated as a traitor the moment that he attempted to make money off of running for office in 2016. Instead the Republicans of this country have fallen all over themselves to protect him and their perceived power through him. Those who side with him should all be called out as traitors as well. The evidence is undeniable now (has been undeniable to me for more than four years) To deny the evidence now, is treason. 

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facebook.com/Stonekettle

Postscript

This article was/will be incorporated into an article I’ve titled That’s All Folks. Like all my articles on Trump, I’m just waiting for some kind of endpoint to work from that doesn’t feel imaginary. I am determined that I will not wait the two to four years it will take for his trials to wind their way through the judicial system.

It’s 6:00 AM Again

For as long as the press has existed, it has been shambling and imperfect and improvisational. At our best we get things right on average, and incrementally, with a lot of getting things wrong along the way. Most of us in this business do our imperfect best. But any hope of doing better depends on the ability to learn. Soon the clock will show 6:00 a.m. once more; the alarm will start blaring “I Got You Babe” another time. This day, we can do better.

theatlantic.com

I made the Groundhog Day comparison more than a year ago.

May 13th of 2018, to be precise. Practicing due diligence I should also note that Stonekettle proposed Bedazzled as the film that embodied America under Trump, and it’s inability to cope with the onslaught of abuse and bullshit that Trump’s America embodies. More broadly, he was making the point that you vote for the other guy if the guy that is currently leading the country is so bad at his job that even a vacant office would probably do a better job than he is doing. That seeking power for power’s sake should be a category of exclusion for political office.

The media that James Fallows at The Atlantic is lambasting is simply a part of Trump’s America. Everyone is running around virtually clueless about what is news these days because the firehose of bullshit from the White House never gives them a chance to look up and notice that they are about to drown in bullshit. The media have been trained over years of servicing the metric of who is paying attention? and how many people are paying attention? Trained to produce the click-baitiest headlines and content that they can improvise, and to go where the will-o-the-wisp of viral scandals takes them.

Doing so under the leadership of a creature like President Trump is to follow the Judas goat into the slaughterhouse. unless you want to be killed, following the judas goat or the bellwether is a pretty stupid thing to do. The people who point to their opponents and call them sheeple might have a point if they weren’t so dedicatedly heading down their own road to slaughter. Newspapers and television stations, as well as news websites, should make a point not to follow the trends, not to film where all the eyes are pointed, if they want to survive the dystopian hell we find ourselves in today. It is the news outlets that tell you true things that you don’t already know that are really generating news. The rest of the pack are nothing more than ambulance chasers.

There should be no articles in the media that contain the words Donald Trump Says at this late date in the game. Donald Trump says a lot of things, almost all of them bullshit. Repeating what he says, even listening to what he says, is a waste of time. I know, I know, the media have to keep track of that stuff, and I think that the heroes over at the Washington Post should get the congressional medal of honor for cataloging Trump’s lies. The guys who tape the presidential documents back together for the archive should join them in getting a medal. But the majority of Americans do not care what the bastard says from minute to minute. Trust me. We don’t need to know once he isn’t in office anymore.

Today’s political news can be boiled down to two major points. Some variant of these two headlines should be on every paper, television station and website in the United States. Yesterday, today, tomorrow, ad nauseum until election day. Which two headlines?

The first one should be a running tally of the number of COVID dead in the United States and an underscoring of just how many tens of thousands of deaths could have been avoided had President Trump simply done the job that he took an oath to do. This should be hammered home, again, and again, and again until Trump’s approval numbers start to flag.

The other headline should be variants of this one,

Stories that detail exactly how fucking bad the economy is for the average American. Stories about people losing their homes. Stories about people who are starving. Stories about people who haven’t got a pot to piss in because of President Trump, but they mysteriously will still vote for him this year because they think that Satanists (AKA, Democrats) are having sex with and eating children, and that Joe Biden will initiate the race war that will deliver the United States to the brown-skinned people who really aren’t Americans.

The third viable political headline? Rachel Maddow 9/15/2020

The #MAGA: Qanon Fantasies are just an extension of the Satanic panic of the 90’s. There is no there there. The nitpicking about the politics of Kamala Harris and Joe Biden is nothing more than sour grapes. America wants to return to the Obama years, back when we could go to a movie theater and watch a movie in a crowd and laugh and not worrying about dying in two weeks from a virus you picked up there. The years when the vast majority of Americans could actually afford to go to the theater, or a restaurant or just be able to buy food. America longs for the Obama years and so picked Joe Biden as the nominee to run against the butcher of brown children. The plague-carrying chef that just can’t stop himself from baking his shit into every meal he serves up. Against that backdrop, Joe Biden is a bright spring morning. The kind of day you used to wake up to and be thankful to be alive.

Anyone who votes for Donald Trump and are themselves not wealthy con artists is a fool. Donald Trump is the president of con artists, the kind of con artists that run evangelical churches all across America. Those are his people. His Stormtrumpers.

