Friday, July 23, 2021

Finally, Somebody Makes Sense About Vaccine Refusal!

Certified nursing assistants make up the largest group of employees working in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, providing roughly 90 percent of direct patient care. They are typically overworked and underpaid, most earning about $13 per hour and receiving no paid sick leave or other benefits, said Lori Porter, co-founder and CEO of the National Association of Health Care Assistants.

Porter said she is not completely surprised by the low vaccination rate. It comes down to trust, she said, both of the vaccines and of facility administrators who now say staff must get vaccinated. Refusal may feel like empowerment. “It’s the first time ever they have had the ball in their court,” Porter said.

 I don't like it, but it makes sense.

Two sisters, both nurses; one is vaccinated, one is not:

Her sister, Ashley Lucas, lives 900 miles away in Orbisonia, a small town of around 500 people about an hour south of State College. She’s a traveling certified nursing assistant at area nursing homes and chose to skip the vaccine.

Her fiance and her children, ages 12 and 13, are also unvaccinated. “I don’t consider myself an anti-vaxxer,” she told ProPublica, bristling that some might see her as reckless or ill-informed.

Instead, she said her decision was carefully considered. It never made sense to her, she said, that the virus seemed to strike randomly, with some residents getting sick while others did not. She said she is not convinced the vaccine would change the odds.

She’s also concerned after hearing that the vaccine could interfere with fertility — a contention that has been deemed false by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. It all leads her to believe more research is needed into the vaccines’ long-term effects.

“This is just a personal choice and I feel it should be a free choice,” she said. “I think it’s been forced on us way too much.”

I suppose yelling at her, or calling her stupid, or showing her pictures of Biden with young celebrities, would help? Her sister telling her to get vaccinated hasn't.

And again, the sweeping generalities obscure the thorny particularities:

“Nursing home workers certainly have the right to make decisions about their own health and welfare, but they don’t have the right to place vulnerable residents at risk,” said Lawrence Gostin, a health law professor at Georgetown University. “Nursing homes don’t just have the power to require vaccinations, they have the duty.”

Still, the issue is far from resolved.

“America is a highly litigious country,” Gostin said, “I expect the courts to consistently uphold nursing home mandates, because they are entirely lawful and justified. But there will likely be lawsuits at least until it is quite clear they are futile.” 

Lawsuits are expensive.  The only one cited in the article is the case out of Houston, where 153 employees who refused to get vaccinated were fired.  That case is on appeal.  Any others on the horizon? I don't think litigation is the sticking point people looking down from 30,000 feet want it to be.  The real problem, as ever, is people; not systems.

Diane Peters is a registered nurse in the Chicago suburbs who last year worked at a nursing home and is now working at a senior rehabilitation center. She does not trust the science behind the vaccine and is unvaccinated. So is her fiance.

Everything about the rollout felt like propaganda, she said. Development was too rushed. Clinical trials typically take years, she said, not months. “I don’t think it’s safe right now, it needs more time,” she said she tells patients if they ask.

Most don’t, she said. Neither do her co-workers. She has only been asked once by her employer if she was vaccinated, she said, declining to name the company.

Peters guesses about 40 percent of her colleagues are also unvaccinated, but said no one likes to talk about it because the divide surrounding the vaccine is “surreal.” Staff members are tested regularly and are required to wear masks, she said.

She is doubtful mandates would stick. “They can threaten,” she said, “but a lot of nurses would walk.”

She trusts her instincts and her own research for now. When asked what would change her mind, she had one word: “Nothing.” 

Yes, I think she's wrong.  Do I think I can do anything about it? And, as the article points out, there's the problem of hospital and facility staffing.  If you fire everyone who refuses the vaccine, how do you treat the patients? By overworking everyone else?

Step Into The Fire

Explanation: Pence was a toady, through and through.  Had there been a scintilla of a chance of a legal ground for what Trump wanted, Pence was his guy.

All this proves is that Pence wasn't as bad as Giuliani.  And the reason why is probably that Pence would have been responsible for his actions.  Giuliani still doesn't believe he should be responsible for his.  Mostly because lawyers sit next to clients in court and know they (the lawyers) won't be the ones paying the judgment/fine/going to jail.  It becomes reflexive.

Case in point:
Avenatti has a fool for a client. But he obviously also sincerely believes that he's invisible and bulletproof; because he's a lawyer. Lawyers stand next to the fire all the time. They never get burned; only their clients do. And when that happens, the clients brought it on themselves.

How else you gonna stand that close to the fire?

Why English Professors Look Down On “Communications” Professors

Because the analysis in this article ends here:

The new propaganda manufactures dissent. It uses communication as force to keep people engaged and outraged – and it sets us in motion to trample and destroy things.

Two responses: 

1) Well, duh.  If that’s all you have to offer, why did I read the analysis in the first place?  Basic composition:  don't set up a problem for which you don't have a solution, or at least something better than "That's the way it is."

"We are all propagandists now"?  How is that any more than this?

2) Propaganda always manufactures dissent.  The propaganda of the peace activists and the civil rights activists in the ‘60’s was designed to manufacture dissent.  A more cogent analysis would point out how the current right wing dissent is a direct descendant (and perfectly foreseeable effect) of that dissent.

Propaganda doesn’t just manufacture dissent against the status quo.  It is used, as the article points out, to generate a new status quo, such as support for a war.  The “dissent” in that case is against the pre-war status quo, or the tendency to prefer stasis and familiarity over war and crisis and unfamiliarity.  We who come long after the “Great Wars” know the outcome; but at the time?  WWII was a “great victory” because of the ‘50’s recovery boom.  But that war nearly crippled this country, too. We forget how bleak the years of the war, and immediately after, were.  Or how bleak things were in Europe after WWI and then the further horrors of WWII (which was only the postponed completion of the first war).