Stormtrumpers are so afraid of socialism that they will conspire with socialist dictators in order to stop the Democrats from creating American socialism. Never mind that they can’t define what socialism is, they know they are afraid of it and they won’t vote for someone who labels themselves a socialist (this is why Bernie Sanders is not the Democratic nominee. -ed.) Rudy, how far you have fallen. Russia, China and the rest of the enemies of American-styled liberal democracies are working as hard as they can to make sure Trump wins re-election. They want the United States to come apart at the seams. They, like the proud boys they sponsor, want the boogaloo get started. They want us fighting each other and not noticing them as they crack down on their own populations.

We cannot allow this to happen. We have to put our backs to the wheel and get this country back on the road before the zombie hordes catch up to the bus we are traveling in. If we are overrun, then nothing stands between average people and the criminal element that Donald Trump empowers. Vladimir Putin is the poster child for these criminal enterprises, and he hopes to lead a world-wide organization of mobsters that will continue to live amidst wealth while the common people starve. Then we will have the future that George Orwell predicted, just a few short decades after 1984. Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping would love to be able to indoctrinate their subject peoples to believe whatever silly thing they decree. Xi Jinping is already do it to the Uyghurs.

We need to redefine what politics is in this country. We cannot afford to have half of the country sitting on their hands when it comes time to pick leaders. To paraphrase a podcaster that I listened to recently, Politics is not a marriage. Politics is public transportation. Candidates are just the transportation that you take to get closer to your political goals. You don’t have to spend your entire life with that person, picking up after them, washing their laundry, reminding them where they left their phone and their keys. You just have to acknowledge that they make the right noises and that they have historically acted in a fashion that confirms that the noises they make a generally truthful, and then you vote for the candidate and hope they don’t embarrass or betray you before they leave office.

…if your vote didn’t matter, they wouldn’t be working so damned hard to keep you from exercising it. Get your ass to the polls, no matter what.

stonekettle.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.

Face Covering

FacebookAustin Mayor Steve AdlerGot a Minute? – Monday, April 27

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 months. 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 President 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. Donald Trump 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. Trump will say those aren’t coronavirus deaths. The cities and states will say they were coronavirus deaths. Trump 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. Trump 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 Caudito Trump 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

Trump was ignoring the signs that COVID-19 was going to be a problem until he couldn’t ignore them 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 Caudito Trump 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.

Postscript

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.

October 29, 2020. I’m still wearing a mask outdoors to walk. I have made a total of three forays outside the house that were more than just taking a walk, all of those were to go to a doctor’s visit or to get my flu shot (Get your flu shots) I have worn a mask every time I have met anyone at a distance of less than six feet anywhere that I meet people who are not my immediate family. My ballot did show up early, and it was mailed back early. Fingers crossed that they clerk has it already and that it avoided being delayed by Donald Trump’s perversion of the Post Office. Just another impeachable act in a near-infinite list of impeachable acts committed by Donald Trump while in office.

Mayor Adler has become my own personal Mr. Rogers. I listen to him whenever I feel stressed and need to calm down. He is the spiritual opposite of the poisonous snake that currently inhabits 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Despite Mayor Adler’s best efforts, Austin has never gotten a low enough case count for life here to return to something akin to normal. This is the new normal. Hiding in our houses. Wearing masks when we go out. No bars or clubs (not that I went to those anymore anyway) Restaurants all but completely closed, takeout the normal way that you get food you don’t prepare yourself now.

Wearing a burqa seems sane now. Biometric identification seems necessary now. How can you trust a photo ID when you can’t see someone’s whole face? The backlash against even the minimal health requirements that have been put in place says to me that there will be blood spilled over the subject of complying with health standards soon. There will be blood spilled because we’re going to have to get serious to beat this bug and the other bugs that we have been ignoring at our own peril for decades. Don’t get me started on the subject of Antimicrobial resistance. Solving that medical problem is going to also take the kinds of controls that Americans in general will not be ready to embrace.

Coronavirus Panic

How the Trump administration is incapable of preventing a panic due to the very nature of what the Trump administration is. Also, how can you tell if you have COVID-19? What should I do to avoid getting sick?

It is the last day of February 2020. It’s a leap year this year so that means the date is the 29th and not the usual 28th. Every four years we add in another day so that the calendar that most of human society uses to mark annual time doesn’t slip off of the real cycles of the planet around the day-star, what we refer to as the sun.

We add that day into the calendars every four years (Every year that is exactly divisible by four is a leap year, except for years that are exactly divisible by 100, but these centurial years are leap years if they are exactly divisible by 400) because generations of measuring solar data had revealed that the previous most common calendar, the Julian calendar (created in 709 AUC, 45 BC) was off by some increment of days in the year, even though it too had an additional day every four years. For more than 2000 years we have been able to mark time uniformly through the use of science and observation.