“Dissent,” in other words, is a very fluid term.  

Mirror, Mirror

"I'll tell you when we take the majority back in 2022, I'll make sure consequences are doled out," Cawthorn promised. "But we want to prosecute this guy to the full ability of the law because I'll tell you to lie to the American people just to get your name in the news just to see your face on the cover of books just to get fame or fortune, I'll tell you, Dr. Anthony Fauci does not deserve either fame or fortune."

Remind me again what Madison Cawthorn has done since taking office?  Besides seek as much fame and notoriety as he can by saying whatever he thinks will get him attention.

Oh, and he's gonna find out the "full ability of the law" is that Fauci can't be prosecuted.  Even Bill Barr wouldn't take up that case.

"Let's You And Him Fight!"

The simple fact is, the value of the Alamo is rapidly shrinking in Texas consciousness. Texas is a minority majority state, and that's going to be felt sooner rather than later in Texas culture and politics. I don't mean the non-whites are going to turn Texas into California (in the way Michael Anton caricatures California), but Texas doesn't live up to Anton's caricature, either.

If you read the book, you find out Phil Collins fell for the myth of the Alamo and the caricature of Texas it embodies, and he burned millions on crap that he thought had historical significance.  I can't find any evidence the museum he demanded in order to donate his collection to Texas is ever going to be built, though I hope not.  (It's a curiosity of how we pay attention to things that people in Houston still want the Astrodome torn down rather than spend money to renovate it, but the millions it would cost to build the museum Collins wants goes unnoticed by all.  One is as big a waste of money as the other, but at least the Astrodome has some historical significance as the first domed stadium.  Collins' collection isn't even that historically valuable.)  So that myth is fading, rapidly; mostly because the Davy Crockett generation who grew up wearing coonskin caps and knows what "Old Betsy" refers to, are fading.

Anton's comment is redolent with stupidity, but he's entitled to that.  But the "spirit of the Alamo" is precisely what the tweet says:  a quick slaughter in an indefensible position by men (including, especially, Travis) who were too arrogant and stupid to do what Sam Houston told them to do:  blow the place up and leave town.  Houston propagandized it into a rallying cry that led his ragamuffin troops to defeat Santa Ana's far superior forces, but it really was just a bloody useless rout.  If that's the spirit that burns in the hearts of Texans, it's a spirit of stupidity and arrogance that leads to disaster.

And that's not true of Texans, either. 

Now, Texans against the Okies....that's a fight I might pay to watch.

So Many Choices!

Or is it just blunt stupidity?

"After seeing the way it has beaten me down like this to next to nothing," he said, "I'm definitely for the vaccination now."

Owen, who's improving but still has trouble breathing, urged other holdouts to get the shots and avoid his fate.

"I'm doing much better," Owen said. "Trying to breathe right now but … I have to remind myself to breathe because the lungs are still a long way from healing."

His wife is still battling the virus at home alone, and Owen said he learned the hard way that no one's immune.

"I guess it attacks whoever (it) wants to at this point," he said.

No shit, Sherlock.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Maybe The Only Pertinent Issue To This Guy Is

How many people are bearing the burden of your stupidity? How many people did you expose to disease, how many people had to work day and night to keep you alive, because you're an idiot? "Issues with the vaccine"? Explain one, in terms that don't involve baseless nonsense and pure ignorance.

You couldn't do it if your life depended on it.  But you are quite comfortable depending on the kindness of strangers exposing themselves to the disease you carry in order to keep you from killing yourself.

This isn't Darwin, this is the central tenet of Christianity:  we are all selfish and self-centered fools.  And there are consequences to our foolishness and our selfishness.  But fortunately there are enough people in society who aren't such fools and so utterly selfish, or people like this man would simply be dying in the gutters.

Which would pose yet another public health problem to the rest of us.  "Don't shove it down my throat."  Aren't you shoving your ignorance off on the small army of people who kept you alive, from the doctors down to the janitors of the hospital?

No, I don't wish him dead.  I would preserve him from the consequences of his actions.  Just keep me away from his stupidity.

You can't fix stupid.

Freedumb!

This is the guy who got traded away or had the freedom to not work, right? So, basically, the NFL hung his work life over his head, yeah?

And what freedom do you have to infect others?

Israel’s “Right To Exist” Includes….

...a right to ice cream?

But Will It Be Bi-Partisan?

Hitch?  What hitch?

I'm old enough to remember when the Republicans were actually considered good at this. And where is the genius of McConnell in the Senate?  Isn't he supposed to have Senatorial rules super-powers?

And what was that about Trump being transactional?

Meanwhile, Republicans Lead The Way On Vaccinations

This behind-the-scenes meeting appears to have appeased members of the conservative supermajority, who just last month accused the Department of Health of pressuring teens to get vaccinated and proposed dissolving the agency.

Since then, the health department instructed staff to end all outreach about adolescent vaccinations – not just coronavirus, but for all diseases – and cancelled COVID-19 vaccination events on school property or intended specifically for teenagers.

But Tennessee isn't in D.C., so it doesn't matter.

Meanwhile, in D.C.:
Cynicism is only when the GOP is NOT in power, right?  GOP still not in disarray!  Official media narrative says so!

And other places where the GOP is leading: I do like the fact CNN puts "bipartisan" in quotes. I guess Liz Cheney is a Democrat, now? Or is she just a RINO?