This is an ironical fact. That the day that exists where it does in the calendar, exists because of science, is the day that marks the first US death of a COVID-19 coronavirus sufferer. He, and probably most of the people in his nursing home, has died and will die because of the Trump administrations denial of science and facts. This latest death that can be blamed on the Trump administration is just the tip of the iceberg. Just the bit of hell that we are about to collide with over the coming months when it comes to our sociopathic president and his unwillingness to accept reality as it exists around him.

…But I’m jumping ahead to the end of the story. For those who haven’t been keeping track of the subject of this latest adventure in epidemiology, I penned a quick piece on the blog the first time I heard a news story about the subject. At the time I wondered about its origins, and whether it stemmed from loosely regulated Chinese genomic explorations. I titled it:

…but the virus was rather quickly determined to stem from wet markets in the Wuhan province of China (Revenge of the Pangolin? -ed.) where the first cases of the viral infection surfaced. That was a month ago. Today, at the end of February, we have President Trump insisting that this coronavirus is a thing that is magically going to be going away while the stock markets crash around him, and his yes-men are running around declaring that the stock markets are crashing because Democrats want to get rid of president Trump.

All Things Considered – How The United States Failed To See The Coronavirus Crisis Coming – April 3, 2020

We also have the Russians cooking up conspiracy fantasies and spreading them all over the internet, some of which are being spread by President Trump’s Stormtrumpers. So it is only a matter of time before the President himself starts demanding to have Bill Gates prosecuted for creating the COVID-19 virus. For all you people who think this is a grand conspiracy playing out around us, just ask yourselves this: what does it say about your belief in an all-powerful government/corporate structure that the coronavirus is so ineffective at killing people?

We’re going to give everyone in the world a bad cold! Mwah, hah, hah, hah!

Now, a worldwide pandemic caused by a virus that bears similarity to four other cold viruses, one that is novel or new and so hasn’t been encountered by your immune system before, is going to have a higher death toll than you would get from a virus that a good number of people’s systems are already partially resistant to. The best minds that I’ve heard speak on the subject compare what is about to happen to the world to what occurred during the Spanish flu epidemic in 1918-1919 (Wikipedia) We can postulate a 2% death rate from the virus based on statistics from the countries where the virus first emerged and spread, which means that 98% of people who catch it will be fine (80% will be fine without medical intervention. 18% of those who require medical intervention will survive. -ed.) Like this guy’s story.

As of my most recent test, on Thursday, I am still testing positive for the virus. But by now, I don’t require much medical care. The nurses check my temperature twice a day and draw my blood, because I’ve agreed to participate in a clinical study to try to find a treatment for coronavirus. If I test negative three days in a row, then I get to leave.

Washington Post

As Jeff Jarvis noted on Twitter today, that report represents N=1 which makes it largely pointless. COVID-19 is a lot like the spanish flu in spread rates and death rates, as I noted previously. That means that if at least a billion people catch it, 20+ million people could die from it (214 million Americans infected, 1.7 million dead worst case projections from the CDC -ed.) So you will probably survive the virus if you get proper treatment and you aren’t in the group that is showing susceptibility to the virus. Who is in that group? People who have diabetes. People who have hypertension. People who have compromised immune systems. People like me, dear reader. You will probably live. I will probably die without hospitalization, and I might even die then.

Lipsitch predicts that, within the coming year, some 40 to 70 percent of people around the world will be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. But, he clarifies emphatically, this does not mean that all will have severe illnesses. “It’s likely that many will have mild disease, or may be asymptomatic,” he said. As with influenza, which is often life-threatening to people with chronic health conditions and of older age, most cases pass without medical care. (Overall, around 14 percent of people with influenza have no symptoms.)

Lipsitch is far from alone in his belief that this virus will continue to spread widely. The emerging consensus among epidemiologists is that the most likely outcome of this outbreak is a new seasonal disease—a fifth “endemic” coronavirus. With the other four, people are not known to develop long-lasting immunity. If this one follows suit, and if the disease continues to be as severe as it is now, “cold and flu season” could become “cold and flu and COVID-19 season.”

The Atlantic

Them’s the breaks. One might dismiss all of the noise around the emergence of COVID-19 as fruforaw, much like the noise and smoke around the so many other looming epidemics that have not turned out to be civilization ending events, if the stock markets hadn’t crashed and if the United States was actually prepared and ready for the millions of cases of people needing to be hospitalized and requiring ventilators in order to continue breathing and living. But we aren’t prepared, and therefore the smoke and noise probably conceal a real fire that needs addressing.

That part of the story was the good news, the part where 98% of the infected people will live. Now for the part where people are already dying here in the United States, today. The first death to the COVID-19 coronavirus here has been attributed to be this poor nameless man in Washington state (It wasn’t. The first death was weeks earlier in California. -ed.)

Health officials in Washington state said on Saturday a coronavirus patient has died, marking the first death in the U.S. from COVID-19, the illness associated with the virus.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it’s responding to “the first possible outbreak” of the respiratory illness in a long-term care center in Washington. The death was not associated with that facility.