Everybody’s Got One*

I  don’t think that many of the vaccinated are that political (or, clearly, don’t spend their time in Facebook or FoxNews). I also still don’t see any real evidence of a sea change in GOP opinion on vaccinations.I know WaPo said it; but I think they’re way out over their skis on this one. And Silver assumes most people are as rational as he is. You would expect that when it comes to health matters, but it clearly ain’t so. But the whole analysis rests on WaPo and the number of vaccinated in America.
Highest number I’ve heard repeated over and over is circa 52%. I don’t know where his numbers are coming from, but only about 50% of Texans have at least one shot, and Texas is the most populous state in the south. Almost all the other southern states are barely at 50%, if that. I don’t see how you get to 70% nationwide with so many states well below that number (and Texas second most populous).

Somebody has reliable data; but I’m not sure it’s us.

Not Bad

Better:

Speaking of Government Handouts

Welcome To The Future

My daughter called from Denver Tuesday night to say the smoke in the air is so bad air quality is seriously compromised. She said the moon (waxing to full) was almost invisible due to the smoke. Before she got off the phone she said the moon had disappeared from the sky.

Fine Particulate Matter concentrations are expected to be in the Moderate category on Wednesday, due to the transport of smoke from in-state and out-of-state wildfires. Unusually sensitive people should consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion on Wednesday throughout the Front Range region.

Visibility in Denver on Wednesday is expected to be Poor during the morning, with some improvement to Moderate during the afternoon. 

The transport of smoke from out-of-state wildfires will continue on Wednesday across central and eastern Colorado. Some improvement may be seen on Wednesday as weather patterns shift. Although no major public health impacts are anticipated, unusually sensitive people should consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion on Wednesday, particularly for eastern parts of the state. 

This website mentions smoke from a wildfire in Routt County, which is on the other side of the Rockies from Denver and the Front Range.  The smoke in Denver is coming from Oregon, Idaho, and California.


That's the view from Boulder.  Those aren't clouds.

This, By The Way, Is The "New GOP Line" on Vaccinations

"MASKS BAD! VACCINE GOOD!"  Don't tell people to wear masks, or they'll get confused and not get the vaccine.  Because people are really stupid and really easily confused.

Or something.

Actually, I think that's a more cogent message than the one DeSantis is spouting, which is that people are all 13 year olds on the first day of junior high easily shamed about what they're Mom made 'em wear.
WaPo said everything had changed: I'm still waiting to see the evidence. Or the "GOP in disarray!" stories; whichever comes first.  I am not, on the other hand, holding my breath.  Meanwhile, back in the home state: "We don' need no gummint action! Those people chose! Amirite?"  The GOP just really needs to go with that line.  It was at least have the virtue of unifying them.  Not that the media is ever going to report that the GOP is NOT unified.

If I'm Reading This Right...

Not selling ice cream in Israeli-occupied territories is anti-semitic:

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office said he spoke with Alan Jope, chief executive of Ben & Jerry’s parent company Unilever, and raised concern about what he called a “clearly anti-Israel step.” He said the move would have “serious consequences, legal and otherwise,” and Israel “will act aggressively against all boycott actions directed against its citizens.”

And the proper response to this business decision is for the several states of the Union to sue Ben & Jerry's and Unilever for....making a business decision Israel doesn't like:

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations and the United States, Gilad Erdan, sent letters to 35 governors whose states have laws against boycotting Israel asking that they consider speaking out against Ben & Jerry’s decision “and taking any other relevant steps, including in relation to your state laws and the commercial dealings between Ben & Jerry’s and your state.”

Erdan said Israel views the company’s decision as “the de-facto adoption of anti-Semitic practices and advancement of the de-legitimization of the Jewish state and the dehumanization of the Jewish people.”

“As Arab nations cancel their decades-long boycott of the Jewish state and sign peace agreements with Israel, and cultural and economic cooperation in our region is growing, American companies with radical ideological agendas cannot be allowed to go against the policy of the United States and act against normalization and peace,” Erdan wrote. “Moreover, the past has proven that the citizens of Israel are never the only ones who suffer from such boycotts as these significantly harm Palestinians as well.” 

In case you thought me too harsh, Israel's ambassador to the U.S. says the decision not to sell ice cream is anti-Semitic.  Because:  reasons. And the First Amendment is only for people who love Israel unconditionally; or something.

I'm still a bit confused.  Ben & Jerry's won't sell its ice cream in Israeli-occupied territories.  And this hurts Israel directly because....Israeli citizens in those territories have to drive to Jerusalem to get their Cherry Garcia fix?  I gotta agree the "boycott" (it isn't really that, is it?) strikes me as misguided in the same sense a guided missile loses guidance and goes off course.  This seems to hurt Palestinians more than Israelis, but that's B & J's business, not mine.  But this action is anti-Semitic?  And de-legitimizes the Jewish state, and dehumanizes the Jewish people?

Seriously?  Because of ice cream?

I would say Ben & Jerry's kind of stepped into this one.  

But I also think a lot of people just don't care. Lankford is a U.S. Senator.  He has zero authority in the state of Oklahoma on this.  I'm also thinking boycotting Ben & Jerry's in state operated facilities wouldn't be noticed by anybody in Oklahoma, whereas banning the sale of Ben & Jerry's in Oklahoma would be political suicide.  Aside from the legal problem of the state of Oklahoma interfering with interstate commerce.

Or maybe they all eat Blue Bell up there.  Either way, this is the leadership they have:

Texas Is A Communist State!

"You know what that has to do with? "Wall Street!" Greene remarked. "Vaccines, guess what? People that have gotten vaccines are getting COVID again, testing positive. So here's what will work. We have to fight this government out of controlling our lives. They want full control because if they can shut you down if they can force you to vaccinate your kids, they can force you to vaccinate at work, at school, at church, and wear masks again, they're controlling you and that's how America becomes a communist country."