Health officials in Washington said 27 patients and 25 staff members at the center have symptoms associated with COVID-19.

NBCAPNew York Times

…which means that not only is the virus spreading in the US undetected, but that it has been spreading undetected in the US for at least two weeks already. The virus is spreading undetected because we have a president who is more concerned about re-election and the stock market than he is about the possible death toll that his mismanagement of this crisis might yield.

Mismanagement? Definitely. His political appointees to Health and Human Services (HHS) have violated CDC guidelines at every turn. They did not observe quarantine procedures in Japan where the passengers of the cruise ship were flown by helicopter after being evacuated from the ship. They then ignored the advice of these same officials and flew the sick people back to the United States.

TwitterNew York Magazine: Intelligencer

These same HHS officials violated quarantine on the Air Force base where the returnees from Japan were being housed, and then promptly got on planes full of people to fly back to the regions of the country that they had come from originally. All of them possibly infected with the virus that they were supposed to be trying to stop from spreading.

The CDC guidelines for dealing with the spread of infectious diseases have been built up over time, like our calendars and our understanding of the solar system was built up over time. Since Ignaz Semmelweis first proposed handwashing as a preventative to spreading puerperal fever among patients at the hospitals that he supervised, the ignorant have insisted that they knew better what should or shouldn’t be done when it came to the treatment of illness. Always, in the end, science wins out and procedures change so as to encompass the way the world really works, as opposed to the way that the ignorant want it to work.

Short Wave – The Surprising Origin Of Some Timely Advice: Wash Your Hands – January 31, 2020

President Trump doesn’t understand science. His Stormtrumpers don’t understand science. His HHS political appointees don’t understand science. The Republican party itself not only doesn’t understand science, but actively denies science in their bid to stubbornly keep doing exactly the same thing they’ve been doing for the last hundred years. They deny science and their wilful ignorance might well get us all killed in the end, if the worst predictions of climate scientists come to be reality.

We have slowly clawed ourselves up over the course of millennia in our pursuit of understanding who we are and what our place in the universe is. That is what science is. It started with accurate measurements of the world and then the solar system more than two thousand years ago, and now we are mapping the genome and altering the course of mindless natural processes for the first time in man’s history.

…And President Trump wants us to throw it all away because he might not get re-elected if we do what we should be doing right now. He put his Vice President, Mike Pence, in charge of the political process that will govern how we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. This fact should scare you if nothing else will. Mike Pence tried to cure the AIDS epidemic with prayer, when he was governor of Indiana. He prayed before he finally agreed to allow needle exchanges, which is probably code for he asked his wife what to do, and she slapped him and told him to allow the exchanges to occur.

However, Mike Pence will now control all communications at the federal level as it pertains to the emerging pandemic. Which means we won’t hear anything about the subject, except that it is all under control. They will be able to say this because they currently aren’t testing anyone for the virus (Now they say they will test. -ed.) They aren’t testing because the first test kits they made were faulty and so did not give reliable results, and they aren’t approving widespread use of any new kits they might make.

It has gotten so bad that New York is now creating its own test kit so as to be certain that they will have enough kits to meet the projected demand for them in their state. They are only the first state to do this. Every US state will have to commision the creation of their own kits, eventually, if they are serious about tracking the progress of this virus across their populations.

President Trump will never admit that his own HHS officials spread the disease because of their reckless behavior, their violations of quarantine procedures. But the most likely culprits for these non-travel related COVID-19 cases are those very same officials. The science-denying president and his science-denying supporters are now betrayed by their own wilful ignorance. If the death toll of twenty million people could somehow be limited to their numbers, I would count that as justice served. It won’t happen like that, unfortunately. Millions of innocent people will now die because political operatives in the United States can’t bear to be held responsible for their own actions.

I thought we were supposed to be the free people. Freedonia? So much for that idea. Now our leaders are no better than the ayatollahs in Iran, pretending that our people are not dying while glorying in their ability to retain political power behind the mask of religion. This is what happens when you let the wrong people run your government. This is what happens when you deny science. I hope our children live long enough to learn from our bad examples.

Life Kit – 5 Ways To Prevent And Prepare For The Coronavirus – February 28, 2020 (Shortwave podcast)


On March 4th we learned that patients aren’t being tested, even though they showed symptoms for the COVID-19 virus. One of them was not tested for five days. Five days.

Morning Edition – Delays In Coronavirus Testing Creates Confusion, Questions – March 4, 2020

What are those symptoms?

COVID-19 symptoms can range from asymptomatic to severe pneumonia leading to organ failure and death. COVID-19 in most people is mild and resembles the common cold. According to the WHO, symptoms include fever (87.9%), dry cough (67.7%), fatigue (38.1%), sputum production (33.4%), shortness of breath (18.6%), sore throat (13.9%), headache (13.6%), muscle or joint aches (14.8%), chills (11.4%), nausea or vomiting (5.0%), nasal congestion (4.8%), diarrhea (3.7%), coughing up blood (0.9%), and conjunctival congestion (0.8%). Symptoms generally occur an average of 5-6 days after infection, but the range is from one to 14 days.

Sciencebasedmedicine.org

(graphic removed / text revised 3/17/20. I hated linking to a Medium article in the first place. Medium uses paywalls. -ed.)

Embedded – Covering Covid: Not Enough Tests – April 4, 2020

Our not testing people, canvassing cities looking for cases among the homeless, the park goers, the partiers, going door to door in residential areas, is how the spread of the virus continues unabated. Italy demonstrated this as reported today (March 17, 2020 – Financial Times) reducing the transmission rate in the town where this method of tracking has been tested to 0%. You’d think we’d have figured this out given the excellent demonstration by South Korea (not to mention China and Singapore, but we don’t have to go as far as they did to have an impact) of the effectiveness of easy and thorough testing of the population, but apparently not.

The math is a known quantity. With an R0 (are-naught) over 1 the coronavirus spreads, and it spreads fast (the R0 in Wuhan might have been as high as 6 before China cracked down and forced quarantine. It could be as high as 6 to 9 if we were not trying to practice social distancing. What is R0? -ed) The fact that people can be (and frequently are) asymptomatic means that there are a lot of infected people out there who don’t even know that they are already infected. If you are in the groups that are at risk (elderly, immunocompromised, hypertension, lung disease, diabetes, etc) then you should not be in a group of people that you don’t already spend all your time around, and those people should not be near other people if they can help it. Those are the math facts that we have to deal with for at least the next month, and I say we because I am a member of the at-risk group just like a lot of other people.

Here are some tips from a virologist concerning how to avoid infections, viral or otherwise:

  1. NO HANDSHAKING! Use a fist bump, slight bow, elbow bump, etc.
  2. Use ONLY your knuckle to touch light switches. elevator buttons, etc.. Lift the gasoline dispenser with a paper towel or use a disposable glove.
  3. Open doors with your closed fist or hip – do not grasp the handle with your hand, unless there is no other way to open the door. Especially important on bathroom and post office/commercial doors.
  4. Use disinfectant wipes at the stores when they are available, including wiping the handle and child seat in grocery carts.
  5. Wash your hands with soap for 10-20 seconds and/or use a greater than 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer whenever you return home from ANY activity that involves locations where other people have been.
  6. Keep a bottle of sanitizer available at each of your home’s entrances. AND in your car for use after getting gas or touching other contaminated objects when you can’t immediately wash your hands.
  7. If possible, cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue and discard. Use your elbow only if you have to. The clothing on your elbow will contain infectious virus that can be passed on for up to a week or more!

From Snopes.com: Did a Noted Pathologist Write This Viral Coronavirus Advice Letter? (yes he did) I’m going to have to work on not shaking hands. I’ve trained myself not to touch my face over the course of the last fifteen years, ever since my immunologist informed me I was immune compromised. Realizing that having to take antibiotics was the least worst outcome (worst? Painful death) from casually infecting myself with pathogens that I willingly put on my face, in my eyes and nose.

I don’t use the sanitizers much because I have been a compulsive hand washer since I was pre-pubescent. I have to make myself not scrub the skin off my hands on a regular basis. He goes on to recommend zinc lozenges later in the quoted text. Taking zinc to prevent or limit infections borders on woo for me. But, if it makes you feel better to take it, knock yourself out. I won’t be doing that.

Short Wave – Coronavirus Can Live On Surfaces For Days – March 18, 2020

…and be ready to do all that you can (within reason) to avoid getting sick. The Trump administration will not be letting just anybody get the COVID-19 vaccine if one becomes available.

(As of December 2020, two vaccines have been approved for use in the United States. The Trump administration has bungled that roll-out along with everything else it has bungled this year. President Trump claimed credit for the vaccines creation even though the corporations who have produced a vaccine were working on their vaccines before he created his idiotic Operation Warp Speed. Standard operating procedure applies. -ed.)

TwitterForbes

WikiTribune has a Sub-Wiki for the COVID-19 epidemic. If you are like me and want to be up to date on the subject of the now-occurring pandemic, feel free to join me over on WT.Social.

I don’t have an account for the site at this link Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins CSSE but here is a image of the site as it displayed on March the 5th. The timestamp will tell you what time in the morning I was still obsessively working on the blog.

Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins CSSE

(Compare March’s map above to December’s map, below. What a difference nine months makes, eh? -ed.)

Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins CSSE

Modeling scenarios run along these lines,

Here’s the grimmest version of life a year from now: More than two million Americans have died from the new coronavirus, almost all mourned without funerals. Countless others have died because hospitals are too overwhelmed to deal adequately with heart attacks, asthma and diabetic crises. The economy has cratered into a depression, for fiscal and monetary policy are ineffective when people fear going out, businesses are closed and tens of millions of people are unemployed. A vaccine still seems far off, immunity among those who have recovered proves fleeting and the coronavirus has joined the seasonal flu as a recurring peril.