Who knew?


Diptheria
Pertussis
Tetanus

Polio

Measles
Mumps
Rubella

Hepatitis B

Varicella

Meningococcal

Hepatitis A

Clearly all our students are communists now.  Alternatively, Rep. MTG is as dumb as a post.


Yeah, I Wanna Work In THAT Industry!

I really want to work for people who tell me I'm lazy and all I want is government handouts!

Still Waiting For The GOP To Follow McConnell's Comanding Authority

"We need shots in everybody's arm or we're going to be back in a situation like the fall," Mitch McConnell said in his plea for Republicans to get vaccinated.

Sclapp, however, was unconvinced.

"He's completely wrong," said Schlapp. "What we need to do when it comes to battling this terrible Chinese corona is make sure that people take command of their own health. The best piece of news which you didn't talk about with Fauci which I wish you had, are (sic) the therapeutics that are available for people who get sick. What we're seeing and the doctors I've talked to is great success with the therapeutics that are leading people with underlying conditions—"

Which is where Ari Melber just cut him off; because somebody had to be the responsible adult in that room. 

C-PAC wants you to know they ain't skeered.  Or, really, loyal to anybody but Trump's manias.  Therapeutics?  If you mean respirators, then, yeah.  Otherwise you're talking to the doctor who thinks space aliens are invisibly having sex with us.

Still not seeing any signs the GOP is falling in line.  Yeah, there may be new polling (do they poll the dead and the clinically comatose?).  But it's not bringing the death cult to heel.  Not any time soon, anyway.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Is Daniel Dale Just Trying To Keep Busy?

Or does he just not know what to do with himself after 4 years of Trump?

Gotta be a bit of a come down, Ya know, after having to keep up with that firehose.

Still, feels like he’s reaching, doesn’t it? Sad, really.


Duck Duck Goose

Don't tell Chris Cilizza that; it would just upset him more.
While Pelosi referred only to "concern about statements made and actions taken by these Members," it seems likely that the reason she rejected their appointments to the select committee was because both men voted to object to the Electoral College votes in Pennsylvania and Arizona. (A third appointee, Texas Rep. Troy Nehls, also voted to object but Pelosi said she would be fine with him on the committee -- perhaps because of Nehls background as a sheriff prior to coming to Congress.) 

No matter Pelosi's reasoning, her decision to reject Jordan and Banks, the two most high-profile Republicans put forward by McCarthy, dooms even the possibility of the committee being perceived as bipartisan or its eventual findings being seen as independent.

Jordan and Banks were already bombs waiting to go off, and everybody knows it.  Reality is a bit more like this: 

Does anyone know what Chris Cilizza is talking about? Is he a goose who wakes up in a new world everyday?

But...but...but...bipartisanship! Dems in disarray! SWAMP CREATURES!

This, by the way, is gonna give Cilizza a fit of the vapors!
How does Cilizza find the corner in the round room Cheney just threw him into?

Our Governor Is An Idiot

“There will be no mask mandate imposed, and the reasons for that are very clear,” Abbott told KPRC in Houston on Tuesday. “There are so many people who have immunities to COVID, whether it be through the vaccination, whether it be through their own exposure and their recovery from it, which would be acquired immunity.”

It would be “inappropriate to require people who already have immunity to wear a mask,” Abbott said.

While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks indoors in most settings, the World Health Organization is still encouraging everyone to wear masks while inside.

....

As of Sunday, 43% of Texans were fully vaccinated.

"Hey, I'm tryin' to get re-elected here! Have you seen the GOP in Texas?"

Our governor is an idiot.  He'd rather run as the head of a death cult than as a responsible government official.

QED.

The Age of Miracles And Wonders And Yet We Are Still Humans

“Back in 2020 and early 2021, when the vaccine wasn’t available, it was just tragedy after tragedy after tragedy,” Cobia told AL.com this week. “You know, so many people that did all the right things, and yet still came in, and were critically ill and died.”

...

“A few days later when I call time of death,” continued Cobia on Facebook, “I hug their family members and I tell them the best way to honor their loved one is to go get vaccinated and encourage everyone they know to do the same.”

“They cry. And they tell me they didn’t know. They thought it was a hoax. They thought it was political. They thought because they had a certain blood type or a certain skin color they wouldn’t get as sick. They thought it was ‘just the flu’. But they were wrong. And they wish they could go back. But they can’t. So they thank me and they go get the vaccine. And I go back to my office, write their death note, and say a small prayer that this loss will save more lives.”

More than 11,400 Alabamians have died of COVID so far, but midway through 2021, caring for COVID patients is a different story than it was in the beginning. Cobia said it’s different mentally and emotionally to care for someone who could have prevented their disease but chose not to.

“You kind of go into it thinking, ‘Okay, I’m not going to feel bad for this person, because they make their own choice,’” Cobia said. “But then you actually see them, you see them face to face, and it really changes your whole perspective, because they’re still just a person that thinks that they made the best decision that they could with the information that they have, and all the misinformation that’s out there.

“And now all you really see is their fear and their regret. And even though I may walk into the room thinking, ‘Okay, this is your fault, you did this to yourself,’ when I leave the room, I just see a person that’s really suffering, and that is so regretful for the choice that they made.”

...

“I try to be very non-judgmental when I’m getting a new COVID patient that’s unvaccinated, but I really just started asking them, ‘Why haven’t you gotten the vaccine?’ And I’ll just ask it point blank, in the least judgmental way possible,” she said. “And most of them, they’re very honest, they give me answers. ‘I talked to this person, I saw this thing on Facebook, I got this email, I saw this on the news,’ you know, these are all the reasons that I didn’t get vaccinated.

“And the one question that I always ask them is, did you make an appointment with your primary care doctor and ask them for their opinion on whether or not you should receive the vaccine? And so far, nobody has answered yes to that question.”

Funny thing;  none of them, apparently, mention Trump; or the GOP; or their GOP representatives/senators, etc.  

Welcome to the Information Age.  Remember when the internet was going to usher in a brave new world of wonders and glorious purpose?  Now what are we burdened with?

Oh, and lest you still think this is somebody's fault, somewhere:  Zuckerberg, Trump, Twitter, FoxNews, what have you:

“I’m admitting young healthy people to the hospital with very serious COVID infections,” wrote Cobia, a hospitalist at Grandview Medical Center in Birmingham, in an emotional Facebook post Sunday. “One of the last things they do before they’re intubated is beg me for the vaccine. I hold their hand and tell them that I’m sorry, but it’s too late.”

People just are not the rational decision makers we all assume them to be.  Is government supposed to protect them from that?  Yes, sometimes it is.  Does anyone doubt the necessity of requiring school children to be vaccinated against diptheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, measles, chicken pox?  Aside from the anti-vax barmpots, I mean.  What is happening now is actually predictable, even explainable: people take in information relative to their experience, to their understanding.  I never got a flu shot until I was 65 because, despite my vulnerability to respiratory problems (allergies, mostly), I never got the seasonal flu.  I finally did it because I'm over 65, and decided to reduce my risks.  Alternatively, I got the covid vaccine as soon as I could.

Are these things right, or wrong?

This Could Be Fun

"Unless Speaker Pelosi reverses course and seats all five Republican nominees," McCarthy said, "Republicans will not be party to their sham process and will instead pursue our own investigation of the facts."

Don't let your mouth write checks your ass can't cash.
Nah, man, it'll be totally legit! Meanwhile, the mystery deepens: why would Pelosi bar Gym Jordan from the investigation?

Been Waiting For This Shoe To Drop

Try again, McCarthy. Play-time is over.

"What Life Have You....?"

I haven't read this column, but I don't feel like I have to. And I don't slight the thesis by saying we continue to "discover" problems that have been "discovered" before. By "before" I don't mean by Socrates or the early Church; I mean within the last 50 years.

When I was in seminary the problem du jour (complete with solution, else why have a problem?  Problems must always have possible solutions, otherwise they are not problems, you're just bitching.) was community. It was already cliche, it seems, although it was new to me at the time.  But I discussed the matter with pastors long in the pulpit, and they assured me it was just the newest, and already fading, "solution" to our problems.

So I set it aside, to examine it more critically later.  But I never doubted there was something to it.  We are, after all, social animals.  We had our spate of "loner" heroes, the Dirty Harry's (only a notable version of the extreme example), in American popular culture, the brave individuals (Davey Crockett, whose legend is almost purely the invention of Walt Disney.  Almost everything you think you know about the historical person is from Disney's TV show, not history.) who alone shaped America (and yet we despise Ayn Rand?  Yeah, she was a barmpot, but her ideas were quintessentially 20th century American).  Now our heroes are "family," or make a family, a community, of themselves; and their concerns are other people, not abstract concepts like "evil" and "justice."  There's a reason groups of heroes (Avengers; soon "the Eternals," etc.) are all the rage in blockbuster movies.  Even "Black Widow" was about family (of a sort), not about the singular exploits of the titular character.  This is not to argue for "progress" so much as change. We got tired of Dirty Harry standing alone.  The nadir of that thinking was reached with Margaret Thatcher:

"They are casting their problems at society. And, you know, there's no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look after themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then, also, to look after our neighbours." 

That's really no better nor insightful than Brian Kilmeade's recent declaration about government:

"That's not their (the government's) job. It's not their job to protect anybody."

One is left wondering, in the first case, what families living together in social groups are if not society; and in the second case, just what government is for, if not to protect its citizens.  We can argue about whether or not it is our duty to take care of ourselves first, and our neighbors only secondarily, later. The pendulum, for want of a better metaphor, has swung towards community.

Frankly, 'twas ever thus:

I seek to trace the novel features under which despotism may appear in the world. The first thing that strikes the observation is an innumerable multitude of men, all equal and alike, incessantly endeavoring to procure the petty and paltry pleasures with which they glut their lives. Each of them, living apart, is as a stranger to the fate of all the rest; his children and his private friends constitute to him the whole of mankind. As for the rest of his fellow citizens, he is close to them, but he does not see them; he touches them, but he does not feel them; he exists only in himself and for himself alone; and if his kindred still remain to him, he may be said at any rate to have lost his country.

The "I" there is Alexis de Tocqueville, who probably needs no further introduction. Be honest:  if you don't see Donald Trump outlined in those lines, you are trying not to.  And yet we eagerly set Trump apart as an aberration, as a product of "pathological narcissism," and so as "other" to the American character. But what if he is, in this sense, quintessentially American?  What then?  What if that is the source of his appeal in this country, but not elsewhere in the world?  Indeed, in what other country or culture could he exist?

But note Tocqueville is not describing the American character; he is describing the character of despotism.  And despotism, in Tocqueville's description, arises primarily from the desert of the denial of society (which puts Thatcher's comments in the proper perspective, IMHO).  The springs in that desert are when strangers actually help each other just because they are fellow humans.  The false stories coming out of the Superdome in New Orleans after Katrina were of anarchy and, well, despotism.  The true stories were of the instant community that sprang up there as human beings reduced to common conditions worked to help each other until help could come.  After Hurricane Harvey the idea was floated that a memorial should be erected in Houston, in the form of two men in a bass boat helping strangers escape their flooded houses.  The source for that image was the "Cajun Navy" of individuals who came from Louisiana to help people in Texas.  If that isn't society, what is?