Yet here’s an alternative scenario for March 2021: Life largely returned to normal by the late summer of 2020, and the economy has rebounded strongly. The United States used a sharp, short shock in the spring of 2020 to break the cycle of transmission; warm weather then reduced new infections and provided a summer respite for the Northern Hemisphere. By the second wave in the fall, mutations had attenuated the coronavirus, many people were immune and drugs were shown effective in treating it and even in reducing infection. Thousands of Americans died, mostly octogenarians and nonagenarians and some with respiratory conditions, but by February 2021, vaccinations were introduced worldwide and the virus was conquered.

New York Times

To get to the better modeling scenario we need to flatten the curve,

Twitter – Dr. Siouxsie Wiles h/t to Sciencebasedmedicine.org

…and raise the line,

Twitter – Benjamin Kerr h/t to Liz Specht whose tweet I removed in favor of the NYT opinion article that offered an over/under analysis of the pandemic modeling. I also removed the tweet from drg1985 (Dr. David Robert Grimes) because, while his input was helpful at the time, it wasn’t really what I described it as when I first wrote this article. -ed.

There are no treatments for infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (Covid-19) no matter what President Trump says or tweets about. If you haven’t figured that out already, then I’m amazed that you can tie your shoelaces by yourself in the morning.

sciencebasedmedicine.org

Quinine is an ingredient in a proper gin & tonic. It is not a real treatment for illness no matter what anyone tells you. Quinine was a treatment for Malaria more than a century ago. Malaria still exists because we’ve never developed a vaccine for it. Maybe now that malaria is appearing in Florida again we will get around to that.


On March 16th the national directive to practice social distancing was issued, but without any enforcement provisions at the local level. We are now eight days into the fifteen days that President Trump originally requested, and some cities (Austin) and states (Texas) are issuing directives based on their powers to quarantine as established in previous epidemics. If you think that social distancing and mandated quarantines are not effective, look at this comparison chart and see the difference a few days made.

The Rachel Maddow show – April 23, 2020 (Feedly download link for the video)(A better image from later in the pandemic -ed.)
RACHEL MADDOW – Doctor whose prescience saved countless lives reflects on first stay-at-home order – April 23, 2020

We have yet to see if the state or federal governments have made any headway towards ending this crisis by mandating a ramping up of production of necessary goods or by authorizing the creation of necessary extra hospital beds. (No. They didn’t. They did manage to get extra hospital beds when they converted the now-unusable indoor auditoriums and convention spaces into hospitals. We are still having shortages of personal protection equipment. I’m typing this note in December of 2020.-ed.) President Trump is busy trying to steal money from the American people by creating a 500 billion dollar slush fund that his treasury secretary can then hand straight over to him as compensation for all his golf courses and hotels being closed.

Afterword

I pulled the last addendum from the Crake article that I wrote in January (and linked previously in this article) and I moved it here and expanded on it significantly. The featured image of my Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy novelty towel (with Don’t Panic! written on it in large friendly letters) was used specifically to help calm myself and others. I’m freaking out about the virus as I sit here editing, and I know that freaking out is not helpful.

Voilà, I’ve written a sanity mantra that I can read to myself as many times as it takes to put myself to sleep until this pandemic has run its course. May we all be there to witness that. I am scrapping most attempts at further writing on this subject and burying myself in World of Warcraft for the next two weeks, two months, two years, however long it takes. Maybe something non-virus-related will occur to me in the meantime. As I come across new information on the pandemic I may or may not edit it into this article. So if the article looks like it has changed, I have now told you that it would.

I knew back in March when I first contemplated writing this piece that we would be in for a long haul if the Trump administration could not keep the virus out of the country, and failing that, if they could not control the spread of the virus. I have yet to be surprised by the incompetence of this president and his administration, unfortunately.

As the Johns Hopkins image I just added (12/23/20) illustrates, President Trump has failed on all fronts as an effective leader during this crisis. I still marvel at the fact that he won a single state in the election, given the complete meltdown that the country has gone through over the last year under his leadership. Perhaps we deserve the disaster we are going through, given the blindness of our people.

Everything we do before a pandemic will seem alarmist. Everything we do after a pandemic will seem inadequate.

Michael Levitt, former Secretary of Health and Human Services

Witness to Three Impeachments

Zoe Lofgren is one of the impeachment managers who presented the Articles of Impeachment for Donald John Trump to the Senate and will be part of the prosecution of the Houses’ case for impeachment.

She was elected to the House of Representatives in 1995, and was on the Judiciary committee when the impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton was being conducted.

She was an aide to Representative Don Edwards (D-Calif.), who sat on the House Judiciary Committee in 1973. She was sent to Washington to work on a bankruptcy bill but was swept up in the Nixon impeachment inquiry.

Everybody got sucked into the tornado that was the impeachment inquiry. I was a law student, so I wasn’t running the show, but I did work on it. You had a sense of how historic it was, how serious it was. But to be present was both an honor and also an obligation, and to be able to play a small part in something, it felt profound.

Washington Post

So she has a unique perspective on the subject of impeachment.

1A – Rep. Zoe Lofgren On Impeachment, Then And Now – January 18, 2020

I remember when Bill Clinton was impeached. I remember that I was pissed off for having to explain what a blow job was to my then seven-year-old daughter. I understood that Bill Clinton had broken the law. I also understood that what the Republicans were doing was entirely for show. They had no intention of acting on the evidence against him in any real fashion; or perhaps they knew that the charges they could bring against him were insufficient to have him removed from office. They just wanted to embarrass a popular Democratic president, and perhaps keep the next president from being a Democrat.

Morning Edition – The Senate Trial Of Bill Clinton – December 19, 2019

…a task that they weren’t capable of pulling off without the help of the Supreme Court. I knew that if they had been serious about getting Bill Clinton out of the White House, they would have called him on fraternization. But then most of them would also have skeletons in their closets that they wouldn’t have wanted dragged out into public after conducting that trial.

What Bill Clinton did was a crime. However the crime was engaging in a sexual relationship with a direct subordinate, which should be much more of a crime than lying to the grand jury about the sexual relationship. Worse, it was apparently a common practice of his to engage in sex with his subordinates, as other women took pains to testify about. Even to sue him over.

I also remember when Richard Nixon left office. I was a little older than the daughter was when Clinton was impeached, but I remember the sadness and betrayal that many people felt. Betrayal by the president of the people he was supposed to represent. I don’t know how many of my relatives and neighbors supported him before he was found to be culpable by the tapes he was forced to release to the House of Representatives. But I do remember that Grandma didn’t have a single kind word to say about him, so she wouldn’t say much other than he got what was coming to him.

Fresh Air – An Inside Look At The Watergate Prosecution – February 12, 2020

The Watergate Girl by Jill Wine-Banks

Nixon and Clinton both were compelled to release information to the impeachment inquiry that the House embarked upon against them. Both of them understood that the United States government was not just the president. It was the entire nation, figuratively. The U.S. Government is made up of at least the other two branches of government outside of the executive branch, and it is also made up of all the people who worked in all the branches of government that make up the government. It is and was bigger than any one person. That is perhaps the most telling argument against Donald J. Trump. He doesn’t admit that anything is bigger than he is. I doubt he even has the capacity to understand just how small he really is.

It is that lack of understanding that made these events we are witnessing inevitable. Nixon understood that if he was impeached he would be removed from office because the country had turned against him. He knew that he would face prosecution, and that he couldn’t be pardoned if impeached. So he left office on the heels of his even more crooked vice president, Spiro Agnew, the Bag Man of Rachel Maddow’s podcast.

ART19 – Bagman

…and Richard Nixon was pardoned by Spiro Agnew’s replacement, Gerald Ford.

Bill Clinton knew that what he had done was wrong and he apologized to the country. His behavior since that time publicly has been exemplary. I haven’t had to explain one other uncomfortable thing about him to a minor since that day.

Nixon knew when he was beat. Clinton knew how to appease the people who were rightly offended at his behavior. Donald Trump? He doesn’t acknowledge that others exist or that his behavior varies in any way from the absolute straight and narrow, even when caught red handed lying, cheating and stealing. That has been his standard of practice since I first ran across his name back in the days of Trump tower and the Trump Taj Mahal. Donald Trump doesn’t have the presence of mind to understand just how far out on a limb he is right now.

Zoe Lofgren knows how precarious his position is and hopes to hold him accountable for the crimes he has always gotten away with before. I wish her luck in her endeavor. Perhaps someone exercised caveat emptor after all.

Fresh Air – Donald Trump’s Testing Of America – February 17, 2020

A Very Stable Genius by Philip Rucker & Carol Leonnig

#MAGA: Quid Pro Quo or Quod Erat Demonstrandum?

Mr. Trump, the Orange Hate-Monkey, keeps insisting there was no quid pro quo in his phone call with the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky. It’s interesting that he keeps using that phrase. Quid pro quo. He uses like he knows what it means, and his supporters respond like they know what it means.

But they don’t know what it means. Most English speakers don’t know what it means. Quid pro quo is meant to equate to tit for tat or a favor for a favor. Which is what the transcript that Mr. Trump keeps saying exonerated him reveals. He explicitly asks for a favor in exchange for a favor.

On July 25, during a roughly 30-minute phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, our commander in chief engaged in not one, but two acts of bribery — one of the only high crimes, along with treason, specifically delineated by our Constitution.

“You just added another word,” McCarthy said. “No, it’s in the transcript,” Pelley responded. “He said — ‘I’d like you to do a favor though?” McCarthy asked, incredulous. “Yes,” Pelley responded once more, “it’s in the White House transcript.”