We need community.  "What life have we," Dietrich Bonhoeffer asked, "if we have not life together?"  Even the famous ascetics of the fourth century who fled to the deserts to find God alone in their cells lived in community with each other.  They weren't misanthropes escaping humanity; they were seeking their own humanity.  Anchorites like Julian of Norwich filled a particular niche in medieval Europe, when the church (building and people) was truly the centerpoint of social life.  The anchorite was "dead," living in a cell so placed that she (it was usually women) could participate in the Mass, and also communicate with the parishioners, giving spiritual counseling from the perspectie of one whose life was devoted to seeking God.  They were not in isolation, they were in the heart of their communities.  And their responsibility was to others, not to themselves.  The church members supported them materially, as they supported the members spiritually.

Now stop and add this to the mix:

True reform of the evangelical political machine will never happen, however, as long as the current evangelical leadership holds the reins. Understand that the leaders who have recently been fighting for control of the Southern Baptist Convention are no different than Jerry Falwell Sr. or Pat Robertson in the past, or Robert Jeffress and Franklin Graham today. These new evangelicals feel the need to be more discreet about their homophobia and anti-equality agenda. Perhaps they will even reject Trump now that he's no longer president, but do not expect them to show up at the next Pride rally or Black Lives Matter march. The problem here is that this relationship between the evangelical leadership and the Republican Party has become what Christians call a covenant.

More than a little church history needs to added to this, including the fact the Pentecostal church (an "evangelical" church under the broadest reach of the term) began as a multi-racial and even multi-cultural (remember that term?) church where all were one in the Spirit.  The Southern Baptist Convention, on the other hand, began life as the Baptists loyal to the Confederacy and what it stood for, including slavery.  Not that they are unique in that; the Presbyterian denomination I grew up in was the "southern" branch of a larger denomination, broken again by secession of the southern states.  When they rejoined in my adolescence, a distaff group broke off, insisting the "northern" church was "too liberal."  I took that as theologically liberal at the time; it never occurred to me to question if it had anything to do with racism.  But given the "genetic" nature of institutions, I have to ask the question now.  Where your institution begins has a great deal to do with how it continues.

Which is a digressive way of saying that the "evangelical leadership" that is beholden to American politics didn't begin with Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.  They were no more sui generis than Donald Trump.  I don't remember too many denominations, north or south, evangelical or mainstream, that were all that supportive of Dr. King and his movement, or who escaped censure in his famous Letter.  We have not recently fallen from an ideal and shining past perfection.  Not by a long shot.

Over the last 70 years, Christian theology has been steadily replaced, within the evangelical world, by Republican or "conservative" ideology. I noticed this in my time at an evangelical seminary and during my years in ministry, whenever political discussion would go beyond abortion and gay rights. When the conversation turned towards gun rights, immigration, taxing the wealthy, education or health care, the tenets of Christian theology disappeared behind Republican talking points.

The evangelical political message was that the Bible should be used in politics to attack certain people, but never to question oneself. That's how you get people to donate: Make the enemy clearly visible and easily definable. That's why the Bible is almost never used in politics as a justification for serving the poor, welcoming the foreigner, healing the sick or promoting equality. That agenda is not likely to motivate donations from wealthy white heterosexual men. Therefore, over time the evangelical message became that "American" and "Republican" were more important labels than "Christian" — or that they were effectively the same thing.

True; but it's always been easy to use Christianity as a tool of power.  As Leonard Bernstein wrote for his "Mass:"

God made us the boss!

God gave us the cross!

We turned it into a sword!

To spread the word of the Lord!

We use His holy decrees,

To do whatever we please!

And it was good, brother!

(and it was good, brother!)

And it was goddamned good!

That was in 1971 (when the work premiered).  Falwell wouldn't found the Moral Majority until the '80's.  He opposed integration and civil rights, founding a "segregation academy" in 1966.  But most of us know him for Liberty University (founded in '71, too) and the Moral Majority. Bernstein was writing about history; but it might as well be the present day.  Same as it ever was, in other words.

Before Falwell, it was "In God We Trust" (actually dates back to the 19th century, but it reached the coinage in the 1950's) and adding "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance.  Precious little in the slogan or the altered Pledge that leads one to "serving the poor, welcoming the foreigner, healing the sick or promoting equality."  That should be the focus; but when the purpose is temporal power, that focus is alway, even necessarily, lost.

Evangelical leaders have focused their agenda on protecting things they feel entitled to, while focusing the attention of their followers on what they define as the enemies of God. That fear of God's enemies has allowed billions of dollars of donations to flow into the hands of religious hypocrites. They have convinced millions of Christians that the enemies of God are people who live south of the border, who are coming for their guns, their jobs, their property, their health insurance, their taxes and even their families. Trump tapped masterfully into the fear planted by evangelical leaders in the hearts of their followers. In the end, millions of Christians have abandoned their faith for a narrow-minded political ideology.

True Christian theology commands quite the opposite. A person of faith is not driven by fear, but by love. Grace is extended to the foreigner, forgiveness is offered to the prisoner, health care is offered to the sick, food is offered to the hungry and equality is offered to all.