The reason McCarthy refused to accept that Trump said those words is because he knew they fit the definition of solicitation to a T. Nobody literally says “Here’s a bribe,” but “I would like you to do us a favor, though” is about as close as it gets.

Washington Post – The transcript Trump released is still the only evidence needed to impeach him

…He engages in two illegal acts in the transcript that he keeps insisting exonerated him. Then he uses the phrase “there was no quid pro quo.” Oddly enough, he is telling the truth when he says that. Think on that for a minute. Donald J. Trump, the president that has told more lies in his few short years as president than any one person can do in the course of a lifetime, is telling the truth about there not being a quid pro quo in that telephone conversation. There was no quid pro quo, if you revert to the meaning of the words as they were used in latin.

The Latin phrase corresponding to the usage of quid pro quo in English is do ut des (Latin for “I give, so that you may give”). Other languages continue to use do ut des for this purpose, while quid pro quo (or its equivalent qui pro quo, as widely used in Italian, French and Spanish) still keeps its original meaning of something being unwillingly mistaken, or erroneously told or understood, instead something else.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

So he’s not substituting something for the thing that he’s promising. He’s not trying to pull the wool over the eyes of Volodymyr Zelensky, trying to get something for nothing. Which is completely the opposite of Donald Trump’s standard of practice. He steals from everybody else, all through his life, and now this time, when he honestly offers a favor for a favor, he gets in trouble. In any other transaction with Donald Trump, Volodymyr Zelensky would have been right to adhere to Caveat Emptor. But this time, Mr. Trump is being honest.

Do me a favor, and I’ll do you a favor. In every other instance in his life, he’d crawfish on that promise. Welsh on the deal. Or to use language that isn’t taken from gangster movies, stab his business partner in the back. He’s rightly pissed off at this. There was no quid pro quo, no attempt to get out of doing what was promised. Donald Trump would have given Volodymyr Zelensky exactly what he wanted in exchange for Zelensky doing what Mr. Trump asked for.

English speakers do this frequently. Reverse the meanings of words used in casual parlance. Sometimes they do this by accident. Sometimes it is done on purpose. But it happens a lot, and you have to wonder if Mr. Trump knows about this reversal of the phrases definition. Does he know, and this is just another showman’s wink at the camera?

It is just too bad for Donald Trump that even asking for the things he asked for is illegal. Even if he has to give the thing that President Zelensky wanted without getting anything in return. Which makes him even madder. No one steals from the Don! Except there is no theft here. Congress approved the aid. It goes without any strings attached, and asking for personal favors in exchange for unconditional aid is looking for bribes. Again, illegal, even if you don’t get the proceeds you ask for.

Ask any lawyer. Asking for a bribe, what in legal terms in the United States and England is defined as a quid pro quo, even if you don’t receive the payment, is a serious crime. Worse than lying under oath, even. The transcript that Mr. Trump caused to be released and insists exonerated him, proves that he asked for a bribe. That is quod erat demonstrandum or Q.E.D. Another latin phrase that Mr. Trump and his supporters should familiarize themselves with. This one means exactly what it says, unlike quid pro quo.

“The very thing it was required to have shown.”

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

If it please the court? I’d like to enter exhibit A into the record.


Stay Tuned with Preet – Impeaching 45 (with Susan Glasser)

..In which Preet and Susan discuss just how the transcript is QED for Trump’s criminality (without using the phrase directly) and their wonderment that this farce of the Trump presidency has been allowed to continue to destroy the government and reputation of the United States for as long as it has.

I’d love to have a membership to the Insider. I hear it makes a great gift.

Mailed to Freedom

“I felt my eyes swelling as though they would burst from their sockets, and the veins on my temples were dreadfully distended with pressure of blood upon my head,” Brown wrote. “I felt a cold sweat coming over me that seemed to be warning that death was about to terminate my earthly miseries.”

Washington Post – Henry ‘Box’ Brown

…he then turned his escape into an act that he made a fortune with.

Impeachment

The word impeach enters English in the 1380s as the Middle English empechen, which meant “to impede,” “hinder,” or “prevent.”  It was borrowed from the Old French empechier, in turn from the Late Latin impedicāre, “to fetter,” “entangle,” or “catch.” The root of impedicāre is pedica, “shackles,” formed from pēs, “foot,” yielding words from pawn to pedestrian to impede. As the metaphor goes, to shackle one’s feet is to stop them from walking, hence impeach’s historical sense of “hinder.”

Mashed RadishWhat is the “Peach” in “Impeachment”?

What, exactly, is ugly about this word? I rather like it.

Hat/Tip to Eric Buck and The Washington Post

StitcherThe Intelligence – Marching orders: impeachment around the world – Dec 18, 2019

The rest of the world seems to be doing this impeachment thing a lot better than we do.

Newspeak 101

Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told of the list of forbidden words at a meeting Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget, according to an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing. The forbidden words are “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”

The Washington Post

When people use the adjective Orwellian, this is exactly what they mean.