The whole point of loving your enemy, of turning the other cheek, is that it is an expression of faith in God, and expression as concrete as the widow's when she fed Elijah:

After a while the stream dried up, for there had been no rain in the land. Then the word of the Lord came to him: “Go now to Zarephath, a village of Sidon, and stay there; I have commanded a widow there to feed you.’ He went off to Zarephath, and when he reached the entrance to the village, he saw a widow gathering sticks. He called to her, ‘Please bring me a little water in a pitcher to drink.’ As she went to fetch it, he called after her, ‘Bring me, please, a piece of bread as well.’ But she answered, “As the Lord your God lives, I have no food baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a flask. I am just gathering two or three sticks to go and cook it for my son and myself before we die.’ ‘Have no fear,’ Elijah said, ‘go and do as you have said. But first make me a small cake from what you have and bring it out to me, and after that make something for your son and yourself. For this is the word of the Lord the God of Israel: The jar of flour will not give out, nor the flask of oil fail, until the Lord sends rain on the land.’ She went and did as Elijah had said, and there was food for him and for her family for a long time. The jar of flour did not give out, nor did the flask of oil, as the word of the Lord foretold through Elijah. 1 Kings 17:7-16 (REB)

Faith in God, which is simply to say trust in God, is only made concrete when you extend your trust out to others.  It is not manifest when you store up wealth for yourself and pride yourself on what God has given you.  There is a theology of scarcity, and a theology of the basilea tou theou.  To say one is right, and one is wrong, is to already draw a line and push people to the other side.  But the basiliea tou theou invites everyone in; that's the only way it's the "kingdom of God."  Perhaps it's better to say one theology is wise, and one is not.  Wisdom is always the harder way; and those who try that way always learn humility is necessary just to say on the right path. If you emphasize humility you can't put yourself apart from, or above, others. 

That could certainly be the basis of a healing community.

She Seems Nice

Well, Maybe...

Entrapment:

 Certain criminal offenses, because they are consensual actions taken between and among willing parties, present police with difficult investigative problems. Thus, in order to deter such criminal behavior, police agents may “encourage” persons to engage in criminal behavior, such as selling narcotics or contraband, or they may may seek to test the integrity of public employees, officers or public officials by offering them bribes. In such cases, an “entrapment” defense is often made, though it is unclear whether the basis for the defense is the Due Process Clause, the supervisory authority of the federal courts to deter wrongful police conduct, or merely statutory construction (interpreting criminal laws to find that the legislature would not have intended to punish conduct induced by police agents).

The Court has employed the so-called “subjective approach” in evaluating the defense of entrapment. This subjective approach follows a two-pronged analysis. First, the question is asked whether the offense was induced by a government agent. Second, if the government has induced the defendant to break the law, “the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant was disposed to commit the criminal act prior to first being approached by Government agents.” If the defendant can be shown to have been ready and willing to commit the crime whenever the opportunity presented itself, the defense of entrapment is unavailing, no matter the degree of inducement. On the other hand, “[w]hen the Government’s quest for conviction leads to the apprehension of an otherwise law-abiding citizen who, if left to his own devices, likely would never run afoul of the law, the courts should intervene.”

This is not even necessarily the precise analysis a trial court would follow if presented with the facts of the kidnap conspiracy.  The question in lay terms seems to me to be: "How much urging did you need to do something so stupid?"  And in this case, did the urging come from the FBI, or from the 45th POTUS? (That's actually been raised as a defense in the 1/6 cases, though not as a entrapment defense.) It kinda comes down to this: 

As in most matters of criminal law, it's a question of intent.  Did you intend to commit the crime; or did the government intend to convince you to commit the crime?

The newspaper narrative that "Well, now it looks like entrapment..." is as false a narrative as the one that Trump won the 2020 election.  You might just as intelligently say "It looks like the sound of an oboe." Sure, there are degrees of damage in the falsehoods, but one as as fake as the other, and based just as much on a willful misunderstanding, or just willful ignorance (what, a journalist can't ask a lawyer if that fits the legal definition?).

Eggs 🍳 And Hot Sauce

In an Einstein's Bagels 🥯 in St. Louis County when I was in seminary, I startled the young woman behind the counter by ordering a bagel with jalapeño cream cheese. She looked at me like I’d sprouted two heads and asked “For breakfast?”

I assured her I was from Texas and ate hot sauce on my scrambled eggs.

Never have been a big fan of breakfast tacos. I prefer kolaches.

Wait For It....

Yeah, maybe. And he's been kinda saying this all along. Not sure much has changed here. Or here. Except in Tennessee, where nothing has changed that I know of. Or Louisiana, according to the senior Senator from that state. Or according to the 14th Congressional District of Georgia: Well, at least FoxNews has changed its tune, right? Right? Oh, fuck it.

Metaphor

The Death Cult Approves Of Covid 19

 What is Abbott doing about it?

Even the Texas Supreme Court is more concerned with government protecting people in Texas. Because  insanity is the GOP modus operandi:

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Is Rand Paul The Tar Baby?

True, people inclined to believe Rand Paul are disinlined to listen to anything Anthony Fauci says.  
Still, the Senator accused Dr. Fauci of lying to Congress.  What Rand Paul understands about the law or stautory interpretation (or criminal prosecution, for that matter) can be written on a postage stamp with a Marks-A-Lot*.  But does Dr. Fauci do himself harm by responding to the Senator's slander per se (which is technically what occurred)?

Yeah, I don't think so.

For the first part, Fauci doesn't go looking for these confrontations with Paul, and he usually acquits himself in them by being the voice of reason and the grown-up (there is a difference between "grown-up" and "adult," as these exchanges usually illustrate) in the room.  With Paul going after Fauci personally and accusing him of lies by obfuscating (which Paul accused Fauci of doing) and "dancing around" the issue (again, Paul's words to Fauci; guilty dog barks loudest, and usually blames the other for what he is actually doing), Fauci was within his "gentleman's rights" to respond.

And he responded, as a gentleman.  This wasn't the language of "at long last, sir, have you no shame?", but it's to the same effect.  Fauci vigorously defended his integrity and his knowledge against Paul's ignorance and slanders.  Are these things good, or bad?  Well, bad if you think Fauci is trying to turn the tables on Paul.  You can't shame a whore, and you can't squash a bad idea like a bug.  Paul trades in bad ideas, and as we've had occassion more than once to point out here, bad ideas are bulletproof.  But that doesn't mean you have to tacitly accept the actions of the shooter.

Fauci responded to slanders against him.  Do Paul's acolytes hear the slander?  Or do they merely hear Paul's ignorance and see his dance?  The former, obviously; but it is not Dr. Fauci's burden to correc their thinking.  His only obligation, in the end, is to defend himself and insist on what he knows to be the truth. Fauci decried Paul's ignorance in very specific terms:  what Paul insisted had happened was "molecularly impossible."  In other words Paul might as well have been discussing transmuting lead into gold.  Fauci went further: he pointed out that the only liar in this discussion was Senator Paul.

I, for one, found the exchange enlightening.  If Fauci were to decide he was a new career as the identifier of liars, yes, that would be a problem.  Then he would be seeking encounters in order to reprise this moment.  But Fauci has never done that, and I don't expect him to start doing it now.  Therein lies his credibility:  he held his fire, his righteous indignation, his just frustration with fools who will be and always remain fools ("You can't fix stupid"), until holding was no longer an option.  When a man calls you a liar to your face, you're really better off denouncing his lies than letting him continue.

It won't stop his lies; it will buttress your credibility.  In the end, that's all Dr. Fauci has; and he knows it.


[Sen. Roger] Marshall began by holding up a 3-D printing of the COVID-19 spike protein, which he admitted "baffles me in so many ways."

Says so much about what follows:

Marshall then asked Fauci whether he agreed with a statement by Dr. David Baltimore, who called a specific characteristic of COVID-19 "the smoking gun for the origin of the virus" that makes "a powerful challenge to the idea of a natural origin."

"Dr. Baltimore, who's an extremely accomplished scientist, has backtracked on that statement, and said 'I wish I had not used the phrase smoking gun,' when it was pointed out to him that actually this is seen in a number of coronaviruses, including one of the common cold coronaviruses," Fauci responded.

"So you disagree with him?" Marshall asked.

"Well, I agree with his second statement, where he backtracked," Fauci said.

"So you disagree with his first statement," Marshall asked again. 

"And he disagrees with his first statement," Fauci responded.

"OK, he's not going to answer the question," Marshall said, before moving on to a discussion about the "S-1 sub-unit of the spike protein."

Yeah, you gotta love that one.

"I think you'll agree that the NIH funded research that led to an S-1 spike that looks very similar if not exactly like what's on the COVID 19 spike," Marshall said, reading directly from prepared notes.

"What are you referring to? Can you please be more specific?" Fauci said. "Are you talking about an experiment? Are you taking about a paper that was published?"

"I'm talking about viral research that was done using NIH funding that developed this S-1 subunit spike that looks exactly like what we have on the COVID-19 spike," Marshall said, calling it "basically the development of the key to the door, that took the original SARS and made it so it would bond to human lung cells."

"Would you agree that the spike that was developed there is also what's on COVID-19?" Marshall asked.

"That's irrelevant to anything until you have a context into which you're putting it," Fauci reiterated.

"Would you agree or disagree that it's the same spike?" Marshall said. 

"I'm not sure what you're' talking about senator," Fauci responded. "I'm really not sure what you're talking about."

Oddly, neither is the Senator.  Wonder if that exchange changed any minds among the Senator's constituents?)



*Am I dangerously dating myself with that metaphor?

Because “Lie” Is A Four-Letter Word?

That’s the line tout le Twitter is talking about. I still think this is the takeaway from that exchange: In related news, how soon will Trump publicly despise Tom Brady? Let's go to the tape!

Tell Me Again, Brian Kilmeade....

"A massive stroke struck the soul of his brain," the family said in a statement. "As his mother gathered him softly to her chest. Two hearts beating slowly... then one. He suddenly became so heavy as the soul who lit this body departed."

The boy didn't have any underlying health conditions before falling ill to the virus

"We are all now struggling here," a family member said in a statement. "To make sense of what makes no sense. He was only 5 years old. His father now broken, because he could not save him or keep him safe. His job was to help people and he took it quite seriously. But, he couldn't help his own family. But, now he will have to find himself, and stand straight and tall once again. For he still has family who needs him still. Now more than ever. His mother, whose son died in her arms knowing she did all she could but still wondered if she could change anything. But, she also still has family who needs her. So she can't stop. A little sister who will miss her big brother. All the animals are grieving too."

The family lives on a farm in northwest Georgia, where the boy helped out with chores and played with the animals they kept there.

"He loved to play outside, help in the yard, and help with the horses," his father said in a Facebook post. "He loved the horses and the dogs. He was full of love, and brightened everyone's world. Wyatt would wave to strangers in the grocery store, because he knew that it absolutely made their day. In a way I know that you're still here, but I miss you so damn much! I wish this was one adventure that you did not start... I have lost my best friend."

It's not clear whether either parent was vaccinated, but Wyatt would have been well below age of eligibility, and Gordon County, where the family lives, has only 31 percent vaccination rates and Whitfield County only 36 percent, reported Georgia Public Broadcasting.

Health experts believe at least 70-percent vaccination rates are necessary to stop the spread of the virus, whose highly contagious delta variant is quickly circulating across the country.

New cases are up nearly 70 percent over the previous week, while hospitalizations have jumped nearly 36 percent.

Tell me again it's just a matter of choice, and that government doesn't exist to protect people, especially the smallest and most vulnerable among us.  Tell me again, so I know what a gutless, soulless waste of space you are.